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Recent Publications by New English Review Authors
The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Impact of Islam
by Emmet Scott
Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
by Ibn Warraq
Fighting the Retreat from Arabia and the Gulf: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly. Vol. 1
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Literary Culture of France
by J. E. G. Dixon
Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays
by David P. Gontar
Farewell Fear
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Eagle and The Bible: Lessons in Liberty from Holy Writ
by Kenneth Hanson
The West Speaks
interviews by Jerry Gordon
Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy
Emmet Scott
Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
Ibn Warraq
Anything Goes
by Theodore Dalrymple
Karimi Hotel
De Nidra Poller
The Left is Seldom Right
by Norman Berdichevsky
Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
by Ibn Warraq
An Introduction to Danish Culture
by Norman Berdichevsky
The New Vichy Syndrome:
by Theodore Dalrymple
Jihad and Genocide
by Richard L. Rubenstein
Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
by Norman Berdichevsky



















These are all the Blogs posted on Tuesday, 1, 2012.
Tuesday, 1 May 2012
Imam under investigation

An update on this report. From the Bristol Post via This is Bristol

POLICE are investigating claims that a Muslim leader in Easton was caught on camera advocating female genital mutilation.

The Imam of Masjid al-Huda mosque on Fox Road was allegedly filmed by an undercover reporter from a national newspaper urging a follower to take women and girls abroad to have parts of their genitalia removed. The practice, known as FGM, was banned in the UK in 2003 and it is also illegal to encourage anyone to carry it out overseas.

The footage was obtained by the Sunday Times when a reporter posed as a Muslim seeking advice.

During a meeting at the mosque, the Imam is reported to have said: "In this country, it is not possible, we cannot do that. The only advice I can give you, if you can, if possible, take your sister or your daughter to other countries that allows, it's no problem."

Police spokeswoman Claire Stanley said: "Information has been provided to the police and the substance of this is being reviewed prior to any decision being made on the way forward. We remain committed to working with our partners on an ongoing basis to tackle this very serious issue and are in consultation with them."

When contacted by the Post, a representative of the mosque declined to name the imam allegedly involved or to put a reporter in touch with him. He would not comment further, other than to say that the case was with the mosque's "legal advisors". I don't know what the Post is worried about - the Mail of Sunday was quite clear - his name is Mohammed Abdul

People convicted of being involved in or facilitating FGM can be jailed for up to 14 years but so far in the UK there have been no prosecutions. Don't hold your breath about this being the first.

Posted on 05/01/2012 2:25 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 1 May 2012
Call for security at Tower Hamlets ballot stations 'to stop fraud' in Mayor poll

From the London Evening Standard

Scotland Yard today launched a probe into “unprecedented” evidence of voter fraud in a key London borough less than 48 hours before the mayoral and assembly polls open. Worried councillors are now calling for election security to be tightened in Tower Hamlets to prevent a repeat of alleged irregularities said to have contributed to the shock by-election defeat of a Labour candidate in a previously safe seat earlier this month.

The Met said it would investigate claims the poll in the Banglatown and Spitalfields ward had been rigged giving victory to Gulam Robbani, an independent candidate backed by the borough’s mayor Lutfur Rahman. He won by just 43 votes.

An investigation by the Standard earlier this year revealed the ward was vulnerable to widespread election fraud. One-in-seven of the postal votes cast in a by-election in Spitalfields and Banglatown earlier this month was found to be “fake”

Coun Peter Golds, the borough’s Tory leader, said: “These allegations have flown around Tower Hamlets for many years and in great detail, yet previous police inquiries have amounted to little more than perfunctory checks before saying everything is OK. The Evening Standard has been running stories on the situation for the best part of a decade. I have been raising my own concerns for several years. At last it feels like we might be getting somewhere.
There are all sorts of measures that need to be brought in. They need to check every postal vote. They need to stop large groups of men from hanging around outside polling stations with copies of the electoral register giving out names to people as they turn up.”

Concerns came to a head this month when Labour lost a formerly safe council seat in Spitalfields and Banglatown.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “On the afternoon of Thursday, 26 April the MPS received an allegation from the Electoral Commission relating to potential fraudulent registration of voters in Tower Hamlets. We are currently investigating this allegation plus a further allegation of offences linked to a recent by-election in Tower Hamlets received on Saturday, 28 April."

Tower Hamlets Council were unable to comment last night.

The first comment - "Labour losing seats to a bunch of corrupt illegal immigrants. Is anybody else enjoying the delicious irony of this?"

Update this evening.

Police officers are to be stationed at every polling station in Tower Hamlets after the Met launched an official investigation into allegations of electoral fraud. Officers will man all 70 polling locations in the borough on Thursday alongside borough enforcement officers to prevent voter intimidation.

The measures come as the Met launched an investigation into “unprecedented” evidence of voter fraud in the key London borough less than 48 hours before the mayoral polls open. Police sources today admitted the measures were unusual.

At last it feels like we might be getting somewhere.” Joshua Peck, leader of the council’s Labour group, said: “The issue goes deeper — having police at a polling station is not going to prevent some of the things that have been going on — about whether people are legitimately on the register.”

Posted on 05/01/2012 2:54 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 1 May 2012
Seven arrested over claims they helped fund terrorism

This was on US newsfeeds over an hour before the British press published the news. The Sun has a particualrly tasty piece of information.

SEVEN people have been arrested on suspicion they helped fund terrorism. Elite cops from the Metropolitan Police’s counter-terrorism command swooped on the six men and a woman in dawn raids in in London, Coventry and Cardiff today.

They included a 45-year-old woman and 49-year-old man in Croydon, south London, two men aged 30 and 47 in Brent, north London, two men aged 42 and 45 in Coventry, West Mids, and a 40-year-old man in Cardiff. They are all being held at a central London police station on suspicion of helping fund terrorism overseas and laundering the proceeds of crime for that purpose, police said.

The pre-planned intelligence–led operation involved America’s Department of Homeland Security and officers from the UK’s counter terrorism network and UK Border Agency (UKBA).

The arrests centred on a suspected plot to illegal export the stimulant khat to the US and Canada where it is a controlled substance. It is legal in the UK. Very popular with Somalis and Yemenis is khat - enjoyed in cafes they call marfish.

A further seven residential addresses in London, Worthing, and Coventry, and a business premises in Coventry were being searched.

Posted on 05/01/2012 4:58 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 1 May 2012
May Day

Every year for over 500 years the choir of Magdalen College of Oxford University have welcomed May Day morning by singing the Hymnus Eucharisticus from the top of Magdalen Tower.

.

Festivities continue on the ground.


Most of the ancient towns and cities have their own May Day tradition. Even the Marxists who hate St George's Day are happy to take the ancient working class holiday of Beltane and turn it into an international anti-capitalist annual riot.  

Posted on 05/01/2012 7:47 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 1 May 2012
The Devil Made Me Do It

Choice is one of those issues that never leave the headlines for very long. The latest brouhaha began when Hilary Rosen, a Democratic Party advisor, claimed that Mitt Romney’s wife, mother of five, grandmother to 16, “never worked a day in her life.” What Rosen meant was that stay-at-home moms don’t contribute to the world of commerce as a plumber, or a lobbyist, might. Put aside for a moment things like tact or facts; and consider why an advisor or strategist would sneer at the rigors of motherhood on national television, in an election year – just a few weeks before Mother’s Day! The controversy echoes Hillary Clinton’s wild shot at women who bake at home.

As is often the case in these matters, the follow-on apologetics made a poor choice worse. Ms. Rosen quickly took to the airwaves to change the subject, claiming that, unlike Ann Romney, most women couldn’t choose between mothering and the workplace; asserting that wives are compelled to work outside the home. Rosen’s claim was quickly endorsed by President Obama who insisted, on the one hand, that political spouses should be off limits; then with the other hand, dragged his wife, Michelle, into the fray; claiming that even the distaff half of a breeding pair of lawyers, with a mid-six-figure income, had to work outside the home to make ends meet. The president argued, like Rosen, that wives don’t have choices; implying that they are victims - of economic circumstance. Never mind that claiming mothers (compared to fathers?) are not free to choose is at once condescending or patronizing. Indeed, the very phrase “working mothers” is at best a pleonasm.

Two of the four principals in this controversy are lawyers. You might think that litigators would have a better grip on facts, rhetoric, and precedent; but the real agenda here may be political, not economic or moral. The Rosen/Obama trope casts women working outside of the home as victims, not free agents. Or perhaps Rosen and the president merely confused no choice with poor choice.

Clearly, circumstances might mitigate a choice, but by tradition and common law, circumstances do not determine, control, or preordain. Unless the defense of poor choice is insanity, mothers are as liable for their selections as anybody. Custom and legal praxis does not support the Rosen/Obama twist on compulsion, on choice, on free will - or any related notions. 

Arguments about free will and choice have an antique lineage. The decisive moment for Western culture came in the 16th Century when two Augustinian Monks, Desiderious Erasmus and Martin Luther, squared off in the middle of the Reformation. Luther landed the first blow by claiming that free will didn’t matter in matters of salvation. Fra Martin argued that an omnipotent God knew and predestined the fate of all men; some were saved and others were destined to burn. No amount of good works could lead to salvation. Luther’s argument is similar to what you might hear from empiricists today; just substitute biology, illness, or natural forces for God’s omniscience – or the devil’s grip.

(Flip Wilson, an American comedian with a finger on the pulse of modern absurdities used to justify his comedic antics with: “The devil made me do it!” Using the devil as an excuse for human frailties was given more than a little traction at the beginning of the modern era by Martin Luther.)

Back at the Reformation, Fra Erasmus replied to Luther that knowledge of good and evil was not destiny; just as a scholar’s knowledge of planetary movements did not influence those motions. He further claimed that free will was a gift to humanity; the capacity to choose between good and evil and suffer the consequences; rewards or punishment. Erasmus also argued that there would be no need for God’s commandments (or man’s law) if men and women were not responsible for choices or behavior. Clear lines between church and state had yet to be drawn in the 16th Century. Still, the arguments of Erasmus had obvious civic significance.

Verily, these arguments were made in a day when morality was a serious issue in the public square, not the quaint historical artifact it has become. Nonetheless, over time, the views of Erasmus prevailed even in the secular world. Today, all notions of individual accountability, law, and democracy itself are based on an accepted understanding of free will. Indeed, the act of voting in a democracy is free men and women, freely choosing – and living peacefully with the consequences. Voting is true choice.

Political assaults on free will today, like those of Rosen and Obama, are not as convincing as they are selective. The contemporary understanding of “choice” is an example. Choice will usually be invoked when one or more options are inconvenient, burdensome, or selfish. Marriage, children, birth control, abortion, sexual proclivities, and even racial identity are examples.

Conversely, politicized notions of choice, or options, are seldom invoked when it comes to matters like: substance abuse, welfare, minimum wages, union membership, quotas, hiring, immigration, grade inflation, graduation standards, criminality, and now spouses in the marketplace it seems. In these cases, choice is often denied. A drunk, an addict, a dropout, or now a woman with two jobs is thought to be impaired, like a disabled veteran, as if choice had nothing to do with personal or even national destinies.

Indeed, many traditional cultures in the European Union, stimulated by generous welfare, labor, and immigration policies, are being displaced by primitive avatars. The no-go zones of France and northern Europe are egregious symptoms. Liberal immigration policies can be a value added, but when it morphs into colonization, the effects are far from salutary. Again, voting is choosing. Democratic choice in Brussels may be excising the adjective “European” from the noun Union.

Personal choices too, in concert, have enormous consequences. The correlation between selective notions of free will and poor choice has not gone unnoticed by science. 

Take the cumulative impact of no marriage, late marriage, birth control, abortion, and same sex unions among citizens of the free world. As Dr. Charles Murray points out, such choices are not the conceits of a selfish elite or an oppressed underclass anymore; these choices in America are now made by largely white middle and blue collar classes. Individually, each of the above options might be defended as progressive choices, but collectively they amount to a kind of biological or cultural nihilism, if not national suicide. The worst collective choices are often made with innocuous personal motives. Free will does not warranty good choices.

As Erasmus might have said, individuals and nations are responsible for their choices, good or bad, nonetheless. Free will is destiny; consequence is the price of choice.

In spite of what empiricists, lobbyists, or presidents might claim; we are not controlled or compelled by gods, devils, natural forces, or economic circumstances. And we are not free because we reside in a place called democracy. We are free only if we believe in free will - not moral evasions or selfish notions of “choice.”

 

Posted on 05/01/2012 9:18 AM by G. Murphy Donovan
Tuesday, 1 May 2012
Hausman: Mainstream Jews Ignore Antisemitism on the Left

Occupy Wall Street Protest Poster
Source: The Blaze

Today is May Day,  a traditional Labor Socialist  and Communist  propaganda global event. Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movements around the globe are marching in alliance protesting against  the economic elite, the 1% whom these leftist anarchist rail against controling the government, media and the economy demanding reparations, jobs and income equality. Unfortunately, the OWS and the leftist allies have also propounded antisemitism in the guise of resurrecting the hoary Czarist forgery, the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. The libelous antisemitic Protocols were insinuated in Hitler's Mein Kampf about to be re-published in Germany, published by Henry Ford in The Dearborn Independent, utlized in the agitprop of Leninist-Trotskyite-Stalinist Communism and in the Jew hatred Islamic  doctrine of Muslim Brotherhood ideologues like Yusuf al-Qaradawi. The OWS movement has been accused of being coopted by anti-Israel groups like Code Pink, involved with organizing the Free Gaza Flotillas and  the International Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement of pro-Palestinian actvists involved with the recent failed  Global March to Jerusalem and Flytilla protest events. Mathew Hausman in a recent Israpundit article, "Mainstream Jews Ignore Antisemitism on the Left", raises the seeming indifference of Jewish media and leaders about the OWS movement's resurrection of this recurring antisemitic libel. 

In his article he notes:

Jewish establishment organizations have been reluctant to criticize the movement for creating an environment in which “progressive” antisemites seem welcome and comfortable. Given their visibility at OWS protests, it is difficult to accept the facile explanation that the movement has no anti-Jewish bias, but that it simply cannot control all of its supporters’ conduct. The sophistry in such reasoning is exposed by the growing presence in the Occupy camp of groups such as the radical Islamic Circle of North America (“ICNA”) and the Muslim-American Society, which is related to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Read this extensive analysis by Hausman and reflect on why liberal Jews have given a pass to the perpetuation of antisemitic libel by  the OWS movement and their Muslim Brotherhood allies in the West .

Mainstream Jews Ignore Antisemitism on the Left
by Matthew Hausman

How many times must the political left slander Israel and malign Jewish values before American Jews finally admit that it is fundamentally antisemitic? Evidence of Jew-hatred on the left abounds, and yet liberals often deny its existence or, worse, rationalize it as a response to Jewish particularism. Then there are those Jews who peddle hateful anti-Israel rhetoric themselves and who serve to shield their radical compatriots from accusations of bigotry. Progressive extremists disparage Israel in the vilest terms and support Islamists who preach genocide, but deny charges of antisemitism by pointing to leftist Jews who do the same. How can they be antisemitic, they ask, when even some Jews denigrate Israel and support the Palestinians? Unfortunately, many liberals fail to see the nuanced disingenuity of the question and, thereby, excuse radical hatred through ignorance or naiveté. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the trivialization of reported antisemitism within Occupy Wall Street (“OWS”).

The movement since its beginning has attracted left-wing activists, some of whom accuse Jews of controlling American foreign policy, dominating the world economy, and enforcing apartheid in Israel. Supporters in public parks and on college campuses promote boycott, divestment and sanctions (“BDS”) initiatives, which are inherently antisemitic, and attribute to the mythologized “Jewish Lobby” a nefarious agenda lifted straight from the fraudulent “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

There is photographic evidence aplenty of signs bearing slogans like, “Occupy Wall Street not Palestine,” (http://palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=17208), “Google Zionists: Control Wall Street,” (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jag9889/6427530173), and “Nazi Bankers Wall Street,” (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jimkiernan/6201783073/), from New York’s Zuccotti Park; or “Humanity vs. the Rothschilds” and “It’s Yom Kippur, Banks should Atone!” from Occupy LA (http://pjmedia.com/tatler/2011/10/13/more-anti-semitism-at-occupy-los-angeles/). Likewise, there are many videos of protestors engaging in hate speech, including those at Occupy LA railing against “masonic and Jewish bankers” and accusing “Zionists and Jews” of controlling the Federal Reserve (http://pjmedia.com/tatler/2011/10/13/more-anti-semitism-at-occupy-los-angeles/.); those at Occupy D.C. proclaiming that “criminal Zionists” and “Jews with Israeli citizenship” run the U.S. government (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtwS4AUFbJU); and those in Zuccotti Park claiming that Barack Obama is “in the pocket” of Israel and the Jews. (This latter accusation – laughable given the president’s disgraceful treatment of Israel since his first days in office – shows the delusional depths of radical Jew-hatred.)

  (READ MORE)

Posted on 05/01/2012 9:38 AM by Jerry Gordon
Tuesday, 1 May 2012
Documents give new details on al Qaeda's London bombings

From CNN. Editor's note: This story is based on a 46-page internal al Qaeda document, details of which were obtained by CNN. A senior U.S. counterterrorism official told CNN that U.S. authorities have concluded it was written by British al Qaeda operative Rashid Rauf. It was discovered by German cryptologists, along with more than 100 other documents, embedded inside a pornographic movie on a memory disk belonging to a suspected al Qaeda operative arrested in Berlin last May. The German newspaper Die Zeit was the first to report on the documents.

(CNN) -- Rashid Rauf was one of al Qaeda's most capable planners, a British citizen who operated for years in Pakistan and planned some of the terror group's most ambitious attacks. And he wrote about them in great detail.

Rauf's detailed analysis -- meant for al Qaeda's senior leadership -- shows he was intimately involved in planning the devastating attack on the London transport system in 2005, and tells the inside story of the planning for that attack and another that failed just weeks later.

On July 7, 2005, four suicide bombers led by Mohammed Siddique Khan, a British citizen of Pakistani descent, killed 52 people on three London subway trains and a bus. Rauf's document describes how he recruited both Siddique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer, the two senior members of the conspiracy. He arranged explosives training for them in the tribal areas of Pakistan and communicated with them extensively in the months leading up to the attacks.

Rauf described how in order to throw the intelligence services off their scent, Siddique Khan and Tanweer pretended to be "un-Islamic" -- going to the cinema and joking loudly to each other.

Rauf wrote that after leaving Islamabad, where he had housed them for a while, he travelled with the duo to the tribal areas to meet with a senior al Qaeda operative he called "Haji." U.S. intelligence believes this was Abu Ubaidah al Masri, then a leading member of al Qaeda's external operations unit, who died in late 2007.

"He would guide us throughout," Rauf wrote. "His experience in Europe and technical knowledge of explosives was important to the operation." According to Rauf, meeting with Haji had a "profound effect on the brothers." It took Haji just a few days to persuade the duo to conduct a suicide bombing in the UK.

Rauf wrote that Haji arranged for a trainer called Marwan Suri to provide bomb-making training using hexamine peroxide detonators and hydrogen peroxide. Siddique Khan and Tanweer test-detonated a 300-gram hydrogen peroxide mixture in the tribal areas. "Siddique was always saying to me I hope these mixtures are as good as you say they are. After he tested the mixtures he was very happy," Rauf wrote.

Rauf wrote that he himself supervised the recording of the duo's martyrdom tape in a house in Islamabad they were renting after their training. Rauf recalled being annoyed because there was no natural light. The duo were reluctant to make the recordings because they were shy but had agreed because Haji had ordered them to.

Rauf said that the three potential targets given to them were the Bank of England, the upcoming G-8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, scheduled for July 6-8, 2005, or the London Underground. Rauf agreed on a series of code words for future communication with Siddique Khan. The two bombers were instructed not to do anything for three weeks after returning to Britain, in case British intelligence was suspicious about their trip to Pakistan.

Rauf described how the duo then began purchasing bomb components, including hydrogen peroxide in gardening stores, hexamine in camping stove fuel and citric acid, which was easily available. Rauf described communicating with Siddique Khan through e-mails, phone calls and, most usefully, Yahoo Messenger.

British authorities established after the attack that Siddique Khan, Tanweer and two suicide bombers they had recruited in the UK -- Germaine Lindsey and Hasib Hussain -- traveled to London in June 2005 to conduct surveillance of targets. Rauf wrote that after conducting the surveillance, it was decided to attack trains at four London Underground stations.

Shortly before the attack, Siddique Khan began to boil down hydrogen peroxide to turn into explosives in an apartment in Leeds. But he told Rauf he was unsure he had reduced it to the correct strength. Rauf wrote that he provided Siddique Khan with technical guidance to ensure he got the bomb mixture right.

When the bombers travelled to London on the morning of July 7, 2005, they were instructed to leave the tops off the containers containing their explosives to prevent their overheating. As a further precaution, they stored the bombs in breathable Gore-Tex bags. "With the blessings of Allah I think it rained on the day of the attacks which means the weather was cooler," wrote Rauf.

Just before 8:50 a.m., three of the suicide bombers detonated their devices on subway trains. The fourth bomber -- Hasib Hussain -- was delayed and arrived at King's Cross subway station to find it closed. He then went to a McDonald's before detonating his device on a bus. Rauf wrote that from the media accounts, he concluded that in the McDonald's, Hussain was checking to see if the gas had been released or not.

Rauf was far from finished with his campaign to terrorize London. He already had another team preparing to attack the transport system. On July 21 four men led by Muktar Said Ibrahim, an Eritrean immigrant to the UK, attempted to detonate bombs on public transport -- and were unsuccessful only because the main charge of their explosive devices failed to detonate.

Of the four bomb plotters, only Ibrahim traveled to Pakistan. The others were recruited by Ibrahim into the plot in the UK.

"This is confirmation that al Qaeda was behind the 7/21 plot as well -- something I don't think was clear before," Yassin Musharbash, the Die Zeit journalist who first reported on the documents, told CNN. Rauf's document for the first time provides compelling evidence that the plot was planned by al Qaeda "central" in Pakistan.

Like the 7/7 duo, Ibrahim's group was driven to tribal areas of Pakistan and introduced to Haji, the senior al Qaeda operative. But whereas Siddique Khan's group successfully detonated a 300-gram hydrogen peroxide bomb when they were training in Pakistan, something went very wrong when Ibrahim's group attempted to blow up two test devices. As he stood back a distance, Ibrahim saw his two friends killed by the explosion.

According to Rauf, Ibrahim had to leave Pakistan before he felt confident in making explosives from hydrogen peroxide because his visa was going to expire in a few days. Rauf blamed his lack of preparation in part on the fact Ibrahim was trained by a less methodical bomb-making instructor than the 7/7 plotters.

When the abortive attacks took place, Rauf wrote he only found out that Ibrahim was involved when his identity was revealed by the media. Rauf wrote that he regretted he had not been able to communicate with Ibrahim and pass on the same technical fixes he had provided the 7/7 plotters as they prepared their attack.

"It was their lack of technical knowledge that caused the problem," Rauf wrote.

Posted on 05/01/2012 11:19 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 1 May 2012
Egyptian Resentment Of Saudis Finds Its Outlet

From Middle East News:

SAUDI ARREST LAYS BARE EGYPTIAN RESENTMENTS

Long suppressed, anger at kingdom’s treatment of expats emerges in protests

CAIRO – Yussif Gamal smiled widely as he watched a group of Egyptian protesters spray paint on the walls of the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Cairo.

Ostensibly, the demonstration he was joining is aimed at freeing Egyptian human rights lawyer Ahmed El-Gizawi, whose arrest by Saudi authorities created a firestorm of protests and led Riyadh to recall its ambassador. But for Gamal, like many other Egyptians, there is a subtext to their anger and it is the treatment of the million or so Egyptian guest workers in Saudi Arabia.

“I think the Saudi government will have to realize the Egyptian people are no longer weak,” Gamal told The Media Line. “We are ready to make this a struggle for El-Gizawi and our dignity as workers.”

Some 1.7 million Egyptians work in Saudi Arabia, according to the United Nations International Labor Organization (ILO), and some estimates put the number higher. They help fill a shortage of skilled labor in the wealthy, oil-rich kingdom while alleviating unemployment back in Egypt and sending hundreds of millions of dollars to their families at home, providing critical foreign exchange.

But Egyptians, like other expatriate workers in Saudi Arabia, are subject to discrimination and abuse. Among the biggest problems is the system of sponsorship, or kafala, under which foreigners can work in the country only if they have a sponsor, who organizes contracts, salaries, visas and repatriation. Sponsors often use that control to exploit workers by taking away their passport or iqama (residence permit) or by failing to pay wages on time.

Gamal knows the reality of working in Saudi Arabia: In 2006, he left Cairo shortly after finishing his medical degree to work in a hospital in Riyadh. He was optimistic about his first professional appointment, but his mood quickly changed after his sponsor refused to allow him to return home to visit his ailing mother.

Two years later, with his mother’s condition worsening, Gamal decided he would not renew his contract with the hospital. But his Saudi sponsor refused to return his passport, forcing him to stay in the country.

“That was when I sought legal help, and although I finally got my passport and was able to leave the country, I heard about this man El-Gizawi, who was helping Egyptians like me, who faced bad conditions in Saudi,” Gamal says, as cheers erupted once more in front of the embassy building.

To the Saudis’ misfortune, El-Gizawi’s arrest has served to point up the kind of abuses Gamal suffered. El-Gizawi flew to Saudi Arabia on April 17 to take part in the umrah pilgrimage but was arrested upon arrival on charges of hiding more than 20,000 Xanax anti-anxiety pills in his luggage. Xanax is banned in the kingdom. With drug-related crimes in Saudi Arabia penalized with lengthy jail terms and possible death, El-Gizawi’s situation remains tenuous and far from being solved.

Egyptian human rights activists say the charges are false and that the real reason the Saudis detained him is because El-Gizawi is a prominent figure in the fight for the rights of Egyptian guest workers in the kingdom.

El-Gizawi had recently filed a suit against the Saudi government on behalf of hundreds of Egyptian guest workers over its refusal to take action against the horrific conditions.

The protests prompted Saudi Arabia to close its embassy in Cairo and recall its ambassador, Ahmed Abdel Aziz Al-Qattan. Even though the Egyptian government – controlled by an interim military council – has sought to make amends, relations between the two countries are at their lowest since Hosni Mubarak was ousted as president 15 months ago.

Under Mubarak any signs of popular anger over Saudi treatment of Egyptian guest workers would have been suppressed. But even if public protests were discouraged, the huge numbers of Egyptians working in the kingdom ensured that stories leaked back home and fueled resentment.

One of the most well-known cases involved an Egyptian doctor accused of causing the death of a Saudi citizen while on the job in 2010. Fady Samuel Bannon Bishay’s case sparked major concerns about the rights of workers in the kingdom. Bishay denied the charges, saying he was wrongfully charged by a Saudi royal, and sentenced to jail.

The Egyptian Embassy in Riyadh has also faced massive criticism over its handling of the debacle, which has been seen as supporting the Saudi charges. Aside from the important role worker remittances play in the Egyptian economy, Saudi Arabia is also a major trade partner, investor and source of tourism for Egypt.

“We know they are lying and the Egyptian ambassador to Saudi is a former Mubarak-era official who has long been known to sit close with the Saudi palace,” says Salem, a 28-year-old migrant worker, who asked not be identified by his full name. He told The Media Line that he had bitter experiences as a guest worker in Saudi Arabia in recent years. “They treat us like second class citizens.”

Rights and activist groups in Egypt are directing their demands for the release of El-Gizawi toward their own government as much as at Riyadh. They are demanding that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), the interim military government, step-up pressure on Saudi Arabia to free El-Gizawi.

“Everyone should forget Mubarak’s Egypt, we are not second class citizens and everyone should fear the new revolutionary Egypt that will preserve its people’s dignity,” says Engy Hamdy, member of the political office of the 6th of April movement, the opposition group leading the protests.

“It is as if Mubarak and Suleiman passed their experience in framing people to the Saudi side,” Hamdy said in a statement, referring the latter case to Omar Suleiman, Mubarak’s former intelligence chief.

The group has accused the Saudi authorities of lying about the charges and has demanded they release the video capturing the procedures of arresting El-Gizawi. El-Gizawi’s wife, who was with him when he was arrested, told Egyptian television that her husband was arrested before the luggage was searched.

Mahmoud Afifi, head of the group’s media office, said last week that the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has insulted Egyptians abroad by neglecting their rights and failing to come to the aid of El-Gizawi.

The ministry said in response to the protests that it is “tentatively” following the case and is in contract with its Saudi counterparts, but it made no mention of the drug smuggling allegations. On the other hand, the Egyptian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, lashed out at the public response in Egypt, denouncing the mass demonstrations and calling El-Gizawi a “drug smuggler.”

Many Egyptians residing in Saudi Arabia attacked the ambassador through social media. One called him “a royal place dog” and accused him of working against Egyptians, neglecting their every demand and never intervening to help.

Another who works in the Saudi commercial center of Jeddah said on Facebook that in order to get the ambassador to intervene, one must get a recommendation of a Saudi royal, as he only listens to them. Others have called for the resignation from the ambassador, who was appointed Mubarak, accusing him of being corrupt and still loyal to the former dictatorship.

Labor activist and legal aid worker Ahmed Nobar, who has penned reports for the ILO, told The Media Line that the time has come to finally “come to an understanding that the Gulf nations and Saudi Arabia cannot use Egyptian citizens for their own purposes without facing justice in the face.”

For Gamal and others, who know the struggle of workers first hand, they hope that change is coming. “We want our dignity back and El-Gizawi can give that to us, and we will stay ready to fight.”

Posted on 05/01/2012 11:28 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 1 May 2012
Erecting a Tomb to Irish Sovereignty

Installations have always seemed the genre best suited for people whose ambition to be an artist is greater than their willingness to acquire the skills necessary to become one. Occasionally, however, clever installations are effective in conveying a message, symbolizing a tragedy, or drawing attention to an absurdity. For example, the reality (and absurdity) of hyperinflation was once beautifully captured for me by a Brazilian artist who strung a yards-long snake of blocks of valueless bank-notes, twisting and turning, across a room, threaded together by a string.

In Dublin, the artist Frank Buckley has constructed the interior walls of his flat with bricks made of shredded, de-commissioned Euro bank notes—with a face value of 1.4 billion Euros—that the Irish mint gave him for this purpose. All the furniture in the flat, including the microwave and the lavatory, is also lined with the shredded notes. He calls the lavatory “the Bertie bowl,” after Bertie Ahern, the now- discredited prime minister who presided over and benefited politically from the Irish property bubble that has indebted the country for decades to come. Buckley experienced Ireland’s economic problems first hand: his house in County Wicklow was repossessed after its value declined to less than he had borrowed to buy it.

Ireland having since been placed more or less under the tutelage of the European Central Bank, the European Union, and the International Monetary Fund, Buckley has erected a tomb to Irish sovereignty in one of his flat’s three rooms. Initially intended as a private home—Buckley has praised shredded Euro bank notes for their heat-insulating quality—his flat, literally made of money, soon had so many visitors that he decided to open it as a museum. Robert Ballagh, designer of the last Irish bank notes before the country’s fateful adoption of the common currency, opened the museum with little ceremony, saying that it “asks important questions of us, of the nature of our society, of our obsession with money and property, and how that has brought us to the state we are in.”

Missing from this list of questions is whether the creation of the single currency was a good idea in the first place, and whether, being so flawed in conception, it was not bound to lead to great difficulties if not outright catastrophe—and finally, what its progenitors really thought (or hoped) they were doing.

First published in City Journal.

Posted on 05/01/2012 11:33 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
Tuesday, 1 May 2012
Porn files reveal Al-Qaeda master plan to terrorize Europe

The document analysed by CNN here wasn't the only one hidden in the porn film. Russia Today has more.

The documents were found by the German Federal Criminal Police in mid-March 2011 after they arrested a man called Maqsood Lodin. Investigators suspect that the Austrian received training in a terrorist camp in Pakistan and was planning to establish a sleeper cell in Germany.

The man had several memory cards hidden in his clothes, when he was being detained. Among the files on them was a pornographic movie called “Kick Ass” and a file named “Sexy Tanja” the German newspaper Die Zeit reports.

Apparently the leadership of the terrorist network is unhappy with its inability to perform a major attack in the West over recent years. The documents indicate that the case of Lodin and another man, Yusuf Ocak, who allegedly received the same training in the same camp and was returning to Europe with Lodin, is part of a strategy to change that.

They and many others were to form a number of sleeper cells in Europe which would be available for eventual attacks. Al-Qaeda envisioned a twofold action plan, with a number of small terrorist attacks launched one after another to distract law enforcers and keep them pre-occupied. While this happened, a large-scale operation would be in the works unnoticed by the authorities.

The documents, called “Future Works”, outline a number of possible ways a major terrorist attacks could be carried out. One idea is to seize a cruise liner, take the crew and passengers hostage and start shooting prisoners in front of cameras unless the terrorists’ demands are met. The approach is referred to as “taking jihad to the sea” in the roadmap.

Posted on 05/01/2012 11:30 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 1 May 2012
Yvan Rioufol And The 100-Man Muslim March Against Muslim Murderers

La mobilisation ratée des musulmans contre le terrorisme

276 Commentaires
La manifestation parisienne avait pour objectif de rassembler les musulmans de France afin qu’ils dénoncent les tueries de Toulouse et Montauban, perpétrées il y a cinq semaines par Mohamed Merah. En réalité, la "marche citoyenne" s’est transformée, dimanche après-midi place de la Bastille, en un petit meeting de moins de cent personnes réunies autour de l’imam de Drancy, Hassen Chalghoumi, qui ne se déplace plus sans son garde du corps. Une poignée de radicaux ont même réussi à noyauter ce qui devait être la dénonciation publique, par des musulmans eux-mêmes, de l’islamisme et du terrorisme. Alors que l’imam Chalghoumi  s’est courageusement engagé pour un respect par l’islam de l’espace public, en prenant ses distances avec le concept d’islamophobie  ("l’islamophobie ne doit pas devenir le dogme qui censure les débats", écrit-il dans son livre Pour l’islam de France, Editions du Cherche Midi), les organisateurs ont laissé déployer une, plus deux, puis trois banderoles dénonçant "le terrorisme et l’islamophobie", tandis qu’une jeune femme voilée attirait une partie des médias présents pour se plaindre de son sort. Bref, un fiasco.

Malgré cet échec et la mollesse des organisateurs qui se sont laissés si facilement déborder,  je veux soutenir encore l’iman de Drancy dans son discours républicain et dans sa volonté de promouvoir un islam humaniste.  Mais je ne suis pas aveugle. Je vois bien que tout est fait pour le décourager de poursuivre dans la voie qu’il propose, quand il écrit par exemple : "Faisons un grand et profond travail d’introspection et d’autocritique(…) Le mal est chez nous, je n’ose pas dire en nous". Jamais Hassen Chalghoumi  n’est apparu aussi isolé et vulnérable que ce dimanche à la Bastille. Le grand vainqueur de cette première bataille perdue est évidemment l’islam politique, qui exècre cet homme qui entend lutter "contre l’islamisme, contre l’antisémitisme, contre le sectarisme, contre le fascisme, contre le moindre souffle de terrorisme , contre toute haine qui se camoufle dans la religion, contre l’ingérence étrangère dans l’islam de France , contre la belligérance que veulent entretenir certains politiques français contre l’islam". Au fait, où sont passées les belles âmes ?

PS : "Mais qui l’arrêtera ?" questionne L’Humanité Dimanche au sujet de votre serviteur dans un article titré "Les nouveaux délires d‘Ivan Rioufol". Il m’est fait procès d’avoir tenu des propos "révisionnistes" pour  avoir déclaré, dans un entretien à  Oumma.tv au sujet des tueries de  Toulouse : "Jamais même lors de l’occupation nazie en France un homme n’a tiré une balle dans la tête de trois enfants juifs dans la cour d’une école". Je persiste et je signe, évidemment. Mais je m’étonne de la bienveillance de L’Humanité Dimanche pour les nouveaux petits nazillons.
Posted on 05/01/2012 3:05 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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