These are all the Blogs posted on Wednesday, 12, 2011.
Wednesday, 12 January 2011
Iraqi fishermen kill Kuwaiti coast guard
We've fought two wars there to save them from themselves and each other, and spent trillions of dollars and thousands of our soldiers' lives, and they still kill each other at the drop of a hat. More evidence of the peace that Islam inculcates, and of the brotherly love that Muslims share for each other. By Saad Abdul-Ladir for AP:
BAGHDAD – Iraqi fishermen killed a Kuwaiti coast guard officer during a shootout in one of the more serious incidents between the neighboring countries in years, Iraqi officials said Tuesday.
Tensions between Iraq and Kuwait have been strained since the 1990 invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein and the narrow body of water between the two countries has yet to be clearly demarcated making it a lingering flashpoint.
There have been constant, low-level incidents between the two countries along the narrow waterway that separates them, with Iraqi fishermen complaining of harassment by Kuwaitis and the Kuwaiti government maintaining that the fishermen do not respect their boundaries.
But the latest incident on Monday will be a top topic of discussion between Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheik Nasser Al Mohammed Al Sabah when he visits Baghdad on Wednesday, said Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh. Iraq's government said Tuesday it will investigate the clash.
Al-Dabbagh said a Kuwaiti officer was killed in the skirmish in the Gulf, and his men responded by sinking the Iraqi boat.
Al-Dabbagh said four Iraqi fishermen were then detained by the Kuwaitis. Iraqi authorities are questioning another five Iraqis involved in the incident. [Who are they, and how are they involved?]
He gave no details about what sparked the shootout and said "such regrettable incidents" should not affect the good relations between the two countries. He said Al Sabah is visiting for only one day and will also discuss the $24 billion debt Iraq owes Kuwait as reparations for the Gulf War — a remaining sore spot between the neighbors.
"The Kuwaiti and Iranian forces have been trying to control the Iraqi waters since 2003 and target the Iraqi fishermen's boats from time to time," said Waleed al-Sharefi [mayor of the Iraqi town of Faw].
But Kuwait's government said Iraq was to blame. In a press release, the Kuwaiti government said an Iraqi fishing vessel strayed into Kuwaiti waters, the Iraqi sailors ignored requests to leave and then opened fire on the coast guard.
What kind of "fishing vessel" has weaponry to take on a coast guard cutter?
RANIA CAIRO: A gunman in police uniform on Tuesday opened fire on a group of passengers in a train, killing a Christian man and wounding five others in the Egypt's southern Minya province.
The gunman, who was dressed in police uniform, boarded the train at Samalut and opened fire on passengers, killing 71-year-old Fathi Massaad and wounding others, the officials said. After showering the passengers with gunfire, the shooter got off the train and tried to flee but was arrested inside the station, they said.
The reasons for the incident as well as the man's motivations are not yet clear.
Three among the five injured are also Christians . . . However, the governor of Minya has denied the incident related to sectarian reasons. The governor said that the shooter was most probably mentally disturbed.ever, the governor of Minya has denied the incident related to sectarian reasons. The governor said that the shooter was most probably mentally disturbed. Hum, Islam does that to a mind.
Mariam Salah, a doctor in Minya, south of the capital, told Reuters her hospital was treating five wounded Christians. She said one of them told her a sixth Christian was shot dead.
Outside the hospital, between 200 and 400 Christians gathered to protest the latest attack and demand the government do more to protect them. Police used teargas to disperse them, security sources said.
A security source confirmed one Christian had been shot dead and said the attacker was a Muslim police officer.
An Interior Ministry statement named the attacker as officer Amer Ashour Abdel-Zaher, a name that suggests he was a Muslim.
It also named the man killed and the five others wounded, saying one of those injured was the dead man's wife. The husband and wife were from Cairo and the others were from Minya. At least two of the names indicated they were Christians.
Assailant Checked Victims for Crosses Before Shooting
Al Masry Al Youm, an Egyptian newspaper that has provided detailed coverage of life of the Coptic Christian community in Egypt, offers a horrifying detail about the recent attack that has left one Coptic Christian in Egypt dead and several others wounded. According to the report, the assailant, allegedly ensured that his victims were in fact Christian by looking for green crosses tattooed on their wrists. Al Masry Al Youm reports:
Security sources said the assailant had checked passengers for the green cross traditionally tatooed on the wrists of Coptic Christians in Egypt. After identifying several Copts, the culprit killed one of them and injured five others.
A five-year-old entry at a blog titled "Deep Thoughts" provides some detail about the cross tattoos the assailant allegedly used to target his victims.
It is a sign of pride and defiance given by the Coptic Orthodox Church and worn by its members in a predominantly Islamic county. Apparently, getting caught with this tattoo guarantees the bearer harsher treatment by the government. Coptic Christians have been getting this tattoo for generations ...
Dr. Michael Welner on Arizona Lone Wolf killer Jared Lee Loughner: â€œItâ€™s all about fame, not politicsâ€�
Dr. Michael Welner, Forensic Psychiatrist at NYU and head of The Forensic Panel was interviewed by ABC’s Nightline Monday night and Good Morning America, Tuesday morning. We have published Dr. Welner’s remarks about Mass Shooter Maj. Nidal Jihad, the long Fort Hood Mass shooter and more recently about Canadian Afghan al Qaeda Jihadi, Omar Khadr and the controversial Guantanamo military tribunal decision. Welner has also served as an expert witness for the US. Attorneys in the trial and conviction of pedophilist and rapist Brian David Mitchell in the Elizabeth Smart abduction case in Salt Lake City.
His views on what drives mentally troubled lone wolf killers to undertake mass shootings and assassinations presents a counterweight to the speculations in certain liberal media quarters about political incitement by public figures and available of handgun anti-personnel weapons.
Note what Dr. Welner had to say about the dynamics of lone wolf killers like Loughner excerpted from the ABC Nightline interview with Brian Reed, Chief investigative correspondent:
"If we feel that civility in public discourse is going to take away mass shootings we are mistaken," said Dr. Michael Welner, a forensic psychiatrist at New York University and an ABC News consultant. "Because the one common threat in mass shooting is, what does the shooter get out of it? And the shooter recognizes that if you assassinate a political figure you will be notorious. I think John Lennon had more to do with this than Sarah Palin," said Welner.
"The available information does not answer the question of whether he is alienated and paranoid as a social deviant, or as a person descending into schizophrenia,” noted Dr. Welner. “But his representations about Congresswoman Giffords show more inspiration from the murderer of John Lennon (who likewise deemed his victim fake) and Robert DeNiro’s shaved would-be assassin in Taxi Driver (who almost killed a politician) than from scapegoats like Sarah Palin. Mass shooting and assassination are both notoriety-seeking crimes, and his actions definitely reflect planning and an anticipation of public discussion. It is a crime that so reflects pop culture and a copy cat influence,” he added.
“It is vital at this point to focus discussion not on his agenda but on the heroism of those who saved lives and the utter meaninglessness and sadness of the deaths of those he murdered. I will mention his name as little as possible and would urge the responsible press to follow suit. Let others not identify with the attention he is gaining from nothing more than his capacity to ruin life around him.” As for the nature of the attack, Dr. Welner counseled, “my professional experience has taught me that you learn most by studying the initial point of attack. Congresswoman Giffords is a political figure, but above all she was a celebrity accessible to him. Her being female may also prove to be relevant in a crime that is so often found in sexually inept men who blame everyone else for their failure in manhood and choose spectacle destruction as a deviant outlet
The mother of Jawaher Abu Rahmah, who allegedly died from inhaling tear gas, flashes a V-sign during her daughter’s funeral, in the photo that accompanied a credulous New York Times report.
Israel’s enemies are waging a relentless information war against the Jewish state, and Israel is losing. Some pro-Israel activists insist that Israel must play offense rather than merely defend against the constant stream of charges issuing from Palestinians, other Arabs and Muslims, and Western-funded non-government organizations. Still other friends of the Jewish state think it’s too late, that Israel has already lost the information war waged by its enemies—with the collusion of the Western press.
An example: Last week, the New York Timesreported that a Palestinian woman named Jawaher Abu Rahmah had died from inhaling tear gas after participating in a demonstration against the separation barrier. In response, Israeli military officials, along with a group of pro-Israel bloggers, challenged the Palestinian account, and claimed they had evidence that she died from complications due to the medication she was taking for cancer. Among other tell-tale signs that something was amiss with the Palestinian version, there was the curiously worded cause of death: “Inhaling gas of an Israeli solider according to the family.”
The pessimists who think Israel’s case is hopeless have a point. It’s not clear why both the Times reporter, Isabel Kershner, and her editors at the foreign desk failed to treat the story with more circumspection: If the chances of dying from inhaling tear gas in an open space were not infinitesimal, wrongful-death suits would prevent police forces from using it as it they do throughout the United States and Europe to disperse riotous crowds.
If journalists won’t run narratives like the death-by-tear-gas tale through the most rudimentary BS-detector, it makes it harder not to conclude that they are willing to believe the worst about Israel. At the least, this is evidence of a lazy press corps that ought to take its work a little more seriously; at worst, it means that the Western media knowingly participates in a campaign to slander and libel a U.N. member state.
Outside of the Palestinian fable, floated in the late 1990s, about the Zionist chewing gum that made Palestinian women both sexually intemperate and sterile, it’s hard to think of a whopper that the Western media has not swallowed whole. Among other exaggerations and outright fabrications was the so-called “massacre” at the Jenin refugee camp in April 2002. The Western press dutifully followed the lead of the Palestinian news agency, Wafa, and reported that thousands, or hundreds, of Palestinian civilians were killed. Even as subsequent reports, including a U.N. investigation, revealed the truth of the matter—56 Palestinians were killed, the majority of them armed combatants—the narrative describing Israeli soldiers as war criminals and wanton murderers stuck.
Even more impressive is when images are attached to the narrative, like when a Palestinian cameraman in 2006 caught pictures of a young girl distraught on the same Gaza beach where, he reported, seven members of a her family had been killed by an Israeli Air Force onslaught. However, it seems now that a Hamas mine was likely responsible for the tragic deaths.
Most famous is the story of Mohamed al-Dura, the 12-year-old Palestinian boy believed to have been killed by Israeli gunfire on the Gaza Strip in September 2000. His last moments were recorded and flashed across the world, turning the boy into an international icon of Palestinian suffering and Israeli brutality. However, the Israelis didn’t kill Dura, and it’s not clear if he was killed instead by Palestinian gunfire or if the entire episode was staged by a French-Israeli journalist named Charles Enderlin and his Palestinian cameraman. Richard Landes, a Boston University history professor who has done extensive work on the Dura case, coined the term Pallywood to describe the “media manipulation, distortion and outright fraud by the Palestinians (and other Arabs, such as the Reuters photographer caught faking photos during the Second Lebanon War), designed to win the public-relations war against Israel.”
But this anti-Israeli misinformation is in fact part of a larger phenomenon. The Arabic word taqqiya is frequently used to denote the kind of dissimulation practiced by Muslims in the Middle East. Westerners tend to abuse the term, as if any Muslim who lies, for instance, about a car robbery, was practicing taqqiya, when he’s just trying to avoid arrest as any other suspect would. Taqqiya is a doctrine particular to the Shia, a Muslim minority who, because they have had much to fear over the last millennium from their more numerous Sunni neighbors, are permitted to lie under duress about their real religious sentiments. The concept, however, is a useful reminder that this is a part of the world where saying the wrong thing to the wrong person can be costly.
Nonetheless, Westerners are very sensitive to the idea that some cultures do not value truth-telling in the same way that we do. For reporters it can be embarrassing if your beat is to cover, say, the Palestinian Authority, since the bulk of your work is taking dictation from frequently malevolent fabulists and having to pass it off as though you were interviewing someone actually worth speaking to. But the convention of our press corps is to treat the utterances of Muamar Qaddafi with the same respect due the prime minister of Canada. To fact-check an entire political culture is beyond the pale of Western journalism, so instead we pretend that Arab societies respect the truth as much as we do, for to say otherwise is to sit in judgment over another culture.
Unfortunately, there is no getting around the fact that societies where the truth is just one among many possible narratives are going to fare worse than societies where truth is valued. In Western culture, truth has been virtually deified since the Enlightenment. Beginning in the early 19th century, Middle East reformers have rightly feared that a similar enlightenment in their society, a regime of Arab or Muslim reason, would threaten the entire ruling order, including God’s place in it. If reason is supreme, and everything must fall under the scope of the empirical method, then there is nothing to protect the supernatural or divine from the same rigorous investigation. The Muslim reformers looked at the West and saw a civilization to be admired for its scientific and technological progress and pitied for its spiritual malaise. Thankfully for us, even as the crisis of faith must inevitably follow enlightenment, it is only reason that guarantees technological progress.
Arab educators and other liberal intellectuals regularly decry the lack of critical thinking in Arab education, and yet the problem is not the ability to think critically but what it is possible to think critically about. You can’t speak critically of political authorities in the Arabic-speaking Middle East or security services will break your limbs and crack your skull, as they did this week in Tunisia. Obviously, religious topics are off-limits in a region where cartoons of a prophet can touch off widespread riots. Once you have circumscribed any limits to critical thought, you have inscribed red lines throughout your society. The reason the Arab countries do not lead the world in any field is not because they are any more violent or stupid or lazy than anyone else; rather, it is because the culture is set against the very principles of reason that make success possible. It is no mystery why Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah must come to New York for medical treatment—even though his country is more than wealthy enough to build first-rate medical facilities. The culture of the kingdom rewards students for memorizing the Quran, not for scientific explorations or pushing cultural boundaries; half of the country’s population is not even allowed to drive a car.
Western cyber-optimists argue that information technology like satellite television and the Internet will so inundate the Arabic-speaking Middle East with images and information that it will entirely reconfigure Arab societies. But this has it exactly wrong: Culture is more powerful than technology, and how a society uses any given technology is determined by its culture. This is why no one wants the Islamic Republic of Iran to have a nuclear bomb, but no one has a problem with France’s weapons program. This is also why the Internet is not going to open the eyes of those Arabs who are instead more inclined to use it to spread disinformation. Pallywood is nothing more than the nexus where an Arab culture of lies meets Western technology.
That is to say, the Arabs are not winning an information war against Israel, nor anything else for that matter. Rather, the stories and lies they tell to delegitimize the Jewish state are part and parcel of the war that they have been waging against themselves, and with stunning success. The tragedy is that everyone knows where the Arabs are heading, because the signs of failure and self-destructiveness couldn’t be clearer—poverty, violence, despotism, illiteracy, mistreatment of women, and the persecution of confessional minorities, like Egypt’s Coptic Christian population. The Western journalists and NGOs who repeat and credential these lies are doing no honor to either the values of their own society or those of the Arabs; they’re merely helping a culture kill itself.
"There were few warnings by pundits and pols that the public should not "jump to conclusions" about who Jared Loughner might be. Every right-thinking person knew he was a sleeper agent programmed by George W. to be activated with a code word from Sarah Palin. There was no mystery about who this suspect was, not like the shooter at Fort Hood in 2009 who shouted "Allahu Akbar!" as he killed 13 people. We were warned by a roster of media and government glitteries not to "jump to conclusions."
The warning became a mantra. "We cannot jump to conclusions," said Gen. Wesley Clark. "We have to make sure we do not jump to any conclusions whatsoever," cried CNN commentator Jane Velez-Mitchell. "We can't jump to conclusions," said Army Gen. George Casey. When Rep. Peter Hoekstra, the ranking Republican on the House intelligence committee, suggested to CNN that the Fort Hood massacre was an act of terrorism, John Roberts, the interviewer, quickly shut him up. "President Obama has asked people to be very cautious and to not jump to conclusions."
But this time everyone, having lunched on Mexican jumping beans, set off on a panic of conclusion-jumping. Politicians, weary of answering criticism and complaint and now worried about their own safety, see an opportunity to put a sock in the mouths of unhappy constituents."
One of the arguments made -- there are so many, each more unconvincing than the next -- for the silence of Pius XII, all through the 1930s, as Jews were beaten to death and synagogues burned in German cities, until it was on to the next step of the Endlosung -- was that if he protested it would "do more harm than good" and merely lead to an intensification -- what more could the Germans have done in the way of mass-murder, how much more resolutely enthusiastic could they have been, unto the last? -- of anti-Jewish activities.
For years the Church, and many Protestant denominations too (see the World Council of Churches), have iignored the anti-Christian acts of Muslim states, Muslim groups, Musilim individuals (remember, the Shari'a can be legitimately enforced by any Believer, and the State does not possesss a monopoly on violence when it comes to enforcing Shari'a) have been appeasing Muslims. A combination of Arab "islamichristians" (of the Michel Sabbag, Naim Ateek, Hanan Ashrawi variety), antisemites (the irreducible 10-15% of any given population, and who are not neutralized, or "equalized," by an equivalent core of unswervable philosemites), and clever propaganda (as in the invention of the "Palestinian people" as a substitute for the local Arabs, so that we have Arabs and Kurds in Iraq, Arabs and Berbers in Algeria and Morocco, Arabs and blacks in the Sudan, but in Israel -- ah, there we have a place once known in Western Christendom as "Palestine" and so we shall simply rename the local Arabs as "Palestinians" and presto-chango, the land must belong to them), has been of great appeal in some professional Christian circles.
Now come the attacks on the Christians in Iraq. Not enough for the Pope to speak clearly. And then come the attacks on the Copts in Egypt. Still not quite enough to speak out loud and bold, but instead to rely on general statements about "violence.". But finally, there is an understanding that he has to say something more forceful, that he must express opposition, if only in a sentence, to the blasphemy law that has been used taken by individual Muslims (more than by the Pakistani state) to allow extra-judicial killings of Christians and other non-Muslims. And so, at long last, though the blasphemy law has been on the books for decades in Pakistan, and is everywhere on the unwritten books of all Muslim-dominated states, Pope Benedict XVI has spoken out against it.
Should he have? Or should he, like Pope Pius XII, have said nothing at all? Will his speaking out "do more harm than good" as is one of the arguments used in defense of Pius XII (along with the argument, palpably idiotic, that Piux XII was doing all kinds of useful and heroic things -- he did nothing of the kind -- behind the scenes), by those among the devout who simply can't distinguish particular people, from child-molesting bishops to an antisemitic Pope, from the Church itself, and feel they must rally round no matter what..
And doesn't Benecict XVI's behavior now, in speaking out against a blasphemy law that has resulted in hundreds of deaths, possibly require him to re-think his apparent support for the beatification -- on the way to sanctification, bien entendu -- of the deplorable Piux XII, who knew exactly what was going on in Germany from 1933 on, and who was silent not about a blasphemy law that resulted in hundreds or perhaps thousands of victims, but about mass murder on an industrial scale, and under whose all-seeing windows, the Jews of Rome were led to their deaths.
Will others begin to suggest that logical coherence here is also moral coherence, and the rocky road to beatification for Pius XII has just been mined, inadvertently no doubt, by none other than Pope Benedict XVI himself?
Eric Zemmour : "Quand on décrit la réalité, on est criminalisé"
LEMONDE.FR avec AFP | 11.01.1
Le chroniqueur, journaliste et écrivain Eric Zemmour et son avocat Olivier Pardo arrivent au tribunal correctionnel de Paris le 11 janvier 2011.AFP/JACQUES DEMARTHON
Le chroniqueur Eric Zemmour, qui comparaît à partir de mardi 11 janvier devant le tribunal correctionnel de Paris pour des propos controversés sur "les Noirs et les Arabes", a défendu sa position avec vigueur, assurant n'être qu'un observateur fidèle de la réalité.
"Quand on décrit la réalité, on est criminalisé", a regretté le journaliste, mâchoires serrées et ton combatif. "Je ne provoque pas et je suis pour la liberté d'expression", a déclaré le polémiste, qui considère que les associations anti-racistes ne font que "criminalise(r) une parole qui ne veut pas se coucher devant le politiquement correct". "La réalité n'existe pas pour ces messieurs", a-t-il ajouté à l'égard des représentants associatifs, "il faut qu'elle rentre dans les cadres idéologiques qu'ils ont créés il y a trente ans (...). Si on en sort, on est traité au mieux de provocateur au pire de nazi."
Chroniqueur à la radio, à la télévision et dans le quotidien Le Figaro, Eric Zemmour a été cité en justice pour diffamation et provocation à la haine raciale par cinq associations antiracistes, qui lui reprochent des propos tenus le 6 mars 2010 sur les chaînes de télévision Canal+ et France Ô. Eric Zemmour s'était notamment indigné après une intervention d'un de ses contradicteurs sur les contrôles de police au faciès : "Mais pourquoi on est contrôlé 17 fois ?" avait-il lancé. "Pourquoi ? Parce que la plupart des trafiquants sont noirs et arabes, c'est comme ça, c'est un fait". Pour le président de SOS Racisme, Dominique Sopo, ces propos sont "aberrants et extrêmement graves".Il a regretté que M. Zemmour ne voie la réalité que via des "lunettes racialisées". Le procès doit s'achever vendredi. La décision sera alors mise en délibéré à plusieurs semaines.
By ALI AKBAR DAREINI
The Associated Press
January 12, 2011
TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran's opposition leader on Wednesday denounced the country's ruling system for being 'totalitarian' like the old Nazi and Soviet regimes, with lying to its people being its defining characteristic.
Mir Hossein Mousavi statement comes as reaction to a stepped up campaign by the ruling system to discredit opposition leaders, calling them traitors that would ultimately be prosecuted.
"They are resorting to methods (against the opposition) used in totalitarian regimes like Stalin in the Soviet era or (former dictator Nicolae) Ceausescu in Romania," Mousavi said in a statement posted on his website.
He added that the propaganda statements of Joseph Goebbels in Nazi Germany paled in significance to the lying done by Iran's rulers.
"They've surpassed Goebbels in telling lies. [this, of course, is both untrue and telling -- no one in Iran has surpassed Goebbels in lying] Leveling accusations and telling lies is part of their ossified faith," he said.
Tehran's chief prosecutor, Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi, said last month that it was only a matter of time before opposition leaders are put on trial for the unrest following the disputed 2009 presidential election.
Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi - who both ran in the disputed 2009 presidential elections - as well as former reformist President Mohammad Khatami are already banned from leaving the country.
So far, however, authorities have stopped short of trying to jail the reform movement's top leaders, possibly out of concern it could spark a new wave of protests and fuel the opposition.
But a series of recent public warnings by hard-liners that they could be tried may be a sign that Iran's Islamic clerical leadership believes the opposition has been sufficiently suppressed that their arrest would not spark a significant backlash.
Mousavi and Karroubi said last month that they are already living in a "big prison" and didn't care if they were put behind bars in a "smaller" prison for defending the trampled rights of the Iranian nation.
Mousavi recently likened Iran's ruling system to a North Korean style dictatorship with a few cosmetic democratic gestures and criticized the disputed June 2009 election as a coup against democracy.
The opposition claims that Mousavi was the rightful winner of the 2009 election and that hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner through massive vote fraud.
Hundreds of thousands of opposition supporters took to the streets in the aftermath of the election in support of Mousavi but their peaceful protest was crushed by security forces.
The opposition says more than 80 demonstrators were killed in the turmoil. The government, which puts the number of confirmed deaths at 30, accuses opposition leaders of being "stooges of the West" and of seeking to topple the ruling system through street protests.
"Nous admettons le droit et même le devoir des races supérieures d'attirer à elles celles qui ne sont pas parvenues au même degré de culture et de les appeler aux progrès realisésgrâce aux efforts de la science ou de l'industrie (...) Nous avons trop l'amour de notre pays pour désavouer l'expansion de la pensée, de la civilisation française."
If anything good has arisen from the recent New Year’s Eve Church massacre in Egypt—if such can even be imagined—it must be the sudden flurry of interest in Near Eastern Christians; the indigenous pre-Arab peoples of the Middle East whose plights and epics of exile and dispossession are an integral part of Arab history and a byproduct of the seventh century Fatah Muslim conquests.
Yet this sudden relevance of the forgotten Eastern Christians has also unleashed a bevy of articles and news reports referring to them by way of the murky “Christian Arabs” label; a misleading—if fashionable—term that deprives them of their historical memories, expropriates their cultural accretions and denudes them of their distinct ethnic identities. This is all in addition to the physical assaults to which Near Eastern Christians are being subjected.
This sort of semantic perversion begs the question “what is a ‘Christian Arab’, and what is it that makes, say, a Copt, an Assyrian, or a Maronite an Arab?” But before trying to fit the term “Christian Arab” to a soothing and pleasing explanation, a definition of what, or who, constitutes an Arab is perhaps in order.
According to Arab nationalist ideologue and publicist Sati’ al-Husri (1880–1967) “every person who speaks Arabic is an Arab . . . [and] every individual associated with an Arabic-speaker or with an Arabic-speaking people is an Arab.” Under no circumstances should those “speakers of Arabic” who reject their imputed Arabness be tolerated, decreed al-Husri; indeed, they are Arabs, he affirmed, in spite of themselves and in spite of whom they think they might be.A less sinister, albeit equally ambiguous, definition is provided by the Arab League which describes an Arab to be "a person whose language is Arabic, who lives in an Arabic speaking country, and who is in sympathy with the aspirations of the Arabic speaking peoples."
Ironically, whether validating al-Hursri’s coercive premise or the Arab League’s more innocuous one, both definitions remain contested, and both reveal a reductionist, ideologically tainted conception of an otherwise multiform, polyglot, ethnically varied Middle East. Indeed,a good number of Middle Easterners, including the majority of the region’s Christians—and Mizrachi Jews for that matter—do not identify as Arabs, despite being native users of the Arabic language. Add to that the fact that Arabic itself, the vaunted symbol and cement of Arabness, is not a single uniform language, and the plot thickens!
An often overlooked feature of Arabic is its arrogation to be a homogenous speech form, when it is in reality an archaic textual language, closer in its nature to Medieval Latin than to any of Europe’s spoken languages. In fact, what is commonly termed Arabic is on the one hand a written Standard that is never natively spoken, and on the other hand is a group of some thirty distinct languages differing from each other—and from Standard Arabic itself—to the same extent that French is different from other Romance languages and from Latin. Indeed, speaking of a uniform Arabic language common to all Arabs would be tantamount to claiming Frenchmen, Italians, Spaniards and Englishmen to be speakers of a single uniform Latin language. Early twentieth-century Egyptian writer Tawfiq Awwan dismissed this ideological chimera, arguing Egypt to have a distinctly Egyptian Language, Lebanon a sui generisLebanese language, and the Hijaz a uniquely Hijazi language; all separate languages, each with their own peculiarities, none of them warranting the appellation “Arabic.” In this same vein, Harvard University linguist Wheeler Thackston wrote more recently that a Moroccan and an Iraqi, each speaking their own vernacular languages, “can no more understand each other than can a Portuguese [understand] a Rumanian.”
And so, if bona fide Arabs themselves are bereft of a single mutually comprehensible national speech form, how can Middle Eastern Christians—most of whom the progenies of pre-Arab linguistic and cultural traditions—be accurately subsumed into an overarching Arab ethnos? Skilled “users” of Arabic as they might be, Copts, Maronites, Assyrians and others do not view themselves as Arabs and do not take kindly to being referred to as such. This is no aberration. It is an attitude analogous to French-speaking Swiss, Luxembourgers, Senegalese or Belgians defining themselves as native Francophones but not as Frenchmen. Yet, inveterate Arabists (and their defenders in the media and the academy) somehow still deem it justifiable to lump all pre-Arab members of venerable Near Eastern “national churches” under a reductionist “Christian Arab” umbrella.
This is nothing if not a sinister revisionism, a cruel expropriation of pre-Arab cultures, and a brazen repudiation of a critical chapter in the history of the Middle East, the history of the seventh-century Muslim conquests, and the troubled existence of Middle Eastern Christians—and Jews—under an Islam not particularly concerned with pre-Islamic narratives of its conquered territories. Some sixty years ago, using Lebanon as a pulpit to address this kind of historical amnesia and cultural suppression, Lebanese thinker Michel Chiha wrote that:
Conquerors and their conquests have all come, gone, and faded away; yet we have remained. We are the meeting place into which peoples flock and assimilate regardless of their origins. We are the crossroads where varied civilizations drop in on one another, and where bevies of beliefs, languages, and cultural rituals salute each other in solemn veneration.
In the end, this is the Middle East. Not a monolithic “Arab world,” but a diverse human and cultural space composed of Arabs, to be sure, but teeming with non-Arabs, non-Muslims and non-Arabophones, including tens of millions of Christians, who possess their own cultural cognomens, and who must be spared the simplistic, and misleading, “Christian Arabs” designation.
I'm posting this preemptively. A few months from now, after yet another horrible Islamic terror attack committed by Muslim terrorists they'll be asking why it is we don't call Loughner a "Christian terrorist." Because he, like Timothy McVeigh, is not a Christian and his actions had nothing to do with Christianity. From the NYTimes:.
The account by Mr. Loughner’s friend, a rare extended interview with someone close to Mr. Loughner in recent years, added some details to the emerging portrait of the suspect and his family.
“He was a nihilist and loves causing chaos, and that is probably why he did the shooting, along with the fact he was sick in the head,” said Zane Gutierrez, 21, who was living in a trailer outside Tucson and met Mr. Loughner sometimes to shoot at cans for target practice.
The Loughner family released a statement on Tuesday, its first since the attacks, expressing — in a six-line document handed to reporters outside their house — sorrow for the losses experienced by the victims and their families.
“It may not make any difference, but we wish that we could change the heinous events of Saturday,” the statement said. “There are no words that can possibly express how we feel. We wish that there were, so we could make you feel better.”
The new details from Mr. Gutierrez about Mr. Loughner — including his philosophy of anarchy and his expertise with a handgun, suggest that the earliest signs of behavior that may have ultimately led to the attacks started several years ago.
Mr. Gutierrez said his friend had become obsessed with the meaning of dreams and their importance. He talked about reading Friedrich Nietzsche’s book “The Will To Power” and embraced ideas about the corrosive, destructive effects of nihilism — a belief in nothing. And every day, his friend said, Mr. Loughner would get up and write in his dream journal, recording the world he experienced in sleep and its possible meanings.
“Jared felt nothing existed but his subconscious,” Mr. Gutierrez said. “The dream world was what was real to Jared, not the day-to-day of our lives.”
And that dream world, his friend said, could be downright strange.
“He would ask me constantly, ‘Do you see that blue tree over there?’ He would admit to seeing the sky as orange and the grass as blue,” Mr. Gutierrez said. “Normal people don’t talk about that stuff.”
He added that Mr. Loughner “used the word hollow to describe how fake the real world was to him.”
As his behavior grew more puzzling to his friends, he was getting better with a pistol. Starting in high school, Mr. Loughner honed his marksmanship with a 9-millimeter pistol, the same caliber weapon used in the attack Saturday, until he became proficient at handling the weapon and firing it quickly.
“If he had a gun pointed at me, there is nothing I could do because he would make it count,” Mr. Gutierrez said. “He was quick.”
He also said that Mr. Loughner had increasing trouble interacting in social settings — during one party, for instance, Mr. Loughner retreated upstairs alone to a room and was found reading a dictionary.
“It got worse over time,” Mr. Gutierrez said. He said he stopped talking to Mr. Loughner last March, when their interactions grew increasingly unpredictable and troubling.
“He would call me at 2 a.m. and asked, ‘Are you hanging out in front of my house, stalking me?’ He started to get really paranoid, and said he did not want to see us anymore and did not trust us,” Mr. Gutierrez said, referring to himself and another friend. “He thought we were plotting to kill him or steal his car.”
Some French intellectuals and journalists like Bernard-Henri Lévy, Patrick Poivre d’Arvor, Régis Debray and Dominique Souchier are clinging to straws while drowning. They will do anything to save themselves from oblivion, while they have nothing more to say than their usual discourse. And the best way to succeed is to bash America, to lecture it, or to steal from it by way of plagiarism.
Now they go so far as to blame the fate of the Christians in the Middle East on the Bush presidency. That is what French Communist intellectual Régis Debray did last Saturday in an interview by Dominique Souchier on Europe 1 radio. The truth is that the situation of the Christians in the Middle East has been deteriorating since the end of the 1980s [in modern times, it has been deteriorating since the 1950s, when the ancien regime of Farouk fell in Egypt, and Eisenhower had to send troops to Lebanon in 1958 -- but in another sense, the situation of the Christians has been deteriorating for 1350 years, ever since Islam arrived to see justice done] more precisely: since the Iranian Khomeiny revolution - which is currently repeating itself in Lebanon. This, as well as the fate of the Copts in Egypt or the disturbances in Pakistan (similar to the uproar in Algeria in the 1990s) have nothing to do with the Bush presidency nor with Israel, contrary to what Debray believes.
Régis Debray in the studio of Europe 1
In the same interview, Debray claimed that the West had “destroyed Arabism”. In fact the whole region is suffering from Arabism, not to mention Northern Africa where the youth are getting restless. Three people dead in riots in Algeria, the fault of Bush? Or Israel? … France of course!
Debray, who has been invited countless times by Souchier, keeps ranting and repeating the same nonsense, in chorus with the former ministers of foreign affairs Hubert Védrine and Roland Dumas and with geostrategist Pascal Boniface.
Certainly, in the Anglo-Saxon world there are people who are saying the same thing - take Obama for example - while adding the social and economic situation as the principal factors. But there at least you can read some shocking facts on the situation in these countries, like Pakistan. Not in France, where the media are tightly sealed. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is watching. An exception was the recent confirmation by president Sarkozy on religious cleansing - which was of course contradicted by Régis Debray and by the day-to-day political practice.
Two Frenchmen were kidnapped in Niger, and have been killed. Blamed on “terrorism”, of course. Not blamed on the incompatibility between Arabo-Islamist (and Maoist) regimes and democracy which is trampled, insulted and humiliated by the former admirers of red totalitarianism.
And with the same complacency, the same obsequious idea that the problem is the existence of the West, our useful idiots continue their undermining work as a perfect fifth column, of course while crying wolf against the “far right” as soon as the slightest criticism is uttered against them. It’s the proven tactic, and it works. In the mean time Atlantis (Europe) is sinking bit by bit, disappearing into the bottomless pit of history.