These are all the Blogs posted on Tuesday, 12, 2012.
Tuesday, 12 June 2012
MPs To Learn Lessons Over Child Grooming Case
I will link this directly from Yahoo news rather than follow it back to the original Sky News report for the sake of the comments. Those who comment at Yahoo tend to be rather blunt and have not surrendered to political correctness.
The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police and the head of Rochdale Council will be among those giving evidence to MPs investigating what could have been done to prevent the grooming of vulnerable children in Rochdale. The Home Affairs Select Committee will hear evidence later today to learn lessons from the Rochdale case.
It will hear first from Jim Taylor, the Chief Executive of Rochdale Council. Then Chief Constable Peter Fahy and Detective Chief Superintendent Mary Doyle from Greater Manchester Police will give evidence. The Committee will also hear from Peter Davies from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) and the Deputy Children's Commissioner Sue Berelowitz.
The Chairman of the Committee, the Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP, said: "Recent cases of child exploitation have shown an ugly and brutal side to our society. It is vital that we know the truth about why these abuses took place and that we have robust measures to guard against them. We look forward to questioning local officials from Rochdale Council and the Chief Constable for Greater Manchester Police about what could have been done to prevent the grooming of vulnerable children in Rochdale. We will also be asking those involved in child protection about their investigations into these atrocities. We must ensure the lessons learned in the most recent cases are not lost."
The Rochdale case sparked protests from far right groups but police investigating the gang's crimes denied there was a "racial or cultural" issue. As Keith Vaz also denies this I am not optimistic that this inquiry will be any use.
At the end of the trial a spokeswoman for CEOP said child sexual exploitation spanned "all cultures and ethnicities".
But she added: "These cases do highlight that Asian males have been involved in an organised manner in exploiting young women. Some of these cases involved offenders from different backgrounds as well, although CEOP are investigating why there may be a majority of Asians in these particular kinds of offence."
Not asians- Muslims. And the reason is clear if you look at the career of Mohammed who they emulate.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission is currently investigating a series of mistakes by Greater Manchester Police and the CPS for failing to take the first victim seriously when she first reported the abuse. She carried on being targeted by the gang until December 2008 when she fell pregnant and moved away.
Technically of course it isn't a race matter - Islam is an ideology not a race, and men of the same race (or legal nationality) who are Christian, Hindu or Sikh in Pakistan do not form grooming gangs. In my experience around the courts when a non-Muslim man has paedophile tendencies he knows it is wrong, he hides it from his family, he has to go to great lengths to secretly seek out likeminded individuals often miles from his home. I believe the internet has made this a little easier for them.
When the Muslim men of these grooming gangs get hold of a little girl their immediate reaction is to invite all their mates at the minicab office round to have a pop.
It’s back to work/school after the Jubilee extended bank holiday and the half term break that old fashioned people like me still think of as Whitsun.
My daughter and I had been looking forward to the River Pageant for months. It was the biggest event on the River Thames since 1662 when Charles II welcomed Princess Catherine of Braganza to London to become his wife.
Cynics said that because of cutbacks to the Royal Navy a Review at Spithead, as inspected by Queen Victoria at her Diamond Jubilee in 1897, and by Queen Elizabeth II at her Coronation in 1953 and her Silver Jubilee in 1977, would be embarrassingly short. Hence this pageant of 1000 smaller boats and ships on the River (Note to readers outside the UK, and outside London even – Londoners tend to refer to the River Thames merely as The River).
It was led by the Royal Jubilee Bells, a ring of eight bells newly cast at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry and hung on a barge. Their peal was answered by the City churches as it passed. The Queen was on the barge The Spirit of Chartwell. The Gloriana, a re-creation of the barges painted by Canaletto was rowed by 18 men, including Olympic gold medal winners and servicemen recently returned from Afghanistan.
I particularly wanted to see the section of the Little ships of Dunkirk and the veteran Thames Fireboat (also a Dunkirk veteran) the Massey Shaw. But with 1000 historic, working, leisure and service boats, some of them carrying whole orchestras, there was going to be plenty to see.
We knew it would be crowded. We knew that many of the bridges would be closed. We knew we would only see a fraction of what there was to see. We knew we had to get there early. We alighted at London Bridge having decided that the South Bank was the less obvious bank to view from. All access to the river was blocked eastwards. I know London like the back of my hand. We’ll slip through Hays Galleria by the HMS Belfast, I thought. No, the gates were locked. All of the Queen’s Walk was off limits and the public was being filtered inland along Tooley Street. London Bridge was crossable but the seating along the rails was reserved for the British Legion. I certainly don’t begrudge veterans and retired nurses a good view.
We decided to keep with the Southbank plan and managed to get down the side of Southwark Cathedral thinking we could make our way into Bankside, past the Globe Theatre and towards the open expanse outside Tate Modern. The way into Bankside was closed off and a security guard was shouting ‘Not this way, closed, closed!’ from behind his stretch of heras fencing. A policeman said there had been access earlier but he thought the area was considered full. We found ourselves being filtered across Southwark Bridge. Security guards lined the rail making sure no one stopped for any length of time. Once on the north bank we couldn’t get to the river down Thames Street.
The Millennium Bridge, which gives access from St Pauls to the Tate Modern gallery was blocked by the gentlemen you see below.
I found out later that the bridge was reserved for the BBC to interview artists who were intending to capture the Jubilee’s ‘Canaletto Moment’. The main work exhibited later that evening was not of the river at all. A rather wild Rastafarian had painted the Queen, from memory and in primary colours, on an old wooden door.
We walked down St Paul’s Walk and saw spaces above up on the walkway above the Blackfriars underpass. We rushed up but the gaps were filled with picnic tables and folding chairs which were fiercely guarded. We also met the man in the picture wearing the only ship we were destined to see on his head. There were screens showing Pathé newsreel of the Coronation and other historic events of the last 60 years. But we couldn’t get as near as we would have liked.
My next thought was Temple tube station and the two gardens above the station which are all part of Victoria Embankment Gardens. They are public space; I knew them well in my days attached to the Law Courts. All Arundal Street was lined with heras fencing and security guards. We went down Surrey Street but couldn’t get into Temple Place at that end. We returned to Arundal Street and were stopped and told that this was access to Temple Tube station only. I agreed that the station was what I wanted and we were allowed to proceed. At the station access to the river was blocked by solid steel doors, not even fencing which could be looked through. But an illuminated sign showed an arrow – “this corridor to the viewing area”. We made our way towards it.
‘No, no! No entry’ cried another guard’.
I tried to reach the stairs. ‘You can’t come through here’ said another guard.
‘But the guard down there has sent us up here’.
‘Well you can’t come through’.
‘But there’s a sign saying that there’s a viewing area. Why are you giving contradictory and misleading information?’
‘Don’t get difficult and stroppy with me, calm down’
‘But all I want to do is get to the river of my own city’ I wailed.
‘What’s that? Don’t you talk to me like that – did you hear that?’ said young mixed race man to older black man. ‘We were born here too you know – I’m not being spoken to like that’
I turned and spoke to a police officer who was nearby. ‘I’m afraid these security guards don’t seem to have the information I’m asking. My daughter and I wish to view the pageant from Victoria Embankment Gardens, what do you advise? ‘
The guards went back to glowering at other people who also wished to go where they were not permitted (ie up those steps to a public garden overlooking the river) and the police officer directed me back to Surrey Street. In Surrey Street another officer thought the gardens were ticket only, and as we did not have tickets that was no longer a possibility.
The Strand was full of people holding flags looking lost and bemused. Ahead of us was that meeting place of Londoners for generations – Trafalgar Square. And the National Gallery with its café and clean toilets.
And a screen – a large prominent screen bearing the legend ‘The Mayor of London presents the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.' A large and dark screen. People sat down ready for the transmission to start.
There was a BBC team in the Square.
‘Excuse me when will this screen start showing the River Pageant?’
‘River Pageant? I dunno. That’s nothing to do with us’.
I asked one of the security guards who was guarding the screen. "No, this is only for Tuesday" he answered. "But there is a screen in the Mall, by St James Park".
We walked as far down the Mall as we were able to get, which wasn’t far, The Mall in front of Buckingham Palace will remain closed now until the end of the Olympics in September. I accosted three police officers, who looked high-ranking.
‘That’s funny, you are the third person to ask about a screen – we don’t know of one other than that one over there.’
It was large, and it was unlit. I asked two men with a Royal parks van who were rearranging the Royal park deck chairs. They spoke to each other in their own language, then called a third who confirmed what I had suspected. This screen was also only for use on Tuesday.
Whitehall and Horseguards were busy – some people heading towards the river and others flowing back from the river towards those tantalising but dark screens.
We couldn’t get near the screen on Westminster Bridge. We discovered that access to the bridges was by tickets allocated to the Riparian boroughs, ie those councils through which the Thames flows. I would like to think that those places were given to members of the pensioners club, the meals on wheels volunteers, long serving road sweepers, a selection of Scouts, Guides and local schoolchildren. I do hope so.
We saw a queue outside Victoria Tower Gardens and after a security search we got in. The crowd along the river edge was 10 deep. The crowd round the screen was so great that we couldn’t make out a thing. We and others decided to leave. But we couldn’t get out as the gates were now shut. I’m used to being kettled now after numerous demonstrations. Anybody who attends football matches, or rock festivals gets accustomed to being herded and held at intervals. But the people in this Home Counties crowd were not used to it. They were bewildered. Why can’t we move? We want to go over there. It was something of a culture shock for them. I hope they remember it.
I knew of the two other gates to that park and we did get out relatively quickly – never underestimate the value of local knowledge.
Lambeth Bridge was impossible. People were climbing trees, lamp-posts and on top of the portaloos. Millbank had potential. But we were cold, tired, damp and hungry by now. Pizza Express on Millbank beckoned.
‘Table for two please’
‘Sorry Madam we have just closed. Please come back later’
It was the last straw. We left the river, found a pub and ordered a meal. Just in time. The heavens opened with a cloudburst and the tables filled rapidly. We got on the tube at St James and fell into conversation with another family who also had failed to see a single boat or ship. The grandfather was not impressed. ‘I saw more of the Coronation’ he said. Even one of our readers had a similar experience.
We could hear announcements at the stations as we passed through them.
‘This station is closed until the platforms are clear – please be patient – you will be allowed to enter in due course’
That settled the question of whether to get off at Tower Hill and try to see some of the ships that were too tall to go under Tower Bridge in the Avenue of Sail. It was raining very heavily and I was feeling the beginnings of my cold which mean I missed what turned out to be a rather good local street party the next day. Once home the repeated BBC coverage proved worse than useless.
It then transpired that many of the hired security guards had been bussed in from outside London. They were unpaid but were doing work experience which was expected to lead to an NVQ (national vocational qualification) in Crowd Control. That explains why none of them were capable of anything other than ‘You can’t come through here’ and were unfailingly miserable.
Later in the week I felt better and in the mood to attempt another outing, so long as it was indoors (more rain) and did not involve the train into London. My husband was free to come with us and we drove to the Secret Nuclear Bunker. I can’t tell you where it is – it’s secret – if I told you I would have to kill you.
Psst – it’s near North Weald.
It was built in 1951, opened in 1952 (so contemporary with the Queen’s reign) originally as an RAF plotter station but it developed into an underground facility which, in the event of a nuclear attack, would become the command centre for London and the seat of government. Several tableau recreated inside involved some very scary manikins of Margaret Thatcher. In one she was asleep in the cabinet room, next to a strong box which would have contained the cyanide had all hope failed and the 600 personnel decided not to face the slow death of the nuclear winter.
When it was decommissioned in the 1990’s it was privately bought and opened to the public.
You enter through a nondescript bungalow where you collect an audioguide and pass a notice telling you that by continuing this way you are committed to paying on exit. Then you are guided round this 80 foot deep cold war citadel, which was fascinating for me in having preserved a Civil Service office as I knew it from the period say 1979-90. The same type of chair I sat on, with a choice of lime green, acid yellow or tango orange nylon cover. The ‘latest’ 18inch square push button telephones. Battleship grey metal desks.
On an old television one of the old ‘Protect and Survive’ public information films was playing. The ones that reassured the public that they could survive a nuclear explosion by building a shelter inside their house from doors weighted down with suitcases full of garden soil, inside which they should stock tinned food and two pints of water per person per day, for 14 days.
People on the upper floors of blocks of flats would not be able to build such a refuge. They were told to make arrangements with their neighbours lower down in advance. That it was not so long ago (1960/70) that it could be expected that one’s neighbours would share their cupboard under the stairs and precious drinking water was a more startling indication of how much the UK has changed, than the old fashioned equipment.
Except that the proprietors of the Secret Bunker still believe in trust and honesty. Exit is through the canteen and gift shop. You help yourself to drinks and snacks, make your own tea or coffee. There is a cook if you want something more substantial. And there is an honesty box.
You add up your entrance fee, the price of your refreshments and any sundries, put the money in a box, take change if you need, put your audio guides back on a rank, pat the station Labrador, and management hope you enjoyed your visit. A troop of cub scouts had definitely enjoyed it.
The potential horror of nuclear war leavened by trust that the general public is still honest and decent at heart.
Euro 2012: I want to be an England fan and a Muslim. Why's that so hard
From the Guardian.Some of the comments are very heartening, especially considering this is the Guardian
England football fans dressing up as Christian knights from the Crusades doesn't endear Muslims to the cause by Nooruddean Choudry
As England play their first games of Euro 2012, I'd like to be an England fan. But even though I'm English, it's hard. For a start, as a British Muslim, I am unsettled by the sight of England supporters dressed as Christian knights and jovially waving Crusader shields at the European championships in Poland and Ukraine. Footage of last night's cagey opener with France was interspersed with close-ups of young men dressed in the armour of Knights Templar hordes.
I don't for a second believe that those dressed as Christian knights do so to offend Muslims – I hope not, anyway – whereas there is obvious menace in the sickening behaviour by neo-Nazis. But this doesn't make it any less disturbing an image for the Muslims in this country and around the world.
The Crusades are romanticised in the west as heroic battles to win back the holy lands in the name of Christianity. But for Muslims they are remembered as two centuries of brutal and unprovoked attacks on Arab lands. To celebrate this in fancy dress recalls a bloody and divisive chapter in Muslim-Christian relations
I wonder how England supporters would react to scenes at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, were masses of Arab fans to dress up in Saladin turbans and brandish Saracen swords emblazoned with Qu'ranic verse. I'm not sure it would be seen as friendly high jinx. No need to travel to Qatar this is an everyday scene in east London.
I am sure the whole Crusader-fancy-dress-thing is done in all innocence. But in the context of the English Defence League and their anti-Islam rhetoric it doesn't exactly fill me with patriotic fervour. It makes me feel Muslim, rather than English, and I'd much rather feel both.
Wazza - "for Muslims they are remembered as two centuries of brutal and unprovoked attacks on Arab lands"
Followed by several centuries of brutal Arab colonialism in Spain and Italy....
Peter - "As a British Muslim, I am unsettled by the sight of England supporters dressed as Christian knights"
They are dressed as St George, England's patron saint. If the image of St George unsettles you, then you will have to avoid art galleries and ancient churches as well as England games.
Peter again - "... but to brandish a sword and recall the brutal and bloody invasion of Muslim lands is portrayed as harmless banter."
Some historical events that preceded the First Crusade ...
AD 632 -- Muhammad’s death.
AD 635 -- Christian Damascas fell to invading Muslims.
AD 636 -- Christian Antioch fell to invading Muslims.
AD 638 -- Christian Jerusalem,and later Alexandria,fell to invading Muslims.
AD 650 -- Muslim armies reached Cilicia and Caesarea of Cappodocia. In the same period Muslim forces carried out raids on Cyprus, Rhodes, Crete and Sicily, carrying off thousands of Christian slaves.
AD 668 -- Muslim armies laid siege to Constantinople. They were repulsed.
AD 711 -- Muslim armies invaded Spain. By AD 715 they had conquered most of Spain.
AD 717 -- Muslim armies again laid siege to Constantinople. Again repulsed.
AD 732 -- Muslim armies invaded France. Charles Martel stopped them at Tours.
AD 792 -- The Muslim ruler of Spain, Hisham, called for a new invasion of France. An international Islamic crusade was assembled, and was repulsed by the French.
AD 827 -- Muslim warriors invaded Italy and Sicily, terrorised monks,and raped nuns. Sicily was held by Muslims until AD 1091.
AD 846 -- Muslim armies reached Rome, where they forced the Pope to pay them tribute.
AD 848 -- France was again invaded by Muslims. And again repulsed.
AD 1059 -- Pope Urban II launched the FIRST Crusade.
Runfold - oh get a life please? For crying out loud. Dressing up as a knight in armour is supposed to be a reflection of English history.ready to do battle and all that. You don't have to do it yourself. You could variously ignore it or laugh with people or support England in your own way.
This is what people mean by unwillingness to assimilate. By all means support England your way. Bring something new to the party. Show people your England. Make people laugh with you and show you are part of the crowd. That's all anyone asks of an England supporter. But don't expect to be able to stand on the sidelines telling other people that they can't support England their way. It's not religion or ethnicity that's making you feel like an outsider. It's a crap attitude that wants to tell people what to do, what to wear and how to enjoy themselves. A pretty un English attitude really.
TUNIS — The ultraconservative Islamist student announced his arrival by kicking over a large metal ashtray in the lobby.
“You want to make life hard for me,” he shouted, as he climbed the stairs toward the university dean’s office. “Well, I can make it hard for you.”
Without any security guards to call and knowing that the police would not come soon, if at all, the white-haired dean, Habib Kazdaghli, could only sigh, retreat behind a flimsy locked door, and try to reassure his visitors that everything would be all right.
So began a recent confrontation at Manouba University on the outskirts of Tunis, Tunisia’s capital, where tensions have been running high for nearly a year. Here a handful of ultraconservative Salafist students and their busloads of supporters, many from the poor interior of the country, are pitted against an urban faculty with a strong sense that this bare-bones campus with its overgrown paths is no place for prayer rooms or women who veil their faces.
The turmoil at Manouba has kept Dean Kazdaghli, who is elected by faculty representatives, at the top of the news and editorial pages, sometimes admired for his embrace of a secular campus, sometimes derided for letting things get out of control or for failing to acknowledge the needs of the Salafist students.
In many ways, his troubles offer a window into the forces at work in Tunisia today as the country tries to build a new order, balancing the freedoms of democracy and religion and the complex yearnings of people who, after living under repressive rulers for nearly 60 years, have little experience in accommodating their diversity.
The Arab Spring began in Tunisia, and it remains the bright spot in the region, with a moderate Islamist party taking power, a constitutional assembly elected and working, a small educated society and a strong middle class. But just like Egypt, Libya and even states where the government did not fall, like Morocco, Tunisia is still struggling to come to terms with what role Islam will play in public life. It is a struggle that many Tunisians believe could prove to be the making — or the unmaking — of their fledgling state.
More moderate Tunisians have increasingly raised concerns about what they see as thuggish behavior by hard-line Islamists that goes unpunished. Late last month, the authorities arrested 15 people after Salafists went on a rampage, burning police stations and attacking bars selling alcohol in several towns in the northwest.
“The law will be applied,” said Said Mechichi, the secretary of state for the interior, according to Tunisia’s official TAP news agency.
But at Manouba, Mr. Kazdaghli has had a hard year, with little assistance from the authorities. Once, protesters kept him imprisoned in his office until 4 a.m. On other days, protesters did the reverse, holding sit-ins in his lobby and blocking him from getting to his desk.
For nearly a month, the Faculty of Letters, Arts and Humanities that Mr. Kazdaghli heads was shut down completely by demonstrators, preventing thousands of students from taking exams.
Though he has asked for help from the government, not much has been forthcoming. The police removed protesters from the Manouba campus only once, he said, after a Salafist protester took down the Tunisian flag to fly a Muslim flag instead. Videos posted on YouTube show a young female student trying to put the Tunisian flag back up and being flung to the ground by a Salafist.
At the time, the minister of education, Moncef Ben Salem, told reporters that Mr. Kazdaghli had mishandled the situation at Manouba, failing “to do what needed to be done to resolve the situation peacefully.”
But the mild-mannered Mr. Kazdaghli shows little inclination to back down. He is not about to give up one of his much-needed classrooms so the students can have a prayer room, especially, he said, when such facilities exist nearby. Nor is he willing to allow female students to wear veils in class, as Salafists demand.
“How can you teach a student when you cannot see her face — or give an exam when you don’t know who it is?” he said.
The more cosmopolitan Tunisians who live along the richer coastal areas by and large side with the embattled Mr. Kazdaghli, who was once involved with the country’s Communist Party, a group that, like the Islamists, was repressed under the country’s former leader, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.
Such supporters see Mr. Kazdaghli’s predicament as a dangerous omen — a sign that the new government, led by the moderate Islamist Ennahda party, is unwilling to hold ultraconservative Islamists to the rule of law.
They worry about other recent events, too, most notably a verdict fining a television executive about $1,600 for showing a film, “Persepolis,” which some Muslims find offensive because it includes a scene depicting God. They are concerned about not only the conviction, but also the fact that no one has ever been prosecuted for the attacks on the television station or for throwing a gasoline bomb at the executive’s house.
But others say that the government is just being pragmatic, that it is conducting a careful balancing act, trying not to lose voters before new elections scheduled for next year. Abou Yaareb Marzouki, the deputy prime minister for education, brushed off concerns about the fine levied on the television executive. “You can’t even buy lunch for that sum,” he said.
For their part, Salafists remain deeply disappointed by the new order for not doing more to enforce a religious way of life. Rafik Ghaki, a Salafist lawyer and activist, said Salafists would continue to push for Shariah law, which he believes is misunderstood and could produce fair justice even for Tunisia’s non-Muslim citizens. Mr. Ghaki said that violence was unacceptable. But he said when it did occur, as when Salafist demonstrators head-butted a journalist leaving the “Persepolis” trial, it was usually provoked.
Still, there is much in Tunisia that seems hopeful. Inside its Parliament building, the National Constituent Assembly has been weighing the articles of a new constitution and sounding as lumbering, and stable, as any Western governing body.
On a recent day, the assembly was mulling budget measures. Members pointed out proudly that this year’s funds would be divvied up based on a formula that would take into account calculations of need.
“We are sending a message of the revolution,” said Lobna Jeribi, who is on the assembly finance committee. “It’s not just the whim of a government official that will decide where the money goes, as it was in the past.”
Across town on the same day, however, Mr. Kazdaghli was huddled in his office with two journalists from The New York Times trying to get the police to escort them out of the building. “This is what I live with,” he said.
The furious student outside the dean’s office, Mohamed Rafik Alegui, 28, railed about a disciplinary hearing that morning that recommended he be suspended for a month for threatening a teacher.
Mr. Alegui repeatedly shouted through the door that Mr. Kazdaghli, who is an expert on minorities in Tunisia, including its Jewish population, was a Zionist. He complained that the Salafists had been disciplined while the administration did nothing “about all the kissing on campus.”
Mr. Kazdaghli called the police several times, finally telling them that he had two journalists in his office and that the police would regret not coming. They arrived about 20 minutes after the call.
JP/ NurhayatiHard-liner group Islam Defenders Front (FPI) reported publishing company PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama (GPU) to the Jakarta Police on Monday for circulating a book it claimed “defamed Islam”.
FPI spokesman Munarman said that the book in question was the Indonesian translation of US theologian Douglas Wilson’s Five Cities that Ruled the World: How Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, London, and New York Shaped Global History.
The Indonesian translation, entitled 5 Kota Paling Berpengaruh di Dunia, was published by GPU, a subsidiary of Jakarta-based media conglomerate Kompas Gramedia Group, earlier this year.
“Passages on page 24 of the book put forward ideas of Prophet Muhammad PBUH as a thief and a pirate who raided caravans and ordered murders to take control of Medina,” Munarman told reporters.
“This is clearly a defamation of Islamic teachings, as Prophet Muhammad PBUH symbolizes those teachings,” he said.
The FPI accused GPU of violating Articles 156a, 157, and 484 of the Criminal Code on religious defamation, hate speech, and printing texts liable to criminal charges.
The Code stipulates five years in prison for religious defamation, two-and-a-half years for hate speech, and one year for printing texts liable to criminal charges.
Data from the police show that the FPI included the names of GPU chairman Wandi S. Brata, along with translator Hendri Tanaja and editor T. Herdian in their report.
“We hope that our report will be followed up according to the law,” Munarman said.
The case first entered the national spotlight when one of the book’s readers, identifying himself as Depok resident Syahruddin, wrote a letter about the alleged defamation that was published in Republika on June 8.
Wandi replied to the letter the next day, also in Republika, saying, “[GPU] deeply apologizes for our negligence in publishing a translation of the book as it is.”
Wandi continued by saying that the company had pulled all the books from circulation and would soon destroy them all.
However, FPI Jakarta secretary Habib Novel said that he could still find the book at a Gunung Agung outlet at Arion Mall in Rawamangun, East Jakarta, on June 10. “I have submitted both the book and the purchase receipt to the police as proof that the book was still in circulation.”
According to Munarman, cases like these cannot be solved by withdrawing the books from the shelves. “Religious defamation is a crime. Look at a corruption case — do you think the case is solved once the perpetrator says that he’s sorry?”
Kompas Gramedia Group corporate communications director Widi Krastawan said that the company would review GPU’s production process thoroughly in the wake of the incident.
“We will see what is wrong with the system and how such negligence can occur,” Widi told The Jakarta Post over the phone.
He acknowledged that literal translations were problematic in translating a book from a foreign language to Indonesia.
“A sense of language, social context and acuity on sensitive issues must also be considered in translating a book. I believe that there are much better choices of words that should have been used in this case,” he said.
He reaffirmed Wandi’s statement that the company had done all it could to ensure that the book was withdrawn from circulation. “We even went to numerous book stores, even other chains, to ensure that the book is not on the shelves anymore.”
The report was made close on the heels of the FPI’s strong objection to the plan to host US pop diva Lady Gaga’s concert, slated for June 3. The Jakarta gig would have been the singer’s first concert in Indonesia and, at 52,000 seats, the largest leg on her Asian tour. Backed by the police, the FPI condemned Gaga’s music for “promoting Satanic teachings”.
The concert’s cancellation came after the FPI attacked a book tour by Canadian Muslim writer Irshad Manji. The discussions of her book Allah, Liberty and Love in Jakarta and Yogyakarta were forcibly shut down by the FPI with the help of the police.
In MuslimTunisia, As In Nazi Germany, "Degenerate Art" Attacked
Nuit mouvementée à Tunis, salafistes et casseurs sèment la panique
Le Monde.fr avec AFP, AP et Reuters |
Des groupes d'assaillants, dont des salafistes, se sont affrontés avec les forces de l'ordre dans plusieurs endroits de la capitale tunisienne dans la nuit de lundi à mardi, et ont attaqué des locaux administratifs, a indiqué mardi le ministère de l'intérieur, faisant état de 46 arrestations. Une enquête a été ouverte.
Les violences - attaques contre des bâtiments administratifs et affrontements avec les forces de l'ordre - se sont produites en fin de soirée dans plusieurs cités populaires de l'ouest de Tunis, Intilaka, Ettadhamen et Essijoumi, ainsi que dans la chic banlieue nord à La Marsa, Carthage, Le Kram. Les groupes d'assaillants étaient "mixtes" et mêlaient "des gens de la mouvance salafiste et des malfaiteurs", a indiqué le ministère de l'intérieur faisant état de sept blessés légers chez les policiers.
L'incident le plus grave s'est produit à Essijoumi, où le tribunal a été attaqué et le bureau du procureur totalement incendié. "Il y a beaucoup de destructions, et des ordinateurs ont été volés. C'est grave car le tribunal représente la souveraineté de l'Etat", a déclaré le procureur de la République Amor Ben Mansour. Il a précisé que "des citoyens s'étaient mobilisés pour défendre" le bâtiment. Un camion de la protection civile a aussi été brûlé au milieu de la rue.
Le ministre de la justice, Nourredine Bhiri, a dénoncé "un acte terroriste" et promis que les coupables allaient le "payer cher". "Ce sont des groupes terroristes qui perdent leur sang-froid, ils sont isolés dans la société", a-t-il déclaré sur la radio Shems FM. Les violences ont également touché les cités populaires d'Ettadhamen, où un poste de la garde nationale a été incendié, et Intilaka, où la tension restait vive mardi matin, selon un photographe de l'AFP.
Les troubles seraient en partie liés à de précédents incidents suscités par une exposition artistique, le "Printemps des arts" à La Marsa, qui a suscité la fureur d'islamistes en raison d'œuvres jugées blasphématoires. L'un de ces tableaux considérés comme "portant atteinte au sacré" représente des fourmis qui forment le nom d'Allah. D'autres exposent des caricatures de La Mecque et d'un homme barbu avec de longues dents ou encore le portrait d'une femme nue.
La tension est montée dimanche lorsque des salafistes accompagnés d'un avocat et d'un huissier ont ordonné aux organisateurs d'enlever les toiles controversées. La menace a été contrée par une mobilisation de forces de l'ordre, de la société civile et de personnalités politiques venues "défendre la liberté d'expression et de création", selon le mot d'ordre lancé sur le site Facebook.
Le palais Abdellia, qui abrite l'exposition, a été lundi soir, pour la deuxième nuit consécutive, ciblé par des assaillants, selon des témoignages concordants. Plusieurs œuvres avaient déjà été détruites dans la nuit de dimanche à lundi par des groupes qui s'étaient introduits dans le palais. Le directeur de l'exposition, Luca Luccatini, a déposé plainte et estimé que ces actes étaient le résultat d'un mélange de "fanatisme, de manipulation, de volonté d'être médiatisé".
Nombre de Tunisiens s'interrogeaient cependant mardi matin sur le caractère simultané des troubles et l'identité des assaillants. La mouvance salafiste, qui occupe le devant de la scène depuis des mois en Tunisie et dont les actes sont de plus en plus violents, était pointée du doigt. Plusieurs internautes et commentateurs ont relevé que ces violences survenaient deux jours après l'appel du chef d'Al-Qaida Ayman Al-Zawahiri, qui a exhorté les Tunisiens à se soulever pour réclamer l'application de la charia. D'autres encore évoquaient un complot d'anciens RCDistes (parti dissous de l'ex-président Ben Ali) pour déstabiliser le pays et reprendre le pouvoir.
Un autre incident s'est produit dans la nuit de mardi à Jendouba, dans le nord-ouest du pays, où le bureau régional de la puissante centrale syndicale UGTT a été incendié mardi vers 2 heures du matin par des groupes salafistes, selon l'agence TAP. Le secrétaire général de l'UGTT, Hocine Abassi, a évoqué un "développement dangereux" et appelé les syndicalistes à "protéger les sièges régionaux de l'UGTT". Jendouba avait connu fin mai de violents incidents lorsque des salafistes avaient incendié des postes de police et attaqué des établissements vendant de l'alcool.
Place the director Billy Wilder at one end of the chain, and the composer Vernon Duke at the other.
What two other well-known Hollywood figures manage to constitute the links between Wilder and Duke?
And what is it that connects the two,for the moment unnamed men, in the middle?
Show your work.
As a week has gone by, it's time for the answer.
Here it is:
Billy Wilder had a writing partner, I. A. L. Diamond, with whom he wrote the scripts for many of his movies, including "The Apartment" and "Some Like It Hot".
I. A. L. Diamond was born IÅ£ec (Itzek) Domnici in Ungheni, IaÅŸi County, Bessarabia, Romania, present day Moldova, was referred to as "Iz" in Hollywood, and was known to quip that his initials stood for "Interscholastic Algebra League".
It wasn't just a quip, but the truth. He had attended Boys High in Brooklyn in the 1930s, at a time when Boys High was one of the best high schools in New York, and when its Math Team, and the school math paper, The Euclidean, were unrivalled. He took part in
Wikipedia contains this capsule biography:
He was born IÅ£ec (Itzek) Domnici in Ungheni, IaÅŸi County, Bessarabia, Romania, present day Moldova, was referred to as "Iz" in Hollywood, and was known to quip that his initials stood for "Interscholastic Algebra League". [it wasn't just a "quip" but the truth; when he felt he needed to flesh out his name, he took those initials from the mathematics competition that had such an important part of his high school life].]
Diamond emigrated with his family to the Crown Heights area of Brooklyn in the United States at the age of 9. There he studied at the Boy's High School, showing ability in mathematics, competing in the state Mathematics Olympiads in 1936-37, winning several gold medals.
Diamond completed his undergraduate studies at Columbia in 1941. There he studied journalism, publishing in the Columbia Daily Spectator under the pseudonym "I.A.L. Diamond".
The next figure on this American Isnad-Chain is the song-writer Yip Harburg. Like I.A.L. Diamond, he had changed his name. Wiki: Harburg, the youngest of four surviving children (out of ten), was born Isidore Hochberg on the Lower East Side of New York City on April 8, 1896....Harburg's nickname "Yipsel" (often shortened to "Yip") came about as "Yipsel" is how people pronounced "YPSL" -- the acronym for the Young People's Socialist League of which he was a member.
That is what links I.A.L. Diamond to Yip Harburg -- the initials, respectively, of the Interscholastic Algebra League and the Young People's Socialist League, which became part of their show-business names.
What allows us to go Yip Harburg to Vernon Duke? Well, Vernon Duke also changed his name. He was born as Vladimir Dukelsky:
"Vladimir Aleksandrovich Dukelsky (Russian: Ð’Ð»Ð°Ð´Ð¸Ð¼Ð¸Ñ€ Ð�Ð»ÐµÐºÑ�Ð°Ð½Ð´Ñ€Ð¾Ð²Ð¸Ñ‡ Ð”ÑƒÐºÐµÐ»ÑŒÑ�ÐºÐ¸Ð¹) was born in 1903 into a noble family of mixed Georgian-Austrian-Spanish-Russian descent, in Parafianovo, Belarus, then part of the Russian Empire. The 1954 Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians referred to "one of his grandparents" (Princess Tumanishvili) as having been "directly descended from the kings of Georgia". His birthplace, however, was a small railroad station in Minsk Governorate. At that time his mother "happened to be traveling by train".[ The Dukelskys resided in Kiev, and Vladimir's only visit to Saint Petersburg and Moscow occurred in the summer of 1915. The impressions of that remarkable summer were later echoed in Dukelsky's most daring classical composition, the Russian oratorioThe End of St. Petersburg (1931–1937).
At the age of 11, Dukelsky was admitted to the Kiev Conservatory where he studied composition with Reinhold Glière and musical theory with Boleslav Yavorsky. In 1919, his family escaped from the turmoil of civil war in Russia and spent a year and a half with other refugees in Constantinople. In 1921 they obtained American visas and sailed steerage class on the SS King Alexander to New York; immigrating at Ellis Island, where his name was recorded as Vladimir Doukelsky in the French fashion. It was in 1922 in New York that George Gershwin befriended the young immigrant; Gershwin (himself born Jacob Gershowitz) suggested Dukelsky truncate and americanize his name. Dukelsky's first songs published under his nom de plume were conceived that year, but he continued to write classical music and Russian poetry under his given name until 1955."
But the main thing is that Vernon Duke, and Yip Harburg, were collaborators on many songs, including those for "April in Paris" and "Ziegfeld Follies of 1934," just as Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond were collaborators on many movies.
A 14-year-old girl was sexually exploited at a drugs den by a gang of men who treated her with 'indignity and contempt', a jury has heard.
The teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was taken to the house in Brierfield, Lancashire, and allegedly passed around for their sexual gratification.
The 'principal defendant', Mohammed Imran Amjad, 25, bore the 'greatest responsibility for the corruption and abuse of the victim in this case', said the Crown Prosecution Service.
He befriended the girl when she was 12 or 13 and frequently took her for drives in his cars, it is alleged.
Prosecutor Alaric Bassano told Burnley Crown Court: 'It was him who took her on many occasions to the house and him who assisted, encouraged and incited others to rape and sexually assault this girl. On one occasion, he raped the girl himself. Over a period of time he subdued her will and coerced her into submission.’
He said three other men raped her and one man subjected her to a sexual assault.
The alleged victim was about 12, the prosecutor said, when her general behaviour deteriorated. The girl told police that her mobile telephone number was given to Imran Amjad, known to her as 'Immy', by another, and he called to ask to meet up.
Her mother became concerned she spent so much time in his company and confronted him.
Mr Bassano said the defendant’s response typified his 'arrogance', which he said would emerge in the trial. He said: 'When she told him about her age, and when she advanced her accusation that he was involved in an inappropriate relationship with her, he simply shrugged his shoulders and walked away. 'It is to be noted that he did not deny the allegation.'
All six defendants are from Brierfield.
Imran Amjad denies abducting a child, rape, engaging in sexual activity with a child, aiding and abetting rape, and witness intimidation. He is also accused of intentionally encouraging or assisting the rape of the girl by a man known as 'Saj'.
Haroon Mahmood, 22, denies rape and engaging in sexual activity with a child.
Mohammed Zishan Amjad, 24, also denies rape and engaging in sexual activity with a child.
Mohammed Suleman Farooq, 22, denies sexual assault, engaging in sexual activity with a child and witness intimidation.
Shiraz Afzal, 25, and Omar Mazafar, 21, both deny aiding and abetting rape.
From left to right Omar Mazafar ; Mohammed Zishan Amjad; Haroon Mahmood ;
A Saudi city known for its ultraconservatism has created its own version of the "Arabs Got Talent" television reality show, but with no music and women banned from taking part. Instead, competitors will be permitted to perform religious chants, recite poems and engage in sports events.
The contest is being held north of the capital in the city of Buraydah, known as a centre for Wahhabism – a strict interpretation of Islam that is followed in the desert kingdom.
"Buraydah's Got Talent" is the title of the contest which will abide by the strict rules of segregation between the sexes, meaning it is not open to women. Music, singing and dancing are strict no-nos . . . The Saudi version, organised by the internet Buraydah Forum, will take place in the open air before a jury comprising a poet, a television producer and TV presenters,
Saudi Clerics Use Social media to Funnel Funds to Syria Rebels
Jonathan Schanzer VP Research
Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Jon Schanzer, VP for Research and Steven Miller, a Research Associate at the Washington, DC-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies have their latest report on how Jihadis are using social media to raise funds for Syrian rebels via al Qaeda-linked terrorist conduits. Schanzer and Miller recently authored the monograph Facebook Fatwa: Saudi Clerics, Wahhabi Islam & Social Media (FDD Press 2012).
None of this would be particularly bad (especially considering Washington continues to sit on the fence), except that one of the conduits for the Saudi donations is the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society of Kuwait, which was designated by the United States (2008) and the United Nations (2002) as a terrorist entity for arming and financing al Qaeda. The group's involvement is particularly alarming in light of reports that al Qaeda's presence among the Syrian rebels is growing fast.
The campaign to support the FSA extends well beyond the borders of Saudi Arabia. The clerics, via social media, are encouraging international deposits to bank accounts in Kuwait, Egypt,Lebanon,Turkey, Qatar,Bahrain, and Jordan. The accounts even extend outside of the Middle East, including in Switzerland, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
[. . .]
Now, Bureik exhorts his followers to take action against Assad. To inspire them, he began trumpeting the stream of donations coming in to the campaign on his Facebook page. On May 30, he announced that he and his family were donating around $25,000 to the FSA, and that one of his sons was traveling to Kuwait (where the RIHS is based, incidentally) to deliver the money in person. He even relayed the touching story of a cancer-stricken woman who selflessly donated more than $1,000 to the Syrian rebels.
A group of international scientists is sounding a global alarm, warning that population growth, climate change and environmental destruction are pushing Earth toward calamitous — and irreversible — biological changes.
In a paper published in Thursday's edition of the journal Nature, 22 researchers from a variety of fields liken the human impact to global events eons ago that caused mass extinctions, permanently altering Earth's biosphere.
"Humans are now forcing another such transition, with the potential to transform Earth rapidly and irreversibly into a state unknown in human experience," wrote the authors, who are from the U.S., Europe, Canada and South America.
If current trends continue — exploding global population, rapidly rising temperatures and the clearance of more than 40% of Earth's surface for urban development or agriculture — the planet could reach a tipping point, they say.
"The net effects of what we're causing could actually be equivalent to an asteroid striking the Earth in a worst-case scenario," the paper's lead author, Anthony Barnosky, a professor of integrative biology at UC Berkeley, said in an interview. "I don't want to sound like Armageddon. I think the point to be made is that if we just ignore all the warning signs of how we're changing the Earth, the scenario of losses of biodiversity — 75% or more — is not an outlandish scenario at all."
Global population just passed 7 billion and is expected to reach 9.3 billion or more by 2050. "By the year 2070, we'll live in a hotter world than it's been since humans evolved as a species," Barnosky said.
Increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels is making the ocean more acidic, and less hospitable to sea life. By midcentury, humans could have altered more than half the world's land surface.
The swiftness of climate change is likely to outpace the ability of species to adapt, especially as natural habitat becomes more fragmented, Barnosky said.
All this could produce a biologically impoverished Earth that would rob humans of vital ecological services such as insects that pollinate crops, forests that provide clean water, and tropical species that are the source of new drugs.
"We have created a bubble of human population and economy … that is totally unsustainable and is either going to have to deflate gradually or is going to burst," said co-author James Brown, a distinguished professor of biology at the University of New Mexico. "If it's going to burst, the consequences are really going to be grim for people as well as biodiversity and the rest of the planet."
Forty years ago, the Club of Rome think tank caused a stir when it argued that there were limits to world growth. In 1968, Paul Ehrlich, now a professor of population studies at Stanford University, warned of the dangers of overpopulation in his book "The Population Bomb."
"This is what scientists saw in the '60s and '70s," said Mikael Fortelius, a professor of evolutionary paleontology at the University of Helsinki in Finland and one of the paper's authors. "We've never been quite sure when it would happen. We're there now."
Human influence on the planet has become so pervasive that some scientists have argued in recent years that Earth has entered a new geologic epoch, the Anthropocene.
Predicting the timing and exact nature of sweeping planetary change is difficult because of the complexity of biotic systems.
"We may have already passed the tipping point or we may not get an early warning" that it is near, said co-author Alan Hastings, an ecologist and distinguished professor in UC Davis' environmental science department.
The authors got the idea for their review at a 2010 UC Berkeley conference devoted to the concept of a global tipping point.
They looked at evidence of past dramatic shifts in Earth's biosphere, such as the end of the last glacial age, when ice disappeared from nearly a third of the planet's surface, or the lethal changes in the atmosphere that accompanied periods of intense volcanic activity. The consequences usually included mass species extinction, altered food webs and the emergence of new dominant species.
To avert a grim future, or at least make it less grim, the paper calls for significant reductions in world population growth and per-capita resource use, more efficient energy use, less reliance on fossil fuels and stepped-up efforts to protect the parts of Earth that have so far escaped human dominance.
"I'm not personally particularly optimistic," Fortelius said. "I think we had to speak up. We have to say what we see. Whether it will have any impact, I really don't know."
An outspoken supporter of the Murfreesboro mosque has switched sides and joined the anti-Islam movement.
Eric Allen Bell, a documentary filmmaker from California, was a fixture at court hearings and protests over the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro in 2010.
Back then, he was making a movie called Not Welcome, which depicted mosque critics as Southern Christian bigots.
Now he says the mosque is part of a plot to destroy America. He says the mosque is “built on a foundation of lies” in a recent op-ed piece at the anti-Islam site JihadWatch.com.
“I want to communicate that the biggest threat to human rights is Islam,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday.
Mosque supporters say they feel betrayed by Bell. They even wonder if he was a fraud or has been paid off by anti-Muslim groups.
“Only a hired gun would switch sides like this,” said Jace Short of Middle Tennesseans for Religious Freedom.
[. . .]
Bell’s op-ed piece recounts the legal troubles of former Islamic Center spokeswoman Camie Ayash, a convicted felon who served prison time in Florida. He claims the mosque got special treatment from county officials and said he suspects mosque leaders of terrorist ties.
He also accused Lema Sbenaty, a college student who works at a local pharmacy, of leaking confidential medical information about mosque foes to him for his documentary.
[. . .]
Bell is writing a book about his experience and has started a new website, called GlobalInfidel.tv, which he calls a Facebook-style social network for critics of Islam.
Last Thursday, Steve Amundson, a colleague in The United West from California wrote me about lending Bell a hand about some grist for a Front Page Magazine (FPM) piece that was ultimately published yesterday. He was looking for screen shots from the website of a former ICM board member, Mosaad Rawash that Steve Emerson had captured and translated indicating Hamas connections. So I called Bell and told him I would try and find the original Power Point presentation and send it to him. Fortunately we had saved a Power Point presentation developed from the background investigations that Emerson and his Investigative project Team, Liz Coker a local activist and ICM opponent had developed information supplemented by Islamic Society of North America and Muslim America Society pamphlets secured by former Smyrna resident Susan Redmond during an open house in the ‘hot’ summer of 2010. Give Bell credit, in his Front PageMagazine article he gave attribution to the investigative team whose inputs we composed in the ICM background investigation Power Point presentation ultimately used by Liz Coker before a meeting of the Rutherford County Public Safety Committee in late September 2010. (See a Vimeo video version of the Power Point presentation in our October 2010 NER article, “The Murfreesboro Mosque Conflict Chronicles”. That version was produced with the assistance of our colleague in Canada at the Vladtepesblog.)
Below is the FPM article published by Bell. So Bell is not only a convert to the cause, but a mensch for touting the sources who created the evidence of the Hamas links to the ICM Mosque board.
Editor’s note: The compilation of materials used in this article are the result of a collaboration between Steve Emerson, of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, Elizabeth Coker, a retired journalist and stay-at-home-mom, Jerry Gordon, former Army Intelligence officer and a Senior Editor for New English Review, and Eric Allen Bell, Filmmaker and writer. This article was written by Eric Allen Bell who was at one time a staunch pro-mosque supporter, who had a complete change in perspective after the Arab Spring. Bell was banned as a writer from the Daily Kos after he published 3 stories critical of Islam, which ran afoul of the mindset there. For more on that, read “The High Price of Telling the Truth about Islam.”
Sheik Yassin founder of Hamas Hamas Pledge
Pictured Above: Hamas Founder Sheik Yassin and A Hamas Terrorism Pledge, posted online by a trusted Board Member of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, TN.
ISTANBUL — On a trip to Rio de Janeiro, a Turkish notary public gazed at the Christ the Redeemer statue that looms over the Brazilian city and was inspired to build a monumental likeness of his idol: Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey's independence war hero and national founder.
"I said to myself: 'Jesus Christ is a great man, but my Ataturk is as great as him,'" said 78-year-old Sitki Kahvecioglu, who fulfilled his dream 15 years later.
A 22-meter (72-foot) high copper statue of Ataturk — the country's biggest of the iconic figure — was inaugurated on May 19 in northeastern Turkey, a tribute to the near-mystical hold that Ataturk exerts over his fervent believers, whose admiration is rooted in his success in imposing secular values on a largely Muslim nation.
Yet the cult of Ataturk, once a staple of Turkish state ideology, is slowly, sometimes imperceptibly, being diluted, replaced in part by the Ottoman imperial era as inspiration for an Islamist-rooted government with its own set of ideas about modernity, morality and regional stature.
To be sure, Ataturk, whose surname means "father of the Turks," is still seemingly everywhere more than 70 years after his death.
His face is on banknotes. His piercing eyes and widow's peak adorn framed portraits in public offices, and many shops and homes. His sarcophagus lies in a giant mausoleum in the capital, Ankara. Istanbul's main international airport is named after him. Turkish law says it is a crime to insult his name, though prosecutions have eased up in recent years.
But Turkey is a nation in the grip of an astonishing transformation, and such official reverence appears increasingly out of sync with the times.
Today's Turkey is a democracy grappling with an authoritarian legacy, a market economy whose explosive growth in the past decade is the bedrock of newfound swagger and a Western ally with historical and cultural links to the Middle East that place it at the forefront of debate about the change sweeping the region.
It is also led by pious Muslims whose electoral triumphs drained power from military-backed classes that championed the code of Ataturk, who pulled together a nation from the wreckage of the Ottoman Empire, diminished Islam's influence by decree, welded Turkish ethnicity to national identity and reinforced the power of the state over the individual. The current government has sought to soften that credo, preserving Ataturk as a national icon but chipping away at the idea that his word, and traditional expressions of homage, are inviolable.
"In the past, to say 'Ataturk said so' would be the end of the discussion," said Mustafa Akyol, author of "Islam without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty."
Now, Akyol said, more people are willing to challenge Ataturk's precepts, and as a result, followers of his ideology, known as Kemalism, "are becoming more insecure and that sometimes makes them even more insistent about keeping the symbols."
One example of tension-tinged change came on May 19, the anniversary of the day in 1919 that is celebrated as the beginning of the Turkish fight for nationhood — with Ataturk, who only later acquired that surname, at the center of the narrative. For the first time, the militarism of past celebrations was replaced with civilian events hailed by government officials as more inclusive. In Istanbul, a ceremony in front of a statue of Ataturk skipped the traditional moment of silence held in his honor and a band played the national anthem. Some onlookers were outraged, shouting: "We want respect for Ataturk."
Howard Eissenstat, an academic at St. Lawrence University in the United States who is working on a book about the roots of Turkish nationalism, said that some Turks distrust the ruling party for challenging "longstanding definitions of what being a Turk is." He traced the start of this conflict to the 1950 election victory of an opposition group over a party founded by Ataturk, who died in 1938, in a process that accelerated with the opening up of the economy in the late 1980s.
Eissenstat compared Turkey's "cultural war" to what some American conservatives have called a "war on Christmas" — recent disputes in the United States over whether Christmas should be observed as a secular or religious holiday in public settings. He also noted that the willingness of Turkish leaders to acknowledge official wrongdoing in a deadly bombing campaign aimed at crushing a Kurdish rebellion in the 1930s reflected an indirect way of tarnishing the reputation of Turkey's premier historical hero.
"They're highlighting the ways that Mustafa Kemal was directly implicated in crimes," he said. "They see Mustafa Kemal as somebody with a complex historical legacy. They don't feel that he should be at the center of policy, and they certainly don't think that rituals that prioritize the military should be at the center."
Tansel Colasan, president of a foundation that promotes the national founder, wrote in an email that it was "unfortunate" that the leaders of military coups in 1971 and 1980 claimed to act in the name of Ataturk. She also criticized the "jargon of radical/fanatic pro-Islamic media" that has recently denigrated Ataturk, saying it ignores how he laid the foundations of a country that is a symbol of "peace and stability" in the Middle East.
The government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, sometimes accused of illiberal tendencies and score-settling, says it is committed to secular politics and intent on joining the European Union despite a troubled candidacy for membership. At the same time, it has presided over a flourishing of pride in the Islam-based, Ottoman empire and perceptions, open to dispute, that its rulers were tolerant and pluralistic. Old mosques have been restored, Ottoman-era calligraphy is back in style as an art form and period television dramas are popular in Turkey and beyond its borders.
But there is only one guiding light for Kahvecioglu, who poured his savings into the $2.2 million statue of Ataturk in Artvin, his hometown near Georgia. It depicts Ataturk in uniform and a high cap, hunched forward, apparently in deep thought during a campaign against a Greek army just before Turkey was founded in 1923.
Kahvecioglu said he carried firewood from the mountains as a child, went to law school, ran unsuccessfully for mayor, did business for one of Turkey's richest men and ran a charity foundation that built facilities in Artvin. He dismissed criticism on the Internet that he was an idol-worshipper who should have spent the statue funds on the poor. "I was always a rebel against injustice," he said.
And a new generation of Turks is growing up with Ataturk, even if the national adulation is not what it was. Every morning, children in elementary school recite an oath that includes the line:
"O Great Ataturk! On the path you opened, toward the goal you have shown, I vow to march without hesitation."
Iranian Shia Now Realize The Sunnis Will Always Be Their Enemies
Having tried to win the mantle of Foremost Muslim State and Tip-Top Smiter Of Israel, Iran has now realized that it won't work, that Iran will never be the most important Muslim state, that despite all it has done and is doing, and will do to make life impossible for Israelis, the Sunni Arabs will never accept leadership from despised Shi'a, hated Persians. It may be that the Iranian Shi'a, by their miscalculations, have helped bring about not only an end to the Islamic Republic of Iran, and not only to the weakening of Islam within Iran itself, but possibly have brought down, or at least inflicted great damage worldwide, on the Shi'a. One wonders what Vali Nasr is thinking.
And today we have the spectacle of an Iranian military commander warning -- and he's got a point -- the Western world about inadvertently furthering the aims of the most fanatical Sunni Muslims in the Eastern Mediterranean. . He does it not directly, but by talking about Al Qaeda, correctly depicted as an Uber-Sunni group. He is worried about both the possible loss of power and destruction, in Syria, of the Alawites, the pretend-quasi-Shi'a, and in Lebanon, about the survival and power of the Shi'a and of its army, Hezbollah, because the Syrian uprising has now ensured that almost all (there is still General Aoun), of the other Lebanese areagainst them, and the ones they worry about the most are the ruthless and fanatical Sunnis.
The Chairman of the Iranian Joint Chiefs of Staff has a point. But who's going to listen to him? Shi'a Iran has for more than 30 years made itself an enemy of the West, and now threatens to obliterate Israel. And those who are ultimately their most dangerous enemies, not Jews or Christians but the Sunni Muslims, whom they have fooled themselves into believing might accept their leadership, have shown themselves to be, in the end, implacably hostile. And that's good.
Here's the story:
Bringing Al-Qaeda to SE Mediterranean would be a threat for Europe: Iranian general
TEHRAN -- The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of Iran’s Armed Forces says that the United States’ efforts to establish Al-Qaeda branches in Syria and Lebanon will create a greater threat for Europe than nuclear weapons.
“The danger of establishing Al-Qaeda on the southeast coast of the Mediterranean is more dangerous than the threat of nuclear weapons,” Major General Hassan Firouzabadi said in Tehran on Monday.
Firouzabadi warned that a great strategic threat is taking shape in the southeast Mediterranean.
It is widely believed that the United States and its Arab allies in the Persian Gulf helped create Al-Qaeda.
“The global arrogance (forces of imperialism) which created Al-Qaeda and the Taliban and then received serious blows from them and today claims it is at war with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic country of Pakistan has closed its eyes to” its previous mistakes, “and now it is establishing Al-Qaeda in Syria and Lebanon,” he opined.
Even though the U.S. claims it killed the Al-Qaeda leader and buried his body at sea, “today Al-Qaeda has a leader” and the U.S. “knows” him since he is leading the “terrorists and mercenaries in the southeast Mediterranean,” he added.
Firouzabadi, who is also the chairman of the Board of Trustees of Iran’s National Defense University, said U.S. strategists should explain this paradox, namely if the United States is fighting Al-Qaeda in Pakistan and occupied Afghanistan, “why are they again establishing Al-Qaeda on coasts near Europe?”
He went on to say that it would be a strategic mistake to create Al-Qaeda branches in this region because the Europeans would suffer the most serious consequences.
“It is necessary that the United Nations, the Security Council, the secretary general of the United Nations, and the (UN) Human Rights Council prevent this new disaster (from occurring) in the world.”
Firouzabadi said the new plot will pose a serious threat to Europe, the Islamic world, and the entire world.
“With the military knowledge that we have, we consider it a threat to Europe and the Islamic world, and thirdly for the entire world, because Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan created problems for the whole world. Al-Qaeda in Syria and Lebanon would also create a disaster for the entire world.”
He also stated that the Al-Qaeda ideology, which is inspired by the Wahabbis, who regard all other followers of Islam as unbelievers and believe that killing them and raping their women is halal (legal in Islamic law), will actually show no pity for Christians and Jews.
He added, “We hope that the world will think” about it and take prompt action to nip this great threat in the bud and prevent its emergence because otherwise, later it would be difficult to stop it.
General Firouzabadi, who is the chief of the Iranian General Staff, has been warning the West about helping the Uber-Sunnis of Al-Qaeda in Syria and Lebanon. That's not surprising; Iran doesn't want to lose regimes that are allied to, or cowed by, it. But there is something else going on. For thirty years the Islamic Republic of Iran has seen itself as not only the inspiration for the world's Musilms, but the obvious head of the world's Muslims. It has been learning, to its great chagrin, that not even taking the lead, and doing its utmost, to wipe out Israel --- though no doubt if this were to occur screams of pleasure would go up all over Muslim lands -- will cause Iran to be seen as a leader. For the Iranians are Shi'a, despised by the Sunnis who, in whatever lands there is a large enough Shi'a population to matter, but small enough not itself to rule, as it does in Iran -- there the Sunnis disenfranchise, or do not share the national wealth with, or suppress by state power and by the informal application of force by Sunni terrorists and even those Sunnis who just want to have a good time attacking Shi'a (as happens in Pakistan, as a sport and a pastime). The late Al-Zarqawi and those who followed him used to rant about the Shi'a in Iraq as "Rafidite dogs," and it is clear that the Sunnis will never accept their loss of power, and therefore of money, to the Shi'a in Iraq, even though Shi'a Arabs outnumber Sunni Arabs by more than three to one.
Outside Iraq, the Shi'a institutions, and individual Shi'a -- are attacked, and blown up by Sunni terrorist groups such as Sipah-e-Sahaba in Pakistan, kept down by systematic formal and informal persecution in the Eastern Province -- the oil-bearing region --of Saudi Arabia, subdued by force in Yemen when they try to obtain more autonomy, treated with contumely by the Sunnis, always better off than the despised Shi'a, in Lebanon, suppressed by force in Bahrain, prevented from obtaining political power equal to their numbers in Kuwait.
Not everyone in Iran, even in government circles, is a fool. Not everyone can remain permanently unaware that the Shi'a can't possibly hope to become the "leader" of Sunni Muslims, and some Shi'a may now be wondering if they face, not only in Syria, but elsewhere, a determined Sunni effort, that will not end, to push the Shi'a down, to reduce their influence, their power, their revenues, their numbers, their everything.
It may be time at least to consider what, using that phrase beloved of so many, might constitute a "Grand Bargain" with Shi'a Iran.
1. The Western world demands assurances from the Syrian regime that it will cease to support Hezbollah in Lebanon, and will no longer concern itself with Lebanon at all. The Iranians must agree rather than oppose this.
2.. The Western world stops putting pressure on the Syrian regime and does nothing to keep it from suppressing the Sunni Arabs who threaten it. That means the war inside Syria goes on forever, as the Sunni opposition continues to weaken the regime but never manage to topple it. The Alawites are forced to concentrate on staying in power with Christian, Druze, Kurdish, and some Sunni support, but have no ability to meddle outside Syria's borders.
3, The Western world -- that is, the United States -- promises that if Iran gives up its nuclear project, the American government will do nothing to damage the conventional military capabilities of Iran, and secretly gives assurances that it understands that Iran has to remain sufficiently strong to protect itself against the Sunni menace, which is also recognized as a grave threat to the West.
4. In addition, the Americans undertake to prevent Sunni Muslims --the Taliban, for example -- from renewing their campaign to wipe out the Shi'a Hazara in Afghanistan.
5. In the Persian Gulf, the Americans will do nothing to oppose or prevent Iran from making its claims to certain islands in the Gulf, and to Bahrain.
6. The Iranian government is only required to do one thing: give up its nuclear project. It is warned that if it does not do so, the sanctions will never be removed, but go on forever. And as Iran becomes steadily poorer, it will become steadily weaker, and even with a few nuclear weapons, will find itself unable to protect Shi'a populations outside of Iran (say, in Afghanistan, or in Bahrain, or in Lebanon); it will be easier for Sunni Arabs to prey on Iran itself. It is not farfetched to imagine the oil-bearing region of Khuzistan, largely populated by ethnic Arabs, and that part of western Baluchistan which is in Iran's east, and is largely populated by Sunnis, both wanting to break away. And if the Kurds in western Iran were to do so, in order to join the Kurds now practically autonomous in northern Iraq, or the Azeris, fed up with Islamic fanatics, wanted to take control of the territory they inhabit in Iran and join it to secular and therefore comparatively advanced Azerbaijan, what would then be left of Iran?
This Grand Bargain would require that the Iranians come to their senses, soon.
And that is unlikely. The Iranians and the Americans -- they just can't get started. Don't get me started.
Salam Fayyad comes across ss in the international community as a "moderate" man who believes in peace and coexistence with Israel; but his actions reveal that the Palestinian prime minister is anything but liberal or moderate.
The Salam Fayyad government has just punished a school principal for allowing his pupils to dance with Israelis during a trip to the beach in Jaffa.
Because of his "crime," Mohammed Abu Samra, principle of the Al-Slama [peace] Secondary School in the West Bank city of Kalkilya, was reassigned to a remote school.
Fayyad's ministry of education decided on the move after the principle organized a picnic for 45 Palestinian pupils to the beach. "My pupils were attracted to the music and I could not say no to them," Abu Samra told the Gulf News newspaper. "My pupils started dancing and I also joined them." He said that at one point some Israeli men and women joined the dance.
It is hard to imagine, however, that the measure against the school principle was taken without Fayyad's knowledge or approval.
This is the same government that continues to combat all forms of "normalization" with Israel. Many Palestinian groups and political factions in the West Bank have banned their members from participating in meetings with Israelis and the Fayyad government seems to have endorsed this policy.
The most recent "anti-normalization" decision was taken by the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, which operates under the jurisdiction of the Fayyad government in the West Bank. The syndicate issued a warning to all its members against holding any form of contact with their Israeli counterparts, and threatened punitive measures against those who violate the ban.
The Fayyad government has also banned Palestinians from dealing directly with Israeli "liaison" offices in the West Bank. These offices, belonging to the Israeli Civil Administration, were created, among other reasons, to assist Palestinians in obtaining permits to work and receive medical treatment in Israel.
Fayyad was one of the first Palestinian officials to lead a campaign to boycott products of Israeli settlements. His office even invited journalists to cover an event where Fayyad personally set fire to settler products that were confiscated by his police forces in the West Bank.
The Fayyad government is also responsible for the continued crackdown on Palestinian journalists and bloggers in the West Bank. In recent weeks, more than 15 journalists and bloggers were imprisoned or summoned for interrogation for exposing corruption scandals or posting critical comments on Facebook. The crackdown was ordered by Fayyad's attorney-general, Ahmed al-Mughni.
Fayyad's TV and radio stations in Ramallah continue to glorify terrorists and suicide bombers, referring to them as heroes and martyrs and dedicating songs and poems in their honor.
In addition, the Fayyad government continues to hold dozens of Palestinians in prison without detention and is refusing to carry out court orders to release some of the detainees. As one PLO official said, "The judiciary system in Palestine has become a joke under Salam Fayyad and President Mahmoud Abbas."
Fayyad supporters have defended him by blaming Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah faction for human rights violations and the clampdown on journalists and bloggers. They claim that Fayyad has no real powers over the various security forces or the Palestinian Authority media. Nor, they say, does Fayyad have control over the decisions of the attorney-general.
So if Fayyad is not responsible for anything that goes wrong in the Palestinian Authority, why hasn't he, for example spoken out against the violations perpetrated by Abbas and his lieutenants? Or, if he is opposed to the arrest of journalists and the closure of news websites, why hasn't he resigned?
Fayyad often comes across in the international community as a "moderate" man who believes in peace and coexistence with Israel; but his actions in the past few years reveal that the Palestinian prime minister is anything but liberal or moderate, even if he did receive a doctorate at the University of Texas.
By punishing the school principle for allowing his pupils to dance with Israelis on the beach, Fayyad's government is telling Palestinians that their children must not have any contact with Israelis, even if it is intended for entertainment.
If Fayyad does not want Palestinian children to mix with Israelis, why does he continue to live in an Arab neighborhood in Jerusalem that is under Israeli sovereignty? And why does he continue to meet with Israelis on different occasions? If, as his aides say, he despises Mahmoud Abbas and believes that he is leading the Palestinians toward the abyss, why doesn't he tell this to the president in his face? Or is it possible that Fayyad and Abbas are playing the good cop and bad cop?