These are all the Blogs posted on Monday, 15, 2010.
Monday, 15 November 2010
Iran - more Human rights lawyers arrested
Behind the Times Apartheid Pay Wall of Evil - so rather more copy than usual for those without a subscription.
Five more Iranian human rights lawyers have been arrested by the regime in Tehran. Three of them were taken away by security officers at Imam Khomeini airport in the capital when they returned from Turkey on Saturday.
Maryam Kianersi, Sara Sabaghian and Maryam Karbasi were arrested for "security-related offences and violating the Islamic Republic's moral standards outside Iran," said Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, Tehran's chief prosecutor. He added that two other lawyers had also been detained. The three women had signed a letter demanding the release of Nasrin Sotoudeh, another leading human rights lawyer who has been in solitary confinement in Evin prison since her arrest on September 4 and is now on hunger strike. Ms Sotoudeh, 45, whose case is becoming a cause célèbre, is due to go on trial today, charged with threatening national security, although a report at the weekend suggested that it might be postponed.
Human rights groups say the regime, having detained thousands of opposition activists since the presidential election last year, is now targeting lawyers. At least 15 have been imprisoned or exiled.
Background about Nasrin Sotoudeh in the Sunday Times yesterday.
A leading Iranian human rights lawyer, said to be emaciated after weeks of hunger strikes, is due to go on trial next week charged with threatening national security. Nasrin Sotoudeh, whose only crime, according to her supporters, has been to defend political prisoners and dissidents such as the exiled Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi, will face a Revolutionary Court in Tehran. The proceedings are expected to be held in secret.
"Ms Sotoudeh is one of the last remaining courageous human rights lawyers who has accepted all risks for defending the victims of human rights violations in Iran," said Dr Ebadi,
Ms Sotoudeh, 45, a mother of two, represented many of those arrested in the regime's crackdown on dissent after last year's disputed election. In December last year she had her passport confiscated and was turned back at Tehran's airport when she went to collect a prize in Italy. She was subsequently ordered to stop defending clients such as Dr Ebadi, whose assets and Nobel medal were seized during her exile. On August 28 Ms Sotoudeh's home and office were searched and on September 4 she was arrested and held in Evin prison, Tehran. Ms Sotoudeh has been held in solitary confinement and denied almost any contact with her lawyer or family. She was refused permission to attend her father's funeral and unconfirmed reports say that she has been tortured.
The authorities allowed her mother-in-law, sister and children to visit her briefly on November 4. To circumvent the ban on talking to the media Ms Sotoudeh's family posted an internet video of themselves discussing that visit and posted it on the internet. The women wept when they described how thin she was, how her skin had turned black and how she scarcely had the strength to hug her daughter, Mehraveh, 11, and son, Nima, 3.
On Wednesday her husband, Reza Khandan, was allowed a ten-minute visit, his first. She was so emaciated that "her face is no longer recognisable to me", he said. Ms Sotoudeh agreed to drink water but still refuses all food.
Ms Sotoudeh "has dedicated her life to defending the rights of the accused, often at great risk to herself and her family. Now she is behind bars for no other reason than being unwilling to compromise with the authorities when it comes to safeguarding her clients' rights," said Susan Tahmasebi, a founder of the Million Signatures campaign for women's right in Iran.
Posted on 11/15/2010 4:13 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 15 November 2010
Klinghoffer on the New American Jewish History Museum
Judith Apter Klinghoffer writes at HNN:
Freedom is the grand theme of the new National Museum of American Jewish History located in the Independence Mall in Philadelphia. To emphasize the point, the core exhibition is divided into: "Foundations of Freedom: 1654-1880," "Dreams of Freedom: 1880-1945," and "Choices and Challenges of Freedom: 1945-Today." Freedom, the curators seem to argue, enabled the transformation of a small Jewish frontier outpost into the largest, richest, most important component of the Jewish Diaspora. However, the building, the accompanying text, and strange omissions raise some interesting questions.
Jews are indubitably free in America, but just how free do they feel? Or, to put it more precisely, how free do the museum creators feel? Do they feel free enough to assert their deep commitment to their age old religion? Do they feel free enough to acknowledge their ties to the global Jewish family? Do they feel free enough to take pride in their outsized contribution to America?
The museum building is a large shiny glass box devoid of any Jewish imagery. Inside, the galleries are relegated to the periphery while the center is dominated by empty space crisscrossed by glass staircases in a manner appropriate for a Kafkaesque movie set. The architects were instructed to make sure that "there was to be nothing religious in the Museum" and they have done just that. If, for some reason or another, the Jewish museum would have to give up the building the next tenant would have very little trouble adjusting it to its own needs.
Chasidic or Orthodox Jews (with the minor exception Chabad) who look "too Jewish" are similarly ignored despite their growing number and influence, not to mention, their success in attracting the young. Instead, the museum emphasizes assimilation, secularization and attachment to leftist agitation.
Typically, when museum director Michael Rosenzweig talks about Jewish freedom in America, he emphasized that it means that Jews are also possess "freedom not to be Jewish." It is as if he failed to realize that Jews have rarely lacked the freedom not to be Jewish or that they have been paying enormously high a price for refusing to make it. Few paid higher price than the glorious Spanish Diaspora whose expulsion from Spain after more than a thousand years of continuous habitation constituted the greatest pre-holocaust Jewish tragedy.
To understand the enormity of the event, one has to imagine the consequence of a Jewish expulsion from America. Hence, it should not be surprising to realize that the expelled Spanish Jews played a central role in convincing Queen Isabella to let Columbus sail, helped finance his voyage and some even sailed with him. As Columbus reminded Isabella in his first letter to her, he sailed in the same month she expelled the Jews.
Just as importantly, two of the places Spanish Jews ended up settling were the Netherland and its Dutch American settlements. Unfortunately, the Spanish and the Portuguese with the Inquisition at full force kept conquering more and more of those settlements and that forced Jews who chose to stay Jews to pack their bags yet again. In 1654, 23 such Sephardic Jews insisted on landing in New Amsterdam. Governor Stuyvesant wanted no part of them but, not wishing to alienate their Jewish investors, the West India Company overruled him.
To further ensure the safety of the poor refugees (4 men, 6 women and 13 children), five wealthy Jewish Dutch (Sephardic) merchants arrived in New Amsterdam in 1655. The Sephardic Jews of Dutch Curacao also helped fund most of the first synagogues built in America including Mikveh Israel in Philadelphia, the second-oldest continuously operating American synagogue with which the museum used to share a building a short block away from the current site.
While the museum exhibit does start with the 23 Jews landing in New Amsterdam, the aid extended by other Diasporas to the American one is downplayed. The aid the small American Jewish community extended to other Jewish Diasporas during the notorious the Mortara Affair and the negotiations for Romanian independence is ignored completely as is Jewish aid to Catholic Irish famine victims during the 19th Century. This despite the fact that chief museum historian Jonathan Sarna has written widely on these subjects.
With the exception of American Jewish efforts on behalf of Israel and Soviet Jewry, the philanthropic efforts of the American Jewish community on behalf of other Jewish diasporas in the 20th century was similarly ignored. Moreover, regardless of recent DNA evidence confirming that the Jews originated in the Middle East and the well documented history of Jewish expulsions, museum curators insist on defining Jews merely as a rootless group of "Wandering People" who found a permanent home in the United States of America. Perhaps they worried that placing the history of American Jewry in the wider context of the history of Jewish Diasporas would have shattered the museum attempt to portray American Jews as just another American ethnic group.
To make sure that no one can think of Jews as unique the museum religiously ignores Jewish contribution to America's scientific development. German Jew Albert Einstein is included in the "Only in America" Hall of Fame but there is no mention of the world changing letters Einstein sent to President Roosevelt leading the president to embark on the Manhattan Project.
Nor is there any mention of the American Atomic effort or the fact that it was so heavily staffed by Jewish scientists such as Leo Szilard, Edward Teller, Otto Hahn, Niels Bohr, Richard Feynman and Robert Oppenheimer. No, do not bother to look for their names in the museum. They are not there. You will, however, find a prominent exhibit dedicated to the convicted nuclear spies, the Rosenbergs.
The museum criticizes American Jews for failing to prevent the destruction of European Jewry, but it deliberately chooses to ignore the fact that they did succeed in saving many Jews including important scientists, artists and intellectuals. American Jews then created for the newcomers institutions that enabled them to continue their invaluable work. Two such well known institutions not mentioned in the museum are the Princeton Institute of Advanced Studies and the New School of Social Research. These newcomers in turn helped the United States to win the both World War II and the Cold War.
Actually, popular culture seems to be the only field the museum curators feel they can safely celebrate. But no where will one find the name of Jewish Nobel prize winners in Science, medicine or economics mentioned. Not that composers, artists or public intellectuals fare any better. It seems that the curators wanted to avoid bragging.
So how free do the builders of the spiffy new museum feel? You decide. Still, I suspect the museum is going to be a great success. It is fun. It is full of the latest audio visual gadgets, Bella Abzug's hat, and camp memorabilia. Democratic America has indeed been good for Jews and Jews have been just as good for America. Unfortunately, those responsible for the museum feel too vulnerable to tell the history of their interdependent development in an accurate and forthright manner. What a Pity.
Posted on 11/15/2010 6:20 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 15 November 2010
Is Islam’s First Defeat In Centuries Looming?
Southern Sudan goes to the polls in January to determine whether or not to separate from the increasingly supremacist and rabidly Islamic North. The referendum in the Abyei, Blue Nile and Nuba provinces will be held at the same time or later in the year. The referenda are being held as part of the 2005 Naivasha Agreement between the Khartoum central government and the Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M).
Southern Sudan is non-Arab and the vast bulk of its peoples are black Africans and either Christians or followers of indigenous and ancient tribal faiths. They fought off the French and the Belgians in the mid-eighteen hundreds only to fall prey to Egypt under the Khedive Isma'il Pasha and later to Britain. The insanity of the Mahdi and his followers found no takers in the Southern Sudan and, after his dismissal by British armd forces, the Sudan as a whole remained part of Egypt until 1956 when it gained independence from Egypt and Britain. Regretably no attempt was made to satisfy the aspirations of the southern, Nilotic, peoples at that time and they were consigned to the care of the Arab dominated Islamic government in Khartoum. This led to an immediate seventeen years long civil war during which the south was brutally supressed by the Arab north.
The sheer and blatant disregard by the Arabs for any form of civilised behaviour whatsoever in their treatment of the South and its peoples led to a second civil war breaking out in 1983 - a scant ten years after the first one ended. This brutal and criminal behaviour by the Arabs is currently being repeated in the Sudanese province of Darfur as I referenced here. However, the second civil war was more successful than the first and allowed the SPLA/M to extract the Naivasha Agreement from the Khartoum government on behalf of all the Nilotes in the Southern provinces.
Now, the current government in Khartoum is that of President Colonel Omar al-Bashir (a wanted war criminal) and he supports the Islamic law codes (sharia) which have been introduced by his government. It is this very government which negotiated the 2005 agreement with South and it this very government that is doing its level best to scupper the agreement. It should be noted at this point that the economy of Southern Sudan is the fastest growing in the world and that the South practically floats on a sea of crude oil and is very rich in other resources as well.
The Khartoum government is now engaged in a series of manoeuvres designed to make the full implementation of the Naivasha agreement impossible. The agreement made provision for the referenda on independence but it also made provision for a Census to be taken in order to determine voter numbers and apportion responsibilities and resources. The Khartoum government was supposed to conduct the Census but has crudely interfered with the due process on three occasions and has, consequently, effectively rendered a Census impossible.
Back in October of last year, the Khartoum government and the South Sudanese government agreed that turnout would have to be 60% for the vote to be valid, and that as long as turnout is 60% or higher, a simple majority vote in favour of independence will result in independence for South Sudan. The proposed date for the referendum is 9 January 2011 and should the turnout be insufficient in the first referendum, a second one will be held within sixty days.
The Khartoum government are desperately trying to ensure that the magic 60% will not be reached. It is preventing Southern Sudanese refugees from returning home and is forcibly holding over two million Southerners in so called refugee camps in the home provinces around Khartoum where a campaign of violent intimidation is being waged against them. In other words, exactly the brutal and illegal shenanigans that we have come to expect from Arabs and Islamists are being used by the Sudanese Arabs and Islamists in order to try to win or nullify the referenda.
However, even with the handicap of millions of voters being forcibly kept away from the polls most observers expect the South to provide both a sufficiently large turnout and a sufficiently large vote to ensure Southern independence. The Khartoum government is already whispering that it will not recognise the vote if that happens and the Southern politicians have quite clearly indicated that if they win the vote for independence and Khartoum tries to stall the process at that point then the civil war will resume.
The problem is that this situation in the Sudan is not just about freedom for the non-Muslim population of the Sudan - in Khartoum's eyes its also about demands for freedom from imperious Arab supremacism in Darfur and in East Sudan and the Arabs in Khartoum are very much aware of how shaming this whole process is. They are also painfully and sensitively aware that in even allowing a vote to let non-Muslims secede that they have failed in their duty to spread Islam at any cost, Furthermore, they know that Christians in Southern Nigeria are paying very close attention to the whole referendum process in the Sudan as are suppressed populations all over Africa.
A successful conclusion to this process in the Sudan would be the first crack in the wall of both Arab supremacism and monolithic Islam - it would be, for the first time in centuries, a very real defeat for Islam and its infidel hordes.
However, let us not forget that the referenda processes are far from over and still, in my opinion, not a forgone conclusion. From The Sudan Tribune in this article:
...two military aircrafts belonging to the Khartoum-controlled SAF dropped bombs on southern territory in the state of Northern Bahr el Ghazal. [Nov. 12th. 2010]
This happened, according to Khartoum, because the Southerners are sheltering the so-called Darfuri rebels. From The Sudan Tribune in the same article:
Ahmed Hussein Adam, JEM spokesperson speaking to Sudan Tribune from Doha where he is taking part in discussions between the mediation and the rebel group over the resumption of peace, denied any presence of their fighters in southern Sudan. He further accused the Sudanese government of seeking pretext to delay the referendum on southern Sudan independence.
"These are baseless allegations. This is a conspiracy by the Sudanese government to impede the referendum process," he said.
"But we say they have to hold the referendum on time," he stressed.
The National Congress Party this week repeated accusation to the southern Sudan government of harboring JEM rebels, a matter that southern Sudan officials denied.
Colonel Deng Thiep Akok, a former commissioner of Aweil North who comes from the area also confirmed to Sudan Tribune from Juba occurrence of the incident and disputed claims that the bomb was meant for Darfur rebels.
"Sudan Armed Forces claimed that the bomb was meant for Darfur rebels who are alleged to have attacked Majaac on Monday. Majaac is a settlement under south Darfur territory. They claimed that Sudan Armed Forces attacked Majaac and looted everything before they retrieved towards Gokmachar in Northern Bahr el Ghazal. This is not correct. I come from the area and I am not aware of the presence of some Darfur rebels in the area. As far as I know the area, there are no rebels from Darfur operating in the area presently," said Akok.
The Khartoum government has also resumed censorship. This from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting in this article:
...journalists say that the government's main "red lines" were the publication of articles on the International Criminal Court's case against the Sudanese president, and on the conflict in Darfur. Now though, the government has a bigger concern - the unity of the Sudanese state.
In January next year, the people of southern Sudan will have a referendum on whether they want to become an independent nation. The right to self-determination was granted to southerners in a 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the NCP and the main southern political party, the SPLM. In theory, both parties were supposed to spend the six years until the referendum making unity an attractive option. In practice, neither have done so, and there is a widespread belief that next year's vote will see Sudan split in two.
Mariam Sadiq Al Mahdi, spokesperson for the opposition Umma Party, says the NCP cannot afford secession for two reasons. The first is the ensuing loss of resource-rich southern land. "The government budget is more than 60 percent dependent on oil, mainly from the south," she says.
Second would be the historical stigma on Bashir's government: "They took over a unified country and then it was divided under their rule." At the eleventh hour, the NCP is trying desperately shift course - less by actually making unity attractive to southerners, and more by repressing anyone who speaks of secession.
Ministry of Information advisor Rabie Abdul Atti says that it was journalists who forced the government to resume pre-publication censorship, by writing articles in favor of secession.
There we have it - wicked journalists forced the government to remove their freedoms because they wouldn't write what the government wanted them to. Really! Obviously the Khartoum government has no understanding of freedom at all - it is just a dictatorship out save its own skin. From the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting in the same article:
On June 6, security agents demanded the right to censor Al Midan's work before they sent it to the printing press. Al Midan's editor refused, citing the freedom of expression guarantees in Sudan's internationally sponsored Interim Constitution.
Yep, I was right; just a dictatorship. They aren't even abiding by their own Constitution.
Still, with a little bit of luck this could be a really bad January for Islam.
Posted on 11/15/2010 6:31 AM by John M. Joyce
Monday, 15 November 2010
A Musical Interlude: You'd Fall In Love With Me (Ben Selvin Orch. & voc.)
Posted on 11/15/2010 10:18 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 15 November 2010
A Maharaja Of Music
Geoffrey Clarfield writes in the National Post:
At five o'clock each morning, Shambhu Das rises before the sun. He focuses his attention on a picture of the Hindu God Krishna on the wall of his studio. He prays, meditates and does yoga. Soon after, he lifts up his sitar and performs his scales and exercises. Then he works on a series of compositions, many of which he has received from his guru, Ravi Shankar. Shankar, in turn, received them through his own guru -- a tradition of teacher to student that goes back at least 500 years to the court of the Indian Mughal Emperor, Akbar. His musicians defined the basic outlines of the classical music of modern Hindustan, popularly known as raga.
This northern Indian "Hindustani" tradition differs from the classical music of southern India called the "Carnatic" tradition. Although every proper rendering of raga is new and fresh, both melodically and rhythmically, the tradition is ancient, complex and nuanced. In 1792 the Calcutta-based judge and savant Sir William Jones astonished the musical and scholarly world with his article On the Musical Scales of the Hindus.
Ever since, Western scholars and musicians have been fascinated and inspired by this Indian art -- though Westerners had to wait for the introduction of recorded sound equipment into the Indian Subcontinent during the early 20th century to hear it. The ragas and talas are as numerous and difficult to master as is the repertoire of the classical violin or European Opera.
Continue reading here.
Posted on 11/15/2010 12:33 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 15 November 2010
Kenya's PM Tells East African States To Support Sudan Referendum
Kenya marches with the Southern Sudan (map here) and is host to many Nilotes who fled from the depredations of the Khartoum government in the recent civil war. The following is from THE STANDARD and is from this article therein:
Updated 6 hr(s) 49 min(s) ago
By PETER OPIYO and PMPS
Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga has called on East African countries to support South Sudan go through the much-awaited January referendum.
Raila expressed concern over the wavering peace in the region as the January 9 date nears.
South Sudan is headed for the crucial poll amid problems related to boundary demarcation, delayed voter registration and voter eligibility.
The outcome of the referendum will decide whether Southern Sudan becomes autonomous on January 9. The referendum was one of the key recommendations of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
The PM also emphasised on the need for East Africa Community to build East Africa as an emerging market and make it attractive for foreign investments.
Kenya has a problem with Muslims and Islam and support for the referendum is only logical as a successful outcome (Southern Sudan obtaining independence that is) would secure one of Kenya's northern borders at a critical moment.
Posted on 11/15/2010 12:41 PM by John M. Joyce
Monday, 15 November 2010
Islam Should Become Our State Religion
Joke blog posts, like joke names are sometimes lost on people. Melanchthon does a pretty good job stretching the absurd:
The Guardian became outraged when Iain Duncan Smith suggested that it was a "sin" that society had negligently abandonned 4.5 million people to live permanently on out-of work benefits instead of find ways to get them re-integrated into working life. His "mask" was said to have slipped, though he had "almost succeeded" in pretending there was a proper basis for his policies, more acceptable to our "secular society".
The absurdity of suggesting that Iain Duncan Smith's Christian motivations were any kind of secret and of criticising the use of moral categories to justify his policy approaches - only lefties are allowed to have morals, after all; to be Right Wing is, by definition, to be evil, seeking to impose final solutions on the poor, force them to eat rotting horse-flesh, and cleansing them from beyond the sight of nice middle class folk; any right-winger employing a moral term such as "wrong" or "sin" must have some sinister ulterior motivation - has been covered already by the Editor and by Cranmer.
What I want to add, though, is a challenge to this idea, underlying the Guardian's criticisms, that our society is "secular", by which the Guardian clearly means some combination of atheist materialist and agnostic. The reality is that no free society has even been secular, though a number of state structures have been. Our Establishment cannot, any longer, find inspiration in Christianity, so it must look elsewhere. I shall argue that the best alternative is Islam...
I believe he is saying that there really is no alternative to Christianity, but make up your own minds. Continue reading here.
Posted on 11/15/2010 12:58 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 15 November 2010
Alexei Sayle asks ...
"Is it fat, bald and Jewish in here, or is it just me?"
More Alexei Sayle here. Good stuff, although his politics are brain-dead lefty.
Posted on 11/15/2010 3:30 PM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 15 November 2010
A Winter's Tail
Posted on 11/15/2010 3:38 PM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 15 November 2010
A Musical Interlude: Sittin' Up Waitin' For You (Ted Weems Orch., voc. Red Ingle)
Posted on 11/15/2010 8:07 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 15 November 2010
Weinthal: That Treasured German-Iranian Friendship
From The Wall St. Journal:
The Bundestag's Tehran travellers see no evil in their trip to the mullahs.
Germany has a bizarre way of working through its history. While the government, rhetorically at least, opposes Iran's nuclear weapons program as a threat to Israel's security, members of its parliament courted Tehran's Holocaust deniers just last month.
Five German law makers-including members of Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition parties-traveled to Iran in October to meet with a motley crew of leading human-rights violators, misogynists, and anti-Semites. The five MPs sought to promote "cultural cooperation" between the two parliaments and countries. Ironically, the five legislators went from a closed society in Iran to a closed-door parliamentary session in Germany last week to report on their journey.
While the European Parliament recently refused to visit Iran because of the regime's wretched human-rights record, the German legislators saw nothing wrong with schmoozing with the mullahs. Peter Gauweiler, chairman of the Bundestag's foreign affairs cultural and education committee, told Spiegel Online during his tour of the Islamic Republic that "Germany understands its foreign cultural politics as a contribution to crisis prevention, the protection of human rights and encouragement of freedom."
When asked whether his visit may have had the opposite effect by lending legitimacy to an oppressive regime, Mr. Gauweiler seemed surprised at the thought: "No. Why?," he answered. German language course and university exchange programs could supposedly be enjoyed by Iranian people from all different segments of society, Mr. Gauweiler claimed. Even if true, and it certainly isn't for the thousands of dissidents and persecuted minorities languishing in Iran's prisons, how studying German would improve Iran's human-rights record remains unanswered.
How were German taxpayer euros spent for the six-day trip? The legislators, which apart from Mr. Gauweiler included also Monika Grütters of Mrs. Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, Luc Jochimsen from the Left Party, Claudia Roth from the Green Party, and the Social Democrat's Günter Gloser, met with Ali Larijani, the head of Iran's parliament. That's the same Larijani who at the 2009 Munich security conference caused for uproar when he said his country has "different perspectives on the Holocaust." The German law makers also met Ali Larijani's brother, Mohammad Javad Larijani, who is the head of the Iranian human-rights council. It did not seem to upset the Germans that Mohammad Larijani in 2008-during a German Foreign Ministry-sponsored event close to Berlin's Holocaust memorial, no less-denied the Holocaust and called for Israel's destruction.
The German law makers also talked to Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, who delivered a key speech at Tehran's 2006 Holocaust denial conference. Another dialogue partner was Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, the head of Iran's parliamentary cultural committee, who famously supported Iran's fatwa calling for the murder of British novelist Salman Rushdie.
Mr. Gauweiler and his fellow travelers though found no time to publicly criticize the regime's oppression of religious and ethnic minorities, women, gays or trade unionists. There was no word of support for the Bahai, who are being persecuted for the crime of following their peaceful religion. German law makers apparently also found it impolite to publicly draw attention to the planned execution of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani for alleged adultery.
Instead, according to Iran's regime-controlled Press-TV, Mr. Gauweiler even complained about "Western propaganda against Tehran," and praised his hosts. "During our trip to Iran," Mr. Gauweiler was quoted as saying, "we gained useful experience on the peaceful coexistence of different religious groups within the Iranian society, which is incomparable to what is seen in other regional countries."
When asked about this quote by Der Spiegel, Mr. Gauweiler's response was not exactly an outright denial. "I am not familiar with the details of the reports . . . We have had not only good experiences with the Iranian press," before adding that "one cannot deny that Christian churches [in Iran] can follow their religion more freely than at some of our Arab allies." Sounds like Iran's state media did get the gist of Mr. Gauweiler's statements right.
And this was not an isolated trip by some renegade lawmakers. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and the German ambassador in Tehran, Bernd Erbel, facilitated the visit. Mr. Erbel is typical for Germany's not particularly "critical" dialogue with Tehran. At his appointment in 2009, shortly after the repression of the pro-democracy movement and the discovery of a new uranium enrichment plant, he said how much he was looking forward to "preserving the historical treasure of the German-Iranian friendship."
And the trips of German politicians to Iran just keep coming. Elke Hoff, a lawmaker from Mr. Westerwelle's Free Democratic Party, is slated to arrive on Nov. 20 to meet with "senior Iranian officials," the Tehran Times reports. Ms. Hoff, as the Iranian newspaper points out, is a member of the Bundestag's Defense Committee and Sub-Committee on Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. She is also member of the German-Iranian parliamentary group and serves on the board of the German Near and Middle East Association (NUMOV), a pro-Iranian business trade organization. NUMOV's honorary chairman is former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who last year met President Mahmoud Ahamdinejad in Tehran to promote German-Iranian trade.
It appears that for Berlin, promoting its flourishing trade relationship with Tehran and preserving the "historical treasure of the German-Iranian friendship" trump concerns for human rights and nuclear proliferation.
Posted on 11/15/2010 9:29 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald