These are all the Blogs posted on Sunday, 15, 2012.
Sunday, 15 April 2012
Leading British Muslim leader faces war crimes charges in Bangladesh
One of Britain's most important Muslim leaders is to be charged with war crimes, investigators and officials have told The Sunday Telegraph
Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin, director of Muslim spiritual care provision in the NHS, a trustee of the major British charity Muslim Aid and a central figure in setting up the Muslim Council of Britain, fiercely denies any involvement in a number of abductions and "disappearances" during Bangladesh's independence struggle in the 1970s.
He says the claims are "politically-motivated" and false.
However, Mohammad Abdul Hannan Khan, the chief investigator for the country's International Crimes Tribunal, said: "There is prima facie evidence of Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin being involved in a series of killings of intellectuals. "We have made substantial progress in the case against him. There is no chance that he will not be indicted and prosecuted. We expect charges in June."
For 25 years after independence from Britain, the country now known as Bangladesh was part of Pakistan, even though the two halves were a thousand miles apart with India between them. In 1971, Bangla resentment at the "colonial" nature of Pakistani rule broke out into a full-scale revolt. Hundreds of thousands of civilians were massacred by Pakistani troops. (not to mention the rapes, particularly of very young girls - I was 16 when the news broke and could not understand why girls of 9,10 and 11 were targeted. Surely young women of 18, 19 with mature figures etc would be more attractive to rampaging soldiers? It look me some years before I understood)
Mr Mueen-Uddin, then a journalist on the Purbodesh newspaper in Dhaka, was a member of a fundamentalist party, Jamaat-e-Islami, which supported Pakistan in the war. In the closing days, as it became clear that Pakistan had lost, he is accused of being part of a collaborationist Bangla militia, the Al-Badr Brigade, which rounded up, tortured and killed prominent citizens to deprive the new state of its intellectual and cultural elite.
Since moving to the UK in the early 1970s, Mr Mueen-Uddin has taken British citizenship and built a successful career as a community activist and Muslim leader. In 1989 he was a key leader of protests against the Salman Rushdie book, The Satanic Verses.
Around the same time he helped to found the extremist Islamic Forum of Europe, Jamaat-e-Islami's European wing, which believes in creating a sharia state in Europe and in 2010 was accused by a Labour minister, Jim Fitzpatrick, of infiltrating the Labour Party.
Tower Hamlets' directly-elected mayor, Lutfur Rahman, was expelled from Labour for his close links with the IFE.
Until 2010 Mr Mueen-Uddin was vice-chairman of the controversial East London Mosque, controlled by the IFE, in which capacity he greeted Prince Charles when the heir to the throne opened an extension to the mosque. He was also closely involved with the Muslim Council of Britain, which has been dominated by the IFE.
He was chairman and remains a trustee of the IFE-linked charity, Muslim Aid, which has a budget of £20 million. He has also been closely involved in the Markfield Institute, the key institution of Islamist higher education in the UK.
The International Crimes Tribunal, a new body set up to try alleged "war criminals" from the 1971 war, has already begun trying some Bangladesh-based leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami. Trials were originally supposed to start soon after the war but were cancelled by the military after a coup. The new tribunal was welcomed by most Bangladeshis and international human rights groups as finally bringing justice and closure for the massive abuses suffered by civilians in 1971.
Any trial of Mr Mueen-Uddin would also be fraught with practical difficulties. There is no extradition treaty between Britain and Bangladesh and the UK does not extradite in death penalty cases. Many of the witnesses are elderly and some have died.
However, Mr Hannan Khan said that Mr Mueen-Uddin was likely to be tried in absentia if he did not return. "We have a duty to bring alleged perpetrators to justice," he said. "They must know the fear, however long ago it was. What happened here forty years ago is on the conscience of the world."
In Utrecht, sexy posters have been covered up and a message stuck across them. Many people are annoyed at what they see as "Muslim censorship", others are surprised it hasn’t been done before. It has been in Tower Hamlets and Birmingham.
In Kanaleneiland, a predominantly Muslim area of Utrecht, a poster advertising the open museum weekend has been covered by a black bag. The poster shows a woman in a short pink strapless dress. A message reading 'La ilahe il Allah – No Sexually Tinted Advertising In Our Suburbs. Stand Up And Fight Against This Case To Protect Our Children!' is plastered across the bag.
Another poster showing a woman in a bikini in the distance walking on a beach has also been covered up. The next day the cover had been taken off, but angry reactions had already started appearing on the internet. Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders even asked questions in parliament about this 'Islamic censorship'.
In 2010, people in various cities damaged posters advertising Sapph lingerie with women posed provocatively in sexy underwear, and men’s tailor SuitSupply received a wave of criticism for its advertising posters showing a scantily-clad model in sexually suggestive poses with men in suits. It wasn’t just the religious fanatics who were up in arms; feminists also objected to the "sexist" campaign.
And what does a young Muslim woman, who has just arrived in the Netherlands, think about a poster showing a woman in bikini? She uses a Dutch sentence she has just learnt. “It’s cold!”
According to AD Netherlands the young woman wearing the Charleston dance dress is advertising a Museum of Finance event this weekend. Hence the piggy bank under her arm. Posters for the same weekend event using male models have not been touched. They are perplexed that a model clothed in a dress (albeit a bright pink, short and strapless one) and tights should be considered offensive. Perhaps the piggy was also offensive?
Flytilla â€œWelcome to Palestineâ€� protest is a bust for a second year
Pro-Palestinian Flytilla Protesters at Charles de Gaulle Airport in France
The Global March to Jerusalem and Land Day on March 30th was a bust. A million Muslims didn’t show up on Israel’s borders, despite minor rock and fire bombing attacks in the face of significant security precautions taken by Israeli national police and the IDF. Today’s Flytilla “Welcome to Palestine” fly-in protest has fizzled. Largely because international airlines, especially those in the EU, have cancelled tickets for Flytilla protesters. According to a Yisroel Hayom report, “Israel blocks pro-Palestinian activists at Ben-Gurion Airport, less than 150 are expected to fly in. Those that do will be were screened and immediately ejected. Only a few activists will be permitted to enter. More than 1000 activists were denied flights from EU airports causing protests there. Israel had deployed more than 650 national police at Ben Gurion airport to assist in security arrangements to stop and eject arriving Flytilla protesters. The Jerusalem Post noted the disposition of the few dozen fly-in protesters who arrived at Ben Gurion Airport, today:
Police detained a few dozen pro-Palestinian activists who flew to Israel as part of the protest. The activists hoped to draw attention to Israel’s practice of barring foreigners it believes could cause trouble by engaging in pro-Palestinian activities during their visit.
So far, 43 activists have been denied entry, 31 have been taken to the Givon prison facility in Ramle and 12 activists from Portugal, Canada, Switzerland, and France were already flown out of the country. Nine left-wing activists who came to Terminal 3 from outside of the airport were detained as well.
This is a busy day at Ben Gurion with more than 50,000 Israelis returning from Passover holiday trips abroad.
Watch this JerusalemPost You Tube video report on the Flytilla.
Yisroel Hayom noted the extensive security procedures involving social media used to black list Flytilla protesters:
The blacklist of passenger names includes about 1,200 activists, who were identified by intelligence sources using posts to Twitter and Facebook. Passengers on that list who arrive in Israel will be questioned and be asked to sign a declaration stating they do not intend to enter Judea and Samaria without approval from an officer with the rank of colonel.
Israel had sent a list of suspected activists to international airlines, asking the carriers to block them from boarding Israel-bound flights. It warned the airlines they would have to cover the cost of the activists' return flights, and threatened unspecified sanctions on airlines if they did not comply.
Some airlines, including Lufthansa, EasyJet and Air France canceled the tickets of some 400 activists and made official announcements about their actions. Other airlines did not make such announcements but indicated they would also honor Israel's request.
Leehee Rothschild, a "Welcome to Palestine" member, said that dozens of activists had since been informed by airlines that their tickets to Tel Aviv had been canceled.
[. . .]
Last July, Israel blocked a similar fly-in effort by preventing dozens from boarding Tel Aviv-bound flights in Europe and denying entry to 69 people.
Israel limits access to the border crossing to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip to foreign journalists, diplomats and aid workers.
One feature of Flytilla 2012 was a ‘sarcastic letter’ prepared by Prime Minister Netanyahu’s National Information Directorate and given to each arriving Flytilla protester on arrival. As noted in the Yisroel Hayom article, the letter ‘thanked them’ for choosing to fly in to the ‘only Democracy in the Middle East:
Dear activist: We appreciate your choosing to make Israel the object of your humanitarian concerns. We know there were many other worthy choices. You could have chosen to protest the Syrian regime's daily savagery against its own people, which has claimed thousands of lives. You could have chosen to protest the Iranian regime's brutal crackdown on dissent and support of terrorism throughout the world. You could have chosen to protest Hamas rule in Gaza, where terror organizations commit a double war crime by firing rockets at civilians and hiding behind civilians.
But instead you chose to protest against Israel, the Middle East's sole democracy, where women are equal, the press criticizes the government, human rights organizations can operate freely, religious freedom is protected for all and minorities do not live in fear. We therefore suggest that you first solve the real problems of the region, and the come back and share with us your experience. Have a nice flight.”
The organizer of Flytilla is Mazin Qumsiyeh, a University of Bethlehem professor and leader in the international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israeli-made goods. Qumsiyeh is a Palestinian Christian from the community of Beit Sahour.
The point is to show the world that Israel is preventing people from visiting Palestine.
By entering Palestine through Ben-Gurion airport, hundreds of people over 48 hours will send a message that we want Israel to recognize the basic human rights ... of those who want to visit us.
As in 2011, it would appear that Qumsiyeh’s Flytilla plans have fizzled for a second year in a row. Will there be another one, next year? As Qumsiyeh has thousands of anti-Israel allies abroad willing to make the trip to Israel, it may will happen again and again. That is, until Israel withholds tax remittances to the Palestinian Authority to cover the cost of police security at Ben Gurion, inclusive of the temporary detention of activists before deportation.