These are all the Blogs posted on Friday, 15, 2011.
Friday, 15 July 2011
Mosque worker paints over Banksy work as graffiti
To be fair, he isn't the first person to paint over Banksy's work thinking it was worthless graffiti as opposed to valuable graffiti; it's an easy mistake to make. From Small World News Service yesterday, taken up by the nationals today.
The ‘Gorilla in a Pink Mask’ stencil on the wall of a former social club had been a familiar landmark in Eastville, Bristol – Banksy’s home city – for more than 10 years.
It depicted a large hairy gorilla holding up a pink eye mask to his face. But the iconic picture, on Bristol’s Fishponds Road, was whitewashed after the building was turned into a Muslim cultural centre. Saeed Ahmed, owner of the cultural centre, said he assumed it was a regular piece of graffiti and confirmed he had it painted over the Banksy.
Mr Ahmed, who claimed never to have heard of the famous artist, said: ”I thought it was worthless. I didn’t it know it was valuable. That’s why I painted over it. I really am sorry if people are upset.
Small World have changed their picture this morning; here's one I prepared earlier. Banksy or not I doubt the mosque really approved of depictions of humans and other living things, especially an ape and mention of a dog.
From RTE - Radio Ireland or Raidió Teilifís Éireann
Belgium will enforce a burqa ban from 23 July with a fine and possible jail time for women who wear it, Belgian media has said. It joins France as the second European Union nation to forbid full veils.
The new law was published yesterday in the kingdom's official journal after deputies approved it unanimously in parliament in April. Offenders will face a fine of €137.50 and up to seven days behind bars.
Buddhists in insurgent wracked Yala were advised not wait until moonrise tonight for the traditional 'wian thian' candlelight ceremony - so they rushed to get it done in the daylight hours, starting around noon. Wian thian, a ceremony in which worshippers holding candles move in a circle clockwise around a Buddha statue in a show of highest respect, is an essential element of Buddhist holy days.
Today is Asalaha Bucha, commemorating the day the Gautama Buddha first addressed his first five followers in the forest.
The ceremony is traditionally held at night, but in southernmost Yala officials asked the 17 temples celebrating Asalaha Bucha to perform the ceremony around mid-day or early evening at latest. They said a moonrise celebration might be dangerous for monks and Buddhists in the Muslim-dominated province where separatist attacks are an almost daily event.
At Wat Lak Ha in Yala’s Muang district, wian thian quickly followed merit-making, which started at 10.45am. As monks led Buddhists in a procession around the Buddha image, soldiers stood on guard against attacks.
There were no reports of violence in Yala, but in adjoining Pattani province a 16-year-old boy was killed and two other people wounded when a gunman opened fired in a morning market today.
Except for the security-conscious atmosphere in the deep South, other provinces marked the day's importance in cheerful mood, ahead of the start of Buddhist Lent, Khao Phansa, on Saturday. . . Nonthaburi, where the Chao Phraya river runs through the province, held the traditional procession of the Buddhist Lent candles, a symbol of intelligence, on the water. Giant, beautifully-crafted candles were carried by 50 boats to Wat Bot Bon in Bang Kluai district. The temple will later share them out to 48 other temples in the province.
Steve Chapman trots out the usual libertarian argument for polygamy, which is that it can't be any worse than the promiscuous free for all we have now, so why should it be illegal?
Sure, why not destroy the basic institution of Western civilization (the partnership of a man and and woman working to create a home and instill in their children values such respect for women)? Where the mother and father are not equal partners in the home. the children will learn that women are less than men, as they are in polygamous situations. Accepting polygamy means immediately losing female equality. That's why not.
Muslim clerics have asked the government to act on schools that force students to attend classes after 4pm. They say this denies Muslim children time to attend religious lessons, Madrassa. The clerics said girls are the most affected. "Our children, especially those from class four upwards spend too much time in school at the expense of religious teachings. They go to school from 6.30am to 6pm," said Sheikh Twaha Omar, the chairman of the Kenya Muslim Yatima Foundation.
Speaking at a meeting between Muslim clerics and the government chief whip Johnstone Muthama, Sheikh Twaha said the only days the children attend madrassa are Saturday after 2.00pm and Sundays. "This is not enough time to teach our children the religious lives they should live. We would like the government to act on those teachers who force students to go for tuition up to 6.00pm," said Sheikh Twaha.
Muthama, who is also the Kangundo MP, said religious education is the foundation of all education.
The government banned tuition in all public schools in 2008 arguing that parents were being exploited by teachers through extra fees. Coast provincial director of education Tom Majani said the ban is still on. He however blamed parents for putting pressure on schools to introduce such classes. "What is done in schools in most cases is a result of pressure from parents, who want their children to get as much as possible from their teachers," said Majani. He said not all schools force their students to attend tuition classes. "We should not generalise the problem. Let them point out the specific schools and we will act on them," he said.
It tells the already-informed something, but won't make much sense -- no context, no discussion of who the Alawites are, how they came to rule, and what that rule means for the Christians -- and there is no attempt to enlighten. Nor does one understand that this is a matter of survival for the Alawites, and the Christians.
Why would Al Jazeera allow even this brief hint that life for Christians is better, is tolerable, when Islam, when Muslims, are held in check by local despots?
A two-minute clip was probably felt to be short enough not to cause too much thought. And many Arabs, including "progressive" Arabs, know that the position of the Christians in Syria is special, almost unique, and this cannot be completely ignored in any coverage of the Syrian situation. So Al Jazeera decided to offer the absolute minimum rather than omit any coverage of the Christians. Two minutes out of thousands of hours of such coverage is not much..
More importantly, organized Arabdom has decided that the Syrian regime should be supported, or at least not vilified. Unlike Qaddafy, who mocked Arab leaders and plotted against them, Assad has always tried to maintain cordial relations with other Arab states. He has courted danger by supporting Iran, and Hezballah, but on the other hand, while Sunni Arabs may fear and detest the Islamic Republic of Iran, with its Shi'a missionaries and military, Syria does appear to be unswervingly serving a higher good: the unyielding, and immutable, Jihad against the Infidel nation-state of Israel. And for that, much can be forgiven.
Finally, if another regime goes, that makes other regimes -- even that of the waddling Al-Thani emir in Qatar -- worry. Any hint of dominoes falling is to be deplored. And the Al Thani emir, who maintains good relations with Iran as with the Sunni Arabs of the Gulf, is the bankroller and protector of Al Jazeera, the Arab, or more accurately Qatari Arab, propaganda network.
It's Already Happened In Aleppo, Once, So Why Not In Damascus?
Syrian forces fire on massive rallies; 17 killed
By BASSEM MROUE
BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian security forces killed at least 17 protesters Friday as hundreds of thousands flooded the streets nationwide in the largest anti-government demonstrations since the uprising began more than four months ago, witnesses and activists said.
In a significant show of the uprising's strength, thousands of protesters turned out in the capital, Damascus — the seat of the regime's power — which has been relatively quiet so far.
The crowds also took to the streets in areas where the government crackdown has been most intense, a sign that President Bashar Assad's forces cannot smother the increasingly defiant uprising.
The protests stretched from Damascus and its suburbs to Hasakeh and Idlib provinces in the north, Daraa in the south and Latakia on the coast. Thousands converged on the flashpoint cities of Homs and Hama in central Syria, among other areas across the nation of 22 million.
"All hell broke loose, the firing was intense," an activist in Daraa told The Associated Press, asking that his name not be published for fear of government reprisals.
The uprising is the boldest challenge to the Assad family's 40-year dynasty in Syria, one of the most authoritarian states in the Middle East.
Assad, now 45, inherited power in 2000, but there were hopes that the lanky, soft-spoken young leader might transform his late father's stagnant and brutal dictatorship into a modern state.
Over the past 11 years, hopes dimmed that Assad was a reformist at heart. As his regime escalates a brutal crackdown, it seems unlikely that he will regain political legitimacy.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday that Assad "has lost his legitimacy in the eyes of his people" because of the brutal crackdown.
"I think we all share the same opinion that what we are seeing from the Assad regime is a barrage of words, false promises and accusations is not being translated into any path forward for the Syrian people," she told reporters in Istanbul, Turkey.
But, she said, it is up to the Syrian people to decide their own destiny.
David Schenker, director of the Program on Arab Politics at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said the large numbers protesting in Damascus suggests more people are giving up on the regime because the momentum is with the uprising.
"Damascus is not Hama... it is not Daraa, it's not on the perimeter. This is the heart of the regime, and so I think if these protests continue and gain strength there, then it will be beginning of the end of the regime," he said.
The fallout would be difficult to predict because Syria is a highly unpredictable country, in part because of the regime's web of allegiances to powerful forces including Lebanon's Hezbollah and Shiite powerhouse Iran. But serious and prolonged unrest would hurt the regime's proxy in Lebanon — Hezbollah — and weaken Iran's influence in the Arab world.
Friday's casualties included nine people in Damascus, two in the Damascus suburb of Douma, three in the northwestern city of Idlib, one in the central city of Homs and two in Daraa in the south, according to the Local Coordinating Committees, which have a network of sources on the ground.
Activists say the government crackdown on dissent has killed some 1,600 people, most of them unarmed protesters. The government disputes the toll and blames the bloodshed on gangs and a foreign conspiracy to sow sectarian strife in Syria.
State-run Syrian TV said gunmen opened fire at demonstrators and security forces killing a civilian in Idlib, another in the Damascus neighborhood of Qaboun and a police officers in Homs. The TV added that eight policemen were wounded in Homs as well.
Syria has banned most foreign media and placed tight restrictions on reporters, making it difficult to independently confirm accounts out of Syria.
In the past, the regime pointed to the quiet streets of Damascus to argue that the protest movement is marginal and cannot threaten Assad's power. But Friday's protests will make it more difficult to dismiss the uprising.
"The number of protesters in Damascus shows that the uprising is gaining momentum week after week, day after day," said Mustafa Osso, a Syria-based human rights activist.
One of the largest protests took place in Hama, Syria's fourth-largest city and an opposition stronghold. An activist in the city said many people from nearby villages joined the protests.
He added that Hama, which has been out of government control since early June, is suffering from lack of medicine and food due to a siege by troops. He said diseases are spreading because garbage has not been collected over the past two weeks.
The Syrian opposition dedicated Friday's protests to the tens of thousands of people detained since the uprising began in mid-March. Activist say about 15,000 are still being held.
Are Alawites Muslims? Sunni Muslims Don't Think So
13 July 2011
Ali the Muscle
Johnny West, a writer specializing in the Middle East, reports from Lebanon on the ripple effects of the current uprising in Syria. He describes the refugee crisis at the country’s borders, and gives a glimpse into the sectarian dynamic as the death toll from the protests continues to rise.
On one side of the conflict are the Alawis, the minority sect from which Syria’s ruling Assad family comes; on the other are the majority Sunni Muslims. West finds himself in the middle of clashes between the two groups in Tripoli, in northern Lebanon.
Demonstration in Banyas, Syria, 6 May 2011
I was looking for Syrian kind of trouble but couldn’t get into Syria. Due in Beirut for a work trip, I had arrived a few days early to head up to Wadi Khaled in Lebanon’s far north. A small lick of land up there juts into Syria just south of Krak des Chevaliers and thousands of people from towns on the Syrian side of the border had fetched up in the preceding weeks before, fleeing house to house searches and outright invasion by their own army. Just the intense awareness of being in the line of sight of an invisible sniper’s rifle, on open ground. I’d met refugee families camped on open farmland, others who still commuted to Lebanon freely from the city of Homs as business owners or day labourers, and the many extended families whose members straddled the border. I’d walked across a freshly cropped field of hay to the edge of the Kabir River and looked twenty yards across the knee-deep muddy water to Syria, its reed beds, market garden hothouses and dirty, small-town concrete buildings indistinguishable from the Lebanese side on which I stood. No barbed wire or walls, no flags even. Just the intense awareness of being in the line of sight of an invisible sniper’s rifle, on open ground.
Evidence of the crisis was everywhere. I forgot the rules of journalism and found myself stuffing a paltry wad of Lebanese lira into the hand of a reluctant elder, only to curse myself and the young man who trailed me back to my car looking for his own handout. But the humanitarian crisis itself was generic, much as it must have been in Kosovo or Bosnia, Libya or Iraq. As mobile, affluent, privileged outsiders, our questions to these refugees who had so recently had to flee their homes were just points along the single vector of suffering – how much have you suffered, are you suffering, will you suffer, and in what ways? That accumulated suffering, weighed and conveyed, becomes a kind of combustible fuel that feeds the news cycle.
But the political talk was more striking. The Syrians streaming across the border were Sunni Muslims from the heartlands – Homs, Hama, Tal Kalakh – and their hearts were full of hatred for the Alawi sect from which the Assads come. Not just the Assads themselves, or the regime which they head, but all two and a half million of the Alawis in Syria.
‘Why does the Alawi behave like an animal?’ said Abu Mohammed, sitting in his workshop he has run in a Lebanese village just over the border for the last ten years.‘Because he has no religious deterrent. You and I believe in Heaven and Hell – we are afraid of God. But for the Alawi this life is all there is. We are less than animals to him.’
‘They are not Muslims,’ said Abu Ahmad. ‘They say they are Shia but they’re not.’
These people had plenty of reason to be angry. I’m not sure I’d choose my words carefully either if I was sleeping in a makeshift tent, uncertain of when or if I could ever go home, and worried sick about my son, made to serve in the same army that shot at me and now endangered to some degree, by my marked absence. But the ontological nature of the rhetoric was unsettling. Not what the Alawis do, but what they are. Were the Assads right when they predicted civil war without them? I didn’t want to believe it.
I decided to stop in on Tripoli, Lebanon’s second city, on my way back to Beirut. Most of the country’s 150,000 Alawis live there, side by bristling side with a fundamentalist Sunni Muslim community on the hill overlooking the port. Even if I didn’t have a chance to see the dynamic at work in Syria, it was on full display by proxy in Lebanon.
When I called Rifaat Eid, the man who can get 1,500 armed Alawis onto the streets, he told me to drop by in the evening. How will I find you, I asked. Just head to the Jabel Mohsen district and ask, he said. He was right. Ten seconds after I stopped at a garage to ask, a teenager zipped up on a moped. Follow me, he said, and weaved through the traffic up the hill, then off the road and straight through two checkpoints that stirred into life at our approach, as if his moped and my economy hire car was its own motorcade. A minute later I was parking in front of a house, and the teenager had handed me over to a bodybuilder called Ali – tank top, shaved head, tattoos, modest bling, walkie-talkie and a handgun. As he waddled ahead of me into the house there was a burst of automatic some way off. Not a disagreement I hope, I said, concentrating on an even tone. No, no, said Ali the Muscle, laughing. Celebration. After a four-month impasse, the new Lebanese government had been announced earlier that day and one more minister than expected had been allocated to Tripoli, so the boys – not his boys or their boys but ‘the boys’ in general – were out whooping it up, he explained.
Ali walked me into Rifaat’s office and disappeared. And then Rifaat was straight into me.
‘Look at that collective grave,’ he said, flicking up the volume on a flat screen TV hung against the wall, a pro-regime channel showing concerned Syrian officials talking about the massacre by armed gangs. ‘Isn’t it awful? Why don’t you report on what these criminals are doing?’
It took us two minutes to reach affable stalemate on the relativity of sources. Who was to say that al-Jadeed TV, which he watched, is the one lying and al-Jazeera or the BBC are telling the truth? Surely you can’t believe the regime, I said. You journalists, he replied.
He sat forward, hands woven together on the desk in front of him. He was in his early thirties, with close-cropped hair and a bull neck, wearing a button-down shirt and slacks. Although he told me his wife and children were US citizens and that he himself had a green card and travelled there every summer, Rifaat spoke almost no English.
Behind him was a trophy bookcase stacked with a multi-volume series of the works and collected thoughts of Hafez al-Assad, Bashar al-Assad and Moussa Sadr, the charismatic preacher whom many credit with having helped Lebanon’s dispossessed Shia community find their voice back in the 70s. All of them displaying a large portrait of their heroes spread across the spine of the entire series. Books to be admired rather than read. In English, the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Children’s Britannica and Patrick Seale’s biography Asad of Syria. On the walls were big glossy photos of the Assads father and son, and Rifaat’s own father Ali Eid, who had mobilized Lebanon’s Alawites in the 1970s.
‘Have you read The Protocols of the Elders of Zion?’ he asked me. ‘It’s very good, I’ll find you a copy.’ He started to rummage around in his drawers, muttering something about how, a century ago, it had had the foresight to predict war in underground tunnels. I couldn’t see what was prophetic about that and in fact was more concerned about how to get out of receiving a copy. Where I come from, it’s a book that defiles you.
As we engaged in more back-and-forth about the Western conspiracy to destroy Syria, a coherent discours provocateur emerged. Sure, there’s some corruption in Syria and even, yes, some poverty, he said. But at least you don’t see people rummaging around in rubbish bins, like you do blacks in America, and if there are any issues to sort out, the Assads are just the guys to do it. It wasn’t his riff, of course. This is Baath Party classic.
The stakes were high in Tripoli. The Alawis on Jabel Mohsen and the salafists, or Sunni Muslim fundamentalists, next door in Bab al-Tabbaneh, were in perpetual standoff. In 2008 a firefight had led to several deaths and gang fighting was on-going. Eyes followed you wherever you went in that part of town.Eyes followed you wherever you went in that part of town. My status as a clueless foreigner gave me some minimal protection but an unidentified Arab wouldn’t last five minutes on those streets. Poster iconography deftly defined the boundaries between the two neighbourhoods, Jabel Mohsen adorned with fifteen-foot posters of Bashar al-Assad, one in a handshake with Rifaat, while black flags with the Muslim shahada, the main profession of faith, marked the entrance to the Sunni neighbourhoods along with, here and there, posters of Turkey’s Prime Minister Reccep Tayyip Erdogan.
‘They would kill us in our beds if they could,’ Rifaat said. ‘Two weeks ago the sermon at Friday prayers told them to kill our girls and boys when they get the chance. I heard it myself,’ he said.
Ali the Muscle poked his head round the door twice asking for instructions about this and that. Rifaat also took a couple of phone calls, one of which I guessed was with someone fairly senior in the political class in Beirut. ‘Talk to Walid,’ he said. (Walid Jumblatt, leader of the Druze sect and a veteran player of the Lebanese political game.) ‘Walid knows how to do this.’
The only chink in Rifaat’s armour appeared when, in response to yet another riff on the Western plot against Syria’s noble Resistance – the Assads’ raison d’etre for forty years being their staunch defiance of Zionist aggression – I expostulated: What Resistance is that? What land has it liberated and how many Syrians have fallen martyr to the cause? It’s a common refrain of the Syrian opposition. When the tanks entered Homs, protesters ran out into the streets pointing back behind them – ‘The Golan’s that way!’ But Rifaat didn’t expect it from a Westerner and did a double take. You’re in favour of bloodshed, he asked. I’m in favour of straight speaking, I replied.
Rifaat shifted forward across the desk.
‘Look, you need to understand something. We Alawis were nothing in Lebanon until the Syrians came in 1977,’ he said, referring to the entry of the Syrian army, under the command of Bashar’s father Hafez, at the start of the Lebanese civil war. ‘My father went to America in 1960. He saw Martin Luther King and Malcolm X speak and he got a degree in chemistry. Then he did another degree at the American University in Beirut. Look, there’s his certificate on the wall. And when he’d finished, the only job he could get was as a garbage man or customs clerk. They just wanted us to clean their shoes.
‘He came back home to Tripoli and spent two years thinking about politics. Then he founded the Arab Youth Movement. Then the war started and the Syrians came and they showed us how to fight, how to mobilize. And we learned to defend ourselves. Even when they withdrew, we got two seats in the Lebanese parliament.
‘So I am with them, right or wrong. They are my guys and I am theirs. Right or wrong. Because they are our only hope,’ he said.
I could understand that kind of loyalty, I said. But wasn’t that a personal position rather than a political one? As a leader, didn’t he bear a responsibility to his community to at least try and leave other paths open a fraction? Otherwise, where would they be if the Assads did go down in Syria?
Rifaat just shrugged. Right or wrong, there is no other hope, he kept repeating. A thunderstorm had broken outside and rain crashed against the roof and windows. Rifaat was courteous as he walked me to the door. Ali the Muscle saw me to my car and signalled to his guys to open the checkpoints.
The next day, in Tripoli, Lebanon, I ran into some young bloods by the clock tower in the centre of town. I had foolishly believed the parking meters to be decorative and found my car had been clamped while I was having breakfast. At three dollars, the fine was more of an experience than a deterrent and I called the telephone number printed on the ticket and waited for someone to come release my car. Meanwhile I drank coffee at a nearby street stand.
A young man called Amr was sitting near me on a plastic chair, getting a shoulder rub from his friend. When he learned who I was and where I had been, he spat on the ground.
‘The Alawi are dogs. In fact, that’s an insult to dogs,’ he said. ‘We are going to deal with them. Soon.’
His massaging friend told me he’d just come home from a long stretch living in Sydney. I wondered whether he suffered any cognitive dissonance as he looked out on the street with its chaotic bustle, bullet-pocked buildings and the tide of plastic bags swept by the early morning breeze across the square like urban tumbleweed. Amr was clearly a boss of some kind. He ‘worked’ in the shop we were outside and people came up and asked his opinion on various things, which he issued curtly. As we chatted, a big man, like all of them in his mid-twenties, solidly built and wearing a barrio string vest turned up. They are nothing. Worse than animals. We will cut their throats like sheep, he said.Amr introduced me and his friend stood there, all six foot four of him, and blew me a kiss, po-faced. I’ve always appreciated the potential to demonstrate virility through camp. My grandfather Billy, a decorated career soldier and prize-winning boxer with more than a touch of Errol Flynn to him, had loved cross-dressing for vaudeville. But here it took on a sinister air, a promise, somehow, of blood. What are we going to do to the Alawi dogs? Amr asked. Big Man drew his finger across his throat. The parking attendant turned up on a moped and Amr made to intimidate him into not collecting the fine. I insisted on paying up. The guy, after all, was just doing his job.
As I got into the car, Amr drew me aside, conspiratorially, which was odd since we were already alone. They are nothing. Worse than animals. We will cut their throats like sheep, he said.
I headed on to Beirut where I was giving a workshop on Iraqi oil for the United Nations. We stayed in one of the country clubs above Jounieh, the Maronite heartland, and popped down to Beirut at night along a six-lane, five-mile strip mall with huge posters advertising cosmetic surgery and foreign currency futures. Tripoli was only an hour north but seemed a lot further away.
Three days later, the radio and TV channels were full of news of fighting in Tripoli. After Friday night prayers, there were two demonstrations against the Syrian regime. One, which ran from the main Hamza Mosque to the Noor Square in the centre of town, was led by the League of Muslim Students and Syrian students at the Lebanese University. I imagine this as proper civil dissent, with thought-out slogans carefully inscribed on banners and orderly marching. The other demonstration was from Bab al-Tabbaneh, the stronghold of the salafists, led by men with the dress code of militant orthodox Sunnis, perfumed beards, immaculate dishdashas and skullcaps.
This is the demonstration that led to the violence. They tore up pictures of Omar Karami, a respected national figure from Tripoli whose son had just joined the new government. On Jabal Mohsen a few streets away, young men came onto the street and hoisted a huge picture of Bashar al-Assad. The two rival groups of protesters moved closer to each other, chanting. Then a sound grenade was set off amid a throng of men on the street and, according to eyewitnesses, all hell broke loose. Everyone with a weapon on the street started to fire, wildly, randomly. I read the report in the newspaper al-Hayat that an off-duty soldier in the Lebanese army had been killed standing outside his house. Mundhir al-Rifai was shot in the head sitting in his car on his way home from work. Another man called Mohammed Shaqra was killed, as was a teenager late in the afternoon. Reading this, I remembered hearing that someone once calculated that during Lebanon’s civil war, a million rounds were fired for every person killed. I don’t know how you’d know that but the scars on its cities a generation later would suggest something of the kind.
In paragraph seven of the al-Hayat story, the dry recount of the ‘score’ snapped into life. ‘Security sources said that the security chief of the Arab Democratic Party Ali Faris was hit, as was Khodr Faris of Bab al-Tabbaneh, by a serious wound, and that the first man died in hospital.’
Ali the Muscle was dead.
The new prime minister of Lebanon, Najib Mikati, also from Tripoli, was visiting the city that day and took the fighting as a personal insult. In a press conference held at his house, while sporadic bursts of automatic still punctured the calm of the evening, al-Hayat reported, he said it was clearly a message, adding that he didn’t know where the message was from and what, in fact, this message was. ‘We will investigate. We don’t accuse anyone,’ he said. Opposition politician Samir al-Jisr immediately accused Mikati of accusing, indirectly, the opposition of being behind the violence.
Mikati and the other politicians might be right, this could be some message. Someone in Damascus or Riyadh, or Ealing come to that, might have placed a call and said this is the day, show them what’s what. That’s the way proxy struggles work. Or they could just be acting on default. It’s the Levant. Things can’t just be what they are; they have to mean something else, something hidden. Lebanese politics is an endless game where assassinations join ministerial appointments and shuttle diplomacy as another way you keep count.
There’s no way of knowing. But I was struck by a paradox.
It’s a truism that sectarianism dehumanizes the Other. The talk I’d heard couldn’t come free. Blood was always going to flow. The Alawis/Sunnis are dogs, or animals or, worse, fanatics or unbelievers. But by the mere chance of meeting the protagonists three days before they took their fight to the street, I also realized how sectarianism dehumanizes its perpetrators too.
I thought of Rifaat Eid, probably bunkered down, his young crew frightened by Ali’s death, in over their heads, too proud to admit it, and jumpy as hell with too much ordnance. I wondered whether Amr and Big Man had been on the other side, setting off some rounds, looking for targets to pick off. And Ali the Muscle clean gone, his mother and father still alive most likely – he was no more than thirty-five – and forced to bury their murdered boy.
All of them have brothers or cousins who aren’t in the game the way they are. They might not voice dissent, but they vote with their feet, moving to to Virginia or Sydney [and they bring their crazed views with them, and unsettle Western societies] or even just to Beirut and a decent job. Which means that every single man who has stayed, and is locked in that conflict, has come there through various complicated life choices over a period of time. And yet all individuality is collapsed by the dog-eat-dog language of ‘us and them’ into a choice between one of two separate, irreconcilable identities, locked in conflict with the other.[it is the violence, aggression, the Victor/Vanquished narratives of Islam that explain Muslim attitudes, Muslim behavior, and even the behavior of those who, not-quite-Muslims, such as the Alawites or some (not all) Arab Christians, mimic the behavior and attitude, and not merely as protective coloration, of the Muslims who surround them, and among whom they attempt to survive].
In Mumbai, Enduring Muslim Terrorism Should Not Become Helpless Accommodation To Muslim Terorrism
From The Christian Science Monitor:
Mumbai attacks spark outrage in city fed up with terrorism [a misleading title for the text below]
While Indian officials praised the city's resilience after Wednesday's blasts, Mumbai residents said they are simply resigned to life under threat.
Policemen stand guard as commuters walk by the lane that witnessed a bomb explosion Wednesday, as it is opened for public after police investigation at Zaveri Bazaar, in Mumbai, India, Friday, July 15. Investigators were examining forensic evidence and footage from surveillance cameras Friday for clues about who orchestrated the triple bomb blasts that shook India's business hub of Mumbai.
Indian officials remain unsure about who is behind Wednesday's blasts in Mumbai, in which three bombs went off in different spots in the city, but Mumbaikers and others across the country know that regardless of the investigation's outcome, they are fed up with the government's inability to tamp down terror.
The only concrete clue so far is the sophistication of the bombs used, implying that the bombers had explosives training and may have used timers to synchronize the explosions, according to The New York Times. “They were not crude bombs but sophisticated devices," Home Secretary R.K. Singh said. “Only somebody who has training can assemble those devices."
Rain has hampered efforts to gather evidence from the sites and no potential suspects have been identified.
Inspection of footage from surveillance cameras revealed persons behaving suspiciously at the scenes of the attacks, but no more is known about them, BBC reports. The owner of a scooter in which explosives were planted has been identified as well, according to the Indian Express.
Indians are lashing out against the government, asking why an overhaul of the country's security forces after the deadly 2008 shooting spree did not prevent another attack. After 2008, the government expanded its police forces and their training, invested in new equipment, and beefed up its police arsenal. It also created a federal agency specifically to investigate terrorist attacks.
The government has praised Mumbaikers for their ability to endure the attacks. Such rhetoric about the city's strength is a deflection from the real issue – the fact that it can't do anything, writes Ramesh Thakur in The Australian.
(The government) seems to soak up the warm and fuzzy feelings of rhetorical pats on the back from foreign leaders about courage, resilience, patience and refusal to be provoked into any retaliatory action against countries from where the attacks originate.
Instead of credible threats and effective action against terrorists, the Prime Minister urges calm on citizens.
Anyone can counsel caution. The real challenge is to offer practical suggestions on what to do, not what to avoid doing. The undying proof of India as a soft state earns the contempt of Islamists at a government that is all bark and no bite – except that, frankly, even the barks are getting fewer and fainter – and the cynical resignation of citizens.
In a column in the Times of India headlined "If US can after 9-11, why can't India after 26-11?" (26-11 being India's shorthand for the 2008 attack), former government official V. Balachandran claims that antiterrorism efforts aren't working because they are decentralized and left to the states, not because terrorism is impossible to fight.
The Centre has no statutory role in internal security, except providing additional forces, while the ill-equipped and overburdened state police has to manage all aspects of internal security, including terrorism. This is because we copied the colonial Government of India Act, 1935, on Centre and state "lists" placing "public order" and "police" under the states.
In 2001, the NDA government's group of ministers (GOM) recommended a change by placing direct responsibility for inter-state crime and terrorism on the ministry of home affairs (MHA). But nothing was done by the NDA and UPA governments till 26/11 hit us, when the National Investigation Agency (NIA) was created. However, three years since then, we are yet to see NIA making proactive, all-India efforts on terrorism.
Several op-eds ran in Indian and international newspapers that scoffed at Indian officials' talk about Mumbai's resilience – it's not resilience, Indians said, but a number of other less admirable things: apathy, reluctant acceptance, and inuredness to terrorism.
Mumbai has suffered time and again, there have been blasts after blasts. Is that the reason why Mumbaikars have somehow got immune to panic even in the aftermath of an explosion? Is that why people here don’t get scared so easily like they do elsewhere? Are people here indeed getting accustomed to such a thing happening in the city? If so, that is a dangerous thing. For this should not be a norm for any city. That is why, even as an orderly Mumbai took care of itself and of the danger in its midst, I worried about the sense of casualness that has crept into the system.
People have started to feel that the state does not have any control over what is happening in Mumbai. … Mumbai has its different reactions. When Opera House was in damage-control mode, across the road in Chowpatty, the restaurants were full and busy. The Fort Area, where Zaveri Bazaar is located, was not in a spot of bother either. The city went on functioning. The city has become more resilient, you realise. But you also wonder: at what cost has this happened?
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 2010 State of the Climate report released last week, “The year 2010 was among the two warmest years globally since the . . . late 19th century.”
The statement has qualifications and caveats, but the point, according to the American Meteorological Society, is that “Earth’s atmospheric and oceanic temperatures are rising unabated” and “the world continues to warm.”
Despite the report from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, some people will reject the idea that global climate change is a problem.
First, some will reject the body of data because the information comes from a “government agency,” automatically making the data suspect.
Second, the information is collected by scientists, and some people are inherently distrustful of the scientific community, suspecting conspiracies or data manipulation or both, especially when the scientific findings are unpopular. (This is not a new phenomenon. The Vatican refused to accept Galileo’s assertion that the earth revolves around the sun because it seemed to contradict the Bible.)
Negative opinions about the NOAA report will also come from those who dispute that today’s global warming is caused primarily by atmospheric increases in greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide from industrial and other commercial sources.
In other words, temperatures are rising around the world but humans are not responsible. The earth was warmer eons ago than it is now, so why fret? (Is it worth noting that humans did not live during those times?)
Others accept the fact that temperatures are rising and that human activity is the root cause, but they stubbornly oppose any proposal to ameliorate the situation.
One global warming denier is Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., who has declared that “the threat of catastrophic global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.”
I can certainly think of a hoax or two that would challenge concerns about global warming for “the greatest.” Nonetheless, Inhofe has proposed legislation that would limit the EPA’s efforts to regulate greenhouse gases.
I am certainly not a proponent of all government regulation, state or federal. But supporting the EPA’s authority to curtail pollution that is profiting a few and doing serious harm to the rest of us seems like a no-brainer. When a U.S. senator outright opposes that authority, I wonder what his motives are.
In case you do not recall the documented changes that are a consequence of global warming, here is a sampling: in the Arctic the winter season has been shortened, melting the icy habitat that is essential for survival of polar bears.
Individual polar bears have been reported to have lost weight and be producing fewer cubs.
According to the American Meteorological Society, commenting on the NOAA report, “The Arctic warmed about twice as fast as the rest of the world, reducing sea ice extent to its third lowest level on record.”
Many species of plants unquestionably bloom earlier each year, and many animals indisputably breed earlier in the season now than they did a few years ago.
Whether you think these facts are worth worrying about is opinion; whether you trust the federal government to look out for our best interest and try to alleviate the problems is a political position. The changes themselves, however, are real regardless of how you feel about government reports or scientists.
Global warming, aka climate change, is an emotional issue involving politics, commercial interests, environmental positions and personal egos to such a point that no clear consensus will be reached and no uncontested resolution will be forthcoming in the near future.
I appreciated the comments of Mike Huckabee when he was considering running for the Republican presidential nomination.
He said, “We have to be good stewards of the earth.”
And although he said he was not convinced that climate change was driven by human activities, he contended that we should put controls on the emission of greenhouses gases anyway.
Some issues we just cannot afford to be wrong about. Most scientists believe that global climate change is one of them.
Whit Gibbons is an ecologist and environmental educator with the University of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecology Laboratory.
Killer of Karzai's half-brother worked against Taliban, officials say
By David Ariosto [!], CNN
July 15, 2011
President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai, left, offers prayers during a funeral ceremony for his late half-brother on Friday.
Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- The guard who killed the half-brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, had for years worked with International Security Assistance Forces against Taliban militants, according to three local officials with direct knowledge of the dealings.
Sardar Mohammed, who authorities say shot and killed Kandahar's provincial council chief Ahmed Wali Karzai, received training from ISAF and participated in intelligence gathering against militants across the region, according to Besmellah Afghanmal, a provincial council member with close ties to the Karzai family.
He "was one of the trusted commanders for the Karzais," Afghanmal told CNN. "Sardar Mohammad was working with American Special Forces closely and he was participating in many operations with American Special forces against the Taliban in (the) south."
Others, like provincial parliament member Hashim Watanwal, say Mohammad had worked with both U.S. and Canadian forces in Kandahar -- an ethnically Pashtun dominated region long-considered the Taliban heartland.
Hamid Karzai's half-brother killed
Baz Mohammed, a Kandahar tribal elder with close connections to the Karzai clan, said the guard was "a trustworthy person" who collaborated regularly with ISAF in Kandahar.
An ISAF spokeswoman declined to comment on the claims.
Though suspected of corruption and opium dealing, Wali Karzai was considered a major power-broker in Afghanistan's restive south and a bulwark for his brother against the Taliban militancy.
His death Tuesday sent shock-waves across Afghanistan's political landscape, and prompted President Karzai to weep as mourners gathered for his half-brother's burial the following day.
Saidkhan Khakrezwal, a member of the Kandahar provincial council, said he and others were with Wali Karzai when the guard came into the room and asked to talk to him.
The guard took "Wali to another room and shoots him with a pistol that he had in his hand," Khakrezwal said.
Local authorities say the shooter was then shot dead by other guards.
The Taliban soon claimed responsibility for the shooting, saying Mohammed had been working for them.
It is not clear whether the guard had been a member of a Taliban sleeper cell or if the killing was motivated by some other factor.
On Thursday, in a brazen strike illustrating the power and reach of Afghan militants, a suicide bomber slipped into a Kandahar mosque and killed at least six people, wounding 15 others.
The attack occurred as several high-ranking Afghan officials gathered to remember Wali Karzai.
(CNN) -- Authorities planned funerals Friday for 13 Turkish soldiers killed in what the NATO secretary general condemned as a "terrorist attack" in a southeastern province.
"Such heinous attacks have no justification," Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement Friday about the violence the day before in the NATO member state.
"I express my heartfelt condolences to the families of those who were killed. NATO allies stand in full solidarity against the scourge of terrorism."
The government blamed the hostilities on the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, a separatist movement regarded as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and other entities.
The soldiers were ambushed on Thursday by the PKK during an operation in the town of Silvan in Diyarbakir province, and fighting ensued, the Turkish military said in a statement.
During the incident, hand grenades exploded, igniting a fire that spread in a thickly forested area, resulting in the deaths, the military said.
Along with the 13 soldier deaths, seven PKK members were killed. Seven more soldiers were hurt, two of them seriously, in the fire.
More than 30,000 people, mostly Kurds, have been killed during fighting between the PKK and the Turkish state since the early 1980s. The southeastern region of the country has a large Kurdish population.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other ministers along with chief of the armed forces, Gen. Isik Kosaner, and other military leaders, met Thursday in the capital, Ankara, and announced the establishment of a task force to investigate the incident.
"At a time when rights and freedoms are expanding and growing in our country, while brotherhood and peace is gaining strength, the terrorist organization has shown its heinous goals and his treacherous face once more," President Abdullah Gul said in a statement on his website.
"I want to make this clear, such attacks will not deter our government or our nation from finding solutions to our problems ... We will continue our struggle against terrorism with our determination." [which "terrorism"? All terrorism, or just that by Kurds directed at Turks? A general principle or a most limited rule?]
Upon arriving in Istanbul, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed support for Turkey.
"We stand with Turkey in its fight against the PKK, a designated terrorist organization which has claimed tens of thousands of Turkish lives," she said in a statement. "We support Turkey in its fight against terror and we will continue to work with the Government of Turkey to combat terrorism in all its forms." [what about the Mavi Marmara? What about the outrageous demands, since, by the Turkish government that Israel cravenly apologize for protecting itself from Hamas and Hamas allies? What about the international version of the Clean Hands Doctrine? What about, that is, the stench of hypocrisy?]
She added that she was planning to meet with Turkey's leaders this week in Istanbul.
Clinton was planning to attend meetings of the Libya Contact Group in Istanbul on Friday and Saturday, and to meet with Gul and Erdogan.
While putting up a progressive front, the Emirates of the Gulf have tackled any sign of unrest
By Loveday Morris 15 July 2011
With its glistening skyscraper-lined highways so far untouched by the angry protesters who have filled the streets of other Arab cities, the United Arab Emirates appears on the surface to have escaped the dissent sweeping the Middle East. But the Emirates have not been immune to the ripples of the Arab Spring: a vociferous minority is demanding change, only to be met with a clandestine crackdown on dissent.
While other countries in the Gulf have expedited reforms to appease citizens demanding more freedom, the UAE – despite having long-attempted to present itself as a model of progress – has taken a different tack, silencing any individuals or organisations questioning the status quo.
The surreptitious crackdown has affected all spheres – professional associations, non-governmental organisations, think-tanks, the blogosphere and even art exhibitions.
Five Emirati bloggers and academics who were rounded up in April are currently on trial for "opposing the government", threatening state security and insulting the country's leaders. The arrests have shocked the desert nation. Dr Nasser bin Ghaith, one of the accused, is an academic at the Abu Dhabi branch of the Sorbonne University.
Since the arrests, authorities have cast their net wider, dissolving the boards of several non-governmental organisations such as the Jurists' Association, a group active in the defence of human rights, and replacing them with government appointees. The Teachers' Association has received similar treatment. Rights groups have described the move as a "hostile takeover of civil society".
"What we are seeing is a collapse in democratic rights," said one activist, who, like many, now declines to have his name published for fear of reprisals. "We have gone back 30 years. They are afraid the revolutions will come to the UAE so they are scaring people into keeping silent."
The targeting of respected academic institutions has raised eyebrows as they are hardly revolutionary hotbeds. Last month the Gulf Research Centre, one of the UAE's few political think-tanks, said it was being forced to leave the country after "objections by the Dubai government to various aspects of GRC's work." The head of the Dubai School of Government has also resigned.
Amid an ever-growing state of paranoia, the chief of the Arab world's biggest art show, the Sharjah Biennale, has also been sacked for not sufficiently censoring the exhibition.
The government's attack on the country's pro-reform voices began after 133 prominent Emiratis signed a petition in March requesting the right of all citizens to vote for members of the country's Federal National Council. Currently a government-appointed electorate votes for half the members of the council, which wields virtually no legislative authority, leaving power in the hands of the al-Nayhan royal family, headed by President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed.
Signatories say they have since been threatened by security officials. "They come to us and say we will be the next in jail. They say we are trying to destroy our country," said one.
Before his arrest, Ahmed Mansoor, one of the five activists on trial and a prominent Dubai-based blogger who helped organise the petition, wrote a final dramatic blog post.
Entitled "They came to take me in at 3.50am", it described the moment his building's security guard knocked on his door to tell him three policemen outside wanted to speak to him about a problem with his car. "They make such tricks to and take you," Mr Mansoor wrote.
Mr Mansoor had long suspected that his blog would lead him into trouble with the authorities. "My family have mixed feelings; they think this might bring trouble not only for me, but for them too," he said in an interview with The Independent before his arrest. "On several occasions they've asked me not to talk about more sensitive topics."
There is concern that the trial, which resumes on 18 July, will result in heavy sentences. Professor Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a politics lecturer at UAE University who knows several of the detainees, described the charges as "heavy and loaded."
"We can only hope the trial will be free and fair. This doesn't fit the image of the UAE: it has promoted itself as a country without political prisoners," he said.
The oil-rich nation has played a careful balancing act since citizens across the Arab world took to the streets demanding the end of dictatorships. While outwardly trying to maintain the façade of a progressive haven for Western business and expatriate workers, in reality it has been increasing its grip on power.
The country's divided interests are evident in its diplomacy. Abu Dhabi's F-16s and Mirage jets are supporting the Libyan rebels fighting against Gaddafi's brutal regime. But the UAE remains one of the most visible supporters of the region's other embattled leaders, with the President sending messages of solidarity with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad, and the Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, visiting in a gesture of fraternity. He paid a similar visit to Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak shortly before he was ousted.
It remains to be seen whether the recent crackdown will silence the dissent, or help to galvanise the reform movement. For one of the petition's signatories the latter seemed more likely. "Emiratis can't accept this treatment: the people are angry," he said.
Then there are the reported lay-offs of hundreds of expatriates in the public sector as the UAE leaders scramble to bring down 14 per cent unemployment. With those expatriates who have been asked to leave said to have been given just weeks to go, the leadership's urgency in pacifying the country's disaffected youth is evident.
Formed one day after gaining independence from Britain in 1971, the United Arab Emirates is a confederation of seven states (Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Fujairah, Sharjah, Umm al Qaiwain and Ras al Khaimah) and is now one of the Middle East's key economic centres. Drawn by the nation's thriving oil and financial industries, 75 per cent of residents are expatriates. However those living in the highly developed southern cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai enjoy a much higher standard of living than those in the poorer northern emirates.
Just when you thought it was not possible for the Holder Justice Department to become any more hostile to the national and homeland security interests of the American people, along comes yet another travesty. This one threatens both, as it apparently would involve turning loose in America a convicted terrorist known to be a top Muslim Brotherhood (MB or Ikhwan in Arabic) operative and al Qaeda financier: Abdurahman Alamoudi.
Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to cut the 23-year prison term being served by an American Muslim activist who admitted participation in a Libyan plot to assassinate King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
Alamoudi - who famously declared his support for Hamas and Hezbollah at a rally in Lafayette Square in October 2000 and was recognized by the Justice Department as a Muslim Brother - has been incarcerated with other top terrorists in the Supermax facility in Colorado. As an American citizen, he would presumably be allowed to stay in this country upon his release.
Alamoudi at Large
Can it be precluded that, once he is freed, Alamoudi would take up again with those he did so much to help sponsor, foster and run as one of the leading Muslim Brothers in the country? Lest we forget, as a driving force behind many of the myriad MB front organizations in the United States, he previously was deeply involved with the fulfillment of the Ikhwan's mission here as described in its 1991 strategic plan.
That plan, which was found by the FBI in 2004 when they discovered the secret archives of the Muslim Brotherhood in Annandale, Virginia, is entitled An Explanatory Memorandum On the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America. (It is reprinted in its entirety as Appendix 2 of Shariah: The Threat to America,ShariahtheThreat.com.) According to this memorandum, the Brotherhood's mission in America is "a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within...by their [read, our] hands and the hands of the believers."
This objective is, of course, identical to that of al Qaeda, the other jihadist enterprise for whom Alamoudi previously worked. Who knows, if freed, could he rejoin its ranks, too?
At the very least, one has to assume that Abdurahman Alamoudi would be able to reconnect with the Muslim chaplains in the U.S. military and prison systems whom the Clinton administration allowed him to recruit, train and credential. As no evident effort has been made to relieve his hand-picked folks from their clerical responsibilities ministering to such exceedingly sensitive populations, putting Alamoudi back in business - or at least back in touch - with them could intensify the grave security threat they might pose even now.
Why Would Alamoudi be Freed?
So what possible justification could the Holder Justice Department have for releasing such an individual just nine years into a twenty-three year sentence? The AP story notes that, "The documents explaining why prosecutors want to cut Alamoudi's sentence are under seal, but such reductions are allowed only when a defendant provides substantial assistance to the government."
We can only speculate about what such "assistance" might be. Could Alamoudi be telling the feds insights about his former paymaster, Qaddafi, that could be helpful in removing the latter from power? As it is not entirely clear whether such an outcome is actually the goal of the United States, France or NATO in Libya at this point, it is hard to see that possible help as justification for running the serious risks associated with springing so dangerous an individual.
Perhaps, alternatively, Alamoudi might have spilled the beans about his friends in the Brotherhood's vast North American infrastructure. Did he provide further confirmation of the subversive role being played as part of what the Ikhwan calls its "civilization jihad" by, for example, organizations and members of: the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Muslim Students Association (MSA), the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), the Muslim Community Association (MCA), the Islamic Council of North America (ICNA), the Muslim American Society (MAS) and the Fiqh Council?
Such insights seem unlikely to have been valued by the Obama administration, though, since it continues to have extensive dealings with such groups and individuals associated with them. If anything, such ties with MB fronts and operatives will be intensifying, now that Team Obama has decided formally to embrace the Muslim Brotherhood's mother ship in Egypt.
Unfortunately, given this trend - to say nothing of the mindlessness of the Holder Justice Department when it comes to matters of national security - a more probable explanation for its willingness to give Alamoudi a get-out-of-jail-free pass is that the Obama administration is anxious to remove an irritant in relations with its friends in the Muslim Brotherhood and to demonstrate that a new day is dawning in those ties.
Alamoudi's GOP Influence Operation
As it happens, in the aftermath of the Alamoudi announcement, one of his most successful pre-incarceration influence operations bore fresh fruit. In 1998, Alamoudi personally provided seed money to enable libertarian anti-tax activist Grover Norquist to establish the Islamic Free Market Institute (better known as the Islamic Institute or II). The Institute served the purpose of credentialing Muslim Brotherhood operatives like Khalid Saffuri, Alamoudi's longtime deputy at the American Muslim Council (AMC), who became II's founding executive director - as "conservatives" and enabling them to infiltrate the George W. Bush 2000 campaign and administration.
After the incarceration of his sponsor on terrorism charges, Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, has continued to promote Muslim Brotherhood personnel and agendas inside Republican circles. For instance, just this week, at the July 13th meeting of his so-called "Center-Right Coalition" in Washington, Norquist staged a denunciation of legislation now being debated in state legislatures across the country: the American Laws for American Courts (ALAC) legislation.
MB Priority: Stopping American Laws from Governing in American Courts
The Muslim Brotherhood is outraged that three states have already enacted one version or another of the ALAC bill designed to preclude foreign laws (including, but not limited to, shariah) from being used in that state's courts if doing so would deny constitutional rights or otherwise conflict with state public policy. It has been introduced in some twenty others states and, to date, has passed in one house or another of four of them.
Such successes have been achieved by Americans all over the country because there simply is no good argument for opposing this affirmation of our civil liberties for all Americans - including American Muslim women and children whose rights are frequently being impinged upon by the application of shariah. (See ShariahinAmericanCourts.com, a study of twenty-seven cases in twenty-three states where shariah was allowed to trump American laws.)
Last Wednesday, Norquist arranged for three speakers - self-described Jews or Christians - to promote the Muslim Brotherhood line that free practice of religion, including that of non-Muslims, would be denied were ALAC to be adopted. Nothing could be farther from the truth, as the legislation itself makes clear (See PublicPolicyAlliance.com). But it is instructive that the GOP influence operation Alamoudi spawned continues to serve his intended purpose: dividing and suborning conservatives in the best tradition of the stealth jihad at which he and his Brothers have long excelled.
Perhaps another venue in which we can expect to see Abdurahman Alamoudi should the Obama administration actually get away with freeing this al Qaeda terrorist will be as a featured speaker at Grover Norquist's Wednesday meeting?
GOP Presidential Candidate Herman Cain Opposes Sharia and Mega- Mosques at Murfreesboro Rally
Herman Cain GOP Presidential Candidate
Herman Cain, GOP Candidate for President showed up at a rally in Murfreesboro Thursday and spoke in opposition to ‘Creeping Sharia’ in America and the Mega-Mosques promoting it. The Daily News Journalnoted his comments at a rally supporting litigation against the controversial Islamic Center of Murfreesboro project;
Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain said Thursday an effort by local Muslims to build a large mosque here is an attempt to "sneak" Shariah law into the fabric of the U.S. legal system.
"I think it is an infringement and abuse of our freedom of religion, and I don't agree with what's happening here because this isn't an innocent mosque," Cain told reporters after speaking to a crowd of hundreds on the Murfreesboro Public Square.
"This is another way to sneak Shariah law into our laws, and I absolutely object to that," Cain said.
Cain previously said that he would not hire a Muslim to serve in his administration if he is elected president.
A group of residents filed suit against Rutherford County in 2010 after the Regional Planning Commission gave the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro site plan approval for a 58,000-square-foot facility on Veals Road just outside Murfreesboro.
Chancellor Robert Corlew has ruled that the mosque's construction is not a threat to the plaintiffs, but he has given them an opportunity to argue that the county violated the state's public notice law by not advertising the meeting properly.
Mosque leaders pulled a building permit in late May and hope to begin construction next month.
In late March, Cain raised CAIR’s ire with statements in opposition to Sharia. He said in a Politico report :
There is this creeping attempt, there is this attempt to gradually ease Sharia law and the Muslim faith into our government. It does not belong in our government. This is what happened in Europe. And little by little, to try and be politically correct, they made this little change, they made this little change. And now they’ve got a social problem that they don’t know what to do with hardly.
Moreover unlike the Bush and the Obama Administrations he would not appoint Muslims to high Administration posts.
CAIR went after him for being ‘going beyond Muslim bashing. In a news release, CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said:
Ibrahim Hooper told CNN that Cain's words were "even going beyond the almost routine Muslim-bashing we see coming from the right wing of the political spectrum."
"Even post 9/11 you didn't have this level of mainstreaming of anti-Muslim hate as you have now," Hooper said.
In early April Cain took Minnesota Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison to task for being supportive of Sharia in an interview with conservative talk host, Laura Ingraham. Not this Washington Independent blog post:
Potential presidential contender Herman Cain told conservative radio host Laura Ingraham that he wouldn’t allow Muslims to serve in his administration and that, because Rep. Keith Ellison took his oath of office on the Qur’an instead of the Bible, he supports Sharia law above the Constitution. Cain, a Republican, said that American law is based on the Bible.
“I want people in my administration that are committed to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States,” said Cain. “I don’t want any inkling of anybody in my administration that would put Sharia law over American law. I have not found a Muslim that has said that they will denounce Sharia law, you know, in order to support the Constitution of the United States.”
Cain, who was the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza and former chair of the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City, formed an exploratory committee for the Republican nomination in 2012.
Ingraham asked Cain, “So Keith Ellison you think would be more in favor of Sharia law than the Declaration of Independence?”
Cain said, “Didn’t he take his oath on the Qur’an instead of the Bible? Am I wrong in that?”
Cain continued, “This is my point. If you take an oath on the Qur’an, that means you support Sharia law. I support American law. Our laws were derived from principles that are biblically based. Maybe not said in the same words that are in the Bible, but our laws are derived from principles based upon the Bible. This is why I’m not going to back down or pander to anyone who wants to call me xenophobic or a bigot simply because I said no. I don’t want anybody in my administration that I’m going to have to be looking over my shoulder to figure out if they are going to try to do something against the principles that I believe in which are also the principles that the majority, the overwhelming majority of the American people believe.”
Chris Preble's piece about fragile and reversible gains provides excellent insight into a frequently heard theme in discourse concerning military expeditions overseas, and into how arguments to extend those expeditions often stray from a sober consideration of the costs and benefits of doing so. The yearning to go beyond minimal accomplishment of military objectives and to try to achieve something grander and more lasting is partly rooted in universal human psychology, such as the disinclination to treat sunk costs as truly sunk. Preble even refers to Pericles as having voiced one of the themes in question. The tendency to keep stretching for absolute, irreversible victories is, however, disproportionately American. The tendency is more pronounced among Americans than among others for reasons related to the unique circumstances and history of the United States.
Living in a peculiarly powerful and successful republic makes it easier to believe that the nation really can achieve absolute, irreversible victories. Sure, the United States has had failures, including some really big ones such as the Vietnam War. But even that costly failure, given the passage of time and of generations and the attitudinal balm of a splendid victory such as Operation Desert Storm—the reversal in 1991 of the Iraqi seizure of Kuwait—has not prevented restoration of hubristic optimism about what the United States can use its power to accomplish. One of the reactions to Desert Storm—specifically, the neoconservative reaction—featured once again the idea that accomplishment of a limited military aim is not enough and that the United States should go for the gold. Reversing Saddam Hussein's aggression was not enough to sate the neocons' hunger for something grander in the Middle East, involving the elimination of Saddam altogether. And that hunger, coupled with an arrogant belief in the ability to accomplish a big irreversible victory, led to another costly military misadventure a decade later.
Another aspect of America's involvement with the world that has shaped the attitude Preble has described has been an episodic history in which the United States from time to time has sallied forth to vanquish the foreign menace du jour, and between sallies has retired behind its ocean moats to enjoy normalcy. The idea that the sallies should accomplish something lasting and preferably irreversible flows naturally from the whole vanquish-then-relax concept of using military force to deal with foreign threats. The same frame of mind does not get found in lesser countries around the world, where foreign threats must be handled through continuous management rather than episodic efforts.
The policy elites who write about fragile, reversible gains in places such as Iraq or Afghanistan do not necessarily anticipate a period of relaxation. In fact, the agenda of some of them may include an unending military presence in such places, including permanent bases. But the American mindset to which their words appeal is one that believes with just a little more effort, we can get over the last hump of whatever campaign we are waging, get rid of once and for all whatever problem or threat we are confronting, and go home a winner.
The mindset shapes American attitudes and responses on many different problems. When Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta recently declared that the United States was “within reach of strategically defeating Al Qaeda,” his comment got attention partly because it appealed to the same mindset. Mr. Panetta himself is not part of that mindset, and his remark, made during a visit to Afghanistan, probably was intended partly as support for his president's troop withdrawal decisions. Most of Mr. Panetta's predecessors are not part of the mindset either; Donald Rumsfeld correctly reminded us that besting international terrorism will not involve a surrender on the deck of the USS Missouri. But for many in the American public—which already oversimplifies the topic by equating terrorism with Al Qaeda—such a remark raises the hope that with a little more effort, we can do away with the threat altogether. This perception was further encouraged by Secretary Panetta's elaboration that the United States is now focusing on 10 to 20 key leaders of Al Qaeda. Hearing this, it is easy for Americans to believe that if we can just get those last 10 or 20 bad guys, the terrorist threat will be wiped out, just as smallpox or rinderpest was wiped out when the last few cases were found and dealt with.
Being a superpower with a history as exceptional as that of the United States means carrying certain burdens. The purveyors of the “we have to stay the course so that fragile gains will not be reversed” concept see one of those burdens as, well, staying the course in things such as foreign wars. A less commonly understood burden is having the cognitive limitation that leads many Americans to believe mistakenly that staying a course really can achieve irreversibility.
"Staying the course" is an unhelpful phrase if no one has bothered to define what the "course" is, and Pillar surely knows it.
And when he expresses his doubts about the American folly in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, everywhere that American policy is based on a notion that there are good and trustworthy and win-overable Muslims, rather than there being merely differing degrees of malevolence and meretriciousness, and different degrees of willingness to pursue Jihad directly (rather than indirectly), or by the use of violence in addition to whatever other instruments of Jihad -- propaganda, Da'wa, demographic conquest, among this or that local population of Muslims.
And though Pillar is good, he does not, in expressing his doubts, ever take issue with the use of the word "victory" which has never been adequately defined.
If you recognize that Islam, that adherents of Islam, and not merely a small -- growing ever larger in the public's perception -- "group of violent extremists" -- cibnstitute the threat, the menace, the enemy, then the only "victory" that makes sense in Iraq or Afghanistan or anywhere else is one that leaves the Camp of Islam weaker than it was before.
And that is to be achieved not by helping Muslim states stay unified, not in preventing ethnic and sectarian conflict in those states, but in welcoming the pre-existing fissures in those and other Muslim lands, and doing nothing to prevent them, and everything possible to exploiit them.
That's what Pillar does not say in this article. He accepts the use of the word "victory" and the way it is used, quite differently from the way I propose it should be used, propose it should mean, and merely questions whether such a final victory can ever be obtained.
Is the Istanbul Declaration Really Pushback against Blasphemy Laws or More Taqiyya?
An alleged breakthrough occurred in Istanbul, today, when a declaration was signed implementing UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Resolution 1618 passed in March, 2011 combating religious intolerance at a tripartite meeting involving Foreign Ministers from the EU, Members of the Arab League , Representatives of the Vatican, US Secretary Clinton and the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Conspicuous by its absence were representatives of the State of Israel, a member of the UNHRC.
According to the Washington-based Human Rights First group this would amount to a victory in pushback against OIC efforts endeavoring to impose criminalization of “blasphemy” under Islamic doctrine. The HRF noted:
Among other subjects, they will discuss how to implement an unprecedented consensus resolution on combating religious intolerance adopted at the U.N. Human Rights Council in March 2011[i]. Human Rights First welcomed that adoption of the resolution as an important shift away from efforts at the U.N. to prohibit “defamation of religions” – in essence an international blasphemy code. The OIC had for the past decade supported such efforts, which have had serious consequences for fundamental rights to freedom of expression and belief.
“We welcome this initiative of Secretary Clinton and top officials from OIC States to build upon the human rights-based approach agreed to in March to fight the rise of religious intolerance in the world. We expect that the OIC and the U.S. will reiterate their political commitment to this resolution at the highest level in order to advance positive action on these issues at the U.N.’s General Assembly in the fall,” said Human Rights First’s Tad Stahnke.
The consensus text agreed by the U.N. Human Rights Council was an important achievement. For the first time in many years, OIC governments agreed to focus on the protection of individuals rather than religions.
“Much needs to be done at the national level in U.N. member states to combat violence and discrimination on the basis of religion or belief. In particular, Human Rights First calls on all States to move toward implementing policies to combat hatred without restricting speech,” concluded Stahnke.
Human Rights First has identified scores of cases that provide ample warning of the misuse of blasphemy laws at the national level. The organization’s study, Blasphemy Laws Exposed, documents over 70 such cases in 15 countries where the enforcement of blasphemy laws have resulted in death sentences and long prison terms as well as arbitrary detentions, and have sparked assaults, murders and mob attacks.
A State Department press release noted the Ministerial gathering and the declaration reached today in Istanbul:
The Secretary of State of the United States, the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, together with foreign ministers and officials from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, Senegal, Sudan, United Kingdom, the Vatican (Holy See), UN OHCHR, Arab League, African Union, met on July 15 in Istanbul to give a united impetus to the implementation of UN Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18 on “Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence, and violence against persons based on religion or belief.” The meeting was hosted by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation at the OIC/IRCICA premises in the historic Yildiz Palace in Istanbul and co-chaired by the OIC Secretary-General H.E Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu and U.S. Secretary of State H.E. Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
They called upon all relevant stakeholders throughout the world to take seriously the call for action set forth in Resolution 16/18, which contributes to strengthening the foundations of tolerance and respect for religious diversity as well as enhancing the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms around the world.
Participants, resolved to go beyond mere rhetoric, and to reaffirm their commitment to freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression by urging States to take effective measures, as set forth in Resolution 16/18, consistent with their obligations under international human rights law, to address and combat intolerance, discrimination, and violence based on religion or belief. The co-chairs of the meeting committed to working together with other interested countries and actors on follow up and implementation of Resolution 16/18 and to conduct further events and activities to discuss and assess implementation of the resolution. Participants are encouraged to consider to provide updates, as part of ongoing reporting to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, on steps taken at the national level on the implementation of Resolution 16/18, building also on related measures in the other resolutions adopted by consensus on freedom of religion or belief and on the elimination of religious intolerance and discrimination.
Secretary Clinton noted in her remarks at the Istanbul Higher Level Meetings with the OIC:
I want to applaud the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the European Union for helping pass Resolution 1618 at the Human Rights Council. I was complimenting the secretary general on the OIC team in Geneva. I had a great team there as well. So many of you were part of that effort. And together we have begun to overcome the false divide that pits religious sensitivities against freedom of expression, and we are pursuing a new approach based on concrete steps to fight intolerance wherever it occurs. Under this resolution, the international community is taking a strong stand for freedom of expression and worship, and against discrimination and violence based upon religion or belief.
These are fundamental freedoms that belong to all people in all places, and they are certainly essential to democracy. But as the secretary general just outlined, we now need to move to implementation. The resolution calls upon states to protect freedom of religion, to counter offensive expression through education, interfaith dialogue, and public debate, and to prohibit discrimination, profiling, and hate crimes, but not to criminalize speech unless there is an incitement to imminent violence. We will be looking to all countries to hold themselves accountable and to join us in reporting to the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights on their progress in taking these steps.
In Europe, we are seeing communities coming together to address both the old scourge of anti-Semitism and the new strains of anti-Muslim bias that continue to undermine the continent’s democratic ideals. Across the Middle East and Asia, we look to both people and leaders to resist the incitement of extremists who seek to inflame sectarian tensions, and reject the persecution of religious minorities such as the Copts or Ahmadis or Baha’is.
All very well and good, but the UNHRC has been a veritable snake pit filled with vipers from hate-filled anti-Semitic Muslim member countries of the OIC seeking to impose Islamic blasphemy laws on Western Democratic countries, used to intimidate and subjugate religious minorities in predominately Muslim lands. We hope that the HRF which has criticized the UNHRC on this issue is correct. However, we remain skeptical that this Declaration reached in Istanbul is anything but a taqiyya tactic to mollify infidels and continue to manipulate our human and civil rights laws against us under Stealth Jihad. This is what the Islam Exposed blog said when the UNHRC resolution was up for a vote in March:
The resolution represents a change of tactics, not strategic objectives. It is designed to deceive human rights activists, and it appears to be a success.
Toby Young (born 1963), author of ‘How to Lose Friends and Alienate People’, recalls, in the Reader's Digest, his time as a Fulbright Scholar at Harvard:
“...I felt like an outsider: an English conservative amidst a mass of Ivy League liberals. It was very different from Oxford. There, a vast range of different political views was always encouraged. At Harvard the culture of political correctness was oppressive. [Reading] ‘Radical Chic’ gave me the reassuring feeling that I wasn’t alone in my suspicions of the sort of people I was surrounded by.”
Alas, the Oxford he graduated from no longer exists – it has been swamped by the puerile left.
‘Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers’ is Tom Wolfe’s fourth book and was first published in 1970. It’s still worth reading today.
Clinton Pollster Greenberg: 73% of Palestinians Surveyed Accept Hamas Charter and Hadith to Kill Jews
Clinton pollster Stan Greenberg has regularly done surveys for The Israel Project (TIP) on a variety of domestic and Israel-related issues. His most recent survey including a sample of more than 1,000 Palestinians in the West bank and Gaza. While focused on the tattered peace process, it also contained revelatory findings that support the Hamas Charter and Hadith directed at obligatory Jihad against Jews and the obliteration of the Jewish State of Israel. Gil Hoffman in a Jerusalem Postarticle noted this finding from the TIP –sponsored survey
73% of 1,010 Palestinians in W. Bank, Gaza agree with 'Hadith' quoted in Hamas Charter about the need to kill Jews hiding behind stones, trees.
Among the other survey interview findings were:
Three-fifths of those surveyed in the West Bank and Gaza reject a two-state solution;
Only one in three Palestinians (34 percent) accepts two states for two peoples as the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
The TIP-sponsored survey was conducted in the Palestinian territories by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion located in Beit-Sahour on the West Bank.
Among principal findings from the TIP survey reported by the Jerusalem Post were;
Respondents were asked about US President Barack Obama’s statement that “there should be two states: Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people and Israel as the homeland for the Jewish people.”
Just 34% said they accepted that concept, while 61% rejected it.
Sixty-six percent said the Palestinians’ real goal should be to start with a two-state solution but then move to it all being one Palestinian state.
Asked about the fate of Jerusalem, 92% said it should be the capital of Palestine, 1% said the capital of Israel, 3% the capital of both, and 4% a neutral international city.
Seventy-two percent backed denying the thousands of years of Jewish history in Jerusalem, 62% supported kidnapping IDF soldiers and holding them hostage, and 53% were in favor or teaching songs about hating Jews in Palestinian schools.
When given a quote from the Hamas Charter about the need for battalions from the Arab and Islamic world to defeat the Jews, 80% agreed. Seventy-three percent agreed with a quote from the charter (and a hadith, or tradition ascribed to the prophet Muhammad) about the need to kill Jews hiding behind stones and trees.
But only 45% said they believed in the charter’s statement that the only solution to the Palestinian problem was jihad.
The survey’s more positive findings included that only 22% supported firing rockets at Israeli cities and citizens and that two-thirds preferred diplomatic engagement over violent “resistance.”
Among Palestinians in general 65% preferred talks and 20% violence. In the West Bank it was 69-28%, and in Gaza, 59- 32%.
Asked whether they backed seeking a Palestinian state unilaterally in the UN, 64% said yes. The number was 57% in the West Bank and 79% in Gaza. Thirty-seven percent said the UN action would bring a Palestinian state closer, 16% said it would set back the establishment of a state, and 44% said it would make no difference.
When asked what Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s top priorities should be, 83% said creating jobs. Just 4% said getting the UN to recognize a Palestinian state, and only 2% said peace talks with Israel.
Jerusalem Postreporter, Gil Hoffman commented about the TIP “people to people’ peace initiative based on these survey results:
The poll appears to indicate that the organization has a difficult task ahead.
Given these TIP-sponsored Greenberg Associates survey findings, is it any wonder that a growing majority of American Jews are concerned about the Obama policies towards Israel? Recent McLaughlin & Associates and Democrat Pat Caddell surveys show that less than 43% of American Jews would vote to-re-elect Obama, while 48% would vote for someone else.
Whether that translates into voting for whoever is the GOP Presidential contender in 2012 is another matter. The survey trends may be there, but will the traditional bias of nearly 80% of American Jews weigh heavily on the November 2012 contest results? We suspect that a significant portion of the $86 million in funds raised by the Obama re-election campaign in the last two months may have come from major Jewish Democratic contributors.
Some American Jewish commentators are not so sanguine that their co-religionists will ultimately shed their ‘yellow dog’ Democratic allegiances. One who has shed his Democratic Party loyalties is former New York Mayor Ed Koch. Koch in an op-ed this week suggested that Jewish voters in former Congressman Anthony Weiner’s Congressional seat cast a ballot in a special election for a Pro-Israel Republican candidate.
We agree with hizzoner, Ed Koch. We hope more American Jewish voters follow his example both in the upcoming Brooklyn Congressional seat special election and in the November 2012 Presidential contest.
Even The U.N. Must Take Some Notice Of The Arab Violence In South Kordofan
From CNN News:
U.N. report describes widespread violence in Sudan
July 15, 2011
The Satellite Sentinel Project says it has visual evidence of mass graves in South Kordofan.
New York (CNN) -- A United Nations report details new allegations of violence, including perhaps mass graves, in the volatile border state of Southern Kordofan in Sudan.
Reported incidents include aerial attacks that killed civilians, attacks on churches, arbitrary arrests, abductions and house-to-house searches, said the report.
"The allegations contained in the report are extremely grave," said Philippe Bolopion of Human Rights Watch. "This report provides only a small window on what's happening in Southern Kordofan."
Reliable information about what is going on in the region is hard to come by. Due to the expiration of the mandate for the U.N. mission in Sudan, U.N. peacekeeping officials have no access to the affected areas.
"The Sudanese government is essentially kicking the U.N. out," Bolopion said. "This should raise a red flag."
Southern Kordofan, which remains a territory of the Sudanese government in the north, borders South Sudan. The report suggests that the Sudanese government has carried out extensive human rights violations in the territory that may qualify as war crimes.
"I am increasingly alarmed by the mounting allegations of mass graves in South Kordofan, Sudan, and of reported disappearances of civilians, targeting of people on an ethnic basis, and extra-judicial killings," Valerie Amos, the U.N. undersecretary-general humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, said in a statement.
Since the fighting began on June 6, U.N. humanitarian agencies have asked the government of Sudan for access to the people of South Kordofan, but the requests have been denied, she said.
Though some humanitarian agencies have been given limited access to Kadugli, which is the capital of South Kordofan state, the restrictions "are seriously impeding our ability to assist people in need," she said. "We know that many of the 1.4 million residents within the affected areas will increasingly need humanitarian aid. We know that at least 73,000 people were displaced by the fighting, though we suspect that the actual number is much higher."
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told the Security Council on Wednesday that the displacements occurred as a result of fighting between lingering rebel remnants and Sudanese soldiers in Southern Kordofan.
"Both parties need to agree immediately to a cessation of hostilities," she said. "The violence, the human-rights abuses and the deliberate obstruction of access for humanitarian agencies must end."
The restrictions on access mean that little is known about those who have fled to mountain areas, Amos said. "We do not know whether there is any truth to the grave allegations of extra-judicial killings, mass graves and other grave violations in South Kordofan."
Amos briefed the Security Council Friday on the violence. "I am increasingly alarmed by the mounting allegations of mass graves in South Kordofan," she said in a statement.
"There are secondary sources on the existence of mass graves," Ivan Simonovic, the U.N. assistant secretary-general for human rights, told reporters Friday.
Simonovic added that eight U.N. staff members have been abducted in Southern Kordofan and a ninth was shot in the leg.
The report highlights attacks on the civilian settlements in the Nuba mountains, home to the Christian minority who fought alongside the south in its long struggle for independence.
An independent contractor detained in late June by the Sudanese Armed Forces reported having seen some 150 bodies of people of Nuban descent scattered on the grounds of a military compound in Umbattah.
And the Satellite Sentinel Project reported Wednesday that its work has revealed "visual evidence of mass graves in South Kordofan. ... The evidence found by SSP is consistent with allegations that the Sudan Armed Forces and northern militias have engaged in a campaign of killing civilians."
The project is based on the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative's analysis of satellite imagery and witness reports.
"Those responsible for the violation of international human rights and humanitarian law should be held accountable," said Security Council President and German Ambassador Peter Wittig.
The report, which the Security Council requested, recommends an independent inquiry into human-rights abuses and a possible referral to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.
It comes as the Republic of South Sudan, which seceded from the north on July 9, was welcomed this week as the 193rd member state of the United Nations.
Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, head of the mission of the government of South Sudan, danced in celebration shortly after the country's new flag took its place among the others at U.N. headquarters in New York.
But the independence celebrations came with worries, given that the Sudanese government demanded an end to peacekeeping operations in the region.
Samuel Tadros On That Disappointing Thing -- "An Egyptian Liberal"
From The Weekly Standard:
What Makes an Egyptian Liberal a Liberal?
July 15, 2011
Consider these two quotations, both of which are provided by members of the Egyptian intelligentsia: “The Holocaust is a lie,” and “The victory of the Zionist ideal is also the victory of my ideal.”
As some readers will recognize, the first quotation comes from Ahmed Ezz el-Arab, vice chairman of Egypt’s flagship Liberal party, the Wafd, who just last week denied that the Nazis killed 6 million Jews during World War II. “The Holocaust is a lie,” he told the Washington Times. “The Jews under German occupation were 2.4 million. So if they were all exterminated, where does the remaining 3.6 million come from?” The second statement was made in the early 1920s by Ahmed Zaki, a leading intellectual.
To most readers these two statements must seem quite astonishing, each in their own way, of course. And yet they both reflect their respective contexts and indicate the huge gulf between the intellectual, political, and moral climate of early twentieth century Egypt and the present—and perhaps offer us a clue as to what happened during the intervening years.
Today, anti-Semitism is a disease shared by many across Egypt’s political spectrum, so it is hardly surprising that they are also anti-Zionist. This was not always the case. In the early part of the last century, Zionism won sympathy and support from many Egyptian intellectuals and politicians. For instance, an Egyptian newspaper in 1917, Al Lataif Al Musawara, described Jewish officers who died during Allenby’s campaign in Palestine as “falling in the battle in a land that is the homeland of their ancestors and one in which the children of Israel have always fought their enemies and the invaders of their land.”
That Jews had an indisputable unbroken connection to that homeland, many Egyptians at the time believed. So was the idea of rebuilding that homeland. In what today would seem like a fantasy tale, there was even an Egyptian Zionist organization, which operated legally until it was banned the day King Farouk entered the 1948 war. The organization’s secretary general was Leon Castro, who was at the same time a private secretary of Saad Zaghloul, the outspoken nationalist figure who founded the Wafd.
The party today is very different from the one founded by Zaghloul, and Ezz el-Arab, alas, is representative not only of today’s Wafd, but also of Egypt’s “liberal” parties in general. Unable to provide any coherent ideas or programs that can compete with the authoritarian state or the Islamist vision for Egypt, the liberals are given over to populism—precisely the sort of sensationalist and empty rhetoric in which Ezz el-Arab specializes. His columns in the Wafd’s newspaper have been filled for years with the same kind of conspiracy theories that he related last week to the U.S. press. Indeed, perhaps Ezz el-Arab merits some respect for exposing his beliefs to an English-speaking audience as well as to his Arabic one. Most so-called Arab liberals, after all, have two different messages, one delivered to their Egyptian constituencies and another, usually more “tolerant” discourse, reserved for their colleagues in the Western press and academia.
Even when statements like Ezz el-Arab’s are heard in the West, the typical reaction of policymakers, journalists, and intellectuals is to ignore or excuse them. These are liberals, or secularists, moderates or democrats, the Westerners insist, despite everything their Arab interlocutors say or do. The realist observer will inform you that these are the kind of “liberals” in the region and that you have to deal with them. As a result the West shuts its eyes, ignoring the reality and the consequences.
The question, then, is not, how could an Egyptian “liberal” partake in a round of Holocaust revisionism? Rather, it is whether Ahmed Ezz el-Arab and others like him are in fact really liberals. That is, is it possible to be a genuine liberal and an antisemite at the same time? Of course not. Egyptian antisemitism is the starting point of a political ideology that has dominated the region for more than 60 years and shaped how politics are conducted. Jew hatred and the accompanying conspiracy theories serve as a way of explaining the world that not only builds up hatred, but also crushes any serious attempt at examining the region’s true ills. Until Arab officials, journalists, and academics—encouraged by their Western counterparts—start to reconsider not only the roots of their antisemitic discourse but also its ugly fruit, there’s little chance of liberalism carrying the day in the region. After all, liberalism needs real liberals.
Comment: The author talks about the crushing of "any serious attempt at examining the region's true ills." But the region's"true ills" cannot possibly be analyzed because it is Islam that explains the many failures -- political, economic, social, intellectual, and moral -- of Muslim polities and peoples, everywhere in the world. And the more powerful the pull of Islam, the more undiluted by non-Islamic elements or history or a non-Arab ethnic identity -- Berber, Kurd, Persian -- that may work to weaken the hold of Islam, the less likely that anyone can dare to speak the truth. But some locals, having grasped the baleful effects of Islam, might be able, like Ataturk, to work to systematically constrain it in the political and social spheres, and perhaps even to encourage the focus on other identities. In Egypt, that means the Pharaonism of Taha Hussain. And Pharaonism -- about which little has been heard since the 1920s -- requires that Egyptians not only cease to be mesmerized by Islam, but also by this business of being "leaders of the Arab world" -- a hopeless wish, given Egypt's real, and inescapable poverty and grotesque overpopulation -- and instead to deliberately focus on Egypt and Egypt alone, and to engage in the rediscovery, and celebration, of Egypt as a state and especially, of Egypt's pre-Islamic history and civilization, as a way to construct an identity less dependent on, or linked to, Islam and to the Arabs. This is the only way out of the dead end which is all that Islam offers.
Fahd Mohammed al-Quso, a particularly elusive al-Qaeda fugitive who helped plan the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, once again evaded an attempt to kill or capture him Thursday by dodging a U.S. airstrike in southern Yemen, according to Yemeni security officials.
Quso, 36, a Yemeni who once fought in Afghanistan with Osama bin Laden and knew two of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers, has a history of improbable escapes that have frustrated U.S. counterterrorism officials for nearly a decade.
The al-Qaeda operative escaped from a Yemeni prison in 2003, survived U.S. airstrike in Yemen in December 2009, and was erroneously reported killed in a U.S. drone attack in Pakistan last year. He has also steadfastly avoided capture despite being on the FBI’s most-wanted list and having a $5 million bounty placed on his head by the State Department.
“I never thought in a million years that this guy was ever going to get out of jail,” said Ali Soufan, a retired FBI agent who interrogated Quso in early 2001 while the al-Qaeda operative was in Yemeni custody for the Cole bombing. “Every time we do a hit on him and he survives, his reputation becomes more significant in al-Qaeda.”
Quso’s most recent close call came Thursday, when he was targeted by a U.S. airstrike in Yemen’s restive southern province of Abyan, the Yemeni security officials said.
At least six suspected al-Qaeda fighters were killed and about 40 other people were wounded in an attack on a police station under the control of militants, according to Yemeni security officials and tribal leaders. Security officials said Quso was among those targeted, though it was unclear if he was in the police station at the time or if he was present at a separate airstrike nearby.
Details of the attack remain murky. Yemeni and U.S. officials declined to elaborate on whether the strikes were carried out by U.S. drones or manned fighter jets, both of which have targeted al-Qaeda fighters in Yemen in the past.
A Pentagon spokesman declined to comment on the incident. “We we don't talk about the specifics of operations, ” said Marine Col. David Lapan.
Quso is considered a rising figure in al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the regional affiliate of the main al-Qaeda organization. U.S. officials say that the Yemeni group poses the leading contemporary terrorist threat to the United States.
A member of the al-Aulaqi tribe in southern Yemen, Quso is a distant relative of Anwar al-Aulaqi, another high-profile terrorist suspect and a dual U.S.-Yemeni citizen who is also believed to be hiding in southern Yemen.
On Dec. 24, 2009, a U.S. cruise missile crashed into a house in southern Yemen’s Shabwa province, killing several suspected al-Qaeda fighters. The cell had been recruited by Quso, who narrowly escaped serious injury, according to an account of the attack last year in the New York Times.
The next day, the al-Qaeda affiliate responded with an attempted attack of its own as an operative flew to Detroit with explosives in his underwear. U.S. officials have said that the bomber had been in contact with Quso beforehand.
In May 2010, Quso and other al-Qaeda leaders appeared in an Internet video taking credit for the underwear plot. They vowed to continue attacks on U.S. targets.
Five months later, Pakistani media reported that Quso had been killed in a U.S. drone strike in the tribal areas near the Afghan border. Soon after, however, the Yemeni emerged from hiding to dismiss the “rumors” of his death in an interview with the pan-Arab newspaper, Asharq al-Awsat. Although Quso had spent time in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the past, he told the newspaper that Yemen offered a much safer refuge.
According to a U.S. indictment filed against him in 2003, Quso helped plan the attack on the USS Cole, which killed 17 sailors as the warship was docked in the harbor of Aden. He was also supposed to film the explosion for propaganda purposes from an apartment overlooking the harbor, but overslept.
“He’s not so smart operationally, but he’s a dedicated Qaeda guy, and a true believer in the cause,” said Soufan.
Quso escaped from a Yemeni prison in 2003 along with several other suspects in the Cole bombing. He was recaptured a year later, then convicted and sentenced to 10 years for the attack. In 2007, however, the Yemeni government secretly released him and has refused to hand him over to the United States, saying the Yemeni constitution forbids extradition of its citizens.
An article by Yvan Rioufol on a centrist politician, M. Borloo, and his enthusiasm for a new requirement to be imposed on French children, that they study their own, French history, and the history of Europe, even less than they now do, so as to learn more about the soi-disant civilizations and mighty empires of Monomotapa ( the name appears on old maps, in what is present-day Zimbabwe) and Songhai (in West Africa, centered in what is present-day Niger and Burkina Faso ). [For more, see the articles, and the updated bibliography of J. L. Fage on pre-colonial Africa, by Stanley Alpern, an independent scholar,conducting his research and writing outside of academic life, and therefore has not been subject to the constraints felt by many other historians of pre-colonial Africa] prompted many replies at Le Figaro.
I've only read a handful of them, but was immediately struck by this one: