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Recent Publications by New English Review Authors
The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Impact of Islam
by Emmet Scott
Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
by Ibn Warraq
Fighting the Retreat from Arabia and the Gulf: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly. Vol. 1
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Literary Culture of France
by J. E. G. Dixon
Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays
by David P. Gontar
Farewell Fear
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Eagle and The Bible: Lessons in Liberty from Holy Writ
by Kenneth Hanson
The West Speaks
interviews by Jerry Gordon
Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy
Emmet Scott
Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
Ibn Warraq
Anything Goes
by Theodore Dalrymple
Karimi Hotel
De Nidra Poller
The Left is Seldom Right
by Norman Berdichevsky
Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
by Ibn Warraq
An Introduction to Danish Culture
by Norman Berdichevsky
The New Vichy Syndrome:
by Theodore Dalrymple
Jihad and Genocide
by Richard L. Rubenstein
Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
by Norman Berdichevsky

These are all the Blogs posted on Wednesday, 2, 2011.
Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Fire guts offices of French satirical magazine

I expected this - but not quite so quickly. From AFP

PARIS — The offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which published a special Arab Spring edition Wednesday with the prophet Mohammed as guest "editor", were gutted in a petrol bomb attack overnight, police said. The fire at the magazine started around 01.00 am (0200 GMT) and caused no injuries, a police source said.

Charlie Hebdo published a special edition Wednesday to mark the Arab Spring, renaming the magazine Charia (Sharia) Hebdo for the occasion.

The cover showed a cartoon of the prophet stating: "100 lashes if you don't die of laughter!"

A witness at the scene, Patrick Pelloux, told AFP a molotov cocktail was hurled through the window and set fire to the computer system. "Everything was destroyed," he said.

The magazine's publisher, known only as Charb, said he was convinced the fire was linked to the special edition. "On Twitter, on Facebook, we received several letters of protest, threats, insults," which had been forwarded to the police, he said.

Posted on 11/02/2011 2:11 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Mohamed El-Maadi: One Of The Cagoulards Who Enthusiastically Collaborated With The Nazis

Mohamed El Maadi, né le 2 janvier 1902 à la Séfia (département de Constantine) en Algérie et décédé en Égypte vers 1954, était un nationaliste algérien. [that's one way of putting it]

Fils du Caïd Mahfuz al-Ma'adi, Mohamed El Maadi fut probablement le plus célèbre des Algériens qui collaboraient en France avec le Troisième Reich pendant l'occupation. Ancien capitaine de l'armée française, Mohamed El Maadi était Chevalier de la légion d’Honneur1.

Il quitte l'armée en 1936 puis dans la première période de l'occupation allemande milite au Mouvement social révolutionnaire. Il devient ensuite le responsable des questions inhérentes au Maghreb au sein du Rassemblement national populaire de son ami Marcel Déat ou il organise le Comité RNP nord-africain.

Durant la même période, il entre en contact avec les cercles indépendantistes algériens présents en France et fonde en janvier 1943, un bimensuel « Er Rachid » qui est financé par l'Abwehr et atteint un tirage de 80.000 exemplaires.

En 1943, Mohamed el-Maadi rencontre Henri Lafont, chef du bureau de la Gestapo parisienne avec qui il fonde la brigade Nord-Africaine officiellement constituée le 28 janvier 1944 avec le patronage d'Helmut Knochen, le chef de la Gestapo en France. Cette brigade est formée d'environ 300 Algériens , provenant essentiellement du quartier « de la Goutte d'Or » à Paris.

En août 1944, il se réfugie avec son épouse en Allemagne où il est accueilli par le Grand Mufti, Amin al-Husseini.

Il serait décédé en Égypte entre 1954 et 1957.


One thing left out of the Wiki biography: Mohammed El Maadi founded, in Algeria, the military group SS-Mohammed in 1944. You can guess, from the name, what that was all about.

Posted on 11/02/2011 8:10 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Official Complaint

On his arrival at almost any terminal at almost any British seaport or airport, the first thing a traveller will see (if not observe) is a large and menacing notice warning him of the dire legal consequences should he assault an immigration official. These notices are even more prominent than the ones telling asylum-seekers what to do on arrival.  

Since notices warning against assault on officialdom are unknown in other countries, one may ask what it is about the atmosphere in Britain that turns passengers so volatile and allegedly so quickly prone to violence. Is it something about the passengers or the officials?

Certainly in my experience, now considerable, of arrival in this country, I have seen much more rudeness by immigration officials than by passengers. They often speak to foreigners with insolence and treat them as if conferring upon them a privilege in their personal gift, or as if (against their better judgment) they were granting prisoners release on parole. One might have supposed that all this unpleasantness at least served the purpose of preventing illegal immigration; but as we can see from the results, this is hardly the case. The rudeness is only a crude manifestation of petty bureaucratic power. Incidentally, no one intervenes to protest, because he knows that he will only make trouble for himself. 

What this notice conveys to the alert Briton is that officialdom is now not so much an endangered and therefore specially protected species in Britain as a powerful caste that stands in almost feudal relationship to the serfs below (without, however, the corresponding noblesse oblige). 

After the recent riots, rioters received sentences that were thought by some to be "disproportionate". Since something can be disproportionate only in relation to something else, such sentences could only have been disproportionate to previous sentences, as indeed they were. This does not mean, however, that the previous sentences were correct. The Guardian reported that 12 per cent of those convicted of offences such as robbery, assault, affray and burglary were "normally" sent to prison; but since the police clear up about one in 12 of these offences, this means that only one in a hundred robberies ends in a prison sentence. With average skill, then, you may rob with impunity. 

But just let you be nasty to an immigration official! That is a terrible crime — that of lèse-bureaucratie — which cannot be forgiven and must be punished. But at least the notices have the merit of exposing the belief that the threat of punishment is not a deterrent to crime for what it is — the humbug that it has always been and continues to be.

First published in Standpoint.

Posted on 11/02/2011 8:11 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
Wednesday, 2 November 2011
EXCLUSIVE: Mosab Yousef, “Son of Hamas� Author Not Detained by IDF

Sheik Hassan Yousef, Hamas Leader      Mosab Yousef, Son of Hamas author

Israeli news reports that fabled Shin Bet double agent, Mosab Yousef, author of the acclaimed Son of Hamas, was arrested along with his father by the IDF in the West Bank, Tuesday are false. We spoke with Mosab, today, who is very much in the US. We have separately confirmed that he has a speaking engagement tomorrow evening on the east coast. He said that the news reports may have confused him with his younger brother. That distinction was not picked up in the Palestinian Ma’an news agency report. Israel Hayom’s report and the Ynet news stories did not pick up that important distinction. Mosab was lionized by the media, given accolades and awards in the US, even vouched for by his former Shin Bet handler as being a ‘hero’ in infiltrating Hamas terrorist networks and preventing attacks on Israel. Mosab also converted to Christianity and is considered an apostate under Islamic Shariah law.

As both the Ynet and Israel Hayom reports relied on the Palestinian Ma’an news agency account, we checked with the Ma’an website and found this brief announcement about the detention by the IDF of Sheik Hassan Yousef and “a son” by the IDF:

              Israel Forces Detain Hamas Leader and Son

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces detained Palestinian lawmaker Hassan Yousef overnight Monday in a raid on his home in Ramallah.

Hamas officials said Tuesday that soldiers ransacked Yousef's home in Beituniya at 3 a.m., detaining him and his son. Yousef is a leader in the Islamist movement.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri denounced the arrest. “This is part of Israel’s escalation against Hamas, and legitimate Palestinian leaders,” he said.

Yousef left jail in August in a move which saw Israel release 770 Israeli and Palestinian detainees. He was sentenced to a six-year term for "membership in  a terrorist organization," and freed after two years in jail.

An Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed the arrest Monday "due to his affiliation with Hamas."

The Ynet news story tied in the publicity of former Shin Bet agent, Mosab Yousef’s exploits as chronicled in his book, Son of Hamas– see below.

                     Report: IDF nabs recently released Hamas leader

Palestinian sources report one of Hamas' founders Sheikh Hassan Yousef arrested by IDF near Nablus less than month after his release from prison. Yousef's son served as key Shin Bet agent during second intifada. IDF: We're checking report

Palestinian sources reported [Tuesday] that the IDF has arrested again one of Hamas' leaders in the West Bank, Sheikh Hassan Yousef. According to the report, Sheikh Yousef was arrested while trying to cross the Zatara checkpoint south of Nablus, after returning from a family visit in Jenin.

The sources noted that the Hamas leader was detained for several hours at the checkpoint together with his wife and children. The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said it is checking the report.  (Read more)

The Israel Ha Yom Report  conflated the reference to “son” and wrongly construed it to be Mosab, rather than his brother.

IDF arrests senior Hamas leader in West Bank raid, again

The Israel Defense Forces arrested one of the most senior Hamas West Bank leaders, Sheik Hassan Yousef, and his son, at their home in Bitunia, near Ramallah in the West Bank, on Tuesday. Three other senior Hamas operatives were arrested as well during the operation.

After the arrests, conflicting media reports emerged. The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said it was checking into the circumstances and status of the arrests, although the Ramallah-based Ma’an News Agency said "an Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed the arrest [of Yousef] Monday, due to his affiliation with Hamas."

Yousef is considered to be one of the founders of Hamas as well as its spiritual leader.

Yousef was released from an Israeli prison just two months ago because of overcrowding after spending six years in jail with 770 other Palestinian prisoners. This is his second arrest since that release. Upon his initial release, Yousef bragged that he had played a role in securing the release of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who was abducted by Hamas in 2006 and held captive for five years before being released on Oct. 18. Yousef also called for all Palestinian factions to unite against Israel.

Known for his critical views of the Palestinian Authority, Yousef was quoted after Shalit’s release as saying, "The Palestinian Authority has not stopped arresting and summoning Hamas supporters, even during and after the swap."

Yousef's eldest son Mosab, who was also arrested in the IDF operation, published a book titled "Son of Hamas" in 2010, in which he claimed that he was a former Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) agent.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri condemned the arrest of Yousef and his son, saying, "This is an escalation by Israel, which continues to harm Palestinian icons for no good reason."

Posted on 11/02/2011 10:10 AM by Jerry Gordon
Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Most Absurd Sentence Recently Posted At Harvard Business Review

"Bill Gates stepped away from Microsoft in 2006 and, despite the company’s growing troubles in the face of the mobile disruption, has devoted his genius to solving the world’s biggest problems, despite the fact that solving those problems doesn’t create profit or fame."

No, "solving the world's biggest problems" would certainly never  "create...fame."

Posted on 11/02/2011 11:01 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 2 November 2011
In Libya, Enough Weapons On The Loose To Ar,m All Of Africa

Un geste pour la planète : l'impression de cette information est-elle vraiment nécessaire ?

"Il y a en Libye de quoi armer toute l’Afrique"

Photo prise le 26 octobre, dans un dépôt d'armes à quelque 100 km au sud de Syrte.

Photo prise le 26 octobre, dans un dépôt d'armes à quelque 100 km au sud de Syrte.AP/David Sperry

C'est un hangar blanc, de 35 m sur 7, sans fenêtre. La porte en métal, fermée par une chaîne, est recouverte de deux mots: "Danger, partez !" Les habitants de Sokna, la plus petite des trois localités qui forment l'oasis de Joufra, au centre de la Libye, en sont persuadés: ce hangar, situé dans un complexe relevant du ministère de la défense, contient du gaz moutarde.

"Il y a deux énormes frigos là-dedans remplis de barils", raconte Mohammed Ali, chef du comité militaire des révolutionnaires locaux. Il assure qu'une équipe de trois experts américains est venue, début octobre, inspecter les locaux. "Ils ont enfilé des tenues en plastique. Quand ils sont ressortis, ils nous ont dit de ne plus entrer là-dedans, que c'était très dangereux. Puis ils ont soudé la porte." Visiblement, la menace n'a pas empêché des curieux de faire sauter le scellé et de s'attaquer aux gonds. Sans succès.

Selon les habitants, quatre soldats français des forces spéciales, arrivés avec des combattants de Benghazi le 21 septembre, ont visité le local. "Ils ont emmené à Benghazi un camion rempli d'appareils spéciaux." Les habitants désignent aussi une usine locale, où travaillaient des Serbes, comme un centre de production d'armes chimiques: selon un ex-officier, il s'agirait d'une fabrique de dynamite.

Le hangar de Sokna, voire l'usine suspecte, sont-ils les deux nouveaux sites de stockage d'armes chimiques, dont l'existence a été révélée dimanche 30 octobre par l'ex-chef de l'exécutif du Conseil national de transition (CNT) libyen, Mahmoud Jibril ? Youssef Safi Eddine, le plus haut gradé chargé des armes chimiques dans l'armée libyenne, a confirmé à l'Agence France-Presse la découverte récente de gaz moutarde "non neutralisé" sur deux sites, dont l'un avec du gaz "prêt à un usage militaire". Les lieux, tenus secrets, seraient sous bonne garde et intacts.

Selon l'Organisation pour l'interdiction des armes chimiques (OIAC), dépendant des Nations unies, la Libye possédait officiellement 11 tonnes de gaz moutarde. Le régime en avait révélé l'existence, tout comme celle de matériau radioactif, lorsqu'il avait renoncé à son programme d'armes de destruction massive en 2003. Le gaz avait été neutralisé mais sa destruction n'était pas achevée. Durant la guerre civile, l'OTAN a surveillé la menace chimique, à laquelle Mouammar Kadhafi n'a pas eu – ou pas pu avoir – recours.

Le stock "officiel" se trouve à Ghawagha, à l'autre extrémité de l'oasis de Joufra. C'est probablement le plus grand dépôt d'armes de toute la Libye : une centaine de bunkers creusés à même la montagne, au nord de Waddan, de sorte que les camions peuvent y manœuvrer. Le site, connu de tous, n'est gardé par personne. Il suffit de pousser la grille d'entrée. Les bunkers se répartissent à droite et à gauche de la piste. Plus de deux sur trois ont été détruits par des bombardements des avions de l'Alliance, d'une précision diabolique. "Chaque fois que l'OTAN touchait un bunker, on voyait depuis le village des explosions qui duraient parfois toute la nuit, se souvient Senoussi Al-Tayeb, chef militaire des rebelles de Waddan. C'était comme un feu d'artifice effrayant." Le site est jonché de restes de munitions calcinées, retombées un peu partout. "Heureusement, l'OTAN n'a jamais visé les bunkers contenant les armes chimiques. Joufra est une cuvette, nous y serions tous passés." Cet officier à la retraite assure que les bunkers contenant le gaz moutarde, un peu à l'écart et au nombre de deux à quatre selon les sources, sont bien gardés. Impossible de vérifier. Mais tout Waddan rapporte la mésaventure de deux rebellesqui avaient garé leur pick-up près des entrepôts dont ils s'approchaient à pied, quand deux bombes les ont visés avant qu'un missile détruise leur véhicule.

"C'est l'OTAN qui assure une surveillance des entrepôts avec ses drones", explique M. Al-Tayeb. Washington a débloqué 40 millions de dollars (29 millions d'euros) pour sécuriser les entrepôts d'armes libyens. Les premiers experts sont arrivés en fin de semaine dernière. [utterly too late]

A Syrte, le 19 octobre.

A Syrte, le 19 octobre.REUTERS/THAIER AL-SUDANI

Les visites se succèdent mais les sites restent sans protection sérieuse. Or toute l'oasis de Joufra n'est qu'un immense arsenal. Mouammar Kadhafi et son fidèle ministre de la défense, Abou Bakr Younès Jaber, tué à ses côtés le 20 octobre à Syrte, en avaient fait le centre nerveux de l'appareil militaire libyen. L'oasis, constituée de trois localités modestes – Houn, le chef-lieu, au centre, Waddan, à l'est, et Sokna, à l'ouest – est idéalement située au centre de l'immensité libyenne.

Ahmed Al-Arabi, professeur d'ingénierie à l'université de Joufra, est un révolutionnaire de la première heure. Il a agi pendant des mois dans la clandestinité. "Tout passait par ici. C'était une immense caserne. Si on avait commencé par prendre Joufra, Kadhafi n'aurait jamais tenu sept mois." Mais la disproportion des forces était telle qu'il n'a rien pu faire avant septembre.

Avec son beau-frère, le colonel Nasser Abdelhafiz, qui occupait un poste de responsabilité au ministère de la défense, ils ont tenté de faire passer secrètement des informations à l'OTAN, via les rebelles de Misrata. "On voyait tout. Comment les convois de munitions partaient la nuit, recouverts de légumes et de fourrage ; comment des fermes ont été utilisées pour entreposer des armes ; comment le ministre de la défense s'est caché dans la compagnie d'électricité… A la fin, il s'était installé à l'hôpital."

Parfois, ces informations ont été utiles, souvent, elles sont arrivées trop tard. "L'OTAN a bombardé beaucoup de choses inutiles, comme nos installations radars, souligne le colonel Abdelhafiz, spécialiste de la défense antiaérienne. Et ils ont négligé des cibles plus importantes." Ce n'est que le 19 septembre, deux jours après la fuite de Younès, que Joufra s'est entièrement libérée, avec l'aide de l'OTAN. Ensuite, cela a été la ruée. Les rebelles ont débarqué de partout, alléchés par les fabuleuses quantités d'armes encore présentes. "Il y a en Libye de quoi armer toute l'Afrique, confirme M. Abdelhafiz. Dans les années 1970 et 1980, Kadhafi a acheté en quantités astronomiques. L'oasis compte pas moins de 200 entrepôts. Mais c'est du matériel obsolète." Obsolète mais suffisant pour fabriquer pendant des décennies des engins artisanaux (IED), qui ont démontré leur redoutable pouvoir de tuer en Irak et en Afghanistan. "J'ai peur que tout cela tombe entre de mauvaises mains", confirme-t-il. Il pense aux missiles sol-air portatifs de type Strella, et surtout aux Igla, plus récents, d'une portée de 5 à 6 km et thermoguidés. Largement de quoi abattre des avions civils en tout cas.

Les combattants de Misrata ont été les plus prompts pour piller les principaux stocks d'armes, suivis par ceux de Zentan, Gherian, Zaouïa. "Que pouvais-je faire ? Ils disaient qu'ils avaient besoin d'armes pour le siège de Syrte", plaide M. Al-Tayeb, censé contrôler les entrepôts de Ghawagha. Après la mort de l'ex-Guide libyen, tous les rebelles sont partis.

Le colonel Abdelhafiz a été chargé par le ministre de la défense du Conseil national de transition (CNT) de sécuriser les stocks de Joufra. Mais il vient d'apprendre qu'un autre gradé avait été mandaté par le chef d'état-major pour la même tâche. Sans coordination ni troupes, il ne peut que compter sur les 200 combattants de la katiba (brigade) Al-Jazira, dépêchés depuis Benghazi pour l'aider.

Mais leur commandant, Hani Zeidan, ne veut pas se déployer sur des dépôts pillés par les rebelles de Misrata, qu'il ne semble pas apprécier: "Dieu sait ce qu'ils ont fait de ces armes. Je ne veux pas être tenu pour responsable de leur disparition." En attendant, il a fait envoyer à Benghazi plusieurs dizaines de véhicules de transport blindés, officiellement "pour protéger les champs pétroliers".

"Les rebelles ne sont pas venus protéger les dépôts, mais les piller, déplore le colonel Abdelhafiz, impuissant. Ils préparent l'avenir, au cas où ça tourne mal. L'important, se rassure-t-il, c'est qu'on sache qui a pris quoi et l'a emmené où." C'est bien le problème.

Posted on 11/02/2011 11:06 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Al-Shabaab training UK residents to fight in Somalia

I picked up a newspaper in a waiting room today, and it turned out to be the Guardian

For the thousands of drought refugees at the Ala-Yasir camp, it was a moment of palpable anticipation. An announcement was expected.

Finally, the al-Shabaab media co-ordinator demanded that all the journalists switched off their phones and handed the mobiles over to him.

He took us aside one by one and explained what was going to happen: "An al-Qaida representative, who's an American, is here to distribute aid to those at the camp. It's the first of its kind. After he is introduced he will give out a short statement in English and then talk to some of the refugees. No questions, please."

A 4x4 sped up to the camp. The al-Shabaab spokesman, Sheikh Ali Dhere, plus a tall figure with a masked face, got out of the vehicle. It was clear from his hands that he was white. This man, Abu Abdullah Muhajir, was al-Qaida's official envoy to Somalia. His nationality could not be independently verified. But he read from a statement in an American-English accent.

The governor promised to feed the displaced villagers for the next three months, back in their homes, until they could replant and feed themselves.

"We don't want to keep them here forever and they don't want to stay here forever," said a man in charge of food distribution at the camp, who spoke with an English accent and called himself Abu Omar. "So what we are trying to do, we're trying to encourage them, give them an incentive to go back to their farms and cultivate."

The aid community was concerned about returning displaced people too early without knowing their state of health or what they would have back home. But al-Shabaab argued that they knew the risks involved better than anyone. They cleared the camp of 5,000 people in 24 hours.

The paper edition also had two articles, one to the effect that boys and young men separated for their families were of particular interest to al-Shabaab who were keen to recruit them to fight, the other refering to the frequency that al-Shabaab men speaking English with US and British accents are heard. I can't find either on-line yet but this is on the same subject.

Britain's security and intelligence agencies, MI5 and MI6, believe more than 100 British residents have been training and fighting in Somalia and about 40 are estimated to be active there now.

The militants – who have various origins, including Pakistan, Bangladesh and west Africa – are believed to be attracted to al-Shabaab and, according to UK officials, are willing to get involved in fighting and become "cannon fodder". However, there is a risk they could return to Britain radicalised and motivated, officials say, warning that Somalia is a more likely base for potential attacks on the UK than Yemen.

Judging the risk is complicated since elements of the Somali diaspora in Britain are involved in criminal, but not terrorist-related, activities. Their movements are not always easy to track because many entered the UK from other European countries and have EU passports. I'm amazed that The Guardian is distinguishing them as merely 'residents' of Britian and has acknowledged the Somali criminal tendency.

Jonathan Evans, the head of MI5, said last year he was concerned that it was "only a matter of time before we see terrorism on our streets inspired by those who are today fighting alongside al-Shabaab." MI5 and MI6 are both advertising for Somali speakers. Do yourself a favour, choose Christian refugees, they will be more honest.


Posted on 11/02/2011 11:11 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Bareheaded women in ads targeted in Muslim Chechnya

(Reuters) - Several businesses in Russia's Chechnya region were ordered this week to cover up the bare heads of women in their advertisements, in what a local government source said was the latest assertion of Muslim customs by the authorities.

A band of men whom hairdressers described as being dressed in the uniform of local security forces stormed the "Edem" salon in the center of the regional capital Grozny, demanding they cover up the hair of two women in their advertisement. "Authorities walked around the area, ripping off ads with women pictured in them. They told us that ads displaying women without headscarves are banned," said a 28-year-old hairdresser, who declined to give her name. "We got scared so we covered them up," she said pointing to a large crimson ad outside where the black and blonde locks of two women in photographs had been plastered over with red tape.

A source in the regional government, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that the attacks on advertisements had been ordered by local authorities.

But not everyone received warnings. When a dentist at a central clinic returned one afternoon this week, he saw that his poster advertising a tooth whitening service had been destroyed, leaving a ring of blonde hair encircling a gaping hole that had once been a woman's face.

Posted on 11/02/2011 11:33 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Even Anna Chapman Takes Up The Famous Theme

What if Baron Georges d’ Anthès ("Mais moi aussi -- je suis Senateur") had not killed Pushkin, and the latter lived on for another four decades, so as to be alive when Tolstoy wrote "War and Peace" and "Anna Karenina"? It's an old theme -- Nabokov has a story, "An Old Poet," that imagines a similar situation. Now Anna Chapman, Russian spy and now a celebrity good-time girl in her native land, has had her say, or rather, has lifted passages from someone else and presented them as her own, on the subject of "What If Pushkin Had Lived."

Has Martin Luther King, the well-known plagiarist, suffered in any way? Maya Angelou objected to one quote, among many engraven on stone at the hideous monument to King that has just opened -- but her objection was that the quote, about how "I have been a drum-major for justice," made "Martin" or made "Dr. King" seem arrogant, and that, of course, Maya Angelou said, he was not. Neither she, nor anyone else, appears to have objected to a quotation from Theodore Parker, that King often used but never credited to Parker -- perhaps he thought no one would ever bother to look it up, or that he could always claim it had been so much a part of his life for so long that he, in good faith, thought it was his. So why should Anna Chapman have thought she would be treated differently?



Posted on 11/02/2011 1:41 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Denunciations Of Muslim Attempt To Limit Free Speech In France

Guéant dénonce un «attentat» contre Charlie Hebdo



le 02/11/2011

RÉACTIONS - Le ministre de l'Intérieur s'est rendu au siège de l'hebdomadaire satirique, victime dans la nuit d'un incendie criminel condamné par l'ensemble de la classe politique.

Les réactions politiques de tout bord ont afflué après l'incendie du siège parisien de l'hebdomadaire satirique Charlie Hebdo, probable représaille à la parution d'un numéro consacré à la charia.

Le premier ministre, François Fillon, a fait part de son «indignation» et demandé au ministre de l'Intérieur, Claude Guéant, que «toute la lumière soit faite» et que «les auteurs soient poursuivis». «La liberté d'expression est une valeur inaliénable de notre démocratie et toute atteinte à la liberté de la presse doit être condamnée avec la plus grande fermeté», affirme dans un communiqué le chef du gouvernement.

Dans une première réaction, Claude Guéant a appelé «tous les Français à se sentir solidaires» de Charlie Hebdo. Le ministre s'est ensuite rendu sur place, où il a dénoncé «un attentat». Interrogé pour savoir si la piste des «musulmans intégristes» était explorée, il a répondu: «Toutes les pistes sont examinées et il est vrai qu'un certain nombre de messages de menaces qui ont été reçus par amène à ne pas négliger cette piste». Le ministre a encore prévenu que «si certains croient pouvoir imposer une façon de voir à la République française (...) ils se trompent, ils seront combattus, les Français n'accepteront pas cet impérialisme».


Plus d'infos en vidéo sur

Le Parti socialiste, par la voix de sa première secrétaire Martine Aubry, a également exprimé sa «solidarité» avec la rédaction du journal, affirmant que «la liberté de la presse s'exerce aussi à travers la dérision et l'humour». Le maire PS de Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, s'est dit mercredi «révolté». «Si je peux aider Charlie Hebdo à retrouver des locaux pour pouvoir faire vivre son journal et sa liberté, je le ferai», a-t-il ensuite proposé. D'ici là Nicolas Demorand, directeur de la rédaction de Libération, a invité les journalistes de l'hebdomadaire à s'installer dans les locaux de son quotidien. «On se serrera», a-t-il twitté.

«Nous sommes un État laïc», rappelle Christine Boutin

Christine Boutin, présidente du Parti chrétien-démocrate et candidate à la présidentielle, a rappelé que «nous sommes un État laïc, toutes les religions et les croyances ont la possibilité d'exister». «Il n'y a pas d'impunité, c'est un acte qui doit donner lieu à des poursuites judiciaires», a affirmé pour sa part le secrétaire général de l'UMP Jean-François Copé.

Le parti communiste a fustigé dans un communiqué un «acte immonde». «Le débat politique et médiatique ne peut pas se régler à coups de cocktail molotov et ceux qui voudrait nous le faire croire préfèrent se débarrasser des idées, en brûlant les journaux, plutôt que d'en débattre», dit le texte du PCF. Évoquant un acte «répugnant», le candidat du Front de gauche à la présidentielle, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a appelé au respect de la liberté d'expression, et à «ne pas confondre une poignée d'imbéciles, d'abrutis (...) avec la masse de nos compatriotes musulmans qui pratiquent leur foi en toute tranquillité».

«Nous condamnons l'incendie, tout en étant vigilant sur l'origine de l'incendie», a réagi le président du Conseil français du culte musulman (CFCM), Mohammed Moussaoui. Tout en rappelant que «le fait même de caricaturer le prophète est considéré comme une offense pour les musulmans», il a jugé la Une du journal de cette semaine moins «violente» que les caricatures qu'il avait publiées il y a cinq ans.

Jointe par le Figaro à Washington, Marine Le Pen, candidate FN à la présidentielle, a jugé l'affaire «très grave». «Je condamne avec la plus grande fermeté cette attaque violente. Ce n'est pas la première fois que des fondamentalistes islamistes se permettent d'imposer leurs interdits en France. C'est un rejet du modèle politique français et de la laïcité», a-t-elle déclaré.


Posted on 11/02/2011 2:33 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Tunisia, Harbinger Of Things To Come

From Reuters:

Radical Islamists seize control of Tunisia mosques


By Tom Heneghan

TUNIS (Reuters) - Radical Islamists have seized control of 150 to 200 mosques and prayer halls around Tunisia this year, a senior religious official said Wednesday.

Official control over Tunisia's 5,000 mosques and small prayer halls has relaxed since the January revolution that toppled autocratic president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, allowing radicals to occupy some of them, Jamel Oueslati told Reuters.

There were also cases where imams and congregations thwarted takeover bids, said Oueslati, who is chief of staff to Religious Affairs Minister Aroussi Mizouri in the caretaker government. He had no figures for such cases.

"After January 14, some extremist tendencies invaded certain mosques," he said, referring to the day Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia. "The ministry has no power to pressure them. We have to wait until things calm down and we'll see what we can do.

"This is an exceptional situation. This tendency is a reaction to the years of oppression and lack of free expression. They now have the opportunity to express their views, often aggressively."

The moderate Islamist party Ennahda, which advocates democracy and pledges not to impose religious bans on the secularist minority here, won 40 percent of the vote in the October 23 election for a constituent assembly.

It is expected to form a coalition with two large secularist parties to run the country and write a new constitution.


No radical Islamist parties were allowed to contest the election, so the extent of their political support is not known. But few are seen on the streets in Tunis, where many women wear western clothes and do not veil their hair.

Radical Islamists, or salafists, have given Tunisia's secularist elites the jitters. Last month, they clashed with police in Tunis and protested against a film they said insulted Islam.

Oueslati said the ministry, which oversees the management of mosques and prayer halls and validates the qualifications of imams, had no problems with radicals under the old dictatorship.

Since the revolution did away with authoritarian methods, he said, it could not ask the police to eject the salafists.

"We're trying to discuss with them, but they won't agree to talk," he said. The ministry will be able to take legal measures only once the new government is formed and establishes its authority.

Oueslati said there was no indication the salafists were supported from abroad, but said Tunisia was concerned about satellite television broadcasts that propagated a stricter version of Islam than normally practised here.

The authorities were considering launching a Tunisian Islamic television channel, with question and answer sessions like those popular on foreign stations, he said.

"Most people want to ask questions about religion. When Tunisians don't find someone to ask, some go and watch these satellite channels and can get confused," he said.

If Tunisia creates its own religious channel, he said, "people could address our own experts with their questions instead of turning to the so-called 'sages' of the Gulf or elsewhere."

The state has taken over a religious radio station set up in Tunis several years ago by a relative of Ben Ali, he said.

Oueslati said the majority of Tunisians rejected religious radicalism. "We're moderates, we want to be open to the world," he said. "We're not fundamentalists, as some seem to think."

Posted on 11/02/2011 2:41 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 2 November 2011
'Be God's curse upon you!': the dangers of mixing satire and Islam

Tom Chivers in The Telegraph:

I went to see Steven Pinker and Matt Ridley last night at Intelligence Squared, talking about Pinker's new book The Better Angels of our Nature in which he shows, powerfully, that we are now living in the safest time to be alive in the history of humanity. It's a fascinating read and was a fascinating talk: I'll write on it more fully later. But this morning, one of Pinker's asides seems telling.

He was talking about the influence of ideology and religion in violence, and pointed to the Crusades and the European wars of religion. He said that a statistician (annoyingly, I can't remember his name) whose work he relied upon in the book had once been asked, rhetorically, "How much pain and suffering has religion caused?" The statistician replied: "About 10 per cent."

He had, in fact, run the numbers: a significant fraction of the wars of history were the direct consequence of utopian ideologies. It makes sense. If you promise a perfect world for all, whether a socialist paradise, a thousand-year Reich, or a verdant afterlife filled with virgins and sherbet, then anyone who stands in the way of it is clearly evil, and unlimited violence can be justified in pursuing it. "He who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities", as Voltaire said.

Luckily, most of these utopian ideologies have been discredited or defanged. Few people defend the ideas of racial purity or Marxist historical progress any more. Christians rarely break people upon the wheel or cut people in half for blaspheming. But one ideology seems not to have received this message.

In today's paper, we reported that a French satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, was crediting "the Prophet Mohammed" as its guest editor. It's an insensitive thing to do, since Muslims hold the Prophet sacred, and many would be offended. But it's not a provocation to violence. Nonetheless, it was a reasonably safe bet that the Charlie Hebdo offices would be threatened with reprisals: and, lo and behold, this morning we report that they have been firebombed. Its website was also hacked, to display the message: "You keep abusing Islam's almighty Prophet with disgusting and disgraceful cartoons using excuses of freedom of speech. Be God's curse upon you!"

No one was hurt, luckily, and the newspaper's editor reckons it will only miss one issue. But the point is this: Hebdo is an anti-clerical paper. Its usual targets are French Roman Catholics. How often do you imagine it is threatened by Catholic fanatics?

I bow to no one in my distrust of all religious morality, especially in politics. As Charlie Hebdo itself put it, in response to the Tunisian Islamist party taking power, which inspired their Mohammed guest-editing joke: "What would be the point of a religious party taking power if it didn’t apply its ideas? Hello, we are the Bolshevik party and if you vote for us we promise never to speak of Communism." But it would be blinkered of me not to admit that, nowadays, there is only one religion whose followers regularly dish out violence over perceived offences. I can all too easily imagine a lot of hissy-fits around Britain at the news that churches are to be allowed to carry out civil partnerships, but I seriously doubt any Anglicans will be firebombing churches.


[I]n a world that has been getting safer, one religion is stubbornly holding on to a violent past. I'm not going to call for "ordinary Muslims" to denounce terror. They do, fairly regularly. [Against "innocent" people, and we know what that means in Islam.] But it would be nice to think that one day in the not-too-distant future we in the newspaper industry can make bad jokes about Mohammed as often as we do about Christ, without fear of brutal reprisals. In fact, the right note to end on is to congratulate Christianity worldwide for leaving its savage past behind: let's hope Islam can follow.

Some hope. (I was going to write "good luck with that", but that's a cliché, and I avoid clichés like the plague.)

Posted on 11/02/2011 2:42 PM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 2 November 2011
The Irish and Israel - another good egg

In the comments to this month's article by Robert Harris, Hugh Fitzgerald writes:

There is Paul Muldoon. There is Seamus Heaney. From the outside, they are better positioned to see how unfair, how grotesque, is the Irish coverage of the Jihad being waged, and permanently to be waged, against Israel. Conor Cruise O'Brien is another example -- but he had wide experience of the world, of men and events, and was not to be fooled in the manner of a sean-macbride or of his epigones.

There's also Kevin Myers:

What is it about Israel that prompts such a widespread departure from common sense, reason and moral reality? As another insane flotilla prepares to butt across the Mediterranean bringing "aid" to the "beleaguered" people of Gaza, in its midst travelling the MV Saoirse, does it never occur to all the hysterical anti-Israeli activists in Ireland that this is like worrying about the steaks being burnt on the barbecue, as a forest fire sweeps towards your back garden?

I took part in a discussion about the Middle East last weekend in the Dalkey Books Festival. It was surreal. Not merely was I the only pro-Israeli person in the panel of four, but the chairwoman of the session, Olivia O'Leary, also felt obliged to throw in her three-ha'pence worth.

Israeli settlers on the West Bank were on stolen land, she sniffed. Palestinians in their refugee camps had title deeds to the ancient properties. The UN had repeatedly condemned Israel. Brian Keenan, who was held hostage by Arab terrorists for four years, then detailed Israeli human-rights abuses, to loud cheers.

Israel -- and its sole defender on the panel (is mise) -- were then roundly attacked by members of the audience. But what was most striking about the audience's contributions was the raw emotion: they seemed to loathe Israel.

But how can anyone possibly think that Gaza is the primary centre of injustice in the Middle East? According to Mathilde Redmatn, deputy director of the International Red Cross in Gaza, there is in fact no humanitarian crisis there at all. But by God, there is one in Syria, where possibly thousands have died in the past month.

However, I notice that none of the Irish do-gooders are sending an aid-ship to Latakia. Why? Is it because they know that the Syrians do not deal with dissenting vessels by lads with truncheons abseiling down from helicopters, but with belt-fed machine guns, right from the start?

What about a humanitarian ship to Libya? Surely no-one on the MV Saoirse could possible maintain that life under Gaddafi qualified it as a civilised state. Not merely did it murder opponents by the bucketload at home and abroad, it kept the IRA campaign going for 20 years, and it also -- a minor point, this, I know -- brought down the Pan Am flight at Lockerbie. Yet no Irish boat to Libya. Only the other way round.

And then there's Iraq. Throughout the decades of Saddam Hussein, whose regime caused the deaths of well over a million people, there wasn't a breath of liberal protest against him. Gassing the Kurds? Not a whimper. Invading Kuwait? Not one single angry placard-bearing European liberal outside an Iraqi embassy.

Destroying the drainage systems of the Marsh Arabs? Silence. Manipulating UN oil-for-food programme so that thousands died? Nothing.

Next, Saudi Arabia, whose revolting practices cannot be called medieval without doing a grave injustice to the Middle Ages. It is led by savages who have studiously turned their backs on knowledge -- even as they sip their Krug and their Bollinger in their €100m apartments in Belgravia. They behead and behand, they torture and they mutilate, and they have spent billions on their foul madrasahs teaching young Muslims right across the world to hate us kaffirs. But what demonstrations are there outside Saudi embassies? What flotillas to defend the human rights of the millions of immigrant serfs, who toil without any rights in Saudi homes and in the oil industry?

There isn't a single Arab country, not one, with the constitutional protection that Israel confers on all its citizens, regardless of religion or ethnicity or sexual orientation. And no, I don't like the settlements on the West Bank, but really, by any decent measure, it is simply not possible to gaze upon the entire region, reaching from Casablanca to Yemen, and then to point indignantly and say: "Ah yes, Gaza: that's where the one great injustice lies."

The last 'aid flotilla' to Gaza carried a large number of Islamists who wanted to provoke: and aided by some quite astounding Israeli stupidity, they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

Now another convoy is under way, and again with an utterly disingenuous plan to bring "assistance" to the "beleaguered Gazans", some of who, funnily enough, can now cross into Egypt any time they like, and buy their explosives and their Kalashnikovs in the local arms-bazaar.

And as for human-rights abuses: why, nothing that Israel has done in the 63 years of its existence can possibly compare with the mass-murders of Fatah members by Hamas firing-squads over the past five years.

The colossal western intellectual dissonance between evidence and perception on the subject of Israel at this point in history can perhaps only be explained by anthropologists.

This dissonance is perhaps at its most acute in Ireland, where no empirical proof seems capable of changing people's minds. Israel, just about the only country in the entire region where Arabs are not rising up against their rulers, is also the only country that the Irish chattering classes unite in condemning. Rather pathetic, really.

I have linked to Kevin Myers before, in connection with Somalia which he describes as:

[A] fine land of violent, Kalashnikov-toting, khat-chewing, girl-circumcising, permanently tumescent layabouts.

Kevin Myers single-handedly raises the mean Irish IQ - they voted for the Lisbon treaty, for which I have not forgiven them -  to triple figures. No mean feat.

Posted on 11/02/2011 5:55 PM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 2 November 2011
TIME Marches On, With An Unusually Stupid And Nauseating Piece By Its Paris Bureau Chief

From the blog run by Time magazine, this piece by Bruce Crumley, Paris Bureau Chief for Time Magazine:

Firebombed French Paper Is No Free Speech Martyr

A police officer stands in front of the headquarters of satiric French newspaper Charlie Hebdo, where a fire broke out overnight, November 2, 2011. (Photo: Thibault Camus / AP)

Okay, so can we finally stop with the idiotic, divisive, and destructive efforts by “majority sections” of Western nations to bait Muslim members with petulant, futile demonstrations that “they” aren't going to tell “us” what can and can't be done in free societies? Because not only are such Islamophobic antics futile and childish, but they also openly beg for the very violent responses from extremists their authors claim to proudly defy in the name of common good. What common good is served by creating more division and anger, and by tempting belligerent reaction?

The difficulty in answering that question is also what's making it hard to have much sympathy for the French satirical newspaper firebombed this morning, after it published another stupid and totally unnecessary edition mocking Islam. The Wednesday morning arson attack destroyed the Paris editorial offices of Charlie Hebdo after the paper published an issue certain to enrage hard-core Islamists (and offend average Muslims) with articles and “funny” cartoons featuring the Prophet Mohammed—depictions forbidden in Islam to boot. Predictably, the strike unleashed a torrent of unqualified condemnation from French politicians, many of whom called the burning of the notoriously impertinent paper as “an attack on democracy by its enemies.”

We, by contrast, have another reaction to the firebombing: Sorry for your loss, Charlie, and there's no justification of such an illegitimate response to your current edition. But do you still think the price you paid for printing an offensive, shameful, and singularly humor-deficient parody on the logic of “because we can” was so worthwhile? If so, good luck with those charcoal drawings your pages will now be featuring.

Though police say they still don't know who staged the apparent strike, the (sorry) inflammatory religious theme of the new edition has virtually everyone suspecting Muslim extremists were responsible. Which, frankly, is exactly why it's hard not to feel it's the kind of angry response--albeit in less destructive form-- Charlie Hebdo was after in the first place. What was the point otherwise? Yet rather than issuing warnings to be careful about what one asks for, the arson  prompted political leaders and pundits across the board to denounce the arson as an attack on freedom of speech, liberty of expression, and other rights central to French and other Western societies. In doing so they weren't entirely alone. Muslim leaders in France and abroad also stepped up to condemn the action--though not without duly warning people to wait for police to identify the perpetrators before assigning guilt, especially via association.

The reasons for such concern were as obvious as the suspicions about who had staged the strike: the coarse and heavy-handed Islamist theme of the current edition of Charlie Hebdo. As part of its gag, the paper had re-named itself “Sharia Hebdo”. It also claimed to have invited Mohammed as its guest editor to “celebrate the victory” of the Islamist Ennahda party in Tunisia's first free elections last week. In addition to satirical articles on Islam-themed topics, the paper contains drawings of Mohammed in cartoons featuring Charlie Hebdo's trademark over-the-top (and frequently not “ha-ha funny”) humor. The cover, for example, features a crudely-drawn cartoon of the Prophet saying “100 Whip Lashes If You Don't Die Of Laughter.” Maybe you had to be there when it was first sketched.

If that weren't enough to offend Muslims sensitive to jokes about their faith, history helped raised hackles further. In 2007, Charlie Hebdo re-published the infamous (and, let' face it, just plain lame) Mohammed caricatures initially printed in 2005 by Danish paper Jyllands-Posten. As intended, those produced outrage--and at times violent reaction--from Muslims around the world (not to mention repeated terror plots to kill illustrators responsible for the drawings). Apart from unconvincing claims of exercising free speech in Western nations where that right no longer needs to be proved, it's unclear what the objectives of the caricatures were other than to offend Muslims—and provoke hysteria among extremists. After it's 2007 reprinting of those, Charlie Hebdo was acquitted by a French court on inciting racial hatred charges lodged by French Islamic groups over those and other caricatures—including one run as the paper's cover cartoon depicting Mohammed complaining “It's Hard To Be Loved By (expletives)”. When it comes to Islam, Charlie Hebdo has a million of 'em—but they're all generally as weak as they are needlessly provocative.

Editors, staff, fans, and apologists of Charlie Hebdo have repeatedly pointed out that the paper's take-no-prisoners humor spares no religion, political party, or social group from its questionable humor. They've also tended to defend the publication during controversy as a kind of gut check of free society: a media certain to anger, infuriate, and offend just about everybody at some point or another. As such, Charlie Hebdo has cultivated its insolence proudly as a kind of public duty—pushing the limits of freedom of speech, come what may. But that seems more self-indulgent and willfully injurious when it amounts to defending the right to scream “fire” in an increasingly over-heated theater.

Why? Because like France's 2010 law banning the burqa in public (and earlier legislation prohibiting the hijab in public schools), the nation's government-sponsored debates on Islam's place in French society all reflected very real Islamophobic attitudes spreading throughout society. Indeed, such perceived anti-Muslim action has made France a point of focus for Islamist radicals at home and abroad looking to harp on new signs of aggression against Islam. It has also left France's estimated five million Muslims feeling stigmatized and singled out for discriminatory treatment—a resentment that can't be have been diminished by seeing Charlie Hebdo's mockery of Islam “just for fun” defended as a hallowed example of civil liberty by French pols. It's yet to be seen whether Islamist extremists were behind today's arson, but both the paper's current edition, and the rush of politicians to embrace it as the icon of French democracy, raises the possibility of even moderate Muslims thinking “good on you” if and when militants are eventually fingered for the strike. It's all so unnecessary.

It's obvious free societies cannot simply give in to hysterical demands made by members of any beyond-the-pale group. And it's just as clear that intimidation and violence must be condemned and combated for whatever reason they're committed—especially if their goal is to undermine freedoms and liberties of open societies. But it's just evident members of those same free societies have to exercise a minimum of intelligence, calculation, civility and decency in practicing their rights and liberties—and that isn't happening when a newspaper decides to mock an entire faith on the logic that it can claim to make a politically noble statement by gratuitously pissing people off.

Defending freedom of expression in the face of oppression is one thing; insisting on the right to be obnoxious and offensive just because you can is infantile. Baiting extremists isn't bravely defiant when your manner of doing so is more significant in offending millions of moderate people as well. And within a climate where violent response—however illegitimate—is a real risk, taking a goading stand on a principle virtually no one contests is worse than pointless: it's pointlessly all about you.

So, yeah, the violence inflicted upon Charlie Hebdo was outrageous, unacceptable, condemnable, and illegal. But apart from the “illegal” bit, Charlie Hebdo's current edition is all of the above, too.

Posted on 11/02/2011 6:38 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 2 November 2011
A Musical Interlude: Shake That Thing (Ethel Waters)
Listen here.
Posted on 11/02/2011 6:45 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Christopher Dickey, Paris Bureau Chief Of Newsweek, Is Almost As Bad As Newsweek's Bruce Crumley

Firebomb Torches French Weekly [correct title: MuslimsTorch French Weekly]

The burning of satirical French weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo raises the specter of Muslim violence, and plays straight into the hands of the far right. Christopher Dickey reports.

Comment: Why this "plays straightr into the hands of the far right" business? It's as if Dickey thinks that is the problem -- not the attempt to impose Muslim ideas of blasphemy on the advanced West through violence, but the fact that this might help -- "play into the hands of" -- the "Far right." That far right, far right, far right. Who is part of that far right? Is Yvan Rioufol, is Elisabeth Levy, is Alain Finkielkraut, is Anne-Marie Delcambre, are the formerly Communist mayors, and Socialists too, who are  now supporting Marine Le Pen because of  t5heir observation of what the Muslim population is doing to France, are they all "far right"? What about the late Jacques Ellul -- was he "far right"? I don't know if in his cosseted position -- and does he still keep that picture of Yassir Arafat on his wall, as he once did? -- that Christopher Dickey knows much about France, though perhaps he knows a bit more than Bruce Crumley.


It’s a cliché among amateur detectives and conspiracy theorists, of whom France has a great many, that those who benefit most from a crime are the likeliest perpetrators. But that logic isn’t much in evidence when it comes to the burning of the satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo, its Paris headquarters firebombed in the dark hours of Wednesday morning.            

In this case everyone’s obvious suspects are Muslim radicals hellbent on attacking Charlie Hebdo for the incendiary issue it advertised it would publish this morning. The cover is a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad (the “guest editor”) declaring “100 lashes if you don’t die laughing.” The name of this special issue: Charia Hebdo (Sharia Weekly), referring to the religious code and law of Islam. The attack on the publication did not end with the Molotov cocktail thrown into its offices. Someone hacked into its website, too.           

But there’s also little doubt that those who’ll benefit most from this crime are the right-wing politicians in France, including President Nicolas Sarkozy. They play on a generalized resentment of Muslim immigrants in thinly veiled but suggestive language that may broaden the anger still more. Here and throughout Europe—and indeed in the U.S.—Muslims are attacked intolerantly, and the acts of very few are attributed by implication to many. The attack on Charlie Hebdo fits perfectly into that picture.           


Far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who had just embarked on a somewhat disappointing tour of the United States (Rep. Ron Paul reportedly declined to see her), jumped at the chance to warn against “these political-religious groups that impose their law, and, when they cannot do that, do it with violence.”

President Sarkozy’s political fortunes have been bleak for more than a year now. His approval rating is guttering in the low 30s. But he continues trying to shore up his backing among Le Pen’s traditional constituency. The head of Sarkozy’s party, Jean-François Copé, said the Charlie Hebdo attack “recalls those that can be committed by fundamentalists who manipulate religion for political ends.” Sarkozy’s close associate, Interior Minister Claude Guéant, declared that “the freedom of the press is a sacred freedom in our country,” and “whether one likes or does not like Charlie Hebdo” (which is savagely critical of Sarkozy and Guéant), all the French should stand in solidarity with the publication.           

There’s little doubt that those who’ll benefit most from this crime are the right-wing politicians in France, including President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Prominent leftists, including Socialist Party presidential candidate François Hollande, did just that, supporting the weekly and free expression, but with less suggestive talk about who might have been behind the attack.            

Leading Muslim voices, meanwhile, strongly attacked the attackers. [if you read with inteligent wariness you will find that very few "leading Muslim voices" denounced the attempt to suppress free speech; many "leading Muslim voices" were silent, and the few that did speak expressed concern mostly for what this would do to the image of Islam, how it might hurt Islam. Not a single Muslim group managed to denounce the attack forthrightly as an attack on the exercise, by French people in France, of their right of free speech, their right to mock] oThe French Muslim Council, which had taken Charlie Hebdo to court in 2006 after it republished controversial cartoons of Muhammad, flatly condemned the burning of the publication’s offices. Several younger leaders of more liberal groups with large Muslim memberships went to the scene. Sihem Habchi, who heads the women’s movement Ni Putes Ni Soumises (Neither Whores nor Submissives), condemned the act as “a great hurt for the image of Islam.” [apparently Dickey thinks this is a denunciation of the attack as an attempt to suppress freedom of speech -- but it wasn't  that at all, it was something quite different, a denunciation only because of the harm that it might do to the image of Islam. And does Dickey not know about the scandal that now surrounds Sihem Habchi, accused of stealing from "Ni Putes Ni Soumises"? Everyone else in France knows  it, so why not the Paris Bureau Chief of Newsweek?] The head of SOS Racisme, a French government organization combating racism, defended “the idea of a right to blaspheme” and the freedom of the press to “denounce the dogmas of all religions.”           

In fact, investigators remain open to the possibility that the perpetrators weren’t Muslim fundamentalists at all. One senior law-enforcement official noted that another issue of Charlie Hebdo had just attacked the crazy elements of the Catholic Church. [what nonsense Dickey spouts as he attempts to spread the possible blame in one of those  "anyone could have done it -- what about the Catholics?"bits of sand-in-your-eyes obfuscation, what an obvious red herring]

Posted on 11/02/2011 7:06 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 2 November 2011
An Attack On The Website, Too, Of Charlie Hebdo

"Charlie Hebdo" victime d'une cyberattaque turque ?

Capture d'écran de la page d'accueil du site web de l'hebdomadaire Charlie Hebdo piratée par Akincilar.

Capture d'écran de la page d'accueil du site web de l'hebdomadaire Charlie Hebdo piratée par Akincilar. DR

L'incendie volontaire qui a ravagé les locaux de "Charlie Hebdo" a quelque peu eclipsé l'autre offensive subie par l'hebdomadaire satirique dans la nuit de mardi à mercredi. Celle-ci a été menée sur les territoires numériques. Mercredi 2 novembre, le site Internet de l'hebdomadaire a été attaqué à deux reprises par un ou plusieurs pirates.

Ces attaques ont consisté à diffuser sur la page d'accueil du site Internet des messages en langue turque et anglaise. La rhétorique est violente et islamiste : "Vous continuez de maltraiter le prophète Mahomet avec des dessins dégoutants et honteux en prétextant la liberté d'expression". Puis la menace : "Nous serons votre malédiction sur le cyberespace".

Le premier piratage est signé Akincilar, du nom d'une ville d'Anatolie centrale. Derrière cette signature, un ou plusieurs pirates qui œuvrent notamment sur le forum spécialisé Le logo de ce forum apparaît d'ailleurs dans le piratage du site de Charlie Hebdo.

Akincilar n'en est pas à son coup d'essai. Sur le site spécialisé Zone H, plus de 6 000 attaques similaires signées de ce pseudonyme sont soigneusement répertoriées par leurs auteurs. Parmi les cibles : une majorité des sites Internet israéliens et américains. Dans leurs messages laissés sur les pages d'accueil des sites attaqués, Akincilar se présente comme "une équipe de cyber-guerriers" ou encore comme "la forteresse virtuelle de la Turquie" quitte à signer des attaques ainsi : "piraté par la république de Turquie". Une "équipe" qui se dit prête à "tout pour l'islam".

Capture d'écran de la page d'accueil du réseau social AnonPlus créé par le groupe de cyberactivistes Anonymous. En juillet 2011, le site a été piraté par Akincilar.

Capture d'écran de la page d'accueil du réseau social AnonPlus créé par le groupe de cyberactivistes Anonymous. En juillet 2011, le site a été piraté par Akincilar.DR

Cet été, Akincilar s'est attaqué aux cyberactivistes redoutés d'Anonymous. Ils ont pris d'assaut le réseau social AnonPlus lancé par Anonymous et, toujours sur le même modus operandi, ont modifié la page d'accueil. Cette fois, le logo des Anonymous est modifié : les pirates ont ajouté une tête de chien au désormais célèbre costume sans tête.

Des hackers d'Anonymous avaient alors évoqué une corrélation entre cette attaque qui les cible directement et leur offensive menée en juin dernier contre le site du gouvernement turc, alors que 32 membres présumés des Anonymous avaient été arrêtés par Ankara.

Peu après avoir été attaqué par Akincilar, le site web de Charlie Hebdo a subi une seconde offensive revendiquée par le groupe de pirates Mn9. Cette fois, la page d'accueil du site web laisse place à une photo de La Mecque et un message en langue anglaise accompagné d'une adresse de courriel utilisant une extension tunisienne ".tn".

Posted on 11/02/2011 8:37 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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