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These are all the Blogs posted on Monday, 22, 2009.
Monday, 22 June 2009
Iran admits 50 cities had more votes than voters

From The Times
In 50 Iranian cities the number of votes cast in this month presidential election exceeded the number of eligible voters, the state's election watchdog admitted today.
The surprising admission by the Guardian Council was, however, designed to undermine the claims of the defeated candidates that the vote was rigged.
Mir Hossein Mousavi, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's main rival in the hotly-disputed election, and the other two losing candidates have claimed that the vote exceeded eligible voters in as many as 170 districts.
Abbasali Kadkhodai, a spokesman for the council of senior clerics, told the state television channel IRIB: "Our investigation shows that the number of districts they announced is not correct. Based on our preliminary report, 50 districts face this issue."
Mr Kadkhodaei also argued that voter turnouts of more than 100 per cent were not unusual because Iranians can cast their ballots where they want. Although it is summer in Iran and some of the cities in question are in desert areas, he suggested some voters might have gone to them on holiday.
He also made clear that Mr Ahmadinejad's victory would not be affected even if the results in the 50 disputed districts were reversed as they account for three million votes and the official results show Mr Ahmadinejad won by a margin of 11 million.
Mr Kadkhodaei also argued that voter turnouts of more than 100 per cent were not unusual because Iranians can cast their ballots where they want. Although it is summer in Iran and some of the cities in question are in desert areas, he suggested some voters might have gone to them on holiday.
He also made clear that Mr Ahmadinejad's victory would not be affected even if the results in the 50 disputed districts were reversed as they account for three million votes and the official results show Mr Ahmadinejad won by a margin of 11 million.
The regime also announced today that 457 people were arrested during Saturday's running battles on the streets of Tehran. It said they had "caused insecurity, disrupted public order and clashed with police".
At least 13 civilians died in those confrontations between pro-Mousavi demonstrators and the security forces. The prosecutor general's office in Tehran claimed that it was "unknown vandals", not the police, who opened fire on civilians.
The others committed suicide by banging their heads against the Religious Policeman's boot.

Posted on 06/22/2009 6:26 AM by Esmerelda WEatherwax
Monday, 22 June 2009
Indian troops foil attack on Hindu pilgrims

SRINAGAR, India (AFP) — The Indian army said Monday it had defused a bomb placed along a route used by Hindus taking part in an annual pilgrimage to a mountain shrine in Muslim-majority Kashmir.
Troops discovered an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) on a road south of Indian Kashmir's summer capital Srinagar, and called in a bomb disposal team.
"The IED was concealed in a bag lying on the side of the mountainous road," an army officer said. "The timely detection avoided a possible catastrophe."
The road is used every day by thousands of Hindus from across India and the world to reach a Himalayan cave to a sacred ice form. . . a representation of Lord Shiva, the Hindu god .
Thousands of security forces are deployed along mountain roads and trails to protect the pilgrims, who have been targeted in the past by Islamic militants fighting New Delhi's rule in Muslim-majority Kashmir.

Posted on 06/22/2009 6:58 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 22 June 2009
No more concerts at Abha festival. Ever.

From the Arab News in Saudi Arabia:

ABHA: Asir Gov. Prince Faisal ibn Khaled announced yesterday that no musical concerts would be held as part of this year’s Abha Tourism Festival or those in the coming years. Addressing a news conference here, he denied suggestions that concerts would be one of the festival’s important events. However, he said an operetta composed of national songs and traditional dances would be held during the festival that draws a number of tourists from different parts of the Kingdom and neighboring Gulf countries.

The ban on concerts comes as a result of strong opposition from extremists. Concerts held as part of the Abha Festival in the past attracted a large number of people. Prominent Saudi and Gulf singers such as Muhammad Abdu, Khaled Abdul Rahman, Hussein Al-Jasmi, Rashid Al-Majed, Rashid Al-Faris and Nabeel Shuail have taken part in the concerts.

'Extremists'?  Extreme whatists?  Extreme melophobes?

Meanwhile, the taqiyyah artists are claiming that "Islam is popularly believed to "ban" music; obviously this is not the case...", "There is not a single Noble Verse in the Noble Quran that prohibits music.  In fact, music and songs are allowed in the Noble Quran...", and "There is no authorisation in the Qur'an for the interdiction on music."  Which is all wonderful news, but if mainstream Islamic clerics in Pakistan, AfghanistanKuwait, and of course Saudi Arabia are all banning music, we are left to wonder what causes the most Islamically-pure societies to misunderstand the holy, holy Qur'an in the same way?  And why do these "reformers" have so much trouble convincing their co-religionists of their obvious mistake?

Posted on 06/22/2009 12:53 PM by Artemis Gordon Glidden
Monday, 22 June 2009
Yet Another Franchise, Open for Business

I'm not going to touch on the "Burma vs. Myanmar" great debate.  National Public Radio (NPR) has this story on the poor, oppressed Rohingya people.

Morning Edition, June 22, 2009 · Myanmar is a place of misery for many of its citizens. Political dissent isn't tolerated by the repressive, often brutal military rulers. And neither, it seems, is the country's ethnic Muslim minority, known as the Rohingya. NPR's Michael Sullivan visited the country and examined their plight:

A friend brought me some pictures a few weeks back that were pretty disturbing. He works for an international aid agency, and the pictures were from a trip he took to visit some villages in Myanmar's northern Rakhine state, near the border with Bangladesh.

The state is home to the Rohingya minority. He was showing me the pictures because he was outraged that people had to live in such squalid conditions. Some of the children were badly undernourished. Their mothers' faces were lined with despair.

It was the despair in these women's eyes that got to my friend the most — the utter lack of hope. My friend, who doesn't want to be named — has been in this line of work for a long time, and he has seen places that he says he does not want to remember.

Sad eyes filled with an utter lack of hope?  Sounds awful.  Those evil, oppressive Buddhists are tormenting their gentle, helpless Muslim victims.  But hang on a moment.  It's not unusual for Muslim majority regions to have greatly diminished levels of income compared to their non-Muslim neighbors.  Their poverty might be a result of their own cultural and religious values, such as what Hugh calls "Inshallah fatalism," and not due to racism or Islamophobia on the part of the Myanmar military junta.  Maybe, for the first time in the history of the universe, these Muslims should take some teeny-tiny responsibility for their own actions, or lack of actions.  Or maybe not.  Maybe they're the completely innocent victims of kufir aggression.  As always.

But there is another viewpoint on the Rohingya.  And it all begins to sound amazingly familiar.  From Rakhapura.com:

Some Arakanese [Buddhist] people of that region in their early seventies and eighties have still not forgotten the atrocities they suffered in 1942 during the short period of anarchy between the British evacuation and the Japanese occupation of the area. For all these public disorders experienced by both of the Arakanese Buddhists in the western frontier and the Muslims in the Arakan proper (Mrauk-U and Kyauktaw townships), I certainly feel much reasonable to blame British Governor Sir Dorman Smith’s colonial administration for arming those Chittagonians in frontier area as the volunteer forces to deter the Japanese incursions and create a buffer between the Japanese occupied Burma and British India. An intelligence report said that the [Muslim] volunteers, instead of fighting the Japanese, destroying the Buddhist monasteries and pagodas, massacred thousands of innocent Arakanese [Buddhist] civilians. It also expressed the grave concern among the authoritiesof British administration in exile about the holocaust of Arakanese [Buddhist] community in the western fringe of Burma by those Chittagonians [British Library:IOR : B/8/9].

The Arakanese folk in rural areas again became the victims of the rebellion which those intrusive settlers launched against the Union of Burma in the 1950s.These innocent Arakanese [Buddhist] people faced killing, kidnapping, arson, plunder and rape for a decade after the independence. We should recall what the great archeologist Emile Forchhammer, seeing the persistent flights of the immigrants from the adjacent areas of the British India, predicted:” This land of strange prophesies, Arakan, the Palestine of the Farther East.” [Forchhammer: 1892: 1]

[...]

The other sources we can rely for the study of early Arakanese history are the Buddhist pagodas, the Buddha images, and the variety of artifacts thus far unearthed. Unfortunately no archaeological evidence to prove the presence of the Muslim community in Arakan prior to the beginning of the fifteenth century has been found yet.

However, I do not mean there was no Muslim community in Arakan before the state was absorbed into British India. Some Bengali retinues of King Saw Mun (r.1430-1433) who regained the throne with the military aid from Sultanate of Bengal were allowed to settled down in the suburban area of Mrauk-U, the new royal capital. They were the earliest Muslim settlers who do not seem to count many. There had been a minor Muslim presence mostly made up of Muslim mercenaries, itinerant merchants from Persia and Golkonda and some Bengali captives of the Arakanese and Portuguese pirates sold into slavery. The descendants of those people can be found in the vicinity of Royal capital Mrauk-U and Kyauktaw Township. [R.B. Smart: 1957: 87] Professing the Islamic faith, they have lived in Arakan since the early seventeenth century, where their way of life pertains to their lands of origin. Speaking Arkanese dialect, they never claim themselves being Rohingyas. They want to be called themselves Arakanese Muslims.

It is obvious that the term “Rohingya” was created in 1950s by the educated Chittagonian descendants from Mayu Frontier area (present day Buthidaung and Maungdaw Districts) and that it cannot be found in any historical source materials in any language till then. The creators of that term might be of the second or third generations of the Bengali immigrants from the Chittagong District in modern Bangladesh. R.B. Smart wrote:

Since 1879, immigration has taken place on a much larger scale and the descendants of the slaves are resident, for the most part in the Kyauktaw and Myohaung [Mrauk-U] townships. Maungdaw township has been overrun by Chittagonian immigrants. Buthidaung is not far behind and new arrivals will be found in almost every part of the district [R.B. Smart: 1957: 87].

And to continue on this other page at Rakhapura.com:

Bangladesh shares about 300 Km border with Myanmar. Since 1947, the successive Pakistani and Bangladeshi governments have been sponsoring the Bengali Muslims to infiltrate into Rakhaing state of Myanmar to alter the demographic profile if favour of the Muslims. So called Rohingya Muslims are nothing but illegal infiltrators from Bangladesh, they have no ancestral and historical root in Myanmar.

The infiltration is part of the Islamic expansionism. In the Muslim viewpoint, the world is divided into two regions- those areas controlled by Islam, called Dar al-Islam (meaning the House of Islam) and those called Dar al-Harb (the House of War). Islam commands Muslims to infiltrate into the non-Muslim countries, outbreed and fight non-Muslims until they exterminate all non-Muslims, leaving Islam as the one and only religion of the land (Sura 8:39). Muhammad is quoted in the Hadith as saying, I have been ordered to fight with the people until they say, none has the right to be worshiped but Allah. (Hadith 4:196).

The Rohingya Muslims are twisting the history. With the help of Bangladeshi intelligence and middle eastern finance, they formed an armed group called ARNO (Arakan Rohingya National Organisation) to "liberate" Rakhaing state from Myanmar and establish an Islamic state.

This group is armed, trained and harboured by the Bangladesh army and intelligence. The Rohingya Muslims are a classic example of trans-national terrorism. The international Jihadis fight alongside Rohingyas against Myanmar military, the Rohingya fighters in turn help their co-religionists in Kashmir, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Kosovo etc.

The Rohingya Muslims are involved in human rights violations against the indigenous Rakhaing population of Myanmar. They abduct and rape Rakhine girls, murder men and disposses the Rakhaings of their land.

I'm not a supporter of the Burmese dictatorship, but my suspicions are raised when I hear of yet another group of "oppressed" Muslim "freedom-fighters" who are "bravely struggling" to gain "independence" for their ancestral "homeland."

Posted on 06/22/2009 12:55 AM by Artemis Gordon Glidden
Monday, 22 June 2009
The BBC supports Islam and attacks Christianity, claims Radio 2 stalwart Don Maclean

From The Daily Mail
One of Radio 2's most popular religious presenters has launched a stinging attack on the BBC suggesting the broadcaster is biased against Christianity.
Don Maclean, 66, who hosted Good Morning Sunday for 16 years, said the broadcaster was 'keen' on programmes that attack the Christian church.
He said programming chiefs were keen to take a 'negative angle at every opportunity' in a way they do not with other faiths like Islam.
Mr Maclean said programmes about Anglicanism on the BBC always discuss gay clergy and for Catholicism they always mention paedophiles.
The presenter, who was replaced on the Radio 2 show in 2006 by Aled Jones, claimed the broadcaster was trying to 'secularise the country'.
He admitted that he was dismayed that the BBC recently appointed Aaqil Ahmed, a Muslim, as its new head of religious programming.
His comments come amid claims that the broadcaster is facing a confrontation with the Church of England over its recent appointment of Ahmed.
Concerns over the TV executive, who was poached from Channel 4, are set to be raised in a church document to be published today, according to reports. It is suggested that the document will call his appointment to the BBC 'worrying' and accuses the corporation of treating religion like a 'freak show'.
Mr Maclean said: 'They're keen on Islam, they're keen on programmes that attack the Christian church. I know there are things that need to be brought forward, but you don't see any programmes on Anglicanism that don't talk about homosexual clergy and you don't see anything on Roman Catholicism that don't talk about paedophiles.  They seem to take the negative angle every time.  They don't do that if they're doing programmes on Islam.  Programmes on Islam are always supportive.  I think we need to talk sensibly to people who practise the Islamic religion.'
The presenter claimed 'the last thing we want is war on the streets' adding that 'we need all the moderate Muslims to stand up and be counted. They're all in private telling you how dreadful they think Islamic terrorism is, but they're not forming together in a group and standing up against it.  
'But it's as big a threat as Nazism was in the 1930s when Germans stood back and didn't stand up against that, and if they had maybe the Second World War wouldn't have started.' 'I think there's a secularist movement in this country to get rid of Christianity.  Something must be done.' 
Maclean claimed the man that was replaced as religious broadcasting chief at the BBC, Michael Wakelin, was a Methodist and a 'very devout Christian'.  The actor and comedian said that Wakelin had been the 'man for the job', but added: 'Presumably he was too ardent in his Christianity and they wanted rid of him.'
The presenter said when he had presented Good Morning Sunday he argued with bosses who claimed the show was a 'multi-faith' programme.  'I said 'No, it's a Christian programme because the presenter is a practising Christian and this is a Christian country, so it's a Christian programme.' '
At the time he left Maclean received around 4000 letters from listeners expressing disappointment at his departure. He said:  'I didn't leave; I got the sack.  But that was because, if you're over 60 and you haven't died, the BBC get upset.' 
He is not alone in saying this.
As an aside I can remember rushing into the front room to sit with my parents (much to their, pleasant, surprise) to watch one of the Saturday evening variety programmes they liked and which were common on both channels in the 70s. An Hour with Val Doonigan or suchlike. I had heard that Don Maclean was a special guest. I didn't realise he was in the country, and sat down wondering would he sing American Pie, or Vincent, or maybe a new song. Then this comedian came on. Wrong Don Maclean of course.

Posted on 06/22/2009 3:28 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 22 June 2009
The Struggle Is Islamic

Neil MacFarquhar writes in New Duranty:

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, ended his prayer sermon in tears on Friday, invoking the name of a disappeared Shiite prophet to suggest that his government was besieged by forces of evil out to destroy a legitimate Islamic government.

The opposition leader, Mir Hussein Moussavi, in criticizing the government, demanded the kind of justice promised by the Koran and exhorted his followers to take to their rooftops at night to cry out, “Allahu akbar,” or “God is great.”

In the battle to control Iran’s streets, both the government and the opposition are deploying religious symbols and parables to portray themselves as pursing the ideal of a just Islamic state.

That struggle could prove the main fulcrum in the battle for the hearts and minds of most ordinary Iranians, because the Islamic Revolution, since its inception, has painted itself as battling evil. If the government fails the test of being just, not least by using excessive violence against its citizens, it risks letting the opposition wrap itself in the mantle of Islamic virtue.

“If either the reformists or the conservatives can make reference to Islamic values in a way that the majority of citizens understand, they will win,” said Mohsen Kadivar, a senior Iranian religious scholar teaching Islamic studies at Duke University.

Perhaps most important, the outcome may determine the support the government enjoys among the ideological zealots who form the backbone of the security forces. Some Iran experts see the level of violence in the week ahead as crucial in the tug of war over Islam.

“What is really smart about Moussavi and his group is that they say they are part of the Islamic Revolution and they want to say ‘God is great’ and overthrow tyranny,” said Said A. Arjomand, a professor of sociology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. “It is a struggle over the appropriation of the old symbols. If the public says we want Hussein and ‘God is great’ and then the militias are told to go kill them, that will be a little hard.”

The dawn of the Shiite faith can be traced back to the death of Hussein, the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson; his killing at the hands of a far larger force in 680 has long infused the faith with a sense of being the underdog. Hence, both sides in Iran portray themselves as ready to be martyrs to their cause — Ayatollah Khamenei suggested it in his sermon, and Mr. Moussavi was quoted as saying that he was also ready to give his life.

The argument on both sides has stayed narrowly within the bounds of Islam, with the opposition even deftly using green, the color of Islam and the family of the prophet, as a subtle symbol that its protests are rooted in the faith. Both sides say they are the true heirs of the revered revolutionary patriarch, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in trying to carry out Islamic principles.

In his criticism on Sunday, Mr. Moussavi avoided any direct assault against the supreme leader, instead saying the government cheated on the results of the June 12 presidential election.

“Every Muslim understands that anyone who would lie in this way is not just,” said Mr. Kadivar, the Duke professor, who was a senior adviser to the previous reformist president, Mohammad Khatami. “The basic requirement for being the supreme leader is to be just. Justice is a key point in Islamic values.”

The argument by Ayatollah Khamenei, laid out in his Friday sermon, is that he is the spiritual guide and therefore challenging him is challenging Islam. In the short term he probably has the more potent argument, analysts said, but sustained violence to subdue demonstrations will work against him.

“Both sides want to paint the other as responsible for the violence,” said Mr. Arjomand, adding that the opposition could not label Ayatollah Khamenei a dictator. “They don’t want to push it too far; they know they will lose because ultimately Khamenei has the better claim to being Khomeini’s heir.”...

Posted on 06/22/2009 12:47 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 22 June 2009
Very flat, Norfolk

At least it was last time I looked, but they may have got the hump since then.

Back soon.

Posted on 06/22/2009 3:48 AM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 22 June 2009
Netanyahu: Iran has been ‘unmasked’ - NBC meet the Press Interview

Israeli PM Bibi Netanyahu was interviewed by David Gregory of NBC’s “Meet the Press”. He was questioned about his reaction to unfolding events in Iran, relations with the Obama Administration and his Bar-Ilan speech regrading the Palestinian conundrum. You may watch a video of the interview here.

The following are excerpts from the transcript of the NBC “Meet the Press” David Gregory Interview with PM Netanyhau.

On the election protests in Iran and Obama’s reaction;

MR. GREGORY: You know there’s been quite a debate here in the United States and really around the world about what President Obama should do and should say at a moment like this. He has said over the weekend that these are unjust actions, that the whole world is watching, that Iran should not violently crack down on its people. Has he said and done enough, do you think?

MR. NETANYAHU: I’m not going to second-guess the president of the United States. I know President Obama wants the people of Iran to be free. He said as much in his seminal speech in Cairo before the Muslim world. I’ve spoken to him a number of times on this subject, there’s no question we’d all like to see a different, a different Iran with different policies. Remember, this is a regime that not only represses its own people–Sakharov said, Andrei Sakharov, the great Russian scientist and humanist, said that a regime that oppresses its own people sooner or later will oppress its neighbors. And certainly Iran has been doing that. It’s been calling for the, the denial of the Holocaust. It’s threatening to wipe Israel off the map. It’s pursuing nuclear weapons. To that effect it’s sponsoring terror against us, but throughout the world. So I think what everybody would like to see is a change in policy, and the change of policy is both outside and inside.

On Iran’s Nuclear Project

MR. GREGORY: Let me ask you about the nature of the Iranian threat. Mohamed ElBaradei, who, as you know, runs the International Atomic Energy Agency, said in an interview with the BBC on Wednesday the following: “The ultimate aim of Iran,” he said, “as I understand it, is they want to be recognized as a major power in the Middle East. [Increasing their nuclear capability] is to them the road to get that recognition, to get that power and prestige. It is also an insurance policy against what they have heard in the past about regime change.” My question, Prime Minister, what does all that’s happening on the streets of Iran do, in your estimation, to the nature of the threat from Iran? Is this a game changer in some way?

MR. NETANYAHU: First of all, I, I don’t subscribe to the view that Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is a status symbol. It’s not. These are people who are sending thousands and thousands of missiles to their terrorist proxies Hezbollah and Hamas with the specific instruction to bomb civilians in Israel. They’re supporting terrorists in the world. This is not a status symbol. To have such a regime acquire nuclear weapons is to risk the fact that they might give it to terrorists or give terrorists a nuclear umbrella. That is a departure in the security of the Middle East and the world, certainly in the security of my country, and so I wouldn’t treat the subject so lightly. Would a regime change be a game changer? A policy change would be a game changer.

MR. GREGORY: Right. But there is a precedent here. Israel, in 1981, took out a nuclear reactor in Iraq. Israel, in 2007, took out a nuclear reactor in Syria. There is precedent and a proclivity for Israel to take unilateral action if it deems it necessary for its security. That could be the case with regard to Iran, no?

MR. NETANYAHU: Well, I don’t think I have to add to anything that I’ve said. We’re–the Jewish people have been one of the oldest nations in the world. We’ve been around for 3500 years. We are threatened as no other people has been threatened. We’ve suffered pogroms, exiles, massacres and the greatest massacre of them all, the Holocaust. So obviously, Israel always reserves the right to defend itself.

MR. GREGORY: You have said–you said it to Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic magazine, talking about Iran, that it was a messianic and apocalyptic cult controlling atomic bombs. The Obama administration argues that for the past eight years under President Bush there has been a hard line, calling it part of the axis of evil, and where has that hard line gotten America? Only emboldening Iran over that period of time. Is your hard line–is the U.S. hard line over the past eight years the wrong strategy to get Iran to change its behavior?

MR. NETANYAHU: I think that the, the president spoke to me quite explicitly about the great threat that Iran’s development of nuclear weapons capability poses to the United States. I saw, in fact, a continuity, in that sense, of an assessment of the threat. But of course, as you say, the clock is ticking. The Iranian nuclear program is advancing. And so the, the problem that now faces the entire world is to, is to ask themselves a simple question: Can we allow this brutal regime that sees no inhibitions in how it treats its own citizens and its purported enemies abroad, can we allow such a regime to acquire nuclear weapons? And the answer that we hear from far and wide is no.

On his Bar-Ilan Speech and the Palestinians

MR. GREGORY: Prime Minister, just about 20 seconds here before you go. There is concern within the Obama administration that as a political matter it may be difficult for you to survive and pursue peace with the Palestinians. Do you share that concern?

MR. NETANYAHU: Absolutely not. I, I gave a speech in which I gave out the winning formula for peace, which is a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes Israel as the state of the Jewish people. And these two elements of recognition of Israel as a state of the Jewish people and a demilitarized Palestinian state I think is something that all people who want peace should unite around. And I have to tell you, since giving that speech I’ve been delighted and heartened by the fantastic support across the Israeli political spectrum, really cutting across the political parties and political views. And I think that’s very important, because people understand it’s inherently fear. What I’m suggesting is that if we’re asked to recognize the Palestinian state as the nation-state of the Palestinian people, then the Palestinians should recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, who’ve been deprived of a land of their own and of security for so long.

Posted on 06/22/2009 2:26 PM by Jerry Gordon

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