These are all the Blogs posted on Sunday, 22, 2007.
Sunday, 22 July 2007
Female genital mutilation arrest
A WOMAN has been arrested in east London on suspicion of arranging female genital mutilation (FGM).
The Met Police has announced a £20,000 reward for anybody who provides information that leads to the UK's first ever prosecution for FGM.
The 36-year-old woman was arrested in Hackney and has been bailed to return to a north London police station on September 6.
I hope this is genuine and not an attempt merely to claim a substantial reward. We shall see what comes of it.
The Metropolitan Police website has this to say. Half of the reward is coming from the Waris Dirie Foundation.
Posted on 07/22/2007 4:38 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 22 July 2007
Dubai skyscraper: the bottom line
The story begins thusly:
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Developers of a 1,680-foot skyscraper still under construction in oil-rich Dubai claimed Saturday that it has become the world's tallest building, surpassing Taiwan's Taipei 101 which has dominated the global skyline at 1,667 feet since 2004.
The Burj Dubai is expected to be finished by the end of 2008 and its planned final height has been kept secret. The state-owned development company Emaar Properties, one of the main builders in rapidly developing Dubai, said only that the tower would stop somewhere above 2,275 feet.
Scrolling to the very end of the story, we find these pertinent facts:
The architects and engineers are American and the main building contractor is South Korean.
Most of the 4,000 laborers are Indian. They toil around the clock in Dubai's sizzling summer with no set minimum wage. Human rights groups regularly protest against labor abuse in Dubai, but local media rarely report such complaints.
Money talks, they say—and oil money talks particularly long and loud these days. What it says is, "Here is new business model for world. Get used to it."
Posted on 07/22/2007 6:22 AM by Robert Bove
Sunday, 22 July 2007
Not the same
Classic quote from Ben MacIntyre:
How could one begin to understand the blowing up of a Tube train without some knowledge of the difference between Christianity and Islam?
Those behind the latest production of Shaw's Saint Joan clearly don't understand the difference. Lloyd Evans in The Spectator:
Both the programme notes, and the music in places, hint that Joan should be understood as a female suicide bomber. What an artless and porridge-brained equation that is. Suicide bombers sneakily murder innocents off their guard. Joan bravely fought other combatants in open battle.
The word "martyr", like the words "peace" and "God" are used in both Christianity and Islam. However, the meanings are very different, and it is astonishing how few people know this. In our leaders, this amounts to culpable negligence.
Some know, but they twist the facts. And nobody does this better than Karen Armstrong, who adds insult to injury with her contribution to a seemingly grotesque distortion of Bach's St Matthew Passion. Michael Tanner, also in The Spectator:
Bach’s St Matthew Passion doesn’t seem an obvious ‘Glyndebourne opera’, except from the point of view of the non-Londoner having to use public transport to get there, who might well regard the whole outing as a penitential pilgrimage. At the third performance the atmosphere did seem unusually hushed. What we were offered was an almost entirely silent play within which a performance of Bach’s masterpiece took place. The idea, a notably bad one of the producer Katie Mitchell’s, is that in a school somewhere in Europe there has been a shooting, with many children, whose photographs we are shown, killed. Four travelling players come and console the mourners, enlisting the onlookers for the small parts in the Passion, and getting them all to sing the choruses and chorales. This much we are told in the programme, as well as that the story of Christ’s death is experienced through the spectators’ (on stage) own grief. A long and painfully banal article by Karen Armstrong, also in the programme, naturally refers to 9/11, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay. In case we hadn’t noticed, there is still plenty of suffering around to be comprehended and understood.
Banal is too kind.
Posted on 07/22/2007 6:54 AM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 22 July 2007
WaPo: The American ambassador in Baghdad, Ryan C. Crocker, has asked the Bush administration to take the unusual step of granting immigrant visas to all Iraqis employed by the U.S. government in Iraq because of growing concern that they will quit and flee the country if they cannot be assured eventual safe passage to the United States.
Crocker's request comes as the administration is struggling to respond to the flood of Iraqis who have sought refuge in neighboring countries since sectarian fighting escalated early last year. The United States has admitted 133 Iraqi refugees since October, despite predicting that it would process 7,000 by the end of September...
The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees says that about 2 million Iraqis have been displaced inside the country so far, and that an estimated 2.2 million others have fled to Syria, Jordan and other neighbors, where they threaten to overwhelm schools and housing, destabilize host governments and provide a recruiting ground for radical unrest. Each month, an additional 60,000 Iraqis flee their homes, the U.N. agency said.
Overall estimates of the number of Iraqis who may be targeted as collaborators because of their work for U.S., coalition or foreign reconstruction groups are as high as 110,000. The U.N. refugee agency has estimated that 20,000 Iraqi refugees need permanent resettlement...
Posted on 07/22/2007 7:45 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 22 July 2007
Sunni Shi'a Clash in Bahrain
As Hugh Fitzgerald has been saying for years, the ruling Sunnis are oppressing the Shi'a in Bahrain. From The Telegraph with thanks to Andrew Bostom:
...Known in the West as a booming business centre, Bahrain is increasingly being promoted as an upmarket tourist destination, with luxury villas built on land reclaimed from the warm blue sea. Yet the country's authorities, bolstered by an almost entirely Sunni muslim police force and army, are being forced to step up security in preparation for a summer of unrest by the country's Shia majority.
As riot police clashed with Malkiya's protesters, Nabeel Rajab, a human rights activist, said: "They want you to see Formula One and the Financial Harbour. But that's not the real Bahrain. What you see here? This is the real Bahrain."
Bahrain, an island linked to Saudi Arabia by a causeway, is the strategically sensitive home to the American Fifth Fleet. More than half its 750,000 population are Shia - one of only three such countries in the region, along with Iran and Iraq. But its ruling elite are Sunni, and for decades they have suspected that Iran, from just across the Gulf, is fomenting dissent among Bahrain's Shia...
For the ruling family, land has become the new oil. Land reclaimed from the shallow sea can be sold to the highest bidder to build another business complex or tourist resort, and 97 per cent of the country's coastline is now in private hands.
So the fishermen of Malkiya were infuriated when a cousin of the king, a powerful member of the royal family, seized coastline to which the villagers had always had access, potentially threatening their livelihood. When villagers protested - peacefully, they insist - they were met by riot police deploying tear gas, truncheons and rubber bullets.
Even worse, say the villagers, many of the police are foreign Sunni, some of the thousands being lured in to shore up the security forces and help offset the population imbalance.
One young Shia protester, surrounded by his mostly unemployed friends said: "They bring people from the outside and give them jobs. Why do they have priority over us? It's not right."
For years, the authorities have recruited Sunni from Yemen, Jordan, Syria and Pakistan to police Bahrain. Opposition activists point to the exclusion of Shia from the defence force and the police as evidence of systematic discrimination...
Ghanim al Buainanin, the first vice-speaker of Bahrain's parliament and leader of a Sunni Islamist bloc, denied any discrimination and said there were other reasons for the unrest. He pointed the finger at Iran, whose coast lies less than 100 miles away and whose intelligence services have long been suspected of exploiting Shia grievances to foment trouble for the West....
Posted on 07/22/2007 7:57 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 22 July 2007
Citizens Groups Work Locally To Control Illegal Immigration
From The Washington Times:
Recent lobbying by grass-roots organizations to force tougher enforcement of immigration laws in Prince William and Loudoun counties is inspiring similar groups to form in other Virginia localities and even across the state line in Maryland.
Residents concerned about the negative effects of illegal aliens recently formed Help Save Virginia Beach, the fourth chapter of the umbrella group Help Save Virginia...
"The group played a very large role in the illegal immigration crackdown that the board is pursuing," said Mr. Stewart, at-large Republican. "They played a very helpful role in providing some of the research for the measures that the board took and they were also effective at generating public interest and turnout."
The resolution requires police officers to ask about immigration status in all arrests if there is probable cause to believe that a suspect has violated federal immigration law. The resolution also requires county staff to verify a person's legal status before providing certain public services...
Montgomery County's population increased from 873,341 in 2000 to 932,131 in 2006, U.S. Census Bureau figures show. The Hispanic population increased from about 11.5 percent to 13.6 percent in the same period.
Prince William County's population increased from 281,813 in 2000 to 357,503 in 2006, according to census figures. The Hispanic population nearly doubled during that period, from about 9.7 percent to 18 percent.
In Loudoun County, the population increased from 169,599 in 2000 to 268,817 in 2006. The Hispanic population increased from about 5.9 percent in 2000 to 9.3 percent in 2006, according to census data.
Help Save Herndon successfully lobbied for town police to become the first locality in the region to receive immigration-enforcement training under an agreement with the Department of Homeland Security. Officers completed training last month.
Local action is motivated in part by frustration with federal inaction on immigration reform and by the desire to make a difference in the local community, Mr. Stokes said.
"If you're taking a bath and the tub starts to overflow, what are you going to do first: Turn off the water or grab a mop?" he asked. "Local communities — we're the mop. If local communities cannot affect change at the border, which we cannot, most definitely we can start dealing with the consequences."
Posted on 07/22/2007 8:22 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 22 July 2007
When Squirrels Come, They Come Not Single Spies, But In Battalions
From the Sciurine Desk at a National News Network:
"You can tell that Iran is feeling a little beleaguered these days when there are reports that Tehran may be under attack from rodents!
That is what the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported this week, that police had, ahem, "arrested" 14 squirrels on charges of espionage.
The rodents were found near the Iranian border, allegedly equipped with eavesdropping devices, according to IRNA.
When asked to confirm the story, Esmaeel Ahmadi Moghadam, the national police chief, said, "I have heard about it, but I do not have precise information." He declined to give any more details.
IRNA said that the squirrels were discovered by intelligence services – but were captured by police officers several weeks ago.
'Are you serious?'
The reaction to the report on Tehran’s streets was varied – from disbelief to assigning guilt for the alleged infraction.
"No, I had not heard about this, but it does not surprise me, foreign countries are always meddling in Iran," said Hassan Mohmmadi, a fast-food vendor.
Mohammadi asked me if I knew where the squirrels were from, and I told him that I didn’t know. Then he came to his own conclusions. "I bet they were British squirrels, they are the most cunning," he replied.
Meantime, an independent journalist, Sepher Sopli, was not surprised by the idea that another country would spy on Iran, so much as he was dumbfounded by their methods.
"I read this story in the papers and though it was very bizarre; what struck me as odd was that in this age of modern technology, people were relying on squirrels to do their spying," Sopli said.
But, the report was still strange enough to surprise. "That's very funny, but you’re not serious are you?" said Soraya Jafari, a student in Tehran."
Posted on 07/22/2007 8:43 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 22 July 2007
Delusions of honesty
Excellent article by Theodore Dalrymple on Tony Blair. This should be read in full. Here he is on Blair's shameless courting of the Muslim vote:
Blair found the Muslim threat far easier to tackle abroad than at home, perhaps because it required less courage. Intentionally or not, he pandered to domestic Muslim sentiment. During the general election, in which the leader and deputy leader of the opposition were Jewish, he allowed Labour to portray them as pigs on election campaign posters. The Jewish vote in Britain is small, and scattered throughout the country; the Muslim vote is large, and concentrated in constituencies upon which the whole election might turn. It is not that Blair is anti-Semitic: no one would accuse him of that. It is simply that, if mildly anti-Semitic connotations served his purposes, he would use them, doubtless persuaded that it was for the higher good of mankind.
Further, Blair’s wife, Cherie, is a lawyer who now practices little, but who by convenient coincidence—immediately before a general election, and at a time of Muslim disaffection with Labour over the Iraq War—appeared before the highest court in the land, defending a 15-year-old girl who claimed the right to wear full Muslim dress in school. It turned out that an extreme British Islamic group backed the case legally and financially.
Blair also presided over the extension of mail voting in Muslim areas, despite having been warned about the likely consequence: that frequently, the male heads of households would vote for all registered voters under their roofs. Indeed, it is difficult to resist the conclusion that Blair supported voting by mail because of this consequence, which would tip the vote toward the many Labour candidates who were Muslim men themselves. Pro-Labour fraud became so widespread that the judge leading a judicial inquiry into an election in Birmingham concluded that it would have disgraced a banana republic. The prime minister also proved exceptionally feeble during the Danish cartoon crisis, and repeatedly said things about Islam—that it is a religion of peace, for one—that he must have known to be untrue.
Blair, then, is no hero. Many in Britain believe that he has been the worst prime minister in recent British history, morally and possibly financially corrupt, shallow and egotistical, a man who combined the qualities of Elmer Gantry with those of Juan Domingo Perón. America should think twice about taking him to its heart now that he has stepped down.
Posted on 07/22/2007 8:47 AM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 22 July 2007
First dumb Britain, now dumb America
I have posted frequently (for example here, here, here, here and here) about the dumbing down of Britain's education system. Now it seems that it's happening in America too. Marc Epstein in City Journal:
Before Mayor Bloomberg starts shelling out money to high school juniors for passing their New York State Regents exams, he would do well to bring as much scrutiny to the content of these tests as he does to the quantity of trans fats in restaurant food. People who took their Regents exams 30 years ago assume that the current version of the tests is essentially the same. They would be stunned to learn how dumbed-down the tests have become. You might say that the American history Regents gives new meaning to the term “E-Z Pass.”
the 15 document-related questions are ludicrously easy. The documents include some written passages, but are mostly political cartoons and photographs. Several concern the women’s suffrage movement, such as a photograph of a suffragists’ parade showing women carrying various signs containing the word “suffrage.” The exam question asks, “What was a goal of the women shown in these photographs?” Another photo shows a White House picketer with a banner reading, “Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?” The exam asks the student to state “one method being used by women to achieve their goal.”
The extraordinary adjustment built into the chart makes it possible to get only 20 of the 50 multiple-choice questions right and pass the Regents. It’s also possible to complete only one of the two essays and pass. The examiners have created a fail-proof test that measures nothing beyond basic reading and writing competence.
So before we allow Bloomberg and Richard Mills, the state’s commissioner of education, to pop the champagne corks over improved test results and higher standards, let’s examine the content of the product. Politicians and the public are forever demanding truth in packaging when it comes to food and other consumer products; why should they be deceived about the content of their children’s educations?
Before long, life will imitate art.
Craig Brown has written a sequel to Sellar and Yeatman's classic, which - pace, Hugh - cannot be mentioned often enough. Brown's sequel is called "1966 And All That". It is in the spirit of the original, although not as good. Like the original, it contains those spoof test papers - "Why are you so numb and vague about Arbella Stuart?", "What price glory?", "Who was in whose what, and how many miles awhat?". Many of these are updated for the new style dumbed down GCSE paper, in which candidates are spared the pain of facts or analysis and asked to empathise:
Imagine you are Adolph Hitler. It is the morning of 30 April 1945. How are you feeling? Unburden yourself in no more than 50 words. Ask yourself: where did it all go wrong? On balance, might you have better career prospects if you had stuck to being a painter?
Watch this space.
Posted on 07/22/2007 8:55 AM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 22 July 2007
Islam or Not Islam?
The Washington Post carries an interesting article by a former jihadist, Mansour al-Nogaidan, who describes finding his own private Islam in the midst of persecution and death threats. The religion he finds is as old as the human race - God is Light - it is not Islamic per se.
...In 1999, when I was working as an imam at a Riyadh mosque, I happened upon two books that had a profound influence on me. One, written by a Palestinian scholar, was about the struggle between those who deal pragmatically with the Koran and those who take it and the hadith literally. The other was a book by a Moroccan philosopher about the formation of the Arab Muslim way of thinking.
The books inspired me to write an article for a Saudi newspaper arguing that Muslims have the right to question and criticize our religious leaders and not to take everything they tell us for granted. We owe it to ourselves, I wrote, to think pragmatically if our religion is to survive and thrive.
That article landed me in the center of a storm. Some men in my mosque refused to greet me. Others would no longer pray behind me. Under this pressure, I left the mosque.
I moved to the southern city of Abha, where I took a job as a writer and editor with a newly established newspaper. I went back to leading prayers at the paper's small mosque and to writing about my evolving philosophy. After I wrote articles stressing our right as Muslims to question our Saudi clerics and their interpretations and to come up with our own, officials from the kingdom's powerful religious establishment complained, and I was banned from writing.
The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, gave new life to what I had been saying. I went back to criticizing the rote manner in which we Muslims are fed our religion. I criticized al-Qaeda's school of thought, which considers everyone who isn't a Salafi Muslim the enemy. I pointed to examples from Islamic history that stressed the need to get along with other religions. I tried to give a new interpretation to the verses that call for enmity between Muslims and Christians and Jews. I wrote that they do not apply to us today and that Islam calls for friendship among all faiths.
I lost a lot of friends after that. My old companions from the jihad felt obliged to declare themselves either with me or against me. Some preferred to cut their links to me silently, but others fought me publicly, issuing statements filled with curses and lies. Once again, the paper came under great pressure to ban my writing. And I became a favorite target on the Internet, where my writings were lambasted and labeled blasphemous.
Eventually I was fired. But by then, I had started to develop a different relationship with God. I felt that He was moving me toward another kind of belief, where all that matters is that we pray to God from the heart. I continued to pray, but I started to avoid the verses that contain violence or enmity and only used the ones that speak of God's mercy and grace and greatness. I remembered an incident in the Koran when the prophet told a Bedouin who did not know how to pray to let go of the verses and get closer to God by repeating, "God is good, God is great." Don't sweat the details, the prophet said.
I felt at peace, and no longer doubted His existence.
In December 2002, in a Web site interview, I criticized al-Qaeda and declared that some of the Friday sermons were loathsome because of their attacks against non-Muslims. Within days, a fatwa was posted online, calling me an infidel and saying that I should be killed. Once again, I felt despair at the ways of the Muslim world. Two years later, I told al-Arabiya television that I thought God loves all faithful people of different religions. That earned me a fatwa from the mufti of Saudi Arabia declaring my infidelity.
But one evening not long after that, I heard a radio broadcast of the verse of light. Even though I had memorized the Koran at 15, I felt as though I was hearing this verse for the first time. God is light, it says, the universe is illuminated by His light. I felt the verse was speaking directly to me, sending me a message. This God of light, I thought, how could He be against any human? The God of light would not be happy to see people suffer, even if they had sinned and made mistakes along the way.
I had found my Islam.
Posted on 07/22/2007 9:26 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 22 July 2007
Illegal immigrants from Malta checked for terrorism links
Following revelations last week in this newspaper that the Glasgow airport bomber had frequent communications with Malta, foreign security sources said that anti-terrorist security forces have frequently investigated some asylum seekers who came to Malta by boat and subsequently found their way to the continent.
Kafeel Ahmed, who suffered 90 per cent burns after driving a blazing Jeep Cherokee into Glasgow airport on 30 June, also linked to the two unexploded car bombs in central London the previous day, was in frequent contact with Malta in the months leading up to the series of foiled terrorist attacks according to Indian police.
Indian investigators probing the activities of two Indian brothers, Kafeel and Sabeel Ahmed, allegedly at the centre of the recent terrorism plots, say they have found a SIM card used by Kafeel Ahmed when he was last in India between December 2005 and May 2007.
Using mobile phone forensic techniques, Indian police say they have analysed a SIM card and mobile phone line used by Kafeel Ahmed that was registered in his father's name.
The analyses, according to Bangalore police investigators, have revealed what they describe as "frequent communications" with Malta, the UK, Finland, Saudi Arabia and Oman.
Foreign security sources said that the links, which lead back to Malta, are being actively studied for possible links to al Qaeda and other terrorist networks.
Security-minded people here in Malta also claim that some who come destitute and penniless seem to have sent ahead money through the banks, as they are known to have purchased property, but this could just mean the existence of family or other networks rather than necessarily the existence of a network with links to terror.
The Lockerbie bombers probably have passed through Malta on their way to the Pan Am flight to the US in 1988. Maltese friends of my family, of my generation and older have never been happy at the strengthening of Maltese ties with nearby Libya, particularly as this happened at the same time that ties with the UK were loosened. While Muslims do not seem to lament the loss of Malta with quite the desire for reclamation that they do Al Andalus it should not be forgotten that from the 8th to the 11th century Malta was under Islamic domination, or the role the Island played in the struggle on the 16th century against the Turks.
Posted on 07/22/2007 10:02 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 22 July 2007
Just A Country Muslim, Y'all
Well shut my mouth if this ain't the most blatant piece of Muslim propaganda I've read today. Mohja Kahf writes from Fayetteville, Arkansas in the Washington Post.
...Christianity has inspired Americans to the politics of abolition and civil rights, as well as to heinous acts. Christian values have motivated the Ku Klux Klan to burn houses, and Jimmy Carter to build them. You can't say that when Christianity informs politics, only bad things happen.
This may strike you as odd coming from a Muslim. But, my dears, it's true: People of faith do not signify the apocalypse for democracy. And (here comes the Muslim agenda) that goes for believing Muslims as much as for other religious folk. Muslims, in a very specific way, are not strangers in your midst. We are kin. Not just kin in the lovely way that all humans are. We carry pieces of your family story.
I got a phone call one evening from a friend who is a lovable gossip in my home town. "Have you read today's paper?" she wanted to know. A letter-writing curmudgeon had mouthed off about how U.S. Muslims ought to be expelled, as worthless, dangerous and un-American. "What are we going to do?" she said. We'd worked together on non-pork lunch options for our kids in school -- we share that dietary law, as she's Jewish.
Anyhow. I invited the letter-writer to coffee. Walter declined, but we started writing to each other, his letters bearing a Purple Heart address label; he had been wounded in World War II. Walter was the crotchety, racist American great-uncle I never had. I sent him family photos, as you do to even an ornery relative...
A year later, I get a knock at my door. It's Walter. "La ilaha illa allah!" he says, before "hello." "You and I worship the same God. I know that now." He limps into my living room, and we finally sit down to coffee...
I grew up Islamist. That's right, not only conservative Muslim, but full-blown, caliphate-loving Islamist, among folk who take core Islamic values and put them to work in education and politics, much like evangelical Christians. One of the things about the United States that delighted my parents, and many Islamist immigrants, is that here, through patient daily jihad, they could actually teach their children Islam -- as opposed to motley customs that pass for Islam in the Old Countries.
Look, Islam never really "took" in the Arab world. The egalitarianism that the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) preached, for example, never much budged Arab tribalism. The Koran's sexual ethic, enjoining chaste behavior and personal responsibility toward God on men and women both, not tribal ownership of women's sexuality, never uprooted the sexual double standard or the pagan honor code. Honor killing, as a recent fatwa by al-Azhar University's mufti reminds believers, is a pagan rite violating Islamic principles. Here in the United States, religious Muslims can practice Islam without those entrenched codes.
They are also critical of casual sex and immodesty. Such conservative Muslim criticism of mainstream American culture isn't new in American discourse. "Unlike Muslims, we Americans believe in women's equality," someone will object. Really, that's an essential American trait? Tell that to citizens who struggle for gender justice. Muslims, pious ones even, will tell you that they believe in it, too, and are no more sexist than you. Your sexism just takes forms so familiar that they're invisible; holding doors open for women doesn't seem nearly as sexist as walking protectively ahead of them...
Pious Christian and Jewish values are not inherently in conflict with American civic life, as secular folk tend to forget. Devout immigrant Muslims don't belong? That ship has sailed. Myles Muhammad Standish and Harriet Halima Tubman are here. Not as strangers out of place, either. This is a letter to your beautiful heart: We are your blood.
Posted on 07/22/2007 9:54 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 22 July 2007
In this year went the King Henry over sea at the Lammas;
and the next day, as he lay asleep on ship, the day darkened over all lands, and the sun was all as it were a three night old moon, and the stars about him at midday. Men were very much astonished and terrified, and said that a great event should come hereafter. So it did; for that same year was the king dead, the next day after St. Andrew's mass-day, in Normandy. Then was there soon tribulation in the land; for every man that might, soon robbed another.
Within 18 months there was civil war for the throne between his nephew Stephen and his daughter Matilda or Maud.
After this Stephen and Matilda (or Maud) spent the reign escaping from each other over the snow in nightgowns while “God and His Angel’s slept”.
Posted on 07/22/2007 10:23 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 22 July 2007
A Human Achievement Without Equal
The building, in the views that I have seen, looks like something in a horror movie.
Apparently the local Arabs don't think so. They are very proud:
"Mohammed Ali Alabbar, chairman of Emaar, said it will be an architectural and engineering masterpiece of concrete, steel and glass. Dubai has 'resisted the usual and has inspired to build a global icon,' he said.
'It's a human achievement without equal.'"
If building a tall building is in truth "a human achievement without equal" -- forget all paintings, sculpture, poems, prose, forget everything in the silly world that you thought constituted "human achievement" and look on this vertical vertiginous skyey ozymandias-monument to nothing but money, money ultimately derived from an accident of geology (not Dubai's own accident, but the accidents of its neighbors and what they happen to lie on top of) then this is indeed a "human achievement."
And if we were to concede that -- of course no intelligent person would -- then we would have to ask who are the "humans" responsible for this "human" achievement. The architects are not from Dubai. The contractors are not from Dubai. The semi-slave workers are not from Dubai. There is nothing from Dubai, save for money, and where it happens to be built, about it.
Meanwhile, who in his right mind would, knowing what a target such a building will be to Muslim terrorists. For it is undoubtedly the perfect symbol of the "corrupt" and "decadent" world that too many Muslims have embraced, a symbol of the corruption of the Al-Saud, and the Al-Thani, and the Al-This and the Al-That and, of course, of the "Persians," those "Rafidite dogs" (the phrase that not only Al-Zarqawi was fond of) who have poured hundreds of billions into Dubai, practically turning it, in the eyes of many local Arabs (on what they determinedly call the "Arabian Gulf"), into a Persian colony.
And if the Americans come to their senses and leave Iraq, and the Sunni-Shi'a rift becomes a split, and then a war up and down the natural fault lines within Iraq, and then co-religionists on either side send money, send "volunteers," send weapons, and if the Islamic Republic of Iran persists in laying claim to Bahrain, and if the Shi'a in the Eastern Province (al-Hasa) of Saudi Arabia become even more restive, and have to be put down, and if thee are problems among Shi'a and Sunnis in Yemen, and Pakistan, and Lebanon, and nearby Kuwait, why then...well, don't buy an apartment just yet in Dubai, don't put too many eggs in any Dubai nest just yet. Wait ten years, then we'll see.
Posted on 07/22/2007 10:20 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 22 July 2007
Erdoğan On The Record
ME Quarterly has assembled some older quotes by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that might be useful to keep in mind while heading into the elections:
Early in his career while mayor of Istanbul (1994-98), Erdoğan was explicit in support of an Islamist agenda. As he considers a presidential run, a juxtaposition of statements made early in his career with his actions as premier suggest that while his style may have changed, his agenda has not.
Separation of Mosque and State
The Turkish Republic is founded on the notion of the separation of mosque and state.
- "We will turn all our schools into İmam Hatips [religious schools]"—Cumhuriyet, Sept. 9, 1994
- "Thank God Almighty, I am a servant of the Shari‘a."— Milliyet, Nov. 21, 1994
- "I am the imam of Istanbul."—Hürriyet, Jan. 8, 1995
- "The police operations against the turban are comical."—Sabah, May 5, 1995
- "I support the proposal to inaugurate the parliament by reciting the Qu'ran."—Milliyet, Jan. 8, 1996
Belittling of Atatürk
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk is the father of modern Turkey and the symbol of Turkish secularism.
- "One ought not to stand [in respect, stiff] like a straw on Atatürk's commemoration events."—Hürriyet, May 12, 1994
- "There was much ado about nothing on November 10 [the commemoration of Atatürk's death]—Hürriyet, Nov. 14, 1994
Disapproval of Western Culture
Turkish governments traditionally pride themselves on their embrace of and participation in European culture.
- "I am against the [Western] New Year's celebrations."—Sabah, Dec. 19, 1994
- "Alcohol should be banned."—Hürriyet, May 1, 1996
- "Swimsuit commercials are lustful exploitations."— Hürriyet, Mar. 6, 1996
Posted on 07/22/2007 10:47 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 22 July 2007
"One comment on those jihad "doctors".. the way they botched those terror attempts makes me wonder if they ever were very good doctors to begin with..."-- from a reader
Isn't there another, much more obvious thought that the case of the Jihad Doctors might prompt? How carefully, with what tender attention, might such "doctors" treat their non-Muslim patients? I'm not talking about potential serial killers, injecting something lethal into the veins of trusting young Vijay Kumar, aged 11, who is brought in by his parents, or Mrs. Goldstein who closed her fabric store after her husband died, or retired Wing Commander Archibald Coakley, M.B.E., whose grandson brought him in, because each represents a different example of the enemy, the Infidel enemy that still inhabits England and seems to think the land is not for turning.
No, there are other ways. Deliberate inattention, offering a wrong diagnosis, treating with ineffective drugs, overlooking the latest literature, forgetting ways to ease their pain, treating them roughly as they undergo certain procedures, making them anxious and enjoying their anxiety and that of their families.
Farfetched? Why? If you take to heart what others among you have obviously taken to heart, and if this is indeed the permanent enemy, and if you are told you must not only never take them as friends, but regard them as Unbelievers who are obstinate obstacles to the triumph of Islam, large boulders blocking the path you have all your life been told to take, fi sabih Allah, wouldn't the stranger reaction be for those of us on the outside to dismiss such fears? Would it really make sense to call those who harbor them, or who point out why they are not necessarily far-fetched, objectionable, and not investigate the real possibility not only of such behavior -- but of the potential liability of doctors' groups and hospitals if they do not investigate or worry sufficiently about such matters?
Posted on 07/22/2007 10:56 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 22 July 2007
"The trillion plus dollars we have spent on foreign aid since the 70s was money flushed down the toilet."-- from a reader
Almost entirely -- but not entirely. A few countries, a very few, are solidly in the Western, even American camp and while most such countries do not need any aid, there are what the investment advisers call special situations. Israel is an obvious case: a victim of a Lesser Jihad, and a country that has for decades essentially drawn the enemy fire, used up its resources, until now -- for now the Arabs and Muslims feel themselves powerful enough, now that they possess the ten trillion dollars from OPEC, and the millions of Muslims now permitted to settle in Western Europe, and with the West's technology that helps make the dissemination of the message of Islam easier. Other such states to whom such aid can be justified would include Ethiopia, with the Ethiopian army of help in East Africa (though HR 56 should be signed and the Addis Ababa regime strongly chidden), and Bulgaria, which by its history under the Ottomans is likely to understand the situation better. And the same goes for Serbia, which has been the recipient not of aid but of misunderstanding and undeserved animus.
But generally, you are right. Time to stop all the spreading of American money around. Our own country is a mess, and we need to rebuild it, to "reconstruct" it. And foreign aid, when received by members of what used to be called the "underdeveloped world" or the "Third World," is usually wasted, often is the disease for which it is supposed to be the cure. It encourages Bad Government by those who already govern badly. It provides the wherewithal for corrupt rulers, and corrupts others not yet corrupt. It discourages a reasonable internal market.
This has all been written about, by the late Peter Bauer, a development economist, and by William Easterly, who started life as an innocent participant in the foreign-aid racket, but was keen enough, and honest enough, to see through the holier-than-thou rhetoric to the racketeering beneath. Easterly has proved to be unanswerable; Amartya Sen tried, most unconvincingly, in a review, but did not succeed.
Posted on 07/22/2007 11:41 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 22 July 2007
Seventeen laws of motion?
In last week’s Sunday Times, John Carey reviewed Gino Segrè’s Faust in Copenhagen: The Struggle for the Soul of Physics and the Birth of the Nuclear Age. Carey argues that “Segrè’s attempt to link the lives and work of his physicists demonstrates, very satisfactorily, that it is a dead duck.” The emphasis is mine:
The trouble is that the two parts have nothing whatsoever to do with one another. Segrè seems to think that because the lives of artists and writers shed light on their work, the same must be true of theoretical physicists. He is evidently encouraged in this notion by the belief that the artistic and scientific developments of the 1920s were somehow linked. James Joyce’s Ulysses and de Chirico’s paintings were, he says, marked by the same “wild experimenting” that led to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. This kind of claim is often wafted about in popular cultural histories, but it is nonsense, and Segrè’s failed attempt to link the lives and work of his physicists demonstrates, very satisfactorily, that it is a dead duck.
Joyce’s Ulysses, to take Segrè’s own example, is drenched in Joyce. His upbringing, family, Irishness and individuality are stamped on every page. It is impossible to think of it being written by anybody else. With Segrè’s scientists, things are quite different. Pauli, for instance, discovered, by sheer mathematical genius, before any experiment had detected them, that neutrinos exist. Besides being a mathematician, Pauli was a Catholic and a Jew, his mother committed suicide, he smoked and drank too much, and he had a brief, unhappy marriage to a dancer. But none of this had any effect on neutrinos. They carried on exactly as before, unmarked by Pauli’s personal problems. If he had not discovered them, someone else would have done, and if nobody had, they would nevertheless exist. That is where art and science differ. For understanding their work, Joyce’s and de Chirico’s lives matter. Pauli’s is irrelevant.
I don’t know enough about art or science to judge this last point, which is an interesting one. However, I have a few random thoughts.
First, although I can see that writers, at least writers of fiction, generally bring their life’s experience into even the least autobiographical of works, there are exceptions. What about Shakespeare, about whom we know little? And if Shakespeare had to please his audiences, then painters and sculptors had to please their patrons. Music, I suspect, can be even further removed from the personality of the composer. Mozart, it is said, was coarse and scatological, but there is none of it in his music.
Secondly, while I generally accept that the scientist appears to be independent of the science – neutrinos are the same whether they are discovered or not, and no matter who discovers them – I wonder if this is inevitably the case. What about scientific laws? If Newton hadn’t discovered his three laws of motion, would somebody else have disovered exactly those three? Suppose there are not three, but seventeen laws of motion, and fourteen, to date, remain undiscovered. Are laws – of motion or anything else – just there, waiting to be discovered, in the way that neutrinos are?
Laws, whether scientific or Biblical, seem to come in neat and memorable numbers, which suggests that human beings wish to fit the subject into manageable categories. Pseudo-sciences, such as “Marketing” and “Management”, abound with neat numbers of things: Porter’s Five Forces, Seven Habits of Effective Managers, and so on. Clearly the theorists thought five and seven – unlike seventeen and nineteen – were memorable numbers, and filled the gaps accordingly. But in principle, scientists should be open to the possibility that there are seventeen, or nineteen, or ninety-seven laws of something.
I am sure that somebody will have written about this matter in a way that makes sense. If so, I would like to know what they have to say.
Posted on 07/22/2007 11:53 AM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 22 July 2007
Esposito's Errata Sheet
For John Esposito's article in today's Washington Post,
here is the Errata Sheet:
For "Islam was seen as a continuation of the Abrahamic faith tradition, not a totally new religion."
"Early Islam naturally appropriated and distorted elements of Judaism and Christianity (readers of the Bandar Beacon will want to consult the several anthologies edited by Ibn Warraq on the early Qur'an, including "The Origins of the Koran" and "What the Koran Really Says," as well as his "The Quest for the Historical Muhammad") which was mixed into the substratum of Arab pagan lore -- the djinn, for example, is still devoutly believed in.
This was because relatively small groups of Arabs, already pre-existing in separate colonies among the much larger, settled, richer, advanced non-Arabs, chiefly Christians and Jews, found useful the construction, no doubt by divers hands (but perhaps special attention should be given to the early Umayyad Caliph, Abd el-Malik b. Marwan, in Damascus), of a belief-system that could be presented to the conquered Christians and Jews not as a brand-new and alien form of belief, but rather as "a continuation of the Abrahamic faith tradition, not a totally new religion."
The new, revised, much improved Esposito text would then continue as follows:
"The investigation of early Islam is one of the most fascinating and exciting areas of scholarly endeavor in Islamic studies. It is also an area of study conducted entirely by Western scholars of Islam -- les vrais -- and not one in which any Muslims have wished to participate, for the spirit of free inquiry is entirely lacking in Islam.
That is why, from the days of Ignaz Goldziher, who first studied the Hadith in a skeptical manner (and Goldziher was deeply sympathetic to much of Islam), through the great scholars of Islam -- through C. Snouck Hurgronje, and Joseph Schacht, right up to the present, with the work of John Wansbrough, and then Patricia Crone and Michael Cook, and so many others, Andrew Rippin and Louis de Premare and Gerd Puin, who use all kinds of evidence, and whose names can be found in the anthologies edited by Ibn Warraq and which I, John Esposito, would like to recommend so very highly. And I would of course like to recommend too that all those who study Islam make themselves familiar with the work of Christoph Luxenberg on the "Syro-Aramaic" (i.e., the Aramaic of Edessa) substratum or underlay for the early Qur'an, which helps us explain the approximately 20% of the text that makes little or no sense, even to readers of classical Arabic.
I'm sorry that I myself, lean mean jogging John Esposito, have had no time to read any of these people, and until now have had not the slightest inclination to recommend them, or make any of these scholars known to my colleagues, to my students, or to those I advise in the corridors of power (and did I tell you that during the Clinton Administration I was very much on call, my expertise constantly sought?).
And the reason, you see, is simply time. I do have my jogging. I do have my development work -- my fund-raising, that takes up so much of my time. For I have a whole crew here at the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, and they need to be paid. There is loyal John Voll, and loyal Yvonne Haddad. There are others, the kind of people who will not let our donors down. There are lectures to be given, and possibly a King Abdul Aziz Prize to fatten my future. There is my own salary, my own take -- and I haven't done at all badly, let me tell you. But that's why I haven't been able to get to any of the books I've mentioned, but have been churning out books with such titles as "Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality?" (can you guess from the title what the book might conclude?), and coffee-table stuff, with lots of pictures of tulips and turbans, and the interior of the Blue Mosque looking, as always, positively ravishing. A word of advice for "Islamic scholars" who wish to be as successful as I: make sure you have those books on Islam, even those supposedly scholarly ones, full of pretty pictures -- full of that local-color that fills the reader's mind with thoughts of exotica, and along with the Iznik tiles and that perennial favorite, those painted groups of turbanned Turks, the odd camel will do, but please, listen to me, do go very heavy on what, after all, is the only art form that the Muslim world can offer save for calligraphy, that isn't a patch on what the Chinese and others in the Far East can supply. So put in as many of the mediagenic mosques as you can find -- you can start by consulting, but only on aesthetic matters, Oleg Grabar (but watch out, he's too much of a real scholar to fully trust - just borrow his pictures). Make sure you get in some nice Persian examples, and the Taj Mahal, and the Dome of the Rock, and the Umayyad Mosque, and a few examples from fabulous Bokhara, and the less about Islam, real Islam, that is the texts of Islam, that you put in -- and please, no hint of Antoine Fattal, not a mention of Bat Ye'or, just leave any serious discussion of the meaning of the word "dhimmi" out of your work for as long as you possibly can -- just look at how I have managed to avoid that subject -- but if you must, do it with the old "Umarite Covenant" business. That always gets them. Mention as few of the hundreds of great Western scholars of Islam, in the period 1870-1970, as possible. If they never learn even the names of Henri Lammens, St. Clair Tisdall, Georges Vajda, Charles-Emmanuel Bousquet, Edmond Fagnan, Samuel Zwemer, and others, so much the better. And if any smart young student finds out about them on his own, and dares to mention them, simply invoke the magical phrases "Orientalism" and "Edward Said" and put on a big show of indignation about these "so-called Orientalists," and that will shut him up, and satisfy many of the lemmings in your class. It's always worked for me."
Oh dear. I didn't mean to publish right here those last few paragraphs. They are part of the "Teacher's Guide" that I , lean mean highly-successful-in-every-respect John Esposito, quietly supply to those who use whose names are on the list compiled by my colleagues at the annual meetings of MESA Nostra, the Trusted Ones, the ones whom we can always count on not only to assign my books in their college courses, but to be careful about what the students find out, and careful about what they are never supposed to find out. My god, I hope no one notices this. Let's hope.
Posted on 07/22/2007 11:22 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 22 July 2007
Turkish Election Report
By Linda Michaud-Emin and Heymi Bahar
Having won Turkey’s July 22 parliamentary elections, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is set once again to form a single-party government. This triumph is especially impressive as it is the first time in a half-century that a government party wins reelection. Ironically, this means that while the July 22 elections have taken place amidst so much controversy they are in fact producing the most stable government in many years.
In recent years, the Turkish government has been plagued by an on-going battle between Deniz Baykal’s opposition socialist Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the AKP on the issue of secularism. When it was time for parliament to choose a president on April 27, 2007, the AKP selected its number-two leader, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, for the post. In turn, the CHP boycotted the balloting, thus blocking it. As a result, parliamentary elections were moved up to an earlier date. With street demonstrations protesting AKP’s Islam-oriented program, it seemed as if the opposition might seriously challenge the government. Instead, the government did very well.
Still, the probable continuation of an AKP single-party government does not mean there will be no change. The emergence in third place of Turkey’s far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), as well as an increase in independent members could bring some important changes.
First, the MHP as a second opposition party—after the CHP--with an intensely nationalist ideology could harass the AKP considerably, as well as polarizing the system to a far greater extent. The MHP is particularly hostile to demands for more rights by the Kurdish minority. At the same time, though, Kurds may be more significant because the Kurdish forces ran as independents—their main party has been banned—and could sometimes hold the balance of power.
Nevertheless, in September or October the AKP will now probably propose and elect a presidential candidate from its own party which is what led to this whole mess in the first place. It may, however, seek someone less controversial than Gul and try to reach a consensus with the CHP.
The presidency in Turkey up to now has always been a bulwark of the secular system. The president appoints the prime minister, the military’s chief of staff, university rectors, diplomats, and members of the country’s highest court. An AKP presidency coupled with an AKP government can dramatically change the nature of both Turkish politics and society.
Secularists fear that with AKP controlling executive, legislative, and—by appointing judges--judicial branches of government it would be a point of no return for the country. In 2004, for example, the AKP passed a law lowering the compulsory retirement age as a way of forcing out thousands of civil servants. Many of them were replaced by graduates of the imam hatips, Islamic schools, who might have been less qualified but who were very loyal to the AKP and its policies.
A confident, more assertive AKP has serious ramifications for Turkish foreign policy in terms of its positions on U.S. interests, the West in general, radical Islamist forces, and Israel. Examples include the recent natural gas agreement between Turkey and Iran as well as Turkey’s differences with the United States over Iraq.
While it is possible to exaggerate marginal phenomena or short-term public opinion trends, anti-American and anti-Jewish feelings have been rising in the country since 2002, the year the AKP came to office. The question is to what extent changes in the society are boosting the AKP and a more Islamic approach to issues or whether it is the AKP government that is altering these attitudes.
Linda Michaud-Emin is a research fellow at the Global Research in
International Affairs (GLORIA) Center http://gloria.idc.ac.il, at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC). Heymi Bahar is a research associate at the GLORIA Center.
Posted on 07/22/2007 2:59 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 22 July 2007
More From Erdogan's past
Dr. Andrew Bostom reminds us of the following from his upcoming book, The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism:
In 1974, Tayyip Recep Erdogan, then serving as president of the Istanbul Youth Group of the Islamist National Salvation Party (founded by Erbakan), wrote, directed, and played the leading role in a theatrical play entitled Maskomya. Rifat Bali, a Turkish historian, observes that Erdogan’s play, Maskomya,
…or in its correct form Mas-kom-Ya, was a theatrical play that was staged everywhere in the 1970s, as part of the “cultural” activities of MSP [National Salvation Party] Youth Brances. The unabbreviated version of Mas-kom-Ya is Mason-Kommunist-Yahudi [Mason-Communist-Jew]. It is known that the play was built on the “evil” nature of these three concepts, and the hatred towards them.
Posted on 07/22/2007 5:02 PM by Rebecca Bynum