These are all the Blogs posted on Sunday, 23, 2012.
Sunday, 23 September 2012
Syrian Muslim Brotherhood Leader Rejects Kurdish Autonomy
Syrian Rebels Capture Building near Turkish Border
A tip of the hat to Sherkoh Abbas of KURDNAS.
We reported the rise of de facto Syrian Kurdish autonomy in the vacuum created by the current bloody conflict between the armed forces of Syrian Alawite strongman Bashar Assad and rebellious Sunni forces backed by Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The Muslim Brotherhood dominated Free Syrian Army commander, Col. Riad al-Assad, announced the deployment of the largely Sunni rebel force Headquarters from its safe haven inside Turkey to “liberated areas” in adjacent northwestern Syria. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood leadership in the rebellion would oppose the quest for Kurdish autonomy in the traditional northeastern homeland area.
A recent interview with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood Secretary General Mohammed Riad al-Shaqfa in a Turkish newspaper, Cumhuriyet, revealed both concerns and rejection of Kurdish aspiration and presence in Syria. As noted in a Rudaw English article Shafqa said:
There is no one single purely Kurdish area in Syria and the Kurds are a minority in northeastern areas since they live with other components of Syrian society there.
We clearly oppose the ambitions of establishing a Kurdish entity in Syria.
Rudawcontrasted Shaqfa’s figures on Kurdish demographics in Syria and the rebuttal of Massoud Akko, a prominent Kurdish Activist and Journalist about Syrian Kurdish aspirations:
Most research estimates Syrian Kurds make up between 12 and 15 percent of the population in Syria. However, Shaqfa claims, “The Kurds in Syria do not constitute more than 5 percent.”
Shaqfa’s statements angered many Syrian Kurdish activists and politicians, and caused controversy between the different revolutionary forces in Syria.
Massoud Akko, a prominent Syrian Kurdish activist and member of the Syrian Journalists Association (SJA), told Rudaw on Thursday that the statements by the leader of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood went too far.
“This is not the first time for Riad al-Shaqfa to issue such flawed statements about the Kurds,” Akko said. “Neither Shaqfa and his group nor any other opposition party know the precise percentage of Kurdish people in Syria.”
He added, “The Kurdish population … should be based on the results of research, not by issuing baseless statements in this regard, because there was never a neutral or official census concerning the Syrian Kurds.”
“My advice to Mr. Riad al-Shaqfa and his entire group is to read more about the Kurds before issuing any statement; otherwise, it would be better for them to shut up,” Akko concluded.
According to Akko, such hostile statements by opposition leaders against the Kurds reinforce the divisions in Syria.
“Shaqfa and his group reveal their hostility to the Kurdish people, and that doesn’t serve the revolution and its goals. I think that such a position represents a serious danger to the future of the Kurdish people and their issue in Syria, in the case that the Muslim Brotherhood rules the country someday,” Akko said.
He continued, “They should review these shameful statements and attitudes which basically spread a spirit of hatred between them and the Kurdish people.”
Regarding the establishment of a Kurdish entity in Syria, Akko stated, “That is one of the legitimate rights for Kurds in Syria according to all the international conventions and the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights. The Kurds are a nation and it is their legitimate and unquestionable right to be an independent entity and enjoy their sovereignty on their own land.”
However, Akko noted that none of the Kurdish factions have demanded that an independent Kurdish entity be established in Syria, and that their ultimate demand is for a decentralized federal state as is found in Germany, Switzerland, the U.S and the U.A.E.
An alternative demand is the right to a self-governed Kurdish region where the Kurds can enjoy an autonomous administrative rule, a right they have been deprived of for decades under different Syrian governments.
Akko argued that a Kurdish state is a right, and any denial of this by any party or opposition faction is unacceptable and should be condemned by all Kurds.
“The main question remains whether it can be implemented, because this issue is relevant to the geopolitical circumstances in the region,” Akko said, also noting the importance of international support towards reaching this Kurdish ambition.
“Anyway, nothing is impossible,” he concluded. “Where there’s a will, there is a way”.
Clearly the objective of the Muslim Brotherhood leadership in the bloody Syrian rebellion is to maintain and assert control over a unified Syrian state governed under Shariah, Islamic law and the likely conduct of brutal sectarian warfare aimed at 'ethnic cleansing' of minority groups opposing this objective; i.e., the Kurds, Alawites, Druze and Christians. With direct Iranian intervention via insertion of Quds forces in Syria and supply of war material for the Assad regime via a ‘humanitarian’ air bridge passing over neighboring Iraq versus the Sunni supremacist coalition of Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia supplying the Free Syrian Army, the bloody rebellion will continue. Iraq –based al Qaeda cadres have also entered Syria from adjacent Anbar province. No effective UN intervention is likely given the stalemate at the Security Council with the opposition of both Russia and China to US and other Western resolutions. In the meantime the Kurds in Syria will continue to perfect de facto self government while Turkey is preoccupied in combating heightened levels of asymmetrical warfare from emboldened PKK insurgents in its adjacent southeastern provinces seeking control of the region.
Mohamed Nasheed, the Maldives’ first democratically elected leader, who was ousted on February 7, said the influence of hardliners in the current coalition government, led by the former vice-president, Mohammed Waheed Hassan, and including the Islamic Adhaalath Party, could have a dramatic impact on the future of tourism in the archipelago.
“I think that is the direction we are going,” he said in an interview with Telegraph Travel. “They are talking about alcohol-free resorts, about getting non-drinking tourists to come in from Iran. I can easily imagine holidaymakers being prosecuted for kissing in public, as in some Muslim countries.”
Referring to a recent campaign by the ministry of Islamic affairs aimed at strengthening “Islamic values”, he said: “Public dancing, singing and spas have been banned in Malé [the capital city]. But un-Islamic behaviour is un-Islamic behaviour whether it is in Malé or in a resort.
“If the country is being radicalised every day, then the staff in the resorts, and their families, are being radicalised also. That must have some impact on the resorts in the medium and long term.”
The Maldives, a popular destination for honeymooners, is generally considered to be more tolerant than other Muslim countries, but recent evidence appears to suggest otherwise.
Earlier this year, Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Gafoor, the minister for tourism, ruled out bans on spas or restrictions on the sale of alcohol in holiday resorts. The government has also sought to play down the Islamic affairs ministry’s campaign.
A suicide car bomber blew himself up outside a Catholic church in a remote part of northern Nigeria on Sunday, killing himself and at least two other people and wounding several, a Reuters witness said.
Police cordoned off the area after the blast, which caused minimal damage to the church but killed at least two people in a market area of Bauchi city called Wunti. A Reuters journalist saw emergency services bring out three bodies, and police identified one as the occupant of the car that blew up.
Police and military surrounded the church and did not allow journalists inside the cordon. Later at a nearby hospital, Bauchi deputy police commissioner T Stevens told journalists told that the bomber had been stopped at the church's gate, where he detonated the explosives packed inside his car.
Doctors cautioned more could die from their injuries.
"The situation has been brought under control," Mr Stevens said. "We have our men minding all areas."
Mr Stevens said no group or individual had claimed responsibility for the attack, though suspicion immediately fell on Boko Haram
The sect, which says it wants to revive an ancient Islamic caliphate in northern Nigeria that would practice strict Sharia law, has become the number one security threat to Africa's top oil producer, replacing militancy in the oil-rich southeast.
A Jerusalem Arab woman, enraged by the “Innocence of Muslims” film, tried to stab and kill policeman in the Silwan Valley, Sunday morning, who thwarted the attempt.
The woman, age 32, approached the policeman in parking lot in the neighborhood, located across the road from the Western Wall.
The policeman overpowered the woman and was not injured.
A preliminary investigation revealed that the women was taking out her anger over the film, an amateur production that infuriated Muslims around the world after it was translated into Arabic on YouTube
It is easier, said La Rochefoucauld, to give good advice than to take it, and this has certainly been my experience. Thus it is a racing certainty that the recommendation that people who suffer from common-or-garden tension headaches should take fewer over-the-counter painkillers – given yesterday by Nice, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence – good or even excellent as that might have been, will have little effect and will have to be repeated in a few years’ time.
Medical advice changes with time and fashion, though. Headache as a symptom was once beneath the notice of neurologists. Kinnier Wilson’s great two-volume textbook of neurology of 1940 has no section devoted to headache, and neither did Sir Russell Brain’s (fourth edition) of 1951. By the seventh edition of 1969, however, Brain said: “Headache is one of the commonest symptoms. Though it is frequently a trivial disorder, it is also at times a symptom of the gravest significance.” He also wrote: “Palliative treatment with analgesics… can safely be used in most cases.”
Not exactly a discouragement to taking pills.
But does the latter-day inclusion of headache in the textbooks mean that it is now commoner than it once was, or does it mean that neurologists have become more attentive to their patients’ complaints than they once were? It is hard to tell; but every doctor is familiar with the patient who takes his headache to be a signal of a brain tumour and will not be satisfied that it is not until he has had a scan. I knew one neurologist, indeed, who gave up the struggle to dissuade patients from having an investigation that subjected them unnecessarily to a good (that is to say, a bad) dose of radiation. He came to the conclusion that it was simpler, less emotionally wearing for all concerned and in the end more economical to give them what they wanted in the first place.
But most patients are fully aware that their headaches are not the herald of a life-threatening disease. The very chronicity of the symptoms, and their non-progression to something worse, suggests otherwise; if their headache was going to kill them, it would have done so by now. But a condition is not necessarily trivial to the patient just because it is trivial to the doctor. As Sir George Pickering, a great physician, once memorably said, a minor operation is an operation performed on somebody else.
It is only natural that people who are in pain should take painkillers: is that not what they are for? Furthermore, they are easily available: no supplication to a doctor, no getting past suspicious receptionists, is necessary to obtain them. Whole shelves are devoted to them in the nearest pharmacy, and they are cheap.
Unfortunately, some of them, particularly ibuprofen, can, when taken for too long, cause the very symptom that they are intended to relieve, namely headache. The patient then interprets this headache as a reason to take yet more painkillers, and a vicious circle is set up that can last for years. Patients are not addicted in the physical sense, but fear to do without their pills.
There is another, subtler reason why people with headaches (a million of them, according to Nice) are so attached to their pills. It is generally accepted that one of the most common causes of headache is psychological malaise of one kind or another. This does not make the pain or discomfort any the less real to the patient, of course; and there is probably hardly a person alive whose psychological problems have never been translated into physical symptoms, whether he realises it or not.
Dissatisfaction with life is not easily righted. A person’s reach in life may exceed his or her grasp; or he or she may be trapped in a situation that anyone would find unpleasant. The act of taking the pill is the expression of the wish that the symptom should be purely physical in origin, and therefore amenable, in theory, to the magic bullet of medicine. Hope springs eternal; and this explains why many people take pills for many years that, when asked about, they will quite happily admit do not work and have never worked. Their mere uselessness does not prevent them from taking them, therefore. So Nice’s pronouncement, while sensible, will probably not have the desired effect. (I might be wrong: it would be interesting to observe the sale of headache pills in the next few months, though the figures might not be easy to interpret. Fortunately for researchers, there is always room for further research.)
As for myself, I’m one of those fortunate people who never suffers from headache, except in two circumstances: high fever or failure to drink three cups of strong coffee in the morning. I interpret the latter headache as a need for coffee. Unfortunately, one of the side-effects of caffeine is – yes, you’ve guessed it, headache. Time for a coffee, I think.
There are religions that promote turning the other cheek even when mocked, but it appears Islam is not one of them. According to one of the most prominent imams in North America, Islam never condones violence, but it also, under no uncertain terms, “ever accepts” speaking ill of the Prophet Muhammad.
In fact, so grave is mockery of the prophet considered, that the cleric – Mohammad Qatanani, who leads one of the largest mosques in New Jersey – even believes free speech that criticizes Islam poses a national security threat to the U.S. and that those responsible should be investigated by the Department of Homeland Security.
“We, as Americans, have to put limits and borders [on] freedom of speech,” Qatanani, leader of the Islamic Center of Passaic County (ICPC), told TheBlaze. He explained that while Americans may ”have the freedom“ to speak their mind, ultimately, they “have no right to [talk about Muslim] holy issues“ as it will incite ”hatred or war among people.”
Qatanani said he thinks agitators who slander Islam, or, more specifically, the Prophet Muhammad, incite violence and hence, pose a national security risk that threatens the safety of Americans at home and abroad. Thus, America should disregard its First Amendment as it is typically applied and instead act in accordance with sharia law for the ultimate “good” of society.
In an exclusive interview with TheBlaze, the cleric, who was nearly deported in 2008 for failing to disclose his former ties to the terrorist organization Hamas on a 1996 Green Card application, explained that Muslims are required by Islam to respect the law of the land in their host-countries. He followed up that statement, however, with a treatise on how those who slander the prophet be pursued legally.
While some leaders within the Muslim community have spoken out against the anti-America driven violence in the Middle East, many have qualified their condemnation with moral equivalence, treating a film dubbed “Innocence of Muslims” (which some claim served as the catalyst for the attacks), with even harsher disdain than they do murder. Qatanani said the Obama White House should take legal action against the filmmakers.
“My position is that White House has to say strong in its condemnation [of the filmmakers] and take this person to court. If he is innocent, we will accept that… The government has strong case against this person.”
When asked what can be done to prevent future attacks, Qatanani invoked Homeland Security again, suggesting that the department actually step-in to prevent artists, composers, movie-makers, or satirists (among others), from producing works critical of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. He believes it is in America’s best interest to quell this kind of free speech as it “ruins” America’s image abroad and will ultimately hurt people.
One of the most revealing insights made by the controversial faith leader came when he juxtaposed American freedom with the type of freedom permitted under sharia law.
The imam acknowledged that observant Muslims view freedom only through the lens of that which is permitted by the Quran and Sunnah, the two sacred texts of Islam, and is therefore much different from the way Americans view freedom.
“They [Muslims] think our [American] freedoms are too much,” Qatanani said. “The freedom of the American people is so different from their [Muslims'] freedoms. We believe freedoms have limits and rules, otherwise we will get people into trouble…Freedom according to Islam must be according to the Quran and Sunnah. You can do [anything] you like within the teachings of these two resources. This is the difference and main reason [for the conflict].”
“People there [in the Middle East] don’t understand the American Constitution and freedom of speech,” Qatanani said. We have to understand each other because misunderstanding is a killing issue… The issue of Prophet Muhammad is very delicate – they [Muslims] will not accept in any way, anybody who talks badly about Muhammad.”
He went on to explain that not even Jesus or Moses, who Muslims also revere as heroes and prophets, would be permitted to speak ill of their ultimate Prophet Muhammad and stated emphatically, and repeatedly, during the interview that Muslims will never “accept” or tolerate such slander even in the U.S. under the auspices of freedom of speech.
At one point Qatanani said that it is essentially fine to mock Jesus or Moses (as Americans often satire various religious figures) but that is absolutely verboten to mock Muhammad. Later, he added that Muslims would be equally upset if anyone were to slander Christian or Jewish figureheads.
On the embassy attacks
At the end of the day Qatanani was consistent in his call for peace, however, he was particularly fixated on the “Innocence of Muslims” as egregious enough to justify violence.
“I believe the producer of the film’s [goal] was to have people hate each other. We are against the bad reaction, but the producer wants people to react that way [rioting]. He has a hidden agenda.”
In fairness, TheBlaze has reported that the filmmakers appear to be dubious characters with checkered pasts, and perhaps even ill-intentions. That said, they were certainly within their “right” under American law to produce the movie, whether tasteful or not. Qatanani pressed that irrespective of context, such movies and rhetoric will be exploited by extremists and thus, America has a responsibility to prevent inflammatory material that could agitate jihadists from reaching the mainstream.
An interesting point to note was that throughout the discussion, Qatanani repeatedly called for peaceful action and condemned violence as being anathema to true Islam. Conversely, he referred to the attacks on U.S. embassies abroad that left a U.S. ambassador, two Navy SEALs and one additional civil servant dead, as merely ”a bad reaction.”
He then repeated calls for peace and maintained that such “bad reactions” go directly against Islam’s peaceful nature.
“We condemn any bad reaction that is not peaceful. That is not Islamically acceptable, even by the teachings of the prophet. It is unacceptable.”
So who is Qatanani?
Qatanani’s notoriety soared in 2008 when U.S. immigration authorities attempted to deport him.
Born in the Palestinian city of Nablus, Qatanani was arrested, pleaded guilty and was convicted in an Israeli military court in 1993 for aiding Hamas during an uprising that same year. When he immigrated to the United States in 1996, the cleric failed to include information about his ties to the terrorist group on his U.S. Green Card application. The omission, along with the cleric’s checkered past, prompted immigration officials to file a motion to deport Qatanani and his family.
Qatanani and his attorneys have since minimized the cleric’s history, maintaining that he was merely among hundreds of other Palestinians detained during the uprising and that he had been convicted in absentia and later subjected to harsh interrogation tactics, even “torture.”
Ultimately, Qatanini and his family were granted permanent residency in 2008, but the case is currently being appealed through the New Jersey Immigration Court of Appeals. He is also suing the FBI and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency for the release of any records that bear relevance on his ability to remain in the U.S. The imam filed his suit under the Freedom of Information Act in a U.S. District Court in Newark at the end of June, 2012. His suit claims the of Departments of Justice and Homeland Security have ignored his requests for records for more than five months.
It should also be noted that Qatanani has been much admired, not only in the Muslim community but interfaith communities as well. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has even embraced the cleric, calling him a “friend.”
So what does one of America’s most high-profile and perhaps controversial Islamic scholars think is really behind the animus Islamists harbor for the West? “Miseducation.”
According to Qatanani, “miseducation on both sides” is fanning the flames of discontent in the “Muslim or Arab world…and the solution is education for everyone.” For the cleric, misunderstanding can, and clearly has, led to “killing.”
“The people here don’t understand the Arab world, how they think and deal with holy issues — issues related to the Quran and Prophet Muhammad,” the imam told TheBlaze.
The imam clarified his position by saying that there is an onus on each and every person — Muslim or not — to weigh the potential harm that could come from his or her words. The message Qatanani was attempting to convey is that “we have to stop” putting people’s lives in danger and sabotaging Muslim-American relations with anti-Islamic language and imagery. He did not address the lives that are put in danger from actual acts of agression waged by Muslims who are not respecting another culture’s “law of the land.”
Qatanani said that in these sensitive times following the Arab Spring, Muslims abroad “want to be close to America” [they want the following: American money, American weapons, and the ability to settle, and remain deep within, America, where they also want to be free to subvert the Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights, and the heart of the Bill of Rights, the First Amendment -- as Qatanani does in his latest remarks reported here]but that saboteurs are getting in the way. “I believe that understanding each other and education is the key,” Qatanani said, adding that cross-pollination is possible if Muslim and American scholars travel to one another’s regions to educate the public.
“So we need to build that bridge. The Muslims living here in U.S. can do that.”
American Officials: In Benghazi It Wasn't Merely An "Innocent Mob" That Killed Four Americans
Frpm a CNN story:
[Updated at 2:48 p.m. ET] U.S. sources say they do not believe the attacks that killed Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya, were in reaction to the online release of a film mocking Islam, CNN's Elise Labott reports.
"It was not an innocent mob," one senior official said. "The video or 9/11 made a handy excuse and could be fortuitous from their perspective, but this was a clearly planned military-type attack."
Say this for Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi: he isn’t short of nerve. The Muslim Brotherhood leader has shoved aside the military and now presides over the most populous Arab nation with what appear to be few checks on his power. That gives him the confidence to tell the United States it must accept his Islamist government on its own terms and throw Israel under the bus. But it doesn’t mean he wants the American gravy train that funnels $1.5 billion to the Egyptian government to stop.
Morsi sat down with the New York Times for an interview that was published today and the portrait it paints of the Egyptian leader is one of a man who seems to have a fairly low opinion of President Obama. Rather than embrace an American leader who went out of his way to seek to win the heart of the Muslim world, Morsi thinks Obama needs to prove to Egyptians that he deserves to go on funding what is now an Islamist government. If that means accepting an Egypt that allows mobs to sack the U.S. embassy in Cairo before finally stepping in to halt the carnage, the Americans will have to like it or lump it. This attitude prompted even President Obama to say he wasn’t sure whether Egypt is an ally anymore (technically, it still is). But Morsi made it clear to the Times he’s going to be the one dictating the terms of the relationship, not the country that is continuing to fund Egypt. Even more important, by demanding that the Americans “must respect the Arab world’s history and culture, even when that conflicts with Western values,” Morsi laid down a marker that ensures that the West must either bow to Islamist sensibilities or face a continuance of outbreaks of violence like the ones we have seen the last two weeks.
Morsi shouldn’t be blamed for thinking he can get away with disrespect for the United States. In the last month, the Obama administration agreed to forgive part of Egypt’s debt and renewed aid as part of an effort to stabilize a nation that has gone from being a reliable ally under Hosni Mubarak to one that is not afraid to flaunt its friendship for Iran. Morsi responded by stalling (“We took our time”) before eventually shooing rioters out of the U.S. embassy in Cairo. Though that earned him an icy phone conversation with President Obama, he seems to still think he can set the terms of engagement between the two countries without any fear that Washington will pull the plug on aid.
When he tells the Times that Americans shouldn’t judge Egyptians by Western standards, what he is saying is that if Islamist mobs choose to rampage against embassies or demand the abridgement of free speech elsewhere, the U.S. must “respect” these values or face the consequences. While Morsi complains about videos that show disrespect to their religion, the Egyptian media is a cesspool of anti-Semitic and anti-Christian propaganda. President Obama is right. This isn’t an alliance. Under these circumstances it is something more akin to criminal extortion than friendship, no matter how you define that word.
On one other key point, Morsi is just as shameless. He says that if the United States wants Egypt to maintain the peace treaty it signed in 1979 with Israel, it must force the Jewish state to give self-rule to the Palestinians. While the Camp David Accords did include provisions about autonomy for the Palestinians, he ignores the fact that the 1993 Oslo agreement actually gave the Palestinians autonomy (the treaty with Egypt said nothing about an independent Palestinian state) but that Israel has gotten terror rather than peace in exchange for these concessions. More to the point, under Morsi, Egypt has allowed the Sinai to become a war zone as the latest cross-border attack on Friday proved. Though the Mubarak regime was often unhelpful to the cause of peace, the Morsi government’s ties with Hamas constitute a standing obstacle to any progress as well as a threat of more violence coming from the Sinai.
Having studied here in the 1980s, Morsi thinks he knows America. But his contempt for Western culture is such that he believes that he and other Islamists can dictate terms to the United States with impunity. President Obama’s attempt to win the hearts of minds of the Muslim world failed. But Morsi’s contempt is such that he believes he can demand more appeasement. Morsi says Egypt won’t live by American rules but he seems to think that the U.S. must accept his dictates. Given the refusal of the Obama administration to make him pay a price for this arrogance, there’s no reason for him think that he can’t get away with it.