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The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Impact of Islam
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Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
by Ibn Warraq
Fighting the Retreat from Arabia and the Gulf: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly. Vol. 1
edited by S.B. Kelly
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by J. E. G. Dixon
Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays
by David P. Gontar
Farewell Fear
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Eagle and The Bible: Lessons in Liberty from Holy Writ
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interviews by Jerry Gordon
Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy
Emmet Scott
Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
Ibn Warraq
Anything Goes
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The Left is Seldom Right
by Norman Berdichevsky
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Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
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These are all the Blogs posted on Wednesday, 26, 2011.
Wednesday, 26 October 2011
Group warns of cover-up in Egypt Christian deaths

Kudos to AP for continuing to cover this story.  By Maggie Michael for AP:

CAIRO (AP) — An international rights group warned Tuesday that Egypt's ruling generals may try to cover up the circumstances surrounding the killings of more than 20 Coptic Christian demonstrators when the military broke up their protest by force earlier this month.

Egypt's ruling military council, which took power after the February ouster of Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising, have portrayed the Oct. 9 protest and the ensuing bloodshed as the work of provocateurs. The [sic] could shield the soldiers from blame.

The violence and the military's handling of the aftermath have fueled criticism that Egypt's new rulers are not implementing reforms that would lead to an open, democratic regime.

"The military has already tried to control the media narrative, and it should not be allowed to cover up what happened on October 9," said New-York based Human Rights Watch spokesman Joe Stork.

The clashes left 27 people dead, at least 21 of them Christians, the deadliest single incident since Mubarak's ouster. After months of growing tensions between the youthful protesters that spearheaded the uprising and the ruling military, the killings brought relations between the two sides to a new low. Activists accuse the ruling military council of behaving like the old regime. The generals have been pressing for an end to street protests.

"...at least 21 of them Christians..."   Despite their best efforts, the information start to dribble out.  I think it quite possible that all 27 of the dead were Christians.  Of course, Muslims are neither parsimonious nor diligent when it comes to their violence, and may have accidentally killed a Muslim or two in their rampage against the Christians.  But this was no battle "between" Christians and Muslims, this was a slaughter of Christians by Muslims. 

The Christian minority, about 10 percent of Egypt's mostly Muslim population, has long complained of discrimination. Attacks on Christians have significantly increased since the uprising.

The violence on Oct. 9 began when about 1,000 Christians tried to stage a peaceful sit-in outside the state television building. The protesters said they were attacked by "thugs" [i.e. devout Muslims acting according to mainstream Islamic precepts] with sticks, and the violence spiraled out of control after a speeding military vehicle jumped onto a sidewalk and crushed some Christians to death.

The military vehicle didn't jump onto a sidewalk, it was driven there by a Muslim driver.  Another example of passive voice used whenever reporters refer to Islamic violence.

At a news conference after the clashes, the military tried to exonerate itself, blaming the Christians and "hidden hands" ["The Joooos", the Swiss Army knife of Middle East conspiracy theories] for starting the violence. They denied troops shot any protesters or intentionally ran them over.

The ruling council put military prosecutors in charge of investigating the killings.

HRW urged authorities to transfer investigation of the case from military to civilian prosecutors.

"The only hope for justice for the victims is an independent, civilian-led investigation that the army fully cooperates with and cannot control and that leads to the prosecution of those responsible," the HRW statement said. If the military maintains control, it said, that would "ensure that no serious investigation occurs."

HRW also urged an investigation into whether the military manipulated the media and the state television coverage on Oct. 9 which "may have amounted to incitement to violence."

As protesters marched toward the TV building, state television called on viewers to rush to the army's rescue, casting the Christians as a mob seeking to undermine unity between the people and the military.

Activists fear that an army-controlled investigation may seek to make scapegoats of some of the protesters. Some 28 people were arrested in the aftermath of the killings, most of them Christians [again, it's possible that a Muslim or two was accidentally included in the roundup]. There has been no word of soldiers arrested.

Those fears have been heightened by a prosecutorial summons for a young blogger critical of the military. Alaa Seif, the son of one of a prominent human rights lawyer, has been attacked on television by pro-military activists who claim that they have a video recording of him throwing rocks at Christians during the clashes.

His sister Mona, a campaigner against military tribunals for civilians, said Tuesday that the blogger had been called for questioning. Alaa is abroad.

The brother of another military critic, Maikel Nabil Sanad, said Tuesday that the young blogger has been moved to a mental hospital.

Marc Sanad said that he visited his brother at Cairo's Abbasiya mental hospital on Monday, 63 days after Maikel began a hunger strike to protest his conviction for "insulting the military." He said that Maikel's health was poor.

Basma Abdel Aziz, a health official said Monday that her ministry had no information of Maikel's consignment to a mental hospital, but that if he is confined in Abbasiya, the precedent would be "very dangerous and unacceptable."

Also Tuesday, hundreds of police officers stormed the regional security office in the Red Sea town of Hurghada, about 300 miles (500 kilometers) southeast of Cairo. They broke down doors, shattering windows and sending the building's employees fleeing. Soldiers removed them from the building. No injuries were reported.

Thousands of low-ranking police officers have launched protests in front of local security offices across the country, calling for higher wages and a purge of former regime officers from top security posts. The police say the sit-in, launched Monday, will continue until their demands are met.

Posted on 10/26/2011 1:20 AM by Artemis Gordon Glidden
Wednesday, 26 October 2011
Norman Berdichevsky to Speak in Orlando Tonight

ACT! for America Central Florida

Dear Friends,

Come and learn the true meaning of Jihad.

Hear Dr. Norman Berdichevsky speak to our group and educate us on Jihad and Muslim History. 

HIS TOPIC: "Jihad On The World Political Stage - 711 to the Present."

Please come and bring your friends to our meeting of Wednesday, October 26, 2011 to hear Professor Norman Berdichevsky talk on "Jihad On The World Political Stage - 711 to the Present." It will be held on the Third floor meeting room above Legends Sports Bar & Grill. 1315 S. Orange Ave. Orlando, Florida 32806, (407) 841-3601. For early arrivers, we will show a video from 6:30 PM until the official start of our meeting at 7:00 PM. 

 

Please click here to see the Flyer for the meeting, which contains directions to the event on the second page

 

Posted on 10/26/2011 5:50 AM by NER
Wednesday, 26 October 2011
Muslim Brotherhood Claims Victory In Tunisia

From The Global Muslim Brotherhood Report:

Brotherhood Claims Victory In Tunisia


 

Global media is reporting on claims by the Tunisian Enahda Party that it was won a victory in Tunis’a first democratic election. According to a Reuters report:

Moderate Islamists claimed victory Monday in Tunisia’s first democratic election, sending a message to other states in the region that long-sidelined Islamists are challenging for power after the “Arab Spring.” Official results have not been announced, but the Ennahda party said its workers had tallied the results posted at polling stations after Sunday’s vote, the first since the uprisings which began in Tunisia and spread through the region. ”The first confirmed results show that Ennahda has obtained first place,” campaign manager Abdelhamid Jlazzi said outside party headquarters in the center of the Tunisian capital. As he spoke, a crowd of more than 300 in the street shouted “Allahu Akbar!” or “God is great!” Other people started singing the Tunisian national anthem. Mindful that some people in Tunisia and elsewhere see the resurgence of Islamists as a threat to modern, liberal values, the party official stressed that Ennahda would not try to monopolize power. ”We will spare no effort to create a stable political alliance … We reassure the investors and international economic partners,” Jlazzi said. Sunday’s vote was for an assembly which will sit for one year to draft a new constitution. It will also appoint a new interim president and government to run the country until fresh elections late next year or early in 2013. The voting system has built-in checks and balances which make it nearly impossible for any one party to have a majority. Ennahda will therefore be forced to seek alliances with secularist parties, diluting its influence. ”This is an historic moment,” said Zeinab Omri, a young woman in a hijab, or Islamic headscarf, who was outside the Ennahda headquarters when party officials claimed victory. ”No one can doubt this result. This result shows very clearly that the Tunisian people is a people attached to its Islamic identity,” she said. Tunisia became the birthplace of the “Arab Spring” when Mohamed Bouazizi, a vegetable seller in a provincial town, set fire to himself in protest at poverty and government repression. His suicide provoked a wave of protests which, weeks later, forced autocratic president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali to flee to Saudi Arabia. The revolution in Tunisia, a former French colony, in turn inspired uprisings which forced out entrenched leaders in Egypt and Libya, and convulsed Yemen and Syria — re-shaping the political landscape of the Middle East. Ennahda is led by Rachid Ghannouchi, who was forced into exile in Britain for 22 years because of harassment by Ben Ali’s police. A softly spoken scholar, he dresses in suits and open-necked shirts while his wife and daughter wear the hijab. Ghannouchi is at pains to stress his party will not enforce any code of morality on Tunisian society, or the millions of Western tourists who holiday on its beaches. He models his approach on the moderate Islamism of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.

Read the rest here.

Rachid Ghannouchi (many spelling variations) is the leader of the Tunisian Islamist movement known as Nahada (aka Ennahda, Al Nahda) and can best be described as an independent Islamist power center who is tied to the global Muslim Brotherhood though his membership in the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR) and his important position in the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), both organizations led by Global Muslim Brotherhood Youssef Qaradawi. An Egyptian news report has identified Ghannouchi  as a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood “abroad.” Ghannouchi is also one of the founding members of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), a Saudi organization closely linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and dedicated to the propagation of “Wahabist” Islam throughout the world. Ghannouchi is known for his thinking on the issue of Islam and citizenship rights. Earlier posts reported on the return of Mr. Ghannouchi to Tunisia following his long exile in the UK.

Arab media has reported on a May 2011 interview with Mr. Ghannouchi in which he calls for and predicts the end of Israel. According a Muslim World News translation of the interview in the London-based Elaph:

Ghannouchi is developing / has developed a new strategy for post-revolutionary Tunis, and calls it “The jurisprudence of building, economic growth and construction”, and a new political perception of joint work and tolerance between the different political forces Nahda supports the foundation of a democracy, and preserving Tunis. * Ghannouchi praises the role that Qatar played in the Tunisian and Arab revolutions by adopting them in the media; Qatar provided a platform to their spokesmen * Ghannouchi says that the Tunisian revolution is a true popular revolution. He has confidence in it in spite of the attempts to arrouse a counter revolution * In the next four years, the IUMS plans to establish four universities, one Arab speaking in Turkey, and another is the Tunisian defunct Zaytuna. Ghannouchi supports the Libyan revolution, and hopes it succeeds and joins the other successful revolutions * Ghannouchi maintains that altogether the Arab revolutions are positive for the Palestinians, and threaten to bring Israel to an end. He says that the Palestinian problem lies at the heart of the Nation [umma], and that all the land between the mosque in Mecca and Jerusalem represents the heart of the Islamic Nation, and any [foreign] control over part of this heart is a stamp on the umma’s illness. There is no doubt, he continues, that the revolutions open a new age, in which the regimes which support the West and Israel fall – Egypt, Tunis and soon Libya, Yemen and Syria. The foundations of Western interests in the Arab countries are shaking. Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, he concludes, said that Israel will come to an end prior to 2027; this date looks far, and may be Israel will come to an end sooner.

Mr. Ghannouchi’s views are not surprising given that his long history of association with extremism and Palestinian terrorism. From 1988-92, the Islamic Committee for Palestine organized conferences and rallies in the United States that featured the leading lights of Islamic extremist movements throughout the world. One example of such a conference took place in Chicago from December 22-25, 1989 and featured Mr. Gahannouchi as a speaker.  Its theme was “Palestine, Intifada, and Horizons of Islamic Renaissance” and other speakers included Abd Al-’Aziz Al’Awda, the “spiritual leader” of Islamic Jihad and Muhammad ‘Umar of Hizb Al-Tahrir, the Islamic Liberation Party.

In 1994, scholar Martin Kramer had reported on Mr. Ghannouchi’s his extremist background:

Assuming a valid distinction can be made between Islamists who are “extremist” and “reformist,” Ghannouchi clearly belongs to the first category. Since his last visit to the United States, he has openly threatened U.S. interests, supported Iraq against the United States and campaigned against the Arab-Israeli peace process. Indeed, Ghannouchi in exile has personified the rejection of U.S. policies, even as he dispatches missives to the State Department.

Kramer also notes the following statement by Mr. Ghannouchi in which he alleges that Jews are behind a “worldwide campaign against Islam”:

The Jews everywhere are behind a worldwide campaign against Islam. Islam and the West could reach an accommodation, he says, were it not for the worldwide machinations of the Jews, who fan the fires of mistrust. Beware the Jews, he admonishes the West: “We Islamists hope that the West is not carried away by the Jewish strategy of linking the future of its relationship with the Islamic world with a war against Islam.

In another article posted that same year on an Islamic website, Mr. Ghannouchi wrote:

Zionism can be seen as hostile to every element rooted in ethical and religious principles (excepting those remnants, which can be exploited as slogans and national myths). It both represents and serves the new existential ethos which transforms the human race into ‘marketing’ and ‘geopolitical’ units which can be deployed, rewarded or punished by the powers that be, who are accountable to no-one save themselves. Zionism, then, nurtured by and in turn nurturing this global pseudo-civilization, represents a secular onslaught on the heart of our Islamic nation. The Islamic project, by contrast, is its polar opposite, representing the hope that human civilization can be rescued from this new worship of the golden calf. To speak of saving Palestine from the Zionists is to speak simultaneously of one’s hope for a global liberation. The ‘Palestinian cause’ does not signify the simple reconquest of a patch of territory occupied by aggressors. It is not even about peace and war; Its implications go much further. For to strike at Zionism in Palestine is to strike at the enemy in its new citadel, which it has constructed at the centre of the world, in the very heart of our Muslim nation, in a land which has always been of unlimited strategic and spiritual fecundity. The West, as a civilization, seems set to extend its influence to the heartland of the Old World, the better to destroy the surviving traces of spiritual resistance which have remained intact there, and finally to obliterate mans remaining hopes for the rebirth of a civilization which is qualitative and humane, rather than quantitative and secular.”

As recently as 2002, Mr. Ghannouchi co-signed a statement that said “The bodies of the men and women of Palestine are shields against the Zionist agenda, which its greater target is to destroy the entire Islamic Ummah.” The statement was also signed by:

  • Mustafa Mashhour, the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood
  • Esam Al Atar, leader of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood
  • Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary General for Hezbollah
  • Ahmed Yassin, the late former spiritual leader of Hamas
Posted on 10/26/2011 6:09 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 26 October 2011
NATO Protected Civilians In Libya Most Selectively

From the BBC:

Gaddafi's home town Sirte blasted into the Dark Ages

Sirte residents return to find their homes destroyed
One of Libya's most modern towns, Sirte has been blasted to smithereens.
 

Across Libya in recent days, people have been partying, crowds gathering in public places and everyone has been looking forward to building a new country after more than 40 years of stifling, dictatorial rule.

Everywhere, it seems, except for Sirte.

I spent much of the last month here in Sirte, Col Muammar Gaddafi's home town - a place he had built up from a position of almost insignificant obscurity to become one of the most modern and well-appointed towns in the country.

For the last two weeks, forces from the new transitional government had bombed and blasted Sirte back into the Dark Ages, as pro-Gaddafi fighters inside the city refused to surrender.

It was to this devastation that the Hassan family returned to over the weekend.

Hoping that they would be able to move into their modest apartment near the beachfront, those hopes were dashed as soon as they saw what was left.

Every single building here bore significant bomb, rocket and bullet damage.

The family home, if you could any longer call it that, had a huge hole in the wall where the living room used to be. There was barely a single item worth salvaging from the rubble.

Bodies in Sirte
People returning to Sirte unzip bags to see if they can recognise the body of a loved one.

A very angry and clearly upset Dr Ahmed Hassan spoke to me briefly before returning with his family to the tent they now sharewith other families from Sirte in the desert, a short drive to the east of the town.

"I am a lecturer at the university here... What did I do to deserve this?" protested the father of five.

He did not admit whether or not he'd been a Gaddafi supporter.

He shrugged his shoulders when I asked him about the scenes of celebration in Benghazi, Tripoli and Misrata.

"I don't really care. We'll see what happens," he said - clearly unconvinced by the path being taken in the "new" Libya.

What to do with Sirte and the hundreds of thousands of people who supported Gaddafi for so long is one of the most important issues for the transitional authorities here.

At the huge rally in Benghazi to mark the end of Libya's civil conflict, speaker after speaker stressed the importance of national reconciliation, and of not allowing the country to fragment along tribal and geographical lines.

Back in Sirte after the battle, the guns may have fallen silent but there is much animosity in the air.

This does not yet feel like a place ready to discuss reconciliation.

One reason why the fighting in Sirte went on for so long and was so fierce is now abundantly clear.

One of Colonel Gaddafi's homes in Sirte
After fleeing Tripoli, for the first few weeks at least, Colonel Gaddafi lived in relative comfort.

Gaddafi had been hiding out here ever since the fall of Tripoli two months ago.

It appears, that in the first few weeks at least, he lived in relative comfort in a large villa in the middle of Sirte.

When I went there, it was well-appointed for a long-term guest; plenty of food still in the cupboards and even an exercise bicycle in the living room.

But even here, the fighting became too intense.

I was then shown a succession of small flats and even cellars where the former leader spent his final days - scurrying between hideouts in Sirte, ultimately unable to escape the ferocity and intensity of the incoming fire.

The town has been blasted to smithereens.

The main road running through the area which saw the worst of the fighting is called Dubai Street. I have rarely seen such a picture of destruction.

Terrible retribution

Some people have more than possessions to pick over and recover.

At one location on the western edge of the city, not far from where Gaddafi's "escape" convoy was halted, I counted 61 bodies laid out in white bags on the dusty desert floor.

Dubai Street in Sirte A picture of destruction - Dubai Street where some of the heaviest fighting took place.

These were Gaddafi's bodyguards and fighters, but they were still husbands and brothers and sons.

A small succession of returning residents carefully zipped open each bag - holding their noses against the overwhelming stench - to see if they could recognise and claim the body of a loved one.

On the other side of the town, days later, at least 50 bodies were found scattered on a patch of grass.

It is thought they were also pro-Gaddafi men - shot dead with their hands tied behind their backs.

Muammar Gaddafi was an undoubted tyrant, whose regime killed and tortured thousands of opponents.

But there is disturbing evidence that, in the bitter final days of this conflict, terrible retribution was taken against many of his supporters, particularly here in Sirte.

A military commander in Sirte, from the National Transitional Council (NTC), told me that the priority here is to stabilise the city from a security perspective, to make sure that all Gaddafi's troops have been captured.

Only then, he added, would they talk about how to rebuild the town but where to start?

This town, where Gaddafi spent billions, will not enjoy such favour and privilege in the new Libya.

Some say that Sirte should not be rebuilt at all but instead left in its destroyed crumbling state as a memorial to Colonel Gaddafi's victims.

 

Posted on 10/26/2011 7:42 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 26 October 2011
The Return Of Islam

From BBC News:

October 26, 2011

Mark Urban

 

What the rise of political Islam is likely to spell

Tunisia's Islamists are claiming victory in their elections and across North Africa political Islam is on the march.

So does this mark a decisive defeat for al-Qaeda and its violent ideology, or perhaps an understanding that the ballot box offers a more effective way to achieve similar goals of society governed by religious principles and subject to Sharia law?

There are probably almost as many answers to that question as there are religious sages in Cairo or Qom.

The parties that campaign for the "green vote" in Tunisia, Libya, or Egypt have different positions on the defining issue of Islamism - whether to govern by religious law or allow different authorities, notably civil courts, to continue.

One thing is clear, that Islamic slogans and political language have great power in this new situation or Arab Spring.

"We, as an Islamic state, have adopted the Islamic Sharia as the main source of legislation," Mustafa Abdul Jalil the chairman of Libya's National Transitional Council said on Sunday, announcing his country's liberation from the rule of Muammar Gaddafi, "as such, any law that runs contrary to the Islamic principles of the Islamic Sharia is legally void".

In the case of Libya, Mr Jalil suggested this meant moving quickly to establish banks based on religious non-profit principles. He did not advocate cutting off the hands of thieves or stoning adulterers.

Elsewhere the presence of non-Muslim minorities, as well as the desire not to scare off foreign investors or tourists has produced different language.

Tunisia's Ennahda Party, which is expected to get about 40% of the vote when all the ballots have been counted, says that it does not believe in adopting religious law.

In Egypt the mainstream Muslim Brotherhood, recognising the concerns of the Coptic Christian minority as well as secular Egyptians who enjoy their freedoms, says it is not seeking to move to Sharia.

The Al Nour party by contrast wants, in the slogans of hundreds of thousands of supporters that we filmed a couple of months ago in Cairo, a "Sharia State Now!"

These parties between them are expected to poll well in November's Egyptian parliamentary elections, possibly even achieving an overall majority.

Critics of the Muslim Brotherhood, and indeed Tunisia's Ennahda, claim that they do really harbour the goal of an Islamic state but are cloaking this ambition in ambiguity as a matter of political expediency.

So does a belief that society, ultimately should be run according to Islamic principles put these politicians in the same ideological boat as al-Qaeda? Or does it make them little different to a US presidential candidate who, as a devout Christian, may hold messianic beliefs but does not expect the Second Coming during his or her term of office?

The other great question that could distinguish the new wave of political Islamists from the hard-liners of al-Qaeda is that of political pluralism - more specifically whether they will be able to relinquish power once they have won it.

Once again the language espoused by Ennahda or even Egypt's Al Nour party is clear; that they will accept the verdict of the ballot box even if they are defeated.

Experience in other parts of the Middle East is more equivocal. Hamas, which won the Palestinian vote in 2006 now appears as reluctant to put its fortunes in Gaza, which it has governed since 2007, to the popular vote as its Fatah rivals do in the West Bank.

Both factions have committed to elections as part of a reconciliation agreement, but the plan has yet to deliver significant results.

In Iraq, where Nouri al-Maliki's Shia grouping actually got fewer seats in the 2010 parliamentary elections than its main rival, he clung to power for months until he was able to out manoeuvre them in coalition negotiations. Mr Maliki remains in office today.

The benign interpretation of the rise of political Islam in North Africa is that it simply reflects a flourishing or religious and national feeling made possible by the removal of dictators who often saw the mosques as dens of sedition.

This repression spawned underground movements that included both the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda. The migration of some prominent believers in violent Jihad to its electoral form - such as Abdul Hakim Belhadj, the Tripoli militia commander - underlines the idea that political movements, like people, evolve.

For the moment most of the professionally sceptical - people like Western intelligence agencies or militaries - are taking the rise of North African political Islam in good faith.

Religious parties look set to win dominant roles in ruling coalitions and it will soon be possible to judge their commitment to minority rights or pluralism by their deeds rather than just their words.

Posted on 10/26/2011 7:58 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 26 October 2011
Michael Totten On The Tunisian Secularists And The "Moderate Islamists"

Just about every report I’ve read describes the Islamists as “moderate.” This is—if I may be blunt—idiotic. They’re moderate compared to what? Hezbollah and Al Qaeda? Sure. But who isn’t?

I’ll accept the notion that Tunisia’s Islamists look slightly moderate next to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood–Tunisia is a much more advanced and liberal society–but that isn’t saying much. The Muslim Brotherhood is not even in the same time zone as any genuinely moderate party the typical Western consumer of news has ever had any experience with.

Tunisia’s secular citizens are by and large suspicious of their Islamist neighbors. I strongly recommend Western readers trust Tunisians more than visiting journalists about who among them is moderate and who isn’t. I, for one, will consider Tunisia’s Islamists a Muslim version of Europe’s conservative Christian Democrats only after they’ve shared power with liberal parties for a decade without showing totalitarian tendencies.

 

Posted on 10/26/2011 8:08 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 26 October 2011
Silenced: The Federalist Society Capitol Hill Conference on Blasphemy and Apostasy, Washington, DC – Nov. 4, 2011

Below is an announcement of The Federalist Society sponsored program on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on November 4th to launch the book: Silenced: How Apostasy & Blasphemy Codes are Choking Freedom Worldwide by Paul Marshall & Nina Shea, Director of the Washington, DC - based Hudson Institute Center for Religious Freedom. The Federalist Society draws attention to a forthcoming meeting between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in early December to ‘implement’ Blasphemy declarations made in Turkey this Summer, see our NER article, Fear, Inc. Among the speakers will be  Bruce Bawer, author of While Europe Slept: How Radical islam is Destroying Europe from Within  and Mark Durie, Australian Anglican  pastor and human rights advocate, whose book, The Third Choice: Islam, Dhimmitude and Freedom, we have reviewed, see here. Given last week’s meetings between US Muslim Brotherhood front groups and officials from the US Department of Justice civil rights officials regarding initiatives that would criminalize criticism of Islam, a patent violation of the First Amendment, there is increasing concern about the denial of bedrock free speech rights in our Constitution by the Obama Administrations.  See our recent post on denial of funding and materials for counterterrorism materials referencing Doctrinal Islam.

We will publish an interview with Shea and a companion review of the book in the November New English Review.

The FEDERALIST SOCIETY's
International & National Security Law Practice Group


Presents:
Silenced: Are Global Trends to Ban Religious Defamation, Religious Insult, and Islamophobia a New Challenge to First Amendment Freedoms?

The 1989 fatwa against Salman Rushdie and the deadly 2006 Danish cartoon riots brought worldwide attention to the issue of Muslim blasphemy bans. Though these events made global headlines, they are only one aspect of the debate about blasphemy bans in recent times. Charges such as "blasphemy," "apostasy," or "insulting Islam" are no longer limited to censoring irreverent caricatures of Islam's prophet, Mohammed. Some maintain that: they are increasingly used as tools by authoritarian governments and others to influence behavior and acquire power.

The West is also now experiencing a move toward new blasphemy standards through bans on "hate speech," "the stereotyping of Islam," and charges of "Islamophobia." The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) within the United Nations and in the European Union has been a visible proponent of hate speech restrictions and other measures. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced that the U.S. government will sponsor a conference with the OIC on how to implement a U.N. resolution combating "negative stereotyping" of Islam, the focus of a recent U.N. resolution. The OIC conference is expected to take place in December in Washington, DC.

Our conference speakers will address the prevalence of trends concerning hate speech and blasphemy laws, and whether they pose a serious threat to the freedoms of citizens of the West, including Muslims, as well as people in OIC member states.

Our conference coincides with the release of Paul Marshall and Nina Shea's book, Silenced (Oxford University Press - Foreword by late Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid).

Registration
9:00a.m. - 9:30 a.m.

Silenced: How Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes are Choking Freedom WorldwideAn Overview by the Authors9:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
Paul Marshall, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom
Nina Shea, Director and Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom

Panel One: The Muslim World
10:00 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.
Prof. David F. Forte, Cleveland State University, Cleveland-Marshall School of Law
Amjad Mahmood Khan, Attorney and National Director of Public Affairs, Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA.
Jacob Mchangama, Director of Legal Affairs, Center for Political Studies (Copenhagen, Denmark)
Samuel Tadros, Research Fellow, Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom

Panel Two: Growing Repression in the West
11:25 a.m. - 12:40 p.m.
Bruce Bawer, Best-Selling Author of While Europe Slept
Paul Diamond, United Kingdom defense attorney in hate speech cases
Rev. Dr. Mark Durie, Vicar, St Mary's Anglican Church (Melbourne, Australia)

Luncheon and Keynote Address:
Where Are the Muslim Moderates?
12:45 p.m. - 2:15 p.m.
The Honorable Naser Khader, former Member, Danish Parliament
Chaired by David B. Rivkin, Jr., Partner, Baker & Hostetler LLP

Date: Friday, November 4, 2011
Time: 9:00 a.m. - 2:15 p.m.
Location: Cannon House Office Building
Cannon Caucus Room
Independence Avenue and First Street, S.E. (Across the Street from Capitol South Metro)
Washington, D.C.

There is no charge to attend this event, but please RSVP, as space is fairly limited.
Lunch will be served.

The Federalist Society
1015 18th Street, NW
Suite 425
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: (202) 822-8138
Fax: (202) 296-8061
[email protected]

 

Posted on 10/26/2011 9:10 AM by Jerry Gordon
Wednesday, 26 October 2011
A Good Thing, or, she scrubs up well

Of Simon Vereist's painting of Nell Gwyn, now exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery, The Times writes:

Her nipple became visible only after restoration.

All the King's Christmases came at once.

Posted on 10/26/2011 1:37 PM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 26 October 2011
Libyan Missiles Now In The Hands Of Hamas

From Ha'aretz:

October 27, 2011

Hamas boosting anti-aircraft arsenal with looted Libyan missiles

Shoulder-fired anti-aicraft missiles have been smuggled into Gaza in recent years at Iran's initiative, but the fall of Muammar Gadhafi's regime has enabled Hamas to bring in much higher quality missiles.

By Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff 

A rocket fired by Palestinians from Gaza last night landed between Ashdod and Gedera, in the first such attack after a two-month period of quiet. Sirens sounded in Ashdod and nearby communities and residents were told to enter protected rooms and shelters. There were no injuries.

Since the terrorist attack on the Egyptian border near Eilat that killed eight on August 18, the Gaza border has been relatively calm with only a few rocket launches, most directed at small communities near the Gaza Strip. Last night's rocket, fired around 11:10 p.m., landed in a field. It seems to have been fired from the northern end of the Gaza Strip, from a distance of about 30-35 kilometers . The explosion was heard clearly all over Ashdod, which means it had a relatively large warhead.

Fatah and Hamas May 4 2011

Jubilant Palestinians releasing balloons in the colors of the Palestinian flag during a rally. Photo by: AP

It was not clear last night which Palestinian organization fired the rocket, though Israeli intelligence officials believed that in recent months Hamas had little incentive to launch such attacks and cause an escalation. It is possible a small faction fired the rocket in defiance of Hamas, which is trying to leverage its success in freeing prisoners in the Gilad Shalit swap.

The improved quality of anti-aircraft missiles held by Hamas in Gaza is increasingly worrying the Israeli defense establishment. Hamas recently managed to smuggle relatively advanced Russian missiles, which were looted from Libyan military warehouses, into the Gaza Strip. Israel is worried about the presence of the missiles, both because they curb the air force's almost unlimited freedom of movement over Gaza today, and because of their possible use against civil aviation in Eilat.

Shoulder-fired anti-aicraft missiles have been smuggled into Gaza in recent years at Iran's initiative. But the fall of Muammar Gadhafi's regime has enabled Hamas to bring in much higher quality missiles - and in much larger quantities.

Rings of smugglers utilized the riots in Libya to break into military storage facilities and steal large quantities of weapons, some of which have relatively advanced capabilities. The weapons were then sold to terrorist organizations, first and foremost to various Palestinian factions. It seems that extremist Islamist organizations in Somalia also bought large quantities of weapons.

The United States is also worried by the developments. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who visited Libya last week, announced the U.S. would grant the new Libyan regime millions of dollars in aid in an attempt to fight the arms smuggling. American experts expressed their fears in particular over the transfer of shoulder-launched missiles to terrorists, and said the aid was intended to allow the Libyans to locate where such weapons are stored - and destroy them.

There have been previous reports of the smuggling of Russian SA-7 anti-aircraft missiles into Gaza. Now there are reports of more advanced missiles.

A few weeks ago, the cabinet discussed the issue of protecting civilian aviation in Eilat, including the possible purchase of systems to defend planes against anti-aircraft missiles. The issue has been put off for nine years since the failed attempt by an al-Qaida faction to shoot down an Israeli passenger plane in Mombasa, Kenya.

In the August 18 battle between the IDF and terrorists, the terrorists fired a missile at an Israeli attack helicopter. The missile missed. But the Air Force has been operating for a number of years over Gaza on the assumption that various Palestinian factions possess anti-aircraft missiles.

The anarchy in Sinai in recent months has allowed the Palestinians in Gaza to operate almost without interference, and improve their training and weaponry.

 

Posted on 10/26/2011 10:23 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 26 October 2011
The Hyper-Respectable Rajat Gupta, And His Dream

A star student at Harvard Business School, head of McKinsey at 45, thought highly of by Kofi Annan, and Lloyd Blankfein, and Henry Kravis, and the Rockefellers, and several corporations who were quick to appoint him to their board.

And a man maddened by envy and greed. For that was his world. That was the world of all those around him.

From a story in the New York Times, Oct. 27, 2011:

When he stepped down from McKinsey in 2003, Mr. Gupta used the reputation — and peerless Rolodex — that he had built at the firm.

Kofi A. Annan, the former secretary general of the United Nations, appointed him to advise the international organization on management reform. The Rockefeller Foundation named him a trustee. Some of America’s top companies recruited him for their boards, including Procter & Gamble, the consumer products giant; AMR, the parent of American Airlines; and Goldman Sachs.

“Over his 32-year career, Rajat Gupta has been a valued source of counsel to institutions, governments and business leaders around the world,” said Lloyd C. Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman, in a November 2006 statement announcing Mr. Gupta’s election to the board. “Our shareholders will be fortunate to have his strategic and operational expertise and judgment.”

Mr. Gupta’s directorship at Goldman was part of his aggressive push away from management consulting and into the more lucrative arena of Wall Street. In 2007, he started a private equity firm, New Silk Route, that focused on Indian investments. One of his original partners on the New Silk Route deal was Mr. Rajaratnam. A Sri Lankan native, Mr. Rajaratnam met Mr. Gupta through their philanthropic work. The two men, both pillars of New York’s South Asian immigrant business community, became fast friends.

Mr. Gupta had a number of hedge fund and private equity investments, including several with Mr. Rajaratnam’s Galleon firm. Around that time, Mr. Gupta was weighing a position at the private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. On a taped call played during Mr. Rajaratnam’s trial, Mr. Rajaratnam and a friend gossiped about what they saw as the materialistic ambitions of Mr. Gupta, who lives with his wife in a waterfront mansion in Westport, Conn, where they raised four daughters.

“Here he sees an opportunity to make a hundred million dollars over the next five years, or 10 years, without doing a lot of work,” Mr. Rajaratnam said.

Posted on 10/26/2011 10:31 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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