These are all the Blogs posted on Thursday, 27, 2012.
Thursday, 27 December 2012
Anjem Choudary at St Paul's Cathedral on Christmas Eve.
Dear, dear, old Anjem Choudary decided that Christmas Eve outside St Paul’s Cathedral, with Holy Communion and Carol Services being celebrated inside, was an ideal opportunity to preach to Londoners on the subject that Our Saviour Jesus Christ was a (third rate) Prophet of Islam and not the Son of God.
I couldn’t attend but a small party from London Division did mount a discreet operation to observe and record. I wasn’t going to spoil our Christmas by posting it immediately, or yours expecting you to read it. There’s time enough today.
There is a video and a selection of still photographs.
Anjem did the main interviews while his veiled women tried to engage the public.
Notice that women are less than 2nd class in Islam - deficient, their evidence worth half that of a mans . . .BUT . . . when it comes to da'wa, insulting the public, the women are pushed to the front. Because they know that members of the British public, (and include in that foreign tourists) who might find this sort of thing offensive outside a Christian church at Christmas, are unlikely to harm a woman, especially one with children. The board is all about 'David Cameron's Wicked Christian Country'.
I can’t imagine why they think that women who won’t do you the courtesy of speaking to you face to face are good people to engage with the public.
People were remonstrating with the Islamic group. They went too far with one German tourist when they tried to take him by the arm. He asked the police to intervene but the police declined to take any action despite this being a situation where you could envisage a breach of the peace occurring. Others intending to worship at St Paul's had also complained to the Police but to no avail.
Of course by proselyting outside a Cathedral, Choudary and his followers were also claiming the space at sacred to Islam, and we know that land once claimed for Islam, remains Islam's forevermore.
Photographers attached to the Demotix website also photographed the scene and their work can be viewed here and here.
Finally the Lord Himself took action and a mighty wind blew away the Islamic table, to the laughter and cheers of the visitors to London’s best known Anglican Cathedral.
As the police took no action I assume now that a similar group of Chistians could assemble outside, say, the East London Mosque in Whitechapel next year near during one of the festivals of Eid. It will be fine to tell them that Mohammed has proved himself to be one of the false prophets that Jesus Christ warned us about, that would come after him. Matthew 7.15, 'By their fruits shall ye know them'. And Mohammed’s fruits are that he was by a paedophile and a warlord.
During the 19th and early 20th century the churches were very concerned that the East End was ‘in darkness’ as mentioned in the the passage of Isaiah (9.2) that predicted the birth of the Saviour. They set up missions like the Mildmay Mission Hospital, youth clubs, settlements like that of St Hilda’s founded in 1889 by the Cheltenham Ladies college. These organisations did useful work, some of which helped my family, but they also preached the Gospel. The useful work continues, St Hilda’s now runs as a Bengali Elder care centre, but the Gospel is not part of it. And I think many of the new residents of the East End are more ‘people who walk in darkness’ than my grandparents and their neighbours ever were.
I know evangelists who have the faith, the ability, and the support of the Holy Spirit to attempt this work. I don’t have it, but they do. But the churches, Anglican, Catholic, Methodist must find the courage to send them with appropriate material support. That is my personal opinion and not everyone will share it.
Christmas Eve set the precedent. I pray the new Archbishop of Canterbury will show the will.
PVV leader Geert Wilders is to step up his campaign against Islam in 2013, "Next to all things about Europe and the economic situation the people will hear from our resistance against the 'Islamization' of the Netherlands," Wilders told Dutch TV channel NOS in an interview. The fight against Islam is a mission for life, Wilders told the broadcaster.
Wilders said he would step up his fight against ‘the biggest sickness’ the Netherlands has had at home and internationally, ‘from Australia to America, from Switzerland to wherever.’
He also noted a "Moroccan problem," referring to the recent death of a soccer linesman who was attacked by some young people of Moroccan origin, and one of Antillean descent. It is Moroccan racism that they rarely rob each other he said.
Police say an Indian student in Germany has been attacked and injured by suspected Islamic extremists who accosted him and demanded that he convert to Islam.
Police spokesman Frank Piontek said on Thursday that two attackers in the western German city of Bonn severely beat the 24-year-old and then slashed his tongue with a knife. Police say the attackers walked up to the student in a city street late Monday and demanded that he convert to Islam then beat him up after he refused to do so.
The Bonn police's department for politically motivated crimes is investigating. The student was treated in hospital and later released.
From (admittedly far-left blame-the-West and generally nasty) Counterpunch:
November 2-4, 2012
'Tolerant' Indonesia “Shi’a Blood is Halal!”
by ANDRE VLTCHEK AND ROSSIE INDIRA
As darkness hastily falls on the heart of Madura Island, uniquely shaped traditional wooden houses and hamlets begin to throw long shadows in an eastward direction. Traffic, which during the day is extremely light by Indonesian standards, is now ceasing entirely. Just a few noisy scooters remain on the road, avoiding the poor peasants slowly dragging their tired feet home from the fields.
Almost no one here speaks Bahasa Indonesia– the official language that was supposed to unite this sprawling archipelago, during and after the declaration of independence from the ruthless Dutch colonial rulers. The local languages and dialects are unfortunately unintelligible to all three of us – occupants of the car. Even our driver, a native from Surabaya, the second largest Indonesian city which is spreading its suburbs on the opposite shore right across the narrow strait, and only a few minutes ferry ride from Madura, understands close to nothing when the natives speak.
We ask for directions, we receive unintelligible answers; we don’t know whether we are on the right track.
But then the powerful lights penetrate the dusk, and we see dozens of police trucks, like ghosts, appearing from nowhere, at the side of the road.
“Where are you going?”
There is no point in pretending. We are going to…, we are searching for the Shi’a village, a hamlet, called Nangkernang that was recently attacked, and savagely destroyed by local Sunni religious bigots.
“It is not safe and you can’t go there”, explains an officer who appears to be in charge. “And it is far…” He waves his hand; he waves ahead, somewhere towards the great distance.
We talk, we argue, but security forces are giving us clear orders: We can drive straight on, but without leaving the main road.
At the next village, we ask and miraculously we are understood. We are told that the path to the destroyed village begins right where the police vans are parked. “They lied to you. Just leave the car here, rent two motorbikes and one local guide and go back”.
We do exactly that. We hire two shaky scooters, one driven by a kid who could not be older than fourteen, and the other one, by an old man. Our lights are turned off and we manage to pass unnoticed near the police post. Then we turn into a tight path between two rice fields. There is a narrow, wooden, half destroyed bridge and a creek below: all of that could be sensed in almost absolute darkness, but hardly seen. From here we have to abandon our stinky two-wheelers and walk.
The village is called Nangkernang, Karang Gayam, and the nearest city is Sampang, a one hour drive away, and on the coast. To our surprise, the village has at least some weak and unsteady supply of electricity.
We are expected here. Reluctantly we all introduce ourselves.
Then we are shown the devastation: dozens of houses totally ruined, burned down. And these were not just some small houses, but entire hamlets. The nearest house is right in front of a small wooden platform where we sit and talk, and it used to belong to a Shi’a imam.
Pak (Mr) Sinal, is a man of about 50 years old, who speaks to us, hesitantly:
“I myself am a Shi’a, but now I keep it hushed. There are approximately 50 houses belonging to Shi’a people that were burned and destroyed on 26 August 2012. One person died after being attacked with a machete. From what I know, one family, that of Ustadz Tajul, was driving in a minivan to Sampang jail. On the way, they were harassed by a group of Sunnis. The family decided to return, but the gang followed them all the way to the village. One of the perpetrators called for reinforcements and soon more than one thousand people gathered, and eventually attacked the Shi’a community. They burned and destroyed houses here, they killed and injured people.”
Just as the children and adults were beginning to relax, a man walked briskly up towards the platform. Everyone fell silent. The village is mixed: Sunni and Shia, living side by side. In August, it was the locals, not just those coming from outside, that attacked their neighbors.
On the way back to Surabaya, the driver begins telling a long and complicated tale about two brothers, two imams – one Shia and one Sunni. The Sunni imam apparently fell in love with a girl from a local boarding Shia school. His brother interfered and married the girl off to a boy of her own age.
“The Sunni imam was so angry, that he began agitating the crowd against his own brother, and the violence erupted.”
I have covered enough conflicts all over Indonesia, to know their simple and true causes – racism, intolerance and bigotry – are never accepted here. There is always some ‘unpaid bus fare’, just as in Ambon, or an obscure love story, or at least a bunch of ‘provocateurs’ triggering violence.
The reality is simple and terrible: since the 1960s, Indonesia has lived through at least 3 genocides: that of 1965/66, in which between 2 and 3 million people died as a result of the Western-backed military coup against President Sukarno and the moderate and constitutional PKI (the Communist Party of Indonesia, which was widely expected to win the elections), the genocide in East Timor, in which approximately 30% of the local people lost their lives, and the ongoing genocide in West Papua.
The religion of the majority played a decisive role in all these ‘events’. In 1965, as was confirmed by our friend, the former progressive President of Indonesia, Abdurrahman Wahid (‘Gus Dur’), the religious cadres joined the military in an indiscriminate slaughter of ‘atheists’; killing members of the PKI, intellectuals and members of the Chinese minority. East Timor and Papua, two Christian and animist nations had been put through forced Islamization and unimaginable discrimination and horrors. Papua is suffering; literally bleeding into extinction, until this very day.
But the West insists that Indonesia is a ‘tolerant’ nation, and even an example that should be followed by the leaders of the Arab Spring.
Who can ever forget the memorable phrase that Hilary Clinton dropped, while visiting Indonesia, in the same period when the secularists were being assaulted and beaten by the Islamic Defender’s Front, in front of the idle police standing by, as sharia law was unconstitutionally imposed on several pockets of West Java and elsewhere, as the members of Ahmadiyah sect were being murdered, churches burnt, and non-Muslims brutally attacked, harassed and punished for their beliefs, all over the archipelago: “If you want to know if Islam, democracy, modernity and women’s rights can coexist, go to Indonesia.”
Why would she utter such unfounded chimeras?
The answer is obvious: because the West in general and the US in particular, are infinitely grateful to this fourth most populous country on earth; grateful for murdering the Communists and members of Chinese minority, for murdering intellectuals, artists, and teachers.
Grateful to the Indonesian religious cadres that went to fight the Soviet Union and its client secular government in Afghanistan (who in the West would even imagine tolerating women in Kabul being educated and empowered under Russian rule?), joining the Mujahedin, Pakistani jihadis and intelligence forces, as well as foreign legionnaires paid for by the West (including those embryonic cells of the future Al Qaida); all united and most of them stoned, putting an end to the only relatively hopeful period of modern Afghan history, while helping to bleed the USSR to extinction, militarily and financially!
And let us not forget how grateful the West is to the Indonesian people for allowing their natural resources to be plundered by multi-national companies, and by their own corrupt elites!
What would the West do without obedient countries like Indonesia: how could it maintain its ridiculously high level of consumption and its standard of living? And isn’t obedience a basis of any religious and feudal society?
In Indonesia there is a clear paradox: most of the people think that the country is tolerant and moderate; they are quoting Western politicians and Western mass media. In the meantime the number of deaths caused by intolerance and bigotry is mounting.
“The problem with the majority of Indonesian Muslims is that they don’t have their own opinion. They follow what their leaders say, or follow what the Qur’an says, or what the hadiths say. They don’t exercise critical thinking at all. Therefore, when their leaders say; we are moderate and tolerant followers of Islam, most of the believers will say yes and think that is the case”, explained Noor Huda Ismail, Muslim thinker, analyst and an author of the book “My Friend a Terrorist”.
The covered tennis court in the city of Sampang, is where the refugees from the area that we earlier visited, had been given temporary shelter. There are armored vehicles parked at the gate and security personnel, that don’t allow anyone to enter.
We ‘gate crash’; park the car and I dash in, with a total disregard for the shouts and attempts to stop me – hardened by my work in the refugee camps of DR Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Turkey.
Here, refugees talk. They are outraged, and hurt. It feels like they have nothing to lose:
“We feel damaged, angry and disappointed, and we hold the government responsible”, explains a young man– Nur Kholis. “Our rights were stolen from us. We did nothing wrong to those who killed and destroyed us.”
“We are now waiting for justice. As the Shia minority, we are discriminated against.
We only have a few differences with Sunnis, and there is no reason for conflict. We always have to remember that we have more similarities than differences. But Shi’a people are now called kafirs; we are labeled as najis. They say that, Shi’a people change wives like animals. All these are lies, but people here believe it.”
And then he, in his own words, comes to the same conclusion as Nur Huda Ismail:
“Madurese believe what their big Imams say. There is no questioning them, even if they are wrong and obviously totally corrupt! Do you know that MUI Sampang (The Council of Ulemas in Sampang) issued a fatwa (Islamic edict), that Shia teaching is squarely misguided and heretic? The government did nothing! And now they want us to leave, instead of returning home; they are trying to relocate us to another island – far away Sulawesi!”
Hanny, a sister of two Imams who were in a dispute over the fate of the girl from boarding school, is even more explicit:
“I think that the majority of the people of Madura know very little about the differences between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims. But their Imams told them that the teaching of Shia is heretic, un-Islamic and that the Sunni teachings are the only correct ones. Sunni Imams want us to disappear from Madura Island; we are becoming political refugees. For them, the violence directed at us is justifiable; it is halal because they think we are like dirt, like shit, haram, najis. I saw one of the attackers, Seniwan, at the police station when he was detained. Later I was told that he was seen at the market! Maybe he has a double…” she adds sarcastically.
During the interviews with the victims, I film and photograph the refugees. An old couple catches my eye. A woman and a man radiate terrible grief. I don’t know what it is that I feel, but it is almost as if my hand, holding the camera, keeps turning the lens towards them. I follow my instinct and begin photographing, discreetly, somehow embarrassed. A woman moves. She utters a heart-wrenching sound. I suddenly have goose bumps on my back.
“Who are they?” I ask Hanny. “Who is she?”
“She is the mother of a man who was killed… they are his parents”, she replies.
As always, in such situations, a short stab of hopelessness is soon replaced with a desire to inform, and to change things.
I bow to an old woman and go back to work.
Two young women, two Shi’a teachers, are literally holed in their girl’s boarding school. They are so cute, defenseless and kind-hearted, that I instantly feel these could be two women I would like to have as my sisters.
But they are tough. They know that they are besieged, in danger, and exposed, but they do not abandon their posts.
Across the road is a small Sunni mosque, a mussola, full of heavy guns pointing at the Shi’a boarding school. ‘Guns’ consist of powerful loudspeakers, and of being part of the overwhelming Sunni majority, that is showered with money from the Gulf.
Naila Zakiyah, is a lecturer at the Shi’a school for girls: Al Mahadul Islami:
“In a light of recent events, we are naturally worried about the safety of our students. We are supposed to educate girls here, but there is a group of people that is trying to undermine our efforts… Yes, we feel discriminated against… Before this year’s Ramadhan, the mussola Al Anwar from across the street broadcasted their sermon twice a week. They had their loudspeakers directed towards our school. They were shouting that Shi’a teaching is misguided, and that our blood is haram. It is said that those who are attacking us, are being funded by money from Saudi Arabia. I don’t have any proof but that is what people say. In 2007, there were 500 people demonstrating in front of our boarding school; that time the funds came from KSA. Each person was given US$2. These were uneducated people; I doubt they knew what they were being used for.”
The teachers and us exchanged mobile numbers, and then we simply crossed the road, and went directly to their torturers; to men known for shooting hate-coated verbal missiles towards those nice Shi’a teachers and their students. We marched to the Mushala Al Anwar, and fetched Mr. Atoilah.
While somehow embarrassed whilst visiting the Shi’a boarding school, I suddenly felt extremely halal here, with my US passport sticking out from my pocket. I was aware that I was entering a territory that was so kindly embraced and caressed by Wahhabi wisdom and by its guardian, the KSA – one of the closest allies of our dear and gentle, starred and striped Empire.
Mr. Atoilah was at first surprised by our interest, then he played shy, but by the end he regained his natural militant and boorish self, and as expected, went ballistic:
“The teaching of Shi’a deviates from Islamic teaching; therefore we have so many essential differences. The Shi’a minority once promised that they will convert to Sunni, but they lied to us… And so it seemed that we couldn’t talk to them in a subtle way, anymore. If they don’t want to convert, then we have to use violence. In our opinion, they are kafir. We will not be at peace with them until we die, even if our lives are at stake. They have already insulted Islam! If the police do not take action against the Shi’a, we will resort to violence.”
He produces an amateur brochure, a photocopy of a pamphlet proclaiming, “The Truth About Shi’a” on its cover.
“Here, read this”, he hands us a copy. Sponsored by LPPI (Institute for Islamic Research and Study) based in Jakarta, it reads. Then he adds: “We are part of NU, you know.”
NU is one of the biggest, if not the biggest independent Muslim organization in the world, with an estimated membership base of 30 million people.
“Astaga”, we think; which could be loosely translated as ‘Oh damn it!’
Mr. Atoilah is smiling, victoriously.
People from the Shiite minority are petrified. Many are now practicing their faith in secret; most of them keep it to themselves. Even in the big cities, it is now difficult to make people go on record and identify themselves as Shi’a.
It is said that there are approximately 1 million Shi’a Muslims in Indonesia, an official number, quoted by the Indonesian press. But at all the religious Shi’a schools that we visited, teachers laugh at those numbers. They say that there are several millions of their brothers and sisters all over the archipelago, although nobody bothers to keep a count. And despite the persecution, their numbers are growing.
Naturally those millions cannot count on the protection of the State, and, the same can be said about the other religious and ethnic minorities. In Indonesia the majority rules, and it rules ruthlessly.
Here, the assassins go free and the victims end up in prisons.
According to the Jakarta Globe, it was actually two people, not one, killed on August 2012. As was reported one day later:
Around 30 Shi’ites, most of them children, were traveling from Nangkernang village… they were stopped by around 500 men from the mainstream Muslim groups…”, said Umi Kutsum, who was at the scene… “Two people died,” she said. “Five were wounded as they were trying to protect the women and children. I was petrified… The mob had swords and machetes…” Among the group, were Umi’s children, who were taken away from her. The mob then torched four homes belonging to the Shi’ite community, including one belonging to Umi and her husband, the Shia cleric Tajul Muluk…”
The August attack was the second one in this area. On December 29, 2011, hard-line Muslim groups burned down hundreds of homes in and around Nangkernang, displacing around 500 people. The Shia Islamic School was destroyed, as well.
In a move that illustrates the ‘impartiality’ of the Indonesian justice system, instead of pursuing the mob leaders (everybody in the area knows who they are), the police instead charged a Shia cleric with blasphemy. And, as was even reported by the Jakarta Globe, the Ministry of Religious Affairs office in Sampang, said it would ‘supervise’ hundreds of Shia to learn Sunni Islam.
That proved too much for some.
On 13 July 2012 Amnesty International released its report Indonesia: Shi’a leader imprisoned for blasphemy must be released:
The Indonesian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Tajul Muluk, a Shi’a Muslim religious leader from East Java, who was today sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for blasphemy by the Sampang District Court. Amnesty International considers Tajul Muluk to be a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
Tajul Muluk was displaced with over 300 other Shi’a villagers on 29 December 2011, when an anti-Shi’a mob of some 500 people attacked and burned houses, a boarding school and a Shi’a place of worship in Nangkrenang village, Sampang, Madura island. Only one person was charged and sentenced to three months’ imprisonment for the attacks.
Afterwards most of the Shi’a displaced by the attack returned to Nangkrenang village. But Tajul Muluk and about 20 other villagers, including his family, were prevented from returning to the village by the attackers, who reportedly threatened to kill them if they returned, and by the police.
On 1 January 2012 a religious decree (fatwa) was issued by the Sampang branch of the Indonesia Ulema Council (MUI) about what they described as Tajul Muluk’s “deviant teachings”, and two days later a police report was filed against him. On 16 March, the East Java regional police charged Tajul Muluk with blasphemy under Article 156(a) of the Indonesian Criminal Code, and with “offensive actions” under Article 335 of the Code.
New York-based Human Rights Watch joined those who called on the government to drop all the charges against Tajul Muluk.
The Indonesian government, stubbornly and defiantly, did absolutely nothing.
As it has been doing for years, it silently sided with the religious bigots.
A leading Indonesian fiction writer and journalist, Linda Christanty, is one of the few who is willing to speak about the conflict:
“The Wahabbis from Saudi Arabia are very much against the Shi’a… One of the reasons is because they revere the Prophet Muhammad. For Wahabbis, it is forbidden to venerate any human being, including Muhammad. KSA actually even wanted to destroy Muhammad’s grave. None of the Arab countries dared to oppose the plan. Turkey was the only country that interfered, and threatened Saudi Arabia with total destruction should they dare to destroy Muhammad’s grave. That’s why we can still see Muhammad’s grave, thanks to Turkey.”
But this is not just about religious differences. It is increasingly clear, that proud and independent-minded Shi’a are opposing Western imperialism in the Middle East, in the Gulf and elsewhere. Predominantly Shi’a Iran is now the arch-enemy of the West, and the ally of progressive Latin America. Saudi and Qatari cadres, and their clients are targeting Shi’a in KSA, Bahrain, and also in Turkey, and it seems now, in Indonesia as well.
In a short interview, Prof. Azyumardi Azra, a director of the Graduate School of State Islamic University in Jakarta, explained:
“Since the early 1980s, Saudi Arabia with their Wahabbism, using some Indonesian alumni from Saudi Arabia, has tried to destroy Shi’a teaching, but they haven’t been successful. And not all of these alumni are against Shia. Many of them belong to moderate streams of Muslim scholars here, such as the previous Minister of Religious Affairs, Said Agil Husin Al Munawar.”
It is true about the previous Minister, but what he did not say, is that the present Minister of Religious Affairs, Suryadharma Ali throws pearls that could hardly be matched by his counterparts in other countries: “Converting Shiite Muslims to the Sunni Islam followed by most Indonesians would be the best way to prevent violent outbreaks…”
More brutal is the rule of the majority in Indonesia; more difficult it is to find people willing and ready to speak up about injustice. Mr. Sangaji from Jakarta is one of the few Shiites willing to go on record:
“There were many attacks on the Shi’a community, in the last few years here in Indonesia. It is so unfortunate that our Sunni brothers and sisters have little knowledge about Shi’a. But whenever we open the door for dialogue, they shut it in our face and refuse to come in. Our Shi’a intellectuals are always ready for a peaceful dialogue… Of course I feel discriminated against… “
“Is there any influence from abroad? It is not really allowed to discuss this issue openly, but one should always be on alert, as there is always such a possibility. Our country is in a deep crisis, economically and politically; reforms have failed. Indonesians are now so easily influenced.”
Before leaving Madura, driving towards the new bridge, we see the same scenes as in most of the poor parts of the country. Destitution and misery next to tremendous new mosques, some still under the construction, made of marble and granite. Who pays for them? Who needs all that marble when the children run barefoot?
At Surabaya airport we spotted two jumbo-jets; two Boeing 747-400 belonging to Saudi Airlines – one arriving and one leaving – taking pilgrims to Haj. What else comes and what else leaves with these airplanes? For years, almost everything in Indonesia is for sale. Since 1965, the lives of victims ceased to matter; the lives of the weak and of the minorities became worthless.
Last year I visited the enormous Syekh Muhammad Kholil Mosque, in the city of Bangkalan, on Madura Island – built like some lavish palace in the Gulf. I found the caretaker – Mohammad Hasan – and asked him what he thought about then recent events in West and Central Java, where members of the Ahmadiyah sect were lynched to death, and churches burned. Without hesitation, he replied, straight to my face:
“Ahmadiyah members should be killed. It is about faith. In Indonesia, we don’t want Ahmadiyah because it deviates from the teaching of the sharia. They deserved to be killed because they are destroying the true faith of the people. When it comes to burning churches, I am against it. We are a peaceful religion.”
I felt like bowing in front of such humanism, ‘tolerance’ and ‘moderation’.
And I felt like sending a letter to the State Department saying: “Congratulations! You did to Indonesia what you could have never done to Vietnam, you and your bearded clients in the Gulf. It is not just that the country is being plundered, miserable and corrupt, and its environment ruined. But you have also destroyed their entire civilization, and now the people of this once great Asian culture – once really tolerant and deep – are listening to your pop, stuffing themselves on your fast food, driving your cars, and murder each other over religion and ethnicity. Congratulations, really! Another nation down the drain! And who is next?”
*Photos by Andre Vltchek
Andre Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific – Oceania – is published by Lulu . His provocative book about post-Suharto Indonesia and market-fundamentalist model is called “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear” (Pluto). After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and Africa. He can be reached through his website.
Rossie Indira is an independent writer, architect and consultant. Her latest book ‘Surat Dari Bude Ocie’ is about her travel to Latin American countries. With Andre Vltchek, she co-written ‘Exile’, a book of conversation with Pramoedya Ananta Toer. She was production manager and translator of 89-minute documentary film ‘Terlena – Breaking of a Nation’. Rossie lives in Indonesia.
“You’ve been with the professors
And they’ve all liked your looks
With great lawyers you have
Discussed lepers and crooks….
You’re very well read
It’s well known
Yet something is happening here
But you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?
–Bob Dylan, “Ballad of a Thin Man”
The entertainment director on the ship of fools that constitutes so much mainstream analysis of the Middle East—I refer, of course, to Thomas Friedman—has produced a wonderful paragraph that beautifully characterizes the problem, exquisitely expressing a Western mentality that not only makes it impossible to understand the Middle East but even to set up the question in a way people that could help people even begin to confront the truth. So perhaps it is worth disassembling. Sound like fun? Let’s go!
The paragraph is from an article entitled, “Egypt – The next India or the next Pakistan?” And that’s the first problem. Analogies are no substitute to understanding the specific reality of a country and culture, its history and balance of forces that shape the local political culture. You don’t understand Egypt by comparing it to India or Pakistan—very different places indeed—but by examining Egypt itself.
Let me first quote the entire paragraph and then deal with it a bit at a time. Here’s the whole thing:
“Yes, democracy matters. But the ruling Muslim Brotherhood needs to understand that democracy is so much more than just winning an election. It is nurturing a culture of inclusion, and of peaceful dialogue, where respect for leaders is earned by surprising opponents with compromises rather than dictates….More than anything, Egypt now needs to develop that kind of culture of dialogue, of peaceful and respectful arguing — it was totally suppressed under Mubarak — rather than rock-throwing, boycotting, conspiracy-mongering and waiting for America to denounce one side or the other, which has characterized too much of the postrevolutionary political scene. Elections without that culture are like a computer without software. It just doesn’t work.”
I will now go a sentence at a time.
“Yes, democracy matters.” It is strangely ironic that suddenly democracy has become the main issue shaping the American debate over the Middle East. When President Jimmy Carter in 1978 called for democracy in the shah’s Iran that call might have played some role in setting off a revolution that didn’t turn out too well. After a hiatus—due in part to that debacle—the democracy issue returned under President George W. Bush. The people who pushed that idea became known as “neoconservatives” and were absolutely loathed, even demonized, by liberals and the left.
Now this idea that democracy would solve the region’s problems was indeed a bad one, having failed in Iran, been (perhaps unfairly) ridiculed in Iraq, and become a deadly joke in Afghanistan. Yet suddenly the left adapted the conception of the man they most hated in the world! And nobody in the mainstream debate even remarked on that rather obvious point! Thus, we get the Obama policy based on a Bush idea. Except while Bush’s approach worked acceptably in Iraq because the extremists were defeated militarily, [even to use the word "extremists" is to show that the lesson-giver, Michael Rubin, also needs lessons, though hardly as many as does Tom Friedman] Obama’s approach helped put the radicals into power in Egypt and will soon do so in Syria.
One would think Friedman would continue by explaining that strategic interests are more important for U.S. policy than formal democracy. Nope. Instead, he assumes that democracy is or should be everyone’s goal:
“But the ruling Muslim Brotherhood needs to understand that democracy is so much more than just winning an election.”
Whenever an article or editorial contains the words “needs to understand” you know that’s trouble. For one thing this phrase often means that some Western pipsqueak whose most strenuous activity is hailing a taxi is lecturing men ready to commit mass murder and crush their opponents under a hobnailed boot. By the way, the Muslim Brotherhood is unlikely to heed the advice and will be no worse off for doing so.
Yet this also raises another intriguing issue: Why “must” they do so? Suppose staying in power, establishing a dictatorship, and chopping off various body parts of those who don’t live the way they decree is their goal? Suppose they already know that “democracy is so much more than just wining an election” but couldn’t care less? And what will the columnist, op-ed writer, or editorial scribe do to them if the Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t heed his advice? Experience shows these people won’t even use mean words in response. What a joke.
Doesn’t Friedman know that Obama’s hero and guru, Turkish Prime Minister Mehdi Erdogan, has said that democracy is like a streetcar and you just have to decide where you want to get off? Hint: You get off as soon as possible after you’ve won the election.
“It [democracy] is nurturing a culture of inclusion, and of peaceful dialogue, where respect for leaders is earned by surprising opponents with compromises rather than dictates.”
At this point I must tell a story I once heard from a former member of a motorcycle gang, though I cannot attest to whether or not it actually happened. There was a really dangerous criminal motorcycle gang (it made Hell’s Angels look like Obama’s Ostriches) and the local police decided something must be done. They picked a young policeman to infiltrate the gang and dressed him accordingly.
The undercover cop met the gang and tried to join. Suspicious, they asked him a question: What is the meaning of these ribbons we wear? The symbolism involved various kinds of murder, rape, and various acts I won’t describe for a family audience but each one had a very specific significance. Unfortunately, the policeman hadn’t been briefed on this and after a long pause he answered, “I thought they were just decorations.” I won’t describe his fate.
That is sort of like Friedman and various others thinking they can teach revolutionaries willing to commit genocide how to play nice. They don’t understand the significance of what these radicals say and do. Indeed, they don’t understand that what they say–especially in Arabic–is significant at all. These tough guys aren’t interested in inclusion, political dialogue, or “surprising” opponents by giving them presents under their tree. No. They are interested in seizing state power and exercising total power. They are ready to order others to martyrdom and in some cases to be martyrs themselves. They are ready to deliberately and coolly order what happened in that Connecticut elementary school many times over. The only limitation on that behavior is a consideration of whether or not it will help their cause.
They don’t care whether the New York Times or some other American newspaper they don’t read is going to scold them. In fact, if they do know what’s in this mass media they understand that no matter what they do they are more likely to have it explained away more than criticized.
Shouldn’t we recognize that reality rather than lecture them on playground comportment?
“More than anything, Egypt now needs to develop that kind of culture of dialogue, of peaceful and respectful arguing — it was totally suppressed under Mubarak — rather than rock-throwing, boycotting, conspiracy-mongering and waiting for America to denounce one side or the other, which has characterized too much of the post-revolutionary political scene.”
Why does Egypt “need” that? One might argue that it needs such a system to be most effective at being a truly democratic society whose supposed top priority at home is increasing living standards and abroad is living in peace with its neighbors. The full answer to that question lies beyond my space limits but briefly: that might not work in Egypt; the people who think it would work lose all of the elections; if you try to implement such a system you are far more likely to be overthrown or face chaos. Suppose you have no way to solve your country’s social and economic problems. It then makes more sense to stir up passionate hatred of “the other”; distract attention from your own failings by blaming foreigners for the problems; and engage in aggression abroad so the masses can blow off steam and get some loot. Ironically, this is the kind of thing that Western radicals claim leaders of their own countries have done. It is amazing that they never seem to notice this is how Arab dictators have repeatedly felt a “need” to do in the past.
Also, whatever Mubarak’s shortcomings, there was a lot more dialogue and peaceful arguing under his reign then in any Islamist state or in Syria and Iraq under radical nationalist regimes. This line of argument that is all too familiar from the left in assuming that pro-American dictators are more brutally repressive than anti-American dictators. Usually, the truth is the opposite.
And then at the end, Friedman admits that the post-revolutionary political scene has not been so great. Should this have been a surprise or wasn’t it painfully obvious back in January 2011 what was going to happen? It was obvious to me and a few others but scarcely anyone in the mainstream media pointed out the consequences. And those who dared to be right are practically blacklisted from those places despite having been correct.
The main Western accomplishment of the last two years has been to move from step one to step two in the mainstream interpretation of what’s going on in the Middle East:
Step one: The Islamists will be moderated by gaining power through elections.
Step two: The Islamists should make themselves become moderate after gaining power through elections because they need to do so.
What is needed is an altogether different approach:
Extremist revolutionaries whose goal is to set up regimes that are supposedly implementing the will of Allah—a will no human can question or alter—and who loathe the West, despise Christians, and want to commit genocide on Jews are not going to be moderated. Nor are they going to follow Western instructions on how they should behave. Nor is democracy their ideal, since they don’t believe at all in governance on the basis of the majority unless the majority agrees with them.
These points are all rather obvious, aren’t they? Yet what we have seen for the last two years is not an attempt to understand these realities but rather a series of obfuscations and rationalizations designed to shore up a mythical world that is increasingly diverging from the situation on the ground.
Lewis Carroll wrote the following dialogue for “Alice in Wonderland”:
Alice: “Do you think I’ve gone round the bend?”
Charles: “I’m afraid so. You’re mad, bonkers, completely off your head. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.”
The problem nowadays is that an insane interpretation of international affairs seems to be a quality defining who “the best people are.” A man has just been appointed secretary of state for exhibiting a particularly virulent case of this malady.
Hamas Holds Rallies in Judea and Samaria: Raising Security Concerns in Knesset Elections
N.B. The entrance to the exhibition is carpeted with an Israeli flag for visitors to walk on (Pictures from Hamas' Filastin
In the wake of the UN granting the Palestinian Authority (PA) observer status and the cease fire between Israel and Hamas concluding Operation Pillar of Defense, Hamas’ public presence in Judea and Samaria has increased. This has been abetted by the PA and President Abbas reflected in recent public rallies on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of this Muslim Brotherhood affiliate. These public Hamas rallies have attracted thousands. The PA leadership believes the rallies might allow the restive Palestinians to blow off steam. However, it might also lead to a possible takeover by Hamas akin to the 2006 Legislative council elections and the 2007 defenestration of the PLO-Fatah that enabled Hamas to control Gaza.
While the PA security is monitoring these rallies, doubtless Israel’s security services may be concerned about rising support in the disputed territories for Hamas and its charter that seeks destruction of the Jewish state. Israel also has to be concerned about the homegrown version of Hamas, the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement whose leader, Sheik Raed Salah has called for the establishment of a mini-Caliphate in Jerusalem. What may also concern Israel is whether the PLO-Fatah/ Hamas marriage of convenience might foster the eruption of possible Third Intifada in the disputed territories.
The Amir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center in Israel drew attention to these latest development of the PA - Hamas unity drive in a recent assessment - see here. Among its conclusion are:
1. The Palestinian Authority recently allowed Hamas operatives in Judea and Samaria to hold mass public events to mark the 25th anniversary of the movement's founding [. . . ] in the main cities and on university campuses in Judea and Samaria, primarily in Nablus, Hebron, Qalqiliya and Tulkarm. Thousands of Palestinians participated, a clear demonstration of Hamas' power in Judea and Samaria after four years in which the Palestinian Authority forbade or limited public Hamas activities. The PA's security services oversaw the rallies and prevented them from turning into violent confrontations with the IDF.
2. The rallies emphasized Hamas' narrative of "victory" in Operation Pillar of Defense. Demonstrators carried models of rockets and listened to speeches given by Hamas activists in Judea and Samaria and from the Gaza Strip. The speeches, especially those by Hamas activists and operatives in the Gaza Strip, stressed the importance of the path of terrorism (jihad and the so-called "resistance") as the only way to restore the Palestinians' "full rights" (i.e., the destruction of the State of Israel). Senior Hamas figures called for strengthening the "resistance" in Judea and Samaria, claiming that all local, regional and international conditions were ripe for a third intifada, which would be "hard and decisive."
3. Providing the unusual authorization for Hamas to hold mass rallies in Judea and Samaria is part of the PA's current policy of redefining the limits placed on its political rivals and promoting an atmosphere of reconciliation. It is a trend which has continued for the past year and a half, especially since the reconciliation agreement (signed in May 2011) and the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal (October 2011). Since then Hamas has significantly increased its public presence in Judea and Samaria, especially on issues where a Palestinian consensus is perceived to exist (such as the struggle of the Palestinian terrorist operatives imprisoned in Israeli jails). At the same time the PA allows the Hamas media to operate, and they cover various events through the prism of Hamas, inciting the local populace to terrorism and goading Palestinians to revolt against Israel. The most prominent media with correspondents on the ground in Judea and Samaria are Al-Aqsa TV, which broadcasts from the Gaza Strip, and Al-Quds TV, which broadcasts from Beirut.
4. In our assessment the Palestinian Authority gave Hamas permission to hold mass rallies because it understood that given the atmosphere prevailing in the Arab world in general and on the Palestinian street in particular, it would be hard to prevent such rallies from being held. Therefore, the PA considered it best to allow the local residents let off steam under the supervision of the Palestinian Authority and its security services. In addition, permission may have been given as a signal to Israel and the international community as to the possible consequences of a political freeze and the need to strengthen the PA.
5. The mass participation of the Palestinian population in the rallies reflects, in our assessment, extensive support for Hamas in Judea and Samaria. The support for Hamas and its accompanying incitement to terrorism are liable to contribute to an increase in violence in Judea and Samaria, even if the PA can be expected to prevent the situation from getting out of control. Violence in Judea and Samaria, so far limited to various types of "popular" activities (throwing stones and Molotov cocktails and attacking IDF soldiers), has risen since Operation Pillar of Defense, and especially since the upgrading of the PA's status in the UN.
It is ironic that during Operation Pillar of Defense Israel’s Iron Dome system and its Air Force successfully intercepted and destroyed more than 425 rockets, including the longer range Iranian supplied Fajr-5s. However, the Hamas cease fire and support within the Islamist Arab Muslim world has won the Arab street media war. That irony is not lost on the Israeli public and the Palestinians. Jewish News Onecited a poll conducted by the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah:
The poll found that only 26 percent of Israelis think the Jewish State won the conflict. In contrast 81 percent of Palestinians believe Hamas was the victor.
That Israeli poll result may be reflected in the electoral campaign for a new Knesset and a possible new conservative coalition government alignment led by incumbent PM Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu’s campaign announcement focused on security and expanded construction in the disputed territories surrounding Jerusalem, especially the recently announced E-1 project to the east of Ma’aleh Adumim. The Knesset electoral campaign ends on January 22nd. A revitalized National Religious [Zionist] Party (Habayit Yehudi) led by Naftali Bennett with right wing secular allies has entered the electoral fray challenging Netanyahu. Habayit Yehudi called for annexation of 60% of the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria. Habayit Yehudi zoomed to third place in polls possibly closing in on Labor in second position.
The emerging conservative shift may also be reflected in Israeli PM Netanyahu’s campaign message emphasizing dealing with Iran, and the Islamic Republic’s relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons. That campaign message focuses on Israel’s “long arm” reach preventing achievement of Iran’s nuclear weapons program possibly crossing red lines of nuclear enrichment in 2013. So far, the Iranian Islamic Republic has not been deflected by US and EU sanctions, or P5+1 negotiations. This despite reports that Iran’s economy may be in meltdown. This come amidst new reports of another Stuxnet malworm attack on Iran’s commercial oil and uranium processing facilities at Bandar Abbas in the Persian Gulf. As Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Washington, DC- based Foundation for Defense of Democracy, said on Fox News "Happening Now" yesterday, that US and Israeli resolve to counter Tehran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons must be backed by a credible military option – watch here. That bolsters Netanyahu’s electoral campaign message of putting security first.
Both from the Vanguard. There is no indication in the two separate reports that both plots involve Boko Haram (only one - sadly there are also plenty of criminal gangs and pirates with no religious motive in Nigeria) or that they are connected.
... authorities of the Nigerian Army Garrison headquarters in Abuja, foiled suicide plots by the dreaded Islamic sect, Boko Haram to bomb strategic places within the Federal Capital Territory during the Christmas/New Year celebrations.
Vanguard gathered that two drums loaded with several sizes of cans including those of vegetable oils and palm oil converted to Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDS), about six AK 47 rifles and timing materials were recovered from the hideout of the plotters.
More details soon
andENUGU–AN attempt by four persons to blow up the Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu with explosives was,Thursday, foiled by operatives of the Explosive Ordinance Department (EOD) of the Enugu State Police Command.
The suspects, whose identities had been kept secret for security reasons, were apprehended while driving to the airport at about 8.30am Thursday.
Local Authorities Cave to USDOJ, Approve Norwalk, Connecticut Mega-Mosque
Protest Signs at Site of Norwalk, Connecticut Mega Mosque Design of Al-Madany Islamic Center in Norwalk
As night follows day we have the latest example of the Mega-Mosque campaign backed by US Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez of the US Department of Justice. As noted by Ryan Mauro in a Radical Islam.org article, “DOJ Forces Mega-Mosque on Norwalk, CT Community”, the local protesters alleged traffic and safety issues, as well as an 80 foot minaret dominating the 27,000 square foot Al-Madany Islamic Center complex. This Connecticut Long Island Sound community is located within commuting distance of New York. The Islamic Center has less than 100 family members. The new structure would have capacity for 1,000.
The playbook takes a leaf out of what happened with the Murfreesboro Mosque that we have chronicilled . It is the same modus operandi. Small Islamic center acquires land makes filing to build large complex, locals squawk about size, adjacent traffic and safety issues, Mosque leaders complain to their protectors at the USDOJ civil rights division about Islamophobia and USDOJ steps in threatening suit on grounds of denial of freedom to worship and protections under the arcane Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), see here. With an 80 foot minaret, the local protesters might have inveighed Connecticut and EPA noise pollution standards, assuming they exist, with muezzin calls several times day.. But no matter. As in the instances of Murfreesboro, Temecula California and Brookfield, Wisconsin Mega- Mosques , among a dozen or more Mega-Mosques popping up across America, local planning commissions kowtow to Federal lawyers waiving warnings about violation of First Amendment freedom to worship and the RLUIPA exemptions.
As Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has said: “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers.” However, the US Department of Justice doesn’t lift a finger to investigate who is funding these US Mega-Mosque projects and why. They are only concerned with protecting Muslim civil liberties and rights to free worship. The RLUPIA exemption do not prevent the exercise of local police powers for diligence investigations.
The current Islamic Center was established in 1999 and serves 100 families. Feeling that more space was needed, the Center purchased the property in 2008 and made the $3.5 million proposal in the spring of 2010. It calls for a facility with an 80 foot minaret to serve as a community center and mosque, including eight classrooms, two libraries, three offices, a kitchen, a gymnasium and other rooms. It has a capacity for 1,000 people.
The proposal was rejected in June. The officials and residents that opposed it never referenced Islam and repeatedly emphasized that religion had nothing to do with it.
Mayor Richard Moccia said, “It was not based on any religious bias.” Commissioner Adam Blank said community centers are not allowed in triple AAA residential zones. Additionally, he said, parking was only allocated for the prayer hall that is 3,000 square feet, leaving the rest without parking.
Isabelle Harqgrove of “the “Keep 127 Fillow Street Residential” was concerned about increased traffic and its potential to “fundamentally alter the character of this quiet, New England neighborhood.” Local resident Brian Dough complained at a public hearing about the already heavy traffic in the morning.
“I don’t want to live near a Wal-Mart or a 27,000 square foot building, and I don’t think anyone in the neighborhood does. There’s no room, and this is huge,” he said.
Israel Herskowitz of the Stonegate Condominium Association that opposes the project said, “The reason why it was rejected is it’s too big a development for too small a property … That would be the same if it was a church, or it was a synagogue.”
The Center rebutted by presenting a traffic study that projected that only 100 people and 50 cars would arrive for Friday prayer services. It also offered to help reduce traffic on special holidays by holding two services and hiring a police officer to direct traffic. The zoning commission chairman was skeptical of the traffic study because it didn’t include the rear building. The Center claims that it will not use both buildings at the same time.
When the zoning commission ruled against the Center, the Center responded with a lawsuit, accusing it of anti-Muslim bias. Even one supporter of the Center’s proposal, Rabbi Jon Fish of Congregation Beth El, felt it was a dirty tactic.
“We all have problems with parking and space. It’s clear that the people who are concerned for their neighborhood are also good Americans, who also care a great deal about the diversity of our community. No one should be cast as a bigot,” he said.
Nonetheless, the “Islamophobia” accusation got the Justice Department to start an investigation. On November 29, the zoning commission had a private meeting and approved the proposal “subject to an agreement depending on the terms of a final settlement.”
Herskowitz decried the “backroom politics” that left him and other residents out of the process. “We don’t know what’s in this proposed settlement. It’s frustrating,” he said. His group has filed a Freedom of Information Act request to find out.
Assistant US Attorney General Perez had indicated as far back at October 2010 to the leaders of the controversial Islamic Center of Murfreesboro (ICM) that he had their back in any legal matter concerning the expanded Islamic Center that finally opened in September 2012. This, after being temporarily blocked by a State Chancery Court ruling in June 2012 delaying receipt of a Certificate of Occupancy. But again the Federal lawyers prevailed and the long battle against the ICM was over.
A recent Iconoclast post , we called attention to, a confrontation between Assistant Attorney General Perez and US Rep.Trent Franks of Arizona during which Perez refused to recognize the conflict between Blasphemy codes and another First Amendment guarantee of freedom to criticize a religion. A Daily Caller article cited in the Iconoclast post noted this crucial portion of the exchange:
“Will you tell us… that this administration’s Department of Justice will never entertain or advance a proposal that criminalizes speech against any religion?” Frank asked four times.
Perez refused to answer, saying “it is a hard question, in the sense that when you make threats against someone.” Perez then suggested he would respond to draft legislation from the committee, but again refused to answer Frank’s question about free speech rights.
RadicalIslam.org author Mauro zeroed in the lme Islamophobia issue:
All the Center had to do was claim discrimination for the Justice Department to intimidate local officials on its behalf. If a church didn’t get what it wanted from a zoning commission and accused it of “Christ phobia,” would the Justice Department have intervened?
Few words are as powerful as “Islamophobia.” It preys upon the emotions of Americans disgusted by genuine acts of anti-Muslim bigotry. It tempts the politicians concerned about their public image. For Islamists uncomfortable with legitimate questions, it moves the conversation to victimization. And, as we now know, it compels the Justice Department to help get your mosque approved.