In light of the increasing support of “the electronic Jihad” and the divergence of views regarding this subject, Islamic scholars have underlined their support for this new phenomenon, arguing that “any attempt to spite the enemy and endorse religion is legitimate”. They consider that Muslim youth involved in this phenomenon are in fact leading a jihad”.
Sheikh Fahd Bin Saad Al Jahni, a professor of sharia graduate studies, says that “in Islam, the Jihad is a broad concept that could be defined according to the interpretation of the and texts that cite the jihad. There are many types of jihad: the personal jihad, the jihad by money, and verbal Jihad. The last type includes the intellectual jihad, jihad by composition and by the call to God”.
Al Jahni added that “any attempt to spite the enemy and empower the religion must be conducted by legitimate means and according to Muslim rules. Therefore, religion could be widely empowered through electronic websites. This is what some people call “the electronic Jihad”. Thus, the terminology is correct, but it is the definition that matters as well as the extent to which the concept respects the legitimate procedure.”
“Therefore, I believe that the young Muslims who are striving to take advantage of this wide electronic window and fight the perverted ideology or shut down obscene websites and the websites of those who offended and dishonored the people of Islam and put hand on their holy sites like the Zionist aggressors, are using all legitimate means and are indeed leading a jihad provided they don’t exceed the limit of God in their rivalry,”
Moreover, Abdullah Al Aalwit, a Muslim law researcher, pointed to the fact that electronic jihad means “destroying the enemy’s electronic devices or surreptitiously taking valuable information from these devices.” He confirmed that “the electronic jihad, like any other type of ihad, is legitimate in determined instances and might be harmful if used at the wrong time and in the wrong circumstances.”
Dr. Mustafa Mourad, professor at Al Azhar University, said that “the electronic jihad is a type of jihad because jihad is not limited to military weapons or any other type of painful means. Under jihad, it is possible to use any tool that might fulfill the goal behind the attack against the enemies of God in response to their attempts to violate our rights and seize our holy sites.”
In this context, it is important to note that the first call to jihad was launched by a Kuwaiti doctor, Tarek Al Souwaydan, when he called on hackers to combine their efforts in the “electronic jihad project” against Israel. This electronic war began in January, when a hacker known as X Omar published the details of thousands of Israeli credit cards after he had hacked more than 80 Israeli mail servers. A group called Nightmare joined X Omar and they managed to attack many Israeli sites, namely the Israeli stock market website and the Israeli Al Al Airlines website.
MAIDUGURI – ABUL-Qaqa, the spokesman of the Jama’atu Ahlis Sunnati Lidda’awati Wal Jihad, also known as Boko Haram, yesterday, alleged that security agents have arrested “many” of its members in Sokoto and called for their immediate release.
He however, urged senior citizens in Sokoto and other neighbouring states to intervene in order to avert the replication of what he described as “the big attack in Kano State.”
Qaqa, who spoke to journalists on phone yesterday said: “This is an open letter to the emir of Sokoto (Sultan of Sokoto) Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar 111, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal and the Acting Governor of Sokoto State.Before we visited Kano, we wrote open letter to senior citizens there on the imperative of releasing our members but nobody cares to talk. Indeed, we sent three warnings to Kano before we strike,”
“What happened in Kano will be inevitable in Sokoto unless you (Sultan and others) intervene and ensure the immediate and unconditional release of our members who were specifically arrested in the city of Sokoto on Thursday,”
As the first comment says the Boko Haram spokesman has just confirmed that those arrested last week are members of Boko Haram thus making the prosecution's job easier if a trial ensues.
David Cameron fights the good fight against racism. From Newsbiscuit:
With allegations of racism hitting the headlines at an exponential rate, the government has acted to eliminate all prejudices based on skin colour with a sweeping, nationwide initiative. Beginning in the summer of this year, the entire population of the British Isles, regardless of age, gender or ethnicity, will have their skin dyed purple.
‘It will be impossible to be a racist if everyone is the same colour purple,’ explained Prime Minister David Cameron. ‘We painstakingly searched for the colour that was the least offensive to the populace. Bleaching everybody white was obviously a non-starter; staining people brown could be seen as positive discrimination and green might be offensive to Martians in the event of first contact. After sensitive deliberations we settled on purple. Our public information campaign launches next week and will be fronted by John Terry, Luis Suarez and Diane Abbott.’
During the next few weeks, special dying facilities will be set up in municipal boroughs and parish councils throughout the country. ‘Each person will be required to present themselves at their local facility at a prearranged date where they will be stripped, plunged into a trough of purple liquid and held down with a pole until the dye has permeated every nook and crevice – a bit like sheep dipping really. And in addition to bringing racial equality, being purple makes it easier to conceal your anger and provides natural camouflage against a background of aubergines.’
Critics have, however, blasted the scheme. ‘Purple dye is far too expensive,’ said one activist. ‘Orange would be a far more cost effective colour to use. We’d save loads of money by not needing to dye David Dickinson, Katie Price and or anyone from Essex.’
Shmuel Bar: Western Hopes And Dreams, And Iranian Reality
From The Herzliya Conference:
A Nuclear Iran and the Ramifications of a
Poly-Nuclear Middle East
Dr. Shmuel Bar
Working Paper - The 12th Herzliya Conference
The failure of the international efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring a military nuclear capability has
raised debate in the academic and strategic communities regarding the possibility that such a
development may still be averted and regarding the ramifications of a nuclear Iran.
The classic European thesis which has now been adopted in Washington is that there is some – yet
undiscovered - enticement that can be offered to Iran which would hold greater value than becoming a
nuclear power. A cursory examination of what Iran believes it can achieve with even the image of being a
threshold state will show that nothing the West can offer Iran (short of total hegemony over the Gulf and
parts of Central Asia) can give Iran more. Furthermore, the basic Iranian perception of the conspiratorial
West – including perfidious Albion – is that such offers are no more than a ruse to disarm Iran of the only
capability that can protect it from western subfertuge.
Another popular hypothesis draws an analogy between Iran today and the Soviet Union in the mid 1980’s.
It focuses on Iran’s economic situation, the behavior of the younger generation who are attracted to
Western culture, and what appears to be the decline of the clerical authority in Qom, comparable to the
disintegration of the Communist party’s authority. Those who believe that it was the detante and the
American engagement opposition in the former USSR that encouraged the internal opposition to the
regime and ultimately contributed to the fall of the Soviet Empire now advocate Western “engagement”
with civil society in Iran, which will, they believe, ultimately produce a similar Iranian “counterrevolution”.
Unfortunately, this “deus ex machina” will not appear. The disparity between the Soviet
Union before its collapse and Iran today is vast. The Communist ideology that went bankrupt in the Soviet
Union was a secular ideology superimposed on the nation’s root religion. Its abandonment did not entail
giving up basic cultural beliefs. In contrast, while the Islamic regime in Iran may not be liked by the
populace, it does represent a strong tradition in Iran that existed before the revolution and retains the
devotion even of those who oppose the regime. Furthermore, the Soviet Union did not fall overnight: its
collapse can be traced to first stages of détente in the 1970’s when it became clear to the Kremlin that it
had to reach a strategic accommodation with the US. The Soviet Union also went through a series of
destabilizing leadership changes with one octogenarian coming fast on the heels of another. Other forces
that had no little effect on the fall of the Soviet Union were the SDI and the defeat in Afghanistan. There is
no analogy in Iran for any of these forces.
Even if, despite the dissimilarity to the Soviet Union, we accept that Iran is tending to a democratic
counter-revolution, the timeline for the transformation makes this irrelevant to the nuclear crisis. Even
the optimists do not see democratic change happening within the next year or two, the time most experts
believe Iran needs to cross the threshold of a military nuclear capability. And because the public, even the
public that seeks democratic change, will congratulate the regime for its achievement, acquisition of a
nuclear bomb will only lengthen the road to democracy in Iran.
If the above is not likely, then the question should be: what are the regional ramifications of Iran
becoming a nuclear power. A common argument is that nuclear weapons endow their owners with a
heavy sense of responsibility in the light of the awesome destructive power of those weapons. This would
lead us to believe that a nuclear Iran will be more restrained in its behavior in the region than Iran is
presently. This argument is also specious. In any case, it behooves us to explore the potential for further
nuclearization in the Middle East, a breakdown of the non-proliferation regime in general and implications
for the relationships between a number of nuclear states which would not be grouped in two main blocs
as was the case in the cold war.
The prospect of such a “poly-nuclear” Middle East has given rise to a number of theories regarding the
relevance of the lessons of the cold war to such a situation. Some highly respected experts (among them
Kenneth Waltz and Thomas Schelling) regard the cold war experience as highly relevant to such a
scenario. Some argue, on the basis of that experience, that a nuclear Iran not only may not be a
destabilizing factor in the region, but may even provide the foundation for a regional order based on the
Cold War doctrine of mutually assured destruction or MAD. According to their line of thought, the very
possession of nuclear weapons tempers military adventurism and inculcates a degree of strategic
responsibility commensurate with the grave consequences that would result from nuclear conflict. These
experts point at the fears that permeated the western military establishments of a nuclear China and the
fact that a nuclear Indian sub- continent did not result in nuclear war, despite mutual hostility and
frequent outbreaks of crisis.
Others point at substantial differences between the cold war and the type of nuclear Middle East that
may evolve. According to his viewpoint, all of these stabilizing characteristics of the Cold War strategic
balance that saved the world from a nuclear war are absent in the Middle East:
1. MAD--was based not on small nuclear arsenals in the hands of several countries but large stockpiles in
two nations (or two alliances) that really did assure mutual destruction. The first years of the Cold
War, before the two Superpowers developed the capabilities for mutual destruction and the
command and control mechanism to prevent such a catastrophe, were the most dangerous and held
the highest risk of both nuclear war and local conflicts under the “umbrella” of nuclear deterrence.
2. The Cold War was in essence a bilateral struggle between American and Soviet blocs, which simplified
the signaling of intentions and prevention of misunderstandings. A nuclear Iran will lead to a “polynuclear”
Middle East in which the potential for nuclear error will be greatly increased. Nuclear
posturing by one party will not be interpreted only by the party it was intended for but by all other
parties. Regimes in the Middle East have shown a much higher predilection for brinkmanship than the
US and the USSR ever did.
3. Both sides to the cold war were governed by elite decision making groups with much in common; a
centralist executive system and a clear preference (in the case of the Soviet Union – even an
ideological preference) for “rational” and “pragmatic” decision making. Public discussion of nuclear
weapons in the US and the Soviet Union during the Cold War tended to be restricted to experts, so
policy makers could develop rational strategies with little public pressures to take a more belligerent
position. It is argued that never did crowds in Washington or Moscow demonstrate – as they have in
Pakistan - with models of nuclear bombs and calls to use them against historic enemies. Religious and
nationalistic fervor have led Arab countries to countless military debacles. There are no grounds to
argue that the possession of nuclear weapons will change these patterns of behavior.
4. Cold war parties did not have to deal with apocalyptic or suicidal traditions or with the centrality of
honor as it is manifested in the Middle East. As eminent a scholar of Middle Eastern culture and
politics as Prof. Bernard Lewis has argued that presenting a threat of destruction to a leader or
leadership group which fervently believes in the imminence of the apocalypse would not be a threat
but a promise. Muslim belief in the appearance of a Mahdi who will fight on the side of Allah’s soldiers
and protect them, heightens the risk. Other scholars – while they do not go as far as imputing suicidal
apocalyptic goals to these leaders – argue that their very posturing as believing in such a development
or in claiming divine protection from any devastating reprisal from the enemy holds potential for
escalation which can get out of control.
5. Regimes in the Middle East are notoriously weak and fragmented with strategic decisions taken for
internal political reasons. Elements of regimes tend to latch on to the “strategic issues” confronting
those countries as levers for enhancing their clout within the regime. This tendency, if translated into
multiple parties involved in nuclear programs – or even in nuclear command and control – would
make command and control in the hair-trigger situations that nuclear conflicts can create more
difficult than was ever experienced during the cold war.
6. The cold war did not have at its core an age-old enmity such as the Sunni-Shiite and Arab-Iranian
conflict. An Iranian bomb would be perceived in the Sunni Arab world as an Iranian (i.e. anti-Arab) and
Shiite (i.e. anti-Sunni) capability.
So what would a nuclear Middle East look like? Certainly not a re-run of the cold war. We should expect
that a nuclear Iran will move to assert its dominance in the waters that it likes to remind all is the “Persian
Gulf” and to gain hegemony over the Gulf, including dictating oil production levels. Even before the
present economic crisis, Iran’s economy was in shambles; the decline in oil prices has exacerbated the
situation and Iran will probably attempt to intimidate its neighbors in order to raise prices. Iran will also
assert itself in the heart of the Middle East by using terror with impunity. These and the very potential of
a nuclear confrontation in the region should bring the western world to the conclusion that the best
option remains prevention at all costs.
Not In Italy, And Not Anywhere Else In Europe,Does It Make Sense To Keep Allowing Muslims In
The latest story of a boatload of would-be "immigrants" to Italy is here, from Corriere della Sera:
Sbarco di migranti tra Rodi e Peschici
Gli scafisti sono fuggiti con una scialuppa
Sono 63, provengono da Afghanistan, Pakistan e Iran
Terminate le ricerche: non ci sarebbero dispersi in mare
Migranti sbarcati di recente sulle coste garganiche
FOGGIA - Sono 63, tra afgani, pachistani e iraniani, i migranti sbarcati all’alba di questa mattina sulla spiaggia di Calenella, tra Rodi Garganico e Peschici. Sono tutti uomini di cui molti, quasi quaranta, sono minorenni. [Afghans, Pakistanis, Iranians, almost all of them young males, 2/3 of them under the age of 21 -- no skills, no knowledge of anything useful, sure to spell trouble for the peoples into whose countries they wish to come, fleeing the wretchedness of Mslim societies but bringing Islam, and all that Islam inculcates, with them] Sull’accaduto stanno indagando i carabinieri di Vico del Gargano e gli uomini della Guardia costiera di Vieste e Manfredonia.
TRE RICOVERATI - Sono quasi tutti in buone condizioni: tre sono stati ricoverati all’ospedale di San Severo per un principio di assideramento. Le loro condizioni, però, non destano preoccupazione. I carabinieri e la Guardia costiera si sono subito messi al lavoro anche con alcuni aerei e motovedette. Secondo alcune testimonianze, infatti, gli stranieri avrebbero raggiunto la spiaggia a bordo di due tender (piccole imbarcazioni) dopo aver lasciato una grossa barca a vela. Sulla spiaggia però gli inquirenti hanno trovato solo due tender. In un primo momento si è ipotizzato che la terza piccola barca fosse stata portata a largo dalla forza del mare o costretta a sbarcare in un’altra zona del Gargano, e per questo motivo sono partite le ricerche di eventuali dispersi.
SCAFISTI IN FUGA - Ricerche che sono terminate: i carabinieri di Vico del Gargano e gli uomini della Capitaneria di Porto hanno infatti accertato che gli stranieri sono giunti sulla spiaggia foggiana a bordo di due tender dopo che la barca a vela sulla quale hanno fatto la traversata si è arenata a poca distanza dalla costa. Uno dei due tender sarebbe stato utilizzato dagli stessi scafisti per fuggire. Stando ad una prima ipotesi la barca a vela che ospitava i clandestini potrebbe essere partita dalla Grecia. Sono intanto ancora in corso le procedure per la identificazione dei 63 migranti.
What will this influx mean for italy? What possible benefit can Muslims, and especially young Muslim males, hopelessly primitive and hostile, and eager to take full advantage of everything that generous Infidels provide, and provide, and keep providing, offer the Italians? What possible benefit can they be anywhere in Europe? They are agents of disruption and destruction, they will cost the state -- that is, the people of Europe -- a fortune, and no good can come of their presence. No good has come of the presence of the millions of Muslims already in Western Europe, who represent a permanent threat to the wellbeing, the cultural coherence, the economic stability, the physical security, of the Infidels among whom they have been allowed to settle. This policy of not immediately sending -- without expensive hearings, that take a lot of time and money, and meanwhile there are these illegals to be housed, fed, given medical care, and at the same time, guarded so that they don't escape. This can't go on. Not in Italy, and not anywhere else in Europe.
You wouuld not allow a feckless, hostile, and dangerous stranger to enter your house or apartment and simply stay, demanding that you give him room and board, and pay for his medical care, education or job training, clothing, and everything else, and who, demonstrating his hatred for you, must be watched at every turn lest he steal, or destroy, your property, or molest or murder your family. This you would not stand for, for one minute. Why then do the governments of Western countries allow such things to happen, or are they incapable of grasping the full cruelty of their policies toward their own citiizens, when they allow the entry of such dangerous and permanently hostile strangers?
Here is the story, in which you can easily read between the lines, and I've included the comments, the usual blend of well-informed perspacity and apologetic idiocy:
Canada's Islamic community recoils at Shafia details
Mohammad Shafia, centre, Tooba Yahya, right, and Hamed Shafia, left, arrive at the Frontenac County courthouse in Kingston, Ont., Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012. (Graham Hughes / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Mohammad Shafia, 58, his wife Tooba Yahya, 42, and their son Hamed, 21, were each found guilty of four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Shafia's three teenaged daughters and his first wife.
Mohammad Shafia, front, Tooba Yahya, left, and Hamed Shafia, centre, are led from the Frontenac County courthouse after being found guilty of first-degree murder in Kingston, Ont., Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012. (Graham Hughes / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Jan. 30 2012
Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — The Shafia murder trial has cast a shadow over Canada's Islamic community, further tarnishing an image that has not yet recovered from the events of 911. [is that all -- just "tarnishing an image" and not revealing a great many truths about Islam, and the attitude toward women, and the right of men to dispose of their family members as they see fit, without fear of punishment in Muslim societies?]
Muslims across the country, however, say the revelations in a Kingston, Ont., courtroom have shone a light on problematic aspects of their culture and illuminated new ways to tackle the issues.
For months Muslims say they've recoiled in horror at testimony alleging three members of the Shafia family plotted the deaths of four others in what prosecutors describe as an attempt to restore family honour.
The crown alleged three teenage Shafia sisters were killed after bringing shame upon the family by dating, shunning traditional religious garb and skipping school. The fourth victim, the family patriarch's first wife in a polygamous marriage, allegedly endured years of abuse and feared for her life in the weeks before she died.
Justice Robert Maranger, who presided over the case, noted Sunday how difficult it is to conceive of a crime more "despicable," "heinous" and "honourless."
"The apparent reason behind these cold-blooded, shameful murders was that the four completely innocent victims offended your completely twisted concept of honour...that has absolutely no place in any civilized society."
Crown attorney Gerard Laarhuis suggested the verdict is a reflection of Canadian values and ultimately a rejection of those where freedom is denied.
"This verdict sends a very clear message about our Canadian values and the core principles in a free and democratic society that all Canadians enjoy and even visitors to Canada enjoy," he said.
Rona Ambrose, Canada's minister for status of women, took to Twitter to comment: #Shafia. Honour motivated violence is NOT culture, it is barbaric violence against women. Canada must never tolerate such misogyny as culture."
While many Muslims blanch at the term "honour killing," believing it to be a misrepresentation of the faith they practice, they say the deaths of the four Shafia women reveal the need to take a stronger stand against domestic violence in the community.
Days before Mohammad Shafia, his son Hamed and his wife Tooba Yahya were each found guilty of four counts of first-degree murder, one Ontario city launched a program meant to stop such slayings from taking place in the future.
The Family Honour Project, launched by the Muslim Resource Centre for Social Support and Integration in London, Ont., is an initiative specifically targeting the sort of violence that allegedly took place in the Shafia home.
Centre board member Saleha Khan said plans for the project were afoot long before the case came to trial, but said the story has given the initiative even more urgency.
Despite the fact that honour-based violence occurs in many different cultures besides Islam, the stereotypes revived by coverage of the Shafia trial could further isolate Muslim women, she said.
"It's really turned into an us vs. them," Khan said in a telephone interview. "It's basically created that kind of divide where...now, because of the kind of savagery that's been painted on that, people who possibly would be victimized won't come forward."
The program aspires to end honour-based violence by providing culturally tailored support for the victims and changing the behaviours of the perpetrators. The local initiative forms part of a broader call to action that went out coast to coast late last year.
Islamic religious leaders banded together last December to denounce honour killings from the country's mosques and educate Muslims about the call for gender equality at the heart of their faith.
Syed Soharwardy, a Calgary-based imam who founded the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, said the Shafia case galvanized the community to address uncomfortable issues that too often get swept under the carpet. [really? Or is this just the kind of soothing talk designed to reassure Canadians that "the Muslims can take care of their own problems" with a "handful of extremists" etc?
Despite the fact that "honour killings" are explicitly condemned in the Qur'an [where is that? Why does the reporter say this -- could it be because some Muslim assured him that this was so, and he could not be bothered to talk to those non-Muslims who are not apologists, and can explain what is actually in the Qur'an and Hadith and Sira? Why does the reporter not adduce he exact Qur'anic quotation that he thinks supports this assertion -- could it be because there is none, and he didn't bother to discover that fact?}, Soharwardy said such values sometimes take root in remote regions of Muslim countries where education is limited and scriptural doctrine is misinterpreted.
Imams were forced to speak out not only to protect their female followers from harm at home but to defend their religion from unjust vilification in the rest of Canada, he said.
The actions of one misguided family single-handedly revived stereotypes of violence and intolerance that have dogged the community since 911, he said.
"(Domestic violence) is not an epidemic. Once in a while we come across this," he said. "It puts a bad name in Islam, it creates a very negative image of Muslims, and it provides opportunities to Islamophobes to reignite hate against Muslims and badmouth our religion."
Community-based efforts, such as those launched by the imams, are the only effective way to combat honour-related crimes, according to one sociologist.
Aysan Sev'er, a professor at the University of Toronto specializing in the study of violence against women, said crimes involving a family's reputation must be treated differently from more conventional slayings.
Honour-based violence is communal in nature, she said, since it involves deep-rooted social traditions and extensive collaboration with others.
"There's a community component both in terms of putting pressure on the people and later on trying to justify, whitewash it, reduce the severity and so on," she said.
Experts agree the issues raised in the Shafia case have touched off dialogues that could have long-term benefits for the Muslim community.
Soharwardy said the trial's silver lining has come through conversations with women and youth that may once have been taboo.
"It motivates me to reach out to youth and women and those who are oppressed in their home," he said. "It gives you hope as well that after such tragedies, people do learn some lessons."
SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) — Muslim leaders in Macedonia appealed for calm on Monday among community members outraged over a carnival in which Orthodox Christian men mocked Muslims by dressing as Burqa-clad women.
The incident at the Jan. 13 Vevcani festival has prompted angry, sometimes violent demonstrations by Muslims, who make up 33 percent of the country's 2.1 million population and accuse the majority of stoking hatred against them. On Saturday, some protesters attacked buses and defaced a Macedonian flag and replaced it with a green flag to represent Islam. On the same day, a church was attacked by unknown perpetrators in the nearby village of Labunista.
In a statement Monday, Macedonian Muslim leaders called for restraint but also accused the government of promoting Islamophobia.
The carnival, said to have been held for some 1,400 years, attracts thousands of visitors.
Albanians, in Macedonia and elsewhere, have traditionally been secular, but conservative Islamic schools, especially Wahhabism, have taken a foothold in the years following a brief ethnic Albanian uprising in Macedonia in 2001. This spread has been mainly financed from Saudi Arabia.
[A re-posting from October 2, 2008 prompted by the American government's call for Assad to resign]
Alawites, who constitute much of the officer corps and control the government of Syria, make up only 12% of the population of that country. Ominously, they are regarded by true-blue Sunni Arabs (who make up 70% of the population of Syria) as not-real-Muslims, in something like the way that Ahmadis (Qadianis) in Pakistan are regarded. This bodes ill for their future, should their grip ever slip. And it could slip.
The Syrian regime has chosen to rely for its survival on an alliance with Shi'a Iran. It was Iranian muftis who issued a ruling a few years ago declaring that the Alawites were, indeed, Muslim. The Sunni Muslims, by contrast, wiped out an entire graduating class of Alawites from the Syrian military academy. They also threatened the power of Hafez al-Assad until finally he levelled Hama, with the Alawite-led army instructed to shoot down anyone who shouted "Allahu Akbar."
When "real" Muslims massacred 82 Alawite miltary cadets at a graduation ceremony, as part of an anti-regime, anti-Alawite campaign, Hafez al-Assad surrounded Hama, an Ikhwan center, and told his troops to kill anyone who moved. Twenty thousand were killed. And in Haleb, or Aleppo, the second city of Syria, corpses were dragged through the streets, and everyone had to come out -- Armenians, Sunni Muslims, everyone -- from their houses, or stand on their balconies, and applaud the spectacle.
Qualis pater, talis filius? Not quite. Bashir the son is a most myopic ophthalmologist. He may think that he is safe as long as he lets Sunnis use Syria as a point of entry into Iraq to fight the good fight (and any fight that directs Muslim interest and energies away from the Alawites of Syria, disguised as "Ba'athists," is a good fight), and simultaneously lets Syria be used the other way, as a place through which Iranian weaponry, money, and agents are delivered to Hizballah in Lebanon. In such a way do the Alawites hope, by giving at the office, to stay in power (and to keep those reliable Armenian drivers and other Christians whom they can trust).
Bashir al-Assad has recently ordered that his picture no longer be omnipresent in every window or on every wall in the country. And for a regime such as his that is an unusual and possibly good sign. But will it be enough to cause the Sunni Muslims, who have been alarmed by the stories (some no doubt exaggerated) of Shi'a missionaries making great inroads among Sunni Muslims in Syria, to be less alarmed? Will the Syrian alliance with Iran make the Sunnis less nervous? And what if Mr. Big, Saudi Arabia, together with other Gulf Arab states, decides to really turn on the Alawites, and blare propaganda against them as...Infidels?
And meanwhile, one waits, and waits, for the American government to understand that the Alawites can be threatened -- threatened qua Alawites. They can be told that if they do not back away from Iran, then the Americans will encourage the Sunni Arabs (who fear Iran) to do everything they can to paint the Alawites as Infidels. And if the situation in Syria were to again become as it was in the early 1980s, it is doubtful that Bashir al-Assad will be able to suppress Sunni opponents the way his father did.
So far Bashir al-Assad's eagerness to assuage Muslims, both Sunni and Shi'a, outside Syria, appears to have worked. He is still in power. Alawite generals still strut about. But for how long? Every Alawite house has a picture of Mary. Every Alawite village is known. Do the Alawites want a bloodbath, or do they want to decide now to retreat into their own Syrian redoubt and no longer do Iran's bidding, or for that matter the bidding of Sunnis, deciding instead to preserve themselves and save their weaponry, for a war within Syria to preserve themselves from the real Muslims?
Should the Sunnis win, not a single Alawite village will remain unscathed.
It's the Alawite choice: continued support for, and collaboration with, Iran, or enduring what may happen if the Americans do not try to discourage, but rather to encourage Sunni propaganda to go to work on unsettling the Alawites.
Norway convicts two men over al-Qaeda plot on Danish newspaper
Two men were found guilty on Monday of involvement in an al-Qaeda plot to attack a Danish newspaper that caricatured the Prophet Muhammad, the first convictions under Norway's anti-terror laws. A third defendant was acquitted of terror charges but convicted of helping the others acquire explosives.
Investigators say the plot was linked to the same al-Qaeda planners behind thwarted attacks against the New York subway system and a shopping mall Manchester in 2009.
The Oslo district court sentenced alleged ringleader Mikael Davud, to seven years in prison and co-defendant Shawan Sadek Saeed Bujak to three and a half years. Judge Oddmund Svarteberg said the court found that Davud, a Chinese Muslim, "planned the attack together with al-Qaeda". Bujak was deeply involved in the preparations, but it couldn't be proved that he was aware of Davud's contacts with al-Qaeda, the judge said.
The third defendant, David Jakobsen, who assisted police in the investigation, was convicted on an explosives charge and sentenced to four months in prison – time he's already served in pretrial detention.
During the trial Davud denied he was taking orders from al-Qaeda, saying he was planning a solo raid against the Chinese Embassy in Oslo. He said he wanted revenge for Beijing's oppression of Uighurs, a Muslim minority in western China. Davud, who moved to Norway in 1999 and later became a Norwegian citizen, also said his co-defendants helped him acquire bomb-making ingredients but didn't know he was planning an attack.
Prosecutors said the Norwegian cell first wanted to attack Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, whose 12 cartoons of Muhammad sparked furious protests in Muslim countries in 2006, and then changed plans to seek to murder one of the cartoonists instead.
Jakobsen, an Uzbek national who changed his name after moving to Norway, provided some of the chemicals for the bomb, but claims he did not know they were meant for explosives. Jakobsen contacted police and served as an informant, but still faced charges for his involvement before that.
The judge said it had been proven that Davud had contacts with al-Qaida in Pakistan, and that his notebook contained references to Saleh al-Somali, al-Qaeda's chief of external operations, who officials believe helped organise the New York, Manchester and Norway plots.
[A re-posting from May 26, 2008 prompted by American calls for Assad to step down]
The Alawite despotism may seem to be calling the shots in Lebanon, but it is Hizballah that, by enraging the Sunnis in Lebanon, may cause all kinds of problems for the Alawites of Syria.
The Alawites who rule Syria constitute 12% of the population. Though they make up the officer corps, still -- there are those pesky non-Alawites among the men to worry about. Beginning in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood started to attack the Alawites in force. They murdered 82 Alawite cadets -- the entire graduating class -- of Syria's military academy, as part of an anti-regime, anti-Alawite campaign. They attacked police and other symbols of government authority.
Finally, Hafez al-Assad took the Alawite-officered army right to Hama, surrounded the city, and then systematically moved in, with the soldiers having been given orders to kill anyone who cried "Allahu Akbar." At least 20,000 people were killed. And then corpses of Ikhwan members were brought to other cities, and were dragged through the streets of those cities, and everyone was ordered to stand outside, or on their balconies, and clap at the sight. And anyone who did not clap and cheer was in danger of being noted by the army, and dealt with on the spot in a similar way.
Talis pater, talis filius? Not quite. Bashar the son is a most myopic ophthalmologist. The passage of time has dimmed the memory of that terror. And the Alawites, knowing that their worship of Mary prevents them from being regarded as full-fledged Muslims, sought several years ago to obtain from Shi'ite clerics in Iran a fatwa that entitled them to be considered as orthodox, albeit Shi'a, Muslims. Such a fatwa was issued. And now Syria supports Hizballah, by helping Iran transfer weaponry to that group in Lebanon, for two reasons.
The first reason is that the Syrians need Iran. Every Alawite house has a picture of Mary. Every Alawite village is known. The Alawites need the legitimacy that Iran's clerics can, so the Alawites think, confer on them, so as to allow them to present themselves as real Muslims, rather than heretical syncretists.
The second reason is that Syria, virtually without resources, has always regarded Lebanon as its private source of funds -- funds in particular for Syrian generals and others in the Alawite elite. And a united Lebanon, a Lebanon run by those who deplore the Syrian influence and meddling, would threaten that source of wealth for Syria's rulers. So they have a stake in a Lebanese government incapable of standing up to Syria -- a paralyzed government, or a weakened government, or a government that cannot function because Hizballah stands in the way.
So far Bashar al-Assad's eagerness to assuage Muslims, both Sunni and Shi'a, outside Syria, appears to have worked. He is still in power. Alawite generals still strut about. But there is a way to get Syrian cooperation. It would require that American policymakers understood the weakness of the Alawites, and how fearful they are of internal opposition from the Ikhwan. If the American government were to explain to the Alawites that it knows how worrisome such a charge can be, and knows just how dangerous it could be for every Alawite village if Sunni regimes -- say that of Saudi Arabia -- were suddenly to turn up the volume on its coverage of the "Alawites" and to depict them as Infidels, working with the "Rafidite dogs" of Iraq and the "Persians," that would get the attention of Bashar al-Assad and his military henchmen in a way that nothing else could do.
Hizballah has won a major victory, but there is no victory that cannot be reversed. It is certainly worth trying, in order not to eliminate the Hizballah threat but at least to make it harder for Hizballah to obtain arms, in the hope that the Sunnis, and the Druze, and the Christians in Lebanon are now arming themselves, having learned a lesson, and will, if the Syrian-Iranian support for Hizballah can be stopped, and arms shipments ended or interdicted more successfully, be ready to take on a weakened Hizballah and to teach it a lesson that will take a long time to unlearn.
[A re-posting from August 8, 2006, prompted by etc.]
The Alawites who rule Syria constitute 12% of the population. Though they make up the officer corps, still -- there are those pesky non-Alawites among the men to worry about. When "real" Muslims massacred 82 Alawite miltary cadets at a graduation ceremony, as part of an anti-regime, anti-Alawite campaign, Hafez al-Assad surrounded Hama, an Ikhwan center, and told his troops to kill anyone who moved. Twenty thousand were killed.
Talis pater, talis filius? Not quite. Bashir the son is a most myopic ophthalmologist. He may think that he is safe as long as he lets Sunnis use Syria as a point of entry into Iraq to fight the good fight (and any fight that directs Muslim interest and energies away from the Alawites of Syria, disguised as "Ba'athists," is a good fight), and simultaneously lets Syria be used the other way, as a place through which Iranian weaponry, money, and agents are delivered to Hizballah in Lebanon. In such a way do the Alawites hope, by giving at the office, to stay in power (and to keep those reliable Armenian drivers and other Christians whom they can trust).
But is this true? What if the Israelis inflict a severe defeat -- not merely severe, but one seen as humiliating, to the regime? Then the agitation would begin. Not agitation from the would-be Syrian versions of Chalabi -- Ghadry et al, or the false "reformers" like Hafez al-Assad's former aide and Vice-President, the Sunni Muslim Khaddam, now working from the safety of his French pleasure-dome (bought with the loot his years in office permitted him to accumulate, which now allows him to pretend to be a "reformer" when what he really wants is to return to power, this time as Mr. Big). Every Alawite house has a picture of Mary. Every Alawite village is known. Do the Alawites want a bloodbath, or do they want to decide now to retreat into their own Syrian redoubt and no longer do Iran's bidding, or for that matter the bidding of Sunnis, deciding instead to preserve themselves and save their weaponry, for a war within Syria to preserve themselves from the real Muslims?
So far Bashar al-Assad's eagerness to assuage Muslims, both Sunni and Shi'a, outside Syria, appears to have worked. He is still in power. Alawite generals still strut about. But for how long, if their forces are damaged and humiliated by the Israelis? How long did Gamal Abdel Nasser last, after the Six-Day War?
In that vast Pentagon, is there anywhere an office devoted to tracking those potential sources of weakness and internecine warfare, in the camp of Jihad and Islam? For example, is there a special office designed to do nothing but figure out ways to use the peculiar vulnerability of the Alawites for American advantage? For those Alawites must prove to both Sunnis and to Shi'a that they are true Muslims despite their Mary-worship, despite the Syrian government closing on Christmas, despite the Good Friday processions that, incredibly for a supposedly "Muslim" country, actually take place publicly without incident (because the Alawite officers have the army in place to protect those Christian processions from the real Muslims, some of whom have resigned themselves to accepting these things). That office should be dedicated to obtaining not the "friendship" of the Alawites (for god's sake, put that idiotic goal out of your mind) but rather their cooperation, by threatening to encourage others -- Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia -- to use their propaganda machines to harp on this little matter of the Alawite despots who have murdered Sunnis, genuine Muslims, and continue to hold them in thrall. The Alawite rulers may think we would never do this, but that is only because they fail to realize that at this point, if the Alawites behave so as to promote the worst and most violent and most potent of Muslim armed groups, they should not expect their worship of Mary to get them off the hook.
Last year they lost Lebanon as a place to exploit financially. Now they have, in their insensate willingness to fulfill Iranian bidding and thereby to risk everything, have figuratively lost their heads. If they do not come to their senses, Americans, not with help from their "Sunni Arab allies" but rather from Sunni Arabs who have their own reason for cutting Syria's ties with Iran, should make sure that they will be in danger of turning that figurative loss into a literal one -- and not far in the future. Surely they know that. Surely they know what happened to those Alawite military cadets in Homs. Surely they know their local Muslims, and what is just beneath the surface, and what could so easily be made to come out, to the great chagrin of those Alawite officers who would suddenly lose control of their maddened men.
Why risk it? Why risk everything? Hizballah is in trouble. Iran is going to be in bigger trouble. Why should the Alawites of Syria risk all?
Can Assad Go, But The Alawites Remain To Protect The Christians?
Saturday, 26 March 2011
Can Assad Go, But The Alawites Remain To Protect The Christians?
The Alawite sect, which held off the real Muslims by living in the less accessible parts of Syria -- the same way that the Maronites continued to live in the mountainous parts of present-day Lebanon -- got their start when the French, needing locals they could trust, chose for their Troupes Speciales in the 1920s Armenians, Alawites, and Druze. In the end, it was the Alawites who found their calling as military men, and rose through the ranks. And it is the Alawite dominance of the officer corps that allows them now -- though they are only 12% of the population in Syria, to lord it over the Sunni Muslims (who constitute about 70% of the population) and to protect, and out of gratitude and fear of the alternative receive the quiet support from, the Christians of Syria (including Maronites, Greek Orthodox, and the Armenians who, in Aleppo, are so important).
But the Alawites -- to identify them simply as Shi'a Muslims is wrong, for it is their syncretism, including their cult of Mary, that makes orthodox Muslims so wary of the them. In 1980-1982, all hell broke loose in Syria. The Muslims -- the real Muslims -- plotted against the Alawites, and had some spectacular successes. The most memorable may be the graduation ceremony at the military academy where those graduating, all of them Alawites, were massacred. There were more than 80 killed.
In response to this, and other attacks not as well-known, Hafez al-Assad had his army surround the city of Hama, where the Muslim Brotherhood was strongest, and attack from all sides. Anyone shouting "Allahu Akbar" was to be shot down. The Alawite officers made sure that Sunni recruits did their job, or those soldiers would also be killed. Between 20,000 and 40,000 were killed. This bought thirty years of quiet.
Now the copy-cat contamination, not of "democracy" but of revolt against perceived injustice, has spread to Syria. The regime certainly has it coming. And it would be wonderful to weaken it, and to force it to drop its alliance with Iran and with Hezbollah. It would be good to diminish the ability, and the desire, of the Syrian regime to do more than stay in power. But that does not mean that the Alawites should lose their control of the military. For many years I have suggested that the recognition of the useful role the Alawites play inside Syria should be recognized, even as one works to weaken the Syrian regime in Lebanon, and to end its support of Hezbollah and its alliance with Iran.
If Alawite generals were to be made to understand that in the West, many are prepared to help them keep their military control -- and if they do not, then every Alawite village will suffer from Sunni Muslims bent on revenge --if they stop their noxious geopolitics. They can't be allowed to continue to support Hezbollah and Iran, they'll have to give up their ludicrous revanchist notions of getting back the Golan Heights, from which they made life hell for Israeli farmers for decades (the Golan which was originally supposed to be part of the territory included in that assigned by the League of Nations to the Jewish National Home). In return, they'll get something better: they'll be allowed to survive, as Alawites and to continue to protect the Christians in Syria -- including those who recently arrived from Iraq.
That's a good deal for them, for the survival of Christians, and hence Christianity, in the Middle East. It's not a good deal for Iran, the Shi'a of Hezbollah, or the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood in Syria. What could be better?
The State Department Tries For The TriFecta In Driving The Christians Out Of The Middle East
The American intervention in Iraq, which toppled Saddam Hussein, also ensured that the Christians -- Assyrians and Chaldeans and Mandeans -- would lose their ruthless protector, and "the turbans" -- that is the Shi'a -- would join he Sunnis (not what was left of the old Sunni elite, but all the other Sunnis) and go after the Christians, kidnapping them for money, or merely raping and killinjg them for sport. As a consequence, more than half of the Christians have left Iraq, never to return.
The American support for the "revolution" against Mubarak has made the Ikhwan and the Salafists -- Muslims worse and worser -- the heroes of the ballot box, and the attacks on the Copts, some of whom thought that the secularists, such as they are, would win, have only become more deadly, with the army joining the just-plain-Muslim-folk as they attack, at will, and with impunity, Copts up and down Egypt. And more than 100,000 Copts have left Egypt in the last year, with more, no doubt, to follow.
Having learned nothing from this, having understood nothing about what happens when "democracy" in a Muslim-dominated land is allowed to bring those Muslims to power, the American government is now doing everything it can to force the Alawites to give up power. But if the Alawites give up power, it's a grim future for the Christians -- Arab and Armenian -- who have managed to enjoy a freedom, and security, guaranteed by the Alawites for their own reasons, without parallel in states where Muslim Arabs make up the majority of the population.
Imagine what must be going through the minds of Iraqi Assyrians and Chaldeans who sought refuge in Syria, where they thought that they would be safe. After all, under the Alawites, the Syrian government actually closes down on Christmas. Under the Alawites, the Christians could safely observe Good Friday in public. Under the Alawites, Christians did not live in a state of constant, sometimes terrifying, insecurity.
Now, with the American government having helped to create the conditions that inevitably led Christians to flee Iraq, and are now leading Christians to worry and some to flee Egypt, it is doing the same, for the third time, in Syria.
Will anyone take note? What about organized Christian groups? What about even the Vatican, whose policy of appeasement of Muslim Arabs over many decades, on the subject of Israel, has led to nothing except moral and geopolitical incoherence?
Yemen: Who's In, Who's Out, And What's To Come (Which Is Still Unsure)
The War May Not Be Over
January 30, 2012: Now that president Saleh has his immunity deal, and has left the country to get medical treatment in the United States, his followers are left to make do as best they can. There is unrest in the armed forces. One brigade of the Republican Guard rebelled because its commander was seen as corrupt. This uprising was put down by loyal troops from another Republican Guard unit. Troops at four air force bases demonstrated to have the head of the air force (a half-brother of president Saleh) removed. The issue here was also corruption. The outgoing Saleh government was accused of massive corruption, and the amnesty they demanded only seemed to confirm the corruption charges.
It's unclear what deals Saleh made with his closest aides. What is known is that elections are to be held on February 21st, and Saleh's ally and vice president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi is expected to be elected president. This would put Saleh's followers back in power. Apparently the opposition, which went along with the immunity law, feels they could ease Hadi out, and revoke the immunity law. That sort of thing has happened before (not in Yemen). The opposition apparently believes that with Saleh gone, change is much more likely, and will be less violent. But Saleh's followers also went along with the deal, and apparently feel that they can hang onto power. The war may not be over with the departure of Saleh.
In the north, fighting between Shia and Sunni tribes continues, and thousands of civilians are fleeing the violence. There have been over a hundred casualties up there in the last week alone.
January 27, 2012: In the south, several clashes left a police commander, a soldier and four al Qaeda men dead.
January 25, 2012: Several hundred al Qaeda gunmen left the town of Radda (130 kilometers southeast of the capital) after a tribal coalition threatened to come in and kill all the Islamic radicals. The al Qaeda faction had held the towns for nine days, refusing to leave until some of their leaders were released from jail.
January 21, 2012: Parliament finally passed the immunity law that will protect president Saleh from prosecution for past offenses. But immunity for Saleh's aides was limited, making them vulnerable to lawsuits in the future. Saleh is expected to go into exile in Oman.
The phrase "controlled anarchy" to describe Yemen comes from the late J. B. Kelly, my inimitable friend, whose unrivalled knowledge of the Arabian peninsula, and mastery of English prose, were so cherished by his audience -- fit audience though few. He left many articles and reviews that should be collected and published in book or ebook form. I don't recall where he used the phrase "controlled anarchy" about Yemen, or the Hadramaut, but I'll see if I can find the article, somewhere in the disarray.
I have just run across a copy of Kelly's article, from May 1976, entitled "Hadramaut, Oman, Dhufar: the experience of revolution."
It begins like this:
"When the ill-fated Federation of South Arabia came into being on January 1, 1963, it did not include among its member states the Hadramaut and the Mahra country to the east. It was not difficult to see the reasons for their exclusion. The Mahra territory, nominally under the rule of the sultan of Qishn and Socotra, was the wildest and most inaccessible corner of the eastern Aden Protectorate. Any effective display of authority there by the sultan or the protecting power was confined to the few villages along the coast. Inland a kind of formalized anarchy reigned among the tribal nomads and cultivators. The Hadramaut was a rather different case. Although the land was itself forbidding -- its very name means 'death is present' -- the energies and enterprise of its inhabitants had made it relatively prosperous, at least by the standards of southern Arabia."
My memory did not exactly fail me, but it did not come through as impressively as I had hoped.
The phrase Kelly used was "a kind of formalized anarcy." I had remembered it as "controlled anarchy."
I'm not asking for full marks, but would three out of five be possible?
The Shafia Case Raises Questions about Canadaâ€™s Muslim Immigration Policies.
Shafia family victims: daughters Zainab,19,Sahar, 17, Geeti, 13 first wife Rona Mohammad Amir, 50
The conviction in a Kingston, Ontario courtroom yesterday, of Mohammad Shafia, his polygamous second wife Tooba Yahya and son Hamed of the drowning murders of three daughters, Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti, 13, along with Rona Mohammad Amir, 50 his first, but barren wife, was more than just “despicable”, “heinous” and an affront to Canadian and Western values about treatment of women under Islam. See our post on the background of the Shafia case. It may also prefigure a daunting portent of things to come in the changing demographics of our neighbor to the North. The honor killing decision in Ontario raises serious questions of how Canada’s immigration policies might have facilitated this horrific honor killing and whether there is potentially more in the offing. Moreover, there is an underlying question of how Mohammed Shafia acquired and deployed his wealth that enabled the family’s move from Afghanistan in 1997, first to Dubai, hence to Australia and finally receiving permanent resident status in Canada in 2007.
The Shafias moved to Canada in 2007. They fled their native Afghanistan more than 15 years ago and had lived in Dubai and Australia before moving the family to Montreal and applied for citizenship.
At the time of the deaths, they were all permanent residents, except for Amir who had only a visitor's visa. They told authorities, and initially maintained after the deaths, that Amir was Mohammad Shafia’s cousin.
Mohammad Shafia, by all accounts a prosperous business man, owned commercial property in the Montreal area and ran a business buying used cars in North America and shipping them overseas.
Most likely the Shafia family arrived in Canada under Immigration provisions for wealthy landed immigrants that gave Mohammed Shafia, so-called Merchant status, with the equivalent of an automatic “green card”. Note, that according to the CBC account of the trial verdict that Shafia engaged in two business pursuits: purchasing commercial properties and wholesaling of used cars for shipment abroad. The latter activity raised, in our view, suspicions that Shafia may have been involved with laundering drug money profits from either or both Afghan drug lords or the Taliban sending a portion of the wholesaling profits back via Zakat to fund the Jihadi 'project', there. You may recall our post in mid-December on the US DEA raids of more than 30 used car dealers across the country that involved recycling cash from Hezbollah drug profits. That raid was coupled with a complaint filed against the 30 predominately Muslim used car dealers by the US Attorney in the Southern District of Manhattan Federal Court.
We asked David B. Harris, former CSIS officer and international security analyst in Ottawa for his views.
Harris’ response also raised the prospect of future dangers inherent in recent Canadian immigration policies announced by the Harper government. Dangers that might increase the likelihood of future Honor Killings by opening the door to the increased fundamentalist Muslim immigration that is making its mark on Canada.
Harris responded, thusly:
Given the context, it is entirely possible that authorities have asked whether Mr Shafia's offshore used-car wholesaling could have been associated in some way with drug-profit or other money laundering. I have no information about this, but note that Canada has in the past been used by others in this way. Indeed, the Lincoln Navigator long proliferated in south Lebanon as local Hezbollah chieftains' car of choice -- thanks to the moving of stolen vehicles from Ontario to Lebanon.
On the matter of recent and possible pending changes in Canada Immigration policies:
Remarks made lately by Prime Minister Steven Harper, at the Davos summit, and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, strongly suggest that the public is being groomed to accept -- unbelievably -- even more immigrants. This, in the name of assisting with economic and aging-population pension needs. Yet Canada already has the biggest per capita immigration intake in the world, costing between $16 and $23 billion a year, net, including from some of the most radical Islamist jurisdictions available. Indeed, Pakistan-born moderate Canadian Muslim author-activist Raheel Raza has called for a moratorium on immigration from Pakistan, Somalia and other countries that she considers to be sources of Islamist radicalism. But, pols need to import votes and Immigration Minister Kenney is generally said to harbor leadership aspirations.
One of the consequences of the vote-importing mania that was robust under Liberal governments and has accelerated under the Harper Government, will likely be an eventual sea-change in Canada's Middle East policy. This would be ironic, in light of the Harper administration's pro-Israel and pro-Jewish stance, but would nonetheless seem to flow inevitably from the immigration-driven skyrocketing of Canada's Muslim population. Nine in ten Canadian Muslims were born abroad, and predictions point to Muslims outnumbering Jews by almost 7 to 1 in just 18 years. Should the Harper Conservatives in fact be planning further immigration increases, we must expect these statistical tendencies to accelerate. And as long as unstable countries like Pakistan continue to contribute mightily to Canada's population growth, it could very well be that friends of Israel and of Jews, will, in due course, be unelectable in Canada.
Canadians and Americans may be ‘shocked, shocked’ by the revelations from the trial and convictions surrounding the grisly drowning murders of the three Shafia young women and Mohammed’s first wife, Rona, in a lock of the Rideau Canal. However, as Harris has commented, Canada’s myopic immigration policies may evince over the next decade more occurrences of honor killings and the marginalization of its Jewish community supplanted by a rising Muslim minority. What is the expression attributable to Arafat, "First the Saturday people, then the Sunday people." The present immigration policy may imperil Canada's future, and the reliability of an old friend and ally.
Watch Erick Stackelbeck Give CUFI Leadership Conference Keynote Speech
I'm pleased to announce that my keynote speech at the annual Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Leadership Summit on Monday night, Jan. 30, will be webcast live. To watch my presentation as it is happening, click here.
The event begins at 7:30 p.m. CST (that's 8:30 p.m. EST, 5:30 p.m. PST) with opening remarks from CUFI's founder, the one and only Pastor John Hagee and from my good friend, CUFI's tireless Executive Director, David Brog.
I'll then speak for 45 minutes on the threats gathering against America and Israel: from Iran to Hezbollah to the Muslim Brotherhood and the Arab Spring/Islamist Winter. I'll also break down some of the prophetic implications of what's happening in the Middle East and share a bit about my personal journey and how God led me powerfully to this line of work.
In other words, a rare glimpse at the man behind the madness.
So check out the webcast and remember to log on Tuesday, Jan. 31, as well to see another keynote address to the Summit given by former Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer, president of American Values.
CUFI is the nation's largest pro-Israel group, with close to 1 million members. We're expecting a large audience and hope you can tune in to both webcasts and help us sound the alarm in these perilous times for America and Israel's security.
Pakistani Islamist and political party leaders, from left to right Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, Maulana Sami ul Haq, Hamid Gul, Syed Munawar Hasan and Muhammad Ahmed Ludhianvi, raise hands in solidarity at a Pakistan Defense Council rally in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Jan. 22, 2012.
RAWALPINDI, Pakistan - Mullahs, militants and retired military men in Pakistan are forming a powerful alliance to promote an anti-US agenda, pressuring the Pakistani government at a time when relations with the United States are dangerously frayed.
Among these men, Hafiz Saeed is the most notorious.
Saeed leads the charity group Jamaat-ud Dawah, which the United Nations says is a front for Lashkar-e-Tayba, a group widely held responsible for killing 166 people in the Mumbai attacks in 2008. In Pakistan, however, a court absolved Saeed of all terrorism charges.
In a recent rally at a park in the city of Rawalpindi, Saeed and his collaborators, who now call themselves the Pakistan Defense Council, vowed to pressure Islamabad into ending its relationship with the United States. The group also fumed against a possible reopening of NATO supply routes and plans to increase trade with India, traditionally seen as Pakistan's archenemy.
Saeed's men, some armed, surrounded the park and guarded a meters-high stage. A banner behind the stage depicted missiles and fighter jets. Dozens of cameramen captured the fury.
"Jihad is our path," a captivated crowd of more than 10,000 men chanted.
The Rawalpindi rally was the sequel to a massive gathering on Dec. 18 in the eastern city of Lahore, where the alliance first shot into prominence. A third gathering was held Sunday in Multan, a city in the southern part of Punjab province.
Hamid Gul, a retired Pakistani general and former spy chief, is now the coordinator of the so-called Pakistan Defense Council. He said the group first came together last October, but only pursued a higher profile after the NATO attack in November that killed 26 Pakistani soldiers near the Afghanistan border.
The raging anti-Americanism that followed the attack provided fertile ground for the council to start agitating, said Amir Rana, the director of the Pak Institute for Peace Studies in Islamabad.
The Pakistani government soon after the attack began to reconsider its relationship with the United States, closing key routes NATO has long used to bring supplies to its troops in Afghanistan. It was a low point in relations between the two on-again-off-again allies that was made even worse when Pakistan discovered the United States, without its knowledge, had begun backchannel talks with the Afghan Taliban.
"If America leaves Afghanistan, stops the drone attacks on Pakistan and halts all CIA and intelligence networks, stops supporting India and accepts Pakistan's role in dialogue with Taliban, then we can sit with them and negotiate," Saeed said.
Pakistan's active military elites most likely support the Pakistan Defense Council and its viewpoints, analysts said. The military wields significant control over the country's security policy, both through official and unofficial channels. It ruled Pakistan for half its 64-year long existence and is often at odds with the policies put forward by the current, elected -- and civilian -- government.
"Whenever you have an elected government the situation gets a little more diffuse and complex," said Simbal Khan, a director at the Institute for Strategic Studies Islamabad. "There is a little bit of a tussle here and there. Supporting these kinds of civil organizations, civil platforms becomes a way to ensure that [the military] perspective is heard," she said.
And it works, Rana said. "The public opinion is now more clearly anti-US and anti-NATO, and there is less space for alternate views," he said, referring to debates on Pakistan's popular TV talk shows. Khan disagrees. She says the council's views add to the debate, but doesn't dominate it.
Pakistani policymakers, meanwhile, shy away from tackling arguments made by the religious vanguard and make little effort to inform the public of the reasons behind its policies.
"They don't try to change public opinion. That's the tragedy," Rana said. Pakistan's inability to explain why it plans to grant India the status of Most Favorite Nation (MFN) is one such example.
The status simply means that World Trade Organization members such as Pakistan won't discriminate their trade partners against each other with trade laws and provisions. But members of the Pakistan Defense Council object to the status. How can our enemy be a Most Favorite Nation, they ask.
Perhaps as a result of the opposition, the government has wavered on whether or not to move ahead with granting India the status, which could go a long way toward easing tensions. A final decision is still pending in the parliament.
In its negotiations with the United States, Islamabad has regularly pointed to the opposition voiced by religious political parties, such those currently supporting the council, as the reason for its reluctance to cooperate further on things like security matters, say Howard Schaffer and Teresita Schaffer, two former U.S. diplomats and authors of the book, "How Pakistan Negotiates with the United States; Riding the Roller Coaster," which was published last year.
The presumed "street presence" of these parties makes Islamabad reluctant to pursue issues that have either a "real" or "contrived" Islamic angle.
"Pakistani governments have used this threat on many occasions to avoid making commitments important to the United States. American diplomats need to be wary of this tactic," the Schaffers write.
Abdul Basit, Pakistan's foreign office spokesperson, would not comment on the analysis.
The Pakistan Defense Council's influence on the way the government negotiates with the United States depends on whether or not it can keep up the momentum, analysts said.
"The US will see how flexible Pakistan can be. If there's no flexibility you can link it to the impact of these kind of movements," Rana said.
In the past, such alliances in Pakistan had little staying power, only cropping up at important junctures in Pakistan's history. In 2002, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, a political religious alliance, was formed out of the Pakistan-Afghanistan Defense Council, an anti-American, pro-Islamist alliance of different religious parties and organizations. It was established shortly after the US invasion of Afghanistan. Political differences, however, drove the main players of the alliance apart.
Some analysts believe another religious political alliance may arise from the Pakistan Defense Council platform, while others say the obstacles to political unity amongst religious parties are too great.
Saeed and his collaborators insist they have no political ambitions, but have no doubt their council will remain.
"We promise to continue with this movement," a bellowing Saeed told the crowd.
TUNIS — The insults were furious. “Infidel!” and “Apostate!” the religious protesters shouted at the two men who had come to the courthouse to show their support for a television director on trial on charges of blasphemy. Fists, then a head butt followed.
When the scuffle ended a few minutes later, Tunisia, which much of the Arab world sees as a model for revolution, had witnessed a crucial scene in what some have cast as a gathering contest for its soul.
“We’re surrendering our right to think and speak differently,” said Hamadi Redissi, one of the two men, still bearing a scab on his forehead from the attack last week.
The challenges before Tunisia’s year-old revolution are immense — righting an ailing economy, drafting a new constitution and recovering from decades of dictatorship that cauterized civic life. But in the first months of a coalition government led by the Ennahda Party, seen as one of the most pragmatic of the region’s Islamist movements, the most emotional of struggles has surged to the forefront: a fight over the identity of an Arab and Muslim society that its authoritarian leaders had always cast as adamantly secular.
The popular revolts that began to sweep across the Middle East one year ago have forced societies like Tunisia’s, removed from the grip of authoritarian leaders and celebrating an imagined unity, to confront their own complexity. The aftermath has brought elections in Egypt and Tunisia as well as more decisive Islamist influence in Morocco, Libya and, perhaps, Syria. The upheaval has given competing Islamist movements a chance to exert influence and define themselves locally and on the world stage. It has also given rise to fears, where people in places like Tunis, a seaside metropolis proud of its cosmopolitanism, worry about what a revolution they embraced might unleash.
An opposition newspaper has warned darkly of puritanical Islamists declaring their own fief in some backwater town. Protests convulsed a university in Tunis over its refusal to let female students take examinations while wearing veils that concealed their faces. Then there is the trial Mr. Redissi attended on Jan. 23, of a television director who faces as many as five years in prison for broadcasting the French animated movie “Persepolis,” which contains a brief scene depicting God that many here have deemed blasphemous.
The trial was postponed again, this time until April. But its symbolism, precedence and implications infused a secular rally Saturday that drew thousands to downtown Tunis in one of the biggest demonstrations here in recent months.
“Make a common front against fanaticism,” one banner declared.
Tunisia and Egypt are remarkable for how much freer they have become in the year since their revolts. They may become more conservative, too, as Islamist parties inspire and articulate the mores and attitudes of populations that have always been more traditional than the urban elite. Some here hope the contest may eventually strike a balance between religious sensitivity and freedom of expression, an issue as familiar in the West as it is in Muslim countries. Others worry that debates pressed by the most fervent — over the veil, bathing on beaches and racy fare in the media — may polarize societies and embroil nascent governments in debates they seem to prefer to avoid.
“It’s like a war of attrition,” said Said Ferjani, a member of Ennahda’s political bureau, who complained that his party was trapped between two extremes, the most ardently secular and the religious. “They’re trying not to let us focus on the real issues.”
Nearly everyone here seems to agree that “Persepolis” was broadcast Oct. 7 on Nessma TV as a provocation of some sort. Abdelhalim Messaoudi, a journalist at Nessma , said he envisioned the film, about a girl’s childhood in revolutionary Iran, “as a pretext to start a conversation.” But many in Tunisia, both pious and less so, were taken aback by the brief scene in which God was personified — speaking in Tunisian slang no less. A week later, a crowd of Salafis — the term used for the most conservative Islamists — attacked the house of Nabil Karoui, the station’s director, and he was soon charged with libeling religion and broadcasting information that could “harm public order or good morals.”
The trial, which Human Rights Watch called “a disturbing turn for the nascent Tunisian democracy,” was originally scheduled for Nov. 16, then postponed until January.
On Jan. 23, crowds gathered outside the colonnaded courthouse, along a sylvan street in Tunisia’s old town, known as the casbah. Tempers flared and, in a scene captured on YouTube, Mr. Redissi and Zied Krichen, the editor of the newspaper Al Maghreb, tried to leave.
“All I could think was to not look behind me, walk ahead, and not open my mouth,” said Mr. Krichen, who is 54. A man rushed toward him, hitting him from behind. When Mr. Redissi, 59, turned to defend his colleague, he was head-butted. At first, the police did nothing, then helped escort the two men to a police station down the road.
Mr. Messaoudi, who was sitting at a cafe across the street, was also assaulted.
Two days later, in a statement many secular figures deemed too timid, Samir Dilou, a government spokesman and a member of Ennahda, reiterated the party’s view that the film was “a violation of the sacred.” But he condemned the violence and promised to act. One of the assailants, identified in the video, was later arrested.
For people like Mr. Messaoudi, though, the incident reflected a months-long trend of thuggery by Salafis, from an attack on a theater airing a film they deemed objectionable to their brief control last month over a northern Tunisian town called Sanjan. Some secular figures acknowledge that Ennahda is embarrassed by the incidents, loath to be grouped with the Salafis. Others view both as part of a broader Islamist outlook that celebrates Tunisia’s Muslim identity as a way to promote a more conservative society.
“Certain Islamist factions want to turn identity into their Trojan horse,” Mr. Messaoudi said. “They use the pretext of protecting their identity as a way to crush what we have achieved as a Tunisian society. They want to crush the pillars of civil society.”
The debates in Tunisia often echo similar confrontations in Turkey, another country with a long history of secular authoritarian rule now governed by a party inspired by political Islam. In both, secular elites long considered themselves a majority and were treated as such by the state. In both, those elites now recognize themselves as minorities and are often mobilized more by the threat than the reality of religious intolerance.
Mr. Redissi, a columnist and professor, predicted secular Tunisians might soon retreat to enclaves.
“We’ve become the ahl al-dhimma,” he said, offering a term in Islamic law to denote protected minorities in a Muslim state. “It’s like the Middle Ages.”
As in Egypt, the prominence of the Salafis since the revolution has taken many Tunisians by surprise. Their numbers pale before their brethren in Egypt, but like them, they are assertive and determined to make their presence felt, often embarrassing more moderate counterparts like Ennahda and the Muslim Brotherhood. On Friday, they organized a demonstration in front of the Foreign Ministry in support of Syrian protesters. For weeks, they held a sit-in at Manouba University here in Tunis to demand that women in full veils be allowed to take exams, eventually forcing the campus to close for a time.
“There are red lines not to be crossed,” said Abdel-Qadir al-Hashemi, a 28-year-old Salafi activist who helped organize the protest at Manouba. “The film ‘Persepolis’ was a provocation, simply a provocation, with the goal of driving us toward violence.”
A few of his colleagues turned out for the secular protest Saturday.
“Go back to your caves and mind your own business!” someone shouted at them.
They heckled back.
“You lost your daddy, Ben Ali!” one of them taunted, referring to the Tunisian dictator, President Zine El-Abdine Ben Ali, who was forced into exile in Saudi Arabia last year.
Even secular figures like Mr. Redissi suggest that Ennahda would rather avoid the debate over “Persepolis.” He predicted the trial would be postponed until after the next elections that follow the drafting of the constitution, in a year or so. Others insisted that Ennahda take a stronger stand against the Salafis before society became even more polarized.
“I don’t see either action or reaction — where is the government?” asked Ahmed Ounaïes, a former diplomat who briefly served as foreign minister after the revolution. “What is Ennahda’s concept of Tunisia of tomorrow? It hasn’t made that clear.”
In Ennahda’s offices, Mr. Ferjani shook his head. He complained that the case had been “blown out of proportion,” that media were recklessly fueling the debate and that the forces of the old government were inciting Salafis to tarnish Ennahda. But he conceded that the line between freedom of expression and religious sensitivity would not be drawn soon.
“The struggle is philosophical,” he said, “and it will go on and on and on.”
Muslims In Power Trying To Inveigle The West Into Islam-Assisted Suicide
Arab Spring Islamist leaders to Davos: invest in us, don’t fear us
January 27, 2012 @ 6:38 pm
By Paul Taylor
(A general view shows the Swiss mountain resort of Davos December 28, 2011. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann)
Leaders of the Arab Spring sought to assure the world’s elite in Davos that the rise of political Islam is not a threat to democracy, and pleaded for help creating jobs and satisfying the hunger of their people for a better life. Politicians, activists and entrepreneurs from countries that have cast off dictators and held free elections in the last 12 months were prized guests at the World Economic Forum, where they asked for patience, understanding and investment. [how insane, or how ignorant, will the leaders of the West prove to be?]
The new prime ministers of Tunisia and Morocco, both chosen from Islamic parties, dismissed Western worries about a surge of political Islam across North Africa and sought to dispel the notion that the promise of last year’s protests had faded.
“I do not believe the new regimes should be called political Islamist regimes. We must be careful with our terminology… For the first time in the Arab world, we have free and honest elections that led to democratic regimes,” Tunisian Prime Minister Hammadi Jebali told a Davos panel.
Twelve months ago, stunned Davos delegates watched live television images of crowds surging into Cairo’s Tahrir Square in a political earthquake few had anticipated. Arab officials and civil society activists urged Western executives and commentators not to demonize the Islamic movements that have gone from prison to parliament and the corridors of power in a year of stunning transformation.
“I would like to ask the businessmen in the room. Have you suffered from the victory of the Islamists? You supported the dictatorships in the past,” Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane said.
“Today we can guarantee your interests more than they did in the past.”
Je vous ai écoutée, vous avez été très claire comme d'habitude, vos arguments sont percutants et toujours convaincants.
le débat était très intéressant. En outre, Alain Finkielkraut est parmi les rares qui vous donne la parole, ses émissions de débat sont toujours passionnantes, très bien construites et animées ; il est l'un des seuls à savoir faire discuter ses invités en profondeur, à les laisser parler jusqu'au bout de leurs pensées tout en étayant leurs discussions de références littéraires et philosophiques bien à propos, à faire confronter des idées opposées avec beaucoup d'objectivité et d'impartialité.
C'est en plus un plaisir d'entendre une expression de la langue française aussi limpide, où chaque mot est à sa place, ce qui est très peu fréquent dans l'audiovisuel.