Turkish forces in the occupied area of Karpasia in Northern Cyprus have presented a new challenge regarding the celebration of Christmas by Christians living in the territory. For the first time in 36 years Christians trapped in the occupied area were forbidden from celebrating Christmas.
On Christmas morning, Saturday 25 December 2010, Father Zacharias and a large number of people went to the Church of Saint Sinesios in Rizokarpaso to begin Matins for Christmas. Meanwhile men of the occupied forces rushed to the church, interrupted the service, urged the priest to remove his vestments, and ordered everyone leave the church. When everyone had left, the doors were sealed.
The same happened in the Church of the Holy Trinity where Father Konstantinos was serving.
WIDESPREAD condemnation continued yesterday over the Turkish Cypriot side’s interruption and cancellation of services at a church in occupied Rizokarpasso on Christmas Day. The government plans to take the issue to the UN and the EU.
The Turkish side stopped the Saturday service on the pretext that no application had been made for permission to hold the mass at the Ayios Synesiou church.
“The act of the occupation regime to stop Christmas Day mass in Rizokarpaso is totally unacceptable and reprehensible,” said government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou. “This action constitutes a violation of basic human rights such as the right to exercise freedom of religion,” he added. Stefanou said the government had already taken steps to involve the EU and the UN. The Church said it would involve the World Council of Churches and the Pope.
The Church also denied that they had not asked for permission. It said permission is always asked at the beginning of December, and has been for the last 36 years. But it said it was not the first time that the Turkish side had stopped the service going ahead. That they have to ask permission at all shows how heavy the imposition of sharia law is upon them.
Before Christmas Cypriots living in the northern zone were angry that their Christmas shopping in the Government controlled area had been confiscated.
TURKISH Cypriots yesterday waved cucumbers and other groceries in the air at a Nicosia crossing point as they protested against the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state’s seizures of products purchased in the government-controlled areas. The protest was organised by the Trade Union Platform following seizures of products, including toys, last Saturday.
Sener Elcil, secretary general of teachers’ union KTOS, described Saturday’s seizures as fascism. “They said it is illegal. Do you think there is a law” in the north? Elcil asked the Cyprus Mail. “In the north part of the island everything is based on orders they get from Turkey.”
Elcil suggested the north’s economy has collapsed due to ballooning expenditure stemming from the increasing arrivals of Turkish nationals who did not pay any taxes. Quoting Turkish Cypriot daily newspaper Kibris, the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) said the breakaway state was in search of 50 million Turkish lira (€25.5 million) to pay the salaries, pensions and social insurance of ‘civil servants’. Kibris said if the money is not found then the ‘finance ministry’ will ask Turkey for the funds as an advance on the annual financial package Ankara gives the breakaway state.
After Christmas there have been fights between supporters of different football teams and after a basketball match. Also from Cyprus News
CYPRIOT OFFICIALS and politicians displayed a rare moment of unity yesterday, joining forces to condemn Turkey’s efforts to exploit politically last week’s incident of basketball hooliganism.
Foreign Minister Marcos Kyprianou said Turkish officials had entered a pre-election period and were “babbling” in an effort to politically exploit random events after an international men’s basketball match in Nicosia.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan used the event to highlight that racism and hatred was on the rise among Greek Cypriots. He attempted to establish a link between the hooligans and the argument that Greek Cypriots did not want peace on the island.
I was raised to be a "real man," i.e., to be strong and silent, like my dad. I was tense in my dealing with my associates and family, and subject to frequently recurring bouts of migraine and hyperacidity. Between the ages of sixteen and forty, I had cried only once, and was somewhat inexpressive of other emotions as well, except anger.
Divorced at the age of forty, I was separated from my children for a full year. After two months of separation, feeling intensely lonely and missing my children, I saw a psychiatrist for an hour a week. I told the psychiatrist my feelings, and felt some relief, but was still tense and lonely.
During this period, I attended my first psychotherapy group. The group (Re-evaluation Counseling) emphasized emotions. During the class, I told the story of my childhood to a fellow participant, called a co-counselor. I had also stood up before the class and repeated phrases provided by the leader, "I hurt," and "I hurt a little bit." This last phrase she had had me repeat several times, first in a normal voice, then falsetto, then in a basso voice. I felt a lump in my throat during this episode, but no other feelings.
There were several participants who cried at various points in the class. I remember feeling envious. After the day long class, I went swimming and had dinner. At some point during the period after the class, I noticed a new sensation in my upper abdominal area: it felt like a knot the size of my fist. It was not particularly painful or even unpleasant, but it persisted for the rest of the day.
In the evening, I went to the home of my then girlfriend. In bed I told her about the group I had attended in the afternoon. She seemed quite interested and attentive. When I repeated the phrases I had spoken in front of the class, I began crying. At first the crying was tense and somewhat painful: it felt bitter and strained. The sensation of sobbing was brittle, like the dry heaves. After some fifteen or twenty minutes, however, the crying became more relaxed. After another quarter hour of intense crying, I stopped and lay back to rest.
After a few minutes' rest, I began to shake and sweat. The shaking was violent, like an earthquake. Yet I felt no fear. The sensation, rather, was pleasant. I felt that I was in touch with an enormous source of energy, like surf-riding a twenty-foot wave. Another way of expressed the feeling: like being shaken by the neck by a giant. After some thirty minutes of shaking and sweating, it stopped as suddenly as it had begun. The sweating was intense to the point that the sheet that I was lying on was soaked. I felt refreshed and relaxed. I noticed that the knot in my stomach was getting smaller.
After another brief rest, I began to feel angry. I started shouting, biting the air and moving on the bed. My writhing became so violent that I fell out of bed. On the floor, I continued, and began chewing on the shag rug. At this point, a peculiar thing happened. I realized that my ridiculous behavior might upset my friend, so I stopped. I said to her: "Are you all right?" She said, "Don't worry, I'm all right. Just do your thing!" I then immediately went back to the anger, without any pause whatsoever.
I had no sense of what I was angry about, but it seemed to be there, ready for me to express it, as if there had been no interruption at all. Just as I could turn off the anger, I could also turn it back on. (The kind of emotion episode that can be turned off and on will be discussed further below). After some thirty minutes, I ran out of anger. I got back in bed.
Once again, I rested. Because of what had happened before, I anticipated further strong responses. After a few minutes, I felt a strong sensation again, this time the urge to laugh. I began laughing a deep, relaxed laugh, and repeating a phrase that occurred to me: "I believe, Lord, oh help me to believe.” The laughter felt so deep and powerful that it seemed like someone else was laughing through me. I also felt strongly exhilarated. After a half hour of laughing, I felt finished. I lay back and rested. The knot in my stomach had disappeared.
In the morning when I awoke, I began crying again. I remember repeating a line of Auden's poetry, "All over Europe, the nurses were itching to boil their children." I went on to go through the whole cycle of discharge again, crying, shaking, screaming, and laughing, but in a much shorter space of time, fifteen or twenty minutes all told. I dressed to catch a plane.
At breakfast, I realized that I felt quite different than I had before. I was full of energy, and my senses felt exquisitely sharp, especially my sense of smell and taste. The sound of music on the radio was unbelievably beautiful. The smell and taste of breakfast was delightful. I felt that I had never actually tasted orange juice before, as if I could taste each molecule.
After deplaning, while entering the terminal building, I felt emotions coming up again. This time I felt it would be inappropriate, and I sought to hold the emotions back. I took ten or twenty deep breaths, and the anticipated catharsis did not occur.
After this I experienced myself as having changed in fundamental ways. I felt much more relaxed and open, and less driven. Although I hadn't realized that they were deficient, my senses seemed sharper, especially smell, to the point that I felt that I hadn't been really using my senses before. My work habits also changed. I felt more creative and less driven. I realized in retrospect that I had been obsessed with work, and had let other aspects of my life take second place. I continued to work, but I felt I had more perspective and was more effective. Finally, I felt better and more open with people. The impatience and frustration that I often felt seemed virtually to disappear.
Although I continued to laugh, the experience of a massive catharsis occurred only one more time, about six months after the first. On this occasion, I was all alone in a situation in which I thought my life and the lives of my children were endangered. I had a fit of fear, much like the shaking episode in the first catharsis, but even more violent. After some fifteen minutes of the most intense shaking and sweating, but again without the experience of fear, I got up from the floor, completely refreshed. Once again, my clothes were drenched with sweat, as if I had been swimming. My mind seemed utterly clear. I gave a public speech soon after, extempore, which I thought was my most effective speech ever. The words seemed to be there when I needed them, without planning or forethought.
For about a year after the first massive discharge, I cried every day without fail, usually about missing my children. When they returned, I cried much less often, about once a week or less.
Most of the changes have continued. The psychosomatic disturbances did not disappear completely but became infrequent and mild. My obsession with work diminished. Before catharsis, I spent most of my time feeling neither pleasure nor pain, but suspended. After catharsis, and to the present, I have considerable variation, with many highs and lows. I laugh and cry easily, but still have occasional anger problems, and little contact with fear.
How could genuine emotions be turned on and turned off? This idea has been explored by classic theories of drama. They proposed that what makes for a successful drama is that the audience feels strong emotions, but not at too close nor too far a distance. The right distance is called aesthetic distance: the audience is feeling strong emotions, but also aware that they are in a theatre. One is feeling strongly, but in an environment that feels safe in the sense that you can quit at any time.
Genuine catharsis, it seems to me, always involves this feature. Too close means that the audience is merely reliving an unresolved emotional trauma, rather than resolving it. Too far means not feeling emotions at all. During my two intense emotion outpourings and subsequently I often had a sense of being able to stop if I wished.
The second issue concerns this question: to what extent was my emotional experience between childhood and the age of 40 typical or atypical? It now seems to me that it was typical, especially for males. For example, most men learn somehow that feeling fear is the same as being a coward, so they block it out. Indeed, beginning on the playground, most boys learn that not just fear, but other vulnerable emotions such as grief and shame are not permitted by the the other boys. Anger on the other hand, is permitted, so it tends to be overused, covering up the vulnerable emotions.
Normally, emotions are quickly resolved and therefore cause no harm. Indeed fear is life-enhancing, an instantaneous warning of danger. When emotions are hidden, however, they become life threating.
The use of anger and aggression to cover over shame, embarrassment and humiliation is visible in the wide world, not just on the playground. For example, the US attack on Iraq may have been in part a response to the US government’s embarrassment over 9/11 occurring on its watch. Many earlier wars and conflicts seem to have had at least an element of hidden humiliation leading to a desire for vengeance at any cost. The origins of WWI and the rise of Hitler seem particularly involved in this way. Persons and nations that hide their emotions may become ruled by them.
One result of my emotional episodes was to change my professional career. During my early career my work on the sociology of mental illness was highly regarded by my colleagues. When I shifted to the study of emotions, I lost the regard of almost all of them. It seems to me that neither they nor the public at large were ready to give serious consideration to the role of emotions in human life, especially hidden emotions. I have been trying for many years to open up this possibility, and will continue to try as long as I am able.
Some might describe traditions like toasting the new year with champagne as so...twentieth century. Come on, get with it.
PARIS (Reuters) – France will deploy extra police and keep vandalism statistics under wraps on New Year's Eve to fight what authorities say has become an annual "sweepstakes" of disaffected youths competing to see who can burn the most cars.
Youths in depressed suburbs of French cities have been torching hundreds of vehicles on New Year's Eve and Bastille Day since the early 1990s. Police say the annual rite has turned competitive, with youths tracking the news in the first days of the new year to see which neighborhood did the most damage.
"I have decided to put an end to the competition, the sweepstakes, and will longer publish the number of burned vehicles," Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said this week, adding that publishing statistics encouraged vandalism.
Opposition politicians described the move as an attempt by President Nicolas Sarkozy's conservative government to cover up the violence.
"The government tends to eliminate unfavorable indicators. The interior minister has been publishing trumped-up statistics for years, and now Hortefeux is going even further," Socialist deputy Delphine Batho, a security specialist, told Reuters.
Last year, the Interior Ministry said 1,137 cars had been torched, a 30 percent rise on 2008. French media reported at the time that several thousand cars had been burned.
Nearly 54,000 police officers will be deployed across France, a rise of some 6,000 compared to normal New Year's Eve staffing levels, and additional command posts set up in several cities, Hortefeux said on Friday.
The image of burning cars remains particularly evocative in France in the wake of urban riots in December 2005. Sarkozy came to power in 2007 promising to quell violence, but crime and vandalism have inched up in the past year.
Arson in France's "sensitive urban areas" rose by 17.2 percent between 2008 and 2009, according to a 2010 study by the Observatory of Sensitive Urban Zones. In 2009 a total of 12,874 cars were burned, it reported.
The city of Barcelona, widely known as a European Mecca of anti-clerical postmodernism, has agreed to build an official mega-mosque with a capacity for thousands of Muslim worshipers. The new structure would rival the massive Islamic Cultural Center in Madrid, currently the biggest mosque in Spain. An official in the office of the Mayor of Barcelona says the objective is to increase the visibility of Muslims in Spain, as well as to promote the "common values between Islam and Europe."
The Barcelona mosque project is just one of dozens of new mosques that are in various stages of construction across Spain. Overall, there are now thirteen mega-mosques in Spain, and more than 1000 smaller mosques and prayer centers scattered across the country, the majority of which are located in Catalonia in northeastern Spain.
The Muslim building spree reflects the rising influence of Islam in Spain, where the Muslim population has jumped to an estimated 1.5 million in 2010, up from just 100,000 in 1990, thanks to massive immigration. The construction of new mosques comes at a time when municipalities linked to the Socialist Party have closed dozens of Christian churches across Spain by way of new zoning laws that several courts have now ruled discriminatory and unconstitutional. It also comes at a time of growing anti-Semitism in Spain.
The Barcelona mosque project was announced during a weeklong seminar titled "Muslims and European Values," jointly sponsored by the European Council of Moroccan Ulemas [Muslim religious scholars], based in Brussels, and the Union of Islamic Cultural Centers in Catalonia, based in Barcelona. A representative of the Barcelona mayor's office who attended the conference told the Madrid-based El País newspaper that the municipality would get involved in the mosque project because "although religion pertains to the private realm, this does not mean it does not have a public role."
The idea to build a mega-mosque funded by Spanish taxpayers comes after Noureddine Ziani, a Barcelona-based Moroccan imam, said the construction of big mosques would be the best way to fight Islamic fundamentalism in Spain. "It is easier to disseminate fundamentalist ideas in small mosques set up in garages where only the members of the congregation attend, than in large mosques that are open to everyone, with prayer rooms, cafes and meeting areas," Ziani told the Spanish news agency EFE. He also said European governments should pay for the training of imams, which would be "a useful formula to avoid radical positions."
Saudi Arabia, which also built the "great mosques" in the Spanish cities of Marbella and Fuengirola, has been accused of using the mosques and Islamic cultural centers in Spain to promote the Wahhabi sect of Islam dominant in Saudi Arabia. Wahhabism rejects all non-Wahhabi Islam, any dialogue with other religions and any opening up to other cultures. By definition, it also rejects the integration of Muslim immigrants into Spanish society.
Not surprisingly, the Saudi government officially supports the Alliance of Civilizations, an initiative sponsored by Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, which borrows heavily from the Dialogue of Civilizations concept promoted by Islamic radicals in Iran in the 1990s -- an the initiative calls for the West to negotiate a truce with Islamic terrorists on terms set by the terrorists.
In December 2000, the Islamic Cultural Center in Madrid was expelled from the Spanish Federation of Islamic Religious Entities (FEERI) to "frustrate the attempts of Saudi Arabia to control Islam in Spain." Most Muslim immigrants in Spain are from the Maghreb (especially Morocco and Algeria) or Pakistan; analysts say their low standards of living and low levels of education make them particularly susceptible to the Islamist propaganda promoted by Saudi Arabia.
Elsewhere in Spain, residents of the Basque city of Bilbao were recently surprised to find their mailboxes stuffed with flyers in Spanish and Arabic from the Islamic Community of Bilbao asking them for money to build a 650 square meter mosque costing €550,000 ($725,000). Their website says: "We were expelled [from Spain] as Moriscos in 1609, really not that long ago. … The echo of Al-Andalus still resonates in all the valley of the Ebro [ie Spain]. We are back to stay, Insha'Allah [if Allah wills it]."
Al-Andalus was the Arabic name given to the parts of Spain ruled by Muslim conquerors from 711 and 1492. Many Muslims believe that the territories they lost during the Spanish Reconquista still belong to them, and that they have a right to return and establish their rule there – a belief based on the Islamic precept that territories once occupied by Muslims must forever remain under Muslim domination.
The Moriscos, descendants of the Muslim population that converted to Christianity under threat of exile in 1502, were ultimately expelled from Spain by King Philip III in 1609. Muslim leaders say Spain could right the wrong by offering Spanish citizenship to the Muslim descendants of the Moriscos as an "apology and acknowledgement of mistakes" made during the Spanish Inquisition.
In Córdoba, Muslims are demanding that the Spanish government allow them to worship in the main cathedral, which had been a mosque during the medieval Islamic kingdom of Al-Andalus and is now a World Heritage Site. Muslims hope to recreate the ancient city of Córdoba as a pilgrimage site for Muslims throughout Europe. Funds for the project to turn "Córdoba into the Mecca of the West" are being sought from the governments of the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, and Muslim organizations in Morocco and Egypt.
In Granada, a city in southern Spain that was the last Muslim stronghold of Al-Andalus to capitulate to the Roman Catholic kings in 1492, a muezzin now calls Muslims to prayer at the first mosque to be opened in the city since the Spanish Reconquista. The Great Mosque of Granada "is a symbol of a return to Islam among the Spanish people and among indigenous Europeans," says Abdel Haqq Salaberria, a spokesman for the mosque. "It will act as a focal point for the Islamic revival in Europe," he says. It was paid for by Libya, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.
In Lleida, a town in northeastern Spain where 29,000 Muslims make up 20% of the population, the local Islamic association Watani recently asked Moroccan King Mohammad VI for money to build a mosque in the center of town. Local Muslims are incensed that the municipality gave them land to build a mosque on the outskirts of town and not in the city center. Although the municipality gave the land more than three years ago, the local Muslim community has refused to apply for a formal license: it is demanding a more "dignified location for the Muslim community to worship."
In Zaragoza, the fifth-largest city in Spain, the 22,000-strong Islamic community has been negotiating the purchase of an abandoned Roman Catholic grade school for €3 million. In September, however, a group of 200 teenage anarchist squatters took over the property (a seemingly normal occurrence in Spain), but a local judge has refused to remove them for "security" reasons. The local imam is now demanding a "big and visible location" for a mosque: many Muslims view the city as "theirs" and they want a way to show it.
Meanwhile, the Madrid-based ABC newspaper reports that more than 100 mosques in Spain have radical imams preaching to the faithful each Friday. The newspaper says some imams have established religious police that harass and attack those who do not comply with Islamic law. ABC also reports that during 2010, more than 10 Salafist conferences were held in Spain, compared to only one in 2008.
Salafism is a branch of revivalist Islam that calls for restoring past Muslim glory by re-establishing an Islamic empire across the Middle East, North Africa and parts of Europe. Salafists view Spain as a Muslim state that must be reconquered for Islam. [this is perfectly orthodox Islam, not a view confined to "Salafists"]
At the same time, Noureddine Ziani, the Moroccan imam, says it is absolutely necessary to accept Islamic values as European values. He also says that from now on, Europeans should replace the term "Judeo-Christian" with term "Islamo-Christian" when describing Western Civilization.
Leo Rennert: Gloves Off For Israel Kid Gloves For Hamas (Fast Jihad) And Fatah (Slow Jihad)
Leo Rennert On Just Some Of The Stories That The New York Times and Washington Post saw not quite fit to print:
The following stories -- in the span of a week -- were widely disseminated. But none made it into the news pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post. It's all too familiar pattern that points to a biased pro-Paletinian, anti-Israel agenda in their news coverage.
Let's take a look at what these two major newspapers did not seem fit to print:
Dec. 24--Palestinian Authority TV ClaimsJesus was a Palestinian, Denies his Jewish Ancestry
Dec. 25--Abbas aims for "Judenrein" Palestinian state -- No room for a single Israeli.
Dec. 25--Hamas Ultimatum: Israel has Two Options -- Death of Leaving Palestinian Lands.
Dec. 28--Abbas Cracks Down on Main Political Rival, Mohammed Dahlan
Dec. 28--Hamas Reported Torturing, Killing Israel-bound Africans in Sinai
Dec. 29--Fatah Bans Abbas Rival from Party Meetings
Dec. 30--Journalist Who Aired Dissension in Abbas' Party Gets Five-Day Detention
Dec. 30--Poll: Solid Majorities of Palestinians Oppose Two-State Solution Along Clinton Parameters
So why did the Times and the Post engage in such conspicuous self-censtorhip? Because their editors and reporters are determined to paint Israel as the main obstacle to the peace process, while hiding the darker, anti-peace aspects of the Palestinian side -- both Hamas in Gaza and Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party in the West Bank.
Above all, Abbas's rule has to be prettied up because the papers' news sections are heavily invested in painting him as a bona fide peace partner. So corruption, represession, antisemitic and anti-Israel incitement, glorification of terrorist killers, denial of historic Jewish ties to Jerusalem and Hebron, and other problematic patterns of Abbas's rule must be carefully hidden from Post and Times readers.
What makes such silence -- such self-censorship -- even more egregious and blatantly obvious is that these are two newspapers that do not hesitate to expose repression under Putin in Russia, corruption under Karzai in Afghanistan, and Mubarak's autocracy in Egypt. Yet, Abbas's rule in the West Bank fits exactly the same patterns -- but fails to make the news pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post.
Bottom line: the Palestinian side is treated with kid gloves; Israel with the gloves off.
France will deploy extra police and keep vandalism statistics under wraps on New Year's Eve (from Rebecca's post)
It is good to deploy police, although since policemen get younger every year, will they be a match for the "youtful" car burners? Yes, police should be deployed, but these days rather too many things are getting deployed: wit, scholarship, sarcasm, software and "sculptural means to craft a truly compelling story". That's all right, I suppose, but must it always be "deftly"?
I'll make an exception for this evening's car buring or auto da fé, as the French don't call it, but really oughta. Let the police deftly deploy their youth-bashing skillsets all night long.
I'm off for a more sedate evening of drinks and smutty jokes. Auto da fé will be my last clean joke of 2010. But like the Spinal Tap speakers, I go up to 11. See you in the New Year.
Under Pakistan's stringent and controversial blasphemy laws, anyone found guilty of insulting Islam faces the death penalty.
In practice most convictions are overturned on appeal, but these cases often hinge on witness testimony. That fuels concerns that allegations of blasphemy are sometimes dubious, motivated by personal animosity.
There's also concern that the laws can be used to target religious minorities. Human rights groups have called for the laws to be changed after the recent death sentence handed down to a Christian woman.
All this puts Pakistan's coalition government in an extremely difficult position. If it leaves the laws intact, it risks tarnishing the country's image, especially in the West.
It wants to present Pakistan as a modern state which is tolerant and moderate. But if it perseveres with amending the law, the domestic backlash from religious conservatives could be severe.
Friday's strike saw businesses shuttered and transport workers walking out in towns and cities across the country.
There was no public transport in the southern city of Karachi, where demonstrators blocked traffic as part of the industrial action.
The BBC's Ilyas Khan says bus owners in the Sindh province capital may have feared their vehicles could be torched if put on the road.
Quetta, the capital of the southern province of Balochistan, also ground to a halt.
There was a partial shutdown in the national capital of Islamabad, the north-western city of Peshawar and Lahore, capital of Punjab.
One Sunni cleric in Islamabad warned in his Friday sermon that any change to the blasphemy law would happen "over our dead bodies".
The strike was held to protest against a private member's bill submitted to parliament.
It seeks to amend the law by abolishing the death sentence and by strengthening clauses which prevent any chance of a miscarriage of justice.
The bill has been drafted by a member of the ruling Pakistan People's Party and by a former Information Minister, Sherry Rehman.
This led religious groups, who are demanding that Ms Rehman quit, to conclude the government was behind it.
On Wednesday, Pakistan's religious affairs minister told parliament the bill did not reflect government policy.
"I state with full responsibility that the government has no intention to repeal the blasphemy law," Syed Khurshid Shah said.
Pakistani Christians rallied for Asia Bibi in Lahore on Christmas Day
"If someone has brought in a private bill, it has nothing to do with the government."
Federal Law Minister Babar Awan told reporters that Friday's strike was simply the latest attempt to revive a once powerful alliance of religious parties.
The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal emerged as the third largest vote-winner in the 2002 elections held by the regime of President Pervez Musharraf, but the grouping had broken apart by the time of polls two years ago.
Our correspondent says the government is hoping to placate shrill religious protest at a time when it is in difficulty with two coalition partners.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement this week withdrew two ministers from the federal cabinet, blaming corruption and rising prices.
The Jamiat-i-Ulema Islam party, a smaller coalition partner, withdrew from the government earlier in December after one of its ministers was sacked.
Many believe the two parties are acting at the behest of the security establishment to undermine the country's political system.
In a move that caught the Israeli government and the Jewish world by complete surprise, on October 21, 2010, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared the Tomb of the Hebrew Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem "an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territories," admonishing the Israeli decision to add these biblical shrines to the list of Jewish historical and archaeological sites as "a violation of international law."
The United Nations has become a foremost purveyor of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement. Nowhere has this obsession been more starkly demonstrated than at the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance, held in September 2001 in the South African town of Durban.
What is less known, however, is that the driving force behind "the attempt to detach the Nation of Israel from its heritage" (to use Israeli prime minister Netanyahu's words) was the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which pressured UNESCO to issue the declaration and drafted its initial version. U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has recently described the OIC as "a strategic and important partner of the U.N." In fact, it has been the OIC that has successfully exploited its marked preponderance at the U.N.—where it constitutes the largest single voting bloc—to turn the world organization and its specialized agencies into effective tools in the attempt to achieve its goals, two of which are to bring about Israel's eventual demise and to "galvanize the umma [Islamic world] into a unified body."
The OIC's Israel Obsession
Established in September 1969 as the "collective voice of the Muslim world," the OIC has evolved into the second largest intergovernmental organization after the U.N., bringing together fifty-six Muslim and other states, as well as the Palestinian Authority. Though boasting a global range of objectives from the "promotion of tolerance and moderation, modernization, [and] extensive reforms in all spheres of activities," to the cultivation of "good governance and promotion of human rights in the Muslim world," this body has constantly and disproportionately focused on Israel and its supposed misdeeds. It was established in response to an attempt by a deranged Australian to set fire to the al-Aqsa mosque, which was duly blamed on "the military occupation by Israel of Al-Quds—the Holy City of Jerusalem." The "State of Palestine" (i.e., the then-five-year-old Palestine Liberation Organization or PLO, established as a tool for promoting the expansionist ambitions of Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser) was among the OIC's original twenty-five founding members, and the pledge of "full support to the Palestinian people for the restitution of their rights, which were usurped"—the standard Arab euphemism for Israel's destruction—has become a central plank of the organization's policy, reiterated in countless decisions and resolutions on issues that have nothing to do with questions concerning the Palestinians.
The Islamic Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), an OIC organ mandated "to strengthen cooperation among member states in the field of education, science, and culture," has occupied pride of place in the campaign to delegitimize Israel. Since its inception in 1982, it has run dozens of programs and symposia on the Jewish state's supposed desecration of Islamic and Christian holy sites and the attendant need to wrest them from the Israelis' control. The most important of these were the international conferences on the "Protection of Islamic and Christian Holy Sites in Palestine," held in Rabat in 1993 and 2002 and in Amman in November 2004 respectively under the patronage of the Moroccan and Jordanian monarchs. An examination of conference activities reveals a systematic effort to devise an anti-Israeli media strategy that was to be adopted not only by Arab and Muslim states but also by international groups and organizations, including some of the U.N.'s most powerful agencies.
After giving some thought to the opinion of Hugh's wise Nigerian (or should that be "American citizen of Nigerian extraction"?) fishmonger, a man untrained in political science but in many ways an "expert" more so than the self-annointed "experts", I am worried. He, the fish market man, was of the opinion that the U.S. government prefers stability over all else.
Much as the financial market wants to avoid uncertainty, and prefers bad news to no news at all, the U.S. government seems to prefer a Muslim-lead, sharia-compliant government with it's iron-fisted rule and clear societal pecking order. A democracy is a messy, unpredictable beast. A democracy that attempts to give equal rights to all citizens regardless of, say, religious affiliation, when members of certain religions have no intention of ever accepting equal rights to their perceived inferiors, and is willing to use terror attacks on unarmed civilians to avoid it , is even messier and more unpredictable.
Think of all those Islam-dominated, Islam-tyrannized, nations that we have supported: Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, "Palestine", Iraq (think Saddam Hussein before he went so far as to threaten his Kuwaiti and Saudi neighbors), and now Afghanistan. Each of them stands in opposition to every value in which we supposedly believe, yet they remain our "good friends" and "strong allies" in the war on something-or-other.
Think of how we stood idly by as Lebanon was transformed from a pluralistic, peaceful, beautiful nation (remember when "the Riviera of the Middle East" didn't sound sarcastic?) into just another Islamic hell-hole - BUT - a stable and predictable Islamic hell-hole. You don't hear many whimpers from the Christian Lebanese any more, do you? Peace.
Our government has apparently accepted the Islamic definition of "peace": When everyone, EVERYONE, submits to Allah, there will be "peace". Any resistance to the will of Allah brings war and discord in the lands. Therefore, resistance to Allah must be avoided, discouraged. Crushed. Then, peace.
If the goal is to encourage stability, then Islam is the answer. Islam answers every question. Islam regulates the behavior of every waking moment. There is no room for doubt or discourse in Islam. Everything everyone ever needed to know was written down in the holy and immutable Qur'an 1400 years ago.
Assuming that the above is true, read about the possible impending breakup of Sudan, or the crisis in Côte d'Ivoire, and ask yourself how the U.S. government will seek to influence the outcomes.
But then again, we live in a messy and unpredictable democracy. And if all of the above is true, it need not remain so.
Indulge me tonight with a few photographs of what I have been up to every month this year. Some of it purely for pleasure, other events are with estimed comrades about the business of counter dawa, and counter jihad.
The music is from an album I bought at the last Sweeps festival in Rochester. The first time I wrote about the sweeps and Morris dancing I said it was only a matter of time before there was a Morris/Bhangra crossover, both styles of dance being based around agriculture and allied trades. Tickled Pink may have had similar thoughts when they recorded this - Green Potatos-Bombay Mix.
While The World -- And The Unthinking West -- Gang Up On Laurent Gbagbo And Ivoirien Christians....
The world did not intervene to stop Jean-Bedel Bokassa or Idi Amin or a dozen other despots in sub-Saharan Africa. The West did not intervene to prevent the deaths of more than 2 million Christian black Africans in the southern Sudan over several decades. Nor has it intervened to prevent or halt the murder, by the same northern Muslims (who call themselves "Arabs") to murder or drive out a million or more black Africans in Darfur. After the attacks on Christians in northern Nigeria, when the independent state of Biafra was declared in response to the "jihad" (Col. Ojukwu's words in the Ahiara Declaration of July 1969), the West not only extended no aid to the Christian side (while Egyptian pilots in Egyptian Migs gaily strafed Ibo villages, killing tens of thousands of helpless villagers), but took the side of the Muslims. According to the Scott Report, the government of Great Britain gave twelve times as much military aid to the Nigerian government's troops as had been given before the Biafra War.
It was not black Africa, but rather two Western powers, former colonial rulers, that started the anti-Gbagbo ball rolling. The French have not always played a malevolent role as colonial powers, but in West Africa, both France and Great Britain always favored the local Muslims. Many Ibo and Christian Hausa resent how, when it came time for Nigeria's independence, Great Britain turned power over mostly to northern Muslims. And the indigenous peoples of French West Africa know how the French favored local Muslims, perceiving (and misperceiving) them as steadier local enforcers of colonial authority.
Black Africans merely followed suit. But among the Christians in Nigeria, in Togo, in Benin, in other countries in West Africa -- and especially among the Christians in distant Angola (a country whose administrators are keenly aware of the Muslim threat in black Africa) there is not great hostility to Gbagbo, and even (as in Angola) support that has simply not been reported in the Western press. It is as if the Western governments decided that the worry, by the Christians, that they were being demographically swamped, and electorally having their own country taken away from them (if they could not vote in much of the country, and if illegal Muslim immigrants could, surely that means their country is being taken away from them), had no validity. They do not dare to take the side of the Christians, as they did not in the case of Biafra, or in the case of the Sudan. The pusillanimity, and geopolitical heedlessness, combine to create what may not be yet, but may well be down the line, a disaster for black African Christians and for Western interests, rightly understood.
One of the African neighbors now so indignant about Laurent Gbagbo is The Gambia. Why should the ruler of The Gambia care about the well-justified fears, among the Christians who built the Cote d'Ivoire, that their country is being taken over by Muslims who have held the north, and allowed in still more illegal Muslim immigrants to swell their ranks and to intimidate Christians in the rebel-held territory and, still more important, tilting -- through their intimidating tactics and their fiddling with voting -- the recent elections to the Muslim side.
Here's a bit more about the Gambian president, possibly king, perhaps someday, if he plays all his cards right, the Emperor of All Gambia And Of Ice Cream, to boot:
Nov 08, 2010
Gambia's president once claimed to have developed a cure for AIDS that involved an herbal body rub and bananas. His administration rounded up nearly 1,000 people last year in a witch hunt. And now he may soon have a new title in this tiny West African nation: His majesty.
Tribal chieftains are touring the country to rally support for President Yahya Jammeh's coronation.
"The president has brought development to the country, and for that he deserves to be crowned King of The Gambia," said Junkung Camara, chief of the western region of Foni Brefet. "This is the only way the Gambian people can express our gratitude to a leader who has done a lot for his country."
Like many rulers in this part of Africa, Jammeh, 45, came to power in the wake of a coup. He was elected president [what kind of free and fair election do you think that was?]two years later, and is currently serving his third elected term in the tiny country surrounded on three sides by Senegal.
If he were crowned king, he could dispense with the formality of elections altogether.
For a ruler who likes to be called His Excellency the President Sheik Professor Alhaji Doctor Yahya Jammeh — identifying himself as a doctor, scholar, and elder, among other honorifics — "king" would suit him well.
"It's image construction," said Abdoulaye Saine, professor of political science at Miami University in Ohio who specializes in Gambian politics. "He's not a scholar, he's not a doctor, he's not a professor. But he covets these titles."
Saine says Jammeh's coronation would give him a new title but would not change anything politically.
"Jammeh is already king," Saine said. "He practically owns the country of Gambia. He controls the press, the opposition, the clergy, and the coffers of the state."
While sub-Saharan Africa has just one remaining absolute monarchy — in the southern African nation of Swaziland — other leaders have tried to similarly solidify their role. Idi Amin, the brutal dictator who ruled Uganda during the 1970s, titled himself His Excellency President for Life. And Central African Republic's Jean-Bedel Bokassa crowned himself emperor in 1977.
The call for Jammeh's coronation is the latest in a series of controversial events that have marked his presidency. In 2007, the ruler claimed to have developed a cure for AIDS and insisted that patients stop taking their antiretroviral medications so his cure could have an effect.
More recently, Jammeh's administration rounded up nearly 1,000 people last year in a witch hunt that spanned the nation of 2 million. Authorities forced the supposed witches to drink a hallucinogen that caused diarrhea and vomiting. The unidentified liquid led to serious kidney problems, and two people died after the forced treatment, according to international rights group Amnesty International.
Sam Sarr, editor of the main opposition newspaper Foroyaa, says Jammeh's move to be crowned king will never work.
"It's unconstitutional," Sarr said. "According to the constitution, his position is an elected position. Sovereignty resides in the people."
Not that making Jammeh king would change much.
"The presidency is already like a monarchy," Sarr said. "As far as power is concerned, he has absolute power."
Often I read more than one book at a time. When I tire of one I fly to another. This is because the world has always seemed to me so various and so interesting in all its aspects that I have not been able to confine my mind to a single subject or object for very long; therefore I am not, never have been, and never will be the scholar of anything. My mind is magpie-like, attracted by what shines for a moment; I try to persuade myself that this quality of superficiality has its compensations, in breadth of interest, for example. more>>>
It is glorious for religion to have enemies such as this. - Pascal
Considered in the light of intellectual history, the truly remarkable thing about the reception of Charles Darwin’s work is not the nature or the extent of its apparent theological implications; the remarkable thing is the fact that anyone could believe that it had any real theological implications at all. That great masses of men would come to consider – with either jubilance or indignation – a theory about how species of organisms change over enormous expanses of time an apt challenge to certain theological positions is certainly one of the perverse wonders of the modern world. more>>>
The Religious Left, J.B. Matthews and the Censure of Senator McCarthy
by Norman Berdichevsky (January 2011)
While the term “Religious Right” is one of the most frequently used terms in the political lexicon, notably since the rise of what is usually referred to as the Evangelical Churches, the Political Left is alive and well and a strong crutch for the Democratic Party calling for “social justice.” During the first term of the Eisenhower administration, the role of American churches in politics became a major issue and helped precipitate the campaign to defame and censure Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin. more>>>
It started with a Cuban song, Sofrito, recorded by Mongo Santamaria Y Amigas on the Fantasy record label in early 1960s, just after the Cuban revolution. In Spanish Sofrito means “lightly fried” as in an open air restaurant and I suspect the word has something to do with the Cuban male fascination for brown skinned women, not quite black and not quite white. more>>>
Suppression of Emotion: A Danger to Modern Societies?
by Thomas J. Scheff (January 2011)
This essay proposes that suppression of emotions is a key institution in modern societies, and that it underlies the denial of death and both interpersonal and inter-group violence. The thesis begins with a comparison of traditional and modern societies with respect to their treatment of the social-emotional world. Next a relatively minor instance of suppression is considered: wholehearted belief in an afterlife in heaven. The next step in to review a much more serious process: studies that suggest that war and collective conflict, such as terrorism, may be caused by humiliation and vengeance. Finally, some preliminary steps toward change are discussed. more>>>