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edited by S.B. Kelly
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Emmet Scott
Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
Ibn Warraq
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These are all the Blogs posted on Tuesday, 5, 2013.
Tuesday, 5 February 2013
Lars Hedegaard And Those Who Want To Shut Him Up
  1. News for lars hedegaard

    1. Gunman fires at Danish anti-Islam writer Lars Hedegaard
      NEWS.com.au ‎- 2 hours ago
      A GUNMAN has tried to shoot a Danish writer and prominent critic of Islam, but the writer managed to fend him off and was not injured in the ...
    1. Ekstra Bladet‎ - 2 hours ago
  2. Lars Hedegaard - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lars_Hedegaard
    Lars Hedegaard Andersen (born 14 August 1975) is a former Danish cricketer. Hedegaard was a right-handed batsman who bowled right-arm medium pace.
  3. Gunman Shoots at Freedom Fighter Lars Hedegaard in Denmark ...

    atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/.../gunman-shoots-at-freedom-fighter-l...
    3 hours ago – UPDATE: This Copenhagen Post story originally said this (thanks to George Igler): The two assailants “of Arab appearance”, according to ...
  4. Images for lars hedegaard

     - Report images
  5. Answering Muslims: Lars Hedegaard Escapes Shooting in Denmark

    www.answeringmuslims.com/.../lars-hedegaard-escapes-shooting-in.h...
    2 hours ago – Lars Hedegaard has publicly criticized Islam's impact on society. Perhaps he'll take this shooting as proof that his criticisms were wrong.
  6. Anti-Muslim Danish Writer Lars Hedegaard Escapes Assassin's Bullet

    www.ibtimes.co.uk/.../anti-muslims-danish-writer-lars-hede...
    Gianluca Mezzofiore
    38 mins ago – Lars Hedegaard has compared Islam to Nazism and claimed that Muslims rape their own children.

Posted on 02/05/2013 10:46 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 5 February 2013
Ranking Saudi Cleric's Islamic Justification Of Murder Of Stevens, And More
Saudi Cleric, Lecturer At Prophet's Mosque, And Former Dean Of Sharia Faculty At Islamic University At Al-Madina Justifies Killing Of U.S. Ambassador To Libya, Calls For Attacks On Airplanes, Praises Al-Qaeda

The following report is a complimentary offering from MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM).  For JTTM subscription information, click here.

On January 24, 2012, online jihadis posted on YouTube an audio clip of Saudi cleric Muhammad bin Nasser Al-Suhaybani in which he legitimized attacks on Western targets, including diplomats and airplanes, and praised Al-Qaeda. Al-Suhaybani, a former dean of the shari'a faculty at the Islamic University (IU) in Al-Madina, currently holds an official position as a lecturer at the Prophet's Mosque in Al-Madina. Al-Suhaybani's lectures can be found on the Saudi government website for the Prophet's Mosque, www.haramain.gov.sa. Al-Suhaybani's picture, it should be noted, is unavailable, as he refuses to be photographed for religious reasons.


Al-Suhaybani's Twitter account

Asked in the clip for his opinion regarding the appropriate response to "insults to the Prophet," Al-Suhaybani answered that Muslims must muster their zeal and declare war on Westerners, attacking them in their embassies and on their airplanes. He explained that the Western states' ambassadors do not merit protection by treaty, as diplomats traditionally do according to Islamic law, because they represent the government of a state that allows insults to the Prophet, thereby forfeiting such protection.

According to the clip's description, Al-Suhaybani's statements were made in the Prophet's Mosque, apparently during one of his classes. The exact date when the statements were made is unknown, but they were clearly made in reference to the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. One person who commented on the YouTube clip wrote: "This is a fatwa from a master of religious knowledge and a person who speaks the truth openly. I regard it as a groundbreaking fatwa that can be used as a proof before Allah in any jihadi or martyrdom-seeking operation against the crusaders."


Al-Suhaybani's page on
www.haramain.gov.sa

Following are excerpts from Al-Suhaybani's statements:

"This Ambassador Nullified His Treaty"

[Unidentified speaker]: "What should be the Muslim's stance toward insults to the Prophet, and is protesting against them good?"

Al-Suhaybani: "By Allah, on this matter we pray to Allah to put an end to the evil of these infidels. [As it says in Koran 2:217:] 'They will not cease to fight you until they force you to renounce your faith.' However, Allah the Exalted made it clear that we must have zeal... 'But, if after coming to terms with you, they break their oaths and revile your faith, make war on the leaders of unbelief – for no oaths are binding with them – so that they may desist. Will you not fight against those who have broken their oaths and conspired to banish the Apostle? They were the first to attack you. Do you fear them? Surely Allah is more worthy of your fear.' [Koran 9:12].

"It is not permissible to remain silent vis-à-vis these people or to treat them tolerantly. Regretfully, instead of rebuking [those who insulted the Prophet], and not merely rebuking but also [acting in] zeal – the [governments] of the Islamic countries kill the masses that come out to show their zeal [for the Prophet.] They have apologized to the infidels and killed [the protestors.] That is to say, a number of zealous people who came out to protest what happened to the Prophet were killed. [Even] this did not please the Westerners.

"An ambassador was killed – this ambassador had nullified his 'ahd [treaty] and did not merit protection. Whoever nullifies the treaty by insulting the Prophet has no treaty... When the infidels insult the Prophet, they have no treaty, neither an ambassador nor anybody else. The ambassador represents his misguided, infidel government.

"Did [these] governments renounce what happened in their countries? They were ambiguous about it. If anyone speaks out against them [in our countries], they call him a terrorist and demand that he be handed over to them. Isn't this not so? But we stand with our arms crossed, and regretfully – what is worse – we try to please them by having the police kill those protestors who are zealous for what has been done to the Prophet. And they apologize to the infidels and brag about this.

"Do you fear them? Surely Allah is more worthy of your fear. We ask Allah to put a stop to their evil and harm. Their insults to the Prophet do not cease. This recurs in the countries of Europe – in France, in Holland, in Belgium, as well as in the U.S..."

The Victories Of "Our Brothers In Afghanistan... Make Us Happy"

"They do this in order to abuse and ridicule the Muslims, and their religious practices and feelings. The Islamic governments must say no. They must not treat the matter mildly or with tolerance. They must let the Muslim peoples act as they please and do what they wish to do. Trust Allah and be honest with Allah. Allah the exalted said: 'Had Allah willed, He could have Himself punished them; but He has ordained it thus that He might test you, the one by the other.' [Koran 47:4] If Allah willed it, no infidel would say anything, and if he did, Allah would strike him with lightning. However, he left the matter to us, [to see] if we will be zealous or not.

"All these statements calling on the Muslim peoples to boycott [Western products] are mistaken. Rather, the right thing to do is for the Muslim peoples to show zeal and anger in a manner that fits the stature of the Prophet, to the extent that the infidels are deterred and feel that the Muslims will not leave them alone. They should chase them down in their embassies, in their consulates, and in their airplanes, on land and in the sea. This is what should be done. We will not surrender to them or abide [their insults].

"They should declare war! Are we not a people of war? Our brothers in Afghanistan – their victories these days make us happy. They destroyed airplanes and killed many of Allah's enemies, even though they are few. They have very few weapons, but Allah has blessed their efforts, and we pray that He [continue] to bless their efforts. We also pray that He grant success to the Muslims in Palestine, that they may declare a jihad war there and forget about this nonsense [of negotiating with Israel], [and that Allah] grant our brothers in Syria a swift victory and deliver them from this tyrant [Assad] and his followers and supporters. I pray that He lead us all to what pleases Him..."

Al-Suhaybani's Anti-American Opinions On Twitter

In the past, Al-Suhaybani has expressed strong anti-American opinions on his Twitter account (http://twitter.com/mns979). On May 1, 2012, he harshly criticized the Afghan government for requesting security assistance from the U.S., to which he referred as "the great tyrant [al-taghout al-akbar]." On March 28, 2012, he criticized the Pakistani parliament for considering to resume supplying NATO. He wrote: "The Pakistani parliament is considering to renew the [approval for the] supplying of the Christian – American and European – forces, NATO, that have been fighting our Muslims brothers in Afghanistan for ten years. There is no doubt that supplying these forces in their war on the Muslims constitutes an apostasy from Islam…" In another occasion, Al-Suhaybani praised an Afghan soldier who was sentenced to death for killing five NATO soldiers. He said: "This Afghan mujahid killed five Christian invaders. The hypocrite apostates sentenced him to death. The Prophet said of this man and those who are like him 'he is one of mine and I am one of his'."

Posted on 02/05/2013 7:17 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 5 February 2013
Dr. Morsi Greets Professor Ahmadinejad In Cairo, While Those F-16s Are Still Waiting To Be Unwrapped

The first speech Morsi gave as president was to demand that the American government release the Blind Sheik and return him to Egypt. He was then discovered -- not by the Americans, but by El Baradei and the other advanced Egyptians -- to be a new despot, worse than Mubarak, placing his fellow primitives in positions of power. He was then discovered -- not by the American government, but by that indispensable organization (imagine how much the Arabs and Muslims would pay to shut it down), www.MEMRI.org, to have made remarks about Jews that would have been completely fitting in the pages of Der Stuermer, c. 1939, or in a speech by Adolf Hilter, from the 1920s on. And now, having visited Iran, a state that the American government is trying to isolate as part of a campaign to demoralize the Islamic Republic of iran, and force it to abandon its nuclear project, Morsi welcomes Ahmadinejad, like him a fellow primitive, both of them brain-damaged for exactly the same reasons -- an overdose of Islam. 

The story, from Reuters:

Iran's Ahmadinejad in Egypt on historic visit

Photo

By Tom Perry and Shaimaa Fayed

CAIRO (Reuters) - Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Egypt on Tuesday on the first trip by an Iranian president since the 1979 revolution, underlining a thaw in relations since Egyptians elected an Islamist head of state.

President Mohamed Mursi, the Muslim Brotherhood politician elected in June, kissed Ahmadinejad as he disembarked from his plane at Cairo airport. The leaders walked down a red carpet, Ahmadinejad smiling as he shook hands with waiting dignitaries.

Visiting Cairo to attend an Islamic summit that begins on Wednesday, the president of the Shi'ite Islamist republic is due to meet later on Tuesday with the grand sheikh of al-Azhar, one of the oldest seats of learning in the Sunni world. [part of the attempt to make Sunnis believe that Shi'a are full-fledged acceptable Muslims -- but takfiris everywhere will remain murderously unconvinced, and even non-takfiri Sunnis can't accept Shi'a as the real thing. And that, for non-Muslims, is a good thing.]

Such a visit would have been unthinkable during the rule of Hosni Mubarak, the military-backed autocrat who preserved Egypt's peace treaty with Israel during his 30 years in power and deepened ties between Cairo and the West.

"The political geography of the region will change if Iran and Egypt take a unified position on the Palestinian question," Ahmadinejad said in an interview with Al Mayadeen, a Beirut-based TV station, on the eve of his visit.

He said he wanted to visit the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian territory which neighbors Egypt to the east and is run by the Islamist movement Hamas. "If they allow it, I would go to Gaza to visit the people," Ahmadinejad said.

Analysts doubt that the historic changes that brought Mursi to power in Egypt will result in a full restoration of diplomatic ties between states whose relations were broken off after the Iranian revolution and the conclusion of Egypt's peace treaty with Israel in 1979.

OBSTACLES TO FULL TIES

At the airport the two leaders discussed ways of boosting relations between their countries and resolving the Syrian crisis "without resorting to military intervention", Egyptian state media reported.

Egypt is concerned by Iran's support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is trying to crush an uprising inspired by the revolt that swept Mubarak from power two years ago. Egypt's overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim population is broadly supportive of the uprising against Assad's Alawite-led administration.

The Mursi administration also wants to safeguard relations with Gulf Arab states that are supporting Cairo's battered state finances and are deeply suspicious of Iran. [let's see what Saudi Arabia does after this visit -- not that it was ever in the habit of sharing its wealth, beyond paltry sums, with fellow members of the Umma]

Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr reassured Gulf Arab allies that Egypt would not jeopardize their security.

"The security of the Gulf states is the security of Egypt," he told the official MENA news agency, in response to questions about Cairo's opening to Iran and its impact on other states in the region.

Mursi wants to preserve ties with the United States, the source of $1.3 billion in aid each year to the influential Egyptian military.

His government has established close ties with Hamas, a movement backed by Iran and shunned by the West because of its hostility to Israel, but its priority is addressing Egypt's deep economic problems.

"The restoration of full relations with Iran in this period is difficult, despite the warmth in ties ... because of many problems including the Syrian crisis and Cairo's links with the Gulf states, Israel and the United States," said one former Egyptian diplomat.

Speaking to Reuters on the sidelines of preparatory meetings for the two-day Islamic summit, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said he was optimistic that ties could grow closer.

"We are gradually improving. We have to be a little bit patient. I'm very hopeful about the expansion of the bilateral relationship," he said. Asked where he saw room for closer ties, he said: "Trade and economics."

Ahmadinejad's visit to Egypt follows Mursi's visit to Iran in August for a summit of the Non-Aligned Movement. [most of whose members are now firmly Aligned With Islam]

Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, head of the 1,000-year-old al-Azhar mosque and university, will meet Ahmadinejad at his offices in mediaeval Islamic Cairo, al-Azhar's media office said.

Salehi, the Iranian foreign Minister, stressed the importance of Muslim unity when he met Sheikh al-Tayeb at al-Azhar last month. [of course he did -- the Shi'a Iranians keep thinking they can get the Sunnis to recognize them as full-fledged Muslims, every bit their equal, and that of course will never happen]

Egypt and Iran have taken opposite courses since the late 1970s. Egypt, under Mubarak's predecessor Anwar Sadat, concluded a peace treaty with Israel in 1979 and became a close ally of the United States and Europe. Iran from 1979 turned into a center of opposition to Western influence in the Middle East.

Symbolically, Iran named a street in Tehran after the Islamist who led the 1981 assassination of Sadat. [why stop there? Why not a Bin Laden Boulevard right through North Tehran?]

Egypt gave asylum and a state funeral to Iran's exiled Shah Reza Pahlavi, who was overthrown by the 1979 Iranian revolution. He is buried in a medieval Cairo mosque alongside his ex-brother-in-law, Egypt's last king, Farouk.

Posted on 02/05/2013 7:21 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 5 February 2013
Elyse Kahn: Bla.la, The Anti-Israel On-Line Dictionary

From JSS:

Bla.la, le dictionnaire en ligne qui s’attaque ouvertement à Israël (et qui dit n’importe quoi !)

Publié le : 5 février 2013
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C’était un de ces sites internet que je ne connaissais pas jusqu’à ce matin. Un dictionnaire en ligne qui a été créé pour permettre gratuitement à ses utilisateurs de comprendre le sens d’un mot à travers des expressions. Une très belle initiative au demeurant, lancée par un groupe de jeunes Allemands.

Les fondateurs du site: Andreas Schroeter, Thomas Schroeter, Patrick Uecker

Les fondateurs du site: Andreas Schroeter, Thomas Schroeter, Patrick Uecker

Oui mais voilà, la raison pour laquelle on m’a parlé de ce dictionnaire est une mauvaise raison. Comme c’est le cas, trop souvent, avec des dizaines d’autres sites internet.

Un lecteur de JSSNews a donc attiré notre attention sur la traduction du mot « greedy », adjectif anglais qui signifie cupide, gourmand, avare, glouton ou avide.

Capture d’écran 2013-02-05 à 10.07.57

Le principe du dictionnaire étant aux utilisateurs de bien comprendre un mot à travers des expressions fait donc qu’il y a plusieurs exemples de traductions. Des normales comme :

Il y a beaucoup de personnes âpres au gain dans le monde.

ou

Un proverbe suédois dit que  » qui trop embrasse mal étreint « .

Malheureusement, il y a aussi des phrases aussi scandaleuses sur leurs formes que sur la réalité historique. Et forcément, Israël est coupable !

Rejoignez JSSNews sur Facebook !

Voilà ainsi deux exemples d’expressions offertes aux utilisateurs, pour bien comprendre le sens de ce triste mot. Et plus grave encore, la toute première traduction du mot « greedy » est celle qui suit :

greedy {adj.} (aussi: avaricious, covetous)

cupide {adj.}

Israel continued its greedy seizure of Arab territories.

« Israël a poursuivi son acquisition cupide des territoires arabes. »

Capture d’écran 2013-02-05 à 10.08.22

Quelle belle image, n’est-ce pas ? Comment expliquer le mot cupidité si ce n’est en parlant des juifs et d’Israël ? Selon les « académiciens » de ce site, il n’y a rien de tel…

Et ce n’est d’ailleurs pas fini puisque plus bas, on retrouve une autre expression allant dans le même genre :

In truth, Sharon wanted to seize Palestinian land and annex it to Israel in order to satisfy his greedydesires.

En vérité, Sharon a voulu s’emparer du territoire palestinien pour l’annexer à Israël, afin de satisfaire ses convoitises.

De quoi rester bouche bée… Venir parler de Sharon qui a voulu « satisfaire ses convoitises en annexant le territoire palestinien » est d’autant plus un non-sens que c’est lui qui, rappelons-le pour ces historiens en herbe, a désengagé unilatéralement Israël de la bande de Gaza !

Et comme pour appuyer leur opinion négative des Israéliens, ne voilà-t-il pas qu’ils ajoutent, dès la définition suivante :

And you will undoubtedly find them the greediest of all people for life, (more greedy) than even those who associate partners with God.

Et Allah connaît bien les injustes.

Capture d’écran 2013-02-05 à 10.08.48

Le plus drôle est peut-être que le dictionnaire propose des traductions vers 22 langues, dont certaines quasi-inconnues (avec un alphabet différent) mais… pas d’hébreu !

Et encore, ce n’est là la traduction que d’un seul mot. Si vous souhaitez traduire colonisation, ce n’est pas les Etats Colonisateurs qui sortent en premier. Non, ni la France, ni l’Espagne, ni l’Angleterre, ni le Portugal… Ni même les colonisateurs arabes ou chinois. Pas même les ottomans. Non, c’est les israéliens ! Et pas qu’un peu :

Capture d’écran 2013-02-05 à 10.22.38 Capture d’écran 2013-02-05 à 10.22.21 Capture d’écran 2013-02-05 à 10.22.13 Capture d’écran 2013-02-05 à 10.21.53 Capture d’écran 2013-02-05 à 10.21.42 Capture d’écran 2013-02-05 à 10.21.26 Capture d’écran 2013-02-05 à 10.21.12 Capture d’écran 2013-02-05 à 10.21.01 Capture d’écran 2013-02-05 à 10.20.36 Capture d’écran 2013-02-05 à 10.20.28 Capture d’écran 2013-02-05 à 10.20.15 Capture d’écran 2013-02-05 à 10.20.05 Capture d’écran 2013-02-05 à 10.19.54 Capture d’écran 2013-02-05 à 10.19.30 Capture d’écran 2013-02-05 à 10.19.09

Presque 20 définitions de la « colonisation » parlent d’Israël alors que c’est un Etat non-colonial !

Et si vous tapez le nom d’une zone géographique israélienne, le plateau du Golan, remporté par Israël lors d’une guerre défensive, voici la totalité des définitions données par ce dictionnaire:

Capture d’écran 2013-02-05 à 10.32.39

Et l’on pourrait continuer les exemples à n’en plus finir… Mais le plus drôle est le nombre de traduction fausses. Pour n’en citer que deux ou trois:

« 2500 Juifs » donne en anglais « 2500 grecs orthodoxes »

Capture d’écran 2013-02-05 à 10.39.08

« Association internationale des avocats et juristes juifs » devient en anglais: « organisation arabe pour les droits de l’homme »:
Capture d’écran 2013-02-05 à 10.42.07

Et ils ont dit: « Nul n’entrera au Paradis que Juifs ou Chrétiens » devient en anglais; « peu importe ce que vous faites (le bien ou le mal) Dieu le voit d’un bon oeil. »

Capture d’écran 2013-02-05 à 10.45.19

Quoi qu’il en soit, c’est là du grand art dans la pire propagande possible. Juste vicieux ce qu’il faut pour rester discret. Peut-être pourrions-nous dès à présent écrire aux responsables du site pour qu’ils revoient leur copie, non ? Encore que, il ne faut pas rêver.

Posted on 02/05/2013 7:43 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 5 February 2013
Tawadros, Coptic Pope, Criticizes The New Egyptian Constitution

 Egypt's Coptic Christian pope says Islamist-backed constitution discriminatory

AP Interview: Egypt's Coptic Christian pope says Islamist-backed constitution discriminatory

FILE - In this Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012 file photo, Bishop Tawadros, 60, soon to be Pope Tawadros II greets well-wishers, not shown, after being named the 118th Coptic Pope in the Wadi Natrun Monastery complex northwest of Cairo, Egypt. Egypt's Coptic Christian pope has sharply criticized the country's Islamist leadership in an interview with The Associated Press, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013, saying the new constitution is discriminatory and that Christians should not be treated as a minority. Pope Tawadros II also dismisses calls by President Mohammed Morsi for a national dialogue, saying, “We will actively take part in any national dialogue that would benefit the nation, but when a dialogue ends before it starts and none of its results are implemented then we do not take part.” (AP Photo/Roger Anis, El Shorouk Newspaper, File) EGYPT OUT

AL-MUHARRAQ MONASTERY, Egypt - Egypt's Coptic Christian pope sharply criticized the country's Islamist leadership in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, saying the new constitution is discriminatory and Christians should not be treated as a minority.

The comments by Pope Tawadros II reflected the unusually vocal political activist stance he has taken since being enthroned in November as the spiritual leader of the Copts, the main community of Egypt's Christians. His papacy comes as Christians are increasingly worried over the power of Islamists in the country and the rule of President Mohammed Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood.

Tawadros dismissed a national dialogue that Morsi has been holding, ostensibly as a way to broaden decision-making amid criticism that his government concentrates power in the Brotherhood. Most opposition parties have refused to join the dialogue, as has the Coptic Church, calling it mere window dressing

"We will actively take part in any national dialogue that would benefit the nation," Tawadros told The AP. "But when a dialogue ends before it starts and none of its results are implemented then we do not take part."

The 60-year-old pope took issue with references that Morsi has made to Christians as a minority, underlining that the community — which makes up about 10 per cent of the country's 85 million people [some claim there are 15 million Copts]— must be seen as having an equal voice with the Muslim majority.

"We are a part of the soil of this nation. We are not a minority when it comes to value, history and the love of our nation," he said, speaking during a visit to the historic al-Muharraq Monastery, a centuries-old site some 180 miles (300 kilometres) south of Cairo in the province of Assiut. [the Copts who remain as Copts are the descendants of those Egyptians who never succumbed to the "Arab gift" of Islam -- it is they who can lay claim to being the most authentic Egyptians, not those who first islamized and then arabized themselves]

He also criticized the constitution, which Morsi's Islamist allies rammed through to approval in December, angering opponents who said the move reflected the Brotherhood's determination to impose its way without building consensus. Provisions in the document allow for a far stricter implementation of Shariah than in the past, raising opponents' fears that it could bring restrictions on many civil liberties and the rights of women and Christians.

"Some clauses bore a religious slant, and that in itself is discrimination because constitutions are supposed to unite people not divide them," Tawadros said of the charter.

Tawadros' active public stance on politics reflects a new attitude among Christian activists, who say the community must become more vocal in demanding equal status with Muslims. In the past, activists say, Christians relied too much on the church to represent them behind the scenes with the country's power-brokers, a strategy they argue consigned Christians to second-class status.

Tawadros' predecessor, the late Shenouda III, was cautious about public criticism of Egypt's leadership, working instead in backroom arrangements. He close to former President Hosni Mubarak, who until his ouster in February 2011 was seen by many Christians as the community's protector against Islamists.

Nevertheless, under Mubarak's rule, Christians complained of widespread official discrimination and said police failed to move against those accused in attacks on Christians or on churches. Egypt has seen a string of such attacks, before and after Mubarak's fall — sometimes the result of local feuds that take on a sectarian nature, sometimes outright sectarian attacks. In the past two years, hardline Islamists have also become more open in anti-Christian rhetoric.

Tawadros said Morsi's government must take greater action to prevent attacks on Christians.

"Realistically, we want actions not words. We don't want a show. Egypt has changed, we live in a new Egypt now."

Posted on 02/05/2013 8:19 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 5 February 2013
Chuck Hagel, Or, Shouldn't The Mediocre Also Be Represented At The Top?

From The Wall St. Journal:

February 5, 2013

Hagel's Hruska Defense

Will America's next defense secretary vindicate the cause of the mediocre man?

Once upon a time, a Republican senator from Nebraska spoke up for the right of mediocrities to occupy eminent positions of public trust.

"Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers," said Sen. Roman Hruska in 1970 as a defense of G. Harrold Carswell, Richard Nixon's ill-fated nominee to the Supreme Court. "They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they, and a little chance? We can't have all Brandeises, Frankfurters and Cardozos."

Right. And at the Pentagon, we can't have all Stimsons, Forrestals and Marshalls. Which is why America needs another senator from Nebraska to vindicate the cause of the mediocre man.

That man is Chuck Hagel.

Until his confirmation hearing last week, Mr. Hagel was touted as a courageous tribune of the hard but necessary truth. His nomination, according to one sycophant, "may prove to be the most consequential foreign-policy appointment of [ Barack Obama's] presidency." He was hailed as a latter-day Dwight Eisenhower, a military hero mindful of the appropriate limits of U.S. power, a real American bold enough to tell the chicken-hawk neocon pretenders where they could stick it.

As for his claim about the Jewish lobby intimidating people, it was no more than a gaffe in the sense of accidentally telling the naked truth. "I am certain," said another prominent Hagel defender, "that the vast majority of U.S. senators and policy makers quietly believe exactly what Hagel believes on Israel." To take offense at the suggestion that a nefarious assortment of Jews plays the Congress like a marionette was to risk accusations of McCarthyism.

After the hearings, what's left of that defense?

image

Courageous Chuck is done for. He simply folded in the face of questions about his previous positions on Israel, Iran, nuclear Global Zero, Pentagon overspending and so on. If his repentance is sincere, then the ideological iconoclasm that was supposed to be his great recommendation as secretary of defense is no more. If he's insincere, then he's little more than a dissembler trying to advance his career.

Deep-thinking Chuck is no more, either. His befuddlement on Obama administration policy toward Iran—the flubbed remark about containment, the passed note, the re-flub, the coaching from committee Chairman Carl Levin—was almost the least of it. He didn't even seem to grasp the details of the 2011 Budget Control Act that contains the infamous sequester and will be the very thing he'll need to wrestle with immediately if confirmed.

Chuck-in-Charge is also not in the cards. "I won't be in a policy-making position," he said, astonishingly, to a question from West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin. To be the secretary of defense, you see, is a bit like being the grand marshal at an Independence Day parade: You wear a sash, you hold a baton, you say a few words, you smile, wave and walk the route.

It says something about the political state of play that Mr. Hagel's defenders are now whispering that he just won't matter all that much. Serious defense policy will be run by the grown-ups in the White House, people like Ben Rhodes, Valerie Jarrett, Denis McDonough and, of course, the president. That's reassuring.

It also says something about the political moment that Republicans seem prepared to let Mr. Hagel through now that they have drawn a bit of blood. Nebraska's Mike Johanns and Mississippi's Thad Cochran have declared their support for Mr. Hagel. John McCain opposes a filibuster on the grounds that the president deserves an up-or-down vote on his nominee. In theory that's right and, in a sense, honorable. But a political party that can't press a political advantage when it has one is a loser. And who wants an opposition that thinks its honor lies in losing honorably?


In the meantime, it will come as a comfort to America's enemies to know what they'll be getting in a second Obama term.

One is a cabinet without a single hawk or even semi-hawk, whereas only a year ago there were three: Leon Panetta, David Petraeus and even Hillary Clinton. Another is a secretary of defense with an unsteady grasp of a department that may, within a month, be facing a historic and blunt reduction in its budgets. A third is a vice president who has just agreed to yet another round of negotiations with Tehran. And finally there's a president whose second inaugural address was entirely devoted to calling America home for the collective tasks he believes lie ahead.

Ask yourself how Vladimir Putin, Ali Khamenei and Bashar Assad are likely to feel about all of that. Shouldn't America have at least one officer of cabinet rank who scares the daylights out of these people?

If Mr. Hagel had a sense of the seriousness of the office he is now likely to enter, he would withdraw his name from consideration. But the essential characteristic of mediocre people is that they are the last to recognize mediocrity, either in themselves or in others. That our legislators in their wisdom may soon make this man secretary of defense says as much about them as it does about him. Truly, it's a Roman Senate.

Posted on 02/05/2013 8:29 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 5 February 2013
In Tunisia, Head Of Ansar Al-Sharia Complains That Ennahda Is Held Back By Others In Tunisian Government

From Agence France-Presse:

Salafist leader says Tunisia 'obeying' West

GlobalPost-1 hour ago
A Tunisian Salafist leader wanted for deadly violence said the government is in thrall to Western powers, according to an interview banned by ...
Posted on 02/05/2013 8:38 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 5 February 2013
Iran, After 34 Years Of Overdosing On Islam
Just look at it.  What a mess. And what a horror.
Posted on 02/05/2013 8:40 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 5 February 2013
CAMERA: That Textbook Study, That Obvious Tu-Quoque, That Predictable Equivalence

A Few First Impressions of the Israeli-Palestinian Textbook Study

We have yet to thoroughly comb through the new study of Israeli and Palestinian textbooks, but meanwhile, here are a few first impressions.

The Framing (or Spin)

There are the findings, and then there are the ways they are presented. Notable, though hardly surprising, is the way the The New York Times chose to frame the study. For the newspaper it tends to be all about Israel looking bad, and its report in this case is no different: The study, they tell readers, is about Israel being wrong and Palestinians being vindicated. Its headline reads, "Academic Study Weakens Israeli Claim That Palestinian School Texts Teach Hate." (The article's URL, which refers to the study "belying" Israeli claims, suggests an earlier headline may have been even stronger and more off-base in its conclusions.

The newspaper could have more accurately reflected the contents of the researchers' press release, and of the study itself, if it chose any number of other headlines. One example: "Study Shows Israeli Improvement in State Textbooks; Ultra-Orthodox and Palestinian Texts Lag."

The press release, too, seems to tend toward symmetrical language, with the effect of minimizing the overall finding that "the negative presentation of the other, the positive, non-critical presentation of the self, and the absence of images and information about the other, are more pronounced in the Israeli ultra-Orthodox and Palestinian school books than in the Israeli State school books."

The Study

The study makes clear that "When the distribution or balance of positive, neutral and negative characterizations are compared, the Israeli State school books have a significantly less negative overall balance in characterization of the other than the do the Israeli Ultra-Orthodox (difference significant at p=.004) and the Palestinian books (p<.0001)."

Israel's state textbooks come out ahead in the study, but perhaps not nearly as much as they should. There are serious questions about the way passages with clearly distinct qualities are unfairly lumped together. At first glance, at least, it appears that moderate, factual statements in Israeli texts are considered equal to much more extreme statements in Palestinian texts, while positive, humanizing assertions about Palestinians in Israeli textbooks are lumped with sterile passages praising biblical figures revered by both Jewish and Muslims.

For example, under the heading "Examples of negative descriptions of the acts of the other," a straightforward description of the Farhoud, a massacre of Jews in Iraq, is presented as being akin to a claim that "the Zionist entity" was engaged in "imperialism" and in "exterminating" the Palestinian people.

Examples from Israeli books:

Referring to a 1941 pogrom in Iraq: “On the holiday of Shavuot, Arabs attacked Jews and murdered them, including women and children…. The slaughter of the Jews of Bagdad continued for two days without interruption” ...

Examples from Palestinian books:

“…facilitating Jewish migration to Palestine to turn it into a Jewish state after evacuating or exterminating its people, and before this Zionist, imperialist plan... The struggle with the Mandate government and Zionism continued until the Nakba (Catastrophe) took place in 1948… The Palestine war ended with a disaster of which history had not seen the like, and Zionist gangs usurped Palestine and displaced its people from their cities, villages, land, and houses, and founded the state of Israel... The tragedy was exacerbated with the Zionist entity's occupation of what remains of Palestine...

Likewise, the "positive characterizations of the other" in Israeli books appear to be significantly more real, contemporary, and humanizing, whereas the one example the report provides of a positive characterization by Palestinians of the other is one about divine books being revealed to Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus. The study does not point out that all of these figures are considered prophets in Islam, which makes the classification of them as "the other" much more dubious.

Examples of positive descriptions of the acts of the other from Israeli books:

One example from an Israeli State school book when discussing the pogrom in Hebron in 1929: “If not for the brave stand of a British police officer and moderate Arabs who physically defended their Jewish neighbors, the slaughter would have been more awful” (State secular schools, National World 2 - Building a State in the Middle East [ עול×� ל×�ומי ב' - בוני×� מדינה במזרח התיכון ], Grade 10, Part 2, p.30, LP345).
Another example: “‘I saw it as my obligation as a Muslim Arab to offer help to an Israeli soldier injured in an accident’ said Abdullah Yusef Yunes… who offered help and drove an Israeli soldier in his vehicle” (State secular schools, Through the Words: Book D [ דרך המילי×�: ספר ד'. כנרת ], 2009, Grade 4, Part 4, p.203, LP1892).
“Abu Salah had long been our friend and neighbor. Only a low stone fence separated our cemetery and his house. In the summer, Abu Salah would bring us coal for the bakery oven, and in the winter, when our car got stuck in the mud, he would bring the milk on his camels” (State religious schools, Open the Gate: Anthology for 6th Grade,[ פתחו ×�ת השער: מקר×�×” לכיתה ו '], Grade 6, p. 304, LP1254). ...

An example of positive description of the act of the other from Palestinian books

The following divine books: 1 - "The messages of Abraham (peace be upon him) and Moses call for belief in God Almighty, worshipping Him, and following noble morals". 2 - The Torah: Was revealed to Moses (peace be upon him) to guide the children of Israel. 3 - The Zabour: Was revealed to David (peace be upon him) with sermons and guidance for the children of Israel. 4 - The Gospel: Was revealed to Jesus (peace be upon him) to guide the children of Israel, and to reaffirm what Moses (peace be upon him) had brought”. Islamic Education part 1 grade 3 p. 17

Other examples of the authors sloppily lumping passages with distinctly different qualities, and equating straightforward factual descriptions with ideological or even flatly inaccurate assertions appears, at first glance, to be all too common in the study.

More to come...

Posted on 02/05/2013 9:24 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 5 February 2013
Bulgaria Finds Hezbollah Responsible

From The New York Times:

Bulgaria Implicates Hezbollah in Deadly Israeli Bus Blast

SOFIA, Bulgaria — The Bulgarian government said Tuesday that two of the people behind a deadly bombing attack that targeted an Israeli tourist bus six months ago were believed to be members of the military wing of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

The announcement could force the European Union to reconsider whether to designate the group as a terrorist organization and crack down on its extensive fund-raising operations across the continent. That could have wide-reaching repercussions for Europe’s uneasy détente with the group, which is an influential force in Middle East politics, considers Israel an enemy and has extensive links with Iran.

Bulgaria’s interior minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, said at a news conference that the investigation into the bombing in Burgas in July 2012 found that a man with an Australian passport and a man with a Canadian passport were two of the three conspirators involved in the attack, which claimed the lives of five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver.

Bulgarian investigators had “a well-founded assumption that they belonged to the military formation of Hezbollah,” Mr. Tsvetanov said.

Bulgarian officials have found themselves under pressure from Israel and the United States, which consider Hezbollah a terrorist organization, to blame it for the bus attack. But the Bulgarians also have been facing pressure from European allies like Germany and France, which regard Hezbollah as a legitimate political organization, to temper any finding on the sensitive issue.

Mr. Tsvetanov spoke to reporters here after briefing top government officials and security personnel about the state of the investigation.

The European calculation all along has been that whatever its activities in the Middle East, Hezbollah does not pose a threat on the Continent. Thousands of Hezbollah members and supporters operate in Europe essentially unrestricted, raising money that is funneled back to the group in Lebanon.

Changing the designation to a terrorist entity raises the prospect of unsettling questions for Europe — how to deal with those supporters, for example — and the sort of confrontation governments have sought to avoid.

“There’s the overall fear if we’re too noisy about this, Hezbollah might strike again, and it might not be Israeli tourists this time,” said Sylke Tempel, editor in chief of the German foreign affairs magazine Internationale Politik.

The significance of their determination has put pressure on Bulgarian officials, who would like to maintain strong ties with both Israel and the United States, and European allies like France and Germany. Bulgarian officials had maintained a studied silence for more than six months since the attack.

“If you factor in the suspicion that there are political implications beyond Bulgaria’s borders, it’s completely understandable that they’ve been playing for time,” said Dimitar Bechev, head of the Sofia office of the European Council on Foreign Relations.

Mr. Tsvetanov spoke after the meeting of the president’s council for national security, which includes the prime minister, top cabinet members and military and security personnel.

Bulgarian officials are acutely aware of the consequences of their findings even though larger European Union members did not exert blatant pressure on them regarding the Hezbollah question. “It was not a campaign,” said Philipp Missfelder, a leading member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats and the foreign-policy spokesman for the party in Parliament. “Some German officials dropped a few words.”

But Mr. Missfelder said that attitudes toward Hezbollah were gradually shifting. “It’s clear that they are steered from Iran and they are destabilizing the region,” Mr. Missfelder said. “The group that thinks Hezbollah is a stabilizing factor is getting smaller.”

Hezbollah’s dual nature as what Western intelligence agencies call a terrorist organization and a political party with significant social projects, including schools and health clinics, make it more difficult to dismiss. Hezbollah is a significant political actor in Lebanon, and many European officials are particularly wary of upsetting the status quo as the civil war drags on in Syria.

A sort of modus vivendi exists where Hezbollah keeps a low profile for its fund-raising and other activities and Europeans do not crack down. In Germany alone, 950 people have been identified as being associated with the organization as of 2011. The group has always been treated as a benign force, [!] even if assessments of the danger it presented vary greatly.
Posted on 02/05/2013 9:30 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 5 February 2013
France Now Criticizes Qatar For Its Role In Mali

Rich little Qatar richly deserves "une bonne baffe." A law should be introduced by someone in the Assemblee Nationale, making it illegal for those who "promote the Jihad" (or words to that effect) to own property in France or to visit France. What would the Qataris, what would the other rich Arabs do, if they couldn't visit France, England, the rest of the West? What if they were condemned to the hells -- expensive hells, hells with private 747s and every possible luxury the West could supply, but hells nonetheless -- of their own rich but  wretched  countries? They couldn't stand it. 

From Middle East Online:

France launches unprecedented campaign against Qatar role in Mali

Leader of Socialist Party in France slams ‘form of indulgence" from Qatar ‘towards terrorist groups who occupied northern Mali’, asking Emirate for ‘policy clarification’.

Middle East Online

Desir: This attitude coming from Qatar is not normal

PARIS - The Leader of the ruling Socialist Party in France, Harlem Desir, slammed on Sunday "a form of indulgence" from Qatar "towards the terrorist groups who occupied northern Mali," asking the Gulf Emirate for a "policy clarification ".

Desir noted that "political statements of a number of Qatari officials had challenged the French intervention" in Mali.

"There is an attitude that is not cooperative and that can be considered as a form of leniency towards the terrorist groups who occupied northern Mali. This attitude coming from Qatar is not normal," added Desire at a weekly political programme on one of the Jewish community radio in France, Radio J.

"We need a policy clarification from Qatar who has always denied any role in funding terrorist groups. On the diplomatic level, Qatar should adopt a much stronger, and firmer position towards these groups who threaten the security of the Sahel region,” added Desir.

Qatar has a vested interest in the outcome of the north Mali crisis, according to various reports that have been picked up by French MPs, amid suspicion that Doha may be siding with the rebels to extend its regional influence.

Since Islamist groups exploited a military coup in the Malian capital of Bamako in early 2012 to take control of the entire north of the country, accusations of Qatari involvement in a crisis that has seen France deploy troops have been growing.

Two French politicians explicitly accused Qatar of giving material support to separatists and Islamists in north Mali, adding fuel to speculation that the Emirate is playing a behind-the-scenes role in spreading Islamic fundamentalism in Africa.

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen and Communist Party Senator Michelle Demessine both said that that Qatar had questions to answer.

“If Qatar is objecting to France’s engagement in Mali it’s because intervention risks destroying Doha’s most fundamentalist allies,” Le Pen said in a statement on her party website, in response to a call by Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani for dialogue with the Islamists.

The first accusations of Qatari involvement with Tuareg separatists and Islamist groups came in a June 2012 article in French weekly the Canard Enchaine.

In a piece title “Our friend Qatar is financing Mali’s Islamists”, the newspaper claimed that the oil-rich Gulf state was financing the separatists.

It quoted an unnamed source in French military intelligence saying: “The secular Tuareg separatists (MNLA), Al Qaeda-linked Ansar Dine and Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) have all received cash from Doha.”

A month later told RTL radio: “The French government knows perfectly well who is supporting these terrorists. Qatar, for example, continues to send so-called aid and food every day to the airports of Gao and Timbuktu.”

The presence of Qatari NGOs in north Mali is no secret. Last summer, in the wake of the separatist takeover, the Qatari Red Crescent was the only humanitarian organisation granted access to the vast territory.

One member of the Qatari humanitarian team said at the end of June that they had simply “come to Gao to evaluate the humanitarian needs of the region in terms of water and electricity access.”

Regional geopolitical expert Mehdi Lazar, who specialises on Qatar, wrote in French weekly news magazine L’Express in December that Doha’s relationship with predominantly Muslim north Mali was deeply entrenched.

“Qatar has an established a network of institutions it funds in Mali, including madrasses (religious schools), schools and charities that it has been funding from the 1980s,” he wrote, adding that Qatar would be expecting a return on this investment.

Mali has huge oil and gas potential and it needs help developing its infrastructure,” he said. “Qatar is well placed to help, and could also, on the back of good relations with an Islamist-ruled north Mali, exploit rich gold and uranium deposits in the country.” [Qatar -- where Arab supremacism, for which islam is a vehicle, becomes old-fashioned economic imperialism]

Posted on 02/05/2013 11:11 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 5 February 2013
A Kiss Is Just A Kiss, But Even As Time Goes By, Shiites Are Never Going To Be Accepted As Full-Fledged Muslims By Sunnis

Iran's Ahmadinejad kissed and scolded in Egypt

Photo
12:02pm EST

By Tom Perry and Yasmine Saleh

CAIRO (Reuters) - Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was both kissed and scolded on Tuesday when he began the first visit to Egypt by an Iranian president since Tehran's 1979 Islamic revolution.

The trip was meant to underline a thaw in relations since Egyptians elected an Islamist head of state, President Mohamed Mursi, last June. But it also highlighted deep theological and geopolitical differences.

Mursi, a member of the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood, kissed Ahmadinejad after he landed at Cairo airport and gave him a red carpet reception with military honors. Ahmadinejad beamed as he shook hands with waiting dignitaries.

But the Shi'ite Iranian leader received a stiff rebuke when he met Egypt's leading Sunni Muslim scholar later at Cairo's historic al-Azhar mosque and university.

Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, head of the 1,000-year-old seat of religious learning, urged Iran to refrain from interfering in Gulf Arab states, to recognize Bahrain as a "sisterly Arab nation" and rejected the extension of Shi'ite Muslim influence in Sunni countries, a statement from al-Azhar said.

Visiting Cairo to attend an Islamic summit that begins on Wednesday, Ahmadinejad told a news conference he hoped his trip would be "a new starting point in relations between us".

However, a senior cleric from the Egyptian seminary, Hassan al-Shafai, who appeared alongside him, said the meeting had degenerated into an exchange of theological differences.

"There ensued some misunderstandings on certain issues that could have an effect on the cultural, political and social climate of both countries," Shafai said.

"The issues were such that the grand sheikh saw that the meeting ... did not serve the desired purpose."

The visit would have been unthinkable during the rule of Hosni Mubarak, the military-backed autocrat who preserved Egypt's peace treaty with Israel during his 30 years in power and deepened ties between Cairo and the West.

"The political geography of the region will change if Iran and Egypt take a unified position on the Palestinian question," Ahmadinejad said in an interview with Al Mayadeen, a Beirut-based TV station, on the eve of his trip.

He said he wanted to visit the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian territory which neighbors Egypt to the east and is run by the Islamist movement Hamas. "If they allow it, I would go to Gaza to visit the people," Ahmadinejad said.

Analysts doubt that the historic changes that brought Mursi to power will result in a full restoration of diplomatic ties between states whose relations were broken off after the conclusion of Egypt's peace treaty with Israel in 1979.

At the airport the two leaders discussed ways of improving relations and resolving the Syrian crisis "without resorting to military intervention", Egyptian state media reported.

Egypt is concerned by Iran's support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is trying to crush an uprising inspired by the revolt that swept Mubarak from power two years ago. Egypt's overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim population is broadly supportive of the uprising against Assad's Alawite-led administration.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr sought to reassure Gulf Arab allies - that are supporting Cairo's battered state finances and are deeply suspicious of Iran - that Egypt would not jeopardize their security.

"The security of the Gulf states is the security of Egypt," he said in remarks reported by the official MENA news agency.

Mursi wants to preserve ties with the United States, the source of $1.3 billion in aid each year to the influential Egyptian military.

"The restoration of full relations with Iran in this period is difficult, despite the warmth in ties ... because of many problems including the Syrian crisis and Cairo's links with the Gulf states, Israel and the United States," said one former Egyptian diplomat.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said he was optimistic that ties could grow closer.

"We are gradually improving. We have to be a little bit patient. I'm very hopeful about the expansion of the bilateral relationship," he told Reuters. Asked where he saw room for closer ties, he said: "Trade and economics."

Egypt and Iran have taken opposite courses since the late 1970s. Egypt, under Mubarak's predecessor Anwar Sadat, concluded a peace treaty with Israel in 1979 and became a close ally of the United States and Europe. Iran from 1979 turned into a center of opposition to Western influence in the Middle East.

Symbolically, Iran named a street in Tehran after the Islamist who led the 1981 assassination of Sadat.

Egypt gave asylum and a state funeral to Iran's exiled Shah Reza Pahlavi, who was overthrown in the 1979 Iranian revolution. He is buried in a mosque beside Cairo's mediaeval Citadel alongside his ex-brother-in-law, Egypt's last king, Farouk.

Posted on 02/05/2013 11:40 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 5 February 2013
Egyptian Shi'ite And Sunni Show Television Viewers How To Calmly Discuss Differences
Watch here.
Posted on 02/05/2013 11:47 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 5 February 2013
Sunnis And Shi'a In Egypt Enjoy A Cooking Show Together
Watch here.
Posted on 02/05/2013 11:54 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 5 February 2013
An Algerian Journalist On The Hopelessness Of Arab (Muslim)Societies
Watch here.
Posted on 02/05/2013 12:01 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 5 February 2013
Disputatio Theologicae: Sunni And Shi'a Clerics Have An Exchange Of Views

Watch here.

Posted on 02/05/2013 1:04 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 5 February 2013
Iranian Sunni Cleric, In Exile, On Those Lying Dangerous Rafidites In Iran
Watch here.
Posted on 02/05/2013 1:21 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 5 February 2013
Shia In Turkey Worried About "Terrifying Campaign" Against Them By Sunnis

From Al-Monitor:

Turkey’s Shiites Fear
Sectarian Realignment

     


The Zeynebiye mosque in Istanbul is not graced by domes or cupolas; only a stubby minaret marks the flat-roofed utilitarian building in the Halkali neighborhood as a place of worship. On a recent Friday, thousands of protesters gathered outside it after noon prayers to vent their frustration with Ankara’s support for Syrian rebels, its standoff with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and its support for NATO’s missile shield.


“Shia and Sunni are brothers; those dividing them are traitors,” the crowd of Shiite worshippers chanted. [they do this, of course,  because they are afraid of the Sunis and want to proclaim a Muslim unity that does not exist]

As the Middle East is shaken up along sectarian fault lines, cracks are opening within Turkey, where an increasingly restive Shiite minority is feeling sidelined and beleaguered by their country’s perceived alignment with Sunni powers in the region.

“The government is aligning Turkey with a regional Sunni front,” Ali Özgündüz, a Shiite member of Turkey’s parliament, charged in an interview with Al-Monitor in Istanbul. “It is also trying to create an internal front between Sunni and Shia within this society.”

Özgündüz is a member of the Caferi community, which hails originally from the eastern regions of Turkey and numbers around three million believers. The Caferi have long complained of discrimination in this predominantly Sunni country, where the state builds Sunni mosques and trains salaried Sunni clerics at taxpayers’ expense and to the exclusion of other faiths. It is a complaint shared by other Shia communities under the umbrella identity of the Alevi, in which the Caferi count themselves and whose total number is estimated at up to 20 million out of 70 million Turks.

“Our constitution says we are a secular state, but unfortunately it is not so,” Özgündüz said, pointing to the annual three-billion-dollar budget allocated to the religious-affairs department. “This is a Sunni state, whose state-run religious-affairs department serves only Sunni Islam, and only the Hanafi school at that.”

Unlike the Sunni majority, Shiite communities must raise the money to buy their land, build their mosques and pay their clerics themselves.

“We do not complain about that, because we believe religion should be separate from the state,” Hasan Kanaatli, president of the Shiite Scholar’s Association, or Ehlader, told Al-Monitor in an interview at the association’s Istanbul headquarters. “But we do demand that we should be given a fair share of the taxes that we pay.”

Even more acutely felt is the Turkish state's monopoly on religious education, which effectively amounts to a ban on clerical training for non-Sunni faiths.

“Thanks to the 1923 Lausanne peace treaty, Christians and Jews at least have a legal right to their own seminaries in Turkey, even if that is currently problematic,” Özgündüz said. “But we Caferi and Alevi have no such rights here, and we have not had them for 500 years.”

By necessity, the Caferi send their clergy to Najaf in Iraq and to Qom in Iran for training.

“I myself traveled illegally to study in Iraq and Iran at the age of 13,” Kanaatli, now 55 years old, recounted. “I was expelled first by Saddam Hussein and then by Imam Khomeini, and I was away from home for nine years — can you imagine what that was like?” The need to train abroad also lays the Caferi open to suspicions and charges of acting as spies or as a fifth column for Iran or Iraq, occasionally surfacing in the Turkish press.

Nevertheless, the Caferi have always been dedicated defenders of the Turkish Republic, which they see as all that stands between them and annihilation. Portraits of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the republic, hang alongside that of the Imam Ali in Caferi mosques and Alevi houses of worship. Conversations with Caferi leaders inevitably turn to Sultan Selim I, who massacred tens of thousands of Shiites in the 16th century, and the persecution of Shia in the Ottoman Empire.

“It is only thanks to the republic that we can practice our faith at all, that we are not persecuted and massacred like in Ottoman times,” Özgündüz said. “In spite of all the injustice and discrimination we suffer at the hands of the state, we are devoted to it and do not rise up against it.”

It is with growing alarm, and against this backdrop, that Turkish Shia have been following recent shifts in Turkey’s foreign policy along a perceived Sunni-Shia divide in the Middle East, as Turkey sides with Sunni forces in Syria and Iraq and distances itself from Iran while maintaining alliances with Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

“We cannot understand what has come over them,” Kanaatli said about the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). “In its first two terms of office, the AKP did a great job. We Caferi were very happy with them. But now this business of remaking the Middle East has begun, and we are worried.”

In sermons and speeches, Caferi leaders have been asking why Turkey supports Sunni rebels in Syria but not Shiite protesters in Bahrain, and why Syria is condemned as a dictatorship while Saudi Arabia remains an ally.

“It shows that this is a sectarian front,” Özgündüz said. It is a concern shared by the more cautiously spoken spiritual leader of the Caferi, Selahattin Özgündüz, a cousin of the member of parliament. “Recent developments in Syria and Iraq have created an impression in some places that Turkey is taking a sectarian approach,” the imam told Al-Monitor in an interview in Istanbul.

The tipping point came when the Turkish government granted refuge to Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi from murder charges in Iraq last year.

“Until then, we had taken the news from Syria with caution, but with the Hashemi affair, the government gave itself away,” Zeynelabdin Solhan, a Caferi imam and board member of Ehlader, told the Shia website Shafaqna in remarks confirmed to Al-Monitor by the association. “By speaking of the ‘Shiite Prime Minister al-Maliki’ and the persecuted Sunni al-Hashemi, it instilled a sectarian approach in us all.

This kind of speech, widespread in the Turkish media, has alarmed and infuriated Turkey’s Shia. “In no other country do we mention the sectarian affiliation of the prime minister, but here it is all about the Shiite al-Maliki and the Alawite regime in Syria,” said Özgündüz, the politician.

Solhan called it a “very dangerous” practice. “Tomorrow, the Iraqi press will speak of the ‘Sunni Prime Minister Erdogan’,” he warned.

Caferi leaders fear that sectarian politics will not remain limited to foreign policy. “If politicians start scratching the sectarian itch, this will reverberate in society,” Özgündüz warned. Solhan spoke of a “terrifying campaign” underway against the Shia in the country’s conservative media. “Turkey’s attitude is radicalizing not only surrounding countries, but also people within this country,” the imam said.

Kanaatli, the Shiite scholar, fears that the country may be reverting back to older ways. “Atatürk changed everything that was left over from the Ottoman Empire — the alphabet, the clothing, the laws — but there was one inheritance he did not change, and that is the sectarian bigotry,” Kanaatli said. “Even Atatürk could not stamp it out — or perhaps he did not want to.”

Susanne Güsten is a foreign correspondent reporting from Turkey.


Posted on 02/05/2013 1:28 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 5 February 2013
What Are The People, And Government, Of France Going To Do About This?

From The New York Times:

February 3, 2013

More in France Are Turning to Islam, Challenging a Nation’s Idea of Itself

Agnes Dherbeys for The New York Times

The Sahaba mosque in Créteil, a Paris suburb, popular with those converting to Islam, which is a small but growing number.

CRÉTEIL, France — The spacious and elegant modern building, in the heart of this middle-class suburb of Paris, is known as “the mosque of the converts.”

Every year about 150 Muslim conversion ceremonies are performed in the snow-white structure of the Sahaba mosque in Créteil, with its intricate mosaics and a stunning 81-foot minaret, built in 2008 and a symbol of Islam’s growing presence in France. Among those who come here for Friday Prayer are numerous young former Roman Catholics, wearing the traditional Muslim prayer cap and long robe.

While the number of converts remains relatively small in France, yearly conversions to Islam have doubled in the past 25 years, experts say, presenting a growing challenge for France, where government and public attitudes toward Islam are awkward and sometimes hostile.

French antiterrorism officials have been warning for years that converts represent a critical element of the terrorist threat in Europe, because they have Western passports and do not stand out.

In October, the French police conducted a series of antiterrorism raids across France, resulting in the arrests of 12 people, including at least three French citizens who had recently converted to Islam. Converts “often need to overdo it if they want to be accepted” as Muslims, and so veer into extremism more frequently than others, said Didier Leschi, who was in charge of religious issues at the Interior Ministry under former President Nicolas Sarkozy.

There are persistent concerns that French prisons are fertile ground for conversions and for Islamic radicalism; observant Muslims are thought to make up a least a third of the inmate population, according to French news reports.

Many Muslims counter that they regularly face prejudice, and consider a 2010 law banning the full-face veil from public spaces and the growing concern with conversions as reflections of French intolerance.

Whatever the impact, there is little doubt that conversions are growing more commonplace. “The conversion phenomenon is significant and impressive, particularly since 2000,” said Bernard Godard, who is in charge of religious issues at the Interior Ministry.

Of an estimated six million Muslims in France, about 100,000 are thought to be converts, compared with about 50,000 in 1986, according to Mr. Godard. Muslim associations say the number is as high as 200,000. But France, which has a population of about 65 million, defines itself as secular and has no official statistics broken down by race or creed.

For Mr. Godard, a former intelligence officer, it is the “nature” of conversions that has changed.

Conversions to marry have long been common enough in France, but a growing number of young people are now seen as converting to be better socially integrated in neighborhoods where Islam is dominant.

“In poor districts, it has become a reverse integration,” said Gilles Kepel, an expert on Islam and the banlieues, the poor, predominantly Muslim neighborhoods that ring Paris and other major cities.

Many converts are men younger than 40, experts say, often born in France’s former African colonies or overseas territories.

Charlie-Loup, 21, a student from nearby St.-Maur-des-Fossés, converted to Islam at 19, after a troubled adolescence and strained relations with his mother. He grew up Roman Catholic but had many Muslim friends at school. “Conversions have become a social phenomenon here,” he said, asking that his surname not be used because he considered his conversion a private initiative and did not want to draw attention to himself. Some convert simply “out of curiosity,” he said.

In some predominantly Muslim areas, even non-Muslims observe Ramadan, the Muslim holy month that requires fasting during the day, because they like “the group effect, the festive side of it,” said Samir Amghar, a sociologist and an expert on radical Islam in Europe. [it's like whites imitating the falling-down-pants fashion,and hip-hop music -- identifying with those you fear]

In many banlieues, Islam has come to represent not only a sort of social norm but also a refuge, an alternative to the ambient misery, researchers and converts say.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: February 5, 2013

The Memo From France article on Monday about the increasing rate of French conversions to Islam gave outdated information about the sports career of one celebrity convert, Nicolas Anelka. Mr. Anelka once played regularly for the French national soccer team, but has not done so since he set off an uproar during the 2010 World Cup by insulting the coach.
Posted on 02/05/2013 2:24 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 5 February 2013
Global Climate Disruption: Food Will Be Scarcer And More Expensive

Climate change could devastate agriculture

A comprehensive USDA study concludes rising temperatures could cost farmers millions as they battle new pests, faster weed growth and get smaller yields as climate change continues.

WASHINGTON — Climate change could have a drastic and harmful effect on U.S. [and world] agriculture, forcing farmers and ranchers to alter where they grow crops and costing them millions of dollars in additional costs to tackle weeds, pests and diseases that threaten their operations, a sweeping government report said Tuesday.

An analysis released by the Agriculture Department said that although U.S. crops and livestock have been able to adapt to changes in their surroundings for close to 150 years, the accelerating pace and intensity of global warming during the next few decades may soon be too much for the once-resilient sector to overcome.

"We're going to end up in a situation where we have a multitude of things happening that are going to negatively impact crop production," said Jerry Hatfield, a laboratory director and plant physiologist with USDA's Agricultural Research Service and lead author of the study. "In fact, we saw this in 2012 with the drought."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said 2012 was the hottest year ever in the USA since record-keeping began in 1895, surpassing the previous high by a full degree Fahrenheit. The country was battered by the worst drought in more than 50 years, and crops withered away in bone-dry fields across the Midwest.

In the report, researchers said U.S. cropland agriculture will be fairly resistant to climate change during the next quarter-century.

Farmers will be able to minimize the impact of global warming on their crops by changing the timing of farming practices and utilizing specialized crop varieties more resilient to drought, disease and heat, among other practices, the report found. Crops also may benefit by increasing the use of irrigation when possible and shifting production areas to regions where the temperature is more conducive for better output. Depending on where they live, some farmers could benefit financially at the expense of others.

By the middle of the century and beyond, adaptation becomes more difficult and costly as plants and animals that have adapted to warming climate conditions will have to do so even more — making the productivity of crops and livestock increasingly more unpredictable. Temperature increases and more extreme swings in precipitation could lead to a drop in yield for major U.S. crops and reduce the profitability of many agriculture operations. The reason is that higher temperatures cause crops to mature more quickly, reducing the growing season and yields as a result. Faster growth could reduce grain, forage, fiber and fruit production if the plants can't get the proper level of nutrients or water.

Among the biggest threat to crops from rising temperatures and accelerated levels of carbon dioxide is an increase in the cost for the agricultural industry to control weeds, a challenge that tops more than $11 billion annually, according to the study. Warmer weather provides an ideal atmosphere for weeds to thrive, but at the same time, it can stunt the growth of traditional plants like grain and soybeans.

The entire USA is likely to warm substantially during the next 40 years, increasing 1-2 degrees Celsius over much of the country, according to the study. The warmth is likely to be more significant in much of the interior USA where temperatures are likely to increase 2-3 degrees Celsius.

The USDA review said climate change will affect livestock by throwing off an animal's optimal core body temperature, which could hurt productivity and limit the production of meat, milk or eggs. A warmer and more humid weather pattern is likely to increase the prevalence of insect and diseases, further diminishing an animal's health and output.

The 146-page report, written by a team of 56 authors from the federal government, universities, the private sector and other groups, stopped short of providing answers on how to stop or curtail global warming. The analysis was done by reviewing more than 1,400 publications that looked at the effect of climate change on U.S. agriculture.

In a separate report, the USDA looked at literature reviewing the impact of climate change on the country's forests. The data indicated the most visible and significant short-term effects on forests will be caused by fire, insects, invasive species or a mix of these occurring together.

Wildfires are likely to increase throughout the USA, causing at least a doubling of area burned by the mid-21st century. "That's the conservative end," said Dave Cleaves, a climate change adviser with the USDA's Forest Service. "We can't just stand back and let these natural conditions occur."

Posted on 02/05/2013 3:56 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 5 February 2013
Operation Radwan: The Hezbollah - al Qods Connection to the Burgas Terror Bombing

Burgas, Bulgaria tourist bus  bombing July 18, 2013

Source: Reuters

Today’s news that Bulgaria’s investigation of the July 18, 2012 Burgas terror bombing of an Israeli tourist bus concluded that two agents of Hezbollah, one carrying an Australian passport and  the other a Canadian one, were the perpetrators.     Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov told reporters in Sofia, "We have established that two were members of the militant wing of Hezbollah. There is information that shows financing and the connection between Hezbollah and the two suspects."


When the terror bombing occurred all Israel grieved  for the loss of five tourists and more than 30 others injured in the Burgas attack.  The Bulgarian tour bus driver was the sixth victim in the terror bombing. 

 
Why the delay of nearly eight months in concluding the Bulgarian investigations?  Was it that Bulgaria needed overwhelming forensic evidence of who sent the perpetrators when Israeli officials concluded it was obvious?  Or was it the queasiness of the Bulgarian government about finally listing Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, only to face possible future terror attacks in the EU? The US had listed Hezbollah as a terrorist group in 2004, as did The Netherlands. Prime Minister Netanyahu drew attention  to the dilemma that now faces the EU in the wake of the Bulgarian disclosures:


The attack in Burgas was an attack on European land against a member of the European Union. We hope the Europeans learn the proper conclusions from this about the true character of Hezbollah.


President Barak Obama’s nominee for Director of Central Intelligence, John Brennan, suggested that European countries  take "proactive action" to uncover Hezbollah’s infrastructure, financing and operational networks in Europe.


Jeff Dunetz on the Yid with Lid blog posted this comment:


Therefore the spotlight is on Europe, will they continue to appease thus siring the next round of people who believe terrorism is a legitimate form of political expression? Or will they stand up and be counted amongst the nations who believe terror is abhorrent?


 When the July 2012 attack occurred, Israeli PM Netanyahu emphatically made clear who might have perpetrated this dastardly act:


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointed the finger at Iran, saying it has been behind a string of recent attempted attacks on Israelis in Thailand, India and Georgia, among others.


"All the signs (are) leading to Iran" he said  "This is a global Iranian terror onslaught and Israel will react firmly to it."


At the time the Simon Wiesenthal Center put out a statement reminding the world media that July 18th was the 18th anniversary of the horrific  bombing of  the AMIA Jewish Community building  in Buenos Aires perpetrated by the late Imad Mughniyeh , Hezbollah terrorist mastermind. Mughniyeh was killed in 2008 when he stepped into his Mitsubishi Pajero which promptly blew up. Mughniyeh was attending an event at the Iranian Embassy in Damascus commemorating the anniversary of the Islamic Republic takeover in 1979.   The allegation was that Mossad did it.  


Mughniyeh’s assassination precipitated Operation Radwan by Hezbollah and Iran’s Qods Force.  Mathew Levitt in a January 2013 Washington Institute for Near East Policy paper on Hizbollah and the Iran’s Qods Force  outlined the  scope of  Operation Radwan:


Operation Radwan (named for Mughniyeh, who was also known as Hajj Radwan) experienced a series of setbacks. These ultimately led Iran and Hezbollah to reassess how they would prosecute, both separately and together, a three-tiered shadow war targeting Israeli, Jewish, American, and sometimes British interests worldwide.


Levitt noted the suspicions of Israeli security officials as to who were the likely perpetrators of the Burgas terror bombing:
From the outset, Israeli officials publicly insisted—and anonymous American and British officials confirmed—that Lebanese Hezbollah was behind the attack. “We are confident without any doubt,” Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak told CNN, “about the responsibility of Hezbollah [for] the actual execution of the operation—preparation, planning and execution.”  Nor, officials added, was the attack the work of rogue Hezbollah gunmen. “Nobody pushes the button in Burgas without Nasrallah’s approval,” explained an Israeli official close to the investigation.


Mughniyeh was not alone in fomenting that heinous terrorist act in Buenos Aires in 1994.  Orchestrating the operation was the current Iranian Defense Minister, Ahmad Vahidi. Note what the Washington Times said about him:


Interpol, the international police agency based in Lyon, France, placed Mr. Vahidi and four other Iranian officials on its most-wanted list in 2007 at the request of Argentine prosecutors, who say the men played a role in planning the July 1994 attack on the seven-story community center in Buenos Aires.


The bombing, which killed 85 people, is thought to have been carried out by members of Hezbollah, a Lebanese militia and political party with close links to Iran.


Kenneth Katzman, a senior analyst on Iraq and Iran at the Congressional Research Service (CRS), said that Mr. Vahidi is also suspected of having played a role in a 1996 attack on the U.S. Air Force barracks in Saudi Arabia known as Khobar Towers.


Incredulously, Iran reached an agreement  in late January 2013 with the troubled Argentine government of President Kristina Fernandez. The agreement covers holding a South African-style Truth Commission Hearing instead of prosecuting Hezbollah and Iranian  perpetrators of the 1994 AMIA blast.  Argentina’s Jewish community rejected this absurd default to terrorism by Ms. Fernandez after nearly 12 years of investigations detailing the Hezbollah - Qods Force terror plot.


The CRS issued a report in December 2012 on Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS).  The report revealed that Burgas had become the European base for launching Iranian terror operations.  Burgas had witnessed a spurt in Israeli tourism on  the Bulgarian shores of  the Black Sea .   Turkey had become an unfriendly vacation destination in the wake of the Mavi Marmara Gaza Flotilla incident and demands by the AKP regime of PM Erdogan for prosecution in absentia of IDF military commanders.  With foiled terror incidents in Cyprus, Israelis opted for what they assumed would be a safer vacation environment in Burgas.  Little did they realize that Hezbollah and the Qods Force already were already fomenting plans to hit unwary Israeli tourists on July 18, 2012.  WINEP analyst  Levitt  noted the significance of the Burgas  terror attack:


As the attack in Burgas demonstrated, terrorists learn from their mistakes, evolve, and adapt, and with sufficient determination they may carry out successful attacks even after a long string of failures.

Posted on 02/05/2013 7:17 PM by Jerry Gordon
Tuesday, 5 February 2013
Michael Totten: Islam's Atempts To Impose Blasphemy Laws Everywhere

From World Affairs:

Radical Islam’s Global Reaction: The Push for Blasphemy Laws

“I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” —Thomas Jefferson

Free speech is under attack in the West, and it’s under attack from abroad. For years radical Islamists have targeted embassies abroad and individuals at home for “insulting” the Prophet Muhammad. And now diplomats and heads of state from Islamist countries are using international oganizations to pressure the West to criminalize blasphemy and are even lobbying for a global censorship regime.

The most recent assault began in Cairo on September 11, 2012, when a deranged mob attacked the US Embassy, breached its walls, and hoisted the black flag of al-Qaeda. Similar scenes of violence and mayhem broke out from Tunisia to Indonesia. Allegedly—although not in the case of the attack in Benghazi that led to the assasination of Ambassador Christopher Stevens—because an Egyptian-American Copt no one had ever heard of before uploaded the trailer for an amateurish anti-Muhammad movie called “The Innocence of Muslims” to YouTube.

The United States government went directly to cringe mode and spent as much time condemning the video as it did the mob.

It started with an official announcement on the Twitter page of the US Embassy in Cairo: “We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others,” the message said. The White House distanced itself and said that response was neither official nor authorized, but Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said something similar a couple of days later. The video, she said, is “disgusting and reprehensible” and “we absolutely reject its content and message.”

There’s no point defending the video aside from its right to exist. I’ve seen it. It’s ludicrous. Clinton’s reaction is normal. But there’s a problem. She’s the chief diplomat of the United States. Condemning random trash on the Internet isn’t her job, not even in response to an international incident. Her statement should have been the same as if an Oscar-winning film inspired a riot.

“There are more than three hundred million ways in which Americans expressing themselves might give offense to those who make it their business to be offended,” Lee Smith argued in the Weekly Standard. “Is the White House going to put every American crank on speed-dial so it can tell them to shut up whenever a mob gathers outside a US embassy or consulate?”

Islamist governments sensed weakness, an opening, an opportunity. The United States was saying they had a point! So they took the next logical step.

Just weeks after the riots, the freshly chosen presidents of Egypt and Yemen took to the podium at the United Nations and demanded that blasphemy be outlawed everywhere in the world, including in the United States. “Insults against the prophet of Islam, Muhammad, are not acceptable,” said Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi. “We will not allow anyone to do this by word or by deed.” “There should be limits for the freedom of expression,” added Yemen’s president, Abed Rabbu Mansour Hadi, “especially if such freedom blasphemes the beliefs of nations and defames their figures.”

Saudi Arabia went even further and advocated an international censorship body to crush blasphemy on the Internet. “There is a crying need for international collaboration to address ‘freedom of expression’ which clearly disregards public order,” the government said.

That’s where things stand. Condemning what they call widespread “Islamophobia,” religious authoritarians are asserting themselves, both violently and diplomatically, while the West cowers and says they’re right to be angry. Hillary Clinton even says she personally shares their anger.

This will not do. It will not do at all. Instead, the United States should go on the offensive and demand that blasphemy be legalized in every country on earth.

This Islamic jihad against free speech started in 1989, when Iran’s tyrant Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for the murder of British novelist Salman Rushdie because the author supposedly blasphemed the Islamic religion in his novel The Satanic Verses. Dozens of people connected with him, his book, and his publisher were attacked—some even killed—in countries as far away as Japan. Bookstores in the United Kingdom and United States were firebombed. The British government took the threat so seriously it provided Rushdie with an around-the-clock armed security detail, and he had to live in hiding under an assumed name for years.

Though the Rushdie affair looked like an extreme outlier event for a while, it turned out to be only the prologue for an ever more sordid drama. In 2004, an Islamist fanatic stabbed Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh to death right out in the open on an Amsterdam street in retaliation for a short film called Submission that Van Gogh made with Somali-born feminist and Dutch member of Parliament Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The killer used a butcher knife to pin a note to his corpse that said Hirsi Ali was “next.” She stayed on in the Netherlands under armed guard for a while, but later had to move to the United States.

The Van Gogh murder inspired a wave of attempts on the lives of more “blasphemers.” An assassin attacked Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard in front of his granddaughter in his own house with an axe. Terrorists from a number of countries, including the United States, conspired to kill Swedish artist Lars Vilks. Seattle Weekly cartoonist Molly Norris entered the FBI’s witness-protection program after American-born Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki (whom the United States later atomized with a Hellfire missile) placed her on a hit list for suggesting that cartoonists all over the world should draw the Prophet Muhammad on the same day.

Those incidents targeted individuals, which is bad enough. But then six years ago, Middle Eastern outposts of the Western democracies came under fire. In early 2006, riots exploded across the Muslim world after the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published a series of cartoons lampooning the Prophet Muhammad. The Danish embassies in Pakistan, Syria, and Lebanon were attacked. A mob set the embassy in Beirut on fire. The Danish and the Norwegian embassies in Damascus were set on fire. More than one hundred people were killed.

That was the prologue to the recent unpleasantness that started in Cairo. It took a while, but the worldwide anti-blasphemy campaign has finally mushroomed into a serious menace. The aggressive demands of the Saudis, Egyptians, and Yemenis to use the law and the police to smash what offends them everywhere on the planet is what we all should expect since Western governments are not fighting back with strong and unequivocal support for free speech.

The other side has the momentum right now. Brazil banned “The Innocence of Muslims” outright. A court went so far as to order the arrest of Google’s highest-ranking executive in the country since YouTube, which Google now owns, refuses to take down videos when it’s told.

The California branch of the phony civil rights group CAIR (the Council on American-Islamic Relations) now openly says it wants blasphemy banned in the United States. “There should be laws against hate speech that leads to violence or criminal activities,” said Rashid Ahmad, the founder of CAIR’s Sacramento chapter. “Because of the film we’ve lost so many lives—the filmmaker has blood on his hands.”

Feeling that they have the wind at their backs, ten thousand Muslims protested Google’s London offices for failing to censor the film. Sheikh Faiz al-Aqtab Siddiqui spoke at the rally and made what is perhaps the most absurd argument yet. “Terrorism,” he said, “is not just people who kill human bodies, but who kill human feelings as well.”

Let’s pretend, just as a thought experiment, that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution doesn’t exist, that the American government could ban blasphemy if it felt like it without getting mauled by the Supreme Court and the public. Now imagine the size of the repressive bureaucracy required to scrub not just YouTube but the entire Internet, including all national media from the New York Times to your mom’s Facebook page, of everything that might offend mobs waving terrorist flags.

It would never happen even if it were possible. Aside from the likes of CAIR activists who get red in the face over imagined discrimination against Muslims for a living, no American constituency exists to support anti-blasphemy legislation, not even on the right- or left-wing lunatic fringes. Christians and Christianity are mocked and derided every single day without anyone seriously calling for censorship. Here’s but one example: a current Broadway play called The Book of Mormon, written by Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of South Park, lampoons the religion of Mitt Romney, the most powerful Republican in the United States last year, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, one of the most powerful Democrats. Yet we don’t hear even the meekest of peeps in favor of censorship from either party or from even the most sensitive Mormons. That’s because we settled this hundreds of years ago.

Western Europe’s prohibitions against blasphemy took a serious beating in the eighteenth century by intellectuals and free thinkers of the Enlightenment. Getting centuries of reactionary plaque off the books hasn’t been easy. Anti-blasphemy laws are still in place in some parts of Europe, though they’re hardly ever enforced. The United States, though, forged a new constitution from scratch at that time. The first and only sentence in the First Amendment to the Constitution prohibits prohibitions against blasphemy. It has been in place for more than two hundred years.

The Middle East has some serious catching up to do. It might even happen eventually. Americans are hardly the only people concerned about this. People in Muslim countries are, too. Tunisia’s Islamist party Ennahda has been pushing to ban blasphemy in the new constitution, but its leaders have been facing so much resistance from the country’s liberal and secular parties for so long that in October 2012 they finally caved in and dropped it. To be sure, Tunisia is as decadent as a pot-hazed Amsterdam brothel compared with Saudi Arabia, but both countries are Arab and Muslim.

Hillary Clinton made a few good points at the United Nations back in September when the Egyptian and Yemeni government pushed to impose their prejudices on the rest of us. “None of us can insulate ourselves from insult,” she said. “In the time since I began speaking just minutes ago, more than three hundred hours of video has been uploaded to YouTube. Some of it, no doubt, is vile. Some of it, no doubt, is offensive to my religion or yours. But we must not give these views power they do not deserve.”

She’s right, of course, but she’s still on the defensive. She’s explaining why we shouldn’t criminalize blasphemy in the United States. But she’s not even quite doing that right. It’s fine that she’s arguing in a diplomatic way that those who are offended need to grow up and get over it, but she’s eliding the most crucial point, that the persecution of blasphemers is tyrannical. It wouldn’t just be tyrannical in the United States. It’s tyrannical in Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and everywhere else.

You don’t have to approve of blasphemy or religious “hate speech” to understand why it must be protected. Free speech is irrelevant if offensive speech isn’t protected. “Have a nice day” isn’t prohibited anywhere, not even in North Korea. “The Innocence of Muslims” video is legitimately offensive to some people. That’s why we have to protect it. And that’s what the US government needs to be arguing rather than getting up in front of a microphone and trying to smooth things over by saying the mob has a point or that Egypt’s push for a blasphemy ban is understandable. What is Clinton supposed to say when rioters don’t have a point? The Iranian government does not have a point about Salman Rushdie’s novel, nor did the butcher of Theo Van Gogh have a point about Submission.

Aside from the fact that they’re tyrannical, anti-blasphemy laws don’t even make any sense on their own terms. Gregory Paul said it best at the online magazine Op-Ed News. “According to Islam,” he wrote, “Jesus Christ was a mere mortal prophet. He was not the Son of God who is God as per the Holy Trinity of God, the Son of God, and the Holy Ghost. Therefore, Islam is inherently committing blasphemy against Christianity and risks offending Christians. Since Islam is blasphemous, and since blasphemy must be illegal in all nations, then Islam must be illegal in all countries.” Not just Islam, but all three Abrahamic faiths could be made illegal according to the anti-blasphemy laws the Islamists wish to foist on the world.

The solution to this sort of absurdity could not be more obvious: no anti-blasphemy laws. Anywhere.

The United States won’t win this argument anytime soon, but the other side won’t win it either—not when death squads commit acts of terrorism and murder, not when mobs set embassies on fire, not when heads of state make retrograde speeches at the United Nations, not even when weepy protesters demonstrate peacefully. We’re all stalemated here whether we like it or not, but that’s hardly a reason to let tyrants and terrorists set the terms of debate. The US needs to go on the offensive, not only against any and all who would dare to murder in the name of their God, but also against every government in the world that has medieval laws on the books—beginning with those that demand we scrap our hard-won, time-worn Constitution because they can’t handle the Internet.

Paul Marshall and Nina Shea published a grim book in 2011 called Silenced: How Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes Are Choking Freedom Worldwide. They conclude that “in Muslim-majority countries and areas, restrictions on freedom of religion and expression, based on prohibitions of blasphemy, apostasy, and ‘insulting Islam,’ are pervasive, thwart freedom, and cause suffering to millions of people.” Tragically, those millions will have to keep suffering for a while. But Westerners will have to put up with it as well—until the Middle East’s worst reactionaries understand they can’t win. The way to convince them they’re destined to lose is by showing them, as unambiguously as is possible, that keeping their own backward laws on their books is the most they’ll ever get.

Posted on 02/05/2013 10:05 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 5 February 2013
The Muslim Slave Trade (Documentary From 2nd Half 20th Century))
Watch here.
Posted on 02/05/2013 11:04 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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