These are all the Blogs posted on Tuesday, 5, 2012.
Tuesday, 5 June 2012
Over Disappointment In Samarra, Sunnis Blow Up Shiite Foundation Center
Iraq leaders call for calm after bombing kills 25
By Mohamad Ali Harissi , Ammar Karim
BAGHDAD: Iraqi leaders appealed for calm after a suicide bomber killed 25 people at a Shiite foundation's offices in Baghdad, sparking fears of sectarian strife at a time of political crisis.
The attack in the center of the capital on Monday, Baghdad's deadliest blast in over four months, was followed later by an explosion near a Sunni religious foundation's headquarters, causing no casualties.
The attacks came amid a dispute between the two Muslim endowments which manage Iraq's religious landmarks over a shrine north of Baghdad,[where the Shiites now demand complete control of the celebrated Shhite mosque, which was previously bombed in this predominately-Sunni city] and during a protracted political standoff that has raised sectarian tensions in a country racked by brutal communal bloodshed from 2006 to 2008.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi both issued condemnations of the violence and appealed for calm, as did United Nations envoy Martin Kobler.
"We call on the people to be aware, and dismiss sectarianism and hold on to national unity," Maliki said, warning of "enemies who do not want citizens to live in safety, stability and unity."
Monday's first attack struck at 11:00 am (0800 GMT) outside the Shiite endowment in Baab al-Muadham, in central Baghdad, and left at least 25 people dead and more than 65 wounded, medical officials said.
The bombing completely destroyed the endowment headquarters, its deputy chief, Sami al-Massudi, told AFP.
"We do not accuse anyone, but we call on the Iraqi people and especially on the sons of our religion to bury the strife because there is a plan to launch a civil war between the people, and between the Iraqi sects," Massudi said.
He said the Shiite endowment had received threats in recent days because of a dispute over the Shiite Al-Askari shrine in the mostly Sunni city of Samarra.
The iconic gold-domed shrine was hit by an Al-Qaeda suicide attack in February 2006 that ignited Iraq's bloody confessional violence.
Massudi and his aides had produced documents that attributed the management of the shrine to the Shiite religious endowment, sparking tensions with its Sunni counterpart.
The attack also fell on a significant day for Shiite Muslims -- the birthday of Imam Ali, a cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammed, who is a revered figure in Shiite Islam.
AFP journalists near the site of the attack said security forces cordoned off the area and barred anyone from approaching, while emergency workers searched for survivors in the remains of the endowment headquarters.
Several cars and nearby buildings were badly damaged by the explosion, and helicopters hovered overhead.
Later on Monday, a statement on the Sunni endowment's website said that a mortar round struck near its headquarters in Adhamiyah in north Baghdad, but did not cause any casualties.
The latest bloodshed comes less than a week after a spate of bombings in Baghdad left 17 dead on May 31, shattering a relative calm in the city.
The spike in attacks coincides with a ratcheting up of months-long tensions in which several political parties have called for the prime minister to be unseated.
Monday's death toll was the highest from a single attack in Baghdad since a suicide bomber blew up a car outside a hospital on January 27 killing 31 people.
Violence in Iraq has declined dramatically since its peak in 2006-2007, but attacks remain common, especially in Baghdad. A total of 132 Iraqis were killed in violence in May, according to official figures.
Libyans ask "Where is the state?" after airport seized
Tue, Jun 5 2012
By Hadeel Al Shalchi and Marie-Louise Gumuchian
TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Invading Libya's biggest international airport was embarrassingly easy: the attackers cut the wire perimeter fence in broad daylight, and then drove onto the tarmac while airport security chiefs stood and watched.
The occupation of Tripoli airport for several hours on Monday by an armed militia force has compelled policymakers in Europe and the United States to ask what sort of country they helped create when they joined the campaign last year to force Muammar Gaddafi from office.
Libya, home to Africa's biggest proven oil reserves, is free from Gaddafi's repression, but it is a chaotic country where nearly a year on from the end of the revolt, the state still barely exists.
Garbage piles up uncollected in suburban streets, drivers park their cars in the middle of highways, and, as incidents like the attack on the airport underscore, rag-tag militias who answer only to their own commanders are more powerful than the police and army.
"How can these people ... close the airport like this?" asked Adel Salama, a civil society activist in Zintan, a town whose fighters used to control the airport before handing over to the central government back in April.
"Where is the state?"
On Tuesday, the militiamen who had attacked the airport were gone and staff were at their posts. An Austrian Airlines jet took off for Vienna, the first departure since the attack.
Yet foreign investors, who already knew Libya was a risky place, are now likely to be even more cautious. The incident at the airport happened the same day that Libyan Deputy Prime Minister Mustafa Abushagur was in the United States trying to persuade companies there to come and invest.
"It's a worrying thing for someone who wants to come and do business here," one foreign businessman visiting Tripoli said. "I am just happy my investors were not here themselves when this happened."
The attack on the airport was carried out by members of the al-Awfea brigade, a volunteer militia from the town of Tarhouna about 80 km (50 miles) south-east of Tripoli.
They believed their leader had been detained by security forces in the capital and their aim was to take the airport as a way of pressuring his captors into releasing him. They pulled out of the airport late on Monday after negotiations.
Details emerged on Tuesday of how close the incident came to endangering passengers.
One airport official said an Austrian Airlines jet was about to take off when the militia arrived, and was ordered by the control tower to abort. Another official said a bullet had struck and damaged the side of a parked Alitalia aircraft.
Interior Minister Fawzi Abdel A'al told Reuters on Tuesday that the incident had been handled properly by the government.
"Democracy is still new to the Libyan people and a lot of people do not know how to use their freedom in the right way," he said. "They have demands which they believe are legitimate. They believe this (trying to seize strategic sites) is the best way to express their anger."
"The government prefers to use dialogue first, negotiations to resolve problems," the minister said. "What happened yesterday is a lesson (to anyone attempting similar protests). We detained them, put them under investigation, and took their weapons."
However, accounts gathered by Reuters from witnesses and officials point to big holes in the security set-up that was supposed to protect the airport.
There was a series of mistakes, a lack of proper resources and the absence of any security coordination: all problems which have come to typify Libya since the end of Gaddafi's 42-year rule.
Fadel Bin Nusayer, 50, the manager of the airport, said security staff had no choice but to stand back and let the al-Awfea brigade drive their pick-up trucks, with heavy guns mounted on the back, onto the runways.
He said airport security needed more resources to do their job fully, including more walkie-talkies and vehicles.
"They arrived at the metal fences surrounding the ... airfield and cut the fence and entered," he said. "Our defence teams on the ground told their leaders in the watch-towers and were given orders not to shoot because we didn't want to shed blood or escalate matters or make civilian travellers scared."
"We ask the government and the prime minister to give us the extra resources ... so we can avoid a similar situation," Bin Nusayer said. The incident on Monday was, he said: "A wake up call to all of us."
Other people familiar with the airport said the militia should never have been allowed to reach the perimeter fence.
The al-Awfea brigade, in a convoy of about 60 vehicles, drove to the airport from their base in Tarhouna, a journey that would have taken them through dozens of security checkpoints.
These though are usually run by local militias and it is unlikely they would have alerted anyone outside their area about what was happening.
"Why was nothing done before these people reached the airport?" asked Salama, the activist from Zintan. "They were driving from 80 km away."
A spokesman for the Zintan militia which used to run the airport before handing over to the government said the security measures in place were woefully inadequate.
Khaled Karr said airport security did not have the long-range weapons needed to deter attackers before they reach the perimeter, and were not carrying out regular patrols in the surrounding area.
"We told the government over and over: they do not have the resources or the capabilities to secure a huge installation like the airport," he said. "We all know there are issues and problems and the state is not in control."
SETBACK FOR INVESTMENT
At Tripoli's luxury Corinthia hotel on Monday evening, foreign business people milled around in the lobby anxiously trying to find out what was happening at the airport - for most people the main route out of the country.
Several airlines which operate flights into Tripoli cancelled them on Monday and now say they will not be resuming them straight away. These included British Airways (ICAG.L: Quote, Profile, Research), Emirates EMIRA.UL and Tunisair. Austrian Airlines (LHAG.DE: Quote, Profile, Research) said it was suspending services from Vienna to Tripoli on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The occupation of the airport will have an impact on the broader business climate too, said David Bachmann, head of the commercial section at the Austrian embassy in Tripoli.
"This is a big setback," he said. "It is especially bad for newcomers. They want to be able to travel to the airport, to their hotel, and hold meetings safely, but when they hear about rockets flying at the airport, they won't come."
"It is difficult for someone like myself to try to convince such companies that this is not a big thing."
Nevertheless, other people who work in Libya were more sanguine. Libya's economy depends on oil and this sector is recovering well. Output is back to pre-revolt levels. Foreign majors, including BP (BP.L: Quote, Profile, Research) and Eni (ENI.MI: Quote, Profile, Research), are coming back.
And for all the chaos and security shortcomings, most observers say Libya is making progress.
The disparate groups which hold power show a capacity for resolving their differences through negotiations, as eventually happened with the airport stand-off.
The civil war which Gaddafi's exiled children predicted has not materialised. The country is heading towards its first-ever election, a landmark event which should give the new authorities more legitimacy.
Security too is gradually getting better. The army and police are recruiting more people all the time, some of their recruits are being sent for training abroad, and militias are slowly disbanding.
"The airport incident is likely to scare people at first but businesses are waiting to see what happens after the elections," said a Western diplomatic source. "I don't think it will deter them in the long run."
Les salafistes invoquent donc souvent l’âge d’or de l’Andalousie pour dire l’apogée qu’a pu atteindre la civilisation «arabo musulmane», mais ils oublient de préciser qu’ils en ont été les fossoyeurs.
Par Rachid Barnat
Après un petit séjour à Séville et à Grenade, quelques réflexions me viennent sur l’Andalousie que fantasment beaucoup de nostalgiques d’un âge d’or de la civilisation «arabo-musulmane» qu’ils n’ont connu qu’à travers les légendes qui, comme toutes les légendes, embellissent et falsifient l’histoire.
Quand Boabdil, le dernier roi de Grenade, quittait l’Alhambra, vaincu par Isabelle la Catholique, sa mère a prononcé selon la légende cette phrase définitive: «Pleure comme une femme ce que tu n’as pas su conserver comme un homme»!
Un «mauvais musulman» en cache toujours un autre
Mais, en réalité, le déclin des Arabes en Andalousie est une longue histoire commencée depuis longtemps et qui a vu se développer des guerres entre les Arabes eux-mêmes jusqu’à l’apparition des «Taïfas» (multitude de petites principautés) qui signeront le début de la fin de la conquête de la péninsule ibérique.
Des conflits permanents pour chasser les sultans avec toujours la même technique éprouvée: leur reprocher de n’être pas de bons musulmans. Comme ces régimes ne connaissaient aucune règle pour l’alternance du pouvoir, instaurant souvent le régime dynastique, la seule opposition politique que pratiquaient les salafistes, c’était l’islamisme! Celui qui voulait prendre la tête du pouvoir développait toujours l’idée que son prédécesseur était un «mauvais musulman». Et c’est ainsi que, dès cette époque, l’islam a été instrumentalisé et utilisé à des fins politiques, comme instrument de conquête du pouvoir. Ce que font les islamistes aujourd’hui.
Boabdil, dernier roi de Grenade.
Par conséquent l’idée, si souvent reprise par les islamistes, selon laquelle l’Andalousie a été perdue parce que les musulmans ont cessé d’être de «bons musulmans» est une vaste supercherie pour ne pas dire plaisanterie.
En réalité, l’Andalousie a été perdue en raison des rivalités et des guerres auxquelles se livraient les différentes tribus et dynasties arabes puis berbères; et la pratique, bonne ou mauvaise, de l’islam n’y a strictement rien à voir. Car la pratique de l’islam n’était en réalité que prétexte pour éliminer ses concurrents!
Quand Ghannouchi et ses hommes traitent leurs opposants de «koffar» (mécréants), ils ne font rien d’autre qu’instrumentaliser la religion pour conquérir et asseoir leur pouvoir, comme le faisaient les candidats au pouvoir en Andalousie!
Il faut ajouter que si la chrétienté avec Isabelle la Catholique a triomphé, c’est parce qu’elle a su unir divers pays européens et obtenir le concours déterminant du Pape, fort puissant à l’époque.
Il faut dire aussi que pendant une période, Arabes, Juifs et Chrétiens ont partagé leur connaissance, ce qui a permis le progrès qu’a connu leur société d’alors, jusqu’à atteindre un degré civilisationel raffiné d’une Andalousie enviée dans une Europe empêtrée encore dans son moyen-âge. [here Rachid Barnat appears to uncritically accept the dreamy "convivencia" business that was largely the fruit of Romantic writers in the West, such as Sir Walter Scott and Chateaubriand.]
Al-Andalus devint alors un foyer de haute culture au sein de l’Europe médiévale, attirant un grand nombre de savants et ouvrant ainsi une période de riche épanouissement culturel.
Les civilisations sont mortelles
Il faut donc tordre le cou à cette thèse de la perte de l’Andalousie par un mauvais comportement religieux! Revenir à la pratique de l’islam de cette période ne rendra pas aux musulmans un pouvoir qu’ils ont perdu. Ils doivent se rendre compte que le monde a bougé, qu’il a progressé et que ce n’est pas en se complaisant dans une nostalgie rêvée de l’Andalousie qu’ils redeviendront forts.
Ibn Roshd campé par Nour Cherif dans ''Le Destin'' de Youssef Chahine.
Les civilisations, qu’on le veuille ou non, évoluent et Paul Valéry a dit d’elles qu’elles sont mortelles: certaines progressent quand elles donnent la priorité à l’éducation, à la recherche scientifique, aux arts; et d’autres régressent quand elles se contentent de rêver à une époque révolue et à bannir tout ce qui est innovation et recherche, pour soutenir qu’il faut revenir à une pratique moyen-âgeuse de l’islam!
Si l’Andalousie peut encore aujourd’hui donner des leçons au monde, c’est uniquement dans le fait que ce «paradis» n’a existé, pendant quelques temps, que lorsque la tolérance régnait et que les trois religions du Livre ont pu cohabiter en paix.
Ce n’est donc pas un repliement sur un Islam arriéré et fermé, que certains voudraient imposer, qui va nous conduire à de nouvelles «Andalousies».
Les salafistes, par leur intolérance et leur rejet de tout savoir, ont été à l’origine du déclin de l’Andalousie. Yousef Chahine, dans son film prémonitoire ‘‘Le Destin’’, sur les méfaits de l’islamisme radical dans les sociétés arabophones, que vivent actuellement les pays du printemps arabe, nous raconte comment les salafistes s’en sont pris au calife, ami des intellectuels, au point de le contraindre à «lâcher» son ami Ibn Rochd (Averroès), le philosophe commentateur d'Aristote, mais aussi le mathématicien, le physicien, qui maîtrisait la médecine, l’astrologie, un grand exégète du Coran…, dont ils demandaient la tête, mais qui partira en exil pendant qu’ils faisaient un autodafé de sa riche bibliothèque, source de tous les maux de la société de l’époque selon eux.
Faut-il rappeler que Youssef Chahine lui-même a été menacé de mort et a connu la censure des fondamentalistes musulmans pour qui les intellectuels sont des ennemis à abattre!
Or que font les salafistes d’aujourd’hui? Ils s’attaquent au savoir, aux livres à la création artistique et aux lieux du savoir.
En Tunisie, ils se sont attaqués aux facultés des Lettres (de Sousse, de Kairouan, de Manouba…) au théâtre, au cinéma, à la diffusion du film ‘‘Persépolis’’ sur NessmaTV, aux livres et à la presse. Tout ce qui est liberté de l’esprit leur est insupportable car cela entrainerait le peuple à réfléchir et dès lors à mettre en cause leur pouvoir.
La tour de Boabdil et ses remparts où où fut emprisonné le dernier roi des Nasrides de Grenade, Boabdil.
Une débauche de foi ostentatoire
En Espagne la foi/spectacle est si courante qu’elle devient folklorique. Séville détient la plus spectaculaire manifestation dans ce domaine. Quelle en est l’origine? Après la Reconquista par les rois catholiques, Isabelle donna le choix aux Musulmans et aux Juifs de rester en Espagne en se convertissant au catholicisme sinon de quitter le pays. Elle a même instauré les tribunaux de l’Inquisition pour dénoncer les fausses conversions.
Ce qui va inciter à plus d’hypocrisie, puisqu’il fallait donner des gages du «bon croyant»; ce qui entraînera une débauche dans la foi ostentatoire, puisqu’il fallait montrer qu’on était plus croyant que son voisin. Cette ostentation grandissante de la foi va marquer tout un peuple au point de devenir de nos jours, dans ce pays apaisé, le folklore majeur des Espagnols, dont Séville détient la plus belle manifestation avec la procession impressionnante des pénitents.
Les salafistes, dont le mouvement politique instrumentalise la religion et, prenant exemple sur le Calife Omar, le premier à avoir usé de l’épée pour prendre le pouvoir, vont trouver dans le wahhabisme un outil «politique» pour mieux se maintenir au pouvoir. Le but de cette obédience étant de dévier le croyant de tout ce qui peut le «distraire» de Dieu, des «consignes» précises touchant au «halal» (licite) et au «haram» (illicite) vont réguler désormais sa vie quotidienne. Sa pratique devient ainsi réglée comme un spectacle auquel le croyant doit s’adonner complètement. D’où l’ostentation de certains pour que l’on ne doute point de leur bonne foi!
Imposition de la foi par la violence
Car en imposant l’ostentation de la foi par la violence, les salafistes s’assurent la soumission et le contrôle d’un peuple. D’où les prières dans les rues, les codes vestimentaires, capillaires et langagiers. Des signes «visibles» d’une religiosité «accrue» qu’exportent Saoudiens et Qataris: voile et burqa pour les femmes; qamis, sceau frontal et barbe pour les hommes; un langage «codé» avec citation de texte coranique ou de hadith…
Des tribunaux religieux expéditifs jugent les mauvais musulmans et condamnent à mort les apostats, comme faisaient les tribunaux de l’Inquisition qui envoyaient aux bûchers les mécréants et les apostats.Ce que fait le roi Ibn Saoud et grâce à quoi cette tribu conserve le pouvoir.
Ce qui choque les Tunisiens, malékites depuis des siècles, pour qui l’ostentation dans la foi relève de l’hypocrisie, qui estiment qu’il n’y a que Dieu qui juge des pratiques religieuses d’un croyant et qui admettent qu’il ne peut y avoir de contrainte en islam!
Les salafistes invoquent donc souvent l’âge d’or de l’Andalousie pour dire l’apogée qu’a pu atteindre la civilisation «arabo musulmane», mais ils oublient de préciser qu’ils en ont été les fossoyeurs.
Alors il faut qu’ils cessent de travestir l’Histoire et de duper les peuples.
Il faut aujourd’hui les empêcher de recommencer et, force est de constater qu’ils n’ont rien appris et qu’ils sont toujours aussi arriérés qu’au moment où Bourguiba faisait, contre eux, entrer la Tunisie dans la modernité. La lecture de la lettre qu’il adressa, le 25 mai 1951, à Salah Ben Youssef est intéressante et toujours d’actualité en ce qu’elle montre le combat d’un homme politique pour la modernité et contre les islamistes arriérés de la Zitouna.
Si Bourguiba a pu trouver un homme lettré et éclairé en la personne de Fadhel Ben Achour, dans la Zitouna d’aujourd’hui il n’y en a, hélas, plus; quand on voit les prétendus oulémas de cette auguste institution accepter sa wahhabisation par Ghannouchi et ses hommes, et par-delà, admettre que la société tunisienne perde son identité forgée par des siècles de malékisme au profit d’une obédience que leur prédécesseurs ont qualifiée de dangereuse et inadaptée au caractère des Tunisiens.
Ce que confirme l'historien Hichem Djaït, auteur de ‘‘La Grande Discorde’’. Selon lui, «le mouvement islamiste n’a ni dimension religieuse profonde, ni dimension culturelle et intellectuelle marquée du sceau de la religion, car ses bases intellectuelles sont faibles».
In Wisconsin Scott Walker's surviving a recall vote, in Farmer-Labor LaFollettish Wisconsin, shows that more people are worried about deficits than are worried that his tightwad policies will lead to pouring a pail of cold water on "dreams deferred."
There's something to be said on both sides.
But Walker won.
It was a way for those who voted against the recall to deliver a message to those who pass the laws that spend the money that raises the roof that covers the house that Jack built, while the bills keep tumbling after:
Suspicion of Saudi, Iran role swirls around Sunni-Shiite clashes in Yemen
Three days of fighting between Shiite Huthi rebels in north Yemen, Sunni Salafist extremists kill at least 16 gunmen, according to claims by both sides.
Middle East Online
SANAA - At least 16 gunmen have been killed in three days of fighting between Shiite Huthi rebels in north Yemen and Sunni Salafist extremists, according to claims by both sides on Tuesday.
"Four of our men were killed and six others wounded in confrontations on Saturday with Salafist gunmen in Al-Qobaaf," east of the Huthi stronghold of Saada, said Huthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam.
Sorur al-Wadii, a spokesman for the Salafists said 12 Sunni militants were killed in three days of fighting, but claimed that his comrades killed 18 Huthi fighters.
He blamed the Huthis for the clashes, saying the killings on "both sides were result of attacks by the Huthis who are trying to expand (their control) in the province of Hajja, Marib and Jawf."
Abdulsalam accused the Sunni gunmen of receiving support from neighbouring Saudi Arabia, a bastion of Salafism which is a puritanical approach to Islam.
"We are in total control of the situation," he said, insisting that hostilities were started by a Salafist group "paid by Saudi Arabia."
Dozens of people have been killed in sectarian clashes since last year between the rebels and Salafists trying to tighten their grip on the north, where government control has slackened since a political crisis in Sanaa.
Yemen's mountainous north is a stronghold of the Huthis, who from 2004 fought six wars with central government forces before signing a truce in February 2010. The rebellion claimed thousands of lives.
Sur cette vidéo diffusée lundi, on aperçoit des miliciens armés et des véhicules militaires sur le tarmac de l'aéroport de Tripoli.Crédits photo : REUTERS TV/Reuters
La lutte pour le contrôle de l'aéroport de Tripoli illustre une situation inquiétante.
Soudain, dans une parfumerie du centre de Paris, les téléphones portables de quatre Libyens se mettent à sonner tous en même temps. «On rentre», lance Mokhtar el-Akhdar au bout de quelques minutes. Lundi après-midi, cet important chef révolutionnaire et ses trois compagnons interrompent brusquement leurs emplettes et leurs vacances parisiennes. Ils viennent d'apprendre la prise de l'aéroport de Tripoli par une des nombreuses milices libyennes.
Figure de la révolution, Mokhtar el-Akhdar commande aujourd'hui un quart des combattants zintanes, la grande tribu de l'Ouest qui a fait basculer la guerre en août 2011 en prenant la capitale Tripoli. Il avait ensuite investi pendant de longs mois l'aéroport principal, avant d'affirmer sa volonté de le rendre aux autorités civiles. Dans le souci, disait-il, de participer à la normalisation, il continuait d'en assurer la sécurité, mais «à l'extérieur» et «sous les ordres du ministère de la Défense», expliquait-il encore dimanche à Paris, autour d'un couscous offert dans l'appartement parisien loué par l'ambassade libyenne.
Les hommes qui avaient envahi les pistes lundi appartiennent pour leur part à une autre unité d'ex-révolutionnaires, la Brigade al-Aouefea («les fidèles») venue de Tarhouna, au sud de Tripoli. Ils pensaient que leur chef, Abou Oegueila al-Hebeichi, était détenu dans l'enceinte de l'aéroport, ce qui ne semble pas être le cas. «Al-Hebeichi, authentique héros de la révolution, avait été arrêté dimanche à un barrage sur la route de Tripoli par les hommes d'Abdelhakim Belhadj, l'islamiste qui s'est instauré commandant militaire de Tripoli, explique Patrick Haimzadeh, ex-diplomate français en poste à Tripoli, et bon connaisseur de la Libye. Dès dimanche, le conseil des anciens de Tarhouna a posté un ultimatum sur Internet. L'assaut contre l'aéroport a suivi». L'affaire s'est temporairement réglée lundi soir par la négociation. Mais cet épilogue est provisoire. Mokhtar el-Akhdar va reprendre l'aéroport, comme il l'a confié peu après son arrivée en Libye.
Risque d'un vide politique
L'affaire illustre bien la réalité libyenne. Malgré les annonces répétées de la formation d'une armée nationale, les milices tiennent toujours le haut du pavé. Chacune d'entre elles affirme obéir au ministère de la Défense, mais tout en gardant ses armes et son autonomie. Coïncidence malheureuse, l'affaire de Tripoli s'est déroulée à la veille de la visite à Paris du chef d'état-major de cette armée virtuelle, le général Youssef al-Mangouche. Attendu mardi, il devait parler coopération militaire, en particulier dans le domaine du recyclage des miliciens… Une perspective qui paraît s'éloigner au moment où la Libye risque de se retrouver dans un vide politique. Le président Abdeljalil a lui-même évoqué la possibilité d'un report des élections d'une Constituante et de l'installation d'un nouveau gouvernement, prévues à la fin du mois, en raison du désordre ambiant.
Ce report, Mokhtar el-Akhdar n'en veut pas: «Il y a une forte pression du peuple pour que ces élections aient lieu», estimait-il lors de son séjour à Paris. Il imagine une transition politique sous surveillance des milices, réunies dans un «Conseil national des révolutionnaires» en formation, selon lui. «Nous allons veiller à ce que ni les anciens kadhafistes ni les arrivistes de la dernière heure ne participent au gouvernement», assure-t-il.
Cette alliance des milices paraît toutefois bien utopique au moment où deux groupes se disputent l'aéroport de Tripoli. À l'autre bout du pays, à Benghazi, la situation n'est pas meilleure. Une brigade locale a pris d'assaut lundi soir le poste de police militaire, à la suite d'un accrochage qui avait fait un mort dans les rangs des ex-révolutionnaires.
Are the sons of the Palestinian president growing rich off their father's system?
BY JONATHAN SCHANZER|JUNE 5, 2012
In the wake of the Arab Spring, U.S. leaders have promised to reverse the United States' long reliance on autocratic, unrepresentative leaders who enrich themselves at the expense of their citizens. There's only one problem: Just as top American officials have been making these lofty promises, new details are emerging of how close family members of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, a major U.S. partner in the Middle East, have grown wealthy. Have they enriched themselves at the expense of regular Palestinians -- and even [especially] U.S. taxpayers?
Abbas's wealth recently became a source of controversy during the investigation ofMohammed Rachid, an economic advisor to the late Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat, in a high-profile corruption probe. Last month, Palestinian officials charged Rachid with siphoning off millions of dollars in public funds; his trial is set to begin on June 7.
According to a former Palestinian advisor, Abbas holds a grudge against Rachid dating back to the peace talks during the waning days of the Clinton era. In that intense period, Rachid was an advocate of working with Israel to find a solution, while Abbas called diplomacy a "trap that was laid for us." Abbas also resented Rachid because he was an Iraqi Kurd -- not even a Palestinian -- who had gained Arafat's trust and was part of his inner circle, while Abbas was on the outside looking in. "There was a huge amount of jealousy," the former advisor said.
With his back up against a wall, Rachid has now fired back at the Palestinian president with claims that Abbas himself has socked away $100 million in ill-gotten gains.
In stalking Rachid, whether or not the charges have merit, Abbas may have opened up a Pandora's box. The conspicuous wealth of Abbas's own sons, Yasser and Tarek, has become a source of quiet controversy in Palestinian society since at least 2009, when Reuters first published a series of articles tying the sons to several business deals, including a few that had U.S. taxpayer support.
Yasser, the elder son, graduated with a degree in civil engineering from Washington State University in 1983 and carries both Palestinian and Canadian passports. According to his biography (where he goes by the alias Yasser Mahmoud), he worked for a variety of Gulf contracting firms from the 1980s until the mid-1990s before returning to Ramallah in 1997 to launch businesses of his own.
Yasser now owns Falcon Tobacco, which reportedly enjoys a monopoly on the sale of U.S.-made cigarettes in the Palestinian territories. According to the Toronto Star, Yasser also chairs Falcon Holding Group, a Palestinian corporate conglomerate that owns Falcon Electrical Mechanical Contracting Company (also called Falcon Electro Mechanical Contracting Company, or FEMC), an engineering interest that was established in 2000 and boasts offices in Gaza, Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and the West Bank. This business success has come with a helping hand from Uncle Sam: According to a Reuters report, Abbas's company received $1.89 million from USAID in 2005 to build a sewage system in the West Bank town of Hebron.
According to Yasser's biography, other arms of Falcon Holding Group include Falcon Global Telecommunication Services Company and Falcon General Investment Company, companies about which less is known. Through the Falcon companies, Yasser boasted to an Emirati magazine in 2009 that the companies' revenues total some $35 million per year.
And the Falcon group doesn't even account for everything. Yasser is listed by the New York-based financial information database CreditRiskMonitor.com as the chairman of the publicly traded Al-Mashreq Insurance Company, with 11 offices across the Palestinian territories. The company is valued on the Palestinian stock exchange at $3.25 million.
Finally, Yasser serves as managing director of the First Option Project Construction Management Company, whose website suggests that it does a great deal of public works projects, such as road and school construction, on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. First Option employs at least 15 people in offices in Amman, Tunis, Cairo, Montenegro, and Ramallah. This enterprise also benefited from the U.S. government's financial support: As Reuters reported, First Option was awarded nearly $300,000 in USAID funds between 2005 and 2008.
The president's son is certainly entitled to do business in the Palestinian territories. But the question is whether his lineage is his most important credential -- a concern bolstered by the fact that he has occasionally served in an official capacity for the Palestinian Authority. In 2008, Yasser reportedly visited Kazakhstan as a special envoy, and according to a former Bush administration official, he "regularly accompanies his father on official travel."
Tarek Abbas appears less inclined than his older brother to take part in the political aspect of the Palestinian cause, but is just as ambitious in the business world. His online biography indicates that he followed in the footsteps of his older brother, working in the same Gulf contracting firms, as well as a trading company in Tunis during the early 1990s.
Today, he appears to be a successful entrepreneur. His principal enterprise, Sky Advertising, had 40 employees and earned $7.5 million in sales in 2010. And once again, the firm has worked with the U.S. government: Reuters reported in 2009 that Sky received a modest grant of approximately $1 million in USAID funds to bolster public opinion of the United States in the Palestinian territories.
APIC is an economic juggernaut in the West Bank. In 2010, the company had more than $338 million in revenues. The company lists Tarek Abbas's Sky Advertising on its roster, as well as the Ramallah-based Unipal General Trading Company, where Tarek sits on the board.Unipal, which has 4,500 retail outlets in the Palestinian territories, distributes consumer goods to Palestinians, including products from Philip Morris Tobacco, Procter & Gamble, and Keebler.
Since the Arab Spring began in late 2010 and early 2011, the Abbas brothers have largely dropped out of sight in the West Bank. Where have they gone? According to an article written by Rachid on the staunchly anti-Abbas website InLight Press, the family owns lavish properties worth more than $20 million in Gaza, Jordan, Qatar, Ramallah, Tunisia, and the UAE.
Of course, the Abbas brothers' absence doesn't mean that Palestinians will forget. On a research trip to Ramallah last year,severalPalestinians told me that the Abbas family dynasty is common knowledge. However, discussion of the issue rarely rises above a whisper -- thanks to growing fear of retribution by PA security officers, who have apprehended journalists and citizens for openly challenging President Abbas's authority.
At a time when the sons of Arab strongmen are under scrutiny, the questions surrounding the Abbas brothers will not go away. Indeed, the Arab public continues to demand accountability from its leaders -- and the upcoming Rachid trial will only bring this controversy closer to Ramallah.
NOT LONG AGO, I attended a discussion group on the relationship between Islam and the West. During the question period, one of the participants began fulminating against Muslims and their religion, insisting that Islam was a jihadist faith and that “they” were intent on bringing the entire world under Sharia law. “We” had to stand up and fight for our values, he exclaimed, and since Muslims would no more adopt Western ideas than the West would convert to Islam, this was going to be a struggle to the death, one that could last for generations, even centuries. Then, red-faced and shaking, he paused, realizing where his emotions had taken him. “But there are so many of them,” he sighed. A light had gone off: he had grasped that he was on a highway to the Apocalypse, and there was no off-ramp.
The man’s ideas may not have been thought through, but they did have a legitimate pedigree. They were a debased—though not a distorted—version of Samuel P. Huntington’s notion of the “clash of civilizations,” popularized first in an article in Foreign Affairs, then in a book called The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order. Huntington borrowed the phrase from Bernard Lewis, who was referring to the growing hostility between Islam and the West. Huntington expanded Lewis’s concept to encompass the seven or possibly eight civilizations—he wasn’t sure about Africa—that he identified across the globe, and warned that in the future, “emerging intercivilizational relations will normally vary from distant to violent.” He went on: “The fires of communal identity and hatred are rarely totally extinguished, except through genocide.”
In one sense, however, Huntington retained Lewis’s framework. He said that of all the civilizational clashes, the worst, and really the only one that mattered, was that between Islam and everyone else—and to describe the relations between Muslim countries and their neighbors, he coined the phrase “bloody borders.” Optimists might argue that the West’s quarrel was only with Islamic extremists, but that is not how Huntington saw it. “Fourteen hundred years of history demonstrate otherwise,” he wrote. Nowhere had liberal democracy taken root where Islam prevailed. Where, after all, were the public protests against anti-Western violence within the Muslim world? “The underlying problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism,” he declared. “It is Islam.”
So was Huntington on his own apocalyptic highway? It certainly seemed so. As his book built toward its inevitable end, Huntington imagined a global civilizational conflict. In his particular scenario, the United States, Europe, Russia and India wage war against China, Japan, and most of Islam, but he acknowledged that other sanguinary scenarios were also possible.
Huntington’s grim forebodings are what most readers remember of his book. What they tend to forget are the final four pages, and with reason. In that last, all-too-brief section, Huntington, much like the fellow in my discussion group, paused before the enormity of the vision he had conjured up—and did an abrupt about-face. In a multicivilizational world, he concluded, we have to “accept diversity and seek commonalities.” The major religions may have created deep, seemingly unalterable divisions among mankind but, Huntington wrote, they “also share key values in common,” and “if humans are ever to develop a universal civilization, it will emerge gradually through the exploration and expansion of these commonalities.”
Enter Daniel Philpott, an associate professor of political science and peace studies at Notre Dame, who has read widely in several disciplines and whose thinking is informed by the latest work in philosophy, theology, psychology, history, and sociology. He is also an activist who has spent time as a mediator in war-torn lands such as Bosnia and central Africa; in Kashmir alone, he has devoted over seven years to interfaith reconciliation. Just and Unjust Peace: An Ethic of Political Reconciliation can be read as a book-length response to the “clash of civilizations.” Or it can be read as the book that Huntington didn’t write.
“What is justice in the wake of large-scale injustice?” Philpott asks. “That is the central question of this book.” The answer for him is deeper and richer than that found in most works on the subject. Justice is more than the “negative peace” of Hobbesian stability imposed in the aftermath of bloody conflict, and it is more than the “positive peace” grounded in the establishment of democratic institutions and the rule of law. Philpott is concerned with the victims of violence, not only their physical wounds but their psychological wounds as well, and he calls for emotional healing, to be achieved through public acknowledgment of past misdeeds and condign punishment of the perpetrators, along with dialogue and forgiveness on the part of individuals and governments. Such remedies, Philpott concedes, are a kind of “soulcraft” that makes many policymakers and academics uncomfortable. But they serve a practical purpose: they help to break cycles of hatred and suspicion, re-establishing the trust and legitimacy—what Philpott calls “the restoration of right relationship”— that are necessary if peace is to endure. At the same time, he stresses that they should be pursued for their own sake because they are, quite simply, the right thing to do. Reconciliation, he says, means “addressing the full range of wounds.”
Reconciliation in the sense of soulcraft has little place in international law, and Philpott looks to religious leaders such as Bishop Desmond Tutu as the public figures best positioned to be the kind of mediators he has in mind. Religion, he insists, does not have to be divisive. Indeed, since the identities of most warring peoples are intimately tied to their faiths—often the reason they are ready to die—it would be futile to “debar” religious thinking from peace negotiations. The antidote to the clash of civilizations is not some abstract, disembodied notion of justice but, as Huntington suggested, the shared values among different creeds. And this is why the central section of Philpott’s book is taken up with demonstrating the common ground of the three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. (It is a bit odd that Philpott, with his experience in Kashmir, ignores other faiths like Hinduism, but this omission is hardly crippling, especially if our concern is with Islam and the West.)
The story of Joseph, with its narrative of forgiveness, is basic to all three faiths, Philpott says. In the Jewish Bible, an ethic of reconciliation reflects the ways of the Lord, and righteousness involves “right relationship” among people as well as between the individual and God. In Christianity, the justice that Jesus brings is much like the justice of the Old Testament. Philpott twice quotes a modern theologian who says that reconciliation is “the heart of the Christian message.” Pope John Paul II expressed similar views. (Philpott has less sympathy for Calvinism, but that is another story.) Islam, too, offers the possibility of reconciliation in its holy texts. According to Philpott, the Koran has two hundred admonitions against injustice. He says that “of the 99 names for Allah, ‘merciful’ is considered the most important,” and he cites several Islamic thinkers and reformers whose support for human rights and international law is based on their reading of Mohammad’s teachings.
Philpott’s treatment of Islam is relatively thin compared to his erudite chapters on the Judeo-Christian tradition, and his interpretation of Muslim ideas may seem one-sided (though the same could be said for his interpretation of Judaism and Christianity). But that is not to deny its validity, nor the legitimacy of Philpott’s search for a common ethic of mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation in all three religions. Clearly Islam is much more than a “jihadist faith.”
But sometimes Philpott’s scholarship overwhelms his practical side, and makes reading his book more of a chore than it should be. He speaks of two tasks, six wounds, and seven relationships between justice and reconciliation. This fondness for taxonomy leads to grotesque sentences such as this: “Secondary restorations, too, are fruits of the six practices and involve the four ideal typical parties in political reconciliation.” But his on-the-ground experiences leaven these pedantic tendencies. They also produce in him an engaging modesty. He refuses to push his ideas too far or too absolutely. He gives full weight to critics skeptical of the possibilities of reconciliation, acknowledging the difficulties and the limitations. He is an idealist but not a utopian. Since the kind of dialogue that he advocates allows people to hold on to their traditions and beliefs, any agreements, he says, “will always be partial.” And yet he urges us to go for “the best that can be obtained.”
Just and Unjust Peace is a book of optimism, of hope, of insistently seeing the glass as half full. Humane but not fatuous or sappy, it is the exit ramp off Apocalypse Highway. One wants Philpott to be right, and wishes him the best in his peacemaking efforts. We should feel grateful that there are people like him willing to take on such hard, frustrating, unglamorous work. So why the hesitancy to go along with him, why that frisson of doubt?
To answer this question we might begin by looking at some of the individuals who inhabit the book as examples of reconciliation. Philpott tells us of a Muslim truck driver named Bashir whose father, uncle, and brother were killed by Islamic militants; Bashir himself was disfigured in an assassination attempt. For seven years he sought vengeance, but then decided that his religion required forgiveness. “Bashir has since dedicated his life to victims of the violence, particularly widows and orphans. He has found children of the murderers and has helped them to get an education.”
Then there is Gordon Wilson, a legislator in Northern Ireland whose daughter was killed by an IRA bomb. Wilson stated afterward: “I have lost my daughter and we shall miss her. But I bear no ill will.” And there is Eric Lomax. He was tortured by the Japanese during World War II but spent several days with one of his interrogators, Nagase Takashi, in 1998. “I could no longer see the point of punishing Nagase by a refusal to reach out and forgive him,” Lomax said. “Sometime the hating has to stop.”
These anecdotes of emotional healing are admirable, even inspiring, but they do not advance Philpott’s argument because they read less like models for behavior than like feel-good stories — accounts of how we want everyone to behave even when we know that most people won’t. Similarly, Philpott points to Nelson Mandela as a “paradigmatic” political leader who was able to forgive his jailers after 27 years in a South African prison and help bring peace to his troubled and racially divided land. Yet it is in large part Mandela’s remarkable, almost unworldly capacity for magnanimity that marks him off as such a revered figure. He is too extraordinary to serve as a paradigm.
In these instances, Philpott is describing saintly behavior—idealism raised to its highest level. And here is the problem. Saints may be necessary, but they cannot serve as examples for others to follow: they stand out from the rest of humanity by their readiness to sacrifice themselves for their convictions. They dwell beyond normal society, exploding institutions for the greater good as they understand it. Government for them is not a tool, not even a necessity, but an obstacle to their moral aims, because governing too often conflicts with the pursuit of justice. Unsaintly politicians must frequently make decisions in which justice has to give way to other considerations (like the Hobbesian stability that Philpott deems inadequate).
In this sense, the morality of holding power paradoxically requires knowing when to compromise, even with evil, so that our ideals do not send us self-destructively over a cliff. Philpott’s experiences have taught him the importance of pragmatism in governing, yet there is a part of him that adamantly refuses to compromise with evil, even if doing so is “the best that can be obtained.” Thus he says that “some kinds of wounds are rightfully redressed apart from their consequences for stability, democracy and peace.” These are wounds, he goes on, that demand repair “in and of themselves.” Philpott is not a fanatic. But this is a fanatical idea, and it drives us back to Huntington’s icier realm.
To accept Huntington’s perspective at its coldest, without the counterweight of Philpott’s humanity, can too readily result in cruelty and devastation. Yet to adopt Philpott’s good intentions at their warmest, without the skepticism of Huntington’s tough-mindedness, can produce fanaticism and self-destruction. We need Huntington and Philpott — in an “ethic of intellectual reconciliation,” if you will. Admittedly, this is a balance not easily achieved. In the real world, clashes of values (or civilizations) abound. Every situation, every crisis, is different, and policy is necessarily conducted in a fog of uncertainty.
All we can ask is that policymakers try to maintain the conflicting perspectives of Huntington and Philpott in a kind of unsteady, tense equilibrium, neglecting neither one nor the other. There are no formulas that can assure the correct balance, only the innate good sense of the decision-maker. In this, it should be said, the conduct of international affairs is like nothing so much as the practice of literary criticism, at least as T.S. Eliot once described it. “There is no method,” he said, “except to be very intelligent.”
Queen's Diamond Jubilee extended bank holiday weekend
You may have been wondering why I have not yet written anything about the celebrations for HM the Queens Diamond Jubilee.
I had hoped to have lots of photographs of the River pageant on Sunday but access to the river was blocked to those without tickets in so many places, and the crush round the large screens set back from the river banks so great, that we didn't see a single boat or ship of the pageant all day. We got home to watch the highlights on television to find that the BBC coverage was absymal and the subject of formal complaints.
I was unwell yesterday and missed the street party to which we had been invited, and was unable to finish the day by attending the lighting of any one of the several beacons within reasonable distance of our home. We did watch the Concert on television and it wasn't bad!
After Sunday any suggestion that my husband and daughter should return to London this morning to try to watch the procession to or from the service of thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral while I have business elsewhere went down like a lead balloon. This is the ITN news with a brief taste of what my daughter and I had been looking forward to for several months.
When the dust settles I will write up our experience of Sunday - I think a lot of people from the Home Counties now have had an inkling that Fings Ain't What They Used to Be.
In What Subtle Ways Does This NYT Article Understate The Reality?
From The New York Times:
June 5, 21012
Hostility Between Muslims and German Nationalists Rattles a Former Capital
By MELISSA EDDY
BONN, Germany — The people who live in the trim row houses with well-tended gardens that line the streets of this spa town along the Rhine like to boast of their city’s tolerance, which dates to its time as the capital of West Germany and home to dozens of foreign embassies.
“We used to be a city of diplomats,” said Christa Menden, who owns a flower shop.
But since 1999, when the central government moved to Berlin, the capital of the reunited Germany, the diplomats have gone. Now there is a growing population of Muslim immigrant families, many of whom have moved into the neighborhood of Bad Godesberg, filling many of the houses left empty by the shift in capitals.
Today Bonn, once tranquil, is a volatile cocktail of social tensions between its Muslim newcomers, who include some German converts as well as immigrants from Arab-speaking countries, with some hard-core elements, and a far-right nationalist group that is mounting a growing campaign against them.
Last month, about 200 Muslims, many from other cities, gathered to defend the honor of the Prophet Muhammad after the far-right Pro-NRW party (for North Rhine-Westphalia) threatened to display caricatures of the Prophet during an anti-Muslim rally in front of the King Fahd Academy, an Islamic school built in 1995 by Saudi Arabia’s government.
After the authorities tried unsuccessfully to win a court injunction preventing the display, they parked police vans to block the view of the offending cartoons. But after one of the 30 or so rightists climbed on the shoulders of another to flash the cartoon at the Muslims, who had just finished praying, a shower of rocks and shards from smashed flower pots flew at the police in response.
“They just exploded,” said Robin Fassbender, a prosecutor in Bonn, who has begun an investigation that could yield attempted murder charges against a 25-year-old Muslim protester who sneaked through the police barrier and stabbed three officers, wounding two seriously.
By the time the rioting stopped on May 6, the police said, they had rounded up 109 Muslim protesters.
“They viewed the police as an organ of the state that wanted to insult Muslims by failing to prevent the caricatures from being shown,” Mr. Fassbender said. “That is a different dimension of violence than these officers are used to. They are trained to regularly take stones and broken bottles, but not to be specifically attacked like this.”
Days earlier the same far-right group held a similar protest in another city, Solingen, where the cartoons of Muhammad were also paraded. The police there detained 32 Muslim protesters after they clashed with officers, throwing stones and charging the barriers separating them from the far-right demonstrators.
German’s interior minister, Hans-Peter Friedrich, has vowed to take stronger action against the Salafists. While they account for a tiny fraction of the estimated 4.3 million Muslims living in Germany, he noted, nearly all Islamic extremists known to German security officials, including several charismatic preachers, have links to the movement. They have proved adept at using social media and Internet forums to attract young followers in Bonn and surrounding areas.
The King Fahd Academy, where the clashes with the police took place, stands incongruously in Bad Godesberg, its gold-topped minaret rising against the deep green bluffs of the Drachenfels crag, where legend has it that Siegfried slew the dragon.
The school was intended to offer a traditional Arabic curriculum to children of diplomats stationed in Bonn. The city authorities tried to close the school in 2003 after it emerged that it taught an extreme form of Islam that encouraged a violent rejection of the Western humanistic values enshrined in the German Constitution.
A compromise was reached, and the school has become a magnet for Muslim families. Several hundred move to Bonn each year, and Muslims now make up about 10 percent of the city’s population. Many are wealthy Arabs attracted to Bonn’s outstanding medical facilities.
The Bonn police spokesman, Harry Kolbe, said, however, that the influx had also brought young Muslims with no jobs or diplomas, who clashed with their wealthier peers.
Ms. Menden, whose flower shop sits on a corner opposite the King Fahd Academy, said she was traumatized by watching what had begun as a peaceful protest deteriorate into a street riot beneath her window. At first, Ms. Menden said, young men, many with long beards and traditional Arabic clothing, greeted her politely. She was impressed by how they had laid out their rugs in the center of the street and bent in unison to pray.
But at some point, she said, she noticed that several young men were stuffing their pockets with the small slate chips that lined the garden along her exterior wall. “I went over to fuss at them, and one turned and threw the stones back in my face,” she said. Her husband pulled her inside to safety.
She said it still upset her to know that the stones from her garden were thrown at the police by the very people who moments earlier had greeted her politely. “I do not feel hate, I do not feel fear,” Ms. Menden said. “I feel disappointment.”
Other residents blame the city’s own education system for the troubles. Classes are taught in Arabic at several elementary schools, part of an effort at integration begun in 2003, when several hundred students had to leave the King Fahd Academy.
“Years of work on integration were unraveled in that demonstration,” said Annette Schwolen-Flümann, district mayor of Bad Godesberg.
Less than an hour after the disturbance, residents swept away the dirt and debris from the overturned flowerpots. Many were Muslims who had sought to keep the peace that Saturday afternoon and were themselves struggling to come to terms with the events.
A Muslim woman who gave her name only as Ms. Elbay because, she said, she did not feel comfortable being identified in media outlets, said she has lived behind the parking lot where the rightist group held its demonstration for the past 11 years without any trouble.
“It is difficult for us as Muslims,” Ms. Elbay said. “Our image is always being destroyed.We do our best to try to live a normal life; we send our children to integrated play groups, we have German friends, and then these people come and destroy it,” she said, referring to the Muslim demonstrators who had turned violent.
Ms. Menden insisted that now she struggled to fight back anger whenever a Muslim neighbor greeted her.
Another neighbor, Hans-Peter Weisz, who has lived on the street for 30 years, said his children were frightened that protests would recur there. “You can understand how a hate against foreigners can grow,” Mr. Weisz said, “It’s not good.”
I haven't seen the parents for several days, so they may have stopped feeding them to encourage them to fledge. I take that back - fresh fish was just delivered for breakfast. They're all working to fly a little way from side to side over the nest. Goodbye little friends. Good luck.
Was the Murfreesboro Mosque Ruling a Pyrrhic Victory?
Islamic Center of Murfreesboro
Source: MSMV-TV Channel Four Nashville
Last Friday evening more than 150 people joined in a celebration at the home of Sally and Howard Wall in Mufreesboro of what they thought was a legal victory given a ruling issued that day by Chancellor Robert E. Corlew, III of the Rutherford County Chancery Court. The Walls have been major backers and stalwarts in the nearly two year battle over the Rutherford County Regional Planning Commission approval of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro (ICM). The ICM had obtained approval for construction of the 52,000 square foot complex located at 2700 Veals Road in the Middle Tennessee community. The ICM project proceeded following Corlew’s earlier ruling against plaintiffs‘charges in a prior hearing 2010 and 2011.
Despite the plaintiffs’ losing the previous matter, we commended them for bringing the April 2012 action current ruling. However, we also noted that this successful second matter should have been the first order of legal business to stop the ICM project from being initiated.
Following the April hearings Chancellor Corlew ruled in favor of the Plaintiffs lead by Kevin Fisher, a local Mosque opponent and other Mufreesboro residents. Corlew ruled that evidence presented at the two day proceedings demonstrated that legal notifications did not meet the standards of the Tennessee Open Meetings Act to provide adequate notice by the County Planning Commission for a hearing that resulted in a May 24, 2010 approval of the Murfreesboro Mosque project . The final June 1st order by Corlew in KEVIN FISHER, et al., Plaintiffs,v. RUTHERFORD COUNTY REGIONALPLANNING COMMISSION, et al.,Defendants; And IN RE: MURFREESBORO POST, Docket No. 10CV 10443 noted:
In accordance with the applicable law, the Court found that the decisions of the Regional Planning Commission regarding land at 2700 Veals Road in Rutherford County, Tennessee and particularly as those decisions regarding the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro were in fact void, ab initio that decision having been made at a meeting which was held in violation of the Tennessee Open Meetings Act. FURTHER, in accordance with the Open Meetings Act, the Defendants are enjoined from further violations of the Open Meetings Act and shall refrain from holding further meetings without adequate public notice to the citizens of Rutherford County with regard to further matter of significant public interest at future meetings of the Rutherford County Regional Planning Commission and particularly meetings at which decisions are made regarding the issues which have been the subject of this litigation, that being the issues surrounding the land at 2700 Veals Road, Rutherford County, Tennessee, and, under the terms of the Open Meetings Law, this Court retains continuing jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter of this lawsuit for a period of one year, or through June l, 2013.
However, Corlew’s final order had a footnote that upon disclosure by attorneys for the Plaintiffs, Joe Brandon, Esq. and Thomas Smith, Esq., left ultimate enforcement to filing by plaintiffs of a separate Writ of Mandamus for injunctive relief to enforce his ruling. The footnote reads as follows:
The Plaintiffs propose that the Court enter an InJunction against the Court, mandatory in nature, directing the County officials and third parties to cease construction at 2700 Veals Road. The Court notes, however, that such is not now a part of this action, and, in fact should be the subject of separate matters either in the nature of a mandamus action or further injunctive relief. The Court further notes that the terms of this order do not prohibit the Defendants from again considering the issues which were the subject of the May 24, 2010 meeting provided proper notice is given under the law.
An email sent by Plaintiffs’ counsel Thomas Smith, Esq. to Lou Ann Zelenik, executive director of the Tennessee Freedom Coalition (TFC), a candidate in the GOP primary for the Tennessee Sixth Congressional District, late Friday had this comment:
This morning I was preparing a response to the County objections to our draft order with an injunction when the Chancellor issued this Order that says in a footnote that we must file a separate mandamus action to require them to enforce the law!!!
Under Tennessee law the filing of a Writ of Mandamus takes 30 days to perfect. That means both the County and the ICM, the third party referenced in Corlew’s ruling, can file objections prior to the Court issuing a Mandamus order stopping construction. In the interim the ICM can proceed with construction targeting a July 19th possible opening of the first phase facility at the 2700 Veals Road location. That would be pursuant to issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy subject to inspection by the County Building Department. July 19th marks the start of the month long Ramadan Islamic religious period. Thus, it is very possible that the ICM will have an approved opening thereby mooting Chancellor Corlew’s June 1st order.
Today, a group of ICM project opponents in Murfreesboro will attempt to serve Corlew’s order on Rutherford County code enforcement officer, David Jones. Doubtless Jones will refer them to County Attorney James Cope who in turn will refer them to Corlew’s order and the footnote.
Jonna Bianco, a board member of the TFC had this comment:
Didn’t they read the fine print of the Order to understand that all Corlew did was push it off his desk, allowing time for construction to be completed for the Grand Opening and Ramadan? While providing an avenue for the Plaintiffs to seek injunctive relief the ruling effectively mooted lawsuits to be filed by the plaintiffs against the County and Mosque reversing the original County Planning Commission approvals. This also meant starting all over with the plaintiffs’ case. In the meantime, the first phase of the ICM Mega Mosque will be completed. This has all the appearances of a political move!!!!
Is this the justice that Kevin Fisher said was done with the Chancery Court ruling by Chancellor Corlew?
Given the fine print in Chancellor Corlew’s June 1st order it would appear that Fisher and fellow plaintiffs will have achieved a Pyrrhic victory against the ICM mega mosque in Tennessee. Pity!
The New Germany And The Old Nazis: Klaas Faber Dies Peacefully, At The Ripe Old Age Of 90
Like hundreds of thousands of others who participated directly in the German mass-murders, Klaas Faber completely escaped punishment, protected for decades by the German government and all those who, having participated themselves in the Nazi regime, felt that they had all been "punished enough" by losing the war.
From The New York Times:
June 5, 2012
Klaas Faber, War Criminal Who Escaped Punishment, Is Dead at 90
Klaas Faber, a Dutch native and Nazi collaborator who was convicted in the killing of Jews and resistance fighters in his homeland in World War II before escaping to Germany and living there a free man through decades of legal wrangling, died on May 24 in the Bavarian city of Ingolstadt. He was 90.
His death was confirmed by an official of the hospital where he died, The Associated Press reported.
Two years ago, when the Dutch undertook a new effort to have the Germans return Mr. Faber to the Netherlands or order him to serve out his life sentence in Germany, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the international Jewish human rights organization, listed him as No. 3 among its most wanted Nazi-era war criminals.
But Mr. Faber was not in hiding. He had lived in Ingolstadt for many years, holding an office job with the Audi automobile company. The Germans had refused to extradite him on the ground that he had German citizenship under an edict issued by Hitler in 1943 conveying it on foreigners who had aided the Nazi war cause.
When the Nazis occupied the Netherlands, Mr. Faber and his brother Pieter Johan Faber joined the German SS death squads operating there. In 1947 a Dutch court convicted Klaas Faber of taking part in killings at three Dutch locations, including the Westerbork transit camp, where Dutch Jews, among them Anne Frank, were held before being sent to concentration camps. His brother was also convicted of participating in murders.
Both brothers were sentenced to death. Pieter Johan was executed by a firing squad. But Klaas Faber’s punishment was commuted to a life sentence on appeal because it could not be proved that he had personally been involved in killings.
Their father, Pieter Faber, had been a senior member of the Dutch Nazi Party, according to Agence-France Press. He was killed by the Dutch resistance in 1944.
In December 1952 Mr. Faber broke out of a prison in the southern Netherlands city of Breda along with six other former SS men, and they made their way to the West German city of Essen, some 90 miles away. Soon afterward, Mr. Faber received German citizenship under Hitler’s 1943 directive, which had not been repealed.
The Dutch first sought Mr. Faber’s extradition in 1954, but the German authorities blocked that — along with subsequent efforts — asserting that German law prohibited extradition of citizens.
When Mr. Faber escaped to Germany, a total of 364 war criminals were still being held there by the United States, the British and the French pending establishment of a Joint Allied-German Board of Review to consider the cases.
Drew Middleton of The New York Times, reporting from Bonn in January 1953 on the aftermath of the escapes from the Dutch prison, told of “the sympathetic attitude of an increasing number of Germans toward war prisoners and their crimes.”
A German court ruled in 1957 that it had insufficient evidence to try Mr. Faber as an alternative to allowing his return to the Netherlands. A Dutch request to have him jailed in Germany in 2004 also failed. German prosecutors received new evidence from the Netherlands in 2006 but found that he may have been guilty not of murder but only of manslaughter, for which the statute of limitations had expired.
The Dutch persisted. In 2010 they filed a European arrest warrant, which allows prosecutors in any member country of the European Union to request, without bureaucratic delay or restrictions, the extradition of a person accused in any of about 30 areas of criminal activity .
“The fact that this murderer of so many innocent people has been protected by Germany for so many decades is a travesty and sends a message that even those convicted of multiple murders can escape justice,” Efraim Zuroff, the head of the Wiesenthal Center’s office in Israel and its coordinator of investigations into surviving war criminals, said at the time.
The Germans still refused to extradite Mr. Faber. But in a step arising out of the arrest warrant, a prosecutor in Ingolstadt sought his imprisonment. The prosecutor stated that a court there would not need to reconsider the allegations in the Dutch case but could decide whether, as a result of the rejection of the European Arrest Warrant, the sentence against him could be enforced in Germany. That matter was pending when Mr. Faber died.
Klaas Carel Faber was born in Haarlem on Jan. 20, 1922. His survivors include his wife, Jacoba. They were reported to have had three children.
In Mr. Faber’s final years, the British newspaper The Sun reported that Mr. Faber had rejected a request for an interview in Ingolstadt.
“After years as an anonymous office worker at Audi, Faber now enjoys a cozy retirement relaxing in local parks and going on shopping trips in his VW Golf,” The Sun wrote. It reported that neighbors found him to be “quiet, but friendly and polite.”
Le cimetière juif d'Herrlisheim, en Alsace, après une profanation en 2004. Les actes antisémites sont récurrents depuis les années 2000, notamment lors des tensions au Moyen-Orient, mais aussi dès que l'on parle des Juifs dans les médias.Crédits photo : FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP
VIDÉO - L'agression de trois jeunes Juifs samedi à Villeurbanne est fermement condamnée.
Après l'agression au marteau et avec des barres de fer de trois jeunes Juifs à Villeurbanne samedi, les responsables politiques multiplient les condamnations. Le premier ministre, Jean-Marc Ayrault, a dénoncé lundi cet acte «très grave », d'une «violence insupportable ». «J'exprime ma solidarité avec les victimes, c'est une évidence pour moi.»«Il faut mener en permanence le combat contre toutes les formes d'antisémitisme, de racisme. Il faut le faire à la fois à travers la fermeté mais aussi l'éducation », a ajouté le premier ministre. Tandis que Jean-François Copé, secrétaire général de l'UMP, a exprimé sa «très grande émotion suite à l'odieuse agression antisémite » de Villeurbanne et réclamé «que les auteurs soient retrouvés puis condamnés avec une implacable fermeté ». Le ministre de l'Intérieur Manuel Valls reçoit ce mardi les responsables de la communauté juive pour faire le point sur les mesures de sécurité en vigueur.
Les agresseurs auraient été identifiés, et le scénario de l'attaque semble se préciser. Samedi, les trois jeunes Juifs religieux âgés de 18 ans, portant la kippa et le châle de prière, remontaient vers la synagogue de Beth Menahem, lorsqu'ils ont été insultés par «trois Maghrébins du même âge. Ils ont répliqué avant de continuer leur chemin », raconte Richard Benita, qui dirige la radio juive locale Judaïca et s'est entretenu avec l'entourage des victimes. Quelques minutes plus tard, les agresseurs, revenus avec cinq personnes en renfort et des barres de fer, ont fondu sur les trois Juifs qui se trouvaient sur une grande avenue. L'un est encore hospitalisé et tous ont reçu cinq jours d'ITT.
Cette nouvelle agression a semé la peur à Villeurbanne. La ville, longtemps tranquille, rassemble près de 18.000 Juifs, pour la plupart des rapatriés d'Afrique du Nord, qui se sont installés près des écoles juives et des synagogues. Mais, depuis une dizaine d'années, les accrochages se multiplient. Avec l'installation de «Maghrébins dans les HLM», et «la multiplication de mosquées salafistes» dénoncent certains habitants. Insultes, jets de cailloux et agressions sont fréquents. L'année dernière, un jeune Juif portant la kippa avait été attaqué dans les mêmes conditions, d'abord insulté, puis roué de coups de barre de fer par un groupe venu épauler l'agresseur.
«On a l'impression que nous ne sommes plus des êtres humains. Qu'on peut nous tuer», hoquette Sarah, qui vit à Villeurbanne. «Les Juifs se sentent exposés à l'extrême violence à tout moment», souligne Sammy Gozlan, qui dirige le Bureau de vigilance contre l'antisémitisme. «L'affaire Merah a créé un sentiment d'impunité, l'idée que l'on peut tout faire aux Juifs», assure cet ancien policier. On a vu fleurir des tags «Merah n… les Juifs», des élèves martyriser des camarades de confession juive en invoquant Merah, des groupes Facebook de soutien au tueur… «Dans les semaines qui ont suivi les assassinats de l'école Ozar Hatorah, il y a eu une considérable augmentation du nombre d'actes antisémites», explique Richard Prasquier, le président du Crif. Près de 90 actes antisémites ont été recensés par le service de protection de la communauté juive depuis mars. Ces pics de violence sont récurrents depuis les années 2000, en général lors de tensions au Moyen-Orient, mais aussi dès que l'on parle des Juifs dans les médias. Quand bien même seraient-ils des enfants tués par Mohamed Merah!