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The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
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The Impact of Islam
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by Ibn Warraq
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edited by S.B. Kelly
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by Theodore Dalrymple
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interviews by Jerry Gordon
Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy
Emmet Scott
Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
Ibn Warraq
Anything Goes
by Theodore Dalrymple
Karimi Hotel
De Nidra Poller
The Left is Seldom Right
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Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
by Ibn Warraq
An Introduction to Danish Culture
by Norman Berdichevsky
The New Vichy Syndrome:
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Jihad and Genocide
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Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
by Norman Berdichevsky



















These are all the Blogs posted on Thursday, 5, 2012.
Thursday, 5 July 2012
Support for anti-gay pride protest shown from Muslims accross the UK

From Derby Muslim Action Force HT Pink News  

Since announcing the anti-gay pride protest in Derby City Center this saturday the 7th of July we have seen a wave of support from Muslims accross the UK. Pictures (actually all the same picture but in different sizes) of home-made placards have been sent in showing some of the preparations made by Muslims.

We are also happy to report that word of the protest has reached other Muslim activists. Prominent Muslim campaigners (which I’m sure you can guess) have tweeted the protest and put it on their facebook

We ask the Muslims to continue in their preparations and to strengthen their resolve to make this the biggest and loudest protest ever. Takbeer! Allahu Akbar!

The anti-gay pride protest has been successfuly carried out for the past two years, despite the injust arrest and imprisonment of our fellow Muslims… this time we are going bigger than ever before, calling on Muslims from around the UK to support the protest.
The heat always seems to bring out the worst of this society and this summer is no different with the upcoming Gay Pride march in Derby on the 7th of July. As Muslims it is our duty to forbid this major, deplorable evil of society.

The past two years we have come and spoken out, confronting them on the day, urging them to follow a natural way of living as detailed in Islam. We have seen our brothers locked away in the prisons, and pursued in the courts, but despite the efforts of the enemies of Islam to silence us, we will not remain silent. This time we are going national, urging Muslims from around the UK and abroad to come and show their support

Their earlier press release;

We will be holding a static demonstration, delivering speeches and discussing the Islamic viewpoint on the issue and will explain the Islamic verdict under an Islamic state on homosexuals.

We have garnered much interest from Muslims around the UK and are expecting this to be the biggest protest of the kind in Derby.

We will also be speaking out against the arrests and incarceration of Muslims who in the past have spoken out on the issue of homosexuality in Derby

Posted on 07/05/2012 3:16 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 5 July 2012
Youths in Germany turning to jihad

From Deutsche Welle

From Wuppertal to Waziristan: Ever more young men living in Germany are traveling to conflict zones to become jihadi fighters. Though numbers remain small, security services are taking the problem very seriously.

Cases of young Muslim men living in Germany becoming jihadi combatants are rare, but increasing in number. German security services believe that since the beginning of the 1990s, around 235 "people with German connections and Islamic terrorist backgrounds" have at least attempted to obtain paramilitary training. There is concrete evidence that around 100 were actually trained or engaged in military operations. More than half of those are said to be back in Germany, and around 10 have been imprisoned.

Secret services and agents are taking the matter very seriously. "Should they return [to Germany], these people could be involved in activity which poses a threat to national security," said a spokesperson for the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. Members of the so-called Sauerland Group attended a training camp in Pakistan before they were arrested during preparations for attacking U.S. facilities in Germany.

"Another risk factor is that these people have big reputations in the Islamist scene," said the spokesperson. "That can lead to the further radicalization of Islamists who until now weren't necessarily prepared to engage in violent conflict."

Mounir and Yassin C., two Moroccan brothers from Bonn, regularly appear in German-language propaganda videos from Waziristan. In the most recent video, Yassin C. called for the murder of journalists and activists from the extreme right-wing Pro NRW party.

To many viewers, the dispatch may seem full of theatrical, absurd boasts, but the makers haven't missed the mark: Arid U., a Kosovar who shot dead two U.S. soldiers and left two others badly wounded at Frankfurt Airport in March 2011, was evidently radicalized over the Internet within a very short space of time. He is said to have listened to a battle song by Mounir C. on the way to the attack.

"Al-Qaeda and their auxiliaries have created a whole genre of propaganda films," said Asiem El Difraoui, author of a study on the role of online propaganda for the Economic and Political Foundation of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs. The propaganda films portray a romanticized view of life in the training camps, the suffering of Muslim civilians is depicted in gruesome detail and martyrdom is glorified.

"Norwegian researchers have investigated the profiles of hundreds of jihadi sympathizers and determined that every one of them spent large periods of time on the Internet and were heavily influenced by these films," said El Difraoui.

With others, it is a longer process. Salafists are employing methods such acting as like social workers on the streets in many German cities, in order to attract young people without any real prospects to their ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam. "They target young people from Muslim backgrounds, but who are not practicing and who are often addicted to drugs, who are petty criminals or don't have any educational qualifications," Dantschke (Claudia Dantschke, a family advisor at the Center for Democratic Culture in Berlin.) said.

The new alliance acts as kind of a surrogate family, where recruits experience recognition and respect. For the majority of recruits, this is just leads to proselytizing or separating themselves from society, and not jihadi violence. Only a small minority of recruits - often from comfortable, middle-class backgrounds - become further radicalized.

The biographies and paths to radicalization vary greatly among militant Islamists, with chance often playing a decisive role. . . To stop "jihadi tourism," Germany has made being present in a terrorist training camp a punishable offense since 2009. But repression alone won't solve the problem, believes author Wolf Schmidt. "You must to be one step ahead, and you need a clever form of prevention."

Posted on 07/05/2012 3:50 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 5 July 2012
Eleven Years, And A Trillion American Dollars Later, Afghanistan, Because Of Islam, Remains The Same

From Reuters:

Woman, two children beheaded in Afghanistan 'honor killing'

Police said they suspected the woman's divorced husband murdering her in her home in the capital of Ghazni province alongside their eight-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter.

Jul.04, 2012

A 30-year-old woman and two of her children were beheaded overnight in Afghanistan's east, police said, in what appeared to be the latest in a rapidly growing trend of so-called honor killings.

Police said they suspected the woman Serata's divorced husband of barging into her house in the capital of Ghazni province and murdering her, alongside their eight-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter.

"The children saw the killer take their mother's head off, so he killed them too," a local policeman told Reuters, adding that the attacker had spared Sereta's two-year-old daughter.

Activists say there has been a sharp rise in violent attacks on women in Afghanistan over the past year.

They blame President Hamid Karzai's waning attention to women's rights as his government prepares for the exit of most foreign troops in 2014 and seeks to negotiate with the Taliban, Afghanistan's former Islamist rulers.

Excluding Serata's beheading, there have been 16 cases of "honor killings" recorded across the country over March and April, the first two months of the Afghan new year, according toAfghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC).

This compares to the 20 cases recorded for all of last year, said commissioner Suraya Subhrang, blaming increased insecurity and weak rule of law for the sharp rise. Since AIHRC started recording such killings in 2001, there have never been more than 20 cases a year.

"And there are many that go unreported. Men make a quick decision in their own courts to kill a girl and hold a prayer for her the next day," Subhrang told Reuters.

Serata divorced her husband Mohammad Arif, 38, a year ago after enduring almost a decade of domestic abuse, said Shukria Wali, head of Ghazni's department of women's affairs, which is attached to the ministry in Kabul.

Police said they were still hunting for Arif. Violent crimes against women often go unpunished in Afghanistan, with activists blaming police carelessness, corruption and a growing atmosphere of impunity.

Officers investigating the case described it as an honor killing - a phrase used to describe the murder of mostly women and girls by people who accuse them of besmirching a family's reputation.

Afghan women have won back basic rights in education, voting and work since the austere rule of the Taliban was toppled just over a decade ago, though fear now mounts that freedoms will be traded away as Kabul and Washington seek talks with the Islamist group to secure a peaceful end to the war.

Donors are expected to commit just under $4 billion in development aid annually to Afghanistan at a summit in Tokyo on Sunday, though the European Union - the biggest contributor - has said maintaining its support will be difficult if women's rights are not protected.

During its five-year reign, the Taliban banned women from most work, denied them the right to vote and ordered that they wear a head-to-toe burqa when out of the house.

Despite more than 10 years of war and billions of dollars in foreign aid, the country remains desperately poor. Female illiteracy rates in rural areas are above 90 percent and child marriages are still widespread despite being illegal.
Posted on 07/05/2012 10:54 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 5 July 2012
Son Of Mustafa Tlas Said To Flee Syria For Turkey

Syria death toll up as high-ranking army supporter of Assad defects to Turkey

Syrian forces killed as many as 52 people across the country on Thursday, Al Arabiya reported citing activists at the Syrian Revolution Commission, as a Syrian general was reported to have defected and crossed into Turkey.

Government forces used missiles in shelling Gora al-Shayah and al-Qarabees neighborhoods in Homs, activists said. Meanwhile, government troops stormed Deraa and arrested scores of residents.

Activists added that al-Latmana town in Hama was exposed to intensive shelling since the morning, leaving scores of people killed and injured.

Dozens of people were injured or arrested in the city of al-Suwaidaa, where hundreds of people went out in protests.

Manaf Tlas (R) was a high-ranking military supporter of President Bashar al-Assad. (Al Arabiya) [he was probably terrified of being killed, for neither he, nor his blustering and vicious father, are known for their bravery]

Meanwhile, a general in the elite Syrian Republican Guards has defected to Turkey, according to Al Arabiya.

It was the first such reported defection of a high-ranking military supporter of President Bashar al-Assad since the rebellion against him started 16 months ago.

Manaf Tlas, who was accompanied by 23 other defected officers, is the son of Mustapha Tlas, who served as defense minister from the early 1970s until 2004 and was a confidante of Assad's father, the late Hafez al-Assad.

“A high-level security source has confirmed the fleeing of General (Manaf) Tlas to Turkey,” the Syriasteps website, which has links to the Syrian security apparatus, said.

It quoted a security official as saying: “His escape does not mean anything.”

“If Syrian Intelligence had wanted to arrest him it would have done so,” the official added.

Syrian opposition campaigners and Free Syrian Army rebel sources said they had information that Tlas was in Turkey but did not consider him a defector until he makes an announcement, according to Reuters.

“We think he has made it to Turkey but he has not contacted us. There is a difference between leaving Syria and joining the opposition to Assad,” a Syrian opposition source said from Istanbul.

A total of 66 people fled into Turkey from Syria on Wednesday, including the general and two colonels as well as soldiers and their families, a Turkish diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Turkey has become home to dozens of soldiers who have crossed the border. Defectors have formed the Free Syrian Army in opposition to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Around 35,000 displaced Syrians have sought refuge in Turkey since the start of a bloody uprising in March 2011.

Posted on 07/05/2012 12:22 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 5 July 2012
Meet Mustafa Tlass, For 32 Years Defense Minister Of Syria
Raad all about the author of "The Matzah of Zion" here.
Posted on 07/05/2012 12:29 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 5 July 2012
Muslim Morality Comes To Egypt With A Vengeance

From Reuters:

Morality killing triggers fears and debate in Egypt

July 5, 2012

CAIRO (Reuters) - The fatal stabbing by men identified as Islamists of a young man as he walked with his fiancee has stirred fears among some Egyptians that zealots emboldened by the Muslim Brotherhood's rise to power will seek to impose their customs on society.

The couple were out in the port city of Suez, known as a bastion of hardline Islamism, when Ahmed Eid 20, was set upon and stabbed on June 25, dying later of his wounds.

Although the exact circumstances of his killing are unclear, the stabbing has fed concern about the increased scope for vigilantism since Islamists moved to the heart of political life in the 17 months since Hosni Mubarak was deposed.

Religious piety is common in Egypt but couples will often been seen holding hands in public even before marriage, bars are tolerated and tourists can peacefully visit beaches.

The Muslim Brotherhood and more hardline Salafi parties have also voiced strong opposition to religious coercion or violence.

The three men identified as Islamists were arrested in the early hours of Thursday on suspicion of carrying out the attack, security sources in Suez said, adding they had shaved off their beards in an attempt to lie low.

"Investigations are still going on with the three accused. They are Islamists but so far no organizational links have been uncovered," one of the sources said. The killing appeared not to have been premeditated, they said, adding that Eid was stabbed after an argument escalated into violence.

Since Mubarak was toppled, reports have often circulated of Islamist-inspired morality campaigns.

Hardliners acting independently of any organization have targeted Sufi shrines - deemed by hardliners as heretical because of their mysticism. They blew one up in the Sinai Peninsula, where groups at the extreme fringe of the Islamist spectrum have imposed their own vision of Islam in some towns.

But Islamist groups say cases have been either exaggerated or fabricated to scare Egyptians.

Conflicting reports over who stabbed Eid have circulated since his death. Hussein Eid, his father, initially accused parties affiliated to the Mubarak era of mounting the attack to tarnish the Islamists' reputation - suspicions also voiced by the Islamist groups and even some of their liberal critics.

Eid later changed his mind, telling Al Jazeera his son had been stabbed by three men in Salafi Islamist garb who had been riding a motorcycle. Reuters could not immediately reach Eid for comment. The story has triggered deep fear for some.

"It looks like we are going to have to go through what Europe went through in the Middle Ages before becoming an open society that embraces all ideologies," said Achraf Chazly, a 35-year-old lawyer, condemning the Suez stabbing. [no, because Islam is not the same, and has no ability to change, the way Christianity, or the reception of Christianity, did]

"We might see incidents of men harassing women more on the streets for not wearing veils," he added.

"But if we have a good constitution and good implementation of the law to protect the basic rights and liberties of all Egyptians, this will help Egypt pass through the phase of religious fundamentalism quicker."

Yet in a country where public debate is rich with rumor and conspiracy theories, the stabbing has also reignited a debate about whether such incidents are what they seem, or rather part of a campaign by groups affiliated to the Mubarak administration and aimed at discrediting the mainstream Islamist groups.

The Muslim Brotherhood issued a statement last week saying people masquerading [!] as its members had attacked women's hair salons on the grounds they were immoral, describing it as an attempt to spoil the group's image.

Groups such as al-Gama'a al-Islamiya, a Salafi movement which fought the state as recently as the 1990s, have come out strongly against acts of coercion or violence.

Hazem Saleh Abu Ismail, an Islamist preacher disqualified from the presidential race, suggested the furor over the stabbing was a bid to tarnish the image of Islamists.

But in a television interview, he also appeared to sympathize with those angered by public displays of affection of the type that appeared to lead to Eid's death.

"If you want to go for a stroll in some well-known areas of Cairo, you will see scandals," he said.

A group calling itself "The Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Elimination of Vice" - a name evoking the religious police in Saudi Arabia - claimed responsibility for Eid's killing, though the Interior Ministry denied it had any role and a leading Salafi cleric said it did not even exist.

A group with the same name established a Facebook page earlier this year, directly after Islamists secured control of 70 percent of the parliament. After receiving days of coverage in the Egyptian media, the site disappeared.

Mohamed Habib, a former deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, said that if the killing had an ideological motive, then it was most likely an individual act caused by the erroneous beliefs of the perpetrators.

He added that criticism of the Islamists by their liberal opponents had created tension that could lead to such violence. "This could push some of the youth to these thoughts, especially if they do not understand properly," he said.

Posted on 07/05/2012 12:59 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 5 July 2012
Jean-François Copé, Secretary-General Of France's UMP, On The Wave Of Antisemitic Attacks By Muslims
Read here.
Posted on 07/05/2012 1:04 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 5 July 2012
Six arrested in London anti-terror operation

From the BBC. Good pictures at ITV News

Five men and a woman suspected of terrorism offences have been arrested in London as part of an intelligence-led investigation involving MI5.

One of the six, who are aged between 18 and 30, was Tasered by police. Eight homes in west, east and north London and one business have been searched. It is understood the arrests relate to a possible plot involving Islamist extremists, with potential UK targets.

Three of those held are brothers - one an ex-police community support officer. He served with the Metropolitan Police for more than two years before resigning in September 2009. The brothers, aged 18, 24 and 26, were detained in Abbey Road, in Stratford, east London, during an operation involving armed officers. The BBC understands they are Jahangir, Mohammed and Moybur Alom.

Richard Dart, a Muslim convert who uses the name Salahuddin al Britani, was also detained in the raids, it is understood. He features in a YouTube video which criticises the Royal Family and British military action in Muslim countries. People were wondering where Richard Dart was - as he was too quiet, not stalking u pand down with the usual suspects and probably up to no good? Now we know; he was up to no good.

Some - if not all - of those arrested on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism are British nationals, BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw says.

They include a 21-year-old man and a 30-year-old woman, who were detained at separate addresses in Ealing, west London, while a 29-year-old man was arrested in an Ealing street. The woman is married to one of the men. All six have been taken to a police station in south-east London.

The 24-year-old man who was Tasered during his arrest in Stratford did not need hospital treatment, police said.

The Metropolitan Police said the arrests were not linked to the Olympics or Paralympic Games.

Posted on 07/05/2012 1:06 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 5 July 2012
Eric Zemmour On Fifty Years Of Algerian Independence

Éric Zemmour : « L’Algérie n’a jamais été autre chose qu’une terre coloniale »

Alors que l’Algérie a commencé mercredi soir à célébrer les 50 ans de son indépendance (cela va durer un an…), Éric Zemmour propose jeudi sur RTL un décryptage politiquement et historiquement incorrect de l’événement : « Il n’y aura que des amis… de l’époque. Les parrains de l’indépendance : les Russes et les Chinois qui aidaient alors le FLN au nom de l’internationale communiste. Et les États-Unis, dont on oublie trop souvent qu’ils avaient hâte de voir la France abandonner partout ses colonies. »

La France doit rester l’ennemi

« François Hollande, lui, n’a pas été invité », note l’éditorialiste réac’. « Oh, rien de personnel, mais la France doit rester l’ennemi. La guerre d’indépendance ne doit jamais finir, elle demeure le fondement de la légitimité du pouvoir du FLN depuis 50 ans. Elle couvre d’un souvenir glorieux leur lamentable gestion économique, uniquement capable d’exploiter la rente pétrolière, la gabegie, la corruption, le racket, les prévarications, la tyrannie politique, les massacres (à l’indépendance contre les Harkis puis pendant la guerre civile contre les islamistes au cours des années 90). »

L’Algérie n’a jamais été autre chose qu’une terre coloniale

Éric Zemmour revient sur le « curieux destin d’une guerre gagnée sur le terrain par l’armée française et devenue le symbole de toutes les défaites nationales » et sur l’« étonnante indépendance accordée par le Général de Gaulle, avant toute chose pour que, disait-il, mon village ne devienne pas Colombey-les-Deux-Mosquées et qui n’a pas évité, mais au contraire accéléré l’installation sur le sol français de millions d’Algériens. Histoire paradoxale qui focalise la culpabilité coloniale française confinant souvent à la haine de soi, alors même que l’Algérie n’a jamais été autre chose qu’une terre coloniale. Les Français y ont pris en 1830 la suite des Romains, des Arabes, des Espagnols, des Turcs… »

L’Algérie est intouchable

« Les populations qui se révoltaient contre la France étaient elles-même descendante des colonisateurs arabes qui avaient vaincu les valeureux guerriers berbères », précise Éric Zemmour. « On pourrait même dire que l’Algérie, dont le nom a été inventé par la France, continue d’être sous un joug colonial d’une armée spoliatrice : l’armée algérienne ne recrute encore aujourd’hui ses officiers supérieurs que dans les mêmes villages, les mêmes clans, les mêmes familles, comme Assad en Syrie avec les Alaouites. C’est pour cette raison que l’armée algérienne a tenu bon dans la guerre civile. Alors, ceux-là même qui, aujourd’hui, réclament à hauts cris, au nom des droits de l’homme, une intervention contre Assad, ne bronchaient pas. L’Algérie est intouchable. »

Le rôle positif de la colonisation est évident

Alors que François Hollande pourrait exprimer « des regrets au nom de la France », « le FLN joue de cette sempiternelle culpabilité française pour préserver ses prébendes », note Éric Zemmour. « La repentance avait atteint des sommets sous la présidence Chirac. On passa à deux doigts d’un grand traité de réconciliation où la France aurait endossé le rôle du méchant nazi qui demande pardon pour ses fautes. La querelle sur le rôle positif de la colonisation adopté par l’Assemblée puis retiré sur ordre de l’Élysée, coupa court aux négociations. La querelle est ridicule, le rôle positif est évident : écoles, hôpitaux, ponts, routes, sans oublier la découverte de ce cher pétrole. Comme sont évidents les massacres commis par l’armée du Général Bugeaud en 1830, les enfumages, les spoliations de terres, les iniquités. La colonisation est un bloc. Mais elle est terminée depuis 50 ans et il serait temps qu’on s’en aperçoive à Alger… et à Paris. »

Posted on 07/05/2012 1:20 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 5 July 2012
Fear as student murdered in Egypt

From AP via News 24: Cairo - Three bearded men approached a university student and his girlfriend during a romantic rendezvous in a park and ordered them to separate because they weren't married, according to security officials. An argument broke out, ending with one of the men fatally stabbing the student. Ahmed Hussein Eid, 20, was attacked while enjoying the evening with his girlfriend in a quiet park that is a favorite spot for romantic rendezvous in Suez, according to the security officials, who gave the account on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The officials did not say what the two were doing when challenged by the three men who arrived at the scene on a motorbike.

But the officials, citing initial testimony of the girlfriend, said the men told the couple they should not be together because they were not married and must immediately leave and go their separate ways. An argument followed and one of the three men stabbed Eid in the upper left thigh, near his genitals. He was hospitalised and died of his wounds on Monday, the officials said.

Suez — a hotbed of the uprising — is a stronghold of Islamists . . .
The 25 June attack has alarmed Egyptians concerned that with an Islamist president in office, vigilante groups are feeling emboldened to enforce strict Islamic mores on the streets.
Some activists say Islamists already are flexing their muscles in areas outside Cairo and other main cities, taking advantage of the absence of civil society groups and tenuous security in the areas.

They cite reports of efforts to persuade drivers of communal taxis, mostly minibuses that can seat up to 16, to segregate women and men passengers. In some instances, women's hairdressing salons were told to get rid of male employees or threatened with closure.

"If Islamists are to try and take over the streets and enforce their version of Islam, they will do it in rural areas, at least initially," said Yara Sallam from Nazra, a women's rights group.

The security officials said there was no concrete evidence linking the June 25 killing to radical Islamic groups in Egypt, but it still has stoked fears.
On the same day, two musicians, who were brothers, were murdered as they were travelling home after performing at a wedding in the Nile Delta province of Sharqiyah, officials said. Radical Muslims consider music "haram" or prohibited, as a distraction from religious duties.

Two ultraconservative Salafi Muslims were arrested, but officials said it was not clear if the killings were religiously motivated.

Nonetheless, thousands of residents of Abu Kibeer, the victims' hometown, protested the killings, cutting off roads and disrupting train services by sitting on the rails. They also destroyed the local offices of a charity they suspected the culprits belonged to and torched the home of one suspect.

Some activists believe that the Brotherhood is at least quietly condoning nonviolent activity designed to bring the country more in alignment with Islam's teachings

For example, Islamists in the city of Marsa Matrouh on the Mediterranean are distributing leaflets to patrons of seaside cafes and beaches urging them not to listen to music or watch football on television.

Some concerts at university campuses reportedly have been cancelled following threats by Islamists and others have enforced the separation of men and women in classrooms and during out of town excursions.

"A lot of minibuses now play Quranic recitations on their radios instead of loud popular music as it is custom," said Ali Higris, a student from Maasarah, a working-class suburb south of Cairo.

Fully veiled women are also harassing women not wearing a veil or wearing colourful ones while travelling on the women-only train cars of Cairo's busy subway, according to activists monitoring women's rights.

Many fear the Brotherhood and its allies are closer than ever to realising the dream of an Islamic government in Egypt and are looking to Morsi to make it happen.

Posted on 07/05/2012 1:38 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 5 July 2012
De Gaulle, Algeria, And Colombey-Les-Deux-Mosquées

Eric Zemmour, intelligent and unbowed,  reminds his listeners at "Z pour Zemmour" on RFT that De Gaulle, who was responsible for abandoning Algeria to its monstrous and primitive fate  when the war could have been won, gave as his justification that he did not wish to see his small village (pop. 678) of Colombey-les-Deux-Églises become Colombey-les-Deux-Mosquées  [« étonnante indépendance accordée par le Général de Gaulle, avant toute chose pour que, disait-il, mon village ne devienne pas Colombey-les-Deux-Mosquées et qui n’a pas évité, mais au contraire accéléré l’installation sur le sol français de millions d’Algériens."].

De Gaulle thought he was keeping the Musilms at bay. Instead, successive governments allowed in hundreds of thousands, and then millions of Muslims, a colossal mistake, a mistake that was not inevitable and that did not have to be made. Those governments were led by arrogant and complacent elites, supported by various apologists for islam (such as Le Monde's hideous "expert" on the Middle East, a kind of French version of Robert Fisk named Eric Rouleau -- who later would be appointed the French ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Iran) led by elites who did not know about Islam, but thought they did, or thought that the suave and secularised Muslims they knew, or in some cases met at university, were representative of Muslims, and they could not conceive that Islam would not, over time, change, because they lacked both a knwowledge of the texts and tenets of Islam, but of the attitudes to which those texts and tenets give rise, the aggression, the violence just beneath the surface, the irrationality, the hysteria, the permanent hostility, easily becoming murdreous hostility, toward non-Muslims -- all this was ignored, or pooh-poohed. A generation of scholars of Islam, such as Dufourcq, were ignored, and so too were others, such as the writer and Protestant theologian Jacques Ellul, who recognized early on the menace of Islam, that is of the bearers of Islam, in Europe.

Now everyone of sense admits that it was folly to have allowed so many Muslims into the French midst, and everyone now recognizes, even if they do not say it aloud, that the large-scale presence of Muslims in France has led to a situation that is far more unpleasant, expensive, and physically dangerous, for the indigenous non-Muslims and for other, non-Muslim immigrants. And the situation can only get worse pari passu with the number of Muslims. There are things that can and should be done. There are hundreds of ways, little and big, to cut down or cut off altogether further Muslim migration, and ways to deport those who have not yet acquired French citizenship, and even ways to deport those who have acquired such citizenship, but through committing perjury. And there are ways to make the economic environment less attractive, by cutting the crazily generous benefits -- free education, free health care, free or greatly-subsidized housing, and so on -- that Muslim immigrants have proven so adept at taking advantage of, just as they have been adept at avoiding the kind of work for which their levels of training and intelligence make them fit.

One of the things that Zemmour identifies, rightly, as weakening the French resistance to Arab and Muslim immigration has been the wholesale swallowing of a narrative about "colonialism" that was never true. It was not true that the French "colonized" any Arab country save for Algeria. And it is true that Algeria was always the subject of coloniizing, and the cruelest colonizers, the ones who brought nothing but persuaded many of the natives to forget their own, Berber, history and language and culture, were the Muslim Arabs. The French built the first schools (unless you consider a madrasa to be a school), the first universities, the first hospitals, built the roads, built the cities (some of them beautiful, though under Arab rule everything has been slowly collapsing), and brought modern methods of agriculture. This is not something for which the French need apologize. They should ask themselves what Algeria would look like had the French never arrived. Libya? Yemen?

I doubt that in Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises there is yet a mosque. But that's only because there are still fewer than 700 inhabitants. Just wait.

Posted on 07/05/2012 1:56 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 5 July 2012
In Tunisia, Those Who Take Islam Most To Heart March On

Tunisia’s Media Reform Committee Suspends Its Activities in Protest

| 04 July 2012 

On Wednesday, the National Authority for the Reform of Media and Communications (INRIC) – an independent commission charged with reforming Tunisia’s media sector – decided to suspend its activities, accusing the government of attempting to censor and exert control over the media.

“The committee refuses to be just a decoration. The government is trying to control the media sector,” said Hichem Senoussi, a member of INRIC.

INRIC was created following the ouster of former Tunisian president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, and has spent the past year drafting a new press code to regulate the media sector.

“Since this government came to power, we have noticed the absence of concrete measures to reform the [media] sector. In fact, the government is interfering in media through the appointment of new officials,” he added.

Senoussi stated that, from the perspective of INRIC, the role of public media is to critically monitor and report on the activities of the government. Consequently, state control over the appointment of media officials undermines the independence that public media requires to perform this function effectively.

Since the government’s election in October, it has continued the old regime’s practice of appointing media heads, most recently replacing the head of the national television station Al Wataniya. The practice has been criticized all along by INRIC.

“We call for the independence of the media, and this cannot be done with the government’s continued interference,” stated Senoussi.

According to Senoussi, it is the prerogative of the High Independent Authority for Audiovisual Communication (HAICA) to appoint media figures, not the government.

Senoussi also cited the failure of the government to implement decrees 115 and 116, which are designed to ensure the protection of journalists and to implement the new press code regulating new audio-visual media.

“In order to ensure the independence of media institutions, the executive branch should not control media. This separation guarantees a discontinuation of former practices that rendered the media a tool of propaganda and manipulation,” Senoussi concluded.

Posted on 07/05/2012 2:25 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 5 July 2012
What Iran Is Up To In Kenya

From The Telegraph:

July 3, 2012

Iranians 'were targeting British High Commission in Kenya'

Two Iranians suspected of planning terror attacks in Kenya toured Nairobi surveying the British High Commission, the Israeli embassy and a synagogue in the week before their arrest, police told The Daily Telegraph.

Iranians 'were targeting British High Commission in Kenya'
Ahmad Abolfathi Mohammad and Sayed Mansour Mousavi were arrested last week with 33 pounds of RDX, a powerful explosive, in the coastal city of Mombasa Photo: AP

The pair made notes during drive-by survelliance in the Kenyan capital but did not take photographs for fear of raising suspicions.

Police sources referred to testimony given to detectives by a driver the men had hired.

The men, reportedly agents of the elite al-Quds division of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, have been charged with possessing 15kg of a powerful explosive called RDX, a component of Semtex, they had imported to Kenya via Iraq.

Ahmad Abolfathi Mohammad and Sayed Mansour Mousavi were arrested after Kenyan police linked them to a package containing explosives delivered to a warehouse near Mombasa, Kenya's main coast city. The pair planned to detonate as many as 30 different bombs targeting British, US, Israeli and Saudi Arabian interests, including tourist facilities and prominent commercial and governement buildings, anti-terror investigators believe.

"Our officers were highly suspicious of them from the moment that they landed in-country," one senior Kenyan detective with close knowledge of the men's case claimed.

"They were driving around Nairobi, they went past the British High Commission, they went past the [Nairobi Hebrew Congregation] synagogue in town, they went to the Israeli embassy.

"It is very clear that they were casing these places, that they were up to no good. From what we saw, their intention was clear to plan and execute terrorism attacks."

Like most diplomatic missions in Nairobi, Britain's High Commission is heavily secured with high walls, electrified fences, guards patrolling 24 hours and extensive CCTV cameras.

It is understood that the Iranian team focused their survey on a forested road that passes along the complex's eastern perimeter, close to a city centre golf course.

There were no ongoing investigations into the specific reports cited by local police, a spokesman for the High Commission said.

Following al-Qaeda bombings at the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, the nearby Israeli embassy became one of East Africa's best-protected foreign missions.

"That would have been a very ambitious target for a terror attack," one Nairobi-based security analyst said. "But the fact that they were looking there illustrates that they were not aiming low."

Investigators believe that the men planned to attack Western interests in Kenya because of the country involvement in neighbouring Somalia.

Any major bomb attacks would likely immediately be blamed on al-Shabaab rather than Iran, which is not known to have carried out significant direct or proxy strikes against the West, or Israel, in East Africa.

But had the attacks been successful, they would have matched an emerging pattern of Iranian actions against Israel taking place across the globe.

Last October, the US justice ministry said it had uncovered an Iranian conspiracy to use members of a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Washington.

Other plots believed to have been planned by Iranian agents include bomb strikes in Thailand, an attack against the wife of an Israeli diplomat in India, and the targeting of Israeli teachers at a Jewish school in Azerbaijan.

Analysts believe each mission was to be carried out by al-Quds agents and were part of a retaliation programme against Israel following the deaths in recent years of five Iranian scientists with links to Tehran's nuclear programme.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, was yesterday quoted directly accusing the Iranian government of giving orders to the two men arrested in Kenya, a charge that Iran has denied.

"Iranian terrorism knows no borders," said Mr Netanyahu. "The international community must fight against this major player in the world of terrorism."

Security sources said that Israeli-owned hotels and businesses in Mombasa and along the coast to the city's north and south, popular with British tourists, could also have been targets.

A vehicle hired by one of the men was used to carry the explosives from the port to a hiding place close to a golf course in Mombasa, police said.

"There was enough there for many different smaller explosions," the officer said. "We were told that they planned 30 different targets." Prosecutors said in their charge sheet that the two had explosives "in circumstances that indicated they were armed with the intent to commit a felony, namely, acts intended to cause grievous harm".

Posted on 07/05/2012 3:34 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 5 July 2012
Meet Abdul Halim Khaddam

A short introduction can be made here.

Before Manaf Tlass found himself relegated to a kind of house arrest, and then -- no doubt tempted by promises from a Gulf state (Qatar or Saudi Arabia) that tens of millions would make his family comfortable for the rest of their lives -- decided to defect, there was a similar man, with a similar tale. Abdul Khalim Khaddam was once among the handful of Sunnis who cheerfully executed fellow Sunnis, back in 1968, and he stood loyally by Hafez al-Assad until his death, and then he found himself, the way Mustafa Tlass (fater of Manaf Tlass) did, being no longer part of the inner circle. And this rankled, and having made sure to transfer many millions to Paris, Abdul Halim Khaddam made his way there, and presented himself as a principled opponent of the regime. He is as much a principled opponent of the Assad regime as is Mustafa Tlass and his son Manaf, and his other son, and his daughter. That is, not principled at all.

There's lots of money changing hands here.

Eventually, that will come out.

There are principled, non-corrupt dissenters from the Assad regime. But Abdul Halim Khaddam, and Mustafa Tlass, and all the little Tlasses, are not among them.

Posted on 07/05/2012 4:14 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 5 July 2012
Eli Cohen, Who Might Have Made An Excellent Syrian Defense Minister

From a wikipedia entry on Amin al-Hafiz:

During his exile in Buenos Aires, Hafez befriended a supposed Lebanese trader named Kamal Amin Thaabet. Thaabet was actually an Egyptian-born Israeli Mossad agent, Eli Cohen. Thaabet/Cohen arrived in Syria in early 1962, a year before Hafez’s return, and soon began passing information about Syrian military plans to Israel.

As president, Hafez groomed Thaabet/Cohen to be a future defence minister and possibly even his successor. He invited him to functions and have him tours of secret fortifications in the Golan Heights. When Cohen was revealed as a spy in January 1965, Hafez personally interrogated him and ordered the arrest of 500 of his highly-placed friends. Despite international pleas for clemency and his own qualms, Hafez had Cohen publicly hanged in Damascus.

Posted on 07/05/2012 4:26 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 5 July 2012
Ivan Rioufol: Tuaregs And Berbers, As Non-Arabs, Have An Identity That Works Against, Not With, Islam

For it is only those with an alternative, non-Arab identity, those who have been on the receiving end of Arab supremacism, whose vehicle is and always has been Islam, who can be counted on to oppose even greater islamisation -- that is, the coming to power in Islam-dominated lands of those who take Islam most to heart.

Ces Touaregs qui combattent l'islamisme

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La place des défenseurs de la démocratie et de la laïcité doit être auprès des Touaregs et des Kabyles qui luttent, les premiers au Mali, les seconds en Algérie, contre la charia et l’intégrisme. Mais qui les entend, les appuie, les aide ? Les Touaregs du Mouvement de libération de l’Azawad (territoire du Nord-Mali) viennent, dans l’indifférence, d’être vaincus par les islamistes d’Ansar el-Dine, appuyés par l’Algérie. Ceux-là ont entrepris de détruire plusieurs mausolées de Tombouctou. L’obscurantisme s’installe dans la cité malienne des "333 saints". Les fondamentalistes menacent d’y effacer, au nom de la pureté de l’islam,  les traces de ce qui fut un centre intellectuel dans l’histoire africaine. Comme le rappelait, mardi, Libération, les démolisseurs s’appuient notamment sur cette sourate : "Ô vous qui croyez ! Le vin, les jeux de hasard, les pierres dressées et les flèches divinatoires sont une abomination et une œuvre du démon. Evitez-les. Peut-être serez-vous plus heureux". Mahomet aurait aussi donné l’exemple en renversant les idoles entourant la Kaaba, la pierre noire de La Mecque. Plus généralement, le recours à la table rase avait été décrit par le prix Nobel de littérature, V.S. Naipaul, pour qui "l’islam tue l’histoire".  Il écrit : "En 637, cinq ans après la mort du Prophète, les Arabes entamèrent l’invasion de la Perse, et tout le passé grandiose du pays, du temps d’avant l’islam, fut déclaré temps de ténèbres".

Ces nazislamistes sont les ennemis déclarés de l’Occident. L’hebdomadaire Der Spiegel a ainsi révélé récemment que des néonazis allemands avaient prêté main forte aux terroristes palestiniens de Septembre noir pour leur attentat anti-israélien aux Jeux olympiques d’été de Munich, en 1972.  Or, face à cette idéologie totalitaire en pleine expansion, au point d’avoir déjà pris pied au cœur de l’Europe et en France singulièrement, le monde libre se comporte avec lâcheté. Y compris face aux Frères musulmans, qui viennent d’emporter l’élection présidentielle en Egypte, et qui sont volontiers présentés comme des interlocuteurs modérés. Dans son dernier bloc-notes du Point, Bernard-Henri Lévy rappelle que cette organisation  est née, à la fin des années 20 "comme une secte totalitaire, d’inspiration nazie et dont le fondateur, Hasan Al-Banna, ne perdait aucune occasion d’inscrire Adolf Hitler (…) dans la lignée des "réformateurs" (…)". Un défenseur de la démocratie ne peut aller vers ces infréquentables qui ne rêvent que de rallumer la guerre des civilisations. Son soutien doit aller, en revanche, aux jeunes démocrates iraniens, égyptiens, tunisiens, etc., qui ont vu leurs révolutions confisquées. Il doit aller, dans l’urgence, auprès des Touaregs du MNLA. Pour eux, un rassemblement de solidarité aura lieu samedi, à 15 h, sur l’esplanade du Trocadéro, à Paris.

Posted on 07/05/2012 4:41 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 5 July 2012
How Do They Do It?
Israeli tap found in Zrarieh points to ongoing intelligence war
By Nicholas Blanford

ZRARIEH, Lebanon: Although Lebanon’s northern border with Syria has grabbed most international and domestic attention lately, the discovery of another Israeli tap on Hezbollah’s private communications network is a reminder that the intelligence war in south Lebanon continues uninterrupted.

Hezbollah has been characteristically reticent in describing how the existence and location of the tap on the fiber-optic cable near Zrarieh was determined, despite welcoming the media to inspect the scene of Israel’s latest violation of Lebanese sovereignty.

But it is likely the tap was discovered using similar means that led to the unearthing of previous Israeli interceptions near Srifa in December last year, and south of Houla in October 2009.

There are different ways of tapping fiber-optic cables, but one of the more common methods is to clamp the cable to create micro-bends that allow data-conveying photons to bleed out. Although the amount of light lost from the cable is minimal, it is sufficient to permit the eavesdropper to interpret the data conveyed by the cable. There are also passive means of tapping fiber-optic cables, which do not require a direct physical tap, making them harder to detect.

Similarly, there are various methods to protect fiber-optic cables from interception or to detect existing taps. Intrusion detection systems use optical power monitors, which measure minute fluctuations in the power level suggesting a possible leakage of data via a tap, and optical time domain reflectometers, which can pinpoint the location of a breach along the cable.

Hezbollah most likely uses such equipment to detect and locate Israeli taps on its communications network. In October 2009, a team of Hezbollah engineers narrowed down a suspected tap to a valley just south of Houla.

The team dug holes every few meters to inspect the cable, all the while tailed overhead by an Israeli reconnaissance drone. Upon discovery of the monitoring device – consisting of an interceptor attached to the fiber-optic cable, a connected radio transmitter buried about 10 meters away and a power pack consisting of 360 batteries – the Hezbollah team backed away and the Israelis attempted to destroy the device using the drone to relay an electronic signal to detonate explosives attached to the three components.

Only the transmitter blew up, however, allowing UNIFIL and the Lebanese Army, which were alerted by the explosion, to inspect the equipment. The Israelis successfully destroyed the remaining components in a second blast a day later.

Perhaps the more puzzling question is less the means by which Hezbollah discovered the tap and more how the Israelis were able to plant the device in the first place.

Judging from photographs and TV footage from the scene of the incident on a hillside near Zrarieh, the equipment was bulky and included several components, among them an 80-meter cable, according to Al-Manar television.

The tapping device outside Houla is thought to have been planted during the July 2006 war when Israeli troops were in control of the area. Similarly, a disguised Israeli surveillance device consisting of a camera and transmitter hidden near Shamaa in the southern border district which was discovered in March last year also could have been planted during the 2006 war.

But in 2006, the Israelis never reached Zrarieh, nor Srifa for that matter, where another tapping device was installed before being discovered seven months ago. Lugging heavy equipment, digging holes deep enough to bury it and establishing the tap itself suggests the work of a team skilled in covert activities and with the required technical expertise.

That makes it unlikely that the tapping device was installed by a local Lebanese collaborator.

In December 2010, the Lebanese Army recovered camouflaged surveillance and monitoring equipment from the Barouk and Sannine mountains. (Hezbollah’s technicians discovered the devices and passed on the information to the Army).

The Barouk and Sannine areas are remote, unpopulated and lie outside Hezbollah’s geographical control, making it easier to install equipment without anyone noticing. But the heart of south Lebanon is entirely different. Was it possible for a team of Israeli agents or special forces soldiers to infiltrate an area where Hezbollah is omnipresent and plant the sophisticated and bulky devices before departing unseen?

Hezbollah may have developed the technical expertise to trace interceptions on its communications network, but the ability of Israeli agents, or whomever, to plant the devices undetected in the first place suggests that the more serious security breach is in Hezbollah’s failure to protect its operational environment.

Meanwhile, the redeployment of at least one battalion of Lebanese troops from the southern border district because of security disturbances elsewhere in the country has led to an increase in “denials of access” to UNIFIL patrols, according to sources in the peacekeeping force.

UNIFIL often mounts joint patrols with Lebanese soldiers, which generally ensures there is no friction with local residents. But deteriorating security in the north and Beirut in recent weeks has led to the redeployment of one Lebanese Army battalion and possibly an additional three company-sized units drawn from each of the three Army brigades deployed in the south, according to security sources.

The reduction in numbers of Lebanese soldiers has led to an increase in UNIFIL-only patrols. Even though each patrol is coordinated in advance with the Lebanese Army, UNIFIL sources say there has been an uptick in incidents where the peacekeepers are denied access to certain areas by what they believe is a combination of civilians and Hezbollah personnel.

A patrol of Irish soldiers was challenged Saturday by a group of residents in Maroun al-Ras near Bint Jbeil when the peacekeepers were spotted taking photographs. Although the photographs were apparently for personal use rather than information-gathering, the soldier chose to hand over the camera to the residents.

UNIFIL played down the incident as an isolated event. But UNIFIL sources say there have been as many as one or two “denials of access” almost every day over the past six weeks spread across the peacekeepers’ area of operations and not targeting any one contingent.

The sources added that there was nothing threatening in the confrontations and assess that it is a “question of local actors reminding us who’s in charge down here.”

Posted on 07/05/2012 7:12 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 5 July 2012
Bamiyan Buddhas, Hindu Temples, The Jewish Quarter Of Jerusalem, Joseph's Tomb, Churches All Over The Middle East And North Africa, And For The Purs And Durs, Now There Is Mali

Destruction of Timbuktu shrines 'a war crime'

Rebels in Mali have smashed seven tombs of ancient Muslim saints in Timbuktu as the ICC warned their campaign of destruction was a war crime.

The hardline al-Qaeda-linked fighters who seized control of Timbuktu along with the rest of northern Mali three months ago, consider the shrines to be idolatrous and have wrecked seven tombs in two days.

Mali's government and the international community have expressed horror and outrage at the destruction of cultural treasures in the fabled city, an ancient desert crossroads and centre of learning known as the "City of 333 Saints".

"My message to those involved in these criminal acts is clear: stop the destruction of the religious buildings now," International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in Dakar.

"This is a war crime which my office has authority to fully investigate."

She said that Mali was signatory to the Rome Statute which established the ICC, which states in Article 8 that deliberate attacks against undefended civilian buildings which are not military objectives are a war crime.

"This includes attacks against historical monuments as well as destruction of buildings dedicated to religion," said Bensouda.

Stood by helplessly
On Saturday the Islamists destroyed the tombs of Sidi Mahmoud, Sidi Moctar and Alpha Moya, and on Sunday attacked four more including Cheikh el-Kebir's mausoleum as residents stood by helplessly.

Crying "Allahu Akbar" (God is Greatest), the men carrying chisels and hoes smashed the tombs.

"There are many of us watching them destroy the mausoleum. It hurts but we can't do anything.

These madmen are armed, we can't do anything but they will be cursed that is for sure," a journalist said on condition of anonymity.

He said the destruction at the Djingareyber cemetery ended in the late afternoon, with four tombs in total destroyed. The Islamists also destroyed earthenware jars and other artefacts around the tombs.

The cemetery is situated in the south of Timbuktu in the suburb of the eponymous Djingareyber mosque built from mud in 1327.

Another resident of Timbuktu, a former tour operator, said the hardline Islamic rebels had also threatened to destroy the ancient mosques.

Continued violence
"This morning [Sunday] they told us that if there are saints inside the mosques, they will also destroy these mosques."

Several saints are buried inside the city's three historic mosques. Timbuktu is also home to 16 cemeteries and mausoleums, according to the Unesco website.

The fighters from Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith) are among the al-Qaeda-linked armed groups which occupied the north of Mali in the chaos that emerged after a March coup in Bamako.

Their presence in Timbuktu and continued violence in the region prompted Unesco on Thursday to list the city as an endangered site.

"It is Islam which is good," Ansar Dine spokesperson Sanda Ould Boumama said when asked about the outpouring of anger and emotion over the destruction of the mausolea.

"God is unique. All of this is haram [forbidden in Islam]. We are all Muslims. Unesco is what?" Boumama said on Saturday.

Protecting heritage
He said the group was acting in the name of God and would "destroy every mausoleum in the city. All of them, without exception".

Mali's Culture and Tourism Minister Fadima Diallo on Sunday urged the UN to take action to preserve her country's heritage.

"Mali exhorts the UN to take concrete steps to stop these crimes against the cultural heritage of my people," she told Unesco's annual meeting in the Russian city of Saint Petersburg.

"I am pleading for the international community's solidarity," she said, ending her emotional address by saying: "God help Mali".

UN chief Ban Ki-moon deplored the destruction of tombs, with his spokesperson Martin Nesirky quoting him as saying: "Such attacks against cultural heritage sites are totally unjustified."

Nesirky added: "The secretary general calls on all parties to exercise their responsibility to preserve the cultural heritage of Mali."

Ban also reiterated his support for ongoing efforts of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), the AU and countries in the region to "help the government and people of Mali resolve the current crisis through dialogue".

Tragic news
The attacks were reminiscent of the Taliban blowing up the giant Buddhas of the Bamiyan valley in Afghanistan – an ancient Buddhist shrine on the Silk Road and a world heritage site – in 2001 after branding them un-Islamic.

Unesco session chairperson Yeleonor Mitrofanova told a meeting in Saint Petersburg that the destruction was tragic news.

"I appeal to all those engaged in the conflict in Timbuktu to exercise their responsibility—for the sake of future generations, spare the legacy of their past," she said.

In a matter of months Mali has gone from one of west Africa's stable democracies to a nation gripped by deadly chaos.

The March 22 coup eased the way for Tuareg separatist rebels – descendants of those who founded Timbuktu in the fifth century – to carry out the armed takeover of an area larger than France they consider their homeland.

The previously unknown Ansar Dine group fighting on their flanks seized the upper hand, openly allied with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and have since pushed the Tuareg from all positions of power.

The international community fears the vast desert area will become a new haven for terrorist activity and the rebels have threatened any country that joins a possible military intervention force in Mali. – AFP

Posted on 07/05/2012 7:17 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 5 July 2012

Terra Incognita: The orientalist shield

>By SETH J. FRANTZMAN, Jerusalem Post
04/07/2012

Originally “orientalism” referred to the numerous applications of art, humanities that imitated, illustrated the “Orient.”

The term “orientalism,” or more specifically the accusation that someone is an “orientalist,” should be deracinated from discourse. Invented to describe a relatively obvious phenomenon, it has become so nonsensical in its application that it should be viewed more as a shield for abusive regimes, reactionary politics and militant religious fanaticism than as something descriptive.

Originally “orientalism” referred to the numerous applications of art and the humanities that sought to imitate, illustrate and learn about the “Orient” or anything that was east and south of Vienna. These orientalists were as diverse as the sketch artist David Roberts, who visited the Holy Land, and Sir Richard Francis Burton, the explorer who translated The Arabian Nights and the Kama Sutra. Their paintings depicted everything from Samarkand to the life of the women in the harem. Some of it was more conjecture than reality: How many bath houses and slave auctions did Jean-Leon Gerome truly visit, and why are the nude women depicted always perfectly plump with ample breasts? The concept of orientalism, at least the word, changed in 1978 when literary theorist and Palestinian-American Columbia University professor Edward Said wrote a book on the subject. He claimed that orientalism was part of a Western construct for viewing the East, a conspiracy that sought to impose imperial and military might via the academic study of the East. Said noted that “as a cultural apparatus, orientalism is all aggression, activity, judgment, will-to-truth, and knowledge.”

Many scholars have taken issue with this blanket view that all scholarship or portrayal of the east must necessarily be racist and imperialist. Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby notes in an introduction to a UC-Berkeley course on orientalist French painting that “Said admitted that he was uninterested in comparing the way the Orient actually was with the way the West historically perceived it, but rather in analyzing the West’s discourse on the East. This robbed his work of some analytical force. For if a comparison between a discourse and the reality of that discourse’s object cannot be made, it is difficult to effectively criticize the perception and the discourse surrounding it.”

Bernard Lewis and other scholars have complained that Said never bothered to explain, for instance, of what possible imperialist use deciphering ancient hieroglyphics could have been for Western racist views of the “other.”

THE USE of “orientalist” as a pejorative term, as an easy accusation that can discredit someone’s work, was on display in a recent Al Jazeera op-ed by Hamid Dabashi.

Dabashi, a professor of Iranian studies and comparative literature at Columbia, claimed that New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof “relies on orientalist clichés when writing about Iran.” The basis for the diatribe against Kristof was the Times columnist’s probably illadvised decision to go to Iran and write several mundane articles about it. In his first article, he detailed how young Iranians were not religious and found solace in drugs and sex. Then Kristof wrote an article about how sanctions were taking a toll but that Iran was also, in his view, a surprisingly wealthy country.

In attacking Kristof, Dabashi used the word “orientalist” 13 times, about once in every paragraph of his article.

“What’s an oriental sojourn without a bit of sexual seasoning?” he asks about Kristof’s interest in the hook-up scene in Tehran. “Does Kristof think he lives in the 19th century, with nary a soul in his hometown who can catch him with both his hands in this bizarre orientalist fantasy jar?” Dabashi even bashes Kristof for ending his article with “Inshallah.” One can sympathize a little; Westerners should never use the word “inshallah” in their fake “I know Arabic” style that permeates the talk of people who have spent a weekend in Cairo or Ramallah.

But why is saying “inshallah,” “shalom” or “adios” after a trip abroad, a sign of orientalism, rather than a sign of interest in another language? Herein lies the reason the word “orientalist” has lost its derogatory meaning, if it ever should have had one.

The logic of those who condemn people like Kristof for “orientalism” is to accuse Westerners of a crime for merely writing anything about a country that is not theirs. An American writing a blog about how he bought an iPad in Tehran or Timbuktu becomes an “orientalist cliché.” What would not constitute an “orientalist cliché”? If the Westerner wrote about the burkas he saw, it would also be orientalist.

Omaima Abou Bakr, a professor at Cairo university, claimed in an interview that any particular interest in how Muslim women are treated in today’s Egypt was a sign of orientalism. She claimed that “Muslim and Arab women are not an exception and their struggle, our struggle, is part of the struggle of women everywhere.”

Is it? The wife of the recently sworn-in president of Egypt has said she rejects the term “first lady,” would prefer to be called the “first servant [of the people]” if she has to have a title, and wants to be known as Umm Ahmed (the mother of Ahmed), rather than by her actual name. Why “umm Ahmed”? Because in conservative Muslim tradition, a woman doesn’t have a full individual name or identity; she is “the daughter of so and so” until she becomes the “wife of so and so” and then “the mother of so and so.”

That’s all very nice, but it means that Muslim and Arab woman do face a unique issue that the Mexican or Taiwanese women do not. That Chinese women used to have their feet bound, or that European women were once burned at the stake as “witches,” were unique cultural phenomena. The orientalist-monger would say that any discussion of these differences “exoticizes” the issue and is part of “knowledge production” that invites imperialism.

We must not allow the abusive term “orientalism” to cloud reality. Assaults on innocent wayfarers like Kristof not only falsely imply that all peoples in the world are exactly the same, and none of their activity is “exotic” to others, but it also admonishes outsiders for even writing or researching something that is not part of the homeland.

This is an attempt to make the world ignorant, so that only the Iranian scholar can tell others about Iran, and only the Chinese communist party official can explain China to outsiders. We are supposed to rely on the Islamists of Mali to explain why they are destroying the “false idols” present in the Sufi tombs of Timbuktu.

“Orientalism” is the shield erected around all the countries of the world to say that only the official court historians may explain the actions of the court, and the outsider must not question it. It is a shield of ignorance and despotism, a shield for the abuse of women, for slavery, racism, genocide and all manner of things. It is a shield against critique, the same critique that was responsible for the advancement of the West and the advancement of the concept of individual and human rights.

THE ORIENTALIST-MONGERS invented this term to make sure that reality and perception could never be joined because perception had to be labeled as guilty for merely perceiving. Kristof was guilty for writing that he saw an iPhone. Roberts, who sketched the ruins of the Middle East, was an imperialist whether or not the sketches he made were accurate. Burton, for the crime of translating a foreign work into his own language, was a racist scoundrel. Said sought to transform the Western academy so that it would take an interest only in the history of its own society, because he knew that if “the East” were held up against the West as an equal, it would fall short in nearly every category, from women’s rights to the study of philosophy. Accusations of “orientalism” would shield everyone from the prying eyes of the West. Hieroglyphics could remain comfortably incomprehensible, and any discussion of the mass murder of the Armenians or the suppression of the Baha’i could be comfortably hidden away in the closet.

That is why, if you dare to wonder why women were gang raped by the “freedom”-loving crowds of Tahrir square, you are an orientalist, and if you are surprised about iPhones in Tehran, you are a racist.
Posted on 07/05/2012 7:25 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 5 July 2012
Hamid Dabashi's Tribute To Edward Said (Re-Posting)

Re-posted from December, 2007:

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Yes, I've put it up before. But it does not lose its nobility of spirit nor its sempiternal truth. It simply must go up again, for every new generation of visitors to this site.

This is the tribute written by Professor Hamid Dabashi just after Edward Said died. I believe that long after all the works and days of Edward Said are forgotten -- and he is vieux jeu already -- this tribute will live on, in many anthologies and in our collective memory. To my mind, it is not only unsurpassed but unsurpassable.

Here it is:

The Moment of Myth
Edward Said (1935-2003)
By HAMID DABASHI

Posted on 07/05/2012 7:29 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 5 July 2012
Muslim Cleric: STDs Make Christians Forget Their Duty

See here

Summing up: Christians live in decadent, sex-mad societies, unlike wonderful Muslims, and engage in practices that lead to STDs. And STDs make Christians forget that they need to capture Bethlehem. From whom? After all, Bethlehem is under the control of the Palestinian Authority. One assumes the Jordanian cleric here is confused, and assumes that the Israelis were not trusting and stupid enough to hand it over, but you and I know differently. What he means, more or less, is this: Christians have been helping real Muslims come to power in Tunisia, in Libya, in Egypt. They are now trying hard to do the same in Syria. So naturally, he thinks the powerful Christians can be persuaded that they need to come in, right into Israel, and help remove those stubborn Israelis. No point in having Muslims do the work, when Christians, as he sees it, are all too willing, everywhere he looks.

Posted on 07/05/2012 7:41 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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