Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq
on: April 11, 2007, 03:51:34 PM
***Juan Cole is President of MESA***http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/004791.php
Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald introduces you to the Middle East Studies Association:
"Mesa" or "MESA" is the acronym of the Middle East Studies Association, the professional group of those who at American universities and colleges are charged with the responsibility of teaching the American young, those trusting, innocent, infinitely malleable young, with learning about the Middle East -- which is to say, about Islam.
As an organization, MESA has over the past two decades slowly but surely been taken over by apologists for Islam. Many of these are Muslims, and many are non-Muslims. The latter includes quite a few people who are married to Muslims, or who, to get along with their colleagues (and remember, the most political place in the entire universe is a university faculty, and that institution which, alas, Randall Jarrell failed to immortalize (if memory serves), the Departmental Meeting. Junior faculty owe everything to, and therefore must curry favor with, senior faculty. If that means signing an anti-divestment petition that has the mighty empire of Israel, fons et origo of everything that has ever gone wrong with the Muslim and Arab states and peoples, then so be it. Funny thing about being a trimmer, however, is that the mere act of signing something you really don't believe helps to convince you that you really do believe it, otherwise you would have to come to terms with your own cravenness, your own pusillanimity. And no one wants to do that.
The method of apologetics is simple: concentrate on Israel, or the more tendentious reification of an alternative state, "Israel/Palestine," keep clear of such topics as land ownership under the Ottoman Empire, the actual demographics of the Ottoman vilayets and sanjak that made up what became Mandatory Palestine, don't even whisper that more than half of the Jews in Israel had never left the Middle East but lived as dhimmis in the Yemen (virtual chattel slaves), in Iraq, in North Africa, in Syria and Egypt -- because officially, all Israeli Jews are "European colonialists"; finally, do not under any conditions mention that a goodly number of the ancient "Palestinian people" (invented post-1967) are the descendants of Arabs and Berbers who were veterans of Abd el-Kader's campaign, Egyptians who came with Mehmet Ali, Muslims from the Balkans and Bulgaria and other Ottoman territories in Europe who were transferred, en masse, by the Turkish government as the high tide of Islam receded -- for that area (a/k/a in the West as "Palestine") was by far the most desolate and under-populated in the Ottoman Empire, always excepting the Empty Quarter of Arabia).
The apologetics consists in hardly ever discussing Jihad, dhimmitude, or indeed even introducing the students to Qur'an, Hadith, and Sira. Sometimes an expurgated version -- the Michael Sells horror -- is assigned to students The Hadith and Sira are never mentioned. Books on the level of Armstrong and Esposito are assigned, and feelgood nonsense like Maria Rosa Menocal's The Ornament of the World.
But not everyone who is a member of MESA is completely awful. There are a few reasonable people, some of the Ottomanists and suchlike. MESA is a little like the Soviet Union of Writers, which had thousands of members and hardly a real writer. When one considers Michael Cook, Patricia Crone, Bernard Lewis, and a few others, on one scale, and the assorted Khalidis and Dabashis and Massads and Bahranis in the other, you can guess which side kicks the beam. No member of MESA has done as much to make available to a wide public important new work on Muhammad, on the origins of the Qur'an, and on the history of early Islam, as that lone wolf, Ibn Warraq. No one has done such work on the institution of the dhimmi as that lone louve, Bat Ye'or. It is an astounding situation, where much of the most important work is not being done in universities, because many university centers have been seized by a kind of Islamintern International. Willy Munzenberg could have learned a lot from Edward Said, who was only begetter, with his Orientalism for a good deal of this "post-colonial hegemonic discourse" stuff that permanently stunts the mental growth.
Recent presidents of MESA have included Lisa Anderson, the well-versed and compleat academic (and beyond, what with the Councils on this and the Committees on that, all very impressive if you are impressed with that sort of thing) operator, Dean of the School of International Blah, and Joel Beinin and Laurie Brand, about whom you may google, and Rashid Khalidi, and -- has Juan Cole served his term, or is that coming up? Well, you get the dreary picture
In any case, even MESA has its constraints. For example a few years ago it had to award, it could not avoid awarding, a prize for the best book of the year to Michael Cook for his 720-page Commanding Right and Prohibiting Wrong in Islam, even though Cook is suspiciously learned and has written a book, perhaps too warily not permitted to be reprinted, with Patricia Crone (who herself is very good, but also, at times, as in her treatment of Christoph Luxenberg, not quite as brave as she should be).
Why do I refer to MESA as "Mesa Nostra"? Because it is a kind of "Our Thing" conspiracy, but not nearly as appealing, as folkloric, as the Mafia, or the 'ndrangheta, or the camorra, for in Italy the malavita has three main components. Everyone knows everyone else; the maneuvering, the politicking, the fear that the hot breath of Campus Watch, and perhaps even Congress, will take away all that government money that the Khalidis and the Dabashis et al. wanted to use to spread their anti-Israel anti-American and "why-do-they-hate-us?" and "it is only a handful-of-extremists" message, and how can that mean old U.S. government not want to fund that, huh?
"Mesa Nostra" is my little invention. It communicates the doubtfulness, and more, of the enterprise. It has nothing to do with real scholarship. Ask yourself this: could Joseph Schacht, the great authority on Mohammedan law, or Arthur Jeffery, an authority on Islam, on Muhammad, even on aspects of the lexicon of the early Qur'an, both of them once stars in Columbia's middle-eastern firmament, have been hired today -- at Columbia, or indeed, anywhere that the plotters of Mesa Nostra rule the roost?
The Arabs have poured money into various Georgetown Centers for this and that (because that's where the power is, that's where the foreign service officers are trained, that's where Peter Bechtold, who gave a cheerleading address to the last meeting of Mesa, heads the "Foreign Policy Institute" and was so instrumental in drawing up that farcical list for General Vines). They have also bought up chairs: the nice "Guardian of the Two Holy Places" professorship of law that Frank Vogel holds, and a King Abdul Aziz Thisorthat, and so on. Oh, they get their money's worth. They do, indeed they do.
So that's why I call it "Mesa Nostra." Everybody should.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Help our troops/our cause:
on: April 10, 2007, 11:19:30 AM
Britain Was Once Great Britain
By Dennis Prager
FrontPageMagazine.com | April 10, 2007
It is painful to see the decline of Great Britain.
Greatness in individuals is rare; in countries it is almost unique. And Great Britain was great.
It used to be said that "The sun never sets on the British empire." That is how vast Britain's influence was. And that influence, on balance, was far more positive than negative. Ask the Indians -- or the Americans, for that matter. The British colonies learned about individual rights, parliamentary government, civil service and courts of justice, to name of few of the benefits that the British brought with them. Were it not for British involvement, India might still have sati (burning wives on the funeral pyre of their husband), would have no unifying language, and probably no parliamentary democracy or other institutions and values that have made that country a democratic giant, now on its way to becoming an economic one as well. But today, the sun not only literally sets on an extinct British empire; it is figuratively setting on Britain itself.
Two recent examples provide evidence:
One is the way Britain handled the recent act of war against it by Iran. Everything about the British reaction revealed a civilization in decline.
Whether the British sailors and marines should have put up more resistance -- i.e., any resistance -- to the unprovoked Iranian military attack is something for military and other experts to decide. Whether the captured sailors and marines offered more information and more cooperation, and more smiles than was necessary to the leader of their kidnappers, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, will also be determined in ongoing investigations. Whether the British government engaged in appeasement of Iran or ineffective diplomacy will also have to be judged.
What does seem clear, however, is that the British government did not confront the Iranians in any way reminiscent of a great country, let alone of Britain's great past. If we judge the British government's reaction alone -- without any reference to the behavior of the British sailors and marines -- Iran was the feared power, not Great Britain, which acted like the supplicant.
But what really makes one weep for Britain's lost greatness is what has happened since the sailors and marines were released.
The UK Minister of Defense, Labor MP Desmond Browne, announced that the released sailors and marines were all free to sell their stories to the media, "as a result of exceptional media interest." If this is not unprecedented, it would certainly be difficult to find anything similar in the annals of military history. Some of the captured sailors and marines have already earned large sums of money. The Guardian newspaper said the one woman who had been captured, Faye Turney, agreed to a deal with The Sun and ITV television for approximately $200,000. (American soldier Jessica Lynch, who was captured when her Army convoy was ambushed in 2003, received a $500,000 advance for her book, "I Am a Soldier, Too." But that was a book published later and she had never charged the news media when interviewed by them.)
And John Tindell, the father of another of the hostages, said the marines were planning to sell on eBay the vases given to them by the Iranians.
As The Australian reported, "Some of the sums being offered to the captives are higher than the money paid to service personnel maimed in Iraq or Afghanistan. The standard tariff for the loss of an arm is 57,500 pounds."
The Labor government's decision was described well by the mother of a British soldier killed in Iraq. As reported by Reuters: "The mother of a 19-year-old British soldier killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq at the weekend said she would be 'very shocked' if any of the detainees were paid for their stories. 'If you are a member of the military, it is your duty to serve your country,' Sally Veck, mother of Eleanor Dlugosz, told the Times. 'You should do your duty and not expect to make money by selling stories.'"
That pretty well sums up the revulsion many feel at the British government's decision.
The other current example of Great Britain's decline is the widely reported (in the UK) decision of schools in various parts of that country to stop teaching about the Holocaust in history classes. The reason?
As reported by the BBC, "Some schools avoid teaching the Holocaust and other controversial history subjects as they do not want to cause offence, research has claimed. Teachers fear meeting anti-Semitic sentiment, particularly from Muslim pupils, the government-funded study by the Historical Association said."
No comment necessary.
But a word of caution: If Great Britain can cease to be great in so short a time span, any country can. All you need is an elite that no longer believes in their country, that manipulates history texts to make students feel good about themselves, that prefers multiculturalism to its own culture, and that has abandoned its religious underpinnings. Sound familiar, America?
Dennis Prager hosts a nationally syndicated radio talk show based in Los Angeles. He is the author of four books, most recently "Happiness is a Serious Problem" (HarperCollins). His website is www.dennisprager.com
. To find out more about Dennis Prager, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants
on: April 10, 2007, 02:02:54 AM
Though i'd agree with the positives you cite, there are profound flaws with the way the current administration has fought this war. Here are a few:
1. In the early days post 9/11 we were scared and we were pissed. No one knew just how dangerous we were but they didn't want to find out. "With us or with the terrorists" was a doctrine with teeth. Pakistan did initially help us because they feared we'd go to war with them as well. Iran couldn't be quieter, Syria was docile and superficially helpful. Less than 6 years and now partisan politics trumps nat'l survival and Iran and Syria feel free to create the "Next Vietnam" the dems are aching for.
2. To quote a friend from DHS "9/12/2001, the borders should have been closed tighter than turtle pussy". When Beslan comes to America's shores (It's when, not if) and any of the terrorists are found to have entered from Canada or Mexico, Bush will bear the blame as his legacy forever.
3. 9/11/2001 was the cue that the nat'l security infastructure wasn't geared to fighting this new war. Sadly the CIA/NSA/NRO/DIA and others is still ready to play spy vs. spy with the Soviets. There should have been a wave of firings/retirements throughout the nat'l security entities. Instead, we have political correctness undercutting any serious attempt at counterterrorist initiatives.
4. There should have been a national mobilization akin to WWII. The US military should be much bigger and better armed and the nation should be at war, not just the Army and Marines.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Help our troops/our cause:
on: April 09, 2007, 11:05:05 PM
The American soldier's code of conduct
By Michelle Malkin · April 05, 2007 01:43 PM
Apropos of the British sailors and marines' release and their humiliation at the hands of Iran, an American officer in Iraq sent me this link to the DoD's code of conduct for US soldiers:
I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.
I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to resist.
If I am captured I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and to aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.
If I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith with my fellow prisoners. I will give no information or take part in any action which might be harmful to my comrades. If I am senior, I will take command. If not, I will obey the lawful orders of those appointed over me and will back them up in every way.
When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service number, and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability. I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause.
I will never forget that I am an American, fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States of America.
My Army friend writes that the release of the British servicemen "was no coincidence, and was Iran's response to the escalation of measures against its nuclear program." He urges that we open our eyes:
The world was distracted by the captured sailors incident, when it should have been focused on Iran's nuclear intransigence. Instead Britain lost face and Iran became the benevolent captor. In my view, the incident on the border on September between US forces and border-violating Iranian forces was an earlier attempt by Iran to achieve a similar IO effect by capturing US forces, staging video in Iranian territory, parading them around on TV, and acting magnanimous in their release.
This would, of course, forced us to deal with them face to face immediately before the GWB spoke to the UN (as well as Ahmadinejad). The problem is, of course, that US forces fight back and we don't allow ourselves to be paraded like fools for the world to see (see below).
Britain's shame is Iran's gain. Iran failed in September, but not this time, yet no news source has come to the conclusion that Iran had perhaps tried this before (even though they've been doing it for 30 years).
Reader A. e-mails about the code of conduct:
"We had to memorize it in basic. When I got to my unit, we had to recite it whenever we saw the Battalion Commander and he asked us to. I can still recite it to this day and I got out in 1992."
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants
on: April 09, 2007, 09:50:14 PM
The quick and dirty assessment is: The republicans are fighting a half-assed war against the global jihad while the dems (with a few exceptions) think the global jihad is just some neocon conspiracy to enrich Halliburton, and if there actually are terrorists, read enough Noam Chomsky books and they'll be mollified.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Asia
on: April 04, 2007, 05:07:37 PM
Islam's War Against Buddhism
FrontPageMagazine.com | April 4, 2007
“Allahu Akbar”! The tinny P.A. system tore asunder the pre-dawn peace and quiet.
I was jolted in my mind, almost like experiencing a car wreck, suddenly and without any warning. This totally incongruous sound intruded upon and encompassed everything, causing even the birds to rustle in the darkness.
It was just after 4 a.m. I was seated underneath the holy Maha Bodhi Tree in Bodh Gaya, in the state of Bihar in India. It was a few days past the full moon of May 2004, a few days past Veesak. This was my second visit to this unparalleled location, the site of the Lord Buddha’s attainment of full Enlightenment over 2,500 years ago. Now, towards the end of my 10 day stay, I had applied for and been granted the great honor of permission to spend the night within the Maha Bodhi compound.
My plan was to spend the entire night practicing seated meditation, walking meditation, and circumambulation of the great Maha Bodhi Stupa. The air was warm and my practice was going very well as I alternated between the three practices, as the hours passed.
The beautiful waning full moon light filtering through the glistening leaves of the Maha Bodhi Tree, the soft fluttering of the leaves, the serene quiet, took me back to that time long ago when the Buddha himself had sat very near this same exact spot.
Or so I thought…….
The mussein’s call to prayer for the faithful of Islam, here in this most sacred location to all of Buddhism, ripped me back to modern reality. I was stunned! How could this be? Here in one of the most significant spots of Buddhism, loud speakers come on at four in the morning every day, to shock and intrude upon meditators and Buddhist practitioners using this spot for that which it has to offer in its most special way?
How could this be allowed? It is…
The Muslim call to prayer seemed to go on and on…..20 minutes to a half-hour later, the scratchy recording thankfully ended and quiet returned.
My concentration was thoroughly blown. Instead of following my breath, I found myself looking at the great distraction and paradox I had just experienced.
I thought about Mecca!
Could any other religion intrude itself there in the holiest of places to Islam, as the tenets of Islam had so intruded itself here in the holiest place of Buddhism?
No way! I could imagine immediate death being visited upon anyone that would even try – that is, if they would be admitted anywhere close to the Muslims’ holy Kabah – let alone be allowed to set up a loud public address system that would broadcast the message of another religion across the courtyards of the Grand Mosque, or any other Moslem religious site. The hypocrisy was astounding.
After awhile, I ceased to be so shocked and began to calm down. I began to see that this was merely a continuation of a long and sad trespass against Buddhism perpetrated by the faith of Islam.
In my previous visits to India, I had visited every site that was specific to the actual life of the Lord Buddha. At every location the pattern was the same: Just the partial foundations remaining of what had once been great Stupas or elaborate religious universities of Buddhist learning and practice. Even the place of the Buddha’s birth had been destroyed and buried, with modern day excavations only now giving some restoration.
I had learned from guides on location, and then from further studies once I returned home, that these locations had all been laid to waste in the early Moslem invasions of India, starting in the 900’s by Turkic hordes issuing forth from what is now Afghanistan, and continuing for over a thousand years until the Mughal era. A prolonged and calculated assault, an assault designed to wipe an entire belief, an entire religion, off the face of the Earth. The long history of Islam, being spread by the sword and by fire, had left its indelible mark on these wonderful peaceful, harmless, legacy sites of Buddhism.
I learned how the monks and nuns and religious students were slaughtered without mercy and piled up and burned, and all terrified survivors were driven like dry leaves before a strong wind, out of the region of India entirely, wherever this Islamic wind blew.
I was told this is how Buddhism actually came to Tibet and Southeast Asia, by Buddhists fleeing for their lives! My faith had been rendered a refugee faith via the tender mercies of Islam.
I learned how Islam was particularly unkind and brutal to Buddhists, because to Moslems the Buddhist represented the most reprehensible type of human personality: the “atheist” holding no monotheistic God image as their object of worship and veneration. We were worse even than the far more numerous Hindus, with their vast pantheon of multiple gods. The Buddhists, to the Muslims, only worshipped the image of a man, and no God higher.
Apparently they did not bother to look into the philosophies of Buddhism any more deeply. That was enough for the sword to come down and the fire to be applied. And so they have over the centuries until today.
I remember, some years back, before the gripping situations that we face today had quite come in to focus for many of us, I followed the story of the great Buddhas of Bamiyan, in sad and war torn Afghanistan. The Russian war was over, and the rein of the Taliban was in full force, but they were not content to merely rule the people with an iron hand by the strictest applications of Sharia law. They had to physically erase the “infidel” past, as well.
I remember shedding tears as I saw the footage of those magnificent Buddhas, the tallest ancient statues in the world, being reduced to rubble by explosive charges and artillery shells. I remembered hearing on the news footage, that same cry of “Allahu Akbar!” – as the dust of Bamiyan settled to reveal the emptiness of the destruction. The same cry that destroyed my meditative absorption under the Bodhi Tree.
Now, I pray we never hear this call in this our home, America. Not until and unless Islam totally and completely reforms itself after over a thousand years of ravaging and sweeping all others before it.
I feel, through my direct experiences of it, that Islam has not changed its ways in the least. In fact it has become more aggressive now than at any time since its period of greatest expansion in the 900s to the 1200s. “Modern” Islam seeks to return humanity to those very same times – a revival of the dark ages of Islamic slaughter, mayhem, and pillage – all in the name of Allah.
We Buddhists must realize that we, and our cherished practices, would be swept away entirely and crushed utterly, should Islam ever gain ascendancy in this world in which we live. Islam is the only belief that propagates itself thus – by the sword.
And it is very patient.
Dhammajarat is the pen name of a Buddhist author.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants
on: April 04, 2007, 03:10:43 PM
Terrorists endorse Pelosi's 'good policy of dialogue'
Militants call House speaker's visit 'brave' and hope for talks with Iran
Posted: April 4, 2007
2:14 p.m. Eastern
By Aaron Klein
© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
JERUSALEM – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit today to Syria – in which she called for dialogue with Damascus – was "brave" and "very appreciated" and could bring about "important changes" to America's foreign policy, including talks with "Middle East resistance groups," according to members of terror organizations here whose top leaders live in Syria.
One terror leader, Khaled Al-Batch, a militant and spokesman for Islamic Jihad, expressed hope Pelosi would continue winning elections, explaining the House speaker's Damascus visit demonstrated she understands the Middle East.
Pelosi's visit was opposed by President Bush, who called Syria a "state sponsor of terror."
"Nancy Pelosi understands the area (Middle East) well, more than Bush and Dr. (Condoleeza) Rice," said Al-Batch, speaking to WND from Gaza. "If the Democrats want to make negotiations with Syria, Hamas, and Hezbollah, this means the Democratic Party understands well what happens in this area and I think Pelosi will succeed. ... I hope she wins the next elections."
Islamic Jihad has carried out scores of shootings and rocket attacks, and, together with the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror group, has taken responsibility for every suicide bombing in Israel the past two years.
Ramadan Shallah, overall chief of Islamic Jihad, lives in Syria, as does Hamas chieftain Khaled Meshaal. Israel has accused the Syrian-based Hamas and Islamic Jihad leadership of ordering militants in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to carry out terror attacks.
Al-Batch expressed hope Pelosi and the Democratic Party will pressure Bush to create dialogue with Syria and Middle East "resistance movements" and prompt an American withdrawal from Iraq.
"Bush and Dr. Rice made so many mistakes in the Middle East. Just look at Palestinian clashes and Iraq. But I think some changes are happening for the Bush administration's foreign policy because of the hand of Nancy Pelosi. I think the Democratic Party can do things the best. ... Pelosi is going down a good road by this policy of dialogue," he said.
Abu Abdullah, a leader of Hamas' military wing in the Gaza Strip, said the willingness by some lawmakers to talk with Syria "is proof of the importance of the resistance against the U.S."
"The Americans know and understand they are losing in Iraq and the Middle East and that their only chance to survive is to reduce hostilities with Arab countries and with Islam. Islam is the new giant of the world."
"Pelosi's visit to Syria was very brave. She is a brave woman," Jihad Jaara, a senior member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror group and the infamous leader of the 2002 siege of Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, told WND. "I think it's very nice and I think it's much better when you sit face to face and talk to (Syrian President Bashar) Assad. It's a very good idea. I think she is brave and hope all the people will support her. All the American people must make peace with Syria and Iran and with Hamas. Why not?" Jaara said.
Pelosi, the most senior U.S. official to visit Syria in two years, sat next to Assad earlier today in front of camera crews before starting their meeting at his hilltop palace overlooking Damascus. The Syrian president then reportedly took Pelosi to lunch at a restaurant in a restored house in Damascus' historic district, according to witnesses.
At a press conference after the meeting, Pelosi said that during her talks with Assad she "determined that the road to Damascus is the road to peace."
"We came in friendship, hope," she said.
The House speaker also said she conveyed an Israeli message to Assad that the Jewish state was ready to resume peace talks.
"(Our) meeting with the president enabled us to communicate a message from Prime Minister (Ehud) Olmert that Israel was ready to engage in peace talks as well," Pelosi told reporters.
Syria has demanded a complete Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights, strategic mountainous territory that looks down on Israeli and Syrian population centers twice used by Syria to mount invasions into Israel.
Syria, which signed a military alliance with Iran, openly hosts Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders. Israel says Syria has been allowing large quantities of weapons to be transported from its borders to the Lebanese-based Hezbollah militia, which last summer engaged in a war with the Jewish state. Syria has been accused of supporting the insurgency against U.S. troops in Iraq; generating unrest in Lebanon; and has been widely blamed for the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Bush criticized visits by Pelosi and other lawmakers saying they sent "mixed messages" to the region and undermined U.S. policy.
"Photo opportunities and/or meetings with President Assad lead the Assad government to believe they're part of the mainstream of the international community," Bush told reporters in Washington. "In fact, they're a state sponsor of terror."
Pelosi is not the only lawmaker to recently visit Syria. A congressional delegation including three Republicans traveled to Damascus Sunday stating they believe there is an opportunity for dialogue with the Syrian leadership.
Last month, Ellen Sauerbrey, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration, held talks in Damascus in a public gesture widely seen as an expression of Washington's willingness to engage Damascus.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran's Hostages
on: April 04, 2007, 09:47:32 AM
A Jihadi Circus in Tehran and the 15 sailors
By Walid Phares
Since day one of the planned operation to snatch British sailors from Iraqi (or international waters), the Pasdaran (Revolutionary Guards) “Kitchen” in Tehran, had already drawn multiple scenarios for the following weeks and potentially months to come. Indeed the regime, reacting to significant rising pressures from sectors of its own population and from the US-UK led coalition, engineered an “escalating” incident.
The main scenario, as projected inside the minds of the Iranian “Jihadi-cooks,” is based on one request from the Khamenei-Ahmadinijad regime: wasting time, as much time as possible. To the Khomeinist Mullahs and their men in power, it is crucial to win the race: On the one hand, a rising pressure coming from the inside of the country and inspired by the political changes in the region. On the other hand a pressure by the Iranian led “axis” in the region, directed at the US and the UK initiatives in Iraq and in the neighborhood. In short, Tehran’s regime wants to crumble its enemies before it is crumbled by its own opposition. From there on, all incidents, scenarios, plans, and sub plans are possible.
“Catching” a British Navy unit off the shores of Iraq -regardless of the GPS positioning of the unit- is the beginning of the play. In ten days, Tehran has already scored one success: The UN is discussing what to do about the 15 British sailors instead of how to shut down the 15 nuclear centers in Iran. The debate has been deflected and is now in the hands of the “Iranian architects.” This is followed by the dramatization of the “incident.” First the regime begins showing the “captives” and swings media-reporting between “where were they patrolling” and “will they be tried.” Another psychological victory is scored: The international press follows the Iranian maestro’s gesticulations. As usual with the Western mainstream media, the story’s details become the devil, and their readers are denied the big picture. Here is how the Mullah “psych-war” develops and could evolve in different directions:
Framing the incident
In the aftermath of media rush to describe the details of the “crime’s location,” it is simply forgotten that Iran’s behavior is what really count. Had the dingy -or a bigger ship- entered Kuwaiti waters by error, the principality navy would have alerted the British unit as to its current location and asked them if they needed help to correct their sailing.
Saudi, Qatari and other Emirates vessels would have offered water to the UK patrol, had they requested. In worse conditions, a regime which is bragging about the “dialogue of civilizations,” that is the Ahmedinijad elite, should have behaved better. Instead of offering water to the sailors patrolling under UN mandate, the Mullah forces charged as if they were in full Jihad mode. Had the Khomeinist Navy been “international” in its behavior, its men should have gotten close to the British sailors, “informed them” that they were in Iranian waters (the legality of the issue to be resolved by Governments not by a military takeover of the rapid boat) and “asked” them to leave the area immediately.
That would have been the case, had an Iranian warship been spotted within Saudi or Omani waters. But the “Pasdaran” elite were on a path of war, from the moment it ordered its vessels to surround the British personnel and abduct them without warning.
Ironically, the spokespersons of the Iranian regime are framing the incident as a British act of war. Psychologically, this is very revealing: it shows that the Jihadi Mullahs have decided to frame the incident as an “act of war” to begin with, and then open the field for negotiations, giving London one only choice: to apologize and hasten the pull out from the area. Isn’t it a Machiavellian chess maneuver: Moving the game from UN sanctions on Iran to UN mediation between Tehran and London to free the sailors.
Against all stipulations of international law, the Khomeinist regime used these “prisoners of war” in propaganda operations: Parading the 14 detainee on national and international TV as if they have “already committed a crime.” Then singling out the female prisoner and abusing her individual human rights: First, British society, law and military doesn’t recognize gender Apartheid. It is a Khomeinist breach of international human rights to separate the British female sailor from her companions for the purpose of propaganda, to force her to wear a black headscarf (a sign of ideological submission) and other outfits not appropriate with her status of free British woman.
It is against her private rights to show her smoking on world TV. And above all it is illegal to show the abducted service persons in any other opportunity than to present the evidence that they are alive and well. Any and all other “cinema” manufactured by the Ahmedinijad regime not only is against international law, but can be addressed in courts, both national and international.
The Jihadi letters
Stage three is the classical fascist “extraction” of confessions. While the Iranian regime has been very astute lately in external propaganda, thanks to the technical advice provided by the hired PR “expertise” in the West, the airing-of-letters drama seems to be a resurgence of the old methods, instead of the sophisticated suggestions the international “advisors” would put forward. Forcing the detained servicewoman to send a letter to her parents asking for the British withdrawal from Iraq is obsolete.
Videotaping the other male sailors “apologizing for the incursion” looks more like the old Nazi and Communist propaganda rather than anything else. However what is interesting is that Tehran is giving its own official TV channel in Arabic al Aalam, the exclusivity of the initial broadcast. This means the regime is eager to play this “Jihadi” propaganda in the Arab world and score mileage with it. More interesting is the fact that al Aalam TV, which is airing material in breach of international law, has offices in London and Washington DC.
The old Students-show
As in the 1980’s US embassy hostage crisis, the lead is given by the regime to “students.” In the West, the image of students is reminiscent of the 1968 college uprising in France and the US, thus touches a domestic cord. If students are upset with the “colonial powers” explained Western academics at the time, then it is the future generations of these countries that we need to take into consideration.
However, liberal democracies elites have hard time understanding that fascist type propaganda uses all what is dear and sensitive to their enemy camp. The “students” of the Iranian revolution in the 1980s ended up becoming members in the oppressive Pasdaran corps, a Khomeinist version of the 1940s SS. Those students who seized the US embassy in Tehran were the same ones who crushed the bones of freedom-seeking students in the 1990s Iran. These are the regime’s “students.” They never graduate, they stay at the service of the Mullahs and they only appear when the military trucks pick them up from the militia’s barracks.
After falling in a two decades long sleep, here are the “students” again rushing to “protest” at the British embassy? The view is tragicomic: Chanting against Zionism, imperialism and infidels, the stone throwers burn large signs with red crosses on them, and a word in Farsi citing England. More surreal are the so-called Police cordons which are there to “enforce security.” The students are Pasdaran in disguise and the security forces are under Pasdaran control: the rest is a Khomeinist street play.
Other “shows” soon?
Will the regime restrict itself to this menu or will it produce others “shows?” According to connoisseurs in Khomeinist political culture, hostage crisis are designed to last long, as long as needed to reach the goals. The 15 sailor’s episode was structured by the Tehran kitchen to obtain a variety of political revenues: propaganda victory, exchange of prisoners against Iranian detainees in UK and US custody, a “solution” to the defectors crisis, waiting out the departure of the Blair Government and dealing with the following cabinet, etc.
The Mullahs strategists have a wide array of needs to satisfy. It will be up to them to decide when the crisis would end. But beware of more “shows” as well: For example the students’ action in front of the embassy may lead to an additional situation; dispersing the 15 British sailors in different locations is also another scenario. Students in another capital, Beirut for example, could also be instructed to “protest.” Actions inside Iraq or even in the West are to be expected, if the Ahmedinijad’s regime decides to do so. It is at their full discretion, or so they think.
Bad cop good cop drama
What is also to expect is the circulation in the media of stories about an “internal struggle” between the good guys and the bad guys in Tehran. Media reports are already talking about two poles inside the military security apparatus, giving some hope to the Western camp calling for calm. In an article titled “Power struggle in Iran over hostages, the Sunday Times of London on April 1, writes that “Major-General Yahya Rahim Safavi is said to have told the country’s Supreme National Security Council on Friday that the situation was “getting out of control” and urged its members to consider the immediate release of the prisoners to defuse tension in the Gulf.”
And the Times adds “However, Safavi’s intervention was reportedly denounced by another senior general at a meeting of high-ranking commanders yesterday. Yadollah Javani, the head of the Revolutionary Guards’ political bureau, was said to have accused him of weakness and “liberal tendencies”: How interesting to see that this “internal information” was obtained only now by Western (and some Arab) media from “well informed sources.”
Until this incident, few in the Western press have uttered the names of these Iranian generals. But now, they have become the good Cop and the bad Cop of Tehran. And on top of it, it works, because the logical western reaction would be then to wait for the “good guy” to prevail. That is precisely what the astute propaganda machine out of Tehran wants: time.
Then comes the “mediations”
As in most similar situations, candidates for “mediation” will emerge fast from the realm of world politics and opportunities. Since the British Government can’t negotiate “properly” would argue the self-suggested mediators, we will.
High profile former hostages such as Terry Waite are expected to offer their services, but as long as “Iran, the hostage taker, is understood and respected.” But beyond the classical candidates for this job, including former President Jimmy Carter and Jesse Jackson, expect the possible other sub-scenarios, all encouraged by Tehran. Banking on domestic political unrest in the UK, the Mullah strategists wouldn’t mind to see British politicians, usually anti War and sympathetic to political Jihadism, begin the shuttle negotiations between Tehran and London. Imagine what can an MP George Galloway type, achieve out of this new Iranian business: media devastation against the British Government, the US, and by ripple effect against the rising democracy movement inside Iran. It would be hours of sheer anti-Western propaganda by English speaking politicians on both international and Arab networks.
But the Tehran propagandists could request a “British Muslim” mediation to deal with the issue, putting even more pressure on the UK. Or possibly ask the League of Muslim states to begin a go-between initiative with a 5 member team. Who knows, the circus could involve Lebanese politicians too. How about Hezbollah entering the fray and offering to “help,” confusing further the situation? Even better, Iran would accept an offer by the Christian Lebanese General, Michel Aoun, now an ally of Hezbollah, to visit the detainee and play the mail man. Everything is possible; everything is open, as long as Tehran obtains the precious commodity: Time.
The Shatt al Arab incident may not be the last one. Now that Ahmedinijad’s “War-kitchen” has discovered the recipe, it may also serve more dishes of the sort, in other spots, by other actors and in different timing. Remember how Hassan Nasrallah of Hizbollah, Iran’s strategic ally in Lebanon, dragged Israel into a month long war as a result of another similar snatch of soldiers in July 2006.
In this open field, results determine future actions. If the Iranian regime would conclude that British, US and international reactions haven’t really generated a strategic response, they will most likely unleash a second strike and a third strike after that. That is the law of conflicts. And the Khomeinists having discovered the weak link will widen their war of images and words, till they crumble the resolve of their foes; unless the latter prove them wrong.
Professor Walid Phares is the author of the recently released book, The War of Ideas: Jihadism against Democracies. He is a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and a visiting scholar at the European Foundation for Democracy. Phares@walidphares.com
April 2, 2007 07:09 AM Print
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Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 300
on: April 03, 2007, 07:58:02 AM
***In case you were wondering, it IS us or them.***http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110009890
SENSE OF UMMAH
The Trouble With Islam
Sadly, mainstream Muslim teaching accepts and promotes violence.
BY TAWFIK HAMID
Tuesday, April 3, 2007 12:01 a.m.
Not many years ago the brilliant Orientalist, Bernard Lewis, published a short history of the Islamic world's decline, entitled "What Went Wrong?" Astonishingly, there was, among many Western "progressives," a vocal dislike for the title. It is a false premise, these critics protested. They ignored Mr. Lewis's implicit statement that things have been, or could be, right.
But indeed, there is much that is clearly wrong with the Islamic world. Women are stoned to death and undergo clitorectomies. Gays hang from the gallows under the approving eyes of the proponents of Shariah, the legal code of Islam. Sunni and Shia massacre each other daily in Iraq. Palestinian mothers teach 3-year-old boys and girls the ideal of martyrdom. One would expect the orthodox Islamic establishment to evade or dismiss these complaints, but less happily, the non-Muslim priests of enlightenment in the West have come, actively and passively, to the Islamists' defense.
These "progressives" frequently cite the need to examine "root causes." In this they are correct: Terrorism is only the manifestation of a disease and not the disease itself. But the root-causes are quite different from what they think. As a former member of Jemaah Islamiya, a group led by al Qaeda's second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, I know firsthand that the inhumane teaching in Islamist ideology can transform a young, benevolent mind into that of a terrorist. Without confronting the ideological roots of radical Islam it will be impossible to combat it. While there are many ideological "rootlets" of Islamism, the main tap root has a name--Salafism, or Salafi Islam, a violent, ultra-conservative version of the religion.
It is vital to grasp that traditional and even mainstream Islamic teaching accepts and promotes violence. Shariah, for example, allows apostates to be killed, permits beating women to discipline them, seeks to subjugate non-Muslims to Islam as dhimmis and justifies declaring war to do so. It exhorts good Muslims to exterminate the Jews before the "end of days." The near deafening silence of the Muslim majority against these barbaric practices is evidence enough that there is something fundamentally wrong.
The grave predicament we face in the Islamic world is the virtual lack of approved, theologically rigorous interpretations of Islam that clearly challenge the abusive aspects of Shariah. Unlike Salafism, more liberal branches of Islam, such as Sufism, typically do not provide the essential theological base to nullify the cruel proclamations of their Salafist counterparts. And so, for more than 20 years I have been developing and working to establish a theologically-rigorous Islam that teaches peace.
Yet it is ironic and discouraging that many non-Muslim, Western intellectuals--who unceasingly claim to support human rights--have become obstacles to reforming Islam. Political correctness among Westerners obstructs unambiguous criticism of Shariah's inhumanity. They find socioeconomic or political excuses for Islamist terrorism such as poverty, colonialism, discrimination or the existence of Israel. What incentive is there for Muslims to demand reform when Western "progressives" pave the way for Islamist barbarity? Indeed, if the problem is not one of religious beliefs, it leaves one to wonder why Christians who live among Muslims under identical circumstances refrain from contributing to wide-scale, systematic campaigns of terror.
Politicians and scholars in the West have taken up the chant that Islamic extremism is caused by the Arab-Israeli conflict. This analysis cannot convince any rational person that the Islamist murder of over 150,000 innocent people in Algeria--which happened in the last few decades--or their slaying of hundreds of Buddhists in Thailand, or the brutal violence between Sunni and Shia in Iraq could have anything to do with the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Western feminists duly fight in their home countries for equal pay and opportunity, but seemingly ignore, under a façade of cultural relativism, that large numbers of women in the Islamic world live under threat of beating, execution and genital mutilation, or cannot vote, drive cars and dress as they please.
The tendency of many Westerners to restrict themselves to self-criticism further obstructs reformation in Islam. Americans demonstrate against the war in Iraq, yet decline to demonstrate against the terrorists who kidnap innocent people and behead them. Similarly, after the Madrid train bombings, millions of Spanish citizens demonstrated against their separatist organization, ETA. But once the demonstrators realized that Muslims were behind the terror attacks they suspended the demonstrations. This example sent a message to radical Islamists to continue their violent methods.
Western appeasement of their Muslim communities has exacerbated the problem. During the four-month period after the publication of the Muhammad cartoons in a Danish magazine, there were comparatively few violent demonstrations by Muslims. Within a few days of the Danish magazine's formal apology, riots erupted throughout the world. The apology had been perceived by Islamists as weakness and concession.
Worst of all, perhaps, is the anti-Americanism among many Westerners. It is a resentment so strong, so deep-seated, so rooted in personal identity, that it has led many, consciously or unconsciously, to morally support America's enemies.
Progressives need to realize that radical Islam is based on an antiliberal system. They need to awaken to the inhumane policies and practices of Islamists around the world. They need to realize that Islamism spells the death of liberal values. And they must not take for granted the respect for human rights and dignity that we experience in America, and indeed, the West, today.
Well-meaning interfaith dialogues with Muslims have largely been fruitless. Participants must demand--but so far haven't--that Muslim organizations and scholars specifically and unambiguously denounce violent Salafi components in their mosques and in the media. Muslims who do not vocally oppose brutal Shariah decrees should not be considered "moderates."
All of this makes the efforts of Muslim reformers more difficult. When Westerners make politically-correct excuses for Islamism, it actually endangers the lives of reformers and in many cases has the effect of suppressing their voices.
Tolerance does not mean toleration of atrocities under the umbrella of relativism. It is time for all of us in the free world to face the reality of Salafi Islam or the reality of radical Islam will continue to face us.
Dr. Hamid, a onetime member of Jemaah Islamiya, an Islamist terrorist group, is a medical doctor and Muslim reformer living in the West.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 300
on: April 03, 2007, 07:41:01 AM
I'd almost swear you were writing a parody there.
So, once you ride your bike to the grocery store, would you expect to find any food there? The average US grocery store is basically totally restocked in one week's time by those big tractor trailers that burn petrochemicals as the transport food from agricultural areas. Agriculture, by the way, is also very dependant on carbon based fuel for all that food you take for granted. So, is food one of those things you'd be prepared to give up?
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe
on: April 02, 2007, 09:13:16 PM
Muslims have been fighting over their theological divisions since the death of Muhammad. That doesn't mean they can't unite against the dhimmi and kufar under the banner of jihad. If I recall correctly Khomeni started out as a Sufi, which tends to be the hippy-dippy, new-agey version of islam. Having said that, there have been sufi jihads in history as well.
More to the point, Sunnis and Shiites HAVE been working together. Hezbollah practically invented Hamas. Hezbollah has been aiding al-Qaeda since the very beginning. Iran has been secretly supplying and pulling the strings for Sunni terrorist groups for nearly 3 decades.
True enough. I'm in a training class right now and this is one of the topics we've covered.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Iran's Hostages
on: April 01, 2007, 02:30:18 PM
Taking of hostages by Iran is not Britain's finest hour
April 1, 2007
BY MARK STEYN Sun-Times Columnist
Twenty-seven years ago, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was a student in Tehran and is said (by a former Iranian president, for one) to be among those in the U.S. embassy who seized and held American citizens hostage for more than a year.
Today, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is president of Iran and bears less ambiguous responsibility for Western hostages. This time round, they're British subjects: 15 sailors and Royal Marines. There are a few differences between this kidnapping and the last: Back in 1979, the Iranians seized their hostages by invading a diplomatic mission -- the sovereign territory of the United States. In 2007, they seized them in international waters. In 1979, two weeks after the embassy crisis began, 13 American hostages who happened to be black were released; the remainder were held for another 14 months. In 2007, the one woman among the hostages is being offered by the regime for early release, invitingly dangled in front of the TV cameras, though with her Royal Navy uniform replaced by Islamic dress; it remains to be seen what will become of the others. On Thursday, a new generation of "student demonstrators" called for the "British aggressors" to be executed.
On this 25th anniversary of the Falklands War, Tony Blair is looking less like Margaret Thatcher and alarmingly like Jimmy Carter, the embodiment of the soi-disant "superpower" as a smiling eunuch.
But this is a season of anniversaries. A few days ago, the European Union was celebrating its 50th birthday with the usual lame-o Euro-boosterism. I said up above that the 15 hostages are "British subjects." But, as a point of law, they are also "citizens of the European Union." Even Oxford and Hoover's Timothy Garton Ash, one of the most indefatigable of those Euro-boosters, seemed to recognize the Iranian action was a challenge to Europe's pretensions. "Fifteen Europeans were kidnapped from Iraqi territorial waters by Iranian Revolutionary Guards," he wrote. "Those 14 European men and one European woman have been held at an undisclosed location for nearly a week, interrogated, denied consular access, but shown on Iranian television, with one of them making a staged 'confession,' clearly under duress. So if Europe is as it claims to be, what's it going to do about it?''
Short answer: Nothing.
Slightly longer answer: The 15 "European" hostages aren't making that much news in "Europe." And, insofar as they have, other "Europeans" -- i.e., Belgians, Germans and whatnot -- don't look on the 15 hostages as "Europeans" but as Brits. Europe has more economic leverage on Iran than America has. The European Union is the Islamic Republic's biggest trading partner, accounting for 40 percent of Iranian exports. They are in a position to inflict serious pain on Tehran. But not for 15 British servicemen. There may be "European citizens," but there is no European polity.
OK, well, how about the United Nations? Those student demonstrators want the execution of "British aggressors." In fact, they're U.N. aggressors. HMS Cornwall is the base for multinational marine security patrols in the Gulf: a mission authorized by the United Nations. So what's the U.N. doing about this affront to its authority and (in the public humiliation of the captives) of the Geneva Conventions?
Short answer: Nothing.
Slightly longer answer: The British ambassador to the U.N. had wanted the Security Council to pass a resolution ''deploring'' Iran's conduct. But the Russians objected to all this hotheaded inflammatory lingo about ''deploring,'' and so the Security Council instead expressed its ''grave concern'' about the situation. That and $4.95 will get you a decaf latte. Ask the folks in Darfur what they've got to show for years of the U.N.'s "grave concerns" -- heavy on the graves, less so on the concern.
Yet, like the Americans, the British persist in trying to resolve real crises through pseudo-institutions. A bunch of unelected multinational technocrats can designate an entire continent as "citizens of Europe" but, as Pat Buchanan wrote the other day, "dry documents, no matter how eloquent, abstract ideas, no matter how beautiful, do not a nation make." Similarly, the West's transnational romantics can fantasize about "one-world government," but, given the constituent parts, it's likely to be a lot more like Syria writ large than Sweden. In fact, it already is.
And, at one level, the obstructionists have a point. Russia's interests in Iran are not the same as the United Kingdom's: Why should it subordinate its national policy for a few British sailors? Conversely, why should we subordinate ours to transnational process? If saving Darfur is the right thing to do, it doesn't become the wrong thing to do because the Chinese guy refuses to raise his hand. And Darfur is an internal region of a sovereign state. If the Security Council cannot even "deplore" an act of piracy on the high seas, then what is it for?
The U.N. will do nothing for men seized on a U.N.-sanctioned mission. The European Union will do nothing for its "European citizens." But if liberal transnationalism is a post-modern joke, it's not the only school of transnationalism out there. Iran's Islamic Revolution has been explicitly extraterritorial since the beginning: It has created and funded murderous proxies in Hezbollah, Hamas and both Shia and Sunni factions of the Iraq "insurgency." It has spent a fortune in the stans of Central Asia radicalizing previously somnolent Muslim populations. When Ayatollah Khomeini announced the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, it was not Iranians but British, Indian, Turkish, European, Asian and American Muslims who called for his death, firebombed bookstores, shot his publisher, fatally stabbed his translator and murdered anybody who got in their way.
So we live today in a world of one-way sovereignty: American, British and Iraqi forces in Iraq respect the Syrian and Iranian borders; the Syrians and Iranians do not respect the Iraqi border. Patrolling the Shatt al-Arab at a time of war, the Royal Navy operates under rules of engagement designed by distant fainthearts with an eye to the polite fictions of "international law": If you're in a ''warship,'' you can't wage war. If you're in a ''destroyer,'' don't destroy anything. If you're in a "frigate," you're frigging done for.
On Sept. 11, a New York skyscraper was brought down by the Egyptian leader of a German cell of an Afghan terror group led by a Saudi. Islamism is only the first of many globalized ideological viruses that will seep undetected across national frontiers in the years ahead. Meanwhile, we put our faith in meetings of foreign ministers.
"It is better to be making the news than taking it," wrote Winston Churchill in 1898. But his successors have gotten used to taking it, and the men who make the news well understand that.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe
on: March 29, 2007, 10:48:48 PM
Zaidan even defended this position at a 2001 conference of Germany's protestant churches in Frankfurt. His argument was that a woman who traveled farther would run the risk of being raped. Apparently one could spout such nonsense to the good church people who had gathered in Frankfurt without running the risk of being run off the premises for committing rape against religious freedom.
A bonus for polygamists
In another letter from Absurdistan, the Federal Ministry for Social Affairs issued the following announcement to German health insurance agencies in the summer of 2004: "Polygamous marriages must be recognized if they are legal under the laws of the native country of the individuals in question."
What the policy statement boiled down to was this: In certain cases Muslim men from countries where polygamy is legal -- like Morocco, Algeria and Saudi Arabia -- could add a second wife to their government health insurance policies without having to pay an additional premium.
Photo Gallery: Does Germany already Have Sharia Law?
Click on a picture to launch the image gallery (8 Photos)
Such excesses are rare today. Judges are increasingly accepting the responsibility that legal expert and Islam scholar Mathias Rohe demands of them: to use the law "to signal to a society what is allowed and what is not."
For example, in 2005 a Düsseldorf judge ordered that a Muslim boy could be required to attend school swimming sessions together with girls. In his grounds, the judge argued that in Germany Muslims are "confronted with more liberal values, which they must be able to handle. The same applies to required swimming instruction."
But this change of heart within the judiciary has not brought about fundamental social change. On the contrary, the genie that the courts once let out of the bottle continues to shape social reality. "More and more girls are not taking part in swimming instruction or are not going on class trips," says Christa Stolle of Terre des Femmes, a women's rights group. "Or they are simply taken out of school." The wearing of headscarves has also increased tremendously, says Stolle, who is convinced that "it's getting more difficult for girls."
Experiences in urban German schools show just how much integration has suffered as a result of the decisions of timorous judges in past years. At the Carlo Mierendorff School in Preungesheim, a Frankfurt neighborhood, about one-third of students in the upper grades are permitted to not attend class trips for religious reasons, says Alexander Zabler, the school's principal. To prevent their daughters from traveling with schoolmates, many Muslim parents have either called the girls in sick or simply ordered them not to show up. Zabler tried many approaches, including talking to the parents, visiting them at home, offering special meals for Muslims during travel -- but all to no avail. Finally he turned to the government and asked the local school board for help -- also to no avail. He has since resigned.
Last month parents, teachers and students at the Carlo Mierendorff School decided to cancel future class trips altogether if more than 10 percent of students could not attend. "On this issue integration has failed here," complains Zabler.
That failure is at least partly attributable to the activities of people like Yavuz and Gürhan Özoguz, two brothers who offer sample letters for parents seeking to exempt their children from swimming instruction on their Web site, Muslim-Market.de. The parents then use the letters to demand special rights for their children from teachers and principals.
"Doing their best to survive"
If the parents' strict faith expresses itself as an extreme form of modesty in girls, then it often leads to rowdiness in Muslim boys. Paul Reiter, 47, an English and French teacher at a school in the western city of Bochum, constantly experiences the results of self-imposed, aggressive exclusion in the classroom. Reiter says he knows many "poor students with gold chains" who routinely use anti-American, anti-Semitic and sexist language, often addressing German women as "whores." Reiter says female teachers "are doing their best to survive" in some classes.
Marie-Luise Bock, the principal of Martin Luther Middle School in Herten, a city in the industrial Ruhr region, says her efforts to integrate Muslim girls are torpedoed from two sides: "arch-conservative" Muslim parents and "macho brothers." About one-third of female Muslim students wear headscarves, "and one in two are unhappy about it," says Bock, who has occasionally reserved spots in a women's shelter for some of her former female students. "It deeply upsets me that we can so little for these girls," she says.
Ursula Spuler-Stegemann, the Islam scholar, also has stories to tell about desperate teachers. "Many have no idea where they are allowed to draw the line when it comes to Muslims," she says. More dangerous, says Spuler-Stegemann, is a "dramatic development that is currently unfolding in the education sector, practically unnoticed by the general public: There are groups that truly want to establish a separate world."
She is referring to organizations like the Association of Islamic Cultural Centers, which operates a number of children's centers throughout Germany. Critics say the children, who often have no exposure to the outside world, are subjected to religious indoctrination -- an allegation the association's leadership denies. Milli Görüs and the Islamic Community of Germany -- two groups that are under observation by Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Germany's domestic intelligence agency -- are also heavily involved in working with youth. Muslim organizations in Germany, Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble warns, must behave in a way "that indicates partnership with us" -- at least if they hope to steer clear of investigators and the courts.
Muslim organizations are also beginning to establish their own schools, arguing that Christian nuns teach at some German schools. The Muslims tout their concepts as being integrative, and education officials believe them and approve the schools. But then, far from being integrated, the schools end up attracting only Muslims.
Domestic intelligence kept a close watch on the King Fahd Academy in Bonn for years. The mosque and associated school were criticized because some of the schoolbooks they used glorified jihad. But even the ordinary Koran schools, which exist at practically every German mosque, often forcefully draw their roughly 70,000 children and adolescents back into the world of their grandfathers.
Of course, in many families there is no escaping the closeness justified by Muslim traditions and rules. Women are brought up to serve and obey. Boys are alternately spoiled and beaten, as custom requires. According to a study conducted by the Lower Saxony Criminology Research Institute, physical abuse of boys is more than twice as common in Turkish families than German families. And "girls from conservative families say that their fathers and brothers have the right to hit them," reports Judith Gerling-Tamer, an educator at the Elisi Evi Support Center for women and girls in Berlin's heavily Muslim Kreuzberg district.
The authorities are generally aware of little of what happens in families. Nevertheless, laws and court decisions do send signals. If the wrong signals are sent, as was the case in many past court rulings, this also affects families. And lawmakers' failure to enact legislation that is urgently needed can also have devastating effects.
Young women routinely come to support centers after being married off against their will, but such arranged marriages are neither illegal nor regulated in Germany.
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According to a 2004 study commissioned by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, 17 percent of Turkish women surveyed considered their marriage forced. The Turkish twins Ayse Auth and Hatice Nizam know what it's like to be forced into an arranged marriage in Germany. They were born in the state of Hesse into a large Turkish guest worker family. Both girls did well in school and trained to become hairdressers. But then, the twins say, their parents insisted that it was time for them to marry. Hatice was married at 18, Ayse at 19. The two sisters spent four years trying to separate themselves from their husbands they neither loved nor wanted. When they finally succeeded, the family treated them as outcasts.
Unlike many other girls with similar stories, the girls have now confidently made a life for themselves in Germany. They own two hairdressing salons and both live with their German partners. Arranged marriages, says Hatice Nizam, are "unfortunately still" part of everyday life for many women of Turkish origin in Germany, "and it's incredibly difficult to extract yourself from them."
Ayten Köse, 42, who manages a shelter in the Neukölln Rollberg district, tries to help. She doesn't resemble most of the Muslim women here. Instead of a headscarf, she wears her hair uncovered. Köse knows how difficult it is for Muslim women in Germany to be courageous and rebel. But she is constantly reminding women that the German state will not let them down. "But what should I tell them now, after this Frankfurt ruling?" Köse asks furiously. "That it can happen sometimes?" Trust in the constitution and the hope that it will be enforced, says Köse, is sometimes the only thing Muslim women can rely on for encouragement.
The problem for many women, says Köse, is that they are completely alone, alone against their own family or their husband's family. "And if they haven't attended school in Germany," Köse explains, "they usually don't even know about human rights."
A political system too paralyzed to act
Chances are slim that they can expect much help from the political end anytime soon. German lawmakers have repeatedly considered raising the age at which guest workers are allowed to come to Germany as a way of protecting young girls against forced marriages. Many immigrants are very young when they are forced into arranged marriages. A law outlawing forced marriages still doesn't exist today, although the German criminal code has been updated somewhat to deal with the problem. Even some of the measures other countries established are nonexistent in Germany. In Britain, for example, women who are worried that they could be forced into hastily arranged marriages while on vacation can leave information with the authorities before leaving the country. If they fail to report back by a prearranged date, officials, including those at the British Foreign Office, begin searching for them.
Germany is still a long way off from such well-meaning approaches and the symbolism they convey. In fact, some of the women who contact the women's rights group Terre des Femmes do so because they feel stabbed in the back by the constitutional state. If they are taken to their native countries against their will for forced marriages, the door often slams shut behind them -- permanently. If the brides are unable to extricate themselves and return to Germany within six months, their residency permits automatically expire in most cases.
Berlin attorney Seyran Ates says: "We are at a crossroads, everywhere in Europe. Do we allow structures that lead straight into a parallel society, or do we demand assimilation into the democratic constitutional state?"
The answer is clear, at least if one studies the literature of conservative Muslims. For example, in his book "Women in Islam," Imam Mohammed Kamal Mustafa of Spain recommends how women should be beaten. If you beat their hands and feet with "whips that are too thick," he warns, you risk leaving scars. Abdelkader Bouziane, an Algerian imam who calls two women his own, recommends handing out beatings in such a way that the consequences are not apparent to infidels.
Although Islamic groups do their best to condemn marital violence, there are clear indications of how ubiquitous beatings are in many Muslim marriages. Experts say that a disproportionately high percentage of women who flee to women's shelters are Muslim. This sort of domestic violence in the family has even ended in death for more than 45 people in Germany in the last decade. According to an analysis by the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation on the "phenomenon of honor killings" in Germany, woman are often slaughtered in the most gruesome of ways for violating archaic concepts of morality. In many cases an entire family council has ruled on the execution of a rebellious female family member.
In 2005, Hatun Sürücü, a young Berlin woman, was killed because she was "living like a German." In her family's opinion, this was a crime only her death could expiate. Her youngest brother executed her by shooting her several times, point blank, at a Berlin bus stop. But because prosecutors were unable to prove that the family council had planned the act, only the killer himself could be tried for murder and, because he was underage, he was given a reduced sentence. The rest of the family left the courtroom in high spirits, and the father rewarded the convicted boy with a watch.
It is by no means unusual for people put on trial for honor killings in Germany to be convicted on the lesser charge of manslaughter in the end. In 2003 the Frankfurt District Court handed down a mild sentence against a Turkish-born man who had stabbed his German-born wife to death. She had disobeyed him and was even insolent enough to demand a divorce.
Muslim moral precepts as mitigating factors
The court argued that one could not automatically assume that the man's motives were contemptible. He had, after all, acted "out of an excessive rage and sense of outrage against his wife" -- who he had regularly beaten in the past -- "based on his foreign socio-cultural moral concepts." According to the court's decision, the divorce would have violated "his family and male honor derived from his Anatolian moral concepts." The Federal Constitutional Court reversed the decision in 2004.
Even though higher courts usually reverse these sorts of rulings, judges are still handing down sentences based on the same logic. For example, the municipal court in the western city of Leverkusen sentenced a Lebanese man to probation in 2005 after he had severely beaten his daughter several times for resisting his efforts to force her into an arranged marriage. He hit her on the head with a stick. When it broke he choked her and threatened to stab her to death. The court argued that the fact that his actions were based on his Muslim moral concepts served as a mitigating factor.
The district court in Essen was equally lenient when, in 2002, it sentenced a Lebanese man who had applied for asylum -- and who routinely beat his children and wife with a belt and also raped his spouse -- to nothing more than probation. The judge cited the man's cultural background as a mitigating circumstance. In commenting on his crimes, the man said: "I am a Muslim, a normal person. I pray, fast and fulfill do my duties."
Both criminal courts and family courts have often gone soft on violent parents whose concepts of honor were more important to them than the well-being of their child. In 2000 the Cologne Higher Regional Court ruled that a couple from Kosovo who had planned to force their 17-year-old daughter into an arranged marriage at home should be denied custody of the girl. This was a reversal of a lower court's decision to send the girl, who had sought protection from the youth welfare office, back to her parents. It was only the higher court that clarified something that should have been obvious: that it is completely irrelevant as to whether "the parents, based on their origin, have different ideas about family obligation and the duty to obey." Family attorneys say that social workers have even been known to turn away girls who have turned to youth welfare officials for fear of being forced into a marriage. The social workers' response to the girls is that that sort of thing is, well, "normal with you people."
Jutta Wagner, a family attorney and president of the German Association of Female Lawyers, says that she is constantly hearing about "attorneys with a migration background" who have studied law in Germany but conclude marriage contracts "in which they attempt to adapt a sort of 'Sharia light.'" According to Wagner the purpose of the contracts, which are barely acceptable for German courts, is to make Islamic law acceptable in small steps.
Christa Datz-Winter, the Frankfurt family court judge, argued as if she had already accepted the basic tenets of Sharia law. In the Koran, she wrote, "the honor of the man, simply put, is tied to the chastity of the woman." Therefore, she continued, "for a man with an Islamic upbringing the fact that a woman is living according to Western cultural rules is already considered a violation of his honor."
Matthias Bartsch, Andrea Brandt, Simone Kaiser, Gunther Latsch, Cordula Meyer and Caroline Schmidt
Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe
on: March 29, 2007, 10:48:09 PM
SPIEGEL ONLINE - March 29, 2007, 05:27 PM
GERMAN JUSTICE FAILURES
Paving the Way for a Muslim Parallel Society
A recent ruling in Germany by a judge who cited the Koran underscores the dilemma the country faces in reconciling Western values with a growing immigrant population. A disturbing number of rulings are helping to create a parallel Muslim world in Germany that is welcoming to Islamic fundamentalists.
She didn't know it, nor did she even expect it. She had good intentions. Perhaps it was a mistake. In fact, it was most certainly a mistake. The best thing to do would be to wipe the slate clean.
Last week, in the middle of the storm, Christa Datz-Winter, a judge on Frankfurt's family court, was speechless. But Bernhard Olp, a spokesman for the city's municipal court, was quick to jump in. Olp reported that the judge had been under emotional stress stemming from a murder that had been committed in her office 10 years ago, and that she was now planning to take a break to recuperate. He also mentioned that she was "outraged" -- not about herself or her scandalous ruling, but over the reactions the case has triggered.
Photo Gallery: Does Germany already Have Sharia Law?
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The reactions were so fierce that one could have been forgiven for mistakenly thinking that Germany's Muslims had won the headscarf dispute and the controversy over the Mohammed cartoons on a single day and, in one fell swoop, had taken a substantial bite out of the legal foundations of Western civilization.
The ensuing media furor came from both sides of the political spectrum. The left-leaning daily Die Tageszeitung ran a story on the case titled: "In the name of the people: beating allowed," while the right-wing tabloid Bild called it "An outrageous case!" The same unanimity across party lines prevailed in the political realm. "Unbearable," was conservative Bavarian Interior Minister Günther Beckstein's ruling, while Lale Akgün, a member of parliament of Turkish origin and the Social Democratic Party's representative on Islamic issues, commented that the Frankfurt judge's ruling was "worse than some backyard decision by an Islamist imam." Even the deputy head of the Green Party's parliamentary group, Hans-Christian Ströbele, noted that a German judge is obligated to uphold German law.
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The original purpose of the case was not to carry the clash of cultures into the courtroom. Instead, the case brought before Frankfurt's family court was that of a 26-year-old German woman of Moroccan origin who was terrified of her violent Moroccan husband, a man who had continued to threaten her despite having been ordered to stay away by the authorities. He had beaten her, and he had allegedly said that he would kill her if necessary.
But German law requires a one-year separation before a divorce can be completed -- and exceptions for an expedited process are only granted in extreme situations. When the woman's attorney, Barbara Becker-Rojczyk, filed a petition for an expedited divorce, Judge Christa Datz-Winter suddenly became inflexible. According to the judge, there was no evidence of "an unreasonable hardship" that would make it necessary to dissolve the marriage immediately. Instead, the judge argued, the woman should have "expected" that her husband, who had grown up in a country influenced by Islamic tradition, would exercise the "right to use corporal punishment" his religion grants him.
The judge even went so far as to quote the Koran in the grounds for her decision. In Sura 4, verse 34, she wrote, the Koran contains "both the husband's right to use corporal punishment against a disobedient wife and the establishment of the husband's superiority over the wife."
A disturbing pattern of rulings
Put plainly, the judge argued that a woman who marries a Muslim should know what she's getting herself into. In Germany, no less. Leading German feminist Alice Schwarzer argued that this was tantamount to a "softening of our legal system" that is "by no means a coincidence." Germany's only minister of integration at the state level, Armin Laschet, a member of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) from the state of North Rhine Westphalia, sees the Frankfurt ruling as the "last link, for the time being, in a chain of horrific rulings handed down by German courts" -- rulings in which, for example, so-called honor killings have been treated as manslaughter and not murder.
This, says Berlin family attorney and prominent women's rights activist Seyran Ates, is part of the reason one should "be almost thankful that (judge Datz-Winter) made such a clear reference to the Koran. All she did was bring to the surface an undercurrent that already exists in our courts." Out of a sense of misguided tolerance, says Ates, judges treat the values of Muslim subcultures as a mitigating circumstance and, in doing so, are helping pave the way for a gradual encroachment of fundamentalist Islam in Germany's parallel Muslim world. It's an issue Ates often runs up against in her cases. "In Frankfurt," she says, "someone expressly openly for the first time what many are already thinking."
Ursula Spuler-Stegemann, an Islam expert from the central German university town of Marburg, has a similar take on the matter. "Do we already have Sharia here?" she asks, adding that the Frankfurt case shows that "things are getting out of hand here."
Does the unspeakable decision by a single Frankfurt family court judge truly mark a new stage in the German judiciary's unspoken policy of appeasement toward aggressive Muslims? Or is the collective outcry so loud and nonpartisan this time because the case is so clear? Is it because everyone believed that the debate, raging for years and still unresolved, over the issue of how much immigration the Germans should tolerate and how much assimilation they can expect was finally coming to an end? And because this particular case was about violence, the lowest common denominator on which everyone from left-leaning feminists to neoconservatives could agree?
And now that the danger has been recognized, is it being addressed quickly? Not exactly.
An abuse of the liberal state
Frankfurt family court judge Datz-Winter was removed from the case and the courts proved themselves capable of acting responsibly. In many other cases in Germany, however, the liberal nature of the constitutional state has been misused -- and a misguided approach to tolerance has been turned into self-sacrifice. But isn't it the court's job to protect the liberalism that has taken Germans so long and so much effort to achieve -- and with zero tolerance for intolerance, if need be?
The questions this raises in the context of social reality are agonizingly difficult, even insulting to many, and they lead us into a web of taboos that has developed over time. Those who move within this web often cannot help but rub someone the wrong way.
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The debate that Judge Christa Datz-Winter has now revived once again seems to afflict Germans like bouts of fever. It revolves around the question of how much assimilation the constitutional state can or must demand from immigrants. Will the Germans accept the sometimes outmoded customs of other cultural groups? In other words, will they permit groups to not only live in a society that parallels German society, but also to live their lives in an entirely different age and at a completely different pace? Is Germany not obligated to integrate those who are foreign to its society and bring them into the present?
Just as battles are often waged around flags, social conflicts tend to erupt around symbols -- the headscarves worn by female teachers, the minarets that are changing the appearance of some towns, the severed head of the Prophet Mohammed in the Berlin production of the opera "Idomeneo," and the harmless Danish cartoons depicting Mohammed, triggering an outcry that led to the torching of Western flags and embassies worldwide in 2005. But social conflicts also arise over seemingly minor issues. For example, if churches can ring their bells, why shouldn't the muezzin be allowed to call the Muslim faithful to prayer -- at 5:45 in the morning?
Because Germany became a country open to immigration some time ago, it now urgently needs guidelines on how rigidly it should enforce its standards and how it should treat its new arrivals -- as well as how the country expects them to behave.
As this debate becomes more and more urgent, Germans really ought to be thankful to the Frankfurt judge for naively stepping into the web of taboos. The problem Germany faces with its deeply religious Muslim immigrants is not unlike the challenge modern Israeli society faces in dealing with orthodox Jews. Fundamentalists -- including Muslims in Germany --- tend to produce large families, so that the men and women of the past could very well lay claim to a substantial share of the future. According to a study by the University of Tübingen, the number of fundamentalist Muslims in the country will have more than doubled by 2030.
For far too long, Germany's muslim immigrants were not asked to put much effort into integrating. For decades, German judges essentially paved the way for Islamic fundamentalists to form a parallel society. They raised little opposition to the strategy employed by Islamic groups to demand their supposed religious freedom in court until they got it. But the judges must have known, argues Johannes Kandel, that "giving preferential treatment to groups violates the principle of equal treatment in a secular legal system." Kandel heads the intercultural dialogue group at the political academy of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, which is closely alligned with the center-left Social Democrats.
Citing the freedom of religious expression guaranteed under the German constitution, judges in Germany permitted Muslims to withdraw their children from swimming lessons or to forbid them from taking part in school celebrations or school trips. This allowed outdated concepts of chastity from places like Turkey's highly traditional eastern Anatolia region to survive in an otherwise enlightened Europe. But religious freedom, says Udo Di Fabio, a judge on Germany's Federal Constitutional Court, the country's highest judicial institution, is no "basic right deluxe," but rather one of many constitutional rights -- and one that constantly has to be weighed against other rights.
"We were far too negligent for much too long," says Andreas Jacobs, the coordinator for Middle East policy and Islamic countries at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, which is aligned with the conservative Christian Democrats. Wolfgang Bosbach, the deputy chairman of the CDU's parliamentary group says he sees the ruling as an indication "that we are gradually putting our own concepts of the law and values up for grabs." But Jacobs believes it is instead a kind of aftershock of the naïve multicultural illusions of recent decades.
A much-delayed wake-up call
"Finally the reactions to this nonsense are showing that sensitivity has become much greater than it was in the past," he says. The murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, he believes, served as a much-delayed wakeup call for most German judges and politicians.
In the autumn of 2004 Mohamed Bouyeri, the son of Moroccan immigrants who was born in Amsterdam and attended school there, slit van Gogh's throat as if he were slaughtering an animal on an Amsterdam street. He felt that van Gogh's film "Submission," about the oppression of women in Islam, was offensive to him and his religion. Van Gogh had shot the film together with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born Dutch who is one of the most prominent critics of Islam. The murder set the Netherlands into a deep state of shock. Suddenly the country was faced with the wreckage of its much-touted tolerance. Before long mosques and Koran schools were going up in flames, followed by retaliatory acts against churches.
Photo Gallery: Does Germany already Have Sharia Law?
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The clash of cultures in the neighboring Netherlands also drew Germany's attention to conditions that many had preferred to play down as "cultural diversity." Suddenly Germans were waking up to the creeping Islamicization on the fringes of their society, and to the existence of parallel worlds in German cities. Ironically, until only a few years ago all of this was happening with the enthusiastic support of the constitutional state and its servants.
German judges were accommodating to Muslims in many minor rulings, and often with good reason. In 2002, the state labor court in the northern city of Hamm ruled that prayer breaks are permissible during working hours, but must be coordinated with the employer. The case had come to the fore after a company reprimanded a Muslim worker who wanted to pray several times a day. The worker demanded his rights, citing religious freedom.
In a number of cases dealing with halal butchering, German courts were forced to grant exceptions to Muslim butchers similar to those applied to butchers who adhere to Jewish kosher butchering rituals. In 2002, the Federal Constitutional Court issued a landmark decision allowing butchering according to Muslim ritual, after Rüstem Altinküpe, a butcher in the eastern city of Wetzlar, had filed a lawsuit.
Muslims can also often count on the support of German courts when it comes to building mosques. As far back as 1992, the Federal Administrative Court ruled that neighbors must "fundamentally accept" being woken before sunup.
The muezzin, who calls the faithful to prayer from the minaret in traditional mosques, can also usually look to German judges to support his cause. Attempts by cities to appeal decisions favoring mosques have rarely succeeded.
In Dillenburg, a town in the state of Hesse, a rural district office attempted to use the highway code to silence the local muezzin, arguing that his devout calls to prayer could irritate drivers. The Giessen Administration Court overturned the decision.
In theory, the Muslim call to prayer could be enforced in court in all German communities, the logic being that where Christians can sing their hymns the Muslims must be allowed to call the faithful to prayer.
As the courts saw it, the principle of equal treatment also applied to those with little interest in equality. But most mosques voluntarily waive this right to equal treatment.
Muslims can also often depend on courts that deal with the laws governing the press. The outcome of a legal dispute last May between the former imam of Berlin's Mevlana mosque, Yakub Tasci, and the ZDF public television network before the district court in Potsdam outside Berlin was especially absurd. Judge Klaus Feldmann barred the network from referring to the imam as a "hate preacher" on its Web site. And yet Tasci, according to an investigative piece in the magazine Frontal21, had characterized Germans during his sermons as the equivalent of stinking infidels. According to the court, Tasci had not been referring to Germans in particular but atheists in general, and had only preached about Germans' alleged lack of hygiene and apparent body odor outside of the mosque.
Issues of fundamental importance
While these cases may seem trivial, the matter becomes more sensitive when cases revolve around issues of fundamental importance. In some cases German courts choose to do little more than dabble, as in the headscarf dispute. In 2003, Fereshda Ludin, a teacher in the southern state of Baden-Württemberg, sued for the right to wear the headscarf in the classroom. Her case was referred to the Federal Constitutional Court, which ruled that schools are the business of the states. In other words, it would be up to the states to enact the appropriate legislation if they wanted to ban teachers from wearing the headscarf. This hasn't happened yet in many German states, and the debate continues.
In some cases German courts are even more accommodating to Muslims than those in secular Turkey. In 1984, the Wiesbaden Administrative Court upheld a Muslim woman's demand that she be allowed to wear her headscarf on photos for official identification documents. In the grounds for its decision, the court wrote: "The Islamic faith requires the plaintiff to cover her head in public." Even though the ruling is not legally binding, Muslims have used it to support their arguments.
Experts view a 1993 decision by the Federal Administrative Court as one of the most blatant mistakes on the road to establishing a legal framework to protect Islamic parallel words. The judges decided to allow a 13-year-old Turkish girl to be excused from physical education and swimming instruction if it could not be offered in a way that kept boys and girls strictly separated. The girl's family had argued that the headscarf could very well slip off during these activities.
The court was not even swayed by the school district's objection -- which now seems downright prophetic -- that granting special rights would make it increasingly difficult for schools to offer class trips, sex education classes and outings to the theater. The judges ruled that it was "unreasonable" to require pupils to take part in physical education classes. They decided in favor of the parents' religious freedom and against the development opportunities and rights of personal liberty of the child -- and of many other children.
In a similar case, a judge argued that whether the Koran does in fact require certain behaviors is immaterial, and that a perceived precept is already sufficient. In fact, the judge continued, it could not be argued that these religious rules "are, according to Western standards, one-sided and do not favor adolescent women."
This was an attitude that still prevailed in the minds of German judges one year after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
At the time, the higher administrative court in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia ruled that a female Muslim student in the 10th grade should be permitted not to take part in a school trip. The family had argued that Islam prohibits allowing girls to go on such trips without being accompanied by a male family member. The family also insisted that the girl was constantly worried about losing her headscarf. The judges found that such fears were "comparable with the situation of a partially mentally impaired person who, because of her disability, can only travel with a companion." This assessment was devastating because it accepted the rules of a camel drivers' society in the modern age -- literally, because a few years earlier, an Islamic legal opinion dubbed the "camel fatwa" had been added to the professional literature.
Amir Zaidan, the then chairman of the Islamic Religious Community in the state of Hesse, wrote the opinion. He argued that a Muslim woman could travel no more than 81 kilometers (50 miles) from the home of her husband or parents without being accompanied by a male blood relative. The opinion came to be known as the "camel fatwa," because this was the distance a camel caravan could travel within 24 hours in the days of the Prophet Mohammed.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere
on: March 28, 2007, 09:55:04 PM
One Muslim advocacy group's not-so-secret terrorist ties.
by Steven Emerson
Only at TNR Online | Post date 03.28.07
This year has been a rocky one for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the self-professed "prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy" group. First, Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer rescinded an award her office had issued a CAIR official, stating that she was uncomfortable with many of the organization's positions. Then, two weeks ago, the GOP House Conference objected to the use of a Capitol facility--provided by Democratic Representative Bill Pascrell to host a CAIR forum, labeling the group "terror apologists" (based on CAIR's long track record of extremism and anti-Semitism).
Yet, just as people began to realize this and to ostracize CAIR accordingly, The New York Times arrived with a life raft. Earlier this month, Neil MacFarquhar wrote an incredibly generous profile called "Scrutiny Increases for a Group Advocating for Muslims in U.S." MacFarquhar's piece is so fraught with errors--of commission and omission--that it is a coup of CAIR propaganda.
MacFarquhar gets off on the right foot, noting, "Several federal officials said CAIR's Washington office frequently issued controversial statements that made it hard for senior government figures to be associated with the group." But he cites none of these "controversial statements." Nor does he mention the CAIR-sponsored fund-raisers and conferences featuring former neo-Nazi leader William Baker and jihadist cleric Wagdy Ghoneim. (At a 1998 CAIR event, Ghoneim sang, "No to the Jews, descendants of the apes." And, after he was deported in 2004 for overstaying his visa, Hussam Ayloush, CAIR's Southern California director, called Ghoneim's removal from the U.S. "a dent in our civil rights struggle.")
Readers of the Times wouldn't know, for example, that Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin alleged CAIR's links to terrorists; nor that Steven Pomerantz, former counterterrorism chief of the FBI, has written, "Any objective assessment of the material ... leads to the conclusion that CAIR, its leaders, and its activities effectively give aid to international terrorist groups."
In airing critics' complaints about the group, MacFarquhar cites its refusal to "endorse the American government's blanket condemnations of Hezbollah and Hamas." Actually, that's only half the story. At a 2001 rally in front of the State Department, CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad actually defended Hamas's murderous tactics: "The Palestinians are using legitimate means of resistance. We should not be shy about it, and we should not be apologetic about it."
The devil, however, is in the details, and MacFarquhar doesn't even bother with them. CAIR has received significant funding from the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, an outfit notorious for publishing anti-Semitic, jihadist literature. (Sample passage: "Teach our children to love taking revenge on the Jews and the oppressors, and teach them that our youngsters will liberate Palestine and [Jerusalem] when they go back to Islam and make jihad for the sake of Allah.") CAIR officials also make frequent pilgrimages to the Persian Gulf to solicit funds (for a $50 million p.r. campaign and a new $24 million office building).
The Times even parrots a typical CAIR refrain--that "some pro-Israeli lobbyists" are responsible for the group's woes--and stands it up in the mouth of some unnamed government official. If MacFarquhar had dug deeper, he would have found conspiracy-mongering. A March 1998 article in the Georgetown Voice (titled "Muslim group sponsors controversial speaker; Jews Control U.S. Policy, Awad Says") reported that Awad called U.S. policy "driven in part by the Jewish origin of many Clinton administration officials." Awad continued, "Who of Clinton's advisors ... is opposing the latest agreement with Iraq? Look at their names. Look at ... their ethnic or religious or racial background. You will see that these are the same groups that belong to the same interest groups in the administration. These are the same people who are pushing the United States to go to war on behalf of a third party." And, at a Washington, D.C. rally in 2000, Awad unequivocally announced his vision for the Middle East, "They [the Jews] have been saying 'next year to Jerusalem.' We say 'next year to all Palestine.'"
While the Times did not see fit to provide its readers with any of CAIR's "controversial" statements (Awad in 1994: "I am in support of the Hamas movement"), the paper did disingenuously quote one of CAIR's most dangerous supporters. Former FBI agent Michael Rolince--who spent much of his time at the agency championing "partnership" between Islamist groups and law enforcement (and has, since his retirement, frequented the Islamist speaking and fund-raising circuit) told MacFarquhar, "Of all the groups, there is probably more suspicion about CAIR, but when you ask people for cold hard facts, you get blank stares."
Not only is this a total falsehood, but it's also a conflict of interest. Rolince was involved in a highly controversial program, eventually de-funded and cancelled by the FBI, that would have funneled millions of dollars to a constellation of radical Muslim groups, including CAIR (to, in the words of the Times, "institutionalize bridge building"). I have met with Rolince several times, and he simply refused to read the materials on CAIR that I, and others, provided. Moreover, Mike Rolf, a retired FBI agent, disagrees with Rolince's casual acceptance of CAIR. Rolf states, "It is clear that CAIR has had a number of people in positions of power within the organization that have been directly connected to terrorism and have either been prosecuted or thrown out of the country" and has said that, despite Rolince's contention, "there are no blank stares from people working in counterterrorism in the U.S., and it is troubling that CAIR seems unable to directly and specifically condemn terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah."
In truth, as Rolince would know if he'd read what I gave him, CAIR's ties to terrorists are numerous and well-documented. For one, the group was incorporated by members of the Islamic Association for Palestine, a now defunct organization shuttered by a successful lawsuit against U.S.-based Hamas front organizations (the suit was brought by the family of an American victim of a Hamas attack).
For another, CAIR received $5,000 in 1994 from the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), which goes on trial later this year for funneling millions of dollars to Hamas (the Treasury Department has designated it a Hamas front group). In the days after September 11, CAIR used its website to raise money for HLF, sending people who clicked on a link--called "Donate to the NY/DC Emergency Relief Fund"--to the HLF website. Perhaps Rolince and The New York Times, when presented with such facts, would only respond with blank stares.
At one point, MacFarquhar even strays into direct Hamas propaganda, asserting that Mousa Abu Marzook is "a Hamas leader deported in 1997 after the United States failed to produce any evidence directly linking him to any attacks." Actually, in his extradition order, Judge Kevin Duffy saw reason to believe that "Abu Marzook engaged in and intended to further the aims of [a terrorist] conspiracy by his membership in and support of the Hamas organization." Duffy also concluded "that probable cause exists that Abu Marzook knew of Hamas's plan to carry out violent, murderous attacks, that he selected the leadership and supplied the money to enable the attacks to take place, and that such attacks were, therefore, a foreseeable consequence of the conspiracy."
CAIR's very public defense of Marzook--which the Times neglects to mention--is illuminating. In June 1996, CAIR signed an open letter to then-Secretary of State Warren Christopher calling for Marzook's immediate release, railing against "the injustice that has prevailed," and alleging that "our judicial system has been kidnapped by Israeli interests." Then, its 1996 report "The Status of Muslim Civil Rights in the United States" included Marzook's arrest in its list of incidents of anti-Muslim bias and violence.
The Rolinces and MacFarquhars of the world might not lose any sleep for propping up a group that publicly supports Hamas kingpins and other anti-American terrorists, but thankfully, most people do. The Times got one thing right: Scrutiny of CAIR is on the rise, and that is something everyone should welcome.
Steven Emerson is executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism and the author, most recently, of American Jihad: The Terrorists Living Among Us (Free Press).
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security
on: March 28, 2007, 08:57:26 PM
Dear Muslim Terrorist Plotter/Planner/Funder/Enabler/Apologist,
You do not know me. But I am on the lookout for you. You are my enemy. And I am yours.
I am John Doe.
I am traveling on your plane. I am riding on your train. I am at your bus stop. I am on your street. I am in your subway car. I am on your lift.
I am your neighbor. I am your customer. I am your classmate. I am your boss.
I am John Doe.
I will never forget the example of the passengers of American Airlines Flight 93 who refused to sit back on 9/11 and let themselves be murdered in the name of Islam without a fight.
I will never forget the passengers and crew members who tackled al Qaeda shoe-bomber Richard Reid on American Airlines Flight 63 before he had a chance to blow up the plane over the Atlantic Ocean.
I will never forget the alertness of actor James Woods, who notified a stewardess that several Arab men sitting in his first-class cabin on an August 2001 flight were behaving strangely. The men turned out to be 9/11 hijackers on a test run.
I will act when homeland security officials ask me to “report suspicious activity.”
I will embrace my local police department’s admonition: “If you see something, say something.”
I am John Doe.
I will protest your Jew-hating, America-bashing “scholars.”
I will petition against your hate-mongering mosque leaders.
I will raise my voice against your subjugation of women and religious minorities.
I will challenge your attempts to indoctrinate my children in our schools.
I will combat your violent propaganda on the Internet.
I am John Doe.
I will support law enforcement initiatives to spy on your operatives, cut off your funding, and disrupt your murderous conspiracies.
I will oppose all attempts to undermine our borders and immigration laws.
I will resist the imposition of sharia principles and sharia law in my taxi cab, my restaurant, my community pool, the halls of Congress, our national monuments, the radio and television airwaves, and all public spaces.
I will not be censored in the name of tolerance.
I will not be cowed by your Beltway lobbying groups in moderate clothing. I will not cringe when you shriek about “profiling” or “Islamophobia.”
I will put my family’s safety above sensitivity. I will put my country above multiculturalism.
I will not submit to your will. I will not be intimidated.
I am John Doe.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam the religion
on: March 26, 2007, 02:42:45 PM
Mainstreaming the Muslim Brotherhood
By Patrick Poole
FrontPageMagazine.com | March 26, 2007
The victory of Democrats in the recent elections has launched a silly season in Washington DC, where absurd ideas that would have been scoffed at this time last year now float on the Potomac breeze like so many cherry blossoms filling the Beltway air with their fragrance.
No better example could be offered for this phenomenon than the recent flurry of articles from foreign policy “realists” urging the Bush Administration to shift its policy and begin to dialogue with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is headquartered in Egypt but has affiliates in more than 70 countries, including the US. This position is best represented in an article in the current issue (March/April 2007) of Foreign Affairs by Robert Leiken and Steven Brooke of the Nixon Center, “The Moderate Muslim Brotherhood”. They summarize their argument thus:
Even as Western commentators condemn the Muslim Brotherhood for its Islamism, radicals in the Middle East condemn it for rejecting jihad and embracing democracy. Such relative moderation offers Washington a notable opportunity for engagement -- as long as policymakers recognize the considerable variation between the group's different branches and tendencies.
Admittedly, this is hardly the first time that so-called “progressives” have tried to shift the post-9/11 sentiment in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood. A September 2004 article in the Washington Post, “In Search of Friends Among Foes”, described the last major attempt at a policy shift led by State Department diplocrats while noting the Brotherhood’s public relations problems of being tied to extremist activity in the Middle East and the United States.
As the worldwide jihad has grown in intensity in recent years, the Brotherhood’s supporters in the US are trying to capitalize on the upward trend of Islamic radicalization to paint the organization as “moderate” on this shifting scale. This is precisely the methodology employed by Leiken and Brooke, who attempt the Herculean task of cleaning out the Augean Stables of the Muslim Brotherhood’s long involvement in terrorist activity through misrepresentation and outright fabrication.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s past use of violence and terrorism as a means of accomplishing the organization’s stated mission of installing “Islamic” governments in the Muslim world through the establishment of shari’a as the legal system of these new governments. This mission has been repeated and restated by Brotherhood officials up to the present day.
But Leiken and Brooke try to qualify that mission by assuring us of two things: 1) that the Muslim Brotherhood has “rejected jihad”; and, 2) it has “embraced democracy”.
Let’s examine the first claim. I take their terminology of the Brotherhood “rejecting jihad” as a general renunciation of violence and terrorism. Again, this is where the organization’s long history of supporting the use of violence makes a defense of the organization a Herculean task for its defenders. From the Brotherhood’s earliest days when its “special apparatus” incited violence and engaged in assassinations, to its recent support of terrorism by affiliates and associates in Israel, Algeria, Sudan and elsewhere, any claim by the Brotherhood that they have “rejected jihad” should be met with a healthy dose of skepticism.
Some of the sounder minds in counterterrorism and diplomatic circles in Washington on both sides of the political spectrum are still awaiting substantive evidence of this newfound rejection of violence by the Brotherhood. One skeptic is the current White House counterterrorism czar, Juan Zarate, who says
The Muslim Brotherhood is a group that worries us not because it deals with philosophical or ideological ideas but because it defends the use of violence against civilians. (Sylvain Besson, La Conquête De L’Occident: Le Projet Secret Des Islamistes, p. 39 – my translation)
Nor are some long-time Middle East diplomats associated with the Democrats eager to take Leiken and Brooke’s word that Brotherhood has removed violence from its menu of options. In an interview with Asharq Alawsat last week, Dennis Ross, former President Clinton’s Middle East envoy, joined with those who aren’t convinced that the Brotherhood had renounced their violent ways:
He (Ross – ed.) added that he would not talk to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and that despite its assertion that it wants to engage in the political process in Egypt, the movement supports the use of violence in other areas and this is the main problem. He firmly stated that as long as the movement supported violence as a means to achieve political objectives, then dialogue could not be established with such an organization.
Again, this is not some ancient quote dug out of the archives, but represents Ross’ current assessment of the Brotherhood’s stance on the use of violence.
Recent history backs up Zarate and Ross that the Brotherhood has yet to adequately demonstrate their renunciation of violence. At present in Egypt many of the organization’s leaders are in jail following an incident this past December where student cadres of the Brotherhood engaged in a military-style demonstration at Al-Ahzar University, which prompted the Mubarak regime’s current crackdown on the Brotherhood. One observer, Jameel Theyabi, described the scene and its possible message in an op-ed for Dar Al-Hayat:
The military parade, the wearing of uniforms, displaying the phrase, 'We Will be Steadfast', and the drills involving combative sports, betray the group's intent to plan for the creation of militia structures, and a return by the group to the era of 'secret cells'...this development comes as a clear Brotherhood announcement that the group is capable of acting and reacting to developments, and by these demonstrations, it is seeking to deliver a news flash that says: "The group is still out there, and is capable of military action, recruitment of new elements, military training and mobilization...I believe that the group's public power display represents a kind of coded message to awaken sleeper cells within Egypt and abroad.
Failing to anticipate the government’s heavy response to their military parade, the leadership of the Brotherhood quickly backed away from it and apologized, but most Egyptians were not convinced. (I treated this incident in more detail in a recent article, “The Militarization of the Muslim Brotherhood”.) One reason that the Egyptian government, press and public have not been ready to believe the Brotherhood is that they have been witness to the campaigns of intimidation and riots led by the student cadres and the Brotherhood’s militia. A frequent victim of this military apparatus has been the Christian Coptic community.
Another recent piece of evidence against the contention that the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood has given up violence and terrorism were comments made by the organization’s Supreme Guide, Mohammed Akef, last summer during the Hezbollah-Israeli conflict. Not only was Akef one of the first leaders in the Middle East to offer his congratulations to Hezbollah for their illegal crossborder raid to capture of two Israeli soldiers, but he said that he was prepared to send 10,000 jihadists to fight alongside Hezbollah against Israeli forces. When the rest of the Arab Muslim leadership in the Middle East didn’t follow his lead with similar offers of military assistance to Hezbollah, he said:
If they weren’t Muslims, we would have killed them, because they are a bigger threat to the nation than Israel itself.
It would be interesting to hear how Leiken and Brooke would explain how this scenario jibes with their contention that the Muslim Brotherhood – who’s Supreme Guide was promising 10,000 jihadist fighters to support the Hezbollah terrorist organization and hinting at the assassination of those who didn’t offer support in kind – is “rejecting jihad”.
The simple fact is that Leiken and Brooke rely on the reader’s ignorance of the Brotherhood to try to make their point here. In the fifteen pages of their argument, there is only one oblique reference to the Brotherhood’s affiliate in the Palestinian territories, the terrorist group HAMAS. The HAMAS charter self-identifies itself as the Brotherhood chapter for that area, and the international organization has lent the terrorist group considerable financial and material support. This Brotherhood affiliate is the primary terrorist actor against Israel and its citizens on one of the most active fronts of the global jihad. No wonder, then, that Leiken and Brooke are hesitant to raise the issue of HAMAS as they argue that the “Moderate” Muslim Brotherhood has rejected jihad.
Also receiving the silent treatment from Leiken and Brooke is the genocidal Brotherhood Islamic Salvation Front government of Sudan, who for years has waged jihad against Christians in the south of the country, and more recently, against non-Arab Muslims in Darfur. Millions of Sudanese have been slaughtered and displaced at the hands of the government in a country where the Brotherhood actually has established political control.
One Brotherhood affiliate that pair mentions as an example of moderation is the Jordanian Islamic Action Front. And yet last year several IAF members of the Jordanian Parliament paid a condolence visit to the family of murderous Iraqi Al-Qaeda thug-in-chief, Abu Musab Al-Zaraqawi, following his “martyrdom” at the hands of two US laser-guided bombs. This is who Leiken and Brooke present us with to convince us of the Brotherhood’s policy of “rejecting jihad”. It should be clear at this point that the two are not only misrepresenting the organization’s statements and actions, but are manufacturing whole-cloth their “moderate” image of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Which bring us to the second assurance offered in the Foreign Affairs article, that the Brotherhood is committed to democracy. Historically and ideologically, however, this has not been the case. The Brotherhood’s prime theorist, Sayyid Qutb’s, in calling the Muslim Brotherhood masses to revolution and jihad in his profoundly influential book, Milestones (1964), he offers this assessment of democracy:
Whoever says that legislation is the right of the people is not a Muslim.
But Leiken and Brooke are prepared for their critics to invoke the specter of Qutb, and tell us that the Brotherhood has forsaken the legacy of Qutb after his execution in 1966 under Gamal Abdel Nasser’s orders and that they have returned to their democratic founding principles. But someone forgot to tell that to Mustafa Mashhour, the Brotherhood’s late Supreme Guide, who said in an official Brotherhood magazine in 1981:
Democracy contradicts and wages war on Islam. Whoever calls for democracy means they are raising banners contradicting God’s plan and fighting Islam.
If it is the case that the Brotherhood has actually embraced democracy, it must be admitted that it has constricted the notion so much so that it would be unrecognizable to anyone in the West. One of the Brotherhood’s most influential clerics, Yousef Al-Qaradawi, made this clear in his statements on the subject during his weekly television program on Al-Jaeera TV in June 2004:
The democracy I call for is the democracy of Muslim society. It has fixed principles it does not violate, and red lines it cannot violate, and some principles that are not up for discussion.
Qaradawi’s statement came just months after the Brotherhood released an official document outlining their vision of “democracy”, the “Muslim Brotherhood Initiatives for Reform in Egypt”, which was published in March 2004. Not only does the “Initiative for Reform” restates its commitment to “to establish an Islamic state that executes the laws and teachings of Islam (shari’a) in practice”, but reaffirms its intent to wage jihad and engage in “resistance against the Anglo-American and Zionist occupiers of Arab and Muslim lands” – clearly meaning Israel and Iraq.
As for this Golden era of Democracy that Leiken and Brooke want us to believe the Muslim Brotherhood intends to usher in, the Initiative assures that “each citizen is entitled to be a member of parliament, as long as he/she enjoys the general conditions set by the law to do so.” On its face this might seem to be innocuous, but the longstanding “general conditions” the Brotherhood has in mind are laws that would exclude non-Muslims from holding any office. The Brotherhood’s founder, Hassan Al-Banna, has stated from the organization’s beginnings that with reference to non-Muslims and their relation to the form of Islamic government they hope to install, that “it will not entrust them with such an office that would give them general authority.”
Thus, the model of democracy that the Muslim Brotherhood hopes to follow would much more closely resemble Khomeini’s Islamic Republic in Iran than Ataturk’s secular democracy in Turkey.
We already have in operation working models of how the Brotherhood would run the government in Egypt by looking at the professional syndicates that the Brotherhood has steadily taken over in the past two decades. In each of these cases, the Brotherhood has operated within the democratic structures of these organizations in order to come to power; but once they have attained power, they have rewritten the rules such that challenging their authority would be difficult, if not impossible.
From their experience governing the professional syndicates, we can see the Brotherhood’s willingness to use “democratic” means for the transfer of power; but there is nothing to indicate their willingness to commit themselves to democratic principles fundamentally. Instead, democracy is perceived to be one of just many potential options. And when that “democracy” is exercised, it’s hard to see how it is much of an improvement on the existing totalitarian “democracies” that already exist in the Muslim world (as renowned Islamic scholar, Bernard Lewis, has characterized it, “one man, one vote, one time”). Recall that when Leiken and Brooke talk about the Muslim Brotherhood “embracing democracy”, this is what they have in mind.
I would contend that when the advocates of engagement with the Muslim Brotherhood make their case, they never do so as honest brokers. As we can see in the current Foreign Affairs piece, any evidence that would immediately contradict their thesis is not only excluded, but intentionally obscured. Their message is clearly directed at an audience unfamiliar with the Brotherhood’s history, message and program, and insults the intelligence of anyone somewhat familiar with such.
In arguing that the Brotherhood is presently “rejecting jihad”, even the limited examples they cite don’t hold up under scrutiny; and in claiming that the organization is “embracing democracy”, they are clearly equivocating in their use of the term.
To make a case for the “Moderate Muslim Brotherhood” requires nothing short of blind faith. No amount of spin offered by the “progressive” policy wonks or media pundits can account for the fact that not only has the Muslim Brotherhood spawned virtually ever single Islamic terrorist organization in the world, but they have used the financial network established by the Brotherhood to conduct their bloody business (an excellent and concise treatment of this subject is available: Douglas Farah, “The Little Explored Offshore Empire of the International Muslim Brotherhood”). This direct support for terrorism is not just past, but present, policy on their part.
Policymakers in Washington should not be fooled by the carefully manicured, but entirely misleading, presentation of the Muslim Brotherhood offered by their US defenders. If any policy change is needed, it isn’t to engage them as a force for moderation and positive change in the Middle East, but to finally designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a Specially Designated Terrorist Organization and make any exceptions from that point.
If there is a time when sane voices must prevail inside the Beltway, it must be during the silly season.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere
on: March 25, 2007, 05:03:08 PM
Shariah in Minnesota?
Radical Muslim activists go fishing in troubled waters.
BY KATHERINE KERSTEN
Sunday, March 25, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT
MINNEAPOLIS--The land of 10,000 lakes and that welcoming attitude we call "Minnesota Nice"--is becoming a window on America's potential future. Here in Minneapolis, one of the nation's most livable cities, hard-line Muslim activists are injecting an element that is anything but nice.
Troubling incidents began several years ago, when taxi drivers at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport--about three-quarters of whom are Muslim--started refusing to transport passengers carrying alcohol. One woman, returning from France with wine, was turned away by five cabs in succession. Refusals of service now number about 100 a month, and heated altercations have erupted.
In September 2006, the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) proposed a two color top-light pilot project to indicate which drivers would accept passengers with alcohol. The proposal, later dropped, would apparently have marked the first time that a government agency in the U.S. officially recognized Shariah law, and distinguished individuals who follow it from those who don't.
In November 2006, the six "flying imams" bumped the taxi drivers from the headlines. In Minneapolis for a conference, the imams were detained after engaging in what an airport police report called "suspicious" activity. Some prayed loudly in the gate area, spoke angrily about the U.S. and Saddam, switched seats and unnecessarily requested seat belt extenders with heavy buckles that could be used as weapons, according to witnesses. They were questioned and released later that day. The imams denounced the incident as racial and religious profiling. "If up to now, [Americans] don't know about prayers, this is a real problem," said Omar Shahin, one of the detained men and head of the North American Imams Federation. Twin Cities imams demanded a separate Muslim prayer room at the airport.
Earlier this month, the six imams filed suit in U.S. district court in Minneapolis against US Airways and the Metropolitan Airports Commission, claiming discrimination and defamation. Now some Muslim cashiers at Twin Cities Target stores have begun refusing to scan pork products, like bacon and pepperoni pizza, and insisting that other cashiers or the customers themselves do it.
What's going on? It appears that both local circumstances and activists with a big-picture agenda play a role. Take the taxi drivers. Minnesota is home to tens of thousands of Somalis, most recent immigrants. Behind the scenes, moderate local Somali leaders are engaged in a power struggle with national Muslim organizations that seek to exploit this vulnerable population. Islam prohibits the consumption of alcohol but not its transportation, say Somalis who reject the taxi drivers' stance. Yet in June 2006, the Muslim American Society's (MAS) Minnesota chapter issued a "fatwa" forbidding drivers here from carrying alcohol to avoid "cooperating in sin."
Hassan Mohamud, one of the fatwa signers, praised the two top-light proposal as a national model for accommodating Islam in areas ranging from housing to the workplace. But according to Omar Jamal of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center in St. Paul, MAS is "trying to hijack and radicalize the Somali community for their Middle East agenda."
Ahmed Samatar, a recognized expert on Somali society at Macalester College in St. Paul notes that "There is a general Islamic prohibition against drinking, but carrying alcohol for people in commercial enterprise has never been forbidden." Similarly, Islam prohibits consuming pork, but not touching or scanning it, according to Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf of the American Society for Muslim Advancement in New York. It is, or should be, "a nonissue."
In Washington, the Democratic leadership is likely to seek passage of the End Racial Profiling Act, of which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called herself, in 2004, a "proud" cosponsor. Both MAS and CAIR are stumping for the bill, which would bar airport security personnel from disproportionately questioning Muslims or people of Middle Eastern descent. Minnesota's Keith Ellison, the nation's first Muslim Congressman, told me that the imams' situation reflects a misunderstanding of Muslim prayer and will be sorted out in court, while the other matters stem from the normal process of immigrant adjustment.
The events here suggest a larger strategy: By piggy-backing on our civil rights laws, Islamist activists aim to equate airport security with racial bigotry and to move slowly toward a two-tier legal system. Intimidation is a crucial tool. The "flying imams" lawsuit ups the ante by indicating that passengers who alerted airport authorities will be included as defendants. Activists are also perfecting their skills at manipulating the media. After a "pray-in" at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., one credulous MSNBC anchor likened the flying imams to civil rights icon Rosa Parks.
The comparison is misplaced: Omar Shahin, leader of the detained imams, has helped raise money for at least two charities later shut down for supporting terrorism. From 2000 to 2003, he headed the Islamic Center of Tucson, which terrorism expert Rita Katz described in the Washington Post as holding "basically the first cell of al Qaeda in the United States." CAIR has long been controversial for alleged terrorist ties, while the Chicago Tribune has described MAS as the American arm of the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, which "preaches that religion and politics cannot be separated and that governments eventually should be Islamic."
So far, Minnesotans have said a resolute "no" to Muslim activists' agenda; in an informal Star Tribune poll, 92% of respondents blamed the imams' own behavior for their airport detention. And Target--after unsuccessful attempts to accommodate Muslim cashiers--is reassigning them to other jobs. Still, there is a sense that we've seen just the opening skirmishes. As MAC spokesman Patrick Hogan put it, "I think people are afraid there will be a chapter two."
Ms. Kersten is a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Europe
on: March 24, 2007, 03:00:32 PM
America's eyes should look to Europe
By Diana West
Friday, March 16, 2007
Without attracting much attention, representatives of the Belgian political party Vlaams Belang recently visited Washington, D.C. Frank Vanhecke and Filip Dewinter hoped to meet members of Congress; but Congress was in recess. They hoped to engender some understanding of their program to reverse the Islamization of Belgium; but the media were strip-mining the tinsel life and tawdry times of Anna Nicole Smith.
Maybe they should have known that Tabloid America doesn't care about the likely transformation of Europe into an Islamic continent, let alone the fate of a French- and Dutch-speaking country of 10 million people. And while Literary America does write books about the transformation -- "While Europe Slept" by Bruce Bawer, "The War for the West" by Tony Blankley, and "America Alone" by Mark Steyn come to mind -- Political America has yet to acknowledge or even notice this colossal, epoch-defining shift now taking place.
Why don't our leaders face it? This may be one of those questions our children will ask some day. But if such natural curiosity isn't expressed until the next generation, the civilizational struggle for Europe will certainly have been lost. Better to question our politicians now. Better to examine the issue today.
Europe, as we may readily observe, is very far along in an accommodation with its still-increasing Muslim immigrant population that is resulting not in the Europeanizing of Islam, but rather the Islamizing of Europe. As Bernard Lewis declared in 2004, Europe will have an Islamic majority by the end of the 21st century at the latest. As Vlaams Belang's Dewinter recently put it, "We are becoming foreigners in our own land."
Such tragic pronouncements turn conversation with Vlaams Belang into a kind of political free verse -- sadly evocative but rooted in a desperate reality that should shake American complacency. That is, "foreigners in our land" is poetry; Mohammed as the most popular boy's name in Brussels for six years running is implacable fact. The idea that "We are living on a dying continent but we are not dead yet," as Dewinter has explained, is metaphorical. His citation from Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi that "Allah is mobilizing Muslim Turkey to add ... 50 million more Muslims" to the European Union augurs world-class revolution.
Is such a revolution desirable? After writing nearly incessantly about Islamization since Sept. 11, I won't surprise anyone by saying no -- not if freedom of conscience, religious equality or women's rights are your bag (not to mention the glorious representational artworks Europe's museums are stuffed with). Besides, the strategic implications for the United States are, in a word, bleak.
In multiculturally totalitarian Belgium, however, you make such judgments at your own risk. Vlaams Belang, a conservative, free-market party that stands for Flemish secession from the French-speaking part of Belgium and opposes continued immigration, now stands trial in a Belgian court for a comment -- a comment! -- Dewinter made in 2005 to a New York publication, The Jewish Week. When asked why Belgian Jews should vote for a party that espouses "xenophobia," Dewinter replied: "Xenophobia is not the word I would use. If (it) absolutely must be a 'phobia,' let it be 'Islamophobia.' Yes, we're afraid of Islam. The Islamization of Europe is a frightening thing."
If convicted of the "crime" of "Islamophobia" ("1984," anyone?), the party would lose its state funding. In a country that effectively prohibits private political fund-raising, Vlaams Belang -- the largest party in Belgium -- would ultimately cease to exist. And so, too, would free speech in the center of Europe.
Before I met Vlaams Belang's Frank Vanhecke and Filip Dewinter in Washington, I believed Europe's rush to Islamize itself was a stampede, its transformation all but inevitable. Now, I think these men have at least earned Europe the benefit of the doubt. Studying their various statements and interviews, I found no evidence to support the crude slanders to which they are continually subjected in the media for being a right-wing party opposed to the massive Islamic immigration now transforming traditional European culture. Indeed, their statements on Israel are more supportive than any European party I know of. As Vanhecke put it in a recent speech, "They call us 'intolerant' because we oppose intolerance. They call us 'fascists' because we oppose Islamo-fascism.
They call us 'the children of holocaust perpetrators,' because we oppose Islamists who are preparing a new holocaust against the Jews.' " America must start paying attention to Europe. And to Vlaams Belang.
Diana West is a contributing columnist for Townhall.com
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere
on: March 23, 2007, 11:04:07 PM
Friday, March 23, 2007
Wanted: Counterjihad Volunteers in Kansas City
by Baron Bodissey
Most of our readers are aware of Rep. John Conyers’ efforts to pass a congressional resolution against the desecration of the Koran. One of the highest priorities of Muslim interest groups in the United States is to get this legislation and similar initiatives passed. They are following multiple strategies on these issues, lobbying for legislation that bans airport profiling, agitating for rules protecting Islamic practices in the schools, and pushing for non-legislative regulations in addition to laws and resolutions. They are seeking the expansion of the definitions of “hate crime” and “hate speech”, and a blurring of the distinction between the two.
I can’t emphasize too strongly or too often that the erosion of our freedom of speech and the encroachment of sharia in our country will come sneaking into the public discourse disguised as the protection of religious freedom. Muslim interest groups will claim — and are claiming — that all their religious practices, no matter how contrary they are to the rest of the First Amendment and the Constitution in general, are protected by the Religious Freedom Clause.
This is a pernicious strategy which is designed to turn our Constitutional liberties into a smoking ruin. And there are people in our government, both elected leaders and those within the permanent federal bureaucracy, who are all too eager to go along with this farrago.
The next skirmish in this war is taking place next week, on Thursday March 29th, in Kansas City, under the auspices of the Department of Justice. The event sounds innocuous enough — “A First Freedom Project Seminar: Federal Laws Protecting Religious Freedom” — but the significance of the occasion is revealed by the inordinate interest in it displayed by MPAC and other Muslim advocacy groups. The fact that these organizations are anxious to get their members to this meeting and intend to have an impact on it tells you a lot about what they hope to accomplish.
Meetings between the DOJ and Islamist advocacy groups that may have led to the “First Freedom” initiative are summarized at the American Muslim Perspective:
[The January 8 meeting was attended by] representatives from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the Arab American Institute (AAI), the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), the National Association of Muslim Lawyers (NAML), and the Islamic Society of North American (ISNA).
The January 8 meeting with Attorney General Gonzalez followed a similar meeting on December 4, 2006 between prominent American Muslim leaders with key senior US government officials to discuss the state of Islamophobia in America and US-Muslim relations. It was organized by the Bridging the Divide Initiative of Saban Center at the Brookings Institution. It was co-sponsored by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding and the Association of Muslim Social Scientists.
The government was represented by several participants from the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security and associated agencies including Alina Romanowski, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Professional and Cultural Affairs and Dan Sutherland, the Officer for Civil Rights at the Department of Homeland Security.
American Muslim leaders included: Nihad Awad, the Executive Director of the Council on American Islamic Relations, Louay Safi, the Executive Director of the ISNA leadership Development Center, Imam Mahdi Bray, the executive Director of MAS Freedom Foundation, Ahmed Younis, the National Director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists and Muqtedar Khan of Brookings Institution.
Ambassador Martin Indyk, Director of Saban Center and Stephen Grand, the Director of the US-Islamic World program also addressed the meeting. This was the first US Government and American Muslim conference on Islamophobia.
The upshot is that Justice Department policy on religious discrimination is being guided by leaders from CAIR, ISNA, MAS Freedom Foundation (co-sponsors with ANSWER of the March 17 demonstration against the war), and MPAC.
As I’ve said before, this is a Trojan horse being rolled into the heart of the United States Constitution, and we have to make our voices heard if we want to stop it.
I’m asking members of the Counterjihad, especially bloggers, to travel to Kansas City if they possibly can and attend this meeting in order to offer a counterweight to MPAC, ISNA, and all the rest of the alphabet soup that fronts for the Umma here in the USA.
If we sleep through this one, it makes it easier for them to set the agenda for the next one, and the one after, and the one after that.
Then one day you’ll wake up and find that the Religious Freedom Clause protects the right of Muslims to have separate public swimming pools for men and women, or to be guaranteed a pork-free school lunch, or not to be deployed by the Armed Forces during a conflict with an Islamic country.
In other words, America will have become just like Eurabia.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Christine of the Center for Vigilant Freedom (the international coalition that has recently emerged from the original 910 Group network) has compiled a pdf file of background materials on the First Freedom Project and Islamic organizations. Here’s her cover note for the document:
- - - - - - - - - -
The Department of Justice’s The First Freedom Project on religious liberty, starting next week with a March 29 public meeting in Kansas City, Missouri, may be monopolized by Islamist organizations. Other seminars will be held in Tampa, Florida, on April 25, 2007 and Seattle, Washington, on May 10, 2007. If members of other religions attend these DOJ meetings, a more balanced view can be presented. Criticism of other religions should not be criminalized, including criticism of Islam or the Koran.
Meetings between the DOJ and Islamist advocacy groups that may have led to the “First Freedom” initiative are summarized here at the American Muslim Perspective.
As conservative writer Janet Levy has noted, “Muslim leaders such as Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, insist that Muslims have a right to petition for special accommodation based on their religious beliefs as mandated by the First Amendment. In truth, no requirement exists, either in state or federal statutes, requiring that such petitions be addressed or behavior adjusted accordingly.”
Below we provide background information:
1. A congratulatory email notice from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), stating that the DOJ’s First Freedom Project “is designed to provide additional enforcement tools for laws against religious discrimination and hate crimes.”
2. The press release on the First Freedom Project, as provided from the ADC.
3. A similar email notice from the Muslim Public Affairs Council on the First Freedom Project.
4. Related Legislation: Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007 (LLEHCPA) , just introduced March 21 (text not available online on 3/22/07). See “Christian belief a ‘hate crime’ under plan”.
5. Related Legislation: The “Domestic Radicalization” Amendment to the Improving America’s Security by Implementing Unfinished Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007.
6. A partial list of Kansas City events, including the March 7, 2007 charges against a Columbia, Missouri charity designated as a supporter of terrorism.
7. A list of Islamic organizations in Kansas City, ranging from local chapters of national Islamist advocacy groups, to local mosques, schools and foundations that may be moderate.
I hope you can cover this DOJ Project and encourage more people to attend to balance the views offered.
Director, The Center For Vigilant Freedom