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Forum Post: NYC Subway Ads Call for Defeat of Jihad 'Savages'

Posted 10 years ago on Sept. 21, 2012, 1:07 p.m. EST by LeoYo (5909)
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NYC Subway Ads Call for Defeat of Jihad 'Savages'

By COLLEEN CURRY | ABC News – Thu, Sep 20, 2012


New ads scheduled to appear in the New York City subway system call for support of Israel in its war against "the savage," a reference to militant Muslims.

The ads, put out by a group called the American Freedom Defense Initiative, are aimed at criticizing violent attacks perpetrated by radical Islamists, according to Pamela Gellar, the founder and director of the group.

The ads read: "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad."

"The point is any war on civilians is savagery. The rockets going into Israel by Gaza is savagery, blowing up buses is savagery, targeting a bus of Jewish mothers and children, savagery, Daniel Pearl, 9/11, 7/7, 3/11, are all savagery," she said referring to terror attacks in the U.S., Britain and Spain. "I'm just restating the obvious."

The ad comes after a series of riots in the Mideast and Africa over a movie mocking the Prophet Mohammed and as France braces for unrest after a magazine printed cartoons lampooning the prophet. Depictions of the prophet are considered blasphemy by Muslims. Gellar said she is concerned that the violent blowback to the movie and the cartoons is squelching free speech around the world. She said that she is not worried about her ads provoking violence, and that only those who commit violent acts are responsible.

"What we're witnessing here not just locally or nationally but internationally is the enforcement of the restriction of free speech under Sharia law. Under Sharia law you cannot criticize the prophet," she said. "In my opinion any time is a good time to blaspheme because I am living in America and freedom of speech is not the eighth or tenth or fifteenth amendment, but the first."

The ads were initially rejected by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs New York's subway and train systems. MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said that the ad failed to meet its standards, which prohibit demeaning language of any group. But those standards were ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge this summer, he said.

"Our hands are tied. The court found the MTA's regulations on non-commercial ads violated the First Amendment," Donovan said.

"The judge recognized our intention, but found our attempt to be constitutionally deficient," he added.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations in New York said today that the ads are insulting and ignorant.

"She's someone who's made quite a career out of stoking ignorance and fear and hatred," said Cyrus McGoldrick, advocacy director of the New York chapter of CAIR. "What's been rewarding about this experience is seeing our interfaith partners and New Yorkers of all stripes rejecting these ads."

McGoldrick said that he supported Gellar's rights to free speech, but called her posters a "shame." He said he did not expect American Muslims to react violently toward the posters.

While the ad will start its run across the city subway system on Monday, the MTA is expected to discuss changing its standards at a board meeting later this month. The MTA could ban all non-commercial ads from the subway system so as to avoid having to run controversial issue-based ads in the future, he said.

"The MTA board may consider revising those regulations at its meeting next week in executive session," Donovan said.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative is principally a venture made up of Gellar and author Robert Spencer, who runs the website Jihad Watch. The organization is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Gellar noted they have more than 30,000 Facebook followers, donors, and participants in their events.


Cartoons in French weekly fuel Mohammad furor

By Nicholas Vinocur | Reuters


PARIS (Reuters) - A French magazine ridiculed the Prophet Mohammad on Wednesday by portraying him naked in cartoons, threatening to fuel the anger of Muslims around the world who are already incensed by a film depiction of him as a lecherous fool.

The drawings in satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo risked exacerbating a crisis that has seen the storming of U.S. and other Western embassies, the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and a deadly suicide bombing in Afghanistan.

Riot police were deployed to protect the magazine's Paris offices after it hit the news stands with a cover showing an Orthodox Jew pushing the turbaned figure of Mohammad in a wheelchair. On the inside pages, several caricatures of the Prophet showed him naked. One, entitled "Mohammad: a star is born", depicted a bearded figure crouching over to display his buttocks and genitals. The French government, which had urged the weekly not to print the cartoons, said it was temporarily shutting down premises including embassies and schools in 20 countries on Friday, when protests sometimes break out after Muslim prayers. Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby called the drawings provocative and outrageous but said those who were offended by them should "use peaceful means to express their firm rejection". Tunisia's governing Islamist party, Ennahda, condemned the cartoons as an act of "aggression" against Mohammad. It urged Muslims, in responding to it, to avoid falling into a trap designed by "suspicious parties to derail the Arab Spring and turn it into a conflict with the West". In Lebanon, Salafist cleric Sheikh Nabil Rahim said the incident would raise tensions that were already dangerously high. "We will try to keep things managed and peaceful, but these things easily get out of hand. I fear there could more targeting of foreigners, and this is why I wish they would not persist with these provocations," he said. In the northern Paris suburb of Sarcelles, one person was slightly hurt when two masked men threw a small explosive device through the window of a kosher Jewish supermarket, a police source said, adding it was too early to link the incident to the cartoons. DEADLY PROTESTS The posting of a short film on YouTube last week that mocked Mohammad as a womanizing buffoon has sparked protests in many countries, some of them deadly. The U.S. envoy to Libya and three other Americans were killed in an attack in Benghazi, and U.S. and other foreign embassies were stormed in cities in Asia, Africa and the Middle East by furious Muslims. Afghan militants said a suicide bombing that killed 12 people on Tuesday was carried out in retaliation for the film, which was made with private funds in California. At least four people died last week after hundreds of protesters forced their way into the U.S. embassy in Tunis, ransacking it and burning some of its annexes. The furor has emerged as an issue in the U.S. presidential election campaign and sparked a wider international debate over free speech, religion and the right to offend. Many Muslims consider any representation of Allah or the Prophet Mohammad blasphemous.

"We have the impression that it's officially allowed for Charlie Hebdo to attack the Catholic far-right but we cannot poke fun at fundamental Islamists," said editor Stephane Charbonnier, who drew the front-page cartoon. "It shows the climate - everyone is driven by fear, and that is exactly what this small handful of extremists who do not represent anyone want - to make everyone afraid, to shut us all in a cave," he told Reuters.

One cartoon, in reference to the scandal over a French magazine's decision to publish topless photos of the wife of Britain's Prince William, showed a topless, bearded character with the caption: "Riots in Arab countries after photos of Mrs. Mohammad are published." BEEFED UP SECURITY French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius criticized the magazine's move as a provocation. "We saw what happened last week in Libya and in other countries such as Afghanistan," Fabius told a regular government news conference. "We have to call on all to behave responsibly." A Foreign Ministry spokesman said France was closing its embassies, consulates, cultural centers and schools in 20 countries on Friday as a "precautionary measure".

In Egypt, Essam Erian, acting head of the powerful Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, told Reuters: "We reject and condemn the French cartoons that dishonor the Prophet and we condemn any action that defames the sacred according to people's beliefs."

Charlie Hebdo has a long reputation for being provocative. Its Paris offices were firebombed last November after it published a mocking caricature of Mohammad, and Charbonnier has been under police guard ever since. Speaking outside his offices in an eastern neighborhood with many residents of North African origin, Charbonnier said he had not received any threats over the latest cartoons. In a message on its Twitter account, Charlie Hebdo said its website had been hacked, but referred readers to a blog it also uses.

The French Muslim Council, the main body representing Muslims in France, accused Charlie Hebdo of firing up anti-Muslim sentiment at a sensitive time.

"The CFCM is profoundly worried by this irresponsible act, which in such a fraught climate risks further exacerbating tensions and sparking damaging reactions," it said.

Richard Prasquier, head of the body representing France's Jewish community - Europe's largest - said religious censorship was wrong but added: "Publishing Mohammad cartoons at this time, in the name of freedom, is irresponsible".

In 2005, Danish cartoons of the Prophet sparked a wave of violent protests across the Muslim world that killed at least 50 people.

The decision to temporarily close some embassies comes at a time when France is already on heightened alert over possible attacks by al Qaeda on French interests in West Africa.

A diplomatic source said this week Paris recently foiled attacks on economic and diplomatic targets and had credible evidence that more were planned. "Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is a direct and immediate threat," the source said.



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[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5909) 10 years ago

Egypt’s New Leader Spells Out Terms for US-Arab Ties

Sunday, 23 September 2012 10:24 By Steven Erlanger and David D Kirkpatrick, The New York Times News Service | Report


Cairo - On the eve of his first trip to the United States as Egypt's new Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi said the United States needed to fundamentally change its approach to the Arab world, showing greater respect for its values and helping build a Palestinian state, if it hoped to overcome decades of pent-up anger.

A former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mr. Morsi sought in a 90-minute interview with The New York Times to introduce himself to the American public and to revise the terms of relations between his country and the United States after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, an autocratic but reliable ally.

He said it was up to Washington to repair relations with the Arab world and to revitalize the alliance with Egypt, long a cornerstone of regional stability.

If Washington is asking Egypt to honor its treaty with Israel, he said, Washington should also live up to its own Camp David commitment to Palestinian self-rule. He said the United States must respect the Arab world's history and culture, even when that conflicts with Western values.

And he dismissed criticism from the White House that he did not move fast enough to condemn protesters who recently climbed over the United States Embassy wall and burned the American flag in anger over a video that mocked the Prophet Muhammad. "We took our time" in responding to avoid an explosive backlash, he said, but then dealt "decisively" with the small, violent element among the demonstrators.

"We can never condone this kind of violence, but we need to deal with the situation wisely," he said, noting that the embassy employees were never in danger.

Mr. Morsi, who will travel to New York on Sunday for a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, arrives at a delicate moment. He faces political pressure at home to prove his independence, but demands from the West for reassurance that Egypt under Islamist rule will remain a stable partner.

Mr. Morsi, 61, whose office was still adorned with nautical paintings that Mr. Mubarak left behind, said the United States should not expect Egypt to live by its rules.

"If you want to judge the performance of the Egyptian people by the standards of German or Chinese or American culture, then there is no room for judgment," he said. "When the Egyptians decide something, probably it is not appropriate for the U.S. When the Americans decide something, this, of course, is not appropriate for Egypt."

He suggested that Egypt would not be hostile to the West, but would not be as compliant as Mr. Mubarak either.

"Successive American administrations essentially purchased with American taxpayer money the dislike, if not the hatred, of the peoples of the region," he said, by backing dictatorial governments over popular opposition and supporting Israel over the Palestinians. He initially sought to meet with President Obama at the White House during his visit this week, but he received a cool reception, aides to both presidents said. Mindful of the complicated election-year politics of a visit with Egypt's Islamist leader, Mr. Morsi dropped his request. His silence in the immediate aftermath of the embassy protest elicited a tense telephone call from Mr. Obama, who also told a television interviewer that at that moment he did not consider Egypt an ally, if not an enemy either. When asked if he considered the United States an ally, Mr. Morsi answered in English, "That depends on your definition of ally," smiling at his deliberate echo of Mr. Obama. But he said he envisioned the two nations as "real friends." Mr. Morsi spoke in an ornate palace that Mr. Mubarak inaugurated three decades ago, a world away from the Nile Delta farm where the new president grew up, or the prison cells where he had been confined by Mr. Mubarak for his role in the Brotherhood. Three months after his swearing-in, the most noticeable change to the presidential office was a plaque on his desk bearing the Koranic admonition, "Be conscious of a day on which you will return to God." A stocky figure with a trim beard and wire-rim glasses, he earned a doctorate in materials science at the University of Southern California in the early 1980s. He spoke with an easy confidence in his new authority, reveling in an approval rating he said was at 70 percent. When he grew animated, he slipped from Arabic into crisp English.

Little known at home or abroad until just a few months ago, he was the Brotherhood's second choice as a presidential nominee after the first choice was disqualified. On the night of the election, the generals who had ruled since Mr. Mubarak's ouster issued a decree keeping most presidential powers for themselves.

But last month Mr. Morsi confounded all expectations by prying full executive authority back from the generals. In the interview, when an interpreter suggested that the generals had "decided" to exit politics, Mr. Morsi quickly corrected him.

"No, no, it is not that they 'decided' to do it," he interjected in English, determined to clarify that it was he who removed them. "This is the will of the Egyptian people through the elected president, right? "The president of the Arab Republic of Egypt is the commander of the armed forces, full stop. Egypt now is a real civil state. It is not theocratic, it is not military. It is democratic, free, constitutional, lawful and modern."

He added, "We are behaving according to the Egyptian people's choice and will, nothing else — is it clear?"

He praised Mr. Obama for moving "decisively and quickly" to support the Arab Spring revolutions, and he said he believed that Americans supported "the right of the people of the region to enjoy the same freedoms that Americans have."

Arabs and Americans have "a shared objective, each to live free in their own land, according to their customs and values, in a fair and democratic fashion," he said, adding that he hoped for "a harmonious, peaceful coexistence."

But he also argued that Americans "have a special responsibility" for the Palestinians because the United States had signed the 1978 Camp David accord. The agreement called for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the West Bank and Gaza to make way for full Palestinian self-rule.

"As long as peace and justice are not fulfilled for the Palestinians, then the treaty remains unfulfilled," he said.

He made no apologies for his roots in the Brotherhood, the insular religious revival group that was Mr. Mubarak's main opposition and now dominates Egyptian politics.

"I grew up with the Muslim Brotherhood," he said. "I learned my principles in the Muslim Brotherhood. I learned how to love my country with the Muslim Brotherhood. I learned politics with the Brotherhood. I was a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood."

He left the group when he took office but remains a member of its political party. But he said he sees "absolutely no conflict" between his loyalty to the Brotherhood and his vows to govern on behalf of all, including members of the Christian minority or those with more secular views.

"I prove my independence by taking the correct acts for my country," he said. "If I see something good from the Muslim Brotherhood, I will take it. If I see something better in the Wafd" — Egypt's oldest liberal party — "I will take it."

He repeatedly vowed to uphold equal citizenship rights of all Egyptians, regardless of religion, sex or class. But he stood by the religious arguments he once made as a Brotherhood leader that neither a woman nor a Christian would be a suitable president. "We are talking about values, beliefs, cultures, history, reality," he said. He said the Islamic position on presidential eligibility was a matter for Muslim scholars to decide, not him. But regardless of his own views or the Brotherhood's, he said, civil law was another matter. "I will not prevent a woman from being nominated as a candidate for the presidential campaign," he said. "This is not in the Constitution. This is not in the law. But if you want to ask me if I will vote for her or not, that is something else, that is different."

He was also eager to reminisce about his taste of American culture as a graduate student at the University of Southern California. "Go, Trojans!" he said, and he remembered learning about the world from Barbara Walters in the morning and Walter Cronkite at night. "And that's the way it is!" Mr. Morsi said with a smile.

But he also displayed some ambivalence. He effused about his admiration for American work habits, punctuality and time management. But when an interpreter said that Mr. Morsi had "learned a lot" in the United States, he quickly interjected a qualifier in English: "Scientifically!"

He was troubled by the gangs and street of violence of Los Angeles, he said, and dismayed by the West's looser sexual mores, mentioning couples living together out of wedlock and what he called "naked restaurants," like Hooters.

"I don't admire that," he said. "But that is the society. They are living their way."

© 2012 The New York Times Company

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5909) 10 years ago

Dangerous and Deepening Divide between Islamic World, West

By Peter Apps, Political Risk Correspondent | Reuters – 2 hrs 40 mins ago


WASHINGTON (Reuters)- For those who believe in a clash of civilizations between the Islamic world and Western democracy, the last few weeks must seem like final confirmation of their theory.

Even those who reject the term as loaded and simplistic speak sadly of a perhaps catastrophic failure of understanding between Americans in particular and many Muslims.

The outrage and violence over a crude film ridiculing the Prophet Mohammad points to a chasm between Western free speech and individualism and the sensitivities of some Muslims over what they see as a campaign of humiliation.

There seems no shortage of forces on both sides to fan the flames. The tumult over the video had not even subsided when a French magazine this week printed a new cartoon showing the prophet naked.

"It's ridiculous," Zainab Al-Suwaij, executive director of the America Islamic Congress, said of the violence that on Friday killed 15 in Pakistan alone as what were supposed to be peaceful protests turned violent. "Yes, this video is offensive but it is clearly a grotesque over reaction that in part is being whipped up by radical Islamists in the region for their own ends. But it does show you the depth of misunderstanding between the cultures."

Starting last week with a few relatively small embassy protests and a militant attack in Libya that killed the U.S. ambassador and three others, violence has since spread to more than a dozen countries across the Middle East and Asia.

Despite the focus on religion, few doubt there are other drivers of confrontation. The war on terrorism, U.S. drone strikes, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Guantanamo Bay prison simply continue, in many Muslims' perceptions, centuries of Western meddling, hypocrisy and broken promises. Meanwhile, many Americans see those regions as an inexplicable source of terrorism, hostage-taking, hatred and chaos. In Europe, those same concerns have become intertwined with other battles over immigration and multiculturalism.

"It has always been a difficult relationship and in the last decades it has become even more delicate," said Akbar Ahmed, chair of Islamic studies at American University in Washington. "Even a seemingly minor matter can upset the balance. ... What is needed is more sensitivity and understanding on both sides, but that is difficult to produce."

Not all the news from the region indicates an unbridgeable gap. Many Libyans, especially young ones, came out to mourn Ambassador Chris Stevens after his death and make clear that militants who killed him did not speak for them. Thousands of Libyans marched in Benghazi on Friday to protest the Islamist militias that Washington blames for the attack. SPREADING DEMOCRACY AND MAKING FRIENDS Still, the "Arab Spring" appears not to have made as many friends for America as Americans might have hoped. The very countries in which Washington helped facilitate popular-backed regime change last year - Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen - are seeing some of the greatest anti-West backlash.

The young pro-democracy activists who leapt to the fore in 2011, Washington now believes, have relatively little clout. That leaves U.S. and European officials having to deal with groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

There is concern that regional governments such as Egypt might now be playing a "double game", saying one thing to the U.S. while indulging in more anti-Western rhetoric at home. It may be something Washington must get used to.

"What you're seeing now is that (regional governments) are much more worried about their own domestic population - which means being seen as too close to the U.S. is suddenly ... a liability," says Jon Alterman, a former State Department official and now Middle East specialist at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

The current U.S. administration is not the first to discover democracy does not always directly translate into the sort of governments it would like to see. In 2006, the election victory of Islamist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip was seen helping prompt the Bush White House to abandon a post-911 push towards for democratic change, sending it back towards Mubarak-type autocrats. Rachel Kleinfeld, CEO and co-founder of the Truman National Security Project, a body often cited by the Obama campaign on foreign policy, said the new political leadership often had less flexibility than the dictators before them.

"Is that difficult for the U.S.? Yes, of course. But it would be a mistake to simply look at what is happening and decide we should go back to supporting autocrats," she said. The popular image of the United States in the Middle East stands in stark contrast to the way Americans view themselves. Western talk of democracy and human rights is often seen hollow, with Washington and Europe only abandoning autocratic leaders when their fate was already sealed and continuing to back governments such as Bahrain still accused of repression.

"The simple truth is that the American people are never going to understand the region because they never ask the right question - which is what it feels like to be on the receiving end of American power," says Rosemary Hollis, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at London's City University.

MINEFIELD AHEAD Whoever wins the White House in November will face a string of challenges across the region.

As it faces down Iran over its nuclear program, while backing rebels in Syria and governments in the Gulf, Washington risks being drawn ever deeper into the historic Sunni-Shi'ite sectarian divide within Islam.

Already having to face up to its dwindling influence over Iraq, it must broker its exit from Afghanistan and try to keep nuclear armed Pakistan from chaos.

Then, there are relations with its two key regional allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia, both troublesome in different ways.

Israel is threatening military action against Iran over its nuclear program, and U.S. officials fear Americans would feel the consequences if Israel does attack.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains deadlocked, and Obama's rival for the presidency, Republican Mitt Romney, indicated in comments earlier this year and made public this month that he sees little chance of any change there.

Saudi Arabia might be a key oil producer and occasionally invaluable ally, but analysts say some rich Saudis, if not the government itself, have long funded and fueled Islamist and Salifist extremism and perhaps also Sunni-Shi'ite tension.

Said Sadek, professor of politics at the American University in Cairo, said people in the Middle East still prefer Obama to the alternative. "He is seen as the only president to ever really reach out to the Middle East. But (it) is a difficult place," he said. "The countries that have gone through revolutions were always going to be unstable. ... You could have perhaps 5 to 15 years of instability."

While many Americans would like nothing more than to turn their backs on the region, Obama made clear this week he does not see that as an option: "The one thing we can't do is withdraw from the region," he said. "The United States continues to be the one indispensable nation."

(Editing by Warren Strobel and Claudia Parsons; Desking by Jackie Frank)

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5909) 10 years ago

Why the Mideast Exploded, Really

Sunday, 23 September 2012 09:20 By Ray McGovern, Consortium News | News Analysis


"Why Is the Arab world so easily offended?" asks the headline atop an article by Fouad Ajami, which the Washington Post published online last Friday to give perspective to the recent anti-American violence in Muslim capitals.

While the Post described Ajami simply as a "senior fellow" at Stanford's conservative Hoover Institution, Wikipedia gives a more instructive perspective on his checkered career and dubious credibility.

An outspoken supporter of the war on Iraq, Ajami was still calling it a "noble effort" well after it went south. He is a friend and colleague of one of the war's intellectual authors, neocon Paul Wolfowitz, and also advised Condoleezza Rice. It was apparently Wolfowitz or Rice who fed Ajami's analyses to then-Vice President Dick Cheney, who cited Ajami's views repeatedly in speeches.

The most telling example of this came in Cheney's VFW address on August 26, 2002, in which the Vice President laid down the terms of reference for the planned attack on Iraq. Attempting to assuage concerns about the upcoming invasion, Cheney cited Ajami's analysis: "As for the reaction of the Arab 'street,' the Middle East expert Professor Fouad Ajami predicts that after liberation, the streets in Basra and Baghdad are 'sure to erupt in joy in the same way the throngs in Kabul greeted the Americans.'"

In his writings, Ajami did warn, in a condescending way, that one could expect some "road rage ... of a thwarted Arab world – the congenital condition of a culture yet to take full responsibility for its self-inflicted wounds." He then added:

"There is no need to pay excessive deference to the political pieties and givens of the region. Indeed, this is one of those settings where a reforming foreign power's simpler guidelines offer a better way than the region's age-old prohibitions and defects."

No One Better?

Ignoring the albatross of tarnished credentials hanging around Ajami's neck, the Post apparently saw him as just the right academician to put perspective on the violence of last week in Middle East capitals. As for his record of credibility: Well, who takes the trouble to go to Wikipedia for information on pundits? Nor were the Post's editors going to take any chances that its newspaper readers might miss the benefit of Ajami's wisdom. So the Post gave pride of place to the same article in Sunday's Outlook section, as well. What the Post and other mainstream media want us to believe comes through clearly in the title given to the article's jump portion, which dominates page 5: "Why a YouTube trailer ignited Muslim rage."

Setting off the article were large, scary photos: on page one, a photo of men brandishing steel pipes to hack into the windows of the U.S. embassy in Yemen; the page-5 photo showed a masked protester, as he "ran from a burning vehicle near the U.S. embassy in Cairo." So – to recapitulate – the Post's favored editorial narrative of the Mideast turmoil is that hypersensitive, anti-American Muslims are doing irrational stuff like killing U.S. diplomats and torching our installations. This violence was the result of Arabs all too ready to take offense at a video trailer disrespectful of the Prophet. Nonetheless, it seems to be true that the trailer did have some immediate impact and will have more. According to an eyewitness, the 30 local guards who were supposed to protect the U.S. consulate in Benghazi simply ran away as the violent crowd approached on Tuesday night.

Wissam Buhmeid, the commander of the Tripoli government-sanctioned Libya's Shield Brigade, effectively a police force for Benghazi, maintained that it was anger over the video trailer which made the guards abandon their post.

"There were definitely people from the security forces who let the attack happen because they were themselves offended by the film; they would absolutely put their loyalty to the Prophet over the consulate. The deaths are all nothing compared to insulting the Prophet."

Predictably, Islamophobes and Muslim haters with influence over Western media coverage are citing the violence as the kind of "irrational" over-reaction that "exposes" Islam's intolerance and incompatibility with democratic values and demonstrates that Islam is on a collision course with the West.

It is no surprise that Ajami gives no attention to the many additional factual reasons explaining popular outrage against the U.S. and its representatives – reasons that go far deeper than a video trailer, offensive though it was. Ajami steers clear of the dismal effects of various U.S. policies over the years on people across the Muslim world – in countries like Iraq, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Tunisia, Libya, Afghanistan. (The list stretches as far as distant Indonesia, the most populous Muslim state.)

Last week's violence not only reflects the deep anger at and distrust of the U.S. across the Islamic world, but also provides insight into the challenges posed by the power now enjoyed by the forces of extremism long held in check by the dictators toppled by last year's wave of revolutions.

Cui Bono?

Who are the main beneficiaries of misleading narratives like that of Ajami. He himself concedes, "It is never hard to assemble a crowd of young protesters in the teeming cities of the Muslim world. American embassies and consulates are magnets for the disgruntled."

So, does that mean the notorious video trailer is best regarded as a catalyst for the angry protests rather than the underlying cause? In other words, if the video served as the spark, who or what laid the kindling? Who profits from the narrative that neocons are trying so hard to embed in American minds?

Broad hints can be seen in the Washington Post's coverage over recent days – including a long piece by its Editorial Board, "Washington's role amid the Mideast struggle for power," published the same day Ajami's article appeared online.

What the two have in common is that the word "Israel" appears in neither piece. One wonders how and why the Post's editors could craft a long editorial on the "Mideast struggle for power" — and give editorial prominence to Ajami's article — without mentioning Israel. Presumably because the Post's readers aren't supposed to associate the fury on the Arab "street" with anger felt by the vast majority Arabs over what they see as U.S. favoritism toward Israel and neglect for the plight of the Palestinians. The Israeli elephant, with the antipathy and resentment its policies engender, simply cannot be allowed into the discussion.

In the circumstances of last week, Israel may be less a centerpiece than the ugly Islamophobia that has found a home in America. But these factors tend to build on and reinforce each other. And the indignities suffered at the hand of Israel certainly has resonance is the larger context of Muslims who feel their religion and culture are under attack in a variety of ways.

"Why Do They Hate Us?"

On Saturday, during a live interview on Al-Jazeera, I tried to inject some balance into the discussion. I noted that one key reason for the antipathy toward the U.S. among Muslims is the close identification of the U.S. with Israel and the widespread realization that support from Washington enables Israel's policies of oppression and warmongering against the Palestinians and its regional neighbors. [As an example of that Israeli brutality and American complicity, an op-ed in Monday's New York Times detailed how U.S. diplomats in 1982 acquiesced to Israeli actions in Lebanon that led to the massacre of defenseless Palestinian civilians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.]

As to "why they hate us," I had time to recall three very telling things I had mentioned in an earlier article on this sensitive topic.

1 — From the 9/11 Commission Report of July 2004, page 147, regarding the motivation of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed: "By his own account, KSM's animus toward the United States stemmed not from his experience there as a student, but rather from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel."

2 — The mainstream-media-neglected report from the Pentagon-appointed Defense Science Board, a report that took direct issue with the notion that they hate us for our freedom. Amazingly, in their Sept. 23, 2004, report to Rumsfeld, the DSB directly contradicted what Vice President Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush had been saying about "why they hate us." Here's part of what the DSB said:

"Muslims do not 'hate our freedom,' but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf States. Thus, when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy."

The New York Times ignored the Defense Science Board's startling explanation (as it has other references to the elephant plopped on the sofa). On Nov. 24, 2004, the erstwhile "newspaper of record" did publish a story on the board's report — but performed some highly interesting surgery.

Thom Shanker of the Times quoted the paragraph beginning with "Muslims do not 'hate our freedom'" (see above), but he or his editors deliberately cut out the following sentence about what Muslims do object to, i.e., U.S. "one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights" and support for tyrannical regimes. The Times then included the sentence immediately after the omitted one. In other words, it was not simply a matter of shortening the paragraph. Rather, the offending middle sentence was surgically removed.

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5909) 10 years ago

Western Presumptions, Muslim Apologies: Breaking the Cycle of Violence

Saturday, 22 September 2012 10:35 By Maryam Jamshidi, Muftah | Op-Ed


A few weeks ago, I attended a panel discussion on the state of domestic terrorism and Islamophobia in the aftermath of the Sikh temple shooting in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

A seasoned foreign correspondent from a well-known newspaper sat next to me, furiously scribbling on her pad. After the presentations ended, the journalist stood and posed a question to the lone Muslim panelist, who represented a prominent, national advocacy organization for American Muslims:

…[T]alking about the hate [Islamophobia] industry. I think this rhetoric of hate, it doesn’t come from nowhere. It’s not being made up of whole cloth. . . . I lived a lot in the Muslim world. There is something going on. . . .You are seeing really scary things happening. . . . People see this. . . . They’re scared to death . . . . Do you think the Muslim American community is doing enough to counter this not unreasonable fear?. . . .

The Muslim panelist gave a nuanced answer. Gently challenging the journalist’s premise, he noted that American Muslims had consistently condemned violence committed in the name of Islam. He also referenced research demonstrating the ways in which vested interests often exclude these dissenting voices from the mainstream media.

As news broke on September 12 of the tragic death of several U.S. diplomats in Libya, the absurdity of that journalist’s question stood in stark relief against the words of remorse and outrage pouring in from Muslims around the United States and abroad.

The deaths in Libya came a top a wave of protests sparked by an American-made film depicting the Prophet Mohammad as a child molester and womanizer, among other less than flattering portrayals. In the course of only a few days, demonstrations, which began in Egypt, spread to Libya, Yemen, and other countries in the crudely defined “Muslim world.”

Some analysts have rightly argued that political and economic reasons, rather than mere religious zealotry, provide a better explanation for these recent events. Many Muslims in the United States and elsewhere have, however, largely eschewed this deeper reflective analysis. Instead, they have nudged, hollered, and screamed their unequivocal condemnation of these demonstrations, issuing blanket apologies on behalf of Islam and Muslim-kind. The statements have ranged from self-described rants to finger wagging at Muslims aboard and in the United States to shape up and fly right. There have been Facebook posts galore from ordinary American Muslims apologizing for the actions of their co-religionists and reassuring their fellow citizens that Islam and the majority of Muslims do not subscribe to the violent behaviors on display. Twitter campaigns were created to transmit these messages far and wide. American Muslim advocacy organizations gave interviews, issued formal statements, and held press conferences to ensure the condemnations and apologies received a national forum.

Perhaps the most poignant gestures of remorse came from Muslims abroad, including photos of hand-written messages of sadness and apology from ordinary Libyans to people in the United States. My journalist neighbor of a few weeks ago could not have asked the global Muslim community for more full throated, unequivocal rejection of and apology for the “really scary thing” that had just happened. Of course, the same levels of community outrage had been consistently voiced over the last eleven years as Muslims found themselves increasingly depicted as one undifferentiated mass acting with one hand and thinking with one brain.

Will my journalist neighbor remember this latest round of vocal and impassioned condemnation from the global Muslim community? Probably not. Will she and others continue to demand that Muslims around the world take responsibility for the actions of those who act in Islam’s name? Sadly, it’s likely. Will many Muslims in America and other places continue to oblige these expectations? Unfortunately, all signs point to yes.

Of course, violence, whether religiously affiliated or not, should be condemned. There are, however, numerous problems with Muslims in the United States and around the world assuming culpability for actions taken by those acting under the titular banner of Islam. Let us put aside the many ways in which these expectations undermine meaningful conversation about the factors contributing to these incidents and the stereotypes they reinforce about Islam’s so-called “violent” tendencies.

Let us, instead, consider how these pressures perpetuate and continue cycles of violence and discrimination in the West and the Middle East.

Bigotry meets violence when essentialist and reductivist attitudes hold sway and connections are unquestioningly created between the acts of the individual and the identity of entire nations, ethnicities, or global religious communities.

These sorts of unreflective, one-dimensional approaches to complex global events set the stage for the murder of innocent individuals at the Oak Creek Sikh temple, the burning of a mosque in Joplin, Tennessee only hours after the Wisconsin shooting, and the controversy surrounding the building of an Islamic community center near Ground Zero several years ago.

The same tendencies also mark the embassy attacks. Those protesting the film assigned blanket blame to the United States for an inconsequential movie that happened to have an American pedigree. There is no indication that the film was financed by the U.S. government or was anything other than privately produced. It has, nevertheless, undoubtedly been used, in part, as a proxy for political grievances with the U.S. government. Its utility aside, that a private American film could be painted with such a broad-brush speaks to the destructive reductivist tendencies at play.

Those fanning the flames of hatred against the United States and the West share much in common with those holding Islam’s adherents responsible for the actions of their fellow believers. Muslims who give in and accept this culpability give further credence, however unintentional, to the collapsing of diversity and difference and the reinforcement of bigotry and hatred.

Through their well-intentioned efforts, they reduce the actions of the few to the guilt of the many. They blur distinctions between individual, particularized motives and universal religious identity. It’s no wonder that their outrage and apologies do little to appease perceptions about the Muslim community’s failure to “speak out”. Actions, as they say, are louder than words. If “they” were truly sorry, wouldn’t these attacks end?

Of course, confronting the dominant narrative on Muslim culpability is as daunting as it is important. A media industry that largely ignores challenges to this narrative coupled with a vocal minority eager to paint American Muslims as a fifth column represent only some of the obstacles.

Hoping perhaps to improve perceptions of their community, it is understandable if shortsighted that many Muslim leaders in the United States have chosen to accept this narrative of blame. It, nevertheless, remains necessary to chip away at these expectations not only for Muslims, who are its more obvious victims, but also for all Americans who hope to confront and overcome bigotry and the violence it engenders.

Writing a few weeks after September 11th, the great cultural critic, Edward Said, captured the intimate connections between and destructive effects of the various forms and sources of cultural reductivism:

How finally inadequate are the labels, generalizations and cultural assertions. At some level, for instance, primitive passions and sophisticated know-how converge in ways that give the lie to a fortified boundary not only between ‘West’ and ‘Islam’ but also between past and present, us and them, to say nothing of the very concepts of identity and nationality about which there is unending disagreement and debate. A unilateral decision made to draw lines in the sand, to undertake crusades, to oppose their evil with our good, to extirpate terrorism and, in Paul Wolfowitz’s nihilistic vocabulary, to end nations entirely, doesn’t make the supposed entities any easier to see; rather, it speaks to how much simpler it is to make bellicose statements for the purpose of mobilizing collective passions than to reflect, examine, sort out what it is we are dealing with in reality, the interconnectedness of innumerable lives, ‘ours’ as well as ‘theirs.’

These are not tendencies unique to Muslims or Americans or the current geopolitical world we find ourselves in. Rather, they are trends that are deeply rooted in human history. Instead of throwing our hands up in alarm and frustration at their continued strength, we must stop empowering these perspectives. This means ending the cycle of guilt and apologetics that reinforces destructive stereotypes and misdirects responsibility and blame.

We should all be sorry whenever narrow-mindedness defeats empathy, and violence wins out over acceptance. We should not, however, apologize or take responsibility for these defeats on the basis of a shared ethnic, religious, or national background. Instead, our responsibility lies in ending the cycle of intolerance and cultural essentialism that allows those defeats to continue.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

[-] 1 points by Builder (4202) 10 years ago

Stay out of the subways. Just ask the British.

This is a US exposure video of the 7/7 bombings.


[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5909) 10 years ago

Backlash Culture: White Supremacy and the Music of Hatred

Friday, 21 September 2012 00:00 By Arthur Goldwag, Truthout | Op-Ed


For the angry right, hatred is a symphony of duplicity, orchestrated by turning the truth on its head - which is how they came to compose an operatic backlash in which a rampaging neo-Nazi was transformed into an insidious tool of the left.

When Wade Michael Page gunned down half a dozen Sikh worshippers and a police officer at a temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin on August 5, 2012, only a handful of writers on the conspiracist fringe were shameless and/or ingenious enough to blame the left. After all, Page was literally a rock star in the neo-Nazi white supremacist world: He sang and played lead guitar in the racist hardcore band End Apathy, and had formerly played with Youngland, Celtic Warrior, Radikahl, Max Resist, Intimidation One, Aggressive Force and the Blue-Eyed Devils.

Still, some tried. In a breathtakingly bizarre essay at the American Spectator, former Reagan White House political director Jeffrey Lord pointed to the "leftist roots of not only the all-white Ku Klux Klan ... but the history of the Nazis," concluding that Page, like Hitler and Obama, was a socialist, "and violence in the name of socialism, much less anything further left on the ideological scale, has been as routine as hot weather in July. This is what the left does."

Over at the reliably tin hat Prison Planet, Kurt Nimmo suggested that Page was an unwitting participant in a psy ops scheme to discredit gun owners and the far right. "Is it possible the SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center) is somehow connected?" he asked. "In 2005, court papers revealed that the supposed anti-racist organization ran an 'informant' (informant and agent provocateur are often interchangeable) at Elohim City prior to the bombing of the [Alfred P.] Murrah Federal Building in 1995."

Few paid them any heed.

But when an apparently left-leaning, gay-friendly maniac opened fire on a security guard at the Family Research Council's (FRC) Washington, DC, headquarters on August 15, FRC president Tony Perkins was quick to take advantage of the opportunity to turn the tables on one of his most bothersome adversaries.

Back in 2010, the SPLC had dubbed the FRC a hate group because of its demonization of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people. "I'm not saying that the Southern Poverty Law Center is responsible for the shooting," Perkins averred, before going on to assert just that. "They are responsible for creating an environment that led to yesterday's shooting."

Later that day, at a press conference, he remarked that the SPLC had given the gunman a "license to shoot an unarmed man." The MSM (mainstream media) dutifully followed up with any number of hair-splitting think pieces about whether putting a "mainstream" Christian organization in the same category as neo-Nazis or the KKK wasn't going too far. "Though all hate groups are not equal," Newsweek's David Sessions temporized, "it remains difficult to draw a clear line where propaganda that demonizes an entire class of people - gays, African-Americans, Jews, Muslims, immigrants - becomes hate."

Still, one can't help but note the irony that an organization that literally defines itself by its animus against homosexuals ("President Obama's Administration has aggressively promoted a homosexual agenda ... homosexual or bisexual men are approximately ten times more likely to molest children than heterosexual men," its web site proclaims) would deem itself blameless when gay people are the targets of unprovoked violence, but flaunt its victimhood when a deranged gunman targets them.

It's the way of things. A year ago, when journalists at, "The New York Times, NBC, the BBC, CNN, the Washington Post, many European publications, and a host of others" saw fit to mention that the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik's manifesto quoted the anti-Islamic bigots Robert Spencer and Pam Geller, the two were so outraged that they cast themselves as victims of "an unrelenting campaign of vilification." They were not haters at all, they insisted, just bearers of a politically unpalatable message. In Geller's oft-quoted catchphrase, "the truth is the new hate speech."

On March 23, 2012, Barack Obama ventured some unscripted remarks on the Trayvon Martin killing. "I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this," he said.

Then he added 11 explosive words: "If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin." Though his own presidential campaign was on its last legs, Newt Gingrich's reaction was as swift as it was disingenuous. "Any young American of any ethnic background should be safe period," he expostulated. "Is the president suggesting that if it had been a white who had been shot that would be ok because it didn't look like him?"

And that was just the beginning. Seven birthers were invited to speak at the Republican Convention in Tampa. The super PAC FightBigotry.com is running ads that purport to connect the dots to explain "the one political vulnerability of President Obama that no one else has the stomach to bring up ... his disturbing, yet crystal-clear pattern of tacitly defending black racism against white folks." Whether it is Tony Perkins turning the tables on the SPLC, or the Republican opposition researchers behind the Fightbigotry PAC painting the nation's first multi-racial president as a racist, the trick is to turn the imputation of hatred into a graver offense than the hatred itself.

It has ever been thus. Back in 1964, the Mormon leader and ex-Eisenhower official Ezra Taft Benson was devastated that the media had made so little of Oswald's leftist associations. "Communist leaders spread the word that the slaying of the president must have been the work of American conservatives," he wrote.

Moscow has conducted a three-year propaganda campaign to make American conservatives look like hysterical fanatics. It has called them 'rightists,' 'extremists' and even 'fascists....' Even after Oswald was captured and identified as a Moscow-associated communist, there were those who insisted that any who had opposed the president during his term of high office was guilty of that same 'spirit of hate' as that which led to the president's death. This line of thinking was expressed by a number of prominent persons through the press, radio and TV. To me it was incomprehensible.

For the populist right, hatred is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they can foment it, calling up images of welfare queens, New Black Panthers, pedophiles, sexually promiscuous women, avaricious Jewish bankers, scimitar-wielding infidels, latte-sipping snobs, bomb-hurling anarchists, UN-flagged Agenda 21 enforcers, black helicopters, black Democrats and any and every other paranoid, Pavlovian boogeyman that will rally the disorderly congeries of the right.

On the other, they can take extravagant offense at the merest imputation of hate-mongering, turning their opponents' words against them. Just listen to Romney himself, in Chillicothe, Ohio, on August 19: "Mr. President, take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago and let us get about rebuilding and reuniting America."

I have quoted Thomas Frank's maxim about the angry right a thousand times, but until I can think of a better way to put it, I'll quote it again: "Indignation is the great aesthetic principle of backlash culture," he wrote. "Voicing the fury of the imposed upon is to the backlash, what the guitar solo is to heavy metal."

The election is just two months away. Enjoy the music, everybody.

Copyright, Truthout.

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5909) 10 years ago

International Peace Day From Kabul, Afghanistan
Friday, 21 September 2012 11:14 By Johnny Barber, Z Communications | Op-Ed


On this International Day of Peace I am sitting in Kabul, Afghanistan with a handful of youth that want nothing but peaceful coexistence in their lives. This in some respects is like a dream because their entire lives have been surrounded by war, death, corruption, and struggle. Peace has been in short supply. For three years the Afghan Peace Volunteers have worked to develop friendships across ethnic lines in Kabul and various provinces throughout Afghanistan. The work has been difficult, trust is hard to come by in this war torn land, but they are adamant that non-violence is the only way forward. I have sat with similar groups in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq, America and Israel. Rarely are their voices heard over the drums of war. Established in 1981, by the United Nations General Assembly, the International Day of Peace was to coincide with its opening session. The first Peace Day was observed on September 21st, 1982. In 1982 the Soviet Union was increasing its troop presence in Afghanistan and facing fierce fighting throughout the provinces. Truthout combats corporatization by bringing you trustworthy news: click here to join the effort.

Thirty years later Afghanistan is still at war. The opponents have changed, and the weaponry has changed. The War on Terror, Armored Humvees, IED’s, suicide bombers, night raids, smart bombs, and drones have all entered the American lexicon. The constant through all these years is the suffering of the non-combatants. Just this week, a van was blown up by an IED in southern Helmand province, killing 9 women and 3 children. No group has claimed responsibility for the blast. A drone strike before dawn in Laghman Province killed 8 women gathering firewood and injured 8 more. I spoke with a father of six children in ParwanSa refugee camp. He has been an Internally Displaced Person for 11 years, living in a small mud-brick enclosure with a plastic, canvas, and cardboard roof. I asked if the government had offered any assistance for the coming winter. He said the government has done nothing; he could only count on God to take care of his family. Oct 7th will mark the 11th anniversary of America’s war in Afghanistan. 11 years and $550 billion dollars later, peace is still elusive. The war has pushed the Taliban out of power, but the current government is full of the very same warlords that were carving up Afghanistan prior to the Taliban’s rise. These “representatives” have very little backing among the people, mainly because they have continued to line their pockets while their constituents suffer. The call for peace may fill their speeches, but to work for peace distracts from their income.

The International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) as well as the Afghan Army and Afghan Police force, often employing strong-arm tactics, struggle to bring a semblance of security to the countryside. Security in Kabul is tentative as well, with suicide bombings and armed attacks on the rise. On Sept 18th, a woman rammed a car full of explosives into a van containing 9 foreign workers, killing herself, all 9 foreigners, their Afghan translator, as well as passerby. While temporary security may be imposed with an iron fist, peace cannot be forced.

On Sept 19th, an Afghan holiday in the remembrance of the death of Burhanuddin Rabbani, a warlord turned “peace envoy” who was killed by a suicide bomber in his home, President Hamid Karzai called on Afghans to pursue peace. A generation that has known nothing but war has little faith in government calls for peace while the very same government loots the country. The government led peace initiative seems to have died with Rabbani a year ago.

The past week has been disastrous for Afghans, and points towards more mayhem in the future. While profits are still being generated for arms suppliers, reconstruction experts, and contractors, peace has not been generated for anyone. In America, peace is never spoken of outside the context of war or security. In Obama’s acceptance speech in Charlotte, he mentioned America’s “pursuit of peace” exactly once, shortly after getting cheers for claiming, “Osama bin Laden is dead.”

A partial list of American military involvement since 1982 includes Lebanon, Grenada, Chad, Libya, Honduras, Bolivia, Columbia, Peru, Philippines, Panama, Iraq, Kuwait, Somalia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Haiti, Serbia, Afghanistan (currently, America’s longest war), Sudan, Iraq (again, after years of crippling sanctions that killed half a million children), and Libya (again). This is not an exhaustive list, it doesn’t include covert attacks, special operations, or America’s special relationship with Israel, which has rained down horror on Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza. Israeli drones continue to kill people in Gaza on a nearly weekly basis. American drones are currently killing people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Syria and Iran loom on the horizon, with American threats of intervention and war ramping up. Death is a top American export.

On the anniversary of Sept 11th, a hate filled Anti-Islam movie trailer was a catalyst sparking widespread protests and attacks across the world, leading to 30 deaths. On Sept 19th a French Satirical newspaper, under the guise of “free speech” released vulgar cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad (Peace be Upon Him) adding fuel to an already volatile fire. Peace Day is likely to be fraught with violence, like most any other day.

Yet, on this International Day of Peace groups will come together around the world (and yes, even in Afghanistan) to promote peace, cooperation, friendship and love. These efforts are necessary, if for no other reason then to remind people peace is an option, a possibility, and a personal responsibility. It is necessary to counter the flames of hatred. It is necessary to be inspired by those who walked this path before us. It is necessary for our sanity as human beings. As the darkness of our violence prone world threatens to overwhelm us, it is necessary to dance, to sing, to laugh, and to open our minds to creative opportunities to live in harmony with our world. It is necessary to stand together for even just one day and say, “No, just because you have superior firepower, or can rain down hell fire missiles, or fly planes into buildings, I will not be swayed, I will not live in fear. Your sickness will not persuade me, infect me, or deter me.” In this electoral season, choosing between Obama and Romney is a huge distraction, there is real work to be done. Our perverse system of endless war needs to be dismantled, our culture realigned. We need to begin again. War is over. Peace is the path.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

[-] 0 points by LeoYo (5909) 10 years ago

Using freedom of speech as an excuse to fan the flames of provocation will only result in many more chickens coming home to roost.