Hamas and the old/new American crescent

Hamas and the old/new American crescent

MWC News, Aug. 20, 2012

If the outcome of the so-called “Arab Spring” has been the accession to power of the Muslim Brothers in Egypt and a similar Islamist movement in Tunisia, and the strengthening of sectarian and tribalist jihadists in the guise of “fighters for democracy” in Libya and Syria (the temporary defeat of the Bahraini and Yemeni peoples’ uprisings notwithstanding), the recent admission of Hamas to the ranks of forces that not only do not threaten American interests in the region, but also would like to work to enhance them is a notable transformation.

Qatar has been the mover and shaker in this battle to extend and upgrade the informal international legitimacy that Hamas has in the eyes of the people of the region and Third World allies to the official level of Arab and Western governments. That Hamas, with Qatari support, was the first Islamist party in the Arab world that won a solid electoral victory in 2006 did not serve to grant it the legitimacy it deserved in the eyes of the United States, the most formidable anti-democratic force in the region and the world.

Instead, it galvanised the US, Israel and the collaborationist Palestinian Authority to stage a coup against it to deprive it of that victory. Having understood that the electoral strategy failed to have Hamas replace Fateh at the helm of the PA, Qatar and the top leadership of Hamas realised that the “Arab Spring” offers important new opportunities in this regard.

Slowly but surely, Hamas was pulled out of Syria and is being fully taken out of the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah alliance that threatens US-Israeli-Saudi strategy in the region, not only by transferring its top leadership from Damascus to Qatar, but also through a major rehabilitation effort of Hamas in Jordan, whose King Abdullah had exiled members of the Hamas leadership in 1999 on the orders of the US and Israel.

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Israel, America Bashed at Iranian-Inspired DC Rally

Israel, America Bashed at Iranian-Inspired DC Rally

Investigative Project on Terrorism, Aug. 20, 2012

Claims of Jewish control of the media and American politics and alleged war-mongering by Israel and America dominated speeches Friday at an Iranian-inspired rally in Washington, D.C.

“If you love America, you love lying, you love rape, you love murder, you love killing,” said Abdul Alim Musa, imam of Washington D.C.’s Masjid Al-Islam and head of a separatist movement called As-Sabiqun. “And then, the Zionist, diabolical, sinister Israeli. Nobody in history, they cry about some Holocaust, we had five or ten people get killed.”

Similar rallies were held in New York, Chicago, Detroit and other cities. The rallies were promoted by American University’s Students for Justice in Palestine chapter, and through personal Twitter posts by Cyrus McGoldrick, advocacy director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) New York chapter.

Resolutions adapted by Quds Day organizers endorse Hamas rule and call for a “one-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The “one-state” idea is a non-violent means of eliminating Israel, because the greater number of Palestinians would eliminate Israel as a Jewish state. “We support a peaceful dismantling of the Zionist State and a referendum with participation from the Christians, Jews and Muslims within the present day borders of the Zionist State, as well as participation from Palestinians within the occupied territories and refugee camps scattered across the region in deciding their fate,” a resolution reads.

The resolutions dismiss Palestinian terrorism as “side issues.”

The crowd at Washington’s Dupont Circle was reminded that Quds Day is the creation of Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini. In Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used the day to call for Israel’s elimination, calling it “a cancerous tumor.”

“Many of the problems facing the Muslim world are due to the existence of the Zionist regime,” Ahmadinejad said.

Ahmadinejad’s statements were condemned as “outrageous and hateful” in a rebukefrom European Union foreign affairs director Catherine Ashton. “Israel’s right to exist must not be called into question,” she said.

But Ahmadinejad made similar statements earlier this month, blaming 400 years of problems on “the horrendous Zionist clan” dominating global politics, media and economics. “Any freedom lover and justice seeker in the world must do its best for the annihilation of the Zionist regime in order to pave the path for the establishment of justice and freedom in the world,” he said.

Iran’s Lebanese-based terrorist proxy issued more specific threats Friday, boasting the capability to inflict mass casualties on Israeli civilians.

“Hitting these targets with a small number of rockets will turn … the lives of hundreds of thousands of Zionists to real hell, and we can talk about tens of thousands of dead,” said Hizballah chief Hassan Nasrallah.

Unlike previous Quds Day rallies in Washington, this year’s event featured softer rhetoric and no Hizballah flags. But speakers still pushed anti-Semitic theories and strident anti-Israeli and anti-American rhetoric. A compilation of examples appears below.

“The reality is in this country, the Zionist thugs who manipulate politics and the media as well, they often want us to hide to keep the message of support for the Palestinian people only off to the side,” said Eugene Puryear of the leftist ANSWER Coalition. “And I think it’s very important to note that we will not hide anymore.”

Though Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria continues to slaughter civilians, no speaker mentioned the plight of Syrian citizens. Rather, it is Israel that is responsible for “one of the greatest crimes going on in the world today,” Puryear said. “It is “the most divisive force, really one of the most divisive force (sic), along with the U.S. imperialist government, who are their allies, and the entire world, in sowing strife and destruction, everywhere they go.”

American politics is held hostage by candidates to Jewish interests, said Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin. She said there was no difference between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian issue or on whether to attack Iran to stop its nuclear weapons program. That’s because “both of them [are] pandering for the votes of a very small minority of people in the United States and [are] really looking for money for their campaigns.”

Mauri Saalakhan, a writer and conspiracy theorist, discussed a poster showing Muslims either imprisoned for terrorism-related convictions or killed in U.S. drone strikes to argue that “the devastation that is taking place in Muslim lands, in occupied Philistine, or as it is commonly known today – Palestine, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Somalia, in Yemen, in Pakistan and many of these other countries in the international community – It is also taking place here in America.”

Defense attorney Lynn Stewart, who was convicted of helping her client, blind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahmansend messages to other terrorists, is imprisoned “because she was willing to represent Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman a little too effectively,” Saalakhan claimed. Abdel-Rahman is considered the spiritual leader behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and was convicted in a subsequent plot to bomb New York City tunnels and landmarks.

Others on the poster include “Lady al-Qaida” Aafia Siddiqui, Palestinian Islamic Jihad board member Sami Al-ArianLuqman Abdullah – a Detroit imam killed by FBI agents trying to arrest him after he opened fire first, blind, al-Qaida cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, and Ali al-Tamimi who was convicted of urging followers to fight American troops following 9/11.

But it was Musa who was the most explicit, placing Israel in a “triangle of terror” along with the United States and Saudi Arabia. Terrorism by al-Qaida and the Taliban are ruses, he said, called in “any time there is an internal need to subvert the Muslims” and to justify killing Muslims and destroying Islam.

Musa made similar comments Friday in an appearance on Press TV, Iran’s English-language media outlet, discussing the “triangle of terror” and Israel’s control over the global media. Press TV also did a feature report on Friday’s rally.

Quds Day is a hate fest centered on a call to destroy an existing country. The speakers in Dupont Circle may have been more subtle than Ahmadinejad and Nasrallah, but their message, made clear in resolutions, was no less violent. It’s not about Israeli policies. It is Israel’s very existence that they want eliminated.


Bashar al-Assad attends Eid prayers in Damascus – video

Bashar al-Assad attends Eid prayers in Damascus – video

The Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, makes his first public appearance in six weeks, attending Eid prayers at a Damascus mosque. Assad hasn’t been seen in public since a bombing in the Syrian capital last month that killed the defence minister and three other top security officials.

Dr. Zuhdi Jasser: The Battle for the Soul of Islam

Dr. Zuhdi Jasser: The Battle for the Soul of Islam

August 13, 2012, Jeanette Pryor Blog

Last night I began to read A Battle for the Soul of Islam by Zuhdi Jasser, a physician who founded the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. Jasser, a physician and former U.S. Naval officer, brings a great deal of clarity to a very sensitive and sometimes confusing question, the distinctions between Radical political and Moderate spiritual Islam.

There are many excellent books and documentaries about the real threat we face from Radical Islam including The Third Jihad, a film Dr. Jasser narrates, that exposes the systematic objectives of the Muslim Brotherhood for the radicalization of Islam in America. Jasser’s greatest contribution might be his clarifications concerning Moderate Islam.

Daily experience clearly shows a differentiation between radical and normal Muslims; those who seek to impose Sharia upon others through violence and those who go about their own lives without a desire to force this conviction upon anyone.

I had, before reading Battle,  adopted too academic an understanding of this question. Many books about Radical Islam and Antisemitism in the Muslim world pore over the original texts and history of Mohammad’s life to document their essentially militaristic proselytism and misogyny.

Reading Jasser’s book and watching the Third Jihad, I realized that it is very easy, as it was for me in the past, to consider this in too academic a fashion. Authors I read concluded that since Islam appeared to be essentially violent or essentially political, then those Muslims who lived a purely spiritual form of Islam were not really Muslims, simply interpreting the faith to suit their own needs.

Even if all the scholarship in the world demonstrated that Islam has been more frequently interpreted in a legalistic or literal manner, it is not the texts or even the life of Mohammad that determine how Islam is lived, but the individuals who embrace it.  You cannot, as I formerly and erroneously did, conclude that because texts and history are being used to support violence, there is no such thing as Moderate Islam. Just because exegetes can demonstrate the legitimacy of a radical interpretation of Islam, this cannot mean that Islam is itself a necessarily radicalizing philosophy since so many, like Jasser, find in Islam the inspiration for a life of service to others and respect for their fellow-man.

Jasser’s book implores fellow Muslims not to give the narrative of their faith to the terrorists or the academics, but to become the voice of the non-politicized true Moderate Islam that is lived everyday in the real world. In Battle for the Soul of Islam, the author advocates a form of Islam that would be a social organizing principle implemented through force. Since he rejects the idea and practices that enslave women to men or permit abuse, Zuhdi retains the humanitarian and charitable exhortations in the texts of his faith. This personal and non-coercive form of Islam, he states, is precisely what is meant by Muslims who consider themselves to be “moderate.”

Jasser speaks of “separation of mosque and state” as the defining element of moderate Islam, the forgoing of any attempt to use the government to promote the imposition of Sharia on others. This is profoundly different from Radical Muslims who dream of precisely that, to have all freedoms denied to those who do not wish to live according to Sharia. Because Jasser sees the daily machinations of political Islam in our country to slowly bend our laws to the process of social Islamization, he calls on fellow-Muslims who do not want this form of Islam to gain control of the public space.

Human beings and our ideas are complex, not easily reduced to definitions or clear-cut categorizing. I owe a great debt of gratitude to Dr. Jasser for his work because I  have a better understanding of Muslims who do not wish to live a literal form of Islam and respect for the subjective desire they have to live a peaceful version of their faith.

Egypt’s Mursi accused of stifling dissent in media crackdown

By Yasmine Saleh, Reuters, Fri, Aug 17

CAIRO (Reuters) – A media crackdown in the first month of Mohamed Mursi’s rule has raised fears Egypt’s Islamist president is moving to stifle criticism of the Muslim Brotherhood.

This week, formal accusations by state prosecutors were filed against two journalists, while an issue of the newspaper al-Dostour was confiscated by the state’s censorship unit – disappointing those who believed last year’s overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak would lead to greater media freedom.

Mursi, who resigned from the Muslim Brotherhood when he was elected in June, saying he wanted to represent all Egyptians, has also named Salah Abdel Maqsood, a former colleague from the Islamist group, as information minister.

“The Brotherhood’s recent actions against the media are harsh and unacceptable and tell us that we are going backwards and that things are managed the same way they were during Mubarak’s time,” rights activist Gamal Eid told Reuters.

The crackdown on media is also worrying the United States, which for years has secured the loyalty of one of the Arab world’s most influential states with substantial financial aid, now running at about $1.55 billion a year.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on Thursday that Washington was “concerned by reports that the Egyptian government is moving to restrict media freedom and criticism in Egypt.”

The Brotherhood has repeatedly denied any intention to censor opinion, saying it wants only to stop media reports which might incite violence or unrest, or which personally insult the president.

“Those who filed the complaints against the journalists with the public prosecutor are not all from the Brotherhood. There were also ordinary people upset about the disgusting insults that some media have been publicizing,” Brotherhood spokesman Mahmoud Ghozlan told Reuters.

One of the two charged journalists is Islam Afifi, the editor of the daily al-Dostour newspaper, whose August 11 issue was confiscated. Afifi was sent to a criminal court after the state’s public prosecutor charged him with insulting Mursi and inciting the overthrow of Egypt’s ruling system.

The other one is Tawfiq Okasha, owner and the main host of an Egyptian television channel called Al-Faraeen who was also sent to a criminal court on accusations of inciting people to kill Mursi and insulting him. The prosecutor ordered the channel be taken off air.

Al-Faraeen TV channel is privately owned by Okasha, a strong opponent of Mursi and Islamists. Okasha had previously said in one of his talkshows that Mursi and his group “deserve to get killed”.

A Brotherhood lawyer also filed a complaint on Wednesday with a state prosecutor, accusing three prominent editors of Egyptian dailies including Afifi of insulting Mursi.

“I accused them of insulting the president and spreading false information that could destroy the state and create panic among the people,” lawyer Ismail al-Washahy told Reuters. “Most of what they published had nothing to do with media but were pure insults with no proof,” he added.


The issue of Dostour newspaper that was banned ran on its front page a long list of accusations against the Brotherhood. It said the group was leading Egypt to “its worst decades … filled with killing and bloodshed.”

Afifi accused the Brotherhood of trying to stifle dissent. “It is an orchestrated campaign against the media by the Muslim Brotherhood. They want to silence any opposition to their policies,” Al-Ahram online news website quoted him as saying.

An earlier issue of Dostour released on June 21, before the results of the presidential elections were announced, ran a front-page article accusing the Brotherhood of planning a “massacre in Egypt” if Mursi lost.

The newspaper was bought three years ago by the Wafd Liberal party, a party whose critics said allowed itself to be used as a “friendly opposition” under Mubarak while the Brotherhood was officially banned.

Many Egyptians were upset with the media after the revolution which toppled Mubarak, saying it had misunderstood the responsibility that comes with media freedom. Some said journalists had often crossed the line in making personal insults and accusations without proof.

However, many critics are asking for a mechanism to implement a code of ethics, rather than taking criminal action against journalists.

“There are certainly violations in the media, but there are also ways to punish journalists other than dragging them to courts or prisons,” rights activist Eid said.

Three Egyptian columnists including prominent novelist Youssef El-Qaeed said earlier this month their columns had been removed by a new committee of editors used to supervise state-run newspapers for including anti-Brotherhood opinions.

The editors were chosen by the upper house of parliament, which is dominated by the Brotherhood and other Islamist groups.

Others left their columns empty in protest at the selection of the new editors.

“This white space… is in protest against the Muslim Brotherhood’s conquest over the newspapers and media outlets that belong to the Egyptian people,” columnist Gamal Fahmy wrote on the top of his empty column in al-Tahrir newspaper on August9.

(Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell; in Washington; Editing by Myra MacDonald)

Kidnapping, Spats on Docket of Syria Rebel Boss

Kidnapping, Spats on Docket of Syria Rebel Boss
By CHARLES LEVINSON, August 17, 2012, The Wall Street Journal

QOBTAN JEBEL, Syria—One morning this week, Sheik Tawfeeq Shehab Eddin replaced his AK-47 with a Bic pen and took up his post behind a metal desk.

Mr. Shehab Eddin is one of the four rural commanders of the Tawheed Division, an Islamist-dominated umbrella force that is leading Syrian rebels’ fight around the country’s largest city, Aleppo, against forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. Their division has driven pro-Assad forces from much of the Aleppan countryside and some of Aleppo. On Friday, division fighters fought regime tanks near the city’s airport.

The regime’s pullout from much of the countryside last month has left the Tawheed Division as the area’s army, government and police. That is why on Wednesday, Mr. Shehab Eddin and his aides spent some 14 hours hashing out questions about their next deployment to the front line in Aleppo, scrambling to defuse a flare-up with a neighboring Kurdish village and mediating petty disputes between villagers.

“We commanders have been forced to take on all the problems confronting our villages,” he said, adding that elected leaders should eventually take that over. “The role I am playing now is bigger than myself.”

Similar makeshift governments are springing up in villages across Aleppo province’s countryside, providing interim courts, keeping basic services running, managing finances and distributing aid shipments.

Many of the rebel courts have taken on an Islamic bent. Tawheed Division commanders forbid the torture of detainees. But that ban doesn’t include whipping the soles of detainees’ feet, Tawheed commander Abdel Aziz Salama told several people, including a Human Rights Watch team.

Another group of Tawheed fighters executed four members of an Aleppan family accused of funding and running a hated pro-Assad militia accused of keeping iron-fisted control over restive areas. The division’s field commander, Abdel Qader Saleh, told The Wall Street Journal that the four men were given a battlefield trial before they were killed.

Here in Qobtan Jebel, a pinprick village of century-old stone walled homes in the hills west of Aleppo, Mr. Shehab Eddin’s word is law, at least for now. Before the uprising, the self-taught sheik—also known by his nom du guerre, Abu Soleiman—preached covertly to a small following in an adjacent village about the Syrian regime’s ills.

The sheik’s morning began when two of his fighters brought in a young man they had stopped at a checkpoint with seven jerry cans of gasoline in his car. The commodity is in short supply. The fighters suspected the man might be a smuggler. A couple quick questions satisfied the sheik, who ordered him freed with his fuel.

The next visitor pleaded for the release of a detainee accused of working as a regime informant in the village. The sheik was unmoved. “We have two witnesses and evidence against him,” he said, drawing X’s, O’s and spiral doodles on a blank sheet of paper as he listened.

Next came a stringy youth who said he had just defected from the Syrian army. He was brusquely questioned by the sheik’s aide, Ali al-Haji, a 28-year-old former tank commander with a degree in Islamic law.

The fidgety defector, 20-year-old Ahmed al-Latouf, said he had served as an army mortar man. “There’s no mobiles phones, no television,” he said. “No one knows anything and they believe what their officers tell them—that we are fighting criminal gangs and terrorists.”

The sheik concurred. “We know our brothers in the army have been lied to and brainwashed,” he said, admitting the youth into the ranks of rebel fighters, who elsewhere could be seen doing calisthenics and training with rocket-propelled grenades.

A fighter rushed in. A resident of Qobtan Jebel, he said, had that morning kidnapped a resident of a nearby Kurdish village and was demanding ransom. In retaliation, the Kurds kidnapped four village men.

Kurdish villages dot the local countryside, and relations have cooled since Syria’s civil war took a sectarian turn. With police gone, crime is a growing concern. Rebel commanders say a flare-up now in Kurd relations would play into regime hands. “We’ll call the Kurdish leaders, set up a meeting and solve the problem,” said Mr. Haji.

Next in line was a man from Aleppo who had raised funds for Mr. Shehab Eddin’s brigade, which fought in Aleppo’s Salaheddin neighborhood for 14 days but withdrew last week after supplies wore thin. The fundraiser demanded an explanation for the withdrawal. “We couldn’t stand it anymore. We weren’t getting enough help,” the aide, Mr. Haji, explained, eager not to alienate a supporter.

A group of villagers stormed in waving handguns and assault rifles. A fighter had commandeered their car to ferry supplies to the front, but sold it instead. They vowed revenge.

“Don’t do a thing until I have a chance to look into this,” Mr. Haji said. “Are you really going to kill someone over a car?”

“We spend a lot of time dealing with petty issues while fighting a war at the same time,” Mr. Haji said after they left. “But if you don’t listen to everyone, we’ll lose the people and then the revolution.”

As the sun set, Mr. Haji retired to his commander’s walled residence where he lives with his three wives and 15 children. They broke the Ramadan fast, silently using flatbread to scoop lentil soup, hummus and tuna fish out of metal bowls.

“We’ll set an ambush for the guy who kidnapped the Kurd, and we’ll turn him over to the Kurds, in exchange for our men back,” he said, reclining on a pillow on the cement floor, scrubbing his teeth with a twig. He dispatched a patrol to find the suspected kidnapper. “The regime wants us to fight among ourselves. We can’t allow this to happen,” he said.

A village elder with a long graying beard and a handgun strapped to his side dropped by to pay his respects. He said he was arrested in 1977 as part of the regime’s crackdown on suspected Muslim Brothers and served 15 years in prison. In Aleppo’s countryside, the rebellion is fueled by memories of that crackdown. Men every village, it seems, can recite the names of men who were killed, or disappeared into regime prisons or were forced into exile during that crackdown.

Before midnight, a messenger arrived to say the kidnapped Kurd had been released. The captor—who said he was on orders from a different rebel leader—panicked when he realized he was being hunted down by both Kurdish and rebel militias. Mr. Haji characterized the other rebel commander as a rogue—”a criminal with a gang posing as a brigade in the name of the Free Army,” he said with a sigh.

“We have enough problems,” the sheik told the messenger. “We don’t need problems with the Kurds. This is not in our interests. This is something that can never happen again.”

Reliant event for Muslims will have lots of security

Reliant event for Muslims will have lots of security

By Anita Hassan, Friday, August 17, 2012, chron.com

On Sunday at Reliant Arena, there will be undercover police roaming the crowds, officers on horseback, even some in a helicopter circling the premises. Not to mention scores of uniformed officers walking the property. The scene sounds something more like the kind of security measures for a presidential convoy.

But they are actually safety measures being taken at the Islamic Society of Greater Houston‘s Eid Al-Fitr prayer, a celebration for a holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting.

“When these incidents happen, of course it’s wise to take precautions rather than feel sorry later on,” said Aziz Siddiqi, ISGH president, whose organization hosts the largest Eid prayer in the city, usually drawing between 30,000 and 50,000 people and held this year at the arena.

Advisory distributed

Siddiqi is referring to at least eight acts of violence or vandalism that have occurred at mosques around the country in recent weeks and have put Muslims throughout the nation on edge.

While many local mosques generally employ off-duty police at large events, this year, some Houston Muslim community leaders say they are beefing up security efforts at locations where the morning Eid prayers will be held.

The Houston chapter of Council on American-Islamic Relations sent out a safety advisory this week, encouraging spiritual and community leaders to take extra precautions during the last days of Ramadan and Eid.

“We don’t want to make people deathly afraid, but we want people to be aware of what’s going on in society,” said Mustafaa Carroll, president of the Houston CAIR chapter.

The most recent incident occurred Thursday at a Chicago-area cemetery where hate graffiti was scrawled on several Muslim headstones. Other incidents in Illinois included a shooting at a mosque where several people were praying at the time and an “acid” bomb thrown at an Islamic school.

Other incidents around the country included a mosque burned to the ground in Missouri; an Oklahoma mosque sprayed with paintballs; pigs legs thrown at a mosque site in California; and a firebomb hurled at a Muslim family’s home in Panama City, Fla.

Houston has not seen any attacks recently. The last known incident was an arson fire in May at Madrasah Islamiah, a southwest Houston mosque. It is still unknown if the fire was a hate crime. However, Carroll said it is still a good idea for Muslim community leaders to be on alert.

Early inspection

CAIR officials recommended community leaders take security measures, such as reaching out to local law enforcement to request stepped-up patrols near mosques and installing surveillance cameras, alarms and perimeter lighting.

At the Clear Lake Islamic Center, which has a congregation of about 600 to 700 people, mosque officials have decided to take just a few extra precautions on the morning of Eid. Along with securing a police presence – normal at most large events – some officials will come in early to scope out the premises, said Gehad Olabi, 27, a board member at the center.

Olabi, who works in safety and quality for an oil and gas company, said that for nearly a year, mosque officials have been implementing an emergency action plan that not only includes safety guidelines in case of natural disaster or fire, but also what steps to take in instances of vandalism or a shooting incident.

No special plans

Some local Muslim leaders do not feel the need to take extra security measures.

Imam El-Sayed Mohamed, who leads the congregation at El-Farouk, a west Houston mosque, said they will have a police presence during the Eid celebration, but not any more than normal.

“We believe that we have no problems with anybody,” he said. “We believe the majority of the society we live in believes in freedom of religion.”

Iran Accuses Arab Royalty of Hypocrisy over Syria

Iran Accuses Arab Royalty of Hypocrisy over Syria

August 16, 2012, The Hindu

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has rapped the Gulf Arab monarchies for seeking reforms in Syria without applying the same standards of openness for themselves.

Iran’s Press TV quoted Mr. Ahmadinejad as saying in Makkah on the sidelines of a summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) that he “was surprised in this summit [to see] that the kings of some countries were speaking against Syria while the majority of their own people do not want them [to rule].”

The Iranian President made the comment on Wednesday during a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul. Rejecting double standards, Mr. Ahmadinejad said that he was “of course waiting to see when these reforms will reach the other countries in the region”.

During the conference, Mr. Ahmadinejad warned fellow Muslim countries in the 57-nation OIC not to fall in the trap that had been laid out for them by the region’s “enemies”.

“Today, all of us have entered into a plan without realising it; a plan that has been devised by the enemy. We are showing hostility toward each other without any clear reason and perhaps based on false information and under various personal, ethnic, historical, and even religious pretexts.”

He added that “media warfare has reached its climax” with the aim of sowing divisions among the countries of the region.


Mr. Ahmadinejad warned that without a self-conscious and radical course correction, the domination of Israel and its allies would swamp the entire region.

The Iranian side also slammed the summit’s decision to suspend Syria from the OIC. “Before making any decisions, Syria should have been invited to the summit to discuss and defend its position,” observed Ali Akbar Salehi, Iranian Foreign Minister.

We need a “Zero Tolerance” Policy on Honor Violence

Abid Hussain is a 56 year old cleric who runs a mosque in Manchester, UK. When his sixteen-year old daughter, Rabiyah, refused to marry the boy he chose for her- a cousin living in Pakistan – he beat and attempted to strangle her in the family home just above the mosque. Hussain made it clear that should Rabiyah refuse the marriage, he would kill her. Rabiyah’s brothers, Nawab and Bahaud, assisted their father in brutalizing Rabiyah.

There is no question that Abid Hussain committed unthinkable brutality against his daughter, and there is no doubt that his actions were criminal. What we also know, however, is that what happened to Rabiyah is a clear case of honor-based violence. Honor-based violence punishes a member of the family, usually a female, for actions perceived to bring “shame” or “dishonor” to the family. These “offenses” can include wearing short sleeves,  talking to a member of the opposite sex, refusing an arranged marriage, becoming pregnant outside of marriage, or even being raped. While honor-based violence is not condoned by Islam, it is unfortunately prevalent in many Muslim communities.

Over 5,000 girls and women lose their lives in honor killings every year. Honor killings are the final step in a pattern of abuse that begins with threats and often beatings like the one Rabiyah experienced.

Despite the clear danger Rabiyah Hussain’s father still poses to her safety, Judge Michael Leeming spared him an immediate and serious jail sentence. In a ruling that troubles us deeply, Judge Leeming postponed sentences for Rabiyah’s father and two brothers, referring to her father as a man of “obvious standing,” (as a cleric in the local community), and referring to the brutalization of Rabiyah as an attempt to “coerce” her in to the father’s beliefs.

In taking such a lighthanded approach, Judge Leeming effectively let an attempted murderer, Abid Hussain, and his two accomplices (Rabiyah’s brothers Nawab and Bahaud) off with a warning, on what seem like cultural grounds. What will happen to Rabiyah in the coming days, weeks, and months? Would the judge have treated a case involving non-Muslims differently – and, if so, do the lives of Muslim women and girls matter less in the eyes of this British judge?

Honor-based violence is a problem we in the United States still have yet to address effectively. Earlier this year, the honor beating and near murder of Aiya Al-Tamimi did receive modest media coverage. However, Aiya’s mother, who tied Aiya down, beat her and cut her throat – was also spared a jail sentence. We wrote about Aiya’s case here, and the threat moral relativism poses to the lives of Muslim girls and women. (See television commentary by Dr. Jasser on Aiya’s case here, here, here and here.)


Noor Al-Maleki, murdered by her father in 2009 (Arizona, USA)

Noor Al-Maleki was murdered by her father in Phoenix, Arizona in 2009. Noor’s father, Faleh Al-Maleki, subjected his daughter to long-term torment, ultimately running her over with his Jeep Cherokee for her “western” behavior. Noor had lived in fear of her father for years, even running away from home. Her father, however, was charged with second degree murder rather than first degree (premeditated) murder. At the sentencing, judge Roland Steinle took the opportunity to claim, at great length, that Noor was not murdered for honor – despite Faleh Al-Maleki’s repeated admission that “honor” was absolutely his motivation. (See Dr. Jasser’s comments on this case here.)

The murder of Muslim girls and women is no more understandable or acceptable because of any tribal code of “honor.” Warnings, pleas to assimilate, and passive hope that at some point, Muslim girls and women will be freed from the misogyny of “honor” are not enough. We must work to effectively identify signs of honor-based violence and prevent their brutal and horrifying outcomes.


International Honour Based Violence Resource Centre & Honour-Based Violence Awareness Network 

MEMINI: a memorial site to remember the victims of honor-based violence.

The International Campaign Against Honor Killings

How a freedom-fighting pharmacist showed me the complex truth about Syria’s sectarian conflict

How a freedom-fighting pharmacist showed me the complex truth about Syria’s sectarian conflict

Luke Harding, The Guardian, Mon 13 Aug 2012
The grinding 17-month war is being fought by many different factions, but the battle lines are not as clear as many think
It was 5am, and Mohamad Baree was hiding with his fighters behind a large rock. Some 300 metres away, a column of Syrian army tanks was advancing towards Aleppo through the countryside. The group of rebels were waiting for it. Baree watched. He then set off a powerful roadside bomb. It blew two of the tanks up. The others staged a panicky retreat to their base in the northern city of Idlib.
“From a military point of view the operation was successful,” Baree tells me a week later, as we bump along in the back of his unit’s battle-scarred minivan. Baree, 27, is dressed in khaki fatigues. He carries a Kalashnikov and a pistol. Despite his appearance, he explains that he is actually a pharmacist who has spent seven years living in Odessa; his brother, another fighter in Syria’s revolution, a lawyer.
Syria’s grinding 17-month war has typically been portrayed as a sectarian conflict. In this version, Bashar al-Assad’s embattled Shia Alawite sect – about 10% of the population – is pitted against the country’s Sunni majority. To an extent, this is true. But the reality is more complex. Some of Baree’s co-fighters are members of what could loosely be called the rustic poor – carpenters, decorators, farmers. Others are educated. Baree says that a professor of chemistry has been giving the rebels tips on bomb-making, helping their military effectiveness. There are army defectors, medics, video activists, even information officers.
The sectarian faultlines are blurred as well. Baree acknowledges that his own group of around 150 rebels, from the village of Korkanaya, near Idlib, is predominantly Sunni. But he says many of his friends are Alawite. “We talk over the internet. They don’t like what Bashar is doing either,” he says. Baree says he has broken off with one childhood friend, a Sunni and a local teacher; the teacher had implacably supported the regime ever since Syria’s uprising began in spring 2011.
The situation in Aleppo, Syria’s largest metropolis, engulfed by fighting since July, meanwhile, is also many-layered. Aleppo is one of the most ancient cities on the planet, home to various Christian denominations, historically a large Jewish population, now all fled, as well as wealthy Sunni traders, many favourably disposed to the regime.
In the mountains just outside Aleppo you find the ghostly ruins of Byzantine churches. There are poor Kurdish hamlets. I find the frontline town of Anadan semi-wrecked and abandoned.
One Aleppo resident I speak to, an engineer living in a regime-controlled district, says he supports the revolution. But he admits many of his neighbours don’t. “If I were to generalise I would say the middle class and upper class don’t want the rebels. They want everything to be how it was,” he says. Many poorer Aleppines had welcomed the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA); others viewed it as a bunch of dangerous extremists; almost all were terrified of what the fighting would bring.
According to Baree, Syria’s revolution has little to do with external forces, or Islamist radicalism. It is, he tells me, the product of Syria’s own domestic dynamic and a logical reaction to the brutal behaviour of Assad. Assad had responded to the Arab spring and demands for political reform by arresting, torturing, and shelling his opponents, thus turning a few isolated demonstrations into a mass armed insurrection. “We tried to persuade him through peaceful means. But this didn’t work. So we took up weapons,” Baree says. Some guns from outside were arriving in Syria. But none have reached his unit, he adds.
Our conversation takes place as we drive through Syria’s FSA-controlled north, a rustic mini-empire of villages, silver olive groves and boys herding sheep. Even here, the regime is never that far away. At one point we pass within a kilometre of a government checkpoint – a yellow water tower near the Bab el Hawa border with Turkey. Our driver Mohammad puts his foot down and races through an exposed patch of farmland. “He nearly crashed and killed us yesterday,” Baree says of Mohammad, one of many Sunni defectors from the Syrian army.
Just over the border, I meet Thaer Abboud, an opposition activist who fled to Turkey from Syria last year. Abboud is an Alawite from the Mediterranean coastal town of Latakia. Some observers have suggested that Latakia and its surrounding mountain villages could form an Alawite heartland, with the regime and army retreating from Damascus and setting up their own an impregnable mini-state there. Abboud, however, says that far from being a loyalist Alawite fiefdom Latakia is split. Some 50% of the town oppose Assad, including some Alawis, a number of whom have been persecuted: “It isn’t a matter of Alawis versus Sunnis. It’s a political thing. In Syria we don’t have separate communities. There are marriages, relationships between Sunnis and Alawis. We’ve lived together for 1,000 years. We’re not dependent on religion.”
Abboud agrees that Assad has played the sectarian card, telling Syria’s Alawites that without him they were finished, and evoking historical memories of Alawite oppression by both the Ottomans and the French. “Assad’s message is: ‘If the regime stays you live. If we go you will be killed.'” In reality, Abboud tells me, all parts of Syria have been ground down, by the regime’s callousness and feudal arrogance.
Three years ago the government even forbade locals in Latakia to swim in the sea. “People can’t take it any more. Everyone was just waiting for a spark,” he says.
And what of the attack on the tank column? It may have been a military success, but it had tragic consequences. One of the tank drivers who survived the ambush fired a shell into a residential building. It hit a fifth-storey flat on Idlib’s 30th street. Five members of a family were sleeping there. All were killed, the latest victims in Syria’s unrelenting war.