Archive for April, 2008

News and Analysis (4/11/08)

Friday, April 11th, 2008

Associated Press finally confirms the orders for torture came from VP Cheney himself, while AG Mukasey makes only a half-hearted attempt to distance himself the recently revealed anti-Fourth Amendment DoJ memo:

After caving into the Army generals on Iraq troop withdrawals, Bush also enters into negotiations to extend the US government’s “legal” mandate to occupy Iraq:

In a move to ease ethno-religious tensions, Malaysia announces a plan to mandate potential converts to Islam to inform their families before switching faiths:

As if to prove that Muslims aren’t the only ones capable of violence and Westerners aren’t the only ones capable of smear tactics, Raed Al-Saeed produces an online video stereotyping the Bible in the mode of Geert Wilders unfair attack on the Qur’an:

Once riding into power on promises of restoring deposed judges and advancing the rule of law, opposition parties now seek to sideline Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry:

News and Analysis (4/10/08)

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

Supported by the opinions of a growing list of political and security experts and 64 percent of the Israeli public, Jimmy Carter will head to the Middle East to talk to Hamas…

…while Yemen continues to mediate negotiations over a new unity government between Hamas and Fatah, despite opposition from the US and Israel:

Civil liberties groups seek to slow down the Gitmo kangaroo courts through “a dizzying array of challenges”, as well as providing legal assistance to defendants, but the work of their further flawed Afghan counterparts remains unrestrained:

Contrary to the views of other security experts a year ago when Iraq was far less stable, Bush asserts Al-Qaeda in Iraq is as dangerous to the US as its main branch in Afghanistan/Pakistan:

Inter-faith activist Eboo Patel analyzes the passionate reactions to inflammatory films like “Fitna.” arguing the real divide is not between Muslims and non-Muslim Westerners, but pluralists and extremists:

News and Analysis (4/9/08)

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

Success, rather than failure, is now used as the excuse for maintaining the occupation in Iraq…

…meanwhile Sadr cancels a planned mass demonstration against U.S. troop presence to prevent further escalation of violence, but clashes continue as the Green Zone gets pelted with mortars and the Mahdi Army and US/Iraqi forces duke it out in other parts of Baghdad:

DHS seeks to employ Big Brother in the heavens to spy on Americans, but lawmakers and the Congressional Research Service raise Fourth Amendment and other privacy concerns:

Opposition members once giving unconditional support to former Chief Justice Chaudhry now hesitate to restore him to office out of fear their own dirty laundry could also be aired:

Mass disqualification of opposition candidates, foundering economic performance and brutal security measures suffocate turnout for Egypt’s municipal elections:

A group of online religious experts and commentators give their opinions on Pope Benedict’s dialog efforts with Muslims:

News and Analysis (4/8/08)

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

As the Washington Post examines how invasive legislation and lack of judicial oversight allows the FBI to vacuum personal electronic information, US Representative Ron Paul warns of an impending surveillance state by further weakening FISA legislation…

…meanwhile the Justice Department continues to drag its feet on Congressional requests to see documents on torture interrogations and domestic spying:

Despite the rhetorical saber rattling in public, Iran and Israel continue to secretly trade with each other:

Despite the “routine” government crackdowns, the Brotherhood remains steadfastly committed to democracy and seeks to emerge stronger:

Review of legal scholar Noah Feldman’s latest book finds that Muslims’ embrace of democracy can and must come through a modern engagement with Islamic principles:

Pakistan says it won’t talk to groups it believes are terrorists but is willing to offer amnesty and political negotiations to other militants:

Cheney’s imperial Vice-Presidency earns him unprecedented post-tenure Secret Service protection and earns the Washington Post the Pulitzer Prize:

News and Analysis (4/7/08)

Monday, April 7th, 2008

Unified political pressure, not military offensives seem to have greater effect on pacifying Sadr’s militancy…

…but overall, experts conclude in a United States Institute of Peace report that political progress in Iraq has been dismal:

NY Times editorial debunks the Bush administration’s faulty legal reasoning used to deny a pair of American citizens detained in Iraq their habeus corpus rights:

Hady Amr personalizes how US policy hypocrisy directly contributed to the death of an American Muslim kidnapped in Pakistan:

The Muslim Brotherhood calls for a boycott after the Egyptian state ignores court rulings recognizing the group’s right to run in half of the country’s constituencies:

Using the power of modern media, Ahmed Abu Haiba seeks to create a modern Islamic pop culture:

What the Headscarf Ban Means

Monday, April 7th, 2008

What the Headscarf Ban Means

by Merve Kavakci, Ph.D.
Member of Parliament-Turkey (1999)
Currently-Professor of International Affairs
George Washington University

In a column published in the Washington Post on April 1, 2008 (“What a Headscarf Can Mean”) Anne Applebaum makes a common mistake of Westerners. She passes judgment on a matter pertaining to other people, in this case Muslims of Turkey, without in–depth knowledge of the issue at hand.

Her op-ed seems to be a product of a mere cursory reading of Turkish politics. The fallacies in her article are numerous, beginning with the flawed framing of the discussion. Ms. Applebaum thinks that the headscarf debate in Turkey is about secular Islam and the resistance to it. Not a bit. It is about secular fundamentalism and the attempt to dismantle it. Turkish secularism is unique in the sense that it is far from what we understand from “secularism” in US or in much of Europe. It makes a taboo of religion. The state, the introducer of this type of secularism, wields it to control, shape and marginalize Turks’ religion i.e. Islam.

The current headscarf ban which gets much attention in US media is the most conspicuous manifestation of Turkish secularism. What the current government strived to do, recently, was to lift this ban for university students alone. Although passed in the parliament, it was not implemented. As soon as the government introduced the Constitutional amendments to grant the right to education to women with headscarves, members of the academia protested publicly enunciating: “We will not accept these girls in. If they somehow do come in, we will not give them the grades they deserve!” We cannot explain such a stance as the position of moderate secularism. This is typical of the secular fundamentalism that reigns among Turkish elite. “Rights—but not for all” and “democracy—only for us and people like us” are their mottos.

Women such as I, who wear a headscarf and pay a personal price for it (I was elected to the Turkish Parliament but was denied from oath of office by a group of parliamentarians in 1999), criticized the government’s efforts to the “partial” lifting of the ban, we are saddened that even that did not become a reality. Partial “rights” is a far-fetched dream today for us, let alone full-fledged rights….

Now, the Constitutional Court has opened a case to close down the governing party, to ban some of its members including the party leader PM Erdogan and President Gul. Ms. Applebaum correctly identifies the headscarf debate as central to the closure process. However, she fails to see the bigger picture and the two major impetuses behind the closure attempt. The headscarf is merely the tip of the iceberg. It is visible and germane to women which both make it appealing for “exploiters” for misrepresentation in the media. More importantly, however, it is emblematic of the larger discussion on civil liberties within the context of Turkish democratization. The government, committed to making strides towards EU accession process, has introduced various measures necessary to eliminate social disparities among Turkish people. The ban on the headscarf is among the contributors feeding into social and economic disparities.

TESEV studies depict that 69 % of Turkish women wear headscarves. This is part of Turks’ culture, history and most importantly their religion. Parents in the Eastern part of the country protest when they are castigated by state officials for not sending their daughters to schools: “Our children are not permitted in with their scarves!” Less education means less economic freedom and less opportunity for professional activism. At the end, they all translate into less economic, social and political contributions to the Turkish society. The ban ostracizes a sizable part of Turkish women. Thus the government wanted to revoke it. Ms. Applebaum does not seem to see that. She is quick to label the headscarves in Turkey as “political.”

She further suggests that headscarf in Turkey gives away what the “wearer’s view of women” is. What does that mean? I am a woman with a headscarf and I only have a view of who I am and how I should live my life, not of other women or how they should live their life. Ms. Applebaum must be confusing women with headscarves with secular fundamentalists who claim to know not only things about themselves but also about others–such as women with headscarves—and their views on issues and people.

Ms. Applebaum predicates her argument on what she heard about the wives of the members of the ruling party in government. She heard that most of them wore headscarves after marriage and “never worked or studied after that.” That is false. Most of those women, whom I know personally, including First Lady Gul and wife of the PM Mrs. Erdogan actually were already wearing headscarves when they met their husbands and continue to wear it afterwards. Moreover, First Lady Gul, after having three kids attempted to go back to school, entered the central university examination, passed it successfully and yet was prevented from admission in 1995. Her case became publicized since her husband Mr. Gul at the time was a junior parliamentarian from the Welfare Party. Mr. Gul’s public denouncement of the prevention of his wife from the admission process became a factor in the closure of Welfare Party then. Ms. Applebaum does not seem to remember that either.

But most importantly, she does not mention the real reason behind the current government being under fire by secular fundamentalists i.e. its fight against the deep state – derin devlet. PM Erdogan has recently given the start of cracking down of the shadow state, an illegal structure in the form of a paramilitary state mafia working against political and economic stability in Turkey. Among the recent activities of the deep state are killing of Hrant Dink the Armenian journalist, the murder of Priest Santorum in Trabzon and bombings/explosions at various times throughout the country. Among the so far indicted members are former military men, members of academia, journalists and businessmen. As soon as the crack down became a reality, the closure case knocked at the government’s door. Interestingly those who want, in Ms. Applebaum’s term, secular Islam, in Turkey are also the ones who bash the government for this crack down. I wonder if Ms. Applebaum has something to say about that? What is it? Is it secular Islam that they want or is it a Turkey that does not dismantle illegal threats to Turkey’s democratization and development?

Finally, Ms. Applebaum gives us a heads up about a possible headscarf debate ending up at our “shores” here in US. I disagree. A debate on headscarf cannot take place in US, unless it were no longer the America that we all migrated to for the sake of the liberty it offers.

Minaret of Freedom Institute Guest blog

News and Analysis (4/5-6/08)

Sunday, April 6th, 2008

Glenn Greenwald slams the DoJ’s misleading reaction to his investigation of Mukasey’s recent use of fear-mongering and falsehoods to justify more surveillance and less privacy:

More details emerge about Yoo’s extremely graphic discussions of torture in his infamous memos, including possible maiming, as well as evidence of possible drugging:

Recent study of Iranian blogs shows diversity of political thought and analyzes possible impact of new communications technology on democratization:

Pakistan’s coalition starts to fray due to disagreements on how to reinstate the judges and what to do with rogue nuke scientist AQ Khan…

…meanwhile opposition leader Nawaz Sharif continues to push ahead with his Musharraf impeachment plans:

News and Analysis (4/4/08)

Friday, April 4th, 2008

Classified anti-Fourth Amendment legal memo also raised the possibility of further military deployment inside the US, and has not been formally withdrawn, but only “repudiated” by other DoJ officials…

…while others link it to possible justification for the warrantless wiretapping immediately begun after 9/11:

Perhaps due to a mass desertion within his army’s ranks, Iraqi PM Maliki finally calls it quits on the fight with Sadr’s militia:

Farcical assertions of an Al-Qaeda/Iran partnership (perhaps like the ones with Saddam Hussein) are disputed in the latest comments by Al-Zawahiri himself:

Although never taking up arms against the US with no evidence of planning a terrorist attack, ethnic Uighur Huzaifa Parhat has spent six years being detained in Gitmo …

… while ACLU attorney Ben Wizner protests that “‘There is no remotely legitimate basis for the government to withhold these prisoners’ account of their mistreatment:” ”

A day before local elections across the country, the Egyptian police round up another 51 Muslim Brothers in a pre-dawn raid:

News and Analysis (4/3/08)

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

More Bush administration legal memos depict “Big Brother” running amok around the Fourth Amendment and creating “a culture of abuse”…

…using shadowy “fusion centers” to suck up and store troves of personal data…

…and allowing the military, through the FBI’s abused National Security Letters powers, to illegally spy on Americans:

Attempting to allay ethnic and religious minorities’ fears, lawmaker from the Malaysian Islamic Party visits non-Muslim houses of worship…

…but such overtures could be undermined by extremists seeking to extend legal punishments against intra-Muslim flirting to Muslims and non-Muslim flirting:

The Egyptian state continues its political persecution of the Muslim Brotherhood, arresting another 147 activists after a recent demonstration:

“…I think the headscarf is not the issue here. It’s whether Turkey should develop into a normal democracy, from one dominated by a state elite that manages everything as they see fit.”—Suat Kiniklioglu, AKP parliamentarian

News and Analysis (4/2/08)

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

The latest Chinese spy penetration of the Pentagon shows that invasive counterintelligence programs like the Counterintelligence Field Activity are not only threatening to civil liberties, but ineffective security too…

…meanwhile the latest rhetoric from the Bush administration shows it may be backing down from its extremist stance on the NSA domestic spy program:

Latest testimony from AG Mukasey reaffirms failure to properly act on intelligence, not lack of information led to 9/11:

In a flashback to the psychedelic ‘60s and the CIA’s KUBARK manual, second declassified torture memo from former DoJ official John Yoo gives legal OK to inhuman treatment of detainees, including use of mind-altering drugs:

After the PPP’s recent ascent to power in Pakistan the government suddenly withdraws its longstanding corruption case against “Mr. 10%” Asif Zardari: