Archive for April, 2011

News and Analysis (4/28/11)

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

The judge “declined to reveal the number or nature of the records the FBI kept on the plaintiffs, citing national security concerns” but he “also reached the conclusion that federal government attorneys initially misled the court about the existence of the documents”:

We understand why Israel opposes the restoration of democratic government in Palestine, what we want to know is why Hamas sent baton wielding police to prevent people celebrating:

“More than 200 members of Syria’s ruling Baath Party resigned Wednesday in protest of the violent crackdown on antigovernment protesters”:

“What should have been an uncomplicated approval of the application then foundered in a storm of anti-Muslim sentiment and hysteria”:

If they were really guilty, why did you try them in secret?

“Shi’ite website,, said on Wednesday police had stormed the houses of Mustafa al-Mubarak, 26, and Hussein al-Hashem, 25, arrested them and confiscated their computers”:

After defeating the incumbent is Ouattera setting out to kill his potential rivals?


News and Analysis (4/27/11)

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

“[O]fficials say the plan calls for the formation of a single caretaker government in the coming days, and preparations to hold presidential and legislative elections a year from now”:

“”What assurances do we have that (Umbrakato’s forces), if no longer MILF, will respect our ceasefire with the MILF?” — Philippines government negotiator Marivic Leonen:

“[A]nother setback for western hopes of handing over security duties to the Afghan army and the seventh time this year that coalition or Afghan soldiers have been killed by members of the Afghan security forces or by insurgents posing as soldiers or police officers”:

“It is the most ridiculous report we have come across” — Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tehmina Janjua:

Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood demands  Syria “stop monopolizing power in the hand of a single party and one group and move toward a multiparty political system”:

News and Analysis (4/26/11)

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

As the now-deposed head of Egyptian security goes on trial for the murder of protesters, a poll hints at the role of resentment at U.S. policies in the pro-democracy demonstrations:

“Human rights groups have accused Bahrain of arresting patients and medical staff suspected of taking part in protests, and sacking hundreds of public workers” and Iran is hinting at retaliation:

After ten years the Religious Liberty and Incarcerated Persons  Act still faces challenges like Judge Wilson’s ruling that, “Though it is quite clear that an inmate cannot secret weapons or contraband in a 1/8 inch beard, it is not clear than an inmate cannot change his appearance by shaving it, or identify himself as the member of a gang by growing it”:

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who the U.S. claims is a prized source of information, “allegedly told his interrogators” that the Guantanamo detainee “was behind a … grenade attack on a church in Islamabad, which killed five people … [and] an attack on a church in Pakistan … which killed three children,” yet he was never tried:

Rachid Ghannouchi insists that extremism “extremism “isn’t a legitimate child of Islam” and that “Islam marries well with democracy”:

“We’re going to see a growing fissure between the informal opposition (street protesters) and the formal opposition” — Shadi Hamid, director of the Brookings Doha Center:

“We all hoped that if a woman cannot get justice from the police, maybe she can get it from the courts…. Now, I don’t know where they should turn” — Mukhtar Mai, alleged victim of revenge rape:

News and Analysis (4/25/11)

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Despite lifting of emergency laws and Assad’s personal promise to end the bloodshed, reports of Syrian violence against civilians escalate:

This is liberation? “Our churches have become like prisons” — Monsignor Pious Casha,  Our Lady of Salvation:

“[T]he entire political wing of the prison was emptied of inmates. These had been ferried off to “secure destinations” by a fleet of cars the Taliban had organised”:

The “former Marine reservist and registered Republican, has been largely immune to the innuendo that has caused other politicians to distance themselves from Muslims post-Sept. 11. He has bucked the hard-line law enforcement approach of security checks and surveillance in favor of outreach and cooperation”:

“[M]ost of the 172 remaining prisoners have been rated as a ‘high risk’ of posing a threat to the United States and its allies if released without adequate rehabilitation and supervision,” but so were “an even larger number of the prisoners who have left Cuba … before they were freed or passed to the custody of other governments”:

The crown prince hopes the Prince of Wales will “will accept my wholehearted apologies — and those of the Kingdom of Bahrain — but also recognise the circumstances and deep sense of responsibility in which they are proffered;” I’m afraid we do:

A failed assassination bombing?

“There are many interfaith Seders but I am not aware of any, anywhere in the world where a mosque, a large important mosque, any mosque like the ADAMS center has actually hosted a Passover Seder” Andrea Barron, Washington Area Jews for Jewish Muslim Understanding:

The U.S. and the Middle East–Answers to Questions from Fars News

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

We were recently interviewed by Reza Saiedi of Fars News about current events in the Middle East. Here are the questions and our answers.

Q. It seems that there is a different basis for the unrest faced in Libya, Syria and Iran compared with that faced in the rest of the region. All the situations are surely not the same. In your opinion, what is the solution for this puzzle?

A. The situation in each of the countries in which unrest has taken place is unique. What is special about Libya is that it is a country with no central state. Gaddafi rules neither by a constitution nor by common law but by his personal influence on local “peoples’ committees,” which are really little more than armed gangs. His opposition is diverse, but is strongest in the eastern part of the country which is why the revolt so easily exploded into a civil war. While the opposition is indeed civilians, unlike Egypt and Tunisia, THESE civilians are armed. Further, Gaddafi was a populist who used part of his country’s wealth for the benefit of his people, not only for schools and roads, but most notably in the unparalleled high level of home ownership. Libya’s economic problems are due to its socialism, which resulted IN falling productivity, unlike Egypt and Tunisia where the economic problems were due to crony capitalism that resulted in a misdistribution of the wealth. The unrest in Syria was surprising. Although the regime is unquestionably authoritarian, it had been more consistent than most Arab regimes in its opposition to Israeli aggression, therefore causing observers to expect that it would be more effective in painting opposition groups as foreign dominated, as suggested by diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks indicating U.S. State Dept. support of opposition groups. In the case of Iran the unrest is neither regional nor foreign dominated, but a reflection of the fact that those out of power in Iran feel that the system has put barriers in the way of alternative means of protest. Opposition newspapers are easily shut down, reform candidates are too easily excluded from the ballot, and those who suspected fraud in the previous elections felt there was no independent body to which they could take their complaints other than the streets.

Q. Do you think American policy has been changed towards Iran? If not, what is going on within America and Iran?

A. I see no significant change in the American policy towards Iran. American policy continues to be driven primarily by the concerns of the Zionist lobby: (1) to impede Iranian support for Hezbollah and Hamas and for Palestinians in general; (2) to maintain the status quo in Sunni-Shia hostilities (that is, to avoid a peaceful resolution that would end intra-Muslim rivalry which Israel has used to its advantage while at the same time avoiding a boiling over into a violent confrontation that might cause the fall of states which, like Bahrain, are pro-American, or Syria which, while anti-American, have been highly predictable); and (3) to preserve Israel’s nuclear monopoly in the Gulf.

Q. What is behind the Islamophobia in America?

A. Islamophobia in the United States has become an increasing problem. Politicians are using the general ignorance of the American public about the religion of Islam, its teachings, and its history in order to manipulate the fears of average Americans to think that a so-called “sharia law” is about to be imposed by the small Muslim minority upon the enormous majority of Americans who are secular or Christian. In order to benefit from this manipulation, the politicians rely on media stereotypes about Muslim law, ignoring its fundamental calls for justice and tolerance and instead misrepresent it as a matter of imposing a Muslim penal code and culture on non-Muslim Americans. They devise nightmare fantasies of women forced into burkas in order to provoke working class Americans into thinking they must take pre-emptive action against their Muslim neighbors who are plotting to deprive them of their beer and pork chops. Many Americans, who are devoted to those universal values that Islam shares with America, such as the freedom of minorities to practice their religion, are speaking out and acting, but they too are under attack. The silliest of these attacks is the accusation, believed by 18% of Americans  that President Obama is a secret Muslim.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute

News and Analysis (4/21/11)

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Even as Syria “abolishes state security courts and allows citizens to protest peacefully” …

… ruled by their fear, Christians and Islamists both impede the transition to democracy by opposing the lifting of the emergency laws:

The Muslim majority in northern Jos “accuses the state government of consistently denying the Muslim community their basic rights as citizens on the basis that they are ‘settlers’ in the state, and therefore not so-called indigenes privy to citizen rights,” yet, “[d]espite anger, some crossed the religious divide, taking risks to help those attacked”:

“[T]he Islamist Nahda movement, allowed to register in March for the first time since it was formed in 1981, was among those that voted in favour of the” rule requiring equal numbers of male and female candidates:

As sectarian strife boils over from Egypt to Indonesia, a Michigan mayor tries to keep the lid on in the USA …

… but the lawyer who unsuccessfully sued to deny Muslims their civil rights won;t give up:

Some read Khamenei’s reversal of Ahmadinejad’s decision to accept Mashei’s resignation as sign of a breach, but others see intelligence chief as the President’s hand-picked successor:

Refusing to accept victory:

As the fight over Misrata continues its civilian toll and the U.S. and Europe step up their overt aid to the rebels

… an imam “jailed for seven years by the regime, urged his congregation to work for a civil state with strong institutions and freedoms of speech and association”:

News and Analysis (4/19/11)

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

“The UN children’s fund said on Tuesday that 26 children have been killed during violent protests in Yemen over the last two months” …

… meanwhile children under the protection of the U.N. campaign in Libya are also dying …

… and Libyan officials call suggestions to allow foreign troops to accompany humanitarian convoys a “military mission’:

In the face of criticism, the author of Three Cups of Tea says his “work is about investing in relationships, respecting elders, and listening over a time span that stretches generations, not in one that lasts just a few minutes on prime time television”:

In Nigeria, the winner’s main rival calls the violence “sad, unwarranted and criminal”:


News and Analysis (4/18/11)

Monday, April 18th, 2011

A possible explanation for the unanticipated revolt in Syria:

“Yemeni security forces and plain-clothes gunmen opened fire on thousands of demonstrators marching through Sanaa Sunday night, leaving at least 15 wounded from live ammunition”:

As Libyan troops pound Misrata and the U.N. and Libya reach a deal on humanitarian aid, Gaddadfi’s son insists everything you know about the Libyan situation is wrong:

“The attack comes months before the start of a transfer of security responsibilities from foreign to Afghan forces, and after NATO-led troops claimed solid progress in efforts to bolster the numbers and quality of the Afghan police and army”:

“Tursunov, a devout Muslim, has said he would rather give up soccer than his beard”:

“President Alassane Ouattara himself has called for reconciliation”, but he “also has said he wants Gbagbo tried by national and international courts”:

The opposition alleges “massive rigging in” the southern areas and “that the computer software used to tally results had been tampered with in northern states to favor the ruling party”:


U.S. secretly backed Syrian opposition groups, cables released by WikiLeaks show

News and Analysis (4/14/11)

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

As the daughter of the “outspoken dissident Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, weakened by breast-feeding while fasting in “her fourth day without food in protest at the violent arrest and subsequent disappearance of” her father, husband, and brother-in-law says she “will leave her 18-month-old child with family members if she dies” …

… the government moves to eliminate rather than develop democracy:

Safiyyah Abdullah divorced her husband who tried to pressure her to abandon the face veil, but she still has to contend with Muslim feminists (so-called)  “who would support a ban on religious face coverings”:

With the riots burning more Qur’ans that Terry Jones did, mullahs call for “citizens to maintain order during protests” and for “government to better prepare the police to deal with protesters, ensure that government and international forces respect Islamic and Afghan culture, and stop international forces from conducting night raids”:

With “Gbagbo’s high-profile, Bible-wielding wife, who has been called the ‘Iron Lady’ of the regime and the ‘Hillary Clinton of the tropics'” on display to the American Evangelicals who saw the dictator as a bulwark against the boogeyman of “shariah law,” little did they suspect that their “Christian president” was a bigamist:

“What Kashmir’s young independence activists most want the world to grasp is that the protracted fight for Kashmir has broken from its roots in a territorial tug of war between India and Pakistan” and has become an independence movement led by the two-thirds of Kashmiris who are under age 30 and fed up with living in a police state”:

With Qatar arming the rebels and NATO calling for more specialized jets as its bombing of Tripoli adds to the civilian death toll, the U.S. is resisting calls by France and Britain to plunge more deeply into the intervention that seems to only add to the civilian death toll:

Breaking their silence, Goldstone’s three fellow mission members attack his retreat from the report’s findings, and  “‘firmly stand by’ the conclusions of the report. They say that neither Israel nor Hamas has come up with any convincing evidence contradicting the findings”:

Assad call off the security forces and promises the release of political prisoners as as “the Syrian army entered Baniyas” to welcoming residents chanting, “the people and the army are one”:

News and Analysis (4/12/11)

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

UN investigator “Juan Mendez said he was ‘disappointed and frustrated by the prevarication’ he met from US officials”:

Ouattara offers a truth and reconciliation commission,promising, “Every measure has been taken to assure the physical integrity of Mr. Laurent Gbagbo, his wife and all those arrested…. They will receive dignified treatment and their rights will be respected”:

“The demand is a direct result of the Raymond Davis debacle, which exacerbated tensions between the US and Pakistan and underscored a lack of trust between the two countries’ intelligence agencies”:

As France makes it “illegal for women in full-face veils to go anywhere in public, including walk down the street, enter shops, use public transport, attend doctors’ surgeries or town halls,” we have to wonder if it is just a matter of time until women have more freedom of choice in clothing in the Middle East than in Europe:

A student at the University of Damascus is killed and government troops attack more villages as Syrian repression fuels more protests and the Muslim Brotherhood, hitherto quiet for fear of undermining the regime’s support for Hamas, now sides with the demonstrators:

As France and Britain call for more bombing despite heavy civilian presence in the targeted areas, the U.S. confronts the budget impact of a third war front:

“[C]atholic priests had refused to become a party to the case therefore the police had decided to become the complainant against Akhtar Hussain”:

“[I]ndicted in the U.S. for his role in al-Shabab in August” an Alabama raised militant mocks rumors that he was killed “during heavy fighting in Mogadishu” with rap songs like “Send Me a Cruise (missile)” and “Make Jihad With Me”: