Archive for May, 2019

Uighur Solidarity Iftar

Friday, May 31st, 2019

[On May 30, 2019 I attended an iftar in support of Uighur Solidarity at the National Cathedral School in Washington DC. I here summarize testimonies of the oppression of the Uighur people by the Chinese government by a concentration camp survivor and by a relative of concentration camp prisoners as well as recommendations for action by an American Muslim activist. These notes summarize my impression of highlights of the presentations and are not an attempted transcription.]

Mihrigul Tursun is a survivor of the concentration camp (called a “reeducation center” by the Chinese government). She returned to East Turkestan (called Xianjiang, which means “new border territory” by the government) from Egypt. At the airport her three children were taken away from her, and she was interrogated for three hours on why she went to Egypt. She was then taken to prison without being reunited with her children. She was subsequently sent three times to concentration camps.

Among the detainees at one camp was a 23-year-old woman who had been arrested along with 400 others for attending an Islamic party (one with no alcohol and only wholesome entertainment). In a camp with 230 cells nine  women died in three months. She was not allowed to shower for an entire year. She was rewarded with food for speaking in Chinese instead of her own language, but some older women who could not speak Chinese were denied food. When she was ordered to kiss shoes of guards for food,  she found herself too upset to eat.

Detainees were subjected to  both physical and psychological torture if they declined to eat or to learn the Chinese language. Unable to stand the pain at one point, she begged to be killed, but they wouldn’t let her off so easily. She began to cry out, “Ya Allah (O God)!” The torturer scoffed at her, “Who is stronger: me or your God? Where is your God? Your god is Xi Jinping! Your god is the Communist Party!” Because two of her children had Egyptian citizenship, she was told she could take them to Egypt, but if she didn’t return to China, they would kill her family. Knowing this her father told her, “Don’t come back.” She decided she would come to US to speak up and be the voice of her people. She says that every morning she wakes up in the U.S. but every night she is asleep in a concentration camp. She persists not so her dead son can come to life again or so her parents can rest easy, but because her people have no other voice. She says, “I must do something for my people, but I cannot; I can only tell you.”

The last time Fermat Jawdat saw his mother was in 2010. They have waited since then for her to get a Chinese passport. On Feb. 6 of last year he got a message from his mother that she was going to “school”. A month later five other members of his extended family were sent to the camps. Since last August he has been threatened repeatedly by the Chinese government to shut up. They even offered to release his mother if he would desist. He was told his mother, uncle, and aunt have been transferred to prisons and if he didn’t shut up he would never see his mother again. He knows that he cannot choose between his mother’s life and the cause of his people, decision as to whether his mother lives or dies is not his to make, but he also knows that he cannot trust the Chinese government.

When he got a phone call from his mother, he cried. The most fearful thing in the world is the unknown, and until he heard her voice he did not know if she was dead or alive. She said she went to school where she learned Chinese language and laws. He felt as though he was listening to a propaganda film. She said, “My smart stubborn son you cannot be part of a group that criticizes ‘our’ government.” He knows that his mother is 52 years old and needs no training. He told her to tell those around her to contact him directly. Then he told her, “Mom I never did anything that would make you upset or sad.” He later learned that she had been released that day to make the call and then returned to prison and that she had been lying when she said she had been released two weeks earlier. He understood that when she called me her “smart, stubborn son” that she did not want him to stop. He said to us, “I stand here today to speak against the Chinese government because I don’t want the same things to happen to other groups in China or in the U.S.”

Robert Morro is an American Muslim activist at the ADAMS center in Virginia. He says: We can’t tolerate this. We must put an end to all of this. Almost 200 years after the opium wars its humiliation had not been forgotten. Face is something that must be saved. The people in China are following all these reports keenly aware of their humiliation. For a long time the Chinese got away with Tibet, and then the Falun Gong. In June 1998 everyone noted Tienanmen Square, but now few remember. We must make sure people are aware not only of what is going on but what they can do about it. You’ve got to spread the word. If we let a country like China get away with this, others will follow suit. If you don’t think the Burmese, who have been persecuting the Rohingya are following what is happening in China closely, you are mistaken. Don’t buy anything made in China and get more people to do the same. Get the media to take note. Get the word out on social media. On June 12 there will be an advocacy day on Capitol Hill. Politicians have a poor reputation, but they are people and if they hear the stories we’ve heard here it has to have an impact. And everyone in Congress has some grievance against the Chinese government, whether its over human rights or trade, so they are all potential allies. Even if pro-Uighur legislation were vetoed, do you think the Chinese won’t take notice that it hadn’t gotten that far? They will never admit they were wrong, but if they save face by releasing the victims, why should we care that they refused to admit to wrongdoing.

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

News and Analysis (5/30/19)

Thursday, May 30th, 2019

“The supposed holiness of religious scholars has elevated them beyond the point where they can be questioned or criticized. Ending this immunity will allow the population to regain trust in their own reasoning”:

The Trump administration’s updated travel warning for Iraq is prompting “American companies to withdraw workers from projects that are partly aimed at helping Baghdad wean itself off dependence on Iranian energy“:

Are Trump administration policies leading to a crisis in relations in U.S. with Europe …

… and between the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. government?

“Egyptian authorities rearrested an Al-Jazeera journalist who was ordered released last week after more than two years in detention on accusations of spreading false news”:

Rap music led this proud white Texan from Houston to Islam:

Putin says that thanks to the Trump administration’s blunders in trying to isolate Iran, Russia’s relations with that nation “can evolve into a strategic relationship” …

… the same blunders may extend the “’period of strategic opportunity’ … for China to [surpass] the United States economically … and [achieve] a leading role in the evolution of the global system”:

“The road is not closed for them, whenever they put aside their cruel sanctions and return to the negotiation table that they left” — Hassan Rouhani:

Florida’s Islamophobic governor is being sued for holding a cabinet meeting in Israel (!), where he promised to make “antisemitism” (by which he means any criticism of Israel) “verboten”:

“The statements are a stark contrast to the kingdom’s actions in the region. Rumours have long been circulating that Saudi and Israeli officials have held secret meetings” and have openly moved towards normalization:

News and Analysis (5/28/19)

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

“Last year, in a bold statement about what they felt was the program’s one-sided narrative, Birthright [Israel] participants began walking off the trip—live-­streaming their actions on social media”:

An unintended consequence of forcing India to end its Iranian oil purchases may be “Pakistan and China expanding footprints on [Pakistan’s] Chabahar Port if it is connected with [China’s] Gwadar Port”:

“Presidential elections are scheduled for early July, but they have been rejected by protesters, who say that holding a vote would be inappropriate while corrupt state officials remain in power” …

… while in Sudan, protest leaders “and army generals who seized power after ousting President Omar al-Bashir last month, have so far failed to iron out differences over who should lead a new governing body”:

“George Will marvels at conservatives who “preen as ‘originalists’ [but] are unimpressed by the Framers’ intention that Congress should be involved in initiating military force in situations other than repelling sudden attacks”:

“America and Israel succeeded in convincing these countries that the danger to them is coming from Iran, and because of that they will do anything they are asked by the U.S. and Israel”:

“Tear gas is forbidden as a weapon of war under the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention, but its use on civilians worldwide continues to grow, with the ISF and U.S. prisons among the leaders”:

“Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis reiterated rejection to relocate his country’s embassy in Israel, citing that the move would contradict with the stances of the EU and UN”:

News and Analysis (5/26/19)

Sunday, May 26th, 2019

“Treaties, as defined by Article II of the Constitution, require a two-thirds majority of the Senate for ratification, so they have become almost unheard of” in Washington:

“Our argument is basically that we cannot — and no one reasonably can — be expected to unilaterally honor a multilateral agreement” — Majid Takht Ravanchi, Iranian ambassador to the U.N.:

“Zarif said Iran wanted to build balanced relations with its Gulf Arab neighbors and had proposed signing a non-aggression pact with them”:

“The Israeli military admitted on Thursday that Jewish settlers set West Bank fields on fire last Friday, changing its version after it originally blamed the arson on Palestinians”:

An “independent Palestine that could sell its goods in Arab countries and use Israeli ports… with no restrictions, would produce many more billions than the PA would receive through this deal” …

… but “Kushner … appears to be adopting … [the same] shady business practices [he developed in the private sector] in an attempt to force Palestinians into submission to perpetual Israeli dominance” …

… but the absurdity of the Kushner plan has an “unforeseen silver lining … that the U.S. has lost any remaining influence it had on Palestinian society” …

… and some think “Trump is now not only burying the two-state solution, which was not viable anyway, but he’s gladly dancing on its grave, thus forcing people to end their denial”:

“Khatami … is pointing out the benefits of local government and dispensation of justice in society. What he says will unite people rather than fragment the society”:

Instex … was designed to allow European companies to make payments to Iran independently of the US-dominated global financial transactions system. But EU companies” fear penalties on U.S. investments:

The Trump administration’s overstatement the significance Iranian moves and its obliviousness that any moves are reactions to American threats are disturbing:

“American allies are desperately trying to push Trump off the warpath” …

… and “Japanese media said a plan was being drawn up for Abe to visit Iran in June to meet President Hassan Rouhani in an attempt to mediate, and this was something Japan’s leader would discuss with Trump”:

News and Analysis (5/23/19)

Thursday, May 23rd, 2019

“Anti-Semitism represents one of the biggest evils of our era. But to fight it, you should not become part of another injustice” — Saeb Erekat:

Creeping shariah law? Warren would tweak the assessment from 2.5% to 2-3%, increase the nisab from $5,000 to $50 million, and move  zakat from the hand of God into the hands of the IRS:

“To ensure a war doesn’t break out …Udall … plans to put forward a measure restricting the use of federal funds for any ‘military operations in or against Iran’ without congressional authorization” with exceptions …

… and the “House Appropriations Committee … would end the authorization for the use of military force (AUMF), as lawmakers grow increasingly concerned over the possibility of war with Iran” …

… but Democrats forget that America invaded Iraq because both parties “so inflated the threat from Saddam Hussein that restoring normal economic and diplomatic relations with his regime became politically impossible”:

“[T]he U.S. anti-abortion trends … diminish religious freedoms, since Muslim religious ethics make a strong case for women’s well-being taking priority over that of the fetus”:

Bolton’s chief backers in the push to war include a “funder of a secretive nonprofit that targeted swing voters with three disturbing anti-Muslim videos during the 2016 election” and a man who believes Iran is “the devil”:

“Beyond hedging [against inflation], crypto technology could also one day serve as the backbone of an alternative global payments system beyond the reach of any state or political actor, including the US“:

“Iran hawks have desperately sought to invent ties between Iran and al-Qaeda to further their aggressive policies against Iran, but it isn’t true and no one is falling for their deception this time” …

… and taking “the Houthis, or Shiite militias in Syria and Iraq for that matter, as merely pawns operating at Iran’s direction is based on a simplistic misreading of current dynamics and politics in the Middle East”:

“U.S. officials are shocked [– shocked!] by the news that Palestinian business leaders won’t accept their invitation to trade national rights for cash”:

Iran’s response to threats of total destruction: Genghis Khan is gone; Iran remains. “The nuclear deal promised Iran an orgy of cosmopolitan consumerism. Its collapse has led to an uplifting self-reliance”:

News and Analysis (5/20/19)

Monday, May 20th, 2019

“Trump’s supporters and other advocates of a more restrained foreign policy seem inclined to blame the president’s advisers more than they do the president himself” …

… but “John Bolton wants regime change in Iran, and so does the cult that paid him” …

… while Rep. Ruben Gallego attributes what “he described as a false narrative [to] national security adviser John Bolton and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.)”:

That Republicans and Democrats “answer differently even though they had equal knowledge of our numerical nomenclature … means that the question is about knowledge or ignorance … [and also] prejudice”:

Muslim voter turnout in four key swing states jumped 25 percentage points from the 2014 to the 2018 midterm elections, according to a new study released by the Muslim political advocacy group Emgage”:

Among the reasons “Israel and the US are hell-bent on targeting Iran at this juncture” is the forthcoming announcement Trump/Kushner’s “farcical attempt to resolve the longstanding Israel-Palestine conflict” …

… which for Palestinians rejects everything “from the law to the agreements, to the basic requirements of peace to the components of any viable peace process” and “shows a lack of understanding of the issues”:

As keen as Israel may be on seeing a war with Iran, they would prefer the U.S. do the fighting:

Failing to live up to her pledge to speak “out against violations of human rights [anywhere] in the world” does nothing to refute Primal Scream’s  Bobby Gillespie’s charge that her appearance is an act of prostitution:

News and Analysis (5/17/19)

Friday, May 17th, 2019

American allies are skeptical …

… and among the few nations siding with Bolton’s designs on Iran are Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United Arab Emirates …

… with the Saudis accusing the Houtis of retaliating against their oil industry for the reign of death they have poured upon Yemen and demand Washington start a war with Iran in return …

… but Iran’s U.N. ambassador “told ‘Face the Nation’ moderator Margaret Brennan on Thursday[,] …’I believe that President Trump does not want war'”:

As Sens. Lindsey Graham and Patrick Leahy have “great concern” about the administration’s military move and some legislators want an explanation of intelligence “about Iran that warranted the quick deployment” …

… and Congressional committee chairs warn Pompeo of “the perils of ignoring and ‘cherry-picking’ intelligence in foreign policy and national security decisions” …

… “top national security officials [are] to brief Congress on escalating tensions with Iran, agreeing to multiple meetings intended to head off growing frustration with the president and his senior advisers:

“The Jewish yarmulke and Sikh patka are not included in the new measure”:

“God has asked me to do and what the U.S. Constitution allows me to do. My hope is that as a government agency, the Georgia Department of Corrections will do the right thing”:

No ambulance “driver was willing to risk breaking the curfew” but thanks to a Muslim cab driver “she gave birth to a healthy baby boy who she has named ‘Shanti’ – a name which denotes peace prevailing over conflict”:

“Europe must … not leave everything in the hands of a ‘reckless driver’ who is preparing to drive off a cliff, the Palestinian foreign minister has said” of plan that amounts “to the return of colonialism”:

News and Analysis (5/14/19)

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

“More professional journalists have been imprisoned, often with life sentences, in Turkey than any other nation in the world”:

Bolton envisions sending as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East” but the new plans “do not call for a land invasion of Iran, which would require vastly more troops” …

… but Pompeo’s “push for a united transatlantic front against Tehran and its nuclear program … failed to bend attitudes among leaders who fear that the United States and Iran are inching toward war” …

… one “possible reason to hold a meeting of senior White House officials at Langley is if there is disagreement about what the intelligence shows on a particular subject” (as with Dick Cheney on Iraq) …

… as politicization of a report on Iran’s arms control compliance has raised fears that Trump’s advisers may be using “bogus and exaggerated intelligence” as Bush’s advisers did re: the 2003 invasion of Iraq” …

… and the head of Iran’s National Security Foreign Policy Committee condemns the recently reported attacks on commercial shipping, blaming unnamed third parties and has demanded the perpetrators be identified” …

… There has never been a better opportunity for Donald Trump to employ his famous catchphrase, “You’re fired!”:

Iranian “officials have vowed to adopt better monetary and fiscal policies in order to protect the public from the recession. But … Iran needs to continue buying and selling goods, and earning hard currency”:

The “barriers placed on women to enjoin in spiritual practices crucial to their lives and their interpretation of their faith … [belongs not] to one particular faith but instead one particular gender”:

Trump wished Muslims “Ramadan Karim” after misrepresenting Rashida Tlaib’s comments calling for a safe haven for Jews …

… She actually said: “I want a safe haven for Jews. … [M]y ancestors … had to suffer for that to happen, but I will not turn my back and allow others to hijack it … because they’re coming from a place of… division, inequality” …

… while an imam is smeared after praying we be not deterred by “hatred that has claimed the lives of innocent worshipers across the world, but emboldened by the love that gathered them together to remember you”:

When the Ramadan fast ends this June, Muslims are supposed to feast, but thanks to Israel, Egypt, and the U.S., the Gazans may not be able to:

News and Analysis (5/12/19)

Sunday, May 12th, 2019

“According to the UN, more Palestinians have been displaced in East Jerusalem in the first four months of 2019 than in all of 2018: 193 displaced persons, compared to 176”:

For Jared Kushner “to claim [Palestinians] have received more aid than any group in history ignores the fact that Israel has received far more, year after year, just from the United States”:

It smacks of idolatry, and one Palestinian intellectual calls the booklet’s distribution suited for tyrannical regimes saying, “we should educate our children on the values of liberty, dignity, criticism, freedom of expression”:

“The deployment of a US aircraft carrier to Iran’s regional waters is nothing but psychological warfare and part of a plan to intimidate Tehran, the head of the Revolutionary Guards Corps” told parliament behinds closed-doors”:

“Iran’s parliament struck a blow for women’s rights by overwhelmingly voting to confer citizenship on children born to an Iranian mother and foreign father”:

“‘Call me,’ Donald Trump said to Iran’s leaders on Wednesday. Unsurprisingly, a top commander in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said no”:

News and Analysis (5/9/19)

Thursday, May 9th, 2019

“Nearly one third of coalition airstrikes have targeted civilians in schools, hospitals, and markets”:

Rouhani warned that if Europe can’t rescue “the nuclear deal by restarting oil trade with Iran” within 60 days, Iran will “build up stockpiles of low enriched uranium and heavy water, which is used in nuclear reactors”:

On Sunday, National Security Adviser John Bolton announced that U.S. warships had been dispatched to the Arabian Peninsula in response to unspecified threats from Iran …

… and, no surprise, “intelligence gathered by Israel, primarily by the Mossad intelligence agency, is understood to be part of the reason for Bolton’s announcement” …

… with “Israel regularly bombing Iranian proxies in Syria, and Saudis going after Iran-allied Houthis in Yemen[, t]hey are perceived as U.S. proxy attacks whether Washington knows about/green-lights them or not” …

… and Bolton wants “confrontation—because he believes … that these other regimes are our enemies; that our power outweighs theirs immensely; and that, therefore, we must impose our will while we still can.”:

Two State Deptartment veterans (a Distinguished Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a nonresident senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace) explain:

“[W]hen it comes to all aid, Israel has received more aid than the Palestinians, even on a per-capita basis, according to U.S. government data”:

“Fear of retaliation was so great that one woman “stopped taking breaks to perform ablutions before prayer, [broke] her Ramadan fast, and even stopped going to the bathroom”: