Archive for Democracy

Message from Iran: Tell All Americans We Love Them

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Media, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2011 by loonwatch
Green MovementDemonstrators from Iran’s Green Movement

The Islamic Republic of Iran isn’t a top tourist destination for most Americans.

Iran is portrayed in the Western media as a country run by fanatical, bloodthirsty Mullahs, ruling in concert with the often outrageous President  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. As for the Iranian people, angry mobs are often shown in the streets, burning American flags and shouting “Death to America!”

No wonder it is easy to convince Americans that Iranians are consumed by hatred and eager to reduce American cities to rubble.  Yet Americans brave enough to visit Iran quickly discover Iranians are a friendly, gracious people. They love Americans, and they are not bashful about sharing their  affection. Tourists from California said they were amazed by their experience:

“We were besieged, mobbed almost, by whole classrooms of up to 50 or 60 individuals who would come up to us and smother us with hugs and kisses,” reports Caroleen Williams, of Coronado. “‘Are you Americans?’ they asked. ‘We love Americans.’ Women walking down the sidewalks in full black burqas would wave to us and tap their hearts.”

In fact, Williams says they were repeatedly urged to take home a message: “Tell all Americans we love them.”

The experience is not unusual. An American Rabbi who visited Iran described a similar experience in his blog. He concluded that Iran is misunderstood by Americans, and especially by American Jews, many of whom are convinced the Iranians harbor a special hatred for them:

The most essential thing I’ve learned is in some ways the most basic: Iran is a beautiful country with a venerable history and wonderful, gracious people. It is also a powerfully complicated country, marked by a myriad of cultural/political/religious/historical layers. I am now more convinced than ever that we in the West harbor egregiously stereotypical assumptions about this country – and that we harbor them at our mutual peril.  ~ Rabbi Shalom Rav

A journalist from the Christian Science Monitor confirmed that the affection Iranians have for Americans is not confined to secular liberals:

After speaking with numerous Iranians from all walks of life – lower and upper class, religious and secular, Westernized and traditional, government- affiliated and civilian – I became convinced that this vilified member of the ‘Axis of Evil‘ is actually one of the most welcoming places for Americans to travel in the Middle East. Indeed, all Iranians with whom I spoke shared a positive opinion of Ameri-cans.

Iranian admiration for America is not a new phenomenon. In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks more than a decade ago, Iranians held spontaneous candlelight vigils, mourning, praying for the victims, and expressing solidarity with the American people.

The New York Times reported that an opinion poll showed 74% of Iranians want to renew relations and start a dialogue with the US. Iranian authorities were so incensed by the results, they arrested the pollster. The regime has always capitalized on legitimate grievances against Western foreign policy to rally Iranians against America, but many Iranians are no longer listening.

Refusing anti-Americanism is one way to swipe at the hated regime. Iran has an overwhelmingly young, vibrant population fed up with the oppressive theocracy that began more than three decades ago when the late Ayatollah Khomeini and his allies established the system of Vilayat-i-Faqih, “Rule of the Jurist”.

In some ways Iranians are more American than Americans themselves, because Iranians truly cherish liberty and have struggled for over 100 years to be free. ~ Iranians love America – But – Americans Hate Iran

Paradoxically, the US is largely responsible for setting back Iranian democracy and self-rule by decades. In 1953, the US and Britain overthrew Iran’s democracy, imposed the tyrannical Shah of Iran as the new leader, and divided up the country’s oil wealth among themselves. The operation was not a secret, and is chronicled in mainstream sources here, here, and here.

Hostage CrisisAmerican Protester

In 1979, the Iranian people deposed the Shah. Later that same year, rumors circulated that the US was poised to retake the Iranian government, and the infamous Iranian Hostage Crisis ensued.

In the wake of the crisis, the late Ayatollah Khomeini dubbed America the Great Satan, a term that has been co-opted ever since by Islamophobes determined to portray Iranian leaders as hateful and irrational. The Iranian Hostage Crisis enraged Americans, and spawned Iranophobia, a special strain of fear and hatred that has never entirely faded from public memory.

Apparently emboldened by the dispute, Saddam Hussein subsequently waged war on Iran. The US supported and armed Saddam Hussein, who was an ally at the time. Hundreds of thousands of Iranians were killed during the Iran-Iraq War.

In the years since, US policy has remained aggressive and hypocritical in the eyes of many Iranians, and for good reason. Sanctions hurt the people of Iran and do little to weaken the regime, and frequent saber rattling by the US and Israel is unsettling:

When Iranians burn the American flag in street demonstrations – they are NOT showing hatred toward Americans; they are in fact pointing out the the U.S. government has and is continuing to try to destroy Iran and Iranians.

Who is the U.S. government fooling? Maybe Americans – but not Iranians. We know the truth and understand fully the harm that is being imposed on Iran – every single day.

As much as Iranians despise their current regime and adore Americans on a personal level, they are united in the opposition to foreign intervention. If the US attacks Iran, Iranians will rally around the flag. As the aforementioned article  in the New York Times states:

Left to its own devices, the Islamic revolution is headed for collapse, and there is a better chance of a strongly pro-American democratic government in Tehran in a decade than in Baghdad. The ayatollahs’ best hope is that hard-liners in Washington will continue their inept diplomacy, creating a wave of Iranian nationalism that bolsters the regime — as happened to a lesser degree after President Bush put Iran in the axis of evil.

Like the people of Iran, most Americans support diplomacy and are opposed to war. While it’s true that most Americans don’t reciprocate the love Iranians feel for them, it is largely because they glimpse into Iranian society exclusively through the corporate media.

Hardliners on both sides fan the flames of hatred and mutual distrust because it serves their nefarious agendas. The interests of the people lie in recognizing each others’ common humanity.

Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam Declares Support for a Constitutional, Democratic State

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , on July 1, 2011 by loonwatch

So what happens when the world’s oldest Islamic university and seminary declares support for a constitutional, democratic state? Deafening silence from the Islamophobesphere, why of course. It proves the lie to the claim that somehow Islam and Muslims are impervious to Democracy, Rule of Law, Equal Rights and universal suffrage.

Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam declares support for a constitutional, democratic state

(Al-Ahram)

In a statement titled “Al-Azhar Document” and read on national television, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed El-Tayeb, the country’s highest religious authority, outlined his institution’s vision on key political, social and economic issues that have been subject to raging debates across the country for months.

The product of a consensual agreement reached between Al-Azhar officials and numerous prominent intellectuals and religious figures following extensive discussions over the last few weeks, the Document contains 11 main articles and is meant to serve as a foundation for a new social arrangement in post-Mubarak Egypt.

The statement opens with a definitive and unequivocal position on the contentious debate taking place in society between liberal forces and religious currents on the nature of the relationship between religion and the state in a new Egypt.

In a clear rejection of the argument put forward by many Islamic Salafists, the Grand Imam laid out his support for a ‘democratic and constitutional’ state.

“Islam has never, throughout its history, experienced such a thing as a religious or a theocratic state,” El-Tayeb said. He added that theocratic states have always been autocratic and humanity suffered a great deal because of them.

The document stressed its support for universal democratic rights such as free and democratic elections where the citizens as a whole constitute the sole and legitimate source of legislation.

The Grand Imam said that striving towards social justice needs to be a basic component in any future economic arrangement in Egypt. He stressed that affordable and decent education and health care services must become a right for all citizens.

The document was explicit in its support for freedom of expression in the arts and literary fields within the accepted boundaries of Islamic philosophy and moral guidelines. It highlighted the need for expanded scientific and popular campaigns to combat illiteracy and advance economic progress.

“We need a serious commitment to universal human rights, the rights of women and children,” El-Tayeb said.

In a clear reference to the status of religious minorities especially Copts, the Grand Imam stated that citizenship must be the sole criterion by which both rights and responsibilities are administered in society.

The document emphasised the right of all citizens to practice any of the three main religions in complete freedom. Along those lines, the Grand Imam admonished all those “who use religion to incite sectarian strife or those who accuse others of religious apostasy simply based on political disagreements.”

The document asked all Muslims to refer to Al-Azhar’s religious opinions as the highest and final word in all disputed theological matters.

In foreign affairs, the document stressed that Egypt must regain its once prominent status in the Arab, Muslim and African spheres, maintain its sovereign and independent decision making process and continue its support for the Palestinian people.

Finally, the Grand Imam demanded that the Institution of Al-Azhar be independent of the state. Along those lines, the document pointed out that the Supreme Clerical Committee of Al-Azhar not the government – as has been the practice for decades – chooses the position of Grand Imam.

Bryan Fischer: Muslims Can Either Convert…or Die

Posted in Feature, Loon Pastors with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 1, 2011 by loonwatch

Looks like the Crusades are on again. Imagine if Fischer were some Mullah instead of a Christian?

From RightwingMediaWatch:

The only thing that will give us a shot at building a democracy in an Islamic land is a mass conversion of its people to biblical Christianity. So that means if we want to see freedom come to those darkened, benighted lands, we should be sending missionaries in right after we send in the Marines to neutralize whatever threat has been raised against the United States. So we say to them, look, if you don’t want our missionaries, fine, that’s your choice, we’ll take our missionaries and our Marines, we’ll take them home, but we’re gonna let you know we have no hesitation about returning with lethal force if the forces in your country threaten us again. This time it’s Marines and missionaries, next time it’ll be Marines and missiles.

Loonwatch Stands by the Libyan Protesters who are being Mercilessly Massacred

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2011 by loonwatch

Gaddafi is killing his people, he has taken JihadWatch’s Roland Shirk’s advice for a “Tienanmen Square option.” No one knows what the end game will be, how this will all end but we know Gaddafi is weakened, his regime is tottering on the edge, diplomats and military officials have defected from the regime. God protect the Libyan people, they are seeking justice, an end to tyranny, a chance to choose their leaders, and freedom.

Also, I want to mention that there are a number of loonwatchers in Libya and I hope that they are safe and sound. One more thing Loonwatch also supports those who are peacefully assembling and seeking Democratic and economic change across the Arab and Muslim world. Algeria, Morocco, Bahrain, Yemen, Iran all are worthy of support and recognition. They are putting their lives on the line for a better future.

Live Blog – Libya Feb 22

(AlJazeera)

Blog: Feb17 – Feb18 – Feb19 – Feb20 – Feb21

AJE Live Stream – Twitter Audio: Voices from Libya – Benghazi Protest Radio (Arabic)

(All times are local in Libya GMT+2)

February 22

8.22pm: William Hague, British Foreign minister, said there are many indications that Gaddafi’s government is headed towards collapse, with diplomats resigning and the government in crisis.

8.20pm: The Brazilian Government called on Libyans to seek a solution to the crisis through dialogue and reiterated its repudiation to the use of violence.

8.18pm: Oliver Miles, the former British Ambassador to Libya, told Al Jazeera Gaddafi’s speech was “meant to make our blood run cold”. He said he would not rule out Gaddafi sticking it out to the very end.

8.15pm: Al Jazeera’s Jamal Elshayyal at Sidi Barani, a town on the Egyptian side of the border with Libya, said Egyptians were still returning home. He also said doctors carrying blood and other medical aid were crossing the border carrying supplies over into Libya.

8.11pm: German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called Gaddafi’s speech “very very frightening” and said he had declared war on his own people..

8.08pm: The Arab League put out an official statement condemning the events in Libya, but Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros reported from Cairo that leading Egyptian political figure Mohamed ElBaradei said he was disappointed that the League did not take a stronger stand against the injustices.

8.02pm: In his defiant speech, Gaddafi said he will “cleanse Libya house by house” if protesters did not surrender.

7.59pm: Libyan state television is still showing pictures of government supporters following Gaddafi’s speech:


7:57pm: Libya is suspended, immediately, from the Arab League. More details to follow.

7:51pm: We’re expecting a closed UN meeting at 8pm GMT. Any UN member can attend – and the plan is/was for Libya’s Deputy Ambassador to also give a briefing.  However, the surprise appearance of Libya’s ambassador  – who has been remarkably absent in the past few days – at late notice could cause a problem, our UN correspondent tells us.

UN protocol suggests they would have to defer to the ambassador for a briefing, whose position is in sharp contrast to the deputy ambassador, who told us yesterday that Gaddafi should face trial. Ambassador Abdel Rahman Shalgam to an earlier press conference:

I am with Gaddafi but I want the bloodshed to stop. I am not calling on him to step down.  If one Libyan has been killed – not ten or 20 – but one-  this is a crime. Gaddafi is brave, he will make a decision.  There is confusion – I have spoken to a relative in Libya and there has been no airbombing.

7.49pm: Reports from our contacts on the ground tell us military vehicles and helicopters are headed toward towns outside Tripoli. Jeeps started rolling immediately the speech ended, we understand.

7.46pm: Gaddafi called on “all those who love Gaddafi” to come out and demonstrate in his support tomorrow. State TV shows uhge crowds waving green flags and holding pictures of Gaddafi. Much as with the YouTube videos we’ve been sent over the past few days, with limited media access to the country, there’s no way to independently verify when or where the pictures were recorded.

7.44pm: More reports emerging of protesters, quite literally, torn limb from limb durnig the past few days.

7.34pm: In case you missed it – the backdrop to Gaddafi’s speech – a piece of artwork showing a clenched fist crushing a US fighter jet, in front of the words “Allahu Akbar” [God is the greatest].

7.30pm: After the EU suspends its Libya Framework Ageement, and amid international condemnation of Gaddafi, where is President Obama? Rosalind Jordan, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Washington DC explains:

You didn’t need the translation to see how much Gaddafi was trying to blame this on the US, among others. So the White House doesn’t want to make any public speeeches – they’re very aware of how that could be seen across the country.

Gaddafi asked, in his speech: ‘Do you want the Americans to come and occupy you like in Afghanistan and Iraq?’ If the president weighs in now, the Libyan authorities may well use that against the protesters.

US senator John Kerry wants the UN to step in – and for the African Union to investigae alleged use of mercenaries.

7.29pm: Analyst Ashur Shamis tells Al Jazeera: “There is no doubt Gaddafi will follow through on his threats against the people of Libya.”  Looking over the past 24hours of our Live Blog updates, we’ve had some incredibly violent reports already.

7.27pm: Following Gaddafi’s speech, online reports of gunfire being heard throughout Tripoli.

7.25pm: Earlier on Tuesday, Al Jazeera spoke to Yasmine, a Libyan student in the UAE. She said she had spoken to a friend who lives in Benghazi:

As we were speaking, she said there was an old lady that just walked out onto her balcony that was immediately shot at and died. She didn’t do anything, she didn’t protest, she didn’t even open her mouth and she was shot immediately.

People are very very scared and they are still out in the streets protesting because everybody is angry and they are fed up and they want a change and they don’t want this guy to lead the country anymore, neither him or his sons, nobody wants them anymore.

They have been suffering for 43 years in silence. this is out of fear and now they have had enough. They are angry they are willing to risk everything, their lives, absolutely everything to get this guy out of the country.

7.21pm: Ashur Shamis a Libyan journalist told Al Jazeera that Gaddafi will go down fighting. He saidthere was no way the Libyan people would take note of Gaddafi’s speech. “I don’t think people are frightened anymore, but those were serious threats of force,” he said.

In his speech, Gaddaafi said “when they are prosecuted they will be begging for mercy”.

7.19pm: All eyes are now on the Libyan military. Will we see another situation as we did in Egypt? Tonight?

7.18pm: He offered a new constitution, to be put in place from tomorrow.  Offers the pople “whatever form of government they want”.

7.16pm His main point was an attempt to blame “drugged youth” and foreign imperialists.  He used the chilling example of the 1989 massacre at Tianenman Square: “The integrity of China was more important than those in Tianenmen Square.

7.14pm So, he’s not stepping down – and will “die a martyr”, he says.

7.12pm: Gaddafi’s speech has finally finished.  He gets his hand kissed by a loyalist and waves to what appears to be about half a dozen senior officers still listening.  State TV now showing thousands of people cheering…

7.07pm: Talking about Gaddafi’s address on state television, Ibrahim Jibreel, a Libyan political analyst told Al Jazeera “we just watched a lunatic rant and rave for the last hour and a half”.

“There was no substance to this [speech].. There was really no message to this besides the threats”.

“The interesting thing is that Libya has no constitution but he has threatened the death penalty for people who fail to follow the constituion,” Jibreel said.

6.55pm: Carlos Latuff posted this image of “courageous Libyan people” on Twitpic:

6.52pm: Britain said it planned to send a charter plane to Libya to bring out British nationals and was dispatching a Royal Navy frigate to waters off Libya in case it was needed to help Britons.

6.50pm: French Prime Minister Francois Fillon on Tuesday said he was “horrified by the explosion of violence” in Libya.

6.48pm: Al Jazeera’s Nazanine Moshiri reports from Tunisia that 4000 people crossed the border at Ras Jedir on Tuesday, according to Tunisian border police, the majority of them Tunisians.

6.45pm Social networks were a-buzz during Gaddafi’s speech on state television. Here are some responses recorded on Twitter:

Mona Eltahawy @monaeltahawy

The “head of the Popular Revolution” is being overthrown by the real Popular Revolution in #Libya. I love it. #Gaddafi desperation beautiful

Jeel Ghathub @Libyan4life

#Gaddafi doesn’t mean dignity

sunnkaa @sunnkaa

#gaddafi wants civil war. he wants #libyans to kill libyans

Shadi Hamid @shadihamid

If there was any doubt before, there is no longer: Qaddafi has unequivocally declared intention to massacre his own ppl #Libya

Libyan Dude @ChangeInLibya

Guys, can you see the irony? What he’s telling people to do is what is being done AGAINST HIM… What a madman… #libya #feb17

Ali Abunimah @avinunu

We can laugh, but never forget this is a sinister man who is threatening Libyans with even more massacres if they don’t do his bidding.

6.20pm: In his second television address since the start of the current unrest, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi says he will not leave Libya and will die a martyr. He criticised ‘Arab media’, saying it painted an insulting picture of Libyans.

Gaddafi says Libya has resisted Britain and the US previously, and it will not surrender now.

He also said:

Muammar Gaddafi is not the president, he is the leader of the revolution. He has nothing to lose. Revolution means sacrifice until the very end of your life

We challenge America with its mighty power, we challenge even the superpower

Muammar Gaddafi is not a normal person that you can poison.. or lead a revolution against

I will fight until the last drop of blood with the people behind me

I haven’t even started giving the orders to use bullets – any use of force against authority of state will be sentenced to death

They are just imitating Egypt and Tunisia

Protesters want to turn Libya into an Islamic state

If you love Muammar Gaddafi you will go out and secure Libya’s streets

Watch Al Jazeera’s Livestream and follow @AJELive on Twitter.

5.59pm: Muammar Gaddafi gives a speech on Libyan State Television:


Watch Al Jazeera’s Livestream for more.

5.49pm: Qassem Najaa, a former Libyan airforce colonel, tells Al Jazeera that the country’s army has been oppressed by Gaddafi for years, and is now turning against him.

5.39pm: Germany’s foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, says international sanctions against Libya will be inevitable if the country’s regime continues to put down protests violently.

5.32pm: Libyan soldiers in Tobruk told Reuters news agency that protesters are now in control of the city.

This map, posted on yfrog apparently shows other areas under citizen control:


5.28pm: Libyan anti-government protesters from across the UK have gathered outside Downing St in London. Protesters are angrily calling for Gaddafi to step down. One protester, Mohamed Maklouf,  commented on the “hypocricy” of the West:

They don’t care about the Arabs, they don’t care about the Libyans, they only care about the oil.”

5.17pm Al Jazeera’s Cal Perry reports from Malta that the Italian navy is monitoring a Libyan naval vessel stalled in waters just off the coast of Malta. There are possible allegations that the vessel may have defected. More details are being sought.

“Malta has become a departure point and entry point for people trying to flee Tripoli [Libya’s capital],” Perry said, “As the situation develops, it’s also becoming a place perhaps where we’ll see more and more Libyan officials coming here to defect, because it’s just geographically close.”

5.08pm The Italian Foreign minister has condemned the events in Libya, saying: “I strongly deplore, all violence against the demonstrators and the deaths of civilians in Libya”.

I call for, as does the Council of the European Union, an immediate end to the use of force against the demonstrators. And I underscore that the Libyan authorities must respond, through dialogue, to the legitimate aspirations and demands for reform voiced by the people. A dialogue that must be open, full, significant and national, and which must lead to a constructive future for the country and for its people.

The country’s defence minister, Ignazio La Russa, has also denied the news reported on some blogs and social networking sites of alleged raids by Italian fighter planes in Libya. He said:

I can deny the allegations in the firmest manner. Somebody is clearly not aware of the ethics of the  Italian Government and  Armed Forces

4.58pm: Ibrahim Jibreel, a Libyan political analyst, spoke told Al Jazeera the international community needs to take active steps in protecting the rights of the Libyan people.

“[Gaddafi] needs to feel the heat from the international community in one way or another,” he said.

He added that a no-fly zone around Libya was a good thing, but it was not enough. “We need troops on the ground to protect the people, and also to record what is happening on the ground.”

4.52pm: Libya’s side of the border with Egypt is in the hands of anti-government protesters. Al Jazeera’s Jamal Elshayyal at Sidi Barani, a town on the Egyptian side of the border reports that hundreds of Egyptians living in Libya continue to flee the country.

4.44pm Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is expected to speak shortly. Watch Al Jazeera’s Livestream for more.

4.25pm Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, spoke to Al Jazeera about the recent events in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, saying:

The events in each country have been up to the people of that country …

From the standpoint of determining their own future, of meeting their needs in the future, that is principally up to the people in each country”.

He added:

The US, as every country throughout the world,  would look to how to engage to see how we can support this kind of change in a way that is meaningful, but it is up to the people of the country to make the decisions about their own future.

4.11pm Twitter user Carlos Latuff posted this image of Gaddafi “drowning in the blood of martyrs” on Twitpic:


3.50pm Mona Rishmawi, legal adviser to UN high commissioner on human rights,  told Al Jazeera they were extrememly concerned by allegations of the use of “hired guns” against civillian protesters in Libya. She said intergovernmental bodies must show a united front and send a clear message that what is going on in Libya must stop right now.

Rishmawi added:

Any measures taken to protect the civillians in Libya are very important at this stage … if there are planes, if there are snipers, if there are civillians being killed indiscriminately.. it has to stop.

… Allegations of gross violations of human rights, allegations of crimes against humanity are extremely serious.. I think it is very important for this situtaion to stop now.

3.40pm The Arab League is to hold an emergency meeting in Cairo on Tuesday, to discuss the unrest in Libya. Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros, reporting from Cairo, said Amr Moussa, the League’s secretary-general, expressed concern about recent events, saying the Libyan people have a right to sk for regime change.

The Arab League is made up of leaders from other countries, some of which are also experiencing unrest, including Yemen, Algeria and Bahrain. Tadros noted:

It will be interesting to see exactly how they word that bit of the statement regarding regime change.

3.38pm Sources have told Al Jazeera that the bombing from warplanes on Monday had targeted ammunition depots in Libya. The aim was to apparently stop protesters getting hold of weapons.

3.26pm Al Jazeera’s Rosiland Jordan, reporting from Washington DC, said there is “widespread horror among the Libyan diplomatic core” about what is currently happeninig in the country, with many resigning and some even calling the government’s actions “genocide”.

Speaking about the resigned diplomats, Jordan said:

Certainly while they have been stepping aside from their official government roles, it is not clear whether or not they would be able to have any impact on events inside Libya, because if they are saying they now represent the people and not the Gaddafi government, it may very well be difficult for them to try to mobilise any sort of action on behalf of the people, other than from the images we have been seeing on television

3.01pm Libya’s ambassador to the United States has resigned from what he calls a “dictatorship” regime.

The Reuters news agency reported amabssador Ali Aujali, speaking to ABC’s “Good Morning America,” saying:

Let me start by saying that I resign from serving the current dictatorship regime, but I will never resign from serving our people until their voices reach the whole world, until their goals are achieved

2:47 pm A YouTube video uploaded today shows Benghazi “after the victory against Gaddafi”:

2:11 pm The first report from the Egyptian border with Libya by Al Jazeera’s Jamal Elshayyal:

 

Boris Van der Ham: ‘The Rights of Man in the Arab World’

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2011 by loonwatch

Interesting message. This is from the Netherlands and it is interesting to note that one person in particular, Geert Wilders’ anti-Islam and anti-Arab message has been dealt a severe blow.

(hat tip: Jack)

 

Three questions: Egypt’s transition

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2011 by loonwatch

(AlJazeera English)

Three questions: Egypt’s transition

by Marwan Bishara

As change sweeps Egypt and becomes imminent in Arab political life, Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst, evaluates the speed and efficacy of the transition to democracy.

What are the chances that the transition could still go wrong in Egypt?

New decisions of the supreme military council such as dissolving the country’s unrepresentative parliament that came after rigged elections, bodes well for the dismantlement of the old regime and erecting a new one.

However, the military’s insistence to keep the Mubarak appointed Ahmad Shafiq government for the transitional period has raised concern. Likewise, freezing the constitution is a double edge sword.

While it allows for writing a new more democratic constitution, it could also enable the military leaders to act according to its own interest, rather than the interest of the revolution.

It also begs the question, why hasn’t the military command cancelled the emergency laws nor freed those arrested during the last three weeks, not to mention the political prisoners.

All of which underlines the importance of continued pressure on the military until the regime is completely dismantled and its calls for a new temporary government to oversee the transition to democratic elections are heeded.

Today, public pressure is crucial to maintain the momentum towards positive change. While working with the military is indispensable for peaceful change, progress can’t be held hostage to its prerogatives.

Those with leverage over the Egyptian military, such as the Obama administration, need to keep the pressure on the generals to act as the true guardians of the revolution and its transition to republican democracy.

Otherwise, matters could get out of hand once again if the military falls back to old way of doing business, as pressure builds up against the spirit and of the revolution and its potential to spread throughout the region as a whole. After all many are bound to lose because of the historic changes taking place in Egypt.

Who are the potential losers from the Egyptian revolution?

In the short term, the foremost  loser are the region’s  autocrats who most likely will face serious pressure as the spirit of peoples’ power spread around the Arab and even Muslim world. So will al-Qaeda and its ilk that preferred violence to peoples’ power.

In the long run, the three theocracies, or theocracy-based regimes – Israel, Saudi Arabia and Iran – could see their religious-based legitimacies falter in favour of civic and democratic legitimacy as more people rise and claim their governments as citizens and people not subjects and sects.

A united, democratic and strong Egypt can regain its long lost regional influence as an Arab leader. It will eclipse Saudi Arabia, put the belligerent Israeli occupation on notice, and curtail the Iranian Ayatollahs’ ambition for regional influence.

In reality none of these regimes would like to see the Egyptian revolution succeed, regardless of what they might say publicly. And if they can help reverse it or contain it, they will without any hesitation. Fortunately however, their conflicting agendas, animosity and differences will prevent these autocrats and theocrats from jointly conspiring against the young revolution.

How will the revolution attain its goals?

If the foremost winners from the revolution, peoples’ power and democracy, are to succeed, the revolutionaries must stay steadfast and continue to apply pressure for change.

Future praise of the military should be conditional on its performance.

The revolution has accomplished so much, but serious challenges lie ahead. It’s no picnic reversing decades of stagnation, corruption and nepotism.

They need to convince the military that they seek not merely cosmetic reform that encourages passivity and defuse the revolutionary spirit for change, nor mere change of faces and titles. Rather, they seek to wipe the table clean of the old ways and means.

It’s this only their revolutionary spirit and yearning for radical change that will insure their achievements are not lost or compromised. In the words of one American republican: Extremism in the pursuit of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.

Egyptian revolutionaries have at last changed their and the Arab long held Arab motto “In-shallah” or “God willing” that presumes lack of action and indecision. Today’s spirit is in the realm of Ma-shallah, or “God wills it”, and it’s up to the people to make it happen.

As the Egyptian military command tries to bring back “normalcy” – which invokes stagnation in the minds of many – Egyptians are seeking extraordinary.

 

Let Freedom Ring From Cairo!: Hosni Mubarak Resigns

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature with tags , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2011 by loonwatch

Is it any surprise that the Islamophobes are the most against this uprising.

Hopefully now the Egyptians can reconstruct the system to be a free and Democratic nation.

Hosni Mubarak resigns as president

(AlJazeera English)

Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, has resigned from his post, handing over power to the armed forces.

Omar Suleiman, the vice-president, announced in a televised address that the president was “waiving” his office, and had handed over authority to the Supreme Council of the armed forces.

Suleiman’s short statement was received with a roar of approval and by celebratory chanting and flag-waving from a crowd of hundreds of thousands in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, as well by pro-democracy campaigners who attended protests across the country on Friday.

The crowd in Tahrir chanted “We have brought down the regime”,  while many were seen crying, cheering and embracing one another.

Mohamed ElBaradei, an opposition leader, hailed the moment as being the “greatest day of my life”, in comments to the Associated Press news agency.

“The country has been liberated after decades of repression,” he said.

“Tonight, after all of these weeks of frustration, of violence, of intimidation … today the people of Egypt undoubtedly [feel they] have been heard, not only by the president, but by people all around the world,” our correspondent at Tahrir Square reported, following the announcement.

“The sense of euphoria is simply indescribable,” our correspondent at Mubarak’s Heliopolis presidential palace, where at least ten thousand pro-democracy activists had gathered, said.

“I have waited, I have worked all my adult life to see the power of the people come to the fore and show itself. I am speechless.” Dina Magdi, a pro-democracy campaigner in Tahrir Square told Al Jazeera.

“The moment is not only about Mubarak stepping down, it is also about people’s power to bring about the change that no-one … thought possible.”

In Alexandria, Egypt’s second city, our correspondent described an “explosion of emotion”. He said that hundreds of thousands were celebrating in the streets.

Pro-democracy activists in the Egyptian capital and elsewhere had earlier marched on presidential palaces, state television buildings and other government installations on Friday, the 18th consecutive day of protests.

Anger at state television

At the state television building earlier in the day, thousands had blocked people from entering or leaving, accusing the broadcaster of supporting the current government and of not truthfully reporting on the protests.

“The military has stood aside and people are flooding through [a gap where barbed wire has been moved aside],” Al Jazeera’s correspondent at the state television building reported.

He said that “a lot of anger [was] generated” after Mubarak’s speech last night, where he repeated his vow to complete his term as president.

‘Gaining momentum’

Outside the palace in Heliopolis, where at least ten thousand protesters had gathered in Cairo, another Al Jazeera correspondent reported that there was a strong military presence, but that there was “no indication that the military want[ed] to crack down on protesters”.

Click here for more of Al Jazeera’s special coverage

She said that army officers had engaged in dialogue with protesters, and that remarks had been largely “friendly”.

Tanks and military personnel had been deployed to bolster barricades around the palace.

Our correspondent said the crowd in Heliopolis was “gaining momentum by the moment”, and that the crowd had gone into a frenzy when two helicopters were seen in the air around the palace grounds.

“By all accounts this is a highly civilised gathering. people are separated from the palace by merely a barbed wire … but nobody has even attempted to cross that wire,” she said.

As crowds grew outside the palace, Mubarak left Cairo on Friday for the Red Sea resort of Sharm al-Shaikh, according to sources who spoke to Al Jazeera.

In Tahrir Square, hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered, chanting slogans against Mubarak and calling for the military to join them in their demands.

Our correspondent at the square said the “masses” of pro-democracy campaigners there appeared to have “clear resolution” and “bigger resolve” to achieve their goals than ever before.

However, he also said that protesters were “confused by mixed messages” coming from the army, which has at times told them that their demands will be met, yet in communiques and other statements supported Mubarak’s staying in power until at least September.

Army statement

In a statement read out on state television at midday on Friday, the military announced that it would lift a 30-year-oldemergency law but only “as soon as the current circumstances end”.

IN VIDEO
http://english.aljazeera.net/AJEPlayer/player-licensed-viral.swf
Thousands are laying siege to state television’s office

The military said it would also guarantee changes to the constitution as well as a free and fair election, and it called for normal business activity to resume.

Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Tahrir Square said people there were hugely disappointed with that army statement, and had vowed to take the protests to “a last and final stage”.

“They’re frustrated, they’re angry, and they say protests need to go beyond Liberation [Tahrir] Square, to the doorstep of political institutions,” she said.

Protest organisers have called for 20 million people to come out on “Farewell Friday” in a final attempt to force Mubarak to step down.

Alexandria protests

Hossam El Hamalawy, a pro-democracy organiser and member of the Socialist Studies Centre, said protesters were heading towards the presidential palace from multiple directions, calling on the army to side with them and remove Mubarak.

“People are extremely angry after yesterday’s speech,” he told Al Jazeera. ”Anything can happen at the moment. There is self-restraint all over but at the same time I honestly can’t tell you what the next step will be … At this time, we don’t trust them [the army commanders] at all.”

An Al Jazeera reporter overlooking Tahrir said the side streets leading into the square were filling up with crowds.

“It’s an incredible scene. From what I can judge, there are more people here today than yesterday night,” she said.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters havehered
in the port city of Alexandria [AFP]

“The military has not gone into the square except some top commanders, one asking people to go home … I don’t see any kind of tensions between the people and the army but all of this might change very soon if the army is seen as not being on the side of the people.”

Hundreds of thousands were participating in Friday prayers outside a mosque in downtown Alexandria, Egypt’s second biggest city.

Thousands of pro-democracy campaigners also gathered outside a presidential palace in Alexandria.

Egyptian television reported that large angry crowds were heading from Giza, adjacent to Cairo, towards Tahrir Square and some would march on the presidential palace.

Protests are also being held in the cities of Mansoura, Mahala, Tanta, Ismailia, and Suez, with thousands in attendance.

Violence was reported in the north Sinai town of el-Arish, where protesters attempted to storm a police station. At least one person was killed, and 20 wounded in that attack, our correspondent said.

Dismay at earlier statement

In a televised address to the nation on Thursday, Mubarak said he was handing “the functions of the president” to Vice-President Omar Suleiman. But the move means he retains his title of president.

Halfway through his much-awaited speech late at night, anticipation turned into anger among protesters camped inTahrir Square who began taking off their shoes and waving them in the air.

Immediately after Mubarak’s speech, Suleiman called on the protesters to “go home” and asked Egyptians to “unite and look to the future.”

Union workers have joined the protests over the past few days, effectively crippling transportation and several industries, and dealing a sharper blow to Mubarak’s embattled regime.

 

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , on February 1, 2011 by loonwatch

via Andrew Sullivan’s blog

 

Pamela Geller Watch: The blogger who still loves Mubarak

Posted in Loon Blogs with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2011 by loonwatch

The blogger who still loves Mubarak

(Salon.com)

While some conservatives fancifully imagine that George W. Bush’s foreign policy misadventures led to these demonstrations in the Arab world, and while others acknowledge that Mubarak is awful but the rest of those Muslims are even worse, one prominent conservative blogger is openly rooting for the repressive Mubarak regime to survive: Pamela “Atlas Shrugs” Geller.

Last night, a classic Geller headline: “GOOD NEWS: EGYPT ARRESTS MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD LEADERS.”

In other words, members of the opposition were swept up and jailed in preparation for a day of demonstrations against the authoritatian government. And this opposition group was not even involved in the initial protests, though they joined in the ongoing demonstrations that began on Friday. “It’s a good preventative measure no matter who wins this power struggle,” Geller wrote.

But as the world became transfixed by the images out of Egypt today, Geller worried that Barack Obama might abandon our wonderful ally, Hosni Mubarak.

Mubarak has been a US ally for decades. We send three billion dollars a year to Egypt. And Egypt made a peace deal with Israel. But knowing Obama, he will throw another ally under the bus.

Geller continued to demonstrate the limits of her simplistic, binary understanding of the world. “I am all for political freedom,” she wrote, except that she prefers Mubarak to, uh, political freedom.

Loonwatch Stands with Protests for Freedom in Egypt

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 28, 2011 by loonwatch

Loonwatch, like many around the world has been glued to events in Egypt. Will it go the way of Tunisia, full blown revolution, or will brutal repression quell the revolt as happened in Iran?

Only time will tell. You can follow the live stream of what is happening in Egypt at AlJazeera’s Live Stream.

The governments of the West in general and the US in particular have given luke warm platitudes about their support for peace, rights etc. Hillary Clinton in the beginning stages of the protests this week left a sour taste in the mouths of the protestors when she essentially extended her support for the Mubarak regime,

I urge all people to exercise restraint. I support the fundamental right of expression, but our assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people

This is realpolitik speak that translates to “we want the status quo” and the Egyptian people know it and they resent it because it exposes the hypocrisy of the so-called beacon of “democracy and freedom.”

Vice President Joe Biden blurted out some hours ago what perhaps may be the true sentiments/wishes of the US government:

Mubarak is no dictator, he shouldn’t step down…

How out of touch is Biden? Is he blind? Does he think we are children?

Today Hillary Clinton came out with a statement that on its surface seems to contradict Biden’s revelatory position,

“People in the Middle East, like people everywhere, are seeking a chance to contribute and have a role in decisions that will shape their lives…The Egyptian government needs to understand that violence will not make these grievances go away”

While these statements indicate an improvement in rhetoric they fall far short of a condemnation of the violence and repression perpetuated by the Mubarak regime.

The events in Tunisia and Egypt have all but thrown a wrench in the stereoptypes perpetuated by anti-Arab/anti-Muslim racists and Islamophobes.

It proves that regime change need not come at the point of a gun, and that Democracy can be born in the Middle East through organic change from the grass roots as opposed to the Bush Doctrine.

It proves that the stereotype that Arabs and Muslims are incapable of change unless it be either theocratic or despotic is a racist lie. These protests are for better living conditions, jobs and DEMOCRACY!

It also proves that despite attempts at enflaming sectarian division between Muslim and Christian Egyptians by extremists in both the extremist Muslim and anti-Muslim camps they are more united than ever. During protests Egyptian Copts protected their Muslim brethren as they prayed and vice versa!

It exposes quite clearly the hypocrisy and double standards of many in the West who give zero credit to the Arab and Muslim peoples, it also exposes their close link and dealings with decadent despotic regimes. We can’t help but notice the difference between the reaction to protests in Iran and these protests, can it be that denunciations are affected by how friendly or adverse one is to the regime in question?

The Egyptian people have tasted liberation, have tasted the idea that they can take destiny into their own hands and bring about –real change– that can lead to a brighter future, may they succeed in transitioning to Democracy.

Update #1: Tear gas canisters are…drum roll…MADE IN THE USA:

Update #2: From mp11,

“Spencer is having a hard time turning the protests in Tunisia and Egypt into a Jihad.

In his latest offering he tells his stupid readers that when Muslims call for democracy and freedom they are in fact calling for Shariah.

“Calls for democracy effectively amount to calls for Islamic rule.”

Update #3: Some 2,000-3,000 people thronged around a military vehicle near Cairo’s Tahrir square, a Reuters witness said. They climbed on it, shaking hands with the soldiers, and chanted: “The army and the people are united” and “The revolution has come”. (AlJazeera English)

Update #4: Mubarak breaks his silence, attempts to look defiant. Is he adding fuel to the fire?

Update #5: King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia speaks, “No Arab and Muslim human being can bear that some infiltrators, in the name of freedom of expression, have infiltrated into the brotherly people of Egypt, to destabilize its security and stability and they have been exploited to spew out their hatred in destruction, intimidation, burning, looting and inciting a malicious sedition,’” the news agency said.

Some autocratic ally of ours is scared isn’t he?

Update #6: “‘Democracy is something beautiful,’ said Eli Shaked, who was Israel’s ambassador to Cairo from 2003 to 2005, in an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE. Nevertheless, it is very much in the interests of Israel, the United States and Europe that Mubarak remains in power.‘”

Update #7: “Which would I rather have, the autocrat or the Islamic radical Democracy,? I don’t know, that’s a question that’ll keep me up at night” –Geraldo Rivera

Rivera should keep looking for Al Capone’s secret safe and not talk about things he has no knowledge of makes him sound really stupid.

 

Spencer Supports Old Persian Dictator: Reza Shah

Posted in Loon Blogs with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 23, 2010 by loonwatch

From Spencerwatch

Robert Spencer who has been ceaselessly attacking Reza Aslan for calling him out for being a bigot and an Islamophobe, (a fact which is a consensus amongst sane people) wrote an article not too long ago in which he claimed that Reza Aslan was somehow an apologist for the Iranian regime because a “genuine pro-democracy movement of free Iranians is on to NIAC.”

NIAC is an organization in which Reza Aslan is a board member it supports the growth of a Democratic Iran and the Green Movement. It is an understatement that whenever Spencer claims something is “genuine” it turns out to be a lie.

The so called “genuine movement of free Iranians” that Spencer is referencing is something calledPDMI, and as we reported then it is an anti-Islam site run by a single anonymous individual who admires Reza Shah, the dictator who was overthrown by the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

If you don’t remember who Reza Shah is then this interview might give you some sort of inkling:

I am guessing this won’t go over so nice with your patrons the Chernick’s Robert.

We can now add to the crack-pot dictators, fascists and neo-Nazis that Spencer supports: Geert Wilders (Right-wing Dutch neo-Fascist), EDL (English Defense League),SIOE (Stop the Islamization of Europe), BPE (Bürgerbewegung Pax Europa), Ewald Stadler (Far right Austrian politician), BZO, Sergei Trefkovic (Serbian Nationalist, genocide denier), and Reza Shah.

 

Cyberpath still on the War Path against Ahmed Rehab and Reza Aslan

Posted in Feature, Loon Blogs with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2010 by loonwatch

How sad can Robert Spencer get? My colleagues at LoonWatch have termed him an Internet Psychopath. Perhaps a more fitting description would be a Cyberpath.

Blowing the whistle on Robert Spencer’s pyscho-cyber path syndrom:

Cyberpath: People that possess a NarcissisticSociopath , or Psychopathpersonality disorder where they use the Internet as a tool against others on the Internet (their victims) in order to harm, bully, abuse, provoke, troll, torment, created conflict, destroy, damage, deceive, flame and inflame others for their own gratification , for example, seeking personal or financial gain.

This describes Robert Spencer to a tee. He has graduated from being a psychopath to being an all out Cyberpath. His narcissistic image of himself doesn’t allow for him to let any perceived slight or blight (even if it doesn’t exist) against his person go.

This has manifested itself in his recent Crusade against two Muslims who don’t really fit the extremist mold as far as any discerning viewer can note: Reza Aslan and Ahmed Rehab.

Spencer has stooped to calling the two “Islamic Supremacists.” Their crimes, aside from blasting Spencer as belonging in the “trash bin of history” seems to be that they “look metrosexual” (I didn’t know Spencer the flobby anti-Muslim polemicist was also a fashion expert, his attire would suggest otherwise), won’t entertain Spencer and his arguments as serious but view him as a bigoted clown, and that they are active in protecting the rights of Muslims.

In a little over 48 hours Spencer has produced 7 pieces of varying length and verbiage against both Aslan and Rehab, essentially confirming himself as their cyberstalker.

Islamic Supremacist Reza Aslan: “Nothing can stop the spread of Islam” (Spencer relies on one of his followers, Evan Mark, for this “quote.” No one in the media reported it, but when we look at the actual speech we see that what Aslan is saying is that there are fundamentalists (such as Spencer) who wish to destroy Islam and to go to war with Islam and strip Muslims from practicing or preaching their religion, Aslan said that this is stupid and is not going to happen because Islam is a great world faith and all indicators are it is going to keep growing.)

Bill O’Reilly Fawns over anti-Semitic Islamic Supremacist Ahmed Rehab of Hamas-linked CAIR (I sense a bit of jealousy and envy on the part of poor ole’ irrelevant Spencer. No longer able to bask in the 5 minute glory of the ginned up “NYC Ground Zero Mosque” controversy, no one wants him on air. In fact they don’t want to be near him with a ten feet pole because he is just that ludicrous. He is sad that O’Reilly, a hardcore Right-winger, had a Mooslim with some intelligence on his program and not awkward self-proclaimed academic Robert Spencer.)

Pro-Democracy Movement of Iran protests State Department’s Sending lobbyist for Islamic Republic on tax-payer-funded jaunt to Saudi Arabia (By pro-Democracy what he means is the anti-Islamic and neo-Conservative organization PDMI, an Orwellian organization that includes one Amil Imani whose vitriol against Muslims would put Geert Wilders to shame. Not to mention that it is so “pro-Democracy” that it hosts a portrait of “His Majesty Mohammed Reza Shah,” a real scion of Democracy!.)

Juan Williams and the Left’s Intellectual Bankruptcy ( a Human Events piece that continues his worn out attacks of Leftist/Mooslim stealth conspiracy to advance Jihad)

State Department sponsors Saudi trip of apologist for Islamic Republic of Iran(Trita Parsi, the reason they dislike him, an individual who supported the Green Movement that called for Reforms in Iran, and who are the real Pro-Democracy advocates is because he isn’t a hysterical anti-Muslim bigot)

CAIR’s Ahmed Rehab and the Use of Ridicule (a hypocritical piece in which Spencer whines about being ridiculed by Ahmed Rehab while at the same time previously and in this blog piece calling Ahmed Rehab a “metrosexual who uses lipstick and eyeliner.”)

CAIR’s Brave Ahmed Rehab, who ran from debate with me, claims never to have run from a debate (The “objective scholar,” very “scholarly” slings personal attacks and lies against Ahmed Rehab. O’ Little Cyberpath (to include a variation on an Andrew Bostom quote) how can someone “duck” a debate with you when they didn’t agree to one in the first place? I guess facts don’t matter to faux-scholars!)

 

Bill Maher Sounds Like Jerry Falwell

Posted in Feature, Loon Media with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 10, 2010 by loonwatch
Bill Maher and George Bush: Closer in thought then we ever knew?Bill Maher and George Bush: Closer in thought than we ever knew?

You might be reading the title, Bill Maher Sounds Like Jerry Falwell and thinking to yourself, “What?! Bill Maher hates religion, and if I recall he blasted Jerry Falwell at the time of his death for being an intolerant, huckster con-man.” It is true that Maher has made a lot of money out of mocking religion, all religion, he made a movie about it called Religulous. In fact, Maher is constantly seen with his anti-religion crew promoting atheism and agnosticism.

So how could he possibly sound like a Christian fundamentalist such as Jerry Falwell? An analysis of Maher’s work and comments about Islam reveal he has a special and unique bias against Islam that goes well beyond his condemnation or mocking of other religions, which is unfortunate because he has a lot of hilarious and witty things to say about various topics.

Maher’s bias leads to moments where he loses his rationality and rather than comment with his usual sardonic logic, he falls into emotion and repeats worn out stereotypes and caricatures of Islam and Muslims. If that weren’t egregious enough, he also makes statements that are flat out empirically false.

So how does an atheist who prizes rationality and empirical evidence fall so hard off of the beaten path? Some might say it’s the weed but let’s look at the evidence for a second.

The first piece that I want to draw to your attention is a five minute section of the New Rules portion of Bill Maher’s Real Time.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39d1fHRHrM4&feature=player_embedded 350 300]

Maher is on the wrong foot from the very beginning. He starts his monologue by creating an exclusive frame that depicts Islam as the “other,” something that is “outside” and does not belong to the West. This might have something to do with Maher’s ignorance of history since Islam has been a part of the West for over a millennium now. There is no need for me to go into detail about the historical interplay and exchange of commerce, goods and ideas between the Muslim world and the West, nor of the presence of Muslim communities, but if the construct of the “West” is to mean anything it has to include Islam and Muslims.

Omar Baddar makes just such a point and a further rebuttal in his excellent article in the Huffington Post on Maher’s recent confusion,

The implied premise that Judaism and Christianity belong to a cohesive unit called “the West” which stands in distinction from another cohesive unit called “the Muslim world” is absurd. But even if one accepted this false dichotomy, why did Maher’s example of “the craziest religious wackos we have here in America” stick to nonviolent fanatics? Why not abortion clinic bombers?

And what about Jewish extremists in the Palestinian territories? I haven’t heard an argument for why their brutal attacks on western human rights activists accompanying children to school, routine vandalism, and other violent acts coupled with chants of “we killed Jesus we’ll kill you too” are any less wacko.

Structural constraints are another obvious factor to consider. You see, the Taliban can act like they do because they live in a lawless state, and extremist settlers can act like they do because of a culture of impunity provided by the structure of Israeli apartheid. So while Pat Robertson may seem harmless, by comparison, when he issues adeath fatwa on Hugo Chavez, or when he blames a hurricane or an earthquake on gay sex or a pact with the devil or something, a useful question to contemplate is whether he and his followers would be as benign (if one could describe them as such) if they could get away with worse behavior. Thankfully, we live in a system that can enforce law and order; and our wackos have the alternative outlet of lobbying the government for wars against Iraq and Iran, and they send over 100,000 emails to the White House for the perpetuation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, so direct violence from them is somewhat less likely.

I would just add one more comment to the prescient points raised by Baddar above. Our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan did and do have an active religious component in them. How else can we characterize the war briefings read by Donald Rumsfeld that were always headlined with quotes from the Bible? The Daily Times reported at the time,

The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was sold as a fight for freedom against the tyranny of Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction.

But for former U.S. defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his elite Pentagon strategists, it was more like a religious crusade.

The daily briefings about the progress of the war that Mr Rumsfeld gave to President George W Bush were illustrated with victorious quotes from the Bible and gung-ho photographs of U.S. troops, it has emerged.

….

One of the top-secret ‘worldwide intelligence updates’, which were hand-delivered to Mr Bush by Mr Rumsfeld, includes an image of an F-18 Hornet fighter jet roaring off from the deck of an aircraft carrier.

On it were the words of Psalm 139-9-10: ‘If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast, O Lord.’

The cover of another featured pictures of U.S. soldiers at prayer with a quote from Isaiah: ‘Whom shall I send and who will go for us? Here I am Lord, Send me.’

A photograph of Saddam Hussein included a quotation from the First Epistle of Peter: ‘It is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.’

The religious theme for briefings prepared for the president and his war cabinet was the brainchild of Major General Glen Shaffer, a committed Christian and director for intelligence serving Mr Rumsfeld and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

In the days before the six-week invasion, Major General Shaffer’s staff had created humorous covers for the briefings to alleviate the stress of preparing for battle.

But as the body count rose, he decided to introduce biblical quotes.

Mr Bush, a born-again Christian, believed the invasion was a ‘mission from God’.

Another of his briefings included the words ‘Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed’ alongside a photo of a U.S. marine with a machine gun.

And on an image of U.S. tanks rumbling through the Victory Arch monument in Baghdad was a quote from Isaiah: ‘Open the gates the righteous nation may enter, the nation that keeps the faith.’

A photograph of U.S. tanks in Iraq used a further passage from Isaiah: ‘Their arrows are sharp, all their bows are strung, their horses’ hoofs seem like flint, their chariot wheels are like a whirlwind.’

biblical_quotes_defense

These are wars that have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and were instigated and supported in large part by right-wing Christians and Zionists. It is also salient to mention the involvement of Erik Prince the leader and founder of Blackwater, a security service hired by the State Department and who many consider to be nothing more than a squad of mercenaries. Prince himself is aChristian supremacist and in an affidavit from a former employee is accused of viewing “‘himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe,’ and that Prince’s companies ‘encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life.’”

There are many more examples that we can give, the Lord’s Resistance Army,  Christian witch-hunts,American Evangelical collusion in the Uganda gay death bill and the war on Gaza in which Israeli soldiers were told by Rabbis in  pamphlets to be “cruel” and not to “spare” the Gazan population, even “innocent civilians.”

So the claim that Muslim “wackos” are somehow uniquely more dangerous or wacky than extremists in other faiths is not only false, it is disingenuous.

However, Maher’s bigoted rant didn’t stop there, it also included his preaching about how “our culture” is better than their “culture.” I thought Maher would have realized by now that NOT ALL MUSLIMS are alike. Not all Muslims speak Arabic, live in caves, beat their wives 24-7, etc.  It’s a point that As’ad Abu Khalil made painfully obvious to Maher and his guests ten years ago when Maher hosted Politically Incorrect (video at bottom). Did Maher just forget that convenient fact or is he just fulfilling the buffoonish American caricature he so often loves to lampoon?

Omar Baddar commented on Maher’s incoherence quite succinctly,

I described Maher’s tirade as incoherent because the “them” in Maher’s equation shifted from “the developing world” at one point, to people whose culture “makes death threats to cartoonists,” to “the Taliban,” and eventually to “Muslims” (not exactly interchangeable terms). None of these categories can be lumped into a “Muslim culture” because the Muslim world is simply too vast to collapse into a cultural category. From Eastern Europe to Africa, from Lebanon to Pakistan, and from Iran to Indonesia, we are talking about completely and fundamentally different cultures. In all five Arab/Muslim countries where I grew up (and went to school with girls in all of them), women are an integral part of public life, and many of them dress like Western women do. So I can assure Maher that many of these societies are not waiting for “the West” to lecture them on whether women can work.

The incoherent ramble got even more incoherent, after making a mealy mouthed and half-hearted disclaimer that “in speaking of Moslems we realize that the vast majority are law abiding, loving people who just want to be left alone to subjugate their women in peace” Maher went on to preach to Moslems saying,

“but I got to tell ya, civilized people don’t threaten each other…threatening, that’s some old school desert s***, and I am sorry, you can’t bring that to the big city. I am very glad that Obama is reaching out the Moslem world, and I know Moslems living in America and Europe want their way of life assimilated more, but the Western world has to make some things clear, somethings about our culture are non-negotiable and can’t change and one of them is Freedom of Speech, seperation of Church and State is another, women are allowed to work here and you can’t beat them, not negotiable, this is how we roll, and this is why our system is better, and if you don’t get that and you still want to kill someone over a stupid cartoon, please make it Garfield.”

The fact is Muslims didn’t react to the South Park cartoon. This was a controversy completely whipped up by the media that gave a group of four-nobody-morons far more attention than they deserved. If Bill Maher and his staff had done a little research, instead of focusing on Revolution Muslim, they would have asked the far more penetrating and relevant question of why so much attention was given to an unknown group that has zero credibility or support amongst American Muslims. Of course this would not fit into the preset narrative that the “Godzilla of crazy religions” (as Maher would put it) “must be offended and threatening.”

Bill Maher also should be put on notice, about how people who don’t believe in his “us vs. them” mentality roll. He should be put on notice about what democracy really is about. It isn’t about high voltage diatribes, and self-congratulatory head nodding, or putting down “the other”. There is also a duty to uphold justice and equality. Muslims don’t want to “assimilate more,” (last I checked that isn’t a condition for being Western) they are already here, they are integrated and they are contributing, and he should know the highest incidences of domestic violence occur here in America, where 2 to 4 million women are the victims of domestic violence every year and in which a quarter of the population will have been victims of domestic violence in their lifetimes.

After this show Bill Maher was on Anderson Cooper 360, and in my opinion it was one of the worst interviews I have seen in a long time. It was so bad that I wished I was watching Bill O’ Reilly or Glenn Beck. On the show Bill Maher repeated many of things he said on Real Time, but one thing was exceptionally noteworthy:

“I haven’t read the Quran in its original, when you read the translation there are many, many, many passages that are not peaceful at all, that are about killing the infidel and so forth, there are many passages like that in the Bible too, not as many.”

Is he serious? The Quran itself is about the size of the Psalms, and only a few hundred of the 6,000 verses relate to fighting and all of them have a context and explanation. None of them command a Muslim to just “slay the infidel.” However, the Bible is filled with exhortations to violence, wiping out whole nations, slaying pagans, enemies and non-Jews who live in Israel. This is one of the reasons that the Israel-Palestine conflict is so intractable, the view by religious Jews that not one centimeter of historic Israel should be owned by a non-Jew.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZN-FhDrB3A 350 300]

I would challenge Bill Maher to find one verse in the Quran equal or even a quarter equal to this odious commandment in the Bible,

“How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones against the rock.” Psalm: 137:9

He will be unable to as there are no verses that come close to advocating such horrendous behavior in the Quran. As far as his retort that Jews and Christians don’t follow such things, a simple search on the internet will disabuse him of that and reinforce the fact that there are people who take the Bible literally and are willing to exact Biblical commandments such as the one above (see Sabbath breakers getting stoned, and license to murder babies).

Part of me believes all of this is for attention.  It seems that Maher desperately wants a fatwa on his head.  He wants the status it would give him: the fame and the soaring ratings. He’ll have ensured himself a position next to Salman Rushdie as one of the victimized on the pantheon of atheist stardom. Maybe it will give him some meaning in an utterly purposeless life?

This whole episode reminds me of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, a story in which the pigs lead the other animals in a coup overthrowing the human beings who rule the farm. Once the pigs come to power, they take on the same odious traits of the human beings that had led to the revolt in the first place. The pigs became intolerant, manipulative, chauvinistic, and shallow. Orwell meant it to be a story about the failures and potential flaws of communism but the analogy could be applied equally to many of the new atheists, of whom Bill Maher is one, who rant and rave about the intolerance, shallowness, and wide sweeping claims of the religious but like the pigs are taking on those very same traits.

————————————————————————————————————————-

Please check out this very instructional episode of Politically Incorrect a few months after 9/11. It is very interesting and highlights the psychology of Islamophobia that languishes deep even in self professed liberals. As’ad Abukhalil really lays it into them,

Part 1:

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cu1jajbOnBw 350 300]

Part 2:

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STY5FwyJ2O8&feature=related 350 300]

Part 3:

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5ENu4zT92c&feature=related 350 300]

Part 4:

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqnuKfCddK0&feature=related 350 300]

 

Reuters: European push to ban burqas appalls Afghan women

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 2, 2010 by loonwatch

niqab

(hat tip: MuslimMatters.org)

(Reuters) – A firm believer in women’s rights, the only thing Afghan lawmaker Shinkai Karokhail finds as appalling as being forced to wear a burqa is a law banning it.

Karokhail is one of many Afghan women who see a double standard in efforts by some European nations to outlaw face veils and burqas — a move they say restricts a Muslim woman’s choice in countries that otherwise make a fuss about personal rights.

“Democratic countries should not become dictatorships and Muslim women should not be deprived from all kinds of opportunities. It should be their choice,” said Karokhail.

“Otherwise, what is the difference between forcing women to wear a burqa and forcing them not to? It is discrimination.”

France, which has the largest Muslim population in Europe, as well as Italy and Belgium are considering proposals to ban all-enveloping burqas and face veils called niqabs. Many in the West see them as a symbol of the subjugation of women.

In France, government and opposition lawmakers call burqas an affront to the country’s secular traditions, though an advisory board has said a banning them may be unlawful.

In deeply conservative Afghanistan, the Taliban made wearing a burqa mandatory for all women during their five-year rule that ended with the U.S-led invasion in 2001. It is still widely worn in the Muslim country, especially in rural areas and the south.

Shukriya Ahmadi, a 35-year-old Afghan government employee, has ditched the burqa since the days of being forced to wear it during Taliban rule. Still, she has only scorn for Western governments seeking to outlaw them.

“This shows they use democracy, freedom of religion and human rights issues only when it suits their purposes,” Ahmadi said.

PUNISH THE MEN

She suspects burqa legislation will only help a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan gain support from outraged Muslims and win recruits for their insurgency campaign against the Afghan government and U.S.-led NATO forces.

University student Farida, 20, is another Afghan woman who says the move smacks of a double standard.

“I have never worn a burqa and do not like it,” she said. “But why would the West, which calls itself a supporter of democracy take such a decision? I am perplexed and sad.”

Even one of Afghanistan’s most outspoken and controversial women, former lawmaker Malalai Joya, is a staunch opponent of efforts to ban burqas or tight headscarves called hijabs.

She dislikes burqas, but wears it anyways as a cloak of protection from warlords she has been critical of in the past.

“As much as I am against imposing the hijab on women, I am also against its total ban. It should be regarded a personal matter of every human being and it should be up to women if they prefer to wear it or not,” she told Reuters by email.

“It is against the very basic element of democracy to restrict a human being from wearing the clothes of his/her choice. These governments better punish those men who force women to wear hijab, but if any woman wears it out of her own wish, there should be no ban on it.”

source

 

Ugandan Legislation Calls for Execution of Gays; What if they were Muslim?

Posted in Loon Pastors, Loon TV with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 7, 2009 by loonwatch
Martin SsempaMartin Ssempa

A prominent evangelical pastor in Uganda, Martin Ssempa has proposed and received wide backing for a law which would jail homosexuals and murder “flagrant” homosexuals. He has received support for this from the president of Uganda and a large number of politicians. Ssempa, is connected to a number of American Evangelical organizations and politicians. What would happen if it were an Imam or a Muslim country proposing this legislation, you could be sure Spencer and company would be howling to the wind about it, but on this news story we hear not a peep from them.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNirBgffRkM 300 250]

From Advocates to Outlaws

KAMPALA – If Uganda?s recently tabled Anti-Homosexuality Bill becomes law, Frank Mugisha and other individuals found campaigning for gay rights will face the choice of going to jail or leaving the country.

Mugisha heads Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), a leading sexual rights advocacy group that could soon be classed a criminal organization.

“I have never really considered moving out of Uganda. But if I cannot work within the country, then I will have to leave,” said Mugisha.

The bill has baffled legal experts who read it as the product of an over-zealous Evangelical community that is clueless about both Uganda?s constitution and international law.

But for the bill?s proponents, chief among them Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo, who has repeatedly alleged that there exists an organized, western-backed plot to recruit people into homosexuality, the law is necessary to confront a national emergency.

Homosexuality is spreading, Buturo argues, and if people like Mugisha aren?t stopped they will continue to lure impressionable youths into their sinful lifestyle and thereby threaten the perpetuation of the Ugandan people.

“Who is going to occupy Uganda in 20 years if we all become homosexuals? We know that homosexuals don?t reproduce,” Buturo said last year when announcing plans to table the bill.

In one of its most curious provisions, the draft law calls on Uganda to nullify any international treaty or convention that is inconsistent with the spirit of anti-homosexuality.

“You cannot as a country say we will nullify all the treaties we have ratified in the past,” Sylvia Tamale of Kampala?s Makerere University Law School told AFP.

For Tamale, the bill?s composition reveals an absence of qualified legal input and an unhealthy amount of input from people like Martin Ssempa, a prominent Evangelical pastor and internationally known anti-gay crusader who has confirmed having contributed to the bill.

“It would be political suicide for any Ugandan politician to vote against this. Leaders will have to ask themselves, do I listen to my own people, or … to top down orders coming from New York and the UN,” he added.

Ssempa seems to relish the criticism hurled at him by western rights groups, but he is concerned the proposal will create a fissure within the Evangelical Church.

“The western church is going to find itself increasingly at odds with the African church and find itself in a situation where there is a split like in the Anglican Church,” he said.

Ssempa told AFP he was disappointed by a recent statement by American mega-Pastor Rick Warren, who delivered the convocation at US president Barack Obama?s Inauguration.

Warren did not mention the Anti-Homosexuality Bill specifically, but said he and his wife ended their relationship with Ssempa, “when we learned that his views and actions were in serious conflict with our own”.

Mugisha is an unlikely candidate to be at the centre of such politically charged debate.

From SMUG?s humble three-room office in a Kampala suburb he explained he never wanted to become a political advocate.

While in university, he volunteered as an undercover health researcher, finding out which clinics could treat certain conditions and where gay men could access the things necessary for safe sex.

He distributed the information on-line and through a small support group he founded.

When SMUG?s leadership learned about his work, they lobbied him to get involved.

At first reluctant, he eventually gave in, and was appointed chairperson of the group in 2007.

He smiled when recounting his earlier health work.

“These young boys, they didn?t know anything about being protected,” he said, half-laughing.

If the new bill had been in place at the time, Mugisha?s attempts to promote safe sex could have qualified as a crime. “Aiding and abetting homosexuality” attracts seven years in prison.

Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.

 

Update: Swiss Voters Ban Minarets

Posted in Feature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 29, 2009 by loonwatch

svp-anti-minaret-poster

So much for Democracy and Freedom of Religious expression.

Swiss voters have supported a referendum proposal to ban the building of minarets, official results show.

More than 57% of voters and 22 out of 26 cantons – or provinces – voted in favour of the ban.

The proposal had been put forward by the Swiss People’s Party, (SVP), the largest party in parliament, which says minarets are a sign of Islamisation.

The government opposed the ban, saying it would harm Switzerland’s image, particularly in the Muslim world.

The BBC’s Imogen Foulkes, in Bern, says the surprise result is very bad news for the Swiss government which also fears unrest among the Muslim community.

Our correspondent says voters worried about rising immigration – and with it the rise of Islam – have ignored the government’s advice.

“The Federal Council (government) respects this decision. Consequently the construction of new minarets in Switzerland is no longer permitted,” said the government in a statement, quoted by the AFP news agency.

Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said the result reflected fear of Islamic fundamentalism.

“These concerns have to be taken seriously. However, the Federal Council takes the view that a ban on the construction of new minarets is not a feasible means of countering extremist tendencies,” she said.

She sought to reassure Swiss Muslims, saying the decision was “not a rejection of the Muslim community, religion or culture”.

Switzerland is home to some 400,000 Muslims and has just four minarets.

After Christianity, Islam is the most widespread religion in Switzerland, but it remains relatively hidden.

There are unofficial Muslim prayer rooms, and planning applications for new minarets are almost always refused.

Supporters of a ban claimed that allowing minarets would represent the growth of an ideology and a legal system – Sharia law – which are incompatible with Swiss democracy.

But others say the referendum campaign incited hatred. On Thursday the Geneva mosque was vandalised for the third time during the campaign, according to local media.

Before the vote, Amnesty International warned that the ban would violate Switzerland’s obligations to freedom of religious expression.

‘Political symbol’

The president of Zurich’s Association of Muslim Organisations, Tamir Hadjipolu, told the BBC that if the ban was implemented, Switzerland’s Muslim community would live in fear.

“This will cause major problems because during this campaign in the last two weeks different mosques were attacked, which we never experienced in 40 years in Switzerland.

“So with the campaign… the Islamaphobia has increased very intensively.”

Sunday’s referendum was held after the People’s party collected 100,000 signatures from eligible voters within 18 months calling for a vote.

SVP member of parliament Ulrich Schluer said the campaign had helped integration by encouraging debate. He rejected the charge of discrimination.

In recent years many countries in Europe have been debating their relationship with Islam, and how best to integrate their Muslim populations.

France focused on the headscarf, while in Germany there was controversy over plans to build one of Europe’s largest mosques in Cologne.

The Islamophobes reaction is one of jubilation. Robert Spencer comments, “Swiss apparently vote to ban minarets, Because they symbolize a “political-religious claim to power” — which, of course, they do.”

Of course Pamela Geller wouldn’t be outdone by Spencer, she writes in a post titled Victory! Swiss Ban Mosque Minarets in a Landslide Vote,

HAMMER THEIR HELMETS! BLUNT THEIR BAYONETS! (metaphorical reference to no more mosques)The Swiss have hand enough. They actually had the spine to take back their country.

Further Reading on the story: Minaret Ban Wins Swiss Support

 

Switzerland: Minaret Ban would Breach Religious Freedom

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on November 26, 2009 by loonwatch

svp-anti-minaret-poster

The Swiss people will be going to the polls on Sunday to vote on a referendum on whether or not to ban Minarets. Amnesty International has stated that if a ban on Minarets passes it will be a breach of religious freedom.

Amnesty International: Ban would breach religious freedom

A ban on the construction of minarets would breach Switzerland’s obligations to uphold freedom of religion, Amnesty International said ahead of a referendum on Sunday 29 November on a constitutional amendment on the issue.

The proposal, which was initiated by members of two Swiss parties, will ask Swiss voters if they wish to add the sentence ‘The construction of minarets is forbidden’ to Article 72 of the Constitution.

The initiators of the referendum claim that the construction of minarets is not protected by the freedom of religion as they have ‘no religious significance’. They assert that minarets are ‘symbols of a religious-political claim to power and dominance which threatens – in the name of alleged freedom of religion – the constitutional rights of others.’

Amnesty International UK Campaigns Director Tim Hancock said:
‘The people of Switzerland should reject this proposal outright. This would make a strong statement that they support equality of rights for everyone living in the country.

‘Freedom of religious belief is a basic human right and changing the Swiss constitution to ban the construction of minarets would clearly breach the rights of the country’s muslims.

‘Of course, someone building a mosque should be subject to the same reasonable planning restrictions as anyone else. But these must be applied equally to all. To specifically target minarets while, for example, allowing the construction of church spires would discriminate against muslims on the basis of their religion.’

Islam is the second largest religion in Switzerland after Christianity, and its followers represent over 4 per cent of the country’s population.

There are hundreds of places of worship (mostly in commercial buildings or private residences) in Switzerland but only four minarets have been built.

The Swiss government and all the other major political parties are recommending a ‘no’ vote in the 29 November referendum. Local Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders have also joined forces to reject a ban on minarets.

They say that the referendum also poses a threat to peaceful relations between the religions and inhibits the endeavours of Muslims in Switzerland to integrate with the rest of the population.