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.