Archive for USA

Juan Cole: Basic Facts on Clothing and Murder for American Bigots

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2012 by loonwatch

Hard hitting piece from Juan Cole, addressed to the bigots (h/t:BA):

Basic Facts on Clothing and Murder for American Bigots

(Informed Comment)

Dear American bigots:

Basic Fact: Wearing a veil, as Iraqi-American Shaima al-Awady did before she was brutally murdered in her home as part of a hate crime, does not make a person a terrorist. You don’t mind it when pious Roman Catholic women wear a nun’s habit, and you recognize that dress as a sign of dedication to God. You don’t blame all the violence ever committed by Roman Catholics, or events like the Inquisition, on a nun in your neighborhood. Be as tolerant to pious Muslim women.

Basic Fact: Wearing a hoodie is not an invitation to murder, as Geraldo Rivera suggested it was in the case of Trayvon Martin. In fact, if you think about it, St. Francis of Assisi wore a hood, as did many other saints and monks. In the United States, we don’t kill people for how they dress, but how dressing like St. Francis is a crime is a special mystery.

Basic Fact: And, by the way, there is nothing worse than being both a bigot and a f*ck-up. So for God’s sake leave the poor Sikhs alone. Few Muslim men wear turbans, so if you see someone with a turban and a beard, he is likely from Indian Punjab and not a Muslim. I mean, you shouldn’t be bothering Muslims either, but your sad ass is definitely going to clown hell if you shoot down a Sikh because you mistook him for a Muslim.

Basic Fact: And by the way, all this emphasis on clothing as a motive for murder is just a smokescreen for sidestepping the real issue, which is that bigots shouldn’t be allowed to have hand guns. In fact, since you can’t hunt deer with a hand gun and most owners of a hand gun are not reservists in the National Guard of their state, it is unclear why the US tolerates so many hand guns. In countries like Britain, which do not, the murder rate by gun is vanishingly small compared to the annual carnage in the US.

Staff Sergeant Robert Bales and America’s “Abysmal” Record in Prosecuting War Crimes

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2012 by loonwatch

(H/T: JD) How should one even discuss the ethical implications of the “death penalty” when such a consideration is absurd in light of the USA’s abysmal record in prosecuting war crimes committed by its soldiers and leaders.

Usually those involved in massacres are treated with sympathy, given a slap on the wrist and or exonerated in one form or another:

Robert Bales, Afghanistan Shootings Suspect, Not Likely To Face Death Penalty

(HuffingtonPost)

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the death penalty is possible if a U.S. military court finds an Army staff sergeant guilty of gunning down Afghan children and family members. But it isn’t likely.

History shows that the U.S. military system is slow to convict Americans, particularly service members, of alleged war crimes. And when a punishment is imposed, it can range anywhere from life in prison all the way down to house arrest. Other factors can seem to play more of a role than the crime itself.

In the case of Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the suspect in the March 11 Kandahar shootings, legal experts say the 38-year-old married father of two young children could face a lengthy prison sentence if convicted of the crime, which has threatened U.S.-Afghan relations. But on his fourth combat tour and with a head injury on his record – the sergeant remembers little about that night, Bales’ lawyer says – he might well be shown some leniency by the military jury, even if convicted.

“Political pressure is going to drive the push for the death penalty. Doesn’t mean they’re going to get it,” said Charles Gittins, a Virginia-based defense attorney who represents service members and has handled capital cases.

Of the long list of alleged U.S. atrocities – from prison massacres in World War II to the slaughter of civilians at My Lai in Vietnam – relatively few high-profile war crimes believed to involve Americans in the past century have resulted in convictions, let alone the death penalty.

In the case of My Lai, President Richard Nixon reduced the only prison sentence given to three years of house arrest. In the 2005 Haditha shooting of Iraqi civilians, eight Marines were charged but plea deals and promises of immunity in exchange for testimony meant no prison sentences.

Prosecution against Blackwater employees in the 2007 shootings in Baghdad’s Nisoor Square similarly floundered as civilian prosecutors tried to assemble the case. Charges eventually were thrown out on the grounds that prosecutors mishandled evidence, although a federal appeals court last year resurrected the case.

Legal experts say a big part of the challenge is assembling forensic evidence and eyewitness testimony from remote, often dangerous parts of the battlefield thousands of miles away from the United States. And there’s an emotional component, too, in prosecuting U.S. citizens who have risked their lives in combat.

“Terms like `fog of war’ mean nothing legally,” said Eugene Fidell, who teaches military law at Yale University. “But there’s a reluctance to invoke the full moral sanction of criminal justice in these cases.”

The military hasn’t executed a service member since 1961. And like that case in 1961, in which an Army ammunition handler was hanged for raping an 11-year-old girl in Austria, none of the six men on death row at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., today were convicted for atrocities against foreign civilians. All of their crimes involved the killing of U.S. civilians or fellow service members.

The military doesn’t even have the equipment necessary to carry out an execution. If a service member were to be put to death, the military would rely on the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind.

Of note is that U.S. service members – as well as contractors supporting them in war zones – are subject to a different set of rules than civilians when it comes to capital punishment. Unlike in the civilian world, the president must personally agree to the death sentence of a service member.

Gittins estimates that since 1961, more than half of the death penalty cases involving U.S. service members have been overturned by military appeals courts. He attributes that high percentage in part to the lack of experience that military judges and prosecutors have in pursuing capital cases. Inexperience means making mistakes, he says, which higher courts use to knock down rulings.

“If someone does two (military death penalty cases) in their entire career, that would be miraculous,” he said. The question Panetta and others will have to ask, Gittins says, is whether pursuing the death penalty for Bales is worthwhile, given the likelihood such a punishment wouldn’t stick anyway.

Human Rights Watch in Washington, which opposes the death penalty, says it’s not clear the U.S. has the political stomach to follow through with the prosecution of war crimes involving its own citizens.

Andrea Prasow, the organization’s senior counterterrorism counsel, said there was only one word to describe America’s track record for punishing war crimes: “abysmal.”

She says she is most troubled by a lack of accountability in suspected abuse of detainees, including the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq and secret interrogations led by the CIA.

“Every time a case is not prosecuted, it contributes to a culture of impunity,” Prasow said.

Much of U.S. policy in recent years has focused on protecting troops from prosecution by foreign states. In the 1990s, the U.S. objected to the creation of an international court to prosecute war crimes, in part because of the potential that such a court might try to claim jurisdiction over American troops fighting abroad.

And while Congress in 1996 agreed that the standards for treating prisoners of war as outlined by the Geneva Conventions should be put into law, lawmakers revised the rules 10 years later under pressure by the Bush administration out of concern that U.S. interrogators could be prosecuted for alleged war crimes.

The U.S. also has insisted on maintaining immunity from local prosecution for its troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, signing specific agreements with those countries that preserve the military’s legal jurisdiction in all cases involving service members.

While the U.S. track record for prosecuting alleged war crimes is spotty, some say the tide is changing.

In one 2006 case, four soldiers were given substantial prison sentences for raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and killing her and her family. Steven Dale Green, a former 101st Airborne soldier, is serving five life terms after jurors couldn’t agree on whether to impose the death penalty.

Stephen Carter, a Yale law professor who writes frequently about the ethics of war, notes that many of the cases that are prosecuted are aided by other service members tipping off authorities.

“Nearly all of our military forces serve with enormous honor and courage. It bears mention that at Abu Ghraib, just as at My Lai, it was fellow soldiers who blew the whistle on the perpetrators,” Carter wrote in a Newsweek Magazine editorial.

Trayvon Martin: The Myth of US Post-Racialism

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon Violence, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on March 23, 2012 by loonwatch

We must start connecting the dots, racism, which is alive and well in the US is very much related to Islamophobia. The tragic slaying of Trayvon Martin exemplifies the point that the USA’s original sin of “racism” is still alive and well:

Trayvon Martin: The myth of US post-racialism

(AlJazeera English) by Linda Sarsour and Khalid and Khaled Beydoun

Washington, DC – Trayvon Martin was just beginning his life. Trayvon Martin was a son. He was a high school junior, with college to look forward to, a career and perhaps a family of his own.

Trayvon Martin was many things, but for George Zimmerman, he was just Black.

The teenager’s race was enough to raise “suspicion” and trigger the neighbourhood watchman – who possessed no training or authority, except for his racist prerogatives – to murder an unarmed and frightened teenager running for his life.

On November 28, 2011, no other colour but his Blackness mattered – and his rush for safe haven was intercepted by Zimmerman, and the structurally entrenched demonisation of Black men codified in our laws, perpetuated by our police forces and subscribed to by our friends and colleagues, classmates and family members.

Trayvon Martin is not, as many writers and pundits commented following his death, “a reminder of American racism”. For Africans Americans and most people of colour, racism, xenophobia and religious animus are common, if not expected, parts of their daily lives.

In the case of Trayvon Martin, a twin set of correlated racisms prematurely ended his life: Zimmerman’s view that a young Black male must be engaged in criminal or thuggish activity by virtue of his race alone; and the neighbourhood watchmen and police alike who execute the structural racism embedded in police departments and penal systems nationwide in the name of the law.

The myth of the Obama era

The election of President Barack Obama, for white America, signalled the shift away from America’s racially charged past. After 2008, white Americans have contended that the United States is experiencing the embryonic stages of a post-racial moment; Martin’s murder is a reminder of the fatal consequences of racism that makes the headlines. Yet, the intermediary steps – the institutional racism and empowering of people like Zimmerman – to police our communities either formally or informally are not deemed newsworthy.

Racism, generally understood as a conscious perspective, action or decision, is a salient core of the US’ history and present. American racism is interwoven into the country’s narrative, codified in its law and entrenched in its institutions. Its authors and gatekeepers were, and are, still largely white.

Whites seldom experience racism, either in its fatal, frequent, or latent form. This constructs the political ideology that the rest of the US has entered this racism-free utopia. Citizenship to this colour-blind state, however, is denied to African Americans, Muslim Americans and Latinos by virtue of a triumvirate of suspicions: crime, terrorism and illegal immigration.

However, whites are not the only culprits of racism. On March 10, an Arab American gas station clerk on the Westside of Detroit gunned down and killed a 24-year-old African American customer after a dispute over the high-price of condoms. Racially charged crimes and murders between Latinos and Blacks are all too frequent, and the sometimes-explosive tension between Asian American and Arab American storeowners is well documented.

Institutional and structural racism is still robust in the US. This is evidenced by the disparate incarceration rates of brown and Black Americans, the decimation of affirmative action and race-conscious legislation in the US, the crumbling public education systems in minority-populated communities and the all too common cold blooded murders of people of colour – both in the US and beyond its boundaries, whether by policemen, neighbourhood patrolmen or soldiers.

The ‘worst of a national psychosis

Kumar Rao, a defence lawyer for the Bronx Defenders in New York City, stated that: “Martin’s killing reflects the absolute worst of a national psychosis: The view that Black males – young and old alike – are inherently threatening and unworthy of personal security; and that the state’s commitment to enduring that belief is perpetuated and institutionalised.”

Trayvon Martin’s murder was avoidable, but yet perversely justified through the cold silence of the state.

Zimmerman was a neighbourhood patrolman – not a police officer – but the distinction is thin in this instance. Some police officers, from Miami to Oakland, exhibit the same reckless and cavalier behaviour as Zimmerman. What is more troubling is that police officers and entire departments routinely cover up racially charged arrests, the roughing up of individuals under custody and operate with impunity under the cover of the law.

Yet, for Zimmerman, he had no such cover. This makes this case more absurd and baffling, particularly because he was given police orders to “discontinue his chase of Martin”, as revealed by 9/11 tapes released on March 19. If Zimmerman, a neighbourhood watchman – a volunteer with no training – had obeyed the policeman’s order, Martin would still be alive today.

Zimmerman ignored those order, and took the law into his own hands; he has still not been arrested.

The importance of Trayvon Martin’s is also based on the urgency of the current socio-political moment. The New York Police Department makes every Muslim in the City, whether Black or Arab, South Asian or Latino, targets of illegal spying or worse – unjust convictions of terrorism based solely on their religion and ethnicity. The fact that the NYPD so far as to label Black American Muslims as an “ancestry of interest” shows how far law enforcement would go to justify religious and ethnic profiling.

Connecting the dots

Arab and Muslim Americans in New York are connecting the dots – whether it is the stopping and frisking of young Black and Latino men or the illegal spying on the everyday aspects of Muslims, people of colour are being targeted by the largest police force in the country. In order to defeat the institutionalised racism of the NYPD and set a precedent for the rest of the country, we must build coalitions, connect our struggles and in unison demand accountability for our communities. None of us will win alone.

In June 2009, a Miami policeman shot and killed Husein Shehada, a 29-year-old Arab American, after an evening club-hopping with his brother and girlfriend. Shehada, like Martin, was unarmed and posed no threat. Yet, the white policeman, Adam Tavss, believed that Shehada’s ethnicity substantiated the suspicion to shoot and kill.

The value of Arab life – whether nameless Palestinian children bombed by American-funded fighter jets or American youth profiled, questioned and incarcerated for frequenting a particular mosque – is spiralling downwards rapidly in the US and at a more accelerated rate in the Arab World.

Trayvon Martin is not a martyr or a symbol of racial injustice. Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Malice Green or Ramaley Graham, are all other young African American men shot down and killed because of the colour of their skin and countless others that remain unnamed. Most recently, Troy Davis shook the nation as another victim of a broken justice system that continues to fail people of colour not one person at a time but through mass incarceration and mass conviction rates.

Trayvon Martin was his own person and an archetype of our brothers, our sons, our nephews, grandsons. Trayvon is Mohammed walking down Atlantic Avenue, vulnerable to patrolmen wary of his beard. Trayvon is Carlos, donning Dodger Blue in Pico Rivera, mistaken by the LAPD Gang Squad as a gangbanger because of the colour of his skin.

Linda Sarsour is Palestinian Muslim American, non-profit leader, public speaker and community organiser.

Follow her on Twitter: @Lsarsour

Khaled A Beydoun is a Washington, DC-based attorney and author.

Follow him on Twitter: @Legyptian

Israel Really Isn’t All That Friendly to Its Christians

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon Violence, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 18, 2012 by loonwatch

The shameless Israeli ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, attempted to manipulate Christian reality to score points in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some well informed commenters responded to Oren with facts:

Israel Really Isn’t All That Friendly to Its Christians

(Wall Street Journal)

Regarding Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s “Israel and the Plight of Mideast Christians” (op-ed, March 9): No doubt, his piece will be compelling for many readers. Christians in North America are generally sympathetic to Christians who suffer elsewhere. More negatively, many respond well when blame for that suffering is placed on Muslims. The biggest problem with Mr. Oren’s analysis, however, is that it stands in sharp disagreement with the perspectives shared by those he presumably wants to protect. Mr. Oren seeks to speak for Palestinian Christians before he has spoken with them.

Palestinian Christians have produced major studies of Palestinian Christian demographic trends. Difficulties created by Israeli occupation policies far outweigh pressure from Muslim neighbors as reasons for Christian migration from the West Bank. According to a study by the Bethlehem-based Diyar Consortium, “most of those who choose to emigrate” are “aggravated by the lack of freedom and security.” At “the bottom of the scale,” they found, “are family reunification, fleeing religious extremism and finding a spouse.”

It is irresponsible for Amb. Oren to make political points among some segments of the U.S. population by intentionally disregarding factors contributing to Palestinian Christian migration away from their homeland. By blaming their condition on Muslims alone, while ignoring the negative effects of Israeli occupation policies, including the debilitating economic effects of the separation barrier, Mr. Oren is using anti-Muslim sentiments among some Americans to hide the effects of Israeli policy. This cynical political rhetoric fuels extremism and does not promote peace.

The Rev. Robert O. Smith

Chicago

 

I am a Palestinian Christian, and the numbers and facts given by Mr. Oren are erroneous and misleading. With the creation of the state of Israel, 80% of Palestinian Christians were forced into exile. The number of Christians in Jerusalem dropped dramatically since the occupation of the city in 1967, and Palestinian Christians are denied access to Jerusalem. To pretend that their numbers greatly increased contradicts all statistics, including Israeli statistics. Allowing “holiday access to Jerusalem’s churches to Christians from both the West Bank and Gaza” is denying free access, and those permits are given selectively, in small numbers and revoked often with the “closure” of the occupied territories. Pretending to defend the interests of the Christians contradicts facts on the ground, where Christians suffer the same consequences of military occupation as all Palestinians. Most of the land belonging to Christians in Bethlehem is being confiscated with the building of the separation wall. Is that the “respect and appreciation” the Christian community receives from the Jewish state?

Fr. Jamal Khader, D.D.

Dean of the Faculty of Arts

Bethlehem University

Bethlehem

 

I am one of those Palestinian Christians that Mr. Oren refers to, who live inside Israel. At no time in my life have I ever felt the “respect and appreciation” by the Jewish state which Mr. Oren so glowingly refers to in his last paragraph. Israel’s Christian minority is marginalized in much the same manner as its Muslim one, or at best, quietly tolerated. We suffer the same discrimination when we try to find a job, when we go to hospitals, when we apply for bank loans and when we get on the bus. In my daily dealings with the state, all I have felt is rudeness and overt contempt.

Fida Jiryis

Fassuta, Israel

 

Amb. Michael Oren presents a distorted and inaccurate account of Christians in Palestine. He conveniently omits gross Israeli violations against the Palestinian Christian community, such as Israel’s revocation of residency rights to many whose birthplace was Jerusalem, or the fact that it restricts their right to worship in their holy sites by imposing an onerous permit system to access the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem or the baptism site on the River Jordan. Even family visitations between Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem are heavily restricted.

It doesn’t stop at that. Recently there has been a spate of attacks by Jewish extremists vandalizing Christian properties and spray-painting slogans denouncing Jesus and Mary and attacking Christianity.

Finally, Palestinian Christians are a vibrant component of Palestine’s social, cultural and religious fabric. Many of our most prominent figures in politics, academia and the arts are Christian. This is the case precisely because of a long history and deeply rooted culture of tolerance and integration in Palestine.

Ambassador Maen Rashid Areikat

General Delegation
of the PLO to the U.S.

Washington

Deadly Drones Come to the Muslims of the Philippines

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , on March 5, 2012 by loonwatch

Deadly drones come to the Muslims of the Philippines

by Akbar Ahmed and Frankie Martin (AlJazeera English)

Washington, DC – Early last month, Tausug villagers on the Southern Philippine island of Jolo heard a buzzing sound not heard before. It is a sound familiar to the people of Waziristan who live along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, where the United States fights the Taliban. It was the dreaded drone, which arrives from distant and unknown destinations to cause death and destruction. Within minutes, 15 people lay dead and a community plunged into despair, fear and mourning.

The US drone strike, targeting accused leaders in the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah organisations, marked the first time the weapon has been used in Southeast Asia. The drone has so far been used against Muslim groups and the Tausug are the latest on the list.

Just as in Pakistan and other theatres of the “war on terror”, the strike has provoked controversy, with a Filipino lawmaker condemning the attack as a violation of national sovereignty. This controversy could increase with the recent American announcement that it plans to boost its drone fleet in the Philippines by 30 per cent. The US already has hundreds of troops stationed on Jolo Island, but until now, the Americans have maintained a non-combat “advisory” role.

The expansion of US’ drone war has the potential to further enflame a volatile conflict involving the southern Muslim areas and Manila, which has killed around 120,000 people over the past four decades. To understand what is happening in the Philippines and the US’ role in the conflict, we need to look at the Tausug, among the most populous and dominant of the 13 groups of Muslims in the South Philippines known as “Moro”, a pejorative name given by Spanish colonisers centuries ago.

Sulu Sultanate

For hundreds of years, the Tausug had their own independent kingdom, the Sulu Sultanate, which was established in 1457 and centered in Jolo. The Sultanate became the largest and most influential political power in the Philippines with highly developed trade links across the region. From this base among the Tausug, Islam took root in neighbouring Mindanao Island among the Maguindanao and other groups.

The antagonistic relationship between the Moro periphery and the centre in Manila developed during the Spanish colonial era. The Spanish had arrived not long after expelling the Muslims from Spain and, intoxicated by that historical victory, were determined to exterminate Islam in the region and unite the Philippines under Christian rule.

In the instructions given by the Spanish governor on the eve of the first campaign against the southern Muslims in 1578, he ordered that “there be not among them anymore preachers of the doctrines of Mahoma since it is evil and false” and called for all mosques to be destroyed. The governor’s instructions set the tone for centuries of continuous warfare. The idea of a predatory central authority is deeply embedded in Tausug mythology and psychology.

Of all the Moro groups, the Tausug has been considered the most independent and difficult to conquer, with not a single generation of Tausug experiencing life without war over the past 450 years.

As any anthropologist will testify, the Tausug have survived half a millennium of persecution and attempts at conversion because of their highly developed code and clan structure. It is the classic tribe: egalitarian and feuding clans that unite in the face of the outside enemy and a code which emphasizes honor, revenge, loyalty and hospitality.

It was only in the late 19th century that Spain succeeded in incorporating the Sulu Sultanate as a protectorate and established a military presence on Jolo. The Spanish were followed by American colonisers who could be as brutal as their predecessors. In a 1906 battle, US troops killed as many as 1,000 Tausug men, women and children, and between 500 and 2,000 in a 1913 engagement.

Despite the Moro resistance to US colonial rule, they advocated for either continued American administration or their own country, rather than be incorporated into an independent Philippines, which they believed would continue the policies of the Spanish against their religion and culture. The request, however, was rejected.

‘Special provinces’

Following independence in 1946, the Muslim regions were ruled as “special provinces” with most of the important government posts reserved for Christian Filipinos. Despite being granted electoral representation in the 1950s, the majority of Moro had little interest in dealing with the central government. Manila, for its part, largely neglected the region.

The Tausug areas remained impoverished and, in the absence of jobs, young men turned to looting and piracy. In response, Manila opted for heavy-handed military tactics and based its largest command of security forces in the nation among the Tausug.

Central government actions to subdue the Tausug areas in the 1950s resulted in the deaths of almost all fighting age men in certain regions. The society was torn apart, with the young generation growing up without traditional leadership.

The current conflict began in 1968 with what became known as the Jabidah Massacre, when around 60 mainly Tausug recruits in the Philippine Army were summarily executed after they refused a mission to attack the Malaysian region of Sabah, where a population of Tausug also resides.

In 1971, the Moro, incensed by Jabidah and accusing the central government of conducting “genocide”, began an open war against the state. A Tausug-dominated independence movement soon developed called the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).  In 1976, the government reached an agreement with the MNLF to grant the Moro areas autonomy, which was further developed in a 1996 treaty that is still being negotiated.

For many Moro living on Mindanao, however, the deal was unsatisfactory because of the presence of so many Christian settlers, who they complained were taking more and more of their land under what seemed like government policy.

Indeed, the population had dramatically changed from 76 per cent Muslim in 1903 to 72.5 per cent Christian by 2000. The government was arming Christian settlers to attack Muslims. In 1971, the most notorious Christian militia, the Ilaga, killed 70 Moro in a mosque. Muslim militias lashed back, leading to a cycle of violence.

A new group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), based in Mindanao’s Maguindanao ethnic group, soon split from the MNLF and vowed to push for secession.

‘Abu Sayyaf’ label

Following the 9/11 attacks, the United States became involved in the region in pursuit of the elusive Abu Sayyaf, which it accused of having links with al-Qaeda. The group was formed by a charismatic Tausug preacher in the late 1980s, whose speeches attracted angry young men from a community rife with orphans due to the previous decades of war.

Abu Sayyaf has been blamed for kidnappings, bombings and beheadings, gripping the Philippines with sensational media reports. Manila has been accused of applying the “Abu Sayyaf” label to any conflict in the region, including those involving small armed Tausug groups, many of them kinship based, which have existed for centuries.

Aid workers kidnapped in 2009, for example, reported that their “Abu Sayyaf” captor told them “I can be ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group), I can be MILF, I can be [MILF or MNLF breakaway group] Lost Command”.

Manila was discovering, like many other nations after 9/11, that by associating its restless communities on the periphery with al-Qaeda, it could garner easy American support.

To resolve the conflict between the Moro and Manila, President Benigno Aquino must demonstrate that the centuries of conflict and forced assimilation into a monolithic Filipino culture are over. The government needs to promote pluralism and build trust with the periphery.

With the recent declarations by President Aquino’s government that the state is fully invested in implementing the 1996 autonomy agreement with the MNLF and hopes to have a peace treaty in place with the MILF by 2013, the various parties have a unique opportunity to work for a longstanding solution.

Development projects to help the suffering Tausug must be conducted urgently as the situation for ordinary people is dire. Amidst the frequent barrages of artillery and bombs and the displacement of hundreds of thousands over the past decade, a 2005 study found that 92 per cent of water sources in Sulu Province, where the majority of Tausug live, were contaminated, while the malnutrition rate for children under five is 50 per cent. Education and employment are constant challenges.

The sad state of affairs does not only result from a lack of funds, as the Philippines government, the United States and others have poured millions into the region, but rather how funds are spent. The association of development with the military among the population has been an impediment to implementing necessary projects.

Mediation needed

Between inefficient aid funding and the ongoing military campaigns, Manila has been drained of desperately needed resources and diverted from fulfilling its ambitions to become an economic powerhouse.

Development solutions can only work if they have the full support of the clans that decide local politics, which is no easy task, considering the tenacity with which clans can fight over resources. Yet with a holistic plan of engagement in the context of true autonomy, it is possible to bring them together.

Mediation, involving local religious leaders and international bodies like the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation, which has taken the lead in peace talks between the Moro factions and the government, can play a key role in this regard.

Major General Reuben Rafael, the Philippine commander formerly in charge of military operations in Sulu Province, gave us an example of how to proceed. In 2007, he staged a public apology for transgressions against the population. The assembled people began to cry, including the Tausug mayor of the town, who stated that never in the history of Sulu had a military general apologized to them in such a manner. This is the way to the heart of the Tausug, and we salute the general for showing us the path to peace.

By unleashing the drones, the US has pushed the conflict between centre and periphery in the Philippines in a dangerous direction. If there is one lesson we can learn from half a millennium of history it is this: weapons destroy flesh and blood, but cannot break the spirit of a people motivated by ideas of honour and justice.

Instead, the US and Manila should work with the Muslims of the Philippines to ensure full rights of identity, development, dignity, human rights and self-determination. Only then will the security situation improve and the Moro permitted to live the prosperous and secure lives they have been denied for so long; and only then will the Philippines be able to become the Asian Tiger it aspires to be.

Professor Akbar Ahmed is Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington DC and the former Pakistani High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.

Frankie Martin is an Ibn Khaldun Chair Research Fellow at American University’s School of International Service and is assisting Professor Ahmed on Ahmed’s forthcoming study, Journey into Tribal Islam: America and the Conflict between Center and Periphery in the Muslim World, to be published by Brookings Press.

Anti-Muslim Rhetoric in the USA is Noticed in the Middle East

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2012 by loonwatch

Hillary Clinton Muncif Marzouk Tunisia

The Right-Wing will add this to there lists of grievances and examples of “appeasement” to the Muslamic-overlord-beast-monster, when in reality it is a face saving statement by Clinton downplaying the very real and viral Islamophobia infecting the USA:

Clinton tells Muslims to disregard campaign talk

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton advised an audience in Tunisia on Saturday to “not pay attention” to the comments made by candidates vying for the Republican presidential nomination, saying the often overheatedrhetoric of the campaign doesn’t reflect U.S. policy.

Speaking at a town-hall style event in Tunisia, the North African nation that sparked the “Arab Spring” revolts, Clinton said the partisan remarks made during campaign events “certainly don’t reflect the United States, don’t reflect our foreign policy, don’t reflect who we are as a people.”

Clinton’s remarks came in response to a question from a member of her audience who said he was troubled by some of the comments, which he considered anti-Muslim, made by candidates running for president.

“If you go to the United States, you see mosques everywhere, you see Muslim-Americans everywhere. That’s the fact. So I would not pay attention to the rhetoric,” she said.

Instead, she advised people to listen instead to President Barack Obama.

“I think that will be a very clear signal to the entire world as to what our values are,” Clinton said.

She added that she is sometimes surprised that people around the world pay more attention to what’s said in U.S. political campaigns than do most Americans.

“I think you have to shut out some of the rhetoric and just focus on what we’re doing and what we stand for and particularly what our president represents,” Clinton said.

Obama has come under fierce criticism from Republicans for apologizing for the burning of Qurans at a military base in Afghanistan.

GOP hopeful Newt Gingrich said while campaigning that the apology was “astonishing” and that Obama “has gone so far at appeasing radical Islamists that he is failing in his duty as commander in chief,”

American military officials say the burning of the Muslim holy books was a mistake, but it has sparked days of violent protests across Afghanistan.

Here’s How 5 Million or So Muslims in the US were Depicted Yesterday in the NY Post

Posted in Feature, Loon Media with tags , , , , , , , on February 25, 2012 by loonwatch

And then they wonder why there is Islamophobia? 

Glenn Greenwald first alerted us to this in his tweet:

Here’s how 5 million or so Muslims in US were depicted yesterday in the NY Post

NYPost_NYPD_Islamophobia

According to the NY Post, all those students, worshippers, shop owners, etc. that the NYPD spied on were Taliban-esque terrorists.

Update I:

Greenwald wrote a short article on the subject which is worthy of reproduction here:

Abject bigotry at the New York Post

By: Glenn Greenwald

As I wrote about on Wednesday, Associated Press over the last year has been publishing an investigative series detailing how the NYPD, often in conjunction with the CIA, has been systematically spying on entire Muslim communities both in New York City and in surrounding areas. Virtually none of those spied upon are suspected of any wrongdoing; they are just innocent people who are targeted for surveillance solely because they are Muslim. That’s why the program is so controversial. This is how this controversy was depicted yesterday by The New York Post, in a cartoon by Sean Delonas (click to enlarge; h/t sysprog):

[see image above]

According to The New York Post, to be Muslim — as between 5-7 million people in America are — is to be a hook-nosed, Osama-worshipping, suicide-bomb-wearing Terrorist. There is no other interpretation for someone justifying a massive, indiscriminate spying program aimed at Muslims generally with this response. It goes without saying that there is not a single other group against whom bigotry this hateful and overt would be tolerated. And that explains a great deal about what has happened with U.S. policy — both foreign and domestic — over the last decade.