Extremism & Liberal arts
"We came, we saw, he died..."|
Saif Gaddafi 3-7-2011: "I was naive"|
This does not mean that schools are to be closed and that people should turn
their backs on education, as it may seem to superficial readers. On the
contrary, it means that society should provide all types of education, giving
people the chance to choose freely any subjects they wish to learn...
Knowledge is a natural right of every human being which nobody has the right to deprive him of under any pretext except in a case where a person himself does something which deprives him of that right.
Ignorance will come to an end when everything is presented as it actually is and when knowledge about everything is available to each person in the manner that suits him.
Russia has demanded that “war crimes” in Libya committed since the fall of the Qaddafi regime be investigated by the International Criminal Court.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday that Moscow believed that all those responsible for killing civilians had to be held accountable.
Referring to last year’s decision by the Security Council to refer Libya to the ICC, he said: “All the decisions were made that those responsible for bloodshed, murders of civilians, violation of the laws of war and international humanitarian rights must be punished. We don’t hear any news on how this has been doing upon the crisis in Libya.”
The call follows a move by Russia in the UN Security Council to table a motion about the crisis in Bani Walid. The draft, which was blocked by the US, would have expressed “grave concern” about the situation in the town and what it called the growth of violence towards the civilian population, and called on the Libyan government to take urgent action to resolve the situation by peaceful negotiations.
Western diplomats accused Russia of duplicity in promoting the draft. They claimed that Moscow wanted to show that Libya was in a mess because of the revolution (and NATO’s role in it), and that it should never have happened. Russia was a key supporter of Qaddafi, having brokered arms contracts with the former regime worth billions of dollars.
Hundreds of ordinary Libyans queued up outside a refrigerated meat store in Misrata, where the dead dictator was being stored as a trophy. A guard allowed small groups into the room to celebrate next to Gaddafi's body. They posed for photos, flashing victory signs, and burst into jubilant cries of "God is great."
One young woman said: "Some people do care about the rule of law and don't think it's right that he should have been assassinated."
Officials in Libya said on Wednesday that government forces had taken control of the western town of Bani Walid, after a deadly assault that lasted almost a week and led to accusations that the country’s new government was using indiscriminate force to punish a restive city. ...
Leaders in Bani Walid said the assault amounted to revenge by a rival western city, which they said had bullied Libya’s weak central government into blessing the operation. The fighting returned the specter of war to Libya and led to protests across the country and calls by the United Nations for restraint. ...
Bani Walid’s leaders have questioned the government’s assertions that Qaddafi officials are sheltering in the town, saying that most of the wanted officials are overseas. And further, they said, they are reluctant to hand over fugitives to Libya’s broken judicial system.
“Government institutions are nonexistent,” said Salem el-Ahmar, a member of Libya’s Congress representing Bani Walid. “There is no police, there is no army, there is no judicial system. Libya is ruled by whoever has the arms and the force,” Mr. Ahmar said.
Many militias attacking Bani Walid were from Misurata, the coastal western city that endured a punishing assault by Qaddafi forces during the uprising, and whose fighters have been quick to retaliate — often brutally — against loyalist towns.
Many people in Bani Walid did not support the revolution - but that does not make the entire Warfalla tribe or the city a legitimate target for indiscriminate shelling. This fact seems to have played against the Misurata militias as Libyan public opinion has gradually shifted against them after it became apparent that the war against Bani Walid was being fought along tribal lines. ...
The weak government and the ministry of defence, however, seem to buy the disinformation labelling Bani Walid as Qaddafi's stronghold from beyond the grave. This pretext has given the militias a free hand. Two days into the invasion, many Libyan politicians claimed that Khamis Qaddafi [..] had been killed and other high-ranking Qaddafi supporters captured. Less than 24 hours later, it became apparent that not a single fugitive had been captured or killed, while dozens of civilians including children were.
The "pro Qaddafi" label has become a pretext under which hundreds of civilians have been jailed, killed or driven from their homes by those who claim to be liberators. Thousands of private properties have been confiscated under the same pretext, while the perpetrators have the immunity of being "revolutionaries".
New evidence collected by Human Rights Watch implicates Misrata-based militias in the apparent execution of dozens of detainees following the capture and death of Muammar Gaddafi one year ago.
The Libyan authorities have failed to carry out their pledge to investigate the death of Gaddafi, Libya’s former dictator, his son Mutassim, and dozens of others in rebel custody.
The 50-page report, “Death of a Dictator: Bloody Vengeance in Sirte,” details the final hours of Muammar Gaddafi’s life and the circumstances under which he was killed. It presents evidence that Misrata-based militias captured and disarmed members of the Gaddafi convoy and, after bringing them under their total control, subjected them to brutal beatings. They then executed at least 66 captured members of the convoy at the nearby Mahari Hotel. The evidence indicates that opposition militias took Gaddafi’s wounded son Mutassim from Sirte to Misrata and killed him there.
Under the laws of war, the killing of captured combatants is a war crime... (Source)
Italy's Minister for Foreign Affairs Giulio Terzi has instructed the Italian diplomatic authorities in Libya to monitor developments in the humanitarian situation in Bani Walid, where, according to reports, the toll of the clashes there stands at approximately 25 dead, over 400 wounded and more than 25,000 displaced.
Acting on the minister’s instructions, Italian Ambassador to Tripoli Giuseppe Buccino recently had a meeting with the president of Libya's National Congress, Mohammed Magharief and a number of Libyan political leaders, during which he expressed Italy’s strong hope in the timely formation of a national reconciliation government, underscoring that full respect for human rights was a necessary requirement in the pursuit of a new democratic Libya.
Seventy Palestinian intellectuals, writers and poets issued a statement expressing solidarity with the Syrian people and their leadership...
The statement was signed during a meeting held by the Popular Committee for Solidarity with the Syrian People (and Leadership) in Haifa city...
The statement stressed that the escalation of the ferocious attack against Syria in light of the Arab, regional and international conspiring is "a revenge against its resisting pan-Arab stance in service of the colonialist hegemony projects in the Arab region."
They considered it their historical, national and pan-Arab responsibility to "say it loud that we are with the Syrian people..."
"When Syria wins, it will be a resounding victory because it'll be in the interest of the entire Arab nation from the ocean to the gulf," said the statement.
Speaking to the Syrian TV, Saeed Nafaa', a Palestinian writer and political analyst, said the statement has two messages; the first is that an important part of Palestinian intellectuals support the reform process in Syria, and the second is an expression of gratitude to Syria over its stances towards the Palestinian Cause.
Said Nafa (born 1 April 1953) is a lawyer.
A Druze Palestinian Arab citizen of Israel, he is a member of the Knesset for the Arab party, Born into a family of the Druze faith in Beit Jann in 1953, Nafa joined the Communist Party Maki at age 14.
He studied law at Tel Aviv University, graduating in 1983. In 1989, he was elected to his hometown's local council as a representative of Maki, and also served as mayor and deputy mayor in the 1990s.
Nafa left the Maki party in 1997, and joined the Arab party Balad in 1999, along with a large group consisting of other members of the Druze community in Palestine.
Wikipedia Info: Balad is a political party, whose stated purpose is the 'struggle to transform the state of Israel into a democracy for all its citizens, irrespective of national or ethnic identity.'
It opposes the idea of Israel as a solely Jewish state, and supports its recasting as a binational state. Balad also advocates that the state of Israel recognize Palestinian Arabs as a national minority, entitled to all rights that come with that status including autonomy in education, culture and media.
Since the party's formation, it has objected to every proposed state budget on the grounds that they have discriminated against the Arab population.
The party supports creation of two states based on pre-1967 borders, with the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem to constitute a Palestinian state and the implementation of UN Resolution 194 regarding the right of return to Palestinian refugees.
Balad describes itself as a 'democratic progressive national party for the Palestinian citizens of Israel.'
It is not clear who is shooting shells from Syria into Turkey, the commander of the U.S. Army Europe and Seventh Army, Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling has said, private television channel NTV yesterday.
"We are not sure if these shells are from the Syrian army, from rebels who want to get Turkey involved in the issue or from the PKK [Kurdish Workers’ Party]," he said.
Neither NATO nor U.S. troops want to get involved in the increasingly complex Syrian issue, Hertling said, adding that they were presently only sharing intelligence with Turkey and observing the ongoing events in Syria.
A shell from Syria killed five Turkish civilians in the border town of Akçakale in the southeastern province of Sanliurfa on Oct. 3.
After a year of turmoil since Gadhafi's ouster and last month's killing of the American ambassador, Libyans are disappointed, disillusioned and increasingly angry at their government. They complain that their leaders have not acted forcefully to address the most pressing problems — particularly the free rein of the country's many militias...
The lack of control of the government over the militias it relies on was brought home in the starkest terms on Sept. 11, the day of attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, the eastern city where last year's uprising against Gadhafi began...
The killings in Benghazi fueled popular anger against the militias. Just a week after the assault, tens of thousands of Benghazis attacked the headquarters of Ansar al-Shariah and another militia in Benghazi and drove them out...
"We know people are angry with the militias," said Taher Khalifa, a former computer engineer... "They don't want to see weapons everywhere and they want the police to be symbols of the state and wear uniforms..."
"No one in Libya is happy," complained Jihadeddin al-Salam, a young man sipping espresso with friends outside a cafe in downtown Tripoli. "Everyone has to be in a militia — if you aren't in a militia you can't protect your home."
Many Libyans complain that little has changed in the past year and amid the instability, everyone is holding on to their guns.
"We can't really discuss differences of opinions when we have weapons because in the end everyone here has a gun, and when they get mad, they might go for their weapons," said Saleh Sanoussi, a political analyst at Benghazi University. "Freedom with weapons results in chaos," he added.
"It is a Catch-22," he said of the militias dilemma. "Without them, there is a danger to security. With them, it is impossible to build an army."
Catch-22 is a satirical and somewhat historical novel
by the American author Joseph Heller.
The novel follows Captain John Yossarian, a U.S. Army Air Forces B-25 bombardier. The novel looks into the experiences of Yossarian, a man who is trying desperately to be certified insane during World War II, so he can stop flying missions.
Yet if Yossarian makes any attempts to excuse himself from the perilous missions that he is committed to flying, he is trapped by the Great Loyalty Oath Crusade, the hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule from which the book takes its title: a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes the necessary formal request to be relieved of such missions, the very act of making the request proves that he is sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved.
The phrase "Catch-22", "a problematic situation for which the only solution is denied by a circumstance inherent in the problem or by a rule," has entered the English language.
Militia's & the Green Charter|
"Form among you green committees... Proclaim your allegiance to the Green Charter. Study The Green Book... Avoid fighting if you can. The enemy wishes us all to be bogged down on their battlefields; they want to engage us all in war... We want peace. We want justice. Work for conferences on crimes against humanity..." Muammer Gaddafi 25-8-2011
The head of the Libyan armed forces, General Yousef Mangoush, has no control over Bani Walid and civilians are being prevented from returning home by vigilante “gunmen”, Defence Minister Osama Juwaili has said.
In a scathing broadside [..] Juwaili said the hilltop town was near-deserted as a result of the fighting and that the small number of people who remain are living in terrible conditions.
“The town is completely empty except for a small number of people who are living in tragic conditions; there is no activity; the impact of shelling is visible everywhere”. He went on to describe soldiers controlling the checkpoint leading into the town as “gunmen”. ...
The remarks are deeply at odds with the statement made last Friday by army spokesman Ali Al-Sheikhi, who said that refugees were being allowed to return to the town and that no reports of any “violations” against them had been received. He added that should any such incidents take place, then an immediate investigation into them would be launched. ...
This is not the first time that Juwaili, who hails from the mountain town of Zintan, has publicly aired divisions with Mangoush. In an interview with the Libya Herald in June, the defence minister complained that he had virtually no effective authority over the armed forces, but was restricted to “sign[ing] the plans of the chief of staff”.
At the time, Juwaili criticsed the National Transitional Council for passing a law which, he said, made his position virtually irrelevant as far as military operations were concerned.
“After what happened in Bani Walid you can say almost all of the population fled,” said Mohammed al-Swai of the Libyan Relief agency. “We will try to get them back to their homes with the help of the authorities.”
Armed guards are said to be blocking the northern entrance to the town, with civilians in their vehicles waiting to get through. Others attempted to return home on small roads.
“Each day when I ask if I can check on my house, they say ‘Tomorrow’,” resident Abdelmanam, 20, said as he waited to see whether he could go through. He was refused entry.
Foreign reporters were also denied entry to Bani Walid in the Wadi Dinar area. “There is graffiti on the walls inside, it may incite strife,” army official Ahmed Salem said. “Some of the first fighters who went in were a little young … We are erasing this graffiti because it might cause an adverse reaction,” Sheikhi said, adding there would also be an investigation into reports of houses being burnt down.
The Middle East remains one of the regions of crucial importance to Russia and the country has no intention of reducing its presence in this region. In the last part of the interview with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Sergey Lavrov, at the headquarters of the newspaper "Rossiyskaya Gazeta," the Chancellor said that Russia will do everything possible to prevent the development of possible military intervention in Iran.
Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Our Western partners often say that, in consequence of the Arab Spring, Russia lost its influence in the Middle East. Do you agree with this statement?
Sergei Lavrov: We do not agree with that, because our contacts with key countries in the region have not become less intense and, in some cases, are even more active. The representatives of these countries have the pleasure of coming to Russia. We maintain contacts with all opposition groups, including those of Syria. None of them, not even the most radical opposition, says things we hear from our Western colleagues and some politicians in the region.
However, there are other examples like Yusuf al Qaradawi, a religious man famous for throwing invectives regularly on our country through the television network Al Jazeera. But this is an anomaly. Most of the Syrian opposition, Arab countries and other contacts with whom we always start any conversation with us say that, for them, it is very important for Russia to maintain its presence in the region. Whatever happens, Russia will continue to be considered as a reliable partner and an important factor that can ensure a geopolitical balance in this area...
On 21 February 2011, Yusuf al Qaradawi talked about the protests in Libya and issued a fatwa against Muammar Gaddafi: "...To the officers and the soldiers who are able to kill Muammar Gaddafi, to whoever among them is able to shoot him with a bullet and to free the country and [God’s] servants from him, I issue this fatwa (uftî): Do it! That man wants to exterminate the people (sha‘b). As for me, I protect the people (sha‘b) and I issue this fatwa: Whoever among them is able to shoot him with a bullet and to free us from his evil, to free Libya and its great people from the evil of this man and from the danger of him, let him do so!" WIKIPEDIA info
Russia continued to keep to its principles firmly, trying to make decisions to be taken in accordance with international law, and not for the simple reason Colin Powell has shown in the Security Council a beaker with a white powder, presented as anthrax, to persuade Council members to approve a military operation against Saddam Hussein.
At that time, we upheld the principles of international law precisely because we have not given consent for the war in Iraq which was approved by the UN Security Council. We are using the same tactics towards Syria, and we always remember the lesson of Libya, which is remembered around the world. At that time, international law was subjected to a severe test and the resolutions of the UN Security Council ended up being misleading. And look what's happening in Libya. The tragedy of Benghazi and the violent fighting of Bani Walid..
Our Western colleagues from the UN Security Council are not eager to talk about the situation in Libya, trying at the same time to persuade us to adopt a resolution on Syria. Our position is as follows: first, we must draw lessons from the experience in Libya not to repeat this colossal mistake. For us, it is an absolute axiom...
(Translated from the Portuguese version by: Lisa Karpova - Pravda.Ru
In a joint press conference with Brahimi on Monday October the 29th 2012, Sergei Lavrov said his talks with the UN Envoy seek to find new steps to end violence and bloodshed in Syria and launch dialogue, regretting that Brahimi's efforts for a truce during Eid al-Adha holiday weren't heeded....
Lavrov called on all foreign forces to assume their responsibilities, specifically regarding the sides they support in Syria, stressing that the urgent issue is committing all the Syrians who are fighting each other to a ceasefire and have them initiate dialogue. Lavrov said that sides in Syria must be pressured to send balanced signals rather than have certain sides support specific sides to perpetuate violence, stressing the need to convince these sides to commit to a ceasefire and transition to political dialogue.
"We don't know who broke the truce, but there are acts of provocation and responses we see every day," he said.
For his part, Brahimi said that the bombings committed by some groups in residential areas are classified as acts of terrorism committed by groups he had no contact with, saying that such actions were condemned by the Security Council, UN Secretary-General and all foreign sides.
He warned that the situation is Syria is bad and getting worse, and that the international community must work together to help Syrians and resolve the crisis. (tishreen.news 30-10-2012)
PARIS — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought on Tuesday to convince Arab states that an Israeli military strike on Iran would benefit them, removing a potential threat and easing tensions across the Middle East.
In an interview published on Tuesday with French magazine Paris Match, Netanyahu said such a strike would not worsen regional tensions, as many critics have warned.
“Five minutes after, contrary to what the skeptics say, I think a feeling of relief would spread across the region,” he said.
“Iran is not popular in the Arab world, far from it, and some governments in the region, as well as their citizens, have understood that a nuclear armed Iran would be dangerous for them, not just for Israel,” he said. ...
Netanyahu, who is running for re-election in January at the head of the right-wing Likud party, told the United Nations last month that a strike could wait until spring or summer when he said Tehran might be on the brink of building an atomic bomb.
Regardless of the amount of damage control, lies and spin that comes out of Washington, nothing can clean up the mess they have gotten themselves into with their so-called Arab Spring – a construct straight out of their warped imaginations.
The sad thing is that so many commentators and activists are also talking about an Arab Spring as if it exists... Via their globally dominant media outlets, they feed people a daily diatribe of simplistic binary oppositions – 'the good guys and the bad guys'.
In the real world it is not so simple but in fact highly complex. So highly complex, that without an in-depth knowledge of the region's history, politics, religious issues and theological discourse, no commentator would be in a position to make sense of current events.
While we expect right wing pundits to regurgitate imperialist propaganda, there is an enormous amount of confusion even in progressive circles with regard to Libya, so much so that we have witnessed a convergence of the 'left' and 'right'. One reason for this is that both sides are analyzing events using Eurocentric paradigms – paradigms which are reductionist, incomplete, flawed and incapable of providing an accurate understanding of what is taking place.
Following the hijacking of uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, and the subsuming of unrest across the region into a 'one size fits all', using that key phrase – 'Arab Spring', the Empire was on a roll. It was then that they committed their worst blunder - a calamity so catastrophic that its fall out will haunt them for decades to come. They handed the most progressive and prosperous country in all of Africa on a platter to a conglomerate of religious deviants (Salafi Islamists).
Their plan was to use these Salafi Islamists to get rid of Qaddafi and destroy the Libyan Jamahiriya, and with it, any possibility of a truly independent Africa and the specter of an African currency based on Africa's gold standard. And they did use them to achieve this objective, but the Salafis, who have had a long and tedious love-hate relationship with white supremacists/imperialists, were also using NATO.
The US and their European allies had no qualms about backing Al Qaeda affiliated thugs to finally get rid of Muammar Qaddafi. They had attempted to assassinate Muammar Qaddafi a number of times over the years and failed. They imagined that after ridding themselves of Qaddafi they could set up sham elections, fly in some 'moderate' and out of touch Libyan emigres in suits and set up a proxy government. Their plan was to marginalize the Islamist thugs, send them packing after using them to do their dirty work, patch things up sufficiently with an inept government that would implement their sham democracy, and then get their hands on some of the world's best sweet crude. At the same time, with Qaddafi out of the way, they could ensure unhindered access to the continent, something they need at any cost for their very survival....
'Who's Gonna Stop Dem Now?'
US imperialist blunders, resulting in immeasurable amounts of human suffering, are nothing new on this earth. Obama's administration is just one in a long line of US administrations with no real understanding of the Arab and African worlds. Following Obama's election, Muammar Qaddafi, along with Hugo Chavez and other progressive world leaders, expressed their hope that Obama might bring a different mindset to the White House. However, a few months after Obama's inauguration, they came to the disappointing conclusion that this liberal from Chicago had no real understanding of the world and had in fact, as we say in the Caribbean, 'hung his hat up where he could not reach it'. In other words, he was out of his depth and his European allies are no better informed.
This is why NATO leaders did not know that Abdelhakim Belhadj and his followers could not be used and then disposed of. They were too busy using the Islamists to see that in fact, it was the Islamists who were using them - the US and NATO – a scenario that is currently being replayed in Syria. In both cases the imperialists are being out played at their own game of deception. The fact is that a few months ago the same people who were waving US flags and hailing the US as their 'liberators' are now chanting 'death to America' and burning US flags. Hillary - you came, but you didn't see. The battle raging in Libya today, in Bani Walid and throughout the nation, predates Qaddafi's 1969 revolution. There is no 'Arab Spring' – the 'Arab Spring' is a Neo-Con ideological construct.
Reactionary ideas and tyranny in the name of Islam
When the US wants to cause commotion or justify more spending on arms and further global militarization they shout 'Al Qaeda' where they used to shout 'Communism' and this fits their spin. However, in reality, like us, they know the real name of their game. As Jamahiriyan loyalist Dr Yusuf Shakir put it, 'the name of their game regarding Arab and African foreign policy is to cause as much commotion as they can and then stand back and let us sons of bitches kill each other'.
The Islamist groups in Libya were in existence long before the concept of Al Qaeda emerged. That is why Qaddafi was able to warn the world of the danger of these Islamist groups and their ideology, and why Libya was the first country in the world to issue an arrest warrant for Osama Bin Laden. While many were full of zeal and excitement when these groups seemed to be giving the US what it finally deserved, Qaddafi knew that this was not Islam, but rather reactionary ideas and tyranny in the name of Islam and that it could take us nowhere.
Several Islamist political groups, including Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya, the Freedom and Justice Party and Al-Dawa Al-Salafiya have announced that they will form a coalition of political parties and Islamic forces to ensure that Egypt's new constitution is shaped in accordance with Islamic sharia (law).
They aim to coordinate with the Constituent Assembly in order to do so, stating that they will not accept the takeover of the drafting process by a "minority of liberals", according to statements made during a meeting at the headquarters of the Islamist Building and Development Party on Tuesday.
The group announced that they will not accept a constitution that contradicts sharia, and they plan to organise popular movements to support their cause. They are also calling for sharia to become the "only source" of legislation.
The drafting of the new constitution is being hindered by conflicts between liberals and Islamists over the issue of applying sharia. Several articles in the proposed constitution related to the issue have been rejected by liberal forces and human rights advocates.
MOSCOW, (SANA) – Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Lukashevich criticized the western calls for forming a Syrian government abroad, warning that such a step would encourage the opposition to continue their persistence to topple the Syrian state.
Lukashevich said that US officials announced that they don't intend to wait for a change in the positions of Russia and China, which implies that Washington wants to settle the Syrian crisis only according to its conditions [...], forming a government abroad, with the US dictating who should join it and nominating names.
He stressed that Moscow reiterates its emphasis on the principle course of supporting a peaceful settlement in Syria in a political process involving the Syrians alone.
Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said that the West's attempts to impose a list of candidates to occupy leading positions in the Syrian opposition abroad violate Geneva declaration.
“Attempts by Western sponsors of the Syrian opposition to enforce a list of the nation’s future leadership from the outside contradict the Geneva agreement.”
He added that the Geneva declaration provides for that "a transitional governing body should be formed on the basis of mutual accord of the government and the opposition."
Earlier, some media outlets reported that the US proposed forming a unified opposition to replace Istanbul Council which it considers as ineffective. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that Washington is setting up a list of candidates to be members of the new opposition.
The Syrian government is dominated by the Syrian Arab BA'ATH party. President Bashar al-Assad is the leader of that party. Its main ideological objectives are secularism, socialism, and pan-Arab unionism.
After the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, the BA'ATH-party was outlawed and tens of thousands of higher ranking members of the party were barred from government jobs.
WIKIPEDIA-info: In June 2003, the Coalition Provisional Authority banned the Ba'ath party. Some criticize the additional step the CPA took—of banning all members of the top four tiers of the Ba'ath Party from the new government, as well as from public schools and colleges—as blocking too many experienced people from participation in the new government. Thousands were removed from their positions, including doctors, professors, school teachers, bureaucrats and more. Many teachers lost their jobs, causing protests and demonstrations at schools and universities. ...
The new Constitution of Iraq approved by a referendum on 15 October 2005, reaffirmed the Ba'ath Party ban, stating that "No entity or program, under any name, may adopt racism, terrorism, the calling of others infidels, ethnic cleansing, or incite, facilitate, glorify, promote, or justify thereto, especially the Saddamist Baath in Iraq and its symbols, regardless of the name that it adopts. This may not be part of the political pluralism in Iraq."
President Mohamed Morsi's meetings Saturday with the main three former presidential candidates, Amr Moussa, Hamdeen Sabbahi and Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh, held in an effort to kickstart a national dialogue between varied political forces, mainly revolved around the newly proposed constitution, the revolution's demands, and the need to reach consensus during the transition period.
Former presidential candidate Moussa, head of the Conference Party, for his part underlined to Morsi the importance of drafting a "proper" constitution, arguing that time is not the most important factor to consider, but rather the people's acceptance of the result. ...
During the meeting with Nasserist founder of the Egyptian Popular Current Sabbahi, several issues now occupying the minds of Egyptians were tackled, including the constitution..
Sabbahi for his part proposed that a national conference on social justice be held, in addition to sharing his suggestions regarding ways of resolving complications within the Constituent Assembly.
Another meeting was held with liberal Islamist and founder of the Strong Egypt Party, Abul-Fotouh, who introduced his party's vision on the constitution and means to fight corruption within the state.
Abul-Fotouh stressed to Morsi the importance of reaching consensus in the Constituent Assembly suggesting that articles creating the disagreement within the assembly should all be reconsidered as well as those that infringe upon the rights of Egyptian citizens.
Sabbahi, Abul-Fotouh and Moussa came in third, fourth and fifth, respectively, in the presidential elections concluded in June, where Morsi narrowly beat Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister of ousted former president Hosni Mubarak (Mohammed Morsi 51.7%, Ahmed Shafiq 48%).
ALJAZEERA in 'Meet the candidates', 24-6-2012:
Religion is, not surprisingly, one of the areas of sharp contrast between Ahmed Shafiq and his opponent.
His platform says little about faith, save for a promise to create a "civil state" with equality for all groups, regardless of religion or gender. The only reference to Islam is a provision about improving Al-Azhar's standing as an institution of higher learning.
Shafiq went so far as to threaten dissolving the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, and the Salafi Nour Party, unless they stopped "mixing religion with politics."
On his Facebook account, Ahmed Shafiq posted that he and writer Saad Eddin Ibrahim discussed his return to Egypt "in the protection of his supporters.”
"I will not stay away from my country for a long time. I traveled after the election in anticipation of the expected persecution that proved to be true," Shafiq added.
Shafiq had left for the United Arab Emirates shortly after losing the presidential election to President Mohamed Morsy. Activists accuse him of fleeing corruption cases.
Shafiq said it is a shame that some of Egypt’s finest pilots "who have contributed to making the October victory face trial when celebrating Air Forces day, 14 October, which saw acts of heroism by glorious Egyptian air fighters in an unprecedented battle."
Born in Bedeen, Mansoura, Egypt, Saad Eddin Ibrahim is credited for playing a leading role in the revival of Egypt's contemporary research-based civil society movement. For most of his professional career Saad Eddin Ibrahim was a professor of sociology at the American University in Cairo. He is the founder of both the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies in Cairo and the Arab Organization for Human Rights.
In 2006 Ibrahim was awarded the Ion Ratiu Democracy Lecture Prize at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, where he previously had been a public policy scholar. He is currently a Board member of the Arab Democracy Foundation.
DOHA-QATAR: The opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) begins a four-day meeting Sunday in Doha, where the United States will reportedly press for an overhaul of the coalition aiming to topple President Bashar al-Assad.
Details have emerged of plans to reshape the opposition into a representative government-in-exile, after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton charged that the SNC was not representative. ...
Washington is pressing for a makeover of the opposition, with long-time dissident Riad Seif reportedly touted as the potential head of a new government-in-exile...
Among those in attendance were some SNC members, former premier Riad Hijab, who defected in August; Ali Sadreddin Bayanuni of the Muslim Brotherhood and Kurdish and tribal representatives, participants said.
Participants sought to quell concerns the overhaul is aimed at building an opposition that would be willing to negotiate with Assad.
“Assad and his entourage leaving power is a non-negotiable precondition for any dialogue aimed at finding a non-military solution, if that is still possible,” they said in a statement.
In a separate statement, Bayanuni underlined the Brotherhood’s support for “the idea of a political leadership to bring together the opposition” including the SNC. But he said the Brotherhood supported maintaining the SNC, in which it holds significant influence, and “not replacing it with a new body.
”The SNC lashed out on Friday at alleged US interference with the opposition, accusing Washington of undermining the revolt and “sowing the seeds of division” by seeking the overhaul.
Disagreements and power disputes arose Sunday as opponents of the Syrian regime gathered in Qatar for the first day of an opposition conference seeking to create a new government-in-exile. ...
Last week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged a re-shaping of the Syrian opposition's leadership and slammed the Syrian National Council as ineffective and unrepresentative... The new body is set to include fewer Syrian exiles and more representatives of the Free Syrian Army, as well as local political groups and councils.
The SNC, after lashing out at Washington’s criticism and accusing them of “unacceptable dictates”, now says it will be demanding a 40 percent representation in any new leadership body.
"This new initiative seems to be promoted by international parties, mainly the United States," former SNC chief Burhan Ghalioun said as quoted by AFP.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has stressed that efforts to stop violence in Syria have been less affective due to various international powers solely dealing with and encouraging Syria's opposition forces.
“In Geneva four months ago we all agreed that world powers will say the same to the warring sides in Syria: stop fighting! This is exactly what Russia's doing – saying this to both the government and all opposition groups. Some other nations – both Western and regional – are telling the opposition ‘Go on fighting! Your cause is right – you will win.’
It's up to you to decide whose position is creating the danger of more and more deaths," Foreign Minister Lavrov said at a media briefing. ...
He also spoke against a UN Security Council resolution on Syria as a tool to resolve the crisis, warning that it could only aggravate it. He added that the resolution is not needed to implement earlier reached agreements in Geneva.
“If the priority is the change of the regime, then there will be more blood, but if the priority is to save lives, then there is no need for any type of resolutions. We have not yet tried to implement Geneva accords,” Lavrov said.
DAMASCUS, (SANA) – Deputy Foreign and Expatriates Minister Dr. Fayssal Mikdad discussed on Sunday with Director of the Regional Office for Arab Countries and North Africa for the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Yakoub al-Hillo, means for boosting the standing cooperation.
The two sides discussed means for providing the best possible forms of aid to refugees in Syria which is one of the foremost countries in hosting refugees and helping them in cooperation with the UNHCR.
During the meeting, Mikdad voiced Syria's satisfaction over the standing cooperation with UNHCR, affirming that the Syrian government is committed to providing facilitations to UNHCR programs and projects.
He pointed out to the current conditions in Syria, particularly the terrorist attacks that damaged infrastructure and affected public and private establishments and the terrorists' crimes of murdering innocent civilians and displacing them by force to neighboring countries to create excuses for foreign intervention.
Mikdad affirmed that the so-called Syrian refugees issue was created to justify the interference of regional countries, the US and western Europe in Syria's affairs, stressing the need to stop the support provided by Turkey and some Arab Gulf countries to terrorist groups.
For his part, al-Hillo reviewed the UNHCR's activities which it carries out with the Syrian government and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) to provide the needs of displaced families.
The Syrian Arab Republic hosts one of the largest urban refugee and asylum-seeker populations in the world. The Government and people of the Syrian Arab Republic continue to maintain a generous open door policy that allows Iraqi refugees to seek asylum and gain access to basic services such as education and primary health care. Moreover, the normalization of relations between Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic in early 2011 has led to a simplification of the visa process for Iraqis wishing to enter the Syrian Arab Republic.
UNHCR, with the support of the international community and in active partnership with the Syrian authorities, was able to maintain the protection space granted to refugees and asylum-seekers. With the assistance of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, it has continued to provide them with essential services and assistance.
The widespread unrest throughout the country has nonetheless caused delays in some capacity building and training work with national counterparts and has slowed the development of a formal legal framework for refugees and asylum-seekers.
During the height of Iraq's civil war, neighbouring Syria was a sanctuary for Iraqis - but as the Syrian conflict has intensified, Iraqi refugees have again been forced to flee, this time back to their homeland, as the BBC's Caroline Hawley reports from Baghdad.
Tears roll down Saad Jebor's bearded cheeks, as his nine-year-old daughter describes the fighting she witnessed in Syria - horrifying violence from which her father was unable to protect her.
Six years ago - at the height of Iraq's sectarian civil war - Mr Jebor and his family escaped Baghdad to the safety of Syria. As a Sunni married to a Shia woman, living in a predominantly Shia neighbourhood of the capital, he had received death threats. But, as the war in Syria escalated this summer, he had to flee for his life for a second time. And - along with thousands of other Iraqi families - he is back in Baghdad, he says, with only the clothes he was wearing when he escaped.
"I feel like I am nothing," he sobs.
Saad's daughter Doa is traumatised. His family of six cannot return to the home they used to live in, which was targeted by a mortar shortly before he escaped to Syria. The Jebors fled Iraq for safety in Syria - but the conflict there has driven them back to Iraq So Saad Jebor - a proud man with a kind face - now lives in his father-in-law's home.
"I don't know what to say," says Mr Jebor, who used to sell tyres in Baghdad and then made a living in Syria washing cars.
"I swear to God - I have spent my life struggling. We thought that we would have a life in Syria. But then we found ourselves facing the same violence there." "So now we are back. And everything I have gained in my life has disappeared like sand through a sieve."
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron arrived Monday in the Gulf on a three-day visit aimed at selling Typhoon Eurofighter jets and discussing regional security threats, the British embassy in the UAE said.
According to a statement by Cameron's office, the prime minister was after his arrival to accompany senior Emirati officials on an inspection of RAF Typhoons stationed at a UAE airbase as part of a training exercise.
The visit to the UAE, to be followed by a stopover in Saudi Arabia, "signals the PM's commitment to cementing long-term partnerships with two of Britain's most important strategic allies in the Gulf," the statement said. ...
Britain is trying to boost its arms sales to oil-rich Gulf states, which are key allies in a region facing instability from the violence in Syria and the crisis over Iran's nuclear programme. Downing Street said Britain, the UAE and Saudi Arabia had a "shared commitment to security and stability and defeating the threats we face in the wider Middle East region".
The Syrian regime accuses Saudi Arabia, along with Turkey and Qatar, of arming the rebels fighting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
One mother returned to Iraq in Jan. 2012 with her three children. In Syria , the family had received threats that their daughter would be kidnapped if they didn't leave. Her husband followed in March when he realized there was no hope to be resettled to the United States, at least from Syria where there was no longer a US embassy.
Just a few days ago there was an explosion nearby which has deeply shaken the family. I asked the oldest girl how school was going. Not good, she answered. She described quite dramatically that last week there was a great explosion in her school. The teacher fled leaving the frightened students in the classroom. The door was locked and at first the kids hid under the desks. Later, when banging on the door proved futile, they managed to climb out through an opening above the door. She somewhat proudly showed me the bruises on her arm!
They asked “Do you think we can be resettled to the U.S. ?” I try to explain gently but realistically what the economic situation in the United States looks like with people out of work and losing homes and benefits. Not to mention the cultural differences. The father was adamant saying, “But there are explosions here and people are being killed! We are afraid for the children…
People have changed here, even our families. It is not like it was in the past, when people looked after one another.”
The second family we visited had arrived only two weeks ago to their newly rented apartment, a two-room dwelling reached by rather treacherous metal stairs. ... The family fled Syria in Aug. of 2012. The mother and their four children went to live with her family in an area of Iraq that has been quite violent. “There you can rent a big house for $100 a month, because it is so dangerous with militias. Here it costs $500 to live in a safe area.” The father went to Erbil , in northern Iraq , to look for work. He returned to Syria three weeks later to find their apartment burned and their belongings gone. He stayed only three days in Syria before returning again to Iraq . ...
The government has promised each returnee a sum of money, 4 million Iraqi Dinars, the equivalent of $3,200. This family hasn't received a penny. They owe money. The father is looking for work. They too asked me if they could be resettled in the United States. “People have changed,” the father said sadly. “The war has destroyed the inside of humanity.”
Libya is the only country in the world to have recognised
the SNC as the official government of Syria.
Having officially recognized the SNC as Syria’s legitimate government in October 2011, the Libyan authorities unveiled several aid packages – both material and financial – destined to the Syrian opposition in the course of 2012. In parallel, a large number of Libyan fighters have fought alongside with armed opposition groups on Syrian territory and considerable amounts of weapons from Libya are said to have been channeled to these groups.
US Secretary of State Hillary Cinton has publicly stated that the SNC should no longer be considered the “visible leader” of the Syrian opposition.
ALEPPO, Syria — Syrian rebels at the front are turning against their commanders, accusing them of being cowards by fleeing abroad and failing to unite a cause that has been increasingly hijacked by Islamists.
Numbers are difficult to obtain, but analysts estimate that since the start of the uprising against President Bashar Assad in March 2011, tens of thousands of largely low-ranking members have defected or deserted.
The Free Syrian Army (FSA), which acts as an umbrella for a multitude of different factions, was set up in August 2011 by defectors based in Turkey and led by former air force colonel Riyadh al-Asaad.
But for fighters and mid-level commanders risking their lives every day on the frontline, their nominal superiors are little more than cowards who abandoned their country and whose experience would be better served in battle.
“They’re bastards,” said Abu Mohammed, a former major in the Syrian army, when asked why the FSA leaders live comfortably in Turkey. “No one in Syria respects these commanders because when officers defect they should be fighting, not sitting over there. They drink tea and smoke nargile and just talk, just talk,” he chuckled. ...
“Without organisation and a system, it will be impossible to defeat Bashar Assad,” said Abu Mohammed, sitting in an olive grove in northern Syria where he trains slightly ragtag recruits wearing sandals and tracksuits. “And the reason we don’t have any organisation is because of these officers sitting in Turkey. Civilians are very good people but it is the officers who should be fighting.”
Someone brings out a couple of homemade bombs — water pipes packed solid with sand and diesel — and a dubious looking homemade rocket.
“Simple bombs can’t break the regime but I believe in God, and God is with us,” said Abu Mohammed.
Washington wants the opposition to form a transitional government representing not just those fighting at the front, but all communities, in which minorities like the Alawites, Shiite Muslims, Kurds and Christians are not forgotten. But for many FSA fighters on the ground in northern Syria, it’s a Sunni Arab fight in which Shiites are the enemy, Kurds untrustworthy at best and Christians largely ignored.
So they dismiss a call from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for a new, more inclusive and united opposition. ...
“When I think about the FSA still not being united, then the officers in Turkey are responsible for that because they don’t work,” Sheikh Omar, a former religious and Arabic teacher, said, dressed in grey combat trousers and a matching military-style shirt. ...
“They’re dreaming of when the regime falls... These are people who just think of personal benefit, they’re not brave people, they are weak people.”
But he was tight-lipped when asked about Clinton’s remarks that the uprising has been “hijacked” by Islamist foreign fighters, refusing to discuss the matter...
TEHRAN, (SANA) - Advisor to the Iranian Revolution's Supreme Leader for International Affairs, Yahya Rahim Safavi, said that the USA and the Western countries now seek to consolidate division in the Islamic world through supporting takfiri terrorists in the region, particularly in Syria.
Rahim Safavi condemned in a statement the crimes perpetrated by the armed terrorist groups in Syria, pointing out to the huge sums sent by the USA, Israel and some regional countries to these groups for killing innocent people in Syria.
For Khamenei, the 1979 revolution was about ridding Iran of two evils—the shah and the United States—and creating a theocratic government imbued with four core values: justice, independence, self-sufficiency and Islamic piety.
These revolutionary ideals continue to dominate Khamenei’s political discourse, and he interweaves them seamlessly: Islam embodies justice. Independence requires self-sufficiency. And foreign powers are hostile to an independent, Islamic Iran.
Khamenei’s vision for a just Islamic society translates as a form of religious socialism. Western governments fail, he argues, because the whims of capitalism and self-interest deny justice to millions. He has championed privatization efforts, yet state subsidies for basic food items and other essentials remain Iran’s chief method of providing economic development and social justice.
For Khamenei, the Islamic Republic’s top foreign policy priorities include resistance against the United States and Israel, which he sees as two sides of the same coin. Khamenei believes that Washington aspires to go back to the patron-client relationship with Iran that existed during the Pahlavi monarchy. (Iran Primer)
"You are human beings from among those He has created. He forgives whom He wills, and He punishes whom He wills. And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them. And to Him is the [final] destination. (Surah Al-Maidah, 5:18)
Turning to education, Dr Hassoun said, "Let us teach our school pupils that what is sacred in the world is man" since man "is the creation of the creator".
If we want peace, starting for example with Palestine and Israel, he suggested that rather than building walls, "let us build bridges of peace".
He also argued that "we must create states on a civil basis, not a religious basis", adding "I don't impose my religion on you, nor do you impose your religion on me". (European parlement, 15-1-2008)
"What's a 'Humanist'?"
As a Humanist activist, it's a question I hear a lot. I'm not comfortable with the idea of trying to answer it on behalf of all Humanists, so I usually respond to the question by sharing the story of how I came to identify as a Humanist...
The story of how I became a Humanist is a funny one to me in part because, after searching so long for an identity that affirmed my naturalistic worldview and compassionate ambitions, I found secular Humanism because of a Muslim...
While interning at Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), my friend Eboo Patel introduced me to Greg Epstein's Good Without God and the works of other contemporary Humanists. From there, I began to devour Humanist literature; Confucius, Epicurus and Renaissance Humanism, up to more recent Humanist thinkers like Robert G. Ingersoll and Paul Kurtz. I read the various editions of the Humanist Manifestos and jumped up excitedly to repeat their words aloud:
"Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity."
This was what I believed -- particularly its emphasis on taking personal responsibility for the greater good of all...
If a devout Muslim can introduce an atheist like me to Humanism, then I believe anything is possible.
Eboo Patel is a member of President Barack Obama's inaugural Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships. He is an American Ismaili Muslim of Gujarati Indian heritage and founder and president of the Interfaith Youth Core, a Chicago-based international nonprofit that aims to promote interfaith cooperation.
|Ali Motamedi, Iranian harmonica player, pays tribute to the late Gary Moore by playing "Picture of The Moon".||Picture of the Moon, by Gary Moore (Irish musician, most widely recognised as a blues singer and guitarist)|
TEHRAN -- An album of harmonica compositions, claimed to be the first collection ever composed for this instrument in Iran, has recently been released in Tehran. Produced by the Golcheen Art and Cultural Company, “Gate of the Sun” contains 12 pieces composed by pianist and harmonica virtuoso Ali Motamedi.
“I am very happy about the release of this album and I hope that every Iranian has a harmonica in his or her home one day,” Motamedi said during a ceremony organized by Golcheen to unveil the album on Monday evening. “I know three other instruments, but I do not like any instrument as much as the harmonica,” he added.
“Due to the fact that so far, there has never been an album of harmonica compositions recorded in Iran, my colleagues, teachers and students encouraged me to compose the collection,” Motamedi wrote in the album brochure.
Imam as-Sadiq (peace be upon him) has said, "When Imam Mahdi appears, some people who were thought to be of his family will desert him, and others who were known as sun and moon worshipers will join him." (Mizan al-Hikmah)
Herodotus the historian said that Persians worshipped the sun, moon and the elements, particularly fire. To Zoroastrians, fire is the manifestation of the deity Ahura Mazda.
The primary religion in Iran today is the Shia sect of Islam but the far older faith of the prophet Zoroaster is still openly practiced, particularly in the central and northwestern regions of the country. Zoroastrians are protected as "People of the Book" in Islam.
The Zoroastrian religion has three central commands: Good Thoughts, Good Words, and Good Deeds. During their prayers, believers face towards a fire, or else towards the sun or the moon, which are regarded as heavenly fires and as Ahura Mazda himself. The ancient cities of Iran and Armenia often had a 'Sun-Gate'.Just as the Cross, the Star of David and Mecca serve as altar symbols for Christians, Jews an Muslims, Light is to the Zarathushtis a blazing symbol of divine illumination, enlightenment, warmth, love and energy.
Light is the very essence of God, so the 'Alawis worship the sun and the moon seeing them as the abodes of 'Ali, Muhammad and Salman. Actually there are two divisions within the 'Alawis: The Shamsiya (from the Arabic Shams, meaning sun), identify 'Ali with the sun and Salman with the moon. The other group, the Qamariyah (from Qamar, the moon), identify 'Ali with the moon and Salman with the sun. Prayers are said facing the sun.
The heavens are worshipped as God's abode. 'Alawi worship of sun, moon and sky can be traced back to the Sabean sect, an ancient Aramaic community of upper Mesopotamia (Harran) who worshipped the sun, moon and the five planets. They believed that God had one essence but was multiple in his manifestations. (Source)
Imam Mahdi (AS), savior of humanity, is the only son of Imam Hassan Askari (AS) the 11th Imam, who was born on the dawn of 15th of Shaaban 255 A.H. (869 C.E.) in Samarra, Iraq. He became the God-appointed Imam when his father was martyred in 260/874. Imam Mahdi (AS) went into occultation (disappearance) at the same time.He will reappear when Allah wills. (Shia-Info)
From the Bihar Al Anwar (Ocean of Light) a compilation of discourses by the Prophet Mohammed and some of the Shia Islam Imam's. It was compiled in the 17th century by Mohammed Baqir Majlisi, a famous early Shia scholar.
|"When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner as the outer, and the upper as the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male shall not be male, and the female shall not be female: . . . then you will enter [the kingdom]." THOMAS gospel (gnostic) (chapter 24)|
MAHDI - LEO rising signLeo Rising is usually of sunny disposition, although they usually speak their mind. They can be extremely stubborn, and it can be challenging for them to break bad habits or behaviors. Their innate tenacity is one of their greatest assets, though. Even when everyone else is tired out and ready to give up, Leo Ascendant is still ready to inspire everyone to keep up the good work. Leo Rising is full of energy and enthusiasm. Once they are excited about something, they're ready to jump right in. (Source)
Those born with Uranus in the 1st house can be described as having unusual and unconventional qualities. Since the first house represents our physical appearance as well as our personality, there may be something non-conformist about the way these people dress or behave. The individual is viewed as a rebel, reformer, or highly unusual in their manners, appearance and attitude. Sometimes these people enjoy being different and unpredictable. Uranus here likes to do what they please regardless of customs and norms.
The individual really wants to make a difference in the world, make progress and great changes. Uranus in this position can sometimes be disruptive, and they like to shake, rebel and shock others. The individual always wants to shatter other people’s expectations.
Uranus is associated with new discoveries, risk taking and scientific or occult exploration. Uranus in the 1st house wants to be autonomous, independent and freedom orientated, and they are inclined to strike out in an entirely new way. (Source)
Salafist groups launched the Coalition for the Defense of Sharia (Islamic law) today. The coalition plans to participate in mass protests to demand the inclusion of Sharia law as the main source of legislation in Egypt’s new constitution.
“We are here to announce the beginning of our activities to uphold Islamic Sharia against the attack of secular and liberal forces trying to undermine the Constituent Assembly,” said Tarek El-Zomor, Al-Jama'a Islamiyya leader and Founder of its Building and Development Party.
“Sharia is in danger; those against their demand are challenging any article in the constitution, which only gives way for the application of Sharia and not even requires its implementation,” he claimed.
Others want to bind the constitution with international agreements that allow what God has prohibited, he said. “Activities defending Sharia must continue until a referendum on the constitution is held,” he continued.
The Head of the Salafist Asala Party, Adel Abdel-Maqsoud, described anyone who is against the implementation of Sharia as an "apostate". ...
Speakers at the conference insisted there was an obligation on the part of Muslims to participate in the protests; some saying it is a divine duty.
Egyptian Prosecutor-General Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud submitted an official letter to the ministries of telecommunications, information and the interior on Wednesday ordering that measures be adopted to ban pornographic websites in Egypt based on a 2009 court order to this effect.
In May 2009, Egypt's High Administrative Court declared a ban on pornographic websites. The move was based on a lawsuit filed by Islamist lawyer Nezar Ghourab.
On Wednesday, a group of Salafist Muslims belonging to a grassroots campaign dubbed 'Pure Net' staged a demonstration in front of Cairo's High Court to demand enforcement of the ban.
Backed by several prominent Salafist preachers, the 'Pure Net' campaign calls for the prohibition of adult websites in Egypt on grounds that such sites "violate Egyptian customs and values."
The Interior Ministry has allowed the Muslim Brotherhood's Guidance Bureau mufti to deliver religious lectures to police officers, despite objections from the National Security Authority, security sources told Al-Masry Al-Youm.
The sources said that Mufti Abdel Rahman al-Barr began the twice-weekly lectures last month. The lectures to police officers reportedly stressed religious commitment, the good treatment of citizens, avoiding torture and the importance of a religious state.
The same sources said Barr told police officers that growing beards to copy the tradition of Prophet Mohamed was acceptable, an idea strongly opposed by the Ministry.
Some police officers objected to the lectures and boycotted them, sources added.
Dr. Abdul Rahman Al-Barr, member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau and also member of the Constituent Assembly (CA), affirmed that the Muslim Brotherhood’s vision with regard to Sharia (Islamic Law) has always been very clear, even before the revolution, and that Sharia is the most important determinant of Egyptian personality and identity.
In an interview with Al-Jazeera Mubasher (Live)-Egypt satellite TV channel, Al-Barr explained that the Muslim Brotherhood has been defending Sharia since the day it was founded, and paid a heavy price for it – with its brave men thrown in jails and hung on the gallows. He stressed that Sharia is the most favorable and appropriate law framework for the people, and the only one capable of taking the homeland forward onto the road of progress in all fields.
"Sharia, from the Muslim Brotherhood’s point of view, is a comprehensive way of life that regulates and organizes the life of the individual, the community and the nation as well as all institutional relationships in the domestic arena and state relationships with other states in the international arena.
"Sharia is not only an article in the Constitution, it is the spirit that pervades the whole national charter. We, therefore, cannot accept any article that violates Sharia in any way at all. This is an absolutely clear unambiguous fact. This is the case in all constitutions in the world: no contradictory Articles are allowed to be written in the same constitution."
In an exclusive interview with RT, President Bashar Assad said that the conflict in Syria is not a civil war, but proxy terrorism by Syrians and foreign fighters. He also accused the Turkish PM of eyeing Syria with imperial ambitions.
Assad told RT that the West creates scapegoats as enemies – from communism, to Islam, to Saddam Hussein. He accused Western countries of aiming to turn him into their next enemy.
While mainstream media outlets generally report on the crisis as a battle between Assad and Syrian opposition groups, the president claims that his country has been infiltrated by numerous terrorist proxy groups fighting on behalf of other powers.
RT: There are many people who were convinced a year ago that you would not make it this far. Here again you are sitting in a newly renovated presidential palace and recording this interview. Who exactly is your enemy at this point?
BA: My enemy is terrorism and instability in Syria. This is our enemy in Syria. It is not about the people, it is not about persons. The whole issue is not about me staying or leaving. It is about the country being safe or not. So, this is the enemy we have been fighting as Syria. ...
The West creates enemies; in the past it was the communism then it became Islam, and then it became Saddam Hussein for a different reason. Now, they want to create a new enemy represented by Bashar. That's why they say that the problem is the president so he has to leave. That is why we have to focus of the real problem, not to waste our time listening to what they say.
RT: Do you believe that you are the man who can put an end to the conflict and restore peace?
BA: I have to be the man who can do that and I hope so, but it is not about the power of the President; it is about the whole society. We have to be precise about this. The president cannot do anything without the institutions and without the support of the people. So, the fight now is not a President’s fight; it is Syrians’ fight. Every Syrian is involved in defending his country now.
RT: It is and a lot of civilians are dying as well in the fighting. So, if you were to win this war, how would you reconcile with your people after everything that has happened?
BA: Let’s be precise once again. The problem is not between me and the people; I do not have a problem with the people because the United States is against me and the West is against me and many other Arab countries, including Turkey which is not Arab of course, are against me. ...
RT: I heard you say on many different occasions that the only thing you care about is what the Syrian people think of you and what Syrian people feel towards you and whether you should be a president or not. Are you not afraid that there has been so much damage done for whatever reason that at the end of the day Syrians won’t care about the truth; they will just blame you for the carnage that they have suffered?
BA: This is a hypothetical question because what the people think is the right thing, and regarding what they think, we have to ask them. But I don’t have this information right now. ...
RT: For years there have been so many stories about almighty Syrian army, important and strong Syrian secret services, but then we see that, you know, the government forces are not able to crush the enemy like people expected it would...
BA: In this case, it is a new kind of war; terrorism through proxies, either Syrians living in Syria or foreign fighters coming from abroad. So, it is a new style of war, this is first and you have to adapt to this style and it takes time, it is not easy. .. Second, the support that has been offered to those terrorists in every aspect, including armaments, money and political aspect is unprecedented. ..
The problem is that the terrorists are fighting from within the cities, and in the cities you have civilians. When you fight this kind of terrorists, you have to be aware that you should do the minimum damage to the infrastructure and minimum damage to the civilians... This is the difficulty in this kind of war.
RT: Why has Turkey, which you call a friendly nation, become a foothold for the opposition?
BA: Not Turkey, but only Erdogan’s government in order to be precise. Erdogan thinks that if Muslim Brotherhood takes over in the region and especially in Syria, he can guarantee his political future, this is one reason. The other reason, he personally thinks that he is the new sultan of the Ottoman and he can control the region as it was during the Ottoman Empire under a new umbrella. ...
RT: But it is not just the West that opposes you at this point... Why do you have so many enemies in the Arab world?
BA: They are not enemies. The majority of Arab governments support Syria in their heart but they do not dare to say that explicitly.
RT: Iran which is a very close ally also is exposed to economic sanctions, also facing a threat of military invasion. If you were faced with an option to cut ties with Iran in exchange for peace in your country, would you go for it?
BA: Iran is a very important country in the region. If we are looking for stability, we need good relations with Iran.
RT: Do you have any information that the Western intelligence is financing rebel fighters here in Syria?
BA: No, so far what we know is that they are offering the know-how support for the terrorists through Turkey and sometimes through Lebanon mainly.
RT: There has been many times…not you but the government forces have been accused for many times of war crimes against your own civilians, do you accept that the government forces have committed war crimes against their own civilians?
BA: We are fighting terrorism. We are implementing our constitution by protecting the Syrian people. Let’s go back to what happened in Russia more than a decade ago when you faced terrorism in Chechnya and other places; they attacked people in theaters and schools and so on, and the army in Russia protected the people, would you call it war crimes?! No, you would not.
RT: Do you think that at this point there is any chance for diplomacy or talks or only the army can get it done?
BA: I always believe in diplomacy and I always believe in dialogue even with those who do not understand or believe in it. But we have to be realistic.
Those people who committed these acts they are of two kinds: one of them does not believe in dialogue, especially the extremists, and you have the outlaws who have been convicted by the court years ago before the crisis and their natural enemy is the government because they are going to be detained if we have a normal situation in Syria.
The other part of them is the people who have been supplied by the outside, and they can only be committed to the governments which paid them the money and supplied them with the armament; they do not have a choice because they do not own their own decision.
And you have the third part of the people whether militants or politicians who can accept the dialogue. That’s why we have been in this dialogue for months now even with militants and many of them gave up their armaments and they went back to their normal life.
RT: If today was March 15, 2011, that is when the protest started to escalate and grow, what would you do differently?
BA: I would do what I did on March 15.
RT: Exactly the same?
BA: Exactly the same: ask different parties to have dialogue and stand against terrorists because that is how it started. It did not start as marches; the umbrella or cover was the marches, but within those marches you had militants who started shooting civilians and the army at the same time.
RT: President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, thank you for talking to RT.
BA: Thank you for coming to Syria, again.
TEHRAN, (SANA) – Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Consular and Parliamentary Affairs Hassan Qashqavi said that there's a shift in the positions in the countries that supported the Syrian opposition.
In a press statement Qashqavi said that the current situation in Syria is better than before despite the bombings and terrorist acts, noting that the current positions of countries that supported the Syrian opposition has shifted as even US officials said that "bloody democracy" isn't being achieved, stressing the need to return to Iranian diplomacy which calls for non-bloody diplomacy.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the West is reconsidering its stances towards the Syrian opposition. Lavrov attributed this change to the frustration over the failure in unifying this opposition on the one hand and the growing fears of the domination of new powers other than those on which the West was betting on the other hand.
The Russian Foreign Minister continued to say that Moscow believes that it is essential and crucial that the opposition gets unified around the Geneva Statement, pointing out that up till now attempts to unify the opposition groups have been done on the ground of working against the Syrian government, which is wrong. Lavrov stressed that Russia is continuing its efforts in this regard, as it has been meeting representatives of the various opposition groups to enhance the idea of dialogue between them and the Syrian government.
While issuing his warning, al-Sheikh is also trying to convince the West to more enthusiastically back the rebels. He claims he has established a command structure and published a manifesto giving lip-service for human rights.
But those efforts to appeal to the US for greater, and more lethal, arms support is ridiculous. Writing a manifesto about the FSA’s supposed commitment to human rights, while at the same time warning that they may just “turn into terrorists” doesn’t exactly fit.
Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti has issued a religious edict prohibiting contact and cooperation with foreign media outlets seeking to “spread chaos and strife in Muslim lands.” He urged people instead to address their concerns through writing directly to responsible authorities.
Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh told worshipers during a Friday sermon held in a mosque in the capital Riyadh that people should not contact foreign media outlets to “divulge the country’s secrets or address various matters” because these outlets “are only concerned with dividing people and striking the unity of the nation.” He said doing so was tantamount to “treason and major crime.”
The kingdom’s Grand Mufti warned against covering up or sheltering criminals who threaten the country’s security. “It is not permissible and is considered betrayal and assistance to the enemies of Islam.”
“A believer has to help keeping security, that of his nation and community, and protecting his religion,” he said, as quoted by the Saudi daily newspaper Okaz.
As the Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdul Aziz ibn Abdullah Aal Al Sheikh (born 1-1-1941), has the highest position of religious authority in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He is an Islamic scholar based in Mecca—the seat of Islam—and has influence as a leading cleric of the expansive global movement of Salafi Muslims.
As Grand Mufti of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Aal Al Sheikh is the leading religious figure of the Saudi-based network of Salafi Muslims. The rulings derived by Aal Al Sheikh are based heavily on a literal reading of the Qur’an and emphasize the need to strip away cultural practices that have become a part of Muslims’ lives. The movement he leads is characterized by an authoritative stance on Islamic religious practice.
Turkish soap operas ignite culture war|
Damascus was one of the first regions to receive Christianity during the ministry of St Peter. There were more Christians in Damascus than anywhere else. After the military expansion of the Umayyad empire into Syria and Anatolia, the teachings of Islam came into practice and many became Muslims.
Nowadays, Damascus still contains a sizeable proportion of Christians, with churches all over the city, but particularly in the district of Bab Touma. Masses are held every Sunday and civil servants are given Sunday mornings off to allow them to attend church, even though Sunday is a working day in Syria. Schools in Christian-dominated districts have Saturday and Sunday as the weekend, while the official Syrian weekend falls on Friday and Saturday.
In May 2011, International Christian Concern indicated that Christians in Syria were more afraid of the anti-government protesters than of the government itself, because under the Syrian Assad government there has been tolerance towards religious minorities. (Wikipedia Info)
For some he is a holy man, for others he is little more than a rabble-rouser. But no one can dispute that Grand Mufti Ahmad Badreddine Hassoun, 62, is one of the most important men in Syria, a man who, as the country's most senior religious scholar and a close political advisor to President Bashar Assad, plays a role in shaping war and peace in his country and in the entire Middle Eastern region.
Sheik Hassoun, a Sunni religious scholar at Al-Azhar University in Cairo and a member of parliament for eight years, has always found conciliatory words in the West. He sharply criticized the term "Holy War" in front of the European Parliament, saying: "Only peace is holy." ...
The grand mufti meets with us in the office of his apartment near the university of Aleppo. He is sitting in front of a large set of bookshelves, interrupted only by calligraphy that reads, in Arabic: "God teaches us everything, including the best way to use language."
SPIEGEL: Sheikh Hassoun, at least 3,000 people have died in Syria since March. Can civil war still be averted?
Hassoun: It is possible, but then all sides must truly desire peace. ... Some forces, especially abroad, have an interest in further escalation.
SPIEGEL: What do you mean?
Hassoun: In March, there was a completely justified, peaceful rally in Daraa against the governor of the region, who had thrown schoolchildren into prison. Daraa is a town near the Jordanian border known for smuggling. I went there right away and brought calm to the situation, and I promised the people an independent investigation. At my suggestion, the president removed the governor from office. But then imams who had come from abroad, especially Saudi Arabia, stirred things up with their inflammatory speeches. The news channels stationed in the Gulf states, Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, helped them by falsely claiming that the clergy was on the side of the anti-Assad protesters. ...
SPIEGEL: It sounds like a conspiracy theory, with which you are trying to gloss over the failure of the Assad regime.
Hassoun: The government is not as you describe it. But it has made political and economic mistakes and did not liberalize quickly and comprehensively enough. The president is taking responsibility for that.
SPIEGEL: You say this to him in your private conversations?
Hassoun: It is well known that I generally support the president's policies. But when I feel the need to criticize and correct, I do so. ..
SPIEGEL: In your view, under what circumstances would Assad be willing to step down -- a condition that many insurgents have made and that is shared by US President Barack Obama and European politicians?
Hassoun: I am convinced that he will gradually introduce reforms, allow free and fair elections with independent parties, and then, after a peaceful transition, he might be willing to step down. He's no president for life. Bashar Assad, a former eye doctor, wants to return to his old profession. I can easily imagine it. In fact, he has told me several times about his dream of running an eye clinic.
SPIEGEL: At the moment, however, he has been very hesitant in agreeing to reforms. ...
Hassoun: Oh, the Arab League and the so-called Arab Spring. .. Should we welcome the rise of Islamist parties? I believe in the strict separation of church and state.
SPIEGEL: Not all Islamists are enemies of democracy. The winners of the election in Tunis have committed themselves to pluralism, and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Ankara largely practices this pluralism.
Hassoun: I was in Turkey nine months ago and met with almost all the top politicians. And I have to admit that I was very impressed.
SPIEGEL: Your northern neighbor has sided with Assad's opponents. Turkey is allowing the so-called Free Syrian Army to organize attacks against northern Syria from its territory. It is also harboring the Syrian National Council, the joint opposition group, which announced its formation in Istanbul a few months ago.
Hassoun: Yes, I was very surprised and outraged about that. This so-called national council doesn't even have a political program. I say to them: Show us something, negotiate with the Assad regime over a realistic timetable, and then let the people decide who has the more convincing ideas. ...
SPIEGEL: Why are you accusing Israel and the United States?
Hassoun: There are close ties between the Saudi royal family and the American White House. The Americans are often on the side of the oppressors. I am always on the side of the oppressed.
SPIEGEL: What does that mean for your role in Syria?
Hassoun: I see myself as the grand mufti of all 23 million Syrians, not just Muslims, but also Christians and even atheists. I am a man of dialogue. Who knows, maybe an agnostic will convince me with better arguments one day, and I'll become a non-believer. And if I'm enthusiastic about the opposition's political platform, I also might change sides.