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Bible Quotations For Today
You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 05/13-16/:"‘You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. ‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
Letter to the Hebrews 12/14-17/:"Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and through it many become defiled. See to it that no one becomes like Esau, an immoral and godless person, who sold his birthright for a single meal. You know that later, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, even though he sought the blessing with tears.
Links From Christian Today Site for February
Tragedy Of Our Times': UK Government Urged To Protect World's 250,000 Child Soliders
Trump, Brexit And Fascism Leave UK 'Savagely Divided' - Archbishop Of Canterbury
Questions Of Gay Sex And Christian Faith Dominate As CofE Meets For Controversial Synod
Priest Arrested On Suspicion Of Trying To Poison Superior
Shut-Down Indonesian Church Told It Can Reopen - If It Shares Land With A Mosque
Pope Francis Trolled By Fake News Front Page Of Vatican Newspaper
Police Investigate 'Mismanagement' After Church Lost £3.9m Investments
Church's Gay Marriage Stance Challenged By Retired Bishops
Marco Rubio Attacks Chinese Government For Crackdown On Religious Freedom
North Korea Missile Launch Tests Trump
Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on February 12-13/17
UN chief: End to Syrian crisis will also end ISIS
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English Monday, 13 February 2017/Dubai -- In an exclusive interview with Al Arabiya’s sister channel Al-Hadath in Dubai on Monday, the UN Secretary General said a political solution to the Syrian crisis would lead to the end of ISIS. Antonio Guterres said that the Syrian crisis was the hardest test of the United Nations' impact on the world and that he sees no end to the refugee crisis in the immediate future. The secretary general said that the absence of a comprehensive political solution has allowed ISIS to thrive, but he expressed optimism at the Syrian opposition in Riyadh's formation of a delegation to attend peace negotiations.
Speaking on Yemen, Guterres said the Yemeni people are living through “unacceptably” tragic times and that a political solution to the crisis between the government and the Houthi rebels should be “beneficial for all parties.”He said that Iran's interests should not have an impact on countries in the region. Iran has been a major player in the Syrian conflict, fighting alongside the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and has been accused by Gulf states of interfering in the Yemeni conflict by arming Houthi militias. Guterres also said that division among Security Council members has scuttled the Council’s effectiveness in dealing with global crises.
He expressed regret at the the United States' decision on Friday to block the appointment of former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad as the new UN envoy to Libya. Speaking on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, Guterres said that the "only solution" is a two-state solution, also objecting to Israeli settlement building on Palestinian land - saying this was an obstacle to peace. Guterres arrived in Dubai on Monday for the World Government Summit during his regional tour. On Sunday, he was in Saudi Arabia where he met with King Salman and the Saudi foreign minister among other officials. He told Al-Hadath that his visit to the region, which also focused on the conflicts in Iraq and Libya, was aimed at boosting cooperation with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
Turkey’s Erdogan says aims safe zone in Syria after Raqqa operation
Reuters, Istanbul Monday, 13 February 2017/President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday Turkey aimed to create a safe zone in Syria, extending its military operations to the towns of Manbij and Raqqa after driving ISIS from al-Bab, if it acts together with the US-led coalition. In a speech in Bahrain, broadcast live on Turkish television, Erdogan said the planned safe zone would cover an area of at least 4,000-5,000 square kilometers (3,475 square miles) and would require a no-fly zone.
ISIS tunnel network found in Syria’s al-Bab
Staff writer, Al Arabiya.net Monday, 13 February 2017/A video recorded by Turkish troops and special forces backed by the Free Syria Army involved in operation "Euphrates Shield” revealed the existence of tunnels in the Syrian city al-Bab used by ISIS militants.
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Monday that Turkish forces and factions of the Free Syrian Army have reached the center of the city in northern Syria, stressing that they are on the verge of controlling the ISIS held city in the country side of northern Aleppo.There seems to be a rivalry between the Euphrates Shield forces and the regime to control the strategic city.
Syrian government says ready for prisoner swaps with rebels
Reuters, Beirut Monday, 13 February 2017/The Syrian government said on Monday it was ready to agree prisoner swaps with rebel groups, a potential confidence-building measure as the United Nations prepares to convene new peace talks. The Syrian opposition has long demanded a release of detainees held by the government as one of several humanitarian actions they say must take place ahead of any negotiations over Syria’s political future. The government was “always ready” to exchange prisoners in its jails for people “kidnapped by terrorist groups”, Syrian state media cited an official source as saying.
A rebel official told Reuters the demand had been raised during indirect talks with the government in the Kazakh capital of Astana. A second rebel official however dismissed the official statement as a ruse, saying the number of detainees held by Damascus vastly outnumbered the few held by rebels. The next round of UN-sponsored peace talks are due to be held in Geneva next week, part of a new diplomatic effort backed by Russia and Turkey to end a war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people. Syrian government and rebel delegations held indirect talks in Astana last month in a parallel effort to shore up a ceasefire brokered by Turkey and Russia. Kazakhstan says it has invited Syrian government and rebel delegations to further meetings in Astana on Feb. 15-16. The rebel side has yet to say whether they will attend. Monday’s state media report said the Syrian government was always ready to exchange prisoners, “particularly in the framework of efforts made for the coming Astana meeting”.
Asked about the report, the first rebel official said any breakthrough would depend on Russian pressure on the government. Moscow is President Bashar al-Assad’s most powerful ally. “If the Russians apply pressure in the next two days, something may happen,” said the first rebel official, speaking on condition of anonymity. The second rebel official however said the government was not serious about releasing detainees, saying it appeared to be trying to present a cooperative face ahead of the Geneva talks. “It is a political game,” said the official. This month, in a rare move, the Syrian government and rebel groups swapped dozens of women prisoners and hostages, some of them with their children, in Hama province in northwestern Syria. Amnesty International said in a report this month that the government had executed up to 13,000 prisoners in mass hangings at a military jail near Damascus. The Syrian justice ministry called the report “devoid of truth”. The main Syrian opposition body on Sunday approved its delegation to the Geneva talks that are due to start on Feb. 20. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres praised the opposition for approving the delegation.
The talks “are a first step for serious progress in finding a transition that allows for a political solution in which all Syrians feel represented,” he said.
Syrian govt forces used chemical weapons in Aleppo
Reuters, Amsterdam Monday, 13 February 2017/Syrian government forces used chemical weapons in opposition-controlled parts of Aleppo during battles to retake the city late last year, Human Rights Watch said in a report published on Monday. The findings add to mounting evidence of the use of banned chemical weapons in the six-year-old Syrian civil war and could strengthen calls by Britain, France and the United States for sanctions against Syrian officials. Government helicopters dropped chlorine bombs “in residential areas in Aleppo on at least eight occasions between November 17 and December 13, 2016,” the New York-based group said. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which oversees a global treaty banning toxic warfare, had no immediate comment. Syria and its ally Russia, which helped state troops in the Aleppo assault, have repeatedly denied using chemical weapons in the conflict. They blame opposition militants seeking to topple the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Human Rights Watch said its report, which was based on interviews with witnesses, analysis of videos and photos and social media posts, did not find proof of Russian involvement in the chemical attacks, but noted Moscow’s key role in helping the government to retake Aleppo. “The attacks, some of which included multiple munitions, killed at least nine civilians, including four children, and injured around 200,” it said. Ole Solvang, deputy emergencies director at Human Rights Watch, said in an interview that the way chemical attacks moved in step with the frontline showed they were an integral part of the offensive. “This is a strong indication that these chlorine attacks were coordinated with the overall military strategy. And it is a strong indication then that senior military officers, the commanders of this military offensive in Aleppo, knew that chlorine was being used,” he said. A UN-OPCW inquiry assigned to identify organizations and individuals responsible for the chemical attacks concluded last October that Syrian government forces had used chlorine as a chemical weapon at least three times in 2014-15. Islamic State militants, it said, had used sulphur mustard gas in one attack. The UN Security Council extended the mandate of the inquiry, known as the Joint Investigative Mission (JIM), until November this year. It is due to issue its next report by Saturday. Responding to the JIM’s findings, the United States last month blacklisted 18 senior Syrian officials it said were connected to the country’s weapons of mass destruction program. Reuters reported in January that leading Syrian officials, including President Assad and his brother, had been identified as possible suspects in the chemical attacks. Chlorine’s use as a weapon is banned under the Chemical Weapons Convention, which Syria joined in 2013. If inhaled, chlorine gas turns into hydrochloric acid in the lungs and can kill by burning lungs and drowning victims in the resulting body fluids.
Erdogan: King Salman was first leader to contact me after coup attempt
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English Monday, 13 February 2017/President Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has said that Saudi Arabia's King Salman was the first first leader to contact him after coup attempt in his country and assured him of solidarity with Turkey.
Erdogan also said that terrorism is changing the face of Syria and the region and that ancient Arab capitals are turning into battlefields. Speaking at the end of his visit to Bahrain, Erdogan said that unfolding events in Iraq and Syria threaten Turkey and that they are forced to take steps to secure themselves.
Iraq hits ISIS commanders, Al-Baghdadi fate unclear: Statement
AFP, Baghdad Monday, 13 February 2017/The Iraqi air force has targeted a meeting of commanders from the ISIS group that its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may have been attending, a statement said on Monday. It was not clear in the statement sent by the Joint Operations Command coordinating the fight against the jihadists in Iraq whether the world's most wanted terrorist had been hit. An intelligence cell monitored a convoy that the statement said transported Baghdadi from the area of Raqa, the jihadists' main Syrian stronghold, across the border to the Al-Qaim area in western Iraq. The statement said Iraqi air force F-16 jets struck a meeting of top IS commanders on February 11, but did not make clear whether Baghdadi was present. "The direct strike on the meeting location led to the death of 13 Daesh (IS) commanders," said the statement, which provided a list of names. The Iraq-born Baghdadi, who proclaimed a "caliphate" straddling Iraq and Syria in June 2014, was not one of those names. Iraq's military said dozens of other ISIS militants were also killed in other strikes in the same area as part of the operation.
Turkey nightclub attacker reportedly asks for death penalty
Daily Hurriyet Monday, 13 February 2017/An ISIS militant who attacked a famous nightclub at the heart of Istanbul has reportedly asked to be given a death sentence in his testimony. Uzbek-origin Abdulkadir Masharipov, who killed 39 people and wounded 65 others, said that “it would be good if he was given capital punishment,” daily Sabah reported on Feb. 13. During his testimony, Masharipov said he was a member of ISIS but had not participated in any attacks by the militant organization before the Reina attack. “I wanted to stage the attack on Christians in order to exact revenge on them for their acts committed all over the world. My aim was to kill Christians. Abu Cihad, who is in Syria, told me to carry out the attack in Taksim, saying ‘Christians are gathering in Taksim,’” Masharipov said, adding that he could not stage the attack in Taksim due to strict security measures. “There were police officers everywhere. I changed my mind. I called Abu Cihad and told him that I can’t carry out the attack there. Then I went to scope out Reina. Abu Cihad sent me the address and photos of Reina. I constantly texted him. I didn’t see him face-to-face. I went in front of Reina and there were no police officers or security,” he said. Noting that he wanted to kill himself after staging the attack, Masharipov said he was planning to do so in order not to “fall hostage.”“When I was out of bullets, I threw two stun grenades. I put the third one near my face to commit suicide, but I didn’t die. I survived, but I entered Reina to die,” he said, adding that he did not regret his actions. “I took vengeance,” he said. At least 39 people, including a police officer, were killed when Masharipov opened fire on New Year’s revelers in the nightclub in the Ortaköy neighborhood at about 1:15 a.m. on Jan. 1. Masharipov was captured in the Esenyurt district of Istanbul late on Jan. 16. He was arrested on Feb. 11. Meanwhile, it has emerged that Masharipov recorded a “farewell video” before staging the attack. In the video recorded on Dec. 27, 2016, the ISIS militant is seen saying he will stage a suicide attack, daily Habertürk reported on Feb. 12. According to the footage, Masharipov advises his son to become a suicide bomber like himself. The authorities are attempting to determine whether the video was recorded by the ISIS militant’s wife, Zarina Nurullayeva.
Arab coalition strikes Houthi targets in Mokha and Hejjah
Staff writer, Al Arabiya.net Monday, 13 February 2017/The National Yemeni army launched an attack targeting the rebels in Taiz, through which it managed to restore al-Kadha and neighboring villages. Moreover, 6 insurgents were killed in fierce battles that broke out in al-Zahra and the neighborhoods surrounding the air defense camp in Taiz. The Arab Coalition targeted weapons’ depot in al-Khokha district in Hodeidah Governorate. It has also launched violent raids on militia sites in the northern coastal province of Mokha, Hejja and Marib. In the meantime, the rebels attempted once again to progress in Taiz, especially in Zahra and the neighborhoods surrounding the air defense camp, which witnessed violent clashes. The militias tried to seize control of military sites but were severely conquered and dozens were dead and injured. In Dhamar, the Houthi and Saleh militias received dozens of Houthi bodies including major field leaders who were killed in Taiz and Mokha. Medical sources at the Dhamar public hospital reported that the hospital has received more than 3500 bodies since the beginning of the coup.
Ruterres: Salam Fayyad ‘right man’ to be Libya envoy despite US objection
Reuters, Dubai Monday, 13 February 2017/UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday he believed former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad was the “right person” to be the world body's envoy to Libya after the United States raised objections to the choice. The US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has expressed disappointment over Guterres’ choice, saying the world body has for too long been “unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel”. Speaking at a summit in Dubai, Guterres said: “I believe he is the right person for the right job at the right moment... And I think it is a loss for the Libyan peace process and for the Libyan people that I am not able to appoint him.”
Hamas Military Hardliner Elected Group's Gaza Chief
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/February 13/17/Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas elected a hardline member of its armed wing as its new Gaza head on Monday, Hamas officials said. "Yahya Sinwar was elected to head the Hamas political office in the Gaza Strip," the officials said. He will succeed Ismail Haniya, who is seen by many observers as the most likely successor to Hamas's current exiled leader Khaled Meshaal. In September 2015, Sinwar was added to the U.S. terrorism blacklist alongside two other members of Hamas's military wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades. A graduate in Arabic, he was born in the Khan Younis refugee camp in southern Gaza and founded "Majd," one of Hamas's intelligence services. Arrested by Israel in 1988 for "terrorist activity," Sinwar was sentenced to four life sentences. He was released in October 2011 under an agreement to exchange more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for the release of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured five years earlier. Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip for a decade, has been conducting internal elections for several months. The process is shrouded in mystery and it is unclear when the other appointments will be announced. After his release from jail, Sinwar initially made a number of public appearances. Later, however, he disappeared from public view and was presented in Hamas media as the commander of al-Qassam's elite units. Influential and close to many Hamas military leaders, Sinwar represents for some observers the hardest line within the Islamist movement. Washington accuses him of continuing to advocate kidnapping of Israeli soldiers as a bargaining chip for Palestinian prisoners. Hamas currently claims to have four Israelis in captivity in Gaza, though Israel says the two soldiers among them were killed in the 2014 war. Kobi Michael, an analyst and former head of the Palestinian Desk at Israel's Ministry for Strategic Affairs, said the appointment would cause alarm among Israeli politicians. "He represents the most radical and extreme line of Hamas," he told reporters. "Sinwar believes in armed resistance. He doesn't believe in any sort of cooperation with Israel." Israel has fought three wars with Hamas since 2008, the last of which in 2014. It maintains a crippling blockade on Gaza which it says is necessary to maintain Hamas but which the United Nations says amounts to collective punishment.
N. Korea Says Successfully Tested New Ballistic Missile
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/February 13/17/North Korea said Monday it had successfully tested a new ballistic missile, triggering a US-led call for an urgent UN Security Council meeting after a launch seen as a challenge to President Donald Trump.The North's leader Kim Jong-Un "expressed great satisfaction over the possession of another powerful nuclear attack means which adds to the tremendous might of the country", state news agency KCNA said. The missile was launched Sunday near the western city of Kusong and flew east about 500 kilometres (310 miles) before falling into the Sea of Japan (East Sea), South Korea's defence ministry has said. Photos released by KCNA showed the missile blasting into the sky with a smiling Kim watching from the command centre, and standing on the launch field surrounded by dozens of cheering soldiers and scientists. It said Kim "personally guided" preparations for Sunday's test, which it described as a surface-to-surface medium long-range Pukguksong-2, a "Korean-style new type strategic weapon system". KCNA said the missile was powered by a solid-fuel engine -- which requires a far shorter refuelling time than conventional liquid fuel-powered missiles, according to Yun Duk-Min of the state-run Institute for Foreign Affairs and Security in Seoul. "They leave little warning time and therefore pose greater threat to opponents," he said, adding that such missiles are harder to detect before launch by satellite surveillance. The North has previously made claims for its weapons capabilities that analysts consider unconvincing. But Seoul's military confirmed the North's claim on the solid-fuel engine, suggesting progress in its capabilities.
Pyongyang's latest announcement was the first time a Pukguksong-2 has been mentioned, although last August it test-fired what it said was a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) marked as a Pukguksong-1, a name which translates as "North Star".Kim said at the time that the missile, which was launched towards Japan, put the US mainland and the Pacific within striking range. An official with the South Korean military's Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters the Pukguksong-2 appeared to have been fired based on the same "cold launch" technology used in last year's SLBM test. The method -- in which a missile is initially propelled by compressed gas before its engine ignites mid-air -- is considered safer and easier to hide its original launch location. North Korea claims it has developed an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of hitting the US mainland but it has not tested one as yet. The longest-range missile it has tested is the intermediate Musudan which is theoretically capable of reaching US bases on Guam, but most have ended in failure including one last October which exploded shortly after launch.- Armed provocation -The South has said that Sunday's launch was designed as a test for Trump, who responded to the provocation by pledging "100 percent" support for Washington's key regional ally Japan.
"Today's missile launch... is aimed at drawing global attention to the North by boasting its nuclear and missile capabilities", Seoul's defence ministry said Sunday. "It is also believed that it was an armed provocation to test the response from the new US administration under President Trump," it added. The United States, Japan and South Korea responded to the North's confirmation by requesting an urgent UN Security Council meeting to discuss the launch. The council is expected to hold consultations on Monday. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose country would be in range of a hostile North Korean missile launch, called the test "absolutely intolerable" during an impromptu press conference with Trump in Florida on Sunday. North Korea is barred under UN resolutions from any use of ballistic missile technology. But six sets of UN sanctions since Pyongyang's first nuclear test in 2006 have failed to halt its drive for what it insists are defensive weapons. Last year the country conducted two nuclear tests and numerous missile launches in its quest to develop a nuclear weapons system capable of hitting the US mainland. South Korea's acting president Hwang Kyo-Ahn vowed a "corresponding punishment" in response to the launch, which came on the heels of a visit to Seoul by US Defense Secretary James Mattis this month. Mattis had warned Pyongyang that any nuclear attack would be met with an "effective and overwhelming" response. Joel Wit, a senior fellow at the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, said that nevertheless more provocations were likely. "There is certainly more coming in response to (US-South Korea) exercises openly advertised to decapitating the North Korean regime and that may include overflights of long-range nuclear-capable bombers," he said on
Twitter.Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published
on February 13-14/17
The Great Humanistic Delusion
Philip Carl Salzman/Gatestone Institute/February 13/17
With the broadening of globalization, and the ever-larger flows of population to distant lands, diversity became not only more prevalent, but a quality to be desired, an inclusion of all varieties of humanity, an ethic.
The means of attaining this diversity is cultural relativism. Its thesis is that all ways of life are equally valid, and that judgement must be suspended absolutely and permanently. In acknowledging differences, we would potentially be opening discussion to insidious comparisons with claims that one culture might be preferable or others. Such evaluations would violate the cultural relativist principle that all cultures are equally valid and good.
If some people attack others in the name of Islam or jihad, we hear it as if they must be lacking the things that we would miss: steady jobs, nice houses, good cars. If some people who have immigrated to our home country murder our citizens, they must have suffered a lack of opportunity due to racism or "Islamophobia." According to the humanistic delusion, violent people are despondent and desperate from not having the things that we have. And there is also a clear answer to stopping the attacks: give those folks the nice things that we like, so they will be content, be nice, and not try to take us over or blow us up.
We like to think that all people should be treated as equals, and regard religious prejudice as racism and discrimination on the basis of sexual preference with disdain. But in South Asia, the hierarchical caste system ranks people according to purity vs. pollution. Pakistan means "Land of the Pure".
Finally, as members of the UN, we believe that countries should respect one another, and not interfere with one another; particularly, we think that warfare should be avoided. But does everyone think that?
Most people in North America and Western Europe cling to a very dangerous belief: that people are really all the same, that people everywhere want the same things, that people everywhere have the same values. And the things others want and value are the same things that we want and value. This is the great Western humanistic delusion: that everyone is the same, and everyone is like me.
Historically, people saw their encounters through a loyalty and pride in his or her family, clan, tribe, caste, class, nation, religion, and race, and to have suspicion and disdain for those of other families, clans, tribes, castes, classes, nations, religions, and races. Uniquely, in the West, after the Enlightenment, the idea of the "in" group broadened and broadened over time, so that by the second half of the 20th century, identity was increasingly with all of humanity. Anthropologists rejected race as a legitimate scientific category.
The positive side of the new framework of "all of humanity" can be seen in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights promulgated by the United Nations, and endorsed by most countries of the world. However, Saudi Arabia abstained from the ratification vote.
"Saudi Arabia's stated reservations to the Universal Declaration were that its call for freedom of religion violated the precepts of Islam, and that the human rights guaranteed by the Islamic-based law of Saudi Arabia surpassed those secured by the Universal Declaration."
In 1984, the Iranian representative to the United Nations, Said Rajaie-Khorassani, said that the Declaration was "a secular understanding of the Judeo-Christian tradition" that could not be implemented by Muslims without conflict with Sharia.
On June 30, 2000, members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference officially resolved to support the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, an alternative document that says people have "freedom and right to a dignified life in accordance with the Islamic Shari'ah." The Islamic Cairo Declaration excludes many of the rights inscribed in the U.N. Universal Declaration, such as the rights of free speech, of religion, and of marriage by free choice. In other words, to the OIC, whatever is inside sharia is a human right; whatever is not inside sharia is not a human right.
This framework of inclusion of all humanity by the West and its allies is seen in immigration policies opening Western countries to people everywhere; in the embrace of multiculturalism by Western governments, and in the laws liberal democratic countries passed that prohibited discrimination on the basis of gender, race, nationality, or other external characteristics.
With the broadening of globalization, and the ever-larger flows of population to distant lands, diversity became not only more prevalent, but a quality to be desired, an inclusion of all varieties of humanity, an ethic. The means of attaining this diversity is cultural relativism. Its thesis is that all ways of life are equally valid, and that judgement must be suspended absolutely and permanently.
At the same time as we celebrate diversity, however, we tend to deny differences. We would rather emphasize what we have in common: that we are all human beings who deserve dignified treatment and consideration. Furthermore, in acknowledging differences, we would potentially be opening discussion to insidious comparisons with claims that one culture might be preferable or others in some ways worse than others. Such evaluations would violate the cultural relativist principle that all cultures are equally valid and good.
The alleged homogeneity of people, according to the humanistic fantasy, helps us to misunderstand the world. If some people attack others in the name of Islam or jihad, we hear it as if they must be lacking the things that we would miss: steady jobs, nice houses, good cars. If some people who have immigrated to our home country murder our citizens and military, they must have suffered a lack of opportunity due to racism or "Islamophobia". If Palestinians refuse to accept a Jewish state or even Jews in their midst, it must be because the Jews stole their land and kept them from having nice houses and cars. According to the humanistic delusion, violent people are despondent and desperate from not having the things that we have. And there is also a clear answer to stopping the attacks: give those folks the nice things that we like, so they will be content, be nice, and not try to take us over or blow us up.
The deluded conviction that all people want the same things has been refuted by the entire field of anthropology, which identifies culture as a primary determining influence in people's lives, and which studies, through peoples around the world, the great variations in values, and practices and beliefs. We say, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do," which recognises that Romans do things differently. The point of anthropological research is to identify, understand, and explain those differences from culture to culture. Ruth Benedict in Patterns of Culture spoke of the great arc of cultural variation. Anthropological understanding of the diversity of cultures has spread to other fields, such as international relations, where Samuel Huntington analysed international conflicts as the "clash of civilizations."
People from other cultures repeatedly tell us that they view things differently from the way we Westerners do. Hamas and other jihadi groups repeatedly say, "You love life; we love death".
Jihadis may love death because they believe that to die while waging jihad will send them directly to heaven, 72 virgins, and glory here on Earth.
While we in the West work toward ensuring that all sexual relations are consensual, the view in Pakistan is probably more that "Christian girls are for one thing, the pleasure of Muslim men."
Sharia law (Quran 4:34) allows Muslim men to capture infidel girls, rape them, keep them as sex slaves, sell them or kill them, as they like. The Islamic State has recently been active gang-raping Yazidi captives, selling them as sex slaves, and, as in the instance of 19 girls who refused to have sex, placing them in iron cages and burning them alive.
In Hindu South Asia as well, women are subject to rape, and their communities and public authorities often ignore their anguish unless they are murdered as well.
We like to think that all people should be treated as equals, and regard religious prejudice as racism and discrimination on the basis of sexual preference with disdain. But in South Asia, the hierarchical caste system ranks people according to purity vs. pollution. Pakistan means "Land of the Pure"; the trouble is that fewer and fewer people seem pure enough. Crossing caste lines often leads to violence. Jaswinder Kaur Sidhu was an Indo-Canadian woman, who, while visiting India, fell in love and married a man of low caste. Her Canadian family arranged to have her murdered. .
While in the West we think that girls should have a certain amount of freedom and be able to mix with their peer group, some Middle Eastern immigrants in the West think that their and their families' honor has been besmirched by their wives, daughters or sisters becoming "too Swedish," or "too Canadian". In the Shafia family, who came from Afghanistan to Montreal, the father, mother, and older brother murdered a first wife and three daughters for becoming "too Canadian," dressing immodestly, talking to boys, and thus becoming "whores." The victims were dumped in a canal in Kingston.
We may all wish for the Palestinians and Israelis to make peace. But do the Palestinans wish it? The Israelis have offered the Palestinians a state and peace repeatedly, from the UN 1947 Partition Plan on. The Palestinians repeatedly rejected all offers. Why is that? Should two peoples not be willing to live in peace side by side? Alternatively, the Palestinians seem to believe that all of Palestine is an Islamic waqf, a permanent religious endowment, and must belong to Muslims alone; and that Jews and other "unbelievers" should only allowed to be dhimmis – second-class, tolerated residents who have live under Muslim rule with separate, humiliating laws, and pay a special tax, the jizya to protect their property and their lives.
Finally, the Jews had the lack of grace not to let themselves to be defeated during four invasions by Muslim armies – in 1947, 1956, 1967 and 1973.
Middle East expert Gregg Roman notes:
"However, when taking into account 3,000 years of history and context, Palestinian Arabs, not indigenous Israeli Jews, become the offending party....Around 1,300 years ago, descendants and followers of the Prophet Mohammad from Arabia poured out of the Peninsular in an orgy of conquest, expansionism and colonization. They first annihilated ancient Jewish tribes in places like Yathrib (known today as Medina) and Khaybar before sweeping north, east and west, conquering what is today known as the Middle East, North Africa and even southern Europe...Wherever Arab and Islamic rulers conquered, they imposed their culture, language and — most significantly — their religion....At first, Arab settlers and conquerors did not want to intermingle with their indigenous vassals. They often lived in segregated quarters or created garrison towns from which they imposed their authority on native populations.... while slavery became rampant and unfettered...Slowly, but surely, the "Arab world" that we know today was artificially and aggressively imposed."
Palestinians believe that the situation can only be set right by defeating Israel, destroying Israel, and replacing Israel with a Palestinian Muslim state, as can be seen in both the PLO Charter, Article 22 , the Hamas Charter or any Palestinian map. It is for this reason that many Palestinian mothers do not want their children to go to college and become businessmen, dentists, accountants, or doctors, as we wish for our children, but want them to murder Jews, be killed, and become martyrs for the Palestinian cause.
Finally, as members of the United Nations, we believe that countries should respect one another, and not interfere with one another; particularly, we think that warfare should be avoided. But does everyone think that? Russia has recently invaded Ukraine, showing the West's guarantees were worthless. Russia then proceeded effectively to take over Syria and now appears inclined to take over the Baltics.
The Islamic State, for its part, intends to take back Andalusia, lost in 1492 from Spain, which had reconquered it from Muslim invaders:
"We will recover al-Andalus, Allah willing. Oh dear Andalus! You thought we forgot about you. I swear by Allah we have never forgotten you. No Muslim can forget Córdoba, Toledo or Xàtiva. There are many faithful and sincere Muslims who swear they will return to al-Andalus."
And Iran continues to be the world's leading sponsor of terrorism, as it continues to threaten Israel and the U.S.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in Brussels, March 16, 2015. (Image source: European Union)
So it appears that peace and stability is not what many others crave. If you really think everyone is like you, you might want to think again.
**Philip Carl Salzman is Professor of Anthropology at McGill University, Canada.
 See Weiner, The Rule of the Clan, Ch. 7.
 See Unni Wikan, In Honor of Fadime and Generous Betrayal; Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Infidel.
 See Christie Blatchford, Killed Because They Were Girls; Paul Schliesmann, Honour on Trial: The Sahfia Murders and the Culture of Honour Killings.
 For more on this, see Salzman, Culture and Conflict in the Middle East.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.
Trump and the labelling of Muslim Brotherhood as terror group
Mohammed Al Shaikh/Al Arabiya/February 13/17
In my opinion, Muslim Brotherhood is not merely a terrorist group, but mother of all terrorism. It has been the fountainhead of violent political Islamism since it was established in 1928. It has bred terrorist movements that exploited sacred Islamic text to justify violence and recruitment of terrorists.
During the British colonial era in Egypt, the group was used by foreign intelligence agencies as a tool for political assassinations. It was said to have been used by former US president Ronald Regan in the eighties of the last century against ex-Soviet Union in Afghanistan and was manipulated by the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, to challenge the so-called socialist centralization of power. For them, the group seemed nothing more than “gun for hire” to be used against adversaries. History of the group, since it was founded in Egypt, corroborate the fact that it has always being a political tool that have misused Islamic concepts such as “jihad” to accomplish political goals, either for their own political aspirations or for others. Being officially classified as “terrorist organization” may have hampered their expansion, but did not totally obliterate the group. This is achievable only if it is done globally
President Donald Trump and officials from his administration have stated, on several occasions, plans to designate the group as a terrorist organization similar to that of Hezbollah in Lebanon. This could be done probably by passing a bill in the Congress. Apparently, members of Muslim Brotherhood, mainly in the US and Europe, are anticipating this move and are beginning to publicly detach themselves from the group. This is, however, only part of the entire story. For example, the group was designated as a terrorist group in Egypt, the country of its origin, as well as the UAE and Saudi Arabia, a move of profound and palpable financial impact on the Muslim Brotherhood and its empathizers. Being officially classified as “terrorist organization” may have hampered their expansion, but did not totally obliterate the group. This is achievable only if it is done globally.
This will not only largely incapacitate its activities but will also compel its followers to disengage from terrorism. They will have to do so escape financial implications of breaching sanctions imposed by the US administration on terrorist groups, banks and financial institutions. Adding the group to the “terror list” will hasten Britain to follow the US path, as well as Europe, especially France and Germany, if the far-right prevailed. The conclusion remains that Trump winning the US presidential election, and his pledge to eradicate violent ideology, means he will, undoubtedly, obliterate the Muslim Brotherhood.
**This article is also available in Arabic.
Does Trump’s rhetoric serve Iran’s purpose?
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/February 13/17
A recent piece published by The Economist is entitled: “Donald Trump is helping Iran’s radicals.” It cites the Iranian Supreme Leader’s statement: “Thank you, Mr. Trump, for showing the true face of America,” adding that Mohammad Javad Zarif, “Iran’s foreign minister, has lost his smile. Iran has difficult days ahead.”The article concludes that the extremist wing within the Iranian regime benefits from Trump’s extremist political rhetoric and gives this wing a chance to rise and strengthen its position at the expense of the moderate wing. These fears seem logical and reasonable but when applying them on the political reality within the Iranian regime, we realize they are not true. We believed in this conclusion in the 1990’s when Hashemi Rafsanjani became president as he represented moderation but his presidential term passed by and further proved that the Iranian regime is in fact extremist on the ideological level and governs through a structure of centralized control regardless of the president elected by the people and accepted by the Supreme Leader. This analysis became clearer when Mohammad Khatami won the presidential elections. Everyone realized later that he was a figurehead while the real power was in the hands of the Supreme Leader’s office and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Then Mahmoud Ahmedinejad became president and he had full powers as he had strong relations with the supreme guide’s and Revolutionary Guards’ institutions. During three decades, nothing happened to prove that there’s real competition between radicals and moderates inside the ruling command. Major events rather confirmed that the real governing figures were the radical ones while the moderate ones were just frontmen. Hassan Rowhani, the current president, and Zarif, his foreign minister, also represent the moderate face and they succeeded at swaying the administration of former president Barack Obama and convincing it that lifting sanctions and encouraging Iran’s openness are in the interest of moderate figures, the region and the world.
The nature of the regime in Tehran is religious and it has a revolutionary ideology. It has a political agenda that has not changed much since it attacked the American embassy in Tehran and held diplomats hostage
Once again, evidence suggests this perspective was wrong. The Iranian command became more aggressive than before and for the first time since the establishment of the Islamic Republic, it dared expand its military activity outside its borders. It participates in four wars outside Iran and funds them. All this happened thanks to the nuclear deal which opened the doors of relations, trade and activity to it and kept silent over Iran’s threats to the region’s countries. Trump’s extremist rhetoric is the outcome of the disappointment in Washington due to Iran’s actions after signing the nuclear deal. Things will get worse unless there is a strict international position against Iran’s adventures and unless Iran is forced to end the chaos which it funds in the region and the world. Those who know how the Iranian regime works cannot believe the excuses being made by Iran’s friends and which stipulate that being lenient with Iran can lead to positive things. The nature of the regime in Tehran is religious and it has a revolutionary ideology. It has a political agenda that has not changed much since it attacked the American embassy in Tehran and held diplomats hostage. The same logic leads us to conclude that Iran will dominate through using power via its proxies and militias across the region and through encouraging and supporting the rebellious behavior of certain local parties in neighboring countries. Iran has not changed much since it announced it plans to export revolutions to the world. The only change that happened is that its financial and military situations improved a lot thanks to the nuclear deal it signed with the West.
**This article was first published in Asharq Al-Awsat on February 09 2017.
Tenet medal’ for Saudi Arabia, the conqueror of terrorism
Turki Aldakhil/Al Arabiya/February 13/17
Is it so difficult to understand why Saudis were not banned from entering the United States? Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz al-Saud recently received a medal, named after George Tenet from the CIA, for his anti-terrorism efforts. This award ends all the confusion and clarifies the situation as Saudi Arabia is one of the superpowers’ most important partners in the war against terrorism. Saudi Arabia has provided accurate intelligence information and saved developed countries like Britain and the US from terrorist operations. I’ve mentioned some examples of this in my previous article.
Saudi government does not shield any terrorist, unlike other countries which harbored al-Qaeda commanders for years and facilitated the September 11 attacks, such as Iran whose citizens are banned from entering the US
The fiercest attacks
Honoring of the crown prince is a testimony to the fact that Saudi Arabia has led the fiercest attacks on terrorist organizations in the region. It drove al-Qaeda to Yemen, outside its borders. Moreover, despite the group’s recent attempts to expand in Saudi Arabia, beginning from Abyan and neighboring areas, the coalition forces, working to restore legitimate government in Yemen, continue to attack the commanders of the organization and target the group and the Houthi militias. Therefore, it is normal for Saudis to be welcomed and allowed in other countries as the Saudi government does not shield any terrorist, unlike other countries which harbored al-Qaeda commanders for years and facilitated the September 11 attacks, such as Iran whose citizens are banned from entering the US.
**This article was first published in Okaz on February 12, 2017.
Who pays the price for Iran’s intransigence?
Ahmed Ayash/Al Arabiya/February 13/17
Iran resorting to the “Death to America” slogan again – in what is considered by Fars news agency as rebuttal to the US threat of a “military attack” – demonstrates sign of things to come in the region. This will be a sea change from the US cozying up to Tehran following the nuclear deal agreement reached with former President Barack Obama. Even Iranian President Rowhani, who is regarded as a reformist, affirmed in a speech marking the 38th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, that any nation threatening Iran would come to “regret” doing so.
Undoubtedly, the region is becoming more dangerous at a political level with prospects of the same turning confrontational. It is worth noting that the Iran’s is the only regime – regionally and globally – that has resorted to harsh rhetoric against Washington unlike other regimes which have been lashed by the Trump administration such as China and North Korea. Even Syrian president Bashar al Assad has refrained from mentioning the challenges ahead of his Iranian ally. During an interview with Yahoo News he stressed that any conflict around the globe needs US-Russia rapprochement, which is intrinsic not just for Syria. Iran’s is the only regime – regionally and globally – that has resorted to harsh rhetoric against Washington unlike other regimes which have been lashed by the Trump administration such as China and North Korea
The Economist magazine portrayed a gloomy prospect of Trump administration seeking “grand bargain” with Vladimir Putin, which includes among other things Moscow’s approval to not cooperate with Tehran. However, the magazine casts doubt on Putin’s response with regard to this demand.
The region is certainly passing through a difficult phase as illustrated by Iran’s foreign minister. The so-called Shiite intellectuals league in Lebanon believe that the followers of their sect inhabiting the “crescent” stretching from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean, whether they agree with the Iranian regime or not, are within the radius of paying the price. During a meeting with a group of Shiite “elites” there were cautionary notes related to the involvement of Shiites of Lebanon as a result of the Iranian regime involving Hezbollah in the Syrian conflict, which has necessitated a counter movement.
What if these developments lead to a confrontation in which the Iranian regime is defeated? Considering this scenario, there are those who believe that the Middle East will change immeasurably. Changes will not instantly benefit opponents of this regime, who are collectively being classified as the followers of the Supreme Leader, as long as his tone continues to be loud. It is hence their responsibility to calm the turbulence.
*This article is also available in Arabic.
Heightened tensions between Iran’s supreme leader and the US
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/February 14/17
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the senior cadre of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) undoubtedly knew that US President Donald Trump was not going to be the same as his predecessor Barack Obama regarding Iran and the Middle East.
Trump made his policy on Iran crystal clear throughout his election campaign, when he repeatedly argued for a tougher position against Tehran and its military adventurism. The policies of Trump and his advisers also highlighted the administration’s desire to restore and strengthen relationships with traditional US allies in the Middle East.
This raises the million-dollar question: Even though Iranian leaders knew it would be extremely provocative to the US and the Trump administration to test-fire a ballistic missile, why did they go through with it, thereby igniting a new era of increased tensions?
The first reason is inspired by the desire of Iranian leaders, particularly the hard-liners — who have the final say in foreign and domestic policies — to restore their level of hostility with the US. Bilateral relations were getting much closer than Khamenei and IRGC leaders were comfortable with.
It is worth noting that he previously gave the green light to the moderates (including President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif) to begin a partial rapprochement with the US to ease the UN Security Council’s (UNSC) four rounds of economic sanctions.
Since the ruling clerics’ hold on power was in danger, Iran’s international legitimacy and revenues needed a boost, which could be facilitated by investing in trade and re-joining the global financial system.
After the sanctions were lifted and Iran secured many business deals with Asian and European nations, Khamenei has now made a tactical shift to restore his hostility with the US and maintain the classic image he and his social base have portrayed of it as the “Great Satan.” In other words, Khamenei and the IRGC needed sanctions relief, but they also wanted to keep the US as their enemy.
By escalating tensions, Khamenei is using the opportunity to preserve his parochial and political interests, as well as increase his legitimacy, by shoring up his hard-line power base. He sees the tensions as a partial political victory; he recently told a group of military commanders: “We are thankful to (Trump) for making our life easy as he showed the real face of America.”
Khamenei is also buttressing the argument Tehran has been making for over 30 years, that the US is Iran’s foremost enemy and no one should trust it. In addition, by blaming the US he is projecting the idea that he has been vindicated. From his perspective, maintaining hostility with it preserves a core pillar of his policy and ensures his hold on power.
The second reason behind Iran’s provocation is that its leaders are trying to examine Trump’s boundaries. First, Tehran test-fired a ballistic missile, raising concerns about its compliance with UNSC Resolution 2231, which “calls upon Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”
When the Trump administration assumed office, Iranian leaders had a priceless opportunity to turn over a new leaf and demonstrate they are willing to be respectful and constructive members of the international community.
Iran carried out the test despite being previously warned by the US, the UNSC and other powers that it should refrain from engaging in activities linked to its ballistic missile program.
After the Trump administration imposed limited sanctions on some individuals and companies linked to Iran’s ballistic program, Tehran pushed the boundaries more. It held a military exercise that included test-firing missiles, utilizing radar systems, command-and-control centers and cyber-warfare systems.
Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the IRGC’s aerospace division, said: “If we see the smallest misstep from the enemies, our roaring missiles will fall on their heads.” Gen. Hossein Dehghan was quoted by the semi-official Tasnim news agency as saying: “The recent missile test is in line with our plans.” On Wednesday, Iran launched another missile.
The third reason behind Iran’s choices is about projecting regional power. A fourth reason is to send a strong message to state and non-state actors, as well as to Iranians, that it will not moderate its behavior or alter the core pillars of its revolutionary and foreign policies.
When the Trump administration assumed office, Iranian leaders had a priceless opportunity to turn over a new leaf and demonstrate they are willing to be respectful and constructive members of the international community, and are ready to resolve regional conflicts. In other words, by acting rationally and avoiding tensions from the outset, Iran had a great opportunity to influence and shape Trump administration policy.
However, Iran decided to return to what it feels comfortable with: Hostility with the US. What Iranian leaders have not yet recognized, but should be cautious about, is that the Trump administration might not be a classic US administration with which they are familiar.
• Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council. He serves on the boards of the Harvard International Review, the Harvard International Relations Council and the US-Middle East Chamber for Commerce and Business. He can be reached on Twitter @Dr_Rafizadeh.
Trump’s lifeline to oil producers?
Dr. Mohamed A. Ramady/Al Arabiya/February 13/17
While President Trump seems to be making the headlines for the wrong reasons concerning rather blunt speaking telephone calls with foreign heads of state and the shambolic introduction of his US entry executive orders on some Muslim countries, in contrast oil producers seem to have found a new found friend who has thrown them a lifeline. Oil producers had been coming under increased pressure over the past decade from global environmentalists and climate change advocates who have vigorously campaigned for a reduction in fossil fuel consumption and renewed emphasis for renewable and clean energy sources. Trump’s victory, with his belief that climate change proponents have been exaggerating the degree of harm to the environment, and has even called climate change a hoax, coupled with his election promises to push harder for domestic US oil and coal production has seemingly changed the energy equation, at least for the next four years of his administration.
Mixed energy portfolio
Now no less than Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khaled al-Falih has announced that US president Donald Trump’s policies would be good for the oil industry, as according to the minister, Trump has steered away from excessively anti-fossil fuel’s unrealistic policies and that he wants a mixed energy portfolio that includes oil, gas and renewables. The American president has followed up on his rhetoric by appointing unapologetic climate change skeptics in key administration positions such as Scott Pruitt as head of the Environment Protection Agency, as well as other climate change skeptics like David Schnare, Chris Horner and William Happer. Despite Trump’s seeming lifeline to Gulf oil producers, the major fossil producers know that this lifeline is short term as the environmental bandwagon and scientific evidence points toward an eventual reduction in fossil fuel consumption
According to reports, in 2015, the environmental group Greenpeace UK announced that it had caught Happer in a sting operation. Greenpeace officials, posing as representatives of an unnamed Middle Eastern oil company, offered Happer money to write a report on the benefits of increasing atmospheric levels of CO2 while keeping the funding source a secret. Happer agreed, but maintains that he did nothing wrong. He says that he told the ‘oil company’ officials that any payments should be sent to the CO2 Coalition, a US non-profit organization that promotes “the important contribution made by carbon dioxide to our lives and the economy”.
The Paris Agreement
The seemingly unabashed new Trump embrace for fossil fuel will put into question the USA’s commitment to the December 2016 Paris Climate Change Conference which ended in much fanfare to try and enforce stricter national compliance in reducing global emissions, with fossil and coal being the primary targets. This was much to the annoyance, but grudging acceptance of major oil producers who have pointed out that they either need to be compensated for future loss of oil revenues, which was discounted by consumer nations, or try to diversify their oil-based economies. The result has been a plethora of Visions and Missions all over the Gulf countries to do exactly that, and hope that the private sector will take up the challenge of being the future engine of non-oil growth. By contrast, the European Union as a whole has set a target of an 80-95 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Among EU nations, Sweden, Britain, Denmark and Finland have also passed climate laws meant to make long-term policies less easily overturned and to give more certainty to investors, especially those embarking on long term and costly renewable energy programs.
These countries and others want to set an example at a time when climate sceptics are seemingly gaining power in the world again. Despite US skepticism, at least from Trump appointees, they feel encouraged by pledges by China and India, the world’s other large emission countries to fulfil their commitments to the Paris Agreement. So will the Paris Agreement get anywhere? On the one hand, it doesn’t oblige any government to cut their greenhouse gases. But on the other, each country’s efforts will be scrutinized every five years. And although the agreement has no teeth, it does represent something unique: the first time that every nation on the planet has signed up to try to head off the worst effects of global warming.
Potential game changer?
China in particular, is investing billions in solar that could be a potential game changer, and put at risk those that still want to invest in fossil fuels and ultimately be the losers. Despite Trump’s seeming lifeline to Gulf oil producers, the major fossil producers know that this lifeline is short term as the environmental bandwagon and scientific evidence points toward an eventual reduction in fossil fuel consumption. They too have been embracing a future that encompasses renewal, especially solar energy, and are planning significant investment in the sector. In this respect, Minister Falih is also right by hedging his long-term bets on a mixture of energy portfolio too, given that in the short term the new Trump energy policies might increase US oil production and reduce dependency on oil imports from the Gulf countries. Oil producers like Saudi Arabia have seemingly welcomed additional US oil production if this helps to meet increased global demand. This is a big “if” in face of global uncertainties on renegotiated trade agreements and protectionist economic policies.
Islamic Terror and the U.S. Temporary Stay on Immigration
Uzay Bulut/Gatestone Institute/February 13/17
It is short-sighted and reckless to blame President Trump for trying to protect his country and keep his country safe -- as any good leader is supposed to do. It would be much wiser to direct our anger where it belongs -- at Muslim extremists and Muslim terrorists.
To many people, it must be easier to go after the U.S. president than after ISIS terrorists. That way, critics of the president can also pose as "heroes" while ignoring the real threats to all of humanity.
Critics of Muslim extremists get numerous death threats from some people in the West because they courageously oppose the grave human rights violations -- forced marriages, honor killings, child rape, murdering homosexuals and female genital mutilation (FGM), among others.
Why do we even call criticism of such horrific practices "courageous"? It should have been the most normal and ordinary act to criticize beheadings, mutilations and other crimes committed by radical Muslims. But it is not.
On the contrary, the temporary ban aims to protect genuine refugees such as Bennetta Bet-Badal, who was murdered in San Bernardino. It would be much wiser to direct our anger where it belongs -- at Muslim extremists and Muslim terrorists.
In San Bernardino on December 2, 2015, 14 people were murdered and 22 others seriously wounded in a terrorist attack. The perpetrators were Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, a married couple. Farook was an American-born U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent, who worked as a health department employee. Malik was a Pakistani-born lawful permanent resident of the United States.
Among the victims of the terror attack was Bennetta Bet-Badal, an Assyrian Christian woman born in Iran in 1969. She fled to the U.S. at age 18 to escape Islamic extremism and the persecution of Christians that followed the Iranian revolution.
"This attack," stated the Near East Center for Strategic Engagement (NEC-SE), "showcases how Assyrians fled tyranny, oppression, and persecution for freedom and liberty, only to live in a country that is also beginning to be subject to an ever-increasing threat by the same forms of oppressors."
"NEC-SE would like to take this opportunity to once again urge action to directly arming the Assyrians and Yezidis and other minorities in their indigenous homeland, so that they can defend themselves against terrorism and oppression. This tragedy is evidence that the only way to effectively counter terrorism is not solely here in the US, but abroad and at its root."
In 2014, Syrian-born Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the official spokesperson and a senior leader of the Islamic State, declared that supporters of the Islamic State from all over the world should attack citizens of Western states, including the US, France and UK:
"If you can kill a disbelieving American or European – especially the spiteful and filthy French – or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way, however it may be.
"Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison him."
It is this barbarity that the new U.S. administration is trying to stop.
FBI Director James Comey also warned in July of last year that hundreds of terrorists will fan out to infiltrate western Europe and the U.S. to carry out attacks on a wider scale, as Islamic State is defeated in Syria. "At some point there's going to be a terrorist diaspora out of Syria like we've never seen before. We saw the future of this threat in Brussels and Paris," said Comey, adding that future attacks will be on "an order of magnitude greater."
How many ISIS operatives are there in the U.S.? Are ISIS sleeper cells likely in American cities? The people who are trying to create hysteria over the new steps taken by the Trump Administration should focus on investigating these issues more broadly, but they do not. To them, it must be easier to go after the U.S. president than after ISIS terrorists. This way, they can also pose as "heroes" while ignoring the real threat to all of humanity.
It is not only Islamic terrorists that pose a threat. It is also the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, the font of all the modern extremist Muslim ideologies.
The crimes committed by radical Muslims are beyond horrific, but it is getting harder to expose and criticize them. Many critics of Islam in Western countries -- including those of Muslim origin -- have received countless death deaths and have been exposed to various forms of intimidation.
Some were murdered, such as the Dutch film director, Theo van Gogh. His "crime" was to produce the short film Submission (2004) about the treatment of women under Islam. He was assassinated the same year by Mohammed Bouyeri, a Moroccan-Dutch Muslim.
In 2004, Moroccan-Dutch terrorist Mohammed Bouyeri (left), shot the filmmaker Theo van Gogh (right) to death, then stabbed him and slit his throat.
Some have had to go into hiding. American cartoonist Molly Norris, who promoted an "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day", had to go into hiding in 2010 after her life was threatened by Islamic extremists. She also changed her name and stopped producing work for the Seattle Weekly, the New York Times reported.
Who are these people hiding from? From the most radical and devoted followers of the "religion of peace".
Why should people living in free Western countries be forced to live in fear because they rightfully criticize a destructive and murderous ideology?
They get numerous death threats from some people in the West because they courageously oppose grave human rights violations -- forced marriages, honor killings, child rape, murdering homosexuals and female genital mutilation (FGM), among others.
Why do we even call criticism of such horrific practices "courageous"? It should have been the most normal and ordinary act to criticize beheadings, mutilations and other crimes committed by radical Muslims. But it is not. It does require tremendous courage to criticize these acts committed in the name of a religion. For everybody knows that the critics of Islam are risking their lives and security.
In the meantime, "an Islamic State follower posted a message on the Telegram app that said President Trump was wasting his time by blocking refugees from Syria," reported the journalist Rowan Scarborough.
"'Trump is preventing the entrance of the citizens of [seven] countries to protect America from terrorism,' said the message captured by the Middle East Media Research Institute. "Your decision will not do anything to prevent the attacks; They will come from inside America, from Americans born in America, whose fathers were born in America and whose grandparents were born in America."
President Trump's executive order is not a ban on Muslims. Individuals of all religious backgrounds of these seven countries have been affected. Nor is it a ban on refugees. On the contrary, the ban aims to protect genuine refugees such as Bennetta Bet-Badal, who was murdered in San Bernardino.
It is short-sighted and reckless to blame President Trump for trying to protect his country and keep it safe -- as any good leader is supposed to do. It would be much wiser to direct our anger where it belongs -- at Muslim extremists and Muslim terrorists.
*Uzay Bulut, a journalist born and raised a Muslim in Turkey, is currently based in Washington D.C.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.
Trump welcomes Netanyahu
Alan M. Dershowitz/Gatestone Institute/February 13/17
Israel's long time Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will soon be welcomed to the White House by newly elected President Donald Trump. What can we expect from this initial meeting between two strong willed national leaders?
I know them both-- Netanyahu better than Trump-- and I believe they will get along well. They are both no nonsense pragmatists who understand the relationship between economic development and political progress. We all know of Trumps business background and focus on jobs and trade. Less well known is Netanyahu's business background. Like trump, Netanyahu went to business school and began his career as a business man, working for Boston Consulting Group. When he entered politics, he helped transform Israel from an agrarian based economy into "start-up nation," which has become a technological superpower with a strong economy. He is the Alexander Hamilton of Israel, to David Ben Gurion's Jefferson. Trump has to admire that.
Trump will also admire Netanyahu's strong nationalism and love of country. He has made Israel great, militarily, technologically and economically. He may soon become Israel's longest serving Prime Minister, surpassing the legendary Ben Gurion.
Each leader would like to be the one who succeeds in bringing a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. So many others – people of good will and considerable effort – have been unable to achieve this goal. There is no certainty that Trump and Netanyahu can succeed when so many others have come close but have never been able to close the deal. Both are respected for their deal-making capabilities – Trump in business, Netanyahu in domestic politics.
But there are considerable barriers to achieving a peaceful resolution. Netanyahu and his Palestinian counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas, each have domestic constituencies that would oppose the compromise necessary to achieve a two state solution. Some of Netanyahu's right wing coalition partners oppose a two state solution in which Israel would turn over most of the West Bank to establish a Palestinian state. And many West Bank Palestinians – not to mention Hamas in Gaza – oppose recognizing the legitimacy of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. They also demand the "return" of four million Palestinian refugees to Israel, despite the reality that there are probably only a hundred thousand or so actual refugees who themselves left Israel in 1948, many voluntarily.
It must be remembered that Israel has twice in recent times offered the Palestinians a State on 95 percent of the West Bank. In 2000-2001 then Prime Minister Ehud Barak and then President Bill Clinton made a generous offer. Yasser Arafat, who was being advised by Jimmy Carter, rejected it and started a violent Intifada in which more than 4000 people were killed. Then in 2008, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made an even more generous offer, to which Mahmoud Abbas did not respond. And in 2005, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon unilaterally ended the military occupation and settlements in the
Gaza strip only to be greeted with thousands of rocket attacks and terror tunnels from Hamas.
Much has changed since these Israeli offers and actions. The current Israel government is not likely to offer more than what was rejected by the Palestinians. So the pressure must now be placed on the Palestinian leadership to make good faith counter offers. That pressure can only come from the United States. This is so because the rest of the International community – the United Nations, the European Union, the Courts in the Hague, the BDS Movement – all disincentivise the Palestinians from making compromises by falsely telling them they can get a state without negotiating with Israel.
President Trump must make it crystal clear that unless the Palestinians negotiate a reasonable solution with Israel, they will never have a state. President Obama did not send that message with clarity, especially when he ordered his United Nations Representative to allow a one-sided anti-Israel Resolution to be passed by the Security Council.
President Trump must reassure Prime Minister Netanyahu that he will apply pressure – perhaps through our Sunni allies – on the Palestinian authority, and not only on Israel, as the Obama Administration did. History shows that American administrations that really have Israel's back – not to stab, but to support – are more likely to persuade Israel to offer compromises.
So I hope that Benjamin Netanyahu will emerge from the White House meeting with the confidence in American support to stand up to those in his cabinet who oppose the two state solution and who want to expand settlement activity. And I hope the Palestinian leadership will understand that they have no option other than to accept the Netanyahu offer to negotiate anywhere, anytime, and with no preconditions. Perhaps then we will finally see a reasonable resolution to the age-old conflict.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.
Germany's Migrant Rape Crisis: January 2017
Tolerating a "rape culture" to sustain a politically correct stance on mass migration
Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/February 13/17
"Whoever behaves in his host country as the reports suggest has not only lost any claim to our hospitality but also their right to asylum!" — Mayoral candidate Volker Stein, Frankfurt.
The actual number of migrant-related sex crimes in Germany is at least two or three times higher than the official number. Only 10% of the sex crimes committed in Germany appear in the official statistics. — André Schulz, head of the Criminal Police Association.
An even more toxic practice is for police deliberately to omit any references to migrants in crime reports. This lapse makes it impossible for German citizens to understand the true scale of the migrant crime problem.
City police asked German media to delete any images of the suspect. A note for editors stated: "The legal basis for publishing the surveillance photos has been dispensed with. We strongly urge you to take this into account in future reporting and to remove and/or make changes to existing publications."
"As a refugee, it is difficult to find a girlfriend." — Asif M., a 26-year-old asylum seeker from Pakistan, in court on charges he raped one woman and attempted to rape five others.
German authorities are investigating reports that dozens of Arab men sexually assaulted female patrons at bars and restaurants in downtown Frankfurt on New Year's Eve 2016.
The attacks, in which mobs of migrants harassed women in a "rape game" known as "taharrush gamea" (Arabic for "collective sexual harassment"), are said to have mirrored the mass sexual assaults of women in Cologne and other German cities on New Year's Eve 2015.
A report published by Bild on February 5 alleged that some 900 migrants, many of whom were intoxicated, gathered at the central train station in Frankfurt on December 31, 2016. Police blocked their access to the Mainufer, a downtown pedestrian area along the Main River and the site of a large New Year's celebration, so the migrants walked to the Fressgasse, another downtown pedestrian zone known for its restaurants and bars.
Witnesses said that groups of up to 50 migrants of "Arab or North African" appearance entered several establishments and began sexually assaulting female patrons. They also stole handbags and jackets, threw bottles and firecrackers, and, for good measure, finished their victims' drinks.
Frankfurt Police insist they did not know about the incidents until Bild, the newspaper with the largest circulation in Germany, reported on them. It remains unclear why the victims waited more than a month before coming forward with their complaints. A police spokesperson said the claims are "worrying" and "cannot be excluded."
Some say the incidents in Frankfurt harken back to those in Cologne, where police covered up the sexual assaults for several days, apparently to avoid fueling anti-immigration sentiments, until local media reported on them. Others question why no cellphone videos or photographs surfaced on social media to corroborate the claims.
Previously, the police in Frankfurt reported only one assault on New Year's Eve: a 30-year-old migrant from Afghanistan attacked a 25-year-old woman at the Mainufer.
Frankfurt's Mayor, Peter Feldmann, said: "There is zero tolerance for any abuses. I have great confidence in our police. They should always be contacted immediately. Only then can they do their work."
Christoph Schmitt, security spokesman for the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said: "It is unacceptable that women have been treated this way. If mobs of male refugees are making the city unsafe, then we need more police on the streets and more video surveillance."
Mayoral candidate Volker Stein said: "While we had high contingent of police at the Main River, the rest of the city was left to the rampaging hooligans. Whoever behaves in his host country as the reports suggest has not only lost any claim to our hospitality, but also their right to asylum!"
Other German cities also reported sexual assaults on New Year's Eve 2016, despite an increased police presence and crowds that were far smaller than on New Year's Eve 2015.
In Berlin, at least 22 women were sexually assaulted during New Year's Eve celebrations at the Brandenburg Gate, despite the presence of 1,700 police officers. Police initially reported six assaults, but raised that number after an inquiry from the Berlin-based Tagesspiegel.
In Hamburg, at least 14 women were sexually assaulted on New Year's Eve, despite the presence of more than 500 police officers, and crowds that were said to be half the size of those in 2015.
In Cologne, some 2,000 male migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East gathered at the central train station and the square in front of the iconic Cologne Cathedral, where the mass sexual assaults occurred in 2015. A heavy police presence appears to have served as a deterrent. Police reported three sexual assaults.
In Dortmund, Essen and Hanover, thousands of mostly North African migrants clashed with police. There were no reports of mass sexual assaults.
Police reports show that Germany's migrant rape crisis continues unabated, although accurate statistics are notoriously non-existent, this in one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world. German authorities have repeatedly been accused of underreporting the true scale of the migrant crime problem in the country.
According to Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundeskriminalamt, BKA) data (page 14), in 2013, migrants (Zuwanderer) committed 599 sex crimes, or an average of two a day. In 2014, migrants committed 949 sex crimes, or around three per day. In 2015, migrants committed 1,683 sex crimes, or around five per day. During the first three quarters of 2016, migrants committed 2,790 sex crimes, or around ten per day.
In fact, the actual number of migrant-related sex crimes in Germany is at least two or three times higher than the official number. For example, only 10% of the sex crimes committed in Germany appear in the official statistics, according to André Schulz, head of the Criminal Police Association (Bund Deutscher Kriminalbeamter, BDK).
In addition, the BKA data includes only crimes that have been solved (aufgeklärten Straftaten). According to police statistics, on average only around half of all crimes committed in Germany in any given year are solved (Aufklärungsquote).
Moreover, BKA crime statistics do not include data from North Rhine-Westphalia, the most populous state in Germany and the one with the largest number of migrants, or from Hamburg, the second-largest city in the country.
German police also deliberately downplay the true scale of the migrant crime problem by referring to migrant criminals with politically correct euphemisms such as "southerners" (Südländer), men with "dark skin" (dunkelhäutig, dunklere Gesichtsfarbe, dunklem Hauttyp) or a combination of the two: "southern skin color" (südländische Hautfarbe).
An even more toxic practice is for police deliberately to omit any references to migrants in crime reports. This lapse makes it impossible for German citizens to understand the true scale of the migrant crime problem.
A German nurse, for instance, was sexually assaulted by a mob of migrants in Hamburg on January 7, 2017. The official Hamburg police report, dated January 8, reads as follows:
"Robbery in Hamburg-St. George, witnesses wanted!
"A 28-year-old was attacked and robbed in a park by several men last night. The injured party heard calls for aid from the Lohmühlenpark. As she went to the park to help, she was attacked by several men, fell to the ground and lost consciousness. After the victim regained consciousness, she alerted her rescuers. Apparently the victim was robbed. Since there were also indications of a sexual offense, the LKA 42 (Office of Criminal Investigation) took over further investigations.
"Witnesses who observed the attack or are able to provide information on the perpetrators are kindly asked to call the telephone number 040 / 4286- 56789.
"The interrogation of the injured party is still pending. The investigations continue. Further information cannot be given at present."
That day, Bild reported a completely different version of the same crime:
"Sex Attack on Nurse: A disgraceful crime.
"In the evening a woman is lured into the Lohmühlenpark by means of calls for help. Then several men ambush her. They strike their victim unconscious, and apparently also sexually assault her!
"It is about 9:45 pm, when the 28-year-old is going to her car. According to BILD information, she is a nurse at the Asklepios-Klinik St. Georg. She had parked her vehicle in the parking lot there.
"When she heard the screams from the adjacent park, she immediately hurried in that direction. In the park, she was attacked by five black Africans (ages 20 to 30). A giant man (over 180 cm) is said to have worn a green garment. He had bright spots on both cheeks. Then she lost consciousness.
"When she regained consciousness, she dialed emergency 112. Firemen found her, parts of her clothes were torn from her body. Her attackers did not speak German.
"The perpetrators also robbed the young woman. The police are asking witnesses to call 428 65 67 89."
Germany's sclerotic justice system, stymied by concerns over privacy, exacerbates the problem by imposing seemingly interminable delays in bringing perpetrators to justice. The following cases are just from January 2017:
January 2. Police in Dresden published a composite image of a "southerner" (Südländer) who exposed himself to an 11-year-old boy on August 31, 2016. Police did not say why it took them more than four months to release the image to the public.
January 12. Police in Duisburg published a photo of a man who assaulted a 40-year-old woman at the central train station on October 7, 2016. Police did not say why it took them more than three months to release the image to the public.
January 17. Police in Essen published a photo of a man who sexually assaulted a 30-year-old woman in an underground metro station on August 12, 2016. Police did not say why it took them more than four months to release the image to the public. The perpetrator was arrested on January 18, one day after the photograph was made public. This raised the question of whether the perpetrator could have been apprehended much sooner.
January 21. Police in Neubrandenburg announced that they would begin collecting saliva samples from 469 migrants from ten different countries. Police are looking for a 20 to 40-year-old "southern-looking" man (südländisch aussehen) who attempted to rape a 35-year-old woman in October 2016.
January 26. A 22-year-old migrant from Tunisia turned himself in after police in Karlsruhe published a surveillance camera image of the man, who is suspected of sexually assaulting five women in the city. City police urged German media to delete any images of the suspect. A note for editors stated: "The legal basis for publishing the surveillance photo has been dispensed with. We strongly urge you to take this into account in future reporting and to remove and/or make changes to existing publications." The photo remains online.
The apparent apathy by the German government and the public regarding the migrant rape crisis engulfing the country has prompted some commentators to question whether German society is tolerating a rape culture (Vergewaltigungskultur) in order to sustain a politically correct stance on mass migration.
Sexual Assaults and Rapes by Migrants in Germany, January 2017
January 1. A 23-year-old migrant from Iraq sexually assaulted a 30-year-old woman in Glücksburg. A 24-year-old asylum seeker from Pakistan sexually assaulted a 46-year-old woman in Regensburg. A 31-year-old migrant from Iraq exposed himself to women in Augsburg. Three migrants from Afghanistan sexually assaulted two women in Augsburg. Two migrants from Afghanistan sexually assaulted a 22-year-old woman in Neumarkt. A 19-year-old migrant from Gambia assaulted a 25-year-old woman in Ulm. A "North African" migrant exposed himself to a 29-year-old woman in Ulm.
January 1. A "foreign-looking" taxi driver (ausländisches Erscheinungsbild) sexually assaulted a 34-year-old woman in Wiesbaden. A man with an "Eastern European accent" (osteuropäischer Akzent) sexually assaulted a 49-year-old woman in Coesfeld. A "southern European-looking" man sexually assaulted a 42-year-old woman in Hanover. A "dark-skinned" man (dunkle Hautfarbe) sexually assaulted a 19-year-old woman in Trier. A "dark-skinned" man (dunkelhäutig) assaulted a 24-year-old female jogger in Bergkamen.
January 2. An "Arabic-looking" man (arabischem Aussehen) accosted three girls aged between 10 and 13 in Rottenburg. A "brown-skinned" man (braunen Hautteint) speaking broken German sexually assaulted a 14-year-old boy in Seckach. Three "southerners" (Südländer) assaulted three girls, ages 14 and 15, in downtown Chemnitz. A man of "Arab origin" (Mann arabischer Herkunft) sexually assaulted an eight-year-old girl at a movie theater in Leipzig. He remains at large.
January 2. Three "southern-looking" men (südländisches Erscheinungsbild) sexually assaulted a 29-year-old woman in Taunusstein.
January 3. A "southern European-looking" man (südosteuropäisches Aussehen) sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl on a train near Wesel.
January 4. An "Asian-looking" man (asiatisches Aussehen) exposed himself to two women at a bus stop in Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt.
January 5. Two migrants (ages 18 and 19) from Libya were arrested for raping a 22-year-old woman in Neumarkt in der Oberpfalz. A "southern-looking" man (südländisches Aussehen) exposed himself to a 15-year-old girl who was riding her bicycle in Kranenburg.
January 6. A 13-year-old migrant from Syria sexually assaulted two girls at a school in Schwerin. Two "southern-looking" men (südländisch Aussehen) sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl in Linden. The girl was riding a city bus. When she got off at her stop, the two men also got off the bus. She began running but the men caught up with her and attacked her.
January 7. A group of five "Black Africans" (Schwarzafrikanern) sexually assaulted a 28-year-old woman in Hamburg. The woman, a nurse at the Asklepios-Klinik St. Georg, was walking to her car after her shift ended when she heard someone screaming for help in an adjacent park. When she went to help she was ambushed by the men and assaulted and robbed.
January 7. A 27-year-old migrant from Afghanistan sexually assaulted a 14-year-girl at a public swimming pool in Düsseldorf-Flingern. Two migrants (ages 21 and 39) from Libya sexually assaulted three girls, ages 13 and 14, at the train station in Niederwiesa. A "dark-skinned" man (dunklerer Teint) sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl in Oberhausen.
January 8. A 23-year-old migrant from Syria attempted to rape a 23-year-old woman in Kleve. The woman phoned her father for help after she sensed she was being followed while walking home. The father got on his scooter and was able to rescue his daughter just as the Syrian was dragging her into the bushes.
January 8. A 20-year-old migrant from Afghanistan sexually assaulted a 19-year-old woman on a street car in Leipzig. A 21-year-old migrant from Iraq sexually assaulted a 24-year-old woman in the restroom of a discotheque in Bad Segeberg. A "North African-looking" man sexually assaulted a 22-year-old woman in downtown Stuttgart. A "Turkish or North African" man (türkischer oder nordafrikanischer Herkunft) exposed himself to a woman at the train station in Mainz-Kastel. A "dark-skinned" man (dunkler Hautfarbe) sexually assaulted a young woman in Bern (Switzerland).
January 9. Four "Arab-looking" men (arabisch aussehend) sexually assaulted a 25-year-old woman at a bus stop in Weiterstadt. Three "southern-looking" men (südländisch aussehende) attempted to rape a 16-year-old girl in Gelsenkirchen. They fled after a passerby intervened to help the girl.
January 10. A man speaking broken German exposed himself to a woman in the parking lot of a train station in Ludwigsburg.
January 11. A "dark-skinned" man (dunkelhäutigen Mann) sexually assaulted a 22-year-old woman in Lüneburg. A "North African" man sexually assaulted a 30-year-old woman on a train on a train between Gelnhausen and Fulda. A 42-year-old migrant from Libya exposed himself to several women in Schneeberg. A man speaking a foreign language sexually assaulted a 21-year-old woman in Salzgitter. A man speaking German with an accent sexually assaulted a 34-year-old woman in Michelbach. A migrant from Bulgaria sexually assaulted two teenage girls at the train station in Meschede. A man speaking broken German sexually assaulted a woman who was shopping at a supermarket with her young daughter in Aachen.
January 12. A 34-year-old migrant from Algeria sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl at the central train station in Wolfsburg. The perpetrator was arrested after he returned to the same time location the following day. A "dark-skinned" man (dunkelhäutiger Mann) sexually assaulted a 17-year-old woman at the train station Crailsheim. A "dark-skinned" man (dunklere Hautfarbe) sexually assaulted a 45-year-old woman in Düsseldorf. An "Arab-looking" man exposed himself to a woman at a public park in Schwabach.
January 13. A "southern- or Arab-looking" man (südländisches oder arabisches Aussehen) sexually assaulted a 17-year-old girl at a train station in Freiburg. A "southern-looking" man (südländisch) exposed himself to two women in Alzey. A 39-year-old migrant from Russia sexually assaulted two women at a subway station in Munich. A man speaking German with a foreign accent assaulted a 27-year-old woman at knifepoint in Raunheim.
January 14. A "southern-looking" man (südländisch aussehende Mann) attempted to rape a 23-year-old woman in Karlsruhe-Bulach. Four "southern-looking" men (südländischen Aussehens) tried to assault a young woman in Gießen. A Moroccan migrant was arrested for sexual assault in Speyer. A "southern-looking" man (südländisches Aussehen) sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl in Kamp-Lintfort. An "Oriental-looking" man (orientalisches Erscheinungsbild) exposed himself to a 68-year-old woman on a bicycle path in Lindenholzhausen. A 21-year-old migrant from Somalia sexually assaulted a 19-year-old woman on a train in Hanau.
January 15. A man with a "foreign, unknown dialect" (ausländischen, unbekannten Dialekt) sexually assaulted a woman near the city hall in Metelen. Five migrants from Syria (between 11 and 14 years old) sexually assaulted two girls, aged 12 and 13, at a public swimming pool in Bockum. Two "presumably African" men (mutmaßlichen Afrikaner) sexually assaulted two women near the central train station in Bielefeld. A "southern European" man (Südeuropäer) exposed himself to two women in Ulm.
January 16. A man calling himself Ahmed exposed himself to a woman at a bus station in Singen.
January 17. A "dark, nearly black-skinned" man (dunkle, fast schwarze Hautfarbe) sexually assaulted an 11-year-old girl on a street car in Magdeburg.
January 18. A 30-year-old asylum seeker raped a 31-year-old woman in Dortmund. Two "southern-looking" men (südländisches Aussehen) sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl in Rastatt. A "southern-looking" man (südländisches Aussehen) sexually assaulted a 17-year-old girl at a bus stop in Salzgitter. A 30-year-old asylum seeker raped a 31-year-old woman in Dortmund.
January 19. An "Eastern European-looking" man (osteuropäischem Aussehen) exposed himself to a 27-year-old woman on a train in Stuttgart. A man exposed himself to an 11-year-old girl on a bus in Stuttgart. An "English-speaking" man sexually assaulted a 17-year-old girl at the train station in Crailsheim.
January 21. Two men "speaking a foreign language" sexually assaulted two women in Osnabrück. The attackers fled after one of the women used pepper spray on them. A migrant physically assaulted an 18-year-old woman in Uelzen after she rejected his advances. A "southern-looking" man (südländisches Aussehen) sexually assaulted a 23-year-old woman after he followed her off a train in Karlsruhe. An "Arab-looking" man (arabischer Herkunft) assaulted a 27-year-old woman at the train station in Friedrichsdorf.
January 22. Two migrants from Algeria sexually assaulted two women in the female restroom of a bar in Schweinfurt. A "dark-skinned" man (dunkelhäutig) assaulted a 20-year-old woman at the central train station in Bochum after she rejected his advances.
January 23. A "dark-skinned" man (dunkleren Teint) exposed himself to a 13-year-old girl in Stuttgart-Heumaden. A "dark-skinned" man (dunkelhäutigen Mann) sexually assaulted two women in Minden.
January 24. A 44-year-old migrant from Syria was arrested on charges of sexually assaulting more than 20 women in Wetzlar. The man, who among other offenses repeatedly licked unsuspecting women in the face, justified his behavior as a custom from his Arab homeland to show women his affection.
January 24. A 26-year-old migrant from Somalia sexually assaulted several women in downtown Gießen. He also exposed himself to a nurse outside the city's Catholic Hospital. A "southern-looking" man (südländisch aussehen) sexually assaulted five women in Karlsruhe. A 14-year-old Turkish boy raped a 13-year-old boy and attempted to rape a 13-year-old girl in Herzogenburg (Austria).
January 25. A "southern-looking" man (südländischem Aussehen) exposed himself to a 51-year-old woman in Kamp-Lintfort.
January 26. A "dark-skinned" man (dunkelhäutig) assaulted a 46-year-old woman on a train in Stuttgart. After the woman asked the man to take his feet off the seat, he smashed her head against the window. A "southern-looking" man sexually assaulted a 17-year-old woman on a train in Öhringen. A group of 12 "dark-skinned" men (dunklen Teint) assaulted a 16-year-old girl in Gelsenkirchen.
January 27. A 25-year-old woman was raped in a female restroom at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. A "southerner" (südländischen Typs) sexually assaulted a 17-year-old girl in Chemnitz-Altendorf. A 27-year-old migrant from Pakistan exposed himself to an 18-year-old woman on a train between Gelsenkirchen and Essen. A migrant (südländischen Migrationshintergrund) exposed himself to a 77-year-old woman in Wangen.
January 28. Three "dark-skinned" men (dunkelhäutig) sexually assaulted a 19-year-old woman in Dortmund. Two "dark-skinned" men (dunkelhäutiger Männer) sexually assaulted two 12-year-old girls in Bietigheim-Bissingen. A man speaking a foreign language sexually assaulted a 24-year-old woman in Bonn. A 40-year-old migrant from Morocco sexually assaulted a 41-year-old woman on a train in Düsseldorf. A "southern-looking" man (südländische Erscheinung) sexually assaulted a 20-year-old woman in Hamburg.
January 29. A "southern-looking" man (südländischem Aussehen) sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl in Neubrandenburg. A 23-year-old migrant from Eritrea sexually assaulted several women on a train in Munich. A 36-year-old migrant from Gambia sexually assaulted several woman on a train near Freiburg. A man speaking Turkish sexually assaulted a 26-year-old woman on a train near Dormagen.
January 30. Süleyman D., a 25-year-old German of Turkish descent, was arrested for raping one woman and attempting to rape two more at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. A 24-year-old migrant from Armenia sexually assaulted two women on an express train between Hamburg and Kassel. A man speaking broken German exposed himself to three women in Offenbach.
January 31. A "dark-skinned" man (dunkelhäutigen) sexually assaulted a 28-year-old woman who was walking with her four-year-old child near the train station in Bad Krozingen.
Court Cases involving Migrants Accused of Sexual Crimes, January 2017
January 7. Asif M., a 26-year-old asylum seeker from Pakistan, appeared in court on charges he raped one woman and attempted to rape five others in Berlin-Steglitz. He insisted that he was the victim: "As a refugee, it is difficult to find a girlfriend."
January 11. Ralph Q., a 24-year-old asylum seeker from Ghana, was sentenced to three years and two months in prison for raping a 15-year-old girl in Duisburg-Neumühl.
January 18. A 27-year-old Kosovar was sentenced to one year and ten months of probation for sexually assaulting a 27-year-old woman in Freiburg. The man followed the woman into a restroom at a night club, told her that he was a narcotics detective, forced her to undress and then tried to rape her.
January 18. Ali M., a 34-year-old asylum seeker from Syria, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison for raping 15-year-old girl in Bonn-Bornheim. The man plied the girl with drugs and alcohol during at a party at his home. The girl passed out and after the other guests left the party he raped her. The man subsequently tried to bribe the girl into silence.
January 19. Qaisar S., a 38-year-old migrant from Pakistan, was sentenced to three years and ten months in prison for raping a 19-year-old woman in Zwickau. The court heard how the man, who has Hepatitis C, bit the woman on the lip in a deliberate effort to infect her with the virus.
January 20. The trial began of Abubaker C., a 27-year-old Pakistani man who strangled 70-year-old Maria Müller in her bed in Bad Friedrichshall, and then painted verses from the Koran on her bedroom walls. Prosecutors said the murder was religiously motivated: The Sunni Muslim murdered the woman because she was a devout Roman Catholic.
January 21. A 47-year-old asylum seeker from Syria was sentenced to one year and nine months in prison for raping a 44-year-old mentally disabled woman in Soest. The suspect, who has been living in an asylum shelter in Welver at German taxpayer expense since 2003, had 23 previous convictions for offenses including assault, robbery and fare evasion. A neurologist who has attended the Syrian during his 13-year stay in Germany told the court that the man is "untreatable" (Therapieunfähig). "When he is drunk, he is unpredictable," she said.
January 23. The trial began of Merwan B., a 29-year-old Tunisian who stabbed to death his 35-year-old ex-girlfriend, Julia B., and their unborn baby. Prosecutors said the couple split after the man refused to take responsibility for the child, but that he later changed his mind after learning that the child would boost his prospects for permanent residency. The woman refused to get back together with him. The prosecutor said: "He did not want to accept this separation. He wanted to kill Julia B. because he could not accept that she would be living in Germany with his child after he was deported."
January 23. The trial began of Kashif M., a 32-year-old Pakistani man charged with raping two women, ages 22 and 52, in Chemnitz.
January 24. A 21-year-old migrant from Gambia was sentenced to five years in juvenile detention for raping two women in Freiburg and Bad Krozingen. A 36-year-old migrant from Nigeria appeared in court on charges of raping an 18-year-old woman in Neusäß.
**Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.
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The Brotherhood must not be seen as moderatesلا يجب اعتبار الإخوان المسلمين جماعة معتدلة
Hassan Hassan and Ola Salem/The National/February 13/17
For many people, Yusuf Al Qaradawi epitomises moderate Islam. From banning female circumcision to allowing coeducation, the Qatar-based Egyptian cleric’s bold and progressive edicts have challenged conservative views for decades. But he often comes under fire for his views in favour of suicide bombing.
In April 2001, Dr Al Qaradawi said it was permissible for Palestinians to carry out suicide operations targeting Israelis, and described the tactic as "one of the greatest forms of jihad". He was responding to a counter fatwa by Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti, Abdelaziz Al Sheikh. When Al Jazeera reported on the issue, it concluded: "Such a fatwa is specifically common among Palestinians fighting against the Israeli occupation."
But the fatwa created a slippery slope. In 2014, Dr Al Qaradawi expanded the remit of his fatwa to civil wars in the Middle East. He said that it was acceptable for Syrians to blow themselves up, as long as the bomber acts as "part of a group". Individuals cannot do it, he emphasised.
These attacks spare no one, including Muslim worshippers inside mosques. During Ramadan last year, for example, suicide attacks hit Turkey, Bangladesh, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and killed nearly 350 people. A suicide attacker struck near the burial site of the Prophet Mohammed, killing four security guards.
After the attack in Saudi Arabia, Ibrahim Munir, the deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, asked clerics to rethink their opinion on suicide operations. "Killing innocent civilians has become common because suicide bombers rely on these fatwas to blow themselves up," he said.
Suicide bombing is rejected by traditional clergy because suicide is explicitly prohibited in the Quran. Islamist clerics, such as Dr Al Qaradawi, who have a mainstream following legitimise views long perceived to be fringe and extremist. Also, these clerics sometimes preside over councils or are close to religious institutions that operate in the West. Dr Al Qaradawi is chairman of the European Council for Fatwa and Research.
When he was criticised for his views on suicide bombing after the Medina attack, countless supporters expressed solidarity with him. Some pointed out that other clerics have also sanctioned suicide bombing.
What many of those who defended Dr Al Qaradawi’s view on suicide bombing do not realise, though, is that their cleric walked back on his edict in the summer.
"The Palestinian brothers were in need of the [tactic] to instal terror told in the hearts of Israelis," he said in July. "They told me they no longer need it, so I told them I no longer approve of it."
The way he disavowed the fatwa is telling – as though he prescribed medicine to a patient. The prescription was stopped because the patient no longer needed it. He failed to disapprove of the practice in general. He made no mention of his approval of the tactic in Syria. The genie is out of the bottle and the side effects are too damaging.
The story of Dr Al Qaradawi and the fatwa he issued more than 15 years ago should be part of the continuing debate over whether the new United States administration should designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation. The arguments raised by supposed experts tend to be ignorant of the insidious aspects of Islamism.
A key problem with the current debate is that opposition to the designation has led to outright apologism. Even if one argues that the US government should not label the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation, a mechanism to address the contribution of such groups to the jihadist world view should be in place. The opposite is happening: academics and so-called experts often call for engaging Islamists as representatives of Muslim communities, as the previous American administrations effectively did.
Suicide operations have become an accepted political tactic against opponents everywhere, not only by ISIL but also by groups that subscribe to less extremist ideologies. Should policymakers continue to ignore the fact that it is Islamist clerics such as Dr Al Qaradawi who approve of such tactics, in stark contrast to traditional clergy?
Designating the Brotherhood as a terroist group might not help, but something needs to be done to counter these views. How do the US and other countries determine that clerics such as Dr Al Qaradawi should be stopped from promoting violence in their communities or online? The Muslim Brotherhood affirm peaceful political engagement yet their television channels and writings promote extremism.
Experts who oppose the idea of designating the Brotherhood a terrorist group tend to gloss over such issues. Recognition of the troubling discourse and views that often help groom youngsters for jihadism is critical, if the world is to properly deal with the issue of terrorism.
**Hassan Hassan is a senior fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy. Ola Salem is a journalist in Virginia, the United States
Sisi, al-Azhar at loggerheads over verbal divorce
Marwa al-A’sar/The Arab Weekly//February 13/17
Cairo - Al-Azhar’s decision that verbal divorce complies with sharia law pits the highest Sunni Islamic authority against Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and fuels debate on the issue inside and outside Egypt.
Citing rampant divorce rates throughout the country, Sisi in January called on al-Azhar to draft legislation to ban verbal divorce and make it effective only when documented.
“This will give couples the chance to rethink their desire to separate,” Sisi said during a televised speech while looking at Grand Imam of al- Azhar Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, who was in the first row of the audience.
Verbal divorce allows Muslim husbands to terminate their marriages by uttering the words “I, hereby, divorce you” to their wives, even before documenting the act at the office of a religious official authorised by al-Azhar to record marriages and divorces.
Following a February 5th meeting by the committee of senior clerics, al-Azhar said verbal divorce was valid even without documentation as long as it was in line with all conditions stipulated by the Islamic religion. It added that, for verbal divorce to be legitimate, the husband has to be in his right mind and use appropriate phrasing.
By approving verbal divorce, al- Azhar pits itself against Sisi, who more than once in the past two years called on its clerics to start a process of reform.
“Al-Azhar wants to protect its sovereign interests and the status of an al-Azhar sheikh as an absolute master in the society regardless of whether what he says is right or wrong,” writer Sayed al-Qemn argued. “If al-Azhar says that verbal divorce counts, why don’t al-Azhar scholars acknowledge verbal marriage?”
About 900,000 marriages are registered every year in Egypt, with 40% of them ending in divorce in the first five years.
Some children of collapsed marriages end up on the streets, exacerbating Egypt’s street children problem, civil society activists said.
“This is why a law banning verbal divorce has been a long-awaited demand,” said Entesar al-Saeed, the head of women’s rights group Cairo Centre for Development. “When husbands fail to document divorce, they deprive their ex-wives and children of their financial rights.”Sisi’s proposal and al-Azhar’s rejection have divided the religious institution, with some of its top clerics expressing support for Sisi’s plan.
Saad al-Din al-Hilali, a professor of comparative jurisprudence at al-Azhar University, said that legitimising verbal divorce humiliates the judiciary and other state institutions.
“Verbal divorce should not count as long as it is not documented,” Hilali said. “There is no verse in the holy Quran on verbal divorce."
He said God does not say how divorce should be carried out.
“Hence, this is not a religious matter but a jurisprudential one,” Hilali said. “Like the case with buying and selling, divorce must be officially documented to be effective.”
He said at the time of the Prophet Mohammad marriage and divorce were agreements made verbally but documentation was later introduced to protect rights.
“Now, if a man divorces his wife verbally without documentation, she will be neither married nor divorced,” Hilali said. “This is totally unfair for women.”
Trump feels his way through Syria’s labyrinth
Sami Moubayed/The Arab Weekly/February 13/17
The next round of Syria talks in Geneva has been postponed until February 20th because the stakeholders in the conflict want to get a better picture of what US President Donald Trump’s Syria policy will be now that Rex Tillerson has been sworn in as US Secretary of State.
Trump has been fairly consistent on Syria, both during the presidential campaign and in interviews since he was elected in November. He wants “this craziness” in Syria to end, has oodles of respect for Russian President Vladimir Putin and would not mind working with the Syrian regime in fighting the Islamic State (ISIS).
In March, Trump should receive a Pentagon study with recommendations on how to defeat ISIS, a major component of his inaugural address on January 20th.
Advisers close to the US president confirm that he would gladly outsource the entire Syria file to Putin if the Russian leader agreed to do three things: Help Trump crush ISIS, empower Syria’s Kurds and eject Iran and Hezbollah from the Syrian battlefield.
Trump is willing to engage with Damascus at a counter-intelligence level and to surrender to Putin’s version of how the war, now nearly 6 years old, should end.
Trump is seemingly very serious about liberating Raqqa, a normally sleepy town in north-eastern Syria on the Euphrates that ISIS has occupied since 2014 and that it considers the capital of its caliphate.
But Trump wants this done through the Syrian Democratic Forces, a mostly Kurdish militia set up two years ago by the Obama administration, not through the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army, Russia or the Syrian Army.
Trump is impressed by the Kurds’ resistance to ISIS’s occupation of Kobane, a Kurdish town on the border with Turkey, and sees Syrian Kurds as strategic partners in the war on terror.
If the price for their cooperation is achieving statehood in eastern Syria, then so be it: This is a reward that Trump would be willing to give.
His team sees no problem in keeping on the Syrian regime, so long as it distances itself from Iran. That will be easier said than done as the Islamic Republic is a key ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
For three years now, the international community and Arab states have been pressuring Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, a Shia, to distance himself from Tehran. This has triggered a series of terror attacks that have caused a massive death toll and made life in major cities such as Baghdad quite unbearable.
Iran has copious militias, so-called advisers and mercenaries in Syria. If it feels threatened, it can easily do the same, spreading havoc in regime-controlled places such as Damascus. At present, the US administration has no vision how it can reduce Iranian influence or eject Hezbollah from cities and towns it has controlled since 2012.
The Trump administration is also unclear about what kind of relationship it wants with Damascus. Will it actively engage, as George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton did when they were in the White House, or will it only tap dance with the Syrians — coordinating closely but with no touching, as Barack Obama did in 2009-11?
No-fly zones are certainly an option for Trump, but only in agreement with Moscow, and this will clearly muddle any cooperation with Damascus.
Finally, Trump is not enthusiastic about joining the Geneva process, launched in early 2016 based on UN Security Council Resolution 2254. This, of course, is music to the ears of Damascus and Moscow.
That process was the brainchild of then US Secretary of State John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Foreign minister. It collapsed in April 2016 and has been replaced by a process launched in Astana, capital of Kazakhstan, in early February. This endeavour initiated by Russia, Turkey and Iran is aimed at implementing a nationwide ceasefire in Syria, bringing rebel groups into the political process and uniting efforts in the war on ISIS — but with no mention of what will happen to Assad.
This, it is believed, would ultimately lead to the creation of a national unity cabinet embracing the regime and its opponents, which would supervise early parliamentary and presidential elections and draw up a new Syrian constitution. A draft of that plan was reportedly handed over to Syrian negotiators by Russia on January 25th. Trump is said to believe that this is fine for now and can be carried forward by the three regional powers, with the United States in the backseat as an observer.
If the United States wants to remove itself from the Middle East’s byzantine politics and concentrate on ISIS, the first move would be to step away from Syria. Astana, where the Americans were also sidelined, provides Trump with a perfect way to achieve that.
Finally, someone is asking about what Iran is doing in Iraq
Khairallah Khairallah/The Arab Weekly/February 13/17
Finally, someone is asking about what Iran is doing in Iraq
After several years of US blissful ignorance, questions are being raised now about Iran’s role in Iraq.
The new US administration is aware of the dangers posed by Iran’s policies and its expansionist project, which started taking shape in tandem with the US occupation of Iraq in 2003. Former US president Barack Obama literally surrendered to Iran when he announced the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq, with the last ones leaving in December 2011.
For Obama, it sometimes seemed the problems in the Middle East were bundled in Iran’s nuclear file. To him, the Muslim Brotherhood represented the hopes of the new Arab generation from the Atlantic to the Arabian Gulf and the imam in Iran was the idol of every Shia Muslim regardless of race or nationality.Obama was in denial when it came to Islamist terrorist movements. He refused to admit that they were all birthed by the Muslim Brotherhood ideology. The Brotherhood has never severed its relations with Iran and its satellite Islamist organisations among which is the Islamic Dawa Party, the ruling party in Iraq.
After several years of US blissful ignorance, questions are being raised about Iran’s role in Iraq. How could the result of a costly US war on Iraq be an Iranian victory in Iraq? Starting from this central question, the Trump administration will figure out the appropriate responses.
The first response will be more sanctions against Iran and its satellites. Iran’s movements and actions in the region are going to be closely monitored and analysed, including the attack by Iranian-backed Houthis on a Saudi frigate in Yemeni waters at the end of January.
Obama gave Iran free rein in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen but Trump is flashing a red card in Iran’s face. Reacting quickly to Tehran’s ballistic missile test, the Trump administration “officially put Iran on notice”.
During his US Senate confirmation hearing, new US Secretary of Defense James Mattis insisted that the United States must maintain its influence in Iraq even after the liberation of Mosul from the Islamic State and accused Iran of being “the biggest destabilising force in the Middle East”. Mattis knows Iran very well and knows what it has done in Iraq.
Mattis went even further. In a written statement preceding his confirmation hearings, he called on the United States to work on “a long-term strategy that prevents Iran from achieving its objective”, which is dominance of the region.
Top US officials agree that the honeymoon with Iran is over. US national security adviser Michael Flynn, another former general, officially warned Tehran over its latest ballistic missile test, saying it clearly violated UN Security Council Resolution 2231.
While it remains true that it is difficult to predict what US President Donald Trump might do about Iran, at least he seems to have made up his mind with backup from Republican congressional leaders. Trump is moving Iraq back to centre stage. Against Iran, he might continue to play the economic sanctions card. Iran cannot afford to have US and international sanctions inflicted against it again.
Yes, Iran will try to wiggle and manoeuvre its way out by more missile tests and a lot of tough talk but, in the end, it has no choice but to deal with the new American reality.
Iran’s predicament with Washington is very similar to Russia’s but with one major difference. It seems that Russian President Vladimir Putin is ready to make several deals with Trump even though the latter is in no hurry to lift the sanctions against Moscow. In the case of Iran, we cannot say that Trump is a great admirer of Iran nor is he a fan of its leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The two sides will clash if Iran continues to think that it is accountable to no one.
It looks like it is going to be in Iraq once more where the militias of the Popular Mobilisation Forces stand ready to commit unforgivable crimes against the people of Mosul and that Iran will demonstrate how far it is ready to go to rein in its ambition and expansionist enthusiasm.
**Khairallah Khairallah is a Lebanese writer. The commentary was translated and adapted from the Arabic. It was initially published in middle-east-online.com.