Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Global Economy to Slow

I feel like I need to take a different direction in life. Should I not buy a house in California? In Colorado? Should I put my money in a Swiss bank? Invest in Iraq? Go to graduate school?

'The global economy is set to slow significantly, and the downside risks to the world economic outlook remain elevated, according to the latest report from the Economist Intelligence Unit's Country Risk service. This reflects not just the problems in American and European financial sectors, but also higher global inflationary pressures, which are eroding corporate competitiveness, crimping consumers' spending power and casting a shadow over growth prospects in many countries. Pakistan was the biggest loser in August, with record rates of inflation, slowing real GDP growth, increasing monetisation of a ballooning fiscal deficit and a burgeoning current-account deficit, which has led to a rapid drawdown of foreign-exchange reserves.

The report forecasts a slowdown in growth in emerging markets, rather than a downturn, although parts of emerging Asia, the Middle East and eastern Europe appear vulnerable. Emerging-market credit fundamentals will remain generally strong, and few countries are vulnerable to the kind of financial crises that marred the second half of the 1990s. Any problems with debt servicing are likely to be encountered by emerging-market corporates and financials, rather than sovereigns. But there is a 30% probability that the developed world will experience a deep recession. Should that happen, growth will be markedly lower in emerging markets, leaving them more exposed to financial stress.'

Monday, September 29, 2008

Eid: time for Wahhabis to kill Shia

and Eid hasn't even begun.

"The worst of the bombings, in a bustling market of the central Karada district, seemed intended to inflict casualties on people preparing to celebrate a major holiday at the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month.

First, a car bomb blew up in a parking lot on Attar Street. Then as crowds gathered, a second bomb exploded, in what seemed to be an effort to kill or maim bystanders, several witnesses said."

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Bush's letter to Iraqi leaders

if it was written by Thomas Friedman:

"It’s not the stakes that have changed. It is the fact that you are now going to have to step up and finish this job. You have presumed an endless American safety net to permit you to endlessly bargain and dicker over who gets what. I’ve been way, way too patient with you. That is over. We bought you time with the surge to reach a formal political settlement and you better use it fast, because it is a rapidly diminishing asset.

You Shiites have got to bring the Sunni tribes and Awakening groups, who fought the war against Al Qaeda of Iraq, into the government and Army. You Kurds have got to find a solution for Kirkuk and accept greater integration into the Iraqi state system, while maintaining your autonomy. You Sunnis in government have got to agree to elections so the newly emergent Sunni tribal and Awakening groups are able to run for office and become “institutionalized” into the Iraqi system.

So pass your election and oil laws, spend some of your oil profits to get Iraqi refugees resettled and institutionalize the recent security gains while you still have a substantial U.S. presence. Read my lips: It will not be there indefinitely — even if McCain wins.

Our ambassador, Ryan Crocker, has told me your problem: Iraqi Shiites are still afraid of the past, Iraqi Sunnis are still afraid of the future and Iraqi Kurds are still afraid of both.

Well, you want to see fear. Look in the eyes of Americans who are seeing their savings wiped out, their companies disappear, their homes foreclosed. We are a different country today. After a decade of the world being afraid of too much American power, it is now going to be treated to a world of too little American power, as we turn inward to get our house back in order.

I still believe a decent outcome in Iraq, if you achieve it, will have long-lasting, positive implications for you and the entire Arab world, although the price has been way too high. I will wait for history for my redemption, but the American people will not. They want nation-building in America now. They will not walk away from Iraq overnight, but they will not stay there in numbers over time. I repeat: Do not misread this moment. God be with you."

George W. Bush.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Mickey Mouse is Satan's Soldier

A Saudi cleric has issued a fatwa to kill Mickey Mouse. The cleric used to be a diplomat in Washington! Thanks Dad.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Gay Iraqis not liberated

For gay Iraqis it has been the opposite of liberation. I did not expect the influence of the Iranian mullahs would have such pernicious results in Iraqi society, but I did not expect Iraqis to accept such influences either.

'Even relatively liberal people in Iraq seem to have harsh attitudes toward this subject. "These people are not welcome in the society because they are against the social, natural and religious rules," said one well-educated Iraqi who did not want to be identified more closely. A Baghdad executive said religion and tradition have made the overwhelming majority of Iraqis hostile to homosexuals. "Nobody is interested in talking about this at all," he says with a grim chuckle. A handful of gay men told NEWSWEEK harrowing stories about being cast out of their homes or savagely attacked by the storm troopers of virtue: Shia extremists among Badr Corps operatives (many of whom are now in the Iraqi Security Forces) or groups like the Mahdi Army, and sometimes both. But when told of such atrocities one Iraqi acquaintance blamed the victims, calling them "the lowest humans."

Persecution of gays will stop only if Iraqis can abandon centuries-old prejudices. They would have to acknowledge that human rights don't cover only the humans they like. Insisting that gays are just a few undesirable perverts who "should be killed"--as one Iraqi who works in journalism put it--encourages an atmosphere of impunity no matter the offense. Killing gays becomes "honorable." And raping them is OK because it isn't considered a homosexual act--only being penetrated or providing oral sex is.

Ali Hili says the government, security forces, judiciary and religious establishment are complicit in terrorizing gays. Since the late-evening visit by the militiamen, Nadir has moved to another part of Baghdad and stayed away from home. "They said, 'We will get you even if you fly to God'," he says. Changing Iraq's attitudes toward its gay minority may prove even harder than ending the war.'

Friday, September 19, 2008

Pre-2003 Torture & Murder at Abu Ghraib

An Iraqi reporter named Suadad al Salhy has been hired by the New York Times. On her blog she wrote: 'The Iraqi government has announced that it will rehabilitate Abu Ghraib prison, turning part of it into a museum of torture. However the Shiite-led post-war government in Baghdad said that it will focus on the “crimes” of Saddam Hussein’s Sunni regime, and not American torture post-2003.'

I commented that this is appropriate, since the crimes of Saddam Hussein's regime at Abu Ghraib were much more horrific and lasted much longer than American torture at Abu Ghraib. I find it strange that the author put the word "crimes" in quotes. Many Sunni Arabs and even some Iraqis do not know of or refuse to believe the stories of torture and murder that took place at Abu Ghraib and many other prisons in Iraq prior to 2003. This is just another symbol of the division between Shia and Sunni Arabs. Maybe I shouldn't blame those who are ignorant of Saddam's crimes, since the Arab press did not report them.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Arabs and Muslims Need Education

I received this in a forward from my uncle, and it has raised a bit of a debate between recipients, a hint of resentment from at least one of our Arab brothers. I've seen some of these statistics before, and they are quite startling. One commenter wrote that the author ignores history; he omits the Arab and Muslim geniuses from history. The Arabs hold on to history - we are proud of our heritage. I was going to postulate that Arab genius has been in decline since they became Muslims (I've argued this before), but the advent of Islam actually helped to advance Arab knowledge, at least with respect to algebra and the use of fractions. So when did the Arabs lose their mojo? It's easy to blame colonization and war, but Baghdad has been subjected to some horrible invasions, like the Mongol besiege of Baghdad, during which the Library of Baghdad was burned down and Baghdad's status as a center of knowledge and learning disappeared.

Extracts of speech by Hafez Adv. AB Mohamed,
Director Al Baraka Bank, South Africa


o World Jewish Population. 14 million

o Distribution: 7m in America

- 5m in Asia

- 2m in Europe

- 100 thousand in Africa

o World Muslim Population: 1.5 billion

o Distribution: I billion in Asia/Mid-East

- 400 m in Africa

- 44 m in Europe

- 6 m in the Americas

o Every fifth human being is a Muslim.

o For every single Hindu there are two Muslims

o For every Buddhist there are two Muslims

o For every Jew there are 107 Muslims

o Yet the 14 million Jews are more powerful than the entire 1.5 billion Muslims


Here are some of the reasons:

Movers of Recent History

o Albert Einstein, Jewish

o Sigmund Freud, Jewish

o Karl Marx, Jewish

o Paul Samuelson, Jewish

o Milton Friedman, Jewish

Medical Milestones

o Vaccinating Needle, Benjamin Ruben, Jewish

o Polio Vaccine, Jonas Salk, Jewish

o Leukemia Drug, Gertrude Elion, Jewish

o Hepatitis B, Baruch Blumberg, Jewish

o Syphilis Drug, Paul Ehrlich, Jewish

o Neuro muscular, Elie Metchnikoff, Jewish

o Endocrinology, Andrew Schally, Jewish

o Cognitive therapy, Aaron Beck, Jewish

o Contraceptive Pill, Gregory Pincus, Jewish

o Understanding of Human Eye, G. Wald, Jewish

o Embryology, Stanley Cohen, Jewish

o Kidney Dialysis, Willem Kloffcame, Jewish

Nobel Prize Winners

o In the past 105 years, 14 million Jews have won 180 Nobel prizes whilst 1.5 billion Muslims have contributed only 3 Nobel winners

Inventions that changed History

o Micro- Processing Chip, Stanley Mezor, Jewish

o Nuclear Chain Reactor, Leo Sziland, Jewish

o Optical Fibre Cable, Peter Schultz, Jewish

o Traffic Lights, Charles Adler, Jewish

o Stainless Steel, Benno Strauss, Jewish

o Sound Movies, Isador Kisee, Jewish

o Telephone Microphone, Emile Berliner, Jewish

o Video Tape Recorder, Charles Ginsburg, Jewish

Influential Global Business

o Polo, Ralph Lauren, Jewish

o Levi's Jeans, Levi Strauss, Jewish

o Starbuck's Howard Schultz, Jewish

o Google, Sergey Brin, Jewish

o Dell Computers, Michael Dell, Jewish

o Oracle, Larry Ellison, Jewish

o DKNY, Donna Karan, Jewish

o Baskin & Robbins, Irv Robbins, Jewish

o Dunkin Donuts, Bill Rosenberg, Jewish

Influential Intellectuals/Politicians

o Henry Kissinger, US Sec of State, Jewish

o Richard Levin, Pres. Yale University, Jewish

o Alan Greenspan, US Federal Reserve, Jewish

o Joseph Lieberman, Jewish

o Madeleine Albright, US Sec of State, Jewish

o Casper Weinberger, US Sec of Defense, Jewish

o Maxim Litvinov, USSR Foreign Minister, Jewish

o David Marshal, Singapore Chief Minister, Jewish

o Isaacs Isaacs, Gov-Gen Australia, Jewish

o Benjamin Disraeli, British Statesman, Jewish

o Yevgeny Primakov, Russian PM, Jewish

o Barry Goldwater, US Politician, Jewish

o Jorge Sampaio, President Portugal, Jewish

o Herb Gray, Canadian Dep-PM, Jewish

o Pierre Mendes, French PM, Jewish

o Michael Howard, British Home Sec, Jewish

o Bruno Kriesky, Austrian Chancellor, Jewish

o Robert Rubin, US Sec of Treasury, Jewish

Global Media Influentials

o Wolf Blitzer, CNN, Jewish

o Barbara Walters, ABC News, Jewish

o Eugene Meyer, Washington Post, Jewish

o Henry Grunwald, Time Magazine, Jewish

o Katherine Graham, Washington Post, Jewish

o Joseph Lelyyeld, New York Times, Jewish

o Max Frankel, New York Times, Jewish

Global Philanthropists

o George Soros, Jewish

o Waltewr Annenberg, Jewish

Olympic Gold Medalists

o Mark Spitz, 7 Gold Medals, Jewish

o Krayzelburg, Jewish

o Boris Becker, Jewish

o Stars and TV Producers and

o Personalities Many Jews

Why are they powerful?

So why are Muslims powerless? Here's another reason. We have lost the capacity to produce knowledge:

o In the entire Muslim World (57 Muslim Countries) there are only 500 universities.

o In USA alone, 5,758 universities

o In India alone, 8,407 universities

o Not one university in the entire Islamic World features in the Top 500 Ranking Universities of the World

o Literacy in the Christian World 90%

o Literacy in the Muslim World 40%

o 15 Christian majority-countries, literacy rate 100%

o Muslim majority - countries: None

o 98% in Christian countries completed primary

o Only 50% in Muslim countries completed primary.

o 40% in Christian countries attended university

o In Muslim countries a dismal 2% attended.

o Muslim majority countries have 230 scientists per one million Muslims

o The USA has 5000 per million

o The Christian world 1000 technicians per million.

o Entire Arab World only 50 technicians per million.

o Muslim World spends on research/development 0.2% of GDP

o Christian World spends 5 % of GDP


o The Muslim World lacks the capacity to produce knowledge.

Another way of testing the degree of knowledge is the degree of diffusing knowledge:

o Pakistan 23 daily newspapers per 1000 citizens

o Singapore 360 per 1000 citizens.

o In UK book titles per million is 2000

o In Egypt book titles per million is only 20


o Muslim World is failing to diffuse knowledge

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Daughters of Iraq


Thanks C.H.

Daughters of Iraq: front-line guards against suicide bombers

Iraqi women take on key security role as attacks by female suicide bombers rise.

Reporter Tom A. Peter talks about the potential future of community policing in Iraq.

Although the overall level of violence in Iraq has decreased to a four- year low, the country has recently witnessed a sharp rise in a violent trend that alarms many Iraqis: female suicide bombings. This year the number of suicide bombings carried out by women has more than tripled to 29 attacks, say US military officials.

Al Qaeda and other insurgent groups have turned to women to exploit cultural practices that do not allow men to search women. As a result, females can pass through most checkpoints in Iraq without someone so much as looking in their handbags.

To combat this threat, Iraqis have begun recruiting women for the Daughters of Iraq, a female counterpart to the Sons of Iraq community policing program largely credited with reducing violence in Iraq. While female security guards remain a small minority, they've stopped many female insurgents. And, some say their example could help change perceptions about the role of women in Iraq.

"Right now women [suicide bombers] are more dangerous than men," says Sheikh Zaid Ahmed Al-Wan, an Awakening Council leader in Adhamiya, a Baghdad neighborhood. "You can't see anything on a woman's body, especially when she's wearing an abaya [a traditional Islamic gown] or a long dress. In the summer you can see everything on a man, you can even see if there's something in his pocket and even in the winter you can tell if he's carrying a big weapon or a bomb."

The most recent female suicide attack killed 18 people and injured 75 on Aug. 14. The bomber targeted Shiite pilgrims in a rest area in Iskandariyah in Iraq's Babil Province.

The bombing highlights how females can often inflict more damage than males. The majority of women bombers wear explosive vests or belts covered by abayas and are sometimes made to look pregnant, according to US military officials who track suicide bombing trends. This allows women easy access to crowded areas where they can cause the most damage.

Identifying a common profile for female bombers can be difficult, with one as young as 13. There is also speculation that bombing cells have used mentally handicapped women to carry out some attacks.

While the motives of each bomber varies, US military officials say most female suicide bombers share at least one of the following characteristics or circumstances: dishonor through sexual indiscretion, loss of a family member and a desire for revenge, desire to attain heroic status, inability to produce children, or an interest in demonstrating gender equality.


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

AQI wants to kill Sunni leaders in Iraq

for cooperating with the US, but non-Iraqi Sunni leaders continue to get a free pass.

Al-Qaida figure: Death to Iraqi Sunni leaders  

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) — The purported leader of an al-Qaida-dominated insurgent umbrella group in Iraq has called for the murder of all members of the country's main Sunni Arab political party, in an audio message posted Tuesday on militant Web sites.

Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State in Iraq, said in the half-hour audio message that members of the Iraqi Islamic Party had 15 days to repent, but that its leaders should be killed immediately.

"We hereby declare the Islamic Party, with all its tendencies, its leadership and its members, to be an enemy of God and his prophet," he said. "It is a sect of apostasy which should be killed wherever its members are found."

Al-Baghdadi singled out five leaders to be killed immediately, including Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi. He promised an unspecified reward for their deaths.

The comments appeared designed to tap into opposition to the Iraqi Islamic Party, the main Sunni political faction in parliament, which is locked in a bitter power struggle with Sunni groups that turned against al-Qaida in Anbar province and elsewhere.

Those Sunnis, organized in Awakening Councils, believe they deserve power at the expense of the Islamic party, which is part of the Shiite-led government.


Iran killed teenage girl attacked by rapists

It's hard to believe that some actually defend the evil Khomeinist regime. Thanks Maury.

This story is two years old, but still worth posting, imo.

Iran to hang teenage girl attacked by rapists

Saturday, 07 January 2006
Iran Focus

Tehran, Iran, Jan. 07 – An Iranian court has sentenced a teenage rape victim to death by hanging after she weepingly confessed that she had unintentionally killed a man who had tried to rape both her and her niece.

The state-run daily Etemaad reported on Saturday that 18-year-old Nazanin confessed to stabbing one of three men who had attacked the pair along with their boyfriends while they were spending some time in a park west of the Iranian capital in March 2005.

Nazanin, who was 17 years old at the time of the incident, said that after the three men started to throw stones at them, the two girls’ boyfriends quickly escaped on their motorbikes leaving the pair helpless.

She described how the three men pushed her and her 16-year-old niece Somayeh onto the ground and tried to rape them, and said that she took out a knife from her pocket and stabbed one of the men in the hand.

As the girls tried to escape, the men once again attacked them, and at this point, Nazanin said, she stabbed one of the men in the chest. The teenage girl, however, broke down in tears in court as she explained that she had no intention of killing the man but was merely defending herself and her younger niece from rape, the report said.

The court, however, issued on Tuesday a sentence for Nazanin to be hanged to death.

Last week, a court in the city of Rasht, northern Iran, sentenced Delara Darabi to death by hanging charged with murder when she was 17 years old. Darabi has denied the charges.

In August 2004, Iran’s Islamic penal system sentenced a 16-year-old girl, Atefeh Rajabi, to death after a sham trial, in which she was accused of committing “acts incompatible with chastity”.

The teenage victim had no access to a lawyer at any stage and efforts by her family to retain one were to no avail. Atefeh personally defended herself and told the religious judge that he should punish those who force women into adultery, not the victims. She was eventually hanged in public in the northern town of Neka.

American ingenuity kills terrorists

Some people might be angry with Woodward for attributing the drop in violence, at least partly, to American ingenuity. Boo hoo.

Secret killing program is key in Iraq, Woodward says

The program -- which Woodward compares to the World War II era Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb -- must remain secret for now or it would "get people killed," Woodward said Monday on CNN's Larry King Live.

"It is a wonderful example of American ingenuity solving a problem in war, as we often have," Woodward said.

In "The War Within: Secret White House History 2006-2008," Woodward disclosed the existence of secret operational capabilities developed by the military to locate, target and kill leaders of al Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgent leaders.

National security adviser Stephen Hadley, in a written statement reacting to Woodward's book, acknowledged the new strategy. Yet he disputed Woodward's conclusion that the "surge" of 30,000 U.S. troops into Iraq was not the primary reason for the decline in violent attacks.

"It was the surge that provided more resources and a security context to support newly developed techniques and operations," Hadley wrote.

Woodward, associate editor of the Washington Post, wrote that along with the surge and the new covert tactics, two other factors helped reduce the violence.

One was the decision of militant cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to order a cease-fire by his Mehdi Army. The other was the "Anbar Awakening" movement that saw Sunni tribes aligning with U.S. troops to battle al Qaeda in Iraq.


Iraq cabinet approves $4 bln gas deal with Shell

Shell agrees landmark $4 bln gas deal with Iraq

6 hours ago

BAGHDAD (AFP) — Anglo-Dutch energy giant Royal Dutch Shell has agreed to a gas joint venture with Iraq worth up to four billion dollars, the Iraqi oil ministry said Tuesday, becoming the first Western oil major to gain access to the violence-wracked country's vast energy reserves.

The deal to capture unwanted gas burned off during oil production for sale both inside Iraq and abroad is expected to be signed in Baghdad next month, ministry spokesman Assem Jihad told AFP.

It would make Shell the first Western oil group to return to Baghdad since the US-led invasion of 2003 and the Financial Times said it is estimated to be worth about between three billion and four billion dollars.

Iraq's cabinet approved the contract, giving the state-owned Southern Oil Company 51 percent and Shell 49 percent in the venture based in the main southern city of Basra.

The project is intended to make use of the 21 million cubic metres (700 million cubic feet) of gas -- roughly enough to meet the demand for all of Iraq's power generation -- that the oil industry burns off for safety reasons, the FT said.


Monday, September 08, 2008

Shia and honor killings

I should not have assumed (in comments) that Shia have not committed honor killings. 

By Hugh Sykes
BBC News, Tehran

Parvin Ardalan, women's rights activist (Photo: kossoof.com)
Parvin Ardalan was blocked from travelling abroad to receive an award

Four more women in Iran have been sentenced to jail - six months behind bars - for campaigning for women's rights.

They were accused of "spreading propaganda" against the Islamic system here - specifically for taking part in the Million Signatures Campaign for equal rights for women.

One of those sentenced, Parvin Ardalan, was awarded the Olof Palme Prize this year - on her way to collect the honour, her passport was seized at Imam Khomeini International Airport in Teheran, and she was unable to travel.

She had to accept the award by video-link.

An estimated 50 women have been detained since the signatures campaign began.


Women in Iran have severely restricted freedom of choice, and no equality with men.

A married woman must obtain her husband's permission before taking a job outside their home.

A man may have up to four wives. A woman may not have up to four husbands.

Women must observe the Islamic dress code - showing as little hair as possible, and their arms, their legs and their feet must be covered.

There is no protection against so-called honour killings for women who are raped; a husband - or a father - who kills the rape victim cannot be prosecuted and sent to jail for murder.

"This is inhuman," a law professor at Tehran University, Rosa Gharachorloo, told me.

Most of the people I have spoken to here agree: they believe rape victims should be comforted, not killed.

Women can be stopped and inspected by Gasht-e-Ershad, Ministry of Islamic Guidance patrols.

They have vehicles that look like police cars. They are often seen outside main metro stations in Teheran, checking women for hair or dress infringements.

They also go to parks, to ensure that couples sitting or walking together are married, engaged or related.


Thursday, September 04, 2008

"Friendly Fire" Kills 4 Sahwa and 2 Iraqi Police

I find it strange that the same people who call for "death and dishonor" to Iraqis who work for the occupier (Americans) complain when the Iraqis who work for Americans are killed by Americans.

U.S. military reviewing friendly-fire incident

Six Iraqis killed, 10 wounded in attack on patrol

By AMIT R. PALEY Washington Post
Sept. 3, 2008, 11:21PM

BAGHDAD — U.S. troops mistakenly killed six members of Iraq's security forces Monday, Iraqi officials said, further straining relations between the U.S. military and the Iraqis they are paying to secure the country.

The pre-dawn confusion in Mizrafa, a stretch of farmland along the Tigris River north of Baghdad, claimed the lives of two Iraqi police officers and four members of the Awakening, a group of mostly Sunni fighters who work with the U.S. military, said Iraqi Army Maj. Mohammed Younis.

A U.S. military spokeswoman said the shooting was under review. "It is always regrettable when incidents of mistaken fire occur on the battlefield," Staff Sgt. Stephanie Boy wrote in an e-mail.

The incident took place when U.S. troops aboard a boat on the Tigris approached a patrol of Awakening fighters, who were already on alert because a suicide bomber had attacked the leader of the local group in nearby Tarmiyah, killing one person and wounding four.

"They heard a rumor that al-Qaida was going to stage an offensive against their town from the river," Younis said, referring to the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaida in Iraq. "They deployed themselves along the river waiting to ambush al-Qaida if they started to attack."


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Would-be suicide bomber's husband wanted for 40 murders

'Covered from head to toe in a jet-black abaya, the traditional Arabic dress for women, Raniya smiled with childish delight as she recalled the words of her husband, al-Qaeda operative who investigators say is wanted for 40 murders, most of them beheadings.

Raniya, who said she dreamed of being a doctor but married at 14 at the insistence of her apparently financially strapped mother, spoke softly about her ordeal that she said included drugging and detention, before the media spotlight. I was trying to go to my mother and leave the vest with her or ask her to inform the police,” she insisted.'

“Since my video was shown, the soldiers shoot at our house all the time”

This makes me Angry.

Israeli army targets family over brutality film

Jonathan Cook, Foreign Correspondent

  • Last Updated: September 01. 2008 10:53PM UAE / September 1. 2008 6:53PM GMT

Salam Amira stands by the window where she filmed a bound and blindfolded Palestinian being shot by an Israeli soldier. The roadblock is seen at a distance. Jonathan Cook / The National

Nilin, West Bank // The window through which Salam Amira, 16, filmed the moment when an Israeli soldier shot from close range a handcuffed and blindfolded Palestinian detainee has a large hole at its centre with cracks running in every direction.

"Since my video was shown, the soldiers shoot at our house all the time," she said. The shattered and cracked windows at the front of the building confirm her story. "When we leave the windows open, they fire tear gas inside too."

Her home looks out over the Israeli road block guarding the only entrance to the village of Nilin, located just inside the West Bank midway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It was here that a bound Ashraf Abu Rahma, 27, was shot in the foot in July with a rubber bullet under orders from an Israeli regiment commander.

The treatment of the family stands in stark contrast to the leniency shown to the soldier and his commander involved in that incident.


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Wahhabis in the UK

This is scary. I have walked by the London Central Mosque a few times, but have never been inside. I find it difficult to believe that this mosque is practically part of beautiful Regents Park. Watch this video to learn what Wahhabis teach Muslims about Christians and Jews, about the very country that gives them freedom of speech and religion! It is so embarrassing.

Thanks Aton the Sun God for linking to this excellent documentary. Watch Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5. Also watch this.

Backward views of some Shia

On my blog I have focused a great deal on the backward views of Wahhabi clerics, and more recently I have discussed the injustices carried out by the Iranian regime as well, but I have not written about the backward views of many Iraqi Shia, including Ayatollah Ali al Sistani. Over the weekend I watched an episode of the Turkish soap opera Nour, which has been dubbed in Arabic by mbc and is a huge hit in the Arab world. My cousin told me that Sistani has warned young Iraqis not to watch the soap, presumably because it promotes secular ideas. Showing women without veils no doubt irritates conservative Muslim clerics, and I'm not surprised by the Saudi grand mufti's attack on "malicious" Turkish soap operas, but to hear that Sistani has done the same surprises and upsets me. I cannot confirm that Sistani warned Iraqis not to watch Nour, but more seriously, Sistani did issue a fatwa against homosexuals and instructed to kill homosexuals "in the most severe way". Sistani eventually renounced the fatwa, but by then it was too late for many gay Iraqis.

Other fatwas by Sistani and practices by conservative Shia make me laugh, and some of them I find quite backward, even more so than fatwas by Wahhabis, because Sistani's words affect Iraqis directly. I have praised Sistani before, and I still admire him for calling for peace and unity among Iraqis, but I hope he respects the fact that much of Iraqi society is secular, and I hope he does not move to make Baghdad look more like Tehran.

Monday, September 01, 2008

How does it feel when you got no food?

I know what it feels like to have no food, but the poverty my family experienced was short-lived, and I know that millions of people, including children, experience real hunger every day for most of their lives. Doing my part as a blogger on the first day of Ramadhan.

US returns control of Anbar to Iraqis

BAGHDAD - The U.S. military has handed over security control of the western province of Anbar to Iraqi forces.

The province was once a hotbed of the Sunni Arab insurgency, and the scene of some of the bloodiest battles of the Iraq war.

The handover marks a major milestone in America's strategy of turning security over to the Iraqis so U.S. troops can eventually go home.

In the ceremony Monday in the provincial capital of Ramadi, the top American commander in Anbar, Marine Maj. Gen. John Kelly, said al-Qaida has not been entirely defeated in Anbar. But he said, "their end is near."