Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Danish Cartoons

Andrew Sullivan has two very good posts about the "controversy" over cartoons that depicted Mohammed, and appeared in a Danish newspaper.
Yes, they're blasphemous to strict Muslims. So what? Free countries do not ban blasphemy. Compared to the real blasphemy of extremist Muslims murdering innocent civilians, these cartoons are pitifully tame.
Sullivan comments on Bill Clinton's criticism of the cartoons, in which Clinton called them "outrageous":
These cartoons help expose the brutalization of women, the use of violence in defense of faith, the idiocy of suicide bombers allegedly going to heaven, and so on. If we cannot speak of these things without giving offense, then we have lost our ability to discuss freely the most significant cultural shift of our time: the rise and rise[sic][risk, maybe?] of religious fundamentalism.
Check the ADL website to see what kinds of cartoons are more acceptable in the Arab world.

Update: More cartoons from the Arab world.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Training (And Chaining) Tomorrow's Islamists

Daily Times (Pakistan):
Police in Pakistan are searching for the principal of a religious school who kept young boys chained up and beat them daily to force them to study. Police raided the madrassa in the southern city of Karachi after 8-year-old Mohammad Ammar and 10-year-old Ahsan Mawia jumped from the roof to escape, still wearing their chains.
(Via HNN).

Sunday, January 29, 2006

What's In A Truce?

This CNN story starts out with some sense of optimism:
A leader of Hamas, the militant group that last week became the controlling force in Palestinian politics, laid out a series of conditions Sunday that he said could lead to years of co-existence alongside Israel.
However, once you get past that opening, the real story starts to be revealed:
Mahmoud al-Zahar, the top Hamas official in Gaza, told CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" that a "long-term hudna or long-term truce" is possible. He would not commit to negotiating with Israel and would not say whether recognizing Israel's existence is a long-term possibility.
After a few more paragraphs we get to this important nugget:
A "hudna," historically, has referred to a long pause in hostilities, during which armies prepared for later battles.
Remember that "truce" that Osama bin Laden offered in his last audio tape?

More:
But asked about Hamas' call for Israel's destruction, Zahar would not say whether that remains the goal. "We are not speaking about the future, we are speaking now," he said.
Now the picture becomes more clear. In plain English, Hamas, an organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel, will consider a truce which will hold until the time when it feels that it is capable of accomplishing its goal.

Another thing: the mainstream media has a tendency to focus on Hamas' terrorist roots, while paying little attention to its Islamist foundation.

Here's what you get if you read all the way to the end of the CNN story:
News reports have said Hamas plans to establish separate schools for boys and girls in the Palestinian territories and implement stricter Islamic law. Asked whether he plans a theocracy instead of a secular government, Zahar responded, "Do you think the secular system is ... serving any nation?"

A secular system "allows homosexuality, allows corruption, allows the spread of the loss of natural immunity like AIDS," he said.

They Have An Agenda

The Onion gives us the schedule for Iran's Holocaust Conference.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Reuters Is First

Reuters has the first article that I've seen that begins the attempt to legitimize Hamas.
Almost half of Israelis think Israel should talk to a Palestinian government dominated by the Islamic militant group Hamas, which won a parliamentary majority in elections, an opinion poll showed on Friday.
The opinion poll in the Yedioth Ahronoth daily newspaper showed 48 percent of Israelis favored talking to a Hamas-led Palestinian government, while 43 percent were opposed.

The survey was conducted before preliminary election results were announced on Thursday.
I don't know if it was deliberate, but the first sentence leads you to believe that the poll was conducted after the election. I also could not find any information about how the poll was worded, or how many people were surveyed.

Pirate Threatens To Kill Hostages

What hostages, you ask? Well, these are future hostages; hostages-to-be:
A Somali pirate has demanded the release of "comrades" captured by the U.S. Navy last week, threatening to kill hostages in the future if the call was not heeded, according to media reports on Friday.
"The Americans should release the 10 men they are holding," said Garaad Mohamud Mohamed, who told Shabeelle radio he was speaking on behalf of the captured pirates.

"If they don't we will kill any hostages we capture and attack any ships unlawfully plying our waters."

Two Somali ministers dismissed Mohamed's threat saying the latest arrests were part of a government plan to fight piracy along Somalia's long coastline.
Sounds like kind of a shaky negotiating tactic.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Bizarre Story Of The Day

Will there be a kosher meal available?
Iran has asked the United States to allow direct flights between the two countries after a break of more than two decades, a senior civil aviation official said on Thursday.
"We sent a letter to the relevant American officials on Wednesday, announcing Iran's willingness to resume direct flights," Nourollah Rezai-Niaraki, head of Iran's Civil Aviation Organization, told state television.

He said the decision to make the request was taken by hardline Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad due to demand from the large Iranian community living in the United States.

"They have repeatedly complained about wasting time and losing their baggage on connecting flights," the official said.

Victory For Hamas

It remains to be seen what the Hamas victory in the Palestinian elections will mean for Palestinians, for Israelis, and for the rest of the world. Do Palestinians endorse the ideology of Hamas, which includes Islamism and virulent anti-Semitism, or have they simply had enough of endless Fatah corruption? The absence of Arafat's popular leadership allowed his legacy of corruption to erode support for Fatah.

What's next? Will Hamas continue unchanged, or will it be forced to moderate its position as it takes on the responsibility of leadership of the Palestinian Authority? I expect to see some moderation in their statements, in order to obtain much needed foreign aid, although some people don't have a problem giving money to terrorists:
[Jimmy] Carter, who led an 85-member international observer team from around the world organized by the 'National Democratic Institute' in partnership with 'The Carter Center,' urged the international community to directly or indirectly fund the new Palestinian Government even though it will be led by an internationally-declared foreign terror organization. "The Palestinian Government is destitute, and in desperate financial straits. I hope that support for the new government will be forthcoming," Carter said at a Jerusalem press conference.
He noted that the heavily funded Palestinian Government would run out of money at the end of next month.
If Mr. Carter is so concerned about the Palestinian people, maybe he should talk about why the Palestinian government is destitute. An era of corruption has seen international aid going to the leaders of Fatah instead of to the Palestinian people. Now the world should send more money to support terrorists? Can I hear the word accountability at least once?

Back to Hamas. As I said, I expect to hear words of moderation, but here's something that was said today:
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said the Islamic group will "complete the liberation of other parts of Palestine," But did not say which territories he was referring to or how he would go about it.
Maybe a few highlights from Hamas' charter will clear up the meaning of this statement:
"Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it."

"The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. "

"There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors."

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Is Democracy Always A Good Thing?

Sometimes realpolitik must intrude on our idealistic intentions. While democracy is worth championing around the world, it is more important to support the forces of liberty and freedom. Democracy alone is not enough:
Islamic fundamentalists who oppose U.S. interests in the Middle East have benefited from the U.S. policy of promoting democracy, making significant gains in recent elections.
Promoting democracy should "obviously" be part of U.S. policy, says Richard Haass, a senior State Department official in
President Bush's first term. But there's debate about whether it is outweighing other foreign policy goals, he says.
That is a very worthwhile debate.

More Comforting Words From Iran

Ynetnews:
Iran's Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said Wednesday that the country and its allies could put Israel "in an eternal coma," like that of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, if Israel attempts to attack the Muslim republic.

"Israel does not have the courage to attack Iran, and if it commits such a big mistake, the defenders of Islamic Iran will put Israel in an eternal coma like Sharon," he said in a television appearance.

Michael Jackson: Muslim Woman?

AP:
Michael Jackson visited a mall in Bahrain's capital Wednesday, covering himself in a black abaya robe traditionally worn by conservative Bahraini women and a veil hiding his face.
The veil, abaya and gloves were of a style typically worn by conservative Bahraini women, though Jackson appeared to be wearing them to hide his identity.
Ya think?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Optimism In Iraq And Afghanistan

BBC:
Iraqis and Afghans are among the most optimistic people in the world when it comes to their economic future, a new survey for the BBC suggests.
The poll did not include Chinese train passengers.

Worse Than Amtrak

Reuters:
Migrant workers in south China are wearing adult diapers on packed trains heading home for the Lunar New Year holiday because they have no access to a toilet, state media said Tuesday. About 120 million peasants from China's vast rural areas swarm the cities for work and all try to make it home for the holiday, filling all standing room on trains and making access to the toilet impossible during trips often lasting 24 hours or more.

Google Agrees To Censorship

AP:
Online search engine leader Google Inc. has agreed to censor its results in China, adhering to the country's free-speech restrictions in return for better access in the Internet's fastest growing market.
Google is not completely selling out, though:
Neither Google's e-mail nor blogging services will be offered in China because the company doesn't want to risk being ordered by the government to turn over anyone's personal information. The e-mail service, called Gmail, creates a huge database of users' messages and makes them instantly searchable. The blogging services contain a wide range of personal background.

Yahoo came under fire last year after it provided the government with the e-mail account information of a Chinese journalist who was later convicted for violating state secrecy laws.

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Next Scandal At The U.N.?

First, there was Oil-for-Food. Now, there's this:
The focus of the current scandal is U.N. peacekeeping, a function that consumes 85 percent of the U.N.'s procurement budget — a cost that could reach $2 billion in 2005. Like many of the U.N.'s financial dealings, it is shrouded in secrecy. And like the multi-billion-dollar Oil-for-Food scandal, it is wrapped in what the U.N.'s own investigators now call "systematic abuse," "a pattern of corrupt practices," and "a culture of impunity."

In all, U.N. investigators have charged that nearly one-third of the $1 billion in major U.N. procurement contracts that they examined involved waste, corruption or other irregularities — $298 million in all. And that total covered slightly less than one-third of the $3.2 billion in major supply contracts that the U.N. has signed in the past five years.

Changing The Subject

What do you do when you're a dictator who may have ordered the murder of a political opponent? What else, but blame Israel for something like the death of Yasser Arafat:
The Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has caused outrage by accusing Israel of murdering Yasser Arafat.

He used what was billed as a speech on democratic reform to accuse Israel of a "methodical and organised" killing.

Mr Assad, who himself is suspected of ordering the killing of the Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, said: "Of the many assassinations that Israel carried out in a methodical and organised way, the most dangerous thing that Israel did was the assassination of President Yasser Arafat."
This is barely worth a response, but:
"When the Syrian president thinks up this sort of delusional accusation one has to wonder what is going on behind the scenes in Damascus," said Israel's foreign ministry spokesman Mark Ragev. "We have said on more than one occasion that we are for a full public disclosure of Mr Arafat's medical documentation. We have nothing to fear from full transparency."

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Second Class Status For Non-Muslims In Malaysia

AFP:
Malaysia's non-Muslim ministers have withdrawn a controversial memorandum which called on Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to protect the rights of religious minorities, local media said.
The ministers came under fire from several colleagues at Wednesday's weekly cabinet meeting after they submitted the memo, which calls for a review of laws and the constitution where they infringe on minorities' rights.

Their unusual move followed the controversial Muslim burial of well-known mountaineer M Moorthy over his Hindu wife's protests, which sparked outrage among religious minorities.

Moorthy was found to have converted to Islam by a sharia court in which his non-Muslim wife had no say. A civil court later refused to rule on the religious court's findings.

Abdullah said he met several of the non-Muslim ministers at his residence over the weekend to convince them to retract the memorandum.
I wonder how they were "convinced".
Religious minorities in mainly-Muslim Malaysia say non-Muslims are increasingly losing out in legal disputes to Muslims, whose matters are heard in sharia courts in the country's dual legal system.

Malaysia's constitution says civil courts have no jurisdiction on matters under sharia courts.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Sympathy For The Devil

Rather than tell us about the innocent victims of terrorism, the New York Times would rather humanize a monster, and sympathize with his family and friends who believe that the would-be killer is a martyr.
Sami Antar, 21, in his second year of physical education studies at An Najah University here, left the apartment at 8 a.m. Thursday. In the afternoon, he blew himself up on behalf of the militant group Islamic Jihad in Tel Aviv, in a zone of shops and restaurants, but killed only himself. About 20 Israelis, ordinary people going about their daily business, were wounded, one of them seriously.
Assem, another friend and relative, has a baby face, which ran with tears. He hugged a woman in black.

"He's a martyr," she cried.

"But he's gone," Assem replied. His cellphone rang. He answered in English: "I'm sorry, I can't come now, because one of my friends became a martyr."
We should be thankful that the only person killed was Sami Antar, although he did cause many injuries. What effect does terrorism have on the friends and families of its victims? I'd rather read about that. Instead, the NY Times gives us the eulogy of a terrorist.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Media Watch-AP

At least two AP stories about the latest tape from Osama bin Laden include a picture of the mass-murdering terrorist that refers to him merely as an "exiled Saudi dissident".

Who's The Cowboy Now?

Chirac talks tough:
France said on Thursday it would be ready to use nuclear weapons against any state that carried out a terrorist attack against it, reaffirming the need for its nuclear deterrent.
"The leaders of states who would use terrorist means against us, as well as those who would consider using in one way or another weapons of mass destruction, must understand that they would lay themselves open to a firm and adapted response on our part," Chirac said during a visit to a nuclear submarine base in northwestern France.

"This response could be a conventional one. It could also be of a different kind."
Update: This is actually a very important statement, which is obviously meant to send a message to Iran. From QandO:
Chirac said, in effect, France would not be held hostage by Iran if Iran used nuclear weapons elsewhere. He is saying France reserves the right to strike the offending country with nuclear weapons and will risk it's retaliatory strike.

It's a brave and bold statement, and, despite our differences, we should welcome it as a critical stance at a crucial time as we search for an effective way to deal with Iran.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Faulty Intelligence?

Last week it was widely reported that a U.S. missile attack in eastern Pakistan killed only civilians. The intended target, al-Qaeda's second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was not present. Based on reports from Pakistani intelligence, media reports cited faulty intelligence, since they believed that only civilians were killed.

Did the media use the best information that was available, or were they too quick to make assumptions without seeking out the whole story? Did they want to believe that the U.S. military made a grave error?

Now, it appears that some big fish were killed in the attack.
Pakistani intelligence sources on Thursday identified three of four al Qaeda members believed to have been killed by a U.S. airstrike last week, though they have yet to recover the bodies.

One of the dead was said to be Abdul Rehman Al-Misri al Maghribi, a son-in-law of al Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahri. Maghribi was responsible for al Qaeda's media department.

Another was Midhat Mursi al-Sayid 'Umar, an expert in explosives and poisons who carried a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head under the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Rewards for Justice program.
Reuters neglects to mention that this explosives expert was al-Qaeda's chief bomb maker.
The third man identified was Abu Obaidah al Misri, al Qaeda's chief of operations in Afghanistan's eastern Kunar province, where U.S. and Afghan forces regularly come under attack from militant groups.

The Pakistani intelligence officers said they were still trying to identify a fourth al Qaeda member who was also believed to have been killed in last Friday's airstrike.
From another report:
"Pakistani intelligence says this was a very important planning session involving the very top levels of al Qaeda as they get ready for a new spring offensive," explained Alexis Debat, a former official in the French Defense Ministry and now an ABC News consultant

As for Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda's No. 2 man, U.S. and Pakistani officials agree that it is still possible but increasingly unlikely that he was killed. If he is alive, he has lost many of those close to him, however.

"Zawahiri, if he slept three hours on a normal night, he's sleeping an hour and a half right now with his eyes wide open," Cloonan said. "He's looking around right now and wondering who handed him up. Not a nice feeling."

More Thoughts On Iran

What to do about Iran? As usual, it appears that the United Nations will fail to take any serious action.
If Europeans and the United States succeed in referring Iran's nuclear program to the U.N. Security Council, sanctions or other enforcement actions would be a long way off, if imposed at all.

But at a minimum the West is counting on a political and diplomatic embarrassment for Tehran, which this month removed U.N. inspection seals on uranium enrichment equipment, deepening suspicions it is seeking nuclear arms.
That sounds like a plan. Embarrass Iran into giving up its quest for nuclear weapons. What's next, the comfy chair?
"Iranians are very proud and don't want to become a pariah state like
North Korea," said Edward Luck, a Columbia University professor specializing in U.N. affairs. "I think they would find it very unattractive."
Why consider sanctions when you can apply peer pressure? Sure, now I'm convinced, but only if the Iranian government is made up of teenage girls.

Now, somebody who makes sense-Amir Taheri:
This is one of those regimes that will not stop until they hit something hard. Why should they, when they can pursue their objectives cost-free? Soft power may work — if it is backed by hard power. Yet Europe has, once again, made it clear that it would oppose even the threat of hard power.

As things stand, all those concerned in this carnival of absurdities have reason to be happy: The Europeans get rid of the hot potato, the Bush administration finds a diplomatic fig-leaf to cover its lack of an Iran policy, the Russians sell their arms, the Chinese get their oil and gas and the Islamists in Tehran accelerate whatever mischief they might be up to in the nuclear domain.

But the problem remains unresolved. Down the road, the West may well find that it would have to use far more than the mere threat of hard power to restrain Tehran's messianic ambitions — a much costlier bill than would have been the case three years ago.
Well, what should we be doing? Why not do unto the Iranians as they like to do unto others, and attempt to destabilize their government from within? We are told of the unpopularity of the Iranian regime amongst its own people. Why not use that? Why not provide support to those who oppose the mullahs, but currently lack the means to take action? Use the disaffected youth of Iran, instead of provoking them and turning them against us. Is our government doing this already?

QandO has more on this approach, with some help from Mark Steyn.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Media Watch: The Guardian On The Death Penalty

Can you tell how they feel about it?
Blind killer, 76, executed

A 76-year-old blind wheelchair-user who was also almost deaf was today executed in California after the US supreme court rejected an appeal that he was too frail to face the death penalty.
Yes, the state of California killed a disabled, old man. What did he do to be sentenced to death? Here's the next paragraph:
Clarence Ray Allen was sentenced to death in 1982 for ordering the murder of a witness to his murder of his son's 17-year-old girlfriend, who he had killed to stop her telling police about his robbery of a grocery store.
The ironic part:
Allen's heart stopped in September, but doctors revived him and returned him to death row.
"We've got to save him, so we can kill him."

Monday, January 16, 2006

Mt. Gore Erupts

Gateway Pundit tells all. The anger that I've seen from Mr. Gore since the 2000 election, and from Ted Kennedy at the Alito hearings does not help the Democratic party.

Update: Tigerhawk on Al Gore: "Al Gore was for 'extraordinary rendition' before he was against it."

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Thoughts on Iran

A lot is being written about Iran, and this article in the Sunday Times sums up the current situation quite well:
WHEN President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed the United Nations for the first time last September, he had a mystical, out of body experience. On his return to Iran he said: “One of our group told me that when I started to say, ‘In the name of the God, the almighty and merciful’, he saw a light around me and I was placed inside this aura.”
Ahmadinejad is said to believe in the return of the 12th imam, the Mahdi, who will restore peace and justice at the end of the world.
Iran’s decision to break the UN seals at its nuclear enrichment plant in Natanz last week has placed the international community in a quandary.

Was it a shrewd piece of Iranian realpolitik designed to win approval at home and to spread fear abroad, or the actions of an Islamic fanatic and avowed Holocaust denier obsessed with destroying the Jewish state? And whatever the Iranian president’s motivation, can he be stopped?
Read it all.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Media Watch

A couple of items caught my eye today. First, AFP makes an interesting comment about Hamas:
Israel and the United States both regard Hamas, responsible for the majority of attacks during a five-year Palestinian uprising, as a terrorist organisation despite its embrace of the democratic process.
(Emphasis is mine). Excuse me? I have a suggestion for a new slogan for Hamas: "Stone the Vote".

Next, it's time for the Guardian to break out the sneer quotes in an article about Iran.
US and Europe threaten Tehran with sanctions

· Rice condemns 'defiance' as talks break down
The threats from the US and Europe are real, but the claim of defiance; maybe not so much.

What To Do About Iran?

Austin Bay has a thorough post, which concludes with a paragraph from an earlier column:
The real solution is regime change in Tehran. The EU and the United States have talked about supporting the mullahs' political opponents, but they have not walked that walk with sufficient financial aid, political support, media support and -- yes, it may be necessary -- weapons. Iran's tyrants believe they can finesse diplomatic discourse and ride out a military strike. They fear they cannot quell a popular, pro-democracy rebellion.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Two Sides

In order to be well informed, it's important to seek out news and opinion from a number of sources. Here's a story from the NY Times: "Extra Armor Could Have Saved Many Lives, Study Shows"
A secret Pentagon study has found that at least 80 percent of the marines who have been killed in Iraq from wounds to their upper body could have survived if they had extra body armor. That armor has been available since 2003 but until recently the Pentagon has largely declined to supply it to troops despite calls from the field for additional protection, according to military officials.
Faces From the Front has an opinion:
I wore a vest similar to those worn by regular street cops. I had the same helmet the Marines wore, but occasionally would go without it.

I put on the armor worn by the Marines to try it out. The vest, with the ceramic ballistic plates weighed 30 pounds. When you added in ammo, radios, grenades, a camel back, helmet and other gear, the load quickly got up 70 or 80 pounds.

My experience is that the Marines would gladly take their armor off anytime it was permitted, and, if offered the choice, would probably go without armor except in situations like raiding a target house.
As I've been paying closer attention to the media, one thing I've noticed is that news articles often contain bits of information buried within an agenda. Blogs can help to take the information and show it in a different light, giving a fresh perspective to the news. Read both items, and form your own opinion.

Update: QandO has more.

A Killer On The Loose

According to a DNA test that was obtained by the victim's family, a killer is free to roam, and possibly kill again. This murderer's name is Lucky:
When Loudoun County [VA] officials dropped the case of Lucky the dog killing Cody the cat, Cody's owner took a cue from television's legal dramas.

She hired a laboratory to analyze DNA evidence she collected from her neighbors' pet to prove he was the killer.

After discovering Cody's body under a tree in front of her home in August, Marylin Christian set out to find the killer. She went to Lucky's owners, neighbors Sean and Janet Daryabeygi, who consented to giving her samples of Lucky's saliva and fur.

A lab in California confirmed Christian's suspicions.

Christian said that since Cody was killed, she has repeatedly asked Lucky's owners to return the dog to the local animal shelter, where they adopted him in the summer.

The Daryabeygis think she's asking too much. They said Lucky would never harm a human, though they don't dispute that the German shepherd mix could have been a cat killer.

"It's the nature of the dog chasing cats, squirrels and small animals," said Sean Daryabeygi, who said his neighbor "is obsessed with something natural."

Christian asked the county to declare Lucky dangerous, a legal designation that requires the owner to carry at least $50,000 in liability insurance; keep the dog locked up at home; and muzzle it during walks. But county officials say they need an eyewitness, which they don't have, to make a case.
Bad dog!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Now, Just The Women...

As devout Muslims make their pilgrimage to Mecca as a sign of their faith, what better way to celebrate this faith than this:
Man: The Audience will now split into two groups: One group will settle the score with America, and the other will settle the score with Israel. This group now: Death to America!

Crowd: Death to America!

Man: Death to Israel!

Crowd: Death to Israel! Death to America!

Man: Death to America!

Crowd: Death to America!

Man: Death to America!

Crowd: Death to Israel! Death to America! Death to Israel!

Man: All together now: Death to America! Death to Israel!

Crowd: Death to America! Death to Israel! Death to America! Death to Israel! Death to America! Death to Israel! Death to America! Death to Israel!
(Via LGF).

Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Culture Of Death And Misogyny

Jerusalem Post:
Fatah gunmen on Saturday threatened to shut the offices of the pan-Arab Al-Arabiyah satellite TV station in the West Bank and Gaza Strip after accusing it of "defaming" Palestinian female suicide bombers and their families.

Leaflets distributed by Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, demanded that the Dubai-based station apologize to the families in particular and the Palestinians in general within 24 hours or else its offices would be closed.
Al-Arabiyah's "misdeed' is that it aired a documentary about female suicide bombers.
One of the women interviewed for the film is Nawal El Saadawi, a leading Egyptian feminist, sociologist, medical doctor and militant writer on Arab women's problems.

Since she began to write over 25 years ago, El Saadawi's books have all focused on Arab women, their sexuality and legal status. From the start, her writings were considered controversial and dangerous for the society, and were banned in Egypt.

In 1977, she published her most famous work, The Hidden Face of Eve, which covered a host of topics relative to Arab women such as aggression against female children and female genital mutilation, prostitution, sexual relationships, marriage and divorce and Islamic fundamentalism.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Media Watch: Reuters On The Boston Mosque

Recently, I wrote about the controversy surrounding the construction of a huge mosque in Boston's Roxbury neighborhood by the Islamic Society of Boston. Reuters presents their version of events, and frames this story as Jewish villains versus Muslim victims. Get out your crying towel.
...construction of the $24.5 million center has been stalled by lawsuits and a deepening row between Jewish and Muslim leaders that reflects broader suspicions facing American Muslims after the September 11 attacks.
Jews as villains, Muslims as victims alert #1.
The Islamic Society denies any connection to terrorism and considers itself victimized by a campaign to taint the mosque with accusations of ties to radical Islamic teachings. The society says it has repeatedly distanced itself from anti-Jewish statements by some of its leaders.

Among Jewish concerns is whether a former Islamic Society trustee -- outspoken Egyptian Sunni cleric Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi -- praised Hamas and Hizbollah, which the U.S. State Department regards as terrorist organizations.
What has this "outspoken" man said? Reuters won't tell you, but I will:
In 1995, al-Qaradawi gave an address at the Muslim Arab Youth Association's convention in Toledo, Ohio where he vowed that Islam would "conquer Europe" and "conquer America." Earlier this past year, Al-Qaradawi declared that women should never lead men in prayers, calling the idea "heresy."

This was a step backward from al-Qaradawi's previously progressive attitude towards women: In 2003, he became the first prominent cleric to unequivocally support the concept of female suicide bombers. Al-Qaradawi declared that "women's participation in the martyrdom operations . . . is one of the most praised acts of worship."
There's more:
A website in Qatar associated with society trustee Yousef al-Qaradawi, an internationally known leader of extremists, calls for gays to be executed by either stoning or burning. Al-Qaradawi has been barred from the United States.
The library of the society's current Cambridge mosque contains literature containing vitriol directed against Christians, Jews, and Americans. While mosque spokesmen speak of ''dialogue" and tolerance, Qaradawi says ''there is no dialogue between us [and the Jews] except by the sword and the rifle."
Back to the Reuters article:
"Unfortunately, I see the Boston case as indicative of a growing trend in anti-Muslim rhetoric that has grown after 9/11," said Arsalan Iftikhar, legal director of the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation's largest American Muslim civil rights group.

"It has especially impacted local Muslim communities in terms of building their mosques," he said. "High concentrations of Muslim populations are being given a hard time for just trying to practice their faith."
Muslims as victims alert #2. I'd love to see some substantiation of CAIR's claims. Where in the United States do Muslims have trouble practicing their faith? As CAIR often does, rather than addressing the issues, it claims victimhood.
"There is definitely fear in the fund-raising community about giving to Islamic organizations," said the Islamic Society's assistant director, Salma Kazmi.

"Everyone is worried about their name appearing on a list and whether they will get visited by the FBI," she said. "People want us to publish our donor list but if we do that we would never get any donations because everyone feels they'll be subject to all kinds of harassment."
Muslims as victims alert #3.

Reuters waits until the end to mention the most relevant issues:
A full-page advertisement in Boston's Jewish Advocate newspaper on Thursday accused the Islamic Society of using litigation to stifle discussion and of failing to answer questions raised by Jewish leaders who say July's bombings in London sharpened their concerns over mosques and terrorism.

One separate lawsuit brought by a city resident seeks Boston to force the Islamic Society to return the land under the mosque to the city, charging that the Boston Redevelopment Authority breached constitutional divisions between state and religion by selling the site at below-market value.
Does that mean that the mosque's critics may be justified? Don't ask Reuters.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The DHS Budget

Fred Kaplan looks at promised changes in the ways that the homeland security budget is spent. He still sees plenty of pork:
The Department of Homeland Security announced this week—and several newspapers duly reported—that it's going to start giving more anti-terrorist grants to big cities that are really vulnerable to attack, as opposed to small, safe towns that have thus far been reaping the fruits of political patronage. In fact, however, the actual DHS budget numbers reveal no such trend. If anything, big cities may get less money than before.
Read it all.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Sharon: The Headlines

1. Sharon suffers massive brain hemorrhage:
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, a dominant figure for decades in shaping the Middle East, suffered a massive brain hemorrhage on Wednesday and doctors battled to save his life.
2. Sharon Suffers Life-Threatening Stroke:
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a massive,life-threatening stroke Wednesday and underwent lengthy surgery to drain blood from his brain after falling ill at his ranch. Powers were transferred to his deputy, Ehud Olmert.
3. World leaders wish for Sharon's recovery:
World leaders on Wednesday delivered best wishes to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who had been hospitalized in Jerusalem after suffering a "significant stroke" and a cerebral hemorrhage.
4. Jibril: Sharon illness is 'God's gift':
"We say it frankly that God is great and is able to exact revenge on this butcher. ... We thank God for this gift he presented to us on this new year," Ahmed Jibril, leader of the Syrian-backed faction Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, a small radical group, told the Associated Press.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Gaza Report Card: F

If Lebanon is a model of democracy in the Middle East, then what is Gaza? Martin Peretz:
The withdrawal from Gaza by Israel was supposed to be a test. OK, not of everything but of something. Take your pick. That the hudna (ceasefire) would hold. It didn't. Islamic Jihad hadn't even signed on to the contract. It carried out several successful terrorist attacks and day in, day out launched rockets from Gaza deeper and deeper into pre-1967 Israel. But, in a way, even more serious is the fact that the most protracted war by Qassam projectiles was waged by armed elements of Fatah, the P.A. president's own political party. What about security undertakings with regard to Gaza's border with Egypt? Again a failure. Weapons and terrorists have surged, not seeped, through the frontier that is also "guaranteed" by various European well-wishers. Is there elemental public order on the streets? Not at all. What about the assumption that there would be sufficient pressure from the Palestinian public for the P.A. to feel obliged to take control of the streets? Not enough pressure or not enough will to take control. The P.A. is still the most heavily armed force in Gaza. No matter: Militias battle police, police battle other police, gangs brawl with other gangs; there are revenge killings, aimless killings, kidnappings, bombings, clubbings, mutilations, some pointless, some unmistakably pointed. Chaos rules in Gaza, utter mayhem.
Don't tell me. It's all Israel's fault.

(Via Instapundit).

Lebanon The Model

Is there already a democracy in the Middle East that can inspire the citizens of other countries in the region? Michael Totten thinks so:
From a distance Lebanon may look like a typical Middle East country racked with the usual chaos, but it isn't. What makes this place unique is that the Lebanese political system is nearly incapable of producing dictatorship. The three main sects in this country--Christian, Sunni, and Shiite--do not share the same political ideals and values. They do, however, share power, since every group here is a minority. By tradition, the president is always a Christian, the prime minister a Sunni, and the speaker of Parliament a Shiite. Parliament decides who fills the top three government posts, and members of Parliament are elected by the people of Lebanon. Each sect's parliamentary bloc keeps the others in check. The result is a weak state and a de facto near-libertarianism. Syria and Iraq, which also are composed of rival ethnic-religious sects, may do well under a similar system.

Media Watch-AP

From a "Mideast Conflict" slideshow, comes this caption:
Um Nidal, mother of three Palestinian martyrs delivering a speech at a celebration at the18th foundation anniversary of Palestinian militant group, Hamas, on Friday Dec.30, 2005, in the Syrian capital, Damascus.
"Martyrs"? Nope, no bias here.

(Via LGF).

Update: Robert Spencer has more on Um[m] Nidal, who is a candidate for the Palestinian Legislative Council.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Headline Of The Day

Reuters: "Suicide bomber dies in Afghan attack"

Well, yeah.

The Egypt-Gaza Border

An editorial in yesterday's Washington Post:
On Friday protesting policemen stormed and briefly closed the border crossing between Gaza and Egypt, the opening of which has been one of the few successes of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Today, from Reuters:
Palestinians have smuggled anti-aircraft missiles into the
Gaza Strip along with tons of other military hardware since
Israel withdrew in September, an Israeli intelligence report said on Monday.

The missiles were smuggled into Gaza across the border from Egypt, the Shin Bet security agency's report said.
I guess it all depends on how you define "success".

(Via LGF).

Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Year's Eve In France

Maybe I'm just old-fashioned, or maybe I'm just a crass American. I don't quite get how some people celebrate holidays by setting cars on fire. On the other hand, I'm not surprised to see the media referring to arsonists as "rowdy revelers".

AP:
Rowdy revelers in France torched 425 vehicles overnight in scattered New Year's Eve unrest that has become an annual problem in troubled neighborhoods, the national police chief said Sunday. Last year, 333 cars were burned.

Police Chief Michel Gaudin also said there were no major clashes this year between youths and police overnight. Police were particularly vigilant this time because of the three weeks of rioting and arson that took place in October.
425 cars burned on a night when police were "particularly vigilant". Thanks to Inspector Clouseau.