Believing the impossible 7

Many stories like this one (dated April 19, 2012) can be found on the Internet:

A Sri Lankan woman is currently facing decapitation by sword on a witchcraft charge in Saudi Arabia

Who brought the charge, and why?

A Saudi man complained that in a shopping mall his 13-year-old daughter “suddenly started acting in an abnormal way, which happened after she came close to the Sri Lankan woman,” reports the daily Okaz.

After the local man denounced the Sri Lankan for casting a spell on his daughter, police in the port city of Jeddah found it sufficient cause to arrest the woman.

She was tried, found guilty, and sentenced to death by decapitation.

For witchcraft.  

Witchcraft and sorcery imply only one measure in Saudi Arabia – beheading. And it works this way in practice: last year in the kingdom at least two people – a woman in her 60s and a Sudanese man – were beheaded on witchcraft charges.

Hugh Fitzgerald writes today at Front Page:

From Saudi Arabia comes the news that the mutaween, the feared religious police under the control of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, who patrol the streets and regulate the daily life of the populace, are now being given five-day courses in how to recognize, and then how to neutralize, a small army of wizards, witches, ghosts, demons, fortunetellers in the Magic Kingdom. Apparently it’s a big problem. Why, there have even been reports of leprechaun-like creatures – possibly they’ve wandered down from the Old Sod to end up in the Empty Quarter – who find it great fun to persuade innocent Saudis to break the rules of Sharia. All these dealers in the magical and supernatural will be hunted down, and dealt with sternly, by the Saudi religious police — “sternly” can mean anything from long prison sentences to decapitation.

Such worries are not new to the Saudis, however — the official anti-witchcraft unit within the Ministry of the Interior was first formed in May 2009.

The reason the Saudis are so worried about wizards and witches is that the Saudi people, like other Muslims, are especially vulnerable to the appeal of the occult. Muslims learn from the Qur’an that there exists an intelligent creature (the only other intelligent creature in the universe, according to Islamic doctrine, aside from humans and angels), called the Djinn (or Jinn), whose meddling with humans explains Evil, as well as health and illness, wealth and poverty, that Man as a creature of fate – where everything may be inshallah but is not necessarily hunky-dory — may enjoy or endure.

Evil djinn — not all djinn in Islam are bad – can take possession of people and cause them to behave in wicked ways.

This is not foreign to, but part of, orthodox Islam. Fortunately, there are those who, after appropriate training, can become qualified exorcisers of the evil djinn, using special Qur’anically-approved healing methods. There are also those who have not undergone training to be exorcists and who use methods which have not been approved, and this gets them into trouble with officials even if their methods prove effective. The Saudi witchcraft-hunt offers us a glimpse of the Bizarro-World that we enter whenever we penetrate the world of Islam.

In the West, we hardly bother to denounce those who claim to be witches and wizards, exorcists and fortunetellers, that is, all who lay claim to supernatural powers, because we know, as rational creatures, that they are frauds and fakes, they cannot possibly have these powers. And because we don’t believe any of that stuff, we don’t worry about them in this, our Western world, the dutiful child of the Enlightenment and rationalism. If we punish any fortunetellers or magicians at all, it’s only because they have charged for services we know are worthless and we want them to disgorge their ill-gotten gains. Witchcraft has not been taken seriously, i.e. as effective, since Salem, when outside it was 1692.

But in the Islamic world, magic (bad or black magic and good magic) is everywhere and taken very seriously – i.e., thought to be effective – indeed. In the Islamic world, belief in witchcraft, magic, sorcery of all kinds, is widespread. Fear of black magic is pervasive. Fortunetellers, witches and wizards, exorcists of bad djinn are to be found everywhere. And this is because Magic and the Occult are very much a part of Muslim teachings and Muslim life.

The Occult – the Djinn – transmitted by the Qur’an, helps to explain the widespread belief in other kinds of sorcery and magic in the Muslim world. But it is not the whole explanation for that belief. The heightened vulnerability of Muslims to the promise and threat of assorted wizards, fortunetellers, sorcerers, and exorcists, as compared to the sturdy resistance of rational Western man, is to be explained also by the more general effect of Islam’s encouragement of the habit of mental submission, and its punishment of skepticism. A good Muslim never questions any of the teachings of Islam, and the observant Muslim state (as Saudi Arabia certainly is) punishes those Muslims who dare to demonstrate the least display of skepticism (the end-point of that skepticism is apostasy, punishable by death). The result is that Muslims, even without the whole business of the Djinn, inhabit a mental universe of encouraged credulity.

Well, not all of that is true. While it is important to remember that the Enlightenment was confined to the West – and that it did not touch Islam – it did not abolish Western superstition. Christians continue to believe the impossible. They believe that a virgin gave birth; that God is both One and Three, and all-human at the same time as being all-divine; that “Jesus” walked on water, brought a dead person back to life, and performed various other impossible feats; that he himself came back to life after being dead for three days; that he now lives eternally in a physical heaven … The list of magic events and conditions in which Christians believe could be very long.

In addition to which, many Christian denominations, including Catholics, do practice exorcisms. So do most of the organized religions. Commonly, a ritual is performed, a priest says this and that, and at the end of it a claim is made (often if not always ) that “an evil spirit” has been expelled  from a person who was “possessed” by it.   

Christianity and Judaism draw a firm distinction between “magic” and “miracles”.

We fail to see the difference.

Posted under Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Religion general, Saudi Arabia by Jillian Becker on Thursday, February 25, 2016

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The American caliph 3

We quote Paul Sperry’s article at Investor’s Business Daily, titled Can America Survive Obama’s Pro-Muslim Bias?:

In a new NPR interview, President Obama complains that “strains in the Republican party suggest that somehow I’m different, I’m Muslim, I’m disloyal to the country, which unfortunately is pretty far out there”.

Is it?

While there’s no evidence to suggest Obama is a practicing Muslim, there is plenty to suggest he is disloyal. He not only shares Muslim hatred for America and Israel, but actually sympathizes with the endless anti-Western grievances lodged by Muslim terrorists.

The reason the president won’t engage this enemy is because he sides with it, not because he can’t see it or understand it. It is not a matter of incompetence. It is a matter of bias.

If this sounds like betrayal, that is because it is.

Here is a bill of indictment:

Count 1:In 1995, in his first memoir, Obama shares the “rage” of his Kenyan Muslim grandfather who he claims was tortured by British colonizers, while exalting his Muslim-convert brother Roy, who swore off “the poisoning influences of European culture,” as “the person who made me proudest of all”.

Count 2:In 2004, in a little-noticed preface to his re-released memoir, the newly elected senator implied that America was punished for past wrongs on 9/11, writing that “history returned with a vengeance” on that terrible day.

Count 3:In 2006, in his second memoir, Obama vowed that he “will stand with” Arab and Pakistani Muslims to protect “their sense of security” should their community be implicated in another terror attack on America.

Count 4:In 2009, Obama in his first foreign speech apologized to world Muslims for the War on Terror, inviting banned Muslim Brotherhood leaders to sit on the front row of his Cairo address, while declaring “Islam is not part of the problem” and demanding that Israel give Palestinians “a state of their own”. 

Count 5:That same year, Obama stopped cold a major investigation of terror-supporting Muslim Brotherhood front groups and mosques following the successful prosecution of Brotherhood charities by U.S. attorneys.

Count 6:Then he ordered the FBI and Homeland Security to delete “jihad” from counterterrorism manuals and fire all trainers who linked terrorism to Islam.

Count 7:Obama vowed to close the Guantanamo Bay military prison and bring 9/11 terrorists to America, where they would enjoy full rights, including habeas corpus, in civilian courts.

Count 8:As Obama kicked off a two-day summit on combating generic “violent extremism”, he argued that Muslim terrorists have “legitimate grievances” that must be addressed.

Count 9:He also asserted that “the Muslim world has suffered historical grievances”, and blamed the rash of global terrorism in part on “a history of colonialism” in the Mideast, Africa and South Asia.

Count 10:At the National Prayer Breakfast, Obama told Christians to get off their “high horse” about Muslim terrorism and “remember the terrible deeds in the name of Christ” committed by Crusaders 1,000 years ago.

Count 11: He credited Muslims with “building the very fabric of our nation” and “the core of our democracy”.

Count 12:The president boycotted January’s world march against terrorism in Paris following the slaughter of anti-Islamist cartoonists by two French Algerians, in a shocking move that would have made Obama’s late hero, Algerian mujahedeen Frantz Fanon, proud.

Count 13:Obama agreed to release five Taliban commanders for a POW who he knew was a deserter and who may turn out to be a traitor.

Count 14: Obama removed sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missile program, despite overwhelming evidence by Israeli and U.S. intelligence showing that Tehran is developing nuclear weapons to wipe our closest and most trusted Mideast ally off the map.

Count 15:Obama broke his promise to 9/11 families to release the 28 pages documenting Saudi Arabian and other foreign Muslim sponsorship of the 9/11 attacks.

Count 16: The president insists on calling ISIS “ISIL” — which stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant — because it includes “Palestine”, a slap at Israel.

Count 17: Despite his entire security team warning that such Muslim immigrants cannot be screened for terrorist ties and evidence that ISIS has infiltrated their ranks, Obama stubbornly insists on bringing another 10,000 Syrian refugees to the U.S.

Count 18: In the heat of the San Bernardino attacks, as bodies were being removed from the scene, Obama called a high-level security meeting to keep a lid on the Muslim connection.

Count 19: In his prime-time terrorism speech, the president spent half his time warning Americans not to blame Muslims.

Count 20: Obama insists on emptying Gitmo of terrorist prisoners, even after one of his earlier releases re-emerged as a leader of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

Count 21: The Obama regime has invited members of Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood front groups to serve in the Homeland Security and State departments, and meet regularly with the attorney general, as well as the president and his security advisors in the White House.

Obama is hellbent on shuttering the detention camp and is queuing up for release another 17 dangerous al-Qaida terrorists, earlier classified as “forever detainees” due to the high threat they pose to America.

Americans should know that if we are attacked again in a major way in his remaining 13 months in office, Obama “will stand with” Muslims over Americans, meaning that he will continue to back off radical mosques, refuse to connect terrorism to Islam and continue to hold open the floodgates to mass Muslim immigration.

This president, who had Pakistani roommates in college, is more concerned about “their sense of security” than non-Muslims threatened by Muslim terrorism like the massacre carried out by the two Pakistani Muslims who attacked San Bernardino.

What if the enemy of the state is actually the head of state?

The bill of indictment, long and bad as it is, is incomplete. It does not, for instance, include Obama’s instruction to NASA to concentrate on reaching out to Muslims rather than to outer space; nor his close friendship with President Erdogan of Turkey; nor his persistent persecution of Israel; nor his long refusal to allow the assassination of Osama bin Laden and his reluctance in finally permitting it; nor – worst of all –  his fanatical wooing of Iran, in the course of which he has given the regime everything it has demanded, and swept away every impediment to its becoming a nuclear armed power.    

Sperry’s list is more than sufficient, however, to make the case. As we have been saying for years: Yes, the enemy of the state is actually the head of state.

Atheists who do as Christians do 11

Atheists of the Left – “Humanists” some call themselves – often reveal with unconscious irony how close Leftism is to Christianity: the same moral myopia, hubris, and sentimentality.

In order to enjoy the cheap emotional satisfaction of feeling they are “good people”, they go in for this sort of thing.

We quote from the Friendly Atheist at Patheos:

After the Daily Caller News Foundation posted a map of supposed “radical mosques” in the U.S., it wasn’t long before threats were made against them.

But in a wonderful gesture on Monday, the Humanists of the Palouse reached out to the Muslims, sending them a letter of concern and offering whatever help they could:

To our Muslim friends in the Moscow/Pullman area,

Recently, we have been made aware of threats to our community, centered on the Pullman Islamic Center and it and many other Mosques being mis-reported as “radical”. In today’s climate, these threats should not be taken lightly, and we certainly do not. We fully support your right to practice religion free from harm and harassment.

We recognize your members as valued residents of the Palouse. The Humanists of the Palouse want you to know that we will always defend religious freedom and cultural diversity, and threats against these are threats against our very way of life. We stand with you, and offer our support.

If you feel threatened, please do not hesitate to contact us. We would be happy to accompany anyone who feels that their safety is at risk (e.g. grocery shopping, on a walk around town, or just for someone to talk to). If we can advocate for you in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us, and know that you have friends and allies amongst The Humanists of the Palouse.

The Center’s Board of Trustees soon issued this heartfelt response:

The entire Board of Trustees of the Pullman Islamic Association joins me in thanking you and the Humanists of the Palouse generally for this powerful statement affirming civil rights in this country. We are especially moved that a humanist group so completely supports the local Muslim group, since Islam is the most disrespected group in this country. We have noticed that the correct way to define and appreciate humanist groups in general and yours in particular is as lovers and defenders of civil rights, individual and group democratic dignities and freedom of thought, not as haters of religion. Your group’s neighborly defense of freedom of religion in the Palouse demonstrates your focus on freedom and social justice. We are impressed by and thankful for your firm support and offer of assistance and solidarity.

One of our Board of Trustees members is meeting with an FBI agent today, which demonstrates that the federal police are taking this threat seriously. Given this sobering reality of threatened arson and violence your support will always be appreciated by the leaders and membership of the Pullman Islamic Association. We hope we will not need to ask for your offered assistance, but if we do need or want such support, we will indeed reach out to Humanists of the Palouse.

That’s how you do it, friends.

You can disagree on theological issues, but I’d hope local atheist groups around the country would be willing to reach out to Muslims who are actually being persecuted by overzealous conservatives eager to shut them down.

If they lose their religious freedoms, we all do.

Can they possibly not know that sharia law – inseparable from the ideology of Islam – condemns apostasy, which is what atheism is deemed to be? And prescribes death as the punishment for atheists? (Atheist men; women not always.) In some Islamic lands they are imprisoned rather than executed. But all risk their lives, and such freedom as anyone has in a Muslim majority country.

These are reports of atheists, apostates, free thinkers who have been sentenced to prison, and/or flogging, and/or death in Islamic countries recently – the crime of atheism often being euphemized into something else in court. And some who have been killed by their Muslim compatriots.

1. From the Economist, on Alexander Aan in Indonesia:

A MOB attacked Alexander Aan even before an Indonesian court in June jailed him for two and a half years for “inciting religious hatred”.

His crime was to write “God does not exist” on a Facebook group he had founded for atheists in Minang, a province of the world’s most populous Muslim nation. Like most non-believers in Islamic regions, he was brought up as a Muslim. And like many who profess godlessness openly, he has been punished. …

Sharia law, which covers only Muslims unless incorporated into national law, assumes people are born into their parents’ religion. Thus ex-Muslim atheists are guilty of apostasy—a hudud crime against God, like adultery and drinking alcohol. Potential sanctions can be severe: eight states, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania and Sudan have the death penalty on their statute books for such offences. …

Most atheists are prosecuted for blasphemy or for inciting hatred. (Atheists born to non-Muslim families are not considered apostates, but they can still be prosecuted for other crimes against religion.) Even in places where laws are lenient, religious authorities and social attitudes can be harsh, with vigilantes inflicting beatings or beheadings.

Many, like Kacem el-Ghazzali, a Moroccan, reckon the only solution is to escape abroad. The 23-year-old was granted asylum in Switzerland after people found out he was the author of an anonymous blog, Atheistica.com. …

Nahla Mahmoud, a 25-year-old Sudanese atheist … fled to Britain in 2010. …

Ibn Warraq, the pseudonymous Indian-born author of “Leaving Islam”, a collection of essays by ex-believers, … lives in exile and has received death threats for campaigning on the behalf of apostates. … Arguments for the death penalty [he says] are usually based on a Hadith, one of the sayings which, along with the Koran, form the basis of Islamic law: “The Prophet said: whoever discards his religion, kill him.” …

Ibn Warraq says that the nub of the problem is that sharia makes atheism the number one sin, ahead of murder.  …

2. From the Guardian, on Ashraf Fayadh in Saudi Arabia:

A Palestinian poet and leading member of Saudi Arabia’s nascent contemporary art scene has been sentenced to death for renouncing Islam.

A Saudi court on Tuesday ordered the execution of Ashraf Fayadh, who has curated art shows in Jeddah and at the Venice Biennale. The poet, who said he did not have legal representation, was given 30 days to appeal against the ruling.

Fayadh, 35, a key member of the British-Saudi art organisation Edge of Arabia, was originally sentenced to four years in prison and 800 lashes by the general court in Abha, a city in the south-west of the ultraconservative kingdom, in May 2014. But after his appeal was dismissed he was retried earlier this month and a new panel of judges ruled that his repentance did not prevent his execution.

3. From Patheos, the Friendly Atheist itself, on Raif Badawi in Saudi Arabia:

December 26, 2013 by Paul Fidalgo [who is admirably scathing in his disgust – ed).

Saudi blogger and religious dissident Raif Badawi has been cruelly punished and toyed with by the Saudi legal system for about a year now, and things have taken a darker turn. According to Badawi’s wife, now living in Lebanon, the high court will try Badawi on the charge of apostasy. If convicted, Badawi could be executed.

This comes after a court opted not to charge him with apostasy in January, but did put him up on charges of “insulting Islam and showing disobedience”. How did they come to this decision? Badawi is the co-founder of a website called the Liberal Saudi Network, which is bad enough, but imagine the horror that washed over Saudi society with this kind of action:

The evidence against him included the fact that he pressed the “Like” button on a Facebook page for Arab Christians.

As a result of this heinous behavior, in July, Badawi was sentenced to 600 lashes and seven years in prison.

Which was horrifying enough. But now it looks like Badawi is being brought up on apostasy charges in earnest. Badawi’s case is one of many being watched by the Office of Public Policy at the Center for Inquiry, where I work, and our Campaign for Free Expression. Browse the cases we have listed there, and you’ll see that, sadly, Badawi’s case is hardly unique.

Cases like this need more international attention, and those who position themselves as “allies” of Saudi Arabia, such as the United States, need to discover their consciences. How can the civilized world refer to itself as such when an ally practices such barbarism, it looks the other way?

The judge in Badawi’s subsequent appeal stiffened the original 2013 sentence – seven years in prison and 600 lashes – to 1000 lashes, ten years in prison and a fine of $266,000. See our post, The punishment of reason, January 12, 2015, where there is an eyewitness description of the first of the series of lashings Badawi is being subjected to.

Badawi had written, “My commitment is… to reject any repression in the name of religion… a goal that we will reach in a peaceful, law-abiding way.”

This was interpreted by the judge as “insulting Islam”.

Badawi’s health is now frail. He is unlikely to survive the lashings.

4. From Poetry Foundation, on Hashem Shaabani in Iran:

We were saddened and horrified today to learn of the death of Hashem Shaabani, who was executed on January 27th by the order of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

From Radio Free Europe:

An Islamic Revolutionary Tribunal reportedly had sentenced the poet to death, along with 14 others, last July on charges that included “waging war on God”. 

Press reports said Shaabani was hanged after his sentence was approved by President Hassan Rohani.

In a statement on February 5, Freedom House said Shaabani was subjected to severe torture and interrogation during his three years in prison.

Human Rights Voices also reports on the execution, writing:

To those who knew him, was a man of peace and understanding struggling to extend spaces of individual freedom within the despotic Khomeinist system … In one of his letters from prison, made available to use through his family, Shaabani says  … I have tried to defend the legitimate right that every people in this world should have which is the right to live freely with full civil rights. With all these miseries and tragedies, I have never used a weapon to fight these atrocious crimes except the pen.” 

5. From the Guardian on Avijit Roy and Rafida Bonya Ahmed in Pakistan:

No one could have predicted that the Bangladeshi writer Rafida Bonya Ahmed would make it to London last week. …  In February, Islamist fanatics hacked her husband, Avijit Roy, to death with meat cleavers as the couple left a book fair in Dhaka. They nearly killed Ahmed too: slicing off her thumb and covering her body with wounds. …

Together, Ahmed and Roy ran a secular blog that promoted the writings of young liberal Bangladeshis They wrote on evolution and humanism; they condemned extremism fearlessly, as the title of Roy’s 2014 book The Virus of Faith makes clear. Seeing and fearing a courageous opponent, the enemies of free thought killed him for his ideas. …

6. From a Reuters report on Ananta Bijoy Das and others in Bangladesh:

Third Atheist blogger killed in Bangladesh.

A blogger was hacked to death by machete-wielding attackers in Bangladesh on Tuesday (May 12), the third killing of a critic of religious extremism in the Muslim-majority nation in less than three months.

Ananta Bijoy Das, a blogger who advocated secularism, was attacked by four masked assailants in the northeastern district of Sylhet on Tuesday morning, senior police official Mohammad Rahamatullah told Reuters.

Rahamatullah said Das was a 33-year-old banker.

He was also editor of science magazine “Jukti,” which means “logic,” and on the advisory board of “Mukto Mona” (Free Mind), a website propagating rationalism and opposing fundamentalism …

According to the monitoring service SITE Intelligence Group, Islamist militant group Ansar al-Islam Bangladesh said al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) had claimed responsibility for the attack. …

Imran Sarker, the head of a network of activists and bloggers in Bangladesh, said Das was “a progressive free thinker and a good human being”. …

Militants have targeted secularist writers in Bangladesh in recent years …

On March 30, Washiqur Rahman, another secular blogger who aired his outrage over [Avijit] Roy’s death on social media, was killed in similar fashion on a busy street in the capital, Dhaka.

Their deaths followed the killing in 2013 of Ahmed Rajib Haider, who backed calls to impose the death penalty on Islamist leaders accused of atrocities in Bangladesh’s 1971 war of independence.

Why do our fellow atheists – of the leftist “Humanist” persuasion – not burn with anger against the ideology that persecutes atheism, secularism, rationalism, and shun the company of its devotees?

If they think they are earning the goodwill and tolerance of the Muslims towards whom they’re making this gesture, they’re pathetically deluded. Their nice little letter is not going to change sharia law, or the minds of those who want to impose it on us all.

They seem simply not to believe that the Muslims they contacted might be members of “radicalizing” mosques – which is to say, mosques with imams who urge them to support terrorist groups or join ISIS. There’s no hint that they explored the possibility. In their minds, the accusation must be wholly unjustified.

And one more thing. When those poor persecuted Muslims “in the Moscow/Pullman area” whimpered that “Islam is the most disrespected group in this country”, they are lying. The president of the United States is the son of a Muslim and an Islam lover who has brought Muslim Brotherhood advisers into his administration – and has clearly formed policies on their advice..

At the time of this writing there have been 27,322 deadly attacks carried out by Muslims since 9/11. (See the tally in our margin, taken from The Religion of Peace.) Muslim terrorists do all they can to terrify non-Muslims, and then cynically accuse them of an irrational fear of Islam, calling it “Islamophobia”.

Muslims are the target of few “hate crimes” in the US. But they perpetrate more than any others do.

We quote from an article by David J. Rusin at Islamist Watch. His staistics come from a December 2014 report of 2013 figures. (We await the 2014 report this coming December):

New FBI Hate Crime Stats: Another Blow to Islamist Fictions

There were 1,031 incidents inspired by religion last year, 625 (60.6 percent) of which were anti-Jewish. Anti-Islamic ones constituted just 13.1 percent.

On April 15, 2013, Muslim terrorists murdered three and injured hundreds at the Boston Marathon, prompting familiar warnings about an imminent anti-Muslim backlash. The FBI’s findings are proof that such collective punishment did not materialize — as it almost never does.

How have Islamist groups greeted the FBI data? With silence. It is the sound of disappointment on the part of radicals who need Muslim victims, preferably real ones, to serve as human shields for the Islamist agenda. Bad news for Islamists is once again good news for the rest of us.

Killing free thought 3

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Amnesty International (a leftist organization of which we are highly critical, but which occasionally does something right) has published a petition that we think needs to be widely circulated. (This is our Facebook version of it).

Ashraf Fayadh has been sentenced to death after being jailed for more than 22 months in the Saudi Arabian city Abha – without clear legal charges beyond “insulting Allah” and having “ideas that do not suit Saudi society”. These charges are based on the complaint of a reader’s interpretation of Fayadh’s 2008 poetry collection titled “Instructions Within”. This is not the first time that Saudi authorities have arrested Ashraf Fayadh. The poet was detained before after a Saudi citizen filed a complaint with the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice accusing Fayadh of having “misguided and misguiding thoughts”. Fayadh was bailed out of jail at the time, only to get arrested again. According to sources close to Fayadh, the poet has been denied both visitation and legal representation rights. We condemn these acts of intimidation targeting Ashraf Fayadh as part of a wider campaign inciting hate against writers and using Islam to justify oppression and to crush free speech. We express our solidarity with Fayadh, hoping to increase support for the poet as well as pressure to release him. Our efforts should come together to ensure the proliferation of free speech and personal freedoms. We specifically call on Saudi intellectuals to express solidarity with Fayadh against Takfiris’ intimidation practices meant to silence poets, writers, and artists like him. Let the flag of creativity fly free. Remaining silent towards Fayadh’s detention is an insult to knowledge, literature, culture, and thought as well as to freedom and human rights.

Please follow this link and sign the petition to spare Ashraf Fayadh’s life. (We found it is not necessary to give more than your name and email address.)

Posted under Arab States, Islam, Muslims, Saudi Arabia, Totalitarianism, tyranny by Jillian Becker on Friday, November 20, 2015

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What Hillary did 8

The Democratic Party must be “in denial”. Is it really offering as its only candidates for the presidency an old communist – aka “a democratic socialist” – whose mind was badly made up never to change again way back in the last century; some other man no one knows or cares anything about; and, primarily, a hideously corrupt old female whose reputation is laden with more scandals than any other figure in modern American history, and is the subject of a criminal investigation by the FBI?

Yes, mirabile dictu, it is!

John Hawkins provides a useful summary of things the old woman has been and done:

Conservatives have been amusing themselves for months by watching Hillary Clinton supporters sputter out laughable answers when they’re asked to name her biggest accomplishments. You can’t blame them for not being able to come up with anything significant because Hillary has choked on the same question in interviews. That’s one of the reasons her staffers have been shielding her from the press like a mother standing between her child and Jared Fogle.

If you want to double down on the laughs, go read an actual list of “accomplishments” on her website.

All seven “accomplishments” are things Hillary didn’t have much to do with — like CHIP and the Family Medical Leave Act (Those went into effect when her husband was in office) or getting 9/11 first responders health care (Was that ever a question?). Alternately, they’re just ridiculous.

“Fought for children and families for 40 years and counting.”

“Told the world that ‘women’s rights are human rights’,” 

“Stood up for LGBT rights at home and abroad.”

The very fact that Hillary Clinton considers those things to be “accomplishments” that she should be applauded for as opposed to things that should evoke eye-rolling and “Is she serious?” comments tells you a lot about why she shouldn’t be President.

Of course, the real problem Hillary has isn’t that she doesn’t have achievements; it’s just that they’re not exploits that anyone would want to base a run at the Presidency on.

1) She has been willing to endure America’s most humiliating marriage to achieve wealth and power: It’s fun to guess what Hillary Clinton would have done with her life if she hadn’t married Bill and ridden his coattails. City council member in Little Rock, Arkansas? EPA bureaucrat? A lawyer for Planned Parenthood? She’s a very small person who latched onto her husband’s very big last name.

In return, she had to stay married to a man who cheated on her. Constantly. Worse yet, not only did she know it, the whole world knows it.

Bill Clinton was impeached by the House for perjuring himself over an affair with Monica Lewinsky. He settled a sexual harassment case against Paula Jones. He was accused of sexual assault by Kathleen Willey. He was accused of rape by Juanita Broaddrick. Then there’s Gennifer Flowers, Dolly Kyle Browning, Elizabeth Ward Gracen and undoubtedly dozens of other women he’s slept with. Given that some of the troopers who guarded him in Arkansas claimed they procured women for him and his confirmed trips to “orgy island”,  the number may be in the hundreds and chances are, while you’re reading this, Bill is having sex with a woman who’s not Hillary Clinton. No normal woman would be so hungry for power over her fellow human beings that she would endure that and that does separate Hillary from the rest of us who aren’t as desperate for power.

2) Four people are dead in Benghazi because of her: It seems hard to believe that it’s even possible, but there were more than 600 ignored security requests related to Libya and the consulate in Benghazi. Had Hillary paid attention to those requests, it’s entirely possible that none of our men would have died in Libya. However, Hillary claims none of those requests reached her desk. Since it’s generally accepted that Hillary lies incessantly about anything and everything, maybe that’s another lie. On the other hand, given that she’s 68 years old, hasn’t driven a car since 1996 and clearly can’t handle her own email, maybe she just didn’t know what she was doing. Either way, if we had a different Secretary of State, those four men would probably be alive today. Most of us have made mistakes at work, but how many of us have the guts to ask for a promotion after four people DIED because we missed hundreds of requests for help from them?

3) She was one of the worst Secretaries of State in U.S. history: Donald Trump calls her “the worst Secretary of State” in American history, but this is an old country that has had a lot of people in that position; so that may be unfair. Maybe she’s just one of the worst Secretaries of State in American history. Look at what happened on her watch.

We helped radical jihadis take over in Libya and that country is falling apart. Benghazi also happened and while she was publicly telling the world a video caused it, she was privately telling people it was a terrorist attack. Additionally, we backed a radical jihadi takeover of the government in Egypt that thankfully fell apart. We pulled all our troops out of Iraq, which set the stage for ISIS to move in. Our relationship with the Israeli government deteriorated. So did our relationships with China and Russia. To top it all off, the State Department lost track of 6 billion dollars while she was Secretary of State. It would be easy to write Clinton off as a pitiable character whose ambition led her to take a job that was far too big for someone of her meager abilities, but unfortunately she’s trying to use her miserable failure as Secretary of State as a stepping stone to the presidency where she could do even more damage.

4) She managed to turn a career in government service into immense wealth: Hillary and her husband managed to become filthy rich one percenters because of their government service. Granted, they did cut a few corners in the process. For example, while Bill was governor, Hillary got away with taking a nearly $100,000 bribe from Robert L. “Red” Bone via sleazy cattle futures deals. While she was Secretary of State, money poured into the pockets of her husband and the Clinton Foundation from defense contractors and foreign governments that got fat contracts from the State Department. Among the governments that funneled money into the Clinton bank account via speeches are Iran, North Korea [actually, the State Department did not permit that one! – ed] the Democratic Republic of the Congo, UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Russia and China. They paid the Clintons an awful lot of money and if Hillary becomes our next President, people might be surprised at how much those foreign governments end up getting in return for making the Clintons rich.

5) She’s better at surviving sleazy scandals than anyone else: Hillary Clinton has been tied into more scandals than any other five politicians combined. Where she goes, an ocean of corruption, sleaze and controversy always follows. It’s amazing in a horrific way that Hillary is still considered a serious candidate for the presidency despite having more gaffes and scandals than the entire GOP field COMBINED. It would take a book to fully detail all of them, but just to name a few, there’s Emailgate, Pardongate, Whitewater, Travelgate, using the IRS to attack her political opponents, looting the White House, illegally acquiring FBI files on her Republican opponents, the Boeing payoff, the Uranium One payoff, the Norway embassy payoff, the Congo payoff, ripping off AIDS patients in the Third World, taking bribes via cattle futures, lying about landing under “sniper fire” in Bosnia, laughing about tearing apart a 12 year old girl in court to get a child rapist off and Benghazi. There are mob bosses with cleaner records than Hillary Clinton and yet, not only has she avoided prison so far, she’s running for President.

An appalling record. Yet it leaves out the worst thing Hillary Clinton accomplished.

She it was who insisted that Libya be attacked from the air to help anti-Gaddafi rebels depose the dictator. That they did (and tortured him to death). Tritely she squealed, “We came, we saw, he died.” And since then, Libya has been in chaos. From its shores untold multitudes of “refugees” sail for Europe. Many drown. Families are torn apart. Europe sinks.

If she could do so much harm as secretary of state, how much more could she do as president?

Saudi Arabia calls for religious tolerance 3

Saudi Arabia? Yes. Religious tolerance? Yes.

But the Saudis don’t really mean it, do they?  Of course not, but a little thing like that won’t stop them.

The Independent reports:

Saudi Arabia has hosted an international conference on human rights, attended by the president of the UN Human Rights Council, and resolved to combat intolerance and violence based on religious belief.

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) – which has its headquarters in Jeddah – convened the fifth annual meeting of the Istanbul Process as the kingdom’s Supreme Court prepared to rule on the case of blogger Raif Badawi, sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam through religious channels”. It later upheld the sentence.

The UN HRC recently faced criticism over Saudi plans to head up the council from 2016, in what critics said would be the “final nail in the coffin” for the international body.

And the Geneva-based human rights campaign group UN Watch accused HRC president Joachim Rücker of giving “false international legitimacy” to the two-day conference on religious freedoms held in Jeddah on 3 and 4 June.

According to a report in the Saudi Gazette, the participants in the conference “began with an agreement to put [HRC] resolution 16/18 into effect” – a pledge by all member states to combat “intolerance and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons based on religion or belief”.

“In addition, participants agreed on the importance on providing human rights education and encouraging religious and cultural diversity in communities.”

Invited to make the opening statement at the conference, Mr Rücker told the summit: “Religious intolerance and violence committed in the name of religion rank among the most significant human rights challenges of our times.”

But Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, said: “It’s bad enough that the oppressive and fundamentalist Saudi monarchy was elected to sit on the UN Human Rights Council.

“But for top UN human rights officials to now visit Jeddah and smile while human rights activist Raif Badawi languishes in prison for the crime of religious dissent, still under threat of further flogging, is to pour salt in the wounds. It’s astonishing.”

Astonishing? Astonishing hypocrisy, yes. But what can be expected of the Saudis’ contemptible regime? It’s very existence is a mockery not only of tolerance, but also of  truth, decency, honesty, humanity.

It should inspire not astonishment but outrage and fury – if anyone in the flabby West is still capable of righteous anger.

*

Saudi Arabia is probably the most monocultural and intolerant country in the world. (Comparable only to Communist regimes.)

From Wikipedia:

Islam is the state religion of Saudi Arabia and its law requires that all citizens be Muslims. Neither Saudi citizens nor guest workers have the right of freedom of religion.The official and dominant form of Islam in the kingdom – Wahhabism – arose in the central region of Najd in the eighteenth century. Proponents call the movement “Salafism”, and believe that its teachings purify the practice of Islam of innovations or practices that deviate from the seventh-century teachings of Muhammad and his companions.

Saudi Arabia has “religious police” (known as Haia or Mutaween), who patrol the streets enforcing dress codes, strict separation of men and women, attendance at prayer (salat) five times each day, the ban on alcohol, and other aspects of Sharia (Islamic law). (In the privacy of the home behavior can be far looser, and reports indicate that the ruling Saudi Royal family applies a different moral code to itself, indulging in parties, drugs and sex.) [Including, to our certain knowledge, homosexual sex (often with under-15-year-old boys), which is punishable by death under sharia – TAC.]

Daily life is dominated by Islamic observance. Businesses are closed three or four times a day for 30 to 45 minutes during business hours while employees and customers are sent off to pray. The weekend is Friday-Saturday, not Saturday-Sunday, because Friday is the holiest day for Muslims. As of 2004 approximately half of the broadcast airtime of Saudi state television was devoted to religious issues. 90% of books published in the kingdom were on religious subjects, and most of the doctorates awarded by its universities were in Islamic studies. In the state school system, about half of the material taught is religious. In contrast, assigned readings over twelve years of primary and secondary schooling devoted to covering the history, literature, and cultures of the non-Muslim world comes to a total of about 40 pages.

Public support for the traditional political/religious structure of the kingdom is so strong that one researcher interviewing Saudis found virtually no support for reforms to secularize the state.

Because of religious restrictions, Saudi culture lacks any diversity of religious expression, buildings, annual festivals and public events. Celebration of other (non-Wahhabi) Islamic holidays, such as the Muhammad’s birthday and the Day of Ashura, (an important holiday for the 10-25% of the population that is Shīʿa Muslim), are tolerated only when celebrated locally and on a small scale. Shia also face systematic discrimination in employment, education, the justice system. Non-Muslim festivals like Christmas and Easter are not tolerated at all, although there are nearly a million Christians as well as Hindus and Buddhists among the foreign workers. No churches, temples or other non-Muslim houses of worship are permitted in the country. Proselytizing by non-Muslims and conversion by Muslims to another religion is illegal and punishable by death. And as of 2014 the distribution of “publications that have prejudice to any other religious belief other than Islam” (such as Bibles), was reportedly punishable by death. 

Atheists are legally designated as terrorists. 

Saudis or foreign residents who “call into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based” may be subject to as much as 20 years in prison. And at least one religious minority, the Ahmadiyya Muslims, had all its adherents deported, and they are legally banned from entering the country.

Next the UN will consider Saudi Arabia the ideal venue for an international conference on “diversity”. And after that, why not one on women’s rights?

Posted under Arab States, Commentary, Diplomacy, Islam, jihad, middle east, Muslims, Saudi Arabia, United Nations by Jillian Becker on Saturday, June 13, 2015

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Once upon a time Europe was … 10

As the indigenous European populations commit slow suicide, Muslims pour into their continent to replace them eventually.

Mark Steyn writes:

Europe has a growing shortage of Europeans.

Yesterday’s Telegraph:

Germany’s birth rate has collapsed to the lowest level in the world and its workforce will start plunging at a faster rate than Japan’s by the early 2020s, seriously threatening the long-term viability of Europe’s leading economy … The German government expects the population to shrink from 81m to 67m by 2060 as depressed pockets of the former East Germany go into “decline spirals” where shops, doctors’ practices, and public transport start to shut down, causing yet more people to leave in a vicious circleA number of small towns in Saxony, Brandenburg and Pomerania have begun to contemplate plans for gradual “run-off” and ultimate closure, a once unthinkable prospect.

Why is this even news? Almost a decade ago, a guy called Mark Steyn wrote a book called America Alonein which he said everything the Telegraph piece said yesterday. Those East German towns?

Almost every issue facing the European Union – from immigration rates to crippling state pension liabilities – has at its heart the same root cause: a huge lack of babies. Every day you get ever more poignant glimpses of the Euro-future, such as it is. One can talk airily about being flushed down the toilet of history, but even that’s easier said than done. In eastern Germany, rural communities are dying, and one consequence is that village sewer systems are having a tough time adjusting to the lack of use. Populations have fallen so dramatically there are too few people flushing to keep the flow of waste moving. Traditionally, government infrastructure expenditure arises from increased demand. In this case, the sewer lines are having to be narrowed at great cost in order to cope with dramatically decreased demand.

The Telegraph quotes the German government’s own figures predicting a population decrease from 81 million now to 67 million by 2060. In America Alone, I suggested the population would fall to 38 million by the end of the century. Given that it is in the nature of demographic death spirals to accelerate once you’re below 1.3 children per couple, my number may be an underestimate. And when you consider that in most German urban areas the only demographic energy now is Muslim, those 38 million turn-of-the-century “Germans” will be posterity’s rebuke to the Nuremberg Laws. As I wrote in 2006:

Americans take for granted all the “it’s about the future of all our children” hooey that would ring so hollow in a European election. In the 2005 German campaign, voters were offered what would be regarded in the US as a statistically improbable choice: a childless man (Herr Schroeder) vs a childless woman (Frau Merkel). Statist Europe signed on to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s alleged African proverb – “It takes a village to raise a child” – only to discover they got it backwards: on the Continent, the lack of children will raze the village. And most of the villagers still refuse to recognize the contradictions: You can’t breed at the lethargic rate of most Europeans and then bitch and whine about letting the Turks into the European Union. Demographically, they’re the kids you couldn’t be bothered having.

Lest you think this an exaggeration, look at the graph accompanying the Telegraph piece [see it below], contrasting Germany and Japan’s demographic decline with France’s ostensibly healthier fertility rate. The reason for that is that France has the highest Muslim population in western Europe, so it has a bright future of crowded maternity wards full of babies called Mohammed. And all this was known a decade ago: – when, already, 30 per cent of German women and 40 per cent of university graduates were childless, just like Angela Merkel.

On those numbers you’re living in a present-tense culture: no matter how great you are, you’re a civilizational boy-band; a generation later, someone else will be there, and no one will be singing your songs.

Okay, this passage [in the book] is a wee bit lurid:

[In] Europe by the end of this century … the grand buildings will still be standing but the people who built them will be gone. By the next century, German will be spoken only at Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels and Goering’s Monday night poker game in Hell.

 But the point is: It’s not wrong. in 2006, Germany already had a shrinking and aging population, and potentially catastrophic welfare liabilities … and no politician who wished to remain  electorally viable was willing to do anything about it. It’s not the total number of people that matters, it’s the age distribution: that decline from 81 to 67 million will wind up skewing the  population very geezerish. But, again, this was all known a decade ago. I pointed out the percentage of the population under the age of 15 …

Spain and Germany have 14 per cent, the United Kingdom 18 per cent, the United States 21 per cent – and Saudi Arabia has 39 per cent, Pakistan 40 per cent and Yemen 47 per cent.

When you’ve that many surplus young people, they’re going to go somewhere else. Some of the African numbers are even higher, which is why there’s that endless flotilla of boats across the Mediterranean. Because when a teeming shanty town is next door to a not-terribly-gated community of under-occupied mansions, it would be unreasonable to expect otherwise.

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Posted under Commentary, Demography, Europe, France, Germany, Muslims, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Yemen by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, June 2, 2015

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Sharing out the pieces of a shattered empire 5

Nearly a hundred years ago, the Ottoman Empire was brought to an end when the German-Turkish alliance was defeated in the First World War. Its former territories in the Middle East became independent states or temporary mandates of European powers.

Efraim Karsh, reviewing a new book* on the subject, corrects errors of fact on which its author relies – and which have been all too generally accepted.

The corrections are important, so we reproduce the entire article:

A century after the catastrophic blunder that led to the destruction of the then longest-surviving empire on earth, culpability is still ascribed to the European powers. Rather than view the Ottoman entry into the First World War on the losing side for what it was – a failed imperialist bid for territorial aggrandizement and reassertion of lost glory – the Muslim empire has been portrayed as the hapless victim of European machinations, driven into the world conflict by overbearing powers eager to expedite its demise and gobble up its lands.

Emblematic of the wider tendency to view Middle Easterners as mere objects, whose history is but a function of their unhappy interaction with the West, this conventional wisdom has proved remarkably resistant to the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and Eugene Rogan’s The Fall of the Ottomans is no exception to this rule.

To begin with, in an attempt to underscore the Ottoman Empire’s untenable position on the eve of the war, Rogan reproduces the standard depiction of the protracted period preceding the empire’s collapse, or the Eastern Question as it is commonly known, as the steady European encroachment on Ottoman territory. “The looming prospect of a European general war”, he writes, “raised the imminent threat of a Russian annexation of Istanbul, the straits, and eastern Anatolia – and the ultimate dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire among the Entente Powers. France was known to covet Syria, Britain had interests in Mesopotamia, and Greece wished to expand its grip over the Aegean.”

Reality, however, was quite different. Far from setting their sights on Ottoman lands, the European powers had consistently shored up the ailing Muslim empire for well over a century, saving it time and again from assured destruction – from Muhammad Ali’s imperialist bid of the 1830s, to the Balkan crises of the 1870s, to the Balkan war of 1912–13. And it was none other than Russia that acted as the Ottoman Empire’s latest saviour, halting its former Bulgarian subject at the gates of Istanbul, not once but twice: in November 1912 and March 1913. Several months later St Petersburg joined London and Berlin in underscoring “the necessity of preserving the Turkish Realm in its present form”.

All this means that by the outbreak of the Great War, the Ottoman Empire was scarcely a spurned and isolated power in danger of imminent destruction. Rather, it was in the enviable position of being courted by the two warring camps: the German-Austro-Hungarian Central Alliance wished its participation in the war, while the Anglo-French-Russian Triple Entente desired its neutrality. So much so that on August 18, 1914, less than a month after the outbreak of hostilities, the Entente’s ambassadors to Istanbul assured the Grand Vizier of the empire’s continued survival were it to stay out of the war, while the British Foreign Secretary vowed the preservation of Ottoman territorial integrity “in any conditions of peace which affected the Near East, provided she preserved a real neutrality during the war”. Five days later, at Ottoman request, the three powers put down this pledge in writing.

Had the Ottomans accepted this guarantee and kept out of the war, their empire would have readily weathered the storm. But then, by the time the Entente made its far-reaching proposal, Istanbul had already concluded a secret alliance with Germany that had effectively transformed it into a belligerent. This, nevertheless, didn’t prevent it from maintaining the false pretence of neutrality vis-à-vis the Entente, or even feigning interest in joining its ranks, while at the same time laying the groundwork for war and exploiting Berlin’s eagerness for the immediate initiation of hostilities to extract substantial military and economic benefits.

Preserving the myth of immaculate Turkish victimhood, Rogan claims that “the Ottoman leadership had no wish to enter a general European conflict” and was grudgingly driven to the German embrace by the Entente’s indifference, if not hostility, to its predicament. His proof is the supposed French rebuff of an alliance proposal, allegedly made during a visit to Paris in July 1914 by the military leader Djemal Pasha, as well as the British requisition of two warships commissioned by the Ottomans. “The British decision to requisition the ships was treated as a national humiliation in Turkey and ruled out the possibility of any accord between Britain and the Ottoman Empire”, Rogan writes. “The very next day, 2 August 1914, the Ottomans concluded a secret treaty of alliance with Germany.”

The problem with these well-worn stories is that there is no shred of evidence of Djemal’s alleged overture (its only mention is in his memoirs, written after the war and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire with the clear aim of exonerating himself from responsibility for this calamity), while the requisition announcement was made on August 3 – a day after the conclusion of the secret Ottoman-German alliance.

But even if the announcement had been made a few days earlier, it would have made no difference whatsoever for the simple reason that the terms of the Ottoman-German alliance had already been agreed on July 28. Moreover, it was the Ottomans rather than the Germans who had opted for an alliance within days of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914 – weeks before the outbreak of hostilities; who were the driving force in the ensuing secret negotiations; and who largely prevailed over their German counterparts in deciding the alliance’s broad contours. As Kaiser Wilhelm ordered his more sceptical negotiators: “A refusal or a snub would result in Turkey’s going over to Russo-Gallia, and our influence would be gone forever … Under no circumstances whatsoever can we afford to turn them away”.

The truth of the matter is that the Ottoman Empire was neither forced into the First World War in a last-ditch attempt to ensure its survival, nor manoeuvred into it by an overbearing German ally and a hostile Entente, but rather plunged head on into the whirlpool. War, for the Ottoman leaders, was not seen as a mortal danger to be averted, but a unique opportunity to be seized. They did not seek “an ally to protect the empire’s vulnerable territory from the consequences of such war” but a powerful underwriter of their imperialist ambitions; and apart from their admiration for Germany and their conviction that it would ultimately be victorious, the Entente had less to offer by way of satisfying these ambitions, first and foremost “the destruction of our Muscovite enemy to obtain a natural frontier to our empire, which should include and unite all branches of our race” (in the words of the Ottoman declaration of war).

Just as the fall of the Ottoman Empire was not the result of external machinations but a self-inflicted catastrophe, so the creation of the modern Middle East on its ruins was not an imperialist imposition but the aggregate outcome of intense pushing and shoving by a multitude of regional and international bidders for the Ottoman war spoils in which the local actors, despite their marked inferiority to the great powers, often had the upper hand.

While Rogan occasionally alludes to this reality, these allusions are far too sparse and timid to break from the standard misrepresentation of the post-war regional order as an artificial Western creation. He aptly notes that “the map drawn by Sykes and Picot bears no resemblance to the Middle East today”, yet reiterates the standard depiction of the agreement as a colonial imposition rather than a British effort “to reconcile the interests of France with the pledges given to the [Arabs]” (to use Albert Hourani’s words), or indeed – the first-ever great power recognition of Arab right to self determination (well before President Woodrow Wilson turned this principle into a driving force of international politics). He similarly observes that Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia (or the Hijaz, as it was then known) “achieved independence within frontiers of their own devising”, yet parrots the conventional wisdom that the imperial powers outlandishly “imposed the borders and systems of governments of most states in the region”.

In fact, most states in the region were established pretty much as a result of local exertions. The modern state of Iraq, to give a prominent example, was created in its present form (rather than divided into three states in accordance with the existing realities of local patriotism and religious affinities) on behalf of Emir Faisal of Mecca and at his instigation, while Jordan was established to satisfy the ambitions of Faisal’s older brother Abdullah. Likewise, the nascent Zionist movement exploited a unique convergence of factors to harness British support to its national cause, to have this support endorsed by the international community and incorporated into the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, and to cling tenaciously to these achievements until their fruition in the establishment of the State of Israel in May 1948.

Eugene Rogan acknowledges that “the borders of the post-war settlement have proven remarkably resilient”. Yet he fails to draw the selfevident conclusion that this state of affairs reflects their congruity with local realities, instead echoing the common refrain that ascribes the region’s endemic volatility to the supposed dissatisfaction with these boundaries.

Had this actually been the case, Arab leaders would have seized some of the numerous opportunities they had over the past century to undo the post-Ottoman order and unify the so-called Arab Nation; and they could have readily done this by peaceful means rather than incessant fighting. But then, violence has hardly been imported to the Middle East as a by-product of European imperialism; it was a part of the political culture long before. And if anything, it is the region’s tortuous relationship with modernity, most notably the stubborn adherence to its millenarian religiously based imperialist legacy, which has left physical force as the main instrument of political discourse to date.

But to acknowledge this would mean abandoning the self-righteous victimization paradigm that has informed Western scholarship for so long, and treating Middle Easterners as equal free agents accountable for their actions, rather than giving them a condescending free pass for political and moral modes of behaviour that are not remotely acceptable in Western societies. Sadly, The Fall of the Ottomans signals no such paradigm shift.

 

* The Fall of the Ottomans by Eugene Rogan. The review first appeared in the Times Literary Supplement and was reprinted in the Wall Street Journal.

The stink of corruption 1

Well, yes, there is global pollution. Whether it warms anything is another question. But the stink of corruption emanating from the Clintons and their Foundation is polluting the atmosphere of the world.

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air reports:

Ukrainian energy mogul Victor Pinchuk has connections to the Clintons that go back almost a decade, and financial connections to the regime in Tehran that go much farther …

Pinchuk owns Interpipe Group, a Cyprus-incorporated manufacturer of seamless pipes used in oil and gas sectors.

Newsweek [reports that it] has seen declarations and documents from Ukraine that show a series of shipments from Interpipe to Iran in 2011 and 2012, including railway parts and products commonly used in the oil and gas sectors. Among a number of high-value invoices for products related to rail or oil and gas, one shipment for $1.8m in May 2012 was for “seamless hot-worked steel pipes for pipelines” and destined for a city near the Caspian Sea. Both the rail and oil and gas sectors are sanctioned by the US, which specifically prohibits any single invoice to the Iranian petrochemical industry worth more than $1m.

In other words, Interpipe should have been slapped with penalties and sanctions for its operations with Iran. Pinchuk’s company has a US subsidiary, which means that US sanctions apply across the entire organization.

It was a clear case of sanctions-busting. So what happened?

The agency for imposing penalties for sanctions violations in these cases …  is the State Department.

Who was in charge at the State Department during this period? None other than Hillary Clinton.

The person in charge of enforcing sanctions on Iran somehow missed key violations from a man who was pouring millions of dollars into her family foundation.

Between 2009 and 2013, including when Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state, the Clinton Foundation received at least $8.6 million from the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, according to that foundation, which is based in Kiev, Ukraine. …

In 2008, Mr. Pinchuk made a five-year, $29 million commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative, a wing of the foundation that coordinates charitable projects and funding for them but doesn’t handle the money.

The pledge was to fund a program to train future Ukrainian leaders and professionals “to modernize Ukraine,” according to the Clinton Foundation. …

Now there’s a good cause for you if you are searching for one! Modernizing Ukraine! Give, give to stanch your bleeding heart!

Despite all of Pinchuk’s activity with Iran, the State Department apparently took no action against his company or Pinchuk himself. That lack of response finally got the attention of Rep. Steve Stockman last November, before his retirement, who requested that the Department of the Treasury investigate Interpipe. So far, there have been no developments on that front.

Sniff the air. As the reporter says: “That smells to high heaven.”

And the Pinchuk affair is only one instance of a foreign billionaire purchasing special favors from the present US government and a possible future US government:

There are many powerful people with access to enormous funds who go in for what we might call speculative bribery:

Pinchuk was among an elite few dumping tons of money into the Clinton Foundation … checks worth millions of dollars from company executives, philanthropists, billionaires and foreign organizations, among them … the Saudi Mohammed al-Amoudi and Rilin Enterprises, which is led by Chinese billionaire Wang Wenliang, a member of the Chinese parliament.

It’s a sort of bet. The donors are willing to wager vast sums on what they consider a fair probability that Hillary will be elected president of the mightiest nation on earth, and then, they expect, their generosity will garner its reward.

With rather less of a chance on their side, however, they are also trusting to the Clinton honor. If their trust is well placed, we would have to expect US foreign policy under the next President Clinton to be bought and pledged already. But the saving disgrace of the Clintons may turn out to be that they have no sense of honor, any more than a sense of honesty. Who would be  surprised? The foreign donors might be angry, but if they know anything about the Clintons at all they must know they were making no sure bet.

The Clinton Foundation’s “practice of accepting contributions from foreign countries” is said in the report to be “a major point of contention”. We can see why that may be the case. There was, for instance, a $500,000 check from Algeria “for Haitian earthquake relief”. There was nothing in the world stopping Algeria sending money direct to Haiti for earthquake relief, except that it was more concerned with bribing Hillary Clinton than relieving the victims of a natural disaster.

 Saudi Arabia and Norway have each given between $10 million and $25 million to the Clinton Foundation since its inception, according to the organization’s records. …

For what? For Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea to fly about in a private jet? For Hillary to buy support for a presidential campaign run from the Foundation’s HQ?

Well, some of it perhaps. But some of it is also, definitely, for good causes.

On the subject of those lucky causes, what they are, and how good, we posted an article two days ago – The great good works and wonky dilemmas of William J. Clinton, April 18, 2015. Readers can judge for themselves how good they are.

Interested readers can also go to clintonfoundation.0rg/about, where the three Clintons boast:

We believe that the best way to unlock human potential is through the power of creative collaboration. That’s why we build partnerships between businesses, NGOs, governments, and individuals everywhere to work faster, better, and leaner; to find solutions that last; and to transform lives and communities from what they are today to what they can be, tomorrow.

Everywhere we go, we’re trying to work ourselves out of a job. Whether it’s improving global health, increasing opportunity for women and girls, reducing childhood obesity and preventable diseases, creating economic opportunity and growth, or helping communities address the effects of climate change, we keep score by the lives that are saved or improved.

What began as one man’s drive to help people everywhere grew quickly into a foundation committed to helping people realize their full potential. Because the best thing we can do together is give others the chance to live their best life stories.

We’re all in this together.

They’ll take the whole global village. They’ll take what there is to take. In a jolly, communitarian way. (And even individuals can be helped by the Clintons and a bit of foreign money to “work leaner”.) By hook and by crook, the Clintons will realize their full potential. They are living their best life story.

For more about this source of moral sepsis, read here about a new book by Peter Schweizer, titled: Clinton Cash: How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich.

Our guess is that the corruption goes far, far deeper than anyone has yet found out, or ever will.

An informed choice 44

Obama’s courting of Castro, Putin, the Ayatollah Khamenei, and the King of Saudi Arabia; his appointment of  policy advisers who are members of the Muslim Brotherhood; his rude eviction of the bust of Churchill from the Oval Office, his bullying of the President of Israel, and his cold-shouldering of Canada over the Keystone oil pipeline are signs that he is – what? Could they be read as indications that he is biased towards Communism and Islam, and is not at all keen on the values and polities of the West?

They could not only be easily read as that; it would be difficult to interpret them any other way.

Yet half the voting population cannot see it. Or if they can see it, they must like it, since they twice voted him into power.

But what are we saying? Half the adult, literate, sane people of the United States of America prefer Communism and/or Islam to their own free republic? Surely that cannot be true?

So what else could account for what happened? Well, perhaps most of them simply paid no attention to Barack Obama’s ideologies – although they could easily have discovered them before his first election to the presidency – and voted him into power for the purely racist reason that he’s black and they wanted (paradoxically) to show they were against discrimination on the grounds of race? And didn’t that prove they were nice people?

Now they’ve seen what a terrible mistake it was not to take his ideas and affiliations into account, they won’t do anything like that again – will they? They won’t again choose a president for such an extremely poor “reason”? A candidate’s race, color, ethnicity, or gender will not be seen as a qualification in itself for supreme power?

And next time they’ll be sure to take a candidate’s ideology into account – right?

We quote from an article at Front Page titled The Arabian Candidate, by William Kilpatrick:

In The Manchurian Candidate, the son of a prominent right-wing politician is captured by the Soviets and brainwashed in a secret Manchurian location. His task is to assassinate a presidential candidate, thus ensuring the election of the demagogic vice-president. …

The film has several parallels to current events. The main difference is that in those days, Americans had to be brainwashed into serving enemy interests by psy-ops teams. Nowadays, they come self-brainwashed with some indoctrinative assist from the American educational system.

In the film, a scary lady with leftist sympathies who looks vaguely like Hillary Clinton manipulates her husband into high political office. In real life, a scary lady with leftist leanings [who is Hillary Clinton] … manipulates herself into high political office.

In her case, teams of brainwashers are not required, since she has brainwashed herself into believing that foreign governments are dumping truckloads of cash into her family foundation because she’s such a charming and intelligent woman. And also because Arab sovereigns like nothing better than to do their part to improve the lives of the poor, the hungry, the environmentally underserved, and kids who need braces — in short, the very causes for which the foundation was founded.

Another similarity is that in the film, the [scary lady] character has some sort of hypnotic power over her son, the unwitting assassin. Whenever it begins to dawn on him that something funny is going on, she flashes a Queen of Diamonds playing card and he falls into a catatonic state of complete obedience. In the present situation [Hillary Clinton] has merely to flash the gender card and, presto, skeptical voters fall back into line.

There are parallels to other movies as well. Today’s Queen of Diamonds has a secret server in her home so that her exchanges with foreign dono- I mean “diplomats” can’t be traced. I’m not sure if the server takes up only one room of the palatial house, or a whole suite of rooms. And who knows what’s in the cavern-like basement? It’s all faintly reminiscent of those James Bond thrillers in which the villain’s remote island estate sits atop a vast underground military-industrial complex.

At some point the analogy breaks down. You could still convince a sixties audience that leftists were willing to sell out the country. We, on the other hand, have convinced ourselves that we live in a brave new world where such things never happen — at least, not in modern Western societies. No one would dare to pull a fast one on us because we’re just too smart. … So if it were discovered that Arabs controlled the White House, we would shrug our shoulders and say, “At this point, what does it matter?”

The Clinton-Arab connection actually goes back to the time when Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas and worked to secure a hefty Saudi contribution to a Middle-Eastern studies program at the University of Arkansas. But let’s skip all that and fast forward to relatively recent times when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appointed her longtime aide Huma Abedin as Deputy Chief of Staff at the State Department. When it was discovered that Abedin’s family was deeply involved in the Muslim Brotherhood in Saudi Arabia, very few eyebrows were raised. After all, even President Obama had relatives in the Muslim Brotherhood. So it would have been silly to make something of it.

It’s probably just a coincidence that while working for the Clintons, Huma herself was the assistant editor of the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs which — you guessed it — is a Muslim Brotherhood journal. Before that, and while still interning at the White House, she was an executive board member of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) at George Washington University. The MSA was the first Muslim Brotherhood organization in the United States and George Washington was the first Muslim president. Well, the latter hasn’t yet been firmly established, but it’s just a matter of time until those Saudi-funded Mid-East studies professors at the University of Arkansas and the Saudi-funded professors at Georgetown (Bill’s alma mater) discover the prayer rug in the attic at Mount Vernon. It’s also probably a coincidence that, like her boss, Huma conducted State Department business using her own personal e-mail address, connected, one supposes, to the same master server that served her master so well … er, mistress.

Abedin also worked until recently for the Clinton Foundation. Again, this is no doubt a pure coincidence and, as the old saying goes, it has nothing to do with Islam. … Today’s government officials seem curiously lacking in curiosity. In 2012, Michelle Bachmann and four other House members wrote letters to the Inspector Generals of several government agencies asking them to conduct an investigation into Muslim Brotherhood penetration of the government. They were particularly concerned about Huma Abedin in view of her family connections and influential position. They noted thatthe Clinton State Department had “taken actions recently that have been enormously favorable to the Muslim Brotherhood and its interests”.

The request was dismissed by numerous congressmen and senators as “offensive”, “insensitive,” and even “hurtful”. By that time the machinery of the “Islamophobia” industry was already in high gear and it was deemed prudent even by Republicans to defend Abedin and to damn her accusers …

Still, the case for an inquiry seemed strong. … Even if Abedin was innocent of any wrongdoing, the State Department’s own guidelines about foreign family connections would disqualify her for a security clearance for such a sensitive position.

But then, again, a lot of people in sensitive positions don’t seem to qualify for a security clearance. For example, if all your closest relatives were leftists or communists, if your chief mentors were, respectively, a member of the Communist Party and a radical left-wing preacher, and if you used to hang out with known terrorists, you probably couldn’t get a job as a night watchman at an auto parts warehouse. On the other hand, if someone with the same background throws his hat into the presidential ring, he can become Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, and get to set foreign policy.

He also gets to appoint Secretaries of State. It shouldn’t be any surprise if they turn out to be the kind of people who can’t be bothered with security checks. Such people seem to live in an ethereal realm that puts them above suspicion and above conflicts of interest. Normally, when a Secretary of State receives tens of millions in donations from countries that support the spread of a radical ideology, it would be a sign that something is terribly wrong. For an analogy, ask yourself if you would keep someone on at your firm if she had access to sensitive trade secrets and yet received huge gifts from rival corporations while conducting company business on her private server.

You would probably get rid of her pronto. But that’s only if you apply the normal rules of logic — which apparently don’t apply to Secretaries of State appointed by President Obama.

Now comes a surprise – or at least, a surprise to us. We did not know that  John Kerry has family connections in Iran. How much does it explain?

If you applied such logic, you might also think there was something awkward about the fact that current Secretary of State John Kerry’s daughter is married to an Iranian who has extensive family ties in Iran. …

The FBI usually won’t grant security clearance to “individuals who are married to nationals of an enemy nation or have family members living in that country, for fear of divided loyalties or, more simply, blackmail”.

Of course, you would have to be some kind of conspiracy nut to think that having vulnerable in-laws in Iran would in any way compromise Secretary Kerry’s negotiations with the representatives of a country whose leaders routinely indulge in “death to America” rhetoric.

Undoubtedly, the President consulted with his senior adviser Valerie Jarrett about the matter. Since Jarrett was born in Iran and spoke Persian as a child, she would, by current standards of expertise, be assumed to have deep insight into the Persian mind. She could have assured the president that “Great Satan” and “Death to America” are typical of the rhetorical exuberance that characterizes the rich and vibrant Iranian culture. Moreover, she could have allayed any concerns about blackmail. Anyone who has studied Cliff Notes on Islam knows that blackmail runs counter to the deeply held beliefs of the mullahs.

Jarretts’ family left Iran when she was five, but apparently those five years were enough to qualify her as an expert on Iranian affairs. According to Discover the Networks, it was revealed in 2012 that for several months, Jarrett “had been leading secret negotiations with representatives of Iran’s Supreme leader … in an effort to normalize relations between the U.S. and Iran”.

The mind spins at the – what’s the word? — the audacity of it all. But the curious thing is not that there are people in high places willing to put self-interest ahead of the national interest. Such people are always with us. The curious thing is that the American people and the American press accept it with such equanimity.

During the Obama-Clinton-Kerry-Jarrett-Abedin years, Russia seized the Crimea, ISIS seized large parts of Iraq and Syria, the Taliban re-established itself in Afghanistan, allies stopped trusting us, enemies were emboldened, the Middle East was set on fire, and the Army was drastically reduced. Oh, and the way was cleared for Iran to have nuclear bombs. Future generations — if there are any — will wonder what we were thinking.

What we were thinking, they may discover, goes something like this (in shorthand brain language): “Mustn’t think that! Mustn’t say that! Not nice! What will people think!” You’d have to go back to the Victorian era to find another society with so much concern for propriety of thought and speech. … A sort of suicidal etiquette that chokes off common sense has grown up in our society. Under the rules of the new etiquette, we aren’t allowed to say that the Emperor has no clothes. We dare not even point out that the Emperor and his ministers appear to be throwing open the gates to the enemy.

Let’s see: The people of the United States elect as president a man they know very little about. When it becomes obvious that he has deep leftist sympathies combined with deep Islamist sympathies, they elect him again. He, in turn, appoints one Secretary of State who is beholden to Arab largesse, and then, after she steps down, he replaces her with a man who … has close family ties with Iran.

This time at last, in the coming election year, the Republican candidates whose broadcast debates will have the attention of millions of voters must take advantage of their opportunity to break through the protective wall the mainstream media have put round the Obama administration and the Democratic candidates. They must make all this – the ideology, the motivation, and the practices of Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and the rest of the gang – so well known to the electorate that no one who can read, watch TV, listen to radio, attend a political rally, or receive news through any medium, will be able to avoid knowing it. Or avoid knowing how perilous it is to their freedom, their safety, and even their survival.

Then if most voters choose Hillary Clinton for president …

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