Syria: Violence in the dark

Tales of imprisonment and torture by state security forces paint a picture of a regime in panic.
When widespread protests broke out in Syria in March, President Bashar al-Assad’s regime turned to its feared security services to smother the anti-government movement.

The bloody response has so far succeeded where other attempts to put down the “Arab awakening” have failed, and President Assad remains in power.

Verifying the toll of the crackdown is difficult, since the government has banned most journalists and observers, but activists and researchers say more than 10,000 people have been detained and at least 1,500 killed since March. A response of proportional size in the United States, by way of comparison, would have meant more than 136,000 people detained and 20,450 killed.

At least 66 people are believed to have died while in the custody of Syrian authorities, according to a list provided by activists to Human Rights Watch researcher Nadim Houry in June.

Outside audiences have encountered the regime’s brutal response primarily through grainy YouTube footage and second-hand accounts relayed by expatriate activists.

These brushstrokes paint a useful yet broad picture: a dozen people killed in this city, a thousand people protesting in that city.

But first-hand accounts from those who have been through the packed cells of Assad’s jails or those who have come under gunfire from his troops offer a more personal understanding of the uprising.

Recently, Al Jazeera spoke with six men, three of whom were in Syria, and three of whom had left the country. All had been arrested or seen relatives suffer at the hands of the security services.

Their stories, which are available below, portray a violent state system in a spasm of panic, unsure of what it is confronting, yet nevertheless determined to crush it.

Wrapped in a ‘legal fiction’

“There are two types of arrest going on. One is widescale arrests in areas that have seen large anti-government protests … and it’s a way to punish and create fear and intimidation,” Houry told Al Jazeera. “The other, it’s not targeted, the net is wide, but we see arrests of [people whose] names [are] produced via intelligence services and informants. Those include activists, but also those who participated in protests.”

The campaign of arrests, Houry said, is wrapped in a legal “fiction”. Though Assad lifted the country’s 48-year-old emergency laws in response to protests, making it illegal for security forces to detain someone for more than three days without referring them to a judge, the rules have not applied during the crackdown.

Some of those arrested are quickly released, some are sent to a judge, and others have simply “disappeared”, he said. Often, activists have been arrested to pressure their families and associates to stay out of protests – an attempt to “break the back” of the opposition movement, said Houry.

The charges used to detain protesters include making a public disturbance, inciting sectarian violence, or insulting the president. Most of those who go before a judge are released on bail, and Houry knows of no one who has gone through a trial.

In many cases, the administration has responded to restive towns by besieging them. The army, typically the 4th Division under the command of Assad’s brother Maher, stations tanks and armoured vehicles to block entrances and exits. Water, electricity and mobile phone services are often turned off. The army and other cooperating branches of the security forces enter the town and conduct wide sweeps, arresting hundreds of men, young and old. Resistance, even peaceful protest, is often confronted with lethal force. Dozens of videos posted online show these tactics at work.

Relatives of those who are killed on the street or tortured in custody have no opportunity to seek justice through the courts, Houry said.

Security officers often pressure families to sign documents saying their relative was killed by “armed gangs”, and they threaten to withhold the person’s body if the family does not agree. Some families have fought back by refusing to sign the papers and rallying local protests. In some cases, they have forced local officials to return bodies without conditions.

Long road to international court

Yaser Tabbara, a Chicago-based human rights lawyer and expatriate Syrian activist, is helping lead an effort among Syrian rights groups to focus international condemnation on the Assad regime and begin the process of international prosecution.

But bringing an international case against the Syrian regime will be difficult. Syria has never signed the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) founding treaty, so it is not subject to the court’s jurisdiction.

Tabbara hopes for another option. He wants the United Nations Security Council to makes its own referral, sending Syria to the ICC for investigation as it did with Libya, another country that never signed the treaty.

Tabbara studied under renowned international criminal law expert Cherif Bassiouni, often called the “father of the ICC”, and he has delivered a memo to the office of the court’s prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, in the Hague.

The memo, filed on behalf of the coalition of rights groups, lays out a legal argument for an investigation into the Assad regime, should the Security Council make a referral.

“There is a reasonable basis to believe that crimes against humanity were committed in the context of the Syrian popular uprising, in particular crimes against humanity of murder; imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty; enforced disappearance, persecution and torture,” it states. “There are so far no national proceedings implemented by the state to investigate and try those who bear the responsibility of these crimes.”

The chance of the Assad regime arranging its own fair investigation is “very slim”, the memo says.

‘A far-fetched idea’

The document is based on more than 400 meetings and 2,000 telephone interviews with witnesses conducted by members of various rights groups.

Tabbara related the story of one man he interviewed.

The man was driving in a suburb of Damascus when security forces stopped his car and searched it, looking for a memory card or any evidence that he had taken photographs of protesters. They detained the man and charged him with challenging the sovereignty of the state and denouncing the president.

During one interrogation, he was put into a stress position in a chair, his hands tied behind him to his feet, arching his back. They beat him and threatened to pull his nails out.

After a week, they gave him a court date and released him. A few days later, he was arrested again and put into solitary confinement for 20 days.

“This time it’s a different security branch. They don’t always talk to each other,” Tabbara said. “When someone is detained, two branches might not talk, one might not know where their target is, he might be sitting in another prison. That’s exactly what happened with this gentleman.”

The man’s court date came and went as he sat in jail. He was interrogated, but not tortured, and eventually released. He quickly went into hiding, as a third branch of the security forces came looking for him, and escaped the country.

Tabbara acknowledged that a Security Council referral “right now sounds like sort of a far-fetched idea”, but he said that expatriate Syrian opposition figures are lobbying the two key permanent members of the Council that have opposed harsh action: Russia and China.

Russia is upset with the way UN Resolution 1973 was used to begin an air campaign against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, and the Kremlin still sees strategic benefits in Assad, Tabbara said. Russia maintains a Soviet-era naval base in the city of Tartus, and reporting in recent years has suggested the country is interested in upgrading that facility, building another in Latakia and improving its naval presence in the eastern Mediterranean.

China, meanwhile, fears that international action to prevent Arab crackdowns during the season of uprisings will set a precedent that could make it harder for Beijing to use similar methods against its own internal dissent, Tabbara said.

For now, Syrian expats are visiting intellectuals, writers, government officials and media outlets in key council member states, lobbying and making the case that they need to “be on the right side of history”.

(english.aljazeera.net / 30.07.2011)
 

Gaza Hospitals Face Major Fuel Shortage

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Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza

July 29, 2011

Serious fuel shortages in Gaza are about to lead to a “humanitarian catastrophe” according to the director of public medical supplies. Already major hospitals have begun shutting down operating rooms as a result of the shortages according to Ma’an News Agency.

The Ministry of Health in Gaza claims that it has only received one quarter to one third of the fuel it requires for 2011. The fuel is critical for providing electricity through generators.

Operating rooms in Gaza City’s Ash-Shifa and the European Khan Younis hospitals have already been closed because of power shortages. It is feared that there will be further closures in these and other hospitals.

Further hospital closures will exacerbate the current humanitiarian crisis of the 1.5 million Palestinians living in Gaza.

Earlier this year, the hospitals also faced critical shortages of medical supplies.

Israel currently maintains a maritime blockade of Gaza and only keeps open one border crossing. Gaza also has a border crossing with Egypt.

(www.uruknet.info / 29.07.2011)

Saudi Writers: The Secret to Israel’s Success

On June 7, 2011, two Saudi columnists – the liberal Khalaf Al-Harbi, of the Saudi daily ‘Okaz, and Fawaz Al-‘Ilmi, of the Saudi daily Al-Watan – published articles comparing Israel’s situation to that of the Arab countries. Al-Harbi opined that the secret to Israel’s success lay in its democratic regime and its respect for the human rights of its citizens, while Al-‘Ilmi wrote that Israel’s prosperity was due to its investment in education and science. It should be noted that these articles are a rare phenomenon in the Saudi government press.

Following are excerpts of both articles:

Al-Harbi: “Do We Really Still Believe that Israel Is a Temporary Entity Bound to Disappear?”

Al-Harbi wrote: “When we were young, the teachers exhausted us by reiterating that Israel is, without question, a temporary and transient country. When we got old enough to read, newspapers and books filled our heads with reasons why Israel could not [continue to] exist in its Arab surroundings. For years, we waited for the moment when Israel would disappear, and here we are [today, witnessing] the moment when the Arab countries are beginning to topple, one after the other.

“A few days ago was the 44th anniversary of the naksa [i.e., the defeat in the 1967 war], when Israel swallowed up Arab lands… A week or more ago, [Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu delivered a brilliant speech before the American Congress in which he emphasized that Israel would not return to the 1967 borders. This statement means that Israel has achieved such a degree of complacency and tranquility that it is no longer willing to negotiate even over those lands it has admitted to occupying [in 1967], much less… over the lands it occupied in 1948. Do we really still believe that Israel is a temporary entity bound to disappear?

“Perhaps Israel will disappear in another 100 or 200 years, as no one can foresee what will happen in the future. However, looking at the current state of its Arab neighbors, I see addled countries, political entities that lack the ability to maintain their national unity, and armies that are not trying to wipe out Israel so much as to wipe out their own peoples…

“The secret to Israel’s survival, despite all the great challenges it has faced, lies in democracy and respect for the worth of the [Israeli] individual, regardless of [Israel’s] racism and brutality vis-à-vis its Arab enemies. The secret to the collapse of the Arab countries, one after another, lies in dictatorship and in the oppression of the individual… It is impossible for an Arab country, a neighbor of Israel, to succeed in liberating Palestine while denying dignity to individuals [within its own borders].

“Israel won war after war, and scooped up Arab lands larger than [Israel itself] in both size and population. It then went on [to develop] manufacturing, industry, and invention. The [average] income there is double [the average income] in the neighboring Arab countries. [Israel] has rendered itself an inescapable fact. Throughout all stages [of its development], it drew its power from the honor it granted to its citizens, while its Arab neighbors trampled the [poor] creatures known as their citizens under military boots.

“If only we could get in touch with our teachers to let them know that Israel still exists, while the Arabs are headed for destruction. In order to know who will remain and who will perish, one must always check who has democracy, human rights, and social justice.”[1]

Al-‘Ilmi: Israel Is at the Pinnacle of Scientific Research, the Arabs at Its Nadir

Al-‘Ilmi wrote: “…Tawasul[2] is the official website of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, and, unlike Arab websites, it updates its entries every 12 minutes around the clock and offers them in Arabic, Hebrew, Farsi, English, French, and Russian. On January 20, the website published a report which revealed that the only registry in the world for Arab bone marrow donors is located in the Hadassah Medical Center, associated with the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. It should be noted that the Arabs living in Israel constitute no more than 1.2 million of the world’s Arabs, who number upwards of 400 million.

“The report, prepared by Avigayil Kadesh, notes that Dr. Amal Bishara, who oversees organ donations at the Hadassah Medical Center – an Arab woman with a doctorate in life sciences and immunology – has single-mindedly visited more than 60 Arab villages and cities since the bone marrow registry was founded in 2008. [She did so] to further her own research and to supplement the Jewish registry, which has been active at the hospital for 22 years. Through lectures and social networking, the Arab doctor added 9,000 [Arab] donors, thereby enabling six [transplants] of donated bone marrow… It should be noted that 60% of Arabs [in need of such transplants] find donors within their families, and 90% of the requests for bone marrow transplants are for Arab children suffering from hereditary diseases due to consanguineous marriages.

“Before these Arab [donors] were registered, the Hadassah Medical Center largely failed to expand its donor registry, or to [arrange] donations from Jew to Arab or vice versa. But, thanks to the Arab doctor, perceptions have changed, and Arabs and Jews are willing to donate bone marrow [to one another] in order to save the life of someone they don’t even know.

“This year, Israel published numerous scientific studies that put it in first place worldwide in terms of the number of studies [published] per capita – 12 studies to every 10,000 people. America is in second place, with 10 studies [to every 10,000 people], followed by Britain, with nine. As for the Arab countries, they are all at the bottom end of these statistics.

“Reports on the gaps in science and technology between the Arabs and Israel show that the annual education expenses of the [average] Arab citizen has dropped to $340, while in Israel it is more than $2,500. Indices… that measure income, education, and health levels place Israel at 23rd place worldwide, while Egypt has dropped to 199th place, Syria to 111th, Jordan to 99th, and Lebanon to 82nd. As for the number of scientists engaged in research per one million citizens, Israel has 1,395, versus 136 in the Arab world… UNESCO’s statistics indicate that, on average, scientific research expenses in the Arab countries do not exceed 0.2% of the annual budget, whereas in Israel the figure is 4.7%, placing it in first place worldwide…

“For ten years now, Israel has been forming strategic ties with scientifically advanced countries in order to merge [its research] with their research centers, and in order to encourage its scientists to take part in international development programs. Today, there are 21 international science companies in Israel… It knows before everyone else the results of [these companies’] studies, reaping their fruits and using their scientific expertise to advance Israeli inventions.

“The Israeli strategy in science and technology is based on finding new approaches in scientific research and technological invention by training new generations of scientists – especially in physics, chemistry, and the natural and social sciences, as [Israel] is convinced that these sciences will allow it to control the world and direct its course.

“Since 1949, Israel has established marine geology and nuclear physics institutes, as well as [institutes] for the study of desert regions and information technology. Israel makes use of scientific research and technological development to secure its coasts and meet its [other] strategic defense and security needs, and in order to protect the environment, discover and develop natural resources and use them before others, produce electricity, communications, and information technology, and research [alternative] energy…”[3]

Endnotes:

[1] ‘Okaz (Saudi Arabia), June 7, 2011.

[2] Altawasul.com

[3] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), June 7, 2011.

(www.memri.org / 29.07.2011)

Anders Breivik Admirer of Israel, Daniel Pipes, Pam Geller and Robert Spencer!

The death toll from the savage attack in Norway has risen to 92 today.  Anders Breivik, a radical rightist who posted regularly to a neo-Nazi internet forum, is the only suspect arrested so far in the killings.
Electronic Intifada published excerpts of a 1,500 page magnum opus, A European Declaration of Independence, written by Breivik which portray his political philosophy.
Here, CNN covers the story of manifesto from a slightly different vantage than the one below.  For example, given the killer’s use of steroids and testosterone supplements, one speculates on the role they may’ve played in his rage-filled spree.
Chief among his enemies are Muslims and those non-Muslims who, in his mind, facilitate the triumph of Islam in the west. That’s why he specifically attacked the seat of national government and a youth camp sponsored by the ruling Labor Party.
The Norwegian terrorist has an obsession with Marxism, and apparently equates the current left of center government with that ideology.  Alex Kane notes that the day before the attack on the island camp, it held a Palestine solidarity rally (an event which would’ve repelled the killer).  He viewed the country’s leaders as aiding and abetting Muslim terror, and multiculturalism as the poison by which Islam could spread itself throughout the west.
In his writings, he expresses the belief that one glorious act of terror could foment a huge Muslim counter-reaction which would allow a rightist coup to take over both Norwegian and European governments.  The only problem with this scenario is that he attacked Norwegian targets and not Muslims ones.  That’s what is most inexplicable about this incident.  Given his hatred of Islam and his belief that it is at the core of the rot that affects the world, why wouldn’t he target Norwegian Muslims?  That’s doubtless something the investigators have asked him during interrogation.
Breivik viewed Israel as an ally in the war against Islam.  Alex Kane tweets that he wrote:
“Let’s end stupid support for Palestinians…start supporting our cultural cousin, Israel.”
He also wrote this:
Cultural conservatives believe Israel has a right to protect itself against Jihad…Sensible people should support Zionism (Israeli nationalism) which is Israel’s right to self-defence against Jihad.
More excerpts from his manifesto:
* If one acknowledges that Islam has always oppressed the Jews, one accepts that Israel was a necessary refuge for the Jews fleeing not only the European but also the Islamic variety of anti-Judaism.
* Since the break-up of the Islamic Empire following World War I, various jihads have been fought around the globe by the independent Muslim nations and sub-state jihadist groups. The most sustained effort has been directed against Israel, which has committed the unpardonable sin of rebuilding dar al-harb on land formerly a part of dar al-Islam.
* How can anyone delete the horror of Muslim oppression over Christians and Jews which lasted for centuries and stretched over continents?
* Western Journalists again and again systematically ignore serious Muslim attacks and rather focus on the Jews, [which] only adds to the stockpile of proof that all Western journalists support the EU’s Eurabia project, [and] their enemy (based on coverage) is the Israeli…government…
* Were the majority of the German and European Jews disloyal? Yes, at least the so called liberal Jews, similar to the liberal Jews today that oppose nationalism/Zionism and support multiculturalism. Jews that support multiculturalism today are as much of a threat to Israel and Zionism (Israeli nationalism) as they are to us. So let us fight together with Israel, with our Zionist brothers against all anti-Zionists, against all cultural Marxists/multiculturalists….So, are the current Jews in Europe and US disloyal? The multiculturalist (nation-wrecking) Jews ARE, while the conservative Jews ARE NOT.  Aprox. 75% of European/US Jews support multiculturalism while aprox. 50% of Israeli Jews does the same. This shows very clearly that we must embrace the remaining loyal Jews as brothers rather than repeating the mistake of the NSDAP. Whenever I discuss the Middle East issue with a national socialist he presents the anti-Israeli and pro-Palestine argument. He always seem unaware of the fact that his propaganda is hurting Israeli nationalists (who want to deport the Muslims from Israel) and that he is in fact helping the Israeli cultural Marxists/multiculturalists with his argumentation.
Ali Abunimah notes he especially admires Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beitenu Party.  Outside Israel, he also follows the writing of Pam Geller, Robert Spencer (referenced 46 times in the Breivik manifesto) and Daniel Pipes (11 times).  Yesterday, I quoted a Norwegian website which claimed that Breivik had identified himself as Fjordman, a regular contributor to the anti-jihadi blogs mentioned above.  Geller has denied a connection, as has Gates of Vienna, and it’s possible they are right.  I haven’t seen definitive evidence that either proves Breivik and Fjordman are the same or that they aren’t.  I will say though that Breivik’s writings under his own name show a much greater predilection toward violence; Fjordman’s, while equally radical, seem satisfied to remain in the realm of political theory, rather than action.
But even if they are not one and the same, the fact that Breivik’s intellectual-political philosophy is inspired by each of them is a sign of the cesspool of hate found there.  Just as settler rabbis held a pulsa di nura excommunicating Yitzhak Rabin before his assassination; just as Bibi Netanyahu fired up a crowd featuring pictures of Yitzhak Rabin dressed in an SS uniform shortly before the assassination, so did the intellectual content of these websites shape the world-view of the assassin.
I do not want to even think about what I would do if someone who’d praised or linked favorably to my work went on a murderous spree.  I’d like to think that the very nature of my beliefs would militate against violence.  But I sure as hell know I wouldn’t do what Geller’s done, which is to completely avoid any serious deliberation or reflection on the issue.    She’s not responsible she writes in a post about mass murder which is rather inappropriately titled, Heads Explode.  Rather “the left” is responsible for associating her in any way with the violence:
This is war. And the left is vicious, amoral and depraved. They mean to win, and that is the only way they know how.
Indeed, Anders Breivik couldn’t have put it any better himself.  As for me, I’d certainly denounce the deed and its author if they praised me, something I doubt you’ll hear from the keyboards of Pam Geller, Spencer or Pipes.
To give you an impression of the depths of self-delusion such pathological types are capable of, note this self-portrait:
I consider myself to be a laid back type and quite tolerant on most issues.  Due to the fact that I have been exposed to decades of multicultural indoctrination I feel a need to emphasise that I am not in fact a racist and never have been.
The “laid back, quite tolerant” mass murderer.  A new personality type in the annals of deviant psychology.
(www.ascertainthetruth.com /29.07.2011)

Italiaanse politicus geschorst na prijzen ideeën Breivik

Mario Borghezio, lid van de Italiaanse Lega Nord, is vandaag geschorst omdat hij de antimoslimretoriek van de Noorse terrorist Anders Behring Breivik prees. Borghezio is drie maanden op non-actief gesteld.

Borghezio zei op de Italiaanse radio dat hij Breiviks ‘weerstand tegen de islam’ deelt, evenals de oproep tot een ‘kruisvaart’ door christenen tegen Europa’s ‘afdrijving’ richting de islam. Volgens Borghezio denken ‘honderd miljoen mensen (in Europa) er ook zo over’.

Borghezio zit in het Europees Parlement en is een belangrijke regionale leider van de anti-immigrantenpartij Lega Nord, een coalitiepartner van de partij van premier Silvio Berlusconi. ‘

‘Ik gehoorzaam’
‘Ik beantwoord de schorsing op de manier die de militante soldaat die ik vind dat ik ben dat zou doen: ik gehoorzaam’, zei Borghezio tegen televisiestation La 7. ‘Ook al moet ik wel benadrukken dat de schorsing totaal onrechtvaardig is.’

Vandaag heeft Borghezio zijn excuses aangeboden aan de Noorse ambassade in Rome, meldde persbureau ANSA. Zijn uitlatingen zouden ‘verkeerd geïnterpreteerd’ zijn.

Breivik pleegde vorige week vrijdag twee aanslagen waarbij in totaal 77 mensen om het leven kwamen. Hij wilde de wat hij noemde islamitische verovering van Europa tegengaan.

‘Mladic patriot’
Borghezio staat bekend om zijn provocerende uitlatingen. In mei noemde hij oorlogsmisdadiger Ratko Mladic een patriot en zei hij dat de Serviërs de ‘oprukkende’ islam hadden kunnen tegenhouden.

(www.parool.nl / 29.07.2011)

10 Points on Excelling Ramadan

(Khaoula Mammad / Facebook / 29.07.2011)

Point One: Have the hunger for Success

  •  The medicine to help memorize/obtain knowledge is to have the burning desire to learn the subject, including the month of Ramadan:
  •  If you have the burning desire to succeed in the month of Ramadan, you will succeed it, because you prepare yourself for it.
  •  So have the heart and desire and don’t ever waste your time. You can also apply this to Ramadan:
  • Never give yourself an exit to fail in Ramadan!
  • Firstly, people get hopes to do stuff and succeed in Ramadan, then they give themselves an excuse to fail.

Point Two: Set your goals

  •  Make sure these are high goals
  • We have an ultimate goal: To reach janaatal firdous.
  • We should compete with each other, because this is something to compete in.
  •  When you start Ramadan, commit yourself to it, and set your goals to as high as you can.
  •  So if you want to do a Khatm-al-Qur’an (Read the whole Qur’an), then don’t just set your goal to one, set it to two times, or even three!
  •  Set a higher goal than you do in other months
  •  Add more good deeds to your schedule
  •  At least set it higher than last years

Point Three: Build confidence in Ramadan

  • People come to Ramadan with high expectations for themselves, like “Oh, this Ramadan I’ll read 10 times the Quran”, but then other people discourage them.
  •  They need to build confidence within themselves and know that they can do it!
  • No matter how much time you have, sit down and plan out your goals, and plan a strategy on how you’ll achieve these goals, and build confidence within yourself.

Point Four: Do what you love to do in Ramadan

  • Some people love to feed the poor, so they cook and feed the poor. Some people like to help, so they help people. Some people like to read the Qur’an, so they read it whenever they get a chance to, etc.
  • Do what you really love to do, choose and select, do the good deeds that you love doing, not the ones that you think isn’t really your specialty, or something that you don’t enjoy doing.
  •  Then gradually, build a habit of doing it as well.
  • The Prophet (Sallahu Alayhi Wa Sallaam) commanded us to achieve that which is little yet continuous.
  •  Some people start Ramadan with doing as many good deeds as they can, and then they burn themselves out, so do little but keep it continuous.

Point Five: Study the successful: learn from the best

  • What does this mean
  • When we read a story about the successful ones, it boosts our morale and makes us feel like we can relate to it, like when we read a story from the Qur’an, and it makes us feel like we can relate to it.
  •  So when we learn from the people of the past that were successful, we can see what they did in order to be successful.
  • Go and check some biography of some of the scholars and how they spent their times in Ramadan.
  • Remember: Keep these stories with you in the month of Ramadan, and every time you feel like you’re getting weaker and weaker, go back to these stories.

Point Six: Be in the company of the successful one

  •  The previous point was about the people you learn about in stories and books.
  •  But instead of reading about these successful people, and being like “That was nice, but it was all theoretical”, then why not spend your time WITH the successful ones in your community?
  •  Who can help you achieve these goals you have, you’ll definitely find at least one or two of these types of people in Ramadan, go look for these people!
  •  Remember, habits can make you go high in Ramadan or low in Ramadan, they can be very contagious!
  •  So in order to obtain good habits, associate yourself with them, so be in the company of righteous and good people so you can catch their habits and make them your own.
  • If you want to be a high achiever in Ramadan, then you’ll have to be with people who achieve high goals.
  •  But on the other hand, if you’re with people that have bad habits, then you’ll catch their bad habits.
  • The Prophet (Sallahu Alayhi Wa Sallaam) says “The example of the good and bad companion is the example of one that smells perfume vs a blacksmith. With the one that smells like perfume, you’ll smell like perfume like him, but if you’re with the blacksmith, then at the very least you’ll smell really bad.”
  •  It’s the same thing with people you associate yourself with in Ramadan.

Point Seven: When you work on your goals, go all out and work really hard on them

  •  When you start your achievements, work hard and go all out on them.
  •  You won’t try to achieve your goals whenever it’s convenient for you, but rather, whenever you have spare time.
  •  If you’re serious about achieving these goals, you have to be very serious about them.
  •  Allah reminded the Prophet (Sallahu Alayhi Wa Sallaam) “When you’re done doing your dawah work outside, put yourself in worship until you get tired.”
  •  You need to put a priority on these goals that you have.
  • The prophet (Sallahu Alayhi Wa Sallaam) reminds us of how to move from one level to the other. He said “There is one night in the month of Ramadan, and whoever achieves it, he has achieved a thousand months”.
  •  If you want to look for it, then look for it in the last 10 nights. So the sahabah became more focused.
  • Then it’s said that it was on an odd night
  •  The point here is that the prophet keeps reminding the people to be more focused since their momentum is going down.
  •  So this is what it means to go all out and focus on it since it only comes once a year.

Point Eight: Be prepared and be adaptable

  •  Be prepared for change!
  • Many people, when they come to a program, they start really well but then they start losing momentum later on.
  •  Expect yourself to change plans in the month of Ramadan
  •  You need to expect to adapt to the changes in the month of Ramadan. It’s better to do so then to lose hope and give up on your goals and plans.
  •  Don’t overdo something and don’t have unrealistic goals, but have high goals and be prepared to adapt to these goals
  •  Do not  cancel the good deeds completely that you have started just because you think of the good deeds that you have started was too high to attain.

Point Nine: Remind yourself of the virtue of what you are doing

  • Allah says in the Qur’an “Remind and teach the message for that it benefits the believer.”
  •  You yourself in the month of Ramadan are going to feel tired and exhausted.
  •  So go to someone and ask for advice and seek help for someone to remind you.
  •  You yourself remind yourself by sitting a few minutes at night in seclusion and make dhikhr and dua and think about what’s in store for the one who is fasting.
  •  Every now and then, remind yourself of the virtue of fasting.
  •  Keep the hadith of fasting in Ramadan handy, and the virtue of the Lailatul Qadr, etc.
  • Eventually, go attend a powerful reminder and/or program in the masjid.

Point Ten: Never give up!

  • If the shaitaan wants anything from us, he wants us to give up.
  •  Every time people start making ibadaat, we get weaker, and then we stop doing it because shaytaan keeps whispering into us and saying “Dude, you know you can’t do that right? You’re not the person to achieve this good deed”
  •  And then you fall into that trap.
  • Never GIVE UP!!! Even if you realize that it is the last day of Ramadan and you have missed out on many opportunities to do good still use that moment you have. Even if it is the last hour of RAMADAN! Never give up…

The Forgotten Palestinians

Yasir M Tineh | July 27, 2011

Can you guess whom are the forgotten Palestinians?, are you one of the forgotten Palestinian?

I’m one of many, that are heard of on the news but their reality is never visible, never discussed in “negotiations”, never considered a power pawn in our own conflict

The Palestinians of the Diaspora are the forgotten Palestinians. One of the driving forces for the Palestinian cause post-48 was refugee’s and the right of return, though we have seen recently in the many forms and many revelations how much that has been abandoned , from the Aljazeera Palestinian Papers that detailed how much the PA has made concessions in the matter of the right of return, to the decision of Mahmoud Abbas of approaching the UN to recognize Palestine through a “unilateral” recognition which is basically an endorsement of the Two-State solution which is highly opposed by the Palestinian of the Diaspora because it would severely limit the right of return.

Forgotten because our voice is never polled even if we look at “fair&just” governmental elections around the world, we see how citizen are allowed to vote where-ever they maybe through their embassies.

something that is unheard of in the matter of Palestinians, its seems that the world and even the PA has reduced the Palestinians to only those who reside in the 1967 borders, forgetting those that were banished from their homes in 1948 to other countries and even forgetting those who remained in the 1948 and became forcefully part of “Israel”.

I will end with a statement that I love for its simplicity, complexity & beauty of expression, “We can be forgotten but we will never forget” – That is all I have to say for now as a Forgotten Palestinian.

Source & More at the great weblog of Yasir Tineh

(occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com / 29.07.2011)

Spong betrekt Noors bloedbad bij zaak tegen Wilders

Advocaat Gerard Spong betrekt het bloedbad in Noorwegen bij de zaak die hij voor het Europees Hof tegen Geert Wilders wil aanspannen. Spong zei vandaag op Radio 1 dat de PVV-leider heeft “bijgedragen aan de ontwikkeling en daden” van Anders Behring Breivik.

“Ik zou zeggen dat hij het Noorse bloed op zijn lippen heeft”, aldus Spong. De advocaat was ooit de aanstichter van het proces tegen Wilders. Direct na de vrijspraak kondigde Spong aan in beroep te gaan bij het Europees Hof en vroeg de procureur-generaal van de Hoge Raad een zogeheten cassatie in het belang der wet in te stellen. “Ik heb de procureur- generaal bij de Hoge raad gevraagd het Noorse bloedbad bij de zaak te betrekken en dat zal ik ook zeker doen bij Europees hof”, zei Spong. “Die dingen kunnen niet helemaal los van elkaar worden gezien.”

Volgens Spong speelt Wilders de vermoorde onschuld, “maar hij heeft hoe dan ook op zijn minst bijgedragen aan het klimaat dat tot die gruwelijke daad heeft geleid.” Wilders zelf nam na het bloedbad direct afstand van de daad en het gedachtegoed van Breivik, maar Spong vond dat een erg simpele ontkenning. “Wilders moet onder ogen zien dat zijn politieke ideeën wortel hebben geschoten bij een mijnheer in Noorwegen.” Dat dit leidde tot een gruwelijke tragedie is iets waar Wilders “de rest van zijn leven mee zal moeten leren leven.”

Wilders: Spong heeft een Wilders-fobie
“Spong heeft blijkbaar een Wilders-fobie”, zo reageerde de PVV-leider vandaag vanaf zijn vakantieadres. “Arme man, hij is kennelijk zo geobsedeerd door mij dat hij deze beledigende wartaal uitslaat. Ik neem hem niet meer serieus, net als de meeste mensen, denk ik.”

(www.trouw.nl / 29.07.2011)

Settlers Attack International With An Iron Bar

Three settlers from the illegal West Bank settlement of Havat Maon harassed three Palestinian shepherds and attacked two internationals observers near Mesheha hill. The masked settlers threw stones at the internationals as well as hitting one of them with an iron bar on the head.

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The Palestinian shepherds were tending to their flocks when the settlers came to harass them and attack the internationals at 9:15AM Wednesday July 27, 2011.

The shepherds left the area before being attacked by the settlers but the Internationals were attacked.

One of the internationals was a member of the Christian Peacemaker Team. The settler ruined this international’s camera. After being attacked by the settler, the international was sent to the hospital to receive eight stitches.

The four unidentified settlers chased both of the internationals back to At-Tuwani.

The international organizations, Operation Dove and the Christian Peacemaker Team, have maintained a presence at At-Tawani and the south Hebron hills since 2004.

Operation Dove and the Christian Peacemakers team has captured six occasions where settlers from Havot Maon have attacked Palestinian’s or internationals by Mesheha hill since June 22, 2011, according to Maan News Agency.

All settlements and outposts in the West Bank are illegal under Israeli and international law.

(www.imemc.org / 29.07.2011)

Israeli Army Attacks Dutch Music Orchestra with Tear Gas

Nablus – PNN – The Dutch street orchestra ‘Fanfare van de Eerste Liefdesnacht’ (the First Night of Love Brass Band) from Amsterdam was attacked with tear gas today by the Israeli army during their performance in the Palestinian village Kufr Qadum near Nablus, northern West Bank.

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De Fanfare van de Eerste Lief des Nacht

The bands tour of Palestine  is designed to be interactive, working with children from a refugee camp in the east of Bethlehem and having them play along with the band and dancing in the streets together.

The musicians were confronted with tens of soldiers who shot tear gas cannisters from behind their military jeeps during the musical performance. They then found themselves surrounded with snipers. Several members of the band were injured and suffered from tear gas inhalation.
Kufr Qadum is a village near Nablus that has suffered in recent years from radical jewish settlers who have attacked the villagers, cut down olive trees and set fire to fields. The roads that lead to the village are often blocked by Israeli military checkpoints.
The Dutch music orchestra has travelled around the West Bank for a duration of two weeks to perform in towns, villages and refugee camps. The band consists of 25 musicians with different musical instruments. They were invited by the town council of Kufr Qadum to perform in the village.

(english.pnn.ps / 29.07.2011)