Silence in the face of Injustice is a Crime

Why was our Muslim World absent in such an bewildering manner?
Why was not its voice heard or actions seen in protest and anger?


The events in Kosova have given us a double shock. The human tragedy there is terrible in itself, but the silence of those who should be concerned by virtue of their ties with the Kosovars – Those in the Arab and the Muslim world – make it all the more terrible.

Last week, AFP reported from Tel Aviv, the statement of an Israeli government official expressing his country’s concern over the fate of 50 Jews living in Kosova. But we have not yet heard a similar voice from our Arab and Muslim world about the fate of 1.5 million Muslims living in the same province. The Israeli official, for all his concern, must be confident that the 50 Jews are safe and sound, that if harm has come to anyone of them, it must have come by mistake and that quick amends would be made for the mistake and there would be a thousand apologies from Belgrade. The victim will be given exorbitant compensation because the blood of a Jew has a high value.

As for 1.5 million Muslims, they are being slaughtered before our eyes every day. We see them terrorized and humiliated and their houses set on fire, on our television screens all the 24 hours of the day with every news bulletin. The veritable hell their life has become and how terror follows them even as they shuffle through wooded hills and over the snow are detailed in the reports we have been reading every day in our morning newspapers for the last two weeks.

It is a shame that none of these horrors created an echo in the Arab and Muslim world. We watched demonstrations in Belgrade and several other world capitals in support of of the Serbs or against NATO’s air strikes. Newspapers carried pictures of attacks on U S and German embassies in Belgrade and the U S Embassy in Moscow.

We also read that a school in Greek Cyprus, showing sympathy with Belgrade, decided to dismiss students from the Countries taking part in the NATO operations.

However, there was no mention of even a single demonstration in any Arab or Muslim capital condemning the genocide of Muslims. It was as though the world to which we belong was totally absent from the scene of action and that the Muslims exists only on maps.

This raises several questions:

Why was our Muslim World absent in such an bewildering manner? Why was not its voice heard or actions seen in protest and anger? Why do Muslims remain silent about the tragedies of the million-and-half of their brothers in Kosova,while Israel is shouting about the fate of 50 Jews? Do they think that NATO attacks are enough and that they need not speak up?

True Arab and Muslim countries have issued statements, some denouncing the massacres and others calling for an end to violence and a political settlement. Some Arab countries have sent food relief to the refugees. However, their voice was not strong enough and was not heard. It was too cautious and lukwarm. Nor was the relief sufficient enough to make a difference.

I asked several Arab diplomats, well-informed on what is happening behind the scene, about the reasons for this caution and indifference in dealing with the issue. They agreed that the official statements were cautious, but insisted that there was no indifference. They argued that if Muslim countries took a strong and united stand in confronting the Serb aggression, it would give the impression that it was a conflict between Islam and Orthodox Curch. Muslim countries are keen not to create such a wrong impression. They also explained that some Arab countries have reservations about the NATO air strikes without legitimacy such as a resolution by the U N Security Council, that even though they support the punishment of Serbs, they reject the principle of powerful countries acting outside the Security Council, as though NATO was a substitute for that body; and that it is an extremely dangerous principle which, if accepted, will legitimize similar attack on some Arab countries. Therefore, my diplomatic friends explained most Arab countries are for punishing the Serbs but are against the NATO action, not wishing to state these reservations explicitly, they have been making their official statements moderate and ambigious creating some confusion and misunderstanding. They added that Arab and Muslim countries really sympathized with the Kosovar Muslims, but had reservations about Kosovar ’s secession from Yougoslavia because,if they accepted that, they themselves might face a similar situation.

Naturally, I cannot say this represents the Arab and Muslim view. All that I can say is that these are the views some Arab diplomats keep on repeating. However, I do not find in it a convincing reason for Arab foreign ministers and the OIC not expressing their solidarity with Kosovar Muslims and demanding that the Serbs stop their atrocities against Muslims and at the same time urging NATO to a adhere to the international law and not to take any step without the approval of the U N Security Council. The issues of religious freedom and secession can be handled in a way that will respect the Kosovar’s fundamental rights- including the right to their own cultural and religious identity.

It is not my intention to tell Arab and Muslim countries what they should do. What is my concern is that Kosova Muslims should not be left to face their desperate situation while their brother Muslims remain silent as mere spectators.

However, worse than silence was the baffling statement from three Arab countries. Iraq, Libya and Algeria have demanded that the attack against the Serbs be stopped without any mention of the Serb crimes and slaughter of Muslims in Kosova. Such a stand destroys the hopes of Muslims and multiply their pain.

It was also painful to hear some Arabs living in Serb areas defending the policy of Belgrade and repeating the Serb justification for the killing of Kosovar Muslims and putting all the blame on the United States and NATO. It was unfortunate that these Arab commentators and journalists are happy to be the mouthpieces of Serbs and are choosing the enemies of Kosovar Muslims as their friends.

If Arab and Muslim countries want to take a positive stand expressing solidarity with the Muslims of Kosova without involving themselves in the issue of air strikes they can take initiative at two levels, one diplomatic and the other humanitarian.

First they can follow the example of Jordon by recalling their ambassadors from Belgrade as message of protest to the brutal regime. I wish they would also expel Serb ambassadors from their capitals, their return conditional on Belgrade stopping the atrocities against Muslims. If they could do that, the message will be much more forceful.

Secondly, Arab and Muslim countries should intensify the relief works, as a message of solidarity with the victims. If the International Islamic Relief Organization, with its vast resources and expertise, were to throw its weight behind the effort, it would play a glorious role in responding to the meeds of the Muslims and lighten the burden on their shoulders.

The Arab and Muslim world has the capacity to give without limit. It is capable of taking up responsibilities in the best possible manner. All that is needed is a political decision expressing real will and determination.

Let’s do something. To keep silence in the face of injustice is in itself injustice. If we are not making a move to support and help Muslims in a situation such as this, when will make a move? If we are not angry at this catastrophe, when will we be angry?

( / 28.03.2011)

Hamas: Egyptian authorities offer to open Rafah crossing

A leading figure in the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas said on Monday that the Egyptian authorities have “promised to open the Rafah crossing and improve procedures for crossing.”

Mahmoud Al-Zahar also said the Supreme Council of Armed Forces has assigned a military representative to discuss the details of the crossing re-opening.

“Hamas would never tamper with Egyptian national security,” he said. “Accusations that we were behind the Alexandria church blast were proven false.”

Al-Zahar, who is currently visiting Cairo, said he will ask the Egyptian foreign minister to determine the number of Palestinians detained in Egyptian prisons in preparation for negotiating their release.

“We are here to explain our stance on internal Palestinian discord and try to resolve it,” he added.

( / 28.03.2011)

Moslimpartij mikt op jeugd

De Nederlandse Moslim Partij (NMP) is vastbesloten voet aan de grond te krijgen in Gouda. Daarbij richt de partij zich vooral op de jeugd. Doel is om jongeren op te leiden om deel te nemen aan de gemeenteraadsverkiezingen van 2014 voor de NMP.

Er wordt in Gouda veel te veel óver jongeren gesproken en veel te weinig mét. Dat is de stellige mening van Henny Kreeft, oprichter van de Nederlandse Moslim Partij.

Als voorbeeld noemt hij de situatie in Oosterwei. ,,Er komt steeds maar geld vrij voor projecten voor jeugd, maar dat wordt besteed aan allerlei initiatieven buiten de jongeren om. Denk aan het Veiligheidshuis, een plaats waar wéér gepraat en overlegd wordt over, maar zonder de jongeren zelf.’’

Merkwaardig, vindt Kreeft. ,,De jeugd wordt nauwelijks gevraagd naar hun ideeën, hun toekomstplannen. De Nederlandse Moslim Partij is van mening dat er geïnvesteerd moet worden in deze jongeren, per slot van rekening zijn het wel ónze jongeren.’’ Dus gaat de partij – die begin dit jaar al bijeenkwam voor partijoverleg in buurthuis ‘t Wiel – de komende tijd besteden om zoveel mogelijk jonge bewoners van Oosterwei te mobiliseren. ,,Concreet willen we twee of drie jongeren uit de wijk begeleiden en opleiden in de politiek, zodat ze onze partij kunnen vertegenwoordigen tijdens de komende gemeenteraadsverkiezingen.’’

Ook wil de partij met een groepje van zo’n tien jongeren aan de slag, om ze op te leiden tot wijkopzichter of beveiliger.

Kreeft heeft inmiddels een tweetal geïnteresseerden in de wijk bereid gevonden zich in te zetten voor de partij. ,,Hun namen geef ik nog niet prijs, dat komt snel. Maar zij voeren nu namens de NMP gesprekken met bewoners, moskee-besturen, ondernemers en moslima’s. Ze worden overal enthousiast onthaald.’’

Eerder gaf een aantal moslims in deze krant aan geen behoefte te hebben aan de komst van de NMP in Gouda. ,,Mohammed Mohandis voorspelde dat wij een splinterpartijtje zullen blijven. Dat mag hij zeggen, maar ik denk juist dat we veel kunnen betekenen voor de verschillende wijken in Nederland waar het op dit moment niet op rolletjes loopt. We hebben een hoop kennis en betrokkenheid in huis en willen die graag inzetten. Of dat nou in Oosterwei is, of de Haagse Schilderswijk.’’

Kreeft benadrukt dat de partij niet alleen opkomt voor moslims. ,,We staan open voor iedereen, komen op voor de zwakkeren. Wel zijn we tegen een burka-verbod, vóór islamitisch bankieren en staan welwillend tegenover de komst van nieuwe moskeeën. Het moet gewoon duidelijk zijn: er is een plaats voor de moslim in dit land.’’

Daarom wil de NMP ook een inloopspreekuur beginnen in de wijk, bemand door allochtone medewerkers van de partij en een centrum opzetten, specifiek bedoeld voor de vrouwen. ,,Binnenkort hebben we een tweede overleg in de wijk en kunnen we onze plannen verder ontwikkelen. Hoe meer medestanders, hoe sterker we staan.’’

( / 28.03.2011)

Pakistan: A revolution against whom?

Pakistan is a country often described as being on the brink – of what, precisely, is up for speculation. There are fears economic, social and political crises, separately and simultaneously, will cause the country to implode into an ungovernable, anarchical mess: a failing, if not failed, state.

Indeed, there are those who argue that this has already happened.

On the one hand, it is difficult to argue with the point that the country is facing simultaneous challenges on several fronts.

With inflation on basic household items at 18.88 per cent (according to government figures) and unemployment at an estimated 15 per cent (according to the CIA’s World Factbook), households in Pakistan are feeling the economic pinch.

Simultaneously, the country appears to lurch from one political crisis to another. The latest issue in the political sphere could have come straight out of a spy novel: the case of Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor who shot and killed two Pakistanis on a Lahore street who he said were attempting to rob him, and was then released after the payment of $2.3 million in compensation to the victims’ families.

The opposition, led by Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N party, has slammed the government for dithering over the issue of whether or not Davis had diplomatic immunity, and for allowing the deal to be struck, terming it a question of sovereignty.

Meanwhile, the opposition also continues to criticise the government for its performance on service delivery, revenue generation, economic policy and foreign policy (specifically its stance to tacitly stand by the US and its use of drone strikes on Pakistani territory, while simultaneously being unable to curb extremist attacks in the country).

Things do not appear much better on the social front, with public discourse lurching towards an ever-narrower view of what is acceptable, as evidenced by the recent killings of Shahbaz Bhatti, the federal minister for minorities, and Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab, for their stance against the country’s blasphemy laws as they currently stand. Analysts argue that the murders are indicative of a country where the social sphere is going through an upheaval that leaves less and less space for liberal discourse.

It is the Davis case, though, that Imran Khan, the leader of the Pakistani Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, believes will be the spark that lights public discontent into a mass uprising. Speaking to Time magazine, he says the country is “completely ready” for a revolution, “even more … than Egypt was”.

Khan called for mass rallies to be held on the Friday after Davis was released, but only a few hundred people showed up at the PTI’s gatherings. Several religious parties, too, called for demonstrations, but were unable to create significant momentum. This after weeks of rallies in several cities where thousands would call for Davis to be tried and hanged.

So what’s the difference, then, between Pakistan and Egypt, or Tunisia, where popular uprisings based on several of the same push-factors (high inflation, rampant unemployment and a public that feels completely disconnected from the power of the State) have occurred?

“You quickly run out of the similarities [with Egypt and Tunisia],” says Cyril Almeida, an Islamabad-based columnist. “Far more interesting, and numerous, are the differences.”

Almeida points out that the uprisings currently being seen across the Middle East are aimed at “long-running dynasties or autocratic rulers”.

Protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, Manama’s Pearl roundabout and Sanaa’s University Square were united by one slogan: “The people want the fall of the regime”.

“In Pakistan … we get rid of our dictators every ten years or so… There is no ‘regime’ to overthrow … the first question is: an uprising against whom?” asks Almeida.

And it is that question that strikes to the heart of the difference between Pakistan and Arab states that are currently facing political upheaval. The political landscape in the country is fundamentally different from that of the Arab states where uprisings are currently occurring, because while protesters in Tripoli, Sanaa, Manama, Cairo, Tunis and other cities were calling for dictators to be overthrown and free and fair elections to be held, Pakistan has no ‘regime’, and already holds elections.

“Why would you need an uprising against Asif Zardari [Pakistan’s president] when you know 24 months from now that he’s going to get chucked out? Who do you revolt against?” asks Almeida.

“You can argue that there can be a popular uprising against the political system itself, i.e. against electoral democracy predicated on routine elections and transfer of power, but then you’re in a very different kind of uprising,” he says.

Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi, a professor of political science and a political analyst, agrees.

“It is different [from the Arab world] in two or three respects,” he told Al Jazeera. “First, the political system is not so oppressive in Pakistan, and you have a lot of freedom to express your views to organise against the government, set up political parties. And the media, unlike the media in the Arab world, is very free.”

Moreover, Pakistan arguably already saw its own popular uprising in 2007, when lawyers led a successful political protest movement against former president, General (retd) Pervez Musharraf.

Second, Rizvi points to an existing framework of elections allowing for governments to be changed.

His third point, however, is as telling as the question of who to revolt against:

“Unlike Egypt, or even Tunisia, there is a lot of fragmentation, both political and religious. Split after split – the situation is very polarised in Pakistan. And the religious parties are too ideological and more literalist in their approach than the Islamic parties in [those countries]. The possibility of a nationwide uprising that involves all sections of the population – all political, ideological and ethnic groups – that  kind of possibility is very limited.”

Rizvi says that while there are “common factor[s]” in the population of Pakistan being very young, an “acute dissatisfaction with the performance of the government at all levels, whether federal or provincial”, and “widespread alienation from the rulers and the democratic experiment”, the greater danger in Pakistan is of a government that is unable to govern.

“Pakistan is threatened with a state of anarchy,” he says, “rather than a nationwide agitation that would topple the government… the situation may be different in Pakistan, but that doesn’t necessarily mean things are stable.”

An economy in crisis

Economically, too, Pakistanis are caught between a (increasingly expensive) rock and a hard place. With prices of household goods spiraling (though below the inflation levels of more than 20 per cent seen in 2008), and limited opportunities for work for both skilled and unskilled labour, they are feeling the pinch.

Kaiser Bengali, a well-respected economist who has worked with the Pakistan People’s Party-led government in the past, argues that the situation in the rural areas is not as bad as in urban centres, where “manufacturing is in a state of recession”.

For Bengali, the main issue remains one of revenue generation. Without adequate revenue, the government continues to run a deficit of around six per cent, two percentage points above what was agreed under the terms of an International Monetary Fund emergency loan taken a little over two years ago.

Tax collection rates remain low, and “any new tax would meet opposition”, Bengali says, because taxes that target industries would hurt the PML-N’s primary electorate in Punjab.

“Currently the government is trying to meet the deficit [targets of four per cent set by the IMF] by cutting development expenditure,” he told Al Jazeera. That means less money for everything from road and infrastructure construction to income support programmes for the country’s poor.

Bengali argues that between fighting an insurgency, providing flood relief and a “stagnation” of revenues, the government is forced to “squeeze” on development projects that not only provide infrastructure, but also jobs.

In recent months, the government has seen a large amount of political wrangling over the issue of a Reformed General Sales Tax (RGST) and a proposed agricultural tax that would target large landholdings.

Bengali argues that the RGST, an indirect tax, in actuality targets large industries as much as it does consumers, and that the agricultural tax is a “good political slogan”, but difficult to enforce.

In a sign of how dire Pakistan’s income emergency is, the government on March 15 unveiled a “mini-budget” that, between expenditure cuts and new taxes, would free up Rs120 billion. The move implements development expenditure cuts and introduces Rs53 billion in new taxes on income, imports, agriculture and other sectors. The taxes were introduced through presidential ordinances, exempting them from parliamentary approval, with the express intention of meeting the IMF targets.

Almeida sums up the economic stresses, independent of the government’s budgetary concerns:

“The economy is doing wretchedly, there is rampant unemployment and lack of growth combining to leave the urban poor particularly vulnerable, if not already plunged into a state of deep economic misery.”

Of right wing parties and ‘confused idealists’

Activists in Pakistan say that while the economic and political stresses exist in Pakistan, the difference in landscape makes an uprising unlikely.

Al Jazeera spoke to Fahad Desmukh, a Pakistani activist and journalist who has lived in Bahrain, where the February 14 uprising is currently calling for major political reforms, for much of his life.

“Bahrain is relatively free socially, but not politically … opposition activists have been jailed for demanding changes, so the avenues available for expressing social and political frustration are limited,” he says. “On the other hand, Pakistan has a much longer history of political activity, with long-established political parties, student groups and labour unions. The parliament and the executive are elected, and the media is much more free. It means there are more avenues to express frustration and ‘let off steam’, as it were.”

Desmukh argues that given the lack of a ‘regime’ to revolt against, the only kind of uprising that would “make sense” in Pakistan would be class-based, aimed at ending the country’s feudal system. He concedes, however, that “this seems unlikely in the near future”.

The only other option would appear to be protests against the country’s military, which holds great influence over the political sphere, but Desmukh, Rizvi and Almeida all agree that such action is also unlikely.

Beena Sarwar, a political and human rights activist, argues that those calling for a popular uprising in Pakistan are actors “who know they will not come into power through the electoral process – the right wing so-called religious parties… and confused idealists like Imran Khan who seem to have no grip on political realities”.

Sarwar says that included in this group are politically disillusioned educated young people who are “alienated from the political process” and are “fired by emotion, youthful zeal and vague ideas of Islamic supremacy and anti-Americanism”.

She argues that wide-ranging political change “will come if the political process is allowed to continue”, through the political parties and parliament, without interference from Pakistan’s military, which, historically, has interrupted democratic transitions with coups.

Democracy’s ‘birth pangs’

Rizvi, the professor of political science, and Almeida, the columnist, both disagree, however, at least in so far as the chances of there being any actual positive change.

Almeida says that while he expects elections to take place as scheduled in 2013, “electoral disappointments are likely”.

“People forget that the only other option for power [the PML-N] is already in power in Punjab. It mirrors the PPP’s performance … between the PML-N in Punjab and the PPP in Islamabad, there is very little to tell them apart, in terms of incompetence.”

“The latest phase of electoral politics is less than three years old, so I don’t think there’s any fatigue with the system, even if there’s genuine tiredness with the current government… Ultimately the great worry for Pakistan is that it may not have enough time to go through the birth pangs of democracy because of the security situation.”

Rizvi agrees that the outlook for political change is bleak.

“[The political parties] are good at engaging in polemics, they are good at criticising, but none has been able to present a formula or a framework for addressing socioeconomic problems,” he says, pointing to the example of the issue of terrorism, on which political parties “make ambiguous statements and avoid taking a categorical position against particular groups”.

“I don’t expect [new political players to gain popular support] in the near future, because all the political parties lack ideals and a sense of direction, except in rhetoric.

“The thing I would repeat is my fear that increasingly the Pakistani state system is on a very fast downward slide. If it is not collapsing, it is losing its capacity to function effectively.”

With another military coup unlikely, given that the memory of a Pakistan under Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf that was not doing much better is still fresh in most Pakistanis’ minds, and the likelihood of substantive political change from within the existing system being limited, at least in the short term, what appears most likely is that Pakistan will, as it has for so many years now, blunder on.

It is a country riven with ethnic, religious and political divisions, battling multiple insurgencies (in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Balochistan), and facing both economic and identity crises.

“And yet,” as Anatol Lieven, a scholar and journalist argues in a soon to be released book, “it moves.”

( / 28.03.2011)

Dagbesteding voor Marokkaanse vrouwen!

Per 1 mei zal Multi Maatzorg, in samenwerking met stichting Vecht & IJssel, een dagbesteding openen voor Marokkaanse vrouwen (55+)!

De dagbesteding biedt u een ontmoetingsplaats in de Utrechtse wijk Transwijk. In het gezelschap van andere Marokkaanse vrouwen en onder begeleiding van onze medewerker,kunt u deelnemen aan een programma in het kader van uw gezondheid en preventie.
U kunt rekenen op diverse activiteiten die aansluiten op uw behoeften, waar u gedurende een of meerdere dagdelen aan kunt deelnemen.

De activiteiten vinden plaats tussen 10:00 en 16:00.

Het vervoer is voor u geregeld, waardoor u dagelijks gebracht en opgehaald kan worden.

Op een ontspannen wijze en in een voor u vertrouwde omgeving, staat uw gezondheid en welzijn voor ons centraal!

Er is plaats voor maximaal 12 vrouwen per dagdeel, dus wacht niet te lang met uw aanmelding!

Voor meer informatie of aanmelding kunt u telefonisch contact opnemen met Siham Jayab of Trix Oskam via (030) 245 94 93. Mailen kan op

European campaign welcomes UNHRC decision to open Gaza crossings

BRUSSELS, (PIC)– The European campaign to end the siege on Gaza has said a recently passed decision by the UN Human Rights Council to open Gaza’s crossings will ”lose importance” if left unenforced.

”Although it has come late, it came in the right direction, and it requires active pursuit of its implementation,” the campaign said.

It said the region falls at risk of disaster as Israel has launched several airstrikes killing civilians while maintaining an economic blockade that is responsible for a dangerous depletion of needed medical supplies in the Strip.

The UNHRC has passed a resolution that orders the opening of the Karni crossing on Gaza’s border with Israel and the Rafah crossing on the Egyptian border in order to ensure the flow of food, basic supplies, and UN agencies deployed to the occupied Palestinian territories.

The UNHRC has also voted on four resolutions regarding the Israel-Palestinian conflict, including a decision asking the UN Security Council to review the Goldstone report, which includes holding several Israeli military leaders at the International Criminal Court to be tried for war crimes committed in the 2008-2009 attack on Gaza.

The Palestinian foreign ministry under PM Haneyya’s cabinet condemned the US over bias towards Israel during the voting process.

The ministry said the slight measures the UNHRC took concerning West Bank settlement construction were not proportionate to the scale of property confiscated daily by the Israeli occupation authorities.

According to the fourth Geneva convention, it is classified a war crime to transfer Israeli residents to occupied territories.

(find on Facebook / 28.03.2011)

Bryan Fischer Says Muslims Don’t Have First Amendment Rights

osted on 26 March 2011 by Rousseau

Bryan Fischer is a loony anti-Muslim bigot

The anti-Muslim rhetoric continues to increase amongst the right-wing.

Talking Points Memo: Bryan Fischer: Muslims Have No First Amendment Rights by Jillian Rayfield

Bryan Fischer, the “Director of Issues Analysis” for the social conservative group the American Family Association, says that when it comes to Islam, the First Amendment is a privilege, not a right. “Islam has no fundamental First Amendment claims, for the simple reason that it was not written to protect the religion of Islam,” Fischer wrote today.

“The First Amendment was written by the Founders to protect the free exercise of Christianity. They were making no effort to give special protections to Islam. Quite the contrary,” Fischer wrote on his Renew America blog.

He continued:

Islam has no fundamental First Amendment claims, for the simple reason that it was not written to protect the religion of Islam. Islam is entitled only to the religious liberty we extend to it out of courtesy. While there certainly ought to be a presumption of religious liberty for non-Christian religious traditions in America, the Founders were not writing a suicide pact when they wrote the First Amendment.

Fischer took it a step further, calling Islam a “treasonous ideology” and adding that “from a constitutional point of view, Muslims have no First Amendment right to build mosques in America. They have that privilege at the moment, but it is a privilege that can be revoked.”

Fischer, also known for his frequent anti-gay, anti-bear rhetoric, has previously called for the U.S. to have “no more mosques, period,” because “every single mosque is a potential terror training center or recruitment center for jihad.” He’s also suggested that we should “handle Muslims just like we handle neo-Nazis.”

And his show is a frequent stomping ground for conservative politicians, including potential 2012 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, and actual 2012 candidate Tim Pawlenty.

( / 28.03.2011)

Samouni Project

Project Description

Samouni Community Centre/Classroom

We are looking at sending at least one bus from the UK to Gaza, loaded with materials to set up the Samouni Family Community Centre/Classroom.  We would like to do this in the next couple of weeks so we need many things to happen very fast if we are to meet such a deadline.  Keep in mind that there are about 112 Samouni kids, two years on from Operation Cast Lead with hardly any support in so many regards, so the sooner we make a difference the better.  For 112 kids the requested items that follow are pretty modest; we will look to expand the facilities for sure, with a full educational complex planned, but the goal at this moment is ambitious yet realistic, it really is up to all of us.  I am hoping everyone who reads this will give something, big or small.  Now is the time to have a functioning classroom and community centre ASAP for this family.

Yesterday we managed to arrange an Internet connection for the classroom; this took some bargaining I can tell you as the Samouni’s are not in the urban part of Gaza.  We are building the official Samouni Project website right now, we have some great people on this; the site is going to be outstanding.  The website will have photos and videos of the family, the children are keen to begin writing blogs (with automatic translations from Arabic to English), and there will eventually be a forum where the family can interact with people from around the world.  This is one of my primary goals, to connect people outside of Gaza with the family, to create an extended Samouni family.

Items/Materials/Support sought immediately;

1)    A UK based coordinator to facilitate this project, this is a volunteer job.

2)    A mechanic or someone very good with vehicles that can travel to Retford, Nottinghamshire, in order to make sure the vehicle is sound and as purchased.

3)    We need the vehicle MOT’d and taxed by hopefully the same person above.

4)    Costs covered to put vinyl graphics on the bus, such as the Samouni Project logo as well as the logos of our sponsors.

5)    Costs for food, fuel, tax, MOT, and insurance for the drive to Gaza.

6)    Sponsors; we seek sponsors from unions, organizations, Mosques, community and Palestine Solidarity groups.  We propose a minimum donation of £100 to become a sponsor, but anything will help so we encourage everyone no matter what you can contribute.

7)    We will need at least two or three drivers who will have to sleep in or just outside the bus in order to ensure security.

8)    More Vehicles: if we can get a couple more vehicles, possibly even a bus that can carry the whole family in Gaza, which would be great.  There are good deals on vehicles and maybe people will have a vehicle or two that they would like to donate to the family, a work van would be ideal, but any working vehicle will be extremely valuable to the family.

9)    Computers: Ideally we will bring 12 desktop computers, mouse, keyboard, computer speakers and if possible, 12 laptop computers so each household will also have something in their home.

10)Office Chairs – 12 is perfect.

11)Webcams with Microphone Headsets for Skype calling.

12)Laser Jet Printer/Copy/Fax/Scanner with refill ink cartridges.

13)Laminating Machine with lamination sheets.

14)Digital Cameras, the more the better, all the kids love cameras.

15)LCD Projector and screen.

16)Small generator, big enough to power a small home.

17)A nice Globe for teaching.

18)Large World Map for wall.

19)Quality books with emphasis on education, history, science, etc.  English is great, but if people have Arabic language books as well, that will be fantastic.

20)We hope to bring 50 English teaching books which we already have a teacher to teach with, here is the link to the book we need;

21)We are looking for a carpenter to build Custom Bookcase and deliver to London very soon.

22)If a carpenter can work right away, we can give dimensions and precut some material for long desktops to be used for the computers and classroom.

23) Lighting, good quality lighting, LED’s lighting would be ideal so the electricity consumption is low.  But we want something other than fluorescent lights, something warm and nice to read and learn with.

24)Musical instruments, if you have an instrument that you can give for these children to experiment with and play; this will be a beautiful contribution.  Does somebody have a Piano?

25)Office supplies, paper, paper clips, notebooks, pens, pencils (coloured as well), markers, pencil sharpener, etc.

26)Arts & Crafts of all sorts.

27)Puppets and educational toys.

28)A telescope, this has been asked for, would be great.

29)Tiles to lay on the floor, this is roughly a 10×15 metre space.


Items that would be good to bring now as well;

1)    Blankets.

2)    Clothes.

3)    Kids football shoes.

4)    Anything of value that might be useful.

If you have or are willing to purchase any of these items then please do so and send a message to me.  If you can provide a service, volunteer to drive to Gaza or be a coordinator then again, please email me.

The following are not likely to be arranged immediately, but maybe, you never know.  But even if we cannot get these things now, I would like people to know of our longer-term goals and start looking around for ways to make this happen as well.

Supporting Independence for the family; long-term items sought;

1)    We would bring a machine that can process Tomatoes into sauce.  The Samouni family are farmers and if they had an industrial machine of this type they would be able to really get back on their feet and be independent soon.  I will get more details of the exact type of machine that would be ideal tomorrow, if you think you can help with this then message me please.

2)    A loom, an industrial loom that would allow the family to make Kuffiyeh’s, if we do this I am sure the family will have a real income with exported Kuffiyeh’s, made in Gaza, with the Samouni Family brand on it.

3)    Building materials to make a small factory/warehouse.

And last, something that would just be wonderful for the entire family, especially the boys;

1)    1) The materials to build a 5 on 5 football pitch, the cement for the foundation, the padding and artificial grass, the walls, goals, bleachers, lighting for night time play.

I am already planning to make a video with the kids inviting FC Barcelona to come out this summer and do a football camp.  I am making it clear to the kids that there are no guarantees, but if we try, we have a good chance of getting a result.

I would like to say to everyone reading this just one thing.  If we really care, we will make this next phase happen and we will do so within a couple of weeks.  We can do anything we set our minds to and what is asked for to make this project happen is completely doable.  We all have something to offer, the question is what do you have to offer?

To my Muslim and Arab brothers and sisters, the Samouni’s are your direct family; please make this project happen now.  As a community, you alone could make this happen within a week.

Love and respect to everyone who is helping with this, you are blessing yourself big time by contributing, believe me I know this all too well.

( / 28.03.2011)

Prisoners center: Jailed Bethlehem woman was tortured

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities tortured a 42-year-old Palestinian woman after she was detained at a checkpoint in October, a prisoners’ center said Monday.

Hanan Hamouz was detained in Beit Jala, near her home in Bethlehem’s Al-Azza refugee camp in the southern West Bank.

On Monday, an Israeli court sentenced Hamouz to two years and a half years in prison and ordered her to pay a 3,000 shekel ($850) fine. The Prisoners Society in Bethlehem said in a statement that she was charged with trying to stab an Israeli soldier, and had been tortured in detention.

( / 28.03.2011)