Jihad: one of the most misunderstood concept

Amir Ali, Ph.D.

“Islam” and other various Islamic terms and concepts are grossly misunderstood in the West. Muslims can hardly find anyone to blame but themselves because (a) they have failed to live by the Islamic tenants in our times, and (b) they have failed to promote understanding of Islam in the West through outreach projects. This brochure is a humble attempt to briefly explain the terms given in the title. The Institute of Islamic Information & Education (III&E) has published almost fifty brochures and several articles for promoting understanding of Islam among Muslims and non-Muslims equally. Please write to the III&E or visit their web site for more information.

Some of the Islamic Terms

Islam: means a commitment to live in peace through submission to the Will of God (Allah).

Muslim: is a person who makes a commitment to live in peace through servitude to Allah.

Jihad: means “struggle” and “strive” against evil thoughts, evil action and aggression against a person, family, society or country. Jihad may be a “justifiable war”, borrowing the Christian term.

Mujahid: is a person who engages in Jihad for the sake of Allah according to the Quran (Muslim’s source book for guidance) and Sunnah (the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Mujahidin is the plural of Mujahid.

“Islamic terrorism”: There is no such phrase or term in the Islamic source books of the Quran or the Sunnah and has no place in Islam.

Sunnah: Sunnah is the preferred way of the Prophet Muhammad that includes his teaching. The sources of the Sunnah are authentic Hadith (reports of the Prophet’s sayings, doings and approvals) collections.

The True Meaning of “Jihad”

Jihad is usually associated with Islam and Muslims, but in fact, the concept of Jihad is found in all religions including Christianity, Judaism and political/economic ideologies, such as, Capitalism, Socialism, Communism, etc. Islam defines Jihad as striving and struggling for improvement as well as fighting back to defend one’s self, honor, assets and homeland. Also, Jihad is interpreted as the struggle against evil, internal or external of a person or a society. Jihad, in Islam, means doing any or all but not limited to the following:

Learn, teach, and practice Islam in all aspects of one’s life at all times to reach the highest and best education in order to benefit oneself, family and society.

Be a messenger of Islam everywhere, in every behavior and action.

Fight evil, wrongdoing, and injustice with all one’s power by one’s hand (action), with one’s tongue (speech), or at least with one’s heart (prayer).

Respond to the call for Jihad with money, effort, wisdom and life; yet, never fight a Muslim brother, a Muslim country, or a non-Muslim society that respects its treaties and harbors no aggressive designs against Islam or Muslims.

Suicide under any pretext is not condoned as Jihad in Islam.

Converting people to Islam by force or coercion is never Jihad but a crime, punishable by law.

The Levels of Jihad

A personal struggle within one’s self to submit to Allah, fight evil within one’s self, achieve higher moral and educational standards – Inner Jihad.

Jihad against evil, injustice and oppression within one’s self, family and society –Social Jihad.

Jihad against all that prevents Muslims from servitude to God (Allah), people from knowing Islam, defense of a Muslim society (country), retribution against tyranny, and/or when a Muslim is removed from their homeland by force – Physical Jihad or an armed struggle.

The Quran defines physical Jihad as being the highest level of Jihad that one can undertake. Its reward is eternal Paradise. Muslims also know that all humans are accountable for what they have done during their life on this earth. Muslims will be asked about what they did with their lives and their level of submission to Allah on the Day of Judgment.

Does Jihad mean Holy War?

In Islam, there is no such thing as holy war. This terminology was generated in Europe during the Crusades and their war against Muslims. Islam recognizes Jews and Christians as the “People of the Book” because they all follow the Prophet Abraham, believing in Moses’ and Jesus’ teachings. For many centuries, Muslims have peacefully coexisted with Christians, Jews, and people of other faiths, maintaining social, business, political and economic treaties. Islam respects all humans and faiths as long as there is no religious oppression, forbidding Muslims from serving Allah, preventing others from learning about Islam, and not respecting treaties.

Who is authorized to call for Jihad as a war?

Jihad must be performed according to Islamic rules and regulations and only for the sake or in the service of Allah. The physical or military Jihad must be called by a Muslim authority, such as, a president or head of a Muslim country after due consultations with the learned leadership.

What Does Islam Say about Terrorism?

The term “terrorism” does not exist in the Quran or the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. If the terms “terrorist or terrorism” are derived from a verb used in the Quran, such as 5:33 describing a “Muslim’s” terrorist acts, it is in condemnation and prescribes most severe punishment. Islam is a religion and a way of life that does not separate politics from religion. Islam is a religion of mercy, unity and most importantly peace with one’s self and others, to defend not to fight. Allah said in His Book the Quran:

“God does not forbid you from showing kindness and dealing justly with those who have not fought you about religion and have not driven you out of your homes, that you should show them kindness and deal justly with them. God loves just dealers.” [Noble Quran 60:8]

“Fight in the cause of God against those who fight you, but do not begin aggression, for God loves not aggressors.” [Noble Quran 2:190]

“If they seek peace, then seek you peace and trust in God for He is the Hearer, the Knower.” [Noble Quran 8:61]

” and let not the hatred of others make you avoid justice. Be just: that is next to piety; and fear Allah, for Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do.” [Noble Quran 5:8]

“But (remember that an attempt at) requiting evil may, too, become an evil: hence whoever pardons (his foe) and makes peace, his reward rests with Allah- for, verily He does not love transgressors.” [Noble Quran 42:40]

“The good deed and the evil deed are not alike. Repel the evil deed with one which is better, then lo! He between whom and thee there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a bosom friend. [Noble Quran 41:34]

Some of the Prophet Muhammad’s Teachings (Sunnah)

He prohibited Muslim soldiers from killing women, children and the elderly, or cut a palm tree, and he advised them, “do not betray, do not be excessive, do not kill a newborn child.”

“Whoever has killed a person having a treaty with the Muslims shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise, though its fragrance is found for a span of forty years.”

“The first cases to be adjudicated between people on the Day of Judgment will be those of bloodshed.” Killing is the second major sin in Islam.

“Truly your blood, your property, and your honor are inviolable.”

“There is a reward for kindness shown to every living animal or human.”

Islam and Human Rights

The Quran and Sunnah encourage Muslims to respect the life and property of all mankind.

In an Islamic State these rights are considered sacred, whether a person is Muslim or not.

Islam protects honor, forbids insulting others, and/or making fun of them.

Islam rejects certain individuals or nations being favored because of their wealth, power, and/or race.

All Muslims believe that Allah created all humans free and equal, only to be distinguished from each other on the basis of God-consciousness or piety and never on the basis of race, color or ethnicity.

Islam is a practical religion that respects all human beings and it was revealed for all mankind. Its message is that of peace and submission to Allah. Muslims believe in all the Prophets mentioned in the Bible, and the Quran. The Quran shares many moral teachings of the Old Testament and the New Testament. These three religions (and their books) were founded upon the revelations by One True God, Allah. For more information on this topic please see the brochure Human Rights In Islam or ask for brochure #7 from the III&E, the publisher of this article.

Jihad in the Bible

Let us see what the Bible has to say about Jihad in the meaning of war and violence. The following verses are from the Bible, New International Version (NIV), 1984

“Do not allow a sorceress to live. Anyone who has sexual relations with an animal must be put to death. Whoever sacrifices to any god other than the LORD must be destroyed.” [Exodus 22:18-20]

“This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.’ The Levites did as Moses commanded and that day about three thousand of the people died.” [Exodus 32:27-28]

“The LORD said to Moses, ‘Take vengeance on the Midianites for the Israelites. The Israelites captured the Midianite women and children and took all the Midianite herds, flocks and goods as plunder. They burned all the towns where the Midianites had settled, as well as all their camps. (Moses ordered) “Now kill all the boys. And kill every women who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.” [Numbers 31:1-18]

(Jesus said) “But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them – bring them here and kill them in front of me.” [Luke 19:27]

“He (Jesus) said to them, ‘But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.” [Luke 22:36]

Differential treatment

Muslims follow a religion of peace, mercy and forgiveness. If an individual Muslim were to commit an act of terrorism, this person would be guilty of violating the basic tenants of Islam.

When Timothy McVeigh bombed the Oklahoma City building, no American or Christian was labeled as a terrorist or was the target of hate crimes. When Irish Christians carry out acts of terrorism against each other and on the British Isles, the Christian religion is not blamed but individuals or their political agenda. Unfortunately, the same is not true for American Muslims and Arabs. The vast majority of Muslims or Arabs have no association with the violent events around the world yet Islam is invoked with terrorism. It is unfair to 1.5 billion Muslims of the world and religion of Islam.

Criteria of guilt

Innocent until proven guilty in an open court is an accepted universal principle of justice along with liberty and freedom for all humankind. However, the U.S. failed to practice the same principles for those who are not U.S. nationals. Even worse, the U.S. is creating military tribunal for secret trials because there may be inadequate evidence to prove Arabs and Muslims guilty in open courts.

May Allah bless us all and purify our hearts from all misunderstanding, malice, hate and anger.

(islamgreatreligion.wordpress.com / 24.07.2011)

Breivik woest op Europeanen en fan van Songfestival

Uit het manifest, wat Breivik even voordat hij de aanslagen pleegde online zette, wordt steeds meer duidelijk over wat de denkbeelden en de motieven van de Noor waren. Zo zinde hij op wraak op ‘inheemse Europeanen’ die volgens hem hun erfgoed verraden. Maar ook weten we dat hij naar het Eurovisie Songfestival keek, World of Warcraft speelde en tot een aantal dagen voor de aanslagen een bezoek aan de hoeren overwoog.

Volgens Breivik zouden Europeanen niet genoeg optreden tegen de islamisering van hun continent en daarvoor moesten ze gestraft worden.

Tempeliers
Anders Behring Breivik ziet zichzelf als een kruisvaarder op missie om het Europees christendom te redden van de islamisering. Multiculturaliteit is één van de ergste scheldwoorden in zijn vocabulaire. Verwacht geen berouw van de 32-jarige massamoordenaar, hij vindt zijn daden gerechtvaardigd.

Hij stelt in zijn manifest dat de Tempeliers, de middeleeuwse orde van strijdende kruisvaarders (ook tegen de islam), zich opnieuw hebben gegroepeerd in Londen in 2002. Onder de oprichters bevinden zich twee Britse leden, en één uit achtereenvolgens Frankrijk, Duitsland, Nederland, Griekenland, Rusland, Noorwegen en Servië. Breivik noemt geen namen.

‘We strijden als een inheemse rechten organisatie en als een Kruisvaardersbeweging (anti-Jihad beweging)’, aldus Breivik. ‘Als je besluit aan te vallen, is het beter om teveel mensen te doden, dan niet genoeg. Anders riskeer je dat het gewenste ideologische impact van de aanval niet genoeg inslaat,’ schrijft hij. ‘Maak geen excuses of toon geen berouw na de aanval in een poging om jezelf te beschermen,’ staat er ook.

Dagboek Breivik
Naast het uitvoerig beschrijven van zijn denkbeelden en visie op de wereld, gaat Breivik ook in op meer persoonlijke details van zijn leven. In het document is een soort dagboek opgenomen, waarin hij minutieus bijhield gedurende 80 dagen wat hij ging doen.

Zo zou hij voor de afwisseling naast zijn pogingen om explosieven te maken, gekeken hebben naar het Eurovisie Songfestival en naar afleveringen van The Shield, een gewelddadige Amerikaanse misdaadserie. Ook beschrijft hij onverwachte bezoekjes van vrienden of familie, waardoor hij op het allerlaatste moment al het materiaal moest wegmoffelen.

Meerdere malen zou hij gevreesd hebben dat de politie achter hem aankwam, nadat vreemden hem op de boerderij hadden gezien. En ook schrijft hij over zijn steroïdengebruik en hoe hij de dagen vlak voor de aanslagen overwoog om langs de hoeren te gaan.

BOOM!

Halverwege juni schrijft hij enthousiast hoe hij met succes een bom heeft laten afgaan in een afgelegen gebied. ‘Ik ontstak de zekering, liep weg en wachtte. Het waren misschien wel de langste tien seconden uit mijn leven….BOOM! De ontploffing was een succes!!!:)’

Veel van de lappen tekst van het 1500 pagina’s tellende document zijn gekopieerd uit andere extreem-rechtse en anti-islamitische documenten. Ook komen veel delen overeen met de bombrieven van Unabomber Ted Kaczynski.

World of Warcraft

Verder is duidelijk geworden dat Breivik graag het computerspel World of Warcraft speelde. Veel van de afbeeldingen in de video die bij het manifest gepubliceerd is, hebben dan ook wat weg van het thema van het populaire computerspel. De soundtrack van de video van Breivik is dezelfde als de muziek voor een populair online rollenspel.

Het schrijven en de video lijken een tegenreactie op de propaganda van islamitische militante groepen, die hij als een bedreiging van zijn Europa ziet.

Omslagpunt

Als omslagpunt in zijn denken noemt Breivik de deelname van Noorwegen aan de NAVO-operatie die het bombarderen van Servië betrof in 1999 in Kosovo.

‘Het enige wat de Serviërs wilden is de islam uitdrijven door de Albanese moslims terug te sturen naar Albanië.’

Geen straf

Breiviks advocaat maakte eerder al bekend dat zijn cliënt toegaf achter de aanslagen te zitten, maar deze gerechtvaardigd acht. Hij zou naar eigen zeggen geen straf verdienen.

(www.parool.nl / 24.07.2011)

Weapons and Extremism

The world would go under on drugs, weapons and extremism. About drugs maybe i will come back another time again. Now it is weapons and extremism, moreover , weapons in the hands of extremists.

Is there a difference between the shooter in Alphen aan de Rijn (Netherlands) en the shooter in Norway? The first one heard voices in his head and the second voices on the internet? Of course you will say, the Dutch shooter was schizofrenic and the Norway shooter an extremist. Ok, in this case you are right, but still both men have killed innocent people. People who thought were save on the place they were.

In Norway the shooter has taken a political alibi, a right wing extremism. And in the mean time he has written his pamflet, in which he has talked about the Islam who will taken over Europe and – special noticed – in the Netherlands.

Why does a man get this wrong ideas about Islamisering of Europe? Because there are people who are talking (brainwashing people, young persons) all day and night the same: Islam is the enemy, has to be stopped, is evil and is taken over our land, our houses and wives, etc. etc. etc.

Let me tell you, Islam has nothing planned to take over, Islam is a peacful religion. This you can read in the Qur’an where is written that we are forbidden to kill people, muslims or non muslims. E.q. in Soerah al-Maa-idah (5:32) we can read that everyone who kills another person, it is like he kills humanity. Even suicidebombers are forbidden in Islam.

There are high placed people who know the Qur’an very well, who have said that who take his own life, will be forever in hell and don’t go to Paradise. And don’t forget: this people will never be a martyr (Ash-Shaykh ‘Oebayd ibn ‘Abdillaah al-Djaabirie).

Islam is a religion – let that be clear – of persons, more over it is a contract between every individual person with his Creator, with Allah. And that has nothing to do with taken over Europe, really nothing. That more and more people have been converted or convert to Islam, will only mean that the words written down in the Qur’an will be attractive for more and more people.

Islam is build on love and peace, not war, not fighting, not murdering other people, not murdering young people who has spoken the words of supporting Palestine.

The Dutch Muslim Party has written in her program that she wants more and worldwide registration of people who have weapons, and on the other hand an international stop on buying and having weapons in the house or on the street. Only for the persons who has to carry weapons in name of her function, after registration and yearly testing, it would not be forbidden.

It is absolutely not clear why a person needs weapons. And almost every day we see that weapons in the hands of an extremist will give problems to the society. More over when a man like this Norway shooter is brainwashed by people with wrong ideas, with ideas who would separate groups from other groups.

‘Norway paid for being pro-Palestinian’

At least 92 people were killed and scores injured on Friday in the twin shooting and bomb attacks by a homegrown terrorist in the Norwegian capital, Oslo, and a nearby island.

The suspect is a 32-year-old man, Anders Behring Breivik, who has made a confession of being involved in the armed attack on Utoeya Island that left 87 people dead.

To further discuss the issue, Press TV talks with Stephen Lendman, writer and radio host, from Chicago. Following is the text of the interview:

Press TV: Mr. Lendman, with this individual killing at least 90 people by shooting and bombing them, why would not this act initially be called a ‘terror act’? Now we are seeing more and more sites and newspapers and also broadcast entities now starting to use the word ‘terrorist’, but initially when describing this individual, it was not used ‘terrorist’. However they did use it when they thought that perhaps there were Muslims behind this act.

Lendman: Well, I have written about numerous attacks, numerous individuals, numerous ones that were magically foiled before they happen, numerous ones that were committed every single time. I have written about dozens of these, every single time, the initial accounts, the official accounts turned out to be wrong, falsified.

Later evidence showed the real story was much different. I find it very hard to believe [that] one man, I do not care what he was armed with, managed to kill 91 people before he was stopped. That is almost an impossibility.

It has never happened before but yet supposedly one man did this. Was it one man? Did he have accomplice with hidden shooters? These are great lines from Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘HMS Pinafore.’ …

Can I cite an example? The London Guardian quoted the region police official saying [that] this looks more like Oklahoma City 1995 then World Trade Center. Oklahoma City, I wrote about it today.

I have a brand new article and I will put out tomorrow. I featured Oklahoma City in it. The original account was two terrorists, homegrown, blowing up the Federal Building.

The real story was there was a truck bomb, maybe these people did it [and] maybe they did not. But the real story was a brigadier general and an expert in munitions and armaments conducted a study at a weapons laboratory at … Air force Base and, he concluded, this has never come out on the mainstream media, he concluded it was impossible for this truck bomb to do the damage it did.

How was it done? The building was rigged on inside with multiple explosives done by experts, undetected. Something was rotten in Oklahoma City; I think something is rotten in Oslo. We do not know who is behind this, what the motives are. I have lots of suspicions but it is 24 hours since it happened so we could only speculate…

Press TV: So what are you saying exactly, Mr. Lendman? You have lots of suspicions. Can we talk about at least one of them? What exactly are you saying, when you say that it is similar to Oklahoma City and that Oklahoma City was not what it initially appeared, what exactly do you mean here?

Lendman: Well, I think there are two motives behind all of these attacks. One of them in general is the stoke fear to let government justify its policies. In the case of Norway, it is pulling out of Libya but it is a NATO member. It has got a token force in Afghanistan.

It supports Western imperial wars, not the way Britain and France do but it supports them and another reason maybe [that at] this time, Norway is very supportive of the Palestinian rights.

Very possibly, there are right-wing extremists behind this. Karl Rove [ex deputy chief of staff and senior advisor to former US president George W. Bush] has made a number of visits to Norway in recent weeks.

It could be that they are right-wing extremists who planned this attack to soften the criticism of Israel, to soften the support of the Norwegian government for a Palestinian UN membership. It could be that they want to turn Norway around, take its soft approach, make it a hotter approach, more pro-Israel, less pro-Palestinian.

Very possibly, this is part of it but I will say emphatically that later on we will find out that the original story, the official story, turns out to be false. It has holes in it and we will learn the truth later but it could be months from now when the story is long disappeared from the news.

The one thing I will leave with viewers is [urging them to] be very skeptical of everything that comes out in the official major media, the corporate media, the BBC, the US corporate media, the major newspapers. Be very skeptical of them. Doubt everything, do your own research, do it online and find out real facts.

I discussed it today on my program with a great guest, the progressive radio news hour. Anybody can listen to its archive tomorrow. Go to the progressive radio network, you will hear a wonderful account with a magnificent guest talking about truthful information of what might really have happened in Oslo on Friday.

(www.presstv.ir / 24.07.2011)

Breivik gokte op burgeroorlog in Nederland

Anders Breivik vindt dat Europa onder vuur ligt van de islam
Anders Breivik vindt dat Europa onder vuur ligt van de islam
Anders Breivik
In het manifest ‘Europese Onafhankelijkheidsverklaring’ heeft de Noorse schutter Anders Breivik het regelmatig over Nederland. Meerdere bronnen waarin Nederland uitgebreid aan bod komt worden geciteerd. De termen Nederland, Holland en Nederlands komen tientallen keren in het document voor.

Volgens de auteur was ons land eeuwenlang een toevluchtsoord voor mensen die meer vrijheid van meningsuiting zochten. “Maar Nederland wordt meer en meer een totalitaire samenleving als een direct gevolg van massa-immigratie en in het bijzonder de instroom van moslims.”

Burgeroorlog

Breivik adviseert westerlingen om zich te bewapenen, zowel mentaal als “fysiek met vuurwapens en om te leren hoe ze te gebruiken”. Hij denkt dat Nederland een goede kans maakt om als eerste land in het Westen een burgeroorlog te voeren over moslimimmigratie. “De autochtone Nederlanders zullen moeten vechten, of ze zullen hun land moeten achterlaten en van een afstand toekijken hoe het sterft.”

De Nederlandse autoriteiten willigen de eisen in van islamitische landen en knielen aan de voeten van hun nieuwe moslimmeesters, vindt Breivik. Autochtonen die kritisch zijn over islamieten worden vervolgd, zegt hij, terwijl er in het tegenovergestelde geval niet wordt opgetreden. “Autochtonen zijn de facto tweedeklas burgers in hun eigen land geworden, wat volgens de sharia precies de bedoeling is. De autoriteiten brengen nu dus de sharia ten uitvoer.”

Vloedgolf

Met Fortuyn is wellicht de laatste hoop voor de redding van Nederland gestorven, denkt Breivik. Hij citeert PVV-leider Geert Wilders en arabist Hans Jansen en vertelt over ex-moslim Ehsan Jami, de onrust in Gouda in 2008 en de situatie in de Amsterdamse wijk Slotervaart. Ook noemt hij cartoonist Gregorius Nekschot en Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

“Ik heb altijd van Nederland gehouden”, zegt hij ook. “Het zou erg jammer zijn als dat eens zo grote land, dat zo veel tijd en energie heeft gestoken in het bevechten van de zee, wordt vernietigd door een vloedgolf van sharia barbarij.”

Fjordman

Breivik citeert in zijn manifest regelmatig ene Fjordman, die geldt als een van de grote inspiratiebronnen voor het manifest. Onder meer het stuk met de titel ‘Zal Nederland de 21ste eeuw overleven‘, dat gaat over de islamisering van Nederland, is in het manifest (.pdf) opgenomen. In september 2008 publiceerde Fjordman ook een artikel op een anti-islam weblog.

Eerder werd gedacht dat Fjordman een pseudoniem was van Breivik, maar inmiddels wordt op het blog ontkend dat Breivik en Fjordman iets met elkaar te maken te hebben. “Ik ben hem niet. Ik heb hem ook nooit ontmoet”, zou Fjordman hebben geschreven onder de naam Baron Bodyssey, super moderator van het blog.

(nos.nl / 24.07.2011)

Americans vs. the Gaza blockade: portraits

Forty American citizens participated in the fleet, a third of them ethnic Jews. They all have different lives, different motifs. All of them are successful in their private lives, and none of them has free time to waste. What makes these people leave their families, friends and jobs, and fly 10,000 kilometers to keep watch over the boats in order to protect them from sabotage, and wait for weeks to get permission to set off, and be prepared to endure rocking and experience a tough detention?

This is the most respectable participant of the fleet, Hedy Epstein who had lost her parents in Auschwitz. Hagit Borer, an Israel-born successful scientist. Gabriel Schivone, writer and journalist. The youngest passenger, a 22-year-old Christian, Max Suchar, with seven years’ experience of fighting for the rights of the Palestinians. Regina Carey, who accidentally learned what the living was like for the Palestinians during her pilgrimage to the holy places. A successful New Yorker Libor Koznar, who’s taking his first trip to Gaza. All of them are different, with their experiences and their understanding of life’s meaning. They are like-minded about one thing – they will keep going until the blockade is over; and their fight is purely peaceful.

Hedy Epstein, a key figure in the protests (Click to enlarge)
Hedy Epstein, a key figure in the protests (Click to enlarge)

Otherwise, they talk about various aspects which make them participate in such a troublesome task as fighting for the rights of others.

Hedy learned about the Palestinians from newspaper articles on the Sabra and Shatila camps. Some were told about the situation of the Palestinians by their Jewish husbands; some others, by their parents. Some believe it’s their religious obligation, others, a civil one. The Jews don’t want to put up with the fact that injustice has been performed in their name. The Americans disagree that their government assists in the occupation.

They have different visions of the political search for resolving the deadlock; they see the future of this land differently.

Presently, the Israeli commandos are convoying the final boat of the second Freedom Fleet to the port of Ashdod. This boat attempted breaking through the sea siege of Gaza on its own.

Aboard the Dignite al-Karama are the strongest activists, who haven’t put up with the fact that two boats were damaged by saboteurs, and others were prohibited from leaving the port by the Greek authorities.

Dror Feiler, musician and composer heads the boat. He was born in Israel and left it for Sweden as a protest against the politics of his homeland. In the Athens he was the one who stated that the fleet would carry on getting together until the siege of Gaza, whether sea, land or air, is removed completely and unreservedly. If not him, others would have stepped forward to lead this breakthrough. Those who saw these people have no reasons to doubt their determination.

Flotilla participants in the streets of Athens
Flotilla participants in the streets of Athens

­This was my third encounter with the flotilla. Its story might teach the authorities a lot: common Westerners, pacifists and peace activists with no weapons and no money turned into a force to be reckoned with in just three years.

There were a few dozen of them. They managed to fit out a small boat in which they could smuggle several dozens of crates full of hearing aids. Now there are hundreds of activities, backed up by ten parliament members and riding two dry cargo ships. Mass media from all over the world are watching them closely.

My first encounter with the movement was in fall 2008 in Cyprus. There was only one vessel and two dozen people there who were trying to get permission to sail off.

It was all spontaneous. The first boat broke through the siege in summer 2008. Lauren Booth, Tony Blair’s sister-in-law was aboard that boat. Israel and Egypt didn’t allow her to leave the strip. And thus, the movement against the Gaza siege was forced to send the second boat to rescue Lauren.

During the time that Laura Booth spent in Gaza she studied the blockage in details. Had Israel of Egypt let her go in three days, she would’ve been unlikely to learn in such detail that in the 21st century a million-and-a-half people can be isolated from the world and subjected to collective punishment.

Having found herself a siege prisoner, not only did she receive a Palestinian passport, not only did she convert to Islam some time later but, having returned to England, she made a lot of efforts to tell people in details what it was like for the Palestinians to live under the siege.

I spent two weeks waiting for the boat to sail off, and my editors of that time called me back. And some time later, the boat broke through the siege once again.

In 2010, while six vessels were waiting in the sea, the organizers brought together parliamentary members, diplomats and other VIPs in Cyprus to get them to join the flotilla at the last moment. Cyprus prohibited any vessels, yachts and boats from taking those people aboard. The flotilla went to break through the siege without them. Israel attacked the boats in international waters, and eight Turkish citizens and one American were killed.

This year, the fleet distributed all parliamentary members and diplomats among different boats. The boats left from different ports of various countries. But Greece refused to let boats leave its ports, refused to refill the boats, and allowed for sabotage in the ports.

As a result, the fleet participants rallied in the streets of the Athens for many days. They held press conferences; the Americans went on hunger strike in front of the US embassy; the Spaniards went on a sit-down strike inside the Spanish embassy. And the authorities had nothing left to do but to clear the streets for rallies, release the US police captain, apologize, and dream that these people would finally leave Greece. They couldn’t deport the US and the EU citizens for their willingness to take several thousand letters from the US kids to the Gaza kids, could they?

Hunger strike near American Embassy in Athens
Hunger strike near American Embassy in Athens

­While in 2010, Israel looked like a villain, in 2011, Israel looks funny. That’s what the flotilla participants are saying.

Most of the previous flotilla’s passengers were from the Islamic countries.

The second flotilla brought together 350 Europeans and Americans, a third of them Jews, including citizens of Israel and those who had emigrated from Israel. Aboard were about a hundred accredited reporters of the world media.

An activists on a US boat
An activists on a US boat

The participants are joking that the next flotilla will get together and think of something new, and Israel will have to humiliate itself again to ensure that pacifists and peaceful activists don’t reach the Gaza strip.

Ann Wright, former US army colonel
Ann Wright, former US army colonel
(rt.com / 24.07.2011)

Violent clashes erupt in Egyptian capital

At least 231 injured after knife-wielding men attack pro-reform protesters marching to defence ministry in Cairo.

More than 231 people have been injured in clashes between groups of armed men and pro-reform protesters marching towards Egypt’s ministry of defence in the capital, Cairo, the country’s health ministry said.

Thousands calling for the “downfall” of the country’s ruling military council were trying to reach the military headquarters on Saturday when they were attacked by opponents armed with knives and sticks.

Witnesses said most of the injuries occurred when civilians, believed to be thugs, standing in front of military blockades hurled barrages of stones and at least six firebombs at demonstrators. The demonstrators fought back with stones torn up from the pavement.

Al Jazeera’s Ayman Mohyeldin, reporting from Cairo, confirmed that “people with knives, sticks and petrol bombs surrounded the peaceful protesters” and assaulted them with their weapons.

“The situation is extremely tense, the military has used tear gas and fired into the air to push back crowds.”

He also said that besides firing warning shots, the military did not intervene in the clashes.

“But they seem to have melted away from the scene. The military is nowhere to be seen compared to just moments ago they were widely present in the streets.”

Ambulances were seen tending to the injured, as an army helicopter flew overhead shining its spotlight into the crowd, the AFP news agency reported.

It is the second time protesters have tried to reach the defence ministry, after a similar attempt was quashed overnight.

Rare violence

The clashes came a day after military police fired shots in the air and beat demonstrators blocking a main road in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, witnesses said.

 

Friday’s events were a rare display of violence in two weeks of largely peaceful protests in Alexandria, Cairo and Suez following a court decision to free on bail 10 policemen accused of killing protesters during the uprising that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak in February.

Witnesses told the Reuters news agency that the clash in Alexandria erupted after hundreds of protesters blocking the coastal road near the army’s northern command headquarters refused to leave the area.

More than five months after mass street demonstrations drove Mubarak from power, many Egyptians worry that their “revolution” has stalled under the military council’s assumption of power.

Egypt’s interim rulers have reshuffled Prime Minister Essam Sharaf’s cabinet and promised to speed up trials and political reforms, but thousands kept up protests across Egypt on Friday to back demands for the policemen’s trials to be held soon.

Sharaf, in a speech after his new cabinet was sworn in on Thursday, promised to set up an anti-corruption body and work to scrap a 30-year-old emergency law. He also said the interior minister would appoint a human rights adviser, and human rights and civil society groups would have access to prisons.

But activists said this was not enough.

(english.aljazeera.net / 24.07.2011)