Nederlandse schrijver zakt voor inburgeringstoets

Schrijver Rodaan Al Galidi won vorige maand nog de Europese Unie-prijs voor de letteren voor Nederland, met zijn boek De autist en de postduif. Maar ook al wint hij prijzen met zijn Nederlandstalige boeken, was hij al twee keer Zwarte Piet en is hij gek op fietsen, toch is hij voor zijn inburgeringstoets gezakt.

De Nederlands-Iraakse schrijver – die vaak onder onder de auteursnaam Rodaan publiceert – maakte de verkorte inburgeringstoets. Hij gaf op 70 procent van de 30 vragen die hij moest beantwoorden het juiste antwoord. Maar er was een score van 74 nodig, zo schrijft Al Galidi vandaag in NRC Next. Nu moet de schrijver een volledige inburgeringscursus gaan volgen.
Uitkering Al Galidi uit kritiek op het soort vragen dat werd gesteld. ‘Niets over Van Gogh, de Nachtwacht, molens, de Dam, grachten of Sint Maarten, maar vragen als: ‘Mo heeft een uitkering en wil zijn zoontje naar de creche laten gaan. Wie betaalt daarvoor? Of: Mo en Amal hebben een huis van de woningstichting. Als de kosten hoger zijn dan hun uitkering, wat zal er dan gebeuren?’
De vragen worden voorgegaan door filmpjes van Mo en Amal. ‘Ik denk eerlijk gezegd dat half Nederland zich zou schamen als ze die filmpjes zouden zien en ik weet niet wat Marokkanen zouden denken als zij ze zouden zien.’
Ook stelt hij dat tien vragen alleen door een vrouw konden worden beantwoord. ‘Ik weet niet wanneer een vrouw ongesteld wordt na een miskraam, want ik ben nooit zwanger geweest. Dat kan ik bewijzen.’ Drie kwartier Ook beklaagt hij zich over de korte tijd die hij voor de toets had. ‘Negen jaar lang moest ik in asielzoekerscentra wachten om mijn ‘asielzoekerheid’ te bewijzen – om te bewijzen dat ik een burger ben, kreeg ik slechts drie kwartier. Jammer. Toch?’
Al Galidi – geboren in 1971 – vluchtte in 1998 uit Irak naar Nederland om dienstplicht in zijn geboorteland te ontkomen. In 2007 kreeg Al Galidi een generaal pardon in Nederland. Een ander boek van zijn hand is Maanlichtmoerassen. Al Galidi zal op 28 november zijn Europese Unie-prijs in ontvangst nemen, in aanwezigheid van prinses Laurentien.

( / 18.11.2011)

Israel Grabs Palestinian Lands To Expand Religious Kibbutz

Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported that the Israeli government confiscated privately owned Palestinian lands in the Jordan Valley, and gave the lands to Kibbutz Merav, inhabited by Jewish settlers.

Israeli Settlement – File

The Israeli government re-routed the Annexation Wall in the area in order to secure the illegal takeover of nearly 1500 Dunams (375 Acres) of privately owned Palestinian lands, effectively declaring the lands as part of Israel.
The move in question is not new, as Israel’s settlements and settlements blocks in the occupied territories are mostly built on Palestinian lands. This instance is different as the ownership of West Bank Palestinian-owned lands is transferred to a Jewish community that is considered inside Israel itself.
Haaretz said that Maj. Guy Inbar, a spokesperson for the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the occupied territories, stated that the expropriated Palestinian lands are in the West Bank, and claimed that Jewish settlers in Merav “have been farming the lands for decades”.
Spokesperson of the Jewish Settlements Division of the World Zionist Organization, Ofer Amar, stated that the division has no authority on the land that is classified as “farmland”, and falls under the control of the Emek Mayanot Regional Council.
Director of Peace Now Movement, Dror Etkes, stated that the annexation order effectively robs the lands in order to give them to Amona, Givat Asaf and Migron illegal settlement outposts.
Etkes added that extremist officials like right-wing Member of Knesset, Ofir Akunis, and extremist other right-wingers are censoring and silencing leftist groups in Israel, and are trying to control the media to make it a puppet for the government.
Haaretz said that a Palestinian resident, identified as Ashraf Madrasa from the Palestinian village of Bardalah, showed its reporters maps and deeds, issued in 1961, proving he owns 36 Dunams of the annexed lands. The army initially confiscated his land declaring it as a “military zone”.
It is worth mentioning that under the Israeli so-called Absentee Property Law”, lands that belong to Palestinians who became refugees when Israeli occupied Palestine, can be declared as state lands.
The International Law states that Israel, the custodian of absentee property in the occupied territories, cannot use the lands for settlement activities.
In 2004, the State Comptroller in Israel wrote a report stating that thousands of Palestinian Dunams were granted to Israeli settlements in the Jordan Valley in the 60’s and 70’s of last century, Haaretz said.
Israel’s settlements in the occupied territories are illegal under International Law, and violate the Fourth Geneva Convention.
— — —
Geneva Convention Article 49 Aug. 12, 1949
“Article 49 – Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.
Nevertheless, the Occupying Power may undertake total or partial evacuation of a given area if the security of the population or imperative military reasons so demand. Such evacuations may not involve the displacement of protected persons outside the bounds of the occupied territory except when for material reasons it is impossible to avoid such displacement. Persons thus evacuated shall be transferred back to their homes as soon as hostilities in the area in question have ceased.
The Occupying Power undertaking such transfers or evacuations shall ensure, to the greatest practicable extent, that proper accommodation is provided to receive the protected persons, that the removals are effected in satisfactory conditions of hygiene, health, safety and nutrition, and that members of the same family are not separated.
The Protecting Power shall be informed of any transfers and evacuations as soon as they have taken place.
The Occupying Power shall not detain protected persons in an area particularly exposed to the dangers of war unless the security of the population or imperative military reasons so demand.
The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”
United Nations Security Council Resolution number 465;
“Determines that all measures taken by Israel to change the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure or status of the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, or any part thereof, have no legal validity and that Israel’s policy and practices of settling parts of its population and new immigrants in those territories constitute a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and also constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”

( / 18.11.2011)

France voices support to Palestinian reconciliation

Ahead of the a much-anticipated meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas Politburo Chief Khaled Meshal in Cairo next week, European heavyweight France announced Friday its support to reconciliation between the two rivals. France always supports unity and cooperation between Palestinians, Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said in a press briefing here. The French official reiterated his country’s firm stance towards the importance of Palestinians’ unity, adding that the reconciliation is a necessity and will have great impact on Palestinian people. On Wednesday President Abbas pledged to “speed up” the formation of an interim government, which until now has stymied efforts to implement a unity deal signed by his Fatah movement and its Hamas rivals, who rule the Gaza Strip. Moves to set up a unity government ahead of new elections will be central to key talks between Abbas and exiled Hamas leader Meshaal when they meet in Cairo next week. Senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmed said the two factions had reached agreement on “important issues” which would be announced after the leaders meet on November 25. Fatah signed an unexpected reconciliation deal with Hamas in May under which they were to have quickly set up a caretaker government of independent figures to prepare for elections within a year. But the agreement has never been implemented, with both sides bickering over the composition of the interim government and who should head it. The last time the Palestinians went to the polls was for parliamentary elections in 2006, which Hamas won by a landslide. New parliamentary and presidential elections had been due in January 2010 but the Palestinian Authority abandoned efforts to hold a vote after Hamas refused to organize one in Gaza

( / 18.11.2011)

Mitchell says Palestinians must show flexibility

ROCKLAND, Maine (Ma’an) — The Palestinian leadership in Ramallah showed inflexibility over Israel’s settlement program and will have to make compromises for the sake of peace, the Obama administration’s former Mideast envoy has said.
George Mitchell, who resigned in May as US President Barack Obama’s special envoy for the Middle East peace process, said Tuesday at the University of Maine that the Palestinian side placed too much emphasis on settlements.
“I personally went to 13 countries and in almost every single one I was told that Palestinians … should not enter into negotiations unless there was full freeze on Israeli settlement activity,” Mitchell said, according to US news reports.
“We negotiated that and the Israeli leaders agreed to halt new housing in the West Bank for 10 months. It was much less than what we asked for but more than anyone else had done,” the Freepress Online quoted him as saying.
“The Palestinians rejected it as worse than useless. They were strongly opposed to it.”
Nine months later, negotiations were “discontinued by the Palestinians on the grounds that Israel wouldn’t continue the settlement freeze. What had been less than worthless a few months earlier became indispensable to continue negotiations.”
Still, Mitchell praised the Palestinians’ preparations for statehood, saying they “have demonstrated the ability to build a state. They have begun to establish the institutions necessary to do that.”
‘Dangerous future’
Mitchell said the PLO’s refusal to negotiate was a gamble, adding that both the Palestinians and the Israelis face a “dangerous future” amid the deadlock in talks, which broke down in September 2010.
“The choices have become less and less over time. There is not a shred of evidence that they will get any better in the future. The pain of negotiating is less than if they don’t negotiate,” he said.
“If both sides go on they face an extremely dangerous future.”
He said Israel, too, should acknowledge the urgency of the situation it is in, as the state will eventually “face a demographic dilemma that will put a two-state solution out of reach.”
He said the “Arab birth rate is higher and the number of Arabs will exceed the number of Jews in the not-too-distant future. At that point Israel will face a choice between being a democratic state or a Jewish state. They cannot be both.”
Mitchell’s resigned in May after more than two years as envoy. Last week, his colleague Dennis Ross, another key Obama envoy for the Middle East, announced he would step down by December.
“When I came back from my several years in the Middle East my wife said, ‘The expectations for you were zero and you met them,'” Mitchell said, according to the report.
“The last time I was back and met with Palestinian and Israeli leaders, I said, ‘You have to do something so I can go back to my wife and say: you spoke too soon.'”

( / 18.11.2011)

Nibud: 1 mln mensen in sociaal isolement

Het aantal mensen dat vervreemd raakt van de samenleving als gevolg van de opstapelende bezuinigingen zal stijgen tot 1 miljoen. Dit zei Nibud-directeur Wilmink vanmiddag in het Radio 1 programma ‘Vrijdagmiddag Live’.  Op dit moment leven volgens het Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau 700.000 mensen in sociaal isolement.

Het Nationaal Instituut voor Budgetvoorlichting  verwacht de sterke stijging omdat veel huishoudens die op het bestaansminimum leven vanaf 2012 te maken krijgen met een reeks van nieuwe bezuinigingen en kortingen. Sociaal isolement komt er op neer dat mensen niet meer mee kunnen doen in de maatschappij.
Wilmink wees ook nog op de ‘explosieve’ stijging van het aantal adviezen over schuldvermindering. De website ziet een verdubbeling van het aantal adviezen ten opzichte van 2009.  De site heeft als doel mensen op weg te helpen zelf hun schulden op te lossen aan de hand van een 5-stappenplan.

( / 18.11.2011)

Arab teens rap out angry politics in Nazareth

  • Mai Zarqawi (L) and Amane Tattur of the rap group Damar. So far, the pair has toured the West Bank and Jordan, and are working on a first album. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)

    Mai Zarqawi (L) and Amane Tattur of the rap group Damar. So far, the pair has toured …

  • Amane Tattur (L) and Mai Zarqawi of the rap group Damar. Tattur is an aspiring actress while Zarqawi wants to pursue a career in music. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)

    Amane Tattur (L) and Mai Zarqawi of the rap group Damar. Tattur is an aspiring actress …


Mai and Amane, Arab Israeli teenagers living in Nazareth, are happy to leave talk about boys and make-up to their peers. They have a political message and they’re telling it through rap music.

The girls, only 15 and 16, make up the duo “Damar” — Arabic for “destruction” — whose mission is to expose what they say is the routine discrimination they experience growing up as part of Israel’s Arab minority.

Mai Zarqawi and Amane Tattur formed Damar after meeting at school in the Jewish-Arab city of Nazareth in 2009, and discovering a shared interest in fighting for Palestinian rights.

“We don’t hate Jews,” says Zarqawi. “We hate the idea of how Zionism came and took over our land and our culture and left us nothing.”

They refuse to identify themselves as Arab Israeli, but rather as Palestinians living in Nazareth, home to some 72,000 people.

And their lyrics are just as direct. “Do you think the third generation will be Israeli, bro? Time will not make them forget but instead it will add history…we don’t want your silence, we don’t want prisons and borders,” they rap in their song “Third Generation”.

“They buy us with money to recruit us all the time, they steal our culture — even humus and ful… The minority is fighting for freedom, Palestine is in our hearts, not forgotten,” it continues.

Israel’s Arab community of 1.6 million, which represents about 20 percent of the population, is made up of the 160,000 Palestinians who stayed behind after establishment of the Jewish state in 1948, and their descendants.

Although they hold Israeli nationality, Arab Israelis in practice remain second-class citizens, with the sector receiving far fewer government resources for health, education and economic development.

They struggle to maintain their cultural and political identity as Palestinians in a Jewish state where any expression of Arab national sentiment is viewed as a threat.

“As a Palestinian, I want to have a voice. I want to have freedom of expression. I love hip-hop and I love my identity. So when you bring them both together, you get Damar,” Zarqawi says.

Inspired by American singer-songwriter Lauryn Hill and US rapper Nas, the girls’ music criticises Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians and takes on issues like the towering security barrier that cuts across the West Bank.

“Everywhere we go, we just see the wall in front of us,” Tattur says. “It destroyed our dreams, so through our music we’re going to build a new generation that really understands what is going on here.”

Their lyrics, mostly written by Tattur, also reflect their own teen experience.

“Our first song is about Arab schools being completely different to Israeli schools. We rap about what it’s like growing up with two sides fighting and how this affects us,” says Zarqawi.

“We would talk about how Arab teenagers don’t understand where they are from. They have an identity crisis because they have Israeli ID’s and Palestinian heritage.”

At first, no-one took them seriously. The girls struggled with a taboo against female musicians, and parents who thought the group was a passing fad.

“In the beginning, my parents were like, ‘OK, she’s a teenager, she will forget everything.’ But when we recorded our first song, they started to take me seriously and supported me a lot,” Zarqawi says.

“They let me go perform in Jordan myself, which was a big deal.”

Tattur says her parents also support the group.

“They love what we are doing. It’s the same with our friends. In the beginning no one accepted the idea of us rapping, but they began to understand the lyrics and what message we are trying to get across.”

Their gradual acceptance has paid off with growing success in the Arabic hip hop scene, one of the fastest-growing genres in the Middle East. It first made an appearance on the Palestinian scene in the late 1990s with the formation of the three-piece outfit DAM, otherwise known as Da Arabic MCs.

Another name attracting interest is Shadia Mansour, a British-Palestinian rapper in her mid-20s who has the moniker “the first lady of Arabic hip hop”.

DAM and Mansour both rap about politics and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but what makes Damar unique is the girls’ young age.

So far, the pair has toured the West Bank and Jordan, and are working on a first album. As for the future, Tattur is an aspiring actress while Zarqawi wants to pursue a career in music. Both, however, insist they will stick with Damar to continue spreading their political message.

“Hair, makeup and boys don’t concern us,” says Tattur. “As a teenager, Israel concerns us. There are a lot of problems here. Some people tell you you’re Israeli, some people tell you you’re Palestinian. So you get confused.

“We want to build a new generation through our music and words,” she adds. “We want to be role models for other teenagers.”

( /18.11.2011)

UN: Israel violates Lebanon airspace

The outgoing UN special coordinator for Lebanon says Israeli drones violate Lebanon’s sovereignty on an almost daily basis in blatant violation of international law, Press TV reports.

“With regard to the over-flights, these are almost daily occurrences and…It is difficult to think of another country anywhere in the world, subject to such a regime of perpetual intrusion and violation of their sovereignty,” Michael Williams told a press conference at United Nations headquarters on Thursday.
Lebanon’s government, the Hezbollah resistance movement and the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, known as UNIFIL, have repeatedly condemned the flyovers, saying they are a flagrant breach of UN Resolution 1701 and the country’s sovereignty.
UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which brokered a ceasefire in the war Israel launched against Lebanon in 2006, calls on Tel Aviv to respect Beirut’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
In 2009, Lebanon filed a complaint with the United Nations, presenting over 7,000 documents pertaining to Israeli violation of Lebanese territory.
Williams ends his term after serving three years as UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon.
He told the press conference that the UN peacekeepers in Lebanon have been attacked frequently this year, as separate roadside bombings claimed French lives in one case and Italian casualties in another.
The top UN envoy pointed out that those who pulled off the roadside bombings are still active.
Although Williams said his life was never threatened directly, he noted that he was occasionally under “hostile surveillance” from people he did not know.

( / 18.11.2011)

Settlers ‘attempted to kill’ Israeli soldiers

Though fairly hair-raising, the blog Haim Har-Zahav wrote about how his Israel Defence Forces unit was attacked several times in the West Bank back in September would have gone almost unnoticed – except for one thing.

The attacks were not by Palestinians, they were by Israeli settlers. Mr Bar-Zahav, 33, who has two young girls and loyally does annual reserve duty, is not easy to surprise. A veteran of combat in Lebanon and in the West Bank at the peak of the intifada, he calls himself a “mainstream Israeli”. But today, over a cup of coffee round the corner from the TV station where he works as a successful editor and producer, he says: “All of a sudden you find yourself being attacked literally by the people you left your home to defend… that’s what shocked me. I wasn’t even slightly aware that there was such violence towards soldiers in the West Bank.”

He was on duty when the Israeli military demolished three buildings in the outpost of Migron, a Jewish settlement that is illegal under Israeli and international law. The demolitions sparked a series of “price-tag” (a euphemism for revenge) attacks by extremist settlers on Palestinians and their property. Mr Har-Zahav described in his blog how settlers erected a barricade of burning tyres to block a West Bank road, apparently in a “price-tag” operation.

The military always rushes to dismantle such barriers, used in the past by Palestinian militants, because if a settler’s car is stuck, “he becomes an easy target for terrorists”, Mr Har-Zahav said.

But this time, as soon as the military patrol arrived young teenage settlers in ski masks began pelting it with large stones – Mr Har-Zahav indicates a diameter of about 8in – from the terraces 10 metres above the road. “It’s physics,” he says. “If someone gets banged with one from that height, that person is either dead or seriously injured.”

We know the name of the settlement, but Mr Har-Zahav does not want it publicised in case he is pursued through the courts by its members. But he does not hesitate to specify the attack on the Beit El military base near Ramallah, where, as he wrote in his blog, the settlers – on several occasions he uses the word “terrorists” – not only wrote “price-tag” graffiti, but cut wires under the bonnets, put sugar in the petrol tanks and cut brake cables of the vehicles “the army uses to protect them”.

He wrote: “I don’t know how it works… in the parallel universe. But in the universe I come from, the State of Israel, when someone cuts your brakes, it is an attempt to kill or assassinate.” Normally Mr Har-Zahav’s blog gets 20,000 hits. This one got 44,000. By some on the far right he was accused of treachery; by some on the far left he was criticised for serving in the West Bank at all.

The pro-settler newspaper Makor Rishon published the blog, fuelling an already lively debate among its readers about the “price-tag” tactic. “I didn’t write the blog just to put down the settlers or smear mud in their faces,” Mr Har-Zahav says. “It’s far more important to me that the settlers discuss it than the readers of The Independent or, for that matter, Maariv or Yedhiot Ahronot. Much of the response, he says, was “apologies and shame” and he says that relations between the IDF and settlers have traditionally been good.

But he also says that while “officially” there is no difference in the constraints on the way soldiers confront Palestinians and settlers, “actually there is a huge difference. You still think two, three, four, five, six times more [before shooting at settlers] than if you encounter Palestinians”. He cites the recent example in which a soldier is facing trial for accidentally shooting dead a settler rabbi who failed to stop at a makeshift checkpoint and one of his own in which a Palestinian was shot dead in similar circumstances, when there was no official investigation.

Mr Har-Zahav, who testified to the veterans’ organisation Breaking the Silence after writing his blog, feels he performed a public service by highlighting a topic seldom discussed. “I told the truth,” he says.

( / 18.11.2011)

Obama Administration Training Egyptian Islamists for Elections

If you want proof that U.S. policy towards the Arab Spring is fatally flawed, look no further than William Taylor, the State Department​’s Special Coordinator for Middle East Transitions and long associate of Muslim Brotherhood apologists. Taylor officially took charge on September 16 and oversees U.S. aid to countries affected by the Arab Spring, specifically Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.

Taylor’s office has been giving Egyptian Islamists training to prepare for the election contests that begin on November 28. He justified it by saying that the assistance is open to all parties and the U.S. wouldn’t pick sides. “Sometimes, Islamist parties show up, sometimes they don’t,” he said nonchalantly.

When asked how the U.S. would feel if the Muslim Brotherhood won Egypt’s elections, he said, “I think we will be satisfied, if it is a free and fair election. What we need to do is judge people and parties and movements on what they do, not what they’re called.” The answer seemed to infer that critics of the Brotherhood are needlessly alarmed by the name of the group.

It gets worse. Taylor comparedthe Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood to Tunisia’s Ennahda Party, as if that is a positive example to follow. “As long as parties, entities do not espouse or conduct violence, we’ll work with them.” He said there is undue fear of the Islamists. “This is something that we are used to, and should not be afraid of. We should deal with them.”

It is hard to imagine a statement more frightening and naïve coming from a senior official.

The Muslim Brotherhood​’s Palestinian affiliate is Hamas, which the Brotherhood still stands by and has never condemned. It says that Israel’s prisoner exchange deal that led to the release of Gilad Shalit​ proved that Hamas’ methods, which included kidnappings and targeting of civilians, were right. The senior Brotherhood theologian, Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi, preaches the destruction of Israel, killing Jews and vocally supports terrorism, including suicide bombings. The leader of the Ennahda Party, Rachid Ghannouchi, likewise supportsHamas, terrorism and the killing of Israeli children. This certainly qualifies as espousing violence, to use the words of Taylor.

A look at Taylor’s background shows he is a long associate of individuals tied to the Muslim Brotherhood and apologists of the Islamist group. Before taking his State Department post, he was the vice president of the U.S. Institute for Peace (UIP). It has a close working relationship with John Esposito, arguably the most prominent non-Muslim apologist for the Muslim Brotherhood, foreign and domestic.

Esposito defends the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and Sami al-Arian. He served as an expert witness for the defense in the trial of the Holy Land Foundation, which was found guilty of being a front for Hamas set up by the Brotherhood. He also upholds Sheikh al-Qaradawi as a moderate who promotes a “reformist interpretation of Islam and its relationship to democracy, pluralism and human rights.”

Esposito is the vice chair of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID), the board of which has strong associations with the International Institute for Islamic Thought, another Brotherhood front. On April 28, 2010, Taylor’s UIP sponsored a CSID conference that the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report calls “perhaps the largest public gathering of global Muslim Brotherhood leaders and U.S. government officials to date.” Tariq Ramadan​, the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, the original founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, was there, as was Brotherhood members from Bahrain and Jordan. In May 2011, CSID held an event with a senior leader of Ennahda.

Taylor joins several other Obama administration officials who take a benign view of the Muslim Brotherhood​ or are linked to its American fronts. The best example is the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper​, who displayed a remarkable level of ignorance during testimony to Congress in February, saying that the “term ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ is an umbrella term for a variety of movements, in the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has described Al-Qaeda as a perversion of Islam.”

There’s Rashad Hussain, the envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, who attended the aforementioned CSID event featuring Brotherhood leaders. Then there’s Dalia Mogahed, one of the members of President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnership. She is a close associate of John Esposito​ and is said to have been the “most influential person” advising President Obama on his speech to the Muslim world in Cairo.

Mogahed is also a defender of CAIR and ISNA. She accused the government of trying to oppress the Muslim community when the groups were labeled as “unindicted co-conspirators” in the Holy Land trial. She said “there is a concerted effort to silence, you know, institution-building among Muslims. And the way to do it is [to] malign these groups. And it’s kind of a witchhunt.”

The State Department​ has teamed up with CAIR to host an event with the Syrian opposition. In January 2010, members of ISNA, the Muslim Public Affairs Council and Muslim American Society, all tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, were given briefings by the Department of Homeland Security​ including Secretary Janet Napolitano. A member of the Department of Homeland Security’s Advisory Council, Mohamed Elibiary, has Brotherhood associations and is a defender of the Holy Land Foundation. He is being accusedof leaking sensitive information to the press to damage presidential candidate and Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Obama’s chief terrorism advisor, John Brennan, speaks alongside the president of ISNA. Another senior advisor to the President, Valerie Jarrett​, was the keynote speaker at ISNA’s 2009 convention. It has been reported that the Justice Department even blocked the prosecutions of at least two Brotherhood figures tied to Hamas. Meanwhile, the administration blocked the nomination of Zuhdi Jasser, a Muslim opponent of the Brotherhood, to an important State Department post

Their influence on President Obama is clear. There appears to be no efforts to undermine the Brotherhood or its ideology. In an interview with Bill O’Reilly, the most Obama would concede is that there are “strains of their ideology that are anti-U.S.” Based on the stances of his advisors, Obama likely believes these “strains” are because of U.S. foreign policy errors, than because of the Islamist ideology itself.

It is simply shocking that the U.S. official overseeing the transition assistance in the Middle East doesn’t worry about the Muslim Brotherhood and even uses taxpayer money to help the Islamists. Members of Congress and presidential candidates should demand the immediate removal of William Taylor from his post.

( / 18.11.2011)

Inburgeringstoets zware horde

AMSTERDAM –  62% van de 8.500 inburgeraars die sinds 2008 de vrijstellingstoets voor het inburgeringsexamen deed, zakt voor de toets. Het gaat om mensen die al lang in Nederland wonen en Nederlands spreken maar geen Nederlands paspoort hebben .

Dit blijkt uit cijfers van het ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken. Volgens het ministerie voldoen mensen die het examen niet halen niet aan de inburgeringseisen. Omdat ze ingeburgerd zijn, proberen ze via de toets vrijgesteld te worden van het verplichte gewone inburgeringsexamen.

De vragen gaan onder meer over acceptgirokaarten, hypotheekrenteaftrek, homohuwelijk, menstruatiecyclus, zwangerschap en kindervaccinaties. Ze blijken vooral voor mannen, mensen zonder kinderen en mensen die weinig gebruikmaken van sociale voorzieningen, erg lastig. Verder gaat het over crècheplekken, het consultatiebureau, het Nederlandse schoolsysteem, cao’s, vergunningen, Nederlandse feestdagen en de vaderlandse geschiedenis van de zestiende en zeventiende eeuw. Dat schrijft het NRC handelsblad.

Het gewone inburgeringsexamen lijkt een veel minder moeilijke toets. Tussen 2007 en september 2011 slaagden van de bijna 10.000 inburgeraars bijna driekwart voor dat examen.

( / 18.11.2011)