Evidence does not support fears of Islam in the West

Washington, DC – While scholarly work has debunked the idea of incompatibility of Islam with Western values, it has not really changed this dominant perception pervading political discourse and policy making. This notion of incompatibility between Islam and the West has actually intensified in the last 15 years, as the perception of Islam as the external enemy has combined with the fear of Islam within liberal Western democracies. The consequence is that Muslims are now seen by many as an internal and external enemy both in Europe and in the United States.

The persistence of the Islam versus West dichotomy has nothing to do with the quality of academic work, but rather the fact that this work is seldom utilised by political and cultural actors, not to mention media.

Yet hope may lie in better understanding the social and cultural reality of Muslims that starkly contradicts the perceived divide – namely that Muslims in the West are supportive of Western values and civic integration. In this regard, efforts could be made to familiarise citizens with this reality through different educational and cultural means.

My book Why the West Fears Islam: Exploration of Islam in Western Liberal Democracies (June 2013 by Palgrave McMillan) indicates a persistent predisposition in the West to link Islam to un-civic behaviour and to see assertive Muslims as internal enemies threatening national values and identities as well as external enemies at war with Western civilisation.

Intriguingly, there is no empirical evidence based on behaviours of Muslims in European countries or the United States that supports this fear. Actually, Muslim political practices are not different from their average fellow citizens. My investigation shows that in Europe and in the United States, Muslims express a greater trust in national institutions and democracy than their fellow citizens and that mosque attendance actually facilitates social and political integration.

Still, the construction of Muslims as the enemy within liberal democracies takes place in a preexisting environment influenced by history, adding the dimension of an internal enemy to the enduring feature of the external enemy.

Muslims have been seen as “others” to the West since medieval times. More specifically, Western self-definition based on the concepts of progress, nation, rational individual and secularisation was built in opposition to Muslim empires. Europe’s relationship with the Ottoman Empire gradually established the East-West binary that had a decisive impact on world politics since the 19th Century.

In the United States, during the 20th and 21st Centuries, the perception of Islam as the external enemy traces back to the Iranian Hostage Crisis (1979 to 1981) and became more acute after 9/11 when Muslims came to be seen as internal enemies due to the fear of home grown terrorism.

Many Muslims in post-WWII Europe have an immigrant background, and are currently estimated to constitute approximately five per cent of the European Union’s 425 million inhabitants. As immigrants, generations came with very low labour skills, unlike most Muslims in the United States who generally possess a high level of education and marketable skills.

Low levels of education and few job opportunities explain poor economic performance of Muslims in Europe. Muslim immigrant populations across Europe are often concentrated in segregated, urban areas, which are plagued by delinquency, crime and deteriorated living conditions.

There is a need across the Atlantic to rebuild national narratives to include Muslims and Islam as part of the memory and culture of the national communities they belong to.

This can likely be done if Islam is disconnected from partisan interests and becomes a national cause for political, social and religious actors across the ideological spectrum.

The educational and political efforts of the last five decades to include African Americans into the US national narrative are a good illustration of such a collective effort. In the case of Islam, it will require a coalition among religious actors from all faiths who can play a decisive role in promoting similarities between Islam and other monotheistic religions.

This is a noble political task for the decades to come.

(Source / 23.05.2013)

Israel prepared to launch war on Syria: Israeli cmdr.

Israeli military commander Major General Amir Eshel

Israeli military commander Major General Amir Eshel

“The Tel Aviv regime has already carried out three air strikes on Syria.”

An Israeli military commander says Tel Aviv is prepared to carry out an attack on Syria if the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad collapses.

On Wednesday, Israeli Major General Amir Eshel said the Tel Aviv regime might launch a sudden war on Syria should Damascus fall.

“We have to be ready for any scenario, at a few hours’ notice,” Eshel stated.

He also said that the Israeli regime would even prepare for a “protracted” war with a “post-Assad Syria.”

The recent Israeli threat is seen as part of the Western-backed efforts to set up the scene for a military intervention in Syria.

The Tel Aviv regime has already carried out three air strikes on Syria.

On May 5, Syria said the Israeli regime had carried out an airstrike targeting a research center in a suburb of Damascus, following heavy losses inflicted upon al-Qaeda-affiliated groups by the Syrian army. According to Syrian media reports, the strike hit the Jamraya Research Center. The Jamraya facility had been targeted in another Israeli airstrike in January.

The May 5 Israeli aggression was Tel Aviv’s second strike on Syria in three days.

Turmoil has gripped Syria for over two years, and many people, including large numbers of Syrian soldiers and security personnel, have been killed in the foreign-sponsored militancy.

Western powers and their regional allies including the Israeli regime, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are partners in supporting the militant groups in Syria.

(Source / 23.05.2013)

The real reason for US drone attacks

Drone attacks kill innocents and create enemies. This is precisely what the American war industry wants: endless supply of enemies for endless war.

Debate within the US about the use of killer drones has obfuscated the real purpose of such attacks. Using fancy expressions like “playbook” for authorizing drone strikes that kill people suspected by the US of being militants has added to the fog of confusion. Amid all the verbal gymnastics, one point that has seldom if ever been raised is the real reason for drone strikes: to stoke anti-American sentiment that creates more militants thereby justifying the never-ending war on terror. After all, it is impossible to continue to wage war without identifiable enemies. Drone attacks are “helpful” from the US point of view because they kill innocent people in remote areas, especially the tribal areas of Pakistan that increase people’s resentment and anti-American feelings. This is precisely what the Washington warlords want. Endless war requires an endless list of enemies. If they do not exist, create them. Enter the killer drones.

Estimates about the number of people killed by drone strikes carried out by the CIA vary. The Washington-based New America Foundation report has said there have been 350 US drone strikes since 2004, most of them during Barack Obama’s presidency. The foundation has put the death toll at between 1,963 and 3,293, with 261 to 305 civilians killed. The London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates the death toll at between 2,627 and 3,457 in Pakistan since 2004. These include 475 to 900 civilians. The US Republican Senator Lindsay Graham said on February 20, 2013 that 4,700 people had been killed in drone strikes. He was unapologetic about the killings. “Sometimes you hit innocent people, and I hate that, but we’re at war, and we’ve taken out some very senior members of al-Qaeda,” Graham added, without naming which al-Qaeda members had been eliminated.

Washington uses assassination drones in several countries — Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia — claiming that they target “terrorists.” According to witnesses, however, the attacks have mostly led to civilian casualties. Jennifer Gibson, a staff lawyer with the British-based charity Reprieve asked: “how do you prove you’re innocent after they have killed you?” The “excellent intelligence” the US cites for carrying out drone strikes is based on dubious information. Often, local informants that are given locator (targeting) chips to put near militants actually put them near the wall of the homes of those with whom they have family feuds. Sarah Holewinski, executive director of the Washington-based Center for Civilians in Conflict, has confirmed this in an interview. American officials as well as the CIA stubbornly deny any civilian casualties.

The Stanford Law School and New York University School of Law’s comprehensive report on Pakistan, “Living Under Drones” has listed scores of family members of civilians killed in drone strikes. The UN Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson, a British barrister, has launched an investigation into 25 cases of drone strikes and targeted killings. Emmerson’s investigtion includes US, Israeli and British drone strikes in Pakistan, Gaza and Afghanistan. In March, Emmerson issued a damning report about extraordinary renditions, waterboarding and other forms of torture by US forces and called for war crimes trial of those officials responsible for authorizing such practices. In the case of drone strikes, Emmerson will examine Washington’s “double tap” policy that attacks a target a second time, while rescuers and paramedics are working to save survivors. Such strikes deliberately target civilians and are categorized as murders.

Whether the US would be deterred by UN censure is debatable. After all, American officials know full well that they are involved in a murderous campaign in which killing civilians is part of a deliberate policy. Civilian casualties are not collateral damage, even though making such claims may mollify some Americans; they are an essential part of keeping the war going endlessly.

(Source / 23.05.2013)

India always had consensus on Palestine: Khurshid

New Delhi, May 22 (IANS) Pointing out the centrality of Palestine in India’s foreign policy, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid Tuesday underlined its vital significance for the Indian nation.

“In our country the consensus on the Palestinian cause cuts across all political parties, regions, sections and communities. It is a truly national consensus for Palestine,” Khurshid said here at a function to felicitate him.

The event was organised by the Hyderabad-based Indo-Arab League.

Addressing guests, among them ambassadors of Arab and North African nations, he said: “Palestine has been central to our foreign policy as articulated by Jawaharlal Nehru… It has been a very important part of our history and of our foreign policy.”

A two-state solution to the Palestinian crisis was the declared goal of many in the international community.

Khurshid said through the “cataclysmic changes” the world had been going through in recent times, India somehow lost the focus it had on international relations, which affected the importance it once attached to Palestine.

“India turned inwards to look at addressing its domestic concerns, to meet the population’s need for water, electricity, jobs, infrastructure, so that India could become truly reflective of its commitment ot self-reliance.

“Though we never stopped being your (Palestine) friends, sadly India was not there to help you after you said you want to make peace. Sadly we were not at the forefront of the reconstruction of Palestine.

“What we lacked in financial support, we never lacked or wavered from our emotional and political support (for the Palestinian cause),” Khurshid said.

Earlier, lauding India’s steadfast support for Palestine, Palestine ambassador Adli Shaban Hasan Sadeeq said Palestinians wanted India to send an envoy to the Middle East.

“India is a country with philosophy and should have a greater role in international policies.”

Peace prospects in the Middle East have been hurt in recent times with Israel’s construction of a wall around the Palestinian area of West Bank and expansion of Israeli settlements in occupied territories.

(Source / 23.05.2013)

Syria opposition’s Khatib proposes Assad ‘safe exit’

Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib attend a meeting of the Syrian National Coalition in Istanbul, on May 23, 2013

BEIRUT (AFP) — Syria’s outgoing opposition chief published an initiative for his war-torn country on Thursday that would grant President Bashar Assad a safe exit, and urged dissident factions to adopt his plan.

Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib published his initiative on Facebook, as the main National Coalition he headed until March gathered in Istanbul to choose a new leader and discuss a US-Russian peace initiative dubbed Geneva 2.

Under Khatib’s initiative, Assad would have 20 days from Thursday to give “his acceptance of a peaceful transition of authority”.

After accepting, Assad would have one month to hand over power to either Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi or Vice President Faruq al-Sharaa, who would then govern Syria for a transitional period of 100 days.

As part of the transition Khatib envisages, Assad would “leave the country along with five hundred people whom he will select, along with their families and children, to any other country that may choose to host them”.

This is the first time one of Syria’s opposition chiefs has made an offer of political immunity to Assad and key members of his regime.

Khatib’s proposal is an effort to pull Syria “out from the catastrophe that has struck our nation”, said the former Omayyad mosque imam and controversial opposition figure on Facebook.

It is also “a practical response to the need of a political settlement ensuring a peaceful transition of authority”, Khatib added.

“This initiative is a product of Syria and its goal is Syria,” he said.

While calling on dissident groups to adopt the initiative “as a way out from the catastrophe that has struck our nation”, Khatib also said the international community should “oversee it and ensure that it is implemented”.

This would be accompanied by the release of all political prisoners in Syria, Khatib wrote.

The initiative gives Assad a month to “completely hand over authority”, and stipulates that while parliament should be dissolved, all of its powers should be handed to Assad’s replacement.

Over the same 100-day period, an interim government would “restructure the security and military” apparatus in Syria, said Khatib.

He also suggested that the UN should appoint an international mediator to oversee the transition.

At the end of the 100 days, the responsibilities of the current government would pass to the transitional government, formed with international guarantees, which would “be responsible for the preparation and the re-building of the new Syria,” Khatib said.

Khaled Saleh, spokesman for the opposition coalition, said it was a “personal initiative” that would be “submitted at the coalition meeting and maybe discussed”.

(Source / 23.05.2013)

Hoe de Profeet SAWS een jongeman verbeterde

By Marianna Laarif

Een jonge man kwam naar de Profeet (vzmh) en vroeg:
“Boodschapper van Allah, geef mij toestemming om ontucht te bedrijven.”
De metgezellen van de Profeet schreeuwden naar de jongeling.
De Profeet hield de metgezellen tegen en vroeg de jonge man om bij hem te komen. De jonge man kwam naar hem toe en ging voor de Profeet zitten. Deze vroeg hem:
“Zou je willen dat er ontucht met je moeder werd gepleegd?”
“Nee, moge Allah mij daarvoor behoeden!”
“Niemand zou dit voor zijn moeder willen. Zou je het voor je dochter willen?”
“Nee, moge Allah mij daarvoor behoeden!”
“Niemand zou dat ook voor zijn dochter willen. Zou je het voor je zuster willen?”
Op deze manier ging de Profeet (vzmh) door en noemde alle tantes van de jonge man. Ieder keer antwoordde de jongeling: Nee! En de Profeet antwoordde steeds: Ook de andere mensen niet!
“Tenslotte plaatste de Profeet zijn hand op de borst van de jonge man en zei: “O Heer, reinig zijn hart, vergeef hem zijn zonde en behoed zijn kuisheid.”
Daarna was er voor de jonge man niets zo verfoeilijk en afschuwelijk als ontucht.
“En wie spreekt beter woord dan hij die mensen tot Allah uitnodigt en goede werken verricht en zegt: ‘Waarlijk, ik behoor tot de Moslims’.”

(Suraat el-fussielet 33)

The Palestine Liberation Movement is not about Anti-Semitism

I don’t disagree that the cowardly removal by Aljazeera of everything written by Joseph Massad is a travesty of justice and journalism and that their reinstatement is justified.  But why was Massad trying to defend Palestinian rights based upon them being “the last of the Semites?”

The term “Semite” was born of the assumption that all the languages of the world are the result of the sons of Noah – Shem, Ham and Japheth – going to different parts of the globe after the flood and creating different language groups: Semitic, Hamitic and Japhetic.  The sons of Noah?  Are we seriously entertaining such nonsense?

To make matters worse, this absurdity was extended to fictitious “races,” not just languages.  “Anti-Semitic” therefore is descriptive of the Hamitic and Japhetic races turning on the descendents of Shem, the third brother.  No one seriously speaks of Hamitic and Japhetic races.  Is it not time to recognize the absurdity of the Semitic “race” as well?

Even more absurd is the attempt to use such mythological concepts to measure the virtue of the Palestinian cause.  The Palestinian cause has nothing to do with Jews, Semites, anti-Semitism, God, Abraham, Jesus, Mohammed, Moses, Noah, Jacob, Ishmael, Shem, Ham and Japheth, whether you believe in them or not.  It has nothing to do with the Holocaust, colonialism, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Arabs, the Crusaders, the Turks or the British.

It has everything to do with the expulsion of Palestinians from their land and with denial of their right to sovereignty, to self-determination and above all their Right to Return.  It does not matter who expelled them.  It is their land and they have the right to return.  It does not matter who denies their existence.  They have a right to return.

It does not even matter if they are nice people or despicable, whether they are racists or humanists, whether they are Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhist or Shinto, whether they are clean or dirty, educated or ignorant, rich or poor, democrats or monarchists.  They have the right to return to their homes and to reclaim their country.

Their rights cannot be held hostage to the rights of others.  If justice for Palestinians cannot be bought at the price of injustice for others, neither can justice for others be bought at the price of injustice to Palestinians.  Justice may be indivisible, but we need not wait for justice to happen everywhere in order for it to happen in Palestine.

Palestinians cannot wait for CO2 levels to drop below 350 parts per million, nor for the population of blue whales to rise, nor for the persecution of Rohingyas to end in Myanmar, nor even for ethnic cleansing to end in Congo, nor for the European victims of World War II and their descendants to be made whole, nor for indigenous peoples everywhere to regain their rights and heritage.

Justice may be indivisible, but the restoration of justice anywhere raises the level of justice everywhere.  The restoration of justice in Palestine benefits the entire world and gives hope to justice that is still struggling to restore itself in other places and to other peoples.

Anti-Semitism is no more relevant to Palestinian liberation than anti-Hamitism or Anti-Japhetism or any other attempt to gauge the worthiness of the Palestinian cause by its endorsement or rejection of someone else’s values.  Please remove such irrelevance from the discussion of Palestinian rights.

(Source / 23.05.2013)

Birmingham murder may have been racially motivated, say police


Detectives appeal for witnesses after Mohammed Saleem, 75, was stabbed to death as he returned home from local mosque

Birmingham murder – family of Mohammed Saleem appeal for witnesses
Birmingham murder – Shazia Khan, left, comforts Nazia Maqsood as they appeal information over the death of their father, Mohammed Saleem. 

A 75-year-old man stabbed to death yards from his home may have been targeted in a racially motivated attack, according to police.

Mohammed Saleem, who used a walking stick, was stabbed three times in the back as he returned home from prayers at his local mosque in Small Heath, Birmingham, on Monday night.

The blows were struck with such violence they penetrated to the front of his body.

The father of seven also had no defensive wounds in what has been described as a swift, vicious and cowardly attack by the man leading the murder investigation, Detective Superintendent Mark Payne of West Midlands police.

Officers want to trace a white man, aged 25-32, of medium height and build, spotted on CCTV footage running near the scene of the attack around the time it happened, just before 10.30pm.

Police also want to trace a seven-seat people carrier captured on CCTV, driving near the mosque with the two male occupants, both white and in their 30s, who are considered “significant witnesses”.

In an emotional family appeal on Thursday, two of Saleem’s daughters, Shazia Khan, 45, and Nazia Maqsood, 44, called for the attackers to hand themselves in. They tearfully described their father as a “widely respected member of the community” and “much-loved”.

Payne said the possibility it was a racially motivated attack was “a significant line of inquiry” and a large number of detectives were working on the case. “To the attacker I say we will find you and we will bring you to justice,” he added.

Khan, who lives in London, said she believed it was “a premeditated brutal attack, pre-planned, intended to kill”.

She said: “I cannot see him having any enemies being so full of hate to do this to him. He was an old man – that’s what he was. He had no other agenda in his life, it’s unacceptable and we just cannot believe an attack like this would happen to him. We just cannot understand it.

“We have to walk past where he was killed and we can visualise it – we have to live with that for the rest of our lives.”

Describing her father, Khan said he had worked with youths at the mosque and “was a really good role model and had a great sense of humour, very tongue in cheek”. She said people from all walks of life had been paying their condolences.

Khan also had a message for her father’s killers: “We don’t know who carried out the attack – all we can say is you will be caught and you will be punished and justice will be done, legally.

“I hope they come forward. I hope that anyone who knows this man [seen in Wyndcliffe Road] or the driver in the car, there may be mobile phone videos made of the killing – we don’t know. If there’s any information people are sharing, every little bit of information is vital that will help catch the killer.

“It is unusual for someone of that description to be in that area. It may not be linked, we don’t know, but every avenue has to be covered. We have to all pull together and get justice for my father and anybody else, because this could happen again.”

(Source / 23.05.2013)

Toxic gas used as anesthesia in Gaza hospital

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) – Anesthesiologists in Gaza hospitals confirmed Wednesday that a nitrous oxide canister, bought from Israel, contained carbon monoxide and was used mistakenly.

Gaza minister of health Mufeed Mukhallalati says medics at al-Shifa Hospital had an “unprecedented case which almost killed several patients at the hospital’s main operation room.”

He added that anesthesiologists noticed that the patients’ reaction to the anesthetic gas was very dangerous. Four patients suffered severe cardiac arrest but medics managed to save the patients’ lives.

“We decided to stop all surgeries Wednesday” as a precaution, he said.

The minister added that a special committee was appointed to probe the case. Initial findings show that gas in the canister used for anesthetization was carbon monoxide instead of nitrous oxide. Carbon Monoxide is toxic to humans.

“In Gaza, we are not allowed to produce nitrous dioxide or import it except via Israel, so we are investigating how the anesthetic gas was replaced with carbon monoxide,” al-Mukhallalati said. He highlighted that his ministry notified the Red Cross and the World Health Organization about the incident.

(Source / 23.05.2013)

Israel Kidnaps 12 Children of the Orphanage School In Occupied Jerusalem

Wednesday, May 22 2013, The Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) has reported that Israeli soldiers kidnapped twelve children, students of the Orphanage School in occupied East Jerusalem.

File – Image By Wadi Hilweh Information Center

Bassam Khalil, vice-principal of the school, stated that the army kidnapped the children as they left school in the Old City, and took them to a local Police station in the Chain Gate area.

He added that, so far, three of the kidnapped children have been identified as Mohammad Abu Sneina, Obaida Es’eed, and Marwan Dweik.

The army claimed that the children hurled stones at Israeli settlers’ vehicles in the area.

Earlier on Wednesday, the army invaded different parts of the West Bank and kidnapped six Palestinians in the districts of Nablus, Tubas and Jenin.

On Tuesday, the army also invaded various areas in the West Bank, kidnapped eight Palestinians, and kidnapped two children in Abu Dis town, in occupied East Jerusalem.

Israeli soldiers invade the West Bank, and conduct arrests and home invasions, on a daily basis as part of the ongoing Israeli violations against the Palestinians and their property in the occupied Palestinian territories.

(Source / 23.05.2013)