More on the ILM Foundation – Expansion and Service

December 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, TMO

The ILM Foundation will be familiar to readers of The Muslim Observer. ILM is the Arabic word for “knowledge” and also stands for the virtues of intellect, love, and mercy. Many sub groups have been seeded by ILM including the Coalition to Preserve Human Dignity (CPHD), Go for the Game, Islam: A World Movement, Humanitarian Day, and a prison outreach support services.

ILM was founded in 1998 through the efforts of Imam Saadiq Saafir who sought to meet the needs of the most vulnerable members of society. He had a vision inspired by his Muslim faith to work for community cohesion and social justice. ILM is the fruit of his vision. Imam Saadiq now is the Chairman of ILM Foundation’s Board of Directors and senior Masjidulus member of Masjid Ibaadillah, Los Angeles. Imam Saadiq’s son, Imam Jihad Saafir, is currently doing a wonderful job as resident Imam.

ILM’s Director, Naim Shah, Jr. has spoken to The Muslim Observer to tell readers of the latest actions and goals of ILM.

Mr. Shah last year spent six months as a trainee with the Community Organizing Residency (COR) project. COR is a product of Jewish Funds for Justice. His placement was with LA Voice Pico. LA Voice Pico is a local federation of the PICO national network. LA Voice represents over 20 multi-faith congregations throughout Los Angeles representing nearly 20,000 families. It works in the arenas of education, responsible banking, immigration, health care reform, and violence prevention.

During that period Mr. Shah was able to introduce LA Voices’s responsibility banking initiative to the Muslim community.This initiative seeks to support legislation that seeks leniency from banks regarding foreclosures and encourages community reinvestment and increases in small business loans. Mr. Shah’s work was highlighted when he organized nearly 80 Muslims to attend a townhall meeting packed with nearly 800 people hosted at Blessed Sacrament Church in Hollywood.

Now LA Voice has Muslim representation through the Coalition to Preserve Human Dignity which ILM uses to coordinate Humanitarian Day. He and ILM’s Associate Director, Umar Hakim, joined LA Voice in a rally coordinated by Pico California in Sacramento to encourage our elected officials to stop delaying the passage of the state’s budget. It is with great pleasure to announce the excellent community organizing work coordinated by Umar Hakim at LA Voice, as the new COR resident for 2011-2012.

Humanitarian Day, founded by the ILM Foundation but coordinated through CPHD , is now in its 11th year. What began in a few cities as a one day outreach to the poor and homeless community has now become an institution. Food, toiletries, and other personal items are distributed free of charge, and representatives of medical clinics are usually available to answer questions. It is observed in 13 cities throughout California and nationally. The Humanitarian Day monthly effort is coordinated by ILM Director, Taswiyah Muttaz, which includes the distribution of fresh, warm meals, hygiene kits, occasional health screening services, and student community service learning engagement. ILM Foundation is extremely grateful for the support of and sponsorship from the Hassan Hathout Foundation, Masjid Ibaadillah, Orange County Islamic Foundation, Omar Ibn Khattab Foundation, Islamic Center of Irvine, UMMA Community Clinic, Los Angeles Police Department,  the USC Ansar Partnership for Service and many other institutions.

ILM has expanded its interfaith work and has partnered with the LDS Church (Mormon), LA Voci the South Coast Interfaith Council (SCIC), and the Doha International Center for Interfaith Dialogue, and NewGround Muslim Jewish Dialogue.

Mr. Naim Shah Sr., Director of ILM Foundation Prison Outreach Services, corresponds with federal and state chaplains about the conditions of Muslim inmates and how the foundation can assist. Currently, on a monthly basis, ILM distributes inmates care packages which include books, oil, prayer rug, etc.. We have volunteers who correspond via mail to assist with referrals and letters during the inmate re-entry process back into society.  ILM’s goal is recruit additional Muslim men to mentor inmates while in rehabilitation to prepare as much as possible to prevent recidivism after their release.  

Mr Shah and Mr. Hakim also graduated from the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute, a product of Nadia Romani and institutional partner of the Center of Religious Civic Culture Department at the University of Southern California.

Shaykh Ayub, ILM Director of Islamic Studies and Arabic, will visit Ghana to work on many of ILM’s humanitarian projects. Ghana is now approaching it 4th Annual Humanitarian Day. ILM’s focus in Ghana is education, breast cancer, youth recreation and infrastructure building. ILM Foundation currently supports several students with school tuition, technological support and other vocational training. In Ghana the top pastime for youth is soccer.  Currently through the gracious support of Zeeni Sports, ILM sponsors an entire youth soccer team with uniforms, socks, bags and educational support. ILM has recently been offered land to build a center to house all of our services in an area near Accra called Caswa. The annual ILM Ghana Tour is an attempt to increase the awareness and penitential of re-seeding our roots in West Africa. Ghana has a Muslim population of 30%,and rising. With a good political climate, strong economy , Islamic scholarship and good interfaith relations, ILM future in Ghana looks very bright. The partner organization in Ghana is the Bureau for Social Services located in Accra, Ghana.

Mr. Shah and Mr. Hakim have answered questions regarding their work posed by The Muslim Observer.

TMO: Could each of you tell our readers how you came to hear of the Community Organizing Residency (COR)?

NAIM: I learned about COR as result of participating in the American Muslim Civic Engagement Institute. Nadia Romani co-founder of AMCLI works as one of the program consultants with COR. So was really blessed to be included within this civic engagement network, which constantly share opportunities for graduates to further expand upon their experience and education.

UMAR: The opportunity for Community Organizing Residency (COR) came through our social network, American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute. We are always building essential leadership skills, and seen this was a great opportunity to learn hands on community organizing with agencies in California and/or throughout the U.S such as LA VOICE.

TMO: Will you describe your days at COR? Was it all study, was it hands on organizing?

NAIM:  COR is nice blend of on-site hand on community organizing with leadership and peer support training. I love it. The founders of COR were passionate and extremely professional. The residents were the spot light and we were provided all the tools to use our natural talents for extracting as a much from the 6 month residency as possible. I was also very fortunate to serve my residency at LA Voice Pico under the leadership of Zach Hoover and Rochelle

UMAR:  The COR training at Mt. Eden in the New Jersey countryside, was a genuine break from urban Compton. I spent 4-5 days within a faith-based cohort of Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhist, and Latino Indigenous; together we focused on several key learning areas a preparation for sustaining this organizing experience. My objective is phase II of ILM’s community organizing vision, identify and build the organizing component of the CPHD.

TMO: What about the COR program impressed you the most?

NAIM:  My most impressive moment was witnessing the excellent talent pool residents selected for the program. I felt so honored to represent Islam in such a setting. There was once central focus of exploiting our faith for the betterment of humanity not just ourselves and not just members of our faith. I was drawn into the coordinator’s of COR collective intention to make this program address the critical drought America was facing due to lack of replenishing our community with organizers. The experience increased my faith in Islam and in what can be accomplished working for a common cause!

UMAR:  One of the impressive moments was during Shabat, led by a Jewish cohort. It’s where I learning the meaning of Shabat and how Judaism is closely aligned to Islam, through Ibrahim and his worship of Tauhid. Dispelling a lot myths I had and now I’m able to apply my conduct of Islamic Fiqh more appropriately.

TMO:  What was the most valuable thing you learned at COR? What was the most valuable thing you think you introduced to that group?

NAIM:  The most valuable thing I learned is that Allah is the one who choose your teachers. I have been working in the Muslim community for nearly 18 years. Community organizing was not taught or practiced formally by any Masjid to my  knowledge. The skill sets, however, are re-surfacing back into the community though participants such as myself and Umar in wonderful programs like the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute and COR sponsored by the Jewish Funds for Justice. Both programs transformed me into a more effective leader and I am extremely grateful.

UMAR:  A valuable walkaway is knowing I now have the ability to reach out into different communities for religious and social intellectual insight, share my ideas and simply have another effective social network an email away; something that is very needed in our world of changing dynamics. Good question, what was the most valuable thing I introduced; I would say the second Pillar of Islam, Salat. Each member was asked to share an aspect of their religion or way of life and I was asked to explain Salat. I explained it through an interactive presentation for a customized delivery about our obligation prayers.

The Muslim Observer wishes to thank Mr. Shah and Mr. Hakim for their cooperation in conducting this interview.

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Assad Meets Arab ministers; 20 Killed in Clashes

October 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Khaled Yacoub Oweis

AMMAN (Reuters) – At least 20 people died in clashes and strikes paralyzed parts of Syria, as President Bashar al-Assad met Arab ministers seeking to end months of violence and authorities held a mass rally to show support for him.

The official state news agency quoted the head of the Arab League delegation, Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad al-Thani, as saying the talks on Wednesday were “cordial and frank” and that the ministers would meet Syrian officials again on October 30.

In the central city of Homs, a hotbed of opposition to Assad, people held a general strike to protest against his crackdown on seven months of unrest, in which the United Nations says 3,000 people have been killed.

Residents and activists said most employees stayed at home and shops were closed in the city of one million. One resident said armed opponents of Assad enforced the strike. Army gunfire, which killed 11 people across Syria on Wednesday, also kept people off the streets.

Residents and activists said most employees stayed at home and shops were closed in the city of one million. One resident said insurgents enforced the strike. Army gunfire, which killed 11 people across Syria on Wednesday, also kept people off the streets.

In the town of Hamrat, north of Homs, suspected army deserters killed nine soldiers in an attack on a bus with a rocket-propelled grenade, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. It was the latest incident in an armed insurgency emerging alongside the campaign of street protests.

Assad faces international pressure over his crackdown, with the United States and the European Union slapping sanctions on Syrian oil exports and businesses, helping drive the economy into recession.

“This will end with the fall of the regime. It is nearly unavoidable,” French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Wednesday.

“But unfortunately it could take time because the situation is complex, because there is a risk of civil war between Syrian factions, because surrounding Arab countries do not want us to intervene,” he told French radio.

ARAB MISSION

In Umayyad Square in central Damascus, tens of thousands of people gathered for what has become a weekly show of support for Assad organized by authorities.

State television showed them waving Syrian flags and portraits of the president, saying they were rallying under the slogan “Long live the homeland and its leader.”

The rally took place before the envoys from six Arab nations arrived in Damascus for talks with Assad following their call on October 16 for the opposition and government to hold a dialogue within 15 days at the League headquarters in Cairo.

“What is hoped is that the violence will end, a dialogue will start and reforms will be achieved,” Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby said of the delegation, which is led by Qatar and also includes Egypt, Algeria, Oman, Sudan and Yemen.

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The Biggest Lie in the War on Terrorism

October 13, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The Crime of Making Americans Aware of Their Own History

By William Blum

Is history getting too close for comfort for the fragile little American heart and mind? Their schools and their favorite media have done an excellent job of keeping them ignorant of what their favorite country has done to the rest of the world, but lately some discomforting points of view have managed to find their way into this well-defended American consciousness.

First, Congressman Ron Paul during a presidential debate last month expressed the belief that those who carried out the September 11 attack were retaliating for the many abuses perpetrated against Arab countries by the United States over the years. The audience booed him, loudly.

Then, popular-song icon Tony Bennett, in a radio interview, said the United States caused the 9/11 attacks because of its actions in the Persian Gulf, adding that President George W. Bush had told him in 2005 that the Iraq war was a mistake. Bennett of course came under some nasty fire. FOX News (September 24), carefully choosing its comments charmingly as usual, used words like “insane”, “twisted mind”, and “absurdities”. Bennett felt obliged to post a statement on Facebook saying that his experience in World War II had taught him that “war is the lowest form of human behavior.” He said there’s no excuse for terrorism, and he added, “I’m sorry if my statements suggested anything other than an expression of love for my country.” (NBC September 21)

Then came the Islamic cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen, who for some time had been blaming US foreign policy in the Middle East as the cause of anti-American hatred and terrorist acts. So we killed him.

Ron Paul and Tony Bennett can count themselves lucky.

What, then, is the basis of all this? What has the United States actually been doing in the Middle East in the recent past?

The shooting down of two Libyan planes in 1981 the bombing of Lebanon in 1983 and 1984 the bombing of Libya in 1986 the bombing and sinking of an Iranian ship in 1987 the shooting down of an Iranian passenger plane in 1988 the shooting down of two more Libyan planes in 1989 the massive bombing of the Iraqi people in 1991 the continuing bombings and draconian sanctions against Iraq for the next 12 years the bombing of Afghanistan and Sudan in 1998 the habitual support of Israel despite the routine devastation and torture it inflicts upon the Palestinian people the habitual condemnation of Palestinian resistance to this the abduction of “suspected terrorists” from Muslim countries, such as Malaysia, Pakistan, Lebanon and Albania, who were then taken to places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, where they were tortured the large military and hi-tech presence in Islam’s holiest land, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere in the Persian Gulf region the support of numerous undemocratic, authoritarian Middle East governments from the Shah of Iran to Mubarak of Egypt to the Saudi royal family the invasion, bombing and occupation of Afghanistan, 2001 to the present, and Iraq, 2003 to the present the bombings and continuous firing of missiles to assassinate individuals in Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, and Libya during the period of 2006-2011.

It can’t be repeated or emphasized enough. The biggest lie of the “war on terrorism”, although weakening, is that the targets of America’s attacks have an irrational hatred of the United States and its way of life, based on religious and cultural misunderstandings and envy. The large body of evidence to the contrary includes a 2004 report from the Defense Science Board, “a Federal advisory committee established to provide independent advice to the Secretary of Defense.” The report states:

“Muslims do not hate our freedom, but rather they hate our policies.

The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the long-standing, even increasing, support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan and the Gulf states. Thus, when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy.”

The report concludes: “No public relations campaign can save America from flawed policies.” (Christian Science Monitor, November 29, 2004)

The Pentagon released the study after the New York Times ran a story about it on November 24, 2004. TheTimes reported that although the board’s report does not constitute official government policy, it captures “the essential themes of a debate that is now roiling not just the Defense Department but the entire United States government.”

William Blum is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, Rogue State: a guide to the World’s Only Super Power and West-Bloc Dissident: a Cold War Political Memoir.

He can be reached at: BBlum6@aol.com

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Erdoğan Offers ‘Arab Spring’ Neo-Laicism

September 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Daily News

TUNIS

2011-09-16T144830Z_1057611084_GM1E79G1N2G01_RTRMADP_3_LIBYA

Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (L) and Chairman of Libya’s National Transitional Council Mustafa Abdel Jalil wave to people during a rally at Martyrs’ Square in Tripoli September 16, 2011. 

REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

Following criticism in Egypt, the Turkish PM repeats his support for secular governments where he says all religious groups are treated equally

Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan (L) draws intense interest during his visit to a covered bazaar in the Tunisian capital, Tunis. AA photo Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Thursday repeated his controversial call for uprising-hit Arab countries to adopt “secular states,” following Turkey’s model.

“Turkey is a democratic, secular and social state of law. As for secularism, a secular state has an equal distance to all religious groups, including Muslim, Christian, Jewish and atheist people,”
Erdoğan said during a visit to Tunis, the place where the wave of pro-democracy revolts sweeping the Middle East and North Africa began late last year.

“Tunisia will prove to the whole world that Islam and democracy can co-exist. Turkey with its predominantly Muslim population has achieved it,” Erdoğan said. His administration is seen by many as a model for post-revolution Arab countries, though Islamic groups in Egypt were split over his pro-secularism remarks there.

“On the subject of secularism, this is not secularism in the Anglo-Saxon or Western sense; a person is not secular, the state is secular,” Erdoğan said, describing Turkey as democratic and secular. “A Muslim can govern a secular state in a successful way. In Turkey, 99 percent of the population is Muslim, and it did not pose any problem.

You can do the same here.”

Erdoğan traveled to Tunisia following a rapturous welcome in Cairo and issued the kind of trademark warning to Israel that has earned him hero status on his “Arab Spring tour.”

“Israel will no longer be able to do what it wants in the Mediterranean and you’ll be seeing Turkish warships in this sea,” the Turkish prime minister said after meeting with his Tunisian counterpart, Beji Caid Essebsi, on the third day of his visit to North Africa.

Erdoğan reiterated his insistence on an Israeli apology for last year’s raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla that left nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists dead.

“Relations with Israel cannot normalize if Israel does not apologize for the flotilla raid, compensate the martyrs’ families and lift the blockade on Gaza,” Erdoğan said, adding that Turkey would assure protection for Turkish vessels bound for Gaza or elsewhere in international waters. “Israel cannot do whatever it wants in the eastern Mediterranean. It will see our determination. Our frigates, our assault boats will be there.”

Erdoğan’s visit marks “the willingness to strengthen brotherly relations and cooperation between Tunisia and Turkey,” the Tunisian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu was one of the first top foreign officials to visit Tunisia in February and is also among the Turkish ministers accompanying Erdoğan on his visit. Davutoğlu signed a friendship and cooperation agreement with his Tunisian counterpart, Mouldi Kefi, in Tunisia on Thursday.

Accompanied by a delegation of ministers and businessmen, Erdoğan arrived late Wednesday at the Tunis international airport, where he was welcomed by Prime Minister Essebsi.

Around 4,000 people waving Turkish and Palestinian flags had also gathered at the airport under heavy security to show their support for the man who has become one of the region’s most popular leaders.

Erdoğan is due in Libya on Friday for the final leg of his tour. The transitional administration there has also said that Islam would be the main source of legislation in the new Libya.

* Compiled from AFP, AP, Reuters and AA stories by the Daily News staff.a

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Hazare-Team: Dictatorial & Undemocratic?

August 25, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Nilofar Suhrawardy, TMO

NEW DELHI: Whom do social activist Anna Hazare and members of his team really represent? The seating capacity at Ramlila Maidan, the public ground selected by his team to display their protest against corruption and demand for a legislation, that is Lokpal bill, is approximately 50,000. Though there have been reports of people displaying their support in different parts of country, numerically except in Delhi and Mumbai, they have not crossed or even touched the number 1,00,000. In context of India being home to 1.21 billion, Hazare’s supporters do not represent a significant percentage of the country’s population, statistically. Nevertheless, the fact that Hazare’s protest dominates the media-news, including the headlines cannot be ignored. Statistics suggest that there is a major gap between what is being projected by the media and the actual story. Even if the number of Hazare’s supporters across the country adds up to several millions, they do not constitute even five percent of the nation’s population. In other words, it is as yet too early to accord Hazare the stature of a national leader even though media-hype gives this impression. The same is suggested by reports of numerous people donning caps and T-shirts with the slogan, “I am Anna.” Statistically, they don’t represent the entire country.

Understandably, the country’s citizens -including Hazare- have the freedom and right to raise their voice and also protest against what they feel disturbed by. In fact, it is the democratic duty of each and every citizen to display his/her stand against problems or evils they feel concerned about. There is no denying that corruption is one of the many problems, the Indian citizens are aggrieved about. At the same time, democratically speaking, while Hazare and his team have the right and duty to make suggestions regarding corrective measures and legislation, they cannot “dictate” their demands to an elected government. The course that Hazare-team gives the impression of taking, going on hunger-strike, organizing marches, planning “sit-in” demonstrations outside legislators’ residences and other such activities, is not in keeping with the democratic and socialist spirit of the Indian Constitution. Rather, considering that an elected government is in power and the country has measures available to enact new laws and amend old ones to ensure effective anti-corruption legislation, the Hazare-team is expected to be duty -bound to respect the country’s Constitution.

Politically, socially, constitutionally and even statistically, the Hazare-team is not representative of any segment or institution of the country to have the authority to dictate its terms to an elected government. In fact, if an elected government yields to this group, it would not only be abuse of the country’s constitutional system but also be bad precedence, which must not be permitted to take roots. It cannot be ignored that India is home to many religions, with most marked by a pronounced caste-system. The ethnic division in the Indian society is also responsible for emergence of numerous political parties. Can Hazare-team be held as representative of all the Indian socio-political groups? No. And therein lies the fear. Howsoever strongly Hazare-team may raise voice against corruption and even threaten the elected government with more demonstrations, their “strength” rests more on hype raised about them than actual issues. Corruption is not the only issue bothering Indian society. Have they talked of assuring action against female infanticide, dowry-deaths, the sufferings faced by Indian minorities- including Muslims, Christians and Hindus belonging to lower castes? Hardly.

Please note Hazare’s words: “If you (Prime Minister Manmohan Singh) cannot get the bill, I ask you to leave the chair.” Legally and ethically, it is not appropriate for any authority to dictate such terms to an elected leader. Even the country’s President is not legally authorized to dismiss the Prime Minister till he and his party lose support in the Parliament. Against this backdrop, one is prompted to raise the question as to what has led the Hazare-team to assume their role as greater than that of the country’s elected government and the Constitution? Legally and ethically, it is more like a blot on country’s political image than suggestive of Hazare-team heading for a second freedom struggle. The latter may have carried some relevance if India was not a free country.

Not surprisingly, Muslims in general seem fairly critical of Hazare-team’s course of action. Questioning its “democratic legitimacy,” they fear that it may lead to communal polarization and encourage extremist Hindu leaders to gather crowds to pursue their anti-Muslim agenda. “The Anna Hazare phenomenon is leading us to the rejection of representative democracy itself. The movement is an upper-caste uprising against India’s political democracy. That apart, vesting so much power in the Lokpal, a non-elected person, could lead to a dangerous situation,” according to Dalit columnist Chandrabhan Prasad. In the opinion of Kancha Ilaiah, a Dalit-Bahujan thinker, “The Anna movement is an anti-social justice, manuvadi movement. The Dalits, tribals, OBCs (Other Backward Classes) and minorities have nothing to do with it. We oppose it.”

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OIC Pledges $350 Million to Somalia at Turkey Summit

August 18, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Ibon Villelabeitia

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – ISTANBUL, Aug 17 (Reuters) – The Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries have pledged $350 million in aid to fight famine in Somalia at an emergency summit in Istanbul, OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said Wednesday.

With some 3.7 million Somalis at risk of starvation in the Horn of Africa country, Ihsanoglu said he hoped the aid would soon reach $500 million and urged donors to improve drought-stricken Somalia’s long-term food security by helping it rebuild infrastructure and agriculture.

“All in all we have secured $350 million in pledges. We hope to raise the commitments to $500 million in a very short time,” he told a news conference after the summit, held in Turkey’s commercial capital during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan appealed for aid for Somalia, criticizing millionaires who drive luxury cars and the “Western world’s” arrogance for ignoring the plight of the poor.

In a speech sprinkled with references to Islamic piety and criticism of Western capitalism, Erdogan said the Somali famine was “a litmus test” not only for Muslims but for all humanity.

“If you ride a luxury car you should be generous enough to people who are struggling with hunger,” he told foreign ministers from the 57-nation OIC at an emergency summit in Istanbul to galvanize support for Somalia and neighboring regions also hit by drought.

“I hope the efforts (of the OIC) will mobilize the sleeping consciences. We hope the Western world, which likes to boast about its per capita income, shows its support for Somalia.”

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last week her country would give an extra $17 million to combat famine in the Horn of Africa, including $12 million to help Somalis — bringing total U.S. humanitarian aid to the region to more than $580 million this year.

The OIC recently changed its name from Organization of the Islamic Conference to Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed said his country was unable to raise enough food and cattle, and faced militant attacks. The worst-hit areas are controlled by al Shabaab militants, who have prevented aid from getting to people.

The rebels, who have waged a four-year insurgency against Somalia’s Western-backed government, withdrew from Mogadishu earlier this month, opening the way for life-saving food aid but also raising the risk of insurgency attacks.

TURKEY IN AFRICA

Muslim Turkey, a rapidly growing economy and multi-party democracy that has applied to join the European Union, is widely regarded as a model for Muslim and other developing countries.

The OIC summit offered Turkey a chance to showcase its commitment to Africa when other emerging powers are scrambling for trade and investments in the resource-rich continent.

Erdogan, a pious Muslim who fasts during Ramadan, used his 30-minute speech to burnish his image as a hero among many Muslims, a status he has gained for his criticism of Israel and his support for Palestinian statehood.

“What can we say to people on the other side, making trillions of dollars, capitalizing on others? What kind of civilization is this?” he said, raising his voice at times.

“We come from the community of the Prophet, who says you cannot sleep peacefully if your neighbor is hungry. The Somali people are looking at us. Can we turn our gaze away?”

Erdogan will travel to Somalia Thursday with his family. He plans to visit relief camps and will be joined by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and his family.

Visits by foreign dignitaries are extremely rare in Somalia, plagued by war and anarchy for the last two decades.

Turkey lags other emerging powerhouses such as China, Brazil and India in the race for new markets in Africa, but under Erdogan’s AK Party government, Turkey has boosted trade with the continent and opened several new embassies there.

Davutoglu later heads to South Africa and Ethiopia as part of an African tour aimed at raising Turkey’s diplomatic presence in the continent and expanding business ties.

Erdogan said Turkey would open six field hospitals in Somalia and send 20 tonnes of medication and 10 tonnes of food.

(Writing by Ibon Villelabeitia; Editing by Alistair Lyon)

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Spine

August 18, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

tufail 8-15-11

The vertebral column; the central support of the skeleton,consisting of individual bones called vertebrae.

The backbone surrounds and protects the delicate spinal cord.There are 33 sections in a baby’s backbone, 24 in a grown adult. Muscles and ligaments attach to the sections. The muscles support the spine. Cartilage makes up 25% of the Spine’s length. Cartilage is what bones are made of and some cartilage are still not developed. The spinal cord is the center of the nervous system which is the feeling system.

The backbone has many sections. The top section is the Cervical Vertebrae. The middle section is the Dorsal or Thoracic Vertebrae.The last and final section is the Lumbar Vertebrae. The is about 24 sections of the backbone. The backbone is the main support of the body and the bones. The location of the backbone is behind every organ in your body,including the heart.

The spine (or spinal column) has two main functions: it serves as a protective surrounding for the delicate spinal cord and forms the supporting backbone of the skeleton.The spine consist of 24 separate, differently shaped bones (vertebrae) with a curved, triangular bone (the sacrum) at the bottom. The sacrum is made up of fused vertebrae; at its lower end is a small tail-like structure made up of tiny bones collectively called the coccyx.

Between each pair of vertebrae is a disk of cartilage that cushions the bones during movement. The top two vertebrae differ in appearance from the others and work as a pair:the first,called the atlas, rotates around a stout vertical peg on the second,called the axis. This arrangement allows the skull to move freely up and down,and from side to side.

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Dr. Wasim Khan Runs for NJ Senate

July 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, TMO

Wasm_KhanDr. Wasim Khan is an accomplished doctor who has decided to seek political office in New Jersey.

He is running for the senate seat of New Jersey’s 26th district, a seat which he previously sought and lost to Joseph Pennacchio, in 2007.  Penacchio, a Republican, won with 26,000 votes, as compared to Dr. Khan’s 13,000. 

This year, Khan ran unopposed in the Democratic primary but faces a serious challenge in the main election.  Since 1981, the district has always been carried by Republicans in the general election–however the lines of the district were recently drawn and its current boundaries are untested, although it seems likely its general character will remain.

Another factor that may influence the election in the district is that, of New Jersey’s 40 senate districts, this one has one of the heaviest concentrations of Asians. Perhaps this will not be enough to sway the election in Mr. Khan’s favor, however.

But Dr. Khan remains optimistic about the current election, citing as evidence the fact that Penacchio faces a challenger from his own party who is running as an independent. Also, Khan explains that New Jersey currently has an extremely unpopular Republican governor whose actions to limit public workers’ union rights have led to electoral anger which could harm other Republicans.

Dr. Khan explains that his background is very distinguished.  A physician, born and raised in India, Khan was educated at India’s “most prestigious universities,” and also did post-graduate work at Harvard.  He explains that he has been published in major peer-reviewed articles here, in Europe, and in India. 

“One of my studies, on cancer prevention, is still ongoing at Harvard,” he explains.

Khan worked on the failed Howard Dean presidential campaign of 2004, and his loyalty to Dean still shows through in his anger at the character assassination against Dean by the media–which he characterizes as completely unfair.

Khan explains his value to New Jersey residents with convincing arguments, explaining that there are many large communities of ethnic groups in New Jersey without any legislative representation, citing Muslims, Chinese, Sikhs, and others.  He expresses his willingness to stand up for anyone who is oppressed, whatever his or her background.

Mr. Khan asks for your support as he approaches the November election. 

“I have a fairly good chance to win if Muslims rally around me.  Of course only residents can vote in the election, but anyone  in the US can help out, contribute, volunteer, send a few dollars.”  He says not to be shy–”send a few dollars, it’s okay.  Don’t say to yourself, oh, $10 won’t make a difference–no, it will make a big difference, I can put that money to good use.”

Khan explains that in this current election cycle he believes there are no Muslim candidates running for state senates or assemblies anywhere in the US.  He campaigned for support at the ISNA convention in Chicago earlier this month, and he says he was the only Muslim candidate campaigning there–it is on this fact that he bases his statement that there are no other Muslim candidates running in the current election cycle at the state legislative level.

Khan ran unsuccessfully for Parsippany-Troy Hills Township Council in 2005.

13-30

UNESCO Award for Dr. SM Haq

July 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

DAWN

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission  (IOC) of UNESCO  on its   50th Commemorative  Anniversary, held on 22nd June 2011 at the  UNESCO Headquarters,  Paris ,  awarded   Professor  Dr. S.M.Haq  of Pakistan  a  Commemorative  Medal for his outstanding contributions to the program activities of the Commission  in Ocean Science and Services.  

Dr.  Haq  is  the first Pakistani to have  received  this award  from the IOC of UNESCO.

Dr. Haq’s   involvement in the IOC program  and activities dates back to  1961,  when  he, at the invitation of the IOC/ Scientific  Committee of Oceanic Research (SCOR) of  ICSU,  participated  in its meeting  held in Delhi to finalize the arrangements for the launching of the  International Indian Ocean Expedition  (IIOE ; 1960-65) with IOC as the coordinating body.
As  part of  Pakistan’s participation  in  the  IIOE  activity,  Dr. Haq, with the support of the University of Karachi and in close cooperation with and support  of the  Directorate of  Hydrography of  the Pakistan Navy,  led  oceanographic  cruises, consisting of  a team of young national scientists,  on board the P.N.S.  Zulfiquar,  covering the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal.  The data collected during the cruises were later incorporated in the Indian Ocean Atlas, published by  the  IOC.

Serving as  Head of the Capacity Building  program activities of the IOC, (1978-1990)  Dr. Haq was responsible for  the introduction and implementation of  a wide range of  measures to enhance  marine science capacity  of a number of  coastal and island states of  the Caribbean,  Western Pacific, Indian Ocean, and East and  West African coasts. These activities were  timely, considering  the adoption  by the international community of the final text of the UN Convention  on  the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS : : 1982) and, later, the provisions  adopted   by the  UN Conference on Environment for Development (UNCED : 1992), which triggered national interest world-wide for  marine sciences  in  new   and extended areas of national jurisdictions  offshore. 

The overall result of these contributions was seen in the progressive involvement  of developing countries in  regional and global  scientific  program   as well as  their  increased awareness of the importance of coastal and ocean sciences in the context of national development.

Born in Hyderabad  (India)  and educated  at the Osmania University, Dr. Haq  immigrated to Pakistan in 1954. He is   now a US citizen,  residing permanently in  Cincinnati, Ohio.

Dr. Haq obtained his Ph.D.  in 1960 in Marine Science from the Marine Science  Centre of University of N. Wales. He was a post-doctoral Fulbright Fellow at  Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Mass.,  (1963-65) and  a recipient of  the post-doctoral Nuffield  award at  the  Marine  Biological  Association  of  the U.K. (1973). His scientific  work  covered  the vast areas  of the Irish Sea, the Indian  Ocean, the Western Atlantic, the Arctic Ocean as   part of his research studies.  He  Published numerous scientific pares in international journals, including  as joint editor of a book  on “Coastal Management imperative  for  Maritime Developing  Nations,”  published by the  Kluwer   Academic  Publishers of  the Netherlands. 

At the national  level (Pakistan), Dr.  Haq served as the founder-director of the Institute of Marine Biology at the University of Karachi, 1970-78. He was a member of the Pakistan Delegation  to the Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea (1976), where he made important contributions to  the negotiating text dealing with the role of Marine Scientific Research in the New Ocean Regime.

13-29

“Lawfare” is the Latest Form of Israeli-AIPAC Attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla

June 16, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Ann Wright

Israel is hard at work to stop international citizen activists groups from 22 countries that form the Gaza Freedom Flotilla from sailing in less than 3 weeks to bring international attention to Israel’s brutal siege on Gaza. As a part of Israeli government propaganda, the civil society to civil society project is purposefully and wrongly portrayed by the Israeli government  as sending weapons and “material support” to Gaza’s democratically elected government headed by Hamas, a group Israel and the United States have designated as a terrorist organization.

Extensive investigations by the United Nations, Turkey and even the Israeli government concluded there were no weapons on any of the 6 ships of the 2010 flotilla and that the cargo was consigned to non-governmental organizations in Gaza.  But, the Israeli government never lets truth get in the way of its propaganda machine!

Israel’s massive diplomatic offensive on European countries, Turkey, Canada and the United States that strongly demands that countries not allow ships and passengers to sail has been followed by a new type of warfare called  “lawfare.”

Instead of direct military “warfare,” the Israeli government and its front organizations AIPAC and the Shurat HaDin Law Center are using lawsuits filed against insurance and satellite telephone companies that may sell equipment to the flotilla organizers and against citizen activist groups that have raised funds to purchase ships as strategies to attempt to stop the flotilla.

AIPAC joins Israeli government attack on the Gaza flotilla

On June 2, New York City corporate attorney Neal Sher, the former executive director of the most powerful lobby in the United States, the American Israeli Public Affairs Council (AIPAC), filed a lawsuit in Toronto, Canada against the organizers of the Canadian Boat to Gaza for “raising funds and providing material support to Hamas.”

The lawsuit was on behalf of a Canadian-Israeli citizen and asks for an interim and permanent injunction to stop the Canadian Boat to Gaza initiative “from continuing to raise funds, purchasing equipment or supplies, and purchasing or renting a vessel for the purpose of delivering goods or funds to the Gaza Strip.”  The lawsuit also wants to block the Canadian grassroots group “from sending goods, funds or any other material support, directly or indirectly, to Hamas or any of its representatives, and/or from aiding and abetting Hamas by assisting in bringing imports and exports to and from the Gaza Strip.”

In addition, the Canadian-Israeli citizen, 68-year old Cherna Rosenberg, wants  $1 million in damages “for trauma and injuries suffered as a consequence of the defendants’ conspiracy” from the time she lived in the Israeli town of Sderot, where she “endured the constant and relentless mortar attacks emanating from Gaza.”

The lawsuit’s aim is to continue the Israeli government’s six decade control over the economic future of Gaza by refusing to allow the export and import of goods by sea and the free movement of Palestinian people without the approval of either the Israeli or Egyptian government.

One would hope that a counter-suit by a citizen of Gaza would be brought asking for millions of dollars in damages for the daily attacks on Gaza by the Israeli Defense Forces “for trauma and injuries suffered as a consequence of Israel’s aggression on civilians” in all parts of Gaza where “they endured constant and relentless attacks by F-16s, Apache gunships, naval bombardment, drones, white phosphorus, dense inert metal explosive bombs and countless other weapons.”

Lawsuits in the US against companies offering services to participating ships A second lawsuit attempts to prevent the flotilla from sailing by bringing lawsuits in the United States against companies that provide services to ships in the flotilla.

Shurat HaDin Law Center, reportedly an independent non-profit organization but certainly supporting and working for the policies of the State of Israel, sent letters to worldwide maritime insurance firms and satellite communications companies, warning that companies that provide services that assist in the breach of the Israeli blockade on Gaza will be sued in the United States for aiding the Hamas terrorist organization.)

Shurat HaDin’s Director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner demanded that mobile satellite services company Inmarsat, one of companies that provides communications and navigations services to ships that sail in the region,  refuse to provide their equipment and services to ships participating in the flotilla.  Darshan-Leitner said, “We informed them that if they do so, they will be in violation of the American Neutrality Act, which prohibits aiding a group in their struggle against the military of an ally country.  Since Imarsat has offices in the US, the law binds them.”
Shurat HaDin has also sent letters to 30 of the top maritime insurance companies in the world announcing the law center’s intent to sue if the companies provide insurance to ships participating in the flotilla.

Relentless campaign of false information used against the flotilla

In a relentless campaign of using the false information about the flotilla, including that there were weapons on ships of the 2010 Gaza flotilla, Darshan-Leitner said “…Maritime insurance companies insuring the boats utilized by the Gaza Flotilla surely have no idea that the passenger boats that they are indemnifying are being used by the organizers to run the coastal blockade, violently challenge the IDF and smuggle weapons into Gaza. No legitimate insurance company nor its shareholders would reasonably agree to insure an expedition like that.  We have begun to send letters placing the maritime insurance companies on notice concerning the Gaza Flotilla, and warning them that if they provide insurance (a necessary component in the effort to smuggle contraband to the terrorists) that they themselves will be legally liable for any future terrorist attacks perpetrated by Hamas.”

Lloyd’s, the world’s largest maritime insurance company, reportedly said that they would not insure ships participating in the flotilla.

Lloyd’s Senior Manager of International Regulatory Affairs, Andy Wragg  responded to Shurat HaDin’s letter, “As you correctly point out in your letter, Hamas is subject to UK and EU terrorist-financing sanctions. As such, any vessel identified as being owned or controlled by that organization would not be permitted to be insured by underwriters at Lloyd’s, or any other EU insurer. The Lloyd’s Market has robust systems in place to ensure international sanctions are followed, and therefore any underwriter identifying an insured or prospective insured acting on behalf of, or for the benefit of Hamas, would not insure such a risk.”

However, none of the ships of either the 2010 or 2011 flotilla have any connection with Hamas and no amount of false Israeli propaganda can change the truth.  Although the truth is not what much of the commercial media is concerned with.

Force is not the Best Way to Stop the Flotilla

Darshan-Leitner commented, “We ..think that the war on the flotilla should not be left for the Special Forces to fight alone. There is no need for Israeli soldiers to repel down ropes in order to stop the next flotilla – all that’s needed is some courage and original thinking.  There are various ways to prevent, postpone, limit and avert the danger – and force isn’t always the best way.”
We Agree-Force is not the Way to Stop the Flotilla-Ending the Naval Blockade is!

On this, we agree with Darshan-Leitner.

Force is not the way to stop worldwide condemnation of Israel’s blockade of Gaza.  The way to stop the flotilla is to end the naval blockade of Gaza!
Until the blockade ends, the flotillas filled with citizens from around the world will continue to challenge Israeli’s brutal policies and United States complicity in them.

Ann Wright

Ann Wright is a 29-year, US Army/Army Reserves veteran, who retired as a colonel and a former US diplomat. She resigned in March 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq. She served in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia. In December 2001 she was a member of the small team that reopened the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. She is the co-author of the book “Dissent: Voices of Conscience.” www.voicesofconscience.com

Michael Moore’s Blog

13-25

ANALYSIS-India Eyes Diplomacy and Private Sector to Woo Africa

June 9, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Henry Foy and Aaron Maasho

NEW DELHI/ADDIS ABABA, May 27 (Reuters) – Bereft of China’s riches, India is banking on diplomacy, development and its entrepreneurial private sector to woo African nations to open markets and natural resources to Asia’s third-largest economy

New Delhi has promised billions of dollars in development support, financing for infrastructure projects and the building of educational and training institutes as it positions itself as the alternative to Beijing.

India enjoys historical ties with some African countries, but became a mere observer when China came calling for resources and energy, with financial riches New Delhi could not match.

China boasts foreign exchange reserves of more than $3 trillion, 10 times India’s $307 billion, and has aggressively used state-owned development banks to invest heavily in oil, gas and other resources across the continent.

But after being caught cold by China, and losing a series of bids for oil rights and infrastructure projects to its Asian rival, India is banking on a new approach to Africa that blends trade and investment with development economics.

“India’s approach is reciprocal, expecting access to resources in exchange for developing technology and training Africa’s human resources. That’s how India is different to other foreign powers,” said Suresh Kumar, head of the Department of African Studies, University of Delhi.

“In providing education, technology, development and security, India is a complete partner.”

Like China, India has posted high economic growth rates since 1990 and the economy in a country of 1.2 billion people is now expanding at more than 8 percent a year. Resources from Africa are seen as crucial to help sustain growth.

Total trade between India and African countries stood at $46 billion last year, still less than half of China’s $108 billion in 2008, but a huge increase on $3 billion in 2000-1. India says it will reach $70 billion by 2015.

Beijing also leads the way in diplomatic terms, with 42 embassies across sub-Saharan Africa, double India’s diplomatic presence of only 21 embassies, a report from the London-based Chatham House think-tank said.

Indian is keen to trumpet its cultural links with African countries, citing a shared history of imperialism and trade routes established hundreds of years ago.

The Indian diaspora in Africa tops 2 million people, but it is mainly concentrated in South Africa, the Indian Ocean and some countries along the Eastern seaboard such as Kenya.

“The private sector is pushing the Indian government to engage on Africa more consistently and to expand its network,” said Alex Vines, head of Chatham House’s Africa Programme.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on a six-day trip to Ethiopia and Tanzania this week, pledged $5 billion over three years in development support, $700 million for new institutions and training programmes and $300 million for an Ethiopia-Djibouti railway line.

“India can be blamed for waking up late to the African opportunity, but can make up for lost time by projecting itself as a more humane investor than its northern neighbour,” wrote India’s Hindustan Times newspaper in an editorial.

While India, and other emerging economies, see Africa as an important supplier and customer to drive growth, it is a sign of New Delhi’s growing global economic and political clout, that it is seeking to play a leading role in Africa’s development.

“Africa is determined to partner in India’s economic resurgence as India is committed to be a close partner in Africa’s renaissance,” said the declaration after the second Africa-India summit in Ethiopia this week.

India’s state-run oil firms are beginning to invest in countries including Nigeria and Kenya, coal and diamond firms have invested across the continent, and new embassies in Niger and Malawi have been opened to assist firms with securing uranium for India’s fast-growing nuclear power industry.

India is also keen to leverage its global expertise in the information technology, agriculture and human resource sectors in helping African countries, many of which face similar developmental hurdles that India itself is grappling with.

While China has snapped up resources through governmental agreements, India’s government wants the private sector to spearhead the push to secure investments across the continent.

“India’s engagement with Africa is completely different with that of China. With China its state-to-state, even if the investors are private companies,” said Zemedeneh Negatu, Ernst & Young’s Managing Partner for Ethiopia.

Indian telecoms firm Bharti Airtel spent $9 billion acquiring Zain’s African assets last year, with a view to implementing strategies in Africa that were developed in the world’s fastest-growing mobile market.

Largely thanks to the Bharti deal, India was the most acquisitive nation in Africa in 2010.

With African consumer spending set to nearly double to $1.4 trillion by 2020, according to McKinsey and Co., Indian consumer goods makers are also pushing hard across the continent.

Godrej Consumer has bought personal care products makers in Nigeria and South Africa, while Dabur India, Marico and Emami have also bought assets.

“India’s engagement with Africa in the economic sense will be driven by the private sector,” said H.H. Viswanathan of the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation.

“The majority of the top 10 Indian companies in Africa are private firms, not state-run like the Chinese firms.”

Development assistance aside, as the Indian private sector expands in Africa, the continent is also destined to benefit from job creation as companies seek lower production costs.

“Labour costs have become more and more expensive in China and India. Chinese and Indian companies are starting look at destinations where they can do their things cost-competitively,” said Ernst & Young’s Zemedeneh.

“That’s where Africa benefits.” (Editing by David Clarke)

13-24

Yemen’s Saleh Losing Grip as Fighting Rages

June 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adam Baron, McClatchy Newspapers

2011-06-01T151733Z_632357451_GM1E7611ST301_RTRMADP_3_YEMEN

An anti-government protester, his face painted with the colours of Yemen’s national flag, shouts slogans during a rally to demand the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa June 1, 2011. Renewed fighting in Yemen’s capital between a powerful tribal group and President Ali Abdullah Saleh forces this week has killed at least 19 people and rocked Sanaa with explosions, officials said on Wednesday.    

REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Sanaa, Yemen – After four months of widespread anti-government demonstrations, numerous defections of high-ranking officials and mounting pressure from powerful tribes, Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh appears to be losing his increasingly fragile grip on the southern Arabian nation.

Fighting raged all day Tuesday in the capital between Saleh’s forces and fighters loyal to Sheikh Sadiq al Ahmar, the leader of one of Yemen’s most powerful tribal federations, signaling the collapse of ceasefire negotiations. With the sound of shelling echoing until well after nightfall, Saleh’s forces bombarded the Hasaba neighborhood around Ahmar’s house, which includes several government ministries, but Ahmar’s fighters maintained their hold on the area.

The United Nations’ top human rights official condemned the government’s “intensified use of force” against protesters in the southern city of Taiz, a center of the anti-government movement 120 miles south of Sanaa. The U.N. said it had received unconfirmed reports that more than 50 people were killed and hundreds injured there since Sunday by pro-government forces using live ammunition.

In Sanaa, news reports said that Saleh’s forces targeted an army division headed by Ali Mohsin, a powerful general who defected from the government in March. The Yemeni Department of Defense denied the reports, however, and several top army defectors appear for now to have stayed out of the fighting.

Top members of the military, once Saleh’s most reliable base of support, have been deserting him since pro-government forces were ordered to fire on protesters in Sanaa in March in one of the bloodiest crackdowns of the so-called Arab Spring protests. Over the weekend, amid reports of mounting army defections, a group of anti-government generals put out a statement calling on members of the military to declare their support for the protests.

Many argue that support for Saleh is waning even in army divisions that remain ostensibly under his command.

“Many of us are waiting for the right time to join the revolution,” a member of the elite Republican Guard, which is led by Saleh’s son Ahmed Ali, said on condition of anonymity because he feared reprisals. “Even if we stay for now, we will leave if ordered to fire on our brothers.”

In power for 32 years, Saleh has managed to weather Yemen’s volatile political climate by keeping close ties with the military and cleverly striking deals with Yemen’s powerful tribes. He’s survived numerous attempted coups, a civil war in 1994 and insurrections from rebels in the country’s north and south — in part by positioning himself as a Western-friendly Arab leader who’s received hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. assistance to combat the influence of al Qaida-linked militants on Yemeni soil.

However, with demonstrations against his rule escalating, the U.S. and other powers have been pushing Saleh to agree to a deal brokered by Arab Gulf states under which he’d cede power within 30 days in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Opposition leaders have signed it, but Saleh has refused.

“Saleh seems to think he can escape this crisis as he has done in the past, but many in the country believe things have fundamentally changed,” said Gregory Johnsen, a Yemen analyst at Princeton University. “That, in essence, is the conflict.”

Clashes between government forces and anti-government tribesmen have continued in numerous areas in the countryside around Sanaa, while fighting between the Yemeni army and what it has called Islamist militants has re-emerged in the long-troubled southern province of Abyan.

In Taiz, independent reports said that the army, Republican Guards and other pro-government forces forcibly destroyed the main protest camp at Horriya Square using water cannons, bulldozers and live ammunition.

“Such reprehensible acts of violence and indiscriminate attacks on unarmed civilians by armed security officers must stop immediately,” said the U.N. human rights chief, Navi Pillay.

Speaking in Geneva, Pillay said that at least 100 people were believed to have been arrested over the weekend in Taiz, while dozens of others were unaccounted for, and that her staff had received many reports of ill treatment, torture and killings at the hands of security forces. She called on Yemeni authorities to investigate the cases.

In a statement Monday, the U.S. Embassy condemned recent attacks on demonstrators, while reiterating previous calls for Saleh to transfer power.

The growing instability has made daily life significantly more difficult in the Arab world’s most impoverished country, where nearly 40 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day.

Access to basic utilities is increasingly unreliable, as even the capital continues to experience widespread blackouts and gas shortages. Business has ground nearly to a halt in urban areas, with many Yemenis fleeing violence for the relative safety of the countryside.

Government figures estimate that the nation has lost up to $4 billion since the demonstrations began, as the value of the Yemeni rial continues to fall against the dollar; the black-market exchange rate is well above the official rate of 215 to 1.

The faltering economy hasn’t significantly affected Saleh’s ability to cling to power yet, but analysts say that the damage will likely have long-reaching effects.

“No matter what happens, economic issues are going to have a large effect on whoever comes next,” Johnsen said. “Yemen’s worsening economic issues will severely hamper any future government as it attempts to recover from over 30 years of misrule.”

13-23

Pakistan Moves Closer to China

May 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

2011-05-18T112120Z_2040905607_GM1E75I1HYB01_RTRMADP_3_CHINA-PAKISTAN

Pakistan’s PM Yusuf Raza Gilani (C) and China’s Premier Wen Jiabao (R) clap as bilateral companies exchange documents during a singing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, May 18, 2011.      

REUTERS/Jason Lee

The friction between Islamabad and Washington following the death of Osama Bin Laden in an American operation and the possible acceleration of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan will narrow, analysts say, the relationship, already strong, between Pakistan and China.

During the visit to Beijing by Pakistani Prime Minister on Tuesday and Thursday, Chinese leaders will dispose lyrical about sixty years of “friendship” Sino-Pakistan, in contrast to recent criticisms of the West to the “land of the pure.”

The Chinese government was careful not to ask questions about the aid that could have benefited the head of Al Qaida, and gave its support to Pakistan, “at the forefront of counterterrorism efforts.”
This benevolence has not gone unnoticed. “At this crucial moment of history, do not see anyone next to Pakistan, with the exception of China,” said Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s most popular politician in the country.

Pakistani public opinion, exasperated by the U.S. unilateral operation against bin Laden and distrust of Washington, is increasingly convinced that the strategic alliance with the United States since 2001 has had disastrous effects: destabilization and the questioning of Pakistan in the field international.

Hence, the Islamic Republic is tempted away from the United States moving closer to Beijing, has long been a loyal ally in contrast to Washington, who had lost interest in the region after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan.

According to Talat Masood, a Pakistani analyst, “Pakistan may say: ‘China is with us. Do not believe that we are isolated.”

China’s official media reveled in recent days to denounce “the arrogance” of Westerners.

“The American media do not consider Pakistan as a true ally worthy of respect but as an instrument of U.S. interests,” the Global Times newspaper.

China is the main supplier of weapons to Pakistan, as an important counterbalance to India, that closer ties with the United States.

New Delhi and Washington signed in 2008 a historic agreement on civil nuclear cooperation. Beijing, concerned to preserve the balance of forces in the subcontinent, Islamabad closed several contracts to build nuclear reactors.

The positions for Pakistan China on Taiwan and Tibet are another factor that explains the support from Beijing to Islamabad, says Kerry Dumbaugh, the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA).

“China used Pakistan as a lawyer or a vector towards the Muslim world,” he said.

Beijing also needs the cooperation of Pakistan against the Islamist threat in the Muslim region of Xinjiang (western).

According to some observers, China is convinced that Islamabad will increase by 2015, its influence in Afghanistan, taking advantage of U.S. forces withdraw from the country.

In addition to Beijing’s interest to calm reigns in the region, especially in the Pakistani province of Baluchistan. The main energy consumer worldwide through the area expected to bring oil from the Middle East through a pipeline between Xinjiang and Pakistan’s Gwadar port.

The rapprochement between Islamabad and Beijing to the detriment of the West has its limits, says the Pakistani expert Hasan Askari: “America and the West remain unavoidable due to its cutting-edge technology and weight at the World Bank or International Monetary Fund.”

13-22

Pres. Obama’s Speech on the Middle East and North Africa

May 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

White House Press Release

2011-05-25T163719Z_1335237166_LM1E75P1A4V01_RTRMADP_3_OBAMA-BRITAIN
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to both houses of Britain’s parliament, in Westminster Hall in London May 25, 2011.  REUTERS/Jeff J Mitchell/POOL

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Please, have a seat.  Thank you very much.  I want to begin by thanking Hillary Clinton, who has traveled so much these last six months that she is approaching a new landmark — one million frequent flyer miles.  (Laughter.)  I count on Hillary every single day, and I believe that she will go down as one of the finest Secretaries of State in our nation’s history.

The State Department is a fitting venue to mark a new chapter in American diplomacy.  For six months, we have witnessed an extraordinary change taking place in the Middle East and North Africa.  Square by square, town by town, country by country, the people have risen up to demand their basic human rights.  Two leaders have stepped aside.  More may follow.  And though these countries may be a great distance from our shores, we know that our own future is bound to this region by the forces of economics and security, by history and by faith.

Today, I want to talk about this change — the forces that are driving it and how we can respond in a way that advances our values and strengthens our security.

Now, already, we’ve done much to shift our foreign policy following a decade defined by two costly conflicts.  After years of war in Iraq, we’ve removed 100,000 American troops and ended our combat mission there.  In Afghanistan, we’ve broken the Taliban’s momentum, and this July we will begin to bring our troops home and continue a transition to Afghan lead.  And after years of war against al Qaeda and its affiliates, we have dealt al Qaeda a huge blow by killing its leader, Osama bin Laden.

Bin Laden was no martyr.  He was a mass murderer who offered a message of hate –- an insistence that Muslims had to take up arms against the West, and that violence against men, women and children was the only path to change.  He rejected democracy and individual rights for Muslims in favor of violent extremism; his agenda focused on what he could destroy -– not what he could build.
Bin Laden and his murderous vision won some adherents.  But even before his death, al Qaeda was losing its struggle for relevance, as the overwhelming majority of people saw that the slaughter of innocents did not answer their cries for a better life.  By the time we found bin Laden, al Qaeda’s agenda had come to be seen by the vast majority of the region as a dead end, and the people of the Middle East and North Africa had taken their future into their own hands.

That story of self-determination began six months ago in Tunisia.  On December 17th, a young vendor named Mohammed Bouazizi was devastated when a police officer confiscated his cart.  This was not unique.  It’s the same kind of humiliation that takes place every day in many parts of the world -– the relentless tyranny of governments that deny their citizens dignity.  Only this time, something different happened.  After local officials refused to hear his complaints, this young man, who had never been particularly active in politics, went to the headquarters of the provincial government, doused himself in fuel, and lit himself on fire.

There are times in the course of history when the actions of ordinary citizens spark movements for change because they speak to a longing for freedom that has been building up for years.  In America, think of the defiance of those patriots in Boston who refused to pay taxes to a King, or the dignity of Rosa Parks as she sat courageously in her seat.  So it was in Tunisia, as that vendor’s act of desperation tapped into the frustration felt throughout the country.  Hundreds of protesters took to the streets, then thousands.  And in the face of batons and sometimes bullets, they refused to go home –- day after day, week after week — until a dictator of more than two decades finally left power.

The story of this revolution, and the ones that followed, should not have come as a surprise.  The nations of the Middle East and North Africa won their independence long ago, but in too many places their people did not.  In too many countries, power has been concentrated in the hands of a few.  In too many countries, a citizen like that young vendor had nowhere to turn  -– no honest judiciary to hear his case; no independent media to give him voice; no credible political party to represent his views; no free and fair election where he could choose his leader.

And this lack of self-determination –- the chance to make your life what you will –- has applied to the region’s economy as well.  Yes, some nations are blessed with wealth in oil and gas, and that has led to pockets of prosperity.  But in a global economy based on knowledge, based on innovation, no development strategy can be based solely upon what comes out of the ground. Nor can people reach their potential when you cannot start a business without paying a bribe.

In the face of these challenges, too many leaders in the region tried to direct their people’s grievances elsewhere.  The West was blamed as the source of all ills, a half-century after the end of colonialism.  Antagonism toward Israel became the only acceptable outlet for political expression.  Divisions of tribe, ethnicity and religious sect were manipulated as a means of holding on to power, or taking it away from somebody else.

But the events of the past six months show us that strategies of repression and strategies of diversion will not work anymore.  Satellite television and the Internet provide a window into the wider world -– a world of astonishing progress in places like India and Indonesia and Brazil.  Cell phones and social networks allow young people to connect and organize like never before.  And so a new generation has emerged.  And their voices tell us that change cannot be denied.

In Cairo, we heard the voice of the young mother who said, “It’s like I can finally breathe fresh air for the first time.” 

In Sanaa, we heard the students who chanted, “The night must come to an end.”

In Benghazi, we heard the engineer who said, “Our words are free now.  It’s a feeling you can’t explain.”

In Damascus, we heard the young man who said, “After the first yelling, the first shout, you feel dignity.” 

Those shouts of human dignity are being heard across the region.  And through the moral force of nonviolence, the people of the region have achieved more change in six months than terrorists have accomplished in decades.

Of course, change of this magnitude does not come easily.  In our day and age -– a time of 24-hour news cycles and constant communication –- people expect the transformation of the region to be resolved in a matter of weeks.  But it will be years before this story reaches its end.  Along the way, there will be good days and there will bad days.  In some places, change will be swift; in others, gradual.  And as we’ve already seen, calls for change may give way, in some cases, to fierce contests for power.

The question before us is what role America will play as this story unfolds.  For decades, the United States has pursued a set of core interests in the region:  countering terrorism and stopping the spread of nuclear weapons; securing the free flow of commerce and safe-guarding the security of the region; standing up for Israel’s security and pursuing Arab-Israeli peace.

We will continue to do these things, with the firm belief that America’s interests are not hostile to people’s hopes; they’re essential to them.  We believe that no one benefits from a nuclear arms race in the region, or al Qaeda’s brutal attacks.  We believe people everywhere would see their economies crippled by a cut-off in energy supplies.  As we did in the Gulf War, we will not tolerate aggression across borders, and we will keep our commitments to friends and partners.

Yet we must acknowledge that a strategy based solely upon the narrow pursuit of these interests will not fill an empty stomach or allow someone to speak their mind.  Moreover, failure to speak to the broader aspirations of ordinary people will only feed the suspicion that has festered for years that the United States pursues our interests at their expense.  Given that this mistrust runs both ways –- as Americans have been seared by hostage-taking and violent rhetoric and terrorist attacks that have killed thousands of our citizens -– a failure to change our approach threatens a deepening spiral of division between the United States and the Arab world.

And that’s why, two years ago in Cairo, I began to broaden our engagement based upon mutual interests and mutual respect.  I believed then -– and I believe now -– that we have a stake not just in the stability of nations, but in the self-determination of individuals.  The status quo is not sustainable.  Societies held together by fear and repression may offer the illusion of stability for a time, but they are built upon fault lines that will eventually tear asunder.

So we face a historic opportunity.  We have the chance to show that America values the dignity of the street vendor in Tunisia more than the raw power of the dictator.  There must be no doubt that the United States of America welcomes change that advances self-determination and opportunity.  Yes, there will be perils that accompany this moment of promise.  But after decades of accepting the world as it is in the region, we have a chance to pursue the world as it should be.

Of course, as we do, we must proceed with a sense of humility.  It’s not America that put people into the streets of Tunis or Cairo -– it was the people themselves who launched these movements, and it’s the people themselves that must ultimately determine their outcome. 

Not every country will follow our particular form of representative democracy, and there will be times when our short-term interests don’t align perfectly with our long-term vision for the region.  But we can, and we will, speak out for a set of core principles –- principles that have guided our response to the events over the past six months:

The United States opposes the use of violence and repression against the people of the region.  (Applause.)  

The United States supports a set of universal rights.  And these rights include free speech, the freedom of peaceful assembly, the freedom of religion, equality for men and women under the rule of law, and the right to choose your own leaders  -– whether you live in Baghdad or Damascus, Sanaa or Tehran.

And we support political and economic reform in the Middle East and North Africa that can meet the legitimate aspirations of ordinary people throughout the region.

Our support for these principles is not a secondary interest.  Today I want to make it clear that it is a top priority that must be translated into concrete actions, and supported by all of the diplomatic, economic and strategic tools at our disposal.

Let me be specific.  First, it will be the policy of the United States to promote reform across the region, and to support transitions to democracy.  That effort begins in Egypt and Tunisia, where the stakes are high -– as Tunisia was at the vanguard of this democratic wave, and Egypt is both a longstanding partner and the Arab world’s largest nation.  Both nations can set a strong example through free and fair elections, a vibrant civil society, accountable and effective democratic institutions, and responsible regional leadership.  But our support must also extend to nations where transitions have yet to take place.

Unfortunately, in too many countries, calls for change have thus far been answered by violence.  The most extreme example is Libya, where Muammar Qaddafi launched a war against his own people, promising to hunt them down like rats.  As I said when the United States joined an international coalition to intervene, we cannot prevent every injustice perpetrated by a regime against its people, and we have learned from our experience in Iraq just how costly and difficult it is to try to impose regime change by force -– no matter how well-intentioned it may be.

But in Libya, we saw the prospect of imminent massacre, we had a mandate for action, and heard the Libyan people’s call for help.  Had we not acted along with our NATO allies and regional coalition partners, thousands would have been killed.  The message would have been clear:  Keep power by killing as many people as it takes.  Now, time is working against Qaddafi. He does not have control over his country.  The opposition has organized a legitimate and credible Interim Council.  And when Qaddafi inevitably leaves or is forced from power, decades of provocation will come to an end, and the transition to a democratic Libya can proceed.

While Libya has faced violence on the greatest scale, it’s not the only place where leaders have turned to repression to remain in power.  Most recently, the Syrian regime has chosen the path of murder and the mass arrests of its citizens.  The United States has condemned these actions, and working with the international community we have stepped up our sanctions on the Syrian regime –- including sanctions announced yesterday on President Assad and those around him.

The Syrian people have shown their courage in demanding a transition to democracy.  President Assad now has a choice:  He can lead that transition, or get out of the way.  The Syrian government must stop shooting demonstrators and allow peaceful protests.  It must release political prisoners and stop unjust arrests.  It must allow human rights monitors to have access to cities like Dara’a; and start a serious dialogue to advance a democratic transition.  Otherwise, President Assad and his regime will continue to be challenged from within and will continue to be isolated abroad.

So far, Syria has followed its Iranian ally, seeking assistance from Tehran in the tactics of suppression.  And this speaks to the hypocrisy of the Iranian regime, which says it stand for the rights of protesters abroad, yet represses its own people at home.  Let’s remember that the first peaceful protests in the region were in the streets of Tehran, where the government brutalized women and men, and threw innocent people into jail.  We still hear the chants echo from the rooftops of Tehran.  The image of a young woman dying in the streets is still seared in our memory.  And we will continue to insist that the Iranian people deserve their universal rights, and a government that does not smother their aspirations.

Now, our opposition to Iran’s intolerance and Iran’s repressive measures, as well as its illicit nuclear program and its support of terror, is well known.  But if America is to be credible, we must acknowledge that at times our friends in the region have not all reacted to the demands for consistent change — with change that’s consistent with the principles that I’ve outlined today.  That’s true in Yemen, where President Saleh needs to follow through on his commitment to transfer power.  And that’s true today in Bahrain.

Bahrain is a longstanding partner, and we are committed to its security.  We recognize that Iran has tried to take advantage of the turmoil there, and that the Bahraini government has a legitimate interest in the rule of law. 

Nevertheless, we have insisted both publicly and privately that mass arrests and brute force are at odds with the universal rights of Bahrain’s citizens, and we will — and such steps will not make legitimate calls for reform go away.  The only way forward is for the government and opposition to engage in a dialogue, and you can’t have a real dialogue when parts of the peaceful opposition are in jail.  (Applause.)  The government must create the conditions for dialogue, and the opposition must participate to forge a just future for all Bahrainis.

Indeed, one of the broader lessons to be drawn from this period is that sectarian divides need not lead to conflict.  In Iraq, we see the promise of a multiethnic, multisectarian democracy.  The Iraqi people have rejected the perils of political violence in favor of a democratic process, even as they’ve taken full responsibility for their own security.  Of course, like all new democracies, they will face setbacks.  But Iraq is poised to play a key role in the region if it continues its peaceful progress.  And as they do, we will be proud to stand with them as a steadfast partner.

So in the months ahead, America must use all our influence to encourage reform in the region.  Even as we acknowledge that each country is different, we need to speak honestly about the principles that we believe in, with friend and foe alike.  Our message is simple:  If you take the risks that reform entails, you will have the full support of the United States. 

We must also build on our efforts to broaden our engagement beyond elites, so that we reach the people who will shape the future -– particularly young people.  We will continue to make good on the commitments that I made in Cairo -– to build networks of entrepreneurs and expand exchanges in education, to foster cooperation in science and technology, and combat disease.  Across the region, we intend to provide assistance to civil society, including those that may not be officially sanctioned, and who speak uncomfortable truths.  And we will use the technology to connect with -– and listen to –- the voices of the people.

For the fact is, real reform does not come at the ballot box alone.  Through our efforts we must support those basic rights to speak your mind and access information.  We will support open access to the Internet, and the right of journalists to be heard -– whether it’s a big news organization or a lone blogger.  In the 21st century, information is power, the truth cannot be hidden, and the legitimacy of governments will ultimately depend on active and informed citizens.

Such open discourse is important even if what is said does not square with our worldview.  Let me be clear, America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard, even if we disagree with them.  And sometimes we profoundly disagree with them.

We look forward to working with all who embrace genuine and inclusive democracy.  What we will oppose is an attempt by any group to restrict the rights of others, and to hold power through coercion and not consent.  Because democracy depends not only on elections, but also strong and accountable institutions, and the respect for the rights of minorities.

Such tolerance is particularly important when it comes to religion.  In Tahrir Square, we heard Egyptians from all walks of life chant, “Muslims, Christians, we are one.”  America will work to see that this spirit prevails -– that all faiths are respected, and that bridges are built among them.  In a region that was the birthplace of three world religions, intolerance can lead only to suffering and stagnation.  And for this season of change to succeed, Coptic Christians must have the right to worship freely in Cairo, just as Shia must never have their mosques destroyed in Bahrain.

What is true for religious minorities is also true when it comes to the rights of women.  History shows that countries are more prosperous and more peaceful when women are empowered.  And that’s why we will continue to insist that universal rights apply to women as well as men -– by focusing assistance on child and maternal health; by helping women to teach, or start a business; by standing up for the right of women to have their voices heard, and to run for office.  The region will never reach its full potential when more than half of its population is prevented from achieving their full potential.  (Applause.)

Now, even as we promote political reform, even as we promote human rights in the region, our efforts can’t stop there.  So the second way that we must support positive change in the region is through our efforts to advance economic development for nations that are transitioning to democracy. 

After all, politics alone has not put protesters into the streets.  The tipping point for so many people is the more constant concern of putting food on the table and providing for a family.  Too many people in the region wake up with few expectations other than making it through the day, perhaps hoping that their luck will change.  Throughout the region, many young people have a solid education, but closed economies leave them unable to find a job.  Entrepreneurs are brimming with ideas, but corruption leaves them unable to profit from those ideas. 

The greatest untapped resource in the Middle East and North Africa is the talent of its people.  In the recent protests, we see that talent on display, as people harness technology to move the world.  It’s no coincidence that one of the leaders of Tahrir Square was an executive for Google.  That energy now needs to be channeled, in country after country, so that economic growth can solidify the accomplishments of the street.  For just as democratic revolutions can be triggered by a lack of individual opportunity, successful democratic transitions depend upon an expansion of growth and broad-based prosperity.

So, drawing from what we’ve learned around the world, we think it’s important to focus on trade, not just aid; on investment, not just assistance.  The goal must be a model in which protectionism gives way to openness, the reigns of commerce pass from the few to the many, and the economy generates jobs for the young.  America’s support for democracy will therefore be based on ensuring financial stability, promoting reform, and integrating competitive markets with each other and the global economy.  And we’re going to start with Tunisia and Egypt.

First, we’ve asked the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to present a plan at next week’s G8 summit for what needs to be done to stabilize and modernize the economies of Tunisia and Egypt.  Together, we must help them recover from the disruptions of their democratic upheaval, and support the governments that will be elected later this year.  And we are urging other countries to help Egypt and Tunisia meet its near-term financial needs.

Second, we do not want a democratic Egypt to be saddled by the debts of its past.  So we will relieve a democratic Egypt of up to $1 billion in debt, and work with our Egyptian partners to invest these resources to foster growth and entrepreneurship.  We will help Egypt regain access to markets by guaranteeing $1 billion in borrowing that is needed to finance infrastructure and job creation.  And we will help newly democratic governments recover assets that were stolen.

Third, we’re working with Congress to create Enterprise Funds to invest in Tunisia and Egypt.  And these will be modeled on funds that supported the transitions in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall.  OPIC will soon launch a $2 billion facility to support private investment across the region.  And we will work with the allies to refocus the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development so that it provides the same support for democratic transitions and economic modernization in the Middle East and North Africa as it has in Europe.

Fourth, the United States will launch a comprehensive Trade and Investment Partnership Initiative in the Middle East and North Africa.  If you take out oil exports, this entire region of over 400 million people exports roughly the same amount as Switzerland.  So we will work with the EU to facilitate more trade within the region, build on existing agreements to promote integration with U.S. and European markets, and open the door for those countries who adopt high standards of reform and trade liberalization to construct a regional trade arrangement.  And just as EU membership served as an incentive for reform in Europe, so should the vision of a modern and prosperous economy create a powerful force for reform in the Middle East and North Africa.  

Prosperity also requires tearing down walls that stand in the way of progress -– the corruption of elites who steal from their people; the red tape that stops an idea from becoming a business; the patronage that distributes wealth based on tribe or sect.  We will help governments meet international obligations, and invest efforts at anti-corruption — by working with parliamentarians who are developing reforms, and activists who use technology to increase transparency and hold government accountable.  Politics and human rights; economic reform.

Let me conclude by talking about another cornerstone of our approach to the region, and that relates to the pursuit of peace.

For decades, the conflict between Israelis and Arabs has cast a shadow over the region.  For Israelis, it has meant living with the fear that their children could be blown up on a bus or by rockets fired at their homes, as well as the pain of knowing that other children in the region are taught to hate them.  For Palestinians, it has meant suffering the humiliation of occupation, and never living in a nation of their own.  Moreover, this conflict has come with a larger cost to the Middle East, as it impedes partnerships that could bring greater security and prosperity and empowerment to ordinary people.

For over two years, my administration has worked with the parties and the international community to end this conflict, building on decades of work by previous administrations.  Yet expectations have gone unmet.  Israeli settlement activity continues.  Palestinians have walked away from talks.  The world looks at a conflict that has grinded on and on and on, and sees nothing but stalemate.  Indeed, there are those who argue that with all the change and uncertainty in the region, it is simply not possible to move forward now.

I disagree.  At a time when the people of the Middle East and North Africa are casting off the burdens of the past, the drive for a lasting peace that ends the conflict and resolves all claims is more urgent than ever.  That’s certainly true for the two parties involved.

For the Palestinians, efforts to delegitimize Israel will end in failure.  Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won’t create an independent state. Palestinian leaders will not achieve peace or prosperity if Hamas insists on a path of terror and rejection.  And Palestinians will never realize their independence by denying the right of Israel to exist.

As for Israel, our friendship is rooted deeply in a shared history and shared values.  Our commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable.  And we will stand against attempts to single it out for criticism in international forums.  But precisely because of our friendship, it’s important that we tell the truth:  The status quo is unsustainable, and Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace.

The fact is, a growing number of Palestinians live west of the Jordan River.  Technology will make it harder for Israel to defend itself.  A region undergoing profound change will lead to populism in which millions of people -– not just one or two leaders — must believe peace is possible.  The international community is tired of an endless process that never produces an outcome. The dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation.

Now, ultimately, it is up to the Israelis and Palestinians to take action.  No peace can be imposed upon them — not by the United States; not by anybody else.  But endless delay won’t make the problem go away.  What America and the international community can do is to state frankly what everyone knows — a lasting peace will involve two states for two peoples:  Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people, and the state of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people, each state enjoying self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace.
So while the core issues of the conflict must be negotiated, the basis of those negotiations is clear:  a viable Palestine, a secure Israel.  The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine.  We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.  The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their full potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state. 

As for security, every state has the right to self-defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself -– by itself -– against any threat.  Provisions must also be robust enough to prevent a resurgence of terrorism, to stop the infiltration of weapons, and to provide effective border security.  The full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarized state.  And the duration of this transition period must be agreed, and the effectiveness of security arrangements must be demonstrated.

These principles provide a foundation for negotiations.  Palestinians should know the territorial outlines of their state; Israelis should know that their basic security concerns will be met.  I’m aware that these steps alone will not resolve the conflict, because two wrenching and emotional issues will remain:  the future of Jerusalem, and the fate of Palestinian refugees.  But moving forward now on the basis of territory and security provides a foundation to resolve those two issues in a way that is just and fair, and that respects the rights and aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians. 

Now, let me say this:  Recognizing that negotiations need to begin with the issues of territory and security does not mean that it will be easy to come back to the table.  In particular, the recent announcement of an agreement between Fatah and Hamas raises profound and legitimate questions for Israel:  How can one negotiate with a party that has shown itself unwilling to recognize your right to exist?  And in the weeks and months to come, Palestinian leaders will have to provide a credible answer to that question.  Meanwhile, the United States, our Quartet partners, and the Arab states will need to continue every effort to get beyond the current impasse.

I recognize how hard this will be.  Suspicion and hostility has been passed on for generations, and at times it has hardened. But I’m convinced that the majority of Israelis and Palestinians would rather look to the future than be trapped in the past.  We see that spirit in the Israeli father whose son was killed by Hamas, who helped start an organization that brought together Israelis and Palestinians who had lost loved ones.  That father said, “I gradually realized that the only hope for progress was to recognize the face of the conflict.”  We see it in the actions of a Palestinian who lost three daughters to Israeli shells in Gaza.  “I have the right to feel angry,” he said.  “So many people were expecting me to hate.  My answer to them is I shall not hate.  Let us hope,” he said, “for tomorrow.”

That is the choice that must be made -– not simply in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but across the entire region -– a choice between hate and hope; between the shackles of the past and the promise of the future.  It’s a choice that must be made by leaders and by the people, and it’s a choice that will define the future of a region that served as the cradle of civilization and a crucible of strife.

For all the challenges that lie ahead, we see many reasons to be hopeful.  In Egypt, we see it in the efforts of young people who led protests.  In Syria, we see it in the courage of those who brave bullets while chanting, “peaceful, peaceful.”  In Benghazi, a city threatened with destruction, we see it in the courthouse square where people gather to celebrate the freedoms that they had never known.  Across the region, those rights that we take for granted are being claimed with joy by those who are prying lose the grip of an iron fist.

For the American people, the scenes of upheaval in the region may be unsettling, but the forces driving it are not unfamiliar.  Our own nation was founded through a rebellion against an empire.  Our people fought a painful Civil War that extended freedom and dignity to those who were enslaved.  And I would not be standing here today unless past generations turned to the moral force of nonviolence as a way to perfect our union –- organizing, marching, protesting peacefully together to make real those words that declared our nation:  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” 

Those words must guide our response to the change that is transforming the Middle East and North Africa -– words which tell us that repression will fail, and that tyrants will fall, and that every man and woman is endowed with certain inalienable rights. 

It will not be easy.  There’s no straight line to progress, and hardship always accompanies a season of hope.  But the United States of America was founded on the belief that people should govern themselves.  And now we cannot hesitate to stand squarely on the side of those who are reaching for their rights, knowing that their success will bring about a world that is more peaceful, more stable, and more just.

Thank you very much, everybody.  (Applause.)  Thank you. 

END               1:00 P.M. EDT

13-22

Muslim Leadership Summit

May 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, TMO

IMG_0056The tectonic shift of the American Muslim community towards increased activism and strong support for the Democrats was exemplified this month by a visit of Muslim business leaders to congress and the Executive Office Building next to the White House, in an event arranged by first-ever Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison (D-5th-MN).

About 30 leaders from the Muslim community, businessmen, medical professionals and politicians, went to Washington May 11th and 12th, to meet with prominent congressmen including Keith Ellison, Andre Carson (D-7th-IN), and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-8th-CA) and to participate in discussion on foreign policy issues.  Attendees also made significant contributions to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), under whose auspices the meetings were held.

New Jersey businessman Saeed Patel, owner of Amex Computers, said of the event that “Obviously there was a big change this year, because [the Democrats] are not in the majority anymore.”

DCCC trip 051111 052
DCCC Muslim Leadership Summit attendees and speakers including Valerie Jarrett, Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, Rep. Keith Ellison, Saeed Patel, and others.

Some of the prominent invitees were Mr. Patel, the attorney Mazen Asbahi from Chicago, Safir Rabb, Riaz Fakhoury from Ocala FL, SA Ibrahim, Nihad Awad of CAIR, Winston Ibrahim, Kamran Farid, and the mayor of Teaneck New Jersey, Mohammed Hameeduddin, Adnan Durrani, Uzma Iqbal, Hurram Waheed, and Kemal Oksuz were also there.

Rashad Husain, White House representative to the OIC, attended the event and spoke with the Muslim delegation members.

The Muslim delegation represented a broad swath of Muslim ethnicities and regional backgrounds, from Turkish diplomats to American businessmen of Indian origin, to African American interfaith activists and businessmen from around the world.

This was the third annual event of this type, and those in attendance expressed their wish that this annual event should continue and that the Muslim community should increase in political clout.

13-21

Panic from the Houses of Congress and AIPAC?

May 5, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Franklin Lamb

Beirut–On April 13, 2011, more than a dozen Israel “First, last and always” US congressional leaders from both houses of Congress held an urgent conference call organized by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Their purpose was to discuss how best to promote Israel during next month’s US visit by Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu and more importantly how to confront the rapidly changing Middle East political landscape. One consensus was that no one saw it coming and that is was dangerous for Israel.

Among those participating were former Jewish Chairmen of powerful committees including Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who headed the Banking Committee; Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), ex-chairman of the Commerce and Energy committee; Howard Berman (D-Calif.), ex-chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee; and Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), ex-chairwoman of the foreign operations subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee as well as Eric Cantor, House Majority leader, the highest rankling Jewish member of Congress in history.

What AIPAC operatives reportedly told the conferees was that Netanyahu is once again furious with President Obama and outraged by what he sees as a vacillating US Government attitude towards Israeli needs. They were told that the Israeli PM sees real political danger for Israel in the shifting US public opinion in favor of the young sophisticated attractive Arab and Muslims increasingly seen on satellite channels from the region who remind the American public of their own ideals.

Netanyahu, the conferees were told, wants Congress to flex its muscle with the White House and deliver a strong message to President Obama that his political future is tied to Israel’s. Hence the current “America needs Israel more than ever stupid!” campaign wafting from the Israel lobby across the talk radio airwaves.

In addition, as more Israeli officials are indicted for various domestic crimes, and some harbor fears of arrest for international ones, 68% of the American Jewish community, according to one by poll commissioned last month by Forward, believe the US Israel lobby is increasingly fossilized with the likes of ADL (Anti-Defamation League) director Abe Foxman’s vindictive infighting among several of the largest Jewish lobby organizations which continue to lose memberships, especially among the young.

Congressman Eric Cantor lamented that “Israel is badly losing the US College campuses”, despite heavy financial investments the past few years to curb American students growing support for Gaza, Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran, all dreaded symbols of the growing opposition to the 19th Century Zionist colonial enterprise. Support for Palestine is skyrocketing he claimed. “Until Palestine is freed from Zionist occupation no Arab or Muslim is truly free of Western hegemony,” according to one assistant editor of Harvard University’s student newspaper, the Crimson.

Admitting that the Mossad did not foresee even the Tunisian or Egyptian uprisings some Aipac staffers, of whom there are more than 100, admit to not knowing how to react to the topics they were presented with for discussion, some of which included:

• The Egyptian public emphatic insistence that the 1978 Camp David Accords be scrapped and that the Rafah crossing be opened. The latter has just been announced and the former is expected to be achieved before the end of the year.

• The change of regimes and the dramatic rise in publicly expressed anti-Israel sentiment and insistence that Israel close its embassy and Egypt withdraw its recognition of the Zionist state.

• The apparent rapprochement between Fatah and Hamas which has been increasingly demanded by the Palestinians under occupation and in the Diaspora.

• The fact that the new regime in Cairo is seeking to upgrade its ties with Gaza’s Hamas rulers as well as Iran.

• With respect to possible PA-Hamas rapprochement, U.S. National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor is trying to reassure Israel before Netanyahu’s visit by announcing this week that “The United States supports Palestinian reconciliation on terms which promote the cause of peace, but to play a constructive role in achieving peace, any Palestinian government must renounce violence, abide by past agreements, and recognize Israel’s right to exist.”

AIPAC, frequently knocks heads with the Israeli embassy in Washington for control of visiting Israeli PM’s and important governments schedules will control what Netanyahu says and does. AIPAC AIPAC Executive Director Howard Kohr recently told a group of visiting Jewish student activists from California that “sometimes there is confusion in this town over just where the Israeli Embassy is located but let me assure you it’s no more than 300 yards from the Capitol Dome on North Capitol Street, NW.”

AIPAC, not the Israeli Embassy will write the final draft of Netanyahu’s speeches including the themes he will emphasize. According to a Congressional source with AIPAC connections, Netanyahu’s visit will focus on the following:

• Bashing Iran to please the White House. However, this mantra will have to compete with the democratic revolutions that are sweeping the Arab world and which are terrifying not just Netanyahu, but also AIPAC and their hirelings in congress.

• Warning against the dangers to “the peace process” of any PA-Hamas unity government.

• Warnings about the threats to Israel from Egypt and popular calls for scrapping of the 1978 Camp David Accords, ending the Egyptian subsidy and supply of 40% of Israel’s natural gas, calls for closing the Israeli Embassy, the dangers of permanently opening the Rafah border crossing “that will allow Hamas to in the words of, an Israeli official speaking on condition of anonymity to the Washington Post that Gaza’s Hamas rulers had already built up a “dangerous military machine” in northern Sinai which could be further strengthened by opening the border.

• The tried and tested bromide that “Israel has no peace partner to negotiate with will be used but this too has lost its bite given that the Palestine Papers has shown that the PA for five years habitually caved into Israel demands and are widely viewed as collaborators with Israel in preserving the status quo– so what more could be expected  from them? The truth is that Mahmoud Abbas and Salem Fayyad are Netanyahu, Liberman’s and Barak’s favorite “peace partners.”

• Netanyahu will hint at and AIPAC will drill in the idea that the Obama administration has been too hard on Israel.

While Netanyahu announced this week that “I will have the opportunity to air the main parts of Israel’s diplomatic and defense policies during my visit in the United States”, informed sources report that his main goal and timing of his visit is to undermine a rumored initiative that President Obama’s team has been working on.

Netanyahu, according to AIPAC, also plans to attack the UN’s plan to admit Palestine and its offices are preparing a media blitz in an attempt to undermine the U.N. recognition of Palestine by arguing that such a General Assembly action would not in reality mean Palestinian sovereignty over the West Bank and East Jerusalem because of the fact that Israel currently controls those territories. AIPAC is arguing that such United Nations recognition of Palestine would only reiterate the principle, previously articulated by the U.N which denies the legitimacy of Israel’s claim to territories acquired by force in the war of June 1967.

In reality, and as AIPAC well knows, UN recognition of Palestine would have a devastating effect on Israel’s legitimacy and would fuel an international campaign to force every colonist out of the West Bank.

Given the feelings of virtually all people in the Middle East and North Africa toward Israel this could dramatically undermine the apartheid state. AIPAC and Israel’s agents in Congress also ignore the fact that the U.N. is the only the international body that admitted Israel as a member state in May 1949, although the resolution noted a connection between Israel’s recognition and the implementation of resolution 181 of November 1947, which called for partition of what had been British Mandate Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states.

The reason that intense angst and even fear stalks the Houses of Congress and AIPAC is that Netanyahu will remind his hosts in the coming days that Israel has always called “home” is that some US officials are starting to express treasonous thoughts long kept to themselves.

One seemingly shocking statement was made to a visiting Oregon delegation during a recent visit to Congressional offices by a Member of Congress never known for being publicly critical of Israel. As reported via email: “He said recent events suggest that while ( the revolts spreading across the Middle East) are not the immediate end of the State of Israel, he believes they are harbingers and signal the `beginning of the end of the State of Israel as we have known it. And that will be good for America and humanity.”

“What seems to have particularly upset him was his own mentioning to the group was a recent report about a conference of Rabbis in Israel who are demanding the expulsion of non-Jews, especially Palestinians, from occupied Palestine in order to maintain the “ethnical and religious purity of the peoples of Israel.

He quoted Dov Lior, the rabbi of Kiryat Araba, an illegal settlement near Hebron, who according to media reports told a conference organized to discuss how to get non-Jews in mandatory Palestine to leave the country for the sake of Jewish immigrants who had no roots in Palestine: “Today there is a lot of land in Saudi Arabia and in Libya, too. There is a lot of land in other places. Send them there.” As scholar Khalid Amayreh reminds us, it was Lior, who in 1994 praised arch-terrorist Baruch Goldstein for massacring 29 Arab worshipers at the Ibrahimi Mosque in downtown Hebron, said peace in the Holy Land was out of question because the Arabs wouldn’t allow Jews to usurp the land.

Meanwhile, a large coalition of pro peace and pro-Palestinian organizations, under the umbrella of http://www.moveoveraipac.org/ is preparing a new and different American reception for the Israeli Prime Minister.

13-19

IFLC Responds to Threat to Religious Harmony

April 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

IFLC Press Release

The Interfaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit  (IFLC) has launched a petition drive in response to a potential threat to religious harmony rumored for our region later this month.

An extremist group has announced plans to demonstrate in Dearborn on April 22.

“We are asking people to sign on to ‘A Simple Affirmation for our Community’ as a way to indicate their rejection of fear-mongering and intolerance,” according to Rev. Daniel Buttry, a minister with the American Baptist Churches and a board member of the Interfaith Leadership Council.

The text of the petition reads:

We, as caring neighbors in southeastern Michigan, stand together in condemning the actions of those who spew hate and fear, and who misuse and desecrate holy books of faith.  Instead we call on people to carry out the best traditions of all religious faiths, embodied in the idea of doing to others as we would have them do to us.

In the spirit of cooperation and harmony, the essential basis of this great country, we affirm our support for religious freedom and civil discourse.  We stand together strong in our vision of the beloved community where all are respected and treasured.

The petition is being circulated among religious congregations throughout the metropolitan area and also is available at change.org.

“Our goal is two-fold,” Buttry said.  “We want to give folks the chance to express their own support for the idea of harmony and peace among all people in our region, and we also want to demonstrate to the rest of the world that there are thousands of people in our region who reject hate and support conciliation.”

The Interfaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit is a civic organization comprised of religious and lay leaders of many faiths “who work together to build a community of good will.”

http://www.detroitinterfaithcouncil.com/welcome/2011/4/9/iflc-launches-a-simple-affirmation-for-our-community.html

The InterFaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit is made up of independent, visionary clerical and lay leaders of many faiths whose shared values and desire to build a just community where we live in harmony with one another compels us to be dedicated to the support of interfaith community organizing.

We fully respect our religious differences while building a unified, but not uniform community, where we work together on our shared interests and values.

In short, we bring people of faith together so that we can live together. We have much to do, and are looking forward to working with you to build the beloved community.

Sincerely,

Robert A. Bruttell, Board Chair, InterFaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit.

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Breaking the Chains of Labor

March 4, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan – MMNS Middle East Correspondent

DUBAI_WORKERS_(409_x_279) They say it takes a village to raise a child and, at least in the Middle East, that sentiment is taken quite literally. For decades, the wealthy denizens of the oil-drenched Gulf region have relied heavily upon an army of laborers numbering in the millions to help raise their families. Most of the laborers hail from the poorest nations of Southeast Asia, like India and Sri Lanka. They fulfill jobs that no one else wants to or seem beneath the wealthy elite class. Some serve as housemaids, nannies, cooks, gardeners and chauffeurs. Others have managed to crash through the ‘domestic servitude’ ceiling and work both in the private sector and public sectors as janitors, office boys and the like.

For many of the poor laborers, the jobs that they are contracted to do in the Gulf region are the only means of financial support for their families back in their homelands. And the support is often meager as the salary contracts are rarely enforced. The actual salary they receive is, typically, at least 60% lower than the original salary that was contractually agreed upon. Not only are the laborers exploited financially, but they are also often abused, both verbally and physically. Regardless of the drawbacks, the quality of life in the Gulf is a lot better than that in their poor homelands.

However, the result of the dependence upon such a huge force of laborers for so many years has come at a hefty price. There simply are not enough jobs for Gulf nationals. Well-educated and trained Gulf citizens are left redundant in most cases, as there are not enough of the highly coveted government jobs, with perks like obscenely high salaries and extra holidays, to go around. For this reason, many Gulf countries have little choice but to take drastic measures to release its dependence on a largely foreign workforce in order to free up jobs for their own people.

One such country is the State of Kuwait, who this week announced that the Kuwaiti government is initiating plans to replace its estimated 600,000 strong foreign workforce, in various sectors, at a rate of 10% per annum. The government also plans to ban hiring foreign workers, with the exception of those who are highly skilled, and will begin purging existing workers right back to their homelands.

The rationale behind the Kuwaiti government’s move is to cut spending and open new employment opportunities for eager Kuwaiti workers. According to a recently conducted study by the Kuwait Parliament, there are an estimated 60,000 foreign-held jobs today that could be handed over to Kuwaitis tomorrow.  The decision is also a preemptive strike to secure Kuwait’s borders as foreigners out number Kuwaitis 3 to 1. Other Gulf countries have already taken initiatives to break the chains of reliance upon a foreign workforce.

Further governmental plans include specialized training courses for Kuwait citizens so that they can step right into a skilled job previously held by a foreign laborer. And the government will also pay special attention to the Kuwait youth, which makes up a whopping 50% of the Kuwaiti population. Ignoring this segment of the future Kuwaiti workforce would be fatal as the next generation has the potential of meeting all of the employment needs of the country.

The impact of Gulf states sending much of their foreign workforce packing will have far reaching effects, most notably with the foreign laborers themselves. Once back in their homelands, there is little guarantee that they will be able to earn a quality living, as unemployment is usually high and community programming to help the poor is sparse. Being forced ‘out to pasture’ before their time is like a cold hard slap in the face for a foreign workforce that has helped build the Gulf region up to global contender that it is today.

12-10

A New Kind of IT Advice

February 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

This is the shape of things to come…

Recently I came across a young man who had just got married. When I asked him how he is getting along with his bride, he replied “ She is alright but she is not very user friendly”. Read on:

INSTALLING HUSBAND?

A woman writes to the IT Technical support Guy

Dear Tech Support,

Last year I upgraded from Boyfriend 5.0 to Husband 1.0 and I noticed a distinct slowdown in the overall system performance, particularly in the flower and jewellery applications, which operated flawlessly under Boyfriend 5.0.

In addition, Husband 1.0 uninstalled many other valuable programs, such as Romance 9.5 and Personal Attention 6.5, and then installed undesirable programs such as  NEWS 5.0,   MONEY 3.0  and SOCCER 4.1 .

Conversation 8.0 no longer runs, and House cleaning 2.6 simply crashes the system.

Please note that I have tried running Nagging 5..3 to fix these problems, but to no avail.

What can I do?

Signed,

DEAR  Madam,

First, keep in mind, Boyfriend 5.0 is an Entertainment Package, while Husband 1.0 is an operating system.

Please enter command: ithoughtyoulovedme. html and try to download Tears 6.2 and do not forget to install the Guilt 3.0 update.

If that application works as designed, Husband1.0 should then automatically run the applications Jewelry 2.0 and Flowers 3.5..

However, remember, overuse of the above application can cause Husband 1.0 to default to Silence 2.5.

Whatever you do, DO NOT under any circumstances install Mother-In-Law 1.0 (it runs a virus in the background that will eventually seize control of all your system resources.)

In addition, please do not attempt to reinstall the Boyfriend 5.0 program. These are unsupported applications and will crash Husband 1.0.

In summary, Husband 1.0 is a great program, but it does have limited memory and cannot learn new applications quickly.

You might consider buying additional software to improve memory and performance.

We recommend:  Cooking 3.0 and  Hot Looks 7.7.

Good Luck Madam!

IT SUPPORT DESK

12-9

Rep. Conyers: Investigate Luqman Shooting

February 4, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Al-Hajj Imam Abdullah El-Amin, MMNS

Large interfaith, intercultural outpouring of support for Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah

imam-luqman2 Now that the Wayne County Medical Examiner has released the autopsy report of slain Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah, the outrage and questions are growing by leaps and bounds in the community.

The manner in which the imam was set up and killed by federal officers has outraged and been questioned by the Mayor Dave Bing of Detroit, countless business and community leaders, and now, the powerful chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary committee, John Conyers.  Congressman Conyers called a press conference in Detroit and demanded a full Federal investigation of the facts surrounding what many call the “execution” of Imam Luqman Abdullah by FBI agents.

As we remember, this newspaper was the first to report on the excessive force and questionable motives of the government security forces that pumped at least 21 bullets into the body of the imam.  The Muslim Observer was also the first to point out the total disrespect and denigration shown to human being Imam Abdullah by giving a dog more care and attention than a human being.

The autopsy report showed that Imam Luqman was not only shot at least 21 times, his hands were also handcuffed behind his back as he lay prone face down in a trailer truck.  At the same time the police dog, named freddy, was airlifted to an emergency veterinarian hospital in an attempt to save his life.  Traffic was blocked off in both directions as the helicopter landed in the middle of busy 12 mile road in a futile attempt to save the dog.

FBI agents reported they opened fire on Imam Abdullah because he allegedly shot the dog, who is considered a federal agent; and they must shoot to kill anytime one of their officers is attacked.  This is ludicrous.     Dogs do not possess a mind.  The oath FBI agents take seems to exclude dogs.  The oath is as follows:  “I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter.  So help me God.”

Now we all know a dog is not capable of consciously agreeing to such an agreement so using such a flimsy excuse to fill a man full of bullet holes is, at best, barbaric and devilish.

Congressman Conyers’ concern took another important turn when he wondered aloud why the FBI spent so much time and resources to build a case that obviously, at best, was entrapped petty crime.  It was revealed that the suspects did not commit larceny, nor did they conspire to.  They were brought “stolen items” that were supplied by the FBI and even paid with FBI money.  The FBI also controlled the warehouse that held these “stolen goods” and was the scene of the set-up killing of the imam.

So why did the government want Imam Abdullah dead?  Or was it the government or merely some gung-ho trigger-happy cowboys who wanted to get target practice?  This is the big question.  Congressman Conyers has asked Attorney General Holder to open a full investigation and it has already started.  This is very significant because Congressman Conyers, as Chairman of the powerful Judiciary Committee, will chair any proceedings brought before the House – and that includes the Attorney General if necessary.

One big positive result of this whole scenario is the outpouring of love and support from the non-Muslim community.  There were representatives there from Quakers, National Action Network, ACLU, Michigan Coalition for Human Rights.  Congressman Conyers was also joined by Michigan State Representative Bettie Cook-Scott who also heads the Judiciary committee of the Michigan Legislature.  The entire proceeding was brought together by another non-Muslim.  Mr. Ron Scott, leader of the Coalition Against Police Brutality, worked tirelessly getting sufficient support to keep the light on the case.  ALLAH says in the Qur’an that the Christians are closer to you than any other group.  This case is a sign that if we believe in ourselves and do the right thing, ALLAH will send help to us and they will be more assertive for our cause than we are.  I didn’t see as much Muslim support and outrage as I saw Christian.  One Christian lady stood and said “this is about justice for a human being.  It has nothing to do with what religious faith he belonged to.”

We are also blessed to have the tireless efforts of CAIR-Michigan executive director, Dawud Waild.  This brother has the uncanny ability to work with other members of the society and bring positive results to fruition.  It is good to have confidence in a brother that we believe has done his homework and will not sell us out.

Never in our wildest dreams did we (and possibly the FBI’s as well) think the imams’ homicide would open up such a big inquiry into questionable dealings by our law enforcement department.  ALLAH allows things to happen for His own purposes and those who reflect can be blessed to understand His purpose.

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