Officials in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine have placed a two-child limit for Muslim Rohingya couples in a gross violation of fundamental human rights and amid accusations of ethnic cleansing against the community.
Local authorities said on Saturday that the new measure will be exercised in the townships of Buthidaung and Maundaw, where about 95 percent of the population are Muslim.
Rakhine state spokesman, Win Myaing, said the measure was enacted a week ago, and was meant to stem population growth in the Muslim community.
Human rights groups say the policy makes Myanmar the only country in the world to impose such a restriction on a religious group.
They also warn that the new move will serve to fan the flames of sectarian violence in Myanmar.
Human Rights Watch has accused Rakhine authorities of fomenting an organized campaign of “ethnic cleansing” against the Rohingya Muslims.
Thousands of Rohingyas are deprived of citizenship rights due to the policy of discrimination that has denied them the right of citizenship and made them vulnerable to acts of violence and persecution, expulsion, and displacement.
The Myanmar government has so far refused to extricate the stateless Rohingyas in Rakhine state from their citizenship limbo, despite international pressure to give them a legal status.
The extremists frequently attack Rohingyas and have set fire to their homes in several villages in Rakhine. Myanmar Army forces allegedly provided the fanatics containers of petrol for torching the houses of Muslim villagers, who are then forced to flee.
Hundreds of Rohingyas are believed to have been killed and thousands displaced in recent attacks by extremists, who call themselves Buddhists.
Rohingyas are said to be Muslim descendants of Persian, Turkish, Bengali, and Pathan origin, who migrated to Myanmar as early as the 8th century.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage
The UK Independence Party has gone from being a joke in the British political landscape to the fourth – or even third – best-supported party after their gains in the recent local elections, where they won a quarter of seats they had sent out a candidate to seize.
Here is a review on the newly-emerging far-right party, which has been repeatedly accused of racism, anti-Islamic bias and lobbying in favor of the Zionists in the British establishments and internationally.
UKIP has been a pro-Israeli regime propagandist and has been lobbying for an end to what it claims to be a despicable anti-Semitism in European history.
The party considers the regime as a victim versus the Palestinian and Middle Eastern resistance movements and considers the Israeli regime’s frequent aggressions against Palestinian civilians in line with Tel Aviv’s right to defend itself.
The party also frowns on the idea of punishing the regime through sanctions or cancellation of trade ties for disproportionate use of force against Palestinians and war crimes in the Gaza Strip, including the 2008 Gaza War in which the regime massacred over 1,000 Palestinians.
The party has also claimed that “Israel has maintained an impeccable human rights record” and has set up a “Friends of Israel” fan club in a bid to secure “true friendship” with Tel Aviv.
This is while, the party’s secretary Michael Zuckerman has boasted of “tremendous support for Israel within UKIP”.
In return for its efforts, UKIP leader Nigel Farage has earned the title of “a good friend of Israel” from Zionist media.
On the other hand, UKIP is understandably an outspoken enemy of Iran, against which it is prepared to use “military means”, and its Commons Norwich North once candidate Glen Tingle has said Britain “should blow them [Iran] up”.
UKIP European Parliament member Gerard Batten has also leveled accusations of terrorism and non-civilian nuclear work against Iran, labeling the country as “barbaric, pro-terrorist and anti-Semitic”.
UKIP has also pledged to provide strategic military support to any party that enters a conflict with Iran over its nuclear program, if the party comes to lead the British government.
This is while, Farage almost u-turned on that attitude in an interview in October 2012 saying Britain needs to sit down and talk with Iran over its nuclear program.
Farage has criticized the Iraq war, because of the waste of money and British soldiers’ lives to destabilize a Middle Eastern country, and also, because the invasion served Iran by removing Iraq’s former dictator Saddam, who had fought an imposed war against Iran between 1980 and 1988.
In the same interview on Iran, he also went on to describe the military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq as achieving absolutely “nothing”.
UKIP has been probably most notorious in its Islamophobic attitudes.
Back in May 2012, a candidate for UKIP compared Islam’s holy book Qur’an to Adolf Hitler’s political manifesto Mein Kampf, saying Muslims are “Fascist”.
This comes as Fascism has been the word used by UKIP opponents to describe its political creed especially after UKIP parliament candidate Steve Moxon embraced Norwegian mass-murderer Andres Breivik as a sensible and “convincing” anti-Islam “scholar”.
Meanwhile, UKIP’s former leader Lord Pearson notoriously invited Dutch MP Geert Wilders to the House of Lords to show his sacrilegious anti-Islam film to the British peers while the party’s 2011 candidate for Leicester South parliamentary by-election, Abhijit Pandya, once labeled Islam as “morally flawed and degenerate”.
Farage, himself, was one of the lead campaigners in 2010 for imposing a ban on the Islamic veil, known as burqa, also dismissing the application of Islamic Sharia Law in British major cities as “most certainly … not desirable”, though he has recently tried to distance himself from such comments, considering future expediency.
While the UKIP’s direct attacks on Islam have decreased recently in a bid to appeal to more British voters, the party’s continued Islamophobic approach was exposed by the militant English Defense League back in April after the EDL revealed on Facebook that they enjoy a mutual stance with UKIP on hatred of Islam.
EDL leader Tommy Robinson also explicitly said in an interview on April 4 that he supports UKIP and would vote for them, laying bare UKIP’s true anti-Islam nature.
And finally on Falklands, there is nothing to choose between UKIP and other major British political parties as they welcomed the result of the recent Falklands Islands referendum, with deputy party leader Paul Nuttal saying it led to a “resounding” result that “should surely put an end to Argentina’s frankly arrogant and unfounded claims” over the South Pacific territory.
As documented by the Associated Press and other journalists, the NYPD has built a program dedicated to the total surveillance of Muslims in the greater New York City era.
Officers have routinely monitored restaurants, bookstores and mosques and created detailed records of innocent conversations they’ve both had with individuals and eavesdropped on.
The NYPD has also sent paid infiltrators into mosques, student associations and beyond to take photos, write down license plate numbers and keep notes on people for no reason other than because they are Muslim.
Partnering civil rights attorneys filed papers in federal court seeking to stop the NYPD from creating dossiers on innocent Muslim New Yorkers and end the Police Department’s ability to initiate investigations into Muslim New Yorkers when there is no belief that they have engaged or are about to engage in unlawful activity or an act of terrorism.
The filing is part of the Handschu v. Special Services Division proceeding, a decades-old federal case that has produced a series of court orders regulating NYPD surveillance of political and religious activity.
- New York Muslims protest police surveillance (alethonews.wordpress.com)
New York Times columnist Tom Friedman doesn’t understand how on earth the Boston bombers could rationalize their act of violence–and believes that some aspects of Muslim culture must answer for it.
According to reports of the interrogation of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the brothers were motivated in part by the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And this has the Times columnist scratching his head about the problem with Muslims:
This is a popular meme among radical Muslim groups, and, to be sure, some Muslim youths were deeply angered by the U.S. interventions in the Middle East. The brothers Tsarnaev may have been among them.
But what in God’s name does that have to do with planting a bomb at the Boston Marathon and blowing up innocent people? It is amazing to me how we’ve come to accept this non sequitur and how easily we’ve allowed radical Muslim groups and their apologists to get away with it.
A simple question: If you were upset with U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, why didn’t you go out and build a school in Afghanistan to strengthen that community or get an advanced degree to strengthen yourself or become a math teacher in the Muslim world to help its people be less vulnerable to foreign powers? Dzhokhar claims the Tsarnaev brothers were so upset by something America did in a third country that they just had to go to Boylston Street and blow up people who had nothing to do with it (some of whom could have been Muslims), and too often we just nod our heads rather than asking: What kind of sick madness is this?
Friedman goes on to claim that we “must ask a question only Muslims can answer,” which is: “What is going on in your community that a critical number of your youth believes that every American military action in the Middle East is intolerable and justifies a violent response?”
It is worth asking questions about how different communities or societies react to violence. After the 9/11 attacks, the United States bombed and occupied Afghanistan, based on the argument that the government of that country had tolerated the presence of Al-Qaeda and thus must bear the retribution. As a result, many thousands of people who had nothing to do with terrorism were killed.
Or on to the invasion of Iraq, which was sold as part of a “Global War on Terror” following the 9/11 attacks as well, even though there was never a connection between Iraq and the terrorist attacks. So why did the United States invade Iraq? Tom Friedman explained it to Charlie Rose on May 30, 2003.
To Friedman, there was a “terrorist bubble” in that part of the world, and “we needed to go over there and take out a very big stick…and there was only one way to do it.” He added:
What they needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house, from Basra to Baghdad, and basically saying: “Which part of this sentence don’t you understand? You don’t think, you know, we care about our open society, you think this bubble fantasy, we’re just gonna to let it grow? Well, Suck. On. This.” That, Charlie, is what this war is about. We could have hit Saudi Arabia; it was part of that bubble. Could have hit Pakistan. We hit Iraq because we could.
What kind of sick madness is this?
I want to start out this piece by making a couple of things clear about my beliefs. I do not suggest for a millisecond that readers should care; there’s nothing more nauseating than a person who trumpets their personal beliefs at any given opportunity. (Sadly in the case of many atheists, this is often done in the pursuit of smugly asserting one’s perceived intellectual superiority).
I will try to keep this braindump coherent; do bear with me.
I am an atheist. I was not raised in a religious household. I am a firm believer in the theory of evolution – which I see as a readily observable and beautiful fact and no mere theory. I find the idea of creationism quite silly in the face of an overwhelming abundance of evidence for evolution. I hold dear the ideals of intellectual freedom and critical thought, and I staunchly oppose all forms of dogma.
Moving swiftly on, do I think ‘Islamist extremism’ exists? Of course I do.
But now I come to the meat of the matter. And this is where Richard Dawkins and his army of blindly loyal followers will scoff, spit and curse like a seventeenth century congregation that’s just been thrown a copy of The God Delusion.
The ‘New Atheism’: a Vehicle for Dogma & Herd Mentality
Atheism has become a vehicle for the very thing it claims to oppose: dogma. Buoyed by a rising tidal wave of knee-jerk bigotry, atheism is instilling a rigid dogma in its followers. This army of self-professed ‘critical thinkers’ has now disposed of critical thought, and has instead taken up a campaign of hero worship, ultimately spreading a pernicious and baseless dogma in the form of the War on Terror. Allow me to explain.
Richard Dawkins – one of New Atheism’s High Priests – attacks Islam on a regular basis, saying things like (on Twitter), “Of course you can have an opinion about Islam without having read Qur’an. You don’t have to read Mein Kampf to have an opinion about nazism.”.
Dawkins commands ‘decent’, moderate Muslims to come out and condemn stoning (a practice that is admittedly barbaric and indefensible on any level).
Such frequent rabble rousing against Muslim nations and cultures (while ignoring far greater human rights abuses carried out by ‘enlightened’ Western nations) constitutes a trend amongst atheists, even amongst ex-Muslims who are eagerly touted and re-tweeted by Dawkins and his over 600,000 Twitter followers.
Am I saying that we should not criticise Islam or any other religious beliefs? No, absolutely not.
But, there is a deeper significance to this that, as ‘critical thinkers’, atheists (Dawkins included) have failed to grasp in a spectacular display of irony.
The Religion of 9/11 & The War On Terror – A Monstrous Fraud Disproved by Science
Allow me to point out before I continue: ‘Muslim’ terrorists and extremists exist. They behead those they see as ‘infidels’. They mercilessly slaughter women and children in their pursuit of misguided ‘jihad’.
And they do this with the active and tacit support of every single Western nation that so loudly decries ‘Islamist terrorism’. For a recent example, please refer to the 2011 decimation of Libya and the ongoing war on Syria, both orchestrated on the ground by hordes of brainwashed and misguided ‘jihadis’ wielding NATO rifles in their left hands, and Qatari paycheques in their right.
If ones traces further back in time, one will see that the mercenary army often referred to as ‘al Qaeda’, was created by the USA as a proxy force, which was used to fight the Russians in Afghanistan throughout the 1980s – precisely as they are being used today in Libya and Syria.
But I digress.
Aside from ‘al Qaeda’ being a proxy army that is literally airlifted on demand to wherever NATO requires manpower, it is also used as an instrument of fear. The notion that these braindead savages are in any way a threat to Western nations, is laughable.
I hear your internal dialogue: “But what about 9/11? What about the London bombings of 2005?”
Well, the very kernel of the ‘Muslim terrorist’ meme is the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. One of Dawkins’ favourite quips is “Science flies you to the moon, religion flies you into buildings”.
The ‘official narrative’ of 9/11 however, which has formed the basis for the global ‘War on Terror’, is an out and out lie, nothing more than a political dogma.
More than a decade on, any thinking person worth his salt has begun to ask questions about the events of 9/11. As a learned scientist of global repute, it is surprising that Richard Dawkins apparently has such an elementary grasp of physics. Most secondary school students can figure out that steel cannot be melted to a liquid by jet fuel. A 110-storey steel-framed skyscraper cannot explode entirely into dust, roof to street, in a matter of seconds due to airplane impact, fire, or both. Perhaps Dawkins can get a physics lesson from the over 1,700 architects, scientists, and structural engineering professionals who are asking these questions, to be met with silence:
It may seem insignificant to talk about the manner in which the World Trade Center was destroyed. Bearing this in mind however, if you do employ the scientific method and a dose of critical thought, then you will eventually see that this fundamental problem with the 9/11 account actually precludes the possibility of any of the central tenets of the 9/11 dogma being true. Bearing this in mind, along with the bewildering number of other inconsistencies and lies surrounding the 9/11 attacks, it becomes clear that 9/11 was, in military intelligence speak, a ‘false flag’ operation.
Of course at this stage, believers of the 9/11 religion will sneer and laugh at this heretic ‘conspiracy theory’. Well if you’ve made it this far, I ask you to employ your critical thinking faculties and question your faith in the 9/11 religion that has been thrust upon us all. Apply the scientific method in order to fill the hundreds of fundamental holes in the official story of 9/11. I will not attempt to explain the 9/11 false flag on this page, but the following articles make a start.
9/11 ten years on: there are no excuses for buying the myth:
September 11, 2001: Zionist shock therapy and the birth of the lie:
There is a mountainous wealth of information and evidence, accessible online, that will answer your objective, honest, and scientific questions relating to 9/11, as well as the 7/7 London false flag.
Conclusion: Atheists, put your money where your mouth is – drop ALL dogma and don’t be a weapon of war
What we need to realise as thinking people is this: the ‘Muslim terrorist’ meme serves a deeply nefarious purpose in our mass media and popular culture. Through the fraud of the War on Terror – which subsists on the omnipresent ‘Muslim terrorist’ meme – at least four nations have been attacked and well over 1 million people have been killed. The numbers maimed, orphaned, displaced, and otherwise consigned to a life of perpetual misery completely dwarf this very conservative estimate.
Yes ‘Muslim’ terrorists and extremists exist, but it is wrong to characterise a miniscule minority as being representative of the wider group.
And let us be honest: there are far more non-Muslim terrorists than Muslim ones, and the piles of skeletons in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria attest to this.
As free people we should be free to discuss anything we like in an open forum, including criticising any religious beliefs. People should be free to criticise any and all ideas and beliefs, including Islam, but this should be done in a principled and well-researched manner that does not feed into destructive, warmongering, and false dogma.
And how absurd is it for a person to stand on a soapbox, bashing Islam because of its followers’ supposed moral failings, while diligently spreading a far more deadly and dangerous dogma that has directly resulted in the death and misery of millions? I call for all decent atheists to put their money where their mouth is and reject ALL dogma, and this includes the naked lie of 9/11.
If a central tenet of atheism is resisting dogma and employing critical thought, then by measure of its adherents, New Atheism is failing pitifully.
P.S. It is incredibly telling that the anti-stoning petition posted by Richard Dawkins on his Twitter feed, comes from Avaaz – an empire propaganda mill that seeks to demonise Muslim nations in order to make anti-Muslim wars of aggression more palatable.
In April 2012, Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT), a Zionist organization headed by Charles Jacobs, began a smear campaign against Muslim students, the staff of Spiritual Life Center, and some faculty at Northeastern University.
The APT posted three videos on the internet accusing Muslims students at Northeastern University of advocating ‘Islamic extremism’ and concocting charges of anti-Semitism against several members of the faculty and staff of the Spiritual Life Center at Northeastern University. I was one of the principal targets of these smears. After launching the videos, the APT has used a variety of tactics to bring pressure on Northeastern University to ‘punish’ the faculty it had targeted in one of its smear videos.
When this campaign persisted I decided to write a letter to the President of Northeastern in November 2012 providing some background to APT’s smear campaign. At the time I had no intention of circulating this letter more widely. However, since APT has persisted in its defamatory campaign against me, I think it proper to publish this letter to set the record straight. Here is the text of the letter (partly revised) that I sent to President Aoun of Northeastern University.
* * *
It has come to my notice that Mr. Charles Jacobs – head of Americans for Peace and Tolerance – has been circulating letters among NU faculty and administration that make baseless and defamatory charges against me. I am concerned about the damage to my reputation and to the reputation of the university from these charges, which is why I am writing to you. In this letter I briefly outline the main charges, and provide you with my key points to refute them.
First, I would like to present some information on the source of the charges, why they are aimed not only at me but at other faculty at NU, and why they are likely to have broader impact beyond just an attack on myself. Mr. Charles Jacobs has been engaging in sustained attacks for several years to silence critics of Israeli human rights violations. He is the co-founder of the David Project, an organization established in 2002 with the specific purpose of silencing critics of Israel. In 2004, the David Project produced Columbia Unbecoming, a documentary that spearheaded a smear campaign against several Arab-American professors, including two very prominent academics at Columbia University. In 2012, he began a campaign directed against Northeastern University, producing a series of videos smearing faculty, staff and students at NU.
Second, I want to set out a few specifics about the three videos produced by APT to smear Northeastern University, several of its faculty, its Muslim students and the staff of Spiritual Life Center. One of these videos, Anti-Semitic Education at Northeastern, directs its smears – amongst others – against Professor Denis Sullivan and myself. In addition, following the release of this video, Mr. Jacobs began sending letters to NU faculty, making false statements about me that he claims are caught on video. In one of his letters to NU faculty, Mr. Jacobs makes the claim: “[Alam] Caught on video urging students to be proud anti-Semites.” In another letter, he claims: “Prof. Alam tells students it’s alright to be called anti-Semitic because it shows they’re on the right side of history.” These charges are simply untrue, and I categorically deny them. They are not supported even by the doctored video clips from a talk I gave at Northeastern University. It is worth noting that my talk was videotaped surreptitiously, without my knowledge or consent.
I would like to set the record straight about the source of the clips on me in the video produced by APT. At the end of a talk I gave last spring at an event organized by Students for Justice in Palestine at NU, a student complained that their advocacy of Palestinian rights often invites slurs of anti-Semitism. She asked, “How should the pro-Palestinian activists respond to these smears?” I responded: If someone smears you as anti-Semitic because of your advocacy of Palestinian rights you should ignore your accusers. I urged the student to disregard such attempts at intimidation, stating that if their accusers persist in these smear tactics, at some point in time those who are falsely accused might wear these smears as a mark of distinction; as a mark of distinction – because this would signify that they have been smeared for supporting a just and honorable cause, the human rights of the long-suffering Palestinians. My remarks were cut and distorted for purposes of the slanderous video.
There are other issues likely being raised by the letters Mr. Jacobs is emailing to some faculty at Northeastern, but I am confident that I can refute every one of them, and shall do so if the need arises. Unfortunately, Mr. Jacobs is not working alone on this campaign. Among others, he has help in his smear campaign from several other organizations, including Campus Watch, headed by Daniel Pipes, Center for Islamic Pluralism, headed by Stephen Schwartz, and Freedom Center, headed by David Horowitz. All of them illustrious organizations headed by men of impeccable reputations as truth-tellers.
Over the 25 years that I have taught at Northeastern I have made a few modest contributions in the fields of economics, politics, history, religious studies, and poetry; launched three new courses on capitalism, the history of the global economy and the economic history of the Middle East; taught four classes every year nearly all of which were filled to capacity; and mentored many students. During this quarter century of teaching courses that critically analyzed many of the assumptions of the social sciences, not one of my students has gone to any of my colleagues or official at Northeastern to complain of bias against any ethnic group or nationality in my classes.
On the contrary, my students can attest that I place the study and critique of biases – whether Orientalist, Eurocentric, racist, nationalist, religious, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, sexist, jingoist or ethnic – at the center of my approach to the study of the social sciences. I begin every one of my courses with readings, videos and lectures that seek to create an awareness of overt and covert biases in the social science texts, in our public discourse as well as our private conversations. I tell my students that recognition of our biases is the first and necessary step towards pushing back against the same in our own thinking.
In order to help my students in these explorations, I tell them stories from the wisdom traditions of Islam, the West, India and China, I recite to them poems – from Rumi, Shakespeare, Whitman, and contemporary American poets. I show them videos on biases in our perceptions, and I read to them from some of the Founding Fathers and Abraham Lincoln. It is therefore ironic that accusations of anti-Semitic bias should be hurled against me. It is doubly ironic that such accusations should come from individuals who have never taken my classes or engaged me in discussions; and this speaks pointedly to the falsity of their accusations.
At the end, I must confess that as I write this letter I cannot avoid feeling diminished by the need to defend my reputation against outrageous smears by people who have made lucrative careers out of hate-mongering and Islamophobia. A scholar’s life is an open book: you can examine his ideas in his books, articles, essays, and speeches. My work too should speak for itself.
I am available to meet with you at your convenience should you wish to discuss the matter further.
M. Shahid Alam is professor of economics at Northeastern University; he is also the faculty advisor to Students for Justice in Palestine on the campus. He is an economist, essayist, translator and poet. His most recent book, Israeli Exceptionalism, was published in 2007 by Palgrave
A new report by a coalition of Muslims has shed further light on the NYPD’s controversial surveillance program of the Muslim community, which they say generates widespread fear and has a “chilling effect” on their lives.
The New York Police Department has been found to spy on Muslims in mosques, restaurants, halal shops, cafes, hookah bars and other public places and has long outraged potential victims of the surveillance. Whether praying, conversing with friends, or walking down the street, the NYPD deploys cops that are always watching.
The surveillance “has stifled speech, communal life and religious practice and criminalized a broad segment of American Muslims,” Nermeen Arastu, fund attorney for the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, told the Wall Street Journal.
The new report, compiled by the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition and its partners, specifically outlines the effect of the NYPD’s intimidation on New York City Muslims. As a result of sending spies throughout the city, some Muslims have stopped trusting anyone, fearful that something they say or do could land them in prison.
“Undercover Pakistani officers were sent into Pakistani communities and Arab-speaking officers were dispatched into the Egyptian community to ‘listen to neighborhood gossip’, and get an overall ‘feel for the community,’ ” the report says “They were instructed to visit schools and interact with business owners and patrons to ‘gauge sentiment.’”
By participating in school field trips and local cricket matches, undercover cops have crept into the personal lives of American Muslims, searching for any sign of illegal or terrorist intentions. The report, titled “Mapping Muslims”, claims that the far-reaching extent of the surveillance program has taken a toll on the Muslim community.
“[The NYPD] has repeatedly said that as long as you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear,” Diala Shamas, co-author of the report, told the Huffington Post. Instead, she said the study “shows that there are many disturbing impacts and consequences of the irresponsible, costly, harmful, completely ineffective surveillance program.”
Muslim college groups now forbid any discussion of politics, practicing Muslims have avoided mosques, and others have simply avoided making any sort of jokes that could be misinterpreted.
“People tell me ‘I’ll make mysalaah [prayer] at home.’ They mention the NYPD camera right outside the mosque as the reason,” Imam Mustapha, a Brooklyn-based religious leader, told authors of the report.
At some mosques, Muslims no longer trust religious leaders, fearing that they could be reporting to the NYPD.
“The relationship of trust and confidentiality between an imam and his congregation is no less sacred than that of pastors, rabbis and others, and those of whom they serve,” said Imam Al-Hajj Talib ‘Abdur-Rashid, Maklis Ash-Shura (Islamic Leadership Council) of Metropolitan New York. “The actions of the NYPD have compromised this sacred relationship… It not only weakens the capacity of some Muslim religious leaders to serve as advisors in sensitive matters, but it also compromises their effectiveness as partners in the struggle against extremism.”
New York City Muslims are afraid of growing beards, wearing traditional attire, participating in extracurricular activities, or talking to strangers.
The authors conclude the report with a plea to stop the pervasive program, claiming that the policing encourages deep-seated mistrust and distrust within the Muslim community.
“There’s a lot of collateral damage,” Park Slope Councilman Brad Lander told the Huffington Post.
The NYPD has so far spent more than $1 billion on the Intelligence Division, which conducts the surveillance program. But throughout six years of surveillance, the NYPD has never generated a lead, according to Assistant Chief Thomas Galati.
“I never made a lead from rhetoric that came from a Demographics report, and I’m here since 2006,” Galati said in a deposition last June. “I don’t recall other ones prior to my arrival.”
- Debunked NYPD Radicalization Report Just Won’t Die (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Like a villain in a horror movie, the widely debunked concept of terrorist “radicalization” is once again raised from the grave by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) in its 2013 report, “American Jihadist Terrorism: Combating a Complex Threat.” CRS is an influential legislative branch agency charged with providing objective policy analysis for members of Congress, which makes its continued reliance on the “radicalization” model promoted in a now-discredited 2007 New York Police Department report, “Radicalization in the West,” particularly troublesome.
The NYPD report purported to describe the process that drives previously “unremarkable” people to become terrorists. According to Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly’s preface, the document was intended to “to assist policymakers and law enforcement officials, both in Washington and throughout the country by providing a thorough understanding of the kind of threat we face domestically.” It theorized a simple four-step process starting with the adoption of a particular set of beliefs to becoming a terrorist, though it strangely conceded that not all terrorists need to go through all, or any of these steps, and that people who did go through the steps would not necessarily become terrorists – though that didn’t mean they weren’t dangerous. Confused? It gets worse.
The report only examined terrorist acts committed by Muslims, and essentially suggested that all Muslims were potential terrorists that needed to be watched, stating that “[e]nclaves of ethnic populations that are largely Muslim often serve as ‘ideological sanctuaries’ for the seeds of radical thought.” It posited a profile of potential terrorist “candidates” so broad that it’s no profile at all: within these “Muslim enclaves,” potential terrorists could range from members of middle class families to “successful college students, the unemployed, the second and third generation, new immigrants, petty criminals, and prison parolees.” In other words: anyone and everyone. It identified “radicalization incubators,” including mosques, as well as “cafes, cab driver hangouts, flophouses, prisons, student associations, nongovernmental organizations, hookah (water pipe) bars, butcher shops and book stores.” In other words: any place and every place. Commonplace activities for Muslim-Americans, like wearing Islamic clothing, growing a beard, abstaining from alcohol and joining advocacy organizations or community groups were all listed as potential indicators of radicalization. In other words: any kind of behavior and all kinds of behavior.
If it sounds like the report’s description of potential terrorists is so overbroad it could include entire Muslim-American communities, this does not appear to be accidental. Indeed, the report provided the ideological foundation for the NYPD Intelligence Division’s program of mass surveillance of Muslim communities throughout the Northeast. Not surprisingly, this poorly focused program “never generated a lead or triggered a terrorism investigation,” according to the Associated Press, which received a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the NYPD’s program.
The NYPD radicalization report was quickly denounced by advocacy and academic organizations for its overstated and flawed facts and serious methodological errors. The NYPD responded by inserting a “Statement of Clarification” in 2009 that made this remarkable claim:
“…this report was not intended to be policy prescriptive for law enforcement. In all of its dealings with Federal, State and Local authorities, the NYPD continues to underscore this important point.”
What? In addition to completely contradicting its own preface, the disclaimer refutes the entire purpose of the report. If a police terrorist study isn’t intended to impact police counterterrorism policy, what is it for? Is it just a thought experiment?
Yet, despite all we know of the admitted shortcomings of the NYPD report, the CRS continues to cling to its model of radicalization, suggesting that individuals can become terrorists “by radicalizing and then adopting violence as a tactic.” This concept, that the adoption of a particular belief set is a precursor to violent action is refuted in empirical studies of actual terrorists, like one from RAND, which concludes that an individual’s decision to engage in terrorist violence is a complex one involving a matrix of different environmental and individual factors, no one element of which is necessary nor sufficient in every case (see its “Factor Tree for Root Causes of Terrorism” above, which looks a whole lot more complex than the NYPD’s four-step process).
In addition to being factually wrong, this radicalization concept is also dangerous, because, as the CRS report points out, adopting beliefs and associating with like-minded people is First Amendment-protected activity. But if counterterrorism officials believe that adopting radical beliefs are a necessary first stage to terrorism, they will obviously target belief communities and activists with their enforcement measures, as they often do. The CRS report highlights the NYPD radicalization theory, and while it acknowledges the criticism of the NYPD report it continues to hew closely to the model of radicalization it promotes. This is particularly true in its discussion of the appropriate law enforcement response to radicalization, in which it describes the “major challenge” as determining “how quickly and at what point individuals move from radicalized beliefs to violence.” The faulty assumption that radical thoughts lead to violence drives many of the inappropriate law enforcement actions against Muslim-American communities and political activists that, like the NYPD surveillance program, violate civil rights but don’t actually improve security.
It is long past time to euthanize this erroneous and dangerous theory, as many terrorism researches are already suggesting. Moreover, a more recent study from the Triangle Center of North Carolina suggests that recent data reflects a small and declining threat from Muslim-American terrorists, not the “uptick” that CRS reports. And West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center issued a revealing study indicating that far-right extremists have engaged in more comparatively violent activity over the last twenty years, which the FBI and policy makers have failed to recognize. Effective counterterrorism policies can’t be made from flawed theories and analysis. It is time that CRS heeds the NYPD’s recommendation that its radicalization report not be used to drive policy.
Amazing stuff, India ink. A few drops spread vigorously with a roller for several minutes on an iron plate are enough for eight sets of fingerprints and two sets of hand prints on four ancient double-sided and folded Indian police fingerprint forms. By contrast, the mug shot was taken with a digital camera. After that, I was issued an official deportation order, for which I signed to acknowledge receipt. My passport remained in police custody until I got to the security check at the airport, when it was returned to me.
My crime? I had spoken to an audience of 22,000 youth at a Student Islamic Organization conference in Kerala State without having a visa that authorized public speaking or conference participation. India is perhaps the only “democracy” where free speech for foreigners depends upon the visa they are carrying. In fact, it is probably the only such country that has no visit visa category at all, and which has one of the most convoluted, bureaucratic and invasive visa application procedures this side of North Korea.
Not that the visa restrictions are always enforced. However, the myriad regulations and procedures (“for public protection”) permit the security apparatus to control individuals and events at their discretion without having to cite the true reasons for their enforcement. Every effective police state knows the drill.
In my case, I used a tourist visa, because the conference visa is a truly onerous procedure unless it is a state-sponsored event. In fact, that is the only type of conference participation permitted, because even private groups must seek state sponsorship in order to bring speakers from outside. In today’s India, however, state sponsorship is hardly a routine bureaucratic procedure.
It shouldn’t have been this way. India was supposed to have been the model for tolerant multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic, multi-confessional societies. And when India was a leader of the Non-Aligned Movement, carefully balancing its relationships among great and small powers and supporting those who might otherwise be a mere pawn in world affairs, this promise seemed plausible.
Regrettably, India has now become a home-grown Raj, choosing sides and fomenting discord between competing interests as a means of governing and controlling, in the best traditions of its colonial past. Thus, for example, conservative Salafist clerics are welcome when they attend conferences on tourist visas, while human rights speakers like David Barsamian, John Esposito, Yvonne Ridley, Wilhelm Langthaler and myself are unwelcome, and are denied visas or expelled, and/or their hosts are prosecuted.
The Salafist treatment is part of a Machiavellian formula hatched by India with its newest partner, Israel. Salafists deserve free speech as much as anyone, but the reason India accords more of it to them is on the advice of Israel. Israel promotes Islamophobia as part of its strategy of demonizing Palestinians and Arabs, a majority of whom are Muslims, and the Salafist brand of Islam fits Israel’s agenda of portraying Islam as an extremist ideology. This stokes the flames of the more extreme nationalist Hindu groups in India and plays on the fears of many other non-Muslim groups, as well. Since Pakistan is an external Muslim enemy, such demonization helps to unify non-Muslim India and permit popular tolerance of greater government control as well as encroachment of security forces on civil rights and privacy.
In fact, India has its own version of the U.S. Patriot Act, curbing the rights of its people. It is called the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), and while the title is more honest than “Patriot”, it is also a bit scary. It implies that people can be snatched from the edge of a sidewalk on the pretext that they were intent on jaywalking. No need for the infraction to happen first.[i] UAPA is an illustration of the degree to which human rights have been marginalized in the land of M.K. Gandhi and Abdulghaffar Khan.
Not that India doesn’t have real security concerns. Communal strife is as old as India itself and has sometimes risen to the level of genocide, which drove the 1947 Pakistan secession. However, it is one thing to use law enforcement to prevent fighting and quite another to use it to drive a wedge between communities with a view towards playing them off against each other.
A case in point is the role that Israel is playing. The self-proclaimed Jewish state is selling itself to India as a worthwhile ally on the basis that it is a) an experienced and effective leader in the fight against Islamist extremism and terrorism, b) a supplier of high-tech weapons and intelligence, and c) a means of access to U.S. support and cooperation. In effect, Israel is saying that both states have common friends and enemies and that Israel is in a position to provide what India needs.
India appears to be buying, and is currently the largest customer for Israeli military arms systems and services. Never mind that the expensive Iron Dome systems are effective less than 50% of the time against rockets from Gaza that use 16th century technology. Like most governments, India has been seduced by the promise of omniscient surveillance systems and the prospect of winning battles rather than preventing them.
This is obviously a devil’s bargain. True to the nature of such contracts, however, are the surprises that await the unwary. It is instructive to remember that Israeli agents once planted bombs in Baghdad synagogues to encourage Iraq’s Jews to emigrate to Israel. (It worked, and encouraged Iraqi thugs toward violence, as well.)
Since then, Israel has stolen nuclear weapon technology and weapons grade fissionable material from the U.S., conducted the most massive spying operation in U.S. history against its “ally”, and staged numerous assassinations and “black ops” actions outside its borders, including friendly countries. Questions currently surround the killing of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria and the putative assassination attempt on Israeli diplomats in India. Israel blamed both of these on Iran on the basis of flimsy evidence, possibly fabricated in collaboration with its allies, the violent Mujahedin-e-Khalq Iranian exile group.
India would do well to be more circumspect toward friends like this. Vilifying Iran is high on Israel’s current agenda, and Israel reportedly provided “evidence” and pushed the Indian government to prosecute the case. The result was the arrest of journalist Syed Mohammed Ahmed Kazmi, who anchors a news program on West Asia providing alternative views of events in the region. His open advocacy of better relations with Iran and his Iranian contacts were enough make him an Israeli target and an Indian suspect. After seven months of incarceration, however, the Indian government had to release him for lack of evidence.
Kazmi and I shared the podium at the SIO conference in Kerala and I was able to chat with him privately just prior to the event. He is a courageous man, willing to accept the risk of speaking in public so soon after his release, but appears to hold no bitterness. Peaceful dissent of this kind needs to be encouraged in India, which is well advised to heed John F. Kennedy’s warning that, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”
Sadly, Israel sees violent revolution in foreign countries to be in its national interest, under the “divide and conquer” principle. However, one would think that India’s principle would be the opposite if it wants to remain a successful unified nation with a highly diverse population seeking assurance that all their voices are heard in a national consensus. Furthermore, there is no need for India to acquire the same enemies as Israel. It may be in Israel’s perceived interests, but is it in India’s?
My few days in Kerala were an inspiring glimpse of what is possible. I saw thousands of young Indian Muslims whose religious and social mission is to benefit all mankind, to alleviate the social ills of Muslims and non-Muslims alike, to promote interfaith cooperation and to create an umbrella that is inclusive of everyone.
Although this was a Muslim event, many who attended were not Muslim and were invited directly by their Muslim neighbors. I was invited to be the keynote speaker even though I am not Muslim and spoke more generally about human rights and about Palestinian issues, which are not specifically Muslim or Indian. Roughly 40% of the attendees were young women, in a society not always known for its success in promoting women’s rights.
These young people were politically aware, committed, well organized and motivated. Society is supposed to create models for young people, but in this case it was the young that created a model for their society.
Dr. Paul Larudee is a human rights advocate and one of the co-founders of the movement to break the siege of Gaza by sea. He was deported from India on 31st December, 2012.
[i] For a fictional treatment illustrating the absurdity of this proposition, see the film Minority Report (2002).
In a hate crime against Hindus and Muslims, a New York City woman pushed an Indian man in front of an oncoming subway train, causing him to be crushed to death in the second such murder to occur this month.
Erika Menendez, 31, is now being charged for the death of Sunando Sen, 46, who was killed by a 7 train in Queens last Thursday. The woman told police she shoved the man onto the tracks because she believed he was a Muslim or a Hindu. She then fled from the scene.
“I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims ever since 2001 when they put down the twin towers. I’ve been beating them up,” Richard A. Brown, the Queens district attorney, quoted the woman as saying.
In an interview with the New York Times, Brown said the victim was “allegedly shoved from behind and had no chance to defend himself.” Sen, who was born in India and was raised a Hindu, never saw the face of his attacker. According to the district attorney’s office, Menendez and Sen had never met, and it was unclear to tell what the victim’s religious background was.
“The defendant is accused of committing what is every subway commuter’s nightmare: Being suddenly and senselessly pushed into the path of an oncoming train,” Brown said.
Menendez fled from the scene on Thursday, but was arrested after a witness tipped off the authorities on Saturday. The passerby recognized her from the sketch and surveillance tape released by police after the incident.
“It will be up to the court to determine if she is fit to stand trial,” he added. If convicted, Menendez faces 25 years to life in prison. Menendez also has a history of violence and multiple arrests. The 31-year-old was arrested once for cocaine possession and twice for attacking two other strangers. Over the past 12 years, she has had 14 encounters with police. Five of those times, her mother called the police, while two other incidents resulted in assault charges, the Wall Street Journal reported. In 2003, she attacked a retired firefighter as he took out his garbage in Queens.
“I was covered in blood,” Daniel Conlisk, 65, recalled to the Times. “She was screaming the whole time.”
Two months prior, Menendez was accused of hitting and scratching a man in Queens. The woman has repeatedly been institutionalized for mental health problems and was discharged from Bellevue Hospital Center earlier this year. The woman was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and never received any jail time.
“People get well and then they get sick again,” said Ana Marengo, a spokeswoman for New York City’s Health and Hospitals Corportation.
“No one monitors if they are taking their medication or follows up to see if they are in danger to themselves or others,” said D. J. Jaffee, executive director of the Mental Health Policy Organization. Relatives of Menendez claim the defendant frequently failed to take her prescribed medication.
The judge in the case of Sen’s death ordered that Menendez be held without bail and undergo a psychiatric evaluation. Conlisk believes that if Menendez had a weapon when she attacked him, he would have been killed. The most recent subway murder brings further attention to the mental health system of the United States, which has already been scrutinized this month after 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 26 people in an Elementary School earlier this month.
The death of Sen also marks the second time that a man was pushed to his death from a subway platform this month. On December 3rd, a homeless man pushed a man into the tracks at the Times Square subway station. The New York Post published a photo of the man, clinging to the edge of the platform before being crushed to death by the oncoming train, sparking an uproar about the photographer’s decision to flash the camera rather than help the man back onto the platform.
In a speech on Friday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg discussed historic lows in the city’s yearly homicide and shooting totals, but also encouraged residents not to forget Sen’s death.
“It’s a very tragic case, but what we want to focus on today is the overall safety in New York,” he told reporters.
The incident also sheds further light on lingering racism faced by Hindus and Muslims in the US. According to Sen’s roommates, the victim was kind and respectful of other people’s religions. He opposed war and violence, especially those prompted by religious intolerance.
“He was so gentle,” one of Sen’s roommates told the Times. “He said in this world a lot of people are dying, killing over religious things.”
“Muslim Women Let’s Get Topless!”
If you are interested [in registering], it’s not complicated. You just have to take off your t-shirt. – Eloise, Femen co-ordinator in France, September 19, 2012
The founding of the militant anti-prostitution outfit Femen had, and still does have, a genuine basis of protest. Exploitative sex-tourism in the Ukraine is something women and men would understandably take a strong stand against, and local resistance has been scanty (no pun intended). Ditto numerous countries where sexual slavery has found itself growing on the coat tails of globalisation and corrupt governments. But as has been noted by commentators in, for want of a better term “industrialised” countries, rarely does the conversation move beyond the shock photo stunts the group wishes to disseminate. In other words, the conversation becomes less a matter of revolution than a sense of whether one’s sets of breasts are better than another’s. When the message of protest gets mired in tactics rather than aims, it’s bound to get lost in the hubbub.
The attempt by Femen to project a more European-broad protest – bare-breasted, of course – has been announced, with the ladies of the group taking their tops off in various European capitals. So far the group have lacked a “base” to launch their indignation. Paris has been greeted with the Femen flavour, and the website of Femen France features “Nudité, Lutte and Liberté” in the tricolour scheme, all against a backdrop of taut, curvy flesh. Products can be purchased as well – the Femen Handbag, the Femen Hoody, and an assortment of shirts such as “F’Kamikaze.” The latter is surely ironic – a topless women’s outfit that makes money selling tops. Themes of protest do move in mysterious ways.
Paris is now the base for the first ‘training centre’ which will school feminist recruits on the art of dodging security forces. In the words of one of the outfit’s more notorious figures, Inna Shevchenko, “We’re opening the first international training centre for feminists… who want to transform themselves into soldiers” (Spiegel Online, Sep 19). To celebrate the occasion, the protestors marched through a largely Muslim neighbourhood in the 18th arrondissement. “Muslim women, let’s get naked.”
Mindful of her audience, Shevchenko makes sure that the press know her intellectual interests. She is re-reading August Bebel’s Women Under Socialism (1883). “Women, in the new society will enjoy total independence; […] she will be placed, in relation to man, in a position of total freedom and equality.” She has no desire to return to unequal Kiev yet, not after she was filmed chain sawing an Orthodox Cross in the city in support of her sisters in Pussy Riot.
London has been witness to the topless protests taking a stance against Sharia law and the participation of various “bloody” Islamic states in the Olympics. A hotchpotch medley of rationales were thrown in by Reza Moradi, who did not name any of those offending states in a protest in August. “The Olympic Committee must not have allowed those governments to be represented in the Olympics. They are fascists of our time, they treat women like third-class citizens” (Telegraph, Aug 2).
While much of what Moradi is lamenting is relevant, the institutional framework of the Olympics has been historically favourable to “bloody” states, not all of them necessarily Islamic. Oppression, not just of gender, is a spreadable commodity, and there is much of it about.
Femen also made a splash of sorts at the Euro 2012 tournament in Poland and the Ukraine, where they targeted prostitution in host cities. A notable effort was made by Yana Zhdanova in Lviv to snatch the Euro 2012 championship cup, left tantalizingly on display. Femen activist Oleksandra Shevchenko offered an explanation for the foiled action. “We needed to tear down this trophy to show that this phallic symbol does not need to stand on a pedestal, when our country is being turned into a brothel. UEFA have arranged this with our politicians in order to win back the money that has been put into Euro 2012” (Telegraph, May 24).
Parisian booby marches certainly garner attention, but of a different sort. It doesn’t necessarily consider issues specific to various groups of women in different countries. Femen risk looking like a noisy university protest group, a tried and tired form of student radicalism that does, at some point, have to find a political agenda. As Joseph Bamat notes, writing for France 24 (Sep 19), “Most feminists in France do not feel politically persecuted or oppressed, and tend to focus on more specific problems, such as domestic abuse and equal pay for equal work.” Bamat further speculates that French feminists will retort that “we didn’t have to show our bums to win the right to vote or to abort”.
Sex is a tricky and volatile business, and Femen has taken the slippery line. The coin of oppression and liberation is often one and the same thing. Femen might see their Islamic sisters as enslaved, while many of them most certainly will not. The view is bound to not only be contrary in some circles but dismissed as smutty claptrap, the fantastic yearnings of a pop feminism.
Then, there will be opposition of a different sort. The counter to the bare breast heroines of Femen come from the French prostitutes’ union STRASS, who have been demanding a legalisation of prostitution for some time. When a law was being considered in April 2011 to fine and jail sex clients, members of the organisation went apoplectic. The order of battle has been made, and its bound to be vicious.
Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
With the publication of the profane pictures of the holy Prophet of Islam in Charlie Hebdo magazine, the West seems to be consciously moving in a direction where chaos will dominate the international arena and a clash of cultures will inevitably run deeper for an indefinite period of time.
Magazine director Stephane Charbonnier said his staff is “not really fueling the fire,” but rather using its freedom of expression “to comment (on) the news [of the blasphemous film] in a satirical way.”
The French magazine has a history of attacking Islam. On February 9, 2006, it also published some cartoons denigrating the holy Prophet. The Grand Mosque, the Muslim World League and the Union of French Islamic Organizations (UOIF) in France filed a suit saying that the cartoons contained elements of racism. In 2007, executive editor Philippe Val was, however, acquitted by the French court. Surprisingly, François Fillon, the prime minister, and Claude Guéant, the interior minister voiced support for Charlie Hebdo.
According to reports, France is closing its embassies and schools in 20 countries, fearing a violent backlash from protestors over the blasphemous cartoons. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has said, “Is it relevant and intelligent in this environment to add fuel to the fire?”
The publication of the cartoons, which came immediately after the release of the anti-Islam film Innocence of Muslims, has provoked widespread protests in most parts of the Muslim world.
It is painful to say that the French government has not only authorized such an anti-Islam move but it has also rejected a request by Muslims to hold demonstration in front of the Paris Grand Mosque on Saturday. According to the police ban, organizers of a possible demonstration will face six months in jail and a fine of 700 euros ($900). In a similar move, French Interior Minister Manuel Valls ordered a ban on any further demonstrations against the anti-Islam film made in the United States.
“I have issued instructions so that this does not happen again. These protests are forbidden,” Valls said in an interview with France 2 television network.
Protest is a form of freedom of expression which is denied Muslims in France but is given lasciviously free rein in the anti-Islam moves in the country.
There are abortive attempts by western analysts to interpret the two baneful incidents in the light of freedom of expression and thereby explain away the emotional hurt of the Muslim world. However, to an intellectually trained mind, this seems more than just an insult to Islam and the Muslims.
The calculated move of the French magazine in publishing the insulting cartoons immediately after the blasphemous film indicates a united front forming against Islam in the West. On the one hand, the move can be seen as an attempt to help escalate the crisis in the Middle East region and on the other hand to plunge the world into a vortex where a clash of civilizations is imminent.
Should we naively believe that the anti-Islam film which has caused much uproar and intellectual chagrin in the Muslim world is the work of a Coptic Christian Egyptian fraudster, a small-time porn director and a bunch of extremists who harbor deep hatred against Islam? This is a good question and it deserves an answer. Still, the answer seems to be found in the incident which followed the film i.e. the publication of the blasphemous cartoons.
Seen from an analytical point of view, the entire scenario apparently tilts the scale in favor of the Zionists who capitalize on a large-scale fracas between the Muslim countries and the rest of the world. In fact, they are the ones who will catch the bigger fish in these trouble waters.
Amidst this craftily authored plan, Israel has commenced a series of war games in Golan Heights, the biggest the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has conducted in the six years since the second Lebanon war on Hezbollah in 2006. Military sources say the war game looks like a real war with tens of thousands of soldiers and senior officers, including the artillery and the air force taking part. Israeli officials have announced that the situation in Syria is precariously volatile and that the country is in possession of a huge arsenal of chemical weapons which they fear might fall into the hands of wrong people stockpile if President Bashar Assad is ousted. This is the excuse which they use to justify their military show-off. In point of fact, Israel is readying itself to wage a military encounter in the region by using the anti-Islam scenario.
With the Muslim world in turmoil over the anti-Islam video and cartoons, Israel will be in a position to turn the situation to its own benefit, depict the Islamic world in a negative light with the help of western media and exploit the rift deepening between the Muslims and the West. These facts suggest that there are certain Zionist elements in the West which are fomenting Islamophobia in the world in order to bring about a lethal encounter between the East and the West and serve the interests of Israel in the long run.