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Were NATO Dogs Used to Rape Afghan Prisoners at Bagram Air Base?

18 December, 2014 - 22:46

Bagram_Theater_Internment_Facility_sally_port
Absolutely disturbing but not surprising if true.

Were NATO Dogs Used to Rape Afghan Prisoners at Bagram Air Base? December 15, 2014  |  AlterNet / By Emran Feroz

After the release of the CIA torture report by Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) the world is reeling in shock at the level of brutality revealed in the documents. In fact, the whole report is nothing more than a confession of sadistic procedures that could have been lifted from the diaries of Torquemada, from “rectal feeding” to nude beatings and humiliation — horrors that were well-known but not officially confirmed. But the report remains incomplete. Indeed, some 9000 documents have been withheld.

What new horrors could be discovered with the publication of these records?

Perhaps the most gut-wrenching story to emerge from Bagram has been buried in the German media and remains unknown to much of the world. Published by German author and former politician Juergen Todenhoefer in his latest book, “Thou Shalt Not kill, the account stems from a visit to Kabul. At a local hotel, a former Canadian soldier and private security contractor named Jack told Todenhoefer why he could not longer stand working in Bagram.

“It’s not my thing when Afghans get raped by dogs,” Jack remarked.

Todenhoefer’s son, who was present with him in Kabul and was transcribing Jack’s words, was so startled by the comment he nearly dropped his pad and pen.

The war veteran, who loathed manipulating Western politicians even as he defended tactics of collective punishment, continued his account: Afghan prisoners were tied face down on small chairs, Jack said. Then fighting dogs entered the torture chamber.

“If the prisoners did not say anything useful, each dog got to take a turn on them,” Jack told Todenhoefer. “After procedure like these, they confessed everything. They would have even said that they killed Kennedy without even knowing who he was.”

A former member of parliament representing the right-of-center Christian Democratic Union from 1972 to 1990, Todenhoefer transformed into a fervent anti-war activist after witnessing the Soviet destruction of Aghanistan during the 1980’s. His journalism has taken him to Iraq and back to Afghanistan, where he has presented accounts of Western military interventions from the perspective of indigenous guerrilla forces. Unsurprisingly, his books have invited enormous controversy for presenting a sharp counterpoint to the war on terror’s narrative. In Germany, Todenhofer is roundly maligned by pro-Israel and US-friendly figures as a “vulgar pacifist” and an apologist for Islamic extremism. But those who have been on the other side of Western guns tend to recognize his journalism as an accurate portrayal of their harsh reality.

Though his account of dogs being used to rape prisoners at Bagram is unconfirmed, the practice is not without precedent. Female political prisoners of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet’s jails have described their torturers using dogs to rape them.

More recently, Lawrence Wright, the author of the acclaimed history of Al Qaeda, “The Looming Tower,” told National Public Radio’s Terry Gross, “One of my FBI sources said that he had talked to an Egyptian intelligence officer who said that they used the dogs to rape the prisoners. And it would be hard to tell you how humiliating it would be to any person, but especially in Islamic culture where dogs are such a lowly form of life. It’s, you know, that imprint will never leave anybody’s mind.”

I spoke to an Afghan named Mohammad who worked as an interpreter in Bagram and insisted on anonymity for fear of reprisals. He told me Todenhoefer’s account of dogs being used to rape prisoners in the jail was “absolutely realistic.”

Mohammad worked primarily with US forces in Bagram, taking the job out of financial desperation. He soon learned what a mistake he had made. “When I translated for them, I often knew that the detainee was anything but a terrorist,” he recalled. “Most of them were poor farmers or average guys.”

However, Mohammad was compelled to keep silent while his fellow countrymen were brutally tortured before his eyes. “I often felt like a traitor, but I needed the money,” he told me. “I was forced to feed my family. Many Afghan interpreters are in the very same situation.”

A “traitor” is also what the Taliban think about guys like Mohammad. It is well-known that they make short-shrift of interpreters they catch. Mohammad has since left Afghanistan for security reasons and is reluctant to offer explicit details of the interrogations sessions he participated in. However, he insisted that Todenhoefer’s account accurately captured the horrors that unfolded behind the walls of Bagram.

“Guantanamo is a paradise if you compare it with Bagram,” Muhammad said.

Waheed Mozhdah, a well-known political analyst and author based in Kabul, echoed Muhammad’s account. “Bagram is worse than Guantanamo,” Mozdah told me, “and all the crimes, even the most cruel ones like the dog story, are well known here but most people prefer to not talk about it.”

Hometown for soldiers, hellhole for inmates

It is hard to imagine what more hideous acts of torment remain submerged in the chronicles of America’s international gulag archipelago. Atrocities alleged to a German journalist by a former detainee at the US military’s Bagram Airbase in Kabul, Afghanistan, suggest that the worst horrors may be too much for the public to stomach.

Bagram Airbase is the largest base the US constructed in Afghanistan and also one of the main theaters of its torture regime. You have to drive about one and a half hour from Kabul to reach the prison where hundreds of supposedly high-value detainees were held. The foundations of the base are much older, laid by the Soviets in the 1950s, when the last king of Afghanistan, Mohammad Zahir, maintained friendly connections with Moscow. Later, during the Soviet occupation, Bagram as the main control center for the Red Army.

Known as the “second Guantanamo,” even though conditions at Bagram are inarguably worse, you will find the dark dungeons, which were mentioned in the latest CIA report, next to American fast food restaurants. During the US occupation, the military complex in Bagram became like a small town for soldiers, spooks and contractors. In this hermetically sealed hellhole, the wanton abuse of human rights existed comfortably alongside the “American Way of Life.”

One of the persons sucked into the parallel world of Bagram was Raymond Azar, a manager of a construction company. Azar, a citizen of Lebanon, was on his way to the US military base near the Afghan Presidential Palace known as Camp Eggers when 10 armed FBI agents suddenly surrounded him. The agents handcuffed him, tied him up and shoved him into an SUV. Some hours later Azar found himself in the bowels of Bagram.

According to Azar’s testimony, he was forced to sit for seven hours while his hands and feet were tied to a chair. He spent the whole night in a cold metal container. His tormentors denied him food for 30 hours. Azar also claimed that the military officers showed him photos of his wife and four children, warning him that unless he cooperated he would never see his family again. Today we know that officers and agents have threatened prisoners with their relatives’ the rape or murder.

Azar had nothing to do with Al Qaida or the Taliban. In fact, he caught in the middle of a classic web of corruption. The businessman’s company had signed phony contracts with the Pentagon for reconstruction work in Afghanistan. Later, Azar was accused of having attempted to bribe the U.S. Army contact to secure the military contracts for his company. This was not the sort of crime for which a suspect is normally sent to a military prison. To date, no one has explained why the businessman was absconded to Bagram.

Most prisoners from Bagram are not rich business men or foreign workers from abroad, but average Afghan men who had a simple life before they had been kidnapped. One of these men was Dilawar Yaqubi, a taxi driver and farmer from Khost, Eastern Afghanistan. After five days of brutal torture in Bagram, Yaqubi was declared as dead on December 10th 2002. His legs had been “pulpified” by his interrogators, who maintained that they were simply acting according to guidelines handed down to them by the Pentagon and approved by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The case of the Afghan taxi driver’s killing was highlighted in the Oscar-winning documentary “Taxi to the Dark Side.” The film established that Yaqubi had simply been at the the wrong place at the wrong time. His family, his daughter and his wife, are waiting for justice.

(Watch the full version of Taxi To The Dark Side here).

A US-backed government of rapists, warlords and torturers

Continue reading …

Jerusalem court indicts 3 for arson at Jewish-Arab school

17 December, 2014 - 21:53

Jerusalem_School_Arson Jerusalem court indicts 3 for arson at Jewish-Arab school

By and | Dec. 16, 2014 | 12:27 PM

Three members of a right-wing religious Jewish group have been charged in Jerusalem District Court of allegedly setting fire to and vandalizing the Max Rayne Hand in Hand bilingual school in Jerusalem last month.

The three young men – activists in the Lehava organization, which fights intermarriage – were charged Monday with arson, breaking and entering, and destroying property at the school, because Jewish and Arab children study there.

They were allegedly acting in keeping with their mission to battle assimilation and coexistence, according to the charge sheet, “after it became known to the accused that there had been a memorial ceremony for [the late Palestinian leader] Yasser Arafat a number of weeks previously, on the background of the terror attacks in the city and with the aim of committing an act that would resonate in the media.”

However, officials at the Hand in Hand school assert that no one could have had any information about such a ceremony, since one was never held at the school or by the members of its greater community.

“Such a claim may have been made during their interrogation, making its way into the charge sheet, but there is no truth to it,” said the school sources.

The sources added that “the fingerprints of the arsonists who defiled the school’s walls with their racist and hateful slogans left no doubt as to the motive for the attack. We insist that this error be rectified immediately lest it serve as a pretext for the next attack.”

The Jerusalem District Attorney’s office has asked that the three suspects – Yitzhak Gabai, 22, of Jerusalem, and brothers Shlomo and Nahman Twito (20 and 18, respectively) of Betar Ilit – be held in custody until the end of legal proceedings.

Stop Asking Muslims to Condemn Terrorism. It’s bigoted and Islamophobic.

17 December, 2014 - 21:49

Australia Stop asking Muslims to condemn terrorism. It’s bigoted and Islamophobic.

There’s a certain ritual that each and every one of the world’s billion-plus Muslims, especially those living in Western countries, is expected to go through immediately following any incident of violence involving a Muslim perpetrator. It’s a ritual that is continuing now with the Sydney hostage crisis, in which a deranged self-styled sheikh named Man Haron Monis took several people hostage in a downtown café.

Here is what Muslims and Muslim organizations are expected to say: “As a Muslim, I condemn this attack and terrorism in any form.”

This expectation we place on Muslims, to be absolutely clear, is Islamophobic and bigoted. The denunciation is a form of apology: an apology for Islam and for Muslims. The implication is that every Muslim is under suspicion of being sympathetic to terrorism unless he or she explicitly says otherwise. The implication is also that any crime committed by a Muslim is the responsibility of all Muslims simply by virtue of their shared religion. This sort of thinking — blaming an entire group for the actions of a few individuals, assuming the worst about a person just because of their identity — is the very definition of bigotry.

It is time for that ritual to end: non-Muslims in all countries, and today especially those in Australia, should finally take on the correct assumption that Muslims hate terrorism just as much as they do, and cease expecting Muslims to prove their innocence just because of their faith.

Bigoted assumptions are the only plausible reason for this ritual to exist, which means that maintaining the ritual is maintaining bigotry. Otherwise, we wouldn’t expect Muslims to condemn Haron Monis — who is clearly a crazy person who has no affiliations with formal religious groups — any more than we would expect Christians to condemn Timothy McVeigh. Similarly, if someone blames all Jews for the act of, say, extremist Israeli settlers in the West Bank, we immediately and correctly reject that position as prejudiced. We understand that such an accusation is hateful and wrong — but not when it is applied to Muslims.

This is, quite literally, a different set of standards that we apply only to Muslims. Hend Amry, who is Libyan-American, brilliantly satirized this expectation with this tweet, highlighting the arbitrary expectations about what Muslims are and are not expected to condemn:

Continue reading…

Zionist Zuhdi Jasser Shills For “StandWithUs”–Again

15 December, 2014 - 22:00

Zionist_Zuhdi_Jasser

“A guy like Zuhdi understands our mission, which is to promote Israel,” said Puder

Zuhdi Jasser, is a favorite with Zionist organizations, headlining many of their events as a keynote speaker. In fact, Jasser owes his career to another Neo-Con Zionist who has been one of his biggest backers; Daniel Pipes. Jasser began his association with Pipes in 2003 and quickly morphed into that strangest and loneliest of creatures: the Muslim Zionist. Pick a topic and Jasser will likely be on the wrong side, the side of warmongers, bigots, torturers and criminals:

Invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan? Wrong side.

Israeli apartheid? Wrong side.

Discrimination based on religion? Wrong side.

Islamophobia? Wrong side.

“Ground Zero” Mosque? Wrong side.

Congressional Witch Hunts? Wrong side.

NYPD spying? Wrong side.

For his efforts Jasser has been rewarded handsomely, with funding and support from Islamophobic organizations. Recently, Jasser was once again displaying his qualifications as an all around nasty Islamophobia enabler at another “Stand With US” luncheon (Previous: “StandWithUs” Destroying Human Rights Conference).

This time Jasser was whining about how he isn’t respected in his local community and mosque, that an Imam hurt his feelings by calling him a “hypocrite” and when he does lecture in mosques people keep him “away from their children.” Hmmm, I wonder why that would happen? All of a sudden Mr. Patriotic Muslim Sheikh of America is getting upset that Muslims are using their own right to free speech to critically condemn him and his strange beliefs?

Jasser has been preaching his hatred of the Muslim American community for over a decade now and no one has hurt a hair on his head and no one will because he’s a pitiful hatemonger. Should Jasser be surprised that he is so overwhelmingly disliked when he forwards conspiracy theories claiming Muslim Americans are a Fifth Column?

“The bigger threat is the quiet majority” of American Muslims “that hates America, that doesn’t feel a bond to this country, would be horrified if their kids became military officers, and don’t feel an affinity for America,” Jasser said.

On Israel, Jasser pushed the typical Hasbara line, normalizing Israeli human rights and war crimes by sweeping them under the rug, stating “Israel is just like England and the US,”

“It is absurd that the U.N. spends so much time on Israel when it’s like England, it’s like America,” Jasser said. “The Palestinian question is a problem because of the Palestinian leadership — the warmongering Hamas, which is sending rockets and starts a war and then expects nothing to happen in response.”

This lie doesn’t hold any currency among most reasonable, informed and honest folks anymore; the tide is shifting and Jasser needs new talking points. When you don’t point to continued settler colonization, occupation, apartheid, periodical bombings and invasions of Gaza, etc. etc. then you are a hypocrite and it’s no wonder you aren’t respected.

Zionist Federation cancels Mordechai Kedar lectures but only at schools

15 December, 2014 - 18:55

Mordechai-Kedar-with-Geller-and-Spencer-at-SION-conference

via. IslamophobiaWatch

The Zionist Federation this week cancelled appearances at three Jewish schools by an outspoken Israeli academic following concerns about his links to an anti-Islamist activist banned from Britain.

Dr Mordechai Kedar, an expert on Israeli Arabs who regularly appears to defend Israel on Arabic stations such as Al Jazeera, was due to begin a speaking tour on Wednesday night. But ZF chairman Paul Charney said that he had removed the schools from the tour after the intervention of the Board of Deputies.

Dr Kedar, who lectures at Bar-Ilan University, has spoken at events organised by Stop the Islamisation of Nations, founded by the Jewish American Pamela Geller, who was banned from Britain last year in a move supported by the Board of Deputies.

At a 2012 Sion conference, where speakers also included Tommy Robinson, then of the English Defence League, Dr Kedar urged Europeans to have more babies. Muslims, he declared, were “multiplying – somebody said [like] rats”.

The Board had said “their biggest concern would be about him visiting schools”, Mr Charney explained. “To which I replied that I would pull him from the schools so as not to have an argument, to which they replied they were glad to reach accommodation on this.”

Mr Kedar is due to speak at a number of British synagogues over the next few days as well as the ZF’s Israel advocacy conference. But appearances at two synagogues originally listed on his schedule will not take place.

His talk at the Spanish and Portuguese Jews’ Congregation in Maida Vale, west London, on Wednesday night was cancelled. Hampstead Garden Suburb Synagogue said that his booking had never been confirmed. Rabbi Dov Kaplan of HGS said: “We probably would have had him and let him explain his comments.” One objector, academic Michael Pinto-Duschinsky, said that the visit would be “toxic for interfaith relations”.

But Mr Charney complained of attempts to smear Dr Kedar. “At the ZF, we are committed to bringing over expert speakers to educate and enthuse our audiences. We don’t necessarily agree with all their views… But we do think they should all be heard,” he said. He added: “What’s worse than a call for a boycott of an Israeli academic? A call for a boycott of an Israeli academic from within our community.”

Dr Kedar, who has had pieces published in the JC, said that “media outlets from Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia find no problem to have me on air”. He added: “Pamela Geller and her audience are not different from the audience of dozens of media outlets, in Arabic and English alike, which keep calling me to hear what an Israeli researcher has to say; they all deserve to hear the truth about the Middle East.”

Jewish Chronicle, 4 December 2014

See Paul Charney and Michael Pinto-Duschinsky, “Should Mordechai Kedar speak in the UK?”, Jewish Chronicle, 4 December 2014

Also Ben White, “Zionist Federation speaker: immigration will be death of Europe”, Middle East Monitor, 5 December 2014

And “Raping Palestinian women would deter attacks on Israel, says Geller ally”, Islamophobia Watch, 21 July 2014

Update:  See “Finchley Synagogue cancels talk by controversial academic Mordechai Kedar”, Jewish Chronicle, 8 December 2014

ZF Mordechai Kedar speaking tour

Extremist who attacked George Galloway is jailed for 16 months

15 December, 2014 - 18:47

Neil-Masterson

via. IslamophobiaWatch

A man who attacked the Respect MP George Galloway in a London street has been jailed for 16 months.

Drug addict Neil Masterson, 39, left the pro-Palestine MP for Bradford West with cuts and bruises to his head and ribs and requiring hospital treatment after the frenzied assault in Notting Hill in August.

Masterson, who was wearing a pink t-shirt with an Israeli Defence Force logo when he was arrested nearby, told police he felt “morally justified” in attacking the MP because he was a “Nazi” with a “shameful” attitude towards Jews, Isleworth Crown Court heard.

Galloway, the court heard, believes he would have been killed if Masterson, who had “recently undergone a conversion towards Judaism”, had been armed with a knife during their chance meeting.

Masterson, of Kensington, who used to work for the Department of Work and Pensions and as a manager at the BBC, had previously admitted assaulting Mr Galloway and a second charge of common assault against a man who had been posing for a picture with the MP as the attack happened.

Judge Aidan Marron QC told the clean-shaven and smartly suited Masterson: “While you are no longer facing a charge of religiously aggravated assault, it would be unreal to ignore that the motivation for this … was your profound hostility to Mr Galloway’s views.”

He added that Masterson’s “loathing” of Galloway was manifested by what he did at the start of the assault and said afterwards in interviews.

The court heard that 60-year-old former Labour MP Mr Galloway had been in London on private business when the attack happened at around 7.25pm on Friday August 29.

He was posing for a photo near his car in Golborne Road with Moroccan doctor Mostafa Maroof and a friend when Masterson approached them “in a rage”, prosecutor Michelle Nelson told the court. She said he mentioned the Holocaust, leading Mr Galloway to fear he was a right-wing extremist.

The attack on the MP included 10 punches and a “Kung-fu style” kick which did not connect but caused Mr Galloway to fall into the road, where Masterson continued hitting him.

Mr Maroof, who was shoved over in the attack, and his friend managed to push Masterson away and prevent him from launching another attack before he fled onto a bus, the court heard.

The three men called 999 and then got in Mr Galloway’s car to follow Masterson’s bus, despite police telling them not to. They flagged down a passing patrol car which stopped the bus and officers arrested Masterson.

Ms Nelson said Masterson admitted to police he said “Anti-semitic little man, I f****** despise you” during the attack and described Galloway as “a morally and intellectually bankrupt person”.

She added: “The defendant said that he wanted to make Mr Galloway realise that his attitude towards Jews was shameful, it shames all Catholics and it shames anyone who has any idea of humanity. He felt he (Galloway) is a serpent in a way.”

She continued: “He felt he was morally justified in assaulting Mr Galloway. He said he thought Galloway was a Nazi and his political views were hate.”

Mr Galloway welcomed the sentence but questioned the decision to drop a charge of religiously aggravated assault. He said:

“The sentence is reasonable in the circumstances. However, had the charge of religiously aggravated assault not been dropped I’m sure it would have been considerably longer and I fail to see why that charge was dropped given that he was wearing an IDF T-shirt and screaming about Israel and me. If an Asian man wearing a Palestinian T-shirt had attacked a pro-Israeli MP would the sentence have been the same?”

In a victim impact statement read in court Mr Galloway described still being in pain from his injuries and how it had left his wife and children in a “constant state of worry”. “I no longer go anywhere alone”, he wrote. “I now need to have someone with me while working.”

Hillingdon Times, 11 December 2014

Masterson’s Facebook page provides an insight into his political ideology, which is typical far-right Islamophobia, inspired by groups such as Britain First. Like many who hold these views Masterson is a fervent Zionist, seeing the state of Israel as a bulwark against Islam. Along with declarations of admiration for the IDF, he repeatedly calls for the suppression of Islam in the UK. In a rambling open letter to David Cameron, which accompanies a link to a video promoting a protest against the Muslim Brotherhood organised by the EDL splinter group the South East Alliance, Masterson writes:

“The fault line between Islam and democracy is terminal … This country became great as a function of its vigorous prosecution of Catholicism over centuries: we excluded them from all forms of collective worship; public and civic life; etc etc… So, I ask you, as a man of all things fair: why is Islam getting a free pass when it is infinitely more alien to our culture than Catholicism? … the enemy is right in front of us and it is patient and vowed to destruction. Shows them the true awe and majesty of the law and make anti Islamic legislation the centrepiece of a second reformation; it is the surest path to the glory of a new Britannia.”

Rather than targeting Muslims, Masterson chose instead to attack George Galloway – a left-wing politician with a strong record of support for both the Muslim community and the Palestinian cause. It’s the same far-right reasoning that motivated Breivik’s massacre on Utøya.

Neil Masterson backs Britain First and IDF
Neil Masterson announcing his support for Britain First and wearing his Israel Defense Forces t-shirt

U.S. Jewish groups back Muslim teen in Employment Discrimination case against Abercrombie & Fitch

15 December, 2014 - 18:39

Abercrombie-Fitch-Samantha-Elauf

Nice to see some unity among the Abrahamic faiths.

U.S. Jewish groups back Muslim teen in case against Abercrombie & Fitch By and | Dec. 14, 2014 | 11:37 AM

Orthodox Jewish groups in the United States have thrown their support behind a Muslim teenager who was denied a job at retailer Abercrombie & Fitch because she wears a head scarf.

Seven Jewish groups joined a Muslim civil rights group and a public interest law firm in filing briefs supporting the teen, Samantha Elauf, this week at the U.S. Supreme Court, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Elauf was turned down for a job at the Tulsa, Okla., branch of the youth-oriented clothing store because her hijab didn’t conform to the company’s “look policy” of what is calls “classic East Coast collegiate style of clothing,” according to court filings citing by the Times.

“This is a common experience that a lot of other Sabbath observers or people wearing yarmulkes have had in terms of applying for a position and being turned down because it is just a nuisance to employers,” Nathan Lewin, who filed a friend of the court brief for the Orthodox Jewish groups, told the paper.

“It is important that these Orthodox Jewish groups express support for this Muslim woman who has had a similar experience,” he added.

Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum, director of the Rabbinical Alliance of America, another group that joined the brief said that the case could be “a possible infringement of the freedom of religion.”

Continue reading …

‘It’s pork or nothing’, French Mayor Tells Muslim Pupils

14 December, 2014 - 22:32

Pork_France

The good ol’ secular principles of tolerance at work again in France.

‘It’s pork or nothing’, French mayor tells pupils

Published: 10 Dec 2014 09:18 GMT+01:00

Another week in France and another row has broken out surrounding secularism or laïcité as it’s is called.

After town halls were told to remove nativity scenes because they were against the principle of “laicïté” one mayor in the south of France has used the same argument to justify “a pork or nothing” policy in his school.

From January 1st pupils in the little town of Sargé-lès-Le Mans in the Sarthe department of north-western France will not be offered a substitute meal if they don’t eat pork.

This will affect the 15 Muslim pupils in the school who cannot eat pork because it against the dietary rules of their religion. Eating pork is also against the rules of the Jewish religion but it is not believed there are any Jewish pupils at the school.

Mayor Marcel Mortreau says his decision is based on the “principle of Republican neutrality”.

“The mayor is not required to provide meals that respond to religious requirements. This is the principle of secularism,” Mortreau told Europe1 radio.

Continue reading …

Mohammed el Gorani: A Harrowing Tale From Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp

14 December, 2014 - 22:29

gitmomemoir

Here is something you won’t see on the mainstream media actual victims of US torture speaking, this is from a 2011 article. Mohammed el Gorani  was one of the youngest prisoners at Guantanamo Bay detention Camp. He shares this harrowing tale from Guantanamo. It is important to highlight stories like these instead of glorifying the criminals who authorized it.

Diary

Mohammed el Gorani and Jérôme Tubiana

We met every afternoon for two weeks in N’Djamena. After the midday prayer, I would pick him up in a taxi at the shop he hoped to turn into a laundry. We ate fish and rice in my hotel room – he would have been recognised outside – and he just talked, beginning at the beginning.

I was born in 1986 in Saudi Arabia, in Medina, the Prophet’s city. My parents came from North Chad – I don’t know exactly where. They left Chad for Saudi because they believe that if you live in a holy place, it’s easier to go to paradise. They were nomads, from the Goran tribe. When they arrived in Medina, they took the tribe’s name as our family name, so I’m called Mohammed el Gorani, ‘the Goran’. My parents were camel herders and always had to keep moving to find grass. But when they arrived in Medina, my father did a lot of different jobs: washing cars, working in a shop belonging to a Saudi – you can’t have a shop if you’re not Saudi. There’s a lot of stupid rules about foreigners in Saudi Arabia. When my parents tried to send me to school, they said: ‘Is he Saudi?’

‘No, Chadian.’

‘There are no places left. Come back next month …’

When I was eight, I went to a school run by a man from Chad. He taught anyone who couldn’t go to a Saudi school. I was there four years until my father got ill. Then my brother and I, we had to start working. We washed cars and sold in the street cold water, prayer mats and beads – you can make good money during the Pilgrimage and the Ramadan. I went every month to Mecca with kids from Sudan and Pakistan to sell to the pilgrims. If the police came, we ran away. We had to be careful. If they capture you, they take your money and your stuff. Sometimes they take you to prison and your father had to come and sign a paper. Thus we paid for hiring our house, for the electricity. We changed house seven or eight times, but we always had electricity and tap water. Not like here in Chad.

He became friends with a Pakistani boy who lived near him. We called him Ali.

When I got 14, Ali asked me: ‘How long are you going to keep washing cars?’ He knew I wanted to be a dentist. All my friends had teeth problems, but there wasn’t a good dentist for non-Saudis – they just pull your teeth out. Also foreigners have no way to study after high school. Ali had taught me some Urdu, his mother tongue: numbers, words you need for selling, anything that’s useful with Pakistani pilgrims. Ali told me: ‘You’re good at languages. If you could speak English, you could work in a hotel in Mecca.’ His brother spoke English and had a good job in a hotel. Ali told me about English and computer lessons in Pakistan. ‘Go to Karachi. My uncles and cousins will welcome you, you just need to pay the lessons.’ I told my parents, they refused. My uncles said, ‘You’re crazy!’ but they knew if I decided something I would do it. My goal when I went to Pakistan was to help my family – life was getting difficult.

Without telling anyone, I went to Jeddah to ask for a passport at the Chadian Consulate. The consulate guy told me: ‘You need to change your name and lie on your age.’ I needed to be 18 and I was only 14 or 15. ‘And you need to pay me baksheesh.’ I had enough money. Every day I gave a part of my earnings to my family and saved the rest in a powdered milk tin that I buried in front of the house. On my last day in Medina, I went to see my Uncle Abderahman. I couldn’t say goodbye openly, but in my heart it was goodbye. It was 1 a.m., not a normal time to visit, as I was planning to leave the same night. I took his hands in mine and kissed his head, like we do in our tradition. In the morning, he told my mum I must have left.

‘Maybe he went to Jeddah, like he does usually,’ she said.

‘No, this time he’ll go far away.’

I took a plane to Karachi. Even Ali was surprised. I called his cousins and they came to the airport. Ali’s uncle taught in his house: the lessons lasted six months, three months of English lessons, and three months of English and computer lessons. I planned to go home after those six months. But two months after my arrival, there was 9/11. I didn’t pay attention – I was very busy with my lessons. Every day, I woke up, went to school, ate lunch, played football with the neighbourhood kids, studied, prayed. Every Friday, I went to pray in a big mosque not far from the house. Most of the people praying there were Arabs, because the imam was Saudi and spoke a good Arabic. One Friday, at the beginning of the sermon, we saw a lot of soldiers surrounding the mosque. After the prayers, they started questioning the people. They were looking for Arabs. They asked me: ‘Saudi?’

‘No, Chadian.’

‘Don’t lie, you’re Saudi!’ It must have been because of my accent. They put me on a truck and covered my head with a plastic bag. They took me to a prison, and they started questioning me about al-Qaida and the Talibans. I had never heard those words.

‘What are you talking about?’ I said.

‘Listen, Americans are going to interrogate you. Just say you’re from al-Qaida, you went with al-Qaida in Afghanistan, and they’ll send you home with some money.’

‘Why would I lie?’

They hung me by my arms and beat me. Two white Americans, in their forties, arrived. They were wearing normal clothes. They asked: ‘Where is Osama bin Laden?’

‘Who’s that?’

‘You’re fucking with us? You’re al-Qaida, yes!’ They kept using the F-word.

I didn’t understand this word but I knew they were getting angry. A Pakistani was in the room, behind the Americans. When they asked if I was from al-Qaida, he nodded, to tell me to say yes. I wasn’t doing it, so he got mad. The Americans said: ‘Take him back!’ The Pakistani was furious: ‘They’re looking for al-Qaida, you have to say you’re al-Qaida!’ Then they put the electrodes on my toes. For ten days I had them on my feet. Every day there was torture. Some of them tortured me with electricity, others just signed a paper saying they had done it. One Pakistani officer was a good guy. He said: ‘The Pakistani government just want to sell you to the Americans.’ Some of us panicked, but I was kind of happy. I loved to watch old cowboy movies and believed that Americans were good people, like in the movies, it would be better with them than with the Pakistanis, we’d have lawyers. Maybe they’d allow me to study in the US, then send me back to my parents.

They started taking detainees away every night, by groups of twenty. We didn’t know where they were going to, but we thought the US. One day, it was my group’s turn. The Pakistanis took away our chains and gave us handcuffs ‘made in the USA’. I told the other detainees: ‘Look, we’re going to the US!’ I thought the Americans would understand that the Pakistanis had cheated them, and send me back to Saudi.

So my hands were tied in the back and a guard held me by a chain. We were twenty, with maybe fifteen guards. They covered our eyes and ears, so I couldn’t see much. When they took off our masks, we were at an airport, with big helicopters. Then the movie started. Americans shouted: ‘You’re under arrest, UNDER CUSTODY OF THE US ARMY! DON’T TALK, DON’T MOVE OR WE’LL SHOOT YOU!’ An interpreter was translating into Arabic. Then they started beating us – I couldn’t see with what but something hard. People were bleeding and crying. We had almost passed out when they put us in a helicopter.

We landed at another airstrip. It was night. Americans shouted: ‘Terrorists, criminals, we’re going to kill you!’ Two soldiers took me by my arms and started running. My legs were dragging on the ground. They were laughing, telling me: ‘Fucking nigger!’ I didn’t know what that meant, I learned it later. They took off my mask and I saw many tents on the airstrip. They put me inside one. There was an Egyptian (I recognised his Arabic) wearing a US uniform. He started by asking me: ‘When was the last time you saw Osama bin Laden?’ ‘Who?’ He took me by my shirt collar and they beat me again. During all my time at Kandahar, I was beaten. Once it was like a movie – they came inside the tent with guns, shouting: WE CAUGHT THE TERRORISTS! And they put us in handcuffs. ‘Here are their guns!’ And they threw some Kalashnikovs onto the ground. ‘We’ve been fighting them, they killed a lot of people!’ All that was for cameras, which were held by men in uniforms. I was lying on the ground with the other prisoners. They brought dogs to scare us.

One day they started moving prisoners again. They picked you from your tent, put you naked, shaved your head and beard (I was too young to have a beard), then beat you. They dressed you with orange clothes, handcuffed you, and put gloves with no fingers on you, so you couldn’t open the handcuffs. ‘You guys are going to a place where there is no sun, no moon, no freedom, and you’re going to live there for ever,’ the guards told us, and laughed. They put you in completely black glasses and headphones, so that you couldn’t see or hear. With those on, you don’t feel the time. But I could hear when they were changing the guards, probably every hour. I must have spent five hours sitting on a bench, with another detainee in my back.

Then they put us in a plane – I don’t know what kind because I couldn’t see. As soon as you moved or talked, they beat you. They were shouting: IF YOU DON’T FOLLOW OUR ORDERS, WE’LL KILL YOU! I passed out. We had no water and no food. I woke up hearing voices shouting at me in different languages. They took me to my cell. I saw soldiers everywhere, and guns, like if it was war. There were big metal fences everywhere. We were in Guantánamo, in Camp X-Ray. It’s a prison without walls, without roofs – only fences. Nothing to protect you from the sun or the rain.

The sky was blue. Except for sky you couldn’t see anything. Later, when I was moved to Camp Delta, I could look by the windows. The camp was ringed with a green plastic sheet, but there were holes and I could see trees. And even the sea. I saw it even better, years later, when I was moved to Camp Iguana, where they put you before release. Through the plastic sheet, I saw the ocean, big ships and the guards swimming. Only in Iguana can you touch the sand.

In Camp Five as well, there was a window in my cell, but it was covered with brown tape. One day I was sitting, mad, sad, angry, and a woodpecker came and knocked, knocked until it broke the tape – a hole big as a coin. It did this to a lot of windows. It started doing it every day and the guards had to put new tape every day. Sometimes, they left the holes. I could see the cars, the soldiers, the sky, the sun, the life outside. We called the bird Woody Woodpecker.

For months, I didn’t know where I was. Some brothers said Europe. No, others told: ‘It’s the weather of Oman.’ Others told Brazil, also because of the weather. We arrived in February, but it was so hot in comparison to Kandahar. There we shivered night and day, especially when we were naked. After a few months, an interrogator told me: ‘We’re in Cuba.’ It was the first time I heard this name. ‘An island in the middle of the ocean. Nobody can run away from here and you’ll be here for ever.’ The older detainees knew of Cuba, but didn’t know there was an American base. I’d seen a lot of American movies, and arrested people always said: ‘I have the right to a lawyer!’ The interrogators laughed at me: ‘Not here in Guantánamo! You got no rights here!’

The night I arrived, I was still tired from the flight, I had a first interrogation. The old man started by saying: ‘We have two faces, one nice and one ugly. We don’t want to show you the ugly one.’ He carried on with questions: ‘What were you doing in Afghanistan? Are you from al-Qaida? Are you a Taliban? Have you been in training camps?’ My answers were just: no, no, no! He started to shout and he sent me back to my cell. I was tired and scared. Prisoners were tortured somewhere. When you heard them crying, you were really scared – you thought you’d be next.

In the beginning there were interrogations every night. They tortured me with electricity, mostly on the toes. The nails of my big toes fell off. Sometimes they hung you up like a chicken and hit your back. Sometimes they chained you, with your head on the ground. You couldn’t move for 16 or 17 hours. You peed on yourself.’

Suddenly he stopped. ‘I don’t see the benefit of telling you all that,’ he said. We had been talking for several days and he was tired. I called a taxi to take him home. ‘We are in the middle of our work,’ I said as he left, ‘it would be a pity to stop now.’ The next day, he agreed to carry on.

Sometimes they showed you the ugly face: torturing, torturing without asking questions. Sometimes I said, ‘Yes, whatever you ask, I’ll say yes,’ because I just wanted torture to stop. But the next day, I said: ‘No, I said yes yesterday because of torture.’ My first or second interrogator said to me: ‘Mohammed, I know you’re innocent but I’m doing my job. I have children to feed. I don’t want to lose my job.’

‘This is no job,’ I said, ‘this is criminal. Sooner or later you’re going to pay for this. Even in afterlife.’

‘I’m a machine – I ask you the questions they told me to ask, I bring them your answers. Whatever they are, I don’t care.’

Another guy told me: ‘We know you were doing bad stuff in Sudan.’

‘I’ve never been there.’

‘I know. But if you co-operate, I’ll bring you pizzas and McDonald’s. I know the food is bad here.’

Another one: ‘We know you were in London, working with al-Qaida, in 1993.’

‘You’re sure about this?’

He showed me a paper. ‘Look: ’93.’

‘You should be smart and say ’98 or ’99. In ’93, I was six.’ He laughed.

In the cells there were other kinds of torture. Above all they prevent you to sleep. They brought big vacuum cleaners to make a lot of noise. They put on music – I understood the words were bad words. At night, they switched on lights everywhere. If they saw you sleeping, they came shouting: WAKE UP! GET UP! Sometimes they put a sign on your door: NO SLEEP. Others had NO FOOD, NO EXERCISE, NO TALKING. In Camp Delta, they prevented you to sleep by moving you from your cell every hour. Every time, they came with handcuffs: DETAINEE, MOVE! It was bad, but thanks to the moving I was learning more English. I was picking up words from the guards and asked their meaning to the detainees who spoke English. But when the guards saw somebody was teaching me words, they would move one of us. I started stealing soap to write English words on the walls. I was hiding it under the door or in my shoes.

Continue Reading …

Elderly Austrian Muslim Woman Suffers Spinal Injury From Islamophobic Attack

11 December, 2014 - 21:27

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Another coward attacks an elderly Muslim woman.

via. The Local

Pensioner Selver S. was waiting in a queue to collect her pension at a Bawag bank branch in Schönbrunner Strasse (Meidling) when a man approached her, insulted her and repeatedly shoved her, knocking her to the floor. She was taken to hospital, suffering a spinal injury.

A 40-year-old man was arrested outside the bank shortly afterwards.

Her son Engin told the Heute newspaper that she suffered a lumbar fracture and had to spend seven days in Hanusch hospital. She had to have an operation on her spine and is now being cared for at home by her son.

Continue reading…

Malcolm X’s Oxford Union Debate — 50 Years Later

11 December, 2014 - 21:18

malcolm-x-oxford Malcolm X’s Oxford Union Debate — 50 Years Later

Medium

50 years ago this week on December 3rd, 1964 El Hajj Malik Shabazz (Malcolm X) gave one of his final international speeches of his life as a part of the Oxford Union debates. Broadcast across the world via the BBC radio and television stations Malcolm was able to call the world to his vision of global solidarity and human rights. Answering the question “Is extremism justified in defense of liberty,” much of what Malcolm argues here seems like he is directly speaking to us today. 50 years later as the United States exploded with protests throughout the country over the past two weeks in response to the non-indictments in the police murders of Michael Brown and Eric Gardner there is one quote in particular that should be reflected on in our moment:

“Whenever any black man in America shows signs of an uncompromising attitude, against the injustices that he experiences daily, and shows no tendency whatsoever to compromise with it, then the American press characterizes him as a radical, as an extremist someone who’s irresponsible, or as a rabble-rouser or someone who doesn’t rationalize in dealing with the problem. That as long as a white man does it, it’s alright, a black man is supposed to have no feelings . But when a black man strikes back he’s an extremist, he’s supposed to sit passively and have no feelings, be nonviolent, and love his enemy no matter what kind of attack, verbal or otherwise, he’s supposed to take it. But if he stands up in any way and tries to defend himself, then he’s an extremist.”

This speech is the subject of two recent books if you are interested in going deeper: Malcolm X at Oxford Union: Racial Politics in a Global Era by Saladin Ambar and The Night Malcolm X Spoke at the Oxford Union: A Transatlantic Story of Antiracist Protest by Stephen Tuck. The full text of the speech as well as Audio and Video of the speech are embedded below.

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You can also check out a recent radio documentary from the BBC by Stephen Tuck: Malcolm X in Oxford, Archive on 4 – BBC Radio 4

Malcolm X: “Is Extremism Justified in Defense of Liberty?”

Mr. Chairman, tonight is the first night that I’ve have ever had opportunity to be as near to conservatives as I am. And the speaker who preceded me, first I want to thank you for the invitation to come here to the Oxford Union, the speaker who preceded me is one of the best excuses that I know to prove our point concerning the necessity, sometimes, of extremism, in defense of liberty, why it is no vice, and why moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue. I don’t say that about him personally, but that type. He’s right, X is not my real name, but if you study history you’ll find why no black man in the western hemisphere knows his real name. Some of his ancestors kidnapped our ancestors from Africa, and took us into the western hemisphere and sold us there. And our names were stripped from us and so today we don’t know who we really are. I am one of those who admit it and so I just put X up there to keep from wearing his name.

And as far as this apartheid charge that he attributed to me is concerned, evidently he has been misinformed. I don’t believe in any form of apartheid, I don’t believe in any form of segregation, I don’t believe in any form of racialism. But at the same time, I don’t endorse a person as being right just because his skin is white, and often times when you find people like this, I mean that type, when a man whom they have been taught is below them has the nerve or firmness to question some of their philosophy or some of their conclusions, usually they put that label on us, a label that is only designed to project an image which the public will find distasteful.

I am a Muslim, if there is something wrong with that then I stand condemned. My religion is Islam I believe in Allah, I believe in Muhammed ﷺ as the apostle of Allah, I believe in brotherhood, of all men, but I don’t believe in brotherhood with anybody who’s not ready to practice brotherhood with our people.

I just take time to make these few things clear because I find that one of the tricks of the west, and I imagine my good friend…or rather that type from the west…one of the tricks of the west is to use or create images, they create images of a person who doesn’t go along with their views and then they make certain that this image is distasteful, and then anything that that person has to say from thereon, from thereon in, is rejected. And this is a policy that has been practiced pretty well, pretty much by the west, it perhaps would have been practiced by others had they been in power, but during recent centuries the west has been in power and they have created the images, and they’ve used these images quite skillfully and quite successfully, that’s why today we need a little extremism in order to straighten a very nasty situation out, or very extremely nasty situation out.

Extremism in the defense of liberty?

I think the only way one can really determine whether extremism in the defense of liberty is justified, is not to approach it as an American or a European or an African or an Asian, but as a human being. If we look upon it as different types immediately we begin to think in terms of extremism being good for one and bad for another, or bad for one and good for another. But if we look upon it, if we look upon ourselves as human beings, I doubt that anyone will deny that extremism, in defense of liberty, the liberty of any human being, is a value. Anytime anyone is enslaved, or in any way deprived of his liberty, if that person is a human being, as far as I am concerned he is justified to resort to whatever methods necessary to bring about his liberty again.

But most people usually think, in terms of extremism, as something that is relative, related to someone they know or something that they’ve heard of, I don’t think they look upon extremism by itself, or all alone. They apply it to something. A good example — and one of the reasons that this can’t be too well understood today — many people who have been in positions of power in the past don’t realize that the power, the centers of power, are changing. When you’re in a position of power for a long time you get used to using your yardstick, and you take it for granted that because you’ve forced your yardstick on others, that everyone is still using the same yardstick. So that your definition of extremism usually applies to everyone, but nowadays times are changing, and the center of power is changing. People in the past who weren’t in a position to have a yardstick or use a yardstick of their own are using their own yardstick now. You use one and they use another. In the past when the oppressor had one stick and the oppressed used that same stick, today the oppressed are sort of shaking the shackles and getting yardsticks of their own, so when they say extremism they don’t mean what you do, and when you say extremism you don’t mean what they do. There are entirely two different meanings. And when this is understood I think you can better understand why those who are using methods of extremism are being driven to them.

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India: VHP Seeks Statewide Ban On Mosque Loudspeakers

10 December, 2014 - 17:28

India_Loudspeakers

The ill intent behind this proposed legislature by the fanatical Hindutva organization VHP is evident. Instead of resolving possible issues at a community level they resort to provocation and confrontation. (h/t: U. Budye)

The Hindu

Weeks after the Devendra Fadnavis government took steps to ban cow slaughter in the State, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad has stepped up its demand for the ban of loudspeakers in mosques across Maharashtra.

The outfit claims that the sound of azaan (Muslim call of prayer) is a major cause of noise pollution and will request the State government to implement laws curbing the use of loudspeakers in mosques.

“The year-long noise pollution caused by mosques is overlooked. But people are going to court to ban the use of loudspeakers during Hindu festivals like Ganapati and Navratri which have a limited duration,” said Vyankatesh Apdeo, VHP central committee member, on Tuesday.

It has demanded that the management of the four major temples —Siddhi Vinayak Temple (Mumbai), Sai Baba tempe (Shirdi), Vitthal Mandir (Pandharpur) and the Tulja Bhavani Mandir—should be handed over to Hindu trusts. Currently, the four temples are directly governed by the State.

“The money earned through donations to these temples should be used only for the welfare of Hindu society,” Mr. Apdeo said.

The VHP also has plans to organise campaigns against television shows and beauty contests to protest against “vulgarity” and what they feel is the “denigration” of women.

The VHP’s demands are going to be put forth on August 14, when then organisation will hold a Virat Hindu Sammelan in Mumbai to commemorate fifty years of its existence

‘Hate Crime': Taxi Cab Driver Survives Brutal Attack

10 December, 2014 - 17:15

seattle_adam_gaal ‘Hate crime': Taxi driver recounts brutal attack

By KOMO Staff Published: Dec 8, 2014 at 1:12 PM PST Last Updated: Dec 8, 2014 at 11:21 PM PST

SEATTLE – Officers arrested a 26-year-old man early Sunday after he called a taxi driver a “terrorist” and beat him unconscious, causing the cab to drift out of control and strike several parked cars before slamming into an apartment building in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood, police said. Investigators labeled the attack a “hate crime.”

Adam Gaal, the 34-year-old cab driver, told police the incident began when he picked up three men and a woman in Belltown just before 2 a.m. Sunday and drove them to the 4200 block of 27th Avenue West.

The suspect then gave Gaal his credit card to pay for the trip and apparently became angry at how long the transaction was taking, said Andrew Garber of the Seattle police.

“He says, ‘You know where you are? You’re in America, this is not where you come from. You are an immigrant this is not your country. You are terrorist. You are ISIS,” Gaal said.

The passenger, later identified as Jesse Fleming, then leaned across the seat and repeatedly punched Gaal in the face, Garber said.

Gaal lost consciousness and his foot slipped off the brake, causing the cab to roll downhill, strike several cars and eventually come to a stop after crashing into the stairs of an apartment building.

“He just jump on me and punching me, beating me, punching me and I become unconscious,” Gaal said.

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Texas Christian Man Plotted Terror Attacks With His IDF Roomate On Muslim Holy Sites in Jerusalem

10 December, 2014 - 17:06

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(h/t: Sumayyah)

According to The Guardian Israel has indicted a Texas Christian man for plotting to attack Muslim sites in Jerusalem. Where was he radicalized and what if he was Muslim.

Israeli officials say they have indicted a 30-year-old American Christian from Texas for plotting to blow up Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem. A 30-year-old American Christian from Texas has been indicted in Israel for plotting to blow up Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem. Israel’s Ministry of Justice said on Tuesday that a court had indicted Adam Everett Livix in connection with the plot. It said that Livix conspired with his roommate, an active soldier in the Israeli military, to obtain 1.4kg (3lb) of explosive material to use to blow up the unidentified Jerusalem holy sites. The ministry said the plot was discovered by a police agent in October.

Shin Bet Secretly Arrests, Imprisons Texas Christian Fundamentalist for Planning Dome of the Rock Terror Attack by Richard Silverstein on December 9, 2014

Last month, I discovered the Shabak was secretly holding a foreign citizen on suspicion of serious security offences. I tweeted this on November 26th (see tweet below). But I could not obtain further information except that his name was “Adam L.”

This morning, an Israeli security journalist confirmed the story in an e mail to me and within an hour the Shabak “coincidentally” released a full account of the arrest and charges against him. Haaretz’s Hebrew language story here.

As you read MSM accounts of this story and see this fact omitted, you may wonder why.

The suspect is Adam Livix, age 30, a resident of Texas and wanted there on drug charges. He appears to have jumped bail. As a a fugitive on the run, he might’ve fled to the West Bank to avoid capture. Bergman told me that Livix is a Christian fundamentalist and “probably not very stable.”

According to the Shabak release, he first traveled to the West Bank, where he lived in Hebron. During Pres. Obama’s trip to Israel last year, Palestinians allegedly approached him in hopes of organizing an assassination attempt.  He purportedly refused, then moved to Israel and started amassing stolen IDF weapons in order to blow up Muslim holy places.  I find this part of the story to be the most lacking in credibility.  I simply don’t believe Palestinians would attempt to assassinate the U.S. president.  It’s possible that Livix approached settlers or Palestinians with this goal in mind.  But not for Palestinians to have initiated such a plot.  I would challenge the Shabak to produce any evidence justifying this claim.

Livix was secretly arrested last month and has been held incommunicado since then. The Shin Bet statement claims that the FBI has been apprised of the arrest. I asked the agency for comment and they released this:

“We are aware of the recent arrest of an American citizen in Israel and are currently working with the Israeli authorities to assist in their investigation. The FBI continues to work closely with our counterparts in Israel to identify, apprehend, and hold accountable those who threaten the public with violence.”

This would presume that the domestic intelligence agency endorsed the Israeli secret police’s abusive treatment of Livix.   It also goes a long way to presuming Livix’s guilt since it presumes he “threatened the public with violence.”  My impression was that this needed to be proven in a court of law and couldn’t be presumed.  But given today’s release of the CIA terror report and the revelations of U.S. torture of suspected Al Qaeda militants, it appears we’re fine with Shabak’s torture techniques as well, even if used on U.S. citizens.  In fact, the CIA has exploited Israeli use of torture as a justifying precedent for its own brutality.

Generally, the Israelis arrest Jewish and Palestinians security suspects in secret.  They gag the media from reporting the story.  They hold victims without charge and without legal representation for periods of time determined solely by the secret police in collaboration with a malleable judicial system.  They use abusive interrogation techniques, even ones specifically excluded by Supreme Court rulings.  This is what Adam Livix has endured.  He has, in this case, the benefit of not being Palestinian and holding U.S. citizenship, so they probably went somewhat easy on him.  That is, comparatively easy, since U.S. officialdom has apparently washed its hands of him.

Continue reading …

 

Strange Bedfellows: Extremists, Bigots, and the Quran

10 December, 2014 - 11:20

somebeliefs

Original guest article by Michael Elwood and Tarik Abdallah

Recently, there’s been a lot in the news as to whether extremists like ISIS are being true to the message of the Quran or not.

Some, like Rep. Keith Ellison and Prof. Rashid Khalidi claim that groups like ISIS take verses of the Quran out of context in order to justify their objectionable beliefs and practices (see: Islamic State group uses only half of a Quran verse to justify beheadings — see what’s in the other half). Others, like Sam Harris and Bill Maher, claim that so-called moderate Muslims either don’t know what their own scripture says (as incredible as that sounds!), or they’re simply lying about the “violent” and “hateful” contents of the Quran. We contend it’s extremists like ISIS, and critics of Islam like Harris and Maher, who are lying about the contents of the Quran. Below, we’ll give an overview of how they do this by taking verses out of context in order to make them appear to be advocating “violence” and “hate”.

First, we’d like to point out that taking verses out of context isn’t the only way that extremists try to justify violent and hateful interpretations of the Quran. There are two other ways that this is often accomplished. One way is to play on verses that are allegorical, or that can have more than one meaning, and try to tease a violent or hateful interpretation from them. The Quran itself mentions this:

“He sent down to you this scripture, containing straightforward verses – which constitute the essence of the scripture – as well as multiple-meaning or allegorical verses. Those who harbor doubts in their hearts will pursue the multiple-meaning verses to create confusion, and to extricate a certain meaning. None knows the true meaning thereof except GOD and those well founded in knowledge. They say, “We believe in this – all of it comes from our Lord.” Only those who possess intelligence will take heed” ~ Quran 3:7

In their footnote for 3:7, Prof. Edip Yuksel, Prof. Martha Schulte-Nafeh, et. al., point out that the verse about verses that can be interpreted in more than one way, can itself be interpreted in more than one way (See “Quran: A Reformist Translation”):

“The word [mutashabihat] can be confusing for a novice. Verse 39:23, for instance, uses mutashabihat for the entire Quran, referring to its overall similarity — in other words, its consistency. In a narrower sense, however, mutashabihat refers to all verses which can be understood in more than one way. The various meanings or implications require some special qualities from the person listening to or reading the Quran: an attentive mind, a positive attitude, contextual perspective, the patience necessary for research, and so forth.

“It is one of the intriguing features of the Quran that the verse about mutashabih verses of the Quran is itself mutashabih — that is, it has multiple meanings. The word in question, for instance, can mean ‘similar’, as we have seen; it can mean, ‘possessing multiple meanings'; it can also mean ‘allegorical’ (where one single, clearly identifiable element represents another single, clearly identifiable element).”

An example of a verse that can be interpreted in more than one way is 2:106. In this verse, some translate the word “ayah,” which means “miracle,” as “verse” in order to justify abrogating Quranic verses that are inconvenient for them (more on this later). An example of verses that are allegorical are the verses that describe heaven and hell, like 47:15. In this particular instance, the Quran actually tells us that the description is an allegory (mathalu):

“The allegory of Paradise [mathalu al-jannati] that is promised for the righteous is this: it has rivers of unpolluted water, and rivers of fresh milk, and rivers of wine – delicious for the drinkers – and rivers of strained honey. They have all kinds of fruits therein, and forgiveness from their Lord. (Are they better) or those who abide forever in the hellfire, and drink hellish water that tears up their intestines?”  ~ Quran 47:15

In his book, “The End of Faith,” and on his website, Sam Harris often cites these verses as evidence of what he calls “religious hatred” and “otherwordliness” in the Quran (see Honesty: The Muslim World’s Scarcest Resource). There are a few problems with this, however.

First, as his fellow atheist Joshua Oxley points out, these verses use imagery to portray the torments of hell:

“The verses cited aren’t quite as scary as he makes them out to be. Many of them use violent imagery–fire, mostly–to convey the judgment that us unbelievers will experience at the hands of God. Not at the hands of men and women on earth. But at the Last Day. Why should this constitute a particular kind of Islamic violence. . . . Does that scare you? It doesn’t scare me. These passages put the power into Divine hands to judge and cast out, not human. I couldn’t care less, unless individuals start citing that verse in hopes of having my head. At that point, it’s not the ‘unified message’ of the text that is to blame, but an inconsistent interpretation by the religious believer. And those are two very, very different things.

“Harris, quite frankly, presents Scripture here as a fundamentalist would. It is a dry, topical understanding, devoid of historical or textual context, that makes proof-texting possible. There is no room for interpretation, for conversation, for nuance. No different schools of thought. It’s decided, ‘The text as a whole says X’. Islam becomes a robotic, artificial existence, and humankind mere automatons. And I feel like Harris should know better. When you have a bigger audience to speak to, you take on the responsibility of presenting yourself and others with as much integrity and honesty as possible. And this article just doesn’t measure up. . . .

“Please, anyone and everyone, don’t take Harris’ analysis as your own understanding of Islam. I have to say something. This atheist, who is not a Qur’anic scholar, but who was lucky enough to spend four year in undergrad studying Islam, is interested in the Muslim and secular communities engaging in dialogue over real issues. Poorly-reasoned critiques, more diatribe than discourse, will never get people to the table. And in a society with a profound ignorance of the nature of Islam, it’s even more dangerous to promulgate some of the worst misconceptions.

“Everyone deserves to be as generously understood as possible, and it’s about time the Muslim community got similar treatment from our secular circles. If I read a Muslim thinker picking any secular text apart in this kind of manner, I’d be equally miffed.” ~Joshua Oxley, When You Just Shouldn’t Say Anything: Sam Harris and the Qur’an

Second, Harris isn’t categorically against torment. He’s just against the torment of non-Muslims (or infidels as he likes to call them) in an afterlife he doesn’t believe in, by a God he doesn’t believe in. But as he has said in his book “The End of Faith,” and in a Huffington Post article aptly titled “In Defense of Torture,” he’s all for the torment of Muslims in this life.

It’s hard to understand how the torment of some non-Muslims in the afterlife constitutes “religious hatred,” but the torment of some Muslims in this life doesn’t constitute “secular hatred”.

Third, despite Harris’ subjective impression that the Quran is full of “otherworldliness,” the objective reality is quite different. The number of times the Arabic words for this life (dunya) and the afterlife (akhira) both occur in the Quran exactly 115 times (see “Quran: A Reformist Translation”). It reminds me of the Christian apologist Dave Miller who tried to demonstrate that the Quran, unlike the Bible, emphasizes hell more than heaven. He wrote:

“While the Bible certainly emphasizes the certainty and inevitability of eternal punishment, it places the subject in proper perspective and provides a divinely balanced treatment.”   ~ David Miller, Hell and the Quran

But despite Miller’s subjective impression of the Quran placing an emphasis on hell, the objective reality is quite different. The Arabic words for heaven (jannah) and hell (jahannum) both occur in the Quran exactly 77 times (see “Interpreting the Qur’an: A Guide for the Uninitiated” by Clinton Bennett). If that’s not “balanced treatment,” what is? It should also be pointed out that Christian apologists claim that overall the Quran, unlike the Bible, is more violent (see Dark passages: Does the harsh language in the Koran explain Islamic violence? Don’t answer till you’ve taken a look inside the Bible, also see Danios’ article: What the Quran-bashers Don’t Want You To Know About The Bible).

Another way extremists and critics try to justify violent and hateful interpretations of the Quran is to just ignore or explain away “peaceful” and “loving” verses in the Quran. One of the ways they try to accomplish this is by claiming that all the “peaceful” and “loving” verses of the Quran have been conveniently abrogated. Verse 2:106, mentioned earlier, critics claim can be interpreted in more than one way through abrogation. Many also claim verse 9:5 abrogates all the other “peaceful” and “loving” verses. However, some scholars disagree:

“A popular argument against such a reading of the text is based on the claim that verses such as 22:39-40 and 2:190 have been abrogated by the so-called ‘verse of the sword,’ 9:5. Proponents of this argument generally cite the portion of the verse, which says, ‘then kill the polytheists wherever you find them,’ claiming that this abrogates any previous verses that seem to restrict fighting and killing non-Muslims. However, this argument is problematic for two very important reasons.

“First, as John Burton has clearly demonstrated, there is no agreement among Muslim scholars, past or present, on the nature of abrogation, or on the specifics of the abrogating and the abrogated.[16] More important to the present discussion, however, is the fact that a literal reading of 9:5, in the surrounding context demonstrates that its message is the same as that found throughout the Qur’an.” ~ Prof. Aisha Musa, Towards a Qur’anically-Based Articulation of the Concept of ‘Just War’

For a lengthier treatment of abrogation, see Dr. Israr Khan’s article Arguments for Abrogation in the Qur’an: A Critique. Also see the article Abrogation, the biggest lie against the Quran.

The Rising Tide in Germany of Islamophobia and Anti-Immigration Views

9 December, 2014 - 19:43

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As IBTimes reported The Bavaria’s ruling party, Christian Social Union (CSU),  has put forward a proposal saying that immigrants should speak German not only in public but in the home as well.

The draft law has sparked outrage with dozens taking to social media to voice their dissent. Twitter users are commenting on the issue using the hashtag #YallaCSU. Yalla is an Arabic word that can be translated as “let’s go” and “hurry up”.” writes Ludovica Iaccino.

In German City Rich With History and Tragedy, Tide Rises Against Immigration

By ALISON SMALEDEC. 7, 2014

More refugees are seeking asylum in Germany than in any other country, straining Germans’ tolerance for foreigners and taxing the government’s ability to find housing for them.

DRESDEN, Germany — As it does every Advent, this history-laden city has erected the gift stalls, the glühwein stands and the Ferris wheel of Germany’s oldest Christmas market, around the Frauenkirche, the 18th-century church that was magnificently rebuilt after the Allies’ catastrophic bombing in 1945. But this year, there is tension behind the seasonal jollity.

For the past seven Mondays, people have taken up the battle cry of East Germans protesting their Communist government 25 years ago — “Wir sind das Volk!” (“We are the people!”) — and fashioned it into a lament about being overlooked by political leaders of the present.

Dresden’s demonstrators, echoing the populist fears coursing around Europe, are a motley mix of far right-wingers in the National Democratic Party, or N.P.D., young hooligans and ordinary folk who feel ignored as foreigners pour into Germany — at least 200,000 this year alone — seeking jobs or asylum.

Ahmad Mahayni, a Syrian refugee, had to leave his exiled family in Jordan in August so that he could fly to Berlin to seek asylum.

First hundreds, now thousands have responded to the summons from a previously unknown activist, Lutz Bachmann, 41, and an organization called Pegida, a German acronym for a title that translates roughly as Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West.
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On Monday, a record 7,500 showed up despite teeth-chattering cold, for an hour long march through Dresden’s center, a mix of grim Socialist architecture and gems of the pre-1945 past. National flags were flown. One placard said, “We miss our country,” while another demanded, “Protection of the Heimat,” or homeland, “not Islamization.”

Carefully kept at shouting distance by the police, several hundred opponents yelled their disagreement. “Refugees are welcome here!” they chanted in English before blocking the Pegida crowd from reaching Dresden’s famed Theater Square, bordered by the beautiful Semperoper opera house and the Zwinger museum, home to one of the finest European art collections.

Despite its rich culture and its present-day prosperity, Dresden is no stranger to right-wingers or hatred of foreigners. But as dissatisfaction simmers throughout Europe over the arrival of migrants, events in this city of 530,000 people have come as a surprise.

“They are clearly Nazis,” said Kathi Wetzel, 50, when asked at her food stall about the demonstrators, though, she added, the marches also swept up “simple hangers-on who don’t really know why they are going along.”

Martin Landseck, 32, pouring beer at another stand, took a far less definite attitude. “Let’s wait and see,” he said, about which side has the better case.

Clearly, Pegida has touched a nerve. In Germany, where the economy is still growing and more people have jobs than ever before, no equivalent has emerged to France’s Marine LePen and her populist National Front, and no leaders have ridden discontent to power like Prime Minister Victor Orban in Hungary.

The Islamization evoked by Pegida is hardly imminent, with only about 2 percent of the population in the Saxony region foreign, and only a fraction of those Muslim.

But right-wingers and soccer hooligans banded together in Cologne this fall and overran police officers in violent protests they said were aimed at Islamic extremism. Dresden is almost the anti-Cologne — determinedly antiviolent and careful in its fliers and patriotic placards to stay on the right side of laws banning hate speech — yet focused on many of the same targets.

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Nutcase Nicolai Sennels Still Posting on Rev. Deacon Robert Spencer’s JihadWatch

9 December, 2014 - 19:08

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Spencerwatch

For some years now Nicolai Sennels has been posting on Rev. Deacon Robert Spencer’s blog, JihadWatch. Sennels is very popular in the “counterjihad” movement that has spawned the likes of Anders Breivik and the EDL.

Sennels, in much the same way as earlier racist pseudo-scientists, focuses his Islamophobic output in his supposed field of expertise: psychology. These bona fides are supposed to be enough to lend credence to what is in effect Sennels’ new-age racist Scientism. Sennels theories claim in effect that Muslims are a racial group of inbreds who are genetically inferior to non-Muslims. For more on Sennels see Sheila Musaji’s excellent article at The American Muslim aptly titled, Nicolai Sennels’ Nazi Style Propaganda.

Of course we relay this as part of being the studious fact compilers we are, there is in reality no difference in the views Sennels and Spencer. That’s why he continues to write there.

Hindu Nationalist Girl’s Camp: We’ll Build Bombs, We’ll Shoot Dead Muslims, We’ll Reclaim India

8 December, 2014 - 22:22

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By Emperor

Hindutva, or Hindu Nationalism, which combines a fundamentalist understanding of Hinduism with Indian nationalism has been on the ascendancy for decades, culminating in the presidential victory of the fascist Narendra Modi.

Hindutva organizations are highly organized, they are also opponents of Hindus converting to either Christianity or Islam. They have spearheaded anti-conversion legislation in numerous states that prevent or make near impossible the conversion of a Hindu to another religion; often justifying it as a necessary measure to counteract the use of material incentives by missionaries.  However, they have no compunction themselves in aggressively offering monetary incentives to Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism in highly publicized ‘reconversion ceremonies.’

For years now Hindutva groups, such as the Sangh Parivar have been holding training camps for youth where they are indoctrinated in an ideology that has as its central doctrine the subjugation and elimination of non-Hindu religions.

The following video highlights the dehumanizing and violent indoctrination that Hindtuva groups are leaving on the impressionable minds of India’s young girls (h/t: Abu ‘Alimah).

Girls in the video can be seen speaking of their supremacist beliefs, their love and desire for fighting and killing non-Hindus. This sort of mentality has already caused significant damage in the past to relations between India’s various religious and ethnic groups and it promises to perpetuate hate and violence.:

Also read:

-Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer: Wipe Pakistan Off The Map

1,000 Years of Scientific Texts From The Islamic World Are Now Online

8 December, 2014 - 21:03

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A massive undertaking by the Qatar Digital Library that preserves a millennium of scientific work. (h/t: S. I.)

By Mark Strauss, io9 

Between the 9th and 19th centuries, Arabic-speaking scholars translated Greek, Latin and even Sanskrit texts on topics such as medicine, mathematics and astronomy, fostering a vibrant scientific culture within the Islamic world. Some of the most influential texts are now available at the Qatar Digital Library.

The library, a joint project of the British Library and the Qatar Foundation, offers free access to 25,000 pages of medieval Islamic manuscripts. Among some of the most significant texts:

The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices (1206 A.D.), which was inspired by an earlier, 9th-century translation of Archimedes’ writings on water clocks. Devices such as the “Elephant Clock” (pictured below) were the most accurate time-keeping pieces before the first pendulum clocks were built in the 17th century by the Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens.

1,000 Years of Scientific Texts From The Islamic World Are Now OnlineExpand

Another water clock design features balls dropping onto a cymbal from a bird’s head.

1,000 Years of Scientific Texts From The Islamic World Are Now OnlineExpand

This is one of the only three recorded copies of an influential treatise on the construction and use of astrolabes by Abū al-Rayḥān Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad al-Bīrūnī (973-1048), containing 122 diagrams.

1,000 Years of Scientific Texts From The Islamic World Are Now OnlineExpand

A translation (615 AD) of Ptolemy’s mathematical and astronomical treatise, The Almagest.

1,000 Years of Scientific Texts From The Islamic World Are Now OnlineExpand

An Arabic version of De Materia Medica, an encyclopedia of herbs and medicine written in the first century AD by Pedanius Dioscorides, a Greek-born, Roman physician. This translation was completed in Baghdad in 1334 A.D.

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Glenn Beck faces a lawsuit over his conspiracy theories on Boston Marathon bombing

8 December, 2014 - 20:53

American Broadcaster Glenn Beck Hosts Rally At Jerusalem's Western Wall

Glenn Beck must face a  lawsuit for his slander of a Saudi victim of the Boston Marathon bombing.

by Kyle Mantyla on Tuesday, 12/2/2014 2:54 pm

Following the Boston Marathon bombing last year, Glenn Beck set out on a mission to prove that the government was engaged in a massive conspiracy to cover up the truth, during which he repeatedly asserted that one of the victims who was injured in the attack was really an al Qaeda operative responsible for the bombing.

In the weeks following the bombing, Beck repeatedly insisted that Abdul Rahman Ali Alharbi, a spectator who was briefly considered to be a “person of interest” by investigators though quickly exonerated, was really an al Qaeda “control agent” and the “money man” who had financed the entire operation and had recruited the Tsarnaev brothers to carry it out.

In response to these unfounded claims, Alharbi eventually sued Beck for defamation and slander, and Beck’s lawyers responded by trying to get the lawsuit thrown out on the grounds that Alharbi was “involuntary public figure” which would require Alharbi to prove not simply that Beck made false accusations against him, but that he did so with “actual malice.”

Of course, it was Beck himself who continued to focus attention on Alharbi, meaning that Beck’s legal team was essentially arguing that Alharbi became a public figure as a result of Beck’s attacks … which they said means that Alharbi cannot now sue Beck for those very same attacks because he was a public figure.

Needless to say, this novel legal argument did not get very far with the federal judge hearing the case

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