Enough Apologies

Enough Apologies

Excellent observations from Anne Applebaum in, of all places, the Washington Post (thanks to Jeffrey Imm):

…we can all unite in our support for freedom of speech — surely the pope is allowed to quote from medieval texts — and of the press. And we can also unite, loudly, in our condemnation of violent, unprovoked attacks on churches, embassies and elderly nuns. By “we” I mean here the White House, the Vatican, the German Greens, the French Foreign Ministry, NATO, Greenpeace, Le Monde and Fox News — Western institutions of the left, the right and everything in between. True, these principles sound pretty elementary — “we’re pro-free speech and anti-gratuitous violence” — but in the days since the pope’s sermon, I don’t feel that I’ve heard them defended in anything like a unanimous chorus. A lot more time has been spent analyzing what the pontiff meant to say, or should have said, or might have said if he had been given better advice.All of which is simply beside the point, since nothing the pope has ever said comes even close to matching the vitriol, extremism and hatred that pour out of the mouths of radical imams and fanatical clerics every day, all across Europe and the Muslim world, almost none of which ever provokes any Western response at all. And maybe it’s time that it should: When Saudi Arabia publishes textbooks commanding good Wahhabi Muslims to “hate” Christians, Jews and non-Wahhabi Muslims, for example, why shouldn’t the Vatican, the Southern Baptists, Britain’s chief rabbi and the Council on American-Islamic Relations all condemn them — simultaneously?

CAIR, eh? Once again: don’t hold your breath, Anne.

Young children fight U.S. troops in Iraq

Young children fight U.S. troops in Iraq

Where are the human rights advocacy groups on this? From AP, with thanks to the Constantinopolitan Irredentist:

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Shiite militias are encouraging children — some as young as 6 or 7 — to hurl stones and gasoline bombs at U.S. convoys, hoping to lure American troops into ambushes or provoke them into shooting back, U.S. soldiers say.Gangs of up to 100 children assemble in Sadr City, stronghold of radical anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army militia, and in nearby neighborhoods, U.S. officers said in interviews this week.

American soldiers have seen young men, their faces covered by bandanas, talking with the children before the rock-throwing attacks begin — and sometimes handing out slingshots so the volleys will be more accurate, the troops said.

“It’s like a militia operation. They’ll mass rocks on the last or second-to-last vehicle” in a U.S. patrol, said Capt. Chris L’Heureux, 30, of Woonsocket, R.I. “There’s no doubt in my mind that they’re utilizing these kids in a deliberate, thought-out way.”

Al-Sadr’s followers insist they are not organizing attacks by children.

“Such behavior by Iraqi children is spontaneous and the natural reaction from innocent children who are witnessing horrible deeds committed by the occupation forces in Iraq,” Ali al-Yassiri, an aide to al-Sadr, told The Associated Press.

Sure, Ali. Tell me another.

Gazan Muslims Form Group to Attack Christian Targets

Defense/Middle East
Gazan Muslims Form Group to Attack Christian Targets
23:03 Sep 19, ’06 / 26 Elul 5766
by Ezra HaLevi
Muslims in Hamas-controlled Gaza have formed an ad hoc terrorist group promising to attack Christian targets to avenge the Pope’s choice of a quotation insinuating that Islam is prone to violence.
The group, which calls itself the “Army of guidance,” sent an announcement to news agencies based in Gaza saying that “every place relevant to Christians will be a target until the cursed infidel – the Vatican – apologizes to Muslims.”

Hardline Islamic groups were offended by the Pope’s citing of a Byzantine emperor who criticized Islam’s founder Mohammad’s command to spread Islamic faith by the sword.

Last Friday, the 1,400 year old St. Perfidious Greek Orthodox church in Gaza was among seven Christian targets burned or vandalized throughout PA-controlled areas.

Pope Benedict XVI has refused to apologize for merely citing quotations, but said he was “deeply sorry” for the Muslim reaction to the words – which he stressed do not constitute his own opinion.

Though touted as an apology by the Vatican’s own public relations team, Islamic leaders continue to demand submission from the leader of Catholicism.

The chief Islamic Mufti of Jerusalem Mohammed Hussein called the Pope’s statement of sorrow insufficient and demanded a “clear apology” Tuesday. He condemned attacks on churches but insisted the Pope himself is responsible for the Muslim violence.

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Twentieth Century Fox to offer as many as 12 films a year for Christian audiences

Fox to offer as many as 12 films a year for Christian audiences

Associated Press
The home video division of Twentieth Century Fox said Tuesday it will acquire as many as a dozen family friendly movies a year and market them under the FoxFaith banner.

With budgets of less than $5 million each, the films will be aimed at the same Christian audiences that helped boost box office receipts for such films as “The Passion of the Christ” and “The Chronicles of Narnia.”

“We saw the opportunity to fill the needs of an underserved marketplace,” said Steve Feldstein, senior vice president of marketing at Fox Home Video.

“All of this programming is entertainment first. We’re not in the business of proselytizing or preaching,” he said.

About half of the films will be distributed theatrically through a third-party company under a deal with two large theater chains, AMC Theatres and Carmike Cinemas. The rest will go directly to DVD.

The studio said last year it was forming the FoxFaith unit as part of a broader effort to reach audiences seeking family friendly films. Tuesday’s announcement brought specific details.

FoxFaith could be successful if it concentrates on the home video market rather than theatrical releases, which cost more to market and carry more risk, media analyst Harold Vogel said.

“My guess is that the real strategy is to build a DVD library,” Vogel said. “Those are the kind of things that will sell steadily over many years.”

The family friendly strategy was originally launched to sell a broad array of DVDs to retailers, including titles such as “Hello Dolly” and “My Friend Flicka” as well as “Love Comes Softly,” a film based on the books of popular Christian author Janette Oke.

Fox passed on the chance to distribute Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” theatrically. But the studio did distribute the DVD after the film grossed more than $600 million at the worldwide box office.

After the success of “Passion,” Hollywood studios made greater efforts to market family films to faith-based audiences. New Line, a division of Time Warner Inc., is releasing the film “Nativity” in December. The film tells the story of Christ’s birth.

Several studios have hired specialized firms to market their films directly to churches.

Fox has developed a network of 90,000 churches it will use to help market its FoxFaith films.

The first theatrical release to be marketed by the unit will be “Love’s Abiding Joy,” based on the fourth installment in the Janette Oke book series. FoxFaith will also be releasing “Color of the Cross,” a film that portrays Christ as a black man.




President Bush Addresses United Nations General Assembly

President Bush Addresses United Nations General Assembly
United Nations
New York, New York

     12:15 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Secretary General, Madam President, distinguished delegates, and ladies and gentlemen: I want to thank you for the privilege of speaking to this General Assembly.

Last week, America and the world marked the fifth anniversary of the attacks that filled another September morning with death and suffering. On that terrible day, extremists killed nearly 3,000 innocent people, including citizens of dozens of nations represented right here in this chamber. Since then, the enemies of humanity have continued their campaign of murder. Al Qaeda and those inspired by its extremist ideology have attacked more than two dozen nations. And recently a different group of extremists deliberately provoked a terrible conflict in Lebanon. At the start of the 21st century, it is clear that the world is engaged in a great ideological struggle, between extremists who use terror as a weapon to create fear, and moderate people who work for peace.

Five years ago, I stood at this podium and called on the community of nations to defend civilization and build a more hopeful future. This is still the great challenge of our time; it is the calling of our generation. This morning, I want to speak about the more hopeful world that is within our reach, a world beyond terror, where ordinary men and women are free to determine their own destiny, where the voices of moderation are empowered, and where the extremists are marginalized by the peaceful majority. This world can be ours if we seek it and if we work together.

The principles of this world beyond terror can be found in the very first sentence of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This document declares that the “equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom and justice and peace in the world.” One of the authors of this document was a Lebanese diplomat named Charles Malik, who would go on to become President of this Assembly. Mr. Malik insisted that these principles apply equally to all people, of all regions, of all religions, including the men and women of the Arab world that was his home.

In the nearly six decades since that document was approved, we have seen the forces of freedom and moderation transform entire continents. Sixty years after a terrible war, Europe is now whole, free, and at peace — and Asia has seen freedom progress and hundreds of millions of people lifted out of desperate poverty. The words of the Universal Declaration are as true today as they were when they were written. As liberty flourishes, nations grow in tolerance and hope and peace. And we’re seeing that bright future begin to take root in the broader Middle East.

Some of the changes in the Middle East have been dramatic, and we see the results in this chamber. Five years ago, Afghanistan was ruled by the brutal Taliban regime, and its seat in this body was contested. Now this seat is held by the freely elected government of Afghanistan, which is represented today by President Karzai. Five years ago, Iraq’s seat in this body was held by a dictator who killed his citizens, invaded his neighbors, and showed his contempt for the world by defying more than a dozen U.N. Security Council resolutions. Now Iraq’s seat is held by a democratic government that embodies the aspirations of the Iraq people, who’s represented today by President Talabani. With these changes, more than 50 million people have been given a voice in this chamber for the first time in decades.

Some of the changes in the Middle East are happening gradually, but they are real. Algeria has held its first competitive presidential election, and the military remained neutral. The United Arab Emirates recently announced that half of the seats in its Federal National Council will be chosen by elections. Kuwait held elections in which women were allowed to vote and run for office for the first time. Citizens have voted in municipal elections in Saudi Arabia, in parliamentary elections in Jordan and Bahrain, and in multiparty presidential elections in Yemen and Egypt. These are important steps, and the governments should continue to move forward with other reforms that show they trust their people. Every nation that travels the road to freedom moves at a different pace, and the democracies they build will reflect their own culture and traditions. But the destination is the same: A free society where people live at peace with each other and at peace with the world.

Some have argued that the democratic changes we’re seeing in the Middle East are destabilizing the region. This argument rests on a false assumption, that the Middle East was stable to begin with. The reality is that the stability we thought we saw in the Middle East was a mirage. For decades, millions of men and women in the region have been trapped in oppression and hopelessness. And these conditions left a generation disillusioned, and made this region a breeding ground for extremism.

Imagine what it’s like to be a young person living in a country that is not moving toward reform. You’re 21 years old, and while your peers in other parts of the world are casting their ballots for the first time, you are powerless to change the course of your government. While your peers in other parts of the world have received educations that prepare them for the opportunities of a global economy, you have been fed propaganda and conspiracy theories that blame others for your country’s shortcomings. And everywhere you turn, you hear extremists who tell you that you can escape your misery and regain your dignity through violence and terror and martyrdom. For many across the broader Middle East, this is the dismal choice presented every day.

Every civilized nation, including those in the Muslim world, must support those in the region who are offering a more hopeful alternative. We know that when people have a voice in their future, they are less likely to blow themselves up in suicide attacks. We know that when leaders are accountable to their people, they are more likely to seek national greatness in the achievements of their citizens, rather than in terror and conquest. So we must stand with democratic leaders and moderate reformers across the broader Middle East. We must give them voice to the hopes of decent men and women who want for their children the same things we want for ours. We must seek stability through a free and just Middle East where the extremists are marginalized by millions of citizens in control of their own destinies.

Today, I’d like to speak directly to the people across the broader Middle East: My country desires peace. Extremists in your midst spread propaganda claiming that the West is engaged in a war against Islam. This propaganda is false, and its purpose is to confuse you and justify acts of terror. We respect Islam, but we will protect our people from those who pervert Islam to sow death and destruction. Our goal is to help you build a more tolerant and hopeful society that honors people of all faiths and promote the peace.

To the people of Iraq: Nearly 12 million of you braved the car bombers and assassins last December to vote in free elections. The world saw you hold up purple ink-stained fingers, and your courage filled us with admiration. You’ve stood firm in the face of horrendous acts of terror and sectarian violence — and we will not abandon you in your struggle to build a free nation. America and our coalition partners will continue to stand with the democratic government you elected. We will continue to help you secure the international assistance and investment you need to create jobs and opportunity, working with the United Nations and through the International Compact with Iraq endorsed here in New York yesterday. We will continue to train those of you who stepped forward to fight the enemies of freedom. We will not yield the future of your country to terrorists and extremists. In return, your leaders must rise to the challenges your country is facing, and make difficult choices to bring security and prosperity. Working together, we will help your democracy succeed, so it can become a beacon of hope for millions in the Muslim world.

To the people of Afghanistan: Together, we overthrew the Taliban regime that brought misery into your lives and harbored terrorists who brought death to the citizens of many nations. Since then, we have watched you choose your leaders in free elections and build a democratic government. You can be proud of these achievements. We respect your courage, and your determination to live in peace and freedom. We will continue to stand with you to defend your democratic gains. Today forces from more than 40 countries, including members of the NATO Alliance, are bravely serving side-by-side with you against the extremists who want to bring down the free government you’ve established. We’ll help you defeat these enemies and build a free Afghanistan that will never again oppress you, or be a safe haven for terrorists.

To the people of Lebanon: Last year, you inspired the world when you came out into the streets to demand your independence from Syrian dominance. You drove Syrian forces from your country and you reestablished democracy. Since then, you have been tested by the fighting that began with Hezbollah’s unprovoked attacks on Israel. Many of you have seen your homes and communities caught in crossfire. We see your suffering, and the world is helping you to rebuild your country, and helping you deal with the armed extremists who are undermining your democracy by acting as a state within a state. The United Nations has passed a good resolution that has authorized an international force, led by France and Italy, to help you restore Lebanese sovereignty over Lebanese soil. For many years, Lebanon was a model of democracy and pluralism and openness in the region — and it will be again.

To the people of Iran: The United States respects you; we respect your country. We admire your rich history, your vibrant culture, and your many contributions to civilization. You deserve an opportunity to determine your own future, an economy that rewards your intelligence and your talents, and a society that allows you to fulfill your tremendous potential. The greatest obstacle to this future is that your rulers have chosen to deny you liberty and to use your nation’s resources to fund terrorism, and fuel extremism, and pursue nuclear weapons. The United Nations has passed a clear resolution requiring that the regime in Tehran meet its international obligations. Iran must abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions. Despite what the regime tells you, we have no objection to Iran’s pursuit of a truly peaceful nuclear power program. We’re working toward a diplomatic solution to this crisis. And as we do, we look to the day when you can live in freedom — and America and Iran can be good friends and close partners in the cause of peace.

To the people of Syria: Your land is home to a great people with a proud tradition of learning and commerce. Today your rulers have allowed your country to become a crossroad for terrorism. In your midst, Hamas and Hezbollah are working to destabilize the region, and your government is turning your country into a tool of Iran. This is increasing your country’s isolation from the world. Your government must choose a better way forward by ending its support for terror, and living in peace with your neighbors, and opening the way to a better life for you and your families.

To the people of Darfur: You have suffered unspeakable violence, and my nation has called these atrocities what they are — genocide. For the last two years, America joined with the international community to provide emergency food aid and support for an African Union peacekeeping force. Yet your suffering continues. The world must step forward to provide additional humanitarian aid — and we must strengthen the African Union force that has done good work, but is not strong enough to protect you. The Security Council has approved a resolution that would transform the African Union force into a blue-helmeted force that is larger and more robust. To increase its strength and effectiveness, NATO nations should provide logistics and other support. The regime in Khartoum is stopping the deployment of this force. If the Sudanese government does not approve this peacekeeping force quickly, the United Nations must act. Your lives and the credibility of the United Nations is at stake. So today I’m announcing that I’m naming a Presidential Special Envoy — former USAID Administrator Andrew Natsios — to lead America’s efforts to resolve the outstanding disputes and help bring peace to your land.

The world must also stand up for peace in the Holy Land. I’m committed to two democratic states — Israel and Palestine — living side-by-side in peace and security. I’m committed to a Palestinian state that has territorial integrity and will live peacefully with the Jewish state of Israel. This is the vision set forth in the road map — and helping the parties reach this goal is one of the great objectives of my presidency. The Palestinian people have suffered from decades of corruption and violence and the daily humiliation of occupation. Israeli citizens have endured brutal acts of terrorism and constant fear of attack since the birth of their nation. Many brave men and women have made the commitment to peace. Yet extremists in the region are stirring up hatred and trying to prevent these moderate voices from prevailing.

This struggle is unfolding in the Palestinian territories. Earlier this year, the Palestinian people voted in a free election. The leaders of Hamas campaigned on a platform of ending corruption and improving the lives of the Palestinian people, and they prevailed. The world is waiting to see whether the Hamas government will follow through on its promises, or pursue an extremist agenda. And the world has sent a clear message to the leaders of Hamas: Serve the interests of the Palestinian people. Abandon terror, recognize Israel’s right to exist, honor agreements, and work for peace.

President Abbas is committed to peace, and to his people’s aspirations for a state of their own. Prime Minister Olmert is committed to peace, and has said he intends to meet with President Abbas to make real progress on the outstanding issues between them. I believe peace can be achieved, and that a democratic Palestinian state is possible. I hear from leaders in the region who want to help. I’ve directed Secretary of State Rice to lead a diplomatic effort to engage moderate leaders across the region, to help the Palestinians reform their security services, and support Israeli and Palestinian leaders in their efforts to come together to resolve their differences. Prime Minister Blair has indicated that his country will work with partners in Europe to help strengthen the governing institutions of the Palestinian administration. We welcome his initiative. Countries like Saudi Arabia and Jordan and Egypt have made clear they’re willing to contribute the diplomatic and financial assistance necessary to help these efforts succeed. I’m optimistic that by supporting the forces of democracy and moderation, we can help Israelis and Palestinians build a more hopeful future and achieve the peace in a Holy Land we all want.

Freedom, by its nature, cannot be imposed — it must be chosen. From Beirut to Baghdad, people are making the choice for freedom. And the nations gathered in this chamber must make a choice, as well: Will we support the moderates and reformers who are working for change across the Middle East — or will we yield the future to the terrorists and extremists? America has made its choice: We will stand with the moderates and reformers.

Recently a courageous group of Arab and Muslim intellectuals wrote me a letter. In it, they said this: “The shore of reform is the only one on which any lights appear, even though the journey demands courage and patience and perseverance.” The United Nations was created to make that journey possible. Together we must support the dreams of good and decent people who are working to transform a troubled region — and by doing so, we will advance the high ideals on which this institution was founded.

Thank you for your time. God bless.

The unholy past of the Muslim cleric demanding the Pope’s execution

The unholy past of the Muslim cleric demanding the Pope’s execution 19.09.06 Add your view Choudary: Refuses to discuss his dissolute youth At 39, Anjem Choudary should be a symbol of success for his peers. Born into the working-class family of a market trader in Welling on the outskirts of London, he has risen – thanks to the opportunities offered by the British education system – to become a qualified lawyer. But it is unlikely his old school will be inviting him to be guest speaker on prize-giving day. Their former pupil is not famous for his elegant oratory in court. Instead, the articulate Mr Choudary preaches hatred and murder in the streets of Britain to the next generation of young, impressionable Muslims. See also… • Police to probe anti-Pope protest This week he stood outside Westminster Cathedral in central London to call for the execution of the Pope as punishment for ‘insulting Islam’. He fulminated against Pope Benedict XVl, adding: “Whoever insults the message of Mohammed is going to be subject to capital punishment.” It’s a long way from his days as a medical student at Southampton University, where, friends say, he drank, indulged in casual sex, smoked cannabis and even took LSD. He called himself ‘Andy’ and was famed for his ability to drink a pint of cider in a few seconds. One former acquaintance said: “At parties, like the rest of us, he was rarely without a joint. The morning after one party, I can remember him getting all the roaches (butts) from the spliffs we had smoked the night before out of the ashtrays, cutting them up and making a new one out of the leftovers. “He would say he was a Muslim and was proud of his Pakistani heritage, but he did-n’t seem to attend any of the mosques in Southampton, and I only knew of him having white girlfriends. He certainly shared a bed with them.” On one occasion, ‘Andy’ and a friend took LSD together. The friend said: “We took far too much and were hallucinating for 20 hours.” The only sign of religious fervour came in flashes of anger over Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses. A friend from that time said: “You didn’t want to get him started on that. He would go on and on about the fatwa and he supported calls for the book to be banned. But he would have a glass of cider in his hand when he was carrying on about it.” Choudary failed his first-year exams, switched from medicine to commercial law and did his final year as a law student at Guildford, from 1990 to 1991, before moving to London. There his legal career stalled briefly and he filled in his time by teaching English as a foreign language in one of the many colleges off Oxford Street. But eventually, he found a position with a firm of solicitors and began completing his qualifications to become a lawyer. His personal life blossomed too. In 1996, aged 29, he married Rubana Akhtar and started a family. The couple, who settled in East London, have a daughter aged eight, and sons aged six and one. Then he met the cleric Sheik Omar Bakri Mohammed at a mosque in Woolwich. Bakri, who is now banned from returning to Britain from Lebanon, had formed Al Muhajiroun, committed to the creation of a worldwide Islamic state, and Choudary quickly became a leading light in the group and its successor organisation, Al Ghurabaa. He is no longer a practising solicitor and has left his wife and children to concentrate on his extreme brand of Islam. It was Choudary who organised the Danish Embassy protests over the cartoons of the prophet Mohammed earlier this year, at which demonstrators dressed as suicide bombers and banners proclaimed: ‘Behead Those Who Insult Islam’. He lauded the September 11 hijackers as ‘magnificent martyrs’ and praised Asif Hanif, the British suicide bomber who killed three in Tel Aviv in 2003. After the July 7 atrocities in London, he vowed he would not tell the police if he knew a terror attack was being planned and urged Muslims to defend themselves against perceived attacks by ‘whatever means they have at their disposal’. His shocking pronouncements could be dismissed by some as the rantings of a mind clouded by religious fervour but Choudary has an audience and, at a time of increasing disaffection among young British Muslims, his activities are carefully monitored by Special Branch. A security source said: “He is not seen as premier league because he is so conspicuous. He is seen as an irritant but with a potential to inspire impressionable youngsters to go that one stage further.” Despite his hatred of all things British – he says: “If British means adopting British values, then I don’t think we can adopt British values. I’m a Muslim living in Britain. I have a British passport, but that’s a travel document to me” – he and his family live on state benefits. Rubana is said by friends to claim £1,700 a month in housing benefit and income support while Choudary has also claimed £202 a month in income support. Yesterday, Choudary declined to talk about his past dissolute life, dismissing it as ‘irrelevant’. He said: “I was born a Muslim and I have done my best to be a good Muslim all my life.” And the drugs and alcohol? “That’s not really part of what’s happening in the world today. Anyway, it is all fabricated. It is complete nonsense. “My personal family situation and background is irrelevant to the situation in which we live. I can talk about politics and Islam but I don’t want to talk about my personal life.” He was too busy to answer any further questions. He now belongs to a sect he refuses to name and continues to deny any direct involvement in terrorism. In a recent interview, he said: “Do I know how to make liquid explosives? No, I’m not military-trained. I can make an omelette.” A flippant remark from one whose extremism is so laced with threats of violence.

Editor of Kuwaiti Daily Warns Iranian President Ahmadinejad: ‘Arrogance is a Very Dangerous Disease’

Editor of Kuwaiti Daily Warns Iranian President Ahmadinejad: ‘Arrogance is a Very Dangerous Disease’ In a September 14, 2006 op-ed in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa, editor-in-chief Ahmed Al-Jarallah criticizedIranian President Ahmadinejad and warned, “We don’t want Iran to become a victim of its own arrogance and meet the same fate of Japan, which was defeated in World War II.” The following is Al-Jarallah’s op-ed as it appeared in the original English. “It appears Iran has opened three fronts in the eastern part of the Middle East and is increasing or decreasing the heat in Iraq, Lebanon, and the Gulf region depending on the pressure on its nuclear program. Currently all these fronts are on high alert as Iran’s confrontation with the international community has reached a peak and the deadline for imposing sanctions and punishment has come close. “Tehran’s battlefront in Iraq extends all the way to the south. The recent firing along Kuwait’s borders with Iraq, coinciding with the visit of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to Tehran and his warning to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is raising suspicions. Ahmadinejad’s choice of the Cold War language indicates Iran’s internal situation is dangerous because of its economy, which is in crisis. “With his extremist methods and by creating international and regional disputes the Iranian President is trying to divert the attention of his people from the internal crisis. This was evident when Ahmadinejad accused Gulf states of standing with the international community and threatened to burn the entire Gulf region if people of the region dared to stand in the way of Tehran’s nuclear program. “Ahmadinejad has no right to accuse Gulf states or impose his authority over them. We see his threats as a ‘killing arrogance,’ which will eventually end him, because these cannot be considered a politically noble or a wise move. All of us remember how the Gulf states stood against the Shah of Iran when he was trying to play the role of a regional policeman. We also remember how the Ayatollah Ali Al-Khomeini’s Islamic revolution ended the Shah’s dreams. “Now Ahmadinejad wants to play the same role while trying to convince us that the Islamic Revolution in Iran was not meant to implement the aggressive and greedy policies of Tehran to expand its influence all over the Gulf. Ahmadinejad, who represents the peak of Persian ambitions, is acting the role of a regional policeman with such arrogance that he has challenged US President George Bush to a debate. The President of Iran wants to debate the issue of reforming the international system when he is incapable of reforming the system in his own country. “We say these words because Iran is an important neighboring country, which should play a cooperative role in tune with the importance of this strategic region. We don’t want Iran to become a victim of its own arrogance and meet the same fate of Japan, which was defeated in the World War II following the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Iran should know even a small spark can ignite a huge fire. World War I was the result of the assassination of the Austrian Crown Prince and World War II was sparked by the ambitions of Adolf Hitler. “We don’t want Ahmadinejad’s name to be included in the list of those, who caused the killing of their own people or participated in crimes against humanity. We are sorry to note that in such an important region, which is rich in oil and natural gas, some adventurous leaders are willing to jeopardize peace by accusing others of being agents without any proof. These leaders must remember arrogance is a very dangerous disease.”

Voluntary Interviews Instead Of Forced TV Confessions

By Safa Haeri
Posted Monday, September 4, 2006

Paris, 4 Sept. (IPS) In a dramatic change of methods, the Islamic Republic has replaced the decades-long humiliating, shameful, degrading but above all unproductive broadcast on radio and televisions of confessions obtained from dissidents in prisons by “voluntary interviews”, as seen by the interview “offered voluntarily” by Mr. Ramin Jahanbaglou, the prominent Iranian scholar, philosopher and researcher to the semi-official ISNA news agency on 31 July 2006.

“A very excited, agitated man stormed the Agency, almost shouting I’m Dr. Ramin Jahanbaglou. I wanted to be interviewed. I’ve just been released from Evin” (prison).

This is how the Iranian Students News Agency described the arrival of Mr. Jahanbaglou at the agency’s head quarters in Tehran, “immediately after being freed on bail and even before going to his family and then for a much needed rest and peace “far from the media”.

I was arrested on 25 April and I accepted the charges of acting against national security and having contacts with foreigners

The arrest of the scholar, who has also a Canadian citizenship on 25 April on his landing in Tehran coming from India provoked an international outcry, with hundreds of Iranian intellectuals inside and outside the country signing petitions and international human rights organization urging the Iranian authorities for his “immediate and unconditional release”.

In his first public interview with Iranian news agencies one week after the arest, Intelligence Minister Hojjatoleslam Qolamhoseyn Mohseni Ezhe’i revealed that the university professor was arrested “on suspicion of assisting the U.S. in its efforts to provoke a velvet revolution in Iran”.

“I was arrested on 25 April and I accepted the charges of acting against national security and having contacts with foreigners”, Mr. Jahanbaglou told the three female journalists, adding immediately, “I was freed today. Honestly, I knew that people from all over the world would begin calling me as soon as I got home. I wanted to speak to someone to calm down”, he said, repeating and reiterating that during the four months he spent at Evin prison, he was “never treated harshly”.

“One prefers to speak on his own accord than to be compelled to talk to the media under pressure”, he said, explaining his strange decision to come to ISNA and “emptying himself”. “The interrogators were very polite to me and I was never treated in an inappropriate manner”, he insisted, adding “I accepted the charges of acting against national security and having contacts with foreigners. But I did not accept the charge of espionage”.

According to many Iranian intellectuals who had been in prison in Iran and subjected to the previous methods of forced “confessions”, what Mr. Jahanbaglou told ISNA is “exactly the same thing he would have said in a televised confession. The difference is that what he did is, in the view of the new men in charge of the dissidents, this kind of “instant interview” is more convincling.

“But Mr. Jahanbaglou’s interview does not fool anyone”, said Mr. Ali Keshtgar, the Editor of the monthly “Mihan” magazine in Paris, in an article entitled: “What the Evin University Did With Mr. Jahanbaglou?”, a reference to the authorities that call the notorious Evin prison as a “university”.

“I used to write articles about Iran and the Middle East in some Web sites which I was not aware were linked to intelligence services. I was sliding gradually, from what I thought was intellectual researches and works to what it was really: political activities against the interests of my country”, the philosopher admitted.

“I was not subjected to any physical and mental pressures. My interrogators were polite. They told me that I had contacts with such and such and I told them yes. They asked me if I thought I was acting against national interests, and I said I was acting against national interests… I was arrested for having ties to U.S. organizations”, Mr. Jahanbaglou added.

Continuing relentlessly, as ISNA put it, Mr. Jahanbaglou said: “I had ties to American organizations from 2001 to 2006. In fact, one particular organization, which offers scholarships and organizes events, invited me to some of its conferences. There I came into contact with some U.S. State Department officials as well as others. At some of the conferences I attended there were a number of American and Zionist intelligence agents. These contacts continued until finally, in one of my trips to attend a conference in Europe, I met a former advisor to Clinton who was also the head of the German Marshall Fund”.

“They (the Americans) take various NGO members abroad to educate them. Recently, some people have been officially invited to be trained in the U.S. under the pretext of attending scientific seminars or for business or employment. The initial financial assistance given to them is not enough to arouse the suspicion that they have been invited to be trained as spies”, Mr. Mohseni Ezhe’i had claimed during his press conference about the reasons behind Mr. Jahanbaglou’s arrest.

“My arrest had to do with “velvet revolutions”, explained the scholar, “and there were concerns about the people that I had invited to Iran. The German Marshall Fund had proposed a grant for a comparative research project on the role of Eastern European intellectuals and civil society in bringing down communism. The problem was to find ways of empowering intellectuals and non-governmental organizations in Iran”.

“Colour, Velvet, Orange revolutions”. This is exactly what Mr. Mohseni Ezheh’i had said in his press conference, charging Mr. Jahanbaglou “on suspicion of assisting the U.S. in its efforts to provoke a velvet revolution in Iran.

“The importance of means at the disposal of Mr. Jahanbaglou as well as his relations and communications attracted the attention of the (Intelligence) Ministry of him. Some of his activities were absolutely organized and organizational, point out to his mission”, the Intelligence Minister had then said.

If at that time, Mr. Mohseni Ezhe’i did not produced any documents proving Mr. Jahanbaglou’s involvement in any illegal political activity, four months latter, the professor bring them out of his sleeve, saying: “I accepted acting against national security through having contacts with foreigners and being part of a network. I accepted the charge of acting against national security but did not know that what I was doing was against national security”.

“What Mr. Jahanbaglou has said in his interview is exactly in line with the spirit of the leader, Ali Khameneh’i or the President, Ahmadi Nezhad

“In my opinion,” Jahanbegloo continued, “at least part of the scholarly community and elements within the civil society are in danger of doing what I did. I see many who receive conference invitations and grants, and who are contacted by American organizations. It is possible for them too to become part of networks that undermine national interests and what can be called ‘Iranian values.’ I am talking about civil society in general. Even those within the government can fall into this trap unknowingly”.

“What Mr. Jahanbaglou has said in his interview is exactly in line with the spirit of the leader, Ali Khameneh’i or the President, Ahmadi Nezhad, the theory of plots, warning Iranians, particularly the intelligentsia, against meeting anyone who is not a “khodi” (one of ours) because they are all enemies of Islam and the Islamic Republic”, points out Mr. Keshtgar, asking “how comes that an intelligent man like Mr. Jahanbaglou has not realized, as he says, what kind of people come to his lectures until he went to the Evin University?

In fact, in his interview with ISNA, Mr. Jahanbaglou, a graduate of the prestigious French Sorbonne University and other leading cultural and scientific institutions, warns Iranian scholars and intellectuals against attending international conferences organized by Western NGOs or other think tank centres or universities, “where one might meet American or Zionist agents disguised as researchers or scientists, a capacity some of them have”.

“They (NGOs and research foundations) had placed me in a path that I lately realized I’m caught in a chain of events. This could await others, as I was going to conferences where intelligent agents and Zionist elements were also present”, he admits, using the word “Zionist” which is the usual jargon employed by Iranian officials to designate Israelis.

“In his (Khameneh’i) sick mind, the Enemy” is not America per se. It is a secret group of people, let’s say some 15 to 20 members from Western nations, all without visage, probably directed by a Zionist and flanked by an American and a British Jew, acting against the whole world, including the United States, but particularly against Islam and the present Islamic regime of Iran”, explains Mr. Mohsen Sazegara, a former founder of the Revolutionary Guards turned dissidents and struggling for a “smooth regime change”.

Asked why he has lost weight, Mr. Jahanbaglou says “prison environment has its own conditions”, but quickly adds that after the fist month he spent in solitary confinement, he was treated “well, access to radio, television and newspapers. Even things for writing. Food was all right and surprised see everyone has access to good medicare”.

In his ISNA “voluntary interview”, Mr. Jahanbaglou, interestingly denied reports of having confessed on tape while in custody, asking angrily, “Who has claimed such a thing? In any case, no one from the judiciary talked to me about such a thing and I decided to talk on my own”, he said, referring to the Attorney General Dorri Najafabadi stating two weeks ago that the scholar had accepted his confessions being tapped and that the confessions would be released soon on State Television.

“Jahanbegloo has agreed to broadcast his confessions on national television,” Najaf-Abadi told reporters, “whether or not they would be broadcasted, that’s another issue.” In a separate interview, the judiciary’s spokesman, Karimi Rad, confirmed that a taped confession had been made. Prior to these interviews, hardliner daily Resalat had reported that Jahanbegloo’s confession tape had been screened at a certain “cultural” institution (the “Supreme Council for Cultural Revolution,” some analysts speculated), the London and Paris-based internet newspaper “Rooz” (Day) close to the reformers said.

“My real plan now is to return to the original project that I was working on prior to my arrest. I had traveled to India to study the culture. I want to go back to India and, god willing, publish my research in one or two volumes. That will take up a couple of years of my time”.

“What they have done to Jahanbaglou to confess exactly same things as Keyhan (hard line newspaper, a mouthpiece of Mr. Khameneh’i), corresponding exactly to the sickening plot theory of the leader and Ahmadi Nezhad?” asked Mr. Keshtgar, adding :This kind of interviews is the same old televised confessions under different name”. ENDS JAHANBAGLOU CONFESSIONS 4906

One Last Nail To The Coffin Of Independent Media in Iran

By Safa Haeri
Posted Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Paris, 13 Sept. (IPS) In one of its latest and most dramatic act of pressure against Iranian independent media, the authorities in the Islamic Republic closed down the country’s most influential and popular newspaper “Sharq” (Orient) on Monday.

The order was issued by the Government-controlled Press Supervisory Board, charging the pro-reform, mass circulation daily with a string of accusations, including “publication of blasphematory articles not in line with Islam, propagation of articles harmful to the Islamic Republic, prostitution, printing of pictures and photographs against public order, creating division among population by debates about ethnic and racial issues etc..”.

The donkey, an animal that in Iranian culture symbolises ignorance, naivety, stubbornness and craziness.

However, most Iranian political analysts, including some of the journalists at the paper said the most important thing that the Government did not like was a cartoon printed last week showing a chess board where a horse and a donkey, with a halo of light around its head are debating the regime’s handling of nuclear issue with the West.

Though cartoonists say the halo is not a halo, but an effect to separate the animals heads, it seems that the censors at the Iranian judiciary have made a rapprochement between the donkey of the cartoon with President Mahmoud Ahmadi Nezhad’s talks last year to a senior cleric telling him when he was addressing the (last) United Nations General Assembly in New York and telling the audience about Mehdi, the Shi’ates hidden imam, suddenly a light descended on the vast room.

[The donkey, an animal that in Iranian culture symbolises ignorance, naivety, stubbornness and craziness, has its mouth open and light around him, while the horse shows no emotion].

“The closure of Sharq has no legal ground and on behalf of the Iranian Professional Journalists Association, we say that the Government of Mr. Ahmadi Nezhad has no regard for laws and acts on personal motivations in closing Sharq and (the monthly) Nameh (Letter)”, said Mr. Masha’allah Shamsolva’ezin, the Association’s spokesman and a veteran journalist.

“We are in a vicious circle, for, as a result of these pressures, closures and crackdowns, more Iranian intellectuals, journalists, scholars and others take refuge with outside-based media to express themselves and are immediately accused of collaboration with foreign media and arrested”, he told the 24 hours, Farsi-language Radio Farda, the Persian offshoot of Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty, based in Prague.

The closure of Sharq did not came as a surprise, as, in the one hand, the Government had urged the Judiciary not tolerate any criticism of the Ahmadi Nezhad Administration by the press and on the other, the paper had been under growing pressure by the Press Supervisory Board to change its managing director, Mr. Mehdi Rahmanian, a call that Mr. Shamsolva’ezin said was “almost unprecedented”.

State-run television said Sharq was shut because it failed to appoint a new managing director to “more aggressively supervise material published in the paper.”

Mr. Rahmanian, denounced such a demand, saying “Pressure on the press to change their managing director is illegal. The law doesn’t allow the board to make such a demand” he said.

“What is surprising is that Sharq had not been closed before, considering the man who is in charge of the press and publications”, one outside based journalist observed, referring to Mr. Saffa Harandi, a former deputy Editor of the hard line newspaper Keyhan, appointed by Mr. Ahmadi Nezhad as Minister for Islamic Culture and Guidance.

The paper, a mouthpiece of Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i, the megalomanica, egocentric leader of the Islamic Republic, who appointed Mr. Hoseyn Shari’atmadari, a security officer specializing in interrogating political dissidents and intellectuals as its Editor, is considered as politically the most vicious, repulsive, cynic, dangerous newspapers in the world, not hesitating publish completely fabricated articles to kill dissidents, particularly those not in line with Mr. Khameneh’i.

An example is the series of front page articles published on 12 September “proving” that the 11 September 2001 crushing of airplanes in the World Trade Centre twin towers was hatched at the White House.

“What Mr. Khameneh’i like, and Mr. Saffar Harrandi is executing, is having the Iranian media tailored after Keyhan”. The incriminated cartoon was a pretext to invade the last barricade of the reformists in Iran”, the journalist, himself one of he victims of Keyhan, pointed out.

Iran’s official news agency reported the paper was ordered closed down for “dozens of violations,” including the cartoon’s publication and “publication of material against the rulings by the Supreme National Security Council.” The council handles Iran’s nuclear negotiations with the West.

But informed sources told Iran Press Service that Sharq was closed after the Judiciary got the confirmation from Mr. Khameneh’i.

What is surprising is that Sharq had not been closed before.

“Considering the immense popularity and the influence of the paper, its closure was not an easy decision to take, for, no doubt, it badly harms the image of a President who portrays his Government of the Administration of compassion, love, Justice and tolerance beyond repair”, they commented, reminding that Mr. Ahmadi Nezhad has purged dozens of journalists, university professors and government officials seen as supporting reforms.

“I think one of the reasons the authorities decided to shut Sharq is that interior and exterior conditions are placing the government in a corner. In response to growing domestic and outside pressures, the Government see no other escape than closing political and social atmospheres at home, allowing no debate, tolerating no criticism”, Mr. Isa Saharkhiz, a nationalist-religious journalist and a former director of the Guidance Ministry under the first presidency of Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Khatami told the internet newspaper “Rooz” (Day), edited in London and Paris.

“In recent months, nuclear officials have been warning the press to be careful over what they publish over Iran’s nuclear policy and not write anything that contradicts what they do”, reformist lawmaker Esma’il Gerami Moqadam told the Associated Press.

“From the letter wrote by Mr. Qolamhoseyn Elham (the Government’s official spokesman) to Mr. Sa’id Mortazavi (Tehran’s Public Prosecutor and the Head of the Capital’s Islamic Revolution tribunal) to crackdown on the media critical of the actions of the Government, it was visible that one goes towards a severe repression against the independent press”, Mr. Saharkhiz said, adding that in his view, one should expect more crackdown and pressures over the reformist media.

“The Government’s political and economic plans have all failed and the international atmosphere is also against the present administration. The best solution in the view of the officials is to restrict as much as possible the limited space for debating major issues like the controversial nuclear problem. At the beginning, they (government) started with telling the papers what not to write about and ended by telling them what to write, as seen by the latest decision of the Supreme Council on National Security telling the papers not to quote any source except some Iranian news agencies all close or sponsored or controlled by the Government”, he observed.

Sharq’s growing popularity and some recent events the paper organized, like celebrating one hundred years of Iran’s first Constitution, the celebration of the paper’s third year in existence, some of its very popular editorials and comments by mostly reformist personalities, commentators, scholars, diplomats etc all were subjects not liked by Mr. Khameneh’I and his sycophants like Ahmadi Nezhad.

Mr. Mohammad Qouchani, a young and talented journalist who was taken as the paper’s Editor masterly brought in a number of what was left of professional newsmen and reporters. “Sharq has come to remain” he promised in his first editorial and in order to remain under the suffocating atmosphere, he walked carefully, avoiding sensitive issues to the point to be tagged by opponents and friends alike as being too conservative or close to some influential clerical circles.

“The closure of Sharq is frightening on two accounts, one because if they (authorities) can not tolerate a paper that was very careful and moderate, then what is that they can tolerate and on the second account, if this is the way they treat a newspaper that has adopted the principle of tolerance and accommodation instead of antagonism and confrontation, then what way remains for the intelligentsia community”, asked Mr. Ahmad Zeydabadi, another reformist journalist.

The Press Supervisory Board also ordered the political monthly “Nameh”, or Letter and “Yase No”, to be closed down, IRNA reported Monday.

The paper’s editor, Majid Tavalla’i, said the reason behind the closure was the publication of a poem from Ms. Simin Behbahani, a national poet about war

“Publication of the poem is seen as the main reason for the closure. They have taken that as an insult (to victims of Iran-Iraq War)”, Mr. Tavalla’i said.

Both Ahmadi Nezhad and Ayatollah Khameneh’i appear on a list of “press freedom predators”

A Yas-e No employee said the papers were padlocked by prosecutors later on Wednesday, and the sign on the building where the paper operates from was torn down.

Echoing the rhetoric of the nation’s 1979 Islamic revolution, Ahmadi Nezhad, a fanatic Shi’a Muslim, appears determined to remake Iran by reviving the fundamentalist goals pursued under the republic’s late founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Upon taking office last year, the hard line, anti-Western, anti-Israeli president replaced nearly all his country’s governors and lower provincial officials, as well as 40 ambassadors. Many of Iran’s top government officials are now either former commanders of the elite Revolutionary Guards or former hard-line security officials.

Last week, he urged students to push for a purge of liberal, secular university teachers, and dozens of such instructors have been sent into early retirement during Ahmadi Nezhad’s rule.

Both Ahmadi Nezhad and Ayatollah Khameneh’i appear on a list of “press freedom predators” compiled by the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders each year.

On orders from the leader, the Judiciary shut down more than 200 newspapers, weeklies and other periodicals between 1999 and 2001, most of them pro reform or independent. ENDS SHARQ CLOSED 13906

Muslims Prove Papal Infallibility

Muslims Prove Papal Infallibility
By Alan W. Dowd
FrontPageMagazine.com | September 19, 2006

It still sounds like some sort of sick, unfunny joke, but we began this year with mobs of angry Muslims rampaging through Europe, the Middle East and Asia in deadly protests over a cartoon—yes, a cartoon. Now, many in the Islamic world are lashing out over an academic lecture ironically about the compatibility of faith and reason—a lecture presented by a pope eager to promote dialogue between Islam and Christianity. Indeed, in apologizing on Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI noted that “the true meaning of my address…was and is an invitation to frank and sincere dialogue, with great mutual respect.” But predictably, the pope’s apology is not enough for many in the Islamic world. The episode says more about Islam’s leaders than it does about Christendom’s. The offending phrase used by the pope is actually a quote from a 14th-century discussion between a Christian Byzantine emperor and a Muslim scholar in which the former impugns efforts to grow and spread Islam by the sword. “Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new,” the emperor declared, “and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” By citing the quote, the pope certainly invited listeners to consider the problem of spreading faith through violence—a timely issue. Even so, the pope did not endorse the quote, a fact underscored by his reference to the “startling brusqueness” of the emperor’s comment. Neither was he seeking to offend or condescend to Islam. To the contrary, his speech credits Islam for its faithfulness to the omnipotence of God. “For Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent,” the pope explains. “His will is not bound up with any of our categories.” Neither was the quote central to the pope’s lecture. The pope was talking about the age-old struggle between reason and faith—a struggle Christianity and Judaism know well. “The inner rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek philosophical inquiry,” he concludes, “was an event of decisive importance not only from the standpoint of the history of religions, but also from that of world history—it is an event which concerns us even today. Given this convergence, it is not surprising that Christianity, despite its origins and some significant developments in the East, finally took on its historically decisive character in Europe.” Those are the facts about his speech. But the facts do not matter, at least not within the Islamic world, which, according to the Washington Post, “feels besieged in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.” Really? Who knew Manhattan, Shanksville, Washington, Netanya, Haifa, Bali, Beslan, London, and Madrid were part of the “Islamic world”?

In any event, the world’s top Shiite cleric demanded a personal apology from the pope “for this false reading” of Islam. One wonders if he even read the pope’s speech, which actually calls on people of all faiths to recognize the “breadth of reason” and to become “partners in the dialogue of cultures.” According to the Post, the Pakistani parliament condemned the pope for “derogatory comments” and also demanded an apology. A leading Turkish official accused the pope of wanting to revive the Crusades. In Egypt, protesters predictably chanted, “Oh Crusaders, oh cowards! Down with the pope!” Primed by Hamas leader (and Palestinian prime minister) Ismail Haniyeh, Palestinians held large-scale demonstrations. In Iraq, even as bombs exploded outside an Assyrian Catholic Church, a terrorist group warned that it would begin killing Iraqi Christians unless the pope apologized. And in Somalia, the killing of a nun is being linked to the pope’s speech.  Today, as with cartoon jihad that marred January and February, Islam’s outrage is an outrage.  These violent, pitiful overreactions within the Islamic world beg a thousand questions: Do Muslims outside the West ever turn the critical eye on themselves? Where are the condemnations for those who use a holy book as a weapon of mass-murder? Why doesn’t Pakistan’s parliament condemn what is being done in the name of Islam inside its own borders and what its madrassa teachers are spawning beyond its borders?  Do Egyptian protesters ever take to the streets to show their indignation over beheadings conducted while the Koran is being read? Do Turkish officials condemn how the minarets are used in Iraq and Afghanistan to signal and coordinate terror and slaughter? Do Iraq’s religious leaders notice or care that Iraq’s agony is caused by Muslims? Was there ever a terrorist act committed anywhere that Hamas has condemned? And perhaps the best question of all: Did the “Islamic world” hear what the pope really said—that faith and reason are not enemies, that violence is not the way to spread faith, that we must listen to “the great experiences and insights of the religious traditions of humanity”?If only Islam’s leaders—and followers—cared as much about what is spoken and done in the name of their religion as they do about other religions.