ENGLISH DAILY NEWS BULLETIN
Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani
The Bulletin's Link on the
News Bulletin Achieves Since
A Month of Islam and Multiculturalism in Britain:
"The best place to hide a tree is in a forest."
Soeren Kern/Gatestone Institute/March 12/18
"I'd like to know whose bright idea this was. It is ridiculous and not the business of a Government department. I can't see the Foreign Office promoting Christianity or the handing out of crosses." — Tory MP Andrew Bridgen in response to a decision by Foreign Office officials to give away taxpayer-funded Islamic headscarves, claiming they symbolized "liberation, respect and security."
A review chaired by Professor Mona Siddiqui, a professor of Islam, proposed legislative changes that would require Muslim couples to undergo a civil marriage before or at the same time as their Islamic ceremony, to provide women with legal protection under British law. Nearly all those using Sharia councils were females seeking an Islamic divorce.
"We, the United Kingdom, produced Jihadi John. Something in our cities and towns... have produced the most infamous terrorists. We need to start asking: what is it in our culture, in our cities, in our towns that is producing these sorts of monsters." — Maajid Nawaz, British counter-extremism activist.
Islamic charities vulnerable to extremists receive £6 million a year from taxpayers in gift aid, according to a new report. The report accused charities of supporting "the spread of harmful non-violent extremist views that are not illegal; by providing platforms, credibility and support to a network of extremists operating in the UK."
February 1. Foreign Office officials invited 1,800 female staff members to wear Islamic headscarves to mark World Hijab Day. The department gave away taxpayer-funded headscarves, claiming they symbolized "liberation, respect and security." Critics, citing the compulsory veiling of women in Islamic countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, said the garment is a symbol of male oppression. Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said, "I'd like to know whose bright idea this was. It is ridiculous, a complete waste of taxpayers' money and not the business of a government department. I can't see the Foreign Office promoting Christianity or the handing out of crosses."
February 1. Max Hill QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, declared that it is "fundamentally wrong" to use the phrase "Islamist terrorism" to describe attacks carried out in Britain and elsewhere. Hill said that the word terrorism should not be attached "to any of the world religions" and that the term "Daesh-inspired terrorism" should be used instead. Tory MP Philip Davies blasted Hill for "pandering" to political correctness: "It might not be acceptable in the trendy metropolitan circles he moves in, but all he's doing is showing how out of touch he is with the public at large. I suggest this politically-correct snowflake gets out more."
February 1. The Home Office published the report of an 18-month independent review into the application of Sharia law in Britain by so-called Sharia councils. The review, chaired by Professor Mona Siddiqui, a professor of Islam at the University of Edinburgh, proposed legislative changes that would require Muslim couples to undergo a civil marriage before or at the same time as their Islamic ceremony. Such a requirement would provide women with legal protection under British law. The review said that nearly all those using Sharia councils were females seeking an Islamic divorce. As a "significant number" of Muslim couples do not register their marriages under civil law, "some Muslim women have no option of obtaining a civil divorce." The report also recommended that Sharia councils be subject to regulation.
February 4. Paul Song, a 48-year-old pastor, was fired from his job as a chaplain at Brixton prison in south London after the managing chaplain, Imam Mohammed Yusuf Ahmed, accused Song of promoting "extreme" Christian views. Song, who said he was ousted on the basis of false claims by a Muslim prisoner, said the imam was intent on changing "the Christian domination" inside the prison.
February 4. A British intelligence agent warned that hundreds of Islamic State jihadists have returned to Britain and are intent on recruiting more jihadists to carry out attacks in the United Kingdom. He said that most of the returnees have taken cover in areas with large Muslim populations, including Birmingham, Leicester, London and Luton. "The best place to hide a tree is in a forest, and this is what those who have fought for ISIS are doing," he said. "They have basically relocated their HQ from Syria to the UK. The fear is they will begin recruiting and will wage terror on British soil."
February 8. The number of sheep slaughtered in Britain without first being stunned has doubled to more than three million, according to official statistics. The increase was attributed to the Muslim community eating more sheep meat and "an enhanced religious observance."
February 8. Mohammed Farooq, a 44-year-old man from Croydon who threatened to "blow up" the Crescent Primary School in Selhurst, walked free after his defense attorney persuaded the court that "he was not aware of what he was doing." She told the court that he had been drinking as a result of the break-up of his 18-year marriage, and was "stressed out" because he had not seen his children. Farooq received a four-month suspended prison sentence.
February 9. Ahmed Abdoule, a 33-year-old Somali living in East Hull, was sentenced to 11 years in prison for raping a teenage girl. Hull Crown Court heard how Abdoule threatened to kill the victim if she told anyone. Judge Mark Bury told Abdoule: "She told you she was a virgin to try and get you to stop. You said to her, 'You cannot be, you are white.'"
February 10. Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamud, a 31-year-old terror suspect with 17 aliases was found to be working at London's Heathrow Airport. An investigation found that Mohamud lied about his criminal past — he has multiple convictions for robbery, sexual assault and money laundering — and that no full background check was conducted before he was granted access to the airport's tarmac.
February 11. Brian Walker, a 63-year-old scout master from Bristol, was ousted for comparing a Muslim scout leader who wore a face-covering niqab to the Star Wars villain Darth Vader. Walker complained to Scouting magazine, the Scout Association's official publication, after it featured the woman who it said "cut a striking figure" "in her full Islamic veil" "when she takes the girls out canoeing." Walker emailed: "Canoeists don't dress like this; they need all-round unobstructed vision so they protect the group. They will most likely drown wearing that Darth Vader tent!" Walker also accused the association of increasingly promoting political correctness and interfaith issues above Christian values.
February 13. The British government unveiled a tool it says can accurately detect jihadist content and block it from being viewed. Home Secretary Amber Rudd told the BBC she would not rule out using the law to force technology companies to use it.
February 13. Maajid Nawaz, a counter-extremism activist, blamed Britain, not Islam, for creating the "Jihadi Beatles," four Britons who tortured and executed foreign aid workers and journalists in Syria. On LBC radio, he said:
"We, the United Kingdom, produced Jihadi John. We, the United Kingdom, produced his other acolytes around him in the so-called Jihadi Beatles. Something in our cities and towns, something in the atmosphere within our communities in this country have produced the most infamous terrorists, at least in my lifetime. We need to start asking that question: what is it in our culture, in our cities, in our towns that is producing these sorts of monsters."
February 14. Sir Michael Wilshaw, the former head of the Ofsted education regulator, said that there are 150 schools in Britain which require children to wear hijabs, and that the government was too politically correct to crack down on the problem.
February 16. Education Secretary Damian Hinds said it was "utterly wrong" for the head teacher of a leading primary school to have suffered abuse after banning the hijab for girls under the age of eight. His intervention came after Neena Lall, head of St Stephen's primary in Newham, came under fierce personal criticism — which likened her to Adolf Hitler — after banning young pupils from wearing the Islamic headscarf in school. The decision was reversed following a backlash from parents. "Schools are in charge of what is okay to wear to school and nobody should be subject to abuse and harassment — no school leader or school governor — as a result of that," Hinds said.
February 18. More than 200 mosques in Britain opened their doors to non-Muslims to mark Visit My Mosque Day, an "interfaith initiative" of the Muslim Council of Britain, an umbrella group linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.
February 18. London Modest Fashion Week showcased the latest styles in hijabs, abayas and long hemlines. The event was aimed at "breaking down stereotypes" in the fashion industry.
February 19. Blackburn Cathedral announced that would host a seminar called "Jihad of Jesus" which aims to "create a safe space to explore common ground and discuss the differences between the Muslim and Christian faiths." The announcement of the seminar came after the BBC aired a documentary questioning the relationships between religious communities in Blackburn. Senior Anglican clergy said that the BBC Panorama program "White Fright" did not paint an accurate picture of Blackburn.
February 20. Aweys Shikhey, a 38-year-old Dutch national originally from Somalia, was found guilty of trying to join the Islamic State. The court heard how Shikhey, a London delivery driver who has two wives, one in Holland and one in Kenya, was planning to elope with his Somali-Norwegian jihadi fiancée and travel from London to Turkey, and then on to Syria. The court also heard how he talked to other jihadists about attacking Queen Elizabeth, shooting Jews in Stamford Hill, north London, and football fans as they left Tottenham Hotspur's stadium. Shikhey awaits sentencing.
February 22. Zana Abbas Sulieman, a 27-year-old asylum seeker living in north-west London, was sentenced to nine years in prison for various terrorism offenses, including possessing and sharing a bomb-making video. Police said they found 32 Facebook accounts linked to Sulieman that contained terrorist-related material.
February 23. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said in a new book, Reimagining Britain, that Sharia law should never become part of the British legal system. He said the Islamic rules are incompatible with Britain's laws, which have developed over 500 years on the principles of a different culture. Welby also said that the arrival of large numbers of Muslims in Britain has led many to challenge the values of the majority population:
"Sharia, which has a powerful and ancient cultural narrative of its own, deeply embedded in a system of faith and understanding of God, and thus especially powerful in forming identity, cannot become part of another narrative.
"Accepting it in part implies accepting its values around the nature of the human person, attitudes to outsiders, the revelation of God, and a basis for life in law, rather than grace, the formative word of Christian culture."
Welby's position reverses the one taken by his predecessor Lord Williams, who backed incorporating Sharia into the British legal system.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said in a new book, Reimagining Britain, that Sharia law should never become part of the British legal system. He said the Islamic rules are incompatible with Britain's laws, which have developed over 500 years on the principles of a different culture. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
February 23. Ruzykhan Sayadi, a 23-year-old Afghan asylum seeker, was sentenced to 20 days in a rehabilitation program for threatening to carry out a terrorist attack by plowing a car into a group of white people and going on a knife rampage. Sayadi's lawyer successfully persuaded the judge that his client was frustrated at the slow pace of Britain's asylum process and had not intended to follow through with his threat. "He is in a pretty low state at the moment," Peter Du Feu said. "He is really at a low point because of his determination to achieve asylum status in this country." During sentencing, Judge Ian Pringle said, "You do need some assistance and some change if you are going to establish yourself as a lawful citizen of this country in due course."
February 25. Islamic charities vulnerable to extremists receive £6 million ($8.3 million) a year from taxpayers in gift aid, according to a report by the Henry Jackson Society. The charities are accused of promoting hardline speakers by giving them platforms, spreading their literature, providing them with credibility and enabling access to beneficiaries and the general public. The report accused charities of supporting "the spread of harmful non-violent extremist views that are not illegal; by providing platforms, credibility and support to a network of extremists operating in the UK."
February 25. The National Crime Agency (NCA), which is investigating child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, needs 100 more officers to tackle the unprecedented scale of abuse, according to the Guardian. The NCA has identified more than 1,500 potential victims and 110 suspects. Paul Williamson, the senior investigating officer on Operation Stovewood, said his team of officers had been able to contact only 17% of the possible victims because of a shortage of specially trained detectives. The operation is believed to have cost about £10 million ($14 million) to date.
February 26. Ten members of a Muslim sexual grooming gang appeared at Bradford Crown Court on charges of raping a 16-year-old girl. The men were arrested after a friend of the girl called the BBC, which had just aired a report about Muslim sex gangs in Rotherham.
February 26. Aryan Rashidi was sentenced to 14 years in prison for raping a pregnant woman at knifepoint in her bed after climbing into her house through an open window. Rashidi, an Afghan national who had entered Britain illegally in a truck, said he did not know his birth date and claimed to be 15 or 16. A dental examination showed Rashidi to be at least 22 years old.
February 26. The number of anti-Muslim hate crimes in London increased by almost 40% in the past year, according to Scotland Yard. There were 1,678 anti-Muslim hate crimes reported in the capital in the year up to January 2018, up from 1,205 the year before. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan warned perpetrators they face arrest and prosecution under a "zero-tolerance" approach.
February 27. Gary Staples, a 50-year-old convert to Islam, was sentenced to three years in prison for posting homemade videos on YouTube glorifying the Islamic State. The father of four, who is unemployed and lives on welfare, was convicted of seven charges of encouraging acts of terrorism and one charge of disseminating terrorist material.
February 27. Radio Dawn, a Muslim radio station based in Nottingham, was fined £2,000 ($2,750) for broadcasting a nasheed (an Islamic chant) which stated that violent acts committed against non-Muslims would bring honor to Islam. The nasheed, which was in Urdu and recited by a young boy, also included pejorative references to non-Muslims, who were repeatedly referred to as "Kuffar," the Arabic word for disbeliever, and, "Kaafir I Murdaar," meaning filthy disbeliever in Urdu. Ofcom, the British communications regulator, said the nasheed constituted hate speech. Station manager Sana Tariq said he did not agree with the song: "I was in disbelief, I couldn't believe something like this had been played. It's not something Radio Dawn believes in. Islam gives the message of peace and that's what we try to present."
**Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute.
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.
World Soccer Organization FIFA Turns Its Back on Iranian Women
Ruthie Blum/Gatestone Institute/March 12/18
Gianni Infantino is the second FIFA president to visit the Islamic Republic, but neither of them "pushed for letting women inside the stadiums. Iran is the only country in the World Cup that bans women from their stadiums and any attempt to watch the games means risk of getting arrested." -- OpenStadiums, Iranian women's organization.
Infantino has both the power and the duty to hold Tehran accountable in this literal and figurative arena. That he exercised neither, preferring instead to appease Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, is outrageous. In spite of his being touted falsely in the West as a "moderate," Rouhani is a key part of the problem in Iran, not a solution to it.
Infantino deserves a swift penalty kick out of his job.
A week before International Women's Day on March 8, thirty-five women and girls dressed as men were arrested in Iran while attempting to sneak into a popular annual soccer match. The women, the youngest of whom was 13, were forcibly removed from the premises of the Tehran Derby and "transferred to a proper place."
The ban on women attending any sports event in Iran, other than all-female matches in which the players are required to wear full Islamic dress, is but one of many issues at the root of the current mass protests across the country against the oppressive and repressive ayatollah-led regime, which came to power nearly four decades ago. Over the years, sports have been used by both male and female anti-regime activists as a symbol of freedom, as it was one of the first areas after Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, which ousted the Shah and ushered in the reign of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, to be considered by the ruling mullahs as a dangerous expression of secularism.
The reason that this year's Tehran Derby was of particular interest – and not only to sports fans -- was the attendance of world soccer's top official, Gianni Infantino. As Infantino is the president of FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association), his arrival at the match was seen by freedom-seeking Iranians as an opportunity to force their government to lift the ban on women spectators.
Rather than demand that Iran allow women to watch soccer in stadiums or be ousted from FIFA for violating its rules, Infantino not only presided over the game between Esteghlal and Persepolis at the 100,000-seat Azadi Stadium, but he did so after meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. During halftime, when a female journalist tried to ask Infantino a question about the ban and the meeting, he was whisked away and the live broadcast was shut down.
Upon his return to FIFA headquarters in Zurich the next day, Infantino told reporters he had been promised by Rouhani that "women in Iran will have access to football stadiums soon," but that "in countries such as Iran, these things take a bit of time." Explaining why he accepted Rouhani's assurances, Infantino said: "There are two ways to deal with this matter. Either we criticize, we sanction, we condemn, we don't speak and we cut relations. Or we go there and have a discussion and try to convince the leaders of the country that they should give [women] access to stadiums. I went for the second option."
According to the grassroots Iranian women's organization OpenStadiums, Infantino is the second FIFA president to visit the Islamic Republic, but neither of them "pushed for letting women inside the stadiums."
"Iran is the only country in the World Cup that bans women from their stadiums and any attempt to watch the games means risk of getting arrested. Why is watching football like crime here and the responsible people do nothing?"
It is a very good question, considering that preparations are under way for this summer's 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, in which Iran's national soccer team will feature prominently. Infantino has both the power and the duty to hold Tehran accountable in this literal and figurative arena. That he exercised neither, choosing instead to appease Rouhani, is outrageous. In spite of his being touted falsely in the West as a "moderate," Rouhani is a key part of the problem in Iran, not a solution to it.
Iranian women have been risking their lives by removing their hijabs in public, to protest the Islamist abuse of their human rights. They are being arrested and imprisoned by the regime for their bravery. They should be hailed and helped by anyone and any means possible. International Women's Day -- which the UN describes as "a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities" -- provided the perfect opportunity for FIFA to take a stand on behalf of the women of Iran. Infantino chose, however, to drop the ball. For this alone, he deserves a swift penalty kick out of his job.
Ruthie Blum is the author of To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the 'Arab Spring.'"
© 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.
Tyranny of Shaming/American Race Wars as Seen by an Immigrant
Nonie Darwish/ Gatestone Institute/March 12/18
The bias of many Americans against American values has blinded them from seeing the reasons we immigrants went through hell to come to this country. Many Americans believe that those who criticize the culture from which we escaped must be "Islamophobic." They seem not to understand why we never again want to see what we have gone through so much to escape from.
Such attacks on the white majority in Americans are, bluntly, racist. It is a shame that so many Americans are unable or refuse to see what many immigrants see: that it was under this white majority that millions of oppressed people -- of all colors and creeds -- from around the world were rescued from tyranny, Sharia law, slavery, discrimination, Islamism and a miserable existence under corrupt, war-torn and famine-stricken nations. Instead, many seem to want to bring all that here.
We watched American freedoms as a dream: to be able to smile back at a man who opened the door for you without accusations of being a loose woman for smiling. To be able to wear what you want, go out when you want, work or get an education or not, and venture to hope one day to live under a system that respects monogamy and equal rights for women and minorities. Yes, it is the American culture where whites are the majority, no problem with that, that made our dreams come true. Despite its shortcomings no other country in the world offers its citizens the chance to be whatever they would like. We might never get back what we already have.
Every day we hear on television, "We need an honest discussion about race in this country".
Many well-meaning Americans, however, may have had enough of this endless, empty and dysfunctional discussion of race. To an outsider, Americans seem obsessed with race; and the discussion always deteriorates to shouting, insulting, blaming, finger-pointing, distorting reality and removing any hope of taking responsibility for oneself. The goal of the discussion always seems to be to try to claim that "I am holier than thou."
We immigrants, on the other hand, the minute we land in the US, we feel the political struggle for our vote.
The day I got my citizenship and went out to register to vote, some people in the room told me to register as a Democrat because the Democrats would protect my rights from the racist establishment and give me "stuff." Many of the people who had come with me did register that way, but I found the urging alarming. I grew up under a socialist, totalitarian system under the leadership of President Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt -- a nanny state that also gives you "stuff'." What many Americans do not realize is that the free stuff can be too expensive
Many Americans do not seem to learn much from history; perhaps (to everyone's peril) it is not even being taught. The outcome is that these understandably frustrated citizens appear to hope that the failed socialist systems will right the wrongs they feel done to them, or at least allow them to live comfortable lives without worries about healthcare or education.
Nasser's Egypt, however, revealed the danger of falling into the trap of a government's false promises. Nasser said he wanted to change Egypt fundamentally. Unfortunately, he succeeded. To this day, Egypt can hardly get itself out of the rot of Nasser's 1952 revolution. He promised to give all Egyptians free education and free health care. He seized properties, businesses and vast farmland so he could redistribute the wealth by dividing it into tiny portions for everyone to have a little. In the process, a new, even more corrupt class, was born. Most people ended up with virtually nothing. Just look, for example, at Venezuela -- free stuff and corruption have turned an oil-rich country into a poverty-stricken hell.
Several generations of Americans seem to have been brought up on the false premise that if someone loves this country, its liberties, its culture and its way of life or God, they must be "racist." If they are white and not Democrats, the assumption goes, they must be "racist." As the majority of the population of America happens to be white, whites are supposedly the face of America: "racists" holding on to their guns and Bibles and depriving the rest of the country of a socialist Utopia.
Generations of Americans also seem to have been brought up with an exaggerated view of "white privilege" -- to the degree that at this point it is probably a bit of a lie, as though achieving success and wealth in America were due to the luck of the skin-color lottery rather than, as Justice Clarence Thomas has been arguing, to hard work. Here, however, "free" education may be at fault. Yes, everybody is able to get it, but it is terrible. So, in reality, nobody really gets much of an education -- at least one that provides an equal opportunity to compete with someone who has receive a private education. The best once can say is that it is still better than no education at all, which is what much of the world still gets. At bottom, if you are born into a home where education is not valued, you may be permanently lost.
The use of the word "racist" in the West is used similarly the word "infidel" in Islamic societies. Such words become useful shaming tools to coerce people into compliance. They are not used to discuss matters; they are used to abort discussion, silence opposition, and often to threaten the livelihood and even the life of those who dissent. These are words are intended to render anyone who does not agree as evil and a pariah.
Like the shame-based culture of the Middle East, many Americans today, presumably to avoid the backlash of being shamed, seem to have fallen into the trap of "group think". If, God forbid, you are seen as Republican, conservative, or if you prefer capitalism to socialism or do not belong to a victim group, shaming will be directed at you. Impressionable new generations of Americans naively take this bait. They are fearful of giving an opinion lest they be called "racist."
The Muslim world has successfully been using this tyranny of shaming for centuries to enforce compliance. Today if you ask a question to a man on the Arab street, you will most likely get a prefabricated answer -- one that is probably the un-thought-through opinion of the majority. This technique is frequently used in the Islamic culture -- in addition to terror of course -- to crush the non-Muslim "infidels" out of existence. Today, in the birthplace of Judaism and Christianity, hardly anyone is living peacefully.
That many Democrats seem to be planning "fundamentally to change America" by making white people the minority and replacing them with immigrants -- both legal and illegal -- is no longer a secret. In 2015, former Vice President Joe Biden said that "whites" becoming a minority in America is a "good thing":
"An unrelenting stream of immigration. Nonstop, nonstop. Folks like me who are Caucasian, of European descent, for the first time in 2017 we'll be an absolute minority in the United States of America. Absolute minority. Fewer than 50% of the people in America from then and on will be white European stock. That's not a bad thing. That's a source of our strength."
Minority leader Nancy Pelosi recently joined in, saying that President Trump's immigration plan would 'make America White again."
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer cited "skin color" in voting against a white federal judge nominee. He justified the vote as, "Having a diversity of views and experience on the federal bench is necessary for the equal administration of justice."
That view, however, while trying to right a perceived wrong, is itself fundamentally racist.
Ironically, it is the white leaders in politics and media who have become central in advocating the elimination of "white American culture" -- presumably to assemble a majority of voters who would elect Democrats and a socialist economy forever. Such attacks on the white majority in Americans are, bluntly, racist. It is a shame that many Americans are unable or refuse to see what many immigrants see: That it was under this white majority that millions of oppressed people from around the world, of all colors and creeds, were rescued from tyranny, Sharia law, slavery, discrimination, Islamism and a miserable existence under corrupt, war-torn and famine-stricken nations. Instead, many seem to want to bring much of that here.
How could politicians who advocate displacing white people in America to make them a minority think it is a good thing? This logic is cruel towards great citizens of a great nation that did so much good in the world. It was not Africa, China, South America, Europe or Russia that spoke for the oppressed and brought them to live in freedom; it was America -- white, black, Indian, Asian and everything in between -- and its Judeo-Christian values that did this.
Is it any wonder that many Americans today feel cheated, alienated and that their country, culture and way of life are being ripped apart along racial, gender and economic lines, by politicians, media and academics, all seemingly hell-bent on changing America's culture, demography, laws and Constitution?
Even ambitious globalists seem interested in changing only the West, not in promoting changes for the rest of the world, no matter how oppressive it clearly is. To them, the number one enemy to their plans for America is most likely independent-thinking Americans, who treasure its accomplishments, Constitution and freedoms – all of which have been fought for, so hard won, and built over many decades.
Globalists, who seem to prefer "international values" over Western ones, seem convinced that only if white America is out of the way, then the progressive plan, to change America fundamentally, could be achieved faster. Immigrants, especially from third world countries, are seemingly to them the solution to injecting "new blood" into the country. The argument, however, is not about immigrants -- no one is objecting to having more people come to America. The question is about two decisions. One is: Who should be preferred -- skilled or unskilled people or a mixture of both. The second is: How they get here -- legally, by waiting for years, or illegally.
The mind-set currently in fashion -- again similar to the mind-set used in the Middle East to defend Islamic goals -- is to blame everything wrong in the system on the outside world, especially the West. Loathing oneself, in Western culture, has now been elevated to a badge of honor. This view does not go unnoticed by enemies of the West. Instead of searching for solutions that work for America to make it better, many Americans seem to want to overthrow everything – even the good parts. America's enemies love watching that, especially when Americans agree with them to blaming the West and especially white people. It is a marriage of Western self-loathing with Islamic loathing-of-the-other: they both loathe the same thing.
I remember, as a new immigrant, hearing a distinguished white professor in Berkeley say, "The white male is the most oppressive in the world'. I told him, "I was raised under the cruelty of Sharia law and the Islamic authority for thirty years. I find the Western white male culture to be more gentlemanly towards women than any other culture in the world". I asked him if he knew that slavery flourished under Muslims before America was ever discovered, and that it still does today.
Many in America who have already bought into this lie about "oppression" sound as if they are in a state of rage against their own country. To these dissatisfied Americans -- as to Muslims who love Sharia -- any resistance to their goals is seen as "racism" and as a treason that should never be forgiven. To them, as to Muslim extremists, people who do not agree with them deserve to be humiliated, made into examples before the rest of the population, reduced to a minority status, then, if they keep "causing trouble," eventually eliminated.
As an immigrant to the US I could not get over how uncomfortable it is to see American pop culture have made it "cool" to suppress the natural tendency of citizens to love and want to preserve one's country, culture and way of life. In the new equation, loving and treasuring America and its history, errors and all, has become an unforgivable racial sin. What these critics also fail to see is that America is one of the few countries that owns up to what is wrong and often tries to fix it.
When it comes to non-white immigrants, however, many Americans are inconsistent. Immigrants are frequently encouraged to do just the opposite of what many in America urge white Americans to do: take pride in their original culture and continue practicing and preserving their old customs and way of life. It was so uncomfortable when Americans shamed me for being critical of my old culture -- life under Sharia -- and for wanting to change, adapt to America, assimilate. The bias of many Americans against American values has blinded them from seeing the reasons we immigrants went through hell to come to this country. Many Americans believe that those who criticize the culture from which we escaped must be "Islamophobic." They seem not to understand why we never again want to see what we have gone through so much to escape from.
It is, in fact, much harder to choose not to assimilate than just to go along and assimilate. That is why progressives, in my opinion, are repressive and wrong for encouraging immigrants and minorities to stay just the way they were in the old country. It is against human nature to continue living in a sub-culture from which one has just fled.
American capitalism, while perhaps not perfect, has lifted more people out of poverty than any other economic system in history, yet it is viewed by progressives, as "racist." Many American seem to be trying to drill that into in the mind of Americans. They seem to think that because the current president is white and a Republican who loves America, then he must be a racist, so they thus have the right to bring him down by any means.
America's sharp divisions have never been clearer. To Americans who like the current administration, it represents independence from government and saving America from a nanny state that risks becoming increasingly authoritarian and that wants to destroy American sovereignty. To Americans who dislike the current administration, it is thwarting their plans to change America fundamentally by bringing in new voters to replace those from the old American culture.
The bad news -- from someone who was born and raised in Egypt -- to those who think that replacing Americans or Europeans with a third world citizenry is a good idea: it is actually reckless, destructive and will end up burning those who are playing with such fire. Just ask any third world leaders how easily they manage their population. As one of the millions of grateful immigrants, we have been watching America on our televisions and in movies to take our minds off of the oppressive reality of life in third world countries. We loved the American movies of John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and James Dean whose name until today is used in Egyptian pop culture as a symbol for being "cool." We watched American freedoms as a dream: to be able to smile back at a man who opened the door for you without accusations of being a loose woman for smiling. To be able to wear what you want, go out when you want, work or get an education or not and venture to hope one day to live under a system that respects monogamy and equal rights for women and minorities. Yes, it is the American culture where whites are the majority, no problem with that, that made our dreams come true. Despite its shortcomings no other country in the world offers its citizens the chance to be whatever they would like. We might never get back what we already have.
Nonie Darwish, born and raised in Egypt, is the author of: "Wholly Different; Why I Chose Biblical Values Over Islamic Values"
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Partnerships in Battles of the Future
Ghassan Charbel/The Washington Post/March 12/18
Britain sought to show exceptional attention to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to London. This is not strictly tied to the historic ties between Saudi Arabia and Britain or the deals and agreements that were expected to be announced during his trip. Saudi Arabia is experiencing a comprehensive reform and modernization workshop. This battle demands partnerships and expertise possessed by advanced countries. Britain, which is preparing to exit the European Union, needs economic partners that can compensate for the losses it will incur from Brexit. On top of the above-mentioned reasons, the new Saudi Arabia represents a trustworthy partner. Those monitoring Prince Mohammed’s current tour, and previously the Asian tour of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz, realize the importance major countries are placing on the new Saudi Arabia. In London, as in Tokyo and Beijing before it, there is a firm conviction that the current Saudi Arabia is a Saudi Arabia that knows what it wants and announces it. It wants to have a strong economy and witness prosperity and stability. It wants coexistence, moderation and tolerance. The guardian of the current Saudi dream means it when he says that Riyadh has turned its back on the time when extremists were given power over locations and in communicating with the other.
Saudi delegations now speak in a modern language in search of the future. Their words are no longer about intentions and wishes. Saudi ministers are meeting their counterparts from around the world with visions and projects that are backed by figures and studies as part of a major transformation that is summed up in Vision 2030. It was evident during Prince Mohammed’s trip to Britain that this major and prestigious country is following with interest the economic and social developments in Saudi Arabia and the dynamism that is currently shaping the Kingdom. London believes that the current major change taking place in Saudi Arabia is not limited to it alone, but encompasses the rest of the Arab and Muslim worlds where it enjoys extraordinary clout.
The British and international interest in the current changes taking place in Saudi Arabia goes beyond the active role it is playing in combating terrorism. It also goes beyond the economic and investment opportunities that are provided by the close cooperation with Saudi Arabia. There is a growing feeling that Saudi Arabia is preparing itself to be a major and effective partner in the battles of the future.
The future is not a gift that is presented to you. Time is not in the habit of handing out free prizes. The future is something that you make and whose price you pay. There is no point here in wasting time in fear, hesitation or relying on the past. The future is a battle that begins today. The countries that are ranked among the elite in the world are the ones who have been aware of this battle early on. They are countries that realized the importance of deeply understanding abilities, needs and opportunities. They are aware of the need for new equations, flexible policies and effective institutions that can hold individuals into account, have the ability to correct errors and be innovative.
Amid the successive scientific and technological revolutions, the question is: How will your country look like after two decades or more? How many job opportunities will be available for the new generations? What education will allow you to join open revolutions and provide the ability to compete and advance? What will your economy be like? What will be the outcome of the comprehensive development battle? What partnerships will you be able to build? One cannot read the future through the eyes of the past. The developments of the past two decades have laid to rest policies and rules that were once thought to be unshakable. Powers are no longer simply assessed through the sizes of armies. The world has changed.
Your position on the regional and international table depends above all else on the power of your economy, its dynamism and constant ability to develop and discover new opportunities. Prosperity is a guarantee for stability. Progress takes societies away from old wars and brings them into the battles of the future. These are battles of development, progress, contentment and the elimination of everything that can violate man’s humanity. The army itself can age quickly if it does not live in a strong economy.
The future is the keyword to understanding the actions of the Saudi Crown Prince and the messages he delivered during his tour. The Egyptian stop falls under this category. Saudi-Egyptian ties are very important for the Arab world given the meddling their region is a victim of. The two countries can help lead the Arab world the same way German and French cooperation leads Europe. The Crown Prince’s visit to the Coptic Church is a fulfillment of his statements on the return of the moderate Islam. The same spirit was present during his visit to the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The new Saudi Arabia is a Saudi Arabia that is confident in itself and its youth. This is why it is heading to the world with plans for partnerships that are ultimately aimed at building a better world. Saudi Arabia wants to diversify its economy and attract investments. It wants job opportunities for youths that have the ability to innovate. It wants education that is linked to scientific and technological revolutions. It wants a modern health sector and greater awareness of environment issues. It wants culture and recreation. It wants a natural relationship with the world and ties that are based on mutual interests and joint responsibilities. These are the battles of the future. They are waged through building bridges, not constructing walls. They are based on deep partnerships, not fleeting and temporary understandings.
No, Twitter, Healthy Conversation Can't Be Engineered
Leonid Bershidsky/Bloomberg/March 12/18
Facebook's self-regulatory contortions in the wake of fake news and trolling scandals have gone on, with little visible effect, for months. Now Twitter founder and Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey has announced his company is going to try a different tack -- but Dorsey's approach is arguably even more far-fetched than his Facebook peer Mark Zuckerberg's: It's an attempt to view Twitter's social mess as an engineering problem. In a Twitter thread on Thursday, Dorsey admitted that Twitter has been home to "abuse, harassment, troll armies, manipulation through bots and human-coordination, misinformation campaigns and increasingly divisive echo chambers" and that it's not proud of how it has dealt with them. So it would try to find a "holistic" solution through attempting to "measure the 'health' of conversation on Twitter." The metrics, designed in collaboration with outside experts, would presumably help redesign the service so that all the bad stuff would be gone without the need for censorship.
That's not how Facebook chose to handle a similar problem. For starters, it didn't ask anyone for advice (Zuckerberg's listening tour of the U.S. doesn't count because he didn't specify as clearly as Dorsey what he was looking for). Facebook just devised some possible solutions such as working with fact-checkers to identify fake news and focusing on content from friends rather than publishers; it even experimented with putting publisher content in a separate newsfeed -- a test it has just ended because users apparently didn't want two feeds. It has also volunteered to reveal more information about who bought political ads.
It's not clear whether these moves have done anything to fix the problems: I still have my tens of thousands of fake "subscribers" who showed up after I was active in the 2011 protests in Moscow and, as far as I've seen, questionable content from highly partisan sources is also still there. All that has happened is that, according to a recent analysis of Nielsen data by equity research company Pivotal Research Group, time spent by users on Facebook was down 4 percent year-on-year in November, 2017, and its share of user attention was down to 16.7 percent from 18.2 percent a year earlier.
Twitter, faced with a 14 percent decline in time spent and a decrease in attention share to 0.8 percent from 1.1 percent over the same period -- and consequently described by Pivotal Research Group as a "niche platform" -- needs to do something that will draw people to it, not repel them. So one can understand software developer Dorsey's need for a bottom-up reevaluation of how his software has been working. The starting point has been provided by a nonprofit called Cortico, which grew out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab. It's working on a set of "health indicators" for the U.S. public sphere based on four principles: shared attention (to what extent people are interested in the same subjects?), shared reality (are people using the same set of facts?), variety (are people exposed to different opinions?) and receptivity (are they willing to listen to those different opinions?).
If there's a transparently developed, openly discussed set of measurements to determine the "health of the conversation" on Twitter or any other social network, the networks could, instead of grappling with macro-problems like "fake news" or "harassment," break down their responses into micro-actions designed to move the metrics. Then they could report to the public (and to concerned regulators) that the conversation is growing healthier.
The biggest problem with this approach is a bit like the one with the World Bank's Doing Business ranking, routinely gamed by authoritarian regimes' officials who want to hit their performance indicators. According to this ranking, it's easier to do business in Vladimir Putin's Russia than in some EU countries, despite the absence of real guarantees that the business won't be expropriated by a greedy law enforcement officer who happens to like it. Metrics are useful to managers because they give them a specific goal -- moving a gauge by any means at their disposal. For the same reason, they can be useless to consumers, who will get what they see, which is not necessarily the same thing as what's measured.
A secondary problem is that conversation can't really be engineered algorithmically. Not even the Oxford Union rules of debate can be 100 percent successful in ensuring a civil dialog, especially if the entities engaged in it are often anonymous and not always human. Dorsey has chosen to ignore the obvious problems -- his platform's dedication to full anonymity, the permissibility of multiple accounts for the same individual, the openness to automation -- and take the roundabout route of trying to create a scorecard on which Twitter can be seen improving. This dashboard can be impressively high-tech, but human (or half-human, as the case may be) conversation really isn't. "Social engineering" is a term for the low-tech manipulation of people into doing something they didn't plan to do -- like revealing their personal data or perhaps blowing up publicly so they can be shamed. Trolls are good at social engineering.
I banned several accounts with almost no followers today whose owners were trying to insult me. I do it every day. It's unpleasant to deal with them, but under Twitter's current rules it's also unavoidable. A brief look at the responses to Dorsey's thread ("You're lying," "'This is not who we are' translates to 'This is EXACTLY who we are'," "I'd tell you what I really think of you but you'd kick me off") is enough to see what sort of conversational space Twitter is. Metrics? I'm sure they can be designed to show these comments are 77 percent "healthy" -- and, for the next Dorsey thread, to show an improvement to 79 percent. The point is worth repeating here: Until it's clear who's talking on the social networks, just as it's almost always clear with traditional media, and until there are real consequences to insults, harassment and intentional lies, the conversation cannot be healthy. It's a bitter pill for the networks' engineer founders, who tend to think technology and data can fix any problem, but a solution can only be found by putting people in the same environment that exists in face-to-face conversation or in the "legacy" news media -- one that makes outbursts and lying legally and socially costly.
Fed Isn't Scared of Inflation or a Trade War
Karl W. Smith/Bloomberg/March 12/18
Fed Governor Lael Brainard gave a speech Tuesday night entitled, "Navigating Monetary Policy as Headwinds Shift to Tailwinds."
She noted that the US economy was beginning to benefit from major tailwinds. Federal budget cuts, which had previously subtracted from growth, were replaced by tax cuts that add to it. Growth in Europe and Asia was picking up and with that would come more demand for US exports.
That same evening, Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council, resigned after failing to dissuade President Donald Trump from imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum. The resignation was widely seen as bolstering the fortunes of protectionists in the White House such as trade adviser Peter Navarro and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Markets opened lower around the world on the news. The Dow was off 300 points as I type this at midday on Wednesday. Commodities were lower and interest rates declined. All signs pointed to rising fears of global trade wars and new headwinds that would slow growth.
Fortunately, the heart of Brainard’s guidance was general enough to be useful no matter what happens. Wall Street is used to viewing a positive economic outlook from US Federal Reserve officials as a sign that interest rates will soon be rising. Indeed, I think many people mistakenly perceived that to be the message of Chairman Jerome Powell’s initial testimony before Congress last week.
The Fed is trying to communicate something more subtle, however, and Brainard’s speech was a good example. The Fed’s preferred measure of inflation, the core price index for personal consumption expenditures, has been running well below target since the 2008 recession. Despite this, the Fed has begun a campaign of slowly raising interest rates. Fed officials have defended these moves by noting that the low readings on inflation were driven primarily by transitory factors that they expect to diminish over time. Consequently, market participants should not expect the Fed to give up its long term plans simply because inflation was unexpectedly and temporarily low. In the past, I and a lot of other commentators interpreted this view as an indication that Fed officials were most intent on controlling inflation. By that thinking, the mere specter of inflation rising above the Fed's 2 percent target would be enough for them to raise interest rates to cool growth.
Brainard’s speech was the clearest repudiation of this view so far:
Although experience in other countries suggests it can prove difficult to raise an underlying inflation trend that has been running below policymakers' target for several years, stronger tailwinds may help re-anchor inflation expectations at the symmetric 2 percent objective. Of course, it is conceivable we could see a mild, temporary overshoot of the inflation target over the medium term. If such a mild, temporary overshoot were to occur, it would likely be consistent with the symmetry of the FOMC's target and could help nudge underlying inflation back to our target.
In other words, 2 percent inflation shouldn't be thought of an an upper limit, just a rough target. Overshooting it would be consistent with the Fed's goals. Not only that, she goes on to hint that the Fed might actually like to see an overshoot:
Recent research has highlighted the downside risks to inflation and to longer-run inflation expectations that are posed by the effective lower bound on nominal interest rates, and it suggests the importance of ensuring underlying inflation does not slip below target in today's new normal. That's an argument that the conventional view that 2 percent inflation is an upper limit is not only incorrect, but dangerous.
My takeaway is that markets should not interpret talk of a strong economy as a signal that the Fed is necessarily going to raise interest rates. As long as the Fed views the inflationary effects as transitory, as the stimulus from the recent tax cut is likely to be, a steady-as-she-goes approach is the Fed’s baseline response. What then to make of a potential trade war? Apply the same logic: If higher tariffs are a temporary policy that is likely to be reversed as the president renegotiates trade agreements, then we should expect the Fed to stand pat, even if that means absorbing a short-term hit to growth. On the other hand, if what we are seeing is really a shift in US trade policy, then the Fed is likely to take that into account and seek to offset some of the loss of growth. Which would mean a slower rise in interest rates.
US Should Open Channel of Communication With Russia
David Ignatius/The Washington Post/March 12/18
In his chilling account of the Romanov dynasty, the British historian Simon Sebag Montefiore quoted Pyotr Stolypin, who was interior minister for Nicholas II, the last of the czars: “In Russia, nothing is more dangerous than the appearance of weakness.”
Montefiore explained that during the 300-plus years of Romanov rule, power had been an instrument not simply of governing but of survival, too. He cited the aphorism of the French writer Madame de Stael: “In Russia, the government is autocracy tempered by strangulation.”
President Vladimir Putin embodies this Russian paranoid ethic, never more than during his belligerent March 1 speech boasting of a new generation of “invincible” nuclear-powered missiles and super-fast torpedoes. Putin’s address included video mock-ups of new cruise missiles that were so hokey, they would embarrass a Hollywood studio. What should Americans make of Putin’s speech and the policy challenge it implicitly poses for the United States? Some analysts were quick to discount Putin’s military claims as fanciful. The new Russian technologies he described were already well-known to US intelligence agencies, analysts said. The speech was obviously a message to Washington, but one with several layers of meaning. On its face, it was meant to frighten and intimidate; but on that level, it surely failed. The United States has vast military power to deter Russia, including new weapons systems that are at least a match for what Putin described.
On a deeper level, Putin’s speech was a plea for attention by a leader who sees himself avenging his nation’s humiliation after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Despite Putin’s wounded, chip-on-the-shoulder posture, this struck me as the core of his address, and worth a well-considered response.
The crux of Putin’s argument is that Russia was ignored during its years of weakness and is only taken seriously now because it looks threatening. Putin recounted that before he took power, “the military equipment of the Russian army was becoming obsolete, and the armed forces were in a sorry state.” With the collapse of the Soviet Union, he said, “the nation had lost 23.8 percent of its territory, 48.5 percent of its population, 41 percent of its gross domestic product and 44.6 percent of its military capability.
“Nobody really wanted to talk to us about the core of the problem [of the nuclear-weapons balance], and nobody wanted to listen to us. So listen now,” he demanded.
Putin is a bully, but a predictable one. He has been advertising his desire to restore Russia’s lost glory since he became president in 2000. Last month’s indictment by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III of 13 Russians and three companies for interfering in the 2016 presidential election describes an organization, the Internet Research Agency, that, according to other accounts, field-tested Putin’s Internet manipulation techniques in 2014 in Ukraine before deploying them in America. To manage these covert actions, Putin turned to a billionaire oligarch pal, Yevgeniy Prigozhin, who also helped organize Russian mercenaries in Syria.
Ukraine has been Putin’s laboratory. Oleksandr Danylyuk, the chairman of the Center for Defense Reforms in Ukraine, warned in a 2016 paper for the Naval Postgraduate School that Russia has “been carrying out not only information operations but also other clandestine and special operations against Ukraine for more than a decade.” His conclusion: “Russia is not preparing for war with the West; the war is already being actively conducted — on Russia’s terms.”
Just because Putin proposes renewed discussions with the United States, that doesn’t mean it is a bad idea. Israel, Saudi Arabia, Japan and India all have serious dialogue with Russia about key foreign-policy issues, but the United States does not. That’s a mistake, especially now.
It was unwise, for example, for the United States to suddenly cancel talks on cybersecurity that had been planned for late February with a 17-member Russian team headed by Putin’s cyberadviser, Andrei Krutskikh. The Russians responded by canceling planned discussions about strategic stability. The two countries’ militaries continue to have daily “deconfliction” consultations in the congested battlespace of the Middle East, but the dialogue should be broader.
This barren Russian-American landscape is a perverse consequence of Putin’s attempts to meddle in US politics and foster the candidate who kept proclaiming what a great guy the Russian leader was, and how much he wanted a rapprochement. Paradoxically, President Trump’s election has made dialogue with Russia politically toxic, and arms control has all but disappeared from the US agenda. “In an autocracy, the traits of character are magnified; everything personal is political,” wrote Montefiore about the Romanovs. Putin is inescapable. The US military will counter Putin’s death-star weapons, but in the meantime, American diplomacy needs to open better channels. Ignoring Russia may be good politics, but it is bad policy.
World must beware Iranian regime’s propaganda
على العالم أن يكون حذراً من اساليب الدعاية الإيرانية
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/March 12/18
The Iranian regime is intensifying its efforts to suppress, intimidate and discredit the opposition, journalists, and reporters.
This week, the BBC complained to the UN about the harassment of its Persian service’s journalists by the Iranian regime, alleging that they faced a campaign of intimidation, including threats, arrests of relatives and travel bans.
Iran's latest crackdown highlights the notion that the Iranian regime is pursuing a much more intensive strategy to silence journalists and the opposition. It also indicates that the Iranian authorities are continuing to violate fundamental human rights. In addition, the 2017 re-election of the so-called moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, has empowered hard-line organizations such as the Judiciary, the Ministry of Intelligence (Ettela'at) and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to ratchet up their crackdown.
The clerical regime is facing more and more problems, especially in the wake of the mass uprising that spread across every major Iranian city in late December and early January. Those demonstrations included chants of “death to the dictator” and expressions of disgust with Iranian politics, although they reportedly began with more targeted protests against the economic hardships faced by the vast majority of the public.
The uprising demonstrated the Iranian people’s eagerness to establish a democratic alternative to the religious dictatorship that has been reigning for nearly 40 years. As the world becomes increasingly aware of this situation, it is necessarily waking up to the legitimacy of Iran’s resistance movement and the validity of its observations about Iranian affairs.
As Tehran lacks both the political will and the capacity to address its own endemic corruption and its ideological misalignment with the will of the Iranian people, the regime is responding in the only way it knows how: It is stepping up its efforts to discredit the resistance in the eyes of the international community.
Of course, dissident organizations have always been subject to physical and political repression by the clerical authorities. The leading such group, the People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran, lost thousands of members in a massacre of political prisoners in the summer of 1988. Nevertheless, it has continued to grow and thrive, to the extent that Iranian officials including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei were forced to admit in January that the PMOI had played a leading role in planning and carrying out the nationwide demonstrations that were ongoing at the time. The PMOI’s success surely would have been greater, domestically and especially internationally, if not for the vigorous campaign of disinformation that has followed it since it first established itself as the champion of the Iranian resistance.
Tehran’s propaganda against the opposition has been disseminated through scores of ostensibly non-government organizations, the sole objective of which is to discredit the organization and tarnish the image of the resistance, thus making it harder to gain international support and recognition. One such organization, Habilian, portrays itself as representative of Iranians who have lost family members to terrorism, but in reality it represents none other than Iran’s notorious Ministry of Intelligence and Security. The MOIS runs a handful of defectors through Habilian as part of an effort to legitimize the organization’s propaganda.
The popularity of the resistance, alongside Tehran’s preoccupation with stamping it out, should be enough to convince the international community of the movement’s legitimacy and its viability as an alternative to the ruling theocracy.
Habilian has also hosted scores of international conferences, organized dozens of photo exhibitions, published hundreds of books, and produced many television series in a futile attempt to tarnish the image of the Iranian resistance. Similarly, it has tried to influence journalists, opinion leaders, and Iran observers through a steady diet of misinformation disseminated by its surrogates outside Iran.
There have also been reports in the Western media about how Habilian tries to lure journalists, politicians and academics to seminars that are held under misleading titles. Those who prove to be receptive to such outreach from the MOIS are pursued thereafter as potential conduits for the regime’s talking points. Although a bit of digging could reveal where these talking points ultimately came from, the credentials of the foreign assets give those claims a veneer of reliability.
As recently as February, a delegation of the European Parliament was made to listen to a speech by the secretary general of Habilian, Mohammad Javad Hasheminejad, during a visit to Iran. The organization’s own website also reported that, after the general meeting, the secretary general held a private talk with Portuguese MEP Ana Gomes on February 14. The website also proclaimed Gomes had been friendly with representatives of Habilian in the past. The meeting evidently paid dividends for the MOIS, as Gomes seemed to waste no time in criticizing the PMOI after returning to Brussels. In so doing, she noticeably appeared to rehash some of Habilian’s oft-repeated talking points, demanding that the PMOI not be allowed to operate freely and legally in Europe.
Such a demand, of course, runs totally counter to core European values. Not only does it advocate arbitrary restrictions on political speech, it also serves as an attack on those who advocate European-style democracy in the Middle East. Fortunately, it seems that only a handful of Western policymakers adopt these talking points after being approached by Habilian or hearing false claims from it or from related groups. The vast majority see through this transparent propaganda, and worldwide support has been growing over the years for pro-democracy dissident groups. The National Council of Resistance of Iran attracts hundreds of prominent American and European politicians to its annual summer rally outside of Paris, and its base of multi-party support grows year after year.
This trend is sure to continue in the near future, as the world continues to be exposed to news of mass protests and the regime’s brutal response. The popularity of the Iranian resistance, alongside the regime’s preoccupation with stamping it out, should be enough to convince the international community of the movement’s legitimacy and its viability as an alternative to the ruling theocracy.
But history has shown that dictatorial regimes have been able to find certain politicians in democratic countries who have wittingly or unwittingly advocated policies which would benefit the dictators, even if that was not their intention.
Many experts have speculated that Tehran’s violent suppression of the recent uprising and journalists will ultimately cause the uprising to re-emerge.
Meanwhile, it is all but certain that the regime’s efforts to harass, intimidate and discredit the activist movement as well as foreign media outlets will greatly intensify in that time. Journalists, foreign media outlets and dissidents have long been suppressed by the Iranian authorities. But harassment by the Iranian regime has reached an unprecedented level in the last few months.
And there is a simple reason why: The next domestic uprising could be the one that ousts the religious dictatorship and allows the public to achieve their long-sought dream of democracy. With that in mind, the entire world must remain on guard against Iranian propaganda. To speak ill of the Iranian resistance at this historical moment would support the clerical regime in its bid to tighten its hold on the Iranian people.
In light of the brutal crackdown on protesters in recent weeks, as well as the harassment of journalists and media outlets including the British national broadcaster, it should be clear that such an act would be unconscionable for anyone who values democracy and human rights.
*Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council. He serves on the boards of the Harvard International Review, the Harvard International Relations Council and the US-Middle East Chamber for Commerce and Business. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh
History according to the former emir of Qatar
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/March 12/18
For some, truth is not that important; what is more important is what can be presented to people. This is what Doha is trying to do, presenting fiction as fact, such as a documentary it has produced that fabricates the story of former Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani’s coup against his father, and claims that there was a plot to bring the father back to power.
Because of the coup’s scandal, and since it detracts from the current government’s legitimacy, I never expected Qatar, which has the worst reputation in the Gulf, to talk about its recent history in the first place.
The story of the coup is so bad that it cannot be whitewashed with fabricated documentaries and false testimony. Its history is still fresh, most of its witnesses are still alive, and given its alliance with Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda and Al-Nusra Front, Doha’s reputation is now even worse.
The tragedy began when Sheikh Hamad, who still rules Qatar behind the scenes, overthrew his father in 1995 and shook the entire Gulf society. Sheikh Hamad’s "new version of history" claims that three countries conspired against him and tried to carry out a coup the following year.
But in 1996, and for seven consecutive years, Qatar was guarded only by a small defense force, along with its police. Qatar still is a city-state whose population at the time did not exceed half a million, only a quarter of them locals. Thus, it would not have been difficult for a big country such as Saudi Arabia, which shares land and sea borders with Qatar, to intervene if it wanted to, but it did not, nor did the other Gulf states.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Treaty governs the six geographically and tribally interrelated states. Had they really desired regime change then, they could have done that easily and legally, for the legitimacy was with the father, Sheikh Khalifa, whose removal from power was treacherous. Yet the Gulf states did not intervene, except by trying to contain the conflict between the father and son, and end the dispute amicably.
Indeed, when Abu Dhabi hosted the deposed Sheikh Khalifa, it asked him to respect its laws and refrain from political activity; Riyadh did the same. I, actually, met the angry and hurt father in his hotel suite in Abu Dhabi at the time, when I was working on a film about the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, and he had a role in its liberation. I recall then that Abu Dhabi wanted us not to talk about the coup.
No one should ever think that overthrowing Sheikh Hamad in 1996 would have been difficult had the Gulf states wanted to do so. They could have considered his coup-government illegitimate, maintained the legitimacy of his father as ruler, entered Doha with him and controlled it in one day.
The capital’s residents would not have resisted the return of their deposed emir, who was not known for using violence or ill-treatment against his citizens; unlike his son, who has expelled 5,000 citizens from Al-Murrah tribe and stripped them of their nationality only because some of them did not support the coup.
The truth is that Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain committed a historic mistake when they trusted Sheikh Hamad, received his father and the 5,000 expelled Qataris, and only tried to bring about reconciliation. They should have returned Sheikh Khalifa to power. Perhaps this is what prompted the latter to attempt a meagre counter-coup that failed because his son knew about it in advance from his spies within Sheikh Khalifa’s inner circle.
Had Riyadh sought to overthrow Sheikh Hamad, it would have succeeded; since it had the legitimate ruler on its side, there was no US base and no large Qatari forces protecting Sheikh Hamad, and since the distance between the Saudi border and Doha is only 94 km.
Sheikh Hamad did not dare falsify the truth at the time. He did not accuse his neighbors, as he does now, because he knew that Saudi forces could have returned his father to his palace in Doha within hours, and most governments and Qataris would have supported the return of legitimacy. But the Kingdom did not do that because the Gulf states usually avoid interfering in the disputes of royal families.
But why has Sheikh Hamad, hiding behind his son Tamim, the current emir, decided to produce a documentary claiming that he was the target of Saudi-Emirati-Bahraini intrigues? He has because he has no other way to justify to his people why he is plotting against regional countries except by inventing fairy tales.
It is pity that Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain did not conspire and intervene to bring back Sheikh Khalifa to power; because had they done so they would have changed the region’s history for the better.
Obvoiusly, ever since Sheikh Hamad’s coup, the region has been suffering from extremism and chaos.
• Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is a veteran columnist. He is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya news channel, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat.