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 Friday, February 24, 2006

George Bush' s IRAQ Spiralling Downwards into Deadly Civil War

  Read here original article

Iraq is closer to the brink of what many fear could turn into a full-fledged civil war.

More than 100 people were reported dead Thursday as the fierce sectarian passions unleashed by the bombing of one of Shiite Islam's holiest shrines raged unchecked.

Despite appeals for calm, including a fresh plea from President Bush, the mood in the country was far from conciliatory. Sunni and Shiite politicians traded blame, accusing each other of fomenting the violence.

The bombing of the shrine has triggered an outpouring of suppressed grief and rage by the country's majority Shiites, who have long borne the brunt of the suicide bombings perpetrated by Sunni extremists over the past 2 1/2 years.

The Iraqi Islamic Party said 169 mosques have been attacked, burned or occupied across the country in what appear to be retaliatory attacks by Shiite militias.
The figure could not be independently confirmed, but armed Shiite militias continued to roam in many neighborhoods of Baghdad, residents said, and the attacks on mosques and other Sunni targets went on.

Sunni leaders announced they are suspending their participation in talks with Shiite and Kurdish parties for a new government, saying it is "not acceptable to negotiate with people who are harming us."

The government imposed a nationwide curfew from 8 p.m. Thursday until 4 p.m. Friday, a dramatic step that will prevent all Iraqis from attending the traditional Friday noontime prayers.

Shops, offices and businesses were closed in observance of a three-day period of national mourning for the destruction of the gold dome of the 9th-century shrine, which contains the remains of two of Shiite Islam's most revered imams.

All leave was canceled for the Iraqi security forces, who were deployed in strength across the country.

U.S. forces, who are increasingly ceding the streets to the incomplete Iraqi army and police force, kept a low profile.

Still, seven American soldiers were reported killed in two separate roadside bombings in the northern town of Hawija and in Balad, just north of Baghdad.

Shiites staged more demonstrations in Baghdad and Shiite cities across the south, but the mood was calmer than Wednesday, when the rage ignited by the bombing of the shrine showed how quickly Iraq could disintegrate into chaos.

The bodies of 47 men were found bound and shot in the head in a ditch near a factory in Diyala province. An Interior Ministry official said all the men were Shiites; an official with the Islamic Party said they were Sunnis.

Among the dead found Thursday were the bodies of Sunnis, including several prominent imams, who were abducted during the wave of attacks Wednesday against Sunni mosques in retaliation for the bombing of the Askariya mosque in Samarra.

A bomb blast in the town of Baqouba killed 16 people.

Also killed were a correspondent and two employees of the Al-Arabiya TV network, whose bullet-riddled bodies were found in Samarra on Thursday morning near their satellite truck.

In the Baghdad neighborhood of Zayouni, armed men burst into the Kazaza mosque during afternoon prayers, sprinkled gasoline on the carpets and set the building ablaze. As terrified worshippers fled the flames, four were seized by the gunmen and taken away, according to Abdul Rahman Mohammed, the mosque's sheikh.

Among those appealing for calm was radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who cut short a visit to Lebanon and flew to Iran on his way back to Iraq.

In a telephone call from the Iranian city of Qom to Al-Jazeera, he called for the creation of a joint "committee of Shiite and Sunni clerics to attend to this crisis. Sunni and Shiite mosques are being attacked as if we are enemies," he said.

But Sunni leaders say al-Sadr's Mahdi army has been responsible for much of the violence against Sunni mosques.

The Association of Muslim Scholars, a prominent Sunni group, issued a statement implicitly criticizing the top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and other senior Shiite clerics "for calling for demonstrations when they know Iraq cannot control the streets."

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 Monday, February 20, 2006

MUST READ !! The Propaganda Lies of the West on the Middle East Conflict and Israel

  by
Ilan Pappe
(Ilan Pappe is the author, most recently, of The Modern Middle East)

Norman Finkelstein in his book "Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History," challenges the conventional line on Israel
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Why is the history of modern Palestine such a matter of debate?

Read here full article

Why is it still regarded as a complex, indeed obscure, chapter in contemporary history that cannot be easily deciphered?

Any student of its past who comes to it with clean hands would immediately recognize that in fact its story is very simple. For that matter it is not vastly different from other colonialist instances or tales of national liberation.

It of course has its distinctive features. It is a chronicle of a group of people who left their homelands because they were persecuted and went to a new land that they claimed as their own and did everything in their power to drive out the indigenous people who lived there.

The naked truth about how outsiders coveted someone else's country is not sui generis, and the means they used to obtain their newfound land have been successfully employed in other cases of colonization and dispossession throughout history.

Generations of Israeli and pro-Israeli scholars, very much like their state's diplomats, have hidden behind the cloak of complexity in order to fend off any criticism of their quite obviously brutal treatment of the Palestinians in 1948 and since.

They were aided, and still are, by an impressive array of personalities, especially in the United States.

Nobel Prize winners, members of the literati, and high-profile lawyers—not to mention virtually everyone in Hollywood, from filmmakers to actors—have repeated the Israeli message:
This is a complicated issue that would be better left to the Israelis to deal with.
An Orientalist perception was embedded in this polemical line:

Complex matters should be handled by a civilized (namely, Western and progressive) society, which Israel allegedly was and is, and not entrusted to an uncivilized (i.e., Arab and regressive) group like the Palestinians.

The advanced state will surely find the right solution for itself and its primitive foe.

When official America endorsed this Israeli position, it became the so-called Middle Eastern peace process, one that was too sophisticated to be managed by the Palestinians and hence had to be worked out between Washington, DC, and Jerusalem and then dictated to the Palestinians.

The last time this approach was attempted, in the summer of 2000 at Camp David, the results were disastrous.

The second intifada broke out, and it rages on as this article goes to press.

The Zionist narrative is as simple a story as the history of the conflict itself.

  • The Jews redeemed their lost and ancient homeland after two thousand years of exile, and when they "returned" they found it derelict, arid, and practically uninhabited.

  • There were others on the land, but they were basically nomads, the kind of people you could, as Theodor Herzl wrote in 1895, "spirit away" outside the Promised Land.

  • Still, the empty land somehow remained populated, and not only this, but the elusive population rebelled and tried to harm the Jewish returnees.

    Like any other narrative, this one too can be laid out elegantly and scholarly or conveyed coarsely and simply.

    It can appear as a sound bite on American television when a suicide bombing is "contexualized," or it can dominate a book produced by one of the prestigious university publishing houses in the West.

    But however verbose or taciturn Israel's advocates may be, the historical narrative they insist on broadcasting is a false representation of the past and present realities in the land of Palestine.

    In academia, the Israeli claim of complexity and the Zionist time line as a whole have been exposed as propaganda at best.

    The emergence of critical and post-Zionist scholarship in Israel helped this process along by providing internal deconstruction of the Zionist metanarrative and accepting many historical claims made by the Palestinians, especially with regard to the events of 1948.

    The group of "new Israeli historians" who have focused on 1948 have endorsed the basic Palestinian argument that the native people were forcefully dispossessed in what today would be called an ethnic-cleansing operation.

    But outside the universities, particularly in the United States, public figures continue to be embarrassingly and unapologetically pro-Israeli.

    Few have dared to challenge these self-appointed ambassadors because many of them are quite often influential journalists, highly placed lawyers, or former politicians, ex-hostages of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in its most active years.

    Norman G. Finkelstein is one of the few who has.

    In 1984 he confronted head-on Joan Peters's From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict Over Palestine, which claimed that most of the Palestinians made their way into the territory only in the 1920s and '30s—an assertion so ridiculous it made Peters's book easy prey.

    Finkelstein tore her argument to shreds.

    Now, in Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse
    of History,
    Finkelstein goes after bigger targets and challenges some of the most sacred taboos in the American public arena regarding Zionism and Israel. One such exposure involves the misuse, indeed abuse, of Holocaust memory in defense of Zionism.

    Any substantial criticism of Israel is immediately branded by apologists for the state as a new wave of anti-Semitism.

    The Anti-Defamation League's grotesque manipulation of the message of Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ and its purported association with the Palestinian struggle against occupation makes one wonder how intelligent people—even basically moral people—could spin such idiotic tales and arouse unwarranted, hysterical reactions with the effect of papering over Israeli atrocities on the ground.

    The puzzlement grows when one reads Finkelstein's industrious, at times sarcastic book, which shows how easy it is to distinguish what happened in fact from what Israeli sources (and their American defenders) say happened.

    Finkelstein does not particularly care for the scholarly work by historians because of their political positions (such as Benny Morris) and self-inhibited Israeli human rights organizations such as B'Tselem show that even within their apologetic and cautious representations, there are few doubts remaining on two issues: that Israel forcibly ejected the Palestinians in 1948 and that it has abused, oppressed, and humiliated those that remained ever since 1967.

    Most of the individuals are all named in the book.

    One after another, the most famous figures in the American Zionist establishment—and some fellow travelers, like the current president of Harvard—are all shown here to subscribe to the exact same message:
    Criticism of Israel feeds a new wave of anti-Semitism in the United States.
    Reading their declarations in a single place, one can appreciate the madness of their views, and Finkelstein has NOT missed a thing.

    And to his further credit, he does not dismiss the possibility that anti-Jewishness has in fact risen as a result of Israeli brutality in the occupied territories.

    But the cry of anti-Semitism is not a response to this development; it is rather, in his words, "an ideological weapon to deflect justified criticism of Israel and, concomitantly, powerful Jewish interests."

    No one co-opts intelligence in defense of a fable better than Alan Dershowitz.

    Finkelstein observes that, unlike Elie Wiesel, a troubled Jew who cannot apply his universal moral standards to the state of Israel and thus legitimizes all its misdeeds and crimes by default, Dershowitz comes from the realm of criminal law. He has himself stated that "the criminal lawyer's job, for the most part, is to represent the guilty, and—if possible—to get them off."

    Israel must be guilty in Dershowitz's mind, as becomes apparent in The Case for Israel, which defends his client's most obvious crime—its human rights record.

    It would have been a more "complex" case had he chosen to stand for Israel's right to exist or its wish to represent world Jewry, but no: He opted to cleanse the most glaringly unpleasant feature of the Jewish state since its inception—its treatment of the Palestinians.

    In so doing, Dershowitz attacks everyone from Amnesty International and the United Nations to Israeli human rights organizations and Jewish peace activists, on top of course of condemning anyone who is Palestinian or pro-Palestinian. They are all part of the new anti-Semitism.

    The most original aspect of Finkelstein's book is his deconstruction of Dershowitz's praise for the Israeli Supreme Court and his own examination of the court's record.

    Finkelstein's book is full of evidence of Israeli oppression that in itself is essential reading for those who wish to judge Dershowitz's propagandist claims.

    But the Israeli Supreme Court is one of the strongest links in an otherwise very weak chain on which Dershowitz hangs his defense of Israel.

    It is after all a body commended throughout the world for its professionalism and impartiality.

    Finkelstein systematically shows how the most callous aspects of the occupation—torture centers, demolition of houses, targeted killings, and denial of medical carewere in fact legitimized a priori by the Israeli Supreme Court.

    The court, and the legal system as a whole, like the Israeli media and academia (neither of which is treated in the book), are essential components in the state oppression and occupation of the West Bank.

    Much more work needs to be done in this direction; hopefully Finkelstein will be one of many who further analyze this atrocious reality.

    The concluding section of Finkelstein's book is devoted to the historiographical aspects of Dershowitz's work.

    We can only concur with Finkelstein that "next to Alan Dershowitz's egregious falsification of Israel's human rights record and the real suffering such falsification causes, Dershowitz's academic derelictions seem small beer."

    The Palestinians deserved, but NEVER received, the same empathy and support good-hearted Americans usually lend to occupied, oppressed, and persecuted people the world over—even those harassed by their own government.

    Shrewd advocates of the occupier and the oppressor—abusing Holocaust memory and heightening years of anti-Semitism—succeeded for a long time in stifling solidarity with the Palestinians.

    This book cracks the wall of deception and hypocrisy that enables the daily violation of human and civil rights in Palestine.

    As such, it has the potential to contribute to the removal of the real wall that shuts out those in the occupied territories.

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     Thursday, February 16, 2006

    NEW Abu Ghraib Prison Torture Photos

      UPDATE

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    Abu Ghraib prison guard showing off his tattoo

    Click here MORE photos taken in the Abu Ghraib Prison

    Click here "Photos America Doesn't Want to be seen"

    Click here recent Abu Ghraib Torture Photos published by Australia's SBS TV

    Click here MORE photos of Abu Ghraib Prison Torture

    Click here MORE Abu Ghraib Torture Photos

    READ HERE Background of the Abu Ghraib Torture and Prison Abuse (from Wikipedia)

    Other Breaking News

  • COMMENTARY by Walter Shapiro - Why we're publishing the new Abu Ghraib photos:America -- and the world -- has the right to know what was done in our name.: Abu Ghraib cannot be allowed to fade away like some half-forgotten domestic political controversy, which may have prompted newsmagazine covers at the time, but now seems as irrelevant as the 2002 elections. Abu Ghraib is not an issue of partisan sound bites or refighting the decision to invade Iraq. Grotesque violations of every value that America proclaims occurred within the walls of that prison. These abuses were carried out by soldiers who wore our flag on their uniforms and apparently believed that Americans here at home would approve of their conduct. Rather than hiding what they did out of shame, they commemorated their sadism with a visual record. Read here for more

  • Australian public broadcaster Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) on Thursday defended its decision to show previously unseen pictures of the abuse of prisoners in Iraq's notorious Abu Ghraib prison by United States troops.The producer of the Dateline programme that aired the photographs and videos, Mike Carey, dismissed complaints from Washington that the broadcast could further inflame anti-US sentiment and endanger troops in Iraq.Describing the charge as a "joke", Carey told the national AAP news agency that troops are already at great risk in Iraq. "I don't think anything that we do here in Australia is going to make their risk any greater or smaller," he was quoted as saying. "We put them to air because it's our responsibility as reporters to get this stuff on air." Read here for more

  • Top officials in the Bush administration have expressed concern about the release of more photos of abuse of detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. They're concerned that it will trigger violence around the world. Read here for more

  • An Australian network could be justified in airing graphic images of abuse at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison if they showed evidence of mistreatment that has not already been investigated, Prime Minister John Howard said today.Read here for more


  • Read here full article in Salon.com

    CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE TORTURE PHOTOS ---> NEW Abu Ghraib Torture Photos

    Salon has obtained files and other electronic documents from an internal Army investigation into the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal.

    The material, which includes more than 1,000 photographs, videos and supporting documents from the Army's probe, may represent all of the photographic and video evidence that pertains to that investigation.

    The files, from the Army's Criminal Investigation Command (CID), include hundreds of images that have NEVER been publicly released.

    Along with the unpublished material, the material obtained by Salon also appears to include all of the famous photographs published after the Abu Ghraib scandal broke in April 2004, as well as the photographs and videos published Wednesday by the Australian television news show "Dateline."

    The source who gave the CID material to Salon is someone who spent time at Abu Ghraib as a uniformed member of the military and is familiar with the CID investigation.

    The DVD containing the material includes a June 6, 2004, CID investigation report written by Special Agent James E. Seigmund.

    That report includes the following summary of the material included:

    "A review of all the computer media submitted to this office revealed a total of
    -1,325 images of suspected detainee abuse,
    - 93 video files of suspected detainee abuse,
    -660 images of adult pornography,
    -546 images of suspected dead Iraqi detainees,
    -29 images of soldiers in simulated sexual acts,
    -20 images of a soldier with a Swastika drawn between his eyes,
    -37 images of Military Working dogs being used in abuse of detainees and
    - 125 images of questionable acts."

    The photographs )Click here to see --> NEW Abu Ghraib Torture Photos ) represent a small fraction of these visual materials. None, as far as we know, have been published elsewhere.

    They include:
    - a naked, handcuffed prisoner in a contorted position;
    - a dead prisoner who had been severely beaten;
    - a prisoner apparently sodomizing himself with an object; and
    - naked, hooded prisoner standing next to an American officer who is blandly writing a report against a wall.

    Other photographs depict a bloody cell.

    The DVD also includes photographs of guards threatening Iraqi prisoners with dogs, homemade videotapes depicting hooded prisoners being forced to masturbate, and a video showing a mentally disturbed prisoner smashing his head against a door.

    Oddly, the material also includes numerous photographs of slaughtered animals and mundane images of soldiers traveling around Iraq.

    Accompanying texts from the CID investigation provide fairly detailed explanations for many of the photographs, including dates and times and the identities of both Iraqis and Americans.

    Based on time signatures of the digital cameras used, all the photographs and videos were taken between Oct. 18, 2003, and Dec. 30, 2003.

    It is noteworthy that some of the CID documents refer to CIA personnel as interrogators of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. But no CIA officers have been prosecuted for any crimes that occurred within the prison, despite the death of at least one Iraqi during a CIA interrogation there.

    Human-rights and civil-liberties groups have been locked in a legal battle with the Department of Defense since mid-2004, demanding that it release the remaining visual documents from Abu Ghraib in its possession.

    It is not clear whether the material obtained by Salon is identical to that sought by these groups, although it seems highly likely that it is.

    Barbara Olshansky, deputy legal director at the Center for Constitutional Rights, said, "We brought the lawsuit because we wanted to make sure the public knew what the government was doing, particularly at these detention facilities," and, "It is the public's right to know."


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    Cartoon Crisis: Western Businesses Burn in Pakistan Riots

      Read here full article by Declan Walsh in The Guardian UK

    Seventy-thousand demonstrators surged through the Pakistani city of Peshawar, ransacking western-linked businesses yesterday, as violence again flared over cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad.

    Rioters torched a KFC restaurant, a Norwegian phone office, banks and cinemas in the third day of violence in the north-western city and Pakistan's largest protest yet.

    Two people died, including an eight-year-old boy hit by a stray bullet.

    The government deployed troops and ordered the closure of all schools in the area for a week.

    There was further upheaval in Lahore where a 30-year-old man was shot dead during clashes with police.

    Volence is gathering momentum in Pakistan, the world's second-most populous Muslim nation, after a fortnight of mostly peaceful protests.

    Officials believe the trouble is being spurred by radical groups ahead of a visit by George Bush next month.

    The Pakistani protests highlight how the cartoon crisis has become a lightning rod for broader anti-western sentiment.

    Anti-US sentiment has risen sharply across Pakistan since a US Predator drone bombed a tribal village last month, missing its target, the al-Qaida No 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri, but killing 13 villagers.

    Many Pakistanis are also unhappy with the pro-American alliance of President General Pervez Musharraf.

    In Peshawar rioters chanted "Down with America" and "Death to Bush".

    Food chains such as McDonald's, Pizza Hut and KFC were targeted there and in Lahore.

    The wave of violence also washed over Tank, a town near the Afghan border, where an estimated 2,000 people set fire to shops selling CDs, DVDs and videos. Militants had warned the shops to close, saying music and videos were against Islam.

    North-West Frontier province is governed by the MMA coalition of conservative religious parties, some with links to the Taliban. Despite the violence it has refused to ban the rallies. Tariq Ahmed Khan of the Pakistan Human Rights Commission criticised the government for failing to take a more robust stance. "If they had mobilised the army this could have been stopped in its tracks," he said.

    Protests against Danish cartoons lampooning the prophet Muhammad have subsided across most of Asia and the Middle East.

    Malaysia shut down a Chinese-language newspaper for two weeks for publishing a photo that contained one of the offending cartoons, which Muslims view as an affront to their faith.

    In the Philippines capital, Manila, hundreds of demonstrators burned Danish flags outside the Danish consulate. w

    Indonesia's trade association announced a boycott of its products.

    The opean Commission president José Manuel Barroso spoke out in defence of the Danes, calling them "a people who rightly enjoy the reputation as being among the most open and tolerant in the world".

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     Sunday, February 12, 2006

    ALL Danes Urged to Leave Indonesia

     

    Other Breaking News

  • Muslims are set to rally across Europe to vent their anger over satirical images of the Prophet Mohammed, a day after Denmark's ambassador to Syria temporarily left the country over security fears. Newspapers across Europe have republished some or all of the 12 cartoons, which first appeared in a Danish newspaper last September, prompting violent demonstrations across the world, particularly in the Middle East.Read here for more

  • France's top Muslim organisation has decided to take legal action against French newspapers that printed cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad. The French Council of Muslim Faith (CFCM) said it was acting after receiving lawyers' advice. CFCM lawyer Maitre Hafiz said details of the case were still being worked out, without specifying charges. Five French newspapers have published the cartoons, that have led to angry protests across the Muslim world. Read here for more

  • Iraq: Pictures from a video allegedly showing British soldiers brutally beating a group of Iraqi teenagers have been published by the News of the World. The footage appeared to show soldiers dragging youths and kicking them.The Ministry of Defence are probing the incident, which the newspaper said happened in southern Iraq in 2004. On the tape, described as a "secret home video", an unidentified cameraman is heard laughing and urging his colleagues on. It was apparently filmed for fun by a corporal. Read here for more

  • Iran's hard-line president threatened more changes to the country's nuclear policy on Saturday. "The nuclear policy of the Islamic Republic so far has been peaceful. Until now, we have worked inside the agency [International Atomic Energy Agency] and the NPT [Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty] regulations. If we see you want to violate the right of the Iranian people by using those regulations [against us], you should know that the Iranian people will revise its policies. You should do nothing that will lead to such a revision in our policy," said Ahmadinejad.Read here for more


  • Read here full article

    Denmark is urging its citizens to leave Indonesia citing a threat from an extremist group over the publication of drawings of Islam's Prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper.

    The Danish government has withdrawn its ambassador to Indonesia due to security reason, following the massive protests against the controversial publication of cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad, according to Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda. Read here for more

    Indonesia says it is not aware of any specific threats.

    Denmark's Foreign Ministry said it had received "a significant and imminent threat to Danes and Danish interests in Indonesia" from the group on Saturday afternoon.

    The Danish government also removed envoys from its embassies in Indonesia, Syria and Iran because of "concrete" security threats.

    Indonesia's Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda on Sunday termed Denmark's decision "hasty."

    "We have given protection to the ambassador and his staff. Moreover, the demonstrations in Indonesia have been relatively peaceful," he said, according to Reuters news agency.

    Wirajuda said Indonesia did not have any specific information about threats to Danish citizens, Reuters reported.

    Protests have spread around the world over the drawings, which have subsequently been reprinted in other papers, because depictions of the Prophet Mohammed are forbidden under Islam.

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     Friday, February 10, 2006

    HAMAS Has a Friend in Russian President Putin

      Read here original article

    Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, yesterday said he would invite leaders of Hamas, the victorious Islamist party in last month's Palestinian elections, to Moscow to discuss the Middle East peace process.

    Mr. Putin has decided to pull away from agreed US and European policy to isolate HAMAS.

    By extending the invitation, Russia has become the first member of the international Quartet, sponsors of the "roadmap" peace plan, to openly engage with the Islamist group.

    The US and EU have said that they will not deal with Hamas until it renounces violence and recognises Israel.

    The UN has also called on the Islamist movement to lay down its arms.

    But Hamas has said it would not be pressed into recognising Israel, in spite of threats to cut international aid to the Palestinians.

    On a visit to Madrid, Mr Putin said:

    "We need to recognise that Hamas has come to power as a result of a legitimate election and we need to respect the will of the Palestinian people.

    To burn bridges would be the simplest action, but it lacks perspective.

    Preserving our contacts with Hamas, we are willing in the near future to invite the authorities of Hamas to Moscow to carry out talks "

    Mr Putin did not specify a date for the meeting but a trip to Moscow would be a diplomatic coup for Hamas leaders, who have so far not been welcome outside the Arab and Islamic world.

    It was not the first time he had voiced such an opinion. In a news conference late last month, after the Palestinian elections, he said Russia had "never regarded Hamas as a terrorist organization," and did NOT rule out financial aid for a Hamas-led government.

    Ismail Haniya, one of the movement's leaders in Gaza who was elected to parliament last month, said yesterday: "If we receive an official invitation to visit Russia, we will visit Russia."

    The Palestinian National Authority approves of Russia's plans to invite the leadership of the radical Islamic group Hamas, recently elected to the Palestinian parliament, to Moscow, a PNA diplomat said Thursday.

    "We hail steps seeking to settle the situation in the region, which will finally lead to peace and the establishment of an independent state with the capital in Jerusalem and borders of 1967," an advisor of the PNA embassy in Moscow said. Read here for more

    Israeli officials in Jerusalem expressed their shock Thursday evening following Russian President Vladimir Putin's invitation to Hamas leaders to visit Moscow.

    The officials made it clear that Putin's remarks contradict the Quartet's stance.

    They added that the Putin's statement Russia does not consider Hamas a terror group contradicts the outlook of the entire international community. Read here for more

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    Democratic Arguments on the Danish Cartoons

      by

    Haroun Siddiqui

    Read here original article

    The controversy surrounding the cartoons featuring the Prophet Muhammad has given rise to several propositions that deserve to be debated.

    It is said that Muslims are trying to force non-Muslims to live by Islamic taboos.

    Not so.

    Muslims in the West are only asking that democracies live up to their rules — exercise freedom of speech with the concomitant responsibility of self-restraint, and also respect people of all faiths or no faith at all.

    This is not a new proposition. It has always been a balancing act between competing rights.

    That's why Jyllands-Posten's publication of the offensive drawings was "juvenile," in the apt phrase of a New York Times editorial. That's why most dailies in Canada and the U.S. have refused to reprint the cartoons (not because they are "afraid," as some polemicists say).

    It is said that only the fundamentalists and conservatives are offended.

    Not so.

    The offence is broadly felt. Some take to the streets, millions don't. Critics include such "moderates" as Hosni Mubarak and Hamid Karzai.

    Many non-Muslims are upset as well, including the Vatican ("an unacceptable provocation") and Grand Rabbi Joseph Sitruk of France.

    It is said that the controversy raises doubts about whether Muslim immigrants can be integrated in Europe.

    From a Canadian perspective, I find this particularly specious.

    We have in the past spouted similar nonsense about Catholics and Jews, and also against the Chinese, Japanese, Italians and other "unassimilable" groups.

    In hurling this charge at Muslims, the Europeans are exposing their own bigotry.

    It is said that Arabs/Muslims are being hypocritical in criticizing the cartoons since they routinely demonize Israel, even Jews.

    I said so myself in the Sunday column. But later I thought it to be an argument of limited value. It says, in effect: "Since they do it, we can do it, too."

    No, we ought to conduct ourselves by our own democratic standards (see above).

    It is said that the Muslim reaction to the depiction of the Prophet constitutes selective outrage because Muslim artists have drawn the likeness of him.

    Some have through the ages, mostly in miniatures. These are stored in the famous Topkapi Palace Library in Istanbul or other collections. Most, however, do not show his face. The few that do are relics of history. The ban is now widely accepted and observed.

    That should suffice as a guide to our democratic conduct. Otherwise, it will be open season on the belief systems of others. Today it is Islam, tomorrow it may be some other faith.

    It is said that there would have been no uproar had some Danish Muslim leaders not gone to the Middle East to drum up support.

    They had every right to seek allies, anywhere. They were not out stoking violence and are not responsible for it. The real culprits are those who created the controversy.

    Moreover, the small Muslim delegation went abroad only after both the newspaper and the government had refused to listen to their concerns.

    (Memo to media everywhere:
    When the people you have offended come calling, see them. It's just courtesy and does not amount to bowing to pressure. In fact, in this business we routinely listen to the rich and the powerful, whereas it is the marginalized that need more of our attention.)

    (Memo to the editors of Jyllands-Posten:
    If you were striking a blow for freedom of speech, why did you grovel once the economic boycott started to bite and you felt the domestic heat? And if you are indeed sorry, how come the cartoons keep cropping up in other publications, presumably with your permission?)

    It is said that the consumer boycott of Danish products is misplaced, in that it hurts innocent Danish businesses and workers.

    It does. That's always so with boycotts. And economic sanctions.

    The 1991-2003 sanctions on Iraq killed nearly 1 million innocent Iraqis, half of them children.

    One does not justify the other but the context is not irrelevant.

    It is said that no grievance justifies violence.

    Absolutely.

    But the biggest victims have been Muslims — 11 dead so far, killed by their own anti-riot police in Afghanistan, Somalia and elsewhere. That speaks to the pathology of Muslims.

    But that's not what's driving the narrative here. Rather, it is the damage caused to Danish embassies and the fear of terrorism that conflates all Muslims with terrorists.

    This, too, is selective outrage.

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     Thursday, February 09, 2006

    Danish Newspaper Offer to Publish Iran's HOLOCAUST Cartoons

     

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    Pakistani protesters in Lahore burn a French flag to condemn publication of cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammad in European newspapers. (AP Photo/K.M.Chaudary )

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    Related article

  • It was the children’s book about the Koran that led to rioting across the world against the cartoons of Muhammad and it has become something of a bestseller. "The Koran and the Life of the Prophet Muhammad," by Kåre Bluitgen, illustrated with ten pictures of Muhammad, has been reprinted twice since it was published two weeks ago in Denmark. Mr Bluitgen, who has written 31 books, said: “This is absolutely the fastest-selling ever.” When he was writing the book Mr Bluitgen complained that illustrators would only work for him anonymously out of fear of Islamic extremists. "It’s bizarre. I write a book to promote understanding between cultures and now I see Danish embassies burning in the Middle East,” he said. “All I can do is sit on the sidelines and watch.” Read here for more

  • The Wall Street Journal in its issue of Feb 7 reports that 'Egypt's secular government' helped the Danish Islamic clerics as it was "eager to burnish their image as defenders of Islam" thus providing "an important initial impetus for the protests". Egypt's Ambassador to Copenhagen, Ms. Attia, told the WSJ that she wasn't motivated by political concerns but by personal outrage. "I was very angry. I was very upset," she told the WSJ, describing the cartoons as an unacceptable insult to all Muslims. She acknowledged meeting with the Danish clerics several times but denied coordinating strategy with them. Read here for more

  • The 135-year-old newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, that enflamed the Muslim world by publishing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad once offended Nikita Khrushchev so much that the Soviet leader cancelled a trip to Denmark.In 1992, an editorial bluntly criticizing an anti-immigrant party provoked a furious reaction from conservative voters and readers.Based in Jutland, 160 kilometres northeast of Copenhagen, the paper's circulation is 154,000 on weekdays, rising to about 203,000 on weekends. The controversy over the cartoons has had little effect on those numbers, sales manager Kim Vetsergaard said. Read here for more

  • The editors of a New York alternative newspaper, New York Press resigned on Wednesday over what they called their managers' REFUSAL to publish controversial cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad.Harry Siegel said that he and three colleagues on the editorial board of the New York Press resigned after being ordered not to print the cartoons in an issue dedicated to the controversy.The same newspaper drew criticism last year for making light of Pope John Paul's failing health. Read here for more

  • The Danish Islamic scholar who brought cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad to the attention of Muslim leaders around the world says he was only trying to boost his campaign to get an apology from the Danish newspaper that first published them. "I guess we took the illustrations to influential people so they could help," Ahmed Akkari told CBC News on Wednesday. "Is it so tough giving an apology?" The 31-year-old took the illustrations with him during a December trip to the Middle East. Read here for more

  • Denmark's government, angry at local imams accused of whipping up anti-Danish anger in the Middle East over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, said yesterday it would exclude them from talks on ethnic minority integration.A number of Danish politicians and the media have accused some Muslim leaders of stirring up resentment during a tour of the Middle East in December and January. Read here for more

  • COMMENTARY: The Real Truth Behind Cartoons Fury: The Danish cartoons only sparked some mild complaints when they first appeared last September.The present wave of intense protests was sparked when half a dozen other newspapers throughout Europe provocatively reprinted the cartoons last month.This was coupled with European political and press leaders telling the Islamic world that Western freedom of the press was a higher moral value and a greater political priority than Muslims' concern that their leading prophet not be subjected to blasphemy and insult.This occurs at a time when Islamist political movements throughout the region are winning election after election. Islamist identity repeatedly triumphs. Read here for more

  • A Moscow museum, the Sakharov Museum and Public Center, has announced it will exhibit the entire series of cartoons of Prophet Mohammed. Yury Samodurov, director of the museum said on Russian television that the center was ready to organize a public exhibition of the cartoons satirizing the founder of Islam that originally were published in a Danish newspaper. "We must show the whole world that Russia goes along with Europe, that the freedom of expression is much more important for us than the dogmas of religious fanatics," Samodurov said.The exhibition reportedly will open in March. Lawyer Yury Shmidt has said he will invite French philosopher Andre Glucksmann and French novelist Michel Houellebecq to the opening ceremony to read lectures about the threat of Islamic fundamentalism. Read here for more

    Read here original article

    Iran's Holocaust Cartoon Competition

    The Danish editor of Jyllands-Posten, the newpaper responsible for publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad said he's willing to publish cartoons on the Holocaust from Iran.

    "My newspaper is trying to establish a contact with the Iranian newspaper, and we would run the cartoons the same day as they publish them," Flemming Rose of the newspaper Jyllands-Posten said Wednesday in an interview on CNN's American Morning.

    The Iranian newspaper Hamshahri said Tuesday it would hold the competition to test whether the West extends the same principle of freedom of expression to the Nazi genocide as it did to caricatures of the Prophet.

    The Iranian newspaper said its contest would be launched Monday and co-sponsored by the House of Caricatures, a Tehran exhibition centre for cartoons.

    The newspaper and the cartoon centre are owned by the Tehran Municipality, which is dominated by allies of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, well-known for his opposition to Israel and has questioned the Holocaust as a possible `myth.'.

    The Jesus Cartoon

    Meanwhile, the chief editor of Jyllands-Posten's Sunday edition, Jens Kaiser, said Wednesday it was quality, not content, that made him reject caricatures of Jesus three years ago, even though he told the cartoonist at the time that he feared "an outcry."

    The cartoons had been sent in unsolicited.

    Kaiser's e-mail to the cartoonist rejecting the drawings has been circulated to news media in recent days, apparently to question Jyllands-Posten's commitment to free speech regardless of topic.

    In his e-mail, Kaiser told the rejected cartoonist that readers would not enjoy the drawings, which "will provoke an outcry."

    Kaiser said Wednesday that he had actually rejected them because "their quality was not good."

    However, he conceded that it "looks like we have opted for a line to publish Muhammad drawings and not Jesus drawings."

    "I have been Sunday editor for 18 years, and I can say that 90-95 per cent of the unsolicited material we get is turned down," he said.

    Call for Editor to Resign

    Meanwhile, the editor of Jyllands-Posten, Carsten Juste, said Wednesday he had no intention of resigning over the issue.

    He remarks came after Danish Foreign Minister Uffe Ellemann-Jensen said on national radio that "when an editor-in-chief admits he made an erroneous judgment ... he should quit."

    Jyllands-Posten said on Jan. 30 it regretted it had offended Muslims and apologized to them, but stood by its decision to print the cartoons, saying it was within Danish law.

    Two days later, Juste said he would not have printed the cartoons had he foreseen the consequences.

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     Wednesday, February 08, 2006

    Cartoon Crisis: Nigerian MPs Burn Denmark's and Norway's Flags

     

    Other Breaking News

    Cartoon depicting Anne Frank in bed with Adolph Hitler on Islamic website

  • A small Arab movement active in Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark called the Arab European League posted a drawing on its Web site of Hitler in bed with Anne Frank. "Write this one in your diary, Anne," Hitler was shown as saying. The intent of the cartoon, the Arab European League said, was "to use our right to artistic expression" just as the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten did when it published a group of cartoons showing Muhammad last September. "Europe has its sacred cows, even if they're not religious sacred cows," said Dyab Abou Jahjah, the founder of the organization, which claims rights for immigrants aggressively but without violence. Read here for more and HERE


  • NIGERIA

    Nigerian Members of Parliament (MP) cheered in the northern majority Muslim state of Kano as Danish and Norwegian flags were burned in a ceremony in the Parliament premises.

    The flags were torched to show disapproval of the publication in Denmark and Norway of cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad.

    Earlier Kano state MPs passed a resolution to call off multi-million dollar trade negotiations with Denmark.

    Some 200 people, including the 40 state parliamentarians, attended the flag burning.

    They shouted "Allah Akbar" (God is great) as Kano's parliament speaker Balarabe Saidu Gani set the flags alight.

    On Monday, the MPs passed a resolution ordering the Kano state government


  • to call off negotiations with Denmark over a hydroelectric plant worth some $25m and

  • to cancel the purchase of 72 buses from the country worth some $57m.

    The Christian Association of Nigeira has condemned the publication of the cartoons.

    Tensions between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria have led to clashes leaving thousands dead in recent years.

    NIGER

    In Niger, thousands took part in banned protests against the cartoons. The centre of Niger's capital, Niamey, came to a standstill as tens of thousands of Muslim protesters called on Niger's government to condemn the cartoon.

    Permission for the march was withdrawn at the last minute for fear the situation would get out of hand, but the protesters ignored this.

    For three hours, religious leaders addressed angry crowds condemning what they called the gratuitous provocation of Muslims by the West.

    Anti-riot police protected Denmark's embassy in the capital, but the demonstration came to an end peacefully.


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    How the Cartoon Crisis Unfolded: A Chronology of Events

      UPDATE

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  • Denmark's prime minister said on Tuesday violent Muslim protests over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad were a worldwide crisis spinning out of the control of governments. "We're facing a growing global crisis that has the potential to escalate beyond the control of governments and other authorities," Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said as anti-Danish protests spread in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. U.N. peacekeepers from Norway, which has also attracted Muslim wrath after a Norwegian paper reproduced the cartoons, were attacked by mob in Afghanistan.In a poll by Epinion for Danish radio, about four in 10 people said publication of the cartoons meant there was now a serious risk of an attack. The cartoon row raised concerns for the safety of Danish troops in Afghanistan and in Iraq, though there are no plans to pull out. On Tuesday, in Afghanistan, protesters armed with assault rifles and grenades attacked the NATO base in the northern city of Maymana, which is manned by peacekeepers from Norway, Finland, Latvia and Sweden, local officials said.
    Read here for more

  • In Philippines, hundreds of Muslims burned a Danish flag in Cotabato City yesterday and urged a boycott of Danish products.The protesters, mainly religious students demanded that the Danish government take action against the newspaper that first published the 12 editorial cartoons.Read here for more

  • COMMENTARY: FREEDOM of expression is a much-valued asset in liberal democracies. The right to express one's views freely and without fear of discrimination or persecution sets Western democracies apart from quasi-democratic regimes in the developing world.This freedom has been a beacon for many Muslims fleeing authoritarian rule. European Muslims, numbering more than 30 million, have found protection and freedom under this tolerant liberalism. Freedom of expression, however, is not a carte blanche for slander. It is commonly acknowledged that rights and responsibilities go hand in hand. What makes this episode even more alarming is the reckless neglect of its predictable implications. It is no secret that Muslims in Europe, Australia and North America feel besieged. The war on terror has put Muslims in the spotlight. There is an ongoing public debate about connections between Islam and terrorism.Read here for more

  • COMMENTARY:The last thing these governments want is another confrontation in which Islam is seen to be pitched against the West. The strategy therefore is to try to prevent this from becoming a "clash of civilisations". Officials fear Islamic radicals will exploit the issue, further justifying their case that the West is basically hostile to Islam. Islamist websites are already calling for revenge attacks. But it has become a clash of culture, an argument about how far free speech should prevail over the sensitivities of a religious or other group. Western government statements have been remarkably uniform. Read here for more


    Breaking News

    Danish paper that printed cartoons of Prophet Muhammad rejected Jesus cartoons in 2003

    Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper that first published the cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that have caused a storm of protest throughout the Islamic world, refused to run drawings lampooning Jesus Christ in 2003 , it has emerged today.

    The Danish daily turned down the cartoons of Christ three years ago, on the grounds that they could be offensive to readers and were not funny.

    In April 2003, Danish illustrator Christoffer Zieler submitted a series of unsolicited cartoons dealing with the resurrection of Christ to Jyllands-Posten.

    Zieler received an email back from the paper's Sunday editor, Jens Kaiser, which said: "I don't think Jyllands-Posten's readers will enjoy the drawings. As a matter of fact, I think that they will provoke an outcry. Therefore, I will NOT use them."

    Read here for more



    Read here original article in Financial Times

    A step-by-step chronology of the Cartoon Crisis as they unfold.

    Sep 17 2005:
    Politiken, a Danish newspaper, runs an article under the headline ”Deep fear of criticism of Islam”, detailing the difficulty encountered by the writer Kåre Bluitgen, who had difficulties finding an illustrator for his children’s book on the life of Mohammed.

    Sep 30:
    Jyllands-Posten, one of Denmark’s best-selling daily newspapers, publishes 12 cartoons of the Prophet to illustrate the problem.

    Oct 12:
    Ambassadors from 10 mainly Muslim nations and the Palestinian representative in Denmark call the cartoons deeply offensive and demand a meeting with Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, urging him “to take all those responsible to task”.

    Oct 21:
    Mr Rasmussen says offended parties should use the courts to air their grievances and refuses to meet the ambassadors.

    Oct 28:
    A coalition of Danish Muslim groups files a criminal complaint against Jyllands-Posten newspaper. A regional prosecutor investigates the complaint, but decides NOT to press charges.

    Dec:
    The Danish Muslim coalition visits the Middle East. seeking support from religious and political leaders.

    Jan 1 2006:
    Mr Rasmussen condemns any actions that “attempt to demonise groups of people on the basis of their religion or ethnic background,’’ but reiterates Denmark’s commitment to freedom of speech.

    Jan 4:
    Amr Moussa, Secretary-General of the Arab League, joins the protests.

    Jan 10:
    Magazinet, a Norwegian Christian newspaper, reprints the cartoons.

    Jan 25:
    Saudi Arabia’s religious leaders demand an apology and call for the Jyllands-Posten newspaper to be punished.

    Jan 26:
    Saudi ambassador is recalled from Copenhagen. Danish companies in Riyadh report a boycott of Danish goods and supermarkets remove products from the shelves.

    Jan 27:
    Protests begin to spread across the Middle East

    Jan 30:
    Jyllands-Posten publishes a statement on its website, saying it regretted offending Muslims and offered an apology, but said it had a right under Danish law to print the cartoons.

    Jan 31:
    Mr Rasmussen calls for calm in the dispute, but the Danish Muslims group say the Jyllands-Posten apology is “ambiguous” and demands a clearer one.

    Feb 1 - 2:
    Media in France, Germany, Britain, Spain, the US, Iceland, Italy, Belgium, Portugal, Switzerland, Bulgaria and Hungary, reprint the cartoons.

    Feb 2:
    France Soir, a Paris daily tabloid, sacks its managing editor for publishing the drawings, but defends its right to print them. In Jordan, the weekly newspaper Shihan’ publishes them with an editorial by former Jordanian senator Jihad Momani but later withdraws issues from circulation.

    Feb 3:
    Danish prime minister meets ambassadors and diplomats from more than 70 countries. Mona Omar Attia, Egypt’s ambassador says the Danish government’s response is inadequate.

    Feb 4:
    A South African court prohibits newspapers from publishing the cartoons. Protesters in Damascus attack the Danish and Norwegian embassies. Mr Momani and Mr Hisham Khalid, editor of al-Mehwar, another Jordanian weekly that published the cartoons, are arrested and charged with insulting religion

    Feb 5:
    Protestors storm the Danish Embassy in Beirut. One person is left dead and several are injured. Iran recalls its ambassador to Denmark. Denmark says it is withdrawing diplomatic staff from Syria and recommending Danes leave the country. Norway confirms it is taking the same action with diplomatic staff in Syria.

    Feb 6:
    Lebanon apologises to Denmark. EU leaders call for calm. Protests erupt in Afghanistan where one person died. Danish and Austrian embassies attacked in Tehran.

    Feb 7:
    Austria, holders of the EU presidency, demand Muslim states improve security measures for European citizens and premises after attacks. Iran suspends trade with Denmark. Norwegian NATO peacekeepers attacked in Afghanistan as demonstrations escalate.

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     Tuesday, February 07, 2006

    The Heavy Costs of JOURNALISTS' Insensitivities and Arrogance

     

    Other Breaking News

  • IRAN: Iran Newspaper holds HOLOCAUST Cartoon Contest

    Iran's biggest-selling newspaper,Hamshahri, announced yesterday that it was holding a contest for cartoons of the Holocaust in response to the publication in European papers of caricatures of the prophet Mohammed."It will be an international cartoon contest about the Holocaust," said the graphics editor of Hamshahri, Farid Mortazavi. "The Western papers printed these sacrilegious cartoons on the pretext of freedom of expression, so let's see if they mean what they say and also print these Holocaust cartoons," he said.

    Mr Mortazavi said today's edition of his paper would invite cartoonists to enter the competition, with "private individuals" offering gold coins to the best 12 artists - the same number of cartoons of Mohammed that appeared in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. Read
    here for more


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    Thousands of protesters from the Prosperous Justice Party rally outside the Menara Rajawali building, which houses the Danish Embassy, in Kuningan, South Jakarta, to demand an apology for the publication of caricatures of Prophet Muhammad. (JP/Mulkan Salmona)

    Related articles:

  • Ordinary CITIZENS Paying the Price for JOURNALISTS' Religious Insensitivities and Callousness

  • A Sobering Thought :The Border between Freedom of Speech and the Sacred

    News Compass note: CNN has put out a statement saying "CNN has chosen to not show the cartoons out of respect for Islam."

    Read here full article

    A boycott of Danish goods called by Muslim leaders over the publishing of cartoons of Prophet Mohammad is dealing a blow to the nation's businesses.

    IRAN:
    Oil giant Iran became the latest nation to impose penalties, saying on Monday it would cut off all trade ties with Denmark. Reuters reported that Iran imports $280 million worth of goods from Denmark a year.

    A report on the state-run news agency IRNA said Iranian Commerce Minister Massoud Mirkazemi had stopped trade with Denmark, but certain types of machinery and medicine would be allowed in for another three months.

    Iran has withdrawn its ambassador to Denmark as well.

    QATAR
    Qatar's Chamber of Commerce said it had halted dealings with Danish and Norwegian delegations.

    BAHRAIN
    In Bahrain, parliament formed a committee to contact Arab and Islamic governments to enforce the boycott.

    IRAQ
    Iraq's transport ministry also said it was severing ties with the Danish and Norwegian governments, a move that includes terminating all contracts with companies based in those countries.
    France Soir -- a newspaper that published the cartoons of Mohammed -- was evacuated for nearly three hours Monday after receiving a bomb threat.

    Non-Danish companies have rushed in to tell consumers about the origin of their products in a bid to keep them on supermarket shelves.

    Switzerland's Nestle, Italy's Ferrero and New Zealand's dairy co-operative Fonterra were among the companies putting out newspaper ads showing their products were not made or imported from Denmark, according to Reuters.

    Danish-Swedish dairy company Arla Foods told Reuters it was losing $1.8 million of sales a day in the Middle East. Its products were removed from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait.

    "Not a single sachet of a Danish product is left on our shelves," the director of a Kuwaiti supermarket told Reuters.

    Danes Feel Threatened.

    The cartoons of Mohammed first appeared in a Danish paper Jyllands-Posten in September. The paper said it had asked cartoonists to draw the pictures because the media was censoring itself over Muslim issues.

  • The Danish paper issued an apology in late January after weeks of quieter expressions of outrage and diplomatic efforts to avoid the widespread violence.

    The Danish government says it does not control what is in the country's newspapers and that courts will determine whether the newspaper that originally published the cartoons is guilty of blasphemy.The government has also expressed apologies for the offending drawings.

    Denmark advised its citizens to leave Indonesia on Tuesday.

    "The Foreign Ministry recommends that Danes already in Indonesia leave and that those interested in coming postpone their plans," said Geert Aagaard Anderson, Denmark's ambassador to Indonesia, who said there was little security in place to protect his citizens.Danish missions in the country have been temporarily closed.Protests have been held in the capital, Jakarta, and at least two other cities, with demonstrators throwing rocks and setting fires at several Danish consulates.

    Anderson said he did not know exactly how many Danes were in Indonesia. Close to 250 have registered at the embassy, he said, but the number was likely much higher.Read here for more

    Malaysian Muslims will march to the Danish mission here later this week in protest against the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, an opposition Islamic party official said. Read here for more

    Many of the 5.5 million people of Denmark have been shocked by the extreme scenes of violence they've been witnessing across the Middle East directed towards their government. It is not accustomed to seeing its flag burned in the streets. Most say this is an over-reaction, a matter of freedom of speech and the paper did nothing wrong by printing the cartoon.

    They are concerned this issue may make Denmark a target of Muslim extremists in the future. The country already has troops in Iraq and that has led to some insecurity, they believe. They've also been threatened on the air waves by members of al Qaeda, but this has really taken on a new dimension. People in this quiet northern kingdom are feeling quite insecure now.

    The government of Denmark is more concerned about is the damage to the international image of their country: a country that they like to see as extremely tolerant and one that has respect for all religious groups. And this row has put a big dent in that image.Read here for more

    Some other European papers later published some of the cartoons, as a way of covering the controversy and also, some papers said, as a matter of freedom of expression.

    Two small weekly Jordanian newspapers also reprinted the cartoons and, according to Jordan's Petra News Agency, arrest warrants issued for the editors-in-chief.

    Two protesters were killed and 13 others injured, when Afghan police fired Monday on about 2,000 protesters who tried to enter Bagram Airbase, a U.S. base north of Kabul, The Associated Press reported.

    In Tehran, demonstrators protested outside the Danish Consulate and the Austrian Embassy. Austria is currently serving as president of the European Union.

    Other protests Monday took place in Amman, Tel Aviv, Gaza, Indian-controlled Kashmir, the Indian capital of New Delhi and Kut, a city in southern Iraq where about 5,000 people congregated, burned flags and burned an effigy of the Danish prime minister.


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    Europe's Uncivilized Act - A Right to Provoke ?

      by

    Nasim Zehra
    (Nasim Zehra is adjunct professor at School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University, Washington DC.
    )

    Related article by Bertus Hendriks, "The Right to Provoke?" :

    When the philosopher of the Enlightment, Voltaire, fought for the freedom of expression he did so in fighting the mighty and the powerful and paid for it by being imprisoned and exiled.

    But this time, the perceived insult is coming from the Western world, which at present is clearly more powerful than the Islamic world.

    It's easier to shrug off mocking and satire from somebody weaker than you.

    This current situation seems like adding insult to injury.

    However, that is no reason to give up on the principle of freedom of expression, which is a principle that also stands to benefit the citizens of the Muslim world.

    While freedom of expression no doubt includes the right to provoke, is it necessary to deliberately provoke and hurt? The principle (freedom of expression) still needs to be upheld when attacked,
    but it will gain greater acceptance worldwide if exercised with wisdom and sensitivity. - Bertus Hendriks
    Read here for more

    Read here full article by Dr. Nasem Zehra

    There is no battle to be fought with those who indulged in the ugly act of deliberately insulting my Prophet.

    I am numbed with outrage over this uncivilized act they have committed.

    I would simply say to them, yours are no civilized ways.

    This is their crass response to the growing post-9/11 anti-Islamic sentiment.

    And for people in the business of opinion making to indulge in such reactive acts is extremely dangerous.

    It is highly irresponsible.

    These are people who must play the role of promoting greater understanding - pulling people away from extremist thought and action. Not join the vanguard of anger-prompted extremism.

    Policy-makers and opinion-making community in the West have opted to conduct the discourse on terrorism using a terminology that has unwittingly but dangerously indicted the 1.2 billion Muslims in the world.

    Terms like Muslim terrorists, Islamic terrorists and Islamic terrorism have led to the demonization of the Muslims and of Islam.

    Whatever the European papers may claim they are upholding by ridiculing the Holy Prophet, they would have not contemplated doing so in a pre-9/11 environment.

    Muslims make for easy targets. So does their faith.

    This is a season of acute polarization. For example if the on-line responses of the public are any guide, this act of insulting the Prophet has unfortunately received widespread public support in many European countries.

    The thrust mostly is that there is no reason to compromise on our value of freedom of expression, that if Muslims can't deal with this they must leave, that Muslims are hypocrites because they show no tolerance toward minorities but expect to be shown tolerance.

    Deliberately defiling the Prophet is a highly irresponsible act.

    It is bound to have negative social and political fall-out. It exacerbates the existing social tensions among the locals and the Muslim population.

    It is the arrogance of these Westerners they will resent.

    Like millions of Westerners who have opted to not view terrorists as a fringe phenomenon within the Muslims and instead referred to terrorism as Islamic terrorism, many Muslims too will wrongly implicate the Westerners across the board for this blasphemous act against the Prophet.

    True the protests should have been calmer. Frenzied outrage was unnecessary and as were threats to kill.

    But nothing justified the reprinting of those insulting cartoons across many European countries including France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Switzerland.

    The leadership in most of these countries has not been willing to contest the wisdom of publishing cartoons that are highly disrespectful to another people's faith.

    In fact the degree of insensitivity of the Danish prime minister can be gauged from the fact that when after the September publication the Muslims in Denmark sent repeated requests to meet with the prime minister, he repeatedly ignored their request.

    Essentially conveying "I really don't give a damn".

    Subsequently the Muslim leaders repeatedly went to the Middle East and other Muslim countries and showed them what the Danish papers had done. Subsequently the reaction acquired these proportions.

    The Fogh Rasmussen government has actively sought to dispel and block Muslim residents from Denmark.

    The cartoon is just the tip of the iceberg.

    The way many Europeans have selectively applied the principle of freedom of expression is intriguing.

    When the ancient Buddhas in Afghanistan were criminally destroyed by the Taleban, the Europeans screamed murder the loudest. We all did too in the Muslim world.

    If the freedom of expression is so sacred how many European papers have dared to support what the Iranian president said about questioning the reality of the Holocaust?

    Islam abhors suicide bombings and terrorism. Increasingly Muslim leaders are condemning this openly.

    Are the Europeans so generous in applying their concept of freedom of expression at the cost of causing great pain and injury to Muslim world?

    These are not the ways of a civilized people. These are ways toward pushing for a grand and mad conflict of civilizations.

    Will the European media see wisdom is stepping back and reviewing their dangerous notion of freedom of expression?

    For now the limited apologies that have come were perhaps prompted by the widespread anger and protests emanating from the Muslim world.

    But wisdom and true civilized behavior demands that we internalize the limits of our own freedoms where it begins to undermine the freedom of another.


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    Travel Warning Issued to Danes Travelling Overseas

     

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    Beirut, Lebanon: Protesters torched the Danish embassy on Sunday.

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    Protesters in London


    Other Breaking News

  • The Jerusalem Post today became the first Israeli newspaper to publish the controversial Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad that have sparked furore across the Muslim world. A facsimile of the original page from the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten, in which all twelve cartoons were published, on September 30, is featured in today's edition of the paper. It is also available on the Jerusalem Post digital edition, available to paying subscribers only, but not on the paper's free-access website. The Jerusalem Post did not wish to comment on its decision to publish. Read here for more

  • A South African editor has received threats after her paper reprinted one of the cartoons that have angered Muslim groups internationally. Ferial Haffajee, editor of the Mail and Guardian said she had received abusive letters and text messages. Read here for more

  • Australia is waiting for Muslim reaction to the decision of a well-known political commentator to publish cartoons lampooning the prophet Muhammad on his website. Yesterday, ex-chief of staff at the Daily Telegraph Tim Blair published on his website all 12 of the cartoons, alongside examples of Islamist attacks on other religions. These included "vicious anti-Semitic" and anti-Christian tracts found at an Islamic bookstore in Lakemba, Sydney. The examples also included a warning that women deserved to be raped if they wore "Satanic" clothing such as tight jeans and strapless tops. "All of this is far more hateful than 12 Danish cartoons, not one of which depicts the Prophet eating babies or infecting Africans with Aids (as some Islamic publications claimed against Jews and Christians)," Blair wrote. One of the cartoons also appeared in a weekend edition of Brisbane's Courier Mail. But the country's major newspapers and television channels have rejected publication in the wake of violence overseas and warnings at home from a Muslim population already marked by rising tensions. Read here for more


  • Denmark has listed 14 countries it says Danes should not visit unless strictly necessary, amid Muslim outrage over the Prophet Muhammad cartoons.

    The countries on the Danish foreign ministry's travel advice list are:
    Afghanistan,
    Algeria,
    Bahrain,
    Egypt,
    Iran,
    Jordan,
    Libya,
    Morocco,
    Oman,
    Pakistan,
    Qatar,
    Sudan,
    Tunisia,
    United Arab Emirates.


    Read here original article

    The Danish foreign ministry also recommends against any travel to Syria or Yemen.

    The advice follows protests by Muslims around the world, and attacks against Danish embassies in Syria and Lebanon.

    Norway has also been the focus of protests as the Danish cartoons were republished by the Norwegian press.

    In the Iranian capital Tehran a crowd of about 200 protesters pelted the Austrian embassy with stones, firecrackers and eggs on Monday.

    Austria currently holds the presidency of the European Union.

    Austria's Kleine Zeitung newspaper republished the Danish cartoons on Monday - a move that triggered a strike by about 30 Muslims who deliver newspapers in Graz.

    Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller said he was
    ".... horrified to see the wave of violence and attacks and how this is spreading throughout the Middle East at a rapid pace.

    This is clearly a matter of global concern and a matter that demands collective efforts and swift action.

    It is now a case which is much bigger than the issue of the drawings."

    The Danish newspaper which first published the cartoons, Jyllands-Posten, has apologised to the Muslim world for the offence caused.

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    HAMAS and DEMOCRACY

      by

    Charley Reese

    Image hosting by PhotobucketCharley Reese has been a journalist for 49 years, reporting on everything from sports to politics. From 1969-71, he worked as a campaign staffer for gubernatorial, senatorial and congressional races in several states. He was an editor, assistant to the publisher, and columnist for the Orlando Sentinel from 1971 to 2001. Reese served two years active duty in the U.S. Army as a tank gunner.



    I laughed when Hamas swept the Palestinian elections.

    After all, President Bush and his gang of neoconservative ideologues have been preaching that democracy in the Middle East will lead to peace.

    Oops.

    Now the president will once more have to expose himself as the hypocrite he is. Democracy is good, in Mr. Bush's view, only if it elects the people he wants in office.

    The choice of the Palestinian majority, expressed in what all the observers said was a free and fair election, is NOT acceptable to Mr. Bush.

    Hamas, you should know, has been around for a long time, and for most of that time, the United States did not label it a terrorist organization.

    Hamas has a military wing, but the majority of its efforts have been in providing welfare, medical care, and education to dirt-poor Palestinians who would have to do without but for Hamas.

    Unlike the corrupt Fatah, the Palestinian party Mr. Bush apparently wanted to win, Hamas has a reputation for being honest.

    If there is anything American politicians fear, it is an honest man. More than one is even worse.

    How can the Bush administration bribe the Palestinian Authority into keeping quiet while Israel unilaterally consolidates its position if the elected people won't accept bribes for selling out their constituents? No wonder the Bush White House is worried.

    If I were the leader of Hamas, I would send President Bush a message that said essentially this:

    "Don't worry about not talking to us.

    We have no desire to talk to you. For 39 years you Americans have talked about peace processes and have not recovered one square centimeter of Palestinian land.

    On the contrary, Israel has expanded into Palestinian territory while you prevented the United Nations from taking any action to stop it.

    The conflict in Palestine is quite simple. In 1967, Israel invaded and has since occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

    We lack the military power to eject the Israelis and therefore have zero influence on them.

    You, who have given Israel more than $90 billion, do have influence. So, instead of talking to us, talk to the Israelis.

    As soon as the Israeli occupation is ended, the problem in Palestine will go away.

    In the meantime, we have a lot of domestic problems to solve, which was the platform we ran on anyway."

    As for the suicide bombings Hamas has carried out, I have said before that the method of delivery is irrelevant.

    We and the Israelis deliver our bombs from airplanes, helicopters, and artillery tubes.

    Since the Palestinians are denied modern weapons, they have to walk or drive their bombs to the targets.

    Morally, there is NO difference whatsoever between bombs delivered by air or by foot.

    It is an undeniable fact that we have killed a thousand times more civilians in Iraq, Panama, Libya, Serbia, Grenada, and Vietnam than Hamas has killed Israelis.

    Naturally, we dismiss the civilians we kill as "collateral damage."

    The death toll in the latest intifada, by the way, is 1,084 Israelis killed by Palestinians and 3,786 Palestinians killed by Israelis.

    Not all of those Israelis were killed by Hamas. Fatah also has a military wing, and there are other resistance organizations.

    But back to the president's strategic blunder.

    He should have read my column. I've said over and over that the largest group of people in the Middle East pushing for democracy is the Islamic parties, and the only "friends" we have in the Middle East are the rulers we pay to be our friends.

    You will notice that Egypt, Jordan, and the Saudis, all on our payroll in one way or another, were the first to call on Hamas to moderate its stand. I doubt Hamas will do so.

    That's the trouble with honest people of sincere faith.

    They believe they must answer to a higher authority, and their loyalty is not for sale.

    Palestinians, like everyone else on Earth, have an inalienable right to resist occupation of their homeland.

    It is to our shame and disgrace that we side with the occupiers.

    At any rate, Mr. Bush and the neocons had better be more careful about what they wish for.

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