Latest Analysis and Commentary

Turkey and the Kurds

by Uzay Bulut  •  November 28, 2014 at 5:00 am

For decades Turkey's official policy was: There are no Kurds -- so there is no problem.

"They wanted to send us a message through a beheading, a throat-cutting. This was an organized attack against our party. The [Turkish] state wanted to behead our party administrator in our party building. Behind this attack was the state itself." — Selahattin Demirtas, co-Chairman of the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP).

Turkish soldiers chat with ISIS members on the Syrian border, October 22, 2014.

Turkey: A Laboratory of Various Methods of Oppressing the Kurds

In Turkey, the approximately 20 million Kurds do not have any national rights, autonomy, or even primary schools where they can be educated in the Kurdish language.

The real population of Kurds in Turkey is not known; the Turkish state has not carried out a census of Kurds.

That policy may be deliberate: the Turkish regime seems to prefer to deny everything that is related to Kurdish existence. Turkey's state authorities, before the AKP came to power in 2002, said that when the Turkish republic was established, there were no Kurds – just "mountain Turks," and that Kurdish is not a "real" language. Since then, however, thanks to pro-Kurdish parties, the Turkish government can no longer refer to them that way. The problem remains, however, that the government still does not officially recognize the Kurds and still keeps denying them the autonomy they feel is their right.

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Political Landslides Shake Europe

by Peter Martino  •  November 28, 2014 at 4:00 am

All along the Mediterranean and to the north, parties opposing the EU-mandated austerity policies are growing spectacularly.

The rise of tax-and-spend parties (or rather tax-other-countries-and-spend parties) reinforces the rise of parties such as UKIP in the north.

In the Netherlands, the anti-establishment Party for Freedom (PVV), of Geert Wilders, is currently the biggest party in the polls. Wilders has consistently opposed the bailing out of countries such as Greece and Spain with Dutch taxpayers' money.

Nigel Farage, leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party [UKIP] (Image source: Euro Realist Newsletter/Wikimedia Commons)

Last week, the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) won a landmark victory in the Rochester & Strood by-election. With this win, UKIP secured its second Member of Parliament. The UKIP candidate, Mark Reckless, won 42.1% of the votes, thrashing the Conservatives (34.8%), Labour (16.8%) and the Liberal Democrats (0.9%). It was the first time ever that UKIP stood in Rochester & Strood. The party won votes from all the major parties. The Conservatives lost 14.4% of the votes, Labour 11.7% and the Liberal Democrats a whopping 15.5%.

UKIP is expected to do very well in the British general elections next May. Last month, a poll predicted the party could win up to 25% of the vote in these elections. In the 2010 general elections, the party had only 3.1%.

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Killing Christians: A State-Sponsored Crime in Pakistan

by Mohshin Habib  •  November 27, 2014 at 5:00 am

The mob beat them and broke their legs so they would not be able to flee. "They picked them up by their arms and legs and held them over the brick furnace until their clothes caught fire. And then they threw them inside the furnace." — Javed Maseeh, family spokesman, to NBC News.

The attack was not an isolated one. Rather it seems to be part of systematic killings, community by community.

Shama Bibi (left) and Shahzad Masih, a Christian couple and parents of three children, were burned to death by a Muslim lynch mob in Pakistan because of a false blasphemy accusation.

Imagine you are a person of Christian faith living as a citizen in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan: every moment your life is at risk. Imagine a Pakistani Muslim shouting that you have burned a page of holy Quran when you have not; or accusing you of having desecrated the Prophet Mohammed: you have hardly any chance of saving yourself. There would be no question of providing evidence or proof against you. You would be killed either by the mob or by the country's legal system.

If you were one of the 3% minority Christians of Pakistan, you would fear for your life every moment among the majority Muslims; any one of them could shout and point at you as the Nazi collaborators did during the Second World War against the Jews. You inevitably would be beaten to death by your fellow countrymen.

This month in Pakistan, a Christian couple and their unborn child were burned to death, because of a false accusation of burning pages of a Quran.

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Message for Thanksgiving Day

November 27, 2014 at 4:00 am

We have so much to be thankful for – let us treasure and safeguard it. — The Editors

Spain: Fate of Ex-Muslim Critic of Islam Hangs in Balance

by Soeren Kern  •  November 26, 2014 at 5:00 am

The Supreme Court's ruling is eerily similar to an international blasphemy law being promoted by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a bloc of 57 Muslim countries dedicated to implementing a worldwide ban on "negative stereotyping of Islam."

Firasat's lawyers say that they have presented the court with irrefutable evidence that the charges against Firasat were fabricated by Indonesian authorities, but that this evidence has been ignored by a judiciary that is under political pressure from the Spanish government to get rid of Firasat once and for all.

"Even if Indonesians do not punish me for death, how will I be protected from Muslims who consider me a blasphemer and an apostate? Will I be able to get a fair trial when the judges, prosecution, fake witnesses and lawyers, everybody will be a Muslim?" — Imran Firasat

Firasat said it was never his intention to provoke the Spanish government, but that he felt it was his duty to "warn of the dangers of not understanding or stopping what is known as Jihad."

Left: Imran Firasat and his family. Right: The poster for "The Innocence of Islamic Jihad," a video produced by Firasat in 2013.

A Spanish court is deliberating the fate of Imran Firasat, an ex-Muslim from Pakistan who faces imminent deportation because the Spanish government has deemed his criticism of Islam to be a threat to national security.

Firasat's lawyers, however, argue that sending him back to Pakistan or any other Muslim country would be the equivalent of a death sentence because Islamic Sharia law prescribes the penalty of death for Muslims who commit apostasy.

Firasat, now 36, obtained political asylum in Spain in 2006 because of death threats against him in both Pakistan and Indonesia for leaving the Islamic faith and marrying a non-Muslim.

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The Netherlands' Newest "Accomplishment"

by Abigail R. Esman  •  November 26, 2014 at 4:00 am

The first national Muslim party in the Netherlands is now a fact.

Seleuk Ozturk (left) and Tunahan Kuzu (right) speak to the media, November 2014. (Image source: NPO video screenshot)

The Netherlands, that country that so bravely pioneered movements such as gay marriage and the legalization of marijuana, seems on the brink of pioneering yet another: the official Islamization of Europe's parliaments.

That, anyway, would seem to be the wish of Tunahan Kuzu and Seleuk Ozturk, the founders of the country's newest political party, which they established only a few days ago after splitting from the Partij van de Arbeid (PvdA), or Labor Party, in a dispute over Dutch Turkish organizations and the Dutch Turkish community at large. Although their party, Group Kuzu/Ozturk, has not yet been entirely defined, its creators describe it in sweeping terms as "the party the Netherlands longs for," aimed at promoting "a society in which everyone is treated equally."

Except that does not seem to be what they actually have in mind.

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Islamists: "Destruction is a Matter of Time"

by Mitchell Bard  •  November 25, 2014 at 5:00 am

"If the Jews left Palestine to us, would we start loving them? Of course not. The Jews are infidels not because I say so but because Allah does... They aren't our enemies because they occupy Palestine; they would be our enemies even if they had not occupied anything." — Muhammad Hussein Ya'qub, Egyptian cleric.

Muslim extremists trust that time is in their side, in part because they are on the threshold of acquiring nuclear weapons. Once Iran and other Muslim countries have this capability, they will have the military means to blackmail their oil-rich neighbors, destroy Israel and threaten Europe.

Today Israel, tomorrow Spain, and then...? Left, Hamas' 25th anniversary logo shows all of Israel colored in Hamas' Islamic green. Right, a translated Islamic State map that includes all formerly Islamic-ruled lands that they plan to reconquer.

What makes negotiations with Iran, ISIS, Hamas or any other Islamist group impossible is that their leaders believe they are acting according to the immutable word of God. America, Israel, other Muslims with whom they disagree, cannot do anything to satisfy them except "submit" (the Arabic word "Islam" means "submission"). As Egyptian cleric Muhammad Hussein Ya'qub said in a televised sermon in 2009, "If the Jews left Palestine to us, would we start loving them? Of course not. The Jews are infidels not because I say so but because Allah does... They aren't our enemies because they occupy Palestine; they would be our enemies even if they had not occupied anything."

Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and other terror groups do not conceal their intentions. The Hamas covenant explicitly calls for Israel's destruction and does not distinguish between Israelis and Jews:

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Hamas: Rebuild Gaza or We'll Attack Israel

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  November 24, 2014 at 5:00 am

The only option Hamas faces, therefore, is to attack Israel again as a way of ridding itself of the severe crisis in the Gaza Strip and the growing frustration among the Palestinians living there. Hamas's biggest fear is that this frustration will be translated into disillusionment with its regime. That is why Hamas is now seeking to direct the anger on the Palestinian street toward Israel.

Hamas is also hoping that another war will further increase anti-Israel sentiment around the world and earn the Palestinians even more sympathy.

Hamas's threats should be taken seriously.

A destroyed building in Gaza. (Image source: UNRWA/Shareef Sarhan)

Hamas is once again threatening to attack Israel, this time over the failure of the international community and the Palestinian Authority to fulfill their promises to rebuild the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of Operation Protective Edge.

Hamas leaders are particularly angry with the Palestinian Authority [PA] and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, whom they accuse of hindering efforts to rebuild hundreds of destroyed homes in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas is also angry with the Egyptians for closing the Rafah border crossing after a terror attack in Sinai in which 32 Egyptian soldiers were killed.

Moreover, Hamas has rejected the United Nations plan to reconstruct the Gaza Strip on the pretext that it "sidelines" the Islamist movement and allows Israel to decide who would benefit from the work. "The UN plan is unacceptable and ineffective," said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.

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Obama's Legacy (and Europe's)

by Guy Millière  •  November 23, 2014 at 5:00 am

It is difficult to think that President Obama — or leaders in Europe — want their names to go down in history as the fools who actually legitimized a rogue entity such as "Palestine" or enabled Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. But just as Neville Chamberlain is looked on as the biggest laughing stock in history for promising "peace" with Hitler, so can Obama's legacy be that of an even bigger fool. Chamberlain, after all, did not have a Chamberlain to warn him.

Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, meets Rami Hamdallah, Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, on November 8, 2014, in Ramallah. Hamdallah recently honored a pair of suicide bombers who murdered 16 people, saying "God grant them His Paradise". (Image source: EU)

On October 30, when the Swedish government recognized "the State of Palestine," Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said she thought that the decision "shows the way" to other European governments.

It seems she is right. Even earlier, on September 30, French President François Hollande declared that "France will soon recognize a Palestinian state." French Socialist representatives are presently working on a text along those lines. And on October 13, the British Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of the official recognition of "Palestine", even if the vote was non-binding.

But non-binding votes can easily lead to binding decisions.

Sure enough, true to Wallstrom's prediction, on November 18, the Spanish parliament did the same thing — on the same day as a murderous terrorist attack on Israeli civilians praying at a synagogue in Jerusalem.

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Morocco: Model for Islam

by Mohamed Chtatou  •  November 23, 2014 at 4:00 am

Today, Moroccans proudly highlight their multiple and composite identity: Amazigh, Arab, Islamic, Jewish, African, Andalusian and Mediterranean -- and their age-old openness and acceptance of the "other."

The ruins of Lixus, Morocco. (Image source: Pedro Varela/Flickr)

Morocco is a land of tolerance, acceptance and coexistence. King Hassan II has described it as a tree whose roots are in Africa, its trunk in Morocco, the side branches in the Middle East and its top foliage in Europe.

Sitting on the crossroads of so many cultures, religions and civilizations, Morocco has become through the centuries a haven for countless cultures, ethnicities and ways of life.

So, for many millennia and still today, Morocco accepts the "other" in all his "otherness."

Because of this mingling of cultures, Moroccans have acquired the disposition of accepting the "other," no matter how complex his difference might be and how alien his "otherness."

Moroccans are, by nature, friendly, open, and tolerant of other people. Their most important quality, by far, is their ability to welcome in other life experiences and adapt them to their lives.

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Qatar and Terror

by Denis MacEoin  •  November 22, 2014 at 5:00 am

Although outwardly more liberal than the Saudis, the Qataris have surpassed them as financiers of extremism and terrorism.

U.S. officials reckon that Qatar has now replaced Saudi Arabia as the source of the largest private donations to the Islamic State and other al-Qaeda affiliates.

Qatar, the world's wealthiest country per capita, also has the unsavory reputation for the mistreatment and effective slavery of much of its workforce.

Leaders of Western states threatened by jihadi advances are happy to sit down with the largest financiers of terrorism in the world, offer them help, take as much money as they can, and smile for the cameras.

Qatar finances terrorists with one hand, while the other joins hands with the West. Above: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in New York City on September 25, 2014. (Image source: U.S. State Department)

There is a central weakness in the coalition against the Islamic State [IS] in Syria, as pointed out by Bryan Bender in the Boston Globe. There are 62 members of the coalition, some of which are Arab states: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain, Iraq, and Qatar. The U.S., however, carries the greatest weight in the air campaign against the self-proclaimed Caliphate. America had carried out 3,589 sorties by August 8, its partners 8; between September 23 (when most partners joined in attacks) and November 3, U.S. sorties numbered a further 3,320, with 1,090 by other coalition members.

The U.S., therefore, flies over 75% of missions -- an indication of American intent? It's not quite that simple.

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Turkey's Bark and Bite

by Burak Bekdil  •  November 21, 2014 at 5:00 am

Calls and campaigns against Israeli-made commodities and companies allegedly owned by Jewish businessmen, including Turkish Jews, fill Islamist newspaper pages every day.

"Moses is Moses. Jesus is Jesus. And Business is business." — Western Ambassador in Ankara.

Anti-Israel protesters in Istanbul, Turkey are shown waving the flags of Hamas and the PLO, as well as the black flag of jihad, July 19, 2014. (Image source: PressTV YouTube video screenshot)

Turkey's prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, expressed pride on Nov. 11, that "Turkey was the [world's] loudest voice against Israel's actions."

"From here, I once more call on Israel and Israel's brutal rulers: Don't you dare considering resuming these attacks against al-Quds [Jerusalem] and the al-Aqsa Mosque, regarding ... internal turmoil and tension in the Islamic world as an opportunity. Even if everyone remains silent, the government of the Republic of Turkey will not keep silent," Davutoglu said.

"Moses is Moses, Jesus is Jesus and business is business," a Western ambassador in Ankara said after shyly smiling at Davutoglu's televised speech. He was right.

In a recent article in this journal, this author reminded that:

"At an international donors' conference for Gaza in March 2009, the Turkish pledges stood at a mere $93 million. That pledge accounted for only 2.1 percent of all international pledges made at that conference.

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Deterioration of Human Rights in Iran
Interview with Shabnam Assadollahi

by Kaveh Taheri  •  November 21, 2014 at 4:30 am

If Iran is able to have nuclear-tipped missiles pointing at Berlin, Paris and London, it would not even have to use them. The threat would be enough.

Even more disturbing is that many people inside Iran have alerted the U.S. Administration for over three years about more — other — nuclear facilities secretly being built in Iran; these have not been declared to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

If you want the government to control your internet, you can move to China.

Since Hassan Rouhani (right) became the president of Iran, the surge in executions has given Iran the world's highest death penalty rate per capita.

Kaveh Taheri: What, in your opinion, is the cause of the surge in executions and arrests in Iran?

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Beautifying Islam

by Ahmed Vanya  •  November 20, 2014 at 5:00 am

Many people are understandably asking: What is the true nature of Islam? Is it that although there are many peaceful Muslims, Islam itself is not peaceful?

Classical Islamic law, developed over the history of Islam, is definitely not peaceful or benign, and therefore not suitable for this age; neither are its violent and grotesque progeny, such as Islamism and jihadism.

If Islam is a religion that stands for justice and peaceful coexistence, then this policy of jihad cannot be justified as sanctioned by a just and merciful creator.

Religious traditions have changed and evolved over time, therefore it is the duty of us Muslims, using reason and common sense, to reinterpret the scriptures to bring about an Islam that affirms and promotes universally accepted human rights and values. It is our duty to cleanse the traditional, literalist, classical Islam and purify it to make it an Islam that is worthy to be called a beautiful religion.

In the Battle of Karbala in 680 CE (48 years after Muhammad's death), depicted in Abbas Al-Musavi's painting, Husayn, the son of 'Ali and grandson of Muhammad, was killed along with his family and all his followers by the armies of the Umayyad Caliphate. It was the most crucial moment in the split between Shi'a and Sunni Islam. (Image source: Brooklyn Museum)

Looking at a year of beheadings by ISIS, child grooming abuses in the UK, judicial misconduct by the hanging judges of Iran, slaughtering and enslaving of Christians in Egypt and Africa, and various murders justified in the name of Islam throughout the world, many people are understandably asking: What is the true nature of Islam? Is it that although there are many peaceful Muslims, Islam itself is not peaceful?

If, for us Muslims, Islam is a religion of peace, justice, and mercy, how come the militants, who claim to be staunch Muslims -- who are ready to die for Islam and who claim to have established a state in the name of Islam in Iraq and Syria by sacrificing blood and lives -- are beheading journalists and aid workers, and enslaving religious minorities, all by citing Islamic Sharia Law?

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Turkey's "Foreign" Citizens

by Burak Bekdil  •  November 19, 2014 at 5:00 am

For most Islamists, there is no difference between the words "Israel," "the Israeli government," "Jew" or "Turkish Jew:" they are all the same, and are all regarded with hostility.

The interior of Neve Şalom Synagogue in Istanbul, which was bombed along with the Bet Israel Synagogue on November 15, 2003, killing 27 people and injuring over 300.

In 2008, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's official news agency, Wafa, reported that Israel had released poison-resistant rats to drive Arab residents of Jerusalem out of their homes. Scientists are still trying to understand how rats are trained to distinguish between Muslim, Christian and Jewish residents of a city.

In 2011, Saudi Arabia announced that it had "detained" a vulture carrying an Israeli leg band. The griffon vulture was carrying a GPS transmitter bearing the name of Tel Aviv University, and was condemned for being a part of a "Zionist espionage plot." We are still waiting to hear if the bird was beheaded or sentenced to life in prison.

Also in 2011, one of the two Turkish celebrities, who had been accused of raping prostitutes, defended himself by saying that the whole incident was "an Israeli plot against him."

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