Latest Analysis and Commentary

The Erosion of Free Speech

by Denis MacEoin  •  May 3, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • "If PEN as a free speech organization can't defend and celebrate people who have been murdered for drawing pictures, then frankly the organization is not worth the name." — Salman Rushdie, former President of PEN.

  • Today, a genuine fear of retribution for a "blasphemous" statement has subdued the will to stand up for one's own beliefs, values and the right to speak out. This fear has made most of the West submissive, just as Islam -- in both its name [Islam means "submission"] and declarations -- openly wants.

  • This time, the condemnation had not come in a fatwa from Iran's Supreme leader, but from a Western academic. If we do not reverse this trend, censorship, blasphemy laws, and all the other encumbrances of totalitarians, will return to our lives. The bullies will win.

  • If Geert Wilders and others are being accused of hate speech, then why isn't the Koran -- with its calls for smiting necks and killing infidels -- also being accused of hate speech?

  • The mere criticism of a religious belief shared by many people mainly in the Third World has been linked, with no justification, to their genuine prejudice against the inhabitants of the developed world.

Theo van Gogh (left) was murdered by an Islamist because he made a film critical of Islam. Salman Rushdie (right) was lucky to stay alive, spending many years in hiding, under police protection, after Iran's Supreme Leader ordered his murder because he considered Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses "blasphemous."

Anyone who has had much to do with publishing, or anyone who cares about books and free speech, will be familiar with the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom, an enduring champion of the First Amendment and the public's right to read whatever they please -- without the interference and censorship of self-appointed guardians of inoffensiveness and sexual purity.

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U.S. Lets American Pastor Saeed Abedini Rot in Iran's Prison

by Uzay Bulut  •  May 3, 2015 at 4:00 am

  • "Recently, prison guards have threatened that even if he serves the full eight years, he will not be released, and that they will find new grounds to continue to hold him indefinitely." — Naghmeh Abedini, wife of Pastor Saeed Abedini.

  • Shamefully, the U.S. government has said that the four Americans being held by Iran are not even part of the current negotiations with Iran.

  • No wonder the great historian Bernard Lewis says that "America is harmless as an enemy and treacherous as a friend."

American Pastor Saeed Abedini with his family, before his imprisonment in Iran. (Image source: American Center for Law and Justice)

This week, on May 7, Saeed Abedini, an American pastor, will "celebrate" his 35th birthday behind bars in a prison for "violent offenders" in Iran, simply for being a Christian.

He has already been held in two of Iran's most brutal prisons -- first in Evin, and now in Rajai-Shahr -- for three years, out of an eight-year sentence.

According to his official website, "On 28 July 2012, during a visit to Tehran to visit family and to finalize the board members for an orphanage he was building in Iran, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard detained Abedini, asserting that he must face criminal charges for his Christian faith."

In an interview with Gatestone Institute, Abedini's wife, Naghmeh Abedini, said that her husband is still exposed to pressures and mistreatment both from the guards and also from different Islamic militant groups within the prison:

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How Democracies Decay

by Burak Bekdil  •  May 2, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • Turkey's stealth Islamism and authoritarian practices are no longer stealth.

  • It is a powerful analogy showing how theoretically "democratic" Turkey is moving in the same direction as Germany's Weimar Republic did after 1933, in passing unconstitutional legislation.

Istanbul riot police rough up fans of the band Grup Yorum who protested the government's cancellation of the band's concert, April 12, 2015. The police stated that permission for the concert was revoked because it could have led to "undesired incidents" in the current "tense period."

"That [Turkey] sounds to me like the late Weimar Republic. So I would have no difficulty at all in agreeing that the logics of certain possibilities are being put together in ways that seem very reminiscent to the broader context of right-wing thought in Weimar Republic, especially after 1930." Thus commented Geoff Eley, a British-born historian whose early work focused on the radical nationalism in Imperial Germany, and, in Italy, fascism.

It is a powerful analogy showing how theoretically "democratic" Turkey is moving in the same direction as Germany's Weimar Republic did after1933.

Historians often refer to Germany's federal republic and semi-presidential representative democracy, which in 1919 replaced imperial rule, as the Weimar Republic.

After a period of relatively liberal democracy, President Paul von Hindenburg in 1930 assumed dictatorial emergency powers to back the administrations of three German chancellors, and finally Hitler.

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Counter-Extremism and the 2015 British Elections

by Samuel Westrop  •  May 1, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • The [Conservative] Government has drafted legislation designed to give the Charity Commission greater powers to shut down charities linked to terrorism. Some critics argue, however, that many of the government's promises are largely bluster.

  • If Labour wins the upcoming elections, the next government will include a number of Ministers with strong Islamist ties.

  • The UKIP's foreign policy, however, seems tolerant of the Russian-Iranian axis.

  • "We have been impressed by the warm and welcoming attitude of the SNP." — Azzam Tamami, Hamas's "special envoy" to the UK.

A law proposed by UK Home Secretary Theresa May (left) would target terror suspects by measures such as confiscating passports, denying use of the internet and telephones, restricting domestic travel, and forcible relocation. (Image source: UK Home Office)

On May 7, the British electorate will go to the polls in the 2015 general election. Voters will elect their local members of parliament. It seems voters may not, however, be able to choose their next government.

As in 2010, current polling data suggests a hung parliament, in which no political party can achieve an outright majority. Governance requires the confidence of the House of Commons. Of the 650 parliamentary seats, then, a ruling coalition requires the backing of at least 326 MPs.

For the past five years, Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative Party has retained the confidence of the House through a reasonably successful and stable coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

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Britain's Labour Party Vows to Ban Islamophobia
Islam, Muslims and the British Elections

by Soeren Kern  •  April 30, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • "In Miliband's Britain, it will become impossible to criticise any aspect of Islamic culture, whether it be the spread of the burka or the establishment of Sharia courts or the construction of colossal new mosques. ... If he wins, Miliband will ensure that the accelerating Islamification of our country will go unchallenged." — Leo McKinstry, British commentator.

  • The report shows that Britain's Muslim population is overwhelmingly young and will exert increasing political influence as time goes on. The median age of the Muslim population in Britain is 25 years, compared to the overall population's median age of 40 years.

Despite several grassroots campaigns to encourage British Muslims to vote in greater numbers, some prominent Islamists in the UK claim that voting is a "sin."

The leader of Britain's Labour Party, Ed Miliband, has vowed, if he becomes the next prime minister in general elections on May 7, to outlaw "Islamophobia."

The move — which one observer has called "utterly frightening" because of its implications for free speech in Britain — is part of an effort by Miliband to pander to Muslim voters in a race that he has described as "the tightest general election for a generation."

With the ruling Conservatives and the opposition Labour running neck and neck in the polls just days before voters cast their ballots, British Muslims — who voted overwhelmingly for Labour in the 2010 general election — could indeed determine who will be the next prime minister.

In an interview with The Muslim News, Miliband said:

"We are going to make it [Islamophobia] an aggravated crime. We are going to make sure it is marked on people's records with the police to make sure they root out Islamophobia as a hate crime.

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How Non-Muslims "Survive" in Turkey

by Burak Bekdil  •  April 30, 2015 at 4:00 am

  • A non-Muslim can rise and become a darling of today's neo-Ottoman Turks. He can win hearts and minds in important offices in Ankara -- and a bright career. But to maintain his fortunes, he must remain loyal to the official Islamist line, both in deed and rhetoric.

  • That is the kind of collective psychology into which Turkey's ruling Islamists force non-Muslims: either become a collaborator or...

Prominent non-Muslims in Turkey, then and now. Left, an Ottoman Janissary officer, who was taken as a child from a non-Muslim minority community. Right, the Armenian Christian intellectual Etyen Mahcupyan, who "retired" from his position as advisor to Turkey's Prime Minister after he angered Turkey's ruling Islamists by saying "what happened to Armenians in 1915" was "genocide".

Last October, Etyen Mahcupyan, a leading Turkish Armenian intellectual, "liberal" writer and columnist, was appointed as "chief advisor" to Turkey's Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu. At first glance, this was good news in a country where Islamists privately adhere to the old Ottoman "millet" system, in which non-Muslims were treated as second-class (if not third-class) citizens.

In reality, Mahcupyan was a reincarnation of the Ottoman "devshirme" system, in which the Ottoman state machinery produced several non-Muslim converts who enjoyed a place in the higher echelons of the palace bureaucracy, and the finer things of life, because their pragmatism earned them excellent relations with the ruling Muslim elite.

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The Palestinians No One Talks About

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  April 29, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • The international media continues to ignore the "plight" of the Palestinians living under the rule of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, as well as a number of Arab countries, especially Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.

  • "The Palestinian Authority does not want democracy." — Mother of Jihad Salim, assaulted by Palestinian interrogators who asked him why the Islamic Bloc won student elections at Bir Zeit University.

  • The international community pays attention to Palestinians only when they are "victims" of Israel. The continued obsession of the media with Israel allows the Arab countries, as well as the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, to proceed with their systematic violations of human rights and freedom of speech.

A Palestinian woman, shopping at an open-air market in Gaza, complains to Al Jazeera News about a new tax being imposed by Hamas, April 25, 2015. (Image source: Al Jazeera video screenshot)

The international community seems to have forgotten that Palestinians live not only in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but also in a number of Arab countries, especially Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.

Western journalists covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict regularly focus on the "plight" of Palestinians who are affected by Israeli security policies, while ignoring what is happening to Palestinians in neighboring Arab countries.

These journalists, for example, often turn a blind eye to the daily killings of Palestinians in Syria and the fact that Palestinians living in Lebanon and other Arab countries are subjected to Apartheid and discriminatory laws.

A Palestinian who is shot dead after stabbing an Israeli soldier in Hebron receives more coverage in the international media than a Palestinian woman who dies of starvation in Syria.

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Take Cuba off the State Sponsors of Terrorism List?

by George Phillips  •  April 28, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • Let us not give Castro the resources he needs to continue his regime's 56-year reign of terror on his own people, and his continued support for terrorists and terrorist states.

  • To enrich and solidify that dictatorship at this time only prevents the Cuban people from being able to forge a better life through elections in a few years, now that they are finally "on the one-yard line," when the Castro brothers, now in their eighties, could simply be left to their natural, un-bankrolled, ends. In a dictatorship such as this, only the dictators benefit.

Left: Panama Canal inspectors discovered an illegal arms shipmen being smuggled on a ship from Cuba to North Korea, hidden under thousands of tons of sugar, in July 2013. Right: Cuban dissident Digna Rodriquez Ibañez was pelted with tar by agents of the regime, in February 2015.

As Sonia Alvarez Campillo was leaving Catholic Mass on July 14, 2013 with fellow members of Ladies in White, her pro-democracy organization, she was assaulted by Raul Castro's agents.

These "security" agents broke Alvarez Campillo's wrist as well as her husband's ribs in their attack on her and other members of her group.

Sunday after Sunday in Cuba, the Ladies in White (Damas de Blanco) -- members of a movement started in 2003 by wives and other female relatives of jailed dissidents in Cuba -- have peacefully demonstrated for freedom and human rights in cities across Cuba. They have continually been harassed, beaten, and imprisoned in Raul Castro's Cuba.

In an attack just two months ago, Lady in White member Digna Rodriquez Ibañez was pelted with tar by agents of the regime.

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Turkey's Supposed Nemesis: "The Mastermind"

by Burak Bekdil  •  April 27, 2015 at 4:00 am

  • "The Mastermind" is not the product of a bunch of crazy fanatics. It is a calculated move by a bunch of smart politicians who want to win votes from an inherently anti-Semitic, religiously devout Muslim population.

  • It is an ugly but clever move, reminiscent of the various methods applied by the Nazi propaganda machine in the 1930s, to abuse millions of minds.

The title screen from the new anti-Semitic Turkish documentary, "The Mastermind."

Turkey's biggest enemy, according to its Islamist rulers, is not the fanatical jihadists who now neighbor their country in large swathes of land in Syria and Iraq; nor is it the thousands of "sleepers" at home -- the same jihadists who have not staged a sensational act of terror, but might yet. The enemy is not the political and military advance of Shiite radicals in the region, or a nuclear Iran. It is not extreme left-wing terrorists who only recently murdered a state prosecutor. It is not Russia, China or Western civilization. It is what President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says is "the mastermind" that tirelessly plots against Turkey.

In a December 2014 speech, Erdogan said:

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The Moderate Muslim Stands Alone

by Samuel Westrop  •  April 26, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • If officials, the police and even Jewish leaders wish to encourage solidarity with the Muslim community against extremist rhetoric and terror attacks such as in Paris, is it not far better to work with Muslims who do not advocate the killing of non-Muslims?

  • When extremists and the authorities stand together, the true moderates stand alone.

The Bedfordshire Police "stand together" with Qadeer Baksh, an Islamist activist who calls for the killing of homosexuals. (Image source: Bedfordshire Police Twitter feed)

On March 6, the Association of Chief Police Officers, a body funded by the Home Office, launched a national campaign named, "We Stand Together," which called upon British police forces and constabularies across the United Kingdom to bring together local communities to "stand against hate crime and intolerance."

The campaign was apparently a public relations campaign launched in the wake of "recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Denmark, which increased tension in some communities in the UK."

As part of the campaign, local police forces across the country organized events and arranged photo opportunities with Muslim community groups and spokespersons.

Unsurprisingly, some of these Muslim partners were part of extremist networks and hard-line religious sects. Time and time again, in the name of "diversity," officials and the authorities partner with extremists.

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The Hague's Mayor: No Problem with Islamic Extremists

by Timon Dias  •  April 26, 2015 at 4:00 am

  • By giving the signal that Salafists can patrol the streets with government-sanctioned authority, Mayor van Aartsen is handing a Muslim minority a parallel society, increasingly controlled by Muslims, that actively opposes a Dutch (political) culture.

  • "If they [Salafists] are a necessity for maintaining order in the streets, then the city has suffered deeper wounds than any New Year's Eve vandalism can inflict." — Nausicaa Marbe, Dutch-Romanian author.

Officers from The Hague's police department are shown visiting the As Soennah Mosque on December 27, 2014 -- four days before Salafists from the mosque mounted their street patrols. (Image source: The Hague Police)

The Hague's mayor, Jozias van Aartsen, of the Dutch center-right People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), is known for raising eyebrows when it comes to Islamic extremism. In early July 2014, during demonstrations protesting Israel's Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza strip against the Hamas terrorist organization, Van Aartsen stated that "No boundaries were crossed" when ISIS supporters chanted the anti-Jewish battle cry: "Khaybar Khaybar, ya yahud, Jaish Muhammad, sa yahud" ["Jews, remember Khaybar, the army of Muhammad is returning"] -- basically an incitement to genocide -- and "death to the Jews." Other chants included, "Jews should return to the sewer" and "Long live Hitler." Islamists also threatened journalists.

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Spain: Barcelona's Would-Be Beheaders

by Soeren Kern  •  April 25, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • Prosecutors allege that, among other plots, the group was planning to kidnap a random member of the public, dress their victim in an orange jump suit, and then film him or her being beheaded.

  • Catalonia not only has the largest Muslim population in Spain, it also has the largest concentration of radical Islamists in Europe, and is a main center for Salafi-Jihadism on the continent.

  • "But what they do not know is that, once they allow us to vote, we will all vote for Islamic parties because we do not believe in left and right. This will make us win local councils and as we begin to accumulate power in the Catalan autonomous region, Islam will begin to be implemented." — Abdelwahab Huzi, Salafist preacher, Lleida.

Spanish police arrest one of several Muslim jihadists who were conspiring to commit terror attacks in Catalonia, April 8, 2015. (Image source RTVE video screenshot)

Police in the northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia have arrested eleven members of a jihadist cell that was planning to behead a random person in Barcelona.

The cell, which prosecutors say was actively recruiting jihadists for the Islamic State, is also accused of planning to bomb public and private buildings in Catalonia, including a Jewish bookstore in Barcelona.

The arrests have drawn renewed attention to the spiraling problem of radical Islam in Catalonia, which has one of the largest per capita Muslim populations in Europe.

The cell — known as the Islamic Brotherhood for the Preaching of Jihad — was broken up on April 8, when more than 350 police officers conducted seven raids in five Catalan municipalities.

According to police, the cell's primary objective was to show that terrorist attacks such as those perpetrated by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria could be carried out in the West.

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Palestinians Vote for Iran's New Ally: Hamas

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  April 24, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • This is a vote of no confidence in Abbas and Fatah.

  • When you tell your people that Jews are awful, and do not want peace, and just want to kill Arabs and destroy their homes and holy sites, then people say, "This means Hamas is right. We should be killing the Jews and not making peace with them."

  • Hamas has now apparently realigned with Iran, which is "rebuilding relations with the military wing of Hamas," and has recently sent Hamas "tens of millions of dollars."

Hamas supporters are shown in this video screenshot marching during a student council election rally at Bir Zeit University, near Ramallah, on April 20, 2015.

Hamas's crushing victory in the April 22 student council election at Bir Zeit University shows that the Islamist movement continues to maintain a strong presence in the West Bank.

Hamas supporters on campus won 26 seats, compared to 16 for their rivals in the Fatah faction, headed by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas.

The results of the election mean that Bilal Barghouti, who is serving 16 life terms in prison for his role in a series of suicide attacks against Israel, has become the "Honorary Chairman of the Bir Zeit University Student Council."

The Hamas victory came less than 48 hours after its supporters scored a major achievement on another campus: Palestine Polytechnic University in Hebron. There, Hamas supporters won the same number of seats as their rivals in Fatah – a move hailed by leaders of the Islamist movement as a "huge achievement."

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The Academic War on Israel

by Denis MacEoin  •  April 23, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • A generation of students is growing up learning to tolerate -- and consider normal -- bias, falsehood, prejudice, and the runaway politicization of teachers and student thugs permitting only one-sided arguments.

Britain's Southampton University this month cancelled a conference dedicated to questioning the legitimacy of Israel, which had attracted Jew-haters and anti-Zionists, and was described by a prominent member of parliament as an "anti-Semitic hate-fest".

America's President Barack Obama has declared war on Israel. The animosity between Obama and his administration toward Israel and its newly re-elected leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has been growing for years; it reached crisis point after Netanyahu's address to the U.S. Congress and news of his resounding victory in the March elections.

This does not mean that the United States, as a whole, shares this animosity or is bent on abandoning a vulnerable and beleaguered democracy to its host of violent and uncompromising predators. Polls show it does not.

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No Racism in Turkey!

by Burak Bekdil  •  April 23, 2015 at 4:00 am

  • When asked to name the world's most violent religion, 45% of Turks cited Christianity and 41% cited Judaism, with only 2% saying it was Islam.

  • So there is no racism in turkey. Nice. But Google will produce 12.2 million results if one types in "Turkey" and "racism."

  • "Unfortunately, Turkish Jews, who have been considered as having organic ties to Israel, are labeled as foreigners. Thus, they are subject to hate speech and threats almost on a daily basis whenever there is a crisis between Israel and Palestine." — Selin Nasi, journalist, Salom.

  • "We celebrate the 100th anniversary of our country being cleansed of [Christian] Armenians." — Banners in several cities of Turkey "celebrating" the Armenian genocide in Turkey, February 2015.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc speaks at the reopening of the Great Synagogue Edirne, where he declared, "There is no anti-Semitism in Turkey." Many so wished to believe him.

Ostensibly, it was a merry event. A week before Passover, hundreds of Turkish Jews from Istanbul gathered in the western city of Edirne for the reopening of the Great Synagogue, which had closed its doors in 1969 and had remained a ruin since then, until it was recently restored.

In the days after the high-profile ceremony, the Great Synagogue would go back to its quieter days, as there are no longer Jews in Edirne, and only 17,000 in the whole of Turkey.

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