Latest Analysis and Commentary

Europe: Ramadan Roundup, 2018

by Soeren Kern  •  June 17, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • In France, the government, which previously vowed to reduce foreign influences on the practice of Islam in the country, approved visas for 300 imams from Algeria and Morocco to lead Ramadan services in French mosques.

  • "Every message, no matter how poisonous the message is, should have the right to be expressed." — Ahmed Aboutaleb, Mayor of Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

  • "The Turkish minister of foreign affairs tried to teach me a lesson about my Islamic identity. It is going too far if a foreign state, which is far away, tries to teach the mayor of Rotterdam about Dutch law and how I should apply it." — Ahmed Aboutaleb, Mayor of Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

In London, Southwark Cathedral hosted an iftar dinner — a meal after sunset during the month of Ramadan — as part of the program of events to mark the anniversary of the London Bridge attack. (Garry Knight/Wikimedia Commons)

Muslims across Europe are marking the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month, which in 2018 was observed between May 17 and June 15, in accordance with the Islamic lunar calendar.

Ramadan, a major topic for public discussion in Europe this year, received considerable media coverage, a reflection of Islam's rising influence.

Muslim leaders sought to leverage the media attention to showcase Ramadan — a time when Muslims abstain from eating and drinking between sunrise and sunset, to commemorate, according to Islamic tradition, the revelation of the Quran to Mohammed — as the peaceful nature of Islam in Europe.

European multiculturalists, normally strict enforcers of secularism when it comes to Christianity, made great efforts to draw up guidelines, issue instructions and carve out special privileges to ensure that Muslims were not offended by non-Muslims during the festival.

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Salute to Two Intellectual Giants: Bernard Lewis and Richard Pipes

by Lawrence A. Franklin  •  June 17, 2018 at 4:30 am

  • Richard Pipes heaped scorn on those who romanticized Russian revolutionaries, whom he viewed as mere Bolshevik thugs who raised funds through a string of bank robberies and blackmail plots.

  • Bernard Lewis had the intellectual courage to navigate the third rail of relations between the Islam and the West.

  • Let us hope that those whom Professor Lewis enlightened will be equal to the task of defeating the ongoing challenge of what many see as the third totalitarian wave of religious triumphalism, just as Professor Pipes was equal to the task in combating Soviet totalitarianism.

Bernard Lewis (left) and Richard Pipes. (Image sources: Lewis - Levan Ramishvili/Flickr; Pipes - Mariusz Kubik/Wikimedia Commons)

It is appropriate for all free men and women to honor two scholars who helped preserve Western Civilization from totalitarian aggression. Both became American by choice.

Sadly, both, one British, one Polish, died this May.

Bernard Lewis and Richard Pipes, both veterans of World War II, risked their lives against the modern world's first wave of authoritarianism, Nazi fascism. Their bold and far-sighted analyses of new threats to liberty were driven by the totalitarian ideologies of Soviet Communism and Islamic triumphalism, and received the expected condemnation from acolytes of these enfolding systems.

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The Turkish Race

by Amir Taheri  •  June 17, 2018 at 4:00 am

  • Observers of the Turkish experience are almost unanimous in thinking that Recep Tayyip Erdogan's leadership may have led to five new impasses.

  • Two decades ago, Erdogan was the bearer of a new message of pluralism, power-sharing and give-and-take. Today, he himself is the message. In voting for Erdogan you are no longer voting for a program, a philosophy, or even a new governing elite. You vote for Erdogan.

  • Erdogan's win could also turn out to be his loss, especially if, as many expect, voter turnout and his share of the votes take a downward turn.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (Photo by Getty Images)

As the Turkish election campaign reaches its final phase, a consensus is emerging that it should be regarded as a referendum on Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the man who has dominated the nation's politics for almost two decades.

Erdogan has often boasted that he has never lost an election and, as polls indicate, he is unlikely to lose this time either. Since 2002, he and his AKP (Justice and Development Party) have won five parliamentary elections, three local elections, three referendums and one presidential election.

But what if the victory he expects next week turns out to be a tactical win and a strategic loss?

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The Diplomatic Big Bang

by Ahmed Charai  •  June 16, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • Diplomacy is changing before our eyes.

  • "The unspoken objective is to constrain the U.S., and to transfer authority from national governments to international bodies. The specifics of each case differ, but the common theme is diminished American sovereignty, submitting the United States to authorities that ignore, outvote or frustrate its priorities.... By reasserting their sovereignty, the British are in the process of escaping, among other things, the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights." — Ambassador John R. Bolton, Wall Street Journal, March 7, 2017.

Pictured: Donald Trump and other heads of state deliberate at the G7 summit on June 9, 2018 in Charlevoix, Canada. (Photo by Jesco Denzel /Bundesregierung via Getty Images)

The Singapore summit is indeed historic. First, it is so because just a few weeks ago we were closer to a nuclear war than to even the semblance of a peace process. The way we got here is surprising, because it did not obey the usual rules.

A few days ago, during the G7 summit held in Canada, US President Donald Trump upheld his decisions on tariffs and his positions on the trade deficit. These stances followed his decision to pull out of the Paris climate change agreement and the Iranian "nuclear deal". It is clear that the new US administration challenged the alliances inherited from the Cold War. President Trump, a businessman, not a politician -- one of the reasons he was elected -- is asking America's trading partners just to have "free, fair and reciprocal" agreements. It is probably not all that unusual to feel affronted when asked for money or to regard the person asking for it as mercenary or adversarial. It does not always mean that this feeling is justified.

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Human Rights: Other Views - Part III
Refugees and the Arab States

by Denis MacEoin  •  June 15, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • Whereas refugees arriving under the UNHCR are entitled to be granted asylum and eventually citizenship, the UAE is clear from the start that it wants to send its refugees back home. Back home to what? To a half-ruined country still ruled by one of history's most brutal dictators hand-in-hand with Iran, Russia, and Hizbullah?

  • As the years pass, as more and more countries struggle with poverty, conflict, religious extremism, terrorism, ethnic divisions, governmental incapacity, corruption, and declining levels of education, huge sections of the world's rapidly growing population will look in vain for safe places... The Western states who support the UNHCR cannot possibly handle this without suffering internal decline.

In March 2018, the Gulf kingdom of Bahrain pledged a mere $2 million "to build schools" in the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan (pictured above). Photo by Jeff Mitchell/Getty Images.

In the first part of this series, as many surveys have shown, we saw how difficult it has been, and apparently remains, for many Muslims to be assimilated into non-Muslim societies.

In Part Two, we examined how difficult it remains to allow Syrian and other refugees even to settle into other Muslim and Arab countries, including places such as Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan, which have taken in millions.

In this final part, we shall look at the remaining Muslim countries, which have taken in few or no refugees from the Syrian civil war. These are the richest countries in the Arab world, and the least troubled by disintegration. Many are generous in their funding for humanitarian aid, but that money is donated on the understanding that the refugees are looked after by the UNHCR and the countries they have already reached. Seeing why may be a help.

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Sweden: "It's Fun to Build a Mosque"

by Judith Bergman  •  June 14, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • The desire of Swedish authorities that the content of the Muslim call to prayer, also known as the Adhan, can be ignored and that the issue is only of noise levels is symptomatic of the way Swedish authorities in general approach the increasing Islamization of Sweden: that is continually to deny or ignore the scope of the problem.

  • In 1993, when the Catholic Church wanted to build a tower for ringing church bells in Växjö, the municipality advised the church to refrain, as the neighbors had complained that they would be bothered by church bells.

  • Rinkeby subway station was recently categorized as a place too dangerous to work unless escorted by the police, due to the security risk created by stone-throwing and hostile gangs.

Rinkeby subway station, in Stockholm, Sweden, was recently categorized as as a place too dangerous to work unless escorted by the police, due to the security risk created by stone-throwing and hostile gangs. (Image source: Tricia Wang/Flickr)

Some Muslims in Sweden want to be able to broadcast public calls to prayer throughout the country. They have already succeeded in obtaining permission for this in three cities -- Botkyrka, Karlskrona and Växjö. "We want to have calls to prayer in more places. There are many Muslims who are Swedish citizens, who have the same rights as everyone else" said Avdi Islami, Press Officer of the Växjö Muslim Foundation, after the police recently gave permission for the Växjö mosque to make a roughly 4-minute-long prayer call every Friday around noon.

A March poll of 1,000 Swedes showed that a majority of Swedes -- 60 percent -- are against public Muslim calls to prayer.

"We do not consider the contents of the loudspeaker broadcast, but [only] the potential noise that it makes," said Magnus Rothoff, unit commander of the southern Swedish police region, in explaining the decision-making process of the police.

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Who Sanctions Russia? Not Germany.

by Shoshana Bryen and Stephen Bryen  •  June 14, 2018 at 4:30 am

  • While claiming to be appalled by Russia's behavior in Syria, Germany continues to push trade not only with Russia, but with Russia's partner in the Syrian genocide, Iran.

  • A 2018 German intelligence report confirms that Iran is currently seeking nuclear technology in Germany.

  • Perhaps it would be better to leave the hypocritical Germany out in the hallway.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel greets Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 economic summit on July 7, 2017 in Hamburg, Germany. (Photo by Morris MacMatzen/Getty Images)

President Trump is taking flak for having introduced a subject to the G-7 meeting that our European friends wanted to keep under the table. Russia. The allies expressed horror when Mr. Trump said, "Why are we having a meeting without Russia? We have a world to run... We should have Russia at the negotiating table."

Aside from the hyperbole over who actually runs the world, his comment and the allied response are only shocking if one thinks the Europeans have been boycotting Russia. There are sanctions on Moscow since it illegally invaded and seized Ukraine and Crimea, but sanctions are one thing and trade is another. Germany leads the pack in trade with Russia.

This may have something to do with the fact that Germany, in particular but not only, stays warm in the winter with Russian natural gas meeting about 40% of its requirements.

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The Final Nail in the ACLU's Coffin

by Alan M. Dershowitz  •  June 14, 2018 at 4:00 am

The director of the American Civil Liberties Union has now acknowledged what should have been obvious to everybody over the past several years: that the ACLU is no longer a neutral defender of everyone's civil liberties; it has morphed into a hyper-partisan, hard-left political advocacy group. The final nail in its coffin was the announcement that for the first time in its history the ACLU would become involved in partisan electoral politics, supporting candidates, referenda and other agenda-driven political goals.

The headline in the June 8, 2018 edition of The New Yorker tells it all: "The ACLU is getting involved in elections – and reinventing itself for the Trump Era." The article continues:

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The "Trump Doctrine" for the Middle East

by Guy Millière  •  June 13, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • Trump has shown the strength of the United States and restored its credibility in a region where strength and force determine credibility.

  • Trump more broadly laid the foundation for a new alliance of the United States with the Sunni Arab world, but he put two conditions on it: a cessation of all Sunni Arab support for Islamic terrorism and an openness to the prospect of a regional peace that included Israel.

  • Secretary of State Pompeo spoke of the "Palestinians", not of the Palestinian Authority, as in Iran, possibly to emphasize the distinction between the people and their leadership, and that the leadership in both situations, may no longer be part of the solution. Hamas, for the US, is clearly not part of any solution.

  • Netanyahu rightly said that Palestinian leaders, whoever they may be, do not want peace with Israel, but "peace without Israel". What instead could take place would be peace without the Palestinian leaders. What could also take place would be peace without the Iranian mullahs.

Pictured: President Donald Trump hosts Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the White House on March 20, 2018, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)

After three successive American Presidents had used a six-month waiver to defer moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem for more than two decades, President Donald J. Trump decided not to wait any longer. On December 7, 2017, he declared that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; the official embassy transfer took place on May 14th, the day of Israel's 70th anniversary.

From the moment of Trump's declaration, leaders of the Muslim world expressed anger and announced major trouble. An Islamic summit conference was convened in Istanbul a week later, and ended with statements about a "crime against Palestine". Western European leaders followed suit. Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel said that President Trump's decision was a "serious mistake" and could have huge "consequences". French President Emmanuel Macron, going further, declared that the decision could provoke a "war".

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Palestinians: No Place for Gays

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  June 12, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • Mahmoud Ishtiwi was executed in Gaza by three bullets to the chest, because he lived among people who consider homosexuality a sin punishable by death -- and who act on it.

  • What can one learn from the controversy? Basically, that it is safer to be a member of Hamas than to be gay. Palestinian leaders would much rather see young Palestinians trying to kill Israelis than talk about gays in their own society. In the world of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, there is no room for comedy or satire.

As Israelis celebrated tolerance at the Gay Pride Parade in Tel Aviv, their Palestinian neighbors were busy doing precisely the opposite: demanding the firing of people who produced a TV comedy about gays in Gaza. Pictured: Tens of thousands of participants take part in the annual Gay Pride parade on June 8, 2018, in Tel Aviv, Israel. (Photo by Amir Levy/Getty Images)

On June 8, an estimated 250,000 people attended the Gay Pride Parade in Tel Aviv. Tourists from all around the world came to Israel to watch and participate in the event. The theme of this year's event is "The Community Makes History" -- a reference to the LGBT community in Israel.

Meanwhile, as the Israelis were celebrating tolerance on the streets of Tel Aviv, their Palestinian neighbors were busy doing precisely the opposite: they were demanding that people should be fired for producing a television comedy about gay people in the Gaza Strip.

The controversial program, called "Out of Focus," has drawn strong condemnations from Palestinians, who are now calling for punishing those responsible for "insulting Arab and Islamic values."

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My School's Imam: "We Love Western Anti-West Theories"

by Majid Rafizadeh  •  June 12, 2018 at 4:00 am

  • The purpose of brainwashing their students with inciting anger and hatred clearly seems to be to instill in them the notion that they are being victimized by the West.

  • Some members of the so-called "victim" community, such as Islamist leaders, take advantage of this victimhood status. They use it as a shield and then become the victimizers by crushing people in their own countries.

  • Such ideas and values prevent ordinary people and scholars from focusing on the crimes against humanity that Islamist leaders of state and non-state entities commit.

  • The accommodation of Muslim extremists by leaders in the West not only helps them recruit more people to target Westerners, incite anti-Western, anti-Christian, and anti-Semitic sentiments, but more importantly, it tramples the millions of ordinary Muslims who seek to promote in their homelands values such as the institutions of democracy, freedom of speech, separation of religion and state, the independence of education and the judiciary, and equal justice under the law.

Pictured: Preparations for a public hanging in Iran, September 20, 2017. (Image source: Tasnim/Wikimedia Commons)

In my high school in Syria, which was directed by the Iranian regime through its embassy staff in Damascus (Iran has several schools in Syria and sends teachers and imams there), every student was forced to attend daily prayer at noon. We were commanded to stand behind an extremist clergyman, mimic his actions, and recite the prayer. After the prayer, we had no choice but to listen to the preaching of a fundamentalist imam who was most likely employed by the regime to advance their ideological and political interests.

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Germany's Migrant Rape Crisis: "Failure of the State"

by Soeren Kern  •  June 11, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • "Susanna is dead. Maria from Freiburg; Mia from Kandel; Mireille from Flensburg; and now Susanna from Mainz...." — Alice Weidel, co-leader AfD party.

  • "Susanna's death is not a blind stroke of fate. Susanna's death is the result of many years of organized irresponsibility and the scandalous failure of our asylum and immigration policies. Susanna is victim of an out-of-control leftwing multicultural ideology that stops at nothing to impose its sense of moral superiority." — Alice Weidel, co-leader AfD party.

  • "On the day of Susanna's murder, you [Merkel] testified in parliament that you have handled the migrant crisis responsibly. Do you dare to repeat that claim to Susanna's parents?" — Alice Weidel, co-leader AfD party.

14-year-old Susanna Maria Feldman (inset) was raped and murdered by Ali Bashar, a failed Iraqi asylum seeker in Germany. He dumped her body in a wooded area on the outskirts of Wiesbaden. (Image sources: Feldman - Facebook; Wiesbaden - Maxpixel)

The rape and murder of a 14-year-old Jewish girl by a failed Iraqi asylum seeker has cast a renewed spotlight on Germany's migrant rape crisis, which has continued unabated for years amid official complicity and public apathy.

Thousands of women and children have been raped or sexually assaulted in Germany since Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed into the country more than one million mostly male migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The latest crime, entirely preventable, is uniquely reprehensible in that it highlights in one act the many insidious consequences of Germany's open-door migration policy — including the failure to vet those allowed into the country and the practice of releasing migrant criminals back onto German streets instead of incarcerating or deporting them.

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The Closing of the Cultural Mind?

by Giulio Meotti  •  June 10, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • In France, recently, a group of intellectuals published a manifesto asking the Islamic world to eliminate anti-Semitic verses from the Koran. The initiative followed the murder of an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor, Mireille Knoll.

  • The Turkish Council of Higher Education responded with a moratorium on establishing additional departments of French studies in Turkey.

  • There are no guarantees that curiosity, self-doubt and free speech will create a more liberal society. But closed-mindedness and censorship, in the Middle East, Europe or anywhere, are not likely to, either.

At the age of 82, Naguib Mahfouz, the only Egyptian Nobel Laureate for Literature, was stabbed nearly to death by an Islamist. (Image source: Alaraby/Wikimedia Commons)

In the West, books and documentaries have been cancelled. In France, recently, a group of intellectuals published a manifesto asking the Islamic world to eliminate anti-Semitic verses from the Koran. The initiative followed the murder of an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor, Mireille Knoll. The Turkish Council of Higher Education responded with a moratorium on establishing additional departments of French studies in Turkey. For years, under the presidency of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish culture has been closing in on itself. "Going into a Turkish bookstore is like walking into a psychiatric ward," according to the British journalist Gareth Jenkins in The New Yorker. Turkey sentenced journalists and writers to prison, and put publishers of foreign novels, such as its most famous translator, Necmiye Alpay, on trial. The problem, however, may not be just Turkish, but, as the author Robert R. Reilly called it, "the closing of the Muslim mind".

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Putin and Lessons from Lenin and Gromyko

by Amir Taheri  •  June 10, 2018 at 4:00 am

  • Andrei Gromyko believed that the so-called Westphalian system, in place at least until the Second World War, had been replaced by a duopoly in which only the USSR and the United States counted as powers that could truly affect things. Moscow these days is full of rumors and speculation regarding an impending bid by Putin to revive at least in part and in a new form, the Gromykan "duopoly" by reaching out to the Trump administration in Washington.

  • Putin knows that without reaching out to the US, he may not be able to consolidate his gains in Crimea, eastern Ukraine and Georgia, while he could become stuck in the Syrian quagmire with no prospect of getting out anytime soon.

  • Russia's isolation was best illustrated during the big annual military parade in May 2017, when of all the foreign dignitaries invited by Putin only one turned up: the President of Moldova.

Soviet foreign minister Andrei Gromyko at the United Nations, September 21, 1961. (Photo by William Lovelace/Express/Getty Images)

"Consolidation". In Moscow these days this is the word that most flavors discussions in political circles. The idea is that, thanks to President Vladimir Putin's bold and risk-taking strategy, Russia has made a number of major gains on the international scene and must now act to consolidate those gains and reduce the diplomatic, economic and political price it has had to pay for them.

The analysis is inspired by Lenin's famous "Two-steps-forward, one-step back" dictum that saw the founder of the now defunct Soviet Union abandon vast territories under the Brest-Litovsk Treaty in order to consolidate the then fragile Bolshevik hold on power in Russia itself. Later, Lenin used the same dictum to justify his New Economic Policy (NEP), a step back to confuse the growing opposition from the hated "bourgeoisie".

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Marching for Terrorism in London? No Problem

by Judith Bergman  •  June 9, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • The leader of last year's London Al Quds Day rally, Nazim Ali – director of the "Islamic Human Rights Commission", which organizes the annual march – called for the annihilation of Israel. They also carried banners that said, "We are all Hezbollah," (what a comforting thought for the British). If, however, like the scholar Robert Spencer, one reports on these activities, one is barred from entering England.

  • An afternoon of racism is in store for Londoners on Sunday, but as long as the hate is directed against Jews by Muslims, British authorities apparently have no problem with it.

Pictured: The 2014 Al Quds Day march in London, England. A Hezbollah flag is held aloft at upper-right. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

On Sunday June 10 in London, the yearly so-called Al Quds Day march -- Al Quds is the Arabic name for both Jerusalem and for the day, invented by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who led Iran's 1979 revolution that overthrew the Shah -- will take place. The march is, basically, a call for the destruction of Israel, sometimes also Jews in general. Many other cities, among them Toronto, Berlin and Tehran, will also be "celebrating" the day.

Last year in London, around 1000 people waved countless Hezbollah flags, in honor of Iran's proxy terrorist organization, while chanting slogans such as "Zionists/ISIS are the same, only difference is the name" and "From the river to the sea - Palestine will be free". They also carried banners that said, "We are all Hezbollah," (what a comforting thought for the British).

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