Latest Analysis and Commentary

Sweden: Confronting Reality

by Judith Bergman  •  December 14, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • One problem is that the Swedish state itself contributes indirectly to the spread of extremism. The Swedish Security Service (Säpo) has found that a "relatively large" number of organizations with links to violent extremism have been using Sweden's state and municipal grant systems, which Säpo says could "contribute to radicalization and thus growth in extremist environments in Sweden."

  • According to Säpo, individuals from Islamist groups are using public-funded schools, cultural associations and foundations as platforms to spread extremist ideology within Sweden.

  • "Of course, the segregation, exclusion and long-standing uncontrolled immigration that is now driving serious crime did not suddenly arise. Responsibility for years of ill-conceived policies -- and the inability to address the problems -- is shared by many.... [I]t is quite clear that gang criminality, shootings and executions are strongly linked to excessive immigration and to bad integration. How can you even pretend anything else?" -- Ulf Kristersson, leader of the Moderate Party, Facebook, November 17, 2019

  • The question now is how the Moderate Party will transform Kristersson's apology into "concrete political action" that can stop Swedish reality from deteriorating even further.

The situation in Sweden continues to deteriorate. Last month, a 15-year-old was shot to death and another teenager seriously wounded in a pizzeria in Malmö. (Image source: iStock)

Back in February and March 2017 BBC News ran a number of articles about Trump's much vilified remarks about Sweden, including one with the headline, "Trump's wrong, it's 'quiet and safe' in Malmo." One article in particular, "All eyes on Malmo but not because of Trump" painted an idyllic picture of the lives of expats in Malmö. It spoke, among others, about a young American woman working in Malmö, Susanna Lewis, in the following way:

"As a woman, she is also used to being prepared and watchful as she walks alone in other places, yet she does not feel afraid in Malmö city centre or its outer suburbs".

The article went on to quote her: "I never have had that fear in Sweden. This is the safest place I've ever lived."

Now, however, even the BBC appears to have discovered that Sweden suffers from serious problems. In November, the BBC published an article headlined, "Sweden's 100 explosions this year: What's going on?"

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Iran's Plan to Foil the Gaza Ceasefire

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  December 13, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • The protesters are saying, in other words, that the Iranian people are fed up watching their country deliver hundreds of millions of dollars to Palestinian and Lebanese terrorist groups instead of improving the economic situation in Iran.

  • Iran is apparently determined to pursue its goal of exporting its "Islamic Revolution" to as many Arab countries as possible, including the Palestinian arena. Another Iranian goal: the elimination of Israel.

  • This is how Iran's leaders see the situation: "We are not sending these groups and militias cash and guns so that they can strike ceasefire deals."

  • That is why it is safe to assume that even if the Egyptians manage to secure any kind of a ceasefire between the Palestinian groups and Israel, the leaders of Tehran will do their utmost to obstruct such an agreement.

This is how Iran's leaders see their relations with Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad: "We are not sending these groups and militias cash and guns so that they can strike ceasefire deals. As long as we're supplying them with money and weapons, they must do anything we want." Pictured: A senior Hamas delegation, headed by military leader Saleh Arouri, meets with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during a visit to Iran, July 22, 2019. (Image source:

Iran seems concerned that its Palestinian allies in the Gaza Strip may reach a long-term ceasefire with Israel. That is probably why Iran summoned leaders of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) to Tehran after reports in the Arab media suggested that the Egyptians have made significant progress in their efforts to achieve a long-term ceasefire between the Gaza-based Palestinian factions, including Hamas and PIJ.

According to the reports, the leaders of Hamas and PIJ who visited Cairo agreed to a long-term ceasefire with Israel. Both groups reportedly told the Egyptians that they would commit to the proposed ceasefire only if Israel halts targeted killings of Hamas and PIJ operatives.

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Iran fills the Vacuum Created by Trump's Withdrawal

by Con Coughlin  •  December 12, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • President Trump has hastened the withdrawal of American forces from Syria, and is actively seeking to reduce America's military presence elsewhere in the region, with troop withdrawals under active consideration in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • "Russia is always on standby to fill power voids. That is how it happened that Russian troops swept in when the US left northern Syria. To sum up that still unfolding story: nobody will remember it as our finest hour.... There are some deeply malign forces at work in the broader Middle East... disengagement is just another term for leaving all the power to them." – Richard Cheney, Former US Vice President," Arab Strategy Forum, Dubai.

  • It is a measure of the failure of the nuclear deal with Iran that former US President Barack Obama helped to negotiate in 2015 that Tehran used the brief easing of tensions with Washington to strengthen and consolidate its military presence in Arab countries such as Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.

  • There are now serious concerns that Mr Trump's desire to reduce America's military presence in the Middle East will only encourage Iran to intensify its own activity, thereby increasing the threat to Israel and pro-Western Arab states.

  • The problem for small states such as Lebanon, though, is that they are no match for a regional superpower like Iran. And so long as the mullahs have the resources and weaponry to maintain their aggressive presence in the region, there is very little that small states like Lebanon can do to stop them.

President Donald Trump has made no secret of his dislike of America's long-standing military involvement in the Middle East, which dates back decades, and which he claims has cost the American taxpayer a mind-blowing $8 trillion. Pictured: President Trump speaks about his decision to pull U.S troops out of northeastern Syria, as Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Army Gen. Mark Milley, looks on, October 7, 2019. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The threat by a senior commander in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps this week "to flatten Tel Aviv" from Iranian-controlled bases in southern Lebanon provides arguably the most graphic example of the deepening dangers the region faces as a result of the Trump administration's decision to scale down its military presence.

With next year's presidential election contest now very much the primary focus of President Donald J. Trump's attention, many of America's long-standing allies in the Middle East are becoming increasingly concerned at the president's desire to improve his electoral prospects by scaling down America's military footprint.

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Is NATO Still Vital?

by Lawrence A. Franklin  •  December 12, 2019 at 4:30 am

  • Many additional countries who joined the alliance -- such as Poland, Hungary and the Baltic States, which had been Soviet satellites -- still consider post-Communist Russia an extremely disquieting potential threat. That is just one issue that has created friction among NATO nations....

  • The larger question [is] the degree to which enemy countries perceive NATO as a unified organization that would respond militarily to aggression against any member state -- a crucial psychological factor in deterrence.

  • Its reason for being should not be written off quite yet...

In the absence of cohesion and deterrence, NATO no longer would be viable or vital. But its reason for being should not be written off quite yet. Pictured: A group photo of the NATO leaders, taken on December 4, 2019 in Watford, England, at the NATO summit. (Photo by Steve Parsons - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The two-day summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) -- held in London on December 3-4 to commemorate its 70th anniversary -- may have been marked by controversy, but the gathering constituted an important reminder of why the international alliance was established in the first place.

Founded in April 1949 by the United States, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and the United Kingdom, NATO was a pact created to counter the world's greatest threat at the time: the Soviet Union and its race for global domination.

At the time, it was clear that all NATO members were dependent on and deferred to American political and military leadership. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, however, some of the original NATO member states began to seek systems that would protect their particular individual interests.

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Cannabis and Driving: How Safe Are You?

December 12, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • Gatestone's 2020 Conference on the Effects of Marijuana. Details coming soon.

(Image source: iStock)

Gatestone's 2020 Conference on the Effects of Marijuana. Details coming soon.

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How Should the Senate Deal with an Unconstitutional Impeachment by the House?

by Alan M. Dershowitz  •  December 11, 2019 at 2:00 pm

  • These two grounds [of impeachment] — abuse of power and obstruction of congress — are not among the criteria specified for impeachment. Neither one is a high crime and misdemeanor. Neither is mentioned in the constitution. Both are the sort of vague, open-ended criteria rejected by the framers. They were rejected precisely to avoid the situation in which our nation currently finds itself.

  • So, what options would the senate have if the House voted to impeach on two unconstitutional grounds? Would it be required to conduct a trial based on "void" articles of impeachment? Could it simply refuse to consider unconstitutional articles? Could the president's lawyer make a motion to the Chief Justice — who presides over the trial of an impeached president — to dismiss the articles of impeachment on constitutional grounds?

  • Regardless of the outcome, the damage will have been done by the House majority that will have abused its power by weaponizing the House's authority over impeachment for partisan purposes — exactly as Hamilton feared.

Pictured: Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi speaks on December 10, 2019 in Washington, DC at a news conference, in which House Democrats announced two articles for the next steps in the House impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

If the House of Representatives were to impeach President Trump on the two grounds now before it, the senate would be presented with a constitutional dilemma. These two grounds— abuse of power and obstruction of Congress— are not among the criteria specified for impeachment. Neither one is a high crime and misdemeanor. Neither is mentioned in the constitution. Both are the sort of vague, open-ended criteria rejected by the framers. They were rejected precisely to avoid the situation in which our nation currently finds itself. Abuse of power can be charged against virtually every controversial president by the opposing party. And obstruction of Congress — whatever else it may mean — cannot extend to a president invoking privileges and then leave it to the courts to referee conflicts between the legislative and executive branches.

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Spain's 'Migrant Friendly' Border Fences

by Soeren Kern  •  December 11, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • Critics say that the razor wire functions as a significant deterrent to illegal immigration and that by removing it, the Spanish government not only risks unleashing new waves of mass migration from Africa, but also gives effective control of the Spanish border to Morocco, with which Spain has a tense relationship.

  • The border fences in question involve those at Spain's North African exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla — magnets for Africans seeking a better life in Europe.

  • The removal of razor wire is in line with the current Socialist government's pro-immigration stance.

  • "We are not against immigration. We are not even against the illegal immigrant. It is not their fault that an irresponsible government has called them to come here illegally." — Iván Espinosa de los Monteros, Parliamentary Spokesman for the conservative party Vox.

Spanish authorities have begun removing razor wire from border fences along Spain's frontier with Morocco. The Socialist government ordered their removal after migrants who tried to jump the fences to enter Europe illegally suffered injuries. Pictured: Spain's double-fence separating the Spanish exclave of Ceuta from Morocco, photographed on August 23, 2018. (Photo by Alexander Koerner/Getty Images)

Spanish authorities have begun removing razor wire, known as concertina wire, from border fences along Spain's frontier with Morocco. The Socialist government ordered their removal after migrants who tried to jump the fences to enter Europe illegally suffered injuries after coming into contact with the wire.

Spanish Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska justified the removal by saying that Morocco had recently installed concertina wire on fences on its side of the border, and that therefore it was no longer necessary on the Spanish side.

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Turkey: Murder of Women Reaches Epidemic Proportions

by Uzay Bulut  •  December 11, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • The cause of 50% of the killings was not determined, but 16% of the women were killed because they wanted to make decisions about their lives, such as wanting a divorce, rejecting offers of reconciliation or even for not answering the phone when called by their men. 13% of the women were killed for "economic reasons."

  • According to the Turkish women's-rights platform, "We Will Stop Femicide," 652 women were killed by men in the year-and-a-half period prior to November 2018 -- 36 of whom were murdered in October of that year.

  • "One of the reasons why such a large number of women fall victim to violence is the reluctance and even prevention of relevant institutions to implement current laws." — The Central Women's Committee of Turkey's Human Rights Association (HRA), "Violence against women is a result of discriminatory policies," August 26, 2019.

  • "There was no finger left unbroken, no women left unbeaten for the last two seasons of a show aired on a pro-government TV channel..." — İlhan Taşcı, Republican People's Party deputy and Radio and Television Supreme Council Member.

  • "In our religion, the life, dignity and rights of women are untouchable and entrusted [to men]." — Ali Erbaş, President of Diyanet, Turkey's Directorate of Religious Affairs.

The murder of women by male relatives -- particularly spouses or former spouses -- has become a dangerous trend in Turkey. 652 women were killed in Turkey by men in the year-and-a-half period prior to November 2018, according to the Turkish women's-rights platform, "We Will Stop Femicide." (Image source: iStock)

On November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, thousands of Turkish women took part in demonstrations at Istanbul's Taksim Square. The women were protesting the increasing number of murders in the country committed by men against female family members. After reading a statement to the press, the demonstrators were attacked by police with tear gas and plastic bullets.

The murder of women by male relatives -- particularly spouses or former spouses -- has become a dangerous trend in Turkey. The brutal murder, on August 18, of 38-year-old Emine Bulut by her ex-husband -- in front of their 10-year-old daughter -- is one particularly noteworthy case.

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Europe No Longer Hides Its Hostility to Israel

by Alain Destexhe  •  December 10, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • The European Union seems deliberately to fail to recognize that Israel, a sovereign state, is regularly under threat -- even extreme continuous rocket fire from Gaza and Syria -- and, for that reason alone deserves its full support.

  • The statement [by the European Union]... fails to mention that Israel had killed a terrorist belonging to an extremist group about to launch another attack. The statement also fails to mention the number of rockets fired on the country, or the right of Israel to defend itself.

  • Four hundred and fifty rockets in under 48 hours is not a skirmish or a minor attack; it is a large-scale military attack. Any similar attack on France or Germany -- if they received even a single missile -- would have sparked a major crisis.

  • By comparison, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman tweeted: "Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an Islamist terrorist org backed by Iran, is again attacking Israel with 100's of missiles aimed at civilians. We stand w our friend & ally Israel at this critical moment & support Israel's right to defend itself & bring an end to these barbaric attacks."

  • The contrast speaks for itself. The United States is a friend of Israel. The European Union is not.

  • In other words, the EU, which is officially committed to fighting terrorism, supports the Palestinian Authority (PA), which supports terrorists and their families. Just try making sense of that.

  • The European Union, for its part, is proud to be "the biggest donor of external assistance to the Palestinians". Since February 2008, more than €2.5 billion ($2.8 billion) have been disbursed. The EU provides core financial support to the Palestinian Authority, even though part of the PA budget is earmarked for terrorists and terrorists' families, thereby actually incentivizing terrorism.

Many Europeans governments pretend to be friends with Israel, but the European Union has, over the years, become increasingly hostile towards Israel. Pictured: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a press conference in Jerusalem, Israel, on October 4, 2018. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)

The European Union has, over the years, become increasingly hostile towards Israel. That attitude was confirmed in early November when the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that food products made in the so-called settlements of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights must be labeled as such and may not carry the generic label "Made in Israel."

As rightly argued by the strategic studies expert Soeren Kern, there are many territorial conflicts all over the world, but the European Court singles out only Israel. Examples of the EU's bias against Israel are numerous, particularly compared to the United States.

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Norway: A Fake "Translation"

by Bruce Bawer  •  December 10, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • This 2013 Norwegian-language "Koran" is available online. A perusal of key passages, however, shows that it bears little or no resemblance to the actual Koran.

  • Let us hope that the word gets around that the book they are being handed is not really the Koran at all.

The Norwegian-language Koran translation that will be handed out to Norwegians at stands in Oslo and, perhaps, Bergen, bears little or no resemblance to the actual Koran. (Image source: iStock)

To borrow a phrase from Lewis Carroll, the news about the aftermath of a public Koran-burning in Kristiansand, Norway, on November 16, keeps getting curiouser and curiouser.

As explained in previous pieces here, the 30 or more police officers who were on hand at the event, which was organized by a group called Stop the Islamization of Norway (Stopp Islamiseringen av Norge – SIAN) were under secret orders from the chief of the Norwegian police, Benedicte Bjørnland, not just to douse any flaming Koran but to keep SIAN members from setting fire to a copy of the Muslim holy book in the first place. Bjørnland had maintained that the so-called "racism clause" of Norway's criminal law gave her the power to issue such orders, while the Minister of Justice, Jøran Kallmyr, made the puzzling comment that while burning the Koran was legal, it could "become" a crime, a statement that made no more sense in Norwegian than it does in English.

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'Deadly Delusions': Europe's Deradicalization Programs

by Giulio Meotti  •  December 9, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • The latest attack in London was a lethal mix of religious dissimulation and Western naïveté. It also, one hopes, buries all the British illusions of deradicalizing jihadists. As the Times reported, the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), the so-called "nudge unit" formerly part of the Cabinet Office, had examined 33 deradicalization programs across the UK and found that only two were supposedly successful.

  • France had already tried it out. A bipartisan report in the French Senate had condemned the French deradicalization program as a "total fiasco"....

  • A recent UK government report warned that British imams in 48 Islamic schools have been promoting violence and intolerance. It is British society that must be deradicalized, not the jihadists.

  • Usman Khan apparently saw Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones as "unbelievers", not as "rehabilitators". If we do not change our rules of engagement, more of the same will follow.

The November 29 attack in London was a lethal mix of religious dissimulation and Western naïveté. It also, one hopes, buries all the British illusions of deradicalizing jihadists. Pictured: A police officer stands next to where Usman Khan was shot at the end of his murderous rampage, on London Bridge. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)

It was a tragedy of good intentions. "Jack Merritt died in the London Bridge attack. Don't forget what he stood for", Emma Goldberg wrote in The New York Times. Merritt was one of the two victims of Usman Khan, an Islamic terrorist who struck on London Bridge on November 29. The other victim was Saskia Jones, a student at the conference targeted by the jihadist. They both dreamed of working to save and protect their murderer.

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Will the British Public Vote for Antisemitism on December 12?

by Denis MacEoin  •  December 9, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • Although all the parties standing for election have delivered broad claims on key issues such as the economy, social care, health, and more, everybody knows that this election is, at heart, about Brexit.

  • Today's Labour Party remains far behind the Tories in the polls. By mid-November, Labour stood at 28% while the Conservatives were at 39%.

  • "The claims that the [Labour] party is "doing everything" it reasonably can to tackle anti-Jewish racism and that it has "investigated every single case", are a mendacious fiction. According to the Jewish Labour Movement, there are at least 130 outstanding cases before the party, some dating back years, and thousands more have been reported but remain unresolved." — Ephraim Mirvis, Britain's Chief Rabbi.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has always been a Marxist ideological extremist, even while serving in Parliament, and has spoken of Hamas and Hizbullah as his friends. Corbyn has brought with him into the party vast numbers of followers who share a loathing for anything Western, from the United States to the struggle against jihadi terrorism. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

The political situation in the UK is in a state of near chaos. A General Election was called in October for 12 December. Whereas such elections are normally run between whichever party is in power (currently the Tory, or Conservative Party, with Boris Johnson as Prime Minister) and the loyal opposition (in this case the Labour Party), the carefully balanced routine that in the past has allowed conservative and socialist parties to come to power has now collapsed.

Among other things, this election is confused in a race between the Tories, Labour, the fast-growing anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party (third-largest in the UK overall), and the newly formed Brexit Party.

This new arrival (founded on November 23, 2018, active since January 2019) campaigns for the UK to leave the European Union without a "deal". This, they believe, will be done in fulfilment of the 2016 Referendum, which resulted in a slim majority in favour of leaving.

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The Fate of Christians in the Current World

by Denis MacEoin  •  December 8, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • Why should it be anti-Muslim or "Islamophobic" to write about the effects of jihad or the conservative Muslim treatment of unbelievers? The facts are well established within international bodies, NGOs, national commissions, and verifiable journalistic reports. Reformist Muslims themselves are highly critical of the discriminatory laws and behaviours in countries from which they or their forebearers originated.

  • Indeed, it is precisely Muslims of a reformist and liberal bent who are most vocal about radical restrictions on the values that other Muslims claim are universal.

  • Let us be clear. No doubt, there will probably always be people, call them the real "Islamophobes", who will use problems within Muslim states or communities to try to tar Islam or Muslims as a whole. But these and other issues still need to be faced as authentic human rights concerns.

  • A particularly widespread problem for Christians in Muslim countries is the ban on Christian proselytization.... While Christian and secular countries rightly permit Muslims to preach, convert, and instruct non-Muslims, 25 Muslim states forbid proselytization and have laws saying that Muslims who convert to another faith may be put to death as apostates.

  • Liberalized versions of Islam have in the past few decades been suppressed by fundamentalist takeovers of entire societies. It is therefore hard to believe that countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, or Turkey will return quickly to the moderation they had developed in the previous century. If there is hope for good relations between non-Muslims and Muslims, it must rest, as has already begun, with the Muslims in liberal democracies.... The British organization Muslims Against Antisemitism, is a shining example; in America, the American Islamic Forum for Democracy is another. They should be treasured and helped.

In the Middle East, Christians are being attacked and driven out at an unprecedented pace. Pictured: A church that was burned and destroyed by ISIS in the town of Qaraqosh, Iraq, photographed on December 27, 2016. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

A recognition of the religious freedoms offered by secular non-coercive states should be of particular importance to Muslims worldwide. It is a serious criticism of Islamic practice both historically and in the modern era that many Muslim countries seem to remain deeply intolerant towards the followers of other religions or the followers of differing branches of their own religion; toward people they regard as having left Islam, or even whom they perceive as having "offended" its followers, whether inadvertently or not. Persecution of religious minorities, and other Muslims seems common in many Muslim countries -- from the highly restrictive Saudi Arabia to the more liberal Indonesia, and especially in countries where the religion is closely allied to the state.

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Egypt: Christian Churches Burn "Accidentally," or Have "Terrorists Changed Operations"?

by Raymond Ibrahim  •  December 8, 2019 at 4:30 am

  • Preliminary reports from Egyptian authorities said that all three fires appeared to be accidents related to electrical or circuit failures, not arson.... General opinion among Christians, however, is that the fires were "not a coincidence."

  • "The fire started from the wooden ceiling of the adjacent hall." Video footage, he added, indicated that something from the market behind the church was hurled onto its roof. — Fr. Samuel, St. George Church in Mansoura, World Watch Monitor, November 11, 2019.

  • "Terrorists change their operations, from bombings to burning." — Fr. Ephraim Youssef, a priest at St. George Church in Mansoura, World Watch Monitor, November 11, 2019.

On October 13, a fire "completely destroyed" St. George Church in Helwan, considered "one of the greatest and oldest churches belonging to the Coptic Orthodox Church." (Image source: Diego Delso/Wikimedia Commons)

Recently, over the course of two weeks, three Christian churches were torched in Egypt.

First, on Sunday, October 13, "a massive fire swept through a major Coptic church in a Cairo suburb causing heavy damage, but no casualties." Online images and video of the St. George Church in Helwan — considered "one of the greatest and oldest churches belonging to the Coptic Orthodox Church" — confirm that , to quote Bishop Bishara, it "had been completely destroyed."

"I immediately rushed to the church and found it on fire with heavy smoke filling the place," said Fr. Andrew, who personally served at the church for three decades.

"The old wooden building burned down very fast and the fire destroyed everything inside, even before the firefighters arrived.... Our loss is great. We have lost a great historical building and we can't rebuild anything like it."

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The Mullahs' Losing Game

by Amir Taheri  •  December 8, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • After initial hesitations the elite regained its unity by responding in the best way it knows, not to say the only way it knows: a brutal crackdown that claimed hundreds of lives and over 10,000 arrests.

  • Translated into simple terms, Khamenei is calling on the "prosperous 30 percent" not to take their current well-being for granted and to help the regime crush the mass of the poor who wish to upset the apple cart.

  • The danger to [the Shah's] regime came from urban middle classes that in any society do not remain content with economic prosperity and social freedoms for long; they always end up demanding political rights commensurate with their economic and social status.

  • [I]f he [Khamenei] manages to crush the 70 percent, thus removing their threat, he would face the 30 percent's increasing demands for social and political freedoms no clerical regime can grant. And, if he fails, the 30 percent in question will look for someone else who can do for them what the Khomeinist regime cannot. In either case, the "Supreme Guide" is playing a losing game.

Almost no one in Iran's ruling establishment bothered to ask why so many Iranians were prepared to risk their lives to make their voices heard and what could the regime do to address their grievances. Pictured: An anti-regime protest in Tehran, Iran on November 16, 2019. (Image source: GTVM92)

When popular protests erupted in Iran's top 100 cities, including the capital Tehran, last month, it soon became clear that the ruling elites were at pains to decide what was really going on.

The faction led by "Supreme Guide" Ali Khamenei started by dismissing the uprising as a déjà vu version of the protests that have punctuated Iran's history since the 1979 revolution. The daily Kayhan, reputed to reflect Khamenei's views, dismissed the uprising as "sporadic disturbances fomented by a handful of hooligans." Khamenei himself saw it as "a bump on the road" to the "Great New Islamic Civilization" he says he is building.

The official media dismissed what it claimed was "a blind riot with no leadership."

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