Latest Analysis and Commentary

"We Will Displace You ...": Persecution of Christians, December 2018

by Raymond Ibrahim  •  February 17, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • Saudi Arabia, America's close friend and ally, failed to live up to its promise to eliminate extremist content -- that promotes hostility for, and violence against, religious minorities -- from its 2018-19 school year curriculum.

  • "Examples of this content include demeaning non-Muslims and encouraging jihad against them. The execution of apostates is prescribed and children are encouraged not to associate with non-Muslims. Saudi Arabia not only continues to use these textbooks domestically, but exports them to other parts of the Middle East." — Report from International Christian Concern, December 1, 2018.

  • British authorities decided to deport a Christian man back to Pakistan, where he was previously beaten and threatened with death, "despite UK playing host to [Muslim] hijackers, extremists and rapists," to quote from one headline. Asher Samson, 41, "first arrived in the UK in 2004 to carry out his theology training in order to become a pastor, but later applied for asylum after receiving threats from Islamic extremists during visits home..." According to Samson, "If they do send me back my life will be really in danger... I'm so scared... People know who I am, they know I am a Christian..." — The Independent, December 24, 2018.

On December 1, Shabak, an Iraqi Shia militia formed in 2014 to reclaim the Nineveh Plain from the Islamic State, opened fire on the St. George Assyrian Church in Bartella, formerly a Christian-majority city in Iraq, and threatened its priest, Fr. Behnam Benoka. Pictured: St. George Assyrian Church in Bartella. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Slaughter of Christians

Egypt: A Muslim policeman charged with guarding a Coptic Christian church shot and killed two Christians — a father, 49, and his son, 21 — on the night of December 12 in Minya. Eyewitnesses say a quarrel had ensued before the officer pulled out his gun and opened fire on the two men. Video footage of the incident shows the killer-cop brandishing his gun as he stalks around the bloodied but still moving Christians on the ground. He loudly curses them — or all Copts in general? — as "mother-f*****s." Thousands of angry Christians attended the funeral, chanting kyrie eleison ("Lord have mercy!"), and, "Where are the rights of the martyrs!" Coptic Solidarity said in a statement:

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Mullahs Masquerading as Patriots: Will it Work?

by Amir Taheri  •  February 17, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • As it marked its fourth decade in power, the Iranian regime implicitly admitted the bankruptcy of its narrative, according to which the 1979 revolution was prompted by a desire to "revive Islam" which, after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, with the exception of the brief caliphate of Ali ibn Abi-Taleb, had been in agony.

  • Dropping the regime's usual pan-Islamist narrative, President Rouhani adopted a pan-Iranist discourse, according to which much of Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistani Baluchistan, the Caucasus, Oman, the Musandam Peninsula, and territories now covered by Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait must be regarded as Iranian land stolen by foreign invaders.

  • The crowd in Tehran continued gossiping, laughing and eating while Rouhani was trying to play Persian nationalist. Was he not the man who signed the Caspian Sea Convention dictated by Russia?

The new pseudo-nationalist narrative, told by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in a speech marking the 40th anniversary of the Khomeinist Revolution, is also designed to explain, or explain away, the fact that after 40 years, the Revolution has failed to spread to even a single other country or inspire similar movements anywhere. Pictured: Rouhani (right) with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. (Image source: Michael Gruber/Getty Images)

What do scoundrels do, when caught red handed in their shenanigans? According to an old proverb they wrap themselves in a flag and seek refuge in patriotism.

Something close to that seems to be happening to the Khomeinists dominating Iran, thanks to their control of the nation's finances and monopoly on guns. As it marked its fourth decade in power, the regime implicitly admitted the bankruptcy of its narrative, according to which the 1979 revolution was prompted by a desire to "revive Islam" which, after the death of the Prophet, with the exception of the brief caliphate of Ali ibn Abi-Taleb, had been in agony. Thus, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was given the title of "Ihyagar" or "Reviver" of Islam.

Last Monday, however, Hojat al-Islam wa al-Moslemeen Hassan Rouhani, President of Iran, told a different story to marchers in Tehran marking the 40th anniversary of the mullahs' seizure of power.

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Sweden Prosecuting Pensioners, Welcoming ISIS

by Judith Bergman  •  February 16, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • Perhaps the Council of Europe considers Åberg's successful efforts of turning in fellow Swedes to the police for perceived thought crimes an example that other European countries should emulate?

  • The pensioner explained during questioning, "I was angry when I read about how it worked with immigrants and how they avoid punishment for everything they do. They get acquitted, though they steal and do other things. It is unfair that those who commit gross crimes can go free...." The pensioner said that she would not have written what she did, had she known that it was illegal. She evidently labored under the misconception that she was still living in a democracy. In January, she was sentenced to a fine of 4,000 Swedish kroner ($443). She lives on a monthly pension of only 7,000 Swedish kroner ($775).

  • Swedish authorities clearly cannot -- or will not -- prosecute or convict the jihadists whom they so generously welcome to the country; yet they have no qualms charging and prosecuting harmless elderly pensioners. One might add that a culture that respects the human rights of returning ISIS fighters more than that of the elderly women who are afraid of them, is all but done.

While the Swedish Security Service is assuring the public that it will do "even more" to limit the growth of terrorist environments in Sweden, the Swedish government is exacerbating the problem by welcoming returning ISIS jihadist fighters back into the country. (Image source: iStock)

"Violence-promoting Islamist extremism currently constitutes the biggest threat to Sweden," according to a January 15 press release from the Swedish Security Service (Säpo). "The level of the terror threat remains elevated, a three on a five-point scale. This means that a terrorist act is likely to occur," said Klas Friberg, head of Säpo.

"In order to meet the threat from terrorism, the Security Service will in future work even more strategically to limit the growth of extremist environments. It may be about dealing with [omhänderta] persons who constitute a security threat or, in cooperation with other authorities, working harder to ensure that these individuals are prosecuted for other crimes - or have their opportunities cut."

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Religion vs. Free Speech

by Denis MacEoin  •  February 15, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • Courts and government bodies still find it hard to make useful distinctions between gratuitous, racist, or violent speech about Islam and Muslims on the one hand, and reasoned argument that questions aspects of Islam, or even the religion overall, from the point of view of human rights, on the other.

  • The situation in Europe is even more ambiguous. Most European states have laws that purportedly support free speech, yet accusations of hate speech and Islamophobia often lead to trials and sentencing can lead to imprisonment. This skewing of facts is one crucial reason why free speech needs to be defended.

  • It is more than ever necessary to educate the public and many of its leaders about both the benign and troubling facts of Islamic history, doctrine, and culture. Those leaders who must require a more solid grounding include the ones who deny that terrorism has genuine links to issues such as jihad warfare -- and who are constantly told that "real" Islam is above rebuke.

  • We must indeed paint a positive picture of what so many Muslims contribute to their host societies. We should, for example, celebrate the way in which Muslim-Americans in Philadelphia launched an appeal that raised over $100,000 to help repair two Jewish cemeteries that had been vandalized. Or the Muslim veteran in Arkansas who volunteered to stand guard with others at any Jewish site that was threatened with attack.

Even fair-minded and non-racist authors, websites, members of the media and others who present a rational critique of Islam end up being condemned as malicious racists and "Islamophobes." (Image source: iStock)

Speaking and writing about Islam today requires discretion, sensitivity, and a good grasp of facts. Doing this is harder in most European countries than it is in the United States, where the First Amendment insists on powerful free speech rights. The need for sensitivity stems from the almost universal condemnation of "Islamophobia", a mainly good-hearted response to democratic worries that innocent Muslims may be targeted with violence or hate speech, even as many (but far from all) seek to integrate themselves and their families into Western society.

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Palestinians: "Journalism" Hamas Style

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  February 14, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • For Hamas, "accuracy" means that a journalist working in the Gaza Strip will show Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the worst possible light -- regardless of the facts.

  • Instead of honoring the young and dedicated journalist for her courage, Hamas has decided to punish her. Instead of interrogating and prosecuting the corrupt officials whose identities were mentioned in her reporting, investigative journalist Hajer Harb is the one who is now standing trial for telling the truth.

  • It now remains to be seen whether Western journalists and media outlets will voice any concern at all over the ongoing attempts by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to silence and intimidate Palestinian journalists.

Hajer Harb, a courageous Palestinian investigative journalist and cancer survivor, is standing trial in the Gaza Strip for the "crime" of exposing corruption in Hamas-run ministries and institutions. (Image source: Hager Press video screenshot)

Hamas, as part of its crackdown on freedom of the media, has imposed yet another restriction on the work of journalists in the Gaza Strip. The Hamas measure has left many Palestinian journalists worried about their ability to report on what is happening in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Foreign journalists, for their part, have yet to respond to the latest assault on public freedoms.

What exactly did Hamas do to anger the Palestinian journalists? Earlier this week, the Hamas-controlled Government Press Office issued a directive in which it said that, as of April 1, journalists will not be permitted to conduct interviews or enter government institutions in the Gaza Strip unless they have obtained a "press card" issued by the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Information.

This new directive means that any journalist who does not receive a "press card" from Hamas will not be able to operate freely and independently in the Gaza Strip.

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Turkey: Jihadist Literature Gets a Pass

by Uzay Bulut  •  February 14, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • "It is really sorrowful to live in a country that silences, prosecutes, jails its authors and forces them to live in exile," Hasan Cemal wrote in January.

  • It is worse than "sorrowful," however, that writers in Turkey who promote jihad are given a pass.

Turkish journalist Hasan Cemal recently bemoaned that a publishing house rejected his latest book, Sorrow, on the grounds that it would lead to the imprisonment of both the author and the publisher for expressing liberal views antithetical to the government of President Erdoğan. Pictured: Hasan Cemal. (Image source: Armineaghayan/Wikimedia Commons)

The Turkish journalist Hasan Cemal recently bemoaned that a publishing house rejected his latest book, Sorrow, on the grounds that it would lead to the imprisonment of both the author and the publisher for expressing liberal views antithetical to the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. According to Cemal, the works of other well-known writers in Turkey -- such as Oya Baydar, Nedim Gürsel, Aslı Erdoğan, Baskın Oran and Nurcan Baysal -- have met a similar fate, for the same reason.

Not all authors and publishers in Turkey, however, live in such fear. For instance, the Turkish translation of the book Al-Wala' Wal-Bara ("Loving and Hating for the Sake of Allah Alone"), written by al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, are freely published by Beyaz Minare and distributed by Benli.

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Germany: Number of Foreign-Born Prison Inmates at Record High

by Soeren Kern  •  February 13, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • North Rhine-Westphalia once had 114 prison imams, but now has only 25. The drop occurred after German authorities carried out security checks on prison imams and discovered that 97 imams were Turkish civil servants whose salaries were paid for by the Turkish government. Turkey refused to allow the imams to be interviewed by German officials.

  • In an article entitled, "German Becomes a Foreign Language in Many Prisons," the Berliner Morgenpost reported on the growing number of conflicts between German prison officers and foreign inmates because of communication barriers

  • German authorities are also reporting an increase in inmate attacks on prison staff. In North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, since 2016, the number of assaults on prison staff have more than doubled.

A surge in foreign prison inmates in Germany has led to overcrowded prisons and a shortage of staff. Prisons in Baden-Württemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia are currently at 100% capacity. Pictured: Remscheid Prison in Remscheid, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. (Image source: Coltdragoon/Wikimedia Commons)

The proportion of foreign-born inmates in German prisons is now at a record high, according to a new survey of the justice ministries in Germany's 16 federal states. In Berlin and Hamburg, for example, more than 50% of inmates are now from abroad, according to the report, which also revealed a spike in the number of Islamists in the German prison system.

The data, compiled by the newspaper Rheinische Post, shows that the surge of foreign-born inmates began in 2015, when Chancellor Angela Merkel allowed into Germany more than a million mostly unvetted migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

All of Germany's federal states reported a "very strong increase" of foreign and stateless prisoners in the last three to five years, according to the paper, although a definitive nationwide total is difficult to calculate because of differences in the way federal states compile statistics.

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When Will the World's Largest Sunni Religious Institution Disavow Colonization?

by Saied Shoaaib  •  February 13, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • It is difficult to find today Christian clergy proud of their colonial past. In contrast, many Muslims consider Islamic colonialism and imperialism sacred and part of their religion.

  • To be sure, the West has committed sins, but it has apologized for them. Meanwhile, Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb, the current Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, says that Islam and Muslims are completely innocent, and that the sole culprit is the West. His position totally ignores the Islamic colonial empire that occupied many countries, looting their wealth and committing massacres.

  • Sheikh Al-Tayeb not only failed to apologize for the atrocities listed above, but here are a few examples of what is being taught at the university he heads...

The Islamic Umayyad dynasty initiated the invasion of Spain; the Ottoman Turks followed to conquer European lands, including Bulgaria, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece, Montenegro, Croatia, Kosovo, Hungary, Albania, Georgia and the Balkans. They nearly occupied Paris and Vienna, as well. Pictured: The painting "The Turkish Siege of Vienna," in the Vienna Museum. (Image source: Tyssil/Wikimedia Commons)

In Cairo, Egypt, in October, at an international symposium entitled, "Islam and the West: Diversity and Integration," Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb -- the current Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University, the world's largest Sunni religious institution -- pointed to Andalusia (Muslim-ruled Spain) as a model for the peaceful coexistence between Islam, Christianity and Judaism. It was a peculiar choice: Andalusia is not an example of cooperation; it is an example of the Arab colonization of Europe.

Those who occupied Andalusia were the Umayyad branch of the Quraysh tribe (the tribe of the Prophet Muhammad) from the Arabian Peninsula. They initiated the invasion; the Ottoman Turks followed to conquer European lands, including Bulgaria, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece, Montenegro, Croatia, Kosovo, Hungary, Albania, Georgia and the Balkans. They nearly occupied Paris and Vienna, as well.

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Hamas, Islamic Jihad War Crimes Against Children and Women

by Bassam Tawil  •  February 12, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • It is worth noting that the Hamas and Islamic Jihad members who were killed while participating in the violence near the Gaza-Israel border did not come there dressed in military uniforms or carrying their weapons. Instead, the Hamas and Islamic Jihad men participated in the weekly protests dressed in civilian clothes. They pretended they were ordinary and innocent civilians protesting against the economic crisis in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

  • While they are in Cairo, the Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders continue to send thousands of women and children to engage in violent attacks on Israeli soldiers. These leaders do not care about the safety or welfare of their women and children. On the contrary; the more dead women and children, the better. That way, they can blame Israel for killing innocent civilians and incite more Palestinians to join the jihad against Jews.

  • Those who are encouraging women and children to take part in a violent confrontation with the Israeli army should be held accountable for war crimes. It is time for the international community to call on Hamas and Islamic Jihad and the other terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip to stop hiding behind women and children and to stop using them as human shields in their jihad to eliminate Israel.

Pictured: A group of Palestinians during a riot at the border fence with Israel on May 14, 2018. Two of the young men are preparing to attack Israeli soldiers with slingshots. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

When Hamas launched its weekly demonstrations along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel 10 months ago, it first sent its men and their family members to participate in the protests. A few weeks later, however, Hamas instructed its men to stay away from the border after many were detected and killed by the Israeli army. Most of the Hamas men who were killed during the violence belonged to the group's military wing, Izaddin al-Qassam. Others belonged to the military wing of another terrorist group, Islamic Jihad.

It is worth noting that the Hamas and Islamic Jihad members who were killed while participating in the violence near the Gaza-Israel border did not come there dressed in military uniforms or carrying their weapons. Instead, the Hamas and Islamic Jihad men participated in the weekly protests dressed in civilian clothes. They pretended they were ordinary and innocent civilians protesting against the economic crisis in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

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Turkey: Imprisoned Former Opposition Lawmaker Symbol of Unjust Justice System

by Uzay Bulut  •  February 12, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • During his tenure as a Turkish member of parliament, Eren Erdem exposed ISIS and al-Qaeda activities across Turkey and often called on the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government to stop those activities and bring the militants to account. For that, he has been subject to pressure, investigations and trials.

  • In 2015, Turkey's president Erdogan condemned Erdem and called him a "traitor". An investigation into treason was launched against Erdem, who also received death threats over social media, with his home address posted by pro-government Twitter users, presumably to enable an attack on his house.

  • "On January 7, the court decided to release me by unanimous vote, as there is not a single piece of evidence against me...." – Eren Erdem, letter written from prison around January 28.

Eren Erdem at a June 2016 press conference. (Image source: Eren Erdem video screenshot)

A former deputy of Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), Eren Erdem, who has been under arrest for seven months on terrorism charges, remains incarcerated -- even though a court ruled on January 7 that he would be released pending trial.

Just before he was to be let out of prison, Istanbul's chief public prosecutor's office objected to his release. A higher court accepted the objection and once again issued a detention warrant against him.

In reaction to Erdem's re-arrest despite the court ruling, his father, Hasan Erdem, said: "I'm talking to the person who is giving the instructions for this. You should know that my son and I are not afraid of you. You will not be able to bring us to our knees."

After these statements, Hasan Erdem, 70, was fired from his job.

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UK: A Defeat Dressed Up as a Victory

by Douglas Murray  •  February 11, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • The mosque that agreed to hold the secret event was in Ilford; the chairman of the Muslim Community Centre at the mosque, Bashir Chaudhry, said the exhibition was an "eye-opener" and added that he would encourage other people to see it.

  • A story such as this should provide the strongest possible alarm bells to government and civil society. If, in 2019, any Muslim organization wants to commemorate the bravery of some Muslims in the Holocaust, this has to be staged secretly, covertly, and in fear of some violent or non-violent backlash?

  • In Britain, in 2019, government and non-government figures still feel they must flit around, letting no one know of their movements to commemorate an aspect of the Holocaust. They manage to have a commemoration of the Holocaust in secret. And they think this is a victory.

Bashir Chaudhry, chairman of the Muslim Community Centre in Ilford, England, recently hosted an exhibition on Muslims who helped to save Jews from the Nazis in Albania during WWII. Pictured: High Road in Ilford. (Image source: Sunil060902/Wikimedia Commons)

Remember the Holocaust exhibition in London that couldn't be staged last month -- the exhibition at Golders Green about Muslims who helped to save Jews from the Nazis in Albania during the Second World War? The small exhibition appeared clearly intended for two reasons. First to try to build trust between a new local mosque and the large Jewish community in Golders Green, and second, to remind Muslims in Britain that hostility towards Jews is an ancient and modern evil. The intentions behind the exhibition seemed good.

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Should Washington Heed Intelligence Assessments about North Korea?

by Peter Huessy  •  February 11, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • In spite of the fact that Reagan ultimately won the Cold War -- and the Soviet Union subsequently fell -- his policies and extraordinary global achievements were partially discarded by the failures and laziness of the U.S. intelligence community. Starting in 1993, the US cut back excessively its military defenses. And the US allowed China both militarily and non-militarily to run rampant.

  • Almost worse, the intelligence community failed to recognize the rise of Islamic terrorism in Iran and elsewhere, which would culminate in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

  • What is clear, is that the U.S. intelligence community often has a terrible track record where threat assessments are concerned. Alarmingly, it would not be surprising they were wrong again today.

Pictured: U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shake hands at their first summit in Singapore, on June 12, 2018. (Image source: White House/Wikimedia Commons)

United States intelligence chiefs told Congress on January 29 that Pyongyang is unlikely to give up its nuclear weapons in any deal with Washington. This assessment was made a month ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump's February 27-28 second summit -- to be held in Vietnam -- with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the purpose of which is to make strides in achieving the very denuclearization that FBI Director Christopher Wray, CIA Director Gina Haspel and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats consider improbable.

One would have thought that if these intelligence chiefs disagreed with Trump's efforts to reach a deal with North Korea, they would have presented an alternative. They might have explained what a deal with Pyongyang is liable to do to America's relations with Japan and South Korea. They might have provided a future scenario for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which North Korea signed in 1968, then violated and withdrew from in 2003.

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Pope Francis Leading His Flock to the Slaughter?

by Raymond Ibrahim  •  February 10, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • The "Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together" is being portrayed as a "historic pledge of fraternity" and applauded as a "historical breakthrough." The problem is that one of the two men who signed it, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, has repeatedly contradicted — when speaking in Arabic and appearing on Arabic media — all the lofty sentiments highlighted in it.

  • Al-Tayeb's predecessor, Egypt's former grand imam, Sheikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi (d. 2010), had, "without even being asked, removed all the old books and placed just one introductory book, [but] when al-Tayeb came, he got rid of that book and brought back all the old books, which are full of slaughter and bloodshed." — Dr. Islam al-Behery, a popular Egyptian theologian.

  • "In March 2016, before the German parliament, Sheikh al-Tayeb made unequivocally clear that religious freedom is guaranteed by the Koran, while in Cairo he makes the exact opposite claims..." — Cairo Institute for Human Rights.

  • It is difficult, therefore, to see this document as anything more than a superficial show, presumably for the West, and al-Tayeb's signature on it unfortunately not worth all that much.

A new document, signed by Pope Francis and Al Azhar Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, is being portrayed as a "historic pledge of fraternity" and applauded as a "historical breakthrough." But al-Tayeb has repeatedly contradicted — when speaking in Arabic and appearing on Arabic media — all the lofty sentiments highlighted in it. Pictured: Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on February 4, 2019. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

The two foremost representatives of Christianity and Islam, Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb — the Grand Imam of Al Azhar who was once named the "most influential Muslim in the world" — just signed "A Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together." The Document "forcefully rejects," to quote Vatican News, "any justification of violence undertaken in the name of God," and affirms "respect for believers of different faiths, the condemnation of all discrimination, the need to protect all places of worship, and the right to religious liberty, as well as the recognition of the rights of women."

The Document is being portrayed as a "historic pledge of fraternity" and applauded as a "historical breakthrough." The problem is that one of the two men who signed it, Dr. al-Tayeb, has repeatedly contradicted — when speaking in Arabic and appearing on Arabic media — all the lofty sentiments it highlights.

The Document, for example, asserts that,

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The 40th Anniversary of the Islamic Republic of Iran

by Majid Rafizadeh  •  February 10, 2019 at 4:30 am

  • To harness both the trust and the loyalty of the Iranian people, Ayatollah Khomeini and his followers initially portrayed themselves as spiritual people who had no desire to rule the country.

  • One of the regime's worst mass executions of political prisoners took place when approximately 30,000 individuals, including children and pregnant women, were executed within a period of four months. According to a US congressional condemnation, "prisoners were executed in groups, some in mass hangings and others by firing squad, with their bodies disposed of in mass graves."

  • Even more surprising than Iran's flourishing indifference to the rule of law is that some Western politicians and governments have attempted, and are still attempting, to appease this inhumane regime.

Iran's Islamist regime, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary today, scores highest in the world when it comes to executing people per capita. Pictured: The execution of Kurdish men and others by forces of Iran's Islamist regime, in 1979. (Image source: Jahangir Razmi/Wikimedia Commons)

Today, February 10, the Iranian regime officially celebrates the 40th anniversary of the day it seized power. The fundamentalist and Islamist party of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini surprised the international community and the Iranian people when in 1979, it hijacked a revolution. The successful power-grab sent waves through global politics.

Although some people were aware of the intentions of the Islamist party, many underestimated the extent of its organizational skills and power. To harness both the trust and the loyalty of the people, Ayatollah Khomeini and his followers initially portrayed themselves as spiritual people who had no desire to rule the country. Many, including several political parties, also believed that, during a transitional period, the ruling mullahs would relinquish any power gained.

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Syria: French Count Returns as Russian Apparatchik

by Amir Taheri  •  February 10, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • For Russia, Turkey and Iran, the terrible troika, Syria is an ungoverned territory, the future of which must be decided without its "inhabitants."

  • All three wish to dilute the Arab aspect of Syria's identity. The official media in the troika is full of supposedly learned papers claiming that only 50 percent of Syrians are Arabs. All three oppose naming the future state as "Arab Republic of Syria." Iran is campaigning for the term "Islamic Republic," which is also used in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan and Mauritania.

  • The Russians want a federal system that would enable them to hang on to their enclave on the Mediterranean regardless of what happens to the rest of Syria. The Turks and Iranians oppose federalism because they fear Syrian Kurds might end up with an autonomous state of their own.

  • Syria isn't a blank page on which the Russo-Turco-Iranian wannabe empire builders could draw whatever they dream of. The international community should not accept the re-emergence of a 100-year old colonial monster.

For Russia, Turkey and Iran, Syria is an ungoverned territory, the future of which must be decided without its "inhabitants." Pictured: Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Sochi, Russia, on November 22, 2017. (Image source: kremlin.ru)

Had I believed in the transmigration of souls, I might have thought that the spirit of a French aristocrat from some 100 years has slipped into the body of a Russian apparatchik today.

The Frenchman was the Viscount Robert de Caix de Saint-Aymour. His Russian reincarnation is Alexander Lavrentiev, Russia's Special Presidential Envoy for Syria. What links them is Syria, a land under French occupation 100 years ago and now partially occupied by Russia.

Caix was sent to Syria as Consul General with a mission to decide what to do about a chunk of territory, some 200,000 square kilometers to be exact, snatched from the crumbling Ottoman Empire.

Within weeks, Caix had concluded that the territory in question had no distinct identity in terms of nationhood as defined by the Westphalian Treaties that midwifed the birth of modern European nation-states.

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