Saturday, November 30, 2013

Tell Israel U.S. Will Attack Israeli Jets If They Try To Attack Iran

The national security adviser for former President Jimmy Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinskigave an interview to The Daily Beast in which he suggested President Obama should make it clear to Israel that if they attempt to attack Iran's nuclear weapons sites the U.S. Air Force will stop them.
"We are not exactly impotent little babies," ... "They have to fly over our airspace in Iraq. Are we just going to sit there and watch? … We have to be serious about denying them that right. That means a denial where you aren’t just saying it. If they fly over, you go up and confront them. They have the choice of turning back or not. No one wishes for this but it could be a 'Liberty' in reverse." [Brzezinski said]
The USS Liberty was a U.S. Navy technical research ship that the Israeli Air Force mistakenly attacked during the Six Day War in 1967.

Para Don Alonso

Artist: Madrid De Los Austrias

The World's Only Ethnic Time Zone

World time zones (By

For the past month, the Holy Land was the only place in the world where time zones are delineated not by geography but by ethnography. 

By Yuval Ben-Ami 

As of this morning, for the first time in a month, all the residents of the Holy Land are living in the same time zone. In late September, the Palestinian Authority switched to winter time, but the West Bank’s Israeli settlers continued living in line with Israel’s clock, which only made the switch today. Thus, for one month, the West Bank became the only place in the world where time is not delineated by geography but rather by ethnography: different people went about their lives on different clocks, despite the fact that they live in such close proximity to each other within the same territory.
Settlers today make up over 15 percent of the West Bank population. This means that about every sixth West Bank resident thought an hour ahead of the other five. Drivers passing each other on Route 60 drove in different time zones, depending on to the color of their license plates. Meanwhile, while Israelis on both sides of the Green Line shared the same clock, the Palestinian people was divided in, and by, the dimension of time. Palestinians in Israel and East Jerusalem continued to live according to Israeli time, while Gaza went with Ramallah, switching off daylight savings on September 26.
The lives of West Bank Palestinians who work in settlements or with Israelis, or who have any connection at all with Palestinian citizens of Israel or East Jerusalem residents, became highly complicated. Some of them moved between time zones a few times a day. Many had to wake up at unthinkable hours in order to travel to work across the wrinkle of time. Palestinians who live on one side of the separation barrier and work on the other must anyway calculate the travel time to the checkpoint and the wait at it; this month they were forced to add an extra hour to that.
Ironically, the PA’s early change to winter time was meant to provide synchronicity with Israel. In recent years, Israel’s religious Jewish parties pushed for summer time to end ahead of the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, in order to shorten the fast and ease the lives of the faithful. This year, with no ultra-Orthodox parties in Netanyahu’s coalition, the date was changed at the last moment. The Palestinians did not adhere to the change, perhaps fearing that a further Israeli change of heart would force them to switch the date once more, and the bizarre delay was created.
In my work as tour guide, I moved between the two clocks all month. Often I was joined by dozens of tour participants, headed from Jerusalem to meet a speaker in Hebron or Nablus, at an hour on which no one was clear. The experience was annoying at times, funny at others. It was far more tolerable than other phenomena of the occupation, but around these parts we long ago learned to cheer the tiniest changes for the better. Today, with the synchronizing of the clocks, such change has occured: the rate of absurdity dropped by a tick.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Tempest

Based on the play of the same name by William Shakespeare.

Starring: Helen Mirren, Russell Brand, Tom Conti, Chris Cooper, Alan Cumming, Djimon Hounsou,
Felicity Jones, Alfred Molina, David Strathairn, Ben Whishaw

The Traveler

The Traveler by Nelleke

We have all heard that no two snowflakes are alike. Each snowflake takes the perfect form for the maximum efficiency and effectiveness for its journey. And while the universal force of gravity gives them a shared destination, the expansive space in the air gives each snowflake the opportunity to take their own path. They are on the same journey, but each takes a different path.
Along this gravity-driven journey, some snowflakes collide and damage each other, some collide and join together, some are influenced by wind… there are so many transitions and changes that take place along the journey of the snowflake. But, no matter what the transition, the snowflake always finds itself perfectly shaped for its journey.
I find parallels in nature to be a beautiful reflection of grand orchestration. One of these parallels is of snowflakes and us. We, too, are all headed in the same direction. We are being driven by a universal force to the same destination. We are all individuals taking different journeys and along our journey, we sometimes bump into each other, we cross paths, we become altered… we take different physical forms.
At every given moment we are absolutely perfect for what is required for our journey. I’m not perfect for your journey and you’re not perfect for my journey, but I’m perfect for my journey and you’re perfect for your journey. We’re heading to the same place, we’re taking different routes, but we’re both exactly perfect the way we are.
Photo by: Nelleke
Quote by: Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free
Quote provided by: CZ

What Is An Egyptian Human Life Worth?

Prior to the 14 August clashes, the two main protest sites, al-Nahda and Rabaa al-Adawiya, were densely populated with women, children, and men who have been staging a 47 days-long peaceful sit-in to protest the removal of President Mohammed Morsy. Both sit-ins would at certain moments have a gathering of at least 115,000 people. On July 31, the Egyptian cabinet authorized the interior minister to "take all necessary measures to face these dangers and put an end to them within the framework of the constitution and the law." More than 40 international and national human rights organizations have warned the Egyptian Authorities not to use abusive and excessive force in the dispersal of protesters as Egypt's riot police have consistently responded with excessive and unlawful lethal force in dispersing demonstrations and have showed insufficient respect to protecting the right to life.

This warning resulted from previous massacres committed by the Egyptian Armed Forces and Security Forces against peaceful protesters just a few weeks before. On 8 July, 51 people were killed when lethal force was used on protesters gathered outside the Officer's club, followed by another massacre on 27 July when 74 people were killed, many shot in the head and chest.

On July 19, the EuroMid Observer for Human Rights issued a statement, signed by 11 international human rights organizations, demanding the Egyptian Authorities to protect human lives , emphasizing that "Egyptian security forces and the army are responsible for protecting all protestors, including both supporters and opponents of the deposed president. However, instead, a serious escalation in human rights violations - such as extrajudicial killings; arbitrary arrests; excessive use of force; and deprivation of freedoms of association, speech and expression – has been documented, targeting those who oppose the military's ouster of President Morsi. The Egyptian authorities have not only perpetrated such acts, but also turned a blind eye to their practice by others."

As the Egyptian cabinet was considering the pro-Morsi sit-ins a "threat to national security", human rights organizations and governments around the world kept urging the Egyptian Armed Forces to show restraint, to seek for a peaceful dispersal of the sit-ins and to avoid the escalation of violence.

Yet Egypt has been ruled since its independence by the generals who have since then committed severe human rights violations, showing little respect to human rights and dignity and acting with blatant disregard for human life.

Violating The Rights To Freedom Of Peaceful Assembly and Of Association Of The Protesters

The violence started around 6.30 a.m. on Wednesday 14 August as Central Security Forces (riot police) backed by helicopters and snipers, surrounded both sit-ins and fired tear gas from three different entries while heavy semi-automatic bursts of gunfire were heard. 

Eyewitnesses' reports and video footage showed the sounds of successive gun shots and men in the crowd falling to the ground right away, which means that security forces were using live gunfire as snipers were firing tear gas and live ammunition from rooftops and helicopters. EuroMid researcher counted 42 victims in the first hour. Security forces shredded through the labyrinthine networks of tents and tarpaulin shacks, setting them on fire, with women and children still inside of them, causing many casualties and injuries. An eyewitness told EuroMid "a mother and her baby were crushed to death inside the tent", as severe chaos rose among the bloodshed.

The Egyptian Authorities have blatantly violated the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association of the protesters, which states that: "Everyone has the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association [...] and these rights are essential components of democracy".

Responses to demonstrations and sit-ins must comply with international standards, even when some participants err by resorting to violence, including the use of firearms. International standards forbid the excessive use of lethal force, and do not justify the intentional murder of protestors by police or military snipers. The use of force must not exceed what is required to prevent the use of violence. Firing live ammunition at crowds is intolerable and should be considered a criminal act.

Extrajudicial Executions

The Egyptian Security Forces had announced one safe corridor from which protesters could exit the Rabaa sit-in parallel to Tayaran Street. Protestors and eyewitnesses stated that the security forces deliberately targeted protesters who were using the safe corridor, and attacked physically and verbally protestors as they were trying to escape. Men were executed on the spot while walking with their hands above their heads. The police unlawfully killed protesters who were clearly not engaged in any form of violence.

This was clearly not an attempt to break-up a peaceful sit-in, but a huge military operation against unarmed civilians. The use of deadly fire on such a scale and the killing of so many by the security forces prove that there was an intention to kill with no regard for people's lives.

Within less than 3 hours, the Field Hospital itself and the adjacent halls were completely full with corpses and injured protesters. The injuries varied from bird-shots to live bullets, burns and asphyxiation. Medical staff reported that the "majority of the bullet injuries were to the head, neck, and chest, as well that the angle of gunshot wounds indicated they were shot from above, as some of the deaths were judged to be targeted killings, as the position of the shots could only result in death".

The Egyptian Security Forces are guilty of extrajudicial executions, which are acts outside the realm of rule of law and hence deprive the targeted individual(s) of their right to life, as well as the right to defend themselves against charges against them. The killing of a person by governmental authorities without the sanction of any judicial proceeding or legal process is an unlawful punishment that violates the Declaration of Human Rights.

But who will hold the Egyptian Forces accountable? They have not opened or announced any investigation into any of those cases, which is contrary to the provisions of Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions, which state the need to investigate cases of unlawful killings and that the "purpose of the investigation shall be to determine the cause, manner and time of death, the person responsible, and any pattern or practice which may have brought about that death," and that "the body of the deceased person shall not be disposed of until an adequate autopsy is conducted by a physician".

But as death tolls rose, the Egyptian authorities attempted to cover up the numbers of the massacre. The police are refusing to register the cause of death as murder and push families to list the cause as accidents or suicide. The EuroMid researcher was shown official certificates of death were the cause of death was not mentioned.

Places designated for the sole protection of civilians, such as hospital zones, should not be the object of military operations

Additionally, the Egyptian Security Forces imposed a siege on the Rabaa Field Hospital, preventing ambulances from coming through from the very beginning of the violent crackdown. At least one ambulance medic was shot in the head. Snipers were targeting anyone coming in and out of the hospital. It is a criminal act to deliberately attack a hospital or other medical units, whether civilian or military. Medical personnel in general may not be attacked.

According to the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, when whenever the use of force and firearms is unavoidable, law enforcement officials shall ensure that assistance and medical aid are rendered to any injured or affected persons at the earliest possible moment. This obligation was violated by Egyptian Forces, specifically by imposing a siege on the Field Hospital, and blocking its entrance, and eventually setting it on fire.

Unlawful Use Of Teargas

Rules under international customary law ban the use of certain weapons as an instrument to contain assemblies. Central Security Forces (riot police), backed by the Egyptian Army, fired teargas canisters and gas bombs directly at the densely populated sit-ins, causing severe cases of asphyxiation and injuries among women, children and elderly. Eyewitnesses reported that as a result of the excessive use of teargas, the stampede rushed forward, and some people were crushed to death. It appears that security forces firing tear gas at the stampeding protesters exacerbated the situation, as people could not see a safe passage and may have been the cause of some of the deaths.

No Respect To Human Life Right and Dignity

The Egyptian authorities may decide, in accordance to national law, to disperse a demonstration, they are bound to comply with a series of obligations, namely, they should respect and protect the life and security of all personas. The Egyptian Security Forces have clearly failed in safeguarding Egyptian lives.

Considering the evidence in the case of Egypt, security agents used lethal force when it was not necessary to protect lives or prevent serious injury and hence clearly violated the international law and standards. They have used live ammunition at crowds; they have extrajudicially killed dozens; they have used excessive teargas, resulting in some people crushed to death and hundreds asphyxiated; they have targeted medical personnel, setting a hospital on fire, and they have not spared women and children. Men were executed on the spot while walking with their hands above their heads. More than 700 have been victims of arbitrary arrests and at least 1500 are missing until this moment.

While human rights organizations are overwhelmed with the magnitude of the Rabaa massacre, a new one followed just 3 days later. Hours after Egyptian army chief General Abdel Fattah El Sissi urged the Muslim Brotherhood to pursue dialogue instead of "terrorism," 52 prisoners were killed while being transported to a prison outside Cairo. The Egyptian Security Forces are prohibiting human rights organizations and journalists from investigating this new incident. Egyptian security forces are guilty of a pattern of excessive and unwarranted lethal force, which have led to an unlawful mass massacre, unprecedented in modern Egyptian history.

On 15 August, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay stated that "the number of people killed or injured, even according to the government's figures, point to an excessive, even extreme, use of force against demonstrators. There must be an independent, impartial, effective and credible investigation of the conduct of the security forces. Anyone found guilty of wrongdoing should be held to account" she said.

Since the deposal of President Morsy on July 3, at least 1500 people have been killed in Egypt as a result of the erupted violence. But who will investigate these violations of national and International laws? Interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi, on Egyptian TV, defended and justified the clearing as "necessary to restore the security of Egyptians" and praised the Ministry of Interior and police for showing "restraint to the maximum level". 

While Egyptians rose in January 25 to put a halt to all these violations, it is clear, one massacre after the other, that the new military-installed regime does not appear to be interested in safeguarding Egyptian human rights. The path to democracy has vanished under the bloody boots of the army.

Hanine Hassan is a Researcher in Human Rights violations and doctoral student studying aspects of mental torture and humiliation under occupation. She tweets at @hanine09.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Have Some Popcorn خد فيشار

The so-called "news" the Egyptian media produces isn't based in reality and is closer to the stuff of science fiction movies. So Joe skewers the media lies and propaganda in a creative and witty video.

Overthrowing Tyrannical Regimes Is A Must For Muslims

There is no doubt that enduring political tyranny is the fundamental root-cause of the many ills plaguing the Arab world from Morocco to Bahrain. Hence, it is essential that this tyranny be eradicated if the estimated 300 million Arabs will have any real hope for a better tomorrow. 
We all know that there is not a single Arab country that really enjoys any real semblance of democracy, perhaps with the exception of Lebanon, a country with 35 religious sects and denominations which have maintained an uneasy and often bloody coexistence since independence in the mid 1940s.
Some Arab regimes have succeeded in bribing their often politically-unconscious masses into submission and pacification by granting them hefty financial inducements. But life is more than just eating and mating, and people in some of these oil-rich countries are beginning to ask the hard questions the despotic dynastic rulers have always dreaded.
In other countries, especially the so-called republics, the comparatively more tyrannical regimes continue to employ the same stale nationalistic rhetoric which the masses have been hearing ad nauseam and got fed up with for many decades.
The stale slogans include, inter alia, references to western imperialism, Zionism, capitalism and reactionary forces. Indeed, ever since the end of the Second World War, any Arab daring to demand basic human rights and civil rights from the tyrannical regimes and ruling juntas has been automatically charged with collaboration with Israel or being an agent for Capitalistic or imperialistic forces.
Numerous prominent Arab intellectuals and thinkers were executed on concocted charges. We all remember the great Egyptian Islamic thinker Sayed Qutb as an outstanding example of the victims of Gamal Abdul Nasser's tyranny.
Nasser, undoubtedly a charismatic autocrat, tried to create a false Arab religion, comprising a combination of socialism and anti-Islam Arab nationalism. As we all know, this religion died an ignominious death in 1967 when Israel defeated Egypt, Syria and Jordan and seized the remainder of Palestine, including the Aqsa Mosque, as well as the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula and the Syrian Golan Heights.
We should also remember the fact that a few months before that fateful war, the atheistic Baath party declared the "end of Islam" when one of its leading officials, Ibrahim Makhos, wrote in  the Syrian army magazine, Jayshu Shab (or the people's army) that “Allah,  religion and morality ought to be viewed as mere  mummies in the museum of history.”!
Similarly, Gamal Abdul Nasser was declared as the "last Arab prophet," although he was responsible for the greatest Arab defeat since the Crusades seized Jerusalem in 1099.
The reason for this historical background is to remind readers that the current Arab regimes are mere "extensions" -in every conceivable respect- of past regimes in Cairo and Damascus. For example, Gen. Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, the mass murderer who ordered his henchmen to open fire indiscriminately on peaceful protesters at Rabaa, openly claims he is a political incarnation of Nasser. 
Similarly, Bashar el-Assad, the Hitler of Syria who didn't hesitate to exterminate his own people with deadly chemical weapons, says he is following the footsteps of his father Hafez el-Assad, the cursed tyrant who murdered tens of thousands of innocent Syrians in Hama and who is widely believed to have ceded the Golan Heights to Israel in 1967 when he was commander-in-chief of the Syrian army.
Criminals par excellence
The secular Arab media, much of which is vehemently hostile to Islam, keeps referring to Islamists and other free-minded individuals taking part in the current revolutions in both Syria and Egypt as "terrorists." 
However, a thorough examination of outstanding facts would reveal that the true terrorists are the regimes, not their opponents. 
In fact, there are numerous damn reasons justifying and even necessitating revolution against these nefarious regimes from the religious, moral, human and political perspectives.
In the following paragraphs, I will present some of the hard-pressing reasons making revolution a must.
First, some of these regimes, such as in Syria, have been shamelessly trying to change the religion of 90% of Syrians-from Islam to Godless secularism or heretical Shiism (whereby Ali Bin abi Taleb is worshipped as God incarnate).
Indeed, on every occasion, spokesmen and mouthpieces of the Syrian regime boast of being the guardians of secularism in the Arab world. By making the false claim, they hope to obtain a certificate of good conduct from the West, especially in the aftermath of 9/11 events in the US, when west governments became more allergic to anything Islamic.
Well, true secularism means freedom of religion, first and foremost. It also implies, as in the U.S., protection of religion from government interference. But in Syria and Egypt, this is not the case as everyone working in the mosques and Islamic affairs ministries -from the lowest ranking employee to the cabinet Minister- is appointed by the Intelligence apparatus.  In Egypt, the Sheikh of Azhar must be answerable to the tyrant ruling to the country. This was amply evident in the absolute and unequivocal support and backing of the Sheikh of Azhar to the bloody coup against the only democratically-elected president in Egypt's history.
This means that religion is manipulated by the government as religious officials must always be loyal to the regime, not to Islam or to God. This explains the fact the official religious establishment in Egypt and Syria as well as other Arab countries are siding with the manifestly evil and murderous regimes, although it is manifestly clear from the Islamic perspective that many of these regimes are apostates.
Second, in Syria and Egypt, one has to be a member of an atheistic or secular party in order to practice his political rights. The new Egyptian Constitution, being prepared by secular fanatics handpicked by the murderous military junta, allows for the formation of political parties based on atheism, secularism, even sexual perversion but not on Islam. This happens in a country whose constitution stipulates in its second article that Islam is "state religion."
And in Syria, which also proclaims Islam as state religion, anyone convicted of affiliation with an Islamist political party is executed before a firing squad. But this doesn't prevent the regime from claiming that Syria is the most democratic country under the sun.
Third, the secular but fascist regimes legalize and encourage every conceivable violation of the Islamic faith, including gambling, prostitution, usury, media promiscuity and atheism. Indeed, it is well known that while religious people are refused admission into numerous jobs and occupations, atheists and unreligious people are readily accepted into the army, air-force, intelligence and other "sensitive" fields. 
In fact, in Syria, and ever since the Baathist coupe of 1963, only Alawites and non-Muslims are accepted in high-ranking jobs in the security apparatuses. In some cases, Sunnis are accepted as a cover-up. However these Sunnis are stripped of any real authority or power.
One Syrian official intimated to this writer that even an Alawhite janitor in any given ministry in Syria has more real power than a Sunni cabinet minister.
Fourth, the ruling regimes in most Arab countries are decidedly anti-democratic. In fact, Arab regimes and democracy cannot be used in the same sentence. They are an eternal oxymoron. Indeed, the highest strategy of any Arab state is to keep the current regime in power. Every other consideration is subservient to that strategy.
Sometimes, some of these regimes are forced to organize elections, mainly under foreign pressure. But before they embark on holding the elections, they promulgate draconian laws designed to maximize the chances of success for anti-Islam secular candidates and/or regime supporters, and minimize the chances of the Islamists. 
And in case the Islamists win despite all the odds and hurdles as happened in Egypt in 2012, the regimes, or the deep state apparatus ( e.g. the justice system), resort to canceling the elections altogether for "technical or procedural reasons." 
The reason the elections results are cancelled is simple. These people are infinitely corrupt. They are big thieves to say the very least. Hence, they are really worried that any clean government which might arise as a result of the democratic process would put them behind bars and recover the millions of dollars that they have embezzled. 
Hence, they follow the adage “let us eat them for lunch before they eat us for dinner."
Real Conflict
The real conflict in the Arab world is not between Islam and secularism, although secularism is not part of Islam as there is no real separation between mosque and state.
The real conflict is actually between fascism, which often dons a secular attire, and democracy. The problem for the fascists is that they can't allow true democracy to take root in their countries for two main reasons.
First, a true democracy would overthrow the tyrants sooner or later, forcing them to lose their grip on power and privileges, especially the huge thefts they amassed at the expense of the people.
Second, a true democracy would sooner or later bring the Islamists to the fore.
Hence, the most "reasonable option" for these fascists is to seek alliance with pseudo-liberals, leftists, and religious minorities on the ground that the Islamists are their "common enemy."  
To conclude, the Islamists have every right under the sun to revolt against these criminal and bankrupt regimes. Indeed, the Islamists are damn correct in claiming that their very religion (Islam) is at stake especially if these regimes are allowed to linger unopposed and unchallenged.
Khalid Amayreh is an American-educated journalist living in al-Khalil in occupied Palestine.

La Calatrava

Artist: Parov Stelar

China Restricts Islam

With prayers banned in public areas, private hajj trips not allowed, teaching of the Noble Qur'an not allowed in private and students and government officials forced to eat during Ramadan, China is enforcing laws and regulations restricting the practice of Islam.
"Of course this makes people angry," Mohammad, a teacher, told The New York Times on Sunday, October 19.
"Excitable people think the government is wrong in what it does. They say that government officials who are Muslims should also be allowed to pray."
In recent week, Chinese authorities have enforced laws restricting the ability of Muslims in the northwestern region of Xinjiang from practicing their faith.
In Khotan, signs posted in front of the grand mosque say the weekly Friday prayer sermon must not extend beyond than a half-hour.
Prayers in public areas outside the mosque is forbidden and residents are banned from worshipping at mosques outside their town.
Under the rules, imams are banned from teaching the Qur'an in private and only official versions of the Qur'an are allowed.
Studying Arabic is only allowed at special government schools.
Government workers are banned from showing the slightest sign of religious devotion.
For example, a Muslim civil servant could be sacked for donning hijab.
Many of the rules have been on the books for years, but local authorities have publicly highlighted them in recent weeks with banners hanged in towns.
They began posting regulations mandating women not to wear hijab and men to shave their beards.
Uighur Muslims are a Turkish-speaking minority of more than eight million in Xinjiang, a northwest vast area that borders Central Asia.
Atheist China recognizes five religions — Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Taoism and Buddhism — and tightly regulates their administration and practice.
Official Hajj
Under the rules, two of Islam's five pillars – the Ramadan fasting and hajj – are strictly controlled.
Students and government workers are compelled to eat during the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
China has also revived a law prohibiting Muslims from arranging their own trips to Saudi Arabia to perform hajj.
Signs painted on mud-brick walls in the winding alleyways of old Kashgar warn against making "illegal" hajj.
"Implement the policy of organized and planned pilgrimage; individual pilgrimage is forbidden," reads a red banner hanging on a large mosque in Urumqi, the regional capital of Xinjiang.
Authorities have also confiscated passports of Uighur Muslims across Xinjiang to force them to join government-run hajj tours rather than their own trips.
Once a person files an application, the authorities do a background check into the family.
If the applicant has children, the children must be old enough to be financially self-sufficient, and the applicant is required to show that he/she has substantial savings in the bank.
To get a passport to go on an official hajj or a business trip, applicants must leave a deposit of nearly $6,000.
Now virtually no Uighurs have passports, though they can apply for them for short trips.
This has made life especially difficult for businessmen who travel to neighboring countries.
Critics say the government is trying to restrict contacts with world Muslims, fearing that could highlight the sufferings of Muslims in Xinjiang and possibly build pressures on China.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Fear Not The Path Of Truth

This documentary follows Ross Caputi, veteran of the 2nd siege of Fallujah, as he investigates the atrocities that he participated in and the legacy of US foreign policy in Fallujah, Iraq.

Rude Boys

Artist: Parov Stelar

China’s Forgotten Muslims

By Azizudin El-Kaissouni

Amnesty International recently issued an extensive report on the policies of the Chinese government towards the Uighur minority in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR).1 The 24-page document details the various legislative provisions recently introduced into Chinese law with a view to curbing “terrorist, separatist and illegal religious activities.” Loosely translated, China is attempting to create domestic legal sanctions for the post-September 11th crackdown on Muslims and Islam in XUAR.
By no means is a Chinese crackdown on organized religion unique; China has a long-standing antagonism towards religion, as evidenced by the highly publicized crack down on the Falun Gong sect a few years back, and the ongoing persecution of the Tibetans. However, unlike Falun Gong, Uighurs are not exceptionally popular in the West, and unlike the Buddhists of Tibet, have no charismatic leader in exile or celebrity converts in Hollywood to rally to their cause.
The report, however, is a poignant reminder of a persecuted Muslim community that has been ignored far too long.
China’s New Dominion
A note on names: Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region is the name given to Eastern Turkistan by the Chinese government, and is the cause of much resentment; Xinjiang is Chinese for “New Dominion,” or “New Frontier,” a legacy of their former Manchu rulers, who invaded Eastern Turkistan in 1759 and incorporated it into China. The reference, understandably, does not go down well with Uighur nationalists.
One feels the need to stress that, while this article focuses on Eastern Turkistan and the Uighur population thereof, this is in no way meant to denigrate or disregard the suffering of countless other Muslims at the hands of the Chinese government.
Who are the Uighurs?
Uighur girl in Kucha
The Uighurs are not the only Muslims in China; the Hui Muslims are also a recognized minority of several millions, and minorities of Tajiks, Kyrgyz, and Kazakhs are to be found in Xinjiang.2Two percent of China’s population is Muslim; a deceptively small statistic until one realizes the reference is to a country with a population of 1.2 billion, leading to a total of 24 million.3The Uighurs, however, are distinct for various reasons.
Ethnically, the Uighurs are a Turkic people, their language being part of the larger Altaic family. Since their adoption of Islam in the 10th century, during the reign of the Karakhanid kings, the Uighurs used Arabic script until the Chinese forced them to adopt a new Latin-based alphabet. Eventually, the Uighurs were allowed, in one of the Chinese government’s parsimonious concessions to their “national” minorities, to return to their Arabic script in 1983.4
Eastern Turkistan Republics
Military of the Eastern Turkistan Republic (1944-1949)
Historically, the Uighurs have a rich and distinct history, a fact official Chinese propaganda has long sought to bury. The Manchu rule of Eastern Turkistan was violently opposed by the Uighurs until they were successfully expelled in 1862. Independence was short-lived, however, with the Manchu reoccupying the land in 1876, and annexing it proper in 1884. Resistance to Chinese rule continued, regardless of whether the rulers were the Imperial Manchu dynasty or the Kuomintang nationalist government, culminating in the establishment of two republics in the 20th century, one of which was crushed with the assistance of Soviet troops in 1934. The second and more important state was the Eastern Turkistan Republic (ETR) established on November 12th, 1944. Coming under intense pressure from both the Kuomintang and the Communists, the leaders of the ETR accepted an invitation to Beijing for negotiations. Their plane never arrived at Beijing. It was announced months later that it had crashed en route in the Soviet Union. In October of 1949, People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops marched into the Eastern Turkistan Republic, effectively ending the ETR.
Though lasting only five years before coming under the occupation of Mao Zedong’s PLA troops, the creation of the Republic was an epic moment for the Uighurs, the memory of which is cherished and marked by Uighur nationalists to this day.
Under Communist Rule (1949 - Present)
Mao’s Cultural Revolution was a period of terrible suffering for the Uighurs. Religion was identified as a “bourgeois” conception and therefore bore the brunt of the Red Army’s wrath. A Human Rights Watch report, “Xinjiang, China’s Restive Northwest” tells of how the Uighurs were forced to breed pigs, and mosques were shut down and occasionally used as pork warehouses, to add terrible insult to devastating injury.5
Fast-forward a few decades. An aggressive population transfer policy has seen the rapid growth of the Han community in XUAR, from an original 6% in 1949 to 40% in 1978, and has effectively made the Uighurs second-class citizens in their country, discriminated against in both employment and education.
Animosity is rife between the Uighurs and the Hans; one reporter relates asking a group of Han children gathered near a statue of Chinese revolutionary Wang Zhen why he was considered a hero. The answer: “Because he killed many Uighurs.” Such a response from a ten year old is perhaps somewhat indicative of the feelings of the Han colonialists toward the indigenous Uighurs.
Tensions are also exacerbated by the fact that Han enterprises exercise a monopoly on most of the area’s scarce resources. All this, coupled with the obvious hatred and disdain the Chinese feel towards the Uighurs and their religion, mean that it comes as no surprise that some Uighurs have concluded that armed resistance is the only option available.
Human Rights Abuses
Violent opposition to Chinese rule in East Turkistan is sporadic; occasional bombings or shootings take place and are met with a terrible fury. Every so often, reports are issued about the arrest, trial and execution of “terrorists” or “ethnic splittists” as the Chinese insist on calling them. Even peaceful protests are met with excessive force.
On one notable occasion in 1997, the town of Ghulja was brought to a halt by large-scale Uighur demonstrations in Ramadan; in response, the Chinese government sealed off the town, imposed a press black-out, and proceeded to viciously quell the protests. The official count suggested 10 deaths and 198 injured, and 500 arrests, according to Human Rights Watch. Uighur sources insist the numbers were many times higher. A similar situation occurred in the town of Baren, where an alleged armed insurgency was quelled with military forces, reportedly leaving dozens, if not hundreds dead.
The Human Rights Watch report is also particularly illuminating. The report describes the various forms of repression and persecution suffered by the Muslims of Eastern Turkistan under Chinese rule.
It is particularly painful to hear of the draconian measures utilized by the Chinese to stamp out any manifestations of religious sentiment among the Uighurs in the aftermath of September 11. Examples of this are plentiful in Amnesty International,6Human Rights Watch, and the U.S. Department of State’s reports. These include but are not limited to nighttime patrols of student dormitories to ensure no prayers are taking place, the banning of fasting during Ramadan, outlawing of Qur’an study meetings and religious schools, the curbing of mosque building, the identification and surveillance of religious leaders, and the banning of history books that do not conform to the “accepted” version of history. There is also the ominous-sounding “political education” that Imams are subjected to. One is led to understand this consists of extensive indoctrination to, as it was put, provide them with “a clearer understanding of the Party’s ethnic and religious policies.”
Old Mosque in Urumci
Eastern Turkistan is also home to the Lop Nur desert, the Chinese nuclear test grounds in the south of XUAR.7 China was, relatively speaking, one of the most aggressive states in terms of nuclear weapons acquisition policy, testing its first hydrogen bomb 32 months after its first fission bomb test. The fallout from these tests has resulted in the wide-scale contamination of water sources and land, in turn resulting in a disproportionately large number of cancer cases, congenital birth defects, and various other related diseases among the Uighur population.8
All the above, combined with China’s notoriously repressive birth control policies (including but not limited to forced abortions), would seem to suggest to the observer that Eastern Turkistan is one of the worst places in the world to be a Muslim right now. In the context of the ongoing global war on Islam, that says something.
It is of little surprise that China, like so many other countries, has chosen to take advantage of September 11th to further its own political agenda and silence - ruthlessly so- internal dissent. All recent human rights reports point to a drastic escalation of persecution and repression against the Uighur minority. UN High Commissioner Mary Robinson expressed her concern over the treatment of the Uighurs in a November visit to China. The Chinese government, predictably, responded that “terrorism,” that ephemeral and much-abused term, is an infringement of human rights and is a threat to international peace and security. Case closed.
The question that inevitably comes to mind upon reading of such terrible persecution is: What can we do about it? Islamically, we are obliged to keep track of conditions of Muslim communities around the globe, particularly when said communities are the target of state-sponsored terror and persecution, numerous as they have become. However, our abilities and efficacy vary substantially depending, sadly enough, on location.
Here in the Arab world, our role is substantially limited by a government blatantly antagonistic to the concept of pan-Islamism or even just plain old concern for fellow Muslims, going so far as to arrest and try people who collect money for Chechnya or similar causes. It also virtually impossible to seek to influence government policy in any sense, due to the autocratic nature of the regimes.
Muslims in most places in the West, on the other hand, have more flexibility with regards to issues of this type. The minimum we can set out to do is seek to be aware of the situation in East Turkistan. Those who can should attempt to raise others’ awareness of the situation by any means possible, whether by a simple talk, or by trying to get something published in a local or campus paper. In this regard, The Uyghur Human Rights Coalition ( has compiled a small, yet comprehensive list on how one can contribute to the support of the Uighurs. While the list is tailored for a Western audience, a number of the suggestions can be undertaken by Muslims anywhere.
In that regard, I would urge readers to explore and bookmark the links in this article, as a gateway to information on the plight of the Uighurs in China.
To conclude, one need not point out that we as Muslims are having our identity systematically erased. One minor way to counter this purposeful erasure is to ensure a consistent and dedicated effort to maintain and cultivate links to and an awareness of the larger community of Muslims around us.
We can longer afford to disregard Islam outside our borders. Where possible, we must aggressively lobby the media and the government to bring these issues to the forefront of domestic and international attention, not so much for the benefit of the Western audience, but rather for the benefit of the uninformed amongst us Muslims. And while it is only natural that the question of Palestine will be more central to many of us, we cannot allow it to completely overshadow the suffering of Muslims elsewhere, who have for years suffered in silence.
1- Amnesty International “China: Extensive crackdown on Uighurs to counter “terrorism” must stop”
2- China’s Official Gateway to News and Information “Ethnic Minorities”
4- Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights: Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Uighur version)
6- Amnesty International Report 2002 “China”
7- Nuclear Threat Archive “Lop Nur Nuclear Weapons Test Base”
8- Uyghur Human Rights Coalition “China’s Violations of Uyghur Human Rights”