Friday, January 28, 2011

Fighting the “Soft War” on Israel

by Giulio Meotti

More and more, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have become one of the most powerful — and controversial — pressure blocs in the global arena. In recent weeks, Israel’s parliament established a commission of inquiry into NGO funding from Arab regimes such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Algeria. Well-heeled NGO advocates have criticized the investigation for being heavy-handed, but in fact, an accurate understanding of the finances behind NGOs is desperately needed. Not only are these groups bankrolled by Israel’s enemies, but the funds are used for the express purpose of conducting “soft” warfare against the country from within. This nexus must be exposed.

According to Natan Sharansky, a former Soviet dissident who was pivotal in the creation of the famous NGO Human Rights Watch, many of these organizations are currently being used by dictatorships to fight democracies. NGOs have become crucial in biased reports against Israel submitted at the United Nations, like the Goldstone Report on the Gaza War. Their “humanitarian” lamentations are often generously funded by the European Union, which supports many anti-Israel enterprises.

NGOs fueled the legal battle to shut down Guantanamo Bay, which the former president of Amnesty International, Irene Khan, has shamefully called “the Gulag of our time.” The power of NGOs was discussed also in recently released WikiLeaks cables, with the revelation that Muslim “charities” are still playing a decisive role in financing terrorism.

Last year, a Turkish NGO called Insane Yardim Vakfi (IHH) sparked an unprecedented crisis in relations between Israel and Turkey. These organizations are also playing a role in the ongoing legal indictments against Israeli politicians and the country’s military. Israel has canceled “strategic dialogue” with London to protest a British law that allows judges to arrest members of the Israeli government for alleged “war crimes” if they set foot in the UK. Many Israelis cancelled UK trips out of fear of being arrested.

NGOs are promoting campaigns for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against the Jewish State. Some openly advocate “the abolition of Israel through the creation of a single state” in Palestine. The “soft war” against the Jews was born at the Durban UN Conference in 2001, at which 3,000 NGOs convinced the UN to condemn Israeli “racism.” Well-known NGOs such as Amnesty International and Save the Children attached their names to the conference. Israel was declared an “apartheid” and “criminal” state, and the Jews, inveterate racists.

NGOs at the conference supported the request of the Tanzanian minister of foreign affairs, Jakaya Kikwete, for immediate cash compensation to Africa for Western slavery. This fabricated colonial sense of guilt has become jet fuel for the humanitarian agenda. Encouraged by these NGOs, the genocidal Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe proclaimed that the Jews were responsible for all the ills of Africa. Some NGOs distributed leaflets with a portrait of Hitler and the inscription: “What if Hitler had won? There would be no Israel, and no Palestinian bloodshed.”

The mass of NGOs in the streets at the conference exalted Osama bin Laden, while the images of George Bush and Ariel Sharon were ornamented with swastikas and motifs of blood and death. Sadly, these NGOs will soon have another opportunity to showcase their Jew-hatred: the United Nations will celebrate “Durban III” in New York, just a few days after the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 atrocities.

Human Rights Watch used to be one of the most respectable NGOs. But the credibility of the organization, increasingly affluent after receiving million-dollar donations from the radical philantropist George Soros, has faded after controversy erupted over a talk by the NGO’s spokesperson, Sarah Leah Whitson, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Ms. Whitson was not there to protest religious persecution or the brutal anti-Semitism of the Saudi clergy. Rather, Human Rights Watch was there to collect Saudi donations because, as Whitson later explained, her group must balance the power of “pro-Israel pressure groups in the United States.”

Then came the affair of Marc Garlasco, the military organization expert for Human Rights Watch who enjoyed collecting Hitler memorabilia. Meanwhile, Amnesty International in its fifty years of activities has collected numerous humanitarian awards (including a Nobel Peace Prize in 1977), but it has also had many indictments — including for ignoring Pol Pot’s killing fields and the fate of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been held in captivity by Hamas since 2006.

Amnesty International used Moazzam Begg, a former Guantanamo prisoner and supporter of the Taliban and al Qaeda, to testify for them. The NGO even led Begg to Downing Street, the residence of British prime minister, to support the closure of the US detention camp for al Qaeda terrorists. The Italian secretary-general of Amnesty International Claudio Cordone, defended the organization by saying that the “defensive jihad” is not “diametrically opposed” to human rights. Recently, another Amnesty International official, Frank Johansson of Finland, called Israel “a scum state.”

We are still waiting for the moment when these NGOs will ride on Israeli buses to experience the truly unprovoked, homicidal nature of terrorist attacks. Perhaps, instead, they will demonstrate in the streets of Haifa and Sderot, destroyed by their allies’ Katyushas missiles and Qassams rockets.

Make no mistake, the NGO industry has betrayed the values embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It’s become an accomplice to evil. The new humanitarian industry is rooted in the equality of humankind to the exclusion of the Jew. This is why Western countries should reject Durban III.

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Giulio Meotti

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Jews in the Home of the Mufti: Historic Justice

by Elyakim Haetzni

Karm el-Mufti is the name of the land in Sheikh Jarrah owned by Hajj Amin el-Husseini ("der grosse Mufti," the great Mufti, as he was called in the Nazi German Reich, to which he was affiliated, body and soul). In 1929, the year in which he was responsible for the murder of 118 Jews, two Jewish architects, almost on a volunteer basis, built a spacious home for him.

Hajj Amin, the ideologue of harnessing belligerent Islam to all-out war against the Jews and Zionism and the father of Arab terrorism, was also an ideological Nazi, who in the [Second] World War directed from within Germany the Nazi propaganda for the Middle East. Hitler and Himmler's door was open to him, he built SS divisions in Bosnia, and he received a "franchise" to implement the destruction of the Jews of Eretz Israel by means of the local Arabs, upon Rommel's conquest of the area, as they expected. The Mufti also prevented the rescue of
Jewish children in exchange for German prisoners of war, and saw to their destruction in Auschwitz.

After the war, not only did the British not try him as a war criminal, they even allowed him to continue to fight against us in partnership with Nazis, until his dying day.

Now Jews are in the Karm of the Nazi murderer, and a synagogue in memory of the Holocaust will be located in his house: is there any greater historic justice than this?

The Mufti rented the house to the Christian Arab historian George Antonius, one of the creators ex nihilo of the false Palestinian mythos, in order to neutralize the historical claims of the Jews. Hajj Amin mobilized religious fanaticism in the service of the "Palestinian cause," and Antonius provided the educated West with a pseudoscientific Palestinian narrative with which to attack Zionism. Under the influence of his wife Cathy, the house functioned as a social salon in which, in an aristocratic atmosphere, the Palestinian nobility met with the senior British officials. Both shared their profound loathing of the Jews. Among other lovers, Cathy shared her bed with the infamous General Barker, the commander of the British forces in Eretz Israel, and the author of the slogan "Hit the Jews in their pockets." Members of the Haganah would eventually find his love letters in the house.

Jews in the cradle of Palestinian nationalism and the stylish social anti-Semitism in Eretz Israel: is there any greater historic justice than this?

On April 16, 1948, a convoy to Mount Scopus was attacked close to the "Mufti's House." The British broke their commitment to defend it, and for six hours, in broad daylight, Dr. Yassky, the director of the Hadassah Hospital, Dr. Moshe Ben-David, the director of the medical school, the linguistics scholar Dr. Benjamin Klar, Abraham Freiman, an expert on Jewish law, doctors, professors, nurses, and patients were brutally murdered. At that time, a British regiment (the Scottish Highlanders) was stationed in the Mufti's house, but didn't lift a finger.

And as in Hebron in 1929, the British put an end to the massacre with a single shot, but only after they drank their fill from the blood of 68 Jews, so, too, next to the Mufti's house, they put an end to the horror only after 78 had been murdered. To the contrary, they prevented the Palmah from coming to the assistance of those being slaughtered. On the border of the Mufti's house the British built a beautiful consulate building, that serves - what else? - as a focal point for the consuls' opposition to Jerusalem being the capital of Israel.

Now, the hostile British cannot open a window without seeing Jews through it, from close up: is there greater historic justice than this?

"The Mufti's House" stands at a major junction, in the seam line of historic Jerusalem. The Ramallah authorities, the American and European foreign ministries, and the Jewish collaborators claim that Jewish "settlement" here will prevent the partition of the city, and
will frustrate the establishment of the Palestinian capital in it.

O that it would be so! And if this is the case, then the couple Irving and Cherna Moskowitz, who purchased "Karm el-Mufti" and other strategic sites in order to plant Jewish life in them, have acquired their place in Jewish history.

Only a single question remains hanging in the air unanswered: what has happened to us, that we have lost the ability to experience the satisfaction of achievement, the gratification of success, and the joy of victory?

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Elyakim Haetzni

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Hizbullah, Lebanon PM Deny Cozy Relationship

by Chana Ya'ar

Lebanon's new prime minister and his backers are each working to deny the Hizbullah terrorist organization is pulling the strings of the new national government.

However, Prime Minister-elect Najib Mikati was in fact selected by the 12-member Hizbullah terrorist faction that toppled the previous Western-backed government earlier this month.

Nevertheless, Mikati denies he has any particular obligations to the terrorist organization that helped put him in power. The 12-member Hizbullah faction in the parliament is also denying exerting undue influence.

The head of the faction told the Associated Press Thursday "We did not give a list of conditions to Prime Minister Mikati. What we asked for is a national partnership and a national salvation government in which everyone cooperates for the interest of the country."

However, the former incumbent Prime Minister Sa'ad Hariri -- who was knocked out of power by Hizbullah -- and his Future Movement bloc say they will not join the new national government unless Mikati clarifies his position on the United Nations Tribunal for Lebanon.

Mikati garnered 68 votes to Hariri's 60 mandates Tuesday on the second day of parliamentary consultations at the presidential residence near Beirut.

The billionaire businessman challenger to the incumbent, Sa'ad Hariri, entered office against the backdrop of a conflict over the prospect of forthcoming indictments by the Tribunal. The U.N. body is expected to charge several senior Hizbullah terrorists with the 2005 assassination of Hariri's father, former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.

The Western-backed Lebanese leader was murdered in a massive truck bombing that targeted his convoy in downtown Beirut. Explosives approximating 1,000 kilograms of TNT were used to kill the former prime minister. Twenty others died in the blast.

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Chana Ya'ar

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Iran's Allies Gain Clout and Possible Softer Edges

by Brian Murphy

From the Afghan badlands to the Mediterranean, evidence of Iran's reach is easy to spot: a mix of friend and foe for Kabul leaders, a power broker in Iraq, deep alliances with Syria and a big brother to Lebanon's Hezbollah and Hamas in Gaza.

Tehran's proxy portfolio suddenly has a bit more aura after Hezbollah's political gambit - bringing down a pro-Western government in Lebanon and moving into position to pick its successor.

To those keeping score, it would appear that Iran is winning some important points around the Middle East at the expense of Washington and its allies.

But such gains have potential built-in costs, experts say. With Iran's extended family increasingly joining the ranks of power - first in Gaza, then Iraq and now Lebanon - there also comes pressure to moderate and make other compromises often required from those in charge.

It eventually could bring some uncomfortable contrasts for Tehran - with its partners in the region embracing more flexible policies and Iran facing more sanctions and isolation for refusing to make concessions over its nuclear program.

"Certainly there is more visible Iranian influence around the region," said Salman Shaikh, director of The Brookings Doha Center in Qatar. "But these are no longer just vassals of Iran. As they move into political roles, there will be changes that Iran cannot control. We shouldn't look at Lebanon as a zero-sum game between Iran and the West."

The same may hold true elsewhere.

In Iraq, influence from Iran is on the rise now that backers of militant Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr have joined the government in Baghdad, which already had deep ties with Iran. Al-Sadr remains fiercely opposed to American "occupiers" - which his Mahdi Army militia battled for years.

But al-Sadr - who took refuge in Iran in 2007 - showed hints of trying to cultivate a more statesmanlike demeanor during his first visit back to Iraq. Al-Sadr this month held meetings that included pro-Western figures such as President Jalal Talabani and urged Iraq's majority Shiites and Sunnis to look beyond their past bloodshed.

There's little chance that al-Sadr will ease his demands that the Pentagon stick to its timetable to withdraw all troops by the end of the year. And his Iranian links are obvious. At a speech in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, his guards wore Iranian style outfits: identical gray suits with shirts and no ties.

"Yet now he has to answer to the Iraqi people about rebuilding the country," said Hadi Jalo, a political analyst at Baghdad University. "He goes from outsider to insider and that means he has to look in all directions, including the West, and not just toward Iran."

Syria, too, appears to be facing similar choices.

Earlier this month, the first U.S. ambassador to Syria since 2005 took up his post in Damascus. Washington hopes the deeper diplomatic engagement will further nudge Syrian President Bashar Assad into the Western fold and perhaps make him more receptive to future talks with Israel and appeals to cut support for Hezbollah.

About a week later, Iran's acting foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, held talks in Syria over "regional developments," said Syria's state news agency SANA.

High on the agenda was the political upheaval in Lebanon and their roles as co-patrons of Hezbollah, which became heroes in the Muslim world for its war with Israel in 2006. The Shiite militant group has added to its stature by becoming Lebanon's king-maker: On Tuesday, Hezbollah picked billionaire businessman Najib Mikati as its choice for prime minister.

Lebanon's government fell after months of tensions over a U.N.-backed investigation into the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Many Lebanese blamed the killing on Syria and Hezbollah - with huge protests forcing Syria to end its 29-year military presence in Lebanon and opening the way for a pro-Western government led by Saad Hariri, the slain politician's son.

The Hague-based tribunal has issued indictments, but they have not been made public. Many expect Hezbollah to be named.

Mikati, however, immediately sought to ease worries that Iran was now pulling the strings in Lebanon.

"I am not in a confrontation with the West," he told the private LBC station. "We are looking to build good relations with the West."

To some, it's not an empty promise - even as the Obama administration reconsiders its economic and military support for Lebanon, which has totaled $720 million since 2006.

Israeli officials and others have noted that important U.S. allies in the Arab world, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, have raised no serious objections to the U.S.-educated Mikati despite their deep-seated worries about Iran.

Saudi Arabia, however, advised its citizens Wednesday not to travel to Lebanon until "the return of calm and stability."

"Lebanon will not suddenly become more Iranian or more 'Hezbollian' than it was two days ago," said a commentary in the Israeli daily Ha'aretz. "It will primarily be more Syrian, and that is a major difference, as Syria - which seeks to move closer to the United States and, thanks to France, sees itself as close to Europe - does not want Iran to seize control in its traditional sphere of influence."

That still doesn't lessen the entrenched suspicions many Lebanese have toward Hezbollah and its backers in Iran.

A secret diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks describes an April 2008 meeting in Beirut in which Lebanon's telecommunications minister at the time, Marwan Hamadeh, tells a U.S. diplomat about a fiber optics network installed in Hezbollah-controlled areas. The memo, from the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, said Hamadeh called it "a strategic victory" for Iran's telecoms agency by creating an "an important Iranian outpost in Lebanon" that further binds Hezbollah to Tehran.

Earlier this week, Lebanon's Sunnis staged two days of riots, decrying Shiite Hezbollah for leading what they called an Iran-linked "coup" in bringing down Hariri's government and bringing in one of its own choosing.

Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian-born political analyst based in Israel, said the unrest cannot be ignored by Iran's ruling clerics.

"It was Hezbollah's actions that convinced many Sunnis to pour into the streets ... shouting 'Death to Hezbollah,'" he said. "This is something which Israel, despite its massive military superiority, could never achieve. Food for thought for Iran's senior decision makers."

Iran also was stung by demonstrations in Afghanistan this month over Tehran's decision to temporarily suspend shipments of fuel over suspicions they were aiding NATO forces. Fuel prices shot up as much as 70 percent in impoverished Afghanistan.

It was a display of both Iran's importance as an economic lifeline to Afghanistan and its apparent sympathies for groups fighting U.S. forces and others. Iran has deep cultural and linguistic ties to much of western Afghanistan, which was once part of the Persian Empire.

U.S. officials have alleged that Iran is providing weapons and other support to the Taliban and the so-called "Quetta Shura" - or governing council - believed led by Taliban commander Mullah Omar. It would, however, be an alliance of convenience that could strengthen the same forces that once targeted Iranians.

Iran was a staunch opponent of the Taliban when it ruled Afghanistan before the U.S.-led invasion triggered by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

"In the short-term, Iran is playing its hand well, especially in Lebanon," said analyst Javedanfar. "This will boost Iran's position in the region as well as its leverage in negotiations with the West over its nuclear program. However, the Iranian are not playing the long-term game very well."

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Brian Murphy

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Mideast Unrest Challenges U.S.

by Jay Solomon and Bill Spindle

The Obama administration intensified diplomatic pressure on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to initiate wide-ranging political overhauls, an indication the U.S. is trying to re-channel the spreading anger in the region.

Uprisings in the Middle East have placed the future of some of the U.S.'s closest strategic allies into question, and raised the specter that grass-roots anger at leaders perceived as corrupt and out-of-touch could be seized upon by Islamic radicals hoping to ride the anger to power.

To prevent that outcome, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other senior officials have decided not to seek wholesale political change in Cairo and other Arab capitals, but instead to prod their long-serving political allies into embracing reform movements that, so far, appear to be largely secular and grass-roots in nature.


A succession of rallies and demonstrations, in Egypt, Jordan, Yemen and Algeria have been inspired directly by the popular outpouring of anger that toppled Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

In Lebanon, meanwhile, the ouster of a Western-allied government dealt a blow to U.S. efforts to blunt the influence of Iran and Syria in the region.

U.S. officials have noted that the protests in Egypt this week haven't been dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Egyptian Islamist parties, which are historically hostile to U.S. interests in the region, particularly peace agreements with Israel.

"We believe strongly that the Egyptian government has an important opportunity at this moment in time to implement political, economic, and social reforms to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people," Mrs. Clinton said in scripted comments given at the State Department on Wednesday. "The United States is committed to working with Egypt and with the Egyptian people to advance such goals."

In those remarks, Mrs. Clinton drew from a playbook the U.S. utilized during protests last week in Tunisia that eventually led to the overthrow of the long-serving strongman President Ben Ali.

This strategy has cast the U.S. as formally neutral in the political fighting, and focused on pressing governments to allow for the kinds of freedoms that give strength to the opposition, such as free speech and unhindered access to the Internet.

Mrs. Clinton pressed Cairo not to block Facebook, Twitter and other social-networking websites that activists have used to organize demonstrations.

"We urge the Egyptian authorities not to prevent peaceful protests or block communications, including on social media sites," Mrs. Clinton said alongside the foreign minister of Jordan, a U.S. ally whose government also faced street protests this week.

Egyptian officials took Mrs. Clinton's comments in stride. A senior official from Mr. Mubarak's ruling NDP party said they were "balanced."

The official added that many of the protesters' demands were legitimate, but that there remained concerns that the Muslim Brotherhood could hijack the protest movement.

Mrs. Clinton's comments marked a continuing, and relatively drastic, evolution of the Obama administration's stance on democracy promotion in the Mideast in just a few weeks.

Last year, the administration was criticized by Egyptian opposition leaders for not more aggressively pressing Mr. Mubarak to ensure transparent legislative elections.

Mr. Mubarak's party dominated the polls and the 82-year-old has appeared positioned to either gain another term in office this year or to pass power to an anointed successor. Some Mideast analysts, though, say the protests could be placing this transition in jeopardy.

Then, in a speech this month in the Persian Gulf, Mrs. Clinton slammed Arab leaders for failing to embrace political change.

U.S. officials said Mrs. Clinton's comments were focused on Cairo, which rebuffed repeated U.S. calls for independent political monitors to be allowed to witness the elections.

Still, the Obama administration faces significant risks in taking a more activist line in Egypt and other Arab states.

Mr. Mubarak has been a central player in U.S. efforts to broker peace agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as Israel and other Arab governments. Mrs. Clinton has indicated there would be risks to any change in Cairo's leadership, noting that, "for both our nations, permanent peace in the Middle East remains our No. 1 priority."

Cairo also has been a central player in U.S. efforts to combat al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. U.S. officials still remain wary that the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist organizations could piggy-back on the political turmoil in Egypt and use it to eventually wrest power in Cairo.

These officials note potential parallels to the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, in which secular and leftist parties were gradually purged from political influence by the late Ayatollah Khomenei.

Any major shift in Cairo, similar to Tehran, would have profound impact through the Middle East, as Egypt is the Arab world's most populous nation.

Recent political turmoil in Lebanon also illustrates how democratic systems in the region can challenge U.S. interests.

In Beirut last week, the militant Lebanese militia and political party, Hezbollah, constitutionally toppled the pro-Western government of Saad Hariri and paved the way for the election Tuesday of the party's chosen new prime minister.

Washington has appeared powerless to effect change in Beirut because the political transition was executed through the Lebanese parliament.

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Jay Solomon and Bill Spindle
—Margaret Coker contributed to this article.

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In Egypt, Protests Show Signs of Cohesion

by Sherine Bayoumi and Leila Fadel

The protesters who spilled onto Egypt's streets this week have given the opposition movement here characteristics that it long lacked: spontaneity and roots in many segments of society.

The demonstrations, which continued Wednesday despite a strong police presence and hundreds of arrests, drew experienced activists and those who had never marched before. There were secularists, socialists and Islamists all walking together and demanding change with a unity that for years eluded Egypt's opposition.

The new face of the opposition poses a significant challenge for President Hosni Mubarak, who has imposed sharp limits on his critics during his 30-year rule. Poor health has raised questions about Mubarak's ability to remain in office and prompted speculation that he is grooming his son to succeed him.

Marina Ottaway, director of the Middle East program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, said that there is "a great amount of discontent in Egypt" but that until now it had been "compartmentalized in three different movements" that didn't work together: a labor movement, a pro-democracy political movement and the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group.

"Is there any indication the three groups are beginning to merge [in the demonstrations]? That is the crucial question," she said.

Tuesday's protests were called for by a number of opposition groups through social media, which had drawn only a few dozen or few hundred people when they issued similar calls in the past. This week, only a few hundred people turned up at the start. But the numbers grew quickly, as Egyptians used social networking sites to organize and drew inspiration from the fall of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali this month in nearby Tunisia and, on Wednesday, by images of their own people defying Egypt's repressive police Tuesday.

"The psychological barrier of fear has been broken," said Shadi Hamid, director of research for the Brookings Doha Center. "Eighty million Egyptians saw [Tuesday's protests]. They saw that it's okay to come out and that there is safety in numbers."

Egyptians' anger has been simmering for years in this police state, where opportunities are scarce and the gap between the poor and a small elite is growing. There have been intermittent political protests here for years decrying the repressive regime, food prices and an emergency law that effectively rescinds human rights in the name of national security. But they have drawn just a few hundred young activists at a time or have been organized by the Muslim Brotherhood, which can activate a large grass-roots membership but can also be easily dismissed by the government as Islamist discontent.

Tuesday's demonstrations were the largest in years and, by some estimates, one of the largest anti-government protests in Egypt's history, rivaled in recent memory only by a gathering across the country organized by the banned Muslim Brotherhood in 2005.

Although members of the Islamist group are participating in this week's demonstrations, the Muslim Brotherhood has not organized them. Many among the throngs on the streets of Cairo are college-educated Egyptians in their 20s and 30s, with some older. They gathered Wednesday despite a government ban on demonstrations, screaming, "The demands of the people are for Mubarak to leave!"

"This is more of a leaderless movement," Hamid said. "When police shoot into the crowd, it's not the Brotherhood. It's the Egyptians: people's brothers, sisters, mothers and wives."

Demonstrators' defiance on Tuesday spurred others to join Wednesday. A video showing a young man standing in front of a riot police truck as it sprayed high-pressure streams of water at him circulated on the Internet.

"This was the jihad that I was brought up to believe in, the struggle against evil and corruption," said Ahmed el Masry, 23, who works at a magazine and protested for the first time Wednesday.

There were fewer protesters on the streets Wednesday, after police moved early in the day to crack down on them. The Associated Press reported that 860 people had been arrested since protests began Tuesday morning.

Egyptian authorities blocked access to Facebook and Twitter on Wednesday in a sign of their deepening concern about the demonstrations.

Clashes in Suez, a northeastern port city where violence has been the most intense, wounded 27 people, including police and demonstrators, Egyptian state television reported. Al-Jazeera English reported that six people had been killed since protests began.

Wednesday afternoon, lawyers flooded from the national lawyers' association in downtown Cairo and broke through walls of riot police to spill into the street. They threw rocks and bricks at police who were beating a demonstrator. Dozens of riot police trucks were positioned downtown, and streets leading to Tahrir Square, where more than 15,000 demonstrators were encamped Tuesday night, were blocked.

People climbed down from their apartments, and passersby joined in to call for the "abdication of Mubarak." Thousands of people had gathered in the streets by 3 p.m.

At the foot of the steps of the lawyers' building, hundreds of riot police cordoned off the demonstrators, but still more people joined them. More riot police were brought in, but the people pushed back and broke through.

By 4 p.m., explosions rang out as police raised their batons and released clouds of tear gas, sending people scattering.

"Until now, I had thought that the weakness and disunity of the opposition parties and movements in Egypt was a major barrier to their putting real pressure on the Mubarak regime," said Michele Dunne, editor of the Arab Reform Bulletin, an online journal. " I'm not so sure anymore."

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Sherine Bayoumi and Leila Fadel
Bayoumi is a special correspondent. Fadel reported from Beirut. Janine Zacharia in Cairo and Mary Beth Sheridan in Washington contributed to this report.

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Free Speech on Trial in Europe

by Soeren Kern

The "hate speech" trial of Lars Hedegaard, the president of the Danish Free Press Society and the International Free Press Society, began in a courthouse near Copenhagen on January 24. Hedegaard, who has been charged with "racism" for critical comments he made about Islam, faces up to two years in prison.

Hedegaard's trial, which is similar to recent or current ones in Austria, Finland, France, Italy and the Netherlands, represents a landmark case that will establish the limits of free speech in a country where the politically correct elite routinely seek to silence public discussion about the growing problem of Muslim immigration. The trial also exemplifies the increasing use of lawfare: the malicious use of European courts to silence criticism of Islam.

Hedegaard's legal problems began in December 2009, when he remarked in a taped interview that there was a high incidence of child rape and domestic violence in areas dominated by Muslim culture. Although Hedegaard has insisted that he did not intend to accuse all Muslims or even the majority of Muslims of such crimes, Denmark's thought police have refused to drop the case.

Instead, the Danish public prosecutor's office says Hedegaard is guilty of violating Article 266b of the Danish penal code, which states: "Whoever publicly or with the intent of public dissemination issues a pronouncement or other communication by which a group of persons are threatened, insulted or denigrated due to their race, skin colour, national or ethnic origin, religion or sexual orientation is liable to a fine or incarceration for up to two years."

The Hedegaard trial is the second one in Denmark involving Islam-related "hate speech" in as many months. On December 3, 2010, a Danish court found Jesper Langballe, a Danish politician and Member of Parliament, guilty of hate speech for saying that honor killings and sexual abuse take place in Muslim families.

Langballe was denied the opportunity to prove his allegations because, under Danish law, it is immaterial whether a statement is true or false. All that is needed for a conviction is for someone to feel offended. Langballe was summarily sentenced to pay a fine of 5,000 Danish Krone (approximately $1,000) or spend ten days in jail.

The two trials in Denmark are similar to the one against Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff in Austria, which resumed on January 18 following a two-month suspension in the hearings. Sabaditsch-Wolff, who has been charged with "incitement of hatred" and "denigrating religious teachings" after giving a series of seminars about the dangers of radical Islam, faces a possible three year prison sentence.

Sabaditsch-Wolff's legal problems began in November 2009, when she presented a three-part seminar about Islam to the Freedom Education Institute, a political academy linked to the Austrian Freedom Party. A glossy left-wing magazine, NEWS -- all in capital letters -- planted a journalist in the audience to secretly record the first two lectures. Lawyers for the socialist publication then handed the transcripts over to the Viennese public prosecutor's office as evidence of hate speech against Islam. Formal charges against Sabaditsch-Wolff were filed in September 2010; and her bench trial, presided on by one judge and no jury, began November 23.

On the first day of the trial, however, it quickly became clear that the case against Sabaditsch-Wolff was not as air-tight as prosecutors had made it out to be. The judge pointed out, for example, that only 30 minutes of the first seminar had actually been recorded. He also noted that some of the statements attributed to Sabaditsch-Wolff were offhand comments made during breaks and not a formal part of the seminar. Moreover, only a few people heard these comments, not 30 or more -- the criterion under Austrian law for a statement being "public." In any event, Sabaditsch-Wolff says her comments were not made in a public forum because the seminars were held for a select group of people who had registered beforehand.

More importantly, many of the statements attributed to Sabaditsch-Wolff were actually quotes she made directly from the Koran and other Islamic religious texts. Fearing that the trial would end in a mistrial, the judge abruptly suspended hearings until January 18, ostensibly to give him time to review the tape recordings, but also to give the prosecution more time to shore up its case.

Sabaditsch-Wolff is not the only Austrian to run afoul of the country's anti-free speech laws. In January 2009, Susanne Winter, an Austrian politician and Member of Parliament, was convicted for the "crime" of saying that "in today's system" the Islamic Prophet Muhammad would be considered a "child molester," referring to his marriage at the age of 56 to a six-year-old girl. Winter was also convicted of "incitement" for saying that Austria faces an "Islamic immigration tsunami." Winters was ordered to pay a fine of €24,000 ($31,000), and received a suspended three-month prison sentence.

Similar free speech cases involving Islam are blazing across Europe.

In Finland, for example, Jussi Kristian Halla-aho, a politician and well-known political commentator, was taken to court in March 2009 on charges of "incitement against an ethnic group" and "breach of the sanctity of religion" for saying that Islam is a religion of paedophilia. A Helsinki court later dropped the charges of blasphemy but ordered Halla-aho to pay a fine of €330 ($450) for disturbing religious worship. The Finnish public prosecutor, incensed at the lower court's dismissal of the blasphemy charges, appealed the case to the Finnish Supreme Court, where it is now being reviewed.

In France, novelist Michel Houellebecq was taken to court by Islamic authorities in the French cities of Paris and Lyon for calling Islam "the stupidest religion," and for saying the Koran is "badly written." In court, Houellebecq (pronounced Wellbeck) told the judges that although he had never despised Muslims, he did feel contempt for Islam. He was acquitted in October 2002.

Also in France, Brigitte Bardot, the legendary actress turned animal rights crusader, was convicted in June 2008 for "inciting racial hatred" after demanding that Muslims anaesthetize animals before slaughtering them. Bardot's lawyers said her passionate denunciation of the ritual slaughter of Eid al-Adha had been misinterpreted as an attack on Islam in France. Her conviction has not deterred Bardot, who says thousands of tons of Islamically slaughtered halal meat is entering France's general food chain, where it is being unwittingly consumed by the country's non-Muslim population.

In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders, a Dutch politician and Member of Parliament, faces five charges of inciting racial and religious hatred for criticizing Islam. His first trial was abruptly terminated in October 2010 after it emerged that one of the judges presiding over the trial tried to influence an expert witness to testify against Wilders. In that case, a hastily convened judicial panel agreed with Wilders that the judges were biased against him, and ordered a retrial -- sending the closely watched case back to square one before an entirely new panel of judges. Wilders, who called the trial a farce, a disgrace, and an assault on free speech, welcomed the decision, saying: "This gives me a new chance with a new fair trial."

Also in the Netherlands, Gregorius Nekschot, the pseudonym of a Dutch cartoonist who is a vocal critic of Islamic female circumcision and often mocks Dutch multiculturalism, was arrested at his home in Amsterdam in May 2008 for drawing cartoons deemed offensive to Muslims. Nekschot (which literally means "shot in the neck," a method used, according to the cartoonist, by "fascists and communists to get rid of their opponents") was released after 30 hours of interrogation by Dutch law enforcement officials.

Nekschot is expected to be prosecuted for eight cartoons that "attribute negative qualities to certain groups of people," and, as such, are insulting and constitute the crimes of discrimination and hate according to articles 137c and 137d of the Dutch Penal Code. In an interview with the Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant, Nekschot said it was the first time in 800 years of the history of satire in the Netherlands that an artist was put in jail. (That interview has since been removed from the newspaper's website.)

In Italy, the late Oriana Fallaci, a journalist and author, was taken to court for writing that Islam "brings hate instead of love and slavery instead of freedom." In November 2002, a judge in Switzerland, acting on a lawsuit brought by Islamic Center of Geneva, issued an arrest warrant for Fallaci for violations of Article 261 of the Swiss criminal code; the judge asked the Italian government either to prosecute or extradite her. The Italian Justice Ministry rejected this request on the grounds that the Italian Constitution protects freedom of speech.

But in May 2005, the Union of Islamic Communities in Italy (UCOII), linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, filed a lawsuit against Fallaci, charging that "some of the things she said in her book 'The Force of Reason' are offensive to Islam." An Italian judge ordered Fallaci to stand trial in Bergamo on charges of "defaming Islam." Fallaci died of cancer in September 2006, just months after the start of her trial.

Back in Denmark, Hedegaard says the International Free Press Society is a single issue organization: "We have no other objective than free speech. That is what has kept us together and allowed us to rally people with all manner of political persuasions, programs, religions, and outlooks on life."

He also says: "We have made no bones about the fact that we consider Islam -- as it is presently being preached by all influential clerics and ideologues -- a deadly threat to all our freedoms, among which are freedom of expression. For this consistent stance we have been vilified and called every name in the book, but we will not budge."

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Soeren Kern

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Al-Jazeera Against Fatah, Abbas

by Hillel Fendel

A position paper by a senior policy analyst at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs states that leaks of Israel-PA talks by Al-Jazeera are designed to harm the PA and block resumption of talks with Israel.

Pinhas Inbari, a veteran Palestinian Authority affairs correspondent and the author of books such as “The Palestinians: Between Terrorism and Statehood,” writes that Al-Jazeera has an agenda to de-legitimize the PA in the eyes of its residents and the Arab world.

Over the past week or so, the Qatar-based Arabic-language satellite TV station and international news network has been publishing documents leaked to it from the PLO Negotiations Support Unit – causing great damage to the PA negotiators. “Now, after Al-Jazeera has brainwashed Arab minds with charges of PLO treason,” Inbari writes, “no declaration of statehood can be expected. Neither will there be a resumption of negotiations with Israel since the Palestinian team will stick to the most hard-line positions possible.”

The leaked documents indicate that the PLO negotiators and leadership conceded to Israel on three main points: The relatively small number of Arab “refugees” to be allowed to enter Israel; allowing Israel to keep most Jewish neighborhoods in what is known as eastern Jerusalem; and collaborating with Israel in fighting Hamas terrorists.

According to the leaked documents, Inbari writes, the PLO negotiating team “relinquished all Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem except for Har Homa - including Ramot Shlomo, the Jewish neighborhood that sparked the crisis between Israel and the U.S., and Sheikh Jarrah, now a location for demonstrations by international supporters of the Palestinian cause.”

The papers also quote PA chief Mahmoud Abbas in an internal briefing to PA officials as saying, "We cannot demand the return of millions, as this will end Israel."

Inbari indicates that Al-Jazeera purposely overlooks the firmness with which the PA adhered to some of its positions. For instance, the PLO team "was adamant in refusing to agree to Israeli demands to keep the settlement blocs. For example, the Palestinians demanded the dismantling of the city of Ariel (pop. 17,559), and they were ready to consider leaving Israelis living in Ma'ale Adumim (pop. 34,324) only if the Jewish city adjacent to Jerusalem was under Palestinian sovereignty.” He also raises the possibility that some of the leaked documents are simply forgeries.

In response to the Al-Jazeera campaign against Abbas and his Fatah organization, Fatah gunmen attacked Al-Jazeera studios in Shechem (Nablus) on Wednesday. They damaged equipment, though no one was hurt.

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Hillel Fendel

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'Lebanon Burns; America Snores'

by Rick Moran

Barry Rubin's got that right. The reaction of the United States and other western countries to this coup by Hezb'allah is far too sanguine. A mild threat to cut off aid (by an unnamed diplomat) plus Secretary Clinton's low key, almost ho hum response yesterday to the ascension of a Hezb'allah/Syrian/Iranian proxy to the prime ministership just doesn't cut it.

These are gangsters we are dealing with. There simply is no other way to describe their modus operandi. Dr. Barry Rubin of the Gloria Center explains:

Fareed Zakaria, the wildly overrated American pundit, has invented a new term, referring to Hizballah as "a quasi-terrorist group." What does this mean? It means that Hizballah runs in elections but then if it doesn't get its way it kills people.

This is exactly what happened. The March 14th forces friendly to the west clearly won the parliamentary elections last summer, winning a clear majority of seats. But through threats and intimidation, Hezb'allah was able to 1) engineer a scenario where they were able to dictate to the majority the number of ministers they should have in the cabinet (enough to bring the government down whenever they felt like it), and 2) carry out a coup by threatening the lives of just enough members of the majority coalition to force them to go along with their choice for new prime minister.

Classic gangsterism, worthy of Capone, Lansky, or Gotti. Rubin goes on:

Of course, Hizballah is not going to convert Lebanon into an Islamist republic. Why start a civil war with the Christians and Sunni Muslims. Just leave them alone in their territorial enclaves. But the Islamists and their partners will control the apparatus of state, foreign policy, and all the key decisions.

How did the leading Arab newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat describe the situation? By saying that Iran will now control Lebanon.

The French government has accepted, even endorsed, this outcome.

What do you think the rest of the region is going to take away from this? America cannot or will not protect you.Islamism and Iran are the wave of the future. Submit or die. And that's even before Tehran gets nuclear weapons. The way things are going, maybe Iran doesn't even need them.

And where is the United States? Asleep. Determined to prove that it doesn't throw its weight around, rationalizing a terrible defeat as insignificant, it hasn't even taken a stance. Now it's too late.

Last year, the United States and Europe accepted the secure establishment of a revolutionary Islamist state that is a client of Iran and Syria on the Mediterranean. This may be the year of seeing a second such state come into existence. Of course, the situation in Lebanon will be far more subtle and nuanced but in strategic terms it amounts to something very similar.

An interesting discussion of Lebanon on my radio show last night with AT's Rich Baehr, Tony Badran of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and Tom Harb, Secretary General of the World Council of the Cedar Revolution.

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Rick Moran

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WaPo Portrays pro-Palestinian Hired Gun as Objective Analyst

by Leo Rennert

In a Jan. 25 article in the Washington Post, Jerusalem correspondent Janine Zacharia quotes Ed Abington, a former U.S. diplomat, as saying that Al-Jazeera's trove of leaked Palestinian documents show Palestinian negotiators conceding more and more "while gaining absolutely nothing from Israeli negotiators." ("Al-Jazeera angers Palestinians -- Release of peace-talk memos a 'huge blow' to leadership in negotiations with Israel" page A11.)

Zacharia identifies Abington as a former U.S. consul general in Jerusalem and longtime American diplomat. She also relies on him for her own summation that Palestinians now are going to perceive their leaders as abandoning core Palestinian positions "in exchange for little from Israel."

Abington, however, isn't just a dispassionate observer, as Zacharia depicts him. After his stint as U.S. consul in Jerusalem, he signed on as political counsel for the Palestinian Authority and presumably got handsomely compensated for his services.

When he asserts that Palestinian negotiators got "absolutely nothing" from Israel, he's speaking as a pro-Palestinian propagandist -- an essential part of Abington's bio that Zacharia hides from Post readers.

Her failure to disclose Zacharia's [Abington's] PA job is doubly disturbing. Not only does she represent Abington under false colors, but she relies on him for a demonstrable lie -- that Israel, in negotiations with the Palestinians, offered no compromises and concessions.

The record totally refutes such Palestinian propaganda. Whether at Camp David in 2000 or in negotiations with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008, the Palestinians got plenty from Israel. In the latter talks, Israel offered Mahmoud Abbas all of Gaza, 95 percent of the West Bank, with land swaps to make it 100 percent, a corridor link between the West Bank and Gaza, all Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem, a big chunk of Jerusalem's Old City, and an international consortium, including Saudi Arabia, to take over administration of Jerusalem's holy sites. Just imagine: Israel willing to have Saudi Arabia help administer Temple Mount and the Western Wall, Judaism's most sacred sites.

This generous Israeli offer, which still didn't satisfy Abbas, ain't exactly chopped liver, or "absolutely nothing," as Zacharia avers by quoting Abington without mentioning his paid Palestinian connection.

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Leo Rennert

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Will Obama Repeat Carter's U.N. Mistake on Israel?

by Benyamin Korn

An anti-Israel resolution, coming up before the United Nations Security Council. A Democratic president in a quandary over what position to take. Cracks appearing in the Jewish community's traditional Democratic leanings, just as the campaign season heats up.

Sounds like Barack Obama's latest foreign policy conundrum?

Try Jimmy Carter in the spring of 1980.

Carter's decision had fateful consequences for his reelection campaign. Obama's may, too.

On Saturday, March 1, 1980, Carter's ambassador at the United Nations, Donald McHenry, cast America's vote in favor of U.N. Security Council resolution 456. The text contained the familiar litany of absurd and one-sided charges against Israeli actions in what the resolution repeatedly called "the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem."

The inclusion of Jerusalem was the kicker. While the Carter administration had never accepted Israel's unification and annexation of Jerusalem in 1967, neither had the U.S. ever agreed with the Arab and U.N. position that the city should be considered "occupied Arab territory."

Jerusalem, which has been the capital of the Jewish people for some three thousand years and is the location of Judaism's holiest sites, is a hot-button issue for American Jews. Jewish leaders and congressional supporters of Israel vigorously denounced the administration's vote.

Carter's advisers belatedly remembered that the Florida primary was just one week away, with the New York primary to follow two weeks after. Challenger Ted Kennedy would now be well-positioned to compete for the sizeable Jewish vote in both states. By Monday night, in what the New York Times described as "an extraordinary statement," the White House announced that McHenry actually had been instructed to vote against the resolution. The mistake was due to "a failure of communication" between him and Washington, administration spokesmen claimed.

Israel's American supporters were not impressed. "Carter, You're the Mistake" read a sign at a protest rally outside Carter's reelection headquarters in Manhattan. Liberal Democrat Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman declared that she did not believe Carter's explanation. Mayor Ed Koch, often a bellwether of American Jewish opinion, accused Carter of surrounding himself with an "anti-Israel 'gang of four.'" In the days leading up to the New York primary, Jewish protests intensified. "Jews Aroused at Fever Pitch As UN Goof Protests Escalate," a headline in the National Jewish Post & Opinion, out of Indianapolis, declared.

At that point, Senator Kennedy had lost most of the early primaries to Carter, and Kennedy's campaign seemed to be on its last legs. But the U.N. vote gave Kennedy's candidacy new life. With heavy Jewish support, Kennedy shellacked Carter in New York, 59% to 41%. The reinvigorated challenger fought Carter all the way to the convention floor, badly wounding the president along the way.

That was the beginning of American Jewry's abandonment of Carter, which culminated in November, when Carter lost, as nearly two-thirds of Jewish voters deserted him. The 40% of Jewish votes Carter received (Reagan won 40%, with John Anderson taking 20%) represented the lowest share of the Jewish vote won by any Democratic candidate since James Cox ran against Warren Harding in 1920.

Could Barack Obama be heading down the same road?

Like Carter, Obama's Israel policy during his first two years in office has been marked by intense, one-sided pressure on the Jewish State. His support amongst American Jews -- many of whom said earlier this year they were having "buyer's remorse" over having voted for him -- has clearly eroded. (Among Israelis, too -- in one poll last year, only 4% of Israelis approved of Obama's Mideast policies.) The president and his advisers belatedly undertook, and have sustained, a relentless "charm offensive" towards Jewish leaders and voters, saying nice things about Israel in public while keeping up intense pressure in private.

This strategy has helped to reduce, at least temporarily, the level of Jewish voter angst with Obama. The upcoming U.N. vote, however, is thrusting Obama's Israel problem back into the limelight. A vote in favor of the resolution, or a U.S. abstention that would permit the resolution to pass, would likely be seen as a return to last year's Obama policy on Israel. And that could well reignite a Jewish desertion of Obama comparable to 1980 -- which, in a similarly close 2012 election, could well be decided in the condominiums of Florida, the salons of Hollywood, the suburbs of Pennsylvania, the streets of New York, and the precincts of New Jersey.

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Benyamin Korn, former executive editor of the Jewish Exponent, is director of Jewish Americans for Sarah Palin and

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Decision in Denmark

by Lars Hedegaard

[FrontPage Editor's note: Lars Hedegaard, a Danish critic of Islam, is on trial in Denmark for remarks he made regarding dysfunctions and abuse within Islamic family culture. Under Denmark's law 266b dealing with alleged hate speech, defendants are not allowed to prove the truth of their comments and all that is needed for conviction is whether any one person feels offended. Below are his final words in the Court of Frederiksberg on January 24, 2011.]

My counsel has instructed me that in cases brought under Article 266b, the only thing that determines whether one is convicted or not is a matter of the perceived insult whereas one is barred from proving the truth of the statement.

The article deals with public statements whereby a group of people are “threatened, insulted or degraded”. But as my lawyer has already noted, I have made no public statement.

When it comes to Article 266b, there is no equality before the law. I am daily insulted and degraded by something I read or hear and I am sure that most people have the same experience.

For example, I am not only insulted and degraded and threatened, but shaken to the core of my being when I hear a well known Danish imam state that, of course, sharia law – Muslim law – will be instituted as Denmark’s official legal regime when there are a sufficient number of Muslims. I strongly urge our country’s jurists to get acquainted with the implications of the sharia, not only for Muslims but equally for non-Muslims, who – if they are lucky – will be reduced to a life as subhuman outlaws. And if one cannot be bothered with tedious dissertations, one may take a look at the legal order pertaining in areas where the sharia holds sway either de jure or de facto. One will then encounter a legal order the like of which we have not known since the passing of the Law of Jutland in 1241 and probably not before.

But the imam wants this disorder introduced in the country where I was born. And I must admit that I am troubled. I am also troubled when said imam defends the killing of Muslims who have left Islam and when he confirms that women and men guilty of fornication must be pelt with stones until they are dead. He thinks that is God’s commandment, which he cannot ignore.

Should I go to the police and tell them how threatened, insulted and degraded I feel? I wouldn’t dream of it for I support free speech. And if free speech has any real meaning, it must also – and in particular – protect statements people do not want to hear. Regardless of how revolting such statements may be.

Besides it would be futile to report the imam and those similarly disposed to the police for the public prosecutor would never indict them. Otherwise it would have happened long ago.

As jurisprudence shows, not only in Denmark but in all European countries with similar insult articles in their penal code, these insult articles open the gates to inequality before the law. There are insulted who enjoy the tender graces of the public prosecutor, and there are the less favoured who must endure insults directed at them.

But perhaps this is to do with the notion that one must not insult minorities whereas minorities are free to insult majorities? If that is the explanation of why I am in court today, it is a peculiar one. In 2002, the imam I have already mentioned explained to his flock that all Muslims in the world – 1,6 billion or whatever the number is – constitute one people, one umma. The same thing is emphasized by the Islamic Conference Organization, OIC, encompassing 57 member countries. In other words, the five million non-Muslim Danes are a microscopic minority but nevertheless a minority whose members stand to be punished if they make statements on cultural norms in the umma.

What does the public prosecutor hope to accomplish by my conviction? He may drag me in front of a court. He may portray me as a racist, a right-wing extremist and a non-human. He may do the same to hundreds and thousands of others who insist on their right of free speech to describe Islam and Muslim culture just like we would deal with any other phenomenon in a free society.

But what will he have gained? Does the public prosecutor believe that people will start talking about Islam and Muslim culture with greater respect and reverence? Perhaps in public because people fear fines and jail. But what will people say to each other when they think that the thought police are not listening?

And what does the public prosecutor imagine people will think of a religion, a political ideology and a culture that need the protection of legislators, police, the public prosecutor and the courts because they cannot defend themselves in a free and open debate?

In 1644, when the English parliament considered the institution of religious censorship, that Christian defender of free speech John Milton wrote: “There is yet behind of what I purpos’d to lay open, the incredible losse, and detriment that this plot of licencing puts us to, more then if som enemy at sea should stop up all our hav’ns and ports, and creeks, it hinders and retards the importation of our richest Marchandize, Truth.”

But perhaps this is to do with the notion that one must not insult minorities whereas minorities are free to insult majorities? If that is the explanation of why I am in court today, it is a peculiar one. In 2002, the imam I have already mentioned explained to his flock that all Muslims in the world – 1,6 billion or whatever the number is – constitute one people, one umma. The same thing is emphasized by the Islamic Conference Organization, OIC, encompassing 57 member countries. In other words, the five million non-Muslim Danes are a microscopic minority but nevertheless a minority whose members stand to be punished if they make statements on cultural norms in the umma.

What does the public prosecutor hope to accomplish by my conviction? He may drag me in front of a court. He may portray me as a racist, a right-wing extremist and a non-human. He may do the same to hundreds and thousands of others who insist on their right of free speech to describe Islam and Muslim culture just like we would deal with any other phenomenon in a free society.

But what will he have gained? Does the public prosecutor believe that people will start talking about Islam and Muslim culture with greater respect and reverence? Perhaps in public because people fear fines and jail. But what will people say to each other when they think that the thought police are not listening?

And what does the public prosecutor imagine people will think of a religion, a political ideology and a culture that need the protection of legislators, police, the public prosecutor and the courts because they cannot defend themselves in a free and open debate?

In 1644, when the English parliament considered the institution of religious censorship, that Christian defender of free speech John Milton wrote: “There is yet behind of what I purpos’d to lay open, the incredible losse, and detriment that this plot of licencing puts us to, more then if som enemy at sea should stop up all our hav’ns and ports, and creeks, it hinders and retards the importation of our richest Marchandize, Truth.”

And further:

“There be who perpetually complain of schisms and sects, and make it such a calamity that any man dissents from their maxims. ‘Tis their own pride and ignorance which causes the disturbing, who neither will hear with meeknes, nor can convince, yet all must be suppresst which is not found in their Syntagma.”

Milton concluded with this exhortation:

“Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.”

In conclusion permit me to mention the true victims in this case. The public prosecutor has not considered the 20,000 women in the Muslim world who every year fall victim to so-called honor killings, or the 50,000 Muslim girls in Germany who the federal police consider threatened with genital mutilation, nor the hundreds of thousands of little girls in Muslim majority societies who have been sold into marriage with much older men and who must therefore live a life of constant rape, while Islamic scholars preach that this is in complete accordance with religious orthodoxy.

I hope that the judge as opposed to the public prosecutor will consider the fate of these unfortunate human beings. Likewise I hope that the judge will realize the absurdity of prosecuting me for statements made within the confines of my own four walls. For ten months the prosecutor has been aware of the conditions under which I spoke. That has not affected him in the slightest. I hope it will affect the judge.

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Lars Hedegaard
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Venezuela: To Celebrate Free Expression, Chavez Shuts Down Media

by Anna Mahjar-Barducci

In Venezuela, a popular Colombian-produced soap opera, Chepe Fortuna, has been taken off the air: its script allegedly contains derogatory material against President Hugo Chavez. The Venezuelan government intimidated the local TV broadcaster Televen into not showing the series.

This popular TV show was aired in prime time and contained a comical character named "Venezuela," a talkative and highly emotional secretary, who owns a dog called Huguito (Little Hugo). Any reference to the Venezuelan dictator is not accidental. The script of that soap opera used these names to create sentences with double meanings: in one episode, the character "Venezuela" loses her dog "Little Hugo" and, while crying on the phone, she asks a friend what will become of her without "Little Hugo." His response was: "You will be free, Venezuela...Hugo is messing up everything in the house...he is making you look bad."

Another important character in the TV show was Venezuela's sister, Colombia. The two sisters have a tense relationship. Colombia is a good-natured woman, full of virtues, whereas Venezuela is at times unbearable. To complete the picture, Venezuela is pregnant with a boy whom she intends to name Fidelito (little Fidel). "Oh! What a lack of respect for Venezuela! How terrible that soap opera is!" thundered Chavez, and immediately asked that the series be removed from the air. In a discussion on Chepe Fortuna, the Venezuela's National Telecommunications Commission added that the series was a blatant effort to "demoralize" the people of the country. "After careful analysis, we found that these contents promoted political and racial intolerance, xenophobia and incitement of crime," the statement concluded.

EloĆ­sa Infante, producer and co-script writer of Chepe Fortuna, said that she was very disappointed that her work, which had as only aim to " amuse people," had been censored from Venezuelan television. She acknowledged that her scripts had some political connotations, but said she thinks that "as writers we need freedom. I do not think that Hugo Chavez cares about it, a country like Venezuela should have more important things to take care of [than a TV show]."

Dictators do not like satire except for their opponents. Ever since his ascent to power, Chavez has not missed any opportunity to silence whomever did not align with him. Last March, Guillermo Zuloaga, the owner of Globovision, an influential anti-government channel, was briefly arrested, then released, pending investigation, by Venezuelan military intelligence. The "crime" of Zuloaga, now at large, was to have made remarks "offensive to the President," saying that Chavez was suppressing free speech. In June, Venezuela placed a request with Interpol for an international warrant for Zuloaga's arrest.

In a sense, there is something ironic in Chavez more than in the little dog, Huguito: to prove that Venezuela enjoys fully fledged freedom of expression, Chavez finds nothing better than to censor and ban unfriendly TV channels and imprison political opponents. There is so much freedom in Venezuelan media that, on January 2010, at least six cable channels were taken off the air; and, in 2009, Chavez closed 32 privately-owned radio stations and threatened the closure of more than 200 others.

Last December, the Venezuela's National Assembly approved draconian regulations on the internet and telecommunications, giving more power to the government to regulate the sector. Further, the law seems aimed at forcing Globovision off the air, as well,

The Miami, Florida-based Inter-American Press Association has condemned the move. "With the new rules for the Internet, among fines for service providers and the requirement that users not write anonymously or touch on issues that the government might not like, we are witnessing a deep and generalized censorship of news content and personal communications which goes against journalists' and media's right to publish, and amounts to contempt of the public's right to communicate freely," said IAPA President Gonzalo Marroquin.

The banning of Chepe Furtuna is just one of the many symptoms of the Venezuelan political deterioration. The country has been taken hostage by an autocratic regime that leaves no space for freedom of expression and axes anything that can even remotely be considered a threat for the Venezuelan satrap.

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Anna Mahjar-Barducci

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Bewitched Animals and the Muslim Media

by Raymond Ibrahim

Because conspiracy theories emanating from the Muslim world are nothing new—a decade ago, Israel was accused of perpetrating the strikes of 9/11, today it is accused of perpetrating the bombings of a Coptic church—they tend to be dismissed in the West.

A close examination of these theories, however, reveals pathological trends that need to be acknowledged—especially by Western leaders who stubbornly interact with the Muslim world under the assumption that all Muslims "think just like us."

Consider, for starters, those conspiracy theories dealing with subversive animals:

As the reader mulls over the plausibility of these charges, here is the latest example, from just last month. According to released Gitmo inmate Walid Muhammad Hajj, the Jews at the base cast "spells" on the Muslim inmates—including through the use of bewitched birds and a phantom feline that tried to sodomize Walid:

The most common method to wear down the brothers [Muslim inmates] was witchcraft…. There were, of course, Jews among the [staff of] the Guantanamo Base, and they would set traps for the guys…. I remembered an incident with a guy who sat next to me in the morning. When they brought the milk, he began to urinate into the milk. I said to him: "Why are you urinating in the milk?" That's when we knew that he was under a spell. After he had recovered a little, after we read Koranic verses to him, he said to me: "The birds on the barbed wire would talk to me, and tell me to urinate in the milk"…. Once, when I was sleeping—on the floor, not on a bed—I suddenly felt that a cat was trying to penetrate me. It tried to penetrate me again and again. I recited the kursi verse again and again [Koran 2:255] until the cat left.

Considering that the Koran depicts talking ants and birds, vouches for the power of sorcery, and has an entire chapter dedicated to the Jinn (Sura 72); that Hamas arrested 150 "witches" in Gaza last year; that Islam's prophet Muhammad decreed that black dogs must die, "for they are devils"; that there is a fatwa to kill Mickey Mouse (a cartoon character), since rodents are "corrupters, steered by Satan"—considering all this, it should come as no surprise that animals are being portrayed as infidel operatives.

Rather, the surprise lies in who is making and disseminating these stories. After all, conspiracy theories are not the sole domain of the Muslim world; the West has its share of crackpot theories. Yet, they are not in the mainstream. Conversely, far from coming from a marginalized periphery, all of the aforementioned animal accusations were either made or disseminated by "authoritative" sources in the Muslim world: Spying squirrels, Iranian state-sponsored news; rampaging rats and pigs, Mahmoud Abbas' Palestinian Authority media; tourism-destroying shark, an Egyptian official; spying vulture awaiting Sharia justice, Saudi media.

Consider the most recent example of Gitmo witchery. The problem is not that one Walid Muhammad Hajj believes this, but that Al Jazeera—by far, the highest rated news network in the Arab world—aired it on prime time. That the suit-and-tie host was very sympathetic, never once casting doubt on Hajj's narrative, speaks volumes. (Incidentally, this Gitmo story was aired on the same show that earlier provided Muhammad al-Awwa a platform to incite Egypt's Muslims against its Christian minority—thereby contributing to the latest slaughter of Copts in Egypt on New Year's Eve.)

The point here is simple: if the media—especially news and current affairs programs—reflect the concerns of their society, imagine if a prime-time CNN program hosted someone who earnestly accused people of witchcraft, talking birds, and rapist cats—all to a sincerely concerned host. What would that suggest about the American mindset?

What does it suggest about the Muslim mindset?

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Raymond Ibrahim is associate director of the Middle East Forum, author of The Al Qaeda Reader, and guest lecturer at the National Defense Intelligence College.
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The Kevin Bacon of American Jihad

by Adam Turner

Revolution Muslim, a U.S.-based radical Islamic jihadist organization, has become the Kevin Bacon of Islamic fundamentalism. Whenever jihadist groups threaten free speech in America or Europe, you can bet an associate of Revolution Muslim is somehow involved.

During an 18-month period, eight of the 27 reported cases of homegrown terrorism saw U.S. terror suspects frequenting, blogging on, or directly linked to Revolution Muslim or a related group. The group's website was originally at When their service provider shut them down on November 5, 2010, they reconstituted at To date, the threats that have emanated from the Revolution Muslim websites have never been adequately legally addressed by the U.S.

Revolution Muslim's influence is most visible in three recent incidents where Islamic extremists threatened the free speech of artists, politicians, and even private citizens:

The "South Park" Incident

On April 15, 2010, Comedy Central aired the first of a two-part South Park episode featuring a character in a bear suit identified as the Islamic Prophet Mohammed. Zachary Chesser of Virginia, a member of Revolution Muslim, posted on the group's website that South Park's creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, had "outright insulted" Islam's religious leader. He continued:

We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh for airing this show. This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them.

He also called for his supporters to "pay [Parker and Stone] a visit" and posted the addresses of Comedy Central's New York office, Parker and Stone's California production office, and a link to an article detailing Parker and Stone's home in Colorado.

In the following days, Chesser posted numerous additional comments and uploaded several videos and recordings, including one by Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Islamist cleric currently hiding in Yemen, which further justified the murder of Parker and Stone. Panicking, Comedy Central censored part two of the episode by bleeping out language, including its criticism of censorship, a speech against intimidation, and every use of the name "Mohammed."

Nevertheless, this rather obvious threat was not prosecuted by state or local law enforcement officials. NYC Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said authorities didn't think it "rises to a crime right now."

Months later, on July 21, 2010, Chesser was arrested on independent charges for trying to board a plane to Somalia to join al-Shabaab, a brutal terrorist organization with ties to al-Qaeda. It was only months after that, on the eve of a plea agreement, that he was finally charged for making internet threats against Parker and Stone in violation of 18 U.S.C. 875(c). On October 20, 2010, Chesser pleaded guilty to a three-count criminal indictment.

The Molly Norris Incident

On April 20, 2010, partly in response to Comedy Central's self-censorship, Seattle Weekly cartoonist Molly Norris proposed an "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day (EDMD)." Her point? Freedom implies the right to criticize and caricature, and this freedom was now in jeopardy because a minority of Muslims believe the majority of non-Muslims can be easily intimidated.

Her idea caught on and pretty soon there was a Facebook page devoted to EDMD which over a hundred thousand people joined. That is when Anwar al-Awlaki issued a fatwa calling for Norris to be murdered. This fatwa prompted Zachary Chesser to gather personal information on at least eleven Facebook friends of EDMD and to post it on Revolution Muslim's website in a comment thread that also contained videos and discussion justifying punishing anyone who insults Mohammed.

Chesser characterized the information he provided as "just a place to start." According to federal prosecutors, the lives of the private citizens and Facebook users Chesser identified as EDMD supporters "will remain at risk for many years to come." Frightened by the threats, Molly Norris recanted and disavowed EDMD, but it was too late. On September 15, 2010, the Seattle Weekly informed its readers:

You may have noticed that Molly Norris' comic is not in the paper this week. That's because there is no more Molly. The gifted artist is alive and well, thankfully. But on the insistence of top security specialists at the FBI, she is, as they put it, "going ghost": moving, changing her name, and essentially wiping away her identity….

The Choudhry Incident

On May 14, 2010, Roshonara Choudhry, a British prize-winning student at King's College, London, stabbed former British MP Stephen Timms in London because he supported the Iraq war.

In interviews immediately following her arrest, Choudhry told police she resolved to strike Timms after viewing over 100 hours of video sermons given by radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, which she had found posted on Revolution Muslim and other websites. She began listening to the sermons in November 2009, and completed them just days before she carried out her attack.

After her attack, members of Revolution Muslim published praise of Ms. Choudhry as a "heroine" and expressed the hope "for her action to inspire Muslims to raise the knife of jihad against those who voted for the countless rapes, murders, pillages and torture of Muslim civilians as a direct consequence of their vote." The organization also posted a list of 383 British lawmakers who voted for the Iraqi war, accompanied by instructions on how to track these lawmakers' movements, as well as a link for buying a kitchen knife.

The British government demanded the website be taken down and on November 5, 2010, Revolution Muslim's website closed. Shortly thereafter the website resurfaced as

To defend free speech rights from intimidation by the likes of Revolution Muslim, the Legal Project has proposed the Defend Expression from Islamists (DEFI) Act. This legislation would make it a federal crime to threaten or use force against individuals exercising free speech rights.

A federal statute is both necessary and proper. Islamic radicalism is a national concern. Frequently, when Islamists threaten Americans they do so over the internet and from another state or country. At the same time, existing state laws are inadequate. The heightened standard of proof deters local prosecutors from investing scarce resources, explicit grounds for a civil suit do not always exist, and damages can be difficult to quantify.

Perhaps the most significant aspect of DEFI — which is lacking in criminal statues like 18 U.S.C. 875(c) — is that it empowers victims of Islamist threats to sue for damages. This provision transforms them from passive victims into private attorneys general to defend their rights in a setting with a lower burden of proof and preset damages.

One law, by itself, won't entirely halt groups like Revolution Muslim from threatening free speech. But it is about time we did something tangible to punish them for their threats. When Comedy Central was intimidated into censoring itself on American television, the federal government did nothing. When Molly Norris was forced to go ghost, the federal government did not pick up the tab. And when the Revolution Muslim jihadists inspired a British Muslim to attempt to assassinate a member of the British Parliament, and then threatened the lives of other British legislators, the federal government's sole response was allegedly pressuring Google to shutter the site.

Revolution Muslim simply changed its website name and migrated to another server, without any legal consequences for the true threats it made. This kind of appeasement should end, now.

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Adam Turner is a former counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee for national security issues and is currently staff counsel for The Legal Project

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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