Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Copts Protest over Egyptian Killings

Copts Denounce Egyptian Government Over Killings

The New York Times
Coptic Christians demonstrated in Cairo on Monday in reaction to the deaths the night before of at least 24 people in clashes between Copts and the army. More Photos »

CAIRO — An angry crowd of thousands gathered at the largest cathedral here on Monday to mourn the death of two dozen Coptic Christian demonstrators killed the night before in clashes with security forces, as liberal activists lamented the military’s increasingly tight hold on power.


A Coptic Christian mourned a relative in Cairo on Monday, the day after Egyptian troops killed at least 24 protesters. More Photos »
The New York Times
Bodies on the floor of a morgue in Cairo. The Health Ministry said more than 300 people were wounded in the violent crackdown on protests. More Photos »
The bloodshed appeared to mark a turning point in the revolution, many here said. It comes just eight months after Egyptians celebrated their military as a savior for its refusal to use force against civilians demanding the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. Confidence in the military had already been eroded by its repeated deferrals of a handover of power to civilian rule, now set to take place perhaps as much as two years after parliamentary elections, set to begin next month.
Now political liberals as well as Copts said the brutal crackdown had finally extinguished the public’s faith in the ruling military council as the guardian of a peaceful transition to democracy.
“The credit that the military received from the people in Tahrir Square just ran out yesterday,” the party leader Ayman Nour said at a news conference of prominent parties and political leaders denouncing the military. “There is no partnership between us and the council now that the blood of our brothers stands between us.”
Others took an even darker view, saying that the violence suggested that the military may now hold an even tighter grip on power than Mr. Mubarak did.
“Cairo yesterday was a part of Syria,” said Shady el-Ghazaly Harb, a liberal activist who helped set off the revolution, invoking the violent crackdown against that country’s uprising. “This is a threat not just to the Copts, but to all of the people. We saw what would happen if we rose up against the army.”
Witnesses, victims and doctors said Monday that demonstrators were killed when military-led security forces drove armored vehicles over as many as six people and fired live ammunition into the crowds. Doctors at a Coptic hospital showed journalists 17 bodies, including one with a crushed skull and others with mangled limbs.
Doctors and Interior Ministry officials said bullet wounds accounted for most of the deaths, including that of Mina Daniel, a young political activist a doctor said had been shot in the shoulder and leg. More than 300 others were wounded in four hours of street fights, the Health Ministry said.
The military council did not explain Monday why shots were fired or why military vehicles ran over demonstrators.
In a statement on state television, it appeared to distance its officers from any responsibility for the deadly clashes. The statement referred only to unspecified “unfortunate events” that “transformed peaceful protests to bloody ones.” Expressing “deepest condolences to the families of the victims,” the military reiterated its determination to refuse “attempts to cause a rift between the armed forces and the Egyptian people.”
The military also sought to appease the Coptic Christians, about 10 percent of the population here. Although the Copts had embraced the revolution’s promise of a tolerant and pluralistic democracy, many have been uneasy as the removal of Mr. Mubarak’s iron fist has unleashed suppressed rivalries, as in the recent dispute over the construction of a church near the southern city of Aswan that inspired the march in Cairo on Sunday.
The military said it had asked its civilian prime minister to begin an investigation into the violence, and Egyptian news organizations reported that at least 15 suspects were being prosecuted in military courts for instigating the riots.
The civilian cabinet, meanwhile, announced a series of long-promised measures to deter discrimination. The measures would impose jail time and large fines on anyone found guilty of discrimination on the basis of religion, with heavier penalties for government employees. And to address the legacy of cumbersome rules on permits to build churches, the cabinet said it would implement a law to standardize procedures for all houses of worship.
The minister of information also backed away from state television coverage of the protests on Sunday that urged “honorable Egyptians” to defend soldiers from a mob of armed Christians. The announcers who made those statements were “under emotional stress,” the minister, Osama Heikal, said, according to the Web site of the state-run newspaper Al Ahram.
While the liberal parties denounced the military’s handling of the protest, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group considered the principal opposition under Mr. Mubarak, adopted a tone notably more sympathetic to the government.
Mahmoud Ghozlan, a spokesman for the group, said in a statement that while both Muslims and Christians faced problems during the “critical phase” of the transition, “there was no need for the peaceful protests to metamorphose into violent clashes.” He added: “Under no circumstances should violence and aggression be a solution.”
Coptic leaders issued an unusually pointed statement charging that the demonstrators were set up to take the blame for a crackdown. “Strangers got in the middle of our sons and committed mistakes to be blamed on our sons,” the statement said, claiming that acts of discrimination or aggression against Copts repeatedly “go unpunished.”
In a measure of their growing distrust of the military-led government, the families of the Copts killed in the violence decided they did not trust government-run facilities to perform autopsies, fearing the results might hide evidence of the violence by security forces. After hours of deliberation with priests, activists and human rights groups, they arranged to bring forensic teams to a Coptic hospital, causing the funeral to be called off.
Inside the hospital, Mariam Telmiz, 40, sat at the bedside of a brother-in-law who had been wounded by a bullet at the demonstration. Another brother-in-law had been killed by a bullet.
The military was ready to protect Egyptian Muslims who carried a Saudi flag or even pulled the Israeli flag off its embassy, she said, “but the one who holds his cross high gets humiliated.”

Heba Afify contributed reporting from Cairo.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Muslim Reformers vs Extremists

Muslim Reformers vs Extremists

Extremists hijack EFD event
Statement - “We will not leave”: Muslim reformers to extremists
- On 7 December 2011, twenty radical Muslims hijacked an event featuring Muslim reformists, Irshad Manji and Tofik Dibi, in Amsterdam.
The extremists repeatedly declared “Takfir!”, thereby ordering the execution of Manji and Dibi. After threatening to break Manji’s neck, they demanded that the event, sponsored by the European Foundation for Democracy, be stopped.
The speakers refused to leave the stage. Their discussion on the modernisation of Islam resumed after the police arrested a number of the extremists. Stated Manji, “I never felt afraid. Not once. Neither did Tofik. In fact, all of us refused to leave, even when police asked. We wouldn’t play on Jihadi terms. Some things are simply more important than fear.”
Emphasized Dutch MP, Tofik Dibi, “the disruption shows that even in the Netherlands it is necessary to continue the debate on reforming Islam.”
Roberta Bonazzi, Executive Director of the European Foundation for Democracy, added “the voice of democratic Islam will not be silenced by extremism. We are united and will continue to support inspirational Muslim reformers across Europe.” By bringing together two such reformers at the Amsterdam event, the European Foundation for Democracy is pursuing its mission of empowering liberal Muslims who advocate the values of open societies.
Irshad Manji is in Europe to promote her latest book, Allah, Liberty and Love. Manji, a practicing Muslim, is also the author of The Trouble With Islam Today. As part of her tour she is meeting fellow Muslim reformists, youth activists and parliamentarians in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.
The radicals are believed to be members of Sharia4Belgium, one of several Islamist groups seeking to enact Sharia law throughout Europe.
IRSHAD MANJI: Senior Fellow with the European Foundation for Democracy, Irshad Manji also directs the Moral Courage Project at New York University (http://www.moralcourage.com/). In those countries that have banned her books, Prof. Manji is reaching readers by posting free-of-charge translations on her website, irshadmanji.com. To date, the Arabic, Urdu and Farsi translations have been downloaded more than 2 million times.

ALLAH, LIBERTY AND LOVE: Written by the dissenting yet faithful Muslim Irshad Manji, Allah, Liberty and Love advances a 21st-century reformation within Islam. As a Muslim who bridges East and West, Prof. Manji addresses people of all faiths – and none. What she teaches is “moral courage,” the willingness to speak up when everyone else wants to shut you up. Calling out both the fatwa-flingers and the mute moderates, Allah, Liberty and Love is the ultimate guide to becoming a gutsy global citizen.
EUROPEAN FOUNDATION FOR DEMOCRACY: Based in Brussels, EFD (http://www.europeandemocracy.org/) is a non-profit organisation which promotes universal human rights, individual liberty, freedom of conscience and pluralism of peaceful ideas. Its accomplishments include the support of Muslims in several European countries who advocate democratic values within their communities.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

PA Leader: All Muslims are Obligated to Kill Jews

PA Leader: All Muslims are Obligated to Kill Jews

PA Cleric: A top Palestinian Authority religious leader claimed in a sermon at a major Fatah event that Muslims are obligated to kill the Jews.
The Mufti Muhammad Hussein presented the murder of Jews by Muslims as a religious Islamic goal while celebrating the 47th anniversary of the Palestinian Authority’s Fatah faction.
An appointee of Palestinian Authority Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas, the Mufti made the claim at an official Fatah event marking the founding of the largest faction in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), also led by Abbas, as well.
Citing what he said was the Hadith (the Islamic tradition attributed to Muslim prophet Muhammad), the Mufti claimed “The Hour [of Resurrection] will not come until you fight the Jews. The Jew will hide behind stone or trees. Then the stones or trees will call: ‘O Muslim, servant of Allah (G-d), there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.’
Although a video of the speech was previously available on YouTube, it has been removed because it violated the site’s Terms of Service for violence.
A poll sponsored by the Israel Project found that 73 percent of Palestinian Arabs “believe” this Hadith, according to the findings of a July 2011 study by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner.
The moderator who introduced the Mufti also reiterated another “Islamic belief” — that the Jews are descendants of apes and pigs,” according to a broadcast on PA TV translated by the media watchdog agency Palestinian Media Watch (PMW).
“Our war with the descendants of the apes and pigs (ie: the Jews) is a war of religion and faith,” the moderator said.
kill jewsThe Mufti added to the moderator’s statement, saying that Islam’s goal is to kill the Jews. The same cleric preached in a sermon at Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque in 2010 that the Jews are “enemies of Allah.”
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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The mission: Protecting Israel

Op-ed: Israeli hacker who leads group that hit Arab sites explains team's actions Have you ever thought of what goes through the mind of a general in charge of his soldiers when heading to battle? Who will be sent to the front, and who will remain close by because his presence is required for continuing the offensive? I've been pre-occupied with these kinds of thoughts in recent days. While we face a virtual battlefield, the decisions are the same – who will I "sacrifice" when I ask him to publish classified information, and who will I "dispatch" to strike the targets?

After the credit information of Israeli nationals was leaked, I was infuriated. I couldn't believe it was happening. How could it be that organizations that receive daily inquiries alerting them to such grave security lapses ignore them, until it's too late?

These alerts contribute nothing, and the common folk would continue to be harmed, so I therefore decided to take action. I formed a pro-Israeli group of hackers that would fire back against the threats directed at Israel in recent weeks.

Identifying people who wish to take part in the group's activity, which is illegal, took longer than expected. Most of my inquires were rejected for one reason: Israel's computer laws, whereby any online breach could result in a prison term of up to five years. However, eventually I managed to bring together a group of people who believe in the same principles and are wiling to sacrifice themselves if needed, in order to offer a proper response to the "Saudi hacker."

This is war

In the first stage, we struck several Saudi-owned shopping sites in order to elicit sensitive data that includes credit card information. Regrettably, we faced a difficult start. Most attacks failed to bear fruit and despair started to malign group members. Yet then came a surprising announcement from one teammate: "I found what we've been looking for."

We finally had a lead that allowed us to progress in order to elicit as many details as possible. As hours passed by, we managed to identify more and more sources of information. After a few more hours we had enough information to confront the "Saudi hacker." As a team, we came up with an "arsenal of responses" to guide our actions. From now on, all that's left is to wait for the right time and identify the right moment in order to utilize the information in our possession.

As the group's leader, it's very important for me to emphasize that we do not operate against any specific nationality, and any person who operates against the group's principles will be harmed, regardless of religion, creed or gender. In addition, I wish to note that the group regrets harm done to innocents and tries to avoid it as much as it possible. However, such moves are necessary in this war, and we have no choice but to do it.

Published: 01.18.12, 01:23 / Israel Opinion
Fisrt Published on Ynet

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hamas leaders evacuating families from Syria


By Ibrahim Barzak
Associated Press / January 17, 2012

 GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip—Hamas officials say senior members of their exiled leadership will evacuate their families from the group's headquarters in Syria.
Hamas, a militant Islamist Palestinian group, rules the Gaza Strip.
The officials, speaking from Damascus, said Tuesday that the evacuations are in response to the deteriorating security situation in Syria, where President Bashar Assad has been resisting a 10-month uprising.
The officials say the families of three top officials -- Moussa Abu Marzouk, Mohammed Naser and Izzat Risheq -- are set to leave at the end of the month, while the three men will remain in Damascus.
In recent months, Hamas has pulled lower level officials and their families out of Syria.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were discussing the inner workings of the secretive group.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Shalit welcome to run

Shalit welcome to run

Op-ed: Just like any other citizen, Noam Shalit has full right to run for Israel’s parliament

Anyone who is not tainted by corruption, who does not boast a history of wrongdoing and who is not a habitual criminal can join the political race and run for the Knesset.

This is one of democracy’s cornerstones: The right to elect and be elected is open to everyone, and it is not conditioned upon the motives that push the candidates to the front of the stage. This is true for Noam Shalit, and of course for Karnit Goldwasser.

However, the above statement says nothing about the abilities of these two figures, their suitability for the post, or even their electoral appeal. Shalit and Goldwasser have not produced a cure for cancer, have not resolved the mystery behind the world’s creation, and did not use their political stature thus far in order to establish, lead or manage projects in favor of Israel’s poor and unprivileged.

Goldwasser attempted to join the media world, Shalit apparently returned to the pursuits he undertook before his son’s abduction, and now they are again making headlines: Goldwasser by apparently joining Yair Lapid’s party and Shalit as a future contender in the Labor Party primaries.

That’s how system works

They have the full right to do so, just like the voters have the right to decide on their own criteria before placing their ballots in the box. Indeed, the voters will decide whether the familiar face from television, or the impression created by the struggle to return their loved ones home are enough to vote for Shalit and Goldwasser.

As Shalit already officially declared his intention to run, we shall say again that he has the full right to do so. What will determine whether he wins a Knesset seat is his conduct in the public sphere in the coming months, the positions he’ll present, and the answers he’ll provide to questions that come up. There is no other way and no path that can circumvent the need to become closely familiar with the candidates.

The current Israeli Knesset, for better and for worse, is full of people who two years ago we knew very little about; these are people who were granted the opportunity to gain experience at the expense of Israel’s citizens because of our political model. Indeed, each and every citizen will eventually be able to reward these Knesset members, or send them packing – because that’s how it works.

Ariela Ringel-Hoffman
Published: 01.12.12, 00:16 / Israel Opinion

The Chomsky Hoax

The Chomsky Hoax
Exposing the Dishonesty of Noam Chomsky