Thursday, November 1, 2007

Vacation in Dubai, experience homosexual rape.

Vacation in Dubai, experience homosexual rape. That's what happened to 15 year old Alexandre Robert, whose case was hushed up by Dubai authorities, according to the New York Times:
The New York Times
In Rape Case, a French Youth Takes On Dubai
Published: November 1, 2007

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Oct. 31 — Alexandre Robert, a French 15-year-old, was having a fine summer in this tourist paradise on the Persian Gulf. It was Bastille Day and he and a classmate had escaped the July heat at the beach for an air-conditioned arcade.

Just after sunset, Alex says he was rushing to meet his father for dinner when he bumped into an acquaintance, a 17-year-old native-born student at the American school, who said he and his cousin could drop Alex off at home.

There were, in fact, three Emirati men in the car, including a pair of former convicts ages 35 and 18, according to Alex. He says they drove him past his house and into a dark patch of desert, between a row of new villas and a power plant, took away his cellphone, threatened him with a knife and a club, and told him they would kill his family if he ever reported them.

Then they stripped off his pants and one by one sodomized him in the back seat of the car. They dumped Alex across from one of Dubai's luxury hotel towers.

Alex and his family were about to learn that despite Dubai's status as the Arab world's paragon of modernity and wealth, and its well-earned reputation for protecting foreign investors, its criminal legal system remains a perilous gantlet when it comes to homosexuality and protection of foreigners.

The authorities not only discouraged Alex from pressing charges, he, his family and French diplomats say; they raised the possibility of charging him with criminal homosexual activity, and neglected for weeks to inform him or his parents that one of his attackers had tested H.I.V. positive while in prison four years earlier.

"They tried to smother this story," Alex said by phone from Switzerland, where he fled a month into his 10th-grade school year, fearing a jail term in Dubai if charged with homosexual activity. "Dubai, they say we build the highest towers, they have the best hotels. But all the news, they hide it. They don't want the world to know that Dubai still lives in the Middle Ages."

Alex and his parents say they chose to go public with his case in the hope that it would press the authorities to prosecute the men.

United Arab Emirates law does not recognize rape of males, only a crime called "forced homosexuality." The two adult men charged with sexually assaulting Alex have pleaded not guilty, although sperm from all three were found in Alex. The two adults appeared in court on Wednesday and were appointed a lawyer. They face trial before a three-judge panel on Nov. 7. The third, a minor, will be tried in juvenile court. Legal experts here say that men convicted of sexually assaulting other men usually serve sentences ranging from a few months to two years.

Dubai is a bustling financial and tourist center, one of seven states that form the United Arab Emirates. At least 90 percent of the residents of Dubai are not Emirati citizens and many say that Alex's Kafkaesque legal journey brings into sharp relief questions about unequal treatment of foreigners here that have long been quietly raised among the expatriate majority. The case is getting coverage in the local press.

It also highlights the taboos surrounding H.I.V. and homosexuality that Dubai residents say have allowed rampant harassment of gays and have encouraged the health system to treat H.I.V. virtually in secret. (Under Emirates law, foreigners with H.I.V., or those convicted of homosexual activity, are deported.)

Prosecutors here reject such accusations. "The legal and judicial system in the United Arab Emirates makes no distinction between nationals and non-nationals," said Khalifa Rashid Bin Demas, head of the Dubai attorney general's technical office, in an interview. "All residents are treated equally."

Dubai's economic miracle — decades of double-digit growth spurred by investors, foreign companies, and workers drawn to the tax-free Emirates — depends on millions of foreigners, working jobs from construction to senior positions in finance. Even many of the criminal court lawyers are foreigners.

Alex's case has raised diplomatic tensions between the Emirates and France, which has lodged official complaints about the apparent cover-up of one assailant's H.I.V. status and other irregularities. The tension and growing publicity over the case seem to have prompted the authorities to take action.

Mr. Demas, from the Dubai attorney general's office, said he had no intention of prosecuting Alex and was seeking the death penalty for the two adult attackers. "This crime is an outrage against society," he said.

However, the investigation file in Alex's case and a pair of confidential French diplomatic cables obtained by The New York Times confirm the accounts of inexplicable and at times hostile official behavior described by Alex and his parents.

"The grave deficiencies or incoherence of the investigation appear to result, in part, from gross incompetence of the services involved in the United Arab Emirates, but also from the moral, pseudoscientific and political prejudices which undoubtedly influenced the inquiry," the French ambassador to the United Arab Emirates wrote in a confidential cable dated Sept. 6.

Most infuriating to Alex and his mother, Véronique Robert, is that police inaccurately informed French diplomats on Aug. 15, a month after the assault, that the three attackers were disease-free, the diplomats say. Only at the end of August did the family learn that that the 36-year-old assailant was H.I.V. positive. The case file contains a positive H.I.V. test for the convict dated March 26, 2003.

"They lied to us," Ms. Robert said. "Now the Damocles sword of AIDS hangs over Alex."

So far the teenager has not tested positive for H.I.V., but he will not know for sure until January, when he gets another blood test six months after the exposure.

A doctor examined Alex the night of the rape, taking swabs of DNA for traces of the rapists' sperm. He did not take blood tests or examine Alex with a speculum. Then he cleared the room and told Alex: "I know you're a homosexual. You can admit it to me. I can tell."

Alex told his father in tears: "I've just been raped by three men, and he's saying I'm a homosexual," according to interviews with both of them.

The doctor, an Egyptian, wrote in his legal report that he had found no evidence of forced penetration, which Alex's family says is a false assessment that could hurt the case against the assailants.

In early September, after the family learned about the older attacker's H.I.V. status and the French government lodged complaints with the United Arab Emirates authorities, the Dubai attorney general's office assigned a new prosecutor to the case. Only then were forensic tests performed to confirm that sperm from all three attackers had been found in Alex.

Alex stayed in Dubai in order to testify against his attackers, and went back to school in September, despite suffering unsettling flashbacks.

In early October, however, the family said, their lawyer warned Alex that he was in danger of facing charges of homosexuality and a prison term of one year.

Veteran lawyers here say the justice system is evolving, like the country's entire system of governance that has blossomed as the economy and population have exploded in just a few decades. Despite its shortfalls, the United Arab Emirates have combined Islamic values with the best practices from the West to create "the most modern legal system among the Arab countries," said Salim Al Shaali, a former police officer and prosecutor who now practices criminal law.

In business and finance, the nation has worked hard to earn a reputation for impartial and speedy justice. But the criminal justice system has struggled, balancing a penal code rooted in conservative Arab and Islamic local culture, applied to an overwhelming non-Arab population of foreign residents.

A 42-year-old gay businessman who would speak only if identified by his nickname, Ko, described routine sexual harassment by officials during his 13 years living in Dubai. He cut his shoulder-length hair to avoid attention, he said, but after years of living in fear of jail or deportation, he is leaving the country.

Although rape victims here generally keep quiet, some who have been raped in Dubai have shared testimonials in recent days on, a Web site started by Alex's mother.

Prosecutors moved forward with the case against her son's attackers only as a result of public pressure and diplomatic complaints, Ms. Robert believes. Now, she hopes, the attention could prompt more humane and even-handed justice for future rape victims here.

On advice of his lawyer and French diplomats, Alex says he will not return to Dubai but wants very much for the men to be convicted.

"Sometimes you feel crazy, you know?" he said. "It's hard, but we have to be strong. I'm doing this for all the other poor kids who got raped and couldn't do anything about it."


Bad news from everywhere

The public image of Israel has been dragged in the mud by systematically biased media reporting. Every Israeli fault has been reported and magnified. If there are prostitutes or pollution in Israel you hear about it in California and Melbourne. This reporting obscures the fact that Israel and Turkey are the only countries in the Middle East that are anything like working democracies, that Israel provides the best education and social benefits for all of its citizens among all the non-petroleum states of the Middle East and that it leads the Middle East and a good part of the world in technical  To demonstrate the effect of media demonization on the image of different countries, bloggers have created several offerings that target different countries. The original one was Bad News From the Netherlands. It has now been joined by Bad News From Finland, Bad News From Britain and  Bad News From Mexico.
Some choice headlines:

Amsterdam Mayor Authorizes Demonstration of Extreme Rightists


Five men are publicly beheaded in Saudi Arabia... as Gordon Brown hosts their King at No.10


Finnish Figures for Losses Caused by Shoplifting Among Highest in Europe


Governor Threatens Force Against Flood Victims

US Plan To Give Corrupt Police Better Equipment

However, it is not the same thing of course if people know that you are delivering bad news. It would be better to call these web logs by more neutral sounding names like "BBC"  "The Guardian," "The Independent...." That would be more equivalent to the situation with bash-Israel media.
Ami Isseroff

Remembering the ethnic cleansing of Egyptian Jews

This article is a reminder of the ethnic cleansing or "Nakba" (disaster) of Egyptian Jews that took place in the 50s and 60s. Most were expelled or forced to flee by rising anti-Semitism, and lost all their property. They became refugees for whom no agency was created and no help was offered by international bodies.
Last update - 12:20 01/11/2007    
By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent
Two historical moments were recorded Tuesday at the Sha'ar Hashamayim synagogue in Cairo. The first was when Dr. Gaber Baltagi, an academic who writes poetry as a hobby, recited one of his works in Arabic and Hebrew, calling for peace among the nations. The second was when a loud shofar (ram's horn) blast, usually sounded at the closing of the Ne'ila service on Yom Kippur, echoed in the cavernous space of Cairo's great synagogue, bringing tears to the eyes of many of those present.
Members of Cairo's Jewish community - those who have remained here, as well as others who have moved away - plus many guests from Egypt and around the world, were there for a ceremony marking 100 years since the founding of the synagogue.
In attendance were the American ambassador to Cairo, the British ambassador, Israeli envoy Shalom Cohen as well as former Israeli ambassadors.  Advertisement

During the ceremony, the Choir of the Jewish community of Thessaloniki sang songs in Hebrew and Ladino.
The building was recently renovated, with the approval and assistance of the Egyptian authorities. It was rededicated Tuesday.
"Jews lived here throughout the ages," said community president Carmen Weinstein. "I see no reason for Jews not to continue living here."
Weinstein is the second woman president in the history of this Jewish community. The first was her mother, Esther, who served in that capacity for many years.
"When my mother was president, she ran things and I did the dirty work. Nowadays I have to do both," she said with a smile, speaking from the synagogue's pulpit. The ceremony she directed Tuesday was a historic event for the community, whose future is still in question. Weinstein declared that she is proud to be Egyptian. As befits her position as head of the community, she thanked Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak several times.
The Egyptian Jewish community is one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world. Rabbi Moses Maimonides (the Rambam) lived and taught here in the 13th century. For generations, hundreds of documents were collected in what became known as the Cairo Geniza, whose discovery in 1896 contributed much to Jewish historical research.
One hundred years ago, when the Sha'ar Hashamayim was founded on Adly Street, it was a hub of activity. The community absorbed many waves of immigration from both Europe and the Middle East. The name plates still affixed to some of the seat backs tell the immigration story. Philippe Bach, Yosef Salameh, Felix Schwartz and Herman Horenstein are just a few of the names that can be found there.
Today the Cairo Jewish community has 30-40 members, most of them older women. One of them, Magda Haron (nee Shahatah), stepped up to the pulpit Tuesday to share her feelings. She said that the last time she remembers the synagogue being full was in the in the 1960s.
"We may be only 40 members now," she added, "but we have a glorious history behind us. Please don't let that die."
Haron has never visited Israel, for ideological reasons. Her parents were Communists, and she hopes to come only when a Palestinian state is established. Her father did not attend synagogue services, but Haron came with her grandfather.
"The future is frightening," she said, in an interview with Haaretz, "and I do not know if anyone can replace Carmen. I think that the Egyptian government should help preserve the Jewish heritage. Jews have been here since the time of the Pharaohs."
Among the participants at the event was Meir Cohen, a native of Cairo. He brought with him photographs from his father's wedding at the synagogue in 1947, and from his bar mitzvah in 1963. Like many Israelis born in Egypt, Cohen left along with his family after the deterioration of the Jewish community's situation in the late 1960s. He worked for Israel Television's Arabic department and was the spokesman at the Israeli embassy in Cairo in the late 1980s.
"With this event," said Cohen, "Carmen has resuscitated hundreds of years of Jewish life. Every detail here brings back memories of my father, members of my family and the prayer services here. This is the closing of a circle for me/

UN explains where Shebaa farms are (is?)

Notably, the UN has not made a recommendation regarding who the Sheba farms area belongs to, though previously it had ruled conclusively that it belonged to Syria and not Lebanon. Also interesting that the UN calls for implementing resolution 1701 (disarmament of Hezbollah).
Last update - 10:55 01/11/2007    
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent
A periodic report issued by the United Nations has, for the first time, defined the area covered by the Shaba Farms on the basis of expert cartographic work.
The report, the fifth to the Security Council on the implementation of Resolution 1701 which brought an end to the Second Lebanon War, also criticizes the continued rearmament of paramilitary groups in Lebanon, particularly Hezbollah.
Although the report issued Wednesday criticizes Israel for continued violations of Lebanon's airspace, and failure to provide all the data on the locations of cluster bomb attacks, it does not require Israel to enter separate negotiations on the fate of the Shaba Farms, or to surrender the area to the UN.
In his report to the Security Council, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon released the findings of cartographer Miklos Pinter, whose assignment had been to determine the borders of the disputed area.
"I am pleased to report that, based on the best available information, the senior cartographer has arrived at a provisional definition of the Shaba Farms area," writes the Secretary General. He also points out that "this exercise has not been aimed to delineate international boundaries as regards to the Shaba Farms, but should assist Lebanon and Syria in their efforts to agree upon their common border."
According to Pinter's findings, the territory in question includes many IDF military positions, and serves as a strategic crossroads between the borders of Lebanon, Syria and Israel.
The area forms a trapezoid beginning on the international border, close to the village of Majidiye in southern Lebanon, and moving southeast toward an area known as Ma'ar Shaba. It then runs along the Siyon stream toward the northeast, until it meets the international border again, just north of the Barhata Farms.
Pinter's findings are based on evidence he received from the government of Lebanon and on visits to the area on both sides of the border, the latest being on September 5, from the Israeli side of the border.
According to the calculations of Dr. Yigal Kipnis from Haifa University, the territory described in Pinter's findings includes large portions of Mount Dov, and covers an area of approximately 25 square kilometers.
Israel is particularly pleased that the secretary general included in the report that the issue of the Shaba Farms "cannot be separated from the principles and elements required for the permanent cease-fire and long-term solution identified in resolution 1701 (2006)."
The Shaba Farms are in an area that was part of the French Mandate over Syria and Lebanon and which is now controlled by Israel, which annexed it as part of the Golan Heights. The area was never clearly marked since the British and French Mandates in the area.
Following the IDF withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000, Lebanon has insisted that Shaba Farms constitute part of its sovereign territory. However, at the time the United Nations determined that the area was part of the Golan Heights, and that the matter would be decided in a future agreement between Israel and Syria.
Following the Second Lebanon War, the UN began marking the border area between Lebanon and Syria, and Israel has insisted that the sovereignty issue over the Shaba Farms cannot be decided conclusively until the border between its two neighbors is fixed.
Both Lebanon and Syria have asked in recent months that the Shaba Farms be transferred to UN custody, but Israel is opposed to the idea.
In his report, the secretary general was critical of Syria's failure to provide the UN with specific details pertaining to the Shaba Farms.
In addition to the Shaba Farms, which was only a portion of the report, the secretary general focused on the rearming of paramilitary groups in Lebanon, especially Hezbollah.
Ban Ki-moon quotes Israeli sources as claiming that Hezbollah tripled its arsenal of C-802 anti-ship missiles, which struck an Israeli destroyer during last year's war, killing four.
Ban writes that Israel alleges that Hezbollah has rearmed itself "at a level higher than prior to last year's conflict... that Hizbullah's long-range rocket force is stationed in areas north of the Litani River, and that most of the new rockets supplies - including hundreds of Zilzal and Fajr generation rockets - have a range of 250 Km, enabling them to reach Tel Aviv and points further south."
The UN chief wrote that "addressing [Hezbollah's] disarmament remains critical to the extension of the authority of the government of Lebanon over all its territory," and that Israel considers "the nature and number of weapons in Hizbullah's control... a strategic threat to its security and the safety of its citizens."

Palestinian push on Jerusalem

Ahead of the Annapolis conference, the Palestinians have begun pushing their claims on Jerusalem again:
The Palestinian Authority has demanded that Israel formally sanction a document in which it promises to permit Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem to continue to operate, the Shin Bet security service has told the government in recent days.
The document, known as the "Peres letter," was appended to the Oslo II agreements of 1993.
The Shin Bet - which is presenting its analysis of the negotiating stance the Palestinians are expected to put forward at next month's Annapolis peace conference - has also warned Prime Minister Ehud Olmert against falling into the trap of declaring Israeli recognition of East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

The warning points especially to the fact that "East Jerusalem" is understood to encompass the Old City and the Western Wall, both.
Shin Bet analysts are weary of a Palestinian negotiating ploy in which Israel would be lured to agree in principle to recognize East Jerusalem as the future capital of a Palestinian state, while delaying debate on the particular details of which side would maintain authority over religious sites.
President Shimon Peres, who served as foreign minister at the time of the signing of the Oslo Accords, had dispatched a letter to his Norwegian counterpart, Johan Jorgen Holst, stating Israel's recognition of the importance of Palestinian institutions in the city and its commitment to protect them.
Initially, Peres denied the existence of the letter after former PA Chairman Yasser Arafat revealed its contents. The intense public pressure which ensued from within the media and the political community eventually forced Peres to acknowledge the letter as fact.
The Palestinians are demanding that Israel allow the renewed activity of Palestinian institutions in east Jerusalem, chief among them Orient House, which was shut down in August 2001 in response to the Palestinian suicide bombing of the Sbarro pizzeria in the city.
The Palestinian demand is one of a series of measures in which Israel is expected to adopt so as to ease tensions on the ground, as is prescribed in the road map.
Nobody seems to be demanding that Palestinians recognize any Israeli rights in Jerusalem.

Nostalgia for Farouk?

An Egyptian television series about King Farouk has provoked a great deal of comment in Egypt, as Hala Sakr notes in al Ahram. The series attempted to rehabilitate Farouk. The reason can be explained by these comments:
"The monarchy has long been dead, but when we had a monarchy it was a constitutional one, and the 1923 constitution is there for everybody to read and marvel at... I do not call for a restoration of the monarchy, but the serial reflects my own understanding of the period." Abu-Gahzai agrees that restoring the monarchy would go against the movement of history. "But," he says, "the serial has succeeded in raising the question of true democracy. It asserts that Egypt once had a significant democratic experience which has been intentionally tarnished since July 1952. Despite its shortcomings, the pre-1952 liberal experience will continue to be of great importance to our history -- a source of inspiration to all Egyptians."

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Robert Fisk on Saudi Arabia and Terrorism - Off with their heads

Don't miss this one...
`I see!' said the Queen, who had meanwhile been examining the roses. `Off with their heads!' and the procession moved on, three of the soldiers remaining behind to execute the unfortunate gardeners, who ran to Alice for protection...(Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter VIII).
"Off with their heads," and the procession moves on. Poetry becomes reality.
Ami Isseroff
Robert Fisk: King Abdullah flies in to lecture us on terrorism
By Robert Fisk
Published: 30 October 2007
In what world do these people live? True, there'll be no public executions outside Buckingham Palace when His Royal Highness rides in stately formation down The Mall. We gave up capital punishment about half a century ago. There won't even be a backhander – or will there? – which is the Saudi way of doing business. But for King Abdullah to tell the world, as he did in a BBC interview yesterday, that Britain is not doing enough to counter "terrorism", and that most countries are not taking it as seriously as his country is, is really pushing it. Weren't most of the 11 September 2001 hijackers from – er – Saudi Arabia? Is this the land that is really going to teach us lessons?
The sheer implausibility of the claim that Saudi intelligence could have prevented the ondon bombings if only the British Government had taken it seriously, seems to have passed the Saudi monarch by. "We have sent information to Great Britain before the terrorist attacks in Britain but unfortunately no action was taken. And it may have been able to maybe avert the tragedy," he told the BBC. This claim is frankly incredible.
The sad, awful truth is that we fete these people, we fawn on them, we supply them with fighter jets, whisky and whores. No, of course, there will be no visas for this reporter because Saudi Arabia is no democracy. Yet how many times have we been encouraged to think otherwise about a state that will not even allow its women to drive? Kim Howells, the Foreign Office minister, was telling us again yesterday that we should work more closely with the Saudis, because we "share values" with them. And what values precisely would they be, I might ask?
Saudi Arabia is a state which bankrolled – a definite no-no this for discussion today – Saddam's legions as they invaded Iran in 1980 (with our Western encouragement, let it be added). And which said nothing – a total and natural silence – when Saddam swamped the Iranians with gas. The Iraqi war communiqué made no bones about it. "The waves of insects are attacking the eastern gates of the Arab nation. But we have the pesticides to wipe them out."
Did the Saudi royal family protest? Was there any sympathy for those upon whom the pesticides would be used? No. The then Keeper of the Two Holy Places was perfectly happy to allow gas to be used because he was paying for it – components were supplied, of course, by the US – while the Iranians died in hell. And we Brits are supposed to be not keeping up with our Saudi friends when they are "cracking down on terrorism".
Like the Saudis were so brilliant in cracking down on terror in 1979 when hundreds of gunmen poured into the Great Mosque at Mecca, an event so mishandled by a certain commander of the Saudi National Guard called Prince Abdullah that they had to call in toughs from a French intervention force. And it was a former National Guard officer who led the siege.
Saudi Arabia's role in the 9/11 attacks has still not been fully explored. Senior members of the royal family expressed the shock and horror expected of them, but no attempt was made to examine the nature of Wahhabism, the state religion, and its inherent contempt for all representation of human activity or death. It was Saudi Muslim legal iconoclasm which led directly to the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan by the Taliban, Saudi Arabia's friends. And only weeks after Kamal Salibi, a Lebanese history professor, suggested in the late 1990s that once-Jewish villages in what is now Saudi Arabia might have been locations in the Bible, the Saudis sent bulldozers to destroy the ancient buildings there.
In the name of Islam, Saudi organisations have destroyed hundreds of historic structures in Mecca and Medina and UN officials have condemned the destruction of Ottoman buildings in Bosnia by a Saudi aid agency, which decided they were "idolatrous". Were the twin towers in New York another piece of architecture which Wahhabis wanted to destroy?
Nine years ago a Saudi student at Harvard produced a remarkable thesis which argued that US forces had suffered casualties in bombing attacks in Saudi Arabia because American intelligence did not understand Wahhabism and had underestimated the extent of hostility to the US presence in the kingdom. Nawaf Obaid even quoted a Saudi National Guard officer as saying "the more visible the Americans became, the darker I saw the future of the country". The problem is that Wahhabi puritanism meant that Saudi Arabia would always throw up men who believe they had been chosen to "cleanse" their society from corruption, yet Abdul Wahhab also preached that royal rulers should not be overthrown. Thus the Saudis were unable to confront the duality, that protection-and-threat that Wahhabism represented for them.
Prince Bandar, formerly Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Washington, once characterised his country's religion as part of a "timeless culture" while a former British ambassador advised Westerners in Saudi Arabia to "adapt" and "to act with the grain of Saudi traditions and culture".
Amnesty International has appealed for hundreds of men – and occasionally women – to be spared the Saudi executioner's blade. They have all been beheaded, often after torture and grossly unfair trials. Women are shot.
The ritual of chopping off heads was graphically described by an Irish witness to a triple execution in Jeddah in 1997. "Standing to the left of the first prisoner, and a little behind him, the executioner focused on his quarry ... I watched as the sword was being drawn back with the right hand. A one-handed back swing of a golf club came to mind ... the down-swing begins ... the blade met the neck and cut through it like ... a heavy cleaver cutting through a melon ... a crisp moist smack. The head fell and rolled a little. The torso slumped neatly. I see now why they tied wrists to feet ... the brain had no time to tell the heart to stop, and the final beat bumped a gush of blood out of the headless torso on to the plinth."
And you can bet they won't be talking about this at Buckingham Palace today.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Egyptian Mufti praises polygamy, blames west for terrorism

According to MEMRI, Egyptian Mufti Ali Gum'a believes that polygamy is a good thing, and it is permitted by Judaism as well as Islam. Terrorism is the fault of the West. Adulterers should be killed - in theory only.
Here's the transcript  

The following is an interview with Egyptian Mufti Ali Gum'a, which aired on Al-Arabiya TV on September 13, 2007.
"Cases Of Polygamy Do Not Exceed 2%... [While] Mistresses and Adultery Have Become Widespread Throughout the World"
Interviewer: "The Western world always claims that the Islamic world is not suited to these modern times, because some of its clauses that pertain to women are considered by the Western world to be prejudiced against women. With regard to Egypt, they keep returning to the slogan of 'female circumcision,' and I know your views about this issue.
"But take, for example, the issue of polygamy or the stoning of adulteresses. People who do not belong to this society view such things as a kind of... I don't want to use the word 'backwardness,' but such things are viewed as regression of modern social [Islamic] laws. Honorable Mufti, what do you think about polygamy? Is this Egypt's method of family planning?"
Ali Gum'a: "This is a storm in a teacup. Our statistics show that cases of polygamy do not exceed two percent. That's one thing. Mistresses and adultery have become widespread throughout the world, beginning with the heads of state here and there – and I don't want to mention specific Western countries – and culminating with illegitimate children, who are recognized due to the constraints of reality. I'd like to know if this is preferable to having a rate of two percent [polygamy] among marriages, according to the reliable official statistics. What is this? Are we supposed to allow adultery and ban marriages? In my opinion, this is preposterous."
Interviewer: "What about the way women are punished?"
Ali Gum'a: "Polygamy is one thing, and the punishment is another. Islam never punishes just the woman, but always both the woman and the man."
"I Support Killing [Adulterers], But Killing Them If Certain Conditions Are Met"
Interviewer: "Are you in favor of killing them?"
Ali Gum'a: "Killing whom?"
Interviewer: "The adulteress."
Ali Gum'a: "And what about the man?"
Interviewer: "The adulterer too. So you are in favor of killing them?"
Ali Gum'a: "The kind of distinction you made creates the impression that there is a bias against women. There is no bias against women. Adultery is a sin for both men and women."
Interviewer: "My question was whether you are in favor of killing them."
Ali Gum'a: "I support killing them, but killing them if certain conditions are met. These conditions should not be neglected. These conditions show us what this killing means, and how it takes place. In over 1,000 years, we have not carried out the killing of an adulterer. In Egypt, we have not carried out the killing of an adulterer, and therefore..."
Interviewer: "What are the conditions?'
Ali Gum'a: "There must be four witnesses to testify against the adulterer. They must testify that they saw them having sex."
Interviewer: "In other words, that is impossible.'
Ali Gum'a: "Exactly. This cannot happen unless someone is weary of living and decides to confess." [...]
"To This Day, Judaism Permits Polygamy; the Hindus Permit Polygamy; the Buddhists Permit Polygamy"
Interviewer: "Is a man permitted to have four wives?"
Ali Gum'a: "This is permitted in all religions."
Interviewer: "No, not in all religions..."
Ali Gum'a: "This is permitted in all religions except Christianity."
Interviewer: "In Judaism, a man is permitted to have four wives?"
Ali Gum'a: "Of course! Moses has four wives, and so did Abraham..."
Interviewer: "But today, it is not permitted."
Ali Gum'a: "Today, yesterday...what's the difference? To this day, Judaism permits polygamy. The Hindus permit polygamy. The Buddhists permit polygamy. There is not a single religion on the face of the earth that bans polygamy, but all religions agree that women are not allowed to have more than one husband. Christianity is the only religion that does not permit more than one wife. The rest – six billion people on Earth – permit polygamy."
Interviewer: "Do you have daughters?"
Ali Gum'a: "I have three."
Interviewer: "Would you allow them to marry a man with other wives?"
The Woman Benefits From Polygamy Because "A... Mistress Remains in the Shadows"
Ali Gum'a: "They are free to do what they want. A Muslim girl can decide to agree, or else, she can decide to file for a divorce from her husband if she does not like the new situation, and he too is free to choose. But in Islam, Allah permits us – just like in all religions – to marry several wives, and have things done out in the open.
"For whose benefit is all this? For the benefit of the woman, because a woman who is taken as a mistress remains in the shadows, and loses all her rights. The man does not owe her anything. But since [Allah] permits marrying another wife, she gains respect, status, and rights. Therefore, becoming a second wife reinforces the status of a woman, because she does not become a mistress or a girlfriend who remains in the darkness, and the man does not do things of which he is ashamed."[...]
"Social Violence is the Result of the Secularists' Attempt to Impose Their Principles Upon Society"
Interviewer: "How come the reaction in our society is always one of violence?"
Ali Gum'a: "This culture has emerged from injustice. The Arab people has suffered from imperialism since the mid-19th century."
Interviewer: "But it was not violent in the days of imperialism. It has become violent now, when it became independent."
Ali Gum'a: "I seem to recall the fidayeen movement in the Suez Canal. I seem to recall the fidayeen movement in Syria..."
Interviewer: "I am talking about violence within society."
Ali Gum'a: "Social violence is the result of the secularists' attempt to impose their principles upon society, instead of explaining them. They tried to impose their principles on society, and the result was social violence. The people refuse to deny Allah, and to allow our God to be cursed. The people were brought up on the holy, while the secularists want the profane."
Interviewer: "But excuse me, in the West... I don't want to defend the West too much, but they also accept young Arabs and Muslims into their universities and schools, and they have many immigrants, and when they return home, they carry out violent or terrorist acts. There is something in the very structure... I would like you to explain this structure to me. You talk about injustice and oppression, but injustice and oppression also exist in Africa and South America, yet they do not respond to it [with violence]."
Ali Gum'a: "All the bloodshed in Rwanda and Uganda is not considered violence?"
"People from the Religious Establishment Do Not Resort to Violence, While People From Secular Institutions Do"
Interviewer: "But I've never heard of them carrying out an act of terror in a subway or a theater..."
Ali Gum'a: "It would take a team of sociologists and psychologists to analyze this phenomenon – how come anyone who becomes religious out of the religious establishment turns out violent. In Al-Azhar University, there are 400,000 people, and 20 million people worldwide are affiliated with it – and not a single one of them ever committed a terrorist act. But we've seen a doctor and an engineer who were brought up in the West..."
Interviewer: "What about Muhammad Atta and Al-Zawahiri..."
Ali Gum'a: "Those operations were all carried out by people brought up in the West. How come people from the religious establishment do not resort to violence, while people from secular institutions do employ violence? Are there discrepancies in their way of thinking? Is there a specific psychological structure that leads to [violence]? This requires psychological and sociological studies."
Interviewer: "But bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri were not brought up in the West."
Ali Gum'a: "But the one was an engineer, and the other was a doctor. They were brought up on Western methodology, and not on religious methodology. How come not a single Al-Azhar scholar came up with this idea? We are talking about 20 million... Even Omar Abd Al-Rahman is the exception that proves the rule. He himself never participated in terrorist acts. Even when his ideology became deviant he did not participate in acts of terrorism."
Interviewer: "What would you call the operations that are carried out in Iraq?"
Ali Gum'a: "Shocking. Some things are shocking. Iraq is a complex case, and the one responsible for this is Mr. Bush."

 See the clip here 

Media reporting of the Middle East: Watching the Watchdog

30.10. 2007
Original content copyright by the authors
Zionism & Israel Center

Watching the Watchdog

The media's role is to be the watchdog of democracy. But what happens when the watchdog falls into an unexpected trap? What happens when it is betrayed from within and maliciously manipulated in order to create a skewed picture of reality?

Nir Boms and Elliot Chodoff (10/25/2007)

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? "Who watches the watchmen?" asked the Roman poet Juvenal, paraphrasing a central problem discussed by Plato in The Republic.

The pursuit of "Justice" is a tricky business in a complicated world demanding that we make judgments about critical issues beyond our immediate perception like global warming, foreign policy, peace and war.

Hezbollah Expands in North Lebanon, Away From UN Peacekeepers

Oct. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Gunshots echo from nearby valleys as a convoy of black sedans and SUVs carrying bearded men sweeps through the mountains north of Lebanon's Litani River. A sign on a road warns: ``Entry to This Area Forbidden. Hezbollah.''

The Lebanese Shiite movement, designated a terrorist group by the U.S., is expanding its reach north in the country by buying land to build villages and military camps, Lebanese government and Hezbollah officials say in interviews. The new land marks a new frontier for the group, whose military wing waged war with Israel for 33 days in the summer of 2006.

The Litani was once the informal boundary for Hezbollah- dominated territory in the south, next to Israel. By purchasing real estate, constructing villages and setting up hidden military zones in the mountains north of the river, Hezbollah is able to avoid the attention of 14,000 United Nations peacekeepers, who are stationed only south of the river and whose job it is to prevent Hezbollah rearming.

Government officials say Hezbollah is establishing a fortified defensive line along the Litani's north bank toward the Bekaa Valley, in eastern Lebanon. The Bekaa is a supply area for the militia and gateway for potential arms transfers from Syria.  

Thomas Braun, Lima, Peru

Monday, October 29, 2007

Iran navy in suicide attack pledge

(CNN) -- An Iranian naval commander Monday said his forces are willing to carry out suicide missions when facing enemy forces in the Persian Gulf, according to Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency.


Troops from Iran's Basiji volunteer forces on parade. 

"If necessary, we will use the element of martyrdom-seeking and we will become people of Ashura," Fars quoted Gen. Ali Fadavi as saying. Ashura refers to the day marking the death of Imam Hussein, Prophet Mohammed's grandson, who is revered by Shiite Muslims.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Nazi propaganda - incredible idiocy

Unbelievable that such ridiculous lies can be believed by anyone.
TEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- An Iranian official here on Monday said that the Untied States, assisted by Israel, is seeking to create a genetic and molecular bank to manufacture new types of unconventional weapons.

Are the British really concerned about Iran going nuclear

The Jerusalem Post Internet Edition

'Iranians study nuclear physics in UK' Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST Oct. 28, 2007

The UK Foreign Office has approved the entry of dozens of Iranians to British universities to study advanced nuclear physics and other subjects which could be applied to the creation weapons of mass destruction, The Sunday Times reported Sunday.

The British newspaper reported that in the past nine months about 60 Iranians had been admitted to study postgraduate courses considered "proliferation-sensitive" by the British security services. The courses ranged from nuclear physics to some areas of electrical and chemical engineering and microbiology.

Additionally, the newspaper continued, figures obtained by David Willetts, shadow secretary for innovation, universities and skills, showed that in 2005-06, 30 Iranians were doing postgraduate degrees in subjects covering nuclear physics and nuclear engineering.

The Sunday Times quoted Willetts as saying: "Given that we need to have tougher sanctions against Iran, it does seem extraordinary that the government is not yet stopping Iranians coming here to study nuclear physics. There is legitimate concern about what some students have been studying."

The Foreign Office admitted during the weekend it was reviewing the vetting for sensitive areas of study and planned to announce new, more rigorous procedures in the next few weeks.

Currently, vetting is carried out only when a university chooses to inform the government that a candidate from outside the EU has been admitted to study a sensitive subject.

According to the new procedures, said The Sunday Times, universities would be obliged to inform the government if any non-European applies study such a subject. They would also need to give details about what is included in the course.

Before they can even begin to apply for a visa, students will then undergo a security check.
Academic background and country of origin will be checked as well as who is funding the student's studies. The checks will be conducted in order to discover, for example, whether the students are being sponsored by an unfriendly government such as Iran's.

The newspaper quoted a Foreign Office spokesman as saying: "We are rigorously checking people at the moment and we are planning an even more rigorous system."

This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1192380669141&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull ]

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Britain to follow US in Iran Sanctions

Britain will follow the US in boosting Iran sanctions, according to an AP story. That is the real significance of the American move to increase sanctions against Iran: a signal to partners to do the same. The effectiveness of the strategy depends on the willingness of partners to follow suit, and the extent to which US, Britain and France supply vital materials that cannot be obtained from Russia or China. Otherwise, the sanctions are not going to do much other than throw more trade to China and Russia.
Story is below.
Ami Isseroff

Associated Press

October 24, 2007
ROME - The British government will seek further sanctions against Iran over its atomic program, the prime minister said yesterday, as Iran's new nuclear negotiator had his first meeting with the European Union's foreign policy chief.

The Bush administration has led the push for sanctions against Iran, but last month agreed to Russian and Chinese demands to give the country until November to address international concerns.

The United States and some of its allies accuse Iran of secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons and have demanded it halt uranium enrichment, a key step atomic weapon production. Tehran denies the claim, saying its program is for peaceful purposes including generating electricity.

"We are absolutely clear that we are ready, and will push for, further sanctions against Iran," Prime Minister Gordon Brown said. "We will work through the United Nations to achieve this. We are prepared also to have tougher European sanctions. We want to make it clear that we do not support the nuclear ambitions of that country."

Brown sidestepped a question about military action, promulgated by some hawks in the Bush administration. "I believe the combination of our willingness to go through the UN process, which we will do, and our ability to take sanctions as a European Union, sends the strongest possible message to Iran," he said.

The EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana described his first meeting with Iran's new negotiator yesterday as "constructive" and said more talks were planned for November.

It was Saeed Jalili's first introduction to Solana since his appointment following the weekend resignation of Ali Larijani. Both Iranians took part in yesterday's session and said Iran would continue negotiations with the EU representative.

"Negotiation and cooperation is our basic approach," said Jalili. Larijani said the talks addressed Iran's work with the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is conducting an investigation into Iran's past nuclear activities, as well as other issues.

The departure of the more moderate Larijani was seen as a victory for hard-line Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and a possible indication Iran might take an even more defiant position. But Larijani dismissed speculation over his resignation and alleged differences with Ahmadinejad, saying the replacement was merely a matter of a generational change.

The talks came as a poll showed 65 percent of the American public preferred economic or diplomatic moves against Iran, compared to 19 percent who favored military action or threats. When the question was asked in March, 13 percent chose threatened or actual military steps. The new poll was conducted during Ahmadinejad's mixed reception in New York, a report for Public Agenda, a nonpartisan public policy group, and the journal Foreign Affairs said.