Thursday, May 29, 2008

Inside al Haza

Inside al Haza

Something people need to know; Sistani and other Ayatollahs' images of humble old men dedicated their lives to fulfill their "duty to God" and serve the Shiite community, is totally misleading. In reality they are multi-millionaires, Hawza-barons with turbans, make enormous amounts of money from [Al-Kumus and the supreme-cleric-share].

At this moment, Leaders of the Hawza are the following five senior Shiite authorities:

- Ayatollah Ali Sistani (Iranian).

- Ayatollah Mohammed Said Hakim (Arab-Iraq).

- Ayatollah Sheikh Bashir Najafi (Pakistani).

- Ayatollah Mohammad Ishaq Al Fayyadh (Afghan).

- Ayatollah Mohammad Al Yacoubi (Arab-Iraq).

The word "Al-Maraji' Al-Udhma" = The High References, refers to the five "supreme-clerics" as one entity which is the Shiites spiritual leadership. Due to the post-occupation developments in Iraq they became religious and political references.

Something you need to know, despite the family-names and nationality differences, they are all related to each other in a series of complicated structure of marriages.

Although the "Arabic - Najafi" identity of the Hawza is confirmed as an Arabic religious institution, It seems there is kind of "nationalism" among Iraqi Shiites questioning the ethnic roots and the nationality of the supreme-cleric, for example; in the period between 1914-1919 when people started to argue about the supreme-cleric Ayatollah Yazdi's [Iranian] position from the British occupation, after he refused [or less willing] to support the Iraqi national confrontation against the British.

More evidence is the competition that lasted fifteen years between Ayatollah Mohsen Al Hakim (Iraqi) in Najaf and Ayatollah Hussein Al Broogardi (Iranian) in Qom. While Iraqis chose Al Hakim as the highest authority; the Iranians responded by choosing Al Broogardi as their supreme-cleric.

This is the first known split between the two Hawzas which also started an identity crisis [Iraq offered an Iraqi nationality to Sistani but he refused]. Something we need to note here is that; while the Qom-Hawza started a movement to modernize the institution, the Najaf-Hawza kept it's radical ideology, this is a very good example:

In his "modern" ideas, Ayatollah Fadhallah discusses some religious issues with Iraqi clerics:

- I discussed the matter with Iranian clerics in Qom, and [my ideas] are well received.

- You should consult Iraqis in these matters, Iraqis know history better.

This a list of all Supreme-clerics since the last century until today, to check the Iranian domination of the Najaf-Hawza:

- Ayatollah Mohammad Kazem Yazdi 1903-1919 (Iranian).

- Ayatollah Mirza Mohammed Taqi Al-Shirazi 1919-1920 (Iranian).

- Ayatollah Fathulla Isfahani Dec. 1920-Aug 1920 (Iranian).

- Ayatollah Sayed Abul-Hassan Isfahani 1920-1945 (Iranian).

- Ayatollah Mohsen Al Hakim (Iraqi) - Ayatollah Hussein Albroogardi (Iranian) [Hawza split] 1945-1960.

- Ayatollah Mohsen Al Hakim (Iraqi) 1960-1970.

- Ayatollah Al Khoei (Iranian) 1970-1992.

- Ayatollah Sayed Abdel A'ala Sabzevari (Iranian) 1992-1993.

- Ayatollah Sayyid Ali al-Sistani (Iranian) 1994-until today.

Christians: Ethnic cleansing in Iraq

"A new wave of ethnic cleansing is going on in Iraq," Iraqi Christian representative Behiye Hadodo told the gathering. "If these atrocities continue, the Chaldean, Syriac and Assyrian communities there will be wiped out altogether, creating a new catastrophe for humanity."
Nobody seems to care, though, do they?
While media stir up passions about an imaginary Palestinian "Holocaust," a real genocide may be taking place in Iraq.  The story notes in conclusion:
The Minority Rights Group International says Iraq is the second-most dangerous country in the world for minorities in 2008, behind Somalia and ahead of Sudan, Afghanistan and Burma.
"Apartheid Israel" is not even on the list! Yet nobody seems to care. Boycotts, divestment and other initiatives are directed only at Israel.
The rest of the story is below.
Ami Isseroff

( - Days before Sweden hosts an international conference aimed at pushing ahead the political and economic reform process in Iraq, hundreds of exiled Iraqi Christians demonstrated outside the country's parliament Sunday to draw attention to the minority's plight in their homeland.
"A new wave of ethnic cleansing is going on in Iraq," Iraqi Christian representative Behiye Hadodo told the gathering. "If these atrocities continue, the Chaldean, Syriac and Assyrian communities there will be wiped out altogether, creating a new catastrophe for humanity."
Iraq's Assyrians are a non-Arab ethnic minority located mainly in northeastern Iraq, and adherents of Christian denominations including the Chaldean Catholic and Syriac Orthodox churches.
A 1987 census recorded 1.4 million Christians in Iraq, but the numbers began to drop after the 1990 Gulf War, reaching around 800,000 before the U.S. invaded in March 2003.
Persecution at the hands of Islamic radicals -- killings, church bombings, kidnappings, forced conversions and harassment -- has prompted hundreds of thousands of Christians to flee the country since 2003. Although accurate statistics are unavailable, researchers believe the community may have been halved in the past five years.
Many have moved to Syria and Jordan, and others to northern Europe, Australia and the United States.
Of an estimated 70,000 Iraqi Christians in Europe, nearly half are reported to live in Sweden.
Speeches during Sunday's rally in Stockholm centered on continuing harassment by fundamentalists in Iraq, including abductions and assaults of girls and women, and the forcing of women to wear veils in line with strict Islamic doctrines.
Participants reiterated calls for international support for an autonomous safe region for Iraqi Christians in the historical Assyrian region in the north of the country.
Hadodo, a representative of the European Syriac Union, said the demonstration's goal was to draw the attention of the United States, European Union and United Nations to the "ongoing terror" and especially to the murder of Christian clerics in Iraq.
On Thursday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will join counterparts and officials from around the world including U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for a meeting near Stockholm that will follow up last year's launch of the International Compact with Iraq.
The compact is a partnership between the Iraqi government and the international community, aimed at pursuing political, economic and social development over a five-year period.
Iraqi officials are expected to outline progress made during the past year, with a strong focus on the security situation. Among those due to attend is Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, whose government is accused by the U.S. of destabilizing Iraq by supporting insurgents there.
Iraq's Christians are hoping that the meeting in Sweden will consider their concerns too.
"Since the liberation of Iraq much attention has been devoted to the demands and expectations of Iraq's Shi'a, Sunni, Kurds," Hermiz Shahen, secretary of the Australian chapter of the Assyrian Universal Alliance, said Wednesday.
"[Yet] the plight of the Assyrian nation is attracting little attention in the outside world."
Pointing to the high number of Christian refugees, Shahen said the international community must make the issue a priority.
Within one or two generations, he said, Christians in the Middle East - the birthplace of Christianity - may be reduced to a negligible number, having been forced to flee radical Islam.
"It is important that the Assyrian voice be heard [at the meeting in Sweden] and the Assyrian nation be distinctly recognized," he said. "It is time for the advocates who call for democracy, justice and human rights to stand up for the rights of the indigenous Assyrians of Iraq."
Shahen said Assyrians' demands included equitable representation in government and amendment of the Iraqi constitution to protect Assyrians and allow them "true and equal citizenship."
They also wanted the establishment of an Assyrian governorate or province, administered by Assyrians under the jurisdiction of Iraq's central government. This would encourage refugees, whether internally displaced or outside the country, to return, and enjoy political, educational, linguistic, religious and cultural protection, he said.
Prior to the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime, the U.S. designated Iraq as a "country of particular concern" (CPC) for religious freedom violations. The 1998 International Religious Freedom Act allows for a range of steps, including sanctions, to be taken against governments that engage in or tolerate serious religious freedom violations.
CPC designation was subsequently lifted, but the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent body advising the White House and Congress, last year placed Iraq on a "watch list" pointing to escalating, unchecked violence against religious minorities as well as "evidence of collusion between Shi'a militias and Iraqi government ministries."
Earlier this month, the commission in a letter to Rice said it remained seriously concerned about the situation, citing violence against non-Muslims "from Sunni insurgents and foreign extremists, as well as pervasive violence, discrimination, and marginalization at the hands of the national government, regional governments, and para-state militias, including those in Kurdish areas."
Some of the commission's members argue that Iraq should already have be returned to the CPC blacklist, but the commission said it would make a recommendation in the near future, after a visit to Iraq.
Earlier this year the Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Mosul, Paulos Faraj Rahho, became the most senior Christian figure to be slain. His body was found after gunmen abducted him at his church, killing three men with him.
The Minority Rights Group International says Iraq is the second-most dangerous country in the world for minorities in 2008, behind Somalia and ahead of Sudan, Afghanistan and Burma.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Israeli project helps teach the Qur'an and use the Qur'an as a force for tolerance and peace

Quranet - A bridge between the Islamic world and the West

One of the projects exhibited at the Israeli Presidential Conference in May 2008 was Quranet - an educational tool which reveals the beauty of the Quran and its respect for human dignity.

 At the Israeli Presidential Conference held in May in honor of Israel's 60th Independence Day, 60 projects were selected for an exhibition entitled "Tomorrow's Spaces", presenting new ideas, products and technologies that will help shape the face of tomorrow. One of the projects selected was Quranet - a website in which every person in the world can find a Quranic answer to his/her educational questions.
  • Quranet transforms the Quran into a unique and useful educational tool for parents and teachers, and thereby renders the beneficial power of the Quran widely accessible.
  • Quranet interweaves the Quran, in unprecedented fashion, with modern educational approach, thereby helping the Islamic world and the West to understand each other.
  • Quranet reveals the beauty of the Quran and its respect for human dignity, thereby providing a resounding response to warped exploitation of the Quran for the justification of terror.
  • Since many issues are common to Islamic and Western culture, we aspire to develop Quranet into a social network in various languages, and create communities with shared interests, thus establishing a bidirectional bridge between the two cultures.

How does Quranet work?

The user selects a particular issue from the list of contents, and receives the relevant Quran verse. He or she can then study a brief description of an everyday event, illustrating how the verse can be utilized to convey a message to the child. The session concludes with a brief educational-psychological explanation of the process.
The material has been developed in Hebrew by a group of Bedouin students of education and their lecturer, Dr. Ofer Grosbard. With an introduction by three distinguished sheikhs, it was recently published in book form by Ben Gurion University Publishing House.

How Quranet began

Last year a group of fifteen Bedouin students studying for graduate degrees in educational counseling attended a course on Developmental Psychology given by our lecturer Dr. Ofer Grosbard.

One day I went up to him and said: "May I tell you the truth. What you are teaching us is not going to be of help to us."
"Why do you say that?" Ofer asked.
I said that that when I become an educational counsellor, a parent may come to me one day and say, "A demon has entered into my child" or some similar statement from the same cultural background. "Do you think that what you have taught us here  will be of any use to me then?"
"Then what would he helpful to you?" Ofer asked.
I replied with one word: "The Quran."
He asked me to explain. I said that, in the appropriate context, quotation of a verse from the Quran has enormous impact on Muslims.

Ofer brought a copy of the Quran to our next lesson. He divided the chapters among us and asked us to locate the educational-therapeutic verses. It transpired that there are many of these in the Quran. The verses exhort individuals to take responsibility, learn the truth, respect others etc. Ofer asked us to compose a brief story taken from everyday life for each verse to illustrate how a parent or teacher can utilize the verse to convey a message to the child. Together we collected more than three hundred stories, and Ofer added to each a simple and brief educational-psychological explanation.

That was how Quranet came into being.

See how Quranet works

What happens when we repay evil with good? 
... the one who used to be your enemy may become your best friend (Sura Fussilat, Ayat 34)

Bushra Mazarib - the student who set the project in motion

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Was Lebanon sold to Hezbollah?

Was Lebanon sold to Hezbollah?
By: Elias Bejjani

May 27/08

Much has been said in praise and criticism of the "Doha agreement" that ended the bloody and criminal unsuccessful coup attempt that the Terrorist Hezbollah Militia and the axis of evil two countries, Syria and Iran, executed earlier this month in Lebanon to take over all the country, by force and topple the whole free and democratic regime.

Every party whether internal or international, interpreted the agreement that was brokered by the Arab League and the Qatari ruler, from its own political, national, ideological, or materiel perspective. Some western analysts said it came as a result of an American-Iranian global secret understanding for numerous Middle East conflicts in general and for the Iraqi one in particular. Others explained it as a preliminary consequence of the Syrian-Israeli negotiations currently being conducted in Turkey, in the open this time.
The International and regional press considered it a victory for the two states of the Axis of Evil; Syria and Iran, a great defeat to the Cedars Revolution, and a certain defeat of the West and its plans for the Middle East. Some even went as far as claiming that Lebanon has now become "a state under the control of Hezbollah".
In Lebanon, the opposition coalition leadership, including Hezbollah, as well as the majority parties, leaders, politicians and MP's considered it a great and historic accomplishment, but each from mere individual perspective, confessional affiliation, wishful thinking, local and foreign links as well as Divine interpretations for winning and losing.
The Majority, (March 14 coalition) is working hard to market it to its supporters as the beginning of a long term, well and thorough comprehensive programmed solution. A triumph of the concept of the State and coexistence among its multi-cultural communities. A defeat of Hezbollah's armed coup objectives. A strengthening of civil peace propelled by a Gandhi-like attitude resulting in substantial and essential compromises. The Majority justified the back off and retreat on numerous major and substantial matters as "necessary to avert and abort Hezbollah's civil war venomous scheme"
Hezbollah and its followers such as Amal, Aoun's FPM, and other Syria-Iran mercenaries, read in it a great defeat to the "American-Zionist Middle East Plan" and its followers in Lebanon including the "conspirators, Zionists, and traitors". From this arrogant and illusionary stand, Syria's mouthpiece and loyal servant, Lebanon's House Speaker Mr. Nabih Berri hideously and evilly, seriously endeavored unsuccessfully to ban the Saniora Cabinet members from attending the election ceremony of president Michel Suleiman that took place on Sunday, alleging the cabinet is "unconstitutional and illegal", from his perspective. His cheap and mean game failed and the cabinet members attended after the Majority MP's threatened to boycott the election session.

Meanwhile Hezbollah's General Secretary, Hassan Nasrallah delivered a lengthy speech yesterday in which he reiterated his  "Divine" refusal to disarm and reaffirmed his Iranian-Syrian long term plans of resistance "against the enemy, Israel".   "The resistance weapons are to be used in fighting the enemy, liberate lands and prisoners, and defend Lebanon and nothing else," . "State weapons … should defend the nation, the people and their rights … but cannot be used to settle accounts with a political opponent. State arms cannot be used to target the resistance and its arms,". "All weapons should serve the purpose for which they were organized,".
Where does the truth stand? Where are all the parties, whether majority of minority, Arabs or internationals, taking Lebanon in this agreement which they sponsored, blessed and advocated for, even though it failed to mention Security Council Resolutions
(UNSCR) 1559 and 1701, that stipulates for the disarmament of Hezbollah, and for putting an end to all cantons erected during the Syrian occupation era, among which is Hezbollah's mini state. The agreement also omits any reference to the 1948 Armistice treaty with Israel and contains no clauses calling for the disarmament of militias as required by the "Taef Accord".

One wonders, where are all these parties, Arabs, Europeans and the USA are taking Lebanon with an agreement that legitimizes the "Hezbollah State" inside the state and grants it a veto power in the first cabinet to be formed under the presidency of General Michele Suleiman?
What good is to expected from an agreement which did not come with a time schedule or a roadmap to deter, contain and ultimately confiscate Hezbollah's Iranian-Syrian weapons. These same weapons that were criminally used earlier this month to massacre more than 100 Lebanese civilians and invade many peaceful Lebanese territories including the western part of the capital Beirut.
What actually distresses the Sovereign Free Nationalists in Lebanon and Diaspora, and darkens Lebanon's future of Freedoms, democracy, and its multi cultural role model in the Middle East, is that the Security Council which supported the Doha agreement, has also failed to mention in its statement issued last week,
UNSCR 1559 and 1701, as well as the "Taef Accord" .

Those who are hailing the Doha agreement, be they Americans. Europeans, Arabs or Lebanese, and who are alleging that the newly elected president Michele Suleiman will work on disarming Hezbollah peacefully, should review thoroughly Suleiman's achievement record as Army commander during the last nine years, as well as his political affiliations background. Suleiman was handpicked by late Syrian president Hafez Assad as Army commander during the Stalinist Syrian occupation of Lebanon and then was embraced by Assad's son, the current Syrian president Basher Al Assad. Suleiman always was and still is a Hezbollah strong ally, and a loud and staunch advocate for what is falsely called "resistance against Israel".
This does not mean that Suleiman will not adopt new strategies and side with his country, Lebanon, and accordingly be a loyal guardian and protector for the Lebanese constitution as a president. Having said this, No one should ignore the fact that the majority of the Lebanese politicians are opportunists and chameleons. They change their affiliations and shift from one side to another so smoothly to secure power and authority. There is no doubt that Suleiman is no exception.
Things will be in the clear and unveiled within only two weeks. We will witness either the re-emerging of the state of Lebanon, or the Hezbollah's state instead.  The Suleiman presidency's path will determine which state this Genera-president is going to preside over. All this will be decisive in the new cabinet's Ministerial policy statement which will be presented to the parliament for its vote of confidence.
If the statement re-iterates the falsehood of  "resistance, liberation, rejection, and occupied land", and again gives Hezbollah militia legitimacy and legality, as was the case in the Saniora cabinet pre-2006 war statement, then this will mean simply that the "Hezbollah's mini state" has triumphed over the Lebanese state. That the Suleiman presidency will be a crisis management one, under the control, instructions, conditions, weapons, ideology, and religious edicts (fatawa) of Sheik Hassan Nassrallah, Hezbollah's General Secretary and behind him of course, Syria and Iran.
The Saniora cabinet's fatal mistake, or rather its mortal sin, was that it deluded itself in believing that Hezbollah will not turn its weapons against the Lebanese people, so it surrendered complementally, and from its first day it was formed, to this Iranian-Syrian Terrorist militia, and legalized its weapons, its influence, its cantons in its cabinet Ministerial Statement. That Statement stated "It is in protection of our valiant resistance, in calm dialog over the options available to us all, and in the context of the Arab struggle against Israel and its occupations, and to fortify Lebanon and adhere to Arab solidarity, to confirm the Arab League Beirut Summit resolutions for a final just peace and the respect of international resolutions".

Hopefully, the new Lebanese cabinet to be formed within the coming few days, the first in President Suleiman's six years term, will not commit the same sin and fatal mistake that the departing Saniora Cabinet did. Hezbollah was never a real or genuine resistance, but an Iran-Syrian army by every standard. Its coup attempt earlier this month and the horrible crimes and massacres it committed against the Lebanese peaceful civilians tell the whole story.
We, the Lebanese in the Diaspora, call on the free world not to keep a blind eye while Iran and Syria are devouring Lebanon bit by bit through its Hezbollah Army. The falling of Lebanon to the Axis of Evil countries and organizations will make all and every country world-wide targets for this merciless beast.
I reiterate what was stated in my last commentary: "The solid and proved fact that no one in the entire world should ignore is that Hezbollah, like the rest of the regional and global terrorist groups understands and bows to only one language. This language that they master and understand is a combination of force, deterrence and decisiveness. Hopefully the world will be able to communicate with Hezbollah with the only language that it knows and understands".


Elias Bejjani
Chairman for the Canadian Lebanese Coordinating Council (LCCC)
Human Rights activist, journalist & political commentator.
Spokesman for the Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation (CLHRF)

LCCC Web Site
CLHRF Website

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Lebanon and Czechoslovakia

Barry Rubin is right about the Fall of Lebanon, It is a sad betrayal. There is nothing, however, that could be done in Lebanon itself. Israel could do nothing, and Western troops sent to Lebanon would have only served as targets for suicide bombers. Moreover, not only Barack Obama has no plan, as Rubin notes. Nobody else does. It is futile to blame it on Obama, since he is not in power.
Even before the shameful capitulation of the UN, I had written two very sad comments on Lebanon:

Springtime for Nasrallah and Iran, winter for Lebanon and France

The news from Doha is that the long Lebanese impasse is finally over. Aided by the good offices of the ostensibly pro-Western Qatar government, the Hezbollah has seemingly scored a knockout blow over its Lebanese opponents. Qatar mediated a "compromise" that apparently gives Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran everything they wanted, and puts an end to Lebanese independence in all but name. The crucial issue, which pro-government forces had supported during the many months of the Hezbollah siege, was the question of granting Hezbollah and its allies over 1/3 of the 30 cabinet members in the government. This provides them with veto power, and will probably make it possible to stop the international tribunal that was to try the murderers of Rafiq Hariri.  (Continued: Springtime for Nasrallah and Iran, winter for Lebanon and France)


Lebanon: frozen in the headlamps of history

Watching the events in Lebanon from a safe distance provides a frustrating sense of deja vu. It happened in 1938 in Czechoslovakia, but that was before my time. It happened in Hungary again in 1956, and in Czechoslovakia again in 1968, and in Iran in 1979, and now it is happening in Lebanon. A people is being crushed, and the world looks on helpless. Never mind that nobody cares about the Lebanese people. Foreign relations and foreign policy are never really based on humanitarian sentiments and affection. That is just bumf to be written in speeches and schoolbooks. But it is shocking that nobody seems to care that Lebanon has taken one more step on the road it began to travel with the foundation of Hezbollah: the road to becoming an Islamic Republic. The Lebanese government itself, and those who should care about Lebanon, did not seem to have the sense to stop playing with the fire of Hezbollah when it was still possible to do so.

(Continued: Lebanon: frozen in the headlamps of history)

Ami Isseroff