[This is the second of two dispatches today primarily dealing with the way in which Muslim extremism is increasing across the globe]
(For more details, please see the Reuters report below, at the start of the “full articles” section.)
NO WORD FROM THE AUT IN SUPPORT OF CONDEMNED SAUDI EDUCATOR
So far there has been no condemnation of the Saudi authorities from the British Association of University Teachers (AUT) who continue to spend much of their time considering how to get their proposed boycott of Israeli teachers implemented.
It is also ironic that presently two Israelis, one Jewish and one Arab, are touring the UK to urge an academic boycott of Israeli universities together with Dr Nur Masalha, a Palestinian Muslim, now a British citizen.
The Israeli Jew, Ilan Pappe, is a professor at Haifa University, whilst the Israeli Arab, Omar Barghouti, completed his doctorate at Tel Aviv University, and the British Muslim studied at the Hebrew University. They are living evidence of the lie that Arabs are denied education in “apartheid Israel,” yet they have abused the education Israel gave them to further demonize the Jewish state in countries like Britain where there has been a rise in anti-Semitism recently.
TAINTED SAUDI TEACHING MATERIAL USED IN AMERICAN SCHOOLS
A special investigation by the Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA) has discovered that Saudi-backed teaching materials, replete with bias and distortions about Israel, America and Islam, are penetrating classrooms across the U.S.
For example, the “Arab World Studies Notebook,” which is provided to American schools to correct misconceptions about Islam and the Arab world, contains no mention of the existence of Israel in its country-by-country section, and refers only to Palestine. It also suggests that the Koran “synthesizes and perfects earlier revelations,” meaning those ascribed to by Christians and Jews.
This notebook also suggests that Jews have “undue influence on U.S. foreign policy.” The two organizations behind the book are the Arab World & Islamic Resources and the Middle East Policy Council, both of which receive funding from Saudi Arabia.
A recent New York Sun editorial commented that “the House of Saud gets its hands on American public school textbooks. The results aren’t pretty.”
AL-QAEDA THREATENS THE ENGLISH QUEEN
In a video message justifying the July London transport bombings, Al-Qaeda has named Queen Elizabeth as “one of the severest enemies of Islam”.
The 27-minute video, partly broadcast on Al-Jazeera, denounces the Queen as an enemy of Muslims. Appearing in the video is Ayman al-Zawahiri, second-in-command to Osama Bin Laden along with the ringleader of the London bombings Mohammad Sidique Khan.
In Britain the video has been posted on the website Tajdeed, run by the London-based Saudi extremist Muhammad al-Massari. (Further details in the article below.)
NEW ISLAMIST GROUP TO LAUNCH THIS WEEK IN LONDON
Anjam Choudry a lawyer and the former leader of al Muhahjiroun, an extremist organization which disbanded itself in October 2004, told the Saudi-owned paper Asharq al Awsat yesterday that he had invited the group’s 700 ex-members to unite under the banner of “Ahl al Sunnah and al Jamaa” (the community following the teachings of the Prophet).
Choudry also expected several students of Omar Bakri Mohammad, the spiritual guide of the banned al Ghurabaa group who currently lives in Beirut, to attend the launch. The new group aims to unite British Muslims under one roof, away from more secular organizations.
INDIA STEPS UP WORK ON SECURITY FENCE TO KEEP OUT TERRORISTS
The third article below reports that India is accelerating the construction of a 2,500 mile fence to seal its border with Bangladesh. Explosions in Bangladesh this year have killed 30 people.
So far there has been no outcry about the Indian “apartheid wall” whilst no international activists have arrived to protest the Indian security fence.
The fence will be built in response to 30 deaths whilst Israel, a much smaller and more vulnerable country, is building its security fence in response to over a thousand deaths.
Where is the resolution from the General Assembly of the United Nations in which it requires the International Court of Justice to “urgently render an advisory opinion on the legal consequences arising from the construction of the wall being built by India ”?
FRANCE EXTENDS ITS STATE OF EMERGENCY FOR THREE MONTHS
In response to the riots across France, the government has approved a bill to extend the country’s state of emergency for another three months.
Last night, French police said that only 163 vehicles were burned, down from 215 the previous night. This drop is seen as indicating an “almost normal situation everywhere” in France. A total of 8,973 vehicles have been set fire to since the violence began.
The French parliament gave final approval to extending the state of emergency for three months on Wednesday.
For an interesting article on the way the American media have (mis)covered the French riots, please see the dispatch “Elections imminent as Shimon Peres ousted (& items on French riots, NY Times, Islam)” (November 10, 2005).
200,000 ISRAELIS MARK 10 YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF RABIN’S DEATH
Around 200,000 Israelis gathered in Rabin square last Saturday night to mark the 10-year anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin’s murder. Among the participants was former U.S. President Bill Clinton. This was the biggest peace rally in Israel since the disengagement from the Gaza Strip.
BUT ONLY 1,500 PALESTINIANS MARK FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF ARAFAT
According to Reuters, the Rabin rally was “a huge contrast to the modest memorials Palestinians held in Gaza and the West Bank this week to mark the first anniversary of the death of Arafat.”
1,500 people attended the Arafat memorial ceremony on Saturday night in Ramallah, in the Mukata, marking the first anniversary of Yasser Arafat’s death.
To see some of my previous articles on Arafat please refer to www.tomgrossmedia.com/ArafatArticles.html. And for a topical photographic reminder of the continuing shadow that Arafat casts over efforts to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace exactly one year after his death see www.tomgrossmedia.com/ArafatEducation.htm
SINGAPORE NATIONAL LIBRARY REMOVES ARAFAT EXHIBIT
Following a number of complaints, the Singapore National Library has removed an image of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Kwa Chong Guan, a consultant to the government-backed terrorism exhibition at the National Library, explained in a letter published in The Straits Times newspaper that Arafat’s picture was used in a montage of 24 faces to “attract visitors to the exhibits.”
Guan went on to say that “We received feedback from visitors that if one looked at the montage without looking at the exhibition in totality, the faces displayed were open to many different interpretations.”
CALLS FOR MODERATE MUSLIMS TO RAISE THEIR VOICES
The final two articles on this dispatch both contain calls for moderate Muslims to make themselves heard.
Walid Salem, a Palestinian, questions whether Islamist political propaganda spouted by Iranian President Mohammed Ahamdinejad is useful for the Palestinian cause. (To read more on the international reaction to the calls by Ahmadinejad for Israel to be “wiped off the map,” please see the dispatch “Israel receives surprisingly strong international support over Ahmadinejad comments” (November 1, 2005).)
Salem also urges moderate Muslims to “be vociferous against blind strategies, and instead should call for a real and intensive discussion about the Jewish question and about Israel’s position in the Middle East.”
Dennis Prager in the Los Angeles Times (article below) asks five questions of law-abiding Muslims. The second of his questions is “Why are none of the Palestinian terrorists Christian?” The fifth and final question asks “Why do countries governed by religious Muslims persecute other religions?”
I attach seven articles below.
-- Tom Gross
Al-Madina newspaper said secondary-school teacher Mohammad al-Harbi, who will be flogged in public, was taken to court by his colleagues and students.
He was charged with promoting a “dubious ideology, mocking religion, saying the Jews were right, discussing the Gospel and preventing students from leaving class to wash for prayer,” the newspaper said.
Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, strictly upholds the austere Wahhabi school of Islam and bases its constitution on the Koran and the sayings of the prophet Muhammad. Public practice of any other religion is banned.
A U.S. State Department report criticized Saudi Arabia last week, saying religious freedoms “are denied to all but those who adhere to the state-sanctioned version of Sunni Islam.” The newspaper said Mr. al-Harbi will appeal the verdict.
A similar case was cited in the State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report for 2004. “During the period covered by this report, a schoolteacher was tried for apostasy, and eventually convicted in March of blasphemy; the person was given a prison sentence of 3 years and 300 lashes. The trial received substantial press coverage,” the report said.
A 2003 report by the U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom, the world’s only government-sanctioned entity to investigate and report religious-freedom violations, named Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest violator of religious liberties.
The commission took the country to task for “offensive and discriminatory language” disparaging Jews, Christians and non-Wahhabi Muslims found in government-sponsored school textbooks, in Friday sermons preached in prominent mosques, and in state-controlled Saudi newspapers.
For example, in 2003, Crown Prince (now King) Abdullah reacted to the killing of six Westerners by terrorists in Yemen by saying he thought Zionism was behind them.
In Saudi Arabia, the public practice of any religion other than Islam is illegal; only Muslims can be Saudi citizens; one of the Saudi king’s titles is “custodian of the two holy mosques”; proselytizing for any religion other than Sunni Islam is barred; and Mecca, Islam’s holy city, is forbidden to all non-Muslims.
For years, Saudi Arabia also imposed restrictions, or persuaded the U.S. government to impose restrictions, on American troops defending the country during and after then-Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s 1990-91 occupation of Kuwait.
For example, U.S. postal and customs officials have barred mailing materials “contrary to the Islamic faith,” including Bibles. The U.S. military also has required female service members to wear a long, black robe called an abaya when traveling off base in Saudi Arabia. Both regulations were rescinded or clarified after public outcry based on reporting in the U.S. media.
Al-Qaeda calls Queen an ‘enemy of Islam’
By Abul Taher
The Sunday Times (of London)
November 13, 2005
Al-Qaeda has threatened the Queen by naming her as “one of the severest enemies of Islam” in a video message to justify the July bombings in London.
The warning has been passed by MI5 to the Queen’s protection team after it obtained the unexpurgated version of a video issued by Al-Qaeda after the 7/7 attacks. Parts of it were broadcast on Al-Jazeera, the Arabic satellite channel.
In the video, Ayman al- Zawahiri, second-in-command to Osama Bin Laden, targets the Queen as ultimately responsible for Britain’s “crusader laws” and denounces her as an enemy of Muslims.
A senior Whitehall official said: “MI5 is aware that there are some pieces of that video that have not been aired. They are aware of the bit of al- Zawahiri talking about the Queen and they have notified the relevant authorities.”
The Sunday Times has obtained the full 27-minute video, which is circulating on secure jihadist websites in the Middle East used to recruit and inflame prospective terrorists. In Britain it has been posted by Muhammad al-Massari, the London-based Saudi extremist, on his website Tajdeed.
It also contains inflammatory material from Mohammad Sidique Khan, ringleader of the London bombings which killed 52 commuters. He is urging Muslims to take part in jihad and seek martyrdom.
Khan, 30, incites British Muslims to ignore the moderate Islamic leaders who want integration with British society. “Our so-called scholars of today,” he said, “are content with their Toyotas and semi- detached houses” in their desire for integration. The message is believed to be the first of its kind in which a British suicide bomber calls on fellow UK Muslims to follow his example.
The attack by al-Zawahiri prompted intelligence officers to alert Buckingham Palace that the Queen had become a specific target of Al-Qaeda. Her security had already been upgraded after September 11, 2001.
In the video al-Zawahiri not only labels the Queen as one of Islam’s “severest enemies” but also sends a warning shot to British Islamic leaders who “work for the pleasure of Elizabeth, the head of the Church of England”.
He said those who followed her were saying: “We are British citizens, subject to Britain’s crusader laws, and we are proud of our submission . . . to Elizabeth, head of the Church of England.”
In a possible reference to the role of the Muslim Council of Britain, which had issued instructions to mosques to inform on potential terrorists, he criticised “those who issue fatwas, according to the school of thought of the head of the Church of England”.
In the previously unseen footage, Khan, from Dewsbury in West Yorkshire, said: “It is very clear, brothers and sisters, that the path of jihad and the desire for martyrdom is embedded in the holy prophet and his beloved companions.
“By preparing ourselves for this kind of work, we are guaranteeing ourselves for paradise and gaining the pleasure of Allah.
“And by turning our back on this work, we are guaranteeing ourselves humiliation and the anger of Allah. Jihad is an obligation on every single one of us, men and women.”
Khan’s message was condemned by Sir Iqbal Sacranie, the Muslim Council’s secretary-general, as a “perverse interpretation of Islam”.
“The victims of Sidique Khan were innocent people . . . It’s clearly inciteful. It’s trying to incite people to commit murder,” he said.
India is accelerating the construction of a 2,500-mile fence to seal its border with Bangladesh amid growing fears that its Muslim neighbour could become “a new Afghanistan”. Indian officials and western diplomats have been alarmed by an increase in terrorist attacks by militant groups linked to Al-Qaeda and by the Dhaka government’s failure to crack down on them.
One group said to have links with the government claimed responsibility for 500 synchronised explosions in 63 of Bangladesh’s 64 districts in August.
India’s cabinet has decided to speed up work on the 8ft security fence, which is intended to keep out terrorists and arms smugglers. The fence, which cuts a swathe through some of India’s densest rainforests, will be finished by the end of next year and patrolled by a border security force. Key stretches are being electrified.
The initiative follows attacks by two groups related to Al-Qaeda Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh and Harakat-ul- Jihad-ul-Islami (Bangladesh), which was among 15 organisations that were banned in Britain last month.
Grenade and bomb explosions across Bangladesh have killed 30 and injured hundreds in the past year. Two Awami League opposition leaders were among those killed and the British high commissioner was targeted in a grenade attack.
It was the August 17 blasts that caused the most alarm. Although only two people died, they showed a new level of sophistication. There were 28 bombs in Dhaka alone and the targets included the prime minister’s office, the police headquarters and the supreme court.
Leaflets found at the bomb sites declared: “It is time to implement Islamic law in Bangladesh” and “Bush and Blair be warned and get out of Muslim countries”.
Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh is led by “Bangla Bhai”, a former vigilante who once fought alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan. Opposition leaders and diplomats believe the government has failed to act against Bangla Bhai and other terrorists because they have connections with the governing coalition.
There are two Islamic fundamentalist parties in the coalition, which is led by Begum Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist party: the Jamaat Islami (JI), which has 10% of the vote, and the Islami Oikya Jote (IOJ).
The JI is increasingly respected by ordinary voters for its social welfare work, lack of corruption and the operations of its bank, the most profitable in Bangladesh. “You don’t have to pay a bribe to get a loan from them,” said a western observer.
Senior members of the IOJ have declared themselves to be “for the Taliban and for Osama (Bin Laden)”. “There’s a reluctance to acknowledge there’s a problem here,” said one diplomat, who described the IOJ as “real wackos”. He added: “These are the ones going after an anti-American armageddon. Some of the people charged with the bombings have had linkages with the main party.”
Sabir Hossain Chowdhury, an opposition leader who was detained for three months after complaining about Islamic militants linked to the government, said Bangladesh was being subjected to a campaign of intimidation and the government was guilty of complicity. “Bangladesh is probably the only government in the world that includes a group which is committed to jihad and sharia,” he said.
The country was undergoing creeping “Islamicisation”, he added. “If you look at state TV, more presenters are wearing beards. On the radio they’re reciting more and more from the Koran. The most notable example is at Dhaka airport where signs are now in Arabic but no one speaks it.”
All the partners in the government coalition deny condoning political oppression or terrorism or failing to act. They point out that they have banned two of the main terrorist groups and made high-profile arrests.
Western diplomats are caught between fear and denial. “Our impression is that the government here has the ability to crush these guys if they want to,” said one. “All the ingredients for trouble are here.”
France’s State of Emergency to Be Extended
The Associated Press
November 15, 2005
France’s Cabinet on Monday approved a bill to extend the country’s state of emergency for three months to crack down on a wave of arson attacks and riots, the government said.
The government declared a 12-day state of emergency Wednesday, empowering regions to impose curfews and conduct house searches. The measures were set to expire next Sunday if not extended. The bill to prolong the state of emergency must now go before parliament.
“It’s a measure of protection and precaution,” President Jacques Chirac said at a Cabinet meeting, quoted by government spokesman Jean-Francois Cope. “It’s a strictly temporary measure that will only be used where it is strictly necessary.”
Speaking earlier on Europe-1 radio, Cope said the bill would leave open the possibility of ending the state of emergency if order is restored.
“I think that given all that has just happened, it is important for regional officials to have the means to act during a period that is limited, but long enough to ensure the serious attacks on public order that we have seen in the past days don’t happen again, ” he said.
About 200,000 Israelis and foreign dignitaries gathered in Tel Aviv on Saturday to mark the 10th anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in Israel’s biggest peace rally since its Gaza pullout.
Holding signs with slogans such as “The path to peace will never be killed,” the crowd stood for a moment’s silence and sang memorial songs in Rabin square, where Rabin was killed in 1995 and which has since seen numerous peace rallies.
Rabin was shot dead by an ultranationalist Israeli Jew who opposed his 1993 interim peace deal with the Palestinians, for which he shared a Nobel Peace Prize with late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton joined dozens of foreign dignitaries at the rally. Clinton, who helped broker the 1993 peace accord, said he had loved Rabin and urged Israelis see his work through.
“If he were here, he would say, ‘... If you really think I lived a good life, if you think I made a noble sacrifice in death, then for goodness sakes take up my work and see it through to the end,”’ Clinton said.
The demonstration, which organizers said was about 200,000-strong, was the biggest peace rally in Israel since its Gaza pullout on September 12.
Violence has worsened since Rabin’s death, especially during the past five years of a Palestinian uprising in which more than 3,400 Palestinians and almost 1,000 Israelis have been killed.
In recent violence, Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian man near the Gaza border fence with Israel, Palestinian medics said. The Israeli army said troops fired at three men trying to plant an explosive device in the area, hitting two.
One of the men who was wounded in the incident told Palestinian medics he and his friends were unarmed and planned to sneak across the border to look for work.
MODEST MEMORIALS FOR ARAFAT
The Tel Aviv rally was a huge contrast to the modest memorials Palestinians held in Gaza and the West Bank this week to mark the first anniversary of the death of Arafat.
Israel and the United States accused Arafat of fomenting violence, a charge he had always denied.
The demonstration was also a major show of strength by Israel’s left, which wants peace talks to resume and opposes Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plans to strengthen Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
But Tamir Abraham, 59, said Sharon had “taken a step in Rabin’s legacy” by carrying out his pullout plan, saying: “Peace is a process and the process has begun with us leaving Gaza.”
Also attending the memorial was new Israeli Labor Party chief Amir Peretz, who ousted Shimon Peres in a Thursday poll.
The rioting in France by primarily Muslim youths and the hotel bombings in Jordan are the latest events to prompt sincere questions that law-abiding Muslims need to answer for Islam’s sake, as well as for the sake of worried non-Muslims.
Here are five of them:
(1) Why are you so quiet?
Since the first Israelis were targeted for death by Muslim terrorists blowing themselves up in the name of your religion and Palestinian nationalism, I have been praying to see Muslim demonstrations against these atrocities. Last week’s protests in Jordan against the bombings, while welcome, were a rarity. What I have seen more often is mainstream Muslim spokesmen implicitly defending this terror on the grounds that Israel occupies Palestinian lands. We see torture and murder in the name of Allah, but we see no anti-torture and anti-murder demonstrations in the name of Allah.
There are a billion Muslims in the world. How is it possible that essentially none have demonstrated against evils perpetrated by Muslims in the name of Islam? This is true even of the millions of Muslims living in free Western societies. What are non-Muslims of goodwill supposed to conclude? When the Israeli government did not stop a Lebanese massacre of Palestinians in the Sabra and Chatilla refugee camps in Lebanon in 1982, great crowds of Israeli Jews gathered to protest their country’s moral failing. Why has there been no comparable public demonstration by Palestinians or other Muslims to morally condemn Palestinian or other Muslim-committed terror?
(2) Why are none of the Palestinian terrorists Christian?
If Israeli occupation is the reason for Muslim terror in Israel, why do no Christian Palestinians engage in terror? They are just as nationalistic and just as occupied as Muslim Palestinians.
(3) Why is only one of the 47 Muslim-majority countries a free country?
According to Freedom House, a Washington-based group that promotes democracy, of the world’s 47 Muslim countries, only Mali is free. Sixty percent are not free, and 38% are partly free. Muslim-majority states account for a majority of the world’s “not free” states. And of the 10 “worst of the worst,” seven are Islamic states. Why is this?
(4) Why are so many atrocities committed and threatened by Muslims in the name of Islam?
Young girls in Indonesia were recently beheaded by Muslim murderers. Last year, Muslims in the name of Islam murdered hundreds of schoolchildren in Russia. While reciting Muslim prayers, Islamic terrorists take foreigners working to make Iraq free and slaughter them. Muslim daughters are murdered by their own families in the thousands in “honor killings.” And the Muslim government in Iran has publicly called for the extermination of Israel.
(5) Why do countries governed by religious Muslims persecute other religions?
No church or synagogue is allowed in Saudi Arabia. The Taliban destroyed some of the greatest sculptures of the ancient world because they were Buddhist. Sudan’s Islamic regime has murdered great numbers of Christians.
Instead of confronting these problems, too many of you deny them. Muslims call my radio show to tell me that even speaking of Muslim or Islamic terrorists is wrong. After all, they argue, Timothy McVeigh is never labeled a “Christian terrorist.” As if McVeigh committed his terror as a churchgoing Christian and in the name of Christ, and as if there were Christian-based terror groups around the world.
As a member of the media for nearly 25 years, I have a long record of reaching out to Muslims. Muslim leaders have invited me to speak at major mosques. In addition, I have studied Arabic and Islam, have visited most Arab and many other Muslim countries and conducted interfaith dialogues with Muslims in the United Arab Emirates as well as in the U.S. Politically, I have supported creation of a Palestinian state and supported (mistakenly, I now believe) the Oslo accords.
Hundreds of millions of non-Muslims want honest answers to these questions, even if the only answer you offer is, “Yes, we have real problems in Islam.” Such an acknowledgment is infinitely better for you and for the world than dismissing us as anti-Muslim.
We await your response.