* Iranian regime thugs rough up couples for celebrating Valentine’s Day
* Malaysian government also enter hotels, removes Valentine couples, including non-Muslims
* Now banned in Iran: unauthorized mingling of the sexes, laughter in hospital corridors, rock music, women playing in bands, too-bright nail polish, and the mention of foreign food recipes in state media
* Huffington Post’s latest stupidity: “The pro-democracy protest in Egypt is driven in large measure by [The Guardian’s anti-Israel] Palestine Papers”
1. Jordanian government minister: Killer of Israeli schoolgirls is a hero
2. Outlawing romance and laughter
3. Will rock music bring down Middle East dictatorships?
4. Sharp rise in “official” executions of pro-democracy campaigners
5. A genuine human rights gathering
6. … as opposed to the UN and Human Rights Watch
7. Five years in prison for handing out leaflets
8. UK allows misleading Palestine ad, but bans Israeli one
9. In a very rare move, The Guardian apologizes for a story about Israel
10. Most idiotic comment of the day
[All notes below by Tom Gross]
JORDANIAN GOVERNMENT MINISTER: KILLER OF ISRAELI SCHOOLGIRLS IS A HERO
Agence France Presse reports that Jordan’s justice minister yesterday described a Jordanian soldier serving a life sentence for killing seven Israeli schoolgirls in 1997 as a “hero”.
“I support the demonstrators’ demand to free Ahmad Dakamseh. He’s a hero. He does not deserve prison,” said Hussein Mujalli, who was appointed a government minister last week in response to demands of “pro-democracy” demonstrators in Amman.
Mujalli, a leading Jordanian lawyer, is a former president of the Jordan Bar Association.
Releasing Dakamseh would be a “top priority” for the new government, he added, according to the state-run Petra news agency.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry responded by saying that “Israel is shocked and recoils from these comments in revulsion. This call is all the more serious as it came from the minister in charge of law and order. Israel has demanded clarifications from Jordan and has made it known very strongly that the murderer must serve the sentence handed down by the Jordanian court.”
Jordan is the only Arab nation besides Egypt to have signed a peace treaty with the Jewish state.
In March 1997, Dakamseh approached the border fence with Israel and sprayed bullets into a group of Israeli schoolgirls on the Israeli side of the border, near the Sea of Galilee, killing seven and wounding five others as well as their teacher.
King Hussein (the father of the present Jordanian monarch) cut short a visit to Europe and rushed home to condemn the attack. He later travelled to Israel and “sat shiva” (offered his condolences) to the families of the murdered schoolgirls.
Maisara Malas, who heads the Islamist-allied trade unions’ committee, said yesterday: “We cannot imagine that a great fighter like Dakamseh is in jail instead of reaping the rewards of his achievement.”
OUTLAWING ROMANCE AND LAUGHTER
In addition to the political violence yesterday in which the Iranian regime’s secret police severely beat Egyptian-inspired pro-democracy demonstrators on the streets of Tehran, and several more people were “disappeared” perhaps never to be seen again (as was the case following the demonstrations in 2009), the regime also cracked down on young couples attempting to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
In the run up to Valentine’s Day, Iranian state media had announced that “Symbols of hearts, half-hearts, red roses, and any activities promoting this day are banned. Authorities will take legal action against those who ignore the ban.”
Iranian militia patrolled restaurants in Iran last night looking for any signs of affection between couples, and several people were reportedly manhandled and taken away for questioning.
The Islamic government in Iran (so admired by certain apologists on the editorial pages of The New York Times) has already outlawed (among other things) unauthorized mingling of the sexes, laughter in hospital corridors, rock music, women playing in bands, too-bright nail polish, and the mention of foreign food recipes in state media.
WILL ROCK MUSIC BRING DOWN MIDDLE EAST DICTATORSHIPS?
As exiled Iranian writer Melik Kaylan pointed out recently:
“In the play ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll,’ [which is set in Communist Czechoslovakia] playwright Tom Stoppard proposes that rock music more than anything else – the arms race, dissident intellectuals, economic decay – brought down the communist system because it came from an unanticipated source for which the politburo theorists had no answer.
“Their enforcers could counter explicit resistance, but their ideologues never prepared defenses against the onslaught of pure fun. No one in charge knew how to neutralize this entirely new category of opting out through the delirium of music. In the play, the rigid communist edifice crumbles in the face of a mysteriously apolitical impulse to freedom embodied by young folk who simply ‘don’t care about anything but the music.’”
Kaylan noted that the mullahs “can offer no specific dogma against the widespread underground rock scene in the suburbs of Tehran and elsewhere. They often arrest those at basement shows or garage performances with improvised expedients – for the blasphemous nature of their gyrations, or for illicit socializing between the sexes.”
The Iranian-supported Hamas regime in Gaza has also violently broken up western rock concerts among Palestinian youth.
In 2009, Hamas’s “morality police” in Gaza banned Palestinian women from swimming unless they are covered from top to bottom, and forbade women from entering coffee shops, restaurants, and other public places unless they are escorted by male relatives.
SHARP RISE IN “OFFICIAL” EXECUTIONS OF PRO-DEMOCRACY CAMPAIGNERS
At least 66 people were executed in Iran in January alone according to official Iranian statistics. These included several pro-democracy campaigners, made an example by the regime as a warning to others. (These figures don’t include all those “unofficially” killed in Iranian prisons.)
Last week, the Dutch government recalled its ambassador from Tehran in protest against the hanging of a woman who held dual Dutch-Iranian citizenship.
Sahra Bahrami was originally arrested for her participation in anti-government rallies. Once Bahrami was incarcerated, drug smuggling charges against her were added (a measure typically used by the regime to smear dissidents) and became the basis upon which she was hanged on January 29 without prior notice to her family or to the Dutch government.
The latest point of contention is that Iranian officials buried her body a considerable distance from Tehran and failed to give her family notice and the opportunity to be present. The Dutch government recalled its ambassador for consultations – a traditional form of protest between governments – but he is expected to return to Tehran soon, according to Dutch media reports. (Here is a photo of Sahra Bahrami and a report before she was hanged.)
A GENUINE HUMAN RIGHTS GATHERING
As opposed to the human rights organizations that are largely phony (such as the UN Human Rights Commission) or politically biased against Western democracies (such as the George Soros and Saudi-funded New York-based organization Human Rights Watch), a group of genuine human rights organizations that have been excluded by the despots that run the UN Human Rights Commission will be holding a conference next month in Geneva.
(As I have already pointed out in these dispatches, both Tunisia and Egypt were elected members of the UN Human Rights Commission. In its reports, the commission complimented both regimes: Tunisia was praised for building “a legal and constitutional framework for the promotion and protection of human rights,” and Egypt was lauded for initiatives “taken in recent years as regards human rights, in particular the creation of human rights divisions within the ministries of Justice and Foreign Affairs.”)
The Geneva Summit will bring together many dissidents and plans to propose draft resolutions promoting democracy in an effort to persuade the UN Human Rights Commission to stop covering up for dictatorships.
Under the chairmanship of writer and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, participating groups include:
Darfur Peace and Development Center
Directorio Democratico Cubano
Initiatives for China
Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children
Stop Child Executions
Tibetan Women’s Association
Uighur American Congress
Speakers will include former political prisoners, including those from Roam Uganda, a gay rights organization based in Kampala; Luis Enrique Ferrer Garcia, who was jailed for 28 years for calling for democracy in Cuba; North Korean dissident Guang-il Jung, who was tortured and escaped from a labor camp; Caspian Makan of Iran, the fiancé of slain Iranian icon Neda Agha Soltan; Bo Kyi of Burma; and leading Turkmenistan human rights activist Farid Tukhbatullin.
Among other speakers who the organizers have yet to officially announce: Dalia Ziada from Egypt; Mohamad Mostafei, the recently-escaped Iranian lawyer who defended Sakineh, the woman condemned to death by stoning; and John Dau, a refugee from South Sudan, now building hospitals in his war-torn homeland.
Last year’s summit was praised by papers such as The Wall Street Journal and Italy’s La Stampa, but all but ignored by papers such as The New York Times and The Guardian.
Admission to the March 15 conference is free: www.genevasummit.org.
… AS OPPOSED TO THE UN AND HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Meanwhile, the U.N.’s 47-nation Human Rights Council – ever mute on Egypt, on Iran, and on pretty much every other country with major human rights violations – will open its main annual session next month. On the agenda: the Goldstone Report attacking Israel; the Flotilla Report attacking Israel; Professor Richard Falk’s new report calling for a new World Court advisory opinion on so-called Israeli Apartheid; and then some five new resolutions on the “gross abuses in the occupied territories,” including Jerusalem.
And as for Human Rights Watch, like Amnesty International, it often engages in good work. But this doesn’t excuse much of their political activity which has nothing to do with human rights or social well-being, and everything to do with supporting the aims of Hamas, the Iranian regime and other human rights abusers.
Among past dispatches on Human Rights Watch, please see:
Last year, Human Rights Watch apologized for “inappropriate, disparaging, inaccurate, condemnatory, intemperate personal attacks” on gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, after Tatchell criticized Islamic treatment of gays. Israel is still waiting for an apology from Human Rights Watch for the catalogue of lies they told about Israel, which lead to HRW board member Richard Goldstone to write the defamatory Goldstone Report accusing Israel of “possible crimes against humanity,” a term usually associated with Nazi Germany.
FIVE YEARS IN PRISON FOR HANDING OUT LEAFLETS
The following is a report you might not have seen elsewhere, from the world’s most populous Muslim nation, which is often hailed as a model Islamic democracy:
The Wall Street Journal (Asian edition) reports, February 8, 2011:
Blasphemy Sentence Sparks Riot in Indonesia
JAKARTA – Hundreds of protesters burned churches and attacked a courthouse in central Indonesia Tuesday after a Christian convicted of blasphemy against Islam was given what they considered a lenient sentence. The rioting was the latest in a string of incidents that’s raising fears about the influence of radical Islamic groups in a country aggressively trying to position itself as one of the world’s fastest-growing – and most stable – emerging markets.
Antonius Richmond Bawengan, 58, was sentenced to five years in prison for handing out leaflets and books that “spread hatred about Islam.” Many of the Islamic hardliners who had gathered near the Temanggung District Court in central Java for the verdict wanted the death penalty, though five years is the maximum sentence.
After angry protesters tried to grab Mr. Bawengan as he was taken from court, the police fired warning shots into the air. The crowd then spread through the neighborhood, setting fire to two churches and a police vehicle and throwing rocks at a third church.
UK ALLOWS MISLEADING PALESTINE AD, BUT BANS ISRAELI ONE
A group of British lawyers have made a formal complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority (which is an official British government body) about advertisements in British media that state that “Palestine” lies between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River (i.e. encompasses all of Israel).
The ASA have yet to respond even though last year they banned adverts in Britain by the Israeli Tourist Board that suggested the Western Wall and Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter were in Israel.
According to the complainant, the Palestine advert is “misleading.”
The complaint stated:
It gives the following false impressions:
- that Palestine is a country
- that Palestine has a long history
- that Jerusalem is part of Palestine
- that Palestine extends from the Mediterranean to the Jordan
- that Palestine is comfortable, stylish and fabulous (not what we have been led to believe by the BBC / Guardian and others)
For background, please see the dispatch last year titled: UK bans Israeli Western Wall tourism advert.
And you can see a picture of the banned Israeli advert here.
IN A VERY RARE MOVE, THE GUARDIAN APOLOGIZES FOR A STORY ABOUT ISRAEL
The Guardian has admitted misleading its readers with a quote attributed to Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni.
The paper acknowledged that the way it presented a quote from Livni about settlement policy was “cut in a way that may have given a misleading impression.”
In a box as part of its Palestine papers “exclusive” on January 26, which The Guardian titled “What they said,” The Guardian quoted Livni as saying:
“The Israel policy is to take more and more land day after day and that at the end of the day we’ll say that it is impossible, we already have the land and cannot create the state.”
In fact, in the full quote (not carried by The Guardian) Livni makes clear she is against settlement expansion in West Bank territories likely to form part of a future Palestinian state.
The Guardian has yet to correct the misquote in which they alleged that Livni stated she was “against international law”.
I commented on the story about Livni on the day it appeared, here: Al-Jazeera and The Guardian team up in apparent attempt to thwart two-state solution (Jan. 26, 2011).
MOST IDIOTIC COMMENT OF THE DAY
Naomi Wolf in The Huffington Post (the world’s second most read news website):
“Now that Egypt is in the throes of pro-democracy protest driven in large measure by WikiLeaks’ revelation in the [Guardian’s] Palestine Papers about U.S. manipulation of Palestine, surely one would expect key U.S. news organizations and journalists to rally prominently to the defense of the right to publish that that site represents.”