Monthly Archives: November 2007

Freedom Of Press Challenged In Turkey

The Turkish publisher of the best-selling book by Richard Dawkins may wind up in court for daring to publish a book written by an atheist. The prosecutor is investigating whether to charge publisher Erol Karaasian with getting out a book that supposedly incites religious hatred and insults religious values because Dawkins questions the existence of a God. As of this date, the book has sold about 6,000 copies in Turkey.

It is actions such as these which endanger the possibility that Turkey will be accepted into the European Union. The assumption of the Turkish prosecutor is that it is forbidden to insult religion, but perfectly legal to insult those who are atheists. As far as it is know, no Muslim author of leaflets and publications which preach hatred toward Jews or advocate suicide bombing which results in the death of innocent Muslim men, women, and children, has ever been threatened with inciting hatred or violating religious values. One assumes killing children is not justified under any ground in the Muslim religion. This incident also makes one wonder if the Turkish government has better things to do than pester a book publisher who sold 6,000 copies in a nation of millions. If Turkey does not accept European Union standards of freedom of speech and the press they will never be admitted. So, which is it–worry about a book selling 6,000 copies or get into the EU?

Syria Asks For Negotiations Over Golan Heights

The Syrian press urged Israel to enter into negotiations with its government in order to revolve the Golan Heights issue. Teshreen commented: “It is now vital to act seriously to put peace talks back on track. The alternative to this are dangerous to the region and the entire world.” The Syrians claimed they attended the Annapolis conference in order to test America’s sincerity towards peace in the Middle East. Meanwhile, Hammas which had been barred from the meeting, came out with another bombastic statement urging the UN to end the partition of Palestine and return to some sort of other condition. One can only wonder if such statements would have come from Hammas if their representatives were in a room filled with Arab leaders who are tired of the perennial problem of Palestine and Israel. Bush and Rice blundered by not inviting Hamas since that organization would have moderated their rhetoric and spoken in a more sensible manner. Syria is now speaking about peace and most probably is ready to recognize the existence of Israel if they can achieve successful negotiations. Perhaps, Rice and Bush could learn from this example that talk, talk, is always better than war, war.

Philippine Coup Fails-Corruption Continues!

Philippine troops and SWAT teams stormed a five-star hotel that dissident military officers had commandeered after walking out of a coup trial. The military officers have insisted their aim is to end the blatant corruption of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s government. They want her to resign in order to create a government that is both legitimate and honest. Their coup was supported by several political leaders including former Vice President Teofisto Guingona. Arroyo in a defiant response said the coup members would be held “accountable” and there would be swift justice. The coup members had literally walked out of their trial accompanied by dozens of military sympathizers including General Danio Lim and went to the hotel. They claim Arroyo stole an election and has been manipulating the political process since taking office.

Unfortunately, the Philippines has been the scene of continual fights over the honesty of its government. This has led members of the military to become involved in political affairs. The nation confronts a Muslim led insurgency in southern regions which has gone on for years. In the midst of this problem is the ongoing belief that President Arroyo is doling out money to politicians and has allowed corruption to become a hallmark of her administration.

Muslim Insurgents In South Thailand Continue Brutality

The ongoing insurgency in south Thailand which contains the nation’s largest center of Muslims continues to demonstrate brutality and callousness toward human life. The rebellion which began in 2004 when Muslims claimed they were being oppressed by the Buddhist majority has resulted in widespread atrocities committed against not merely members of the Thai armed forces, but against fellow Muslims. yesterday, insurgents took a Muslim man they accused of being a police spy and hacked his body with knives, then drove six-inch nails through is head, arms, and legs before transforming the body into a Christ like symbol of one who has been crucified. Later, insurgent kidnapped two fishmongers and after shooting them, took off their heads.

The south Thailand rebellion has mainly been fought with guns and knives rather than with economic, political and social programs which would address needs of the majority of people. The use of violence invariably results in more violence. It is about time the Thai government drew upon support from Indonesian Muslim leaders in order to deal with issues that arise from economic, religious and political issues.

Indonesian Muslim Clerics Demand Freedom Of Expression

Indonesia’s two largest Muslim organizations criticized the Religious Affairs Ministry for barring a liberal Egyptian Islamic thinker from addressing an international youth conference in East Java. Din Syamusuddin, Chair of Muhammadiyah, who is a noted professor of Islamic thought, commented: “his visit should have instead been used for tabayyun(clarification) with Abu Zayd to find the truth about his Islamic thoughts. We should have discussed this kind of issue in a forum or debate with broad-mindness and tolerance.” Abu Zayd has been attacked in Egypt for arguing the Koran should be regarded as a cultural document The leader of Nahdiatul Ulama, Masdar Farid Mas’udi, also expressed concern over the ban. “I am not interested in judging whether Abu Zayd’s Islamic thought is right or heretic… but I think it’s not wise to promote an excessive suspicion of new things considered to be violating the mainstream view.” Both men expressed dismay that the Indonesian government was allowing extremist Muslim groups to dominate a religious dialogue.

The American media attempts to portray Muslims as being completely under the control of extremist religious fanatics. Indonesia is the largest Muslim nation in the world and its two largest Muslim organizations made a strong stand for religious freedom. Will their expressions of religious toleration be reported on Fox News?

Israel-Palestinian Press Reports Death Before Birth

There was widespread consensus among leading Israel and Arab newspapers that Annapolis was anything but a rousing success. In the Israeli Yediot Ahronot, columnist Nahum Barnes noted that nothing less than a “miracle would be required” for a Palestinian state to be created by the end of 2008. Its military expert blasted Olmert for placing restrictions on the military in dealing with the Gaza situation. Maariv, the nation’s second largest newspaper commented in an editorial that “peace agreed for the cameras” and the main achievment was helping Olmert make it through another year in office. It commented that Defense Minister Ehud Barak, “knows that the chances for a peace treaty in a year as as great as Olmert being elected US president next November.”

According to the Arab newspaper, Al-Quds Al-Arabi, “the only success at Annapolis is that the conference took place.” It caustically claimed Olmert was the winner since the world now regards nuclear power Israel which has imprisoned 11,000 Palestinians as a fighter for peace. According to experts, the overall conclusion being drawn by Israel and Arab newspapers is that Annapolis in the long run will have proved to do more harm than good.

NATO Planes Blast Friendly Workers–Again!

A recurring problem for NATO forces fighting in Afghanistan is there continual failure to distinguish between friendly and unfriendly forces in the nation. NAT) planes on the search for the Taliban, blasted a target that contained people engaged in an American work project. After the bombing ceased, 14 Afghans were dead. According to Sayed Jalili, director of the Kabul-basec construction company, “I don’t think the Americans were targeting our people. I’m sure it’s the enemy of the Afghan who gave the Americans the wrong information.” This has been the deadliest year for the Afghan people since being liberated from the Taliban with 6,000 people killed, including over 800 civilians. NATO command sources insisted they were bombing enemy forces, but admitted, “the situation is not clear at all at this stage. We are carrying out the investigation and trying to get a clear picture.” War is confusing and rarely tidy. Combat operations usually entail a degree of ambiguity, but NATO forces have repeatedly killed innocent people and, in so doing, caused great stress among Afghan leaders who really want to cooperate with their allies, but not at the price of their own people.

The bottom line is that NATO and foreign troops in Afghanistan have come under scathing criticism since the beginning of the year for carrying out air strikes based on poor intelligence that have resulted in the death of many civilians. Perhaps, it is time to re-evaluate the use of so many air attacks.

Greenlanders–We’re For Global Warming!

In most parts of the world, the threat of global warming is viewed in distressing terms, but to the people of Greenland, it may well bring a new surge of prosperity. Climate changes and melting ice enable farmers and fishermen to engage in agricultural activities that previously have been closed. Vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, potatoes and strawberries may shortly become Greenland staples that are even shipped to all corners of the world. Bent Olesen has even built a greenhouse where he intends to grow lettuce, tomatoes, and even bananas. The government expects within the coming years that Greenlanders will be able to raise cattle and pigs.

Ironically, global warming does have benefits to people throughout the world. At present, people in Greenland must import fruits and vegetables, but their children undoubtedly will be raising those products– and even exporting them. Unfortunately, as the economy of Greenland benefits, other areas of the world like North Africa may well be suffering under drought conditions.

Did US Military Aid Kurdish Insurgents?

A former member of the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party(PKK) told Turkish authorities he had been at insurgent camps where American military personnel visited and discussed topics with senior commanders. He had been a truck driver in Iraq who was captured by the Iraqis and turned over to Turkey. He claimed to see high ranking US military officers in the camp, “they (US officers) used to come and go in a regular basis. However, only senior members were admitted to the meetings so I don’t know about details.” A spokesperson for the US Embassy in Athens termed his remarks as “ridiculous” and claimed there was absolutely no evidence such meetings had ever taken place.

The testimony of a truck driver undoubtedly can not be taken at face value, but there are several unanswered question which still haven’t been cleared up by the American government. Turkish soldiers captured PKK insurgents who were carrying American made weapons which most probably originally were sent to Iraq. It is possible Iraqis could have stolen and sold the weapons to the PKK. The PKK is part of a widespread Kurdish rebellion and a portion of that group is engaged in military activities against Iran. There have been rumors CIA agents were assisting the Kurdish group fighting against Iran. At this point, one can not definitely conclude there has been collusion between American agents and the PKK, but the issue still has yet to be resolved.

Is Paris Burning? Sarkozy Blunder Helped Make It Happen!

Massive police reinforcement led by Prime Minister Francois Fillon in person tried to halt the spread of violence in the nation’s capital. Cars and shops continued being set ablaze, but there was nothing like the bloody shootings on Monday which left 82 police officers wounded, including four on the critical list. Despite a momentary lull, many are awaiting further attacks from infuriated Muslim youths, most in their teens, who fought the police and even burned down a library. Two years after the riots of 2005, France again confronts angry, alienated youth. Even politicians from Sarkozy’s own party are citing a decision made by him when Minister of the Interior which played a role in the rioting. At that time, Sarkozy abolished local police units in the suburbs and replaced them with flying squads composed mostly of riot police. The appearance of any police now triggers emotions that outside forces are entering the area to deal with violence.

Hughes Portelli, the mayor of Elmont, said, “We ned to have the local police back…in my town we know very well that there is no point in calling in some CRS(riot police) units. They only provoke a fight.” In America, the emphasis on local police establishing relations with people in a community has proven an important factor in preventing riots and violence. The French might learn from the American experience.