2008-01-28

Morning Report: January 27, 2008

The thugs in Tehran stay busy, Palestinian officials like to create a little atmosphere, and more.

And their beards have all grown longer overnight. The Spirit of Man: 'I want you, if you're a supporter of the Islamic regime of Iran, to explain to me how this vast banning of independent or so-called reformist candidates in Iran by the Islamic regime is a democratic move and can lead to freedom and democracy. How can you call Iran a democratic country when the mullahs don't even trust their own?! How is it democratic for the regime to ban those people it doesn't approve?' What's he on about? Here's the Telegraph on Ebrahim Lotf-Allahi:
The death of a student in the custody of Iranian intelligence officers has provoked outrage among opponents of the regime, who claim it is part of a concerted crackdown on dissent in the run-up to parliamentary elections.

Ebrahim Lotf-Allahi, a fourth year law student, was buried before his family could see his body.

They later discovered that the grave had been filled with cement, apparently to prevent his body being exhumed for medical examination.

Student leaders say 150 students have been arrested so far this year and 60 remain in prison.

Iranian authorities claim that Mr Lotf-Allahi committed suicide after he was arrested in the city of Sanandaj, but his is the second suspicious death in custody in the city in just over a month.

In December a young woman doctor, Zahra Bani Yaghoub, died after she was arrested for walking in a park with a man to whom she was not related.

Her family say that bruises on her body suggested she had been beaten while in custody.

And here's Reuters on Iran's purge: 'About 40 percent of the 7,200 people who have registered to run in Iran's March parliament election "have a record" with the authorities, a senior official said Monday, an indication they would not be allowed to run.' Amir Taheri has a few thoughts. 'The Council of the Guardians of the Constitution, a 12-man committee of mullahs and their legal advisers, this week rejected applications from nearly 4,000 men and women to run in the March 14 general election. Nearly all the denied applicants belong to the 21 groups designated by Western observers as "reformist" opponents of the ultra-radical President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The list of the rejected reads like a Who's-Who of politicians regarded by many in the West as "moderates" who would put the regime on a less confrontational trajectory. It includes individuals who served under Presidents Hashemi Rafsanjani and Muhammad Khatami, as well as scores of former members of the Islamic Consultative Assembly (Majlis), the 290-seat ersatz parliament set up by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1980.' Read the rest at the link. Winston at The Spirit of Man quotes the following passage from Taheri:
More regime opponents were killed or thrown into prison under Rafsanjani and Khatami than under Ahmadinejad. And both "reformers" tried to export the Khomeinist revolution via agents and clients in many Muslim countries, especially in the Middle East.

Winston adds simply: 'Islamic regime reformers and hardliners have no differences. They're the same.' For the benefit of Farsi readers, I'm also including Winston's comments in Persian:

اسهال طلب و محافظه کار در جمهوری اسلامی با هم هیچ فرقی ندارند. همه مثل هم هستند و در جنایتهای این رژیم کثیف همدست و شریک. رای و رای گیری در این انتخابات نمایشی هم فقط به طول عمر این رژیم اسلامی و غیر انسانی کمک میکنه. یادمون نره که اسهال طلبهای امروزی همون افرادی هستند که از دیوار سفارت امریکا بالا رفتند و در اعدامهای دهه 60 نقش افرینی کردند. نباید به عناصر جمهوری اسلامی اعتماد کرد


Bangladesh Christian woman burned for seeking baptism. Muslims Against Sharia: 'DHAKA, BANGLADESH (BosNewsLife) -- A 70-year old woman remained in critical condition Sunday, January 27, in Bangladesh after suspected Muslim extremists reportedly tried to burn her alive to prevent her from being baptized as a Christian. Rahima Beoa, who was planning to be baptized on February 13 in Muslim-majority Rangpur district, 248 kilometers (154miles) northwest of the capital Dhaka, suffered burns on 70 percent of her body, reported Compass Direct News, a Christian news agency investigating reports of persecution.'

Barcelona terror plot foiled. Fausta: 'Fourteen men have been arrested in Spain for planning terrorist attacks in Spain, Portugal, France, and Germany. The operation was credited to Pakistani Islamist al-Qaeda warlord Baitullah Mehsud, the man behing Benazir Bhutto's murder.' Full details at the link, and don't forget to bookmark Fausta.

A solution to the Gaza crisis (that will never be implemented). Volokh:
Sixty years ago, when Egypt occupied Gaza, it refused to grant the local Arab residents, native Gazans and refugees from the Arab-Israeli war of 1947-48, citizenship. Instead, the Egyptian government intentionally cut them off from Egypt and kept them impoverished, so they could be used as a propaganda and military weapon against Israel. When Israel took over Gaza in 1967, it opened the border with Israel, providing tens of thousands of jobs for Gazans, and increasing the standard of living there dramatically, albeit from very low levels. After a wave of suicide attacks from Gaza, Israel gradually closed off the border with Israel, and finally closed it off entirely when Hamas took over last year. Meanwhile, Israel no longer occupies Gaza, and the population has sunken back into abject poverty.

With the Gazan's breach of the border with Egypt, and Egypt's refusal to use force to seal the border, things have come full circle. It's time to ask why Egypt, with 80 million people, can't grant Gaza's one million full Egyptian citizenship, and allow them to live in Sinai or even Cairo instead of being stuck in Gaza.

No mystery that one, I'm afraid. Michael Totten: 'It will never be implemented because it would require a more humane and intelligent world, and because it would threaten “the cause.” The well-being of the Palestinian people never really had much to do with that cause.'

Palestinian journalists admit candlelight parliament photo staged. Also from Totten, what's wrong with this picture? Khaled Abu Toameh at JPost: 'campaign to end the political and economic sanctions against the Gaza Strip, Palestinian journalists said Wednesday. In the first case, journalists who were invited to cover the Hamas government meeting were surprised to see Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and his ministers sitting around a table with burning candles. In the second case on Tuesday, journalists noticed that Hamas legislators who were meeting in Gaza City also sat in front of burning candles. But some of the journalists noticed that there was actually no need for the candles because both meetings were being held in daylight.'

IRI propagandist Shariatmadari: Supporting Israel will cost US property and lives. This and other pleasantries were the subject matter of an op-ed in Iran's daily Kayhan, according to MEMRI:
The slaughter being carried out by the Zionists in Gaza – which includes the mass murder of Palestinian men, women, and children, cutting off the electricity, water, and fuel, stopping the supply of medicines and food products – along with various other savage crimes, is disgraceful for the Zionists, and for America and its European allies.

"However, it is even more embarrassing and disgraceful for, first and foremost, the heads of several Islamic countries, [including] Egypt, that is insisting on adhering to the abject Camp David Accords and closing the Rafah border crossing [to the Palestinians]; for the cowardly and characterless rulers of Bahrain and the U.A.E., who awarded a prize to the murderer [i.e. President Bush] of the oppressed Palestinian people during his recent trip to the region; and for the Saudi [royal] family, that bears the appellation 'Custodian of the Two Holy Places' but is indifferent to the crimes and violations of the infidel Zionists in the Muslim holy places, and so on.

"But aren't most of the sensitive centers of the Zionists, of the Americans, and of some European states that support Israel already situated within the arms' reach of the Muslims? And aren't the Zionists [vulnerable] and located within arms' reach of the Muslims at the four corners of the earth?

Don't stop there; he's really on a roll. Go read it all at the link.

Surprise, asshole. Fox News: 'Saddam Hussein allowed the world to believe he had weapons of mass destruction to deter rival Iran and did not think the United States would stage a major invasion, according to an FBI interrogator who questioned the Iraqi leader after his capture. Saddam expected only a limited aerial attack by the United States and thought he could remain in control, the FBI special agent, George Piro, told CBS's "60 Minutes" program in an interview to be broadcast Sunday. "He told me he initially miscalculated ... President Bush's intentions," said Piro. "He thought the United States would retaliate with the same type of attack as we did in 1998 ... a four-day aerial attack." ' File that one under "Oops."

Memory lane. Azarmehr remembers the good old days of free speech in the UK. Just try that now.

Commentary. For President George W. Bush's final State of the Union address, Walid Phares at Conterterrorism Blog wants to hear the following:
* Define the enemy, clearly and strategically. For the changes in definitions over the past seven years have left the public in quest for a definitive knowledge about who are we fighting and why. The last year of the Presidency must help the next White House to engage in successful a war of ideas instead of a continuous search for the identity of the enemy.

* A vision as to the future of US role in Iraq and the strategies to follow.

* A vision as to the future of US role in Afghanistan and the campaign against al Qaeda and the Taliban including the measures to be taken regarding Pakistan's crisis.

* A plan regarding the [threats] developed by the Iranian and Syrian regimes and guidelines regarding Lebanon and Hezbollah.

* A platform regarding the Homeland Security strategy for the future and the threat of domestic Jihadism.

Now here's Small Wars Journal on training a hybrid warrior for tomorrow's world:
Speaking at the International Seapower Symposium on 17 October 2007, General Conway discussed the Marine Corps’ role in the new maritime strategy. Looking from the present to the years 2020-2025, the Commandant echoed oft repeated trends: that the average age in developed nations will continue to grow older while underdeveloped nations will grow younger, creating a population of military age males for whom employment opportunities will be scarce; that 75-80% of the world’s population will move towards an “urban sprawl” adjacent to a sea coast; and that state conflicts will continue to grow more rare as transnational and regional conflicts increase in scope and frequency. Largely due to these trends, the Commandant also spoke about the continuing likelihood of Marines being involved in complex irregular wars or what multiple experts have begun calling “hybrid” wars. (1)

As we enter the seventh year of “The Long War” the implications of these trends seem particularly significant, especially when, as the Commandant stated, one appreciates that a lot of “blue” exists on the map around the “Arc of Instability.” It may be that the fight ahead will include many “Small Wars,” fought amidst the remains of the old Islamic Caliphate. In the face of such a potential challenge, there has never been a more acute need for a “hybrid warrior,” possessing a mind capable of operating in timeless environments, conventional and irregular.

Okay, so much for your daily dose of doctrine. Now about today's items. Our friend Mr. Shariatmadari has helpfully illustrated Volokh's and Totten's point about the propaganda value of the Gaza strip. This is why those Palestinian MP's are willing to sit around looking like doofuses, lighting candles like it's a John Lennon memorial, and praying that the evil Jews don't take it into their crafty little heads to wonder why they've got the curtains closed in broad daylight.

2008-01-26

Weekend Roundup

Denver Post:
COLORADO SPRINGS — M. Zuhdi Jasser said he is tired of being asked how American Muslims will vote this presidential election.

The Phoenix-based founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy said he doesn't believe there is such a thing as a Muslim voting bloc, or anything monolithic about Muslims in America.

Furthermore, Jasser said, almost seven years after the 9/11 attacks, Americans still don't understand they are not fighting a war on terrorism.

"Terrorism is a tactic. To call this a war against terrorism doesn't make sense," Jasser said Wednesday. "Muslim terrorists have a goal, and that is Islamic theocracy. "

It should be seen as a war against theocracy, Jasser said. ...

Go to the link for the rest.

Log Cabin Republicans, via e-mail release:
Log Cabin is pleased to announce that former UN Ambassador John Bolton will be speaking at the 2008 Log Cabin Republicans National Convention in San Diego. Ambassador Bolton is a leading voice in American foreign policy. He's not afraid to stand up for his beliefs and speak candidly about our role in the world today. We encourage all Log Cabin members to register now for San Diego so you can hear first hand Ambassador Bolton's insightful views on American foreign policy. If you hurry, you can still save $70 by registering for the convention today!

Don’t miss the opportunity to hear Ambassador Bolton talk about the challenges our country faces abroad from regimes that proliferate weapons of mass destruction, suppress democracy and pose threats to the United States and its allies.

The convention is April 10-13, 2008 in San Diego, CA.


Azarmehr
One must not always criticise without giving credit when it is due. There has been some worthwhile improvements in VOA Persian programs recently. Most noteworthy was a very professionally managed program presented by Shahla Arasteh who had invited Gene Sharp as her guest. The program started with some good background footage in civil disobedience, appropriate questions were asked in a coherent manner by the presenter, and professionally interpreted from Persian to English and vice versa.

Also what I liked was how an IRI plant intent on causing embarrassment during the first call was quickly recognised and dealt with quickly. ...

Read the rest at the link.

Ocean Guy makes a compelling case against term limits:
I’ve written numerous times about my opposition to term limits legislation applied to elected officials. The ballot box should be all the power we need to “t’row da bums out.” Having lived in two different European countries, Italy and England, and having served as the US representative to a European based international organization, I have witnessed the problems caused by civil servants accumulating too much power and influence. If we decide to place term limits on our elected officials we will simply invite the congressional staffers to take more and more authority and power than a government elected by the people, for the people should have. ...


Syria regime blasted by David Satterfield, Bernard Kouchner, and ... John Kerry?

Yup. Here it is at Across the Bay:
"Syria must be held accountable"

In an interview with UPI, Satterfield said: "The Syrian government bears responsibility for the political crisis in Lebanon, and is obstructing the election of a new president in order to peddle its demands in that country, seeking to restore its hegemony over it. This behavior is rejected by us and is unacceptable to the democratic majority in Lebanon itself, and should be rejected also by the region and the international community."

He added that Syria must be held accountable "for its obstruction of the election of a president for Lebanon and preventing the Lebanese from deciding their own future by themselves."

Regarding the recent meeting between President Bush and Syrian dissidents, Satterfield said that the meeting "reflects our interest in supporting the voices calling for change and freedom and democracy in Syria." ...

Kouchner: Talks with Syria lead nowhere

Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner also lambasted the Syrians for their subversive interference in Lebanon, and acknowledged what we've been saying all along, that talking to Syria leads absolutely nowhere. Engagement with Syria has always been and continues to be a disastrous failure. ...

Go to the post for the whole thing, and don't miss the exchange between Senator John Kerry and "Bashar groupie, propagandist and court biographer, David Lesch", where you can find out in what context Tony Bey reports that "Kerry then cut through the BS".

Yes, really.

In any case, it's good to see the likes of Bernard Kouchner, David Satterfield, and even Senator Kerry agreeing on the need to get serious about Syria. As Tony says, "Onward with the tribunal -- full throttle. Let's get those indictments."

Transsexual neocon Zoe at A. E. Brain clears up a few points:
1. First, we're all human beings. That needs saying because we too often lose sight of the fact that everyone, even those we don't identify with, even those we feel uncomfortable being around, have human rights. And I speak as a conservative neo-con, not a tree-hugging kumbayah-singing liberal.

2. Then some of us are GLBT - people who do not fit in in some way with the standard bigendered model, where men look and act in accordance with society's norm for men and are only attracted to women, and women look and act accordance with society's norm for women and are only attracted to men. About the only thing such people have in common with each other is that it's the same people who persecute them. Many in this conglomerate - that is, a matrix containing parts of very different nature - don't remotely understand each other, and there's both phobia - fear - and loathing even when they do understand.

There's Androphobic Lesbians who see men, even Gay men, as a threat, Gynaphobic Gays who see anything redolent of femininity as beneath contempt, Homophobic Transsexuals who resent being conflated with those they see as morally corrupt, you name it. And straight Intersexed people who don't see why having an unusual medical condition automatically drafts them into a political activist group made up of weirdoes like mentally ill Transsexuals, Fetishistic Crossdressers, and perverted GLBs.

3. The there are some who are T. This is where it really gets confusing. T for Transgender. And what that word means changes from day to day. ...

Go read it all.

Strategy Page:
But the Internet also spreads technical knowledge, and the growth of higher education, and the economy (which continues to expand at 10-11 percent a year) is being used to provide China with more military power. The government believes that, in the next few years, China will surpass South Korea in technical abilities, and Germany in GDP. While China is still a minor player in the world of military high tech, the government is putting lots of money and effort into changing this. Expensive, and long term, efforts are being made to produce high tech items like jet engines, missiles and military electronics. At the current rate of progress, Chinese military technology will match that of the United States in a decade or so.


Strategy Page:
January 20, 2008: Israel conducted another test of its Jericho 3 ballistic missile on January 17th. This missile went into production last year, after three years, of reports that it was close to entering service. With a range of nearly 5,000 kilometers, the Jericho 3 can drop a nuke anywhere in the Middle East. The Jericho 3 is apparently a variant of the Shavit satellite launcher. The Jericho is a 30 ton, solid fuel, two stage missile, with a half ton payload. Israel is believed to have 50-100 of the shorter range Jericho 2. This is a 26 ton missile with a max range of about 1,500 kilometers. The Jericho 2 was the basis for the Shavit satellite launcher, which has put several satellites in orbit since 1995. The Jericho 1, developed with French assistance, entered service in 1973. This 500 kilometers range missile was replaced by the 1,400 kilometers range Jericho 2, which entered service in 1989.

Egg Against a Rock

The Belmont Club considers a hypothetical Chinese attack.
But these would take out only a fraction of American combat power. Most US strength is deployed far back. Nor does it take into account the very considerable combat power of Japan and Korea, which if once deployed, would a force to reckon with. In fact, Chinese military planners have expressed the professional opinion that any such surprise attacks would be like “throwing an egg against a rock.” If so, why are the Chinese even contemplating such scenarios?

Because the American public is “abnormally sensitive” about military casualties, according to an article in China’s Liberation Army Daily, killing U.S. airmen or other personnel would spark a “domestic anti-war cry” on the home front and possibly force early withdrawal of U.S. forces.

He's quoting Roger Cliff in AIM Points Magazine.

Remarks. I recently mentioned the evolving Iran-Russia-China axis with a link from FrontPage Magazine:
Iran is rightly portrayed as one of the most pressing threats to the United States and her interests. But Iran remains in many respects a piece on the chessboard of a greater Russian and Chinese game.

Iran seeks greater power and regional dominance and enjoys the support of both Russia and China in its pursuits. Both afford Iran the protection of cover and interference at the UN Security Council and other diplomatic endeavors, allowing Iran to continue its nuclear efforts under a fairly comfortable security blanket.

For Russia, already sitting atop a major portion of the world's oil reserves, the gains are monetary and psychological, with Iran as a major arms client as well as its principle client in Russia's lucrative nuclear construction and supply market. The Bushehr plant construction alone was a $1 billion dollar deal, with the potential prospects of more in the relatively near future.

For China, the issue is one of energy. Just as the Russian supply of nuclear fuel began transit preparations within hours of the release of the December Iran NIE, China in turn immediately signed a massive long-term energy deal with Iran worth billions. Before the NIE, there was hesitance from China in signing an open deal. The United States in particular had made specific demands for more sanctions against a recalcitrant Iran as well as public calls for other nations to specifically stop making energy agreements until Iran complies. Signing the energy deal before hand would have meant strained relations with lucrative trading partners and potential economic damage. China was patient, as it always is. And the NIE afforded them the diplomatic cover necessary to ink the deal, affording the oil-starved dragon energy relief and enriching the Iranian regime during economic plight.


What remains to be seen is whether the American public of the 21st century will prove as pliant as our adversaries imagine. I'm betting they've got us figured wrong.

2008-01-21

Zero Dimensional

“No, I mean they would kill me.”

There are problems, and then there are problems.

Nicholas Kulish, writing in the New York Times' Berlin Journal, tells us about the lives of gay Muslims in Europe, as seen at a gay dance club in Berlin.
But most of the people filling the dance floor on Saturday at the club SO36 in the Kreuzberg neighborhood were gay, lesbian or bisexual, and of Turkish or Arab background. They were there for the monthly club night known as Gayhane, an all-too-rare opportunity to merge their immigrant cultures and their sexual identities.
Well, that's nice. But there are a few harsh realities to be dealt with. Here's how Kulish explains it:

European Muslims, so often portrayed one-dimensionally as rioters, honor killers or terrorists, live diverse lives, most of them trying to get by and to have a good time. That is more difficult if one is both Muslim and gay.

Our friend Nicholas Kulish wants you to know he won't have any of this nasty stereotyping; far be it from the New York Times to portray Muslims - one-dimensionally or otherwise - as honor killers or terrorists. So we learn that
To be a gay man or lesbian with an immigrant background invites trouble here in two very different ways.

“Depending on which part of Berlin I go to, in one I get punched in the mouth because I’m a foreigner and in the other because I’m a queen,” said Fatma Souad, the event’s organizer and master of ceremonies.

And these two things are exactly equal to one another, right? But there's something odd going on here:
But gay men and lesbians from Muslim families say they face extraordinary discrimination at home. A survey of roughly 1,000 young men and women in Berlin, released in September and widely cited in the German press, found much higher levels of homophobia among Turkish youth.

You don't say?
Hatin Sürücü was shot dead at a bus stop in Berlin, Germany, on February 7. The 23-year-old Turkish woman was mourned by the lesbian and gay community, but not by her family. Deutsche Welle reports:
To the people who came to this bleak part of Berlin's Tempelhof district for Tuesday's solemn vigil -- called not by the city's Muslim community but a gay and lesbian organization -- the image of the young woman in a headscarf, a baby in her arms, was familiar from newspapers and television. A few notes at the memorial read, "Hope you get a better deal in your next life," and "Live a life on your own terms."

"It's a scandal," said Ali K, 33. "All Muslims in Berlin should take to the streets to protest." Yasemin, 22, said, "It's horrific. All Hatin was doing was leading her life the way she wanted."

But it was a choice she paid for with her life. On Feb. 7, 23-year-old Hatin Sürücü was gunned down at the aforementioned bus stop. She died on the spot. Shortly afterwards, three of her brothers -- who reportedly had long been threatening her -- were arrested. Investigators suspect it was a so-called "honor killing," given the fact that Sürücü's ultra-conservative Turkish-Kurdish family strongly disapproved of her modern and "un-Islamic" life.

Sürücü grew up in Berlin and was married off at 16 to a cousin in Istanbul. ...

Here's more from the DW article on Hatin Sürücü:
Days after Hatin Sürücü was killed, some male students of Turkish origin at a high school near the scene of the crime reportedly downplayed the act. During a class discussion on the murder, one said, "She (Hatin Sürücü) only had herself to blame," while another remarked "She deserved what she got --the whore lived like a German." The school's director promptly dashed off a letter to parents and students, castigating the students and warning that the school didn’t tolerate incitement against freedom.

Oh, but wait. Silly me. I've gotten distracted. We were talking about the wonderful gay night life in Berlin. Let's get back to Nicholas Kulish. Now where were we? Ah, yes, "... much higher levels of homophobia among Turkish youth."
“These differences are there,” said Bernd Simon, who led the study and is a professor of social psychology at Christian-Albrechts-University in Kiel. “We can’t deny them. The question is how do we cope with them.”

“The answer is not to replace homophobia with Islamophobia,” he added, pointing out that homophobia is also higher among Russian immigrants and in other, less urban parts of Germany.

Well that certainly is enlightening. "The answer is not to replace homophobia with Islamophobia," the good professor instructs us. Homophobia, islamophobia ... six of one, half a dozen of the other. And we may not know what the answer is (Professor Simon hasn't even attempted to answer his own question) but at least we know what it is not. I feel better already.

But what are those gay Muslims themselves saying?
Kader Balcik, a 22-year-old Turk from Hamburg, said: “For us, for Muslims, it’s extremely difficult. When you’re gay, you’re immediately cut off from the family.”

He had recently moved to Berlin not long after being cut off from his mother because he is bisexual. “A mother who wishes death for her son, what kind of mother is that?” he asked, his eyes momentarily filling with tears.

Hasan, a 21-year-old Arab man, sitting at a table in the club’s quieter adjoining cafe, declined to give his last name, saying: “They would kill me. My brothers would kill me.” Asked if he meant this figuratively, he responded, “No, I mean they would kill me.”

And so, at the end of his 1100-word opus, Nicolas Kulish has his epiphany. Like a sort of reverse Balaam, he wanted to say only nice things about gay life for Muslims in Germany. But reality had other ideas.

***

Last week, two young lives were snuffed out in Texas.
Yaser Abdel Said, 50, was wanted on a warrant for capital murder after police say he shot the girls Tuesday and left them to die in his taxi, which was found parked in front a hotel in Las Colinas, a suburb north of Dallas. Police said Mr. Said should be considered armed and dangerous.

Friends of Amina Yaser Said, 18, and Sarah Yaser Said, 17, described the girls to the Dallas Morning News as "extremely smart — like geniuses," saying the slain sisters had been enrolled in advanced placement classes and were active in soccer and tennis at suburban Lewisville High School.

While police refused to discuss a possible motive for the crimes, family and friends told reporters that the girls' Westernized lifestyle caused conflict with their Muslim father, who immigrated from Egypt in the 1980s.

This comes on the heels of the murder of Aqsa Parvez in Canada last month.
A 16-year-old girl is dead and her father has been charged with murder after an attack in a Mississauga home.

Aqsa Parvez, a student at Applewood Heights Secondary School, had been on life support in hospital since yesterday morning.

Police went to the family's two-storey home on Longhorn Trail about 8 a.m. yesterday after receiving a 911 call in which a man allegedly claimed to have killed his daughter.

Paramedics found Aqsa with a faint pulse and rushed her to hospital. She was later transferred to a Toronto hospital and placed on life support.

Peel police said this morning that she died overnight.

Friends at the victim’s school said she feared her father and had argued over her desire to shun the hijab, a traditional shoulder-length head scarf worn by females in devout Muslim families.


Here's Phyllis Chesler:
Just yesterday, an Egyptian Arab Muslim father in Dallas, Texas allegedly shot his two beautiful teenage daughters to death because he disapproved of their American-style ways. Their names were Amina and Sarah Said and their father’s name was Abdul Said. The girls looked sassy and full of life; they looked like Dallas teenagers. They were 17 and 18 years old and their friends considered them “geniuses.” Abdul was a taxi driver. (In parts of Europe, taxi drivers are known to aid and abet honor murders).

Perhaps how Amina and Sarah dressed, and how they thought, shamed their father Abdul. He was no longer in control of his women—a mark of shame which provoked his need to kill them. Perhaps their flowering sexuality enraged him because it made him desire them—and from this he concluded that other men might desire them too and if he could not have them, no man could.
The blogs and the local Texas media (the Dallas Morning News) were all over this. Hot Air, Atlas Shrugs, Jihad Watch, were too. The only national coverage of this story was contained in the Washington Times. Why did the national and international media so far shy clear of this story? Perhaps they chose to dig deeper first or maybe they were waiting for an arrest to be made. But one also wonders: Were they afraid of being accused of “Islamophobia” if they reported the truth?

There's that word again. Where is all this islamophobia coming from, anyway? Via Muslims Against Sharia, here's an article in the Yemen Times arguing unironically that there must be violence against women:
This title may sound strange, but it’s actually not just a way to attract readers to the topic because I really do mean what it indicates. Violence is a broad term, especially when used regarding women. In this piece, I want to shed light on those instances where violence against women is a must. ...

Perhaps Abdul Said, fine upstanding chap that he is, was just doing his Islamic duty. We know he was a good Egyptian Muslim; perhaps of the same moral fiber as those Egypt-based internet users who populate my site statistics with searches like "egypt women fuck", "pics of egyption woman for fuck", "egyptian fucking pictures", "fucking girls from egypt", "fucking egyptian girls", and similarly inspiring sentiments. Or perhaps there's some profound cultural and moral value that's being upheld by the sexual harassment of women in Egypt. But I'm digressing again.

And I'm probably being unfair by picking on the Egyptians, so I'll turn now to Irshad Manji, a lesbian Muslim of South Asian background, on Aqsa Parvez:
Aqsa Parvez told friends and adults at her public high school that she feared what her father would do if she stuck by her decision to reject the hijab — the Islamic headscarf. She also said it’s better to live in a shelter than at home.

Nobody listened. Now she’s dead.

Moderate Muslims have warned that we shouldn’t leap to conclusions. Who knows what other dynamics infected her family, spout hijab-hooded mouthpieces on Canadian TV. Not once have I heard these upstanding Muslims say that whatever the “family dynamics,” killing is not a solution. Ever. How’s that for basic morality?

Irshad goes on to make an important point: even "progressive" non-Muslims fall into the trap of confusing the hijab (which Irshad contends is itself of pre-Muslim, tribal origin) with the basic Muslim injunction to "dress modestly".

And this brings us to the idea expressed in the title of Irshad's post - "Covering up the diversity of Muslim women." By refusing to see women in the Muslim world as individuals with hopes, needs, fears, dreams, and faces of their own, the self-styled "progressive" left buys into the notion of women as objects - expressions of an exotic oriental culture more primitive, and yet somehow ineffably wiser, than our own, decadent, materialistic, industrialist Western world.

***
Times Online reports: Woman artist gets death threats over gay Muslim photos.
THE Dutch were debating the limits of freedom of expression last week after an artist who photographed gay men wearing masks of the prophet Muhammad was forced into hiding and her work removed from a museum exhibit.

Speaking on the telephone from an unspecified location in the Netherlands last week, the artist, an Iranian exile who goes by the pseudonym of Sooreh Hera, said she had been threatened with “execution”. She accused the director of the municipal museum in The Hague of cowardice for caving in to Muslim extremists.

Her story is a reminder of the tensions that have put the Netherlands and other European countries on the front line, sending dozens of people threatened by extremists into hiding since 2004, when a Dutch film-maker was murdered on the street and his collaborator driven into exile. [That's Theo van Gogh and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, for those of you who may need a reminder. - aa]

This leaves Hera, 34, in no doubt that she is in real danger. “They said to me, ‘We’re going to burn you naked or put a bullet in your mouth’,” she said, referring to menacing e-mails.

“They say, ‘Now you are locked in your home and you cannot go out any more’.”

She said that by photographing gay Iranian exiles in masks of Muhammad, the founder of Islam, and Ali, his son-in-law, she had wanted to expose a “hypocritical” attitude towards homosexuality in countries such as Iran, where men can be hanged for homosexual conduct. ...

I can picture Sooreh Hera patiently explaining the death threats to the Dutch police: "No, I mean they would kill me."

Read the rest at the link. You know, when the words "woman", "artist", "gay", and "death threats" all occur in a single headline, you'd think this would be just the kind of thing the liberal left ought to be on top of. Well ...
Wouter Bos, the deputy prime minister, seemed to take a stand for freedom of speech, saying: “In a democracy, we do not recognise the right not to be insulted.” The left wing de Volkskrant newspaper, by contrast, praised the museum for its “great professionalism” in excising the images.


Gateway Pundit has a roundup; and here's a link to Sooreh Hera.

***

To worry, as the journalist quoted in the first section above did, about the "one-dimensional" portrayal of terrorists and honor murderers, is to forget the victims. Not merely to forget, but to deliberately blot out of memory. As if it was only the aggressor, and not the victim, who had any reality to begin with. Then one must dance, so to speak, around the reality of violence and fear that rules the lives of so many dissidents, women, and gay people in the Muslim world.

Ironically it's exactly these people - folks like the well-meaning journalist - who help to create the "one-dimensional" picture of Islam, while ignoring the lives of those who sought to reimagine, reinvent, reform, question, rebel against, or abandon Islam entirely.

I am not going to split hairs over whether these atrocities were committed "by Islam", "in the name of Islam", "by extremists who hijacked Islam", or whatever. The common thread is a hatred of joy, creativity, diversity, and life itself. It is a nihilistic desire to reduce the rich flower of the living world to a zero-dimensional state of uniformity and nothingness.

This time last year, Aqsa Parvez and Sarah and Amina Said were active, healthy, determined young women. Now all that's left of them is a collection of pixels on the screen of your computer, and the memories they left behind with those who knew them.

Remember their faces. Remember their names.


Aqsaparvez
Aqsa Parvez

Sarahaminasaid
Sarah and Amina Said

2008-01-02

Morning Report: January 2, 2008

A shooting in Sudan, a massacre in Kenya, a scandal in Malaysia, a volcano in Chile, and more.

Sudan probes US diplomat's death, claims "not a terrorist attack". ABC: 'Sudan Sudanese authorities on Wednesday questioned witnesses in the slaying of an American diplomat who was shot by gunmen in a drive-by attack in the capital. Sudanese officials insisted the shooting was not a terrorist attack but the U.S. Embassy said it was too soon to determine the motive. John Granville, 33, an official for the U.S. Agency for International Development, was being driven home at about 4 a.m. Tuesday when another vehicle cut off his car and opened fire before fleeing the scene, the Sudanese Interior Ministry said.'

Church burned in Kenya; many killed. AP: ' NAIROBI, Kenya - A mob torched a church where hundreds had sought refuge Tuesday, and witnesses said dozens of people — including children — were burned alive or hacked to death with machetes in ethnic violence that followed Kenya's disputed election. The killing of up to 50 ethnic Kikuyus in the Rift Valley city of Eldoret brought the death toll from four days of rioting to more than 275, raising fears of further unrest in what has been one of Africa's most stable democracies.' Gateway Pundit has a roundup on this tragedy.

Malaysia minister resigns after sex video. AP via MSNBC reports that Malaysia's Health Minister Chua Soi Lek has resigned after being pwned on video with a woman in a hotel room. He's married with three kids.

Volcano erupts in Chile. AP via CNN reports that hundreds of people fled a volcanic eruption in Conguillio National Park, about 400 miles south of Santiago.

Irshad responds to critics. Irshad Manji responds to feedback on her CNN commentary faulting the late Benazir Bhutto for failing to fulfill her potential:
Many of you have branded me tasteless, disrespectful, opportunistic and just plain selfish for refusing to practice hero worship.

Some have called my commentary a personal attack on Bhutto. But questioning someone’s track record is not the same as challenging their humanity. Surely people who believe in Bhutto’s democratic ideals would appreciate the essence of democracy: dissent.

Dissent is fine, others wrote, but why so soon after her murder? Let me turn the question around. Would media be interested in airing a balanced assessment of Bhutto’s achievements after her death ceases to be news? Sorry, people. That’s not the way journalism works.

Better that something thoughtful be published and criticized than not submitted at all because its nuance or timing will offend. If you can’t handle offense, then you can’t handle meaningful democracy....

Go to the link for the rest.

Bhutto killing: CTB names names. Paul Cruickshank at the Counterterrorism Blog: 'It is much too early to say for sure who ordered Benazir Bhutto killed. The Musharraf regime has not done itself any favors by the way it has handled the aftermath of her assassination, helping to fuel conspiracy theories about her death. But that should not detract from the fact that the prime suspect, Baitullah Mehsud, a Taliban commander in South Waziristan with presumed strong links to al Qaeda, had both the motive and capability to see her killed. If the accusations against Mehsud hold up then it will be no easy task for the Pakistani authorities to bring him to justice.' More at the Guardian,

The drone surge. In from the Cold covers the increase in UAV activity in recent months:
From the robots used against roadside bombs, to the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) operating overhead, our military forces are relying, more than ever, on remotely operated systems to save lives and expand capabilities. ...

A Pentagon official interviewed for the story predicts that demand for the drones will remain high, despite the projected decline in ground units. That will (likely) renew the debate over UAV employment, and how much coverage is really required for on-going operations. Accidents aside, the sustained, high operations tempo of Predator, Raven and Global Hawk units puts added pressure on crews, maintenance personnel, the logistics system--and the extensive intelligence network used to process information gathered by UAVs.

Read it all at the link.

Dear Mom. Jason at Countercolumn retells his grandfather's harrowing loss of his crewmates to the Luftwaffe on August 17, 1943. And: "On September 8th, 2001, he found them." Read it all.

Zoe: Activist, neocon. After delivering a meticulous rebuttal to a backward-thinking article at the Wall Street Journal, Zoe at A. E. Brain muses:
I have no illusions that I won't get soaking wet either. But what makes me a neo-con rather than a Kumbayah-singing feelgood Hippie is that I believe in personal responsibility, and actually doing something to keep the dark of ignorance away rather than singing or praying. Not that I can do much. Write articles, letters, talk to politicians, fight my own personal battles, give help on support sites where "we are so close we bleed in each others wounds" and try to live my life too without this dominating my blog or my life too much. I loathe being an "activist", it is so, so Not Me, but what else can I do and remain true to my principles?

And in the meantime, a nuclear-armed power is descending into anarchy, a brave woman has lost her life, in the long term there's a decreasing likelihood that the majority of denizens of the solar system will speak English or live under a Democracy in 300 years time, and I should keep my sense of proportion.


Commentary. Norm Geras has some thoughts on the liberal "Who are we to criticize?" mantra:
Two familiar variants of the 'Who are we?' objection don't withstand much scrutiny. One is the frankly relativist variant that would forbid us from applying 'our' standards - on human rights, democracy, etc - to another culture which supposedly doesn't share those standards. The relativist argument fails for the simple reason, among others, that it treats the culture in question as a monolith. In virtually every case of this kind there are people within that culture who are themselves proponents of the criticisms coming from without and of the values in light of which these are being levelled. To say of some external 'we' that it's none of our business is in effect to argue for leaving such people, local critics of dictatorship and oppression, unsupported against the upholders and beneficiaries of dictatorship and oppression.

A second variant of the argument says that our real business is to concentrate on political sins and omissions close to home - where (the implication often is) we are more capable of making a difference for the better. Apart from the fact that the one focus doesn't rule out the other since you can object to injustices in your own society while giving what support you can to movements against injustice elsewhere, this argument is usually one of mere convenience anyway. Most of its sponsors don't genuinely believe that, for example, the work of the anti-Apartheid movement internationally was misguided, or that people in Britain should ignore the appeals of Amnesty International concerning prisoners of conscience in far-off places. They're just wanting to discomfit some political interlocutor over a criticism he or she has made, the force of which they'd prefer not to have to acknowledge.

I mean to do a post one of these days on the liberal "we". Meanwhile, let's keep working to make this year - and every year - better than the one before.