…from beneath the crooked bough, witness 230 years of brutal tyranny by the al Khalifas come to an end
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Islamic states don’t speak for Muslims

Islamic states don’t speak for Muslims
by Syed Ahmad – graduate student – Collegiate Times 1 February, 2012

The events in the last decade have brought a constant stream of negative news from Muslim states. Human rights issues in Muslim-majority Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan are held up as examples of how Islam has held back these societies. After all, these states claim to be staunchly “Islamic,” and hence they must speak for the religion Islam itself. Is this true? Can a religion be gauged by the acts of states?

No historian can deny that Islam emerged as the religion of a severely persecuted, small community in seventh century Arabia and ultimately triumphed against fearsome odds under Prophet Muhammad’s leadership. The reason for their persecution was simple: Islam’s message threatened tribal customs and orthodox practices of existing religions in Arabia.

The first Muslim migration to escape persecution was to Abbysinia, whose Christian ruler, Negus, believed in tolerance and permitted the refugees in his kingdom — an act for which the Prophet expressed his deep gratitude.

It is, therefore, ironic and tragic that powerful clerical Muslim states today use the name of Islam to oppress non-Muslims and also Muslims of other denominations. In fact, early Islamic history contradicts the acts of today’s Muslims. A tradition about Prophet Muhammad states he insisted Christian priests from Najran offer their prayers in his mosque. He also debated religion with them openly and went to the extent of granting them the freedom to practice religion however they wished. This contrasts greatly with leadership in modern Islamic states.

It is impossible to imagine today that someone can publicly question an Ayatollah in Iran or a Mufti in Saudi Arabia. An oft-ignored Quranic verse states, “There is no compulsion in religion.” Even less, however, know of its context. Before the Prophet migrated from Mecca to Medina to escape religious oppression, some people of Medina had dedicated their children to be raised as Jews. The parents, who later converted to Islam, objected when the Jewish guardians kept these children with them.

The Quranic verse pertains to this particular event when Prophet Muhammad forbade the parents from forcibly taking back their children or converting them to Islam. This is ironic given how some states today force Islamic injunctions on non-Muslims.

If such Islamic traditions of noncompulsion are authentic, which they are, then how do clerical states justify their position? It’s simple — by keeping these traditions away from the larger public or by creating imagined enemies to emotionally force the public behind them.

Invoking dogma to hide inconvenient truths is not the exclusive practice of Muslim regimes. Indeed all repressive states — religious or secular — rely on similar tools. In fact, moderate Muslims, such as those in the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, have to face stiff persecution in Muslim states because their interpretation of Islam threatens dogma.

Thus, next time one hears a Muslim state claiming to act in the name of Islam, perhaps several pinches of salt can be added. …source

February 2, 2012   No Comments

Hundreds of Saudi Shi’as Protest Against Al Saud Rule in Awamiyah

Hundreds of Saudi Shi’as Protest Against Al Saud Rule in Awamiyah
ABNA.co 02 February, 2012

Hundreds of Anti-government protesters have rallied in the Saudi city of Awamiyah to condemn Riyadh’s brutal crackdown on protests in Eastern Province.

Hundreds of Saudi Shi(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) – Hundreds of Anti-government protesters have rallied in the Saudi city of Awamiyah to condemn Riyadh’s brutal crackdown on protests in Eastern Province.

Shouting slogans against members of the ruling Al Saud family, including the Crown Prince Nayef, the demonstrators denounced the recent killings of anti-government protesters in the oil-rich region, demanding an end to the suppression of peaceful protests.

They also condemned economic and religious discrimination in the region.

Witnesses say security forces shot into the air to intimidate and disperse protesters, there were no immediate reports of casualties.

Saudis hold peaceful demonstrations since February last year on an almost regular basis in the eastern region, demanding reforms, freedom of expression and the release of political prisoners.

Activists say there are more than 30,000 political prisoners held in jails across Saudi Arabia who, the Saudi-based Human Rights First Society says, are being subjected to both physical and mental torture.

According to rights activists, most of the detained are being held without trial or legitimate charges and have been arrested on grounds of mere suspicion.

Anti-government protests in the Kingdom have intensified since November, when security forces opened fire on protesters in Qatif, killing five people and leaving many more injured.

Riyadh has intensified its crackdown on protesters since the beginning of 2012. …source

February 2, 2012   No Comments

US Ultra Conservative Hertiage Foundation Organizes Support Rallies for al Khalifa Regime

The Obama Administration: Ill-Informed on Bahrain
by Morgan Roach – 01 February, 2012

Last Friday, Bahrainis held a peaceful, though spirited, rally in front of the United Nations headquarters in Manama to protest what they consider to be misguided foreign efforts to pressure Bahrain’s government to make dangerous concessions to uncompromising opposition leaders, some of whom are linked to Iran.

Bahrainis, particularly those loyal to the ruling Al-Khalifa family, are outraged by what they consider the Obama Administration’s favoritism for an increasingly violent opposition movement. Dubbed “Hands off Bahrain,” demonstrators delivered a clear message to the United State government: “Back off.”

Since the crisis began last February, sparked by the “Arab Spring,” Bahrain’s government has grappled with the restoration of order. Initiated by a youth movement demanding government reform, demonstrations were quickly hijacked by the opposition party, al-Wefaq, and other actors, including Shia cleric Isa Qassim. Iran, as it has done repeatedly in the past, has also played a significant—though covert—role in inspiring unrest. In response, Bahrain’s security forces quickly issued a brutal crackdown that was later assessed in detail by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI).

Despite the government’s attempts to implement the recommendations of the BICI and political reforms created through the National Dialogue, the opposition demands more. However, these demands are often vague and inconsistent. While al-Wefaq and four other opposition groups have outlined their demands—which include drastic political reforms—its supporters are throwing Molotov cocktails at police and calling for the downfall of the royal family.

The Obama Administration has mistakenly treated Bahrain, which is governed by one of the most liberal governments in the Gulf, the same way it has treated other countries dominated by much more oppressive authoritarian regimes that have been affected by the “Arab Spring.” The Administration has hedged its bets in favor of the opposition. Such moves reveal how uninformed the Administration is to the events on the ground.

Last September, in his speech to the U.N. General Assembly, President Obama effectively legitimized al-Wefaq’s influence when he urged Bahrain’s government to make additional reforms to appease al-Wefaq. Last October, the State Department also blocked a $53 million arms sale to Bahrain, claiming that the sale wouldn’t go through until Washington’s demands for reform were met.

While the sale of some military equipment was announced last week, some Members of Congress are furious at what they perceive as rewarding Bahrain’s government for too little progress, despite the fact that the arms sale is for Bahrain’s external military use and in support of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet. The U.S. embassy in Bahrain has also come under heavy criticism after it was revealed that State Department officials met with al-Wefaq leaders.

Giving such credence to al-Wefaq, the Administration fails to consider what would happen to Bahrain if the monarchy falls to the opposition. Al-Wefaq has made no secret that, if it comes to power, the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, a major bulwark in containing Iran, would have a limited future. Iran, which considers Bahrain its lost 14th province, would also expand its influence and destabilize the region. …more

February 2, 2012   No Comments

King Hamad’s Human Rights Success – set the bar low with a failing grade, agitate the oppostion to violence, call back your critic to show-off the documented and well pressed accomplishments of your hired image makers and highlight how violent the opposition have become

Bahrain under the spotlight as protest inspector returns
Reuters – 2 February, 2012

MANAMA // The academic who investigated abuses during Bahrain’s crackdown on pro-democracy protests last year returned yesterday to assess how far the government has followed through on the reforms he recommended.

Cherif Bassiouni, an Egyptian-American professor at DePaul University in Chicago, met members of the royal family as he prepared to begin his new mission at King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa’s invitation. The mission is expected to last until March.

Riot police still clash daily with young, mainly Shiite, protesters, who complain that they continue to be marginalised by Bahrain’s Sunni rulers. Clashes have become more violent in the run-up to the February 14 anniversary of the start of the protests.

In November, Mr Bassiouni detailed incidents of torture including sexual abuse and electric shocks that occurred during last year’s crackdown.

This time, Mr Bassiouni and his team will assess whether Bahrain has reformed its policing, reinstated sacked employees, and investigated torture claims and military trials in line with the recommendations by his independent commission.

Mr Bassiouni told DePaul students before he left that Bahrain was not moving fast enough to calm street protests.

“I think the public is going to come at the end and say ‘you know what, you’re holding all of these investigations behind closed doors – this is a whitewash’ and I think they would be perfectly justified in saying so,” he said.

Keen to demonstrate that it has acted on the report, the Bahrain government has chronicled the steps it has implemented on a dedicated website.

He suggested to his DePaul students that disputes within the royal family were holding up political and economic reforms.

“You have to choose between maintaining the unity of the family or the regime, or the unity of the country,” he said.

The Bici [Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry] report stated that 35 people had died in the protests up to June, when martial law was lifted, but activists said the continuing violence has taken the total to more than 60, including 14 since Mr Bassiouni was last in the country in November. The government disputes the causes of death.

Opposition parties said they would meet Mr Bassiouni today.

One western diplomat said the government needed time to implement reforms.

“There is a will at the top but the challenge is to ensure that the bureaucracy is as serious and to follow up with mechanisms,” the diplomat said. ..more

February 2, 2012   No Comments

King Hamad Al Khalifa of Bahrain: End the Sham Trials Now!

King Hamad Al Khalifa of Bahrain: End the Sham Trials Now!
By Brian Dooley = 2 February, 2012

Twenty Bahraini medics tortured into making false confessions faced court on Monday to find out that the charges against them still haven’t been dropped.

The Bahrain government continues to pursue this baseless prosecution and others against people who are being targeted for exercising their freedom of expression. It’s time to stop.

Tell King Hamad of Bahrain: end the sham trials and drop baseless charges against the medics and other Bahrainis!

The Bahraini dictatorship targeted medics last year for treating wounded protestors and for telling the international media the truth about the regime’s violent crackdown. They joined other Bahrainis who were detained, tortured into false confessions, and subjected to sham trials for practicing their right to free expression and calling for democratic reforms. Military courts have sentenced many of them to between five and fifteen years in prison each.

Months after the Commission appointed by King Hamad issued its recommendations for reform, the monarchy continues its violent crackdown and sham trials. The anniversary of the start of Bahrain’s Arab Spring falls on February 14. If the Bahrain monarchy is truly serious about human rights reforms, it must stop the baseless prosecutions and drop charges against medics and peaceful protestors!

Tell King Al Khalifa to end the sham trials and show that his government is serious about human rights reforms. …more

February 2, 2012   No Comments

Breaking the Silence – A Bahraini protester speaks…

Breaking the Silence – A Bahraini protester speaks…
by MaianewleyFollow 02 February, 2012 – Daily KOS

The 14th February sees the first anniversary of the Bahraini protests and yet, despite the ongoing nature of these protests and despite the increasing reports of violence, torture and random imprisonment of the protesters, we still see relatively little about it in our mainstream media.

The U.S. has made a lot of noise this week when talking about the situation in Syria, Secretary Clinton has made a personal pledge to do ‘more’ to ensure the rights of the protesters in that country. Indeed, she even went so far as to say

“Every member of the Council has to make a decision: Whose side are you on? Are you on the side of the Syrian people? Are you on the side of the Arab League? Are you on the side of the people of the Middle East and North Africa who have during this past year spoken out courageously and often for their rights? Or are you on the side of a brutal, dictatorial regime? It is absolutely imperative that we all be on the right side of history.”

And yet, she remains strangely reticent when it comes to Bahrain. True, she has made statements in the past urging the Bahraini Government to display restraint but, in comparison to the strength of her words this week about Syria, Bahrain does not appear to be at the top of her agenda. In fact, to be honest, I sometimes wonder if it figures at all on the agenda in the U.S. I don’t go much for conspiracy theories, neither do I believe in hidden agendas in this case as I think the ‘agenda’ is so blatantly obvious! The U.S. has massive military investment in Bahrain, along with similar levels of investment in Saudi Arabia who, for the record, have assisted the Bahraini regime in attempting to put an end to the protests. In the above-linked article they claim that the Saudi-led military force crossed into Bahrain with the express purpose of “propping up the monarchy against widening demonstrations”.

In the words of Elie Wiesel

“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

The U.S. moors its 5th fleet in Bahrain and, as Lamees Dhaif noted in the interview I conducted with her last week, the Bahraini people have welcomed the American forces into their country and have never had any kind of problem with them. …more

February 2, 2012   No Comments

US is set to transfer the future Afghan Government to Taliban

US is set to transfer the future Afghan Government to Taliban
2 February, 2012 – Jafria News

JNN 02 Feb 2012 Kabul : The Taliban are set to retake control of Afghanistan after NATO-led forces withdraw from the country, according to reports citing a classified assessment by U.S. forces.

The Times described the report as secret and “highly classified”, saying it was put together last month by the U.S. military at Bagram air base in Afghanistan for top NATO officers. The BBC also carried a report on the leaked document.

“Many Afghans are already bracing themselves for an eventual return of the Taliban,” the report was quoted as saying. “Once ISAF (NATO-led forces) is no longer a factor, Taliban consider their victory inevitable.”

The document stated that Pakistan’s security agency was helping the Taliban in directing attacks against foreign forces – a charge long denied by Islamabad.

The findings were based on interrogations of more than 4,000 Taliban and Al-Qaeda detainees, the Times said, adding the document was scarce on identifying individual insurgents.

A U.S. state department spokesman and Britain’s Foreign Office both declined comment on the report. NATO and Pakistani officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

Despite the presence of more than 100,000 foreign troops, the UN has said violence in Afghanistan is at its worst since the Taliban were ousted by U.S.-backed forces in 2001.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) says levels of violence are falling.

Citing the same report, the BBC reported on its website that Pakistan and its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency knew the locations of senior Taliban leaders and supported the expulsion of “foreign invaders from Afghanistan”.

“Senior Taliban leaders meet regularly with ISI personnel, who advise on strategy and relay any pertinent concerns of the government of Pakistan.”

The Times said the document suggested the Taliban were gaining in popularity, partly because the severe Islamist movement was becoming more tolerant.

The report was quoted as stating: “It remains to be seen whether a revitalized, more progressive Taliban will endure if they continue to gain power and popularity. Regardless, at least within the Taliban the refurbished image is already having a positive effect on morale.” …more

February 2, 2012   No Comments

US pushes resolution that “is path to civil war” in Syria

US sponsored UN resolution on Syria will create civil war not peace
2 February, 2012 – Jafria News

JNN 02 Feb 2012 Washington : A senior Russian diplomat Tuesday said a draft UN resolution demanding Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step aside is a “path to civil war.”

“The Western draft Security Council resolution on Syria does not lead to a search for compromise,” Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov wrote Tuesday on Twitter, The Associated Press reported.

“Pushing this resolution is a path to civil war.”

Russia has been one of Syrian people’s strongest supporters. In October, Moscow, along with and Beijing, vetoed the first Security Council attempt to condemn Damascus.

Russia fears the new measure could open the door to eventual military intervention, the way an Arab-backed UN resolution led to NATO airstrikes in Libya.

Syria has been experiencing unrest ever since mid-March, with demonstrations being held both against and in support of President Assad’s government.

On October 7, Deputy Foreign Minister Faysal Mekdad said around 1,100 members of the security forces and ordinary citizens had been killed by armed groups in the first seven months of the unrest, which began on March 15.

The United Nations says 5,000 people, many of them members of the security forces, have been killed during the unrest.

The Syrian government says outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorists are the driving factor behind the unrest and deadly violence while the opposition accuses the security forces of being behind the killings.

Damascus also says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country and the security forces have been given clear instructions not to harm civilians.

In addition, Syrian state TV has broadcast reports showing seized weapons caches and confessions by terrorist elements describing how they obtained arms from foreign sources. ..source

February 2, 2012   No Comments

Ongoing repression against political prisoners

Ongoing repression against political prisoners
2 February, 2012 – FIDH

FIDH expresses its utmost concern about acts of continued repression on political prisoners that have entered in a hunger strike to protest their continued arbitrary detention as well as the deteriorating human rights situation in the country.
FIDH has been informed that around 250 political prisoners started a widespread national hunger strike on January 29, 2012, after the prominent 14 political and human rights activists, who were arbitrarily detained since March 2011 [1], announced they will begin a hunger strike in the central Jaw prison.

According to the information received, as a response to the hunger strike, part number 4 of the central Jaw prison where the above-mentioned detainees are kept, was reportedly teargassed. A number of them were severely beaten and others were put in solitary confinement. Moreover, those detainees are no longer allowed to make any phone calls, and continue to be denied access to the designated outdoors areas of the prison.

After detainees from the Dry Docks prison announced that they would join the hunger strike, a number of prisoners from different areas in Bahrain were reportedly told that they would be released if they plead for the King’s forgiveness, in addition to saying that they are against the strike and the protests. A number of those who had refused to do so were reportedly beaten severely to the extent that they had to be transferred to the hospital. Some of them called their families informing they were forced to give apologies on camera.

FIDH calls upon the Bahraini authorities to take all necessary measures to put an end to these acts of repression and to order a prompt, effective, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the above-mentioned acts, where as the result of which must be made public, and those responsible of such acts must be held accountable.

Those political activists and human rights defenders were condemned before military courts in the context of the repression against peaceful protesters. They were handed down harsh sentences including life imprisonment. FIDH, along with other international human rights organisations, has repeatedly denounced the violations of fair trial guarantees during these proceedings. Furthermore, FIDH recalls that pursuant to recommendation N°1720 of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) report [2] , “all convictions and sentences rendered by the National Security Courts where fundamental principles of a fair trial […] were not respected” must be reviewed in ordinary courts. …more

February 2, 2012   No Comments