The unexpected victory of the Salafists in the Egypt and Tunisia elections has caught many by surprise, not least the Muslim Brotherhood who once thought that they would clean up, but now are faced with the prospect of having to share power with a segment they regarded as marginal. The rise of the Salafists is seen by some as the authentic reaction to the repression of Islamic practice by secular Arab despots. The Salafists regard the first century of Islamic history as the perfected state for humanity, and now they see themselves as the real inheritors of the voice of the repressed Muslim majority. Their stake has been under-reported because attention has always been directed on the Muslim Brotherhood as the stakeholders of the Islamist vote.
The rise of the Salafists is arguably the most alarming dynamic unleashed by the Egyptian revolution.
If whites ran Press TV, one would have no difficulty in saying it was a neo-Nazi network. It welcomes British Holocaust-deniers such as Nicholas Kollerstrom, fascist ideologues such as Peter Rushton, the leader of the White Nationalist party – an organisation that disproves the notion that the only thing further to the right of the BNP is the wall – along with, until recently, Ken Livingstone, Labour’s candidate for mayor of London, who showed no embarrassment about the company his Iranian paymasters kept.
Press TV is not just a home for those with exterminationist fantasies about wiping Israel off the map, but a platform for the full fascist conspiracy theory of supernatural Jewish power. Other fantasies follow. The 9/11 attacks on Washington and New York and 7/7 attacks on London were inside jobs, according to its commentators. Plots emanating from Buckingham Palace, and orchestrated by that sinister figure, the Queen, threaten its journalists.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to takes some of the more dogmatic left-wing commentators seriously these days, especially when it comes to foreign policy. Whether it be Seamus Milne at the Guardian, Robert Fisk at the Independent or Mehdi Hassan at the New Statesman, their op-ed pieces tend to follow the same predictable rules, which are:
a) The West is always wrong
b) Outspoken enemies of the west always deserve our sympathy
c) The vast majority are on our side
“The easiest and quickest way to expose the hypocrisy of our government’s, and the wider western world’s, professed support for democracy and freedom in the Arab world is to say just two words: Saudi Arabia.”
Then, after pasting an extract from the BBC’s website about the Saudi crackdown on internal protestors, Mehdi states:
The numbers of women and girls in the UK who are suffering violence and intimidation at the hands of their families in phenomena known as “Honour” crimes is increasing rapidly in the UK. And according to campaigners, we are only seeing a fraction of the full picture since most crimes go unreported.
Statistics obtained under the Freedom of Information Act about such violence – which can include threats, abduction, acid attacks, beatings, forced marriage, mutilation and murder – show that in the 12 police force areas for which comparable data was available, reports went up by 47% in just a year.
This is an article by Houriya Ahmed which first appeared in The Times
Closing down the Iranian Embassy in London is not forceful enough. After the storming of the British Embassy in Tehran by a mob of petrol-bomb-hurling hardliners, the British Government was right to move beyond impotent expressions of “outrage” and demand that Iran’s embassy staff leave the UK within 48 hours.But Britain can do more in the face of what looks like officially orchestrated violence.
There is an arm – albeit unofficial – of the Islamic republic at work here that could be punished to show British disapproval: Press TV’s London operation should be shut down.
Launched in 2007 as an “alternative” to Western media, Press TV is an English-language satellite television channel with a licence to operate in London. It is funded by, and acts as a mouthpiece for, the Iranian regime. Muslim and non-Muslim female presenters are required to wear the Islamic headscarf in front of the camera while broadcasting from London.
Let’s suppose that, hypothetically speaking, far right religious nationalists were to win the next elections in Hungary and proceed to take over the country.
Would you be just a little bit concerned by that prospect or would you rather be celebrating it as a victory of “the democratic process”? Over at the Guardian (naturally) the Director-General of al-Jazeera Wadah Khanfar goes for the latter option in the case of Arab countries from Egypt to Tunisia.
It’s titled “Those who support democracy must welcome the rise of political Islam”. Should we really? It also contains this execrable pre-emptive get-out clause:
However, political Islam has also faced enormous pressures from dictatorial Arab regimes, pressures that became more intense after 9/11. Islamic institutions were suppressed. Islamic activists were imprisoned, tortured and killed. Such experiences gave rise to a profound bitterness. Given the history, it is only natural that we should hear overzealous slogans or intolerant threats from some activists. Some of those now at the forefront of election campaigns were only recently released from prison. It would not be fair to expect them to use the voice of professional diplomats.
This is the statement by Ambassador-at-large for War Crimes, Stephen Rapp in Dhaka about the Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal. This is taken from David Bergman’s blog, who is reporting the events of the tribunal from Dhaka.
This is my third visit this year to Bangladesh to learn about your International Crimes Tribunal and to offer ideas to ensure that the trials it holds will be fair and open.
I know of the horrible crimes committed in the country in 1971– of the hundreds of thousands of victims who were murdered and raped, of the pain inflicted and the property destroyed. The victims of these crimes deserve justice, and those accused of these acts deserve trials where they can test the evidence and present witnesses on their own behalf. Those who are innocent should be found not guilty and be freed. Those who are responsible for these crimes should be found guilty and punished. Given the historic importance of these trials to Bangladesh, the region, and the world, the proceedings should be conducted in a manner that is open and accessible to all.
I was so saddened to learn about the trial in Tunisia over the broadcasting of the animated movie, Persepolis. The Tunisian revolution which was supposed to be about the overthrow of a dictator will soon descend into a religious dictatorship, if the secular Tunisians remain silent about this sort of thing. Once again, my favourite quote by Edmund Burke “Evil Only Prevails, When the Good Remain Silent” manifests itself in our own times.
The animated movie, Persepolis, is not about attacking sacred values at all. Only a religious zealot moron could come to such a conclusion. It is in fact a brilliant depiction of how a revolution against dictatorship is hijacked by such extremists. It is a movie that pre-warns ordinary people what will happen if they remain silent and allow the extremists to take over.