Views From Kennewick

Friday, January 26, 2007

January 25, 2007

Father kills daughter; doubted virginity

Honor killing in modern, moderate Jordan, where the Parliament rejected strengthing laws against this sort of thing.

By Shafika Mattar for AP, with thanks to all who sent this in:

AMMAN, Jordan - A Jordanian man fatally shot his 17-year-old daughter whom he suspected of having sex despite a medical exam that proved her chastity, an official said Thursday. The man surrendered to police hours after the killing, saying he had done it for family honor.

A state forensic pathologist, who works at the National Institute of Forensic Medicine in Amman where an autopsy was performed, said in a phone interview that the girl had run away from home several times for unknown reasons.

Weeks ago, the girl had returned home from a family protection clinic after doctors had vouched for her virginity and the father had signed a pledge not to harm her, the pathologist said on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the case.

"The tests proved that she was a virgin," the pathologist said. The girl returned home only after her father signed a statement promising not to harm her, he added.

The father shot the girl four times in the head on Tuesday. On Wednesday, an autopsy was performed that again showed "she was still a virgin," the pathologist said.

Authorities have not disclosed the names of the father or the daughter or even their hometown, saying only that they lived in a southern province.

The crime is the first "honor killing" this year in Jordan, where many men consider sex out of wedlock to be an almost indelible stain on a family's reputation. On average, about 20 women in the country are killed by their relatives in such cases each year. Women have been killed for simply dating.


January 26, 2007

U.S. had "catch and release" policy on suspected Iranian agents until recently

As one U.S. official accurately described the policy: "We were bending over backwards not to fight back."

"Troops Authorized to Kill Iranian Operatives in Iraq," by Dafna Linzer for the Washington Post:

The Bush administration has authorized the U.S. military to kill or capture Iranian operatives inside Iraq as part of an aggressive new strategy to weaken Tehran's influence across the Middle East and compel it to give up its nuclear program, according to government and counterterrorism officials with direct knowledge of the effort.
For more than a year, U.S. forces in Iraq have secretly detained dozens of suspected Iranian agents, holding them for three to four days at a time. The "catch and release" policy was designed to avoid escalating tensions with Iran and yet intimidate its emissaries. U.S. forces collected DNA samples from some of the Iranians without their knowledge, subjected others to retina scans, and fingerprinted and photographed all of them before letting them go.
Last summer, however, senior administration officials decided that a more confrontational approach was necessary, as Iran's regional influence grew and U.S. efforts to isolate Tehran appeared to be failing. The country's nuclear work was advancing, U.S. allies were resisting robust sanctions against the Tehran government, and Iran was aggravating sectarian violence in Iraq.
"There were no costs for the Iranians," said one senior administration official. "They are hurting our mission in Iraq, and we were bending over backwards not to fight back."
Three officials said that about 150 Iranian intelligence officers, plus members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Command, are believed to be active inside Iraq at any given time. There is no evidence the Iranians have directly attacked U.S. troops in Iraq, intelligence officials said.
But, for three years, the Iranians have operated an embedding program there, offering operational training, intelligence and weaponry to several Shiite militias connected to the Iraqi government, to the insurgency and to the violence against Sunni factions. Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the director of the CIA, told the Senate recently that the amount of Iranian-supplied materiel used against U.S. troops in Iraq "has been quite striking."
"Iran seems to be conducting a foreign policy with a sense of dangerous triumphalism," Hayden said.


Information gleaned through the "catch and release" policy expanded what was once a limited intelligence community database on Iranians in Iraq. It also helped to avert a crisis between the United States and the Iraqi government over whether U.S. troops should be holding Iranians, several officials said, and dampened the possibility of Iranians directly targeting U.S. personnel in retaliation.
But senior officials saw it as too timid.
"We were making no traction" with "catch and release," a senior counterterrorism official said in a recent interview, explaining that it had failed to halt Iranian activities in Iraq or worry the Tehran leadership. "Our goal is to change the dynamic with the Iranians, to change the way the Iranians perceive us and perceive themselves. They need to understand that they cannot be a party to endangering U.S. soldiers' lives and American interests, as they have before. That is going to end."
A senior intelligence officer was more wary of the ambitions of the strategy.
"This has little to do with Iraq. It's all about pushing Iran's buttons. It is purely political," the official said. The official expressed similar views about other new efforts aimed at Iran, suggesting that the United States is escalating toward an unnecessary conflict to shift attention away from Iraq and to blame Iran for the United States' increasing inability to stanch the violence there.
But some officials within the Bush administration say that targeting Iran's Revolutionary Guard Command, and specifically a Guard unit known as the Quds Force, should be as much a priority as fighting al-Qaeda in Iraq. The Quds Force is considered by Western intelligence to be directed by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to support Iraqi militias, Hamas and Hezbollah.
In interviews, two senior administration officials separately compared the Tehran government to the Nazis and the Guard to the "SS." They also referred to Guard members as "terrorists." Such a formal designation could turn Iran's military into a target of what Bush calls a "war on terror," with its members potentially held as enemy combatants or in secret CIA detention.
Asked whether such a designation is imminent, Johndroe of the NSC said in a written response that the administration has "long been concerned about the activities of the IRGC and its components throughout the Middle East and beyond." He added: "The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force is a part of the Iranian state apparatus that supports and carries out these activities."


January 25, 2007

Francis Fukuyama: "Whether there is anything specific to the Muslim religion that encourages this radicalisation is an open question"

Didn't history end already? Why then are we still hearing from Francis Fukuyama?

In "Identity and Migration" in Prospect, he says this:

Whether there is anything specific to the Muslim religion that encourages this radicalisation is an open question. Since 11th September, a small industry has sprung up trying to show how violence and even suicide bombing have deep Koranic or historical roots. It is important to remember, however, that at many periods in history Muslim societies have been more tolerant than their Christian counterparts. The Jewish philosopher Maimonides was born in Muslim Córdoba, which was a diverse centre of culture and learning; Baghdad for many generations hosted one of the world's largest Jewish communities. It makes no more sense to see today's radical Islamism as an inevitable outgrowth of Islam than to see fascism as the culmination of centuries of European Christianity.

We see thus that it is an open question that he immediately closes. In other words, like Dinesh D'Souza, he proposes that we ignore the testimony of the jihadists themselves, when they make copious use of the Qur'an and Sunnah to justify their acts of violence. (See, to take just two examples out of a great many, here and here.) No, the equation of Islam with violence comes not from them but from a "small industry" -- of "Islamophobes," no doubt -- that has sprung up since 9/11. We should also ignore the doctrine of warfare against and subjugation of unbelievers that is taught by every single orthodox Islamic sect and school of jurisprudence. Instead, we should note that dhimmis were able to practice their religions within the Islamic state -- while ignoring also, of course, the institutionalized discrimination under which they labored even in vaunted Muslim Córdoba.

In fact, Muslim Spain was hardly a paradise for non-Muslims. Even Maria Rosa Menocal, in her extended whitewash of Muslim Spain called The Ornament of the World, admits that at the laws of dhimmitude were very much in force in the great Al-Andalus:

The dhimmi, as these covenanted peoples were called, were granted religious freedom, not forced to convert to Islam. They could continue to be Jews and Christians, and, as it turned out, they could share in much of Muslim social and economic life. In return for this freedom of religious conscience the Peoples of the Book (pagans had no such privilege) were required to pay a special tax — no Muslims paid taxes — and to observe a number of restrictive regulations: Christians and Jews were prohibited from attempting to proselytize Muslims, from building new places of worship, from displaying crosses or ringing bells. In sum, they were forbidden most public displays of their religious rituals.

So much for paradise. Also, historian Kenneth Baxter Wolf observes that “much of this new legislation aimed at limiting those aspects of the Christian cult which seemed to compromise the dominant position of Islam.” After enumerating a list of laws much like Menocal’s, he adds: “Aside from such cultic restrictions most of the laws were simply designed to underscore the position of the dimmîs as second-class citizens.” These laws were not uniformly or strictly enforced; Christians were forbidden public funeral processions, but one contemporary account tells of priests merely “pelted with rocks and dung” rather than being arrested while on the way to a cemetery.

If Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived together peaceably and productively only with Christians and Jews relegated by law to second-class citizen status, then al-Andalus has absolutely no reason to be lionized in our age. The laws of dhimmitude give all of Menocal’s accounts of Jewish viziers and Christian diplomats the same hollow ring as the stories of prominent American blacks from the slavery and Jim Crow eras: yes, Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington were great men, but their accomplishments not only do not erase or contradict the records of the oppression of their people, but render them all the more poignant and haunting. Whatever the Christians and Jews of al-Andalus accomplished, they were still dhimmis. They enjoyed whatever rights and privileges they had not out of any sense of the dignity of all people before God, or the equality of all before the law, but at the sufferance of their Muslim overlords.


January 26, 2007

Year of the bleep

that's all folks.jpg

If China capitulates first, there won't be any bombs at the Olympics...perhaps.

From the Sidney Morning Herald (whose headline gets the nod, but thanks to all who sent this in from various sources):

China's ruling Communist Party has banned images and mention of pigs in TV advertisements airing over the lunar new year to avoid offending the country's Muslims, an advertising agency said on Friday.

"We were told by the CCTV (China Central Television) censorship team that the CCTV advertising department announced a new regulation on pigs in its internal document," an executive at the Shanghai-based Mindshare agency said.

The ban also applies to cartoons and traditional paper-cut images of pigs, and to slogans such as "golden pig brings you fortune" and "wish you a happy pig year", the executive said.

So, all you Western teachers who were planning big multi-cultural celebrations of Chinese New Year, watch out. It may be that in your local school district, too, Muslim traditions trump Chinese ones. Perhaps it would be best to spend Chinese New Year quietly working on times tables with your students


January 25, 2007

Bahraini reformer: "I listen to music"

Few people are aware that Islamic law forbids music, and when I have pointed it out, I've been accused of distortion and "Islamophobia." Bahraini author Dhiyaa Al-Musawi knows better, and lists it along with several other points as evidence of his going against religious orthodoxy. He also has good things to say about rejecting the Islamic mandate to hate Jews and Christians.

"Bahraini Liberal Author Dhiyaa Al-Musawi: We Hang Our Thinkers on the Gallows of Ideology. I Listen to Music and Placed Pictures of Jesus and Martin Luther King in My Home," from MEMRI:

Following are excerpts from an interview with Bahraini intellectual Dhiyaa Al-Musawi, which aired on Abu Dhabi TV on December 29, 2006.


We need to reform and to reshape religious thinking, because, in all honesty, the pulpits of our mosques have begun to "booby trap" the people.

Interviewer: In what way?

Dhiyaa Al-Musawi: They booby trap them by generating hatred towards "the other." We have claimed a monopoly over Paradise, and each of us has recorded it in the land registry in his name.


The Koran is balanced. It talks about the fire of Hell and the fruits of Paradise, but we constantly preach about the horrors of Judgment Day, saying that a bald Satan, or a bald serpent, would visit them in the grave. It is constant terror. It is always a dark picture. Why? That is the problem. Unfortunately, some young men – out of a wrong interpretation of religion... The moment he becomes religious, he ceases to smile and to greet others. He accuses some people of heresy and others of sin. He begins all that discourse. He hates music, and refuses to dress neatly. His mind is abducted into the dungeons of ideology, I'm sad to say.

Interviewer: Let me ask you a question. If a Shiite, or even a Sunni, becomes a religious cleric, yet he listens to music, can the Arab public possibly accept him?

Dhiyaa Al-Musawi: In my view, the Arab disposition suffers from many problems. We have destroyed many things, including the beauty of the general disposition. Music is a beautiful thing...

Interviewer: Do you listen to music?

Dhiyaa Al-Musawi: Yes, I listen to music. I listen to classical music, and I think Beethoven's symphonies are very beautiful. They are among the masterpieces of human art. I believe that music develops the spirit of Man and humbles him. What is wrong with that?


As for the policy of non-violence, I'd like to give you the example of Gandhi, whom I consider a hero. If only we could obtain some of Gandhi's genes, and plant them in the brains of our youth in the Arab world...

Interviewer: In your home, you have pictures of Martin Luther King and Jesus on the wall.

Dhiyaa Al-Musawi: In my home, I put up a picture of Jesus, because whenever I look at his picture, worlds of peace and love open up before me. It was Jesus who said: "Love thy enemies, bless them who curse thee." We need this beautiful language in our society. I also have a picture of Gandhi, whom I consider to be a very fine person, and whose [image] we should plant in the minds of our youth.


Some of us say: "May Allah curse the Jews and the Christians, the offspring of apes and pigs." Is this the language of progress? Is this the language of enlightenment and tolerance? If you had been born in Rome, you would have been Christian, if you had been born in Tehran, you would have been Shiite, and if you had been born in Saudi Arabia, you would have been Sunni, and so on. How wonderful it would be if all these people could gather in love around the table of humanity.


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