Current Events

Violent Demonstrations in the Arab World

As The Associated Press reported on February 4, “Thousands of Syrians enraged by caricatures of Islam’s revered prophet torched the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus on Saturday–the most violent in days of furious protests by Muslims in Asia, Europe and the Middle East… In Gaza, Palestinians marched through the streets, storming European buildings and burning German and Danish flags. Protesters smashed the windows of the German cultural center and threw stones at the European Commission building, police said.”

The article tried to explain that “at the heart of the protests” were “12 caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad first published in Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten in September and reprinted in European media in the past week. One depicted the prophet wearing a turban shaped as a bomb with a burning fuse.” The article continued that “The drawings have touched a raw nerve in part because Islamic law is interpreted to forbid any depictions of the Prophet Muhammad.”

However, this is only seemingly a correct assessment of the situation. In reality, the facts are much more complicated–or much simpler, depending on one’s viewpoint.

As Luxembourg’s RTL reporter and Islam expert, Antonia Rados, explained in an interview with Bild Online, dated February 4, the demonstrations are instigated by a radical Muslim minority of extreme fundamentalists. “For them, Islam is not a religion but a political ideology. They bitterly hate all Western values, such as equality of men and women, separation of church and state and the freedom of the press.” The cartoons were published as early as September, but, as Antonia Rados explained, the radical elements have waited for the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, to create hostility against the West amongst the pilgrims.

On February 3, 2006, Der Spiegel Online published the following editorial by Best-selling author and Muslim dissident Ibn Warraq:

“The cartoons in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten raise the most important question of our times: freedom of expression. Are we in the West going to cave into pressure from societies with a medieval mindset, or are we going to defend our most precious freedom — freedom of expression, a freedom for which thousands of people sacrificed their lives? A democracy cannot survive long without freedom of expression, the freedom to argue, to dissent, even to insult and offend. It is a freedom sorely lacking in the Islamic world, and without it Islam will remain unassailed in its dogmatic, fanatical, medieval fortress; ossified, totalitarian and intolerant. Without this fundamental freedom, Islam will continue to stifle thought, human rights, individuality; originality and truth. Unless we show some solidarity, unashamed, noisy, public solidarity with the Danish cartoonists, then the forces that are trying to impose on the Free West a totalitarian ideology will have won; the Islamization of Europe will have begun in earnest. Do not apologize.”

On February 6, 2006, Der Spiegel Online published another article, discussing the violent demonstrations in the Arab World against Europe and the USA, and even the Catholic Church–even though the USA and the Vatican condemned the cartoons. The magazine stated:

“In an essay appearing in the right-leaning Die Welt, [Tariq] Ramadan, [Islam expert and professor at St. Anthony’s College in Oxford] says what we are witnessing is very definitely not a ‘clash of civilizations’ nor is it a ‘confrontation between enlightenment principles and religion.’ Rather, radicals on both sides are defining the debate, Ramadan argues. ‘The majority of the people around the globe are watching the excesses (on both sides) in disbelief, wondering what is wrong with this world?”

The magazine, Der Spiegel Online, somewhat disagreed, pointing out: “Islam… was not always the mercurial, intolerant religion it has become today… Today, the Muslim world has a gigantic, insolvable problem: After centuries in a leading role, the religion is now intellectually moribund… Among many Muslims, this has led to resentment towards the West and a resulting chip on the shoulder. And there is nothing left of the tolerance preached in the Koran. There is no religion at present that is as intolerant as Islam…”

In quoting from another German paper, Der Spiegel Online stated: “Over at the center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung, the editors seem to have tossed up their hands and are preparing for the end of the world… [With] the West joining together to confront the danger presented by radical Islam, the fronts are hardening. The paper urges calm, but doesn’t seem to have much faith that such appeals will be heeded.”

UPI reported on February 7, 2006, that “A Moscow museum has announced it will exhibit the entire series of cartoons of Mohammed that have caused riots throughout the Islamic world… ‘We must show the whole world that Russia goes along with Europe, that the freedom of expression is much more important for us than the dogmas of religious fanatics,’ Samodurov said. [Yury Samodurov is the director of the Sakharov Museum and Public Center in Moscow.] The exhibition reportedly will open in March. Lawyer Yury Shmidt has said he will invite French philosopher Andre Glucksmann and French novelist Michel Houellebecq to the opening ceremony to read lectures about the threat of Islamic fundamentalism.”

On February 6, 2006, Der Spiegel Online published an interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Dutch politician forced to go into hiding after the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh [who was murdered by Islamists]. Ali responded to the Danish cartoon scandal, as follows:

“There is no freedom of speech in those Arab countries where the demonstrations and public outrage are being staged. The reason many people flee to Europe from these places is precisely because they have criticized religion, the political establishment and society. Totalitarian Islamic regimes are in a deep crisis. Not a day passes, in Europe and elsewhere, when radical imams aren’t preaching hatred in their mosques. They call Jews and Christians inferior, and we say they’re just exercising their freedom of speech. When will the Europeans realize that the Islamists don’t allow their critics the same right? After the West prostrates itself, they’ll be more than happy to say that Allah has made the infidels spineless… We could see the same thing happening that has happened in the Netherlands, where writers, journalists and artists have felt intimidated ever since the van Gogh murder. Everyone is afraid to criticize Islam… How can you address problems if you’re not even allowed to clearly define them? Like the fact that Muslim women at home are kept locked up, are raped and are married off against their will — and that in a country in which our far too passive intellectuals are so proud of their freedom!… [In Holland] we’re finally turning our attention to young girls who are sent against their wills from Morocco to Holland as brides, and adopting legislation to make this practice more difficult.”

Regarding Iran’s reactions and threats, Der Spiegel Online published the following piece on February 8:

“Iran has upped the ante in the cartoon culture wars by cutting off trade ties with Denmark and threatening to do the same to other European countries… A major Iranian newspaper even says it will hold a contest for the best anti-Jewish Holocaust cartoons in a totally unrelated tit-for-tat escalation of the dispute… Most German papers on Wednesday agree that the current situation is becoming increasingly dangerous and that Ahmadinejad is using the crisis to gain political capital in Muslim countries. The general consensus is that he hopes to create support for Tehran in the international dispute over Iran’s nuclear program. These days, Ahmadinejad has few friends even in his backyard, but the brouhaha over the Muhammad cartoons… could fuel enough anti-western sentiment for other regional powers to join Tehran’s team.”

On February 9, 2006, The Associated Press published another piece of information, which provided a str
ong indication who is actually behind the violent demonstrations in the Arab world. The article stated:

“Police killed four people Wednesday as Afghans enraged over drawings of the Prophet Muhammad marched on a U.S. military base in a volatile southern province, directing their anger not against Europe but America… In Washington, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accused Iran and Syria of instigating protests in their countries… The United States and other countries were looking into whether extremist groups may be inciting protesters to riot, said Yonts, the U.S. spokesman in Afghanistan… Zahor Afghan, editor for Erada, Afghanistan’s most respected newspaper, said the riots in his country have surprised him. ‘No media in Afghanistan has published or broadcast pictures of these cartoons. The radio has been reporting on it, but there are definitely people using this to incite violence against the presence of foreigners in Afghanistan,’ he said. Afghans who rioted Wednesday said they heard about the cartoons on the radio but none questioned had seen printed versions.”

In light of these reports, there can be little doubt that extremist fanatics, including certain anti-Western Arab governments, are instigating and supporting these violent demonstrations against Western values. Be sure to listen to our newest StandingWatch program, titled, “Europe and the Middle East.” In the program, Norbert Link discusses the current violent demonstrations in the Arab world and shows from the Bible how EUROPE will ultimately deal with the situation.

Bush Budget Plan a Headache

The Associated Press reported on February 6, 2006, about President Bush’s budget plan for the next year, as follows: “Bush’s $2.77 trillion blueprint forecasts a record $423 billion deficit for the current year and improves upon that figure in 2007 largely by lowballing cost estimates for the war in Iraq… His proposal projects $70 billion in new funds to execute the war in Iraq through the end of September… At the same time, Bush proposes to kill or dramatically slash 141 programs for savings of almost $15 billion. Congress is likely to reject many of the cuts, such as a proposal to kill the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which provides food aid to the very poor… [Republican] Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania… said proposals for [cuts in] education and health spending were ‘scandalous.’…

“With the increases for the Pentagon, this year’s Iraq and Afghanistan war costs, and new tax cuts for health care, the budget shows that deficits over the five years ending in 2011 would total nearly $1.2 trillion. Democrats charged that the real picture is worse and that Bush was understating future deficits by leaving out major items such as the long-term costs of the Iraq war.”

The article continued:

“For mandatory programs providing fixed benefits such as Medicare, farm subsidies and Medicaid and whose spending rises each year as if on autopilot, Bush is proposing $65 billion in savings over the next five years, much of it from the rapidly growing Medicare program for the elderly. The proposal would reduce spending on Medicare over the next five years by $36 billion, or less than 2 percent. Most of the reductions would come from smaller inflation adjustments for hospitals, nursing homes, home health care providers and hospices. Higher-income seniors would see increased premiums… ‘Hospitals already are stretching scarce resources to respond to the daily challenges of providing care to all who come through our doors,’ said Dick Davidson, president of the American Hospital Association. ‘Cuts to these resources will have a negative impact on the availability of care for the patients and communities we serve.'”

In light of these grim pictures, please read our free booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America.”

Domestic Spying–Legal Or Not?

As AFP reported on February 6, “US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales insisted that listening in on Americans’ phone and email conversations without a warrant was a necessary part of the US ‘war on terror’. Gonzales defended a secret government program, which has provoked a storm of opposition, in testimony to skeptical lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee. President George W. Bush authorized the domestic eavesdropping without the usual court warrants after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Gonzales asserted that the ingenuity and determination of Al-Qaeda to launch new strikes against the United States made it necessary to devise equally creative means to combat terrorism.”

The article continued:

“Senator Arlen Specter, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said that Congress was well aware of the risks posed by terrorism, but that efforts to combat it must remain within established law. Specter said he was skeptical of the administration assertion that the president, as commander-in-chief of the military, has the authority to use whatever means he deems necessary to combat terror. He noted that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) allows the government to conduct eavesdropping without a court warrant during a period of 72 hours, after which it must seek a warrant from a special FISA court. ‘The president of the United States has the fundamental responsibility to protect the country, but even … the president does not have a blank check,’ he said.”

In a related article, UPI reported on February 6:

“Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says President George W. Bush’s warrantless surveillance program appears to be illegal. Appearing on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press,’ Specter called the administration’s legal reasoning ‘strained and unrealistic’ and said the program appears to be ‘in flat violation’ of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.”

America Has Enough To Do…

On February 7, 2006, Der Spiegel Online published an interview with U.S. Gen. James Jones, who is “the top NATO commander in Europe and leader of all United States forces in Europe.”  The following exchange was quite interesting:

“SPIEGEL: The US is not only in Iraq and Afghanistan, but in many other places as well. Worldwide about 350,000 US soldiers are deployed right now. Has America still got the capacity to fight another war if necessary — for instance if Iran became a serious crisis? And how long could the only superpower sustain another conflict?

“Jones: That is a hypothetical question. The US is a big country with many resources and if it chooses to undertake certain things it usually finds a way to do it. But I’m not predicting another conflict. I think we have got enough on our hands right now.”

Afghanistan Five Years Later

On February 2, 2006, republished an article, which was first published by The following interesting and unflattering status report of a failed experiment was given:

“Afghanistan has been a policy disaster from the get-go. The country is ravaged by war and unemployment, security beyond the capital of Kabul is virtually nonexistent, and malnutrition rates are higher among children anywhere, other than sub-Saharan Africa… Afghanistan excels in one thing alone; the production and export of opium, a booming business which now provides 90% of the world’s heroin… ‘The new Afghan government promised us new schools, clinics, water pumps, but it has done nothing at all. People are so disappointed. At least the Taliban would grade the roads, build madras’s, while this government has done nothing,’ said Nyamatullah, Zabul tribal leader… The western media has done an impressive job in convincing the American people that progress is being made in Afghanistan when, in fact, the country continues to languish in destitution and chaos… The majority of the new Afghan Parliament is comprised of warlords and ex-Taliban fighters… This has… ensured that the countryside has remained under the control of the regional warlords…

“There’s been no ‘transformation’ of Afghanistan. As the New York Times reports, ‘Afghanistan does not have a viable economy. Its government is largely reliant on foreign aid (while) it struggles with an insurgency’….. ‘The country of 25 million people has some of the worst economic and health indicators in the world. 6 million people rely on food aid, 80% of the people are illiterate, and there is virtually no industry.’

“In the last year the resurgent Taliban have increased their attacks, further destabilizing areas in the south and prompting President Karzai to publicly announce that he would provide amnesty for Taliban chieftain Mullah Omar… The corporate media has done the American people a grave disservice by characterizing this drug-dependent settlement as a burgeoning democracy. Nothing could be further from the truth… Like Iraq, American troops have become the impetus for hostilities; the focus of blame for the country’s grim predicament.”

The article concluded with the following remarks of timeless validity:

“Afghanistan illustrates the shortcomings of a foreign policy that depends entirely on war to achieve its objectives. Neither peace nor security can be achieved under occupation.”

For more information on the futility of war, please read our free booklet, “Should YOU Fight in War?”

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