It is now 10 weeks since the Paris shootings which dominated the news headlines for so long.
On the morning of Wednesday 7th January 2015 at about 11:30 local time, two brothers, Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, forced their way into the offices of the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Armed with assault rifles and other weapons, they killed 11 people and injured 12 others in the building. After leaving, they killed a French National Police officer outside the building. The gunmen identified themselves as belonging to the Islamist Terrorist group Al-Qaeda's branch in Yemen, who took responsibility for the attack. Several related attacks followed in the Île-de-France region, where a further 5 were killed and 11 wounded.
In total some 20 people were killed: 8 employees, 2 police officers and 2 others at the Charlie Hebdo shooting, 1 police officer at the Montrouge shooting, 2 gunmen at the Dammartin-en-Goële hostage crisis and 4 hostages and 1 gunman at the Porte de Vincennes hostage crisis.
The killings in Paris on Wednesday January 7th 2015 were truly shocking and must be condemned and I condemn them unreservedly. There are no `buts` in my argument. We must condemn the violence against the journalists killed in Paris AND we must condemn the violence used by Western military powers against the people of the third world which is so often the Muslim world.
The commentators who were shown on BBC TV and on BBC Radio Four on Saturday 10th January 2015 all had problems with Islamic violence and there was much talk about how the Muslim community must try to integrate more, must renounce violence, must crackdown on dissidents within its own community etc. No one seemed to make the elementary point that the violence used by supposedly `civilised` Christian countries is infinitely greater yet is rarely if ever criticised.
The events of Wednesday January 7th were given huge and indeed capacity coverage in the mainstream media all around the world. How much coverage was given to the American drone strikes in Yemen or Pakistan the previous month which killed as many or more people?
According to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism about 20 people were killed in Yemen in December 2014 with the same number killed in Pakistan which remarkably enough is an `ally ` of the United States.
December 2014 actions
Total CIA strikes in December: 4
Total people reported killed: 14-20
All 2014 actions
Total strikes: 25
Total reported killed: 114-183
Civilians reported killed: 0-2
Children reported killed: 0-2
Total reported injured: 44-67
All actions 2004 – 2014
Total Obama strikes: 357
Total US strikes since 2004: 408
Total reported killed: 2,410-3,902
Civilians reported killed: 416-959
Children reported killed: 168-204
Total reported injured: 1,133-1,706
December 2014 actions
Confirmed US drone strikes: 1
Other US operations: 1
Total reported killed in all US operations: 20-21
Civilians reported killed in all US operations: 8
All confirmed drone strikes in 2014
US drone strikes: 13-15
Total reported killed: 82-118
Civilians reported killed: 4-9
Children reported killed: 1
Reported injured: 7-14
All actions 2002 – 2014*
Confirmed US drone strikes: 72-84
Total reported killed: 371-541
Civilians reported killed: 64-83
Children reported killed: 7
Reported injured: 81-199
Possible extra US drone strikes: 101-120
Total reported killed: 345-553
Civilians reported killed: 26-68
Children reported killed: 6-11
Reported injured: 90-123
All other US covert operations: 16-81
Total reported killed: 168-404
Civilians reported killed: 68-97
Children reported killed: 26-28
Reported injured: 22-115
There have also been drone strikes on Somalia:
All Somalia actions in 2014
Total US drone strikes: 3
Total reported killed: 10-18
Civilians reported killed: 0
Children reported killed: 0
Since winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 Barack Obama has attacked no less than 7 countries. Obama said he was "surprised" and "deeply humbled" by his award. He stated that he did not feel he deserved the award. Given that since his `peace` award he has bombed Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Iraq and most recently Syria he may well be right in saying he is not deserving of such an award. All of the countries he has bombed are predominantly Muslim countries.
When was the last time a Muslim country or indeed any country bombed the United States, Britain or France? I don’t mean a so-called terrorist attack like the September 11th attack on the US in 2001 or the 7/7 bombings in London in 2005 or last week’s tragic shootings in Paris. I’m talking about saturation bombings of countries, brutal sanctions like those that killed a million people in Iraq, the use of ghastly weapons like Phosphorus, Depleted Uranium, Agent Orange and the awful humiliation of people in prisons such as Abu Ghraib, Bagram air base and most infamously Guantanamo.
When did any so-called terrorist group ever inflict that kind of damage on the `civilised` west?
If we are to condemn what is called Muslim violence how about condemning the vastly greater violence perpetrated in the name of Christianity such as that espoused by George W Bush and Tony Blair. How about the violence of Israel against the Palestinians?
Zionism which is a perversion of Judaism seems to have no problem with the theft of land, torture, daily humiliation and slaughter of thousands of Palestinians.
The policy of keeping the rest of the world in absolute poverty through institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund along with the theft of resources from other countries by the use of extreme violence is bound to lead to resentment which breeds the kind of blowback that we saw last January in Paris.
Sunday 11th January 2015 saw the `unity march`; Al Jazeera reported `Around 2,200 security personnel will guard the route of the march, which will run three kilometres from the historic Place de la Republique to Place de la Nation in the east of the capital, the interior minister said, with snipers stationed on rooftops.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas were set to join, as well as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the King and Queen of Jordan.
Public transport will be free to ease access into and throughout Paris and international train operator Thalys said it was also cutting fares to the French capital on Sunday.
Hours before the march, crowds began to gather in Place de la Republique, a traditional location for demonstrations.
"We're expecting to see a huge public display of support, of people from all sectors of society, including members of the Muslim community," Al Jazeera's Jacky Rowland reported from the square.
"There will be representatives of all political parties, as one of the main messages is that now is time for national unity and that different agendas of political parties should be put aside." `
At the scene - Patrick Jackson, BBC News
`A human tide is flowing steadily along streets shut to traffic into the Place de la Republique, one of the starting points for the March.
Everywhere is the slogan "Je suis Charlie" ("I am Charlie"): on homemade placards, on armbands, on T-shirts. A family marches four abreast holding up print-outs in plastic sleeves.
And there are flags too: full-sized French tricolores carried by demonstrators, the colours of the Republic on the Square of the Republic.
They are waved from the tiers of the iconic Republic monument, where demonstrators are perched on the giant statues symbolising the old, but so vital for this nation now, values of liberty, equality and fraternity. `
Al Jazeera covered the unity march on Sunday afternoon with around 40 world leaders shown interlocking arms which supposedly sent out a message to the `International Community` - whoever they are.
This photo op for so many politicians is unlikely to be repeated at the scene of a US drone strike in Yemen or an Israeli assault on Gaza or at a scene such the Ameriyah air raid shelter bombing in Baghdad which killed hundreds of terrified women, children and old men during the first Gulf War in February 1991.
Violence against Muslims seems to merit far less media coverage. Speaking on Russia Today Chris Bamberry made the point that the biggest massacre in Europe in recent years was committed by Anders Breivik who killed 77 people on his anti-Muslim rampage. On July 22nd 2011 he detonated a car bomb near the office of the Norwegian Prime Minister killing 8 people and then went on to commit a mass shooting at the AUF (Norwegian Workers' Youth League) summer youth camp on the island of Utøya near Oslo, where 650 young people were staying. Breivik, disguised in a police uniform, ran amok shooting dead another 69 people.
Breivik stated that the purpose of the attack was to save Norway and Western Europe from a Muslim takeover, and that the Labour Party had to "pay the price" for "letting down Norway and the Norwegian people.”
Where was the million strong demonstration then and the sombre world leaders linking arms?
SACC (Scotland against Criminalising Communities)
Statement on the Paris Shootings and Islamophobia
We condemn the recent murderous attack at the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo magazine, which resulted in the death of twelve innocent people and injury to a number of others.
People cannot under any circumstances be considered legitimate targets for assassination, whether by death squad or by drone, whether in Paris, in Yemen or in Pakistan, because of their involvement in works of art, journalism, culture, propaganda, humour, political comment or any other intellectual activity.
We also condemn the subsequent hostage-taking by the attackers and their associates. Hostage-taking is unacceptable in any circumstances, but was in this case particularly repugnant because one of the hostage-takers selected a kosher supermarket for his action, telling a TV station that he had chosen the shop "because it was Jewish." His action resulted in the death of another four innocent people. Crimes committed by the Israeli Government cannot under any circumstances justify crimes against Jewish people.
We offer our sympathy and condolences to the survivors of the attack and to the friends and family of the victims.
The attackers targeted Charlie Hebdo staff because of the magazine's record of publishing satirical material insulting to Islam. It is perfectly clear that they saw their action as part of a wider struggle, political as well as religious. They sought a target in France because of the long involvement of European powers, as well as the US, in wars and acts of aggression in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa. Imperialist war and intervention destroys lives, undermines the self-determination of the peoples of the affected regions and threatens world peace. It must stop.
We do not support the publication of material that depicts Islam and Muslims in the derisive way favoured by Charlie Hebdo. It is blatantly islamophobic, and is symptomatic of the prevalence of islamophobia in Europe, and in particular of the failure of large sections of the French left to make any serious effort to challenge this mood.
This kind of material browbeats the Muslim community, contributes to its marginalisation, and tends to inhibit Muslim self-expression and engagement with other communities. It is a collective echo of the way that US interrogators use derisive treatment of the Koran as an adjunct to other forms of torture in an attempt to undermine the psychological health of their victims.
The wide circulation of islamophobic images from Charlie Hebdo, in supposed solidarity with the murder victims, looks very like an attempt to impose collective punishment on the Muslim community.
SACC has no collective religious affiliation, but we recognise that this kind of imagery, as well as being offensive to anti-racists of all races and religions, is on religious grounds especially upsetting to Muslims.
Besides its impact on Muslims, and perhaps even more importantly, this sort of material is likely to incite anti-Muslim hatred within the majority community. It reduces opposition to legislation that impacts adversely on the Muslim community, reduces opposition to institutional islamophobia, promotes public distrust and antipathy towards Muslims, and risks encouraging violent attacks against Muslims. Muslims are at much greater risk of this sort of thing than are the followers of most other religions, so special care is needed in creating or publishing material that might have these effects.
Islamophobic imagery lends strength, regardless of the intentions of its creators, to far-right and fascist parties that threaten other minorities besides Muslims, and in the end threaten the rights, freedoms and living conditions of working-class people of all communities.
Especially when appearing at the same time as headlines like "Assault on Democracy" (Guardian, 8 January), islamophobic material creates an atmosphere conducive to further acts of overseas aggression by our government and its allies. The sensational headlines pay scant heed to that fact that the Paris attack was far smaller than the 9/11 attack (2,996 dead), which itself generated an overblown and counter-productive response, and the 2011 fascist attacks in Oslo and Utøya by Anders Breivik ( 77 dead, mostly teenagers, and 319 injured).
We do not advocate any change in the law to make it easier to prosecute the kind of islamophobic material published by Charlie Hebdo. But we urge everyone to desist from creating, supporting, encouraging or circulating this kind of material. We are appalled at the recent announcement by Guardian Media and Google that they will be making substantial donations to Charlie Hebdo.
We are opposed to the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill currently progressing through Parliament, and we would deplore any attempt to use the tragic events in Paris to drum up support for it. It creates a range of new powers that are wide open to abuse. It gives police the power to seize people's passports, and gives the Government the power to bar British citizens from entering the country. Shockingly, it also gives Prevent officials the power to have children taken away from their parents so that they can be subjected to a "deradicalisation" programme.
We remain opposed to the whole body of UK anti-terrorism legislation enacted since 2000, almost all of it on the understanding that it would primarily target Muslims. Terrorism is best dealt with under the ordinary criminal law, not under laws that create new offences, put whole communities under suspicion, and create "terrorists" out of people who have no intention of carrying out actions that would otherwise be regarded as criminal.
No to Violence. No to War. No to Racism.
The international press has been saturated by opinions and comments from condemnation to outrage to demonization of Islam and all Moslems as a result of the recent horrific atrocities at the hands of three French Moslems in Paris
Deplorable as it was, condemning 1.7 billion followers of a particular faith for the deeds of three individuals is outrageous.
The straw that broke the camel’s back as far as I am concerned was the utter hypocrisy of the Prime Minister of Israel, Mr.... Benjamin Netanyahu, who told the French ambassador to Israel that Israel is mourning “with our French brothers and sisters” and is committed to joint action “to defeat the enemies of the democratic values we all cherish.”
What exactly are these democratic values you share?
Is the ethnic cleansing of Palestine democratic?
Is the jailing of children for ten years for throwing a stone democratic?
Is the administrative detention, without charge for years on end of Palestinians democratic? And finally, as you weep at the murder of the French journalists of Charlie Hebdo do you not consider the Israeli murder of 17 Palestinians journalists in 2014 not only undemocratic but totally barbaric?
In case they have slipped your mind, here they are, Mr. Netanyahu:
1. Hamid Abdullah Shehab – “Media 24″company.
2. Najla Mahmoud Haj – media activist.
3 Khalid Hamad – the “Kontnao” Media Production company.
4. Ziad Abdul Rahman Abu Hin – al-Ketab satellite channel.
5. Ezzat Duheir – Prisoners Radio.
6. Bahauddin Gharib – Palestine TV.
7 Ahed Zaqqout – veteran sports journalist.
8 Ryan Rami – Palestinian Media Network.
9 Sameh Al-Arian – Al-Aqsa TV.
10 Mohammed Daher – Editor in al-Resala paper.
11. Abdullah Vhjan – sports journalist.
12 journalist Khaled Hamada Mqat- Director of Saja news website.
13. freelance journalist Shadi Hamdi Ayyad.
14 photojournalist Mohammed Nur al-Din al-Dairi – works in the Palestinian Network.
15. journalist Ali Abu Afesh – Doha Center for Media.
16 Italian journalist Simone Camille – photographer in the Associated Press.
17. Abdullah fadel Murtaja.
And finally, something close to home as far as I am concerned. A Palestinian cartoonist, Mohammad Saba’neh from a little village south of Jenin called Qabatyeh was thrown into jail and maltreated by Israel for doing exactly what the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo do. He too is a cartoonist and here is some of his art, honed while in jail.
No, Je ne suis pas, Charlie. Je suis Mohammad Saba’neh.
By Seyla Benhabib
Eugene Mayer Professor of Political Science and Philosophy and Director of the program in Ethics, Politics, and Economics
The greatest casualty of the cruel mayhem and turmoil in France is that, more than a decade after September 11, 2001, those who seek a global confrontation between Islam and the West may gain the upper hand, while those of us who have sought dialogue, conversation and critique across these cultural divides with Muslim intellectuals and academics may appear as "anti-, anti-Islamophobes."
Michael Walzer has just published an article on the DISSENT website criticizing those on the American Left who have refrained from criticizing Islam, fundamentalist Islamists and Jihadists - suggesting that they may flow into each other more seamlessly than many think.
( http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/islamism-and-the-left). If we fail to seek at least some of the roots of political Islam's violent actions in the Muslim religion itself, we may abet rather than confront these movements.
Yet even before the horrid events in France a significant number of intellectuals in Europe, in the United States and elsewhere shared Michael Walzer's views. Is it just a coincidence that the week of the attack on Charlie Hebdo, Michel Houellébecq's new novel "La Soumission" which predicts that France will have a Muslim President in 2020 is released? Another best-selling book by Ėric Zemmour, called "La Suicide," attacks the powers that be and the left for their helplessness in view of Islamization, globalization and Americanization. PEGIDA, a German organization whose German acronym translates as "Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West" assembled 18,000 marchers in Dresden on January 5th. Everywhere in Europe anti-immigrant parties are on the rise and "anti-immigrant" simply seems to be a stand-in for "anti-Muslim." We are facing "Europe's Dangerous Moment." (Steven Erlanger, NYT, January 8, 2015).
On the same day as the attack on Charlie Hebdo 26 died in an attack in Yemen, more than that number in Iraq. Who is counting anymore? Two weeks ago more than 130 school children were massacred in Peshawar, Pakistan. Every week hundreds of refugees arrive on the shores of Europe from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, etc. A big swath of the globe, extending from North and Eastern North Africa to vast regions of the Middle East and all the way to the mountains of Afghanistan is caught in a death spiral, with states and societies disintegrating at dizzying speeds. What is happening in this swath of the world? And how exactly is it related to the recent violence in Europe, in Australia, in Canada, and most likely soon again, in the United States as well?
It is not enough to repeat the old bromides about Islam and violence; the Koran and the anti-Enlightenment; the need to stand up for the West... Yes, yes, all that is true but does it help us understand why, with the exception of countries like Turkey, Jordan, Iran, Morocco and Tunis, the center does not hold in Syria, Egypt, Libya, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen? Or when it does, as in the Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, it does so at the cost of unmitigated repression and corruption?
The condition of these societies is not only generating blind rage among many young Muslims (men in particular), but also something deeper that I will call "civilizational despair." You cannot cure this by declaring war on Jihad. For many young Muslims there seems no way out of the cycle of violence, corruption, and poverty. Coupled with the condition of unemployment and marginalization, contempt and sarcasm, exploitation and scorn that many suffer - whether in Paris or London, Berlin or Athens, Rome or Amsterdam, Oslo or Copenhagen - the fertile ground is there for recruiting and training Jihadists to join the hundreds of groups that have now mushroomed in the Middle East. The Kouachi brothers were trained in Yemen and had traveled through Syria. They are clearly part of a global network of fighters who are now circulating in and out of the conflict zones in the Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and even Chechnya. Many Chechens are reported to be fighting with ISIS or ISIL in Syria.
As my colleague Andrew March points out in his response to Michael Walzer, "they are here, because we are there."
( http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/islamism-and-left-exchange) The United States and European powers are in one way or another, all implicated in the fate of this region, and have been so - in the case of Europe at least - for centuries. After destabilizing Iraq and supporting for years a Shi'ite regime that marginalized and infuriated Iraqi Sunnis (some of whom now constitute a strong force in ISIS or ISIL), the US has found itself compelled to get re-involved by dropping bombs and sending drones to the area.
Let me be clear: the bombing of ISIS to save the Yazidis who faced an impending genocide was justified; I also wish more had been done to save the Kurdish town of Kobani from ISIS fighters. But to most people in the region, caught between the brutality of the Syrian regime, the declining power of the Syrian opposition (which we have left down) and the mind-numbing violence of ISIS, Western bombs appear part of the same mayhem and blind fate which they cannot understand or control. That is why many prefer to die on the shores of the Mediterranean rather than through the cluster-bombs and chemical agents of the Syrian regime or the sword of ISIS.
No, I don't think that the attack on Charlie Hebdo and the ensuing violence is just a reaction to the offense to Prophet Mohammed or to Islam; neither do I think that it is about what the Koran says or does not say about blasphemy and apostasy. At its root, it is driven by Muslim rage and Arab Muslim civilizational despair. Islam's current-day reformers are few and far between, while itinerant and fiery preachers like al-Madoudi have captured global audiences. But even if there were a significant reform movement within Islam, I don't believe that this would be enough. What is needed is a regional or international effort on the scale of a Marshall plan for the Arab Muslim world that will invest in infrastructure, communications, agriculture, industry, medicine and education. Just as Europe was pulled out of its devastation after WWII, so too this region which is almost bleeding to death, needs to be resuscitated.
At least forty million people died in Europe before peace could be re-established, the European Union could emerge and Germany could be brought back to the standard of living it had enjoyed before the WWII. The sum total of the devastation and wars in the larger Middle East has not yet been tallied. I suspect that the casualties number around 5-8 million. Do we have to wait until we reach the same levels of devastation as in Europe before we realize that the way to end many Muslim's civilizational despair is to provide hope? Wasn't this the promise of the Arab Spring revolutions? They did not succeed in my view for at least three reasons:
• Many regimes in the Middle East are in the grips either of reactionary oligarchies supported by the West - such as Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates- or of successor military-civilian regimes that emerged out of coups that displaced those oligarchies (Nasserism and Ba'athism in Egypt and Syria; The Qaddafi revolution in Libya). Western powers (but also the Soviet Union and Russia) have supported one or another of these groups for their purposes throughout centuries. Civil society and the forces of political representation are weak and stunted, and repressed as soon as they take root;
• The game of superpower influence in this region continues. The CIA and the British Intelligence Service deposed the Mossadegh regime, who had nationalized Iran's oil industry and who was suspected of being a communist, in 1953, throwing its support behind that of the corrupt Shah Pahlavi who would then be overthrown in the early 1979 by the Khomeini Revolution. Against growing Soviet influence in Afghanistan, the United States armed the mujahadeen and the Islamists; the Soviet Union withdrew and the USA inherited the mess it had created by supporting Islamist forces against communism. The Soviet Union and now Russia have maintained a special relationship with Syria and continue to do so. After Russia persuaded President Obama not to attack Syria once it became clear that it had used chemical weapons on its own population, the Syrian situation ran into a stalemate. The victims of this manoeuvring were the civilian population and the refugees who were deprived of free passage to neighbouring countries to be guaranteed by a no-fly zone protected by NATO and US possibly.
It may now be too late to restabilize Syria and support the opposition without making huge concessions to ISIS, which is in the process of consolidating the territory it holds in western Syria into a larger Sunni state with portions of western north Iraq. Some kind of a larger Sunni state in this region will result in the partition of Syria and Iraq. The Kurds may be the only winners and acquire either a state of their own or enough autonomy and control of the oil fields such as to remain somewhat immune to the instabilities surrounding them.
• The wound that the continuing Israeli- Palestinian conflict has inflicted upon the Arab psyche cannot be underestimated. Surely, the hypocrisy of many Arab states such as Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Saudi Arabia in using the misery and vulnerability of the Palestinian refugees for their own purposes cannot be forgotten. All states in this region, at one time or another, exploited the Israeli-Palestinian impasse - whether it be to destabilize their neighbors, propagate their own brand of Islam, or whip up anti-Semitism among their own populations to divert attention from their own corrupt and autocratic purposes.
Nor can we overlook the fact that Israel, whether willingly or not, has been the most vivid reminder to Palestinians and Arabs of the weaknesses, ineptitudes and blockages in their own civilization. Despair about the state of the Arab Muslim world is also despair about the humiliation suffered at the hands of the Israel. And I say this is as a Jew, committed to the existence of Israel in a peaceful Middle East as a democratic state.
Since it has not been possible to resolve this conflict so far, and because the United States’ commitment to Israel has been unwavering, Muslim Arab hopelessness has balled into venomous resentment against the West in general - leading to such absurd beliefs that the Twin Towers were not brought down by planes guided by Al-Qaeda Jihadists but by Jews themselves!
Can this global picture of Arab-Muslim rage and despair really explain why two French-Algerian citizens would select Charlie Hebdo rather than any other target and attack it?
To focus the debate so narrowly, upon the questions of intolerance, blasphemy, apostasy in Islam or the aesthetics of Charlie Hebdo's caricatures, is to miss the real point.
Until enough changes take place in these societies and until the rage and humiliation suffered by Europe's Muslims is mitigated through economic and social programs of successful integration, there will be other targets, and if not caricatures, then telenovellas, operas, video games or other forms of cultural expression which will be attacked. For they are not the cause but simply the occasion for venting rage and despair.
Many social scientists, philosophers and cultural critics have devoted their lives to understanding the rise of the Third Reich and the Hitler regime out of the much-admired achievements of German philosophy, art, music from the 18th to the 20th centuries. Yet no one would explain the aesthetic of the Nazi rag-journal "Der Stuermer" as being primarily responsible for the rise of anti-Semitism and National Socialism.
That is why we also need to move beyond a laziness of thought which diverts attention from the real war taking place in the souls and minds of the Muslim Arab world by focusing solely on the "war of images and caricatures."
It is not piety or impiety that we need to understand but the sources of Muslim rage and despair that we need to decipher, for that rage and despair will always find new images to attack until their sources are healed.
The Hannah Arendt Center at Bard is a unique institution, offering a marriage of non-partisan politics and the humanities. It serves as an intellectual incubator for engaged thinking and public discussion of the nation's most pressing political and ethical challenges.
Public discourse is the bedrock of our democracy. Amid the cacophony of media pundits and the proliferation of think-tanks, the Hannah Arendt Center is singular in its approach: we address politics free from the jostling over policy. The Arendt Center offers an institutional space for passionate, controversial, yet non-partisan thinking that reframes and deepens the fundamental questions facing our nation and our world. In the spirit of Hannah Arendt, the Center’s mission is to encourage people to “think what we are doing.”
Click here to read a letter from Hannah Arendt Center Academic Director, Roger Berkowitz.
By Patrick Cockburn of The Independent who writes:
The British decision to spend £15m establishing a naval base at Mina Salman Port in Bahrain is being presented as a "symbolic" deal to increase stability in the region, guard against unnamed threats and strengthen Britain's partnership with the states of the Gulf.
The agreement will identify Britain as an old colonial power strongly supporting the Sunni monarchy in Bahrain that mercilessly crushed demands for democracy and civil rights from the island's Shia majority during the Arab Spring in 2011.
Even by the standards of the time, repression was excessive. Shia mosques and holy places were bulldozed. Doctors at the main hospital in Bahrain that treated injured protesters were tortured by being forced to stand without sleep for days on end. Other prisoners were told that unless they sang the praises of the king their interrogators would urinate into their mouths.
At the heart of the crisis convulsing this part of the Middle East is a struggle between Sunni and Shia, and Britain has openly taken the side of the former. It may not necessarily be a good long-term investment.
The total population of states bordering on the Gulf is about 145 million of whom at least 110 million are Shia. It is a mistake to think that the Shia in the rest of the Middle East do not notice or care what happens to their co-religionists in Bahrain. The Islamic State (Isis) fighters have become the shock troops of the Sunni communities in Iraq and Syria but their extremism and international isolation may lead to a defeat for the Sunni in both countries.
There is no question about Bahrain's toxic human rights record. An independent inquiry in 2011 catalogued abuses and, despite promises of reform, torture and mistreatment continue.
Last year even the United States State Department, normally cautious when it comes to highlighting the failings of the Sunni monarchies of the Gulf, said that the abuses in Bahrain included "citizens' inability to change their government peacefully; arrest and detention of protesters on vague charges, in some cases leading to their torture in detention; and lack of due process in trials of political and human rights."
Only last week Bahraini human rights activist Zainab al-Khawaja was sentenced to three years in prison for "insulting the king" by tearing up his photograph. She had just given birth to her second child, and is free on bail pending appeal. Her father, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, is already in jail serving a life term for his role in encouraging the Arab Spring protests.
Nabeel Rajab, one of Bahrain's leading human rights activists, was arrested on 1 October because he "offended national institutions" by his comments on social media. Mr Rajab had criticised the government for using counterterrorism laws to prosecute human rights defenders, and had accused the Bahraini security forces of encouraging violent beliefs similar to those of IS.
He pointed out that a former Bahraini interior ministry officer, Mohamed Isa al-Binali, had joined Isis and was calling on other interior ministry employees to do likewise. Among Mr Rajab's tweets was one saying: "Many Bahrain men who joined terrorism & Isis came from security institutions and those institutions were the first ideological incubator." The Bahraini security forces often draw their personnel from other Sunni states such as Pakistan and Jordan and they then become naturalised Bahraini citizens. The Bahraini Shia say there is a continuing campaign to deny them jobs in all sectors and to change the demographic balance on the island in favour of the Sunni.
There has always been a strong strain of hypocrisy in the claims of the US and Britain to support secular democracy and civil rights in countries such as Libya and Syria. They do so in alliance with Sunni theocratic absolute monarchies such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and UAE which understandably have no interest in spreading secular democracy anywhere. In 2011, UAE said it would refuse to join the coalition against the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi if there was any criticism of Bahraini repression.
The most powerful figure in Bahrain is widely regarded as being not King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa but the Prime Minister, Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa who has held his office since 1970. Calls for his resignation were one of the main demands of demonstrators three years ago, but he has steadfastly refused to step down.
Bahrain was a British protectorate from the 19th century until independence in 1971, ruled by the al-Khalifa dynasty that has long looked to Britain to shield it from international reaction against domestic repression. From the mid-1960s the head of security on the island was Ian Henderson who had played a role in the suppressing the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya in the 1950s. Successive periods of protest were harshly dealt with.
Since 2011 Britain has played a role in muting the international reaction to the suppression of the protests by emphasising that a dialogue is under way and reforms are being introduced, though nobody else sees any sign of these going anywhere. It has played along with Bahraini government claims that Iran is orchestrating Shia dissent on the island though there is no evidence for this.
Sectarian hatreds between the Sunni and Shia communities within Bahrain have deepened in the last three years with the Shia more marginalised than ever. There had been divisions within the royal family about how to handle dissent, with the King and Crown Prince seeking compromise and the Prime Minister and the branch of the al-Khalifa known as "Khawalids" opposed to sharing any power with the majority. But these differences seem to have ended with a victory for the latter faction which can increasingly ignore Shia protests that are confined to villages and the outskirts of the capital, Manama.
It is not at all clear why Britain needs to establish its first permanent naval base in the Middle East since 1970 in Bahrain, other than the fact that it is possible to do so.
British intervention in Iraq after 2003 saw the deployment of ground troops in Basra, but they were far too few to control the city or the surrounding countryside. There was a political failure to understand the degree of popular hostility and resistance this force would face.
Much the same happened in Helmand Province in Afghanistan after 2006, when again the numbers of British soldiers were too few to assert control while they were enough to provoke local opposition.
The base in Bahrain will be used to support RAF operations against the Islamic State in Iraq, but these are on such a small scale that they will not do much to affect the outcome of the war with Isis. Most British disasters in the Middle East over the past century have stemmed from wishing to be a major player in the region, while underestimating the resources necessary to do so.
Source: The Independent
Mazin Qumisiyeh Palestinian activist writes
So on politics briefly: "Many French readers wrote to say they appreciated the presence of Mahmoud Abbas in the rally in Paris.
Sunday. I agree it was good to show solidarity with people in France (we also had vigils in Ramallah and Hebron among other places). Now we wish that Mr Abbas would go to Gaza and lead a march to commemorate both the 16 victims in Paris and also the 2200 victims in Gaza. And perhaps like Gandhi he and other PLO leaders could declare a fast until the blockade is lifted (already 4 died from cold weather)."
Wouldn’t it be nice if 40 world leaders travelled to Cuba to express their disgust at the ongoing abomination of Guantanamo where nearly 60 people who are actually cleared for release are still being held?
On the BBC rolling news channel on Monday 12th January there was as expected near saturation coverage of the Paris shootings. The programme did give about 3 minutes to a story of a massacre in Nigeria of 2,000 people by Boko Haram.
On RT Boris Johnson was quoted saying "I’m not particularly interested in this civil liberties stuff."
RT spoke of: “A sea of solidarity engulfs Paris. Sombre and defiant - estimates of up to 3 million people.”
The BBC website reported that France is to deploy 10,000 troops to boost security after last week's deadly attacks, and will send thousands of police to protect Jewish schools.
BBC 2 Daily Politics of Monday January 12th 2015 showed identical footage simultaneously with RT. The theme of the programme was immigration and UKIP MP Douglas Carswell was featured and he said that he was unhappy with the automatic right of 400,000,000 people from the EU to come and live here. This presumably would include French people who we are supposedly in sympathy with at the moment. The problem seems to be not so much with white skinned immigrants like French, Dutch, Swedish or German, the main objections relate to swarthy Romanians which of course is racism. There are plenty of fine Romanians around, when I was younger I was in unrequited love with Romanian tennis player Virginia Ruzici and I for one would have no objections to a few like her coming over here.
Barbara Grace Tucker who lived 24/7 in Parliament Square opposite the British Houses of Parliament for over 7 years wrote on the Brian Haw website:
NATO ‘PEACE’ RALLY IN PARIS MOCKS ‘TRUE INTERPRETATION’ OF SOCIETY’S RULE OF LAW. (11.01.2015)
Most people have recognized that it is certainly a desperate move for NATO ‘leaders’ to line up to lead a ‘Peace’ Rally in Paris !
Nevertheless many people honestly marched to oppose terror in all its forms.
What stood out is that not a single cowardly NATO 'leader' who all had to surround themselves with a rent-a-mob of 'security', had a single banner, or wanted one in the background of their photo shoot, while they dared not make any speeches.
This was because not only do none of these NATO puppets stand with or for civilians anywhere, but it could well have turned ugly had a civilian population who do not support NATO, turned on them.
The fact remains that there are no legal grounds for NATO being in the Middle East.
It is simple that people either properly oppose colonial wars or they do not.
The distant sound of bells that can still be heard as they ring out from villages throughout France at 7am, midday, and 7pm remind everyone that there are essential rhythms in life that all decent and civilized people continue.
The BBC One O’clock news of Monday 12th January 2015 had a report from the Golden Globe awards which featured references to Paris. George Clooney mentioned it in his speech while Helen Mirren was shown wearing a huge pen like brooch saying that the `pen is mightier than the sword`.
From The Times of Israel Sunday January 4th 2015:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday threatened a strong response to the Palestinian application to join the International Criminal Court, saying the move represented the opening salvo of a further confrontation with Israel.
Speaking to his cabinet hours after Jerusalem announced financial sanctions in response to the Palestinian move, Netanyahu vowed Israel would take action and that the country would not sit back and allow IDF soldiers to be prosecuted abroad.
“The Palestinian Authority has chosen confrontation with Israel and we will not sit idly by,” Netanyahu said at his office in Jerusalem. “We will not allow IDF soldiers and commanders to be hauled before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.”
Last week, the Palestinians filed an application to join the ICC after a failed bid to pass a UN Security Council resolution on Palestinian statehood demanding an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines by the end of 2017. The resolution did not gain the necessary nine council member votes it needed for approval, though it would have likely been vetoed by the United States in any case.
Netanyahu said Palestinians leaders were the ones who should be prosecuted in the ICC over their unification with rival faction Hamas.
“It is the Palestinian Authority leaders – who have allied with the war criminals of Hamas – who must be called to account,” he said. “IDF soldiers will continue to protect the State of Israel with determination and strength, and just as they are protecting us we will protect them, with the same determination and strength.” Abbas’s Fatah and Hamas are backers of the current Palestinian unity government. Hamas, the terror group that controls Gaza, calls for the destruction of Israel.
On Saturday Israel froze NIS 500 million ($127 million) in Palestinian tax revenues collected on Ramallah’s behalf, in response to the ICC membership request.
The frozen funds are Palestinian taxes collected by Israel which were intended to be transferred to the PA’s coffers on Friday. Israel has threatened retaliation against the Palestinians should they move to join the court, and Washington condemned the Palestinian move as a hindrance to efforts at reaching an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord.
The PA submitted documents to the United Nations on Friday to join the International Criminal Court after Abbas signed the Rome Statute and 19 other international treaties on Wednesday.
On Thursday, Abbas asked the International Criminal Court to investigate Israel for war crimes allegedly committed during the 50-day war with Hamas and other Gaza terror groups last summer.
Israel lost 66 soldiers and seven civilians in the month-long conflict, while the Palestinian death toll surpassed 2,100, according to Hamas officials in Gaza. Israel said half of the Gaza dead were gunmen and blamed Hamas for civilian deaths because it operated from residential areas, placing Gazans in harm’s way.
From JVP (Jewish Voice for Peace):
For nine days in November, we had the privilege of being part of the Washington State Physicians for Social Responsibility Health Delegation to Gaza. To be in Gaza so soon after last summer’s devastating war was to catch a glimpse –through the heart-wrenching stories we heard and the massive destruction we saw – of the grotesque horror of those 51 days in July and August.
Now, six months later, as a winter storm sweeps the area, we are hearing reports from friends and colleagues of extremely dire conditions. The ongoing siege of Gaza means that a lack of electricity, heating oil, potable water, sewage facilities, garbage collection and other essential infrastructure is exacerbating the conditions of an environmental health disaster. Tens of thousands of people are still homeless, and at least three infants and one man have frozen to death, and others have died in fires as a result of being forced to rely unsafe heat sources.
Charlie Hebdo continued to make the news on Tuesday 13th January 2015 with the BBC website having the banner headline: `Defiant Charlie Hebdo depicts Prophet Muhammad on cover`.
The Daily Politics of Tuesday 13th January – writer and biologist Richard Dawkins suggested that Islam was somehow more violent than other religions. The headline on the screen was `Religious Extremism` - presumably meaning the religion of Islam.
The BBC news website at about the same time had detailed coverage of the funeral ceremonies in Paris and Jerusalem.
The BBC One O’clock news devoted the first third of its thirty minute bulletin to the funerals of the police officers shot in Paris and to the burials of the four who elected to be buried in Jerusalem with that great man of peace Benjamin Netanyahu present as he was at the `Unity march` in Paris on Sunday 11th January.
Newscaster Sophie Raworth solemnly told us that the terror alert was `severe` meaning that an attack was highly likely.
By contrast the Russia Today news of two O’clock on Tuesday January 13th lead on the large scale attacks on Muslims in France where mosques have been set on fire and journalist Harry Fear reported on how little is being done to protect them.
The Al Jazeera website of Tuesday 13the January 2015 also led with the funerals of the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attacks:
Wednesday 14th January saw continuing coverage of the Charlie Hebdo affair with the Washington Post having the headline: `Charlie Hebdo’s new Muhammad cartoon sparks fears of more violence in France`. The front page had a sober picture of French President Francois Holland as he paid his respects at the coffin of a murdered French policeman.
BBC Radio Four 4’s Today programme of Wednesday 14th January 2015 told us the numbers of that week’s Charlie Hebdo to be printed was 3 million. After its previous circulation had been a mere 60,000.
While it is necessary to condemn the senseless slaughter of the journalists at the magazine Charlie Hebdo there should also be condemnation of the Western (essentially American) attacks on media outlets around the world. During NATO’s attack on the former Yugoslavia there was an attack on 23rd April 1999 during the Kosovo War which killed 16 media workers including many journalists. Then British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the attack was entirely justified. Would the Serbs be `entirely justified` in blowing up the BBC or Fox News?
From the Guardian of 24th April 1999:
NATO leaders yesterday scrambled to justify the bombing of Serbia's state television station in an attack which killed a number of civilian workers and marked a further widening in the scope of targets now considered legitimate.
The attack on the building in the centre of Belgrade - which contradicted an apparent assurance by Nato this month that only transmitters would be hit - was condemned by international journalists' organisations, representing both employers and unions.
Reporters at the scene said they saw the almost decapitated body of one man dangling from the rubble, and the body of a make-up artist. Another man was trapped between two concrete blocks. Doctors amputated his legs at the site but he later died.
The state-run news agency Tanjug said about 150 people were inside the building at the time of the attack. The minister without portfolio, Goran Matic, said that in addition to 10 dead and 18 wounded, at least 20 people were feared buried in the rubble.
Officials said the missile also destroyed a satellite link with Eurovision used by foreign television crews to transmit material abroad, though the station was back on the air in Serbia within six hours.
The attack was the latest in a series of controversial targets, and followed the bombing of President Slobodan Milosevic's house on Thursday and an attack the previous day on the Serbian Socialist party's headquarters building, which also contained the offices of television stations run by members of his family or people close to his regime.
Tony Blair, in Washington for NATO’s 50th anniversary summit, insisted that bombing television stations was 'entirely justified' since they were part of the 'apparatus of dictatorship and power of Milosevic'. He added: 'The responsibility for every single part of this action lies with the man who has engaged in this policy of ethnic cleansing and must be stopped.'
At a heated press briefing at the Ministry of Defence, Clare Short, the international development secretary, said: 'This is a war, this is a serious conflict, untold horrors are being done. The propaganda machine is prolonging the war and it's a legitimate target.'
Admiral Sir Ian Garnett, chief of joint operations at the Ministry of Defence, said Mr Milosevic's 'propaganda machine consists of transmitters but also the studios from which the information is transmitted. That makes it part of the overall military structure. Both elements have to be attacked.'
NATO’s military spokesman, Air Commodore David Wilby, two weeks ago described RTS, the Serbian state broadcasting station, as a 'legitimate target which filled the airways with hate and with lies over the years'. However, Jamie Shea, the NATO council spokesman, denied that RTS was a target, distinguishing between transmitters 'integrated into [military] command and control communications' and normal broadcasting facilities.
On April 12, Mr Shea told Aidan White, the general secretary of the International Federation of Journalists, that NATO would 'target military targets only. Television and radio towers are only struck if they are integrated into military facilities, as they often are in Yugoslavia,' he said, but added: 'There is no policy to strike television and radio transmitters as such.'
In a statement yesterday, the IFJ condemned the attack, warning that it could lead to reprisals against independent journalists who have been campaigning against controls imposed by the Milosevic regime. 'We have been trying to trace journalists who have gone missing or been detained by the Serb authorities. Their plight is made ever more perilous by this latest strike,' it said.
John Foster, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists described the attack as 'barbarity'. He added: 'Killing journalists does not stop censorship, it only brings more repression.' Peter Almond, chairman of the Defence Correspondents' Association, expressed 'considerable disquiet', particularly in the light of Mr Shea's assurance to the IFJ.
In Geneva, the European Broadcasting Union, which groups the main stations in and around Europe, said the Belgrade television centre had been used to transmit news reports by international as well as local media. 'We do not see how the suppression of news sources can serve any useful purpose,' the EBU's president, Albert Scharf, said: 'Over and beyond the deaths involved, the EBU is concerned about any attempts to limit the rights of audiences to full news services.'
Bulgaria said yesterday that a NATO air-to-ground missile fell almost halfway between the border with Yugoslavia and the capital Sofia on Thursday.
Official American policy concurred with the views of British Prime Minister Tony Blair:
U.S. envoy to Yugoslavia Richard Holbrooke reacted to the NATO's bombing of the RTS headquarters almost immediately after it took place: "Eason Jordan told me just before I came up here that while we've been dining tonight, the air strikes hit Serb TV and took out the Serb television, and at least for the time being they’re off the air. That is an enormously important event, if it is in fact as Eason reported it, and I believe everything CNN tells me. If, in fact, they're off the air even temporarily, as all of you know, one of the three key pillars, along with the security forces and the secret police, have been at least temporarily removed. And it is an enormously important and, I think, positive development."
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) said that the attack on the television station was justified ruling:
“Insofar as the attack actually was aimed at disrupting the communications network, it was legally acceptable ... NATO’s targeting of the RTS building for propaganda purposes was an incidental (albeit complementary) aim of its primary goal of disabling the Serbian military command and control system and to destroy the nerve system and apparatus that keeps Milošević in power.”
List of the 16 killed RTS (Radio Television of Serbia) workers
• Aleksandar Deletić (30), cameraman
• Branislav Jovanović (50), master technician
• Darko Stoimenovski (25), visiting technician
• Dejan Marković (39), security worker
• Dragan Tasić (29), electrician
• Dragorad Dragojević (27), security worker
• Ivan Stukalo (33), technician
• Jelica Munitlak (27), make-up artist
• Ksenija Banković (27), vision mixer
• Milan Joksimović (47), security worker
• Milovan Janković (59), precision machinist
• Nebojša Stojanović (26), master technician
• Siniša Medić (32), production designer
• Slaviša Stevanović (32), technician
• Slobodan Jontić (54), director.
• Tomislav Mitrović (61), program director
Far from condemning what was clearly a war crime Western leaders actually condoned it and the tribunal (ICTY) which is essentially a NATO court endorsed it. The term `double standards` springs to mind.
On 13 November 2001 a U.S. missile hit Al Jazeera's office in Kabul, Afghanistan, during the U.S. invasion of that country. Although no Al Jazeera staff were hurt in the attack, the building was destroyed and some employees' homes were damaged. At the time, Mohammed Jasim al-Ali, managing editor, said that the coordinates of the office were well known to everyone including the Americans
Al Jazeera journalist Tareq Ayyoub was killed in April 2003 when two missiles, fired from by an American ground-attack aircraft, struck the Baghdad headquarters of the Al Jazeera Satellite Channel during the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. The Al Jazeera station was clearly marked as a media centre, and the US military had been informed of its location in February.
From CPJ (Committee to Protect Journalists):
`Al-Jazeera cameraman Zouhair Nadhim, who was outside on the building's roof with Ayyoub, was injured in the blast, which targeted a small electric generator outside the building.
Centcom maintains that U.S. forces were responding to enemy fire in the area and that the Al-Jazeera journalists were caught in the crossfire. Al-Jazeera correspondents deny that any fire came from their building.
The attack occurred during heavy fighting around the bureau in an area that housed government buildings targeted by U.S. and coalition forces. Al-Jazeera officials pointed out that the U.S. military had been given the bureau's exact coordinates weeks before the war began.
In an April 8 letter to U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, CPJ protested the bombing and called for an immediate investigation. In October, a Centcom spokesman confirmed to CPJ that no investigation into the incident has been conducted.
The incident occurred around dawn, after intense anti-aircraft fire began in the area. Talk show host and producer Maher Abdullah, a five-year Al-Jazeera veteran who had been in Baghdad for two weeks at the time, told CPJ that planes began flying low in the area at around 6 a.m.
The crew went up to the roof of the building to report but retreated because they deemed it unsafe. According to Abdullah, the crew realized moments later that their still camera had been knocked out of position and now faced the Ministry of Information building, which Iraqi authorities had explicitly warned the crew not to film. Assistant cameraman Zoheir Nadhim returned to the roof with Ayyoub to adjust the camera.
When Ayyoub and Nadhim went up stairs, Abdullah heard a plane fly so low it that sounded like it was going to crash into the building. At that point, a missile struck Al-Jazeera's small generator, which was located outside the building at ground level just below where Ayyoub was believed to have been at the time. Two Al-Jazeera correspondents said that while they suspect that the strike caused his death, he could have been killed by other ordnance.
Another plane passed low about 15 minutes later and fired another missile, which struck across the road about 50 feet (15 meters) from the front door, blowing it off the hinges, according to Abdullah.
Raed Khattar, a cameraman for Abu Dhabi TV who, at the time, was outside on the nearby roof of Abu Dhabi TV's office, saw what was likely the first missile because his office was between the plane and Al-Jazeera's office, he told CPJ.
Moments later, Abu Dhabi TV staff on the roof came under machine gun fire from a U.S. tank on the nearby Jumhuriyya Bridge, and one of their three unmanned cameras was struck by a shell, staff told CPJ. The three-story building was marked with a large banner labeled "Abu Dhabi TV."
In a statement issued hours after the incident, Centcom in Doha, Qatar, said that, "According to commanders on the ground, Coalition forces came under significant enemy fire from the building where the Al-Jazeera journalists were working and consistent with the right of self-defense, Coalition forces returned fire. Sadly an Al-Jazeera correspondent was killed in this exchange."
Abdullah noted that until that morning anti-aircraft fire in the area had been sporadic. Days before April 8, Abdullah saw manned Iraqi anti-aircraft positions in the general vicinity-some 220 yards (200 meters) away on the opposite side of the generator, but not immediately near the office. However, on April 11, he discovered one abandoned anti-aircraft gun about 44 yards (40 meters) away from the bureau. Journalists from Abu Dhabi TV told CPJ that Al-Jazeera's bureau was located near a villa used by former Iraqi Information Minister Muhammad Said Sahhaf.
Just before the war, CPJ obtained a copy of the February 24, 2003, letter that then Al-Jazeera Managing Director Mohammed Jasem al-Ali had sent to the Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke specifying the coordinates of the bureau.
Al-Jazeera also maintains that the night before the strike, al-Ali had received explicit assurances from U.S. State Department official Nabeel Khoury in Doha, Qatar, that the bureau was safe and would not be targeted. Abdullah told CPJ, "The coordinates were actually given four months in advance to the Pentagon, and we were assured that we would not be hit under any circumstances. ... We would never be targeted, that was the assurance."
In an e-mail reply to CPJ, Khoury, who said he did not recall the exact date of his meeting with Al-Jazeera, said, "I doubt very much that I assured anybody's safety in a war zone." He added that he did tell the station "what we had been telling all diplomats and civilians, that whereas our troops would do their utmost not to hurt civilians, there was no way to guarantee anyone's safety in a war zone."
In its April 8 letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld CPJ also noted that, "The attack against Al-Jazeera is of particular concern since the stations' offices were also hit in Kabul, Afghanistan, in November 2001. The Pentagon asserted, without providing additional detail, that the office was a 'known Al-Qaeda facility,' and that the U.S. military did not know the space was being used by Al-Jazeera."
CPJ is still waiting for the Defense Department to fulfill a Freedom of Information Act request related to the incident that CPJ filed in May.
In 2003, founder and president of the Center for Security Policy Frank Gaffney called on the United States military to "take out" Al Jazeera news network for inciting violence against the Western world by showcasing Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein's "calls-to-arms."
Imagine the furore if some Muslim commentator called for an Islamic country to “take out” a major US news network like CBS or CNN.
Since 9/11 U.S. officials have claimed an anti-American bias to Al Jazeera's news coverage. The station first gained widespread attention in the West following the September 11, 2001 attacks, when it broadcast videos in which Osama bin Laden and Sulaiman Abu Ghaith defended and justified the attacks. This led to significant controversy and accusations by the United States government that Al Jazeera was engaging in propaganda on behalf of terrorists. Al Jazeera countered that it was merely making information available without comment, and several western television channels later followed suit in broadcasting portions of the tapes. At a press conference on 3 October 2001, Colin Powell tried to persuade the emir of Qatar to shut down Al Jazeera.
The question begs what about the first amendment to the US constitution which guarantees freedom of speech?
From FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting):
Remembering Victims of Terror–and Forgetting Some Others
BY JIM NAURECKAS
From the CBS News website, at least seven hours after it had been pointed out that the Charlie Hebdo massacre was not the worst terror attack in Europe since 2005.
Here's "former CIA deputy director and CBS News senior security consultant" Mike Morell (CBS Morning News, 1/7/15) giving his expert commentary on the Charlie Hebdo massacre:
This is the worst terrorist attack in Europe since the attacks in London in July of 2005. We haven't lost this many people since that attack.
So apparently Morell doesn't remember the bloodbath in Norway in July 2011, when Anders Breivik killed eight people by bombing government buildings in Oslo and then murdered 59 others, mostly teenagers, at a youth camp associated with the Labour Party. This was actually a deadlier attack then the London bombings, which killed 56.
Flowers left outside Oslo's cathedral to commemorate victims of a massacre less than four years ago that many in US media seem to have already forgotten.
Breivik said he was motivated by opposition to Muslim immigration, citing in his manifesto (Extra!, 9/11) Islamophobic blogger Peder Jensen on the need for violence to "demonstrate how serious the situation is, and force other Western nations to ban Muslim immigration and pressure Muslim citizens to assimilate or leave."
The ability of supposed terrorism experts to forget major attacks is remarkable (Extra! 3/10). In Morell's case, it's not hard to imagine why he forgot Breivik's killing spree. Describing the attack on the French satirical paper, Morell said:
The motive here is absolutely clear. Trying to shut down a media organization that lampooned the prophet Mohammed. So no doubt in my mind this is terrorism.
Breivik's motive was certainly not shutting anyone down for lampooning Mohammed. So perhaps, in Morrell's mind, it doesn't count as terrorism?
* * *
P.S. As Ali Gharib pointed out, the New York Times (1/7/15) quoted Morell's claim about the Charlie Hebdo attack being Europe's worst since 2005 without contradiction. So apparently no one there remember Breivik, either. (Though the Times' website did run an AP piece that included the Norway slaughter among other "terror attacks in Western Europe.")
FAIR also reported that a new FAIR study finds that torture defenders outnumbered critics of torture by nearly 2 to 1 in TV news coverage of the Senate Intelligence Committee report released on
FAIR surveyed the guests of nine news programs for the week of December 7 to December 14, when discussion of the torture report’s findings was most prominent. The programs included the Sunday talk shows (NBC's Meet the Press, CBS's Face the Nation, ABC's This Week, Fox News Sunday and CNN’s State of the Union) along with four weekday news shows (MSNBC's Hardball, Fox's Special Report, the first hour of CNN's Situation Room and the PBS NewsHour).
Of the 104 guests discussing the topic on these shows, 53 expressed a discernible opinion either for or against the use of torture. Thirty-five of those who took a position, or 66 percent, were supportive of torture. This included a few individuals who claimed to be against "torture," but defended interrogation methods such as waterboarding and other "enhanced interrogation techniques” that are recognized as torture under US and international law.
Only 18 guests (34 percent) articulated clear opposition to the CIA's torture practices--about half as many as spoke up in defense of torture.
Journalists--mostly news correspondents brought on to discuss the report's release--made up 64 of the 104 total guests; few of these expressed an overt opinion on torture. Thirty-five former and current government officials--including nine CIA officers, seven of whom defended the torture program--were the bulk of the remaining guests.
Many of these former government officials were involved in authorizing or implementing the CIA’s torture program, including George W. Bush (State of the Union, 12/7/14), Vice President Dick Cheney (Special Report, 12/10/14; Meet the Press, 12/14/14), Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (Situation Room, 12/10/14), White House adviser Karl Rove (Fox News Sunday, 12/14/14), CIA Director Michael Hayden (Face the Nation, 12/7/14; This Week 12/14), CIA Deputy Director Jose Rodriguez (Fox News Sunday, 12/14/14) and CIA spokesperson Bill Harlow (NewsHour, 12/10/14; Situation Room, 12/11/14).
Guantanamo prosecutor David Iglesias also appeared on the NewsHour (12/10/14); of the eight former government officials who had a connection to the torture program, he was the only one to express opposition to it.
While those who ordered, justified and carried out torture were well-represented in the debate over the report, advocates for the victims of torture were seldom heard from. Joseph Margulies (Hardball, 12/9/14) and Meg Satterthwaite (This Week, 12/14/14), two lawyers representing victims of CIA torture, were the exceptions. Representatives of human rights groups and experts on international law were notable for their absence.
Among partisan guests--politicians and campaign officials--Republicans outnumbered Democrats 19 to 7. Sixteen of the Republicans defended torture, while three spoke against it--including Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho), who opposed releasing the report or prosecuting torturers, but indicated that as a member of the Intelligence Committee he would block the CIA from conducting similar interrogations. Of the seven Democratic appearances, four spoke against torture, while three voiced no clear opinion.
Guests were coded by occupation, partisan affiliation and their expressed opinion on torture. Sources whose soundbites appeared in short taped segments were not counted as guests.
As American journalist of yesteryear A J Liebling said so succinctly: "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one."
Russia Today’s lunchtime bulletin on Wednesday 14th January reported from Paris that thousands were queuing up to get the latest edition of Charlie Hebdo.
The BBC One O’clock news devoted 4 minutes to coverage of the massive sales of the latest edition of Charlie Hebdo.
Newspaper coverage Monday January 12th to Friday January 16th
The Metro (a free newspaper distributed on buses etc.) had as its headline `We are all Charlie` and quoted an attendance of 3.7 million. The first 7 pages of the paper were devoted to the Paris shootings. The Sun which is Britain’s largest selling daily newspaper had the headline `Je suis 4 million` while the Independent` which has the lowest circulation of the main British newspapers quoted a more modest figure of 1.5 million at the unity march on Sunday 11th January 2015. The Sun’s figure actually included those who marched in other French cities as well though that was not clear form the headline. Interestingly when there was a huge Stop the War march and rally in London on Saturday February 15th 2003 the (now defunct) News of the World, also owned by Murdoch, gave a figure of 750,000 which is half of the generally accepted estimate of 1.5 million.
By Tuesday January 13th 2015 the Metro had relegated the Charlie Hebdo affair to pages 6 and 7 while the i version of the Independent also had the Paris shootings on pages 6 and 7 with a small version of the cover of the latest version of Charlie Hebdo showing a weeping figure (presumably the prophet Mohammed though the figure is not named) weeping and holding a sign saying `Je suis Charlie` with the headline above his head saying ` Tout est pardonné ` - all is forgiven.
The Independent’s Andrew Buncombe reported briefly that the Obama administration had blundered by not sending a more senior figure to the unity march. The USA was represented by the American Ambassador to France Jane Hartley.
On page 21 of that days i version of the Independent Patrick Cockburn had an article about the rise of the insurgents who trained the Kouachi brothers Aqap (Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula). He spoke of the growing support for Aqap in Yemen and suggested it will be an impossible task for Western security agencies to monitor and intercept all foreign jihadis.
Pages 26 and 27 of that days Independent had a two page spread of celebrities like George Clooney wearing `Je suis Charlie` badges at the Golden Globe awards in Los Angeles.
The Daily Mirror of Tuesday January 13th 2015 led with a story on ex soap star Ken Morley alleging he had used an offensive word on the Celebrity big brother show. The Daily Mirror which ranks number 3 in circulation in Britain had like the Metro and Independent a two page spread about what it called `The bloodbath in Paris` on pages six and seven. The Mirror reported how a Fox TV pundit had mistakenly claimed that the English Midlands city of Birmingham was a “Muslim only” city and said bizarrely that “In Britain it’s not just no-go zones, there are cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in.”
The `expert` in question was Steve Emerson who apologised and said he had made a “terrible error”. It is estimated that Muslims make up about 20% of the population of Birmingham.
Rupert Murdoch’s Sun newspaper which ranks number one in circulation though not I hasten to add in quality
Free speech for Western apologists only
Article by Glenn Greenwald for The Intercept reproduced on
"Forty-eight hours after hosting a massive march under the banner of free expression, France opened a criminal investigation of a controversial French comedian for a Facebook post he wrote about the Charlie Hebdo attack, and then this morning, arrested him for that post on charges of “defending terrorism.” The comedian, Dieudonné, previously sought elective office in France on what he called an “anti-Zionist” platform, has had his show banned by numerous government officials in cities throughout France, and has been criminally prosecuted several times before for expressing ideas banned in that country.
Since that glorious “free speech” march, France has reportedly opened 54 criminal cases for “condoning terrorism.” AP reported this morning that “France ordered prosecutors around the country to crack down on hate speech, anti-Semitism and glorifying terrorism.”
As pernicious as this arrest and related “crackdown” on some speech obviously is, it provides a critical value: namely, it underscores the utter scam that was this week’s celebration of free speech in the west.
The day before the Charlie Hebdo attack, I coincidentally documented the multiple cases in the west – including in the U.S. – where Muslims have been prosecuted and even imprisoned for their political speech.
Vanishingly few of this week’s bold free expression mavens have ever uttered a peep of protest about any of those cases – either before the Charlie Hebdo attack or since. That’s because “free speech,” in the hands of many westerners, actually means: it is vital that the ideas I like be protected, and the right to offend groups I dislike be cherished; anything else is fair game."
Noam Chomsky writes:
Paris Attacks Show Hypocrisy of West's Outrage
By Noam Chomsky, CNN
22 January 2015
Aafter the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo, which killed 12 people including the editor and four other cartoonists, and the murder of four Jews at a kosher supermarket shortly after, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls declared "a war against terrorism, against jihadism, against radical Islam, against everything that is aimed at breaking fraternity, freedom, solidarity."
Millions of people demonstrated in condemnation of the atrocities, amplified by a chorus of horror under the banner "I am Charlie." There were eloquent pronouncements of outrage, captured well by the head of Israel's Labor Party and the main challenger for the upcoming elections, Isaac Herzog, who declared that "Terrorism is terrorism. There's no two ways about it," and that "All the nations that seek peace and freedom [face] an enormous challenge" from brutal violence.
The crimes also elicited a flood of commentary, inquiring into the roots of these shocking assaults in Islamic culture and exploring ways to counter the murderous wave of Islamic terrorism without sacrificing our values. The New York Times described the assault as a "clash of civilizations," but was corrected by Times columnist Anand Giridharadas, who tweeted that it was "Not & never a war of civilizations or between them. But a war FOR civilization against groups on the other side of that line. #CharlieHebdo."
The scene in Paris was described vividly in the New York Times by veteran Europe correspondent Steven Erlanger: "a day of sirens, helicopters in the air, frantic news bulletins; of police cordons and anxious crowds; of young children led away from schools to safety. It was a day, like the previous two, of blood and horror in and around Paris."
Erlanger also quoted a surviving journalist who said that "Everything crashed. There was no way out. There was smoke everywhere. It was terrible. People were screaming. It was like a nightmare." Another reported a "huge detonation, and everything went completely dark." The scene, Erlanger reported, "was an increasingly familiar one of smashed glass, broken walls, twisted timbers, scorched paint and emotional devastation."
These last quotes, however -- as independent journalist David Peterson reminds us -- are not from January 2015. Rather, they are from a report by Erlanger on April 24 1999, which received far less attention. Erlanger was reporting on the NATO "missile attack on Serbian state television headquarters" that "knocked Radio Television Serbia off the air," killing 16 journalists.
"NATO and American officials defended the attack," Erlanger reported, "as an effort to undermine the regime of President Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia." Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon told a briefing in Washington that "Serb TV is as much a part of Milosevic's murder machine as his military is," hence a legitimate target of attack.
There were no demonstrations or cries of outrage, no chants of "We are RTV," no inquiries into the roots of the attack in Christian culture and history. On the contrary, the attack on the press was lauded. The highly regarded U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke, then envoy to Yugoslavia, described the successful attack on RTV as "an enormously important and, I think, positive development," a sentiment echoed by others.
Also ignored in the "war against terrorism" is the most extreme terrorist campaign of modern times -- Barack Obama's global assassination campaign targeting people suspected of perhaps intending to harm us some day, and any unfortunates who happen to be nearby. Other unfortunates are also not lacking, such as the 50 civilians reportedly killed in a U.S.-led bombing raid in Syria in December, which was barely reported.
One person was indeed punished in connection with the NATO attack on RTV -- Dragoljub Milanović, the general manager of the station, who was sentenced by the European Court of Human Rights to 10 years in prison for failing to evacuate the building, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. The International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia considered the NATO attack, concluding that it was not a crime, and although civilian casualties were "unfortunately high, they do not appear to be clearly disproportionate."
The comparison between these cases helps us understand the condemnation of the New York Times by civil rights lawyer Floyd Abrams, famous for his forceful defense of freedom of expression. "There are times for self-restraint," Abrams wrote, "but in the immediate wake of the most threatening assault on journalism in living memory, [the Times editors] would have served the cause of free expression best by engaging in it" by publishing the Charlie Hebdo cartoons ridiculing Mohammed that elicited the assault.
Abrams is right in describing the Charlie Hebdo attack as "the most threatening assault on journalism in living memory." The reason has to do with the concept "living memory," a category carefully constructed to include Their crimes against us while scrupulously excluding Our crimes against them -- the latter not crimes but noble defense of the highest values, sometimes inadvertently flawed.
This is not the place to inquire into just what was being "defended" when RTV was attacked, but such an inquiry is quite informative (see my A New Generation Draws the Line).
There are many other illustrations of the interesting category "living memory." One is provided by the Marine assault against Fallujah in November 2004, one of the worst crimes of the U.S.-UK invasion of Iraq.
The assault opened with occupation of Fallujah General Hospital, a major war crime quite apart from how it was carried out. The crime was reported prominently on the front page of the New York Times, accompanied with a photograph depicting how "Patients and hospital employees were rushed out of rooms by armed soldiers and ordered to sit or lie on the floor while troops tied their hands behind their backs." The occupation of the hospital was considered meritorious and justified: it "shut down what officers said was a propaganda weapon for the militants: Fallujah General Hospital, with its stream of reports of civilian casualties."
Evidently, this is no assault on free expression, and does not qualify for entry into "living memory."
There are other questions. One would naturally ask how France upholds freedom of expression and the sacred principles of "fraternity, freedom, solidarity." For example, is it through the Gayssot Law, repeatedly implemented, which effectively grants the state the right to determine Historical Truth and punish deviation from its edicts? By expelling miserable descendants of Holocaust survivors (Roma) to bitter persecution in Eastern Europe? By the deplorable treatment of North African immigrants in the banlieues of Paris where the Charlie Hebdo terrorists became jihadis? When the courageous journal Charlie Hebdo fired the cartoonist Siné on grounds that a comment of his was deemed to have anti-Semitic connotations? Many more questions quickly arise.
Anyone with eyes open will quickly notice other rather striking omissions. Thus, prominent among those who face an "enormous challenge" from brutal violence are Palestinians, once again during Israel's vicious assault on Gaza in the summer of 2014, in which many journalists were murdered, sometimes in well-marked press cars, along with thousands of others, while the Israeli-run outdoor prison was again reduced to rubble on pretexts that collapse instantly on examination.
Also ignored was the assassination of three more journalists in Latin America in December, bringing the number for the year to 31. There have been more than a dozen journalists killed in Honduras alone since the military coup of 2009 that was effectively recognized by the U.S. (but few others), probably according post-coup Honduras the per capita championship for murder of journalists. But again, not an assault on freedom of press within living memory.
It is not difficult to elaborate. These few examples illustrate a very general principle that is observed with impressive dedication and consistency: The more we can blame some crimes on enemies, the greater the outrage; the greater our responsibility for crimes -- and hence the more we can do to end them -- the less the concern, tending to oblivion or even denial.
Contrary to the eloquent pronouncements, it is not the case that "Terrorism is terrorism. There's no two ways about it." There definitely are two ways about it: theirs versus ours. And not just terrorism.
There are many other events that call for no inquiry into western culture and history -- for example, the worst single terrorist atrocity in Europe in recent years, in July 2011, when Anders Breivik, a Christian ultra-Zionist extremist and Islamophobe, slaughtered 77 people, mostly teenagers.
Newspaper coverage of Paris events January 16th to January 26th.
The Daily Mirror of Friday 16th January 2015 led on the shooting of two `jihadists` after a shootout with armed police in Belgium. Pages 4 and 5 of that day’s Mirror covered the funeral of Bernard Verlhac who was one of the cartoonists on Charlie Hebdo. There was a large image of his coffin which was scrawled all over with cartoon tributes.
The Guardian of Saturday 17th January 2015 told of `fury across Muslim world over Charlie Hebdo’s new cover. There were images of protests in Turkey and the burning of a French flag in Pakistan.
The Independent `i` edition of Monday 19th January 2015 had a photo of Eric Pickles the Secretary of State for Communities and Home Secretary Theresa May holding up signs which read `Je suis Juif` (I am Jewish) at a board of Deputies of British Jews in London the previous day.
The `National` newspaper which supports an independent Scotland showed on page 22 in its world news section a photo of a protest in Grozny, Chechnya. The protest of many thousands was against the French magazine’s Charlie Hebdo special edition after the shootings which showed a picture of Mohammed weeping. The Independent `i` of Tuesday 20th January led on the PM David Cameron backing a letter sent to imams around the country by Eric Pickles calling on Muslims to `be British`.
The Saturday 24th January edition of the `i` newspaper had an article on page 9 which told of the bullying of Muslim pupils in UK schools after the Charlie Hebdo massacre amid a broad rise in Islamophobia in UK schools.
While the whole Charlie Hebdo affair was disappearing from Britsh newspapers it was still making the front pages in France with `Le Monde` of Thursday 22nd January headlined `Lutte antiterroriste: Valls mise sur un renforcement des moyens` .
The fortnightly British satirical magazine `Private Eye` number 1384 of 23rd January to 5th February had a picture of the unity march in Paris on the front cover with all the assembled world leaders saying “Je suis Charlatan!”
By January Monday 26th the whole issue of Charlie Hebdo had largely disappeared from the news.
However, an interesting article by Memphis Barker in the `i` version of The Independent on Tuesday 27th January 2015 stated that the BBC had done more to eradicate terrorism than all our wars since 9/11. He wrote: `The head of BBC Arabic had advised his staff not to label anyone, or any act, as “terrorist”. The term is “too loaded” says the BBC’s Tarik Kafala, who prefers to call a bombing a bombing, a massacre a massacre, and a plane flying into a tower… an ideologically motivated attack, I suppose.`
He continued `We don’t report on murderers as “avengers”, even though revenge might have guided their hand. Why, then, support groups that aim to sow terror by including that term in their title? And in that nexus of fear governments also get spooked. War; CIA torture; even, less dramatically, the proposed Snooper’s Charter – the path to each is smoothed by a desire to stamp out “terrorism”. Would we react so ferociously if BBC Arabic’s calming rule was taken up more widely? Perhaps yes. But theirs is the only war on “terrorism” I wholly support. `
The Sun newspaper of Monday February 2nd 2015 commended the success of the film `American Sniper` with its portrayal of Navy Seal Chris Kyle who was credited with over 160 kills. However the paper’s editorial pointed out that `our brave forces are hitting back at the terrorists` and boasted that the world’s deadliest marksman is in fact a Royal Marine with 173 kills in Afghanistan. There was a macho two page spread on pages 10 and 11 showing an unnamed Marine stripped to the waist holding his gun and David Willetts the Acting Defence Editor of the paper said that his count of 173 was “conservative”. The article lauded the £166million FILM hit `American Sniper` saying that pundits predict it will go to rake in more than £250million.
By contrast The National, the newspaper that supports an Independent Scotland, had an advert for Scottish CND on page 9 on Monday February 2nd 2015 saying that in September 2014 45% of Scots wanted a change and voted Yes. There are 100 billion better ways to spend £100 billion said the ad.
The Metro newspaper of Monday 9th February 2015 reported that Prince Charles had condemned the `perverted and brutal misinterpretation of Islam` preached by extremists. He also called the radicalisation of young British Muslims `alarming` as he spoke of his wish to `build bridges` between all faiths.
On the same page of that day’s Metro there was a small picture of a demonstration of thousands of Muslims outside Downing Street in London to protest against both French magazine Charlie Hebdo and the murderous attack on its staff. They handed in a petition with about 10,000 signatures calling for `all civilised people and institutions globally to disassociate themselves from any actions that are an affront to global civility. ` It also denounced cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad as `an affront to the norms of civilised society. `
The Muslim Action Forum, which organised the event said: `The global Muslim community shall not be hijacked by cold-blooded killers or uncivilised expressionists. `
The `i` version of the Independent on Thursday 12th February 2015 told on page 25 how the `Chief recruiter for Syrian militants jailed for 12 years`. A Belgian court jailed the head of “Sharia4Belgium” for 12 years yesterday, ruling that his Islamist group was a terrorist organisation that brainwashed young men into joining militants in the Middle East.
Fouad Belkacem, 32, chief of the Sharia4Belgium group, was convicted by a court in Antwerp for radicalising, recruiting and dispatching young men to Syria, Al Jazeera reported.
The court jailed many other members of the group as well.
Forty-six members of the group originally faced charges, but only eight were actually present during the five-month trial, with one deemed medically unfit to stand trial, the report said.
The rest were believed to be either still in Syria, or dead.
"Around 350 fighters (from Belgium) were estimated to be in Syria to fight, highest number per capita in Europe," Al Jazeera's Simon McGregor-Wood said, reporting from Antwerp.
Interestingly in contrast to the saturation coverage given to the 20 people killed in the Charlie Hebdo affair the death of over 300 migrants trying to reach Europe from Libya by boat only made page 31 of the Metro of Thursday February 12th 2015.
The Sun of Friday February 13th 2015 had a half page article headlined `Burning with hate` on page 15 about Hayat Boumeddienne the widow of Amedy Coulibaly On 7 January, a few hours after the Charlie Hebdo attack, a third assailant in the attacks, Amedy Coulibaly, shot a 32-year-old man who was out jogging in Fontenay-aux-Roses, in a park next to Coulibaly's home. The piece stated that Boumeddienne was now living in Syria.
The news on late Saturday 14th February and on Sunday 15th February 2015 was of course dominated by the shootings in Denmark when according to the BBC news website:
`Police in Copenhagen say they have shot dead a man they believe was behind two deadly attacks in the Danish capital hours earlier.
Police say they killed the man in the Norrebro district after he opened fire on them.
It came after one person was killed and three police officers injured at a free speech debate in a cafe on Saturday.
In the second attack, a Jewish man was killed and two police officers wounded near the city's main synagogue.
Police say video surveillance suggested the same man carried out both attacks. They do not believe any other people were involved.
"We assume that it's the same culprit behind both incidents, and we also assume that the culprit that was shot by the police task force... is the person behind both of these assassinations," Chief Police Inspector Torben Molgaard Jensen told a news conference.
He said police would maintain a high presence in the city.
Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt said it was "a very sad morning" and described the shootings as "a cynical act of terror against Denmark".
"I am happy and relieved that police have disarmed the alleged perpetrator behind the two shootings," she said in a statement. "I will continue to encourage everyone to follow police instructions and be vigilant."
She later visited the synagogue and said Denmark would do everything to protect its Jewish community. `
The Copenhagen shootings made the front page of The Observer, Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Express on 15th February though they appeared on page 5 of the Sunday Herald.
The Metro of Tuesday 17th February 2015 had a piece by Joel Taylor headlined `Kickboxing past of terror “gunman” in Danish killings` It said that Danish terror suspect Omar El-Hussein was an experienced kickboxer who may have been radicalised in prison. There was a photo of El Hussein in the boxing ring which said he took up kickboxing after failing to get in to university. The piece went on to assert that El-Hussein had a history of violence and gang connections.
The `i` version of the Independent on Tuesday 17th February 2015 had a similar article on page 20 headlined `Copenhagen gunman “radicalised in prison”` There was a photo of people laying flowers at the synagogue in Copenhagen. The piece pointed out that flowers were also placed on the site where Hussein was shot, triggering criticism from all sides of the Danish political divide, with the Socialist People’s Party representative Ozlem Cekic – Denmark’s first female MP with a Muslim background – labelling it and “assault on the Danish population.”
The `i` version of the Independent of Friday February 20th 2015 had a small item on page 2 about 1,500 young Muslims planning to form a protective “ring of peace” around a synagogue in Oslo, Norway.
The Metro of Friday 27th February 2015 led with the banner headline “`MI5 `met Jihadi John and tried to recruit him`” and there was the customary picture of the London cab driver’s son on the front page with only his eyes showing and brandishing a knife.
In the same day’s Metro there was a tirade against Asim Qureshi of the prisoners’ rights group Cage. There were photos of deceased US reporter James Foley who was murdered by ISIS in August 2014 and British aid worker Alan Henning who was beheaded by ISIS in October 2014. There was also a report of the destruction of ancient artefacts in Iraq by Islamic State with a photo of a statue being knocked over in the Northern Iraqi city of Mosul.
On page 8 of the Metro of Friday 27th February there was a full page story with photos about a former Syrian doctor having bomb making materials in his flat in Muirhouse, Edinburgh. The Syrian doctor Faris al-Khori was said to have bomb-making instructions and a bag of toxic beans `that can produce the poison Ricin.` Farcically there were two photos of mustard jars and circuit boards which presumably was irrefutable proof of the doctor’s intention to build some kind of doomsday hot dog mustard device.
The phoney Ricin plot of 2003 in the run up to the attack on Iraq of that year springs to mind. In January 2003, the British media splashed the news that anti-terror police had disrupted an Al-Qaeda cell, poised to unleash the deadly poison ricin on the capital. Police had reportedly found traces of ricin, as well as a panoply of bomb and poison-making equipment in the cell’s ‘factory of death’ – a shabby flat in north London. ‘This danger is present and real, and with us now’ announced Prime Minister Tony Blair.
But, when the ‘ricin plot’ came to trial at the Old Bailey, a very different story emerged: there was no ricin and no sophisticated plot. Rarely has a legal case been so shamelessly distorted by government, media and security forces to push their own ‘tough on terror’ agendas
The Edinburgh Evening News of Friday 27th February 2015 had the dramatic front page story headline `SYRIAN DOC HAD BOMB MATERIALS IN CITY FLATS` along with a large photo of the bald headed 62 year-old doctor Faris al-Khori superimposed over a picture of a police raid with three squad cars and a police van. Pages four and five of the Evening News told of the bomb scare with the photos of mustard jars and a picture of a rubbish chute in Fidra Court, a 15 storey tower block in Muirhouse, North Edinburgh.
`The deadly haul hidden behind two closed doors. ` - this was the hook headline as we were informed that “Chemicals, ball bearings, bolts and nuts and even a bag of toxic beans, which could be used to produce the poison Ricin, were found after fire-fighters put out a late-night blaze in Muirhouse last April. A small quantity of one explosive was deemed so dangerous that forensic scientists refused to allow it into their lab for testing.”
Defence counsel Brian McConnachie QC told the court al-Khori, a former Syrian national, had qualified as a doctor in Iraq before moving to Austria where he obtained a diploma in neurosurgery.
He came to Britain in 1984 but failed the second part of surgeon's tests and had acted as a carer for his wife.
Mr McConnachie said: "There is no information to suggest he has any extremist ideology or motivation."
He said al-Khori had purchased materiel through easily traceable internet firms and used an address registered to him and his own bank accounts.
He said: "There was never any indication he made any attempt to conceal his online activity.
"This is not a situation where the police have come across some type of terrorist cell in preparation for carrying out some criminal activity and simply have got there in time to stop something that would have been catastrophic.
"The fact of the matter is nothing was used to do anything."
Al-Khori has been remanded in custody and will be sentenced at a later date.
This story was widely reported elsewhere in the media including the Scotsman, Daily Telegraph and Daily Record as well as the BBC and STV news.
A small item on page 8 of the Evening News of the same day told of the discovery of five poisoned filled tennis balls in a park in Glasgow. This story was also carried by the `National` newspaper on page 7 of Friday 27th February 2015 and on the BBC Scotland website which stated: ` The Scottish SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) has issued a warning after five tennis balls filled with poison were found in Festival Park in Glasgow.
The balls were discovered by a member of the public, who placed them inside a bin in the park grounds.
But the charity said that someone had since removed the balls from the bin, and their whereabouts were currently unknown.
Police have been informed about the situation. `
The Sunday newspapers of Sunday 1st March 2015 carried fresh revelations about the Islamic State extremist nicknamed "Jihadi John" appear in Sunday's papers. Among them are details of emails sent by the militant - Mohammed Emwazi - to Mail on Sunday journalist Robert Verkaik in 2010, in which he claimed to be a "dead man walking", pursued by security services.
The Andrew Marr show of that day had its usual review of the papers with pundits Bridget Kendall of the BBC, Alexander Downer the High Commissioner of Australia to Britain and Margot James, a Conservative MP. The lead item was Jihadi John and his background followed by the assassination of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.
The Radio 4 `Today` programme of Tuesday 3rd March 2015 had a lot of prattle about `Jihadi John` who was recently unmasked as London born Mohammed Emwazi. After `Today` on Radio Four there was a 45 minute `The Spy who came in from Al Qaeda`. The blurb for the three quarter hour radio transmission said “Aimen Dean was a founding member of al-Qaeda, swearing an oath of allegiance with Osama bin Laden. In 1998 he was picked up and interrogated by British intelligence. Disillusioned with al-Qaeda's terrorist agenda, he took the dramatic decision to become a spy for MI6 and MI5. He spent eight years under cover as a spy in the UK and at the heart of al Qaeda in Afghanistan. He tells his story publicly for the first time.” The broadcast finished with the interviewer asking Aimen Dean “You must be a very accomplished liar, mustn’t you?” To which Dean answered with a laugh “Yes!” It’s hard to imagine the likes of Tony Blair or George Bush being asked such a question.
The Edinburgh Evening News of Tuesday March 3rd 2015 had a small piece at the bottom of page 8 under the `Britain Today` round up which mentioned `Jihadi John`. The piece said that the mother of Mohammed Emwazi also known as “Jihadi John” said she recognised his voice when she heard him on Islamic State (IS) hostage video.
The `Today` programme of Thursday 5th March was still going on about the Charlie Hebdo affair, the threat posed by terrorism and the co-operation between European police forces. It was said that Belgium had a `disproportionately high number of jihadis`.
Channel Four News at 1900 on Thursday 5th March 2015 had a detailed biopic of `Jihadi John` including an interview with Diane Foley, the mother of executed American journalist James Foley, who was supposedly beheaded by `Jihadi John`.
On the same programme there was a detailed report about Jamshed Javeed, a chemistry teacher from Manchester who was sentenced to six years for planning to travel to Syria to fight with the group that became widely known as Islamic State.
Private Eye number 1,386 of 20th February to March 6th 2015 had a piece on its `Street of Shame` section on page 9 which stated that “ Several British police forces have questioned newsagents in an attempt to monitor sales of a special edition of Charlie Hebdo magazine following the Paris attacks, the Guardian has learned,” the paper noted last week. “Officers in Wiltshire, Wales and Cheshire have approached retailers of the magazine, it has emerged.”
The Daily Mail of Saturday 6th March 2015 was headlined “Jihadi John 'kidnapped two schoolboys at gunpoint and dumped them on M1 motorway without their clothes in revenge for gang attack on his brother' ”
The article continues: `Jihadi John dumped two schoolboys on the M1 motorway at gunpoint in revenge for an attack on his brother, it was revealed today. Mohammed Emwazi - unmasked as the killer in the infamous ISIS beheading videos last week - carried out the kidnap during his days living on a notorious housing estate.
He and two bearded associates are said to have abducted two gang members accused of beating up his younger brother, Omar, in 2008. `
The Socialist Worker of March 7th 2015 argued against a racist backlash over ISIS with the headline `Muslims are not to blame` and on pages 4 and 5 argued that the West’s wars helped to create the ISIS fighter now known as Jihadi John. There was also an article about how the right wing press was outraged because the government had failed to meet its immigration targets. Sun columnist and former editor Kelvin MacKenzie was quoted as ranting “The old saying that not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims has never been truer.”
The Times of Saturday March 7th 2015 had a picture of Mohammed Emwazi (`Jihadi John`) with the headline `ISIS butcher drunk and disorderly on aircraft`. The Sunday Times of Sunday 15th March 2015 also had a prominent photo of the man who is now surely the most demonised man on the planet.
The Socialist Worker of March 14th 2015 had a detailed piece on the forthcoming `rage against racism demonstrations` on Saturday March 21st 2015 which is the UN Anti-Racism Day. Saturday 21st March 2015 will see demonstrations across the globe and include protests in London, Cardiff and Glasgow as well as across cities in Europe and around the globe.
We are bombarded with information or perhaps misinformation about the terrorist whose nom de guerre is Jihadi John. Could similar monikers be applied to advocates of violent Western policy such as the advocates of the (successful) overthrow of the Yanukovich government in Ukraine or the attempt to overthrow the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria?
How about `Jihadi John Kerry` or `Jihadi John McCain`?
From the BBC website of May 27th 2013:
`Syria conflict: US Senator John McCain visits rebels -
US Senator John McCain has visited Syria to meet rebels in the war-torn country, his office has told the BBC.
Sen McCain has repeatedly called for the US to provide military aid to members of the Syrian insurgency.
He becomes the highest ranking US official to travel to Syria, though McCain spokesman Brian Rogers did not give further details about the visit.
News of the trip came as US Secretary of State John Kerry met his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Paris.
The US currently provides non-lethal aid to opposition groups in Syria, where an estimated 70,000 people have been killed since violence broke out in March 2011. `
While many may say “Je suis Charlie”, some could say `Je suis de Gaza et je suis pakistanaise et je suis irakien et je suis syrienne` (I am Gazan and I am Pakistani and I am Iraqi and I am Syrian”) as all these countries have suffered horrendous casualties as a result of Western imperialism. This is the terrorism which dare not speak its name as it is `our` terrorism and its victims are not to be humanised or given State funerals as they are merely `unpeople` or `unworthy` victims or `collateral damage`.
I will leave the last word to a French lady who has lived in Scotland for over 20 years and who takes a keen interest in current affairs in Britain and in France and the International scene in general.
My French friend wrote of the Charlie Hebdo affair: “I hated what Hebdo wrote, drew about people, I still remember the cartoons he made about the Queen, the British in general, then those about the gypsies, he just had no respect for anybody. What a death though. But I feel that there is something odd about the whole business.
Why wait 3 years nearly after the offensive cartoons about the prophet Mohammed (PBUH) for the revenge. Why now? Also it is still ISIS the offshoot of AL-Qaeda supposedly this guys supported, Al-Qaeda supported trained by the US. Liberté, égalité, fraternité? Is it fraternity to let a man make money from racist, sexist, bigot cartoons that ridicule, incite to hatred? Anyone else, anywhere else would have been done for incitement to hatred, is it liberté, égalité to support dictatorial states, support the state of Israel while denying Palestine?
Is it democratic to fund the brutal state of Algeria, where yearly people are tortured, oppressed, or just disappear? Is it democratic, fraternal, to use Tahiti for nuclear testing, lying about the radiation level to the native and denying them justice, compensation because yeah guess what we stole their country, stole their resources, and we are still abusing them after all this time because the poor guys are brown skin. For Algeria we made them suffer during the 70’s and 80’s to deny them any chance of democracy, we put our own preferred guys in charge who are corrupt, so that we could make a deal for cheap petrol and other resources.
Liberty, egality, fraternity is it the way we have and are still ripping apart Africa, what we do in Mali, what about the gypsies? What about our training the Phalangists with the US, the guys who with Israel did the Sabra and Shatila massacres? Democracy is it when all those who criticised Hebdo were told to push off, even though they warned him about something happening, is it not strange that someone who was supposed to be a leftist was so loved by the French right? Why kill him in his office with so many others, when one bullet at home, or in his car, with no witnesses would suffice?
Is it not strange that this major security breach happened just when the US and the UK and France are discussing, considering spending more on snooping on us all, more CCTVs, biometrics too, ultimately France's streets are thronged with CCTVs yet this happened, and 11 wounded, 12 dead! Shops raided, held at gun point? The security/arms companies must be having a great laugh at our expense! This too when TTIP is looming!
We are all dupes. We are all being manipulated, lied to, and abused. Where was Hebdo's security, knowing well the guy made his money by insulting, offending and he had received threats. Our Police are not that stupid!
The killers were known by US and UK intelligence, one of them had been refused entry to the UK, why did they release him after 3 years of his sentence in the US knowing well what he was like? They were known by the 2eme Sûreté (Deuxième Bureau) in France and our Gendarmerie!
I, I smell a rat!
I could go on and on.... ..... ...”
My loquacious French friend could go on and on in her eloquent Gallic way though this particular article will now finish with the question, what next? Race and the fear of immigration are going to be big factors in the UK general election which is now but 50 days away. In condemning the atrocities in Paris and Copenhagen the west should also perhaps reassess the way it treats immigrants from the so-called third world, much of which were parts of its empire and which are still economic colonies ruled by the dictates of the IMF and World Bank rather than by the point of a gun. As film maker Michael Moore has pointed out keeping the rest of the world in absolute poverty is a mistake. Above all there must be a fair solution to the protracted running sore of the injustice suffered by the long downtrodden Palestinian people.