Tuesday, September 15, 2009

UN report accuses both sides of war crimes | France 24

    12:42 PM   No comments
Read Report

"UN report accuses both sides of war crimes
Israel rejected a UN report on the investigation of the offensive launched by Israeli forces on the Gaza Strip last December, which concludes that there is evidence of war crimes committed by both the Israeli army and Palestinian militants.

REUTERS - There is evidence that both the Israeli army and Palestinian militants committed war crimes, and possibly crimes against humanity, during the recent conflict over the Gaza Strip, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

'The mission concluded that actions amounting to war crimes, and possibly in some respects crimes against humanity, were committed by the Israel Defense Force,' U.N. investigator Richard Goldstone told reporters.

A summary of his nearly 600-page report on the fact-finding mission's conclusions also said the firing of rockets into Israel by Palestinian militants where there were no military targets would also constitute war crimes, and possibly crimes against humanity.

Israel reacted quickly, saying in a statement issued by its diplomatic mission in Geneva that it did not cooperate with Goldstone's investigation.

'Its mandate was clearly one-sided and ignored the thousands of Hamas (Palestinian militants) missile attacks on civilians in southern Israel that made the Gaza operation necessary,' the statement said.

Goldstone recommended to the U.N. Security Council that it demand that Israel launch investigations into possible crimes committed by its forces that are 'independent and in conformity with international standards' and establish a committee of human rights experts to monitor any such proceedings.

If Israel fails to do so, then the 15-nation council should refer the situation in Gaza to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, the summary said.

A Gaza observer group has said over 900 of more than 1,400 Palestinians killed in the conflict were civilians. Israel said just under 300 civilians and some 900 fighters were killed. Thirteen Israelis, 10 soldiers and three civilians, died.

Israel has rejected international criticism of an offensive it said was launched to curb rocket attacks on its towns by Hamas in Gaza -- attacks which human rights groups also condemn as war crimes. Israel says it is investigating allegations but has not yet found cause to prosecute any of its soldiers."

Read Report

BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Iraq shoe thrower 'was tortured'

    6:40 AM   No comments
BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Iraq shoe thrower 'was tortured': "Iraq shoe thrower 'was tortured'

The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at former US President George W Bush says he was tortured by senior government officials while in jail.

Shortly after his release from nine months in a Baghdad prison, Muntadar al-Zaidi demanded an apology - and said he would name the officials later.

Iraqi officials told the BBC his claims should be investigated.

His protest last December made him a hero for many Arabs, but some Iraqis still regard it as unforgivably rude.

He was convicted of assaulting a foreign leader and initially sentenced to three years in jail.

But he had the term reduced to 12 months on appeal and was released three months early for good behaviour.

'Insurgent revolutionary'

After his release on Tuesday he told journalists: 'I am free again, but my homeland is still a prison.'

# Worked for Egypt-based broadcaster since 2005
# Was kidnapped by gunmen while reporting in Baghdad in 2007
# Detained by US troops for a night in 2008, his brother says, before they freed him and apologised

Reuters news agency reported he was slurring his speech because of a missing tooth.

He went on to say he had suffered beatings, whippings, electric shocks and simulated drowning at the hands of officials and guards.

'At the time that Prime Minister Nouri Maliki said on television that he could not sleep without being reassured on my fate... I was being tortured in the worst ways, beaten with electric cables and iron bars,' he said.

He demanded an apology from Mr Maliki and said he would name the officials who tortured him in due course.

He also said he feared US intelligence services regarded him as an 'insurgent revolutionary' and would 'spare no effort' in a bid to kill him.

'I want to warn all my relatives and people close to me that these services will use all means to trap and try to kill and liquidate me either physically, socially or professionally,' he said.

His allegations of abuse mirror claims made earlier by his family, who said he had been beaten, suffering a broken arm, broken ribs and internal bleeding.

The Iraqi military earlier denied the allegations, but following Zaidi's news conference Sami Al Askari, an adviser to Mr Maliki, said his torture claims should be investigated.

'Goodbye kiss'

Zaidi's family has been preparing to throw a party for him.

He has reportedly received offers of money, jobs and even marriage from across the Arab world.

His relatives say he was offered a golden horse by the Emir of Qatar.

“ I've seen a lot of weird things during my presidency, and this may rank up there as one of the weirdest ”
George W Bush

When news of his release filtered through to his family's home in Baghdad, there was an eruption of celebration, with women dancing and singing.

The shoe-throwing incident came during a joint news conference between Mr Bush and Mr Maliki.

As he threw the shoes, Zaidi shouted: 'This is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog.

'This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq.'

In an interview afterwards, Mr Bush insisted he did not harbour any ill feeling about it.

'It was amusing - I've seen a lot of weird things during my presidency, and this may rank up there as one of the weirdest,' he said.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/09/15 11:31:21 GMT"

Monday, September 14, 2009

Bush White House Sought to Soften Treaty on 'Enforced Disappearances'

    1:02 PM   No comments
Bush White House Sought to Soften Treaty on 'Enforced Disappearances': "U.S. Tried to Soften Treaty on Detainees
Bush White House Sought to Shield Those Running Secret CIA Prisons

By R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 8, 2009

From 2003 to 2006, the Bush administration quietly tried to relax the draft language of a treaty meant to bar and punish 'enforced disappearances' so that those overseeing the CIA's secret prison system would not be criminally prosecuted under its provisions, according to former officials and hundreds of pages of documents recently declassified by the State Department.

The aim of the global treaty, long supported by the United States, was to end official kidnappings, detentions and killings like those that plagued Latin America in the 1970s and 1980s, and that allegedly still occur in Russia, China, Iran, Colombia, Sri Lanka and elsewhere. But the documents suggest that initial U.S. support for the negotiations collided head-on with the then-undisclosed goal of seizing suspected terrorists anywhere in the world for questioning by CIA interrogators or indefinite detention by the U.S. military at foreign sites.

Instead of embracing a far-reaching ban on arrests, detentions and abductions of people without disclosing their fate or whereabouts or ensuring 'the protection of the law,' the United States pressed in 2004 for a more limited prohibition on intentionally placing detainees outside legal protections for 'a prolonged period of time.' At the time, the CIA was secretly holding about a dozen prisoners.

Foreign governments criticized the U.S.-preferred wording, calling it vague and saying that proving intent would be hard and should not be necessary.

In the end, the Bush administration declined to endorse the treaty's broadly worded ban, which at least 81 countries have now signed, including all members of the European Union and many nations with checkered human rights records, such as Algeria, Argentina, Cuba and Guatemala.

A White House official said the Obama administration is reviewing the previous U.S. stance on the treaty as part of a wider look at international human rights accords that Washington has not signed. The official did not say when a decision might be made.

The administration has already reversed its predecessor's decision to shun the U.N. Human Rights Council, which is monitoring the treaty's implementation. But it has also said it will retain the ability to capture and transfer suspects to third countries, a practice known as rendition, while stressing that it will not do so if detainees are at risk of torture.

The documents detailing U.S. proposals to loosen some of the treaty's key language were released last week in response to a Freedom of Information Act request made by Amnesty International, but many passages were redacted, and the remaining portions make no direct reference to specific CIA or Defense Department objections.

A senior Bush administration policymaker confirmed in an interview last week, however, that the existence of the CIA prisons and the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the Defense Department has held hundreds of suspected terrorists without initially disclosing their names, was 'a complicating factor' in U.S. deliberations on the treaty.

'Our negotiators were certainly aware that there was this program where people were being held, and were not in touch with people, and they had to be careful to ensure that there was room' for that program to continue, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the deliberations. He added that the treaty's proposed definition of 'enforced disappearances' was only one of several problems Washington had with the draft.

'As with a number of previous human rights treaties, the language was just so broad that . . . we were not going to be able to sign,' he said.

The treaty requires member countries to enact domestic criminal penalties for state-orchestrated disappearances and to compensate victims, but it has not taken legal effect because it has not been ratified by at least 20 nations, the minimum required. That leaves U.N. investigations of such cases in the hands of a five-member group chaired by a South African, which last year sent 1,203 new allegations of enforced disappearances to officials in the 28 countries said to be involved. A total of 42,393 alleged such disappearances in 79 countries remain unresolved by the group, according to its most recent annual report.

The U.N. group complained to the Bush administration last year about reports of the 'enforced disappearance for a certain period of time' of Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, a radical Egyptian cleric who was abducted by the CIA from a Milan street in 2003 and sent to Egypt, where he says he was tortured. When the State Department responded that U.S. policy bars such renditions if torture is anticipated, the U.N. group highlighted the gulf between the global treaty's view of 'intentionality' and the Bush administration's view.

'Intentionality is essentially irrelevant,' the group said in its response to Washington, 'in the sense that any act of enforced disappearance has the consequence of placing the persons subjected thereto outside the protection of the law, regardless of the pursued purposes.' U.S. negotiators had argued to the contrary in 2006 -- that proving intent is 'an essential ingredient of the crime.'

During the negotiations, China and a few other countries joined the United States in repeatedly attempting to slow the pace of the drafting, citing the complexity of the underlying issues. But a February 2004 State Department cable described the United States as 'isolated' in urging that the text include language allowing those participating in enforced disappearances to be exempt from prosecution if they thought they were following lawful orders.

The documents also spell out how the Bush administration was 'virtually alone' in objecting to a treaty provision stipulating that anyone 'with a legitimate interest,' such as a relative, be given an explanation and accounting of an individual's detention by the government as well as information on the person's whereabouts and health. U.S. negotiators called that provision unacceptable in a 2004 document, saying it 'could impair national security, law enforcement, or privacy interests.'

David Kaye, a State Department lawyer from 1999 to 2002 who directs the International Human Rights Program at UCLA Law School, said after reviewing the documents that 'it's clear that the 'right to know' was at the heart of the effort to draft this new instrument.' In that context, he said, 'the failure to come up with a creative way to solve the American problem with this language plainly looks like the Bush administration objected to the purpose of the treaty itself -- and that our allies roundly rejected the U.S. position.'

He added: 'I think a lot of the 'problems' in the text could be resolved and that the United States should consider joining this treaty.'

Allen Weiner, another former State Department lawyer who is co-director of the Program in International Law at Stanford Law School, similarly said that many of the apparent U.S. concerns were 'solvable' or could have been addressed in legal 'reservations,' whereby the U.S. government spelled out its plans to implement the treaty's language.

The senior Bush administration official noted, however, that Washington's ability to gain concessions from others was undermined by public revelation of the CIA prisons in 2005. 'I doubt that other countries would have been pushing quite so hard on this particular convention at this time were they not trying to cause problems for the administration,' he said.

The context, he said, enabled 'both the Europeans and the Latins' to 'join forces' in arguing against the U.S. proposals."

Woman in Malaysia Caning Sentence Freed - WSJ.com

    1:01 PM   No comments
Woman in Malaysia Caning Sentence Freed - WSJ.com: "Woman in Malaysia Caning Sentence Freed


BANGKOK -- Malaysian authorities appeared to have set free a Muslim woman who was scheduled to be caned under Islamic laws for drinking beer in a hotel bar, in a case that some political analysts described as a symptom of the country's increasingly fractious politics.

Drinking alcohol is illegal for Malaysia's Muslims, who make up about 60% of the nation's 27 million people. Usually, those caught are subjected to a fine or brief prison sentence. Non-Muslims, including large ethnic-Chinese and Indian communities, are free to drink and aren't subject to Shariah law.

View Full Image
Muslim model Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, 32, will be caned for drinking beer.
Associated Press

Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, however, was sentenced to six lashes with a rattan cane. On Friday, the 32-year-old mother of two asked for the punishment to be carried out in public to deter other Muslims from drinking alcohol.

But on Monday, Reuters reported, Ms. Kartika was freed while on her way to jail to receive the sentence. It wasn't immediately clear whether Ms. Kartika would be spared the punishment, or whether Islamic authorities had decided not to imprison her in order to carry out her sentence. Shararfuddin Zainal Ariffin, head of enforcement for the state of Pahang's Islamic Affair's Department, told reporters that 'the warrant cannot be executed,' Reuters reported.

* Opinion: Caning in Malaysia

Malaysian authorities previously said they won't cane Ms. Kartika in public, contrary to what she and her father requested. They also said she will be fully clothed as the sentence is carried out and that she will be struck on the rear with a thin bamboo cane with moderate force, with the prison officer raising it no higher than the shoulder before delivering the blow.

Ms. Kartika's punishment, ordered by an Islamic court Wednesday, and subsequent release come at a time of political tension in Malaysia. The ruling National Front and the Islamist component of an opposition alliance are competing to place themselves as the guardians of a faith that has taken on an increasingly political face in Malaysia over the past 20 years.

The National Front accuses the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, or PAS, of giving up some of its Islamic ideals by showing a willingness to compromise with its secular allies in matters such as whether convenience stores can sell alcohol in majority Muslim areas, or the location of pig abattoirs-sensitive issues in this multiracial society.

PAS, meanwhile, accuses the National Front and its main party, the United Malays National Organization, of being so entrenched in power after more than 50 years in office that they are unable to govern in accordance with the ethical principles of Islam.

Farish A. Noor, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University, says that the potential caning of Ms. Kartika 'is just a sign of what is to come.' Both PAS and UMNO, he said, are pushing for wider use of Shariah law in Malaysia.

The battle between UMNO and PAS over who has a greater claim as defender of the faith is being brought into relief in Penang state in the north of the country, where a special election for a state assembly seat will be held Tuesday.

The National Front, in particular, is using a campaign strategy designed to undermine PAS among prospective voters in the Chinese and Indian communities by playing up the party's efforts to ban beer sales at convenience stores. At the same time, the National Front is attempting to convince Muslim Malay voters that PAS is too willing to cut deals with its secular allies in order to secure political power. Senior UMNO leaders have condemned the leader of the opposition alliance, Anwar Ibrahim, as a 'traitor' to the Malay race.

The sentence initially handed down to Ms. Kartika, meanwhile, triggered a debate on whether Islamic laws are too severe for a multiracial society such as Malaysia.

Ms. Kartika, who lives in Singapore, was caught drinking beer at a hotel in Kuantan, in Malaysia's Pahang state, during a raid in 2007 by religious authorities. She declined to appeal and came back to Malaysia for the punishment."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fewer Americans see Islam as violent, poll finds | Reuters.com

    6:05 AM   No comments
Fewer Americans see Islam as violent, poll finds | Reuters.com: "Fewer Americans see Islam as violent, poll finds

By Ed Stoddard

DALLAS, Sept 9 (Reuters) - The percentage of Americans who believe Islam encourages violence has declined in recent years but remains far above where it was in 2002, while very basic knowledge about the faith has shown modest increases, according to a new survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

The poll's findings, released ahead of the eighth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, come against the backdrop of President Barack Obama's attempts to reach out to the Islamic world and eroding public support for the war in Muslim Afghanistan as U.S. combat deaths there rise to record levels.

Most Americans also believe Muslims are discriminated against, a finding that suggests empathy for a community whose leaders often say they are regarded with suspicion and hostility.

The nationwide survey of over 4,000 adults in August found that 58 percent of Americans believe Muslims face a lot of discrimination in the United States. By contrast the same numbers for atheists and Mormons are 26 and 24 percent respectively.

'The fact that Americans believe Muslims face a lot of discrimination is a substantial finding ... It is sort of like the public looking at itself in the mirror and there is some empathy for a group facing discrimination,' said Michael Dimock, an associate director at the Pew Research Center.


As a group, only gays and lesbians were seen worse off than Muslims in this regard with 64 percent saying they faced a lot of discrimination.

Thirty-eight percent of those polled believed Islam was more likely than other faiths to encourage violence, down from the 45 percent who held this view two years earlier.

But that number has fluctuated over the years and in 2002, when it was first asked the year after the Sept. 11 attacks, only 25 percent of the U.S. public said they thought Islam encouraged more violence than other faiths.

Former President George W. Bush made very public statements saying Islam was not a faith of violence in the immediate aftermath of the attacks in New York and Washington.

American views of Islam are closely linked to partisan affiliation or personal faith.

One of the sharpest declines was among conservative Republicans but a majority of this group or 55 percent still regarded Islam as violent versus 68 percent two years ago.

Among self-identified liberal Democrats only 25 percent held this view, virtually unchanged from August of 2007.

White evangelical Protestants, who remain a key base for the Republican Party, are 'significantly more likely than other religious groups to say Islam is inclined toward violence, with more than half (53 percent) taking this view,' Pew said.

'Within other religious groups, fewer than four-in-ten people express this opinion (39 percent of white mainline Protestants, 38 percent of white Catholics, 33 percent of the religiously unaffiliated and 30 percent of black Protestants.)'

Over the past several years, Pew has found that Americans' knowledge of the most basic facts about Islam has increased modestly though many remain in the dark about the faith.

'A slim majority of Americans know the Muslim name for God is Allah, and a similar number can correctly name the Koran as the Islamic sacred text. Overall, 41 percent of the public is able to answer both questions correctly,' Pew said. In 2002 only 33 percent responded to both questions correctly.

But 36 percent of Americans remain 'unfamiliar with either term,' according to Pew.

(Editing by Eric Walsh)"

Documents: Pew Survey of Americans' Perception of Islam

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Yusuf Qaradawi's jihad

    6:29 AM   No comments
The Egyptian-born Muslim leader has published a new treatise on the concept of jihad. Does it bring anything new to the table?
Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, the Egyptian-born octogenarian embraced by Ken Livingstone in 2004 and, as of 2008, excluded from the UK as a preacher of hate, has recently published a two-volume book entitled The Jurisprudence of Jihad. It is over 1400 pages long and has been received enthusiastically, and with some justification, as a major intervention on the subject by one of Islam's most respected "modernist" figures.

"Jihad", much like "fatwa", is a term that carries some heavy baggage. In the west, jihad now conjures up images of suicide bombers and implacable violence. Non-Muslims tend to equate this so-called "pinnacle" of Islam with abject evil. The lack of mutual understanding, trust and respect between "Islam" and the "west" is a problem many – not just President Obama – recognise. But what is less often acknowledged is that Islam can be hard to understand for Muslims as well.

The trouble with fatwas is that there are so many of them. Alongside accredited fatwa-issuers others, like Osama bin Laden, issue opinions founded on less obvious jurisprudential credentials. There are websites where you can search by keyword for a fatwa on a particular subject or, if nothing comes up, you could participate in a "live-fatwa" session. The vastness of cyber-Islam means that if one fatwa doesn't fit the bill, finding another that does shouldn't be too difficult.

Jihad, by the same token, is a "multivalent" category. Consulting Qur'an and Hadith directly will yield any number of interpretations of what jihad should involve, ranging from seeking mastery over inner demons and the lower self, to fighting the unbeliever wherever one finds him. As far as classical jurisprudence is concerned, the obligation to expand the house of Islam through war with the infidel should be honoured at least once a year – as determined by a Muslim imam. If the community is attacked it is incumbent on everybody to respond, whether or not the imam is there to declare war. For most, the absence of an imam (or caliph) has left defensive jihad as the only valid type.

In the early 20th century, the Indian thinker and political activist Abu Ala Mawdudi bypassed the question of whether Muslims should use jihad only in self-defence by delegitimising colonial borders and treating jihad as the handmaiden of a permanent revolution. It was to be pursued globally to defeat polytheism. When we talk about "jihadism" now, it is this understanding of jihad, which was taken up by Sayyid Qutb in the 1960s, that we generally mean. In the crosshairs of this jihad are rulers who do not govern by God's law and deny citizens the freedom to embrace Islam, as well as the external "far enemies" that support them.

Given the diffusion of religious authority, the multivalency of jihad and the multiplicity of fatwas, a gap in the market has most certainly opened up – especially since 11 September 2001 – for a "definitive" or "authoritative" work of jurisprudence on jihad fit for the modern world. It is hard to think of anyone other than Qaradawi who would have been equal to such a task.

Qaradawi's views on jihad are already relatively well known and, in the Arab context, mainstream: Palestinians have the right to pursue jihad in self-defence against Israel, as do Iraqis against Americans. More controversially, this right extends to the use of suicide bombing. But al-Qa'ida's global jihad is definitely out, as is the targeting of civilians or the use of violence not sanctioned by the state.

Instead Qaradawi encourages a "middle way" conception of jihad: "solidarity" with the Palestinians and others on the front line, rather than violence, is an obligatory form of jihad. Financial jihad, which corresponds with the obligation of alms giving (zakat), counts as well. And Muslims should recognise that technological change means that media and information systems are as much a part of the jihadist repertoire as are guns. Indeed, as long as Muslims are free to use media and other resources to press their case, there is no justification for using force to "open" countries for Islam.

Qaradawi's intervention (apparently seven years in gestation) follows a number of landmark jihadi "rethinkings" since 9/11. The Egyptian Islamic Group has published over 20 books detailing its rejection of jihad against rulers and western civilians, as did bin Laden's former mentor, Dr Fadl. Just a few days ago the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group handed over a set of – no doubt similar – "revisions" documents to a foundation headed by Sayf al-Islam Gaddafi.

So Qaradawi's book does not necessarily provide something new. And his mainstream credentials could easily work against the book's influence. Qaradawi is closely associated with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which has long been the object of scorn and derision from jihadists – most stingingly from al-Qaida number two Ayman al-Zawahiri – for its lackadaisical approach to regime change. And with jihadism's green shoots now sprouting in the non-Arab world (Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan), it is worth querying how influential a 1400-word book in Arabic is likely to be.

The book's real importance perhaps lies not in any new ideas, nor in its being avidly devoured by would-be militants, but in its sheer gravitas. In the late 1970s a young Egyptian engineer penned a pamphlet on jihad entitled The Neglected Duty. It helped clarify a lot of issues for those who went on to assassinate president Sadat. Qaradawi's opus will now sit on the shelf alongside the treatises of al-Shafi'i, Ibn Taymiyya and other giants of medieval Islam. It will henceforth be extremely difficult for anyone to argue that mainstream Islam is "neglecting" jihad.
Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2009/aug/17/islam-jihad-qaradawi/print

Most popular articles

Karama Videos

Search for old news

Find Articles by year, month hierarchy

Contact Us


Email *

Message *


Copyright © KARAMA. All rights reserved.