Saturday, May 31, 2008

Crazy English

That's the title of an article from an April New Yorker describing the ways in which the Chinese are learning English. In addition to being quite entertaining, it leaves you with a disturbing sense of China's dynamism and intense desire to get ahead. (Thanks to Joe.)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Jihadist disputes

As a contribution to the assessment given by CIA Director Michael Hayden today about Al Qaeda's difficulties, see the analysis by MEMRI's Daniel Lav of two (verbal) attacks on Al Qaeda by prominent former jihadists.

The Egyptian Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya group has disagreed with the characterization, still held by Osama bin Laden, of Muslim leaders as apostates. Once these leaders are no longer apostates, there is no justification for jihad against them. As one of the Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya senior leaders put it, Al Qaeda's "goal is jihad, whereas our goal is Islam."

Sayyed Imam, the leader of the Egyptian Jihad group, has also attacked Al Qaeda. Essentially, he argues that jihad groups today should not wage jihad because they are too weak; e.g., they need to wait and fight another day.

Note that neither of these critics has censured Al Qaeda for attacking U.S., Israeli or Western targets.

I also wanted to amend my earlier entry, in which I argued that these disputes are arising as a result of Muslim casualties at the hand of jihadists. As Charles Krauthammer said tonight on Fox News, they also arise from Al Qaeda's defeat in Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

The USG and the future of Europe

The International Herald Tribune reports that the State Department is now sending young European Muslim leaders as participants in its official visitor program to the United States. In France, some 25-30 people go on these exchanges each year, of which a dozen are of Muslim origin. According to a spokesman at the Paris Embassy, one goal is to reach out to minorities to whom "America has become a voodoo doll." Another is to get to know "the future movers and shakers of Europe."

Maybe that last reason is why, when French media discovered this program, they branded it as "CIA in the suburbs." As one participant noted, French elites, unlike Americans, have trouble imagining minorities as future leaders. White French politicians who have gone to the United States on this program have not been accused of working for the CIA.

These exchange programs are probably the best bang for the buck among all U.S. assistance programs. The trick is to pick the right people. It's higher risk to send people from the Muslim sections where rioting occurred, but the quotes from participants in this article suggest that the trips have not been wasted. (Thanks to Islam in Europe.)


Last month a judge in Lille, France, annulled a mariage "because of an error regarding the essential qualities of the spouse" - to wit, the wife lied about being a virgin. The case, which is the first of its kind, has stirred up a storm of controversy. Silehm Habchi, president of the group "Ni putes ni soumises' that fights for the rights of Muslim women, said "we have been betrayed by our own justice system, which is issuing a veritable fatwa against women's freedom."

The law applied in this case has primarily been used to annul 'forced marriages.' For 2004, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 745 marriages were annulled. Some 60% of the cases were initiated by public prosecutor, usually due to lack of consent on the part of one of the partners.

I'm unfamiliar with the French justice system, so don't know if this case can or will be appealed.

Thanks to Joe for sending me the link.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Who's the 'moderate'?

Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank, in the latest issue of The New Republic, pull together evidence of a growing trend of various jihadist authorities criticizing Osama bin Laden. They are right to note this trend and to link it to growing disenchantment in Muslim countries, as it becomes clear that 'jihad' kills more Muslims, especially innocent men, women and children, than anyone else.

However, they then cite approvingly the role of the local chapter of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), a Muslim Brotherhood organization, in re-opening and 'de-radicalizing' the notorious Finsbury Park mosque formerly run by Abu Hamza. They see the role of MAB and its leader, Kamal El Helbawy, as positive; here Melanie Phillips argues the opposite (her piece also has a link to the TNR article). She argues that "he is the main Muslim Brotherhood man in Britain and Europe - and thus central to the whole strategy of indoctrination and radicalisation of Britain's Muslims and the demoralisation with menaces of the indigenous community..."

As for Bergen and Cruickshank: "They have fallen into the trap of believing that the only extremists are al Qaeda and others who support terrorism in Britain...there are Islamists who oppose al Qaeda and terrorist action in the UK as a tactical mistake but nevertheless subscribe to the same strategic goal - to restore the medieval Caliphate, overturn British and western society and institute the rule of Islam instead."

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Talking to tyrants

On May 22, as a contribution to the Bush-Obama exchange regarding appeasement and meetings with figures such as Iranian President Ahmadinejad, The New York Times published an excellent op-ed by Nathan Thrall and Jesse James Wilkins. The op-ed recounts President Kennedy's one and only meeting with Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev.

This meeting, which occurred in June 1961, was "one of the more self-destructive American actions of the cold war, and one that contributed to the most dangerous crisis of the nuclear age." Kennedy himself said after the meeting: "He just beat the hell out of me. I've got a terrible problem if he thinks I'm inexperienced and have no guts." Khrushchev did in fact conclude that Kennedy was "too intelligent and too weak." That assessment contributed to Khrushchev's decisions to erect the Berlin Wall and install missiles in Cuba. For the full text of the Thrall/Wilkins op-ed, click here. (Thanks to Joseph.)

More on Muhammed al-Dura

If you'd like more information on the judgment in favor of French blogger Philippe Karsenty, who challenged the veracity of France 2's version of the alleged killing of the Palestinian boy, Muhammed al-Dura, see this link to an op-ed by Nidra Poller in the Wall Street Journal Europe. To see the disputed video segments for yourself, click here. (Thanks to CAMERA.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The UN never disappoints

The Durban II racism conference - expected to be an antisemitic and anti-American hatefest - will be held in Geneva on April 20-24, 2009, thus coinciding with the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day.

As Anne Bayefsky of EYE on the UN notes: "Jews all over the world will be remembering the 6 million murdered in the worst instance of racism and xenophobia in human history. At the same time, the United Nations will be discussing whether the Jewish state, created in the wake of the Holocaust and standing as a bulwark to ensure it is never repeated, should be demonized as the worst practitioner of racism and xenophobia among nations today."

Canada, the United States and Israel are expected to boycott the conference; the European Union likely will attend. The next time a European harangues you (if you're an American) about human rights, please ask him or her why the EU supports such an outrage.

Friday, May 23, 2008

On the dole in Denmark

I wouldn't want anyone to rush off to Memorial Day weekend in a festive mood, so here's a sobering description of what's going on in Denmark, thanks to Kathy. Denmark welcomed immigrants, giving them generous welfare benefits, etc. Then the Danes noticed that many Muslims were not interested in assimilating, but were happy to remain on the dole. The official estimate in 2006 was that "if immigration from Third World countries were blocked, 75 percent of the cuts needed to sustain the huge welfare system in coming decades would be unnecessary."

And just think, those payments also supported burgeoning crime; in 2002 it was estimated that "Muslims are only 4 percent of Denmark's 5.4 million people but make up a majority of the country's convicted rapists." Happy Memorial Day!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A win for French justice

One good development today (thanks to Jihad Watch), in a long and tortured tale I'll try to make short and sweet.

A French judge just ruled that media watchdog Philippe Karsenty did not libel French television channel 2 when he accused them of broadcasting 'pure fiction' by filming and transmitting the alleged death of Muhammed Al-Dura. This is the young Palestinian boy whose 'death' from Israeli bullets made him into the icon of the 2000 Intifada - inflaming Muslim passions against Israelis, Jews, Crusades, etc., and wreaking untold havoc. Karsenty believes (as do other independent observers) that the entire episode was staged. Israel Defense Force investigators concluded that if the boy had been hit, it was most likely by Palestinian rather than Israeli fire.

France 2 will appeal this verdict, so the story isn't over. Nor to my knowledge has the French court ruled on the underlying question of whether the incident was faked. When challenged to submit their outtakes to the court, France 2 reported that key segments were unfortunately missing.

Hizbullah and Iranian aims in Lebanon

Hizbullah attacked the Lebanese government several weeks ago after the latter challenged Hizbullah's right to build and maintain its own separate communications network. A French website recently released a map of this network. Mideast expert Walid Phares, here, analyzes the practical import of this network, a closed-circuit cable system which the Lebanese government cannot monitor.

The network is ideal for mobilizing fighters and dispatching them to different places and could be used against the UN peacekeeping force put in place after the 2006 war as well as against the Lebanese government. It goes up to the Lebanese-Syrian border, through which Iran has been able to supply Hizbullah. Phares also speculates that "this communications network is a battlefield system" which the Iranians and Syrian special forces could use to invade Lebanon en masse - as well as to threaten Israel's northern border directly.

Phares thinks the network could allow Hizbullah to fire its rockets and missiles system across Lebanon "without significant interference from Western assets." In his view, Hizbullah and Iran are now ready to counter any effort by the 'international community' to keep them from dominating the Eastern Mediterranean.

I realize that keeping track of delegates for Obama and Hillary is important - but to downplay a story this big is truly scandalous.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I gotta agree

Clifford May has written an excellent comment on the Bush-Obama exchange regarding Iran and appeasement. He argues that Obama, instead of bristling with outrage at a remark that may not even have been directed at him, should simply have said that he too opposed appeasement. So, one wonders, why didn't he?

Monday, May 19, 2008

The ugly Americans

If you, like everyone else this election season, say that what you really want is to make foreigners like America again, then I have news for you. The new farm bill is the worst, the very worst thing that Americans can do to hurt poor people around the world. It's a disgrace; our subsidies, like the European ones, distort world markets and create disincentives to farmers in developing countries, doing untold harm. Particularly when food prices are so high that they are causing riots, our increased subsidies are truly despicable.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Germany and Iran

German Islamism expert Matthias Kuentzel, in the May 15 issue of the Wall Street Journal, reported on a trip to Berlin last April by a senior Iranian foreign ministry official that neither the media nor the German government had mentioned. He describes the tension between German Chancellor Angela Merkel's calls for tougher sanctions on Iran and the position of the German foreign policy establishment, which wants accommodation or even a 'strategic partnership' with Iran.

One of those calling for a better relationship with Iran is Christoph Bertram, a very senior and respected foreign policy expert in Germany. Another is Kinan Jaeger, a professor at the University of Bonn. Kuentzel quotes Jaeger as writing that "[a]nyone who is capable of bringing Iran to its side is not only 'set for life' as far as energy logistics are concerned, but could also face the U.S. in a different way." Just what this 'different way' might be should give us pause for reflection.

During the latest exchange between Obama and Bush over whether we should talk to leaders like Iranian President Ahmedinejad, neither mentioned that the Europeans - with Germany as a leader - have been negotiating with the Iranians for years now. U.S. policy supported those talks. Even the EU has admitted it got absolutely nothing for its efforts (although that doesn't ever seem to them to suggest that maybe it's not worth doing). The Iranian negotiator disagreed; according to him, the negotiations gave the Iranians valuable time to develop nuclear weapons.

I think we should take very seriously what the German foreign policy experts are saying. If Iran becomes a nuclear power, it could hurt our relations with Europe as well as with the Middle East.

Friday, May 16, 2008

More recommended reading

If you want a chilling update on how violent Islamists are using cyberspace to subvert Americans and train them to be jihadists, read "Violent Islamist Extremism, The Internet, and the Homegrown Terrorist Threat." It's a majority and minority report of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, dated May 8, 2008. You can find it here.

As to how various Muslim organizations responded to the Senate report, here's a summary provided by Zuhdi Jasser's organization, the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD). AIFD praises the report, while criticizing the condemnation of it emanating from 'mainstream' Muslim organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Just for the record, Europeans are also concerned about the ways in which the internet contributes to Islamist radicalization. Dealing with this problem raises issues connected to freedom of speech, but both the United States and Europe need to figure out a strategy to combat it. As AIFD points out, any strategy must have a substantive component as well as a technical one - you need competing visions to persuade young people that radical Islam is not the answer. Shying away from clearly identifying and analyzing 'radical Islam' only helps the 'bad guys.'

Willful Blindness

If you want to read a super book, try Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad, by Andrew C. McCarthy. McCarthy was the lead prosecutor in the 1990s trial of a group of jihadists led by Omar Abdul Rahman, the Blind Sheikh who inspired a number of attacks in the United States, including the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. This tale from the 1990s has all the elements present in today's world: bureaucratic missteps by various government agencies; radical Muslims training for deadly attacks on U.S. targets, known to the FBI but allowed to continue with their plots; links to global jihad, including Osama bin Laden, etc.

McCarthy describes the evolution in his understanding of Islam as he prepared to cross-examine the Blind Sheikh (who in the end did not take the stand):

"I sat down to plot a cross-examination that would expose him as a fraud - a charlatan who was twisting and perverting Islamic doctrine toward barbarous, evil ends. To be sure, Islamic theology was his turf, not mine. I was not fool enough to think I could debate him on it. But if what we in the United States government were saying was true - and I was simply certain it had to be - surely there must be three or four narrow points on which I could nail him. Islam, after all, is a religion of peace, no?...

There was nothing. I pored over hundreds of pages: speeches, writings, recorded conversations. Nowhere could I catch him. I supposed I could debate him - a debate I would lose - over whether his was the best interpretation of what Islam commanded. He could not, however, be credibly disputed on his representation of religious tenets. Were there benign Islamic scriptures he omitted? Sure. But that didn't change the inconvenient fact: when he cited threatening scripture, he wasn't distorting it. The passages said exactly what he claimed they said."

McCarthy also describes the response of the 'moderate' Muslims who testified, whom he considered to be peaceful, well-meaning people. "Every now and then, though, a question of religious doctrine would come up, and they would demur... What was jarring... was that they were nice people and yet they were ready to defer, on matters of importance in their faith, to the homicidal maniac sitting in the corner of our courtroom."

So why do we know so little about this trial, which obviously was a 'trial of the century'? Because, it turns out that it happened at almost exactly the same time as the O.J. Simpson trial, hence got very little coverage. Sometimes it really hurts to see how much damage is done by thoughtlessness and stupidity.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Denial is not a river in Africa

How active are jihadists born or resident in Germany? A new article by John Rosenthal recounts the media coverage (or lack thereof) of German-born suicide bombers in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Both German and US media downplay this threat; the German press even appears on occasion to have forgotten that key players in the 9/11 attacks lived in Germany.

However, a recent opinion poll in Germany produced a very different result: some 74% of respondents saw Germany as a hotbed of Islamic radicalism, while 15% said that terrorism in Germany was no worse than anywhere else.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The war of ideas

Two recent articles bely the idea that the ideological or philosophical challenge from Islamism represents a clash of civilizations. Rather, one author argues that the real debate must occur between Christians (or Jews) in the West; the other that Muslims must find a way to modernize Islamic law.

David Rusin, in The American Thinker, summarizes the debate between two high Church of England prelates, Archibishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali. They "have emerged as central combatants in the dispute between two fundamentally opposed models of social organization: multiculturalism and universalism. The former bestows equal standing upon different cultures in the public square. The latter bestows equal standing upon individuals who wield a common set of rights and responsibilities. Which system prevails will ultimately determine the level of danger that homegrown Islamists pose to Britain, Europe, and the broader West." For the full text of Rusin's piece, click here (thanks to Islamist Watch).

Nazir-Ali focuses, among other problems, on the traditional Muslim penalty for apostasy (leaving the Muslim faith), which is death. So did Zuhdi Jasser, a practising American Muslim who finally succeeded in drawing an Islamist spokesman, Imam Mohammed Al-Darsani, into a public debate. That event occurred in Fort Myers, Florida last April; here is Jasser's summary of some key points.

In Jasser's view, the "real battle lines in this global conflict are within the Islamic community and over the boundaries and clarity of morality." In the debate, he put Al-Darsani on the spot regarding the treatment of apostates. Al-Darsani said, "We think once you are a Muslim you are part of a community, and when you leave the community you have committed treason." Al-Darsani is from the Islamic Center for Peace in Fort Myers; it's not hard to figure out what "peace" really means.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

GITMO terrorists kill

Some of the 700 GITMO detainees may be innocent, but for sure all of them aren't. According to an Investor's Business Daily article on May 8, at least 30 of the 390 who have been released thus far have resumed their terrorist activities.

For those who think that blowing up U.S. soldiers is a worthy endeavor, it's worth remembering that Islamists don't just restrict themselves to blowing up Crusaders and Zionists. One GITMO detainee, after his release, went to South Waziristan and rebuilt a Taliban unit of 5,000 soldiers before blowing himself up to avoid arrest in a raid. His brother, Baitullah Mehsud, the commander of 30,000 fighters who actively support Al Qaeda in Pakistan, is the alleged mastermind of Benazir Bhutto's assassination, according to the article.

Sign the petition!

Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) last week tried and failed (due to Democratic opposition in the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence) last Thursday to add an amendment to the 2009 Intelligence Authorization Act that would stop the government's 'speech code' that prohibits people from discussing the Islamic aspects of terrorism and radical Islam. Now there's a petition online to support his effort.

I strongly recommend you click here and sign the petition. We'll never win this war if we can't even name the enemy (does this sound like the frightened people in Harry Potter or what?). Thanks to Jihad Watch for the alert.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Bad news from Beirut

It looks as Hizbullah has emerged much strengthened from the fighting of the last couple of days in Beirut. The unrest started when the Lebanese government uncovered a secret communications system and a surveillance system belonging to Hizbullah and declared them illegal. Hizbullah's response was to take over most of Beirut, apparently without serious opposition from the Lebanese army or any of the other militias. See the MEMRI blog for details, using the link on the right-hand side of this page (I couldn't enter the link).

Iran wants two client states on Israel's borders: Hamas in Gaza and Hizbullah in Lebanon. It's gotten the first one and is well on the way to getting the second. Another Mideast war may not be far away.

Ban the Burka

Here's a report on Dutch efforts to ban the burka in schools, government offices and elsewhere; it's not the first time they've tried, and it's not clear that the government will prevail in its attempt. Nevertheless, this move represents one way to respond to growing numbers of people who deliberately segregate themselves from Western society, yet often demand all the rights, privileges and protections accorded by that society.

In fact, all face coverings in public should be banned. Why allow young men in balaclavas to get away with shouting hateful things anonymously in street demonstrations? When I served with NATO in Bosnia, an effective means of defusing potentially violent street demonstrations was to take pictures of the provocateurs. They really didn't want to be identified and often disappeared, taking their incitement with them. Many Western demonstrations may be 'peaceful', but if people are shouting hate slogans that elsewhere are clearly calls to murder, there's absolutely no reason why they should be permitted to get away with it.

Interesting but frightening

If you want a chill to run up your spine, read this summary of a talk given recently by Iranian President Ahmadinejad (thanks to Jihad Watch). The interesting part is his description of domestic economic problems and his explanation of why the situation is so bad (the fault of his enemies). The frightening part is when he starts talking about Imam Mahdi.

What I want to know is: why are people who were so frightened about Bush praying in the White House not concerned by a man who thinks the Imam Mahdi is helping him get nuclear weapons so that he can use them? Particularly with the recent outbreak of fighting in Lebanon between the Sunnis and Iran-backed Hizbollah, anyone who thinks Ahmadinejad is just spouting nonsense should reconsider.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Go Maryland!

Dhimmi Watch reports on a court case in Maryland in which the judge refused to recognize a divorce done by the husband in Pakistan according to sharia law, noting that it would deprive the wife of the rights accorded her under American law. Read all about it here.

A year ago, a German judge caused an uproar by saying that a Moroccan husband had the right to beat his wife, since it was allowed under sharia law. Now, if only the Archbishop of Canterbury could understand the implications of allowing sharia law to be 'partially' implemented in Western countries - maybe he needs to visit Maryland more often.

Wonderful news

Senators Arlen Specter and Joe Lieberman, along with Representative Peter King, have introduced draft legislation entitled the Free Speech Protection Act of 2008. The bill would protect American journalists from libel suits brought in foreign courts that do not have the protections for free speech that the U.S. Constitution provides. According to Specter, "[t]here is a real danger that American writers and researchers will be afraid to address the crucial subject of terror funding and other important matters without these protections." Lieberman warned against the dangers inherent in using the courts to "chill inquiry and research."

The impetus for this legislation was the case of Rachel Ehrenfeld, who in 2003 wrote Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed and How to Stop It. She was sued for libel in England, even though only 23 copies of her books were sold there, where libel laws are much more favorable to the plaintiff.

Still further legislation will be required to protect people against 'lawfare' - being intimidated or silenced by the threat of lawsuits - for writing about radical Islam. However, this is an excellent start.

More on UNRWA

Thanks to Matthew, who in commenting on an earlier piece pointed me toward a Powerline Blog entry of May 8 on the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Palestine. This entry discusses an article by Barry Rubin, Asef Asirowski and others pointing out the ways in which UNRWA "actually helps destroy the chance of Arab-Israeli peace, promotes terrorism, and holds Palestainians back from rebuilding their lives."

It is amazing how, for over 50 years, Americans have continued to fund a 'humanitarian' operation that pursues goals diametrically opposed to those of the main UN humanitarian organization, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR. UNHCR's work includes finding ways for people to either return home or settle somewhere else and get on with their lives. The wisdom of this approach is obvious: if you grew up in one of those refugee camps that UNRWA is dedicated to keeping alive, you'd probably be a terrorist too.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The EU, religion and climate change

European Commission President Barroso, Slovenian Prime Minister and current President of the European Council Jansa and president of the European Parliament Poettering (in other words, all the most senior EU leaders) convened a meeting on May 5 in Brussels of Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders to - why didn't anyone think of this before? - discuss climate change and reconciliation. Barroso said of these leaders: "Thanks to their moral authority, their outreach and their structure, they are well placed to make a valuable contribution, mobilising our societies for a sustainable future."

The one Muslim representative named in the article (see here, thanks to Brussels Journal) was Grand Mufti of Bosnia-Herzegovina Mustafa Ceric. He is here and here identified as prominent in the global Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood's credo is: "Allah is our goal, the prophet our model, the Koran our constitution, the Jihad our path and death for the sake of Allah the loftiest of our wishes." Nothing like tacking sustainable development on the end of that list!

Polygamy in California

This is actually an old story; the individual on trial, Mansa Musa Muhummed, was arrested in 1999, accused of having three wives and 19 children, whom he beat and starved - and lived off of, since he didn't work. Note that he uses (relevant) quotations from the Koran and Reliance of the Traveler to justify his actions. Read the details here, thanks to Dhimmi Watch. It will be interesting to see if this story is reported by the mainstream media.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The UN in Gaza

The Israelis have long accused the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the UN's relief agency in Palestine, of helping Palestinian terrorists. Now it turns out that one fatality in a recent Israeli air strike in Gaza was none other than Awad al-Qiq, science teacher and headmaster of the Rafah Prep Boys School, run by UNRWA. He was building rockets for Islamic Jihad to fire into Israel; although his family and UNRWA said they knew nothing about his secret life, Islamic Jihad celebrated him as one of their own. Makes you wonder what he taught in his science classes! Read all about it here (thanks to Melanie Phillips).

Monday, May 5, 2008

Islamists in prison

If you've ever wondered what happened to terrorists after they're convicted and sentenced, read this new report, "Terrorists behind Bars", issued by the NEFA Foundation. Among other things, Islamists in prison have recruited new members, organized break-outs, and sought to communicate with others on the outside to plan further attacks. The report also analyzes the U.S. and European prison environments, as well as efforts by Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Yemen and the U.S. military in Iraq to 're-educate' captured Islamists (see my earlier blog entry).

Saturday, May 3, 2008

More on censorship

More details are emerging regarding the infamous directive, applicable to the Department of Homeland Security and the National Counter Terrorism Center as well as to the State Department, that outlaws the use of words such as 'jihad' or 'jihadi' or 'mujahadin' to avoid alienating 'moderate Muslims.'

Once censorship starts, it has a way of spreading. Not too long ago, the UK government forbade the use of certain words that linked Islamist activity to Islam. Now, similar controls are being applied to UK television programming (thanks to Islamist Watch for this item).

If I remember correctly, I recently saw an item in which a Swedish minister called for controls to be applied to bloggers.

Albanian Muslims and Jews

I just saw a moving exhibition dedicated to Albanian Muslims who rescued Jews during World War II, receiving as a result the title of 'Righteous' from Yad Vashem. The individuals interviewed gave two reasons for their actions. First, their Albanian code of besa, which means keeping the promise and is closely related to the concept of honor, required them to protect visitors, if necessary with their own lives. Second, they believed that, as Muslims, the saving of one life would open for them the doors of paradise.

The result: Albanians saved the 200 Jews who lived in Albania, plus over 1,000 others who fled there during World War II - apparently, only one family perished at the hands of the Germans. Often, the entire community knew that Jews were being hidden among them, yet no one betrayed them. And, in the cases included in this exhibit, the Albanian benefactors refused any payment for their help.

I wasn't able to find online information about the exhibit itself, but did find some documentation on the Yad Vashem website. For those pages, click here.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Tips from Iraq

Judith Miller, in City Journal, provides a fascinating description of the U.S. military's efforts in Iraq to deprogram and retrain detainees suspected of jihadist activity. Its programs in the two main detention camps teach basic literacy (over 60% of the detainees are illiterate), history, civics, geography, math, and practical skills such as carpentry. The programs also include religious discussion sessions; detainees began volunteering for those sessions after the hard-core jihadists were physically separated from them.

Over 23,000 people are now in the camps; the first task is to identify those who are not jihadists, and release them. Those released must pledge before an Iraqi judge not to resort to violence and respect Iraqi laws. Where possible, those pledges are guaranteed by family members. So far, of 8,000 released, only 21 have been rearrested for suspected insurgent activity - some 0.2% of the total.

The authorities hope to release at least two-thirds of the remaining detainees by the end of 2008. Most are Sunni males aged 18-29; there are only 240 foreign fighters. According to Miller, the vast majority appear to have been motivated primarily by economic reasons, rather than jihadist fervor.

It's still 'early days,' but this initiative bears close watching. Not so long ago Al Qaeda identified Iraq as the central front in its war on the West. If U.S. and Iraqi authorities can find a way to provide a better alternative to radical Islam and make it stick, this should have repercussions far beyond the borders of Iraq.