Islam’s Claim on Spain

The white minaret of the new Great Mosque of Granada doesn’t overshadow a nearby church but is nonetheless a testament to Spanish Muslims’ pride in their history in “Al Andalus,” the region of southern Spain now known as Andalusia

GRANADA, Spain – Across a valley of fragrant cedars and orange trees, worshipers at the pristine Great Mosque of Granada look out at the Alhambra, the 700-year-old citadel and monument to the heyday of Islamic glory.

Granada’s Muslims chose the hilltop location precisely with the view, and its unmistakable symbolism, in mind.

It took them more than 20 years to build the mosque, the first erected here in half a millennium, after they conquered the objections of city leaders and agreed, ultimately, to keep the minaret shorter than the steeple on the Catholic Iglesia de San Nicolas next door.

Cloistered nuns on the other side of the mosque added a few feet to the wall enclosing their convent, as if to say they wanted neither to be seen nor to see.

Many of Spain’s Muslims long for an Islamic revival to reclaim their legendary history, and inaugurating the Great Mosque last year was the most visible gesture. But horrific bombings by Muslim extremists that killed nearly 200 people in Madrid on March 11 have forced Spain’s Muslims and non-Muslims to reassess their relationship, and turned historical assumptions on their head.

“We are a people trying to return to our roots,” said Anwar Gonzalez, 34, a Granada native who converted to Islam 17 years ago. “But it’s a bad time to be a Muslim.”

Spain has a long, rich and complex history interwoven with the Muslim and Arab world, from its position as the center of Islamic Europe in the last millennium to today’s confrontation with a vast influx of Muslim immigrants. Continue reading “Islam’s Claim on Spain”


Galloway’s last punch at Blair

Sense & Insensibility
Galloway’s last punch at Blair
Shahnoor Wahid

If you are wondering who has most gall among the present lot of British MPs then you will invariably end up with the name George Galloway, the Labour MP, for a number of reasons. This gregarious and wickedly witty MP with a runaway tongue is known for his anti-Bush and Blair utterings, which, at times, even his staunch supporters find difficult to digest.Galloway has an everlasting reservoir of invectives, all tailor-made, to launch his attacks on his two prized political enemies. He has been the most vocal critique of the Iraq policies of Britain and the USA, and he never tried to hide his feelings in private or in public.

But many across the world found his way with words not quite palatable, which, more often than not, touched upon the profane, to say the least. But, no doubt, this burly politician is pure entertainment to the non-political and non-partisan audience. Continue reading “Galloway’s last punch at Blair”

Growing Islamophobia

President Bush reacting to the unearthing of the alleged bombing plot over the Atlantic August 10 remarked: “This nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation.”

On Aug. 7, during a press conference from his ranch in Texas, he said terrorists “try to spread their jihadist message – a message I call … Islamic radicalism, Islamic fascism”. A moment later, he said “Islamo-fascism” was an “ideology that is real and profound”. White House spokesman Tony Snow told the “Atlanta Journal-Constitution” Aug. 11 that the president will continue to use the phrase.

This is not the first time that Bush and members of his Administration have used this deliberate coupling of Islam with evil ideologies or actions, such as fascism or terrorism. Bush referred to “Islamo-fascism” in his address to the National Endowment for Democracy, Oct. 6, 2005. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) addressing Christians United for Israel (CUFI) held their first Washington-Israel Summit in Washington D.C., July 2006, declaring “Islamic fascism is a mosaic…” Continue reading “Growing Islamophobia”


Supposed Anti-Semitism- BBC in legal bid to hide anti-Israel report


BBC in legal bid to hide anti-Israel report
29/3/07 If any of you British citizens think your wallet feels a little light of late, perhaps the reason may be down to events at the BBC within the last few weeks. An internal memo into the BBC’s slanted coverage of the Middle East conflict, in particular in regards to Israel, has become the subject of an intense legal battle between the corporation and the Information Tribunal that regulates the media giant. A few months ago a report was published by the BBC Board of Governors on the organization’s coverage of the Middle East. It found that the BBC was not systemically biased, i.e. the organization was not constructed in such a way that created bias, but stated that the public believed its news coverage was slanted against Israel. But BBC executives admitted last year that the organization is “dominated by homosexuals, people from ethnic minorities, deliberately promotes multiculturalism, is anti-American, anti-countryside, and more sensitive to the feelings of Muslims than Christians”. Continue reading “Supposed Anti-Semitism- BBC in legal bid to hide anti-Israel report”


Confident Turkey looks east, not west

Simon Tisdall
Monday March 26, 2007
The Guardian

Turkey was not invited to Europe’s big birthday bash yesterday despite being an official candidate for EU membership. Ankara expressed disappointment at a “missed opportunity”. Media reaction to the perceived snub was sharper.

“In the 1990s, the EU was a giant organisation governed by prominent leaders,” said leading columnist Mehmet Ali Birand. “Today it has become a fat midget that lacks perspective and is governed by small-thinkers.” Continue reading “Confident Turkey looks east, not west”




Karachi, 16 Feb. (AKI) – (Syed Saleem Shahzad) – Pakistan will play a pivotal role in a Saudi-devised strategy to build a strong Sunni block to counter the perceived growing influence in the Middle East of Shiites led by Iran, diplomatic sources in Islamabad have told Adnkronos International (AKI). The strategy includes the creation of a multinational Muslim peacekeeping force comprising troops from core Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) member states, said the sources, speaking on condition of anonimity. Also central to the initiative is a policy of rapprochement with Israel aiming to resolve the Palestinian issue, through United States mediation.

Foreign ministers from the core OIC nations – Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Indonesia and Malaysia – will meet in Islamabad next month to agree on a plan aimed at the peaceful and speedy resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the sources told AKI. Continue reading “MIDDLE EAST: PAKISTAN HAS KEY ROLE IN SAUDI-SPONSORED ‘SUNNI-BLOCK’”


Aliies or Axis

 BEIJING, Feb. 15 — The foreign ministers of China, India and Russia have agreed to work more closely together after a series of meetings in New Delhi. They issued a joint communique, saying they want to strengthen mutual trust, international harmony and find common ground between different interests.     In the communique issued at the end of the meeting, the foreign ministers of China, Russia and India call for the democratization of international relations. They praised multi-polarization based on equality among all countries, and mutual respect of each other’s sovereignty and territory integrity.

    The foreign ministers addressed international terrorism and the need to make collective efforts under UN coordination and to combat it. The ministers agreed to work together to deal with the financing of terrorism, drug trafficking and international organized crime.

    They also addressed the great potential in economic cooperation, especially in energy, transport infrastructure and information technology.

    During a news conference after the meeting, Pranab Mukherjee said the trilateral talks produced positive results.

    Pranab Mukherjee, said, “We shared our thoughts on political, economic, and security aspects on the global situation, the present world order and recent development in various areas of mutual concern. We agreed that cooperation rather than confrontation should govern to global affairs.”

    Meanwhile, ministers agreed that the UN is an important platform for multi-polarization and world peace.

    Li Zhaoxing, China’s FM, said, “We have to further strengthen the solidarity and unity of the United Nations membership, and let the United Nations and its Security Council play a role in maintaining world peace and encouraging common development.”

    The Joint Communique says the next trilateral meeting of the three countries will be held in China.



Israel’s right to be racist

The matter-of-factness with which the state of Israel claims the right to treat non-Jews as lesser animals is shocking and annuls any move towards peace, writes Joseph Massad*

Israel’s struggle for peace is a sincere one. In fact, Israel desires to live at peace not only with its neighbours, but also and especially with its own Palestinian population, and with Palestinians whose lands its military occupies by force. Israel’s desire for peace is not only rhetorical but also substantive and deeply psychological. With few exceptions, prominent Zionist leaders since the inception of colonial Zionism have desired to establish peace with the Palestinians and other Arabs whose lands they slated for colonisation and settlement. The only thing Israel has asked for, and continues to ask for in order to end the state of war with the Palestinians and its Arab neighbours, is that all recognise its right to be a racist state that discriminates by law against Palestinians and other Arabs and grants differential legal rights and privileges to its own Jewish citizens and to all other Jews anywhere. The resistance that the Palestinian people and other Arabs have launched against Israel’s right to be a racist state is what continues to stand between Israel and the peace for which it has struggled and to which it has been committed for decades. Indeed, this resistance is nothing less than the “New anti- Semitism”.

Israel is willing to do anything to convince Palestinians and other Arabs of why it needs and deserves to have the right to be racist. Even at the level of theory, and before it began to realise itself on the ground, the Zionist colonial project sought different means by which it could convince the people whose lands it wanted to steal and against whom it wanted to discriminate to accept as understandable its need to be racist. Continue reading “Israel’s right to be racist”


Talking to the enemy

The recent Guardian debate between Hamas and Israel is a small but important step forward.

Ismail Patel

The Guardian has achieved what recent politicians, academics and diplomats have failed to do – it has created a forum for debate by bringing together two sides of a six-decade long conflict by printing Khalid Mish’al’s article and the subsequent response by Zvi Heifetz, the Israeli ambassador in London. This is a small, but under the circumstances, significant achievement.

The past year has been an experience in new depths of pain for the Palestinian people. While Israel has vehemently worked to disfranchise Hamas since its inception, this reached new intensity following Hamas’ election victory in January 2006.

Mr Heifetz’s response to Mr Mish’al is telling of Hamas’ reality: a party that has not only been given a mandate by its people but is slowly being acknowledged by almost all of its neighbouring states as a legitimate authority over Palestinians.

Even President Abbas, who has resisted conceding to the Hamas mandate for so long, both acknowledged Mr Mish’al as the rightful leader of Hamas and accepted Hamas’ terms recently in Mecca. This admittance by President Abbas consequently meant that the summit between US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, President Abbas and prime minister Olmert became all but insignificant on the ground.

This is an indication of the waning influence of those present and the absence of the real power broker for the Palestinians – Hamas.

In his comment, Mr Heifetz presumes a failure in Hamas’ achievements over the past year. Yet their success lies in the reality that a year ago neither he nor any of his contemporaries would have bothered to respond to Mr Mish’al publicly, especially if it was only an article in a newspaper.

However, Hamas in the past year has not only provided the Palestinians with a transparent, accountable and honest government but has further spelled out two significant points: the Palestinian struggle for liberation will continue despite Israeli, US and European sanctions and will verify that political Islam and democracy can go hand in glove.

While accusations against Palestinians for their refusal to recognise Israel are rife; a quick glance over Israel’s own history, even prior to its inception in 1948 shows a state that has been unwilling to recognise even the existence of a Palestinian people.

From the pre-Israel “land without a people” propaganda, to politicians like the late Golda Meir stating “there is no such thing as a Palestinian people”, there are innumerable examples of a failure to recognise an entire population. However, these facts are rarely mentioned when Israel demands that Palestinians recognise its existence, while simultaneously refusing to clarify the exact boundaries of the state it is being asked to recognise. Even after the Oslo Accords of 1993, Israel finally recognised the Palestinian people but not Palestine.

Since coming to power in January 2006, Hamas has also been faced with numerous provocative Israeli military strikes against the Palestinian people, including the Beit Hanoun and Gazabeach massacres, and in total over 600 were killed. It also faced the arrest and imprisonment of its ministers and MPs, but it constrained its right to retaliate.

Yet the international community, which should have allowed the Hamas government to dedicate its efforts in ameliorating the dire situation of its people, instead catapulted it into a political abyss by imposing sanctions and boycotts. The US went as far as funding Fatah’s leader, Mr Abbas, in recruiting a presidential guard which would sow the seeds of a civil conflict leading to over 100 Palestinian deaths.

Despite these alarming efforts by Israel, the US and European powers to destabilise Hamas, since coming to power it has made phenomenal concessions. Hamas leaders such as Ismail Haniya have confirmed that peace and security for Palestinians comes before their own positions in government. Thus, they have obliged the international community in its demand for the formation of a unity government and accepted to have only nine ministers out of a total of 19.

Most recently, Mr Mish’al stated in the Guardian that Hamas is willing to establish a “sovereign and independent Palestinian state on the territories occupied by Israel in June 1967”. This statement from a government whose leaders have sacrificed their personal standing and interests over their nation’s freedom needs to be taken seriously. It is high time the international community called upon Israel for once to prove its commitment to peace by abiding by international law and dozens of UN resolutions dating as far back as 1948.

As a first step and a goodwill gesture, perhaps Israel can begin by demolishing the wall that is being built deep in the 1967-occupied territories, deliberately creating new facts on the ground and pre-empting the creation of any viable Palestinian state outside the green line border. Maybe then the world will start to believe Israel is serious about peace.


Israeli Textbooks and Children’s Literature Promote Racism and Hatred Toward Palestinians and Arabs

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, September 1999, pages 19-20

Special Report


By Maureen Meehan

Israeli school textbooks as well as children’s storybooks, according to recent academic studies and surveys, portray Palestinians and Arabs as “murderers,” “rioters,” “suspicious,” and generally backward and unproductive. Direct delegitimization and negative stereotyping of Palestinians and Arabs are the rule rather than the exception in Israeli schoolbooks.

Professor Daniel Bar-Tal of Tel Aviv University studied 124 elementary, middle- and high school textbooks on grammar and Hebrew literature, history, geography and citizenship. Bar-Tal concluded that Israeli textbooks present the view that Jews are involved in a justified, even humanitarian, war against an Arab enemy that refuses to accept and acknowledge the existence and rights of Jews in Israel.

“The early textbooks tended to describe acts of Arabs as hostile, deviant, cruel, immoral, unfair, with the intention to hurt Jews and to annihilate the State of Israel. Within this frame of reference, Arabs were delegitimized by the use of such labels as ‘robbers,’ ‘bloodthirsty,’ and ‘killers,’” said Professor Bar-Tal, adding that there has been little positive revision in the curriculum over the years.

Bar-Tal pointed out that Israeli textbooks continue to present Jews as industrious, brave and determined to cope with the difficulties of “improving the country in ways they believe the Arabs are incapable of.”

Hebrew-language geography books from the 1950s through 1970s focused on the glory of Israel’s ancient past and how the land was “neglected and destroyed” by the Arabs until the Jews returned from their forced exile and revived it “with the help of the Zionist movement.”

“This attitude served to justify the return of the Jews, implying that they care enough about the country to turn the swamps and deserts into blossoming farmland; this effectively delegitimizes the Arab claim to the same land,” Bar-Tal told the Washington Report. “The message was that the Palestinians were primitive and neglected the country and did not cultivate the land.”

This message, continued Bar-Tal, was further emphasized in textbooks by the use of blatant negative stereotyping which featured Arabs as: “unenlightened, inferior, fatalistic, unproductive and apathetic.” Further, according to the textbooks, the Arabs were “tribal, vengeful, exotic, poor, sick, dirty, noisy, colored” and “they burn, murder, destroy, and are easily inflamed.”

Textbooks currently being used in the Israeli school system, says Bar-Tal, contain less direct denigration of Arabs but continue to stereotype them negatively when referring to them. He pointed out that Hebrew- as well as Arabic-language textbooks used in elementary and junior high schools contain very few references either to Arabs or to Arab-Jewish relations. The coordinator of a Palestinian NGO in Israel said that major historical events hardly get a mention either. Continue reading “Israeli Textbooks and Children’s Literature Promote Racism and Hatred Toward Palestinians and Arabs”


How to shut up your critics with a single word

by Robert Fisk – 21 October 2002

Thank God, I often say, for the Israeli press. For where else will you find the sort of courageous condemnation of Israel’s cruel and brutal treatment of the Palestinians? Where else can we read that Moshe Ya’alon, Ariel Sharon’s new chief of staff, described the “Palestinian threat” as “like a cancer – there are all sorts of solutions to cancerous manifestations. For the time being, I am applying chemotherapy.”

Where else can we read that the Israeli Herut Party chairman, Michael Kleiner, said that “for every victim of ours there must be 1,000 dead Palestinians”. Where else can we read that Eitan Ben Eliahu, the former Israeli Air Force commander, said that “eventually we will have to thin out the number of Palestinians living in the territories”. Where else can we read that the new head of Mossad, General Meir Dagan – a close personal friend of Mr Sharon – believes in “liquidation units”, that other Mossad men regard him as a threat because “if Dagan brings his morality to the Mossad, Israel could become a country in which no normal Jew would want to live”. Continue reading “How to shut up your critics with a single word”


The war for Islam

Osama bin Laden may go down in history not only as the murderous criminal who declared holy war on the United States, but also as a radical figure in what has come to be called the Islamic Reformation–the epic struggle to define the faith of over a billion people

Osama bin Laden (left). At right, Cairo's revered Al-Azhar mosque, the traditional center of Islamic scholarship.
Osama bin Laden (left). At right, Cairo’s revered Al-Azhar mosque, the traditional center of Islamic scholarship. (AFP File Photo at left)

ON JULY 6TH, 2005, in an unprecedented display of intersectarian collaboration, 170 of the world’s leading Muslim clerics and scholars gathered in Amman, Jordan, to issue a joint fatwa, or legal ruling, denouncing all acts of terrorism committed in the name of Islam.

This belated attempt by the traditional clerical institutions to assert some measure of influence and authority over the world’s Muslims was surely one of the most interesting developments in what has become an epic battle to define the faith and practice of over a billion people. Never before in the history of Islam had representatives of every major sect and school of law assembled as a single body, much less come to terms on issues of mutual concern.

Yet what made the Amman declaration so remarkable was not its condemnation of terrorism-since Sept. 11, 2001, similar statements have been issued by countless Muslim organizations throughout the world, despite perceptions to the contrary in the West. Rather, it was the inclusion of an all-encompassing fatwa reminding Muslims that only those who have dedicated a lifetime of study to the traditional Islamic sciences-in other words, the clerics themselves-could issue a fatwa in the first place.

This statement was a deliberate attempt to strip Islamic militants like Osama bin Laden of their self-proclaimed authority to speak for the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims. Continue reading “The war for Islam”


Iraqi Report Could Prove Damaging to Germany

Current Affairs | 17.12.2002

Iraqi Report Could Prove Damaging to Germany


Volatile information - the weighty Iraqi report on its weapons program

Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift:  Volatile information – the weighty Iraqi report on its weapons program


Iraq’s declaration of its weapons programs contains explosive news for Germany, a Berlin paper has reported. The dossier is said to detail covert arms deals between German defense firms and Iraq.

Just as the heated debates within the German government over the role of German troops and equipment in a possible war against Iraq seem to be cooling down, another potential bombshell threatens to reignite the fires.

On Tuesday, the Berlin-based left-wing paper, Tageszeitung reported that aspects of the 12,000-page Iraqi report on Iraq’s weapons programs, submitted to the U.N last week, could prove highly embarrassing for Germany.

The newspaper – believed to be the first to have access to the top-secret dossier – has written that the Iraqi declaration contains the names of 80 German firms, research laboratories and people, who are said to have helped Iraq develop its weapons program.

Germany, Iraq’s number one arms supplier?

The most contentious piece of news for Germany is that the report names it as the number one supplier of weapons supplies to Iraq. German firms are supposed to easily outnumber the firms from other countries who have been exporting to Iraq. Continue reading “Iraqi Report Could Prove Damaging to Germany”


The Haditha Charges: Symbol of a War Gone Bad

The Haditha Charges: Symbol of a War Gone Bad
Four Marines are charged with murdering Iraqi civilians. Even if justice is seen to be done, the result is unlikely to reverse the damage

Posted Friday, Dec. 22, 2006
The interests of the U.S. military in Iraq, right now, demand not only that justice be done over the Haditha killings, but also that it be seen to be done — by Iraqis as well as by Americans. That may help explain the extensive indictment, announced Thursday at Camp Pendelton, California — four Marines charged with murder in the killing of 24 Iraqis, and another four officers charged with dereliction of duty for not relaying accurate information about the killings up the chain of command. The charges send a sharp message of zero tolerance for abuses of civilians to U.S. uniformed personnel in Iraq, but also to Iraqis, whose Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki, had branded the incident emblematic of a contempt for Iraqi civilian life on the part of U.S. forces. Altering that perception will certainly be critical to any prospect of success in the U.S. military’s efforts to reverse Iraq’s negative security trends.

The charges, which include 18 counts of murder against squad leader Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, 26, are the result of two separate military investigations that began after TIME first broke the story of the massacre that occurred on Nov. 19, 2005, when 24 Iraqi civilians were killed by Marines, allegedly in retaliation for a roadside bomb attack that killed one of their men. “As the result of a query by Time Magazine reporter in January 2006, there were several distinct but related investigations into the circumstances of the deaths of the 24 civilians, and into how the chain of command reported and investigated those deaths,” said a military statement briefing reporters on the case.

Wuterich’s lead civilian defense counsel, Neal Puckett, made clear that his client plans to mount a vigorous defense: “He did what he was supposed to do to protect himself,” said Puckett. “Iraq is a very dangerous environment for our Marines. Any action they take can result in death. Everything Staff Sergeant Wuterich did that day was to protect his Marines and keep them from harm.”

That sentiment was echoed by Theresa Sharratt, mother of Lance Cpl. Justin Sharratt, 22, from Carbondale, Pa. “There’s no way that I believe what’s being said about that day,” she told TIME. “He did what he was trained to do. They’re Marines. That’s their job. We’re at war… He just feels let down. He hasn’t told us that; I can see it in his eyes. He did his job and this is what happened.”

In Iraq, the Haditha revelations simply reinforced existing negative perceptions of the U.S. mission, and it’s unlikely that even by throwing the book at the men responsible, the U.S. military will earn the goodwill of the civilian population — particularly the Sunnis, who were the victims in Haditha. What’s more, graphic descriptions of U.S. soldiers allegedly gunning down innocents — 10 of them women and children — in an apparent frenzy of violent frustration at their inability to find an enemy camouflaging himself in the civilian population are unlikely to help raise the morale of a U.S. public grown weary of what their Commander-in-Chief calls the “slow pace of success” in Iraq. Opinion surveys right now routinely find two out of three Americans opposed to the war and pessimistic about its chances of success. The Camp Pendelton Haditha trial is unlikely to persuade them otherwise.

—With reporting by Jill Underwood/Camp Pendelton


Battle lines are drawn as Israeli allies with Arab regimes

Battle lines are drawn as Israeli allies with Arab regimes

Dec 21


Bethlehem – Ma’an It has been revealed to Ma’an News Agency that a secret meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, the political advisor to the Egyptian president, Osama El Baz and the head of Saudi national security, Prince Bandar, was held two months ago, during the Eid feast following Ramadan, in Sharm el Sheikh.

The source, a specialist in Israeli affairs, added that the meeting, which was held in the residence of the Egyptian president, lasted for five hours in which the participants discussed mutual coordination and cooperation between Egypt, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Israel and its allied forces in Lebanon, to jointly face the Tehran-Damascus axis and the coalition of militant groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad.

The Israeli Prime Minister allegedly told the Lebanese Prime Minister that the international presence in southern Lebanon, and the American support given to their friends, “has created a path, along which lies an unprecedented opportunity to get rid of the Iranian and Syrian allies in Lebanon”, the source added.

The source also confirmed that Lebanese Prime Minister Siniora told his Israeli counterpart that his government insists on the spread of law and order throughout the country, and to dismiss and disarm any militia, including the arms of Hezbollah, and to end the presence of any groups or people who are pro-Iran or pro-Syria.

Friends of Al Aqsa is a voluntary organisation concerned with the defence of
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Friends of Al Aqsa is a voluntary organisation concerned with the defence of
Al Aqsa Haram Sharif and the protection of Palestinian Human Rights.
P.O. Box 5127, Leicester. LE2 0WU. England.
Tel 077 11 823 524
Fax ++ 44 [116] 253 7575