Friday, September 30, 2011

Al-Awlaki Dead!

Terrorist Anwar Al-Awlaki has been killed in Yemen.  His convoy in Al-Jawf province was targeted by drones.  So far I haven't found any articles on the Yemen news sites (and I can't connect to Twitter).

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Saudi Arabia Craziness

At first I was excited because the King decided to allow women to vote!  How 21st century of him.  They can even run for office.  And even join the Shura council.  Of course, this doesn't start until 2015, so there's plenty of time to backtrack on it.

So first I'm excited, then disappointed.  Because a woman has been sentenced to 10 lashes with a whip, for breaking the law - the driving law!  I guess if a woman can drive on her own, then it's harder to keep an eye on her.  And we all know that if you don't keep an eye on a woman, she'll get into all sorts of trouble (yes, this is sarcasm). 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Top Stories September 26, 2011

ArabNews (Saudi Arabia): trouble loading page

Lebanon Daily Star:  Abbas rules out talks until settlements stop -  Gee, imagine that.  Abbas wants the Israelis to stop settlers from taking over Palestinian lands before they talk about peace.  It's much harder to kick them out once they're there.

Haaretz (Israel):  UN Security Council to begin informal debate on Palestinian statehood - This starts on Monday.

Turkish Daily News:  Erdogan: PKK talks over, fight to go on - That's what he said.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ground Zero Mosque Opens!

The mosque at "Ground Zero" has finally opened.  Of course, it's not only a mosque - it's a multi-religious center.  Everyone is welcome.  The current photographic exhibit is by a Jewish photographer.  Maybe now that it is open, its detractors will realize that all Muslims are not terrorists.  That the Islamic Center is actually good for the neighborhood.  We'll see.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

UAE Detains Activists

Several political activists in the United Arab Emirates are being detained, after signing a petition for free elections and other changes to the UAE.  The UAE is having national elections on September 24th, and Human Rights Watch and other organizations are asking for the release of the activists before that.

Hikers Freed!

After almost two years in an Iranian prison, the two American hikers have been freed.  They were flown to Oman today, and will then continue their journey home.  Their release comes after paying bail money of $500,000 each, provided by the state of Oman.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Palestinian Statehood

This week Palestinians will ask the United Nations to recognize Palestine as a state.  And everybody is freaking out.  Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is asking Palestinian Authority President Abbas for talks, instead of the UN bid.  But Abbas is determined to go through with the bid.  Some Israeli settlers are already protesting against any Palestinian state.  Israeli President Peres is talking to the leaders of various countries, asking them to oppose the bid, and Netanyahu is on his way to New York.

I'm not sure where I stand on this issue.  On the one hand, declaring a new state could seriously undermine any peace process between the Palestinians and Israelis.  Some Israelis are worried about an "ethnic cleansing" removing Jews from a new Palestine (I guess they've forgotten about the "ethnic cleansing" of Palestinians).

On the other hand, the peace process hasn't really worked so far anyway.  And maybe if there was a Palestinian state, it would be harder for Israel to continue illegally blockading parts of it.  I wonder if that is part of the problem.  Right now, Israel can claim to fight evil Palestinian terrorists who live nearby.  But if Palestine becomes a state, then Israel would be fighting another nation.  In some ways it would legitimize Palestinian attacks on Israel and delegitimize Israel "responses."  It will be interesting to see what happens this week.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Top Stories September 19, 2011

ArabNews (Saudi Arabia):  Blood flows in the streets of Sanaa - Over two dozen people were killed and hundreds wounded when government forces fired on protesters in Sana'a.  And the US news still seems to be ignoring Yemen.

Lebanon Daily Star:  West races to scupper Palestine bid - The Palestinians may ask the UN to recognize Palestine this week.  The US plans to veto it and is supported by several other nations.

Haaretz (Israel):  U.S. to Netanyahu: Don't sanction Palestinians following statehood bid at UN - The US will veto the  Palestinian state bid, but is trying to keep Israel from destabilizing the situation even further.

Turkish Daily News:  Cyprus drilling rig to be blocked - Turkey and Turkish Cyprus are at odds with Greek Cyprus over drilling in the seas around Cyprus.  Let's hope this situation doesn't blow up, as Turkey is sending a warship into the area.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

YemenWatch: Thursday September 15, 2011

The UN is worried about civil war in Yemen, as well as human rights abuses.  They should be worried.

According to the Yemen Post, Saudi Arabia is sending tanks into Yemen to help President Saleh's regime.

More fighting in Sana'a as republican guards shelled the Hassaba district, home to Sheikh Sadeq Al-Ahmer, a leader of the tribal confederation fighting Saleh. 

Military strikes at Arhab, outside Sana'a, killed civilians.

Protesters in Taiz were fired upon, and gassed.

There were explosions in Aden, resulting in at least one death, and another explosion in Dhamar province.

Yemeni forces freed Zinjubar and Ja'ar from AQAP control. (These were two of the cities declared Islamic emirates by AQAP militias.)  Saleh and the army general who defected (Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar) are both claiming the victory and blaming the other for supporting AQAP.

The Yemeni rights group HOOD is calling for an arms embargo against Yemen, especially for Russia to stop supplying weapons.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Islamophobia in Oklahoma

Trust Oklahoma to be near the front of this.  Last year voters in Oklahoma passed a law that would prohibit Oklahoma judges from recognizing international law, and specifically, Islamic law, in their rulings.  A lawsuit was filed against it, and a federal court is currently looking into the matter.

Here are some of the problems.  First of all, Shariah is not taking over the USA!!!  But a lot of people think it is.  Secondly, if Muslims try to make a contract or something according to Islamic law, maybe even their wills, then that could be in jeopardy.

And for Americans who think this couldn't possible affect them?  Well, what if two Jews wanted a contract that followed Jewish law?  Right now it would be legal.  But if Shariah is "banned" then what about Judaic law?  I've even heard radio advertisements for investment houses that follow biblical (Christian) law.  How can you allow some religious law, but not ALL religious law?  I know - maybe we should just go ahead and ban all religious law!  Because I don't want "those kinds of people" taking over my country.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Terrorism Paranoia

Let the paranoia begin!  Two different planes had to be escorted to their cities by military jets.  Apparently there were suspicious people in the bathrooms.  It turns out, some people have stomach problems.  So far, no terrorism.

Edit: More information about the plane escorted to Detroit.  One of the "suspicious" people was a woman with Muslim-colored skin.

Edit2: And even more info about the incident, and a little about the other planes with problems.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Top Stories September 12, 2011

ArabNews (Saudi Arabia):  Morocco, Jordan inch closer to GCC - Morocco and Jordan want to join the GCC, and are in the Kingdom to discuss 5-year economic development plans.

Lebanon Daily Star:  Hamadeh says he believes STL to include more cases in probe - Hamadeh is an MP for the March 14 coalition.  He thinks the Special Tribunal for Lebanon would like to investigate other assassinations, possibly linked to Rafik Hariri's.

Haaretz (Israel):  Iran inaugurates first nuclear power plant, vows full UN access - Russia has been helping Iran.

Turkish Daily News:  Turkey says flotilla raid was 'cause for war' - The Turkish PM says that Turkey has been very patient, considering that the flotilla was attacked in international waters last year.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Great article from Wired:  How to Beat Terrorism: Refuse to Be Terrorized.

Looks like I'm not the only one saying it.  Now if the American people would just realize what's happening.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

So, tomorrow is September 11th . . .

The American media seems to have decided to make this a 9-11 Weekend.  It's a little disturbing.  There are 9-11 programs on television and even a website where you can write down what you will be doing to commemorate the event.  I have to say, I find it a bit bizarre. 

Do you want to know what I will be doing to "commemorate" 9-11?  Absolutely nothing.  While I am sad for the people who died, I refuse to commemorate a terrorist attack.  I will go about my business, as usual, because otherwise, the terrorists have won.  America has gone from an open and free country to a country that fears Muslims and takes away civil liberties with the Patriot Act.  We've gone from a country with admittedly lax air security to a country that makes you take off your shoes and practically get molested to board an airplane.

Maybe I'm different from most Americans because I grew up in the Middle East.  I remember flying during the heyday of plane bombings and hijackings in Europe.  I even remember dates other than 9-11 such as February 26, 1993.  That's the date the World Trade Center was bombed, by foreign terrorists, with backing from Khaled Sheikh Mohammed.  But very few people died, so we don't remember that day.  I remember.  I remember because after that, I kept expecting another foreign terrorist attack.  I was surprised it didn't happen until 2001.
I have a few more dates I'd like to throw out here.  Let's start with the big one, which most Americans under the age of 50 don't remember anymore. "A day that will live in infamy," December 7, 1941.  That's when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the US entered World War II.

Or, how about April 19, 1995.  That was domestic terrorism - the Oklahoma City bombing.  But less than 200 people died and the terrorist was quickly tried and executed, so I guess we can forget about that.

How about something more recent?  August 23, 2005.  That's Hurricane Katrina.  Almost 2,000 people died.  But that was just a natural disaster, not a planned terror attack.

The Middle East Institute blog has a good post that explains some of the reasons behind the 9-11 commemorations.  I guess the major point is that America has seen terrorism as something that happens "over there."  It certainly doesn't happen on our shores.  And if it does, it's one of us who did it.  Not those foreigners.  So 9-11 was a major shock to most Americans.

Anyway, I hope this post doesn't come across as bashing the 9-11 commemorations.  I may disagree with them, but I do agree that the attacks were horrible and I feel sad for those who lost family and friends in them.  But this huge commemorative weekend just strikes me as wrong.  You can go online to see the 9/11 Memorial.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Free Press in Libya

This article is a few weeks old, but encouraging.  As rebels take over Libya, a free press is emerging there.  Let's hope is lasts.  (h/t @jessradio)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

YemenWatch: Thursday September 8, 2011

If you read nothing else in this post, please check out Wal al-Waq's Yemen Update to see what's going.

Interesting article on media coverage of Yemen.  Are the protestors being forgotten as the US focuses on AQAP?  Journalists in Yemen are still being attackedCPJ Report 1, Report 2. RSF Report.

It looks like the GCC-sponsored plan for Yemen may be working.  I guess it's hard to rule a country when AQAP is running around undermining everything and everyone.

The French ambassador in Yemen has left, but supposedly it's only because his time was up.

More fighting in Abyan province, in which a hospital and mosque were hit.  AQAP militants took over a town in Shabwa province.  These militants appear to be calling themselves Ansar al Shariah.

Also fighting and looting in Aden.  Fighting in Taiz.

The Minister of Trade and Industry is denying reports that Yemen is running low on food supplies.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Women's News September 7, 2011

Several articles out of Jordan:

A Jordanian woman was killed by her father after she gave birth in the hospital.  He killed her because she was a widow, and therefore shouldn't have been pregnant.  Yes, honor killings still happen.

A Bangladeshi woman is accusing her boss of rape, at a garment plant in Jordan.  He is claiming that she's lying, and a company director said it's a plot to send jobs to America.

Some female Nobel Laureates are asking the president of South Africa to appoint a different chief justice of the Constitutional Court.  They say his current pick would be bad for women, citing his rulings in rape cases.

It's very disturbing to see how many parts of the world still don't see women as equals.  And I specifically mean that in regards to rape.  Even in the United States, there is a stigma attached to rape, and women who have been raped may feel like they did something wrong. 

If I am robbed and beaten up while walking home, everyone is on my side, and I can talk about it.  But if a women is raped while walking home, she may be too ashamed to mention it.  And if she does, some people will blame her for not taking better precautions or for wearing the wrong clothes.  In some countries she could even face death from an honor killing, because she had sex before marriage - even though it's rape!  At some point, men must realize that their honor is not tied to a woman's sexuality.  Maybe then women will be equal to men.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Top Stories September 5, 2011

ArabNews (Saudi Arabia):  Libya talks for loyalists' surrender collapse - These talks were to end the standoff at Bani Walid.

Lebanon Daily Star:  Hezbollah: Patience running out - Hezbollah is upset with the March 14 parties, who have been running a campaign against the government of Prime Minister Mikati.

Haaretz (Israel):  Palestinian Authority official: some 140 countries expected to vote for Palestinian statehood bid at UN - Palestinian officials have been visiting countries worldwide to get support for a state.

Turkish Daily News:  Turkey sends Israeli diplomats back home - Turkey is downgrading diplomatic ties with Israel.  This is part of the Turkish response to the deaths of 9 Turks on board the ship that was headed to Gaza last year.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

American Islamic Websites

I found a few websites that I like, so here they are:

My Fellow American - This website is devoted to showing how Muslims in America are just as American as anyone else. (Facebook)

Islamophobia Today - This site is a project of Americans Against Islamophobia.  It discusses news and blog stories that have an anti-Muslim bias.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Profiling in America

Profiling in America has become a huge mess.  On the one hand, you have people who think that it should be okay to profile someone because of their race or religion.  For example: subjecting young Muslim men to more scrutiny in regards to terrorism.  On the other hand, you have people who say it's counter-productive and unconstitutional.  I stand in the middle on this subject.  It does violate the US Constitution.  But does it work?

I worked with a former police officer, who told me about staking out the airport to look for people who had outstanding warrants.  They looked for a specific type of person with certain tattoos and manner of dress.  And they picked up a lot of people who had warrants that way.  The problem comes in when you stop looking at tattoos or clothes, which can be chosen, and look at skin color or religion.  If you want to profile a gang member in some areas, it may be a young black man wearing certain colors or types of clothes.  In other areas it may be Hispanic men.  And that is considered racial profiling.  And it's illegal.  If you want to profile a terrorist, it's probably young Muslim men, with brown skin.  And that is also racial/religious profiling.

The Constitution guarantees equality for all men, but sometimes that's not how it really works out.  If you're a young black man in baggy pants, there are people who will automatically think you're in a gang or selling drugs.  Even if you're really just a student.  If you have brown skin and a name like Muhammad, there are people who think you're a terrorist or at the very least trying to impose Sharia law on Americans.

Slate has a very interesting article on the subject of profiling terrorists.  It seems as though the American Muslims most likely to lean towards terrorism are actually black.  So what does this do to the profiling situation?  In 2008 Juan Cole wrote a very good article about how profiling actually doesn't work.  He also mentions several of the supposed terror plots that were not really terror plots, but got hyped up by profiling.

So where does this leave us?  How do we reconcile our belief in civil liberties, with our need for safety and security?  Does it make sense to have actual computerized random searches at the airports, when guards end up searching 5-year-olds, or Amish women, when you're looking for Muslim terrorists?  In my mind, it doesn't.  But I don't like the alternative of just searching Muslims either.  Surely there is some kind of middle ground where we don't violate people's rights just because of their skin color or religion?  Because it's hard enough to be a Muslim in America these days.