THE ISRAEL FILES: WIKILEAKS DOCS SHOW TOP HOLLYWOOD PRODUCERS WORKING WITH ISRAEL TO DEFEND ITS WAR CRIMES

SEPTEMBER 23RD, 2022

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THE ISRAEL FILES IS A NEW MINTPRESS SERIES EXPLORING AND HIGHLIGHTING THE MANY REVELATIONS ABOUT THE ISRAELI OCCUPATION OF PALESTINE THAT WIKILEAKS DOCUMENTS DISCLOSED. IT HOPES TO SHED LIGHT ON MANY OF THE MOST IMPORTANT AND UNDERREPORTED REVELATIONS THE PUBLISHING GROUP EXPOSED. 

By Alan Macleod

As Israel was launching a deadly assault on Gaza, killing thousands of civilians and displacing more than 100,000 people, many of America’s top TV, music and film producers were organizing to protect the apartheid state’s reputation from widespread international condemnation.

Together, the Sony Archive – a cache of emails published by Wikileaks – prove that influential entertainment magnates attempted to whitewash Israeli crimes and present the situation as defending itself from an impending “genocide”, liaised with Israeli military and government officials in order to coordinate their message, attempted to cancel those who spoke out against the injustice, and put financial and social pressure on institutions who hosted artists criticizing the apartheid government’s actions.

AS ISRAEL ATTACKS, HOLLYWOOD PLAYS DEFENSE

“[Israel’s message] Must be repeated ad infinitum until the people get it,” wrote Hollywood lawyer and producer Glenn D. Feig, in an email chain to many of Tinsel Town’s most influential executives. This was in response to the unprovoked 2014 Israeli attack on Gaza, one of the bloodiest chapters in over half a century of occupation.

Named “Operation Protective Edge”, the Israeli military engaged in seven weeks of near-constant bombing of the densely populated coastal strip. According to the United Nations, over 2,000 people were killed – a quarter of them children. 18,000 houses were destroyed, leaving more than 100,000 people homeless.

The Israeli military deliberately targeted civilian infrastructure, knocking out Gaza’s only power plant and shutting down its water treatment plants, leading to economic, social and ecological devastation in an area Human Rights Watch has labeled the world’s largest “open air prison”.

Many in Hollywood expressed deep concern. “We must make sure that never happens again”, insisted producer Ron Rotholz. Rotholz, however, was not referring to the death and destruction Israel imposed on Gaza, but to the fact that many of the entertainment world’s biggest stars, including celebrity power couple, Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem, had condemned Israel’s actions, labeling them tantamount to “genocide.”

“Change must start from the top down. It should be unheard of and unacceptable for any Academy Award-winning actor to call the legitimate armed defense of one’s territory…genocide” he continued, worrying that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement – a worldwide campaign to put economic pressure on Israel in an attempt to push it to meet its obligations under international law – was gaining steam in the world of the arts. Israel’s legitimacy rests upon political and military support from the U.S. Therefore, maintaining support among the American public is crucial to the long term viability of its settler colonial project.

Rotholz then attempted to organize a silent, worldwide pressure campaign on arts venues and organizations, including the Motion Picture Academy in Hollywood and the Sundance and Cannes Film Festivals, to stamp out BDS, writing,

What we can do is urge the leaders of major film, TV and theater organisations, festivals, markets and potentially the heads of media corporations to issue official statements condemning any form of cultural or economic boycotts against Israel.”

Others agreed that they had to develop a “game plan” for opposing BDS.

Of course, when influential producers, festivals and heads of media corporations release statements condemning a certain position or practice, this is, in effect, a threat: stop taking these positions or suffer the professional consequences.

LOACH ON THE BRAIN

The Sony emails also reveal a near obsession with British filmmaker and social activist Ken Loach. The celebrated director’s film, “Jimmy’s Hall” had recently been nominated for the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, and in the wake of Israel’s assault on Gaza, he had publicly called for a cultural and sporting boycott of the apartheid state.

This outraged many in Hollywood. Ryan Kavanaugh, CEO of Relativity Media, a film producing company responsible for financing more than 200 movies, demanded that not only Loach, but the whole Cannes Film Festival be cancelled. “The studios and networks alike must join together and boycott cannes,” he wrote. “If we don’t we are sending a message that another holocaust is fine with Hollywood as long as it is business as usual,” he added, framing the Israeli attack on a near-defenseless civilian population as a Palestinian genocide of Israelis.

Others agreed. Ben Silverman, former co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios and producer of shows such as “The Office”, “The Biggest Loser” and Ugly Betty” said that the industry should “boycott the boycotters”. Rotholz, meanwhile, wrote to the head of the Cannes Film Festival, demanding that he take action against Loach for his comments. “There is no place for [Loach’s intolerant and hateful remarks] in the global world of film and filmmakers”, he insisted.

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Others came up with another way of countering Loach. “How about we all club together and make a documentary about the rise of new anti-Semitism in Europe,” suggested British film producer Cassian Elwes, adding,

I would be willing to contribute and put time into it if others here would do the same. Between all of us I’m sure we could figure out a way to distribute it and get it into places like Cannes so we could have a response to guys like Loach. Perhaps we try to use it to rally support from film communities in Europe to help us distribute it there”.

“I love it,” replied publishing oligarch Jason Binn, “And I will promote it in a major way to all 3.2 million magazine subscribers across all on and offline platforms. I can even leverage Gilt’s 9 million members,” he added, referring to the shopping and lifestyle website he managed.

“Me too,” said Amy Pascal, the Co-Chairperson of Sony Pictures Entertainment. Meanwhile, Mark Canton, producer of movies such as “Get Carter”, “Immortals” and “300” busied himself drumming up more Hollywood support for the idea. “Adding Carmi Zlotnik to this growing list”, he replied, referencing the TV executive.

This whole correspondence was from an email chain of dozens of high-powered entertainment figures entitled “Happy New Year. Too bad Germany is now a no travel zone for Jews,” which ludicrously claimed that the European country had become a Muslim-controlled Islamic theocracy.

“It is horrible. But in the end, it is no surprise, because apologists for Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians will go to any length to prevent the people opposing them,” Mr. Loach said, when asked for comment by MintPress. “We shouldn’t underestimate the hatred of those who cannot tolerate the idea that Palestinians have human rights, that Palestine is a state; and they have their country,” he added.

SHUTTING DOWN FREE EXPRESSION

The pro-Israel group in Hollywood also put serious pressure on American institutions to crack down on support for Palestinian human rights. Silverman revealed that he had written to Peter Gelb, the general manager of the New York Metropolitan Opera, in an effort to shut down a performance of “The Death of Klinghoffer”, an opera that tells the story of the 1985 hijacking of an airliner by the Palestine Liberation Front. “I suggest though that we each call him on Monday at his office at the Met and your point about the Met’s donors’ leverage is important,” he advised the other entertainment oligarchs, thereby shining a light on how the powerful move in secret to silence speech they do not approve of, and how they use their financial clout to coerce and strong-arm others into toeing their line. A lot of pressure was necessary, because, as Silverman explained, “as members of the artistic community it is very hard to be pro free speech only some of the time and not all of the time.”

Ultimately, the performance did go ahead, but not without a large and coordinated protest both inside and outside the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts, as individuals attempted to shut down the performance, claiming it was “antisemitic.”

LIAISING WITH THE IDF

The email conversations of many of Hollywood’s most influential individuals show that they believe they are on the verge of a worldwide extermination of Jews, and that Israel – and themselves – are the only things standing in the way of this impending fate. As Kavanaugh wrote, “It’s our job to keep another Holocaust from happening. Many of you may think that can’t happen, that is extreme…[but] If you pull newspapers from pre Holocaust it seems eerily close to our world today.”

Rotholz was of a similar opinion, writing that,

It is imperative that leading figures in the LA/NY film, tv, media, digital and theater communities who support a strong and potent Jewish state develop a strategy for liasing with colleagues in London and Europe and also with the creative communities here and in Europe to promote and explain the Israeli cause.”

The Sony Archive emails also show that, not only were Tinsel Town’s top brass coordinating strategies to silence critics of Israel, but that they were also closely liaising with the Israeli government and its military.

Producer George Perez, for example, messaged his colleagues in the chain email to introduce them to an IDF colonel, stating (emphasis added),

Everyone please use this “reply all” list from here on.  I have included Kobi Marom a retired commander in the Israeli army. Kobi was kind enough to give my family and I a jeep tour of the Golan Heights during our June trip to Israel.  He also took us to visit an army base on the border of Israel and Syria, an area which has been in the news lately.  Hard to imagine that the “kids” that we met at the base are most likely engaged in combat with our enemies.”

Seeing as the large majority of those who died were Palestinian civilians, it is unclear whether he considers all Palestinians or just Hamas as enemies of Hollywood. Perez also noted that “Kobi works closely with the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces (FIDF) who are in need of donations,” and advised that Hollywood needed to “dig deep to help in the constant struggle for the survival of Israel.”

Hollywood celebrities including famed producer Haim Saban and actress Fran Drescher, pose with IDF soldiers at the FIDF Western Region Gala

The group also attempted to recruit Israeli-American movie star Natalie Portman into their ranks. But the Academy Award-winning actress appeared more concerned that her personal details were being shared. “How did I get on this list? Also Ryan Seacrest?” she replied, before directly addressing Kavanaugh, writing,

[C]an you please remove me from this email list? you should not be copying me publicly so that 20 people i don’t know have my personal info. i will have to change my email address now.  thank you”.

While Portman’s open contempt for the group of rabidly pro-Israel producers is notable, more so was Kavanaugh’s response, which revealed how close the connection between the Israeli state and Hollywood is. Kavanaugh wrote back,

Sorry. You are right Jews being slaughtered for their beliefs and Cannes members calling for the boycott of anything Israel or Jewish is much much less important than your email address being shared with 20 of our peers who are trying to make a difference. my deepest apologies…I had lunch yesterday with Israel consulate general who brought J street up to me. He was so perplexed confused and concerned when he heard you supported them that he begged me to connect you two.”

Thus, the leaked emails prove beyond any doubt that both the Israeli government and the IDF liaise with some of the most powerful people in the entertainment world in order to push forward a pro-Israel message and stamp out any deviance from that line.

HIP HOPPERS FOR APARTHEID

While their efforts at recruiting Portman fell flat, one star who responded enthusiastically was hip hop mega producer Russell Simmons, founder of Def Jam Records and the brother of Joseph “Rev.Run” Simmons, one third of Run DMC. Simmons has recently been the subject of controversy, after 20 women have come forward, charging him with rape or other sexual misconduct.

The emails reveal that promoting engagement with Israel within the African-American community is one of Simmons’ primary interests. When asked if he had any ideas how to improve Israel’s image, he said, “Simple messaging from non Jews specifically from Muslims promoting peace and Israel’s right to exist…We have resources and the desire to win rather than lose the hearts of young Muslims and Jews.”

What these resources were, he explained,

We have hundreds of collaboration programs between Imams Rabbis and their congregations We have many respected imams who would join former chief rabbi metzker (spelling) rabbi Schneier and non Jews in promoting the Saudi peace plan”.

“Through this campaign we will be helping Israel,” he concluded.

TURNING THE TIDE

Despite the best efforts of Simmons and others, however, American public opinion has, in recent years, begun to turn against Israel. Young Americans, in particular, are more likely to sympathize with the plight of the Palestinian people and support an independent Palestinian state.

Much of this has to do with the rise of social media and a new generation of activists breaking through the barriers to highlight injustices being carried out by their government. Today, Americans are more likely to see first-hand, unvarnished accounts of Israeli brutality on social media platforms. As veteran political scientist Noam Chomsky explained to MintPress last year, “The veil of intense propaganda [is] being lifted slowly, [and] crucial U.S. participation in Israeli crimes is also coming more clearly into view. With committed activism, that could have salutary effects.”

Despite the best efforts of Simmons and others, however, American public opinion has, in recent years, begun to turn against Israel. Young Americans, in particular, are more likely to sympathize with the plight of the Palestinian people and support an independent Palestinian state.

Much of this has to do with the rise of social media and a new generation of activists breaking through the barriers to highlight injustices being carried out by their government. Today, Americans are more likely to see first-hand, unvarnished accounts of Israeli brutality on social media platforms. As veteran political scientist Noam Chomsky explained to MintPress last year, “The veil of intense propaganda [is] being lifted slowly, [and] crucial U.S. participation in Israeli crimes is also coming more clearly into view. With committed activism, that could have salutary effects.”

Nevertheless, U.S. government support for Israel continues to rise. Between 2019 and 2028, it is scheduled to send nearly $40 billion in aid, almost all of it military, meaning that American taxpayer funds are contributing to Palestinian oppression and displacement.

Loach was even more upbeat on the issue, telling us that those who stand in the way of justice will be judged poorly by history, stating,

The denial of human rights of the Palestinians is one of the great crimes [of the modern era] and Palestinian rights is one of the great causes of last century and this century. We should all support the Palestinians. If you have any care for human rights, there is no question: the Palestinians have to be supported. And these people who oppose them, in the end, will fade away. Because history will show this was a terrible crime. Palestinians suffered ethnic cleansing of their homeland. We have to support the Palestinians, full stop.”

Those people, however, have no intention of “fading away”, and continue to organize on behalf of the Israeli government. Thanks to the leaked documents, those who care about Palestinian self-determination have a clearer understanding of how they operate.

Emirati newspaper dissolved over article on fuel cost crisis

September 14 2022

Emirati authorities were reportedly outraged after a renowned newspaper published a report detailing the effects the global fuel crisis has had on low-income residents

(Photo credit: Al Roeya)

ByNews Desk- 

Former employees at the Emirati Al Roeya newspaper say dozens of journalists were sacked and their publication dissolved as a result of a news article detailing the economic impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on low-income residents of the UAE.

The economic report, published in early June, was considered “ordinary” by the editors at Al Roeya, according to eight people with direct knowledge of the situation who spoke with AP.

But its publication caused Emirati authorities to accuse the staff of “harming the reputation and entity of the state” by highlighting the repercussions of a global crisis.

Just hours later, almost 60 journalists and editors were informed by managers that they were fired. Other reports say the number may be as high as 90 journalists.

According to AP, only three employees remain working on the Al Roeya website.

“In the meeting, it was mentioned that the institution will be permanently closed due to a report that should not have been published. More than 60 employees will pay the price and lose their jobs and sit at their home looking for a new opportunity elsewhere,” one of the sacked journalists told Lebanese news outlet Raseef22.

What particularly irked officials were the interviews carried out for the report, in which Emirati citizens said they often drove to Oman to fuel their vehicles as the cost was cheaper.

Al-Roeya – Arabic for ‘The Vision’ – is owned by the Abu Dhabi-based International Media Investments (IMI) company, and was considered one of the Emirates’ most established publications.

IMI officials claim the closure is part of the newspaper’s “long-planned transformation” into an Arabic-language business outlet with CNN.

Other publications run by IMI include Sky News Arabia and the English-language newspaper The National. The umbrella company is owned by the deputy prime minister of the UAE, billionaire Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Unlike its Gulf neighbors, the UAE started lifting fuel subsidies in 2015, leading citizens to be shocked at the pump this year in the wake of the global fuel crisis caused by western sanctions on Russia’s energy sector.

Rights Group Warns of Imminent Mass Executions of Political Prisoners in Saudi Arabia

September 9, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

A Europe-based human rights organization expressed concerns over the imminent execution of dozens of political prisoners in Saudi Arabia, as Saudi courts continue to hand heavy punishment to human rights activists for expressing their opinion.

The European Saudi Organization for Human Rights [ESOHR] said in a statement that 34 people are currently on the verge of execution in the oil-rich Gulf country, noting that Saudi authorities have put at least 120 people to death since the beginning of January until the end of May this year.

ESOHR said that Bahraini nationals Jaafar Mohammad Sultan and Sadeq Majeed Thamer, who have been accused of ‘terrorism’-related crimes, face imminent “arbitrary” execution and could be killed at any moment.

“Due to the escalation of repressive measures in Saudi Arabia, the lives of these two Bahraini youths are in danger. Many other political detainees are at the risk of execution as well,” the human rights organization said.

Back in May, Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court upheld the death sentences of Thamer and Sultan after finding them guilty of “smuggling explosives” into the kingdom and involvement in ‘terrorist’ activities.

The two Bahraini nationals were arrested in May 2015 along the King Fahd Causeway, which connects Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

They were held incommunicado for months after their arrest while being subjected to systematic and fatal torture with the aim of extracting false confessions from them.

In January, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions called on Saudi Arabia to halt the men’s execution and investigate their allegations of torture and ill-treatment.

International human rights organizations have called upon Saudi authorities to stop the imminent execution of the two Bahraini men.

The organizations have urged the officials not to ratify the death sentences, but rather, quash their convictions and re-try them in line with international fair trial standards.

According to the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights, Abdullah al-Howaiti, Jalal al-Bad, Yusuf al-Manasif, Sajjad al-Yasin, Hassan Zaki al-Faraj, Mehdi al-Moshen and Abdullah al-Razi are among the Saudi teenagers sentenced to death.

Saudi courts, ESOHR went on, have recently imposed heavy punishment and decades-long prison sentences against human rights activists and democracy advocates for expressing their opinion.

It noted that Saudi officials have sentenced Nourah al-Qahtani to 45 years in prison for her social media posts.

According to Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), Qahtani received the heavy sentence on appeal after she was convicted of “using the internet to tear [Saudi Arabia’s] social fabric” and “violating public order” via social media.

The Washington-based group added that she was convicted under the kingdom’s so-called counter-‘terrorism’ and anti-cybercrime law.

Earlier, Saudi officials had sentenced women’s rights activist Salma al-Shehab to 34 years in prison.

The United Nations Human Rights Council said in a statement that the jail term handed down to Shehab, a mother of two young children and a doctoral student at the United Kingdom’s Leeds University, is the longest sentence ever given to a women’s rights defender in Saudi Arabia.

The statement, nevertheless, came a week before Qahtani’s 45-year imprisonment was revealed.

The UN rights council noted that Saudi authorities have taken advantage of the return to the international fold, following the savage killing of Khashoggi inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, to deepen their crackdown on political opponents.

Last month, ESOHR expressed grave concern over the alarming surge in executions in Saudi Arabia in the first half of the current year, saying the figure is almost twice the number during all of last year.

The new statistics fly in the face of commitments given by Saudi authorities to curb the use of capital punishments.

Last year, 65 people were executed in the kingdom, a slight drop from the previous year that ESOHR attributed partially to coronavirus restrictions.

“If Saudi Arabia continues to execute people at the same rate during the second half of 2022, then it will exceed the record of 186 executions in 2019,” ESOHR said.

Since bin Salman became Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader in 2017, the kingdom has arrested hundreds of activists, bloggers, intellectuals and others for their political activities, showing almost zero tolerance for dissent even in the face of international condemnation of the crackdown.

Muslim scholars have been executed and women’s rights campaigners have been put behind bars and tortured as freedom of expression, association, and belief continue to be denied by the kingdom’s authorities.

Over the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-‘terrorism’ laws to target activism.

Selective humanity; who stood with Yemen?

March 26 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen

By Lea Akil 

The camera frame and social platforms have become the most important political tools in our modern age. How did the international community keep Yemen out of the camera focus?

Selective humanity; who stood with Yemen?

Seven years ago…

At 1 am, the first Saudi airstrike shook Yemen and plunged the country into what has been designated as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Seven years of aggression led to 46,262 casualties, martyrs and wounded.

Seven years later…

The world continues to maintain silence on Yemen, Western powers didn’t halt any arms sales to the bloody coalition, and millions of Yemenis are still at the brink of starvation. Today, the people of Yemen learned the truth in the hardest way: Humanity is selective and the war on Yemen is not a choice.  

After Russia launched its special military operation in Ukraine, which just turned one month old, the international community was quick to launch funding campaigns, Western powers imposed all-out draconian sanctions and banned Russia from all international events, all with the aim of completely isolating the country. Doing so, the international community aimed to halt the military operation.

Read more: US Arms in Saudi’s Pool of Blood: The Yemeni Massacre

Now ask yourself, why didn’t the international community put the same effort into Yemen? Instead of sanctioning Saudi Arabia, the international community heavily armed it. Instead of securing humanitarian corridors and humanitarian aid, the international community preached empty statements in false solidarity with the children of Yemen. 

Despite all the atrocities in Yemen, Western media remained silent on the aggression. Reports indicate that mainstream US media have aired an approximate cumulative of 92 minutes of coverage since the beginning of the war; that is, a war of seven years so far. If this major humanitarian crisis fails to make the news, what do US news outlets deem newsworthy and headline material?

How does media shape the war?

The modern age relies desperately on the media and social platforms to keep up with global events. As a weapon, the camera can be used in favor of or against the oppressed and oppressor. Media bias is inevitable in a world of so many opinions, but the question here is – is humanity a matter of opinion?

The power of the media relies on what content is broadcasted and what is not. 

The extremely limited international attention directed toward Yemen can mean two things; the war on Yemen is not important or the international audience is not be informed of what is happening in the other part of the world. That said, the narrative on Yemen cannot be easily criticized by Americans without implicating themselves. Considering that the United States backs the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, how would it justify its intervention there, noting that Saudi Arabia is responsible for high civilian death tolls and a list of war crimes?

Political US coverage

Structurally, the media carefully broadcast content to avoid touching on the United States’ longstanding relationship with a country like Saudi Arabia, which would expose the US’ bloody intervention. That is why it would rather ignore the Yemen situation altogether.

Did you know that since Saudi Arabia declared war on Yemen in 2015, it was listed as the World’s largest arms importer from 2015 through 2019? According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, its imports of arms increased by 130% compared to the previous five-year period. In numbers, the US exported a total of 73% and the UK a total of 13% of these arms to Saudi Arabia. 

Moreover, US arms sales amounted to $3 billion in five years from 2015 till 2020, also agreeing to sell over $64.1 billion worth of weapons to Riyadh, which is around $10.7 billion annually. 

Read more: Yemen, graveyard of US-Saudi bloody alliance

On the other hand, during Trump’s administration, the collaboration between Fox News and the Republican Party could explain a thread of the network’s negligence to highlight the current administration’s foreign policy failings, however, other opposing networks were equally silent because of Obama’s involvement in the war. 

Media outlets can’t use the US support of Saudi’s atrocities in Yemen because of the consequences that would be bestowed upon the administration.

Yemen 

Seven years of raging war on Yemen exhausted the population’s capacity to cope, and the global attention shifted toward Ukraine following Russia’s military operation. The darkest forms of irony have been heard by officials concerning Ukraine with complete disregard for Yemen. Simply, the core players fuelling the Saudi war on Yemen have taken a stand in solidarity with Ukraine. 

In numbers, so far, there are 17,734 martyrs, including 4,017 children, 2,434 women, and 11,283 men, while the number of the wounded reached 28,528, including 4,586 children, 2,911 women, and 10,032 men. 

In the latest international campaign, #EndTheSiegeOnYemen was trending in solidarity with Yemen. Activists, human rights advocates, and media professionals around the world launched a wide international campaign on social media demanding ending the siege on Yemen which caused the country to plunge into the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.

The campaign was launched under the title “End the Siege on Yemen” to shed light on the forgotten suffering of the Yemeni people as a result of the blockade imposed by the Saudi-led coalition on the country and to mobilize efforts to end it right now.

Many activists interacted with the campaign on Twitter under the hashtag #EndTheSiegeOnYemen. Some highlighted the world’s selective humanity when it came to the hype for Ukraine and negligence for Yemen. 

Media’s “less global” shift

It is as simple as that, the United States and its Western allies have rediscovered the importance of international law when it comes to Ukraine but continue to turn a blind eye to Yemen. 

Russia’s special operation in Ukraine, unlike similar incidents in times past, has taken the social media platforms by storm, with memes, misinformation campaigns, and scams all adding to the growing maelstrom of information, which can confuse and cloud what’s actually happening. 

Meta’s Facebook is censoring all state news, accusing any Russian outlet of spreading misinformation. In return, the social platform is actively working in solidarity with Ukraine. But one can’t help but ask, did platforms like Facebook ever closely monitor misinformation or any information about war-torn states in the world? 

It also announced that it will restrict access to content from Russian state-affiliated media outlets RT and Sputnik in response to requests from EU officials, suppressing all claimed notions of freedom of expression. 

Palestinian Ahed Tamimi is depicted as a Ukrainian girl. 

Moreover, social media platforms chose to selectively censor fake news, keeping misinformation that hail Ukraine on the internet. Ahed Tamimi was a Palestinian girl, depicted as a Ukrainian girl, for global sympathy. 

Double standards in censorship were highlighted when the all-Yemeni Ansar Allah resistance movement in Yemen was censored, but all mercenaries in Ukraine were being promoted. That made the reach on Yemen minimal, while news on Ukraine witnessed overwhelming worldwide traffic. 

Moreover, the internet was widely active in promoting an anti-Russian campaign, which triggered Russophobia, to feed the Western agenda in Eastern Europe. 

Ukraine is a “top priority”, but what about Yemen?

Social platforms have become powerful tools to recruit international “volunteers” to fight in Ukraine in the face of Russia. In a first of its kind, the White House held a special briefing on the Ukraine war with TikTok stars such as 18-year-old Ellie Zeiler, who has more than 10 million followers. The US has adopted a new approach to grab the younger generation and recruit them against Russia. 

Earlier this month, up to 20,000 “international volunteers” have traveled to fight Russia in Ukraine, mostly coming from European countries, according to a Ukrainian top official on Sunday. 

“This number is around 20,000 now. They come from many European countries mostly,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told CNN. “Many people in the world hated Russia and what it was doing in recent years, but no one dared to openly oppose and fight them.”

This comes alongside the 16,000 foreign mercenaries whom Zelensky announced will be fighting in Ukraine. 

The conflict in Ukraine shed major light on social media’s political role as a tool. Its part in broadcasting the conflict highlighted the importance of media in shaping the internet forever. 

It is worth noting that Russia had launched a special military operation for several reasons, such as NATO’s eastward expansion, the Ukrainian shelling of Donbass, and the aggression of Ukrainian forces against the Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic, which has been ongoing since 2014, as well as de-nazifying and demilitarizing Ukraine.

United Nations

The UNSC is expected to prevent war, but it has instead backed the US-Saudi-led military coalition against the country. 

At the end of last year, the UN Special Envoy Hans Grundberg filed an empty and useless report that read “frustration” regarding the war on Yemen. 

However, his statement isn’t the first or last of empty promises to fight for Yemen and against the humanitarian crisis. Nevertheless, Washington’s disguised backing of the coalition remains behind the curtains.

The UNSC remains in favor of the government under “conflict resolution”, but what the UNSC is doing is betray the Yemenis day by day. It is no longer a “conflict” with the government, it is a full-scale war by the Saudi-led coalition against the people of Yemen. 

Yemen in the shadows 

Recently, the UN said the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen risks being forgotten as the world focuses on the war in Ukraine. And according to experts, that conflict is also likely to directly impact Yemen’s already stricken food supply.

Apart from drawing attention away from the war on Yemen, the war in Ukraine threatens to worsen the humanitarian situation in the Arab nation, with 22% of the country’s wheat coming from Ukraine and Russia.

In 2020, the UN Security-General released his annual “list of shame,” which included several violations against children committed in 2018, in which at least 729 children were killed or maimed.

However, the Security-General chose to list the Saudi-led coalition as a party that is improving the situation in Yemen, despite the overwhelming evidence that proves otherwise.  

In addition, Security Council members call for a ceasefire in Yemen and go ahead with providing arms to prolong the war, instead of suspending all arms sales. In other words, the Council has offered nothing but empty statements regarding the war. 

Who is looking behind the curtains? 

Media outlets are dedicated to broadcasting global events and issues around the world. US media coverage is also dedicated to covering global issues, especially ones that help spread its agenda across the map. However, the tragedy of the people of Yemen, in the meantime, is completely shadowed, as the international community continues to turn a blind eye to the ongoing atrocities. 

The lack of mainstream coverage for Yemen raises many questions on where the media’s priorities stand: Is the US hiding the atrocious crimes in Yemen to protect its relations with the Kingdom? Are the billions in arms sales fuelling the US economy more important than thousands of human lives? Keeping Yemen in the shadows will spare the US the need to justify its interference and its intimate relations with the Gulf.

With all eyes focused on Ukraine, who is willing to take one look farther to behold the sufferings the Yemeni people have been undergoing for full seven years? 

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 February 23rd, 2022.

Suspension of Lebanese journalist proof of DW’s ‘free speech’ hypocrisy

February 8, 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

By Aya Youssef

In an interview with Al Mayadeen English, Daoud Ibrahim explains that DW’s allegations of “anti-Semitism” are based on “false and misleading news.”

“The western standard for freedom of expression is tailored to only restrict us,” said Lebanese journalist Daoud Ibrahim to Al Mayadeen English. 

Suspension of Lebanese journalist proof of DW’s ‘free speech’ hypocrisy

Ibrahim, along with other 4 other journalists, were suspended from their job in the German state media  Deutsche Welle (DW) based on false allegations of anti-Semitism.

Pulling the tweets out 

Daoud was contacted by a German journalist who asked him about a tweet he wrote 10 years ago regarding the Holocaust. Back then, the Lebanese journalist wrote, “The Holocaust is a lie. #FreedomOfSpeech.” 

The tweet was written back in 2012, “and I explained that I wrote this tweet after the publication of abusive and satirical cartoons that were mocking certain beliefs and promoting extremism.” 

Daoud explains that at that time, people started to defend such mockery under the pretext of “freedom of expression”.

“What the tweet meant to say was whether an opinion regarding the Holocaust can fall under the same category,” Daoud clarifies. 

The journalist defended his stance regarding the matter and said that he did believe that the holocaust did happen, but “I was resolving a certain issue from a certain perspective,” at a certain time. 

Despite the clarifications, the German journalist fragmented Daoud’s replies and published the report according to his views and beliefs. “He didn’t include all the clarifications,” the Lebanese journalist added. 

Daoud isn’t even a DW employee 

DW Akademie, which offers media training for future or specialized journalistscontacted Daoud who is a contract trainer in that academy after the article was published and requested to do an internal hearing session. 

“During the session, I defended my case, especially since I am a trainer in the field of conflict-sensitive journalism and ethical journalism, so this topic was highly important to clarify.” 

Daoud isn’t contractually obligated to go with DW’s political policy, especially since he is a contract trainer, “I’m not obliged to do anything except for training, I’m not an employee,” Daoud clarifies. 

He stated that he’s the only one who is working with the academy, meaning that everyone who got suspended works with the institution itself or the website, “but I am a trainer, and this was something unexpected for me.” 

The DW decided to form a commission of inquiry that includes former German Minister of Justice Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger and Palestinian psychiatrist Ahmad Mansour. 

Into the hearing session 

The committee requested a video call session, and Daoud did accept on condition that he brings his own lawyer and the session be recorded. 

“The committee rejected my conditions and wanted to communicate through emails,” adding that he accepted. 

They sent in their questions to the Lebanese journalist. 

“Most of these questions were regarding the conditions of my work and my job in the academy,” Daoud said.

And then the mood of the questions started to shift as they ask about “my stance regarding ‘Israel’s’ right to exist.” 

All of Daoud’s responses were based on “the Lebanese law, the decisions of the Arab League, the right of return, and the right to self-determination.” Noting that the contract with DW indicates to “respect the laws of the countries in which we operate.” 

Daoud made sure during the hearing session to clarify that the accusation of anti-Semitism cannot be applied to the Lebanese people because “we are originally Semites.” 

In addition to this, he made it clear that examining a 10-year-old tweet without putting it in its context and the circumstances that were going on back then can be considered as “false and misleading news.” 

Daoud contacted DW Akademie and was informed that they will most likely stop training sessions with him as per the committee’s recommendation.

The Lebanese journalist stated that he had no problem with the people he used to work with; however, he thinks that the main problem is the institution’s new policies, and “surely these policies do not represent me if they are taking this direction.”  

Deutsche Welle does not want to publish Israeli crimes 

DW has long been condemned for its biased reporting on Israeli violations against Palestinians. Media outlets in Germany have adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism, which equates criticism of “Israel” or its behavior to antisemitism.

According to HuMedia, during “Israel’s” deadly aggression on Gaza, DW distributed an internal two-page reporting guide to its journalists, forbidding them to make any connection between “Israel” and colonialism or to use the term apartheid.

Think Tank: Saudi Arabia Facing Unprecedented State of Insecurity

February 4, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

An American think tank dedicated to covering the social, economic, and political diversity of the Arab countries in the Gulf region says Saudi Arabia is facing an unprecedented level of insecurity, stressing that the oil-rich kingdom has been given the cold shoulder by most of the Western parties that supply it with various munitions.

According to the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington [AGSIW], Saudi Arabia is being targeted by Yemeni missiles, and the Yemeni war has spiraled out of control and the country’s national security is now prone to a host of threats compared to the time when the Yemen crisis erupted in March 2015.

It added that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman [MBS] is not taken seriously by most of the Western parties that have guaranteed arms supplies to the kingdom.

Some politicians in Canada, Germany and Britain have all suggested restricting arms exports to Saudi Arabia, AGSIW noted, highlighting that a bipartisan consensus has even begun in the United States against arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

This comes as American news website Insider wrote that lack of loyalty among members of the Allegiance Council, which is the body responsible for determining future succession to the throne of Saudi Arabia, to MBS has raised international concern over the future of the country in the event current monarch King Salman passes away.

The website, in an article published on Wednesday, dealt with how the kingdom would transfer power to its crown prince when his sick father dies, and how this constitutes a concern for the international community, the United States in particular.

Saudi royals, billionaires and senior government officials were tortured and blackmailed in early November 2017, when they were rounded up and detained at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in an extraordinary power play by MbS to remove people who could potentially pose a political threat.

“On the first night, everyone was blindfolded and nearly everyone was subjected to what Egyptian intelligence calls the ‘night of the beating,’” an unnamed source with intimate knowledge of what took place told British daily newspaper the Guardian in November 2020.

The source added, “People were asked if they knew why they were there. No one did. Most were beaten, some of them badly. There were people tied to the walls, in stress positions. It went on for hours, and all of those doing the torturing were Saudis.”

The “night of the beating” was apparently intended to “soften up” the detainees before the interrogators arrived to question them about corruption.

Some of the prisoners spoke of being threatened with the release of private information, such as extramarital affairs, or business dealings that would have caused great controversy.

The purge, also nicknamed the “sheikhdown”, purportedly came at the price of breaking trust between the monarchy and the Saudi business community.

One of the sources said the November 2017 round-up at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh “was about consolidating his [MBS] rule, plain and simple” and came before the cruel murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018.

“The fact that he got away with it allowed him to do the latter. The same guards involved in the Ritz were involved in the killing. History won’t be kind to MBS on either,” the source said.

Ever since bin Salman became Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader in 2017, the kingdom has arrested dozens of activists, bloggers, intellectuals and others perceived as political opponents, showing almost zero tolerance for dissent even in the face of international condemnations of the crackdown.

Muslim Saudi scholars have been executed, women’s rights campaigners have been put behind bars and tortured, and freedom of expression, association and belief continue to be denied.

Emma Watson, J.K. Rowling, and the Connections Between Hollywood and the National Security State, with Alan MacLeod

January 21st, 2022

Source

By Lowkey

The Department of Defense has been involved in the production of over 800 movies and over 1,100 U.S. TV shows.

Both “Harry Potter” star Emma Watson and the book’s author, J.K. Rowling, have been courting controversy: the former for posting a message of solidarity with the Palestinian people on her official Instagram page; the latter after comedian Jon Stewart took her to task for the insensitive and antisemitic portrayal of goblins in her book and movie franchise.

Yet while Rowling was defended by a wide range of pro-Israel groups who rushed to her side, Watson was slandered as a secret anti-Jewish bigot by figures as official as Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations.

Joining Lowkey today on The Watchdog to discuss this blatant double standard is MintPress Senior Staff Writer and Podcast Producer Alan MacLeod. Before joining MintPress News in 2019, Alan was an academic whose work focused on propaganda, media and power. He has published a number of peer-reviewed academic papers on the subject, as well as two books: “Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting,” and “Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent.” His latest article, “J.K. Rowling’s Hypocrisy: The Author who Smeared Jeremy Corbyn Gave Us Books and Films Full of Antisemitic Stereotypes,” can be read on MintPress News.

MacLeod suggested that the furor over Watson’s anodyne message, contrasted with the collective defense of Rowling, can be explained by examining their positions on Israel. While Watson has traditionally supported liberal or progressive causes, Rowling has been something of a champion of the apartheid state. An Israeli marketing firm ranked her as the fourth most important pro-Israel personality online – the highest Gentile on the list. Rowling has consistently opposed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, calling it “divisive and discriminatory.” She was also a leader in the campaign to unseat Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn over his alleged antisemitic remarks. Corbyn is and was a champion of Palestine liberation and had been highly critical of Israeli governmental policies.

In the second part of the show, the two talk about MacLeod’s work exposing the connections between Hollywood and the national security state. Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that the Department of Defense has been involved in the production of over 800 movies and over 1,100 U.S. TV shows. From military movies like “12 Strong” and “Lone Survivor” to blockbusters like “Iron Man” and comedies like “Brüno,” the military plays a leading role in manufacturing pop culture.

If it is to help with the production of a movie or TV show, the military usually demands complete editorial control over the entire process, often rewriting entire scripts and changing scenes to present itself in the best light possible. In return, they offer military bases to shoot on, access to the latest military technology like battleships or fighter jets, soldiers to appear as extras, and help acquiring uniforms and other props. MacLeod went through how the documents show that the four previously mentioned movies were changed in order to send a pro-military, pro-war message.

On par with Saudi Arabia: Manama launches an attack on Lebanon

22 Dec 2021

On par with Saudi Arabia: Manama launches an attack on Lebanon

Source: Al Mayadeen

Sondoss Al Asaad

Manama is accused by International organizations of committing torture against political prisoners. Not only does it revoke citizenship from its citizens, now it continues to chase them in their exile.

During a press conference held in Beirut on Thursday, Dec, 9th, Bahrain’s top opposition bloc, Al-Wefaq, launched its annual report monitoring the alarming human rights situation in the country, entitled ‘The Epidemic of Violations’. The report accused the Bahraini government of arbitrarily arresting thousands, including hundreds of women and children, issuing hundreds of politicized sentences, and torturing hundreds of political detainees.

Meanwhile, Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs submitted a strongly worded protest to the Lebanese government, labeling the Al-Wefaq’s activists as “hostile personnel designated on supporting and sponsoring terrorism lists, with the purpose of broadcasting and promoting abusive and malicious allegations against the Kingdom of Bahrain”.

The statement considered that hosting the press conference is an “unacceptable act, which is a flagrant violation of the principles of respect for the sovereignty of states and non-interference in their internal affairs, in contravention of international charters and the charter of the League of Arab States”.

A court in Bahrain arbitrarily dissolved Al-Wefaq in July 2016, accusing it of helping to foster violence and “terrorism” in the island kingdom. The ruling came amid the escalating crackdown on the peaceful opposition in the aftermath of the 2011 pro-democracy protests. Then, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon deplored the dissolution,  dubbing it “the latest in a series of restrictions of the rights to peaceful assembly, freedom of association, and freedom of expression in Bahrain”.

Bahraini Human rights activist Sayed Youssef Al-Mohafada  tweeted that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ statement was marred by inaccuracies, saying, “No person participated in the human rights conference is, internationally or locally, classified on the terrorism lists,” adding that “holding conferences does not violate international conventions, as the statement claims.” Sayed Al-Mohafada noted that “those who wrote the statement are not familiar with international law, human rights law, humanitarian law, and Lebanon’s domestic laws that guarantee freedom of expression”.

Al-Wefaq’s report states that it has observed 20,068 arbitrary arrests of citizens between the onset of the popular movement in February 2011 and mid-2021 this year, among them 1,716 children and more than 300 women. It adds that 1941 politicized judicial rulings were issued during the past two years, including 198 life imprisonment sentences and 309 cases of citizenship revocation, while the number of violations of detainees has reached 1,320, most notably medical negligence, torture, electric shocks, or enforced disappearance.

Returning to Beirut, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s media office issued a  statement requesting an immediate investigation. The Prime Minister “affirms his refusal that Lebanon be used as a platform to offend and insult the Kingdom of Bahrain”, stressing his “keenness on maintaining the strong historical relations”.

Activists on social media got frustrated with Mikati’s statement saying he has given up Lebanon’s minimum level of sovereignty making it a vassal of the monarchies of oppression, injustice, and dictatorship. It once again highlights one of Bahrain’s most blatant systemic policy of citizen revocation, which coincides with the systematic policy of political naturalization, which has led into serious political, social and economic implications in the country.

Bahraini opponent Ali Al-Fayez tweeted, “The [Bahraini] opposition has held tens or even hundreds of press conferences, seminars, and vigils (including the ongoing strike of Ali Mushaima in front of the [UK] embassy in London), and it has political relations in the eastern and western world. This media intimidation against Lebanon is based only on a cheap failed policy led by Saudi Arabia.”

Bouthayna Ollaik, the Lebanese Radio talk-show host, commented, “Some people in Lebanon want to be leaders of a farm, not of a state, and they invented the saying ‘Lebanon’s strength is in its weakness,’ so that they would not bear the responsibility of protecting and defending it, and to remain subject to the foreign tutelage”.

Since 2011, the Bahraini authorities have revoked the citizenship of at least 700 nationals, 232 in 2018 alone, in a process that lacks adequate legal safeguards. This includes many human rights defenders, political activists, journalists, and religious scholars, etc. leaving many stateless, and some have been deported.

In his book “Stateless”, a book about his citizenship revocation in Bahrain, Dr. Ali Ahmed Al-Dairi, a Bahraini critic, academic, and researcher specializing in speech analysis, states that “the state of revoking your nationality plunges you into an existential ordeal that has no treatment or cure”.

“Bahrain seems intent on earning the dubious honor of leading the region in stripping citizenship,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “While authorities claim that these acts are linked to national security, they are in fact punishing many people merely for peacefully voicing dissent”.

Last May, SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights, an independent Bahraini NGO that endeavors to preserve universal principles of dignity and respect by shielding democracy, launched during a webinar, a  report entitled ‘Arbitrary Revocation of Nationality in Bahrain: a Tool of Oppression.’ According to SALAM, “This arbitrary practice affects not only the victims, but also their families and future generations. Bahrain should reinstate full citizenship to those who were impacted, provide them with an effective remedy and reparation, and dismantle the arbitrary laws which enable citizenship revocations.”

Just today, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on Manama to release its political prisoners ahead of the National Day celebrations. HRW urged the regime “to free everyone imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of association, peaceful assembly, and expression, including rights defenders, opposition activists, and journalists.” HRW said those who remain confined to “degrading prison conditions, are in part because Bahrain’s powerful allies, like the United States and the United Kingdom, do not speak out against Bahrain’s serious human rights violations”. HRW’s Michael Page noted that Bahrain has one of the highest incarceration rates per capita in the Middle East, adding that the authorities arrested and prosecuted 58 online activists between June 2020 and May 2021 alone. 

Beirut, indeed, has always been a safe refuge for a large gathering of Arab opponents, revolutionaries, and nationalists. Of course, a human rights conference like Al-Wefaq’s was and will not be the first nor the last for the Bahraini opposition in an Arab capital, which has once warmly hosted Ghassan Kanafani, Nasser Al-Saeed, George Habash, and others.

Consequently, we ask: Are the Lebanese officials, the servants of the reactionary Gulf regimes, aware that, by their shameful statements, are compromising Lebanon’s sovereignty and making it a subjugated vassal of their tyranny? Have they ever heard that these activists have been forcibly exiled by Manama after they were unjustly and aggressively deported to be placed by terrorist mercenaries? Then, how has the concept of freedom of expression got to have double standards? What about the shameful Syrian opposition conferences, which have been held in Beirut for years, to ward off blasphemy, terrorism, and systematic atrocities against the Syrian people? Shall Beirut turn into a new ward of the notorious Jaw prison, in which Manama commits the most heinous human rights violations as documented by major international human rights organizations?

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

Bahraini Activist: Lebanon’s Deportation of Al-Wefaq Members Is Politically Motivated, Instigated by Saudi Blackmail

December 16, 2021

By Fatima Haydar  

Beirut – Lebanon’s Interior Ministry on Wednesday ordered the Lebanese General Security to deport non-Lebanese members of Bahrain’s opposition party, Al-Wefaq.

The ministry’s order came after a press conference that was held in Beirut on December 11, 2021, in which the Bahraini opposition group presented a documented report on human rights breaches in the kingdom.

Commenting on the incident, Mr. Ali al-Fayyez, a Bahraini political activist told Al-Ahed News, “We believe that the decision, which was issued today [Wednesday] by the Lebanese Minister of Interior, is a political decision and is not based on a legal case – at least this is our basic understanding of the issue”.

Al-Fayyez explained that the conference which was held in Beirut is a “normal situation” and that such activities are held in the West more than in other countries.

He said that the conference was “A peaceful activity guaranteed by international laws and treaties regarding freedom of opinion and expression,” adding that “even the US Department of State, the British Foreign Office and the Human Rights Council” have all issued similar reports to the one presented by Al-Wefaq in the press conference.

The Bahraini activist pointed to the familiarity of the Lebanese capital with holding such conferences saying, “In fact, Beirut, also hosted several press conferences, whether political or human rights”, all the while emphasizing the “timing and the circumstance that Lebanon is going through”.

Moreover, he underscored that “Saudi blackmail with a Bahraini façade – i.e. the ruling authority in Bahrain” – is behind the deportation incident.

“We believe that this step is inconsistent with the history of Lebanon; with what the Arab, the Islamic world or the entire world knows about Lebanon that it embraces different opinions and pluralism, as well as freedom of opinion and expression,” the activist stated.

He further said that the ministry’s decision is “inconsistent with this history and this Lebanese cultural heritage” since “we have known historically that Lebanon embraces opposition groups”.

However, Al-Fayyez noted the Lebanese’s refusal of the decision by citing popular dismay he witnessed on social media.

This being said, the activist commented on the repercussions of such a decision saying, “This political decision is not in anyone’s interest: neither the Lebanese people nor certainly the Bahraini people. It serves only one side: the tyrannical and dictatorship regimes in the Arab and Islamic world”.

He also denounced measures taken by the Al Khalifa regime in an attempt to put an end to the activities of the Bahraini opposition group in London or wherever it is present in the Arab and Islamic world.

“The Bahraini government was unable to send a letter to the British government regarding the activities of the Bahraini opposition,” Al-Fayyez explained.

“We believe that what the regime in Bahraini has done is a cheap blackmail attempt and the export of authoritarian policies, repression, and persecution,” he said.

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Allies of the Devil: Twitter Suspends Al-Ahed News Account for Covering Palestinian Op against ‘Israeli’ Occupiers

Dec 10, 2021

By Al-Ahed News

It was just one day after the heroic operation carried out by a Palestinian teen against an ‘Israeli’ occupier of the land of her ancestors, that Twitter, pushed by the Zionist Mossad, took an unjust measure against one of the resistance media platforms.

In a shameful alliance with the devil, the social media giant is attempting to silence the voices of righteousness that are simply working to cover the truth as it is.

On Wednesday, December 8, 2021, a 15-year old Palestinian girl had the courage to frighten one member of the occupying community whose leaders have been killing her peers ever since they occupied the land of Palestine.

Allies of the Devil: Twitter Suspends Al-Ahed News Account for Covering Palestinian Op against ‘Israeli’ Occupiers

And as far as the freedom of expression is a fundamental human right as stated in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, then:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

However, Twitter chose to side by the criminal and to turn a blind eye at its murders, while labelling those taking the act of resistance to restore their land, safety, and normal life as the faulty ones.

Al-Ahed News website promises its audience and all truth-seekers that it will continue its mission of being the voice of the voiceless, namely the oppressed ones in Palestine, Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and every spot of the world where injustice is practiced.

Kindly follow our new Twitter account: @ahdonaeng

Radwan Mortada: “Joseph Aoun has made a big mistake”

November 29 2021

Why is the Lebanese military command gunning for a lone journalist in the midst of the country’s biggest crisis since the civil war?

By Sharmine Narwani

Radwan Mortada is one of Lebanon’s leading investigative journalists, with almost two decades of experience working with the country’s biggest media outlets.

I met Radwan a decade ago while we were both working at Lebanon’s daily Al Akhbar, he for the Arabic newspaper, me on the English-language website. A veteran security journalist covering military institutions, wars, terrorism, extremism and the layers of intrigue in between, he is one of those rare reporters who can gain access to any information, and call up just about anyone, at any time.

Lebanon has more press freedoms than any country in West Asia, partly because it is politically split in two, with no one party having more power than the others. That rare balance has allowed its media to openly question and criticize all parties and individual political figures, with few of the negative consequences that occur in other states and regions where journalists are roughed up, detained and even killed in ever-rising numbers.

It isn’t often journalists here end up in the slammer for unearthing dirt on the country’s political or business elite, usually because no one person has the power to see it through.

So, when Lebanon’s military court – a body that has absolutely no legal jurisdiction over media activities – sentenced Radwan to imprisonment on 26 November for “the offense of insulting the military establishment,” without providing due notice to the defendant, and in absentia, it created a storm.

The Lebanese Press Editors Syndicate (LPES) immediately expressed its “astonishment” at the decision, and announced that it had assigned its legal advisor to review the case against Mortada with the possibility of filing an appeal.

According to the statement by the LPES, this ruling is a “violation of Article 28 of Legislative Decree No. 77/ 104, as amended by Law No. 330 of 18/1994, which abolished pre-trial detention for publication crimes and the penalty of imprisonment for journalists from most of its rulings.”

Other LPES officials say they will not allow authorities to set a precedent for the imprisonment of journalists who conduct investigative work.

And just today, Reporters sans frontières (Reporters Without Borders or RSF) tweeted:

“RSF condemns the conviction in abstentia of Radwan Mortada by the military court to more than one year in prison for “defaming the army”: an illegal pressure to silence a critical journalist, now forced to move from his home to protect himself and avoid any sentence.

Lebanese media outlets across the political spectrum have covered this story in Radwan’s favor, and the country’s Minister of Information George Kordahi weighed in by saying the ‘Publications Court’ is the only Lebanese body authorized to rule on media affairs, based on the constitution and the laws regulating freedom of opinion and expression.

So why did Lebanon’s military court take action against a leading Lebanese media figure, well outside of its legal jurisdiction? Why now, in the midst of the country’s excruciating economic collapse and with terror and strife within its borders? Was there nothing more important for Lebanon’s military court to address – than this? And who instigated these proceedings?

The Cradle went directly to the source to answer some of these questions. This is what Radwan Mortada had to say:

The Cradle: Lebanon’s military court has sentenced you to one year and one month in prison. Before getting into the details, could you please tell me why a military court is involved in sentencing a journalist? Is this even legal?

Mortada: Military courts have no authority to try journalists for verbal offenses. They cannot prosecute me, and it would be illegal to do so. But the army commander, General Joseph Aoun, uses the military court as a weapon to fights those mentioning him to suppress freedom of opinion and expression. My words about the army command’s responsibility in the Beirut port explosion greatly angered Joseph Aoun, so he decided to make his own law.

First, he decided to ban me from entering the military court without legal justification. When I confronted him by saying that he did not inherit the court from his father to control it as he wishes and break the law, he sent a military force to raid my house and besieged the TV channel where I work to arrest me by force.

The Cradle: We have heard that you were not at the hearing or the sentencing. How is it possible that you were not even allowed to defend yourself? Why was this sentence delivered in absentia?

Mortada: My trial was a sham and a show. The president of the military court, Brigadier General Munir Shehadeh, violated due process because I was not notified of the trial date. This is against the law and exposes the implicit intent to prosecute me in this martial method. Also, the president of the court is an officer under the command of the army commander who filed the complaint against me. How could he be a judge between me and my opponent? The judge is a lower rank than the commander and has to respond to his orders by saying: ‘Yes, my commander.’

There is also a legal precedent issued by the military court itself. Hanin Ghaddar had previously been sentenced in absentia to six months in prison. But the president of the court at the time, Brigadier General Hussein Abdullah, ruled that the military court had no jurisdiction to try journalists after the United States withdrew his entry visa to America.

The Cradle: What are the military court’s charges against you?

Mortada: Offending the Lebanese Army, disparaging the military institution, and harming national security and the prestige of the state.

The Cradle: You believe the ultimate responsibility of the ammonium nitrate stores in Beirut’s Port lies with Lebanon’s military establishment. In essence, the Beirut blast happened under Joseph Aoun’s watch. Why hasn’t he been held accountable by the lead investigative judge, Tarek Bitar?

Mortada: Here is the root of the problem. I was the first to announce the responsibility and negligence of the army that led to the explosion of the Port of Beirut on 4 August 2020. I said that if the army had done its duty as it should have, the explosion would not have happened. This is a fact because the law holds the army exclusively responsible for dealing with ammonium nitrates.

But the judicial investigator, Tarek Bitar, is weak before the army and the current leadership represented by Joseph Aoun, so he did not dare to summon him. The responsibility of the army exists even if there are no traceable documents or if paperwork has been destroyed. If the army says it was not aware of the presence of a time bomb weighing 2,755 tons perched in the heart of Beirut for seven years, that is an even greater catastrophe since its most basic mission is to maintain security in the country.

The Cradle: I’ve known you and worked with you for a decade. We’ve even written articles together. I know your integrity and how you work, and I personally consider you among Lebanon’s most productive and professional journalists. So when you raise questions, I know you’re onto something. Do you trust this investigation of the Beirut Port explosion? Why or why not?

Mortada: In fact, I am personally acquainted with judicial investigator Tariq Bitar, but I am suspicious of the course of the investigation because I sense discrimination in the way this case is managed. The support Bitar has from America and some of the right-wing Lebanese parties only increases my apprehension and concern. You personally know that I have seen the documents that detail the investigation into the explosion in the port of Beirut. So I know there are officials whom the judicial investigator did not approach. The biggest evidence is his decision to exclude the current army leadership from the investigation, even though Joseph Aoun has been at the head of the army since 2017 and he bears the responsibility for this neglect.

I wish Judge Bitar had dealt with this case in another way, given the sensitivity of matters in our country. He should have summoned everyone, then decided who was responsible and charged him, but the direction of the investigation created a kind of suspicion. Therefore, I declared that I did not trust the existing investigation. But in order not to prejudge its results, I am patiently awaiting the issuance of the indictment decision by Judge Bitar to announce my final position on the investigation.

The Cradle: You wrote a very courageous piece for The Cradle that identified seven Lebanese judges that must be held accountable for unloading, storing, then ignoring the ammonium nitrate stores in Beirut’s Port. Why are these judges not being held accountable either?

Mortada: This judiciary branch bears this responsibility because it serves as a protective umbrella for the judges. Judge Bitar filed complaints against a number of judges. Although the complaints came late, the delay of the Cassation prosecution in ruling against them makes it bear a great responsibility.

The Cradle: You also covered the mass shootings and killings in Tayouneh on 14 October, and were the first to point out that the Army’s statements before and after Aoun’s meeting with the US Ambassador Dorothy Shea were different. Explain that to us.

Mortada: I wrote that the negligence of the Lebanese Army caused the Tayouneh massacre, which claimed the lives of seven innocent citizens, some of whom were shot by the army. It almost erupted into a civil war, given that this took place on a contact line between areas where a Shia majority and a Christian majority live. I spoke about the army’s responsibility and its neglect in separating the demonstrators, its wrong way of dealing with the demonstration, and the shooting that erupted after the demonstration.

I also published secret investigations conducted by the army, which showed that there was an ambush prepared the night before the demonstration, which was heading to the Palace of Justice to protest the performance of the judicial investigator Bitar in the explosion of the port of Beirut. The publication of these investigations angered the army, as they were leaked from the military court.

The Cradle: Who does Joseph Aoun think he is to do this, and why is he so focused on you, one of Lebanon’s leading journalists and a veteran security correspondent with the country’s top media outlets who has broken countless stories over the years?

Mortada: I was among the very few journalists to dare to call it by its name. I was the first to talk about the army’s main responsibility for the Beirut port explosion. Many others are afraid to face them or they are on their payroll. But I’m not one of them. Nobody can buy me and nobody can intimidate me. I carried my blood in my hands and went to the front lines and covered the lives of the most radical jihadist fighters. I was arrested in Syria. I was not afraid and I will not fear anyone. In my search for the truth, there are no red lines. I only want the truth. I know that this issue frightens many. Joseph Aoun is one of them.

The Cradle: Do you think Joseph Aoun has picked the wrong battle? Lebanon’s media associations have all, without exception, come in on your side.

Mortada: Definitely. Joseph Aoun has made a big mistake by deciding to go ahead with this fight. The battle with the press to suppress freedom of opinion and expression is a losing battle. The time of the police state is long gone. We are today in the twenty-first century. If he does not know it, he must change his advisors who are leading him to the abyss.

The Cradle: We all know that Joseph Aoun has aspirations to become president of the republic. He has increasingly associated himself and the LAF with the Americans, when Lebanon is clearly divided into two different political camps. Why would someone who is changing the highly-respected neutrality of the Lebanese army be fit for this position?

Mortada: I don’t think that General Joseph Aoun’s mentality qualifies him to be president of Lebanon. An officer leading an army cannot ask a military force to raid a media outlet to arrest a journalist, while he himself is thinking of becoming the president of Lebanon. Lebanon deserves better in light of the suffering of its people. Short-sightedness, narrow-mindedness, and personalization are not characteristics of a successful leader.

You know that the World Bank announced that Lebanon is going through one of the three worst economic crises in 150 years. You know the extent of the economic collapse, hunger, and unemployment that the Lebanese suffer from. I myself feel ashamed because my case came out in public at this time with all the tragedies we are experiencing. Imagine that the army chief and the president of the military court have nothing more important on their plate than going after a journalist they want to discipline, while forgetting about all the crises our country is going through.

The Cradle: What are you going to do now to fight these charges and stay out of prison?

Mortada: I will fight to the end. There is a team of lawyers that is objecting to the military court’s ruling. I will not accept any settlement and will follow up on every detail and highlight every violation. Dozens of foreign and Lebanese journalists and human rights defenders have contacted me and denounced the unjust ruling issued against me for simply expressing my opinion.

The Cradle: Radwan, I’ve learned a lot from you over the years and continue to do so. Thank you for your frankness and your courage in reporting the things we all want to know. What will you do when your name is cleared? Will you change your voice?

Mortada: Thank you, Sharmine. I assure you, this case will make me raise my voice higher and higher. I will open my eyes more to their violations and the approach they represent. I am a well-known journalist in Lebanon, and yet they attacked me. What do you think they will do to the rest of the citizens and the extent of the injustice they inflict on those who have no voice?

This ruling alerted me that I was inattentive in some areas related to the leadership of the army and the presidency of the military court. Today, I will work hard to count their every breath to shed light on any offense they commit.

تعلموا الديموقراطية في السعودية؟

27.10.2021

تعلموا الديموقراطية في السعودية؟ 

ابراهيم الامين – صحيفة الاخبار

الديموقراطية، وفق القاعدة التي تديرها السعودية، تقول إن ما يرضي قياداتها هو رأي حر يجب احترامه، وما يعاكسها أو يخالفها هو اعتداء على سيادتها. وليست هذه حال السعودية فقط، بل حال كل مجانين إمارات القهر والموت، من السعودية إلى الكويت والبحرين وقطر والإمارات العربية المتحدة. لكن المأساة أن صبيان هذه الدول، عندنا، يتبنّون هذه القاعدة في محاكمتهم كل من يخالفهم الرأي. ويُظهرون حساسية منقطعة النظير لإدانة كل من ينتقد هذه الدول المحكومة بقوانين القرون الوسطى، ولا يصدر منها – ولم يصدر يوماً – سوى الموت والقهر.

قامت الدنيا ولم تقعد لكون وزير الإعلام جورج قرداحي عبّر، قبل توليه منصبه الحكومي، عن رأيه الشخصي في مسائل خلافية قائمة في العالم العربي، وقال ما يؤمن به كثيرون في هذا العالم: إنه ضد الحرب الكونية التي هدفت إلى تدمير سوريا، وضد الحرب العدوانية على اليمن، وإنه مع المقاومة.
يا لطيف!
ما الذي يجب أن يحصل؟
أحزاب وقوى وشخصيات وسياسيون ومثقفون وإعلاميون انتفضوا لكرامة حكومات الموت في ممالك الصمت طالبين رأس الرجل، فقط لأنه ممنوع انتقاد أحد مثل الدبّ الداشر محمد بن سلمان الذي قطّع الصحافي جمال الخاشقجي، والذي وصفه سعد الجبري، في محطة أميركية، بأنه ولد مجبول بالحقد، ومهووس بقتل منافسيه وخصومه، وأنه خطط يوماً لقتل الملك عبدالله بخاتم مسموم، وأنه، كما حكام الإمارات، لا يترددون في مطاردة خصومهم من أبناء بلدهم في أي مكان في العالم لقتلهم، أو خطفهم في أحسن الأحوال.
كل الإعلام اللبناني، ما عدا «الأخبار»، لم يجرؤ على انتقاد هؤلاء القتلة الذين يفتكون بشعب اليمن كما فعلوا في سوريا. هلا تراجعون كم أنفقت قطر على الإرهابيين الذين دمروا سوريا، وكيف تنافس حكام قطر والإمارات على سرقة آثار العراق وسوريا بعد تدميرهما والعبث بأمن شعبيهما. وهلا يشرح لنا هؤلاء ما الذي كانت قوات هذه الدول تفعله في اليمن منذ نحو عقد، مع ست سنوات من القتل اليومي.
إنه «الغضب الإلهي» على رجل قرّر أن يعلن رأيه، من دون الدعوة إلى إطاحة هؤلاء القتلة أو المطالبة بمحاسبتهم. ومع ذلك، يريد مسؤولون عندنا، إلى جانب جيش المرتزقة من إعلاميي تركي آل الشيخ وطحنون بن زايد وتميم بن حمد وأزلام حكام الكويت، إعدام جورج قرداحي لأنه انتقدهم… وكل من يقود هذه الحملة يذكّرنا بأن هذه الدول إنما تستضيف مئات الآلاف من اللبنانيين الذين من دونهم لا نأكل ولا نشرب.
ما من داع لكثير من النقاش مع هؤلاء. بل يجب تذكيرهم، وتذكير حكام إمارات وممالك القتل والقهر وأزلامهم هنا، بأن الصمت هو أفضل ما يقومون به. أما جورج قرداحي فهو حر في ما يقول. وفي ما يؤمن به. هو حر. ونقطة على السطر.

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PA Arrests Civil Rights Advocates in Ramallah

August 24, 2021

Palestinians rally to protest Nizar Banat’s assassination. (Photo: Mohammed Asad, via MEMO)

The Palestinian Authority’s security forces have been arresting civil rights activists in Ramallah for the third consecutive day, Lawyers for Justice announced yesterday.

“Among those arrested were the freed prisoner, Muhammed Allan, Ibrahim Abu Al-Ezz, and Loay Al-Ashqar,” the rights organization said in a statement, adding that the arrests are creating a state of “chaos and absence of law.”

On Sunday, the PA’s security forces were reported to have prevented the organization from holding a demonstration at the Al-Manara roundabout located in central Ramallah. They also reinforced their presence around the Al-Manara Square. and arrested all those attempting to start a protest.

Civil rights groups in the occupied West Bank have been holding regular protests in demanding the killers of activist Nizar Banat be brought to justice and for elections to be held in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Banat was a candidate for the Palestinian Legislative Council election which should have been held this year. The election was canceled by PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Banat was killed by PA security forces in late June.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Palestinian women journalists speak out against ‘deliberate’ attacks by PA forces

Palestinian Authority forces have violently assaulted women reporting on protests in Ramallah

A recent protest in Ramallah, where Palestinian Authority forces have been targeting women journalists including Najlaa Zaitoun, photographed here (Supplied)

By Aziza Nofal in RamallahPublished date: 2 July 2021 14:49 UTC | Last update: 2 days 1 hour ago

For several days now, Palestinian journalist Najlaa Zaitoun has been trying to convince her children, 11-year-old Haytham and 8-year-old Zein, to leave the house. 

‘A person wearing plain clothes threatened me, to my face, that he would rape me, and then defame my reputation’

– Najlaa Zaitoun, journalist

“I’m afraid the person who beat you will come and beat me,” Zein said to her, as she urged them to keep up their training at the sports club they usually go to every day. 

On 26 June, the 35-year-old was assaulted by plainclothes security forces while she was covering protests called following the death of popular Palestinian activist Nizar Banat while in Palestinian Security Forces custody two days earlier. 

The security forces chased Zaitoun, seized her phone, which she was using to film the protest, and violently attacked her with a truncheon. She was also threatened with rape.

“A person wearing plain clothes threatened me, to my face, that he would rape me, and then defame my reputation,” she tells Middle East Eye.

Palestinian female journalists attacked by PA forces
Bruises Najlaa Zaitoun sustained while covering the protests can be seen on her arm (Supplied)

Zaitoun has been living in a state of fear ever since and the violent beating she received has left visible marks on her body.

“I don’t feel safe, not even in my own home,” she says. Since the attack, Zaitoun has been staying at her parents’ house. 

Meanwhile, the assault on the journalist has moved online, with a smear campaign targeting her on social media accounts affiliated with the Palestinian Authority (PA) and accusing her of being the “one who attacked the security forces.” 

Targeted attacks

The attack on Zaitoun is one of several instances of violence against women journalists in the course of their work covering the protests. The incidents indicate that Palestinian security forces are specifically targeting women journalists, as reflected in the escalating levels of hostility and violence towars them compared to their male counterparts.

Attacks on women journalists have included physical violence, as was the case with Zaitoun and four others; confiscation of electronic devices used to cover the events; intimidation and harassment; chasing journalists in the street; arrest attempts and a ban on reporting. 

The assaults have continued even after the protests were over, with many female journalists receiving veiled threats that they will be discredited and defamed.

Saja al-Alamy is one of those attacked while reporting on the protests. On 24 June, Alamy was subjected to several attempts by security forces to prevent her from doing her job, and had to show her Palestinian Journalists Syndicate membership card each time. 

Palestinian female journalists attacked by PA forces
‘My press armour helped the perpetrators to identify me as a journalist, and attack me’, Saja Alamy says (Supplied)

Two days later, expecting journalist to go on being obstructed, Alamy wore her bulletproof press body armour and affixed her press card on the back of her phone, which she was using to film the events. 

None of this stopped her from being attacked. Instead, she believes the measures did her more harm than good.

“My press armour helped the perpetrators to identify me as a journalist, and attack me,” she says, adding that she was only able to escape the scene after she had taken off her press vest and concealed her identity as a journalist.

“There was a direct attack on us. One of the security officers in plainclothes was pointing at my female journalist colleague and me, asking his partner to take a photo of us so that he can identify us later,” she says.

Security forces had first attacked a group of journalists, including Alamy, with tear gas, but upon noticing her filming an attack on protesters, she was directly targeted. Alamy resisted the officers’ violent attempt to confiscate her phone, and refused to hand it over. She then managed to flee the scene to a nearby building and hide in a women’s toilet.

Alamy tried for more than an hour to reach her colleagues for help, but all entrances were being watched by security officers, including those who had chased her. She was eventually able to escape, after shedding her press armour, and pretended to be out shopping.

Life threatening

MEE reporter Shatha Hammad was also among the women journalists who were targeted in the attacks of 26 June.

She sustained a shrapnel wound to her face from a tear gas canister that a security officer shot directly at her after failing to confiscate her phone. 

Hammad says that security officers in plainclothes had focused their attention on women reporters, singling them out by pointing at them, even before the clashes erupted, which, she believes, suggests that the assault was planned and deliberate.

According to Hammad, the unprecedented violence against women journalists made her feel insecure and trapped.

“What happened is life threatening,” she says, demanding immediate action from local and international organisations to provide the necessary protection for them.

Palestinian female journalists attacked by PA forces
Shatha Hammad sustained wounds to face after being directly targeted with a tear gas cannister 

The detailed testimonies of women journalists were shocking to many, especially the Palestinian Authority’s use of cultural norms to shame and intimidate women, exercising social pressure against them as an attempt to silence and prevent them from performing their work. 

According to Ghazi Bani Odeh, head of the monitoring and documentation unit at the Palestinian Centre for Development and Media Freedoms (Mada), these exponential attacks against women journalists are unprecedented and planned. 

“The assaults on female journalists have two levels. The first is the direct physical violence in the streets; then comes the online attacks designed to incite people to exert social pressure on them,” Bani Odeh tells MEE, in reference to the smear campaigns that use hate speech that could fuel violence against them. 

Smear campaigns

One of the journalists targeted by a defamation campaign was Fayhaa Khanfar, who was beaten up in the street on 26 June, with her phone stolen from her as she covered the protest.

‘When I regained consciousness, I went to security officers crying and asking for help. But no one moved a muscle’

– Fayhaa Khanfar, journalist

Security officers in plain clothes had chased Khanfar to confiscate her device and knocked her to the ground, causing her to briefly lose consciousness. 

No one had intervened to help her. The attack resulted in a hairline fracture to her shoulder and bruises all over her body.

“I was attacked by security officers wearing plain clothes. They pushed me to the ground and stole my phone,” Khanfar tells MEE.

“When I regained consciousness, I went to security officers crying and asking for help. But no one moved a muscle.”

Orchestrated online attacks targeted Khanfar, who wears the hijab, aimed to discredit her in a conservative society by circulating images of a girl in beachwear, who looks very similar to Khanfar, and falsely identifying her as the journalist.

Khanfar was later summoned for interrogation at the intelligence headquarters in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, and told that she had to appear if she wanted to collect her phone, a move she considered an attempt to lure her in and arrest her.

Wafa Abdulrahman, the director of Filistiniat, a civil society organisation, sees the attacks on journalists as a chilling attempt to silence the women who have been spearheading the protests. 

Palestinian female journalists attacked by PA forces
Fayhaa Khanfar suffered a hairline fracture to her shoulder and bruises all over her body (Supplied)

Abdulrahman says that the systematic targeting of women journalists is intended to first send them a threatening message, and second, to warn the society that women reporters will not be spared and that the power of the security forces is unbreakable. 

As attacks on women journalists continue through online defamation campaigns and veiled threats, they find themselves living in constant danger and feeling personally insecure. 

According to Majid Arori, a media freedom activist and a human rights specialist, there has to be individual and collective legal actions to deter such attacks in the future. 

“The attacked women journalists must file legal complaints, providing the necessary documentation via local and international legal organisations to exert pressure on those who perpetrated the assaults,” he says, adding that these attacks are attempts to suppress critical voices and any protests against corruption. 

The Democracy vs. Freedom Dispute

About me

July 1, 2021 

by Lawrence Davidson

Part I—Democracy and Freedom

In the United States, there is a dispute over whether democracy and freedom are compatible. Some, such as Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, have questioned their compatibility, and even asserted that freedom, rather than democracy, is what the U.S. really stands for. These terms are often used out of context and the dispute often suffers from a lack of historical knowledge, but there is nothing surprising about that. 

Most of the men who put together the U.S. Constitution saw the world in class, racial and gender terms. While they wanted a more democratic government than that in England which, for propaganda purposes, they had portrayed as a tyranny, the new American democracy had to be carefully structured. Here is how this translated from theory into practice: the common man’s passions should be held in check by a system that kept the power to make policy in the hands of those white males who had “a material stake in society”—that is, the propertied class. For large segments of the population democracy was to be denied due to both gender and color. 

Only a relative few of these men were thinking about freedom per se. And those who did, certainly did not define it in open-ended libertarian terms. Indeed, in late 18th century America, freedom came in two flavors: (1) first and foremost, the freedom from “unreasonable” taxation. What is unreasonable in this sense, would be argued about incessantly right up into the present. (2) Protection against the abuse of government power. The notion of abuse was directly connected to a) examples of alleged British excesses leading up to the American Revolution and b) Federalist party practices (when in power) like the suppression of critical newspapers and pamphlets. It is to cover a host of these sorts of issues, collectively posited as the protection of individual rights or freedoms, that Jefferson and Madison insisted a bill of rights be added to the Constitution as its first set of amendments. Once this was accomplished (December 1791) America’s democracy and a constitutional list of protected rights/freedoms, became compatible. 

Part II—Getting Things Wrong 

Now we fast forward to the present and Republican Senator Rand Paul, who was recently quoted in the New York Times as follows: “The idea of democracy and majority rule really is what goes against our history and what the country stands for [which is freedom]. The Jim Crow laws came out of democracy. That’s what you get when a majority ignores the rights of others.” He goes on to connect Republican Party opposition to a bipartisan congressional investigation of the January 6 “protest” (it was really an attempted insurrection) with the right of the political minority to protect itself against the majority. All of this is ahistorical and illogical. 

When taking up Paul’s position there are several points to consider:

First: Historical accuracy. Paul seems confused about the status of majority and minority when it comes to freed slaves in the American South at the time Congress abandoned Reconstruction (March 1877). At this time, the Black population in large parts of the rural South constituted the numerical majority. So, the Jim Crow laws that quickly followed were the products of a local political/racial minority (southern Whites) seeking to suppress the newly won rights of their local majorities (southern Blacks). Thus, Paul has his facts backwards. He might have made this mistake because he thinks that the American Black population has been a minority at all times and in all places throughout the country’s history. Yet here we have an important exception—an exception that challenges the senator’s argument that discriminatory behavior principally has its source with oppressive majorities.

Today, if Senator Paul is looking for a minority in need of protection, he should focus on contemporary southern Blacks (who are now indeed a minority both in size and power.) They are now faced with a white Republican Party in control of state legislatures seeking to suppress the voting access of minorities.

Second. Paul seems not to take into consideration that the American majority has grown and diversified. In other words, when it comes to what the government (local, state and federal) cannot do to you (like suppress your voting rights)—the you have steadily grown larger. Theoretically this should bode ill for the rightwing state legislatures mentioned above. It is unclear how Senator Paul personally feels about this (such narrowing of the election laws has not taken place in his home state of Kentucky), but he is an active member of the Republican Party, and that is party playing fast and loose with the voting laws in a host of southern and mid-western states. Why is the Republican Party doing this? Because a growing and diversifying majority creates a growing number of voters and most come from Black and other non-white segments of the population. Exercising their participatory political rights, they tend to vote Democrat. 

Third. The constitutionally protected rights or freedoms are not open-ended. Yet Paul seems to suggest that they are when he asserts that to protect the Republican minority in the Senate, the party can block a bipartisan investigation of the January 6 insurrection. On the one hand, it is quite true that the bill of rights was designed as, and remains, a necessary defense of individual rights from majority demands for political or cultural uniformity. On the other, one can ask, what is Paul and the Republicans trying to protect their party from? The bill of rights does not, and never was supposed to stifle investigation of criminal acts. The only thing the bill of rights does in this regard is to guard the individual against illegal evidence gathering procedures and other abusive practices on the part of law enforcement.

Part III—Misusing the Bill of Rights

Against this background, how are we to understand Paul’s specific application of minority rights? At the very least, we can understand it as a misinterpretation of the purpose and intent of the bill of rights and the protections it offers individual citizens. In other words, he is defending his party’s refusal to allow a bipartisan investigation of an apparent crime—a crime with potentially embarrassing trail of evidence.

The Republican Party and its conspiracy-spinning allies in the press and social media (whose speech is nonetheless protected) essentially created an alternate reality for millions of Americans that led some of them to insurrection. Despite many evidence-based demonstrations to the contrary, millions have bought into the myth that former President Donald Trump was cheated—and thus they, his supporters, were also cheated—out of victory in the 2020 presidential election. While both the Republicans and their supporters may believe the unbelievable—aver the demonstrably false—they have no right under the Constitution and its bill of rights to express such a delusion by going on a rampage, destroying public property, and attacking public officials. They have no protected right—no “freedom” to do this even if they claim, probably truthfully, that they believed the president told them to do it. 

Taking the next step, what is the real-world consequence of Paul’s defense? Well, given the likelihood that the investigation would connect elements of the Republican Party to the actions of the insurrectionists, this must be seen as self-serving obstruction of justice—itself a crime. For Paul, this is the “freedom” that—conveniently—supersedes democracy. 

Finally, the whole affair is a scary example of a paradox: The protection of speech, that is the right to free speech, can  degenerate into a campaign of lies and this can easily lead people to unprotected, that is criminal, actions. This is, admittedly, a downside of the bill of rights. An individual (and keep in mind that under U.S. law corporations are seen as individuals) has a protected right to lie to the public—to wit: broadcasted fantasies ranging from those of the National Inquirer to Fox TV and, lest we forget, Donald Trump.

Part IV—Conclusion

It is worth repeating that one of the positive things about the political evolution of the United States is that it has expanded the ranks of the participatory majority. In political terms, citizens of all genders and races now have both participatory rights and protected individual rights. Correspondingly, the minority—referring here specifically to those who object to this historical expansion—is slowly shrinking. While the latter’s rights to, say free speech, will remain protected, their ability to retain political and cultural power may well diminish over time. There is no doubt that the Republican leadership has a sense of this possibility, and this accounts for their increasingly fierce and frenzied attempts to turn back the clock. 

The shift of emphasis from an expanding democracy with protected individual rights/freedoms, to a dangerously ad hoc and sometimes illogical version of freedom, is part of that frenzied activity. Senator Paul and his friends, very short on historical facts and judgment, want all of us to believe in the absurd. That is, obstruction of justice in the name of minority rights is “what the country stands for.”

Canada’s government is seeking to silence Canadian journalists at home and abroad with a draconian censorship bill

moi

 

Eva Bartlett

RT.com

As a Canadian journalist, I could be subject to a censorship bill which, if passed in Senate, means the government in Canada can effectively shadow-ban and censor my voice into oblivion, along with other dissenting voices.

After seeing his tweet on the issue of Bill C-10, recently passed in the House of Commons, I spoke with Canadian journalist Dan Dicks about this. He explained that the bill is being presented as being about Canada bringing Big Tech companies under the regulation of the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission), to have them display more Canadian content.

“But what people are missing,” he cautioned, “is that there were clauses put into this bill, protections for certain publishers and content creators that would protect people like myself and yourself.”

Those clauses, he said, were recently removed from the bill, leading many content-creating Canadians aware of the bill to worry they will be treated the same as a broadcaster or a programmer, subject to the regulations of the CRTC.

The bottom line is that, beyond the mumbo jumbo of the government, this is the latest attack on freedom of expression, and on dissent. 

“It really appears that it’s a backdoor to be able to control the free flow of information online, and to begin to silence voices that go against the status quo,” Dicks said, warning that fines for violators could follow.

“It’s not looking good for individual content creators. Anybody who has any kind of a voice or a significant audience, where they have the ability to affect the minds of the masses, to reach millions of people, they are going to be the ones who are on the chopping block moving forward.”

Names like James Corbett come to mind. Although based in Japan, as a Canadian he would be subject to the bill. And with his very harsh criticisms of many issues pertaining to the Canadian government, he is a thorn they would surely be happy to remove under the pretext of this bill.

Or Dicks, who likewise creates videos often critiquing Canadian government actions.

Or researcher Cory Morningstar, authors Maximilian Forte, Mark Taliano, Yves Engler, or outspoken physicist Denis Rancourt, to name a handful of dissenting voices. Agree or not with their opinions, they have the right to voice them.

Or myself. I’ve been very critical of Canada’s Covid policies and hypocrisy, as well as Canada’s whitewashing of terrorism in Syria, support to neo-Nazis in Ukraine, and unwavering support for Israel which is systematically murdering, starving, and imprisoning Palestinian civilians–including children.

An article on the Law & Liberty website, which describes itself as focussing on “the classical liberal tradition of law and how it shapes a society of free and responsible persons,” notes the bill enables “ample discretion to filter out content made by Canadians that doesn’t carry a desirable ideological posture and [to] prioritize content that does.”

The article emphasizes that the bill violates Canadians’ right to free expression, as well as “the right to express oneself through artistic and political creations, and the right to not be unfairly suppressed by a nebulous government algorithm.”

It noted that Canadians with large followings, like Jordan Peterson, Gad Saad and Steven Crowder, “each enjoy audiences which far exceed any cable television program.”

As with my examples above, these prominent Canadian voices likewise risk shadow-banning under this bill.

But, worse, there is another bill, C-36, that also portends heavy censorship: the “Reducing Online Harms” bill. This one not only involves censorship, but hefty fines and house arrests for violators

The same  Law & Liberty article notes, “Canada is also expected to follow the template of Germany’s NetzDG law, which mandates that platforms take down posts that are determined to constitute hate speech—which requires no actual demonstrated discrimination or potential harm, and is thus mostly subjective—within 24 hours or to face hefty fines. This obviously will incentivize platforms to remove content liberally and avoid paying up.”

The Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF), rightly, contests this bill, noting, “the proposed definition of hate speech as speech that is ‘likely’ to foment detestation or vilification is vague and subjective.” 

Maxime Bernier, leader of the People’s Party of Canada, is likewise extremely critical of the bills.

Trudeau has made every issue about race, gender and religion since his election. Now he wants to criminalize everyone who disagrees with his tribalist vision.C-36 is the worst attack ever against free speech in Canada.https://t.co/6Z5EefmviP— Maxime Bernier (@MaximeBernier) June 25, 2021

The CCF points out the potential complete loss of Canadians’ fundamental rights with these bills.

It should be common sense that these bills are extremely dangerous to Canadians, however cloaked in talk of levelling playing fields and of combating hate speech they may be.

Terrified Washington resorts to piracy as it loses grip over West Asia

Terrified Washington resorts to piracy as it loses grip over West Asia

June 25, 2021

by Aram Mirzaei for the Saker blog

In what can only be called an act of piracy, the US government “seized” several pro-resistance media outlets in a coordinated attack this week. One of the outlets that were siezed was Presstv.com. Other web domains, including Palestine al-Youm, a Palestinian-directed broadcaster, Karbala TV – the official television of the Imam Hussein (PBUH) shrine in the holy Iraqi city of Karbala, Iraqi Afaq TV, Asia TV and al-Naeem TV satellite television channels, as well as Nabaa TV which reports the latest stories about Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf countries, were also seized.

Citing bogus reasons such as “threat to national security”, the US regime once more proved what a great leader of democracy and freedom it indeed is. Apparently, Washington believes that it cannot win a free and fair debate with outlets such as PressTV, so the only way to “win” is to prevent others from presenting their viewpoint. Imagine if other countries did the same thing and seized CNN or Fox News’ website. The US would probably start a war if countries like Iran or North Korea made such moves. The self-worshipping West loves to criticize other countries for “suppressing free media” while they portray themselves as a safe haven for “opinions of all kinds”.

The fact that the United States ranks last in media trust — at 29% — among 92,000 news consumers surveyed in 46 countries, doesn’t seem to matter. That’s worse than Poland, worse than the Philippines, worse than Peru, yet Washington still seems to have the “moral” right to condemn these countries as well, because any lack of trust in US media is explained as being the result of “foreign disinformation campaigns” and totally not related to the fact that the US media only exists to manufacture consent for Washington’s continued imperialist aggression.

Ironically, the suppression of information is happening while Washington funds and supports perhaps hundreds of propaganda networks such as BBC Persian, VOA Iran and ManotoTV, all known for disseminating vulgar and unprofessional propaganda. Some of these networks are being run by the family members of the Shah of Iran and via using the Iranians’ plundered wealth, to openly call for violent regime change and the return of the degenerate monarchy. Other networks, connected to John Bolton’s close friends in the MEK terrorist cult, openly call for terrorist attacks inside Iran. These are the people that want “democracy” for Iran, and these are the people that Washington supports.

If it hadn’t been proven a thousand times before, then this pathetic move proved once more that America’s claim about advocating freedom and democracy as well as freedom of expression is nothing more than a lie and hypocrisy. Washington is and has always been morally bankrupt, however, this recent act of thuggery shows that Washington, known for lecturing other governments overseas about free speech, democracy, and freedom of expression, is also scared and panicking.

Of course they are afraid. Is it a coincidence that these seizures happened right now? No! The Iranian nation elected what the westerners call a “hardliner” president. They know that the game of “diplomacy and talks”, which they use to stall the lifting of sanctions, is over. President-elect Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi won’t be as kind to them as the previous administration has been. He has already declared that there will be no talks with Washington over the US return to the JCPOA. On top of that, Yemen’s Ansarullah movement has rejected the Saudis shameful “peace proposal” and are in their way to capture the crucial city of Ma’rib, further humiliating Washington. So Washington resorted to silencing the world’s poorest country, which is under siege by land, sea and air in what can only be called a genocide.

There is absolutely no way for Washington to save face here. It is clear that they are terrified as the pro-resistance outlets are getting their messages across. More and more people are seeing Washington for what it is: a terrorist entity that takes pride in killing and starving people who refuse to bow down to them. This coincides with Washington’s waning influence in the region of West Asia, or as they call it, the “Middle East”. (the term “Middle East” is a colonial term from the British Empire era in which Europeans believed that they were the centre of the world, while West Asia was “the near east”).

Apparently, hundreds of US troops, aircraft and air defence batteries are being withdrawn from the puppet Persian Gulf kingdoms, as the Biden administration allegedly wants to focus on Russia and China instead. In reality, this is Washington’s way of quietly leaving the region as they know and understand what the inevitable alternative would be – getting kicked out of the region with force. Throughout the region, from Syria and Iraq, to Palestine and Yemen, the forces of colonialism and imperialism are losing ground and influence. Their repeated and continued atrocities and crimes are fuelling the fire in our hearts as more and more people, not just in the region, but worldwide are realizing the criminal nature of the imperialists.

This is not the first time nor the last time that the imperialists and their tools have silenced the voices of dissent. Throughout the years, tens or perhaps hundreds of thousand blogs, and social media pages have been shut down for supporting Syria, Palestine or Yemen. I have personally had 4 social media accounts shut down over the years, for supporting Syria’s legitimate government, for posting pictures in loving memory of Martyr Soleimani and for speaking out against the genocide going on in Yemen. But I will not back down, nor will I give up, and neither should anyone who has spoken out against the savage actions of the imperialists. It should never be forgotten that they silence and shut us down because they fear us, not because they are morally superior to us.

Resistance must continue on all fronts. Every act of aggression should be seen as an opportunity to show the world what liars and hypocrites the Western warmongers are who think that they can win the hearts of the people of this region through their lies and crude propaganda while bombing the people’s homes and loved ones.

British schoolchildren face punishment for wearing Palestine flags and keffiyeh’s

Students said they were threatened with detention, expulsion and barred from taking exams due to their pro-Palestine activism

Children across the UK have faced disciplinary action for their Palestine activism on school premises (AFP)

By Areeb Ullah

Published date: 26 May 2021

Schoolchildren in the UK are being punished for their pro-Palestine activism on school premises, with some being disciplined for wearing keffiyehs and holding Palestine flags.

Several students who spoke to Middle East Eye said they were threatened with detention, expulsion and being blocked from taking their exams if they continued protesting for Palestinian rights on school premises.

The forms of activism being penalised by schools include displaying the Palestinian flag on face masks or their hands and putting up posters designed by students to educate their peers on the Israel-Palestinian issue.

Every student and teacher who spoke to MEE requested anonymity as they feared possible repercussions from their school for speaking out.

Picture of Palestine posters put up by students at Allerton George in Leeds (Supplied)
Picture of Palestine posters put up by students at Allerton George in Leeds. Students had to take pictures in secret as phones are banned on school premises (Supplied)

Pupils who spoke to MEE attended schools in Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Rochdale and different areas of London.

Taking inspiration from last year’s Black Lives Matter protests (BLM) and her school’s awareness campaigns on LGBT rights and mental health, Jay assumed Allerton George would encourage discussion on Palestine.

But when students put up posters around the school in communal areas without permission, teachers quickly took them down.

“The teachers went as far as ripping the Palestine posters into pieces and scrunching the ripping the Palestine posters into pieces and scrunching them up in our faces,” Jay told MEE.

“When we asked why they took down the posters, the teachers said they didn’t have to justify it to us and were given clear instructions to take down these posters as they were seen as sending antisemitic messages.”

Jay stressed the messages on the posters were not antisemitic and said: “End Israeli Apartheid, End illegal Occupation and Free Palestine”. 

She added: “They took our lanyards from us because they had the Palestine flag.

“When we asked them why it was okay to wear BLM or LGBTQ+ flags on our lanyards but not Palestine, they couldn’t give us an answer and later said as a political cause, it caused distress to others.”

Students from Allerton Grange later posted a video of headteacher Mike Roper describing the Palestinian flag as a “call to arms” and “symbol of antisemitism”. Roper has since apologised after facing protests outside the school. 

‘Posters were torn down and binned’

Jay said the school had refused to take down the Israeli flag displayed in the library after seeing the Palestine flag taken down.

Allerton George had not responded to MEE’s requests for comment at the time of this article’s publication.

Some teachers from other schools who spoke to MEE also confirmed that students were placed in detention for putting up posters in support of Palestine.

Like Jay, Sam from West London put up posters in his school for Palestine on their class boards and wore badges to raise awareness about Palestine.

“We put up small Palestinian flags and posters on our class poster boards wearing badges that read ‘Free Palestine’, drawing Palestine flags on our hands and wearing keffiyehs to spread awareness and pique student interest,” Sam told MEE.

“The posters were torn down and binned, the students were told to remove their badges at the threat of suspension from school and all ‘flags and symbols’ were removed from sight at the threat of detention.” 

Sam added that students were threatened with being withdrawn from their GCSE exams if they refused to delete a video of senior staff taking down posters or wore a Palestine badge.

Aisha faced a similar situation as Sam did at Brampton Manor Academy in Newham, east London, where she says she was punished for wearing a Free Palestine badge in her school.

She said her teachers banned students from protesting and threatened them with detention if they continued putting them up. 

Students fear speaking out

Several students from other parts of the UK also expressed their disappointment at how their schools reacted towards their activism following the BLM protests.

Letters given to MEE that were sent to teachers and parents by Redbridge Council and a school in Birmingham told them that schools are “apolitical” bodies and could not allow students to participate in Palestine protests despite holding discussions for BLM and selling poppies to students.

Ilyas Nagdee, an activist who campaigns against the Prevent strategy, said children and their parents had contacted him about schools clamping down on pro-Palestine activism.

‘What we are seeing now is a product of years of Prevent trying to micro-manage political conversations’

– Shereen Fernandez, Queen Mary University

His call-out on Twitter to help students facing issues at school for their Palestine protests was retweeted 1,300 times at the time of writing.

Since then, Nagdee has received nearly a hundred requests for help, with many students afraid to speak out publicly.

“The cases we have received span the entire length of the country with hotspots where there are sizeable Muslim communities. The sanctions applied are wide in range, from young people being spoken to in class or given lunchtime isolation all the way to exclusions,” said Nagdee.

“We are also receiving a growing number of concerned parents who are contacting us due to fear their child has fallen into the clutches of Prevent or fearful of visits from the police.

Prevent in schools

Shereen Fernandez, a lecturer at Queen Mary University in London who specialises in Prevent in schools, believes the school reaction to Palestine protests is a direct result of the Prevent strategy telling teachers that campaigning for Palestine is associated with extremism.

Prevent is a strand of the British government’s counter-terrorism strategy that aims to “safeguard and support those vulnerable to radicalisation, to stop them from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism”.

It was publicly launched in the aftermath of the 2005 London bombings and was initially targeted squarely at Muslim communities, prompting continuing complaints of discrimination and concerns that the programme was being used to collect intelligence.

“Although Prevent will maintain that schools are ‘safe spaces’, that is not the case, as teachers will be anxious about approaching ‘controversial’ topics like Palestine because of its alleged association to extremism as indicated in the training material.”

“Symbols of solidarity such as wearing a badge supporting Palestine has been enough to refer students in the past to Prevent.”

In 2016, MEE revealed that the UK government told teachers in schools, colleges and universities to monitor Muslim students who display an interest in Palestine as being susceptible to terrorism.

And in 2014, Rahmaan Mohammadi, a 17-year-old student from Luton, was reportedly referred to Prevent and visited by the police after he organised a Palestine fundraiser at his school.

A teacher from Mayfield school in the London area of Ilford said the school’s reaction to pro-Palestine protests was “confusing”, adding that colleagues perceive “pro-Palestine activism as racism”.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Prevent is involved in constructing that line for schools across the country, and I’d say issues like BLM and poppies are allowed because they are considered neutral enough for schools to talk about.”

Mayfield School had not responded to MEE’s requests for comment by the time of this article’s publication.

Nagdee, the activist, said that many parents who spoke to him said they feared their children would be referred to Prevent because of their campaigning.

‘Biased’ assemblies

Following the protests, many schools across the UK held assemblies to address student concerns on raising awareness. 

But students who spoke to MEE said the assemblies fuelled further anger among students.

Images posted online showed students protesting at Judgemeadow Community College in Leicester after it was perceived to minimise Palestinian suffering. 

It remains unclear whether students in the video were punished for protesting.

Sam noted how his teacher described the tensions between Israelis and Palestinians as similar to a “messy bedroom” and disputed the phrasing of tensions as a “conflict”. 

“To address the discomfort many students felt about censorship of student voices, they organised an assembly on the concept of ‘conflict’ where the events in Palestine was compared to a ‘messy bedroom where a rebellious child and their parent had differing opinions on how it should be dealt with,” said Sam. 

“It just felt patronising and demeaning to us all.” 

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نصرالله عصر التنوير وماكرون محاكم التفتيش Nasrallah – the Age of Enlightenment, Macron – the Inquisition

ناصر قنديل

العلمانية التي ظهرت كنظام سياسي وعقد اجتماعي للدولة الأوروبية المعاصرة، هي منتج سياسي وقانوني لثقافة أعمق نهضت على أكتاف الثورة الصناعيّة وتجسّدت في القرنين الثامن عشر والتاسع عشر بثورة العقل والمنطق. وما عُرف بعصر التنوير الذي قاده عمالقة بحجم فولتير وروسو ومونتسكيو، وتبلورت شعاراتها السياسية بالحرية والأخاء والمساواة في الثورة الفرنسية، بينما تبلورت فلسفته العميقة بالاحتكام للعقل، وكانت قطيعة مع تاريخ معاكس مثلته محاكم التفتيش الكاثوليكية التي دفع فيلسوف كبير مثل برونو وعلماء كبار مثل كوبرنيكوس وجاليلو ثمناً باهظاً لها بتهمة الهرطقة على قاعدة تحريم الاحتكام للعقل والعلم، بينما سياسياً واجتماعياً طورد الإصلاحيون باسم التبرؤ من البدع كما حدث مع الفيلسوف ميشال سيرفيه الذي أحرق حياً في جنيف بتهمة رفض عقيدة التثليث، فيما شكلت جرائمها بحق المسلمين في الأندلس أبرز ما حمله سجلها التاريخي تحت عنوان فحص الولاء لله، وشكلت فكرياً وثقافياً وجهاً من وجوه استمرار الحملات الصليبية.

في ما يشبه استعادة مناخات الحروب الصليبية يتبادل الرئيسان الفرنسي والتركي عبثاً بالعقائد والعواطف والانفعالات المنبثقة عنها، حيث يصب كل منهما من طرفه وفي البيئة التي يخاطبها زيتاً على نار حرب عبثية، لا يتورّع فيها الرئيس الفرنسي امانويل ماكرون عن التحدث عن أزمة في الإسلام، وإرهاب إسلامي، وفاشية إسلامية، أملاً بأن يتزعم جبهة تضم العلمانيين بداعي الدفاع عن حرية التعبير في شقها المتصل بالتغطية على ما يطال المقدسات الإسلامية، وتضم المتطرفين المسيحيين، الذين لا يخفون ضيقهم من تنامي حضور وتعداد المسلمين في فرنسا خصوصاً وأوروبا عموماً، وإلى الفريقين تضم اليمين الوطني الرافض لتكاثر المهاجرين من البلاد الإسلامية، أملاً بأن يشكل هذا الثلاثي مصدر زعامة تشبه زعامات بناها قادة الحروب الصليبية، بينما يسعى الرئيس التركي رجب أردوغان، وفي ظل نزاع مصلحي بين الدولتين الفرنسية والتركية، لقيادة جبهة تضم الجاليات الإسلامية المقهورة تحت ظلم سياسات عنصرية في أوروبا، وتضم التنظيمات الإرهابية التكفيرية التي تشغّلها تركيا، وكانت فرنسا شريكها في التشغيل طوال سنوات الحرب على سورية، وتضم ثالثاً الشعوب العربية من المسلمين التي تسمع بصعوبة كلاماً منخفض الصوت لحكوماتها الواقعة تحت تبعية ذليلة لحكومات الغرب، فتعجز عن التجرؤ لمخاطبة الحكومات الغربية، والرئيس الفرنسي في المقدمة بلغة شجاعة تنتقد وتصحح وتعترض. وهذه الحكومات التابعة هي شريك لحكومات فرنسا وأوروبا في رعاية الجماعات الإرهابية وتشجيع الفكر التكفيري، لكن بغرض استعمال نتاج هذه الرعاية في ليبيا وسورية وليس في أوروبا.

في هذا القحط الفكري، والانفلات القاتل للعصبيّات، يخرج رجل دين معمّم من أتباع الرسول وعشاقه ليقود الدعوة للتعقل وتحمّل المسؤولية، ووضع النقاط على الحروف، مستعيداً المعاني العميقة لشعارات الثورة الفرنسية ودعوات روسو وفولتير، حيث الحرية هي الاحترام العميق لحرية المعتقد. وهو في الأولوية معتقد الأقلية والضعفاء والمقهورين، والأخاء هو الترفّع عن منطق التمييز العنصري على اساس الدين والعرق واللون والجنس، والمساواة هي نزاهة تطبيق معيار المحاكمة العقلية للمفاهيم قبل أن تكون المساواة أمام القانون، حيث لا يستوي نص تحريم الحرية والعقل تحت شعار معاداة السامية، ولو التزما كل التحفظ العلمي والضوابط الأخلاقية، وتطلق حرية بث الكراهيّة، ولو تمت بصورة عبثية تستخف بالضوابط الأخلاقية والقيمية للأخوة الإنسانية، تحت شعار حرية التعبير، فجادل رجل الدين المعمم، بلغة عصر التنوير كوريث لمنجزات الحضارة الإنسانية، من يفترض أنه الوصي على تنفيذ منتجاتها من الموقع الدستوري والسياسي، بعدما ارتضى أن يتحول إلى قائد جيش في الحرب الصليبية أو رئيس غرفة من غرف محاكم تفتيش.

كلام السيد حسن نصرلله في ما تشهده علاقة المسلمين والجاليات الإسلامية بالقضايا المثارة على مساحة أوروبا من وحي قضية الرسوم المسيئة للرسول والجرائم الإرهابية المتذرّعة بها، مرافعة فلسفية عقلانية تستعيد روح عصر التنوير والاحتكام للعقل، والحل الذي تبنّاه ختاماً لمرافعته، مستعيداً مقترح الأزهر بتشريع عالمي لتحريم النيل من المقدسات، حجر متعدد الأهداف في يوم الوحدة الإسلامية، بينما يتساءل بعض رجال القانون في فرنسا، لماذا لا تتم محاكمة أصحاب الرسوم المسيئة للرسول تحت بند العداء للسامية، أليس الرسول من أحفاد سام بن نوح، وقد روى الترمذي أن الرسول هو القائل بأن “سام أبو العرب ويافث أبو الروم وحام أبو الحبش”؟

Nasrallah – the Age of Enlightenment, Macron – the Inquisition

2/11/2020

Written by Nasser Kandil,

Secularism is a political regime and a social aspect of the contemporary European state, it is a political and legal outcome of a deeper culture that emerged as a result of the Industrial Revolution and was embodied in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by the revolution of reason and logic or as was called the Age of Enlightenment led by the giants as Voltaire, Rousseau, and Montesquieu. Its political slogans called for freedom, brotherhood, and equality during the French Revolution. But this movement was faced with counter thinking represented by the Catholic Inquisition which a great philosopher as Bruno and great scholars as Copernicus and Galileo had paid a high cost in charge of heresy based on the prohibition of resorting to reason and science. Politically and socially, many reformists were chased under the name of the disavowal of heresies, as happened with the philosopher Michael Servetus who was burnt alive in Geneva on the accusation of rejecting the doctrine of Trinity. Its history was known for its crimes against Muslims in Andalusia under the name of loyalty to God, so intellectually and culturally it formed an aspect of the continuation of the Crusades.

As in the Crusades, the French and the Turkish Presidents exchanged in vain beliefs, emotions, and the outcome feelings. Each one of them has tried to evoke a futile war. The French President Emmanuel Macron did not hesitate to talk about a crisis in Islam, Islamic terrorism, and Islamic Fascism, hoping to lead a front that includes the secularists in order to defend the liberty of expression about Islamic sanctities, the Christian extremists, who are fed up with the growing number of Muslims in Europe in general and in France in particular, and the National right which rejects the growing number of immigrants from Islamic countries, hoping that this front can be a source of leadership as the leaderships of the Crusades. While the Turkish President Recep Erdogan was seeking to lead a front that includes the oppressed Muslim communities due to the tyranny of the racist policies in Europe, the takfiri terrorist organizations backed by Turkey, and the Arab Muslim nations who are suffering from their governments that are subordinated to the governments of the West, and do not dare to address them bravely, criticize or oppose. These governments are partners of the governments of France and Europe in sponsoring the terrorist groups and supporting the takfiri belief in order to be operated in Libya and Syria not in Europe.

In this intellectual aridity and fatal chaos of fanaticism, a religious man from the followers and lovers of the Prophet emerged to lead the call to be rational, to bear the responsibility, and to be clear, recalling the deeper meanings of the slogans of the French Revolution and the calls of Rousseau and Voltaire where freedom means the respect of the freedom of belief which is the belief of the minority, the weak, and the oppressed, and where brotherhood means to be away from the logic of the racial discrimination on the basis of religion, race, color, and gender, and where equality is the fairness of applying the mental judgment of concepts before it is governed by law, and where the texts of prohibiting freedom and reason cannot be dealt with under the slogan of anti-Semitism even if scientific reservation and moral controls were taken into consideration, and the freedom of  feeling hostile cannot be spread irrationally underestimating all moral controls of the human brotherhood under the slogan of the liberty of expression. Therefore, this religious leader has argued in the language of the Age of Enlightenment “as a heritage of the achievements of the human civilization” the man who is supposed to be the trustee constitutionally and politically not an army commander in the Crusades or a head of one of the inquisitions.

The words of Al Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah regarding the relationship of Muslims and the Islamic communities with the issues rose in Europe after the offensive drawings against the Prophet and the terrorist crimes relating are a philosophical and rational argument that recalls the spirit of the Age of Enlightenment and the resorting to reason. He adopted the suggestion of Al Azhar of an international legislation to prohibit the underestimation of sanctities as a base in the Day of the Islamic unity. While some jurists in France are wondering why the owners of the offensive drawings are not prosecuted under the name of anti-Semitism, Is not the Messenger one of the grandsons of Sam Bin Noah?! Al Tirmidhi narrated that the Prophet “peace be upon him” said: “Sam was the father of Arabs, Ham the father of the Ethiopians, and Yafith the father of the Romans”.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

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