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November 26, 2015 / 14 Kislev, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘parliament’

Egypt’s New Constitution Laying Foundation for Sharia State

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

On November 30, a Constituent Assembly consisting almost 100 percent of Islamists voted to approve the draft of Egypt’s new Constitution. The next day, President Muhammad Mursi ordered that a referendum be held on December 15. In other words, Egypt’s population will be given two weeks to consider the main law, which has 230 articles, that will govern their lives for decades to come.

Most of the non-Islamists had walked out of the Assembly because they objected to the proposed Constitution and it seems as if the remaining opposition members did not even attend the vote. So great is the outrage that Egypt’s judges–who supervise elections and were explicitly asked by Mursi to oversee the forthcoming referendum–have refused to do so.

Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s chief spiritual guide raved about how great the Constitution is and then responded to the walk-out with a phrase that might serve as the slogan for the new democracy in Egypt and other Arabic-speaking countries:

“You should not have withdrawn. It’s your right to express your opinions freely.”

Yes, they could say what they thought and then be outvoted. Now that, indeed, is democracy. But what if you can already see that the democratic procedure will produce a dictatorial result? For example, Mursi was democratically elected president. He then issued a decree that said no court could countermand anything he decides. Isn’t that democratic, at least in the broader sense? Well, no it isn’t.

The competing street demonstrations of regime supporters and anti-Islamist oppositionists have now coalesced around two slogans. Pro-Islamists chant, “The people want the implementation of God’s law.” The opposition chants, “The people want to bring down the regime.”

But this time, unlike 2011, it is the regime that enjoys the support of the armed forces and Western governments, being buttressed also with almost $10 billion in aid. “The people” aren’t going to bring down this regime and the new rulers are going to implement their interpretation of “God’s law.” That is the new meaning of democracy in Egypt.

I draw here from the analysis in the Egypt Independent newspaper. For a BBC comparison of this with the previous Egyptian constitution see here. And here’s the full text. Keep in mind that neither we nor Mursi knows for sure what will happen to the parliament already elected. The Islamists have 75 percent of the seats in that body (Muslim Brotherhood, 50 percent; Salafist party, 25 percent) but the high court has ruled the lower house’s election to have been unconstitutional. If this decision stands new elections will be necessary next year. In the presidential election, the Brotherhood’s vote was only 52 percent.

While this lower vote could be due to extraneous factors–the abstention of many Salafist supporters for partisan reasons; some Islamists preferring someone other than Mursi in the first round presidential balloting and not switching to support him in the second–Mursi doesn’t know how well the Brotherhood will do if there is a new parliamentary election. Consequently, he needs to find a way to either overrule the court’s decision (hence, his decree letting him overturn what the judges say) or prepare for rule with a parliament less favorable to the Brotherhood. Hence, the constitutional provisions creating a strong presidency are very much in his interest and frighten the non-Islamist opposition.

–Islamic Sharia law is the main source of Egypt’s laws. While this has been in previous constitutions, the problem is interpreting how strictly Sharia will be interpreted and how widely it will be applied. What that passage means for Egypt is going to be a lot more significant under a Muslim Brotherhood government with major input from even more radical Salafists than it did under President Husni Mubarak’s relatively secular-style regime.

–A basic principle of the Constitution (Article 4) is to consult al-Azhar, the country’s influential Islamic university on any issue when Sharia is concerned, which potentially means on every issue. That elevates al-Azhar above all other non-governmental institutions. Al-Azhar is not (yet?) in Muslim Brotherhood hands but its leaders, who know which way the wind blows, can be expected to back a tough interpretation of Sharia law.

–To further ensure that Egypt will be a Sharia state, another provision (Article 219) states that the principles of Sharia are to be found in the four Sunni schools of thought, ruling out any reformist possibilities.

–The state must preserve the “genuine nature” of the Egyptian family and its moral values (Article 10) and has the power (Article 11) “to safeguard ethics” and morality. In other words, the government can do just about anything to determine how people should live and any aspect of their existence it chooses. This is repeated in other articles which limit rights to those that do not contradict what the state might not allow as unacceptable (Article 81) and lets the police arrest people for such crimes (Article 199).

–Islam, Christianity, and Judaism are the only legal religions in Egypt (Article 43). This is in accord with the general interpretation of Islamic law that only these three “people of the book” religions are legitimate. Of course, the face of Christian property will be in the hands of an Islamist government that is unlikely, for example, to approve the construction—or possibly even the renovation—of churches, again in accord with Sharia. Many of these things were also done by the Mubarak regime but one can expect an even tougher approach now.

–It is against the law to insult a prophet (Article 44). This might seem only to be a bother for those who would burn Korans or Bibles or make deliberately provocative videos. But it is important to remember that Islamists have charged that academic research has crossed this line and also the novels of Naguib Mahfouz, Egypt’s Nobel Prize-winning author as well as a tweet from the main backer of the leading non-Islamist party. Islamist groups will be able to bring law suits against anyone whose writing or statements or tweets they don’t like.

–Freedom of expression is limited (Article 48) by the principles of state and society, national security, and others things. That means that any television station or newspaper that says anything that can be deemed contrary to Sharia or Islamic morality as interpreted by a Muslim Brotherhood government can be shut down. A National Media Council (Article 215) will be responsible for preserving “societal principles and constructive values,” which presumably means it can order publications and television channels to be closed down.

–There can be only one trade union for each profession (Article 53). This has hidden implications since in the past the state has controlled the sole such organization in each area. In addition, though, suppose doctors, journalists, engineers, or members of other professions are tired of being in associations that are controlled by the Brotherhood. They cannot form their own separate groups.

–The president can force parliament to meet in secret rather than public session (Article 93). In that case, the legislators would have no say in the decision. This makes observers suspicious about how much the president will dominate parliament, since Egypt has been a country ruled by a single man for six decades in which parliament was a rubber stamp. In addition, anything critical of the regime can be kept secret.

–This concern is furthered by another provision (Article 104) only allowing parliament to overturn a presidential veto on laws by a two-thirds’ majority. This is, of course, also in the U.S. Constitution but, again, Egypt is a country that has long seen a dictator who rules and a parliament which has no significant influence.

–There is no maximum number of members for parliament set (Article 114 and 128), raising suspicions that the president and the Brotherhood’s political party can add more people if needed to maintain control.

–If the lower house of Parliament does not approve the government platform set by the president (Article 139) he can dissolve it. Since members of parliament don’t like to be forced to run for reelection and possibly lose their seats, this pressures them to accept the president’s policies. This provision is also found in other parliamentary democracies but again there are suspicions given Egypt’s history and the regime’s ideology.

–A provision intended to make the army accept Muslim Brotherhood rule (Article 197) establishes a National Defense Council, with a majority of officers, to set the military budget. This had been a major demand of the armed forces. Another thing that will make the army happy (Article 198) lets civilians be tried by military courts for crimes that “harm” the armed forces.

–The president has the power to appoint the heads of many public institutions (Article 202).

–Two provisions (Article 231 and 232) are explicitly designed to reverse the Supreme Constitutional Court’s ruling that parliament was elected on the basis of an unconstitutional the elections law. Thus, approval of the Constitution at the referendum would lead to Mursi arguing that a parliament with two-thirds Islamist membership would be legitimate, rather than facing new elections in which the Islamists might lose seats.

Probably the provision most bruited in the Western media will be the taking out of a provision that explicitly said women’s equality would be subject to revision based on Sharia (removed from Article 68). Another article (Article 30) states that citizens are equal before the law and equal in rights and obligations without discrimination.

Presumably, however, this changes nothing since conformity with Sharia law is already mandated in the Constitution. But that last point is a good symbol of the Constitution’s meaning. It enshrines Sharia rule without rubbing people’s faces in it. Thus, the Western media and governments can cheer the Constitution as democratic and proof that Islamists are now moderate even though that document opens the door for dictatorial rule.

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

European Jewish Association Calls for Protection of Ukrainian Jews

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

The head of the European Jewish Association has called on the Ukrainian government to ensure the safety of the country’s Jews in the wake of the election to parliament of an anti-Semitic party.

“We are not presuming of course, to interfere in internal Ukraine affairs and its voters’ decisions, however we are very concerned about the safety of Ukrainian Jews and are seeking to prevent expansion of anti-Semitism in Europe,” Rabbi Menachem Margolin said in a statement.

On Oct. 28, the ultra-nationalist Svoboda (Freedom) Party, making unprecedented gains in Ukraine’s parliamentary elections, garnered 12 percent of the vote, after winning less than 1 percent in the previous election, in 2007. The percentage means that the party can control a parliament faction for the first time.

Party leader Oleg Tyagnibok has called in the past for purges of the approximately 400,000 Jews living in Ukraine, as well as other minorities. The party has held several protest rallies against the presence of Jews in Uman, in the center of the country.

What Happened in Egypt?

Monday, August 20th, 2012


A short history of democracy in Egypt.

In February 2011 the Mubarak regime fell. There was going to be a parliament elected in Egypt. The parliament was elected. Its election was invalidated. Today there is no parliament in Egypt.

The Muslim Brotherhood said it would want to run one-third of the candidates for seats. Then they ran one-half. Then they ran all. Then they said they would not run a president. Then they did and elected a president. And they and the Salafists elected 70 percent of the parliament. But now there is no parliament.

The Parliament was going to pick a constituent assembly but to write a Constitution. But now there is no Constitution. There are no restrictions on presidential powers.

And then there was a Supreme Council of the Armed Forces but that was supposed to restrain the Muslim Brotherhood president. And it was supposed to be restrained by the Egypt-Israel peace treaty and by the hope of getting U.S. military aid. But the president got rid of it and fired the two top people and put in his own generals. And there is no restraint.

And we were told that the Egyptian government had promised to adhere to the Egypt-Israel peace treaty. But when it wished the regime simply violated the treaty and sent forces into the eastern Sinai. And it announced an alliance with Hamas which openly declared its desire to go to war with Israel and destroy it. And Cairo did not demur.

The Egyptian regime did more economic damage to Israel by violating its contract on natural gas shipments than any other Arab regime in the history of the country because Israel had to spend billions of dollars replacing that lost fuel. That is why Israeli taxes are going up and social spending must decline. The U.S. government did not lift a finger to help.

The entire Israeli strategic plan has had to be altered to add an entire new defensive front along the border with Egypt. New units will be organized; new fences built; new equipment ordered and paid for.

Saaed Eddin Ibrahim, arguably the Arab world’s leading sociologist and certainly the leading advocate of liberal-Islamist alliance against the old Arab military regimes has now totally changed sides, warning that the Islamists want to hijack power and establish dictatorships. He pleads for Westerners to wake up.

Egyptian President al-Mursi has now named the heads of the main Egyptian newspapers, radio stations, and television networks. They include sleaze balls that sold out to the Mubarak regime and will do whatever he tells them and supporters of Islamism. The first round-ups have begun of reporters who are to bold and honest in their investigations. The walls are closing in.

Soon the generals will be replaced; soon the judges will be replaced, and so too will the diplomats. In other words, the internal and external bureaucracy of Egypt’s government will become transformed. The old national security considerations will change.

The next stop is the court system where plans are being made already to eliminate judges. True, there were many corrupt jurists but there was no institution in Egypt where there were more courageous individuals and advocates of democracy. But that’s the problem. The very integrity that made these men stand up against Mubarak will make them do the same against the Brotherhood and they will not enforce Sharia law. Their vote against the parliamentary result was a warning. They will soon be ousted.

An upcoming conference of pro-Islamist judges will recommend massive retirements; the new constitution, written by Islamists, will weaken the courts against Sharia as interpreted by Islamic clerics. The Brotherhood will take over al-Azhar University and appoint one of its men as chief qadi, Muslim judicial official. They will get into control of the wealth religious endowments. Within a year, Egypt will be fundamentally transformed. Irretrievably transformed.

Considers what this means in foreign policy.

Current Egyptian Strategic Assessment (End of Mubarak Regime) Main threat: Revolutionary Islamism in the form of Muslim Brotherhood, Salafists, al-Qaida, and Hizballah.

Main threat (end 2012): Israel, moderate Arab states.

Competing local leadership 2011: Shia Islamism in form of Iran-led alliance, including Syria and Hizballah

Competing local leadership 2012: Competing Shia Islamists in Hizballah, Syrian regime, Iran, to some extent in Iraq and Bahrain.

Egypt’s Power Struggle and the Fate of Christians

Monday, July 16th, 2012

In defiance of Egypt’s top generals and highest court, Muslim Brotherhood President-elect Mohammed Morsi reopened parliament last Tuesday. In only his third week in office, Morsi’s rapid-fire pursuit to broaden the Brotherhood’s power openly challenged the country’s ruling military council. Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority fears that the restoration of parliament, which will grant greater powers to Islamists, will be used to institute Sharia law and stifle religious freedom.

Egypt’s lower chamber, the People’s Assembly, convened on July 10, after a ruling by the Supreme Constitutional Court on June 14 ordering the parliament’s dissolution. Saad el-Katatni, the assembly’s speaker, told lawmakers the session was being held to seek a “second opinion” by an appellate court in an effort to reinstate the Islamist-dominated legislature. The court, however, did not accede to the chamber’s request; it upheld its earlier ruling that the parliament had been elected unconstitutionally and that its dissolution was “final and binding.”

If the parliament were to be reinstated, the Muslim Brotherhood—which holds nearly half the seats in the Islamist-dominated assembly—would head both the legislature and the presidency. Yet, a Brotherhood-controlled civilian government appears to be what Egypt’s ruling generals fear most. Only a week prior to Morsi’s announcement as president, the military announced a constitutional declaration on June 17 that expands its control over civilian politicians and strips the head of state of most of his powers. Morsi’s move to defy the court ruling by reconvening parliament was not only considered to be illegal by the military council, but also a direct challenge to the establishment’s authority.

In a warning to the president, the military said it would support the country’s “legitimacy, constitution and law” by upholding the court’s ruling.”[This is] language that means [the military] will not stand by and watch the rulings of the country’s top court ignored or breached,” the Christian Science Monitor reported.

Despite the military’s grip on power, Bret Stephens, an editor of The Wall Street Journalargues that Egypt has already been “lost” to Islamists and that a radical future, similar to what was seen in Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution, lingers on the horizon. “Egypt under the Brotherhood will seek to arm Hamas and remilitarize the Sinai. By degrees, it will seek to extract concessions from the U.S. as the price of its good behavior. By degrees, it will make radical alliances in the Middle East and beyond.”

Daniel Pipes, President of the Middle East Forum, argues the contrary, however, saying that the military, not the Brotherhood, has the ultimate power in Egypt. “Not only was the [presidential] election symbolic, but it was also illusory, in that the military leadership scripted it,” Pipes wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Times. “[Mohammed Morsi’s] job is undefined. A military coup could brush him aside… Mohamed Tantawi is the real ruler of Egypt. Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), field marshal, and minister of defense, he serves not only as the commander-in-chief but also as the effective head of all three of Egypt’s branches of government… The [military] exploits the Muslim Brotherhood and other proxies as its civilian fronts, a role they are happy to play, as it has permitted the Islamists to garner an outsized percentage of the parliamentary vote and then to win the presidency.”

Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority, who make up 10 percent of the population, hope that Pipes is right; they are fearful that if the Brotherhood gains leverage over the military, the country could quickly transform into an Islamic state.

“There is a Brotherhood strategy to work toward building an Islamic country,” Yousef Sidhom, editor of the weekly Watani newspaper and a Coptic Church official, told The Associated Press. He added that the Brotherhood will withhold government positions from Christians, tax non-Muslims, and base education around Islam.

The Brotherhood will not likely accede to pressure by the military: its members vowed to “fight in the courts and the streets to reinstate the Parliament,” according to The New York Times. Prior to the reconvening of parliament, the Brotherhood’s Secretary-General, Mahmoud Hussein, called for a “million-man march” to “regain the parliament,” and denounced the military’s hold on power. A few hundred protestors supporting the Brotherhood responded to the call in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Monday, chanting, “We love you Morsi,” and “Down with military rule.”

Rubin Reports: A First Look at Egypt’s New Constitution Shows a Careful Ambiguity On Islamic Rule

Thursday, July 12th, 2012


Although it isn’t official, the first two articles of Egypt’s new Constitution have been reportedly drafted by the committee of parliamentarians charged with that task. Article 1 defines Egypt as part of the Arab and Muslim nation, a compromise between acceptance of the country as a normal nation-state and its identity as either a purely Arab nationalist or Islamist entity.

Similarly, Article 2, according to Mohamed Emara, head of the committee responsible for drafting this section, says:

“Islam is the religion of the state, and Arabic is its official language, and the principles of Islamic Sharia are the main source for legislation. Christians and Jews shall resort to legislation derived from their own religions.”

There is some ambiguity here as to whether Egypt would thus be a Sharia state. On one hand, Islamic law is not made the sole source of legislation, while the word “principles” might mean that the interpretation will be loose, principles and not all of the details. Bourhamy says that this merely shows that Egypt isn’t a secular state.

On the other hand, though, both the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis accepted this formulation which, since they want a Sharia state, apparently feel does not block their goal from being reached. Moreover, precisely what “principles” means will be defined not by some governmental organ but by the al-Azhar mosque university. While the leaders of that institution are more moderate than the Brotherhood and Salafis, presumably President Muhammad al-Mursi will replace them at some point with his own people.

The Arabic word used to define “democracy” was “shura.”  This is a term often used in Muslim countries because it is found in the Koran. It might be translated as “consultative,” since the ruler (in this case, al-Mursi) can consult with the parliament. This might be taken to imply that its decisions are not binding. Also that the parliament does not have a free hand in passing laws since—it is implied—no law can be passed that conflicts with Sharia law.

Non-Islamists can argue that there is no harm in the word but it should be noted that the idea for using this term was suggested by a Salafist.

The bottom line is that there is an ambiguity which Western observers and anti-Islamist Egyptians can say means that the country will not be a Sharia state, while Islamists can maintain their own view. The key point, of course, is not the wording as such but who gets to interpret it down the road.

Finally, Christians, it is implied, will be governed by their own religious laws. But this is a peculiar formulation. If Egypt is not governed by Sharia law then why would Christians need to be exempt from it? If this provision is restricted only to matters of personal status (principally marriage, divorce, and inheritance) then Christians would mostly be living under Sharia law in any state court. And what does this constitutional provision mean for example regarding the status of women, where Egyptian law has granted more rights than Sharia would do? Another important issue will be the appointment of future judges since many of the current magistrates oppose Sharia law as that of the state.

If there is an Islamist president and parliament who pass laws that correspond only to Sharia and who appoint Islamist judges and al-Azhar  shaykhs then Egypt will be a Sharia state. No doubt though the Constitution will be interpreted by many Western observers of proof that the Brotherhood and Salafists have moderated.

Mordechai Kedar: Jordan and Radical Islam

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Since December 2010, when the phenomenon known as the “Arab Spring” began in Tunisia, there has been one slogan that passes, like a leitmotif, through each Arab domain: “The people want to overthrow the regime.” This slogan is on all the posters used in the demonstrations, on the walls of buildings, on flyers that are handed out in the streets; the spokesmen of the various opposition groups and the demonstrating throngs cried it out hoarsely and repeated it again and again, as an unvarying mantra. This slogan may have been the most obvious rhetorical feature of public discourse in the Arab world over the past year and a half, because it signified the events that led to the collapse of the regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and apparently in Syria as well. The intensity and strength of the use of this slogan was an indication of the height of the flames singeing the feet of the seats of government in these states.

Jordan has managed until now to remain untouched by these problems, and King Abdullah II knew how to navigate matters of the kingdom in a way that the waves of the revolution washing over the rest of the Arab world did not yet wash over his kingdom. In an article I wrote four months ago, I dealt with the problem that the Jordanian monarchy has with the Palestinian majority in Jordan. But in the past few weeks – mainly since the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco – a different sort of problem is now becoming apparent: the problem of radical political Islam.

This problem is not new, because radical Islamist groups have existed in Jordan for many years, however the monarchy knew how to put them in their place using a combination of the carrot and the stick: prison and torture on one hand, while permitting political and public activities on the other. But the political activity of the Jordanian opposition was always placed within the administrative frameworks of the state, meaning the monarchy made sure that their influence remained marginal. The principal framework is the law of elections, which undergoes basic and frequent changes, in order to make sure that the results of the “democratic” elections will create a feeling of openness, pluralism and legitimacy, but at the same time preserve the status quo and prevent too great a change to the balance of political power.

Elections in Jordan have always been a source of tension between the regime and the political bodies for three main reasons: a) the natural public expectation that the elections would result in an effective parliament, one that will have genuine authorities, but this has never happened, because the laws of parliament can not contradict the decisions of the king and certainly can not remove him from his throne; b) the elections are supposed to reflect the attitudes of the population and its cross section of political opinion and social and cultural attitudes, and this doesn’t happen either; c) parliament represents mainly the traditional trends and interests of the Bedouin tribes which are a minority among the population, and marginalizes other groups, including those with modern viewpoints.

Approximately two weeks ago parliament passed a new law dealing with elections that raised the number of representatives from 120 to 140 and determined that every voter would be able to choose two representatives: one from his local area and one from a national list, which is limited to only 17 seats. The significance of this apportionment is that local tribes will continue to have more political weight and the general, national ideological lists will have less weight. The increase in the number of seats intended for women from 12 to 15 arouses much criticism from all directions: the modernists and women’s organizations want more seats, while the Islamists want a smaller number of seats allocated to women. The election law has not yet been enacted because the king has still not approved it, and apparently will not approve it because of public opposition.

However this hasn’t succeeded in silencing the opposition: last Friday huge demonstrations were held in several Jordanian cities, demanding constitutional changes that would reflect the will of the street to allow the election of a parliament with real authorities and to establish a fair and effective government. These demonstrations streamed into the streets after Friday prayers, apparently under the influence of the sermons delivered by the clerics. We saw this phenomenon in Egypt in January of 2011, and in Syria during March and April of 2011 – the mosque and Friday sermons serve as the match that ignites the barrel of gunpowder, filled with the rage of the public and the will of the people to radically change the corrupt and illegitimate regime. The miserable economic situation in Jordan adds fuel to the fire, and strengthens the feeling of marginalization felt by more than a few sectors.

Zaki Bani Irshid, the general supervisor of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Jordan, said during a demonstration: “The time has come for us in Jordan to also be happy like the Egyptian people are happy,” while Ali Abu al-Sukkar, head of the Shura Council, the council of the “Islamic Action Front,” that represents the Muslim Brotherhood, said openly and brazenly to the media: “Just as the will of the Egyptian people was victorious, thus the will of the Jordanian people will be victorious and the aspirations to see real reforms will be realized. Today, the voice of the Jordanian citizen echoes throughout all districts, as he emphasized that he will not be put off, nor will he accept partial solutions, trickery or manipulation regarding the public’s expectations to see real improvement in governmental systems.”

The message conveyed in these words is that just as in Egypt the public succeeded to overthrow Mubarak and to set up a representative of the Muslim Brotherhood at the head of the pyramid of power, tso it must be in Jordan. There can not be a clearer or sharper message than this. The interesting thing about this demonstration is that leftist groups also took part in it, and this too is reminiscent of Egypt, because in the first phase of the demonstrations in Egypt, all of the groups who opposed Mubarak were united.

Slogans that were heard in the demonstrations were also interesting: people called the parliament (majlis al-nuab – House of Representatives) the pejorative “majlis al-doab” (House of the Worms), and there were signs saying: “Start the Countdown,” “Victory to the Will of the People,” “Congratulations to Egypt,” “Where is the Corrupt One? the Reforms Will Sweep You Away,” “The Cost of Living is not Reasonable,” “The Prices are on Fire and the Citizen is Worried.” The king, recognizing the danger inherent in Friday demonstrations with slogans and signs of this sort, froze the election law and sent it back to the House of Representatives to increase the number of seats for the national lists at the expense of the local ones, and thus “threw a bone” to the demonstrators.

Security forces that accompanied the demonstration were not armed, however their presence in full uniform was conspicuous. The message that they sent was that as long as the demonstrations stay within the accepted norms they will be permitted to continue. Against this backdrop it is important to note that for a long time in Jordan there has been sharp criticism against the cruelty with which the security forces act towards groups of radical Islamists, who call themselves “Salafia Jihadia,” and whose goal it is to fight with the force of jihad to return Muslim society to the good times, pure values, and proper rulers that it had in the seventh century.

A 16-year-old youth, Layth al-Kalaulah, who apparently participated in the demonstration against the regime last weekend, was caught by an arm of the security force and underwent investigation under torture that included putting out burning cigarettes on his body. He is a resident of the city al-Salt, in the Jordan Valley, where there is activity of the Salafia Jihadia, and he was apparently a member of this group. This is not the first instance in which Jordanian security forces are accused of torture: In recent years the UN and a number of human rights organizations published reports on the use of systematic torture in Jordanian prisons on those who opposed the regime. Confessions were extracted from them illegally, and those responsible for the torture are not usually brought to justice.

It must also be noted that in Egypt a grievous event happened a number of months before the demonstrations broke out in January 2011, in which a youth in Alexandria was tortured to death, which caused a stream of thousands of demonstrators to crowd into the streets. In the opinion of observers, this event strengthened the negative feeling of the population towards the regime, because photographs of the youth “before” and “after” were circulated in the various media and reached the masses. In Syria too, in the beginning of the events in March 2011, photographs of children and youths who had been tortured by the regime were distributed via the social networks, and these photographs poured oil on the fire of the demonstrations.

Al Jazeera, which broadcast live coverage of the demonstrations in Jordan last Friday, finished the report with this sentence: “The people want to reform the regime,” which is clearly a variation of the sentence “The people want to topple the regime.” In this way, almost overtly, Al Jazeera exploits the internal tensions in Jordan and tries to ignite the domestic front in this state as well, after the great success that this Qatari channel has already scored in setting afire the streets of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya Yemen and Syria. The king will need great wisdom to be able to stand up against the rising waves of opposition, from within as well as from the direction of Al Jazeera, the jihadi channel of the Emirate of Qatar, whose rulers suffer from severe megalomania.

Originally published at http://israelagainstterror.blogspot.co.il/2012/07/mordechai-kedar-jordan-and-radical.html

Hungarian House Speaker to Elie Wiesel: Writers Will Be Writers

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

Hungary’s House Speaker László Kövér has replied to Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel, who recently renounced a Hungarian state honor in protest at what he sees as the government toleration of rising anti-Semitic sentiment, the Budapest Times reported.

Kövér defended Hungarian writer József Nyírõ, who was a member of parliament for the wartime fascist Arrow Cross Party, which collaborated in the extermination of Hungarian Jews at Nazi Germany’s bidding. Nyírõ was recently made compulsory reading in Hungarian schools.

“When passing judgement on creative minds, it is primarily their creation that should be considered, and double standards in that must not be applied,” Kövér wrote. The founding member of the ruling centre-right Fidesz party described Nyírõ’s political activities as “negligible but doubtlessly and tragically mistaken”.

According to the BT, Wiesel acknowledged Kövér’s reply but declared it unsatisfactory. Kövér failed to address Wiesel’s concerns about a growing cult around the inter-war regent Miklós Horthy, who led Hungary into the Second World War as an ally of Nazi Germany.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/hungarian-house-speaker-to-elie-wiesel-writers-will-be-writers/2012/07/05/

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