Friday, December 31, 2010

What The Future Holds

Happy New Year!
As 2010 comes to an end, I want you to consider what the future holds.

From The TSA's state-mandated molestation, December 29, 2010, by Jennifer Abel:

The ACLU maintains an ever-growing database of these indignities, many so graphic they're illegal to broadcast over public airwaves. Actions that violate FCC standards are embraced by the TSA. "Mary in Texas" reported:

The TSA agent used her hands to feel under and between my breasts. She then rammed her hand up into my crotch until it jammed into my pubic bone ... I was touched in the pubic region in between my labia ... She then moved her hand across my pubic region and down the inner part of my upper thigh to the floor. She repeated this procedure on the other side. I was shocked and broke into tears.

A woman named Chris said:

"In the four times she explored the area where my inner thigh met my crotch, she touched my labia each time, and one pass made contact with my clitoris, through two layers of clothing. I told her I felt humiliated, assaulted and abused ... In my work as a nurse, if I did what the TSA did against a patient's will it would be considered assault and battery, and I did not see how the TSA should have different rules."

Recipients of such treatment aren't allowed to show distress. Melissa from Massachusetts did anyway:

"I was shaking and crying the entire time. I was begging them to hurry up but they kept stopping and telling me to calm down. It is impossible to gain composure when a stranger has her hands in your underwear."

Attention officials of the TSA:

You are sexually assaulting and harassing the people, under color of authority.

You are violating our civil rights under numerous Amendments.

The laws and administrative policies you cite as authority to do this are themselves unconstitutional and illegal.

You are breaking the law.

At Nuremburg, it was established that "I was just following orders" is not an adequate defense.

You and your bosses will be held legally accountable for your actions.

As the Lord lives, your criminal excesses will not go unpunished.


Enjoy the New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mauritania, Rape and Islam

An interesting article appeared on CNN, entitled Rape victims fear being jailed in Mauritania, by Mohamed Yahya Abdel Wedoud, dated December 22, 2010. We begin by reviewing excerpts:

Nouakchott, Mauritania (CNN) -- Mahjouba was raped in March on the nighttime streets of Mauritania's capital, but she will not bring charges against the man she says did it since she may be the one who ends up in prison. The 25-year-old says the legal advice she received was to not go to court, leaving her to suffer in silence.

There is no law in Mauritania that defines rape.

According to a local U.N.-funded group working with the victims, the law criminalizes the women instead of their rapists -- and society ostracizes the women.

Mahjouba, who asked not to use her real name, said: "I am sure that if I raise my voice I'm going to be criminalized by my society and I will pay the price harshly ... and as a result I may stay single for the rest of my life."

She added: "I consulted a lawyer secretly, and he advised me sincerely not to seek justice because that would throw me in jail. I know what happened to other girls who decided to go to court and face the community. Their lives were destroyed completely forever. So I already know what would happen to me if I had to follow that path.

"This Islamic republic has no place for rape victims like me."

Mauritanian laws are based on Sharia law and the penal code forbids relationships between both sexes outside marriage. That includes a consensual relationship between a boyfriend and girlfriend but can also criminalize a woman who is forced to have sex.

Sidi Athman Ould Sidi Salem, a law specialist and legal adviser to the government, said: "If raped women don't bring strong evidence, which is not easy, they would be accused of Zina -- an Arabic word meaning sex out of marriage -- and end up in jail. It's because the victims of rape are always accused of a Zina which make a lot of problems."

Sidi Athman added: "The rape issue has been one of the many taboos that haven't been investigated (by the government)."


Basically, the issue boils down to Islamic law - sharia.

From What does the Religion of Peace Teach About... How a Woman Must Prove Rape

Question:

Why are rape victims punished by Islamic courts as adulterers?


Summary Answer:

Under Islamic law, rape can only be proven if the rapist confesses or if there are four male witnesses. Women who allege rape, without the benefit of the act having been witnessed by four men who subsequently develop a conscience, are actually confessing to having sex. If they or the accused happens to be married, then it is considered to be adultery.


The Qur'an:

Qur'an (2:282) - Establishes that a woman's testimony is worth only half that of a man's in court (there is no "he said/she said" gridlock in Islam).

Qur'an (24:4) - "And those who accuse free women then do not bring four witnesses (to adultery), flog them..."

Qur'an (24:13) - "Why did they not bring four witnesses of it? But as they have not brought witnesses they are liars before Allah."


From the Hadith:


Bukhari (5:59:462)
- The background for the Qur'anic requirement of four witnesses to adultery. Muhammad's favorite wife, Aisha, was accused of cheating [on her polygamous husband]. Three witnesses corroborated the event, but Muhammad did not want to believe it, and so established the arbitrary rule that four witnesses are required.


Additional Notes:

Rape is virtually impossible to prove under Islamic law (Sharia) and even in more moderate countries. If the man claims that the act was consensual sex, there is very little that the woman can do to refute this. Islam places the burden of avoiding sexual encounters of any sort on the woman.

The key issue here is that a woman needs four male witnesses, or else she needs the rapist to confess; otherwise, the woman, by accusing a man of rape, is admitting she had sex with him, and since, absent four male witnesses or a confession by the perpetrator, the woman can be 1) punished for adultery, if she or the man is married, and be stoned, or 2) punished for fornication, if they are both single, and be given lashes.

Of course, in some circles, this answer is considered Islamophobic. A Muslim forum topic linked to an explanation at Defending Islam, which, in turn, cites another source. The source was complaining about 2006 changes in Pakistani law that President Musharraf pushed through:

Proof of Hadd from the Qur’an

The Holy Qur’an prescribes the punishment of adultery in Surah an-Noor as follows: "The female perpetrator of zina and the male, scourge ye each one of them (with) a hundred stripes." (An-Noor, 24:2)

In this injunction the word zina is absolute and includes zina bir ridha (adultery) as well as zina bil jabr (rape). It is obvious that rape is a more serious offense, and consequently deserves at least as severe a punishment as that for adultery.

One may point out that this verse mentions both the female and male perpetrators of zina, so this verse could not possibly apply to rape. However, in the same surah the punishment for rape is clarified: it only applies to the man. The Holy Qur’an says:

"And if one forces them (i.e. those women), then, (unto them) after their compulsion, Allah is Forgiving, Merciful." (Surah Noor, Verse 33)

Thus, it is clear that if any woman is forced to commit zina, then she cannot be punished for this, rather the one who transgressed will have to suffer the prescribed punishment (hadd) that has been mentioned in Surah Noor, Verse 2.

Proof from the Ahadith

The stated hadd of one hundred stripes is to be inflicted on an unmarried offender. From the Sunnah Mutawatar it is further established that a married person is to suffer rajm (lapidation). The Messenger of Allah, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, did not differentiate between zina bil jabr (rape) and zina bir-ridha (adultery with mutual consent).

In one hadith, Sayyidna Wail bin Hajr, Radi-Allahu anhu, narrates that during the time of the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, a woman had gone out to offer the prayer. On the way a man overcame and raped her. The woman cried for help and the man ran away. Thereafter the man admitted that he had raped her. The Messenger of Allah, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, then inflicted the hadd on the man only, and not on the woman.

Notice that in the example, though, we have a confession by the perpetrator. This does nothing to disprove the original contention that, absent either four male witnesses or a confession by the perp, it is the victim who is guilty.

Skipping down:

Similarly, in Sahih Bukhari there is a hadith according to which a slave had raped a slave-girl. Sayyidina Umar, Radi-Allahu anhu, then imposed the hadd on the slave, but not on the slave-girl. (See Sahih Bukhari, Kitabul Ikrah, Bab 6)

It is hence firmly established from the Holy Qur'an, the Sunnah, and the decisions of the rightly guided caliphs, Radi-Allahu anhum, that the same punishment is to be awarded for both adultery and rape and that in the case of rape, only the man is punished. It is by no means correct to say that the hadd mentioned in the Holy Qur'an and in the Ahadith applies only to adultery.

This helps a little more to establish a case that the victim is not punished.

Continuing:

The Propaganda against the Hudood Ordinance

What is the rationale for removing the Shariah punishment for rape? The authors argue that the Hudood Ordinance treated a victim of rape who was unable to produce four witnesses as a criminal herself; she was jailed for allegedly having committed adultery. This claim is simply false.

I myself had been directly hearing cases registered under Hudood Ordinance, first as a Judge of Federal Shariah Court and then for seventeen years as a member of Shariah Appellate Bench of the Supreme Court. In this long tenure, not once did I come across a case in which a rape victim was awarded punishment simply because she was unable to present four witnesses.

In fact it was not possible to do so. First, according to the Hudood Ordinance, the condition of four witnesses only applied to enforcing the hadd for rape. Clause 10(3), which awarded the ta’zeer punishment, did not have this requirement; the crime could be proven through one witness, medical reports, and chemical analysis report. Consequently most rape criminals were awarded punishment as per this clause.

Further, a woman claiming rape could not be punished under Qazf (false accusation of zina) since Exemption 2 in Qazf Ordinance Clause 3 clearly stated that if someone approaches the legal authorities with a rape complaint, she could not be punished in case she was unable to present four witnesses.

The only possibility was that the woman could be awarded punishment for committing adultery with her own free will. Obviously, if the available evidence did prove her guilt, punishing her was the just course of action. However, such cases were rare, since usually there was insufficient evidence to prove that the woman was lying; in 99% of the cases the court was neither convinced that the man had compelled the woman, nor could it prove her guilt and so she was given the benefit of doubt and set free.

Based on this, Pakistan's law, at least as it was and when applied by educated legal scholars, was kind of similar to the laws on the books in many US jurisdictions decades ago: rape was a capital offense.

To be sure, though, at the forum topic mentioned above, there was some confusion:



This was clarified by another commentator:


Notice the last commentator's position on this:  the female victim must put up substantial resistance, even to the point of death; otherwise, she comes to be viewed as a criminal, and not as a victim.  Again, it is worth comparing this to US interpretations of rape decades ago, and contrasting that with US interpretations of sexual assault current today.

Consequently, even if the woman has a reasonably well-educated court and relatively reasonable legal standards applied, there is still a considerable burden of proof on her to not be labeled as a criminal instead of as a victim. Any factor, such as a partial or uneducated community, would logically weigh against the victim.

It is easy to see how the victim, despite the assurances of educated authorities on Islamic law in Pakistan, could find herself being stoned for adultery or given 100 lashes for fornication nearly anywhere subject to the jurisdiction of Islamic law where she makes an accusation of rape.

Thus, despite the assurances of some scholars on Islamic law, and despite the attitudes of some Muslims toward the crime of rape and their questions about Islamic law, we can see how rape victims in Mauritania may feel they have nowhere to turn.


Peace be upon you. :)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Some Thoughts on Islam

On Facebook, we are having a debate. One of the commentators is a veteran of military service, who has served with good people who are Muslims, and is offended that anyone would question their loyalty to America.


My responses are as follows:

Steven, I would not want to disrespect any of our troops, the troops of our allies or their sacrifices. There are many, many good people who are Muslims. But, Islamists decades ago, when their ideology was being reborn, worked closely and happily with Hitler's Nazis. And, there are too many passages in Islamic holy texts advocating violence that would be considered illegal in the US and under international law to think that an association between Islam and terrorism is coincidence or "Islamophobia".




Farther down, I have this to say (excuse the long paragraphs, it is on Facebook; I added in "to" which had been left out in the middle of the paragraph):

Steven, you are right about good and bad people; they are in all religions. The difference is that if you are a determined evildoer, and you are a Christian or a Buddhist or a member of any number of other religions, sooner or later, you find yourself at a crossroads: you need to change your ways to be true to your religion. Islam is fundamentally different; hatred and opportunism are evident throughout Islamic texts, as are calls for violence. This hatred is dressed up in a cloak of piety. Consequently, the good soldiers you served with who are Muslims will be confronted with a choice: either they convert from Islam, relative to which they are apostates, or they get a dose of that olde-tyme religion and declare jihad on takfir. A very few Muslims are seeking to reform Islam, but the deck is stacked against them, since they are far lower on the food chain even than I, according to the fanatics: I could still convert, but they have left true Islam, and are under a death sentence as apostates. Furthermore, being a woman is not an ideology; being a feminist is. So, you are right not to judge all women according to a few, the same as we should not judge people based on what color skin they have, what color hair they have (though I do make blonde jokes), and so on. However, Islam is a belief system; it is an ideology. For many good people, it really is a religion of peace, and there it ends. However, the evil lies in the Islamic texts; Islam is an ideology of armed conquest that seeks to dominate both this world and the next. Just as Islam offers us the triple choice to convert to Islam, submit as a dhimmi, or die, so do Muslims have ultimately a triple choice: become an imperialistic militant, reform Islam, or leave their religion; for good people who are Muslims, and they are many, that is the dilemma they will ultimately face.

The member who started this with an image linking Nazism to Islam had this comment near the top (I reproduce only the first sentence of his comment):

The Fact of the Matter is this...............THEY ARE MUSLIM FIRST, AMERICAN SECOND!

My response to that (I paragraphed here better than on Facebook):

Roy, I would like to answer your comment about being Muslims first. This is a true statement; similarly, I am a Christian first, and an American second. However, I see no conflict between doing what is right according to my understanding of Christianity, and doing what is right according to what I believe my duties as an American are. Consequently, it is not an issue.

For Islam, however, the tenets of Islamic doctrine, as laid out in Islamic texts, are fundamentally at odds with our Constitution. For example, we have a First Amendment right to free speech; our free speech is blasphemy, and is prohibited in Islam. We have a similar right to freedom of religion; under Islamic law, Christianity and Judaism are subordinated to Islam, and their practice is practically discouraged under dhimmi status, and other religions are legally banned. Reality, of course, has caused Islam to make accomodations with certain other religions, but this is only temporary - such a temporary accomodation is permitted by Islamic law, until Islam gets the upper hand. Our Fourteenth Amendment guarantees to us the equal protection of the laws; Islam, however, makes a distinction between Muslims, other people of the Book (Jews and Christians), and polytheists and non-believers, all of whom must be subordinated and feel themselves subdued. Furthermore, under a strict interpretation of Islam, women are very much second-class citizens, essentially property of a man, either their father or their husband, occasionally of another male relative. Our Second Amendment guarantees us the right to keep and bear arms; under Islamic law, non-Muslims may not be armed. The list goes on...

Thus, to be a Muslim first - as any good Muslim must be - ultimately will place that Muslim in conflict with any oath to support, uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. The way out is: conversion from Islam, reform of Islam, or jihad against America.

Steven and I may disagree on some issues, but Steven is the kind of guy who makes America great.

Monday, December 27, 2010

L'Abidjanaise, Part 4

I ended Part 3 with this:

Where have we seen this pattern before? Allegations of thuggery on the part of the established government, the will of the people supposedly defied, and an international force sent in to impose an internationally-accepted solution...

Does that sound like the Balkans beginning in the 90's? And what was that eventually all about? The US supported (and continues to support, strongly) Islamic militant groups tied to the very terrorists who have been attacking us and whom we fight around the world: Al Qaeda.

It is a story I will not go into here, but briefly, one major reason for that support is control of the heroin trade. Heroin is produced in Afghanistan, and the US-led international force does nothing effective to stop it; it is trafficked to many destinations, including a key route through the Balkans - newly-independent Kosovo (or Kosova, or whatever). There are other reasons: the international force in the Balkans becomes a captive clientele for women forced into prostitution by our allies, ethnic Albanian organized crime; also, there are lucrative contracts to support the multinational forces there, and the Balkans is one route by which oil from the Caspian Basin can find its way westward. However, the basic idea that we are in the Balkans supporting allies of the very same terrorists we are fighting in Afghanistan and elsewhere makes no sense unless you factor in all this.

Back to Côte d'Ivoire (actually, we never left it): Gbagbo says the elections in the north were rigged. From Ivory Coast general strike fails in Abidjan, December 27, 2010:

The United Nations, the European Union, the US, the African Union and Ecowas all say that Mr Ouattara won the 28 November vote.

Our correspondent says there has been a small protest outside Nigeria's embassy in Abidjan against any West African intervening force, which would almost certainly come from Nigeria.

A group held up placards, one of which read: "Let Ivorians solve Ivorian problems", AP news agency reports.

[snip]

'Dangerous precedent'

But Mr Gbagbo, who has accused the US and France of leading a plot against him, insists he is legally president.

"Did the Ivorians elect me or not? That's the only question. I'm not looking for compromise. Truth is not looking for compromise. I want truth," he said.

[snip]

"In the year 2000, when I came to power, the same people fabricated stories about a massacre at Yopouogon, assassinations. We asked the United Nations to conduct an investigation. There was a report," he said.

Hmmm...

Here I have some pertinent excerpts from Resolution 1584 (2005) (italics in original):

The Security Council,

[snip]

Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,

1. Reaffirms its decision in paragraph 7 of resolution 1572 of 15 November 2004 that all States, particularly those bordering Côte d’Ivoire, take the necessary measures to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer to Côte d’Ivoire of arms or any related materiel as well as the provision of any assistance, advice or training related to military activities;

2. Authorizes UNOCI and the French forces which support it, within their capacity and without prejudice to their mandate set out in resolution 1528 (2004) and paragraph 3 below:

(a) To monitor the implementation of the measures imposed by paragraph 7 of resolution 1572 (2004), in cooperation with the group of experts referred to in paragraph 7 below, and, as appropriate, with the United Nations Mission in Liberia, the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone and Governments concerned, including by inspecting, as they deem it necessary and as appropriate without notice, the cargo of aircraft and of any transport vehicle using the ports, airports, airfields, military bases and border crossings of Côte d’Ivoire;

(b) To collect, as appropriate, arms and any related materiel brought into Côte d’Ivoire in violation of the measures imposed by paragraph 7 of resolution 1572 (2004), and to dispose of such arms and related materiel as appropriate;

[snip]

5. Demands that all Ivorian parties, including the Government of Côte d’Ivoire and the Forces nouvelles, provide unhindered access, particularly to equipment, sites and installations referred to in paragraph 2 above, to UNOCI and French forces which support it to enable them to carry out the tasks set out in paragraphs 2 and 3 above;

[snip]

12. Expresses its grave concern at the use of mercenaries by both Ivorian parties, and urges both sides immediately to desist from this practice;

The UN was concerned years ago about foreign mercenaries being involved in the conflict. Well, this has been common in African conflicts in recent decades.

Of course, I can't help but make a connection to the mujahideen imported to the Balkans after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan... all dressed up, and no one to fight, until jihad broke out against the Serbs...

Does the presence of foreign mercenaries equate to the presence of foreign interests? Sometimes... It did in the Balkans!

But, what could these guys be fighting over?

From Ivory Coast conflict exposes the darker side of chocolate (also Ivory Coast conflict exposes the darker side of chocolate), November 11, 2007:

But Ivorian cocoa also is tagged to darker images: child labor, corruption and accusations that it has fueled a low level war that began in 2002 and split the country into a rebel-held north and a government-controlled south.

The story of cocoa, some experts said, sums up the stakes in the fitful, five-year conflict.

"The whole Ivorian crisis can be translated into a struggle among different forces and the exclusion of part of the population in accessing these resources," said Roberto Rensi, an Ivory Coast expert at the European Union headquarters in Brussels. "It's a story we've seen in other countries - diamonds in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Sorting out cocoa would enormously decrease, if not deprive, this conflict of its fuel."


Cocoa beans?

They're fighting over cocoa beans??



Chocolate lovers everywhere have reasons to be nervous about the political turmoil in Ivory Coast. The West African nation produces nearly 40% of the world's raw cocoa.

And without cocoa, of course, there would be no chocolate.

Already the wholesale price of this crucial raw ingredient in one of the planet's favourite foods has doubled in the last four years.

And that was before the single largest producer of the commodity began its recent slide towards conflict.

So will Ivory Coast's problems push up the price of a bar of chocolate in the shops?

In some respects they already have.

The current stand-off between incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara, the man held by the United Nations to have won recent elections, follows years of tensions.

'Sapped confidence'

"The tensions have starved Ivory Coast of investment and sapped the confidence of cocoa growers," Laurent Pipitone, an expert in economic issues at the London-based International Cocoa Organisation, told the BBC.

"It takes three years for a cocoa bush to become productive after it's been planted," he says.

With the political outlook uncertain, farmers in Ivory Coast have been less willing to take the financial risk and put in the effort required to grow more cocoa, which means the country's productive capacity has gone into gradual decline.

This has been one reason why world cocoa prices have risen in recent years.

But intriguingly, the general view among analysts seems to be that the latest escalation of political tension will not make matters much worse than they already are.

That is partly because of the nature of cocoa production. Ivory Coast's crop is produced by thousands of independent small farmers.

The chances are that in the short term they will carry on working, whatever the political environment.

"The farmers need the income," explains Mr Pipitone.

"They may stop planting new cocoa plants but they won't stop producing with what they've already got," he says.

He also believes the growing political crisis will not stop the farmers getting their products to market.


Well, there's money in cocoa... I guess it's as good a thing as any to fight over.

And, I wonder how many of those independent farmers will continue to be independent after Ouattara is put into power by the international community.

Frankly, I wonder if business interests aren't behind this: Big business has its media stir us up against Gbagbo and in favor of Ouattara; the international community forces Gbagbo from power, and installs Ouattara; once in power, Ouattara institutes land reforms as cover for a land grab to place the cocoa under firmer control of some international cocoa cartel.

And then, I think the land grab by the cocoa cartel itself is cover for another story.

From Resolution 1842 (2008)

Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,

1. Decides to renew until 31 October 2009 the measures on arms and the financial and travel measures imposed by paragraphs 7 to 12 of resolution 1572 (2004) and the measures preventing the importation by any State of all rough diamonds from Côte d’Ivoire imposed by paragraph 6 of resolution 1643 (2005);

Diamonds... once busted, the initial thing these guys will plead guilty to is taking control of the world's cocoa market.

But I'm betting part of that land grab will center around diamonds. I think that is the conspiracy within a conspiracy.

Ah, but what is inside that?

L'Abidjanaise, Part 3

In Part 1, we considered the recent history of Côte d'Ivoire, and saw how a November election intended to reunify the country instead set the stage for a violent division.

In Part 2, we began looking at how the division began to spawn violence, with claims that death squads and mercenaries are on the loose supporting President Gbagbo, who is recognized by the international community as the loser of the recent election, but who still retains power.

First, let us consider an economic effort to oust Gbagbo. From Invasion Threat As 14,000 Flee Ivory Coast, dated December 27, 2010:

Presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara called for a nationwide general strike that would shut the country down until internationally isolated incumbent Mr Gbagbo cedes power.

Gbagbo

Next, we consider how the strike is working; from Ivory Coast general strike fails in Abidjan, December 27, 2010:

Residents of Ivory Coast's main city of Abidjan have largely ignored calls for a general strike to force the incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo to cede power.

The BBC's John James says the plan for a "dead city" came a little late in the day and many went into work as normal.

The strike has been more effective in the north of the country where there is more support for Mr Gbagbo's rival Alassane Ouattara, he says.

Mr Gbagbo says November's disputed election was rigged in the north.

The election results have been accepted by the international community, which had observers throughout the country during the election.

Yet, President Gbagbo says the election was rigged in the northern part of the country, which is not under government control, but rather under the control of rebel groups. Also, the northern part of the country is generally Muslim, while the southern part is more Christian, and the northern part is where challenger (and internationally-recognized President-elect) Ouattara supposedly won, while the southern part supposedly supported incumbent Gbagbo.


The current strike was far less effective in the south, even in areas that supported Ouattara. There is some hope that it will be more effective in coming days.

Meanwhile, The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is warning that if Gbagbo does not yield power to Ouattara, military force will be used. Back to Invasion Threat As 14,000 Flee Ivory Coast, dated December 27, 2010 (links in original):

Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo is facing renewed international pressure to quit or "face force", as thousands of Ivorians flee the chaos of their homeland.

In a sign of mounting determination to force Mr Gbagbo out, three leaders of the West African regional bloc Ecowas are due to fly to Ivory Coast on Tuesday.

The presidents of Benin, Sierra Leone and Cap Vert will tell Mr Gbagbo "that he must step down as quickly as possible or face legitimate military force".

Ecowas president James Victor Gbeho said the group was making "an ultimate gesture" to Mr Gbagbo to urge him to make a peaceful exit.

The 15-nation bloc made the decision at an emergency summit in Nigeria as fears mount that the dispute will rekindle a 2002-03 civil war.

As I pointed out at the end of Part 2, it is really easy to label Gbagbo a third-world dictator with hired thugs, and support an international effort, led by the UN, the US, the European Union, the African Union, and ECOWAS, to remove him from power - especially since it is mostly ECOWAS that would likely provide the troops to do so.

But, let us now consider an excerpt from Part 1:

We pick up with excerpts from a relevant June, 2009, Wikileak cable which addressed myths surrounding the elections that were then planned for late 2009:

3. (S) The Reality: There will not be an election unless President Gbagbo is confident that he will win it -- and he is not yet confident of the outcome.

In other words, the senior US diplomats on the scene felt in June, 2009, that an election would not be held unless Gbagbo were sure he would win.

The corollary to that is that if Gbagbo held an election, he must have been sure he would win.

Think about that.

Now, surprise, surprise! The election is held, and Gbagbo loses, claiming fraud in the rebel-controlled north, which essentially stole the election for the rebel-supported candidate.

And now, after what is possibly a stolen election, the international community is ready to intervene and impose on the people of Côte d'Ivoire the candidate that the international community says won the election.

Where have we seen this pattern before? Allegations of thuggery on the part of the established government, the will of the people supposedly defied, and an international force sent in to impose an internationally-accepted solution...

More to follow.

As 2010 Ends (What The Wolf Has To Offer)

Interesting... from Man faces criminal charges for reading wife's e-mail, under the category Technically Incorrect, dated December 27, 2010:

Specifically, according to the Detroit Free Press, 33-year-old Leon Walker is charged with using his wife's Gmail password to read her most intimate messages.

It so happens, the paper said, that having gleaned her password from a book his wife kept next to her laptop, Walker learned she was having an affair with her previous husband.

Walker reportedly claims that the laptop was one he had bought for his wife and that it was a laptop he used regularly. In addition, he told the Free Press that, having discovered the affair, he was concerned for his wife's son from her first marriage. (Leon Walker is her third husband.)

Clara Walker's second husband was reportedly arrested for beating her in front of her small son. So Leon Walker felt it right that the son's father should see the e-mails.

Mr. Walker is now facing five years in prison, though I wonder if the real reason he is being prosecuted is not that he read his wife's email, but that he passed it on to a third party without her consent. That is a critical issue, if not legally, then at least morally.



One thing he could perhaps do is to claim that he has been a Muslim, and has been hiding his religious affiliation for fear of persecution (Islamophobia). He could then murder his wife, and claim the honor-killing was justified under Islamic law, and that therefore any government prosecution would violate his civil rights under the First Amendment.

A little extreme? Maybe it won't hold up under US law (then again, maybe it will), but a very vocal segment of Islamic society will support him.

(Seriously, Mr. Walker, I'm sure you are a decent guy, I apologize for my joking suggestion that you do physical harm to your wife, and I wish you and your family the best with this current situation.)

In other developments, the ACLU is at it again.

Let me back up by pointing out that the ACLU was on the right side of the issue regarding the Sibel Edmonds case, although the ACLU seems to have an affinity for being on the wrong side of issues, and in the long run, I wonder if their support helped or hurt Edmonds.

Anyway, from ACLU Urges CMS To Ensure Access To Emergency Reproductive Care At Catholic Hospitals, dated December 24, 2010:

In a letter to CMS on Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union asked federal health officials to ensure that Catholic hospitals provide emergency reproductive care to pregnant women, arguing that refusal to provide abortions at religiously affiliated hospitals is a growing problem, the Washington Post reports. Five ACLU attorneys in the letter cited the case of St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, Ariz., which had its Catholic status revoked Tuesday after physicians in 2009 performed an emergency abortion to save a pregnant woman's life (Stein, Washington Post, 12/22).

The woman, a mother of four children, was 11 weeks pregnant and had pulmonary hypertension, a rare condition in which continuing the pregnancy often jeopardizes the life of the woman. Physicians concluded that the placenta had to be removed to prevent the patient from dying. The Catholic Church condemns direct abortion -- meant to terminate a pregnancy -- but permits indirect abortion in which fetal death is a secondary effect of another necessary procedure.

On Tuesday, Bishop Thomas Olmsted revoked St. Joseph's Catholic status because he said the hospital violated Catholic moral teaching by authorizing the abortion (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/22). In announcing his decision, Olmsted said that "subsequent communications" with St. Joseph's officials "have only eroded my confidence about their commitment to the Church's ethical and religious directives for health care."

If I understand this correctly, the woman got the procedure that saved her life. However, the Bishop had concerns about the hospital's commitment to the Catholic Church's pro-life position, so the Bishop revoked the hospital's Catholic status.

It looks to me like the issue here is not whether the patient gets the care she needs - because she did - but rather that the Catholic Church is pro-life, and the ACLU wants to pummel the Church for its position.

Continuing...

Letter Cites 'Heavy-Handed' Actions

ACLU said in the letter -- addressed to CMS Administrator Donald Berwick and his deputy Marilyn Tavenner -- that Olmsted's "drastic and heavy-handed actions send a chilling message to Catholic hospitals throughout the country, as well as their employees: If hospitals comply with federal law and provide emergency abortion care there will be consequences." ACLU added that the "dioceses cannot be permitted to dictate who lives and who dies in Catholic-owned hospitals."

While the organization "continue[s] to applaud St. Joseph's for doing what is right by standing up for women's health and complying with federal law," ACLU argued in the letter that "this confrontation never should have happened in the first place, because no hospital -- religious or otherwise -- should be prohibited from saving women's lives and from following federal law."

The letter was a follow up to a previous letter sent to CMS in July seeking a federal investigation of similar problems at Catholic hospitals across the U.S., including refusals to provide emergency contraception to rape survivors or perform abortions in cases of miscarriages. CMS spokesperson Ellen Griffith said that the original complaint is still pending and that officials have not yet reviewed Wednesday's letter.

Heavy-handed?



From Phoenix bishop strips hospital of Catholic status over abortion, other ethics violations, December 21, 2010 (I have added some emphasis to make a point):

Phoenix, Ariz., Dec 21, 2010 / 06:58 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Citing numerous and ongoing violations of Catholic teaching, including an instance of abortion, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix has declared that St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center can no longer call itself a Catholic institution.

The bishop announced his decision in a press conference at diocesan headquarters Dec. 21. It follows months of negotiations with officials for St. Joseph's and its parent company, Catholic Healthcare West.

These talks, aimed in part at getting the hospital to admit its ethical wrongdoing in performing the abortion, reached an impasse last month. The bishop had given officials a Dec. 17 deadline to reach an understanding. When that date passed, he extended the deadline to Dec. 21.

"They have not addressed in an adequate manner the scandal caused by the abortion," Bishop Olmstead said in making his announcement.

"Unfortunately," he said, the talks "have only eroded my confidence about their commitment" to the Church's Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services. These directives are a set of standards drawn up by the U.S. bishops to guide treatment in Catholic institutions.

[snip]

In a letter he wrote this past November that was leaked to the press on Dec. 15, Bishop Olmstead voiced frustration with the hospital's continued justification of the abortion and its refusal to cooperate with him.

"In effect, you would have me believe that we will merely have to agree to disagree," he told Catholic Health Care West president Lloyd Dean.

But this resolution is unacceptable, because it disregards my authority and responsibility to interpret the moral law and to teach the Catholic faith as a successor of the Apostles.

The bishop had been insisting that St. Joseph's admit to its ethics violation, commit to avoiding abortion under all circumstances, and retrain staff members through an institution of his choosing.

Ultimately, the negotiations failed and Bishop Olmstead said he had concluded that St. Joseph is not committed to following the teaching of the Catholic Church [and] therefore, this hospital cannot be considered Catholic.

He said that in the process of the negotiations he had discovered a pattern of serious ethical violations at both St. Joseph's and in the wider Catholic Healthcare West system in Arizona.

He said the abuses had been going on "throughout my seven years as bishop of Phoenix and far longer."

He faulted the institutions' participation in the so-called "Mercy Health Plan," through which it receives federal and state monies to provide health care services to the poor -- including abortion, birth control, and sterilization.

Although St. Joseph's does not provide these services itself, by setting up and managing the conditions under which other hospitals provide these services, St. Joseph's was "formally cooperating" in these unethical procedures, the bishop charged.

The bishop said that representatives of St. Joseph's and Catholic Healthcare West had acknowledged they understood that their administration and participation in the Mercy Health Plan made them morally responsible for its actions.

In his press conference, Bishop Olmsted also questioned the hospital's motivations and priorities, noting that revenues from its participation in the Mercy Health Plan will reach nearly $2 billion this year.

For the past 26 years that the plan has been in existence, he said, St. Joseph's hospital has made more than $100 million per year.

So now we see what is really going on here. The hospital is part of a health plan - in other words, it receives MONEY, which comes with strings attached. This is no longer a First Amendment issue about freedom to practice the pro-life Catholic religion, but it is now a contractual issue.

The Bishop is right to revoke the hospital's Catholic status - it sold its soul and departed from the Catholic fold, and now has opened itself up to bludgeoning by the Left, which would like nothing better than to force Christians to stop being Christians.

The Bishop is trying to shepherd his sheep, and preserve them until the Great Shepherd returns, but these sheep are too tempted by what the wolf has to offer.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sweden's Program Addressing Islamism: Cablegate Background

Copied from Wikileaks: A December 18, 2009, cable addressing Swedish programs to deal with radicalization in Sweden's Islamic community, reproduced in its entirety:

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 STOCKHOLM 000787

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/18/2019

TAGS: KISL PHUM PTER PINR PREL SW

SUBJECT: SWEDEN'S PROGRAM OF PREVENTING ISLAMIST RADICALIZATION AND EXTREMISM

REF: A. STOCKHOLM 779
B. STOCKHOLM 784
C. STOCKHOLM 667
D. STOCKHOLM 327
E. STOCKHOLM 457
F. STATE 127215
G. STOCKHOLM 633
H. PARIS 1714

Classified By: DCM Robert Silverman for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

1. (C) Summary: The Swedish Security Police (SAPO) have three specific areas of concern when it comes to combating Islamist radicalization and violent extremism:
(1) individuals who travel from Sweden to Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq;
(2) growing isolation and alienation felt by some members of immigrant-dense urban communities; and,
(3) evidence of terrorist financing and recruiting in Sweden.

2. (C) To counter radicalization and violent extremism, law enforcement officials engage in community-based policing to establish networks of trust among community leaders and community members. While there are no de-radicalization programs in Sweden primarily focused on Islamist extremists, de-radicalization of right-wing group members has been in existence since the 1990s. On counter-terrorism, SAPO has adopted a more visible and public approach to disseminating information about terrorist threats, and the government is debating proposed laws to curb terrorist recruiting and financing in Sweden. Post's Muslim engagement plan calls for strengthening ties with faith-based institutions as well as civic leaders.

3. (C) This is the third in a three part series on Muslim communities in Sweden. Part one describes demographic trends in Muslim-majority immigrant communities (ref A), and part two outlines immigrant integration struggles in Swedish society (ref B). End Summary.

-------------------------------------
RADICALIZATION AND VIOLENT EXTREMISM
-------------------------------------

4. (C) Radical Islamism and violent extremism are of increasing concern in Swedish society. "Radicalization" is viewed as an initial step toward the ideas and methods of extremism. Nalin Pekgul, chair of the Social Democratic Women's Federation and a practicing Muslim, cites harassment that some Muslim women in Sweden experience over their choice of clothing and anger toward Muslim youth who organize social gatherings with music as examples of radicalization in immigrant communities. Violent extremism has received growing attention primarily because individuals in Sweden have provided support for terrorism elsewhere.

-----------------
AREAS OF CONCERN
-----------------

5. (C) At a closed conference about countering extremism hosted by the Center for Asymmetric Treat Studies (CATS) on October 27, SAPO spokeswoman Malena Rembe (protect) outlined three primary areas of concern for counterterrorism experts and law enforcement agents working to prevent violence in Sweden: individuals, immigrant communities, and terrorist financing.

-- Individuals

6. (C) SAPO acknowledged that they monitor close to 20 individuals who have traveled from Sweden to other countries including Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. These individuals are suspected of traveling abroad for possible recruitment and engagement with terrorist organizations. While abroad, the individuals may attend Arabic language courses or Koran schools in order to strengthen their ties to terrorist activities in various parts of the world. Upon return, these individuals may use Sweden as a recruitment or logistical base, said Rembe.

7. (C) One example of an individual of concern is Mehdi Ghezali, a Swedish national of Algerian and Finnish decent, who was held in detention in Guantanamo Bay from 2001-2004 (ref C). Ghezali returned to Sweden, but in September 2009, he traveled to Pakistan and was arrested at a checkpoint along with three other Swedish citizens on suspicion of entering the country illegally. Ghezali was released in early October and returned to Sweden with consular assistance from GOS. He is currently living in Sweden.

8. (C) Malena Rembe also discussed Abu Qaswara, also known as Mohammad Moumou, as another example of a Swedish citizen who was under SAPO surveillance for many years. Qaswara came to Sweden in the 1980s, became a citizen in the 1990s and lived in Sweden until 2006. In May 2006, he traveled to Iraq and rose to a senior position in al Qaeda in Iraq. In October 2008, he was killed by U.S. and Iraqi forces in Mosul. He led an Islamist network which supported terrorism in Afghanistan, Iraq, and North Africa, according to media reports by SAPO spokesperson Tina Israelsson. SAPO believes that Qaswara used Sweden as his base of operations.

-- Immigrant Communities

9. (SBU) The January 2009 "Rosengard Report," a government-funded study, found that "perceptions" of Islamic extremism had increased in the southern tip of Sweden over a five year period. The controversial report, which garnered a good deal of media attention, interviewed city officials and leaders in a central district of Malmo called Rosengard, which is home to about 22,000 of the city's 280,000 residents (ref D). Sixty percent of Rosengard residents are born abroad, and 26 percent of those born in Sweden have parents born abroad. Only 38 percent of Rosengard's residents aged 20-64 are gainfully employed compared to the national employment rate above 70 percent.

10. (SBU) While the Rosengard Report concluded that there were few "radicalized people" in the area, the report suggested that radical individuals had a relatively large influence on those around them. The report outlined both "external" and "internal" forces that exacerbated radical thinking. External forces include individuals' anger with the war in Iraq and, more generally, what some Muslims view as an assault by the West on their religion. Internal forces refer to problems that individuals encounter in their communities such as overcrowding, segregation as well as inadequate orientation to life and customs in Swedish society (ref B).

-- Terrorist Financing/Money Laundering

11. (C) According to the Swedish Financial Police, there were 13,048 cases of suspected money laundering amounting to $1.2 billion in 2008, an increase of 116 percent compared to 2007. Companies in cash-intensive industries such as auto dealerships, real estate brokers and casinos continue to be less forthcoming with reports of suspected money laundering. Disrupting the ability for terrorists to raise money for terrorism is a high priority for SAPO, according to Rembe. In Sweden, legislation focuses on monitoring money laundering through financial institutions.

12. (C) In early July, the visit by Xasaan Xussen, a known spiritual leader for the Somali terrorist organization al-Shabaab, to the Bellevue Mosque in Gothenburg illustrates a emerging trend in recruitment from foreign individuals in Sweden (ref E). Xussen, who resides in Kenya, traveled on a Kenyan passport to Sweden, Norway and Finland, reportedly to recruit for new members and raise funds for al-Shabaab. The Somali Justice Minister Abdirahman Janaqoo then visited Sweden to speak out against such actions. (Note: The EU and UN do not currently designate al-Shabaab as a terrorist organization.)

-------------------------
"PREVENTION IS PARAMOUNT"
-------------------------

13. (C) Prevention of radicalization forms the basis of Sweden's public strategy for counterterrorism. Since 2002, Rembe stated that SAPO has worked in diaspora communities to create networks of trust among law enforcement officials and community members through community policing initiatives that have been called "dialogue police." Of particular interest is the Somali community because Somalis make up the largest group that tend to return to fight and because Somalis now constitute the largest group seeking asylum in Sweden (ref A).

14. (C) In a break with its long tradition of silence, SAPO has gone public more and more often in recent months over its concerns about extremists from Somali communities in Sweden (ref E). For example, following the visit of Xasaan Xussen to Sweden this summer, for example, SAPO comments featured prominently into media reports. Rembo stated that these actions signaled a shift in SAPO operations from a highly secretive organization to one that fosters community visibility.

15. (SBU) More broadly, Swedish officials have developed a coordinated approach to addressing terrorism. "Samverkans radet mot terrorism", a high-level working group headed by SAPO's Director General along with representatives from eleven government agencies such as financial and criminal police entities, the Armed Forces, the Swedish Migration Board, and customs and border control. The group was established in 2005.

-----------------
DE-RADICALIZATION
-----------------

16. (C) There are no de-radicalization efforts specifically targeting Islamic extremists in Sweden. However, Exit Sweden is one program used to de-radicalize right wing extremists. In operation since 1998, Exit Sweden has worked with some 600 individuals primarily from neo-Nazi groups. The program offers support to individuals who want to leave or have already left radical organizations. Ex-activists serve as group leaders to boost credibility of the organization, and core activities include rebuilding the individual's interpersonal network and developing social skills for the individual to re-enter mainstream life. Officials admit that de-radicalization is "very tough work" and takes a long time.

----------
NEXT STEPS
----------

17. (C) The Swedish approach to political radicalization and violent activities has primarily focused on prevention through social engagement rather than relying on the legal force of criminal statutes. However, in December the Ministry of Justice submitted a proposal to the Swedish Council on Legislation that would criminalize inciting, recruiting and training people who commit cts of terror. This proposal would bring Swedish law in line with the European Council's Convention on Terrorism and the existing EU framework for combating terrorism. Post will monitor the proposal and will report relevant developments septel.

18. (C) Post's Muslim engagement plan will continue to amplify the President's program of framing the U.S. - Muslim relationship in terms of common values, partnership, and mpowerment (ref F). Post is currently developing contacts in support of interfaith dialogue programs with religious leaders around Sweden, and we will focus our public diplomacy outreach beyond religious institutions to engage civic leaders from minority communities (ref G). Post will also reach out to Muslim individuals beyond the Stockholm metropolitan area through educational and cultural programs.

----------
CONCLUSION
----------

19. (C) As in other European countries (ref H), the major political parties in Sweden remain reluctant to discuss Muslim immigrant integration because of the potential to inflame xenophobic viewpoints. This posture has allowed the Sweden Democrats, a right-wing political party that advocates a nationalist agenda, to gain popularity. Recent polls suggest they will, for the first time, break the 4% threshold necessary to take seats in the Swedish Parliament in 2010. This development would, for better or worse, put the issue high on the domestic political agenda. SILVERMAN

This cable provides useful information on how Sweden deals with militancy and radicalization among its Muslim community, as well as insights into how the Obama Administration deals with the world's Islamic community. Consequently, I wanted to reproduce it, before it somehow goes offline, for my own reference and for that of my readers.

Sweden's Muslim Immigration: Cablegate Snapshot

Copied from Wikileaks: A December 15, 2009, cable addressing Muslim communities in Sweden, reproduced in its entirety:

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 STOCKHOLM 000779

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/15/2019
TAGS: KISL PHUM PTER PINR PREL SW
SUBJECT: SNAPSHOT OF MUSLIM COMMUNITIES IN SWEDEN

REF: A. STOCKHOLM 597 B. STOCKHOLM 457 C. 2008 STOCKHOLM 557 D. 2008 STOCKHOLM 298

Classified By: DCM Robert Silverman for reasons 1.4(b) and (d). 1. (SBU)

Summary: As in other European countries, Muslim communities in Sweden are fast-growing and diverse. Muslims represent between 2.7% to 4.4% of the total Swedish population of 9.2 million, some 250,000 to 450,000 persons. Prominent communities are from Iraq and other Arabic-speaking countries (200,000), Iran (100,000), the former Yugoslavia (70,000), Turkey (60,000) and Somalia (25,000). There are four officially sanctioned mosques and many more informal "corner mosques" throughout Sweden.

2. (SBU) This is the first in a three-part series on Muslim communities in Sweden. Part one describes demographic trends in Muslim-majority immigrant communities. Part two outlines immigrant integration struggles in Swedish society. Part three discusses Islamic radicalization and extremism as well as U.S. engagement programs with Muslim-majority communities in Sweden. End Summary.

--------------------
GROWTH AND DIVERSITY
--------------------

3. (SBU) The first Muslims arrived in Sweden as guest workers in the 1960s from Turkey, Yugoslavia and Pakistan (ref A). Over the next four decades, these numbers grew because of family reunification immigration policies as well as conflicts in countries such as Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Bosnia and Somalia. Sweden's generous asylum laws provide high levels of social services -- housing, health care, Swedish language instruction and employment training -- to the newly arrived.

4. (SBU) It is difficult to provide exact numbers of Muslims in Sweden today because the Swedish government prohibits collecting information on personal religious beliefs. Studies frequently suggest a range between 250,000 and 450,000, or about 2.7% to 4.4% of the total Swedish population of 9.2 million. Within the Islamic community, unconfirmed estimates suggest this number may be as high as 500,000. Academic reports assess that one-third of Muslims in Sweden are practicing (i.e., they follow most prescribed laws of Islam and regularly visit mosques) while the remaining two-thirds describe themselves as secularized (i.e., they do not follow the laws of Islam and believe in a separation between religion and state). Most Muslims in Sweden are Sunni. One 2007 EU report estimates that there are 60,000 Shia in Sweden.

5. (SBU) There are four officially sanctioned mosques and many more informal "corner mosques" throughout Sweden. Stockholm is home to the Grand Mosque plus three smaller mosques with predominantly Arabic-, Turkish- and Persian-speaking congregations. There is one Shia mosque in the small industrial city of Trollhattan in western Sweden, where the majority of foreign-born residents come from the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Lebanon, Bosnia and Syria. The Malmo mosque in southern Sweden attracts 55,000 and maintains an Islamic school and library.

6. (C) The Bellevue Mosque in Gothenburg follows the Salafi movement and is attended by many Somali individuals. In July 2009, Xasaan Xuseen, a spiritual leader of al-Shabaab, visited the Bellevue Mosque, causing concern that young people would be recruited to fight with al-Shabaab in Somalia (ref B). There is also a large Ahmadiyya mosque in Gothenburg. "Corner mosques" or informal places of worship are only a "minor issue" in Sweden, according to Swedish counter-terrorism expert Magnus Ranstorp (protect). A recent study by Mid Sweden University reports that 70% of mosques are open and willing to engage in integration programs for newly arrived Muslims. One important service these programs provide, according to the study, is to create networks between established Muslims and the newly arrived.

---------------------------
MUSLIM-MAJORITY COMMUNITIES
---------------------------

7. (SBU) The information presented on prominent Muslim communities in Sweden is based on official Swedish statistical reporting about country of birth, citizenship, and parents' citizenship(s). This data is commonly used to infer ethnicity and other information such as religious beliefs, although the figures reported here should be STOCKHOLM 00000779 002 OF 003 regarded only as estimates.

---
Iraq

8. (SBU) There are 110,00 Iraqis who live in Sweden today. This number increased significantly between 2003-2008 when over 40,000 Iraqis arrived as refugees, prompting Swedish officials to call for more countries -- including the United States -- to accept Iraqi citizens fleeing from war. Most Iraqis in Sweden come from Mosul and Baghdad, and many have high levels of education, which some scholars claim may result in less religious affiliation among both Muslims and non-Muslims. Statistics Sweden reports that 55% of Iraqi-born individuals in Sweden are men and 45% are women. The average age for men in this group is 33 and for women is 32. An estimated 27% (30,000) of the Iraqi population in Sweden belongs to the Chaldean Catholic, Syriac Orthodox or Syriac Catholic faiths (often identified collectively as "Assyrians"), which suggests that a disproportionate number of Iraq's Christian population (5%) came to Sweden (ref C). Kurds are also heavily represented among Iraqi immigrants to Sweden.

9. (SBU) Most Iraqis in Sweden live in the metropolitan areas of Stockholm (33,500), Gothenburg (12,00) and Malmo (11,000). Sodertalje, a city of 80,000 just south of Stockholm, is home to some 6,000 Iraqis, the majority of whom are Christian. In recent months, the Swedish Migration Board reports that Iraqi asylum claims are down 74% from 2008. The Swedish Government says that 293 Iraqi individuals have been deported and an additional 862 are currently awaiting deportation following a 2007 decision by the Swedish Migration Board declaring Iraq a non-combat zone. The Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter states that there have been three mass deportations of Iraqis from Sweden, which has caused tension between the two governments because Iraqi Migration Minister Abdul Samad Sultan announced that Iraq does not accept forced deportations. In December, the Swedish Migration Board announced that they would review the security situation of Christians in Iraq due to increased reports of violence, which may prompt a change in Swedish policy.

---
Iran

10. (SBU) Iranians number 80,000 to 100,000, although this community is often characterized as "culturally" rather than "religiously" Muslim because many individuals left Iran in the 1980s in opposition to religious leadership. In Stockholm, there are about 24,000 Iranians whereas Gothenburg is home to 12,800. An EU analysis estimates that one-sixth of this population is a practicing Muslim. Iranians tend to adopt some Swedish customs, such as more egalitarian views on gender relations and sexuality, according to one research study. Iranian immigrants also tend to be well educated -- 50% had earned high school diplomas and 20% had at least three years of university education at the time of their migration to Sweden. --- Former Republic of Yugoslavia

11. (SBU) In the early 1990s, about 50,000 asylum seekers from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, and Kosovo were granted temporary residence in Sweden, although several thousand returned home through repatriation programs in the late 1990s. Today, immigrants continue to come primarily from Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo based on family reunification, and the entire community has expanded to 70,000 individuals. An estimated 65% of Bosnian immigrants to Sweden hold Swedish citizenship, which is largely viewed by Bosnians as a pragmatic move to facilitate travel between the two countries. There are 12,200 individuals from the former Yugoslavia who live in the Malmo metropolitan region.

---
Turkey

12. (C) There are 40,000 to 60,000 Turkish immigrants in Sweden. According to research by Stockholm University's Charles Westin (protect), immigrants from Turkey might identify as Turks, Kurds or Syrians. Many Turkish Muslims came as labor migrants in the 60s and 70s when Turks were the largest and most prominent Muslim community in Sweden. While most intended to return, many now view Sweden as home and recognize that their children have grown up as Swedes. A new study appearing in the International Migration Review research journal shows that many Turkish immigrants still maintain strong social and cultural ties to their home country.

---
Somalia STOCKHOLM 00000779 003 OF 003

13. (SBU) There are 25,000 Somali immigrants who live in Sweden, of which 8,000 are Swedish citizens. With the decline of Iraqi asylum seekers, Somalis now represent the largest group of asylum seekers in Sweden. This population is a relatively young group -- the average age for both Somali-born men and women in Sweden is 29. There has also been a sharp rise in unaccompanied Somali minors to Sweden. Between January and June 2009, there were 355 Somali minors who applied for asylum compared to 345 who applied in 2008 (ref D). The Swedish Security Police (SAPO) report that around 20 Somali-Swedes have gone to Somalia to take part in or train with al-Shabaab; some have been killed in Somalia (ref B). SAPO is worried that interest in volunteering for such activity is increasing in Sweden.

---
Other Arabic-Speaking Communities

14. (SBU) There are prominent immigrant groups from Syria (24,000), Lebanon (23,000), Morocco (7,000), Tunisia (4,000), Egypt (3,000), Algeria (2,000) and the West Bank and Gaza (2,000). Among immigrants from Syria and Lebanon -- the largest of these groups -- many individuals identify with Christian denominations.

---
The Kurdish Diaspora

15. (SBU) The Kurdish diaspora in Sweden is estimated to be 50,000 - 60,000 individuals, many of whom originally came from Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey. In statistical reporting, Kurds are recognized by their country of origin, but they represent a cohesive diaspora in Sweden. Swedish Kurds are well organized through several friendship associations that promote Kurdish language instruction and cultural events.

---
Smaller Communities

16. (SBU) Immigrants from Muslim-majority countries including Pakistan (7,600) and Bangladesh (4,800) also live in Sweden, but these communities are considerably smaller than their counterparts in Norway and Denmark. The Eritrean community (7,800) is also growing. Dan Eliasson, Director-General of the Swedish Migration Board, announced in late September that Sweden will accept "a couple hundred" Eritrean and Somali refugees as part of the quotas agreed upon with the UNHCR. (Note: Sweden is the EU country that accepts the most quota refugees. Last year, Sweden took 1,900 of the 4,800 quota refugees who arrived in Europe.) Ethiopians (10,000) are represented by a small Muslim minority. Stockholm's Radio Negashi (88.9MHz), "The Voice of Ethiopian Muslims," broadcasts weekly programs on Islamic history and social issues.

-------
COMMENT
-------

17. (SBU) The tremendous diversity of fast-growing Muslim communities in Sweden provides unique opportunities for outreach and engagement to Muslim individuals with social and economic ties to the Middle East, Africa, and South Central Asia. BARZUN

This cable provides useful background information on the Swedish Muslim community - a group that has become an important player in Sweden, and is of growing concern internationally. The cable seems to focus on factual information, providing information not elsewhere available. Consequently, I wanted to reproduce it, before it somehow goes offline, for my own reference and for that of my readers.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Tale of a Tiger, Part 4

In Part 1, we briefly looked at China's move to increase influence in the Persian Gulf region, touching on China's espionage establishment and Beijing's theft of US nuclear technology, and Beijing's subsequent passing of that technology to Pakistan.




In Part 2, we looked at China's naval expansion in the direction of the Indian Ocean, and in Part 3, we looked at the growing threat China poses to the US Navy. Here, we begin to consider Chinese disputes with India.

First, we review The mystery of missing thousand miles in J&K by C. Raja Mohan, December 19, 2010:

As questions of territorial sovereignty return to the centrestage in Sino-Indian relations, Beijing has added a new twist to the long-running boundary dispute between the two countries by knocking off nearly 1,600 km from its definition of China's border with India.

A Xinhua report from Beijing earlier this week on the eve of premier Wen Jiabao's visit to India described the Sino-Indian border as nearly 2,000-km long. The Indian count of the operational border is a lot longer at nearly 3,500 km (not taking into account the line separating Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and China). The discrepancy is too large to be treated as an inadvertent error in Beijing.

So, where did the hundreds of kilometers disappear? China apparently no longer treats the line of nearly 1,600 km separating Jammu and Kashmir on the one hand and Xinjiang and Tibet on the other as a border with India.

That's it in a nutshell - China no longer considers the Jammu and Kashmir border as a border with India; therefore, China must consider this disputed area to belong to Pakistan.

China's recasting of the length of the border with India appears to be part of the Kashmir puzzle that Beijing has unveiled in recent years. The other pieces include the recent policy of issuing stapled visas to Indian citizens from J&K, the reluctance to host a visit by the Northern Commander of the Indian Army Lt. Gen. B.S. Jaswal, the dramatic expansion of the Chinese activity in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir that includes the modernisation of the Karakoram Highway and the plans to construct a new rail line and oil pipeline between Kashgar in Xinjiang and the Gwadar port on Pakistan's Makran coast.

Interesting...

A couple of years ago, a blogger pointed out the evidence of Pakistan's support for the Taliban in the mid-1990's as a means of stabilizing Afghanistan to open up Central Asia for trade via Pakistan, and specifically via the port facilities in Gwadar that China was helping Islamabad to develop:

All these warlords and their armies -- self-appointed toll-collectors -- are not good for any real business. To conduct business, there is a need for security along the highways, and for one understandable and consistent set of rules (and tolls, customs, taxes, etc.) by which to abide. That requires subduing all these warlords, and getting them to toe the line or back off.

Any group that wanted to undertake this task would have the support of the people, whose economy was hurting due to these armies of highwaymen, and of businesses -- not just local businesses, but any business that needed products to traverse Afghanistan.

In this light, it is interesting to note that one year earlier, Pakistan began feasibily studies for development of Gwadar. Gwadar was then planned to become, and is currently being developed as, a major seaport. From here, Central Asian products, especially oil and gas, could be shipped to world markets, and products from around the world could arrive for overland transshipment to the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union.

All of this assumes, of course, an overland route to Central Asia that is secure.

There is no point in bringing goods through Pakistan and then sending them to nearby Iran, when Iran has port facilities in its southeast that could be developed, cutting a few kilometers off the trip, and when one does not in any case know what kind of deal one might get from Tehran. Not only would such an Iranian option not benefit Pakistani business interests, but it would also not be as palatable to Western governments and Western business interests.

So, the alternative is to go north through Afghanistan, which has always been a crossroads of greater Asia, and Kandahar is perhaps the first and perhaps the biggest hub along likely routes on the Afghanistan side of the border.

In 1993 the feasibility studies of improving Gwadar as a major seaport begin, and in 1994 the Taliban magically appear in Kandahar, riding shotgun on a Pakistani convoy with a Pakistani consul.

Would it be too paranoid of me to suggest that perhaps China is / was / has been somehow helping to support the Taliban - hoping at first to have the Taliban stabilize Afghanistan, and later hoping merely that the Taliban would bog the US down in another Vietnam-style conflict?

The same blogger also addressed the significance of Karakoram highway upgrades:

The Korakoram Highway is, in many ways, very symbolic.


Winding its way from Islamabad and Rawalpindi northward, the Korakoram Highway skirts areas subject to Indian control as it makes its way to the Chinese border. From there, it skirts the Afghan and Tajik borders as it winds towards China's interior.

[snip]

As alluded to above in the news article about road upgrades in Tajikistan, the Korakoram Highway upgrade, significant by itself, is nevertheless part of a broader plan, reaching all the way to the development of new port facilities in Gwadar, as the Wikipedia article touches on:

China and Pakistan are also planning to link the Karakoram Highway to the southern port of Gwadar in Balochistan through the Chinese-aided Gwadar-Dalbandin railway, which extends up to Rawalpindi.

Why is this highway symbolic?

[snip]

The Korakoram Highway, built under Benazir Bhutto's father, seems to symbolize Pakistan's pragmatism, given the dynamics of international politics.

Now, we see China beginning to establish the legal framework to physically distance India, an enemy common to Beijing and Islamabad, from the important road being upgraded to connect China with Pakistan - a Pakistan which would be rejuvenated by increased trade from Central Asia via a friendly and stable Afghanistan, assuming the Taliban win.

And, even if the Taliban lose, the Indian frontier would still then be miles farther away from this important new line of communication connecting China to key ally Pakistan and all the way to the Persian Gulf - a line of communication the Chinese Army and Air Force could, with Pakistan's help, defend against both the US and Russia!

Stick around for Part 5!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Communists... ROFL!

I figured that, if I would do a post like this, it would be about a Muslim country.

I should have realized just how similar Communism and Islam are. This thing about a glorious socialistic future on Earth versus 72 virgins in Heaven is just eye-wash.

In its entirety, China says no to English in bid to preserve 'purity', December 23, 2010:

Chinese newspapers, books and Web sites will no longer be allowed to use English words and phrases, the country's publishing body has announced, saying the "purity" of the Chinese language is in peril.

The General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP), which announced the new rule on Monday, said the increasing use of English words and abbreviations in Chinese texts had caused confusion and was a means of "abusing the language."
Such practices "severely damage the standard and purity of the Chinese language and disrupt the harmonious and healthy language and cultural environment, causing negative social impacts," the body said on its Web site.

"Henceforth, the willful mixing of foreign-language phrases, such as English words or abbreviations in Chinese publications, creating words of vague meaning that are not exactly Chinese, or of any foreign language, is banned," it said.

GAPP said companies that violate the regulation would face "administrative punishment" without offering specifics.

The body left a small loophole, saying that "if necessary," English terms could be used, but they must be followed by a direct translation of the abbreviation or an explanation in Chinese.

The names of people or places in English must also be translated, the China Daily reported yesterday.

An editor at a Beijing publishing house told the newspaper that the new regulation could actually result in reduced understanding.

"The intention of protecting the Chinese language is good, but in an age of globalization, when some English acronyms like WTO have been widely accepted by readers, it might be too absolute to eliminate them," the editor said.

"Conversationally, people also use these words all the time, so the regulation could create discord between the oral and written uses of language," the editor said.

Huh?

My response follows...

Dear Santa,

My behavior this year has sucked.

But, enough about me.

How are things with you? Little Rudi behaving himself?

The Communist Chinese continue to show their true colors; it is not about Communism, it is about their own power - that is why they have abandoned Communism, and China is now a producing, lending country, as opposed to our own United State (notice the missing "s"?), which is becoming a failed national socialistic banana republic, and which borrows from China, a country where people are forced to work instead of being paid to not work in an effort to buy votes. (And who says democracy is the end-all and be-all?)

Power explains their desire to expand economically; it explains their desire to harness their economic expansion, and use it to drive a military expansion.

Power explains how the Communists in Beijing could destroy Chinese culture by inventing "simplified characters", and are now prohibiting the use of globalized words and acronyms from languages other than Chinese; it is not about preserving Chinese, it is about telling Chinese people what character they will read or write despite centuries of history, or what word they will neither read nor write despite decades of history.

What I would like for Christmas (and late is better than never on this request) is for the Chinese to overthrow their Communist government in Beijing (peacefully, if possible), and perhaps even reunify. I would like for the Chinese to discover what a great country they have, despite (not because of) the Communists.

As I think we could agree that this is for the best for all of humanity, I hope you can understand why, despite my terrible behavior year after year, and despite the fact that it has been a few years since I last wrote you, I take it upon myself to contact you now with this request.

Please pass on my best regards to the reindeer, and again, my sincerest apologies for the incident on Christmas Eve a few years back. Had I put two-and-two together... Christmas Eve, noise on the roof... well, I hope no one was too traumatized, and for whatever it's worth, I spent Christmas day on a bitterly cold roof patching bullet holes that year.

Merry Christmas!

EL

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

L'Abidjanaise, Part 2

In Part 1 we began examining the situation in Côte d'Ivoire, and finished with this:

As an official stepped outside, prepared to announce some initial results, which he claimed were approved by the electoral commission, representatives of the ruling FPI who identified themselves as members of the electoral commission ripped up the paper with the initial results.

The official and the journalists went back inside, only to have soldiers show up a little later and politely ask the journalists to leave.

Things went downhill from there.

We now consider Death squads reemerge in Ivory Coast as president contests election results by Marco Chown Oved, December 20, 2010 (reproduced with links found in the original):

When the truckloads of heavily armed and masked men arrive, the women in this Abidjan neighborhood descend into the streets banging pots and pans.

It's a community organized alarm system – often accompanied by barriers at either end of the block manned by local teenagers – that is part of a desperate attempt to protect residents against the reemergence of death squads since the Ivory Coast's disputed Nov. 28 election.

People are terrified in neighborhoods that voted for Alassane Ouattara, the man the international community is recognizing as the legitimate president of Ivory Coast. No one knows exactly how many people have disappeared in the nighttime raids, but local United Nations chief Choi Young-jin estimated at least 50 since Dec. 16, when police opened fire on pro-Ouattara demonstrators, killing between 10 and 30 people.

The government is still controlled by incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo, who has also claimed victory in the election. He denies any knowledge of the nighttime attacks, but security forces loyal to the man who refuses to relinquish power have been preventing UN investigation teams from getting to crime scenes and talking to witnesses.

The article then discusses the "hyenas", armed men who target the supporters of (former) President Gbagbo, and how the UN refuses to leave, despite Gbagbo's calls that foreign military personnel must leave the country.

Gbagbo


Internationally, Alassane Ouattara has been recognized as the winner of last month's election.

Ouattara


From Ivory Coast opposition wants President Gbagbo ousted by force, by Marco Chown Oved, December 22, 2010:

A top opposition figure called Wednesday for the international community to use force to oust Laurent Gbagbo from the presidency after the disputed election, as France urged its citizens to get out amid growing fears of civil war.

The United Nations and other world leaders recognize Alassane Ouattara as the winner of the Nov. 28 runoff vote. His prime minister, Guillaume Soro, urged the UN, European Union, African Union and others to consider intervening to push Gbagbo out.

"It is obvious that there is one solution left — that of force," Guillaume Soro told France's i-tele television channel. He added that "200 people have been killed by the bullets of Liberian and Angolan mercenaries" in Ivory Coast but he did not elaborate and the numbers could not immediately be confirmed.

The UN said Sunday that at least 50 people have been killed in Ivory Coast in recent days, and the UN chief also has expressed concern about the recruitment of fighters from neighboring Liberia.

We now pick up with an article from Al Jazeera entitled Gbagbo 'ready' for talks with rival, dated December 22, 2010:

The disputed president of Cote d'Ivoire, Laurent Gbagbo, has said that he is ready to talk to rival Alassane Ouattara, who was recognised by the UN and other international observers as the winner of Nov 28 presidential runoff poll.

The incumbent president has also invited a panel from the African Union and other countries, including China, Russia and the European Union, to re-examine the results of the polls, though he has vowed to stay on as president.

Gbagbo's demand that the UN and French peacekeeping forces leave the country remains in place, and on Tuesday he said that "the international community has declared war on Ivory Coast".

However, the UN Security Council has defied this and on Monday extended the mandate for the force - known as UNOCI - for six more months.

[snip]

[Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general] said UN role "is now even more critical'" for the stability of the West African country and the region.

'Mercenaries'

He added that the UN force "has also confirmed that mercenaries, including freelance former combatants from Liberia, have been recruited to target certain groups in the population".

Alain Le Roy, the UN peacekeeping chief, also said that he was concerned that groups linked to Gbagbo might be preparing strikes against the UN peacekeepers.

He added that mercenaries may have been recruited from Angola. UNOCI was attacked on Saturday and returned fire.

Open-and-shut case, right? Gbagbo is a thug, he refuses to give up power, and when the election goes against him, he brings in hired guns to help him stay in power.

The situation is summarized at the end of an article entitled An If Too Far, December 19, 2010:

It's all about money. For decades, migrants from neighboring countries were allowed in to help with the booming cocoa market. But when growth in the cocoa market stalled (and competition from Ghana and Indonesia increased), the Christian southerners sought to expel many of the Moslem migrants in the north. Fighting broke out in 2002, but neither side was strong enough to prevail. That is still the situation. There is a peace agreement, but no real progress towards achieving peace. After three years of delays, with Gbagbo hoping the nations supplying the peacekeepers would get tired of it all and just go, elections were finally held. Gbagbo lost, declared himself the newly elected president anyway, and ordered all foreign troops out. Northern forces are spoiling for a fight, to finish off Gbagbo and his nationalists once and for all.

The UN and U.S. have offered Gbagbo an exile free of war-crimes prosecutions, but so far, the offer has not been accepted. Gbagbo has another opportunity to survive all this. Russia has backed Gbagbo, and may be able to cancel the UN peacekeeping mandate, which expires at the end of the year. If the UN troops were withdrawn, Gbagbo believes he could force the French out, and defeat the northern warlords as well. That's a lot of "If's" and may be an If too far.

I wonder...