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UK Govt plan to weaken FOI

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December 2016

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I COMMENT

thePassion

www.pi-media.co.uk I December 2016

By Silkie Carlo

Policy Officer @ Liberty (Technology)

As Snoopers’ Charter becomes law, our message to the Govt: see you in court

The passage of the Investigatory Powers Bill through Parliament is a sad day for British liberty – but the fight does not end here. On 6 June 2013, when the Guardian reported that the NSA was practising mass surveillance of its citizens, I, like you, knew the world had changed. The revelations that followed – that GCHQ was building profiles of all internet users, using webcams to spy on innocent people in the privacy of their own homes, sifting billions of our emails, logging our location data, monitoring our calls and texts – remain profoundly chilling. No democratic state had ever secretly deployed suspicionless surveillance powers against its citizens, and remained a rightsrespecting democracy. Surely, the Snowden revelations were the breaking point for this dangerous trajectory? We thought this industrialscale spying was the result of a failure of the democratic process,

exercised without the knowledge of Parliament. With thanks to the extraordinary courage of Edward Snowden, Parliament and the public would finally have the opportunity to scrutinise the powers revealed and bring the state back into check. I, perhaps like you, thought 6 June 2013 was the beginning of the end for mass surveillance. But in November 2015, the Government presented an Investigatory Powers Bill that would not only legalise the extraordinary spying powers revealed by Snowden – it actually extended them to permit hacking, big data profiling, and total internet surveillance. Liberty and its members fought from the day the Bill was published to the moment it was passed to educate parliamentarians on the extraordinary technical, democratic and legal risks it poses – and warning of the attack it constitutes to our civil liberties in the modern world. But under the guise of counterterrorism, and in an environment

of devastatingly poor political opposition, the Government has now won the ability to spy on the entire population – a ‘world-leading’ precedent. A narrative of fear, suspicion and hostility is threatening our fundamental freedoms, and all human rights defenders must strive to embed civil liberties at the heart of our society if we are to defend human rights at the core of our laws and constitution. And I am optimistic. As both a member and staff member of Liberty, it is emboldening to be part of the campaign against state-sanctioned spying with such a diverse, skilled and committed membership as Liberty’s. Our fight is not over. Perhaps November 2016 is the beginning of the end for mass surveillance. The new Investigatory Powers Act is overtly incompatible with human rights law and ripe for challenge. Our message to the Government: see you in Court.

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UK Govt plan to weaken FOI www.pi-media.co.uk

I December 2016

Continued from front page

The British Government published its response plans to weaken the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) on the same day as the result in the US Presidential election was announced, it has emerged. The statement was published on Wednesday 9 November as part of an 18-page document entitled ‘Government Response to the Justice Committee’s Second Report of session 2016/17.’ In it, the Government announces that “a number of recommendations” of a widely-criticised review of FOI undertaken by a panel including former Home Secretaries Jack Straw and Michael Howard “are being carefully considered.” The recommendation referred

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to is that “legislation should be introduced to remove the right of appeal to the First-tier Tribunal.” This would significantly weaken the ability of those making FOI requests to overturn decisions made by the Government not to disclose information, where those decisions have been supported by the Information Commissioner. According to the Campaign for Freedom of Information, 20% of such appeals were successful in 2014. By removing the right of appeal to the Tribunal, the Government will effectively narrow the basis on which Government decisions can be challenged. In recent years, FOI requests by human rights charity Reprieve have led to revelations that the UK sought

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redactions to the US Senate’s report on CIA torture; and that British police have trained their counterparts in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere despite concerns that such training could contribute to torture and executions. Commenting, Donald Campbell, Director of Communications at Reprieve said: “It is alarming that ministers have resurrected these discredited proposals to water down Freedom of Information. The Government’s decision to bury this news in an obscure report published on the day Trump was elected is yet another attack on transparency. Ministers must abandon this shameful proposal to restrict the British public’s right to know what is done in their name.”


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I UK NEWS

I December 2016

Muslim children raises money for children’s ward

Madresah Taleemudeen from Batley have been collecting money for a project called ‘Kids For Kids’ which entails students from the Madresah to raise money for toys / gifts which would be given out to young patients at Dewsbury Hospital and Pinderfields Hospital. The Madresah (Supplementary

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School ) which is situated on Henry Street, Batley runs between the hours of 5pm to 7pm and although the Supplementary School facilitates the Islamic Education that the children learn about they also take part in enrichment programs and try to give back to the wider society we live in.

Zakir Daji, Headteacher at Madresah Taleemudeen said: “It is within the Enrichment that takes place in Madresahs that we stem out and feel this act of generosity will help put a smile on the faces of the young innocent children in Dewsbury Hospital and Pinderfields Hospital and offer a glimmer of hope and support during this difficult and daunting time when they are admitted in to Hospital. We also feel it enriches the children who study at Madresah to be able to help support local charities, organizations and institutions which offer a great service to us all.” “At a time when there is a lot of negativity in the world, it will be a great way to put smiles on little children’s faces, especially with Christmas around the corner which is supposed to be a time of happiness. “There is a myth that our community is divided but we aim to dispel that and help build communities together. “ The Madresah visited the respected hospitals with some of the students last month where they met with patients and donated gifts.

Brokers must offer more Shariah products: IIAL The Islamic Insurance Association of London (IIAL) has urged brokers to include more Shariah-compliant offerings in their product suite. The call comes after a survey conducted by the IIAL found 70

percent of potential buyers of Islamic insurance would purchase Shariahcompliant products if more were made available. The results were published in a white paper launched at the IIAL

Have you or your family been affected by PREVENT? If you have, then get in touch with PI by emailing us at info@pi-media.co.uk or calling: 07506 466 385

conference in Bahrain last month, which revealed that buyers viewed a lack of engagement by intermediaries as a hindrance to purchasing. www.pi-media.co.uk


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Is Scotland unique when it comes to successful Muslim settlement and integration? Stefano Bonino investigates in his new book Muslims in Scotland: The Making of Community in a Post-9/11 World

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Halal Butcher award for Mullaco Batley

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I December 2016

Homre grown lamb production and the potential value it adds to the Halal market has been showcased at an event in Manchester. AHDB Beef and Lamb ran live cooking and butchery demonstrations at the Muslim Lifestyle Expo recently, showing thousands of consumers the wide variety of lamb cuts and recipes available, and highlighting the range of resources it produces. This activity is just one element of AHDB Beef and Lamb’s year-round

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focus on supporting the Halal market. Recently this included running a competition where Halal butchers were asked to demonstrate their use of new butchery ideas and recipes that are suited to modern Muslim shoppers. The winner was judged by their uptake of AHDB information, such as utilising new cuts. The competition was won by Halal butchers and wholesalers, Mullaco Ltd, who have been using AHDB materials and trialling non-traditional

Halal cuts in their shops to good effect. Managing director of Mullaco, Yousuf Mulla, has welcomed the new support available from AHDB and continues to develop the range of cuts and recipes available for their customers to help increase sales. The growing domestic market for Halal sheep meat presents a significant opportunity for the sheep industry. Muslim consumers purchase around 20% of all sheep meat available in England, with consumption peaking around the Eid festivals and Qurbani. AHDB Beef and Lamb independent sector retail manager, Mike Richardson said: “The domestic Halal market is increasing in size and huge opportunities exist for the trade to further increase sales by offering products that better suit the needs of the modern Muslim shopper. These include products such as the mini roasting joints which are being promoted as part of our current advertising campaign. “We continue to conduct consumer research to examine attitudes and decision making among Muslim customers when purchasing meat. This will help us focus future activity on supporting the sector, underlining our commitment to developing opportunities for Halal and maximising opportunities for the entire supply chain.”

MPs to hold Blair to account over Iraq A cross-party group of MPs will made a fresh effort to hold Tony Blair to account for allegedly misleading parliament and the public over the Iraq war. The move, which could see Blair stripped of membership of the privy council, comes as the former prime minister tries to re-enter the political fray, promising to champion the “politically homeless” who are alienated from Jeremy Corbyn’s

Labour and the Brexit-promoting government of Theresa May. The group, which includes MPs from six parties, put down a Commons motion on last month calling for a parliamentary committee to investigate the difference between what Blair said publicly to the Chilcot inquiry into the war and privately, including assurances to then US president George W Bush. Backing the motion are Alex

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Salmond, the SNP MP and former first minister of Scotland; Hywel Williams, Westminster leader of Plaid Cymru; and Green party coleader Caroline Lucas. Senior Tory and Labour MPs are also backing the move, which reflects widespread frustration that the publication of the Chilcot report in July, after a seven-year inquiry, did not result in any government action or accountability for Blair.


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Chaplaincy pay battle reaches Supreme Court www.pi-media.co.uk

A Muslim chaplain fighting for equal pay to his Christian colleagues has taken his battle to the UK’s highest court. Mohammad Naeem, a chaplain

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for the Prison Service, appeared in the Supreme Court last month as part of a legal battle which has lasted five years. Naeem, supported by the union

Prospect, had been working as a prison chaplain for ten years when he originally launched an employment tribunal in 2011. He argued that he was being racially and religiously discriminated against during his work because he was being paid £5,000 less than his fellow Christian chaplains. The tribunal ruled against him and after failing in two subsequent appeals, Naeem’s case is now in the Supreme Court. The Prison Service has argued throughout that chaplain pay is based on time served and, because Islamic chaplains have only been employed since the 2000s, they have had less time to progress up the pay ladder than Christian chaplains who’ve been a part of prisons for decades. The Supreme Court judgement isn’t expected until early 2017.

Britain cyber security budget doubled, reaches almost £2 billion Britain has set aside £1.9 billion ($2.32bn) to beef up its cyber security measures over the next five years, two times the spending for the 2011-2016 period. The British Treasury Department made the announcement in a statement, noting that Finance Minister Philip Hammond would later on outline the new National Cyber Security Strategy. Under the new plan, London would protect itself against cyber attacks by developing automatic defense lines for businesses and citizens, while reinforcing its cyber workforce to counter the attacks. The money would also be used to set up a new Cyber Security Research Institute and an

Innovation Center in Cheltenham, with the former being tasked with gathering university expertise and the latter with helping cyber start-up companies grow. The new facilities would be working in tandem with Britain’s National Cyber Security Center which opened last month as part of the GCHQ spying agency and has 700 personnel. “We must now keep up with the scale and pace of the threats we face. Our new strategy... will allow us to take even greater steps to defend ourselves in cyberspace and to strike back when we are attacked,” the statement quoted Hammond as saying. The decision was hailed by British

Paymaster General Ben Gummer who said Britain was facing a wide range of cyber attackers. “No longer the stuff of spy thrillers and action movies, cyber-attacks are a reality and they are happening now,” Gummer said. “Our adversaries are varied - organized criminal groups, ‘hacktivists’, untrained teenagers and foreign states,” he added. GCHQ Director Robert Hannigan said in June that Britain’s major cities like the capital London were susceptible to hacking. Hannigan defended the agency’s log-running surveillance of internet activity, saying, it had resulted in seven attacks being foiled in the last 18 months.

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Muslim prison population ‘doubles’ in ten years

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I December 2016

The number of Muslims in UK prisons has doubled in the last decade, a new Parliamentary report has found, with concerns about imbalanced demographics among convicts. Tottenham MP David Lammy led the review that concluded that Black, Asian and other minority groups (BAME) were “disproportionately” represented in the English and Welsh criminal justice system. “Some groups - such as the Muslim population - do not fall within one ethnic category - but we know that the number of Muslims in our

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prisons has nearly doubled in the last decade,” said Lammy, in an open letter to the prime minister. The review was set up in January 2016 by the previous Prime Minister David Cameron who wanted to investigate why more minorities were being sent to prison than others. “If you’re black, you’re more likely to be in a prison cell than studying at a top university. And if you’re black, it seems you’re more likely to be sentenced to custody for a crime than if you’re white,” said Cameron. Some NGO’s have welcomed the

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findings of the report, which many feel to be under-reported in the national media. “The rise in the Muslim prison population makes for sensationalist headlines but how defendants end up there, how rehabilitation can be improved to cut reoffending rates, and the correlation between deprivation and crime are of comparably lesser interest,” said Shazad Amin, CEO of the Muslim advocacy NGO, MEND. Many experts argue that the government’s current “Prevent strategy” - aimed at identifying young people vulnerable to recruitment from terrorist, crime or extremist groups - is behind the incarceration of large numbers of young Muslims. The psychological research behind this policy was criticised however in an open letter, signed by 140 academics in September. “We are concerned with the implementation of ‘radicalisation’ policies within the UK Prevent Strategy, internationally referred to as countering violence extremism,” the academics said, in a letter led by author, Karen Armstrong. The Lammy review full report is expected in Spring 2017. www.pi-media.co.uk

Imam and Vicar star in new Amazon ad

Amazon in the UK has unveiled a new ad starring a real-life vicar and imam to promote its home delivery service while doing its bit for interfaith harmony. Interestingly, the ad is just in time for the Christian faith’s biggest time of the year – also known as the Christmas shopping rush. The ad stars Reverend Gary Bradley and imam Zubeir Hassam who run a church and a mosque in London. Apparently, Bradley was once a budding actor before dedicating his life to the cloth. The ad sees the two joking about

the wear and tear their bodies have had to take doing all that genuflecting and praying. They then both come up with the same idea for a surprise gift for the other – a set of kneepads. The agency responsible for the ad reportedly sought advice from both the Church of England and Muslim Council of Great Britain and the interfaith Christian Muslim Forum to ensure the ad’s authenticity and to ensure no one got upset. Interestingly, at the same time last year, UK cinemas banned ads by the Church of England that included the

Lord’s prayer. It was banned by the country’s ad standards board for fear it “carries the risk of upsetting, or offending, audiences”.


UK to sell off military lands for housing purposes

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British Defense Minister Michael Fallon says that government is auctioning off 56 of its military sites to reduce running costs and release more land for housing purposes. Speaking at the UK Parliament’s House of Commons, Fallon said that the sale of the sites was part of an estate review program which would improve cost management at his department. “By putting money where it is needed, we will provide better

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facilities to train our armed forces and deliver more stability for military families,” he said. The government had previously put on sale 35 other military sites. The new plan is estimated to save about £140 million in maintenance costs and free 32,000 acres (13,000 hectares) of land, enough to build 55,000 homes over the next 10 years, according to Fallon. The closures would include eight sites in Scotland and three apiece in

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Wales and Northern Ireland. The rest of the sites are located in England. Ten surplus airfields and five golf courses are among the military real estate to be sold. According to last year’s Strategic Defense and Security Review (SDSR), the UK government aims to reduce the size of its military estate by 30 percent before 2040. Fallon told lawmakers that the move was part of more than £4 billion in military investment. The UK government has been grappling with increasing rents and a shortage of affordable homes over the past several years. The announcement by Fallon angered various unions across the UK, who argued that the cuts would adversely affect the support for armed forces and damage morale. “We are opposed to these closure plans that throw the future into doubt for thousands of staff,” said Mark Serwotka, general secretary for the Public and Commercial Services union, BBC reported. He slammed the defense ministry’s “poor track record” in selling land and said the new plan “exposes how the Tories are simply paying lip service to the urgent need to address the housing crisis.”

Qatar gets green light to turn US embassy in London into luxury hotel Local authorities in London have approved Qatari Diar’s plans to convert the former US embassy building in Mayfair’s Grosvenor Square into a luxury hotel. The firm, the property development arm of sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority, bought the listed building in 2009. Later on this year, America will move its diplomatic presence from the site to Vauxhall. The plans approved by Westminster Council, will see two new floors added to the listed

building, with floor space nearly doubling to 45,000 square metres. Permission was granted despite opposition from a lobby group that had claimed that harm caused by the design of one of the additional floors would be substantial. “A hotel of this calibre perfectly aligns with the vision and ambitions for the neighbourhood and will help to ensure Mayfair retains its preeminent reputation as an outstanding place to live, visit and work,” said Qatari Diar UK chairman and CEO Sheikh Jassim Al Thani, in a

statement. “Qatari Diar takes its responsibility to the local community extremely seriously and we will continue to engage with all stakeholders and interested parties moving forward. We plan to begin work on site once the US Embassy moves to its new home at Nine Elms.” Earlier this year, Qatari Diar announced a $2 billion deal to create a home-rental business in London, making it one of the UK capital’s largest landlords. www.pi-media.co.uk


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Hate crimes against Muslims up by 67% in 2015, says FBI www.pi-media.co.uk

Reported hate crimes against Muslims rose in 2015 to their highest number since the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to FBI statistics released. Overall, the total number of hate crimes against all groups reported by law enforcement agencies to the FBI increased from 5,479 in 2014 to 5,850 last year. That remains far lower than the numbers seen in the early 2000s, but the FBI release comes amid numerous reports of attacks nationwide based on race and religion following the presidential election. The most recent reporting covers calendar year 2015, which included

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the terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, as well as Republican Donald Trump’s call for a ban on all Muslims entering the US All of those, however, did not occur until the final two months of the year. It’s not yet known whether Trump plans to implement such a ban now that he has won the presidency. Critics say his pledge has contributed to anti-Muslim sentiment. “We’ve seen how words from public figures like Donald Trump translate into violence,” said Mark Potok with the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups in the US Last year, there were 257 reported incidents of anti-Muslim bias

compared to 154 the year before, a 67 percent increase. The number of reported hate crimes against Muslims peaked at 481 in 2001. Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he was not surprised to see the large increase in 2015 and said he expects the trend to continue. “We saw a spike in anti-Muslim incidents nationwide beginning toward the end of 2015. That spike has continued until today and even accelerated after the election of President-elect Trump,” Hooper said. There have been reports of racist and anti-religious incidents around the country since the Nov. 8 election. According to the FBI report, the majority of hate crimes were motivated by bias against race or ethnicity. Of the 4,216 victims of a hate crime motivated by race or ethnicity, 52 percent were black, 18.7 percent were white and 9.3 percent were Hispanic or Latino. Crimes against Jews increased about 9 percent, while bias incidents involving sexual orientation were up 3.5 percent.

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Myanmar troops have killed 150 Rohingya Muslims, advocacy group says The Arakan Rohingya National Organization said that based on reports from the troubled region, at least 150 Muslims had been killed since. Ko Ko Linn, a senior official from the organization, said Myanmar’s government sought to cover up the killings by barring the media and aid groups from entering the area. The government has so far acknowledged the death of nearly 70 Rohingya Muslims and 17 members of security forces during the past days of fighting. Rakhine, home to a large number

of Rohingya Muslims, has been under a military lockdown since an alleged attack on the country’s border guards on October 9 left nine police officers dead. The government accused the Rohingya of being behind the assault. Soldiers have killed scores and arrested many more in their hunt for the alleged attackers. Myanmar’s troops have also torched hundreds of Rohingya homes over the past days. Rakhine has been the scene of communal violence at the hands of Buddhist extremists since 2012.

Hundreds of people have been killed and tens of thousands have been forced from homes and live in squalid camps in dire conditions in Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. The government denies full citizenship to the 1.1 million-strong Rohingya population, branding them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. However, many believe the Rohingya are a community of ancient lineage in Myanmar. According to the UN, the Rohingya are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. www.pi-media.co.uk


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I December 2016

US govt representative seeks to ban Muslim burka and veil in public

American Representative, Jason Spencer, wants to amend an existing law to criminalize wearing Muslim burqa and veil in public places in the United States. The law, dubbed the anti-masking law, was passed in 1951 to prevent Ku Klux Klan from committing acts of racism while wearing masks and hoods. The Georgia lawmaker is seeking to expand the law to include

women wearing burqas and veils in the US. The existing law reads: “A person is guilty of a misdemeanor when he wears a mask, hood, or device by which any portion of the face is so hidden, concealed or covered as to conceal the identity of the wearer and is upon any public way or public property or upon the private property of another without the written

permission of the owner or occupier of the property to do so.” Echoing the anti-burqa ban in France and other countries, Spencer wants to add a phrase that reads “For the purposes of this subsection, the phrase ‘upon any public way or property’ includes but is not limited to operating a motor vehicle upon any public street, road, or highway.” Edward Ahmed Mitchel, executive director of the Council on AmericanIslamic Relations in Georgia said in an interview with the Huffington Post: “The bill is a bad solution to a nonexistent problem. [These Muslim women] are not endangering themselves or anyone else. We have a new president, but not a new Constitution. The bill is unnecessary and unconstitutional, and we intend to oppose it if it goes forward.” The same news source also reports that the Georgia Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has received numerous and disturbing reports from children allegedly being the victims of bullying in schools following Trump’s win in the election.

Australia to open Embassy in Morocco to strengthen bilateral relations Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop announced in Marrakech her country’s decision to open an embassy in Morocco to further strengthen bilateral relations between the two nations. In a meeting in Marrakech with Salaheddine Mezouar, President of the UN Conference of Climate Change COP22, Julie Bishop stated that Australia has made the decision to open an embassy in Morocco’s capital. “We hope the opening of the embassy will usher in a new era in Australian-Moroccan relations,” said the Australian Minister, adding that Australia is hopeful that this step will represent an opportunity to increase bilateral relations, especially in terms

of renewable energy. Bishop went on to say that 30,000 Australian tourists visit Marrakech every year. She added that this number will continue to grow since Morocco “has stood out as a model of tolerance and stability.” Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs released a statement the same day announcing the decision to open its embassy in Morocco. “Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, has announced the Government’s intention to open an Australian Embassy in Rabat, Morocco, with the agreement from the Moroccan Government, as part of our commitment to expanding Australia’s diplomatic network,” said the

communiqué. “An embassy in Morocco is an important addition to Australia’s diplomatic network in Africa, a region of considerable commercial interest to Australia,” it added.

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American Muslim and Jewish leaders unite to fight racism www.pi-media.co.uk

With Donald Trump being president elect, concerned American Muslim and Jewish leaders have joined together to create the Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council (MJAC). The Islamic Society of North America and the American Jewish Committee have created a joint council to address issues that have arisen over recent years and became a focal point during the recent election campaign. A recent Upworthy article states that, “The council includes representatives from the worlds of business, politics, and

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faith.” The council has also crossed the political divide, receiving the endorsements of former Senators Joe Lieberman (D-Connecticut) and Norm Coleman (R-Minnesota). The primary function of the council will be to address issues affecting both the Jewish and Muslim communities. To that end, it has created a three-part mission in, “Combatting anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, celebrating the contributions of Jews and Muslims to American civic life, and pushing for expanded rights for religious

and ethnic minorities,” according to Upworthy. The announcement of this bi-partisan council comes at a pivotal time in the U.S. political sphere, where many are feeling that their beliefs and fundamental identities are at risk. Given the sharp increase in the reports of hate crimes just since the election of Donald Trump to the office of President, these fears certainly appear to be well founded. Overall, an FBI report reveals that 5,850 hate crime incidents were reported in 2015, a 6.8% increase from 2014. Anti-Jewish crimes rose 9% and anti-Muslim crimes grew 67%. On top of this general trend, recent reports have shown at least 300 cases of hateful harassment or intimidation since Election Day. Current and future choices made by President-Elect Trump for cabinet and advisory positions are justifiably causing for fear among minority groups. Upworthy also reports that his recent choice of Stephen Bannon, “A far-right publisher whose website has traded in anti-Semitic and anti-Islamic rhetoric,” has continued to raise concerns and fears.

20 million children need immediate aid, UNICEF says

More than 20 million children in the Middle East need immediate help, the UN children’s agency said. Last month was Universal Children’s Day and UNICEF has called for the rights of every child to be protected. “More than 20 million children, who have been affected by wars and clashes in the Middle East, particularly Syria, Iraq and Yemen, need immediate humanitarian aid,” Juliette Touma, UNICEF’s Middle East and North Africa communications chief said. She added: “We are worried about the fate of more than 100,000 children in southern Aleppo. They remain inbetween heavy bombardment, siege and violence.” According to UNICEF, 4.7 million

children are waiting for aid in Iraq while 10 million children were in a “terrible” situation in Yemen and in need of humanitarian aid. “Unrestricted access should be allowed for charitable organizations to reach children who are in need,” Touma said in comments aimed at the international community. Meanwhile, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake marked Children’s Day by condemning the violation of children’s rights. “They’re being violated in eastern Aleppo and other besieged areas across Syria, where children are cut off from food, water and medical care,” he said in a statement. “They’re being violated in Yemen, where children are dying because we cannot reach thousands of them

with therapeutic foods to treat acute malnutrition -- and where cholera now threatens more young lives… “They’re being violated around the world, in every country, wherever children are the victims of violence, abuse and exploitation.” Lake also called for access in Yemen following the introduction of a 48-hour cease-fire. “Eighteen months of conflict have led to the deaths of well over 1,000 children and left millions more without access to basic care and at risk of imminent death,” Lake said. He added: “We urge all parties to the cease-fire to allow unhindered humanitarian access for the delivery of life-saving supplies and services to all children in need. It cannot be in anyone’s interest to endanger the future of Yemen -- its children.”


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I December 2016

Israeli parliament supports bill legalizing illegal settlements

Israeli lawmakers have given their initial approval to a controversial bill that would grant legal status to settlement outposts illegally constructed on privately-owned Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank. The measure, promoted by farright members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling coalition, passed its first reading in the Israeli parliament (Knesset) with

58 votes supporting the bill and 50 opposing it. The measure, which requires three more full parliamentary votes to become law, would apply to some 2,000 to 3,000 illegal settler homes in the West Bank, including the Amona outpost that is under a court order to be demolished. The approval of the bill came three days after Israel’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation

unanimously endorsed the draft legislation. However, US State Department spokeswoman, Elizabeth Trudeau, denounced the move as “unprecedented and troubling,” saying Washington is “deeply concerned” about the measure and hopes “it does not become law.” Netanyahu initially opposed the bill but later backed it. Some reports said he had reached a compromise with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon - who had earlier threatened not to vote - that could see the measure stall. Over half a million Israelis live in more than 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem al-Quds. This is while the international community considers all Israeli settlements to be illegal, whether they are authorized by the regime or not. The Tel Aviv regime has defied international calls to stop its illegal construction activities, with its settlement expansion being among the main reasons behind the collapse of the last round of the so-called Middle East peace talks in 2014. www.pi-media.co.uk

Pakistan to deport ‘Gulen-linked’ Turkish teachers Pakistani authorities have ordered dozens of teachers affiliated with US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen to leave the country ahead of a visit to Islamabad by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. School and government officials confirmed that 130 teachers from the private PakTurk International Schools and Colleges, along with other school staff and their families, have to leave Pakistan. The schools and colleges are supported by Gulen, who the Turkish government blames for having masterminded the failed coup of July 15. Gulen, who runs an extensive network of schools and cultural centers in various countries, denies

any involvement. Erdogan hailed Pakistan’s decision before departing for Islamabad, saying the deportations “show how much importance Pakistan attaches” to Turkey’s purge of people linked to Gulen. Turkey has arrested over 37,000 people and discharged more than 100,000 others from the army and public institutions since Ankara launched a massive crackdown on suspected coup plotters. The widening clampdown has been met with huge international ire, as many in the West accuse the government of acting beyond the rule of law. The authority in charge of Gulen’s schools decried as “abrupt”

Pakistan’s deportations, saying the decision could affect up to 450 staffers and family members and thousands of students in the country. “We want to ensure the students and their parents that educational activities at all branches of PakTurk educational institutions across Pakistan are continuously operational,” said a statement on the website of PakTurk International Schools and Colleges. A local official said about 10,000 students in 28 schools and colleges around Pakistan would be affected by the deportations. He said local staffers had replaced the deported teachers in the schools. www.pi-media.co.uk


www.pi-media.co.uk

I December 2016

WORLD NEWS

I 17

Over 10,000 children in Mosul in urgent need of aid

Some 20,700 people have been displaced since the operation to liberate the Iraqi city of Mosul from terrorists started on 17 October 2016, says the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimating that 9,700 of them are children in urgent need of assistance. “I met mothers and children who were so relieved to have come out alive; it was clear that they had gone through so much,” said Pernille Ironside, UNICEF’s Chief of Field Operations in Iraq, following a visit to Nargizlia screening site. The Iraqi Government and its international partners are fighting

to retake Mosul from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/ Da’esh) while the UN agencies and its partners are stepping up humanitarian assistance for the displaced. Many of the new arrivals come in dusty, exhausted and uncertain about what is going to happen next. Some are even barefoot. UNICEF reaches out to the families, checking on the condition of their children and finding out if any of them are missing. “As the situation continues to unfold, it is important that we remain nimble and that we adapt our response to best assist children and

families who have been through so much over these past years”, Ms Ironside said. Upon arrival, families receive clean drinking water and snacks that include a nutritional supplement for children. Children from six months to 15 years old are immediately immunised against polio and measles – many of them for the first time in two years – by a UNICEFsupported local government team. Families spend up to half a day in screening sites before being transferred to an emergency camp where they are assigned shelter. There, UNICEF ensures that water, showers and clean latrines are available. Children are screened for malnutrition, and treated accordingly, and UNICEF-supported mobile teams provide psychological care for children. UNICEF is also preparing temporary learning spaces and recreational activities for children in the camps. While many people have fled and are staying in camps, others have chosen to remain in their newly retaken villages. UNICEF is adapting its response to reach all populations in need.

Court overturns Mursi’s death sentence, orders retrial Egypt’s Court of Cassation overturned a death sentence against deposed President Mohammed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood and ordered a retrial. Mursi was sentenced to death in June 2015 in connection with a mass jail break during Egypt’s 2011 uprising. Mursi, democratically elected after the revolution, was overthrown in mid-2013 by then-Gen. Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, now the president, following mass protests against his rule, and immediately arrested. Last month court ruling means

that Mursi is no longer under threat of execution, although he is serving three lengthy jail sentences. Abdel-Moneim Abdel-Maksoud, the Brotherhood’s lawyer, said the Court of Cassation had applied the law correctly. “The ruling was expected because (Mursi’s conviction) was legally flawed, and we are waiting for the retrial.” Mursi is already serving a 20year prison sentence for a conviction arising from the killings of protesters during demonstrations in 2012. He has also been sentenced to 40 years

on charges of spying for Qatar and to life imprisonment on charges of spying for the Palestinian Hamas group. The government deems the Brotherhood, Egypt’s oldest opposition movement dating back decades, a terrorist group. The Brotherhood says it is committed to peaceful activism. Activists and rights groups at home and abroad have said many or all the mass trials have been legally flawed. The Egyptian government says the judiciary is independent and that it never intervenes in its work.


350 Palestinian minors held in Israeli jails 18

I WORLD NEWS

At least 350 Palestinian children are languishing in Israeli jails, a local Palestinian NGO said Saturday. “Israeli authorities are holding 350 Palestinian children aged between 12 and 18,” the Palestinian Prisoners Society said in a statement on

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the occasion of the UN Universal Children’s Day. It said twelve females were among jailed children in Israeli prisons. According to the NGO, more than 2,000 Palestinian minors have been

detained by Israeli forces since 2015. “Israel has committed several violations against Palestinian children, including firing live ammunition against them, detaining them and [keeping them] without food and water in addition to beating and intimidation,” it said. The NGO cited that Israeli investigators used threats to extract confessions from Palestinian children. It said some Palestinian children were slapped with life sentences by Israeli courts, while others were sentenced to 10 years in prison. The NGO went on to call on international organizations, particularly the UNICEF, to intervene to protect Palestinian children in Israeli prisons. According to Palestinian official figures, more than 7,000 Palestinians are currently held in detention facilities throughout Israel. AA

Turkey launches website to report Islamophobia in games Digital games are being used as tools by the West to spread Islamophobia, Turkish Youth and Sports Minister Akif Cagatay Kilic said. Turkey has started a mechanism to report Islamophobic content in digital games, Kilic told Anadolu Agency. Kilic said video games with Islamophobic content can now be reported at www.oyunlardaislamofobi. com. The minister highlighted the dangers of Islamophobic content in digital games. “Digital games are now being used as a tool to spread Islamophobia by the West. Therefore, we have stepped in and taken action to save our children and youngsters from this trap in digital games. We have started awareness about this issue as a first step. We have prepared a brochure in this context,”

Kilic said. The minister said Islamophobic content in popular games was harming children. “We have determined that our [Quran] holy book and places were professionally placed in these games’ visuals as a perception of fear and violence,” he said. “Violence, terrorism and Islamophobia have been imposed on youngsters through digital games and an ugly perception is being created against our holy religion by weaving it into our children’s subconsciousness,” the minister said. Kilic also emphasized that this issue must be seriously tackled around the world, including by global bodies such as the United Nations. “We have found many negative contents [in digital games] such as

blowing up of our [mosque] minarets, use of the Azaan [Muslim call for prayer and] references to the door of Kaaba, verses of Quran and the names of Allah,” Kilic said. The minister noted the digital gaming sector in Turkey is worth $440 million; globally, the figure is $100 billion. “As far as I know, there are 1.5 billion digital gamers in the world. This figure is around 22 million in Turkey. These people are spending 39 million hours on games per day,” Kilic said. He said video game developers using Islamophobic content would also be approached and warned against such material in their games. He hoped the firms would heed their warnings and take the necessary steps.


US guilty of war crimes in Afghanistan: ICC

www.pi-media.co.uk

I December 2016

US forces may have committed war crimes in Afghanistan from 2003-2004 by torturing prisoners in what appeared to be a deliberate policy, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has said. Unveiling the results of a lengthy initial probe into atrocities in Afghanistan, prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said she would decide “imminently” whether to ask to launch a full-blown investigation -- and take the world’s only permanent war crimes court into uncharted territory. But for the first time, Bensouda highlighted allegations of “war crimes of torture and related ill-treatment, by US military forces deployed to Afghanistan and in secret detention facilities operated by the Central

WORLD NEWS I 19

Intelligence Agency”. There was a “reasonable basis to believe that” during the interrogation of detainees, “members of the US armed forces and the US Central Intelligence Agency resorted to techniques amounting to the commission of the war crimes of torture” as well as cruel treatment and rape. If Bensouda does ask judges to authorise a full-scale inquiry, the tribunal would be taking on its most complex and politically controversial investigations to date. The former administration of president George W. Bush authorised the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding after the September

11, 2001 attacks on the United States. Their use was abolished by President Barack Obama when he took over the White House in January 2009. War crimes allegedly carried out by US forces were “not the abuses of a few isolated individuals,” Bensouda insisted in her annual report to the 124 states that belong to the ICC. Rather it appeared “these alleged crimes were committed” as part of “a policy or policies aimed at eliciting information through the use of interrogation techniques involving cruel or violent methods”. The aim was to “support US objectives in the conflict in Afghanistan”. Detailing her office’s initial findings, Bensouda said “at least 61 detainees” were subjected to “torture (and) cruel treatment” by US armed forces in Afghanistan between May 1, 2003 and December 31, 2014. “Members of the CIA” also appeared “to have subjected at least 27 detained persons to torture, cruel treatment... and/or rape on the territory of Afghanistan” as well as in secret detention centres in Poland, Romania and Lithuania between December 2002 and March 2008.

Queensland Church offers prayer room to Muslims

The Good Shepherd Catholic church in the remote Queensland mining town of Mount Isa has offered space in its parish building to the local Islamic community for use as a prayer room. “Over the years a number of people have asked ‘Is there a place or a space in Mount Isa for a prayer room?’” Father Mick Lowcock said. “A couple of the people who I know fairly well approached me and sort of said ‘Is it possible for us to use one of the rooms?’” Father Lowcock said his decision to allow the Islamic community to use the space did not come without

contention. “I suppose one of the issues was, do you make it public?” he said. “You don’t want any backlash against them or against us, and there have been some concerns raised by people — even someone from out of town has rung me about it.” Jahed Chowdhury is a local Muslim. He grew up in Bangladesh but has been in Australia for the past 14 years. Mr Chowdhury said, before the church opened its doors, the Mount Isa Islamic community improvised locations for prayer.

“Before we got a room over here we used to go to some other friend’s place or any other place — we used to pray there,” he said. “So since we got this one, we come here all the time so that’s very fortunate for us. Father Lowcock said, as much as the move was motivated by the need to find a space for locals to pray, it also demonstrated a symbolic gesture to bring the town closer. And he encouraged other religious leaders to follow suit. “All the religion is spreading the peace — nothing wrong with that, so we should love each other.”


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SPORT

www.pi-media.co.uk I December 2016

Ethnic minority coaches still not getting jobs in English football says report

Two years after they called for a target of one in five coaches to come from an ethnic minority background by the end of the decade, a new report from the Sports Peoples Think Tank, the Fare network and Loughborough University reveals little progress towards that goal. The report published last month shows that the numbers of Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) individuals in coaching roles in English football have remained the same since 2014 with only 4.1% of almost 500 positions held by minorities leading to the “depressing reality that if you aspire to be a manager or coach from those communities you are at a disadvantage”. The report also monitors progress against a series of recommendations made in 2014 to improve

representation levels. The findings reveal slow progress and procedural shortcomings in training, recruitment and support. Out of six key recommendations the only significant change made to address the under-representation of minorities in coaching and management after the English Football League introduced new recruitment practices – similar to the Rooney Rule in the US – for coaching positions in academies and a voluntary recruitment code in firstteam football. The report sets out the numbers of BAME coaches in employment in six categories of coaching positions. The 2016 numbers show that 25% of all BAME coaches in senior coaching positions are employed at just two English Football League (EFL) clubs, Queens Park Rangers and Brighton

Hove Albion. The research is the third of five annual reviews to be produced until 2018, with the first report in 2014 an overview of the situation in France, England and the Netherlands. Jacco van Sterkenberg of Erasmus University who was a leader of the original research project, The Glass Ceiling in European Football commented, “According to coaches that I have interviewed racial/ ethnic prejudices seem to be alive still and this also applies to boardrooms within football clubs across Europe. Black players are considered good athletes but are not associated with managerial qualities such as leadership.” The report says that Championship club Wolves, one of the clubs that volunteered to implement the new EFL code, failed to follow the process appointing Walter Zenga as manager. The recommendations of the report include: Call for a target of 20% of black coaches to be recruited by 2020 Recommend better co-ordination between the FA and the Leagues Make the case for an independent body to be appointed to monitor the work of the football authorities Targets to be set by the FA on the number of coaches to be qualified Coaches to be offered support in addressing closed networks

Barcelona FC drops Qatar Airways as shirt sponsor The Qatar Airways brand will not appear on the shirts of one of the world’s most successful football teams from the end of this season. Barcelona FC, the current Spanish champions, has signed a sponsorship deal with Japanese e-commerce firm Rakuten, in a deal worth $58 million a year. “This agreement puts us at the forefront of sports club sponsorships,

which has always been an objective for the current board of directors,” said the Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu. The deal means that Barcelona’s previous deal with the Qatari flagcarrier, which began in 2013 and was worth an estimated $30 million a year, will cease at the close of the 2016-2017 season. Reports in Spain had suggested

that Qatar Airways, Amazon and China’s Huawei had all been in the running for the new shirt sponsorship deal. Rival Emirates is the shirt sponsor for several European football sides, including England’s Arsenal, Italy’s AC Milan, France’s Paris St-Germain and Portugal’s Benfica. www.pi-media.co.uk

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Boxer in the US barred from playing over hijab www.pi-media.co.uk

SPORT I 21

I December 2016

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) expressed concern over a report that a 16-year-old Muslim boxer from Minnesota was barred from a match in Florida because she wears an Islamic head scarf, or hijab. Amaiya Zafar, from Oakdale, Minn., was reportedly barred at the last minute from a November 20 bout at the Sugar Bert Boxing National

Championships in Kissimmee, Fla. Her mother reported to CAIR that her daughter was able to register and weigh in, and was putting on her gloves just before entering the ring, when a tournament official allegedly told her she could not compete because of her hijab. Her opponent, in an act of solidarity, shared the belt she received for the “win” due to Zafar being disqualified.

“All athletes should be able to compete in their sport of choice without facing roadblocks based on outmoded and discriminatory policies,” said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper.” We thank Ms. Zafar’s potential opponent for her principled act of solidarity.” Hooper renewed CAIR’s call for the Switzerland-based International Boxing Association (AIBA) and USA Boxing to grant a religious exemption to current uniform regulations so that Zafar may wear hijab during competition. Many international athletic organizations have already modified their rules and policies to account for the various religious needs of participants. For example, over the past few years, the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) and the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) have all lifted their respective bans on religious headgear, including hijabs.

FIFA threatens to seek damages against ‘illegal’ Kuwait Football Association FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura has threatened to seek damages against “illegal acts” by the Kuwait Football Association (KFA) which violate FIFA’s statute requirements for independence. In a letter to KFA chairman Fawaz al-Hassawi, Samoura criticised the association’s cancellation of two football clubs’ memberships in what she called an attempt to control the organisation’s voting power, reported insidethegames sports news website. Kuwait was suspended from the International Olympic Committee in 2015 and banned from participating in the 2016 Olympic Games after the gulf state’s sports ministry launched a new sports law granting the government control over all sports

bodies and national federations. The law led to the dissolution of existing bodies such as the Kuwait Olympic Committee (KOC) and the Kuwait Football Association (KFA). They were replaced with government-backed rivals. “FIFA continues to exclusively recognise the current President of the KFA, Sheikh Talal Fahad AISabah, and the current secretary general, Saho AI-Shammari, as the duly elected and, respectively, authorised representatives of the KFA notwithstanding its current suspension by FIFA,” Samoura said. “Furthermore, we reiterate that we recognise all current members of the KFA as being duly affiliated to the KFA. FIFA will not accept any of its members to establish

contact or sporting relations with the Government-appointed officials who claim to be representing the KFA,” she said. Samoura added FIFA will not recognise any action or decision taken by the Kuwaiti government or by the appointed interim committee in contradiction to the FIFA, Asian Football Confederation or KFA Statutes. She said FIFA reserves all its rights to take any action against all those who have been involved in any way, directly or indirectly, with KFA and other activities of the interim committee. “This includes all claims for the consequences of any damages resulting from your illegal acts,” she said.


The West’s Media Delusions

22I FEATURED

The US mainstream news media often holds itself out as the world’s gold standard, home for careful reporting and diverse opinions compared to Russia’s monolithic propaganda, but the reality is quite different, says James W Carden. In a wide ranging and necessarysurvey of Russian political programming, Dr. Gilbert Doctorow, himself a frequent guest on those shows, observes that: “The charges — that Russian media are only an instrument of state propaganda directed at the domestic population to keep Russian citizens in line and at foreign audiences to sow dissent among Russia’s neighbors and within the European Union — are taken as a matter of faith with almost no proofs adduced. Anyone who questions this ‘group think’ is immediately labeled a ‘tool of Putin’ or worse.”

www.pi-media.co.uk I December 2016

Dr. Doctorow has launched an important conversation inlight of the release of yet anotheralarmist media report, this time bya Britishneoconservative group named (oddly) after a long deceased Democratic Senator from Washington State (Henry “Scoop” Jackson), which seeks to stifledebate on Russiapolicy in the West by smearing dissenters from the Russiabashing conventional wisdom as “Putin’s useful idiots.” Doctorow’s experience with the Russian media therefore serves adouble use: to combat willful Western misconceptions of the Russian media landscape as well as to serve as auseful point of comparison with U.S. media outlets and their coverage of Russia. If we take the example of the purportedly liberal cable news outlet MSNBC, we find, paradoxically,

that the hard-right neoconservative stance toward Russia goes virtually unopposed. Regarding Russia, in comparison with their principal center-left cable news rival CNN, which, to its credit occasionally makes room for the minority “detente” point of view, MSNBC leaves about as much room for dissent as the Soviet-era Pravda – actually, perhaps less. As it happens, there was a similar disparity when it came to the way the two networks covered the U.S. presidential election. While CNN went about bringing much needed balance to its coverage, albeit in the most inept way possible – by hiring paid flacks from each of the campaigns to appear alongside actual journalists, MSNBC (like Republican rival FOX News) wholly dispensed with any pretense of objectivity and served as little


www.pi-media.co.uk I December 2016 more than as a mouth piece for the disastrous Clinton campaign. As such, the “liberal” network found itself in the vanguard of the new McCarthyism which swept the 2016 campaign, but which has, in fact, been a feature of the American debate over Russia policy since at least the beginning of the Ukraine crisis in late 2013 – if not earlier. Examples abound, but perhaps the most striking case of the neoMcCarthyite hysteria which MSNBC attempted to dress up as its legitimate concern over U.S. national security was a rant that Rachel Maddow unleashed on her audience in June when Maddow opened her show with a monologue dedicated to the proposition that Donald Trump was in league with Vladimir Putin. Maddow, in her signature smarterthan-thou tone, informed readers that the “admiration” between Putin and Trump “really is mutual. I mean, look at this headline, ‘Putin praises Trump. He`s brilliant and talented person.’ ‘Putin praises bright and talented Trump.’ ‘Vladimir Putin praises outstanding and talented Trump.’ There was some controversy over how to exactly translate Putin`s remarks, but Putin took care to flatter Donald Trump publicly, exactly the way Donald Trump likes to be flattered, and that`s apparently enough for Donald Trump, that`s all he needs to hear, that`s all he needs to know, to tell him, how great Vladimir Putin is. “Putin likes Trump, he must be smart, must be great. So, that is the very, very unusual context here, that you have a Republican presidential nominee who is very, very susceptible to flattery. It`s the most powerful thing in the world to him. If you compliment him, he will never forget it and that`s kind of all he needs to know about you.” Maddow went on in this vein for quite a while longer (meaning: little actual content but lots of “very, very’s” and eye-rolling). But her central insight, such as it was, was little more than a regurgitation of Democratic National Committee talking points. To no one’s surprise, Maddow’s accusations were repeated almost verbatim in the press releases issued by the Clinton campaign which accused Trump of being little more than a Russian fifth

columnist. Maddow’s evidence-free, innuendo laden June rant took on an added importance because she was the messenger. After the risible, self-important sports journalist Keith Olbermann left the network in 2011, Maddow took over as the network’s house intellectual. So her words carry weight with its viewers in a way, say, Mika Brzezinki’s do not. Nevertheless at no point at which I am aware did Maddow ever host a guest who pushed back against the still unproven charges that the Russian government had interfered in the U.S. election or that Donald Trump was, in the words of former CIA functionary Mike Morell, an “unwitting agent of the Kremlin” – never mind that as recently as Nov. 15, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker admitted he had “no proof” of Moscow’s interference in the U.S. election. While it is unclear whether MSNBC’s Joy Reid is seen as “serious” a voice as Maddow, it is unquestionable that she has emerged as the network’s most enthusiastic practitioner of the new McCarthyism. Days before the electionReid hostedNewsweek’s increasingly unhinged Kurt Eichenwald and former Naval officer Malcolm Nance who has repeatedly and without evidence claimed the WikileaksPodesta emails were fake. Why, asked Reid, are the Russians backing Trump? As if that assertion was beyond dispute. Well, said Eichenwald, “They hate Hillary Clinton…” Oh. Reid then went on to wonder why the FBI is downplaying the intelligence community’s allegedly deep concern that Russia was interfering in the election. Days later, right after the election, Reid re-assembled a panel featuring Nance, the reliable Putin critic Nina Khrushcheva and Esquire’s Charles Pierce to reinforce the message that MSNBC had been pushing since the summer: that the Russian government had its hand on the scale of the U.S. election. Pierce, in particular, was apoplectic. That Reid’s roundtable featured Pierce made a good deal of sense. Throughout the campaign, Pierce has been determined to draw a

FEATURED I 23 direct link between the Trump campaign and Putin. A sample of his output helps tell the tale. On July 24, Pierce published “Donald Trump’s and Vladimir Putin’s Shared Agenda Should Alarm Anyone Concerned About Democracy” in which Pierce speculated that “Trump seems increasingly dependent on money from Russia and from the former Soviet republics within its increasingly active sphere of influence.” In his offering of Sept. 9, Pierce protested that “It’s not ‘red-baiting’ to be concerned about Russian interference in our elections.” Pierce, perhaps moved to madness byThe Nationeditorial “Against NeoMcCarthyism,” sounded as though he were channeling the ghost of James Jesus Angleton, asking, “Are we supposed to believe that Donald Trump reallywent on RTtelevisionby accident? That nobody on his staff knew that the Russian government’s American network picks up Larry King’s podcast?” About a month before the election, on Oct. 11, Pierce informed readers of the once-great Esquire, “Vladimir Putin Is Determined to See Trump in the Oval Office.” Still worse, according to Pierce, “There is little question nowthat Vladimir Putin is playing monkey-mischief with the 2016 presidential election, and that the Trump campaign is the primary beneficiary of that.” All of the aforementioned is to demonstrate that the American media’s much touted pluralism is little more than a fiction when it comes to reporting on Russia. The diversity of Left-Right voices on the political spectrum that Doctorow has encountered in Moscow indicates that the widespread perception that Moscow’s political culture is monolithic compared to that of the Washington’s is, at the very least, challengeable.

By James W Carden is a contributing writer for The Nation and editor of The American Committee for EastWest Accord’s eastwestaccord. com. He previously served as an advisor on Russia to the Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs at the US State Department.


The Islamic Caliphate in a Historical Context

24I FEATURED

www.pi-media.co.uk I December 2016

Part 9

The wars of apostasy that had lasted 11 years took its toll on the strength of the Muslim armies that had managed to overcome the rebellions that had sprung up across the Arabian Pennisula. However, the historical foes of the Arabs, namely the Byzantine and Sassanid Empires posed a grave threat to the fledgling Islamic state and vice versa as far as the political map of the Arabian Pennisula was concerned. For Abu Bakr, the main priority was to secure and defend the borders from external threats and influences and therefore adopted the mantra ‘attack is the best form of defence’ when addressing the threats posed by the dominant forces present in the region at that time. We can safely say the significance of this move was not to signal the commencement of the creation of a ‘caliphate’ or empire straddling all four corners of the globe but to preserve the Islamic

state from being destroyed in its infancy. The Sassanid Empire for centuries had held power and influence across the Middle East and Central and South East Asia and Greece for centuries through its ability to destroy the opposition by mustering gigantic armies when going to war. Zoroastrianism namely a monotheistic faith was effectively used by the Sassanids to reinforce power by demanding loyalty from its people through the claim that the emperor was the vicegerent of Ahura Mazda the supreme God of the faith. It should be said that the Sassanids like their Byzantine counterparts no longer basked in their former glories anymore and thus had been severely weakened by ever burgeoning debts incurred after several military conquests over the centuries. Consequently, this led to a situation where raising finances

no longer became an easy task especially when engaging in military operations. The Islamic State under the auspices of Abu Bakr and Khalid Ibn Walid were presented with a golden opportunity to fulfil the pressing security objective of the day by going on the offensive against the Sassanids in Iraq and aiming to secure its borders. Abu Bakr was not dissuaded by the situation of facing multiple threats on its doorstep and ordered Khalid Ibn Walid to enter Iraq and attack the Sasaanids with intense vigour. Four major battles centring upon the areas of Wallaja, Ullais and Hira were waged by the Islamic State again the Sassanids in 633 AD. Hira, the de-facto capital of the Sassanids came under intense attack due to the superior number of men at Khalid’s disposal and fell in spectacular fashion in the same year as little resistance was provided the defenders of the city at the time.


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