Dogma Alert

Monday, March 20, 2006

Christian convert could be executed

Mar. 20, 2006. 01:00 AM

KABUL—An Afghan man is being prosecuted in a Kabul court and could be sentenced to death on a charge of converting from Islam to Christianity, a crime under this country's Islamic laws, a judge said yesterday.

The trial, believed to be the first of its kind in Afghanistan, highlights a struggle between religious conservatives and reformists over what shape Islam should take here four years after the ouster of the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban regime.

The defendant, 41-year-old Abdul Rahman, was arrested last month after his family accused him of becoming a Christian, Judge Ansarullah Mawlavezada said in an interview. Rahman was charged with rejecting Islam and his trial started Thursday.

During the one-day hearing, the defendant confessed that he converted from Islam to Christianity 16 years ago while working as a medical aid worker for an international Christian group helping Afghan refugees in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, Mawlavezada said.

"We are not against any particular religion in the world. But in Afghanistan, this sort of thing is against the law," the judge said. "It is an attack on Islam."
He said he would rule on the case within two months.

Afghanistan's constitution is based on sharia law, which is interpreted by many Muslims to require that any Muslim who rejects Islam be sentenced to death, said Ahmad Fahim Hakim, deputy chairman of the state-sponsored Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.

The prosecutor, Abdul Wasi, said he had offered to drop the charges if Rahman converted back to Islam, but he refused.

Afghanistan is a conservative Islamic country. Some 99 per cent of its 28 million people are Muslim, and the remainder are mainly Hindu. A Christian aid worker in Kabul, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there was no reliable figure for the number of Christians, though it was believed to be only in the dozens or low hundreds.

Hakim said that if Rahman was acquitted, it would be a propaganda win for the Taliban rebels. In the months before U.S.-led troops ousted the Taliban in 2001, the regime claimed Western aid groups were trying to convert Afghan Muslims. Eight foreign aid workers were arrested for allegedly preaching Christianity but later released.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Is Another 9/11 in the Works?

By Paul Craig Roberts
15 Mar 06

If you were President George W. Bush with all available US troops tied down by the Iraqi resistance, and you were unable to control Iraq or political developments in the country, would you also start a war with Iran?

Yes, you would.

Bush’s determination to spread Middle East conflict by striking at Iran does not make sense.

First of all, Bush lacks the troops to do the job. If the US military cannot successfully occupy Iraq, there is no way that the US can occupy Iran, a country approximately three times the size in area and population.

Second, Iran can respond to a conventional air attack with missiles targeted on American ships and bases, and on oil facilities located throughout the Middle East.

Third, Iran has human assets, including the Shia majority population in Iraq, that it can activate to cause chaos throughout the Middle East.

Fourth, polls of US troops in Iraq indicate that a vast majority do not believe in their mission and wish to be withdrawn. Unlike the yellow ribbon folks at home, the troops are unlikely to be enthusiastic about being trapped in an Iranian quagmire in addition to the Iraqi quagmire.

Fifth, Bush’s polls are down to 34 percent, with a majority of Americans believing that Bush’s invasion of Iraq was a mistake.

If you were being whipped in one fight, would you start a second fight with a bigger and stronger person?

That’s what Bush is doing.

Opinion polls indicate that the Bush regime has succeeded in its plan to make Americans fear Iran as the greatest threat America faces.

The Bush regime has created a major dispute with Iran over that country’s nuclear energy program and then blocked every effort to bring the dispute to a peaceful end.

In order to gain a pretext for attacking Iran, the Bush regime is using bribery and coercion in its effort to have Iran referred to the UN Security Council for sanctions.

In recent statements President Bush and Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld blamed Iran for the Iraqi resistance, claiming that the roadside bombs used by the resistance are being supplied by Iran.

It is obvious that Bush intends to attack Iran and that he will use every means to bring war about.

Yet, Bush has no conventional means of waging war with Iran. His bloodthirsty neoconservatives have prepared plans for nuking Iran. However, an unprovoked nuclear attack on Iran would leave the US, already regarded as a pariah nation, totally isolated.

Readers, whose thinking runs ahead of that of most of us, tell me that another 9/11 event will prepare the ground for a nuclear attack on Iran. Some readers say that Bush, or Israel as in Israel’s highly provocative attack on the Jericho jail and kidnapping of prisoners with American complicity, will provoke a second attack on the US. Others say that Bush or the neoconservatives working with some “black ops” group will orchestrate the attack.

One of the more extraordinary suggestions is that a low yield, perhaps tactical, nuclear weapon will be exploded some distance out from a US port. Death and destruction will be minimized, but fear and hysteria will be maximized. Americans will be told that the ship bearing the weapon was discovered and intercepted just in time, thanks to Bush’s illegal spying program, and that Iran is to blame. A more powerful wave of fear and outrage will again bind the American people to Bush, and the US media will not report the rest of the world’s doubts of the explanation.

Reads like a Michael Crichton plot, doesn’t it?

Fantasy? Let’s hope so.


Paul Craig Roberts [ ] is the author of Alienation and the Soviet Economy and Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy, and is the author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice. Click here for Peter Brimelow’s Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.

Religion - The Tie That Binds

Evangelical broadcaster Pat Robertson calls radical Muslims 'satanic'

Associated Press
14 Mar 06

Evangelical broadcaster Pat Robertson said Monday on his live "700 Club" television program that Islam wants to take over the world and is not a religion of peace, and that radical Muslims are "satanic."

After watching a news segment about radical Islam in Europe, Robertson remarked that the outpouring of rage elicited by cartoon drawings of the Prophet Mohammed "just shows the kind of people we're dealing with. These people are crazed fanatics, and I want to say it now: I believe it's motivated by demonic power. It is satanic and it's time we recognize what we're dealing with."

Robertson also said that "the goal of Islam, ladies and gentlemen whether you like it or not, is world domination."

Robertson's Virginia-based Christian Broadcasting Network expunged the comments from the version of the program posted on its Web site out of concerns they could be misinterpreted if viewed out of context, said Angell Watts, a Robertson spokeswoman.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which monitors "The 700 Club" daily, released a written transcript of Robertson's remarks. CBN confirmed the remarks with its own transcript.

Robertson said in a statement later Monday that he was referring specifically to terrorists as being motivated by Satan when he made his comments in an editorial following a CBN News story on the widening Muslim protests in Europe over the cartoons. In the story, he noted, radical Muslims were shown screaming "May Allah bomb you! May Osama Bin Laden bomb you!"

"My statement in the commentary, 'These people are crazed fanatics,' refers specifically to the radicals and terrorists who want to bomb innocent people," Robertson said. "I believe that they are motivated by demonic power and are satanic."

Robertson has come under intense criticism in recent months for comments suggesting that American agents should assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke was divine retribution for pulling Israel out of the Gaza Strip.

Robertson recently told ABC's "Good Morning America" that he makes his comments off the cuff after watching news segments. He later told the Christian magazine World that he's being more careful and reviewing news stories before going on the air.

On Monday, Robertson also said of Islam: "These people are saying it over there in Europe - world domination. 'We're going to take over Europe, we're going to take over England, we're going to take over Denmark, we're going to take over France.' That's their goal. And why don't we wake up to the fact of who we're dealing with? And by the way, Islam is not a religion of peace."

Asked why Robertson said Islam is not a peaceful religion, Watts said, "At its core, he does not believe it is (peaceful). He's talking about fundamentalists, not moderates."

The comments were similar to remarks he made on his program in 2002, when he said Islam "is not a peaceful religion that wants to coexist. They want to coexist until they can control, dominate and then, if need be, destroy."

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, called Robertson's new comments "grossly irresponsible."
"At a time when inter-religious tensions around the world are at an all-time high, Robertson seems determined to throw gasoline on the fire," Lynn said in a statement.

Cultural Warmongers - Picking a fight with a faith 1.3 billion strong

By Patrick J. Buchanan
American Conservative
14 Mar 06

If you wish to get along with a man, you do not insult his faith. And if you seek to persuade devout Muslims that al-Qaeda is our enemy, not Islam, you do not condone with silence insults to the faith of a billion people.

Understanding this, President Bush ceased to call the war on terror a "crusade." Visiting a mosque, he removed his shoes. He has hosted White House gatherings for the breaking of the fast at the end of Ramadan. He sent Karen Hughes to the State Department to improve our dismal image in the Islamic world. He has declared more times than many of us care to recall, "Islam is a religion of peace."

President Bush knows we are in a struggle for the hearts and minds of Islamic peoples, and if we are to win this struggle we must separate the Muslim monsters from the masses. For as that great American military mind Col. John Boyd defined it, strategy is the appending to oneself of as many centers of power as possible and isolating your enemy from as many centers of power as possible.

This is what makes the Mohammed cartoons so stupid and self-destructive. They have given Islamic extremists visible proof to show pious Muslims that the West relishes mocking what they hold most sacred: the prophet. They have united Muslim moderates with militants in common rage against us. They have added to the hatred of the West in the Islamic world as friends like King Abdullah of Jordan, Presidents Mubarak of Egypt and Karzai of Afghanistan, and Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey warned us they would.

One wonders. Did the cynical Europeans learn nothing from the Salman Rushdie episode? Did they learn nothing from the firestorm that erupted in the Islamic world when Christian ministers in the United States, post-9/11, called Mohammed a "terrorist"?

Why then did they do this? Why did the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten publish cartoons it knew to be so blasphemous to Muslims? Why did Le Monde, France Soir, Die Welt, El Pais, Il Stampa republish them-on their front pages? If a European newsman was oblivious to the probable effect among Muslims of plastering a cartoon of Mohammed with a bomb in his turban on page one, he is too stupid to be an editor. But if he did know the near-certain effect of such an in-your-face provocation, why would he do it? Is this the reflexive secularist hostility of the Europress to all religious faiths on display here or something else?

And so we come to the heart of the matter. Why? What was the motive here? What is the game that is afoot? The rationale of the imams who ensured that all Muslims knew of the cartoons and their contents and called for demonstrations and assaults on Western consulates and embassies is evident. They hate us, and they wish to drive us out of the Middle East. But what propelled our own ideologues to prod U.S. editors to republish the cartoons in "solidarity" with the Europeans? Who pushed George W. Bush and Condi Rice not to condemn the cartoons but to "stand up" for the freedom to publish and defy any "intimidation" by the Islamic world?

Answer: our cultural warmongers, who seek the same goal as their cultural warmongers-to ignite a war of civilizations. Both want the "long war" of which the Pentagon speaks, the "World War IV" against "Islamofascism" that is the dream of neoconservatives and the nightmare of their countrymen.

As has been evident for some time, bin Laden and the neocons both seek the same thing: a fight to the finish, no matter how long, no matter how many invasions it takes, no matter how many lives are lost. For if peace were reached between the Islamic world and the West, even a cold peace with Iran and Syria, what would they do then?

As the provocations of Ahmadinejad are music to the ears of neocons, for they rule out dialogue and diplomacy, the escalation of the cartoon wars into an all-out culture war between Islam and the West has made their day. But it has also wiped out much of the goodwill that George W. Bush has sought to rebuild in the region.

As one explores the arguments of the provocateurs in the West for what they are doing, on inspection all appear hollow. "We believe in the First Amendment!" comes the blustery reply of journalists when asked why they published the cartoons. The First Amendment protected the right of Trent Lott to toast Strom Thurmond. But that did not save Lott from the savagery of the neocons who demanded and got his ouster as Senate majority leader. Yet which is the more egregious offense? To pay a birthday tribute to a century-old man who was once a segregationist or to insult deliberately the most revered figure in the faith of a billion people?

Daily, U.S. editors decline to publish ethnic slurs and obscene remarks and cartoons that might offend a race or religion. This is not censorship. It is editorial judgment. The motto of the New York Times, which declined to publish the offending cartoons, is "All the News That's Fit to Print."

Conservatives contend that Islamic nations tolerate cartoons and TV shows far more viciously anti-Semitic than these cartoons were anti-Islamic. They are right. But Western newspapers never publish such cartoons, first, because they are outrageous, second, because publication would cost them advertisers, readers, and maybe their jobs. Insulting Muslims and Mohammed is a less risky and less expensive hobby than insulting Judaism or Jews. Indeed, if you insult Islam, you can make out credentials as a moral hero.

Though State initially condemned the cartoons-"Inciting religious or ethnic hatreds in this manner is unacceptable"-the neocons rapidly re-seized control of the message. In hours, State was in retreat: "While we share the offense that Muslims have taken at these images, we at the same time vigorously defend the right of individuals to express points of view." Of course we do. But do we believe freedom of the press was responsibly exercised when these idiot editors used it to incite a religious war?

And when it comes to press freedom, Europeans are world-class hypocrites. British historian David Irving has spent months in a prison in Vienna awaiting trial for two speeches he made 15 years ago. In Europe, skeptics and deniers of the Holocaust are fined and imprisoned with the enthusiastic endorsement of the press.

Unfortunately, Bush let slip an opportunity to show respect for the Islamic world and faith and, instead, let himself be intimidated into silently condoning an insult to both. Standing beside the King of Jordan, Bush denounced the violence the cartoons had ignited but declined to condemn the cartoons. Condi Rice denounced Iran and Syria for exploiting the rage over the cartoons but did not condemn the cause of that rage. If there is a double standard here, Bush is the guilty party. He rightly denounced Iran's president for mocking the Holocaust but would not denounce the European press for mocking the prophet.

If Bush and Rice cannot muster the moral courage to condemn the insulting content of the cartoons, as well as the violence being promoted by anti-Western agitators and demagogues, our wars for democracy in the Middle East are in vain. For we can never win the friendship of these people if they believe our words of respect for their religion cover up a sneering contempt.

Copyright © 2006 The American Conservative

Friday, March 17, 2006

Senator fires back at U.S. family upset with seal hunt

Last Updated Fri, 17 Mar 2006 09:16:34 EST
CBC News

A Liberal senator has replied to a family in Minnesota upset about Canada's seal hunt with a letter denouncing the United States for executing prisoners at home and killing people in Iraq.

The McLellan family had written to Canadian senators to say they cancelled a vacation in Canada because of the hunt, which they called "horrible" and "inhumane," Montreal's La Presse reports.

In her response, Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette said that what she finds horrible is "the daily massacre of innocent people in Iraq, the execution of prisoners – mainly blacks – in American prisons, the massive sale of handguns to Americans, the destabilization of the entire world by the American government's aggressive foreign policy, etc."

She said Americans are not in a position to criticize others. "They must start to look at their own behaviour, the permanent heightening of the planet's insecurity since the election of Bush," she told La Presse.

"All senators received the letter from the McLellans and I was the only one to respond," she said.

The family "did not choose a good cause," she added. [...]

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Iraqis say US raid on home killed 11 family members

If there remains any doubt that the US military are nothing but a bunch of cold blooded murderers, let the following story put the matter to rest...

Wed Mar 15, 2006 2:40 PM GMT
By Amer Amery

TIKRIT, Iraq (Reuters) - Eleven members of an Iraqi family were killed in a U.S. raid on Wednesday, police and witnesses said. The U.S. military said two women and a child died during the bid to seize an al Qaeda militant from a house.

Television pictures showed 11 bodies in the Tikrit morgue -- five children, two men and four women. A freelance photographer later saw the bodies being buried in Ishaqi, the town 100 km (60 miles) north of Baghdad where the raid took place.

The U.S. military said in a statement its troops had attacked a house in Ishaqi early on Wednesday to capture a "foreign fighter facilitator for the al Qaeda in Iraq network".

"Troops were engaged by enemy fire as they approached the building," U.S. spokesman Major Tim Keefe said. "Coalition Forces returned fire utilising both air and ground assets.

"There was one enemy killed. Two women and one child were also killed in the firefight. The building ... (was) destroyed."

Keefe said the al Qaeda suspect had been captured and was being questioned.


Major Ali Ahmed of the Ishaqi police said U.S. forces had landed on the roof of the house in the early hours and shot the 11 occupants, including the five children.

"After they left the house they blew it up," he said.

Another policeman, Major Farouq Hussein, said all the bodies had gunshot wounds to the head.

Pictures of the house targeted in the raid showed it had been reduced to rubble, while next to it lay the burnt-out wreckage of a truck.

Iraqi police said the U.S. military had asked for a meeting with local tribal leaders.

Photographs of the funeral showed men weeping as five children were wrapped in blankets and then lined up in a row next to freshly dug graves.

Police in Salahaddin province, a heartland of the Sunni Arab insurgency and the home region of Saddam Hussein, have frequently criticised U.S. military tactics in the area.

In January a U.S. air strike on a house in Baiji, further north, killed several members of a family. In December U.S. fighter jets dropped two 500-pound bombs on a village, also in the region, killing 10 people. The U.S. military said the people targeted had been suspected of planting roadside bombs.

(Additional reporting by Ghazwan al-Jibouri in Tikrit and Aseel Kami in Baghdad)