Molly Norris work

Celebrating Free Speech Victories

by David J. Rusin • Oct 8, 2010 at 8:23 am

http://www.islamist-watch.org/blog/2010/10/celebrating-free-speech-victories
With Dutch MP Geert Wilders on trial for insulting Islam, American cartoonist Molly Norris in hiding after death threats, and other outrages against liberty, one may be tempted to think that the struggle to defend free speech — particularly speech that offends Muslims — is a hopeless endeavor. Not so. Several news items from the past two months are reason to applaud:

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Four Christian missionaries were acquitted on September 24 of breach-of-peace charges stemming from their unjustified arrests as they engaged Muslims in civil dialogue at the Arab International Festival in Dearborn, Michigan. (One was convicted of not obeying a policeman’s order, with the single-day sentence waived.) A factually challenged police report was no match for the group’s videos documenting their protected speech. Mayor John B. O’Reilly Jr. responded to the verdicts by smearing the Christians as bigots.
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On September 21, Dutch prosecutors dropped charges against Gregorius Nekschot for posting “discriminating” anti-Islamic sketches (graphic examples here) on his website. Ten policemen arrested the cartoonist in 2008, an ordeal sparked by the complaint of a radical Muslim known for cheering Theo van Gogh’s murder and hoping that Wilders dies of cancer. A trial would have endangered Nekschot by eradicating his anonymity.
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Burning the Koran may be both tasteless and counterproductive, but it is not (yet) illegal in the United States — at least not in Michigan. A charred and torn Koran was left at an East Lansing mosque on September 11, prompting police to offer a reward for leads. A man turned himself in, but the prosecutor announced on September 22 that he will close the case, as “there is no criminal offense that I can charge under Michigan law.”
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel presented a freedom prize to Kurt Westergaard, creator of the most “explosive” of the Danish Muhammad cartoons, on September 8. The M100 Sanssouci Colloquium honored him “because he stands for what he is doing” in the face of threats. “It’s about whether in a Western society with its values he is allowed to publish his Muhammad cartoons,” Merkel said. “Is he allowed to do it? Yes, he is.”
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August 27 saw the dismissal of fines against a Waite Park, Minnesota, man cited for posting crude anti-Islamic fliers. The city had punished him based on an ordinance banning printed materials on utility poles, but an appeal hearing ruled that the regulation had been applied selectively to single out this one individual — for some reason.
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President Obama signed legislation (the SPEECH Act) on August 10 to shield American writers and publishers from “libel tourism,” the filing of nuisance lawsuits in plaintiff-friendly foreign courts, a tactic most notably used to target a terror finance expert. The federal legal system is now prohibited from enforcing defamation judgments issued in countries whose speech protections are weaker than the First Amendment’s.

Buck up, Westerners. The battle to preserve free speech is far from won, but it is not yet lost.

On the Advice of the FBI, Cartoonist Molly Norris Disappears From View
Her work won’t be in Seattle Weekly anymore, or anywhere else.

You may have noticed that Molly Norris‘ comic is not in the paper this week. That’s because there is no more Molly.

The gifted artist is alive and well, thankfully. But on the insistence of top security specialists at the FBI, she is, as they put it, “going ghost”: moving, changing her name, and essentially wiping away her identity. She will no longer be publishing cartoons in our paper or in City Arts magazine, where she has been a regular contributor. She is, in effect, being put into a witness-protection program—except, as she notes, without the government picking up the tab. It’s all because of the appalling fatwa issued against her this summer, following her infamous “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” cartoon.

Norris views the situation with her customary sense of the world’s complexity, and absurdity. When FBI agents, on a recent visit, instructed her to always keep watch for anyone following her, she joked, “Well, at least it’ll keep me from being so self-involved!” It was, she says, the first time the agents managed a smile. She likens the situation to cancer—it might basically be nothing, it might be urgent and serious, it might go away and never return, or it might pop up again when she least expects it.

We’re hoping the religious bigots go into full and immediate remission, and we wish her the best.

Dueling Fatwas

by Daniel Pipes
The Washington Times
October 5, 2010

http://www.danielpipes.org/8942/dueling-fatwas

Reciprocal death sentences raging between Yemen and the United States offer a glimpse of warfare in the internet age.

The censored cartoon of Muhammad (far right) with Jesus, Buddha and John Smith.

The topic opens with South Park, an iconoclastic adult cartoon program on Comedy Central, which in April mocked the prohibition on depicting the Islamic prophet Muhammad. An obscure website, RevolutionMuslim.com (whose proprietor was subsequently arrested on terrorism-related charges), responded by threatening the show’s writers, Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Panicked, Comedy Central censored further mention of Muhammad.

Enter Molly Norris, a cartoonist at the Seattle Weekly, who showed solidarity with Parker and Stone by posting a facetious “Everyone Draw Muhammad Day” appeal on Facebook, hoping that a host of caricaturists would “counter Comedy Central’s message about feeling afraid.” To Norris’ surprise, dismay, and confusion, others took her idea seriously, prompting Facebook campaigns for and against her “day” and the Pakistani government temporarily to block Facebook. Norris disowned her initiative, apologized for it, and even befriended the local Council on American-Islamic Relations representative, to little avail.

Anwar al-Awlaki, an Islamist leader in Yemen, responded in July by issuing a death sentence on Norris, inaccurately but pungently called a fatwa. On consulting with the police, Norris in September not only went underground but “went ghost” and disappeared entirely, including her name and her profession.

Molly Norris, ex-cartoonist.

Awlaki’s “fatwa” on Norris, however, is only half the story. The other half concerns a U.S. government “fatwa” on Awlaki.

Awlaki was born in New Mexico in 1971 to well-connected Muslim Yemeni parents. His father, Nasser, studied and worked in the United States until 1978, when the family returned to Yemen. Anwar went to the United States as a student in 1991 and spent the next decade in various degree programs (engineering, education), only to emerge as an Al-Qaeda-style Islamist figure, comparable to Osama bin Laden both in his ideological fanaticism and his operational involvement in terrorism. Arrested in connection with the 9/11 attacks, he was inexplicably released and allowed to move to a remote region of Yemen, beyond government control, where he currently lives.

U.S. law enforcement connects Awlaki to several violent attacks on Americans, including the Ft. Hood shootings, the attempted bombing of a Northwest flight approaching Detroit, and the Times Square bomber. Awlaki’s terrorist record earned him a unique distinction: in April, for the first time in the nearly 250-year history of the United States, the government placed him on a “kill list,” making him the only U.S. citizen to be condemned to death by his own government without benefit of a legal process. Both the military and the intelligence services are targeting him; as one unnamed official puts it, “he’s in everybody’s sights.”

The poster drawn by Molly Norris.

In response, his father initiated in August, with help from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights, a lawsuit against the U.S. government that challenges the targeting of Awlaki as illegal.

This extraordinary trading of fatwas prompts several observations.

First, Norris and all Americans currently live under the “Rushdie Rules,” which punish whoever disrespects Islam, Muhammad, or the Koran. Make fun of Muhammad and you’re on your own. Local and national politicians had nothing to say about her plight. Journalists, usually keen to protect one of their own, went silent. No organization sprung up to raise money for her protection.

Second, the internet stands at the heart of this entire episode. It turned Norris’ jokey idea into an international incident, brought news of it to Awlaki in remote Yemen, and allowed him to direct his American operatives. A mere twenty years ago, none of this could have taken place.

Third, the internet and Islamism have together privatized war. At will, an American living in Yemen can disrupt the life of an American in Washington State. The U.S. government has declared war on a citizen.

Fourth, Awlaki is a plain terrorist, sowing death and disruption, whereas the U.S. government’s “kill list” is defensive. One is evil, the other is moral.

Fifth, why the inconsistency, whereby the U.S. government permits itself “targeted killings” but denies this tool to Israel?

Finally, Awlaki stands at an unprecedented crossroads of death declarations, with his targeting Norris even as the U.S. government targets him. This is as startling in an Islamic context as it is in an American one. The boundaries of warfare are being stretched in novel, strange, and frightening ways.

Mr. Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. © 2010 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

PIPES: Dueling fatwas

War comes home in the Internet era

By Daniel Pipes

The Washington Times

6:34 p.m., Monday, October 4, 2010

Reciprocal death sentences raging between Yemen and the United States offer a glimpse of warfare in the Internet age.

The topic opens with “South Park,” an iconoclastic adult cartoon program on Comedy Central, which in April mocked the prohibition on depicting the Islamic Prophet Muhammad. An obscure website, RevolutionMuslim.com (whose proprietor subsequently was arrested on terrorism-related charges) responded by threatening the show’s writers, Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Panicked, Comedy Central censored further mention of Muhammad.

Enter Molly Norris, a cartoonist at the Seattle Weekly, who showed solidarity with Mr. Parker and Mr. Stone by posting a facetious “Everyone Draw Muhammad Day” appeal on Facebook, hoping that host of caricaturists would “counter Comedy Central’s message about feeling afraid.” To Ms. Norris‘ surprise, dismay and confusion, others took her idea seriously, prompting Facebook campaigns for and against her “day” and causing the Pakistani government temporarily to block Facebook. Ms. Norris disowned her initiative, apologized for it and even befriended the local Council on American-Islamic Relations representative, to little avail.

Anwar al-Awlaki, an Islamist leader in Yemen, responded in July by issuing a death sentence on Ms. Norris, inaccurately but pungently called a fatwa. On consulting with the police, Ms. Norris in September not only went underground but “went ghost” and disappeared entirely, including her name and her profession.

Mr. Awlaki‘s “fatwa” on Ms. Norris, however, is only half the story. The other half concerns a U.S. government “fatwa” on Mr. Awlaki.

Mr. Awlaki was born in New Mexico in 1971 to well-connected Muslim Yemeni parents. His father, Nasser, studied and worked in the United States until 1978, when the family returned to Yemen. Anwar went to the United States as a student in 1991 and spent the next decade in various degree programs (engineering, education) only to emerge as an al Qaeda-style Islamist figure, comparable to Osama bin Laden in both his ideological fanaticism and his operational involvement in terrorism. Arrested in connection with the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, he inexplicably was released and allowed to move to a remote region of Yemen, beyond government control, where he currently lives.

U.S. law enforcement connects Mr. Awlaki to several violent attacks on Americans, including the Fort Hood shootings, the attempted bombing of a Northwest flight approaching Detroit and the Times Square bombing attempt. Mr. Awlaki‘s terrorist record earned him a unique distinction: In April, for the first time in the nearly 250-year history of the United States, the government placed him on a “kill list,” making him the only U.S. citizen to be condemned to death by his own government without benefit of a legal process. Both the military and the intelligence services are targeting him; as one unnamed official puts it, he’s “in everybody’s sights.”

In response, in August his father initiated, with help from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights, a lawsuit against the U.S. government that challenges the targeting of Mr. Awlaki as illegal.

This extraordinary trading of fatwas prompts several observations.

First, Ms. Norris and all Americans currently live under the “Rushdie Rules,” which punish whoever disrespects Islam, Muhammad or the Koran. Make fun of Muhammad, and you’re on your own. Local and national politicians had nothing to say about Ms. Norris‘ plight. Journalists, usually keen to protect one of their own, went silent. No organization sprang up to raise money for her protection.

Second, the Internet stands at the heart of this entire episode. It turned Ms. Norris‘ jokey idea into an international incident, brought news of it to Mr. Awlaki in remote Yemen and enabled him to direct his American operatives. A mere 20 years ago, none of this could have taken place.

Third, the Internet and Islamism together have privatized war. At will, an American living in Yemen can disrupt the life of an American in Washington state. The U.S. government has declared war on a citizen.

Fourth, Mr. Awlaki is a plain terrorist, sowing death and disruption, whereas the U.S. government‘s “kill list” is defensive. One is evil, the other is moral.

Fifth, why the inconsistency, whereby the U.S. government permits itself “targeted killings” but denies this tool to Israel?

Finally, Mr. Awlaki stands at an unprecedented crossroads of death declarations, with his targeting Ms. Norris even as the U.S. government targets him. This is as startling in an Islamic context as it is in an American one. The boundaries of warfare are being stretched in novel, strange and frightening ways.

Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and a fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution.

© Copyright 2010 The Washington Times, LLC.

How Islamists Came to Dominate European Islam

by Daniel Pipes
National Review Online
May 25, 2010

http://www.danielpipes.org/8412/islamists-dominate-european-islam

The 7/7 bombings in London, in which Islamists killed 52 and injured 700, prompted British authorities to work with Muslims to avoid future violence.

However, rather than turn to anti-Islamist Muslims who reject the triumphalist goal of applying Islamic law in Europe, they promoted non-violent Islamists, hoping these would persuade coreligionists to express their hatred of the West in lawful ways. This effort featured Tariq Ramadan (b. 1962), a prominent Islamist intellectual. For example, London’s Metropolitan Police partially funded a conference Ramadan addressed and Prime Minister Tony Blair appointed him to an official “working group on tackling extremism.”

Deploying an Islamist may have seemed like a original and clever idea but it was neither. Western governments have been allying without success with Islamists for decades. Indeed, they have been allying with Ramadan’s own family.

Dwight Eisenhower (center) received a Muslim delegation. Said Ramadan stood at right, clasping papers.

In 1953, Dwight D. Eisenhower hosted a group of foreign Muslims that included Said Ramadan (1926-95), a leader of arguably the most influential Islamist organization of the twentieth century, the rabidly anti-West Muslim Brotherhood – and also Tariq’s father. The Eisenhower-Ramadan meeting took place in the context of sustained U.S. government efforts to rally Muslims against Soviet communism, in part by putting Said Ramadan on the CIA payroll. Talcott Seelye, an American diplomat who met with him about that time explains: “We thought of Islam as a counterweight to communism.”

Then there was Hasan al-Banna (1906-49), Tariq’s grandfather, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, and recipient of Nazi funding, American diplomats in Cairo in the late 1940s had “regular meetings” with al-Banna, found him “perfectly empathetic,” and perceived his organization to be a “moderate” and even a “positive” force. The British apparently offered al-Banna money.

In other words, Western governments have a history of ignoring the Islamists’ repulsive ideology and working with them, even strengthening them.

In a stunning piece of investigative historical research, Ian Johnson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist formerly with the Wall Street Journal, reveals new twists and turns of this drama in his just-released book, A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA, and the Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in the West (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27).

Gerhard von Mende

Johnson opens with a review of the systematic Nazi efforts to recruit Soviet Muslims from among their prisoners of war. Many Muslims loathed Stalin; and between 150,000 and 300,000 of them fought for the Axis in World War II. In other words, over and above their unfulfilled propaganda effort directed at Arabs, the Nazis actually fielded a substantial force of mainly Turkic Muslims under the leadership of a scholarly Nazi enthusiast named Gerhard von Mende.

After the German defeat in 1945, Johnson follows von Mende as he continued his anti-communist work with ex-Soviet Muslims, now in a Cold War context. But his network of former soldiers proved not very competent at the task of arousing Muslim hostility against the Soviet Union. Their leading intellectual, for example, had served as the imam of an SS division that helped suppress the Warsaw uprising of 1944. Islamists quickly proved themselves far more competent at this political and religious challenge. Johnson explains that they “wear suits, have university degrees, and can formulate their demands in ways that a politician can understand.”

The heart of his fascinating study lies in tracing the evolution, much of it in Munich, from old soldiers to new Islamists. It’s a classic tale of 1950s intrigue, complete with rehabilitated Nazis, CIA-front organizations, and dueling Soviet-American ambitions.

Said Ramadan

Johnson shows how, without anyone quite planning it, the Americans usurped von Mende’s network and handed it over to Said Ramadan. This early U.S. boost to the Muslim Brotherhood, Johnson argues, gave it the means to establish an Islamist framework just in time to welcome the surge of Muslim immigration to Europe in the 1970s.

Thus did the Islamist domination of European Muslims have two hidden facilitators, Nazi and American. Its origins in Operation Barbarossa reveals the ugly pedigree of today’s Islamist strength. Hitler and his thugs could not have foreseen it, but they helped set the stage for Eurabia.

American backing for Islamists prompts Johnson to warn against the futility of allying with the Muslim Brotherhood and its ilk – as Tony Blair once again recently attempted. However tempting, it invariably harms the West. The lesson is simple: be cognizant of history and do not assist the Islamists.

Mr. Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.


May 25, 2010 updates: (1) The published book lacks photographs to help bring its leading characters come to life. Fortunately, these are available on Ian Johnson’s website. I reproduced some of them above .

(2) Coincidentally, I spent the summer of 1953 at the age of three in Munich, just as that city was emerging as a center of Islamic activism, precisely because of the major presence of ex-Soviet Muslims living there. An excerpt from my father’s autobiography, Richard Pipes, Vixi: Memoirs of a Non-Belonger (Yale University Press, 2003), p. 74 explains why he took the family to Munich:

At the end of May 1951, with financial assistance from the Center of International Affairs at MIT, Irene and I left Daniel with our parents and went on a four-month trip to Europe and the Middle East. My purpose was to interview the surviving members of national governments of what had been the Russian Empire during the period 1917-21. I located quite a few of them in London, Paris, Munich and Istanbul, and they helped me appreciably to understand the complex situations of that era. In Paris I established contact with the Georgian émigré community. Two years later, I spent another summer in Europe, this time in Munich, interviewing refugees from Soviet Central Asia, nearly all of them ex-German prisoners of war. The information they furnished on life in their regions in the 1930s reinforced my conviction that nationalism was well and alive in the borderlands of the USSR and that no mass assimilation was taking place.

Islamist Lawfare Defeated in Texas

by Daniel Huff
Frum Forum
January 25, 2010

http://www.meforum.org/2583/islamist-lawfare-defeated-in-texas

[Published as: Islamists’ New Weapon: Libel Law]

Libel suits are not normally associated with national security, but a case the Texas Supreme Court ruled on January 15 carries just such implications. The suit against internet journalist Joe Kaufman is a prime example of how libel law can be manipulated to stifle dissemination of information about terrorism and radical Islam.

It arises out of Kaufman’s September 28, 2007 FrontPage Magazine article on the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), which sponsored a “Muslim Family Day” at Six Flags Over Texas. Kaufman vowed to protest the event citing, among other things, ICNA’s alleged “physical ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and financial ties to Hamas.”

Within days, Kaufman was sued, but not by ICNA. Rather, seven Dallas area Islamist organizations, none of them named in the article, sued Kaufman for defamation arguing they were implicated by inference since they too sponsored the event. In June 2009, a Texas appellate court dismissed the case before it could go to trial because “a reasonable reader who was acquainted with [plaintiffs] would not view Kaufman’s statements as ‘concerning’ them.”” Undeterred, the seven Islamist groups asked the Texas Supreme Court for review.

In what Kaufman termed a “victory for freedom”, the Court rejected their petition and let the appeals court decision stand.

This result is important for two reasons. First, plaintiffs had argued that Kaufman, as an internet journalist, was not entitled to certain procedural protections afforded traditional media defendants that make it easier for them to get libel cases dismissed before they reach the costly trial phase. In a precedential ruling, the appellate court rejected this contention finding generally that “an internet communicator may qualify as a member of the media”.”

Second, the lawsuit fits a growing pattern of Islamists exploiting libel law to silence critics. They file questionable suits knowing they need not win to intimidate, demoralize, and bankrupt opponents. For example, in 2006, a Saudi banker’s mere threat to sue prompted Cambridge University Press to pulp unsold copies of a book on terror financing titled Alms for Jihad, and to request American libraries to remove their copies from circulation.

That this tactic of “lawfare” may have had a role in the Kaufman case, was suggested in a May 17, 2009 broadcast of Crescent Report hosted by Mahdi Bray, executive director of the Muslim American Legal Society Freedom Foundation. After personally castigating Kaufman, Bray explained, “we’ve got to be willing to spend our money in a court of law … and not necessarily because we’re going to look for money, but … to spend our money and make you spend your money.”

The appellate court found the plaintiffs could not even meet the basic requirements for proceeding. However, as a bid to use legal fees to bleed Kaufman into submission the suit was much more promising. In fact, Kaufman would almost certainly have been bankrupt well before the case was dismissed were it not for the legal and financial aid of those dedicated to defending journalists from the threat of lawfare, including the Legal Project of the Middle East Forum and the Horowitz Freedom Center.

Kaufman explained that the plaintiffs’ goal was to stop him from criticizing “those who wish to do harm to the United States, specifically those tied to the extremist Muslim Brotherhood.”” Last Friday’s decision has frustrated these Islamists designs.

A Texas tradition of vigorous commitment to free speech is evident in its founding documents. The 1836 Texas Independence Constitution went even further than the First Amendment by guaranteeing an affirmative “liberty to speak” rather than simply restricting governmental interference with debate. The Texas Supreme Court’s decision preserves this legacy and we should applaud it.

Daniel Huff is Director of The Legal Project of the Middle East Forum.

Who Rules Iran?
Iranian Ambitions

by Reza Molavi and K. Luisa Gandolfo
Middle East Quarterly
Winter 2010, pp. 61-68

http://www.meforum.org/2586/who-rules-iran

In the 30-year reign of Iran’s Islamic Republic, there have been few controversies as serious as the one surrounding the 2009 elections. The votes that brought Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power for a second term have been challenged, not just on paper, but by citizens taking to the streets in angry protests that have only been quelled by brute force on the part of the establishment. Less well known is the upset that followed Ahmadinejad’s nepotistic appointment of Esfandiar Rahim Masha’i, the father of his daughter-in-law, to the post of first vice president. Not long after this, Iran’s supreme leader, ‘Ali Khamenei, demonstrated his personal authority over the entire political system by forcing Ahmadinejad to reconsider his appointee, leading to Masha’i’s dismissal. Masha’i had become controversial for his impolitic references to Israel and America. In a speech at a tourism convention in July 2008, for example, he had observed: “Not only we have no enemy, but we are friends with the American people, with the Israeli people, and we are proud that we are friendly with all the nations in the world.”[1]

Esfandiar Rahim Masha’i (L) joins Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, July 29, 2009. During Masha’i’s term as Tehran’s deputy mayor, Ahmadinejad became infatuated with him and his apocalyptic ideas. But a controversy erupted after Ahmadinejad later appointed him first vice president. Masha’i was forced to resign at Supreme Leader ‘Ali Khamenei’s insistence.

How did this happen? How did a man holding such views on two countries regarded throughout Iran as the Great and Lesser Satan come to such an important public position? Was something less obvious going on? Why was it so important for Khamenei to risk such a public censure of the president?

It is hard to know just what Masha’i intended by his original remarks since they were overtaken so quickly by condemnation and denial. In themselves, they are of little importance since they clearly did not mark any change in emphasis for Iranian foreign policy. It is the incident in its entirety that is of importance, in what it says about the workings of the regime, above all the relationship between the supreme leader and the president.

Why Masha’i?

Masha’i was born in November 1960 in the Caspian Sea resort town of Ramsar. His ability to memorize the Qur’an and recite it at religious functions from the early age of fifteen allowed him to develop his skills as an orator. By the time of the revolution, Masha’i was eighteen and was already organizing marches against the shah and distributing Ayatollah Khomeini’s decrees and instructions. Upon graduation with an electronics engineering degree from Esfahan Technical University (Daneshgah-e San’ati-ye Esfahan), he joined the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) security services. His first posting took him to Kurdistan. While there, Masha’i had the opportunity to meet Ahmadinejad who was then governor of Khoy in western Azerbaijan. Over the years, Masha’i held several posts at the Ministry of the Interior, then as director of Radio Payam, as director of Radio Tehran, and in the national radio and television service. Finally, he was tapped by Ahmadinejad, then mayor of Tehran, to serve as his social and cultural deputy. During Masha’i’s term as deputy mayor of Tehran it is rumored that Ahmadinejad became infatuated with him and his apocalyptic ideas. Both Masha’i’s connections with the Revolutionary Guards’ security forces and his continued involvement in the repression of the Kurds remained as part of his portfolio for several years even when he rose to high office as first vice president.

Moreover, Masha’i’s daughter is married to Ahmadinejad’s son, a union that emerged after years of close friendship between the two families. The association denotes a predilection for domestic connections: Just as Ahmadinejad appointed Masha’i to the post of first vice president (there being ten vice presidents in all), so too, he named his son-in-law, Mehdi Khorshidi, chief of staff—a role Masha’i would take soon after his dismissal from the vice presidency.

The Israel Controversy

Masha’i’s appointment generated controversy on the one hand because of the way in which it was made, and, on the other, because of a remark almost calculated to arouse anger in a wide section of the Iranian public and the political leadership. With what seems in hindsight to have been extraordinary naiveté, he commented publicly on the nature of Israeli-Iranian relations.

Calling the American and Israeli people “friends” engendered apoplexy among clerics and politicians alike. Two hundred deputies wrote to Ahmadinejad condemning Masha’i’s remarks, and Iran’s parliament speaker, Ali Larijani, criticized the statements independently.[2] Students protested outside Masha’i’s office, calling for his dismissal.[3] Masha’i had identified himself with a level of liberalism that could not be tolerated in a regime already under threat from reformists. For the Union of Islamic Students Societies, the removal of Masha’i was a crucial condition for the fundamentalist cause, as outlined in a missive to the vice president himself: “While reaffirming our support for Mr. Ahmadinejad, the best choice for president, we believe that your immediate resignation from the post of vice president would be the only way to serve fundamentalism.” Should he refuse to comply, there would be severe repercussions: “You will be on the receiving end of the dire consequences of this appointment.”[4] Masha’i reiterated: “I will repeat this a thousand more times, that we love the people of Israel, and I am not afraid of anybody saying that.”[5]

But, according to Iranian state radio, on the day following his original remarks, he performed a complete about-face, saying, “This is not what I meant and these are all lies. During my speech I also said that Israel was dead and only its funeral ceremony has been postponed, but they [the press] did not publish these statements.”[6]

He made this clearer later that same day, with two related statements:

By “Israel” I meant the Palestinian and Jewish people living in Palestine, not the immigrant Jews or Zionists because we do not recognize the Zionists at all.[7]

It is obvious that Iran cannot be friendly with Zionist usurpators [sic]. Everyone should have understood that I made a mistake by saying we are friendly with the Israeli people while I had the Palestinians in mind … however, as stated by our dear president several time, Iranians have no enmity with the American or the Jewish people, which we distinguish from the Zionists who occupied Palestinian’s homeland.[8]

Given the alacrity with which he reversed his position, his original statement may have been less significant than commentators have led us to believe. Clearly, something else was happening from the start. If Masha’i’s initial remarks signaled a significant departure from the rhetoric customarily issued from Iran, then the response by Ahmadinejad at a subsequent press conference was just as remarkable. It is important to remember that Ahmadinejad has created a reputation for himself as an uncompromisingly anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist politician. His many statements of hostility toward Jews and Israel have acquired notoriety on the world stage. For example, on October 26, 2005, he said “Our dear imam [Khomeini] ordered that this Jerusalem-occupying regime must be erased from the page of time. This was a very wise statement. … Soon this stain of disgrace will be cleaned from the garment of the world of Islam, and this is attainable.”[9]

Ahmadinejad made a suitably ambiguous statement in response to Masha’i’s pro-Israeli sentiments. The ambiguity allowed Ahmadinejad the luxury of demonstrating solidarity with his colleague without departing from the official line. His statement also opened a way for Masha’i to make the shift in position he so quickly did: “Masha’i’s word,” said Ahmadinejad, “is the administration’s word, and it is very clear. Our nation has no problem with people and nations.”[10] Although surprising, Ahmadinejad’s stance was not unusual, and the events of 2008 were ultimately to prove a prelude for Masha’i’s appointment and the ensuing debate the following year.

Ahmadinejad’s Standing

Masha’i’s appointment generated an outrage that has emphasized the fragile political balance that Ahmadinejad must now strike between extremist organizations and those others who have rendered smooth his professional passage. It also brought into the open the strain in relations between the president as head of state and the supreme leader as the religious leader and overriding authority in the regime. Ahmadinejad’s task is not easy. As a neo-fundamentalist and arch-conservative, he has to carry on a balancing act that will allow him to gain acceptance from the reformist wings of the Iranian state and society. When he was mayor of Tehran, for example, he imposed a religious hard line through which he reversed the reforms that had been instituted by previous moderate mayors. As president, he also came with a mission to roll back the reforms of former presidents such as Mohammad Khatami. His main power base, apart from the Revolutionary Guard Corps, is the I’tilaf-e Abadgaran-e Iran-e Islami (Association of the Developers of Islamic Iran), within which he is one of the most prominent figures.[11] The I’tilaf is one of Iran’s most important bastions of conservatism and is so far to the right that it has been described as a fascist movement. Without its support, it is unlikely that Ahmadinejad would have been elected for the first or second time. His far-right position gave him little flexibility with religious and political moderates. In 2005, many of his cabinet nominations were rejected by the parliament.[12]

Again, following Masha’i’s selection, support for Ahmadinejad was less than forthcoming; for example, the reformist lawmaker Dariush Ghanbari said of the appointment: “Now lawmakers can question Ahmadinejad or even impeach him for this appointment.”[13] Much of the concern rests on Ahmadinejad’s autocratic nature: Instead of consulting the deputies before choosing his cabinet, Ahmadinejad handed the position directly to Masha’i, a move that elicited “shock” from the conservative parliament speaker Ali Larijani.[14] Likewise, the departure of the minister of information, Hujjat al-Islam Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Eje’i, is said to have followed a verbal confrontation with Ahmadinejad over Masha’i’s appointment.[15]

Ahmadinejad and Masha’i remained indifferent in the face of strident objections—an indifference that compelled Khamenei to formally request Masha’i’s removal by Ahmadinejad. On July 21, the supreme leader wrote to his president: “The appointment of Esfandiar Rahim Masha’i to the post of deputy president is contrary to your interest and that of your government, and it will cause division and frustration for your supporters … We must cancel this appointment.”[16] That the supreme leader’s unspoken criticisms passed unacknowledged by the president until they were conveyed through a handwritten letter raised questions among traditional conservative allies of Ahmadinejad as to whether the student was ignoring the voice of his master.

Nevertheless, Khamenei got his way in the end. Masha’i tendered his written resignation, stating: “Obeying the orders of the supreme leader, I do not see myself to be the first vice president but … I will serve our dear people as best I can.”[17] Yet, Ahmadinejad’s perceived insolence in the face of Khamenei’s request angered many clerics, Majlis parliament members, theologians, and the conservative media alike. Ahmadinejad greeted early suggestions that Masha’i should resign by asking, “Why should he resign? Masha’i has been appointed as the first vice president and continues his activities in the government.”[18] This hinted at an attempt by Ahmadinejad to assert personal whims over the wishes of the supreme leader.

Yet the resignation when it came, did not mark the end of the silent antagonism. Ahmadinejad waited one week before passing the resignation letter to Khamenei, along with a brief correspondence that acknowledged the demands of protocol: “Peace be upon you. While sending you a copy of the resignation letter of Mr. (Engineer) Esfandiar Rahim Masha’i … from the position of first vice president, you are hereby informed that in accordance with article 57 of the constitution, the instructions contained in your letter … have been carried out.”[19] The brevity of the correspondence came close to expressing disrespect for the supreme leader. Moreover, while Article 57, which acknowledges the supervision of the supreme leader over all governmental affairs, is noted, Ahmadinejad did not mention any compliance on a religious or legal level, rendering his correspondence merely an accompaniment to the attached resignation letter from Masha’i.

The issue of Masha’i’s appointment and dismissal is only a symptom of a broader malaise afflicting Iranian politics. His attempt to suggest a new démarche for Iranian foreign policy—and on such a sensitive issue—while he was minister for tourism and cultural heritage was clearly misguided and can only have tainted his reputation from that time on. But his rapid turnaround and Ahmadinejad’s measured defense of his views served to give him an extended career that only reached its crisis point following the 2009 elections. Nor were Masha’i’s remarks about Israel the only matters that cast doubt on his ability to maintain the trust of the religious establishment, something that, in turn, cast doubt on Ahmadinejad’s wisdom in appointing him in the first place.

Real Power in Iran

Political leadership in the Middle East has long been guided by patrimonial and patriarchal systems.[20] While this framework gives strength to the political system, it is this strength that also provides the weaknesses within a government that relies so heavily on such a system. An example of this simultaneous fortitude and frailty may be seen in the office of the supreme leader, who is central to all policies and programs. While governmental staff may advise, in the end all ideas are attributed to the leader, and any attempt to override his ultimate authority will result in the rapid deterioration of a plucky politician’s career. Accordingly, if Khamenei in his capacity as supreme leader represents the hub of power, then Ahmadinejad depends on the patronage of Khamenei. Ahmadinejad in turn risks overstepping his mark at any point since the supreme leader holds real power and, to an extent, controls any future political success for Ahmadinejad.

Given the close relationship between Ahmadinejad and Masha’i, it is questionable whether the impetus to remove him arose as a consequence of his not very important statements on Israeli-Iranian relations or whether it carried greater weight as an endeavor by the supreme leader to test the president’s loyalty by compelling him to choose between his confidante and his master. Although Khamenei triumphed, some degree of uncertainty emerged from Ahmadinejad’s lengthy hesitation. This in turn could prove conducive to a widening rift between the supreme leader and the president in an environment in which nobody is indispensable. Thus, the very system that Ahmadinejad thrives in could equally prove his downfall.

Of particular interest is the military dimension. In the case of Iran, this chiefly means the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or Sepah, the religious and governmental henchmen who have the power to silence restless citizens and enforce the whims of the authorities. Since Ahmadinejad took office, the IRGC has demonstrated a fickleness that showed it to be at first aligned with the president until the rift occurred between him and Khamenei. While opting for one over the other was inevitable, given that the IRGC owes its allegiance to the Islamic Republic, rather than to the president, Ahmadinejad nevertheless took a calculated risk; the IRGC had previously supported a number of his earlier political forays against Khamenei.

This latest transgression, however, proved too much, and as Iran specialist James Bill and Middle East politics analyst Robert Springborg note, “When leadership rests so heavily upon the military reed, then it must be prepared to collapse whenever that reed breaks.”[21] Buoyed by previous support, Ahmadinejad leaned on the reed of the IRGC with excessive confidence and since he ignored the supreme leader, clerics, and lay conservatives alike in his quest to sustain Masha’i’s vice presidential role, the IRGC reed finally broke. Choosing the pen over the sword as a means for conveying the switch in allegiance, the political wing of the IRGC, the Sobh-e Sadeq, published an editorial criticizing Ahmadinejad and unmistakably supporting Khamenei in the Masha’i affair.[22] Although the military is a requisite in ensuring the durability of patrimonialist rule, it is fragile, meaning that leaders can be made or unmade at will. In placing too much faith in the mode of governance, Ahmadinejad jeopardized his rule and his future relations with the supreme leader—the repercussions of which will doubtless continue to damage him through what is left of his term in office.

Ahmadinejad as Leader

As Ahmadinejad enters his second term under a cloud in the eyes of those outraged by the Masha’i affair, he must also contend with the wider discord engendered under his previous term. In recent years, global politics has been marked by the ascension of a series of charismatic leaders who invariably pledge salvation for ailing economies, unemployment levels, and domestic and regional security. Charismatic leaders emerge in times of upheaval, imbuing decaying political systems with a vitality that inspires optimism in an uneasy population. It is fitting, then, that as Ahmadinejad entered the initial presidential race for his first term, Iranian politics were ripe for an extraordinary leader. Ali Ansari, history professor at St. Andrews University, Scotland, U.K., observes that “for the purposes of popular consumption, the myth of charismatic autocracy had to be encouraged.”[23] Upon becoming president, Ahmadinejad did bring a charisma that changed the tenor of Iranian politics. Appealing to young and old across the socioeconomic spectrum, he pledged to elevate Iran to new economic and political heights. Yet he was not alone in evoking a charismatic response since the endurance of patrimonialism necessitates new leaders to be attached to “charismatic leaders [who] were accorded supernatural status,”[24]—in this instance Ayatollah Khamenei.

Nevertheless, charisma conceals its own fissures; it does not evolve but is forged in periods of crisis or rapid change. For charismatic leadership to endure from one leader to the next, it must conform to a process, whereby successive holders of the charismatic office do so in a formalized fashion, like the popes or the early caliphs.[25] This in turn results in a self-contradictory evolution. According to Max Weber, the early twentieth-century German political economist and sociologist, pure charismatic authority lacks permanence, and thus the very elements that made the original charismatic leadership dynamic now become enshrined within the bureaucratic or patrimonial system. The fresh, original charisma becomes routinized in a more urbane form of leadership. Moreover, the effects of charismatic leadership are questionable: Impersonal, institutional charisma is a basic requirement for organizational stability,[26] and Ahmadinejad has shown a talent for original charisma, yet enters his second term with a much destabilized administration.

The Iranian economy is in a terminal state, yet the only salvation for it would involve casualties—in this instance in the form of the Iranian employment market. Of course, Ahmadinejad has not been spared his portion of the blame for the economic malaise; his inability to stop spending during the oil price boom resulted in a departure from rational economic policies and the pursuance of policy by decree that resulted in “the exercise of a royal prerogative which would put the shah to shame.”[27] As a result, Ahmadinejad squandered not only the Iranian coffers but also the confidence of the population. Lurching from bad to worse, the damage inflicted on the economy under Ahmadinejad reinforces the reality that the controversy arising over the appointment and dismissal of Masha’i is but the tip of a crisis-infused iceberg and that the decline in relations between Ahmadinejad and Khamenei could be the pressure that will finally break the system within this presidential term.

Conclusion

The tenth presidential elections represented a new chapter in Iran’s intense intra-elite dispute. No one outside or inside Iran can predict the ultimate outcome. One thing has become abundantly clear: Ahmadinejad’s reliance on paramilitary forces to support him in bringing about velayat- e ummat (guardianship of the people) has given way to Khomeini’s doctrine of velayat-e faqih (guardianship of the clergy), the doctrinal principle on which the current system rests. In this context, Khamenei is not obliged to uphold international norms of human rights but to help erect a pure and authentic Islamic government while conforming Shari’a to Iran’s political and social setting. The removal of Masha’i demonstrated, once more, that the real decision-maker in Iran is the supreme leader and not the president. Blaming Iran’s problems on Ahmadinejad would lead us in a dangerous direction by suggesting that those problems will go away when he is finally driven out of office.

Reza Molavi is a research fellow at the School of Government and International Affairs and the executive director of the Centre for Iranian Studies, University of Durham. K. Luisa Gandolfo is a research fellow of the Center for the Advanced Study of the Arab World at the School of Government and International Affairs, University of Durham.

History as Propaganda

by Brendan Goldman
FrontPage Magazine
February 11, 2010

http://frontpagemag.com/2010/02/11/history-as-propoganda/

http://www.campus-watch.org/article/id/9137

“This is not an Israeli-Palestinian debate,” Stanley Cohen, the director of the Scone Foundation, said. “It is [a conference] to honor the archivist profession.”

Cohen’s statement was half true: the event was not a “debate,” but only because there were no dissenting opinions to challenge keynote speaker Rashid Khalidi’s monologue portraying the Palestinians as powerless victims of an Israeli foe intent on destroying their historical records.

Cohen was speaking to an audience of approximately 150 people, mostly members of the general public and scholars of the Middle East, at the Scone Foundation’s “Archivist of the Year” award ceremony, held January 25 at the CUNY Graduate Center’s expansive auditorium in the heart of New York City.

The event was billed as an opportunity to honor the joint recipients of the seventh Archivist of the Year award, Yehoshua Freundlich of the Israeli Archives and Khader Salameh of the Al-Aqsa Mosque Library. Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University and a former spokesman for the PLO, and Professor David Myers, the director of the Center for Jewish Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, were the event’s keynote speakers.

Cohen made clear from the start that he subscribed to the political biases of academia. He claimed that a previous recipient of the Archivist of the Year Award had been “shelved by the Defense Department” for opposing Operation Iraqi Freedom. “Archivists cannot oppose faith-based policies,” Cohen joked with his seemingly sympathetic audience.

Salameh’s and Freundlich’s speeches followed Cohen’s address. The two archivists were dispassionate, thoughtful, and apolitical in describing their work. Salameh demonstrated a fluent grasp of Hebrew when speaking to an Israeli during his presentation, and Freundlich talked about his determination to preserve documents related to Palestinian history.

The American academics proved decidedly less capable of keeping politics out of their speeches. Myers spoke first, stating before he began his address that, “self-critical research,” meaning criticism of the Palestinian narrative, was a “defining feature of [Khalidi’s] work”—a preposterous claim that could not withstand the evidence presented in Khalidi’s own words.

Khalidi began his speech by saying that the “statelessness” of the Palestinians is a “condition that manifests itself directly in the lack of Palestinian national archives.” This proved a half-hearted attempt to make his digression into politics relevant to the subject of the ceremony.

While Myers had discussed how Israel’s leftist “New Historians” challenged the alleged “myths” of Israelis’ “collective memory,” Khalidi sounded almost giddy when he stated, “the founders of the [Israeli] state would be turning in their graves [if they read what these historians wrote].”

Khalidi later made clear that Palestinians, unlike Israelis and Americans, are exempt from the obligation to challenge their national myths: “The collective memory of the Palestinians was perfectly clear,” Khalidi said of the precision of the Palestinian refugees’ recollection of their “expulsion” from the Jewish state.

He neglected to mention that even according to the controversial estimates of the New Historians, at most a third of the Palestinian refugees of Israel’s 1948 War of Independence were expelled; the rest left on their own accord, Palestinians’ “collective memory” to the contrary notwithstanding.

Khalidi claimed Palestinian archives were systematically destroyed by the Israelis, adding that this issue was “exacerbated by the destruction or desecration of religious and historical sites.” He later expanded on this claim: “These actions are often linked to efforts to deny the existence of Palestinians in Palestine.”

The only examples Khalidi offered of such Israeli actions were the bombing of Palestinian archives at a PLO building in Beirut during the First Lebanon War and the closing of the PLO’s Jerusalem headquarters and archives at the Orient House during the Second Intifada. The intuitive reason for such actions—the PLO’s documented support for terrorism and not a desire to “deny the existence of Palestinians”—was seemingly lost on Khalidi.

Given Khalidi’s abandonment of any pretense of discussing the work of the two archivists, Myers was clearly hesitant to challenge Khalidi’s assertions during the question and answer session. He further politicized the conference with a digression on how historians could use their trade to assist Palestinians who claimed to have lost property in Jerusalem. Myers neglected to discuss how historians could help redeem the much more significant financial losses of the approximately 900,000 Jews who fled Arab lands.

However, to his credit, Myers did argue for the “ameliorative role” of archives and their “possibility to craft a shared history [between Israelis and Palestinians].” Cohen had also claimed in a flier for the conference that, “Open archives may very well be instruments to reduce divergence, expand mutual understanding and fruitful cooperation [between Israelis and Palestinians].”

Khalidi ended the awards ceremony on a decidedly less optimistic note. He discussed how Germany and France had fought wars for a century and a half and had to wait 60 years after those conflicts ended before they could establish a joint “peace” curriculum for their schools. He then concluded, “[A Palestinian State], I fear, is unlikely to see the light of day anytime soon, if ever.”

Khalidi’s politicization of an awards ceremony intended to honor the unsung heroes of the archivist profession was predictable to anyone familiar with his public lectures, which routinely politicize rather than analyze the contemporary Middle East. More disturbing was Myers’s and the audience’s complacent acceptance of his usurpation. The professionalism of the Israeli and Palestinian archivists stood in stark contrast to the unwillingness of the American academics to check their politics at the door. The honorees deserved better.

Brendan Goldman is a senior at New York University majoring in Middle Eastern and Islamic studies, and an intern at the Middle East Forum. This essay was sponsored by Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East

Muslims Confront Islamism, Get Targeted by Islamists

by David J. Rusin  •  Feb 14, 2010 at 12:03 pm

http://www.islamist-watch.org/blog/2010/02/muslims-confront-islamism-get-targeted-by

French imam Hassen Chalghoumi recently learned firsthand that Islamists despise non-Islamist Muslims as much as they do anyone else. Chalghoumi attracted their ire by coming out strongly in favor of a ban on face-covering veils, a prohibition that is moving closer to reality. Echoing President Nicolas Sarkozy, he described the niqab as a “prison for women, a tool of sexist domination and Islamist indoctrination” that “has no place in France.” Moreover, he explained:

Having French nationality means wanting to take part in society, at school, at work. But with a bit of cloth over their faces, what can these women share with us? If they want to wear the veil, they can go to a country where it’s the tradition, like Saudi Arabia.

Islamist reaction to his comments was swift and fierce, with a gang of nearly a hundred men storming his Paris mosque during a meeting of an organization focused on interfaith relations:

“They started to cry ‘Allah akbar’ and ‘God is great,'” recounted Chalghoumi. “Then they insulted me, my mosque, the Jewish community, and the [French] republic. They left after an hour and a half.”

According to a member of the Conference of Imams, the mob condemned Chalghoumi as an apostate and threatened him with “liquidation, this imam of the Jews.”

Chalghoumi is not the only moderate risking “liquidation.” Abadirh Abdi Hussein, a Muslim rapper in Sweden, had his head slashed by attackers displeased with his outspoken opposition to al-Shabaab, which has been recruiting young men to join the jihad in Somalia. And, as IW noted in January, Majed Moughni received a death threat after organizing a demonstration by Detroit-area Muslims to denounce the attempted Christmas Day airplane bombing.

Undeterred by this atmosphere of intimidation, many other Muslims have gone on offense against radicalism in recent months. Among them:

  • The Muslim Canadian Congress called on lawmakers to ban the niqab, declaring it a “political issue promoted by extremists” that “has absolutely no place in Canada.”
  • Minhaj-ul-Quran, a Sufi Muslim organization operating in the UK, issued a fatwa against suicide bombings, labeling them “totally un-Islamic” and “violations of human rights.”

As the above examples suggest, at the core of the resurgent jihad is a conflict between an authoritarian interpretation of Islam and a more spiritual, secular interpretation. The fate of two worlds — the Western and the Islamic — will be shaped profoundly by the outcome.

Burqa Wars Erupt on Campus

by David J. Rusin  •  Jan 13, 2010 at 11:14 am

http://www.islamist-watch.org/blog/2010/01/burqa-wars-erupt-on-campus

To ban or not to ban? That is the question being asked across the West regarding Islamic veils that cover the face. One of the more active fronts of this battle: college and university campuses.

Daniel Pipes recently broke the news that a dean at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) had alerted students on December 8 about a revised identification policy going into effect on January 1. Among the updated provisions:

For reasons of safety and security, all students must be readily identifiable while they are on campus and/or engaged in required off-campus activities, including internships and clinical rotations. Therefore, any head covering that obscures a student’s face may not be worn, either on campus or at clinical sites, except when required for medical reasons.

Perhaps the many crimes and terrorist attacks carried out by women and men dressed in burqas or niqabs sparked the reassessment. Or maybe it was the case of 2008 MCPHS graduate Tarek Mehanna, charged with plotting “violent jihad” against the U.S. Regardless, CAIR would have none of this, announcing on January 6 that it was filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging that the rule “negatively impacts the religious rights” of Muslims. Fearful MCPHS dhimmis caved a day later, exempting Islamic veils from the policy.

Several European institutes of higher education have grappled with similar issues in recent months, coming down on different sides of the debate and citing different bits of reasoning:

  • Burnley College in Lancashire, England, prevented a Muslim woman from enrolling because she wears a niqab. “All members of the college community should be identifiable at all times when in the college,” the principal said, adding that unimpeded communication with students aids the learning process.
  • Though its rigid dress code “is strictly enforced at ceremonies, and if you do not observe it, you may not be permitted to graduate on a particular occasion,” Cambridge University stated that exceptions can be made for religious attire, up to and including niqabs and burqas. (Note the Daily Mail’s helpful illustration.) They are also welcome in lectures.
  • New regulations at Sweden’s University of Gothenburg allow professors to set dress codes in their classrooms. According to SR International, “There are situations in which the face of a student has to be uncovered in order to enable lecturers and the other students to see a person’s mimic, explained Pia Götebo Johannesson of the university.”

Even a court in Egypt has upheld university bans on the niqab for examinations, arguing that schools must guard against crafty students disguising themselves as each other.

Pipes asserts that “it’s just a matter of time before this [type of prohibition] becomes accepted fact” on U.S. campuses and beyond. But when veils are treated with more common sense in Egypt than they are in Massachusetts, one cannot be so sure.

Honor Crime in America: 2009 Recap

by David J. Rusin  •  Dec 31, 2009 at 4:03 pm

http://www.islamist-watch.org/blog/2009/12/honor-crime-in-america-2009-recap

Over the past year, Americans have heard much about honor killings on U.S. soil, as even the see-no-evil mainstream press could no longer ignore these crimes. A brief review is in order.

The United States witnessed two high-profile slayings in 2009 that have been widely characterized as honor murders:

  • Muzzammil Hassan is charged with beheading his estranged wife Aasiya on February 12 at the Buffalo-area offices of Bridges TV, the channel they founded to improve the image and self-image of Muslims in the U.S. Previously Aasiya filed for divorce and obtained a protection order against her husband. The start of his trial for second-degree murder has been pushed back to March 2010, so his attorneys can have more time to prepare an insanity defense.
  • Faleh Hassan Almaleki, an immigrant from Iraq reported to be a U.S. citizen, is charged with first-degree murder for running over his daughter Noor, along with her boyfriend’s mother, in an Arizona parking lot on October 20. Noor had scorned an arranged marriage and moved in with a different man. Prosecutor Stephanie Low stated, “By his own admission, this was an intentional act, and the reason was that his daughter had brought shame on him and his family” for being “too Westernized.”

Both cases exhibit hallmarks of honor murder outlined by Phyllis Chesler: “barbaric ferocity” in the Hassan beheading and direct references to family shame in the Almaleki hit and run.

Other honor-related crimes and stories made the news in 2009. Among them:

  • Waheed Allah Mohammad, a New York-based Afghan refugee, pleaded guilty on January 7 to the attempted murder of his sister in 2008; he will serve between five and fifteen years. Mohammad described her as a “bad Muslim girl” who dresses immodestly.
  • On September 17, the mother of Sarah and Amina Said finally declared the January 1, 2008, murder of her daughters to be an “honor killing” by their now-fugitive father.
  • Mehdi M. Matin of Lynnwood, Washington, admitted to killing his visiting brother on October 26. Matin himself called it an honor slaying to avenge a decades-old insult about his onetime bride-to-be. He is charged with second-degree murder.

As argued previously at IW, the appearance of honor murders is a particularly heinous manifestation of a broader problem: the introduction to the West of an Islamist culture that treats women as chattel and places family reputation above human life. How many more must die before we seriously address the ideology that has given birth to honor killings and other extreme examples of domestic violence in the U.S.?

Niqabs or Burqas Banned at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

by Daniel Pipes
December 8, 2009

updated Dec 11, 2009

The Griffin Academic Center, MCPHS’s newest building.

Tarek Mehanna, 27, was arrested on Oct. 21, 2009, in Sudbury, Massachusetts and charged with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists. He allegedly planned to launch terrorist attacks both inside and outside the United States, specifically planning to attack a shopping mall with automatic weapons. Mehanna was a graduate of the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS), where his father Ahmed teaches chemistry.

Today, the dean of students at MCPHS issued a directive to students that “any head covering that obscures a student’s face may not be worn, either on campus or at clinical sites, except when required for medical reasons.” (The full memorandum follows below.)

Comment: Banning niqabs and burqas is an excellent security measure and one that all educational and other institutions should follow. Indeed, every “head covering that obscures” every face should be banned in every public space. For dozens of reasons why, see my weblog entry, “Niqabs and Burqas as Security Threats.” (December 8, 2009)

From: Jean M. Joyce-Brady
Date: Tue, Dec 8, 2009 at 3:23 PM
Subject: Revised MCPHS Identification Policy – Beginning January 1, 2010
To: All Students
Cc: All Faculty, All Staff

Dear MCPHS Students,

As of January 1, 2010, the MCPHS Identification Policy will be revised as stated below. Language in blue font indicates changes in the policy. Human Resources (HR) will be communicating with faculty and staff shortly regarding a similar change to the HR employee identification policy. Thank you for your attention to this policy change.

Sincerely,

Dean Joyce-Brady

IDENTIFICATION POLICY

For reasons of safety and security, all students must be readily identifiable while they are on campus and/or engaged in required off-campus activities, including internships and clinical rotations. Therefore, any head covering that obscures a student’s face may not be worn, either on campus or at clinical sites, except when required for medical reasons. In addition, all students are required to wear their College-issued ID at all times when on campus and/or engaged in required off-campus activities, and to show such upon request of a properly identified official or member of the MCPHS staff. Loss of an ID Card should be reported immediately to the MCPHS Department of Public Safety. The fee to replace an I.D. card–for any reason– is $10; application and payment for replacement is made at the Office of the Registrar. The I.D. card also serves as the College library card.

Jean M. Joyce-Brady, Ph.D.
Dean of Students
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/2009/12/niqabs-or-burqas-banned-at-the-massachusetts

Middle East Studies – A Dangerous Profession

by Daniel Pipes
December 5, 2009

Richard T. Antoun, professor emeritus of anthropology at Binghamton University.

Richard T. Antoun, 77, a professor emeritus of anthropology at Binghamton University, was murdered in his office yesterday, stabbed four times with a 6-inch kitchen knife. This atrocity recalls that, in addition to the figurative brickbats that go with the subject, Middle East studies has a lethal edge.

Abdulsalam S. Al-Zahrani, a 46-year-old Saudi student working on a doctoral thesis in cultural anthropology, “Sacred Voice, Profane Sight: The Senses, Cosmology, and Epistemology in Early Arabic Culture,” was charged with second-degree murder. Antoun sat on Zahrani’s dissertation committee and the two knew each other. His motives are not yet surmised: the district attorney in Broome County, where the murder took place, asserted that there was “no indication of religious or ethnic motivation” in the killing. Roommates of the accused describe him as obsessed with death and of behaving “like a terrorist”.

This is not the first murder of an American specialist on the Middle East:

  • The most parallel murder, of a professor by a Muslim student, was that of Ismail al Faruqi and his wife in 1986 by a convert named Yusuf Ali.
  • There was an attempt by Armenian nationalists to kill Stanford Shaw, then 47, of UCLA in 1977 by placing a bomb at his house.
  • An earlier ex-president of the Middle East Studies Association was likewise murdered in his office by angry Arabs, that being Malcolm Kerr, 52, then president of the American University of Beirut who was shot and killed in 1984.
Abdulsalam S. Al-Zahrani, accused of stabbing Richard T. Antoun to death.

Turned around, a number of Middle East specialists have been implicated in terrorism, a subject I covered in 2003 at “Terrorist Profs” and “More Praise for ‘Terrorist Profs’: Mohamed Yousry.” Also, there is at least one case of a Middle East specialist being convicted of murder, that being Mine Ener, 38, of Villanova University who took the life in 2003 of her five-month-old baby daughter with Down Syndrome, then a few weeks later committed suicide while in jail. (December 5, 2009)


My Words Mangled by Leftists and Islamists – A Bibliography

by Daniel Pipes
November 30, 2009

What is it about Leftists and Islamists that they cannot read straight? Is it the influence of post-modernism or plain old shoddy habits? In any case, I – like so many conservatives – find myself consistently having my words or my intent distorted and having to correct the record.

I have brought together dozens of such instances at a weblog entry titled “Department of Corrections (of Others’ Factual Mistakes about Me).” In addition, I wrote up some of the particularly colorful and demonstrably distorted cases in a listing that will be updated as needed (and needed, sadly, it will be needed):

Comment: There is no parallel here. I know of no Leftist or Islamist who has or could compile such a listing of egregious mistakes.

(November 30, 2009)

http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/2009/11/mangled-by-leftists-and-islamists

http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/2009/12/middle-east-studies-a-dangerous-profession