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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Egypt Sends 13 to Trial in Public Sex Assault Case

CAIRO (AP) — Officials in the office of Egypt’s top prosecutor say 13 men have been referred to trial for assaulting women during a public rally, in what was the first implementation of tough new penalties against rampant sexual violence.

FILE — In this Monday, Aug. 20, 2012 file photo, an Egyptian youth, trailed by his friends, gropes a woman crossing the street with her friends in Cairo, Egypt. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, Egypt’s newly sworn-in president, has apologized in person to a woman who was sexually assaulted by a mob during weekend celebrations marking his inauguration. Several women were assaulted during the Sunday, June 8, 2014 inaugural festivities. (AP Photo/Ahmed Abd El Latif, El Shorouk Newspaper, File)
The Saturday referral comes less than a week after a mob brutally attacked and sexually assaulted a group of women during celebrations following the inauguration of President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi.
The speedy trial reflects a government push to address the issue. Harassment has long been a problem, but assaults have become more frequent and gruesome over the past three years. El-Sissi visited one of the survivors in the hospital, apologizing and promising tough actions against the attackers.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.

In Just One Tweet, the Islamic Militants Who Are Taking Over Iraq Reveal How Barbaric They Really Are (GRAPHIC)

BAGHDAD (TheBlaze/AP) – Radical Islamic militants in Iraq reportedly tweeted a picture of a Sunni police chief’s severed head and made a disturbing “joke” about using it as a soccer ball.
“This is our ball…it is made of skin #WorldCup,” the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria group allegedly wrote.
By using the popular hashtag, it increased the likelihood that more people would see the gruesome photo. The Twitter account was shut down after the graphic tweet.
Source: NY Post
Source: NY Post
In a horrifying propaganda video, the terrorists are shown storming the Sunni police chief’s home at night before blindfolding him and beheading him with a huge knife. It wasn’t immediately clear when the video was taken.
Fighters from the al-Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant made fresh gains, driving government forces at least temporarily from two towns in an ethnically mixed province northeast of Baghdad. The assault threatens to embroil Iraq more deeply in a wider regional conflict feeding off the chaos caused by the civil war in neighboring Syria.
In Geneva, U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay warned of “murder of all kinds” and other war crimes in Iraq, and said the number killed in recent days may run into the hundreds, while the wounded could approach 1,000.
Pillay said her office has received reports that militants rounded up and killed Iraqi army soldiers as well as 17 civilians in a single street in Mosul. However, the rebels have made the unverified claim that they have killed over 1,700 Iraqi soldiers and police officers.
Obama did not specify what options he was considering, but he ruled out sending American troops back into combat in Iraq.

“We’re not going to allow ourselves to be dragged back into a situation in which, while we’re there we’re keeping a lid on things, and after enormous sacrifices by us, after we’re not there, people start acting in ways that are not conducive to the long-term stability and prosperity of the country,” Obama said on the South Lawn of the White House.
Administration officials said Obama is weighing airstrikes using drones or manned aircraft. Other short-term options include an increase in surveillance and intelligence-gathering. The U.S. also is likely to increase aid to Iraq, including funding, training and both lethal and non-lethal equipment.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Understanding Islamic Extremism Islamic extremism is driven by a totalitarian interpretation of Islam that believes in a global Islamic state.

What is Islamic Extremism?
Islamic extremism is driven by an interpretation of Islam that believes that Islamic, or sharia, law is an all-encompassing system proscribed by Allah (Arabic for “God”) which must be instituted by a global Islamic state. As such, Islamic extremists consider it to be the only truly legitimate form of governance.
Thus, the ultimate objective of Islamic extremists is the merger of “mosque and state” under sharia law. Those who favor such an approach are called Islamists. Their ideology is called Islamism, or political Islam.
(Photo: © Reuters)(Photo: © Reuters)Related terms for Islamic extremism include radical Islam and Islamic supremacy.
Islamic extremists believe they are obligated to install this form of governance in Muslim-majority territories, countries and, eventually, the entire world. In the minds of Islamic extremists, they are promoting justice and freedom by instituting sharia.
In some cases, Islamic extremists even describe sharia as a superior form of “democracy.”
Islamic extremists have intermediate political goals which they believe will pave the way for the global implementation of sharia.One of these goals is the removal of non-Muslim military forces from Muslim lands and the overthrow of “enemy” regimes.
Acts of Islamic extremism includes terrorism, human rights abuses, the advancement of sharia-based governance, bigotry towards non-Muslims and rival Muslims and overall hostility to the West and, in particular, Western democracy.

Why is Islamic extremism in the news?
Islamic extremism is the primary national security and human rights concern of the world today.
It is firstly the primary motivator of acts of terrorism worldwide. Secondly, as Islamic extremists gain power and rule, human rights abuses – including oppression of women, homosexuals and religious minorities as well as governmental tyranny, sectarian warfare and bigotry inherent in sharia law – come to the fore.

What is the difference between Islamic extremism and terrorism?
CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations) Executives. CAIR was labeled an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land terror financing trial. (Photo:  © Reuters)CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations) Executives. CAIR was labeled an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land terror financing trial. (Photo: © Reuters)Not all Islamic extremists carry out violent acts. Islamic extremists can advance their goals using non-violent tactics such as activism, developinginterfaith coalitions with unsuspecting non-Muslims, fundraising, building political influence and the overall spreading of the ideology. These extremists follow a doctrine called gradualism. The largest Islamic extremist group to use this method is the Muslim Brotherhood.
Islamic terrorists, on the other hand, use violence and terrorism to instill fear and to gain political power in order to establish their goals.
Often times, groups that ascribe to the doctrine of gradualism as their own modus operandi support other Islamic extremist groups involved in terrorism financially, such was the case when a group of Muslim Brotherhood entities in the U.S. were listed as unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation case for financing the Hamas terror organization.

Is Islamic Extremism Related to Islam?
Islamic extremism derives from a radical interpretation of Islam. Even among Islamic extremists, there are interpretative differences stemming from different sects and/or doctrines. It’s important to note that not all Muslims subscribe to a radical interpretation of Islam. Clarion Project regularly interviews moderate Muslims to highlight their viewpoints and their fight against the ideology of Islamic extremists.

What has caused the rise of Islamic extremism in the world?
Modern Islamic extremism grew out the Islamic revivalist movement, which began in the late 19th century. Islamic revivalism was a response to the perceived weakness of the Muslim world compared to the British empire, as well as the rise of secularism due to the increased influence of the Western values in Muslim countries.
Thinkers associated with Islamic revivalism preached a fresh interpretation of Islamic texts based on goals of pan-Islamic unity and the establishment of Islamic states based on sharia law.

How should governments combat with the phenomenon of Islamic extremism?
One school of thought contends that Islamic extremism is bred by political and societal grievances. Thus, this school believes that extremists are provoked by injustices committed by the West and their governments and armies in Muslim countries.
According to this school, Islamic extremism should be countered by addressing these “grievances” of angry Muslim populations through foreign policy changes, political concessions where there are areas of disagreements, improved governance of Muslim countries, income redistribution and dialogue.
The other school of thought holds that these grievances, bred by Islamic extremists, are just excuses to justify antagonism towards the West. This side argues that the Islamic extremist worldview leads to the adoption of these grievances. Advocates of this school of thought note that the grievances cannot account for all elements of Islamic extremism, such as the abuse of women and other human rights violations in sharia-based societies.
According to this school, Islamic extremism can only be countered by undermining the ideology itself. Reformist Muslims that support an interpretation of Islam that is favorable to modernity and Western democracy are viewed as critical to fighting Islamic extremists.

What are some examples of Islamic extremist groups?
The most popular Islamic extremist group is the Muslim Brotherhood, an international organization that believes in wagingjihad through various means in order to establish worldwide shariarule. One of those means is through a process of “cultural or civilization” jihad, which follows the Brotherhood’s strategy ofgradualism.
There are many political parties (i.e. the Freedom and Justice Party in Egypt) and terrorist groups (i.e. Hamas) that belong to the Brotherhood. In fact, according to Steve Emerson, the executive director of the highly respected Investigative Project on Terrorism, “The vast majority of Sunni terrorist groups – including al Qaeda, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad – are derived from the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Other examples of Islamic extremist groups include Hezbollah, the Taliban, Jamaat-e-Islami, Jamaat ul-Fuqra, Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Nation of Islam and various Salafist groups.

Who sponsors the spread of Islamic extremism?
Islamic extremism can spread organically, but there is an identifiable infrastructure that spreads it. This infrastructure includes foreign governments, mosques, schools, media – including internet and social media -- social services and non-governmental organizations.
The U.S. State Department designated four governments as State Sponsors of Terrorism: Iran, Syria, Sudan and Cuba. The Iranian government is considered the world’s largest sponsor of terrorismin the world.
The U.S. government has also documented the fact that Iran supports terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command. Iran also supports radical militias in Iraq and Yemen and directly participates in acts of terrorism globally.
The Syrian government supports Hezbollah and is a chief ally of Iran. It has historically supported other terrorist groups as well, but that support ended when these other groups endorsed the Syrian rebels trying to overthrow the Syrian government.
The Sudanese government works closely with Iran and is a well-known supporter of Hamas. There are also allegations that Sudan supports Hezbollah and elements of Al Qaeda.
The Cuban government supports non-Muslim terrorist groups in Latin America and harbors at least one Muslim terrorist wanted by the U.S. government. The non-Muslim groups supported by Cuba, specifically the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), are known to have ties to Hezbollah.
There are other governments that have not been designated as “State Sponsors of Terrorism” but are accused of supporting Islamic terrorist groups or Islamic extremism. They include:
  • Pakistan, who is a known sponsor of Islamic terrorists and their religious schools, called madrasses. Pakistan is a continual promoter Islamic extremism.
  • Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, who are lavish funders of a virulent form of Islam called “Wahhabism.” This funding has carried on for decades, even while these countries battle some of its adherents like Al-Qaeda.
  • Turkey and Qatar, who are major backers of the Muslim Brotherhood movement;
  • Eritrea, who is a documented sponsor of Islamic extremists including Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia, Al-Shabaab; and
  • Venezuela, who has been accused of allowing Iranian and Hezbollah operatives to support terrorism from its soil.

In the West, Islamic extremist groups and their supporters spread their ideology (and, in some cases, directly sponsor terrorism) using a network of front groups. An example would be the Iranian government’s use of the Alavi Foundation in New York or the Muslim Brotherhood’s establishment of various political organizations under different names, like CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations, one of the U.S. Islamist organizations that was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land terror funding trial.

Who are the ideological opponents of Islamic extremists?
The enemies of Islamic extremists are anyone who does not favorsharia-based governance or opposes Islamic extremist ideology and its agenda.
Muslims who support a reformation in Islamic teaching that is favorable to critical examination, Western democracy, modernity, human rights, and separation of mosque and state are opponents of Islamic extremism.

Who Supports Islamic Extremism?
Hamas terrorists in Gaza (Photo: © Reuters)Hamas terrorists in Gaza (Photo: © Reuters)Support for Islamic extremist ideology is high in the Muslim world, with Islamic terrorist groups garnering double-digit support. These terror groups have even won elections; of note is Hamas’s 2006 victory in the Gaza Strip and the Muslim Brotherhood’s 2012 victory in Egypt. The Islamist Ennhada party won the 2011 elections in Tunisia, the country that began the “Arab Spring.”
However, the Islamic extremists’ takeovers have led to decisive backlashes. After a year of governance marred by Islamist power grabs, popular disapproval drove the Egyptian army to depose the Muslim Brotherhood from power in 2013. Tunisia’s Ennhada party, not wanting to suffer the same fate as their Egyptian brothers, agreed to step down from power after massive protests against it. In an unprecedented move, the Ennhada government resigned in January 2014.

Showdown in Libya Between Opposition and Islamist Militias Brotherhood victories in the Arab Spring have triggered a backlash against Islamist rule. Now the Libyan people are joining that revolt.

The Libyan population, fed up with radical militias and an Islamist-led parliament, are supporting a counter-revolution against theMuslim Brotherhood and other Islamic extremists. It began with the launch of “Operation Dignity” by General Khalifa Hifter and it sparked the scheduling of new elections on June 25.
Hifter and the secular opposition view the dysfunctional, Islamist-led parliament as being in league with radical militias and terrorists. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Libyan branch, the Justice and Construction Party, lost the 2012 parliamentary elections in a landslide. However, it has brought independents over to its side, giving them a functional majority.
This unpopular interim parliament was supposed to expire in February, but it gave itself another year. The Islamist bloc thenchose Ahmed Matiq as Prime Minister on May 4, the third Prime Minister since Qaddafi’s fall, in a hotly contested vote.
Secularists argue that Matiq is illegitimate because he only won 113 votes in the initial session, seven short of what is required. After the session was officially adjourned, voting resumed and opponents argue that parliamentarians who were not present were illegally allowed to vote. More recently, the Islamist-led parliament voted inhis cabinet.
The revolt is about much more than the performance of the interim parliament, though. It is part of a regional backlash against the Islamist movement, and it was triggered by the Libyan people who are fed up with instability caused by Islamic extremist militias and terrorists.
“There is one enemy and that is the Muslim Brotherhood, the malignant disease which is seeking to spread throughout the bones of the Arab world,” Hifter said.
When asked about whether he wants to eliminate the group entirely, he answered, “Yes…completely. I am not looking for reconciliation.”
Hifter says he arrested 40 extremists that were given fake passports by the Brotherhood, accusing the group’s members in Egypt of being “the driving forces behind extremists arriving in Libya.”
Hifter and his allies view the Brotherhood, Al-Qaeda and other Islamist radicals in the same vein.
“The Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Qaeda want Libya to be an emirate,” explains Attiyah Omar al-Mansour, a former air force brigadier-general and ally of Hifter.
Hifter was originally a general under the Qaddafi regime but he defected to the opposition in 1987 after being defeated in the war against Chad. He left the rebel force named the Libyan National Salvation Front and moved to Virginia. He again linked up with the Libyan rebels once the civil war began and served under secular commander Abdel-Fattah Younes, who was then assassinated by Islamists.
Hifter’s offensive began with an attack on Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi, a group suspected of participating in the 2012 attack on U.S. facilities in Libya that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens. In January, the State Department designated the group as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. He then went after other militias in Benghazi and Tripoli.
Right now, Hifter is focused on stabilizing Benghazi; he says he will then work on Darnah. The death toll is now above 70.
Early last week, two secular militias attacked the parliament building and declared the body’s suspension. The Libyan government responded by utilizing an alliance of Islamist militias named “Libya’s Central Shield.” The Prime Minister refuses to resign. About 4,000 Islamist militiamen have assembled in southern Tripoli.
Hifter originally said that the constitutional constituent assembly should act in parliament’s place, but they refused. He then asked the Supreme Judicial Council to form a presidential council to lead the country until new elections take place. He insists that his forces’ objective is not military rule, but the “continuation of political life” and civilian rule.
Ansar al-Sharia predictably claims this is a “war against…Islam orchestrated by the United States and its Arab allies.” The Muslim Brotherhood is condemning it as a coup against democracy, but saysit condemns violence on all sides.
Brotherhood spiritual leader Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi and his Association of Muslim Scholars are urging Libyans to stand “firmly against whoever tries to topple the legitimacy and sow sedition." Despite the Brotherhood’s public commitment to non-violence, this is an indirect way of inciting violence against Hifter’s forces by labeling them as threats to the Muslim world.
The Washington Post acknowledges that “supporters have been flocking to Hifter from all directions.” On Friday, thousands of Libyans demonstrated in support of Hifter. They named it the “Friday of Dignity.” There were no major protests against him.
A large number of secular politicians, military forces, tribal leaders and even some militias have officially endorsed his offensive. He has the backing of militiamen that control the majority of the country’s oil and militias in both the east and the west.
He has won the support of former Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, the commander of the air force, the chief of the navy (who was subsequently wounded in an assassination attempt), the commander of the army’s special forces, the ambassador to the United Nations, the police department of Tripoli, the Culture Minister, and the list goes on.
The U.S. government may have learned from its mistakes in Egypt when it opposed the popular revolution that brought down the Muslim Brotherhood government. This time, the U.S. is taking a more neutral stance and the ambassador even giving granting Hifter some legitimacy.
The State Department gave a soft statement condemning violence by all sides. Its wording suggested opposition to Hifter, saying, “We have not had contact with him recently. We do not condone or support the actions on the ground, nor have we assisted with these actions.”
However, U.S. Ambassador to Libya Deborah Jones said the U.S. government is not condemning Hifter.
She defended his cause, saying, “It’s very difficult to step up and condemn” him because he’s “going after very specific groups…on our list of terrorists.” This is an important statement because it substantiates Hifter’s argument that he’s confronting terrorists, whereas the Islamists make it sound like a political purge.
She also confirmed that his “Operation Dignity” is popularly supported, saying, “I hear a lot of support of his actions against these groups but less for him as an individual.”
Jones pushed back against the Islamist narrative that he is launching a “coup.” She said, “He’s not declared that he wants to be the ruler; he’s not declared that he wants to be in charge of the state.”
“What he has declared is that he wants the GNC [interim parliament] to step aside because the GNC has thus far failed to take any action to respond to the unhappiness of many Libyans, that it has outstayed its time, and there's no forcing mechanism to compel it to leave," she explained.
There is much suspicion that Hifter is supported by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. She would not confirm or deny it but conceded, “Libyans who reside in the UAE and Egypt support him.”
It seems unlikely that the Islamists will perform well in the June 25 elections. If a secular parliament results, Libya will join the anti-Iran/anti-Brotherhood bloc led by Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Algeria, which has resisted pressure to ban the Brotherhood as a terrorist group, is reportedly considering joining the bloc due to the developments in Libya.
The Islamists’ initial victories in the Arab Spring have triggered ananti-Brotherhood backlash. The revolt in Libya is part of a growing recognition by Muslims that Islamist rule isn’t to be desired.

Horror That Never Ends: Young Egyptian Woman Recounts FGM 'I’ll never forget the look of the razor blade she used with no anesthetic. I’ll never forget the sound of my own screams, either.'

The United Nations estimates that every year, three million girls are subjected to the horror of female genital mutilation (FGM).

The following is a personal account of female genital mutilation (FGM) from a young woman from Egypt. The account appeared on the Facebook page of an Egyptian organization, NGO Coalition against FGM.

UNICEF reports that over 90 percent of Egyptian women between the ages of 15 and 49 have undergone FGM.
My name is Umniya. At the end of the school year, during vacation, when I was nine years old my family spoke about circumcision. They arranged it as quickly as possible since, “The girl has grown up and her body is hot.”
“We will be happy if it can be completed before the end of the vacation,” they said.
They couldn’t find a doctor to do it, but our neighbor told my mother about an excellent midwife that cuts many girls. My family agreed and they brought a woman named Um Chamdi.
I’ll never forget the way she looked, her name or her voice -- it rings in my ears to this day. I’ll also never forget the look of the razor blade she used with no anesthetic. I’ll never forget the sound of my own screams, either.
The two of them held me down as if I were a sacrificial lamb. After it was finished, my body went limp, and I felt extreme pain and burning, and then I heard their conversation:
“Wow, Um Chamdi, she’s bleeding a lot.”
“That happens many times. Give her a good meal.”
They continued talking between them. I was petrified and screaming but no one listened to me.
A day I’ve never forgotten and will never forget. Every drop of blood and a powerful burning sensation when urinating for a long time.
I experienced never ending infections. Due to the incessant infections, my mother took me to the doctor.
“Your daughter was cut.”
“Yes that’s our regular cutting.”
“I want to tell you that your daughter’s clitoris did not need to be cut. Whoever did that is a donkey. He completely removed it. Is she bleeding?”
“Yes, a lot.”
“Unfortunately, I cannot help your daughter. I will give you creams for the infections each time she has them. The infections will be chronic.”
Emotionally, I was in a terrible state with the thought that I was different. Each time the infections would recur I wouldn’t be able to move much, and I had a lot of pain that would radiate to my inner parts.
I felt embarrassed about the topic around the rest of family and especially the boys.
As I matured and my friends talked about love and their feelings, I didn’t have those feelings. I was afraid that marriage would bring back my trauma, and that I would start bleeding again. Whenever someone talks about cutting, the memories of my cutting come back to me.
I read on the internet that if a husband sees that that he’s not able to bring pleasure to his wife, or that she’s too quiet that he loses interest. I am afraid of getting into an unsuccessful marriage, and for me it will be the easiest and most comfortable not to get into any romantic relationship at all.
The following video explains the life-long effects of FGM (Warning: Disturbing Content)