Tag Archive: politics


Chris Hedges has a thought provoking discussion with Norman Finkelstein, i might not agree with his views on BDS, but nonetheless there is alot to learn from him

An interview on BBC Live 5 with Dr Leon Moosavi and others on the issue of extradition

Source

Dressed in black shirts with faces hidden by helmets, ten men on motorbikes came to find him on a Saturday, after darkness fell.

Finding the door bolted at his home in a pot-holed Athens side street, they smashed the windows, broke in and trashed the place. Then, their dirty work done, the neo-Nazi gang roared away into the hot evening. It had taken less than a minute for them to sound an ugly warning that foreigners were not welcome in Greece.

Their target was Imam Shahbaz Siddiqi, a 42-year-old spiritual leader of the Greek capital’s 500,000 Muslims. ‘I was at the mosque praying when they searched for me the other night,’ he told me yesterday. ‘I thank God for that, or else I might now be dead.

‘During the night I went three times to the police station to report the break-in. At the desk I was told that the officers did not have time to investigate my complaint. They were too busy. There is one law for the Greek people and another for us immigrants.’

The attack on Imam Siddiqi is the latest racist outrage by neo-Nazis in a country riddled with xenophobia. In an era of crushing debt and poverty, the immigrant is blamed for almost every Greek ill.

On the same weekend, a young Pakistani immigrant, Hussein Abbas, was viciously attacked outside his home in Elefsina on the outskirts of Athens by the men in dark shirts. He ended up in hospital, his face smashed to a bloody pulp.

So dangerous are the streets for foreigners that the U.S. State Department has sent out a warning to dark-skinned American visitors that they must be careful of their safety when they leave their hotels.

A shocking internet video shows leaders of the anti-immigrant Far-Right Golden Dawn party — which has 18 MPs — marching into an ethnic street market at Rafina, an hour’s drive from Athens, destroying the stalls with wooden clubs and scattering the merchandise to the ground.

‘We found a few illegal immigrants selling their wares without permits,’ says Giorgos Germenis, one of the party’s MPs. ‘We did what our party has to do and then went to church to pay respects to the Madonna.’

Of course, it is not just immigrants who are subject to the fury of the Greek masses. Last week German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Athens to taunts from 50,000 protesters, many waving swastikas and dressed in Nazi uniforms.

There were banners proclaiming ‘From Hitler to Merkel’, which harked back to the hated Nazi occupation of Greece during World War II — and which surely made a mockery of the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the EU last week.

The German Chancellor, too, is blamed for the social turmoil crippling this country, which faces further austerity cutbacks on her orders and those of eurozone finance ministers.

The descent of Greece into chaos could not be more different from the halcyon days after the country joined the European Union 31 years ago, and then milked the system for all its worth.

Early retirement, generous state-paid pensions, countless millions on the public payroll and institutionalised tax fraud were a way of life. Hairdressers, for example, were listed among the 600 ‘professions’ allowed to retire at 50 with a state pension of 95 per cent of their final year’s earnings on account of the ‘arduous and perilous’ nature of their work.

Now the big, fat EU gravy train has hit the buffers, drastic austerity measures mean pay rates and pensions have been slashed and taxes are going sky high in a frantic bid to balance the books. The retirement age is to be raised to 67.

Greece is in its fifth consecutive year of recession, something that no European country has endured in the past 65 years, except in wartime. Half of the young are jobless and a third of stores in Athens have closed.

And yet the EU is demanding a further £12 billion of spending cuts before they will hand over another emergency bailout of £35 billion to stop the country going bankrupt.

Soup kitchens are feeding once well-to-do Athenians and homeless hostels are full of the middle class who have been forced to sell their homes and are struggling to take in what has befallen them so fast. Little wonder there is such anger on the streets.

Some speculate that civil breakdown and the unravelling of democracy in Greece may be just around the corner.

Last week as Chancellor Merkel visited, protests were outlawed in Athens. No one took the slightest notice of the rules, as Molotov cocktails were hurled by rioters at police guarding parliament and ordinary people cheered them on.

It is from this cauldron of bewilderment and fury that the neo- Nazis and their triumphant party, Golden Dawn, have emerged with such sudden popularity.

As 71-year-old Doukas Thanassis, queuing for lentils in a smart grey suit at a church-run soup kitchen in central Athens, told me defiantly: ‘I voted for the party. They are the only ones who help us in this time of trouble.

‘Every Wednesday you can buy the party’s newspaper at the local street kiosk. It prints a list of places where Golden Dawn hand out food and even medicines to the Greek people. They pay for ambulances to take us to hospital if we are ill.’

Mr Thanassis, the former head chef on a Greek cruise line who lives in a homeless hostel, adds: ‘These free gifts are only for us Greeks, not for foreigners. The meat in the sandwiches they give us is pork so the Muslim migrants don’t come and scrounge it. These foreigners shouldn’t be here anyway.’

Beside him, others in the queue nod approvingly.

Even Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, leader of the New Democracy party (Centre Right) running an unruly coalition with Left-wingers, blames Greece’s woes on ‘waves of illegal immigrants’ from Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and north and sub-Saharan Africa, who smuggle themselves over the Turkish border for a new life.

Mr Samaras says that with 1.5 million recent arrivals in a country of 11 million Greeks, the immigrants are ‘creating extremism’ and feeding the extraordinary popularity of Golden Dawn.

When I visited Greece in May, Golden Dawn was a name that was barely whispered. Today the party has a foothold in parliament — with 18 of the 300 seats — and talk of the neo-Nazi party’s popularity is on everyone’s lips.

In cafes, taxis and bars, Greeks of all ages and social backgrounds discuss the latest official poll prediction that Golden Dawn would claim 22 per cent of the vote — rather than the 6.9 per cent it garnered in June’s national poll — if a general election were called tomorrow. Almost a quarter of those under 25 support the party.

If the same political swing was happening in Britain, it would mean that 60 Parliamentary seats would be in the hands of extreme Right-wingers.

‘And don’t compare these people to the British National Party or the English Defence League,’ a Greek professor warned recently. ‘They make the BNP look like Julie Andrews.’

It is an open secret that a Greek who thinks he has a problem with migrants can call a special number at Golden Dawn to get their brutal style of help.

I was told the disturbing story of an Athenian lady of 60 whose central city apartment with wood floors and fine drapes was taken over by Pakistani and Bangladeshi squatters while she visited her family in Crete.

She returned to find the door barred and graffiti at the entrance to the block telling the owner to stay away.

She called the special number. A man on the line told her to stay with friends for a week and everything would be all right, so she took the advice.

Seven days on, she went back to her apartment. The place was empty of the interlopers. The curtains had been cleaned, the floor polished, and she moved back in. Urban myth, ethnic cleansing or proof that Golden Dawn gets things done? Many Greeks prefer to believe the last of these.

As 54-year-old Agnes Bakas, sitting in the sun at a coffee bar in Attika Square, Athens, said: ‘Every Athenian knows Golden Dawn will send their people to help a Greek.’

On the white wall behind her, a Nazi swastika is painted and the kiosk selling newspapers under the trees is a known meeting place for young Golden Dawn supporters who gather menacingly with their motorbikes and black shirts.

But this does not bother Agnes. She says: ‘This square was full of immigrants, but Golden Dawn cleared them out. I was robbed seven times before that near my home down the road. Even my necklace was pulled from me by an African. I could not have sat here safely, even in the day, a year ago.’

Whatever the accuracy of her story, Golden Dawn has taken full advantage of claims of immigrant crime. The party has widespread support among the rank-and-file Greek police (the Golden Dawn vote soared at the polling booths near police stations in Athens) and peddles the line that 37 Greeks have been killed by immigrants in the past few years.

A vicious attack and rape of a 15-year-old Greek girl by a Pakistani illegal migrant aged 23 on the island of Paros this summer played into the party’s hands. The Pakistani admitted the crime and the girl, battered over the head with a rock, is still in intensive care in a hospital near her home in Athens.

Academics in Greece warn of disturbing parallels between the rise of the Right today in an economically crippled country indebted to the EU and the rise of the Nazis in the Thirties after hyper-inflation in Germany’s Weimar Republic led to economic collapse.

Between the wars, you may recall, an indebted Germany was forced to make huge reparation payments to the victorious Allies of the Great War as a punishment for starting the conflict. The German people felt humiliated, just as the Greeks feel hostile to their eurozone masters and Mrs Merkel today.

The Nazis claimed their first parliamentary seats even as they were garnering the local support of Germans by sending out gangs of ‘storm troopers’ to terrorise Jewish and immigrant communities and blame them for the troubles of the time. It sounds horribly familiar.

As Nickos Dermetzis, a professor of political science at the Athens University, explains: ‘We have a major socio-economic crisis in which native Greeks are losing ground. You also have a rising number of immigrants, many illegal.

‘This is a volcanic situation where all the classic parameters for the flourishing of a Far-Right force such as Gold Dawn are present.’

Of course, it does not help that police are struggling to cope with the huge numbers of illegal immigrants arriving daily in Greece. Their sweeps of immigrants happen regularly in Athens and the port of Patras, a three-hour drive away, where a thousand immigrants doss down in disused factory buildings near the promenade. They wait, hoping to smuggle themselves on to freight and passenger ferries going to Italy.

Ten days ago, 350 Afghanis, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis were picked up in Patras and put in holding centres. As one disgruntled resident, a man in his 50s living near the promenade, said: ‘They only took a few and so many are here. I am no racist, but this town used to be paradise. The police sweeps are a merry-go-round. The ones they took today will be back next week, wait and see.’

It is a viewpoint supported by Andreas Nicolacopoulos. The 59-year-old architect is a leading light in the Patras Golden Dawn party.

‘The Greek people don’t want illegal immigrants,’ he says. ‘They have to be deported to their own countries. We have to stop them coming in, too. We will lay landmines at the Turkish-Greek border to blow them up so they do not enter our country. We have promised our voters this.’

Golden Dawn also wants to make immigrant criminals serve double the prison terms of their Greek counterparts and introduce capital punishment for foreign murderers.

Back in Athens, I meet Golden Dawn’s spokesman, MP Iliopoulos Panagiotis, at the Greek Parliament building.

The face of this 34-year-old former internet marketing executive can be seen clearly on the video of immigrants being attacked at the market by Golden Dawn’s louts.

Mr Panagiotis is in bullish form. He boasts that the party is so popular that at the next election it will be the second biggest in Greece. ‘In a few years, we expect to be the biggest of them all,’ he says.

The party’s MPs arrogantly puff on cigarettes even though smoking is banned inside the parliament building. They wear black shirts with the word ‘Hooligans’ emblazoned in orange on the sleeve. They have tattoos on their arms.

And on the walls are the blue flags stamped with the party’s swastika-style logo, an ancient Greek symbol.

The official Golden Dawn line is that they are not Nazis, even neo-Nazis, but nationalists wanting to save Greece for the Greek.

So what does Mr Panagiotis plan for illegal immigrants? ‘We will fly every one of them home,’ he says.

‘Even Pakistan would not dare shoot our planes down when their own people are on board and would be killed.’

And what does he think of the racist Golden Dawn gangs that systematically beat up those who were not born Greek?

‘We have a million supporters, some of them wilder elements. We cannot control them all,’ he says with a smirk.

It is hard to believe that his words are those of an elected MP in the Parliament of a modern democracy. Yet anything is possible now in Greece, as the unpalatable face of fascism makes an unwelcome return to Europe.

Excellent discussion on the Alonya show on the politics of Obama, Mitt Romney, Islamophobia and the US’s engagement with the Muslim World

Source

Court documents unearthed in the US reveal how senior detectives regularly carried out searches and enquiries on behalf of the FBI.

Metropolitan Police detectives agreed to nine separate requests from FBI agents to provide information on Babar Ahmad at a time when the case against the long-imprisoned terror suspect was collapsing because of a lack of evidence, The Independent can reveal.

Court documents unearthed in the United States reveal how senior detectives involved in the initial investigation of Mr Ahmad regularly carried out searches and enquiries on behalf of the FBI and even sent American agents two encrypted floppy disks that were found at the south Londoner’s home.

The data set, including the disks, forms part of a dossier of evidence that was sent across the Atlantic but was never seen by the Crown Prosecution Service which dropped the initial charges against Ahmad paving the way for is long battle against extradition to the United States.

Critics of Ahmad’s extradition say not enough was done to make sure that the 58-year-old was tried in a British court and that his prosecution has been effectively outsourced to the United States.

Both the Metropolitan Police and the Government have refused to be drawn on the exact nature of the cooperation between British and American detectives following Ahmad’s arrest in December 2003.

But documents filed in a Connecticut court reveal how multiple requests were made by an FBI agent under mutual legal assistance laws which allow foreign governments to ask British police to conduct investigations on their behalf.

The papers come from a trial four years ago in the city of New Haven in which Hassan Abu-Jihaad, a US navy sailor, was convicted of espionage charges. Abu-Jihaad, a convert to Islam, was found guilty of leaking classified ship movements to Azzam Publications – a series of pro-jihadi websites that American prosecutors allege was run by Babar Ahmad and another British man facing imminent extradition Syed Talha Ahsan. The alleged offences took place from late 2000 to late 2001.

At the trial Detective Sergeant Ian Vickers and Detective Sergeant Ian Elgeti, two Met Police officers involved in the original British investigation into Babar Ahmad, gave evidence. During his testimony DS Vickers stated that he was first alerted to the FBI’s interest in Ahmad in late December 2003, a few weeks after his arrest on 2 December. His first point of contact was special agent Craig Bowling, who spoke to him via teleconference and later made a trip to the UK around February 2004.

Asked to describe how the mutual legal assistance treaty system worked he explained that the United States needed to contact to Home Office and request help. “As a result of that,” he added, “If everything is correct and it’s being applied and asked for in the correct manner, then a letter of request goes through to a case officer, normally a detective, to make inquiries, seize exhibits on behalf of the United States.”

Asked how many times such requests were made he replied: “I think there were a total of nine”. He added: “I coordinated that and organized that myself.”

In the same testimony DS Vickers also confirmed that he personally oversaw the transfer of multiple exhibits to the United States including the floppy disks found on Babar Ahmad’s desk.

The decision by the Met Police to send evidence to detectives in the States has been both controversial and shrouded in secrecy. The Attorney General has refused to “confirm or deny” whether dossiers were passed abroad whilst the Metropolitan Police have declined to comment while Mr Ahmad is continuing to fight his extradition to the United States in the UK courts. Neither the Met Police nor the CPS were willing to comment on the new details uncovered in the American court documents when contacted by The Independent.

Mr Ahmad’s legal team had long argued that the CPS should have seen all the evidence against their client before deciding to drop the case. That decision not to press charges against Mr Ahmad was further complicated by the fact that he was viciously beaten by his arresting officers – an incident which the Metropolitan Police later admitted during civil proceedings.

It was only in November 2011 that the CPS admitted to Mr Ahmad’s legal team that they were never shown the entirely of all the evidence seized in the raid on their client’s house. After sending a team to the United States, Mr Ahmad’s lawyers forwarded a new dossier of evidence to the CPS in the spring of this year in the hopes that they might initiate a new prosecution that would keep him in Britain. At the same time a businessman from Newcastle who campaigns against Britain’s extradition laws tried to launch his own private prosecution of Mr Ahmad and Mr Ahsan. However the Director of Public Prosecutions has rejected both attempts citing a lack of evidence as the reason for his decision.

Green MP Caroline Lucas, who has campaigned for Babar Ahmad, called on the CPS and Met Police to provide a full account of the cooperation between American and British law enforcement following his arrest.

“Last year I exposed the fact that the CPS hadn’t even seen, let alone investigated properly, evidence against Babar Ahmad,” she said. “Now we have this extraordinary confirmation that, at a time when the CPS was arguing he couldn’t face trial in the UK because of an “absence of evidence”, British police were in thrall to the FBI and handing over that very evidence without even looking at it themselves. We urgently need to know who directed and authorised this scandalous circumvention of the CPS – and I reiterate my call for a full public inquiry into what has occurred.”

My thoughts on the hypocrisy of Babar Ahmads Case

Part 1

Part 2

Robert Spencer is the Director of Jihad Watch, a program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center , The associate director of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, an initiative that is headed by Pamela Geller that also came out with those racist ‘savage’ anti-Jihad subway ad’s aswell as being an author and commentator on Islam.

Such an author on Islam should have the relevant credentials as well as a proven track record of studying the Islamic Sciences for a number of years in a well recognised reputable institution but according to his own website spencer only has an MA in religious studies at the University of North Carolina.

Spencer gently alludes to his lack of a proper islamic education on his own website

“I began to study early Islamic history, since some of these groups ended up in Arabia and may have influenced Muhammad. In the intervening years I continued these studies of Islamic theology, history, and law out of personal interest.

This led to my consulting privately with some individuals and groups about Islam, but I had never intended to do such work publicly

Ahmed Rehab states, in his article for the Huffington post,

“Spencer postures himself as an “Islamic Scholar.” But unlike most people we tend to call “scholars,” Spencer did not burden himself with the traditional scholarly route that puts an emphasis on objectivity and academic rigor.

There is a good reason for this: his “scholarly” methodologies would not jive in any of our nation’s accredited PhD programs let alone a path for tenure where he would have to get his papers peer-reviewed and have his methodology checked by notable scholars for objectivity and a lack of bias (unless, of course, David Horowitz decides to build the David Horowitz Freedom University).

Spencer dismisses such criticism as follows: he is right, and all of the tenured professors of Islamic studies, with their inconvenient knack for unbiased scholarship, are wrong. After all, universities are the establishment of the left-wing liberal conspiracy.

Besides who needs peer-reviewed papers, Spencer seems content to receive rave reviews from Weasel Zippers, Nice Doggie, Atlas Shrugs, Muslims are Terrorists, and of course, frontpagemag.com, that other gem of a creation, and bastion of objectivity, by the guy who cuts his checks.

Now, I will be the first to admit that there are plenty of problems in the Muslim world. I welcome an honest and responsible critique any day. But honest and responsible Spencer’s agenda-driven hatemongering is not. I am not not the only one to take issue with Spencer’s technique. Most objective scholars and professors of Islamic studies dismiss the guy as laughably fraudulent and amateur.”

Spencer tried to refute the allegation of him being ignorant in this article but again, there is no real substance behind the main arguments behind his article. Trying to refute the claim by stating that the charge of ignorance is in actuality a ‘tactic’ used by Muslims. In order to refute the claim of ignorance in the article he uses the issues of ijtihad and the Quranic order of the Surah’s to prove how he is not ignorant of Islam. Howver from his response we can easily see that he cherrypicked his evidence that suits his argument and again since spencer cant use any quranic verses or hadeeths to back up his arguments shows how limits of spencer as a so-called scholar and a commentator on Islam. IF spencer learnt Islam in a credible institution, learnt a credible course on Islam, spencer would have gladly mentioned it to back up his credentials, but he hasn’t and that is why he cant say that he publicly learnt Islam. Spencers lack of knowledge and sound Islamic scholarship is shown in many of his debates. Spencer aims to back up his arguments by highlighting current issues that are affecting the Muslim world (i.e using pakistan as an example of sharia law enforced) rather than using the classic islamic texts while applying the ruling to actually derive rulings from Sharia law. Spencer uses none of these and only uses comments from the most extreme elements of the Muslim world to justify his argument.

spencer declares himself as a non-racist when he goes on to answer the question of whether he is or not a white supramicist

“No. I have consistently opposed racism and supremacism of all kinds — otherwise, I wouldn’t oppose the global jihad”

This in itself is a another lie. As stated above Jihad Watch is a program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center. Robert Spencer and David Horowitz both authored a book together called Obama and Islam, from which as one can already tell from the title alone, that the book is comprised of material that is largely nonsense.

Below is an example of David Horowitz’s racism towards the Palestinians which is just full of 100% rehashed lies

According to its website, The David Horowitz Freedom Center “combats the efforts of the radical left and its Islamist allies to destroy American values and disarm this country as it attempts to defend itself in a time of terror. The leftist offensive is most obvious on our nation’s campuses, where the Freedom Center protects students from indoctrination and political harassment

In his article the Cologne conference and European Fascism spencer states

“As far as fascism goes, I oppose all authoritarian governments, and believe in the freedom of speech and other freedoms that historically have never thrived in fascist settings”

but this is again another lie, one cannot say that they are not racist but then associates oneself with a racist (David Horowitz). One cannot say that they are for free speech and against totalitarianism when they are part and parcel of an organisation that wants to actually eradicate free speech and eradicate all forms of dissent. In short Robert Spencer is nothing but a liar who is deeply connected to the racist islamophobic network that aims to bring about worldwide totalitarianism

Liz Fekete talks about whether Islamophobia serves a function; drawing on her recent research into the Oslo massacre and the European-wide assault on multiculturalism, Liz contextualises Islamophobia in terms of the policies that give credence to the new politics of hate. She warns that as austerity measures begin to bite, processes which scapegoat and stigmatised foreigners, vulnerable minorities and anyone deemed ‘different’ for society’s ills are strengthened and the politics of fear and the manipulation of division are part and parcel of wider pro war, neo-liberal and neo-conservative agendas

Below is a video of an egyptian activist Mona Eltahawy arrested for defacing a ‘savage’ anti-Jihad ad and therefore protesting against its racism connotations