New Year, Same Old Turkey

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Democratic anomaly became the new Turkish normal several years ago. The anomaly, sometimes, offers entertaining moments, too. Take, for instance, Parliament Speaker Binali Yıldırım, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s most important political confidant (and former prime minister), who became the joke of the day when he declared: “Animals, too, are living beings”. Someone teased him on social media: “He is right. And I am adding: Plants, too, are living beings.” A few days later Yıldırım, under fire from the opposition because he refuses to resign as parliament speaker although he would run for mayor of Istanbul in nationwide local elections on March 31 (they cite the constitution which bans the impartial parliament speaker from engaging in any political activity), amused a whole nation when he said: “Elections are not political activity”. Not all Turkish anomalies are as entertaining as this one.

What most Turks thought was a joke in the past few years now appears to be bitter reality. The joke goes: One day a political prisoner asks his guard if he could borrow from the prison library a certain work of fiction written by a certain author. The guard answers: We don’t have that book in our library. But if you want, I can bring you its author. He is here.”

A journalist recently uncovered the true story behind what millions of Turks mistakenly thought was just a joke. An academic, Mehmet Altan, detained on charges of “giving subliminal messages for a coup,” asked a guard if he could borrow a book written by his brother, Ahmet. “We don’t have that book,” said the guard, “but the author is here.”

via New Year, Same Old Turkey

Maajid Nawaz Has an Image to Protect

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Asked Thursday whether he would debate Maajid Nawaz, Robert Spencer replied: “Yes, of course I would. But Maajid Nawaz won’t debate me.” It isn’t hard to understand why that is true. Maajid Nawaz has an image to protect: that of being an all-knowing Muslim reformist who’s never wrong. He presents himself as a softer, gentler, more articulate Muslim than the jihadis walking around in a rage and ready to explode at the mention of Muhammad’s name. He’s part dandy, but always makes sure to look like he’s stepped out of the office, with his tailored suits, ties, and pastel socks. He’s clean, serious, and ready for business. It all looks a bit gay to me, and I’m a gay man who would not be caught dead in half of what he parades around in. Maajid is a Muslim, and he’s visually trying to sell us a cool, funky and fashionable version of Islam, as he sits behind desks or on stages talking and debating with people about the merits of Islam and how truly peaceful it is. He’ll spout this tripe to uninformed and lazy interviewers, who sit and nod their heads like those plastic dogs you sit on the dashboard of your car. And if Maajid is ever in a debate, the viewer is led to believe that he’s engaging with an actual expert on Islamic theology, but more often than not Maajid is dealing with one-dimensional fundamentalists, or “far-right bigots” who don’t know the truth about Islam. He’ll debate anyone, it seems — anyone except for Robert Spencer.

via Maajid Nawaz Has an Image to Protect

“We Will Teach You a Lesson”: Extremist Persecution of Christians, November 2018

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The Slaughter of Christians

Egypt: On November 2, heavily armed Islamic terrorists ambushed and massacred Christians returning home after visiting the ancient St. Samuel Monastery in Minya. Seven pilgrims—including a 12-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy—were shot to death. More than 20 others were left injured, with bullet wounds or shards of broken glass from the buses’ windows. “I pray for the victims, pilgrims killed just because they were Christian,” Pope Francis said after the attack.

Pictures posted on social media revealed “bodies soaked in blood and distorted faces of men and women.” In one video posted, a man can be heard crying, “The gunshot got you in the head, my boy!” and repeating, “What a loss!” One of the female survivors, shot in the legs, recalls that an explosion of gunfire suddenly opened on all sides of their bus; by the time she could register what was happening, she saw pieces of her brother-in-law’s brain splattered on her lap. Another woman, after realizing that her husband and daughter had been killed, begged the jihadis to kill her, too. “No,” they said, “you stay and suffer over your husband and daughter.” Then they shot her in the ankles. In a separate report, another survivor said the terrorists told her, “We will kill the men and children and leave you to live the rest of your lives in misery.” Coptic Bishop Anba Makarios of Minya confirmed that, “The pilgrims were killed in such a savage and sadistic way, as if they were enemy combatants, when they were just simple Christians come to get a blessing from a monastery.” The attack was almost a duplicate of another that occurred on May 26, 2017: then, extremist Muslim gunmen ambushed buses full of Christians returning from the same monastery. Twenty-eight Christians—ten of whom were children, including two girls, aged two and four—were massacred. “Who can accept these incidents?” asked another Christian. “Every day, there are many incidents harming Christians. We must leave our land and get out of here. I’m so exhausted… it’s so dull and dark these days.”

via “We Will Teach You a Lesson”: Extremist Persecution of Christians, November 2018

Politics Drives European Aid

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The EU purports to deliver aid to needy communities on the basis of neutral, impartial, and independent judgments. The grossly disproportionate aid given to the Palestinians, at the direct expense of much more beleaguered populations in Yemen and sub-Saharan Africa, exposes this claim as a self-righteous lie.

The European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations Unit (ECPHAO), the humanitarian arm of the European Commission of the European Union, is one of the largest funding sources of aid in the world. According to the organization, one billion euros on average have been disbursed since 1992 in 110 countries around the world, with over 110 million beneficiaries annually.

The organization states its mandate in crisp, unambiguous language:

Neutrality means that humanitarian aid must not favor any side in an armed conflict or other dispute. Impartiality means that humanitarian aid must be provided solely on the basis of need, without discrimination. Independence means the autonomy of humanitarian objectives from political, economic, military or other objectives.

via Politics Drives European Aid

Australia: Top lawyers, judges and provincial Supreme Court justices go to mosque to show solidarity with Muslims

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They wanted to do this because of the outrageous “Islamophobia” of Justice Desmond Fagan in his call for Muslims to reject the violent exhortations of the Qur’an. Have any of these judges actually read the Qur’an? Do any of them have any idea whether or not Fagan’s assertions were correct? Almost certainly not.

Note also the photo accompanying the article, showing one of the visitors getting wanded at the mosque. Did mosque officials think these dignitaries were a terror threat? Or did they want to humiliate them in order to claim that security measures at airports etc. were humiliating to Muslims and should be discarded?

via Australia: Top lawyers, judges and provincial Supreme Court justices go to mosque to show solidarity with Muslims

Trump: In Third Year with Three Charges

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Theoretically, we have another year before the next American presidential campaign gets underway. And yet those who follow US policies more closely know that the 2020 presidential campaign has already started. In a sense, at least as far as the two main political parties are concerned, the campaign started the day Donald Trump took the oath of office.

In his first two years in office, Trump has attended at least 30 rallies across the United States that could best be described as campaign sorties. Add to that more than two dozen media interviews, not to mention thousands of tweets designed to create the image of a successful president running for a second term. For their part, Trump’s Democrat rivals have campaigned against him in a guerrilla-style, hoping to kill his hope of a second term with a thousand cuts.

Unable or unwilling to confront his policies or lack thereof, Democrats have focused their strategy on destroying the persona that Trump has tried to forge for himself. They have done this with three charges.

via Trump: In Third Year with Three Charges