Monthly Archives: March 2010

More Homegrown, Christian Terrorists

Talking Points Memo has the story.

Nine members of the Christian militia group Hutaree have been indicted on multiple charges involving an alleged plot to attack police, including seditious conspiracy and attempted use of weapons of mass destruction, the U.S. Attorney in Michigan announced this morning.

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One thing driving me crazy about this story is that the Hutaree website claims that “Hutaree” means “Christian soldier,” without ever mentioning what language it supposedly is!

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Saudi Poet Attacks Conservatives in Verse

Hissa Hilal, a Saudi Arabian housewife, made waves with her poem criticizing certain religious scholars. Jezebel has a story here. And the UAE paper, The National has an article here.

From the former:

Hissa Hilal, a Saudi housewife and a contestant in an American-Idol-style poetry competition, read an incendiary 15-verse poem that criticized clerics who issue ever-more-restrictive fatwas, and referred to clerics as monsters “wearing death as a robe, cinched with a belt.”

And for Hilal’s efforts, the judges scored her 47/50, and she progressed to the finals. She’s guaranteed a prize of at least $270,000.

Of course, there have been death threats. But, Hissa told the Abu Dhabi paper The National, “Like anyone who receives a threat to scare him or her, I take it seriously, but only slightly.”

Meanwhile, one cleric whose unofficial fatwa, or religious opinion, inspired Hissa to her rhetorical feat is back-tracking. Sheikh Abdul-Rahman al Barrak, a fellow Saudi, released a statement on his website last month calling for anyone who allows or even supports the mixing of the sexes to be executed, because, in The National’s translation, “he is allowing what is not allowed, and therefore he is a kafir (apostate) who left the religion and should be killed if he does not change his opinion.”

Now al Barrak says his edict was “misinterpreted” by his students and “inaccurately” posted.

and from the latter:

ABU DHABI // A housewife who was the subject of death threats after reciting a poem on the Million’s Poet television show that attacked “ad hoc fatwas” performed a similar poem this week – and reached the final.

Hissa Hilal, a Saudi, said her work was inspired by what she called “subversive” fatwas, specifically one issued by Sheikh Abdul-Rahman al Barrak, a Saudi cleric, on his website last month.

Her recital on the Abu Dhabi TV show last week sparked controversy in Saudi Arabia, especially on internet forums. According to reports, many viewers praised her for her courage, but others attacked her for criticising clerics and reciting her poems in public. One website called for her death.

But Ms Hilal defied the threats, delivering a similar poem on Wednesday’s show – and she received the highest score of the round, 47 out of 50.

Sheikh al Barrak’s fatwa had called for the execution of anyone who says mixing of sexes is allowed in Islam because “he is allowing what is not allowed, and therefore he is a kafir who left the religion and should be killed if he does not change his opinion”.

The poem performed by Ms Hilal last week loosely translates as: “I have seen evil from the eyes of the subversive fatwas in a time when what is lawful is confused with what is not lawful;

“When I unveil the truth, a monster appears from his hiding place; barbaric in thinking and action, angry and blind; wearing death as a dress and covering it with a belt [referring to suicide bombing];

“He speaks from an official, powerful platform, terrorising people and preying on everyone seeking peace; the voice of courage ran away and the truth is cornered and silent, when self-interest prevented one from speaking the truth.”

The Saudi newspaper Al Watan reported that a member of the Ana al Muslim (I am the Muslim) website – which has previously posted videos about al Qa’eda operations – called for Ms Hilal’s death. One member was quoted by the newspaper as posting the message: “Can anyone tell me her address?”

Sheikh al Barrak told the newspaper that his fatwa had been misinterpreted by his students and was posted on the internet inaccurately.

He said he meant the fatwa only to refer to men and women mixing in private places, alone.

Ms Hilal said yesterday: “Like anyone who receives a threat to scare him or her, I take it seriously but only slightly.”

She said her family had asked her to restrict her poems to “ordinary” issues. But she added: “I want peace for everyone, Muslims and others. We are all living in a global village, so we cannot live without each other.”

Here’s a YouTube clip of Ms Hilal reading her poem:

The latest news I could find on the poetry competition was this article in ArabNet5.com, dated Mar 27th, (in Arabic), which says the next round will take place “next week.” Looks like they write the poem now, starting the 27th and have until Wednesday to finish it.

Good luck, Ms Hilal! Whether or not you win this competition, you’ve inspired a lot of people.

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Cartoon for a Saturday

I am back from my sojourn, but without any fresh ideas. Here’s a cartoon found at Comics I Don’t Understand.

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Some Arab Countries Listed as “Enemies of the Internet”

LA Times blog post:

As of last week, the advocacy organization Reporters Without Borders counted nearly 120 bloggers, journalists and others behind bars for their online activities — more than any other time since the creation of the Internet.

On Saturday, that number went up by 30 when Iranian authorities announced the arrest of an alleged U.S.-backed “cyber network.”

Members of the network were accused of bypassing government filters, waging “psychological warfare” against the Islamic Republic, fomenting unrest, and spying.

Although China still holds the dubious distinction of being the most repressive country when it comes to Internet use, the Middle East is not far behind.

Iran, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Syria and Egypt in particular have been singled out as “Enemies of the Internet” according to an annual report issued by Reporters Without Borders. Turkey was listed as “under surveillance.”

Read the rest at the link.

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I will probably be away from the blog for about a week. In the meantime, enjoy this cute picture:

seal photobomb penguin

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What to Do?

On the one hand, danger. But on the other hand…kittens!

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Yusuf Islam Does the Call to Prayer

This is pretty, but I’m predisposed to like everything Yusuf does. (Formerly Yusuf Islam, formerly Cat Stevens)

Complete with scary, frightening Arabic calligraphy.

And here’s a cute, silly cartoon:

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Funny Pictures

This appeared in my inbox the other day:

المهم ان الحجاب في مكانه

Translation of the Arabic: The important thing is that the hijab’s in place.

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Guess the Benighted Wasteland II

Teenaged girl is raped. Later her father murders her with repeated stabs of a hunting knife. He then propped her body in the passenger seat of a car, called relatives to confess, and then led police on a car chase.

Reportedly, last summer he argued with [her] and called her a ‘slag’ after she wanted to be with her boyfriend instead of him.

‘[The father] stopped the car behind the Angel Hotel in a shady area so nobody could see him.’
The court heard [the father] later told police: ‘I got out of the car, took the knife, went to the passenger door and opened it.
‘She was shocked to see the knife and tried to get away. But she couldn’t because of the seat belt.’
[The prosecutor] said: ‘He said he stabbed her many times and she was struggling. During the struggle, he missed her once and ended up stabbing himself in the arm.
‘He said he covered her with a sleeping bag and reclined the seats.’

Guess the benighted wasteland. Big hint: the term “honor killing” does not appear in the newspaper article. So it can’t be a Muslim! But that’s impossible, right, because only a bloodthirsty, Muslim father would do such a thing, right?

It’s in Wales, I guess.

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Guess the Benighted Wasteland

State number one sports a former president on trial for war crimes. He claims he is innocent of all charges and that his acts of genocide were merely self-defense. He says his cause was “just and holy.” He says they were only defending themselves from perceived Muslim aggression.

No, it’s not the United States, despite the parallels. Ha ha! No American politician is going to go on trial for war crimes. No, it’s former Serb president Radovan Karadzic.

Former leader Radovan Karadzic has said the Serb cause in the Bosnian war was “just and holy” as he began his defence at his genocide trial at The Hague.

Mr Karadzic, who led the Bosnian Serbs during the war in the 1990s, said there was a core group of Muslims in Bosnia – then and now – who wanted 100% power.

Mr Karadzic faces two charges of genocide – including the killing in Srebrenica of more than 7,000 men and boys – as well as nine other counts including murder, extermination, persecution and forced deportation.

Prosecutors say he orchestrated a campaign of “ethnic cleansing” against Muslims and Croats in eastern Bosnia to create an ethnically pure Serbian state.

In his opening statement last October, prosecutor Alan Tieger said Mr Karadzic “harnessed the forces of nationalism, hatred and fear to pursue his vision of an ethnically segregated Bosnia”.

Legislators in State number two have introduced a bill that would criminalize miscarriage of a pregnancy.

Says one lawmaker, “If he’s insinuating because I ran this bill, because I’m pro-life and anti abortion and I’m doing everything in my power to restrict abortions [here], then he’s absolutely correct.”

Perhaps the most troubling part of the bill is a standard that could make women legally responsible for miscarriages caused by so-called “reckless” behavior. Under the “reckless behavior” standard, an attorney only needs to show that the woman behaved in a manner that is thought to cause miscarriage, even if she did not intend to lose the pregnancy. Under this law, if a woman drinks too much and has a miscarriage, she could face prosecution.

Many states have fetal homicide laws, most of which apply only in the third trimester. [This] bill, however, would apply through the entire duration of a woman’s pregnancy. Even common first trimester miscarriages could trigger a murder trial.

The bill does exempt from prosecution fetal deaths due to failure to follow medical advice, accept treatment, or refuse a cesarean section.

What could possibly go wrong?

Miscarriage occurs in about 15-20% of all recognized pregnancies, and usually occurs before the 13th week of pregnancy. The actual percentage of miscarriages is estimated to be as high as 50% of all pregnancies, since many miscarriages occur without the woman ever having known she was pregnant.

So what backwards, misogynist, woman-hating, gynophobic, phallocentric culture are we talking about? If you guessed Utah, you’re right.

rare photo of Utah women

Utahns compel their women to wear concealing garments, because their stern god commands them to. They wear flowing garments that cover them from neck to toes and fingers, leaving only the head exposed.

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