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Quiet quartet wins Nobel in Tunisia

By Laura Payne
The Conversation

It is a fitting that in a tumultuous year for global peacemaking, the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the little-known Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet. Over the past few years, the Quartet has been quietly shepherding in democracy in the country that lit the fuse that sparked the Arab revolutions. In part thanks to the efforts of this broad cross-section of civil society, Tunisia has stayed the course in transitioning from an authoritarian past to a democratic future, even in the face of terrorist violence and as other revolutions in the region have faltered.

The award comes at a time of escalating sectarian conflicts in Syria, Libya and Yemen. Islamic State’s campaign of terror has uprooted Iraqis and Syrians alike, driving desperate refugees into small boats to battle the waves of the Mediterranean. They join others fleeing to Europe from political and economic crises in Africa and Asia, forming a stream of humanity symbolizing failures in leadership in three continents.

Among all this, it is not hard to identify why the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the world’s most coveted peace prize to the Tunisian Quartet.

The first reason is that Tunisia deserves to be celebrated for its momentous achievements in consolidating democracy. Unlike other countries in the region, it has trodden a path that is slow but solid, adopting a comprehensive and consensus-building approach to decision-making.

In this it provides a rare and extremely important example, not only for the region but also for the world. Thanks to Tunisia, it is no longer possible to argue that the Middle East and North Africa is inherently undemocratic or prone to violence.

Civil society steps up

Second, the role of civil society is fundamental for bringing about sustainable peace. Political leadership is important, but the scale of the challenge in transitional societies means that we cannot simply leave things to political leaders to sort out.

At local level especially, peace feels a lot more real when it comes with tangible improvements to quality of life. Citizens want to see the economy motoring again and to have confidence in the state’s institutions. They want to know that they can sleep soundly and safely, without fear of violence, persecution or poverty. Governments often lack the capacity and credibility to deliver these dividends alone. Civil society must step up to the plate – particularly the associations of trade, justice and human rights of which the Quartet is formed.

And third, the Quartet’s work relies heavily on forming constructive relationships across the political spectrum – from secularists to fundamentalists. It has walked a fine line, keeping disparate groups with diverging interests invested in an inclusive national process of dialogue. It has, in the words of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, laid the “groundwork for a national fraternity”.
Politicians are often the most cynical of creatures, yet the Quartet has managed to build a sense of collective endeavor among them. It has encouraged them to put the country’s best interest ahead of personal or sectarian interests, making this the guiding principle for decision-making.

Other bright spots

The transition in Tunisia is a work in progress and there will be more setbacks and successes. The country was left reeling from two terrorist attacks earlier this year, when 22 people were killed at the Bardo Museum in Tunis, and another 39 people died during an attack on a tourist resort in Sousse. But the message today is clear – Tunisia has made remarkable progress since 2010, despite the odds. This is in large part due to a credible and engaged civil society, a remarkable achievement in a new democracy. The country has forged a path of inclusive national dialogue from which many lessons can be learned.

Elsewhere this year, Myanmar goes to the polls in November – the country’s first free national ballot since 1990. Colombia is closer to lasting peace than ever, ending half a century of war that has taken 220,00 lives and uprooted six million people.

The US restored diplomatic relationships with Cuba, and also struck a landmark agreement with Iran over its nuclear programs. And the UN has adopted the sustainable development goals, explicitly recognizing peaceful and inclusive societies as a development priority for the first time. Behind every step forward there is an individual or institution worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize, but only one can win and the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet is a worthy laureate.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on TheConversation.com and is reprinted here with permission. All views expressed here are solely those of the author. Laura Payne is Research Fellow and Director of RISING Global Peace Forum, Coventry University.

17-42

A police officer stands guard in front of the Bardo Museum in Tunis, March 24. Zoubeir Souissi/Reuters

Tunisia was attacked for its success, not its challenges

By David Mednicoff
The Conversation

A police officer stands guard in front of the Bardo Museum in Tunis, March 24. Zoubeir Souissi/Reuters

A police officer stands guard in front of the Bardo Museum in Tunis, March 24. Zoubeir Souissi/Reuters

After the tragic Islamic State (ISIS) attack on tourists visiting Tunis’s iconic Bardo museum, one key point needs reassertion: Tunisia has been the Arab world’s major post-2011 success story. It is heartening to see a long-authoritarian Islamic country opening itself up quickly to widespread participation in governance and social inclusion, and doing so in a way that respects both Islamic and secular values.

It was precisely that strength that drew ISIS’s ire and its local partisans’ fire. But neither the attack’s occurrence, nor the institutional problems that it exposed, should provoke a domestic or international response that suffocates the fledgling democratic order.

Losing game

Organisations such as al-Qaeda and ISIS, different as they are, emerged from common Arab regional experience. For decades, a plethora of post-colonial security (mukhabarat) states in the region embraced ever more cronyistic and repressive rule. They simply deemed harsh authoritarianism necessary, and saw it as the only to fend off an array of opposition groups inspired by selective readings of Islamic doctrine or regional history.

Since these mukhabarat states undermined any peaceful opposition, religious and secular alike, some of their domestic opponents embraced the exact sort of anti-state, anti-Western violence that confirmed the darkest Islamist stereotype.

In this way, violent, isolationist Islamist politics and correspondingly violent state attempts to crush them simply reinforced one another. That left little room for pluralistic, free domestic expression. On top of that, the strategy stopped working: widespread citizen mobilization ended up toppling most mukhabarat regimes, including Tunisia’s.

Tunisia and its two immediate eastern neighbors, Libya and Egypt, all overthrew repressive regimes in 2011. But Tunisia was the only one to emerge as a viable democracy, and that was because it was able to strike a particular balance.

On the one hand, it did not have a strong left-over military “deep state,” as in Egypt, whose army and intelligence services were hardly committed to an open political system. On the other hand, perhaps helped by its small demographic and geographical size, Tunisia could cobble out a new order through the reconfiguration of existing political groups, all of which had been crushed in Libya.

This is how Tunisia avoided both a return to military rule, as in Egypt, and a descent into violent chaos, as in Libya. The balance struck there is exactly the kind of political order that threatens organizations such as ISIS. These groups can only inspire and recruit a sufficient range of disenchanted Arab and other Muslims if they have no hope of living in a free, self-determined, pluralist society.

A core ideological premise of ISIS and similar violent movements is that pluralistic, flexible sociopolitical systems are anathema to Islam, and nothing more than a Trojan horse for neo-imperial domination and religious humiliation. Excessively authoritarian, Islamophobic, or militaristic behavior by Western countries only flatters this premise, and is therefore a major goal of militant attacks.

Yet Tunisia itself is a clear riposte to this ideology, proof that Muslims of diverse opinions about the proper role and nature of Islam in politics can overcome the polarization that has occurred elsewhere.

The three-year process that led to Tunisia’s new constitution and freely-elected government was by no means a forgone conclusion, but it now stands as one of the few hopeful recent dramatic new political outcomes in the region – especially from the perspective of globally inclusive values. Most Tunisians will not give this hard-won achievement up quickly, meaning that the country’s core political commitment is unlikely to be dramatically undone.

Instead, the real challenges from the attack are twofold.

As in any new state, governance in Tunisia is fragile. The combination of Tunisia’s situation close to a major staging ground for ISIS and al-Qaeda fighters in Libya and the newness of the country’s institutions means it is necessarily vulnerable to ongoing attacks.

Tunisia also faces the dilemma that all open societies subjected to mass attacks must grapple with: how to enhance security without the sort of militarization and repression that reinforce the core message of ISIS. Al-Qaeda’s attacks were very good at provoking violent and counterproductive responses from the US – responses that, in the end, begat ISIS itself.

Likewise, fears of excessive crackdowns and more local ISIS recruits spiked in France and its European neighbours after the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

Smaller, less institutionalized Tunisia must resist the temptation to curb free expression or stigmatize groups of Muslims, temptations that proved too hard to resist elsewhere.

There are hopeful examples. Jordan and Morocco have themselves been subject to dramatic attacks by violent Islamists in recent years – but in neither case has the attack succeeded in stopping tourism or curbing a relatively high degree of religious and secular pluralism. Let’s hope this can be true for Tunisia as well.

Editor’s note: David Mednicoff is Assistant Professor of Public Policy Director, Accelerated Degree Programs, Center for Public Policy and Administration Director, Middle Eastern Studies at University of Massachusetts Amherst. This article originally appeared on TheConversation.com and is reprinted here with permission. All views expressed here are solely those of the author.

17-13

The Arabs and the Holocaust

Among the Righteous: Lost Stories from the Holocaust’s Long Reach into Arab Lands, by Robert Satloff.
New York: Public Affairs, 2006, 204 pages. Notes to 227.
Bibl. to p. 239. Index to p. 251. $26.00.

Reviewed by Joseph V. Montville

On the afternoon of September 11, 2001, Robert Satloff was walking in the middle of Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue which was devoid of traffic in a city stunned by the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers that morning. The question came into his mind: “Did any Arabs save any Jews during the Holocaust?” He judged, as did this writer after the second tower was hit, that Arabs were behind the deed. He wanted to teach Arabs about the Holocaust and the depths of its meaning for Israeli and Diaspora Jews. Satloff decided to answer his question, and this book is the result.

What establishes the nobility of Among the Righteous…is the conviction of its author, a historian, an Arabist and an American Jew, that there is much more to Arab and Muslim humanity than the destructive, suicidal rage that the 9/11 hijackers displayed that momentous day. While he had never heard of “righteous” Arabs—people who took great risks to protect Jews from the Nazis and their underlings–Satloff felt in his bones that he could find some. He did not believe that the apparent absence of knowledge or discussion about the Holocaust among Arabs was the complete picture.

The author thought that if he could prove that Arabs had saved Jewish lives during World War II, they might be induced to face the Holocaust squarely and understand its power in the final thrust to establish the Jewish state in Palestine. He hoped that the shared prosocial values of Islam and Judaism could induce Arab cooperation in his research and generate pride in Arab heroes. He cites Muslim and Jewish sacred literature to make his point. “‘Whoever saves one life saves the entire world,’ says the Qur’an, an echo of the Talmud’s injunction ‘If you save one life, it is as if you have saved the world.’” (p. 6.) In the process of searching for “righteous” Arabs in North Africa, Israel and Europe, Satloff has filled an important gap in the history of World War II, and he has also reflected the best traditions of Jewish humanism. It is not insignificant that Satloff is also executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy which the Jewish weekly, Forward, calls “a think tank known for its pro-Israel views and for its predominantly Jewish board.”1

The narrative concentrates on the North African states of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya under French—the first three—and Italian and therefore fascist colonial rule during the Vichy and Mussolini regimes. Half a million Jews lived in these countries, and the Nazi policy of degradation and ultimately destruction was meant to apply also to these trans-Mediterranean people. There were also 30,000 Libyan Jews who faced danger and abuse.

12-16

Biden/Obama Humiliated by Israel

“Wiping the Spit Off Their Faces”

By Uri Avnery

March 15, 2010 “Information Clearing House” — SOME WEEKS the news is dominated by a single word. This week’s word was “timing”.

It’s all a matter of timing. The Government of Israel has insulted the Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, one of the greatest “friends” of Israel (meaning: somebody totally subservient to AIPAC) and spat in the face of President Barack Obama. So what? It’s all a matter of timing.

If the government had announced the building of 1600 new housing units in East Jerusalem a day earlier, it would have been OK. If it had announced it three days later, it would have been wonderful. But doing it exactly when Joe Biden was about to have dinner with Bibi and Sarah’le – that was really bad timing.

The matter itself is not important. Another thousand housing units in East Jerusalem, or 10 thousand, or 100 thousand – what different does it make? The only thing that matters is the timing.

As the Frenchman said: It’s worse than criminal, it’s stupid.

THE WORD “stupid” also figured prominently this week, second only to “timing”.

Stupidity is an accepted phenomenon in politics. I would almost say: to succeed in politics, one needs a measure of stupidity. Voters don’t like politicians who are too intelligent. They make them feel inferior. A foolish politician, on the other hand, appears to be “one of the folks”.

History is full of acts of folly by politicians. Many books have been written about this. To my mind, the epitome of foolishness was achieved by the events that led to World War I, with its millions of victims, which broke out because of the accumulated stupidity of (in ascending order) Austrian, Russian, German, French and British politicians.

But even stupidity in politics has its limits. I have pondered this question for decades, and who knows, one day, when I grow up, I might write a doctoral thesis about it.

My thesis goes like this: In politics (as in other fields) foolish things happen regularly. But some of them are stopped in time, before they can lead to disaster, while others are not. It this accidental, or is there a rule?

My answer is: there certainly is a rule. It works like this: when somebody sets in motion an act of folly that runs counter to the spirit of the regime, it is stopped in its tracks. While it moves from one bureaucrat to another, somebody starts to wonder. Just a moment, this cannot be right! It is referred to higher authority, and soon enough somebody decides that it is a mistake.

On the other hand, when the act of folly is in line with the spirit of the regime, there are no brakes. When it moves from one bureaucrat to the next, it looks quite natural to both. No red light. No alarm bell. And so the folly rolls on to the bitter end.

I remember how this rule came to my mind the first time. In 1965, Habib Bourguiba, the president of Tunisia, took a bold step: he made a speech in the biggest refugee camp in Jericho, then under Jordanian rule, and called upon the Arabs to recognize Israel. This caused a huge scandal all over the Arab world.

Some time later, the correspondent of an Israeli paper reported that in a press conference at the UN headquarters, Bourguiba had called for the destruction of Israel. This sounded strange to me. I made inquiries, checked the protocol and found out that the opposite was true: the reporter had mistakenly turned a no into a yes.

How did this happen? If the journalist had erred in the opposite direction and reported, for example, that Gamal Abd-el-Nasser had called for the acceptance of Israel into the Arab League, the news would have been stopped at once. Every red light would have lit up. Someone would have called out: Hey, something strange here! Check again! But in the Bourguiba case nobody noticed the mistake, for what is more natural than an Arab leader calling for the destruction of Israel? No verification needed.

That’s what happened this week in Jerusalem. Every government official knows that the nationalist Prime Minister is pushing for the Judaization of East Jerusalem, that the extreme nationalist Minister of the Interior is even more eager, and that the super-nationalist Mayor of Jerusalem practically salivates when he imagines a Jewish quarter on the Temple Mount. So why should a bureaucrat postpone the confirmation of a new Jewish neighborhood in East Jerusalem? Just because of the visit of some American windbag?

Therefore, the timing is not important. It’s the matter itself that’s important.

DURING HIS last days in office, President Bill Clinton published a peace plan, in which he tried to make up for eight years of failure in this region and kowtowing to successive Israeli governments. The plan was comparatively reasonable, but included a ticking bomb.

About East Jerusalem, Clinton proposed that what is Jewish should be joined to the State of Israel and what is Arab should be joined to the state of Palestine. He assumed (rightly, I believe) that Yasser Arafat was ready for such a compromise, which would have joined some new Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem to Israel. But Clinton was not wise enough to foresee the consequences of his proposal.

In practice, it was an open invitation to the Israeli government to speed up the establishment of new settlements in East Jerusalem, expecting them to become part of Israel. And indeed, since then successive Israeli governments have invested all available resources in this endeavor. Since money has no smell, every Jewish casino-owner in America and every Jewish brothel-keeper in Europe was invited to join the effort. The Biblical injunction – “Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the Lord thy God, for any vow; for even both these are abomination unto the Lord thy God” (Deuteronomy 23:18) – was suspended for this holy cause.

Now the pace is speeded up even more. Because there is no more effective means of obstructing peace than building new settlements in East Jerusalem.

THAT IS clear to anyone who has dealings with this region. No peace without an independent Palestinian state, no Palestinian state without East Jerusalem. About this there is total unanimity among all Palestinians, from Fatah to Hamas, and between all Arabs, from Morocco to Iraq, and between all Muslims, from Nigeria to Iran.

There will be no peace without the Palestinian flag waving above the Haram al-Sharif, the holy shrines of Islam which we call the Temple Mount. That is an iron-clad rule. Arabs can compromise about the refugee problem, painful as it may be, and about the borders, also with much pain, and about security matters. But they cannot compromise about East Jerusalem becoming the capital of Palestine. All national and religious passions converge here.

Anyone who wants to wreck any chance for peace – it is here that he has to act. The settlers and their supporters, who know that any peace agreement would include the elimination of (at least) most settlements, have planned in the past (and probably are planning now) to blow up the mosques on the Temple Mount, hoping that this would cause a worldwide conflagration which would reduce to ashes the chances of peace once and for all. Less extreme people dream about the creeping ethnic cleansing of East Jerusalem by administrative chicanery, demolition of houses, denying means of livelihood and just making life in general miserable for Arabs. Moderate rightists just want to cover every empty square inch in East Jerusalem with Jewish neighborhoods. The aim is always the same.

THIS REALITY is, of course, well known to Obama and his advisors. In the beginning they believed, in their innocence, that they could sweet talk Netanyahu and Co. into stopping the building activity to facilitate the start of negotiations for the two-state solution. Very soon they learned that this was impossible without exerting massive pressure – and they were not prepared to do that.

After putting up a short and pitiful struggle, Obama gave in. He agreed to the deception of a “settlement freeze” in the West Bank. Now building is going on there with great enthusiasm, and the settlers are satisfied. They have completely stopped their demonstrations.

In Jerusalem there was not even a farcical attempt – Netanyahu just told Obama that he would go on building there (“as in Tel Aviv”), and Obama bowed his head. When Israeli officials announced a grandiose plan for building in “Ramat Shlomo” this week, they did not violate any undertaking. Only the matter of “timing” remained.

FOR JOE BIDEN, it was a matter of honor. For Mahmoud Abbas, it is a matter of survival.

Under intense pressure from the Americans and their agents, the rulers of the Arab countries, Abbas was obliged to agree to negotiations with the Netanyahu government – though only “proximity talks”, a euphemism for “distance talks”.

Clearly, nothing will come out of these talks except more humiliation for the Palestinians. Quite simply: anyone building in East Jerusalem and the West Bank is announcing in advance that there is no chance for an agreement. After all, no sane Israeli would invest billions in a territory he intends to turn over to the Palestinian state. A person who is eating a pizza is not negotiating about it in good faith.

Even at this late stage, Abbas and his people still hope that something good will come out of all this: the US will acknowledge that they are right and exert, at long last, real pressure on Israel to implement the two-state solution.

But Biden and Obama did not give much cause for hope. They wiped the spit off their faces and smiled politely.

As the saying goes: when you spit in the face of a weakling, he pretends that it is raining. Does this apply to the president of the most powerful country in the world?

Uri Avnery’s website http://www.avnery-news.co.il

12-12

France’s Burka Dilemma

Proposals to ban face veils provoked debate in France’s Muslim community

By Zubeida Malik

France could become the first country in Europe to ban the burka. A draft law submitted to the French parliament would make it illegal for a woman to cover her face in public spaces such as hospitals and trains. But the proposal has divided the country’s five million-strong Muslim community.

26 year-old Anisa wears a bright blue niqab, a piece of clothing that covers her completely except for her eyes and perfectly arched eyebrows.

You can’t miss her among the crowds: maybe it is because of the colour of the niqab or because there is no other woman around who is covered up to this extent.

She has been wearing it for a year-and-a-half. Anisa’s family, who are originally from Morocco, are against her wearing the niqab. But Anisa believes it is her religious duty.

According to official figures there are just 1900 women who wear the burka in France. Most of them are young and a quarter are converts.

But a report from the French intelligence services put this figure much lower at 367, out of an estimated population of five million Muslims, the largest in Europe.
When I met Anisa in the suburbs of Seine-Saint Denis, an area with the highest concentration of Muslims in France, she says that ever since she started wearing the niqab she has had unwelcome attention from the police, has been insulted in the street and is frequently stared at.

Women wearing the burka – a veil which covers the whole face – or the niqab in France are not as visible as those in Britain. But look hard enough in the suburbs and you can find them.

The mosque in the town of Drancy, on the outskirts of Paris, is currently the most controversial in France because the imam here has come out in support of the government’s decision to ban the burka.

Imam Hassan Chalghoumi is now facing death threats and has been given police protection. Ignoring the advice of his advisors he spoke to the Today programme.
He says the burka has nothing to do with religion but the wearing of it was down to tradition.

And the imam added that the burka debate was diverting attention from the real problems facing the Muslim community, including racism, integration and young people dropping out of school early. The imam, who is originally from Tunisia, has the support of the mayor of Drancy.

Tempers are running high at the mosque and there are some it is hard to tell how many want the imam to leave. And there is also a lot of anger and frustration with the media and the police.

Friday prayers when I was there were tense. There were policemen present, plain clothes officers filming and an ambulance on standby, in case anyone got hurt.
Multiculturalism in France is different to that in Britain and the United States. One of the core principles of the Fifth Republic is “laicite”, the separation of church and state.

Religion here is seen as a highly private matter, even more than in the US, where church and state are also constitutionally separated.

Pierre Rousselin from Le Figaro newspaper says that in France people still believe that ‘’foreigners can adapt to the French way of life’’

A commission has spent six months looking into the burka in a review which took evidence from more than 200 people. It recommended proposing a ban on women wearing either the burka or the niqab in hospitals, schools, government offices and on public transport.

It is not the first time that the Muslim community in France feels that its been put under the spotlight. In 2004 a law was passed banning the hijab – or headscarf – and all other religious symbols, from state schools. Although the ban affects all religions, the Muslim community here feels that it was aimed at them.

Wider debate

The current controversy comes in the wake of months of debate and President Sarkozy’s speech last year where he said the veils were not welcome in France, but which stopped short of calling for an outright ban.

A draft law has been submitted to parliament but any further action has been put on the back-burner until after the regional elections in France this month.

Sihem Habchi, who describes herself as a Muslim feminist, is director of Ni Putes Ni Soumise – “Neither Whores Nor Submissives”, an influential feminist organisation. She says it is not a question of how many women wear the burka, but one of ‘’democratic principle’’. And she too wants the burka banned.

Ms Habchi says that a ban would ‘’liberate’’ the Muslim community from those who want to hold it back and ‘’use our religion’’.

Adding that her Algerian background allows her to understand this issue and the wider one of women’s rights as a whole, Ms Habchi says ‘’laicite’’ actually protects religion because it means all religions have an equal footing.

Catherine De Wenden, an expert in the history of immigration in France, believes the timing of the current debate is political and is tied in with the regional elections in France.

Although she is personally against banning the burka, she says there it is part of a wider debate in France about national identity, adding that there are many forms of multiculturalism and that France regards religion as a private matter.

Ms De Wenden is concerned that if the ban happens then France will not be seen as a country which practises toleration, a core value of the French Revolution.
But any legislation could have the reverse effect. The young women I spoke to in Drancy said that if the ban became law then they would start to wear the burka for the first time.

12-12

The Day I Will Never Forget

By Nadja Dizdarevic

After Fajr prayers, I decided to go to sleep for a while, because I was up all night working on some brothers cases. These brothers (here in bosnia ) are detained in the immigration centre. I went to bed, but I could not sleep, for some reason I did not feel peace in my heart.

After half an hour of restlessness, I decided to get up. My children were surprised I was awake as I normally sleep longer on Mondays and Thursdays as I try and follow the sunnah for fasting on these days. I told them to go back to sleep, and I explained to them that I had to go to the immigration centre early so that I can get the brothers there to sign some legal documents. Soon I heard my mobile phone ring,

It was very bad news. Amar Hanci’s deportation was going to be deported to Tunisia at 2pm this day. I felt the wind and colour drain from me, and words cannot really describe how despondent I felt at that moment. I had been so busy with his case and had sought a temporary injunction from the international court of law in Strasbourg with the aim of prohibiting his deportation. Everything we had asked in the Bosnian court of law had been refused.

I realised I was not thinking rationally as I was so in shock that this brother would be deported. I begam to frantically make a list of organisations and NGOs that I could contact to help. I made a call to Strasboug, then London. I then got confirmation from Strasbourg that they expect the lawyer to act in an urgent procedure, but this was not enough for me. My heart was pounding so much knowing the suffering this brother will face that I could feel it through my whole body. The phone rang again.

It was Amar, and he was extremely distressed, talking and crying in one breath. He said the authorities won’t wait until 2pm, and they want to take him to the airport earlier. He asked me to come immediately. I was panicked myself, making calls to every institution I could letting them know that deportation had begun.
Amars wife was calling me crying and upset. I was scared to frighten her and cause her more distress, so I told her I am doing what I can with the help of Allah(Swt). When I got to the immigration centre, the gates were wide open with the van in the front yard. Even stranger was that I was asked to stay in the car fro 10 minutes. I have never been asked before to do this, as I am known to the authorities through my amnesty international work. I got out the car and asked to see the manager. I was afraid the authorities will take Amar in the van without giving me even the chance to see him or stop them.

From inside, I heard a sound so frightening and strange I was not aware it was even a human voice. My blood iced in my veins when I realised it was Amars voice painfully crying. I immediately demanded a meeting with the manager and they agreed. I was informed that brother Amar was in a bad state of health, doctors were around him giving him oxygen and medicines but nothing seemed to work, he was looking bad. I asked the manager to discuss this like a human being and forget our roles. I showed him the documentation I have, the reports, about brothers who have been deported and the torture they faced from the Tunisians when they went back.

I told the manager what I did in the morning, and that positive imminent news would arrive from Strasbourg. The manager became sympathetic and made some phonecalls, with the government agreeing to stay the deportation until the following Monday. I expressed my thanks to the staff and the manager in the centre for how they helped, emphasising that had they not intervened all these late actions would be for nothing.

After another long talk with the manager, he arranged for me to see Amar with the doctor and let him know the news. When I walked into where Amar was, his state of health and mental state shocked me, I had to hold onto the side of the bed to stop from fainting. Walahi I will never forget that scene and in my life I have already seen many terrible scenes. The brother was shaking uncontrollably, tears were streaming, his face was so white and his hands looked as if they were frozen. He begged to be killed rather than go back to the long torture that would await his return in Tunisia. He spent 3 days in a Tunisian prison before, and would rather be dead than have one more day of that torture. It took me a long time to get him to believe that the deportation is halted, and finally once he understood what I was saying he began to cry even more. It was not normal crying, but crying the likes of which I have never heard before. I took an oath with Allah(swt) in front of him that I would do all I could to stop the deportation, and that inshallah he would not be deported. He began to calm down, and asked that I contact his wife and mother in law to let them know what is happening.

I told him he should do this himself as it is better, and then in the meantime I will contact the organisations to pressurise the European court. Amars wife contacted me as she wished to see her husband but did not have the means. Whilst this was happening, I received notification from the court in Strasbourg that deportation has been stayed untl January 15, 2010 at 6pm. Allahu Akbar, how merciful Allah(swt) is!

I was crying now, but tears of relief and joy, but my children were scared that the deportation had happened and they were tears of sadness. They realised it was good news when I went into Sadja as a way of thanking Allah(swt) and they became happy themselves.

I then remembered to contact Amars wife and I arranged to drive her and her kids to see him. When I drove them back, they seemed happy and calm, but all I could see in my minds eye was Amars pain and desperation. I thank Allah(swt) on this day, where it ended well only because of His(swt) help. I fear for the next day that comes like this, and I ask you for your support and dua’ that these situations are resolved. These brothers need all of our help and dua’. We rely on Allah(swt), we trust in Him(swt) and we accept His(swt) decree, Ameen.

This article has been translated from the story of Sister Nadja Dizdarevic. She works tirelessly for these brothers who have been abandoned and let down by those in the Western countries living in comfort and ease. She has spent her time, money and suffered greatly for this from the authorities, having been physically attacked on several occasions ( I will provide a personal appeal from her later on). If you wish to donate to this cause, please contact me and I will pass on the sisters details / donation information.

12-1

Who is Behind the Iranian Protests?

By Dr. Aslam Abdullah, TMO Editor-in-chief

There is no doubt that there are thousands of Iranian who yearn for real democracy. They are the ones’s who are concerned about the detereorating law and order situation in their country. But what is interesting to note that those who are fomenting violence in Iran are those who have at their back several western intellligence agencies.

It is now a known fact that for the last 12 months these intelligence agencies have been supplying high quality communication devices in the thousands to Iranian youth to provide information in situation like these. Much of these electronic gagdets were sent to Iran from Los Angeles, by Iranian businessmen who recived the hidden grant from sources closer to intelligence agencies.

In 1953, western intelligence agencies played a similar game in toppling the Iranian democratic regime. Now many fear that the same game is being repeated.

The West has laid economic siege to Iran for 30 years. Recently, US Congress voted $120 million for anti-regime media broadcasts into Iran and $60-75 million in funding for opposition, violent underground Marxists and restive ethnic groups such as Azeris, Kurds and Arabs under the “Iran Democracy Program.” Pakistani intelligence sources put the CIA’s recent spending on “black operations” to subvert Iran’s government at $400 million.It is true that majority of protests we see in Tehran are genuine and spontaneous, western intelligence agencies are playing a key role in sustaining them and providing communications, including the newest method, via Twitter.

The Tehran government turned things worse by limiting foreign news reports and trying to cover up protests.

Several western experts have accused Iran of improper electoral procedures while utterly ignoring their autocratic Mideast allies such as Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, which hold only fake elections and savage any real opposition.They have also ignore the voting irregularities that were witnessed in Florida and Ohio in 2000 and 20008, by officials close to republican Party candidate President Bush.

U.S. senators, led by John McCain, blasted Iran for not respecting human rights without making any reference to President Bush torture policy in Guantanamo Bay.

In fact the current feud is between the establishment and former establishment member Ali Akbar Rafsanjani who is waiting to pounce. He heads the Assembly of Experts, which theoretically has the power to unseat Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.his power revolves round him and his family. He is considered the msot shrewed politician of Iran. It is possible that he may manipulate situation to the best of his interests.

But we must not live under any illusion that Rafsanjani would be a pro-western leader. He is as dangerous as the previsiou leader when it comes to Iran’s nuclear ambition.

All that we need to do is to wait and see before making a final pronouncement on the current situation.

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