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“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Archive for March 26th, 2011

Over In Syria And More.

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Khaled Abu Toameh has had some thoughts on Syria:

“Just as Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s son, Seif ul Islam, was once praised as the new, liberal and democratic hope of Libya, so Bashar was projected eleven years ago as representing a new generation of Arab leaders willing to break away from a dark and dictatorial past.

But the events of the last few days in Syria, which have seen unarmed demonstrators gunned down by government forces, prove conclusively that when push comes to shove, Bashar is actually not all that different from his late father. As some of his critic comment, “The apple does not fall far from the tree.”

His handling of pro-democracy protests that have erupted in several Syrian cities since March 15 is a reminder that Bashar is a dictator who, like Colonel Gaddafi and Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh, will not surrender power gracefully.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal several weeks ago, Bashar boasted that the Tunisian and Egyptian models did not apply to his country and that there was no fear for the survival of his regime. He was right in the first part of his analysis: both neither the Egyptian nor Tunisian presidents chose to fight their people to the last drop of their blood.

But the second part of his analysis is faulty: Syria is far from immune from the political tsunami of popular uprisings currently sweeping through the Arab world.

Syrian human rights organizations have expressed deep concern over the Syrian authorities’ ruthless and brutal crackdown. They note how in many instances children under the ages of 15 were arrested by the notorious “mukhabarat” secret service for allegedly painting anti-government graffiti on city walls.

In another incident that took place in the southern Syrian city of Daraa, Bashar unleashed his commandos against peaceful worshippers who were staging a sit-in strike in a mosque; he killed dozens and wounded many others.

Syrians are asking: Will the son go as far as his father in stamping down on all protests? The public has not forgotten the terrible events of 20 years ago in the city of Hama, when government forces using artillery and air power killed an estimated 20,000 civilians. “

Reuters’ live coverage on the Middle East is useful.

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Bachmann And Fischer, No First Amendment Rights For Muslims?

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Attacks on Muslims are not only physical there is an intellectual current at work too. This phenomena can be seen in North America with the comment of Bryan Fischer, Right Wing Watch has more:

“While the American Family Association claims that one of its founding objectives is to “defends the rights of conscience and religious liberty from infringement by government,” its chief spokesman r continues to show his contempt for religious freedom. Fischer, the AFA’s Director of Issues Analysis, repeatedly demanded that the US deport all Muslims and prohibit and purge Muslims from the military, and also called for the banning and destruction of mosques. Fischer today attempted to reconcile his ardent opposition to Muslim religious liberty with the Constitution’s First Amendment by claiming that the Constitution actually doesn’t apply to or protect Muslims at all:

Islam has no fundamental First Amendment claims, for the simple reason that it was not written to protect the religion of Islam. Islam is entitled only to the religious liberty we extend to it out of courtesy. While there certainly ought to be a presumption of religious liberty for non-Christian religious traditions in America, the Founders were not writing a suicide pact when they wrote the First Amendment.

Our government has no obligation to allow a treasonous ideology to receive special protections in America, but this is exactly what the Democrats are trying to do right now with Islam.

From a constitutional point of view, Muslims have no First Amendment right to build mosques in America. They have that privilege at the moment, but it is a privilege that can be revoked if, as is in fact the case, Islam is a totalitarian ideology dedicated to the destruction of the United States. The Constitution, it bears repeating, is not a suicide pact. For Muslims, patriotism is not the last refuge of a scoundrel, but the First Amendment is.

To Europeans and others this might seem like irrelevant nonsense, but the United States Constitution is key to political matters within the US of A and no more so than the First Amendment.

This is how Cornell Law School describes the importance of the First Amendment:

“The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects the right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression from government interference. See U.S. Const. amend. I. Freedom of expression consists of the rights to freedom of speech, press, assembly and to petition the government for a redress of grievances, and the implied rights of association and belief. The Supreme Court interprets the extent of the protection afforded to these rights. The First Amendment has been interpreted by the Court as applying to the entire federal government even though it is only expressly applicable to Congress. Furthermore, the Court has interpreted, the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as protecting the rights in the First Amendment from interference by state governments. See U.S. Const. amend. XIV.

Two clauses in the First Amendment guarantee freedom of religion. The establishment clause prohibits the government from passing legislation to establish an official religion or preferring one religion over another. It enforces the “separation of church and state.” Some governmental activity related to religion has been declared constitutional by the Supreme Court. For example, providing bus transportation for parochial school students and the enforcement of “blue laws” is not prohibited. The free exercise clause prohibits the government, in most instances, from interfering with a person’s practice of their religion.”

Most American politicians, and certainly anyone remotely educated, in the US would understand that, as it is drilled into them in school and college, yet Fischer chooses to deny the accepted meaning of the First Amendment and applicable to all.

So why Michele Bachmann didn’t take this matter up with Fischer when she was interviewed on his show recently is a mystery, possibly her connection to the Tea Party overrides her commitment to the First Amendment?

Just in case any Tea Partyers read this, here’s a refresher:

“Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

That applies to all, including Muslims in the US and people should remember that.

An Update, The Hanley Mosque Fire.

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The racial attack on the Hanley Road Mosque took place in December 2010 but it is only now that we’ve heard of an arrest or two, this is Staffordshire reports:

“TWO men were due to appear in court today accused of starting a fire at a mosque.

Simon Beech, aged 23, and Gareth Foster, aged 28, both from Stoke-on-Trent, have been charged with arson with intent to endanger life following the blaze at the mosque in Regent Road, Hanley on December 3.

Two other men arrested in connection with the incident have been released from their bail without charge.”

There is a suggestion on the web that at least one of them is connected to the English Defence League, I don’t know how true that is, but it seems probable.

Update 1: The Newstatesman has more on the Daily Star and the EDL.

Update 2: Andy looks at the Australian Defence League.

Written by modernityblog

26/03/2011 at 00:34