Sympathisants Jihadists: In Paris Neighborhood Heavily Hit by Terrorists, Bobo Hipster Residents View Attackers as Victims 

‘They’re stupid, but they aren’t evil,’ says Parisian woman who works in 11th arrondissement, and in Place de la Republique, no one wanted to talk about Islamists or the Islamic State.

PARIS – Ansel Pfeffer reports: On the day after the terror campaign in Paris that left 129 people dead and more than 300 wounded, residents of the French capital are still trying to absorb what hit them.

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“They are victims of a system that excluded them from society, that’s why they felt this doesn’t belong to them and they could attack. There are those who live here in alienation, and we are all to blame for this alienation.”

By evening, after they had avoided gathering outdoors all day on the orders of police, hundreds of people started to assemble at the Place de la Republique, only a few hundred meters from the Bataclan concert hall where four terrorists had held hostage hundreds of people for more than two hours, killing 89 of them. From Boulevard Voltaire, where the hall is located and which was closed by police, ambulances carrying the bodies of the victims would emerge every few minutes, sirens wailing. As of last night only a handful of the victims had been named.

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“They don’t want us to think that maybe it’s connected to the policies of our government and of the United States in the Middle East. These are people the government gave up on, and you have to ask why.” 

A group of friends was standing near the candles that had been lit at the foot of the monument at the square, trying to find out if the waiter that had served them at La Belle Equipe, one of the restaurants attacked in the 11th arrondissement, had been killed.

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“One member of the group said they had come to the square to demonstrate ‘unity,’ but they didn’t seem to feel solidarity with the victims of the last wave of terror. There were signs calling for unity, but it wasn’t clear what they were meant to unite around.”

“It’s very personal, what’s happened,” said Stephan Byatt, an actor who lives on a nearby street. He has a hard time finding the words to describe what he’s feeling. His friend, Bruno Michlaud, a graphic artist, tries to help out. “It’s a symbol of Paris, a symbol of life. They hurt us in the center of our lives and each of us could have been one of those killed.”

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But they aren’t angry, at least not at the perpetrators. “They’re stupid, but they aren’t evil,” their friend Sabrina, an administrative worker in one of the theaters in the 11th arrondissement, said. “They are victims of a system that excluded them from society, that’s why they felt this doesn’t belong to them and they could attack. There are those who live here in alienation, and we are all to blame for this alienation.”

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“Perhaps it’s correct to bomb them in the name of democracy and freedom, but it brought the war in Syria to us in France. I don’t think it’s worth it.”

Ten months after the previous wave of terror in Paris that hit the editorial offices of Charlie Hebdo and the Hypercacher kosher supermarket, one might assume that residents would feel a sense of continuity, but that didn’t seem to be the case. “Then they harmed journalists and Jews, those were defined targets,” said one of the young people who had come to the square. “Now it was an attack with no objective, anyone could have been hurt.” Read the rest of this entry »


Amnesty International: Hamas Guilty of War Crimes in Gaza Conflict

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HAIFA, Israel –   reports: A horrific missile attack that killed 11 children in Gaza during last summer’s war between Israel and Hamas, for which Israel was broadly condemned at the time, was actually caused by a Palestinian missile misfiring and killing its own people, Amnesty International charged in a report released Thursday.

“Although Palestinians have claimed that the Israeli military was responsible for the attack, an independent munitions expert, who examined the available evidence on behalf of Amnesty International, concluded that the projectile used in the attack was a Palestinian rocket.”

“In the deadliest incident believed to have been caused by a Palestinian armed group during the conflict, 13 Palestinian civilians – 11 of them children – were killed when a projectile exploded next to a supermarket in the crowded al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza on 28 July 2014, the first day of Eid al-Fitr,” Amnesty’s report said. “The children had been playing in the street and buying crisps and soft drinks in the supermarket at the time of the attack.”

“Palestinian armed groups, including the armed wing of Hamas, repeatedly launched unlawful attacks during the conflict killing and injuring civilians.”

“Although Palestinians have claimed that the Israeli military was responsible for the attack, an independent munitions expert, who examined the available evidence on behalf of Amnesty International, concluded that the projectile used in the attack was a Palestinian rocket.”

“Unlike Hamas, Israel is vigorously investigating its conduct, aiming to draw lessons and minimize civilian harm. Meanwhile, Hamas continues to incite terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians, boast of building new cross-border assault tunnels, and test-fires rockets, in preparation for further violence against Israelis.”

— a spokesperson for Israel’s Embassy in London

The report highlights the fact that the blast could not have been caused by a drone attack or as the result of Israeli shelling. The crater was too shallow, it said, while “its circumference was too wide to have been caused by a tank shell.”

“The Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas, which against the wishes of the U.S. and others, intends to apply for membership of the International Criminal Court, next week, may be liable for this and other war crimes committed by Palestinians during the war if accepting ICC jurisdiction.”

“Palestinian armed groups, including the armed wing of Hamas, repeatedly launched unlawful attacks during the conflict killing and injuring civilians,” said Philip Luther, director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International. “In launching these attacks, they displayed a flagrant disregard for international humanitarian law and for the consequences of their violations on civilians in both Israel and the Gaza Strip.”

Israel’s insistence from the start that the 13 deaths were caused by one of Hamas’ own missiles going astray was generally disregarded as Hamas rushed to accuse Israel. Read the rest of this entry »


Saudi Arabia is Building a 600-Mile Wall


Michael Tomasky: In Defense of Blasphemy

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editor-commen-deskMichael Tomasky almost makes a good case here, but his credibility is strained by some perplexing comments. For example, the worst kind of wishful thinking is revealed in statements like this: “If states were to alter their conceptions of sharia law so that blasphemy and apostasy were lesser crimes, or preferably not crimes at all…” Well, of course we prefer they’re “not crimes at all”. Islamic legal scholars are pretty much on record preferring otherwise. I’d prefer that fresh coffee be delivered to my desk each morning by a team of pink unicorns. Who wouldn’t? But in the real world, I still have to go out and get my own coffee. To adherents and advocates of sharia law — perhaps not in its western world incarnations and deviations – but certainly in the Islamic world, to recommend liberalizing sharia to the point of irrelevance is itself arguably blasphemous. Or at the least, unrealistic to the point of being dangerously blind. Perhaps I’m wrong, maybe sharia has more potential to be flexible than I’m aware of. But current global trends certainly suggests otherwise.

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Further, Tomasky’s flimsy defense of CAIR is questionable, and his call for maturity is rank snobbery disguised as insight: “Groups like CAIR and leading intellectuals and imams have been denouncing acts like these for years. It’s just that they don’t often make the news when they do it. So let’s please just grow out of that one,” he writes. Really? Let’s not grow out of that one, Mr. Tomasky. Terrorist front-group CAIR pays lip service to such things, but their blood-soaked insincerity is as ripe and thick as their FBI rap sheet. Let’s not even pretend that CAIR is a legitimate organization, if we’re trying to have a serious discussion. Those complaints aside? It’s a good article. And a worthwhile debate to have. Anyone willing to defend blasphemy, and advocate reform, is one of the good guys. Read the whole thing here, at The Daily Beast.

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Today, Saudi Arabia will flog a blogger for blasphemy. We may not be able to stop terrorists from killing, but can we pressure states?

Michael Tomaskytomasky writes: Today, Saudi Arabia will flog a blogger for blasphemy. We may not be able to stop terrorists from killing, but can we pressure states?

As you go about your business today and think once or twice (as I hope you will) of Charb and his colleagues in Paris, spare another thought for Raif Badawi. He is, or was, a blogger in Saudi Arabia. Not the most agreeable place to ply the trade, as he learned in 2012 when he was arrested and charged with using his web site, “Free Saudi Liberals,” to engage in electronic insult of Islam. I read on Jonathan Turley’s blog that today, Friday, he will receive the first dose of his sentence in the form of 50 lashes.

“Have a look at this telling research from Pew on blasphemy and apostasy laws around the world. We do see that a few European countries have them on the books: Germany, Poland, Italy, Ireland, a couple more. In these countries, the punishment is typically a fine. Maybe in theory a short stint in the cooler, but in reality the laws in these countries are rarely enforced, and in some countries there hasn’t been a prosecution in years or decades.”

Badawi’s crime was to run a web site that “violates Islamic values and propagates liberal thought.” Interesting that those who sat in judgment of him found those two sets of beliefs to be incompatible. He was originally sentenced to seven years and 600 lashes. A huge international outcry ensued. He was retried, and sure enough his sentence was adjusted. It was increased—to 10 years and 1,000 lashes. But give the Kingdom credit for its sense of mercy: The lashes will be administered only 50 at a time.

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Like Nick Kristof, I have been gratified to see that my Twitter feed has been bursting to the rafters with tweets from Muslims and Arabs condemning the Paris attacks in the strongest possible terms. Gratified but not surprised. Anyone who’s paid attention has known for some time now that there are millions of Muslims and Arabs (obviously, not all Muslims are Arabs, and vice versa) who espouse and fight for liberal secular values. I know some. They’re some of the most courageous people I’ve ever met.

“The most notorious states are Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, where death is an acceptable legal remedy. In 2009, a Pakistani Christian woman got into a religious argument with some Muslim women with whom she was harvesting berries. Asia Bibi, as she is known, was arrested and sentenced to death.”

It’s high time—and if this tragedy has prodded Western culture to turn this particular corner, then that’s one good thing that will have come of it—that we stop demanding of Muslims and Arabs that they denounce acts of terrorism just because they’re Muslims and Arabs. Read the rest of this entry »


Syrian Ambassador Quotes Obama’s ‘Yes We Can’ Slogan While Defending Assad

Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar Ja’afari quoted President Obama’s “Yes We Can” campaign slogan Tuesday on CNN while defending his government against charges of using chemical weapons and portraying the outside world as aggressors against what he described as a “peaceful” nation.

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