Sunday, November 29, 2009

Swiss Islamophobia

Swiss voters approved a ban on the construction of mosque minarets. The ban was sponsored by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party or SVP, and unfortunately was approved by 58 percent of the voters today.

“The Federal Council respects this decision,” the government said in a statement.

Earlier, Swiss Islamophobes displayed posters showing a black-veiled figure standing next to a Swiss flag covered in missile-like minarets were outlawed in several cities on the grounds that they were discriminatory. Campaigners for the ban argued that minarets are symbols of religious and political power that will pave the way for the eventual introduction of Sharia law in Switzerland. About 5 percent of the country’s 7.8 million people are Muslim.

I’ve decided to ban Swiss chocolate from my diet. I think that you should too!

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Palestine 1001 Nights

"Hamas is negotiating with Israel:" this is what Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas confidently said to a BBC -Arabic reporter in an exclusive interview. How does he know? Abbas asserted that there are "no secrets in Israel".

If things could only be this simple in the Middle East, Mr. Abbas would have known from the get-go that the Oslo Accords were a disaster for the Palestinians, Bush's Road Map for Peace was just another road to nowhere, the Annapolis Peace Conference was dead on arrival, and Obama's promises for "change" do not mean squat when it comes to Israel.

The President of the Palestinian Authority added that the presidential and legislative elections scheduled for January will be postponed and that he would not seek a second term as president. Abbas looked frustrated...he looked like a beaten man.

Meanwhile, the Israeli government in recent days has been scrambling for yet another distraction to offer the beleaguered Palestinian Authority President: an interim accord that would include a Palestinian state with provisional borders. This way he'll have a quasi-state with temporary borders to show for all the endless negotiations. What a brilliant idea!

The reasoning behind this brilliant idea is that it would remove contentious issues that have prevented an agreement in the past, such as the Palestinian refugee issue and Jerusalem, from the negotiating table. No big deal, really!

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Friday, November 13, 2009

The Saudi-Iranian Neo Cold War

It's been four months since I described Yemen as a powder keg ready to explode. At the time the entire world was riveted to the television, watching the unfolding events of the "Velvet Revolution" in Iran. The Yemeni keg has since exploded. It is currently on the verge of causing regional conflict.

For more than a week now, Saudi Arabia has been carrying out military operations on its remote southern border to punish Houthi rebels from neighboring Yemen who crossed over and attacked one of its patrols. Both Yemen and Saudi Arabia have accused Iran of arming the rebels.

Accusations and counter accusations have been flying between the two rival regional powers. On Tuesday, Iran's foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki warned that, "those who pour oil on the fire must know that they will not be spared from the smoke that billows."

Read more on the Huffington Post

Friday, November 6, 2009

Don't Ask Me About Hasan

SEVEN messages and counting on my voice mail from different Bay Area reporters, all wanting to know the Muslim community's reaction about the recent heinous killings of Nidal Malik Hasan. All wanting to know what had driven a 39-year-old Muslim to go on a killing rampage, murdering 13 people in Fort Hood, Texas. "He had it all," someone said, "he's an educated man, he's a doctor." Why did he do it?

Apparently, I fit the profile of someone who has these answers: I am a Muslim Palestinian American: I must know what one out of the 1.5 billion Muslims around the globe is thinking at any given time.

"Hey, Jamal...sorry to disturb you so early. But you know the Hasan story is big, and I was wondering if you're willing to come for an interview and talk about how it feels being a Maahzlem (Muslim) and all," a television producer says to me on my cell, while I was driving to work.

"How did you feel being a Christian, with Timothy McVeigh and Adolf Hitler being Christians?" I fired back.

Silence... I probably should not have said that, but there it is.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"We're God's Chosen People"

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on Israel to halt what he called "provocative" actions after another Palestinian family in East Jerusalem was evicted from their home, the latest in a series of similar incidents.

Jewish settlers have forced their way into a house in East Jerusalem, using hired guards to evict an elderly Palestinian woman and throwing out other residents' belongings. The settlers displayed what they said was a court order granting them ownership of the single-storey building. Human rights groups said the takeover was part of a push by Jewish settlers to expand their presence in the traditionally Arab sector.

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