Archive | March 30th, 2012

الشيخ أحمد الأسير: لن أخوض الانتخابات… ولا أشكّل تياراً سياسياً

هيثم زعيتر- صحيفة اللواء اللبنانية

أفرزت الوقائع التي تدور على الساحتين اللبنانية والإقليمية، وامتداداتها الخارجية، ظواهر عديدة عبر ما يُسمى بالمخاض العسير حيناً، وبالسهل البسيط أحياناً..
وهي في الإجمال ليست جديدة، كما أنها ليست نافرة أو غريبة في مجتمعات تشهد من الأحداث والتطورات، وما يسمى بالظواهر في إطار الحركة التي تُطاول المجتمع، وتفرض عليه في إطار المواكبة مجموعة من المتغيّرات والتقلبات تترك بصمات واضحة في مسار الحياة اليومية..
ومن هنا، تبدأ معركة الفرز والظواهر المتعددة، التي قد تكون متشابهة في إطار الحركة الدائرة حول الشأن العام، والنظرة إليها من خلال أطر عامة، ومبادئ عادية، أو مختلفة بحكم مصالح ذاتية وشخصية، أو متصادمة في عمليات استقطاب لمقاصد وأحداث ذات ارتباطات وغايات قد تمتد إلى أبعاد ومرامي واسعة الأفاق، تتجاوز الاعتبارات المحلية إلى الإقليمية والدولية أحياناً..
وهكذا يشهد لبنان اليوم، هذه القابلية للتفاعل مع ما يجري في المنطقة، من الحيز الضيق إلى الآفاق الواسعة، كما جرت العادة في مختلف مراحل الحياة السياسية والاجتماعية، التي كانت بمثابة مرآة مزدوجة: عاكسة ومعكوسة للتشابكات بكل ألوانها وأبعادها..
لقد عرفت صيدا، مثل غيرها من مناطق أخرى، بروز ظواهر معينة، إما بحكم الوقائع المتشابكة على الأرض، وإما بحكم الأحداث والأغراض التي قد تكون مبدئية أو مادية..
كانت صيدا دائماً لاعباً جيداً، وساحة كبيرة لمثل الكثير من الظواهر المستجدة بفعل أيضاً دوران الحركة المتأثرة والمؤثرة، بحيث تطفو بين فترة وأخرى على السطح معالم ظواهر جديدة في هذا المجتمع، الذي تتسع أفاقه إلى حدود ما وراء البحار والوهاد..
اليوم، تشهد مدينة صيدا ما يُسمى ظاهرة الشيخ الأسير، التي أصبحت حديث الناس ما بين صيدا ولبنان إلى مختلف تضاريس الواقع السياسي والاجتماعي الدائر في حلقة التشعبات والتشابكات والتفاعلات..
وتطرح الأوساط السياسية والاجتماعية بل والدينية، الكثير من التساؤلات وعلامات الاستفهام، حول الآفاق التي قد تنطوي عليها مثل هذه الظاهرة. لماذا في هذا التوقيت بالذات، ولماذا في زحمة الجمعيات والمؤسسات الدينية، وما هو المقصود بها ومنها، ومن يقف وراءها، وما هي الأدوار أو الدور المرسوم لها، وما هي مفاعيلها الآنية والمستقبلية، والمدى الذي قد تصل إليه، وتأثيراته في واقع الحاضر والمستقبل..
«اللواء» تعرض على حلقات الأبعاد السياسية والاجتماعية لهذه الظاهرة، من خلال الحوار الصريح والمباشر مع الشيخ أحمد الأسير، على أن يتبعه يوم الجمعة المقبل عرض لمواقفه من مختلف الأفرقاء على الساحة اللبنانية، وتكون الحلقة الأخيرة الأربعاء التالي لتسجيل مواقف وردود فعل القوى السياسية والمرجعيات الدينية لبروز هذه الظاهرة، مع التأكيد على إفساح المجال لأي رد لكل من يتم التطرق إليه في هذا الملف..

كلام السنيورة أنهى الإشكال مع «المستقبل» وللسيدة بهية كل المودة والإحترام

يؤكد الشيخ الأسير «عدم الخوض في تفاصيل السياسة، ولكن كل ملف يكون تحت عنوان رفع الظلم والدفاع عن وجودنا وأمننا، وأمن بلدنا سنقاربه بطريقة سلمية».
ويؤمن إمام «مسجد بلال بن رباح» «أن التحرك السلمي ورفع الصوت، هو الأجدى والأفضل لتبيان وتوصيف الواقع»، مبدياً حرصه على «التواصل بما يخدم القضية الإسلامية ويُشعر بالأمن والاطمئنان للمسلمين والمسيحيين، ونصرة المظلومين أينما كانوا».
اللافت في ظاهرة الشيخ الأسير أنها خلافاً لحركات وتيارات أخرى، كانت تنطلق خارج مدينة صيدا والجنوب، لتكون المدينة متلقياً لها، إذ بتحركه أو الصرخة التي أطلقها، تنطلق «من عاصمة الجنوب»، ليتردد صداها ليس في المدينة والجوار فقط، بل إلى مختلف المناطق اللبنانية، وإلى أبعد من ذلك – أي خارج الحدود، وتحديداً لما يجري في سوريا.
هذا الواقع المفروض، استطاع فيه الشاب الصيداوي، وخلال أشهر قليلة، تحقيق ما عجزت عنه أحزاب وقوى وتيارات وقيادات روحية وسياسية وحزبية، لها باعٌ طويل، وعمل مخضرم على مر السنوات.
من هنا، تكمن أهمية حركة الشيخ الأسير، في تناوله وتطرقه إلى مواضيع حساسة، ربما لم يتجرأ البعض على مقاربتها بشكل صريح وواضح، وهو ما يحتاج المواطنون إلى سماع مثل تلك النبرة ربما، فتحولت خطب الجمعة في «مسجد بلال بن رباح» إلى مناسبة أسبوعية يطل من خلالها الشيخ، داعياً، وواعظاً، وخطيباً سياسياً، ومُشرّحاً للأمور بكل تفاصيلها، بما يُمكن استيعابه من قبل المصلين على مختلف فئاتهم العمرية، وحتى ذكوراً وإناثاً، في وقت يندر فيه عدد المصلين في مساجد أخرى في المدينة، وهو ما يطرح جملة من التساؤلات لشكل أساليب ووسائل الجذب والاستقطاب، التي تنسحب أيضاً على الندوات والمحاضرات الفكرية التي يُلقيها بشكل دوري.
لعل البارز أن الصرخة ورفع الصوت لم يكن في المسجد فقط، بل تعدى ذلك إلى القيام بتنفيذ اعتصامات وتحركات في طليعتها وعنوانها نصرة الشعب السوري ضد المجازر التي تُرتكب بحقه، وتجاوز ذلك محيط المسجد بالتوجه إلى القيام باعتصامات ومسيرات نحو بلده الهلالية، ثم إلى صيدا، وهو ما قررت فاعليات المدينة النأي بنفسها عنه، سواء نصرة لسوريا الأسد أو للشعب السوري، قبل أن تلحق به القوى المؤيدة أو المعارضة للنظام السوري، بتنفيذ اعتصامات ولقاءات تضامنية في المدينة، ولكن بقيت كل الأمور «ممسوكة» و«مضبوطة الإيقاع» لمنع محاولات استغلال الساحة الصيداوية كساحة تلج إليها الفتنة، وهي في غنى عنها، نظراً لخصوصيتها الفريدة جداً في تعايش داخلي أو بين كل قوى المدينة الرئيسية، وتجانس مع الجوار، وتحديداً مخيم عين الحلوة، وشرقاً باتجاه شرقي صيدا، وتنسيقاً باتجاه الجنوب.
مواقف الشيخ الأسير الصيداوية تتوزع بين من يؤيدها، وهذا ينقسم بين العلنية أو التحفظ والسرية، وكتم البوح بالموقف لاعتبارات متعددة.. وبين من يسعى إلى الاستفادة من هذه الحالة، لأنها تُعبر عن قناعاته، دون أن يكون في «بوز المدفع».. أو أنه لا يريد أن يرفدها مشاركة حتى لا تكبر «الحالة الأسيرية».. فيما البعض يرى أن هذا الواقع هو على حساب مناصرين له، بعضهم تَرك لمواكبة هذه الحالة، والآخر ما زال مناصراً ولا يبوح بما يختزنه، ويواظب على المشاركة في نشاطات «مسجد بلال بن رباح».. بينما هناك من اعتبر أن هذا التحرك يُزاحمه فلحق به وأيده، أو قام بتحركات مماثلة، أو أجاب بمزايدات عن تأييده لهذا الحراك حتى لا يُحرج.
في المقابل، هناك جانب آخر لا يبدي رأياً بشأن هذه الحركة لا إيجاباً ولا سلباً، وهو في منطقة ضبابية.. يواجههم جو هو ضد هذا الحراك، سواءً اقتناعاً ودعماً لسوريا، وما قدمته للبنان والمقاومة، أو مسايرةً لقوى أخرى، هي في دائرة هذا الفلك، أو لحسابات خاصة.
البداية…
انطلاقة الشيخ الأسير، تعود إلى عدة سنوات، عندما اختار خط الدعوة والتبليغ، وقام بزيارات في هذا الإطار داخل مدينة صيدا والجوار، وصولاً إلى شرقها والجنوب، ومختلف المناطق اللبنانية، بل إلى أبعد من ذلك – أي خارج لبنان، بهدف نشر الدعوة الإسلامية، وحث الناس على التزام التعاليم الإسلامية، انطلاقاً من فكرة بناء أعمال المساجد، ويعود بالذاكرة ليتحدث عن تلك الحقبة بالقول: «لقد بدأت عملي الدعوي منذ العام 1989 في مدينة صيدا، من خلال مساجدها، ثم انطلقت إلى مساجد الجنوب، وتحديداً في المخيمات والمناطق السنية، مثل: البرغلية، الشبريحا، الواسطة، ضيعة العرب والعاقبية، وكذلك إلى عرسال والقرى البقاعية، وفي وادي خالد وعكار والشمال، من خلال القيام برحلات دعوية كنا ننسق فيها مع «دائرة الأوقاف» وأئمة المساجد الذين نزور مساجدهم».
ويتابع: «استمريت بذلك، وتابعت تحصيلي العلمي في «كلية الشريعة» التابعة لـ «دار الفتوى» في بيروت، وكان مديرها – آنذاك – الشيخ عبدالرحمن الحلو – وحالياً هو قاضٍ، ونلت «ليسانس» في علوم الشريعة، وتسجلتُ لرسالة «الماجستير» في الفقه المقارن، وأخذت الموافقة عليه، ولكن لم أقدّم البحث لانشغالي الشديد».
إذا كانت بداية الشيخ الأسير في الدعوة من خلال المساجد في مدينة صيدا، فإنها توسعت لتشمل مناطق أخرى، ولكن من اللافت أن عدداً كبيراً ممن كانوا معه في بداية انطلاقته في الدعوة والتبليغ، ليسوا الآن معه، فيجيب عن ذلك: «لقد تمايزت عن عمل الدعوة والتبليغ، ويُمكن تسميتها «حركة إسلامية عالمية»، لأنني ما فهمته تميز عن الذي تُمارسه جماعة الدعوة والتبليغ مئة بالمئة، وأنا أركز في دعوتي على عوام المسلمين، وهم السواد الأعظم غير «المؤطرين» بأطر معينة حزبية أو حركية، لأنني تأملت جيداً حركة النبي (صلى الله عليه وسلم) الدعوية، لأنه كان يقصد كل إنسان، ويطرق بابه، لذلك انتهجت ذلك ودخلت إلى خمارات ونوادٍ ومقاهٍ، داعياً الناس فيها إلى القيام بأعمال المساجد، وما زلنا نقوم بهذا العمل».
توجه الشيخ الأسير إلى عوام المسلمين، يعتبره «سبباً رئيسياً في الالتفاف حوله، ليس فقط من المصلين، بل من مسلمين وحتى مسيحيين».
العلاقة الصيداوية
وعن علاقته الصيداوية، يُمكن من خلال مواقف الشيخ الأسير، تحديد نسب التفاوت فيها، فيؤكد «إنني على علاقة طيبة جداً مع مفتي صيدا ومنطقتها الشيخ سليم سوسان، وهناك تعاون بيننا»، وينفي أن يكون موظفاً في «دار الأوقاف الإسلامية» في صيدا، ويُشير إلى «أن هناك تقصيراً في «دار الفتوى» و»دائرة الأوقاف»، هناك تقصير إداري في ملاحقة بعض الملفات، ومنها تفاصيل في المقبرة، التي تحتاج إلى ملاحقة دؤوبة، وهذا يدل على تقصير بشكل عام، ليس من مفتي صيدا فقط، بل الإدارة فيها، وهناك تقصير عام لدى المشايخ، وأنا أولهم».
ويأخذ الشيخ الأسير باللوم على «تيار المستقبل» «بعد الهجوم الشرس على دعوتنا، ووصفها بالتطرف، حيث طالبتُ قيادة «تيار المستقبل» بأن يصححوا الوضع، من خلال الاعتذار أو التوضيح عما قاله وزراء ونواب حاليون وسابقون، تحدثوا باسم التيار، ومنهم من قال: «نحن في «تيار المستقبل» لا نؤيد ظاهرة الأسير، لأن التطرف يأتي بالتطرف».. وأنا طالبتهم بأن يبينوا لي أين التطرف لأتوب عنه.. وجاء توضيح الرئيس السنيورة بالقول: «نحن ليس دورنا أن نصنف الناس، ولا أن نتهم الناس بأنهم متطرفون أو غير ذلك، ونحن لم نقم كتيار باتهام الشيخ أحمد الأسير بأنه متطرف»، وهذا الكلام يؤكد أن ما قاله بعض النواب في «تيار المستقبل» لا يُعبّر عن الموقف الرسمي للتيار، وبناءً عليه قبلنا توضيح الرئيس السنيورة الرسمي عن تيار المستقبل».
ويُشير إلى «أن العلاقة مع الرئيس السنيورة، محدودة، ونشكره على موقفه التوضيحي» ويؤكد «أن العلاقة مع النائب بهية الحريري، هي علاقة ود واحترام متبادلة، وهي أخت عزيزة وفاضلة».
ابن «الجماعة الإسلامية» في فترة الشباب، التي تركها بعد أن أمضى فيها ثلاثة أعوام، يكشف «أتفق مع الجماعة في معظم العناوين، مثلاً الثورة السورية، قضية فلسطين، الدعوة الإسلامية، التوعية، التعليم، ولكن في الآليات غالباً هناك تباين بين الحركات عموماً، وكذلك عندنا».
الشيخ الحريص على العلاقة مع «الجماعة» بعد بروز حالته زار مقرها في صيدا، ثم مركزها الرئيسي في بيروت، والتقى أمينها العام الشيخ إبراهيم المصري، ويجزم «لم أجد بأن الذين ناصروني، أو تعاطفوا معنا هم من جمهور «الجماعة الإسلامية»، يُمكن أن يكون هناك أفرادٌ وأشخاص بصفة محددة، وبصفة شخصية، وعلى كل الأحوال، نحن نتكامل فيما بيننا، ولا نتعارض، وجهدنا في المسجد لا يأخذ طابع التنظيم الحزبي، ولذلك لا أجد أن جهدنا يتعارض مع إخواننا في الجماعة الإسلامية»..
أما بشأن القوى التي أيدته في بعض مواقفه أو تحركاته، فيشير الداعية الأسير إلى «أن العلاقة جيدة مع «جمعية الاستجابة»، والجو السلفي في منطقة صيدا، وكذلك مع «حزب التحرير»، على الرغم من التباين في بعض الأداء».
لا جناح سياسياً ولا عسكرياً
الشاب الصيداوي يبدي كل الحرص على أن تكون علاقته جيدة مع جميع الأطراف، حتى من يُخالفه في السياسة، ويشير إلى أنه «لا يوجد تواصل حالياً مع (رئيس «التنظيم الشعبي الناصري») الدكتور أسامة سعد، بعدما كنت قد تبادلت وإياه الزيارات».. فيما يعترف بأنه «بيننا وبين الدكتور عبدالرحمن البزري زيارات متبادلة بين الحين والآخر».
ويلمح إلى أنه «لم ألتقِ منذ فترة طويلة جداً بالقاضي الشيخ أحمد الزين».. بينما يجزم بأنه «ليس هناك علاقة بيننا مع (إمام «مسجد القدس» في صيدا) الشيخ ماهر حمود، خصوصاً بعد التصريح الذي أدلى به إلى إحدى القنوات الفضائية، وقال بأنني أتقاضى أموالاً من قطر والسعودية».
ولا يعلق بأي كلام حول العلاقة مع «تيار الفجر» في صيدا.
ويستنكر الأحداث التي وقعت في مدينة صيدا ومنها التي ذهب ضحيتها الصيرفي الصيداوي محمد الناتوت «أبو مازن»، مطالباً الدولة «أن تضرب بيد من حديد على كل من تخول له نفسه المساس بالأمن، وأن تُفعل الأجهزة الأمنية دورها الميداني على الأرض، وكذلك الشرطة البلدية من أجل إدخال الطمأنينة إلى قلوب الناس في صيدا، فأهلها طيبون».
ويشدد أنه «لا يجوز شرعاً القيام بأي عمل أمني، وأنه ضد أي عمل مسلح داخل لبنان، خارج إطار الدولة اللبنانية، حتى وأنه لا يجوز شرعاً استهداف محلات بيع الخمور، وكنت أدخل إليها لحث روادها على الالتزام بالتعاليم الإسلامية التي تنهى عن الفحشاء والمنكر».
وعن العلاقة مع الفنان فضل شاكر واقتناعه ومناصرته للشيخ الأسير، يرى «أن هذا يدل على أن دعوتنا هي الأساس، فهو تأثر بدعوتنا قبل أحداث سوريا، وكان يتردد لسماع خطب الجمعة والصلاة، وبفضل الله عز وجل اقتنع بخطبتنا ودعوتنا وأخذ بها». ويشير إلى أنه «وفق ما سمعته منه أنه يريد أن يترك الفن ويسعى إلى إيجاد بديل عنه، لأن عليه مسؤولية عائلية كبيرة، وأعتقد أنه يسعى كما علمت بالتركيز على الأناشيد والمدائح والأغاني الثورية، وما شابه ذلك, ونسأل الله عز وجل له بالنجاح».
ويوضح «إن أي نشاط أقوم به هو فقط من خلال «جمعية مسجد بلال بن رباح» في منطقة عبرا – صيدا»، نافياً النية «إقامة مشاريع، سواء في الجنوب أو إقليم الخروب أو البقاع أو الشمال، ولكن هناك مشروع لإقامة مجمع ثقافي يتضمن مسجداً ومدرسة نموذجية على عقار في جادة نبيه بري في حارة صيدا، نسعى لبناء هذا المجمع لحاجتنا إليه هنا في هذه المنطقة، من أجل تعميم فكرة بناء أعمال المساجد، وليس هناك أي مشروع آخر، لا في المغيرية – كما يُقال – أو في أي مكان آخر».
ولأن كل حركة لا بد أن يكون لها جناح سياسي وآخر عسكري، يرد الشيخ الأسير على ذلك بالقول: «لا أريد لعملنا الدعوي أن يأخذ إطاراً حزبياً وتنظيمياً، فنحن لسنا بهذا الوارد، وبالتالي ليس هناك جناح سياسي، ولن يكون هناك بالتأكيد جناح عسكري، لأنني ضد التسلح في لبنان».
وينفي نيته «خوض الانتخابات النيابية أو الوصول إلى مراكز ومناصب سياسية، أو حتى دينية»، ولا أدعم أحداً لمثل ذلك، حتى الذين يتعاطفون معنا، ومع مواقفنا، ومع دعوتنا، وهم كثر في الشارع الإسلامي، وحتى من شرائح الشارع المسيحي، فلست بصدد التنسيق مع من يتعاطف معنا لخوض الانتخابات أو الوصول إلى مراكز وما شابه، وإذا ما كان هناك من يُقدم نفسه لأي مركز، فيكون ذلك بصفة شخصية وليس مدعوماً منا».
الداعية، الذي يؤكد «أن القضية الفلسطينية هي في الأولويات»، يرى «أنها القضية المركزية، ويجب أن نقدم ما يُمكن في سبيل نصرتها، وهناك ظلم كبير يقع على إخواننا في المخيمات الفلسطينية، وفي كل المناطق اللبنانية، أطالب دائماً بأن يُعطوا حقوقهم الإنسانية بالدرجة الأولى، فمن يدخل المخيمات يُدرك تماماً أن الإخوة الفلسطينيين يعيشون حياة لا نقبل بها ونرفضها، ومن يتهم المخيمات بأنها «بؤراً أمنية» تُصدر «الإرهاب»، عليه أن يسأل نفسه، ماذا قدم لهذه المخيمات من مساعدات إنسانية واجتماعية وعلمية وما شابه».
الشيخ، الذي كان يزور المخيم سابقاً مراراً، يعترف بأنه مقصرٌ في ذلك «بسبب انشغالي الكبير بالدعوة»، ويوضح «أن العلاقة مع (مسؤول «الحركة الإسلامية المجاهدة» وإمام «مسجد النور» في المخيم) الشيخ جمال خطاب و»عصبة الأنصار الإسلامية « والقوى والأفرقاء داخل المخيم، بسيطة جداً بسبب انشغالي بالدعوة».
الجيش وعين الحلوة
وخلافاً للتأويلات حول تصريحه بشأن واقع مخيم عين الحلوة، فإنه يؤكد «أن الجيش اللبناني هو الضامن للأمن والاستقرار والسلم الأهلي، وندين أي استهدافٍ له، ومن أي كان، ومن حق الجيش اتخاذ كل الإجراءات اللازمة للحفاظ على أمن البلد، وأنا مع بسط سلطة الدولة اللبنانية على كامل أراضيها، بما فيها الضاحية الجنوبية والمخيمات، مع ضمان الحفاظ على تسهيل حياة الإخوة الفلسطينيين، وعدم التعرض لكراماتهم».
ولا يعلق حول ما سُمي بـ «الخلية التكفيرية»، بل يُطالب قيادة الجيش «ببيان توضيحي بشأنها، والذي لم يصدر حتى الآن»، ويشجب ويستنكر «كل التصريحات التي تدعو إلى أن يكون هناك نهر بارد ثانٍ وثالث في المخيم من أجل مطلوب للعدالة».
ويبدي الشيخ الأسير ارتياحه، إلى أن حركته تجاوزت الشارع السني والإسلامي تحديداً، إلى الشريك المسيحي، «التعاطف الذي لمسته من شركائنا في لبنان، من مسيحيين وطوائف عديدة، كان جيداً لأنهم يحكمون على الخطاب والموقف، وهو ما جعلهم يتعاطفون معنا».
ويتابع: «علاقتي جيدة جداُ مع المسيحيين، فأنا أقيم في بلدة مسيحية، هي شواليق (قضاء جزين)، وجيراني مسيحيون وعلاقتي بهم جيدة جداً، كما زرت راعي أبرشية صيدا ودير القمر لطائفة الروم الملكيين الكاثوليك المطران إلياس الحداد، وتداولنا في عدة قضايا، منها العلاقة الإسلامية – المسيحية، وأحرص على أن تكون لدي علاقة جيدة مع كل الطوائف والمذاهب».
ويعترف بأنه «مشغول ومضغوط جداً، وفوق التصور، وهذا الذي يحول دون المشاركة في كل المناسبات، حتى واجبي تجاه عائلتي وأمي وأولادي لا أقوم به كما ينبغي».
ويُفضل أن يُقال عن حركته أو تحركه «عمل «الدعوي»، أو الداعية الشيخ أحمد الأسير فقط»، مع تأكيده أنه «لست بصدد تأليف جماعة، أو تيار، أو حزب، فلا أحب تسميات الحالة «الأسيرية»، أو الظاهرة «الأسيرية»، أو الحركة «الأسيرية»، فأرفض كل هذه التسميات».
ولأنه يُقدم نفسه على أنه من الداعين والعاملين في العمل الدعوي، لماذا لا يبدأ بالساحة السنية الصيداوية، فيجيب عن ذلك الشيخ الأسير: «إن المواضيع التي أُقاربها تُسمى سياسية، ولكن هي تحت عنوان «رفع الظلم»، أما المسائل الأخرى، فقد تحتاج إلى جهد كبير، وربما لا أكون أهلاً لها في هذه المرحلة الآن»..
(الحلقة الثانية بعد غد الجمعة)
{ ليحدّدوا
أين التطرّف
في مواقفي وخطابي حتى أتوب عنه..!

مع انتشار الجيش في الضاحية الجنوبية
وحول المخيمات الفلسطينية…

نُطالب الجهات المعنية بتوضيح مسألة
«الخلية التكفيرية» في المؤسسة العسكرية

علاقتي جيدة بالفاعليات الصيداوية
باستثناء أسامة سعد وماهر حمود

من هو الشيخ
أحمد الأسير؟
{ الشيخ أحمد الأسير: مواليد صيدا 1968.
– والده هلال الأسير، مطرب سابقاً.
– والدته شيعية من آل حاجو من منطقة صور.
– تخصص في الإلكترونيك في الخامسة عشر من عمره.
– في السادسة عشرة التزم دينياً، ثم التحق في «الجماعة الإسلامية» – صيدا.
– حاول التأسيس لعمل الدعوة – التبليغ في صيدا والجنوب.
– لدى تأسيس «مسجد بلال بن رباح» في العام 1997، ركز على عمل المسجد والدعوة والتعليم والتعلم.
– درس في «كلية الشريعة» التابعة لـ «دار الفتوى الإسلامية» في بيروت، ونال منها «ليسانس» في علوم الشريعة، وحاز على موافقة لرسالة «ماجستير» في الفقه المقارن، ولكن لم يُقدم البحث لانشغالاته اليومية.
– يُذكر في صيدا أن جد الشيخ أحمد الأسير، هو يوسف بن عبدالقادر بن محمد الحسيني. أما لقب «الأسير» فقد اشتهرت به العائلة، لأن أحد أجداده أسره «الفرنجة» في مالطا، ولما عاد إلى صيدا عُرف بين أهلها باسم «الأسير».

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Lenni Brenner: Cancer Schmancer!

NOVANEWS
Here’s Lenni Brenner in a recent interview:

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Americans Rabbis support church divestment from Zionist occupation

NOVANEWS

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Mustafa Barghouti stable after being struck in head at Qalandiya

NOVANEWS

Mustafa Barghouti was among 150 Palestinians injured at a Land Day demonstration at Qalandiya checkpoint in occupied Palestine this morning. A leader of the nonviolent movement and former candidate for president, Barghouti said that he was struck in the head by a teargas canister fired by Israeli forces. He spoke from a bed in Ramallah Hospital. He said he was not seriously injured but he is under observation for contusions to his head and back.

“Today is a great day because no one thought we would be able to mobilize thousand of people for nonviolent protest,” said Barghouti, a physician. “This is the peak of the Palestinian nonviolent movement, and it reflects Palestinian unity too.”

An Israeli government claim that Palestinians attacked Barghouti is the “most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Why would any Palestinian attack me? I’m a leader of the Palestinians.”

From IDF spokesperson Avital Leibovich– a stupendous effort to misrepresent the truth:

The info I have regarding Mousteffa Bargoutti injured,is that he was hurt by a Pales,as he was trying to convince youth in #Kalandya to riot

I remind you: Barghouti was at the center of the J Street conference last weekend, soberly, eloquently urging American Jews to do all they can to publicize the nonviolent Palestinian movement.

Hugh Naylor responded to IDF:

I was there. He was attacked by plainclothes pple. His colleagues had no idea who they were. He was not calling for riot

Israelis smashed three ambulances and injured eight Palestinian aid workers, Barghouti said.

Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on Mustafa Barghouti stable after being struck in head at Qalandiya

Dershowitz strikes back — with lies

NOVANEWS
So there was this BDS conference held at Pennsylvania University — one of the Ivy League institutions. Myself, I’m a fence-sitter with regard to Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions — I don’t boycott Israeli products as such (although if I knew that they were made in the occupied territories, I would), while I think that divesting from Israeli companies makes sense only in certain specific cases. I’m more comfortable with the idea of sanctions.

In any case, this BDS event was organized at UPenn and, as might be expected, lots of Israel firsterssupporters rallied to organize counterevents that brought much larger attendances. This is not surprising since BDS is taking its first infant steps in the realm of mainstream discourse.

One of the anti-BDS events was a speech by the ineffable Alan Dershowitz. Under the headline Dershowitz strikes back, the StandWithUs site provides a raving review of the Dersh’s presentation which, as can be predicted, consists basically of a regurgitation of tired Hasbara points. Of a somewhat higher interest is the Q&A, and in particular this exchange with a student:

During the question-and-answer session after the Annenberg presentation, one female student asked, “If an Arab student comes up to me and says, ‘You took my land,’ and I respond, ‘Yeah, but we support gay rights,’ how does that add up?”

Dershowitz said the answer is that the Jews didn’t steal the land.

“The land on which Israel was established had a Jewish majority,” he said. “In Israel’s case, they bought the land, in this case from distant land owners, who lived in Syria and Lebanon. The Israeli policy of the yishuv was never to throw indigenous Arabs off the land.

“Israel’s birth certificate is cleaner than the birth certificate of almost any other modern country in the world,” he added. “Israel was established by law.”

Notice Dershowitz’s goal-shifting. In his last paragraph he seems to suggest that because Israel is cleaner than “almost any other modern country in the world,” an Arab has no right to complain that his land was stolen. It’s, of course, the case of the tax evader who claims he can’t be jailed because other, worse criminals are free.

But to his credit, he does provide an answer to the student’s question: the land was not stolen; the Jews bought it from “distant landowners” in Syria and Lebanon.

There’s no denying that the Jews bought land in Mandate Palestine. But the land? Israel consists of some 22,000 sq km of land. By 1946, a year before the UN partition resolution, land ownership was distributed as follows:

This map was first published in the excellent Palestinian advocacy site PalestineRemembered.com, which in turn obtained the information from this United Nations document from the time.

As can be seen, the Jews didn’t enjoy majoritarian ownership in any district. Quite on the contrary, in most districts of present-day Israel the land was overwhelmingly owned by private Arab citizens, with the Jews coming close (but still lagging behind) only in Haifa and Jaffa. This can be more startingly underlined by seeing a map of the land that the Jews did own:

Thus, the land was not bought from distant landowners. In fact, only about 1,500 sq km (some 6% of present-day Israel) was bought by the Jews. See here for the scanned relevant page of the British report “Survey of Palestine” published prior to the partition plan.

What happened, then, with the Arab-owned land? After some 700,000 Arabs were expelled or fled the 1948 war, their property was confiscated by the 1950 Absentee Property Law, whereby the real estate of those “absent” owners was transfered to a State Custodian, who in turn leased it to the Jews. Here are a few relevant paragraphs from this law:

2. (a) The Minister of Finance shall appoint, by order published in Reshumot, a Custodianship Council for Absentees’ Property, and shall designate one of its members to be the chairman of the Council. The chairman of the Council shall be called the Custodian.

3. (b) The Custodian may appoint agents for the management of held property on his behalf and may fix and pay their remuneration.

4. (a) Subject to the provisions of this Law –
(1) all absentees’ property is hereby vested in the Custodian as from the day of publication of his appointment or the day on which it became absentees’ property, whichever is the later date;
(2), every right an absentee had in any property shall pass automatically to the Custodian at the time of the vesting of the property; and the status of the Custodian shall be the same as was that of the owner of the property.

The emphasized (by me) sentences can’t be described in any other way than the Custodian stealing the Arab owners’ land.

So that no, Mr. Dershowitz, the Jews didn’t buy the land but some land which constituted a very small proportion of present-day Israel; and yes, what the Jews did with Arab-owned property is tantamount to barefaced thievery. And by the way, you’ve just been exposed once again as a straight-faced liar.

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Hana Shalabi’s Hunger Strike has Ended, but not her Punishment

NOVANEWS

 

As with Khader Adnan, Israel  supposedly compromised with Hana Shalabi on the 43rd day of her hunger strike in protest against administrative detention and her abysmal treatment. But Israel’s concept of ‘compromise’ if considered becomes indistinguishable from the imposition of a further ‘vindictive punishment.’  How else to interpret Israel’s unlawful order to coercively exile (not technically deportation because she is being sent to a location within occupied Palestine ) Hana Shalabi for three years to the Gaza Strip , far from her home village of Burqin in the northern part of the West Bank , and more significantly, far from her grief-struck family? Her older sister Zahra was quoted a few days ago as saying “I don’t want to immortalize her, I just want her to live.” We can join her in being relieved that Hana Shalabi did not join the Palestinian honor roll of martyrs, yet to transfer someone who is in critical medical condition to a slightly more open prison than what is experienced as an Israeli detainee, which is how Gaza has been described during its years of isolation and blockade. To call this release ‘freedom’ is to make a mockery of the word, even to call it ‘release’ is misleading.

 

Hana Shalabi is now being compared to Winnie Mandela  who was also exiled to the remote town of Branford in South Africa, forbidden to leave, as a punishment for her nonviolent and militant resistance to the apartheid regime that had imprisoned her then husband, Nelson Mandela. When I had the opportunity to meet and spend time with her in 1968, a couple of years prior to her exile, she was a wonderfully radiant and magnetic personality with a deep political commitment to justice and emancipation from racism, yet a joyful presence who despite living under apartheid, was life-affirming and inspiring.

When she returned from exile, she was radicalized, embittered, joined in some violent oppositional tactics, seemingly exhibiting the alienating impact of the punitive effort by the South African government to diminish and marginalize her. This part of Winnie Mandela’s post-exile story should not be forgotten, nor should it ignored that she was not exiled when confronting the sort of life-threatening situation that Hana Shalabi faces as she seeks to recover from this long hunger strike. Also, at least, Winnie Mandela’s youngest daughter, Zinzi, was allowed to accompany her, which was at least made an exception to the total separation from loved ones that has been decreed for Hana Shalabi, who in her current condition cannot even be considered a ‘political’ threat, much less a ‘security’ threat. Israel has compounded the crime of administrative detention with this shamefully gratuitous act of vindictiveness.

 

Article 49(1) of the Fourth Geneva Convention  reads as follows: “Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.” The intent here is clear, even though the language leave room for lawyers’ quibbles: is the Gaza Strip another country? Israel itself claims that its 2005 disengagement from Gaza relieves it of responsibility. In any event, Israel’s order of banishment will be doubly enforced, neither allowing Hana Shalabi to leave Gaza nor to enter the West Bank where her family lives.

As well, given mobility restrictions her family will not be able to visit her in Gaza. Finally, it should be appreciated that this is a form of ‘collective punishment’ as it also adds to the pain and grief of Hana Shalabi’s family who will be denied even the opportunity to provide help and love that are obviously needed during what will be at best a long and difficult recovery period. In this sense, the spirit and letter of Article 27 of Geneva IV has also been violated in her arrest, detention, and now in this release: “Protected persons are entitled, in all circumstances, to respect for their persons, their honour, their family rights, their religious conviction and practices, and their manners and customs.

They shall at all times be humanely treated, and shall be protected especially against all acts of violence or threats thereof and against insults and public curiosity.” Denying Hana Shalabi’s any visitation rights while confided to an Israeli prison hospital prior to the time her order of ‘deportation’ is implemented, as well as denying the Physicians for Human Rights-Israel  or Addameer the opportunity to examine and talk with her underscores the stone coldness of the Israeli prison administration.

 

It is up to the Palestinian solidarity movement to not let this experience of Palestinian hunger strikes be in vain. At best, it might be later seen as one of the earlier expressions of a Palestinian Spring. At the very least, it should become a key moment in an intensifying campaign against the practice of administrative detention in Occupied Palestine, as well as against abusive arrest procedures and general prison conditions that are habitually relied upon by Israeli military authorities.

 

Finally, this ambiguous punitive release of Hana Shalabi was apparently agreed upon not only on the 43rd day of her hunger strike, but on the eve of the 36th commemoration of Land Day  by Palestinian activists within Israel and in Occupied Palestine. It is important for all of us to recall that it was on this day in 1976 that Israel killed six Palestinian citizens of Israel who were protesting, in violation of a curfew then in effect, Israel’s expropriation of their land. The protests on Land Day 2012, especially near the Qalandiya Checkpoint have been met with tear gas, rubber bullets, and water cannon, apparently with some Palestinian injuries. Two Palestinian activists, Sam Bahour  and Jafar Farah, living in the West Bank summarized the situation with these words:  “After the Arab revolutions, there’s awareness of the importance of popular participation. This has rattled the Arab regimes, and now it’s frightening the Israeli government.”

 

It does appear that these hunger strikes, augmented by sympathetic and symbolic strikes within Israeli jails, in Palestine, and around the world, as well as vibrant protests on Land Day, and a worldwide BDS movement are all signs of a Palestinian reawakening that will gather political leverage as its momentum builds. This is my hope for the year ahead. 

  

The End of Hana Shalabi’s Hunger Strike  

As with Khader Adnan, Israel supposedly compromised with Hana Shalabi on the 43rd day of her hunger strike in protest against administrative detention and her abysmal treatment. But Israel’s concept of ‘compromise’ if considered becomes indistinguishable from the imposition of a further ‘vindictive punishment.’  How else to interpret Israel’s unlawful order to coercively exile (not technically deportation because she is being sent to a location within occupied Palestine) Hana Shalabi for three years to the Gaza Strip, far from her home village of Burqin in the northern part of the West Bank, and more significantly, far from her grief-struck family? Her older sister Zahra was quoted a few days ago as saying “I don’t want to immortalize her, I just want her to live.” We can join her in being relieved that Hana Shalabi did not join the Palestinian honor roll of martyrs, yet to transfer someone who is in critical medical condition to a slightly more open prison than what is experienced as an Israeli detainee, which is how Gaza has been described during its years of isolation and blockade. To call this release ‘freedom’ is to make a mockery of the word, even to call it ‘release’ is misleading.

 

Hana Shalabi is now being compared to Winnie Mandela who was also exiled to the remote town of Branford in South Africa, forbidden to leave, as a punishment for her nonviolent and militant resistance to the apartheid regime that had imprisoned her then husband, Nelson Mandela. When I had the opportunity to meet and spend time with her in 1968, a couple of years prior to her exile, she was a wonderfully radiant and magnetic personality with a deep political commitment to justice and emancipation from racism, yet a joyful presence who despite living under apartheid, was life-affirming and inspiring. When she returned from exile, she was radicalized, embittered, joined in some violent oppositional tactics, seemingly exhibiting the alienating impact of the punitive effort by the South African government to diminish and marginalize her.

This part of Winnie Mandela’s post-exile story should not be forgotten, nor should it ignored that she was not exiled when confronting the sort of life-threatening situation that Hana Shalabi faces as she seeks to recover from this long hunger strike. Also, at least, Winnie Mandela’s youngest daughter, Zinzi, was allowed to accompany her, which was at least made an exception to the total separation from loved ones that has been decreed for Hana Shalabi, who in her current condition cannot even be considered a ‘political’ threat, much less a ‘security’ threat. Israel has compounded the crime of administrative detention with this shamefully gratuitous act of vindictiveness.

 

Article 49(1) of the Fourth Geneva Convention reads as follows: “Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.” The intent here is clear, even though the language leave room for lawyers’ quibbles: is the Gaza Strip another country? Israel itself claims that its 2005 disengagement from Gaza relieves it of responsibility.

In any event, Israel’s order of banishment will be doubly enforced, neither allowing Hana Shalabi to leave Gaza nor to enter the West Bank where her family lives. As well, given mobility restrictions her family will not be able to visit her in Gaza. Finally, it should be appreciated that this is a form of ‘collective punishment’ as it also adds to the pain and grief of Hana Shalabi’s family who will be denied even the opportunity to provide help and love that are obviously needed during what will be at best a long and difficult recovery period.

In this sense, the spirit and letter of Article 27 of Geneva IV has also been violated in her arrest, detention, and now in this release: “Protected persons are entitled, in all circumstances, to respect for their persons, their honour, their family rights, their religious conviction and practices, and their manners and customs. They shall at all times be humanely treated, and shall be protected especially against all acts of violence or threats thereof and against insults and public curiosity.” Denying Hana Shalabi’s any visitation rights while confided to an Israeli prison hospital prior to the time her order of ‘deportation’ is implemented, as well as denying the Physicians for Human Rights-Israel or Addameer the opportunity to examine and talk with her underscores the stone coldness of the Israeli prison administration.

 

            It is up to the Palestinian solidarity movement to not let this experience of Palestinian hunger strikes be in vain. At best, it might be later seen as one of the earlier expressions of a Palestinian Spring. At the very least, it should become a key moment in an intensifying campaign against the practice of administrative detention in Occupied Palestine, as well as against abusive arrest procedures and general prison conditions that are habitually relied upon by Israeli military authorities.

 

            Finally, this ambiguous punitive release of Hana Shalabi was apparently agreed upon not only on the 43rd day of her hunger strike, but on the eve of the 36th commemoration of Land Day by Palestinian activists within Israel and in Occupied Palestine. It is important for all of us to recall that it was on this day in 1976 that Israel killed six Palestinian citizens of Israel who were protesting, in violation of a curfew then in effect, Israel’s expropriation of their land. The protests on Land Day 2012, especially near the Qalandiya Checkpoint have been met with tear gas, rubber bullets, and water cannon, apparently with some Palestinian injuries. Two Palestinian activists, Sam Bahour and Jafar Farah, living in the West Bank summarized the situation with these words:  “After the Arab revolutions, there’s awareness of the importance of popular participation. This has rattled the Arab regimes, and now it’s frightening the Israeli government.”

 

            It does appear that these hunger strikes, augmented by sympathetic and symbolic strikes within Israeli jails, in Palestine, and around the world, as well as vibrant protests on Land Day, and a worldwide BDS movement are all signs of a Palestinian reawakening that will gather political leverage as its momentum builds. This is my hope for the year ahead. 

  

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Obama Told Pakistan: US ‘Not Ready’ to Stop Drone Strikes

NOVANEWS

‘No Flexibility’ In Talks

by Jason Ditz

The highly anticipated meeting between President Obama and Pakistani Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani, potentially the last one before Gilani is jailed for contempt of court, was longer than initially scheduled, according to officials familiar with it, and centered on drone strikes.

The discussion saw Gilani reiteratin gparliament’s demand that the US halt all its drone strikes against Pakistan, and Obama insisting that the US is “not ready” to do that, and that the strikes will eventually “be helpful in eliminating terror.”

Obama, as expected, was more interested in securing a final deal on reopening the border to Afghanistan for military supplies. Gilani is said to have told Obama that there was no chance for a secret deal and that the drone demand remained.

The US has been pushing for a return to the situation before US warplanes attacked a pair of Pakistani military bases in late November. Massive anti-US protests in Pakistan have the civilian leadership convinced they can no longer give the US a free rein to operate.

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Baluchistan separatists in Pakistan beset by divisions

NOVANEWS
Insurgents in BaluchistanInsurgents in Baluchistan plan and mount ambushes against Pakistani paramilitary forces from makeshift bunkers that blend in perfectly with the rugged terrain of the western Pakistani province, site of an increasingly violent, eight-year nationalist rebellion. | Tom Hussain / MCT

Pakistan's Baluchistan province
Tom Hussain | McClatchy Newspapers

LASBELA, Pakistan — The insurgents’ presence is obvious in the mountains and ravines of Pakistan’s western Baluchistan province, where hilltops are fortified with slabs of rock to serve as secure lookout posts for snipers.

From there, they observe the comings and goings of potential threats — mainly Pakistani paramilitary forces — and plot attacks from the thorny brush along the isolated roads. Pointing to footprints in the sand marking the insurgents’ path through the brush, the Baluch activists in this farming district on the periphery of an eight-year nationalist rebellion said that ambushes are common here because the prey have nowhere to run.

Baluchistan — a vast wilderness bordering Afghanistan and Iran — has become the chaotic battleground for cloak-and-dagger conflict between Pakistan’s military intelligence services and nine insurgent groups. But activists, insurgents and political analysts say that the festering insurgency lacks the political direction and momentum of a coherent independence movement, thwarting chances for a swift resolution to a conflict that’s become increasingly deadly.

Violence spiked in Baluchistan last year, when 621 people died in insurgency-related violence, including 231 people who were kidnapped and later found dead, human rights groups have reported.

The conflict briefly attracted the attention of Congress in February, when Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, the California Republican who chairs the oversight subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, voiced support for an independent Baluchistan, citing allegations of widespread human rights abuses by Pakistani security authorities.

Islamabad, which flatly denies any abuses in Baluchistan, reacted angrily, and Rohrabacher’s call was quickly disowned by the Obama administration. The White House has no interest in further straining ties with the Pakistani government, whose help is considered key to ending the war in neighboring Afghanistan.

Indeed, Baluch separatists have little backing from the outside world. Neither neighboring Afghanistan nor Iran has any interest in fueling the insurgency, analysts said.

The conflict largely has been an internal tussle between powerful tribal chiefs and the Pakistani government for control of Baluchistan’s natural resources, particularly natural gas. Since the 1960s, the Baluch have watched as gas produced here — some 36 percent of Pakistan’s total supply — is transported by pipeline to the rest of the country while their own province remains Pakistan’s least developed.

“Gas, electricity, water — we are fighting for control of these resources,” said Amir, a Baloch activist who asked that his full name be withheld to shield him from reprisals.

However, activists and analysts said the insurgent groups in Baluchistan lack the manpower and armed capability — and arguably even the ambition — to mount a fight to the end against Pakistan’s powerful military.

Direct confrontations between the insurgents and army-led paramilitary forces of the Frontier Corps are relatively infrequent, they said. Rebel ambushes of paramilitary convoys and posts have tended to be in revenge for kidnap, torture and murder incidents allegedly carried out by the military’s intelligence services.

Mostly, the insurgents have specialized in sabotage, repeatedly blowing up sections of the pipelines carrying natural gas from fields in Baluchistan and the railway lines that link it to the rest of Pakistan.

Various insurgent faction leaders living in exile in Britain, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates also have been reluctant to form a united political platform, although they loosely share independence as their stated objective.

The analysts said the political incoherence of the insurgency was a direct reflection of Baluch culture, with most fighters restricted to territory defined by their leader’s tribal identity.

“Different armed groups operate in various districts and they do not interfere in each other’s areas of operation,” said Malik Siraj Akbar, editor-in-chief of The Baluch Hal, an English-language news website covering Baluchistan.

 

The website was blocked by the Pakistani authorities in 2010 and Akbar, a respected columnist in Pakistan’s mainstream press, sought political asylum in the U.S. after repeatedly being threatened, allegedly by intelligence agents.

Increasingly, the tribal chiefs leading the insurgency are under pressure from younger, educated activists to unite on a single platform.

In February, Hyrbyair Marri, an exiled insurgent leader based in Geneva, traveled to Britain to meet separately with another exiled leader, Barambagh Bugti, grandson of the late Akbar Bugti — a rebel tribal chief whose death during a Pakistani army operation in 2006 sparked the current uprising — and Mir Suleman Dawood, the Khan of Kalat, who’s the most important tribal chief.

The initiative amounted to nothing — inflating suspicions among Pakistani analysts that the tribal leaders of the Baluch insurgency, rather than agitating collectively for independence, are preoccupied with obtaining greater power and royalties for themselves.

The poverty of the Baluch, the analysts argue, is largely attributable to the feudal powers wielded by tribal chiefs. They also practice a harsh and often arbitrary form of justice that includes the forced exile of erring clans and, infamously, the determination of a suspect’s guilt by making them walk on red-hot coals — no blisters means innocent, blisters means guilty.

In Lasbela, concrete-walled canals carrying water from the hills are owned and used exclusively by the local chiefs to irrigate their farms. The chiefs were also the sole local beneficiaries of quarries that provide building materials — from marble to crushed sandstone — to the booming Karachi construction market.

The loosely joined independence effort masks the intense rivalries between the tribal chiefs and fears that if Baluchistan were to gain autonomy, it would implode into civil war as the chiefs jockeyed for political and economic supremacy.

“The timing of the movement is all wrong. None of the regional powers is really interested in seeing an independent Baluchistan and, without reliable supply lines from a neighboring state, no insurgency can succeed,” said Mujahid Barelvi, a political commentator and TV talk-show host based in Karachi.

Nonetheless, Baluchistan recently has raced to the top of Pakistan’s domestic political agenda. Politicians and the Supreme Court have expressed concern that the alleged human rights abuses by the military intelligence agencies have created a “1971-like situation” — a reference to the civil war that led to the secession of Bangladesh, after India militarily intervened to support a popular separatist movement.

Pakistan’s military denies any direct involvement in the counterinsurgency operation, but the province’s chief minister and governor have consistently complained that the military has seized most political, administrative and policing powers. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani recently endorsed that view, saying the military intelligence agencies “ought to respect the mandate of the provincial government.”

In Lasbela, an hour’s drive west of Karachi, the locals — farmhands, mostly — were unnerved by the presence of an outsider and brushed off interview requests. While the rebellion also recently has attracted middle-class Baluch, such as human rights workers, students and writers, their attempts at peaceful agitation have been met with violent suppression, allegedly by the military’s intelligence operatives.

“Actions by Pakistani security forces have radicalized even moderate Baluch activists and citizens,” said Akbar, the website editor. “There are no peaceable Baluch left.”

 

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Afghanistan: Hundreds of Women, Girls Jailed for ‘Moral Crimes’

NOVANEWS

Government Should Target Abusers, Not Victims

  • A prisoner covers her face while sitting outside a room that she shares with 15 other women prisoners in March 2010. Women in Afghanistan face serious barriers to obtaining custody of their children in the event of a divorce. Several women told Human Rights Watch that when they left prison they would have to choose between returning to an abusive husband with custody of their children or never seeing their children again. Most planned to return to their husbands.
    © 2010 Farzana Wahidy
It is shocking that 10 years after the overthrow of the Taliban, women and girls are still imprisoned for running away from domestic violence or forced marriage. No one should be locked up for fleeing a dangerous situation even if it’s at home. President Karzai and Afghanistan’s allies should act decisively to end this abusive and discriminatory practice.
Kenneth Roth, executive director

(Kabul) – The Afghan government should release the approximately 400 women and girls imprisoned in Afghanistan for “moral crimes,” Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today. The United States and other donor countries should press the Afghan government under President Hamid Karzai to end the wrongful imprisonment of women and girls who are crime victims rather than criminals.

The 120-page report“‘I Had to Run Away’: Women and Girls Imprisoned for ‘Moral Crimes’ in Afghanistan,” is based on 58 interviews conducted in three prisons and three juvenile detention facilities with women and girls accused of “moral crimes.” Almost all girls in juvenile detention in Afghanistan had been arrested for “moral crimes,” while about half of women in Afghan prisons were arrested on these charges. These “crimes” usually involve flight from unlawful forced marriage or domestic violence. Some women and girls have been convicted of zina, sex outside of marriage, after being raped or forced into prostitution.

“It is shocking that 10 years after the overthrow of the Taliban, women and girls are still imprisoned for running away from domestic violence or forced marriage,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “No one should be locked up for fleeing a dangerous situation even if it’s at home. President Karzai and Afghanistan’s allies should act decisively to end this abusive and discriminatory practice.”

The fall of the Taliban government in 2001 promised a new era of women’s rights. Significant improvements have occurred in education, maternal mortality, employment, and the role of women in public life and governance. Yet the imprisonment of women and girls for “moral crimes” is just one sign of the difficult present and worrying future faced by Afghan women and girls as the international community moves to decrease substantially its commitments in Afghanistan.

Human Rights Watch interviewed many girls who had been arrested after they fled a forced marriage and women who had fled abusive husbands and relatives. Some women interviewed by Human Rights Watch had gone to the police in dire need of help, only to be arrested instead.

“Running away,” or fleeing home without permission, is not a crime under the Afghan criminal code, but the Afghan Supreme Court has instructed its judges to treat women and girls who flee as criminals.Zina is a crime under Afghan law, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Women and girls interviewed by Human Rights Watch described abuses including forced and underage marriage, beatings, stabbings, burnings, rapes, forced prostitution, kidnapping, and murder threats. Virtually none of the cases had led even to an investigation of the abuse, let alone prosecution or punishment.

One woman, Parwana S. (not her real name), 19, told Human Rights Watch how she was convicted of “running away” after fleeing a husband and mother-in-law who beat her: “I will try to become independent and divorce him. I hate the word ‘husband.’ My liver is totally black from my husband… If I knew about prison and everything [that would happen to me] I would have just jumped into the river and committed suicide.”

Human Rights Watch said that women and girls accused of “moral crimes” face a justice system stacked against them at every stage. Police arrest them solely on a complaint of a husband or relative. Prosecutors ignore evidence that supports women’s assertions of innocence. Judges often convict solely on the basis of “confessions” given in the absence of lawyers and “signed” without having been read to women who cannot read or write. After conviction, women routinely face long prison sentences, in some cases more than 10 years.

Afghanistan’s 2009 Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women makes violence against women a criminal offense. But the same police, prosecutors, and judges who work zealously to lock up women accused of “moral crimes” often ignore evidence of abuse against the accused women, Human Rights Watch said.

“Courts send women to prison for dubious ‘crimes’ while the real criminals – their abusers –walk free,” Roth said. “Even the most horrific abuses suffered by women seem to elicit nothing more than a shrug from prosecutors, despite laws criminalizing violence against women.”

Abusive prosecution of “moral crimes” is important to far more than the approximately 400 women and girls in prison or pretrial detention, Human Rights Watch said. Every time a woman or girl flees a forced marriage or domestic violence only to end up behind bars, it sends a clear message to others enduring abuse that seeking help from the government is likely to result in punishment, not rescue.

The plight of women facing domestic violence is made still worse by archaic divorce laws that permit a man simply to declare himself divorced, while making it extremely difficult for a woman to obtain a divorce, Human Rights Watch said. The Afghan government made a commitment to reform these laws in 2007 under its National Action Plan for Women in Afghanistan, and a committee of experts drafted a new Family Law that would improve the rights of women. This new law, however, has been on hold with the government since 2010, with no sign of movement toward passage.

“It is long past time for Afghanistan to act on its promises to overhaul laws that make Afghan women second-class citizens,” Roth said. “Laws that force women to endure abuse by denying them the right to divorce are not only outdated but cruel.”

By maintaining discriminatory laws on the books, and by failing to address due process and fair trial violations in “moral crimes” cases, Afghanistan is in violation of its obligations under international human rights law. United Nations expert bodies and special rapporteurs have called for the repeal of Afghanistan’s “moral crimes” laws. The UN special rapporteur on violence against women has called on Afghanistan to “abolish laws, including those related to zina, that discriminate against women and girls and lead to their imprisonment and cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment.” The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has urged Afghanistan to “[r]emove so-called moral offences as a crime and release children detained on this basis.”

“The Afghan government and its international partners should act urgently to protect women’s rights and to ensure there is no backsliding,” Roth said. “President Karzai, the United States, and others should finally make good on the bold promises they made to Afghan women a decade ago by ending imprisonment for ‘moral crimes,’ and actually implementing their stated commitment to support women’s rights.”

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WESTERN PSY-OPS AGAINST SYRIA: When Mrs Assad’s “Shopping” Becomes a “Crime Against Humanity”

NOVANEWS
By Finian Cunningham
Global Research,

Michelle Obama, the fashion style icon wife of US President Obama, is to have travel sanctions imposed on her by member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, including Russia, China and SCO associate state Iran.

Mrs Obama’s annual six-figure budget for designer clothes and accessories is seen as an affront to moral decency at a time when her husband is overseeing foreign wars of aggression, mass murder in several territories using aerial drones, and ordering the assassination of individuals such as nuclear scientists in Iran.

The equally fashionista-conscious wives of British and French premiers, David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy, are also reportedly lined up for sanctions in several Middle East and Central Asian countries owing to these leaders supporting the illegal and murderous US-led NATO bombing campaign on Libya.

By now, the reader will have spotted the above “report” to be a spoof.

However, when it comes to the real world, the European Union is applying such unprecedented measures against the wife of Syria’s President Bashar Al Assad.

“EU slaps Sanctions on Assad’s Wife,” read several newspaper headlines after Europe’s foreign ministers banned British born Asma Assad from traveling to EU states, and ordered the freezing of her personal assets.

Describing the 36-year-old Syrian First Lady as stylish, glamorous, even sexy, the combined lurid portrayal was aimed at presenting Mrs Assad as an insensitive bimbo in the face of her country’s ongoing violence and misery.

Asma Al Assad

Samantha Cameron and Michelle Obama

Carla Bruni, Shimon Peres and Nicolas Sarkozy

The Washington Post called her Syria’s Marie Antoinette, alleging that “while bloodshed continues, she shops for crystal-encrusted shoes”.

Despite the defamatory wording in the mainstream media written as if it were factual, it turns out that the hype about Mrs Assad, is based on “a trove” of emails obtained by the British Guardian newspaper allegedly from the private correspondence of the Assad family. Even the Guardian puts in a disclaimer about the veracity of the emails, which it says were supplied by “Syrian oppositionists”. There is more than a fair chance that the emails are bogus and forged by intelligence groups well-versed in the black arts of slander, such as MI6.

Suspicions are raised even further when such banal, personal matters such as a woman’s alleged internet shopping habits become the subject of foreign ministerial diplomacy.

British-born Mrs Assad is reputed to have splurged more than 40,000 euro on household and fashion items. Following the EU sanctions, which came into effect at the weekend, British foreign minister William Hague said: “It’s a sign of the determination of all the nations of the European Union and of the European Union as a whole to intensify the pressure, the diplomatic and economic stranglehold on this regime.”

Meanwhile, France’s foreign affairs minister Alain Juppé commented: “We had a certain number of indications — I am sure it has not escaped you — how the wife of president Assad uses her money. It is perhaps this that pushed us to toughen the sanctions.” Juppé’s concern with financial probity is particularly rich given that he was convicted in 2004 by a French court of “abusing public funds” and sentenced to an 18-month suspended jail term.

When one newspaper’s highlighting of a dodgy dossier of emails is regurgitated by all and sundry in the mainstream media, including so-called quality titles, and when that dodgy dossier forms the basis for EU ministerial sanctions, then there is the unmistakable whiff of a psy-ops job.

This is all the more so perceptible given that the Western governments and the slavish mainstream media have spent the most part of a year grossly distorting the reality of violence and conflict in Syria, with a view to destabilizing the alliance between Damascus and Tehran. President Bashar Al-Assad has been relentlessly accused of “butchering” his own people, despite growing evidence that his government’s forces are more accurately acting to protect the civilian population from terrorist groups armed and directed by the US, Britain, France, Israel, Turkey and the Al Qaeda-affiliated Gulf monarchies.

The Western campaign of demonizing the government of Syria has now been extended somewhat ludicrously to portraying Mrs Assad as a “callous shopaholic” who must be banned from the High Streets of all decent, law-abiding civilizations.

The irony is that the derisory cynical move by the European Union should actually be applied against known war criminals. There is ample evidence to convict past and present American and European leaders of war crimes and crimes against humanity regarding military aggression in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and ongoing towards Iran.

On the basis of legal and criminal facts, sanctions against Michelle Obama, Samantha Cameron and Carla Bruni make far greater sense.

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