Archive | November 28th, 2015

Trump’s Claim of Celebrating Muslims must be from imaginary footage

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Mahmoud El-Yousseph
 
Donald Trump is a liar or ignorant or both. His latest publicity stunt was his false claim about 1000s of Muslims celebrating the 9/11 terrorist attack in New Jersey. A claim that has been repeatedly denied by US government officials and major news networks. As of now Trump refuses to retract his false allegation and or apologize for his naked lie.
Shortly after, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said on Twitter that Trump “Has memory issues or willfully distorts the truth, either of which should be concerning for the Republican Party.” In a statement, the Anti-Defamation League called Trump’s claims “Irresponsible and factually challenged.” Jerry Speziale, the Paterson police commissioner, told The Post’s Fact Checker: “That is totally false. That is patently false. That never happened. There were no flags burning, no one was ­dancing.”
Lets me refresh Trump’s selective memories as well as of Dr. Ben Carson, who also backed up Trump’s bizarre claim about the real people who were celebrating the attack on our country and who were caught red handed during the attack with fake passports, tons of explosives, $4,700 cash and box cutter, the same which were used by the alleged 19 hijackers that day. Those people were not here to make a movie! They came here to harm us. They were neither Arabs nor Muslims. They were plain and simple Israeli Jews. While media and public officials get credit for refuting the claim by leading the GOP front runner, no one dared to make a reference about the 5 dancing Israelis. However, as always the case, liars always get caught in the end.
1- It was a five dancing Israelis who were arrested for celebrating the attack, by filming the event, dancing  and giving high fives.
2- Their names were: Sivan Kurzberg, his brother Paul Kurzberg, Yaron Shmeul, Oded Ellner, and Omar Marmari.
3- Their employer: Urban Moving a front for the Mossad spy agency; Israeli Selective Intelligence Service (ISIS).
3 Company owner: Israeli citizen know as Dominick.
4-Time served in New York jail: 71 Days.
5 -Their testimony is regarded as top secret.
6- They were deported overnight to Israel along with over 120 Israeli spies, under the presence of minor visa violations.
7- During the same period, over 1000 Arabs were rounded up and deported for overstaying their visas as a distraction from the 5 dancing Israelis.
8- The FBI added the name of Dominick as a suspect in the 9/11 attacks after he fled to Israel the next day, leaving many valuables behind.
9- No request was made by the Justice Department to have him extradited to the US and or to be questioned by the FBI.
10 – No pictures or names of the 5 dancing Israelis were blasted on the front pages of US newspaper. We only saw 3 of them on an Israeli TV show.
It all began when a neighbor saw several Middle Eastern-looking men on the top of a white moving van. The neighbor then called the police and claimed that men were posing, dancing and laughing, against the background of the burning towers. The men had their camera set on the top of the van and were video recording the  fall of the World Trade Center.
Shortly after, another 911 call came in from a mysterious caller ( presumably from among the 5 dancing Israelis). The caller claimed to have seen a white moving van with Palestinian-looking men inside mixing chemicals and heading toward the Holland Tunnel. Police immediately blocked all tunnel and bridges linking New York to New Jersey. Moments later the police spotted the white moving van at the George Washington Bridge with two passengers and tons of explosions. This was intended to blow up the G.W. Bridge. That explains why the mysterious caller wanted to distract the police. That way they would leave the  explosive-loaded van on the bridge and catch a ride with the second moving van.  But  three of the five Israelis were placed under arrest by the East Ruthford, N.J. police officer Scott DeCarlo.
During the interrogations the five dancing Israelis kept saying, ” We are not your problem, the Palestinians are your problem” and adding “We are here to document the event”. First of all,  how did the 911 caller know what the Palestinians looked like who were supposedly in the van traveling toward the George Washington Bridge? Secondly, What event were those people documenting?  Inquiring mind wants to know!
Finally, Trump and Carson claim to have seen Muslim-Americans cheering the 9/11 attacks. This must have been imaginary footage. Their goal was to  appease their fan base and generate more campaign funds and media coverage.

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End the crisis in Burundi

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Image result for burundi map

Petition to Global Pan African Movement, African Union (AUu), East Africa Community (EAC) and the Government of Burundi on extra-judicial killings, rampant hate speech and refugees.

The political crisis in Burundi remains unresolved and appears to deepen with each passing day. The government, regional leaders and the international community need to act before it is too late.

We, the members of Pan African Movement – Kenyan Chapter, together with all peace loving Africans, wish to indicate that, despite blatant violations of Burundians’ rights, there seems to be a see-no-evil attitude adopted by the regime and lip service by the regional community.

As Afrikans who believe and pursue African solutions to African problems, and guided by the Panafrican spirit of “Afrika Moja, Afrika Huru” (One Africa, Free Africa) we empathize with the innocent civilians caught in this grave mess and urge our brother, Comrade President Pierre Nkurunziza, to look beyond transitory political interests; move in haste and do the necessary to stop the ongoing extra-judicial killings, restore ethnic cohesion and assure refugees of their safety back at home.

It is in the interest of Burundi and its people that we formally lodge this petition concerning an escalating politically instigated situation which, if not responsibly and swiftly addressed, could plunge Burundi back into a civil war.

We humbly draw the attention of the Global PAM, African Union, EAC and Burundi government to the following:

1. That more than 240 citizens have been killed and bodies dumped on the streets since April.
2. That tens of thousands have fled Burundi for neighboring countries.
3. That the regime headed by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s is complicit and condoning extra-judicial killings for political reasons.
4. That the politicians on both sides are inflaming the citizenry by fanning hate speech and ethnic incitement.
5. That the regional Head of States, patrons to respective national PAM Chapters, have deserted Burundians in their time of need.

THEREFORE your humble petitioners DEMAND that:

1. The Government of Burundi makes effort to stop police brutality, torture, arbitrary arrest and extra judicial killings of its people immediately
2. The Burundian Politicians stop hate speech and inciting the masses along ethnic lines.
3. The African Union Commission takes an active role and urgently convenes an Extra-Ordinary Meeting to discuss the Burundi situation.
4. The East African Community to be more actively involved in restoring normalcy, and the neighboring countries ie Rwanda, Tanzania and DR Congo to open their borders and help the fleeing refugees.
5. The Global PanAfrican Movement, through its East Africa national chapters, mobilizes members and wananchi (citizens) around a solidarity campaign.

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Getting away with murder: Canadian firms continue abuses in Africa

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Yves Engler

Despite a long list of abuses by Canadian mining companies in Africa – and elsewhere – it’s very difficult to hold them accountable at home. Will the new government of Justin Trudeau defy the powerful mining industry and adopt legislation to constrain their abuses abroad?

Two weeks ago police shot and killed an individual at Pacific Wildcat Resources tantalum mine in central Mozambique. The incident received some attention in Canada because community members responded by seizing the Vancouver-based company’s mine site and setting some equipment ablaze.

One protester told O Pais newspaper this wasn’t the first time someone was shot dead at the mine and another said: “We don’t want to see the managers of this company operating in the mine anymore. Otherwise we will take the law into our own hands. The director of the company does not respect us, and we cannot allow someone to come and enslave us in our own country.”

In recent years Canadian mining companies have engendered a great deal of violence across Africa. In 2008 Guinea’s military killed three in a bid to drive away small-scale miners from SEMAFO’s Kiniero mine in the southeast of the country. BBC Monitoring Africa reported that “the soldiers shot a woman at close range, burned a baby and in the panic another woman and her baby fell into a gold mining pit and a man fell fatally from his motor while running away from the rangers.” Blaming the Montréal-based company for the killings, locals damaged its equipment.

To the south east the Ghanaian military opened fire on a 5,000-person demonstration against a Canadian-owned mine in June 2005. Seven of those protesting Golden Star’s pollution and refusal to compensate those impacted by its operations were hit by bullets. Backing a hardline approach to the local community, a company official called for “some radical way” to change the “mindset” of small-scale unlicensed miners in the region.

Fifteen hundred kilometers north, Mauritania’s national guard raided a peaceful protest, killing one employee and wounding several others during a July 2012 strike at First Quantum’s Guelb Moghrein mine. A release from the Vancouver company afterwards called the strike illegal, but failed to mention the death or injuries.

On the other side of the continent security guards paid by Barrick Gold (now Acacia) have killed a couple dozen villagers at, or in close proximity, to the Toronto company’s North Mara mine since 2005. Hundreds more have been severely injured by the security and police Barrick pays to patrol the perimeter of its Tanzanian mine and regularly calls on site. Most of the victims were impoverished villagers who scratch rocks for tiny bits of gold and who mined these territories prior to Acacia’s arrival.

Two thousand kilometers southeast Anvil Mining transported Congolese government troops who killed 100 people near its Dikulushi mine in the port town of Kilwa, Katanga. Most of the victims were unarmed civilians.

After a half-dozen members of the little-known Mouvement revolutionnaire pour la liberation du Katanga occupied the Canada-Australian company’s Kilwa concession in October 2004, Anvil provided the trucks used to transport Congolese soldiers to the area and to dump the corpses of their victims into mass graves. A Congolese military commander told UN investigators that the military operation in Kilwa was “made possible thanks to the logistical efforts provided by Anvil mining.” Immediately after the massacre, an Anvil press release celebrated the return of law and order to its mining territory without reporting the use of Anvil planes and trucks to support the military intervention or the deaths near Kilwa.

Despite a long list of abuses by Canadian mining companies in Africa (and elsewhere) it’s incredibly difficult to hold them accountable domestically. The previous Stephen Harper government opposed legislation modeled on the U.S. Alien Torts Claims Act that would have allowed lawsuits against Canadian companies responsible for major human rights violations or ecological destruction abroad. Similarly, the Conservatives and some opposition MPs defeated Liberal MP John McKay’s private members bill (C – 300), which would have withheld diplomatic and financial support from companies found responsible for significant abuses abroad.

Is Justin Trudeau prepared to defy Canada’s powerful mining industry and adopt legislation to constrain their abuses abroad or will he continue to place the full power of Canadian foreign-policy behind this controversial industry?

* Yves Engler’s author of the just-released ‘Canada in Africa: 300 years of aid and exploitation.’

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Rwanda: Litigating for compensation for the acquitted

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Image result for Rwanda CRIME PHOTO

Beth S. Lyons

Alarmingly, it appears that the presumption of guilt is alive and well in international justice. Will this presumption be allowed to continue to smother the right to be presumed innocent? Will violations of human rights principles of fair trial be remedied? The successful survival of international justice depends on the answers.

When Major F. X. Nzuwonemeye, one of the Co-Accused in the “Military II” case at the ICTR, was acquitted by the Appeals Chamber in February 2014, he had already served 2/3rds of the 20-year sentence which had been imposed by the Trial Chamber. [1] In most jurisdictions, the completion of 2/3rds of the sentence makes the person eligible for release. The legal grounds for acquittal included a fair trial violation of notice, as well as evidentiary errors by the Trial Chamber. Major Nzuwonemeye is now living in a “safe house” in Arusha, Tanzania, because no country where he can safely live has accepted him. See my posting at http://ilg2.org/2014/05/19/acquitted-but-still-not-free/ .

At the time of his acquittal, the client had already served the punishment for the crimes for which he was acquitted. On its face, this is a grave and manifest miscarriage of justice. It should be a given that an international tribunal would remedy this violation of human rights.

But this did not happen. In August 2015, the MICT (which replaced the ICTR and ICTY) dismissed our Motion for Compensation and Damages for lack of jurisdiction. The complete pleadings are available on the MICT website at www.unmict.org They include the Defence Motion and Additional Submissions, the Prosecution’s Response and Additional Submissions and Decisions, between February and August 2015.

Unfortunately, the denial of compensation to Major Nzuwonemeye and other acquitted persons was not unexpected. No compensation has been granted except in one ICTR case: Rwamakuba was awarded $2000 for a breach of his right to counsel. This pittance effectively ridicules the violation of his rights.

Although there is no legal right to compensation in the Tribunal’s Statute, appellate jurisprudence unequivocally holds that there is an obligation to provide effective remedies for human rights violations. Therefore, if the Tribunal decided to provide compensation as a remedy to those who were acquitted, it would figure out a way.

In fact, in 2000, the Presidents of the ICTY and ICTR, Judge Jorda and Judge Pillay, requested that the Statutes for the ad hoc tribunals be amended to include the competency for compensation in three situations: a) when a person has been acquitted; b) when there has been a violation resulting from wrongful arrest, prosecution or conviction; c) unlawful detention. This never happened.

The failure to provide a financial remedy to the acquitted cements the well-known notion that the possibility of acquittal was never envisioned by the Tribunal. A spokesman for the ICTR, then ICTR Deputy Registrar Everard O’Donnell explained:

The simple fact is—and there is some truth in this particular fact—that no proper provision was made for acquittal at the beginning of the setting up of the Tribunal. That much is a fact, and it’s one that we have been struggling with in the registry ever since. There was no budget for dealing with acquitted persons.[2]

I do not think that the absence of compensation in the ICTR or ICTY Statutes was an oversight, or an act of negligence. Rather, it objectively illustrates that the presumption of guilt is alive and well in international justice.

Will the presumption of guilt be allowed to continue to smother the right to be presumed innocent? Will violations of human rights principles of fair trial be remedied? The successful survival of international justice depends on the answers.

* Beth S. Lyons served as a defense counsel in three cases at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania. Her review of Professor Nancy Amoury Combs’ book, Fact-Finding Without Facts: The Uncertain Evidentiary Foundations of International Criminal Convictions, was published in the Journal of Genocide Research in September 2011. This article originally appeared on IntLawGrrls on 21 November 2015.

END NOTES

[1] Major Nzuwonemeye was represented at trial and on appeal by Lead Counsel Chief Charles A. Taku and Co-Counsel Beth S. Lyons.

[2] International Symposium, Geneva, ‘International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda: Model or Counter Model for International Criminal Justice? The Perspectives of the Stakeholders’, Session 4, Geneva, 10 July 2009, p 12. Available at www.ictr.org

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America: Saving the last great hope of humanity from insanity

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Alemayehu G. Mariam
Image result for USA FLAG
No sensible American would want the world to judge all Americans by the hateful actions of the Ku Klux Klan, a hate organization that has committed its share of atrocities and terrorism over numerous decades. Yet many are ready to use their positions, status and wealth to demonize, dehumanize, criminalize, anathematize and generalize about a group of people because of a few evil individuals who commit violence in the name of Islam.

Elie Wiesel, the Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate said, “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

I would add, “There must never be a time when we fail to protest the madness of politician wannabes and the lunacy of politicians in office.”

US Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump last week said he would “implement a database system” that would “absolutely track Muslims” in the United States.

That was not all. “There should be a lot of systems, beyond databases. We should have a lot of systems” to monitor and control Muslims in America.

Trump also wants “surveillance of certain mosques if that’s OK” and would “strongly consider shutting mosques.”

Insanity?

The other Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson would read Muslim American straight out of the U.S. Constitution.

Carson said the Founding Fathers would not have trusted or approved of a Muslim president. “I would have problems with somebody who embraced all the doctrines associated with Islam.”

(I wonder if Brother Ben thought the Founding Fathers would have trusted a Black president?!)

Carson wants Muslims in America “to reject sharia and all the portions of it that are talked about and subject themselves to American values and the Constitution.”

I am just curious. Isn’t there some language in the U.S. Constitution that says, “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”? (Art. VI.)

I guess that article of the Constitution does not apply in the “Land of Americarsonia”.

Carson also said, “We should monitor anything — mosque, church, school, you know, shopping center — where there’s a lot of radicalization going on.” Monitor anything and anybody!

But not gun sales! Even to people who are on the terrorist “watch list” because “I am a big supporter of the Second Amendment and I don’t want to deprive people unnecessarily of that. There needs to be better due process.”

Double insanity?

Carson was not done. He compared Syrian refugees to dogs. Carson said, “For instance, you know, if there is a rabid dog running around your neighborhood, you’re probably not going to assume something good about that dog, and you’re probably gonna put your children out of the way. Doesn’t mean that you hate all dogs by any stretch of the imagination?”

Amplifying on his analogy, Carson compared the screening of refugees to processing dogs at the Humane Society to separate the rabid dogs (“radical Muslims”) from the (“lap dogs” (?)” Syrian refugees.

Carson said, “By the same token, we have to have in place screening mechanisms that allow us to determine who the mad dogs are, quite frankly. Who are the people who wanna come in here and hurt us and wanna destroy us? Until we know how to do that, just like it would be foolish to put your child out in the neighborhood knowing that that was going on, it’s foolish for us to accept people if we cannot have the appropriate type of screening.”

Strangely, Carson’s statement reminded of two lines from Noel Cowards song, “Mad Dogs and Englishmen”: “The natives grieve when the white men leave their huts,/Because they’re obviously, definitely nuts!”

Is Brother Ben definitely nuts!?

Syrian refugees are not dogs. They are human beings like us created in the image of God, in the image of Allah.

Brother Carson’s words bring back to life deeply buried painful memories of colonialism in Africa.

In colonial Africa, it was not uncommon to see signs hanging in front of public facilities reading: “Europeans Only” and “Africans and Dogs Not Allowed.”

During the first half of the 20th century, African Americans were not wanted because of their skin color. Jews for their religion.

That message of total rejection was communicated to African Americans and Jews in signs that read, “NO NIGGERS. NO JEWS. NO DOGS.”

African Americans are not dogs. Jews are not dogs. Syrians are not dogs.

Hearing such deeply wounding words from a highly accomplished African American simply crushes my spirit, decimates my willpower.

But it is not only Trump and Carson who are spewing fear and loathing.

Republican presidential hopefuls Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush also joined in pleading for the admission of Christian Syrian refugees only.

Cruz assuringly declared, “There is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror.”

Republican presidential hopefuls Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and others piled on with essentially the same message. There is no place for in America for Syrian refugees.

Republican presidential hopeful Chris Christie said not even Syrian “orphans under 5 should be admitted into the United States at this point” because “I don’t trust this administration to effectively vet the people that they’re asking us to take in. We need to put the safety and security of the American people first.”

Obama tried to make light of Christie’s reckless political posturing. “First they were worried the press was too tough on them in the debates, now they’re worried about 3-year-old orphans. That doesn’t sound very tough to me.”

Triple, quadruple insanity?

“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?”
“The Shadow knows.”

It is not just national politicians and politician wannabes who have been spreading fear and loathing of Muslims.

There have been quite a few state politicians preaching hate against Islam and Muslims.

A Republican state senator in Oklahoma said, Islam “is a cancer in our nation that needs to be cut out.” He added Islam’s whole purpose is “the destruction of Western civilization from within.”

Doesn’t that sound like something the leaders of Boko Haram, the terrorist group in Northern Nigeria or ISIL/ISIS would say of Christianity and the destruction of Islam by “crusaders”?

But it is not just Republican politicians and wannabe politicians that are demonizing Islam and Muslims.

Jokers and democrats (did I just repeat myself?) also joined the insanity bandwagon.

The celebrated comedian (?) and iconoclast Bill Maher said American’s “don’t want to recognize” that many Muslims, including Syrian refugees, have “values that are at odds” with those of Americans. He added, “This idea that somehow we do share values, that all religions are alike, is bulls**t, and we need to call it bulls**t.”

Well, I am entertained by Bill Maher, but he is full of “bulls**t.”

But some notable Democrats are not joking. They are promoting the insanity.

Former Democratic presidential candidate and General Wesley Clark proposed the idea of internment camps for “radicalized Muslims” who do not share American values.

Clark said, “If these people are radicalized and they don’t support the United States and they are disloyal to the United States as a matter of principle, fine. It’s their right and it’s our right and obligation to segregate them from the normal community for the duration of the conflict.”

Are “segregation centers” “enhanced detention techniques” for “radicalized Muslims” ?

Segregation is to concentration camp as a little-bit-pregnant is to pregnancy. Segregation centers soon become concentration camps.

How do we even “segregate” the “radicalized and disloyal Muslims” in America from the patriotic and “loyal” ones?

Do we establish a “Grand Inquisition for the Defense of Sacred American Values”?

Will every American Muslim have to come before the Grand Inquisition and declare his/her allegiance to the true faith of “Sacred American Values” or be shipped out to “segregation” camps?

We actually tried segregation camps in 1942 after Imperial Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.

We called it “relocation camps” (a gentler and kinder word for concentration camp without the usual accouterments) to protect “real” Americans from Americans of Japanese ancestry.

President Roosevelt ordered the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans on the West Coast because he believed all of them were disloyal and secretly sworn to support the Emperor of Japan.

More than 110,000 Japanese Americans on the West Coast were forced into in “relocation” camps. Not one of them was convicted of a crime! Not one!

In 1944, the U.S. Supreme Court validated that outrageous mistreatment of Americans of Japanese ancestry in its shameful majority opinion in Korematsu v. United States:

“We cannot reject as unfounded the judgment of the military authorities and of Congress that there were disloyal members of that population, whose number and strength could not be precisely and quickly ascertained. We cannot say that the war-making branches of the Government did not have ground for believing that in a critical hour such persons could not readily be isolated and separately dealt with, and constituted a menace to the national defense and safety, which demanded that prompt and adequate measures be taken to guard against it.”

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Owen J Roberts protested and condemned what was done to the Americans of Japanese ancestry:

“Much is said of the danger to liberty from the Army program for deporting and detaining these citizens of Japanese extraction. But a judicial construction of the due process clause that will sustain this order is a far more subtle blow to liberty than the promulgation of the order itself. A military order, however unconstitutional, is not apt to last longer than the military emergency. Even during that period a succeeding commander may revoke it all. But once a judicial opinion rationalizes such an order to show that it conforms to the Constitution, or rather rationalizes the Constitution to show that the Constitution sanctions such an order, the Court for all time has validated the principle of racial discrimination in criminal procedure and of transplanting American citizens. The principle then lies about like a loaded weapon ready for the hand of any authority that can bring forward a plausible claim of an urgent need.”

Does General Clark now want to point that loaded weapon on American Muslims and pull the trigger?

On various occasions over the years, I have visited the “Manzanar War Relocation Center” set up for the “unascertained number of disloyal members of the group” of Americans of Japanese ancestry in a remote desert area in California.

It is today a historic site and one of ten camps where Japanese American citizens and resident Japanese aliens were interned during World War II.

Every time I go to Manzanar, I stand alone on the west side of the facility and try to imagine what it would have felt like to be discriminated because of one’s ancestry, dispossessed of everything one owned, degraded because one belongs to a persecuted minority group, humiliated because one is prejudged as disloyal and traitorous without a shred of evidence.

I wonder how it must have felt to be forced, pushed and shoved into cars, buses, trucks, and trains and sent to a camp in the middle of nowhere, literally.

Each individual and family sent to Manzanar and the other camps was assigned an identification number transported under military guard to facilities in Washington, Oregon, California, and Arizona. (I did not say the identification numbers were tattooed. That was done at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Buchenwald, Dachau, Treblinka and other places.)

It is always depressing to me to walk around the Manzanar site.

But as I leave the parking lot of Manzanar, I shake my head and almost want to laugh at the irony of the words written on the hanging sign: “Manzana War Relocation Center”.

“Relocation Center” for American citizens who committed NO crime whatsoever?

Not one of the individuals sent to the “relocation centers” was charged with the commission of a crime.

All of them were innocent.

I wonder what George Orwell might have said if he had seen the sign. “Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

“Relocation Center” for a concentration camp with machine gun towers in the middle of Owens Valley, CA is pure wind.

Are “They” today thinking about a modern day Manzanar for “radicalized Muslims”?

Perhaps even reopen Manzanar as “Abu Zar Peacetime Relocation Center”?

Definitely, the 1500 people who attended the 39th Annual Pilgrimage to Manzanar” do not agree.

The list of politicians using code words to fear monger and demonize all Muslims is growing.

It is almost becoming fashionable to preach Islamophobia and fearmongering against Syrian refugees.

There are some who parade alleged “poll data” showing that massive numbers of Muslims in America and throughout the world are secret sympathizers with the aims of radical Islamists.

They say these Muslims want “Sharia law” and a purge all traces of Western civilization from the “Islamic world”. It is said they would prefer to live under a calipahate, the rule of the self-designated successor to the Prophet Mohammed and ruler of the Islamic world.

This nonsense about Muslims is not much different than the alleged polls showing more Americans view blacks as racist than whites and Hispanics or the majority of white Americans, particularly young ones, are hidden racists.

What is tragic is the fact that such nonsense is rarely challenged and exposed for what it really is: Fear mongering, race baiting, Islamophobia stoking and xenophobia purveying.

Regardless, I have absolute faith in the decency, fair-mindedness and good nature of the American people. This is the time to protest the violation of cherished American values against demagoguery.

If I could, I would personally apologize to each and every Syrian refugee fighting to just survive another day for Brother Carson’s mean-spirited statement and Carson’s manifest inhumanity.

I would tell each one of them Americans are not like that – that hateful, hurtful, vengeful, disgraceful, disrespectful, dreadful and pitiful.

I would tell them Americans don’t believe in kicking a man, a woman, a child who are down on the ground, down on their luck, drowning down at sea, drowning in despair, hungry, hopeless, helpless, defenseless and powerless.

That is not what Americans are. The American character to me is defined by liberty, dignity, generosity, fraternity, equality, charity, amiability, amicability, authenticity, civility, comity and community.

I cherish the words inscribed on the bronze plaque in the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty as the quintessential definition of the spirit of America:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

Those words were taken from the sonnet “The New Colossus” written in 1883 by Emma Lazarus, an American Jewish poet in New York City.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” I would say the same thing about not losing faith in Muslims.

Albert Einstein joined in: “Remember your humanity and forget the rest.”

“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

I am powerless to prevent injustice against Muslims, but never powerless to protest against that injustice!

I protest!

I protest but I do not have the words to express my outrage against those who use, abuse, misuse their positions, status and wealth to demonize, dehumanize, criminalize, anathematize, banalize, fanaticize and generalize about a group of people because of a few evil individuals who commit the most unspeakable barbaric acts in the name of a particular faith.

I tremble in fear when I contemplate the world thinking all African Americans are like Ben Carson and all white people are like Donald Trump.

Would any reasonable and self-respecting American want the world to judge all Americans by the hateful actions of the Ku Klux Klan, a hate organization that has committed its share of atrocities and terrorism over numerous decades?

In nearly a decade of writing weekly commentaries, from time to time, I have been accused of “idealizing” America too much, “apologizing” for American imperialism, neocolonialism, capitalism, adventurism, militarism, corporatism, neoliberalism, elitism, opportunism, provincialism, barbarism, jingoism, hegemonism and whatever other “isms” are out there.

They say I swear by the U.S. Constitution and promote American exceptionalism.

I plead guilty to both charges.

I have taken so many formal oaths to support and defend the U.S. Constitution over my career, I have lost count. There is no doubt about it. Literally, I do swear by the U.S. Constitution.

I also plead guilty to American exceptionalism. What does American exceptionalism mean to me?

Some say “American exceptionalism” is a myth perpetuated by conservatives. They say the idea glosses over the underside of American history including slavery, treatment of Native Americans, segregation, the Jim Crow South, and canonizes the Founding Fathers and the Constitution.”

For me, it is a set of ideals about a society founded on a unique set of ideas about democracy and personal liberty.

I will go one step further than that. I think America is the last hope for humanity and must be saved from the insanity that afflicts so many demagogic politicians and politician wannabes.

On December 1, 1862, one month before signing the Emancipation Proclamation, President Abraham Lincoln sent a message to Congress. He was talking about “saving the union”. He said the “world knows we do know how to save it.” He said, “In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free — honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth.”

Can we nobly save the last best hope of earth in the second decade of the 21st century?

So what is America to the American who happens to follow the Muslim faith?

The last best hope of earth?

Of humanity?

Perhaps for that American of Muslim faith, the answer has already been given by the great African American poet Langston Hughes in his poem, “Let America Be America Again”:

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.
(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.
(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

I have been actively promoting efforts to help Syrian refugees. I even proposed President Ronald Reagan’s 1981 U.S. Immigration and Refugee Policy statement as a “practical framework” for response to the humanitarian crisis in which more than five million Syrian citizens have been displaced.

I have done so not because of political ideology, political expediency, political correctness or any other reason.

I have done it in response to questions once asked for all eternity:

“For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Posted in USAComments Off on America: Saving the last great hope of humanity from insanity

Why did the world mourn so much for Paris?

NOVANEWS

Zemdena Abebe

The horrendous terrorist attacks in the French capital last week brought the whole world to a stand-still. Yet similar violence elsewhere has not attracted comparable outrage and sympathy. What’s more, the daily deaths of impoverished people condemned to a sub-human existence by White supremacist ideologies hardly make the news.

I was in the midst of a lovely concert at the Stade Mamadou Konate organized and sponsored by Orange (a French telecom provider) here in one of France’s former colonies, Mali, when the news of the Paris attacks surfaced. I was trying to share a video from the concert on my social media page and asking for translations, when the singer on stage sang “Franci….”( a Bambara word for France) going on to say something else I couldn’t decipher. I asked my Malian friend what was being said, wondering, is the singer hailing and praising the former colonial master? Is she singing, “I want to go to France”? What could she be saying? Is she saying all of these things because the event was organized by a French company and she felt pressured? After all, whoever feeds you controls you, right?

These were random thoughts going through my head when I stumbled upon the news on my timeline about the horrendous act that took place in Paris. At first, I read 30 deaths, the numbers escalated as time went by and so did the plethora of information and condolences coming from all over the world. It seemed like the world was at a standstill. It felt almost like when the 9/11 attacks occurred, a similar eerie feeling. Like something evil to the whole of humanity had happened, almost like an alien attack from Mars or something. To my mind that had been fixated on chilling on a Friday night, it did not make sense; it did not add up, it had not sunk in yet. I was still confused as to what exactly happened. Thus I was really in a hurry to go home and see what made the Paris attacks so unique, so horrific, so disturbing, so shocking, so relevant, so painful, so unimaginable, so pathetic, so ruthless, so VISIBLE.

On my way home I decided to stop at a local bar for food (maybe it’s the shock that made me very hungry. Had dooms day arrived?) I was astonished to see a room full of handsome men, a few women, mostly drinking and chatting, some smoking and some old school hip-hop playing in the background. I was digging the vibes despite being a bit uneasy at the lusty yet smile-coated gazes that were undressing my womanhood. It was in an effort to avoid the male gaze that I looked up, and that was when when my eyes landed on the flat screen TV. It was showing live coverage of the Paris attacks! That astonishing rare circumstance caught my eyes! It was bewildering. I have noticed that clubs and bars usually play a backdrop of music videos on their plasma screens but never in my nightlife experience have I seen the news at night being shown in a bar/restaurant. After all, aren’t those places where one tries to escape the gruesome realties of life, particularly the news and the pain of this world and find solace in music and heal oneself in the complete sense of temporary freedom? At any rate, all I wanted to do was to go home as soon as possible, charge my phone and dig deeper, unravel the truth of the matter at hand and deconstruct the doom that had occurred against humanity.

What on earth had happened in Paris? What was the most defining factor? What made it capture this amount of attention? Why was it any different? What had happened that seemed to unify the world in mourning? Was my suspicion true: was humanity under threat? Why did the aliens choose the ‘romantic’ city of Paris, of all places in the whole wide world?

Adding to my curiosity, on my way home trying to calm my nerves by the reggae music playing in my friend’s car and the night breeze of Bamako, I passed through a neighbourhood where people were glued to their Canal plus (a French satellite dish company) TVs outside of their houses (I guess people chill outside because of the heat inside) watching live coverage by perhaps France 24 of again this mysterious Paris attacks or what seemed like an invasion from Mars against the human race.

I got home, dropped my bag and keys on the floor, threw away my sandals and sat on the sofa charging my phone and started doing my research. WHAT HAPPENED IN PARIS? Well, to my surprise my search engine informed me that no alien invasion had occurred! Phew, thank the gods. Terrorist bombings had killed a number of people and wounded others; just like a terrorist attack a day earlier had killed and wounded people in Beirut. Terrorist attacks similar to those have happened in Afghanistan, Kenya, Somalia, Nigeria and here in Mali where I live (a week latter Mali was to see a terror attack of its own in its capital Bamako.)

I was glad to learn we were not under an alien attack or that it wasn’t the end of the world. But I also learnt a gruesome, deeper disturbing reality. The loss of lives in Paris and the reaction to it has a lot to do with the West – its white supremacy, capitalism, imperialism and power. People were not necessarily mourning the loss of innocent lives but the loss of power, which they looked up to, admired, wished they had. The pain was in the media’s deliberate sensationalism and portrayal of the defeat of good by evil and people watching felt defeated, hurt at a loss. And the French flag that was bombarding Facebook capitalized on the hegemony of French power. Western media of course depicting the French government as force of good, using its power to save humanity, whereas in reality it is the opposite.

A lot of Africans have a crush on Paris’s hegemony. They adore its might, its ‘sexy language’, it’s “romantic ” Eiffel Tower and it’s exotic cuisine. When Paris was angered, shocked in a total hot mess and announced a state of emergency and vowed to punish those responsible in merciless vengeance, the Africans panicked. After all Paris in this particular case and the West in general represent unchecked power, which perhaps the African finds alluring! This is the same Paris that was one of the most treacherous colonizers ravaging countless African nations; the same Paris that destabilizes its former colonies and controls the economy of the CFA zone; the same Paris that profits from the sale of arms both in the Middle East and Africa; the same Paris with over 4,000 troops in northern Mali.

The outrage has nothing to do with the innocent people whose lives were lost. If that were the case those same people that show compassion for Paris will also show compassion for the disempowered who die everyday in our own backyards if they truly care about justice, that is. In other words, the sadness, the outrage, the sympathy, the love, the showing of affection, the helplessness is not for those innocent lives but for the same forces that perpetuate these wars and their unchecked power.

It goes without saying that one of the most powerful social media outlets, Facebook, has shown once again it is nothing but a tool for white supremacist ideologies. Of course I know Facebook is by the West for the West but we must call out Facebook on its hypocrisy and double standards. (I am aware of Facebook’s attempt to rectify its wrongdoings after an online uproar by its users but it does very little to appease me; the damage is done). I will however use Facebook till Africa has its own “Facebook” to promote my agenda, my agenda being justice for all. But when and if I feel Facebook does not serve my propose, I will not shy away from boycotting it. The most self-revealing part of Facebook’s decision to have provisions like changing ones profile picture, marking ones safety is in that it did not solely sympathize with America (where Facebook originated) but with whiteness. Facebook did not give a rat’s ass where this thing was happening as long as in happened in a white nation and affected mostly white lives. I don’t expect much from Facebook and Western media. After all, they are there to promote their agenda, interest and cause. Western media (new media, social media included) is a tool for Western imperialism. I cannot support these imperial power structures that loot my continent, I am not attracted to its power when the rape, devastation, agony, blood and tears of my people make up its power. There must be a clear distinction between forces of the state apparatus and the people. The same power created by the control, dehumanization and oppression of the African and our resources. The white world lives off Africa, profits from our deaths so our lives mean very little to them. But have we forgotten our own lives? Does our death mean nothing to our own selves? In fact, we are conditioned to believe that our lives mean very little; so do our deaths.

All of this goes back to the mentality of the slave. We see ourselves as less than human. The years and years of dehumanization by slavery, colonialism, neo-colonialism, western education, western media, western production of knowledge and worldviews and the African’s own sense of not staying alert have made us devalue our bodies both alive and dead. The forces of transnational white supremacist capitalist patriarchy exploit, dehumanize and erase a people but so does our ignorance.

White lives matter more than our own. I am not here for selective empathy! Looking at my timeline on all of my social media pages it becomes apparent that a lot of us still don’t get it and that makes me very sad. How can we exclude ourselves from the compassion we seem to show? HOW! The media is part of the lie? How can we not stay alert/awake?! We are dying and we don’t seem to care. How can we extend a show of solidarity when our narrative is this narrow and self-excluding! I get the media’s role and the self-hating tendencies.

But terrorism has many faces: there’s the terrorism of Western capitalist imperialism, terrorism of sexism and patriarchy, terrorism of greed and war, terrorism of white supremacy, terrorism of totalitarianism and corruption, terrorism of the lies and single story narrative of the media, terrorism of state sponsored violence, terrorism of religion, terrorism of politics and economics, terrorism of oppression, exploitation, manipulation and the utter violence in our silence or partiality!

All of it is interconnected. Selective responses and shows of compassion or empathy are part of the terrorism! What happened in Paris is selective memory, the humanization of one people and the complete erasure of the rest of us. What happened is selective justice, partial outrage. The reaction to what happened in Paris is selective humanity.

As an anti-imperialist/neo-colonialist justice seeker, I agitate for justice for Africa, in Ethiopia for the jailed journalists, and bloggers, Oromo students or the displaced indigenous peoples in Gambella. I seek justice for the agony and pain of the Chibok girls in Nigeria, in the innocent Malian lives lost everyday, in the Middle East, in the death and cries of the kids in Gaza, in the killing of the Rohyinga Muslims in Myanmar, with women’s bodies being a weapon of war in DRC and for the people from Somalia to Syria, to Afghanistan and Pakistan where death is nothing but a daily occurrence, to the people of Burundi and Burkina Faso where the quest for power has blinded the African dictator, to the #FeesMustFall movement in South Africa. I seek justice wherever it’s non-existent. I am so tired with western hypocrisy and double standards and don’t expect much from it, but the hypocrisy, cowardice and ignorance of the African irks me and must be challenged. My justice is not selective nor is it partial; it is intersectional.

I find the so called lets pray for the whole world narrative infuriating. Has the world suddenly become full of problems or were we fucking numb to it, does it have to take a white life in a white land for mankind both black and white to be sensitive to the atrocities of the world? Let’s not close out eyes too long praying to a white Jesus while we are dying

We are invisible up until the hyper-visibility of white lives manifest.

Hyper-consumption of black bodies and the centrality of whiteness in all narratives has made the black lives invisible. The French flag all of a sudden became fashionable. Some Muslims felt they had to put on the flag on Facebook to reaffirm their rebuttal of terrorism. They were expected to defy terrorism by showing support for a terrorist nation. They were coerced indirectly to show they are the good guys, the good Muslim.

You see whiteness works in such a way that for blackness to have any sort of meaning, value, humanity, and existence it must align itself to whiteness. Simply put, its like a rat saying to a cat: I am an animal too, and the cat laughs at the rat and says: You are just my food. But if and when the rat recognizes its value without its service to the cat, then maybe it will be free. We are not saying we are human too. We are saying we are human. We are not asking for permission here; we are not trying to appeal to the moral values of the oppressor. WE ARE SAYING: OUR BLACK LIVES MATTER!

Posted in FranceComments Off on Why did the world mourn so much for Paris?


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