Saturday, December 31, 2005

Some articles on Newsweek

I have posted in my blog some articles that have appeared on Newsweek this month that (I think) are very interesting. Some of them are very long -as this post, for which I apologize-.

About the role of women in Al Qaeda:

All the alarms in the West went abruptly off when MURIEL DEGAGUES blew herself off in Iraq.

As an adolescent, she dabbled in drugs, smoked, drank heavily and sometimes ran away from home. “One time I had to go 170km to get her back from the Ardennes,” M Degauque said. She was more interested in boyfriends than studies. “I don’t know how many of them she had.” She found jobs as a waitress and a baker’s assistant, but was accused of stealing from the till. Tragedy then struck the family when Jean-Paul was killed in a road accident.
Muriel moved from Charleroi to Brussels, which has a large Islamic community. She married and divorced a Turkish man, and had a long relationship with an Algerian, who converted her to Islam in 2001. Three years ago she married Issam Goris, who was born in Belgium to Moroccan parents, and followed him to Morocco.
They told us that they had a house in Morocco and some horses, and a Mercedes and three motorbikes. We never found out whether it was true,” said her mother, who blames Goris for brainwashing her daughter. When Muriel returned to Belgium, her mother no longer recognised her. She had become “more Muslim than Muslim”, she said. “The religion was totally ingrained in her. She only lived for that.
Initially, she wore a hijab, or Islamic veil, but soon started wearing the head-to-toe chador that leaves the face visible. Finally she wore a burka. She became ever more estranged from her parents. “When we saw them, they imposed their rules. We were at home, but my husband had to eat in the kitchen with Issam while the women ate together in the sitting room. There was no question of putting on the TV or opening a beer,” M Degauque said.
Two articles in Newsweek are about the role that women play nowadays in Al-Qaeda and in Islam:

Never before had any branch of Al Qaeda sent a woman on a suicide mission. Since female bombers first appeared in Lebanon two decades ago, their ranks have come mainly from secular Arab nationalist groups, from Kurdish rebels in Turkey and the non-Muslim Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam fighting the government of Sri Lanka. Only in the past few years did the Palestinian "army of roses" carry out terrorist attacks against Israelis, and the "black widows" strike at the enemies of Chechnya's rebels. Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, Al Qaeda in Iraq, Al Qaeda and its offshoots around the world held back. But as he has before, Zarqawi broke the taboos. His strategy is to create images of horror, "to look like he has more capability than he truly has," says Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, the Coalition forces spokesman in Baghdad. Zarqawi recruits where he can, he exploits whom he can and he attacks the softest of targets to get the peculiar kind of publicity he craves. Women are his new weapon of choice.


The West's exposure to Muslim women is largely based on Islam's most extreme cases of oppression: Taliban-dominated Afghanistan, Wahhabi-ruled Saudi Arabia and postrevolutionary Iran. Under those regimes, women were and are ordered to cover. Many Afghan women are forbidden to attend school, and no Saudi woman is allowed to drive. Yet despite the spread of ultraconservative versions of Islam over the past few decades, these societies are not the norm in the Muslim world. In Egypt, female cops patrol the streets. In Jordan, women account for the majority of students in medical school. And in Syria, courtrooms are filled with female lawyers. "Women are out working, in every profession, and even expect equal pay," says Leila Ahmed, Harvard Divinity School professor and author of "Women and Gender in Islam." "Though the atmosphere in Muslim countries is becoming more restrictive, no matter how conservative things get they can't put the genie back in the bottle."

Still, Muslim women are feeling like pawns in a political game: jihadists portray them as ignorant lambs who need to be protected from outside forces, while the United States considers them helpless victims of a backward society to be saved through military intervention. "Our empowerment is being exploited by men," says Palestinian Muslim Rima Barakat. "It's a policy of hiding behind the skirts of women. It's dishonorable no matter who's doing it." Scholars such as Khaled Abou El Fadl, an expert on Islamic law and author of "The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam From the Extremists," says this is an age-old problem. "Historically the West has used the women's issue as a spear against Islam," he says. "It was raised in the time of the Crusades, used consistently in colonialism and is being used now. Muslim women have grown very, very sensitive about how they're depicted on either side."

As I have posted in my Spanish blog: looks like the women are mistreated in more places than in the countries that they mention in this article. Nobody mentions than in Australia, all the riots took place when a rapist was being judged:

The rapist in question is a Muslim of Pakistani origins. He was accused of several rapes. This man, who was known only as MSK by the newspapers, had began his rap├Ęs four days after he arrived in Australian soil.

In front of the court he even reprimanded one of his victims, a girl aged only 14, because he began to deny with her head as she was hearing the accused.

The reality is that the girl was right to move his head, unhappy of what she was hearing.

After swearing on the Koram, MSK declared in front of the Court that if he had raped 4 girls -one of them aged only 13 years- was because the girls did not had any right to say NO:

"They were not covering themselves with the veil, and that is just the same as inviting men to go to bed with them”.

MSK is condemned by now for inciting his three youngest brothers to rape in group to another 2 girls in 2002. He said in his defence that the cultural context was the culprit of the rapings.

The problem is that it is true as you can read in this article in

But what astonishes me are these words that are quoted by fjordman when treating the group rapes:
The article quoted a professor of social anthropology at the University of Oslo (note: her name is Unni Wikan) as saying that "Norwegian women must take their share of responsibility for these rapes" because Muslim men found their manner of dress provocative. The professor's conclusion was not that Muslim men living in the West needed to adjust to Western norms, but the exact opposite: "Norwegian women must realize that we live in a multicultural society and adapt themselves to it."
For me, at least, is much more terrible than someone in our own societies think that women (or the raped in general) have their share of guilt in a rape than someone who is an outsider and from Pakistan. The question that arises is: what measures should we apply to this people? (In Spain, a survey -this is a Spanish paper- has shown that 60% of Spanish nationals think there are too many inmigrants, 84,7% that only inmigrants with a job contract should be allowed to enter the country, 79,1% that the inmigrants that commit very hard crimes should be expelled, while 56,1% think that they should be expelled when they commit any crime).

About France: They continue to talk about the "racism" in France:

For now, at least, the fires have died out—but an acrid bitterness still hangs in the air. Ask those on the football pitch behind the high wire fences of Montfermeil. Year after year, coach Kaddor Slimane, a son of Algerian immigrants who grew up in neighboring projects, has seen his teams win their league's sportsmanship award. Yet what does their good behavior mean in the "outside" world, where they are seen through the lens of limitations and stereotypes? "The French are racist," he says. "They just don't want to admit it." Life in the projects isn't so bad when you are a child, says Amad, a 24-year-old community activist who declined to give his last name for fear of racist attacks. "But once you reach a certain age, you're fed up. There's nothing to do except play soccer or hang out," in voiceless exile from the "other" France.

I suggest (as I do in my blog) that you also read this other article: Excuser les rioters.
I don’t know about you, but when-ever I’m out of work, I firebomb a few cars.

"Rage of French Youth Is a Fight for Recognition," read the headline in a Washington Post story. The New York Times’ Craig Smith informed readers that in France "a significant portion of the population has yet to accept the increasingly multiethnic makeup of the nation. Put simply, being French, for many people, remains a baguette-and-beret affair." No, don’t tell me the French actually expect these immi-grant families to assimilate? Incroy-able!

Smith argues that le rampage is roo-ted in "growing inequalities," "dis-crimination" and an "overly aggres-sive police presence in the country’s immigrant-heavy housing projects" -- which, of course, is why immigrant rioters have torched those symbols of inequality and discrimination, syna-gogues and churches, to shouts of "Allahu akbar!" (God is great!) .

One thing Ammash said did stick in my memory. She stressed that Iraqis remained fiercely proud of their civilization despite decades of violence and deprivation. “This country is Mesopotamia. Ninety-nine percent of the American people don’t know the country they’ll soon be bombing is Mesopotamia,” she said. “This nation has been serving civilization for 6,000 years. We invented the first alphabet … every American who enjoys education owes that to us.”
When Ammash’s husband, Ahmed Makki Mohammed Saeed, told me in 2004 that he’d been “tortured” while being detained by U.S. authorities, I wasn’t sure whether to believe him. Revelations about U.S. abuses at Abu Ghraib prison had not yet surfaced. And his accounts sounded bizarre: being subjected to hours and hours of earsplitting American rap music laced with profanity and being doused with cold water, then forced to stand for hours in front of a freezing air-conditioner turned up full blast.
Still, the sheer weight of detail suggested to me that he wasn’t making it up. And subsequent tales of torture from other former detainees indicated that he might actually have been one of the luckier ones among them.
Wow, do you see what is implied in the article? They think that Ammash's husband was really tortured and that she is released because of that. (Well, at least is what I think...)

About renditions: it looks like the European governements knew what was happening or at least, they were just practicing the policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". Hmmm, more hipocrisy.

About terrorism:
A Syrian was arrested over the Beirut Bomb that killed Tueni.
The last news on jihadism in Europe.

Plans to 'Top' 9/11 Strikes' (AFP) - - Three Algerians arrested in an anti-terrorist operation in southern Italy are suspected of being linked to a planned new series of attacks in the United States, interior minister Giuseppe Pisanu said Friday (12/23). The attacks would have targeted ships, stadiums or railway stations in a bid to outdo the September 11 2001 strikes by al-Qaeda in New York and Washington which killed about 2,700 people, Pisanu said. The Algerians are suspected of belonging to a cell established by the al-Qaeda linked Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat.

Spain Jails Six Accused of Aiding al-Qaeda (Reuters) - A Spanish judge has jailed six people on suspicion of recruiting Islamic radicals to send as suicide bombers or insurgents to Iraq, Chechnya or Kashmir, a court official said on Saturday (12/24). The six were among 16 people arrested in raids around Spain. Another two people surrendered after learning police were looking for them.

French Parliament OKs Anti-Terror Measures (AP) - France's parliament approved an anti-terrorism bill Thursday (12/22) that will boost the use of video surveillance and allow police more time to question terror suspects. The law will allow mosques, department stores and other potential targets to install surveillance cameras, and it will stiffen prison terms for terrorists and those providing support. It also will enable police to monitor people who travel to countries known to harbor terror training camps, and to extend the detention period for terror suspects from four days to up to six days.

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