Posts Tagged ‘Islam’

German AfD hardens radical, anti-Muslim course railing against “barbaric, Muslim, gang-raping hordes”

January 10, 2018


© AFP/File / by Frank ZELLER | Von Storch started 2018 by attacking police in Cologne for tweeting in Arabic.


The Alternative for Germany party started the year by railing against “barbaric, Muslim, gang-raping hordes”, ending months of relative post-election calm and any remaining doubt about its hardening far-right course.

If the AfD had been at pains to portray itself as a patriotic conservative force after the September 24 polls, the latest slur signalled that an extremist faction is winning the battle for control, say political scientists.

“The radical course has been cemented,” said Hajo Funke of Berlin’s Free University, adding that the AfD was now openly reaching out to the right-wing extremist fringe, including neo-Nazis and white-pride Identitarians.

Funke said the former anti-euro party had steadily radicalised, purged its more moderate figures, built bridges to groups such as the anti-Islam Pegida street movement, and had never publicly expelled a far-right member.

While the AfD’s declared enemy, Chancellor Angela Merkel, has been struggling to form a new government with the Social Democrats, the AfD has barely been out of the headlines in recent weeks.

In a familiar pattern, its provocations have been followed by vague apologies but also complaints about “political correctness” and censorship by a liberal media and political “thought police”.

Meanwhile, long-unthinkable content has appeared on social media despite tough new rules against online hate speech.

Days ago, said Funke and news reports, an AfD local politician in Berlin’s multicultural Neukoelln district, Franziska Lorenz-Hoffmann, briefly posted a Nazi-era propaganda poster on Facebook that warned the “German woman” to “keep your blood pure”.

– ‘Groping migrant mobs’ –

AfD deputy leader Beatrix von Storch started 2018 by attacking police in the western city of Cologne for tweeting in Arabic, as well as in German, English and French, on New Year’s Eve.

“What the hell is going on with this country?” she wrote. “Did you mean to placate the barbaric, Muslim, gang-raping hordes of men?”

The comment pointed to mass sexual assaults there in 2016 by mostly North African men whom the far-right labelled “rapefugees”.

The inflammatory tweet was quickly taken down, while Cologne police filed a criminal complaint.

AfD parliamentary group leader Alice Weidel chimed in with a “solidarity tweet” about “marauding, groping migrant mobs”.

And AfD chairman Alexander Gauland charged that the new online “censorship law” amounted to “Stasi (secret police) methods” from the former communist East Germany, a region which is today the party’s heartland.

Another tweet, from AfD lawmaker Jens Maier’s account, defamed tennis legend Boris Becker’s adult son Noah as “a little half-negro”.

The tweet was deleted, and Maier apologised while insisting it was written by a staff member who no longer worked for him.

The party’s leadership warned Maier to take greater care in managing his employees.

Noah Becker filed a criminal complaint and his father demanded “consequences” in an article for a Sunday newspaper.

“That’s what they always do in the AfD, that’s their trick: put something out there, then distance yourself from it,” Becker charged.

– ‘Unleash aggression’ –

The AfD, formed in 2013 as an anti-euro party, two year later shifted course to capitalise on fears about a mass influx of more than one million asylum seekers to Germany, while demanding “Merkel must go”.

It won almost 13 percent of the vote on September 24, the strongest showing for a far-right party in the post-war era.

There has been no sign of voters deserting the AfD after using it to register discontent with the leftward drift of Merkel’s Christian Democrats at the election, as some political observers had speculated.

A new poll this week by Spiegel Online gave it 14.7 percent support.

In a country that has long struggled to deal with its collective guilt over the Nazi era and the Holocaust, the taboo-breaking new extremists have reawakened deep fears about rising xenophobia and race hate.

Berlin daily Tagesspiegel said “the worst thing is that, the more AfD officials say such things, the more quickly they become normal. The outrage wears off, and at some point there will no longer be an outcry.”

Robert Vehrkampf of think-tank the Bertelsmann Foundation called the AfD a generally right-wing populist party that “breaks taboos in a calculated way to reach right-wing extremist voters”.

Funke said the recent hardline tweets “did not happen because someone’s computer mouse slipped, they were calculated”.

“Their idea is we unleash the aggression, we want to integrate the far-right, the neo-Nazis, into our party.”

by Frank ZELLER

A Chinese Empire Reborn By Coercion, Force and Power

January 6, 2018

Outrage as Danish MP calls for Muslims to worship in warehouses

January 5, 2018

Danish People’s Party leader Kristian Thulesen pictured at the Danish Parliament Building in Copenhagen in December, 2015. A party spokesman said Muslim worship was “fine” if the praying ritual takes place in “normal buildings without minarets”, such as “offices or warehouses.” (Reuters)

LONDON: The Danish People’s Party (DPP) has sparked outrage by calling for Muslims to move their worship to “unmarked” buildings.

The right-wing party’s spokesperson, Martin Henriksen, told Arab News, Muslim worship is “fine” if the praying ritual takes place in “normal buildings without minarets”, such as “offices or warehouses.”
“We take a stand against the divisive symbolism of traditional mosques,” Henriksen said. “We stand against those who try to divide themselves from society,” the MP added.
Henriksen said he was “not against Muslims or Islam” and that individuals should be free to practice their faith as long as they abide by the rules of the “Danish constitution.”
The populist, anti immigration DPP on Thursday called for a ban on the construction of new mosques, as part of a plan to tackle “ghettos” in the country. Other measures unveiled in the package include an 8 p.m. curfew for young people.
Henriksen confirmed that the DPP, which is the second largest party in the Danish parliament, aims to ban the construction of mosques in cities where there are “social problems.”
The Danish MP’s rhetoric is redolent of the 2009 Swiss minaret referendum, the federal popular initiative in Switzerland, which successfully prevented the construction of Mosque minarets in the country.
The Swiss government opposed the ban, saying it would harm the nation’s image, particularly in the eyes of Muslims.
But Martin Baltisser, the Swiss People’s Party general secretary, told the BBC at the time: “This was a vote against minarets as symbols of Islamic power.”
Chris Doyle, director of CAABU, Council for Arab British Understanding, told Arab News: “This is a lop-sided view. What about churches or Hindu temples? All these can also been as symbols of different religions living peacefully and cohabiting and assimilating well. It’s wrong to point out mosques and make Muslims feel like they are third class citizens. A minaret is something that shouldn’t be seen as wrong or divisive in any way shape or form.”
He continued: “As if not building mosques would in any way resolve the problem. This problem is not about mosques … and this rhetoric is pandering to a populist ethos which is anti-Muslim. (The DPP’s proposal is) completely counterproductive and wrong at every level.”
Doyle added: “It will only exacerbate hate crime and bigotry which is growing in Europe. There are concerns about mass immigration into the EU and legitimate worries about extremist attacks in Europe, but none of that warrants the stopping of building mosques.”
Shaista Aziz, a journalist and founder of the Everyday Bigotry Project, told Arab News: “Why should mosques not look like mosques? Freedom to worship is a basic human right and should be afforded to all citizens including Muslims. It appears Denmark wants to go down the same road as France and push Muslims into unmarked buildings – the only thing this does is create further alienation of a marginalized community and create further hostility at a time of rising open racism and anti Muslim sentiment in Europe.”
The DPP is a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group in the European Parliament, which includes center-right parties like the UK’s ruling Conservative Party.
Doyle added that the Conservatives should “seriously question” being allies in the European Parliament with a party which has such extremist views.
Benjamin Martill, Dahrendorf Fellow in Europe after Brexit at LSE, told Arab News: “The sources of these policies are not difficult to discern. Communities across Europe, reeling from years of wage stagnation and austerity-induced cuts to public services, are looking for someone to blame. Blaming immigrants, Muslims and other nations for society’s problems is scapegoating, pure and simple.”
Martill said the implications for the Conservative party are ‘interesting.’
The LSE fellow said that to suggest the Conservative party would endorse any such policy is “clearly very far fetched.”
He said: “Whilst the statements of some Conservative backbenchers do express nationalist and sometimes Islamophobic sentiments, these are generally in the minority, and tend to be quite indirect. Amongst all her bluster about a “great global Britain,” Theresa May’s statements … have been very supportive of Britain’s multicultural heritage.”

US: Muslims to become second-largest religious group

January 5, 2018

Al Jajeera

Image may contain: 1 person, closeup

About 3.45 million Muslims were living in the US in 2017, representing 1.1 percent of the population [Julie Jacobson/AP]

Muslims are expected to become the second-largest religious group in the United States after Christians by 2040, according to a new report.

There were 3.45 millions Muslims living in the US in 2017 representing about 1.1 percent of the total population, a study by Pew Research Center found.

At present, the number of Jewish people outnumber Muslims as the second-largest religious group but that is expected to change by 2040 because “the US Muslim population will grow much faster than the country’s Jewish population”, the report said.

How many Muslims are there in the US? As of 2017, 3.45 million (or 1.1% of total population), according to new @pewresearch estimates.

Jews outnumber Muslims in the US today, but by 2040, Muslims are projected to outnumber Jews.

View image on Twitter

American Muslims will total 8.1 million, or 2.1 percent, of the population by 2050.

The number of followers of Islam in the US has grown at a rate of about 100,000 per year because of the migration of Muslims and higher fertility rates among Muslim Americans, Pew Center found during its demographic and survey research.

“Since our first estimate [2007] of the size of the Muslim American population, the number of US Muslims has been growing rapidly,” it said.

Christianity is by far the largest religion in the United States with different denominations representing about 71 percent of the population.

Total American Muslim population share projected to grow

Muslim Americans and US liberal values

Muslim Americans and US liberal values


Turkey brain drain: Crackdown pushes intellectuals out — Erdogan’s Folly — Exodus from the country’s secular side

December 28, 2017
University students and academics protest in Ankara on 22 September 2016
The dismissal of university students has led to protests across Turkey. Getty Images

Bulent Somay didn’t choose to leave – he feels Turkey pushed him out.

The 61-year-old professor packed his life into a dozen boxes, bade farewell to his students at Istanbul’s Bilgi University and moved to a new teaching position in Brussels, where he believes he’s no longer at risk.

He is just one of a growing brain drain of those opposed to Turkey’s direction.

“We’re not even feeling safe during lectures anymore”, he said, clearing the shelves in his Istanbul apartment.

“We have to watch what we’re saying. Some students record you and you see it on pro-government media – that you’re insulting the president. You write something and you start getting threats and insults.”

He stacked another box with his prized academic books, deciding which of his 2,000 he would take.

“I used to have a very healthy relationship with my religious students,” he recalled. “But now they feel they’re the elite and we’re the pariah. Years ago, they were trying to get power. Now they have it, they’re questioning our right to share it.”

Turkish academic Bulent Somay
Image caption“We have to watch what we’re saying,” says Mr Somay, who is leaving Turkey

Bulent Somay is one of 1,128 academics who signed a petition in 2016 calling on Turkey’s government to cease armed conflict with Kurdish militants.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused them of treason. A pro-government mafia boss warned he’d “spill their blood and bathe in it”. The scholars’ universities duly expelled them.

Those who could are leaving Turkey. Others are on trial for “terrorism propaganda”.

Since the failed coup of July 2016, in which more than 260 people were killed, a wave of emigration from Turkey has quickened. The post-coup clampdown has seen 60,000 people arrested and 150,000 suspended or dismissed.

Not only academics are leaving

As well as intellectuals, there’s a broader exodus from the country’s secular side, as the grip of religious nationalism grows tighter. There are no official statistics on the migration flow. But through our research, we collected some examples.

Since the Kurdish petition was signed in 2016, 698 Turkish academics have applied to the New York-based organisation Scholars at Risk to be moved abroad to a safe position.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a ceremony in Ankara, Turkey, December 21, 2017
Thousands of people have been targeted by a crackdown after a failed coup attempt in 2016. Reuters

In the past five years, 17,000 Turkish nationals came to Britain, UK Home Office figures showed. The German Statistics Office says around 7,000 Turks have moved to Germany during that period and about 5,000 have moved to France, according to the French Interior Ministry.

Others are looking for an alternative way out.

Among them are more than 4,500 Turks of Jewish descent, who have applied to Spain and Portugal for nationality – a considerable proportion of Turkey’s small Jewish population.

The two countries are offering nationality to atone for the expulsion of Iberian Jews during the 15th Century Inquisition, when the Ottoman Empire absorbed a large number. Many more non-Jewish Turks are also trying to move there.

Where are they going?

Number of Turks who emigrated in the past five years

  • 17,000 to the UK
  • 7,000 to Germany
  • 5,000 to France

No Jewish applicant whom we spoke to was willing to go on the record. Indeed, few of those trying to leave Turkey at all, or indeed critics of the government, are now ready to give interviews – a sign of the climate of fear that’s engulfed the country.

We spoke to one man moving his whole family to Spain, on condition we withheld his name. “It breaks my heart that I’m leaving – but I can’t breathe here anymore,” he said.

“My thoughts are not wanted; the way I want to live is not wanted. We now have to choose a side. If it’s not the right side, your business won’t grow or you can’t express your feelings – otherwise you’ll have trouble. You need to be Muslim, Sunni and pro-government.”

I asked if it was his Jewishness or his criticism of the government that’s made him feel a target. “Both”, he replied. “When I say I’m Jewish, I’ve heard many times: ‘you describe yourself as a Jew – not a Turk?'”

Buying your way in

More people still are moving to Greece. Turks now rank third in buying property there to get residency: in the past four years, the Greek government said 430 Turkish nationals have been granted a so-called Golden Visa by purchasing property of €250,000 (£221,000; $296,000) or more.

The price is €350,000 in Portugal or Spain, which grants nationality in return – another reason behind the surge in Turkish applicants there.

Activist Nejat Tastan: “Turkey is targeting human rights defenders”

Selcen Turk, a Turkish estate agent in Athens, took me around an apartment with a view of the Acropolis that she recently sold to a Turkish family. Last year, she showed three properties a month to Turks. Now it’s three a week.

“People don’t feel safe in their country anymore regarding human rights, democracy and justice”, she said. “They feel here that there is real democracy and freedom”.

That is what those leaving believe Turkey now lacks: even the aim of striving for the Western-style democracy it once craved. Perhaps allowing the critics to go handily removes the checks and balances on a government many feel is increasingly authoritarian.

A man holds up a placard as people demonstrate in support of Turkish daily newspaper Zaman in Istanbul on 4 March 2016
Press freedom has also been under threat in Turkey, activists say. AFP

Turkey has seen migration waves in past decades: hundreds of thousands moved to Germany in the 1960s as so-called guest workers, filling the post-war need for cheap labour. Some of them returned as Turkey’s economy boomed, feeling at home under Mr Erdogan’s pious government.

But it’s the other side of the population now leaving in ever-greater numbers: the liberals, the intellectuals and the well-to-do.

And in years to come, Turkey will count the cost of losing so many.

Bangladesh activist arrested on ‘anti-Islam’ charges

December 26, 2017


© AFP/File | Rights groups have accused the Bangladesh government of targeting atheist bloggers who have used social media to criticise religion

DHAKA (AFP) – Bangladesh police arrested a 25-year-old social media activist as he tried to leave the country on charges that he defamed Islam and the Prophet Mohammed, authorities said Tuesday.Immigration police detained Asaduzzaman Noor, known as Asad Noor on his Youtube channel, at Dhaka airport on Monday evening, inspector Mohammad Shahidullah told AFP.

“The charge against him is that he hurt religious feeling by mocking Prophet Mohammed and made bad comments against Islam, the prophet and the Koran on Facebook and Youtube,” he said.

Shahidullah said hundreds of Muslims staged demonstrations against Noor this year in the southern coastal town of Amtali after the head of an Islamic seminary filed a case against him.

Noor was charged under Bangladesh’s strict internet laws and could face up to 14 years in jail if found guilty.

Rights groups have accused the Bangladesh government of muzzling dissent and targeting atheist bloggers who have used social media to criticise religion.

In 2013, four Bangladeshi bloggers were arrested after nationwide protests in which Islamic groups demanded the execution of atheist commentators. They were later freed.

In recent years, atheist and secular voices have been targeted by Islamist extremist groups, who have hacked to death a dozen bloggers, publishers and activists, and forced others to flee overseas.

Following the attacks, the government launched a crackdown on extremist groups.

In July last year however militants stormed a Dhaka cafe and massacred 22 hostages, including 18 foreigners, in an assault claimed by the Islamic State group. Security forces have since killed more than 70 alleged militants.

Netanyahu: Abbas Again Proves Palestinians Are the Ones Who Don’t Want Peace

December 24, 2017

Palestinian president said Friday that he would not accept any American peace initiative due to Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

By Noa Landau Dec 24, 2017 12:27 PM

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the weekly cabinet meeting, December 24, 2017.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the weekly cabinet meeting, December 24, 2017. Amir Cohen/AP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has again proved that Palestinians are the ones who do not want to find a solution to the Middle East conflict.


Abbas came out Friday against the American peace initiative and said the Palestinians would not accept any plan made by the Americans due to U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a move that was widely rejected by the world in a UN vote Thursday.

In a Christmas letter to Christians, Abbas wrote that the Palestinians will not “accept any plan from the U.S.” due to the White House’s “biased” support of Israel and its settlement policy. He also said the American plan “is not going to be based on the two-state solution on the 1967 border, nor is it going to be based on international law or UN resolutions.”

“Abbas declared he was abandoning the peace process and did not care which proposal the United States brings to the table,” Netanyahu said at the weekly cabinet meeting. “I think that once again, something clear and simple emerges: The Palestinians are the ones who do not want to solve the conflict.”

Netanyahu added that the “United States said another very important thing: The roots of the conflict are not in Israel, but in Iran and with radical Islam and the terror that it propagates.”


Noa Landau
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When the Fear of Muslims Leads Jews to Whitewash the Far Right

December 23, 2017

The same vitriolic language pre-war anti-Semites used about Jews is now being used against Muslims in today’s Austria. Both the far right and centrist parties want Jews to join an ‘enlightened’ Judeo-Christian front against the Muslim ‘other’

By Farid Hafez Dec 22, 2017 2:28 PM

Anti-Muslim protestors hold up a sign depicting 'Islam: The suicide of Europe' during a demonstration of PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West) in Dresden, eastern Germany. Oct. 5, 2015

Anti-Muslim protestors hold up a sign depicting ‘Islam: The suicide of Europe’ during a PEGIDA demonstration in Dresden, eastern Germany. Oct. 5, 2015 AP Photo/Jens Meyer

“In Austria today, the real anti-Semitic threat is from Muslims, not Nazis,” argues Martin Engelberg, one of Austria’s first Jewish post-war members of parliament, who ran for the Liste Sebastian Kurz, the new name for the former Christian Democratic Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP). In reply, Benjamin Guttmann, from the Austrian Union of Jewish Students argued, why the FPÖ is still anti-Semitic to its core.

Let me go a step further and discuss the structural problem of racism we currently have to face in Austria.

The world knows that it took Austria an especially long time to acknowledge its crimes during World War II and to relinquish its self-declared status as Hitler’s ‘first victim’.

A supporter of the far right Freedom Party waits for party leader Hans-Christian Strache to appear at the election party in Vienna, Austria, Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017
A supporter of the far right Freedom Party waits for party leader Hans-Christian Strache to appear at the election party in Vienna, Austria, Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017AP Photo/Ronald Zak

But the structural challenge of racism even goes beyond the Nazi regime. And it is far from confined to the right-wing political camp or, in other words today’s far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ), as Austrians would like to believe.

Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are both part and parcel of Austria’s long history of nationalism and racism. When, in 2005, the Heinz-Christian Strache’s FPÖ declared during a blatantly anti-Muslim election campaign, that “Vienna shall not become Istanbul”, many commentators caught a reference to a similar slogan from the 1990s.

Then, the same FPÖ – then under the leadership of Jörg Haider – campaigned under the slogan, “Vienna shall not become Chicago”, a snide reference to the assumed image of a multicultural American metropolis characterized by drug-dealing African-Americans.

But going back further in history offers another highly relevant reference. The most (in)famous fin-de-siecle mayor of Vienna, Karl Lueger, declared that “Vienna shall not become Jerusalem”. Lueger, an inspiration to Adolf Hitler, was one of the most populist anti-Semites. Neither was he a Völkisch nationalist, nor a Nazi, but a representative of the Christian Social Party, which is in ideological terms the forerunner of today’s Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP).

Anti-Semites warned of the Jews forming a “state within a state”, warned of the dangers of kosher food, and argued that Jews should speak German in their sermons, since they were suspicious about what they were speaking about “amongst themselves”.

Anti-Nazi protesters outside the house where Adolf Hitler was born, which authorities decided in 2016, after years of bitter legal wrangling, to demolish to stop it becoming a neo-Nazi shrine. Braunau Am Inn, Austria. April 18, 2015
Anti-Nazi protesters outside the house where Adolf Hitler was born. Authorities ordered its demolition in 2016 so it wouldn’t become a neo-Nazi shrine. Braunau Am Inn, Austria. April 2015AFP PHOTO / JOE KLAMAR

Similarly today, the FPÖ and the ÖVP coalition government’s program argues that they will launch a surveillance campaign over the “parallel society” of Muslims. Islamophobic populism against halal food and to force German-language sermons in mosques is commonplace in Austria’s political discourse today.

Today, more than ever, Austrian Jews should see the danger of this reincarnated racist discourse that construes national identity no more along the lines of racial identity, but along an ‘enlightened’ Judeo-Christian identity vs. the religious Muslim ‘other’. While this essentially racist discourse has been located on the far right for quite some time, today it has become mainstream to such an extent that even nominally centrist political parties are using it against the invented Muslim scapegoat.

Engelberg is right in one aspect. We should not fixate on the Holocaust period alone. Yes, we should even go beyond the Holocaust and see what enabled the Holocaust. We should identify the structural dimension of racism and its reoccurrence in our days with a different language, but similar structures. Perhaps the FPÖ is currently not openly endorsing anti-Semitism, but it’s never going to be far from its strategic aims.

Anti-Muslim campaign posters of the far-right Swiss People's Party:'Stop - Yes to the ban on minarets'. November 23, 2009
Anti-Muslim campaign posters of the far-right Swiss People’s Party:’Stop – Yes to the ban on minarets’. November 23, 2009. AFP

Indeed, one strategy it’s used is to try and co-opt part of the Jewish community to lobby other Jews. During a visit to Israel by Strache and numerous other right-wing parties, Kent Ekeroth, from the right-wing Sweden Democrats, openly said to his Israeli far right peers: “We have a problem with Jewish organizations in Europe. Pressure from Israel can help us, in the long-term, legitimize our parties in Europe.”

The inclusion of Jews and Israel can only happens with the backdrop of the imagined Muslims as the enemy, not to save a single national identity, but for the sake of a supranational European nationalist identity for which it is opportune to include Jews for the time being. But the ar right’s deeply racist ideology still sees the Jew through stereotypical prejudice, as even this statement by Ekeroth reveals in his reference to the idea of a ‘powerful Jewish state of Israel’ which pulls the strings elsewhere.

There  is surely anti-Semitism as much as other forms of exclusion within Austria’s Muslim community. But to fear the anti-Semitism of this marginalized and often discriminated-against comunity, while whitewashing the racist far-right, is not only dangerous; it is a license to further exploit Islamophobia by both ruling parties, the Freedom Party as well as Sebastian Kurz’s ÖVP.

Farid Hafez is a Senior Research Scholar at Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative and Senior Scholar at Salzburg University in the Department of Political Science and Sociology. He is the editor of the Islamophobia Studies Yearbook and co-editor of the European Islamophobia Report. Twitter: @ferithafez

Farid Hafez
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Iraqis denounce anti-indecency edict in Shiite holy city

December 23, 2017


© AFP | Iraqis walk past a shop selling women’s clothes in Karbala on December 22, 2017

Residents in Iraq’s Shiite holy city of Karbala have denounced a local decision that could soon see salesmen in trouble for displaying female mannequins in anything but Islamic clothing.

Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed and an important figure in Shiite Islam, is buried in Karbala.

Posters warning against indecent behaviour have been plastered around the city as part of the application of a 2012 provincial council decision to uphold its “holy character”, council member Nasser Hussein al-Khozali said.

The signs warn residents against “shockingly displaying women’s clothes”, as well as “selling indecent films” and airing “music or indecent words in public places”.

The posters, signed by an “implementation committee for the decision on Karbala’s holy character”, warn that sanctions will be taken against offenders.

Not everyone is the city supports the decision, however.

“Listening to music is part of personal freedoms,” said taxi driver Majah Hassan, as a song belted out of his car radio.

“Nobody can forbid it as I’m not harming anyone by doing it.”

Inside a shopping centre, women’s clothes salesman Ahmad Hussein railed against a decision that he said infringed freedoms and hurt business.

“The provincial council would do better fixing the roads and improving public services,” he said.

The head of a civil society association said the council decision was no different from the harsh rules imposed by Islamic State group jihadists on areas they controlled until their defeat in Iraq earlier this month.

“This kind of decision, which is allegedly based on religion, is in fact no different from IS ideology,” Ehab al-Wazarni said.

Hadi al-Mussawi, also an activist, said the move “aimed to garner votes in the elections” for parliament in May.

After seizing control of second city Mosul in 2014, IS prohibited shopkeepers and street vendors from displaying women’s clothing on mannequins.

Several Shiite armed groups also imposed the rule in southern Iraq at the height of the sectarian violence that followed the 2003 US-led invasion of the country.

The Trump Doctrine: American Interests Come First

December 20, 2017

US President Donald Trump speaks about his administration’s National Security Strategy at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, DC, Dec.18, 2017. (AFP)

By ARTHUR HERMAN December 19, 2017 2:55 PM


The president recognizes important new realities in world affairs. Ever since Donald Trump took office, Americans have wondered if he has a coherent vision of America’s place in the world, or if he sees foreign affairs the way he sees Twitter: as a space where emotion and instinct roam free from the restraints of rational discourse. Now we have an answer.

The speech he gave Monday at the Reagan Center was the curtain-raiser for his new National Security Strategy, a 55-page document that gives us more insight into Trump’s view of the world than has any text since his speech to the U.N. in July — and a far more comprehensive insight than we’ve ever had before.

The Trump Doctrine can now be summed up as follows: America and American interests will always come first, globalist agendas second. But don’t think you can cross us, or our allies, with impunity. America’s not looking for trouble, but if you come after us or them, we will hurt you like hell.

Various commentators have remarked on the four vital national interests, or pillars of the National Security Strategy, that Trump listed: protect the homeland, the American people, and American way of life; promote American prosperity; preserve peace through strength; advance American influence in the world (Trump’s version of soft power). Also widely covered is that he named China and Russia as strategic competitors (China was mentioned 22 times), argued that economic security is part of national security, mentioned climate change as a security threat, and pushed American “energy dominance” as a tool for foreign-policy leverage.


Many have further highlighted the president’s concept of “principled realism” in foreign affairs: “realist” because it acknowledges the central role of power in international politics, and affirms that strong and sovereign states, including our own, are the best hope for a peaceful world; and “principled” because the Trump Doctrine is ultimately grounded in advancing American principles, which are the conduits for spreading peace and prosperity around the globe.

But it’s important not to miss the broader philosophical underpinning of the Trump Doctrine, which is that we live in a world where competition is natural, especially among the great powers. Nothing separates him and his foreign-policy team from his liberal critics, and many of his presidential predecessors, more than this assumption — which certainly reflects his experience in the business world, where battling rivals for dominance and market share is a way of life.

According to the Trump Doctrine, America can work with Russia and China on matters of common interest, such as the war with radical Islam. But friction and conflicting interests are inevitable; the purpose of diplomacy is to keep that friction from spilling over into armed conflict, but the job of a president — like that of a CEO of a Fortune 500 company — is to keep America on top.

Indeed, according to the National Security Strategy, “an America that successfully competes is the best way to prevent conflict.”

For the last 100 years, America has had to confront foes driven by ferocious and vicious ideologies — Fascism, Nazism, Communism, radical Islam.

We’ve responded by trying to give the world an ideological counter-scaffolding, whether it was Wilsonism or Progressivism or neoconservatism or compassionate conservatism.

For 100 years, America has found itself forced to think and act in global terms, seeking to create and sustain a world order based on democracy and free trade and collective security — and ending up doing most of the heavy lifting.

Now, Trump states, “we . . . understand that the American way of life cannot be imposed on others, nor is it the inevitable culmination of progress.” This not a formula for isolationism. Instead of either withdrawing from the world or taking on the role of “globocop,” under the Trump Doctrine the U.S. will pursue what we can call transactional engagement: focusing on what America can, and can’t, do to help itself as well as to help others, and moving away from trying to shape a global vision.

A new era of international anarchy is coming. Everywhere we look, the liberal international order that every president since Woodrow Wilson has tried to establish and prop up is coming to an end.

The Trump Doctrine recognizes this reality: that a new era of international anarchy is coming, where every nation-state, including the U.S., will have to rely on its own military and economic strength, diplomacy, and alliances for its security. It’s not a world that will make liberals or globalists or even many conservatives very happy. But paradoxically, it’s a world that will have more stability and predictability in international affairs than we’ve seen in a century.

The Trump Doctrine tries to see this world for what it really is, not what we think it should be — and that’s an important step forward.

— Arthur Herman is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and author of 1917: Lenin, Wilson, and the Birth of the New World Disorder, released by Harper Collins on November 28.

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