Beirut

Marine le Pen tells Muslim cleric to stick it when asked to wear head scarf

An aide of Lebanon’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdel-Latif Derian, left, offers a headscarf to French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, right.

Marine le Pen has told a Muslim cleric to shove it when she was asked to wear a head scarf in order to meet him:

Marine Le Pen, the National Front leader, has provoked a row by refusing to wear a headscarf to meet an eminent Islamic scholar in Beirut.

The French far-right presidential candidate walked out of the offices of Sheikh Abdel-Latif Derian, the grand mufti of Lebanon, after being told she could not see him unless she covered her head.

The incident is likely to bolster Ms Le Pen’s popularity among National Front supporters, many of whom are hostile towards Islam. But it may undermine her attempt to portray herself, during a two-day visit to Lebanon, as a serious future world leader, not least because the trip included her first meeting with a head of state — President Aoun.   Read more »

Rachel Smalley thinks white privilege causes journalists to commit crimes

Rachel Smalley is consumed by guilt. She writes a cri de coeur about how white privilege is causing journalists to commit crimes.

But first she thinks it is the audience’s fault for daring to watch what they serve up. She thinks it is the viewers’ fault, not the networks.

You may have heard over the weekend the Australian 60 Minutes crew gave an interview after arriving home from Lebanon.

Journalist Tara Brown spoke about the botched attempt to snatch two children from their Lebanese father so they could return to Australia with their mother.

And judging by the interview, the 60 Minutes crew and broadcaster Channel 9 believe they were in the right. Still. They still believe that.

What happened in Lebanon – in part – is the result of a contracting media.

Budgets have been slashed, current affairs programmes are doing what they can to survive, but inevitably corners are cut. Decisions are made in lieu of comprehensive risk assessments because the push is on to make top-rating TV, and make no mistake, this was a story that would have made great TV.   Read more »

Face of the day

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Afghanistan’s cosmopolitan new first lady, Rula Ghani (pictured), has backed France’s controversial ban on the niqab

Rula Ghani is one amazing lady. She is a Christian in a Muslim Country and she is standing up for women’s rights. She couldn’t do it without the support of her husband and fortunately for her she has it.

France’s niqab ban is PRAISED by Afghanistan’s new First Lady as she begins campaigning for women’s rights in the country
Rula Ghani said the niqab and burqa prevent women from moving freely

Afghanistan’s cosmopolitan new first lady has backed France’s controversial ban on the niqab, comparing the full veil to ‘blinders’ as she prepares to campaign for more respect for women in her conservative adopted homeland.

Rula Ghani shocked Afghan observers earlier this year when she appeared with her husband during the country’s presidential campaign, a rare example of a political wife sharing the spotlight.

Now the Lebanese-American of Christian heritage is set to carve out a role for herself as the patriarchal and deeply Muslim nation’s first high-profile first lady.

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Wearing the full veil in public was banned by French law in 2011

In an interview with AFP at the presidential palace, Ghani, who speaks five languages, reminisced about her time as a student at the prestigious Sciences Po university in Paris which she attended during the late 1960s.
Wearing a vintage Hermes scarf over her hair, she recalled in fluent French that ‘all the young women at Sciences Po had their headscarves which they would wear as they stepped out of school’.

‘When issues began to arise around the veil and hijab in France, I was a little shocked, people seem to not have a very long memory.’

Wearing the full veil in public was banned by French law in 2011, igniting a fierce debate over the value of religious freedom against social cohesion.

Ghani said she supported the ban.

‘Regarding the French law against the niqab and burqa which prevent women from being able to move freely and see, because the niqab is a bit like blinders, I am in full agreement with the government of France,’ Ghani told AFP.
The banning of the rull veil in France ignited a fierce debate over the value of religious freedom against social cohesion

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Read more »

A glimmer of hope

As I read the below article I did not expect to be surprised, just sickened.Yet again I readied myself to read of the horrific acts of Islamic fundamentalists. What I read made me sick to my stomach but I did glimpse a tiny ray of hope.
Twice in the article it mentioned the local population refusing to do what the Islamic fundamentalists demanded.It was a passive protest but it was a protest nevertheless. A protest in the face of armed men. It made me think of this verse in the bible

They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. 7But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

 

 A cleric read the verdict before the truck came and dumped a large pile of stones near the municipal garden. Jihadi fighters then brought in the woman, clad head to toe in black, and put her in a small hole in the ground. When residents gathered, the fighters told them to carry out the sentence: Stoning to death for the alleged adulteress.

None in the crowd stepped forward, said a witness to the event in a northern Syrian city. So the jihadi fighters, mostly foreign extremists, did it themselves, pelting Faddah Ahmad with stones until her body was dragged away.

“Even when she was hit with stones she did not scream or move,” said an opposition activist who said he witnessed the stoning near the football stadium and the Bajaa garden in the city of Raqqa, the main Syrian stronghold of the Islamic State group.

The July 18 stoning was the second in a span of 24 hours. A day earlier, 26-year-old Shamseh Abdullah was killed in a similar way in the nearby town of Tabqa by Islamic State fighters. Both were accused of having sex outside marriage.

The killings were the first of their kind in rebel-held northern Syria, where jihadis from the Islamic State group have seized large swaths of territory, terrorizing residents with their strict interpretation of Islamic law, including beheadings and cutting off the hands of thieves.

The jihadis recently tied a 14-year-old boy to a cross-like structure and left him for several hours in the scorching summer sun before bringing him down — punishment for not fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The group has also brutalized Shiite Muslims and others whom it views as apostates. In neighboring Iraq, Islamic State militants have driven members of the Yazidi religious minority out of a string of towns and villages. Thousands of the fleeing Yazidis have been stranded on a mountaintop for days, a humanitarian crisis that prompted the U.S. to airlift aid to them this week.

On Friday, Kamil Amin, the spokesman for Iraq’s Human Rights Ministry, said hundreds of Yazidi women under the age of 35 are being held by the Islamic State group in schools in Iraq’s second largest city Mosul, which the militants captured in June.

The stonings in Syria last month were not widely publicized at the time, but in the following days three photographs appeared online which appeared to document the grisly spectacle and were consistent with other AP reporting.

The pictures posted on a newly-created Twitter account showed dozens of people gathered in a square, a cleric reading a verdict through a loudspeaker and several bearded men with automatic rifles either carrying or collecting stones.

“A married woman being stoned in the presence of some believers,” read the caption of the photographs on the Twitter account, which has since been suspended.

Abu Ibrahim Raqqawi, the activist who witnessed Ahmad’s stoning, said locals where angry to see foreign fighters impose their will on the community.

“People were shocked and couldn’t understand what was going on. Many were disturbed by the idea that Saudis and Tunisians were issuing (such) orders,” he said in an interview via Skype. Ahmad, he said, appeared unconscious, and he had overheard that she was earlier taken to a hospital where she was given anesthesia.

The stoning took place after dark, he said, at about 11 p.m. He could not see blood on the body because of the black clothes she was wearing. Ahmad did not scream or shake, and died silently. “They then took the dead body in one of their cars and left,” he said.

The two cases were first reported by the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which collects information through a network of activists around the country. Bassam Al-Ahmad, a spokesman for the Violations Documentation Center, a Syrian group that tracks human rights violations, also confirmed the stoning.

An activist based in the northern province of Idlib, who collects information from other activists in northern Syria, said Ahmad was a widow. A man who asked to be identified as Asad for fear of repercussions, said that in the other stoning, in Tabqa, residents also refused to take part, and that the act was carried out by Islamic State members.
The Islamic State group has “imposed incredibly restrictive rules on the civilian population which have served to make women and girls particularly vulnerable and to quite clearly discriminate against them,” she said, adding that the reports of the stoning were the first the group had received out of Syria.

“This is just a more sort of extreme manifestation of those restrictive rules which are all in violation of international” human rights law, she said.

Such acts have alarmed members of mainstream Syrian opposition groups fighting to remove President Bashar Assad from power since 2011.

These behaviors have nothing to do with the nature and mentality of Syrian society,” said Abdelbaset Sieda, a senior member of the main Western-backed Syrian National Coalition. He said the group had no official confirmation of the stoning cases although he did not rule it out. “We expect such acts to be carried out by the Islamic State,” he said.
-BEIRUT (AP)

A good politician

A straight forward apology and carrying the cost.

Iraq’s transport minister apologised for a row in which a Lebanese airliner en route to Baghdad was ordered to turn back mid-flight to pick up his son.

Hadi al-Ameri pledged to turn his son in if an Iraqi investigation found he had carried out any wrongdoing and insisted he would personally bear the costs of the Middle East Airlines flight having to turn around while travelling from Beirut to Baghdad.  Read more »

They never have before, why will they start now?

France reckons they will “stand” against instability in Lebanon. This is unlikely and if the Lebanese are smart they won’t rely of the word of the President of the Cheese Eating Surrender Monkeys, they tend to go backwards faster than an Argie Army.

France’s president pledged today that his country will stand against instability in Lebanon, two weeks after the assassination of a senior Lebanese intelligence official sparked clashes between pro- and anti-Syrian groups.

Later in Saudi Arabia, Francois Hollande held further talks on Syria with King Abdullah, whose country has been a leading supporter of the forces trying to overthrow Syria’s President Bashar Assad.

In Beirut, Hollande promised that Paris and the European Union will help Lebanon deal with an influx of more than 100,000 refugees who have fled the civil war in neighboring Syria.

“We are committed to give you guarantees regarding security, stability and unity of Lebanon,” Hollande told reporters after meeting President Michel Suleiman.