Greater Middle East
From Reuters, Dec. 8:
Gunmen killed two security officers when they opened fire on a guard post outside a prison in Jidda, the Interior Ministry said. Residents said terror suspects were believed to be held at the prison. Al Arabiya television quoted a security official as saying that two suspects were arrested after a car chase. The kingdom said last week that it had detained 136 suspected militants, including a would-be suicide bomber. Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz, the interior minister, said Monday that the militants, who included foreigners, were planning a series of suicide bombings and assassinations.
From Turkey's Zaman, Nov. 2:
A 92-year-old retired Turkish archaeologist has been acquitted in a rights trial in which she was accused of "inciting hatred by insulting people based on their religion.”
First this, from DPA, Oct. 25:
Police protection given to German MP in headscarf row
BERLIN - A female member of parliament from the Greens party has been given police protection after calling on Muslim women in Germany to give up wearing headscarves, a parliamentary spokesman said Wednesday. Turkish-born Ekin Deligoz has been subject to attacks in fundamentalist media in Turkey and Germany for her views and has also received a death threat.
Freedom's on the march in America's NATO ally and GWOT partner. Perhaps someone will have some well-chosen words for the current US president in the guestbook at Monticello. From the Al-Jazeera, Sept. 27:
A Turkish court has fined an elderly man 10,000 Turkish lira ($6,700) for criticising the prime minister in a visitors' book at the former home of Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey.
We generally agree with the thrust of leftist Israeli commentator Uri Avnery's argument here, but he makes a few glitches which are all the more embarrassing in a piece which attempts to set the historical record straight (and which actually calls out the Pope on a scholarly glitch). As the Catholic Encyclopedia informs us, Constantine was declared Caeser by his troops in 306, but did not actually become emperor of Rome unitl the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in October 312. But the more important matter is that Avnery overstates his case—and therefore risks delegitimizing it. It is true that Jews and Chrisitians were generally treated better in the medieval Islamic world than Jews and Muslims were in the contemporaneous Christian world. But the tolerance of dhimmis in the conquered territories doesn't mean those territories weren't conquered by the sword. Yes, when the Crusaders took Jerusalem in 1099, they carried out a general massacre of the populace, Muslims and Jews alike. In contrast, when the Muslims under Caliph Omar took Jerusalem in 638, there was no bloodshed. But this was only after an 18-month siege following the defeat of the Byzantine armies at the Battle of Yarmouk. Funny how the very same event is cited by those who wish to debunk the notion of Islam as a region of peace (e.g. the Islam: Spead by the Sword timeline at the pro-secular Iranian.ws wesbite). History, it seems, is in the eye of the beholder. From Media Monitors Network, Sept. 24:
You knew that it would. But an interesting glimmer of hope is that in Egypt, where Muslim-Coptic tensions have exploded into violence all too recently, both the Muslim Brotherhood and the Coptic hierarchy are urging people to chill out. In vivid contrast, of course, to the ever-predictable "al-Qaeda in Iraq." From MSNBC, Sept. 17:
Islamic militants vow war after pope comments
'We are afraid,' Middle East Christians say in face of continued Muslim fury,
CAIRO - Al-Qaida militants in Iraq vowed war on "worshippers of the cross" and protesters burned a papal effigy on Monday over Pope Benedict’s comments on Islam, while Western churchmen and statesmen tried to calm passions.