LCCC ENGLISH DAILY
Prayer: God deliver us from the traps of temptation
James 5-13″If any of you is in trouble let him pray. If anyone is flourishing let him sing praises to God.”
*God, provide us with the needed strength to overcome our mortal weaknesses and hold on to hope no matter how badly or strongly we are exposed to temptation.
* God, help us to keep ailments of doubt and suspicion far away from our hearts, minds and souls.
*God, bless us and absolve our sins. God, help us to be loving, compassionate, forgiving, peaceful and devoted.
*God, endow us with faith, patience and endurance. God, enlighten our minds and consciences with holiness and wisdom.
*God, open our eyes, cleanse our heart and make us feel your warmth and affection.
* God, we are weak, sinful, guilty, at fault and have committed too many wrongdoings.
*God, we ask You for leniency, forgiveness and we pledge to observe all the required penances and atonement.
*God, protect us from the scourges of selfishness, greed, jealousy, hatred, grudges and mortal earthly riches.
*God, guard us from evil thoughts and intentions. God, do not leave us to be a preys to our internal instincts and tendencies of delinquency.
*God, open our eyes and get us closer to your Holy Bible so we can understand your teachings and see your good ways of righteousness.
*God, grant us the needed resistance, so deep down we do not hold any grudge or hatred or malice against any person, especially against those who see us as an enemies and inflict on us harm, persecution and pain.
*God, help us to reconcile with all those whom we are in conflicts with.
*God, bless our families and enrich our minds and hearts with assets of caring and responsibility.
*God, help us to courageously witness for the truth, love and support all others, and to be messengers of peace, harmony, conciliation and reunification.
*God, help us not to be ourselves no matter how hard and challenging difficulties and hardships are.
*God, help us to remain, honest, transparent, sincere, loving, modest, meek and pure in both heart and soul.
*God, help us not to be deterred by or afraid under any given circumstances from the consequences of witnessing for what is ethical, holy, just, and righteous.
*God, You are our Father, our hope and our salvation.
*God, are kneeling at your feet, asking for mercy and forgiveness. God we are putting our lives, fate in your custody and between your blessed hands.
*God, we believe in your great mercy, judgment and wisdom. We are definite by the end you will not leave us preys to evil temptations that we fall in its trap.
*God Help us to overcome divisions, separations, fear, doubts and suspicions.
*God, I we are tired, weak, exhausted, vulnerable and no longer able to bear the torment of loneliness, deprivation, depression, nightmares and the sorrow of estrangement and feuding.
*God, we know You cannot be tempted by evil and that you tempt no one, but You allow temptation to occur. Help us to endure all trials of temptations.
*God, lead our steps and enlighten our hearts with your warmth. Open our eyes to see the way out of the temptations that we face.
*God: You said: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”. We are kneeling at your feet, have mercy on us.
Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on
Rewriting the History of Aiding Terrorism/Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al Awsat/February 14/15
The Muslim Brotherhood will never change/Mshari Al-Zaydi/Asharq Al Awsat/February 14/15
Lebanese Related News published on
Magnitude 3.9 Earthquake Jolts Lebanese Coast.
Former PM, Saad Hariri: Lebanon does not belong to any axis.
Politicians Commemorate 10th Assassination Anniversary of Hariri.
Lebanon does not belong to any axis: Hariri.
Impunity will not be tolerated: UN chief on Hariri anniversary.
Officials pay tribute to Hariri on death anniversary.
Salam, Berri discuss Cabinet voting system.
A Cabinet of greed in Lebanon.
Drug Factory Raided in Bekaa as Area of Security Plan Widens.
Berri Says Ministers Reckless Use of Jurisdiction Toppling Cabinet.
Security raids target town north of Baalbek.
Report: Sami Gemayel Steps Down as Coordinator of the Kataeb Party's Central Committee.
Anguished Family Meets Abducted Soldier on Outskirts of Arsal.
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
GCC Urges U.N. Chapter 7 Resolution in Yemen
One person shot in head, 2 police wounded at Copenhagen synagogue
Khamenei tells Zarif to speak softly to Kerry
Canada's Justice Minister Peter MacKay says Halifax plot would have been 'devastating' but no terror link.
1 dead, 3 wounded in shooting at Denmark Islam debate.
Kurds regain Syrian villages from ISIS: activists.
Iraqi Sunni tribal leader killed in Baghdad.
Assad part of solution in Syria: U.N. envoy.
Iraqi Sunni Tribal Leader Assassinated in Baghdad.
Outcry in Turkey as young woman murdered after attempted rape.
Iran negotiator told to control temper in talks with Kerry.
Shooting at Denmark cafe hosting 'Mohammad' cartoonist wounds 3.
Gunmen seize government buildings in Libya city of Sirte.
Shelling kills 2 in center of Ukraine rebel city Donetsk: AFP.
Russia accuses Ukraine, West of distorting peace deal.
Two Suicide Car Bombs Wound Six in Egypt's Sinai.
Jihad Watch Site Latest Reports
David Cameron on Denmark attack: “Free speech must always be protected”
Islamic State beheading people for smoking cigarettes
Islamic jihadists of Boko Haram launch first attack against Chad.
Robert Spencer at PJM: Who Is to Blame for the Chapel Hill Murders? The Anti-Muslim Hate Crimes Industry?
University of Texas-Arlington: Muslim student admits she made up story about being threatened at gunpoint.
Denmark: 3 cops shot at blasphemy debate featuring Muhammad cartoonist, one person killed.
Palestinian” government wants role in probing “terrorist” Chapel Hill murders.
Turkey: Police use water cannon on anti-Islamization protesters.
Question: "What should be the Christian view of romance?"
GotQuestions.org/Answer: Although there are no references to the word romance in the Bible, there are 281 mentions of love. Since the dictionary definition for romance is "ardent emotional attachment or involvement between people; a love affair," these two terms can sometimes be used interchangeably. But the true meaning of love, as defined in the Bible, has been corrupted in the common usage of our English language and society. Most often, love is confused with infatuation - that elated, "high" feeling we get when we "fall in love." This kind of "love" is something that lasts typically a short time and, unless replaced by true love, results in broken relationships.
The Bible covers two types of love: agape and phileo. Agape love is represented by God's love for us. It is a non-partial, sacrificial love best demonstrated by the gift in John 3:16. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life." This kind of love is unconditional. The "Love Chapter" in 1 Corinthians deals more explicitly with this. "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails" (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a). This passage is often quoted at weddings and other celebrations of love.
Agape is a connection through the spirit. A true manifestation of this requires a relationship with Christ. For without Him, agape love isn't exhibited in its truest form. We, as humans, can't reach this level alone. We need our Heavenly Father's Spirit in us, working through us. "The Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23). Only through that Spirit can we reach this goal.
The other kind of love, phileo, is considered "brotherly love." It is usually based upon how others treat us and our feelings in any given situation. It involves direct interaction and sometimes comes with a price tag of expectation, wanting something back in return. It's a demonstrative form of love offered through the soul. But, it's also a command from God. "Let us love one another, because love comes from God" (1 John 4:7).
Love is the attribute of God that means the most to us. If God didn't love us, whom He created, He would have traded us in for a better model long ago. Despite our many failures, God keeps working with us (Romans 5:8). Time and time again, despite His patience being tested, He demonstrates that love for His people. He only banned Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. He didn't take their lives. He spared the world because He found one man of upright faith in Noah. He rescued Lot from Sodom before destroying that city. He made Abraham the father of many nations and blessed him with his long-awaited son, despite Abraham's impatience when he fathered a son through his wife's servant.
In the same way God shows His love for us, He expects us to love Him totally and to show love toward each other. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself" (Luke 10:27). Jesus spoke these words when the Pharisees questioned Him about the greatest commandment of God. Although they tried to trick Him, Jesus didn't change the law; He fulfilled it. His sayings about love were not new. The emphasis was merely changed.
The relationships in our lives will either be governed by agape or phileo love. When thinking in terms of romance, we allow the manifestation of that agape love to pour out from our hearts. As a result, we are eager to do everything we can to please the other person and make that person happy. In a love relationship between a man and a woman, the romance is the physical evidence of the love that exists. When that relationship progresses to marriage, the love built between the man and woman only grows deeper as the bond is made stronger through the intimate union of body and soul. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). Biblical love elevates the husband's affections for his wife to the point of loving his wife "as his own body." It also instructs wives to submit to their husbands as the head of the household (Eph. 5:25-29). But submission doesn't mean subservience. On the contrary, when true agape love is manifested in the marriage, the two will act as one, and both will love the other as they love themselves. The tenderness and romance will come out of that love.
By far, the best book in the Bible on this romantic and agape type of love is the Song of Solomon. An oft-quoted and many times favorite of romantics, this book demonstrates the parallel between the agape love Christ has for His church and the deep, abiding love a husband has for his bride. The lover and beloved exchange dialogue with each other, and the beloved speaks with her friends. Every passage attests to the deep and abiding love between the lover and beloved. The two are so consumed with that love that it fills them and gives them strength to face each new day. They find comfort and solace in each other's arms and are incomplete without each other. Being together excites them, and when they're apart, they anticipate their reunion.
But, above everything else that is demonstrated in God's Word, it's important to keep in mind that love/romance is an action. It's not passive, and it's not a feeling. It's a verb. It requires you to do something in order to bring it to pass. It also requires that you put the other person's wants and desires above your own. Whenever you need a reminder, go back and read 1 Corinthians 13. And remember, you don't have to do it alone. God's Spirit will work through you. All you have to do is ask.
Recommended Resources: The Book of Romance: What Solomon Says About Love, Sex, and Intimacy by Tommy Nelson and Logos Bible Software.Software
Former PM, Saad Hariri: Lebanon does not belong to any axis
Hashem Osseiran/The Daily Star/Feb. 14, 2015
BEIRUT: Lebanon does not belong to any regional axis and has no right to interfere in the affairs of other countries, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri said Saturday, criticizing Hezbollah for involving the country in regional matters. But the Future Movement chief also underlined the importance of dialogue with his arch rivals, saying talks launched between the two parties in December were "serious." “Lebanon is not in an axis that extends from Iran to Syria to Palestine,” Hariri said at a ceremony in Beirut marking the 10th anniversary of the assassination of his father, former premier Rafik Hariri. “Lebanon is not in any axis and the Lebanese are not products to be used on anyone's table.” He said those behind the assassination of his father are still working 10 years after his death to kill his legacy of unity and coexistence. “We will not give up Hariri’s dream for Arab unity and the construction of a modern state," Hariri said.
"We are staring down a plan to clear out government and destroy its institutions. We are witnessing a marginalization of Lebanon in its regional and international relations. We are also facing economic turmoil," he added. But the Future Movement is working to counter these efforts to protect Lebanon, he said. Hariri noted the party's participation in the Lebanese Cabinet alongside its opponents, and its dialogue with Hezbollah. “It is urgent and it is a necessary Islamic need to deflate religious tensions.” “Defusing tensions is meant to evade a sectarian explosion.”This does not mean that differences are settled with regards to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, or Hezbollah's intervention in Syria or the issue of the state’s monopoly of arms, he added. Hariri said that he refuses turning Lebanon into a battlefield in order to save the Syrian regime and protect Iran's interests.
He also criticized Hezbollah for commenting on the events in Bahrain, which marked the 4th anniversary of its pro-democracy uprising Saturday. “Where is Lebanon’s interest in intervening in the internal affairs of Bahrain,” he asked, in reference to Hezbollah chief Hasan Nasrallah’s criticism of the Bahraini regime's crackdown on opposition activists and political leaders. "We came into dialogue to protect Lebanon because Lebanon is more important than us and more important them, as Hariri used to say: 'No one is greater than their country'.”
But he left his harshest criticisms for the Syrian President Bashar Assad, accusing him of "[breaking] the heads of the Syrian population,” and tying him to his father's assassination. "The assassination of [Rafik Hariri] was carried out after Assad threatened to break Beirut over his head, and the [STL] has been looking into this for weeks, and we have the utmost confidence that it will reach the right verdicts and we are sure that the blood of Hariri and March 14 martyrs will not go to waste," he said. He also said betting on the success of the Syrian government "is a delusion that is based on delusional victories."
“Hezbollah's intervention in Syria is insanity and Hezbollah has brought this insanity to Lebanon.”“Tying the Golan Heights to south Lebanon is insanity as well,” he said, in reference to Hezbollah's participation alongside Syrian troops in the battles against rebels in southern Syria.
Israel last month launched an airstrike on a Hezbollah convoy in the Golan Heights, killing six party members and sparking a retalition against an Israeli military convoy from southern Lebanon. Hariri urged Hezbollah to withdraw from Syria, saying Lebanon could no longer bear the consequences of the conflict's spillover. “We (March 14) are aware that there is no middleground between moderation and extremism, and there is no middleground between the Army and the militia, and there is no middleground between national unity and civil war,” he said. Hariri's speech was held at the Biel complex in Beirut where hundreds of his supporters turned out. The crowd erupted in a frenzy as Hariri made his way in to the auditorium. The throng of attendees yelled out “Abu Bahaa,” in reference to the late premier.
Hariri arrived in Beirut from his home in Riyadh overnight to participate in the event. Hariri's last visit to Lebanon was in August following the deadly clashes in the country's northeastern border town of Arsal. He has been living in self-imposed exile between France and Saudi Arabia since January 2011 over security concerns.
Politicians Commemorate 10th Assassination Anniversary of
Naharnet/14.02.15/Lebanon marks on Saturday the tenth anniversary of slain former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who was assassinated on February 14, 2005.
“They killed you, but they will never be able to kill your legacy,” Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea tweeted via his account on Twitter.
Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat, who was then close to Hariri, visited the grave of the former PM in downtown Beirut at the head of a delegation. He laid wreaths of red roses on the tomb of Hariri.
Head of al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc MP Fouad Saniora also visited the grave. Mustaqbal MP Ahmed Fatfat pointed out in comments to Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3) that the main reason behind the assassination of Hariri is his intention to restore Lebanon's unity, power and position in the region and the world. Canadian Ambassador Hilary Childs-Adams also laid a wreath on the grave of Hariri. Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh described the slain PM as “a man of vision and exceptional initiatives.”
Representatives of Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Tammam Salam and cabinet's Secretary General Suhail Bouji also laid a wreath on the grave of Hariri. All vehicles were removed from the streets leading to BIEL ahead of a rally set to be held at the venue to mark the assassination of Hariri.
A torch sculpture, that is part of a memorial that includes a statue of Hariri, was also lit near the St. Georges Hotel where the blast went off at exactly 12:55 pm, as Nazek Hariri, the wife of the slain PM, gave a recorded speech to commemorate the occasion. Banners hung along on the streets of Beirut in honor of the 10th anniversary show the late Hariri with the Arabic words: "Ten, one hundred, one thousand years: We will continue."
The massive explosion that tore through his convoy on the Beirut seaside 10 years ago sent a tremor across the region and unleashed a popular uprising that briefly united the Lebanese and ejected Syrian troops from the country. But a decade later, and despite millions of dollars spent, justice remains elusive in a case that has been overshadowed by more recent turmoil.
Five Hizbullah suspects are being tried in absentia by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon based in The Hague. The Feb. 14 assassination killed Hariri and 21 others and wounded more than 200 people, stunning a nation long used to violence. The charismatic billionaire businessman was Lebanon's most prominent Sunni politician. Although a divisive figure, he was credited with rebuilding downtown Beirut after the ravages of the 1975-90 civil war.
Lebanon PM, speaker discuss Cabinet voting system
The Daily Star/Feb. 14, 2015/BEIRUT: Prime Minister Tammam Salam and Speaker Nabih Berri discussed alternatives Saturday to the Cabinet’s unpopular decision-making system adopted last year as a result of the presidential vacancy. Salam left Berri’s residence without making a statement, but sources told OTV that during the meeting, Berri voiced his support for a system that would require regular draft laws to be passed in the Cabinet with a simple majority vote, and crucial decisions by a two-thirds vote. Berri met later in the day with Education Minister Elias Bou Saab. “What Berri is proposing is rational and falls in line with revitalizing Cabinet’s work,”Bou Saab said after the meeting. The Lebanese Constitution stipulates that in the case of a presidential vacuum, the president’s powers are transferred to the Cabinet. Since former President Michel Sleiman ended his term in May, draft laws have needed the unanimous support of all of the Cabinet's 24 ministers. Under this system, opposition to any law by even a single minister will prevent it from passing. The system has hindered the Cabinet's ability to pass laws on crucial issues over the past few months due to internal disagreements. Berri had expressed reservations in the past over the Cabinet’s current system. While most Cabinet ministers have voiced support for a change to the system, three ministers loyal to former President Michel Sleiman oppose it, and the three Kataeb Party ministers have expressed reservations.
Impunity will not be tolerated: UN chief on Hariri
The Daily Star/Feb. 14, 2015/BEIRUT: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Saturday sent a message condolences to the families of the victims of the Feb. 14, 2005 bombing that killed ex-Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 21 others. "On the 10th anniversary of the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 21 others who lost their lives on that day, the Secretary-General renews his condolences to the families of the victims of this terrorist attack," a statement from U.N. chief's press office said. "A decade on, the message remains that impunity will not be tolerated. The United Nations is committed to support the work of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, with the continued support and cooperation of the Government of Lebanon," it added. The U.N.-backed STL is investigating the massive downtown Beirut blast that targeted Hariri's convoy. Saad Hariri, also a former premier, traveled to Lebanon Saturday to give a speech at a ceremony commemorating the death of his father. Hariri has lived in self-imposed exile between Saudi Arabia and France since January 2011 over security concerns.
Security raids target town north of Baalbek
Nidal Solh| The Daily Star/Feb. 14, 2015/BAALBEK, Lebanon: Lebanese security forces carried out a fresh set of raids in the northern Bekaa Valley for a third straight day Saturday, pressing on with a major operation to round up suspected thieves and drug lords.
Security sources told The Daily Star that the security plan, launched on Thursday to restore law and order to eastern Lebanon, moved towards town of Maqneh, just north of Baalbek, after targeting the towns of Brital, Hor Taala, Doris and al-Hammoudieh a day earlier.
The Lebanese Army, backed by security forces, have cordoned off the town of Maqneh and erected numerous checkpoints along the town’s main road as well as secondary roads. Security forces are inspecting vehicles and checking motorists’ identification cards in the area, and have reinforced their positions in southern Baalbek. In a statement released Sunday, Internal Security Forces announced the arrest of four suspects in line with the security plan in the Bekaa Valley. The suspects are wanted over crimes mostly related to theft, forging money and weapons trade. The ISF also said that it seized two stolen cars. Also Sunday, the Lebanese Army raided a drug factory in the nearby town of al-Hammoudieh, seizing a quantity of drugs and manufacturing equipment, a statement said. Sunday's arrests bring to 70 the number of suspects rounded up since Thursday when the operation was launched by a joint security force comprised of the Army, police and General Security officers, according to official figures. The security forces started raiding houses in Maqneh at 4 a.m. Sunday, sources said. The raids were carried out in coordination with the respective municipalities. Sources said the Army is trying to create a security belt by erecting checkpoints at the main entrances to the Bekaa Valley. The Army Sunday reinforced its positions at the entrances to the towns of Brital, Hor Taala and Hijzine. On Friday, joint forces arrested 56 people after raiding the homes of fugitives in the northern Bekaa Valley, confiscating quantities of drugs and weapons. In a statement, the Army said the raids were concentrated in the Bekaa Valley towns of Baalbek, Brital, Hor Taala, Doris and al-Hammoudieh. Ten others were arrested one day earlier, a separate Army statement said, adding that it had recovered 18 stolen vehicles in raids in Brital and Hor Taala. The security plan will go on for several days until the area is “clear of any fugitives, outlaws or drug dealers,” Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said in a press conference from Brital Friday, adding that a permanent operations room had been established in the Bekaa to go after fugitives.
Anguished Family Meets Abducted Soldier on Outskirts of Arsal
Naharnet/The family of abducted soldier Abdul Rahim Diab revealed on Saturday that they visited him on the outskirts of the eastern town of Arsal, describing his condition as “tragic.”The family of Diab said in a statement that the visit occurred on Wednesday, refusing to disclose further details. “We will remain mum concerning the circumstances of the visit at the will of the follow up committee, in accordance with the secrecy policy (adopted by the cabinet) and in an attempt to maintain the lives of the kidnapped servicemen,” the statement said. Diab's mother called on Prime Minister Tammam Salam, General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim and Health Minister Wael Abou Faour to put negotiations on front burner. “My son's life is within your hands,” the mother pleaded. Last week, the relatives of the abducted servicemen retracted after meeting with Ibrahim threats to escalate their measures, stressing that negotiations with the Islamist gunmen are on the right track. However, they kept the door open for any escalation if the government neglected their case. Negotiations with the al-Qaida-affiliate al-Nusra Front and the IS became discrete after the government urged the families to remain mum about the mediation in the case to ensure the release of their sons.The policemen and soldiers were abducted by the Islamist gunmen in the wake of battles in the eastern border town of Arsal in August. A few of them have since been released, four were executed, while the rest are still being held. The hostage-takers had warned several times the Lebanese authorities that they would kill more captives if they did not meet their demands. Among their demands is the release of Islamist prisoners in Lebanon.
1 dead, 3 wounded in shooting at Denmark Islam debate
JAN OLSON/Associated Press/Feb. 14, 2015
COPENHAGEN: A gunman fired on a cafe in Copenhagen as it hosted a free speech event Saturday, killing one civilian and wounding three police officers, Danish police said. The event was organized by Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who has faced numerous threats after caricaturing the Prophet Mohammad. Danish police said the gunman shot through the windows of the Krudttoenden cafe, which the TV2 news channel said were riddled with some 30 bullet holes. Police spokesman Henrik Blandebjerg said three police colleagues at the event were also shot and wounded. Helle Merete Brix, one of the event's organizers, told The Associated Press that Vilks was at the meeting but was not hit. "I saw a masked man running past," Brix said. "I clearly consider this as an attack on Lars Vilks."
There was no immediate claim of responsibility. The attack came a month after Islamic militants attacked another media outlet that had printed Mohammad cartoons, the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine in Paris, killing 12 people. Vilks told The Associated Press after the Paris terror attacks that, due to increased security concerns, even fewer organizations were inviting him to give lectures. "I heard someone firing with an automatic weapons and someone shouting. Police returned the fire and I hid behind the bar. I felt surreal, like in a movie," Niels Ivar Larsen, one of the speakers at the event, told the TV2 channel. Brix said she was ushered away with Vilks by one of the Danish police guards that he gets whenever he is in Denmark. Danish police were looking for the perpetrators, who they said drove away in a dark Volkswagen Polo after the shooting shortly before 4 p.m. (1500 GMT, 10 a.m. EST). In a statement, Danish police said the victim was a 40-year-old man inside the cafe attending the event. He has not yet been identified. The cafe in northern Copenhagen, known for its jazz concerts, was hosting an event titled "Art, blasphemy and the freedom of expression" when the shots were fired. François Zimeray, the French ambassador to Denmark who was at the conference to speak about the deadly Charlie Hebdo attack, tweeted that he was "still alive. In a statement, French President Francois Hollande called the Copenhagen shooting "deplorable" and said Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt would have the "full solidarity of France in this trial."French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve was travelling to Copenhagen as soon as possible. Vilks, a 68-year-old Swedish artist, has faced several attempted attacks and death threats after he depicted the Prophet Mohammad as a dog in 2007.
A Pennsylvania woman last year got a 10-year prison term for a plot to kill Vilks. In 2010, two brothers tried to burn down his house in southern Sweden and were imprisoned for attempted arson. Last month, Vilks told the AP that he thought Sweden's SAPO security service, which deploys bodyguards to protect him, would step up his security. "This will create fear among people on a whole different level than we're used to," he said. "Charlie Hebdo was a small oasis. Not many dared do what they did."
Canada's Justice Minister Peter MacKay says Halifax plot
would have been 'devastating' but no terror link
The Canadian Press/By Alison Auld and Michael Tutton/
HALIFAX - Arrests by police that foiled an alleged plot to attack a public place in Halifax have averted a tragedy that would have been "devastating" for the city, Justice Minister Peter MacKay said Saturday. MacKay wouldn't say what public place was allegedly targeted to be attacked on Saturday, but he said all who are suspected of being involved are either dead or in police custody. Police wouldn't comment on charges but confirmed that all three suspects remained in custody. None of the allegations made by police or other officials about the case have been heard or proven in court. Asked about the motivation for the plan, MacKay said it was not linked to terrorism but he alleged it would have been a large attack. "What I can tell you is that this appeared to be a group of murderous misfits that were coming here or were living here and prepared to wreak havoc and mayhem on our community," he asserted at a news conference. "Make no mistake about it, there could have been a real tragedy and it would have marked our city and our province for ever."
Asst. RCMP Commissioner Brian Brennan said Friday night that a man who was found dead in a Halifax area home earlier in the day intended to go to a public place with a woman and open fire on citizens before killing themselves on Valentine's Day. Brennan said police received information from the public on Thursday morning of a weapons-related threat. The information suggested a 19-year-old Halifax area man and a 23-year old woman from Geneva, Ill., had access to firearms, said Brennan, the senior Mountie in Nova Scotia.
He also would not say which venue was being targeted, but the Associated Press reported, citing an unnamed police official, that the target was a shopping mall. Brennan said two other male suspects, ages 20 and 17, were also involved, although investigators were still trying to determine what their role was. MacKay said the site of the alleged attack has been notified and extra security measures have been taken. All events in the city are going ahead as scheduled on Saturday, he said. "The attack does not appear to have been culturally motivated, therefore not linked to terrorism," he said. The 19-year-old man and the 23-year-old woman may have been corresponding online, MacKay said. Brennan said firearms have been seized, although he could not say what kind, how many, or where the weapons were seized.
"The weapons seized had the ability to inflict a lot of casualties if used in a populated area," he added. Police say they found the 19-year-old man dead at a home in the Halifax area around 1:20 a.m. Friday.
Brennan would not elaborate on the circumstances surrounding his death, saying the issue has been referred to the province's Serious Incident Response Team, which reviews all serious incidents involving police in the province. A statement from the Serious Incident Response Team, known as SIRT, said police found the man dead when they entered the residence. A police official, who spoke anonymously because the official was not authorized to speak publicly, told The Associated Press the 19-year-old male shot himself to death after police surrounded his parent's home. The official said after police were tipped off about the plot they surrounded his home. Police saw his parents leave the house and called the man. As the man told police that he didn't have any guns and he was on his way out of the house he shot himself, the official said. Brennan said the 20-year-old man and 23-year-old woman were arrested around 2 a.m. at the Halifax airport. He said the woman was arriving on a plane and the man was there to meet her.
The 17-year-old boy was arrested around 11 a.m. in the Halifax area, he said.
What Actually Causes American Fear of Islam and Muslims?
Feb 13, 2015
Cross-posted from National Review Online, The Corner
An ambitious 81-page document, Fear, Inc. 2.0: The Islamophobia Network's Efforts to Manufacture Hate in America, just appeared from the Center for American Progress, a liberal Democratic organization. Unlike its first iteration, in which a group with a $40-million annual budget and deep ties to big business had the nerve to claim that seven much smaller institutions were overpowering the country through their financial clout, this one looks at what the alleged "Islamophobia network" actually does.
The report, written by Matthew Duss, Yasmine Taeb, Ken Gude, and Ken Sofer, makes for interesting reading. Its premise is that critics of Islamism (1) are really anti-Islamic and (2) have single-handedly distorted at the fundamental American value, namely a "basic respect for the rights of minority groups throughout the country." According to the CAP study, "the views of anti-Muslim actors stand in stark contrast to the values of most Americans."
By dint of hard work, however, "a well-funded, well-organized fringe movement can push discriminatory policies against a segment of American society by intentionally spreading lies while taking advantage of moments of public anxiety and fear." This effort "takes many shapes and forms": a general climate, cynical political efforts, and institutional policies. Despite some setbacks, continues the CAP narrative, the network's efforts "continue to erode America's core values of religious pluralism, civil rights, and social inclusion."
Those fingered as part of this network (I am one) should be perversely proud of our accomplishment: Just a handful of individuals lying manage to subvert a core American value – and all this with what CAP itself estimated to be less than $5 million a year!
But there is a more convincing reason why Americans fear Islam and Muslims. The news is filled almost daily and even several times daily with bulletins from one Islamist front or another. I hardly need rehearse the repertoire; just turn to the day's headlines. ISIS and the Charlie Hebdo-like massacre most dominate the news, but Islamists are all the time winning unfavorable attention for themselves by making aggressive cultural demands (say, wearing a face-covering burqa in the courtroom), pushing the superiority of Islam (don't dare say a negative word about Muhammad), or apologizing for some repulsive practice (such as honor killings or female genital mutilation).
Another way of putting it: the United States hosts about as many Buddhists and Hindus combined as it does Muslims. Yet, when did Buddhists or Hindus try to change the existing order or engage in violence on behalf of their faiths? Who ever hears about them? Who fears them? Maybe it's Islamists who are prompting powerful and spontaneous responses through their threatening behavior. Maybe we critics are not "intentionally spreading lies" but honestly interpreting Islamist aggression and supremacism. Maybe CAP and its ilk should blame the fear of Islam less on we critics and more on the Islamists themselves. (February 13, 2015)
Rewriting the History of Aiding Terrorism
Eyad Abu Shakra/Asharq Al Awsat
on : Saturday, 14 Feb, 2015
In 1992 I made my first visit to North Carolina, and Chapel Hill clearly stood out as its most charming town. I loved that little American “college town” which wasn’t much different from Europe’s beautiful university cities like Oxford, Leiden, Tubingen and Leuven (Louvain). Violence may be commonplace in many major metropolitan inner city neighborhoods in the United States but quite rare in places like Chapel Hill. Religious and racial bigotry may also exist in many parts of the “Old South” and “Bible Belt” but oases of tolerance and openness are emerging as some old provincial conservative cities, such as Atlanta (in Georgia) and Charlotte (in North Carolina), are fast becoming major national “cosmopolitan” urban centers.
In spite of this, given the current global political climate, I was neither surprised by the murder in Chapel Hill of the Syrian university student Deah Barakat, his Palestinian bride Yusor and her sister Razan Abu Salha (all Muslims), nor by the initial lukewarm media coverage of the crime. I would rather not fall victim to Islamophobia conspiracy theories; but it was noticeable that the initial media coverage of these murders was somewhat less enthusiastic than in similar crimes that happened in the US during the last couple of years.
This reminds me of something a British friend wrote to me recently, shortly after the appalling beheading of the two Japanese hostages Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). My friend, rightly angry and disgusted, called on the Muslim world to take a strong stance against ISIS savagery “before it is too late”; adding that what is being perpetrated in the name of Islam, from the ISIS slaughter of innocents to the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, was increasing anti-Muslim feelings. She said that it was “only a matter of time before we see these feelings expressing themselves as attacks targeting Muslims in the streets of the cities of the West”.
My friend may be right there, as I do not expect any ordinary citizen in the UK, France, the US or even Japan not to generalize in his or her condemnation [of Islam]. Not every person in these countries, as well as others, can be expected to be aware of our political grievances, or the misfortunes our countries suffered under foreign colonialism. Ordinary people analyze things as they see them. In the 21st century no sane individual should either tolerate slaughter in cold blood, or justifying such sick outrage.
Some may point to Hollywood’s old prejudices against Arabs and Muslims, and see its portrayal of them, still today, as being rarely accurate. American cinema has, for a long time, badly stereotyped them. Arabs and Muslims are usually portrayed as fanatics, greedy, lewd womanizers, and later, terrorists and murderers. The Academy award nominated American Sniper is the latest Hollywood production that some have felt underlines the negative or at least simplistic stereotypes regarding Arabs and Muslims. The Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) has criticized its release, saying that “it coincided with increased threats against Arabs and Muslims”.
Street mood aside, what is certainly no less dangerous is when political leaders espouse these stereotypes, and proceed to build these national strategies on them.
Last week I read that US President Barack Obama is pushing ahead to declassifying a section of the report into the September 11 attacks. President Obama is no doubt acting within his right, especially given that many Americans lost their lives and their loved ones in these attacks. What is certainly not right is for the US president to re-write history as he pleases, retrospectively.
Al-Qaeda, which President Obama accuses certain Arabs and Muslim of aiding and financing, was the fruit of a “common effort” and outcome of the “war to bring down the USSR” in Afghanistan. It is the legitimate heir of the Afghan “mujahideen”, who thanks to Western journalists and writers became “legends” of heroism propagated and promoted all over the world, including America and Europe, in books films and media articles.
It is inconceivable that the US, with all its universities, research centers, experts and spies, suddenly “discovered” how dangerous fundamentalist Sunni Islam is. It is also difficult to imagine that Western pragmatism was shocked by “the return to religion” whether in the Middle East or elsewhere, when one recalls that the West’s strategy during the Cold War was based on supporting either the military or the religious right-wing against the left-wing—its avowed enemy during those days.
It was the US that built the strategy of “Containment” against the spread of Soviet Communism. Pakistan, a country founded in 1947 as a “Muslim State” was in the 1950s a founding member of two containment pacts: CENTO (Central Treaty Organization)—formerly known as the “Baghdad Pact”—and SEATO (Southeast Asia Treaty Organization). Again, Pakistan was the main incubator and lifeline of the Afghan mujahideen through its Directorate of Military Intelligence as well its religious schools. In fact, until late 2001 Pakistan’s Military Intelligence was the prime supporter of the “Taliban” (meaning “Students”), which Washington was happy to see in charge of Afghanistan, putting an end to the chaos created by animosities among the different mujahideen groups and securing the Unocal pipeline from Central Asia across Afghanistan.
Even as far as Iran, Washington’s old and new ally, is concerned, the US sided for a long time with Sunni-led Iraq against the Shi’a mullahs of Khomeinist Iran. Its position only changed after Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. Later on, the “neocons” dramatically changed Washington’s policy vis-à-vis the tension between “political Sunnism” and “political Shi’ism” by invading Iraq, bringing down Saddam Hussein and handing the country over to Iran’s followers.
Things then began to move fast, as Iran succeeded—via the Assad regime in Syria—in creating extremist Sunni gangs. This proved to be a very sound investment on two levels:
First, when these were used to attack and harass the American occupation troops in Iraq, thus leading to their speedy withdrawal.
Second, when planted within the Syrian opposition and used to undermine Syria’s popular uprising from within, helping the regime to blackmail the international community through their barbaric crimes in the name of Islam, with Iran now stepping forward to pose as the West’s ally against Sunni extremist terrorism.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani was very clear the other day when he publicly boasted that Tehran is leading the war on terrorism. This comes after similar pronouncements made by Iran’s henchmen Abdul Malik Al-Houthi of Yemen, claiming he was now fighting Al-Qaeda, and Hassan Nasrallah—the Secretary-General of Lebanon’s Hezbollah who has been claiming to be fighting against extremist “takfirists” in Syria.
On the other side of the fence, some in Israel seem to welcome this development including the former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Dan Halutz. Indeed, we now notice that containing the latest bout of “tension” between Israel and Iran on the Golan-Mount Hermon front has given Tehran’s military machine and its followers the green light to move southward, attack Syrian opposition fighters there, and control the Southern Front and Purple (ceasefire) Line. So after 36 years, the “Great Satan” is finally dead!
The Muslim Brotherhood will never change
Mshari Al-Zaydi/Asharq Al Awsat
Sunday, 15 Feb, 2015
In March 2014 Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Interior issued a list of groups banned from operating within the Kingdom. The list, which was issued as part of a royal order, included groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS,) Al-Qaeda, the Al-Nusra Front, Hezbollah in Saudi Arabia and the Houthi movement. But what was remarkable was that the Muslim Brotherhood was also included on this list of groups designated as terrorist organizations.
Fast-forward to today and France is considering the status of the Muslim Brotherhood. Prior to this, Britain set up a special commission to investigate the Islamist group’s views and practices. In the Arab world, Egypt and the UAE of course, both regard the Brotherhood as an illegal and illegitimate group.
There is currently a global trend towards reconsidering the definition of the Brotherhood out of the sense that its very existence, ideology and activities represent a major source of harmful political activities and extremism.
Without people like Sayyid Qutb and Hassan Al-Banna, and books like Milestones, and The Messages of Da’wa, or concepts like Al-Hakimiyyah (divine rule) and Ustaziatul Alam (mastership of the world,) there would have been no Islamist terrorism today. There would be no terrorist chiefs like Osama Bin Laden, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi or Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. There would be no Khalid Islambouli, who assassinated President Sadat. There would be no jihadist ideologues like Abdullah Azzam, Abdul Majeed Al-Zindani.
All these figures initially drew their ideology from the Brotherhood source. The Brotherhood served as a social and educational incubator for even more dangerous views and ideologies. Even the Brotherhood’s own views represent a destructive and misleading web of deception, the group forces its own worldview on its followers, ensuring that they view everything from just one narrow perspective.
Saudi Arabia’s antagonistic stance towards the Brotherhood is nothing new. After the Gulf War, the Brotherhood and Saudi Arabia shared a complex relationship that was formed under well-known historical circumstances, but the Brotherhood betrayed the Kingdom after it had initially sought its assistance. Following this, Saudi Arabia changed its view of the Islamist group and its followers and their relationship gradually changed from one of tacit trust to outright suspicion.
In a 2002 interview with Kuwait’s Alseyassah newspaper, former Saudi Interior Minister and Crown Prince Naif Bin Abdulaziz, said: “I say it without hesitation: All of our problems . . . came from the Muslim Brotherhood. When their circumstances became tough and gallows were set up for them in their countries, they [Brotherhood] relied on the Kingdom, which saved their lives and their dignity and made them safe. We hosted them, which is our duty . . . We found work for them . . . opened our schools and universities for them, but unfortunately they did not forget their previous links and were set on recruiting people and establishing [political] trends and turned against the Kingdom.”
The former Crown Prince, may God rest his soul, ended his statement with a quote from the Qu’ran. “Is the reward for good [anything] but good?” [Surat Al-Rahman; Verse 55].
If the Brotherhood abandons its deceitful habits, then they are welcome. Otherwise, things will remain the same.
GCC Urges U.N. Chapter 7 Resolution in Yemen
Naharnet/Yemen's Gulf neighbors urged the United Nations Saturday to act forcefully over the deteriorating security situation there, including possible military intervention, as more governments closed their embassies in Sanaa.
The call, at a meeting in Riyadh of the Gulf Cooperation Council, came as Shiite militiamen behind a power grab in Yemen fired live rounds to disperse thousands of protesters.
Home to al-Qaida's deadliest branch and a key U.S. ally in the fight against the group, Yemen has descended into chaos since the militia, known as Huthis, seized Sanaa in September.
Matters worsened last month when they ousted the government.
Foreign ministers of the six GCC member countries called on the "U.N. Security Council to take a decision under Chapter Seven of the United Nations Charter," which allows the use of military force if there are breaches of the peace or acts of aggression.
They also called for an urgent meeting of the Arab League and of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
In a statement at the end of their meeting, they called for immediate international steps to guarantee the safety of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, now under effective house arrest, and of his prime minister.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has warned that Yemen is falling apart and called for Western-backed Hadi to be restored to power.
In the city of Ibb, which the militia has held since last year, protesters chanted: "Huthi, Iran: Yemen is not Lebanon!", in a reference to predominantly Shiite Iran's alleged support for the militia.
They also shouted slogans against Russia, which is thought to be reluctant to take a hard line against the Huthis at the U.N. Security Council.
Witnesses said the Huthis fired warning shots to disperse the protest, wounding at least six people.
Similar demonstrations took place in the Shiite-populated city of Dhammar which is also under Huthi control, and the southern city of Daleh, where protesters demanded political parties end their U.N.-brokered talks with the militia in Sanaa.
In the capital, hundreds protested describing the militia as "gangs that could not build a state."
- Protesters 'tortured' -
Meanwhile, the family of demonstrator Saleh Awadh al-Bashiri, detained by the Huthis on Wednesday at a protest against their takeover, said he had died of torture wounds suffered in captivity.
Another two protesters who were held with him have been hospitalized after being found wounded and left on a street.
The families posted pictures on social media they said were of their sons showing parts of their bodies bruised and swollen from beatings.
On Sunday, the Huthis announced a ban on all demonstrations against them unless they are authorized by the interior ministry, which itself is now under their control.
The militiamen have been accused of attacking and detaining protesters as well as reporters covering demonstrations against their power grab.
Diplomatically, more countries shut their embassies, with Spain and the United Arab Emirates becoming the latest to announce on Saturday they had suspended operations at their missions in Sanaa.
The UAE foreign ministry said it has also evacuated all staff, following a similar move by Sunni-dominated GCC leader Saudi Arabia.
"This decision comes in light of the increasingly deteriorating political and security situation" and the "unfortunate events with the Huthis undermining legitimate authority in the country", the UAE said in a statement carried by the official WAM news agency.
The United States, France, Germany, Italy, Britain and the Netherlands have also closed their embassies and withdrawn staff for security reasons.
Spain said it was temporarily suspending embassy activity in Yemen "in light of the current situation of insecurity and instability in Sanaa."
Madrid's embassy had advised all Spanish citizens to "temporarily" leave Yemen, the foreign ministry said.
And the Turkish foreign ministry "strongly" advised its citizens to leave also.
The Huthis had said Western powers had no reason to shut their embassies, insisting that security was solid in the capital.
Tehran also criticized the "hasty action" of closing embassies, insisting the Huthis were fighting "corruption and terrorism."
Following consultations in New York on Thursday, Britain said it would work with Jordan on a resolution to outline the Security Council's stance on Yemen.
Agence France Presse