This didn’t make headlines for obvious reasons, but an Orthodox seminary was set on fire and vandalized by Israeli extremists yesterday in Jerusalem. The offenders wrote “Jesus was the son of a whore” and “redemption of Zion” on the walls of the church.

I know western media outlets like to pretend that only Arab or Muslim states are responsible for the persecution of Christians in the MENA region, but its far from the truth. Israel is complicit in sectarian violence, in this case, it was settlers, but anti-Christian policies exist as well. Israel undoubtedly relies heavily on Islamophobia to justify brutality, occupation and apartheid, but at the core of it, its an ethnoreligious state and that supremacy works against all Palestinians, Muslim and Christian alike.


Glasgow Violence: When Media Bias Goes Too Far 

On Thursday, 85% of the Scottish population turned out to cast their votes in the referendum on independence following days of peaceful demonstrations by Yes voters in the heart of our largest city, Glasgow. 

On Friday, Glasgow was gripped by fear as pro-union fascists rushed George Square, determined to engage in violence and hatred; the loyalists of Glasgow joined by members of the Scottish and English Defence Leagues, and all partly encouraged by Britain First.

Young girls had their Scottish flags torn away from them, women with Yes badges were spat at and called scum, nazi salutes and red hand of Ulster salutes were seen, flares were thrown, and the sectarian edge was on full display with “No Surrender” signs. Assaults were made on those carrying Saltires.

These are not the scenes reported by the BBC news or a number of newspapers who assure us that this was a “clash” between Yes and No voters, following their portrayal of Yes voters as Scottish nationalist mobs who intimidated No voters, despite little evidence to the contrary.

In truth, the police had the events of last evening well in hand. Glasgow is no stranger to sectarian trouble (a number of this mob wore Rangers tops), quickly surrounding the group and acting to restrict violence as far as possible as they departed the square and moved elsewhere. Six arrests were made and after a few hours the city was calm once more. 

But what there was a disturbing lack of was information. News. People in the city and those in the rest of Scotland with friends and family in Glasgow had no idea what was happening. Those on twitter could find no information on whether things had escalated or calmed down, on where was safe and where was not.

The police described the situation as “handbags”. They’ve dealt with much worse. But to write this off as sectarian violence alone excuses those fascists who travelled to take part. To write it off as only fascists excuses the local loyalists spoiling for a fight.

While the identity of the perpetrators is unknown, the one Scotland newspaper that supported independence – The Herald – had their generator set alight. The Sunday Herald is currently collecting evidence from the night to make a full report in their next edition.

Glasgow is a complicated city with a troubled past, but the level of political engagement across Scotland and within the city during this referendum was unprecedented. And almost entirely peaceful until now. Scotland had shown the world what democracy without war looks like, but while the UK media ignores the dark side of both Glasgow and the union, the international media has carried the most information on events.

That people in Glasgow, Scotland and the UK had to turn to twitter to get the real information of what was happening is incredible. And while photographs and videos were helpful in illustrating the events, there was no control on validity of information. #GlasgowRiots trended through the night despite the situation being over, while many seemed under the impression that it was Yes voters at fault.

Invoking the spirit of sectarianism there was no doubt trouble on both sides of that particular divide, but the swelling of ranks from fascist groups ensured that it was those bearing the Scottish flag or Yes badges that were in danger.

This was no celebration. This was no representation of No voters. These bigots represent no one but themselves. But the media turning a blind eye to this, or insinuating it is no worse than Scottish nationalists throwing an egg is irresponsible. I had friends hiding at home because they were terrified to go out on the streets without the safety of having white skin, with no idea of when the trouble was over.

There are Orange marches planned today in the city. Hopefully these idiots will stay at home. Please stay safe.

(Photo credits L-R: Jon Brady via Twitter @jonfaec; Cathal Mcnaughton / Reuters; PA; Reuters; Reuters; Herald’; Herald; Reuters; Reuters)

(My apologies that none of the media wants to embed) 

The problem for a terrorist group like al-Qaeda is that its recruitment pool is Muslims, but most Muslims are not interested in terrorism. Most Muslims are not even interested in politics, much less political Islam. France is a country of 66 million, of which about 5 million is of Muslim heritage. But in polling, only a third, less than 2 million, say that they are interested in religion. French Muslims may be the most secular Muslim-heritage population in the world (ex-Soviet ethnic Muslims often also have low rates of belief and observance). Many Muslim immigrants in the post-war period to France came as laborers and were not literate people, and their grandchildren are rather distant from Middle Eastern fundamentalism, pursuing urban cosmopolitan culture such as rap and rai. In Paris, where Muslims tend to be better educated and more religious, the vast majority reject violence and say they are loyal to France.

Al-Qaeda wants to mentally colonize French Muslims, but faces a wall of disinterest. But if it can get non-Muslim French to be beastly to ethnic Muslims on the grounds that they are Muslims, it can start creating a common political identity around grievance against discrimination.


Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, then led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, deployed this sort of polarization strategy successfully in Iraq, constantly attacking Shiites and their holy symbols, and provoking the ethnic cleansing of a million Sunnis from Baghdad. The polarization proceeded, with the help of various incarnations of Daesh (Arabic for ISIL or ISIS, which descends from al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia). And in the end, the brutal and genocidal strategy worked, such that Daesh was able to encompass all of Sunni Arab Iraq, which had suffered so many Shiite reprisals that they sought the umbrella of the very group that had deliberately and systematically provoked the Shiites.

“Sharpening the contradictions” is the strategy of sociopaths and totalitarians, aimed at unmooring people from their ordinary insouciance and preying on them, mobilizing their energies and wealth for the perverted purposes of a self-styled great leader.

The only effective response to this manipulative strategy (as Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani tried to tell the Iraqi Shiites a decade ago) is to resist the impulse to blame an entire group for the actions of a few and to refuse to carry out identity-politics reprisals.

Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump.
I said, “Don’t do it!”
He said, “Nobody loves me.”
I said, “God loves you. Do you believe in God?”
He said, “Yes.”
I said, “Are you a Christian or a Jew?”
He said, “A Christian.”
I said, “Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?”
He said, “Protestant.”
I said, “Me, too! What franchise?”
He said, “Baptist.”
I said, “Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?”
He said, “Northern Baptist.”
I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?”
He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist.”
I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?”
He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region.”
I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?”
He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912.”
I said, “Die, heretic!” And I pushed him over.

-Emo Philips

Voted 44th funniest joke of all time in “The 75 Funniest Jokes of All Time” in GQ magazine (June 1999)

Iraq death toll tops 700 in February

The United Nations said Saturday that violence across Iraq in February killed 703 people, a death toll higher than the same month last year, as the country faces a rising wave of attacks rivaling the sectarian bloodshed that followed the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

The figure, issued by the U.N.’s mission to Iraq, comes close to January’s death toll of 733, showinga surge of violence that began 10 months ago with a government crackdown on a Sunni protest camp is not receding. And, as a new month began, attacks Saturday killed at least five people and wounded 14, authorities said.

Attacks in February killed 564 civilians and 139 security force members in February, the U.N. said. The violence wounded 1,381, the vast majority civilians, it said. The numbers far surpass those of February 2013, when attacks killed 418 civilians and wounded 704.

Read more

(Photo: Azhar Shallal/AFP/Getty Images)

Attaching yourself obsessively to a single group/school/scholar shackles your mind, causes your heart to develop hatred for other Muslims, forbids you from benefiting from the various scholars of this Ummah, and does away with your impartiality in discussing issues. Stick to the rope of Allah and do not be divided.
—  Shaykh Omar Suleiman
From the collection: Shaykh Omar Suleiman Quotes
Originally found on: believers-journey

A lot of people on both Twitter and Tumblr have become so sectarian when it comes to current conflicts today, they are directly part of the problem and in no way shape or form, should ever voice your opinion on the Syrian or Iraqi conflict today. To simply label these conflicts as a Sunni/Shia problem, is to simply label the Cold War as a war of ideologies. No respectable historian would ever say the Cold War was simply due to communism/capitalism, which is why you cannot label the Syrian conflict as that. Which is why you can not label ISIS groups as those who “fight for” Sunnism. What is happening is far more deep-rooted and troubling. What we are seeing is neocolonialism at its very finest, doing anything possible to take down the last line of defence within the Middle East.

They exploded in my grandmother’s neighborhood of Bir Hassan, one street down from her apartment building. My mother’s appetite fizzled, along with her birthday euphoria. “I can’t wait to leave this country,” she told me later, when I frantically called after coming across the news on a Facebook feed otherwise crowded with articles about Miley Cyrus’ toes, tongue or tailbone.

She left the breakfast table empty-stomached, packed her bags, and arrived at the airport two hours before her flight’s check-in counter opened. My mother’s birthday was spent mourning lives wasted. Contemplating the what-ifs that could have easily been, had the bomb taken place twelve hours earlier when she was standing near that now traumatized spot; absorbing the guilt as she succumbed selfishly but humanly to the joy of what thankfully wasn’t. (via the things we do for love: meditations on a second bombing | THE STATE)

For anyone who’s not living in Glasgow and doesn’t understand this mindless violence and rioting.

Glasgow has a history of pretty strong sectarianism with the Catholics (Celtic supporters) and the Protestants (Rangers). The latter traditionally being unionists or “loyalists”. There was a bit of tension over no voters who were wanting to vote no simply because of this and their “loyalty” to the queen/union as opposed to political interests.

Glasgow still has sectarian marches and the orange walk (Protestant March) seems particularly active throughout Glasgow. So when the results came in that it was a no vote, a minority of extremist unionist and Orangemen decided to use that as an excuse to have a pretty violent party. I’d say the rioters are about 90% rangers fan football hooligans.

*note* it goes without saying that not all Protestants or Rangers supporters are Orangemen and/or football hooligans. Only a minority. Though in some parts of Glasgow, it’s a pretty big issue.

Could Ukraine be another Bosnia?

“You just don’t in the 21st century behave in a 19th-century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped-up pretext,” said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shortly after tens of thousands of Russian troops invaded Crimea under the auspices of protecting their Russian compatriots in the region.

But another interpretation is that Putin’s seemingly indecipherable strategy for dealing with the strategic setback Russian suffered when Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown draws inspiration from a much more recent era — the 1990s — in a volatile, ethnically divided country once, but no longer in Russia’s sphere of influence: Bosnia and Herzegovina. The bloody and chaotic process by which the former Yugoslav republic separated from Belgrade may hold clues to Russia’s intentions in Crimea and the wider Ukraine.

Continue reading

(Photo: Thomas Peter/Reuters)

Holy Cross Controversy (2001)

Around this time 13 years ago, a ‘picket’ began in the Ardoyne area of Belfast. It started when Catholic girls going to Holy Cross Primary School came under attack, as they had to pass through a Protestant area to get to their school. Hundreds of Protestant ‘protesters’ tried to stop the schoolchildren and their parents from walking to school through their area. Some protesters shouted sectarian abuse and threw stones, bricks, fireworks, blast bombs and even urine-filled balloons at the schoolchildren and their parents. Hundreds of riot police, backed up by British soldiers, were forced to escort them through the protest each day. Death threats were made against the parents and school staff by a loyalist paramilitary group called the Red Hand Defenders. It eventually ended in November when loyalists agreed to suspend the protest.

Christ Does Not Have To Be In Christmas (Poem by Rakuli)

A week before Christmas in a house by the sea
A group are enjoying the season
Some came for religion, some came for peace
All in attendance have reasons

Rabbis and priests, christians and jews
Share laughter and wine with agnostics
Muslims and hindus, zen buddhists too
Have water; the eggnog is caustic

Atheists, druids, shamans and leaders
Play poker, while sipping on whisky
Pagans stand back and scull cups of mead
As betting begins to get risky

There are catholic gays, one monk is trans-gender
There are priestesses bi, pan and straight
Some have come sober, some for the bender
But not one of them holds any hate

If any looked up and had mind to inquire
There would not be two mindsets the same
But they are all happy and have no desire
So continue enjoying the games

To the house by the sea comes one wandering soul
It has a religion and preference
It sees all who play and then starts to scold
Believing that there should be deference

“You can’t mingle with jews, be both catholic and gay.
Pagans and druids? You’re warring.
We don’t all have Christmas, it’s not right to say it
Your use of that word is abhorrent.

“We shouldn’t be forced to honour a date
That doesn’t match all our beliefs
I refuse to go on or to celebrate
Until my beliefs get some relief.”

“Oh wandering soul, you don’t understand,”
All in the house say in unison
“We just respect the beliefs of our friends
And think arguing is a touch ignorant.”

“I don’t understand, you still call it Christmas,”
The wandering soul says, bemused
“That’s just the most used name, but I’m all forgiveness,”
A rabbi chimes, quite amused

“So you don’t mind that your holy days
Are lost in the minds of the masses?”
A druid stands up to kindly say
“If it’s not lost in my mind, it’s no matter.”

The wandering soul looks at all of the faces
Not one even nearly the same
Belief to the side, they had come from far places
“May— may I join in your games?”

A week before Christmas, or Hanukkah or Solstice
In a small house that sits near the sea
Assembled dear friends who believed that justice
Was achieved by just letting be 


Copyright 2013 by Luke Dingle, aka Rakuli

Image: Bluwi

Kenya’s harsh new security laws put hundreds of thousands of refugees at risk

A protest against security measures in Nairobi.

Kenya has passed a controversial amendment to the country’s existing security laws, days after heated debates led to brawling on the floor of the Kenyan Parliament. Despite the fracas, the bill was passed with only minor changes, to the dismay of observers at home and abroad.

Domestic and international attention has mainly focused on the impact the bill would have on the period of detention without charge, the tapping of communications without court consent, the erosion of media freedom and the limitations placed upon the right to protest. But the world has paid less attention to the severe implications the new amendments have for refugees in Africa’s second-largest refugee-hosting country.

For Kenya’s half a million refugees, many of whom have escaped diabolical threats across the Somali border, this is very bad news indeed.

Round them up

The Security Laws (Amendment) Act 2014 changes Kenya’s 2006 Refugee Act in two vital ways: it seeks to limit the number of refugees and asylum seekers in the country to 150,000, and it further enforces an encampment policy, limiting refugees to the country’s two sprawling, remote camps in Dadaab and Kakuma.

The United Nations’ Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that over the next year the current number of 500,000 refugees in Kenya is will rise. With continuing conflict in Somalia and South Sudan, placing strict limits on the number of people who can access state protection will endanger lives.

A strict encampment policy also bucks a recent trend of moving away from refugee camps as a means of addressing refugee situations. In July 2014 UNHCR released a new policy that embraced alternatives to camps, with the aim of helping refugees “exercise rights and freedoms, make meaningful choices regarding their lives and have the possibility to live greater dignity, independence and normality as members of communities.”

This follows previous moves by UNHCR, such as its 2009 Urban Policy, to get away from what the UN’s high commissioner for refugees, António Guterres, called the “outmoded image that most refugees live in sprawling camps of UNHCR tents”.

Of course, having hundreds of thousands of refugees still confined to camps is good for neither Kenya nor the refugees themselves. It is important to move beyond the myths that refugees are dependent on humanitarian assistance and a burden to their hosts.

A dangerous conflation

This is all part of a dangerous tendency to conflate refugees and terrorists. Ever since Kenyan troops’ incursion into Somalia in 2011 brought increased al-Shabaab attacks to Kenyan soil, refugees have been at the forefront of an often heavy-handed response by the Kenyan state.

Continued at:-


((you’ve seen @beetasays twitter! Anyways, here is Safavid Iran offering Ottoman Turkey some “hospitality” in an unspecified year between 1605 and 1618 CE, a time of peace.

This type of rhetoric was not uncommon in the context of the Ottoman empire and Safavid Iran’s dynamics in the religious realm. Though in this proverb, the condemnation even extends towards Iran’s linguistic ubiquity. Persian held a different esteem from Ottoman Turkish, being associated with mysticism, poetry, and cultural prestige. It was used as the lingua franca in Mughal India’s royal court and court culture and as the official language of administration in Transoxiana. Promotion of Ottoman Sunni orthodoxy versus the early Safavid extremism became touted in times of war, which neither the Ottomans or Safavids were lacking between them. The beginning of competing religious views between these two regional powerhouses lies in the emergence of Shah Ishmail and the Qizilbash in 1500/01 CE. Shah Ishmail’s rapid, decisive conquests incited religious and territorial anxiety among the Mamluks, the Ottoman empire, and the Shaybanid Uzbeks. Shah Ishmail is often labeled simply as ‘Shia’, however, it is more accurate to define his ideology as a mixture of radical interpretations of the Ismaili school and some aspects of gnostic thought, “albeit with some loose, allusive connections to the Shia mainstream.” Shah Ishmail’s political legitimacy was based in the belief, collectively held by his militant and devout followers such as the Qizilbash, that he was a divine leader [This aspect of Safavid rule would die with Shah Ishmail, as his successor, Tahmasp the I, denounced the divine character of the Shah, thus beginning the gradual shift towards Twelver Shiism. Though this transition did not quell religious tension, as even into Shah Abbas the I’s reign in the 17th century, Ottomans continued to refer to Safavid Iran as a heretic state]. Stories of anti-Sunnism, massacres of Sunnis [the truthfulness of these stories is debated, were allegedly told by dissident Iranian Sunnis], and the act of sabb [vilifying of the ‘Rightly Guided’ Caliphs of Sunni orthodoxy. In context of Safavid practice, it is addressed in the various Ottoman-Safavid peace treaties] by the Safavids alarmed Iran’s neighbors. For the Ottomans, reactions were especially visceral and their objections to Shah Ishmail’s empire resulted in pejoratives such as “rafidhi/rafezi/ravafiz” [meaning heretic] and the “Qizilbash state”. The Mamluks, however, carried out regular exchange of emissaries with the Safavids, offering gifts and entertaining them as guests, though conscious of the perceived Safavid threat. Shah Ishmail’s symbolic gifts for Qansawh Al-Ghuri, the Mamluk sultan, were a prayer carpet and a Qur’an. These two items acted as a means to “emphasize that the Safavid government was Muslim and a performer of prayer” and refute the Ottoman accusations of heresy. Selim the I wrote a response to the Mamluk Sultan’s letter [that suggested the Ottomans and Safavids compromise in 1516]: “My war with Ardabil Ughili [Shah Ishmail] is for religion, not kingdom. If I intended to conquer territories, Europe would be nearer and better than ruined Iran. As long as Ardabil Ughili does not repent, change his atheistic ways…content himself with Bayazid and ignore other lands, I will never compromise” [translation in Rasool Jafarian’s “The Political Relations of Shah Esma’il I with the Mamluk Government, 1501-16/907-22” used]. Though Selim the I suggested his goal was to eliminate the Safavids, this was used as a pretext to disguise his true intentions of annexing Mamluk territory, which he accomplished in August 24th, 1516.

The Battle of Chalderan occurred in 1514, west of Tabriz, between Ottoman and Safavid forces [personally led by Shah Ishmail]. Selim the I wrote a letter to Shah Ishmail before the battle and states: “You no longer uphold the commandments and prohibitions of the Divine Law..Indeed, as both the fatwas of distinguished ulama who base their opinion on reason and tradition alike and the consensus of the Sunni community agree that the ancient obligation of extirpation, extermination, and expulsion of evil innovation must be the aim of our exalted aspiration…” [translation in Ernest Tucker’s “From Rhetoric of War to Realities of Peace: The Evolution of Ottoman-Iranian Diplomacy Through the Safavid Era” used]. The Battle of Chalderan ended in the devastating Safavid defeat by the Ottomans, due to the fact that the Safavid arsenal consisted of swords and spears while the Ottomans wielded advanced artillery [This would be rectified during Shah Abbas the I’s reign, when he appointed two Englishmen, Anthony and Robert Sherley, as military advisers to modernize his army]. This was a psychological blow to Shah Ishmail, effectively shaking his image as divine ruler, and caused him to withdraw from personally participating in future battles. This, in turn, led to a political crisis in Iran.

The Battle of Sufiyan occurred in in 1605, in Sufiyan, Iran. The Ottoman Chronicler Ibrahim Pecevi says of the Ottomans’ defeat by Shah Abbas the I in the Tarikh-i Pecevi: “In short, it was a shameful defeat such as the Ottoman Empire had ever seen. May God Most High never let it happen again! Amen” [translation in Colin Imber’s “The Battle of Sufiyan, 1605: A Symptom of Ottoman Military Decline?” used]. Before Sufiyan, The Ottomans were already fighting a two-front war, with conflicts versus the Hapsburg in Hungary and with the Jelali rebels in Anatolia. The Ottoman empire could not afford to fight on a third front, and Shah Abbas succeeded in retaking Tabriz and other areas in 1603/4. Still, Safavid artillery and their form of siege warfare were outdated in comparison to the Ottomans. However, what did allow the Safavids to defeat the Ottomans was Shah Abbas the I’s skills as a commander, as he was “adept at learning lessons from the enemy, exploiting opportunities, and maintaining the morale of his men”.

Note: It must be remembered that while I focus here on the religious aspect of the Ottoman-Safavid relationship, it was not the main component of said relationship. These religious tensions were no doubt a backdrop to their relationship, convenient for war rhetoric, but it would be overstating its role to suggest religion was the primary source of the rivalry. The Ottoman-Safavid war campaigns were ultimately results of territory/border disputes and regional empire politics, not religion. Outside of these wars, both empires engaged with each other economically through trade and sent emissaries. Also note that Islam is not monolithic, is composed of numerous schools of law and interpretations, and both sects have large and localized branches.))