With the rise of al-Qaeda, increasingly repressive regimes, and weak, even collapsing states, the Arab Spring is looking more and more like a nightmare for U.S. security interests. Perhaps, then, it makes some sense that the Obama administration would increase security assistance to the Middle East, from 69 percent of the total budget request for 2014 to 80 percent. However, this also entails a significant reduction in democracy assistance to the region, which will drop from $459.2 million to $298.3 million. Congress might further deepen these cuts.
But to look at this as a security problem risks conflating cause and effect. Today’s Middle East is a product, at least in part, of failed democratization, and one of the reasons it failed was the timid, half-hearted support of the Obama administration.
The European Union plans to use military force to curb the influx of migrants from Libya. According to leaked details, the E.U. will destroy boats used for transporting migrants and refugees on Libyan territory, thereby preventing them from reaching Europe. “They are intending to at least risk killing people in blowing up these boats,” says Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks. Watch our exclusive interview with Assange on Democracy Now! today.
Stand Strong with Raif Badawi Against the brutal Saudi Islamist Extremists!
Saudi Blogger, Raif Badawi, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for doing what we all do here at ease on tumblr! Blogging!! While the lunatics in Saudi Arabia’s extremist circle accuse him of a crime, we should take a good look at what Raif has actually done! This brave man ran a blog called the “Saudi Free Liberals Forum”. Just look at the type of material he posted and see for yourself what sort of brutal oppression Saudi people have to live under, and to think Saudi Arabia is considered one of the West’s closest allies!
Reflecting on the role of the Muslim religious establishment on 12 August 2010, Badawi warned about the stifling of creativity: “As soon as a thinker starts to reveal his ideas, you will find hundreds of fatwas that accused him of being an infidel just because he had the courage to discuss some sacred topics. I’m really worried that Arab thinkers will migrate in search of fresh air and to escape the sword of the religious authorities.”
Badawi argued on 28 September 2010 in favour of “secularism as the most important refuge for citizens of a country", he underlined the importance of separating religion from the state. The man does not attack the Saudi monarchy or the tenets of Islam!
Badawi linked Palestine, one of the touchstones of Arab solidarity, to the question of political Islam, attacking Hamas. I’m not in support of the Israeli occupation of any Arab country, but at the same time I do not want to replace Israel by a religious state … whose main concern would be spreading the culture of death and ignorance among its people when we need modernisation and hope. States based on religious ideology … have nothing except the fear of God and an inability to face up to life. Look at what had happened after the European peoples succeeded in removing the clergy from public life and restricting them to their churches. They built up human beings and (promoted) enlightenment, creativity and rebellion. States which are based on religion confine their people in the circle of faith and fear.
Regarding the revolution in Egypt, he posted, “It is a revolution, led by students and the marginalised, a revolution in every sense of the word … that is … a decisive turning point … not only in the history and geography of Egypt but everywhere that is governed by the Arab mentality of dictatorship and security. It is not yet clear whether is Egypt is about to change, but it is our hope that a new Egypt will emerge from the painful birth pangs its people are experiencing … after years of subservience and oppression.”
Badawi even used the Quran to support the importance of liberalism, the need to separate religion and state and implied that Islam itself has been distorted by the Saudi political establishment to promote authoritarian ideals. He stated, “No religion at all has any connection to mankind’s civic progress. This is not a failing on the part of religion but rather that all religions represent a particular, precise spiritual relationship between the individual and the Creator. ..However, positive law is an unavoidable human and social need because traffic regulations, employment law and the codes governing the administration of State can hardly be derived from religion.”
Do you wonder why it is so difficult for liberal Muslims and the millions of Muslims out there who are so strongly against extremism to stand up and speak up? This man is not even criticizing Islam, yet he is getting lashed simply for stating the positive that comes from having a Secular State, and discussing it in the framework of Islam. He is saying that it was this form of secularism that brought Europe out of the dark ages, a sort of secular movement that many Middle Eastern countries crave! That is all he said, no insults or even attacks on people’s beliefs!