Archive for category Religion

Ahok: Victim of a new conservative Indonesia?

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, which is his real name, was convicted for insulting the Quran, by citing a verse at a rally for the citizens of Thousand Islands. September 27, 2016. Especially the FPI (Islamic Defenders Front, a conservative organisation, accused him of blasphemy.

@jokowi Dear mr President. How it is possible, a man like Ahok, can be convicted, in one of the largest democracies in the world?

Who is Ahok, and why several Islamic groups want him in prison? For that we need to go back to 2005. In this year, Basuki entered politics in his home region Belitung. He was elected with over 37% to become the new regent. In that time, one month after he entered office he manifested himself as a reformer. Move forward, leave the past of violence behind and develop a region of prosperity, without corruption, less bureaucracy, less traffic congestion and more job opportunities. He became quite successful, and he became popular by many.

In 2007 he resigned, and run for governor for Bangka- Belitung. The former president Abdurrahman Wahid convinced him to run for public office, and admired him for the healthcare reforms. Basuki was defeated by Eko Maulana Ali, supported by the FPI, as they never accept a Governor, from a minority population.

In 2009, Ahok became a member of the House of Representatives, for the Golkar party. In 2011, he made himself impopular to criticize the tin mining industry, for causing great environmental damage.  Youth NGO’s, supported by the FPI reported him the House of Ethics.

In that same year, he became the running mate of the current president of Indonesia, Jomo Widodo. In the second election round, they defeated governor Fauzi Bowo. Foke, as he is called by many, received a reprimand from his own Democratic Party, for joining a FPI event in 2010. He, and the Metro Jaya Police Chief Inspector General Pradopo East Pol, ate rice together with senior leaders of Habib Rizieq’s organization, at the FPI headquarters.

In 2014 when Joko Widodo took a temporary leave from his post as Jakarta governor to run for President, Basuki became the acting Governor of Jakarta from 1 June 2014. In November, that same year, Widodo became the 7th president of Indonesia, and Basuki was sworn in as the new governor of Jakarta. Since then, Basuki is a regular target by ultra- conservatives and rival candidates for being a non-muslim. Especially his minority background, made him a victim of the FPI. Several rallies were organised in the weeks of the inauguration of Basuki.

In 2016, Habib Rizieq, leader of the FPI says:  “If Jesus is the son of God, who is the midwife?” Which is, in fact blasphemy, but no one cared.

In 2017, 15 February, Basuki reached to the second round run-off between two candidates,Anies Baswedan and Agus Yudhoyono. As you might have guessed: Anies Baswedan, speeched in front of a rally, organised by the FPI. As well Agus Yudhoyon, was supported by his father, the former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyon who is,according to the media, behind the rally against Basuki, which started the accusations of blasphemy.

Strangely, on the day Basuki speeches, no one protested. A week later a video appeared, and protests begun. According to the national and international press, the video was manipulated.

It 2017, it seems the FPI finally succeeded to defeat Basuki….


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Riot police deployed around St Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo, Egypt

By Shahira Amin. See original post

Cairo’s central district of Abbassiya was tensely calm on Monday as riot police deployed around St Mark’s Cathedral, scene of violent clashes between Coptic Christians and Muslims the previous day. A Copt was killed and more than 80 people were injured in Sunday’s clashes, the latest in a spate of deadly sectarian violence that has rocked the country in recent days. Four Copts and one Muslim were killed by gunfire in weekend clashes in the town of Khosous, north of Cairo after a group of Coptic Christians spray-painted offensive drawings on the walls of an al Azhar-affiliated building in the town. The trouble in Abbassiya meanwhile erupted when Coptic mourners (who had been attending a funeral service for the four victims of the violence in Khosous) came under attack as they left the cathedral. The Christian mourners had reportedly chanted anti-Muslim Brotherhood slogans , prompting an angry reaction from Muslim residents of the neighbourhood, who hurled rocks and molotov cocktails at them. Loud blasts were heard as riot police fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse the crowd.

President Morsi has condemned the violence, promising an immediate investigation into the incident. Copts who gathered outside the cathedral on Monday however,expressed skepticism that the perpetrators of Sunday’s attack would be brought to justice.

” We have yet to see justice done in previous assault-cases on Christians ,” said Hani Kirolos , a pharmacist. “If anything, it will be the Christians who get arrested.”

“They (the Muslim Brotherhood) want Christians to leave the country but we are not going anywhere,”said Mary Toma, a Coptic housewife.

Sectarian tensions that have been brewing for years have escalated since Islamist President Mohamed Morsi came to power with increased attacks on churches and physical assaults against Coptic Christians who make up an estimated 12 per cent of the population. Egypt’s Christians however, have not been the only group targeted in recent months by Morsi’s Islamist supporters. The country has seen intermittent violence between Islamists and liberal opposition activists demanding an end to Muslim Brotherhood rule. In recent weeks, simmering tensions between Morsi’s Islamist allies and Al Azhar have also boiled over, pitting Islamists against one another.

A controversial draft law that would allow the government to issue sukuk ( Islamic bonds ) has inflamed longstanding tensions between the Muslim Brotherhood and al Azhar, placing Sunni Islam’s highest authority on a collision course with the Islamist group ruling the country. Grappling with a burgeoning budget deficit , the Muslim Brotherhood is seeking sukuk as a new source of finance to ease the current economic crisis but al Azhar has said its scholars must be consulted over the proposed law before its issuance by the Shura Council (the Upper House of parliament currently responsible for issuing legislation). A provision in Egypt’s new Constitution stipulates that” al Azhar scholars must weigh in on matters related to Sharia law” but it remains unclear if the scholars’ decisions are binding or merely consultative.

Friction over the draft law is part of a wider conflict between the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Azhar as competition between them intensifies over religious authority in the ‘new’ Egypt.. Since the January 2011 uprising, al Azhar has sought independence after longtime state control, striving to assert its role as “the voice of moderate Islam.”

Last week, thousands of protesters rallied in Egyptian cities to express solidarity with the Grand Sheikh of al Azhar Ahmed El Tayeb amid increasing calls for his dismissal by members of the Muslim Brotherhood and fears that the Muslim Brotherhood would try to “Ikhwanize” the institution (a term used to refer to the appointment of Muslim Brotherhood members or their supporters in state institutions with the aim of controlling them.) The protests in Cairo, Luxor (the hometown of the Grand Sheikh ) and other cities came in response to earlier protests by hundreds of Azhar students angered by a case of mass food poisoning on campus . The students accused the University Management of negligence and called for those responsible for the poisoning to be held to account. An exchange of accusations followed: In a widely circulated rumour on social networking sites Facebook and Twitter, opposition activists accused the Muslim Brotherhood of involvement in the food poisoning incident which they claimed was meant ” to discredit the Grand Imam and have him replaced”. Essam El Erian, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood ,in turn criticized Sheikh Tayeb saying that the mass poisoning was “the result of old corruption at the university” and urging the Grand Sheikh to introduce “real change.’

The latest unrest will likely further isolate the ruling Islamists amidst growing opposition to the Morsi regime. The recent dismissal of a Salafi Presidential Advisor for allegedly “misusing his public post for illegal benefit” has fueled tensions between the Muslim Brotherhood President and ultra-conservative Salafists who had initially backed him. The hardline Islamists appear to have switched loyalty in recent months, unifying ranks with the liberal opposition and intensifying their criticism of the President. In a so-called ” national reconciliation initiative” announced in January, the Salafis echoed calls by the liberal opposition for a change of government, amendments to the constitution and the selection of a new Public Prosecutor– piling pressure on Morsi to fulfill those demands.The growing rift between Morsi and the Salafis is certain to weaken the Brotherhood’s chances of securing majority seats in the next legislative election which has been postponed indefinitely by the Supreme Constitutional Court. But the Salafi-opposition alliance may prove even more dangerous than that as it can only spell dire consequences for the Muslim Brotherhood.


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Egypt’s Christians Fear Violence, Flee

CAIRO, October 3 (Shahira Amin for RIA Novosti)

Shahira Amin, Egyptian journalist, the former deputy head of Egyptian state-owned Nile TV and one of its senior anchors

Fearing sectarian violence at hands of the Muslim extremists, Christian Copts in the Egypt’s North Sinai town of Rafah are being forced to flee their homes.

At least a dozen Coptic families have already left the town bordering Gaza and Israel, seeking safety in the nearby town of Al Arish, a local priest told state-owned Al Ahram newspaper. The latest Coptic exodus was triggered by an armed attack on a shop owned by a Christian town-dweller, he said.

Two days earlier, fliers had been found outside Christian homes warning residents to “leave or face death.” While the attack by masked gunmen did not cause any injuries, it has succeeded in terrorizing the town’s small Christian community.

Christian families who met last week with the newly appointed North Sinai governor Sayed Harhour to express their grievances said the governor had promised to increase security in the town but stopped short of offering the Copts direct protection.

The violence is not the first of its kind in Rafah. The town’s only church, “The Holy Family Church,” has come under several attacks from militants since it was torched and looted in February 2011, as mass protests were taking place in Tahrir Square.

The Sinai Peninsula has witnessed a surge in violence since the January, 2011 uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak .

The subsequent rise of Islamists to power in Egypt has fuelled Christian concerns that their safety may be compromised and their freedom restricted under Islamist rule. Rights activists say the latest attack on Copts is a litmus test for Islamist President Mohamed Morsi who has promised an “inclusive Egypt” where all citizens enjoy equal rights.

Copts have experienced some of the worst violence since the January 2011 uprising, including the torching of churches, the violent military assault on Coptic protesters at Maspero last October and forced evacuations of Copts from the towns of Dahshur and Amreya. Tens of thousands of Copts have left Egypt to settle abroad since March 2011 out of concern for their safety, according to a report by the Egyptian Federation of Human Rights.

The recent anti-Islam video on Youtube has escalated fears of further attacks on Egypt’s Christians after the clip – reportedly produced by Egyptian Christians living in the United States – provoked angry protests in Cairo and other Muslim capitals.

Despite Coptic Christians joining the Cairo demonstrations to express their solidarity with the Muslim protesters, many Christians are fearful of a backlash from radical Muslims.

The recent arrest and detention of Alber Saber, a young Christian -turned-atheist, on a charge of insulting religion after he posted the inflammatory video on Facebook has only fuelled such fears. Rights activists have decried Saber’s arrest, questioning why a Salafist TV presenter who showed parts of the video on his show (sparking the violent protests in Cairo and Alexandria ) had not been detained despite several lawsuits filed against him.

Another Christian, Michel Bishoy, was sentenced to six years in prison last week for blasphemy after posting pictures on Facebook deemed offensive to Islam’s revered Prophet Muhammad.

President Morsi has condemned the latest violence in Rafah saying he “categorically rejects the displacement of any citizen from any part of the country.”

Presidential spokesman Yasser Ali affirmed that “forced evacuations are unacceptable and all Egyptians are entitled to protection.” He repeated earlier statements by the President that there would be no discrimination of any kind -“neither against women nor Copts,” he said.

Prime Minister Hisham Qandil has meanwhile denied that Copts have been forcibly evacuated from Rafah, saying that only one Coptic family had decided to relocate. In statements to the state-run Middle East News Agency, he affirmed that President Morsi had given directives to the North Sinai governor to provide protection for Coptic residents in the town.

Despite such assurances, many Copts remain skeptical. Rights groups have said they are closely monitoring the situation in Sinai. The National Council for Human Rights has warned of “dire consequences if Christians’ lives are at risk,” adding that it would be “a dangerous precedent in Egypt, taking the country back to the dark ages.”

In the meantime, Egypt’s Coptic Christians who were subjected to discrimination and marginalization under Mubarak’s rule now face an uncertain future.

“It is up to the new Islamist government to show it is serious about ending the discriminatory policies of the past. We have heard a lot of promises, ” said Bassant Moussa of the “Copts United” public group. “Only action will allay our fears.”

Shahira Amin is an Egyptian journalist, the former deputy head of Egyptian state-owned Nile TV and one of its senior anchors.

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The End of the World

In December 2012 the Mayan Calendar comes to an end. After 12.000 years there is no next day. The end of the world as many say.  Since many years, scientists are searching for the right place to be at on the last month of this year. The safest place on earth. Some say it is Africa, others say it is in Asia. We are doomed. December 2011 was the last new years eve. The last Christmas. There is no 2013. Is this really the case?  Or do we have certain doom thinkers in our midst. People who feel the need to give us fear.

Who are these people to tell about the complete destruction of our planet?  What moves these men to convince us from the bad times we are going to meet. Based on what knowledge? Does it mean that all the uprisings and revolutions in the Arab world are of no use? Or the Slavic Spring, which is happening today as well. Russia, Hungary, Slovenia and Romania. All people united to take back what was stolen from us. Freedom and Dignity. Is it a waste of time or the beginning of a new era?

With the millennium we entered the Aquarius Era. After more than 2100 years we arrived in a time of consciousness. Combined with the end of a 12.000 year old era we are definitely going to see total change. A time to stand up and to realise we let our leaders controlling us way too long. We followed like dependent sheep. Like slaves. The last convulsions of these policy makers are sending fear among us. Climate disasters and Global terrorist attacks. Governments are using their last efforts to get us back in line.

The uprising in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. The occupy movements all over America and Europe.  Never in history it was on such a large-scale as it is today. Never ever so many nations are united to show their leaders that we don’t take it anymore.  The time has come. To give back the world to its people.

A turning point: Welcome to a new world. Welcome to our world.


Who is to Blame?

Still many people around the world have a problem with Germany due to the Second World War. Young generations in Germany blamed for something their grandparents did. How many jokes do exist all over the world about germans? Especially in West Europe. How often, young germans need to defend themselves in discussions about an era of horror? A discussion they don’t even want be  involved at but unfortunately they have no choice or else they are accused of Nazism.

From 1933 till 1945 the Nazis of Germany aimed for a totalitarian system and an empire that covers the world. The Third Reich (Realm or Empire). Adolf Hitler wanted to follow the footsteps of the Holy Roman Empire leaders from Germany, the First Reich. Not to confuse with the ancient Roman Empire. The Second Reich was the Hohenzollern Germany, installed after the Franco – Prussian war of 1870 till 1871. It was Arthur Muller van den Bruck who mentioned the Third Reich already in one of his books in 1923. Muller was probably a great example to Hitler. The Nazis brought an end to the Weimar Republic, a parliamentary democracy established in Germany after the First World War.

The Second World War became hell on earth. Hitler knew how to deal with the misery in Germany after World War I. He promised the nation jobs, a great economy and a powerful country with an important role in the world. This is exactly what he did but not as many had expected. Hitler wanted his Third Reich at all costs. He blamed the jews for the poverty of many germans. He had a strong frustration against these people for their successes in business. Jews always knew how to make money from nothing. They knew how to survive and how to take care of their families. For Hitler this was a good opportunity to put the blame on them and this made him popular by all these Germans living in a hopeless situation. After having his war machinery at a high level he conquered Europe in no time with his Blitzkrieg (Lighting war). The  European people suffered for five years long. Six million jews murdered as well over a million people of other groups like gipsies, polish but as well people with another beliefs. In these five years 47 million civilians died before the allied forces from the West and the East ended the bloodiest war the world has ever experienced.

The first postwar Chancellor of Germany, Konrad Adenauer realised in what situation Germany was in after the Third Reich collapsed. It was his duty to bring Germany back. To find a way to pay the debts and at the same time to increase the economy. The toughest job ever for a politician. He knew well what Hitler did in Europe and how many people suffered under this regime. It was the  4th Chancellor Willy Brandt who showed the pain and quilt from the German people and kneeled on december 7th 1970 for a monument in Poland for all the victims and cried. A turning point for many polish people. They believed the good intentions of this man. A new relation was born and thanks to the Marshall Plan,an aid program by the USA, to build a new Europe, people could start to look forward and to see future opportunities for them and their families.

The system of Germany was to work hard to build up the country and to understand what they have caused in Europe. New generations learned in schools what happened exactly in World War II and they learned to deal with it. They also learned to deal with the discriminatory feelings of other nations against them but they worked hard and since the millennium they are proud being German again. They wave their flags at big sports events and believe in what their country stands for. They have learned from the past and dealt with the guilt for many decades. Something many countries still didn’t do.

Two years after WWII, the Netherlands murdered many opponents in Indonesia, a colony until 1949 to reinstall the dutch monarchy after the Japanese left in 1945. Until today this history is still not mentioned in schoolbooks and the official apologies from the government came in 2011. Many generations in the Netherlands don’t know anything about this genocide. In England, children learn about the once so powerful United Kingdom and its pride but what do they know exactly about the cruelties the army caused in Ireland, Scotland and many countries overseas? Or Austria, a country what finds it hard to talk about their dictatorial era from 1933 till 1938. The chancellor Engelbert Dolfuss ruled the nation as a dictator until it was annexed by Nazi Germany. What about Italy? About ten years ago I drove down to Naples and at a gas station you could buy busts of Mussolini, a war criminal and friend of Hitler. We have many more examples about countries who are afraid until today to deal with the horrors their grandparents caused to millions of innocent people.

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Turkey, Syria and the United Nations

As predicted the United Nations could not anonymously vote for a new resolution to prevent Bashir Al- Assad, the president of Syria, by continuously killing the people demonstrating for freedom.Article 41 was first meant to firmly condemn the Syrian government for their violence against innocent and unarmed people. The United Nations council removed most of the elements from this article to convince all the members to vote for this resolution.

China and Russia used their veto against the resolution, Article 41. Abstention: India, South Africa, Brazil and Lebanon. Even though the article 41 only has a request to Assad to stop all violence against its people and to give entrance to the international press. Why did China and Russia use their veto? A simple answer is their own fear to be condemned one day by the United Nations themselves for not respecting human rights.

Of course the United States of America  were deeply offended by the decision  of the  Russians and  the Chinese governments not willing to support a firm statement against Syria. An old biblical saying: “Let the one without sin, cast the first stone.” The USA vetoed 50 times on every resolution against Israel since 1945. Even if it was only to condemn Israel for their cruel actions in Palestine. Last year the Barack Obama administration vetoed the first time since he became the new president of the USA. Who said Obama will change many things? I think we all did.

Since the fall of Mubarak from Egypt, Turkey raised up its power in the region.                                                                                 They try to interfere in the Egyptian development for a new democracy as they are the only country with a democratic system in the Islāmic world. The economic crisis in the USA and Europe makes Turkey a very strong and powerful negotiator in the area. The nation’s economy is better than ever and the war on Kurdistan has begun. The eyes of the world focussed on Libya and Syria which gives Turkey the opportunity to attack Kurdish groups like the PKK and the PUK  in Turkey but in Iraq as well. It is a serious invasion in its neighboring country and not just incidents.

Syria on his turn has provoked Turkey several times by crossing the border on the north side, close to Jisr al-Shughour and Aleppo. As it happens , Kurdistan is also covering parts of Syria.  Without being too philosophical, I think Turkey will invade Syria within the coming time. The NATO still has smoking war machines from the liberation of Libya and a huge economic crisis to further support a possible invasion in Syria. Turkey however has a good and stable economy, a strong and well trained military force, export interests in Syria which are a substantial part of Turkey’s welfare, and the will to recommend and carry out democracies around the Arabic world and above all a trusted partner of many western countries.

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The violent settlers of Israel

Today is a great and important day for Palestine. Mahmoud Abbas will ask the United Nations to recognize Palestine. Of course everyone knows that the U.S. will use its veto against the proposal and the subject will be declared as not receptive. Of course it is very undemocratic, a veto overrules everything. Yet there is a positive development of this proposal. Palestine has made ​​his statement, and many members will vote. So everyone knows where the members stand for. This can lead to more substantive discussion and the pressure on Israel and America so they need to come with a legitimate reaction  and not just  a nay. I’m curious!

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported this morning that a senior officer in the Israeli army has a good explanation why Israel has decided to increase the troops at the occupied territories. The government has determined that the illegal immigrants settlers on Palestinian territory may carry a weapon. The reason was the fear of being attacked by the Palestinians. Now it seems that the army sends more troops, during Palestinian protests indirectly to protect the Palestinians against settlers. This officer is convinced that the Palestinians will control their people on a march around the occupied territories, but it is the group of settlers who at the slightest movement pull their weapon against everything Palestinian. So it may be said that the settlers provoke aggression from which will inevitably lead to more casualties.

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