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Pakistan Press (28 Jul 2016 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Honour and Deviance: New Age Islam's Selection, 28 July 2016

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

28 July 2016

Honour and Deviance

By Nazish Brohi

Erdogan Is to Turkey What Zia ul Haq Is to Pakistan

By Mushal Zaman

The March of Hate

By Khurram Husain

A Cultural Phenomenon

By Sultan Mehmood

‘Fair Is Foul And Foul Is Fair…’

By Chris Cork

The Wrong Trump!

By Harlan Ullman

When Is Claims Terrorist Attacks, It’s worth Reading Closely

By Max Bearak

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau


Honour and Deviance

By Nazish Brohi

28 July, 2016

YOU either stay in your sanitised comfort zone, or you step out and get inured to contempt for women. Some events, though, still leave an imprint.

Like the time the local administration in Multan decided to regulate women acting in popular, frequently seedy, theatre plays. The district government’s monitoring committee issued guidelines on dance moves and demanded that all actresses named after women in Islamic history legally change their identities because they were an insult to their namesakes.

When these women went to register their protest, they were told to first to do wuzu (ablution) before meeting the committee because they were paleet (impure) and were about to appear before the pak (pure).

That was over a decade ago. The court case demanding Qandeel not use ‘Baloch’ as her name because of the disrepute she brought to the ethnicity shows continuity, though none of the thousands who use Baloch as a surname took issue with it. That a country that is an avid consumer of pornography would condemn risqué behaviour in others is not surprising. The gaze of judgement seldom turns inwards.

The honour code earlier was a governance code.

Some years ago, Afiya Zia and I co-authored a paper on honour killings for which playwright/ director Khalid Ahmed translated Shailendra’s song Kaanton Se Kheench Ke Anchal. Cavorting in a truck laden with hay, Waheeda Rehman flung out a clay pot, shattered social conventions and immortalised the song in the Indian movie Guide. But embedded in the jubilance was the price she was willing to pay. This is the decision many women across Pakistan have to make when they tear through social conventions. The Jeenay Ki Tamanna And Marney Ka Iraada is congruent: the desire to live (as they want) requires the will to die.

Placing women on a continuum of purity and impurity is a recurring trope across many cultures: the virgin and the harlot, the home and the street, the pedestal and the brothel. Both ends, however, exist exclusively for fulfilling male desires. Women deemed impure cannot gain respectability. The pure ones live their lives in fear of being pushed down to the other side. There are caveats though. Resort to religion can help make the disreputable respectable, and class privilege can protect against the label of the prostitute.

The honour code earlier was a governance code in the absence of state supervision. However, in its current incarnation, it frees men from responsibility because honour lies not within their own actions but elsewhere. Like in folk tales across the world, men’s life, soul or strength was outsourced: the magician’s life in a parrot in a faraway land; Ravanna’s life placed in a box and given to a hermit before he left for war; the giant whose heart was in an exotic egg.

Hence in the general perception honour killing is not aggression but reaction. The perpetrator is recast as the victim of a moral crime and the killing is an act of the restitution of honour. Some years ago, I spoke to Hukumdin during the trial hearing of his son, who had bludgeoned his sister to death. He said of his daughter, “She was like a suicide bomber. She pursued what she wanted without thinking of anyone else, and it killed her and destroyed everyone around her in the process.” When I questioned him about the nebulous ‘it’ that killed her, he answered “Khudi” (selfhood).

There is a change though. Two decades ago, parliament declared honour crimes a cultural prerogative. Now with the Pre­vention of Anti-Women Practices law passed and additions made to the Pakistan Criminal Code that disable forgiveness for family members, the prime minister himself has pledged to pass a specific law on honour crimes.

Earlier, the state itself reserved the right to punish women for sexual transgressions under the Hudood Ordinance. Now not only can that no longer be invoked, the state has registered itself as a complainant in some recent cases of women being punished for sexual transgressions.

Previously, women have been killed inside the court premises while the judges looked on; now people have been sentenced with the maximum punishment for honour killings. In the past, people have looked to religion as justification for honour crimes whereas now most religious authorities condemn such murders. And earlier communities were unequivocal about their condemnation of women accused of bringing dishonour. But before burial, henna was applied on Qandeel, which in her home district of Dera Ghazi Khan is symbolic; it is meant for girls and women who die without having sinned, free from accusations of wrongdoing.

The earlier mode of collective, interdependent living made conformity to community standards necessary and public performances of honour desirable. That mode is finishing. Social structures are in a fight for survival of the status quo. In the long term, it won’t work. But in the interim, women’s lives will remain the battleground.

Nazish Brohi is a researcher and consultant in the social sector.

Source: dawn.com/news/1273561/honour-deviance


Erdogan is to Turkey what Ziaul Haq is to Pakistan

By Mushal Zaman

July 26, 2016

When Recep Tayyip Erdogan recited the following verses whilst serving as the Mayor of Istanbul back in 1999;

“The mosques are our barracks,

The domes our helmets,

The minarets our bayonets,

And the faithful our soldiers…”

Turkish citizens should have known better than to vote him in as prime minister for 11 consecutive years, and eventually, the president of Turkey.

Known to the world of politics since decades, Erdogan isn’t a stranger to how the political clock ticks. He created the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in 2001, which raised him to unprecedented heights. To date, his status within the party remains undefeated, with no internal rival whatsoever, and no opposition party strong enough to take on a political giant like Erdogan.

Known as a hero in the municipal history of Istanbul, he was quick to emulate his past feats. He glorified democracy, made an earnest effort to prevent corruption (later to be involved in a corruption case himself), lowered state debt, increased trade and developed infrastructure. Political pundits termed this period of progression the ‘Silent Revolution’.

A membership in the revered NATO and his effort to get European Union members to grant Turkish citizens visa free travel within the Schengen zone further strengthened his role as a political maestro.

One can see why Erdogan gained unparalleled popularity amongst his people. He was rooting for all the right things.

But just as nearly every man sows the seeds of his own downfall, Erdogan, too, began setting the stage for his eventual downfall.

Seen as a threat to Kemal Ataturk’s secular policies by many in the judiciary, Erdogan, a ‘patient Islamist,’ enjoys a solid 12% support of hard-core Islamists and conservative voters. He is known to promote the Islamisation of education and social behaviour, and is stated to have said he wants to witness “the growth of a religious generation”. One of his party members even went to the extent of stating AKP may be foregoing secularism in order to implement a religious constitution.

This was met with extreme backlash, for obvious reasons. Promoting Islamisation in a region surrounded by an ISIS stronghold isn’t the greatest of policies. An attack on a music store in Istanbul in June 2016 by extremists may have very well been the outcome of Erdogan’s ever-growing stance on the Islamisation of the Turkish state. What was more alarming, though, was how protestors rallying against this attack were dispersed with tear gas and water cannons and a law prohibiting protests was implemented thereafter.

Echoes of his Islamisation policies were also witnessed in the outcome of the recent failed coup. Supporters of Erdogan gathered at Taksim square, chanting ‘Allah o Akbar’, verses were read from the Holy Quran, appeals from imams at mosques were made in order to garner support for Erdogan and appeals of execution for the coup plotters reverberated throughout the square. These scenes were an eerie re-embodiment of Sultan Suleiman’s reign, where treason was punishable through execution.

An Islamist state may very well also serve as a breeding ground for ISIS soldiers and attacks, as witnessed in the recent Istanbul Ataturk Airport – though that doesn’t seem to trouble Erdogan much. His foremost concern is towards the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK).

Kurds in Turkey have undergone a cultural genocide, been brutally repressed by successive governments and were made to forcibly integrate into the state as a minority. Erdogan is known to use the war against Kurds to selfishly further his presidential agenda, but he is also aware of the fact that PKK is backed by strongholds in Iraq (Rojava) and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria. Therefore, Erdogan cannot afford to escalate the war against them or even fathom pushing the war beyond his borders.

What he’s more anxious about is the Independent Syrian Kurdistan party helping Turkish Kurds in plotting a revolutionary war within his dominion. Seeing how this matter is progressing, the only panacea to his fear regarding PKK is to sign a peace agreement and call for a ceasefire.

This option would have seemed plausible to many, but to Erdogan, it seems to translate into a sign of weakness.

In his rise to absolute power, evident through his wish to draft a new constitution granting him executive powers, he has managed to root out any sign of opposition, as seen with the PKK, followed by the army and the censorship of media and journalism.

In 2012, with the help of Fethullah Gulen, a former ally and a present arch nemesis, he conducted a witch hunt which witnessed the removal of army officers, falsely accused of plotting a coup against the government. It is rumoured Gulen may have set up his loyalists in place of the sacked officers, and these very same loyalists may have been the same men who planned the recent coup.

Erdogan’s panic and apprehension towards the army may have been the outcome of Turkey’s turbulent history with coups, in 1960, 1971, 1980 and 1997.

Meanwhile, Erdogan, slowly, yet steadily, marched on towards supremacy.

In the past year, he came down hard on news organisations, taking over one of Turkey’s main newspaper, Zaman, imprisoned journalists and banned Twitter and YouTube. Freedom, a vital foundation of democracy, began shrinking and Erodgan’s authoritarian power kept growing.

The recent coup will only feed Erdogan’s fears and suspicions and will further fortify his resolve to crush any parallel state wishing and waiting to evolve. A wolf in sheep’s clothing, Erdogan is waiting to pounce on any sign of rebellion, just as he is currently doing.

Throwing a childlike tantrum, Erdogan has blamed Gulen and Gulen loyalists for the failed coup, declared a state of emergency, demanded the American government to extradite Gulen and shut all institutions linked to Gulen. He ordered the arrests of thousands of judges and officers. The arrests are in vast numbers, so much so, prisons have run out of space and lower ranking officers have been imprisoned in schools and gymnasiums. It seems the failed coup has given Erdogan a blank cheque to dismiss basic human and democratic rights, something which most countries are outraged about – especially members of NATO.

Turkey had the right amount of secularism and was on its path to liberal development; a country which could very well serve as a role model for most Islamic countries, but Erdogan is adamant on destroying Turkey’s progressive image. What he needs is a reality check – the thousands of supporters who came out on the streets in an effort to avert the coup – were ardent supporters of democracy, not Erdogan.

Erdogan is on a rampage, a colossal beast no one dares stop.

It is only a matter of time before Erdogan tumbles off his throne, just like our very own despot, Zia ul Haq. Maybe he could take a page out of our history books and not repeat the same mistake. But ominous clouds are hovering above him and we can only wait and watch how another mighty man will crumble in his quest for absolute authority.

Mushal Zaman is a sub-editor at Tribune.

Source: blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/37679/erdogan-is-to-turkey-what-ziaul-haq-is-to-pakistan/


The March of Hate

By Khurram Husain

28 July, 2016

IT was hard to watch the events of the last few days without a feeling of dark foreboding. The coup attempt in Turkey was no ordinary event. Even in a Third World country, it would have been a spectacular event. How could thousands of military men, including senior officers, hatch a plot of this magnitude without being discovered? And what forces has the failed attempt unleashed, as Erdogan goes on a rampage mercilessly routing out all enemies — perceived and real — emboldened by his success in surviving the plot while shaken by the sheer breadth and audacity of it?

The eclipse of the Kemalist old guard in Turkey has opened the door to a power struggle between two visions of Islamist rule — the AKP vs the Gulenists.

Meanwhile, the two ramshackle conventions in America to choose the next presidential candidate were marred by serious fissures. All but one among former presidents and presidential candidates from the Republican party stayed away from their party convention in Ohio that nominated Donald Trump as the party candidate, a strong rebuke to a party that they feel is no longer theirs. The convention of the Democrats nominated Hillary Clinton over bitter jeering and under the shadow of the leaked emails that showed the party’s highest officers conspiring to stymie the candidacy of Sanders.

This is no longer an election. It is a battle to rescue America from the monsters of its own creation.

Europe is battling its own ghosts, with random killings becoming almost a daily occurrence, and claiming more than 100 lives in less than a fortnight. The perpetrators are found in almost all cases to be young Muslim men with a history of mental disturbance, who have somehow latched on to the headlines of the moment to infuse their personal anguish with geopolitical significance.

What is particularly troubling is that one cannot see any force that stands in the way of the growing right-wing resurgence around the world.

There may or may not be any geopolitical context to the actions of the lone wolf attacks being witnessed in Europe. One thing that comes out from the profile of each of the attackers is that these are lonely young men, with a troubled past, and lives torn by conflict. This is not grounds for empathy — after all thousands if not millions of others share their fate without resorting to such deeds — but it is the closest that we can come to putting their actions in any kind of geopolitical context.

The actions of these individuals are fuelling a further rightward shift in European politics. With both Germany and France — the two countries where the attacks are occurring — due for general elections next year, there is a strong likelihood that right-wing parties could come to power.

If this trend keeps up 2017 could be a grim year indeed. It could see Britain activate Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and initiate the process of formal withdrawal from the EU. It could see Trump being sworn in as president in January, followed by Le Pen in France in spring. Germany has already seen a 40pc surge in violent crimes with a right-wing political motive, mostly against immigrants. The prospects of a right-wing, xenophobic party coming to power in Germany are a bit more remote than in France, but given the prevailing uncertainties around the future of the EU, the continuing crisis with migrants and refugees, further terror attacks, the battle to restart growth, nobody can say how the future will play out there.

Even in our own neighbourhood, India is in the grips of an extremist-minded government, which is presiding over a brutal crackdown in held Kashmir, treating the area as “a colonial possession” in the words of Partha Chatterjee, a Colombia-based historian, while incidents of mob lynchings of people suspected to be eating or selling beef are growing daily. It’s hard to see how the juggernaut of Hindutva can be stopped there, given that it has only grown since the early 1990s, when the Bharatiya Janata Party formed its first government which didn’t last more than a few days.

What is particularly troubling is that one cannot see any force that stands in the way of the growing right-wing resurgence around the world. For a while, it seemed like there was a leftist revival under way in Latin America during the 2000s, when successive left-wing parties won the polls and ruled briefly in various countries there. But that resurgence was at least partially built on the commodity price boom in the world market, and those governments have all disappeared now leaving behind little more than a mess.

In Europe too, the rise of Syriza in Greece or Podemos in Spain was greeted with much anticipation at first but it became quite clear that neither party could deliver what they have promised.

As hate and xenophobia march across the world, capturing imaginations at the bottom and power at the top, the only obstacle standing in their way is an enfeebled common sense in defence of an embattled status quo. The real change makers now are on the far right. The rest of us are either spectators, or struggling to find the words with which to create a position.

A great consensus appears to be unravelling. It was built on a moral philosophy of individual freedom and material prosperity as top political and policy objectives. The unravelling has set the forces of hate and exclusion on the march, since they alone have the language with which to speak in such chaotic times. There is no coincidence in the timing of all this, coming in the immediate aftermath of the great financial crisis of 2008, which swept away the material underpinnings upon which all political power was built — whether institutional or philosophical.

The battles getting under way in country after country are only going to gather momentum from here onward because the old world is dead, and its certitudes and values with it.

Khurram Husain is a member of staff.

Source: dawn.com/news/1273558/the-march-of-hate


A Cultural Phenomenon

By Sultan Mehmood

July 27, 2016

Qandeel Baloch’s murder by her brother in Multan for the sake of so-called honour has seen ‘condemnations’ from all sides. The insinuation seems to be that all are unanimous in their condemnation of the scourge that is honour killing. However, anyone following their social media feeds or conversations with their friends and family will soon discover that this unanimity is an illusion. If we do not admit the ills of our society, how can we hope to transcend them?

How often have we heard the ‘knockout’ question, “If it was your sister, what would you have done?” Well, how about, not murdering your sister in cold blood? Or perhaps even more common is to hear, “It was wrong for her brother to kill her but (insert justification of murder).”

This is exactly the problem, that is, we have a sizable segment of our society which is adamant that Qandeel’s behaviour made the murder at least partly justified. This point of view is shared not by selected right-wing politicians or regressive clerics, but society at large. Even many of our ‘liberals’, while expounding their denunciation of a bare-faced murder, feel compelled to qualify it.

With these attitudes nurturing, stronger laws alone will not, cannot, prevent more brothers from joining the ranks of Waseem, Qandeel’s brother. It is no wonder that we see over a thousand reported cases of ‘honour’ killings annually.

I write this article primarily for the future brothers weighing in on whether to pursue the path taken by Waseem. I assure you, I will try my best not to demonise you but rather appeal to you. You can of course reject my plea, reject my arguments but do hear me out.

But how, you ask, can a murder of a person flaunting what society holds dear, be a tragedy? Because honour is an illusory concept and murder is real.

When I say that honour is a figment of our imagination, I do not mean to say that the shame felt by you is unreal. As Usman Mahar, an anthropologist studying South Asian gender norms, recently pointed out to me, “The way our communities are organised make the shame felt when a woman violates social norms very real indeed.”

Nevertheless, what I am saying is that when you juxtapose it with taking a human life, the shame, the honour and the stigma are all abstract. Our understanding of honour and shame is a product of our cultural and social evolution. Many don’t even remember this, but years ago in our culture, feelings of shame and indignation gripped the family if a man went outside the house without a cap and a stick. Ergo, what is considered shameful changes over time. Shame and honour are not immutable forces of nature which require an equilibration; these are quirks of time and place.

But murder is real. By taking Qandeel’s life, Waseem took away her hopes, her aspirations, the bad she would do, the good she would do, the roads taken and the roads not taken — all of this was snatched away from her in an instant.

The murder once and for all put an end to all that. But for what? For safeguarding and equilibrating the ‘honour’ of the family. This is the real tragedy — the victory of the unreal over the real.

Source: tribune.com.pk/story/1150737/a-cultural-phenomenon/


‘Fair Is Foul And Foul Is Fair…’

By Chris Cork

July 27, 2016

“Hover through the fog and filthy air.” Thus spake the witches in the opening scene of Shakespeare’s Macbeth and the paradox then gets explored in bloody depth throughout the play. The crones make promises of future greatness, inciting Lady Macbeth to kill Duncan and the truth of the paradox is revealed in that situations which might appear good when in reality they are evil or vice-versa — are all around us. People have the capacity to be good whilst appearing to be evil as well as to be evil whilst appearing good.

All of which is a roundabout way of trying to unpack and understand what is happening to the nature of terrorism, especially in respect of the changes in the terror paradigm being wrought by Islamic State (IS). Just as they brought to the table the borderless state (the ‘caliphate’) so they have brought do-it-yourself terror. Terror delivered with the everyday and the mundane, the off-the-shelf terror that can be bought in your local DIY store in the form of a set of kitchen knives or an axe to chop firewood. Or hired in the form of a ten-ton truck and then driven into crowds of people. No need for elaborate plotting, or the acquisition of complex and expensive equipment or guns, just goes shopping is all.

Radicalisation, that word we all think we now understand, that comes off the shelf as well, and it does not have to be a long and intensive process, it can happen within hours or days. And where there are groups of highly-suggestible people with a powerful sense of victimhood it is not difficult to envisage the embedding of a sense of righteousness that finds expression in the carving up of a few people on a train, or the cutting of the throat of a priest in his own church in front of the congregation with whom he was celebrating mass.

What is more the IS has delivered a blanket invitation to embrace the black righteousness. You do not have to have signed up, been recruited, indoctrinated or shipped off to a desert location for some exotic firearms-and-munitions training — not at all. All you have to do is pre-prepare your exit statement, dedicate it to IS in some retrievable format and the IS will be more than happy to take you as being of their own. They quickly embraced the two who died on the steps of a church in Rouen… fair is foul and foul is fair. Just depends on your perspective, really.

But if you really want to go the whole nine yards and build yourself a back-pack bomb then the essentials are at your very fingertips. Any one of you reading this online would be able, within minutes if you are nimble of finger and mind, to gather together a recipe for an explosive device. Even the bangables themselves can be home-grown, made in the garage. Buy a couple of kilos of ball-bearings and a simple electronic switch, find yourself a music festival in, say, southern Germany and there you are. Bits of Germans all over the landscape and righteous duty duly done.

Again from the viewpoint of IS any exploitable vulnerability in the human version of carpet bombing is desirable — like a certain mental instability or illness. Those of unsound mind who also happen to belong to marginalised minorities are fertile ground, and given the incidence of mental ill-health in any community, marginal or otherwise, we should not be surprised to find that some of our freshly disaggregated bombers have troubles of the mind — known, documented and sometimes treated as well. Not that that made a scrap of difference, did it?

The playbook of terror is being re-written before our very eyes, and for those that are used to having their terror packaged for them by the IRA, or ETA or Boko Haram or any one of the other franchises that have come and gone over the past fifty or so years, this is not easy reading. The paradox at the heart of the tragedy of Macbeth has been parlayed into a gruesome modern manual for the times. Shakespeare would have understood, of that I am certain.

Source: tribune.com.pk/story/1150744/fair-foul-foul-fair/


The Wrong Trump!

By Harlan Ullman


For many international as well as domestic observers, the American presidential campaign could be described by the great Irish wit Oscar Wilde’s bon mot about fox hunting: the indescribable in chase of the inedible. By the time this piece is printed, the Democratic National Convention will have started in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania known as “the city of brotherly love.”

This is ironic. What is missing in action in US politics has been any sign of “love” and particularly in the campaigns of both parties. For those readers who missed it, in Cleveland last week, Senator Ted Cruz turned Judas refusing to endorse Donald Trump and was duly booed off the stage. And do not expect this backstabbing to change now that the two candidates will take the gloves off in a match not covered by Marquis of Queensbury rules.

There is no suspense left to the Democratic event barring external fireworks or riots. Hillary Clinton has picked Tim Kaine as her running mate. Kaine is the junior senator from Virginia, and a former governor of that state as well as a mayor. He is a genuinely nice and intelligent person who, self-described as boring, is a quintessential public servant with no rough edges possessing an abundance of common sense. Indeed, the two men at the bottom of both tickets have qualities many wish were present in the candidates running for president.

That said, the ensuing 100 or so days until the November 8 election will prove to be strongly supporting reasons for my argument that the greatest security threat facing the US and most countries is failing government. This will be a spectacle if not for the ages surely marking a low point in American politics.

Last Thursday evening, in 73 or 74 minutes, Donald J Trump’s valedictory speech masterfully laid out all the reasons why he, the Republican nominee, is unfit for the presidency. Perhaps he should have followed the lead of his daughter Ivanka who introduced him. The 34-year-old Ms Trump, aka Mrs Jared Kushner, combined intellect with poise and charm so much so that if she had been 35 and eligible for the presidency, she might have gotten my vote.

The next day, predictably, Trump’s acceptance speech dominated the front, middle and editorial pages of the leading US newspapers. The Washington Post headline read, “Trump paints ominous picture;” The New York Times’ “His tone dark…” And so was the speech. Turning Ronald Reagan’s “morning in America” on its ear, Trump’s speech should have been subtitled “the American nightmare.”

Citing wrongly an upshot of killings and crime at home against both innocent civilians and law enforcement officers, which cherry picked if not distorted facts, and the dangers and threats posed by “Islamist terror,” a phrase he repeated often as a slam against President Barack Obama’s refusal to mate Islam with radical violence, Trump painted a grim portrait of the condition of Americans’ safety. The same dark views were also attached to an economically challenged nation in which the middle class was evaporating.

The cause of this domestic economic malaise was a “rigged” system.

Unlike his wife Melania Trump, whose speech earlier in the convention was riddled with unacknowledged prose used by Michelle Obama eight years earlier when her husband was nominated, Trump did mention Bernie Sanders whose message was redolent with “rigging.” And Trump was obviously and clumsily trying to woo Democrats and Sanders’ supporters with the same message of a rigged system admitting that no one knew “better than me (sic)” about how this rigging worked.

As bad as life was in America, Trump was even more negative in his assessment of the international situation. Declaring that he would destroy the Islamic State (IS) “quickly,” as with his other promises to prevent crime, fix the economy and solve all the pressing problems, solutions and plans were missing in action. Indeed, his fix for the IS of having the best intelligence, halting nation building and suspending immigration from regions of violence until proper vetting could be done was worse than superficial. It was absurd.

The image was of a blonde, orange-haired King Canute demanding that the oceans recede unaware that only the gravitational effects of the moon could accomplish that. But why should science and fact complicate Mr Trump’s promises? Clearly, they do not.

Trump tried to put the NATO toothpaste he had squeezed back into the tube after stating earlier that he might disregard the treaty assurances of Article 5 that “an attack against one was an attack against all” by recognising that the alliance had taken action over terror. But the screeches of protests from NATO members were shots fired at least partly around the world. My emails were filled with reactions of disbelief from former senior ministers and officials in Europe that Trump could be so detached from reality and dismissive of real allies.

There are two points to consider. First, compare the Republican convention today with conventions in 1968, 1972 and 1976. For the first, two Kennedys had been assassinated, and the US was waging a losing war in Vietnam in which riots wracked the nation. Ditto in 1972, except the Democratic nominee George McGovern had to dump his vice presidential running mate Thomas Eagleton after it was revealed he had received electrical shock treatment for mental illness.

In 1976, the nation had endured losing in Vietnam; the resignation of the vice president for bribery and the president over Watergate; the energy crisis and near confrontation with the Soviet Union over the Arab-Israeli October 1973 War; and an economy that was in tatters.

Is today any worse or more dangerous? The answer is of course not. People must understand that.

Second and last, as Walter Mondale once famously asked, “Where is the beef?” Mr Trump? Assertions and guarantees of “I will” have not been matched with any substantial plans of action to achieve these lofty and unachievable promises. If the Democrats had a candidate who was not so distrusted, the election would be a foregone conclusion and possibly the greatest blowout since 1964 when Lyndon Baines Johnson demolished Barry Goldwater. Instead, the unachievable is running against the merely unacceptable. Shame on us!

Harlan Ullman  is UPI’s Arnaud de Borchgrave Distinguished Columnist. He serves as Senior Advisor for Supreme Allied Commander Europe, the Atlantic Council and Business Executives for National Security and chairs two private companies. His last book is A Handful of Bullets: How the Murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand Still Menaces the Peace. His next book due out next year is Anatomy of Failure: Why America Loses Wars It Starts

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/28-Jul-16/the-wrong-trump


When IS Claims Terrorist Attacks, It’s worth Reading Closely

By Max Bearak

28 July, 2016

THE terrorist attacks seem to come one right after the other, by truck, handgun, axe, assault rifle, machete, bomb and knife. Each day, a string of news alerts on your phone. Or worse, the sound of shots fired, or sirens blaring in your city.

In a show of the militant Islamic State group’s increasing influence, we now await, and even expect, revelations that the attackers are affiliated with the group. Terrorism in most of the world has become synonymous with its name.

But in many recent cases, it seems that the IS’s media apparatus is also waiting for those revelations.

Since the highly coordinated attacks in Paris last November, most of the attacks that the group eventually claimed were carried out by individuals who may never have come into direct contact with operatives in their supposed “caliphate” in northern Iraq and Syria.

These attackers did not give the IS notice that they would be acting in its name. Instead, some of them self-radicalised and left recordings behind offering oaths of allegiance.

By reading the language in the IS’s claims on attacks, one can see which of them were heavily directed, as in Paris and Brussels, and which were simply inspired by the group’s ideology. There is a clear difference between claims made after attacks that IS leaders knew about beforehand, and attacks they didn’t.

In the case of Paris, for instance, highly detailed press releases were distributed right after the carnage, complete with videos and pictures. On the other hand, Amaq, the IS’s media arm, claims responsibility for “inspired” attacks only once it gets credible information of a link, either from a source of its own or from the news media. The IS does not always have its own inside source.

“What has evolved is that they are doing much the same thing that we do as analysts, which is watch these attacks and try and figure out if it is IS-inspired,” said J. M. Berger, a fellow with George Washington University’s Program on Extremism and the co-author of ISIS: The State of Terror.

After a man blew himself up in Ansbach, Germany on Sunday, it took Amaq 24 hours to claim that the IS inspired the attack. After a 17-year-old axe-wielding Afghan went on a rampage on a train, also in Germany, it took nine hours to issue such a claim. After Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel mowed down dozens in Nice with a truck, it took a full day and a half.

“For these inspired attacks, it’s important to know that [the media people in Syria] don’t even know of these guys.

They have nothing to do with them. They aren’t in contact with them directly,” said Amarnath Amarasingam, a fellow studying extremism at Dalhousie University in Canada and the co-director of a study of Western fighters for the Islamic State, based at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.

The lag time in claiming an attack reflects a need to establish a credible link between the attacker and the IS. Many have lampooned the IS as an organisation keen to claim each and every terrorist attack around the world, but analysts say it has a vested interest in being accurate.

“They’re careful about it. They couch their terms a bit,” said Berger. “If they can accurately insert themselves into the narrative around an attack, they win, essentially.”

In other cases, though, it has proved effective for IS to claim attacks in which the link is far sketchier. For instance, in the San Bernardino attack last December, the media widely reported that the couple who carried out the attack had posted an oath of allegiance to IS on Facebook. Amaq then proclaimed them “soldiers of the caliphate”.

But the FBI never confirmed that the Facebook post was ever written, and Director James Comey said at the time, “I’ve seen some reporting on that, and that’s a garble.” San Bernardino nonetheless gave IS the chance to claim its first “inspired” attack on American soil.

Beyond credibility issues, the hesitance to immediately claim the attacks like the most recent ones in Germany and France may also reflect embarrassment the group felt after associating with particular lone-wolf attackers.

In the weeks following their attacks, news reports indicated that the attacker in Nice, Mohamed Bouhlel, and Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people at an Orlando, Florida, nightclub in June, may have had sexual relationships with other men.

Mateen and Bouhlel were each embraced by IS before that became public, and homosexuality is punished through gruesome death penalties in the “caliphate”.

In cases like those, attackers not vetted by the IS may still be at worst a double-edged sword for the organisation.

After all, despite bad publicity, IS can still claim that it inspired those attacks. And the greater the perceived threat from the group becomes, the more it may stir calls for larger-scale retaliation or anti-Muslim policies, leading to the radicalisation of others.

Tuesday’s killing of an octogenarian priest in France yielded a relatively quick claim. Between “directed” and “inspired” attacks, it seems that this one lies somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.

News reports quickly uncovered one of the attackers’ attempts last year to travel to Syria. Amaq’s statement called the men “executors” and “soldiers of the Islamic State”, but more or less acknowledged that IS had not directed the attack. Instead, as in other “inspired” attacks, Amaq said the men had responded to a call for attacks to be carried out in countries participating in the coalition fighting IS in Iraq and Syria.

But it attributed its claim to an “insider source”, whom Amarasingam said was likely to be someone the attacker was in touch with during his failed “hijra” to Syria last year. The part-directed, part-inspired nature of the attack poses a dilemma for law enforcement in the West: does preventing people from travelling to Syria increase the likelihood of an attack at home?

“That’s been part of IS’s propaganda,” said Amarasingam. “You either pack your bags or sharpen your knives. And if you’re unable to travel here and join the caliphate, either because you can’t afford it or law enforcement is watching you, you do have another recourse, which is to defend us wherever you are.”

Source: dawn.com/news/1273634/when-is-claims-terrorist-attacks-its-worth-reading-closely

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/pakistan-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/honour-and-deviance--new-age-islam-s-selection,-28-july-2016/d/108100


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