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November 11, 2011

The Stream – Foreign workers under threat in Russia


Hundreds of poor migrants are dying in Russia. Is that nation’s neo-Nazi movement to blame?

The Stream speaks with Erica Marat, a Central Asia researcher with the Jamestown Foundation, and Madeleine Reeves, a social anthropologist at the University of Manchester.

Syrian Actress on Hunger Strike فدوى سليمان


The courageous Syrian actress Fadwa Suleiman, who has led several anti-regime demonstrations in Homs, makes a videotaped plea to her fellow citizens. Below is a translation of the text of her speech:

“General strike Thursday in the city of Homs: Since yesterday, neighborhoods in Homs have been searched by the security forces looking for me. People were beaten to force them to reveal where I was. In case I am arrested by the security forces or the army, it is possible that I will be forced to appear on the Dunia TV station to confess that I am part of a conspiracy against Syria as they have done with the honorable hero, sheikh Ahmad Alsayasen and the (defected) army officer Hussein Harmoush. In case I or any one of my family are harmed in any way, I hold the regime, the army, the security forces and the shabiha (thugs) fully responsible. I declare that I will continue to demonstrate and continue the hunger strike that I started two days ago to prove to all our partners in the nation the lies of the regime about the presence of armed gangs, salafis and Muslim extremists intent on overthrowing the regime and exterminating the minorities. I advise the great people of Syria to continue their peaceful protests until the fall of the regime and they achieve the civil, democratic country that all Syrians dream of. I implore all Syrians to remain unified and stand together until the fall of the regime, the regime that has lost its legitimacy since the constitution was altered to accommodate Bashar Al Assad’s rise to the presidency for no reason other than the fact that he was the son of the previous president. I call on you today and every day to descend to every public square in civil disobedience and to go on hunger strike until the withdrawal of the army and security forces from every city and street and the release of all prisoners of conscience and political prisoners from the jails of oppression. I call on all honorable Syrians everywhere and I call on every human being wherever they are, to support us and to stand in front of our embassies all over the world and to declare their intent to go on hunger strike in solidarity with the right of all people to freely choose their own government without fear of losing their life. Oh free people of Damascus, free people of Barzeh and Quaboon and Midan, the free people of Douma and Kadam and Muadamieh and Harasta and Irbeen and Riknideen and Zabadani. Oh free people of Daraa and Baniyas and Latakia and Tartous. Oh free people of Hama and Aleppo and Idlib and Bukamal and Deir Elzor and Raqqah and Quamishli and Hasakeh. I call upon you to declare your civil disobedience and go on hunger strike in all public squares and streets in solidarity with the prisoners of the central prison of Homs who are themselves on hunger strike and to lift the siege off the neighborhood of Baba Amr that has been subjected to continuous shelling with heavy machine guns and artillery for the past week and that has been isolated from the world. No one knows what is going on inside Baba Amr. Baba Amr is being subjected to a real humanitarian disaster. Stand with them because no street, neighborhood or city in Syria is immune to what is happening in Baba Amr. As the Arab League continues to set one deadline after another, the regime continues to oppress the people of Syria, robbing them of their dignity, their freedom and their life.

And peace, all the peace for Syria and it people.
And peace, all the peace for Syria and it people. 
 And peace, all the peace for Syria and it people.

Thursday of the General Strike, Homs, 11/10/2011.”

(Translation: Abu Kareem)


A Road to Mecca

More than 80 years ago, one man crossed the frontline between the Muslim world and the West – we retrace his journey.
Al Jazeera World Last Modified: 09 Nov 2011 07:32
See whole film here :

In A Road to Mecca, filmmaker George Misch sets out to explore the frontline between the Muslim world and the West. His guide for this journey is a man from the past – somebody who, 80 years earlier, crossed all boundaries between countries, cultures and religions.

Leopold Weiss was born a Jew on the edge of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1900. But his story would unfold far away in the deserts of Arabia.

Feeling restless and unhappy in Europe, in 1922 Weiss accepted an uncle’s invitation to join him in Jerusalem. But what began as a family visit soon turned into a life-changing journey.

Weiss enjoyed the hospitality of the Arabs he met in the Middle East and was enchanted by their lifestyle. With the passion of an explorer, he began to travel across the region.

His travels and encounters nurtured in him a sense that Zionism was causing a great injustice to the Palestinian Arabs. In Jerusalem, he got into heated arguments with the leaders of the Zionist movement and began to feel at a greater distance from the religion of his ancestors than ever before.

“Islam should be presented without any fanaticism. Without any stress on our having the only possible way and the others are lost. Moderation in all forms is a basic demand of Islam.”Muhammad Asad

As he discovered the Muslims of the Middle East, Weiss also discovered Islam – studying the Quran and finding not only the answer to the spiritual emptiness he had felt but also an alternative to the materialism of Europe’s Roaring Twenties. In Saudi Arabia, Weiss felt truly at home, writing: “I am no longer a stranger.”

In 1926, he converted to Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Asad. Full of enthusiasm, he embarked upon his first pilgrimage to Mecca.

Curious to get to know other Muslim communities, in 1932 Asad left Saudi Arabia – travelling to Turkistan, China and Indonesia. In India, he met poet and philosopher Muhammad Iqbal. Iqbal dreamed of creating a separate Islamic state as a solution to the bloodshed between Indian Muslims and Hindus. Iqbal’s vision of Pakistan quickly became Asad’s own dream.

Asad campaigned for the creation of Pakistan by writing books, giving public lectures and hosting radio programmes. He also drafted the outline for an Islamic constitution in which equal rights for women were secured.

In 1951, Asad became Pakistan’s envoy to the United Nations. But to his dismay he was forced out of the position after just one year. Deeply disappointed, he turned his back on politics, deciding instead to write his autobiography in the hope that it would promote better understanding between Muslims and the West. The Road to Mecca quickly became a bestseller.

By 1970, Asad had grown increasingly concerned that the Quran was being misinterpreted and misused for political goals. This motivated him to undertake his biggest challenge: a new translation of and commentary on the Quran. He settled in Morocco and estimated that it would take him four years to complete. Seventeen years later it was finished. He dedicated it to “people who think”.

“Every age requires a new approach to the Quran for the simple reason that the Quran is made for all ages. It is our duty to look for deeper meanings in the Quran in order to increase our knowledge and experience. The Quran wants your intellect to be always active and trying to approach the message of God. God himself dedicated this book to people who think.”Muhammad Asad

Despite the fact that Asad today has a loyal following among those who share an interest in his writings and an intellectual affiliation with him, his translation was not embraced by all. Rumour has it that there were even book burnings of Asad’s Quran.

Emotionally and financially exhausted, he withdrew to Europe – settling in Spain in 1987. He planned to revise his translation once more but old age and prolonged illness prevented him from completing it. On February 20, 1992, he died, alone and secluded.

A Road to Mecca can be seen from Tuesday, November 8, at the following times GMT: Tuesday: 2000; Wednesday: 1200; Thursday: 0100; Friday: 0600; Saturday: 2000; Sunday: 1200; Monday: 0100.

Irish Gaza activists to return home

An image released by the Israel Defence Forces shows Israeli soldiers boarding the Irish vessel the MV 'Saoirse', which was carrying activists towards Gaza.An image released by the Israel Defence Forces shows Israeli soldiers boarding the Irish vessel the MV ‘Saoirse’, which was carrying activists towards Gaza.


The remaining nine Irish citizens detained after they tried to breach Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza over a week ago are due to return to Ireland today.

Five of the 14 flew into Dublin airport late yesterday after earlier failing to make a British Airways flight they were scheduled to travel on.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore said today he had some concerns around aspects of the activists’ detention and said he would follow this up with the Israeli authorities once all 14 had returned to Ireland.

The Irish embassy in Tel Aviv yesterday lodged two “firm protests” with the Israeli authorities over the treatment of Irish activists who missed two planned flights due to what the Israelis claimed were security procedures.

The Israeli embassy claimed the airline took a decision not to allow all seven on board. “The reasons for this decision are unknown to us, and must be sought from British Airways,” a statement from the embassy said.

A spokesman for British Airways, however, said the airline was due to carry only two deportees at the request of the Israeli authorities. He said those two arrived at the aircraft too late to make the flight.

Arrangements were then made for all seven to travel on a Lufthansa flight later yesterday afternoon.

Irish diplomats present at the airport, including Ambassador Breifne O’Reilly, made repeated requests to be allowed accompany the activists to the aircraft but these were declined by the Israeli authorities.

In the end, all but two of the seven activists, campaign co-ordinator Fintan Lane and university lecturer Zoe Lawlor, were allowed board the Lufthansa aircraft.

The Israeli embassy refused to provide an explanation for why Mr Lane and Ms Lawlor were prevented from boarding the flight, saying it could not refer to “the events which took place at Ben Gurion airport this afternoon because it has to do with security matters.”

It also blamed the activists for their predicament.

“Since the whole \[flotilla] episode was a mere provocation, then it is obviously in the interest of the participants – and certainly not in the interest of Israel – to prolong it as much as they can,” the embassy said in a statement.

“We can only express our earnest hope that these people leave Israeli soil as quickly as possible.” The Irish Ship to Gaza campaign branded what transpired at the airport “bizarre and cruel” and Irish diplomats privately expressed frustration.

Mr Lane and Ms Lawlor eventually succeeded in boarding a Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul yesterday evening and are expected home today.

The remaining seven activists, including Socialist MEP Paul Murphy flew out of Israel on an El Al flight today.


BDS boycott divestment sanctions against Israel


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