Norway killings reveal politics of hate

From the Restore Fairness blog-

A 32 year old Norwegian man is behind the brutal killings of 76 people in twin attacks that have shocked the world. We mourn the loss of those that lost their lives in this senseless violence. And as the shock wears off, we are slowly beginning to learn the motives behind the attack, much of which has been linked to a hatred of immigration and multiculturalism.

The man, Anders Behring Breivik, left behind a 1,500 page manifesto where he talks about the need to start a revolution against multiculturalism, fueled by the failure of Norwegian politicians in protecting the country from the influence of outsiders, with a particular focus on Muslim immigrants. The main target of his attacks were government buildings and a youth camp run by the ruling Labour Party, symbols of the government he felt were the largest obstacles to his ideal society- one without any immigrants.

In many ways, the killings have focused attention on the anti-immigrant rhetoric voiced openly in Europe. As a BBC article ‘Norway and the politics of hate’ reports,

Some of Europe’s leaders, from Angela Merkel to David Cameron, have questioned multiculturalism. The danger, of course, is that such statements can encourage extremism. Others say that in Europe the debate needs to be had, openly and transparently about immigration and multiculturalism.

A Reuters article ‘Norway massacre exposes incendiary immigration issue’ explains an even more extreme version of this questioning.

Many far-right European groups have shifted away from overtly racist rhetoric and have instead focused their argument on stressing what they see as the incompatibility of Islam and European values….Anti-immigrant and anti-Islamic parties have gained traction in Nordic and Scandinavian countries in recent years, tapping public anxiety over the relatively recent phenomenon of mass migration, particularly of Muslims, to their region.

It goes on to explain the political scenario in Sweden where the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats, despite having roots in neo-Nazi movements of the last two decades, were elected to Parliament for the first time. And although “there may be no direct link between violence and comments by politicians, the rhetoric creates a fertile environment for ethnically motivated attacks.”

The attacks also spotlight anti-Muslim thought in the U.S. as Breivik’s manifesto credits many American bloggers and writers who talk about the dangers of Islam to the west, with angry posts creating fear and hatred.

His manifesto cited Western writers who shared his view that Muslim immigrants pose a grave danger to Western culture…Marc Sageman, a former C.I.A. officer and a consultant on terrorism, said it would be unfair to attribute Mr. Breivik’s violence to the writers who helped shape his world view. But at the same time, he said the counterjihad writers do argue that the fundamentalist Salafi branch of Islam “is the infrastructure from which Al Qaeda emerged. Well, they and their writings are the infrastructure from which Breivik emerged.

There is never an explanation for senseless acts of violence such as this that take the lives of innocent people. While Saturday’s shooting can be seen as an isolated action of an individual, it can also be seen as emblematic of an international landscape that is often angry, divisive and intolerant. As the world churns with change, globalization has led to the shrinking of the world, often placing different cultures together. And yet, while divisive rhetoric thrives, little attention seems to be paid to the importance of diverse societies, the richness offered by immigration, and the necessity of their contributions to growing economies.

As the world reels from this violent tragedy, we must remember that the responsibility for not allowing the politics of hate to spread lies with each and every one of us. If anything, this tragic moment should become a turning point for a more honest conversation that uplifts each other and upholds the rights for everyone to live fairly with dignity and equality and justice.

Photos courtesy of nytimes.com

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Kenyan Constitutional Referendum Vote in 2 days! Families begin cautionary evacuation

I opened up the Daily Nation today (Kenya's national newspaper) and wasn't surprised to see what headed the front cover of the referendum section.  This Constitutional Referendum vote has been much anticipated over the past several months.  During my stint in Kenya the proposed constitution was the talk of the town.  The YES and NO campaigns were heatedly gunning for support among the many districts, areas, and tribal zones that encompass the small east african nation.

The front page showed images of people and discussed how people in a town I have visited (Narok) were beginning to move out/evacuate in the wake of the referendum vote, in fear of a violent and potentially deadly uproar after the vote had taken place and the final tally counted.

Scores of families have started leaving Narok for fear of a recurrence of violence ahead of Wednesday’s referendum.

Several lorry-loads of residents have for the past few days been moving out with their personal belongings on the Narok- Bomet, Mulot-Sogoo and Mulot-Mara roads.

This is very wrong. All we are doing is a contest like any other where the winners will still dine with the losers. They need not have moved and we are asking the security agents to intervene and assure everyone of their safety,” said Mr Ntutu

The areas affected are Munyasi in Mara division, Olala and Tenduet in Mulot divisions.

Daily Nation

This vote will be crucial in the advancement of Kenya as a true democracy and a nation governed by the people.  It will be very interesting to see the result, but my fear is that this won't be a political decision accompanied without violence.

Bringing the public up to speed, it is necessary to refer back to the presidential election in 2007 for Kenya.  Violence ensued after a corruptive decision was made and voter fraud later confirmed for now President Kibaki (who represents the Kikuyu tribe).  The mess continued for nearly 6 months and thousands of people lost their lives due to a large political decision.  

The referendum has the potential to be no different, and even worse.  There is much division over the content of the proposed constitution, but what I heard most about was the Kadhi Courts. 

On Monday, three judges said "Kadhi" courts favoured Islam over other faiths, and this was unconstitutional since Kenya is a secular country.

The Kadhi courts deal mainly with matters of marriage and inheritance among Kenya's Muslim minority.

They have been a contentious issue as Kenya debates a new constitution.

The country's Attorney General Amos Wako said the judgement itself was unconstitutional and sets a bad precedent.

The Kenyan government - including Mr Wako - supports a draft of the constitution which includes Kadhi courts.

Source: BBC

My hopes are that Kenya will face a safe and successful vote this August 4th, but given the past events and African Politics in general, I have to fear a violent uproar.  I will keep posting on MyDD about this because it is (believe it or not) pertinent to the United States, which is why the Obama Administration has invested much time in pursuing relations with the YES campaign.

Allah-U-Akbar !

I don't know about you, but I for one never grasped the committment to democrcy by the people of Iran. The protests there, at first  seemed a little bit like a visitation from the moon. I mean weren't they recently part of the axis of evil?

Now, as  I follow the news on twitter, at the BBC and also from Nico Pitney at Huffpo, I cannot escape my own history in this moment. This is not my first doomed uprising in a totalitarian county. I go back to Czechoslovakia, and I still remember the burning taste of ashes in my mouth as the tanks rolled into the streets of Prague.  I think your first is the most heart wrenching. My eyes bled for the Czechs.

Then came Tiananmen. I lived in China for several years and so it was like watching old friends stare down tanks. I had also just crossed the border into Nepal from Tibet when the Tibetans rose up against their occupation by the Chinese in'87. I tried  to leave the bus, to go back and bear witness, but it was not to be.

And now it is Iran,  the latest of the uprisings that one watches in awe, afraid for them, admiring, weeping at the mighty injustice of voices against bullets.

We cannot take sides in an internal Iranian dispute. But with all my heart I say that  we can concentrate our history and send it forth as a clarion call letting  those who long for freedom know they have a friend here.

All the European Embassies are taking in the walking wounded in Iran today.

I am taking them into my heart, and  I know millions of Americans are also. No one who stands for freedom and for free and fair elections is my enemy. The government of Iran will not keep the people of Iran separate from their friends and well wishers all over the world and especially here in America, where we value liberty and have long understood its price.

Allah-u-akbar

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Breaking News: Obama in Afghanistan

BBC is reporting that Senator Obama has arrived in Afghanistan. Other than Afghanistan he is planning to visit Iraq, Jordan, Israel, Germany, France and Britain.

US Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama has arrived in Afghanistan, at the start of a campaign-season international tour. The countries he is also expected to visit include Iraq, Jordan, Israel, Germany, France and Britain.The Illinois senator flew to the Afghan capital, Kabul, as part of an official congressional delegation.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7515 179.stm

Check the time on AP News. MyDD beats AP on the Breaking News?? AP Link

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The BBC, Iran, and Israeli Propaganda

I posted this diary on Daily Kos on Nov 11, 2006, and I am reposting it here today for its relevance to the recent missile tests in Iran, because it seems pertinent to understanding how serious politicians from Israel seem bent on avoiding a nuclear capable Iran. At the time, only a year and a half ago, it was pure propaganda, perhaps a vehicle of intimidation. Iran, however, never bought into it. Still, it shows the seriousness with which Israel views the problem of not being the only nuclear power in the Middle East.

The BBC and Israeli Propaganda is the actual subtitle of the article, Israel's Plan for a Military Strike on Iran, by JONATHAN COOK, a British journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. It was published in CounterPunch on October 12, 2006 and is reproduced again by permission. At the time, there was an upsurge of interest in Iran's "threat," but the immediate circumstances are not now clear.

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