Reader’s Links for December 20, 2018

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Thank you all for those that take the effort to assist this site in keeping the public informed. Below, typically people can find the latest enemy propaganda, news items of related materials from multiple countries and languages, op-eds from many excellent sites who write on our topics, geopolitics and immigration issues and so on.

About Eeyore

Canadian artist and counter-jihad and freedom of speech activist as well as devout Schrödinger's catholic

125 Replies to “Reader’s Links for December 20, 2018”

    • Woman killed after car ploughs into bus stop in Germany (saudigazette, Dec 20, 2018)

      “BERLIN — A woman was killed by a car that ploughed into a bus stop in the western German town of Recklinghausen on Thursday, media quoted police as saying.

      Police are still investigating the cause of the crash, which also left nine other people injured.

      A police spokeswoman told mass-selling Bild newspaper the woman had been killed and that the driver of the car, who was among the injured, was apparently trying to take his own life.

      Police in Recklinghausen could not be reached for comment.

      Meanwhile, security was reinforced on Thursday at several airports in western Germany, police said, amid some unconfirmed media reports of a terrorist threat.

      Heavily armed police were patrolling late Thursday in several airports, including Stuttgart, Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden, Friedrichshafen, and Mannheim, according to a federal police spokesman.

      The reinforced presence of police will remain in place until further notice, the spokesman added.

      At the same time there has been no disruption to flights, a spokeswoman for the airports said.

      Some German media have speculated as an explanation for the beefed-up security the spotting of four men, including a militant, allegedly suspected of planning an attack, which police did not confirm.

      Several days ago, the men were filmed by a surveillance camera at Stuttgart airport, the daily Tagesspiegel reported. They remained near the metal detectors without taking a flight and without baggage.

      And Suedwestrundfunk, a media group in western Germany, reported that Moroccan authorities had informed their German counterparts that they had intercepted conversations referring to a possible attack at an airport near the German-French border.

      Small airports have also reinforced security controls “as a precaution”, police at Reutlingen said. — AFP”

      • About that airport:

        Moroccan intelligence intercepted suspicious phone calls between two individuals about a future attack and immediately informed their German counterparts of their suspicions and the suspects’ names.
        The German television channel SWR reported that the two suspects were heard planning an attack while surveying Stuttgart airport.
        According to the suspects’ phone calls, their motive was revenge against Western policies.
        “They are waging war against Islam; my brothers and I are here to fight them,” said one suspect over the phone. “Will I be alone?” asked a suspect. “No, we are many,” the second responded.
        German authorities confirmed that surveillance cameras filmed two individuals taking pictures of Stuttgart airport. The men were driving a white Mercedes Sprinter.
        After identifying the van’s owner, a resident of the North Rhine-Westphalia state in western Germany, police began searching for the man and his son.
        The two suspects, allegedly ISIS members, were also spotted taking pictures of the Paris CDG airport two days after the attack on the Strasbourg Christmas market on December 12.
        Authorities also saw two other suspects photographing the airport.

  1. Court: Ex-Sen. Hassan IT Aide Who Allegedly Doxxed Senators ‘Downloaded More Information Than Was Originally Understood’

    A former Senate IT aide who allegedly “doxxed” Republican senators by posting their home addresses during the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and blackmailed a witness “downloaded more information than was originally understood,” Judge Thomas Hogan said in District of Columbia federal court Wednesday.

    Prosecutors said in November they found “terabytes of data” that they were reviewing as evidence in the case. Lawyers indicated Wednesday that what they found was so sensitive the public could not even hear it discussed. (RELATED: Republican Senators Doxxed By Someone In House Shortly After Questioning Kavanaugh)

    The judge took the unusual step of kicking reporters and even Cosko’s own mother out of the courtroom for more than a half hour while prosecutors and the defense discussed what they found with the judge.

    “The defense and government have filed a motion to seal the courtroom for certain matters that are not suitable for the public,” Hogan said.

  2. On the very same day that resigning House Speaker Paul Ryan delivered his farewell address on the floor of Congress, fellow House Rep. Louie Gohmert revealed what may perhaps be the real reason why his relatively young colleague’s career has come to an unexpected end.

    “Just a few weeks before the [2016] election, we were told by Paul, by our elected leaders that, gee, the only way we can keep the House majority is just all of us start running against the president,” Gohmert claimed during an interview on radio station WMAL “The Larry O’Connor Show.”

    “Fortunately, we had enough people one after another on the call that pushed back so hard they backed off of that,” he added during his discussion Wednesday with guest host Derek Hunter.

    Gohmert disseminated the shocking revelation during a broader discussion on how congressional Republicans seem to always be hijacking President Donald Trump’s agenda.

  3. BREAKING: Acting AG Matt Whitaker CLEARED to Take Over Mueller Probe — SHUT IT DOWN!

    Whitaker immediately took over the Mueller investigation, bumping DAG Rod Rosenstein from the role and the Democrats went crazy calling for him to recuse himself.

    Three Senate Judiciary Democrats then sued to block Matthew Whitaker from serving as Attorney General.

    Senators Blumenthal, Whitehouse and Hirono sued to block Whitaker from “serving in any office within the federal government” because the Senate hasn’t consented.

    On Wednesday Acting Attorney General Whitaker was cleared by ethics officials to take over the Mueller probe — he does NOT need to recuse himself.

    Acting AG Matthew Whitaker will not recuse from Russia probe, after ethics meetings

    Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker will not recuse himself from overseeing the Russia probe, despite mounting pressure from Democrats who cite his “hostility” toward Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation.

    Senior Justice Department officials told Fox News on Thursday that Whitaker met several times with Department ethics officials, who found no conflicts of interest regarding his oversight of Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling and potential collusion with Trump campaign associates during the 2016 presidential election.

    A small group of senior advisers then did their own review and recommended that Whitaker not recuse himself. Whitaker agreed.

    “It’s a close call,” one senior DOJ ethics official said, noting that he would have recommended Whitaker recuse out of an abundance of caution.

    Whitaker, who served as chief of staff to former Attorney General Jeff Sessions until Sessions was fired, has faced extreme pressure from Democrats to recuse himself to ensure that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein continues in that role.

  4. Obama’s Christmas Genocide
    From Iraq to Gaza, from Egypt to Syria, fewer Christians in the Middle East.
    December 20, 2018
    Daniel Greenfield

    This Christmas, there will be fewer Christians celebrating in their homes in the Middle East than ever before.

    Before Obama, Nineveh Plains hosted 90,000 Christians. Today, it’s under 40,000.

    Nineveh is one of the first cities mentioned in the Bible. The Nineveh Plains are the heartland of Syriac Christianity. But now the plains are barren with ruined churches and deserted homes in formerly Christian towns and cities. And that same story repeats itself across Iraq where 81% of Christians have disappeared.

    In Mosul alone, over 100,000 Christians were displaced as Jihadists marked their doors with an “N” for Nazarene. From cities to small towns, the end of the year bears witness to a Christian genocide.

    In 2008, there were an estimated 700,000 Christians in Iraq, today estimates hover between 250,000 and 300,000. While ISIS is most directly associated with terror against Christians, most Jihadist groups, including those backed by Obama, intimidated, robbed and tortured them.

    In January 2014, Obama dismissed ISIS as a “jayvee” team. That summer, the team took Qaraqosh and its surrounding villages, including Bartella. The Christians were given a choice between converting, paying Jizya, the traditional Dhimmi tax that Muslims impose on non-Muslims under Islamic law, and “death by the sword.”

  5. In examining the cast of FBI and senior Department of Justice (DOJ) officials fired, retired, resigned and under investigation since May 2017, the breathtaking scope of the FBI’s unprecedented criminal efforts to steer a presidential election and frame a newly elected president serves as Exhibit A for the organization’s disbandment. The “leadership” that willfully and corruptly ignored Hillary Clinton’s criminal mishandling of highly classified information had no problem faking a counterintelligence investigation to smear and destroy President Trump.

    A recitation of the FBI/DOJ Litany of Shame is called for: Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Page, Baker, Ohr, Yates, Priestap, Rybicki, Kortan, Campbell, Turgal, Bower, Steinbach, Giacalone, Laufman, Carlin, McCord — there are more, and eventually we’ll learn their names. Some took unlawful action draped in the American flag and smarmy self-righteousness. Some were careerists craving a retirement paycheck and a strong resume, standing by and doing nothing — negligent or complicit with guilty knowledge

    The group dubbed the “Secret Society” by FBI lawyer Lisa Page in a text to self-anointed FBI “Super Agent” Peter Strzok had a clear goal: Stop Trump. But how to do that “legally”? How does one manufacture a phony Russia hoax and hang it around Trump’s neck when you’re constrained from going after his campaign, organization and staff?

    The FBI is specifically prohibited from penetrating and subverting U.S. organizations under the provisions of Executive Order 12333, Section 2.9: “No one acting on behalf of agencies within the Intelligence Community may join or otherwise participate in any organization in the United States on behalf of any agency within the intelligence community without disclosing his intelligence affiliation to appropriate officials of the organization, except in accordance with procedures established by the head of the agency concerned and approved by the attorney general.” That’s tough for the “secret society.”

    • Yes the FBI needs to be disbanded, some people are talking about how it will take a generation to rebuild peoples trust in the FBI. That is BS it will take a lot longer to rebuild peoples trust.The Prohibition Bureau was distrusted because of the corruption that ran through the entire organization, after prohibition was repealed they renamed it the ATF and tried to make people respect it. The people in the firearms world in the US distrust it as much as we have learned to distrust the FBI.

    • More than willing to assault peacefull members of the English public,but we will run for two miles backwards across London while being persued by rabid muslims,the police are not fit for purpose.

    • Iran, Turkey Sign MoUs during Presidential Visit (tasnimnews, Dec 20, 2018)

      “The governments of Iran and Turkey signed two memorandums of understanding during Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s official visit to Ankara on Thursday.

      Senior officials from the two countries signed the MoUs at a meeting attended by President Hassan Rouhani and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

      The documents entail cooperation between the two neighbors in the health and medical sector as well as communications and media.

      Heading a high-ranking political and economic delegation, the Iranian president has travelled to the neighboring country at the invitation of Erdogan to attend the fifth round of Iran-Turkey high council of strategic cooperation.

      Iran and Turkey have ramped up efforts in recent years to boost bilateral trade, setting a $30-billion annual trade target and signing several agreements to enhance cooperation in various areas.

      Turkey is one of Iran’s major trading partners in the region.”

  6. ‘Unimaginable horrors’: UN report details violations against migrants in Libya (mee, Dec 20, 2018)

    “Migrants in Libya are facing “unimaginable horrors”, including extrajudicial killings, sexual abuse, torture, slavery and arbitrary detention, a United Nations report said.

    The new report, released by UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and the UN Human Rights Office on Thursday, calls on European Union states to re-examine their cooperation with the Libyan authorities on the issue of migration to avoid contributing to such rampant abuse.

    “This should include working towards an end to the mandatory, automatic and arbitrary detention of migrants and refugees in irregular situations, stamping out of torture and ill-treatment, sexual violence and forced labour in detention, and ending all return practices that would violate the strict prohibitions on collective expulsion and refoulement,” the report says.

    On Thursday, Libya’s coast guard, which received new boats from the Italian government earlier this year to help quell migration, said it has intercepted about 15,000 migrants trying to reach Italy by sea so far this year.

    According to the UN report, the Libyan coast guard intercepted 29,000 migrants between the beginning of 2017 and the end of September 2018.

    Migrants who get picked up by the authorities and armed groups are placed in detention centres, which the UN described as “inhuman”.

    During visits to detention centres run by Libya’s Department for Combatting Illegal Immigration, UN staff witnessed “severe overcrowding, lack of proper ventilation and lighting, inadequate access to washing facilities and latrines, constant confinement, denial of contact with the outside world, and malnutrition”, the report says.

    Since Libya fell into chaos after an uprising ousted longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi, the country has become a major jumping off point for migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa as they try to reach Europe by sea.

    “This climate of lawlessness provides fertile ground for thriving illicit activities, such as trafficking in human beings and criminal smuggling, and leaves migrant and refugee men, women and children at the mercy of countless predators who view them as commodities to be exploited and extorted for maximum financial gain,” the UN report states.

    The UN report also suggests that racism may play a role in the violations that migrants are subjected to.

    “Abuses against Sub-Saharan migrants and refugees, in particular, are compounded by the failure of the Libyan authorities to address racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia,” the UN said.”

  7. Libya military demands the UN investigate Turkey arms shipments (memo, Dec 20, 2018)

    “The Libyan National Army has called on the United Nations Security Council to launch an investigation into the arrival of two shipments of military hardware from Turkey.

    In a statement released late yesterday, the Libyan army expressed deep concern over the arrival of the shipments – which carried a variety of rifles and munitions, including over four million bullets – on Monday and Tuesday.

    “The ammunition in those shipments included more than 4.2 million bullets, enough to kill nearly 80 per cent of the Libyan people, as well as pistols and rifles with their accessories, including silencers used for assassinations,” the statement said. “This is a proof that the purpose [of those arms] is to be used for terrorist operations in the Libyan territories.”

    It added that the Libyan military command “demands the UN Security Council, the United Nations, and the United Nations Mission in Libya to condemn the Turkish Republic and start an immediate investigation into it.”…”

  8. Saudi Arabia to issue bonds worth $32 billion to help finance its deficit (gulfnews, Dec 20, 2018)

    “Saudi Arabia intends to issue around 120 billion riyals ($32 billion) of bonds next year to help finance its deficit, with plans to tap international markets in the first half, Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said.

    The kingdom is considering international bonds in dollars and other currencies, Al-Jadaan told Bloomberg TV in Riyadh on Wednesday. The exact timing of the issuances will depend on market conditions. The minister didn’t break down the total into local and international debt.

    “We now have access to a wider network of investors in the US, which is the primary market, but also in Europe and Asia,” Al-Jadaan said. “So we are expanding and we are likely to go to the international markets early next year.”

    The world’s largest crude exporter on Tuesday released its budget for 2019, with expectations for a deficit of 131 billion riyals, or 4.2 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).

    Saudi Arabia issued international bonds for the first time in 2016 as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s economic overhaul to prepare the kingdom for life after oil…”

  9. Over 60 Pakistanis executed in Saudi Arabia for drug smuggling in five years (tribune, Dec 20, 2018)

    “A total of 62 Pakistani nationals have been executed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) for drug smuggling in the last five years, according to the Foreign Office on Thursday.

    The ministry said that 17 Pakistanis had been executed in this year alone while 13 were hanged on drug smuggling charges in 2017.

    Moreover, in 2016, five Pakistanis were awarded capital punishment, with 14 in 2015 and 12 in 2014 respectively.

    Similarly, as many as 1,764 Pakistanis were behind bars in the kingdom on drug trafficking charges, which is 47% of the total Pakistani prisoners in the Arab country.

    The ministry said a coordination office is working with the Saudi embassy in Islamabad for formal liaison with anti-narcotics authorities.

    Furthermore, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on controlling illicit drug trafficking and psychotropic substances is also under consideration between the two countries to control drug trafficking.”

  10. Turkey ranks 130th in gender gap index (hurriyetdailynews, Dec 20, 2018)

    “Turkey has been ranked 130th in the World Economic Forum (WEF) gender gap index out of 149 countries, while recording progress on closing its gender gap in labor force participation as well as professional and technical roles.

    “However, it [Turkey] also experiences a worsening of wage equality for similar work. In addition, it improves its share of women in parliament,” said the Global Gender Gap Report released on Dec. 18.

    The report benchmarks countries on the list based on their progress toward gender parity across four thematic dimensions: Economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment.

    Globally, the average (population-weighted) distance completed to parity is at 68.0 percent, which is a marginal improvement over the last year. In other words, to date there is still a 32.0 percent average gender gap that remains to be closed. The directionally positive average trend registered this year is supported by improvements in 89 of the 144 countries covered both this year and last year.

    The global list was topped by Iceland having closed more than 85.8 percent of its overall gender gap. Iceland holds the top spot in the index for the 10th consecutive year.

    Nordic countries Norway (2nd, 83.5 per cent), Sweden (3rd, 82.2 percent), and Finland (4th, 82.1 percent) dominated the top slots.

    This year, the widest gap continued to be seen in political empowerment where performance continued to lag at 23 percent, and economic participation and opportunity remained stalled at 58 percent.

    The WEF attributed this to the fact that there were just 17 countries that had women as heads of state. Globally, only 18 percent of ministers or senior government officials and some 24 percent of parliamentarians or lawmakers were women.

    The WEF said gender gaps in education and health also widened in 2018 compared to the previous year, but they remained considerably narrower with indices at 96 percent and 95 percent, respectively.

    At current rates, the global gender gap across a range of areas will not close for another 108 years, while it is expected to take 202 years to close the workplace gap, WEF found.

    But the situation varies greatly in different countries and regions.

    For instance, while Western European countries could close their gender gaps within 61 years, countries in the Middle East and North Africa will take 153 years, the report estimated.

    And women are significantly under-represented in growing areas of employment that require science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills, WEF said.”

  11. Greece vows to declare exclusive zone around east Mediterranean island (hurriyetdailynews, Dec 20, 2018)

    “Athens plans to declare an exclusive economic zone around the small island of Kastelorizo just one mile off the Turkish coast, Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos said on Dec. 19.

    “Kastelorizo’s EEZ [exclusive economic zone] is of particular importance for our country’s economy. Within the next months, the declaration of the EEZ will unleash the potential for natural gas extraction for our country, [revealing] large gas fields that will meet the needs of future generations,” Greek daily Kathimerini quoted Kammenos as saying during his visit to a military outpost on the island.

    The local population of the 12-square-kilometer Kastelorizo, named as Meis or K?z?lhisar in Turkish, is only about 500.

    The disputed waters and many islets in the Aegean Sea often put Greece at loggerheads with Turkey, which also has started drilling in the East Mediterranean recently.

    On Dec. 14, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar stressed the importance of protecting Turkey’s rights in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean.

    “We will continue to protect our rights and benefits in the Aegean, in the Eastern Mediterranean and in ‘blue homeland’,” Akar said during a ceremony in Ankara.

    In October, Greece’s former Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said the country was planning to extend its territorial waters in the south Aegean Sea, but made no mention of an EEZ.”

  12. UK: Ex-envoy criticizes new definition of Islamophobia (AA, Dec 20, 2018)

    “A former diplomat has criticized the new working definition of Islamophobia outlined by a parliamentary group on British Muslims last month.

    In a report by think tank Policy Exchange, titled ‘Defining Islamophobia’, Sir John Jenkins is critical of the definition and questioned the nature of the research carried out by the parliamentary group.

    On Nov. 27, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims published a working definition on Islamophobia, concluding that ”Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.”

    “There is no doubt that the MPs involved had – and have – the best of intentions. Anti-Muslim hatred and bigotry is a problem that needs to be addressed both politically, societally and individually. But the proposed definition of Islamophobia is not only inadequate but divisive and potentially damaging to social cohesion,” he said.

    He also warned that should the government adopt this definition, it would endanger free speech, press freedoms and allow open attack on counter-extremism policy.

    Jenkins, the former ambassador to Libya, Syria and Myanmar, also said “many questions need to be asked about how the report was compiled; whether due diligence was carried out on its authors and their sources; and what the definition of Islamophobia could mean in practice.”

    The critical report also mentions how the new definition could be used by Islamist groups to protect themselves from criticism and use the definition as a front to further their cause.

    The APPG have not yet responded to the allegations and queries posed by Jenkins and the report.”

  13. Migrants: Over 6,600 deaths in Africa in five years – IOM (ansamed, Dec 20, 2018)

    “The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has reported that an estimated 6,615 migrants have died over the past five years in Africa. Most deaths appear to have occurred while migrants were en route to Libya, the UN agency said. The deaths recorded since 2014 were predominately in the Sahara Desert, northern Niger, southern Libya, and northern Sudan, IOM noted.

    1,386 deaths recorded this year

    IOM’s Mission Migrants Project (MMP), which publishes records from hundreds of eyewitness reports of deaths during migration in Africa, said the total number of deaths recorded on the continent this year was 1,386. However, the organization stressed that its survey ”represents only a small fraction of the overall number of people on the move in Africa – meaning that these thousands of deaths are likely a substantial undercount of the true number”, according to a statement issued by the organization this week. ”When people don’t have access to legal migration routes and few reliable records exist, would-be migrants face vulnerability at the hands of human traffickers and smugglers,” said Frank Laczko, the director of IOM’s data analysis center in Berlin, was quoted as saying in the statement.

    Migrants face starvation, dehydration, violence

    The main causes of death on routes within Africa recorded by the organization include starvation, dehydration, physical abuse, sickness and lack of access to medicines. According to IOM’s data, nearly 3,400 migrants and refugees have already lost their lives worldwide in 2018. Most died trying to reach Europe by sea. IOM’s Director General Antonio Vitorino on International Migrants Day on Tuesday said these numbers ”shame us”.”

  14. Germany’s atheist refugees: When not believing is life-threatening (DW, Dec 20, 2018)

    “They do not believe in God and want a life free from religious restrictions: They are atheist asylum seekers. Not only are they threatened and sometimes killed in their homeland — even in Germany they face danger.

    Mahmudul Haque Munshi’s name was on a hit list in Bangladesh. After five of his friends and associates were murdered, the authorities warned the blogger: “There’s nothing more we can do for you.” Munshi had to leave the country in 2015.

    First, he fled to Nepal, then to Sri Lanka and finally to Germany. When he reached an arrival center in the western German city of Detmold, he was shocked. There were other Bangladeshis in the center, but they were anything but kind to their fellow countryman.

    “The problem is, I get threats every day on Facebook. You know, one day, I got 4,500 death threats!” Munshi says.

    And it hasn’t stopped there: Munshi is now on a so-called Global Hit List, which names Bengali refugees abroad who are to be killed.

    Fear of god

    The Atheist Refugee Relief organization supports Munshi. He is one of the 37 recognized nonreligious refugees it has helped since November 2017. The number of those seeking support continues to increase.

    For many refugees, the fear of being killed still haunts them even as far away as Germany. Atheist Refugee Relief’s volunteers are busy day in, day out protecting women in particular from further persecution here in Germany.

    “Conservative Muslims criticize women who go around without headscarves,” says Dittmar Steiner of Atheist Refugee Relief. “We are actually dealing with assaults, exclusion, threats and violence.

    Thirty-one-year-old Worood Zuhair has experienced this for herself. A biologist from the Iraqi city of Karbala, she receives death threats and is under police protection.”We will come by in half an hour and kill you,” was a recent telephone threat from a male caller. The general message behind the threats is that she should stop provoking the Middle East with her secular social media posts.

    Read more:Paying the price for helping refugees in Germany

    Zuhair still suffers from extreme back and leg pain after she was beaten unconscious by her brother. The reason? She left the house without her father’s permission and expressed doubts about her Muslim faith.

    Entrusted to the ‘angel of death’

    The physical and mental abuse has left Zuhair deeply traumatized. “When your own father gives your soul to Azrael, the angel of death, that is enormously painful,” she told DW. “He did it so often. I couldn’t take it anymore.”

    Zuhair has since been recognized as a refugee in Germany. She has learned to talk about her suffering and now stands up for other women who have also experienced violence. She supports the work of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq and works together with human rights activist Mina Ahadi from the Central Council of Ex-Muslims.

    Zuhair and Munshi belong to a group of refugees who were and continue to be persecuted because of their renunciation of the Islamic faith. For both of them, their questioning of God became a matter of life and death.

    Fighting against war criminals

    Munshi attracted the wrath of Islamists when he founded the Shahbag movement in his home country in 2013. The movement called for the punishment of those responsible for war crimes committed when Bangladesh fought for its independence against Pakistan in 1971. Roughly 3 million people died during that war.

    In Bangladesh, Munshi achieved significant notoriety; his blog had 500,000 followers and 1 million people took to the street when he called for protest via his “Blogger online activist network.”

    “It was wonderful, a dream,” Munshi says as his eyes light up.

    However, that dream ultimately turned into a nightmare. With the mass demonstrations came death threats. His opponents argued that the movement was un-Islamic and led by atheists. A systematic hunt for Munshi and the leaders of the Shahbag movement began.

    Atheists: A growing minority

    It might not seem so at first glance, but atheist refugees are not necessarily struggling against Islam. They are fighting for freedom from religion, for the right to question teachings and traditions, for the rights of women and of minorities, for the right to lead a life without religious restrictions.

    Atheists are still a minority around the world. According to the Global Index of Religion and Atheism, a Gallup survey conducted in 2012, 13 percent of the world’s population identifies as atheist. In Saudi Arabia and the United States, that figure is 5 percent, in Germany 15 percent and in China 47 percent.

    The plight of atheist asylum-seekers gets little attention in German refugee policy. According to a statement by the country’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), “Origin from a particular country or a particular reason for fleeing, such as religious affiliation or atheism, does not automatically lead to a protection status.”

    The first case in which the BAMF recognized atheism as a reason for fleeing concerned Iranian cameraman Siamak Zare. After a long legal dispute, he was officially recognized as a refugee in April 2010 and is considered the first case in which the German state accepted religious persecution of nonreligious people as grounds for asylum.

    So far, the legal and political struggle for the recognition of atheism as a reason for asylum is mainly being fought by organizations that specifically deal with the issue. These include the Giordano Bruno Foundation, the Heinrich Böll Foundation, and the Freedom from Religion Foundation and Freedom House in the US.

    At the political level, lobbying for the cause has been rather slow in Germany. At least that is the view of the International League of Non-Religious and Atheists and the Atheist Refugee Relief organizations.

    Atheist Refugee Relief’s Dittmar Steiner is convinced this will change. “The number of people affected is increasing,” he says. “A year ago it was two to three requests a week — now it is between seven and nine a day.””

  15. 2 Vendors Tell How They Helped Catch Imlil Murder Suspects

    While walking up a bus aisle selling peanuts and water on Thursday, Sliman E-Chin and Said El Assoul were surprised to see a knife butt sticking out of a bag.
    The bag belonged to one of three passengers sitting in the back row of the bus headed to Agadir from Marrakech, local outlet Kech 24 reported.
    Police had been searching for the three men in connection to the murders of two Scandinavian tourists on Monday: Louisa Vesterager Jespersen, 24, from Denmark and Maren Ueland, 28, from Norway.

  16. BCIJ Arrests 9 More Suspects in Scandinavian Tourist Murders

    As part of the investigation, security forces seized electronic equipment, an unlicensed hunting rifle, knives, flashlights, binoculars, a military vest, laboratory glasses, and a quantity of potentially explosive materials.
    Yesterday, Morocco’s Government Spokesperson Mustapha El Khalfi said Morocco has dismantled around 20 cells accused of terrorism since last year. “All Moroccans denounce and reject this criminal terrorist act.”

  17. An interesting opinion piece on the Imlil murders. I don’t necessarily agree with the author though, but it’s interesting to see what a Moroccan has to say about it. The Facebook comments below it are also worth reading – lots of swearing, which is the way of the Moroccan:

    Murder of Scandinavian Tourists: Morocco Should Educate its People, Fight Wahhabism
    Yes, the suspects have allegedly committed an act of terrorism and have pledged allegiance to ISIS. But their act is not the result of a religious journey or an in-depth knowledge of Islam. Neither is it motivated to advance the interests of their community. They are blinded by hate and resentment and determined to wreak havoc on their society. They are part of a small minority with radical ideology that must be combated with all possible means to eradicate it and counter its narrative.
    Morocco is now paying the price of years of the government’s failure to provide a quality education to those who live on the fringe of our society. Reforms upon reforms have been implemented and hundreds of billions of dirhams have been squandered, but Morocco’s education system ranks near the bottom globally and in the Arab world.
    Without investing in human capital, without providing equal opportunities to all Moroccans regardless of their regions and family affiliations, we will just be buying time until the time-bomb that is waiting to explode on the fringe of society explodes again and reminds us of the shortcoming and short sightedness of government strategies.
    Education is the key in every society. When there is no education to give people hope for a better future and tools to be masters of their destinies and productive members of society, people tend to radicalize.
    Without education, millions of disadvantaged individuals are left with nothing but despair, illiteracy, and ignorance, the ingredients for extremism. Any individual—whether Muslim or from another religious persuasion—who has no prospects for a decent and productive life or who feels that his society has left him behind is a person that can be indoctrinated by anybody.
    Most importantly the government should redouble its efforts to fight the Wahhabi ideology that has permeated our culture and public discourse in the past three decades. Millions of Moroccans have witnessed how this ideology, promoted by Saudi petrodollars, has upended and affected the century-long culture of tolerance and openness to the world that has made Moroccans proud of their country.
    Our parents no longer recognize the society in which we live. Because of their exposure to Saudi-promoted television and radio channels, millions of Moroccans have become less tolerant of others and adopted views and positions that are foreign to the Moroccan culture.

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