SACW - 2 Aug 2013 | Bangladesh: Hefazat’s violent godmen / Pakistan: Victimhood / India: Foo d Security; Militarised Kashmir; University's ‘Ad-hoc’ teachers; Batla House / Kil ling the Arab Spring / Polish Dissident Adam Michnik / Violent Favelas of Brazil
- South Asia Citizens Wire - 02 August 2013 - No. 2795
1. The Concert for Bangladesh - 1 August 1971, New York
2. Bangladesh: Hefazat-e-Islam’s violent ‘Godmen’ or pretentious clerics who we in our ignorance have permitted to proliferate
3. Che Guevara’s manuscripts preserved by UNESCO
4. An American Woman Lawyer Doing Some Fine Work in Afghanistan
5. India: Jean Dreze defends the National Food Security Bill from snipers
6. Pakistan unions support the struggle of Maruti automobile workers in India | press reports
7. Pakistan: Permanent victimhood (Afiya Shehrbano)
8. India: Summer of shame 2013 - Sacking ‘Ad-hoc’ teachers and playing with the future of Higher Education at Delhi University (Mukul Mangalik)
9. Henry Bernstein’s book review of Theory as History: Essays on Modes of Production and Exploitation by Jairus Banaji
10. India’s Jawaharlal Nehru University - impossible hopes & innermost desires | Avijit Ghosh
11. India: Kashmiris are fed up of soldier as state | Suvir Kaul
12. India: Life in the militarised border regions of Rajouri and Poonch (Jammu and Kashmir) | Sahba Husain and Rita Manchanda
13. India: Migrant Workers in Kashmir | Rashmi Singh
14. India: Supreme court rules against ban on Bombay’s dance bars | Womens groups petition for rights of bar dancers
15. India: CNDP Statement in Solidarity with the Anti-Nuclear Struggle in Chutka: Say NO to Farcical EIA Hearings!
16. India: Batla House Shahzad Verdict is perverse and a mockery of Justice - Press Release JTSA
17. India: Waiting for a nuclear disaster | Mallika Sarabhai
18. Book review: The Frankfurt School at War - the Marxists Who Explained the Nazis to Washington
19. Full text of letters from 65 members of Indian parliament to President Obama to deny US visa to Narendra Modi
20. Text of Solidarity Statement from Japan to the People’s National Convention Against Nuclear Energy, India
21. Selected Posts on Communalism Watch:
- India: Obsessive measurement devalues the democratic order (Ananya Vajpeyi)
- Bangladesh court cancels registration of right-wing party Jamaat-e-Islami - banned from contesting future polls
- India: The real danger to India is from parivar’s communal fascism (Editorial, Kashmir Times)
- India First or Upper Caste Elite First? (Irfan Engineer)
- India: Press Release - CJP, MSD shocked over gagging of Amina Wadud in Tami Nadu
- India: Gujarat SIT turned blind eye to damaging evidence
- India: Mukul Kesavan takes apart the claim that 1984 riots means Congress is the same as Modi's BJP
- India: Hindutva moral police circulate photo and message asking Amartya Sen to control his daughter rather than modi
- India: The decline of Sanskrit has little to do with the ascendancy of English
- India: Nemesis of Narendra Modi? (Anand Teltumbde)
- Indian Nationalism or Hindu Nationalism (Ram Puniyani)
- Sectarian Violence in Burma - Cartoon in New York Times (21 July 2013)
- Book review: Jan Mieszkowski on Christian Ingrao’s “Believe and Destroy”
- Book review: Ayodhya Conspiracy 1949: The Real Story (Anil Rajimwale)
::: Full Text :::
22. Sri Lanka: Busting the common wealth of the people (Editorial, The Daily Mirror)
23. India: Forests of the night (Christophe Jaffrelot)
24. Killing the Arab Spring in Its Cradle (Karima Bennoune)
25. Bangladesh's radical Muslims uniting behind Hefazat-e-Islam (Julien Bouissou)
26. USA: The Spiritual and Political Warfare of the New Religious Right (Bill Berkowitz)
27. Egypt Shows How Political Islam Is at Odds With Democracy (Youssef Rakha)
28. India: Panchayat orders UP woman’s gang rape (Piyush Srivastava)
29. Arab World: Tunisia paralyzed by general strike, protests after Brahmi killing
30. After Mubarak, the Brotherhood was triumphant. Now it is in crisis (Peter Beaumont)
31. Egypt: On violence and the path ahead (Ismail Serageldin)
32. Polish Dissident Adam Michnik: 'We Are Bastards of Communism'
33. In the Violent Favelas of Brazil (Suketu Mehta)
1. THE CONCERT FOR BANGLADESH - 1 AUGUST 1971, NEW YORK
The Concert for Bangladesh (1 August 1971, New York) — organized by George Harrison and inspired by Ravi Shankar—the Concert marked the first time rock musicians collaborated for a common humanitarian cause.
2. BANGLADESH: HEFAZAT-E-ISLAM’S VIOLENT ‘GODMEN’ OR PRETENTIOUS CLERICS WHO WE IN OUR IGNORANCE HAVE PERMITTED TO PROLIFERATE
there is a sinister pattern emerging this Ramadan in Afghanistan and Pakistan where unheard of clerics are handing out vitriolic fatwas (edicts or decrees) targeting women and ones their respective governments are shockingly acquiescing to. No different is the case of Bangladesh.
3. Che Guevara’s manuscripts preserved by UNESCO
Che Guevara’s manuscripts including his famous Motorcycle Diaries recently came under the spotlight, as UNESCO recognised that the items belonging to and concerning Guevara up until his execution in the Bolivian village of La Higuera in 1967, should be preserved for posterity.
4. AN AMERICAN WOMAN LAWYER DOING SOME FINE WORK IN AFGHANISTAN
Say you’re a Westerner in Afghanistan, trying to do some business, and suddenly you find yourself in a bit of a scrape—allegations of wrongdoing, of criminal activity, maybe even of personal violence. The legal system in Afghanistan is opaque. Where do you go for help?
5. India: Jean Dreze defends the National Food Security Bill from snipers
Despite its many flaws, the food security bill is an opportunity to end the leakages from the PDS and prevent wastage of public resources
6. PAKISTAN UNIONS SUPPORT THE STRUGGLE OF MARUTI AUTOMOBILE WORKERS IN INDIA | PRESS REPORTS
South Asian Labour Forum (SALF) on Thursday demanded immediate release of Maruti Suzuki workers in India, who were arrested by the police last year as well as withdrawal of all cases lodged against them by the administration. Addressing a press conference at the Karachi Press Club (KPC), the trade union leaders and human rights activists expressed solidarity with the Indian workers.
7. PAKISTAN: PERMANENT VICTIMHOOD
by Afiya Shehrbano
Politically speaking, Malala’s gravest error was to survive the attack by the Taliban gunmen who shot her in the head on her way back from school in 2012. Had she succumbed to her injuries or deteriorated to a vegetative state in some underequipped Swat hospital then she may have been forgiven (and forgotten) as a passive patriot. Survival has earned her suspicion and accusation of being an anti-Pakistan agent of the west.
8. INDIA: SUMMER OF SHAME 2013 - SACKING ‘AD-HOC’ TEACHERS, DESTROYING LIVES, AND PLAYING WITH THE FUTURE OF HIGHER EDUCATION AT DELHI UNIVERSITY (DU)
by Mukul Mangalik
DU colleges are in the grip of frenzy. With the University Administration breaking promises for appointing permanent teachers against existing and newly sanctioned posts since 2009-10, large numbers of ‘ad-hoc’ appointees are being shown the door as new ‘ad-hocs’ are poised to replace them. This has been happening systematically and with determination since 2012, but the scale on which it is being pursued this summer appears to be unprecedented.
9. HENRY BERNSTEIN’S BOOK REVIEW OF THEORY AS HISTORY: ESSAYS ON MODES OF PRODUCTION AND EXPLOITATION BY JAIRUS BANAJI
The collection provides an opportunity to assess Jairus Banaji’s original and provocative contributions over more than three decades. This review tries to chart a path across the range of the essays as a whole, marked by three themes and their connections and possible disconnections: what constitutes modes of production; modes of production before capitalism and their histories; and characterizing and periodizing capitalism. Banaji’s emphatic arguments for long histories/trajectories of commodity production, exchange and accumula- tion across different times and places, especially in estate agriculture and the circuits of merchant capital, traverse these three themes.
10. INDIA’S JAWAHARLAL NEHRU UNIVERSITY - IMPOSSIBLE HOPES & INNERMOST DESIRES
by Avijit Ghosh
They say, JNU is all about Marx. For many small-town and non-public school boys like me, it was also about Freud.
11. INDIA: KASHMIRIS ARE FED UP OF SOLDIER AS STATE
by Suvir Kaul
In Kashmir, elements of the military apparatus act as they deem fit, as for them Kashmiris are but subjects of the Indian state, and in the name of surveillance and security they can act with whatever violence they deem appropriate. And why would they not, for their violent actions are protected by the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, promulgated in 1990, as well as other acts that apply to ‘disturbed’ areas, and they know that no military man has been punished for any crime committed in Kashmir.
12. INDIA: PEOPLE’S EXPERIENCES OF LIVING IN THE MILITARISED BORDER REGIONS OF RAJOURI AND POONCH (JAMMU AND KASHMIR)
by Sahba Husain and Rita Manchanda
In the militarised border regions of Rajouri and Poonch (Jammu and Kashmir), the boundaries are blurred. Violence had breached the security of people’s homes, changing their lives forever. Despite the enormity of the violence done to their lives and livelihood, the cry for justice seems to be missing. The region appeared to have been enveloped in hopeless resignation.
13. INDIA: MIGRANT WORKERS IN KASHMIR | RASHMI SINGH
Migrant workers have been a close part of Kashmiri workforce for over two decades now. Though there are no statistics on total numbers, current estimates presume that about 5 lakh outside workers come to work in the Valley seasonally every year. They have been working in paddy fields, construction, brick kilns, as domestic help and in various other quarters including petty trade and sales. Most of them are from U.P., Bihar, Bengal and other north Indian states and work seasonally through the summer returning to their native places once the winter sets in. According to some sources they have been in Kashmir since late 70‟s.
14. INDIA: SUPREME COURT RULES AGAINST BAN ON BOMBAY’S DANCE BARS | WOMENS GROUPS PETITION FOR RIGHTS OF BAR DANCERS
Women’s organisations across Maharashtra have come together to petition their demands concerning the rights of bar dancers to the government. Their petition is in response to the recent Supreme Court verdict which declared that the ban on dance in bars was in violation of the Constitution.
15. INDIA: CNDP STATEMENT IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE ANTI-NUCLEAR STRUGGLE IN CHUTKA: SAY NO TO FARCICAL EIA HEARINGS!
We congratulate the people of Chutka (Mandla district, Madhya Pradesh) for their vigilant and massive protest which has forced the government to cancel the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) public hearing for the second time. An earlier attempt to organise a farcical public hearing was thwarted by people’s resistance in May.
16. INDIA: BATLA HOUSE SHAHZAD VERDICT IS PERVERSE AND A MOCKERY OF JUSTICE - PRESS RELEASE JTSA
Calling the verdict by a Delhi court holding Shahzad Ahmad guilty of murder and many other offences in controversial Batla House encounter case as “perverse and a mockery of justice” , the Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association (JTSA) has expressed shock over the flagrant violation of settled principles of criminal jurisprudence in the case.
17. INDIA: WAITING FOR A NUCLEAR DISASTER
by Mallika Sarabhai
In direct violation of a Supreme Court verdict on ensuring safety and to report back to the courts, the Nuclear Power Corporation, the DAE and its Board and the Ministry of Environment and Forests went ahead with making Kudankulam critical before the courts could have time to check on findings and reassure themselves and the public of the overall safety of people and the earth.
18. BOOK REVIEW: THE FRANKFURT SCHOOL AT WAR - THE MARXISTS WHO EXPLAINED THE NAZIS TO WASHINGTON
(Via Dilip Simeon's Blog)
Secret Reports on Nazi Germany: The Frankfurt School Contribution to the War Effort, by Franz Neumann, Herbert Marcuse, And Otto Kirchheimer. edited by Raffaele Laudani
reviewed by William E. Scheuerman
19. FULL TEXT OF LETTERS FROM 65 MEMBERS OF INDIAN PARLIAMENT TO PRESIDENT OBAMA TO DENY US VISA TO NARENDRA MODI
Text of letters by sixty five members of both houses of India’s parliament to President Obama, urging the US administration to maintain the current policy of denying visa to Me Narendra Modi
20. TEXT OF SOLIDARITY STATEMENT FROM JAPAN TO THE PEOPLE’S NATIONAL CONVENTION AGAINST NUCLEAR ENERGY, INDIA
People of Japan convey their solidarity with everyone gathered at the People’s National Convention Against Nuclear Energy and express their agreement with National People’s Charter Against Nuclear Energy
21. SELECTED POSTS FROM COMMUNALISM WATCH
India: Obsessive measurement devalues the democratic order | Ananya Vajpeyi
Bangladesh court cancels registration of right-wing party Jamaat-e-Islami - banned from contesting future polls
India: The real danger to India is from parivar’s communal fascism (Editorial, Kashmir Times)
India First or Upper Caste Elite First? (Irfan Engineer)
India: Press Release - CJP, MSD shocked over gagging of Amina Wadud in Tami Nadu
India: Gujarat SIT turned blind eye to damaging evidence
India: Mukul Kesavan takes apart the claim that 1984 riots means Congress is the same as Modi's BJP
India: Hindutva moral police circulate photo and message asking Amartya Sen to control his daughter rather than modi
India: The decline of Sanskrit has little to do with the ascendancy of English
India: Nemesis of Narendra Modi? (Anand Teltumbde)
Indian Nationalism or Hindu Nationalism - Ram Puniyani
Sectarian Violence in Burma - Cartoon in New York Times (21 July 2013)
Book review: Jan Mieszkowski on Christian Ingrao’s “Believe and Destroy”
Book review: Ayodhya Conspiracy 1949: The Real Story (Anil Rajimwale)
::: FULL TEXT :::
22. SRI LANKA: BUSTING THE COMMON WEALTH OF THE PEOPLE
Editorial, The Daily Mirror, 31 July 2013
While millions of people in Sri Lanka are struggling for survival and the cost of living keeps on soaring, the Government is to spend a staggering Rs. 1,930 million for the Commonwealth Summit to be held here in November.
The Government had waged an international battle to ensure that the summit was held here amid widespread calls for a change of venue because of the Rajapaksa regime’s track record on human rights issues, alleged war crimes, destroying the independence of the judiciary and the independence of the media with a major breakdown in the rule of law.
Eventually, political analysts say India brought about a turning point by insisting that Colombo should be the venue of the summit. The full political price the Government paid for this is still not known, but most analysts believe that the holding of a free and fair election to the Northern Provincial Council without any changes to the 13th Amendment was one of the conditions agreed to by the Rajapaksa regime. Whatever the political price and whatever the internal consequences with some of the Rajapaksa regime’s main allies, strongly and openly opposing the compromise, the financial cost appears to be far too much and the people would have the right to ask who gave the Rajapaksa regime the political power to bust up the common wealth of the people. After all, the Commonwealth is regarded by most analysts as a pompous artefact of once colonised countries and the main benefit will be the privilege given to the President to be the Chairman of this largely powerless organisation for the next two years.
Reports say that at a recent meeting, the President himself cautioned ministers to be careful of what they say or do not say about the summit. He pointed out that the former Prime Minister had presided over the Colombo summit of leaders of more than 70 countries in the Non-Aligned Movement in 1976. The next year her party was thrashed at the July general elections and it did not have enough seats for her to even become the Leader of the Opposition.
According to our sister paper the Sunday Times, in addition to the colossal Rs. 1,930 million, the Rajapaksa regime is also to import super luxury cars for Commonwealth leaders. The choice now is between full option BMW 7 series and Mercedes Benz super class vehicles or a combination. Earlier the regime had planned to rent the fleet from owners of luxury vehicles or buy them and after the summit to sell them at a public auction. But latest reports say some UPFA ministers - who already enjoy an extravagance of privileges including the payment from public money of their monthly electricity bills amounting to more than Rs. 200,000/= - have asked for these super luxury summit cars to add to their fleets of vehicles. Such and other instances of super luxury living if not vulgar extravagance has raised questions among millions of people as to whether politicians are serving them and giving to the country or whether they are shamelessly grabbing the wealth and resources of the country.
According to a report submitted to the Government, the expenditure for the summit is like the accounts book of a billionaire.
For millions of people, especially those living below the poverty line, such expenditure and numerous other instances of super luxury living by politicians who are elected to be servant leaders of the people are outrageous. These millions of people may be wondering whether they are considered as collies in a company or sovereign citizens of the country.
23. INDIA: FORESTS OF THE NIGHT
by Christophe Jaffrelot
(Indian Express, July 29 2013)
How Chhattisgarh became a sanctuary, and then a laboratory, for Naxals
Some time ago, Chhattisgarh hit the headlines because of a Maoist attack on state Congress leaders, in which V.C. Shukla and Mahendra Karma died. Since then, the Congress has accused the BJP government of a conspiracy, and some BJP leaders have accused former chief minister Ajit Jogi of being part of a conspiracy himself. Politicising this tragic episode is not the best way to understand why Chhattisgarh has become a Maoist stronghold.
Today, the state is the worst affected by Maoist-related violence. According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, between 2005 and June 2013, 2,055 lives have been lost in this guerilla-like war, including 755 members of the security forces, 662 militants and 638 civilians. That is twice more than in Jharkhand and about four times more than in West Bengal and Orissa.
There is a history behind the entrenchment of the Naxals in Chhattisgarh. It started in the late 1970s, when Maoists from Andhra Pradesh initiated the Go to Villages Campaign, which prepared them to work among the Adivasis, then subjugated by landlords and the state. The latter limited their access to forest products such as tendu leaves, not to mention the violent scorn with which the police treated tribal people. When the Naxalites were repressed by the Andhra government in the 1980s, they used southern Chhattisgarh, and more especially Bastar (roughly equivalent to the region known as Dandakaranya), as a base, because the jungle made them difficult to track down.
This sanctuary gradually turned into a laboratory. Militants from the cities learned the local dialect, sometimes married tribal women and, above all, obtained better wages for Adivasis who gathered tendu leaves and bamboo stalks for paper mills. These successes were made possible by intimidation and an effort to organise the tribal people, which in 1989, culminated in the foundation of the Dandakaranya Adivasi Mazdoor Kisan Sangh. Himanshu Kumar, a Gandhian activist who established his ashram in Dantewada (Bastar South), has given valuable testimony to these reasons for the Maoists' popularity.
In the 1990s, the rush for the area's mineral resources began. The region harbours rich deposits of coal, iron ore, manganese, bauxite, quartz, gold, diamonds and uranium. These treasures attracted public and then private investors, once India embarked on the path of economic liberalisation that promised to make such riches more accessible. For these resources to be exploitable, especially when it involved opencast mines, tribes were displaced and their land confiscated. Maoists, with support from new partisans recruited among them, reacted to the multiplication of mines and factories by targeted attacks. For instance, the National Mineral Development Corporation iron ore mine in Bacheli (Dantewada district) has been the object of repeated attacks since 2006, all attempts to block supplies to the Essar steel mill in Andhra. These attacks also enable the Maoists to obtain explosives that they later use to plant landmines along the tracks. To fund their operations, they do not hesitate to extort money from mine or factory owners.
The historical and economic reasons due to which Maoism developed in Chhattisgarh can be traced back to another meta-explanation: the Adivasis represent 32 per cent of the population and they have never been given their due in the region. In spite of their demographic advantage, and in contrast to what happened even in Jharkhand, they could never dislodge upper-caste leaders from dominant positions in the state government. Although trade union leaders like S.G. Niyogi, assassinated in 1991, and the Gondwana Gantantra Party have tried to organise the sons of the soil, they have rallied around mainstream, upper-caste dominated parties, including the BJP, for elections. That was partly because the Sangh Parivar has been able, since the creation of the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram in 1952, to co-opt — and Sanskritise — some Adivasis, with the support of Rajput ex-rulers such as Dilip Singh Judeo (and his father). Jana Sangh MLAs started to run the show as early as the 1960s, as evident from the career of Baliram Kashyap, an MLA in Bastar district in 1972-92.
Neither the Congress, whose leaders — be they the Shukla brothers or Motilal Vora — were traditionally from the upper castes, nor the BJP, has been interested in promoting the cause of the Adivasis, whose socio-economic conditions kept declining in relative terms. If Chhattisgarh had among the lowest human development indices in 2011, it was largely because of its tribal population. Indeed, 55 per cent of its rural tribal population lived below the poverty line (against 32 per cent of its SC rural population) and the under-five mortality rate among STs was 40 percentage points higher than that among SCs, which was already very high.
Yet, the main reason for the rise of Maoism in Chhattisgarh is probably the form of the state's repression. Ill-equipped and poorly trained in counterinsurgency methods, the state's police force has proven powerless in the face of the Naxal strike forces. The local political elites, be they close to the BJP or the Congress, thus set up a militia in 2005 with support from the state's business community and the Central government itself. This organisation, named the Salwa Judum ("peace hunt" in the language of the Gond tribes), has recruited among the urban youth. It began by emptying entire villages of their inhabitants to prevent them from being used as Naxal bases. In 2007, between 70,000 and 1,00,000 displaced persons left for Orissa, Jharkhand and Andhra, according to the NGO Campaign for Peace and Justice in Chhattisgarh. It was as if the state had delegated its policing powers to a private army. Indeed, special forces officers were found in its ranks, and a district collector is said to have taken part in its meetings. Petitioned by human rights activists, the Supreme Court ordered the state to take direct action rather than playing with fire by arming some citizens against others. But Salwa Judum has continued to operate illegally, with the blessing of mainstream political parties, in spite of the Supreme Court ruling, which at least managed to free Binayak Sen after years of tragicomedy.
In 2009, P. Chidambaram, as home minister, launched Operation Green Hunt, mobilising thousands of police and paramilitary forces. In 2010, 20,000 troops were deployed in the Bastar zone alone, an area of about 40,000 square kilometres, combing the place, requisitioning schools. The interrogations they conducted to unmask Maoists have apparently degenerated more than once, resulting in several accusations of torture. Some years ago, Chhattisgarh's created the Counter-Terrorism and Jungle Warfare College and another similar training centre, the Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School.
Nearly four years after Operation Green Hunt and eight years after the launching of Salwa Judum, in the wake of the deaths of V.C. Shukla and Mahendra Karma, one of the chief architects of Salwa Judum, the Union tribal affairs minister, V. Kishore Chandra Deo, declared that the project had been a "sinful tragedy". Why doesn't he try something else? For instance, moving south Chhattisgarh into the Sixth Schedule in order to give more autonomy to tribal communities. Since the carving out of Chhattisgarh has not resulted in any transfer of power to the state's STs, this is now the only way to empower them.
The writer is senior research fellow at CERI-Sciences Po/CNRS, Paris, professor of Indian Politics and Sociology at King's India Institute, London, and non-resident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
24. KILLING THE ARAB SPRING IN ITS CRADLE
by Karima Bennoune
(The New York Times, July 29, 2013)
TUNIS — MOHAMED BRAHMI, the left-wing politician who was assassinated outside his home here last Thursday, was born in Sidi Bouzid, the same town where a desperate fruit vendor set himself on fire in December 2010, triggering the Tunisian revolution — and the Arab Spring.
The Islamist party Ennahda, which governs Tunisia, has blamed the killing — as well as the assassination, nearly six months ago, of Chokri Belaid, a prominent human rights advocate — on a young weapons smuggler who has ties to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
But Ennahda itself bears much of the blame. It should be recognized, and condemned, for being the radical party that it is: a party that has created a climate of escalating fundamentalist violence that threatens the lives of liberal, left-wing and secular activists.
The Western media have portrayed Ennahda as an innocuous voice of moderation, but it has been pushing for a constitution — one Mr. Brahmi vocally opposed — that would lay the foundations for a repressive Islamic state.
Earlier this month, at a rally here supporting the ousted Islamist president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, Sahbi Atig, the head of the Ennahda bloc in Tunisia’s Constituent Assembly, warned: “All those who dare to kill the will of the people in Tunisia or in Egypt, the Tunisian street will be authorized to do what it wants with — including to shed their blood.” Commentators have understandably connected these remarks to the death of Mr. Brahmi, who had saluted the ouster of Mr. Morsi as a return by Egyptians to “freedom” and to “the path of Gamal Abdel Nasser.”
Since it attained independence from France in 1956, Tunisia has had some of the region’s most progressive laws relating to women and families. Many fear that Ennahda is trying to undo those laws. Amel Grami, an intellectual historian at Manouba University, whose campus was besieged last year by Salafi activists opposed to women’s equality and secular education, says the Arab Spring has “triggered a male identity crisis” that has magnified the extreme positions taken by Islamist parties.
In Tunisia, she has noted, fundamentalists have called for girls as young as 12 to don the niqab, which covers everything but the eyes. An Ennahda lawmaker has called for “purification of the media and purification of intellectuals,” while female Ennahda deputies have urged segregation of public transportation by gender. Some Salafists have spoken of legalizing female genital mutilation, a practice largely foreign to Tunisia.
Many Tunisians I interviewed in the last month — in the political opposition, in academia, in the women’s movement — told me that they felt threatened. “You are all Mohamed Brahmi,” one mourner chanted on Thursday evening, among those weeping outside the slain activist’s home.
“The entire left is under threat,” a young female activist in the southern city of Sfax, whose party is in the Popular Front coalition to which Mr. Brahmi belonged, said earlier this month. Just last week, a law professor and women’s rights activist, Sana Ben Achour, warned of the real possibility of violence. “We must be very vigilant,” she urged.
Neighboring Algeria plunged into such bloodshed in 1991, with the rise of radical Islamism. A “dark decade” of extreme violence ensued.
To prevent Tunisia from going the way of Algeria, all anti-fundamentalist groups must unite — which they are beginning to do — and they will need the sort of international support Algeria’s secular democrats never received. Western governments must pressure the Tunisian authorities to protect those at risk. But so far, the European Union and the United States, focused on Syria and Egypt, have mostly turned a blind eye.
Mourad Sakli, director of the International Festival of Carthage, a cultural event, said the killing of Mr. Brahmi would only strengthen “our determination to defend our rights to culture and to life, our right to be different and our right to free thought.” I attended this year’s festival on July 20, in a packed amphitheater here, where a crowd of young people and families — some women in miniskirts, and some in hijabs — sang jubilantly with the Algerian singer-songwriter Cheb Khaled until 1 in the morning, in Arabic, French and a little Berber: “We will love, and we will dance. C’est la vie.”
That mood of joy has been replaced by an atmosphere that the Tunisian newspaper La Presse has described as “insurrectional.” On Saturday, Mr. Brahmi was laid to rest before some 30,000 mourners. One of them, a female lawyer who scaled the cemetery’s walls after finding the entrance blocked, said: “We’ve been taken hostage by religious fundamentalists. Now we the people have decided to take back our country and our revolution.”
Dozens of delegates are boycotting the Constituent Assembly, the body charged with drafting a new constitution, whose legal mandate technically expired last October. They want it to be replaced by a “national salvation government” that can call new elections.
One delegate, Nadia Châabane, stood amid hundreds of demonstrators, some cloaked in the Tunisian flag, who faced off Sunday against a smaller, all-male phalanx chanting “God is great” and waving the black Salafi flag. “Islam has survived here for 14 centuries,” she told me. “It is not under threat. The solution to our problems is economic, not religious.”
Will the West have the courage and vision to help her, and others across North Africa, who are speaking up for freedom and human rights through peaceful protest? If not, the Arab Spring may die in the country where it was born.
Karima Bennoune, a professor of law at the University of California, Davis, is the author of the forthcoming book “Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories From the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism.”
A version of this op-ed appeared in print on July 30, 2013, on page A19 of the New York edition with the headline: Killing the Arab Spring in Its Cradle.
25. BANGLADESH'S RADICAL MUSLIMS UNITING BEHIND HEFAZAT-E-ISLAM
Government is wary of a movement led by Shah Ahmad Shafi that has gathered strength since its launch in 2010
by Julien Bouissou
(Guardian Weekly, 30 July 2013)
Bangladeshi police escort Hefazat-e-Islam leader Shah Ahmad Shafi from a madrasa in Dhaka on 6 May, a day after he instigated mass protests in the city. Photograph: Monirul Alam/Zuma Press/Corbis
Passersby cast wary looks at a bunch of men lurking outside the entrance to the Hathazari madrasa. They stand out, having neither beards nor traditional dress. Indeed, one of them has had the bright idea of wearing a flowered shirt. For the past few weeks the madrasa in Chittagong, central Bangladesh, has been under police surveillance. It houses 12,000 Qur'anic students, guided by Shah Ahmad Shafi, who heads Hefazat-e-Islam, the country's largest radical Islamic movement.
At his instigation over 500,000 demonstrators clogged the streets of Dhaka on 5 May, demanding the application of 13 measures, including a ban on mixing of men and women in public places, the removal of sculptures and demands for the former wording of the constitution to be reinstated, affirming "absolute trust and faith in Almighty Allah". About 50 people were killed in clashes with police and several leaders were arrested. Since then Hefazat has avoided the media, for fear of reprisals. The government is extremely wary of a movement that has steadily gathered strength since its launch three years ago.
We had to climb into a car with smoked-glass windows to enter the madrasa, where a cadre took us to the guide's office. Shafi, 93, only sees visitors after a long early-afternoon nap. He rarely speaks in public, less still to journalists. One of his proteges actually spoke to us, under his supervision, with so much fervour and devotion he might have been saying a prayer. Only once did Shafi raise his bushy white eyebrows, saying: "Above all, do not imagine we are interested in politics. Our aims are noble and exclusively religious."
Hefazat was formed in January 2010, in opposition to plans to give women the same rights of inheritance as men. It gained new recruits in April this year, after secular demonstrations in the capital. Thousands of people flocked to Shabhag Square, demanding the death sentence for the perpetrators of crimes during the war of independence, when they sought to maintain links between Pakistan and Bangladesh, then known as east Pakistan, the better to defend Islam.
But radical Muslims publicised the allegedly blasphemous statements of various bloggers, discrediting the Shabhag movement and regaining the initiative. "We shall fight till all 13 of our demands have been satisfied," promises one of Hefazat's general-secretaries.
Hefazat had previously kept a low profile. "It represents poor people, with little education, mainly country folk, who have always been despised by the urban middle classes. There is nothing transnational or terrorist about the movement, but it may become more radical if it is sidelined," says Farhad Mazar, a political commentator. Hefazat enjoys the support of millions of believers, thanks to the control it exerts over the vast majority of Qur'anic schools in Bangladesh. "Our schools train the best imams. About a quarter of them then leave for the Gulf states, the United Kingdom or the United States, and they support us financially," says Habib Ullah, the movement's deputy-general-secretary.
Hefazat has taken advantage of favourable circumstances to pull together a series of long-established political groups and organisations that have never before displayed such unity. Jamaat-e-Islami, its main rival at the head of a political party, has been undermined by the arrest of several of its leaders, on charges of war crimes.
The rise of Hefazat mirrors the declining secular ideology dating back to independence. Secularism served as a basis for Bangladeshi identity in 1971, when the country united to break away from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, becoming one of the four basic principles enshrined in the constitution of 1972. But it has been disputed ever since. In 1977 the constitution was revised to assert "absolute trust and faith in Almighty Allah [as] the basis of all actions". Then in June 1988 a further constitutional amendment made Islam the state religion.
Islamism fills a gap in the political and ideological spectrum left vacant by the parties that coalesced around the independence movement, worn out by subsequent quarrels and scandals. "It is too soon to say that secularism is dead," says Ali Riaz, professor of politics and government at Illinois State University. "But the rise of Islamism, in the past 30 years, has influenced the political discourse and agenda, and to a certain extent social behaviour."
If this trend persists, it may hold back women's emancipation and fuel a sense of insecurity among religious and ethnic minorities. "The government has failed so far to protect these minorities," Riaz adds. In March hundreds of Hindu shrines and homes were burned down. This particular minority now accounts for less than 10% of the population, compared with 15.5% in 1975.
Hefazat is determined to influence the outcome of the election scheduled for early 2014, though it shuns direct involvement in politics, perceived as "impure". The ruling Awami League is in a difficult position, trapped between the Islamists and the opposition, which accuses it of confiscating power by refusing to form an interim government capable of organising a transparent election.
"The fact that [the Awami League] will not hear of an interim government may mean that it thinks it is going to lose. You may win without the support of the Islamists, but you cannot win against them," warns a Dhaka academic. Safe behind the walls of his madrasa, Shafi could well act as the kingmaker in the next election.
This article appeared in Guardian Weekly, which incorporates material from Le Monde
26. USA: THE SPIRITUAL AND POLITICAL WARFARE OF THE NEW RELIGIOUS RIGHT
by Bill Berkowitz For Buzzflash At Truthout
(truth-out.org, 9 July 2013)
As many of the pre-Reagan era Religious Right leaders retire and/or die off, beware of the new breed. Lou Engle is one of the new breed. Although Engle has been kicking around for more than a decade, it is only in the past few years that he and the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), the charismatic evangelical political and religious movement that he has come to personify, has made such a splash that it threatens to drown out the more traditional voices of the Christian Right.
In 2000, when the U.S. Supreme Court decided that George W. Bush would be president, Lou Engle saw it as the answer to his prayers. A few months before the election, Engle had held an all-day prayer event in Washington, D.C., that drew approximately 400,000. Although Engle's prayer rally wasn't as magnetic or media buzz-worthy as when the Promise Keepers drew nearly one million to the nation's capital three years earlier, it could be seen as Engle's coming out party.
(The Promise Keepers is a still extant conservative Christian men's organization whose membership and attendance at its stadium and arena events soared in the 1990s, and, due to internal squabbles, subsequently plummeted to earth in the first decade of this century.)
"The prayers of the faithful were answered when the U.S. Supreme Court handed down the Bush v. Gore decision, giving the election to George W. Bush," Rachel Tabachnick wrote in a long essay titled "The Christian Right, Reborn: The New Apostolic Reformation Goes to War," in the Spring 2013 issue of Political Research Associates' The Public Eye. For the NAR, the DC rally was just the beginning of a more public political journey that has allowed it to become one of the most important and yet least understood religious/political movements in the country.
Since that first rally, "Engle has staged more than 20 similar rallies, and each has attracted tens of thousands of participants to stadiums across the United States. He and his organization have also become deeply involved in U.S. politics, especially in anti choice and antigay organizing," Tabachnick, a PRA research fellow who has over the past several years become one of the nation's leading experts on the New Apostolic Reformation, reported.
None other than the venerable Dr. James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, one of the Christian Right's flagship entities, and a long-time culture warrior, credited Engle with bringing out the troops for a rally at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego one week before Election Day in 2008, and making a huge difference in helping pass Proposition 8, California's anti-same-sex marriage initiative. According to Tabachnick, "Engle's organization mounted a radio campaign and sent out email and phone blasts in support of Proposition 8, and he urged attendees to be martyrs for the cause."
Journalist and Talk2Action co-founder, Bruce Wilson described Engle as "the unofficial prayer leader of the Republican Party." He has been called a "radical theocrat," and the Southern Poverty Law Center has said that he says he can occasionally "venture into bloodlust."
Engle, a New Apostolic Reformation leader, has helped build a movement that has veered away from what we have come to know as the "traditional" Christian Right. It "is rooted in Charismatic Christianity, a cross-denominational belief in modern-day miracles and the supernatural." It emerged from neo-Pentecostal movement of the 1980s and "spread to Roman Catholics and mainline and evangelical Protestant churches in the United States and worldwide."
According to Tabachnick, the NAR embraces women and minorities, and is particularly focused on youth, "sponsoring youth events that look more like rock concerts than traditional church services." Its "stylish leaders dress in casual clothes, encourage fasting and repetitive chanting as a means of inducing altered mental states, and use sophisticated media strategies and techniques to deliver their message."
It's not all style over substance as the NAR's "most prominent leaders and prolific authors claim to be creating the 'greatest change in church since the Protestant Reformation,' and they describe themselves as modern-day prophets and apostles."
What the movement is really after is "to unify evangelical and all Protestant Christianity into a postdenominational structure, bringing about a reformation in the way that churches relate to one other, and in individual churches' internal governance."
Engle calls for massive "spiritual warfare" that will result in a complete worldwide "political and social transformation": "The revolution begins, they believe, with the casting out of demons, Tabachnick states. "NAR training materials claim that communities around the world are healed of their problems — experiencing a sudden and supernatural decline in poverty, crime, corruption, and even environmental degradation — once demonic influences are mapped and then purged from society through NAR's particular brand of 'spiritual warfare,' which is sometimes referred to as 'power evangelism.'"
Demonic activity has caused the downfall of society, both at home and abroad. "The sources of demonic activity can include homosexuality, abortion, non-Christian religions, and even sins from the past." According to NAR leaders, "strategic prayer can literally alter circumstances in the temporal world: the spontaneous burning and destruction of religious icons and structures," Tabachnick noted.
To achieve its goals, the NAR aims to have its apostles seize control over every important aspect of society, including, the government, military, entertainment industry and education."
If the NAR falls short of world denomination, it intends, as a minimum, to "turn America back to God."
Why pay any attention to what thus far appears to be a marginally effective political movement?
Tabachnick argues that, "The movement is bringing about profound changes in the character of conservative Christianity and the Christian Right, both in the United States and around the globe." It is not only "building new institutions, but [it is] creating new networks and alliances among long-established institutions. The NAR's leaders are methodically transforming the nature of the relationship between congregations and their leaders, creating a much more authoritarian leadership style than has traditionally been true of evangelical Christianity. That shift is central to the movement's political potential.
"The NAR's charismatic, authoritarian leaders are well-positioned to reinvent the Christian Right, infusing it with a new wave of energy, expanding its base of support, conducting sophisticated political campaigns, and doubling down on right-wing social and economic agendas — all while giving the Christian Right a new gloss of openness and diversity."
The "leading theorist" and the NAR's "most important organizing force" is C. Peter Wagner, a professor of "church growth" for three decades at Fuller Theological Seminary, a nondenominational evangelical seminary in Pasadena, CA. In the 1990's, Wagner headed up the International Coalition of Apostles, a networking group that "presided over an association of apostles — many of which, in turn, claimed hundreds or thousands of ministries under their leadership." He "also formed networks of faith-healing ministries, 'deliverance ministries' that claim to free people from demon possession, and an inner-circle of leading prophets, in addition to the Wagner Leadership Institute (WLI), a network of training programs in locations across the United States, Canada, and several Asian nations."
Tabachnick pointed out that the New Apostolic Reformation's influence does not end at America's shores: "Engle was featured extensively in God Loves Uganda, a documentary about U.S. evangelical conservatives' antigay influence in Uganda, where the infamous Anti-Homosexuality 'Kill the Gays' Bill was first introduced in 2009."
The NAR might have reached its pinnacle in the summer of 2011 when 30,000 people attended a prayer rally in Houston, Texas. Promoted heavily of Texas Governor Rick Perry, then a leading contender for the Republican Party's presidential nomination, the rally featured several NAR leaders, "apostles and prophets who had for years remained under the radar were suddenly subjected to scrutiny from the media."
"Exposed to this scrutiny, NAR's leaders publicly distanced themselves from some of their more radical ideology. Webpages were removed and websites were amended to explain that the NAR's apostles are either not Dominionists, or that the term simply means to gain influence in society."
This increased scrutiny may have led to a retreat of sorts, but certainly not to surrender.
27. EGYPT SHOWS HOW POLITICAL ISLAM IS AT ODDS WITH DEMOCRACY
by Youssef Rakha
The New York Times, July 15, 2013
CAIRO — Egypt’s top military commander, Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, went on the air Sunday to defend the army’s decision to oust Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president, on July 3.
“The armed forces remained committed to what it considered the legitimacy of the ballot box until this presumed legitimacy moved against its own purpose,” General el-Sisi said. “The Egyptian people were concerned that the tools of the state could be used against them. The armed forces had to make a choice, seeing the danger of deepened polarization.”
The general said that the military had offered Mr. Morsi the option of a referendum on whether he should stay in power, but that the deeply unpopular president had refused.
Painful as it was to see the democratic process interrupted so soon after the revolution that overthrew the longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011, the military’s action was necessary. At its most blatant level, there was no way that Mr. Morsi and his affiliates in the Muslim Brotherhood were going to leave power willingly, no matter the severity of the civil discontent over the president’s efforts to consolidate his power while mismanaging major problems from fuel shortages to rising inflation.
When has an Islamist government, however democratically elected, ever ceded power to non-Islamists through a functional political process? Is democracy about periodically displacing absolute power by force or about laying the foundations for its peaceful rotation, including mechanisms not only for transparency in governance but also for the protection of women and religious minorities?
Instead of reaching out to other parties and trying to effectively govern, the Brotherhood focused on consolidating its power, by forcing out competent national administrators and members of local government councils and replacing them with its own cronies and allies. Last December, the Morsi regime showed no hesitation as its Islamist supporters attacked protesters camped outside the presidential palace. The government was happy to suppress protest as long as the army stood aside.
In Egypt, the army has been seen as the “arm of the people” since long before the 1952 coup that led to the establishment of Egypt’s first republic in 1953. Like Mr. Mubarak, his predecessors, Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anwar el-Sadat, drew their authority less from political competence than from their belonging to the military establishment.
Like it or not, the military is the core of Egypt’s deeply bureaucratic state apparatus. But the army, always a major political player, has seldom interfered with politics unless forced to. Just as the army pushed out Mr. Mubarak in 2011, so it forced out Mr. Morsi when it seemed like the Egyptian state might very well cease to exist. At risk were not only basic amenities but also control of the borders, notably with the Hamas-dominated Gaza Strip, and diplomatic failures regarding Ethiopia’s plans to build a new dam on the Nile, Egypt’s long-term water supply.
The Brotherhood managed to antagonize every arm of the state as well as much of the business sector. In seeking office, it sold subsidized foodstuffs and fuel at reduced prices, or distributed them free of charge. It seemed clueless as power cuts and gas shortages became the norm.
The wiles and guile of Islamic fundamentalism were given free reign as never before, threatening not only republican norms but the spiritual wellbeing of the average moderate, and presumably pro-democracy, Sunni Muslim on the street. The legacy of the Morsi episode may sadly be that in the Middle East, democracy and political Islam “don’t mix.”
They don’t mix not only in theoretical terms — the Umma (or community of believers) vs. the modern nation state; the sect vs. the citizen; Islamic morality vs. individual liberties — but also because political Islam gives political cover to all that is undemocratic in an Arab society.
Under Mr. Morsi, jihadists blew up the export gas pipelines on the Sinai Peninsula with relative impunity. Indeed, when militants went so far as to abduct military personnel, Mr. Morsi expressed concern for both the abductors and abductees. (The kidnap victims were later released.) Members of unofficial Saudi-style religious police forces could kill a young man for taking a walk with his girlfriend. Women who did not wear the hijab could be subjected to discrimination and sexual harassment — not to mention having their hair forcibly cut with scissors on public transportation and in school. The despicable practice of child marriage threatened to resurge.
In the dysfunctional Parliament, Islamist members focused on such issues as legalizing female genital mutilation and banning the teaching of foreign languages in state schools.
A controversial Salafi preacher, Abu Islam, defaced a Christian Bible to make his sectarian point. (He was ordered to pay a fine.) Meanwhile, in southern Egypt, a Coptic Christian schoolteacher, Dimyana Abdel-Nour, was tried on trumped-up charges of attacking Islam in the classroom. She paid a much larger fine, and her case is still open.
A glaring example of the Brotherhood’s sectarianism occurred at a Syria Solidarity Conference convened by Mr. Morsi on June 15. What at first seemed like a fascist-style pro-Morsi rally quickly devolved into a hate-speech bonanza against the Alawite regime of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. A number of popular Wahhabi preachers, like Mohamed Hassan and Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud, not only complained of Mr. Morsi’s earlier, tentative rapprochement with Iran but also frothed at the mouth as they openly identified the Shiites with all evil. Mr. Morsi may not have been directly responsible, but he did nothing to prevent it.
On June 23, a mini-pogrom took place in which Hassan Shehata, a leader of Egypt’s tiny homegrown Shiite community, was dragged through the streets in his village outside Cairo, and then killed, along with three of his followers. Not a peep from Mr. Morsi.
To say that the events of the past month cannot be described as a coup — contrary to the position of some Western democratically obsessed political observers — should in no way imply a pro-military position. The generals are not eager to govern directly and they fear Western censure (and the possible cessation of American military aid), as well as the Islamists’ continuing political power, as demonstrated by ongoing pro-Morsi protests. What happens next is an open question.
What is no longer an open question is how Washington’s role in propping up political Islam is more likely to result in the death and discontent of Muslims. The Obama administration, which has largely stayed on the sidelines as our crisis has unfolded, must recognize that Islamic fundamentalism will always be more of a problem than a solution.
Youssef Rakha, a writer, journalist and photographer, is the author of the forthcoming novel “The Crocodiles.”
A version of this op-ed appeared in print on July 16, 2013, in The International Herald Tribune.
28. INDIA: PANCHAYAT ORDERS UP WOMAN’S GANG RAPE
by Piyush Srivastava in Lucknow
(Mail Today, 29 July 2013)
IN A shocking incident, a 24- yearold woman has been brutally gangraped and forced out of the home by her in- laws with the consent of a village panchayat in Uttar Pradesh.
The incident, which happened in Kamheda village of Muzaffarnagar, came to the fore when the victim, Noor Jahan, mustered up the courage to file a police complaint against the accused on July 27.
The village panchayat reportedly forced Jahan to marry Mohammad Shadab after her brother Mohammad Azeem had eloped with Shadab’s sister Gulsida Bano on February 15. Azeem works as a civil contractor in Delhi.
The panchayat later justified the July 20 incident, saying “ an eye for eye is the actual justice”. The rapists — Shadab’s family members — declared that it was their revenge.
A panchayat, which was convened around 10 days after Azeem eloped with Gulsida, demanded that Jahan marry Shadab.
Besides this, it also asked her parents to pay ` 75,000 as compensation to Gulsida’s parents.
“ I agreed to the panchayat’s decision because I knew that there would be bloodbath in the village if I refused to marry him,” Jahan told police.
“ My brother- in- laws Irshad and Shahzad raped me mercilessly the same day I married Shadab. It became a routine. My father- inlaw claimed that he had agreed to my marriage since he wanted to take revenge this way. On March 26, they registered a case against my brother and police traced him and Gulsida. They were released after Gulsida confessed before the magistrate that she married him willingly,” Jahan alleged in her complaint.
Jahan somehow managed to escape their clutches on July 21 early morning and filed a complaint with Muzaffarnagar police on July 27.
Senior superintendent of police Manzil Saini said: “ The victim has met me. A case has been registered under Section 376 of the IPC. The accused would be arrested soon,” said Saini.
The victim’s elder brother alleged that the decision that led to the incident was taken under the active supervision of the panchayat.
“ Police gave time to the accused to flee the village. The husband of the panchayat chief was also present when the fate of my sister was decided. He was very vocal and wanted the harshest punishment for us,” he said.
Mohammad Imran — panchayat head Mehrit Jahan’s husband— confirmed the decision of the panchayat to M AIL T ODAY . Imran claimed he had asked them to reach an amicable solution. “( But) she has approached the police.
Now, I don’t have anything to say.”
The panchayat in UP later justified the July 20 incident, saying “ an eye for eye is the actual justice”
29. ARAB WORLD: TUNISIA PARALYZED BY GENERAL STRIKE, PROTESTS AFTER BRAHMI KILLING
[26 July 2013]
Tunisia has been largely sealed off to the outside world, with all flights into and out of the country cancelled. The main labor union had called a general strike in response to the killing of politician Mohammed Brahmi.
Tunisia observed an official day of national mourning on Friday, in response to the deadly shooting of secular politician Mohammed Brahmi, with shops and banks closed in anticipation of potentially violent protests.
Brahmi was shot dead on Thursday outside of his home near the capital, Tunis, by unidentified gunmen on a motorbike. The 58-year-old was the second leading member of the leftist Popular Front to be shot dead this year.
In February, Chokri Belaid was gunned down outside of his home, sparking protests that led to resignation of the prime minister. Interior Minister Lofti Ben Jeddou told reporters Friday that Brahmi was killed by the same gun used to assassinate Belaid.
The country's main trade union body, the General Union of Tunisian Labor (UGTT), had called a general strike for Friday to protest against "terrorism, violence and murders." According to Reuters news agency, protesters assembled outside of UGTT headquarters in Tunis on Friday, preparing to march down the city's main boulevard as riot police deployed.
UGTT Deputy Secretary-General Sami Tahri said that all sectors of the country were observing the strike, including banks, health services and most public transport. The UGTT claims to have 500,000 members.
Thousands of protesters had already taken to the streets on Thursday in Tunis and Sidi Bouzid, the birth place of the Arab Spring. Demonstrators set fire to offices of the incumbent Islamist Ennahda party in Sidi Bouzid, while riot police fired tear gas at protesters outside of the Interior Ministry in Tunis.
Accusations against Islamist Ennahda party
Brahmi's 19-year-old daughter, Balkis Brahmi, told the AFP news agency that she saw two men dressed in black who fled the murder scene on a scooter.
"At around midday, we heard gunfire and my father crying with pain," she said. "We rushed out - my brother, mother and I - to find his body riddled with bullets at the wheel of his car parked in front of the house."
A state autopsy found that he had been shot 14 times. The slain secular politician's sister, Chhiba Brahmi, accused the governing Ennahda party for the murder. "I accuse Ennahda," Brahmi told AFP. "It was them who killed him."
Similar accusations were leveled against Ennahda after Belaid's assassination in February. The moderate Islamist party denied involvement in Belaid's murder and vehemently rejected similar accusations in connection with Brahmi's assassination.
Ennahda chief Rachid Ghannouchi called Brahmi's killing "a catastrophe for Tunisia," saying that "those behind this crime want to lead the country towards civil war and disrupt the democratic transition."
Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki called the national day of mourning Friday and has asked the army to arrange a state funeral for Brahmi. The slain politician's family postponed his funeral until Saturday, to avoid exacerbating tensions.
Ennahda accuses radical Salafists of being behind the assassinations of both Belaid and Brahmi.
slk/dr (AP, AFP, Reuters)
30. AFTER MUBARAK, THE BROTHERHOOD WAS TRIUMPHANT. NOW IT IS IN CRISIS
Under attack in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, the leadership has to answer the question: 'How did you let this happen to you?'
by Peter Beaumont
(The Observer, 27 July 2013)
Supporters of Mohamed Morsi bettle police
Supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi battle with Egyptian police in Nasr city, east of Cairo yesterday. Photograph: Asmaa Waguih/Reuters
Outside the Rabaa al-Adaweya mosque in Cairo, the bodies of Muslim Brotherhood supporters were laid out in rows. In Libya, its offices in Benghazi and Tripoli were attacked during the same night. In Tunisia, the Brotherhood's offshoot, Ennahda, was facing its own political crisis following the assassination by suspected
Salafist extremists of a prominent leftwing politician outside his home.
A year ago it seemed as if Islamist parties – in particular those with roots in the Brotherhood – were in the ascendant following the Arab spring. This week they are confronting a profound crisis.
If Egypt is the centre of gravity for the Muslim Brotherhood – the party was founded here in 1928 – it is also where the move against the ikhwan (brotherhood) has been sharpest in recent <br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)