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Friday, April 04, 2008

Mediawatch World Apr 03: Muslim Uighurs, Mona Eltahawy, Dutch Jews Protest Fitna, Saudi Terror, US Media Not Critical, Mugabe, Canada Foils, Toronto

Muslim Uighurs have held anti-government protests in the far western region of Xinjiang, Chinese officials have acknowledged, blaming separatists inspired by the unrest in Tibet. Demonstrators took to the streets at the weekly bazaar in Hotan on March 23, but news of the incident has only just emerged. China maintains tight controls on information from the area. The local government issued a statement accusing "a tiny number of people" of creating an incident after the US government-funded Radio Free Asia reported that hundreds of people had been detained for protesting in the city and a nearby county. Turkic-speaking Uighurs account for 8 million of the 19 million-strong population in the vast region, which covers an area more than three times the size of France. But the government has implemented tight controls on Uighur culture, particularly since riots broke out in 1997. Muslim 'separatists' protest as unrest spreads in China Tania Branigan

NEW YORK — As soon as I heard that right wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders’ anti-Islam film had been uploaded onto an internet site, I did what any self-respecting Muslim would do: I clicked on the link and prepared to be offended. Talk about anti-climax! What happened, Geert? Like a magpie stringing cheap trinkets together, “Fitna” is a cut-and-paste affair. It tries to pass itself off as precious insight. It isn’t. It’s not breaking news that Muslim radicals have abused the Quran to justify their violence. Just like Wilders, they cherry-pick their verses from the Muslim holy book to make their bloody point. A Responsible Response to Geert Wilders By Mona Eltahawy

THE HAGUE - Ironically, Dutch Jews are more outspoken than local Muslims in their criticism of the newly released anti-Islam film by rightist legislator Geert Wilders, says Dr. Ronny Naftaniel, head of the pro-Zionist Center for Information and Documentation (CIDI). Last Friday, hours after the film's online release, CJO, the Jewish community central board of which CIDI is a member, condemned the footage as generalizing and counterproductive to the fight against extremism. The board described parts of the film as unacceptable, adding it had crossed the line of legitimate criticism. Dutch Jews louder than Muslims in condemning 'Fitna' film By Cnaan Liphshiz

GENEVA (Reuters) - International activist groups accused the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday of acting as a cover for Islamic and other countries aiming to restrict free speech. The 47-nation Council passed resolutions on Friday imposing new instructions for its investigator on freedom of expression which non-governmental organisations (NGOs) said bowed too far to concerns about defamation of Islam, which have flared again with a Dutch lawmaker's film on the Islamic holy book the Koran. Activists say U.N. rights body undermines free speech - Robert Evans

I have recently attempted to produce what I hope is good and socially engaged scholarship about the paradoxical need to separate religion and the state in my book Islam and the Secular State: Negotiating the Future of Shari`a (Harvard University Press, 2008). The paradox of separation of religion and the state, with recognition and regulation of the unavoidable connectedness of religion and politics can, and should, be mediated through a variety of mechanisms, but cannot be resolved once and for all. This approach makes a difficult but necessary distinction between the institutional continuity of the state and the contingency of politics as reflected in the government of the day. While my argument is applied to Islam and Muslims, I believe that it is also applicable to other religious traditions and communities. Making media matter

WASHINGTON -- Saudi Arabia remains the world's leading source of money for Al Qaeda and other extremist networks and has failed to take key steps requested by U.S. officials to stem the flow, the Bush administration's top financial counter-terrorism official said Tuesday. Stuart A. Levey, a Treasury undersecretary, told a Senate committee that the Saudi government had not taken important steps to go after those who finance terrorist organizations or to prevent wealthy donors from bankrolling extremism through charitable contributions, sometimes unwittingly. Saudi Arabia is prime source of terror funds, U.S. says - Josh Meyer

In the thousands of articles and television reports in recent days surrounding the fifth anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq -- and the grim milestone of 4,000 U.S. troops dead there -- nearly every important aspect was probed, and fingers were pointed: at Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Bremer or Dick Cheney, at stubborn Republicans or weak-willed Democrats, and at many others. But conspicuously absent as a subject in the media analysis and reassessment were... the media. It's as if the war had been planned, launched, and continued for more than half a decade with hardly any major media slips or tragic omissions. The media, with months to plan for the five-year commemoration, were ready to take stock of everything but themselves. No Shame, No Blame -- Media Refuse to Face Up to Role in Iraq Disaster - Greg Mitchell

"Who are you working for?" It's a simple question that carries a lot of meaning depending on who's asking and when. It's the question millions of Americans - struggling with enormous mortgage payments, gas nearing $4 a gallon and unappetizing higher prices at the grocery store -- must have wanted to ask the Bush administration when they heard that the federal government had bailed out one of Wall Street's main investment banks. Clearly, assisting Bear Stearns was necessary to stave off further economic collapse, but the message it sent was unsettling. The federal government, at the direction of the Bush administration, will pull out all the stops, spare no expense, and burn the midnight oil to bail out Wall Street, but that same administration has put in only a fraction of the effort over the past year to help homeowners on Main Street. Effort to Save Bear Stearns Must be Matched by Effort to Save Homeowners - Sen Robert Menendez

Canada emerged as the pivotal nation behind recent manoeuvres to block the United Nations Human Rights Council from recognizing water as a basic human right, according to international observers. The Geneva-based body wrapped up an intense three-week session late Friday without passing a German-Spanish resolution intended to enshrine its importance in a world where more than 2 billion people live in water-stressed regions. Canada foils UN water plan -Linda Diebel

HARARE–Some members of Zimbabwe's jittery ruling elite have concluded that President Robert Mugabe must step down after apparently losing an election last weekend and have begun reaching out to opposition leaders to resolve the four-day-old political standoff, according to ruling party members, diplomats and political observers. Mugabe, 84, has made no public appearance since Saturday, when he pledged not to rig the results and to abide by the vote totals. But behind the scenes, his future is the subject of wrenching discussions inside his ruling party, the sources said. Mugabe's supporters plot his exit

The judge in the trial of a youth accused of belonging to a homegrown terror cell ruled yesterday that a publication ban on the identities of his co-accused is necessary to "prevent a real and substantial risk to the fairness of their trial." "It is difficult to conceive of a case in which there is a greater risk of sustained and prejudicial pre-trial publicity," wrote Superior Court Justice John Sproat in a ruling that was delivered in a Brampton court. "Sustained and inflammatory pre-trial publicity may improperly influence and prejudice the minds of jury members despite their best efforts to set aside any bias and focus solely on the evidence heard in court." Although the ban will minimally intrude on freedom of expression, "the positive effects of the ban outweigh any negative effects on the rights and interests of the parties and the public." Terror trial suspects can't be named - Isabel Teotonio

OTTAWA – Almost half the people in the Toronto region are visible minorities, according to new census data which shows the face of Canada continues to change from the country's European origins. Statistics Canada released the latest information from the 2006 census Wednesday and it shows that across Canada, 16.2 per cent of the population identified themselves as a visible minority – that's more than five million Canadians. Near half in GTA (Greater Toronto Area) minorities

The US House of Representatives has passed a bill to more than triple government spending in Africa and other badly-affected parts of the world. The bipartisan measure, which is backed by the White House, was passed by 308 votes to 116. US set to spend $50bn against HIV

Steve Coll: Bin Laden has long formulated his messages such that they touch on current events. It is not difficult to imagine him hidden away somewhere on the Afghanistan border watching al-Jazeera or CNN and taking notes for his next communiqué. I think his comments on Europe were mostly an effort to make headlines -- written after he heard about the Muhammad caricatures being reprinted. But it could also be an indication that he got wind of a plot developing in Europe. In the last two years, we have found connections between such plots and al-Qaida headquarters. His mention of Gaza is typical of his attempt to play a role in current events. He simply wants to show that he is still alive and keeping abreast of developments in the Muslim world. SPIEGEL INTERVIEW WITH US AUTHOR STEVE COLL 'Osama bin Laden is Planning Something for the US Election'

Unaccustomed Earth is Jhumpa Lahiri's stunning follow to her 1999 Pulitzer Prize-winning short-story collection Interpreter of Maladies and her 2003 novel, The Namesake. This new collection, like Lahiri's other works, delves deeply and richly into the lives of immigrants. They are uprooted adventurers from India who arrive in America ready to work hard and become assimilated. They cling to beloved cultural traditions but heartily embrace the Western world's wondrous opportunities for happiness and success. Jhumpa Lahiri leaves no 'Earth' untilled

From Paul Jay of the RealNews
Pepe Escobar: Iran is sufficiently powerful to broker a ceasefire deal view
Urge fellow drivers to stop hauling freight for the day in protest view
Canada blocks asbestos ban
UN Rotterdam treaty on toxic trade restrictions marred by Canada's stance on asbestos


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