Archive

Archive for December, 2011

The Refugee Problem in the Muslim World

December 31, 2011 Leave a comment

There is an obsession in the media about the Palestinian refugee problem at the expense of several other refugee problems in that part of the world that are only given casual cursory interest.  Let’s briefly cite some of these other ones.

  • Saddam’s Al-Anfal Campaign in the 1980s led to a million Kurdish refugees. A clear case of ethnic cleansing.
  • Human Rights Watch says that “By the mid-1990s, more than 3,000 villages had been virtually wiped from the map, and, according to official figures, 378,335 Kurdish villagers had been displaced and left homeless.
  • Assyrian Christians have constantly been leaving Iraq over the last few 100 years (unlike Muslims who have grown in number). Now their number is only a small fraction.
  • The Lebanese civil war caused around 900,000 Lebanese to be displaced.
  • The 1974 Cyprus Crisis led to around 200,000 Greek Cypriot refugees and 65,000 Turkish Cypriot refugees (UN figures). These are near half the populations of both groups.
  • Nearly 800,000 Jews have been made refugees by Muslim states that they lived in for generations, thru persecution and intimidation. Most of them were sheltered and given a home in Israel; others fled to Western nations.
  • There are also many refugees from among the minorities living in Muslim states, such as the Bahais in Iran, who sought refuge in Western nations, in Israel, Turkey and others.
  • 100,000s Algerians have fled and taken refuge in Europe during the Algerian War of Independence.
  • The current Syrian civil war has led to the creation of 19,000 Syrian refugees near Turkey’s border; some 8,000 refugees fled to Lebanon, 1500 to Jordan, and 6,000 to Libya.
  • The Armenian refugees under the Turks, as well as the genocide against the Armenians.
Categories: History, Israel, News, Politics, Religion

Can the West affect change in the Middle East?

December 30, 2011 6 comments

http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQdlKPfNBmqNMjr_YZ1Laa56l9fxAId5olvpwW5QLj5Ob86OiWNThere is a piece in the Guardian on Tony Blair’s proposal that the Western World should do more to:

help “liberal and democratic” elements in the Middle East and north Africa following the Arab spring – or risk the formation of new Islamist governments that are not “genuine” democracies.

Blair makes these points:

Britain and the US had previously been “too reluctant to push dictatorships on a path to democracy because the trouble really in the region is the more religious and extreme elements are very well organised and the liberal and democratic types basically aren’t”

– there was a battle between competing elements in the Middle East as to what is democracy?

– “Then you have got this Islamist movement, in the Muslim Brotherhood, which is very well organised, and where frankly, it is not clear that they want the same things as us and it is not clear that the type of democracy they would create would be a genuine democracy.”

I think it’s too late and anything we do will be construed by them as “colonial interference,” a charge which the Islamists have previously exploited and can reiterate.

In Egypt, for example, back in February 2011 the demonstrators all seemed to call for freedom and democracy, without any Islamist banners. And yet, now, look who they voted for: the Muslim Brotherhood, and to make matters worse, they gave an unexpected boost to the more extreme Salafist group. There we have it: that is their definition of “freedom and democracy.”  … Are the Syrian protesters the same, I wonder.

Are the only two possible practical/political alternatives in the Muslim/Arab world a secular tyranny or an Islamist tyranny? So far that is what we have been seeing — as well as a cycle of violent competition between the two. (Sometimes between an Islamist tyranny against another Islamist tyranny, such as the case in Saudi Arabia since the Royal House of Saud is Islamist.)

Positive impact of religiously active Americans

December 29, 2011 Leave a comment

Interesting statistics from PEW Internet comparing religious and non-religious Americans in various activities. There is a PDF file available of other related stats as well. Here is a sample:

Some 40% of Americans say they are active in a church, religious, or spiritual organization. Compared with those who are not involved with such organizations, religiously active Americans are more trusting of others, are more optimistic about their impact on their community, think more highly of their community, are more involved in more organizations of all kinds, and devote more time to the groups to which they are active.

– 53% of religiously active Americans believe that other people are generally trustworthy, compared with 43% of those not involved with religious groups

– 45% of religiously active view their community as an excellent place to live, compared with 34% of those not active with religious groups

– 38% of religiously active Americans believe that they can have a major impact on their communities, compared with 27% of those not active with religious groups

– 35% are active in sports or recreation leagues for themselves or for their children (versus 17% for the non-religious).

– 34% are active in charitable or volunteer organizations such as Habitat for Humanity or the Humane Society (versus 15% for the non-religious).

– 30% are active in community groups or neighborhood associations (versus 11% for the non-religious).

– 68% of Americans who are active in religious groups (internet users and non-users alike) said the internet has had a major impact on the ability of groups to communicate with members.

– 58% of Americans who are active in religious groups said the internet has had a major impact on the ability of groups to impact society at large.
__________________________________

Tidbits on Christmas

December 26, 2011 Leave a comment

In WWI, Allied and German troops took a break Christmas eve, sang carols and called out “Merry Christmas” to one another. The Christmas Truce of 1914.

In the second half of the 1600s, Christmas was illegal (where the Puritans settled in America). After the American Revolutionary war, the US Congress didn’t take the day off. It was only in the late 1800s that Congress called Christmas a federal holiday.

Every Christmas I read articles on who Christians ‘stole’ it from, and every year I read a different story. Here’s a very short Britannica article that cites three ways it may have come about (I think there are more such speculations by other authors.) In the end it’s a matter of opinion and faith. I think that Christmas was instituted to mark the birth of Jesus Christ.

Christian Art – Piero della Francesca

December 24, 2011 Leave a comment
https://i0.wp.com/writeforgod.stblogs.com/files/2009/04/resurrection1.jpg

Resurrection

If the spirit is the 6th sense, then my 7th sense would have to be one that can ‘see’ Christian Art.  I have a love for it.  Here are a few by the 15th century painter Piero della Francesca that illustrate the inspiration that I glean from them.

The first one “Resurrection” has been on the news today — about a British Officer who saved this painting during wartime Italy. (Right clicking the image will produce an enlarged image.)

Have a Happy Hannukah and a Merry Christmas.

https://i2.wp.com/magicstatistics.com/wp-content/pictures/art/Francesca_Exaltation.jpg

Exaltation

https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/1c/Piero,_battesimo_di_cristo_04.jpg/300px-Piero,_battesimo_di_cristo_04.jpg

Baptism of Christ

Will Obama be re-elected?

December 22, 2011 2 comments

As a Republican, I hope not. But I’m one who is a realist who sees indications that the Republican party looks in disarray, fragmented, and does not have a ‘winning’ hand. Further, a recent CNN poll shows Obama’s approval rising from 43% back in September to 49% in December (2011). The same polls show more Americans disapproving of the way Republican leaders handling of the Nation’s problems.  Another recent Gallup poll shows that 76% of Americans want to re-elect their Republican-dominated representatives on the US Congress. These cannot be good news for people like me, but … I accept the inevitable.

PS–By contrast, the Conservative party in Canada is doing much better. In their second recent election they won by a landslide and increased their reps on Parliament. Maybe we can see what they’re doing right?

Categories: News, Politics, United States

France’s Armenian genocide law

December 22, 2011 Leave a comment

The French National Assembly passed a bill criminalizing public denial of the Armenian genocide committed by the Ottoman Turks in WWI (~1915) — to which Turkey is set to retaliate. I take the view that it was a genocide since the Armenians were singled out for destruction.

I support this bill just as I do the analogous German law criminalizing Holocaust denial. My reason is that by making them into law people are not to forget those atrocities that man has committed against man. Secondly, the vast majority of people who deny genocides tend to be the ones who support — albeit quite obliquely — doing them and want to repeat them (witness Nazis, radical/Islamists, Ahmadinejad and the like).  These laws are then saying that we’re not going to repeat them nor the likes of WWII and other genocides.