Adonis Diaries

Archive for October 2nd, 2013

What are the 7 issues that triggered Sudan revolt?

In the last week, thousands of Sudanese have taken to the streets to call for a fundamental change in the way their country is governed.

Many organized themselves around the #SudanRevolts and #Abena (We Refuse) hashtags on Twitter, and have used social media to share graphic evidence of the state security forces’ brutal crackdown on peaceful and unarmed demonstrators.

Akshaya Kumar, Sudan and South Sudan policy analyst for the Enough Project, posted this September 30, 2013 on ThinkProgress

Here’s what you need to know:

Sudanese anti-government protesters chant slogans

Sudanese anti-government protesters chant slogans

1. Why are the Sudanese people protesting?

The Sudanese government’s decision to lift fuel subsidies has been identified as the driving force behind the latest protests. Sudanese activists disagree with that description.

Instead, the activists argue that while the specter of rising prices sparked action, as in many other Arab Spring countries, (Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen) the demonstrations have been sustained by consensus about the pressing need for much more fundamental political and economic reform.

Amjed Farid of Sudan Change Now explains: “it was about the economic crisis but after our blood was shed in the streets we are saying, this government should go, this regime has to go, and it should go now because it killed us. […] We demand a responsible government that can lead us out of these hardships.”

What has the government done in response?

In addition to arresting at least 700 protesters, the Sudanese government has reportedly deployed its notorious paramilitary forces against the protesters. Credible reports from multiple sources confirm that security forces have been using live ammunition on crowds.

Doctors report that at least 210 protesters were killed last week, noting that in most cases bullets found in their heads and chests were the cause of death. The regime has even moved trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns, usually reserved for use in Darfur, onto the streets of its capital city.

Schools, which were shut down after students began to march against the regime, will remain closed until at least October 20. Last week, drawing on the Egyptian example, the Sudanese government shut down the internet for almost 24 hours. Since then, it has threatened more communications blackouts, forced international television channels and local print publications to close their operations, and engaged in an insidious disinformation campaign against the protesters.

Relatives have been forced to sign forged death certificates that identify “natural causes” as the cause of protesters’ deaths.

Sounds familiar, didn’t something very similar happen a few months ago? And also a few months before that?

Sudan has a rich political protest culture.

(Sudan experienced a succession of military coups, one of them was planned and executed by the Communist party)

Over the summer, as a part of their 100 days campaign against the regime the National Consensus Forces mobilized at least 10,000 people for a protest in Omdurman, Khartoum’s sister city, for one the biggest protest rallies in years,

In December 2012, a wave of protests broke out after 4 students were killed in Wad Medani.

In the summer of 2012, youth led #SudanRevolts protests rocked the country for weeks and many activists were jailed. Although anti-regime demonstrations had gripped the capital in January and December 2011, the Enough Project’s Omer Ismail predicted that the summer protests might be a “prelude” to an end of the NCP’s reign.

2. So is this time different?

A lot of people think so. The Sudanese political scene has been stifled by dictatorship for almost a quarter century, but this might finally be the moment for real change.

Very similar activism led by students and unions led to the demise of two previous Sudanese dictatorships in 1964 and 1985. This time, the government’s response has been even more brutal and deadly.

The anger in Sudan is palpable, as illustrated by this video of President Bashir’s close adviser Nafie Ali Nafie getting jeered from a funeral where he was ostensibly paying his respects to one of the slain protesters. The protests have already deepened existing fissures in the ruling party.

In a public memorandum to President Bashir, 31 members of the Sudanese Islamist movement and the ruling National Congress Party called for the subsidies to be reinstated and warned the ICC indictee who has survived multiple coup attempts that “the legitimacy of your rule has never been at stake like it is today.”

3. Do the protesters have clear demands for a way forward?

Protesters are rallying around chants about freedom, peace and the fall of the regime, not just anti-austerity measures. While efforts to form an inclusive umbrella group are still ongoing, a new coalition, calling itself Sudan Change Forces issued a public communique on September 28 with four political demands.

Claiming to represent Sudanese youth movements, professional unions, civil society organizations and the opposition parties’ National Consensus Forces, the statement asks for

(1) the regime to step down,

(2) the formation of a transitional government,

(3) accountability and punishment for crimes,

(4) and an immediate end of wars on the periphery through a comprehensive peace process addressing roots of problem.

Others are working in parallel, and cite the New Dawn Charter, a joint platform signed by civil society, opposition parties, and the rebels in January 2013, as a way forward.

4. What is the Sudanese government’s official reaction?

Interviewed in New York, where he is leading the Sudanese delegation to the UN General Assembly, Foreign Minister Ali Karti dismissed the demonstrations as a creation of the media in an Arabic-language interview. When asked if the government would reverse its decision on subsidies in response to public pressure, Sudan’s Information Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman replied that while the government knows that bearing higher prices will be “a bit heavy for the people,” it has to “carry on” with the planned austerity budget.

Analysts note that the International Monetary Fund has told the Sudanese government, which is in dire economic straits, that removal of these subsidies is a condition on further lending. Today, at a press conference in Khartoum, the Minister of Interior suggested that the revolution was being manufactured for political purposes and that photographs were being recycled from the Egyptian revolution.

5. Has the international community spoken out?

The African Union’s Peace and Security Council, United Nations Security Council and League of Arab States have all been silent. However, others have voiced their concern. Regionally, the UAE’s foreign minister Anwar Mohammad Gargash called the government’s response to the protests “violent and unjustified.” U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power labelled the reports as “disturbing” on Twitter.

The U.S. State Department formally condemned Sudan for its “brutal crackdown” while newly appointed Special Envoy Don Booth called the use of live ammunition an excessive use of force on Radio France International.

The UN’s human rights office expressed deep concern at security forces excessive use of force and called for restraint. Human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have also spoken out.

Note 1: A better understanding of how a Sudanese feels can be provided from reading the book of late Sudan writer Tayyeb Saleh

Note 2: Now that South Sudan got its independence, can anyone tells me “What triggered the latest round of violence“, the latest genocide in the Capital Juba where thousands have been killed and ten of thousands displaced? The news say it was a coup d’état by the vice president, and now ethnic cleansing is rampant…

Tunisian Women are Waging a ‘Sexual Jihad’ in Syria? What’s this story again?

Have you heard of the harem of Tunisian sex-warrior slaves heading to Syria in order to give up their young bodies to the appetites of deprived rebels to fulfill jihad al-Nikkah  (“Sexual Jihad”)?

And are coming back to the country with bellies full of Jihadi babies?

You might not have read this, but probably you heard something in general.

For what seems to be a blind spot that people have when it comes to stories on Muslims and sex, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence of Tunisian female warriors going to fight a holy sex war, according to Sana Saeed.

Sana Saeed, Senior Editor for islawmix, a project incubated at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, posted on World Policymic: Officials Claim Tunisian Women are Waging a ‘Sexual Jihad’ in Syria, But What’s the Real Story?

Sucks, I know.

Despite the lack of clear evidence of a sex war pandemic, this hasn’t stopped news media outlets all over the world from grabbing, expanding, and running with this story.

officials, claim, tunisian, women, are, waging, a, sexual, jihad, in, syria,, but, whats, the, real, story?,                   

Officials Claim Tunisian Women are Waging a ‘Sexual Jihad’ in Syria, But What’s the Real Story?                            © The Telegraph

In December, Lebanese news channel Al Jadeed reported that hardline and popular Salafi scholar Shaykh Mohamad Al Arefe, a loud and inciting opponent of the Syrian regime, had issued a fatwa (a non-binding religious opinion) allowing the gang rape of non-Sunni Syrian women by rebels.

Not only did the scholar vehemently deny expressing any such opinion, on Twitter and in later sermons (both links in Arabic), but the story was debunked by the Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah.

On March 27, 2012, the Pan-Arab news site Al Hayat, published a piece discussing the apparent crisis of young Tunisian girls and what was being referred to as “Sexual Jihad.” It claimed that the impetus behind this was another fatwa from Al Arefe, in which he urged young women to engage in the so-called sexual Jihad by offering themselves to the rebels. There was, however, no proof of this fatwa and those close to Al Arefe also thoroughly denied the cleric had ever made such a ridiculous statement.

According to the report, 13 young Tunisian girls had gone missing, believed to be in Syria engaging in the sexual Jihad. The story gained traction in Arabic social media circles when in a video, parents of one of the girls claimed that their 17-year old daughter, who had since returned home, had been brainwashed by friends with Salafi Jihadi leanings who told her to go to Syria to temporarily marry and have sex with rebels. Iranian news station Al-Alam also released a video claiming to be interviewing one such girl (Arabic).

While Tunisia’s Minister of Religious Affairs Noureddine El-Khadimi condemned such religious opinions, there seemed to be no actual evidence of anyone — Al Arefe or any other scholar — issuing such a decree.

In July, sexual Jihad popped up again in headlines when following protests by Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Rabaa, reports emerged — based on a questionable Facebook post — that female Brotherhood supporters were preparing themselves for sexual Jihad. Saudi-owned Al Arabiya, which supported the crackdown on Brotherhood supporters, was one of the first to report on the issue.

Sexual Jihad, however, didn’t go viral until last week when AFP and Al Arabiya were amongst the first to report that that in an address to the National Assembly last Thursday, Tunisian Interior Minister Lotfi ben Jouddou mentioned how young Tunisian women were being lured into a sexual Jihad in Syria, having sex with “20, 30, 100” rebels and were returning to Tunisia pregnant.

The story, like any story involving Muslims and sexy time, quickly caught on fire in the American press.

The Atlantic (“Tunisian Teens Are Helping Out Syrian Rebels with ‘Sexual Jihad’”),

TIME (“Tunisian Women Go On ‘Sex Jihad’ to Syria, Minister Says”),

Business Insider (“Tunisian Girls are Coming Home Pregnant After Performing ‘Sexual Jihad’ in Syria”),

The Global Post (“Tunisian Women on ‘Sexual Jihad’ Return Home Pregnant’: Minister”),

Jezebel (“Tunisian Minister Warns of Women Going to Syria on ‘Sex Jihad’”),

Huffington Post (“‘Sexual Jihad’ in Syria Cause Rise in Pregnancy among Tunisian Women”) and

The Daily Beast (“Syria’s ‘Sex Jihad’”) are amongst just few of the names of the media outlets that covered the story with great zeal and over-played images that would make the late great Edward Said convulse from horror and despair in his grave.

Despite the story having gained traction of the viral variety, and despite the concerns and facts expressed by Tunisian officials, there seems to be actually very little evidence to suggest that the so-called sexual Jihad is actually a thing (and Jihad al-Nikkah is not a thing in Islamic jurisprudence).

The story of Tunisian women returning from waging sex on holy warriors (thanks RT) in Syria impregnated with future warrior babies itself is, at best, just incredibly questionable and many, from the onset of the story’s break into the English press, expressed deep skepticism.

In a civil war that has had many ideological fronts, the most pernicious in this salience has perhaps been that of information.

Syria has been a cluster of misinformation, mis-attribution and propaganda.

O’Bagygate and Mint Press-gate are two of the most recent headlines to highlight the problems in not only reporting on the conflict but also how easily questionable, untrue, unverified information is gobbled up to serve ideological biases and wishful thinking.

Lauren Wolfe, director of Women Under Siege, emphasized in an email exchange that WUS, while unable to investigate on the ground, had looked into the rumors of a ‘Sexual Jihad’ sporadically over the past year and found “no hard proof of anything.”

She added:
“We’ve seen all kinds of horrors in this war though, so who’s to say whether this is happening too. Then again, we’ve also seen massive amounts of propaganda tainting both sides in this conflict. So who’s to say this isn’t more of that?”

Ruth Michaelson, a freelance reporter who spent time in Syria in September 2012 and has written extensively about the role of sexual exploitation in the conflict, not only expressed concern, in an email, over the veracity and strangeness of the story, but also the several long-standing racist Orientalist tropes being pulled together into the story:

“The first thought that struck me on this is that now that Western media has exhausted the vein of “female refugees being…exploitatively married to men from the Gulf”-type stories, this is the new wave.

It seems like there has to be a story in the Western media that plays into the dynamic of sexually rampant Arab men and submissive women, and this is the 2.0 version.

As with the 1.0 version it’s not to say that there is not a problem. In the case of sexual exploitation of women in refugee camps, there are definitely problems happening, but the framing of the issues in the media made it sound like a pandemic of uncontrollable sexual violence.

This was actively unhelpful- it made the…occurring problems more difficult to locate and discuss sensitively [and] it also was framed in the media in a way that directly disenfranchised and silenced Syrian women, portraying them as unending numbers of mute and stupid victims of sexually voracious men… “

The sex Jihad story playfully weaves together a history of fatwa misreporting (like the famous faux phallic fatwa), haphazard research and knee-jerk reactions (the Queendom of Saudi Arabia debacle, the Yemeni child bride hoax and the guy too handsome for, again, Saudi Arabia) and a weird, uneasy obsession with Muslims and sex. It especially feeds on the trope of Muslim women’s bodies as disposable for the unquenchable appetites of Muslim men. This in turn also obscures the agency of Muslim women in sexual relations — as ones to only ever serve males.

Michaelson additionally asks:

Why would women coming into Syria prioritize sexual favours when there is a large body of evidence showing that there are female fighters on the ground?

So what then can we make of the Interior Minister’s statements?

Dismissing them is not an option, yet questioning them certainly is as ultimately we don’t have enough details about the story from the source itself, Ben Jeddou, whose information more than likely came from within the intelligence service in his ministry and not (hopefully) from online gossip sites.

How did these young girls, some allegedly as young as 13, get out of Tunisia, into Syria, out of Syria (pregnant) and back into Tunisia with what seems to be ease? Why are only Tunisian women being sent to wage this sex war? Why not Pakistani? Chechen? Libyan?

Who is escorting these women? Or are they traveling alone and if so how and where are they getting across the borders into Syria?

What we do know is that, according to the Tunisian government, at least thirteen Tunisian girls are missing, several hundred Tunisian men have allegedly gone to join Syrian rebels, several thousand have been stopped from going to Syria and we know that sex (especially in terms of sexual violence and exploitation) is an inseparable part of any conflict and war.

Yet the near exclusiveness of only Tunisian young girls being groomed for a holy sex war brigade (perhaps unwittingly building on the stereotype of North African women amongst Gulf/Levantine Arabs), the lack of evidence and corroborating reports from journalists, aid workers and activists on the ground in Syria, false fatwas and the history of delegitimizing groups, ideas and movements through accusations (whether these are true or not is irrelevant) of ‘sexual deviance’ (i.e. Here, here and here) call into question how this story is being used by the Tunisian government itself.

After all, it has a strong interest in countering the growth of Salafist ideas and sympathies within its own borders.

When it comes to stories that involve Muslims and sex, international news media are quick to publish and gloat about the varying ways in which Muslims (by extension generally any and all brown folks) are so incredibly sexually repressed that they resort to sexual deviance, which is always at the expense of their women.

The words sex and Jihad are two SEO-happy terms that elicit strong emotional responses and outrage as well as clicks and news-makers are well aware of this. Instead of putting in some time to verify information or, at the very least, offer cautionary language most, if not all, American news media reported the sexual Jihad story as the hard (no pun intended), cold, exploitative truth. As I’ve written elsewhere:

“Predisposed ideas and conceptions of Muslims and of gender relations in the Muslim world and Muslim countries make it easy for sloppy and reactionary journalism to gain momentum. They love to publish it, and we love to read it.

There’s something wrong with this equation, but we still continue to gobble it up every time it’s thrown in our collectively gawking face.”

And lo, we gawk on.

Note 1: Looking for hard proofs and factual evidence? Like usage of chemical gas? And ending in controversial conclusions and interpretations? Is one case a good enough fact?

Note 2: Currently, Tunisia has enacted firm laws and taken a strong stand against allowing its citizens to go to Syria. Tunisia had experienced the consequences of Tunisian Jihadist returning to their homeland and resuming what they learned in Syria.

The same process is taking place in Saudi Arabia, England, France, the USA… All of them realized that a Jihadist is always a jihadist when he returns home and prohibiting those who fought in Syria from even returning home, or face extended jail terms and denying them citizenship status…

6,000 years of Peaceful Contribution to Mankind” by late Charles Corm

In 1934, the US Jesuit priests Ewing and Doberty discovered the Jeita Grotto in Lebanon. And 20 meters deep in the rubble, they found a skeleton of a 10 year-old that they christened Egbert. The features of the skeleton, of 50,000 years ago, had the same modern physical features of current mankind.

6,000 years ago, as the neighboring civilizations built houses out of clay bricks and mud blocks, the people in Byblos used stones, excavated from quarry hard rock.

The stones house was held by 7 stone pillars: 3 pillars embedded in the stonewall on each side, and the 7th pillar installed smack in the middle, acting as buttress to the 6 pillars by means of wooden beans… Thus, this dictum of “The 7 pillars of wisdom

The French archeologists Dunant and Pierson explain this usage of the 7 pillars of wisdom as a symbolic example of perfection.

The Phoenicians discovered the North Star, which the Greeks christened “The Phoenician”

1. The maritime periplus of Hanno:

This Carthage admiral (500 BC) explored the western coast of Africa and reached Cameroon, and established 300 colonies or trading posts.

Hanno loaded 6 galleys of 500 mariners each and crossed the Straits of Gibraltar, moved beyond Senegal, Liberia, Nigeria and up to Cameroon. The volcano of Mount Cameroon, the only active volcano along this coast line, was in eruption and the fumes formed a “Chariot” shape. Hanno called it “Kamour Ayoun” or (Chariot of the Gods).

This expedition met with gorillas and they named them “N’Ghoril” or the “hairy man”

A few of the colonies were Tangiers, Agadir, Acra, Arambys, Cerne, Roxo, Noun, Gytte

Names such as Hani (Hani Baal), Hanoun, Hnein and Honein refer to Hanno

2. The maritime periplus of Himilco:

Himilco set out from Carthage around 500 BC and reached England, Ireland (Holy Island), and the Baltic Sea

The Isles of Scilly (south England) is still called Cassiterides (from Kasdir or Tin, where Carthage mined the tin mineral)

Carthage also profited from the “murex” seashells in Neabra-in-Castle and established the purple dye industry. Historian Will Durant argues that “The Phoenicians were nothing if not the Britons of antiquity…”

The German archeologist Heinrich Schliemann (1822-1890) stressed that the Phoenicians’ amber necklaces found in Tirynsian tombs were genuine and authentic amber of Baltic provenance.

Actually, many Baltic cities in Medieval period made their fortune trading amber that conferred initial magnetic shudder named “electrum”

3. The maritime periplus of Necho around the Cape of Good Hope

Pharaoh Necho II (610-595) dispatched a Phoenician expedition from the Red Sea, down the Indian Ocean, and around Africa continent, and back to Egypt through the Mediterranean Sea.

The sailors claimed they had the sun on their right side in one portion of the periplus instead of the left side.

(The southern stretch of Africa reaches below the Equator before the sun rises back to the left toward the Gulf of Guinea on the Atlantic Ocean).

They circumnavigated the African continent, thousand of years before the Portuguese and Spanish mariners

Victor Berard (1864-1931) argued that the “Odyssee” of Homer was based on a traditional Phoenician periplus

As the Chaldean reached the Americas from the East (through the Pacific Ocean), the Phoenician landed in South and North America westward through the Atlantic Ocean, thousands of years before the European colonialists.

The Phoenician reached Americas in two directions:

1. The distance from Cape Verde (west Africa) to the eastern tip of Brazil is much shorter from Tyr to the Straights of Gibraltar or from Carthage to Cameroon. The vessels floated adrift, taking advantage of trade winds blowing in an oblique direction around the tropic.

2. From Portugal to the Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf Stream drifted the vessels.

There are similarities in the customs, rituals and solar/cosmic cults… among the Phoenician and Aztecs, Mayas, and Incas civilizations

Traces of Phoenician 22 alphabetical letter characters were identified in Brazil, Mexico, Urugway, and the USA (the Susquehanna Stones…

The next posts will provide additional proofs from Venezuela, Brazil, Polynesia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Hawaii, Samoa and the Bering Strait

A few of the cities that the Phoenicians established along the eastern coastline of the Mediterranean Sea:

1. On current Syria: Ras Shamra, Gabala, Paltos, Balaneae, Antaradus, Aradus, Maratus..

2. On current Palestine coast: Ace, Ptolemais, Gaba, Dora, Paneas (Caesarea of Philippi)…,

3. Inland of Syria: Apamea

Note: Part 1




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