The days without reports of a terrorist attack, somewhere in the world, have become rare. And no, today is not one of them. Details are emerging this morning of three veiled women attacking a police station in the Kenyan city of Mombasa, reportedly wounding two officers before they were shot dead.
What stands out in particular in this report is the gender of the alleged terrorists. Other recent attacks in Kenya and Nigeria suggest that al-Shabaab (which is believed to be behind the events in Mombasa) and Boko Haram are increasingly using female jihadists, and sometimes even little girls, to carry out their terror agenda. Meanwhile, with information bringing the world ever closer, such scenarios appear to be inspiring others to do the same in faraway places. In Paris, for example, police are still investigating a group of ISIS-linked Islamist women who were planning a large-scale attack on the Notre-Dame cathedral.
This new tragic path toward a kind of jihad gender equality is a rather recent phenomenon. In a paper penned 10 years ago, Katharina Von Knop, a German professor of international politics, wrote that female suicide bombers â€œundermine the idea of who and what a terrorist is.â€ She argued that the role of women in jihad is, originally, that of â€œan ideological supporter and operational facilitator,â€ someone who can â€œcontinue to take care about the financial issues of the organization and continue to educate the children in the â€˜rightâ€™ belief,â€ should the husband die in an attack. But at a time when al-Qaeda dominated the Islamic terror terrain, Von Knop also foresaw the evolution of the female jihadist into a full warrior. This, she concluded, provides terror groups with â€œa tactical advantageâ€ given the â€œelement of surprise, hesitancy to search women, and the stereotype of females as being nonviolent,â€ not to mention the â€œmuch greater psychological impact.â€
The growing direct participation of women in terror operations not only raises the risk of more attacks, but also raises levels of suspicion towards Muslim women who have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism, including those dressed in traditional Islamic clothes. It is a reminder that recent debates in Europe over burqas and burkinis are no passing fashion.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY
- Syrian ceasefire comes into force (see below).
- 1.6 billion Muslims across the world celebrate Eid al-Adha, Islam's holiest festival.
DEADLY BATTLES AHEAD OF SYRIAN CEASEFIRE
At least 90 people were killed in airstrikes that hit rebel-controlled areas of Syria since the announcement of a U.S.-Russia ceasefire due to come into force today at sunset, CNN reports. In a letter addressed to Washington, rebel groups said they would â€œcooperate positivelyâ€ but expressed doubts concerning the other party, the Russian-backed Syrian government. The ceasefire, if successful, should also allow for the nationwide delivery of aid. After the seven-day truce, â€œU.S. and Russian experts will work together to defeat Daesh the Arab acronym for ISIS and Nusra,â€ John Kerry said as he announced the deal.
CLINTON CANCELS CALIFORNIA TRIP AFTER SICKNESS
Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has canceled a planned two-day trip to California after she cut short her participation at a 9/11 memorial ceremony yesterday in New York City. A video posted on Twitter shows her apparently unable to walk unaided and extremely unsteady as she headed to a car away from the memorial. Her doctor said in a statement â€œshe became overheated and dehydratedâ€ and had been diagnosed with pneumonia last Friday. For The Daily Telegraph, this could mark â€œa major turning pointâ€ as questions emerge over her health, and yesterdayâ€™s events will likely fuel Trump supportersâ€™ speculations.
â€" ON THIS DAY
76 years ago on this day, four teenagers stumbled upon something really awe-inspiring in southern France â€¦ That, and more, in your 57-second shot of history.
â€œWe wonder how their lives might have unfolded â€" how their dreams might have taken shape,â€ Barack Obama said about the â€œ3,000 beautiful livesâ€ in an address outside the Pentagon, as America marked 15 years since the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
MINOR ARRESTED IN FRENCH ANTI-TERROR PROBE
French police arrested a 15-year-old boy in Paris on Saturday, in connection with a female jihadist cell believed to have planned an attack on the Notre Dame cathedral, Le Figaro reports. In a Sunday interview with several French media outlets, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that terror plots were foiled â€œevery dayâ€ and that some 15,000 were being monitored for radicalization.
â€" EXTRA! CATALAN RALLY
Some 800,000 Catalans used Sunday's annual La Diada, national day in Catalonia, to renew demands for independence from Spain. See how Barcelona-based La Vanguardia featured the protest on its front page.
NORTH KOREA READY FOR 6TH NUCLEAR TEST ...
South Korean intelligence officials believe that North Korea is â€œfully readyâ€ to carry out a sixth nuclear test â€œon short notice,â€ Yonhap reports, just days after the country conducted its most powerful test yet. South Korea meanwhile unveiled plans to raze Pyongyang should signs emerge that a nuclear attack is imminent. Seoulâ€™s plans would leave Pyongyang â€œreduced to ashes and removed from the map,â€ a military source said.
â€¦ AS DEADLY FLOODS LEAVE TRAIL OF DESTRUCTION
At least 133 people were killed and 395 are missing, after whatâ€™s believed to be the worst downpour to hit North Korea in decades. The figures, released by the UN, also place at 107,000 the number of people displaced, with thousands of buildings destroyed.
Donald Trump shows disdains for both Latinos in his own country, as well as some basic tenets of international relations. For Colombian daily El Espectador, Eduardo Barajas Sandoval writes: â€œTrump's proposal for a wall, and that Mexico should pay for it, is simple enough to show he has but a vague idea of the scope and dimension of the two states' relations. Among other elements he seems oblivious to the tremendous progression of Latino culture across the U.S., with Mexicans leading the way in this cultural transformation of so many aspects of everyday life there. ...
Lost in the forest of his own rhetoric, Trump has said so many things that were later modified that many have even hoped he might substantially change his positions toward the Mexicans. This has not happened.â€
Read the full article, Latino Pride Is Bigger Than Any Wall Trump Can Build.
AUSTRIAN ELECTION RERUN COULD BE DELAYED
The rerun of Austriaâ€™s presidential faceoff between independent ecologist Alexander Van der Bellen and the far-right candidate Norbert Hofer is likely to be delayed until at least late November, due to faulty glue on postal vote envelopes, newspaper Die Presse reports. Austriaâ€™s highest court had imposed a rerun on Oct. 2 after irregularities regarding postal votes handed Van der Bellen a narrow victory.
â€" MY GRAND-PEREâ€™S WORLD
Ghost Town Grandeur â€" Mystras, 1961
You might have heard that a group of eight Chinese tourists in Israel recently had to pay an incredible $4,390 for humus. But it now appears they had a little more than just that.
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As Star Trek recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, IFLScience! website focused on some of the technologies depicted in the cult science fiction show to see how feasible they are. Beam us up, Scotty!
A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.
BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.
Incidents are piling up. Most recently, groups of neo-Nazis from across the country traveled to a church near Berlin for the funeral of a well-known far-right figure. He was buried in the former grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender, a gravesite chosen deliberately by the right-wing extremists.
The incident at the cemetery
They intentionally chose a Jewish grave as an act of provocation, trying to gain maximum publicity for this act of desecration. And the cemetery authorities at the graveyard in Stahnsdorf fell for it. The church issued an immediate apology, calling it a "terrible mistake" and saying they "must immediately see whether and what we can undo."
There are so many incidents that get little to no media attention.
It's unfathomable that this burial was allowed to take place at all, but now the cemetery authorities need to make a decision quickly about how to put things right. Otherwise, the grave may well become a pilgrimage site for Holocaust deniers and antisemites.
The incident has garnered attention in the international press and it will live long in the memory. Like the case of singer-songwriter Gil Ofarim, who recently claimed he was subjected to antisemitic abuse at a hotel in Leipzig. Details of the crime are still being investigated. But there are so many other incidents that get little to no media attention.
The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender
Crimes against Jews are rising
Across all parts of society, antisemitism is on the rise. Until a few years ago, Jewish life was seen as an accepted part of German society. Since the attack on the synagogue in Halle in 2019, the picture has changed: it was a bitter reminder that right-wing terror against Jewish people has a long, unbroken history in Germany.
Stories have abounded about the coronavirus crisis being a Jewish conspiracy; meanwhile, Muslim antisemitism is becoming louder and more forceful. The anti-Israel boycott movement BDS rears its head in every debate on antisemitism, just as left-wing or post-colonial thinking are part of every discussion.
Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.
Since 2015, the number of antisemitic crimes recorded has risen by about a third, to 2,350. But victims only report around 20% of cases. Some choose not to because they've had bad experiences with the police, others because they're afraid of the perpetrators, and still others because they just want to put it behind them. Victims clearly hold out little hope of useful reaction from the state – so crimes go unreported.
And the reality of Jewish life in Germany is a dark one. Sociologists say that Jewish children are living out their "identity under siege." What impact does it have on them when they can only go to nursery under police protection? Or when they hear Holocaust jokes at school?
Germany needs to take its antisemitism seriously
This shows that the country of commemorative services and "stumbling blocks" placed in sidewalks as a memorial to victims of the Nazis has lost its moral compass. To make it point true north again, antisemitism needs to be documented from the perspective of those affected, making it visible to the non-Jewish population. And Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.
That is the first thing. The second is that we need to talk about specifically German forms of antisemitism. For example, the fact that in no other EU country are Jewish people so often confronted about the Israeli government's policies (according to a survey, 41% of German Jews have experienced this, while the EU average is 28%). Projecting the old antisemitism onto the state of Israel offers people a more comfortable target for their arguments.
Our society needs to have more conversations about antisemitism. The test of German democracy, as McCloy called it, starts with taking these concerns seriously and talking about them. We need to have these conversations because it affects all of us. It's about saving our democracy. Before it's too late.
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