Geopolitics

After Seven Years In Coma, Ariel Sharon Shows "Degree Of Consciousness"

REUTERS,

BEERSHEBA - Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who has been in a coma for seven years, has surprised doctors by showing brain activity and a "certain degree of consciousness" for the first time since his debilitating stroke.

The extent of the 84-year-old's response is still limited as he cannot move any muscle, though he had his eyes open during a visual exam using family pictures. The equipment also detected signs of his brain responding to his son Gilad’s voice, Reuters reported.

Sharon had displayed no sign of brain activity since his Jan 2006 stroke that upended Israeli politics in the midst of an election campaign, after the former hawkish general had vowed to begin pulling Israel out of the West Bank.

Alon Friedman, neurological director at Israel’s Soroka Medical center in Beersheba stated that the exams, which began Thursday, were “encouraging,” but added that “the chances of him getting out of bed are very, very slim,” reported Reuters.

Haaretz noted that the doctors hope that the extensive monitoring of Sharon can be used in research on the different degrees of consciousness of those in long-term vegetative states.

Ariel Sharon in 2004, Wikipedia

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Society

Dutch Cities Have Been Secretly Probing Mosques Since 2013

Revelations of a nationally funded clandestine operation within 10 municipalities in the Netherlands to keep tabs on mosques and Muslim organizations after a rise in radicalization eight years ago.

The Nasser mosque in Veenendaal, one of the mosques reportedly surveilled

Meike Eijsberg

At least ten Dutch towns and cities have secretly used a private agency to probe mosques and other local religious organizations, Amsterdam-based daily het NRC reports in an exclusive investigation.

The clandestine operation — funded by NCTV, the National Security Services, the Netherlands' leading counter-terrorism agency — was prompted by the social unrest and uncertainty following multiple terror attacks in 2013, and a rise in Islamic radicalization.


The NCTV, which advises and financially supports municipalities in countering radicalization, put the municipalities in touch with Nuance by Training and Advice (Nuance door Trainingen en Advies, NTA), a private research agency based in Deventer, Netherlands. Among the institutions targeted by the investigations, which came at a cost of circa 500,000 euros, were the Al Mouahidin mosque in the central Dutch town of Ede, and the Nasser mosque east of the city of Utrecht, according to NRC.

Photo of people standing on prayer mats inside a Dutch mosque

Praying inside a Dutch mosque.

Hollandse-Hoogte/ZUMA

Broken trust in Islamic community

Unlike public officials, the private agency can enter the mosques to clandestinely research the situation. In this case, the agents observed activity, talk to visitors, administrators, and religious leaders, and investigated what they do and say on social media.

All findings then wound up in a secret report which includes personal details about what the administrators and teachers studied, who their relatives are, with whom they argued, and how often they had contact with authorities in foreign countries, like Morocco.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed.

It is unclear whether the practice is legal, which is why several members of the Dutch Parliament are now demanding clarification from the outgoing Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus, who is said to be involved.

"The ease with which the government violates (fundamental) rights when it comes to Islam or Muslims is shocking," Stephan van Baarle, member of the leftist party DENK, told De Volkskrant, another Dutch newspaper.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed. Hassan Saidi, director of one of the mosques investigated, said that the relationship with the local municipality had been good. "This puts a huge dent in the trust I'd had in the municipality," he told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.

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