ARABICA - A Daily Shot Of What the Arab World is Saying/Hearing/Sharing

ARABICA - A Daily Shot Of What the Arab World is Saying/Hearing/Sharing
Kristen Gillespie


A Turkish grassroots campaign to "welcome our Syrian brothers to our country" is organizing a caravan to transport citizens from Istanbul on July 16th to the Turkish-Syrian border where refugees are staying. Calling the effort "For Syria – we will go to the limit" (the Arabic word for limit also means border, creating a play on words), organizers write it will be "a day to support Syrian refugees in Turkey. Your brothers are there and they need your help." The convoy leaves on the 15th from Istanbul and arrives at the refugee camps along the border the next day.

The Syrian Revolution Facebook group is calling for a nationwide strike on Thursday. The group's home page features a "Closed" sign used on shop doors, with the additional words: "Until the regime falls."

Bahrain's largest opposition bloc walked out on reconciliation talks with the government, saying it is not serious about political reform. The Al-Wefaq opposition is demanding a parliamentary-majority model, which would threaten the ruling Al Khalifa family's monopoly on power. One of the main demands of opposition activists across the political spectrum is justice for the thousands of protesters who were rounded up and allegedly tortured. That pressure led King Hamad to order an inquiry into incidents during a wave of protests that rocked the island kingdom earlier this year. But activists are far from satisfied, with Mohammed al-Maskati tweeting the names of alleged torturers. "One of those who was arrested told me the tortures were: Issa al-Majali, a Jordanian, Khalid, a Pakistani, Ali Zaid and Mubarak bin Hwail." Adjusted for population size, more Bahraini protesters were killed than those killed in Syria.

Large-scale protests continue in cities across Egypt demanding the removal of the ruling military council, the prosecution of officers who killed protesters and a faster pace of reforms. But at the same time, the Grand Imam of Egypt's renowned Islamic university, Al-Azhar, says that "absolute freedom is a chaos that threatens society." Ahmad al-Tayib said that "as Arab and Islamic peoples, our values and traditions are not compatible with democracy" and that "religion is what leads man to goodness."

July 14, 2011

photo credit: illustir

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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.


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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