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


*The administrators of the Syrian Revolution Facebook group are calling for a general strike on Wednesday: "Mass protests, no school, no universities, no stores or restaurants open and no taxis." The call comes as the Syrian military continues a brutal crackdown on the village of Tal Kalakh near the Lebanese border, with reports of dead bodies and wounded left in the streets.

*The state media, meanwhile, is weaving a different narrative entirely. The state-run Al-Baath daily notes on its front page that a meeting between Syrian President Bashar Assad and residents of Daraa addressed "recent events in Daraa and the current positive atmosphere there, the result of cooperation between residents and the military." The report also touted "reforms underway across the country."

*The official news agency, SANA, ran an identical report. "The members of the Daraa delegation expressed their appreciation for the sacrifices the army has made," SANA reported, adding that the residents asked the president to keep the military in Daraa "to pursue the insurgents." The meeting is "part of a series of ongoing meetings between the president and activists around the country."

*Protests are continuing, with women from the town of Darya outside Damascus calling on others to come out to the streets. "Women of Darya: Show the men who you are" reads the street-wide banner carried through the town by several women.

cartoon posted on the "We are all Khalid Said" Facebook group shows a man wearing the Egyptian flag as a cape struggling to push the country up a mountain. His feet are chained to smaller rocks which read, "internal strife," "foreign powers' and "the regime." The caption reads: "Egypt needs us."

*A 27-minute Al Jazeera documentary explores the class and cultural differences of residents of the Jordanian capital's poorer east and affluent west neighborhoods. The opening scenes show children in the east climbing through rock piles to get to their modest homes, with their father telling the interviewer that the books the children use are old and outdated. This is contrasted with shots of luxury cars picking up children from West Amman's private "Modern American school."

May 17, 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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