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Middle East

Hebdo vs Al Jazeera: A tale of two journalisms

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Press freedom has been under attack with the deaths in Paris of nine Charlie Hebdo employees, including editor Stephane Charbonnier, and the continued incarceration in Cairo of three Al Jazeera journalists. The circumstances of the victimization of the journalists are starkly different.

Charlie Hebdo has made defamation of the Prophet Muhammad its calling card in recent years. The magazine was unsuccessfully sued in 2006 by Islamic organizations for publishing the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons. The cover of a 2011 issue, dubbed “Charia Hebdo” (a pun on Sharia law), depicted a cartoon of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The newspaper’s office was fire-bombed and its website hacked. Editor Charbonnier stated at the time, “We have to carry on until Islam has been rendered as banal as Catholicism.” In 2012, the newspaper published a series of satirical cartoons of Muhammad, including nude caricatures.

The journalists probably were just hoping to create another sensation, ‘go viral’, and boost sales. Anything goes in the ‘free press’ of the West, so no fears about prosecution.

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Interview on No Lies Radio: IS and the Pope

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The Pope's call for negotiations with IS recognizes the bankruptcy of US policy.

http://noliesradio.org/archives/92284
password: beheadings

Coming to terms with IS’s ‘new world order’

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Summary: Just as communism arose out of the contradictions of imperialism a century ago, Islamic revolution is the inevitable result of today’s version of imperialism. IS may be harsh and uncompromising, but it should be treated with respect, not vilified. The caliphate project, implementing sharia, the determination to overthrow the Saudi monarchy, the rejection of fiat money--these are legitimate goals and deserve serious analysis. 

IS continues to confound. Not only negatively for its restrictions on women and its grim revolutionary justice, but because on many fronts, it is spot on.

*It has put the caliphate project back on track after almost a century of Muslim humiliation

*It has made sharia (at least its version) the basis of its social order

*It has (correctly) targeted Saudi Arabia as the font of corruption and decadence, the Muslim world’s ‘enemy at home’

*It is set to become the only ‘state’ to back its currency with gold coinage. ISIS says the new currency will take the group out of “the oppressors’ money system”, and return control over the money supply from bankers to the state.

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IS and the IDF: Canada’s double standard

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Why can westerners join the IDF while westerners joining IS are despised and killed? In what sense is the IDF scenario any less reprehensible than the IS one?

In recent weeks there has been a spate of articles about western youth flocking to Syria and now Iraq to join the IS “caliphate”. An estimated 11,000 such fighters have already made the leap. Up to 130 Canadians have joined them, including Hamiltonian York University student, Mohamud Mohamed Mohamud, a Somalian Canadian, known to his friends and family as sociable and well-adjusted, wearing the latest fashions, listening to pop music and watching teen movies like all the rest of Canada’s multicultural happy family.

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New Horizon Conference: Meeting of minds in Tehran

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The 2nd conference “New Horizon: the International Conference of Independent Thinkers” was held in Tehran, September 29–October 1 2014, including over 30 journalists, writers and academics from around the world presenting papers and arguing issues of world geopolitics, with a focus on the Middle East. I represented Canada, along with University of Lethbridge Globalization Studies Professor Anthony Hall, author of Earth into Property: Colonization, Decolonization, and Capitalism (2010). It was greeted in western media by hysterical denunciations, in the first place by the American Jewish Committee which accused it of “promoting hatred of Jews and Israel” and the Anti-Defamation League which accused it of “promoting anti-Semitic propaganda”.

The conference almost didn’t take place at all, having been officially cancelled, supposedly as a gesture to the West, after the new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was elected last year. But after a flood of criticism at Iranian websites sympathetic to the organizers, the Iranian Foreign Ministry reversed itself. Nader Talebzadeh, the principle organizer, had had to lobby hard to reinstate the conference, calling the cancellation of the conference “a major mistake on the part of our government”. “Have our leaders given in so much to the world that they are even afraid of a conference that might hurt Mr Obama’s feelings?” asked one blogger sarcastically.

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Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.

He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.

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Eric's latest book The Canada Israel Nexus is available here http://www.claritypress.com/WalbergIV.html