Archive for September, 2017

Austria moves to ban the burqa

(AFP) New restrictions come into force in Austria on Sunday banning the wearing of the full Islamic veil and other items concealing the face in public places and buildings.

Exemptions “under certain conditions” include items like clown disguises “at cultural events”, work wear such as medical masks, and scarves in cold weather, the government says.

The restrictions are aimed at “ensuring the cohesion of society in an open society”, it says. Violations will be punished with a fine of up to 150 euros ($177).

“Acceptance and respect of Austrian values are basic conditions for successful cohabitation between the majority Austrian population and people from third countries living in Austria,” Vienna says.

The measures, similar to those in other European Union countries, also apply to visitors even though large numbers of Arab tourists holiday in the Alpine country.

The legislation was brought in by the outgoing centrist government of Chancellor Christian Kern.

Elections on October 15 are expected to see the anti-immigration Freedom Party (FPOe) come second or third and potentially enter a coalition with Sebastian Kurz of the center-right.

Kurz, who is only 31, has managed to steal considerable numbers of voters from the FPOe, polls show, experts say in part due to him moving to the right on issues such as immigration.

“The immigration seen in recent years is changing out country not in a positive but in a negative way,” Kurz told German television in an interview broadcast this week.

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China orders Muslim families in Xinjiang to hand over Qurans, prayer mats

(BREITBART) — by Frances Martel

Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported this week that some Uighur Muslims in China’s westernmost province of Xinjiang have accused the police of confiscating their Qurans, claiming the seminal Islamic text contains “extremist content.”

Xinjiang is home to a Uighur Muslim separatist movement and the Chinese government has previously claimed citizens from Xinjiang have left to the Middle East to join the Islamic State. In response, the Communist Party has cracked down significantly on public displays of faith, including publicly fasting during Ramadan or wearing Islamic garb on public transportation.

Radio Free Asia cites Dilxat Raxit, World Uyghur Congress spokesman, as having seen orders from police on the social media platform WeChat ordering families to hand over their Qurans and prayer mats, among other religious paraphernalia.

“All Qurans and related items must be handed into the authorities, and there are notices to this effect being broadcast via WeChat,” Raxit told the outlet. “We received a notification saying that every single ethnic Uyghur must hand in any Islam-related items from their own home, including Qurans, prayers and anything else bearing the symbols of religion … They have to be handed in voluntarily. If they aren’t handed in, and they are found, then there will be harsh punishments.”

RFA adds that sources on the ground have seen instances of confiscations involving non-Uighur Muslims in the region as well, such as Kazakh and Kyrgyz Muslims. “Officials at village, township and county level are confiscating all Qurans and the special mats used for namaaz[prayer],” a Kazakh source told the outlet.

RFA adds that officials in the region began confiscation Qurans this year, citing their “extremist content,” but had only extended the ban to Qurans published more than five years ago, attempting to replace them with government-approved copies.

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Swiss Parliament votes to ban foreign-funded mosques and Arabic preaching

(BREITBART) — by Liam Deacon

Switzerland’s legislature has voted to ban the foreign funding of mosques, including from Saudi Arabia, as well as to force mosques to use local languages instead of Arabic or other foreign tongues.

The Swiss National Council, the parliament’s lower house, voted by a narrow majority to ban the financing of mosques from abroad and for generally increasing the transparency of how mosques are funded.

If the law passes the Senate, individual mosques will need to declare who they are backed by as well as preach in one of Switzerland’s official languages, namely German, French, Italian, or Romansch, Neue Zuercher Zeitung reports.

The vote took place on Tuesday, and according to the Federal Assembly’s website, 94 members of the parliament voted in favor, and 89 voted against.

The new law is said to be inspired by a similar law enacted in Austria in 2015, which was designed to encourage a distinctly “European Islam” and to deter radicalization and foreign influence on the nation’s Muslims.

The legislation is not backed by the federal government, however, which claims it unfairly discriminates against Muslims by placing them under suspicion and fuels extremism.

They also oppose making mosques use local languages, insisting that it is an issue of freedom of language.

Last year, the federal government managed to block a law voted for by the Council, proposing the banning of the full-face Islamic face veil.

However, a ban on Islamic minarets was voted for in a referendum in 2009 and was approved by nearly 58 per cent of the population.

Saudi Arabia is well known for funding the spread of its radical, Wahhabist interpretation of Islam in Europe, including financing the construction of Finsbury Park Mosque in London. The mosque was notorious for its links to hate preacher Abu Hamza, shoe-bomber Richard Reid, and 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui before it was reformed and reopened in 2005.

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FBI director: Terrorist drones ‘coming here imminently’

(THE DAILY CALLER) — By Chuck Ross

FBI Director Christopher Wray warned Congress on Wednesday that terrorist groups are looking to use drones to wage attacks in the U.S.

“I think we do know that terrorist organizations have an interest in using drones,” Wray testified in a hearing for the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.

“We’ve seen that overseas already with growing frequency. I think the expectation is that it’s coming here imminently. I think they are relatively easy to acquire, relatively easy to operate, and quite difficult to disrupt and monitor,” Wray added.

Nicholas Rasmussen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center echoed Wray’s concerns.

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“Two years ago this was not a problem. A year ago it was an emerging problem. Now it’s a real problem. So we’re quickly trying to up our game,” Rasmussen testified during the hearing.

He said that counterterrorism agencies have ramped up efforts to bring together intelligence professionals to help understand the tactics and techniques that drone-using terrorist groups might employ.

“That could be dropping small explosives the size of a grenade. It could be dispersal of toxins, potentially,” Rasmussen said.

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A million Christians to pray rosary on Poland’s border commemorating historical defeat of Islam

(BREITBART) — By Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D.

Poland’s bishops have urged the nation’s Catholics to join a massive rosary prayer crusade along the country’s 2,000-mile border to pray for the salvation of their country.

Organizers say they expect up to a million people to participate in the “Rosary on the Borders” event on October 7, the anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto, where “the Christian fleet overcame the Muslim armada, saving Europe from Islamization.”

The Catholic Feast of the Holy Rosary was established by Pope Pius V in 1571 as “Our Lady of Victory” after the so-called Holy League won a landmark victory over the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Lepanto.

On October 7th, 1571, a fleet of ships assembled by a coalition of Christian nations fought an intense battle against the forces of the invading Ottoman Empire. The unexpected victory of the so-called “Holy League” radically curbed efforts by the Ottoman Turks to control the Mediterranean, “causing a seismic shift in international relations from East to West.” As Fr. Steve Grunow, CEO of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, has written, “the world that we know came into being with this victory.”

In preparation for this decisive encounter, Pope Pius V ordered the churches of Rome opened for prayer day and night, and urged the faithful to invoke the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary through the prayer of the Rosary. On hearing of the Christian victory, the Pope established a new feast day in the Roman Liturgical Calendar, which would come to be known as the feast of the Holy Rosary.

“We believe that if the rosary is prayed by about a million Poles along the borders of the country, it may not only change the course of events, but open hearts of our compatriots to the grace of God,” the organizers say on their website.

“The powerful prayer of the Rosary can affect the fate of Poland, Europe, and even the whole world,” it reads.

The “Rosary on the Borders” event will also mark the end of the Fatima centenary, celebrating 100 years since the apparitions of the Virgin Mary to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal, in the spring of 1917.

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Saudi textbooks ‘teaching hatred’ of Jews and other faiths

(JERUSALEM POST) — Saudi Arabian secondary school pupils are taught that the day of resurrection will not come until Muslims kill Jews, Human Rights Watch found during a recent review of textbooks that also revealed hateful and disparaging references to Christians, Shi’ites and Sufism.

“As early as first grade, students in Saudi schools are being taught hatred toward all those perceived to be of a different faith or school of thought. The lessons in hate are reinforced with each following year,” Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director for Human Rights Watch, said in a press release last week. The New York-based group reviewed 45 Saudi textbooks and student work books produced by the Education Ministry for the primary, middle and secondary education levels.

As part of the curriculum on tawhid, or monotheism, a textbook explains one of the markers by which one can recognize the approach of the Day of Resurrection with the following passage: “The hour will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews and Muslims will kill the Jews. The Jew will hide under the rock and tree and the rock or tree will say O Muslim, servant of Allah, this Jew is behind me, kill him.”

The passage is from a hadith, or saying, attributed to Muhammad.

Moderate Palestinian Islamic thinker Mohammed S. Dajani Daoudi described the hadith as a “fabrication,” and condemned Saudi Arabia for teaching it. “The prophet couldn’t have said that and it contradicts the text of the Koran. The prophet said anything attributed to me not in harmony with the Koran is not true. This can’t be true because it totally contradicts the text of the Koran. Teaching this to children is incitement and antisemitic. Saudi Arabia and any other Arab countries teaching such nonsense should stop and this should be eliminated from the educational systems.”

Human Rights Watch noted that the Saudi curriculum describes Jews, Christians and people of other faiths as kuffar, or unbelievers. In one fifth-grade textbook, the curriculum calls Jews, Christians and al-wathaniyeeen [pagans] the “original unbelievers” and declares that it is the duty of Muslims to excommunicate them. It says: “For whoever does not [excommunicate them] or whoever doubts their religious infidelity is himself an unbeliever.”

The vitriol also extends to fellow Muslims. Human Rights Watch found that a secondary school textbook describes Sufism as “a perverse path that began with the claim of asceticism or severe self-discipline, then entered into illicit innovation, misguidedness and exaggeration in reverence to the righteous.” Other books condemned Sufi and Shi’ite practices of visiting graves of prominent religious figures, saying this will lead to eternal damnation and that those who turn such tombs into worship sites are “evil natured.”

A fifth-grade book condemns Sufis for celebrating the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday. “Celebrating the prophet’s birth in the spring of every year is prohibited, for it is a new innovation and is in imitation of the Christian celebration of what is known as the birth of Christ.”

Human Rights Watch said that after the September 11, 2001, attacks, in which 15 of the 19 perpetrators were Saudi citizens, Saudi officials said they would carry out educational reforms. But the textbook review shows they did not keep their promises, the NGO said.

“The Saudi government’s official denigration of other religious groups, combined with its ban on public practice of other religions, could amount to incitement to hatred or discrimination,” HRW said. It added that international human rights law requires countries to prohibit “any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.”

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Denmark: Thousands of cases of “low-tech jihad” — Worst situation since WWII

(THE NEW AMERICAN) — By Selwyn Duke

In Denmark, once one of the world’s safest countries, the army now has been deployed domestically. It’s part of an effort to combat “low-tech jihad,” thousands of “incidents involving loosened wheel bolts on cars, large rocks or cinder blocks thrown from highway overpasses, and thin steel wires strung across bicycle paths meant to decapitate unsuspecting cyclists, reports Dr. Nicolai Sennels, a Danish psychologist and writer.

Moreover, despite Denmark’s ultra-strict gun-control laws, gangs of immigrants from the MENAP countries (Middle East, North Africa, and Pakistan) are randomly shooting people in the capital city of Copenhagen, Sennels further informs.

Sennels, who spent years working with Muslim youth in prison, claims that his nation itself is beginning to resemble a prison, with the rule of law breaking down and migrant gangs controlling some streets.

For example, after citing the shootings of three young men used for, as he puts it, “target practice,” Sennels reports that police warned 17- to 25-year-old men to avoid public spaces in Copenhagen. He quotes Preben Bang Henriksen, spokesman for Denmark’s majority government party, as being horrified and stating, “We have not had such warnings from the police since the 2nd World War. It is totally unacceptable.”

But wholly predictable, many would say. In Western Europe, crime has exploded and terrorism become frequent as the Mideast migrant population has risen, prompting nations such as Hungary and Poland to take a hard line against Muslim migration. Even liberal Denmark is waking up to, and warning of, the gathering storm. As 10 News wrote in July:

Danish police warn that the excessively liberal refugee policies of Germany and Sweden endanger lives in neighboring countries.

Intelligence services in Europe and the US have long warned that Islamic jihadis are among refugees coming to the West. Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) is now criticizing Merkel’s and Sweden’s refugee policies, with direct warnings that they destabilize security in the region.

They have reason to worry, too, as these migrants cannot be reliably vetted. After all, Third World countries such as war-torn Syria, Afghanistan, and Sudan simply don’t have comprehensive Western-style databases providing accurate information on citizens. Yet it wouldn’t matter if they did because in places such as Syria, you can pay a bribe and get official government documents saying you’re whoever you want to be.

Thus, it’s no surprise that an intelligence warning last year indicated that Islamic State hit squads were hiding among migrants in Germany.

In a similar vein, self-described orthodox Muslim Dr. Mudar Zahran, a Jordanian Palestinian academic and political leader currently living in the United Kingdom, warned in a 2015 interview that many of the migrants are not Syrian, but claim to be so, to get refugee status. Moreover, he avers that 75 percent of the Syrians come from safe areas and that the imperiled Syrians cannot even get out of the country. In other words, Zahran stated, most of the migrants are unknown quantities entering the West for economic reasons — or something darker.

As to the latter, Zahran said at the time, “I can authoritively [sic] confirm — I have photos, I have images, I have pictures, I have names of terrorists who actually are already in Europe posting their photos in Europe on Facebook.” He also warned about the migration that if “you read Arab magazines and Arab newspapers, they are talking about, ‘Good job! Now we’re going to conquest [sic] Europe.’ So it’s not even a secret.” Zahran called this “the soft Islamic conquest of the West.”

As for Sennels, he delves into these problems’ root causes. Apparently drawing upon his experiences working with Muslim teens, he writes that we “must not underestimate how strongly the Qur’an’s message of holy war affects Muslim youth.”

Yet it’s not just the Koran. As I reported in February, “The Islamic canon — the Koran, Hadith, and Sira — has literally 9.6 times as many words devoted to political violence as does the Old Testament: 327,547 vs. 34,039. (The New Testament has zero.)” Moreover, these violent injunctions aren’t limited but apply in every time and place.

Sennels explained the result, writing,

80 percent of young Turks in Holland see “nothing wrong” in jihad against non-Muslims. The very high number must be seen in the light of the fact that Turks are considered to be among the more Western Muslims. 27 percent of all young French and 14 percent of all young brits [sic] under 25 sympathize with the jihad movement Islamic State. This probably includes a very large majority of young Muslims in the two countries. The figures closely match that 75 percent of Muslims in Europe believe that the Quran — a book that hundreds of places preaches violence against non-Muslims — must be literally interpreted.

The above helps to explain a comprehensive German study of 45,000 youths that was reported in 2010. It found that while increasing religiosity among Christian youths made them less violent, increasing religiosity among Muslim youths actually made them more violent.

What seems certain is that Denmark, and the rest of Europe, are also getting more violent. But, hey, having the violent, and not just the non-violent, increases diversity, too.[READ MORE]

London attack: Parsons Green bomb contained ‘mother of Satan’ explosive used in Manchester bombing

(UK INDEPENDENT) — The bomb that failed to detonate on a London Underground train contained the same powerful explosive used in the 7/7 attacks and deadly bombings across Europe, it has emerged.

Ben Wallace, the security minister, confirmed the homemade device contained triacetone triperoxide (TATP), known as the “mother of Satan”.

The moniker is earned by the instability of the explosive, which can be ignited by heat, friction, static or even movement, causing the deaths of several would-be bombers.

“The [Parsons Green bomb] used the type of explosive similar to that used in Manchester [but] it didn’t go off,” Mr Wallace told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“We are trying to track down who did it, whether it’s a bomber or bombers…there’s potentially a very dangerous individual or individuals out there and we need to track them down.”

Salman Abedi, the Manchester Arena bomber, built his device using TATP and nails, while the explosive has been found mid-production in several plots across Europe.

TATP, which can be made in under a day using chemicals widely available on the high street, has become a hallmark of Isis attacks including those in Paris and Brussels.

The group claimed responsibility for attempted bombing in Parsons Green with a statement saying it was carried out by “soldiers of the caliphate”.

Mr Wallace said work was ongoing to prevent people buying the necessary ingredients and accessing bomb-making manuals distributed by terrorist groups online.

The Terrorism Referral Unit has taken down more than 250,000 pieces of extremist information down, he said, adding: “There is definitely more to be done.

“We take a lot down but sometimes these things reappear and we go at them again.”

The failed bomb may look crude but don’t write it off as amateur

The Independent was able to access the bomb-making manual believed to have been used for the device in Parsons Green – as well as the Boston bombings and other massacres – in under five minutes on Saturday morning.

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Parsons Green: Homemade bomb ‘could have killed everyone in the carriage’

(UK INDEPENDENT) — The homemade bomb that failed to fully explode on the London Underground had the potential to kill everyone traveling in the packed carriage, experts have said, as police continue to hunt those responsible.

An 18-year-old man has been arrested in Dover and armed police were searching a home linked to the unnamed suspect in Surrey.

Investigators described the arrest as “very significant” but did not give any further information on the man’s identity or alleged role, having previously suggested investigators were hunting multiple suspects.

Police said the man was detained in the departure area of Dover’s port, prompting concern terrorists behind the attack in Parsons Green could be attempting to flee the UK.

While authorities have released few details about the suspect, a witness who saw the arrest in Dover said the man did not appear to be English. “He was white, not Arabic, but he wasn’t English,” Daniel Vaselicu, who was waiting in the ferry terminal, said.

The Met’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said detectives investigating the bombing were “keeping an open mind” about whether more plotters were involved, and the terror threat would remain at its highest level.

His comments came as it emerged the Surrey property raided by police was owned by a couple who had fostered dozens of children, and who were honored by the Queen in 2009.

Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, said Saturday’s arrest was “very significant” after hosting a second meeting of the Cobra emergency committee.

“Police have made good progress,” she added. “There is no doubt that this was a serious IED and it was good fortune it did so little damage, although we are of course sympathetic to the people affected by it.

“We will have to make sure we take all the steps we can to ensure that the materials this man was able to collect become more and more difficult to combine together.”

Ms Rudd said 26 people were injured by what witnesses described as a “fireball” that erupted from the device, with other victims wounded in the ensuing stampede at Parsons Green.

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Reporting on the Rohingya: “The tip of a huge iceberg of misinformation”

(NEW ENGLISH REVIEW) — by Hugh Fitzgerald

Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of Myanmar, is now all over the news, being taken to task for “not speaking out” against the mistreatment of the Rohingya, the Muslim minority in Myanmar, almost all of whom live in the western Rakhine State of Myanmar. 365,000 people have signed a petition demanding she be stripped of her Nobel Prize for not speaking out and denouncing the Buddhists of Myanmar; in Pakistan, a country renowned for its humane treatment of minorities, her photograph has been publicly burned; Al Jazeera has denounced her, and so has that champion of justice Tariq Ramadan.

In the last month, the world media reports, 250,000 Rohingya have now fled the latest cycle of violence, that began with Rohingya attacks on the military in mid-August, for Bangladesh. In fact, Aung San Suu Kyi has spoken out, but not in the way that many expected. They wanted her to categorically denounce the Burmese military and to depict the Rohingya as entirely innocent victims of Buddhist attacks; this she has refused to do. She believes the story of the Rohingyas in Myanmar is more complicated than the outside world believes. She has noted that “fake news” about atrocities in Myanmar have been relied on by much of the world’s media. More than a few of the stories about the Rohingya have indeed been accompanied by photos purportedly showing the violence against them, but which, in fact, have turned out to be photos of other atrocities experienced by other peoples, having nothing to do with Myanmar. Even the BBC’s south-east Asia correspondent, Jonathan Head, concedes that “much of it [the photos, and the coverage] is wrong.” A closer look reveals that many of the pictures supposedly from Myanmar have come from other crises around the world, with one of those tweeted by Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek even dating back to the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

Jonathan Head discusses at the BBC website four of the most widely-circulated photographs, ostensibly showing Rohingya victims of current Buddhist violence, that are examples of “fake news.” The first photograph, showing a number of bloated corpses, “does appear on several websites dated last year. This suggests the image is not from the recent violence in Rakhine state.’’ “Suggests” is British understatement for “clearly shows.”

The BBC has ascertained that the second photograph, of a woman mourning a dead man tied to a tree, was taken in Aceh, Indonesia, in June 2003, by a photographer working for Reuters.

The third photograph, of two infants crying over the body of their mother, is from Rwanda in July 1994. It was taken by Albert Facelly for Sipa, and was one of series of photos that won a World Press Award.

It has also been difficult to track down the fourth image, of people immersed in a canal, but it can be found on a website appealing for funds to help victims of recent flooding in Nepal.

In other words, not one of the four photographs widely distributed as examples of Rohingya suffering has anything to do with the Rohingyas. This is what the BBC’s south-east Asia correspondent has confirmed. Surely that ought to be made widely known, and just as surely, it won’t.

This “fake news” is, according to Aung San Suu Kyi, “simply the tip of a huge iceberg of misinformation calculated to create a lot of problems between different communities and with the aim of promoting the interest of the terrorists.”

Let’s refresh our memories of what has been going on in Myanmar this last month. All the news reports coming from Myanmar (Burma) tell the same story: tens of thousands of the Rohingya, a Muslim minority, have been fleeing into Bangladesh, to avoid the sudden upsurge in violence from both Burmese military and civilians. The Rohingya are presented as the innocent and long-suffering victims of “racist” Burmese Buddhists (Islam being, for propaganda purposes, a “race”). Only a handful of the reports mention, and only briefly, as if in passing, that the current violence began when, in mid-August, Rohingya fighters attacked 30 different police stations and an army base, as part of their campaign to stake their claim to Rakhine State, in western Myanmar, and showing themselves able “to strike terror in the hearts” of the Infidels to get it. The attacks left more than 70 dead, Muslims and Buddhists.

The Rohingyas unleashed still other attacks, and the Burmese army then retaliated, and the Rohingya continued to strike back during the last two weeks in August, and then there was more retaliation from the Buddhists. Many Rohingya have fled the retaliatory violence — a violence which they began — for Bangladesh, but it is their flight, and that retaliation by the Buddhists, which is getting almost all of the attention in the Western press, complete with photographs of victims of other conflicts who are presented as Rohingya (the “fake news” of which Aung San Suu Kyi complained), rather than what prompted it.

Seldom mentioned is that the August attack by the Rohingyas was preceded by a similar attack, last October, by the Rohingyas on the Burmese (Buddhist) police, and again, it was not their initial attack, but almost exclusively the retaliation by the Buddhist army, that was the focus of reports in the foreign press last fall. Reports of Rohingya villages being burnt down are reported uncritically. The Myanmar authorities have claimed that Islamic militants, having infiltrated Rohingya communities, have themselves been setting fire to houses in Muslim villages in order to get the world even more on their side. Instead of assuming these claims must be false, why not investigate them?

According to most of the world’s media, an unfathomable tragedy has been unfolding in Myanmar. The Buddhist majority, inflamed by rabble-rousing anti-Muslim monks, has been persecuting, killing, even massacring, members of the entirely inoffensive Muslim Rohingya minority in the western state of Rakhine (formerly, and in some places still, known as “Arakan”). An example of this hysterical coverage can be found in a report from, unsurprisingly, the pro-Muslim Guardian. It describes a sinister senior monk, Shin Parathu, who is repeatedly accused by the Guardian of “stoking religious hatred across Burma. His paranoia and fear, muddled with racist stereotypes and unfounded rumors, have helped to incite violence and spread disinformation.” One might note that no examples of these “racist stereotypes” are ever given. Could it be that the “stereotype” that this monk is accused of spreading has to do with depicting Muslims as intent on Jihad in the path of Allah, unwilling and even unable to integrate into a Buddhist society, and with a history, going back to 1942, of violence against Buddhists, that is the Rakhine people of Arakan State, and even attempting to join part of East Pakistan, and through the late 1950s, and in the 1970s, and again in the 1990s, conducting a low-level insurrection against the Burmese state — all of which is true?

And while the Guardian insists that the Rohingya are never the instigators of violence, the policemen they attacked without warning and nine of whom they murdered last October, and the people they killed in 31 coordinated attacks in mid-August, and those Buddhists they have killed since, might beg to differ. The Western press remains resolutely unsympathetic to the Buddhists of Myanmar, unwilling to find out why those Buddhists might have reason to be alarmed.

The Western media have uncritically repeated the Rohingya claim that they have inhabited Arakan for many centuries or “since time immemorial.” Others beg to differ, among them a well-known historian, and author of many works on Burma, Professor Andrew Selth of Griffith University in Australia. He has stated categorically that the name “Rohingya” was taken by “Bengali Muslims who live in Arakan State…most Rohingyas arrived with the British colonialists in the 19th and 20th centuries.” It is true that a handful of Bengali Muslims drifted down to Burma over the centuries, but Professor Selth makes the important point — unknown to Western reporters — that the vast majority of Rohingyas are recent arrivals, their great migration made possible by the fact that Burma was administratively part of British India until 1937, which meant there was no formal border to cross.

Particularly disappointing for many in the West (not to speak of the reactions of Pakistan, Al Jazeera, and Tariq Ramadan) has been what they regard as the unforgivable silence of Aung San Suu Kyi, currently the head of the Myanmar government. For Aung San Suu Kyi was formerly the leader of the nonviolent opposition to the Burmese military, placed under house arrest by the generals, then freed, and awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. For more than two decades she was, for her continued defiance of the generals, and willingness to endure that house arrest, a darling of the international media. Since the end of military rule, which she helped to bring about, she has held a number of important government posts, and is now the State Counselor (equivalent to Prime Minister) in Myanmar.

But in her continuing refusal to condemn outright the attacks on the Rohingya, and in her insistence that in Myanmar there has been “violence on both sides” — for which there is ample evidence — Aung San Suu Kyi is now seen by many outside Myanmar in quite another light. Many have criticized Aung San Suu Kyi for her silence on the 2012 Rakhine State riots, when, after the rape and killing of a Buddhist woman by three Rohingyas, Buddhists retaliated, and then the violence escalated when hundreds of Rohingyas went on a rampage following Friday prayers at a mosque, throwing rocks and setting fire to houses and buildings. Four Buddhists, among them a doctor and an elderly man, died of multiple knife wounds. Recent accounts in the foreign media ignore all that. For the Western media, the narrative remains the same; the Rohingya are always the victims, and the Buddhist violence against them is always unwarranted.

The outside world deplores Aung San Suu Kyi’s refusal to condemn the Buddhists and what they see as her general indifference to the ongoing mistreatment of the Rohingya by Burmese Buddhists. Twenty-three Nobel laureates and other “peace activists” signed a letter in November 2016 asking Aung San Suu Kyi to speak out about the Rohingya: “Despite repeated appeals to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, we are frustrated that she has not taken any initiative to ensure full and equal citizenship rights of the Rohingyas,” their Open Letter states. “Daw Suu Kyi is the leader and is the one with the primary responsibility to lead, and lead with courage, humanity and compassion.” But perhaps she has an understanding of the situation, based on an intimate knowledge of her country’s history, that the outside world does not possess.

Aung San Suu Kyi has refused to address accusations that the Muslim Rohingya may be victims of crimes against humanity, and in an interview with the BBC’s Misha Husain in March 2016, she refused to condemn violence against the Rohingya and denied that Muslims in Myanmar have been subject to ethnic cleansing. She insisted that the tensions in her country were due to a “climate of fear” (among the Buddhists) caused by a “worldwide perception that global Muslim power is very great.” And apparently, according to some reports, she was angry that the BBC had chosen a Muslim to interview her. Given the BBC’s history of pro-Rohingya advocacy, can you blame her?

What shall we make of this attitude from someone who had previously been put on a Nobel Peace Prize pedestal? Has she metamorphosed from being a moral exemplar to becoming a moral monster who needs correction, someone who, as researchers on state crime at St. Mary’s University in London claim, is “legitimizing genocide”? It is genocide if you attempt to kill all the members of another racial or religious group; it is not genocide if you seek to expel them from your country because of the threat you believe they pose. When Eduard Benes in Czechoslovakia attempted to remove several million ethnic Germans from his country after World War II, based on what they had done before and during the war, in taking Germany’s side, and what he feared they might someday do again should Germany again become a threat, it was not “genocide,” and the Benes Decree, as it was known, was accepted by the West.

It’s not surprising that for the giddy globe’s Great and Good, as the Economist put it, her “halo has even slipped among foreign human-rights lobbyists, disappointed at her failure to make a clear stand on behalf of the Rohingya minority” and to “give details on how her government intends to resolve the violence faced by the long-persecuted Muslim minority.” Or might it just be conceivable that the well-educated Burmese liberal Aung San Suu Kyi knows more about the Rohingyas, and the past history of Muslims in her own country, Myanmar, than do her critics, and that that knowledge makes her more studied and nuanced in her judgments, less credulous about the Rohingya claims of innocent victimhood, and more sympathetic to the fears of the Buddhists of Myanmar?

If we examine the last 150 years of Burmese history, we may find that Madame Suu Kyi has more of a point than her foreign critics think. It is that history that is in the minds of, and explains the behavior today of, the Buddhists of Myanmar. In 1826, after the Anglo-Burmese War, the British annexed Arakan (Rakhine State), where almost all of the 1.1 million Rohingyas now in Myanmar still live, to British India. And they began to encourage Indians, mainly Muslims, to move into Arakan from Bengal as cheap farm labor. They continued to encourage this migration throughout the nineteenth-century. The numbers of Bengali Muslim migrants is impressive. In Akyab District, the capital of Arakan, according to the British censuses of 1872 and 1911, there was an increase in the Muslim population from 58,255 to 178,647, a tripling within forty years. At the beginning of the 20th century, migrants from Bengal were still arriving in Burma at the rate of a quarter million per year. In the peak year of 1927, 480,000 people arrived in Burma, with Rangoon in that year surpassing New York City as the greatest migration port in the world. And many of these migrants were Bengali Muslims who joined the Muslims already in Rakhine State, renaming themselves the Rohingyas. The Buddhists continued to call them, as they still do today, “Bengalis.” And the immigration of Bengali Muslims continued for decades. In a 1955 study published by Stanford University, the authors Virginia Thompson and Richard Adloff concluded that “’the post-war (World War II) illegal immigration of Chittagonians [i.e., Bengali Muslims from Chittagong in East Pakistan] into that area [Arakan state] was on a vast scale, and in the Maungdaw and Buthidaung areas they replaced the [Buddhist] Arakanese.”[READ MORE]