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ISIS group to jihadists: ‘The Crusaders’ feast is approaching… Show them the meaning of terrorism’

(PJ MEDIA) — By Bridget Johnson

A pro-ISIS media group continued its online verbal jihad against the Vatican and Christmas today with a threat accompanied by an image of a jihadist and a wolf overlooking St. Peter’s Square.

On Tuesday, the Wafa’ Media Foundation released an image of smoke rising from Rome with a fighter jet overhead and a jihadist standing next to the sort of makeshift armored vehicle ISIS uses for suicide bombings in Iraq and Syria. “The date is approaching o worshippers of the cross,” states the message on the image.

The ISIS magazine Rumiyah — or Rome, reflecting the group’s apocalyptic vision and ultimate plans to sack the Vatican — hasn’t published a new issue since September. Their early e-book detailing the Rome conquest strategy predicted mob bosses would put up tough resistance: “There is no doubt that if Muslims want to take over Italy, the Islamic State European fighters will have to ally with other militias to fight the Mafia before the conquest of Rome.”

Suspects in Christmas Terror Plot Released; On the Loose in Germany

Today, Wafa’ released the Vatican “wolf” image, with a backpack, rocket-propelled grenade and rifle at the jihadist’s side as storm clouds gather over a twilight St. Peter’s Square.

In a message to fellow jihadists, the group notes that “the crusaders’ feast is approaching.”

The message ran on with no punctuation: “Their convoys will crowd itself in front of you prepare and plan for them show them the meaning of terrorism kill them and do not hold back with your blood the reward is paradise and let them know that you are from an ummah [Muslim community] where mountains bow down to we will not forget our revenge for every drop of blood that they have shed we will not exclude the young, elderly or women you are all in the crosshairs of our arrows and what is about to come is more even worse.”

Last week, the group released a “beheading” image of Pope Francis, with a jihadist standing over the orange-jumpsuited body of a prisoner with his hands behind his back, chest-down on the ground on a dirt street. The terrorist, clad in khaki with a white scarf covering his face, held a knife in one hand and touched the head that looked like Pope Francis — propped on the back of the body — with his other hand.

“Jorge Mario Bergoglio,” the pope’s name, was written next to the head.

The previous week, Wafa’ circulated a poster depicting a vehicle moving toward the Vatican with a cache of weapons, vowing “Christmas blood.”

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Western Christianity in denial about radical Islam

(JERUSALEM POST) — The West is still in denial about radical Islam’s goal to eradicate Christianity, according to an Italian journalist and author.

Once radical Islam gains a foothold in Europe, there is nothing suggesting that it can’t easily dismantle Western Christianity, just as it did Christianity in the Middle East, wrote Giulio Meotti, cultural editor for Il Foglio, in a Gatestone Institute article this week.

“If Eastern Christianity can be extinguished so easily, Western Europe will be next,” he wrote.

“While natural disasters such as tsunamis or earthquakes spur solidarity throughout the West, the disappearance of entire Christian populations and their ancient civilizations never seems to disturb anyone,” Meotti said in the essay titled “Europe: Destroyed by the West’s Indifference?” “Perhaps it is a sign of denial by the West.”

Meotti struck a similar tone to a piece written by CAMERA Christian media analyst Dexter Van Zile, who said that the reason many churches take to blaming Israel is because the Jewish state is a safe target, while offending a jihadist would offer a different result.

“Our media and intelligentsia are always on the alert to defend everything coming from Islam, whether women’s veils or the ‘right not to be offended’ by cartoons,” Meotti wrote. “The same establishment, however, lies in a coma when Christian symbols come under attack.”

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IDF spokesman: Iran exporting “toxic” ideologies around Middle East to achieve dominance

(THE TOWER) — In the latest episode of ‘Tipping Point’, The Israel Project’s weekly podcast, Lt.-Col. Jonathan Conricus, the new head of the international media branch at the IDF spokesperson’s unit, discussed the fragile situation on the Syrian border, the prospects of war with Hezbollah, and the significance of the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation.

Addressing the situation in the region, Conricus warned that Iran is striving for hegemony and is on the verge of establishing a direct land corridor from Tehran through Baghdad to the Mediterranean, which would drastically change the security situation in the region.

“The aggressive export that Iran is doing of their specific brand of violent extremism and terrorism to many countries – to Lebanon through Hezbollah, to Syria through various proxies, to Yemen and other regions – it’s a pattern of exporting very toxic and dangerous ideologies around the Middle East, trying to achieve some kind of dominance,” he explained.

Conricus pointed out that Iranian and Israeli interests in Syria couldn’t be further apart, with one party trying to stabilize the situation and saving lives, and the other thriving on chaos and destruction. “It’s interesting to see the contrast of what Iran is doing in Syria and of what Israel is doing on the Golan Heights,” he said, adding “What the IDF is involved in is ‘Operation Good Neighbor’, providing humanitarian aid for more than a year and a half now. More than 3,000 Syrians have been given medical attention, sometimes even life-saving procedures by either Israeli military doctors or in hospitals.”

Moving on, Conricus addressed the prospect of a third Lebanon War. “Hezbollah is in clear violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701; they are stockpiling weapons in southern Lebanon,” he stated. Conricus continued, “They have their missiles and rockets, approximately 120,000 of those, within the civilian population in Lebanon and aiming their rockets at Israeli civilians, intentionally doing so in order to extort pressure on the Israeli leadership.”

The IDF spokesperson further accused the terrorist organization of war crimes. “In southern Lebanon, they have dug underneath houses, schools, hospitals, mosques, and U.N facilities, using them for military purposes, which is a violation of the law of armed conflict.”

Conricus said the IDF was ready to respond to all eventualities. “We are prepared for different scenarios,” he stressed. “There would be a very heavy price for any act of aggression, whether against the IDF, or, for sure, against civilians, and I think Hezbollah knows this. And I also think Hezbollah is aware of the price they would pay, if they were forced by their Iranian masters to attack Israel.”

But Conricus also acknowledged that Hezbollah is now a more formidable enemy. “For sure Hezbollah has evolved,” he admitted. “What we see today is that Hezbollah is accountable in Lebanon. They bear responsibility vis-à-vis the Lebanese population. They are part of government, they wield significant political power, they have the strongest military force inside Lebanon.” He added, “The bottom line is that Hezbollah has developed. They have become not only a terrorist organization, but an organization that is also political and that has civilian responsibilities.”

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Yes, border walls are needed, and they’re already everywhere

(PJ MEDIA) — By Michel Gurfinkiel

One may support or oppose the Trump administration’s grand design in terms of home security: the building, or the “updating,” of a 3200-kilometer barrier between the United States and Mexico. One cannot deny, however, that such structures — hermetic and heavily monitored separations, instead of merely classic borders — are quite common today.

While the Iron Curtain and Bamboo Curtain separating the USSR and Red China from the rest of the world were partially dismantled, some other 20th century barriers are still extant. And new ones are being erected all over the world at steady pace.

Le Point, a French right-of-center weekly, has published a comprehensive map in this respect. According to it, and other documents, the oldest existing barriers are the outcome of wars of aggression:

The “demilitarized zone” (DMZ) between North and South Korea — in fact, one of the most militarized fences in the world — was created in 1953 as part of the armistice agreement that ended a three-year war initiated by the Communist North Korean regime. The 180-kilometer long Attila that separates the Muslim-Turkish populated Northern Cyprus from the Christian-Greek populated southern Republic of Cyprus was unilaterally set up by Turkey after it invaded the Mediterranean island in 1975. The Sand Wall, a 2720-kilometer barrier put in place between 1980 and 1987 and manned by 100,000 Moroccan soldiers, marked Morocco’s 1975 unilateral annexation of the former Spanish colony of Western Sahara.

Likewise, the 120-kilometer fence on the Israeli-Syrian and Israeli-Lebanese borders and the 51-kilometer fence on the Israeli-Gazan line were set up in the wake of repeated aggressions by Arab states or terrorist organizations against the Jewish State from 1948 to 2014. The almost 3000-kilometer fence on the Indian-Pakistani border is the result of the many wars and skirmishes involving the two South Asian nations since 1947:

However, the more recent barriers were built or are being built within a very different context. Their main purpose is to prevent large-scale terrorist infiltrations or to monitor mass migrations.

The largest of them are to be found in the Islamic world. This should not come as a surprise, since many Islamic countries are hotbeds of competing jihadist movements or migratory pools or both.

There is a 3300-kilometer wall between secular but Hindu-dominated India and Muslim Bangladesh. Some 2700 kilometers of walls surround Uzbekistan, 1400 kilometers lie on Saudi Arabia’s borders, 1200 kilometers on Iran’s Eastern borders, and 700 kilometers on Oman’s borders. Jordan is completing a 500-kilometer fence on its Syrian and Iraqi borders; Tunisia a 200-kilometer fence along its Libyan border.

Israel, a Jewish islet in the Muslim ocean, operates some 550 kilometers of barriers in the West Bank and on its Jordanian and Egyptian borders in addition to its aforementioned military fences. Much smaller walls are to be found as well in the same area: Egypt built 11 kilometers on its Gaza border, and a combined 11.81 kilometers of fence separate the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla from Morocco.

More barriers dot other parts of the world.

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Islamism is ‘an evangelical movement that seeks to destroy countries that are free’

(PJ MEDIA) — By Tyler O’Neil

Developed countries throughout the Western world are slowly realizing that radical Islamic terrorism is not limited to the Middle East. Even so, few realize just how aggressive the proponents of Islamist ideology really are. M. Zudhi Jasser, a Muslim who champions American freedom and separation of Sharia (Islamic law) and state, explained just how pernicious this ideology can be.

Islamism is “a forward aggressive offensive ideology, an evangelical movement that seeks to destroy countries that are free,” Jasser, founder and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), told PJ Media. He used the word “evangelical” deliberately, not to connect Islamism with evangelical Protestantism, but to emphasize “evangelizing here as a verb.”

This evangelization is not limited to militant groups like the Islamic State (ISIS) or even the Muslim Brotherhood. Rather, it goes all the way to the top of the Middle Eastern power structure, and has spread into the West via their proxies. The most common Islamist ideology behind terror is Wahhabism, a “puritanical” reform movement which inspires radical acts.

“I met with the Saudi governments, they defend Wahhabi ideas, saying that the Al Qaedas of the world misinterpret Wahhabism,” Jasser, whose parents came to the U.S. from Syria and who has personally traveled the Middle East advocating for religious freedom, recalled. While Saudi government leaders attempt to distance themselves from terror, they are preaching the same message.

“The Saudis are distributing ideas that are commensurate with ISIS,” the AIFD president explained. The Saudi leaders “discuss the defeat of the Jews and the Christians, that the Christians are no longer monotheists, but polytheists. The House of Saud defends the theological legitimacy of Wahhabi ideology.”

Jasser pointed out that the Saudi government will often arrest individuals who dare to criticize the government and charge them with apostasy against Islam. They can be even more ruthless than ISIS, and Jasser claimed that Saudi Arabia carried out more beheadings in the last twelve months than ISIS.

“The bottom line is the ideology is the same,” the AIFD president stated, bluntly. “Let’s say it was cocaine, the government distributes cocaine on the streets so that people get addicted and then they legitimize a police increase, and then martial law. That’s not a conspiracy theory, that’s the reality.”

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Isis fighters surrender en masse after fall of Hawija despite vowing to fight or die

(UK INDEPENDENT) — By Rod Nordland

Extremist soldiers in Syria are foregoing martyrdom to hand themselves in at Kurdish interrogation center in northern Iraq after loss of regional stronghold in morale-sapping defeat

The prisoners were taken to a waiting room in groups of four, and were told to stand facing the concrete wall, their noses almost touching it, their hands bound behind their backs.

More than 1,000 prisoners determined to be Isis fighters passed through that room this past week after they fled their crumbling Iraqi stronghold of Hawija. Instead of the martyrdom they had boasted was their only acceptable fate, they had voluntarily ended up here in the interrogation center of the Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq.

For an extremist group that has made its reputation on its ferociousness, with fighters who would always choose suicide over surrender, the fall of Hawija has been a notable turning point.

The fight for Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, took nine months, and by comparison, relatively few Isis fighters surrendered. Tal Afar fell next, in only 11 days. Some 500 fighters surrendered there.

The Iraqi military ousted Isis from Hawija in 15 days, saying it had taken its forces only three days of actual heavy fighting before most of the extremists grabbed their families and ran. According to Kurdish officials, they put up no fight at all, other than planting bombs and booby traps.

One of the men smelled so bad that when he was taken into the small interrogation room, those inside were startled. He filled the doorway, appearing even larger than his actual size. Everyone in the room seemed scared of the man, even though his hands were tied behind his back. His face had only a wisp of black stubble on the chin.

“Hello,” a visitor said. “Where’s your beard?” Isis requires all men to grow full beards.

“I’m only 21, I can’t grow it yet,” he said, clearly embarrassed.

Kurdish interrogators allowed a dozen of the surrendered fighters to be interviewed by a reporter as they arrived at the local headquarters of the Asayish, the Kurdish intelligence service, in Dibis, near the Kurds’ front lines opposite Hawija. Officers monitored all interviews.
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Many of the fighters claimed to have been just cooks or clerks. So many said they had been members of Isis for only a month or two that interrogators suspected they had been coached to say that. Gone was the contempt for the world’s opinion, spewed out in one violent video after another — many of them made in Hawija, where grisly killings, especially of Kurdish prisoners, were the norm during their three-year reign over that Sunni Arab city in northern Iraq.

Most of the prisoners, though, claimed to have never seen a beheading, or even heard of such a thing.

At first, the beardless fighter seemed an exception, admitting defiantly that he had been fighting for the group for two years, alongside family members. He readily gave his name: “Maytham Muhammed Mohemin,” he said, practically spitting it out.

The interrogator, Lieutenant Pisthiwan Salahi, said Mohemin was not only an Islamic State soldier but also a member of an elite suicide squad known as the Seekers of Martyrdom, according to informers.

Kurdish officials have been perplexed by the number of fighters who have surrendered. Many of the militants said they were ordered by their leaders to turn themselves in to the Kurds, who were known to take prisoners instead of killing them.

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Bishop: Western politicians damage African Christianity by ‘pandering’ to Islam

(CATHOLIC HERALD) — A Nigerian bishop said the Catholic Church in his country is beginning to lose its public influence partly because of the decline of religious faith in the West.

Bishop Matthew Kukah of Sokoto accused European and American politicians and diplomats of publicly “pandering” to Islam at the expense of Christianity.

The result, he said, was the ascendancy of Islam and evangelical Christianity in Nigeria and the decline of Catholicism.

He told Catholic News Service in an interview in Liverpool that the widespread loss of Christian faith in the West was “absolutely” among the causes of the diminishing influence of the Catholic Church in his own country.

“From my own experience, I find that the British high commissioner, the ambassadors from European countries, the American ambassador — they are pandering more to Islam than to Christianity, because most of them have turned their backs on Christianity,” Bishop Kukah said.

“The Arab world is pouring money into Nigeria and the Pentecostal pastors in America are doing the same, and the Catholic Church is now becoming the weakest in terms of access to resources,” he said.

“For me, as a bishop of the Catholic Church, I can see very clearly that our influence in the public space is gradually reducing, and that is largely because of our capacity to mobilize resources,” he said.

It had become no longer possible, he said, for the bishops to appeal to historically Catholic nations for financial help with church projects.

“We can’t go to the Irish ambassador or the Spanish ambassador and say, ‘This is (needed) for the Catholic Church,’” Bishop Kukah said. “People are not interested.”

“In Ramadan, the ambassadors of Islamic countries are very keen to come to the Muslim celebrations in a way and manner that the Irish or any of these ambassadors are not likely to do for (Christmas) midnight Mass or the Easter celebrations.”

He said that, in his experience, most Catholic ambassadors would prefer to be seen publicly at a Muslim celebration than attending a Christian ceremony.

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Inside ISIS’ suicide bomb-making factories where fanatics painstakingly create deadly explosive and ball-bearing-laden vests

(THE SUN) — By Patrick Knox

CHILLING footage of ISIS bomb-makers painstakingly creating powerful suicide vests has been released on social media.

Photos of the factory, said to be close to Baghdad in Iraq, show masked bomb-makers assembling devices designed to kill or horribly maim as the doomed death-cult plots a last ditch murder campaign.

Wearing latex gloves, the ISIS jihadis are seen laying out plastic explosive and ball bearings as shrapnel before binding it up and stuffing it into a camouflage vest.

Another shot shows a room with several finished bombs.

A picture then shows a fighter fitted with the deadly cargo and what appears to be two triggers on the vest.

Last week it was revealed the terror group is on the run across the Middle East, according to the US led-coalition.

Col Ryan Dillon said: “ISIS is losing on all fronts, and they are losing their grip on their few remaining strongholds in both Iraq and Syria.”

The coalition and its partners on the ground – the Iraqi security forces and the Syrian Democratic Forces – remain committed to defeating the enemy, he said.

“But make no mistake,” Col Dillon added, “we fully expect fierce fighting in the days ahead.

“And while these terrorists remain a dangerous and desperate enemy, our ISF and SDF partners have proven they are up to the task.”

Iraqi forces have made significant progress in the fight, Dillon said.

“Our Iraqi partners have fought a long, bloody war and have sacrificed a great deal to liberate their people and clear terrorists from cities and villages,” he told reporters.

More than 26,000 square miles in Iraq have been cleared and more than four million people are now free from ISIS control, the colonel said.

“ISIS is on the run, and we must remain focused on delivering a decisive defeat in their few remaining holdouts in Iraq,” he added.

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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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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]