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The Orlando Pulse Club Massacre and the exoneration of Noor Salman

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Attorney Charles Swift: “The more we learned, the better Noor Salman looked”
On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen entered Pulse club in Orlando and killed 49 people and injured 53 others. He was killed by the police. Mateen was survived by a wife, Noor Salman, and a child. The US government charged Noor with crimes arising from that massacre committed by her late husband. After a jury trial in Orlando, she was found not guilty on all charges. On social media though, Noor Salman gets a lot of hate because most people are not familiar with the case beyond the soundbites. A lot of people have questions about the case. Below are a number of questions about the case and my answers:

-Why did the government charge Noor when none of the wives or girlfriends of other mass shooters got charged criminally? That is a very good question. Some people think it is a result of anti-Muslim, anti-Arab bias. Other people think it is because of the nature of the crime and the fact that it is classified as terroris…

Lebanon: History and Civil War, Myths Debunked

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The Lebanese movie The Insult re-introduced the Lebanese civil war as a subject of interest. The movie offered the Lebanese right narrative that blames the Palestinians for the civil war. That narrative is important. I visited Abraham Lincoln’s Presidential Library last weekend and one of the frames read, as to slavery, in part: “At its most personal level, it [slavery] was a demeaning and barbaric institution that destroyed families and lives. Racism was a logical outgrowth of slavery, as slave holders tried to find moral justification for their behavior.” The last part, “moral justification for their behavior” is key. The myths and the lies the Lebanese right, Muslim and Christian, tells and promotes, is anti-Palestinian racism, used as “moral justification” for the butchering, the besieging, the starving as in Tal el- Zaater and Sabra and Shatila or as justification for continuing state violence against them by denying them the most basic of human rights. Below is a number of common…

Lebanon and the Palestinians: Myths and reality

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Lebanon and the Palestinians: Myths and reality
The late Palestinian ambassador to Lebanon, Ashraf Dabbour, once responded to a question about the Lebanese civil war years and the responsibility of different Lebanese factions in massacres against the Palestinians by saying that the Palestinians want the war behind them and want to keep friends with all Lebanese.
Civil wars carry painful memories. The Lebanese Civil War is not exceptional in that sense. Last January, I was driving from Kentucky to a conference in New Orleans. On the way I saw a sign that read “Shilo, Six Miles.” I did not know much about the American Civil War at the time but I have heard of Shilo. So I decided to take a detour and visit the famous Civil War battlefield site. That visit, and the controversy over Confederate monuments, created an interest in learning about the Civil War and its aftermath. It is not possible to overestimate the importance of the Civil War on American history since. I have since listened to…

Interview with Arab- American community leader Imad Hamad On Dearborn elections and the Arab American community- False claims hamper unity, depress turnout

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Interview with Arab- American community leader Imad Hamad On Dearborn elections and the Arab American community False claims hamper unity, depress turnout
Elections are often times of high drama. The Michigan elections, particularly the Dearborn mayoral election, produced heat and noise that carried on after the elections were over and the results declared. To shed light on that phenomenon, I interviewed Mr. Imad Hamad, longtime community leader and activist and Executive Director of the American Human Rights Council. Below are edited excerpts from the interview:
Q: What is your assessment of the recent elections in the Detroit area?
I.H.: It was very good. A lot of excitement about new candidates. A lot of energy from the young volunteers in the different campaigns. It was gratifying to see more Arab and Muslim Americans running for office. As a community we are moving forward in important ways. We are breaking barriers. Despite all the difficulties, many in our community are rising up to…

Sunni-majority countries and Iran’s proselytism: Political concerns, not faith concerns

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On October 26, 2017, Jonathan Lawrence wrote a commentary for Reuters entitled “Sunni North Africa, fears of Iran’s Shi’ite shadow.”*
Mr. Lawrence wrote:


‘Given the tiny number of Shi’ites living in North Africa and the tight control over mosques in the region, widespread Shi’ite religious influence on the ground is unrealistic. Whether or not the scale of proselytism justifies the level of concern, Moroccan and Algerian leaders view Iran’s Africa policy as a threat to their domestic order and regional security. The prospect of sectarian strife exists for “heterodox” – i.e. non-Sunni – minorities scattered across the region, numbering in the millions who live under mainstream Sunni rule. Some of these groups are offshoots of Shi’ite Islam, but are not necessarily the source of conflict. In Algeria, their mere difference – and the government’s toleration of them – sometimes provokes attack from local hardliners.’
Mere competition between religious doctrines?
To emphasize the theme of relig…

Remembering the Houla Massacre. 10/31/1948

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Remembering the Houla Massacre. 10/31/1948

October 29, 2009 Houla Massacre of 1948
Apathetic State: No Military Readiness or Political Will to Stand and Fight

The 1948 Houla Massacre Anniversary
October 31, 2009 is the sixty- first anniversary of the Zionist massacre in Houla, a village in South Lebanon. The Zionist Hagganah gang, led by Menachem begin, blew up houses and massacred in cold blood tens of the town's men. As a consequence of the Zionist attack, (one of a string of subsequent attacks on South Lebanon over the years), led to the people of Houla becoming refugees in their own homeland in 1948, living in the Dbayeh refugee camp. It was not until the beginning of May of 1949 that these displaced Southern Lebanese were able to go back to their destroyed village.

The Need for Strong defense of Lebanon
The Lebanese right wing has always claimed that there is no problem between the Zionists and Lebanon. They blame all the troubles of Lebanon on the victims of Israeli aggres…

Northern Iraq as “an island of democracy and peace”

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It seems that wherever there is fighting in the Arab world, somehow you see French Bernard-Henri Levy. One is tempted to think that Levy is a man interested in visiting conflict zone to advocate for human rights and rally support for those rising against authoritarian regimes.  Not so.
In a column in the Wall Street Journal of 10/10/2017 Levy writes* defending the Kurds right to secede from Iraq. He wrote that the Iraqi Kurdish Northern region is being denied the right to “be free, to flourish as an island of democracy and peace.” This is after the Kurdish Iraqi separatists have engaged in a violent land grab and ethnic cleansing of territory clearly beyond the boundaries of the Kurdish-controlled province. [Not too long ago a writer in the Wall Street Journal wrote a column critical of Catalonia’s referendum on secession. That writer made a compelling argument against secession. That very same paper provided space for Levy to advocate for Kurdish separatism.]
No serious person would ca…