Showing posts from February, 2009

Saving Turkey from Its Old Self: More US, Less Europe

Turkey needs to be saved from itself. It can be saved by having the United States as its model for a modern secular state, and not any European country.

The late visionary leader Mustapha Kemal Ataturk wanted to build a modern Turkey from the ashes of the collapsed empire. He looked West for a model of what a modern state looks like. He emulated the strict secularism of Europe.

Turkey has changed and many Turks are increasingly more observant. The harsh Turkish secularism has the state banning women wearing headscarves from college campuses. Contrast that with the US justice department suing a school district to enforce the right of a Muslim teenager to wear a headscarf to school. I was at the CAIR annual convention in DC a few month ago when representative Keith Ellison alluded to this rather odd reality.

The US Constitution first amendment establishment clause has been read to mandate a separation of state and religion- the free excercise clause guarantees freedom of worship.


Lebanon and the Palestinian Refugees: Ill treatment Creates a Time Bomb?

The scandalously ill treatment of the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon continues unchecked. Despite all the emotional support for Gaza, the Palestinian situation in Lebanon continues to be miserable. The excuses given by the Lebanese political figures are the national consensus on rejection of naturalization of these refugees and protecting the right of return. Only politicians that are raised on pure sectarianism would accept these excuses as justification for violating human rights and norms of decency in dealing with the refugees.

The Syrian’s Brother is the Lebanese’s Threat
The late President of the Palestinian Authority Yasser Arafat was asked about the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and he responded that there are Palestinian refugees in the whole world, not only in Lebanon, and that when a solution is found to the refugee issue, those of Lebanon are first in line. Despite this assurance, the Lebanese sectarian regime continues in its criminal policy that continues to violate int…

When Hate and the F Word Can Lead to Prison

The first amendment protects speech. However, this freedom has important limitations. A former State department official and an Arab American from Michigan learned about these limitations the hard way in 2008.

In "Ex-Diplomat Sentenced for Anti-Arab Threats," Carrie Johnson wrote in the Washington Post of July 12, 2008: 'A retired Foreign Service officer was sentenced yesterday to one year in prison for making threats against Arab American Institute President James Zogby and other employees there. W. Patrick Syring, 50, who served two tours in Beirut during his 25-year State Department career, pleaded guilty to violating civil rights laws. The charges stem from messages he left at AAI in the midst of the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah."The only good Arab is a dead Arab," Syring said in a profanity-laden July 2006 voice-mail message delivered to AAI, which promotes Arab American participation in elections and policy issues. After federal prosecutors in t…