Monday, 26 March 2012
ISTANBUL, March 26 |
(Reuters) - A Turkish shampoo commercial featuring an enraged Adolf Hitler is a "huge insult to human rights" and should be withdrawn, leaders of the country's Jewish community said on Monday.
The 13-second television spot for Biomen shampoo shows black-and-white archival footage of the Nazi leader at a political rally. Dubbed in Turkish, he shouts that men should not use women's shampoo.
"Using Hitler, whose brutal ideology caused the deaths of millions of people, in a commercial in order to be different or create awareness (of a product) is unacceptable," said a statement posted on Istanbul's chief rabbinate's website.
The rabbinate contacted Istanbul-based Biota Laboratories - which makes Biomen - to ask them to pull the ad but the company has so far declined to scrap it, saying the commercial's message was humorous, Jewish community leader Silvyo Ovadya told Reuters.
No one from Biota was immediately available to comment about the ad or the rabbinate's complaint.
"We will pursue legal means now," Ovadya said. "The ad is also demeaning to women."
He did not say which legal means the community might pursue. InTurkey, the Industry Ministry's advertising commission oversees content in television advertising and is authorised to pull commercials and issue financial penalties for those that violate broadcast standards.
About 20,000 Jews live in Turkey, mainly Istanbul, a city of some 14 million Muslims. Most are descendants of Sephardim who escaped the Spanish Inquisition and found refuge in the Ottoman Empire some 500 years ago.
The community has suffered violent attacks, including the bombing by al Qaeda of two synagogues that killed 27 people in 2003.
Jewish leaders have expressed concern about rising anti-Semitism in Turkey since relations with Israel, a former military ally, soured after the 2010 raid by Israeli commandos of the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish-led humanitarian aid ship bound for Gaza. Nine Turkish activists, one with dual U.S. citizenship, died in the raid.
The New York-based Anti-Defamation League said it was "repulsed" by the use of Hitler's image to sell shampoo.
"The use of images of the violently anti-Semitic dictator who was responsible for the mass murder of 6 million Jews and millions of others in the Holocaust to sell shampoo is a disgusting and deplorable marketing ploy," said Abraham H. Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League's national director and a Holocaust survivor, in a statement on the group's website. (Reporting By Ayla Jean Yackley; Editing by Toby Chopra)
"train to Fight the Jews and enter paradise".The Arab/Palestinian side is now becoming the Islamist side and even those countries that made peace with Israel are finding their populations who have endured a century of indoctrination not unlike that of the American Klu Klux Klan want to not only break the 'Treaties' but take it further state their preference for having another go at killing all Jews
Here we see in today's news the first of the so called "Arab Spring" countries Tunisia being taken down by the Islamic KKK and calls to kill the Jews
Tunisian youth should "train" to "Fight the Jews" and enter "paradise".
This call came during a demonstration in downtown Tunis called for by Islamists who want Islamic Sharia to be "the main source of legislation" in the Constitution of Tunisia.
Thousands of supporters of different Islamic groups participated in the demonstration.
Speeches were led by bearded young men with hundreds of loudspeaker, saying: "Prepare yourselves ... train yourselves in fighting the Jews, fighting for the sake of Allah ... paradise .. paradise.... paradise ... paradise. " The young people responded to the Salafi leader by singing "God is great."
A video clip with the sermon by the Salafi leader has been viewed widely in Facebook.
The activists said on Facebook: "This is the first time in Tunisia there was incitement to kill Jews in the street in broad daylight."
Similar is now happening in Egypt
Thursday, 22 March 2012
|Protesters in Paris call for the release of Mourad Dhina, Algerian rights activist [Courtesy of the FreeMourad Campaign]|
Mourad Dhina, a leading democracy and rights activist has been detained at request of Algeria, in run-up to elections.
Paris, France - The Arab Spring has done little to threaten the status quo in Algeria, leaving outside commentators puzzled over what some are calling the "Algerian exception".
The arrest by French authorities of Mourad Dhina, one of the most vocal critics of Algeria's administration, underscores just how little has changed in the North African country, activists told Al Jazeera.
While neighbouring countries have experienced dramatic change, the Algerian government continues to stifle political dissent. The "Dhina Affair" also exposes the French government's ardent support for their Algerian allies.
Five decades ago, Algerians won their independence from French colonial domination, and, since 1962, the country has been ruled by the National Liberation Front (FLN). Many opposition figures and activists argue that it is the military, however, that holds the real political power, behind the veneer of the FLN's civilian government.
Algeria did experience protests early in 2011 Arab Spring, but the momentum soon faded. Algerians have lived through the brutality of French colonialism, and the decade-long "Dirty War" of the 1990s, leaving a legacy of violence and disillusionment.
With the rise of political Islam in Tunisia, Libya and Morocco, the rulers of Algeria have introduced reforms that suggest a willingness to accept some degree of change, and as the country prepares for its legislative election on May 10, there are signs that the FLN might find more political space for opposition parties - including a newly formed alliance of officially sanctioned Islamist parties named the Green Algeria Alliance.
And, for the first time in its history, Algeria has invited international election observers to monitor the poll.
But those calling for more extensive reforms and an end to the generals' behind-the-scenes political control are likely to be disappointed.
Abbas Aroua, a co-founder (with Dhina) of opposition exile group Rachad, said that the reforms were nothing more than a façade, and that the government's repression of activists and journalists had increased in the past year.
"There are a couple of countries that tried to escape from this wave [the Arab Spring]. Algeria is one of them," he said.
"People who are saying ‘no' to these fake reforms are being harshly attacked."
Ali Belhadj, the founding second-in-charge of the outlawed Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), was also arrested in early February near Béjaïa as he toured the Kabylia region, according to reports in Algerian media.
|Dhina has been in France's La Sante prison for two months [Courtesy of the FreeMourad Camapgin]|
The Rachad movement has been particularly energised in recent months, and had held a protest in Paris on January 11, marking the 20th anniversary of the 1992 military coup outside the Algerian embassy in Paris. Dhina did not attend the protest, but was in Paris at the same time for a meeting of Rachad’s Paris office.
On January 16, Dhina was arrested at Orly Airport in Paris, as he was about to board a plane to Geneva. Since then, he has since been imprisoned in La Sante Prison.
The 50-year-old former FIS member is being held while France examines a 2003 extradition request from Algeria, which alleges that he belonged to "an armed terrorist group in Switzerland from 1997 to 1999". The Swiss have rejected similar requests from Algeria, and view the allegations as politically motivated.
"There is no proof behind their allegations," said Dhina's wife, Ratiba. "They're inventing lies because he's an opponent of their regime and a human rights activist."
His next hearing is scheduled for March 21. In the meantime, the French authorities have refused his request for conditional release under house arrest.
Alkarama Foundation, a Geneva-based NGO, of which Dhina has been executive director since 2007, has said that he would be at risk of torture if France allows his extradition. Such a move would, Alkarama argues, therefore be in breach of France's obligations under both the European Convention on Human Rights and the United Nations Convention against Torture.
Neither the French foreign ministry nor interior ministry were willing to speak to Al Jazeera for this article.
Unlike other former leaders of the FIS, Dhina was not involved in the Islamist movement in the 1980s. He left Algeria in 1983 to pursue his postgraduate studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he undertook a doctorate in experimental particle physics.
After Algeria's October 1988 protest movement, which preceded similar uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia by more than 20 years, the political monopoly of the ruling oligarchy appeared to be on the wane. Reformers within the regime appeared to have set the country on the path of political pluralism.
Dhina grew up in a politically active family that valued education. Under French colonial rule, his father was a member of the FLN and, like many Algerians, had been imprisoned by the French for his resistance.
After graduating from MIT in 1987, Dhina was recruited by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ), to collaborate in experiments at what was at the time the world's most powerful particle accelerator. Both his professional life and the political developments in his homeland gave Dhina reason for optimism and excitement.
This all came to a halt with the coup d'état of 1992. The Algerian army intervened to prevent what would have been the second round of the country's parliamentary elections, blocking the FIS from almost certain victory.
The country accelerated along the path towards civil war, and the anti-reform, staunchly secular establishment moved to "eradicate" political Islam. Civilians who supported the FIS quickly came to be seen as legitimate targets in the murky civil war that unfolded. Intellectuals became targets for both the intelligence services and ultra-conservative supporters of political Islam.
Shocked by the massive use of torture, extrajudicial executions and desert detention camps that followed the coup, the young physicist was provoked into political activism, joining the FIS in 1992, after the military government outlawed the party, a ban that remains in force today.
"Mourad's situation is rather different from the others," said George Joffé, a specialist in North African affairs at Cambridge University's Centre of International Studies. "He was never before a member of the FIS in the 1980s. He only became involved later on."
Aroua, who is a medical physician and fellow activist-in-exile, first met Dhina at the European Laboratory of Nuclear Physics (CERN) in the early 1990s. This was before the coup had driven both men to devote much of their time to exposing the abuses committed by the regime.
"Otherwise, we had a scientific career we wanted to follow," said Aroua, who has never been a member of the FIS and lives in London.
Dhina may not have set foot in Algeria since 1986, but it wasn't long until he was facing similar accusations of terrorism from his fellow FIS members back in Algeria.
The first accusations came in 1994, as Algeria's Department of Investigation and Security (DRS), the intelligence agency widely considered to be more powerful than the government, intensified its efforts to crush political opponents abroad.
Geneva police accused Dhina of helping smuggle to explosives from Slovakia to FIS members in Algeria. The Swiss authorities soon dismissed the charges as baseless, although the smear was enough to lose his prestigious job at ETHZ.
Geneva police accused Dhina of helping smuggle to explosives from Slovakia to FIS members in Algeria. The Swiss authorities soon dismissed the charges as baseless, although the smear was enough to lose his prestigious job at ETHZ.
|Back in Algeria, the charges stuck, and a court convicted Dhina to 20 years in absentia in 1997.|
A member of the Swiss federal police was later convicted of spying for Algerian intelligence in its hunt against Algerian dissidents living in Switzerland.
Back in Algeria, the charges stuck, and a court convicted Dhina to 20 years in absentia in 1997.
"As with many Algerian opposition figures, Algerian authorities have been trying to have him extradited for many years," said Michael Romig, a human rights officer at AlKarama.
The Algerian authorities sent another extradition request to Swiss authorities in 2001, claiming he had been a member of a terrorist group based in Switzerland. The Swiss refused.
The terrorism allegations are "complete rubbish", Joffé said.
With the crackdown against the FIS inside Algeria, the torch for the movement was passed to those living abroad, and, despite his brief involvement with the movement, Dhina quickly earned the respect of the FIS leadership.
He was appointed provisional head of the movement's national executive bureau in 2002, while its leaders Ali Belhadj and Abbassi Madani were in prison.
By 2004, however, he had become frustrated with what he believed was the party's failure to act as a coherent and disciplined political force. He issued a statement announcing his resignation from the FIS, rejecting its "organisational dysfunction".
|CO-OPERATION BETWEEN FRENCH AND ALGERIAN SECURITY ESTABLISHMENTS|
Plus ça change
Since the end of the colonial era, the French government has fostered notoriously close relationships with Algeria's military rulers, an alliance defined by uncompromising raison d'État, but faced with the weight of protest movements that have shaken the region for more than a year, President Nicolas Sarkozy's government was forced to reconsider its ties with North African authoritarian leaders.
Michèle Alliot-Marie, then France's foreign minister, offered Tunisia "know-how" to help "deal" with the uprising there in January 2011, just days before President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted. Public opinion turned against her and she was forced to resign.
In response to a question [Fr] on Wednesday on Europe 1, a French radio network, about the biggest error of his presidency, Sarkozy went so far as to say it was to have failed to anticipate the Tunisian Uprising:
"Without a doubt, to not have seen the Jasmin Revolution [sic] coming, and it's no consolation that no one saw it coming."
Alain Juppé, who replaced Alliot-Marie as foreign minister, has advocated the need for France to build better ties with opposition movements, Islamist or not, in North Africa.
"I wish for the opening of straightforward dialogue with Islamist groups that respect democratic [values] and refuse any form of violence," he reportedly said in April 2011.
Aroua agreed: "Juppé has been trying to [push for] a change in France's foreign policy, supporting more and more movements for freedom in the Arab world, trying to stop supporting dictatorships."
Yet when it comes to petroleum-rich Algeria, France appears to be maintaining its support for its military allies. The terms of France's diplomatic relationship with Algeria continue to be conducted by the French security establishment, as they have been since independence in 1962.
Juppé's inability to sway this has left him frustrated, according to an official in the foreign ministry who spoke on condition of anonymity.
During a December 2011 visit to Algiers, Claude Guéant, France's interior minister, called the "democratic" reforms "profoundly encouraging", the Algerian daily Le Matinreported [Fr].
The Dhina Affair has underlined the historic split between Juppé - who since the mid-1990s has advocated a nuanced position on Algeria and Pasqua - firmly in the generals' camp, a French foreign ministry official told Al Jazeera.
Meanwhile, there's also the possibility that the French authorities are scrambling to compensate Algiers for the ongoing investigation into the mysterious circumstances surrounding the murder of the seven monks of Tibhirine.
Refusal to compromise
Algeria's reforms potentially open the path for the pro-regime Islamist Green Algeria Alliance to win a substantial percentage of the vote in the May election. Dhina has consistently criticised pro-regime Islamist parties.
Days before his trip to Paris, Dhina was approached by an emissary sent by the new head of Algeria's secret services General Bachir Tertag, an Algerian newspaper reported in January [Fr].
Dhina's wife and colleagues confirmed to Al Jazeera that shortly before his arrest, the physicist had been approached by administration representatives seeking some kind of "deal".
As he has many times before, Dhina refused to compromise on his activism.
"The Algerian regime has tried many times to contact him," his wife Ratiba said. "But it's against his principles."
She said that the regime reacted to his refusal to negotiate with threats that they would have him extradited.
Aroua said the secret services had approached Dhina and other key members of Rachad repeatedly.
"They've asked us to come to an agreement with them, and they offered positions and privileges, and they said: 'Just say what you want and we'll find a way to do things'," he said.
"But they're never ready to question the nature of their system. We always said we should be approached in a transparent way, we don't want a bilateral, secret deal with you."
Mohammed Samraoui, the former second-in-charge of Algeria's counter-intelligence services who defected to Germany in 1996 and went on to become a leading critic of the "Dirty War", said Dhina's arrest was an example of the systematic harassment of anyone considered to be a threat.
Samraoui was also one of the co-founders of Rachad in 2007, and he faced a similar extradition attempt while visiting Spain for an international chess tournament, shortly after the organisation was launched. When he was released on bail, he fled to Germany.
"They know that it won't be possible to extradite Mourad Dhina, and their objective is to unsettle him with legal costs, expensive commutes between Geneva and Paris for his family members," Samraoui said in an email interview. "They're trying to intimidate anyone considering fighting for change in Algeria."
Anwar Haddam, a former member of the FIS executive authority in exile, said that, given the history of France's treatment of Algerian exiles, Dhina should not have travelled there by plane.
"I was not surprised that they arrested him, because we knew they'd been after him for a long time," said Haddam, who has lived in the US for nearly two decades.
Haddam, whose own status in the US remains tenuous, said France and the US both accept Algerian officials' use of terrorism allegations as a means to harass opponents.
"They're trying to use us, the opposition, as leverage, in order to get whatever they want to get from the Algerians," Haddam said. "Unfortunately, France repeats the same mistakes."
Joffé agreed that extradition requests were a frequent tactic the Algerian authorities used to harass leading dissidents.
"It's a scattergun approach, and it works very effectively," he said.
"It's a scattergun approach, and it works very effectively," he said.
"When you massacre your own people, make millions of young people disappear and subsume the country with fire and blood, just to stay in power, I believe there is a serious lack of governance," Samraoui said.
"There is corruption at every level, this is why it is normal that a person like Dhina disturbs them, and why they will discredit him at any price, accusing him of being a ‘fundamentalist,' a ‘terrorist,' a ‘traitor' or a ‘foreign agent'."
You can follow Yasmine Ryan on Twitter: @yasmineryan
Reporters Without Borders strongly deplores assaults within days of each other on the photographer Mohamed Kadri and the journalist Hanane Driss. In both cases, the police were responsible.
“Such acts of violence are unacceptable. The authorities must undertake independent investigations and punish those responsible,” the press freedom organization said, noting with concern repeated and frequent instances of attacks on photographers and cameramen.
Kadri, a news photographer for the daily Waqt Al-Djazair, was beaten up by the police three days ago outside the People’s National Assembly in central Algiers, near the As-Safir Hotel in rue Hussein Aasaba, during an unauthorized demonstration by ex-soldiers demanding an increase in their pensions. The protest quickly degenerated into a clash with the police.
About 11 a.m. as he was taking pictures of the security forces assaulting and arresting demonstrators, three officers rushed at him and hit him several times on the back and chest.
They verbally abused him and threatened to arrest him if he continued taking photographs. He was able to remove the memory card from his camera before police confiscated his equipment. They found no incriminating shots and his camera was returned to him some 15 minutes later.
Several photographs taken at the scene confirm the violence of the assault.
Kadri lodged a complaint yesterday alleging assault and battery and the journalists’ union has officially associated itself with the case, calling on the authorities to take “serious and effective steps” to end police brutality.
According to information gathered by Reporters Without Borders, the police were said to have apologized to the photographer and assured him that those responsible would be punished.
The next day, Driss, a reporter for the French-language daily Tribune des lecteurs, was also beaten up by a police officer while she was covering the pensions protest by former soldiers outside the People’s National Assembly building.
Since the appointment of a new head of the National Police, Major-General Abdelghani Hamel, official procedures are meant to be more respectful towards those who work for the media. However, besides lip service and a slight relaxation by the authorities, intimidation and assaults continue in Algeria.
According to witness accounts gathered by Reporters Without Borders, photographers are regularly interrogated by security forces who continually ask to see their assignment orders.
Reporters Without Borders condemns the growing instances of violent assaults by security forces against journalists, particularly photographers and cameramen who are easily identifiable at demonstrations.
Ramzi Boudina, a news photographer, told the organization he had been assaulted and interrogated by civil and paramilitary police. Each time, they use the same method: officers surround small groups of photographers and journalists, cutting them off from others attending the demonstration in order to rough them up out of sight of video cameras.
He and several colleagues were arrested by police during the riots in Algeria in February last year.
Algerian women played a major role in the war of independence from France, but their sacrifice has yet to earn them equal status with men half a century later.
By Daniel Flynn
PARIS, March 22 (Reuters) - France questioned on Thursday whether its intelligence service had blundered by allowing a young Muslim with a violent criminal record, spotted twice in Afghanistan, to become the first al Qaeda-inspired killer to strike on its soil.
Hardened by battling Islamic militants from its former North African colony of Algeria, France's security services have long been regarded as among the most effective in Europe, having prevented terror attacks on French soil for the last 15 years.
But Foreign Minister Alain Juppe acknowledged on Thursday there was reason to ask whether security flaws had permitted Mohamed Merah, 23, to carry out three deadly shootings within 10 days before he wasidentified, located and killed.
"One can ask the question whether there was a failure or not," Juppe told Europe 1 radio. "We need to bring some clarity to this."
Opposition leaders, including far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, demanded to know how Merah was able to shoot dead three Jewish children and four adults despite being allegedly under surveillance and having been questioned as recently as November by the DCRI domestic intelligence agency.
"Since the DCRI was following Mohamed Merah for a year, how come they took so long to locate him?" Socialist party security spokesman Francois Rebsamen asked on the JDD.fr website.
Merah, a French citizen of Algerian extraction, was also able to amass a cache of at least eight guns under the noses of French intelligence, including several Colt .45 pistols of the kind he used in the shootings, but also at least one Uzi submachine gun, a Sten gun and a pump action shotgun.
In Washington, two U.S. officials said Merah was on a U.S. government "no fly" list, barring him from boarding any U.S.-bound aircraft. The officials said that his name had been on the list for some time.
The officials said the entry included sufficient biometric detail to make clear the man on the blacklist was the same person involved in the Toulouse shootings. He was put on the list because U.S. officials deemed him a potential threat to aviation, one of the officials said.
Rebsamen said that after the shooting of two paratroopers in Montauban, near Toulouse, on March 15, Merah's name was on top of a DCRI list of 20 persons to be particularly closely watched in the southwestern Midi-Pyrenees region. Yet the agency appeared to have lost his trace.
KNOWN SINCE 2010
Investigators only tracked down Merah on Tuesday, a day after he had shot dead three children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in Toulouse. Interior Minister Claude Gueant said Merah was located with certainty when a police helicopter overflew his home and he came to the window.
Police came up with his name when a list of 576 people who viewed an Internet advertisement placed by the shooter's first victim was compared with the DCRI's watchlist on Monday and led them to the IP address of Merah's mother.
He had, however, been known to the Central Directorate of Interior Intelligence (DCRI) - the powerful super agency created by Sarkozy in 2008 - since 2010. Merah first visited Afghanistan that year, was stopped at a road checkpoint by Afghan police in Kandahar province and sent back to France by American forces.
His second visit ended after three months last October when he contracted hepatitis and returned home, according to the public prosecutor in charge of the case.
He was interviewed by DCRI agents in Toulouse in November but told them he had been to Afghanistan on holiday - and even showed them photographs, prosecutor Francois Molins said.
Merah told police negotiators at his besieged home on Wednesday that he trained at an al Qaeda camp in the lawless Pakistani border region of Waziristan during the same trip.
Interior Minister Claude Gueant rejected accusations of intelligence slip-ups.
"The DCRI follows lots of people involved in radical Islam. Expressing ideas, espousing Salafist beliefs, is not a sufficient reason to arrest someone," he said.
Although Merah could not have been arrested without proof of criminal intent, critics say authorities could have taken intermediate steps. French anti-terrorist law allows for the telephones of suspects to be tapped without judicial approval on the authority of the prime minister and an advisory panel.
Le Pen demanded to know why the security services had not kept Merah under tighter surveillance since his return last year, suggesting they had been diverted by President Nicolas Sarkozy's government to snoop on journalists and political opponents.
"Did they react fast enough? Was he watched closely enough?" Le Pen told reporters.
The agency's head, Bernard Sqarcini, is under investigation himself for illegal wire-tapping of Le Monde reporters.
Some ordinary citizens, who vote in first round of presidential elections on April 22, also suggested the authorities were slow to halt Merah's rampage.
"They should have got him a long time ago, they knew where he was and what he'd done," said Amairi Messaoud, 55, manager of a fast food restaurant in Paris. "How come he had been in court 15 times for minor offences and they didn't get him."
While allies Britain and Spain have suffered major terrorist attacks in the last decade, following the U.S.-led NATO invasion of Afghanistan to topple the Taliban, France had not seen a major attack on its soil since the mid-1990s.
The Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA) carried out a wave of attacks, including the bombing of a crowded commuter train in July 1995 which killed eight and injured 150 people.
The rise of al Qaeda, based in Afghanistan, posed a new challenge to French security services more used to watching Algerian-related extremists, often with connections in what some French officials called "Londonistan".
French-born Zacarias Moussaoui was sentenced to life imprisonment in the United States as one of the conspirators in the Sept. 11, 2001 al Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington.
The terror alert in France was raised after al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden singled it out as one of the worst offenders against Islam in October 2010.
But despite a spate of kidnappings of French citizens abroad, there were no attacks on mainland France. Officials say the intelligence services foiled several plots.
"In the last six years, at least eight attacks of the same type as the one that was perpetrated (by Merah) were broken up by the police without any publicity," said Roland Jacquard, head of the International Terrorism Observatory.
Merah's case awakened uncomfortable memories of GIA bomber Khaled Kelkal, the man behind the Paris Metro bombings, who was shot dead by police in 1995. Like Merah, he had a history of petty crime in France, having grown up in a poor suburb of Lyon.
Like Merah, he appears to have come into contact with a radical Islamic network in prison. But Kelkal also formed part of an international network, while Merah - despite his al Qaeda boasts - may have been a lone wolf extremist.
"The anti-terrorism services knew that one day, a single person, a self-radicalised person who was not necessarily being monitored by the police, could strike," said Jacquard. "Today, training camps also mean the Internet." (Additional reporting by Thierry Leveque, Gerard Bon and Vicky Buffery; Reporting By Daniel Flynn; Editing by Paul Taylor)