Thomas Jefferson and his slave girl

The festering sore of white supremacism and false entitlement.
“In 2018, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation of Monticello announced its plans to have an exhibit on the Life of Sally Hemings and affirmed that it was treating as a settled issue that Jefferson was the father of her known six children.”
“Jefferson’s sexual relationship with Hemings was first reported in 1802 by one of Jefferson’s enemies, a political journalist named James T. Callender, after he noticed several light-skinned slaves at Monticello.”

The Muslim Times

Who knows about Sally Hemings?
She was Thomas Jefferson’s slave.
Called his “mistress,” but how can you be a mistress when you were a slave, a child, and could not consent? Had absolutely no choice?
She bore him 6, perhaps as many as 8 children. He kept her locked in a basement room.
The room was recently unearthed, and DNA evidence has proven the lineage of Sally’s children.
She was betweeen 12 and 14 years old when he started his relationship with her, and Jefferson was in his forties. He freed the children that he had with her, but not Sally. Her daughter had to free her mother after Jefferson passed away.
This is not taught in schools. This side of history. We are supposed to consider the founding fathers as great men, fighting for justice and freedom, guided by God… when they are evil men. Selfish men who did…

View original post 81 more words

#Truth2Power #Ethics #Justice #History: #Scholars of the #Salaf That Rebelled Against #Tyranny!

Scholars of the Salaf That Rebelled Against Tyranny | Ahmed Hammuda | ISLAM21C | 30 Sept 2020

Part 1 | Part 2

The period of the Tābi’īn witnessed an unprecedented level of Muhaddithūn-led revolts against tyranny. This era saw the Revolution of the Qurrā’. Though the term Qurrā’ presently refers to someone versed in the specific field of Qur’ānic recitation, it had more of a general connotation in the era of the Tābi’īn to encompass scholars in general. This is because the disciplines of Qur’ānic recitation, jurisprudence (Fiqh), Hadith, and so on had yet to be categorised into separate disciplines. As such, the revolution saw the participation of scholars across all disciplines.

The revolution erupted in Iraq, specifically in the cities of Basra and Kufa. Led by the military commander Abd al-Rahmān b. al-Ash’ath al-Kindi (d. 84AH), many scholars participated in an attempt to depose ‘Abd al-Malik b. Marwān and his deputy of Iraq, al-Hajjāj b. Yūsuf, taking the pledge upon Allāh’s Book and the Sunnah of his Messenger to depose the ‘imams of misguidance’. Ibn Kathīr mentions that Ibn al-Ash’ath headed 33,000 thousand horsemen and 120,000-foot soldiers. [1] Imam al-Dhahabi adds that Ibn al-Ash’ath was supported by “supporters and reformers for Allāh due to al-Hajjāj abandoning the prescribed times for Salāh and his injustice and tyranny.” [2] The historian Khalīfa b. Khayyāt (d. 240AH) specifies the number of scholars in the army of Ibn al-Ash’ath in a narration on the authority of the Tābi’ī Mālik b. Dīnār (d. 127AH), who said: “500 Qurrā’ went out with Ibn Al-Ash’ath, all of whom opined in favour of fighting.”

The revolutionary scholars took control of Basra and Kufa, expelling the Umayyad administration from both cities led by al-Hajjāj. They were about to take control of all of Iraq. Umayyad rulership was shaken to its core by these revolts, except that the people of Iraq managed to assail those of al-Shām. Of the notable Muhaddithūn who joined Ibn al-Ash’ath was the noble companion Anas b. Malik rady Allāhu ‘anhu (d. 93AH), who is known for narrating many ahādith and was joined by many scholars of the Tābi’īn. Anas was over 90 years old when he participated in this revolt. Among the revolutionaries was the son of Anas, Al-Nadr b. Anas, who was also a narrator of hadīth, as was Muhammad b. Sa’d b. Abī Waqqās, the son of the famous companion Sa’d b. Abī Waqqās rady Allāhu ‘anhu. Both Bukhari and Muslim accepted narrations from Muhammad b. Sa’d b. Abī Waqqās as well as many other compilers of hadīth. According to Imam al-Dhahabi, Muhammad b. Sa’d “is a trustworthy Imam… who narrated an ample amount of knowledge and was among those who rose up against al-Hajjāj with Ibn al-Ash’ath but was captured during the day (battle) of Deir al-Jamājim and was killed by al-Hajjāj.” [3]

Among them was also Abu ‘Ubaidah, the son of ‘Abdullah b. Mas’ūd rady Allāhu ‘anhu; Mujāhid b. Jabr (d. 104AH), the leader of the Qurrā’ and the Imam of the people of Tafsir and Hadith; the great Imam ‘Amr b. Dīnār (d. 126AH), the “Shaykh of the Haram in his era” [4]; the jurist (Qādi) ‘Amir b. Sharrahil al-Sha’bi (d. 106AH), the famous Faqīh and Muhaddith ‘Abd al-Rahmān b. Abī Layla; and the noble Imam Sa’īd b. Jubair, who was known for his bravery in the face of power and was executed by al-Hajjāj in the year 95AH following his famous encounter. Anyone associated with the Science of Hadith will be familiar with these names. Each of these names appear numerous times in the famous six books of Hadith (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, al-Tirmidhi, al-Nasa’i, and Ibn Majah). Each of these names shine among the most authentic ‘golden’ chains of hadīth transmission, which testifies to their Fiqh and bravery. Most of them were martyred in this revolution against tyranny.

The battles were full of instances of gallantry. One of the leaders of the Qurrā’ by the name of Jabalah b. Zahr al-Ja’fi at one point exclaimed: “People, no fleeing is worse than yours, so fight on behalf of your religion and your dunya.” It is said that Sa’īd b. Jubair said something similar to this, while al-Sha’bi would say: “Fight them on account of their injustice, humiliating the weak, and killing off Salāh.” [5] As such, it is clear that the main motives for fighting were around ending political tyranny and social injustice.

The battle of Deir al-Jamājim in the year 83AH marked the end of a long series of battles that began in 81AH and which numbered more than 80. In many cases, Ibn al-Ash’ath would have the upper hand, until he and the revolutionaries were decisively defeated at Deir al-Jamājim, marking the end of the revolution.

Scholarly Backing 

The era of the notables of the first generation Tābi’īn marked a watershed moment in the general Sunni position concerning armed revolts against oppression. The defeat of the Qurrā at Deir al-Jamājim at the hands of al-Hajjāj put into question the effectiveness of armed revolt against tyranny and oppression. This is when verdicts (fatāwa) were issued outlawing armed revolt against tyrannical leaders, fuelling the positions of the Jabriyyah [6] and the Murji’ah, [7] both of whom had defeatist viewpoints that diminish personal accountability.

But despite the weakened position of armed resistance, political opposition to leaders remained ever-present, applying the directive of “enjoining good and forbidding evil” and “speaking a word of truth before an unjust ruler.” [8] This was even the case among those who chose to pacify leaders and hated going against them, as was the case with Imam b. Shihāb al-Zuhri, the Imam of Ahl al-Hadīth in his era, who chose to reconcile with the Umayyads despite his family’s hostility towards them. Since the end of the era of the Tābi’īn, things began to verge towards seemingly more peaceful political opposition, lacking the type of armed rebellion that had been seen. It seems, however, that many scholars of Fiqh and Hadith continued to uphold the first opinion.

Imam Abu Hanīfa al-Nu’mān (d. 150AH), the founder of the Hanafi school of thought and author of the Musnad of Abu Hanīfa, stood behind the revolt led by Zaid b. Ali b. al-Husain b. Ali bin Abī Tālib (to whom the Zaidi school of jurisprudence is attributed) in Kufa in 122AH against the Umayyad Caliph, Hishām b. Abdul Malik. [9] After Zaid’s unsuccessful rebellion, Abu Hanīfa supported the revolution of the Muhaddith Imam Muhammad b. Abdullah b. Hasan b. al-Hasan b. Ali b. Abī Tālib, who was nicknamed al-Nafs al-Zakiyyah (the pure soul). The latter had revolted against the rule of al-Mansūr al-Abbāsi (d. 158AH) in the year 145AH.

Abu Hanīfa narrated in his Musnad, on the authority of ‘Ikrimah, on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbās rady Allāhu ‘anhu, that the Prophet said: “The master of the martyrs is Hamza, and a man who stood up to an unjust Imam, ordering him and forbidding him…” Abu Hanīfa was beaten more than once to force him to lead the judiciary, but he insisted on his refusal. It is said that he died as a result of being poisoned by the Caliph al-Mansūr because of speaking truth to power and refusing state employment. [10]

Imam Mālik b. Anas (d. 179AH), the founder of the Maliki school of thought and author of al-Muwatta (a primary Hadith reference), also backed the revolution of al-Nafs al-Zakiyyah. Imam Mālik would often report the hadīth: “Divorce does not apply in the case of coercion”, hinting at the fact that people had been coerced to pledge allegiance to al-Mansūr al-‘Abbāsi by vowing they would divorce their wives in the case of revoking their pledge to al-Mansūr. As such, a coerced pledge of allegiance is invalid, and people should instead have the choice to give the pledge to al-Nafs al-Zakiyyah if they so wished.

In return, Imam Mālik was arrested, beaten until his shoulder was dislocated, and was carried back home unconscious. However, he refused to back down from his position and uttered his timeless words regarding objecting to the deviations of the political establishment: “I was beaten for the same thing that Sa’īd b. al-Musayib, Muhammad b. al-Munkadir (d. 130AH), and Rabi’ah (b. Abdulrahman d. 136AH) were beaten for. There is no good in those not harmed in such a matter.” This was related by al-Dhahabi in his book Tārīkh al-Islām.

These events demonstrate the gulf between the understanding and actions of the leaders of the earliest generations and the narrative of many contemporary groups who claim to follow the Salaf, who centre their Da’wah instead on unabated obedience or outright flattery of oppressive leaders. Every Muslim should acquaint themselves with their history, reviewing the actions of those who holistically understood and implemented the Shari’a’s texts, against the many claims made by today’s charlatans.

The next article in this series will summarise the development in “revolutionary” scholarly thought, so to speak, across the three first generations of the Salaf. It will reveal if the behaviour of fawning over the political leadership ever existed among the leading scholars of the Muhadithūn of old. And all praise and thanks belongs to Allāh.



Sourced from an article by Dr. Bara’ Nizar Rayan – rendered into English by Ahmed Hammuda

Dr. Bara’ Nizar Rayan is the son of the late Sheikh. Prof. Nizar Rayan, who was Professor in Islamic Law at the Islamic University of Gaza and an authority on Hadīth. Prof. Nizar Rayan was killed on the 1st of January 2009 by a Zionist airstrike, along with 15 members of his family, rahimahum Allāh. Bara’ is a lecturer at the Islamic University of Gaza and an author who regularly writes for Al Jazeera Arabic and other media outlets. He is one of a few surviving members of the Rayan family.

[1] Al-Bidāyah wa Al-Nihāyah by Ibn Kathīr (d. 774AH)

[2] Siyar A’lām Al-Nubalā’ by al-Dhahabi (d. 749AH)

[3] Siyar A’lām Al-Nubalā’ by al-Dhahabi (d. 749AH)

[4] Siyar A’lām Al-Nubalā’ by al-Dhahabi (d. 749AH)

[5] Al-Bidāyah wa Al-Nihāyah by Ibn Kathīr (d. 774AH)

[6] The belief that man has no choice and is driven to do what he does by an external force he has no control over.

[7] The belief that internal ‘belief’ and the ‘kalimah’ are absolutely enough for one’s salvation regardless of the sins a person commits.

[8] As reported in numerous ahādith

[9] Al-Kāmil by Ibn Athīr (d. 630AH)

[10] Manāqib Al-Imām Abi Hanīfa by al-Kurdi

The views expressed on Islam21c and its connected channels do not necessarily represent the views of the organisation.


Why we should start with #women — Islamic Law Blog

By Mona Oraby This is the second of two essays on Islamic law and pedagogy written by Mona Oraby. The first is “Islamic law and the liberal arts… 1,518 more words

Why we should start with women — Islamic Law Blog

This is the second of two essays on Islamic law and pedagogy written by Mona Oraby. The first is Islamic law and the liberal arts.”

The open curriculum at Amherst means that I mostly teach a captive audience. There are no gen-ed requirements to drive enrollment. Students who show up for my course on Islamic Constitutionalism, especially those who will not receive credit toward their major, have some genuine interest in the topic. But what is it about the course that interests them? What do they hope to learn? I ask these questions at the start of each semester. And each semester there’s little variation in what students report. Couched in their interests in comparative legal traditions, in a drive to become better informed about the world beyond their milieu, are subtle hints that they, like most people, are horrified by the news. Students come to my class to learn about Muslim women and religious minorities in Muslim-majority countries. Is it as bad for them as they say? 

Here, remarkably, the Internet is too vast to be of much help to the novice. Fortunately for me and their peers, many undergrads today cultivate in high school AP World History classes and later hone in college seminars a working, if not robust, skepticism of Orientalizing discourses. Many have already read Edward Said. They know better than to take sensational accounts of violence against women and minorities at face value. And they have a sharp intuition that intersectionality has universal application and relevance. But they know less where to begin to understand how sex, gender, and religious difference matter in cultural contexts dissimilar from their own. They have also rarely been invited to consider resonances between the legal cultures they are most familiar with and the legal cultures of societies that seem to them completely foreign. To get at these divergences and convergences—historically and practically—requires a shared vocabulary. Language also implicates authority.

I begin the course where I expect students will want to start: with women. But not in a ripped-from-the headlines way. Instead, I assign two short commentaries for the first day of class: “Five myths about the sharia” by Asifa Quraishi-Landes and “The politics of inaccuracy and the case for ‘Islamic law’” by Lena Salaymeh. This move does several things at once. It acknowledges students’ motivations for taking the course, anticipates challenging conversations and names the nature of those challenges, gets students thinking about nomenclature and its attendant politics, introduces students to Islamic legal studies and legal pluralism, and previews authors whose scholarship we later engage. Most importantly, on day one, we begin the vital work of confronting dominant discourses and developing skills to think and talk more critically about them. That is to say, the agenda for the first day sees the students’ wager and raises it.

The two commentaries I assign are written by women scholars in Islamic legal studies who represent a range of expertise characteristic of this field (comparative and constitutional law, as well as critical historiography and medieval Islamic jurisprudence). These commentaries also demonstrate a kind of translation work that subject experts do for non-specialist audiences, not in the linguistic sense but in an accessibility sense, as in mobilizing their knowledge to address questions that predominate a public conversation beyond their scholarly milieu. In her Washington Post op-ed, Quraishi-Landes addresses myths commonly attributed to sharī‘a and Muslims by non-Muslims in the West. And in her essay for The Immanent Frame, Salaymeh explains that imprecise use of terms like “sharī‘a” and “Islamic law” among non-specialists is a problem for and among subject experts too. Conversations about Islam and Muslims between and across these divisions are hindered by a lack of clarity around the terms of the conversation. How do we (as scholars speaking to each other, or professors speaking with students, or students speaking to each other, and so on) advance scholarship, public debate, and pedagogy absent minimal agreement about the language that names our inquiry?

When a professor foregrounds language trouble as a problem for scholars and not just a general public, students become less anxious about unfamiliar terms and more invested in a conversation that sorts their various meanings. It takes some time for students to get used to using words that are used differently by different scholars, but naming the confusion around specific terms is an effective way to understand the range of meanings and their referents. A concepts tracker grounds this exercise: As we work through the syllabus, students track in a shared document and through direct citation and exposition what scholars mean by “law,” “sharī‘a,” “sharī‘a law,” “Islamic law,” and “fiqh.” They actively sort through this lexicon during discussion and in their writing. They develop proficiency in the range of meanings that these concepts denote, and how they operate in specific cultural and political contexts—as in the cases of Amina Lawal in Nigeria, Zafran Bibi in Pakistan, and Lina Joy in Malaysia. Only then does the distinction between human fallibility and divine revelation become clear. Only then do they understand the stakes of calling references to Islam in modern constitutions “Islamic law” rather than “sharī‘a.”

What matters here is not the lesson in linguistics. Students mispronounce the Arabic letters qāf and kāf (and others) early and often and I don’t correct them. Learning the difference is not an objective for my teaching. But foregrounding the language used to talk about codification, personal status, legal modernization, constitutional establishment and repugnancy clauses, and the like compels students to be more attentive to what they do with their words. This alertness matters well beyond our learning context. Training students to pay attention to concepts and their application makes the gender misattribution that rears its head during discussions and in written assessments that much more urgent to address. Students routinely attribute male gender pronouns to the scholars whose work I assign, an impulse that, ironically, chafes against two issues they care deeply about: gender recognition and the movement to decolonize curricula in higher education. These days gender pronouns are listed in email signatures, are offered up during verbal introductions, and written on the name tents that students draw up on the first day of class. Students attuned to the historic silencing of BIPOC scholars from telling their own history sometimes slide easily into attributing male gender identity to expert voices when the histories (and names) these students encounter are new to them.

If we want to talk about the legal status of Muslim women, I say to students and colleagues, we need to also consider the politics of authoritative scholarship within Islamic studies. Learning about Muslim women cannot be disarticulated from the research done by women scholars and—as Kecia Ali shows—how that writing gets taken up, or not, and by whom and when. Gender bias in the field of Islamic studies means that certain stories about women and law and Islam get told and retold by male scholars more often than by female or nonbinary scholars across the range of scholarly work, not least citational practice. Students meet women scholars first in my class because what pedagogues decide to put on syllabi matters for gender equity in and beyond our fields. Although undergrads are largely removed from scholarly activity, they are a target consuming public of what scholars produce. Who my students meet on the syllabus shapes the kind of learning they will do, the knowledge they share with their friends and relatives and other professors, and, ultimately, the kinds of stories they tell about women and law and Islam.

Scholars and teachers should start with women by starting with women scholars. And we should start with women scholars even when our students do not want to know about women, when our courses are not about gender discrimination or seem not to concern gender in any substantive way. Gender misattribution offers up an opportunity to challenge deep-seated ideas about scholarly authority, and authority more broadly, right in our own classrooms—whether we teach in person or online. We should stage this encounter at every turn. When male scholars predominate our syllabi, the possibilities latent in an encounter staged otherwise do not arise. It is only when students confront their susceptibility for gender misattribution—when they say “he” and I say “she” enough times during discussion—that they take more care to learn about the who behind the what of scholarship.

By mid-semester, students in Islamic Constitutionalism are not only more careful about how they and others  use “law,” “sharī‘a,” “sharī‘a law,” “Islamic law,” and “fiqh.” They also develop a habit of reading up on the scholars whose work I assign. They familiarize themselves with their research areas. They read other scholarship. They chat with me and their peers about what new, interesting thing they learned from that article or essay or book. They relay the gist of conversations with friends and family that reveal direct applications of the concept work we’ve done all semester. The tendency toward gender misattribution recedes by the end of the semester. But more importantly for why this class matters after it’s over: students come to know better where to look and who to ask the next time they have questions about Islamic law.


#MusjidAlAqsa #UAE #Bahrain #Palestine: #Israel normalisation may partition Al-Aqsa Mosque: Analysts!

Israel normalisation may partition Al-Aqsa Mosque: Analysts | Mersiha Gadzo | AL JAZEERA | 14 Sept 2020

A clause in the UAE-Bahrain accords with Israel leaves ‘door wide open’ to Jewish prayer at holy site, analysts


A statement embedded in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain normalisation agreements with Israel, brokered by the United States, may lead to the division of the Al-Aqsa compound because it violates the status quo, analysts say.

According to a report by NGO Terrestrial Jerusalem (TJ), the statements mark a “radical change in the status quo” and have “far-reaching and potentially explosive ramifications”.

Under the status quo affirmed in 1967, only Muslims can pray within al-Haram al-Sharif, also known as the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which consists of 14 hectares (35 acres).

Non-Muslims can visit but cannot pray at the site. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu affirmed this status quo in a formal declaration in 2015.

However, a clause included in the recent accords between Israel and Gulf Arab states indicates this may no longer be the case.

According to the joint statement between the US, Israel, and the UAE released on August 13 by US President Donald Trump: “As set forth in the Vision of Peace, all Muslims who come in peace may visit and pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem’s other holy sites should remain open for peaceful worshippers of all faiths.”
Bahrain follows UAE to normalise ties with Israel

But Israel defines Al-Aqsa as the structure of the one mosque, as does the statement, the TJ report clarified.

“According to Israel [and apparently to the United States], anything on the Mount that is not the structure of the mosque is defined as ‘one of Jerusalem’s other holy sites’ and open to prayer by all – including Jews,” the report said.

“This choice of terminology is neither random nor a misstep, and cannot [be] seen as anything but an intentional albeit surreptitious attempt to leave the door wide open to Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, thereby radically changing the status quo.”

The same statement was repeated in the accord with Bahrain, announced on Friday.

Joint Statement of the United States, the Kingdom of Bahrain, and the State of Israel— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 11, 2020

Khaled Zabarqa, a Palestinian lawyer specialising in Al-Aqsa and Jerusalem affairs, told Al Jazeera the statement “very clearly says the mosque is not under Muslim sovereignty”.

“When the UAE accepted such a clause, it agrees and gives a green light for Israeli sovereignty over Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Zabarqa said.

“It’s a clear and massive violation for the international and legal status quo of Al-Aqsa Mosque [conceived] after the occupation of Jerusalem in 1967, which says everything inside the walls is under Jordanian custody.”

‘This is not innocent’

Palestinians have long been concerned over possible attempts to partition the holy mosque, as was the case with Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque.

Over the years, there has been a growing Temple Movement, mostly led by “the extreme nationalistic religious Jewish right” that seeks to change the status quo, the report by TJ said.

Some call for Jewish prayer on the holy compound, while others aim to build the Third Temple over the ruins of the Dome of the Rock, which according to messianic belief would usher the coming of the messiah.

The Israeli NGO Ir Amim has published numerous reports over the years warning of this once-fringe group, which today is part of the political and religious mainstream and benefits from close ties with Israeli authorities.

These activists believe allowing Jewish prayer at the compound and dividing the holy site between Muslims and Jews would be a step towards asserting sovereignty, and eventually attaining their ultimate goal of building the temple.

In recent years, an increasing number of Jewish visitors have been attempting to pray at the site in violation of the status quo.
Al Jazeera World – Jerusalem: Dividing al-Aqsa

Daniel Seidemann, an Israeli attorney specialising in the geopolitics of Jerusalem, told Al Jazeera he is “deeply concerned about what is happening”.

“What we’re witnessing in Jerusalem is the ascendency of the religious factions that weaponise religion. We’re on a trajectory that will lead us to a conflagration.

“We know these clauses are worked out together, every single word in a joint team of US and Israel. The transition from the term Haram al-Sharif to the term Al-Aqsa Mosque is not an accident,” Seidemann said.

‘Written with malice’

A more blatant statement was included in Trump’s “deal of the century” plan for the Middle East, unveiled in late January alongside Netanyahu at the White House.

Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, has been the main point person on the proposal, and Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the US, has been linked to the wording of the deal.  

The plan stipulated “the status quo at the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif should be continued”, but in the following sentence it also said: “People of every faith should be permitted to pray on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif.”

The clause was met with controversy, prompting US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman to walk it back at a press briefing on January 28. “There’s nothing in the plan that would impose any alteration of the status quo that’s not subject to agreement of all parties,” he said.

A senior US official – familiar with both the parties and the issues – told Al Jazeera he had “no doubts that the language in the Israel-UAE statement was written with malice of forethought by the Israeli side, without a clear understanding from the Emirates, and with the complicity of a clueless American team”.

“The rapid walk-back by Friedman of what was in the Trump plan attests to this: Dermer likely inserted it, Kushner didn’t have a clue,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“The fact that it was Friedman who walked it back, rather than the White House, also means the Trump plan language is still official and determining if push comes to shove… Even if the Kushner-Friedman dolts understand the ramifications, it is clear they don’t care.”
Tension at Al-Aqsa compound as Muslim, Jewish festivals overlap

Eddie Vasquez, senior adviser and spokesperson at the US Department of State, in an email to Al Jazeera referred to a fact sheet published after the “deal of the century” was released, which said the status quo will be preserved.

“All Muslims are welcome to peacefully visit Al-Aqsa Mosque,” one of the points said. But there was no clarification as to why the term Al-Aqsa Mosque was used instead of Haram al-Sharif in the accords with the UAE and Bahrain.

‘Israeli sovereignty over Al-Aqsa’

The normalisation agreements come as Israeli authorities recently installed loudspeakers on the eastern and western side of the Al-Aqsa compound last week, without the permission of the Waqf.

The holy compound is administered by the Islamic Waqf, seated in Jordan. According to the status quo, Israel is only responsible for security outside of the gates.

Al Aqsa [Mersiha Gadzo/Al Jazeera]

A clause embedded in the normalisation agreements marks a ‘radical change in the status quo’ at the holy Al-Aqsa compound in occupied East Jerusalem, observers say [File: Mersiha Gadzo/Al Jazeera] 

“The Israel police said it’s for security reasons, but we don’t really see this security reason,” Omar Kiswani, director of the Al-Aqsa compound, told Al Jazeera.

“We consider this action an attempt to impose control over the Al-Aqsa Mosque and to undermine the Waqf’s role in the mosque,” Kiswani said.

Zabarqa said Jordan, as the custodian of the site, has “no power to deal with the occupation [authorities]”.

“I believe Jordan needs to make a change and make new allies such as with Turkey. It has to use the financial and diplomatic relations with Israel as a card to put pressure, but it seems it’s weak enough to stand beside the Americans,” Zabarqa said.

TJ noted in its report that there was no mention in the accord of the Waqf and its autonomous role.

“The Muslim claims to Haram al-Sharif/Al-Aqsa are being transformed from one of proprietorship to that of ‘welcome guest’ with the right to visit and pray at Al-Aqsa,” it said.

‘A landmine’

Zabarqa said the clause is “groundbreaking for the Israeli-American narrative” and believes “the UAE accepted to be the spearhead of it”.

Zabarqa noted in 2014 that the UAE was involved in the transfer of more than 30 buildings to illegal Israeli settlers in Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem.

“This shows us the clear role the Emirates play in changing the status quo term to another one that recognises Israel sovereignty over Al-Aqsa,” Zabarqa said.

Seidemann said when the Emiratis and Bahrainis take part in the ceremony on Tuesday hosted by Trump at the White House to sign a “historic declaration of peace” with Israel, they should demand clarification to be assured the status quo is intact.

“All you would need is for Kushner and Netanyahu to say: ‘I continue to believe what I said in 2015.’ They’ve been asked to do that for the last two weeks, they haven’t done that. This is not innocent,” Seidemann said.

“This is a landmine the Trump administration and Netanyahu are leaving for the next administration, the next Israeli government. They’re tinkering with Haram al-Sharif/Al-Aqsa/Temple Mount. It will light a fuse,” Seidemann said.

“The fuse may be a long fuse, but it will blow up and it’s not too late to prevent it from blowing up.”

With reporting by Dareen Jubeh in occupied East Jerusalem


Is Netanyahu changing rules around Al-Aqsa Mosque?


#Iranophobia #Turkphobia: A new message resounds in the #Arab world: Get #Ankara!

A new message resounds in the Arab world: Get Ankara | David Hearst | MIDDLEEASTEYE | 12 September 2020

The intended target of the UAE-Israel alliance is not Iran but Turkey, whose regional clout poses a threat to Gulf rulers

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives for a news conference in Ankara

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives for a news conference in Ankara on 24 August (AFP)

Months before the announcement that the UAE was going to recognise Israel, breaking the status quo that normalisation would come only after Palestinians achieved statehood, analysts puzzled over US President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century”.

Why, they asked themselves, is the US president investing so much energy in a deal that Palestinian leaders boycott, that Arab states reject, and that will never work? The announcement by Abu Dhabi did not answer their question. 

Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, have struggled to get other states in the region to normalise relations with Israel . 

So far only Bahrain, Serbia and Kosovo have said they will follow suit. The big, or populous, states have refused, with no buy-in from Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Oman, or Kuwait.

No amount of spin at the White House next week will disguise the fact that Israeli PM Binjamin Netanyahu will be shaking hands with the leaders of only two small Arab states in a ceremony that Trump will dub historic.

Trump blinks first

If Palestinians were never the intended target of this deal, who was? Kushner’s aim is a Jewish national religious one; it is to establish Greater Israel as a permanent fact on the ground. 

But against whom is the Emirati-Israeli alliance supposed to be defending itself? Israel had been saying for some time to Arab diplomats that it no longer regarded Iran as a military threat. The head of Mossad, Yossi Cohen, told Arab officials that Iran was “containable”. 

There are foreign actors in this push to declare Turkey the new outlaw of the Eastern Mediterranean

Trump came nose-to-nose with a military confrontation with Iran, and he blinked first.

Iran openly launched a volley of missiles at US troops in Iraq in retaliation for the drone strike that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad in January.

Israeli warplanes have repeatedly tested this theory in Syria and Lebanon, striking Iranian targets and Iranian-backed fighters with impunity, with no response from Tehran and scant response from Hezbollah.

Trump’s response was to disband the strike force he had assembled in the Gulf. If Iran is not the target of this fledging alliance, then who is?

The Turks are coming 

The answer came this week in a heavily orchestrated series of statements from Arab leaders meeting in the Arab League. The real enemy turns out to be a member of Nato, for many decades a keeper of airborne US nuclear bombs.

The new foreign invader threatening the Arab world is not the Persian, nor indeed the Russian – but the Turk.Is Turkey heading for a cold war with the EU over offshore Cyprus gas?Read More »

As if thrown into action by a communal electric switch, the entire shoreline of the Eastern Mediterranean, from Lebanon to Egypt, is ostensibly up in arms against its northern neighbour with alleged pretensions of restoring Ottoman rule.

The charge has been led by UAE Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash. Speaking at the Arab League, Gargash said: “The Turkish interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries is a clear example of negative interference in the region.”

That is quite a statement from a minister of a country that toppled an Egyptian president, and whose planes have bombed Libya’s Tripoli in an effort to oust another internationally recognised government.

Gargash accused Turkey of threatening the security and safety of maritime traffic in Mediterranean waters, in a clear violation of relevant international laws and charters and of the sovereignty of states.

Defining the enemy

Gargash was followed by Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, who said that Turkish interventions in many Arab countries represented the most important threat to Arab national security.

“Egypt will not stand idly by in the face of Turkish ambitions that are manifesting in northern Iraq, Syria and Libya in particular,” he said.

The meeting was chaired by the Palestinian delegation, which came prepared with an angry draft statement condemning the UAE-Israel agreement as treason.

Their statement was dropped by the council, which decided to set up a permanent subcommittee to monitor Turkish aggression and report back to it at each subsequent meeting.

UAE Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash speaks in Dubai in 2018 (AFP)
UAE Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash speaks in Dubai in 2018 (AFP)

The chorus of statements against Turkey last week, did not go unnoticed in Ankara. 

A senior Turkish government source also attributed it to the Christian-Zionist Evangelical alliance in the US.

“The UAE has been undertaking the job to isolate Turkey in operational levels,” the source, who asked to remain anonymous, said

“They have been financing it. However, the real enablers of this strategy are Israel and some US politicians close to the pro-Israeli lobby.

“They have been part of any effort to establish an alliance against Turkey.

“They have been backing the UAE in the interest of the Zionist and Evangelical alliance, especially before the presidential elections in November which could bring electoral support for their offices.”

Turkish bases

The irony is that another Arab League subcommittee against normalisation with Israel still exists to uphold the land-for-peace principle established by the Arab Peace Initiative created by Saudi Arabia in 2002.

This committee was ignored. Israel is not the enemy of the Arab League; Turkey is.

The Jordan Times, the official voice of the kingdom, published an article that stated: “Turkish troops and Ankara backed militias are active in three Arab countries: Libya, Syria and Iraq. This is a geopolitical reality that the Arab world, as well as the international community, must acknowledge and react to. 

“In fact, Turkey’s territorial, political and economic ambitions in these countries and beyond are advertised by top Turkish leaders including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“Turkey now has military bases in Qatar, Libya, Somalia, Northern Cyprus, Syria and Iraq; and not all with the consent of legitimate governments.”

Macron’s crusade 

There are other foreign actors in this push to declare Turkey the new outlaw of the Eastern Mediterranean.

The French military’s role in supporting the Gaddafi-era army general, Khalifa Haftar, in his war-crime-ridden attempt to capture the Libyan capital is as well-documented as the use of Emirati planes and Russian snipers.

Recently, however, during his forays into Beirut, President Emmanuel Macron has further spread France’s rhetorical wings.

The fight is about the leadership of the Sunni Arab world. Saudi Arabia’s claim to it has now gone, no more so than when it finally normalises relations with Israel

On the first of two trips to the shattered Lebanese capital, Macron said: “If France doesn’t play its role, Iranians, Turks and Saudis will interfere with Lebanese domestic affairs, whose economic and geopolitical interests are likely to be to the detriment of the Lebanese.”

Macron flew on to Baghdad, where he launched his “sovereignty initiative” – a clear reference to Turkey, an Iraqi official was quoted as saying. Ankara launched a cross-border air and ground assault on Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq in June, infuriating Baghdad, which called it a violation of Iraqi territory.

In the meantime, French warships have been holding joint exercises with Greek ones amid an oil-drilling dispute off Cyprus, which Turkey claims violates its maritime borders.

“Turkey is no longer a partner in this region,” Macron told reporters before a summit in Corsica this week, noting that Europeans must be “clear and firm” with Erdogan’s government about its “inadmissible behaviour”. European countries should lay out “red lines” with Turkey, Macron added.

Turkish unity 

Macron maintains that his dispute is not with Turks, but with Erdogan.

This tactic has been tried before and failed. The problem is that in confronting UAE-backed forces in Libya, or upholding Palestinian rights in Jerusalem, or bombing the Kurdistan Workers’ Party in Iraq, or targeting President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria, Erdogan has the full support of the Turkish army and all major Turkish political parties. 

This support is neither uniform nor constant. Doubts have been expressed domestically about the wisdom of Turkish troops entering Libya and Syria, but those have subsided as the Turkish army and drones have acquitted themselves. The Putinisation of ErdoganRead More »

Whatever criticisms Erdogan’s many domestic opponents have over the legitimacy of continued purges of civil servants and soldiers, routine arrests of journalists, the closure of newspapers and universities, and the way the presidency has subordinated parliament, they back Erdogan as a national leader in foreign policy – particularly in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The man whose party is doing more to erode Erdogan’s conservative Islamist base than any other Turkish politician, Ahmet Davutoglu, is a veteran of international negotiations and a former prime minister.

Davutoglu recently said: “Macron must abide by his borders and stop insulting Turkey and its president.

“I strongly condemn Macron’s arrogant statements, which demonstrate his colonial mentality and ignore Turkey’s democracy and the free will of its people.”

Macron has several problems in declaring a new crusade. For one, he is hard put to shake off the history of French colonialism in North Africa and Lebanon. 

Secondly, his attempt to equate Erdogan with “Islamofascism” hits the buffers when the Turkish secular deep state is in lockstep with the president’s project. It was a government dictated by the Turkish military that invaded Northern Cyprus in 1974 after a Greek coup.

Confronting Ankara

Why is Turkey being confronted now? For all the domestic reservations over his role as president, Erdogan has created Turkey as an independent country whose armed forces are capable of confronting Russian forces in Syria and Libya, but one that keeps its place at the negotiating table with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Turkey’s economy is the size of Saudi Arabia’s, and its military is self-sustaining. Turkey started manufacturing high-technology drones when Israel and the US refused to supply them. It is forgotten today, but Israeli planes once trained on Turkish airfields because of the shortage of airspace back home, according to informed Turkish sources.

A drilling rig passes on the Bosphorus Strait en route to the Black Sea in August 2019 (AFP)
A drilling rig passes on the Bosphorus Strait en route to the Black Sea in August 2019 (AFP)

When it discovers gas in the Black Sea, Turkish companies have the technology to develop the fields and supply the domestic market – unlike Egypt, whose reliance on British, Italian and US companies means it reaps a fraction of the rewards from its gas fields.

When confronted by armed soldiers, as they were in the 2016 attempted coup (funded by the UAE ), Turks are fiercely proud, and they fight.

All of this should cause western politicians to pause before creating another enemy and starting another conflict in this region. It is crystal clear where this agenda originates: it comes from Israel and the Gulf states, with no business or interests in Cyprus.

Dangerous adventurism

Israel tolerates no pushback against its central aim of establishing its borders over the territory it has illegally occupied. In its intelligence estimate for the year 2020, Israel’s military intelligence division included Turkey among the list of organisations and countries that threaten Israeli national security.

Estimates, however, excluded the outbreak of a military confrontation between the two countries. 

Macron should learn from the collective experiences of Tony Blair, George W Bush, David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy, and stay away from this foreign adventure

The totalitarian and murderous Emirati and Saudi regimes have no such qualms.

They fear Turkey’s pull over their populations as a Sunni Muslim leader. The fight is about the leadership of the Sunni Arab world. Saudi Arabia’s claim to it has now gone, no more so than when it finally normalises relations with Israel. 

France lacks the stomach or the stamina to start yet another conflict in the Middle East. At home, the wunderkind of French politics has become France’s most unpopular president. 

Macron’s France is as divided as any other western nation. It is as beset by Covid-19 and the inexorable rise of the right wing as Britain is divided by Brexit. Macron should learn from the collective experiences of Tony Blair, George W Bush, David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy, and stay away from this foreign adventure. It will not end well for him if he persists.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

David Hearst is the editor in chief of Middle East Eye.

Read more

Politics A new Great Game has begun in the Eastern Mediterranean Marco Carnelos

Diplomacy Why Saudi Arabia and the UAE are targeting Turkey Mehmet Solmaz

Israel-UAE deal UAE-Israel deal: The new hegemons of the Middle East David Hearst


#Impunity #TravestyOfJustice #Railroaded: #CognitiveDissident Julian #Assange, #Prometheus Bound!

Julian Assange, Prometheus Bound | Pepe Escobar | Consortium News | 8 Sep 2020

He is being punished not for stealing fire – but for exposing power under the light of truth and provoking the god of Exceptionalism.

Police ejecting Assange from embassy, April 11, 2019. (YouTube)

Police ejecting Julian Assange from Ecuadorian embassy in London, April 11, 2019. (YouTube)

This is the tale of an Ancient Greek tragedy reenacted in AngloAmerica.

Amid thundering silence and nearly universal indifference, chained, immobile, invisible, a squalid Prometheus was transferred from the gallows for a show trial in a faux Gothic court built on the site of a medieval prison.   

Kratos, impersonating Strength, and Bia, impersonating Violence, had duly chained Prometheus, not to a mountain in the Caucasus, but to solitary confinement in a high-security prison, subject to relentless psychological torture. All along the Western watchtowers, no Hephaestus volunteered to forge in his smithy a degree of reluctance or even a sliver of pity.

Prometheus is being punished not for stealing fire – but for exposing power under the light of truth, thus provoking the unbounded ire of  Zeus The Exceptionalist, who’s only able to stage his crimes under multiple veils of secrecy.

Prometheus pierced the myth of secrecy – which envelops Zeus’s ability to control the human spectrum. And that is anathema.

“Prometheus Being Chained by Vulcan,” 1623 oil painting by Dirck van Baburen. (Vulcan Rijksmuseum, Wikimedia Commons)

For years, debased, hack stenographers worked relentlessly to depict Prometheus as a lowly trickster and inconsequential forger.

Abandoned, smeared, demonized, Prometheus was comforted by only a small chorus of Oceanids – Craig Murray, John Pilger, Daniel Ellsberg, Wiki warriors, Consortium writers. Prometheus was denied even the basic tools to organize a defense that might at least rattle Zeus’s cognitive dissonant narrative.

Oceanus, the Titan father of the Oceanids, could not possibly urge Prometheus to appease Zeus.

Fleetingly, Prometheus might have revealed to the chorus that exposing secrecy was not what best suited his heart’s content. His plight might also, in the long run, revive popular attachment to the civilizing arts.

One day, Prometheus was visited by Io, a human maiden. He may have forecasted she would engage in no future travels, and she would bear him two offspring. And he may have foreseen that one of their descendants – an unnamed epigone of Heracles – many generations hence, would release him, figuratively, from his torment.

Zeus and his prosecutorial minions don’t have much of a case against Prometheus, apart from possession and dissemination of classified Exceptional information.

Still it was eventually up to Hermes — the messenger of the Gods, and significantly, the conduit of News — to be sent down by Zeus in uncontrollable anger to demand that Prometheus admits he was guilty of trying to overthrow the rules-based order established by the Supreme Exceptional.

This is what’s being ritualized at the current show trial, which was never about Justice.

Prometheus won’t be tamed. In his mind, he will be relieving Tennyson’s Ulysses: “to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

So Zeus may finally strike him with the thunderbolt of Exceptionalism, and Prometheus will be hurled into the abyss.

Prometheus’s theft of the secrecy of power, though, is irreversible. His fate will certainly prompt the late entrance of Pandora and her jar of evils – complete with unforeseen consequences.

Whatever the verdict reached in that 17th century court, it’s far from certain that Prometheus will enter History just as a mere object of blame for human folly.

Because now the heart of the matter is that the mask of Zeus has fallen.



Your Man in the Public Gallery: the #Assange #Hearing Day 6!

Your Man in the Public Gallery: the Assange Hearing Day 6 | CRAIGMURRAY.ORG.UK | 8  

I went to the Old Bailey today expecting to be awed by the majesty of the law, and left revolted by the sordid administration of injustice.

There is a romance which attaches to the Old Bailey. The name of course means fortified enclosure and it occupies a millennia old footprint on the edge of London’s ancient city wall. It is the site of the medieval Newgate Prison, and formal trials have taken place at the Old Bailey for at least 500 years, numbering in the hundreds of thousands. For the majority of that time, those convicted even of minor offences of theft were taken out and executed in the alleyway outside. It is believed that hundreds, perhaps thousands, lie buried under the pavements.

The hefty Gothic architecture of the current grand building dates back no further than 1905, and round the back and sides of that is wrapped some horrible cheap utility building from the 1930’s. It was through a tunnelled entrance into this portion that five of us, Julian’s nominated family and friends, made our nervous way this morning. We were shown to Court 10 up many stairs that seemed like the back entrance to a particularly unloved works canteen. Tiles were chipped, walls were filthy and flakes of paint hung down from crumbling ceilings. Only the security cameras watching us were new – so new, in fact, that little piles of plaster and brick dust lay under each.

Court 10 appeared to be a fairly bright and open modern box, with pleasant light woodwork, jammed as a mezzanine inside a great vault of the old building. A massive arch intruded incongruously into the space and was obviously damp, sheets of delaminating white paint drooping down from it like flags of forlorn surrender. The dock in which Julian would be held still had a bulletproof glass screen in front, like Belmarsh, but it was not boxed in. There was no top to the screen, no low ceiling, so sound could flow freely over and Julian seemed much more in the court. It also had many more and wider slits than the notorious Belmarsh Box, and Julian was able to communicate quite readily and freely through them with his lawyers, which this time he was not prevented from doing.

Rather to our surprise, nobody else was allowed into the public gallery of court 10 but us five. Others like John Pilger and Kristin Hrafnsson, editor in chief of Wikileaks, were shunted into the adjacent court 9 where a very small number were permitted to squint at a tiny screen, on which the sound was so inaudible John Pilger simply left. Many others who had expected to attend, such as Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders, were simply excluded, as were MPs from the German federal parliament (both the German MPs and Reporters Without Borders at least later got access to the inadequate video following strong representations from the German Embassy).

The reason given that only five of us were allowed in the public gallery of some 40 seats was social distancing; except we were allowed to all sit together in consecutive seats in the front row. The two rows behind us remained completely empty.

To finish scene setting, Julian himself looked tidy and well groomed and dressed, and appeared to have regained a little lost weight, but with a definite unhealthy puffiness about his features. In the morning he appeared disengaged and disoriented rather as he had at Belmarsh, but in the afternoon he perked up and was very much engaged with his defence team, interacting as normally as could be expected in these circumstances.

Proceedings started with formalities related to Julian’s release on the old extradition warrant and re-arrest under the new warrant, which had taken place this morning. Defence and prosecution both agreed that the points they had already argued on the ban on extradition for political offences were not affected by the superseding indictment.

Magistrate Baraitser then made a statement about access to the court by remote hearing, by which she meant online. She stated that a number of access details had been sent out by mistake by the court without her agreement. She had therefore revoked their access permissions.

As she spoke, we in the court had no idea what had happened, but outside some consternation was underway in that the online access of Amnesty International, of Reporters without Borders, of John Pilger and of forty others had been shut down. As these people were neither permitted to attend the court nor observe online, this was causing some consternation.

Baraitser went on to say that it was important that the hearing was public, but she should only agree remote access where it was “in the interests of justice”, and having considered it she had decided it was not. She explained this by stating that the public could normally observe from within the courtroom, where she could control their behaviour. But if they had remote access, she could not control their behaviour and this was not in the “interests of justice”.

Baraitser did not expand on what uncontrolled behaviour she anticipated from those viewing via the internet. It is certainly true that an observer from Amnesty sitting at home might be in their underwear, might be humming the complete soundtrack to Mamma Mia, or might fart loudly. Precisely why this would damage “the interests of justice” we are still left to ponder, with no further help from the magistrate. But evidently the interests of justice were, in her view, best served if almost nobody could examine the “justice” too closely.

The next “housekeeping issue” to be addressed was how witnesses should be heard. The defence had called numerous witnesses, and each had lodged a written statement. The prosecution and Baraitser both suggested that, having given their evidence in writing, there was no need for defence witnesses to give that evidence orally in open court. It would be much quicker to go straight to cross-examination by the prosecution.

For the defence, Edward Fitzgerald QC countered that justice should be seen to be done by the public. The public should be able to hear the defence evidence before hearing the cross-examination. It would also enable Julian Assange to hear the evidence summarised, which was important for him to follow the case given his lack of extended access to legal papers while in Belmarsh prison.

Baraitser stated there could not be any need for evidence submitted to her in writing to be repeated orally. For the defence, Mark Summers QC was not prepared to drop it and tension notably rose in the court. Summers stated it was normal practice for there to be “an orderly and rational exposition of the evidence”. For the prosecution, James Lewis QC denied this, saying it was not normal procedure.

Baraitser stated she could not see why witnesses should be scheduled an one hour forty five minutes each, which was too long. Lewis agreed. He also added that the prosecution does not accept that the defence’s expert witnesses are expert witnesses. A Professor of journalism telling about newspaper coverage did not count. An expert witness should only be giving evidence on a technical point the court was otherwise unqualified to consider. Lewis also objected that in giving evidence orally, defence witnesses might state new facts to which the Crown had not had time to react. Baraitser noted that the written defence statements were published online, so they were available to the public.

Edward Fitzgerald QC stood up to speak again, and Baraitser addressed him in a quite extraordinary tone of contempt. What she said exactly was: “I have given you every opportunity. Is there anything else, really, that you want to say”, the word “really” being very heavily emphasised and sarcastic. Fitzgerald refused to be sat down, and he stated that the current case featured “substantial and novel issues going to fundamental questions of human rights.” It was important the evidence was given in public. It also gave the witnesses a chance to emphasise the key points of their evidence and where they placed most weight.

Baraitser called a brief recess while she considered judgement on this issue, and then returned. She found against the defence witnesses giving their evidence in open court, but accepted that each witness should be allowed up to half an hour of being led by the defence lawyers, to enable them to orient themselves and reacquaint with their evidence before cross-examination.

This half hour for each witness represented something of a compromise, in that at least the basic evidence of each defence witness would be heard by the court and the public (insofar as the public was allowed to hear anything). But the idea that a standard half hour guillotine is sensible for all witnesses, whether they are testifying to a single fact or to developments over years, is plainly absurd. What came over most strongly from this question was the desire of both judge and prosecution to railroad through the extradition with as little of the case against it getting a public airing as possible.

As the judge adjourned for a short break we thought these questions had now been addressed and the rest of the day would be calmer. We could not have been more wrong.

The court resumed with a new defence application, led by Mark Summers QC, about the new charges from the US governments new superseding indictment. Summers took the court back over the history of this extradition hearing. The first indictment had been drawn up in March of 2018. In January 2019 a provisional request for extradition had been made, which had been implemented in April of 2019 on Assange’s removal from the Embassy. In June 2019 this was replaced by the full request with a new, second indictment which had been the basis of these proceedings before today. A whole series of hearings had taken place on the basis of that second indictment.

The new superseding indictment dated from 20 June 2020. In February and May 2020 the US government had allowed hearings to go ahead on the basis of the second indictment, giving no warning, even though they must by that stage have known the new superseding indictment was coming. They had given neither explanation nor apology for this.

The defence had not been properly informed of the superseding indictment, and indeed had learnt of its existence only through a US government press release on 20 June. It had not finally been officially served in these proceedings until 29 July, just six weeks ago. At first, it had not been clear how the superseding indictment would affect the charges, as the US government was briefing it made no difference but just gave additional detail. But on 21 August 2020, not before, it finally became clear in new US government submissions that the charges themselves had been changed.

There were now new charges that were standalone and did not depend on the earlier allegations. Even if the 18 Manning related charges were rejected, these new allegations could still form grounds for extradition. These new allegations included encouraging the stealing of data from a bank and from the government of Iceland, passing information on tracking police vehicles, and hacking the computers both of individuals and of a security company.

“How much of this newly alleged material is criminal is anybody’s guess”, stated Summers, going on to explain that it was not at all clear that an Australian giving advice from outwith Iceland to someone in Iceland on how to crack a code, was actually criminal if it occurred in the UK. This was even without considering the test of dual criminality in the US also, which had to be passed before the conduct was subject to extradition.

It was unthinkable that allegations of this magnitude would be the subject of a Part 2 extradition hearing within six weeks if they were submitted as a new case. Plainly that did not give the defence time to prepare, or to line up witnesses to these new charges. Among the issues relating to these new charges the defence would wish to address, were that some were not criminal, some were out of time limitation, some had already been charged in other fora (including Southwark Crown Court and courts in the USA).

There were also important questions to be asked about the origins of some of these charges and the dubious nature of the witnesses. In particular the witness identified as “teenager” was the same person identified as “Iceland 1” in the previous indictment. That indictment had contained a “health warning” over this witness given by the US Department of Justice. This new indictment removed that warning. But the fact was, this witness is Sigurdur Thordarson, who had been convicted in Iceland in relation to these events of fraud, theft, stealing Wikileaks money and material and impersonating Julian Assange.

The indictment did not state that the FBI had been “kicked out of Iceland for trying to use Thordarson to frame Assange”, stated Summers baldly.

Summers said all these matters should be ventilated in these hearings if the new charges were to be heard, but the defence simply did not have time to prepare its answers or its witnesses in the brief six weeks it had since receiving them, even setting aside the extreme problems of contact with Assange in the conditions in which he was being held in Belmarsh prison.

The defence would plainly need time to prepare answers to these new charges, but it would plainly be unfair to keep Assange in jail for the months that would take. The defence therefore suggested that these new charges should be excised from the conduct to be considered by the court, and they should go ahead with the evidence on criminal behaviour confined to what conduct had previously been alleged.

Summers argued it was “entirely unfair” to add what were in law new and separate criminal allegations, at short notice and “entirely without warning and not giving the defence time to respond to it. What is happening here is abnormal, unfair and liable to create real injustice if allowed to continue.”

The arguments submitted by the prosecution now rested on these brand new allegations. For example, the prosecution now countered the arguments on the rights of whistleblowers and the necessity of revealing war crimes by stating that there can have been no such necessity to hack into a bank in Iceland.

Summers concluded that the “case should be confined to that conduct which the American government had seen fit to allege in the eighteen months of the case” before their second new indictment.

Replying to Summers for the prosecution, Joel Smith QC replied that the judge was obliged by the statute to consider the new charges and could not excise them. “If there is nothing proper about the restitution of a new extradition request after a failed request, there is nothing improper in a superseding indictment before the first request had failed.” Under the Extradition Act the court must decide only if the offence is an extraditable offence and the conduct alleged meets the dual criminality test. The court has no other role and no jurisdiction to excise part of the request.

Smith stated that all the authorities (precedents) were of charges being excised from a case to allow extradition to go ahead on the basis of the remaining sound charges, and those charges which had been excised were only on the basis of double jeopardy. There was no example of charges being excised to prevent an extradition. And the decision to excise charges had only ever been taken after the conduct alleged had been examined by the court. There was no example of alleged conduct not being considered by the court. The defendant could seek extra time if needed but the new allegations must be examined.

Summers replied that Smith was “wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong”. “We are not saying that you can never submit a new indictment, but you cannot do it six weeks before the substantive hearing.” The impact of what Smith had said amounted to no more than “Ha ha this is what we are doing and you can’t stop us.” A substantive last minute change had been made with no explanation and no apology. It could not be the case, as Smith alleged, that a power existed to excise charges in fairness to the prosecution, but no power existed to excise charges in fairness to the defence.

Immediately Summers sat down, Baraitser gave her judgement on this point. As so often in this hearing, it was a pre-written judgement. She read it from a laptop she had brought into the courtroom with her, and she had made no alterations to that document as Summers and Smith had argued the case in front of her.

Baraitser stated that she had been asked as a preliminary move to excise from the case certain conduct alleged. Mr Summers had described the receipt of new allegations as extraordinary. However “I offered the defence the opportunity to adjourn the case” to give them time to prepare against the new allegations. “I considered of course that Mr Assange was in custody. I hear that Mr Summers believes this is fundamental unfairness”. But “the argument that we haven’t got the time, should be remedied by asking for the time.”

Mr Summers had raised issues of dual criminality and abuse of process; there was nothing preventing him for raising these arguments in the context of considering the request as now presented.

Baraitser simply ignored the argument that while there was indeed “nothing to prevent” the defence from answering the new allegations as each was considered, they had been given no time adequately to prepare. Having read out her pre-prepared judgement to proceed on the basis of the new superseding indictment, Baraitser adjourned the court for lunch.

At the end of the day I had the opportunity to speak to an extremely distinguished and well-known lawyer on the subject of Baraitser bringing pre-written judgements into court, prepared before she had heard the lawyers argue the case before her. I understood she already had seen the outline written arguments, but surely this was wrong. What was the point in the lawyers arguing for hours if the judgement was pre-written? What I really wanted to know was how far this was normal practice.

The lawyer replied to me that it absolutely was not normal practice, it was totally outrageous. In a long and distinguished career, this lawyer had very occasionally seen it done, even in the High Court, but there was always some effort to disguise the fact, perhaps by inserting some reference to points made orally in the courtroom. Baraitser was just blatant. The question was, of course, whether it was her own pre-written judgement she was reading out, or something she had been given from on high.

This was a pretty shocking morning. The guillotining of defence witnesses to hustle the case through, indeed the attempt to ensure their evidence was not spoken in court except those parts which the prosecution saw fit to attack in cross-examination, had been breathtaking. The effort by the defence to excise the last minute superseding indictment had been a fundamental point disposed of summarily. Yet again, Baraitser’s demeanour and very language made little attempt to disguise a hostility to the defence.

We were for the second time in the day in a break thinking that events must now calm down and get less dramatic. Again we were wrong.

Court resumed forty minutes late after lunch as various procedural wrangles were addressed behind closed doors. As the court resumed, Mark Summers for the defence stood up with a bombshell.

Summers said that the defence “recognised” the judgement Baraitser had just made – a very careful choice of word, as opposed to “respected” which might seem more natural. As she had ruled that the remedy to lack of time was more time, the defence was applying for an adjournment to enable them to prepare the answers to the new charges. They did not do this lightly, as Mr Assange would continue in prison in very difficult conditions during the adjournment.

Summers said the defence was simply not in a position to gather the evidence to respond to the new charges in a few short weeks, a situation made even worse by Covid restrictions. It was true that on 14 August Baraitser had offered an adjournment and on 21 August they had refused the offer. But in that period of time, Mr Assange had not had access to the new charges and they had not fully realised the extent to which these were a standalone new case. To this date, Assange had still not received the new prosecution Opening Note in prison, which was a crucial document in setting out the significance of the new charges.

Baraitser pointedly asked whether the defence could speak to Assange in prison by telephone. Summers replied yes, but these were extremely short conversations. They could not phone Mr Assange; he could only call out very briefly on the prison payphone to somebody’s mobile, and the rest of the team would have to try to gather round to listen. It was not possible in these very brief discussions adequately to expound complex material. Between 14 and 21 August they had been able to have only two such very short phone calls. The defence could only send documents to Mr Assange through the post to the prison; he was not always given them, or allowed to keep them.

Baraitser asked how long an adjournment was being requested. Summers replied until January.

For the US government, James Lewis QC replied that more scrutiny was needed of this request. The new matters in the indictment were purely criminal. They do not affect the arguments about the political nature of the case, or affect most of the witnesses. If more time were granted, “with the history of this case, we will just be presented with a sleigh of other material which will have no bearing on the small expansion of count 2”.

Baraitser adjourned the court “for ten minutes” while she went out to consider her judgement. In fact she took much longer. When she returned she looked peculiarly strained.

Baraitser ruled that on 14 August she had given the defence the opportunity to apply for an adjournment, and given them seven days to decide. On 21 August the defence had replied they did not want an adjournment. They had not replied that they had insufficient time to consider. Even today the defence had not applied to adjourn but rather had applied to excise charges. They “cannot have been surprised by my decision” against that application. Therefore they must have been prepared to proceed with the hearing. Their objections were not based on new circumstance. The conditions of Assange in Belmarsh had not changed since 21 August. They had therefore missed their chance and the motion to adjourn was refused.

The courtroom atmosphere was now highly charged. Having in the morning refused to cut out the superseding indictment on the grounds that the remedy for lack of time should be more time, Baraitser was now refusing to give more time. The defence had called her bluff; the state had apparently been confident that the effective solitary confinement in Belmarsh was so terrible that Assange would not request more time. I rather suspect that Julian was himself bluffing, and made the call at lunchtime to request more time in the full expectation that it would be refused, and the rank hypocrisy of the proceedings exposed.

previously blogged about how the procedural trickery of the superseding indictment being used to replace the failing second indictment – as Smith said for the prosecution “before it failed” – was something that sickened the soul. Today in the courtroom you could smell the sulphur.

Well, yet again we were left with the feeling that matters must now get less exciting. This time we were right and they became instead excruciatingly banal. We finally moved on to the first witness, Professor Mark Feldstein, giving evidence to the court by videolink for the USA. It was not Professor Feldstein’s fault the day finished in confused anti-climax. The court was unable to make the video technology work. For ten broken minutes out of about forty Feldstein was briefly able to give evidence, and even this was completely unsatisfactory as he and Mark Summers were repeatedly speaking over each other on the link.

Professor Feldstein’s evidence will resume tomorrow (now in fact today) and I think rather than split it I shall give the full account then. Meantime you can see these excellent summaries from Kevin Gosztola or the morning and afternoon reports from James Doleman. In fact, I should be grateful if you did, so you can see that I am neither inventing nor exaggerating the facts of these startling events.

If you asked me to sum up today in a word, that word would undoubtedly be “railroaded”. it was all about pushing through the hearing as quickly as possible and with as little public exposure as possible to what is happening. Access denied, adjournment denied, exposition of defence evidence denied, removal of superseding indictment charges denied. The prosecution was plainly failing in that week back in Woolwich in February, which seems like an age ago. It has now been given a new boost.

How the defence will deal with the new charges we shall see. It seems impossible that they can do this without calling new witnesses to address the new facts. But the witness lists had already been finalised on the basis of the old charges. That the defence should be forced to proceed with the wrong witnesses seems crazy, but frankly, I am well past being surprised by anything in this fake process.

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Twenty-one New Brands of Islam, by Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

A very perceptive and thought-provoking post indicting shallow and self-serving allegiance and inviting a deeper, more introspective approach to proper scriptural compliance.

The Lotus Tree Blog

21 Brands (@brands_21) | Twitter

We’re getting so many new brands of Islam it’s hard to keep up. These sub-strains of the original Islam of the Prophet (SAWS) and of the early Muslims (Salaf) is what is believed to be Islam for many people in our current age. So here’s a partial list to help you stay current. So far my count is in the thirties. Imam Luqman Ahmad

1. Spectator Islam: Just watch, do nothing. No covenant, no commitment

2. Gay and Lesbian Islam: (Speaks for Itself)

3. No hadith Islam: Quran but no hadith

4. No Quran Islam: No Quran, no hadith

5. Christian/Muslim Islam: Lil bit of this, lil bit of that. Jingle bell Muslim.

6. Non-Sharia Islam: Muslim, but no laws. Wild wild west Muslim.

7. Show off Islam: I only do deen to be seen

8. Ice cream sundae Islam: If it’s hard, I ain’t doing it.

9: Black man…

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Inconceivable envy, malice and egocentric fear of arrest – Dr Amjad Mohammed Khan set up ex-wife Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s abduction 31 March 2003

From start to finish, Dr Aafia’s whole case is a damning indictment of corruption, and a legal and political system so badly broken that it is not fit for purpose!


“Dr Aafia became a victim of domestic violence during her marriage…The Person who kidnapped her has finally come forward…And confessed to the heinous crime on the behest of her ex-husband and the regime that stripped Pakistan off its dignity by selling its own citizens.”

Background of Case / What Evidence, Investigation has uncovered?

There are reports from her professors in Boston that they saw her with bruises on her face. And her husband, Dr. Amjad Khan, toldHarpers Magazinereporter Petra Bartosiewicz in 2008 that his wife had once had to go to hospital after he threw a bottle at her. There are photographs of her with a deep cut across her face.

Compelling New Evidence About Aafia Siddiqui’s Detention by the ISI, and Her Rigged Trial in the US, 14 February 2011

Thirty-one year old Dr Siddiqui’s brutal abduction and kidnapping on 31 March 2003, while on…

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