| Greedy France wrecks P5+1 Deal for Arab money!

Finian Cunningham: France Wrecks P5+1 Deal for Arab Money ~  .

The French deal-breaking intervention at the P5+1 negotiation with Iran may have been motivated by France wanting to ingratiate itself with the Persian Gulf monarchies for strategic economic reasons.

Negotiations to resolve the nuclear deadlock and lift economic sanctions on Iran appeared to be near a breakthrough agreement after three days of talks in the Swiss capital, Geneva, over the weekend.

The hasty arrival of US Secretary of State John Kerry as well as the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany raised expectations that a potential deal was in the offing. But it was the French diplomat, Laurent Fabius, who threw a spanner in the works at the last-minute.

Fabius invoked “security concerns of Israel” and announced that his country was not going to sign a draft agreement. The French intervention appeared to catch participants by surprise.

An unnamed Western diplomat told Reuters, “The Americans, the EU and the Iranians have been working intensively for months on this proposal and this is nothing more than an attempt by Fabius to insert himself into relevance late in the negotiations.”

However, contrary to Fabius’ words and speculation by some analysts, the French motive seem less about appeasing Israel and France’s formidable Jewish lobby, and more to do with pandering to the Persian Gulf Arab monarchies of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Israeli opposition to any deal with Iran over the 10-year nuclear dispute is, of course, obvious. On the eve of the latest talks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was almost apoplectic in urging Western states to reject “a deal of the century for Iran.”

Equally as disconcerted about a possible accord were the Wahhabi monarchies led by Saudi Arabia, which view Shia Iran as an archenemy for influence in the Middle East. Only days before the latest round of P5+1 talks in Geneva, former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al Faisal told the Washington Post in an interview that his country was opposed to lifting sanctions on Iran.

One of the most striking political developments in recent months is the alignment of Israel with the House of Saud and the other Persian Gulf Arab regimes in terms of foreign policy objectives and adversity towards Iran.

Another salient development has been the strategic economic cooperation between France and the Persian Gulf oil kingdoms. Major sectors of interest include energy, water and electrical infrastructure, construction and weapons sales.

The French government has been embarking on an aggressive bilateral investment drive with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE.

In April this year, Paris hosted a Saudi-French Business Opportunities Forum attended by 500 businessmen from both countries.

French ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Bertrand Besancenot, said, “Saudi Arabia is a strategic partner of France in the region and the bilateral relationship is of paramount importance in the economic field,” pointing out that bilateral trade has doubled over the last five years.

In July, French company Veolia won a $500 million contract to build and operate water desalination plants in Saudi Arabia. That contract is reckoned to be the biggest of its kind in the Middle East, and from the French point of view, it is a model for the future, given that water and electricity infrastructure right across the Persian Gulf oil kingdoms is a vital development need for decades to come.

France is also courting capital investment and commerce from Qatar and the UAE. At stake is the purchase of French Rafale fighter jets worth billions of dollars underlined by the fact that France is in sharp competition with arms exporters from the US, Britain and Germany.

Another lucrative sector that the French are eyeing in the Persian Gulf Arab countries is nuclear energy. French nuclear company Areva is vying with Western competitors to build and operate nuclear energy plants in the UAE, which is something of an irony given France’s apparent objections to Iranian plans for the same technology.

“France calls for increased investment from Qatar,” read a headline in the Financial Times on 24 June.

The report said, “French President François Hollande used a weekend visit to Qatar to call for more investment from the gas-rich Gulf state to boost job creation in France.”

The FT added, “Mr Hollande told business leaders he hoped more Qatari money could be lured into France’s services and industrial sectors, with a reciprocal rise in French companies implementing the grand development ambitions of this fast-growing Gulf state.”

And the Qataris have obliged Hollande’s plea for funds. The two countries have set up a joint investment vehicle worth some $400 million to direct Qatari petrodollars towards French businesses. So far, Qatar’s total investment in France has reached an estimated $15 billion, with shares in flagship French companies, such as energy giant Total, construction firm Vinci, media business Legardere, water and electricity supplier Veolia, and even football team Paris Saint Germain.

Qatar’s ruling Al Thani dynasty has also been buying up luxury Paris real estates.

When France’s Hollande visited Qatar in June, he brazenly pitched his country as an alternative foreign investment destination to Britain and Germany.

France’s deteriorating economic situation and Hollande’s slump in the polls – he is the most unpopular French leader ever – can only but intensify the French dependence on Persian Gulf Arab money. This week, the international credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s downgraded France for the second time on the back of ballooning national debt, trade deficit and unemployment.

In this context it becomes clear why France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius acted to scupper the P5+1 talks this weekend in Geneva. By wrecking a potential deal with Iran, Fabius was no doubt bidding to please Saudi Arabia and the other Persian Gulf Arab regimes with a view to securing billions-of-dollars-worth of urgently needed capital.

Mouthing disingenuous concerns, Fabius vandalized with a spanner in one hand and a begging bowl surreptitiously in the other.

File photo showing closed-door talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council on November 9.

File photo showing closed-door talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council on November 9.

Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in journalism. He is also a musician and songwriter. For nearly 20 years, he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organisations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent.


| Continuing Apartheid: Institutionalised discrimination in Israel!

Institutionalised discrimination in Israel ~ Khaled AmayrehAl-Ahram Weekly.

The Israeli Supreme Court has further cemented discrimination in Israel against non-Jews in a decision that highlights the non-democratic basis of the state, writes Khaled Amayreh in occupied East Jerusalem.

A recent decision by the Israeli Supreme Court that asserted “Jewish nationality” over “Israeli nationality” has further alienated Israel’s large Arab minority and rekindled the old question of whether it is possible to really reconcile parochial Jewish laws with broad democratic principles.

The court rejected a request by 21 mostly Jewish Israeli citizens to be registered as “Israeli nationals” rather than Jews or Arabs.

The rejection of Israeli nationality by the Israeli state, the petitioners argued, was utterly undemocratic and exposed the state’s non-Jewish citizens to institutionalised discrimination.

Critics, both Jewish and Arab, described the decision as an undemocratic move with a disingenuous legal façade, aimed at perpetuating the status of non-Jews — particularly Israel’s Palestinian citizens — who comprise about 20 per cent of the population as inherently lesser or inferior citizens.


Israeli officials and supporters of the court decision, however, argue that it is vital to maintain Israel’s “Jewish character”, regardless of the import of democracy and equality as the basis of citizenship.

PR-savvy Israeli spokespersons contend the decision has no impact on the issue of discrimination against Israeli non-Jews, adding that Israel’s Jewish identity shouldn’t collide with the civil rights of ethnic and religious minorities.


JEWISH AND DEMOCRATIC? Israeli officials often claim that Israel is both Jewish and democratic in nature. Critics, however, argue that this is “an empty slogan” devoid of truth since Israel can’t be both Talmudic and democratic.

“This is a big lie. Israel can either be Jewish or democratic; it can’t be both, pure and simple,” says Hanna Issa, a prominent legal expert in Ramallah.

“And we all know that whenever there is the slightest conflict between the ‘Jewish’ and ‘democratic’ aspects, which comes first.”

Issa said Israel intended to achieve two strategic goals by “invoking the Jewish state mantra”.

First, the expulsion and ethnic cleansing of the two million strong Arab community. Second, preventing the repatriation of Palestinian refugees who fled or were expelled from their homes when Israel was created in 1948.

Issa adds: “When non-Jewish citizens in Israel demand equality as citizens they are confronted with the ‘Jewish state’ mantra, but when the international community criticises Israel for the often brazen discrimination against its non-Jewish citizens, the democratic state mantra is invoked. So, we are effectively talking about a totally dishonest discourse.”


NORMAL NATION-STATE: Yigal Palmor, a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, denies any contradiction between his “reassertion of Israel’s national Jewish character” on the one hand and possible discrimination against the state’s non-Jewish citizens.

“Israel is Jewish in the same sense that France is French and Norway is Norwegian. The two European countries maintain their respective national identities despite the existence of ethnic and religious minorities in both countries,” Palmor says.


Palmor argues that despite the existence of the Kvens in Norway, Norway remains Norwegian although the Kvens are not Norwegian. (The Kvens are a group of people who originated from the northern Baltic Sea areas of Finland and Sweden but who immigrated to Norway).

“And in France, there are millions of French citizens of North African origin, but France remains French. And the same thing applies to Israel more or less. There are some non-Jewish minorities, but Israel remains a Jewish country. It is the state of the Jewish people. This is exactly what the Supreme Court’s decision tried to assert.”

Palmor’s comparisons are strongly disputed by Jewish as well as Arab intellectuals.

Hasan Jabarin is the head of Adalah, the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. He describes Palmor’s analogies between Israel and France as “corrupt, scandalous, utterly mendacious and insulting to people’s intelligence”.

“In France, once you are granted French citizenship, you become a full citizen. They don’t ask about your ethnicity or religion or about the genealogy of your mother. In Israel, your Israeli citizenship doesn’t help you if you are not Jewish,” argued Jabarin, a veteran lawyer, in interview with Al-Ahram Weekly.

He added: “The French-ness of France and the Jewish-ness of Israel are not the same thing. To claim they are is an insult to truth and common sense. In France, one can become a French citizen without having to convert to Catholicism or Christianity in general, but in Israel one can’t become Jewish unless one has a Jewish mother or converts to Judaism according to Jewish Orthodox rituals. These are the proscriptions of Jewish religious law.

“Besides, France is a state of all its citizens, but Israel is defined as the state of the Jewish people, as the Israeli Supreme Court repeatedly refused to define Israel as a state of all its citizens.”

Jabarin argued that Israel’s “brazenly discriminatory laws” are aimed at achieving two main goals: denying Palestinian refugees the right to return to their homes and villages in what is now Israel, and curtailing the demographic growth of Israel’s Arab community, even by way of expulsion and ethnic cleansing if need be.

“That is the reason [Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu keeps demanding that the Palestinians recognise Israel as an exclusively Jewish state.”

WHAT IS JEWISH? Palmor and other Israelis don’t claim to possess a unified or monolithic definition of who is a Jew. But, arguably for public relations purposes, Israeli hasbara (propaganda) spokespersons would claim that being Jewish means belonging to “the Jewish ethnicity”.

However, according to a recent survey as many as 50 per cent of Israeli Jews define being Jewish as observance of Jewish religious law.

For Gideon Levy, a veteran Israeli journalist and intellectual, mixing “nationality with religion is the mother of all problems”.

“If being Jewish means religion, then secular Jews like myself can’t define themselves as Jews. But if it is nationality, then I am an Israeli national first and foremost.”

Levy labels as hypocritical many American and European Jews who support institutionalised discrimination against non-Jewish Israeli citizens, whereas in their respective countries they aggressively and doggedly defend secularism and the principle of equality, irrespective of ethnicity and religion.

“Israel can’t be both Jewish and democratic. And under existing conditions, a non-Jewish citizen in Israel has no chance of having real equality with a Jew,” Levy says.


Ada Ravon, a prominent lawyer from Tel Aviv who deals with civil rights issues, concurs: “There is no chance for a non-Jewish citizen in Israel to obtain full and complete equality. This is at least how I see it under existing circumstances.

“According to the Law of Return, Israel is a Jewish state, and non-Jews can’t be equal citizens.”

Responding to cwritics, Palmor admits, “there might be problems here and there,” but “there are sufficient laws in Israel that guarantee basic equality.” He adds: “Politics is politics and not every law can pass in the Knesset.”

Chaim Cohen, a Jewish intellectual, tried to coin a personal, non-controversial definition of who is a Jew. He argued that a Jew is one who feels Jewish. The vast majority of religious Jews rejected the definition, calling it diluted, ambiguous and too abstract.


Portrait of a boy with the flag of Palestine painted on his face

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| Leaked Documents show rebels behind chemical attack as US frames Syria!

| Leaked Documents show rebels behind chemical attack as US frames Syria! 

Leaked Documents – US Framed Syria in Chemical Weapons Attack!

On August 21st, 2013 chemical weapons were used the Syrian conflict yet again. Western powers, the U.S. and France in particular enthusiastically didn’t hesitate for even a moment to take advantage of the tragedy, decrying it as a crime against humanity and using it as a springboard to announce their preparations for military strikes against the Syrian government. 

Make no mistake this was a crime against humanity… but the gas was NOT used by the Syrian government, it was used by the NATO backed rebels. In this video we’re going to show you definitive evidence to support this claim and we’re going to explain the U.S. and NATO’s motive for committing such an atrocity. The leaked documents that we are going to be presenting are available for you to download yourself. You’ll find a in a link in the description to that download and you’ll also find links to the mainstream articles we used in our research.

Leaked Britam Defence Syrian documents for download:http://stormcloudsgathering.com/leake

Chemical weapons confirmed in Syrian conflict:http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/20

U.S. helped Saddam as he was using chemical weapons on Iran:http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles

CIA and Mossad both say the Iran hasn’t even made the decision to seek a nuclear weapon: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy

Iran and Syria confront US with defense pact:

Iran already sending troops to Syria: http://rt.com/news/iran-troop-deploym

The proxy war in Syria: http://www.globalresearch.ca/americas

The U.S. funneling weapons to rebels through Qatar:http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/world


Russia opposes arming militants in Syria:

Russia warns Syria/Iran Crisis may go nuclear:http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/0

UK Quatar plot to frame Syria for Chemical weapons:

The March 19th, 2013 Sarin Attack:
Israel and the U.S. blame Assad:

Obama’s red line: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/world

U.N. launches their own probe:http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/0

According to the U.N. investigation the March 19th chemical weapons attack turned out to be committed by the rebels:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middl

Russia agrees: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/0

The August 21st, 2013 Chemical Attack:
Syrian soldiers enter rebel tunnels, find chemical agents

Video from attack apparently shows the rockets were small and primitive:

Iran says they have proof rebels used chemical weapons:

Turkey finds sarin gas in homes of suspected Syrian Islamists

FSA says they are going to use chemical weapons from now on:http://www.israelnationalnews.com/New

To Youtube copyright reviewers:
Audio and animations were created by StormCloudsGathering using Reason 7, Adobe Premiere, Photoshop and Adobe After Effects. Files available for proof on request.

Courtesy: http://stormcloudsgathering.com/leake…

| Musician and ‘Anders Breivik sympathiser’ Kristian Vikernes arrested in France for ‘plotting massacre!’

Musician and ‘Anders Breivik sympathiser’ Kristian Vikernes arrested in France for ‘plotting massacre’ ~ JOHN LICHFIELDThe Independent.

A racist, Norwegian heavy metal rock musician, linked to the mass murderer Anders Breivik was arrested in southern France because French authorities feared that he might be planning a “massacre”.

Kristian Vikernes, 40, best known by his stage name “Varg”, was arrested in the village of Salon la Tour in Corrèze.

Vikernes, who had served 15 years in jail in Norway for murdering another rock musician, might have been planning a “substantial act of terrorism”, the interior minister, Manuel Valls, said. Local police in southwestern France spoke of a possible “massacre”.

The interior ministry said that it had “intercepted violent comments” on messages transmitted by Vikernes on the internet.

French authorities have had the “black metal” musician under close surveillance since moved to Correze in 2010 with his French wife and three children soon after he left prison in Norway. They decided to intervene this week after his wife, Marie Chachet, 25, bought four high-powered rifles. She was also arrested.

Vikernes was one of the 530 people to whom Breivik sent a 1,500 page manifesto calling for a war against Islam in Europe before he killed 77 people in Norway in July 2011. On his website, the rock musician, a self-professed “pagan”, both sympathises with Breivik and dismisses him as a “Christian loser”, who killed Norwegians rather than muslims.

In a blog last December called “War in Europe: Part V – Breivik Unveiled,” Vikernes wrote: “If you, dear European nationalists, really want to save Europe (as a biological term) you have to realise that the only thing to do is to cast aside all Christian and other international nonsense and embrace only the European (i.e. Pagan) values and ideals.”

“If you work for Christianity in any way you work for the Jews. Plain and simple.”

In an interview with French TV, the mayor of Salon La Tour, the village where Vikernes and his wife family, said that he had been astonished by the police raid early yesterday. “I didn’t notice anything strange about him other than that he liked to wear military costumes and liked Gothic music,” Jean-Claude Chauffour told BFM TV.

Vikernes, known as Varg, or “Count Grishnackh”, leader of the black metal group Burzum, was convicted in 1994 of stabbing to death a rival musician Oystein Aarseth, of the group Mayhem. He was also convicted of burning down churches.

While in jail he elaborated an ideology based on paganism and anti-semitic and anti-islamic white supremacy.  He defines himself as an “odalist…neither national-socialist, nor materialist, a believer in the ancient Scandinavian democracy”.

Vikernes denies that he is a neo-Nazi French authorities believe him to be linked to extreme neo-Nazi groups in Scandinavia, Germany and France.

“This individual…constituted a potential threat to society, as shown by violent comments in messages intercepted on the Web,” the French interior ministry said.



| Coup backfires: Now Egypt’s de-democratised!

Egypt, de-democratised ~

Irfan Ahmad, Al Jazeera.

Scholar Irfan Ahmad argues that the Egyptian military staged a coup d’etat that has set democracy back in the nation.


Western democracies are complicit in the de-democratisation of Egypt, and have allowed a coup to transpire because of their antipathy towards the incumbent party, the author argues [Reuters]

It is a coup d’état!
Let’s call a spade a spade: despite military’s denial that it didn’t plan to stage a coup d’état, what it did on July 3 was precisely a coup. The arresting visual of the announcement of the coup on the state television had elements of exactly that postmodern spectacle.

Unlike the 1999 coup by Pakistan’s General Pervez Musharraf, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi‘s was almost surreal. As he announced in his shrill voice the unconstitutional deposition of the elected President Mohammad Morsi, on his right were seated heads of other wings of armed forces, including the liberal poster-man, Mohamed ElBaradei.

On General al-Sisi’s left were, inter alia, Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Pope Tawadros of the Coptic Church, a member of the al-Nour party as well as a representative of the youth. There were no women. One by one all these figures spoke to back the coup and thereby subverted Egypt’s fragile democracy.

To General al-Sisi, this coordinated and well-thought-out coup was a ‘patriotic‘, not a ‘political’ act. Think of George Orwell and the masterful twist of language!

The subversion of Egypt’s democracy was implicitly hailed by democracy’s  custodians, the Western states, for none of them – not the USA, the EU, France or the UK – named the overthrow of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP)-led government as a ‘coup d’état’, leave alone condemned it.

By failing to do so, these Western democracies found themselves as unlikely bedfellows with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, two states that also welcomed the coup. Does not the statement of British Foreign Secretary,William Hague that ‘only democratic processes and government by consent will bring the stability and prosperity that the people of Egypt seek’ mislead people to think that the Morsi’s government was not based on consent?

To recreate democracy Egypt ought to courageously resist any act of de-democratisation, from within as well as without

If the mere number of people taking to the streets is a sufficient condition for a government to be overthrown, then, did the governments of Tony Blair and George W. Bush met this condition as millions had marched against their unethical war in 2003?

My point is not to justify whatever Morsi did or to discredit the anti-Morsi protests. Clearly, such protests are integral to a thriving democracy. The question, however, is: how such protests in the name of democracy end up befriending its current adversary, the unelected military?

How is it that the ‘liberal-secular’ opposition, that so detests the Islamism of the FJP, includes the al-Nour party of Salifis who are no less religious than their Brotherhood counterparts? Does not ElBaradei’s liberalism wedded to unbridled military might prove Uday Mehta‘s contention that liberalism has historically served empire?

You are a democrat, but are you a friend?

The July 3 coup d’état is a classic example of de-democratisation engineered by the powerful states, invariably the Western ones. In an earlier piece on Al-Jazeera, I argued how the West has historically used Latin America and the Middle East as laboratories of de-democratisation.

In the case of Egypt, it is not yet clear to what extent the internal and external actors converged to enact her de-democratisation. However, this much is clear that if a less powerful democratic state does not serve the interests and identity of the powerful – within and without – democracy is easily sacrificed to ensure the hegemony of the powerful. What ultimately matters is not being a democrat but being a friend. In some ways, Egypt of 2013 resembles Haiti of 2004 and Ireland of 2008.

In 2004 France and the US organised a coup against the elected President of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Aristide was put on a 20-hour flight to the Central African Republic. Even the Haitian officials didn’t know about his destination. As I write, we don’t know where Morsi is. Aristide maintains that he was abducted.

Let’s recall that in 2000 elections Aristide was elected as president second time. Two key factors for his ousting were his refusal to submit to Washington and, his demand that France, the former colonial power, pay a sum of US$21bn it had extorted from Haiti.

In 1805, Haiti was the first country in Latin America to become free as a result of slave revolt. All powerful countries at that time, including the US, sided with France and declined to recognise Haiti’s freedom. In desperation for recognition and under threat of being recolonised by France, the Republic of Haiti agreed to pay 150 million Francs to France for her economic loss.

Haiti continued to pay ‘debt’ to France for decades. Aristide demanded that the money France extorted from Haiti should be returned to build hospitals, schools and roads. The French Premier sent Regis Debray to Haiti to delegitimise Aristide’s claim.

During his visit Debray found that ‘no members of the democratic opposition to Aristide took the reimbursement claim seriously’. Clearly, he sought to mislead people that Aristide’s government was undemocratic. Western states and Egypt’s politicians opposed to Morsi depicted the latter in a similar fashion. Furthermore, rather than help Aristide in his welfare campaign, the US-funded opposition, armed groups and the so-called civil society institutions undermined Aristide’s government.

Unable to deal with him politically, Senator Jesse Helms, a Republican from North Carolina, called Aristide a ‘psychopath’. The day Morsi was ousted BBC interviewed a woman named Suraiyya, who dubbed formations like FJP and Morsi as “Islamofascist”. The BBC journalist didn’t bother to ask her how she applied such a label. The synergy between the interviewee and interviewer was just perfect and subverted any legitimacy Morsi may have possessed.

In June 2008 Ireland held a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty on European Union reform. Over 53 percent rejected the Lisbon Treaty. This rejection, however, went against the wishes of Europe’s elites.

Instead of accepting what the Irish people sovereignly decided, The Guardian delegitimized the Ireland’s popular will as follows: ‘Less than 1 percent of the EU’s 490m citizens appear to have scuppered the deal mapped out in Lisbon that was meant to shape Europe in the 21st century’. A similar logic was/is at work in the case of Egypt. Valery Giscard, a key author of the Lisbon Treaty, told a radio journalist:

Giscard: ‘The Irish must be allowed to express themselves again’.

Radio Journalist: ‘Don’t you find it deeply shocking to make people who have already expressed themselves take the vote over?’

Giscard: ‘We spend our time re-voting. If we didn’t, the President of the Republic would be elected for all eternity’.

What is SCAF?

It is clear what exactly Giscard meant by his comment: namely, the Irish people must keep on voting until they give the desired result he and his like-minded politicians wanted to hear and promote. The problem with Morsi and FJP was precisely this; they didn’t say exactly what the powerful wanted to hear, and their ideological adversaries were happy for popular revolt to subvert democratic processes until their ideal outcome may arise.

Future of democracy and Egypt  

Now that Egypt stands de-democratised and the Army has issued a road map, what is to be done? Let’s hope that General al-Sisi’s model is neither Pakistan’s General Musharraf nor General Zia-ul-Haq. Furthermore, to responsibly answer this question is to transcend narrow, exclusive interests of any group and build a plural, dialogic political community acknowledging, not negating, differences.

This entails redefining democracy democratically so that it flowers into value in its own right, not simply as a bare tool that serves one’s partisan interests. It must alter, even abolish, rather than reproduce the dominant dualism between ‘friends’ and ‘foes’.

If the goal is to nurture as well as redefine democracy in its nascent stage, none of the political formations, including the FJP, should resort to violence. That will deprive Egyptians of an immense possibility of imagining politics anew.

To build a truly democratic Egypt is to follow the path and ideals of Abdul Ghaffar Khan, a great 20th century icon of non-violence and democracy. In short, to recreate democracy Egypt ought to courageously resist any act of de-democratisation, from within as well as without.

Irfan Ahmad is a political anthropologist and a lecturer at Monash University, Australia and author ofIslamism and Democracy in India: The Transformation of Jamaat-e-Islami (Princeton University Press, 2009) which was short-listed for the 2011 International Convention of Asian Scholars Book Prize for the best study in the field of Social Sciences. Currently, he is finishing a book manuscript on theory and practice of critique in modernity and Islamic tradition.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.








| International solidarity with French BDS activists facing repression!

International solidarity with French BDS activists facing repression ~ Palestinian BDS National Committee.

More than 150 solidarity organisations stand in solidarity with French campaigners facing legal action!

As more than 150 Palestine solidarity and social justice organizations from across the world, we stand in solidarity with all of the French campaigners for Palestinian rights facing legal action and repression for participating in demonstrations calling for a boycott of Israel.

French campaigners have faced criminal charges for their solidarity activity since 2009. Despite a previous ruling that advocating boycott is not illegal and should be permitted as part of the right to freedom of speech, three activists were brought to trial earlier this month in Perpignan, seven more will attend court on June 27 in Alencon and further trials will take place later this year.

In all of these cases, campaigners have been charged with “incitement, provocation to discrimination, hatred or violence against a person or group of persons, due to their ethnicity, race, religion or nation” following their participation in actions at supermarkets calling for a boycott of Israeli goods.

This misuse of anti-discrimination law is part of a wider attack on solidarity with the Palestinian people. French pro-Israel organizations are plaintiffs in many of the cases against boycott activists and have successfully pressured the French government to support repression of solidarity activity. In 2010, then justice minister Michèle Alliot Marie ordered prosecutors to press charges against boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activists. Police regularly demand the names and addresses of those present at protests calling for a boycott of Israel and Israeli intelligence agency Mossad was deployed to stop protests at a basketball match involving an Israeli team that took place in France.

Alarmed by the growth of solidarity with the Palestinian people and the BDS movement in particular, Israel and leading Israeli think tanks have made clear their desire to sabotage and disrupt solidarity activism. Senior Israeli foreign ministry official Amir Sagie recently admitted that the Israeli government has been “investing heavily” in legal warfare against BDS in France and other European countries.

To Bernard, Jeanne, Yamina, Alain, Chantal, Christine Francis, Jo, Nicole and Pierre, to all those facing criminal charges and the whole of the French movement: we stand with you.

While we cannot be with you as you demonstrate outside the court at the start of the next trial on June 27, we express our full support for your efforts to build solidarity with the Palestinian people in the face of state repression. We cannot allow Israel to export its attacks on basic freedoms to Europe or anywhere else.

Inspired by the steadfastness of the Palestinian struggle and the resolve of the French BDS movement, we pledge to continue to work with the BDS movement in France to support their efforts to resist oppression and to continue to build the international movement for a boycott of Israel.

Australians for Palestine, Australia
Association Belgo-Palestinienne, Belgium
Palestina Solidariteit, Belgium
Palestina Solidariteit vzw, Belgium
Vrede vzw, Belgium
Anel – Assembleia Nacional dos Estudantes – Livre!, Brazil
Ciranda Internacional de Comunicação Compartilhada, Brazil
CSP-Conlutas – Central Sindical e Popular, Brazil
CUT – Central Única dos Trabalhadores, Brazil
Frente em Defesa do Povo Palestino-SP, Brazil
Front of solidarity with the Palestinian people – Sao Paulo, Brazil
MML – Movimento Mulheres em Luta, Brazil
PSTU – Partido Socialista dos Trabalhadores Unificado, Brazil
Sindicato dos Metalúrgicos de São José dos Campos, Brazil
Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign – Vancouver, Canada
Canada Palestine Association, Canada
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, Canada
Seriously Free Speech Committee – Vancouver, Canada
ICAHD Finland, Finland
BDS Berlin, Germany
InCACBI (Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel), India
Palestine Solidarity Committee in India, India
Irish Friends of Palestine, Derry, Ireland
Derry Stop the Wall Coalition, Ireland
Derry to Gaza, Ireland
Gaza Action Ireland, Ireland
Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Ireland
Peace & Neutrality Alliance, Ireland
Trade Union Friends of Palestine (ICTU), Ireland
Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within, Israel
100 idee per la pace, Siena, Italy
BDS Italia, Italy
BDS Milano, Italy
BDS Milano, Italy
BDS Trieste, Trieste, Italy
Castelli per la Palestina, Rocca Priora, Italy
Comitato BDS Campania, Napoli, Italia
Coordinamento Campagna BDS Bologna, Italy
Forum Palestina, Italy
Gruppo BDS Roma, Italy
ISM, – Milano, Italy
Parallelo Palestina, Italy
private, Italy
Rete di Solidarietà con la Palestina – Milano, Italy
Rete Romana di Solidarietà al Popolo Palestinese, Italy
U.S. Citizens for Peace & Justice – Rome, Italy
Un Ponte per, Italy
Artists Against Occupation, Japan
Palestine Forum Japan, Japan
Comité pour une Paix Juste au Proche-Orient, Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Netherlands Palestine Committee (NPK), Netherlands
Service and Research Centre for Palestine (docP), Netherlands
The Association of Norwegian NGOs for Palestine, Norway
Alternative Information Center (AIC), Palestine
Lajee Center, Aida Refugee Camp, Palestine
Polish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Poland
Edinburgh Students For Justice in Palestine, Scotland
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Scotland
We are all Hana Shalabi, Scotland
Students for Palestinian Rights – Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, Scotland
BDS South Africa, South Africa
Palestine Peace & Solidarity in South Korea, South Korea
Al-Quds Málaga, Málaga, Spain
Asociacion Al Quds, Spain
Asociación de Amistad Palestina-Granada Turab, Spain
Comité de Solidaridad con la Causa Árabe, Spain
Junts Associació Catalana de Jueus i Palestins,, Spain
La Comuna Presxs del franquismo/ Fed.Castilla y Leon, Burgos, España
Plataforma solidaria con Palestina en Valladolid, Spain
Red Solidaria contra la ocupación de Palestina (RESCOP), Spain
SODePAZ, Spain
Taula per Palestina, Palma, Spain
BDS Schweiz, Switzerland
BDS Zürich Switzerland, Switzerland
Gerechtigkeit und Frieden in Palästina Bern, Switzerland
BDS Thailand, Thailand
All African Women’s Group, London, UK
Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine (APJP), UK
Boycott Israel Network, UK
Global Women’s Strike, London, UK
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network UK, UK
Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods, UK
Legal Action for Women, London, UK
Liverpool Friends of Palestine, UK
Palestine Solidarity Campaign, UK
Payday Men’s Network, UK
Portsmouth & South Downs Palestine Solidarity Campaign, UK
Queer Strike, UK
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, UK
Shalimar, UK
War on Want, UK
Women of Colour in the Global Women’s Strike, UK
14 Friends of Palestine, Marin, US
Al-Awda NY, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, US
Al-Nakba Awareness Project, Oregon, US
American Iranian Friendship Comte (AIFC), New York, US
Bay Area Women in Black, US
Bard Students for Justice in the Middle East, Annandale-on-Hudson, US
BDS Los Angeles, US
Boulder Palestine Film Festival, US
Boulder WILPF, US
Chicago Faith Coalition for Middle East Policy, US
Chicago Faith Coalition on Middle East Policy, US
Chico Palestine Action Group, US
CODEPINK Women for Peace, US
Colorado BDS Campaign, Colorado, US
Cornell SJP, US
Corvallis-Albany Friends of Middle East Peace, Corvallis, Oregan, US
CU-Divest!, Colorado, US
Culture and Conflict Forum, US
Free Palestine Movement, California, US
Friends of Palestine Wisconsin, US
Friends of Sabeel-North America, US
Guilford College Students for Justice in Palestine, US
Interdenominational Advocates for Peace, US
Interfaith Community for Palestinian Rights, Texas, US
International Solidarity Movement – Northern California, US
Israel Palestine Task Force CA/NV Conference United Methodist Church, US
Jews for Palestinian Right of Return, US
Justice for Palestinians, California, US
Labor for Palestine, US
Lutherans for Justice in the Holy Land, Oredan, US
National Lawyers Guild – Free Palestine Subcommittee, US
National Lawyers Guild – International Committee, US
NorCal Friends of Sabeel, US
North Coast Coalition for Palestine, US
North Texas BDS, US
Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, Wisconsin, US
Minnesota Coalition for Palestinian Rights, Minneapolis, US
Middle East Peace Now, Minneapolis, US
Minnesota Anti-War Cpmmittee, Minneapolis, US
Palestine Israel Action Group (PIAG), US
Palestine Solidarity Group – Chicago, US
Palestine Study Group Peace and Social Justice Center, US
Palestine-Israel Working Group of Nevada County, US
Payday Men’s Network US, US
Peace and Social Justice Center of South Central Kansas, US
Peace Panel Project, US
Salaam Shalom, North Carolina, US
St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee, US
Students for Justice in Palestine at Brooklyn College, US
Students for Justice in Palestine at Hunter College, US
Students for Justice in Palestine at John Jay College, US
Tiffin Area Pax Christi, US
Tucson Women In Black, US
Network for Environmental & Economic Responsibility United Church of Christ, Tennessee, USA
University of Denver Students for Justice in Palestine, US
US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, US
US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, US
Vancouver for Peace, US
Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel, Vermont, US
WESPAC Foundation, New York, US
WI Middle East Lobby Group, US



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| Russia slams EU: ending arms embargo necessitates S-300 as ‘stabilizing factor’ in Syria!

Russia slams end of EU arms embargo, calls S-300s ‘stabilizing factor’ in Syria ~ RT.

The failure of the European Union to agree on a new arms embargo for Syria is undermining the peace process, Moscow says. But the delivery of S-300 surface-to-air missiles may help restrain warmongers.

The comments come from Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, referring to the results of Monday’s meeting in Brussels. After a lengthy negotiating session, EU governments failed to resolve their differences and allowed a ban on arming the Syrian opposition to expire, with France and Britain scoring an apparent victory at the expense of EU unity.

The EU’s move, which the Russian diplomat branded as an “example of double standards”, opens the door for Britain and France to supply weapons to Syrian rebels fighting the regime of President Bashar Assad.

Criticizing Europe’s decision to open the way for potential arms shipments to Syrian rebels, Russia insists that its own sale of arms to the Syrian government helps the international effort to end the two-year-long conflict, the diplomat added. He was referring to the delivery of the advanced S-300 long-range air defense systems, which Russia is carrying out under a contract signed with Syria several years ago.

S-300 anti-aircraft missile system. (RIA Novosti / Vladislav Belogrud)

S-300 anti-aircraft missile system. (RIA Novosti / Vladislav Belogrud)


“Those systems by definition cannot be used by militant groups on the battlefield,” Ryabkov said. “We consider this delivery a factor of stabilization. We believe that moves like this one to a great degree restrain some hotheads from escalating the conflict to the international scale, from involving external forces.”

The S-300 is a series of Russian long-range surface-to-air missile systems designed to intercept ballistic missiles, regarded as the most potent weaponry of its class. The missiles are capable of engaging aerial targets as far away as 200km, depending on the version used.

However, Russia has neither confirmed, nor denied “the status of those shipments.”

“The only thing I can tell is that we are not refusing from them,”Sergey Ryabkov said. “We see that this question worries our partners, but we have no reason to reconsider our position in this sphere,” he said.

Despite the uncertainty around S-300 shipments, Israel said it will know how to act if Russia does supply surface-to-air missiles.

“I can say that the shipments are not on their way yet,” Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon told reporters. “I hope they will not leave, and if, God forbid, they reach Syria, we will know what to do,” he said, without disclosing his sources.

Israel is concerned by possible Russian supplies to Syria, saying that advanced weapon systems could end up in the hands of Iran or the Lebanese Hezbollah group.

Once the Russian SAM missiles are deployed by Syria, it will have a better control of its airspace. The country endured three airstrikes this year, which are widely thought to have been conducted by Israel, but were never officially confirmed as such.

Britain and France have made a commitment not to deliver arms to the Syrian opposition “at this stage,” an EU declaration said. EU officials, however, said the commitment effectively expires on August 1.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has defended the lifting of the EU’s embargo, saying that Britain would only send arms to Syrian rebels with other countries. At the same time he assured that this would not violate international law.

London and Paris have argued support for rebels fighting Assad by allowing EU arms deliveries, despite the fact that extremist elements are known to work alongside the rebels.

Other EU governments, led by Austria and Sweden, argued that sending more weapons to the region would increase violence and spread instability.


United Kingdom Secretary of State for Foreign and Commenwealth Affairs William Hague (L) speaks with Luxembourg Foreign Affairs minister Jean Asselborn (C) and Austrian Foreign minister Michael Spindelegger (R) prior to a Foreign Affairs Council on May 27, 2013, at the European Union headquarters in Brussels. (AFP Photo / Georges Gobet)

United Kingdom Secretary of State for Foreign and Commenwealth Affairs William Hague (L) speaks with Luxembourg Foreign Affairs minister Jean Asselborn (C) and Austrian Foreign minister Michael Spindelegger (R) prior to a Foreign Affairs Council on May 27, 2013, at the European Union headquarters in Brussels. (AFP Photo / Georges Gobet)


Russia’s envoy to NATO Aleksandr Grushko said that the abolition of the EU arms embargo on the Syrian opposition will only exacerbate armed conflict in that country.

“We need to refrain from taking steps that would be contrary to this logic. Such steps include armed or non-lethal support to the opposition. This just adds fuel to the fire,” Grushko said on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Moscow and Washington remain undecided as to the content of a proposed international conference on Syria, according to Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov.

“There remains a gap between the positions of Russia and the US regarding some issues and aspects of this major international crisis,” he emphasized.

“And we, for our part, cannot agree to hold such events [the international conference on Syria] amid a situation where partners and possible participants in such a conference seek to impose solutions on the Syrian people from the outside, as well as predetermine the course of a transitional process, the parameters of which have not been determined yet,” Ryabkov said.


S-300_PMU2 A

| Illegal regime-change row on arming Syria rebels deeply divides EU: UK + France lose support!

Row on arming Syria rebels deeply divides EU, Britain and France loose support ~ BRUSSELS – Agence France-Presse.

A fierce row over whether to arm Syrian rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad‘s forces has left the European Union deeply divided days before the bloc needs to decide on renewing existing sanctions.

After months of bitter argument the issue comes to a head next week, with EU foreign ministers pressed for an answer at talks Monday, their last get-together before the expiry at midnight May 25 of far-reaching EU sanctions against the Assad regime, including an arms embargo.

Britain and France want the arms embargo maintained against Assad but relaxed against the opposition Syrian National Coalition (SNC). At best, they said, it would be lifted entirely for the rebels; at worst changed, with “some very serious amendment that allows us to send them more assistance.”

But other EU nations and aid groups are vehemently opposed to any change, citing the huge risks involved.

“Transferring more weapons to Syria can only exacerbate a hellish scenario for civilians,” said aid organisation Oxfam’s Anna Macdonald. “The UK and France are charting a risky course of action. Diplomacy should be the priority.” After a flurry of negotiations, held daily at different levels over the past week as the May 31 deadline nears, Brussels diplomats and officials say the 27 EU nations have split into three groups over the question.

Should the bloc fail to agree a joint position by May 25, the whole sanctions regime including the arms embargo would lapse, allowing the delivery of weapons to both rebels and the regime.

“We haven’t taken the decision to supply arms but we believe member states should have the flexibility to do so,” said a UK diplomat who asked not to be identified.

Sweden, Austria oppose move

Violently opposed to the demands by Britain and France, which appear to have lost the support of Italy and Spain, are Scandinavian nations led by Sweden as well as Austria and the Czech Republic.

They want the current sanctions regime simply rolled over as it stands on the grounds that more weapons will cause more bloodshed and could end up in the hands of the growing numbers of radical Islamists joining rebel ranks.

The third group of nations, some of whom complained of being held to ransom by Britain and France, are seeking a compromise to avoid an embarrassing EU split.

“It’s of paramount importance for the EU to come up with a common position,” saidGerman Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Friday.

“The worst would be to for Europe to show its divisions to Syria. That would likely very much please the Assad regime.

Eight options laid out

The EU’s diplomatic service, headed by Catherine Ashton, is cautioning capitals against “any counter-productive move” that could hamper current Russia-US efforts to relaunch peace talks in Geneva, expected to take place next month.

“This could call for allowing more time for reflection on the issue of lifting the arms embargo,” said an internal note that reflects moves by some nations to renew the sanctions for a short period, thus allowing time to see if the so-called “Geneva 2” takes off.

Of seven to eight options laid out by the EU’s diplomatic service, one likely compromise would be an agreement that EU states could provide the rebel coalition with arms but only those set out on an agreed list of lethal weapons.

Another suggestion would be to accompany supplies with safeguards to stop weapons ending up in the wrong hands, or to issue export licences on a case-by-case basis.

In a note to Ashton weeks ago, London and Paris argued that lifting the arms embargo against the opposition would put pressure on Assad to find a political settlement, rather than exacerbate war.

“It is only by increasing the pressure on the regime that we can help bring (Assad) to the negotiating table and keep open the prospect of a political solution,” said British Foreign Secretary William Hague and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

But EU officials close to the debate dub such moves to pressure Assad via threats of tipping the military balance as “simply naive”.

“The only threat capable of scaring Assad would be for Moscow or Tehran to threaten to cut off assistance,” one official told AFP on condition of anonymity.


his citizen journalism image provided by Qusair Lens which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian rebels gathering at one of the front lines, in Qusair, Homs province. May 20 AP photo

 This citizen journalism image provided by Qusair Lens which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian rebels gathering at one of the front lines, in Qusair, Homs province. May 20 AP photo


| IMF head Christine Lagarde in court charged with embezzlement and fraud!

Head of the IMF Christine Lagarde in court charged with embezzlement and fraud ~ Peter AllenEvening Standard.

The head of the International Monetary Fund arrived in the dock of a Paris courtroom today as she braced herself to be formally charged with embezzlement and fraud.

Christine Lagarde’s humiliation is not only a massive personal blow which could lead to her resignation, but one which will plunge the world’s banking system into further ignominy.

The clearly nervous 57-year-old said nothing to reporters as she entered the Court of Justice of the Republic, a special tribunal set up to judge the conduct of France’s government ministers,  shortly after 8.30am.

Lagarde faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail if found guilty of the very serious charges.

It was when she was President Nicolas Sarkozy’s finance minister that she is said to have authorised a 270 million pounds payout to one of his prominent supporters, so abusing her government position.

The money went to Bernard Tapie, a convicted football match fixer and tax dodger who supported Lagarde and Sarkozy’s UMP party.

It came after Dominque Strauss-Kahn, another senior French politician, was sacked as IMF chief following allegations that he attempted to rape a chambermaid in a New York hotel.

Ms Lagarde began campaigning to succeed Mr Strauss-Kahn soon after his arrest for the alleged crime.

But now it is Ms Lagarde, a lawyer and retired synchronised swimming star, who is facing a long court process of her own, as well as a possible jail sentence.

The scandal will not only pile further shame on France’s political class, but worry politicians and bankers desperately trying to resolve the global financial crisis.

Mr Tapie, the former head of adidas in France, claims he was cheated out of millions by Credit Lyonnais bank when the sports kit empire was sold in 1993.

In 2007, Ms Largarde ended the epic dispute by ordering a panel of judges to arbitrate and, in turn, they awarded Tapie the damages.

Opposition MPs were furious, with former presidential candidate Francois Bayrou accusing Ms Lagarde of ‘dipping into the taxpayers’ pocket for a private beneficiary.’

Mr Strauss-Kahn’s Socialist Party also accused Ms Lagarde of improper conduct, pointing to the fact that Mr Tapie was a vocal supporter of Sarkozy.

Ms Lagarde’s lawyer, Yves Repiquet, said the inquiry was ‘in no way incompatible’ with her new job, and expected the case to be dismissed.

Ms Lagarde denies any wrongdoing, saying before today’s court appearance: ‘If it’s decided to continue with this inquiry it won’t be particularly surprising. Personally, it doesn’t worry me at all – I didn’t benefit personally’.

But it has been widely reported in the French media that investigators intend to charge her with fraud and embezzlement.

Le Monde said that magistrates had already written to Mrs Lagarde to tell her that she should not expect any special treatment because of her high-profile international job.


DAVOS/SWITZERLAND, 25JAN07 - Christine Lagarde...

DAVOS/SWITZERLAND, 25JAN07 – Christine Lagarde, Minister of Trade of France captured during the session ‘Iraq: Uniting for Stability’ at the Annual Meeting 2007 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 25, 2007. Copyright by World Economic Forum swiss-image.ch/Photo by Remy Steinegger (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

| Don’t be gullible – it’s April Fools’ Day!

April Fools’ Day

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

April Fools’ Day is celebrated in many countries on April 1 every year. Sometimes referred to as All Fools’ Day, April 1 is not a national holiday, but is widely recognized and celebrated as a day when people play practical jokes and hoaxes on each other.

In ItalyFrance and Belgium, children and adults traditionally tack paper fishes on each other’s back as a trick and shout “April fish!” in their local languages (pesce d’aprile!poisson d’avril! and aprilvis! in ItalianFrenchand Flemish, respectively). Such fish feature prominently on many French late 19th to early 20th century April Fools’ Day postcards.

The earliest recorded association between April 1 and foolishness can be found in Chaucer‘s Canterbury Tales (1392). Many writers suggest that the restoration of January 1 by Pope Gregory XIII as New Year’s Day of the Gregorian Calendar in the 16th century was responsible for the creation of the holiday, sometimes questioned for earlier references[1].



A ticket to “Washing the Lions” in London

Precursors of April Fools’ Day include the Roman festival of Hilaria, held March 25,[2] and the Medieval Feast of Fools, held December 28,[3] still a day on which pranks are played in Spanish-speaking countries.

In Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (1392), the “Nun’s Priest’s Tale” is set Syn March bigan thritty dayes and two.[4] Modern scholars believe that there is a copying error in the extant manuscripts and that Chaucer actually wrote, Syn March was gon.[5] Thus, the passage originally meant 32 days after April, i.e. May 2,[6] the anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia, which took place in 1381. Readers apparently misunderstood this line to mean “March 32”, i.e. April 1.[7] In Chaucer’s tale, the vain cock Chauntecleer is tricked by a fox.

In 1508, French poet Eloy d’Amerval referred to a poisson d’avril (April fool, literally “April fish”), a possible reference to the holiday.[8] In 1539, Flemish poet Eduard de Dene wrote of a nobleman who sent his servants on foolish errands on April 1.[6] In 1686, John Aubrey referred to the holiday as “Fooles holy day”, the first British reference.[6] On April 1, 1698, several people were tricked into going to the Tower of London to “see the Lions washed”.[6]

In the Middle Ages, up until the late 18th century, New Year’s Day was celebrated on March 25 (Feast of the Annunciation) in most European towns.[9] In some areas of France, New Year’s was a week-long holiday ending on April 1.[2][3] Many writers suggest that April Fools originated because those who celebrated on January 1 made fun of those who celebrated on other dates.[2] The use of January 1 as New Year’s Day was common in France by the mid-16th century,[6] and this date was adopted officially in 1564 by the Edict of Roussillon.

A study in the 1950s, by folklorists Iona and Peter Opie, found that in the UK and those countries whose traditions derived from there, the joking ceased at midday.[10] But this practice appears to have lapsed in more recent years.



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