| Reflection: Why I Think Islamists Are Anti-Islam ~ Dr. David Liepert.

Why I Think Islamists Are Anti-IslamHuffPost.

The first Muslims, following after Muhammad, fought for a world where Islam was allowed, not imposed. The world they won was a world with religious liberty, not a world with one faith was forced on everyone else.

The religion of Islam, the Faith of Abraham as proclaimed by Muhammad — peace be upon them both — is all about relationships: our relationship with our Creator who made everything informing the way we relate to everything. Muslims are God’s servants, tasked to live our lives for the sake of you all.

So how does the so-called Islamist world-view, one that puts promoting Islam (and generally, one specific sort of Islamic ideology alone) ahead of egalitarian justice, or freedom, or sometimes human life itself — one that’s shared by those misguided criminals behind the killing of innocent Christians in Pakistan, innocent Muslims in the Middle East, innocent believers of every faith anywhere, innocent shoppers in Kenya, for God’s sake! — make any sense, from an Islamic perspective?

It doesn’t.

I’ve read a vast array of definitions for what “Islamist” really means, just as I’ve read a vast array of ideological descriptions for every group of Muslims currently killing each other (and others too, compounding the tragedy) over who should be in charge of our beliefs and real estate. And while each group believes they’re fundamentally different, I think they’re really the same, and fundamentally opposed to the Islam proclaimed by Muhammad.

Islamists — no matter whether they belong to al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Iran’s Ulema and Republican Guard, Egypt’s Army, or the Muslim Brotherhood or any other Muslim group with aggressive political aspirations — want to be in charge, and they think that when they are then their own version of Islam must be imposed. Muhammad — on the other hand — didn’t think he was in charge (because he knew God was) and he lived his life as a leader of equals.

And once he began following the path of Islam he didn’t impose it on anyone.

Now, I know there are some who will take immediate issue with that statement, because of the actions he was forced to take in Medina, after Medina’s diverse communities (defined by tribe, blood and religion) joined together in a sovereign constitutional state with Muhammad at their head.

In a nutshell, what happened is that some — not all — of Medina’s Jewish tribes betrayed that state to outside forces, and were punished for it.

However, like it or not, the punishment inflicted upon the Banu Qurayza wasn’t decreed by Muhammad, or Islamic law.

Instead, it was decreed by Sa’d, an arbitrator requested by the Banu Qurayza themselves. And as he’d already warned them ahead of time, when asked, Sa’d declared that because they were Jewish, they should be punished according to the Torah.

At Hudabiyyah when Muhammad first returned to Mecca, he could have conquered it then and there. Instead, he accepted the terms the Meccans offered and humbly left, because he knew God had a plan. And for the rest of his life he promised to protect the rights and freedoms of non-Muslims too, and declared that Muslims who followed after him should do the same. He created a place where Islam was allowed — not imposed — and he allowed and protected other faiths besides: Christianity for Christians and Judaism for Jews. He politely discussed religion with anyone, even those who disagreed with him, and he followed a faith that honored the faithful observances of others. In fact, Medina’s Constitution even made provisions for the inclusion of polytheists and unbelievers!

When Muslims took over Jerusalem, they left the Christians in charge and only forced them to let the Jews they’d evicted back in. In Egypt, they made sure Christians received the same rights, freedom and justice as Muslims. In Persia, faced with a tribe that followed sexual practices condemned by the Quran as sinful, Muslim judges declared that since they weren’t Muslim, Muslim laws couldn’t be applied to them. And in the Middle East, when villages that had pretended they’d joined Islam — thinking they’d gain an advantage, which they didn’t — wanted to change back without consequence, they did.

For decades now, as a convert Muslim –who joined because I know it’s right, and because I truly love and honor Muhammad, his example, and the example of those who knew and followed him– I’ve watched Muslims here, there and everywhere struggling with freedom, and the fact that freedom sometimes means choosing to do things you know are wrong. I’ve always asked them a simple question: If God didn’t intend us to have the right to make even bad choices, why did He give us free will at all?

I’ve listened patiently to others who struggle with what they perceive to be their responsibility to impose their choices upon others, things like the Hijab: and while no-one has ever been able to explain to me when Hijab became a head-scarf (in Islam’s earliest history it wasn’t an article of clothing at all. Instead, it was an attitude of modesty, or a curtain) I’ve always pointed out that even regarding the Islamic principle of modesty, the Qur’an‘s not telling us to make other people do good things, it’s telling us to do good things ourselves.

Perhaps the reason why the Qur’an condemns coercion in matters of religion so explicitly is because anytime you try to impose something — even something good — you make sure that it’s opposed. Human nature being what it is, imposing “good” actually promotes the opposite.

However, as I watch our world devolving, my questions have become more urgent:

  • How is God served by condemning, opposing or killing people who aren’t actively trying to condemn, oppose or kill you? Especially when the Qur’an so clearly specifically condemns violence, murder and killing? It even condemns unkind words, feeling too much suspicion of others, and mean-spirited argumentativeness!

  • If God wants someone dead, don’t you think He’s more than capable of looking after that Himself?

  • When the Qur’an so specifically commends the protection of Mosques, Churches, Synagogues and each individual person’s religious freedom, don’t you think that means Muslims should do the same?

I think that the reason why Islam’s so unpopular today when it was so popular back when it began is simple: If Muslims are supposed to be the defenders of life, liberty, freedom and justice as we tell ourselves, then looking at our impact on the world today, I think it’s pretty obvious we’re just doing it wrong.


Medina under Muhammad was a marketplace for more than goods and services, it was also a marketplace for ideas. Muhammad’s Islam flourished there because people thought it was better, not because they were afraid to do anything else. Under him, the rules were simple, and the same justice, freedom and rights linked to responsibilities applied for everyone.

Back then, if Muslims knew they had to do something they knew was wrong — like killing, oppressing or coercing other people, or lying, cheating or stealing — in order to achieve a worthy goal they just didn’t.

Muhammad and the first and best Muslims who followed after him lived their lives to serve the common good, and left things they couldn’t control — things like the lives of others, and the future — up to God, because in their Islam power, ultimate authority, ultimate responsibility, and glory belonged to God alone. Perhaps the greatest Islamist tragedy is just how many Islamists today honestly believe that those things should belong to them because they think God gave it to them.

My Islamist brothers, if you really believe that’s true, then I think you need to know more about a wonderful man I know, named Muhammad.


| Just a Few Words, From God: On Iron!

Just a Few Words, From God: On Iron ~ Supererogatory.

Stars are powered by fusion; in their superhot cores, the lightest elements are pressed together, by almost unimaginable force, into heavier elements, unleashing furious bursts of energy, which we perceive as light, though like the fullness of the world, we can only physically capture, through our eyes, part of this output. As stars die, they seek, almost like living beings, to desperately fuse, out of heavier elements, still heavier elements, but their cause is doomed. They die.

Some unimaginably—the weightiest become black holes, disappearing from our horizons—some spectacularly—they implode and explode—and some sadly—fading away, into small and pathetic things. But through their deaths comes life. Yours and mine.   It is fusion, and specifically the fusion at the desperate end of a star’s lifespan, that produces the heavier elements, which in turn have rained down onto Earth from comets and comes into us from afar—needless to say, these elements, which include the elements necessary for our existence, do not come “from” the Earth, but from the cosmos around the Earth.


It is not terribly inaccurate thus to say: Life here began out there.  (When I first posted this to Facebook, a friend added: Iron has the highest binding energy per nucleon, making it the most stable. When stars are making bigger and bigger elements from fusion, they eventually generate iron. However, since iron is so stable, it actually takes more energy to fuse iron into a heavier element. At this point, the star is unable to produce more energy, and it eventually collapses and dies because of this. So that verse in Surat Hadid is additionally significant because Iron specifically is the ‘strongest’ element from the perspective of stellar evolution.)

And then I came across the 25th verse of Surat al-Hadid, which includes this passage: ‘…And we sent down iron.’ Just like that. One simple verb, into which centuries of human knowledge are collapsed. God has spoken Truth. The Universe is His imagination, just as you and I are. Be and it is. And we are. The verb, “anzala” (anzalna, ‘We make descend’) is the same verb, from the same root, as we use for revelation—as in His Word, coming down to us via Muhammad, peace be upon him.

He sent down iron. 

Muhammad Iqbal, the great South Asian philosopher, said the Qur’an includes 3 types of signs (in Arabic, ayahs): The verses themselves (ayahs), historical evidences, and the natural world. Literally then iron is a sign of His Will and His Presence, just as Revelation is, and both came to us from outside and beyond the world, and it is to that realm which we cannot perceive, but which we feel especially in this month, that we are called back. No matter what you are going through right now, and maybe you’re in a bad place, remember this.

He made you not for this place, but for another. And He calls us back.

truth 01

May we be joined in the gardens beyond description and entered into the company of those we love and those we admire, and may we be given peace, may we be healed of all our hurts, forgiven all our wrongs, elevated beyond ourselves, and given fullness and fulfillness in His shade. On these nights, when the heavens are apparent to us—step outside the mosque, and look up, just for a moment—think of what he sends down for us, and how this speaks to His creation of us, but what comes down comes down only for this reason: For us to ascend.


no terrorism in islam1


| Aleppo: Syrian rebels execute teenager Mohammad Kattaa in front of his parents!

Aleppo: Syrian rebels execute teenager Mohammad Kattaa in front of his parents, say reports ~ ALISTAIR DAWBERThe Independent.

A teenage boy from the Syrian city of Aleppo is reported to have been executed in front of his family by an Islamist rebel group, which accused him of blasphemy.

Graphic images of 15 year-old Mohammad Kattaa, a coffee seller in the war torn city, appeared on the internet yesterday. They appeared to show that the boy had been shot in the mouth and through the neck.

Several reports suggest that he was found arguing with another boy on Saturday, during which he used the name of the Prophet Mohammed flippantly. One report suggested that the other boy had attempted to get a free coffee, leading to Mr Kattaa to say that, “even if Muhammad comes down, I will not give it as debt.”

He was later said to have been detained by an extremist group in the area, beaten and then shot when his mother and father had been found so that they could be forced to witness the execution.

“An unidentified Islamist rebel group shot dead a 15-year-old child who worked as a coffee seller in Aleppo, after they accused him of blasphemy,” said Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman.

“They spoke classical Arabic, not Syrian dialect. They shot the boy twice, once in the mouth, another in his neck, in front of his mother, his father and his siblings,” he said.

Later reports suggested that the group that is said to have carried out the killing had links to a number of al-Qa’ida cells operating in Syria.

According to the AFP news agency, Syrian government forces are likely to target the area around Aleppo after taking the rebel-held town of Qusair last week. With support from the Lebanese militant group, Hezbollah, Syrian forces have made significant gains in recent weeks and now have rebel strongholds in the north of the country in their sights.

“It is likely the battle for Aleppo will start in the coming hours or days, and its aim is to reclaim the towns and villages in the province,” the source told AFP.


Mushroom 3


| Announcing a Poetry Festival for the Mamilla Cemetery in Jerusalem!

Announcing a Poetry Festival for the Mamilla Cemetery in Jerusalem ~  maryvelma.

ARCH presents

Mamilla Poetry Festival

“A Dialogue with Memory”

7-9 September 2013


In cooperation with
Mahmoud Darwish Foundation and Museum, Ramallah
Campaign to Preserve Mamilla Jerusalem Cemetery

Guidelines & Submission Form (PDF download)

In Jerusalem, and I mean within the ancient walls,
I walk from one epoch to another without a memory
to guide me.

– Mahmoud Darwish

Resting just west of the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, Mamilla Cemetery—necropolis of shrines, distinguished mausoleums, modest graves, and the ancient Mamilla Pool—is facing final desecration and destruction.

Mamilla’s venerable history is as rich as it is layered. Having been adopted first by the Byzantines, whose 4th century church and cemetery marked it as holy ground, Mamilla was then designated an Islamic burial site as early as the 7th century, when the remains of the very first Muslims—the Sahabah, companions of the Prophet Muhammad—were reputedly laid to rest in its sacred soil. Aside from a brief period as a Christian cemetery during the Crusades, Mamilla served without interruption as Muslim burial grounds over the course of a 1,400 year-period of Islamic rule over Jerusalem. Growing to become the largest Islamic cemetery in the city, it housed a diverse community of Muslims, from the respected soldiers of ruler Saladin to generations of Jerusalemites spanning a wide socio-economic spectrum. Tombs of emirs, muftis, Sufi shrines and Mamluk-era mausoleums—amongst other ancient monuments and gravestones—further attest to its hallowed history. Indeed, so holy was Mamilla that in the 14th century A’lam, interment there was likened to being buried in heaven.

Today, Mamilla stands not only as a symbol and vestige of Palestinian—and Muslim—religious and cultural heritage but also as a site of exceptional universal value.  In light of its sacred significance, the plan to build a so-called “Museum of Dignity and Tolerance” on its soil is an affront to memory and identity.

Encouraged by a renewed hope for the preservation of Mamilla, ARCH (Alliance to Restore Cultural Heritage in the Holy City of Jerusalem) joins hands with the Mahmoud Darwish Foundation and Museum and the Campaign to Preserve Mamilla Jerusalem Cemetery to organise an International Poetry Festival.

With the aim of protecting and preserving the cemetery as a place of living memory and of eternal sanctity, we welcome poetry that celebrates Mamilla as a resting place for generations of Palestinian families.  Likewise, we welcome submissions that meditate upon and imagine the lives of notables and ordinary people alike who have been buried in its holy grounds.

Inspired by Seamus Heaney’s claim that every poet has double citizenship—one of locality, one of conscience—we invite poets to reflect upon locality to explore universal themes that transcend geographical boundaries.

Poetry’s crucial role in the formation of cultural identity is undeniable, especially when it provides agency in the protection and preservation of memory.  As Mahmoud Darwish affirmed, “Poems can’t establish a state.  But they can establish a metaphorical homeland in the minds of the people.  I think my poems have built some houses in this landscape.”

This land absorbs the skins of martyrs
This land promises wheat and stars
Worship it!
We are its salt and its water
We are its wound, but a wound that fights.

– Mahmoud Darwish

A distinguished panel of six literary figures from around the world will review all content received to select twenty final submissions, which will then be performed live (or digitally broadcast) between the 7th and 9th of September at the Mamilla Poetry Festival, hosted by the Mahmoud Darwish Foundation and Museum in Ramallah. The festival will be recorded, and then streamed online; finally, an anthology will be published. Circumstances permitting, the festival will conclude with a candlelight reading of Mahmoud Darwish’s poetry in Mamilla Cemetery and/or at other vulnerable cultural sites in the Holy City of Jerusalem.

In addition to conducting widespread outreach to generate global awareness and solicit international involvement, we are committed to galvanizing nearby communities and engaging local youth. Not only will a special prize be offered for the best poem submitted by a secondary-school student, but local schools will also be invited to attend and students will be encouraged to participate.

We invite all interested parties to visit the cemetery—albeit virtually—by reviewing the biographical details of some of the earliest-recorded deceased; these can be accessed via an online petition to protect the cemetery from further encroachment that was signed by 60 descendants of those same deceased.

For further information:

Petition to preserve Mamilla

“The Mamilla Cemetery; A Buried History” by Asem Khalidi

Download the PDF file of “Mamluk Epitaphs from Mamilla Cemetery” by Tawfiq Da‘ādli






| Truthfulness and ever decreasing circles – Hajj in the Bible!


Hajj in the Bible ~ IslamiCity.


A cursory analysis into the word “Hajj” as found in the Old Testament.






When many Jews and Christians view Islam from the outside, they find parallels to their own faiths that usually inspire a great deal of curiosity. These parallels are often doctrinal, sometimes regarding the biographies of Prophets shared between the three Abrahamic faiths like Moses and Jesus (peace be upon them). Yet, sometimes striking parallels are found by the more discerning eye. Deep inquests often reveal textual and lexical similarities that are difficult-if not impossible-to explain by mere theories of one tradition borrowing from another.

As millions upon millions of Muslim devotees engage in the rites of the Hajj pilgrimage, one of the 5 pillars of Islam, we can peer into the terms used in this age-old practice that lead us to a time long before the Prophet Muhammad  was even born. Let us look at the word al-Hajj itself:

الحجّ (al-Hajj)

Typically, the entire Arabic vocabulary, like its sisters in the Semitic linguistic group, consists of words structured from trilateral triconsonantal roots. In this case the root is Hajaj (حجج). According to the classical Arabic lexicon Lisān al-`Arab it is defined:

القصد. حج إلينا فلان أي قدم
“Purpose. As in, ‘So-and-so did Hajj unto us,’ which means he presented himself before us.”1

So the general lexical meaning of the word is “intended purpose”. In the context of the Hajj, the Ka`bah within the Meccan Sanctuary is the intended destination and purpose. To list usages of this word in an Islamic context would be, for most Muslims, an appeal to the very obvious as stories of its wonder and splendor that have been related to them since childhood. However, if we peer beyond the context of Islamic rites and deep into the past, do we find this word used in the previous traditions of the Old Testament?

The answer is in the affirmative. The book of Exodus contains the following verse in reference to a Hajj in the time of Moses:

והיה היום הזה לכם לזכרון וחגתם אתו חג ליהוה לדרתיכם חקת עולם תחגהו
wa-haya ha-yōm haza lakhem li-zikrōn wa-khagōtem otō khag li-Yehōwa li-dorotaychem khuqat `olam takhaguhū
“And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.” [Exodus 12:14]

In this verse the King James translators rendered the uninflected noun Khag (חג) as “feast”. This word Khag is wholly cognate to the Arabic Hajj (حج). Elsewhere in the verse the word Khag is inflected as khagotem and takhaguhū. One must pay attention to the fact that the Hebrew phonetic “kh” (ח) is the pharyngeal fricative “h” (ح) in Arabic. Also, one must note that the phonetic “g” (ג) is cognate to the Arabic “j” (ج). So for analytical purposes in this context the verse would be rendered:

“And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a Hajj to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a Hajj by an ordinance forever.”

Another verse using this root is the following:

ואחר באו משה ואהרן ויאמרו אל-פרעה כה-אמר יהוה אלהי ישראל שלח את-עמי ויחגו לי במדבר
wa-ākhar bā’u Mōshe wa-Aharōn wa-yomru el-Par`o koh-amar Yahweh Elohay Yishrael shalach et-`ami wa-yakhugū li ba-midbār
“And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go , that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness.” [Exodus 5:1]

The inflected word that the King James translators rendered “feast” is yakhuggū (יחגו) which is cognate to the Arabic “yuhajjū” (يُحَجّوا) so for analytical purposes the verse would be rendered in this context as:

“And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a Hajj unto me in the wilderness.”

This is not to suggest that Moses and Aaron went to Mecca and performed Hajj as Muslims know it today. It is merely to exemplify that a consecrated journey and pilgrimage unto God at His Temple did, indeed, precede the rise of Islam in the 7th Century CE.

An additional and astonishing dimension to this that makes the concept of lexical borrowing between the Old Testament and the Qur’an improbable, if not outright impossible, is found in an alternate form of the root in Hebrew, Khug (חוג). Friedrich Wilhelm Gesenius (1846) defines this word:

“חוג To describe a circle, to draw a circle, as with compasses. Job 26:10…m. a circle, sphere, used of the arch or vault of the sky, Pro. 8:27; Job 22:14; of the world, Isa. 40:22.”2

Let us look at the verses he has cited above:

“When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass (חוג) upon the face of the depth.” [Proverbs 8:27]
“Thick clouds are a covering to him, that he seeth not; and he walketh in the circuit of heaven (וחוג שמים).” [Job 22:14]
“It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth (חוג הארץ), and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in.” [Isaiah 40:22]

Thus, this word not only means sacred pilgrimage and feast unto God in the Bible, it also means to encircle. To any Muslim this will be a striking discovery.

Semitic languages have been, since time immemorial, broad and deep systems of expression where one word’s many variant, but supplementary, meanings all coalesce to a greater understanding of that lexeme. So in this case we have a root which has a form meaning a feast, also meaning a pilgrimage, and in one form meaning to encircle! The Hajj pilgrimage, which is at its core an encircling of the Ka`bah called Tawāf, is concluded with none other than the Feast of the Sacrifice, Eid al-Adha, to commemorate Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son at God’s command. Borrowing all these meanings buried in lexica that did not even exist until hundreds of years after the life of the Prophet Muhammad  would require no short of a Semitic linguist and Biblical scholar. It should be noted that the Bible itself would not be available until 200-300 years after the passing of the Prophet Muhammad ((The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, vol. 4, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, p. 982)) . Such lexical depth and lucidity is consistently found throughout the Qur’an as God has stated therein:

“This Qur’an could not have been authored by any other than God, as it rectifies what came before it and elucidates what was in the previous scriptures. Let there be no doubt that this is, indeed, from the Lord of all Worlds.” (Qur’an, 10:37)

Source: SuhaibWebb – Shibli Zaman

  1. Lisan al-`Arab, Ibn al-Mandhur
  2. The Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon, Friedrich Wilhelm Gesenius, p. 263



islam (Photo credit: romeroleo)


| Egyptian prosecutor-general reassigned to Vatican after flunking “Camel Battle” case!

Egypt president removes prosecutor-general ~ AlJazeera.
Muhammad Morsi removes top prosecutor after Mubarak loyalists acquitted in “Camel Battle” case.


On February 2, 2011, pro-Mubarak forces riding camels and horses charged activists in Tahrir Square [GALLO/GETTY]

Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi has removed the country’s prosecutor general a day after all 24 defendants in the Cairo “Camel Battle” case were acquitted, state television has reported.

Abdel Meguid Mahmoud, the country’s top prosecutor, was named as the country’s ambassador to the Vatican on Thursday.

The state broadcaster said the transfer had been made by presidential decree.

Mahmoud was considered to be a remnant of ousted president Hosni Mubarak‘s regime.

On February 2, 2011, pro-Mubarak forces riding camels and horses, charged into the crowd in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. The “Camel Battle” became a symbol of the revolution and Mubarak’s efforts to suppress it.

The ruling on Wednesday sparked anger across the country, and Mahmoud was blamed for presenting a weak case to the court.




| Germany Integration Debate: Merkel Urges More Tolerance Towards Muslims!

Integration Debate: Merkel Urges More Tolerance Towards Muslims ~ Spiegel Online International.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on her fellow citizens to exercise more tolerance toward the country’s 4 million Muslims, stating that Islam is part of Germany. People, she said, need to be careful to differentiate between extremists and the religion itself.

Germany should be more tolerant of its Muslims, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday night, calling the religion part of the country’s makeup.

“We should be very open about this and say: Yes, this is part of us,” Merkel said during a teleconference with some 7,000 members of her conservative Christian Democratic Union party.

In view of the violent protests that have taken place in recent weeks across the Muslim world against a controversial anti-Islam film and offensive Muhammad caricatures, Merkel said Germans should be careful to differentiate between Islamists and the religion itself. “We must be incredibly careful that we don’t lump everyone together,” the chancellor said. “The Islamists are not the Islam of Germany.”

Indeed, the majority of the around 4 million Muslims living in Germany have distanced themselves from the violence abroad, Merkel said, adding that those who refuse to recognize the country’s laws can naturally expect to face legal consequences.

Tunisia Trip Cancelled

Merkel’s open reception to Islam comes some two years after she was criticized for fanning the flames of the country’s immigration debate by saying that the multicultural concept had “failed utterly.” During that same speech in Oct. 2010, however, the chancellor did voice support for a widely discussed statement made just weeks before by then-President Christian Wulff, who said that Islam was “part of Germany.”

Wulff’s comments have been half-heartedly echoed by his successor Joachim Gauck, who said in May that while he wouldn’t apply the same statement, he could “embrace the intention.”

Recently the integration debate has intensified once again following a Cologne court ruling that found circumcision for religious reasons to be an indictable offense. The decision has been viewed as an affront to the country’s Muslim and Jewish communities. Just this week, the Justice Ministry presented a draft lawclarifying that the procedure is not a punishable offense.

Ahead of Merkel’s statements on Islam on Wednesday, the Chancellery announced that a planned visit to Tunisia next month had been cancelled due to the tense security situation there following violent protests against the US-produced film “Innocence of Muslims,” which insults the Prophet Muhammad. Earlier this month, protesters in Sudan set the German embassy on fire.

A minaret and a church tower in Berlin's Kreuzberg district. Zoom

A minaret and a church tower in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district.


| Revealed: inside story of US envoy’s assassination!

Revealed: inside story of US envoy’s assassinationKIM SENGUPTA, The Independent. 

Exclusive: America ‘was warned of embassy attack but did nothing’

The killings of the US ambassador to Libya and three of his staff were likely to have been the result of a serious and continuing security breach, The Independent can reveal.

American officials believe the attack was planned, but Chris Stevens had been back in the country only a short while and the details of his visit to Benghazi, where he and his staff died, were meant to be confidential.

The US administration is now facing a crisis in Libya. Sensitive documents have gone missing from the consulate in Benghazi and the supposedly secret location of the “safe house” in the city, where the staff had retreated, came under sustained mortar attack. Other such refuges across the country are no longer deemed “safe”.

Some of the missing papers from the consulate are said to list names of Libyans who are working with Americans, putting them potentially at risk from extremist groups, while some of the other documents are said to relate to oil contracts.

According to senior diplomatic sources, the US State Department had credible information 48 hours before mobs charged the consulate in Benghazi, and the embassy in Cairo, that American missions may be targeted, but no warnings were given for diplomats to go on high alert and “lockdown”, under which movement is severely restricted.

Mr Stevens had been on a visit to Germany, Austria and Sweden and had just returned to Libya when the Benghazi trip took place with the US embassy’s security staff deciding that the trip could be undertaken safely.

Eight Americans, some from the military, were wounded in the attack which claimed the lives of Mr Stevens, Sean Smith, an information officer, and two US Marines. All staff from Benghazi have now been moved to the capital, Tripoli, and those whose work is deemed to be non-essential may be flown out of Libya.

In the meantime a Marine Corps FAST Anti-Terrorism Reaction Team has already arrived in the country from a base in Spain and other personnel are believed to be on the way. Additional units have been put on standby to move to other states where their presence may be needed in the outbreak of anti-American fury triggered by publicity about a film which demeaned the Prophet Mohamed.

A mob of several hundred stormed the US embassy in the Yemeni capital Sanaa yesterday. Other missions which have been put on special alert include almost all those in the Middle East, as well as in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Armenia, Burundi and Zambia.

Senior officials are increasingly convinced, however, that the ferocious nature of the Benghazi attack, in which rocket-propelled grenades were used, indicated it was not the result of spontaneous anger due to the video, called Innocence of Muslims. Patrick Kennedy, Under-Secretary at the State Department, said he was convinced the assault was planned due to its extensive nature and the proliferation of weapons.

There is growing belief that the attack was in revenge for the killing in a drone strike in Pakistan of Mohammed Hassan Qaed, an al-Qa’ida operative who was, as his nom-de-guerre Abu Yahya al-Libi suggests, from Libya, and timed for the anniversary of the 11 September attacks.

Senator Bill Nelson, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said: “I am asking my colleagues on the committee to immediately investigate what role al-Qa’ida or its affiliates may have played in the attack and to take appropriate action.”

According to security sources the consulate had been given a “health check” in preparation for any violence connected to the 9/11 anniversary. In the event, the perimeter was breached within 15 minutes of an angry crowd starting to attack it at around 10pm on Tuesday night. There was, according to witnesses, little defence put up by the 30 or more local guards meant to protect the staff. Ali Fetori, a 59-year-old accountant who lives near by, said: “The security people just all ran away and the people in charge were the young men with guns and bombs.”

Wissam Buhmeid, the commander of the Tripoli government-sanctioned Libya’s Shield Brigade, effectively a police force for Benghazi, maintained that it was anger over the Mohamed video which made the guards abandon their post. “There were definitely people from the security forces who let the attack happen because they were themselves offended by the film; they would absolutely put their loyalty to the Prophet over the consulate. The deaths are all nothing compared to insulting the Prophet.”

Mr Stevens, it is believed, was left in the building by the rest of the staff after they failed to find him in dense smoke caused by a blaze which had engulfed the building. He was discovered lying unconscious by local people and taken to a hospital, the Benghazi Medical Centre, where, according to a doctor, Ziad Abu Ziad, he died from smoke inhalation.

An eight-strong American rescue team was sent from Tripoli and taken by troops under Captain Fathi al- Obeidi, of the February 17 Brigade, to the secret safe house to extract around 40 US staff. The building then came under fire from heavy weapons. “I don’t know how they found the place to carry out the attack. It was planned, the accuracy with which the mortars hit us was too good for any ordinary revolutionaries,” said Captain Obeidi. “It began to rain down on us, about six mortars fell directly on the path to the villa.”

Libyan reinforcements eventually arrived, and the attack ended. News had arrived of Mr Stevens, and his body was picked up from the hospital and taken back to Tripoli with the other dead and the survivors.

Mr Stevens’ mother, Mary Commanday, spoke of her son yesterday. “He did love what he did, and he did a very good job with it. He could have done a lot of other things, but this was his passion. I have a hole in my heart,” she said.

Global anger: The protests spread


The furore across the Middle East over the controversial film about the Prophet Mohamed is now threatening to get out of control. In Sana’a, the Yemeni capital, yesterday around 5,000 demonstrators attacked the US embassy, leaving at least 15 people injured. Young protesters, shouted: “We sacrifice ourselves for you, Messenger of God,” smashed windows of the security offices and burned at least five cars, witnesses said.


Egypt’s Islamist President Mohamed Morsi yesterday condemned the attack in Benghazi that killed the US ambassador. In a speech in Brussels, Mr Morsi said he had spoken to President Obama and condemned “in the clearest terms” the Tuesday attacks. Despite this, and possibly playing to a domestic audience, President Obama said yesterday that “I don’t think we would consider them an ally, but we don’t consider them an enemy”.

Demonstrators in Cairo attacked the mission on Tuesday evening and protests have continued since.


Militants said the anti-Islamic film “will put all the American interests Iraq in danger” and called on Muslims everywhere to “face our joint enemy”, as protesters in Baghdad burned American flags yesterday. The warning from the Iranian-backed group Asaib Ahl al-Haq came as demonstrators demanded the closure of the US embassy in the capital.


Islamists warned they may “besiege” the US embassy in Dhaka after security forces stopped around 1,000 protesters marching to the building. The Khelafat Andolon group called for bigger protests as demonstrators threw their fists in the air, burned the flag and chanted anti-US slogans.


There was a Hamas-organised protest in Gaza City, and as many as 100 Arab Israelis took to the streets in Tel Aviv. In Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai postponed a trip to Norway, fearing violence. Officials in Pakistan said they “expected protests”. Protesters in Tunis burnt US flags.

*Patrick Cockburn: The murder of US ambassador Christopher Stevens proves the Arab Spring was never what it seemed

*Editorial: Obama must measure his response

*US defends itself to the world – but back home it’s war

*Jerome Taylor: Fear and loathing – Another unholy row about Islam

*The softly spoken diplomat who lifted the rebels’ resolve

*Robert Fisk: The provocateurs know politics and religion don’t mix