Protected: American Muslims in the Obama Era and What We Don’t Know About Them? (5 videos)

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September 14, 2011     Enter your password to view comments

American Muslims in the Obama Era (Multimedia)

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American Muslims: Prejudice, Politics and the Pursuit of Happiness in the Obama Era (Multimedia)

August 20, 2011     Leave a Comment

New Oil Minister Cements Ties with Military

"Putting an IRGC commander in place as oil minister completes the military's domination of Iran's economy, politics and military- intelligence apparatus."

"Putting an IRGC commander in place as oil minister completes the military's domination of Iran's economy, politics and military- intelligence apparatus."

NEW YORK, Aug 8, 2011 (IPS) - Last week’s appointment of a ranking member of Iran’s influential Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as the country’s new oil minister could lead to a more unaccountable and unpredictable military with greater influence on the government in Tehran, analysts say.

The IRGC currently controls Iran’s most powerful intelligence- security arm, which played a key role in the post-election crackdown of 2008 and the intimidation, arrests and imprisonment of hundreds of political dissidents.

It has built up a sprawling business empire since the 1979 Revolution, with annual revenues estimated at some 12 billion dollars and investments in sectors ranging from oil, gas and petrochemicals to cars, bridges and roads. It also controls the paramilitary Basij militia. Read more

August 8, 2011     Leave a Comment

Take That, Tehran

The Slate, Tuesday, July 12, 2011 -This article arises from Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State University, the New America Foundation, and Slate. A Future Tense conference on the promise and limitations of using technology to spread democracy will be held at the New America Foundation on July 13. (For more information and to sign up for the event, please visit the NAF website.)

The Obama administration has begun taking action to bring Internet freedom to Iran. This sounds wonderful.

But this approach ignores two key factors: 1) Iran already has the upper hand in this battle; 2) the current approach is dangerous to activists and focuses on too few people. If the U.S. really wants to bring free-flowing information to Iran, it needs to rethink its current strategy.
I grew up in Iran and worked as a journalist there until 2004, when I—along with 20 other bloggers, Web technicians, and journalists—was arrested by security forces for my blog, in what was the first major raid against bloggers and online activists. After two months of mistreatment and solitary confinement, I was released and soon after moved to the United States. Read more

July 12, 2011     Leave a Comment

Why Did Iran Say “NO” to the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights?

During the past weeks, a lively momentum has been created amongst Iranian activists to help the UN Special Rapporteur in compiling his report on the country.

During the past weeks, a lively momentum has been created amongst Iranian activists to help the UN Special Rapporteur in compiling his report on the country.

Huffington Post, Posted: 7/5/11- Less than a week after the United Nations Human Rights Council appointed former Maldivian Foreign Minister Ahmed Shaheed as Special Rapporteur on Human Rights for Iran, Head of Iran’s Judiciary, Sadegh Larijani, in a TV interview said, “accepting the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights is not our policy.”

In March, the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution establishing a monitoring mechanism for Iran and appointing a Special Rapporteur. Last month, three candidates were considered for this position. The Iranian side, knowing that a Special Rapporteur would be immediately appointed soon, sent a message to Geneva that the Rapporteur on Iran should have three qualifications: Be a man, be a Muslim, and not be from an Arab country. One of the male candidates didn’t seem to cause any controversy for Tehran; Ahmed Shaheed’s appointment met all of Iran’s requirements. Read more

July 5, 2011     Leave a Comment

New Arsenal Emerges in Struggle over Iran’s Internet

From left: Ehsan Norouzi, Issac Mao, Cyrus Farivar, and Mehdi Yahyanejad

From left: Ehsan Norouzi, Issac Mao, Cyrus Farivar, and Mehdi Yahyanejad

NEW YORK, Jun 20, 2011 (IPS) - Millions of Iranians who have lived under an intense level of internet filtering and advanced monitoring systems for years may soon benefit from new technology that sidesteps the censors.

Last week, the New York Times reported that “the [Barack] Obama administration is leading a global effort to deploy ’shadow’ Internet and mobile phone systems that dissidents can use to undermine repressive governments that seek to silence them by censoring or shutting down telecommunications networks.”

One of these projects has been dubbed “Internet in a suitcase”. According to the Times, the suitcase - financed with a two-million- dollar State Department grant - could be smuggled across the border and quickly set up to allow wireless communication over a wide area with a link to the global Internet. Read more

June 20, 2011     Leave a Comment

The U.S. Pressures Iran on Human Rights

Huffington Post, Posted May 20, 2011- Many may be critical of America’s human rights policies, particularly its double standards when it comes to the records of its allies in the Middle East and beyond, not to mention in Bahrain. But human rights activists and organizations have welcomed the Obama administration’s presence at the Human Rights Council in Geneva since 2009. Like it or not, “without a strong U.S. counterweight, non-democratic states such as Cuba, Algeria, China and Pakistan joined forces to blunt the Council’s work and bully other states.”

The UN will appoint a special rapporteur for Iran in the weeks to come.

In Geneva, Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, the U.S. representative to the Council is a superstar. She is the face of U.S. human rights in town, a master of building coalitions and cooperation with different partners to make things happen. In an interview with me in Geneva, she responded to questions about the urgency and significance of establishing a monitoring mechanism for Iran, the role of politics in U.S. human rights policy, the perception of U.S. hypocrisy towards its friends and foes, her opinion about the Iranian officials’ allegations on the politicization of UN human rights mechanisms, and finally, why the U.S. is going aggressively after Iran’s human rights record. Excerpts from the interview follow: Read more

May 20, 2011     Leave a Comment

Iran Battles U.S. At UN Human Rights Council

Rights situation in Iran has been drawing the focus at the the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.  Credit:Omid Memarian / IPS

Rights situation in Iran has been drawing the focus at the the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. Credit:Omid Memarian / IPS

GENEVA, Mar 21, 2011 (IPS) - Forty-nine United Nations member-states have co-sponsored a resolution asking for a special mechanism to monitor Iran’s human rights situation, which is expected to be voted later this week at the UN Human Rights Council (HRC).

Instead of responding to the criticism in the four-week long sixteenth session of the Council, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s delegation chose to bash the human rights situation in the United States, the country leading the effort to intensify pressure on Iran.

Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, the U.S. representative to the Council, told IPS that establishing a special monitoring mechanism for Iran by the HRC is very significant. “Because the council in the past has been resistant to taking initiative on what we call country specific human rights situation,” she said.

“There is a general sense that countries are often fearful of being criticized and therefore they would protect other countries from being criticized by the council so that when it comes their turn to being criticized maybe others stick with them,” she added. Read more

March 21, 2011     Leave a Comment

Reading Ahmadinejad via Wikileaks: A Freedom Lover or a Two-Bit Dictator?

Huffington Post,Posted: 01/31/11 - In a recent article for the Atlantic, Middle East expert Reza Aslan writes that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may not be the hard-line president outside observers actually thinks he is. Based on unverified WikiLeaks documents and remarks by the president himself, the author concludes that Ahmadinejad is, in fact, in favor of greater social and political freedoms and the “Persianization” of Iranian society, but is isolated among others in Iran’s current ruling establishment:

[Ahmadinejad]… is actually a reformer whose attempts to liberalize, secularize, and even “Persianize” Iran have been repeatedly stymied by the country’s more conservative factions… But if you oppose the Mullahs’ rule, yearn for greater social and political freedoms for the Iranian people, and envision an Iran that draws inspiration from the glories of its Persian past, then, believe it or not, you have more in common with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than you might have thought.”

Here is why Aslan’s characterization of Ahmadinejad is flawed: Read more

January 31, 2011     Leave a Comment

Iran’s “Blogfather” Gets 20-Year Prison Sentence

SAN FRANCISCO, California, Sep 28, 2010 (IPS) — A week after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told heads of state gathered for the U.N. General Assembly in New York that his government does not jail its citizens for expressing their opinions, Iran’s Revolutionary Court sentenced Hossein Derakhshan, an internationally known Iranian-Canadian blogger, to 19 and a half years in prison.

On Monday, the conservative website Mashreq announced the verdict issued by Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Courts.

Arrested in October 2008, Derakhshan had been charged with “cooperation with hostile states” and “propagating against the regime,” among other counts, the site said. In addition to the lengthy prison term, he was fined and banned from membership in political parties and work in the media for a period of five years. Read more

September 28, 2010     Leave a Comment

To Build or Not To Build: American Muslims, the Rise of Bigotry and Religious Intolerance

Huffington Post- I recall a Muslim friend of mine once asking me what I thought of the United States? I responded that the US is the kind of country which after living there for only a few years, you could grow to love it in such a way that you could sacrifice your life for it. Today, the Quran burning phenomena and anti-Mosque movement has made a mockery of that image. How can we expect this episode and the intolerance around it to not translate into a growing sentiment of “Islamophobia” and violations of American Muslims’ First Amendment rights? How can it not result in discrimination and radicalism at home? It’s disturbing that, beyond the surface of public debates, Pastor Jones and those who are opposed to the building of a mosque near Ground Zero both see Islam and Muslims behind the 9/11 tragedy or somehow responsible for it. Read more

September 13, 2010     Leave a Comment

Iran Pressured to Open Doors to U.N. Rights Investigators

GENEVA, Jun 11 (IPS) - The Iranian government rejected charges that it has violated human rights and freedom of speech and assembly before a session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva Thursday - the same day that the Iranian opposition’s request to hold a peaceful protest was denied by authorities.

Although Tehran insists there is a standing invitation for U.N. special human rights rapporteurs to visit, none have gained access to the country since 2005. ”We would like see the Iranians actually follow through with concrete action on their commitment to allow special rapporteurs, as well as the [U.N.] high commissioner’s office, to enter Iran and do full investigations of the human rights situation,” Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, the U.S. representative to the Council, told IPS. Read more

June 17, 2010     6 Comments

Anniversary Preview: Tehran Gets the Jitters

picture-3June 10, 2010 | 10:29pm, the Daily Beast
Tension is building in Tehran ahead of Saturday’s anniversary of the Iranian protests. Omid Memarian talks to people in the Iranian capital.

In advance of the one-year anniversary of Iran’s disputed elections on Saturday, the government has sent security forces into the streets of Tehran to prevent another popular uprising. Already, plainclothes police and students have clashed violently, and the government has warned against further protest rallies. Confrontations with women over how to dress, and the execution of five dissidents last month have contributed to tensions in the capital.

When students gathered at the Azad University recently, chanting slogans such as “death to the dictator,” and protesting recent arrests, plainclothes officers swiftly cracked down on the demonstrators, who were beaten, according to reports by people who were there.

“It seems that as we get closer to the anniversary of last year’s elections… confrontations and threats intensify.”
A few days later, the police commander of greater Tehran, General Hossein Sajedinia, told an official news agency that police forces would not hesitate to confront illegal demonstrations.
Read more

June 10, 2010     84 Comments

Iran’s Hanging Judge

Jun 9 2010, Institute for War and Peace Reporting- Abolghasem Salavat, dubbed “Judge of Death”, and two colleagues have presided over most political trials since last year’s unrest.A decision to show clemency to 81 of the people detained in the unrest that followed last year’s presidential election in Iran has once again shone the spotlight on the country’s judicial and penal systems.

On June 2, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei approved a recommendation by the head of the judiciary. Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, to release some of the 81 under amnesty and reduce the sentences of the rest. Read more

June 9, 2010     60 Comments

Divisions Sharpen as Iran Girds for Renewed Protests

BERKELEY, California, Jun 7, 2010 (IPS) - A week before the first anniversary of Iran’s contested presidential elections, the disruption of a speech by the grandson of Ayatollah Khomeini during a memorial service for the founder of the Islamic Republic on Jun. 4 has once more publicly exposed the rift within the top level of Iran’s leadership.

According to the government, two million Basij militia members and supporters from all over the country were mobilised to come to Tehran to participate in last week’s ceremonies marking the 21st anniversary of Khomeini’s death.

However, many believe the rallies were in fact intended to intimidate the opposition protesters expected to take to the streets on Jun. 12, a year after the polls in which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner and the government waged a bloody crackdown in which hundreds were arrested and jailed. Read more

June 7, 2010     26 Comments

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