Globe Trot
Muslim worshipers listen to the sermon in the main hall of the Noor Islamic Center in Dublin, Ohio.
Associated Press/Photo by Paul Vernon
Muslim worshipers listen to the sermon in the main hall of the Noor Islamic Center in Dublin, Ohio.

Globe Trot: Mosques as surveillance-free zones


While executive surveillance overall has proliferated, the Obama administration since 2011 has made mosques off-limits to FBI agents. Surveillance and undercover sting operations at Islamic worship and teaching centers require high-level approval from the Justice Department’s “Sensitive Operations Review Committee.”

Sudanese living in Blue Nile state have witnessed government forces burn entire villages and bomb civilians indiscriminately, according to a detailed Amnesty International report released this week. The campaign, which began in September 2011 to rid the area of opponents of the Islamic regime in Khartoum, has left today at least 150,000 Sudanese living as refugees in Ethiopia or South Sudan. Most of them are Muslims. Dozens of interviewees, according to AI, spoke of eating wild foods, including poisonous roots that had to be soaked for days to be edible, in order to survive.

Despite outstanding arrest warrants from the International Criminal Court for Sudanese President Omar al Bashir and six other top officials, atrocities continue: “Much of what we are seeing in Blue Nile and South Kordofan follows a similar pattern to the Darfur conflict and Sudan’s decades-long conflict with South Sudan. The people responsible for government policy in those conflicts … are still in charge, and unless the ICC’s arrest warrants are implemented, there is little deterrence for present crimes,” said Amnesty’s Jean-Baptiste Gallopin.

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Leading Sudan expert Eric Reeves issued an open letter this week charging The New York Times with crimes against its readership and “comprehensive failure of journalistic integrity” over its reporting on Sudan’s Darfur region. In May the Times reported on “the biggest return of displaced people since the war began in 2003” as a sign “that one of the world’s most infamous conflicts may have decisively cooled.” Data show that over 300,000 Darfuris have been displaced by conflict this year (in addition to the 3 million displaced in 10 years of fighting)—and the Times has refused to issue a clarification or respond to criticism for its coverage.

In today’s presidential elections in Iran, “one man, one vote” means all is decided by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The six candidates (out of 600 who tried to run) appear handpicked by Khamenei and the Islamic republic’s Guardian Council. Expect the winner to be a “competent, virtuous, pious, revolutionary, resolute and steadfast person with jihadi perseverance,” in Khamenei’s own words. As Khamenei cast the first vote this morning he said of the United States, “The hell with you … If the Iranian nation waited to see what you Americans accept and what you don’t, it would be a loser.” 

It’s striking how many U.S. news outlets have sent star journalists to Tehran to cover the polls as though this is a game-changing event. It is not. As we discuss on today’s edition of The World and Everything In It, it’s worth watching for potential eruptions of a popular uprising, both political and religious, but shouldn’t be confused with “Arab spring” events elsewhere that include elements of Islamic radicalism.

(If you aren’t listening to this daily broadcast, you should be. It’s available on select radio stations and as a podcast via iTunes.)

The Obama administration is fully embracing the evidence that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons in violation of international norms. But the decision to provide weapons ("lethal aid") to the rebels as a result is unlikely to deter radical elements and others with access to chemical warfare from joining efforts to oust the Syrian regime. On this one, Obama and Republicans like Sen. John McCain, are taking steps we are likely to regret sooner rather than later.

I’m reading: Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians by Raymond Ibrahim and WORLD’s just announced 2013 book of the year, Escape from North Korea by Melanie Kirkpatrick (Trust me, a committee of writers and other editors besides me made the selection.).


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