31 May 2014
Dutch politician Geert Wilders continues to appear in news media regarding the anti-Islam sticker posted on his office door in December 2013. The Volkskrant reports that Wilders has distributed the sticker through the mail in parliamentary envelopes.
The Netherlands will send a top diplomat to Saudi Arabia to prevent the country from imposing trade sanctions in protest of the sticker. The Saudi authorities have not announced any sanctions, but Saudi media reports this week announced that such measures had already taken effect, citing unnamed officials.
The sticker is printed in the colors of the Saudi Arabian flag and bears the words, “Islam is a lie, Mohammed is a criminal, the Koran is poison.”
19 May 2014
Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans is to visit Saudi Arabia, following news that the country plans to take steps against the Netherlands such as excluding Dutch companies from participating in local projects and changing visa requirements. The economic sanctions are responses to the anti-Islam sticker parliamentarian Geert Wilders posted on his office door in December 2013, reading, “Islam is a lie, Mohammed is a criminal, the Koran is poison.” The sticker is a deliberate reference to the Saudi Arabian flag.
The Dutch government immediately condemned the action. Timmermans said at the time this sort of action is counterproductive. ‘Insulting their religion is not the way to combat extremism but plays into extremists’ hands,’ he said. ‘The Dutch government is distancing itself from this.’
June 7, 2013
Genova June 7, 2013, tomorrow at 3:45 in the Sala del Maggior Consiglio at the Palazzo Ducale in Piazza Matteotti there will be the meeting “Islam and Diplomacy.” The meeting will focus on the role of Muslim diplomacy and international relations which contributes to the promotion of peace and the dialog between diverse populations.
TO CONSPIRACY theorists like Rep. ¬Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), the Obama administration’s approach to the Arab world is the product not of considered diplomacy but of wicked “influence operations,” traceable to the Muslim Brotherhood and its agents. Exhibit A among those agents with murky “ties” to the Muslim Brotherhood, Ms. Bachmann warns darkly, is Huma Abedin, a longtime aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Ms. Bachmann’s smear of Ms. Abedin, a 37-year-old Muslim American born and educated in this country, was contained in a letter last month to the State Department’s inspector general’s office. It would be simple to ignore the baseless and paranoid assertions of Ms. Bachmann were she not a member of Congress and an also-ran in the recent race for the Republican presidential nomination. Her status doesn’t confer respectability on her views — Americans are inured to all manner of nonsense from Congress — but it does call for a response, if only to restore a dose of rationality to the public discourse.
Today, though, for arguably the first time in her congressional career, the Minnesota GOP congresswoman is finding herself publicly on the outs with some in her own party. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), among others, have publicly criticized Bachmann for her suggestion that State Department officials, including longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, might be part of a Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy to infiltrate the U.S. government. (Though notably, Newt Gingrich defended her this morning.)
An advocacy organization for persecuted Christians has asked the 2012 presidential candidates to sign a pledge stating they would make religious freedom a priority in the United States and overseas if they win the White House.
Open Doors USA joined with religious freedom activist Tom Farr of Georgetown University to draft the pledge, which was unveiled Monday (Nov. 28). As of Wednesday, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., was the sole signatory among the candidates.
“The right of religious freedom must be applied equally to all religious communities in America, including Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and others,” reads the pledge.
“At the same time, religious freedom does not mandate belief, but protects the right not to believe.”
The pledge calls for the candidate, should he or she become president, to nominate federal judges who support religious liberty. It also asks candidates to make religious freedom promotion a foreign policy priority and urges the appointment of a religious freedom ambassador “who is a person of stature, experienced in matters of religious freedom and diplomacy.”
A cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables, most of them from the past three years, provides an unprecedented look at back-room bargaining by embassies around the world, brutally candid views of foreign leaders and frank assessments of nuclear and terrorist threats.
The material was originally obtained by WikiLeaks, an organization devoted to revealing secret documents. WikiLeaks posted 220 cables, some redacted to protect diplomatic sources, in the first installment of the archive on its Web site on Sunday.
Some of the topics revealed, include:
¶ Bargaining to empty the Guantánamo Bay prison: When American diplomats pressed other countries to resettle detainees, they became reluctant players in a State Department version of “Let’s Make a Deal.” Slovenia was told to take a prisoner if it wanted to meet with President Obama, while the island nation of Kiribati was offered incentives worth millions of dollars to take in Chinese Muslim detainees, cables from diplomats recounted. The Americans, meanwhile, suggested that accepting more prisoners would be “a low-cost way for Belgium to attain prominence in Europe.”
¶ Clashes with Europe over human rights: American officials sharply warned Germany in 2007 not to enforce arrest warrants for Central Intelligence Agency officers involved in a bungled operation in which an innocent German citizen with the same name as a suspected militant was mistakenly kidnapped and held for months in Afghanistan. A senior American diplomat told a German official “that our intention was not to threaten Germany, but rather to urge that the German government weigh carefully at every step of the way the implications for relations with the U.S.”
¶ Mixed records against terrorism: Saudi donors remain the chief financiers of Sunni militant groups like Al Qaeda, and the tiny Persian Gulf state of Qatar, a generous host to the American military for years, was the “worst in the region” in counterterrorism efforts, according to a State Department cable last December. While another cable reveals the suspicions of corruption in the Afghan government: When Afghanistan’s vice president visited the United Arab Emirates last year, local authorities working with the Drug Enforcement Administration discovered that he was carrying $52 million in cash.
The White House said the release of what it called “stolen cables” to several publications was a “reckless and dangerous action” and warned that some cables, if released in full, could disrupt American operations abroad and put the work and even lives of confidential sources of American diplomats at risk.
Switzerland recently passed a controversial referendum to ban minarets in the country, provoking uproar, intense debate and even protest. The move is regarded by many as “deeply divisive,” says UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, as well as a major setback for American and European public diplomacy in the Arab world.
Sweden, which currently holds the presidency of the European Union, commented that the United Nations “should reconsider its presence in Geneva,” according to an Associated Press article. “Even if this is Switzerland, it sends a very unfortunate signal to large parts of the rest of the world about attitudes and prejudices in Europe,” Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt wrote on his blog. He continued to observe that the ban is a “poor act of diplomacy” from the Swiss, whose neutrality on globally divisive issues is renowned.
Analysts and commentators are also pointing to the ban as a serious complication for dialogue with Muslims around the world, even among those who are non-practicing, because the minaret is largely seen as a symbol of Arab and Muslim identity.
A new division opened in the State Department this year: the office of the Special Representative to Muslim Communities. Farah Pandith’s mission is to reach out to the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims. She tells Steve Inskeep the office will influence how Muslims perceive the United States.
Barack Obama’s candidacy is winning over hearts and minds in Europe, where his race, youth, and promise of change are raising hopes for a likeable America, once again. German weekly magazine Der Spiegel placed a picture of the Illinois Senator on its February cover under the headline The Messiah Factor. Inside, the magazine discussed Obama as exemplary rejection of the Bush era and links to the Iraq war, Abu Graib scandal, and egoistic diplomacy. A string of British pro-Obama groups have sprung up on the social networking site _Facebook,’ and a recent survey published by the CSA polling group last month showed that the French now favor Obama over Hillary Clinton.
Miguel Angel Moratinos, the Spanish foreign minister, stressed the importance of Muslims in European countries and the sharing of a multitude of values, urging a joint fight against discrimination of Muslims in Europe. The head of the Spanish diplomacy stressed in a latter to the director of the Islamic Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), the millions of Muslims that are essential to a prosperous Europe, both in their work and social presence.