A global backlash against U.S. President Donald Trump’s immigration curbs gathered strength on Sunday as several countries including long-standing American allies criticized the measures as discriminatory and divisive.
Governments from London and Berlin to Jakarta and Tehran spoke out against Trump’s order to put a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the United States and temporarily ban travelers from Syria and six other Muslim-majority countries. He said the move would help protect Americans from terrorism.
In Germany – which has taken in large numbers of people fleeing the Syrian civil war – Chancellor Angela Merkel said the global fight against terrorism was no excuse for the measures and “does not justify putting people of a specific background or faith under general suspicion”, her spokesman said.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country welcomed those fleeing war and persecution, even as Canadian airlines said they would turn back U.S.-bound passengers to comply with an immigration ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries.
“To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada,” he tweeted.
Hamid Kargaran was pacing in his San Francisco living room Sunday, not watching the news, trying to stay positive, waiting for his wife to call from Iran. She was due to leave for the airport within the hour, hoping that this time she wouldn’t be prevented from boarding a plane back home.
“I never thought when I moved here and made this country my home that this would happen,” he said. “I employ people, I pay taxes. We love this country. But I feel like the hard work has been meaningless. We’re second-class citizens.”
Now he was waiting, and he knew there would be no relief until his wife actually walked into the sun in San Francisco. In three hours, she would find out whether Lufthansa agents in Tehran would let her onto a plane. In Germany, she would learn whether officials there would let her transit to California. At home, she still had to pass through U.S. passport control.
“I don’t know,” Kargaran said. “We’ve tried to do everything right. Doesn’t that matter?”
The 31 years old Shahin Najafi, an Iranian rap musician currently living in Germany, has been sentenced to death by a religious decree of Grand Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi-Golpaygani. His is inculpated for insulting the tenth Shiite Imam Naqi. Observers evaluate this decree as lower in rank compared to the Fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989 against the British author Salman Rushdie. The latter had been sentenced to death for blasphemy and accused of offending the prophet Muhammad.
The fatwa was prompted by a request for advice by a number of students and religious representatives of the Shiite communities in Tehran and in the holy Shiite City of Qom. In the official decree, Golpayegani regrets the recent “permanent actions” against the Islamic revolution carried on in the media and on the Internet. The “innocent Imam Naqi” has been insulted and offended through cartoons, jokes and mendacious stories, the document says. It is also added that the only possible punishment for such people could be the one destined to heretics.
In the meanwhile, a second Fatwa has been issued against the musician, this time by Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi. The Grand Ayatollah was asked by Iranian media representatives to provide advice on how the Shiite community should deal with this issue: the innocence of the Imam has been generally perceived as “polluted” in a pervasive figurative and textual way. Ayatollah Shirazi has condemned the act as a shameless public blasphemy against the “innocent Imam”. Such an act committed by a Muslim must be avenged as apostasy, he declared.
Najafi has requested the police’s protection, as there is the possibility that some Muslims belonging to the Shiite community decide to apply the decree. His songs, considered provocative, address in a satirical fashion corruption, violence and sexual oppression in the Islamic Republic.
The Advertising and Marketing Association of Canada is active in Tehran. At an Iranian news conference earlier this month the association’s head, Afshin Nemati, helped spread word that Iran’s government is cracking down on unacceptable haircuts on men. He took questions on news clips shown around the world, explaining what sorts of haircuts will be acceptable in that country.
Nemati claims to live in Toronto and his business website states he has a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) from York University. Yet, York does not offer a Doctor of Business Administration, and its registrar’s office has no record of Nemati. Members of Toronto’s Iranian diaspora, including a Toronto man who just learned his phone is listed as Nemati’s contact number, want to know why a group with such a name, and that uses the Canadian flag as its logo, would be advising the Iranian government about acceptable haircuts for men.
The involvement of an apparently fake Canadian organization, especially one without any actual presence here, also concerns York political science professor Saeed Rahnema.
The Rotterdam city government wants to break ties with the Muslim philosopher Tariq Ramadan, sources at city hall say.
Ramadan (46) has been an adviser on integration for the city of Rotterdam for two years. Recently, he has come under criticism because he hosts a weekly talk show on the Iranian TV station PressTV, which is financed by the Tehran regime.
Iran has reacted with outrage over the stabbing death of an Egyptian woman in a German courthouse, calling it a sign of racism against Muslims, yet has said little about China’s crackdown on Uighur Muslims – a silence some leading Iranian clerics have criticized. The differing reaction from a country that portrays itself as a defender of Islam worldwide is a sign of how highly Iran values its political and economic ties with China and how Tehran is trying to deflect attention following its own crackdown on protesters after the country’s disputed presidential election. Iran has been one of the most vocal countries criticizing Germany in the wake of Marwa al-Sherbini’s death. The pregnant 31-year-old Egyptian was stabbed 18 times in a Dresden court July 1 by a man she was scheduled to testify against for allegedly calling her a “terrorist.” When he tried to protect her, her husband was stabbed by the attacker and shot by court security. Some 1,500 Iranian women gathered in front of the German Embassy in Tehran on Tuesday chanting “Death to the enemy of hijab” – a reference to the hijab, or Islamic headscarf that al-Sherbini wore, Iran’s state news agency reported. REBECCA SANTANA reports.
Officials from the country’s Ministry of Science, Research and Technology said they were in talks with a number of universities in Britain, the United States and Germany. Reports from Tehran claim they will provide teaching materials and scholars after striking up deals with several unnamed institutions.
Gholamreza Khajesarvi, a government official, told the Islamic Republic News Agency: “The ministry is currently studying proposals by numerous world academic centres and universities, including several universities from Britain, the United States, and Germany. The departments will be set up to train and educate experts on Islam so as to assist in the introduction of Islam and its realities to the world in a proper academic setting,” Graeme Paton reports.
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The European Court of Justice on Tuesday overturned an EU decision to put the People’s Mujahadeen of Iran, an exiled Iranian resistance movement, on the bloc’s terror blacklist. The ruling annuls a 2002 decision to freeze European assets of the Paris-based group. The United States lists the People’s Mujahedeen as a terrorist organization. However, the group founded in the 1960s by students at Tehran University says it advocates the overthrow of Iran’s hard-line clerical regime by peaceful means. In its ruling, the European court said the group was not given a fair hearing to defend itself. “Certain fundamental rights and safeguards, including the right to a fair hearing, the obligation to state reasons and the right to effective judicial protection are, as a matter of principle, fully applicable,” the court said. Iranian resistance leader Maryam Rajavi called for the immediate lifting of all restrictions on the group and described the ruling as “proof of the resistance’s legitimacy over the religious fascism in Iran and victory of justice over economic interests.” “Today, one of the highest judicial authorities in Europe confirmed the Iranian resistance’s claim that the terrorist label, from the beginning, was a political issue which was meant to appease the mullahs,” she said in a statement issued in Paris. The group previously operated a military wing but since June 2001 has renounced military activity. Based in Auvers-Sur-Oise, near Paris, it serves as an umbrella movement for exiled Iranian opponents of the Islamic Republic. In 2003, French police arrested dozens of members of the group. Seventeen people, including Rajavi, were placed under investigation on suspicion of associating with or financing terrorist groups. She was held for two weeks before being released. In June, the Paris Appeals Court lifted a series of restrictions on the 17, including a ban on them leaving French territory and another preventing them from associating with one another.
How to defuse cartoon-related violence? Definitely not by publishing more offensive cartoons. The German embassy in Tehran came under attack on Tuesday after a German paper did just that. And in Pakistan, a protest got out of control. Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen has been no stranger to the media in recent weeks. Given the uproar over the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad published first in the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten and then reprinted in papers across Europe, Rasmussen’s mission of late has been damage control — trying to tamp out the embers of flared tempers on both sides of the debate. How hard has it been? On Tuesday, Rasmussen said that the cartoon-related violence has been the small Scandinavian country’s most difficult foreign policy challenge since World War II. As for defusing the ongoing crisis, Rasmussen told reporters that it would be a “very difficult task.” Indeed. On Tuesday, violence related to the Muhammad cartoons flared once again. In Pakistan, over 1,000 demonstrators stormed into the diplomatic district in the country’s capital Islamabad. A separate mob of protesters in the eastern city of Lahore targeted Western businesses, damaging a Holiday Inn hotel as well as Pizza Hut, KFC and McDonald’s fast food outlets. Some 200 cars were likewise attacked in addition to dozens of shops and a portrait of Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Two protesters were killed by security guards in Islamabad when they tried to force their way into a bank, according to the Pakistani interior minister. Police were able to halt the demonstrators before they damaged any of the embassies within the compound, but protesters gathered outside burned tires and broke street lamps while shouting “Death to America.” “We have come to the doors of the embassies to take our voice to the ambassadors,” said hard-line cleric Hafiz Hussain Ahmad, who led a group of lawmakers to protest before the gate leading to the embassy compound. “There is anger in the Islamic world. If they do not listen, their problems will increase,” he told the Associated Press. It was the first time that cartoon protests in Pakistan — which have been going on for over a week — had become so violent. In Iraq, the Basra provincial council on Tuesday demanded that Denmark withdraw its 530 troops from southern Iraq until the Danish government apologizes for the publishing of the cartoons. Denmark denied the request with Danish Defense Minister Soeren Gade telling reporters that Denmark would “certainly not” meet Basra’s demands. “Our foreign policy is not being decided by the provincial council in Basra,” Gade said. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on Tuesday defended Denmark, saying in an interview with Jyllands-Posten that freedom of speech is a “fundamental value” in the European Union and that “it’s better to publish too much than not to have freedom.” It was the first time Barroso had commented on the brouhaha. Additional violent protests were seen in Iran on Tuesday as dozens of Iranian students attacked the German Embassy in Tehran with Molotov cocktails. While German facilities had emerged largely unscathed by cartoon-related protests so far, the publishing last Friday of a caricature depicting the Iranian national soccer team as suicide bombers in the Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel has nerves raw once again. “Germany, you are Fascists and the willful servants of Zionism,” the students chanted. The cartoonist responsible for the caricature, Klaus Stuttmann, has received a number of death threats since Friday and has moved out of his Berlin apartment for safety reasons. The Iranian Embassy has sent the paper a letter of protest calling the cartoon “tactless” and demanded an apology. The paper has said the cartoon was misinterpreted and that it is protected by the freedom of the press. In an effort to show its impartiality on the issue of cartoon insults, Iran on Tuesday officially protested the publishing of Jesus Christ and Virgin Mary caricatures by a newspaper in Azerbaijan. The Iranian Embassy condemned the sketches as “rude and immoral.” Iran itself, meanwhile, has become the target of complaint. The Central Council of Sinti and Roma in Germany has sent a letter to the Iranian Ambassador in Germany complaining of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s statements that the Holocaust is a “fairy tale.” “The government in Tehran must respect these historical facts if it wants to become part of the international community,” read a letter sent to the embassy. Between 250,000 and a half-million Gypsies were murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust.
The Iranian newspaper Hamshahri’s launching of an international caricature contest on the holocaust as “retaliation” against insulting cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed caused a big reaction. The newspaper’s act has been perceived as provocation and Jewish establishments interpreted the contest as ” vidence that the spirit of Hitler is still alive in the Muslim world.” The newspaper published by the Tehran Municipality announced it will award prizes to “12 people” at the end of the contest. The responsible for the crisis Denmark-based Jyllands-Posten newspaper had published 12 caricatures. Meanwhile, both the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Tehran were attacked by demonstrators yesterday.