The State is all about power, and we have learned from a long and painful human history that no one should be trusted with too much power. That is why religion should remain powerless, so that it can function as a place …
A Guatemalan court on Friday found former dictator Efrain Rios Montt guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity during the bloodiest phase of the country’s 36-year civil war.
He was sentenced to 50 years in prison on the genocide charge and 30 years for crimes against humanity. It was the first time a former head of state had been found guilty of genocide in his or her own country.
Rios Montt, 86, took power after a coup in 1982, and is accused of implementing a scorched-earth policy in which troops massacred thousands of indigenous villagers. He entered the court on Friday to boos and cries of “Justicia!” or justice.
Prosecutors say Rios Montt turned a blind eye as soldiers used rape, torture and arson to try to rid Guatemala of leftist rebels during his 1982-1983 rule, the most violent period of a 1960-1996 civil war in which as many as …
Mr. Taylor was the first head of state convicted by an international court since the Nuremberg trials after World War II.
Prosecutors had sought an even longer sentence of 80 years. If carried out, the term decided on Wednesday would likely mean the 64-year-old Mr. Taylor will spend the rest of his life behind bars. Asked to stand as the sentence was read, he looked at the floor.
At a news conference after the hearing, Salamba Silla, who works with victims groups in Sierra Leone pleaded for more help for former child soldiers, orphans and other victims of the country’s war. “You can see hundreds of them begging on the streets of Freetown,” she said. “Many who suffered horrendously need help to return to the provinces,
This article originally appeared on the Al Jazeeera English website on Dec. 12, 2011. You can view it by clicking here .
Washington, DC – There is a long record of the grim effects of sanctions in international struggles against those states deemed as “rogue”. Sanctions are seen as righteous instruments, a non-violent way to pressure problematic regimes to change. But when you really don’t care about a country or its people, then your true attitudes emerge in the way in which you use the sanctions instrument of policy.
Let’s take Iraq. Based on estimates of the massive increase in child mortality rates through the years of the sanctions in the 1990s, anywhere from 300,000 to a million people lost their lives. But no one in Saddam’s inner circle, none of the wealthy, and none of the killers, died from those sanctions. Such sanctions were touted as an enlightened and …
Istanbul, Turkey –From every province of Afghanistan, Imams and civil society leaders will meet together today with Islamic scholars for the first time during the Islamic Cooperation for a Peaceful Future in Afghanistan conference, an unprecedented gathering that will open on November 30 in Istanbul, Turkey. More than 80 Afghan scholars will meet with over 20 of the world’s most prestigious Muftis and Islamic scholars, with millions of followers across the world, from Pakistan to Indonesia.
The conference participants consider this gathering, discussion and commitment for peace and non-violence as the establishment of a historically significant point of reference for Islamic teachings of moderation, tolerance, peace and cooperation.
The conference is an academic forum created by the Center for World Religions, …
A version of this essay appeared recently in the Jerusalem Report on November 21, 2011.
The Arab Awakening is facing serious challenges, and some new strategic decisions are required that will end up being good for all the revolutionary movements afoot this year, in the Middle East, in Israel and beyond.
The essential point is this: The Arab Street has demonstrated incredible heroism and nonviolent principles in the face of torture and death, and even Libya began as a very peaceful revolution, even if Libyans felt at some point that they had no choice but to fight. This is a paradigm shift of ethical and political values that will be remembered for generations. It may also signify a broad-based Middle Eastern democratic shift.
The going is tough, however, because no revolution easily dislodges corrupt structures of power. The temptation is just too great for those immediately below the revolution’s chosen …
By Hind Aboud Kabawat (Senior Research Analyst and Expert in Conflict Resolution, CRDC, George Mason University).
May 20, 2011
Can our beloved Syria be saved from the brink of destruction? This is clearly the question on the minds of millions of our fellow countrymen (and countrywomen). And it is truly astonishing how quickly events have transformed the so-called “facts on the ground” in this country. One of the most locked-down societies in the Middle East quite suddenly erupted in rage, anger and frustration after forty years of political repression and economic stagnation. Just think of it: the first demonstration was on March 15, just a mere two months ago. But so much has changed in the minds, hearts and aspirations of the Syrian people that it is impossible to think that we can ever return to the status quo ante—the Syria of March 14th.
Here are two interviews that I did with Fox News and Russia TV on Tuesday, regarding thousands of Palestinian refugees who attempted to nonviolently cross Israeli borders from the Syrian, Lebanese, and Palestinian border last weekend, resulting in several deaths and dozens injured.
The men arrested for trying to bomb two synagogues and other sites in New York apparently acted alone. They indeed were seeking an opportunity for jihad. But it was primarily in response to the deaths in Afghanistan in Pakistan at the hands of American soldiers. Now it appears that they were deeply involved with an informant who, according to the leader of the mosque, was a government agent who came two years ago to the mosque encouraging meetings on jihad.
So…did the government agent instigate this group of criminal men? Of course, this was a sting operation, but what are the ethics of sting operations? Is it the same infiltrating a mafia group and instigating a crime as infiltrating a house of worship and doing the same? I know the Jewish community would not be thrilled with some government agent who infiltrating Brooklyn and instigated some massive fraud scheme …
A rather bizarre episode has unfolded in a little church 20km outside St. Petersburg. Not just an icon, but an icon with the picture of Stalin was hung up in the church of the Holy Olga in Strel’na and presented to the parishioners for worship. Although it is officially an icon dedicated to the Blessed Matrona of Moscow (1885-1952), who was canonized despite significant protest, Matrona is seen only in the background, while Stalin is centrally depicted in full posture. The icon pictures an episode from one of the legends that were created around Matrona, according to which Stalin came to see her for advice related to the German invasion in 1941.
Apparently, the local priest Evstafij, who is a distant relative of Lenin, regards Stalin not just as a believer, but also as the savior of Russia. “I commemorate Stalin …