This year’s Ramadan most violent on record, almost 3,000 religiously motivated deaths

Share this

Ramadan, Islam’s holy month, regularly sees a significant increase in religiously-motivated killing, but this year’s was the most deadly of the century, according to The Religion of Peace, a terrorism watch group that keeps records of killings in the name of Islam.

“This year’s Ramadan was the highest since I’ve been keeping track,” Glen Roberts, editor of TROP, told The Speaker. “Normally, Islam’s holiest month sees about 30 percent more terror deaths over a typical month.”

Read more: Islamic terrorists have committed 25,000 separate violent acts worldwide that resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths in last 15 years

“Nearly 3,000 people were shot, beheaded, blown up, drowned, burned or hacked to death in the name of Islam,” stated Roberts in the summary on TROP’s webpage, noting that no deaths in the name of other religions took place during that time.

According to TROP’s daily records, over 26,000 attacks have been carried out in the name of Islam since the 9-11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York — which is when TROP began it’s documentation. Five such attacks which result in at least one death take place every day around the world, on average.

For the period roughly corresponding with Ramadan, which lasts 29-30 days based on visual sightings of the crescent moon, 314 terror attacks took place globally, including 63 suicide bombings, which resulted in 2,988 deaths and 3,696 wounded.

Killings during the first few days of Ramadan
Killings during the first few days of Ramadan(TROP resource)

However, as Roberts pointed out, the actual numbers are higher than reported because TROP relies on news reports for figures. There is not a news report for every attack, Roberts told us, and the reports are not followed up by deaths that occur days or longer after the initial incident.

The figures include all killings motivated by a sentiment of religious duty, and so include killings by the Islamic State. “Any killing that I come across by the Islamic State is included in the count. I’m sure that there’s quite a bit that I miss,” commented Roberts.

The 314 attacks that resulted in death between June 18 and July 16 took place in Iraq, Niger, Somalia, Lebanon, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Egypt, Mali, Chad, Israel, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Kenya, India, Phillipines, Thailand, China, France, and Austria.

Pew finding on future of religious groups: Muslims will grow more than twice as fast as world population over next 40 years

Pew finding on future of religious groups: Muslims will grow more than twice as fast as world population over next 40 years
Share this

The current world population is 7 billion – 1.6 billion are Muslim. Over the next 40 years, the world population is projected to increase 35 percent to 9.3 billion, according to Pew research, and of eight major religious groups calculated, only Muslims will outstrip the overall rate of population growth.

While Christians, Jews and Hindus are expected at remain at nearly the same level as the overall population – 35 percent – and Buddhists, adherents of folk religions, the unaffiliated and other religions will decline, Muslims will increase by 73 percent by 2050.

The reason for this difference, Pew found, was that on average Muslims have more children than people of other faiths. ScreenHunter_4273 Apr. 23 12.59Muslims as a group also have a younger median age, meaning more of Muslims will soon be having children.

Also, many Muslim regions are projected to have significantly higher numbers of children than regions inhabited primarily by other religions, Pew found. While European and North American families have 2 – 2.6 children, and Asians have 2 – 2.7 children, people in the Middle East and North Africa have 2.6 – 3 children, and Sub-Saharan Africans have 4.5 – 5.6 children.

Although Muslim numbers will rise quickly in Africa and the Middle East, Pew found, the Muslim population will grow relative to the overall population in every region of the globe except Latin America and the Caribbean, where relatively few Muslims live.

By James Haleavy

Missing South Korean teen training with IS

Missing South Korean teen expressed desire to join IS on social media
Share this

SEOUL, South Korea — A South Korean teenager who disappeared near the Syrian border in Turkey last month has been found to be receiving training from the Islamic State (IS), South Korea’s spy agency said Tuesday.

The head of the National Intelligent Service (NIS), Byung-kee Lee reported during a closed-door parliamentary meeting that the 18-year-old, surnamed Kim, officially became the first Korean to join IS. Lee, however, added that his whereabouts are still unknown.

According to a senior official, although the spy agency sent a message to the Muslim militant group to let him return to his parents, the demand was rejected.

Read more: Missing South Korean teen expressed desire to join IS on social media

Police have concluded that Kim has not gone missing, but attempted to smuggle himself into Syria, based on the examination of his social media and computer records.

Kim’s mother told Yonhap News Agency that she has not heard from him since he left for Turkey in January. “I just hope that my son comes back home safely as soon as possible,” she said.

As more and more people started to follow his Twitter account after the news broke out, the South Korean government expressed worry about the possibility that young people might imitate Kim’s behavior. Fortunately, his Twitter account  has been suspended since Feb. 4, but, at the same time, the deactivation could hamper the investigation of  Kim’s recent and future situation.

Meanwhile, three missing British teenagers are also believed to be heading to Syria via Turkey, and one of the girls indicated her support for IS on her Twitter profile, as Kim did.

Foreign members who join IS will get training from the organization, including military exercises, Islamic doctrines and Arabic language class for more than one month.

Who is Kim?

The 18-year-old was a home-schooled student since he dropped out of middle school due to bullying. Kim was preparing for a qualification exam as a high school graduate when he disappeared with a man in a black car in Kilis near Syrian border with Turkey.

By EJ Monica Kim


Yonhap News


Herald Media


Islamic terrorists have committed 25,000 separate violent acts worldwide that resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths in last 15 years

Share this

The number of Islamist attacks since 2001 when the World Trade Center’s twin towers collapsed has reached 25,000, according to terrorist watch group The Religion of Peace. The attacks currently occur regularly at a rate of over 200 per month around the world, so that the time at which the 25,000 mark would be reached was able to be predicted by TROP.

In January, Islamist terrorists committed 266 jihad attacks in 28 countries, including 43 suicide attacks. These attacks resulted in 2,998 deaths and 2,261 injured, not counting deaths and injuries that occured after the time the reports were published.

The numbers were almost the same over the past several months, so that when in early January The Speaker asked the editor of TROP, Glen Roberts, about the date at which the number would reach 25,000, he was able to predict that it would occur in February.

“It looks like there have been only 12 days since the beginning of 2005 without at least one Islamic attack,” said Roberts.

The TROP editor, who has maintained a record of Islamist attacks since the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, noted that the number of attacks is the only figure they calculate. They do not calculate the number of people killed by Islamists, which would be many times higher than the 25,000 figure. The 25,000 does not include regular killings by Muslims such as honor killings, murders, or executions, but measures only killings deemed by TROP’s editors to have been motivated by the perpetrators’ interpretation of religious duty.

Roberts also told us that the rate of attacks since 2001 should in no way be considered an increase in such attacks.

“The rate at which people died from Islamic violence was probably much greater prior to this,” said Roberts. “There was less attention focused on terror campaigns in places like Algeria and East Timor, for example, even though the loss of life was staggering. Another example is Bangladesh, where several million people lost their lives in the early 1970’s during independence, a great many of whom were Hindu.”

According to TROP, Islam is unique among the world’s biggest religions in that killing is widespread and continues regularly. Roberts believes that the killing has to do with the scripture and history of the Islam.

Read more: Islam “unique” from other religions – Muslim terrorists kill average five people per day in terrorist attacks – Terrorist watch group

“The people who know Muhammad best – his companions – were extremely prolific in waging war against non-threatening populations under the rationale that Islam is meant to be supreme,” Roberts told us. “There is nothing in the Quran that discourages this. In fact, verse 9:29 says that Christians and Jews are to be killed if they resist subjugation. Verse 9:123 tells Muslims to ‘fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness.’”

Missing South Korean teen expressed desire to join IS on social media

Missing South Korean teen expressed desire to join IS on social media
Share this

SEOUL, South Korea — A South Korean teenager who disappeared in Turkey this month is believed to have joined the Islamic State (IS). Authorities are basing this suspicion on the teen’s social media communications, which consistently included sentiments of longing to join the Muslim militant group.

Kim’s disappearance

The 18-year-old, whose surname was given as Kim, went missing in Kilis near the Syrian border with Turkey on Jan. 10. Kim had traveled to Turkey with a pastor on Jan. 8.

Although Kim had originally planned to take the trip alone last October, his mother had asked a pastor who was introduced by a church friend to accompany Kim.

The pair moved to Kilis the following day, because Kim wanted to visit. He disappeared in the morning around 8 a.m. The pastor said that Kim left in the middle of breakfast. He thought that Kim went back to the hotel room, but was not there.

The pastor reported his disappearance to the Embassy of South Korea in Turkey on Jan. 12.

Kim’s whereabouts

Hotel CCTV showed footage that Kim went out of the hotel and met a man who beckoned to him from the opposite side of the road. They disappeared together in a black car.

According to South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it has been discovered that the vehicle number plate of the black car was that of an illegal taxi, run by Syrian nationals. The man’s face was not clearly recognized on the CCTV footage.

The ministry has not confirmed whether Kim crossed the Syrian border after the car stopped at a Syrian refugee town in Besiri, Turkey.

Gathering information via social media

Social media was the main medium to gain information about Kim’s being a member of IS.

Missing South Korean teen expressed desire to join IS on social media

Kim was called “sunni mujahideen” on Twitter. “Sunni” refers to Sunni Muslims, which are the largest branch of the religion. “Mujahideen,” the plural of mujahid in Arabic, refers to “guerrilla fighters in Islamic countries.” Kim followed 90 accounts relevant to IS.

He had asked advice on how to become a part of the Islamist group on Twitter by sending tweets of “I want to join isis” to those accounts, and one of users, “H. abodou afriki” tweeted back to him. This user advised him to go to Turkey.

Missing South Korean teen expressed desire to join IS on social media

“H. abdou afriki” even suggested that Kim should contact “Hassan” through mobile messaging application Surespot.

According to his mother, Kim said that he would meet a Turkish pen pal friend during the trip. The pastor also told police that he was going to see his friend called “Hassan” in Kilis.

Officials of the ministry said that they have not identified who “Hassan” is, as this is a common Arabic name.

Moreover, the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency found out from information on Kim’s home computer that he bookmarked articles regarding IS. The officials added that he often accessed the websites which explain that IS members’ benefits include good salaries and the provision of a luxury car.

He also wrote that “I want leaving my country and families to get a new life” in English on Facebook, a day before traveling away.

Who is Kim?

The 18-year-old was a home-schooled student since he dropped out of middle school due to bullying. Kim was preparing a qualification exam as a high school graduate.

He spent most of time at home after quitting school. Internet was the only means for him to communicate with the outside world. His parents worried about his lack of a social life.

His mother said that he wanted to go to Turkey. “My son promised me to concentrate on studying for the exam if I allow him to go to a trip in Turkey,” his mother told the Korean police authorities.

His father flew to Turkey on Jan. 16, and came back to Korea after being interviewed by the Turkish police on Jan. 18.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is still tracing his whereabouts by investigating Turkey as well as Syrian refugee town with the aid of Turkish authorities.

By EJ Monica Kim


The Korea Herald

SBS News

The Hankyoreh


Chosun Media

Chosun Media

“The Face of Charlie” – Photo document of the Paris Charlie Hebdo rally

“The Face of Charlie” – Photo document of the Paris Charlie Hebdo rally
Share this

In the wake of the shooting deaths of 12 French cartoonists at the Charlie Hebdo headquarters in Paris earlier this month, rallies and protests erupted in several nations around the globe, involving millions of participants who took to the streets to express their reactions to the attack and to the cartoon itself — calling out for both for the right to freedom of expression and for censorship of Muslim sacrilege.

In Paris, the largest rally since the liberation of the city during the second world war took place within one week of the attack, involving over 3.7 million people and including world leaders such as British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in addition to French President Francois Hollande.

In this series, “The Face of Charlie,” Parisian photographer Andrea Peter Fly captures in vivid detail the individual face of those protesters who took part in the January response to what many considered to be an attack against France itself and human rights in general.



Andrea Peter Fly is a Paris-based photographer whose driving passion is documenting with photography issues that involve humanitarian concerns. She is also active in the domains of fashion, events and celebrity photography.

Does Charlie Hebdo really represent free speech?

Does Charlie Hebdo Really Represent Free Speech?
Share this

As condolences for the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack continue being expressed in France and worldwide by people standing up for the freedom of speech, the controversial satirical magazine published a new issue Monday, featuring Mohammad again on the front cover. In the cartoon, Prophet Mohammad is holding a sign “Je suis Charlie” under the headline “All is forgiven.” If anything, this new move of the magazine only adds to the already turbulent politics in France, a great part of which stems from the tension between Islamic communities and non-Islamic communities within the country.

France is home to Europe’s largest Muslim population. The migration of Muslims to France can be sourced to France’s colonization of North and Western Africa. France’s Colonization of Algeria did not come to an end until 1962, the year when Algeria declared independence. A lot of the migrant families became the lowest strata of the French society in terms of education, employment, and social status in general. The attack of Charlie Hebdo, followed by the 1.5-million-people march in Paris on Sunday and the magazine’s provocative new issue on Monday, threatened to deepen the fissure between the Muslim population and the Roman Catholic majority within France.

This series of events ultimately served to intensify the polarization of wealth and power by socially alienating Muslims from the rest of the society, so they became ever more confined to the poorer “zones” or neighborhoods in the cities. Considered within this context, is Charlie Hebdo really the symbolic free speaker of France, Europe, and even the world? Are we Charlie, but in the derogatory sense that our rallies and “free speech” contribute to the inequality between citizens? The most unsettling fact of last week was that Muslims were condemned as Muslims, not as French citizens, and the violent actions of a few individual Muslims as “Muslim violence” against the universal value of free speech.

The History of Freedom of Speech

Freedom of Speech has a long history. It was included in early human rights documents, and was fervently debated among philosophers and political theorists as early as in the 17th and 18th century when the establishment of a modern state posed questions to the relationship between the Church and the State. The history of freedom of speech has always been part of the history of the separation of the Church and the State. The socio-political context in which free speech became significant was the Church’s dominance in public speech and the rise of the power of the Civil State, which threatened to take away certain rights of the Church to grant them to the individual citizen. But in the Charlie Hebdo attack and its aftermath, the lack of discussion on the question of civil rights is alarming. To what extent the new issue of Charlie Hebdo might have harmed the civil rights of Muslims who are French citizens and have committed no crimes?

Freedom of speech was, and should stay as, a site of a political debate that involves two sides: the speaker and the side that can be potentially harmed by the speech. So long as speech is an act in the public domain, it should be held responsible for any harm it exerts on other citizens as all other public acts. The truth is there are no governments that do not restrict free speech. The discussion of free speech only becomes meaningful when the discussion is focused on the extent to which the freedom should be limited. In France, or for instance, in the United States, we often see free speech restricted by the right to privacy, national safety, or punished when it is categorized as hate speech.

What adds to the complexity of the issue of Charlie Hebdo is that their cartoons do not only involve French citizens, but also other nations which have a very different legal tradition and religion. Here, the question of free speech is, more than anything, a question of politics between nations. However, in the march in Paris last Sunday, the issue of free speech has undoubtedly been taken out of its context. It becomes an absolute, universal value for which France stands, and moreover, as President Hollande puts it, it stands ever more united. When any concept is taken out of context and wrapped in a national flag, we should sit up and worry.

Opinion by Joel Levi

France rallies in act of solidarity against terrorist attacks

An estimated one million people marched up Boulevard Voltaire in Paris in an act of solidarity after a series of terrorist attacks last week, including an attack on a satire publication that left 12 dead.
Share this

PARIS — As many as a million people crowded the streets of Paris on Sunday in a show of solidarity following the week’s terrorist attacks in the French capital. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as French President Francois Hollande, were among 40 world leaders present.

The crowds gathered at Place de la République, holding signs with the now familiar slogan “Je Suis Charlie” in honor of the 12 workers killed at the magazine Charlie Hebdo last Wednesday morning. Others held signs with names of other casualties last week, including three police officers and the hostages held at a Jewish supermarket on Friday.

Flowers, candles, notes and other offerings pour into the streets from the doorstep of the offices of Charlie Hebdo where 12 workers were killed by terrorists Wednesday.
Flowers, candles, notes and other offerings pour into the streets from the doorstep of the offices of Charlie Hebdo where 12 workers were killed by terrorists Wednesday.

Many people held high a caricature portraying the prophet Mohammed locked in a wet kiss with a Charlie Hebdo employee, one of many provocative portrayals of the prophet that have been credited with the attack by Islamic extremists.

Shortly after 3 p.m., the sea of people began slowly marching toward Place de la Nation. People waved French flags and clapped from their balconies along Boulevard Voltaire, and some blasted music from their apartment windows, including The Beatles’ “All You Need is Love.”

Organizations marched in rows holding their banners, including LICRA (International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism), Ligue des Doigts de l’Homme (Human Rights League), UEJF (Union of Jewish students of France), and a group of journalism students holding a banner reading “ECOLES DE JOURNALISME” (Journalism Schools).

Journalism students march together in a rally for solidarity and in honor of freedom of the press, which was attacked by terrorists Wednesday morning.
Journalism students march together in a rally for solidarity and in honor of freedom of the press, which was attacked by terrorists Wednesday morning.

“One of the most important values of the republic has been attacked, freedom of speech and expression, and I think this is an opportunity for France to come together, especially since it has been split because of religious and ethnic divides,” said Simon Prigent, 27, a student at The Graduate School of Journalism in Lille, in Northern France. “Of course this march is even more important to us because it’s our future profession, but this is also a great opportunity for all of France to come together and give a strong message to terrorists.”

The journalism students held up pens and pencils, the most prevalent symbol of the rally, honoring the right to freedom of the press that was attacked. A group of young people hoisted a giant pencil made from cardboard with the rally’s anthem: “Indignation. Resistance. Solidarity. I am Charlie.” Every few minutes the sound of clapping blew through the crowd like a wave, growing louder and louder, and people of all ages chanted, “Charlie, Charlie, Charlie.”

A policeman stands guard by Boulevard Saint Sebastian in Paris before the march on Sunday.
A policeman stands guard by Boulevard Saint Sebastian in Paris before the march on Sunday.

The intense military presence in Paris since Wednesday was felt heavily as armed police stood watch every few meters and snipers overlooked the crowd from rooftops next to chimneys swirling with smoke in the cold. Traffic police appeared more heavily-armed and wary in the days leading up to Sunday, especially given the week’s several bomb-threats and false alarms, including on the metros and at Trocadero, a place near the Eiffel Tower teeming with tourists.

“A lot of the military has been mobilized,” Prigent said. “I feel safe.”

Le Marais, the Jewish neighborhood, was closed Friday night as another security measure after a kosher market was holed-up on Friday, resulting in four deaths, and The Grand Synagogue of Paris was closed on a Sabbath for the first time since World War II.

“They wanted to divide us, but France is not dividing itself,” said Charlotte Belaich, 23, also a journalism student. “Yes, this march is partially about freedom of speech, but for me it’s more about French people coming together because it’s not only the press that’s been targeted, but all of France and its people.”

Ethnic and religious tensions have been on the rise in France with the escalation of terrorist groups, creating a growing rift between the populous Jewish and Muslim communities here. According to a website called The Isis Study Group, France has an estimated 700 to 900 citizens who have or are currently participating in jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq, including the Islamic State, associated with Al Qaeda.

A little girl holds the French flag high alongside the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism.
A little girl holds the French flag high alongside the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism.

The prevailing assumption in Paris is that the week’s attacks were meant to incite further divisions and fear; however, the million people marching fearlessly through the cold even until after dark fell, bearing signs of unity written in English, French, Hebrew and Arabic, showed a different reaction. “We are not afraid,” read thousands of stickers and signs waving through the sea of people of all ages and ethnicities.

Police presence remained heavier than normal Sunday evening, but Belaich is confident the pervasive fear and nervousness will fade. “It’s been a sad atmosphere, and everyone has been talking about what’s happened, at school and even at parties this weekend,” she said. “I think with time, though, other news will take over, and in the end we will show that France won’t be divided and we are not afraid.”

By Felicia Bonanno

Islam “unique” from other religions – Muslim terrorists carry out at least 5 attacks that result in death per day – Terrorist watch group

Islam unique from other religions - Muslims terrorists kill average five people per day in terrorist attacks - Terrorist watch group
Share this

In the previous 10 years only 12 days have passed without an Islamist terrorist attack, according to terrorist watch group (TROP), which has kept a record of all such attacks since Sept. 11, 2001. According to their records, an average of five people are killed each day by Muslims motivated by what the editors of TROP identify as “duty to their religion.”

Islam is unique among the world’s prevailing religions, the group states, in that killing is widespread and relatively continuous. TROP editor Glen Roberts thinks this has to do with the scripture and history of the religion.

“Kill in the name of Jesus–as some crackpot somewhere seems to do once every decade or so–and no one can argue that this is the example of Christ,” Roberts told us. “This is not the case with Muhammad, who ordered numerous military campaigns against non-believers and had people put to death for mocking him or resisting his claim to being a prophet.

“The people who know Muhammad best–his companions–were extremely prolific in waging war against non-threatening populations under the rationale that Islam is meant to be supreme. There is nothing in the Quran that discourages this. In fact, verse 9:29 says that Christians and Jews are to be killed if they resist subjugation. Verse 9:123 tells Muslims to ‘fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness.'”

TROP has kept track of incidents of Islamist violence since Sept. 11, 2001, and the organization distinguishes four features of attacks: Jihad attacks, Allah Akbars (suicide attacks), Dead Bodies, and Critically Injured. The numbers do not include ordinary incidents of violence among nominal Muslims–only killings judged by TROP editors to be motivated by religious duty.

Each month there are hundreds of separate attacks in dozens of different countries. For example, in December, 2014 there were 233 Jihad attacks in 30 countries, including 33 Allah Akbars, resulting in 2,497 dead bodies and over 2,000 injured.

Read more: Muslim terrorists have conducted 25,000 separate deadly attacks since 911 – Terrorist watch group

Roberts offered some thoughts on the comparison of Islam to other religions, such as Christianity and Buddhism–within and from which there has also been terrorist violence.

“Everyone knows that there are peaceful and tolerant members of every religion,” stated Roberts. “The question is whether or not the peace and tolerance is a byproduct of the religion.

“In Christianity, morality generally springs from the New Testament,” Roberts told us. “The peace and tolerance is so pervasive that many Christians probably find themselves having to explain away the pacifist nature of the text in order to rationalize more pragmatic views on self-defense.

“In Islam it is exactly the opposite. Muslims who hold tolerant views or a Judeo-Christian ethic have to begin with their preferred moral context and then make the Quran subordinate to it. In other words they have to ignore what the Quran actually says–and what Muhammad really did–and imagine that it supports what they already believe to be true.”

“A person who abandons themselves to the true teachings of Muhammad is going to be bigoted toward those outside the faith. They are also going to believe that violence is sanctioned for the cause of Allah. This is something that we call ‘radicalization’ in order to avoid the uncomfortable truth that it is really just true Islam.”

TROP’s number of Islamist terror attacks since September 11 sits just under 25,000 at the time of writing, although this number is expected by the group to be significantly lower than the actual number because it does not include incidents not reported by media.

Paris Charlie Hebdo attack: Rethinking the “War on Terror”

Charlie Hebdo Attack: Rethinking the War on Terror
Share this

Two militant sieges have taken place in Paris. One happened Wednesday, January 7, which caused the death of 12 people including 10 cartoonists and columnists of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and the other happened Friday, January 9, which led to the death of several hostages and a suspect at a kosher supermarket near Paris’ Porte de Vincennes. The probable connection of the two incidents is still under investigation by the police.

Wednesday’s attack on Charlie Hebdo left the city in mourning on Thursday. Thousands gathered at a vigil held in the center of Paris to mourn the dead, but also as a protest for the freedom of speech. Vigils in memory of the cartoonists and in support of the freedom of speech were held simultaneously across the world in Lyon, Toulouse, Berlin, London, Sydney, Brussels, among other cities, with protesters holding the placards “Je suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”).

One of the suspects in the Charlie Hebdo attack, Hamyd Mourad, 18, surrendered to the police, while the other two, the Parisian brothers Chérif and Saïd Kouachi, 32 and 34, attempted an escape but were killed in a police raid early Friday. One of the suspects of the kosher grocery shop incident, Amedy Coulibaly, 32, was killed when the police stormed the supermarket. The other suspect, Hayat Boumeddienne, 26, is still on the run. She fled the scene in the confusion of the freeing of the hostages.

Europe has been shocked by the extremity of the violence, and so has been the world. The question that needs to be asked first and foremost is who these suspects were. The Kouachi brothers are being linked to Islamist extremism, as the younger brother was convicted for his participation in a jihadist recruitment ring in Paris in 2008. Coulibaly shared a “high profile” with Chérif Kouachi by spending time in prison for assisting the escape of Islamist militant, Smain Ali Belkacem, from jail.

It seems only natural that the horror and violence that had been haunting Paris for the past three days should be tagged “terrorism” and the gunmen who killed civilians “terrorists.” In fact, media across the world were quick to follow President Francois Hollande’s statement in defining the shootings as “terrorist operations,” and the attacks “barbaric.”

President Barack Obama confirmed, perhaps unsurprisingly, in a condolence speech that “the world has seen once again what terrorists stand for.” Obama said, “They have nothing to offer but hatred and suffering. We stand for freedom and hope and the dignity of all human beings. That is what the city of Paris represents to the world and that spirit will endure forever, long after the scourge of terrorism is banished from this world.” But it is precisely in such a time of horror that one should rethink the “War on Terror,” the governmental and corporate operations that hide behind the quick tagging of “terrorism” and “terrorists.”

Violence against civilians is, undoubtedly, to be condemned. But condemnation of violence under the name of the “War on Terror” only rationalizes the elimination of enemies in the international military campaign led by the United States as the absolute enemy of humanity, and in this case the “neutralization of terrorists” in Paris. But the quest for the cause of violence should not end in “neutralization,” or the naming of it as “terrorism,” but rather, it can only end in the understanding of the conditions that prompted the acts of violence.

The slogan was first used by Present George W. Bush after the September 11 attacks to promote United States’ military intervention in Afghanistan, and continues to be used by the Obama administration. It should also be noted that France was the first ally that joined the United States in airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS) in September last year.

Whether the gunmen were connected with ISIS is still uncertain. But Muslims in France and all over world already find themselves forced to apologize for actions that they have not committed or sympathized with.

Analysis by Joel Levi

Does violence justify more violence?

Does violence justify more violence?
Share this

An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

Even in 2014, no one is really safe anywhere.

Does violence have to beget more violence? Are we as progressive humans regressing into creatures that do not comprehend pain and indulge in shock value to keep ourselves prominent? These questions, I believe, need to be answered at the earliest before it is too late to undo any wrongdoings against mankind.

In the last week alone, the world has seen indescribable pain and terror in three isolated incidents. Pakistan, Nigeria and Australia have all been struck by terror. Islamist jihadists whether it is the Taliban, the Boko Haram or the lone radical Man Haron Monis, have wreaked havoc in a way most of us can’t process. Since the attacks, I want to take a look at what reparative measures are being taken to protect the innocent and bring accused to justice.

Let me start by clarifying that no amount of writing about my empathy for the situation can justify the pain the mothers, fathers, siblings, extended family and friends are going through.

Who will be responsible for our security? Photo Flickr/ cricrich
Who will be responsible for our security? Photo Flickr/ cricrich


For Pakistan’s latest tragedy comparable to America’s 9/11, #Peshawarkillings is more than just a trending topic on Twitter. Summed up in a # and two words are the lives of 140 children. Children, who are the future of Pakistan. Innocents, who have done nothing to deserve the gory, ignominious death while at school. Apart from home, a child in any part of the world feels safe in a school, and for the 140 a military run school will have been the safest.

Vigils and prayers marked the event, but Pakistan was quick to act. A rather Biblical punishment on those languishing in prison, will be meted out by Pakistan’s top brass. Without any signs of haste, the deadly attack spurred Pakistan to rescind the four-year moratorium on the death penalty. Reports of Pakistan’s plan to execute 55 death row inmates, who have no connection to the Peshawar killings, are now making headlines. On Monday, four prisoners accused of attempting to assassinate ex-President Pervez Musharraf in 2003 and a failed attack on the military in 2009 have already been executed.

Does this justify what happened to the children in Peshawar? I agree, that the inmates have committed crimes, but should they pay for crimes other than those they stand accused of. In an ideal world, that would be a no-no. This decision to execute the 55 inmates on death row is meant to appease a population that is in grief.

Tensions between my motherland and Pakistan are instantly forgotten in the face of this terrorising nightmare. But we’re more than neighbours aren’t we? Shouldn’t a brother guide you when you go astray? The Taliban is threatening to carry out more of these attacks, – on innocents – stage jailbreaks and free more prisoners if Pakistan lived up to its promise. A barter shouldn’t even be entertained here, but in light of what may happen in the future, it is best to keep the ones already captured in prison and concentrate the nation’s resources to finding who is responsible for this heinous crime.

Intensifying the countermilitancy campaign in the trial belt by the Pakistani military is a tactical move, but will only prod the Taliban into retaliating andgiven Pakistan’s history with collateral damage, will either push the surviving into the Taliban or turn to vigilantes.

Helplessness in the face of a survivor. Where are the #girls though? Photo Flickr/European Commission DG ECHO
Helplessness in the face of a survivor. Where are the #girls though? Photo Flickr/European Commission DG ECHO


Since vigilantes came up, this turns my focus to Nigeria. Since 2009, school children, women, the elderly and any non-Muslim in sight has been kidnapped, tortured, raped, burned, and lynched. “Western education is sin,” according to Abubakar Shekau, a proponent of the Shariah law and leader of the Boko Haram, terrorists who kidnapped 200 Christian school girls, none of whom we have heard of since they became #bringourgirlsback on Twitter. Celebrities held up placards with these words, nations had meetings, help poured in but as is evident from the reports in Nigeria, the youth and incapacitated military have had to help themselves. With nothing but sticks, stones and makeshift weapons, the civilian Joint Task Force and women in particular have braved their way through recent tragedies.

The latest report from Nigeria is the mindless assassination of elderly men and others branded “infidels,” at a school in Bama near Gwoza, Nigeria. Why a school, much less the elderly are important questions to ponder on? Why isn’t anyone doing anything about this horror? Vigils and prayers are pouring in but as a nation in pain, nothing is being done in terms of alleviating that sorrow. Yes, there are efforts from vigilantes that can be justified as acts of self-defence, but does more killing reduce that?

Is this enough for the martyrs for who have given up their lives for us? Photo Flickr/Peter Hindmarsh

Sydney is lucky compared to the two third world countries put together. Justice was served in good measure, when the lone gunman was shot, not before he took down two innocents. Again vigils and prayers filled Martin Place, but the unprecedented coverage the siege received shows that terror big or small affects us in ways we cannot imagine. Protective measures are warranted, but Australia has resources that Nigeria and Pakistan lack, so it is understandable for the land Down Under to carry out corrective measures that are politically correct.

My focus on Sydney’s terror siege is lesser than what I’ve gleaned from Pakistan and Nigeria, simply because as a third world country citizen I come from situations that are more real to me than Sydney’s. I see the helplessness we have been reduced to and wonder if more can or should be done to help us. It is now time for help from the first world countries who once reigned us, took our possessions and sought to bring order in our supposed primitive and chaotic world to actually step up their game now.

What saddens me further is the negativity surrounding Islam. The religion that bears a striking resemblance to Christianity and shares its roots with Judaism, is a religion that advocates peace. A few disorientated and disillusioned members of the faith, have misinterpreted the Prophet’s teachings making the few who imbibe the essence of the faith, victims of ignorant Islamophobia in the face of these attacks.

I have only touched on a few salient points in this piece, and believe that most of us are thinking about the same things I do. As citizen journalists, I believe that as news makers we have to raise our voices for and against things that happen to the very people who make the news. I hope to use the platform of the written word to discuss what we can and must do to protect ourselves from descending into the darkeness we have taken so long to ascend from.

Violence does not have to beget violence. It must lead us to question why these senseless acts of violence are justified and push those in power to act on behalf of the helpless. For no matter what, an eye for an eye can never be justified.

Opinion by Rathan Harshavardan

The Daily Mail
The Guardian
Images courtesy Flickr

Channel 4 report leads to arrest of twitter user @ShamiWitness

Channel 4 report leads to arrest of twitter user @ShamiWitness
Share this

Pro-ISIS tweeter Mehdi Masroor Biswas aka @ShamiWitness is a 24-year-old man believed to be the person operating under the handle and followed by many jihadist fighters according to officials who arrested Biswas in Bengaluru city, India on Saturday.

Biswas’ Twitter account had a record 17,700 followers before it was shut down following a report by Britain’s Channel 4 News. A quick search reveals another account @ShamiWitness, who describes himself as having “Studied and became a qualified cyber-sheikh, Unemployed, Twitter 24/7, Dawla fanclub and it’s apostasy if you hate Dawla!” The handler is followed by 199 users, tweeted 18 times, the last time on Nov. 18 and contains extremist propaganda.

The offensive tweets on the previously deleted account linked to [email protected], included messages praising fallen jihadists as martyrs of the faith, information for would-be recruits and footage of executions.

L R Pachuau, the police director general for the Bengaluru police in a press conference credited “credible intelligence inputs” that led to the arrest of the junior executive who works for a food conglomerate. In the early hours of Dec. 13, a team raided Biswas’ one-room apartment and seized his laptop, phone and other documents for evidence.

Of Biswas at the conference, Pauchau revealed that the millenial worked at an office in the day and spread his social media propaganda via Twitter, at night. He “ferociously” tweeted late at night after gathering information from various TV and web 2.0 news sites discussing anything related to ISIS or activity by the terrorist outfit in the Iraq and Syria region.

Particularly close to English-speaking terrorists, Biswas became the source of “incitement and information” for the youth interested in joining ISIS. Pauchau says, “ Through his social media propaganda, he abetted [Isis] in its agenda to wage war against the Asiatic powers.”

For now, the Indian police have arrested Biswas on charges of assisting war against the state. Following his arrest Biswas, who denies any wrongdoing, was quoted saying, “I’ve not harmed anybody, I haven’t broken any laws of the country, haven’t waged any war against the Republic of India … I’ve not waged any war against any allies of India.”

Channel 4 also quoted Biswas saying that he would leave everything and join the ISIS if it were not for his family who financially depended on him.

Dr. Mekail Biswas, a retired assistant engineer of the West Bengal State Electricity Board and a homeopathy practitioner believes that this is a case of mistaken identity and labeling Muslims as terrorists. He says, “You know being Muslim, we are easily identified as terrorists,” said Dr Mekail Biswas. “The days are so hard now. But I can tell you that my son … has done nothing wrong. If he has landed in trouble it is because some enemy is after him.”

By Rathan Paul Harshavardan