Pakistani Christian official assassinated

Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s Ministry of Minority Affairs, was assassinated for opposing that country’s anti-blasphemy law, which is being used to persecute his fellow Christians.  He was the second official to be killed for taking this position.  At the link, see also the video in which he confesses his Christian faith and says that he is willing to die for it.

via Pakistan’s Only Christian Official Killed Over Blasphemy Law Opposition » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog.

HT:  tODD

The Libyan Revolution

Muammar Gaddafi and his loyalists are holding onto Tripoli, as the rest of the country is joining with the mass uprising of the people.  Gaddafi is attacking his citizens with tanks and from the air, but the populace has weapons too.  Some army units have reportedly abandoned the dictator and have joined the popular revolt.  Ordinary people have raided police stations and looted abandoned militia bases for weapons. Pitched battles are breaking out everywhere.  An unconfirmed rumor that Gaddafi has been shot sent oil prices down.

Gaddafi reportedly depends on foreign mercenaries as his personal military force.  From descriptions these seem to be mostly African, rather than Americans who read Soldier of Fortune Magazine, but who knows with mercenaries?

See:

Gaddafi loyalists launch counterattacks; U.S. consults allies on Libya options.

Gaddafi relies on paramilitary, mercenaries

Oil settles near $97 on rumors Gaddafi shot

Gaddafi is a brutal dictator and an overt sponsor of terrorism, very much like Saddam Hussein, if not worse.  If he can be overthrown–and it isn’t clear that this will happen, but it seems likely–do you think this outbreak of freedom in the Islamic world might have overthrown Saddam, if we had not invaded Iraq?  Do you think the American invasion had anything to do with these revolutions?  Or do they show that the wars have been unnecessary?

 

 

Mubarak steps down in Egypt

President Mubarak, despite what he pledged just the day before, stepped down from power, the result of an 18-day popular uprising in Egypt.  The military is in control for now and has promised both democracy and continued peace with Israel:

The ruling military pledged Saturday to eventually hand power to an elected civilian government and reassured allies that Egypt will abide by its peace treaty with Israel after the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, as it outlined the first cautious steps in a promised transition to greater democracy.

The military’s statement Saturday had been eagerly awaited by the public and thousands of protesters still massed in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square. The crowds were still riding high on jubilation over the success in removing Mubarak on Friday after 18 days of unprecedented popular protests, but they promised to maintain pressure on the military to carry through long-sought reforms.

After the statement, the main opposition coalition — a loosely based grouping of youth and traditional opposition groups — said it would end its main protest in Cairo’s Tahrir, or Liberation, Square but would call for weekly demonstrations after Friday prayers.

The group also listed its demands for the first time during a press conference. Those included: the lifting of hated emergency laws, the forming of a presidential council and broad-based unity government, the dissolution of parliament and creation of a committee to amend or rewrite the constitution. They called for reforms ensuring freedom of the press, freedom to form political parties and more transparent media institutions.

The coalition also called for an investigation into allegations of endemic corruption within the regime and the trial of officials responsible for the deaths of protesters.

via The Associated Press: Egypt army commits to power transfer, Israel peace.

Egypt is the world’s largest and most influential Arab state.  The reverberations of the revolution are spreading through the Arab world, with pro-democracy factions surfacing just about everywhere, including Saudi Arabia.   Might western-style freedom and democracy have a chance, once the people taste it?  Or will  democracy instead lead to less freedom, to  Sharia law and radical Islam?  Israel is very worried, though the military’s assurance that the peace treaty will be honored is surely good news.  But that’s before a new civilian government is elected.  Some experts have tied the rise of  radical Islam to the frustrations of living under authoritarian regimes, suggesting that increased freedom will give people a more positive scope for their energies.

What do you think will happen?  Over the next year or two, do you think we will see (1) western-style democracy  (2) an attempt to restore the Caliphate  (3)  war with Israel  (4)  all of the above  (5) other?

The views on Egypt

So neoconservatives are supporting the uprising in Egypt as evidence of the universal yearning for democratic values.  Pro-Israel conservatives, though, are hoping Mubarak holds on to power, since a democratic government might turn against Israel and support jihadi terrorists.  Paleo-conservatives are thinking the revolution doesn’t concern us one way or the other.  Most mainstream Republicans are supporting the President, in the name of that once-honored principle of politics stopping at the border and the need to show a united front in international affairs.

And the President is. . . .let’s see.  It’s hard to tell.  He’s supporting the protesters in their desire for freedom, but he is not saying Mubarak must go.  That may be the best course for now, since events really are out of our control.  But it’s hard to see the philosophy behind the policy.

Do Democrats and liberals in general have a foreign policy policy that shapes their position on what is going on in Egypt?  I could find the different conservative takes–confirming what I have often say about how conservatives, far from being a monolithic faction, actually have more ideological diversity in their ranks than liberals do.  But I can’t find a distinct liberal position on this.  Can any liberals in the audience help me?  Or is there the same ambivalence and range of positions that the conservatives have?

In backing change in Egypt, U.S. neoconservatives split with Israeli allies.

Debunking Muslim takeovers by birthrate

It is widely said that the high birthrates of Muslim immigrants will eventually give them majority status in Europe.  Not going to happen, according to researchers.  Actually, the Muslim birthrate throughout the world is declining, though not as much right now as with native Europeans.  But the growth of the Islamic population in Europe will be too small to make much of a difference:

Senior researcher Brian Grim said: “Across the next 20 years, we’re only seeing a 2 percent rise in the total share of Europe that is Muslim. We’re projecting that the growth rate is slowing. So this rise is very very modest. It’s a relatively small share of the overall population in Europe… There’s no real scenario that we’ve looked at that this ‘Eurabia’ scenario would come to be.”

Alan Cooperman, associate director for research, said the percentages of Muslims in some European populations would rise from 3 to 5 percent to between 6 and 10 percent by 2030. “Those are substantial increases but they are very far from the ‘Eurabia’ scenario of runaway growth,” he said. “We do not see either wordlwide or in Europe runaway growth. The growth rates are slowing.”

via Will Pew Muslim birth rate study finally silence the “Eurabia” claim? | Analysis & Opinion |.

A new nation

After years of civil war and genocide, in which the Arab Muslims of the north brutalized the African Christians of the south, a new nation has been born.  In accord with an armistice agreement, the people of southern Sudan voted for secession.  With 99.57% of the vote.

The new country, South Sudan, is set for sovereignty within six months.  It will be one of the poorest nations on earth.  And yet it sits atop vast amounts of oil.  By terms of the agreement, the oil wealth has to be shared with the north, but it needs to be developed first.

This is a country that’s worth pulling for.  And praying for.

It’s official: South Sudan set to secede with a 99.57 percent vote – CSMonitor.com.


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