Saturday, September 20, 2014

What’s new with western duplicity?

Nearly 200,000 civilians have died in the Syrian conflict. The world community has watched the tragedy unfold in front of its eyes and let the massacre of unarmed civilians happen unbridled. Even when it was obvious that Syria’s ruthless murderer President Bashar al-Assad had used chemical weapons against his own civilian population, nothing was done to punish him or his regime.
In his address to the nation on August 31, 2013, President Obama promised of taking military actions against the hated Assad regime. After the speech the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed an authorization to carry out military action. But instead of securing votes necessary in the House and Senate, Obama abruptly abandoned it. He, instead, opted for a Russian-brokered deal to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons, which gave Assad the green signal to continue with his murderous campaign.
Many Syrians have lost their entire family in this tragedy. It is not difficult to understand why many Syrians have joined the rebel movements to fight against Assad's criminal, sectarian (Nusayri) regime that has been targeting its Sunni population who comprise nearly eighty percent of the population of 18 million.
It is widely known that as a resistance movement drags on for years some extremist groups would emerge stronger than more moderate rebel groups. And that is precisely what has happened with the emergence of the ISIS or ISIL. The extremist group, representing disgruntled Sunnis, not just inside Syria but also Iraq, has been able to solidify its positions in both the countries and represent a mortal threat to the sectarian regimes in both Syria and Iraq.
The western invaders of Muslim lands have never been their liberators and, bluntly speaking, are responsible for the majority of the problems plaguing those nation states today. Their interest has never been stability of those former colonies but the existence of a dynamic balance of power in which all players are effectively paralyzed so that no one would threaten them. Thus, they would rather have murderous criminals like Assad and Sisi rule those former colonies than someone who is perceived as a threat to western interest and hegemony. Period!
The governments of the USA, France and the UK have bombed ISIS positions inside Iraq, which have resulted in the tit-for-tat murder of three western civilians – two Americans and a Brit – by the ISIS. The YouTube videos of the beheadings of those unfortunate civilians — and the government and the media propaganda that ISIS is coming to attack them in their malls – a reminder to 9/11 with al-Qaeda – have created the backdrop for western military re-engagement.
Last week, in his speech to the nation, President Obama made a case to the American people that his government is serious about degrading ISIS. After ignoring the Syrian opposition for years and claiming that it was a ‘fantasy’ to believe that they could have made a difference against Assad’s regime, he is now calling for Congress to provide necessary resources to do just that when its efficacy has become weaker with the emergence of the ISIS.
Such NATO-led attacks, of course, against the ISIS are bound to help the criminal Assad regime, which in recent weeks has bombed civilians living in territories under the ISIS control. In recent weeks, the western attacks have also killed dozens of civilians. Life of ordinary civilians in war-torn countries seems always so cheap and expendable!
A U.N. human rights commission has recently emphasized that the Syrian President Bashar Assad's government has committed the bulk of atrocities in the civil war. The head of the commission, Brazilian diplomat and scholar Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, told the U.N.'s top human rights body that the Syrian government's killing of civilians — often through the use of ubiquitous checkpoints — exceeds the crimes against civilians perpetrated by the militants and other anti-government armed groups.
Pinheiro told the 47-nation UNHRC in Geneva, "The Syrian government remains responsible for the majority of the civilian casualties, killing and maiming scores of civilians daily — both from a distance using shelling and aerial bombardment and up close, at its checkpoints and in its interrogation rooms." Pinheiro said, "Checkpoints are often the starting point of a horrific journey of disappearance, torture, sexual abuse and, for many, death. Checkpoints are used to enforce sieges and to trap civilians in areas under indiscriminate bombardment."
Pinheiro expressed the commission's deep frustration that the international community has not found a political solution to end Syria's civil war, which has killed over 190,000 people. "We have charted the descent of the conflict into the madness where it now resides. ... But we have been faced with inaction," he said.
Truly, our world leaders with their selfish interests – which have very little, if any, to do with well-being of the world citizenry – have let us all down. They have led us into a world that is increasingly becoming chaotic and seemingly radar-less. The emergence of ISIS owes it to their monumental hypocrisy in world affairs. They simply cannot have double-standards on matters that affect us all.
Consider, e.g., Israel’s bombing of Gaza in which more than 2,000 unarmed civilians were murdered in a barbaric, murderous campaign. Hundreds of elderly Palestinians and infants were killed whose decapitated, blown out and crushed bodies looked ghastlier than those YouTube videos of the 3 westerners. The UN compounds and schools were deliberately bombed. Children playing in the sea-beach of Gaza were not spared either.
And yet, what have the UN Brahmins done to punish the Israeli war criminals for their heinous crimes against humanity? Nothing! Audaciously, some of them actually resupplied weapons to Israel to prolong its murderous orgy against Palestinian civilians. The UNHRC’s condemnation of Israeli barbarity was simply ignored by these powerful nations of our time. They behaved as if those Palestinians have no right to live normal lives in dignity, free from the infringements to their rights caused by the Israeli occupation of their land.
During NATO’s post-9/11 invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, hundreds of thousands of civilians were deliberately killed by the occupation forces. Even the journalists covering the stories in the ground were not spared by Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld’s trigger-happy soldiers. To this date, many civilians are dying in American drone attacks in Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan who have nothing to do with al-Qaeda. Was their life less valuable than the life of our American fallen victims?
So, when the same USA and her NATO partners condemn the brutality of the ISIS and its highly deplorable and condemnable treatment of others, people are not amused. They see hypocrisy. What they desire is justice for all crimes – small and big, and not just against some tiny Sudra while the mighty Brahmin criminals go Scott-free. They don’t want to hear that ‘mistakes’ were made by the nuclear Brahmins and their rogue friends or partners while punishable ‘crimes’ were committed by the have-nots. No oops, please.
Once we have fairness and order built into our system that we have created, disorder will go away.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Is Makkah for the rich while historical sites are demolished?

I was recently made aware of a very disturbing news about the holy sites of Islam in today's Saudi Arabia. During my pilgrimage, I had the first hand knowledge of the sad state of affairs of those places. Outside the two mosques in Makkah and Madinah, all the historical sites showed serious disregard or criminal neglect.  An important historical site, the Jabal al-Noor, was not accessible and was discouraged by the authorities to make a visitation. It seemed more like going through a junkyard for any visitor! No efforts were made to preserve such sites close to Makkah and Madinah and were left to the mercy of nature and people to see to their eventual disappearance.

In the USA I have seen how much care and attention are paid to preserving historical sites even though there is so little of history to celebrate about. On the other hand, when I saw the neglect in the Saudi Arabia with well-known historical sites dating from the time of the Prophet of Islam (S), I was simply shocked. One could see garbage being dumped and not cleared from the sites around some of those historical sites. You wonder: how could such be when the KSA is one of the richest countries in the world? The kingdom has all the wealth to squander on useless projects, including buying weapons that they never use, and yet necessary funding for preservation of the historical sites is missing. Why? Many see such neglects as willful and deliberate, as part of Wahabism, which the regime professes.

Many Muslims are very concerned that the historical relics and sites are systematically destroyed by the authorities in the KSA to obliterate their connections with history and today's 1.7 billion adherents of Islam. What is going on in the name of expansion of the Kaba's precincts is perceived by many as simply criminal. And probably there is no other way to explain this fact.

Here below are some excerpts from a written posting in the the Independent, UK:

Dr Irfan al-Alawi is the executive director of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation and has fought in vain to protect his country's historical sites. He says, "We have already lost 400-500 sites. I just hope it's not too late to turn things around."

He also bemoans: ""No one has the balls to stand up and condemn this cultural vandalism."

Sami Angawi, a renowned Saudi expert on the region's Islamic architecture, is equally concerned. "This is an absolute contradiction to the nature of Mecca and the sacredness of the house of God," he told the Reuters news agency earlier this year. "Both [Mecca and Medina] are historically almost finished. You do not find anything except skyscrapers."

Dr Alawi hopes the international community will finally begin to wake up to what is happening in the cradle of Islam. "We would never allow someone to destroy the Pyramids, so why are we letting Islam's history disappear?"

Under Threat
Bayt al-Mawlid
When the Wahabis took Mecca in the 1920s they destroyed the dome on top of the house where the Prophet Mohammed was born. It was then used as a cattle market before being turned into a library after a campaign by Meccans. There are concerns that the expansion of the Grand Mosque will destroy it once more. The site has never been excavated by archaeologists.

Ottoman and Abasi columns of the Grand Mosque
Slated for demolition as part of the Grand Mosque expansion, these intricately carved columns date back to the 17th century and are the oldest surviving sections of Islam's holiest site. Much to the chagrin of Wahabis, they are inscribed with the names of the Prophet's companions. Ottomon Mecca is now rapidly disappearing

Al-Masjid an-Nabawi
For many years, hardline Wahabi clerics have had their sites set on the 15th century green dome that rests above the tomb holding the Prophet, Abu Bakr and Umar in Medina. The mosque is regarded as the second holiest site in Islam. Wahabis, however, believe marked graves are idolatrous. A pamphlet published in 2007 by the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, endorsed by Abdulaziz Al Sheikh, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, stated that "the green dome shall be demolished and the three graves flattened in the Prophet's Masjid".

Jabal al-Nour
A mountain outside Mecca where Mohammed received his first Koranic revelations. The Prophet used to spend long spells in a cave called Hira. The cave is particularly popular among South Asian pilgrims who have carved steps up to its entrance and adorned the walls with graffiti. Religious hardliners are keen to dissuade pilgrims from congregating there and have mooted the idea of removing the steps and even destroying the mountain altogether.

You can read about this disturbing development by clicking here and here.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Western Conquerors were never Liberators

On August 5 of this year, Major General Harold J. Greene was killed in Afghanistan by a lone gunman. Greene was the highest-ranking U.S. military officer to be killed in a war zone in four decades. Before him, according to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial database, Maj. Gen. John Albert B. Dillard Jr. was killed on May 12, 1970 when his helicopter was shot down. Later Rear Adm. Rembrandt Cecil Robinson, who was the Navy’s equivalent of a major general, was killed on May 8, 1972 when his helicopter crashed. Five other American officers of comparable rank were killed in the Vietnam War, all in air crashes, whether accidental or caused by hostile action. Lt. Gen. Timothy L. Maude, who was the Army’s deputy chief of staff for personnel, was killed at the Pentagon site on September 11, 2001.

 What is noteworthy here is that Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene died not at the hand of a sworn enemy like the Taliban but from a burst of gunfire by a soldier in an allied army who had been largely paid, trained and equipped with the American and NATO support. One of the most puzzling developments has been such insider attacks, in which Afghan personnel have opened fire on their foreign military counterparts.

 Why? Why did Maj. Gen. Greene die? Is there something wrong he did, and/or symbolized or represented that was at the heart of the reason behind his killing? How about the other killings that have happened in the occupied territories? Surely, for every effect there is at least a cause behind; nothing of that sort happens without a reason. What could have motivated the Afghan soldiers to killing Greene and other occupying soldiers?

 Occupation of a foreign territory is never an easy task. Even when the former foes are defeated, newer ones have always emerged to continue the old fight. Occupying forces have, therefore, always tried to create its surrogate army by recruiting from inside the occupying territory to work as a buffer force. That is how they have been able to rule vast territories of India and other colonies in our world while their own forces accounted for a very small fraction of the total force.

 Occupation of a foreign territory with an alien culture is even harder. That could well explain the reasons behind much of the problems faced by the occupation forces in Afghanistan. In 2010 an American and a Canadian colonel and two American lieutenant colonels were killed in a suicide car bombing. Per account of a coalition official, that event sent “more than a little shock and numbness” at coalition headquarters. Another coalition official compared General Greene’s death to the killings of American advisers at Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry by an Afghan government employee in 2012. That attack came in the midst of a wave of anti-American violence over burnings of the copies of the Holy Qur’an at Bagram Air Field, a sprawling base north of Kabul. A German brigadier general and a senior Afghan commander were among the wounded.

 The “inside attacks” phenomenon became noticeable in 2008 and surged for the next few years. In 2012, there were 60 such attacks, including the fatal shooting of two American advisers by a government worker inside the Interior Ministry. By June of this year, 87 insider attacks had killed 142 coalition troops and wounded another 165, according to the Long War Journal, an online publication focused on American counterterrorism.

 There was no similar incident before the shooting of Maj. Gen. Greene on August 5. According to a senior Pentagon official, the general and some other Afghan and American officers were standing by a water purification tank when the Afghan soldier opened fire without warning.

 It was also unclear what provoked two other “insider attacks” that week: a firefight Tuesday between an Afghan police guard and NATO troops near the governor’s office in southern Paktia province, and an incident Wednesday in Uruzgan province in which an Afghan policeman poisoned his colleagues’ food, then shot at least seven of them before fleeing in a police truck, officials said.

 As (late) Professor Edward Said mentioned in his lecture at a seminar in Cal Tech some 30 years ago, which I had the pleasure of attending, nowhere did the occupation forces encounter as much resistance as they did in Muslim territories. Muslims were militarily defeated and their lands occupied by the western forces, but the resistance against occupation continued for decades making it very difficult for new rulers to sustain their gains. This, in spite of all the propaganda of the occupation forces trying to portray its so-called kinder, gentler mission. From the time of Napoleon, these western occupiers, who had defeated Muslims militarily, claimed that they intended to restore, protect, and liberate their new subjects. They even sounded as if they had no quarrel with the religion of Islam and the culture of Muslims.

 After his royal entry to Alexandria, Egypt in 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte proclaimed, "You will be told that I have come to destroy your religion; do not believe it! Reply that I have come to restore your rights, to punish the usurpers, and that more than the Mamluks, I respect God, his Prophet, and the Qur'an." One of his generals, Jacques Ménou, even converted to Islam to show his respect for Islam.

 Similarly, soon after his arrival in Baghdad in March 1917, Stanley Maude, the British commander, after having defeated the Ottomans, addressed "the People of the Baghdad Vilayet" saying: “Our armies have not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators. Since the days of Hulaku your citizens have been subject to the tyranny of strangers, your palaces have fallen into ruins, your gardens have sunken into desolation and you yourselves have groaned in bondage. ... the Turks have talked of reforms, yet do not the ruins and wastes of today testify the vanity of those promises?

It is the wish not only of my King and his peoples, but it is also the wish of the great nations with whom he is in alliance, that you should prosper even as in the past. ... Between your people and the dominions of my King there has been a close bond of interest. …

It is the hope of the British Government that the aspirations of your philosophers and writers shall be realised and that once again the people of Baghdad shall flourish, enjoying their wealth and substance under institutions which are in consonance with their sacred laws and their racial ideals. …

I am commanded to invite you, through your nobles and elders and representatives, to participate in the management of your civil affairs in collaboration with the political representatives of Great Britain who accompany the British Army, so that you may be united with your kinsmen in North, East, South, and West in realising the aspirations of your race.”

 
Eight months later, in November 1917, the Soviet communist conquerors of Central Asia announced in a missive titled "To All the Muslim Workers of Russia and the East":

Muslims of Russia…all you whose mosques and prayer houses have been destroyed, whose beliefs and customs have been trampled upon by the tsars and oppressors of Russia: your beliefs and practices, your national and cultural institutions are forever free and inviolate. Know that your rights, like those of all the peoples of Russia, are under the mighty protection of the revolution...”

 As noted by a neocon analyst in his 2009 essay “Western Conquerors or Liberators of Muslims?” the history of Europe is replete with such statements. After Britain secured its rule over India, its officials made repeated professions of respect for Islam, so as to diminish Muslim hostility to their rule. … According to him, a particularly bizarre instance dates to 1937, when the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini arranged for Muslim notables from Italian-ruled Libya to gird him with the "sword of Islam" during a visit to Tripoli. "Muslims may rest assured," Mussolini intoned on that occasion, "that Italy will always be the friend and protector of Islam throughout the world."

 All those western conquerors, perceived more as crusaders than liberators, were hypocritical. This perception was not altogether lost soon after 9/11 when President George W. Bush wanted to present his administration as anti-Taliban, and anti-al-Qaeda but not anti-Islam. However, the often bigotry-ridden, inflammable and hostile remarks from some members within his administration could not hide the real intent. The American-led invasion of Afghanistan, originally referred to one time by President Bush as a "crusade", was then haughtily, almost in a Pharaonical way, dubbed   "Operation Infinite Justice", which was finally called "Operation Enduring Freedom" to present itself as saving Afghans from tyranny of the Taliban. Although the Taliban was replaced, genuine freedom remained a far cry for most Afghans. And the same is true for the Iraqis who were rid of former dictator Saddam Hussein.

 The occupation forces have replaced the old guards and trained new ones. But nothing seems to be working towards stabilizing the current regimes. In Iraq there is ISIS (or ISIL), which is threatening the Shia-led government. The American-led invasion, occupation and re-intervention have gone so wrong that a major US newspaper last week put up a cartoon depicting Saddam Hussein taunting “Do you miss me?”

 

>> To be continued...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A response on the Rohingya issue from Carlos Sardina Galache

which has appeared in the DVB, which I share in to to (BTW: DVB has failed to post some of my responses):
According to Mr. Tonkin, the Rohingya identity might be "imposed from above". Of course, he doesn't provide any evidence to support that, but this insinuation is particularly insulting in view of the more than credible reports of the authorities trying to impose the "Bengali" identification, often using violence against those that refuse it.
He claims that the name Rohingya is offensive to Rakhines and Burmese alike. That's irrelevant. Any individual/group has the right to self-identify, not the right to decide others' self-identification. Rakhines have all the right to correct me if I call them Bamar (or even Burmese if they like), in the same way that a Basque have the right to self-identify as such and not as a Spaniard (regardless of how offended a person from Madrid might feel), and it's only for Rohingyas to decide how I should call them. Period.
It might well be true that Muslims in Arakan didn't identify themselves widely as Rohingya until the 20th Century. But many other ethnic groups in Burma didn't identify themselves using their current designations until quite recently. Ethnic groups and boundaries are not eternal fixed categories (as the British believed in colonial times and Mr. Tonkin seems to believe even now), but the (somewhat unstable over time) results of complex historical and political processes, as well as the interaction with other groups. Many authors have proved that ethnic categories were infinitely more fluid in pre-Colonial times, and that it was the British who imposed a rigid grid on a bewildering and confusing variety of human groups. Mr. Tonkin would do well in reading authors like Fredrik Barth, F. K. Lehman, Edmund Leach or James C. Scott to move beyond his Victorian-era and essentialist views on ethnicity.
Professor Michael Charney showed clearly in his PhD thesis ("Where Jambudipa and Islamdom Converged: Religious Change and the Emergence of Buddhist Communalism in Early Modern Arakan, 15th-19th Centuries") that there were substantial Muslim communities in Arakan from the 17th century on. It's clear that the descendants of these communities plus those of the migrants from Bengal arrived in colonial times (now it would be impossible to distinguish between them) are the present-day Rohingyas.
Mr. Tonkin would like us to believe that the problem lies in the fact that the Rohingyas are trying to claim a name and an ethnicity which "offends" the Rakhines and the Burmese, and they should renounce to their identity in order to achieve peace. He seems to forget who are the main victims in Arakan State since at least 1974, and who initiated the persecution to "purify" Burma of those who don't fit in a too narrow and historically false definition based on "blood and soil" of who belong in Burma.
Of course, there's a lot of mythology in the accounts by Rohingya historians (some of them claim erroneously that Arakan was a Muslim kingdom at times, on the basis of the Muslim/Bengali tittles some kings adopted, for instance); that's scarcely surprising and it shouldn't serve as a reason to deny their identity altogether. There's a lot of mythology and plenty of anachronisms and mystification in the history that any ethnic/national group tells about itself, including also the Rakhines, the Burmese, the Thais, the Spanish, the British or whatever other group in the world. Official Burmese history is full of bogus claims about a mythical pre-colonial Burma roughly encompassing present-days borders, and even beyond, which has little basis on fact. Sadly, it seems that Mr. Tonkin has decided to direct his (highly selective) criticism to the weak side's historical "mythology" (that of the Rohingyas), and to take at face value the official Burmese and Rakhine "histories".

Monday, August 18, 2014

Feminism - in the eyes of the monotheistic religions

Feminism has become a buzz word these days, esp. within the women communities around the globe. How does various religions see the issue? Do Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have the same conception of women? Are they different in their conceptions? Do Judaism and Christianity really offer women better treatment than those offered in Islam? What is the truth?


Here is an article that is quite illuminating.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Response to Derek Tonkin's article in the JAS



This is in response to Derek Tonkin’s article: The R-word, and its ramifications, which was posted in the JAS:

 As I first noted in one of my articles, Derek Tonkin,  former British Ambassador to Thailand and Advisor to Bagan Capital Limited, is in the business of promoting the agenda of the Burmese government, as this is part of his job making some money out of that friendship that he enjoys. He has been intellectually dishonest on the issue of the Rohingya cause knowing that his Burmese patrons in the administration of Thein Sein and his British patrons for whom doing business in Myanmar is more important than human rights of the persecuted minority. So, time and again, he comes out of his turtle nest to repeat flawed theory. In this endeavor, he does not miss to quote another intellectually dishonest researcher Jacques Leider, well known for anti-Muslim, missionary bias.
 
Mr. Tonkin may like to read the British report of 1826 in which the then British administrator Paton cited the presence of 30% Muslims in Arakan soon after the territory was annexed by the East India Company. What did happen to those Muslims? Are they not the forefathers of today's Rohingya people? What about the report of the British surgeon, Dr. Buchanan, who visited Burma in the pre-colonial days of the late 18th century when he mentioned the Rohingya people? None of these historical facts, let alone tomes of literature - prevalent in Bengal and Arakan - pointing to the rich history of Rohang, Roshang - desh and its people matter to paid agents like Derek Tonkin. He is a joke and sounds like an intellectual fraud.
 
One of the signs of genocide is denying the right of a group to self-identify itself. And that is what the Burmese authorities and their racist Buddhists have been doing for the past half a century when it comes to the Rohingya people. Instead of twisting facts to hide such a horrendous crime, what Tonkin and Leider ought to do is to take a moral stand and condemn it vehemently. That would be proper rather than wasting everyone's times with nonsense that is untrue and cannot be justified under any circumstance.

Appendix:
Derek Tonkin is Founder & Chairman of Network Myanmar - an organization promoting engagement with Myanmar. During the 90s, Mr. Tonkin was Chairman of the Beta Vietnam Fund and the Beta Mekong Fund, that made investments in Myanmar. He is also in the Advisory Board of Bagan Capital, which promotes business with Burma.

You can find the info about his activities by clicking http://www.bagancapital.com/index.php/why-Myanmar
 
As to the group's justification of business with Burma, see the quote below from its website:

Why Myanmar?
Myanmar is the last frontier market opportunity in Southeast Asia.

Myanmar is a country with enormous economic potential based on its strategic location, its size and its stock of human and physical resources.

Since elections in 2010, Myanmar has been caught in a whirlwind of excitement, intrigue and change. The Government has demonstrated a general commitment to the far-reaching political and economic reforms that began over two years ago – with new laws, policies and engagements. As a result, a rapprochement with western economies and lifting of most of their sanctions has renewed investor interest in the country.

Reforms have seen the Myanmar Government moving to dismantle anti-competitive elements of the domestic business environment and encourage foreign investment, with the aim of increasing economic efficiency and driving economic growth.  Reform of the banking system and development of the financial sector is also well under way. We believe government policy has now established a base for extensive social and economic renewal in Myanmar, allowing the country to make the leap into the 21st century.  There is immense potential for rewarding participation by foreign investors.
 
 
 

Are people misled by propaganda about ISIS?

In times of war and troubles, truth is one of the first casualties. As we have seen many times before  with Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and other troubling places in the world, so is the case with ISIL or ISIS, or so it seems. From published reports, I have not found anything to show that there is anything good about this extremist group. My opinion about their evil prowess has not changed. If published reports are true they are monsters who have no respect for Islam and are abusing the name to create hatred towards the faith of a billion and six hundred million Muslims.

The group first emerged amongst the Sunnis as a resistance movement against American occupation forces in Iraq. Later the local Sunnis had enough of their brand of extremism and were able to throw them out. Unfortunately, with Nuri al-Maliki's sectarian rule in Iraq which marginalized the Sunnis, the group resurrected from the ashes of Anbar under a new battle-hardened leadership in Syria. They have been able to gravitate many disgruntled Sunnis to fight Maliki's Iraqi forces and in so doing are allegedly committing horrendous crimes. Unlike Judaism and Christianity, there is no place in Islam for killing unarmed non-believers, and yet ISIS is accused of such brutality. They are accused of demolishing Shia mosques and shrines.

They are even presented as child killers. How true are such claims about ISIS? 

The source of the claim comes from Mark Arabo in an interview with CNN. Arabo says that ISIS is “systematically beheading children” and that “there is a park in Mosul in which heads of beheaded children are put on a stick.” Arabo has been instrumental in promoting House Resolution 663, a resolution that expresses an “urgent need to protect religious minorities from persecution.” Fueling the speculation has been websites, like Catholic Online, that purport to have pictures of children beheaded by ISIS.

One of the pictures that Catholic Online includes — and that has become ubiquitous on social media — shows a baby with three rifles pointed at his head. While the image is outrageous, it was not a photo taken of ISIS in northern Iraq.

The photo originally appeared online April 11, 2014 on the Facebook page of a person from Yemen. Numerous people on that page attest that the clothes the child is wearing are obviously Yemeni. A few days later, though, the image started popping up on pro-Syrian Army websites claiming that it was an Armenian child who was taken by Syrian rebels. Whatever the original context for the photo, we know based on the date alone that it was not recently taken in Mosul or northern Iraq.

You can find out the real truth about this story circulated in the popular media by clicking here.