Brutalist

Gunfire and explosions have been reported at the luxury Resorts World Manila hotel in the Philippines. A masked gunman was on the second floor of one hotel, firing at guests, hotel employees fleeing the scene told CNN Philippines. According to initial press reports, at least 25 people have been injured following the attack which has been claimed by Islamic State operatives.

Police, fire trucks and SWAT teams were seen in the area at about 1:30 a.m. local time Friday to deal with what may be a terrorist event, and takes place just days after president Duterte launched martial law in Mindanao in crackdown against local terrorist activity.

One picture featured white smoke billowing from the top of the complex.

The venue, Resorts World Manila, also known as RWM, is a resort complex in Newport City which consists of 4 integrated hotels,39 restaurants, a shopping and a gambling area located in metropolitan Manila. RWM has an array of hotels, restaurants and bars. Tourists flock to the complex for its casino, shopping mall, cinema and theater.

\"Resorts World Manila is currently on lockdown following reports of gunfire from unidentified men,\" the resort posted to its Twitter feed.

The complex, which is described on RWM's website as \"the first and largest integrated resort in the Philippines,\" is located across from Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Casualties were seen being carried out on stretchers and loaded up onto ambulances, or helped to make their own way out of the center in the aftermath of the incident, which occurred at about 1:30am local time on Friday morning

The Philippines has been grappling with incidents of terrorism, especially on the southern island of Mindanao. There, in the city of Marawi, government forces have been battling ISIS-linked militants for control of the city.

The battle for Marawi, a largely Muslim city, has displaced at least 70,000 residents and left 140 people dead. The terrorist siege unfolded last week as Muslims worldwide began to mark the holy month of Ramadan.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law over the island of Mindanao last week after the crisis began. Duterte has suggested he might extend martial law until the end of the year or impose it nationwide, alarming critics.

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According to the official narrative, U.S. President Donald Trump was hosting in Washington the leader of a long-friendly country and historic ally. In typical diplomatic niceties, Trump mentioned Turkey's role as a pillar in the Cold War against Soviet expansion, and Turkey's legendary courage in fighting alongside American soldiers in the Korean War in the 1950s. Trump also said, speaking of the present, that he looks forward to \"working together with President Erdogan on achieving peace and security in the Middle East, on confronting the shared threats, and on working toward a future of dignity and safety for all of our people.\" Facts on the ground, however, are frequently less pleasant than Kodak-moment niceties.

The fundamental incompatibility between Trump and Erdogan was too apparent from the beginning of what looks like a largely transactional, pragmatic but problematic relationship. Erdogan's political ideology is deep-rooted in an often-aggressive blend of Sunni Islamist supremacy and neo-Ottoman, Turkish nationalism. Erdogan, disregarding Saudi Arabia and other possible contenders for the title, claims to be the protector of Sunni Muslims across the Middle East, and does not hide his ideological kinship with groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, of which Trump is not a great admirer. In contrast, Trump hit out at Muslims during his campaign and proposed both a \"Muslim travel ban\" and a \"Muslim registry\". It was only too predictable: in response, Erdogan, in June 2016, called for Trump's name to be stripped from the Trump Towers in Istanbul.

Erdogan's Washington, DC visit, apart from Trump and Erdogan agreeing to disagree on more essential issues, will be remembered as a Turkish excess, with scenes of the bloodied faces of peaceful protestors beaten up by Erdogan's bodyguards in front of the Turkish ambassador's residence. Although these unpleasant incidents caused an uproar in America, such brutality should have come as no surprise.

Slightly over a year ago, Erdogan and his team were in America on another visit, with the Turkish president scheduled to speak at the Brookings Institution. His security guards harassed and physically assaulted journalists trying to cover the event; they also forcibly attempted to remove several journalists, although they were on the guest list. According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the Brookings staff prevented them from ejecting the reporters. One Turkish journalist was removed from the building while checking in. But that was not the entire show. An American reporter attempting to film the harassment was kicked in the chest. The National Press Club was outraged. \"We have increasingly seen disrespect for basic human rights and press freedom in Turkey,\" said the president of the Club, Thomas Burr. \"Erdogan doesn't get to export such abuse\".

Shortly before that, in February 2016, Erdogan had embarked on a Latin America trip. During his speech at the Instituto de Altos Estudios Nacionales (National Higher Studies Institute) in Ecuador's capital, Quito, a group of women began shouting \"Fuera Ecuador Erdogan\" (\"Get out of Ecuador, Erdogan\") and \"Asesino\" (\"Murderer\"). About a minute later, Erdogan's bodyguards brutally attacked and forcefully removed them from the room: they punched the protesters in their heads and breasts. As the women were removed from the room, Erdogan said: \"As we see now, there are sometimes disrespectful characters as well. Appropriate responses will always be taken to handle these disrespectful people\".

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The embassy violence, however, and the savagery of Erdogan's Turkish enforcers, whom many observers in Washington viewed as thugs, reflects a new dimension in carrying his message to any potential leader who may host him. CNN's Marc Randazza, after mentioning video footage showing Erdogan speaking to the black-suited agents before they rushed the protesters, said, \"It was brutal -- with the agents punching protesters and kicking them while they were on the ground.... The word outrage,\" he wrote, \"does not come close to describing this incident\". The bloody clash sent nine people to the hospital. The White House remained silent, but the Turkish ambassador was summoned to the State Department, which \"raised its concerns about these events...\" Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the administration's \"dismay\" had been expressed to the Turkish government.

Arizona Senator John McCain and California Senator Dianne Feinstein wrote to Erdogan that \"the actions of your staff violate the constitutional protections of freedom of the press and freedom of assembly enjoyed by all Americans.\" McCain even suggested:

We should throw their ambassador the hell out... This is the United States of America. This isn't Turkey; this isn't a third-world country; and this kind of thing cannot go unresponded to diplomatically.

Instead, the Turks added insult to injury. The Turkish Foreign Ministry on May 22 summoned U.S. Ambassador to Turkey John Bass over the incident to give him a verbal and written protest. But what could Turkey be protesting after its president's bodyguards attacked a defenseless, small bunch of peaceful protesters? Read the Turkish ministry's statement about the protest: \"... due to the aggressive and unproffessional [sic] actions taken, contrary to diplomatic rules and practices, by US security personnel towards the close protection team...\" Turkey probably was protesting the United States not giving President Erdogan's men a license to kill.

The second \"Turkish circus\" in Washington in a span of about a year must have demonstrated to the free world the kind of oppression that any kind of dissent may earn protesters in Turkey. There is one difference, though. The peaceful protesters in Washington, mostly Kurds, were merely beaten up by Erdogan's bodyguards. Similar protests in Turkey usually end up with brutal police beatings -- followed by arrest and prosecution, often on charges of \"terrorism\".

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Pakistan has pardoned and released a young female medical student who admitted she has joined the Islamic State and attempted to launch a suicide attack targeting Christians on Easter.

Noreen Leghari, a would-be Islamic State female suicide bomber, is seen in a video confession shown during a news conference by Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, director general of Inter Services Public Relations
 

In a statement on Samaa TV, Major General Asif Ghafoor explained that Noreen Laghari was pardoned because she was not a terrorist. Rather, Ghafoor said she was just about to become an ISIS bomber and was saved before she was brainwashed, the British Pakistani Christian Association relays.

\"So should we treat Noreen like a terrorist or release her so that she can tell others how she was trapped and used for terrorism?\" Ghafoor said in his public statement. \"In this way, awareness will be created among the younger generation and parents as well as institutions.\"

Last month, Ghafoor played a video during a press briefing in which Laghari confessed that she was about to be used by ISIS as a suicide bomber targeting a church on Easter. She also clearly indicated that she left her house and went to Lahore of her own free will, Samaa TV reports.

Laghari, a 20-year-old second year student at the Liaquat University of Medical Science, went missing on Feb. 10 and later confessed that she had joined ISIS in Syria. She was arrested on April 16 when security forces launched a crackdown in Lahore.

After Laghari's arrest, many Muslims called for mercy, saying the would-be ISIS terrorist should be forgiven because her young age made her vulnerable to being brainwashed. They also said a custodial sentence would destroy her future in the medical field.

In response to the pardon given to Laghari, BPCA chairman Wilson Chowdhry released a statement presenting the irony of her intelligence in the medical field and her immature image that her supporters are trying to project. He said her hate for Christians would have led to the death of a lot of people, and yet many still want the government to show her mercy.

\"How many of these same Pakistani citizens would be so forgiving had Miss Legahri planned to bomb a Muslim School?\" said Chowdhry in his statement. \"If it were Muslims that were targeted by Legahri I am certain many of the campaigners would find her crime too offensive for granting a pardon - Christian lives are ostensibly less valuable in Pakistan.\"

For Chowdhry, Laghari's pardon conveys the message that the elite in Pakistan are guaranteed to be above the law. He ended by asking if Pakistani Christians would entrust their well-being to a doctor who previously attempted a church bombing on Easter.


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While invited third world terrorists — brought in to pay for the social welfare benefits that European socialist states require, in theory — continue their rampage of car attacks, suicide bombs and violent sexual assaults across Europe, Japan is enjoy the benefits of being a homogeneous society:

Japan’s cluttered streets are not always pretty but they are remarkably safe. Crime rates have been falling for 13 years. The murder rate of 0.3 per 100,000 people is among the lowest in the world; in America it is almost 4 (see chart). A single gun slaying was recorded for the whole of 2015. Even yakuza gangsters, once a potent criminal force, have been weakened by tougher laws and old age.

…Rates of recidivism are low and a great deal of effort is made to keep young offenders out of the prison system; police work with parents to keep young people on the straight and narrow. Adults are incarcerated at a far lower rate than in most rich countries: 45 per 100,000, compared with 146 in Britain and 666 in the United States.

…Japan is almost crime-free not thanks to the police, says Yoshihiro Yasuda, a campaigning lawyer, but because people police themselves.

The Western press likes to talk up demographic decline in Japan, but never mentions the benefits of having a single culture genetically hard-coded into the population. Leftists fear nationalism because it establishes standards for behavior and social order, both of which impede the greedy anarchic individualism that the Leftist desires and forms into collectives to enforce.

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A few days ago in Pakistan, a Christian pastor who has been \"tortured every day in prison\" since 2012 when he was first incarcerated, was sentenced to life in prison. Zafar Bhatti, 51, is accused of sending \"blasphemous\" text messages from his mobile phone; but human rights activists contend that the charge \"was fabricated to remove him from his role as a Pastor.\" His wife, Nawab Bibi, says:

Many Muslim people hated how quickly his church was growing; they have taken this action to undermine his work. Yet despite their actions the church grows. I wish our persecutors would see that Christians are not evil creatures. We are human beings created by God the same God that created them although they do not know this yet.

She adds, \"There have been numerous attempts to kill my husband — he is bullied everyday and he is not safe from inmates and prison staff alike.\" In 2014, he \"narrowly escaped assassination after a rogue prison officer,\" Muhammad Yousaf, went on a shooting spree \"to kill all inmates accused of blasphemy against Islam.\"

Bhatti is one of countless Christian minorities to suffer under Pakistan's blasphemy law, which has helped make that country the fourth-worst nation in the world in which to be Christian.

Asia Bibi, a Christian wife and mother, has been on death row since 2010 on the accusation that she insulted the Islamic prophet Muhammad. According to Section 295-C of Pakistan's penal code:

Whoever by words, either spoken or written or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.

Because the word of a Christian \"infidel\" is not valid against the word of a Muslim, accusations of blasphemy, often with little or no evidence, routinely lead to the beating, imprisonment or killing of Christians and other minorities every month in Pakistan.[1] An Amnesty International report from 1994 summarizes the situation:

Several dozen people have been charged with blasphemy in Pakistan over the last few years; in all the cases known to Amnesty International, the charges of blasphemy appear to have been arbitrarily brought, founded solely on the individuals' minority religious beliefs... The available evidence in all these cases suggests that charges were brought as a measure to intimidate and punish members of minority religious communities... hostility towards religious minority groups appeared in many cases to be compounded by personal enmity, professional or economic rivalry or a desire to gain political advantage. As a consequence, Amnesty International has concluded that most of the individuals now facing charges of blasphemy, or convicted on such charges, are prisoners of conscience, detained solely for their real or imputed religious beliefs in violation of their right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

Other Christians accused of blasphemy never get the chance for even a mock trial and are dealt \"justice\" at the hands of angry mobs -- such as the young Christian couple burned alive on a spurious accusation of blasphemy in November 2014. A report from 2012 found that \"Since 1990 alone, fifty-two people have been extra-judicially murdered on charges of blasphemy\" in Pakistan.

Last month, three burqa-wearing sisters shot and killed a man accused of committing blasphemy in 2004. \"[W]e couldn't kill him at the time because we were too young then,\" they explained.

Also last month, a 23-year-old college student \"was killed and another seriously injured by a vigilante mob for allegedly 'publishing blasphemous content online.'\" The incident occurred on campus; the mob was yelling \"Allahu Akbar\" throughout.

Although Islam's blasphemy law is most associated with Pakistan, several other Muslim nations use it to persecute Christians and other minorities. Days ago, around the same time Bhatti was being sentenced to life in Pakistan, in Indonesia, Ahok, the Christian governor of Jakarta, was sentenced to two years in prison on the charge of insulting Islam and desecrating the Koran.[2] Similarly, on March 30, a report appeared saying, \"Iran sentences a 21-year-old man to death for 'insulting Islam' ... after confessing when police promised he would be pardoned if he came clean.\"

Members of various Islamist groups celebrate in Jakarta, Indonesia on May 9 after Ahok, the Christian governor of Jakarta, was convicted of committing blasphemy. 
 

Earlier this year in Algeria, Samir Chamek, a 34-year-old Christian man, was sentenced to a year in prison after a court found him \"guilty of insulting Islam and its prophet over items he posted on his Facebook page.\" They were described as \"accusing the prophet Muhammad of terrorism and murder and comparing the prophet to Hitler, mentioning the persecution and massacre of the Jews.\" Also in Algeria, last August, a Muslim convert to Christianity was sentenced to the maximum five years in prison for saying that the light of Jesus will outshine Islam and its prophet Muhammad on social media, which the court ruled as \"blasphemous.\"

In October, in Ethiopia, four Christian girls -- aged 18, 15, 14, and 14 -- handed out a booklet entitled, \"Let's speak the truth in love.\" Because it challenged Islamic accusations against Christianity, local Muslims deemed the book blasphemous and rioted. They attacked a church and assaulted Christians. The girls were arrested and, after a brief court hearing on November 15, sentenced to a month in prison.

As in Pakistan, Muslims mobs and \"vigilantes\" often take \"the law\" into their own hands. In March, in India, a Muslim-turned-atheist \"was hacked to death by a four-member gang\" of Muslims. Last September, a Christian writer and activist was murdered outside of a courthouse in Jordan. The 56-year-old man was earlier arrested for sharing a \"blasphemous\" cartoon about the Islamic prophet Muhammad. As he was walking into court to stand trial for \"contempt of religion\" and \"inciting sectarian strife,\" a man dressed in traditional Muslim garb shot him to death.

Last August, in Nigeria, after two university students got into an argument, the Muslim student accused the Christian student of insulting Muhammad. Soon a mob of Muslims assembled and said the Christian must die. Then they savagely beat and nearly killed him. The following day, mobs of Muslims rioted and vandalized Christian campuses and churches.

Such nonstop accusations, incarcerations, murders, torture and death penalties meted out to non-Muslims on the mere accusation of \"blasphemy\" -- at the hands of mobs, vigilantes, and court judges -- call into question any claims of tolerance, modernity or pluralism in many Muslim-majority nations.

[1] At least one but often more blasphemy-related cases appear practically every month in Pakistan and are documented in the monthly \"Muslim Persecution of Christians\" reports. The following are incidents that occurred in the last report, January 2017:

[2] The blasphemy controversy erupted when a video appeared online of Ahok saying that many Muslims misunderstand Koran 5:51 -- which commands Muslims not to befriend Jews and Christians. That a Christian would dare try to distort the Koran's call for hostility against Christians and Jews in order to boost his chances at reelection was deemed blasphemous enough to prompt mass riots and calls for his death in Indonesia.

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In the two decades since the fall of Indonesian President Suharto's 32-year reign in 1998, the use of the accusation of \"treason\" as a governmental tool to quash political opposition gradually reemerged in the world's largest Muslim-majority country.

Today, however, those trying to overthrow the leadership are Islamists intent on unraveling the fabric of a pluralistic society.

This situation has led to the debate over freedom of speech and the separation of church and state -- or, here, mosque and state.

Four recent rallies in the capital city of Jakarta illustrate the nature of what has become a full-blown controversy. In each case, protesters gathered outside mosques after Friday prayers for what they claim are \"spontaneous\" demonstrations made necessary by their clerics' lack of financial resources to plan and stage such events. But evidence collected by Indonesian authorities indicates otherwise.

The first such protest took place on October 14, 2016. Its purpose was to demand that criminal proceedings be launched against Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama -- familiarly known as Ahok -- for \"blasphemy.\"

Ahok, a Christian of Chinese descent, was appointed to his position in 2014, when Joko Widodo became president of Indonesia. Hardline Muslim groups argued that a Christian should not be allowed to govern a Muslim-majority city. To back up their claim, they cited the Quran.

Their fury grew even greater when Ahok was running for reelection: he asked fishermen in Pulau Seribu not to be \"deceived\" by politicians using the Quranic verse, al-Maidah 51 (\"...do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies\"), to dissuade them from supporting him.

Although Ahok subsequently apologized for his statement, he was put on trial for blasphemy. Thousands of Islamists, shouting \"Burn Ahok!\" and \"We want a Muslim governor!\", marched from the Istiqlal Mosque through the city. This ostensible eruption of emotions, according to deputy head of the Islamic Defenders Front (Front Pembela Islam, or FPI), had nothing to do with the upcoming gubernatorial election. It was, he said, religiously motivated. However, the presence at the rally of former House Speaker Amin Rais indicated that politics played just as big a role as faith.

The second rally took place less than three weeks later, on November 4. According to the head of the FPI, some 7.5 million Muslims turned out that day. At the end of it, one protester had died of an asthma attack and two police trucks had been set on fire by an angry mob.

Hours before the third rally, on December 2, police arrested 11 people on suspicion of treason for trying to overthrow the government. Among these were: the daughter of former President Suharto; prominent economist and activist Sri Bintang Pamungkas and two brothers, Jamran and Rizal Khobar, both members of the Islamic Students Association, a group responsible for an attack on security officials during the previous rally.

In addition to the allegation of treason, Pamungkas was detained over social media posts, particularly a YouTube video from the previous month. Rizal and Jamran were accused of violating Indonesia's 2008 Electronic Information and Transactions Law.

Ahead of the fourth rally in question, on March 31, a second batch of arrests was carried out by police. Among those detained was Muhammad Al Khaththath, a leader of the hardline Islamic People's Forum.

Indonesian Islamists listen to a speech by an imam during a protest against Jakarta governor Ahok, on March 31, 2017 in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Although the case can be made, as it is in the West, for distinguishing between treason and the right to criticize one's government, the issue in Indonesia is currently more complex, due to the extremist religious agenda of the opposition. Rather than looking to their religious leaders to determine matters of faith, many are using Islam as a political weapon, and breaking laws that were written to protect the very minorities who are now being treated as second-class citizens.

On April 19, the campaign of Jakarta's radicals, chanting \"We want a Muslim governor!\" paid off, as Ahok was defeated in the gubernatorial election. On May 10, Indonesia's radicals scored a second victory, when Ahok was found guilty of blaspheming Islam and sentenced to two years in prison, effective immediately.

The verdict, which came as a surprise even to the prosecutors of the case, who had requested only a suspended sentence for the offense of \"inciting hatred,\" was handed down by a five-judge panel of the North Jakarta District Court.

One of the judges, Abdul Rosvad, explained the decision by saying, \"...[A]s a public officer, the defendant should have known that religion is a sensitive issue so he should have avoided talking about [it].\" Rosvad also denied allegations that Ahok's arrest, trial and imprisonment were politically motivated.

\"This is a pure criminal case,\" he said.

However, the popular Christian governor was defeated by rival Anies Baswedan, a Muslim, and exit polls on election day indicated that religion was the main factor behind the voting.

Dr. Melissa Crouch, of Australia's University of New South Wales, told the Sydney Morning Herald that the verdict should not have come as a surprise.

\"To be accused of blasphemy in Indonesia is effectively to be found guilty,\" she said. \"This gives a lot of power to those - such as religious leaders - who may make the initial complaint to police regarding blasphemy charges.\"

Ahok's lawyers say they will be appealing the verdict.

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Just a few hours after the commemoration of the 102nd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide on April 24, 2017, Turkish warplanes dropped bombs on the Yazidi homeland of Sinjar (Shingal) on April 25, at around 2 AM local time, according to reports from the region.

The strikes reportedly killed at least 70 people in the area, with one bomb hitting a Kurdish peshmerga post in Sinjar, killing at least five and severely wounding several more.

Yazidis say they have been subjected to 72 genocidal massacres. The latest genocide, committed by ISIS, is the 73rd and is still going on. Tens of thousands of Yazidis have been displaced and are refugees in several countries. Hundreds of Yazidi girls and women are still bought, sold and raped by ISIS terrorists - the same men who murdered their husbands and fathers.

While Yazidis are still suffering from these atrocities, Turkey, evidently still no friend of non-Muslims, has attacked them yet again.

On August 3, 2014, Islamic State terrorists invaded Sinjar, the homeland of the Yazidis in Iraq, and started slaughtering the Yazidis; many survivors fled up Mount Sinjar.

In his speech to the U.S. Congress, Mirza Ismail, founder and chairman of the Yezidi Human Rights Organization-International, described the genocide in Sinjar and pled for help:

The entire Yezidi population was displaced in less than one day on August 3, 2014! The Yezidis and Chaldo-Assyrian Christians face this genocide together. Why? Because we are not Muslims, and because our path is the path of peace. For this, we are being burned alive. For living as men and women of peace.

The Yazidis, a Kurdish-speaking, non-Muslim minority indigenous to northern Mesopotamia, oppose violence. Their faith combines aspects of ancient Mesopotamian religions, including Zoroastrianism.

Fox News reported on the attack:

The Yazidis of Mountain Shingal are terrified. They feel threatened and unsafe. They thought ISIS days were almost done and they can return to their villages and towns, but now they face a bigger problem,\" Yakhi Hamza, country director of the 1st New Allied Expeditionary Force, a humanitarian nonprofit delivering medical help to the most vulnerable Yazidis.

The strikes hit the only civilian clinic on the Mountain Shingal,\" Hamza said. \"The clinic was run by a volunteer, Dr. Khansa, who was selflessly serving displaced Yazidi community on the mountain from Day One.

Before being bombed the clinic... was a makeshift room with six beds and a handful of medications run by a 36-year-old woman the locals lovingly call \"Hero Doctor Khansa.\"

In the face of ISIS attacks, Yazidis formed defense forces.[1]

Turkish officials apparently consider these groups \"terrorists.\" The general staff of the Turkish armed forces issued a statement concerning the airstrikes, saying \"operations will continue until the terrorists have completely been eliminated.\"

In 1915, up to 1.5 million Armenians were expelled from their native lands in Ottoman Turkey. Not only Armenians were targeted. Between 1914 and 1923, Assyrian and Greek Christians were also massacred, according to a report by the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS). The report described the situation as \"a state-organized and state-sponsored campaign of destruction and genocide, aiming at wiping out from the emerging Turkish Republic its native Christian populations.\"

During the Armenian genocide, Yazidis, as well as Christians, were targeted. \"To this day,\" writes professor Israel Charney in the report, \"the Turkish government ostensibly denies having committed this genocide.\" Actually, Turkey not only denies the genocide, but also honors the perpetrators.

Talaat Pasha, Enver Pasha and Djemal Pasha, known as \"the three Pashas,\" were the senior officials who ruled the Ottoman Empire during World War I. They were also the masterminds behind the Armenian Genocide. Their names, as well as the names of other officials who were responsible for the genocide, are still bestowed on many schools, neighborhoods and streets across Turkey.

In 1915, up to 1.5 million Armenians were expelled from their native lands in Ottoman Turkey. Not only Armenians were targeted. Between 1914 and 1923, Assyrian and Greek Christians were also massacred, according to a report by the International Association of Genocide Scholars. Pictured above: Armenian civilians, escorted by Ottoman soldiers, marched through Harput to a prison in nearby Mezireh (present-day Elazig), April 1915.
 

On April 24, the Committee Against Racism and Discrimination of the Istanbul Branch of the Human Rights Association (IHD) held a commemoration of the 102nd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in front of the Turkish-Islamic Arts Museum, a former prison where Armenian intellectuals were held prior to deportation.

Its statement read, in part:

Denying the genocide is not only saying 'we didn't do it.' It's much, much worse. It is inflicting the genocide to the grandchildren of its victims every day, again and again with countless tiny little details of daily life. It is declaring murderers as heroes. It is honoring the genocide's perpetrators... [and] saying to the grandchildren of genocide victims, 'Murderers of your grandfathers and grandmothers are our heroes; they did it well, God bless them. If necessary, we would do it again.'

According to Professor Gregory H. Stanton, president of Genocide Watch:

Studies by genocide scholars prove that the single best predictor of future genocide is denial of a past genocide coupled with impunity for its perpetrators. Genocide Deniers are three times more likely to commit genocide again than other governments.

Meanwhile, in a recent speech, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan referred to Turkey's military operations in Iraq and Syria:

It has now been revealed who acts in obedience to foreign forces and who acts in obedience to Allah.... We are determined to root out traitor gangs completely while we will also never forget that the Muslims cannot be bitten on the same wound over and over again.

Turkey did not bomb Sinjar when ISIS attacked and invaded the region in 2014. Turkey also did not run to the rescue of Iraqi and Syrian Kurds when ISIS targeted them. Turkey, however, did bomb Sinjar after the region was liberated from ISIS, at a time when thousands of Yazidi civilians are still seeking shelter there.

Many Yazidi survivors of genocide still wish to return to their homeland. They request only infrastructure and international protection, after their homeland was largely destroyed by ISIS.

Matthew Karanian, the author of the 2015 book Historic Armenia After 100 Years, explained in his recent speech at Pasadena City College why Armenians are still fighting for recognition of their genocide. 

\"The alternative,\" he said, \"is a world in which crimes against humanity are committed with impunity, leaving the victims - and the world - forever at risk.\"

[1] The Sinjar Resistance Units (YBŞ), its all-women offshoot, the Ezidxan Women's Units (YJÊ), and the Protection Force of Sinjar (HPŞ) founded the all-Yazidi joint commando umbrella structure \"Sinjar Alliance,\" and took part in the November 2015 Sinjar offensive against ISIS.

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Just how strict and brutal it is to enforce Islamic law, sharia, has now been revealed by Amnesty International.

Amnesty's study, which details the number of reported executions around the world, clearly maps out the most at-risk populations. Lands ruled predominantly by sharia are apparently the most vulnerable to multitudes of executions without fair trials. At the top of the list, with the most executions, are those nations that enforce Islamic sharia law. Despite many human rights violations, these nations, apparently undeterred, continue to execute their citizens.

Sharia makes those in authority infallible and untouchable. Therefore, whatever the government or those in power deem to be \"just\" can be carried out without question or consequence. Under sharia law and the Islamic penal code, executions can be carried out in sickening forms. Those convicted may be beheaded, hanged, stoned, or shot to death.

As disturbing as the numbers in the report may be, they do not represent the reality that the citizens in these nations across the world face every day. There is, evidently, a connection between radical Islamist governments and extremist groups. The report does not include the gruesome executions that are carried out on a regular basis by extremist Islamist groups and non-state fundamentalists, such as members of the Islamic State (ISIS) and their affiliated groups.

These executions include, as we have seen, slitting throats, burning alive, drowning alive and crucifixion.

If these acts were included in the Amnesty International report, the total number of executions committed under the authority of Islamist law would be far higher. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, for example, pointed out that the Islamic State executed 33 people in the first week of April alone.

The report also did not include the number of Westerners being shot, executed and terrorized by Islamist groups. Many of these, such as ISIS, Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), Kata'ib Hezbollah (KH), the Badr Organization, Or Kata'ib al-Imam Ali (the Imam Ali Battalions), are funded and trained by Islamist governments and oil-rich, unaccountable leaders.

Mass executions are evidently also being carried out by both extremist Islamist governments and Islamist groups. A culture of executions, often extra-judicial, as in Pakistan, seems to run rampant within the borders of these countries. Without any consequences for this horrifying disregard for human life, the numbers will only increase.

In Pakistan, Asia Bibi (pictured with two of her five children), a Christian, sits on death row for \"blasphemy.\" Asia's \"crime\" was to use the same water glass as her Muslim co-workers. \"You defiled our water,\" the Muslim women told her.
 

Both Islamist governments and Islamist groups justify their brutal acts by referring to the \"religious\" Islamist legitimacy of their murders. Members of fundamentalist Islamist governments, to legitimize these types of atrocities, also exploit the right of \"sovereignty\": they point out that they belong independent state with a fully operating and \"legal\" judiciary.

In the Amnesty International report, the Iran ranked number one, per capita, in executing people. It also accounted for 66% of all officially recorded executions in the region. Again, this amount only represents those executions that were officially registered.

It is also critical to point out that the statistics Amnesty International provides were given by the very governments that carried out the executions. This method means that those in power were the ones to calculate and decide what number should officially represent their country. The unofficial number is thought to be even higher. There is nothing to stop governments from simply keeping the true number to themselves.

Executions carried out under the strict governmental laws of sharia and Islamist judicial systems can have even more grotesque characteristics. The high number of executions included children, some convicted before the age of 18. Death sentences may frequently have lacked due process and what many would consider acceptable standards of proof. People have, it seems, often been arrested or detained on the basis of a rumor; then convicted without trial, counsel or often even the chance to mount a defense. As Amnesty International points out, \"In many countries where people were sentenced to death or executed, the proceedings did not meet international fair trial standards. In some cases, this included the extraction of 'confessions' through torture or other ill-treatment\".

Prisoners' vulnerabilities also had no bearing on their executions. Even those seriously ill were executed. Mass executions or stoning could be ordered and then carried out within a very short time, sometimes within days, giving those convicted no time to mount any form of appeal.

The laws under which these people are sentenced to death are often not only vague and open to interpretation. Charges that warrant the death penalty, for instance, include being \"corrupt on earth\", \"enemies of Allah on Earth\", or alleged \"crimes against chastity\". What exactly does \"corrupt on earth\" or \"enemies of Allah on Earth\" mean? There are no guidelines to establish guilt or innocence. Those in power are therefore able to decide who has violated what laws on what can only be a capricious basis. Islamist sheikhs, imams, or judges can subjectively interpret charges any way they like. A charge of being \"corrupt on earth\" can apply to having fun at a party or writing poetry that government decides is critical of it. A charge of being \"corrupt on earth\" can apply to someone who is homosexual, someone who is claimed to have committed adultery, or who has simply declined to accepted an unwanted advance. It can mean anyone who has done anything that the ruling leaders dislike.

These Islamist laws, moreover, also serve as a perfect tool for exploitation. A woman finding herself accused of breaking a law may be assured that if she agrees to sleep with a judge, for instance, he will interpret the law in a lenient way and protect her from the death penalty. After a woman submits to this, she can be executed nevertheless. Sometimes girls are forced into sighah -- the Shiite Islamist law of temporary marriage -- with a cleric, or a governmental official; after \"consummating\" it, they can also be put to death.

What does a charge such as \"crimes against chastity\" mean under sharia? This accusation can apply to a girl who has been raped. Instead of the law providing protection for the victim and consequences for the rapist, the victim is accused of the crime of \"adultery\", convicted without a fair trial, and swiftly executed.

When Islamist laws enter a land, it seems the number of stonings, beheadings, and executions goes up.

Leaders of these nations can use this flexibility to terrorize and control entire societies, expand their power, export their ideology, and ensure that there is no opportunity to resist. More disturbing is that those numbers are just a portion of the truth.

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A man suspected of being a radicalised Islamist shot and wounded two policemen on the French Indian Ocean island of Réunion as they tried to arrest him on Thursday, authorities announced.
\"The man refused to be arrested and fired a rifle at police,\" a local government official on the island said.
The official said that the suspect -- a man in his twenties who is believed to be a recent convert to Islam -- was now in custody.
The lives of the two officers are not in danger.
The anti-terrorist department of the Paris prosecutor's office is investigating the attack, which occurred in the Saint-Benoit arrondissement to the north east. 

The attack on Reunion comes a week after a French policeman was shot and killed and two others wounded on Paris' Champs Elysses avenue. That attack was claimed by the Islamic State group.

More than 230 people have been killed in a string of jihadist attacks on the French mainland since January 2015.

A jihadist network, the first in a French overseas territory, was smashed in Reunion in June 2015. Its leader, a 21-year-old known as \"The Egyptian\", was arrested and transferred to Paris.

Authorities in Reunion estimate there are around 100 radicalised Islamists on the island.

The local government official said Thursday's assailant was also \"suspected of being radicalised\". France's police union Unite SGP POLICE-FO said it was \"deeply shocked and angry after this new attack.\"


It \"shows that policemen are in danger throughout the national territory and not only in certain areas as judges would have us believe,\" it added.
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We failed to prevent North Korea from developing nuclear weapons. As a result, our options to stop them from developing a delivery system capable of reaching our shores are severely limited.

The hard lesson from our failure to stop North Korea before they became a nuclear power is that we MUST stop Iran from ever developing or acquiring a nuclear arsenal. A nuclear Iran would be far more dangerous to American interests than a nuclear North Korea. Iran already has missiles capable of reaching numerous American allies. They are in the process of upgrading them and making them capable of delivering a nuclear payload to our shores. Its fundamentalist religious leaders would be willing to sacrifice millions of Iranians to destroy the \"Big Satan\" (United States) or the \"Little Satan\" (Israel). The late \"moderate\" leader Hashemi Rafsanjani once told an American journalist that if Iran attacked Israel with nuclear weapons, they \"would kill as many as five million Jews,\" and that if Israel retaliated, they would kill fifteen million Iranians, which would be \"a small sacrifice from among the billion Muslims in the world.\" He concluded that \"it is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality.\" Recall that the Iranian mullahs were willing to sacrifice thousands of \"child-soldiers\" in their futile war with Iraq. There is nothing more dangerous than a \"suicide regime\" armed with nuclear weapons.

The deal signed by Iran in 2015 postpones Iran's quest for a nuclear arsenal, but it doesn't prevent it, despite Iran's unequivocal statement in the preamble to the agreement that \"Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire nuclear weapons.\" (Emphasis added). Recall that North Korea provided similar assurances to the Clinton Administration back in 1994, only to break them several years later -- with no real consequences. The Iranian mullahs apparently regard their reaffirmation as merely hortatory and not legally binding. The body of the agreement itself -- the portion Iran believes is legally binding -- does not preclude Iran from developing nuclear weapons after a certain time, variously estimated as between 10 to 15 years from the signing of the agreement. Nor does it prevent Iran from perfecting its delivery systems, including nuclear-tipped inter-continental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States.

If we are not to make the same mistake with Iran that we made with North Korea, we must do something now – before Iran secures a weapon – to deter the mullahs from becoming a nuclear power, over which we would have little or no leverage.

Congress should now enact legislation declaring that Iran's reaffirmation that it will never \"develop or acquire nuclear weapons\" is an integral part of the agreement and represents the policy of the United States. It is too late to change the words of the deal, but it is not too late for Congress to insist that Iran comply fully with all of its provisions, even those in the preamble.

In order to ensure that the entirety of the agreement is carried out, including that reaffirmation, Congress should adopt the proposal made by Thomas L. Friedman on 22 July 2015 and by myself on 5 September 2013. To quote Friedman:

Congress should pass a resolution authorizing this and future presidents to use force to prevent Iran from ever becoming a nuclear weapons state ... Iran must know now that the U.S. president is authorized to destroy – without warning or negotiation – any attempt by Tehran to build a bomb.

I put it similarly: Congress should authorize the President \"to take military action against Iran's nuclear weapon's program if it were to cross the red lines....\"

The benefits of enacting such legislation are clear: the law would underline the centrality to the deal of Iran's reaffirmation never to acquire nuclear weapons, and would provide both a deterrent against Iran violating its reaffirmation and an enforcement authorization in the event it does.

A law based on these two elements -- adopting Iran's reaffirmation as the official American policy and authorizing a preventive military strike if Iran tried to obtain nuclear weapons -- may be an alternative we can live with. But without such an alternative, the deal as currently interpreted by Iran will not prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. In all probability, it would merely postpone that catastrophe for about a decade while legitimating its occurrence. This is not an outcome we can live with, as evidenced by the crisis we are now confronting with North Korea. So let us learn from our mistake and not repeat it with Iran.

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Taiwanese Pastor Xu Rongzhang was arrested in China over Easter weekend. His crime? The pastor is accused of leading a gathering of Christians in the popular worship song “Jesus Loves You.”

Pastor Xu was detained in the city of Zhengzhou in the Henan province for the offense. He was in jail only for a few hours, but the Henan authorities refused to turn over his confiscated identification and travel documents until Monday.

According to Communist officials, singing the song is an illegal religious activity.

The international human rights organization ChinaAid brought attention to Pastor Xu’s case as an example of Christian persecution in the Communist nation. ChinaAid also reported in early April that authorities in the Chinese province of Zhejiang planned to install cameras in all of the churches in the area to monitor religious ceremonies. The churches appealed the decision, but the authorities forcibly installed the cameras and injured dozens of dissidents who peacefully resisted. Parishioners were beaten by Communist Party associates and later hospitalized.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has instituted new legal sanctions on both unregistered and state sanctioned places of worship. Freedom House released a report stating that Buddhist and Taoist monks have been forced to study a reinterpretation of their doctrines through \"patriotic reeducation\" sessions. The government arrested and jailed a Muslim farmer for praying over his field.

According to the report,

Nonviolent forms of control are more prevalent, but they are also deeply offensive to many believers, directly intruding on the internal functions of religious organizations. They include vetting religious leaders for political reliability, placing limits on the number of new monastics or priests, and manipulating religious doctrine according to party priorities. Extensive surveillance, “reeducation” campaigns, and restrictions on private worship affect the spiritual lives of millions of people. And increasingly, economic reprisals and exploitation have become a source of tension and a catalyst for protests.

The report detailed that at least 100 million people are in \"high\" or \"very high\" danger of religious persecution. President Trump has signalled that his initial meetings with Chinese President Jinping will not focus on human rights violations. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump touted his support for religious freedoms, which earned him popularity among Christian conservatives.

As the Jinping government ramps up attacks on churches, religious liberty in China stands to lose even more ground. 

"},{"views_count":258,"user":{"username":"lehmalahti","updated_at":"2017-09-24T06:22:27.811743Z","profile_picture_versions_map":null,"last_name":"Malahti","inserted_at":"2016-10-03T11:58:43.000000Z","id":13,"first_name":"Leh"},"upvote":null,"updated_at":"2017-10-22T05:26:45.819844Z","type":"post","title":"MIT expert claims latest chemical weapons attack in Syria was staged","tags":[{"updated_at":"2017-09-23T16:50:17.449344Z","slug":"geopolitics","name":"Geopolitics","inserted_at":"2016-10-10T13:10:39.000000Z","id":16},{"updated_at":"2017-09-23T16:50:17.460890Z","slug":"military","name":"Military","inserted_at":"2016-10-10T12:45:08.000000Z","id":1},{"updated_at":"2017-09-23T16:50:17.416493Z","slug":"middle-east","name":"Middle East","inserted_at":"2016-10-11T06:10:23.000000Z","id":47},{"updated_at":"2017-09-23T16:50:17.523560Z","slug":"politics","name":"Politics","inserted_at":"2016-10-10T13:09:15.000000Z","id":15},{"updated_at":"2017-09-23T18:26:21.516820Z","slug":"asia","name":"Asia","inserted_at":"2017-09-23T18:26:21.516814Z","id":221}],"state":"published","slug":"mit-expert-claims-latest-chemical-weapons-attack-in-syria-was-staged","rate_count":0,"published_at":"2017-04-18T18:15:00.451913Z","poster_width":1800,"poster_versions_map":{"width_678":{"url":"https://brutalist.press/versions/ef2cf9d8708b44f46df1a42c0fac7ba3db913ae943f9e211cf26eda01de4/width_678.jpg","path":"width_678.jpg","dimensions":[678,477]},"width_4096":{"url":"https://brutalist.press/versions/ef2cf9d8708b44f46df1a42c0fac7ba3db913ae943f9e211cf26eda01de4/width_4096.jpg","path":"width_4096.jpg","dimensions":[1800,1266]},"width_1920":{"url":"https://brutalist.press/versions/ef2cf9d8708b44f46df1a42c0fac7ba3db913ae943f9e211cf26eda01de4/width_1920.jpg","path":"width_1920.jpg","dimensions":[1536,1080]},"width_1366":{"url":"https://brutalist.press/versions/ef2cf9d8708b44f46df1a42c0fac7ba3db913ae943f9e211cf26eda01de4/width_1366.jpg","path":"width_1366.jpg","dimensions":[1092,768]},"social_share":{"url":"https://brutalist.press/versions/ef2cf9d8708b44f46df1a42c0fac7ba3db913ae943f9e211cf26eda01de4/social_share.jpg","path":"social_share.jpg","dimensions":[896,630]},"mobile_preview_2x":{"url":"https://brutalist.press/versions/ef2cf9d8708b44f46df1a42c0fac7ba3db913ae943f9e211cf26eda01de4/mobile_preview_2x.jpg","path":"mobile_preview_2x.jpg","dimensions":[160,160]},"mobile_preview":{"url":"https://brutalist.press/versions/ef2cf9d8708b44f46df1a42c0fac7ba3db913ae943f9e211cf26eda01de4/mobile_preview.jpg","path":"mobile_preview.jpg","dimensions":[80,80]},"masonry_preview_2x":{"url":"https://brutalist.press/versions/ef2cf9d8708b44f46df1a42c0fac7ba3db913ae943f9e211cf26eda01de4/masonry_preview_2x.jpg","path":"masonry_preview_2x.jpg","dimensions":[508,357]},"masonry_preview":{"url":"https://brutalist.press/versions/ef2cf9d8708b44f46df1a42c0fac7ba3db913ae943f9e211cf26eda01de4/masonry_preview.jpg","path":"masonry_preview.jpg","dimensions":[254,179]}},"poster_height":1266,"inserted_at":"2017-04-18T18:15:00.452506Z","id":2197,"description":"A leading weapons academic has claimed that the Khan Sheikhoun nerve agent attack in Syria was staged, raising questions about who was responsible.Theodore","comments_count":0,"body":"

A leading weapons academic has claimed that the Khan Sheikhoun nerve agent attack in Syria was staged, raising questions about who was responsible.

Theodore Postol, a professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), issued a series of three reports in response to the White House's finding that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad perpetrated the attack on 4 April.

He concluded that the US government's report does not provide any \"concrete\" evidence that Assad was responsible, adding it was more likely that the attack was perpetrated by players on the ground.

Postol said: \"I have reviewed the [White House's] document carefully, and I believe it can be shown, without doubt, that the document does not provide any evidence whatsoever that the US government has concrete knowledge that the government of Syria was the source of the chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria at roughly 6am to 7am on 4 April, 2017.

\"In fact, a main piece of evidence that is cited in the document point to an attack that was executed by individuals on the ground, not from an aircraft, on the morning of 4 April.

\"This conclusion is based on an assumption made by the White House when it cited the source of the sarin release and the photographs of that source. My own assessment is that the source was very likely tampered with or staged, so no serious conclusion could be made from the photographs cited by the White House.\"

The image Postol refers to is that of a crater containing a shell inside, which is said to have contained the sarin gas.

His analysis of the shell suggests that it could not have been dropped from an airplane as the damage of the casing is inconsistent from an aerial explosion. Instead, Postol said it was more likely that an explosive charge was laid upon the shell containing sarin, before being detonated.

\"The explosive acted on the pipe as a blunt crushing mallet,\" Postol said. \"It drove the pipe into the ground while at the same time creating the crater.

\"Since the pipe was filled with sarin, which is an incompressible fluid, as the pipe was flattened, the sarin acted on the walls and ends of the pipe causing a crack along the length of the pipe and also the failure of the cap on the back end.\"

The implication of Postol's analysis is that it was carried out by anti-government insurgents as Khan Sheikhoun is in militant-controlled territory of Syria.

Postol, formerly a scientific advisor at the Department of Defense (DoD), has previously outlined similar inconsistencies with US intelligence reports. Following the 2013 chemical weapons attack in eastern Ghouta, Postol again said the evidence did not suggest Assad was responsible.

A later United Nations report did not find Assad responsible also, however it did not rule him out either – as it could not apportion blame based on the evidence. Reporting by Seymour Hersh in the London Review of Books documented that US officials whitewashed findings to blame Assad when their intelligence showed that anti-Assad militants were the most likely perpetrators.

In his latest reports, Postol hit out at what he says is a \"politicisation\" of intelligence findings.

Postol said: \"No competent analyst would miss the fact that the alleged sarin canister was forcefully crushed from above, rather than exploded by a munition within it.

\"All of these highly amateurish mistakes indicate that this White House report, like the earlier Obama White House Report [from Ghouta in 2013], was not properly vetted by the intelligence community as claimed.

\"I have worked with the intelligence community in the past, and I have grave concerns about the politicisation of intelligence that seems to be occurring with more frequency in recent times – but I know that the intelligence community has highly capable analysts in it.

\"And if those analysts were properly consulted about the claims in the White House document they would have not approved the document going forward.\"

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As the world comes to grips with the newfound transparency on radical Islam’s war against non-Muslims, a shocking reminder has emerged in Bangladesh.

There is a battle raging as we speak over the entire perception of the Muslim faith between factions who live outside of the religion’s belief system. On the left and progressive side of the argument, we have American democrats and their international counterparts denying that “radical Islamic terrorism” even exists, and refusing to utter the phrase. Opposite these ignorant and oblivious obstructionists stands a wall of realists; human beings who have for years studied the tenets of the Muslim faith.

Regardless of ISIS and other radicalized Islamic terror organizations’ actions against the remainder of the world, the faith itself has been oppressive to women in unbelievable ways. The punishments for going against the will of Allah as it pertains to womanly behavior are severe. Stoning comes to mind.

Now, it seems that one distraught family is looking for answers regarding their daughter’s death, and they believe that the Islamic ideals had something to do with it.

Muslim extremists murdered a Vogue cover model in Bangladesh for not wearing Islamic clothing, the victim’s family alleged after the authorities ruled the late 21-year-old’s death a suicide.

’We primarily suspect it is a suicide case,’ Zillur Rahman, officer-in-charge of Shah Makhdum Police Station, told the Daily Star from India, referring to Raudha Athif, the young model from Maldives.

Daily Mail reports, ‘An autopsy report carried out in Bangladesh ruled her death a suicide before her burial on Saturday. But her brother has since insisted that Raudha, who was Muslim, was murdered and that her death was made to look like a suicide.’

“’There have been a series of murders in Bangladesh which have been staged to look like suicides and Islamic extremists have been suspected to be behind these atrocities,” Rayyan Athif, 18, told the Sun.

’Her style of clothing was branded as “immodest” and “un-Islamic” even though she adhered to the dress code in the college premises by wearing a veil covering her face,’ he added. ‘But she was criticized for wearing jeans and was repeatedly told she couldn’t wear it at the Muslim college – which has a lot of extremist connections and support.’

This accusation comes only days after a radical Islamic attack in St. Petersburg, Russia, after which those claiming responsibility expressed their desire to eliminate “worshipers of the Cross” from the earth, further solidifying the Muslim faith as a gateway to possible prejudice and hate.

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