The Weekly Standard Blog March 19, 2013
[CIP Note: Because of the recurrent tragic events involving Shia Muslims, this article replaces the annual Sulltan Nevruz message sent out by our organization. Sulltan Nevruz is celebrated by Iranian, Turkic, Kurdish, Balkan and related communities of Muslims as a New Year observance, and by Sufis as the birthdate of Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib, r.a. Sulltan Nevruz will fall, according to location, on differing dates from 8 to 10 Jumada Al-Awwal, 1434 Hijri, or 20 to 22 March, 2013 by the common calendar, this year.]
Who are the Hazaras and why are they marked for annihilation in Pakistan? Two frightful terror bombings, taking 185 lives and wounding hundreds more, were reported from the city of Quetta, near the border with Afghanistan, and the capital of Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, in the first two months of 2013. They were followed by a similar massacre in Karachi, Pakistan’s main port, in March. Prominent Hazara individuals have been assassinated in Karachi and Lahore. And the ordeal of the Hazaras is hardly new.
The Hazaras stand out among Muslims that are oppressed by other Muslims. Counting 4.5 to 7.5 million spread across Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, they are mostly Shia believers. They have been targeted for extermination in Afghanistan, by the Taliban, and in Pakistan, by Taliban-allied Sunni fanatics. Like spiritual Sufis, they also suffer official discrimination by the Iranian Shia regime.
In 1998, Iranian forces killed more than 630 refugees, mainly Hazaras, in the Safed Sang detention center in northeast Iran. The 2009 Afghan film Neighbor, portraying that crime, was blocked from general distribution in Afghanistan because of Iranian pressure. Nevertheless, the propaganda networks of the Tehran clerical dictatorship exploit the dreadful condition of the Hazaras in Pakistan to promote an ostensible agenda of international Shia unity.
Continue reading Terror Against Hazara Muslim Minority in Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan by Stephen Schwartz
American Thinker March 10, 2013
The funding of a significant pro-Iran lobby that funnels money to American universities was disclosed to the wider public for the first time during the U.S. Senate’s recent confirmation battle over Chuck Hagel’s successful nomination as secretary of defense. By far the largest grantor is the Alavi Foundation, now under federal investigation, which has given Harvard University $345,000 over nine years ending in 2011. Other institutions in the U.S. and Canada have also benefited from Iranian largesse.
Hagel, who represented Nebraska as a Republican U.S. Senator from 1997 to 2009, has long advocated a soft line toward the brutal theocratic regime, as exemplified by his call in 2007 for “direct, unconditional and comprehensive talks with the Government of Iran.”
He has participated in at least one Middle East Studies event organized by Tehran’s tenured apologists and subsidized by the Iranian regime. As described by Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens, Hagel addressed a March 2007 conference at Rutgers University co-sponsored by the school’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) and the shadowy group that, as pointed out by the WSJ‘s Stephens and others, helped pay for the Rutgers AIC event: the Alavi Foundation.
Continue reading The Iran Lobby Buys a Friendly Face for Despotism by Stephen Schwartz
The Weekly Standard Blog February 27, 2013
Evin Prison, Tehran, 2008 — Photograph Via Wikimedia Commons.
On Thursday, February 21, at 10 a.m. local time, Iranian members of the Gonabadi-Nimatullahi Muslim contemplative order celebrated “the day of the Sufi” by protesting outside the infamous Evin Prison in Tehran. The demonstration marked the fourth anniversary of a memorable challenge to the dictatorship of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and “supreme leader” Ali Khamenei.
The historic Green movement for Iranian reform took place in June 2009. But the approaching upheaval was anticipated on February 21, 2009, when tens of thousands of Gonabadis came together outside the Tehran parliament to demand an end to attacks on their metaphysical movement. In the legendary Iranian city of Isfahan, on February 19, 2009, riot police assaulted with batons and tear gas Sufi devotees gathered at the wrecked tomb of the 19th-century poet Nasir Ali. The day before, the tomb had been looted and demolished by local government functionaries using bulldozers. The Shia Sufi meeting house or “husseiniya” next to the mausoleum was destroyed at the same time. The Nasir Ali tomb was a protected heritage site used, since 2002, by the Sufis.
Continue reading Iranian Sufis Defy Tehran Dictatorship by Stephen Schwartz
Gatestone Institute December 10, 2012
Our brave Iranian sister Nasrin Soutoudeh.
Nasrin Soutoudeh, a human rights lawyer in theocratic Iran, announced on December 4th that she would end a hunger strike she had carried out for 49 days from her cell in Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison. Her offenses had been to act as a court defender of opposition political figures and activists, as well as for juveniles condemned to death for crimes committed when they were under age 18.
Soutoudeh, now nearly fifty, was sentenced last year to 11 years’ imprisonment, and barred from work in the field of law. On appeal, her term was reduced to six years. During her sustained act of defiance, Nasrin Soutoudeh consumed only water mixed with sugar and salts. Her weight fell to 95 pounds; her health became fragile.
She concluded her starvation protest after the Iranian dictatorship acceded to her main demand: that a travel ban be lifted from her 12-year old daughter Mehraveh. Soutoudeh also initiated the fast to dramatize the bad conditions under which she is held. Her husband, Reza Khandan, remains restricted in his movements by order of the regime.
Continue reading Iran: “The Supporting Pole of the Regime’s Tent is Bent” by Stephen Schwartz
The Weekly Standard Blog September 26, 2012
On August 24, 2012, the German daily Tagesspiegel reported a dismaying decision by the German Academic Exchange Service, or Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD). The agency decided in favor of continued cooperation between the University of Potsdam’s Institute for Religious Studies (IRS) and Iran’s University of Religions and Denominations (URD), located in Qom, the center of Shia Muslim theological studies and of indoctrination by the Tehran regime. Margret Wintermantel, president of the DAAD, declared that common projects involving the two schools should be maintained “as long as genuine academic activities are possible.”
The DAAD had been consulted about the relationship after a controversy beginning early last year. The University of Potsdam announced that 20 faculty and students from the URD had visited and agreed to produce a memorandum of understanding for a faculty exchange beginning in May 2011. The Iranian delegation also visited the Free University of Berlin and a Dominican monastery in Hamburg.
Charles E. Grözinger, the former director of the Potsdam Institute for Religious Studies and Jewish Studies, wrote to the Potsdam university authorities expressing his “great concern” about an affiliation between the German and Iranian establishments. Closer in time to the DAAD ruling, on August 9, 2012, Benjamin Weinthal, in the Jerusalem Post, detailed criticism of German-Iranian academic relations articulated by Wahied Wahdat-Hagh, a well-known German-Iranian scholar. Wahdat-Hagh, a member of a German Interior Ministry commission on anti-Semitism and fellow of the European Foundation for Democracy in Brussels, cautioned that the Iranian clerical elite seeks to use Iranian students and professors for espionage and influence operations in the West. This should surprise nobody, but has been afforded scant public scrutiny.
Continue reading Iran’s ‘Think Tank’ Outreach by Stephen Schwartz
Toronto Sun September 22, 2012
Canadians of a certain age remember well the exchange between Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and reporters in Ottawa on Oct. 13, 1970, over troop deployment during the crisis then unfolding in Quebec.
Trudeau responded to questions regarding soldiers on Canadian streets saying, “Yes, well, there are a lot of bleeding hearts around who just don’t like to see people with helmets and guns.”
I was reminded of this encounter between Trudeau and journalists Tim Ralfe from the CBC and Peter Reilly of CJOH-TV, when a similar cackle of noise from lots of bleeding hearts in the country rose in unison in opposition to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government’s decision to suspend diplomatic ties with Iran.
The announcement by Foreign Minister John Baird to recall Canadian diplomats from Tehran and expel Iranian officials in Ottawa, in retrospect, could not have been more timely given the spike in orchestrated Islamist violence across the Middle East and North Africa during the past week and a half.
Continue reading Canadian PM shows leadership in cutting Iran ties by Salim Mansur
Social Science Research Network August 5, 2012
Aiello: Do you see the outcome of the Egyptian elections (parliamentary and presidential) as surprising, or as predictable? Do you think that it signals long-term Islamist political leadership in Egypt, or could developments be different after future elections?
Schwartz: The election outcomes in Egypt were not surprising to those informed about the situation there; if free elections were held in 2005 we would have expected the same thing to occur. The election results in Morocco and Tunisia were a little more surprising. As far as the future, however – it is impossible to predict. But in my view, Egypt’s role in the overall direction of Muslim politics is not as important as many think. Iran, the Hijaz region of Arabia (with Mecca and Medina) and Turkey are all more influential in the long-term geopolitical destiny of the region.
Clearly, the broader process of political change itself is not predictable, as shown by the way that the “revolutions” of the “Arab Spring” shocked almost everyone. But I believe the application of the word “revolution” is wrong. These were not chapters in a regional revolution, but a breakdown caused by the global financial crisis. Revolutions in the proper sense would have occurred when the rulers were incapable of governing in the old way, people were unwilling to live or be ruled in the old way, and a new system of social relationships was emerging to replace the old one. That was not that case in the “Arab Spring.” Instead, I perceive it as a “crash” of the old system because of the impact of the global financial crisis on the Arab world. There is no new order rising, but simply an old order which has collapsed. Islamist ideology, as represented by the Muslim Brotherhood, does not represent a new social order, but a reactionary fantasy of return to a “pure” Islamic past.
Continue reading Islam in the Arab Upheaval Interview with Stephen Suleyman Schwartz by Steven Aiello