From Democracy Now!:
Kenya has begun three days of mourning for at least 67 people killed in the siege of the Westgate Mall in Nairobi. The death count could still rise if more bodies are found in the rubble of the mall’s three floors. The Somali militant group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack, calling it retaliation for Kenyan military intervention in Somalia. We’re joined by independent journalist Jeremy Scahill, who reported from both Kenya and Somalia for his recent book and film, “Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield.” Scahill says the Bush administration’s decision to back Ethiopia’s overthrow of Somalia’s Islamic Courts Union in 2006 helped fuel al-Shabab’s growth into the dominant militant group that it is today: “Al-Shabab was largely a non-player in Somalia and al-Qaeda had almost no presence there. The U.S., by backing [Somali] warlords and overthrowing the Islamic Courts Union, made the very force they claimed to be trying to fight.”
The Israeli government has ordered textbook publishers to remove any content that relates to human reproduction and contraception if it is to be viewed by students under the age of 15.
Such material “does not fit in with the educational outlook for junior high school students in the state religious system”, said a statement from the education ministry.
It had requested “targeted adjustments” to ensure that textbooks “include texts and reading materials in the spirit of the state religious education system”.
Anat Hoffman, executive director of the Israeli Religious Action Centre, which advocates progressive Judaism, described the education ministry’s move as a “slippery slope”.
“When we start filtering science for modesty reasons, that in the end will hinder our ability to teach science to Israeli children,” she said.
“Teaching children about these subjects in a factual and respectful way is not in any way an affront to religion.”
Over the past few years, the ultra-orthodox community in Israel has attempted to eliminate public depictions of women, including that of Hillary Clinton, and impose gender segregation on public transportation.
These students will grow up ignorant not only of the science, history, and literature that has already been taken out of the textbooks, but of women as well. Instead of learning about women, the reproductive system, or other worthy science, these students will grow up believing that women are something to be covered up, marginalized, and hidden from society.
The four-page letter, addressing the 16-year-old education advocate in English, was signed by the militant Adnan Rashid, a former Pakistani Air Force officer who took part in an attempt to assassinate Gen. Pervez Musharraf a decade ago and escaped from prison last year, in the biggest jailbreak in Pakistani history.
“A senior Taliban commander blamed Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot in the head by the militant group last year, for provoking the attack by “smearing” the Islamists, according to a copy of a letter he wrote to her that was published on Wednesday by Britain’s Channel 4 News.”
Protesters in Bangladesh have demanded a new blasphemy law that would the death penalty for any blogger who insults Islam.
Supporters of Hefazat-e-Islam, an Islamist group which draws support from tens of thousands of religious seminaries, converged on Dhaka’s main commercial hub to protest against what they said were blasphemous writings by atheist bloggers, shouting “God is great – hang the atheist bloggers”.
“I’ve come here to fight for Islam. We won’t allow any bloggers to blaspheme our religion and our beloved Prophet Mohammed,” said Shahidul Islam, an imam at a mosque outside Dhaka who walked 20km.
The religious group, which has the backing of country’s largest party Jamaat-e-Islami, organised the rally in support of its 13-point demand including enactment of a blasphemy law to prosecute and hang what they call atheist bloggers.
The bloggers, who deny they are atheists, have sought capital punishment for those found guilty of war crimes during the nation’s liberation war.
Muhiuddin Khan, Bangladesh home minister, said on Wednesday the government had identified 11 bloggers, including the four detainees, who had hurt the religious sentiments of the nation’s majority Muslim population.
The government has blocked about a dozen websites and blogs to stem the unrest. It has also set up a panel, which includes intelligence chiefs, to monitor blasphemy on social media.
Under the country’s cyber laws, a blogger or Internet writer can face up to ten years in jail for defaming a religion.