Gulf Arab monarchies are using racism, bigotry, and fake news to denounce Washington’s newest history-making politicians.
Ever since the midterm election, conservative media in the United States have targeted with special zeal Ilhan Omar,
an incoming Somali-American Democratic congresswoman and a devout Muslim who wears hijab. In response to
Democrats’ push to remove a headwear ban on the House floor to accommodate Omar, conservative commentator
and pastor E.W. Jackson complained on a radio show that Muslims were transforming Congress into an “Islamic republic.”
The Democratic Party has several rising political stars with Arab or Muslim backgrounds, all of whom have become
objects of such conspiracy theories. But it’s not only American conservatives who have been indulging in this culture war.
The organized attacks have also been coming from abroad—specifically, from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The midterm elections have amplified an existing suspicion in Middle Eastern media of Muslim political activism in the United States.
Academics, media outlets, and commentators close to Persian Gulf governments have repeatedly accused Omar, Rashida Tlaib
(another newly elected Muslim congresswoman), and Abdul El-Sayed (who made a failed bid to become governor of Michigan)
of being secret members of the Muslim Brotherhood who are hostile to the governments of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. On Sunday,
Saudi-owned Al Arabiya published a feature insinuating that Omar and Tlaib were part of an alliance between the Democratic Party
and Islamist groups to control Congress. The article accused the two of being “anti-Trump and his political team and options,
especially his foreign policy starting from the sanctions on Iran to the isolation of the Muslim Brotherhood and all movements of
In another example, a talk show on Saudi-owned station MBC discussed the Muslim congresswomen and more broadly the
implications of Democrats taking the House. Prominent Arab anchor Amr Adib debated the matter with Egyptian political
scientist Moataz Fattah, who suggested that Trump’s successful combating of Islamists would be undermined by the Democrats’
victory. The attacks have become so ubiquitous in the Persian Gulf that the trend itself is the subject of debate, both online and
Occasionally these attacks have been made by officials of those governments, in apparent anxiety that their countries’ expensive
public relations and lobbying efforts might be undermined. Just hours after Omar won her election, for example, a staffer at the
Saudi Embassy in the United States accused her of following the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, which he said has permeated
the Democratic Party. “She will be hostile to the Gulf and a supporter of the political Islam represented in the Brotherhood in the
Middle East,” tweeted Faisal al-Shammeri, a cultural advisor at the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission to the United States, which is
part of the embassy, and a writer for Al Arabiya.
El-Sayed, an American born to Egyptian immigrants, noticed the attacks from the region during his campaign. Media in the Middle
East amplified accusations by a Republican candidate for governor, Patrick Colbeck, that El-Sayed had links to the Brotherhood.
Egyptian newspaper Youm7, for instance, reported that El-Sayed likely lost the election to his link to the “radical” Nation of Islam,
and his relationship with Muslim-American activist Linda Sarsour, “known for her radical views.”
El-Sayed told me that political elites in places like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE felt threatened by American politicians who
are also Muslim. For average Middle Easterners, his story is inspiring. (The clearest instance of Middle Easterners drawing such
inspiration, ironically, was the first presidential election victory of Barack Obama, who faced false accusations of being a Muslim.)
The rise of politicians like El-Sayed, Omar, and Tlaib also undermines a core argument advanced by dictators in the Middle East:
that their people are not ready for democracy. “People would not have access to power in their countries but they would if they leave;
this destroys the argument by Sisi or bin Salman,” El-Sayed said, referring to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and
Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. “What’s ironic is there is no way I would aspire to be in leadership in Egypt,
the place of my fathers.”
American allies in the region also fear that the Democratic Party’s new Arab leaders will advocate for political change in their
countries. Having spent millions of dollars for public relations campaigns in Western capitals, the Persian Gulf countries feel
threatened by any policymakers with an independent interest in and knowledge of the region. They have thus framed these officials’
principled objections to regional violations of human rights and democratic norms as matters of personal bias. One commentator,
who is known to echo government talking points and is frequently retweeted by government officials, recently spread the rumor that
Omar is a descendent of a “Houthi Yemeni” to undermine her attacks on the Saudi-led war on Yemen.
The most common attack online by the Saudi-led bloc on the Muslim-American Democrats has been to label them as members of the
Muslim Brotherhood, or more generally as ikhwanji, an extremist catch-all term. These attacks started long before this year’s
elections. In 2014, the UAE even announced a terror list that included the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
for its alleged links to the Muslim Brotherhood.
The attacks attempting to tie Omar and Tlaib to the Muslim Brotherhood started in earnest after CAIR publicly welcomed their
election to Congress. One UAE-based academic, Najat al-Saeed, criticized Arabic media for celebrating the two Muslim women’s
victories at the midterms, and pointed to CAIR’s support for them as evidence of their ties to the Brotherhood.
The attacks on Omar have also indulged in racism. While Tlaib and Omar have both been the
targets of smears, it’s been easier for Gulf
Arabs to single out Omar for insults because of her African heritage. Negative stereotypes about Africans— who serve as poorly
treated migrant workers in the Gulf’s oil economy— are widespread throughout the region.
This was evident in the social media campaign launched last month against Omar by Ahmad al-Farraj, a Saudi writer and researcher
with UAE-based Trends Research and Advisory—a firm founded by a former Dubai police official and consultant. He attacked Omar
for criticizing Trump’s muted response to the CIA assessment that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman likely directed the
murder of former U.S.-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul. “These miserable beings
coming from the underdeveloped worlds are more hateful to their race and to you than any enemy,” Al Farraj tweeted to his more
than 60,000 followers. A steady stream of racist attacks followed in response. One person tweeted a picture of Omar accompanied by
the caption “whenever you buy a slave, buy a stick along with the slave. The slave is miserable filth.”
Other than the flurry of racist comments, Omar was trolled based on two false accusations: that she was a member of the Muslim
Brotherhood and that she had married her brother. Hashtags also began trending with dozens of anonymous accounts tweeting
slightly different variations of the same language, and echoing known government-affiliated accounts. The pattern is typical of
Twitter troll armies that seem to be used regularly by Mohammed bin Salman to silence the kingdom’s critics.
It should be little surprise that America’s authoritarian allies have responded with panic and fear to voices like Tlaib and Omar.
These regimes have always benefited from the false choice they present to policymakers in the West—in Muslim countries, they say,
extremists are the only alternative to dictators. That argument is eloquently undermined by American politicians who share those
regimes’ religion, but not their cynicism about democracy.
New research finds ‘Allah’ woven into burial clothes Tom Herbert for Metro.co.ukThursday 12 Oct 2017 4:03 pm Share this article with Facebook Share this article with Twitter Share this article with Google Plus Share this article through email 3.8k The Arabic characters appear on woven bands of silk in burial costumes found in Viking Age boatgraves
(Picture: Annika Larsson) Fascinating new research has suggested Vikings could have been Muslim after archaeologists found the word ‘Allah’ woven into their burial clothes. An investigation into funeral clothes which dates back to the ninth and 10th centuries have shed some new light on the relationship between the two worlds. Deadliest bomb in Somalian history kills at least 231 in Mogadishu Experts found that patterns woven into garments excavated in Sweden spell the words ‘Allah’ and ‘Ali’, with the discovery raising questions about the influence of Islam on Scandinavia. Textile archaeologist Annika Larsson of Uppsala University told the BBC the material came from central Asia, Persia and China. She said tiny geometric designs on the clothes were not Scandinavian patterns at all but instead ancient Arabic Kufic script. The word ‘Allah’ is depicted on the material (Picture: Annika Larsson) She said: ‘The possibility that some of those in the graves were Muslim cannot be completely ruled out. ‘We know from other Viking tomb excavations that some of the people buried in them originated from places like Persia, where Islam was very dominant. New Austrian leader ‘will be Europe’s youngest head of government’ ‘However, it is more likely these findings show that Viking age burial customs were influenced by Islamic ideas such as eternal life in paradise after death.’ It is the first time items mentioning Ali have been found in Scandinavia, and a team are now hoping to establish where the bodies came from. Larsson is convinced more Islamic inscriptions can be found in other Viking era discoveries. Amir De Martino, programme leader of Islamic studies at the Islamic College in London, suggests the patterns are not from either mainstream Shia culture or any fringe movements but instead a wrongly copied pattern.
Read more: http://metro.co.uk/2017/10/12/were-vikings-muslim-new-research-finds-allah-woven-into-burial-clothes-6995713/?ito=cbshare
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An international team, led by a scientist from the University of Sussex, have today unveiled the first practical blueprint for how to build a quantum computer, the most powerful computer on Earth.
This huge leap forward towards creating a universal quantum computer is published today (1 February 2017) in the influential journal Science Advances (1). It has long been known that such a computer would revolutionise industry, science and commerce on a similar scale as the invention of ordinary computers. But this new work features the actual industrial blueprint to construct such a large-scale machine, more powerful in solving certain problems than any computer ever constructed before.
Once built, the computer’s capabilities mean it would have the potential to answer many questions in science; create new, lifesaving medicines; solve the most mind-boggling scientific problems; unravel the yet unknown mysteries of the furthest reaches of deepest space; and solve some problems that an ordinary computer would take billions of years to compute.
The work features a new invention permitting actual quantum bits to be transmitted between individual quantum computing modules in order to obtain a fully modular large-scale machine capable of reaching nearly arbitrary large computational processing powers.
Previously, scientists had proposed using fibre optic connections to connect individual computer modules. The new invention introduces connections created by electric fields that allow charged atoms (ions) to be transported from one module to another. This new approach allows 100,000 times faster connection speeds between individual quantum computing modules compared to current state-of-the-art fibre link technology.
The new blueprint is the work of an international team of scientists from the University of Sussex (UK), Google (USA), Aarhus University (Denmark), RIKEN (Japan) and Siegen University (Germany).
Prof Winfried Hensinger (2), head of Ion Quantum Technology Group (3) at the University of Sussex, who has been leading this research, said: “For many years, people said that it was completely impossible to construct an actual quantum computer. With our work we have not only shown that it can be done but now we are delivering a nuts and bolts construction plan to build an actual large-scale machine.”
Lead author Bjoern Lekitsch, also from the University of Sussex, explains: “It was most important to us to highlight the substantial technical challenges as well as to provide practical engineering solutions”.
As a next step, the team will construct a prototype quantum computer, based on this design, at the University.
The effort is part of the UK Government’s plan to develop quantum technologies towards industrial exploitation and makes use of a recent invention (4) by the Sussex team to replace billions of laser beams required for quantum computing operations within a large-scale quantum computer with the simple application of voltages to a microchip.
Prof Hensinger said: “The availability of a universal quantum computer may have a fundamental impact on society as a whole. Without doubt it is still challenging to build a large-scale machine, but now is the time to translate academic excellence into actual application building on the UK’s strengths in this ground-breaking technology. I am very excited to work with industry and government to make this happen.”
The computer’s possibilities for solving, explaining or developing could be endless. However, its size will be anything but small. The machine is expected to fill a large building, consisting of sophisticated vacuum apparatus featuring integrated quantum computing silicon microchips that hold individual charged atoms (ions) using electric fields.
The blueprint to develop such computers has been made public to ensure scientists throughout the world can collaborate and further develop this brilliant, ground-breaking technology as well as to encourage industrial exploitation.
Explore further: Construction of practical quantum computers radically simplified
More information: ‘Blueprint for a microwave trapped ion quantum computer’ B. Lekitsch, S. Weidt, A.G. Fowler, K. Mølmer, S.J. Devitt, Ch. Wunderlich, and W.K. Hensinger, Science Advances 3, e1601540 (2017) advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/2/e1601540
Muslim Student At DC March Is Shepard Fairey’s Poster Come To Life
WASHINGTON — Nour Obeidallah bought her American flag hijab long before she decided to attend the Women’s March on Washington. Wearing it on Saturday, with a cardboard cutout framing her in the center, she bore a striking resemblance to the “we the people” posters designed for the event by graphic artist Shepherd Fairy.
“I feel a little overwhelmed,” Obeidallah told TPM about her experience at the march. “It’s amazing that this many people came out, not just to support women’s rights and preserving Planned Parenthood but for so many varied causes.”
A New York University student considering an economics degree, Obeidallah came to D.C. on an all-expenses trip organized by the university’s Asia Pacific Institute.
“I’d never been to D.C. And I thought it would be cool having my first time here being a protest against it,” she said.
Dozens of marchers stopped to take her picture. When a man walked by carrying the Fairey poster, she gamely posed with it as several cameraphones clicked.
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(JTA) — A Muslim teen from New York City who helped police catch a man who hit an Orthodox Jewish woman on the subway was honored by community leaders.
Ahmed Khalifa, 17, stopped the Brooklyn-bound train on Dec. 28 so that the woman could get medical attention and then jumped off the train to follow the assailant.
The slap broke the woman’s glasses and caused her to lose consciousness. She was removed from the train and taken to a local hospital.
Khalifa followed the assailant and contacted the Shomrim Jewish safety patrol who got the police involved.
He waited near the bus stop until the police arrived. The police removed the assailant, identified as Rayvon Jones, 31, from the bus. Jones was charged with assault in Brooklyn Criminal Court.
State Assemblyman Dov Hikind on Thursday presented Khalifa with a donated laptop computer for college in the fall and a citation praising his actions.
Hikind noted that Khalifa is Muslim and that he helped an Orthodox Jewish woman. “In a time of such divisiveness, it’s refreshing to see a story like this resonate within our communities,” said Hikind, who is an Orthodox Jew, and was joined by community faith leaders and politicians in the ceremony.
“I’m just a guy. I think everyone should be doing this because we are all one people; I would help anyone out no matter who they are, I’m just happy people are learning that this is the right thing to do,” Khalifa said in a statement, the Brooklyn Eagle reported.