Tuesday, October 14, 2014

DIY Finger Fishtail Loom Bracelet by Erica.

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Malala yousafzai

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The Nobel Prize Committee has been under fire in Norway for being too beholden to the country's foreign policy when selecting Nobel Peace Prize winners.

After several years of controversy over its political autonomy, the Norwegian Nobel Committee took a safer route with this year's Nobel Peace Prize, splitting it between Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai and Indian children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi.

The decision makes Malala, the 17-year-old student who survived an attack by the Taliban, the youngest Peace Prize laureate ever. Malala received the award for her “heroic struggle” under the “most dangerous circumstances” in standing up to the Taliban over girls’ rights to education.
Her much older co-laureate, Mr. Satyarthi, a 60-year-old champion against child labor, will share the award for “maintaining Gandhi’s tradition” through various peaceful protests and demonstrations focusing on the exploitation of children for financial gain. It is estimated that there are now 78 million fewer child laborers globally than in 2000, bringing the current tally to 168 million.
The committee stressed the importance of giving the prize to both a Hindu and Muslim to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism.

“Let them go to school instead of letting them get swept up in extremism,” Thorbjørn Jagland, the Norwegian Nobel Committee chair, said during the announcement ceremony in Oslo. “In conflict-ridden areas in particular, the violation of children leads to the continuation of violence from generation to generation.”

The decision to honor children’s rights this year skirts the current thorny debate over the independence of the five-person committee, which is selected by Norway’s parliament.
Critics have complained that the current makeup of the committee – comprised of Norwegian political veterans like Mr. Jagland, a former Labor prime minister – hamstrings its ability to award the prize. They say that prevents the committee from tapping other Peace Prize nominees who could prove problematic for Norway’s foreign policy interests, such as Russia’s opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta or US whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Norway is still reeling from the decision in 2010 to award the Peace Prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. The Chinese retaliated by stalling bilateral trade talks with Norway and cooling diplomatic relations. A member of the ruling Progress Party has even questioned the prudence of having Jagland as committee chairman, given that he also serves as the secretary general of the Council of Europe, the EU's human rights organization. Critics say holding both positions raises conflicts of interest for Jagland.

But Jagland disagrees. “The Nobel Committee is entirely independent, has always been, and will be in the future regardless of who is on the committee and who is chairing the committee,” he told the Monitor. “As you know, this is rooted in the will of Alfred Nobel, deciding on how the committees shall be appointed and that they have rules on who is chairing the committee.”

Parliament will vote by Jan. 1 on new terms for three of the committee seats, including Jagland’s. Jagland is expected to continue to serve, following on the tradition that the committee reflects parliament's composition. The Labor party is the largest party in parliament.

But the ruling Conservative and Progress parties' coalition could choose to alter the committee's makeup in response too the controversy. Some have called for parliament to think more broadly this year and elect academics, perhaps even an international member, to avoid potential confusion over its autonomy.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Meet the Muslims who sacrificed themselves to save Jews and fight Nazis in World War II

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By Michael Wolfe September 8
Michael Wolfe is a poet and the co-founder of Unity Productions Foundation. His latest film is “Enemy of the Reich: The Noor Inayat Khan Story.” He is also author of "The Hadj: An American's Pilgrimage to Mecca."

Britain issues a stamp to commemorate Khan. (Courtesy of the Royal Mail)


Noor Inayat Khan led a very unusual life. She was born in 1914 to an Indian Sufi mystic of noble lineage and an American half-sister of Perry Baker, often credited with introducing yoga into America. As a child, she and her parents escaped the chaos of revolutionary Moscow in a carriage belonging to Tolstoy’s son. Raised in Paris in a mansion filled with her father’s students and devotees, Khan became a virtuoso of the harp and the veena, dressed in Western clothes, graduated from the Sorbonne and published a book of children’s tales — all before she was 25.

One year later, in May 1940, the Germans occupied Paris. Khan, her mother, and a younger brother and sister fled like millions of others, catching the last boat from Bordeaux to England, where she immediately joined the British war effort. In 1942, she was recruited by Churchill’s elite Special Operations Executive (SOE) to work in Paris as a wireless operator. Her clandestine efforts supported the French Underground as England prepared for the D-Day invasions. Among SOE agents, the wireless operator had the most dangerous job of all, because the occupation authorities were skilled at tracking their signals. The average survival time for a Resistance telegrapher in Paris was about six weeks.

Khan’s service continued from June 1943 until her capture and arrest by the Gestapo in October. Her amazing life and eventual murder in Germany’s Dachau prison camp in September 1944 are the focus of a PBS film I co-produced that is airing this week. In researching her story, I came across quite a number of other Muslims who bravely served the Allied cause — and sometimes made the ultimate sacrifice. History is rich with examples of their daring heroism and split-second decisions that helped defeat the Nazis.

Behic Erkin, the Turkish ambassador in Paris, provided citizenship papers and passports to thousands of Jews (many with only distant claims to Turkish connections) and arranged their evacuation by rail across Europe. One fateful day, Necdet Kent, the Turkish consul-general in Marseille, stymied the shipment of 80 Turkish Jews to Germany by forcing his way onto a train bearing them to their likely death and arranging for their return, unharmed, to France.

Abdol-Hossein Sardari used his position at the Iranian consulate in Paris to help thousands of Jews evade Nazi capture. Later dubbed the Iranian Schindler, he convinced the occupying Germans that Iranians were Aryans and that the Jews of Iran had been Iranian since the days of Cyrus the Great — and, therefore, should not be persecuted. Then he issued hundreds of Iranian passports to non-Iranian Jews and saved their lives.

Ahmed Somia, the Tunisian co-director of the French Muslim Hospital outside Paris, organized weapon caches, facilitated Resistance radio transmissions, treated wounded Resistance fighters, and helped save many downed U.S. and British pilots by hiding them in fake T.B. wards where Gestapo and French gendarmes feared to go.

Khan was posthumously decorated with the highest British and French civilian and military honors, but so were other Muslims, including standout heroes among the 2.5 million British Indian troops fighting Axis forces around the globe. In this largest volunteer army in recorded history, Muslims (roughly one-third of the force), like Hindus and Buddhists, played prominent roles. In a letter to President Roosevelt during the war, Churchill pointed out that Muslim soldiers were providing “the main army elements on which we [the British] must rely for the immediate fighting.” In 1944-45, the French Army of Africa, joined to de Gaulle’s Free French Forces, was expanded to 260,000 men, of whom 50 percent were North African, the great majority being Muslim, while another substantial group were Senegalese Muslim riflemen. These forces invaded Italy and helped liberate southern France. According to American historian Juan Cole, fighting these dark-skinned Africans in “Aryan” Europe, and losing to them, dismayed many German soldiers steeped in trumped-up theories of racial inferiority.

Eastern Europe offered more examples. In the Balkans, for instance, only 200 Jews lived in Albania before WWII. Yet by war’s end, almost 2,000 Jews lived in the country, because so many had fled Greece, Austria and other locations in Europe to take shelter there among the predominantly Muslim population, which hid and protected them.

As Cole wrote elsewhere, commemorating the 70th anniversary of D-Day: “While a few Muslims did support the Axis, out of resentment of Western colonialism and hopes that the rise of an alternative power center would aid their quest for independence, they were tiny in their numbers compared to the Muslims who not just supported the Allies… but actively fought on their behalf.”

One of the jobs of documentary film is to rescue stories that fall out of the history books. Khan’s account, and others like it, seems at odds with the history of the modern Middle East, whose combatants — whether Arab, Turkish, Iranian or Israeli — may want for their own reasons to bury stories about Muslim-Jewish collaboration. But these tales should be remembered and honored. It is my sincere hope that with the story of Noor Inayat Khan, we have done just that.