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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.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

China releases satellite images of possible Malaysia jet crash site

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A Chinese military organization on Wednesday discharged satellite symbolism of substantial bits of trash gliding in the South China Sea along the arranged flight way of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane with 239 ready for, organizations in Beijing reported.

The pictures were caught early Sunday, a day after Malaysia Airlines flight 370 was keep going got notification from on its route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, China's State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense said, the Associated Press cited the New China News Agency as reporting. Bloomberg and CNN additionally conveyed reports referring to the Chinese government.

The Chinese military organization portrayed the site as "a suspected accident territory," dependent upon its area along the plane's flight way and the extent of three, light-hued flotsam and jetsam pieces spotted on the water's surface, the biggest assessed to measure more than 70 feet long and width.

The Chinese office gave directions of 105.63 east longitude, 6.7 north scope, in the South China Sea between the Malaysian landmass and Vietnam.

China had sent 10 satellites to support in the quest for the plane that had taken off from the Malaysian capital at 12:41 a.m. Saturday and last reached flight controllers less than a hour later.

The news from the military office didn't make clear why Beijing neglected to report the pictures caught three days prior, despite the fact that the socialist country's hidden military may have been hesitant to instantly uncover innovative abilities to different countries included in the concentrated quest for the missing Boeing 777.

Before the satellite symbolism discharge, examiners had communicated disappointment at the disappointment to discover any indication of the plane following five days of looking a territory stretched to blanket more than 27,000 square miles.

At the most recent check, there were 12 nations included in the inquiry, with 42 boats and 39 flying machine scouring the waters and bushes of Southeast Asia.

A Chinese military organization on Wednesday discharged satellite symbolism of substantial bits of trash gliding in the South China Sea along the arranged flight way of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane with 239 ready for, organizations in Beijing reported.

The pictures were caught early Sunday, a day after Malaysia Airlines flight 370 was keep going got notification from on its route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, China's State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense said, the Associated Press cited the New China News Agency as reporting. Bloomberg and CNN additionally conveyed reports referring to the Chinese government.

The Chinese military organization portrayed the site as "a suspected accident territory," dependent upon its area along the plane's flight way and the extent of three, light-hued flotsam and jetsam pieces spotted on the water's surface, the biggest assessed to measure more than 70 feet long and width.

The Chinese office gave directions of 105.63 east longitude, 6.7 north scope, in the South China Sea between the Malaysian landmass and Vietnam.

China had sent 10 satellites to support in the quest for the plane that had taken off from the Malaysian capital at 12:41 a.m. Saturday and last reached flight controllers less than a hour later.

The news from the military office didn't make clear why Beijing neglected to report the pictures caught three days prior, despite the fact that the socialist country's hidden military may have been hesitant to instantly uncover innovative abilities to different countries included in the concentrated quest for the missing Boeing 777.

Before the satellite symbolism discharge, examiners had communicated disappointment at the disappointment to discover any indication of the plane following five days of looking a territory stretched to blanket more than 27,000 square miles.

At the most recent check, there were 12 nations included in the inquiry, with 42 boats and 39 flying machine scouring the waters and bushes of Southeast Asia.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Protesters In Ukraine Exhibits Anger Toward Moscow

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Tatyana Makeyeva / Reuters
For months, Kiev's focal Independence Square was the core of a battle between nonconformists and the Ukrainian government, with Russian powers viewing the occasions unfolds in their neighbour to the west with unease.

Over a warm Women's Day weekend, be that as it may, cartoons of President Vladimir Putin reproduced beside notices upbraiding expelled Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, as the gathers in focal Kiev have gotten engrossed with activities being taken by Russian powers.

With fighters accepted to be Russian regulating the southern Ukrainian locale of Crimea, Kiev occupants talked excitedly about relations with Russia on a weekend that, for dissenters, started with a picket of the Russian Embassy in Kiev on Friday.

"Putin is a demon" said Viktor, a mid life taxicab driver who finished not give his last name. "Anyway individuals in Moscow are tranquil, right?"

A conspicuous Russian guest to Kiev — Putin pundit and once imprisoned oil big shot Mikhail Khodorkovsky — appropriated a warm welcome, nonetheless. Khodorkovsky touched base at the Euromaidan challenge camp and kept down tears when identifying with swarms on Sunday as a major aspect of a line-up of speakers who denoted the 200th celebration of the conception of Ukrainian-dialect creator Taras Shevchenko.

Khodorkovsky's discourse centered less on verse and all the more on Russia, which he said was complicit in brutality against demonstrators in Ukraine throughout challenges that emulated Yanukovych's dismissal of a companionship concurrence with the European Union. As the swarm droned "Thank you" and "Russia remained up," Khodorkovsky said: "This is not my energy. I need you to realize that there is a totally other Russia."

The previous oligarch likewise gave an address to a pressed corridor at Kiev Polytechnic Institute on Monday, in which he over and over called for Russian-Ukrainian kinship; something that he said could be at danger given the strains in Crimea. Accompanying the discourse he took questions from people in an unruly crowd that saw one unidentified man scale to the speaker's platform and endeavour to hand Khodorkovsky a little red book before being escorted off-stage.

Tatyana Makeyeva / Reuters

Khodorkovsky urged discourse between Russian and Ukrainian speakers, saying that Ukrainian residents ought to all talk two dialects, as individuals in Switzerland do. The conciliatory consideration finished not resound with all the learners and other individuals in the swarm, which yelled out inquiries requesting more particular sentiments on Crimea's Tatar Muslim minority and Ukrainian fascists. Khodorkovsky said that fascists — whom Russian powers have referred to as representing an especially hazardous risk to steadiness in Ukraine taking after the ouster of Yanukovych — were no a larger number of crowded on Maidan than in Moscow or St. Petersburg. 


Sasha Kirichenko, 21, a daintily bushy scholar of data engineering who went to mobilizes on Maidan, said he couldn't help contradicting Khodorkovsky in regards to the effect of the far right on the challenges yet included that he is "a positive figure in the eyes of Ukrainians in light of the fact that the lion's share of Ukrainians contempt Putin."

Talia Kiraska, a 18-year-old physical science person, said in regards to Khodorkovsky: "He is not the most legitimate individual they have in Russia, however by the by everybody who is a political detainee in their nation is constantly recognized more immaculate in our nation."

Regardless of the hatred communicated at the Russian government, some in down-town Kiev depicted an inclination of solidarity between Russians and Ukrainians.

"My mother is a Russian national. My father is a subject of Finland. I see us Slavs, we are all siblings," said Alexander, low maintenance road performer who offers keepsake magnets close Maidan. He held up one magnet with a Ukrainian banner and the words "United Country" in Ukrainian and Russian.

While numerous Kiev occupants are restricted to the vicinity of genius Russian troops in Crimea, they are separated as to what's to come for an area that has seen expanding separatist strains and will hold a submission on joining Russia one week from now.

Kirichenko, the IT person, said "everything might be fine" without the southern promontory as a major aspect of Ukraine. Viktoria, a waitress in a pub beside Maidan said, "I don't comprehend individuals who live in Ukraine and say I additionally help the Russians. In the event that you need to be in Russia only go there and live there."

Alexander, the trinket transaction specialist, said he held high trusts for what's to come for Ukraine: "We are growing up. We are prepared to be a country. We don't need a war. We don't need anything like.