Separate courts in Saudi Arabia this week sentenced two men to time in prison for posting messages on Twitter, reports CNN. Both men remain unnamed.
On Sunday, one of the men was sentenced to eight years in jail for insulting Saudi king Abdullah bin Abdulaziz and inciting protests via Twitter and other social media sites.
Another man, who was already serving three years in prison, was convicted on similar charges and sentenced to an additional 10 years, according to Reuters, who quoted a release from Saudi news agency SPA.
“[He was] convicted of entering an Internet site hostile to the state that encourages fighting and promotes deviant thought,” Saudi justice ministry spokesman Fahd Al-Bakran said. "The accused had sent invitations via Twitter to participate in protests and gatherings against the Kingdom.”
The convictions and stiff penalties raise ongoing concerns over violations of human rights in the country.
Both sentences come close on the heels of new, harsh anti-terror laws, as well as the recent declaration by Saudi Arabia of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. Many fear that such a declaration coupled with the country’s new laws could be abused and will lead to efforts by the Saudi government to quash all forms of dissent. The two recent convictions and the subsequent statement from the justice ministry reinforce those fears.
Adam Coogle, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, wrote in a statement in February that the new laws create “a veneer of legality for ongoing human rights abuses by Saudi criminal justice authorities.”
"The terrorism law," he wrote, "is a vague, catch-all document that can — and probably will — be used to prosecute or jail anyone who criticizes the Saudi government and to violate their due process rights along the way."
Dwight Bashir, deputy director for policy and research with the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, agrees.
"It reinforces longstanding concerns that the Saudis will spare no expense to crush dissent and punish non-conforming views, even if the views are protected by internationally-recognized human rights," Bashir told CNN.
One of the iconic images of the Arab Spring protests was the throngs of Egyptians in Tahrir Square calling for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down. However, it’s an image that may never be repeated because of a new executive order from interim president Adly Mansour that bans public gatherings of more than 10 people unless approved by the government.
According to the Associated Press, “Rights groups and activists immediately denounced it, saying it aims to stifle opposition, allow repressive police practices, and keep security officials largely unaccountable for possible abuses.”
The controversy surrounding this law “has caused cracks in the loose coalition of secular and non-Islamist groups that rallied behind the military-backed government installed following the ouster of elected Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July.”
The law is, in fact, aimed at quelling the constant demonstrations from supporters of the former president, although these protests often turn violent unlike those of the Arab Spring. Rather than address that specific problem, the law makes it nearly impossible for the public to express criticism of the transitional government.
Ironically, the passage of this law inspired one of the most recent protests against the current government. “In a snub to the law, the youth activist group April 6 and other political groups held a rally outside a central Cairo police station Monday, calling on the government to ‘eat popcorn!’- a joke to say the government is wasting time.” They also requested government approval for a farcical protest of 10 million Egyptians.
An appointed panel of 50 is currently amending Egypt’s 2012 constitution, drafted mostly by factions tending towards the Islamic extreme. This is happening in almost total secrecy and what has been released indicates an even greater shift of power given to the president and gives the military control of the courts.
Ever since the Arab Spring in 2011, the aid the US sends to Egypt has been a point of political contention between Republicans and the White House. The recent protests have come because of the eruption of protests in Egypt following the ousting and forthcoming trial of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi by the military and the Muslim Brotherhood. Reportedly, there has been increasing violence against protesters, which has prompted the White House to respond.
The Washington Post reports that the “Obama administration will announce curbs on a significant part of nonessential military aid to Egypt within a few days,” according to US officials. Currently, the US sends $1.2 billion in military aid and it is unclear how much of that will be withheld, although apparently a shipment of Apache helicopters ordered four years ago by the Mubarak-controlled military. Although it is expected that shipments of spare parts of military equipment they already possess and training assistance will continue.
The Washington Post, CNN, and Reuters all reported the story with anonymous sources, and most acknowledge that the breaking of this story might further delay the announcement since both Egypt and Congress had yet to hear about this move. Reuter’s source was less certain, saying that the US is only “leaning toward” holding back everything but counterrorism operations and security on the Sinai Peninsula.
During protests in Egypt last December, close to a dozen people were killed in clashes outside of the Presidential palace after Morsi expanded his executive powers. The military still holds power in the country, which is alarming many because Egypt, as the region’s largest country, was hoped to be a democratic success after the elections that resulted from the Arab Spring protests.
President Obama reportedly has yet to make a final decision on the matter.
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) appeared on “The Lars Larson Show” last week and claimed that Bill and Hillary Clinton “have very close ties to people who have very close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.”
The conservative radio host asked Rep. Bachmann about “some really oddball people, Huma Abedin and her folks and their ties ... and [Hillary Clinton] is lining up to be the Democratic party president of the United States and she’s got, I think, some disturbing ties to some disturbing people” (audio below).
According to RightWingWatch.org, Rep. Bachmann claimed, “The Clintons have very close ties to people who have very close ties to people in the Muslim Brotherhood. We’re not talking about the Lutheran Brotherhood here, we’re talking about the Muslim Brotherhood, which was outlawed in Egypt because it's a violent terrorist organization.”
Rep. Bachmann tried to attack Hillary Clinton’s former aide Huma Abedin and tie her to the Muslim Brotherhood in 2012, but her ruse failed, noted Salon.com.
After a bizarre trip to Egypt, Representative Michele Bachmann appeared on Understanding The Times, a radio show which tracks the coming of the biblical apocalypse. Rep. Bachmann has appeared with host Jan Markell on the show before, last year warning that “President Obama is trying to ‘lift up the Islamists’ and impose ‘Islamic speech codes’ that would ‘take away the free speech rights of the American people.’”
Rep. Bachmann made even more outlandish and blatantly false claims on her most recent appearance on the show. She suggested that President Obama has given tacit approval to the Muslim Brotherhood in order to “revive the Ottoman Empire.” “They are committed to reestablishing a global caliphate,” she says, and then proceeds to accuse the Obama Administration’s engagement strategy of being merely a front to unite the two. She also wrongly suggested that President Obama wants deposed President Mohamed Morsi restored to power.
The Congresswoman also discussed her recent trip to Egypt, in which she and two Republican colleagues visited the country and gave an odd press conference for Egyptian television. In the beginning of the conference, Rep. Bachmann uses a tone of voice one would expect on Sesame Street rather than an international press conference in a troubled Democracy. Rep. Steve King of Iowa coaches Rep. Bachmann in the first few seconds when she seems to be unable to recall with whom they’d met that day. She also falsely ties the Muslim Brotherhood to 9/11 and endorses “the brutal repression of opposition groups,” according to Right Wing Watch.
Rep. Bachmann is currently under investigation by the House Ethics Committee to determine whether or not she misused her campaign finances, such as paying her campaign staff with PAC money. The Congresswoman has hired noted GOP “Fixer” Nancy Watkins as the committee intensifies the probe.
A local Egyptian newspaper has accused President Obama of being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and claims it has proof.
The newspaper also reports that Obama’s half-brother named Malik is part of the militant Islamist group Al Qaeda, according to the Inquisitr.
Shadi Hamid, the Director of Research at the Brookings Doha Center, posted pictures of the Egyptian paper a few days ago.
“If you missed it, ‘liberal’ Egyptian newspaper has front page headline claiming Obama as full-on member of Muslim Brotherhood international,” Hamid posted. “Newspaper also claims that son of (Muslim Brotherhood) leader threatened Obama with release of ‘papers’ revealing his MB membership,” he added.
This is not the first time Obama has been accused of being a Muslim.
Jonathan Spyer, a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center, said he thinks Egyptians sometimes associate Obama with the Muslim Brotherhood because they are frustrated with his policies and because he initially supported Mohamed Morsi, a democratically-elected former Egyptian president.
“There is some degree of justification in their accusations,” Spyer said. “There is also a large degree of paranoid anti-American and anti-western sentiment in Egypt. As a result, the anger against the Administration has rapidly and predictably turned into conspiracy theories according to which Obama’s admittedly astonishingly naive and misguided attitude toward the Muslim Brotherhood can in fact be explained by the claim that he is a secret member of it.”
Source: The Inquistr
During this morning's 700 Club, host Pat Robertson interviewed Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) reporter Raymond Ibrahim, who repeated an unfounded claim from the Egyptian press that “Obama is in bed with the Muslim Brotherhood” and "Obama and the United States government are very much cozy with the Muslim Brotherhood."
“Everyone is convinced this is a conspiracy, you can’t help but wonder, of course it is, because why is the Obama administration so adamant about helping this organization?” Ibrahim said, notes RightWingWatch.org (video below).
Robertson, who has attacked Obama numerous times, added: “It's shocking to think Obama may have made a deal with the Muslim Brotherhood and if that's the case, it is appalling, simply appalling. Ladies and gentleman, this stuff is going to come out, and we’ve got a president, you wonder about where he is coming from, but it's clear the administration ... has come down on the side of the some kind of reasonable association with the Brotherhood."
Robertson did not present any proof of his claim, nor did Robertson mention his own ties to former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor, which reportedly included a gold deal. Robertson made public statements in support of the brutal warlord in 2003, noted ABC News.
Taylor was found guilty in a world court in 2012 for acts of terrorism, murder, rape, sexual slavery and using children as part of his violent army.
An ex-Florida politician is saying that the Muslim Brotherhood has "infiltrated" President Barack Obama's administration.
Former Rep. Allen West made that claim in a statement he posted on his Facebook page.
"We do have Muslim Brotherhood affiliated groups and individuals infiltrated into this current Obama administration," West wrote. "This is serious."
He added: “In 2009 President Obama traveled to Egypt and delivered a very conciliatory speech at the University of Cairo. Not much later events termed the ‘Arab Spring’ compelled President Obama to advocate for the deposing of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Many warned of the rise of the ‘granddaddy of Islamic terrorism,’ the Muslim Brotherhood, in Egypt as the only viable and organized political entity. We were castigated as alarmists and Islamophobes. The Muslim Brotherhood even lied about running a candidate for president. We are now witnessing the result of our blindness.”
West has made claims about the Muslim Brotherhood in the past, The Huffington Post reported. In 2012, he said that "we should not allow the Muslim Brotherhood-associated groups to be influencing our national security strategy," with regard to the FBI’s decision to get rid of training materials that were deemed culturally insensitive.
A request has been made for President Barack Obama’s administration to declare the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. The request was posted as a petition on the White House website and it quickly gained the necessary signatures for the administration to consider the request.
The “We the People” petition program, which was set up by the White House late last year, states that all requests must receive some sort of response from the administration when 150 signatures are added within the first 30 days and the petition gains 100,000 signatures by the second 30 days.
Fox News reports that the goal was met in less than a month with the petition hitting more than 130,000 signatures as of Thursday. The petition, which as of Sunday morning had more than 166,000 signatures, was posted on July 7.
The petition on petitions.whitehouse.gov states, “Muslim Brotherhood has a long history of violent killings & terrorizing opponents. Also MB has direct ties with most terrorist groups like Hamas.”
It also reads, “We ask the US government to declare MB as a terrorist group for a safer future for all of us.”
The administration has remained relatively quiet about the Brotherhood’s recent methods in Egypt while Morsi was in power.
“The Muslim Brotherhood has surely inspired or spawned terrorist organizations, I don’t know that the Brotherhood itself has engaged in specific terrorist activities itself,” Lawrence Haas, a former senior White House official and current Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the American Foreign Policy Council told FoxNews.com.
Fox News host Sean Hannity aired a special “Saving America” edition of his show on Friday to analyze the Anthony Weiner scandal, but the program went off on a 2012 debunked conspiracy theory against Weiner's wife Huma Abedin.
Brooke Goldstein of the Lawfare Project said the real story was the supposed Muslim Brotherhood ties to Huma Abedin, who has security clearances because she worked at the U.S. State Department under former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton, noted Buzzfeed.com.
"What’s amazing to me is that we’re spending time debating Schmeckle-gate, okay? When Huma Abedin, who has connections to the Muslim Brotherhood, who was connected to the chief financier of al-Qaeda, is his wife and has top security clearance," claimed Goldstein (video below).
Radio host Monica Crowley added: "Actually, what Brooke points to, that’s the real Huma Abedin story. It’s not about Weiner’s wiener.”
Abedin’s supposed ties to the Muslim Brotherhood are part of a 2012 conspiracy theory pushed by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn).
Rep. Bachmann several other House Republicans sent a letter to the Departments of State and Justice claiming that Abedin was planted by the Muslim brotherhood to infiltrate the U.S. government.
However, Rep, Bachmann never proved her claims, which were debunked by fellow Republican Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).