Daesh: The Imported Malicious.

By Jerry Alatalo

earthblog2Alphabet Talks have been scheduled to begin in Geneva, Switzerland on Friday January 29 with focus on bringing about a negotiated settlement and ending close to five years of war in Syria. The Syrian people have been forced in a barbaric manner to endure unimaginable violence and destruction from terrorist groups whose composition is becoming more and more understood as paid mercenaries from some 80 outside countries, facilitated – armed, trained and paid – by regional nations Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and others, with support from Western nations including the United States and Israel.

As a result of the five-year criminal invasion of Syria, 250,000 or more people have perished, and millions of innocent Syrian men, women and children caught in the crossfire have become refugees fleeing to neighboring countries or Europe. Opinions among observers of the Syrian crisis are varied with respect to the chances for success leading to peace during imminent talks in Geneva.

Whether the talks are successful or not in bringing about a nationwide ceasefire, building a new constitution and holding elections, or if the international community comes to a solid agreement on defeating ISIS and al-Nusra, the major recognized terrorist groups in Syria – banned from the Geneva talks, those responsible for the brutal mercenary war of aggression against the Syrian people must become held accountable for their horrific and massive crimes against humanity.

In the 21st century, the level of aggregate war crimes committed against the people of Syria come in second to only the crimes of those responsible for the atrocities carried out during the Iraq War begun in 2003. Of the possible positive outcomes, the best result of upcoming talks in Geneva would be a criminal trial in the Hague identical to that held after World War II which prosecutes those responsible for the war of aggression against the people of Syria. Such an outcome offers the people of the Earth the greatest chance for realizing the practice of international law, and in the process creating the strongest deterrence possible for any powerful persons or groups considering the next war of aggression – the next humanitarian catastrophe.

World leaders must find the greatest potential moral strength, profound wisdom, spiritual courage and absolute integrity to end war in Syria and the Middle East region as rapidly as humanly possible. What has happened in Syria and to its people since the beginning of violence in early 2011 until today must become prevented from ever happening, to any nation on Earth – ever again.

(Thank you to Press TV Documentaries at YouTube)

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Last Days Of Saudi Monarchy.

By Jerry Alatalo

aaa-44Alphabet Despite international urging to stop the death penalty sentence of peace activist and religious scholar Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, the Saudi government has taken the life of the 56-year old catalyst for democratic/political change in Saudi Arabia.

Essentially, the crime Sheikh Nimr became convicted of consisted of peaceful protesting against the Saudi monarchical system and calling for democratic reforms leading to the people of Saudi Arabia experiencing self-determination.

Sheikh Nimr’s “offenses” – upon which he was tragically subjected to beheading and crucifixion, or public display of his lifeless body – were actions carried out peacefully with words, ideas and the truth. He and others in Saudi Arabia engaged in political activism in recent years carried no weapons, committed no physical harm to others, but simply practiced free speech rights recognized around the world.

Sheikh Nimr, three teenage/fellow nonviolent political activists, and 43 other Saudi Arabians suffered death in a single day. The Saudi government’s actions have resulted in condemnations from human rights groups, national governments and concerned people around the Earth.

Beyond the international shock and disbelief resulting from Saudi Arabia’s choice to carry out the death sentence of Sheikh Nimr instead of changing course, questions about Saudi motivations are going through the minds of men and women aware of the years-long ongoing situation and who’ve pressed for Sheikh Nimr’s pardon – for his survival.

Surely Saudi Arabia’s king – whose approval of the executions were necessary before they went forward – must have been aware when giving the go-ahead of the tremendous opposition, societal unrest and condemnation which would come in Saudi Arabia, the Middle East and worldwide. Why did the Saudi king put Sheikh Nimr to death? The first, most plausible explanation which comes forward is that it was a desperate attempt to maintain the Saudi royal family’s decades-old grip on power.

Another, more worrisome, possible explanation is that the Saudi royal family seeks to intensify/expand the already ongoing regional war. Growing international awareness and exposure of Saudi Arabia’s central role in generating terrorism, along with greater moral opposition to its merciless military attacks on the people of Yemen since March 2015, has negatively transformed world perceptions of the Saudis.

The killing of religious scholar and peace activist Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr will go down in history as marking the beginning of great change in the Middle East. What has yet to become experienced and seen is whether that world-transforming change comes about through violent or nonviolent means.

With its Wahhabi/takfiri interpretation of Islam, the monarchy/royal family of Saudi Arabia chooses violent means for realizing its agenda of maintaining power in the Middle East – including a brutal medieval system of justice which suppresses free speech and dissent, direct military aggression – as seen against Yemen, and large-scale financing of terrorist groups currently wreaking war and destruction in Iraq, Syria and Libya.

The nonviolent interpretation of Islam were advocated by clerics like Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr of Saudi Arabia and Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky of Nigeria. Sheikh Nimr has left this world after suffering the extreme form of silencing at the hands of the Saudi royal family. Sheikh Zakzaky of Nigeria has yet to see his remaining family, friends, legal counsel or outside medical attention since taken into custody by the Nigerian military on December 12. It is unknown whether Sheikh Zakzaky is alive or dead.

It is important to note that Nimr al-Nimr was a practitioner of peaceful protesting of perceived injustice in Saudi Arabian society, and that Ibrahim Zakzaky conducted his life in the same peace-focused manner as related to social conditions in Nigeria.

There is a clear and profound contrast between the Saudi interpretation of Islam and the interpretation embraced by clerics like Nimr al-Nimr, Ibrahim Zakzaky and their followers. The Saudi interpretation – Wahhabism – accepts the use of extreme violence. The interpretation held by followers of Nimr al-Nimr, Ibrahim Zakzaky and other scholars rejects violence, instead relying on truth as the greatest tool for improving living conditions for people – not only in Saudi Arabia and Nigeria, but of any nation on Earth.

Unfortunately many people in the West, especially in America, have little to no awareness of the just-described contrasting interpretations of Islamic thought, so there now exists an epidemic of wrong perceptions. Most – due to intentional efforts by lying politicians and the media to falsely portray Islam as aligned with terrorism – have the idea that Islam is strictly of the Saudi Wahhabist/violent kind, therefore they see all Muslims erroneously as believers in violence. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Will there be tragic reliving of events in Nigeria on December 12 – where hundreds of unarmed men, women and children became massacred, while world leaders and media (still) remain silent – occurring in the days ahead in Saudi Arabia?

By joining together as one human family, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, and adherents of all spiritual/philosophical traditions have the power to end violent practices which should have ceased to exist centuries ago. The use of violence and military force to resolve differences is an out-dated concept which humanity has yet to rightly and fully move beyond.

May this new year 2016 become forever remembered as the time when the human race finally achieved that morally necessary, long-sought, truly enlightened evolution.

(Thank you to Press TV Documentaries)

River And His Father.

by Jerry Alatalo

aaa-33“River: The Life of Robert Lovelace” is a 25-minute documentary about Professor of Global Development Studies at Queen’s University in Kingston-Ontario Canada and political activist Robert Lovelace. There’s something wonderfully understated, refreshingly undramatic and non-intense about the film, so I thought it worthy and interesting for men and women who pass this way. Mr. Lovelace was born in Missouri to a white father and Indian mother.

He went to Canada at age 21 to avoid going to fight in the Vietnam War, which he perceived as colonial military actions by the United States government against the people of Vietnam – that the war was essentially going to involve the same horrific actions as those resulting in the genocide of American Indians.

After living in Canada and joining the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation tribe, Robert Lovelace along with others successfully fought for preservation of the ancient indigenous practice of harvesting wild rice after the government turned over those rights to a private company; he went to prison for 100-days in a successful protest against uranium exploration and mining on Native lands, and was part of a group of activists who organized a flotilla of boats traveling to Gaza advocating for an independent state of Palestine.

The short film is neat in that during half of the film Robert Lovelace shares the screen with his teenage son River who decided to base a school project, about someone the student knows personally, on his father. So besides telling Mr. Lovelace’s interesting life story and journey, viewers also see a father-teaching-son example which provides profound wisdom during the final moments of the film.

Mr. Lovelace supports what he calls “re-indigenization” or adoption of a philosophical, spiritual outlook that cares for and respects all people and the Earth’s environment. After reading the Quran and finding it made sense intellectually Mr. Lovelace converted to Islam.

I was pleasantly surprised, thankful and impressed after viewing the film, thought it was (for 25-minutes) perfect, and am happy to share this excellent documentary with all who pass this way.

(Thank you to Press TV Documentaries at YouTube)

Sunday Message From Syria.

by Jerry Alatalo

aaa-32After recently listening to an interview of Grand Mufti of Syria Dr. Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun by Father Dave Smith, the Syrian leader’s words were moving, so the interview became the focus of this post.  In Islam the Grand Mufti is the highest official of religious law, so Dr. Hassoun is one of Syria’s most prominent religious leaders. Father Dave is known as the “boxing priest” for his years of entering the ring as a since-youth boxing enthusiast, surprising people by being an atypical Catholic priest who punches others for sport. Both men have been involved in working for an end to the war in Syria begun in 2011 – ongoing, and recently entering the fifth year.

The war has resulted in over 200,000 men, women and children perishing, widespread destruction of towns and cities, millions of refugees leaving Syria to surrounding countries or internally displaced, and what observers unanimously agree is the world’s largest and most difficult humanitarian disaster. The long war in Syria for this writer has been the most heart-breaking issue of all to post on in over two years in this space. While Father Dave Smith, Grand Mufti Hassoun, numerous religious/spiritual leaders from around the world, United Nations officials, peace activists and others have worked to end the war in Syria, one wonders seriously – at this point where the violence and harm has seemed to gone on longer than forever – how those men and women maintain their sanity.

In addition, especially when referring to the men and women religious leaders who’ve worked to end the war, one wonders how they hold on to their faith. Because, for the Syrian people, the war in Syria has been as brutal, gruesome and destructive – physically and psychologically – as it gets. Father Dave’s interview of the Grand Mufti was originally posted over at ingaza.wordpress.com, the blog of peace activist Eva Bartlett, who has worked with Father Dave Smith in Syria. She has spent considerable time in recent years living and traveling in Palestine and Syria reporting on events, so for those interested in first-hand, informed and accurate narratives about the region please visit her blog.

Human beings have something in common that came with each of us as we entered this world at birth, and that is the ability to have compassion or feeling sorrow and sympathy upon becoming aware of others’ hurt and suffering. However one perceives of God, pray the trials and suffering of Syrians – of all people in the Middle East – soon come to an end.

The meeting between Father Dave Smith and Syrian Grand Mufti Dr. Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun was the first between the two, and their talk centers on the Grand Mufti’s personal spiritual perceptions, not specifics of  the war in Syria. The reason for sharing the words of the Grand Mufti is the hope that somehow his perceptions can become transferred/delivered to leaders and decision-makers with the capacity to influence events on the ground in Syria, and that the message he conveys profoundly moves those leaders to take right action and hasten the end of the war.

In relation to the Syrian conflict, the most relevant statement the Grand Mufti made during the interview may have been: “Those who are killing in the name of God do not know God”.

In a sense, one could describe this post as a message in a bottle urging peace in Syria and the Middle East.

After Father Dave asks the Grand Mufti where he was from and his “boxing record”, he learned that he’s from the Syrian city of Aleppo and that volleyball and swimming, not boxing, were two sports he participated in during high school. The priest then found out that the Grand Mufti had just turned 66 years-old, and Father Dave paid him a compliment: “you still look very fit”.

Interpreter for (His Grace) Grand Nufti Dr. Hassoun:

“He actually believe(s) in the power of love, and hatred is something that his Grace does not know or believe in, even for his enemies – he prays for them”.

Father Dave: How would you describe your work?

“His Grace believes that he is a messenger, and he does not ask the community or society a reward for it. His only question or request would be from God almighty, that God would be happy with the work of his Grace. His brother and sisters are actually not only those who are residing in Aleppo, it is the 7 billion others who reside on Earth”.

“They are two different kinds: the first is actually believers, and his Grace would always pray for the good and success of those believers, and happiness for them. (The) others are patients who did not find the way yet. So, for his Grace we always treat those in a similar way to a doctor in the hospital when he has a patient. For those who do not like his Grace, nor God, he is one of his Grace’s patients. So it is the duty of his Grace to give him medicine, and sympathize with him. Because God is actually the one who will judge that person, not his Grace”.

“For that reason his Grace will not believe that there are many religions – there is only one religion, and in this religion there are only two words: sacredness of God and dignity of human beings. The 7 billion human beings on this Earth are creations of God, whether they are believers or non-believers. But at the end of the day, it is God almighty that created all of them. So, it’s his Grace’s duty to serve them and look after them. In the mosque, in the church, or in the hospital, it is the duty of his Grace to look after them”.

“And God on the judgment day would be the one to ask whether they had become believers or non-believers. If his Grace would have access to the devil, he would basically preach that devil to be a believer. But whether the devil would actually decide to stay as it is…”

Father Dave asks if he is talking about Islam, or a particular form of religion.

“His Grace believes that actually there are different religions. Abraham has one, Moses has one, Jesus has one, Muhammad has one – but they all have one God. So the belief inside a human being is one. You can say that God almighty has (visualized?) in Jesus Christ, or you can tell me that God almighty is actually Jesus Christ, or Jesus Christ is the son of the almighty. This is your perception of God. His Grace’s perception of God is that we are the unity, you have God almighty as one, who does not basically have other forms”.

“It is actually the light and the spirit of God that basically fall on and has been transmitted to messengers like Abraham, like Moses, like Jesus, like Muhammad (PBUH). Well, this is actually God’s wish to be transmitted in this format. The beautiful thing about those five messengers is that we’ve been asked to believe in all of them, and none of them has said “do not believe in others”. The reason why his Grace loves Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is because it’s the commandment of Prophet Muhammad to say to all Muslims “You are not a Muslim or believer until you believe in all the messengers who came before me”. “

“It’s the commandment of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to believe in (the) Bible, and the Old Testament, and the virginity of Mary the Virgin. And that the spiritual great-grandfather for his Grace is Abraham, and that his cousins are Moses and Jesus. So we are all related to one family irrespective of which ways that lead to this family. The goal is the divinity of the God. And for that reason – his Grace said that yesterday when he received you – God does not exist in churches, in mosques, but God exists in the heart of all human beings”.

“When you love somebody you love because the power of God almighty is transmitted in the heartbeats of each human being. Without God’s power, you would not have the presence of that human being.  So, even that Jew is my brother, even if he was not nice to Jesus Christ, and did not beliieve in Jesus Christ, nor Prophet Muhammad. This means that he is a patient and it’s his Grace’s duty to treat him, and not to kill him. Those who are killing in the name of God do not know God”.

Father Dave: He is a beautiful man and an inspiration to us all. Thank you.

“His Grace wishes that you can transmit his best and warmest regards to all Australians whether they are Christian or Muslim clerics. Even to the Jewish Australians, even the Australians who are non-believers. They are all our brothers and sisters, and we hope that we can collaborate to renew this belief for those who want to believe, to take the hands for those who lost their way back to the right track. His Grace would tell you, them, and to himself – may God lead us to the right path. Amen”.

****

(Thank you to Father Dave Smith at YouTube)