Islam

Iraq Starts Offensive to Retake Western Mosul From ISIS

Iraqi forces advanced toward western Mosul on Sunday. CreditKhalid Al-Mousily/Reuters

 

 

ERBIL, Iraq — Iraq opened the next chapter in its offensive to drive the Islamic State out of Mosul on Sunday, preparing an assault on the western half of the city. Overnight, planes carpeted the ground with leaflets, directly appealing to the group’s fighters to surrender.

“To those of you who were intrigued by the ISIS ideology,” one of the leaflets said, “this is your last opportunity to quit your work with ISIS and to leave those foreigners who are in your homeland. Stay at home, raising the white flags as the forces approach.”

On state-run television, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of Iraq announced the beginning of the offensive, describing it as “a new dawn” and calling on his troops “to move bravely forward to liberate what is left of the city.”

The assault is taking place amid new concerns about the condition of hundreds of thousands of civilians still trapped in the western part of the city. Food, water and cooking fuel have all been reported to be in short supply, and residents have described increased harassment from Islamic State fighters preparing for the attack.

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The overall push to free Mosul, once Iraq’s second-largest city, began in October, with local troops pushing from the east into the city’s geographically larger but more sparsely populated eastern half. In late January, they reached the banks of the Tigris River, which bisects Mosul, and declared the city’s eastern section liberated.

The operation took longer than expected and took a high toll on civilians and the Iraqi forces, but much of the city’s infrastructure was preserved and a sense of daily life has returned. That is in contrast to the operations to take back other cities from the Islamic State, including Ramadi and Sinjar, which were laid waste by airstrikes. More than a year since Sinjar was freed, even its mayor has not been able to return.

The fight for Mosul’s western half could be even more protracted than for its east. The west is home to neighborhoods of narrow streets, some so small that it will not be possible for Iraqi troops to enter in their fortified Humvees. That may make the Islamic State’s signature suicide bomb attacks even more effective.

Because all five of the bridges spanning the Tigris have been bombed, Iraqi troops will trace a circuitous path to western Mosul, initially approaching it from the city’s south.

Officials said the first objective would be Mosul International Airport, just south of the city. By midday on Sunday, Iraqi forces had captured a string of nearby villages, advancing within six miles of the airfield, officers from the troops said.

American forces are supporting the operation. “The U.S. forces continue in the same role as they did in East Mosul,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters traveling with him on Sunday, adding that the rules of engagement for American troops in Iraq had not changed: “We are very close to, if not already engaged in, that fight.”

He said that the American-backed coalition fighting the Islamic State would “continue with the accelerated effort to destroy” the group.

Anticipating the offensive, the Islamic State damaged the Mosul airport, carving wide trenches onto the runways and adjacent taxiways and aprons, leaving no paved portion of the airport usable by aircraft, according to an analysis of satellite imagery by Stratfor, a global intelligence company.

While the airport may be unusable, taking it would be a milestone for the offensive, as would taking the adjacent hilltop village of Abu Saif, which sits at a higher elevation than Mosul. Because of the Islamic State’s heavy use of snipers, securing high ground is crucial, and Iraqi forces were nearing the base of the hill by Sunday afternoon.

The troops’ push into western Mosul will be further complicated by the Islamic State’s vast network of tunnels throughout the city, allowing fighters to hide from overhead surveillance. And the group is also increasingly using armed drones, allowing them to spot and remotely bomb advancing Iraqi troops.

Yahya Salah, whose neighborhood in eastern Mosul was liberated in November, described how Iraqi troops were just streets away when Islamic State fighters forced their way into his home, armed with a jackhammer. They herded Mr. Salah’s family into one of the bedrooms. From behind the closed door, Mr. Salah said, he then heard a deafening sound and realized the fighters were drilling a hole.

“They worked without stopping — when one got tired, another took over, and they dug a hole that was 1.5 meters wide,” said Mr. Salah, who said his family was locked in the bedroom for three days. “When we said we were thirsty, they threw water bottles at us,” he said.

He said the fighters had left at noon on the final day. The Iraqi Army arrived at sunset, unlocking the door. When the family stepped into the rest of their house, they found ceiling-high piles of dirt in three of their four bedrooms and a hole in the living room floor. The tunnel the fighters had dug stretched for dozens of yards, allowing the terrorist group’s foot soldiers to slip away.

Residents have shown reporters similar tunnels throughout the eastern part of the city, and officials expect the same in western Mosul. A photo essay published this weekend by the Islamic State titled “Life of Fighters South of Mosul” shows their soldiers cooking a meal on a kerosene stove, reading the Quran and praying inside a tunnel wide enough for five men to stand side by side.

At the same time, the Islamic State has become better at the use of small drones, which are available off-the-shelf in malls across the region, including in Erbil, the nearest major city to Mosul. They use the drones to pinpoint army positions and to target them, and recently recovered Islamic State documents show how the group has cobbled together its own drone program. Iraqi forces describe how they frequently see the twoto-four-foot-long aircraft overhead, whining like a lawn mower. Then 30 minutes later, they will take incoming fire at that location.

“Mosul would be a tough fight for any army in the world, and the Iraqi forces have risen to the challenge,” Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the commander of the American-led effort against the Islamic State, said in a news release from United States Central Command announcing the beginning of the operation. Some of the 450 American advisers on the ground in Iraq are helping Iraqi officers plan and execute the offensive.

Reached by telephone, residents in western Mosul described the elation they felt at the approach of government troops. “All we have left to eat is tomato paste. We are eating it with salt,” said Umm Anwar, 41, who asked to be identified only by her nickname. “We are ready to kill ISIS ourselves with knives, or by biting them, because we are in so much pain.”

Bill To Pre-Emptively Attack Iran Introduced In Congress

Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) recently introduced a bill that would enable to US to invade Iran for the stated purpose of preventing it from obtaining nuclear weapons.

 

During the 2016 election, Donald Trump seemed to be the “anti-war” candidate compared to his then-opponent Hillary Clinton, especially when he spoke out against US interventionism and pledged to heal ties with Russia. Though ties with Russia have smoothed over since Trump took office, Trump has taken a more militaristic tone with some other foreign powers as evidenced by his recent statements and actions regarding both Iran and China. While the rise of antagonism between the US and these regional powers is troubling for a variety of reasons, just as troubling is the gusto with which some US congressmen are working to advance the “inevitability” of a military conflict between them.

Earlier this month, Congressman Alcee Hastings (D-FL) introduced H.J.Res. 10 or the “Authorization of Use of Force Against Iran Resolution.” Taken at face value, the bill appears to allow the President to authorize military force against Iran, which is bad enough. Yet, the text of the bill goes further – it authorizes the president to launch a “pre-emptive” war with the Middle Eastern nation without requiring Congressional approval and without the necessity of Iran having actually committed any action that would warrant a full-scale invasion. Specifically, the text of the bill states that: “The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as the President determines necessary and appropriate in order to achieve the goal of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.”

Considering Trump and his national security team’s hostility towards Iran, it seems likely that – if passed – the bill could be used as a “blank check” to realize many of the threats that have already been made. As soon as Trump was officially inaugurated, his administration announced its plans to develop a “state of the art” missile defense system intended to prevent attacks launched specifically from North Korea or Iran. While the inclusion of North Korea is more easily justified, the Iranian defense shield is a hawkish move given that Iran has not acted aggressively towards the U.S. In addition, both the CIA and Israeli intelligence have confirmed that Iran has no nuclear weapons program nor has it ever been interested in one.

However, Trump’s stance on Iran, as well as that of many other US politicians, is not influenced by Iran’s actions, but by Israel’s. Trump’s ties to Israel have become decidedly closer in the months since his election, likely owing to Trump’s chief strategist – Steve Bannon – being a “passionate Zionist” and Vice President Mike Pence’s strongly pro-Israel views. As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently said, the state of Israel’s “supreme goal” is the containment of Iran, suggesting that the US politicians who have aligned themselves with Israel also share this vision.

Though Iran’s disdain for Israel is clear, Israel has pursued its goal of “containment” in militaristic fashion, with over 200 Israeli nuclear weapons currently pointed at Iran’s capital Tehran. Israel’s government expects the same tactics from those U.S. politicians most sympathetic to its cause. It should also come as no surprise, then, that the same author of this “pre-emptive war” with Iran resolution, Congressman Alcee Hastings, received over $70,000 from the Pro-Israel lobby last election cycle. This bill and the militant posturing against Iran within US politics is a clear sign that Israel’s influence continues to overpower the national interest.

#Saudi #woman pictured not wearing #hijab faces calls for her to be #killed, Saudi’s are #TOSSERS!

One social media user said: ‘Kill her and throw her corpse to the dogs’

saudi-woman.jpg

A woman in Saudi Arabia pictured without a hijab is facing calls for her to be killed.

Some social media users reacted with outrage after the emergence of the image taken in capital city Riyadh, with one man demanding: “Kill her and throw her corpse to the dogs”.

The photo was allegedly first posted by an account under the name of Malak Al Shehri, which has since been deleted, reports the International Business Times.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

A Saudi woman went out yesterday without an Abaya or a hijab in Riyadh Saudi Arabia and many Saudis are now demanding her execution.

An unnamed student who reposted the image told the website that Ms Al Shehri had announced she was going out to breakfast without either a hijab or abaya; a traditional Saudi body covering.

The student said she started receiving death threats after posting proof in response to followers who had asked to see a photo.

Saudi Arabia executes prince accused of killing man in brawl

“So many people retweeted it and what she did reached extremists, so she got threats,” the student said. “She deleted her tweets but they didn’t stop, so she deleted her account.”

A hashtag which translates into English as “we demand the imprisonment of the rebel Angel Al Shehri” subsequently went viral.

One user wrote “we propose blood”, while another demanded a “harsh punishment for the heinous situation”.

Despite the outrage, many more users in Saudi Arabia came out in support of the woman’s actions.

 

7 Things to Consider Before Choosing Sides in the Middle East Conflict

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Are you “pro-Israel” or “pro-Palestine”? It isn’t even noon yet as I write this, and I’ve already been accused of being both.

These terms intrigue me because they directly speak to the doggedly tribal nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. You don’t hear of too many other countries being universally spoken of this way. Why these two? Both Israelis and Palestinians are complex, with diverse histories and cultures, and two incredibly similar (if divisive) religions. To come down completely on the side of one or the other doesn’t seem rational to me.

It is telling that most Muslims around the world support Palestinians, and most Jews support Israel. This, of course, is natural — but it’s also problematic. It means that this is not about who’s right or wrong as much as which tribe or nation you are loyal to. It means that Palestinian supporters would be just as ardently pro-Israel if they were born in Israeli or Jewish families, and vice versa. It means that the principles that guide most people’s view of this conflict are largely accidents of birth — that however we intellectualize and analyze the components of the Middle East mess, it remains, at its core, a tribal conflict.

By definition, tribal conflicts thrive and survive when people take sides. Choosing sides in these kinds of conflicts fuels them further and deepens the polarization. And worst of all, you get blood on your hands.

So before picking a side in this latest Israeli-Palestine conflict, consider these 7 questions:

***

1. Why is everything so much worse when there are Jews involved?

Over 700 people have died in Gaza as of this writing. Muslims have woken up around the world. But is it really because of the numbers?

Bashar al-Assad has killed over 180,000 Syrians, mostly Muslim, in two years — more than the number killed in Palestine in two decades. Thousands of Muslims in Iraq and Syria have been killed by ISIS in the last two months. Tens of thousands have been killed by the Taliban. Half a million black Muslims were killed by Arab Muslims in Sudan. The list goes on.

But Gaza makes Muslims around the world, both Sunni and Shia, speak up in a way they never do otherwise. Up-to-date death counts and horrific pictures of the mangled corpses of Gazan children flood their social media timelines every day. If it was just about the numbers, wouldn’t the other conflicts take precedence? What is it about then?

If I were Assad or ISIS right now, I’d be thanking God I’m not Jewish.

Amazingly, many of the graphic images of dead children attributed to Israeli bombardment that are circulating online are from Syria, based on a BBC report. Many of the pictures you’re seeing are of children killed by Assad, who is supported by Iran, which also funds Hezbollah and Hamas. What could be more exploitative of dead children than attributing the pictures of innocents killed by your own supporters to your enemy simply because you weren’t paying enough attention when your own were killing your own?

This doesn’t, by any means, excuse the recklessness, negligence, and sometimesoutright cruelty of Israeli forces. But it clearly points to the likelihood that the Muslim world’s opposition to Israel isn’t just about the number of dead.

Here is a question for those who grew up in the Middle East and other Muslim-majority countries like I did: if Israel withdrew from the occupied territories tomorrow, all in one go — and went back to the 1967 borders — and gave the Palestinians East Jerusalem — do you honestly think Hamas wouldn’t find something else to pick a fight about? Do you honestly think that this has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that they are Jews? Do you recall what you watched and heard on public TV growing up in Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Egypt?

Yes, there’s an unfair and illegal occupation there, and yes, it’s a human rights disaster. But it is also true that much of the other side is deeply driven by anti-Semitism. Anyone who has lived in the Arab/Muslim world for more than a few years knows that. It isn’t always a clean, one-or-the-other blame split in these situations like your Chomskys and Greenwalds would have you believe. It’s both.

***

2. Why does everyone keep saying this is not a religious conflict?

There are three pervasive myths that are widely circulated about the “roots” of the Middle East conflict:

Myth 1: Judaism has nothing to do with Zionism.
Myth 2: Islam has nothing to do with Jihadism or anti-Semitism.
Myth 3: This conflict has nothing to do with religion.

To the “I oppose Zionism, not Judaism!” crowd, is it mere coincidence that this passage from the Old Testament (emphasis added) describes so accurately what’s happening today?

“I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the desert to the Euphrates River. I will give into your hands the people who live in the land, and you will drive them out before you. Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods.” – Exodus 23:31-32

Or this one?

“See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land the Lord swore he would give to your fathers — to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — and to their descendants after them.” – Deuteronomy 1:8

There’s more: Genesis 15:18-21, and Numbers 34 for more detail on the borders. Zionism is not the “politicization” or “distortion” of Judaism. It is the revival of it.

And to the “This is not about Islam, it’s about politics!” crowd, is this verse from the Quran (emphasis added) meaningless?

“O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you—then indeed, he is [one] of them. Indeed, Allah guides not the wrongdoing people.” – Quran, 5:51

What about the numerous verses and hadith quoted in Hamas’ charter? And the famous hadith of the Gharqad tree explicitly commanding Muslims to kill Jews?

Please tell me — in light of these passages written centuries and millennia before the creation of Israel or the occupation — how can anyone conclude that religion isn’t at the root of this, or at least a key driving factor? You may roll your eyes at these verses, but they are taken very seriously by many of the players in this conflict, on both sides. Shouldn’t they be acknowledged and addressed? When is the last time you heard a good rational, secular argument supporting settlement expansion in the West Bank?

Denying religion’s role seems to be a way to be able to criticize the politics while remaining apologetically “respectful” of people’s beliefs for fear of “offending” them. But is this apologism and “respect” for inhuman ideas worth the deaths of human beings?

People have all kinds of beliefs — from insisting the Earth is flat to denying the Holocaust. You may respect their right to hold these beliefs, but you’re not obligated to respect the beliefs themselves. It’s 2014, and religions don’t need to be “respected” any more than any other political ideology or philosophical thought system. Human beings have rights. Ideas don’t. The oft-cited politics/religion dichotomy in Abrahamic religions is false and misleading. All of the Abrahamic religions are inherently political.

***

3. Why would Israel deliberately want to kill civilians?

This is the single most important issue that gets everyone riled up, and rightfully so.

Again, there is no justification for innocent Gazans dying. And there’s no excuse for Israel’s negligence in incidents like the killing of four children on a Gazan beach. But let’s back up and think about this for a minute.

Why on Earth would Israel deliberately want to kill civilians?

When civilians die, Israel looks like a monster. It draws the ire of even its closest allies. Horrific images of injured and dead innocents flood the media. Ever-growing anti-Israel protests are held everywhere from Norway to New York. And the relatively low number of Israeli casualties (we’ll get to that in a bit) repeatedly draws allegations of a “disproportionate” response. Most importantly, civilian deaths help Hamas immensely.

How can any of this possibly ever be in Israel’s interest?

If Israel wanted to kill civilians, it is terrible at it. ISIS killed more civilians in two days (700 plus) than Israel has in two weeks. Imagine if ISIS or Hamas had Israel’s weapons, army, air force, US support, and nuclear arsenal. Their enemies would’ve been annihilated long ago. If Israel truly wanted to destroy Gaza, it could do so within a day, right from the air. Why carry out a more painful, expensive ground incursion that risks the lives of its soldiers?

***

4. Does Hamas really use its own civilians as human shields?

Ask Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas how he feels about Hamas’ tactics.

“What are you trying to achieve by sending rockets?” he asks. “I don’t like trading in Palestinian blood.”

It isn’t just speculation anymore that Hamas puts its civilians in the line of fire.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri plainly admitted on Gazan national TV that thehuman shield strategy has proven “very effective.”

The UN relief organization UNRWA issued a furious condemnation of Hamas after discovering hidden rockets in not one, but two children’s schools in Gaza last week.

Hamas fires thousands of rockets into Israel, rarely killing any civilians or causing any serious damage. It launches them from densely populated areas, including hospitals and schools.

Why launch rockets without causing any real damage to the other side, inviting great damage to your own people, then putting your own civilians in the line of fire when the response comes? Even when the IDF warns civilians to evacuate their homes before a strike, why does Hamas tell them to stay put?

Because Hamas knows its cause is helped when Gazans die. If there is one thing that helps Hamas most — one thing that gives it any legitimacy — it is dead civilians. Rockets in schools. Hamas exploits the deaths of its children to gain the world’s sympathy. It uses them as a weapon.

You don’t have to like what Israel is doing to abhor Hamas. Arguably, Israel and Fatah are morally equivalent. Both have a lot of right on their side. Hamas, on the other hand, doesn’t have a shred of it.

***

5. Why are people asking for Israel to end the “occupation” in Gaza?

Because they have short memories.

In 2005, Israel ended the occupation in Gaza. It pulled out every last Israeli soldier. It dismantled every last settlement. Many Israeli settlers who refused to leave wereforcefully evicted from their homes, kicking and screaming.

This was a unilateral move by Israel, part of a disengagement plan intended toreduce friction between Israelis and Palestinians. It wasn’t perfect — Israel was still to control Gaza’s borders, coastline, and airspace — but considering the history of the region, it was a pretty significant first step.

After the evacuation, Israel opened up border crossings to facilitate commerce. The Palestinians were also given 3,000 greenhouses which had already been producing fruit and flowers for export for many years.

But Hamas chose not to invest in schools, trade, or infrastructure. Instead, it built an extensive network of tunnels to house thousands upon thousands of rockets and weapons, including newer, sophisticated ones from Iran and Syria. All the greenhouses were destroyed.

Hamas did not build any bomb shelters for its people. It did, however, build a fewfor its leaders to hide out in during airstrikes. Civilians are not given access to these shelters for precisely the same reason Hamas tells them to stay home when the bombs come.

Gaza was given a great opportunity in 2005 that Hamas squandered by transforming it into an anti-Israel weapons store instead of a thriving Palestinian state that, with time, may have served as a model for the future of the West Bank as well. If Fatah needed yet another reason to abhor Hamas, here it was.

***

6. Why are there so many more casualties in Gaza than in Israel?

The reason fewer Israeli civilians die is not because there are fewer rockets raining down on them. It’s because they are better protected by their government.

When Hamas’ missiles head towards Israel, sirens go off, the Iron Dome goes into effect, and civilians are rushed into bomb shelters. When Israeli missiles head towards Gaza, Hamas tells civilians to stay in their homes and face them.

While Israel’s government urges its civilians to get away from rockets targeted at them, Gaza’s government urges its civilians to get in front of missiles not targeted at them.

The popular explanation for this is that Hamas is poor and lacks the resources to protect its people like Israel does. The real reason, however, seems to have more to do with disordered priorities than deficient resources (see #5). This is about will, not ability. All those rockets, missiles, and tunnels aren’t cheap to build or acquire. But they are priorities. And it’s not like Palestinians don’t have a handful of oil-rich neighbors to help them the way Israel has the US.

The problem is, if civilian casualties in Gaza drop, Hamas loses the only weapon it has in its incredibly effective PR war. It is in Israel’s national interest to protect its civilians and minimize the deaths of those in Gaza. It is in Hamas’ interest to do exactly the opposite on both fronts.

***

7. If Hamas is so bad, why isn’t everyone pro-Israel in this conflict?

Because Israel’s flaws, while smaller in number, are massive in impact.

Many Israelis seem to have the same tribal mentality that their Palestinian counterparts do. They celebrate the bombing of Gaza the same way many Arabs celebrated 9/11. A UN report recently found that Israeli forces tortured Palestinian children and used them as human shields. They beat up teenagers. They are oftenreckless with their airstrikes. They have academics who explain how rape may be the only truly effective weapon against their enemy. And many of them callously and publicly revel in the deaths of innocent Palestinian children.

To be fair, these kinds of things do happen on both sides. They are an inevitable consequence of multiple generations raised to hate the other over the course of 65 plus years. To hold Israel up to a higher standard would mean approaching the Palestinians with the racism of lowered expectations.

However, if Israel holds itself to a higher standard like it claims — it needs to do much more to show it isn’t the same as the worst of its neighbors.

Israel is leading itself towards increasing international isolation and national suicide because of two things: 1. The occupation; and 2. Settlement expansion.

Settlement expansion is simply incomprehensible. No one really understands the point of it. Virtually every US administration — from Nixon to Bush to Obama — hasunequivocally opposed it. There is no justification for it except a Biblical one (see #2), which makes it slightly more difficult to see Israel’s motives as purely secular.

The occupation is more complicated. The late Christopher Hitchens was right when he said this about Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories:

“In order for Israel to become part of the alliance against whatever we want to call it, religious barbarism, theocratic, possibly thermonuclear theocratic or nuclear theocratic aggression, it can’t, it’ll have to dispense with the occupation. It’s as simple as that.

It can be, you can think of it as a kind of European style, Western style country if you want, but it can’t govern other people against their will. It can’t continue to steal their land in the way that it does every day.And it’s unbelievably irresponsible of Israelis, knowing the position of the United States and its allies are in around the world, to continue to behave in this unconscionable way. And I’m afraid I know too much about the history of the conflict to think of Israel as just a tiny, little island surrounded by a sea of ravening wolves and so on. I mean, I know quite a lot about how that state was founded, and the amount of violence and dispossession that involved. And I’m a prisoner of that knowledge. I can’t un-know it.”

As seen with Gaza in 2005, unilateral disengagement is probably easier to talk about than actually carry out. But if it Israel doesn’t work harder towards a two-state (maybe three-state, thanks to Hamas) solution, it will eventually have to make that ugly choice between being a Jewish-majority state or a democracy.

It’s still too early to call Israel an apartheid state, but when John Kerry said Israelcould end up as one in the future, he wasn’t completely off the mark. It’s simple math. There are only a limited number of ways a bi-national Jewish state with a non-Jewish majority population can retain its Jewish identity. And none of them are pretty.

***

Let’s face it, the land belongs to both of them now. Israel was carved out of Palestine for Jews with help from the British in the late 1940s just like my own birthplace of Pakistan was carved out of India for Muslims around the same time. The process was painful, and displaced millions in both instances. But it’s been almost 70 years. There are now at least two or three generations of Israelis who were born and raised in this land, to whom it really is a home, and who are often held accountable and made to pay for for historical atrocities that are no fault of their own. They are programmed to oppose “the other” just as Palestinian children are. At its very core, this is a tribal religious conflict that will never be resolved unless people stop choosing sides.

So you really don’t have to choose between being “pro-Israel” or “pro-Palestine.” If you support secularism, democracy, and a two-state solution — and you oppose Hamas, settlement expansion, and the occupation — you can be both.

If they keep asking you to pick a side after all of that, tell them you’re going with hummus.

Can you believe this! WTF! Subway removes ham and bacon from nearly 200 stores and offers halal meat only after ‘strong demand’ from Muslims

Nearly 200 Subway branches across the UK and Ireland have cut out ham and bacon, selling only halal meat, in response to demand from their multicultural customers

  • 185 branches across UK and Ireland now sell halal-only meat
  • Halal refers to objects or actions permissible under Islamic law
  • Pork is forbidden and while other meat can be eaten, it must be sourced, slaughtered and processed according to strict rules
  • Subway said all halal meat served in its branches has come from animals that were stunned before being slaughtered
  • Halal-only menu is in response to ‘strong demand’ from Muslim customers

Fast food giant Subway has removed ham and bacon from almost 200 outlets, and switched to halal meat alternatives in an attempt to please its Muslim customers.

It has confirmed turkey ham and turkey rashers will be used instead in 185 of its stores, where all the meat will now be prepared according to halal rules.

The chain, which has around 1,500 outlets across the UK, explained its decision by saying it had to balance animal welfare concerns with ‘the views of religious communities’.

Nearly 200 Subway branches across the UK and Ireland have cut out ham and bacon, selling only halal meat, in response to demand from their multicultural customers

Traditional halal slaughter sees animals have their throats slit before bleeding to death. But Subway stressed that the meat served in its sandwiches would come from animals that have been stunned first, a practice that aims to reduce any suffering.

In Arabic the word halal means ‘permitted’ or ‘lawful’ and defines anything that is allowed or lawful according to the Qur’an.

It is often used to indicate food – particularly meat – has been prepared in accordance with Muslim principles and techniques.

Muslims are forbidden from eating any non-halal food and meat from pigs and Subway said customers can identify those stores selling halal food by the special ‘All meats are Halal’ sign, which must be displayed in participating branches.

In the halal-only branches ham and bacon has been substituted for turkey ham and rashers.

Many animal charities condemn halal slaughter as being cruel to animals.

Traditionally in halal abattoirs the throats of the animals are cut while they are fully conscious – an act many campaigners say is inhumane and needlessly cruel.

In the halal-only stores ham and bacon have been substituted for turkey ham and turkey rashers, the sandwich chain said. A spokeswoman said all halal meat served in Subway branches has come from animals that were stunned before being slaughtered

In the halal-only stores ham and bacon have been substituted for turkey ham and turkey rashers, the sandwich chain said. A spokeswoman said all halal meat served in Subway branches has come from animals that were stunned before being slaughtered.

In non-halal abattoirs, livestock are stunned before killing to prevent any unnecessary suffering.

Some halal butchers also practise pre-stunning, though it is not permitted by some Islamic scholars.

In Britain, killing an animal without prior stunning is illegal, but the law gives special exemption to Muslim and Jewish meat producers on the grounds of religion.

There are thought to be around 12 abattoirs dedicated to unstunned slaughter in the UK, while hundreds practise stunned halal slaughter.

A Subway spokeswoman told MailOnline all halal meat served in the participating branches is from animals who were stunned prior to slaughter.

She said: ‘The growing popularity of the Subway chain with the diverse multicultural population across the UK and Ireland means we have to balance the values of many religious communities with the overall aim of improving the health and welfare standards of animals.

‘We put a programme into place in 2007 to ensure that the population demographic is taken into account when new store openings are considered in order that we meet consumer demand in each location.

SUBWAY SUBS AFFECTED BY RULES

Subs
Chicken and Bacon Ranch Melt
Steak and Cheese
Meatball Marinara
Subway Melt – ham, bacon, turkey breast and cheese
Italian B.M.T. – pepperoni, salami and ham
Spicy Italian – pepperoni and salami
Chicken Avocado

Breakfast subs
Bacon
Mega Melt – bacon, sausage, egg and cheese
Sausage
Bacon, Egg and Cheese
Sausage, Egg and Cheese

All ham and bacon is replaced by turkey ham and turkey rashers and all meat is prepared according to Islamic halal rules.

‘All our suppliers comply with EU animal welfare legislation as a minimum and we require suppliers of halal products to adopt the stunning of animals prior to their slaughter.

‘All halal meats are certified by the appropriate halal authorities.

‘All halal Subway stores have numerous signs stating that they serve halal food.

‘These are situated on the menu panels, nutritional information and in the front window of the store.’

Animal campaigning charity PETA urged people to opt for a vegetarian diet to ensure they have the best interests of animals at heart.

A spokesman said: ‘At the best of times, meat is a product of a bloody and violent industry with no respect for other living beings who value their lives in the same way that we do and experience the same pain and terror that Subways’ customers would if they were killed for a sandwich.

‘Most religions, including Islam, preach kindness to animals, but words are one thing and practice another.

‘As the Dalai Lama said, “My religion is kindness”. And a diet that expresses kindness, is open to all religions and truly respects animal rights is a vegan one.

‘Subway-goers, no matter what their religion, can eat with a clear conscience by opting for the veggie patty, the veggie delight or, heaven forbid, a salad.’

Speaking about the general issue of halal slaughter, an RSPCA spokeswoman added: ‘Scientific research has clearly shown that slaughter of an animal without stunning can cause unnecessary suffering, and the RSPCA is opposed to the slaughter of any animal without first making it insensible to pain and distress.

‘At present, the only legal exemptions to stunning during slaughter exist for kosher and halal methods of slaughter, however, it is important to differentiate between ‘religious’ and ‘non-stun’ slaughter as around 90 per cent of all halal in the UK receives a stun before slaughter.

‘Our concern has nothing to do with the expression of religious belief but with the practice of killing by throat cutting without pre-stunning.

‘We believe that meat produced from animals stunned or not stunned before slaughter should be clearly labelled to allow consumer choice, and continue to press for changes in the law that would improve the welfare of all farm animals at the time of slaughter.’

HALAL DICTATES OBJECTS OR ACTIONS PERMISSIBLE UNDER ISLAMIC LAW

Halal refers to any object or action which is permissible according to Islamic law. The term covers not only food and drink but also matters of daily life.

Halal foods are those that Muslims are allowed to eat or drink under Islamic Shari’ah. The criteria dictates both food which are allowed and how the food must be prepared. The foods most commonly addressed are types of meat and animal tissue.

The most common example of non-halal, or forbidden food is pork. It is the only meat that must not be eaten by Muslims at all, due to historical, cultural and religiously perceived hygienic concerns.

Muslims are forbidden under Islamic law from eating any pork products, any other meat must be sourced, killed and processed according to strict rules

Other meats can be forbidden, depending on their source, the cause of the animal’s death and how it was processed.

To be halal, the food must have come from a supplier that uses halal practises. Specifically the slaughter must be performed by a Muslim, who must invoke the name of Allah prior to killing the animal. Commonly a person will say ‘Bismillah’ (‘In the name of God’) before repeating ‘Allahu akbar’ (‘God is the greatest’) three times.

The animal is then slaughtered with a sharp knife, by cutting the throat, windpipe and blood vessels in the neck without cutting the spinal cord. The blood must then be drained from the veins of the animal.

Traditionally and according to Islamic scholars an animal must be conscious while slaughtered.

However the majority of halal abattoirs stun the animals before killing them.

Muslims must also ensure that all foods, particularly processed foods, as well as non-food items like cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, are halal.

Heaven – Do You Qualify? Not likely according to The Scriptures! Watch the video..

Find out if you will be going to heaven according to the bible!

Mike, a doctor, and Brandon, an app developer, both skeptics, collaborated to make the Android app, “The Atheist’s Ally”. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.punch.back&hl=en

After further scriptural analysis they have now produced “Heaven – Do You Qualify”. The video allows you to assess your personal chances of getting to heaven.

If you like the video, please LIKE and SHARE :)

Enjoy!

Anonymous “Hacktivists” Strike a Blow Against ISIS

Anonymous “Hacktivists” Strike a Blow Against ISIS

Anonymous has just struck a massive blow against ISIS recruiting efforts. Hacktivists recently took control of dozens of Twitter and Facebook accounts that had been openly used by ISIS to expand their influence and recruit new members.

The above video explains the attack was coordinated by “Muslims, Christians, Jews” alike. They are “hackers, crackers, Hacktivist, phishers, agents, spies, or just the guy next door… students, administrators, workers, clerks, unemployed, rich, poor.” They are also “young, or old, gay or straight… from all races, countries, religions, and ethnicity. United as one, divided by zero.”

An important point made by the video is that “the terrorists that are calling themselves [the] Islamic State (ISIS) are not Muslims.” Anonymous further directs a threat to ISIS itself:

We will hunt you, take down your sites, accounts, emails, and expose you…
From now on, no safe place for you online…
You will be treated like a virus, and we are the cure…
We own the internet…
We are Anonymous; we are Legion; we do not forgive, we do not forget, Expect us.

The following are some of the Twitter handles that had been brought down by Anonymous and RedCult team in #OpISIS  are listed below:

https://twitter.com/Daash
https://twitter.com/DaashISIS
https://twitter.com/DaashConnect
https://twitter.com/DaashConnect1
https://twitter.com/DaashConnect2
https://twitter.com/DaashConnect3
https://twitter.com/DaashConnect4
https://twitter.com/DaashConnect5
https://twitter.com/DaashConnect6
https://twitter.com/DaashConnect7
https://twitter.com/DaashConnect8
https://twitter.com/DaashISIS
https://twitter.com/ISISConnect
https://twitter.com/ISISConnect2
https://twitter.com/ISISConnect3
https://twitter.com/ISIS_Connect
https://twitter.com/D3ichy1
https://twitter.com/Nour_zalam
https://twitter.com/fadou7_ilma3bar
https://twitter.com/Faysal_da3iche
https://twitter.com/sam7anA7mar
https://twitter.com/Salman7asoun
https://twitter.com/far7at_naser_3
https://twitter.com/Asad3oumran
https://twitter.com/AbouHilal_bader
https://twitter.com/Abou7amadElrasy
https://twitter.com/Dafiq_ISIS
https://twitter.com/Salman_Anwar
https://twitter.com/Jazib_moutawakil
https://twitter.com/Albakistani_JN
https://twitter.com/umar_media_ttp
https://twitter.com/Din1080
https://twitter.com/abu_elbaraa91
https://twitter.com/Din1080
https://twitter.com/ZawahiriRafidhi
https://twitter.com/interditAuPaien
https://twitter.com/Qan9Yaman
https://twitter.com/Abouyamany
https://twitter.com/AlRani1
https://twitter.com/AMouwahidin
https://twitter.com/AbouMoustapha1
https://twitter.com/Abou_illabaisse
https://twitter.com/Ja3faralsadik
https://twitter.com/E7sanALsadiq
https://twitter.com/Ja3far_aboumahdi
https://twitter.com/imam_3antar
https://twitter.com/AbuBicha
https://twitter.com/OumShaheed1
https://twitter.com/aboomusab69
https://twitter.com/riahizaid12
https://twitter.com/Khaled_nousra
https://twitter.com/MouvementSalafi
https://twitter.com/akhypotteur
https://twitter.com/Dz_Bara_ah
https://twitter.com/UmmSherazzade
https://twitter.com/Salam_nour
https://twitter.com/Abou_OmarAlchamy
https://twitter.com/Abou_jabal
https://twitter.com/Baghdadid1
https://twitter.com/Ra2if_w
https://twitter.com/Amin_3abdala
https://twitter.com/Qouyas7
https://twitter.com/zalmour_3aziz
https://twitter.com/karkhan_el_nour
https://twitter.com/Barlous_3antar
https://twitter.com/karim_soura
https://twitter.com/SrhZtn
https://twitter.com/Monimelperso
https://twitter.com/Abounizar_sadim
https://twitter.com/AbouNasir_nousra
https://twitter.com/khalid_da3ichy
https://twitter.com/Mouhran_salam_alah
https://twitter.com/Mounir3abed_nousra
https://twitter.com/MinhajNoubouwa
https://twitter.com/abou_suisse
https://twitter.com/dawlaReporter
https://twitter.com/FatimaYouYouu
https://twitter.com/Nour_Da3ich
https://twitter.com/aylan7x
https://twitter.com/Parigi6
https://twitter.com/moujahidardent
https://twitter.com/patience1900
https://twitter.com/alfuratwadijlah
https://twitter.com/CassKhattab
https://twitter.com/ibnhouss > Rachid Abou Houdeyfa
https://twitter.com/aboushaheed_
https://twitter.com/abubakr99amb
https://twitter.com/Salashh
https://twitter.com/jamilnousran
https://twitter.com/jamilnousran1

Anonymous states that the Facebook accounts listed below appear to be in close contact with ISIS. We are advised to “keep a close eye” on them.

https://www.facebook.com/azizi.salina
https://www.facebook.com/mujahiddin.bolzan
https://www.facebook.com/sinar.cahaya.73
https://www.facebook.com/putraijamarul77
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100007817504822 ====> This are Junaid Hussain AkA TriCk.
https://www.facebook.com/najmi.mie.9
https://www.facebook.com/mohdazril.matsoom
https://www.facebook.com/mohdrahemyl.remy
https://www.facebook.com/safwan.wan.5661
https://www.facebook.com/cikgu.ihsan
https://www.facebook.com/buxy.bux ====> (Recruiter) This woman she to brainwash young people to go to Syria to fight alongside Terrorists of the Islamic State.

This is just the beginning iteems. Anonymous warns that there will be “more to come.” In fact, even as this article is being typed, more accounts are being taken offline.


Anonymous recommends: Protect your PC & mobile devices from hackers & governments & surf anonymously 

New Year bomb attack on ISIS: America launches TWENTY NINE air strikes | We include 15 mins of great ISIS Death.

Graphic Message to ISIS from Middle Eastern Feminists

Syria and Iraq in blitz against extremists

  • In total 17 bombs were dropped on Syria and another 12 on Iraq targets
  • Raids destroyed vehicles, building and units belonging to Islamic State
  • Onslaught brings number of strikes since Christmas to more than 100

U.S. and Arab war planes launched 29 air strikes against Islamic State fighters and buildings across both Iraq and Syria overnight, according to military chiefs.

Syrian targets included he Islamic State’s defacto capital of Raqqa, and Kobane where Kurdish Peshmerga and YPG forces have been involved in street battles with extremists for months.

The city of Dayr az Zawr, which contains 600,000 people and is the largest in Syria’s east was also among the cities hit.

In Iraq targets were hit around the town of Mosul, which contains an important dam, Fallujah, which is located just to the east of Baghdad, and Sinjar, which thousands of Yazidis were forced to flee after ISIS fighters took the town earlier this year.

Scroll down for video, 15 minutes of great ISIS Death!

U.S.-led coalition warplanes hit 29 targets in Iraq and Syria yesterday destroying buildings, vehicles and units, including in the town of Kobane (pictured) where ISIS are still fighting Kurdish forces

U.S.-led coalition warplanes hit 29 targets in Iraq and Syria yesterday destroying buildings, vehicles and units, including in the town of Kobane (pictured) where ISIS are still fighting Kurdish forces

In total 17 bombs were dropped over Syria and another 12 over Iraq, though the exact split between the target cities has not been announced.

Chiefs of the Combined Joint Task Force said buildings, fighting positions and units were all hit during the bombing runs, but did not give information on exactly what was destroyed or how many casualties there were.

ISIS has been engaged in street battles with Kurdish Peshmerga and YPG units in Kobane for months, as airstrikes attempt to weaken the opposition

ISIS has been engaged in street battles with Kurdish Peshmerga and YPG units in Kobane for months, as airstrikes attempt to weaken the opposition

The latest round of bombings against ISIS targets in the Middle east takes the number of strikes since Christmas above 100, as the U.S.-led coalition attempts to weaken the radical group.

As well as key towns such as Raqqa and Kobane, strikes have also hit Al Asad, Al Qaim, Baiji, Kirkuk and Tal Afar in Iraq.

As the bombing runs were carried out last night Syrian dictator Bashar Al Assad went to deliver a New Year’s message to troops in the east Damascus district of Jobar last night.

State TV showed the despot having dinner with soldiers and pro-government gunmen during the rare appearance.

The news came as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights announced that the death toll from the four-year civil war topped 76,000 in the last year alone.

An estimated 17,790 were civilians, including 3,501 children, making it the deadliest year of the war.

Heavy fighting in the strategic neighbourhood killed at least 25 Syrian soldiers and pro-regime militia on Wednesday before the visit, the observatory said.

Assad was shown sharing a meal of baked beans, boiled potatoes and tomatoes with soldiers and pro-government gunmen known as National Defense Forces.

The fresh wave of bombings brings the number of coalition strikes since Christmas above 100, as forces loyal to Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad also hit targets in Damascus yesterday

The fresh wave of bombings brings the number of coalition strikes since Christmas above 100, as forces loyal to Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad also hit targets in Damascus yesterday

A child is treated for head wounds at a medical centre in Damascus as Assad's forces launched strikes. More than 76,000 people died in the civil war last year

A child is treated for head wounds at a medical centre in Damascus as Assad’s forces launched strikes. More than 76,000 people died in the civil war last year

Last year was the deadliest of the four-year conflict in Syria, with 18,000 civilians killed after being caught in the fighting with 3,500 of those being children

Last year was the deadliest of the four-year conflict in Syria, with 18,000 civilians killed after being caught in the fighting with 3,500 of those being children

And now your video!