Iranian navy commander questioned for allowing 'immoral' rapper to shoot music video on his warship


The commander of Iran's navy has been questioned by the country's security services after he allowed one of his warships to be featured in a music video by a dissident rapper who has since been arrested for "promoting corrupt Western culture". 
Admiral Habibullah Sayyari allowed the singer Amir Tataloo and his band to use a destroyer in the waters of the Persian Gulf to film a song that defended Iran's right to nuclear energy. 
The song was released last year, but Mr Tataloo was subsequently arrested on charges of “promoting corrupt Western culture among Iranian youth”.  
The admiral claimed that he did not know who the singer was and defended the decision to allow the destroyer to be used as music video set. 
“I have been questioned for issuing the permission to this singer who wanted to make a short music clip in defence of our nuclear right,” he told the Jame Jam newspaper. 
"The truth is that I did not know the singer’s real name and when he was referred to us he had introduced himself as Amir Hossein Maghsodloo and I thought I had never seen any productions from him before so there should be no problem.”  
While the admiral has not said who has questioned him, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard’s own naval forces are responsible for intelligence and security matters of the combined forces.  
The admiral said that the request to use the ship came to him through an Iranian cultural institute and that the video's producers promised to show him the footage before broadcasting it but they never did.  
The final video was deeply patriotic in its message. Mr Tataloo rapped in front of a phalanx of Iranian soldiers and declared that his country had an "absolute right" to nuclear power and to defend itself against the West. 
"I am an honest Iranian that is against all violence," the 29-year-old sang. "But if it's going to be by force then I will stay the path with all of my being."    
According to Iranian media, Mr Tataloo made the song in the hope of getting back into the good books of Iran's morality police and eventually being allowed to perform at Milad Tower, an iconic venue in Tehran that is popular with affluent, young liberals. 
Mr Tataloo was arrested in August and is awaiting charges. His music is usually not overtly political but his tattooed image, Western clothing and alternative lifestyle have led some regime hardliners to brand him "non-Iranian and immoral".
The singer is a major celebrity in Iran and has more than three million followers on his Instagram page, where he alternately posts patriotic images and videos from his own life.
The Entekhab newspaper turned to Dr Hossien Sarajzadeh, a leading sociologist, to explain the popularity of Mr Tataloo among Iran’s young people.
“We must admit that we are now facing a new generation in our country which is completely different from the generation that made the revolution.
"They live in the cyber space and have no experience or stomach for wars or revolutions, and at the same time are facing a closed and repressive social and political system that has been born out of war and revolution,” Dr Sarajzadeh said.


Amnesty blasts Bahraini court’s decision to uphold al-Wefaq ban


Bahraini protesters hold placards depicting portraits of Sheikh Ali Salman, the head of the opposition movement al-Wefaq, during clashes with riot police, in the village of Sitra, south of the capital, Manama, January 29, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Bahraini protesters hold placards depicting portraits of Sheikh Ali Salman, the head of the opposition movement al-Wefaq, during clashes with riot police, in the village of Sitra, south of the capital, Manama, January 29, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Leading human rights group Amnesty International has strongly denounced a decision by a Bahraini court to uphold a ban on the country’s main Shia opposition group al-Wefaq.
Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s research and advocacy director, said on Thursday that, “The decision to uphold the dissolution of al-Wefaq is a flagrant attack on freedom of expression and association and a brazen attempt to suppress criticism of the government in Bahrain.”
Luther said that authorities in the Persian Gulf country have failed to present any evidence that al-Wefaq was anything more than a peaceful opposition movement, “which has been seeking reform in the country in the face of increasing government repression.”
He also criticized Manama for having no institutions that can probe government decisions.
“In the absence of independent institutions to scrutinize the government and hold the authorities to account, peaceful opposition movements are particularly important. Silencing critical voices encourages further human rights violations and abuse of power.”
In June, a Bahraini lower court ordered the closure of al-Wefaq National Islamic Society’s offices. One month later, the court ordered the dissolution of the group over alleged accusations of “harboring terrorism,” inciting violence and encouraging protests. It further ruled that al-Wefaq’s funds be seized by the Manama regime.
The move sparked criticism from the United Nations and rights groups.

Bahraini protesters run for cover from tear gas during clashes with riot police, in the village of Sitra, south of the capital, Manama, January 29, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Back in May, a court increased from four to nine years the prison term for Sheikh Ali Salman, al-Wefaq’s secretary general. The cleric had been arrested in December 2014 on charges of attempting to overthrow the Bahraini regime and collaborating with foreign powers, allegations rejected by Salman.
Salman said he was kept in interview rooms for 26 hours without sleep and ordered to remove his religious attire with authorities seeking to “insult and intimidate” him.
Several rights groups have frequently censured Bahrain for rampant human rights abuses against opposition activists and anti-regime demonstrators.
Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of others wounded or detained amid Manama’s ongoing crackdown on dissent and widespread discrimination against the country’s Shia majority since February 2011.


Stop persecuting women's rights defenders in Bahrain!


Stop persecuting women's rights defenders in Bahrain!
Your Majesty,
Please free prominent women’s rights defender Ghada Jamsheer, and allow other rights defenders to travel freely, including to the United Nations Human Rights Council. We ask you to ensure that all women human rights defenders are able to carry out their work without fear of reprisals in Bahrain.
Women’s rights defenders are repeatedly targeted in the Middle East, where they are not often encouraged to speak up. But Bahrain has a rich history of strong women human rights defenders.
Of these courageous Bahraini women human rights defenders, many have been jailed, subjected to travel bans or sent into exile, in an attempt to intimidate those who dare to speak out about injustice.
Among the most serious cases in Bahrain, women’s rights defender, writer and blogger Ghada Jamsheer remains in jail after she was detained on 12 August 2016 upon arrival from London. She is being held in connection with multiple sentences imposed on her for exercising her right to free expression on twitter after she complained of corruption at a hospital. She is currently serving a three-month sentence in this case, but has several other cases amounting to seven more months.
In June 2016, UN Women accepted money from Bahrain’s royal family to launch the HRH Princess Sabeeka Bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa Global Award for Women Empowerment. Women should be empowered to speak freely and carry out their human rights activities unfettered, instead of jailing them or silencing them when they speak up about human rights violations. Bahraini women human rights defenders should be free to voice their opinions, and to engage with the UN.
We call for Ghada Jamsheer to be released on humanitarian grounds, and for all remaining cases against her to be dropped, so she can return home to her daughter, and receive the medical treatment she needs.

Why is this important?

Ghada Jamsheer is very sick and was arrested upon return from seeing her doctor in London. She can’t carry out her treatment in prison, where it is very cold and many women are sick, putting her at increased risk.
In a call from prison, she said, “Here in the jail, they don’t treat me necessarily very well because I’m a human rights defender. Please do something to help me. I want to get out.” She is very worried about her young daughter, who relies on her mother for support.
Other women who have been jailed include human rights defender Zainab Al-Khawaja, freed from prison with her baby son on 31 May after serving time for ripping up a photo of the King. She was freed on humanitarian grounds, but she and her family were forced to flee to Denmark in June after being threatened that if she didn’t leave immediately, she would serve many more years in prison.
Her sister Maryam Al-Khawaja, Co-Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), already lives in Denmark in exile – if she returns home she faces a one-year prison sentence incurred when she tried to return home to Bahrain.
Among the women human rights defenders in Bahrain who are not able to work freely are: 
• Nedal Al-Salman, Head of International Relations and the Women’s and Children’s Rights Program at the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), who was not permitted to leave the country on 29 August to participate in the UN Human Rights Council. 
• Ebtisam Al-Saaegh, networking officer for Salam for Democracy and Human Rights, who was prevented on 27 August from leaving via the causeway with Saudi Arabia. 
• Enas Oun, Head of BCHR’s Monitoring and Documentation team, who was prevented from flying to a human rights workshop in Tunisia on 22 August. 
• Nazeeha Saeed, France 24 and Radio Monte Carlo correspondent, who was prevented from traveling on 29 June; and later summoned to the Public Prosecution where she was accused of allegedly "practising journalism without a permit." 
• Jalila Al-Salman, Vice-President of the Bahrain Teachers Society, was prevented from traveling to Oslo on 13 June to receive the 2015 Arthur Svensson Prize in recognition of her union activism and commitment to human rights issues.

How it will be delivered

By Fax: 
Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa 
Office of His Majesty the King, 
P.O. Box 555, Rifa’a Palace, Manama, Bahrain 
Fax: +973 1766 4587
Copies to: 
Shaikh Rashid bin ‘Abdullah Al Khalifa, Ministry of Interior 
Email: info@interior.gov.bh 
Twitter: @moi_Bahrain
Shaikh Khaled bin Ali bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs 
Twitter: @Khaled_Bin_Ali


Arabia Saudita e Iran scelgono un ruolo da piattaforma logistica per il loro futuro

di Raffaele Luongo –
Nave containerAlcuni Stati del Golfo Persico hanno scelto di diversificare la loro economia con l’obiettivo di ridurre la loro dipendenza dalle entrate per il petrolio. Questa decisione sta spingendo nazioni come l’Arabia Saudita e l’Iran a dedicare sempre più attenzione al ruolo che possono ricoprire nel commercio internazionale. Stiamo parlando di una regione che si estende a metà strada tra l’Asia, l’Europa e l’Africa, questo crocevia ricongiunge l’est con l’ovest e il Mar Arabico con il Mediterraneo. Riyadh e Teheran hanno avviato imponenti operazioni infrastrutturali, potenziando porti e ferrovie, per diventare uno dei principali snodi del commercio internazionale.
L’Iran, appena rientrato nel commercio internazionale, si è lanciato di comune accordo con Russia e Azerbaijan nella costruzione di un’imponente infrastruttura ferroviaria che collegherà Mosca con il porto di Chabahar, in Iran. Il corridoio intermodale si snoda per chilometri, passando dalla rotaia al trasporto su gomma e al trasporto via mare, giunge fino a Mumbai in India, paese in forte espansione che necessita di materie prime e anche del petrolio iraniano.
L’India ha investito parecchio denaro nel potenziamento del porto di Chabahar, quest’ultimo sarà in grado di rivaleggiare con i maggiori porti della regione e la sua capacità di carico sarà maggiore di quella del porto di Bandar Abbas. L’Iran sta quindi potenziando il suo sistema portuale e lo collega direttamente al cuore dell’Europa con la costruzione dell’International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), che gareggiando con il Canale di Suez, dimezzerà i tempi di trasporto e permetterà all’Iran di porsi esattamente a metà strada tra l’India e la Russia. A Teheran spetterà quindi il felice incarico di fare da hub commerciale fra due delle più grandi economie globali del momento: India e Russia.
Anche l’Arabia Saudita si appresta a cogliere le occasioni che il commercio internazionale ha da offrirle, così Riyadh si è posta l’obiettivo di portare il valore delle sue esportazioni, che non hanno a che fare con il petrolio, dal 16% al 50%. Il governo saudita sta investendo davvero tanto nella costruzione di nuove città economiche come Hail, Medina, Rabigh e Jazan.
Piccoli insediamenti rivieraschi, un tempo orientati alla pesca e ad altre attività commerciali a dimensione familiare, stanno vivendo una piena trasformazione al fine di renderli attrattori per gli investitori di tutto il mondo. Il porto di Jazan permetterà ai beni prodotti in Arabia Saudita di avere un facile accesso al mercato globale e ponendosi tra Europa e Container porto grandeAsia, sulla strada per Suez, potrà diventare un polo logistico di primaria importanza. Inoltre la Gammon Group, importante colosso indiano dell’ingegneria civile, ha investito c.a. 20 miliardi proprio su Jazan e sul suo ruolo di economic city.
Altra importante città è la King Abdullah economic city, sul suo porto è stato investito parecchio denaro ed è in fase di ampliamento passando dalla capacità di accogliere due milioni di TEU nel 2014 ai 3 milioni del 2015. Inoltre è prevista la costruzione di ormeggi roll-on/roll-off.
I due paesi più importanti della regione stanno quindi lavorando a ritmo serrato per aumentare la loro importanza logistica, sviluppando le loro economie in modo che esse non siano dipendenti solo da un settore. La strada intrapresa permette di intravedere per loro un ruolo molto importante nel logistica internazionale.


Petition to free UK charity worker nears one million as she is jailed for five years in Iran


ABritish-Iranian mother has been jailed for five years by a secret court in Iran which her husband claims has provided "no clear information" about the charges against her. 
Richard Ratcliffe said his wife, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a charity worker, phoned him from her prison cell and told him: “I can’t bear to be in this place any longer.”
Her family, who live in Iran, say they have never been given any clear information about the nature of the charges.
Mr Ratcliffe, who lives in Hampstead, north London, said his wife was "heartbroken" on Friday and accused the Iranian authorities of handing her “a punishment without a crime.”
"Five years is ridiculous…we will appeal,” she told him over the phone, “but I don't know how long it will take, how long it will last.
"I told her she has nothing to apologise for," Mr Ratcliffe said, "her head will always be high, she is much loved."
Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in April at Tehran airport during a visit to see her family.
Her two-year old daughter, Gabriella, had her passport taken away following her mother’s arrest and is now living with her grandparents in Iran.
Iran’s Revolutionary Court has previously accused the charity worker of trying to overthrow the country’s clerical government. More...

 Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 37 year old charity worker, was on holiday visiting her family in Iran. 
Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was on holiday in Iran when she was arrested

“Iran’s Revolutionary Courts are notorious for handing down prison sentences after grossly unfair trials.
“From all the reports we’ve seen, Nazanin’s case has been a complete travesty of justice throughout, beginning with her protracted secret detention, then the unsupported accusations from officials and culminating in this week’s out-of-the-blue sentence.
“We’re calling on the UK Government to make urgent representations on Nazanin’s case at the highest level."
The announcement comes just days after Britain and Iran announced that diplomatic ties had been restored despite the fact that four Britons are still being held in Iranian jails.
Among them is Kamal Foroughi, a 77-year-old grandfather who is in danger of going blind, and Roya Nobakht, 49, from Stockport.
In 2011, Britain was forced to close its embassy in Tehran after it was stormed and looted by a pro-regime mob.


U.S. urges Bahrain to free jailed rights campaigner Nabeel Rajab


Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab arrives for his appeal hearing at court in Manama, February 11, 2015. REUTERS/Hamad Mohammed/File Photo

The United States voiced concern on Tuesday about the detention of leading Bahraini democracy campaigner Nabeel Rajab and called on the Manama government to release him immediately.
The call by the U.S. State Department came just two days after The New York Times published a letter by Rajab that said he was facing prosecution for his work exposing human rights abuses in Bahrain and criticizing the war in Yemen.
Prosecutors in Bahrain filed new charges on Monday against an unidentified man, believed by rights activists to be Rajab, for "publishing a column in a foreign newspaper in which he deliberately broadcast news, statements and false rumors that undermine the kingdom's prestige and stature."
Asked about the new charges, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the United States was "very concerned" about Rajab's "ongoing detention and the new charges filed against him."
"We call on the government of Bahrain to release him immediately," Toner said. "We have concerns about the state of human rights in general in Bahrain and we're engaging with the government ... on all these issues."
Rajab said in his letter to the Times that he had been detained, mostly in isolation, in Bahrain since the beginning of the summer. He said Bahrain had some 4,000 political prisoners and the highest prison population per capita in the Middle East.
"This is a country that has subjected its people to imprisonment, torture and even death for daring to desire democracy," Rajab wrote. He said he also was accused of "insulting a neighboring country," Saudi Arabia, by sending notes on Twitter calling for an end to the war in Yemen.
Rajab, who met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry earlier this year, was critical of the United States for selling billions of dollars worth of arms to Saudi Arabia for the Yemen conflict.
Rajab said recent strong U.S. statements on Bahrain's human rights problems were good "but unless the United States is willing to use its leverage, fine words have little effect." He urged U.S. President Barack Obama to use American influence to resolve the Yemen conflict.
Opposition political groups in Bahrain staged large protests during the Arab Spring of 2011, when demonstrators across the Arab world took to the streets calling for greater democracy. The protests in Bahrain were put down when neighboring Saudi Arabia sent troops to restore order.
Political tensions have continued since then in Bahrain, which is home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet.

(Reporting by David Alexander and Arshad Mohammed)


La porta d’ingresso dell’islam


Mentre la cara vecchia Europa va a caccia di quattro burkini, gli uomini che lavorano per imporre quello e molto altro a tutti i musulmani e le musulmane del mondo trovano spazio libero, nell’indifferenza quasi generale. Nei Balcani, cioè nell’immediata periferia continentale, a poche centinaia di chilometri dall’Italia, procede e si consolida l’insediamento dell’islam radicale di stampo wahabita. Un pericolo ben noto agli investigatori (nel dicembre del 2015 fu arrestato nel nostro Paese un gruppo di kosovari che cercava di reclutare combattenti da inviare in Siria) ma trascurato dai politici, spesso più attenti al proprio interesse elettorale immediato che non a quello a lungo termine dei cittadini.

Per approfondire: Il pericolo jihad nei Balcani

L’esatto contrario del modo di operare degli ideologi del wahabismo, che dispongono di grandi mezzi economici ma sono pazienti, tenaci e guardano lontano. Abbiamo un esempio plastico sotto gli occhi. Nel 2006 Patrick Sookdheo, per molti anni direttore dell’Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity, calcolò che il re Fahd dell’Arabia Saudita, solo con il proprioargent de poche, era riuscito a far costruire 2000 scuole islamiche, 202 collegi universitari, 210 centri di cultura islamica e 1500 moschee nei cinque continenti. Re Fahd rimase sul trono dal 1982 al 2005 ma in realtà già nel 1995, colpito da un ictus, aveva dovuto cedere i poteri al principe ereditario Abd Allah, che poi gli succedette alla guida del regno. Già dal 2000, infatti, troneggia nel centro di Sarajevo, capitale della Bosnia-Erzegovina, la moschea intitolata proprio al suo nome e ovviamente improntata al culto wahabita. Costata 30 milioni di dollari, può ospitare 1500 fedeli in preghiera ed è la più grande moschea dei Balcani.
Proprio la Bosnia-Erzegovina è uno dei punti critici. Come in Medio Oriente, la carta del settarismo, giocata senza risparmio dalle grandi potenze, si è rivoltata contro la minoranza più indifesa, i cattolici: erano più di 800 mila prima del conflitto, sono appena 400 mila oggi, e in lento ma continuo calo. Nel frattempo, come denunciato più volte dal cardinale Pulic, prosegue l’islamizzazione della Bosnia con i metodi del wahabismo.
Nei primi anni Duemila, nella sola Sarajevo, è stato costruito un centinaio di moschee e almeno 70 centri di cultura islamica, quasi tutti finanziati dalle petromonarchie del Golfo Persico. Un processo che sta cambiando non solo la composizione etnico-religiosa del Paese ma anche la natura dello stesso islam bosniaco, storicamente influenzato dalle tradizioni dell’impero ottomano, quindi tollerante ed “europeo”.
Il processo che ha prodotto tutto questo è ben descritto in La porta d’ingresso dell’islam (Zambon Editore) di Jean Toschi Marazzani Visconti. Grande conoscitrice dei Balcani, Marazzani Visconti ripercorre nel libro, ma anche nella realtà geografica, le piste delle guerre nell’ex Jugoslavia e, di conseguenza, le radici degli attuali fenomeni. Dall’appoggio Usa ai gruppi islamici e islamisti all’accorrere dei foreign fighters di allora (miliziani che si erano fatti le ossa in Afghanistan e in Cecenia) verso la guerra di Bosnia, all’insediamento dell’islam radicale istituzionale. Oggi, non a caso, la Bosnia-Erzegovina, con una popolazione di 3,8 milioni di abitanti, è uno dei Paesi d’Europa ad aver fornito allo Stato islamico di Al Baghdadi il maggior numero di volontari: circa 200 persone (delle quasi 160 maschi), per la metà poi rientrati in Bosnia.
Altri due Paesi sensibili, da questo punto di vista, sono il Kosovo e l’Albania. Il primo, soprattutto. Come ha scritto di recente il New York Times(quotidiano insospettabile, visto che tra l’altro si spende in una campagna senza sosta contro Donald Trump e a favore di Hillary Clinton), “da allora (dopo l’intervento Usa e Nato contro la Serbia, n.d.r), e per la gran parte del tempo sotto gli occhi dei generali americani, il denaro e l’influenza sauditi hanno trasformato una società musulmana un tempo tollerante ai confini dell’Europa in una fonte di estremismo e in una fabbrica di jihadisti… reclutati, dicono gli investigatori kosovari, da una schiera di religiosi estremisti e associazioni segrete finanziate dall’Arabia Saudita e da altri Paesi conservatori del Golfo Persico attraverso un network impenetrabile di donazioni da parte di organizzazioni caritative, privati e ministeri”. Stiamo parlando dell’unico Paese islamico al mondo che abbia nel cuore della capitale Pristina una statua di un presidente americano, Bill Clinton, lo stesso al quale è intitolato anche uno dei principali boulevard. Lo stesso Paese, però, che ha visto partire più di 300 suoi concittadini per andare a combattere nel Siraq nelle file dell’Isis.
E in Albania, la comunità islamica tradizionale è preoccupata per l’espansione dei wahabiti, che avviene anche lì con i soliti sistemi. Già nel 2005, lo studioso dell’islam balcanico Xhavit Shala invitava le autorità a “soffocare il fuoco wahabita” che si propagava “grazie al supporti di certi Paesi del Golfo Persico” e “alle attività di determinate organizzazioni caritative della penisola arabica”. E anche in questo Paese, dove il 70% della popolazione è musulmana ma dove la non è mai stata il fattore principale dell’identità nazionale, possiamo dire che si tratta di storia vecchia: nel 1994 Osama bin Laden fu segnalato in Albania e nel 1999 la visita di una delegazione politica americana di alto livello fu cancellata proprio per il rischio di azioni terroristiche.
La situazione per ora pare ancora sotto controllo. Ma come si diceva, gli strateghi della diffusione del wahabismo e del radicalismo islamico lavorano sui tempi lunghi, non hanno fretta. Il rischio è che, col passare del tempo, si ripeta una situazione tipo Belgio. Nei primi anni Sessanta il re Baldovino consentì ai sauditi di insediare la loro prima grande moschea wahabita in Europa; cinquant’anni dopo, abbiamo scoperto che il quartiere di Molenbeek era diventato una centrale del terrorismo ispirato all’estremismo sunnita dell’Isis.

Per approfondire: Belgio, se i jihadisti li invita il re

Quello che fa impressione è che nei Balcani si sono ripetute e si ripetono le dinamiche che hanno devastato il Medio Oriente. La “diffusione della democrazia”, l’appoggio alle milizie islamiste, il “regime change”, l’insediamento di Governi vassalli quando non fantocci, la penetrazione dell’islamismo radicale di Stato. Conviene leggere con attenzione “La porta d’ingresso dell’islam” di Jean Toschi Marazzani Visconti. Alla luce di quanto successo negli ultimi anni, non ultimo il golpe in Turchia, l’idea che il vero scopo delle guerre balcaniche fosse la creazione della Dorsale Verde, ovvero, per citare l’autore, “di una solida rete di Stati islamici (o meglio, di Stati a maggioranza religiosa musulmana, retti da governi espressione di partiti islamisti) che andasse dal Golfo Persico al Mare Adriatico”, assume una luce assai diversa. E piuttosto brillante.