How odd that the tolerance we constantly hear that Islam manifests is somehow always misunderstood and not applied in Sharia states. Islamic Tolerance Alert from the Islamic Republic of Iran. “Iran puts five Christians on trial for their faith,” by Lisa Daftari for FoxNews.com, March 11: Five Iranian Christian converts… read more
Sharia in action in Iran: Ahmadinejad under fire for hugging woman at Chavez funeral
The mullahs are fine with his genocidal threats against Israel, but hug a woman? That’s going too far!
“Bitter-‘sweet embrace’: Ahmadinejad slated for hugging Chavez’s relative,” fromal Arabiya, March 10 (thanks to all who sent this in):
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is under the spotlight once again for another controversial move.
But this move is much “softer” than nuclear war games or the occasional lashing out at Israel or America.
This time, it’s a hug.
Ahmadinejad came under heavy criticism after a picture on Friday showed him embracing a woman at the funeral of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, according to the website of the Iranian parliament reported.
While the identity of the woman who received Ahmadinejad’s apparent act of sympathy was at first unclear, the woman appeared to be Chavez’s mother Elena Frias, according to AFP news agency.
Most of those who criticized the embrace are Iranian conservatives who staunchly supported the president during the Iranian presidential elections held in June 2008.
Iranian MP Mohammed Dehghan said, in an implicit reference to Ahmadinejad, that such an act by a prominent executive official opposes the behavior of a Muslim who is constrained by religious commitments.
Dehghan also criticized the “perverted group” - a term used by Supreme Leader of Iran Ali Khamenei’s supporters to describe the circle close to Ahmadinejad - warning of the wide spread of this group in Iran.
He also called on religious scholars to seriously confront Ahmadinejad’s “un-Islamic” acts.
Former MP Hojatoleslam Mohammed Taghi Rahbar, who supported Ahmadinjed during the previous presidential elections, said the president lost control over the situation during the funeral of Chavez.
The Iranian president has previously sparked the conservatives’ outrage after he announced a national day of mourning following the death of Chavez. The move was described as “an illegal precedent.”
Prominent Shiite religious figures have called on Ahmadinejad to be better knowledgeable on his religion. They have also called on him to avoid making statements relevant to religion during the rest of his presidential term, which ends in August, to prevent stirring domestic tensions.
In his eulogy of Chavez, Ahmadinejad said the former “will come again along with Jesus Christ and Al-Imam al-Mahdi to redeem mankind.”
The statement sparked further criticism as some Iranian clerics accused Ahmadinejad of committing a sin by saying that “Chavez’s soul will return and that he will come again after the appearance of the (Hidden) Imam.”
Well, certainly there is nothing in Islamic eschatology about Jesus and the Imam Mahdi being accompanied by a Venezuelan dictator.
Iran cut off access to virtual private networks, or VPNs, that some people use to get around the government’s strict control of the internet. It could be another step toward implementing an entirely domestic internet in Iran.
Former Iranian Official: The Countdown To Attacking Israel Has Begun – ‘With Hopes Of Completely Eradicating [It] From The Planet’
In response to reports on a January 29, 2013 Israeli attack in Syria, Ali Reza Forghani, a supporter of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and former governor of Kish province, published an article titled “Countdown to an Attack on Israel,” calling on Tehran and Syria to take this golden opportunity for a retaliatory strike against Israel that will destroy it once and for all.
In the article, which was published on regime websites, Forghani stated that the war in Syria today is merely the prelude to a nuclear third world war between the “Axis,” led by the U.S., and the “Allies,” led by Iran, that will bring about the end of humanity.
This is not Forghani’s first call to destroy Israel. In a February 4, 2012 article titled “Iran Must Attack Israel by 2014,” he claimed that doing so was a religious obligation, and that Iran was capable of annihilating Israel in under nine minutes.
Previously, on June 10, 2012, a number of regime websites published an article by Forghani in which he called on the Islamic world to assert its right to possess nuclear weapons in order to create a balance of terror with its enemies. He wrote: “Since according to the fatwa of Imam Khomeini all Islamic countries are considered Islamic blood, the Islamic world must awaken from its hibernation and must disturb the sleep of America and Israel, and must shout, ‘An an atomic bomb is our right!’
“Yes,” he continued, “nuclear weapons are a right – and if this right did not exist, Israel would have been destroyed forever 30 years ago… Nuclear weapons are necessary to prevent America from doing whatever it wants. In accordance with the words of Imam Khamenei [sic] ‘As we are attacked, so shall we respond,’ there is a need for a swift response on the atomic-bomb level. Atomic bomb now!”
Ali Reza Forghani
Following is the translation of Forghani’s January 29, 2013:
“Iran Will Rush To The Aid Of Any Country That Attacks Israel And Ends Israel’s Story Once And For All”
“Israel has been warned that the ‘Allies’ in the Syria war will consider it [responsible] for any kind of foreign attack on Syria. Any form of attack on Syria will bring about a devastating attack on Israel. Based on this stated policy, Iran will rush to the aid of any country that attacks Israel and ends Israel’s story once and for all (with Allah’s help).
“This analysis is not aimed at comparing World War II with the war in Syria, but at using several well-known terms already familiar to our readers.
“The new ‘Axis’ includes Israel, America, France, Qatar, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia – countries which, according to the Roberto Pact (Rome, Berlin, Tokyo) can be defined as Axis countries in the Syria war. These countries are the aggressors, and they will strike the first blow.
“Israel is the coordinating center for the Axis countries which opposeSyria. [These] countries consider the current ruling circle in Syria to be depriving and harming their interests in the region. One example of this claim is the position taken by the U.S. following the Israeli attack on Syrian soil, [as expressed by] U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes. [He said:] ‘Syria should not further destabilize the region by transferring weaponry to Hizbullah.’
”Sergei Lavrov (the Russian foreign minister) has acknowledged that the attempt to depose the Assad regime, and change the regime, is part of a greater political game in the region – the ultimate target of which is Iran… In any case, as stated, Iran is the final target of the Axis machinations in the Syria war. The popular revolutions in the region… have an Islamic fragrance and tint; that is why only by destroying Iran can there be a spark of hope that these revolutions that imitate Islamic Iran will not spread to all corners of the earth.
“Of course, the Allies in the Syria war perceive Israel’s existence in the region in the same way – that is, that it conflicts with the existence of several governments and ideologies [in the region – i.e. those of Iran, Syria, and Hizbullah]. So, attacking and completely eradicating Israel from the planet is the only solution to this problem. If this problem isn’t resolved with this golden opportunity, it is not known when there may be another.
“The new Allies are Iran, Russia, Syria, and the Lebanese Hizbullah – countries that, much like the Allies in World War II, are defensive and will deliver the second strike. That is, they will defend [themselves] only after being attacked. These countries can be abbreviated as ‘Risl’ (Russia, Iran, Syria, Lebanon).
“One of the main differences between the Syria war and World War II is the number of major countries involved on both sides. In World War II, the Axis countries – the aggressor and invading countries – were the minority, and the Allies, the victims, were the majority.
“In the Syria war, it’s the reverse. The only victims are Syria and Iran, and just a few countries will come to their aid. But the stubborn rebellious countries that can no longer tolerate the policy inspired by Islamic Iran and Syria’s serving as a bridge between Iran and Hizbullah are more numerous. Even though there are fewer than 10 Axis countries in the Syria war, most of the neutral countries will repeatedly provide them with material and moral support.”
“[Then] World War III Will Erupt… And That Game Will Have No Winners… Once The War Escalates, The Threat Of [Nuclear] Weapons… Will Make The Other Side Launch A Nuclear War”
“Another important difference between World War II and the Syria war that will eventually lead to World War III, is the playing field. Unlike World War II, the Syria war began in a single country; the invading players [intend for it] to end in a second country, Iran.
“But the two wars are also similar: The Allies, with Iran at their center, will shift the game outside these two countries, so that the main game will begin [when] all the countries complying with the Axis interests, with America at their center, are targeted.
“[Then] World War III will erupt… and that game will have no winners. Both sides will lose, because some countries on both sides have nuclear weapons. Once the war escalates, the threat of these weapons… will make the other side launch a nuclear war.
“So nothing can be expected but the destruction of all humanity. But even before nuclear weapons are used, World War III could cost more than five times as many lives as World War II – some 260 million.”
Countdown To An Attack On Israel
“No sane researcher has yet managed to justify Israel’s desperate experiment in attacking Syria on its soil from the air… and we must thank Israel’s senior commanders… for providing Syria, and of course Iran, with this golden opportunity to attack Israel.
“A group of Allied commandos must be dispatched to Syria via [the Syrian port city of] Tartus to completely expel the terrorists [i.e. the rebels] from Syria, in order to [achieve] absolute security stability there. Naturally, after that we must equip and upgrade the Syrian forces for the final blow against Israel, [a blow that will continue] until it is totally destroyed. We must in no way repeat the mistake of the Gaza [war] – accepting a ceasefire.
“It was a mistake to accept the ceasefire with Israel during the Gaza [war]. I repeatedly said that Gaza must not do so, and that the Iranian statesmen shouldn’t have attempted to draw up a ceasefire. Accepting the ceasefire meant [granting] Israel new life, while the Israelis and their false governmentmust not be [allowed] to breathe.
“The Israelis must have no rest, no tranquility. In the recent Gaza-Israel war, some 20 Israelis were killed and over 90 were wounded. Without this shameful event [i.e. Gaza’s agreement to a] ceasefire, there would have been more than 100 Israelis dead and thousands wounded. The Israelis would have lost their nerve, and would have left the occupied territories. Instead of planning an attack in Syria, Israel’s false government would have had a crisis of survival on its hands.”
The Doctrine Of Preemptive Attack According To The View Of The Shi’ite Imam Ali – “With Hopes Of Completely Eradicating Israel From The Planet”
“Because the Allied countries in the Syria war are Muslim, they must read Sermon No. 27 in [the book] Nahj Al-Balaghah [a collection of sermons attributed to the Shi’ite Imam Ali] to the Muslim statesmen and nations – not only out of courtesy, but because implementing [what it says] will ensure the security and happiness of the Muslim nations.
“[In this sermon,] Ali said: ‘…I called on you to fight your enemies – by day and by night, in secret and in the open. I said: Attack them before they fight you. I swear by God, every nation that is attacked on its own soil will be humiliated. But you [who heeded me not] have become weak, and your lot has been misery, and therefore the enemy has attacked you again and again, and conquered your lands… I swear by God, this reality in which the enemies are united in their lies and you are divided in your truth, sorrows and breaks the human heart. They attack you, and you do not attack them. They fight you, and you do not fight them. Such sins towards God satisfy your will. I swear by God that you are fleeing the sword.’
“I have several times declared my positive view of apreemptive attack on Israel – but now that Israel has officially attacked Syrian territory, there remains no excuse for not [waging] a total multipartite attack on Israeli soil, with hopes of completely eradicating Israel from the planet (Allah willing).”
[1 For example: Mashreq, Farda News, Raja News, Jahan News, Asr-e Iran (Iran), February 16, 2013; Serat News (Iran), February 17, 2013.
 See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 793, In Response To Escalating Threats Between West And Iran, Iranian Official Calls On Regime To Attack Israel, February 7, 2012.
 For example: Fars, Jahan News, Bultan News (Iran), June 10, 2012; Asr-e Iran (Iran), June 11, 2012; Jaam News (Iran), June 9, 2012.
Photo: A man votes for Egypt’s draft constitution on Dec. 15. Ed Giles / Getty Images
The biggest problem with Egypt’s new constitution is that it will probably be ignored. By
I spent the holidays with family—Egyptian family. I was born in Egypt, into a Coptic home, a member of the small Christian minority in a predominantly Muslim country. The recent election of Mohammed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood leader, as president, followed by the passage of a new constitution ramrodded through the process by a Muslim Brotherhood-dominated constitutional council has my family on edge. They see the election as a step towards the Islamization of Egypt. So far as I know, every member of my extended family (well over 100 of them) voted against Morsi and then voted against the new constitution.
The US press sees it the same way, reporting on the events in Egypt as steps towards the creation of a new Iran.
Having read the new constitution, I have a different perspective. The risk to Egypt is not that the new constitution will lead to the creation of a theocracy. Rather, the risk to Egyptian freedom and democracy is that the new constitution, which provides a number of good defenses against tyranny, will be ignored.
The constitution is flawed, yes. It fails to separate church and state. It mentions Islam far too often. It is at times needlessly vague and at other times inconsistent. Yet it also, to the surprise of many, provides the sorts of constitutional protections that we enjoy in the United States: freedom of thought, of speech, of movement. It provides protection against government invasion of privacy, against unreasonable search and seizure, against torture and coercion, against arrest without due cause. It guarantees freedom to assemble. It states that health care and basic living needs are fundamental rights. In contrast to the image of an Islamic screed, it provides a constitutional protection of one’s individual faith.
And perhaps most importantly, it places limits on the power of the president.
Let’s look at a few important sections of the new constitution, courtesy of a translation to English by Nariman Youssef of the Egypt Independent. (All emphasis below is mine.)
Freedom of Speech
The new constitution guarantees freedom of thought, opinion, and expression:
Freedom of thought and opinion shall be guaranteed.
Every individual has the right to express an opinion and to disseminate it verbally, in writing or illustration, or by any other means of publication and expression.
Freedom of the Press
Multiple clauses protect freedom of the press.
Freedom of the press, printing, publication and mass media shall be guaranteed. The media shall be free and independent to serve the community and to express the different trends in public opinion, and contribute to shaping and directing in accordance with the basic principles of the State and society, and to maintain rights, freedoms and public duties, respecting the sanctity of the private lives of citizens and the requirements of national security. The closure or confiscation of media outlets is prohibited except with a court order.
Control over the media is prohibited, with the exception of specific censorship that may be imposed in times of war or public mobilization.
The new Egyptian constitution protects the privacy of individuals in their own homes, and the privacy of communications. Indeed, Article 38 provides strongerprotections of electronic communications for Egyptians than Americans have. (Compare the text of article 38, below, to the US Senate’s renewal of warrantless electronic eavesdropping as part of FISA).
The private life of citizens is inviolable. Postal correspondence, wires, electronic correspondence, telephone calls and other means of communication shall have their own sanctity and secrecy and may not be confiscated or monitored except by a causal judicial warrant.
Article 39, which protects the privacy of the home from police, may also be stronger than US constitutional protection, in that it includes the word “monitored”. It also guarantees that anyone in a home entered or searched is alerted, something that’s not true in the US since the advent of ‘sneak and peek’ warrants in the Patriot Act.
Private homes are inviolable. With the exception of cases of immediate danger and distress, they may not be entered, searched or monitored, except in cases defined by law, and by a causal judicial warrant which specifies place, timing and purpose. Those in a home shall be alerted before the home is entered or searched.
The new Egyptian constitution provides citizen access to government documents in a manner similar to the US Freedom of Information Act:
Access to information, data, documents and statistics, and the disclosure and circulation thereof, is a right guaranteed by the state, in a manner that does not violate the sanctity of private life or the rights of others, and that does not conflict with national security.
Arrest and Torture
Under Hosni Mubarak, Egyptians were rounded up for mere political dissent. By contrast, the new constitution provides protection against causeless arrest, the guarantee of a lawyer, and a speedy trial.
Except in cases of flagrante delicto, no person may be arrested, inspected, detained or prevented from free movement except under a court order necessitated by investigations.
Any person arrested or detained must be informed of the reasons in writing within 12 hours, be presented to the investigating authority within 24 hours from the time of arrest, be interrogated only in the presence of a lawyer, and be provided with a lawyer when needed.
The person arrested or detained, and others, have the right of appeal to the courts against the measure of arrest. If a decision is not provided within a week, release becomes imperative. […]
For decades, Egyptians have known that they could be hauled away, forced into confessions, or tortured simply as a threat to keep them inline. The new constitution prohibits that. It also invalidates any confession produced under duress, and makes inflicting “physical or moral harm” to prisoners a crime.
Any person arrested, detained or whose freedom is restricted in any way, shall be treated in a manner preserving human dignity. No physical or moral harm shall be inflicted upon that person.
Only places that are humanely and hygienically fit, and subject to judicial supervision, may be used for detention.
The violation of any of the above is an offense punishable by law.
Any statement proved to have been made by a person under any of the aforementioned forms of duress or coercion or under the threat thereof, shall be considered invalid and futile.
The constitution stipulates that defendants are innocent until proven guilty, are entitled to face those accusing them directly, and are entitled to a lawyer if they can’t provide their own.
No criminal action shall be made except under an order from a judiciary body, save for cases defined by law.
A defendant is innocent until proven guilty in legal trial, and granted the right of defense. Every person accused of a felony shall be provided with a defense lawyer. Minor offenses, in which a defense lawyer is also required, are determined by law. […]
The right of defense in person or by proxy is guaranteed.
The law secures, for financially incapable citizens, means to resort to justice and to defend their rights.
Limits on the President
The real purpose of a constitution is to limit the power of government. Egypt is emerging from more than 50 years of dictatorial rule by three successive dictators. And so it’s no accident that the constitution places limits on the power of the President.
First, real lawmaking authority is spelled out (across a great many articles) as belonging to the two chambers of the legislature, which must both agree. Other powers are divided among the two legislature chambers, the President, and the courts, providing checks and balances in power previously absent in the country.
Second, while Mubarak was in power for nearly 30 years, and the old constitution had no term limits on the presidency whatsoever, the new constitution limits the President to two 4-year terms, just like the United States:
The President of the Republic shall be elected for a period of four calendar years, commencing on the day the term of his predecessor ends. The President may be reelected only once.
Many of the abuses that happened in Egypt over the last 30 years were done under the guise of a ‘State of Emergency’ that lasted for decades. The new constitution addresses this explicitly. It allows for the creation of a state of emergency (which, perhaps, it shouldn’t) but requires that both chambers of the legislature (the House of Representatives and the Shura Council, roughly equivalent to the US Senate) approve the measure.
Moreover, for the emergency to last more than six months, a six month extension must be approved by a public referendum of the people.
The President of the Republic shall declare, after consultation with the Cabinet, a state of emergency in the manner regulated by law. Such proclamation must be submitted to House of Representatives within the following seven days.
If the declaration takes place when the House of Representatives is not in session, a session is called for immediately. In case the House of Representatives is dissolved, the matter shall be submitted to the Shura Council, all within the period specified in the preceding paragraph. The declaration of a state of emergency must be approved by a majority of members of each Council. The declaration shall be for a specified periodnot exceeding six months, which can only be extended by another similar period upon the people’s approval in a public referendum.
The House of Representatives cannot be dissolved while a state of emergency is in place.
Of course, the real complaint about the constitution is that it is Islamist. It blends the church and state. It gives a special place to Islam.
This is all too true. The second article of the constitution makes this clear:
Islam is the religion of the state and Arabic its official language. Principles of Islamic Sharia are the principal source of legislation.
This is made worse by Article 219, near the end of the constitution, which pulls in a non-specific set of other documents and doctrines as the sources for Sharia.
The principles of Islamic Sharia include general evidence, foundational rules, rules of jurisprudence, and credible sources accepted in Sunni doctrines and by the larger community.
This troubles Egyptian liberals and secularists who point out that the historical Islamic doctrines that make up the foundations of Sharia very explicitly treat women and non-Muslims as underclasses, undeserving of the rights afforded to Muslim men.
The constitution, troublingly, also makes it illegal to insult any religion:
Insult or abuse of all religious messengers and prophets shall be prohibited.
The constitution also talks specifically about Al-Azhar, the primary Islamic university and seat of Islamic thought in Egypt.
Al-Azhar is an encompassing independent Islamic institution, with exclusive autonomy over its own affairs, responsible for preaching Islam, theology and the Arabic language in Egypt and the world. Al-Azhar Senior Scholars are to be consulted in matters pertaining to Islamic law.
The post of Al-Azhar Grand Sheikh is independent and cannot be dismissed. The method of appointing the Grand Sheikh from among members of the Senior Scholars is to be determined by law.
The State shall ensure sufficient funds for Al-Azhar to achieve its objectives.
These are the clauses that have generated the most fear that Egypt’s constitution is an Islamist tract and a step towards the next Iran.
Yet even here, there are counteracting forces. Article 4 gives Al-Azhar no real power. It promises funds to the Islamic religion and gives scholars a ‘consulting’ role, but nothing else. And while Article 2 states that Islam is the religion so the state and that Sharia (as vaguely defined in Article 219) is the principle source of legislation, it’s immediately followed by Article 3.
The canon principles of Egyptian Christians and Jews are the main source of legislation for their personal status laws, religious affairs, and the selection of their spiritual leaders.
So Christians and Jews in Egypt have their own sources of legislation. Many have interpreted this article as itself discriminatory because it doesn’t protect the rights of believers of other faiths, such as the Bahá’í. That’s a fully legitimate point.
Yet the document is clearer and more to the point later on:
Freedom of belief is an inviolable right.
The State shall guarantee the freedom to practice religious rites and to establish places of worship for the divine religions, as regulated by law.
And indeed, throughout the document, in the pre-amble and at least 4 other articles, the constitution protects the equality and freedom of individuals without discrimination.
For instance, the Pre-Amble very clearly calls out equality and equal opportunity for all citizens, and specifically men and women.
Pre-Amble Principle 5
Equality and equal opportunities are established for all citizens, men and women, without discrimination or nepotism or preferential treatment, in both rights and duties.
Article 6 bans the creation of political parties that discriminate:
[…] No political party shall be formed that discriminates on the basis of gender, origin or religion.
And Articles 9, 33, and 34 all assert freedom and equality without discrimination for all citizens.
The State shall ensure safety, security and equal opportunities for all citizens without discrimination.
All citizens are equal before the law. They have equal public rights and duties without discrimination.
Individual freedom is a natural right, safeguarded and inviolable.
Undoubtedly these inconsistencies between the very general statements about Islamic Sharia and the more specific statements about equality and freedom will at times come to a head. They’ll be tested in court and in the political process. Much depends – as with the US Constitution – on how the documented is interpreted in later years.
Yet a simple word count is perhaps illuminating. “Sharia” is mentioned three times in the document. By contrast, “equality” is mentioned 11 times. And “freedom” is mentioned 32.
On the Whole
Egypt’s constitution is far from perfect. It places too much emphasis on Islam, and doesn’t go as far as one might like in safeguarding individual rights. It guarantees a trial, but not a trial by jury. It allows military trials for civilians in crimes that affect the military. It contains a troubling clause which makes insults of other people a crime – and which could be used against criticism of those in power. It doesn’t go far enough in spelling out the exact criteria along which people cannot be discriminated against. It has other clauses that are ambiguous or which open the door to state interference in personal matters. The mentions of Sharia as the principle behind the law are vaguely menacing, and leave the door open to assertions that, because Sharia discriminates against women and non-believers and bans many activities, Egyptian law should as well.
Yet when read as a whole, the new Egyptian constitution is far more progressive than has been widely reported. It places limits on the powers of the president. It quite clearly prohibits discrimination, in multiple clauses. It guarantees the freedom of belief, of thought, and of expression. It protects individuals against spurious surveillance, arrest, torture, and other abuses of the police. It enshrines freedom of the press.
As Omar Ashour at the Brookings Institute noted, “the 2012 draft is the least authoritarian [constitution] that Egypt has ever had. Whereas all the other constitutions guaranteed, on paper, a minimum of basic freedoms and elements of social justice, the 2012 draft limits presidential authorities and divides powers between the state institutions.”
On the whole, we should see the constitution as flawed but as very real progress from the state Egyptians lived in under Mubarak and his predecessors.
The real threat is that the constitution—with its expansion of civil liberties for Egyptians and its unprecedented constraints on the Egyptian presidency—will simply be ignored. If that happens, Egyptians will find that they’ve traded one dictatorship for another.
If, on the other hand, Egyptians decide that their constitution is more than just a string of words—if they treat it as the highest law of the land, and as a document whose purpose is to constrain the power of their rulers—then Egyptians will find themselves more free than they’ve ever been.
A Trail of Bullet Casings Leads From Africa’s Wars Back to Iran. By C. J. CHIVERS
The first clues appeared in Kenya, Uganda and what is now South Sudan. A British arms researcher surveying ammunition used by government forces and civilian militias in 2006 found Kalashnikov rifle cartridges he had not seen before. The ammunition bore no factory code, suggesting that its manufacturer hoped to avoid detection.
Within two years other researchers were finding identical cartridges circulating through the ethnic violence in Darfur. Similar ammunition then turned up in 2009 in a stadium in Conakry, Guinea, where soldiers had fired on antigovernment protesters, killing more than 150.
For six years, a group of independent arms-trafficking researchers worked to pin down the source of the mystery cartridges. Exchanging information from four continents, they concluded that someone had been quietly funneling rifle and machine-gun ammunition into regions of protracted conflict, and had managed to elude exposure for years. Their only goal was to solve the mystery, not implicate any specific nation.
When the investigators’ breakthrough came, it carried a surprise. The manufacturer was not one of Africa’s usual suspects. It was Iran.
Iran has a well-developed military manufacturing sector, but has not exported its weapons in quantities rivaling those of the heavyweights in the global arms trade, including the United States, Russia, China and several European countries. But its export choices in this case were significant. While small-arms ammunition attracts less attention than strategic weapons or arms that have drawn international condemnation, like land mines and cluster bombs, it is a basic ingredient of organized violence, and is involved each year and at each war in uncountable deaths and crimes.
And for the past several years, even as Iran faced intensive foreign scrutiny over its nuclear program and for supporting proxies across the Middle East, its state-manufactured ammunition was distributed through secretive networks to a long list of combatants, including in regions under United Nations arms embargoes.
The trail of evidence uncovered by the investigation included Iranian cartridges in the possession of rebels in Ivory Coast, federal troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Taliban in Afghanistan and groups affiliated with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in Niger. The ammunition was linked to spectacular examples of state-sponsored violence and armed groups connected to terrorism — all without drawing wide attention or leading back to its manufacturer.
The ammunition, matched to the world’s most abundant firearms, has principally been documented in Africa, where the researchers concluded that untold quantities had been supplied to governments in Guinea, Kenya, Ivory Coast and, the evidence suggests, Sudan.
From there, it traveled to many of the continent’s most volatile locales, becoming an instrument of violence in some of Africa’s ugliest wars and for brutal regimes. And while the wide redistribution within Africa may be the work of African governments, the same ammunition has also been found elsewhere, including in an insurgent arms cache in Iraq and on a ship intercepted as it headed for the Gaza Strip.
Iran’s role in providing arms to allies and to those who fight its enemies has long been broadly understood. Some of these practices were most recently reported in the transfer of Fajr-5 ground-to-ground rockets to Gaza. Its expanding footprint of small-arms ammunition exports has pushed questions about its roles in a shadowy ammunition trade high onto the list of research priorities for trafficking investigators.
“If you had asked me not too long ago what Iran’s role in small-arms ammunition trafficking to Africa had been, I would have said, ‘Not much,’ ” said James Bevan, a former United Nations investigator who since 2011 has been director of Conflict Armament Research, a private firm registered in England that identifies and tracks conventional weapons. “Our understanding of that is changing.”
The independent investigation also demonstrated the relative ease with which weapons and munitions flow about the world, a characteristic of the arms trade that might partly explain how Iran sidestepped scrutiny of governments and international organizations, including the United Nations, that have tried to restrict its banking transactions and arms sales.
The United Nations, in a series of resolutions, has similarly tried to block arms transfers into Ivory Coast, Congo and Sudan, all places where researchers found Iranian ammunition.
Ammunition from other sources, including China, Russia, Hungary, the Czech Republic and other former Soviet bloc nations remain in circulation in Africa, along with production by African countries. Why Iran has entered the market is not clear, but ammunition would still be available even if it had not. Profit motives as well as an effort by Iran to gain influence in Africa might explain the exports, Mr. Bevan said. But much remains unknown.
Neither the government of Iran nor its military manufacturing conglomerate, the Defense Industries Organization, replied to written queries submitted for this article.
The researchers involved in the investigation — including several former experts for the United Nations and one from Amnesty International — documented the expanding circulation of Iranian ammunition, not the means or the entities that have actually exported the stocks. They are not sure if the ammunition had been directly sold by the Iranian government or its security services, by a government- or military-controlled firm, or by front companies abroad.
TALKS | TEDX
Israel and Iran: A love story?
Canada-Iran Crisis: Canada Accuses Iran Of Subversive Activity On Its Soil
On September 7, 2012, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird unexpectedly announced that Ottawa had severed relations with Tehran, and that all Iranian diplomats were being expelled from Canada. He explained that, as of that date, Canada was considering Iran a terror-sponsoring country and formally listing it as a state sponsor of terrorism under the country’s Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act.
Canada-Iran relations soured in 2003, with the rape and murder of Canadian-Iranian journalist Zahra Kazemi in Iran’s infamous Evin Prison. Since then, Canada has been advancing a proposal for condemning Iran in the U.N. for human rights violations.
Apparently, one of Canada’s motives for unilaterally cutting off relations with Iran was a July 2012 interview given by the cultural affairs attaché at the Iranian Embassy in Ottawa, Hamid Mohammadi, to the Iran-based website for Iranian expatriates in Canada, Iranians Residing Abroad (iranyad.ir). In the interview, he urged Iranian-Canadians to “occupy high-level key positions” and “resist being melted into the dominant Canadian culture.” Also in the interview, he welcomed the increasing numbers of Iranians living in Canada, estimating them at about half a million and deeming this number advantageous for Iran, noting that part of this community, the second generation of which was already integrating into the influential government apparatus, was preserving strong attachments and bonds to its homeland.
Mohammadi went on in the interview to describe Iran’s intention of recruiting Iranian-Canadians to serve Iran under the cover of cultural activity. He said: “By 2031, the total immigrant population of Canada will increase by 64%, and the number of Iranians will increase due to birthrate. So therefore we need to put into effect very concentrated cultural programs in order to enhance and nurture the culture in this fast-growing population. It is obvious that this large Iranian population can only be of service to our beloved Iran through these programs and gatherings.”
Hamid Mohammadi, Iranian cultural affairs attaché at the Iranian embassy in Ottawa
Canada’s Foreign Ministry strongly objected to Mohammadi’s statements, warning Tehran to stop using its embassy in Ottawa to recruit Iranian-Canadians to serve the Islamic Republic’s interests. “Iranian-Canadians have rejected the oppressive Iranian regime and have chosen to come to Canada to build better lives,” a spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said in a statement to the National Post. “The Iranian embassy should not interfere in their choices. Canadian security organizations will act to prevent threats and intimidation of Canadians.”
Following Baird’s announcement, Canadian Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney clarified that his county would not permit members or allies of the Iranian regime from setting up residency in Canada, and that officials were carefully reviewing applications from Iranian nationals to ensure that anyone allied with or part of the Iranian government would not be allowed to enter. He said: “We want to ensure that people who may be inadmissible – that is to say those who perhaps are associated with the [Islamic] Revolutionary Guard, the Qods Force, the Basij, or senior members of the regime – are not admissible to Canada.”
This paper will review Iranian reactions to Ottawa’s severing of relations with Tehran, as well as some of the Iranian regime activity in Canada in recent years.
Iranian Reactions To Canada’s Severing Of Relations
Many regime spokesmen in Tehran tried to downplay the importance of Canada’s move.Others were enraged, and several expressed fears of similar actions by other Western governments. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi said angrily that the reasons given by Canada as justification for the severing of relations – that is, Iran’s disregard of UN resolutions pertaining to its nuclear program and its military support of the Syrian regime – were groundless, and called the Canadian government “an extremist government… that itself helps extremist groups massacre the Syrian people.”
Majlis National Security Committee member Hossein Naqavi called Canada’s closure of its embassy in Tehran “an act of suicide,” and urged the Iranian regime to give Canada a 24-hour deadline to evacuate all of its diplomatic staff in Tehran. Committee member Ahmad Bakhshayesh-Ardestani proposed that the regime respond by boycotting Canadian companies, and committee chairman Mansour Haqiqat-Pour proposed that all Canadian ships passing through the Strait of Hormuz be subjected to inspection.
Britain is behind Canada’s severing of relations with Iran
The regime newspapers also expressed their fury at Canada’s move. An article in Kayhan stated that the Canadian Foreign Ministry is known in international diplomatic circles as a slave of the U.S. and Israel that is willing to commit suicide for their sake.
Canada, the U.S.’s pet devil, turns its back on Iran
On September 10, the Resalat daily called Canada’s severing of relations “political suicide for Ottawa,” adding that the move “reflected the influence of the U.S., Britain, and the Zionist lobby in the Canadian government.” It went on to state: “The Canadian government must pay a steep price for its emotional and irrational judgment… [The severing of relations] will not harm Iran’s progress… The hasty actions of the Canadian government give Iran an opportunity to expose Canada’s aggressive essence… What is important is the price that the [Canadian] government will pay in the future.”
Examples Of Iranian Regime Activity In Canada In Recent Years
The main means through which the Iranian regime operated in recent years inCanada included the Iranian embassy in Ottawa, via the cultural affairs attaché and the Cultural Center of Iran in Canada, which is headed by the attaché; the Islamic Ahlul Bayt Assembly of Canada; and the Center for Islamic Guidance in Toronto, which, according to the online daily Rooz, is a branch of the Qom-based Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute, run by the very conservative Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah-e Yazdi.
1. Anti-West and Anti-Zionist Activity
Along with religious activity, the Iranian cultural attaché in Canada conducted distinctly political activity, spreading the revolutionary, anti-West and anti-Zionist agenda of the Iranian regime. For example, on May 28, 2012, the Cultural Center, which he heads, announced that the “first international independent filmmakers festival,” called “New Horizon,” would be held in Tehran June 30-July 5, 2012. It added that the theme of the festival, the motto of which was “Towards Justice,” would be “the tremendous changes in the world, and the expansion of the wave of [antiestablishment] awakening in Europe, America, and the Islamic countries,” and that it would focus on the following topics:
“1. The international Occupy Wall Street movement
“2. The awakening movements in Islamic countries
“3. Political and social movements in Europe and America
“4. The economic crisis in Europe and America
“5. The role of the Zionist lobby in the current American and European crises
“6. Getting to know prominent political figures opposing global Zionism and imperialism
“7. Resistance against occupiers
“8. “Islamic resistance against the Zionist regime
“9. War threats against Iran and anti-war movements
“10. Thirty four years of Islamic revolution in Iran
“11. Iran phobia and Islam phobia
“12. A world toward sustained justice
“13. A world without Zionism
“14. A World without terrorism and nuclear weapons”
It should be noted that the English version of the website omitted all explicit mention of antiestablishment activity in the West and of anti-Zionist activity.
New Horizon banner, from the website of the Cultural Center of Iran in Canada 
Tehran Seminar On “Islamic Awakening And Liberating The Holy City of Jerusalem,” July 2012
On July 9, 2012, the Cultural Centerof Iran in Canada called on all those interested to submit articles for a seminar to be held August 13 in Tehran, on “The Islamic Awakening and Liberating the Holy City of Jerusalem.” According to the center, the topics on the seminar’s agenda included: “A New Intifada in the Occupied Lands and the Obstacles It Faces”; “The Role of the Media in Actualizing the Liberation of Jerusalem”; and “Drawing Up a Plan to Liberate the Holy City of Jerusalem In Light of the Changes in the Islamic Awakening.”
Marking Qods Day in Canada, August 18,2012
At an August 18 Qods Day ceremony held by the Iranian embassy in Ottawa, a film on the Palestinian resistance was shown. During the ceremony, the chargé d’affaires for the Iranian embassy, Kambiz Sheikh-Hassani, praised the Palestinian resistance, saying: “For nearly 70 years, the Palestinian nation has been imprisoned under the harshest of circumstances in its homeland, and has been confronting the wildest opposition of the most oppressive regime – but to date the exemplary resistance has preserved its existence, its honor, and its faith.”
Abna.ir, which is identified with the Global Al Ahl Bayt organization, based in Qom, Iran, reported that 3,000 people had participated in a Qods Day demonstration in Toronto in August 2012 – among them Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, members of the Jewish ultra-orthodox anti-Zionist sect Neturei Karta, and anti-war groups. According to the report, the demonstrators chanted: “From the river to the sea, Palestine shall be free,” “Yes to Judaism, no to Zionism,” “Long live Palestine,” and “Zionism equals racism.” The speakers at the event congratulated the United Church of Canada, Canada’s largest Protestant church, on its support of a boycott of Israeli products.
Qods Day demonstration, Toronto
2. Exporting Islamic Revolutionary Thought
On June 2, 2012, the Cultural Center of Iran in Canada, in cooperation with the Iranian Culture Association of Carleton University in Ottawa – which is headed by attaché Mohammadi’s son Ehsan Mohammadi – held the 2012 Imam Khomeini Conference at the university; the conference’s title was “The Contemporary Awakening and Imam Khomeini’s Thought.” According to the announcement (below), the speakers were to include Moulana Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi, a founder and senior member of the Ahlul Bayt Assembly, and Phil Wilayto, editor of The Virginia Defender, author, and political commentator for Iran’s Press TV.
Iranian-Canadian academics wrote a letter to Carleton University criticizing its hosting of the conference honoring Khomeini, in which they stated that the conference had provided an academic cover for the spread of Iranian regime propaganda, that it had no academic value, and that it provided no objective analysis of the thought of Khomeini. In response, the university said that it had no connection to the event, and that views expressed by speakers there did not reflect the views of the university as a whole.
3. Activity Of Other Iranian Organizations In Canada
Iran’s religious activity in Canada is carried out by the Islamic Ahlul Bayt Assembly of Canada, which operates on behalf of the Iranian regime and via the Center for Islamic Guidance in Toronto.
The Islamic Ahlul Bayt Assembly of Canada
The Islamic Ahlul Bayt Assembly of Canada is a branch of the Qom-based Global Ahlul Bayt, which is directly subordinate to the office of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. In an interview with an Iranian website affiliated with the Qom seminaries, Muhammad Zaki Baqri, a senior member of the organization, described Khamenei as “one of the boons bestowed by God upon the Islamic world,” and added, “Today we are ready to carry out any order issued by Khamenei, willingly and anywhere in the world, and we will not cease this, even for a moment.”
As stated on the website of the Cultural Centerof Iran in Canada, the Islamic Ahlul Bayt Assembly of Canada, established by the Iranian regime in 1993, aims to “maintain a relationship and coordination among more than 80 Islamic Shi’ite centers in Canada, hold large scientific conferences, and teach the precepts of Islam to all who are interested.”
As early as May 2009, the Iranian website Abna.ir, which, as mentioned above, is identified with the Global Ahlul Bayt, called for spreading Shi’a among the Christians in Europe and NorthAmerica, including Canada, and assessed that Muslims would become a majority on both continents thanks to their high natural birthrate and to Muslim immigration.
The founder and chairman of the Islamic Ahlul Bayt Assembly of Canada, Ayatollah Reza Hosseini Nassab, is an alumnus of the Qom seminaries who studied under Iranian clerics – including Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, the deposed heir to Ayatollah Khomeini. Previously, Hosseini Nassab taught at Qom seminaries and at the Islamic Center in Hamburg, Germany, and established the Ahlul Bayt Assembly of Germany; he is also a founder and a senior partner in nearly two dozen other Islamic centers in Germany, Canada, and Switzerland.During a recent trip home to Iran due to his father’s illness, he gave a speech about “spreading Islam in the Western world.”
Ayatollah Reza Hosseini Nassab
The Center for Islamic Guidance in Toronto
On September 9, 2012, the Rooz online daily reported that the Qom-based Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute was operating a branch in Toronto to train preachers: “In Toronto, there is an Islamic guidance center identified with the Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute, run by [Ayatollah] Mesbah-e Yazdi. The institute, which is considered one of the largest Islamic guidance centers in Toronto, has several hundred religious students and researchers. Ayatollah Mesbah-e Yazdi paid annual visits to Canada until his health deteriorated a few years ago. The Toronto center is the largest center for training preachers operating under his oversight outside Iran.”
The Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute was founded in Qom in 1995, by Ayatollah Mesbah-e Yazdi, with partial funding by the regime. It should be noted that MEMRI research has found no further details on the Toronto center.
*Y. Mansharof is a research fellow at MEMRI.
 Relations went downhill when the Iranian regime rejected Canada’s demand that the events be investigated and the perpetrators prosecuted. Roozonline.com, September 10, 2012. For more on the Zahra Kazemi affair, see Inquiry & Analysis No. 148,
 The interview was apparently removed from Iranyad.ir, but quotes from it were posted on many other websites, for example, http://www.javanonline.ir/vdcfjvdjxw6deea.igiw.html.
 News.nationalpost.com, July 11, 2012. The Tabnak website, identified with Expediency Council secretary Mohsen Rezai, criticized Mohammadi’s statements, claiming that they provided a sufficient pretext for Canadian authorities to subject Iranian-Canadians to pressure and scrutiny. Tabnak (Iran), July 11, 2012.
 Irancultur.ca./farsi, April 2, 2012.
 Nationalpost.com, July 11, 2012.
 The Star (Canada), September 9, 2012.
 For example, Assembly of Experts member and Friday preacher Ahmad Khatami said that Canada is not a significant country and that the severing of relations was trivial and would be bad for Canada. ISNA (Iran), September 9, 2012. Majlis speaker Ali Larijani said that the severing of relations was futile attempt by Canada to downplay Iran’s political achievement in hosting the Non-Aligned Movement conference in August 2012. ISNA (Iran), September 9, 2012. Basij commander Mohammad-Reza Naqdi said that it is the West that needs Iran, not the other way around. ISNA (Iran), September 8, 2012. Kayhan editor Hossein Shariatmadari said that Canada carries no weight at all in the international arena. ISNA (Iran), September 12, 2012. Columnist Hassan Hanizadeh, who is close to regime circles, said that Canada plays no role of any kind in Middle East issues, and that the severing of relations reflects its hasty attempt to isolate Iran, which will fail because it will have no impact on Iran’s relations with the West. ISNA (Iran), September 9, 2012.
 For example, Majlis National Security Committee member Hossein Sobhani-Nia at a committee meeting with Foreign Ministry representatives. Mehr (Iran), September 10, 2012. A similar fear was expressed in an op-ed by academic Davoud Hermidas-Bavand, in the reformist daily Arman (Iran), September 10, 2012.
 Icana.ir, September 20, 2012. Salehi also predicted that Canada’s support for Zionism would lead to popular protests against it.
 Shafaf.ir, September 9, 2012.
 Javan (Iran), September 10, 2012.
 Yjc.ir, September 8, 2012.
 Fars (Iran), September 10, 2012.
 Kayhan (Iran), September 9, 2012.
 Fars (Iran), September 10, 2012.
 Resalat (Iran), September 10, 2012.
 While the English-language website of this center (iranculture.ca) tries to obscure its affiliation with the Iranian embassy and the Iranian regime, the Farsi version of the website (iranculture.ca/farsi) explicitly identifies itself as the website of the cultural affairs attaché at the Iranian embassy. The site states that attaché works, inter alia, to strengthen the relationship between the regime and the Iranian expatriate community in Canada.
 Roozonline.com, September 9, 2012.
 The Canadian National Post daily revealed that Islamic schools in Canada had used antisemitic books imported from Iran. National Post (Canada) May 10, 2012.
 Iranculture.ca/farsi, May 28, 2012.
 Iranculture.ca/farsi, May 28, 2012.
 Qods Day, marked annually on the last Friday of Ramadan, was established by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Revolution regime in Iran, to denote the Iranian aspiration for the liberation of Palestinian lands from Israel.
 Fars (Iran), August 18, 2012.
 Abna.ir, August 21, 2012.
 Iqna.ir, May 30, 2012.
 Macleans (Canada), June 15, 2012.
 See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 2424, Iranian Regime-Affiliated Organization: Europe and America Are Turning Muslim – An Opportunity to Spread Shi’a Islam, June 30, 2009.
 http://iranculture.ca/fa/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=72&Itemid=81. For details on dozens of Islamic Shi’ite centers operating in Canada, see, http://www.hawzah-online.com/hawza/islamic_centers.php, and http://islamabc.org/service1.htm.
 See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 2424, Iranian Regime-Affiliated Organization: Europe and America Are Turning Muslim – An Opportunity to Spread Shi’a Islam, June 30, 2009.
 See Hoseini.org/bio1.htm.
 See Hoseini.org/gall11.htm
 Roozonline.com, September 9, 2012. In May 2007, the Asr-e Iran website reported that Ayatollah Mesbah-e Yazdi went to Canada to give a speech on cooperation and consultation between Shi’ites and Christians at a three-day conference at the University of Waterloo in Canada. Asr-e Iran (Iran) May 27, 2007.
 Sharq (Iran), July 18, 2012.