Belgian police arrest Muslim student for joking

Mohamed Ouaamari

Translated from Nathalie De Bisschop in Belgium:

Student who was arrested for tweet: “People are so afraid of Islam that they don’t see humour”

October 1, 2015

“I still really do not good feel good about it,” says Mohamed Ouaamari to newsmonkey. The 24-year-old student Digital Design was arrested in Antwerp yesterday because he was suspected of terrorism after a tweet that was meant to be funny. “I regret that it has caused so much rumour and that people became scared, but my tweet really had nothing to do with terrorism”, says the young Muslim. “Sometimes we need a bit more perspective.”

A practical joke with hidden cameras, it seemed at first sight. “I did not quite understand what was happening. I really thought it was a joke,” Mohamed Ouaamari tells newsmonkey. “At the moment they handcuff you, you realize quickly that it is not a joke.”

It all began with a playful remark on Twitter. The young Muslim of Moroccan ancestry was at a student event about networking and started to tweet. He asked for some advice from his followers: “Has anyone any networking tips? To call loudly “Allahu akbar” probably is not a good way to break the ice” he joked.

“Allahu akbar” (God is the greatest) is a phrase often used by all kinds of Muslims. It has nothing to do with terrorism. Just like if people from Christian backgrounds uses phrases like “Good Lord” or “God bless you” that does not make them terrorists.

Also, Mohamed Ouaamari’s tweet did not advocate using “Allahu akbar”.

One of his followers challenged the young man, all smiling and joking, to try. “Tomorrow in the news: 25 dead and 93 injured after mass hysteria in the ING building,” Ouaamari tweeted back.

Some concerned citizens called the emergency services, which caused police intervention to evacuate the building. Ouaamari had to come to the police station where he was interrogated for hours and then he was allowed to leave without charges.

Context and regret

A joke can be misinterpreted, the student fully understands. Quite apart from the fact that the tweet was humorous, there is, according to the student also nothing wrong with that. “When I posted my tweet, I did not suspect for a second that it could be interpreted as a terrorist attack,” responds Ouaamari. “I actually had Mecca in mind, where this year many pilgrims died.”

“I regret that it has caused so much fuss,” Ouaamari adds. ” … I wish I could have avoided that.” The ambitious Antwerp young man has still not completely recovered from what happened to him. “It seems like a cool story, but that it is absolutely not.”


Meanwhile, the hashtag #JeSuisMohamed is eagerly used on social media to express support for the young Muslim. “I think that’s far too focused on sensation and my situation has absolutely nothing to do with that of Charlie Hebdo“, he emphasized.

Yet there is some irony in the hashtag. “Once people talked about complete freedom of opinion and it was said that any humour should be allowed. It appears now that there surely are limits,” Ouaamari explains. “Do not get me wrong, of course I understand that limits must exist, but sometimes we need a bit more perspective. People are so fearful when it comes to Islam that they lose sight of humour,” he says to newsmonkey.

The young man does not let his head hang down. “I will continue to seize opportunities. I will continue to fight for my dreams and my ideals. We are young, we are the future and we must join in improving this country. I’m always going to keep doing my best,” he concludes.

Also here is his blog post after the recent events.

War on Syria, by British satirist Mark Steel

This video from Britain says about itself:

Mark SteelStop the War Coalition – Afghanistan Time to GO! Part 1(of 2)- 26.07.10

By comedian Mark Steel from Britain:

Bomb both sides in Syria and we’ll fix the country in a jiffy

We could also bomb Hell, and within a month the residents would say ‘We were better off under Satan’

Thursday 24 September 2015 18:18 BST

Some people get confused by events in Syria, but they’re not that complicated. Quite simply, we need to bomb somewhere or other out there, like we should have done two years ago. Back then we should have dropped bombs to support the Isis rebels fighting against the evil Assad. But as we didn’t bother, we now need to put that right by bombing the Isis rebels, and protecting Assad.

Because if only we had bombed Assad back then, it would be much easier to bomb Isis and their allies now, as we would be one of their allies so we could bomb ourselves. And we could do that without the fuss of going all the way to Syria, which would cut down on carbon emissions as well.

Also, we could ask Isis if they had any bombs left over that we had given them, “as we need them back to bomb you please”.

The change has happened because back then, you may recall, Assad was so unspeakably evil he had gassed his own people. But now we have decided we support Assad so I suppose we have found out the gas wasn’t so much a chemical weapon as a Syrian version of Febreze, that has left Aleppo with an alluring scent of lemon.

Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned against bombing, saying “Syria is not Libya, it won’t implode but explode beyond its borders.” So that might not be too cheery, if he is saying things will not necessarily go as smoothly as they have turned out in Libya.

If you were really fussy, you could look for another example of a western invasion in the Syria/Iraq region in the recent past, and find out how well that went. But where we went wrong in Libya and Iraq, is we only bombed one side.

This is the sort of pacifist behaviour that causes the trouble. We should have bombed all the different sides, to make sure we annihilate the right people.

Sometimes we have tried this to a certain extent, so at different times we have armed Assad and Gaddafi and Saddam and Bin Laden and then bombed them for using the bombs we had sold them. But it is not organised properly and leaves the poor sods confused.

Instead of supporting Arab dictators for 20 years, then opposing them for three, and then supporting them again, we should arrange it on a rota system. We could bomb them on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, bomb their opponents on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and leave Sundays for US construction companies to make some money rebuilding the stuff we have bombed, so there is something new to bomb.

Otherwise we are left with the predicament Tony Blair finds himself in. He complains that we didn’t bomb Assad two years ago. But, in 2002, Blair invited Assad to stay at Buckingham Palace and praised his modernising outlook. If he had used my suggested system, he could have grovelled to him on Thursday, then bombed him in his bedroom on Friday. I’m sure the Queen wouldn’t have minded sleeping on a mate’s settee for a couple of weeks while builders repaired the damage.

The silly thing is, it’s now claimed there are secret units of the IRA – who have kept their weapons against the rules of the peace process. It would have kept them out of mischief if they had been asked to bomb Blair’s pals such as Assad and Gaddafi, as long as they did it on one of the agreed days, and it would have strengthened the Northern Ireland peace process as well.

There could also be a surprise element to which side we bomb, with vast commercial potential. Instead of the same predictable places popping up, there should be an international body that chooses the venue, with Sepp Blatter opening an envelope to reveal “next year the place we have to bomb as we can’t just do nothing is… Finland”.

Then, whenever someone suggests bombing Finland will make things worse, columnists and politicians and blokes in pubs can shout “well, we can’t do NOTHING”.

This argument, that we can’t do NOTHING, is powerful and well thought through, because it’s clear from Western military interventions in the Middle East that no matter how bad the situation is before we go there, we manage to make it worse. This must have taken immense planning in Libya, but was worth it because everyone seems to agree that most of the country looks back on their days under the foul, despotic, murderous tyranny of Gaddafi with a dreamy nostalgic affection.

We could bomb Hell, and within a month the residents would say “We were better off under Satan. At least he kept the demons under some sort of control.”

Maybe the problem is we are not entirely trusted. This goes to show what a touchy people they are out there. We do all we can to support the spread of democracy by arming the royal family of Saudi Arabia and the Amir of Kuwait and the honourable folk who rule Qatar, and go out of our way to support people with titles such as “Mighty Wizard of Eternal Vengeance and Holy uber-King who can make up laws as he goes along, Divinely Grand Swisher of the Majestic Whip and his Million Wives of Bahrain”, and the little sods still doubt our honourable intentions.

But now there is an even more urgent reason to back the bombing of somewhere or other, which is we must do it for the refugees. The Sun newspaper, in particular, has been running a campaign that we “Do it for Aylan”, the three-year-old lad who was drowned as his family fled from the horrors of Isis.

I suppose they must have spoken to Aylan’s family, who would have told The Sun that bombing somewhere or other is exactly what he would have wanted.

U.S. gives up effort to train Syrian opposition forces: here.

Donald Trump and United States media, animated cartoon

This satiric animated cartoon video by Mark Fiore from the USA says about itself:

21 September 2015

Now that the media sun revolves around the Trump, we all must become accustomed to seeing everything as it relates to The Donald. People, particularly cable news, just can’t avoid the delicious catnip that is Donald Trump. He’s a ratings bonanza in the form of a strange, entertaining billionaire demagogue. But, hey, he makes for good teevee— although he doesn’t make for good Democracy, but who cares, this is about ratings and fun!

Methinks this is what happens when the two predetermined “frontrunners” are from rehashed old political dynasties. People want new and different fun, entertainment, and off-the-cuff jokes and jabs. Now if only we could find someone who had all that AND good solid policy positions on foreign policy, the economy and global warming.

Mostly missed while we watch the Trump spectacle are things like Bernie Sanders‘ twenty-two (22!) points lead over Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire. (I guess the Trump distraction might come in handy for some people.) It used to be that the presidential campaign was covered like a horse race, now it seems to be covered like a wrestling match on the hood of a greased NASCAR covered in Trump and/or Koch logos. Enjoy the cartoon, pass it along to your favorite Trump fan and check out the news behind the ‘toon.

SCOTT WALKER DROPS OUT OF THE RACE The once-prominent GOP contender suspended his campaign indefinitely Monday amid polling and fundraising woes, and called for other candidates to do the same. Other campaigns were quick to court his donors, and a former top aide explained how his campaign went south so fast. [Marina Fang and Igor Bobic, HuffPost]

Australia’s rightist Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s downfall

This 25 August 2013 video from Australia says about itself:

Tony Abbott and gay marriage satire

Today: Malcolm Turnbull ousts Tony Abbott to become Australia’s 29th prime minister – politics live: here.

Warmonger, promoter of racism, phone hacking and burglary Rupert Murdoch said on Twitter today:

Sad to see such a decent man as Abbott toppled.

From Huffington Post Australia, with video there:

Tony Abbott‘s Gaffes, Mistakes And Slip-Ups

It was on — and now we have a new Prime Minister.

Malcolm Turnbull toppled Tony Abbott on Monday.

In two short years Abbott compiled a long list of achievements as Prime Minister, and much of what he said made significant headlines.

This video from Australia says about itself:

31 March 2013

Tony Abbott – Biggest Blunders

The ousting of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his replacement by Malcolm Turnbull in a leadership spill within the ruling Liberal Party, was all over on Monday in a matter of hours. For the third time in five years, the Australian population awoke yesterday to find the government changed, behind their backs, as a result of sordid scheming and manoeuvres by small cabals of powerbrokers operating on behalf of powerful corporate interests: here.

Corbyn ‘insane’ for not invading Iraq, Tony Blair says

Tony Blair, Jeremy Corbyn, and the Iraq war

From the British satirical site The Daily Mash:

Corbyn insane not to invade Iraq, says Blair


JEREMY Corbyn’s lack of a plan to invade Iraq would spell disaster for Labour, Tony Blair has claimed.

The former prime minister attacked Corbyn’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ politics, saying Labour would be unable to win future elections without a huge war instigated by right-wing Americans.

Blair said: “He clearly has no plans for an invasion of Iraq, which is an insult to British voters who so wisely put their faith in me, George W. Bush and Jesus.

“He needs to ditch this drivel about taxing the rich and set out his bombing plans. Right now, I don’t know who he wants to bomb, or if he even wants to bomb at all.”

He added: “In politics you’ve got to be realistic. That’s why the next Labour leader needs to re-invade Iraq using these special robot soldiers I’ve drawn and coloured in myself.

“They’re nuclear and have lasers.”

Iraq war questions Chilcot won’t ask, let alone answer: here.

Nazi march in Liverpool, England, no way

This parody video from England, based on the film Downfall on Adolf Hitler’s last days, says about itself:


15 August 2015

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Neonazis planning to come back for more

Wednesday 2nd September 2015

ANTI-FASCISTS in Liverpool are mobilising against a second bid by neonazi group National Action to stage a White Man March in the city.

They plan to humiliate the neonazis as they did on August 15, when 1,000 anti-fascists vastly outnumbered the racists, preventing their march and forcing them to take shelter in the lost luggage room of Lime Street station.

in their second attempt the neonazis will assemble at the pier head on Saturday September 12 at 1pm.

Anti-fascists will be there at noon.

A statement from Merseyside Jewish Representative Council said: “This march does not just affect the Jewish community, it affects all ethnic groups, races and cultures and has no place here in Liverpool or anywhere else in the UK.”