His brother Jermaine, who converted to Islam some time ago, said to his brother, "may Allah be with you always" at the close of his press conference following Michael's death, and news reports last November did say Jackson made the conversion in Los Angeles at a friends house, which takes him a long way from being a Jehovah's Witness as a child. And if Michael was indeed a Muslim at the time of his death, what does that mean for his funeral arrangements? Islam has very specific rules for burial and for funerals, including a requirement that the body be interred within 24 hours. Obviously, with the coroner's inquest going on, that hasn't happened. And there are some disputes over whether his formal conversion took place at all, combined with what will surely be tremendous pressure to hold a traditional, public funeral. [Picture at left: Jackson seen walking with his youngest son Prince Michael II last year, wearing what looks like a Muslims woman's burqa...]
The more sober state news agency RIA Novosti questioned, wrongly as it turned out, whether an autopsy would be allowed on Jackson — who had reportedly converted to Islam late last year.
Muslim cleric, Damir Gizatullin, vice president of the Russian Council of Muftis, told RIA Novosti that autopsies were forbidden on Muslims and, according to Islamic belief, Jackson should be buried within 24 hours of his death.
... if you think Michelle "Internment Camps" Malkin and her crowd really care one iota about the people of Iran. After all, we're talking about Michelle Malkin -- probably the only brown person ever published by the white supremacist site Vdare, who has never demonstrated any emotion toward Muslims outside of the narrow chasm between hatred and loathing -- theoretically being in favor of people who are out yelling "Allahu Akbar" -- a phrase that is an anathema to people like her. No, I'd guess that the wingers are really after with all their carping about Iran is a plan they can reproduce, and thereby pretend that at long last, they're freedom-fighters, too: fighting Barack Obama (of course) ... maybe even in the streets! Witness this interesting comment thread on Malkin's latest supposedly heartfelt Iran post:
Ladies and gentlemen, I think we may have spotted the next lone gunman. Hopefully someone who knows this weirdo "Elm Creek Smith" will keep one eye on his gun stash, and 911 on speed dial. And what's really scary is that his comments aren't all that far from the recent nuttiness Twittered by Florida's very own Marco Rubio.
By the way, on the not really giving a crap about Muslims but shooting their mouths off anyway front? Throw in the right wing local politicos who probably couldn't find Iran on a map, or think Barack Obama is a Muslim, and probably can't stand Muslims as a rule anyway ... or all three combined. Say ... I wonder if my old pal O'Neal Dozier is a member of the Southeastern Broward Republican Club ...)
With the exception of the "Palestinians are cockroaches" crowd among the Israeli far right, President Obama's speech was received in the Middle East mostly like this:
“I think his performance was marvelous,” said Khalid al-Dakhil, a professor at King Saudi University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. “He seems so much more sympathetic, so much more understanding of the feelings, attitudes and perceptions of Arabs and Muslims. I think it was a speech with a vision, it was designed to set the stage for a new beginning.”
Even the way Mr. Obama began his speech, with his use of the phrase “peace be upon him” after mentioning the Prophet Muhammad, and his opening greeting — “Peace be upon you” in Arabic — struck a chord with many people, particularly in Saudi Arabia, the deeply conservative desert kingdom where Islam was born.
“Starting the speech with the words ‘salaam aleykum’ was a really good approach,” said Ghina Sibai, a 32-year-old art director from Beirut, Lebanon, in comments echoed by others across the Arab world. “Its kind of like a peace treaty. He’s trying to address the Muslim world through its own culture.”
But there were also responses like this, with the Times finding the most skeptics in Syria (or just happening upon some and reporting them as a generalized whole...):
“What is astonishing is that he condemned violence, but he didn’t say a word about what the United States did in Iraq,” said Khalid Saghieh, the executive editor of al Akhbar, a Lebanese daily newspaper that leans towards Hezbollah. “If you want to call for a new beginning, you should at least apologize for tens of thousands of victims in Iraq.”
... “I consider Mr. Obama’s speech a morphine injection to numb the minds of Muslim and Arab people,” said Mr. Abdullah, the Syrian electrical engineer, “so that they don’t mind so much the injustices carried out by the United States in the region, as long as Mr. Obama respects Islamic culture and heritage.”
I think overall, however, it's impossible to characterize the speech as anything but well received in the Muslim world, with caveats. Read more reactions, caveats included, at the Beeb.
Obama told his audience, as I noted above, many things it didn't necessarily want to hear. Indeed the bulk of the 55-minute address was taken up by his discussion of the seven tough issues he identified: violent extremism; Israel; nuclear arms and Iran; democracy; religious freedom; women's rights; and economic opportunity and what he called a "fear of modernity."
But he also told his listeners a lot of things they wanted to hear – his refusal to castigate Islam, even quoting John Adams to that effect ("the United States has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Muslims"), and his repeated invocation of the search for common ground. Obviously, I could hear the speech only through my ears, but it seemed to me that for the most part he found the tonal sweet spot: firm but respectful where in disagreement, asking people to think a little harder and engage in a little more self-contemplation.
Still, the most striking thing to me was the reaction inside that hall in Cairo, where Obama literally, got some brotherly love from the audience, which interrupted him with cries of "we love you!"
The president delivered an historic address at Cairo University. The full text is here. It ended with an incredible flourish, that includes a quote from my favorite book of the Bible: the book of Mathew: We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written. The Holy Quran tells us, Mankind, we have created you male and a female. And we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another.
The Talmud tells us, The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace.
The Holy Bible tells us, Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God's vision. Now that must be our work here on Earth. Here's the speech, courtesy of some diligent Youtubers (good luck trying to watch the speech on CSPAN's website. Their streaming absolutely, categorically, blows. BTW it's amazing, in the age of Youtube, how difficult it still is to get a full rebroadcast of anything newsworthy. Instead, what you get are small clips and soundbites, both on cable news and online...) Anyhoo...
It would, of course, be nice to have the whole thing in one file. If I find such a thing, I'll post it.
President Obama's first speech in a Muslim country took place this morning (our time) in Turkey.
President Barack Obama sought Monday to make American amends with the Islamic world after eight years of tension, declaring in a speech to the Turkish parliament that he is determined to have a “partnership with the Muslim world.”
“Let me say this as clearly as I can: the United States is not – and will never be — at war with Islam,” Obama said in remarks delivered in Ankara. “In fact, our partnership with the Muslim world is critical not just in rolling back the violent ideologies that people of all faiths reject but also to strengthen opportunities for all people.”
Obama’s declaration that the U.S. is not at war with Islam is certain to get huge play throughout the Arab world. ...
... Obama, seeking to mend strains with a critical ally that bridges Europe and the Middle East, acknowledged “difficulties these last few years.”
Turkey, the only majority Muslim country in NATO, refused use of its territory as an invasion route to Iraq.
The CIA's station chief at its sensitive post in Algeria is under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department for allegedly raping at least two Muslim women who claim he laced their drinks with a knock-out drug, U.S. law enforcement sources tell ABC News.
Officials say the 41-year old CIA officer, a convert to Islam, was ordered home by the U.S. Ambassador, David Pearce, in October after the women came forward with their rape allegations in September.
The discovery of more than a dozen videotapes showing the CIA officer engaged in sex acts with other women has led the Justice Department to broaden its investigation to include at least one other Arab country, Egypt, where the CIA officer had been posted earlier in his career, according to law enforcement officials.
Great. Another Bush-era mess for Obama to clean up while trying to restore normal relations with the Muslim world.
Not that everything that happens everywhere is George W. Bush's fault, but the permissive atmosphere created by the Bush administration for both military and intelligence personnel, whether in interrogations that morphed into torture sessions, or the indiscriminate shelling and shooting of Iraqi civilians by CACI and other contractors, clearly the previous commander in chief failed to set the necessary conditions for conduct becoming of the United States. During the high points of the war, American troops were routinely accused of raping Iraqi women on various Arab and Muslim websites (often using faked photos,) and the very real, sexualized abuse and torture of Iraqi men, possibly by both military intelligence and CIA operatives, at Abu Ghraib (not to mention the alleged rape of child prisoners at the facility,) is now infamous in the annals of American history. This sorry situation can only add to the damage.
I just listened to part of Barack Obama's interview on Al Arabiya television tonight (on CNN). My one word reaction: wow. Never, at least not since Jimmy Carter, have I heard an American president speak of respecting the Arab world, and voice so thoughtfully, the hopes and aspirations of the Palestinian people. Obama made the point that members of his family are Muslim -- something he could never say during the campaign -- and he pledged to do all that he could to advance the interests of both Palestinian and Israeli children.
(The London Daily Mail) - Beleaguered pop star Michael Jackson has converted to Islam and changed his name to Mikaeel, it has been claimed today.
The 50-year-old singer, who has previously been photographed wearing a traditional Arab women's veil, reportedly became a Muslim in a ceremony at a friend's house in Los Angeles.
The singer, who was raised as a Jehovah's Witness, is said to have sat on the floor and worn a small hat while an imam officiated at the home of Steve Porcaro, who composed music on his Thriller album.
He is said to have been encouraged by Canadian songwriter David Wharnsby and Phillip Bubal, a producer, who both approached him after he appeared 'a bit down'.
A source told The Sun: 'They began talking to him about their beliefs, and how they thought they had become better people after they converted. Michael soon began warming to the idea.
'An imam was summoned from the mosque and Michael went through the shahada, which is the Muslim declaration of belief.'
Well, changing religions can be a pick-me up ... Now, note the self-serving nature of his brother's support:
His brother Jermaine Friday, previously hinted Jackson was considering converting to the religion.
'When I came back from Mecca I got him a lot of books and he asked me lots of things about my religion and I told him that it's peaceful and beautiful,' said Friday, who embraced the faith in 1989.
'He read everything and he was proud of me that I found something that would give me inner strength and peace.
'He could do so much, just like I am trying to do. Michael and I and the word of God, we could do so much.'
WE??? I smell a Jackson inter-faith reunion tour coming on...!
It's been a swell year in news soundbites. So now, without further ado, here is the ReidReport list of the top 10 zingers, near misses and whoopsies of 2006.
#10. "I hear the voices, and I read the front page, and I know the speculation. But I'm the decider, and I decide what is best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense."-- President Bush explaining to the hard-headed press corps in April that Don Rumsfeld was doing a fabulous job as defense secretary, and that he hears voices ...
#9. "This is the moment to say that there are things in life worth fighting and dying for and one of 'em is making sure Nancy Pelosi doesn't become the speaker." -- Fox News' resident angry Bushophile Sean Hannity, bolstering the GOP faithful the August before the midterm elections, by explaining to them that it might take a suicidal jihad to keep the Democrats from controlling the House of Representatives. And why not! After all, it would be an AMERICAN suicidal jihad...!
#8. "You may end up with a different math, but you're entitled to your math. I'm entitled to 'the' math." -- Former electoral "genius" Karl Rove telling some snotty NPR host on October 24th that he sees tons more polls than stupid NPR does anyway, so he knows for sure that Republicans are going to hold the House and Senate ... not too long after the interview, the Republicans lost the House and Senate...
#7. "You know, education ... if you make the most of it, you study hard and you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq." -- Former presidential candidate John Kerry flubbing a joke, and with the cynical help of "friends" like John McCain and the media mob, throwing his presidential ambitions off what you might call, the permanent cliff...
#6. "I have to tell you, I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, "Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies." -- Tortured radio and cable TV chat host Glenn Beck pleading with 100 percent American, U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota to reassure him that as an American Muslim, he's not secretly working with al-Qaida, as all Muslims tend to side with the terrorists, you know... deep down inside ... their little Muslim hearts...
#5. "Halfrican and, again, his father was -- his father was from Kenya, his mother's white. OK, now, I have nothing with mixed -- nothing against mixed-race people but, my point is, when this guy stands in front of a black audience, pretending like he was born and raised in the hood, and he can identify with their problems, he doesn't allow -- he is not, in my opinion -- 'cause my opinion is your average white guy -- he is not allowed to wear the African-American badge because his family are not the descendants of slaves, OK?" -- Obscure talk radio co-host Brian Sussman showing his ass to the man who could soon be the first African-American president of the United States, Barack Obama.
#4. "This fellow here with the yellow shirt ... Macaca or whatever his name is. ...so welcome, let's give a welcomoe to Macaca over here. Welcome to Virginia and the real world of America." -- Former Virginia Senator George Allen, putting a steak through the heart of his political career, and handing the Senate to the Democratic Party, just be being his lil' old racist self.
#3. "He's a nigger! He's a nigger!!!" -- Washed up comedic actor Michael Richards coming unglued at an L.A. nightclub, and jerking many Africna-Americans out of their closet Seinfeld fix, while simultaneously inspiring "Afro-American" comedians everywhere to give up the N-word. Way to make a difference, Kramer! And can I say, "Macaca!"
#2. "I went there for a massage" -- disgraced pastor Ted Haggard explaining why he was hanging out with a crystal meth-selling male gigolo in Denver, and giving cheating bastards everywhere the best excuse EVER for getting caught in flagrante! Put that one in your excuse baggies for later, Brangelina...!
#1. "Enough is enough!! I have had it... with these muthafuckin' snakes... on this muthafuckin' plane!!!" -- Big screen bad-ass Samuel L. Jackson, proving once again, why he, and he alone, is the soundbite king, this time as the star of the campy classic, "Snakes on a (muthafuckin') plane." Bitches!
And now, here's your bonus soundbite of the day. Enjoy!
"The irony is, what they really need to do is to get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit, and it's over " -- President Bush at the G8 summit this summer, chowing down on buttered rolls (like a holstein cow, or a prison inmate fresh out of solitary, you pick your visual...) discussing the vagueries of Middle East foreign policy with the U.K. prime minister, and introducing the Brit-deflating phrase, "yo, Blair!" into the universal lexicon. My, how Her Majesty's empire has fallen...