SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) Presidents typically have a short window of opportunity in their second terms to ink major accomplishments, and the next few weeks will offer President Barack Obama a key test of his ability to do just that.
Congress returns from its recess Monday to begin work on central components of Obama’s second-term agenda. Their work over the next two months could begin to cement, just four months into Obama’s second term, the president’s political legacy.
A grand fiscal deal, immigration reform and tougher gun laws topped Obama’s second term agenda when he outlined them during a Dec. 30 appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
All three of those priorities have, so far, eluded Obama over the past few months; whether the president can manage a victory on any of these issues could be decided in coming weeks.
Obama will release his own budget on Wednesday, following on the heels of divergent House GOP and Senate Democratic budgets that the respective chambers passed before last month’s holiday recess. The broad outlines of the president’s budget were parceled out by the White House on Friday, detailing proposals to make some cuts in entitlement benefits as well as calls for additional taxes on the wealthy. The president’s budget essentially maintained the “grand bargain” framework he offered to House Republicans last year.
And as lawmakers face a mid-May deadline to extend the government’s borrowing authority, or risk default on the national debt, they’ll look to the new proposal for any sign of breaking the fiscal logjam that’s characterized much of the president’s first term.
Republicans were quick to dismiss the president’s call for new taxes, something they have said is off the table in the wake of the fiscal cliff deal at the end of the year which included the expiration of many of the Bush-era tax cuts. “At some point we need to solve our spending problem, and what the president has offered would leave us with a budget that never balances,” House Speaker John Boehner said on Friday. The GOP’s stiff resistance amid the coming debt ceiling deadline would make for a tense series of wrangling between the White House and Capitol Hill on its own.
Fiscal battles over tax hikes and automatic “sequester” spending cuts have taken their toll on Obama’s popularity; U.S. adults narrowly voiced a favorable opinion of Obama, 49 percent to 45 percent, in a Quinnipiac University poll last week.
But two other cornerstones of the president’s second-term domestic agenda – gun legislation and immigration reform – could sink or swim as early as this month.
bipartisan group of senators has been working over the holiday recess to put the finishing touches on comprehensive immigration reform legislation that would give undocumented immigrants a pathway to U.S. citizenship. After having secured support for a guest worker component of the plan from both business and labor groups over the recess, formal legislation could come as soon as this week.
But Obama himself seemed to acknowledge during a fundraiser last week in California that immigration could face much smoother sailing in Congress than his other initiative, stricter gun laws.
"I am very optimistic that we get immigration reform done in the next few months," he said. "It's going to be tougher to get better gun legislation to reduce gun violence through the Senate and the House that so many of us I think want to see, particularly after the tragedy in Newtown. But I still think it can get done if people are activated and involved."
To that end, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said before the holiday recess that he planned to introduce new gun legislation this month. But the base legislation would not include a measure to reinstate the assault weapons ban; it would, however, look to require background sales for all gun purchases.
That proposal isn’t even guaranteed to survive in the Senate. A group of conservative senators have vowed to require Democrats to produce the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster, meaning the legislation would need some degree of Republican support – which is very much an open question.
Moreover, victory in the Senate could mean very little given the gauntlet any of these three initiatives would face in the House. Speaker John Boehner, the top House Republican, has offered little more than assurances that the House would “consider’ any legislation on guns or immigration sent its way by the president.
And, following the legislating this spring and summer, the window for further Obama accomplishments will begin to close as the rhythms of the 2014 and 2016 elections subsume a lame-duck presidency. Even as he spoke at a fundraiser on Wednesday for those 2014 elections, the president asserted his commitment to trying to achieve as much as possible before the campaign season takes over.
“My intention here is to try to get as much done with the Republican Party over the next two years as I can, because we can’t have perpetual campaigns,” Obama said. “And so I mean what I say: I am looking to find areas of common ground with Republicans every single day.”
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Should Congress approve a proposition included in an agriculture bill up for vote this week, biotech companies like the Monsanto Company could win yet another victory in Washington.
The US House of Representatives is expected to weigh in on the Agricultural Appropriations Bill for Fiscal year 2013 this week, and included within the act lies the “Farmer Assurance Provision,” a small subsection that has so far earned opposition from hundreds of thousands family farmers, environmental interest groups and other advocates. Those hoping to defeat the bill have gone so far as to dub the provision the “Monsanto Protection Act.”
Small time agriculturists have increasingly spoken out against biotech companies in recent years, as giants like Monsanto have made millions off of genetically engineering crops that traditional plants simply can’t match up with. Additionally, Monsanto has taken a slew of farmers to court over questionable patent infringement suits, almost always winning the help of high-powered attorneys. Now if the Farmer Assurance Provision is approved by Congress, GMO companies will once again be allowed an advantage from their friends in Washington.
If the provision is approved this week, biotech companies won’t have to wait for federal approval to test and plant laboratory-made crops, instead being allowed to carry on with even selling such crops until the government elects to tell them otherwise.
“The provision would strip federal courts of the authority to halt the sale and planting of an illegal, potentially hazardous GE crop while the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) assesses those potential hazards,” explains a letter to the House that has been signed by dozens of food businesses and retailers, as well as interest groups and agencies representing family farmers. “Further, it would compel USDA to allow continued planting of that same crop upon request, even if in the course of its assessment the Department finds that it poses previously unrecognized risks.”
The group Food Democracy Now has started a campaign on their own and is asking opponents of the bill to sign on with an amendment to the appropriations bill, the DeFazio Amendment, which would ensure that judicial oversight will continue to apply to GMOS.
The Farmer Assurance Provision, says the group, “strips the rights of federal courts to halt the sale and planting of genetically engineered crops during the legal appeals process.”
“The judicial review process is an essential element of US law and serves as a vital check on any Federal Agency decision that may negatively impact human health, the environment or livelihoods. Yet this provision seeks an end-run around such judicial review by preemptively deciding that industry can set its own conditions to continue to sell biotech seeds, even if a court may find them to have been wrongfully approved.”
In the letter undersigned by the ACLU, National Organic Coalition and others, the signees say,
“Far from safeguarding farmers, the only parties whose interests are ‘assured’ by this rider are those of GE crop developers.”
Monsanto has already proven it has friends in Washington, as a landmark patent case currently before the Supreme Court is expected to go in favor of the biotech giants. Now opponents of the pro-GMO provision in the appropriations bill are calling the amendment the “Monsanto Protection Act” and hope that a grassroots campaign will keep the industry leaders from having one more unfair advantage over small time farmers.
Meanwhile, the market value for Monsanto Company hit a 52-week high on March 11, and is expected to continue with that kind of momentum throughout 2013, predicts Zacks Consensus Estimates.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – In addition to an 8-inch Galaxy Note tablet, Samsung will likely launch the next generation of its Galaxy Tab series at Mobile World Congress.
Rumours have been circulating that the Korean company is testing 8- and 10.1-inch variations of the new tablet, aimed at both entry- and high-level markets. GLBenchmark, a place where new devices hide in plain sight, has an entry for a Samsung product with a model number of GT-P3200, also known by the codename Santos.
SamMobile recently speculated that Santos was the name used internally by Samsung to refer to the entire Galaxy Tab 3 family, which breaks down into 8-inch and 10.1-inch versions, the latter coming in at two price points. In addition to a modestly-priced version of the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1, Samsung is expected to reveal a Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 Plus with the same display resolution as the Nexus 10, 2560×1600 pixels.
Going back to the leaked benchmark, the GT-P3200 looks to align with the 8-inch Galaxy Tab 3 (no more 7-inch model, apparently — even tablets are going up in size), with a 1280×800 pixel display, a 1.5Ghz CPU of unknown cores, running Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean. No other specs are available, but we’ll sure to learn more in the coming weeks.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –The US government is reportedly considering requesting details from banks of foreigners holding accounts in America. The news follows US demands for details of foreign nationals’ accounts abroad.
Labeled ‘part of a crackdown on tax evasion’, the US will potentially have access to the details of millions of foreign customers who hold accounts with America-based branches, according to Reuters. The move is expected to face strong resistance from the banking industry.
Wealthy foreigners and financial institutions that bank in the US could have their account details given to the US government. The Obama administration is expected to make the request of Congress in a forthcoming Whitehouse budget proposal.
The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) already requires overseas financial companies to identify their American customers to the Internal Revenue Service.
In January this year, Switzerland’s oldest bank, Wegelin & Co., was forced to close after the US imposed a $22 million fine on the institution, alongside restitution of $20 million to the IRS, and a $15.8 million fee. The bank was accused of allowing American nationals to hide their earnings after US judge gave the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) permission to obtain data on the bank from Swiss financial institution UBS. On January 5th, a Manhattan federal court ruled the information on Wegelin & Co’s former clients could be demanded by the US.
It’s highly possible that the new proposal will be part of a move to aid negotiations with foreign financial agencies. Reuters published part of a letter written last October by Mark Mazur, Treasury Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy, saying that the government aimed “to pursue equivalent levels of reciprocal automatic exchange in the future.” America is requesting data from foreign sources even now, and some are resisting its pressure. If successful, it is likely further fines will be imposed.
Bilateral agreements mean that four countries have already started sharing information on the finances of their US residents – the United Kingdom, Denmark, Ireland and Mexico. The US is negotiating with another 50 countries.
Many have been unable to meet the US’s requirements as they would come into direct conflict with local privacy laws.
Some countries, including France, Germany and China have been delaying the sharing of information, as they consider it one-sided and unreasonable that they are expected to share details of the US accounts of French, German and Chinese nationals abroad. However, the US has already progressed in their negotiations with the three.
Reuters said that although China appears reluctant to comply, the country is in ‘behind the scenes’ discussions.
FATCA requires financial institutions (non-US banks and investment funds) to inform the IRS about accounts held by those from the US with balances of more than $50,000. They face economic restrictions should they fail to provide data. FATCA was set into motion in 2010, and will come into play towards the end of 2013.
The IRS held an ‘offshore amnesty’ in October 2011, which offered the opportunity for people with money in offshore bank accounts to come forward, before the IRS found them through data sharing.
Switzerland is following the UK and signed a FATCA deal with the US in December 2012, which is due to come into play in January 2014. Switzerland attracts many rich foreigners and has already been subject to US action.
“The United States is committed to a policy of transparency and equivalence, where appropriate, in furtherance of international cooperation to combat offshore tax evasion,” said a Treasury spokesman.
Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (FDPIC) stated in 2012 that the model for the agreement raised numerous privacy and data protection concerns. FDPIC’s 19th annual report called the agreement effectively an ‘automatic exchange of information,’ adding “We are very critical of this law that has been imposed unilaterally by the United States.”
On January 18th, the European commission also warned the Swiss over its tax practices, saying that if the country did not agree to an automatic exchange of information, it would be ‘blacklisted’, and sanctions could be imposed-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - It was by design, certainly no accident, that the Chinese Communist Party 18th Congress went off without a hitch.
As in past decades, the Congress was a tightly controlled and scripted event.
In Beijing, a ban was imposed on the sale of knives and toy airplanes, the latter apparently over fears that anti-government leaflets might be sent flying.
Taxi drivers were ordered to disable the back the windows of their vehicles, so passengers intending to spread subversive messages inside balloons and ping pong balls could not toss them out.
"Look for passengers who intend to spread messages by carrying balloons that bear slogans or ping-pong balls bearing reactionary messages," read a notice to taxi drivers that was posted on microblog Sina Weibo.
But it was not just physical restrictions imposed. On the internet, there were developments that suggest Chinese authorities increased online censorship efforts to keep any dissent at bay.
Last week, Google's transparency report - which gives information about the "flow of information" related to its tools and services - showed a sharp drop in traffic from China.
The China-based website GreatFire.org, which monitors the internet in the country, reported a number of Google websites, including the search engine and Google mail, were "DNS poisoned in China". DNS stands for Domain Name System, the database that makes the internet work.
Founder of GreatFire.Org, Martin Johnson, a pseudonyn he uses to protect his identity, said the blocking of Google websites was "unprecedented". Johnson believes the action was taken by Chinese censors.
"We don't know exactly what is going on, but I don't think it was a mistake because all Google websites were unblocked shortly after [the Congress ended]. Maybe they were afraid of the reactions to it or maybe they were just testing it," said Johnson.
Google did not respond to a request for a comment, nor did key Chinese officials. In the past, however, officials have explained their committment to information control.
"While safeguarding a good internet market order, the improved management [of the internet] aims to stop the spread of harmful information online and clean cyber space," Miao Wei, China's minister for industry and information technology told a conference in September.
History of censorship
Many foreigners in China rely on programmes called virtual private networks (VPN) to circumnavigate what is popularly called the "Great Chinese Firewall" in order to access blocked websites.
In recent weeks, a number of companies that provide VPN services have reported interference and blocks in China. At least one VPN company linked these problems to the Congress in Beijing.
"These have been the most draconian few days of internet restrictions I have experienced," Bill Bishop, an American living in China since 2005, wrote in a column in The New York Times on Monday.
Internet censorship in China is nothing new and many websites, including Facebook and Twitter, are permanently blocked.
With more than 500 million internet users, China has the largest online population in the world. But according to the independent watchdog Freedom House, the Chinese government:
"…maintains an elaborate apparatus for censoring and monitoring Internet and mobile-telephone communications. The authorities block websites or force deletion of content they deem politically threatening, and detain those who post such information."
Johnson - a China-based American - said he believes if there was no censorship, the government, "would lose power".
"They have been very good at censorship every since they came to power. It is one of the big constants," he said.
It is not unusual for internet censorship to increase around important political events or dates. Johnson said June 4, the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, is one such date.
"On Chinese websites, all the terms that could be connected with it are blocked. But then many of them are unblocked again as soon as the event is over," Johnson said.
Rachel Lu, a founder and editor of TeaLeafNation.com, an emagazine that analyses Chinese social media, said the government:
"…wants to present a harmonious China at the time of these big political events. The Internet is a place of potential discord and inharmonous speech. Particularly with this 18th Congress because of the leadership transition and the speculation about the Politburo Standing Committee, they don't want speculation on this."
Two high-profile websites that have in recent months felt the wrath of Chinese internet censors are The New York Times and Bloomberg. The New York Times website was blocked last month after it published an investigation on the wealth of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's family. Bloomberg's website suffered a similar fate in June when it reported on the assets Xi Jinping's family. Jingping was announced as the leader of the Communist Party on Thursday.
Social media usage in China has exploded with more than 200 million microblog users last year.
While the Chinese authorities like to use social media to guage public opinion, they also take steps to ensure any dissent or criticism are controlled. Posts on social media websites, such as the popular microblogging site Weibo, relating to sensitive topics are frequently deleted, said Lu.
Scaling the 'Great Firewall'
Companies that run these sites are directed by the government and aid them in their censorship efforts by blocking certain search terms, deleting posts or shutting down discussions, she added.
"They see something that potentially might be of interest to the government and they delete it. And they collaborate with the government, if government censors want them to delete something they do," said Lu.
But she doesn't believe the companies are willing cooperators. "If they don't do this, they wouldn't be able to operate their platforms in China," she said.
However, savvy social media users in China have found creative ways to discuss sensitive topics without alerting the censors. Often they will use similar sounding words to the those that are not allowed in order to freely discuss certain issues.
Many posts relating to the 18th Congress were deleted. To get around this, some Chinese netizens have replaced the Chinese phrase commonly used to refer to the Congress, Shiba da, with the similarly sounding word Sparta.
There was little indication during the leadership transition that the new leaders will loosen their grip on the Internet.
"All indications are that there are no plans to loosen up censorship online" Lu said. "I'm not optimistic that it will be different over the next few years."
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – China's Communist Party is bringing their National People's Congress to a close, a day before unveiling its leaders for the coming decade.
President Hu Jintao and premier Wan Jiabao are expected to step down in favour of the anointed successors, Vice President Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang in what would be only the second orderly transfer of power in 63 years.
The party's 2,200-plus delegates filed into Beijing's Great Hall of the People in the morning to select members of the Central Committee, a panel of a few hundred people that approves leadership positions and sets broad policy goals.
"I now announce that the 18th Chinese Communist Party Congress has come to a victorious conclusion," Hu told delegates.
But the next lineup in China's apex of power, the Politburo Standing Committee, will be announced only on Thursday.
Though congress and Central Committee delegates have some influence over leadership decisions, most of the lineup is decided among a core group of the most powerful party members and elders.
Al Jazeera's Mike Hanna, reporting from Beijing, said: "The delegates have elected a committee which will elect a Politburo and the Standing Committee which is the apex of the power for the next decade."
The voting concluded in the late morning, and the state Xinhua News Agency said in a report that Xi and premier-in-waiting Li had been voted onto the Central Committee.
All the other eight leading officials who have been tipped as possible members of the Standing Committee also made it on to the Central Committee, according to Xinhua.
That includes North Korean-trained economist Zhang Dejiang, financial guru Wang Qishan, minister of the party's organisation department Li Yuanchao, Tianjin's party boss Zhang Gaoli, and the conservative Liu Yunshan, who has kept domestic media on a tight leash.
Hu and senior leaders mostly in their late 60s are handing over power to Xi, 59, and colleagues of his generation over the next several months.
Li, currently vice premier, already was tapped five years ago to be the country's next premier, China's top economic official.
The congress is a largely ceremonial gathering of representatives - mostly carefully selected from the national and provincial political and military elite who have met to endorse a work report delivered by Hu at the opening a week ago.
The real deal-making for the top positions on the Standing Committee is done behind the scenes by the true power-holders.
Aside from appointing Central Committee members, delegates assembled inside the Great Hall of the People were tasked with selecting the membership of the party's internal corruption watchdog, the Central Discipline Inspection Committee, and with voting on amendments to the party's charter.
After the congress ends, the Central Committee meets on Thursday to select the next Politburo and from that, the Politburo Standing Committee, largely on the advice of influential leaders.
The leaders also will select new members of the party's Central Military Commission, which oversees the 2.3 million member People's Liberation Army.
It is unclear if Hu will relinquish his position at the head of the commission or hold on to it for a period after retirement, as past leaders have, to retain influence.
Hu will remain president until March.
China's leadership transitions are always occasions for fractious backroom bargaining, but this one has been further complicated by scandals that have fed public cynicism that their leaders are more concerned with power and wealth than government.
In recent months, Bo Xilai, a senior politician seen as a rising star, was purged after his aide exposed that his wife murdered a British businessman.
An ally of Hu's was sidelined after his son died in the crash of a Ferrari he shouldn't have been able to afford.
Hu, in his speech at the opening of the Congress said the party had to better tackle corruption issues or risk fatal damage.
"If we fail to handle this issue well, it could prove fatal to the party, and even cause the collapse of the party and the fall of the state," said Hu.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – CIA Director David Petraeus revealed his affair almost immediately after the election, even though the FBI may have discovered it months ago. The timing has caused Congress to wonder if it was a political cover-up to help Obama’s campaign.
The FBI began a criminal investigation in February after discovering that Paula Broadwell, Petraeus’ 40-year-old mistress and biographer, had accessed the former four-star general’s email account. FBI officials also found harassing emails sent by Broadwell to another woman close to Petraeus. These emails, including one that referred to “sex under a desk,” sparked the FBI investigation that ultimately ended the general’s career in public service.
But although the affair was uncovered months ago, Petraeus and government officials familiar with the matter kept quiet. The renowned intelligence director disclosed his relations with Broadwell and sent the president a letter of resignation on November 7 – the day after Obama was re-elected, and one week before he was scheduled to testify before Congress about what the CIA knew about the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya that killed an ambassador and three staffers.
The director of national intelligence, James Clapper, had allegedly been told of the Petraeus investigation on election night and subsequently urged him to resign, senior intelligence officials told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity. US government officials claim that the White House and the CIA both remained uninformed of the FBI investigation until after the election.
An FBI insider told NBC News that Obama was in the dark about the affair until Wednesday.
“He made the decision to tell the White House. We handled it discretely,” the official said, emphasizing that disclosing an affair that had not breached security was not the responsibility of the FBI.
But some believe the White House knew about the affair for much longer than they claim, and Congress is looking into the matter to determine if this is a major political cover-up delayed until after the election to protect Obama’s presidency.
“The real question is, what did the president know, and when?” was the famous question from the Watergate scandal, which was repeated in the wake of Petraeus’ resignation.
“It is hard to believe the White House did not know about this prior to the election,” Frances Townsend, a former senior security official, told the Washington Times.
“What would he have told us? The resignation is incredibly convenient for the administration. Would he have revealed the CIA knew the Banghazi compound was under threat and Washington did nothing to secure it?” asked a senior Congressional staffer, as reported by the Daily Mail.
While questions over Obama’s knowledge of the scandal linger, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was distressed that she did not learn of the affair and planned resignation sooner. Petraeus had been scheduled to testify on the September 11 attack in Benghazi next week, and his resignation will have a significant impact on that hearing.
“It was like a lightning bolt,” Feinstein said. She told Fox News Sunday that she wishes she had had time to plan for the CIA director’s absence, and would have liked to have been briefed by the FBI sooner, the Associated Press reports.
Other members of Congress have also expressed their frustration with the secrecy of the investigation, which they believe should have been exposed sooner.
“The FBI should have had an obligation to tell the president,” House Homeland Security Chairman Rep. Peter King (R-NY) told CNN. “It just doesn’t add up.”
Congress, by law, must be informed about “significant intelligence activities or failures.” Lawmakers are wondering why the affair – which could have ties to a cyber crime and security breaches – was kept secret until the night of the election, and whether or not the White House knew about and supported the cover-up.
“There are strict rules, there is a wall, about sharing information on ongoing criminal investigations,” an unnamed government official told the Wall Street Journal.
If some speculations are accurate and Petraeus resigned as a way out of testifying about the Libya attack – in an attempt to save the Obama administration from further criticism – then he still may not get off easy. Feinstein said she may still ask Petraeus to testify at a later date to get the much-needed information the now former director may have.
“I don’t see how in the world you can find out what happened in Benghazi before, during and after the attack if General Petraeus doesn’t testify,” Graham told CBS.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – The Chinese Communist Party has kicked off its 18th congress to prepare the ground for the replacement of the current top tier of leaders with a new generation led by Vice President Xi Jinping, Press TV reports.
The week-long congress, which opened in the capital Beijing on Thursday, will select the country’s new leaders for the next ten years.
Xi is expected to be elected the next leader of the emerging power for the next decade. There's no doubt that Xi’s generation of leaders would support stronger rule of law, less state control of the economy, greater public participation in policy making and more transparent governance.
Problems such as inequality and corruption have been neglected during the ten-year presidency of Hu Jintao.
Yet it is not certain that the next generation of leaders would look towards Western liberal democracies to enact economic and political reforms.
Additionally, independent law courts and more private business would mean a loss of control by the Communist Party, whose first duty has always been to keep itself in power.
The party believes that its right to rule comes from delivering strong growth and many think the current setup can continue to do so for ten or more years.
“Of course the Communist Party wants to preserve its power, some say reform will help it to do this, others say that is too great and things can’t go on without reforms,” Shang Ming from Renmin University told Press TV.
The party will use Thursday’s highly-orchestrated event, attended by the 2,270 delegates of the congress, to persuade the nation's 1.3 billion people that it can secure another 10 years of economic growth and social stability.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - Third International Congress themed 'Rain of Ghadir' opened in Tehran on Saturday in a ceremony attended by the cultural officials and a number of the Iranian and foreign poets.
Iranian and non-Iranian poets recited poems and a Pakistani concert performed in the inaugural ceremony.
The third international seminar titled 'Rain of Ghadir' attended by poets and literati from Tunisia, Lebanon, Kuwait, India and Pakistan will work until October 30.
Secretary of the seminar, Mohammad Reza Zaeri has earlier said that the event will seek to develop interaction among various religions.
The congress will highlight the works created by non-Muslim and non-Shia artists on Eid al-Ghadir (the day when Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) proclaimed Imam Ali (AS) as his successor).— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — The Muslim Congress has staged its first public reaction to the US-made movie, which insults Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), as the organization’s demonstrators rallied against instances of affront to divine religions in Los Angeles.
The protesters, mostly women, gathered outside the Federal Building in the city’s Hollywood section on Saturday to denounce hatred and religious insult.
Holding up placards, the non-profit body’s protesters denounced hate-mongering and urged promotion of love and peace. The organization seeks to promote unity among North America’s Muslims.
Waves of anti-US protests rage on across the global community over the film, made by an Israeli-American, who has acknowledged to US media that he has produced and directed the blasphemous movie thanks to Jewish donations totaling USD five million.
Religious leaders in southern California have called for an end to the religious defamation caused by the film.
Federal authorities have identified Nakoula Basselly Nakoula as the key figure behind the film. Authorities say Nakoula used the false name, Sam Bacile when he posted the video on YouTube back in July.
The film has sparked rallies in dozens of countries across the world, including Australia, Belgium, France, Israel, Indonesia, and the Maldives.
Most recently, most schools, shops, and offices were shut down in Bangladesh amid a nationwide strike over the movie.—www.shafaqna.com/English