Posts tagged Egypt
Good Friday Saturday and Easter time for prayer meditation for Boulder Christians Jews Muslims, Hindus Buddhists0
Both Christians and Jews celebrate this time of the year. It is Easter for Christians and Passover for Jews. Jesus was a Jew and celebrated passover at his last supper before his crucifixion on Good Friday.. Then there is the question of how do Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists fit in. We try to explain.
During Lent, we should; live as children of the light, performing actions good, just and true
(see Ep 5:1-9)
O, My people! What have I done to thee that thou shouldst testify against me?
from The Reproaches
Veneration of the Cross – The Reproaches
Good Friday ideas for families
The Cross – The Sign of the Cross – The Crucifix, Crosses and Symbols of Christ
On Good Friday, the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. Each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. In the solemn ceremonies of Good Friday, in the Adoration of the Cross, in the chanting of the ‘Reproaches’, in the reading of the Passion, and in receiving the pre-consecrated Host, we unite ourselves to our Savior, and we contemplate our own death to sin in the Death of our Lord.
The Church – stripped of its ornaments, the altar bare, and with the door of the empty tabernacle standing open – is as if in mourning. In the fourth century the Apostolic Constitutions described this day as a ‘day of mourning, not a day of festive joy,’ and this day was called the ‘Pasch (passage) of the Crucifixion.’
The liturgical observance of this day of Christ’s suffering, crucifixion and death evidently has been in existence from the earliest days of the Church. No Mass is celebrated on this day, but the service of Good Friday is called the Mass of the Presanctified because Communion (in the species of bread) which had already been consecrated on Holy Thursday is given to the people .
Traditionally, the organ is silent from Holy Thursday until the Alleluia at the Easter Vigil , as are all bells or other instruments, the only music during this period being unaccompanied chant.
The omission of the prayer of consecration deepens our sense of loss because Mass throughout the year reminds us of the Lord’s triumph over death, the source of our joy and blessing. The desolate quality of the rites of this day reminds us of Christ’s humiliation and suffering during his Passion. We can see that the parts of the Good Friday service correspond to the divisions of Mass:
- Liturgy of the Word – reading of the Passion.
- Intercessory prayers for the Church and the entire world, Christian and non-Christian.
- Veneration of the Cross
- Communion, or the ‘Mass of the Pre-Sanctified.’
The Veneration of the Cross
In the seventh century, the Church in Rome adopted the practice of Adoration of the Cross from the Church in Jerusalem, where a fragment of wood believed to be the Lord’s cross had been venerated every year on Good Friday since the fourth century. According to tradition, a part of the Holy Cross was discovered by the mother of the emperor Constantine, St. Helen, on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 326. A fifth century account describes this service in Jerusalem. A coffer of gold-plated silver containing the wood of the cross was brought forward. The bishop placed the relic on the a table in the chapel of the Crucifixion and the faithful approached it, touching brow and eyes and lips to the wood as the priest said (as every priest has done ever since): ‘Behold, the Wood of the Cross.’
Adoration or veneration of an image or representation of Christ’s cross does not mean that we are actually adoring the material image, of course, but rather what it represents. In kneeling before the crucifix and kissing it we are paying the highest honor to the our Lord’s cross as the instrument of our salvation. Because the Cross is inseparable from His sacrifice, in reverencing His Cross we are, in effect, adoring Christ. Thus we affirm: ‘We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee because by Thy Holy Cross Thou has Redeemed the World.’
The Reproaches and the Reading of the Passion
The Reproaches (Improperia), are often chanted by a priest during the Good Friday service as the people are venerating the Cross. In this haunting and poignant poem-like chant of very ancient origin, Christ himself ‘reproaches’ us, making us more deeply aware of how our sinfulness and hardness of heart caused such agony for our sinless and loving Savior. A modern translation of the some of the Reproaches, originally in Latin follows:
My people, What have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me!
I led you out of Egypt; but you led your Savior to the Cross.
For forty years I led you safely through the desert,
I fed you with manna from heaven,
and brought you to the land of plenty; But you led your Savior to the Cross.
O, My people! What have I done to you that you should testify against me?
Holy God. Holy God. Holy Mighty One. Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us.
Three times during Holy Week the Passion is read – on Passion Sunday, Holy Thursday, and Good Friday. By very ancient tradition, three clergy read the three principal parts from the sanctuary: Jesus (always read by a priest), Narrator, and all the other individual parts. The people also have a role in this – we are those who condemn the Lord to death. Hearing our own voices say ‘Away with Him! Crucify him!’ heightens our consciousness of our complicity by our personal sinfulness in causing His death.
Catholic Commemoration of the Day
By Scott P. Richert, About.com Guide
April 22 2011 The Friday before Easter Sunday; see When Is Good Friday? for the date of Good Friday this year.
Since the date of Good Friday is dependent on the date of Easter , it changes from year to year. (See When Is Easter? for more details.)
Good Friday is a day of strict fasting and abstinence. Catholics who are over the age of 18 and under the age of 60 are required to fast, which means that they can eat only one complete meal and two smaller ones during the day, with no food in between. Catholics who are over the age of 14 are required to refrain from eating any meat, or any food made with meat, on Good Friday.
Do protestants celebrate lent, shrove Tuesday, ash Wednesday or good Friday?
Most mainline Protestants do-Episcopal, Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Lutheran. Most Baptist and non-denominational/independent churches do not. I grew up Baptist and am now Evangelical but work for Presbyterians (clear as mud?) and think we miss something in not being involved in the whole story of the liturgical year.When I was growing up Baptist, all of a sudden it was Christmas and then all of a sudden it was Easter without any preamble. I believe in expository preaching but without the guidance of the church year, you miss the heart of the spiritual journey. Of course, to get the complete picture, you also have to be aware of the Jewish festivals as they also reflect the story of God’s people and redemption as well.
What is Pass Over
The eight-day festival of Passover is celebrated in the early spring, from the 15th through the 22nd of the Hebrew month of Nissan. It commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. And, by following the rituals of Passover, we have the ability to relive and experience the true freedom that our ancestors gained.
The Story in a Nutshell
After many decades of slavery to the Egyptian pharaohs, during which time the Israelites were subjected to backbreaking labor and unbearable horrors, G‑d saw the people’s distress and sent Moses to Pharaoh with a message: “Send forth My people, so that they may serve Me.” But despite numerous warnings, Pharaoh refused to heed G‑d’s command. G‑d then sent upon Egypt ten devastating plagues, afflicting them and destroying everything from their livestock to their crops.
At the stroke of midnight of 15 Nissan in the year 2448 from creation (1313 BCE), G‑d visited the last of the ten plagues on the Egyptians, killing all their firstborn. While doing so, G‑d spared the Children of Israel, “passing over” their homes—hence the name of the holiday. Pharaoh’s resistance was broken, and he virtually chased his former slaves out of the land. The Israelites left in such a hurry, in fact, that the bread they baked as provisions for the way did not have time to rise. Six hundred thousand adult males, plus many more women and children, left Egypt on that day, and began the trek to Mount Sinai and their birth as G‑d’s chosen people.
Click here for the full Passover story.
Passover is divided into two parts:
The first two days and last two days (the latter commemorating the splitting of the Red Sea) are full-fledged holidays. Holiday candles are lit at night, and kiddush and sumptuous holiday meals are enjoyed on both nights and days. We don’t go to work, drive, write or switch on or off electric devices. We are permitted to cook and to carry outdoors (click here for the details).
The middle four days are called chol hamoed, semi-festive “intermediate days,” when most forms of work are permitted.
To commemorate the unleavened bread that the Israelites ate when they left Egypt, we don’t eat—or even retain in our possession—any chametz from midday of the day before Passover until the conclusion of the holiday. Chametz means leavened grain—any food or drink that contains even a trace of wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt or their derivatives, and which wasn’t guarded from leavening or fermentation. This includes bread, cake, cookies, cereal, pasta and most alcoholic beverages. Moreover, almost any processed food or drink can be assumed to be chametz unless certified otherwise.
Ridding our homes of chametz is an intensive process. It involves a full-out spring-cleaning search-and-destroy mission during the weeks before Passover, and culminates with a ceremonial search for chametz on the night before Passover, and then a burning of the chametz ceremony on the morning before the holiday. Chametz that cannot be disposed of can be sold to a non-Jew for the duration of the holiday.
For more on this topic, see Operation Zero Chametz.
Instead of chametz, we eat matzah—flat unleavened bread. It is a mitzvah to partake of matzah on the two Seder nights (see below for more on this), and during the rest of the holiday it is optional.
Click here for more on matzah.
The highlight of Passover is the Seder, observed on each of the first two nights of the holiday. The Seder is a fifteen-step family-oriented tradition and ritual-packed feast.
The focal points of the Seder are:
Eating bitter herbs—to commemorate the bitter slavery endured by the Israelites.
Drinking four cups of wine or grape juice—a royal drink to celebrate our newfound freedom.
The recitation of the Haggadah, a liturgy that describes in detail the story of the Exodus from Egypt. The Haggadah is the fulfillment of the biblical obligation to recount to our children the story of the Exodus on the night of Passover.
Visit our Seder Section for guides, insights, tip, and a Global Seder Directory.
Rebirth, Passover and the Arab Spring
April 18th, 2011 by Dean Foster | Discuss This »
I’ll be going to the traditional Passover seder tonight, on the first night of Passover, the Jewish celebration of freedom that has been celebrated now for over 3500 years. The seder (or “order”) recall the story of Jews enslaved in a political system not of their choosing in Egypt, and of their release from this bondage, known as The Exodus. And, as all traditions and ceremonies do, tonight we will retell this ancient story through poetry, song and verse, with special foods (like the matzoh, or unleavened bread, representing the haste in which the Jews had to make their escape). Over the centuries, this holiday has become one of the most beloved in Jewish tradition, not least because it occurs in the home with family and friends, and resonates with the hunger for freedom that each generation, according to the Haggadah (or prayer book used at the Seder), must identify and then struggle to achieve.
It is not coincidental that at the same approximate time each year, Christians celebrate the resurrection, or rebirth, of Christ, and the spirit or Easter, of rebirth in our lives, and in the earth itself (at least in the Northern Hemisphere). Being reborn requires freedom, and freedom is a statement of rebirth itself, for in order to move on, we must be transformed.
Seeing Passover and Easter as different events connected by the same story is a simple, albeit acceptable, understanding of both. After all, Christ was captured as he endeavored to celebrate the Passover seder (the “last supper” was a seder), with his crucifixion and resurrection occurring soon thereafter, insuring that Passover and Easter will always be celebrated at approximately the same time: the Northern spring season.
But it would be a dry and limited reading of the meaning of both holidays if we understood them only through their historical connection; the richer reading sees the theme of freedom and rebirth as the much more powerful thread that binds Passover and Easter together. Freedom, rebirth, release from the past: not a Jewish or Christian theme, but a human one. One that embraces not only Jews and Christians, but Muslims, (and Buddhists, and Hindus, and non-theists, and … ) as well.
This spring, the Arab world has awakened. And the message resonates across all the Maghreb, Levant, and Gulf Arabia: Freedom, rebirth, release from the past. At every level, male and female, young and old, freedom to govern oneself, freedom to achieve, freedom to become. To be reborn anew, to start over again, to look to the future, as determined by oneself, and not by others.
Islam has always talked of these themes too, in its own way, from its own heart, but this spring, the Arab world has added its voice to that of Passover and Easter, imbuing both with greater urgency and legitimacy. It seems that the three great Western religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, this spring all cry out with the same voice: Freedom, rebirth, release from the past.
The Jewish seder ends tonight with the visionary words, “Next year in Jerusalem!” Jerusalem is the universal symbol of the aspirations, hopes and struggles of all three religions; the place where freedom, rebirth and release from the past are achieved. A metaphor, for sure, but if Jews, Christians and Muslims can all share the same dream of freedom, rebirth and release from the past, then why not “Next year in Jerusalem” for everyone?
The ride will present an experiential learning opportunity for the participating college students in conjunction with the broadcast of “Freedom Riders” and the 50th anniversary of the original May 1961 Freedom Rides.
Roberson (pronounced RAH-ber-son) is an international affairs major with interests in ethics and voter enfranchisement.
The 40 Student Freedom Riders were chosen from nearly 1,000 applicants and represent a diverse cross-section of America. Participating students hail from 33 states and the District of Columbia, along with others who grew up in China, Tajikistan and Haiti.
Students from a broad range of schools are represented — from state universities to community and junior colleges, from religiously affiliated schools to the Ivy League. Students were selected on the basis of their essays on their reasons for wanting to participate, their thoughts on the role of social media and technology in civic engagement today, and their extracurricular activities.
Over a 10-day journey from May 6 through May 16, the ride will be a moving classroom in which the students will retrace the route of the original Freedom Rides. Accompanied by filmmaker Stanley Nelson, original Freedom Riders and others, the ride will engage students in this important era in our country’s history, as they learn about the extraordinary commitment and courage of the individuals who took part in the Freedom Rides.
Roberson will miss his May 6 commencement ceremony to participate in the PBS event.
“At ‘American Experience,’ we think history is fascinating, but more importantly, we know it informs almost every social and political decision made today,” said “American Experience’’ executive producer Mark Samels. “We saw that in Egypt, where protesters looked to the American civil rights movement for instruction and inspiration.
“Fifty years after the original Freedom Rides, young people all over the world are once again having their voices heard. They’re using new and very different tools to do that, but drawing on lessons from history to inform how they use those tools. It’s those lessons from 1961 and how they are informing civic engagement today that we look forward to exploring on this ride.”
“Freedom Riders” will be broadcast on PBS on Monday, May 16, at 9 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.
A website, twitter stream and Facebook page will be chronicling the riders experiences, as well as cataloging in-depth information about the original Freedom Riders.
7:31 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Tonight, I’d like to update the American people on the international effort that we have led in Libya –- what we’ve done, what we plan to do, and why this matters to us.
I want to begin by paying tribute to our men and women in uniform who, once again, have acted with courage, professionalism and patriotism. They have moved with incredible speed and strength. Because of them and our dedicated diplomats, a coalition has been forged and countless lives have been saved.
Meanwhile, as we speak, our troops are supporting our ally Japan, leaving Iraq to its people, stopping the Taliban’s momentum in Afghanistan, and going after al Qaeda all across the globe. As Commander-in-Chief, I’m grateful to our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and to their families. And I know all Americans share in that sentiment.
For generations, the United States of America has played a unique role as an anchor of global security and as an advocate for human freedom. Mindful of the risks and costs of military action, we are naturally reluctant to use force to solve the world’s many challenges. But when our interests and values are at stake, we have a responsibility to act. That’s what happened in Libya over the course of these last six weeks.
Libya sits directly between Tunisia and Egypt -– two nations that inspired the world when their people rose up to take control of their own destiny. For more than four decades, the Libyan people have been ruled by a tyrant -– Muammar Qaddafi. He has denied his people freedom, exploited their wealth, murdered opponents at home and abroad, and terrorized innocent people around the world –- including Americans who were killed by Libyan agents.
Last month, Qaddafi’s grip of fear appeared to give way to the promise of freedom. In cities and towns across the country, Libyans took to the streets to claim their basic human rights. As one Libyan said, “For the first time we finally have hope that our nightmare of 40 years will soon be over.”
Faced with this opposition, Qaddafi began attacking his people. As President, my immediate concern was the safety of our citizens, so we evacuated our embassy and all Americans who sought our assistance. Then we took a series of swift steps in a matter of days to answer Qaddafi’s aggression. We froze more than $33 billion of Qaddafi’s regime’s assets. Joining with other nations at the United Nations Security Council, we broadened our sanctions, imposed an arms embargo, and enabled Qaddafi and those around him to be held accountable for their crimes. I made it clear that Qaddafi had lost the confidence of his people and the legitimacy to lead, and I said that he needed to step down from power.
In the face of the world’s condemnation, Qaddafi chose to escalate his attacks, launching a military campaign against the Libyan people. Innocent people were targeted for killing. Hospitals and ambulances were attacked. Journalists were arrested, sexually assaulted, and killed. Supplies of food and fuel were choked off. Water for hundreds of thousands of people in Misurata was shut off. Cities and towns were shelled, mosques were destroyed, and apartment buildings reduced to rubble. Military jets and helicopter gunships were unleashed upon people who had no means to defend themselves against assaults from the air.
Confronted by this brutal repression and a looming humanitarian crisis, I ordered warships into the Mediterranean. European allies declared their willingness to commit resources to stop the killing. The Libyan opposition and the Arab League appealed to the world to save lives in Libya. And so at my direction, America led an effort with our allies at the United Nations Security Council to pass a historic resolution that authorized a no-fly zone to stop the regime’s attacks from the air, and further authorized all necessary measures to protect the Libyan people.
Ten days ago, having tried to end the violence without using force, the international community offered Qaddafi a final chance to stop his campaign of killing, or face the consequences. Rather than stand down, his forces continued their advance, bearing down on the city of Benghazi, home to nearly 700,000 men, women and children who sought their freedom from fear.
At this point, the United States and the world faced a choice. Qaddafi declared he would show “no mercy” to his own people. He compared them to rats, and threatened to go door to door to inflict punishment. In the past, we have seen him hang civilians in the streets, and kill over a thousand people in a single day. Now we saw regime forces on the outskirts of the city. We knew that if we wanted — if we waited one more day, Benghazi, a city nearly the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.
It was not in our national interest to let that happen. I refused to let that happen. And so nine days ago, after consulting the bipartisan leadership of Congress, I authorized military action to stop the killing and enforce U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973.
We struck regime forces approaching Benghazi to save that city and the people within it. We hit Qaddafi’s troops in neighboring Ajdabiya, allowing the opposition to drive them out. We hit Qaddafi’s air defenses, which paved the way for a no-fly zone. We targeted tanks and military assets that had been choking off towns and cities, and we cut off much of their source of supply. And tonight, I can report that we have stopped Qaddafi’s deadly advance.
In this effort, the United States has not acted alone. Instead, we have been joined by a strong and growing coalition. This includes our closest allies -– nations like the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Spain, Greece, and Turkey –- all of whom have fought by our sides for decades. And it includes Arab partners like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, who have chosen to meet their responsibilities to defend the Libyan people.
To summarize, then: In just one month, the United States has worked with our international partners to mobilize a broad coalition, secure an international mandate to protect civilians, stop an advancing army, prevent a massacre, and establish a no-fly zone with our allies and partners. To lend some perspective on how rapidly this military and diplomatic response came together, when people were being brutalized in Bosnia in the 1990s, it took the international community more than a year to intervene with air power to protect civilians. It took us 31 days.
Moreover, we’ve accomplished these objectives consistent with the pledge that I made to the American people at the outset of our military operations. I said that America’s role would be limited; that we would not put ground troops into Libya; that we would focus our unique capabilities on the front end of the operation and that we would transfer responsibility to our allies and partners. Tonight, we are fulfilling that pledge.
Our most effective alliance, NATO, has taken command of the enforcement of the arms embargo and the no-fly zone. Last night, NATO decided to take on the additional responsibility of protecting Libyan civilians. This transfer from the United States to NATO will take place on Wednesday. Going forward, the lead in enforcing the no-fly zone and protecting civilians on the ground will transition to our allies and partners, and I am fully confident that our coalition will keep the pressure on Qaddafi’s remaining forces.
In that effort, the United States will play a supporting role — including intelligence, logistical support, search and rescue assistance, and capabilities to jam regime communications. Because of this transition to a broader, NATO-based coalition, the risk and cost of this operation — to our military and to American taxpayers — will be reduced significantly.
So for those who doubted our capacity to carry out this operation, I want to be clear: The United States of America has done what we said we would do.
That’s not to say that our work is complete. In addition to our NATO responsibilities, we will work with the international community to provide assistance to the people of Libya, who need food for the hungry and medical care for the wounded. We will safeguard the more than $33 billion that was frozen from the Qaddafi regime so that it’s available to rebuild Libya. After all, the money doesn’t belong to Qaddafi or to us — it belongs to the Libyan people. And we’ll make sure they receive it.
Tomorrow, Secretary Clinton will go to London, where she will meet with the Libyan opposition and consult with more than 30 nations. These discussions will focus on what kind of political effort is necessary to pressure Qaddafi, while also supporting a transition to the future that the Libyan people deserve — because while our military mission is narrowly focused on saving lives, we continue to pursue the broader goal of a Libya that belongs not to a dictator, but to its people.
Now, despite the success of our efforts over the past week, I know that some Americans continue to have questions about our efforts in Libya. Qaddafi has not yet stepped down from power, and until he does, Libya will remain dangerous. Moreover, even after Qaddafi does leave power, 40 years of tyranny has left Libya fractured and without strong civil institutions. The transition to a legitimate government that is responsive to the Libyan people will be a difficult task. And while the United States will do our part to help, it will be a task for the international community and –- more importantly –- a task for the Libyan people themselves.
In fact, much of the debate in Washington has put forward a false choice when it comes to Libya. On the one hand, some question why America should intervene at all -– even in limited ways –- in this distant land. They argue that there are many places in the world where innocent civilians face brutal violence at the hands of their government, and America should not be expected to police the world, particularly when we have so many pressing needs here at home.
It’s true that America cannot use our military wherever repression occurs. And given the costs and risks of intervention, we must always measure our interests against the need for action. But that cannot be an argument for never acting on behalf of what’s right. In this particular country -– Libya — at this particular moment, we were faced with the prospect of violence on a horrific scale. We had a unique ability to stop that violence: an international mandate for action, a broad coalition prepared to join us, the support of Arab countries, and a plea for help from the Libyan people themselves. We also had the ability to stop Qaddafi’s forces in their tracks without putting American troops on the ground.
To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and -– more profoundly -– our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are. Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as President, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.
Moreover, America has an important strategic interest in preventing Qaddafi from overrunning those who oppose him. A massacre would have driven thousands of additional refugees across Libya’s borders, putting enormous strains on the peaceful –- yet fragile -– transitions in Egypt and Tunisia. The democratic impulses that are dawning across the region would be eclipsed by the darkest form of dictatorship, as repressive leaders concluded that violence is the best strategy to cling to power. The writ of the United Nations Security Council would have been shown to be little more than empty words, crippling that institution’s future credibility to uphold global peace and security. So while I will never minimize the costs involved in military action, I am convinced that a failure to act in Libya would have carried a far greater price for America.
Now, just as there are those who have argued against intervention in Libya, there are others who have suggested that we broaden our military mission beyond the task of protecting the Libyan people, and do whatever it takes to bring down Qaddafi and usher in a new government.
Of course, there is no question that Libya -– and the world –- would be better off with Qaddafi out of power. I, along with many other world leaders, have embraced that goal, and will actively pursue it through non-military means. But broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake.
The task that I assigned our forces -– to protect the Libyan people from immediate danger, and to establish a no-fly zone -– carries with it a U.N. mandate and international support. It’s also what the Libyan opposition asked us to do. If we tried to overthrow Qaddafi by force, our coalition would splinter. We would likely have to put U.S. troops on the ground to accomplish that mission, or risk killing many civilians from the air. The dangers faced by our men and women in uniform would be far greater. So would the costs and our share of the responsibility for what comes next.
To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq. Thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our troops and the determination of our diplomats, we are hopeful about Iraq’s future. But regime change there took eight years, thousands of American and Iraqi lives, and nearly a trillion dollars. That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya.
As the bulk of our military effort ratchets down, what we can do — and will do — is support the aspirations of the Libyan people. We have intervened to stop a massacre, and we will work with our allies and partners to maintain the safety of civilians. We will deny the regime arms, cut off its supplies of cash, assist the opposition, and work with other nations to hasten the day when Qaddafi leaves power. It may not happen overnight, as a badly weakened Qaddafi tries desperately to hang on to power. But it should be clear to those around Qaddafi, and to every Libyan, that history is not on Qaddafi’s side. With the time and space that we have provided for the Libyan people, they will be able to determine their own destiny, and that is how it should be.
Let me close by addressing what this action says about the use of America’s military power, and America’s broader leadership in the world, under my presidency.
As Commander-in-Chief, I have no greater responsibility than keeping this country safe. And no decision weighs on me more than when to deploy our men and women in uniform. I’ve made it clear that I will never hesitate to use our military swiftly, decisively, and unilaterally when necessary to defend our people, our homeland, our allies and our core interests. That’s why we’re going after al Qaeda wherever they seek a foothold. That is why we continue to fight in Afghanistan, even as we have ended our combat mission in Iraq and removed more than 100,000 troops from that country.
There will be times, though, when our safety is not directly threatened, but our interests and our values are. Sometimes, the course of history poses challenges that threaten our common humanity and our common security -– responding to natural disasters, for example; or preventing genocide and keeping the peace; ensuring regional security, and maintaining the flow of commerce. These may not be America’s problems alone, but they are important to us. They’re problems worth solving. And in these circumstances, we know that the United States, as the world’s most powerful nation, will often be called upon to help.
In such cases, we should not be afraid to act -– but the burden of action should not be America’s alone. As we have in Libya, our task is instead to mobilize the international community for collective action. Because contrary to the claims of some, American leadership is not simply a matter of going it alone and bearing all of the burden ourselves. Real leadership creates the conditions and coalitions for others to step up as well; to work with allies and partners so that they bear their share of the burden and pay their share of the costs; and to see that the principles of justice and human dignity are upheld by all.
That’s the kind of leadership we’ve shown in Libya. Of course, even when we act as part of a coalition, the risks of any military action will be high. Those risks were realized when one of our planes malfunctioned over Libya. Yet when one of our airmen parachuted to the ground, in a country whose leader has so often demonized the United States –- in a region that has such a difficult history with our country –- this American did not find enemies. Instead, he was met by people who embraced him. One young Libyan who came to his aid said, “We are your friends. We are so grateful to those men who are protecting the skies.”
This voice is just one of many in a region where a new generation is refusing to be denied their rights and opportunities any longer.
Yes, this change will make the world more complicated for a time. Progress will be uneven, and change will come differently to different countries. There are places, like Egypt, where this change will inspire us and raise our hopes. And then there will be places, like Iran, where change is fiercely suppressed. The dark forces of civil conflict and sectarian war will have to be averted, and difficult political and economic concerns will have to be addressed.
The United States will not be able to dictate the pace and scope of this change. Only the people of the region can do that. But we can make a difference.
I believe that this movement of change cannot be turned back, and that we must stand alongside those who believe in the same core principles that have guided us through many storms: our opposition to violence directed at one’s own people; our support for a set of universal rights, including the freedom for people to express themselves and choose their leaders; our support for governments that are ultimately responsive to the aspirations of the people.
Born, as we are, out of a revolution by those who longed to be free, we welcome the fact that history is on the move in the Middle East and North Africa, and that young people are leading the way. Because wherever people long to be free, they will find a friend in the United States. Ultimately, it is that faith — those ideals — that are the true measure of American leadership.
My fellow Americans, I know that at a time of upheaval overseas — when the news is filled with conflict and change — it can be tempting to turn away from the world. And as I’ve said before, our strength abroad is anchored in our strength here at home. That must always be our North Star — the ability of our people to reach their potential, to make wise choices with our resources, to enlarge the prosperity that serves as a wellspring for our power, and to live the values that we hold so dear.
But let us also remember that for generations, we have done the hard work of protecting our own people, as well as millions around the globe. We have done so because we know that our own future is safer, our own future is brighter, if more of mankind can live with the bright light of freedom and dignity.
Tonight, let us give thanks for the Americans who are serving through these trying times, and the coalition that is carrying our effort forward. And let us look to the future with confidence and hope not only for our own country, but for all those yearning for freedom around the world.
Thank you. God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America. (Applause.) Thank you.
Asia Times / By Pepe Escobar
Here’s a crash course on how one of “our” – monarchic – dictators treats his own people during the great 2011 Arab revolt.
The king of Bahrain, Hamad al-Khalifa, has blood on his hands after his mercenary security forces – Pakistani, Indian, Syrian and Jordanian – with no previous warning, attacked sleeping, peaceful protesters at 3 am on Thursday at the Pearl roundabout, the tiny Gulf country’s version of Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
In the brutal crackdown, at least five people have been killed – including a young child – and 2,000 injured, some by gunshots, two of these in critical condition. Riot police targeted doctors and medics and prevented ambulances and blood donors from reaching the Pearl roundabout. A doctor at Salmaniya hospital told al-Jazeera there was a refrigerated truck outside the hospital, which he fears the army has used to remove more dead bodies.
The resourceful Maryama Alkawaka of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights was there; “It was very violent, [the police] were not showing any mercy.” An avalanche of tweets from Bahrainis denounced an “Israeli-style” sneak attack and shoot-to-kill approach. And many have denounced al-Jazeera for not having kept a live satellite link as it had in Cairo, and for implying that this was only a Shi’ite protest. The Pearl roundabout is now surrounded by nearly 100 tanks at every entrance and exit. Downtown Manama has been turned into a ghost city.
The Shi’ite opposition described it as “real terrorism”. Reem Khalifa, senor editor at the opposition newspaper al-Wasat, said, “The regime forces just came and massacred a crowd of people as they slept.” They had been “chanting together, shouting ‘neither Sunni nor Shi’ite but Bahraini’. We have not seen this before. And this is what annoyed the government agents the most – they are always trying to divide the people … And now the regime is spreading lies about me and other journalists who are trying to say what is happening.”
Khalifa had the courage to stand up and harshly confront Bahrain’s foreign minister at a press conference, totally debunking his version of events (he called the deaths “regrettable” but insisted protesters were sectarian, and armed).
The Gulf Cooperation Council – the scandalously wealthy club of local kingdoms which holds over US$1 trillion stashed away in foreign reserves and almost 50% of the world’s proven oil reserves still underground – issued, what else, a bland statement supporting Bahrain.
Kill them, but with a velvet glove
Is Washington remotely outraged by all this? The record speaks for itself. United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed “deep concern”, according to the State Department, and “urged restraint”. The Pentagon said Bahrain was “an important partner”; later Secretary of Defense Robert Gates called Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman – certainly to make sure everything was dandy with the US Navy’s 5th Fleet and its 2,250 personnel housed in an isolated compound inside 24 hectares in the center of Manama.
Even the New York Times was forced to acknowledge that US President Barack Obama had “yet to issue the blunt public criticism of Bahrain’s rulers that he eventually leveled against President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt – or that he has repeatedly aimed at the mullahs in Iran”. But he can’t; after all, Bahrain’s I-shot-my-people king is another usual suspect, a “pillar of the American security architecture in the Middle East”, and “a staunch ally of Washington in its showdown with Iran’s Shi’ite theocracy”.
Under these strategic circumstances, it’s hard to dismiss Lebanese political scientist and blogger at the Angry Arab website As’ad AbuKhalil, when he stresses, “The US had to plot the repression of Bahrain to appease Saudi Arabia and other Arab tyrants who were mad at Obama for not defending Mubarak to the every end.”
Incidentally, Saudi Arabia’s prince Talal Bin Abdulaziz – father of the billionaire darling of the West prince Al Waleed bin Talal – told the BBC there’s a danger the protests in Bahrain could spill into Saudi Arabia.
It’s never enough to stress Bahrain is all about Iran vs Saudi Arabia (see All about the Pearl roundabout Asia Times Online, February 18).
The US naval base in Manama translates as a cop on the (Persian Gulf) beat. Moreover, 15% of Saudi Arabia’s population is Shi’ite, living in the eastern provinces, where the oil is. That makes it very hard for Bahrainis – Shi’ite and even Sunni – to threaten the ruling, Sunni, al-Khalifa dynasty, as the House of Saud will immediately rush in with all sorts of logistical and military support.
Moreover, Saudi Arabia has huge leverage over Bahrain’s oil, which comes from the shared Abu Saafa oilfield, explored by Saudi Aramco and shared with a Bahraini refiner.
Bahrain is far from swimming in oil. According to International Monetary Fund figures, in 2010 Saudi Arabia produced roughly 8.5 million barrels of oil a day; the United Arab Emirates 2.4 million barrels; Kuwait 2.3 million barrels; and Bahrain only 200,000 barrels.
According to Moody’s, to balance its budget the Bahrain government needs oil at $80 a barrel, “one of the highest budgetary ‘break-even’ points in the region”, says the Financial Times. As a Barclays Capital report puts it with typical corporate contortionism, “The announcements of street protests, concessions by the government at the cost of a deteriorating fiscal position and simmering political tensions have created a backdrop that has clearly caused investors to view Bahrain with increased caution.”
So if protesters really want to hit the al-Khalifa where it hurts, they should aim at the nexus oil business/financial sector. It will be an extraordinary uphill struggle against a nasty police state crammed with mercenaries – especially Jordanian military consultants (the “master torturer” of the Mukhabarat is a Jordanian) and now also counting on “help” from Saudi tanks and troops. Moreover, the riot police and special forces don’t speak the local dialect, and in the case of Balochis from Pakistan, don’t even speak Arabic.
Prospects are bleak. The inside dope in Manama is of a split within the royal family. The dreaded, sectarian Khalid bin Ahmed, responsible for the policy of naturalizing “imported” Sunnis to alter the demographic balance and dilute even more the voting rights of the indigenous Shi’ite population, would be on one side; and the king plus Crown Prince Salman (Gates’ pal) would be on the other. The king may be losing control. And in this case Saudi Arabia would be lobbying for bin Ahmed to take over and get one of the king’s sons, Nasir Bin Hamed to be crown prince. This does make sense if seen under the angle of the brutal crackdown.
Time to cross the bridge
What Bahrain’s Shi’ites can certainly accomplish is to inspire Shi’ites in Saudi Arabia in terms of a long fight for greater social, economic and religious equality. It’s wishful thinking to bet on the House of Saud reforming itself – not while enjoying extraordinary oil wealth and maintaining a vast repression apparatus, more than enough to buy or intimidate any form of dissent.
Yet there may be reasons to dream of Saudi Arabia following the winds of new Egypt. The average age of the House of Saud trio of ruling princes is 83. Of the country’s indigenous population of 18.5 million, 47% is under 18. A medieval conception of Islam, as well as overwhelming corruption, is under increasing vigilance on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
The middle class is shrinking. 40% of the population actually lives under the seal of poverty, has access to virtually no education, and is in fact unemployable (90% of all employees are “imported” Sunnis). Even crossing the causeway to Manama is enough to give people ideas.
Once again, talk about an extraordinary uphill struggle – in a country with no political parties – or labor unions, or student organizations; with any sort of protests and strikes outlawed; and with members of the shura council appointed by the king.
The Arab News newspaper anyway has already warned that those winds of freedom from northern Africa may hit Saudi Arabia. And it may all revolve around youth unemployment, at an unsustainable 40%. There’s no question; the great 2011 Arab revolt will only fulfill its historic mission when it shakes the foundations of the House of Saud. Young Saudi Sunnis and Shi’ites, you have nothing to lose but your fear.
CNN International Best for Christchurch and overall world:
With all of the world crisis going on today, we have put these TVchannels to the topof our news blog. Good coverage of pirates in Somalia, the Earth Quake in New Zealand, the revolutions in Libya, Iran, Egypt, middle east.
–Nabil Echchaibi, assistant professor of journalism and media studies, can address religious aspects of the events in Egypt as well as correlations with Iran. Echchaibi is the associate director of the Center for Media, Religion and Culture and his research has included identity, religion and the role of media in shaping and reflecting modern religious perspectives among Muslims in the Middle East. He is best reached by e-mail at email@example.com. He also can be reached at 303-492-8246.
–Najeeb Jan, instructor of geography, can address issues relating to the broad relationship between the United States and democracy in the Muslim world. Jan, who is part Pakistani, spent several years attending school in that country and has relatives and friends living there. He currently is researching “political Islam” in Pakistan and has interviewed clerics, students and members of the military for a book he is writing called “The Meta-colonial State: Pakistan and the Crisis of Power.” Jan can be reached by calling 303-492-2860 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
–John M. Willis, assistant professor of history, can address the history and politics of the modern Middle East, including topics such as imperialism, modern Islamic thought and nationalist movements. His research addresses the history of empire and the rise of Islamic reformist movements in the Middle East and the Indian Ocean. He is best reached by e-mail at email@example.com.
On Wednesday, Feb. 16, all four CU-Boulder professors listed above will participate in a panel discussion titled “The Revolution in Egypt: Causes and Consequences” at 7 p.m. in Eaton Humanities Building room 1B50. The event is free and open to the public. The forum is sponsored by the CU Faculty Federation; the CU Peace and Conflict Studies Program; the Center for the Study of Conflict, Collaboration and Creative Governance; the Political Economy Group of the sociology department; and the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center. For more information contact retired sociology Professor Thomas Mayer at 303-442-5311.
Posted by MARK THOMPSON Friday, January 28, 2011 at 5:09 pm
The U.S. Marines have a pair of warships — the USS Kearsarge and the USS Ponce — just hanging around the southern end of the Red Sea waiting to see if they’re needed to rescue U.S. diplomats and citizens from Cairo. They’re half of the Marines’ 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, a mini-armada that recently dispatched 1,400 of its 2,000 Marines into Afghanistan. But they’ve got a “fair number” of helicopters, and Marines, still aboard. “They’re not in the on-deck circle yet,” a military official says. “They’re kind of getting ready to come out of the dugout.” Meetings in Washington through Friday night and into the weekend will determine if they’re ordered to carry out a NEO — a non-combat (but potentially dicey) evacuation operation.