Bloggers on Fatah al-Islam.

Bloggers on Fatah al-Islam.

Bloggers on Fatah al-Islam.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
March 16 2007 5:50 PM

Shakir Heights

Bloggers react to vows by a new jihadist group to attack Americans and Jews. They're also cautiously optimistic about China's new guarantee of property rights—for some.

Shakir Heights: Shakir al-Abssi is the leader of a new Muslim terror group called Fatah al-Islam, operating out of a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon. Today the New York Times ran a three-page interview with Abssi, who says he adheres to the Bin Ladenist line on waging "jihad in any country where there are Jews or Americans." Fatah al-Islam has been blamed for the February bombing of commuter buses filled with Lebanese Christians in Beirut, although Abssi denies responsibility.

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Liberal Spencer Ackerman at toohotfortnr calls it "a pretty huge deal": "Why go global when the enemy is so close? Typically, the Mideastern jihadis who've turned to al-Qaeda have come from countries whose offenses to jihadist sensibilities are less direct, and hence more open to the bin Ladenist narrative that America is the root of all Muslim woes, like Egypt, Jordan, Saudi, Yemen and the Gulf states." "Fox" at multipurpose blog tractor facts can't get over Lebanon's refusal to arrest Abssi without the consent of other Arab countries: "The guy is wanted in Lebanon, but Lebanon officials in Lebanon cannot go into the camp in Lebanon and snatch this guy. I don't know what 'an agreement from other Arab countries' consists of, but good luck with that."

Lefty blog Prairie Weather blames the advent of the group on George Bush: "We knew this would happen.  It was inevitable; it springs from the arrogance and stupidity of the Bush administration; and it will set off -- undoubtedly -- a whole new series of recriminations and counter-recriminations."

Amal A at Improvisations: Arab Woman Progressive Voice thinks that the Times' reference to Abssi's theocratic hero, ninth-century Islamic scholar Abu Abdullah Muhammad al-Bukhari, as "Mr. Bukhari" is both hilarious and telling: "It's like calling Thomas Aquinas Mr. Aquinas! It's an interesting slip: comes out of lumping people together and collapsing past and present so history itself is erased: so now we have Mr. Abssi, Mr. Bin Laden, and Mr. Bukhari! Makes perfect orientalist sense!"

Read more about the rise of Fatah al-Islam.

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Red ownership society: China has passed its first law establishing property rights in the Communist nation. However, bloggers are quick to point out that only a privileged few will benefit from this capitalistic tilt, mainly an urban middle class hungry to invest in China's booming real estate market.

Conservative Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters says we can draw two conclusions from this policy shift in China: "One, capitalism works, and two, that truth doesn't quite sell yet in China. That could create some problems for Hu and Wen when it comes time to use the law in any practical manner. … Two years ago when the idea of private property rights first came into question, the government widely circulated the proposal to get the maximum amount of feedback. Not this time; academics say that their universities pressured them to stay silent, and barely a peep was heard about it in the Chinese media."

Liberal Matt Yglesias is more skeptical: "You have to wonder, for example, what kind of protection a law is supposed to offer if it's administered by a repressive dictatorship and if citizens seeking its enforcement have no recourse to an independent judiciary? It's obviously the case that you can, in practice, combine a capitalist economic system with a dictatorial form of government (see, e.g., Singapore) but it's still true that the logic of capitalist reform pushes in the direction of liberal politics."

The Wall Street Journal'sThe Informed Reader reminds us that the current regime in Beijing is more leftist than its predecessor and that "[t]he new law is mainly aimed at reassuring the fast-growing middle class that their assets are secure. Its ratification, expected later this month, would give private property the same legal protection as state property. Until now, state and local officials have been able to seize businesses and land for housing and factory construction in return for little or no compensation, moves that have led to widespread protests."

And R.J. Elliott at Chinese economy blog The China Analyst warns: "One issue is the problem of land grab. Far from helping the poor in rural China enforcing Property Rights will give legality to any land grab that has previously occured by Chinese Party Officials. This in a sense is setting in stone previous corrupt behaviour making a small number of individuals very rich."

Read more about property rights in China.

Michael Weiss is the director of communications at the Henry Jackson Society, a London-based think tank that promotes democratic geopolitics. He is also the spokesman for Just Journalism, which examines how Israel and the Middle East are portrayed in the U.K. media.