Best columns: International
Terrorism against Arab culture
The wanton destruction of holy sites by ISIS is a violation of the sacred teachings of Islam, said Zaid Belbagi. Early Muslim rulers “preserved and built upon the cultural foundations of previous civilizations,” even when they conquered them. Omar Ibn al-Khattab, the second caliph, for example, maintained the churches in Jerusalem as Christian houses of worship. Under his expansion of the caliphate in the 7th century, and for hundreds of years thereafter, “great care was taken to preserve holy sites that came under Islamic tutelage.” Contrast this with the “cultural terrorism” practiced by ISIS, which last week blasted to rubble the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in the Iraqi city of Mosul. The house of worship, with its famous leaning minaret, dominated Mosul’s skyline for more than 800 years and was even pictured on Iraq’s 10,000- dinar banknote. It’s just the latest atrocity by ISIS, which also destroyed the tomb of the prophet Jonah in Mosul and historic sites in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra. Nearly as bad is the damage ISIS has caused to historic mosques by treating them as military bases. “Minarets are frequently used as sniper nests, and prayer halls as weapon stores,” in utter disregard of Islamic teachings. Such sacrilege proves ISIS has no claim to the caliphate.
Trump panders to the Miami Cubans
Juana Carrasco Martín
Miami Cubans are an embarrassment, said Juana Carrasco Martín. When President Trump announced in Miami recently that he was curbing former President Obama’s détente with Havana, a crowd of Cuban exiles whooped and cheered his retrograde Cold War rhetoric, chanting “USA! USA!” and waving American flags. Yet this “small and intolerant group” is a minority, not just of Americans but also of Cuban-Americans, most of whom support increased ties, trade, and tourism between the two nations. It’s ironic that the man who pushed Trump to reverse diplomatic progress, Cuban-American Sen. Marco Rubio, was not born in Cuba, has never visited it, and doesn’t “understand Cubans’ efforts, work, and sacrifices to safeguard their independence and sovereignty.” When Rubio addressed the rally, “he spoke in English,” like everybody else. But it turns out that Trump lied to the Miami Cubans. All his new directive does is slightly tighten travel restrictions for Americans. The U.S. Embassy in Havana will remain open, commercial flights and cruise trips to Cuba will continue, and the 22 accords that the Obama administration signed with Havana—on issues as diverse as maritime and air safety and cooperation on the environment—are still in effect. The Miami Cubans are just the latest dupes of this “arrogant, incoherent” excuse for a president. ■