Baitul Futuh Mosque

Baitul Futuh Mosque, in London.
Today, Saturday, the largest mosque in Europe, the Baitul Futuh Mosque in London, is on fire. Completed in 2003, the 5.2-acre mosque can hold up to 10,000 people and cost a reported £15 million ($23 million) to build. Its ground and first floors are in flames, and around 70 firefighters and 10 engines are working to put them out. Information is still scarce - no word as to the cause or if anyone was hurt or trapped in the building.

This comes just three days after Moscow reopened what is now Russia's biggest mosque, the Moscow Grand Mosque, which sizes up at 4 acres and has a capacity of over 10,000. First built in 1904, it has been completely rebuilt, a project that started four years ago. Turkish President Recep Erdogan and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas spoke, along with Russian President Vladimir Putin, at the grand opening.

The contrast between the two events couldn't be more fitting, given the present political and religious climate.
moscow mosque
© Alexei Druzhinin / Reuters
Moscow Grand Mosque in Moscow, Russia.

For the past 15 years, both the West and Russia have focused their international rhetoric on the threat of Muslim terrorism. Putin was the first world leader to express his sympathy with America after the events of 9/11. Hours after the attacks, Putin was on the phone with President Bush.
"Russia knows directly what terrorism means," Putin said later in a televised address.

"And because of this we, more than anyone, understand the feelings of the American people. In the name of Russia, I want to say to the American people -- we are with you."

Months later, Putin revealed he had a premonition about terrorists and September 11.

"I told my American colleague, 'This really worries me. I have the feeling something is going to happen, that they are apparently preparing something,'" Putin said.
Putin's approach back in 2001 is very similar to his approach today regarding the crisis in Syria. Then it was 'Al-Qaeda'. Today it's 'ISIS'. Then the American Empire launched a 'global war on terror', which ended up destroying Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. Today it has launched a 'coalition' against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Putin's approach has been to support the official narrative but to also subtly undercut the hidden agendas.

By 2001, Russia had already been fighting its own 'war on terror' in Chechnya, which reverberated throughout the Russian Federation. Just as was the case with the Mujaheddin in Afghanistan in the '80s, the Chechen terrorists were supported by the West as a means of destabilizing Russia. Supporting the West's 'crusade' not only brought an official sense of legitimacy to Russia's struggle (painted as a war on freedom-fighting separatists by the Western media and politicians); it could also be seen as a subtle way of saying, "Put your money where your mouth is." If the West was really serious about fighting terrorism, it would actually do something about it, including for Russia.

The same scenario is playing itself out now. After funding 'moderate rebels' (i.e. terrorists) for the last 4 years to fight against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, (or rather the majority of the Syrian people that support him), with the ultimate goal of regime change (and destabilizing Russia in the process), Putin is essentially telling the West to put its money where its mouth is. If they are serious about fighting ISIS (hint: they aren't), then do the logical thing: form a real coalition with those countries with the means and will to do so - Assad's Syria, Iran, Hezbollah, the Kurdish militias and Russia. It's a deal the West can't refuse without tacitly admitting they don't want to defeat ISIS - i.e. ISIS is a means of fulfilling Washington's goals of destabilizing Syria and ousting Assad. Refusing would be like getting an offer from a professional renovator to fix up your fixer-upper for next to nothing. You'd be an idiot to say no. And if you did say no, it would be awfully suspicious.

When it comes down to it, Russia and the West may have very similar surface narratives - Muslim terrorism is bad. But they couldn't be more different in essence. Russia fought a real war against Western-sponsored terrorism, and won. But they are still vulnerable to the same proxy forces on their borders with Central Asia and the Caucasus. Russia and its ally Syria (Libya too) were, or currently are the victims of international terrorism. The West, on the other hand, is not. Rather, the West uses global terrorism (i.e. creates, funds, supports it) to destabilize 'enemy' nations, and engineer self-inflicted wounds that are then used to justify foreign interventions and increased police-state measures at home. It shouldn't come as a surprise - all psychopathy-inspired governments use similar tactics.

This is why the two "biggest mosque" stories from this week are so striking. In London, a symbol of Islam is burning; what better symbol for the climate of fear, bigotry and belligerence characterizing Western Europe's attitude to Islam since 9/11? And yet Moscow opened its mosque in a completely different climate, with starkly different core values. As Abbas put it at the mosque's opening ceremony:
"The construction of this mosque confirms Russia's high position in the world and its importance for the Arab and Muslim world" ... He added that he hopes the place of worship will become "a center spreading the spirit of peaceful coexistence of religions and peoples."

According to President Erdogan, Russia has set a very "vivid example of how to be good neighbors and how people of various religious and ethnic roots can coexist peacefully."

"And today we see Moscow gathering the variety of nations, uniting their common spiritual values, creating a single living space and setting a wonderful example for the future," the Turkish president added.
Regarding the sight of 150,000 Muslims gathered in prayer on Moscow streets to mark the re-opening of this enormous mosque, compare and contrast with the treatment of Muslims in the West, where hysteria about 'Muslims taking over and instituting Sharia law' has Europeans and Americans freaking out about what will happen to their 'white Christian country'. That's never been a problem in Russia, where Islam is the second biggest religion.


Around two million of Moscow's diverse population consider themselves Muslim or of Muslim descent.
Note also the guests of honor at this event: Erdogan of Turkey and Abbas of Palestine. Will Turkey support Russia's push into Syria or not? A possible clue came from their side-meeting, the outcome of which saw Erdogan and Putin agree to triple trade between Russia and Turkey within 7 years. That can't happen if Russia and Turkey are 'enemies'.

Coming just two days after Netanyahu's visit to Moscow, the message could not be clearer: Russia is not with you in your 'clash of civilizations'. Can anyone dispute that Russia is the Great Civilizer?

And now Putin is going into the lion's den (New York City, where mosque-building precipitates outbreaks of foaming at the mouth) to speak at the 70th UN General Assembly, where he'll be lectured on the ways of 'peace, tolerance, and how to end the madness in the Middle East'.

And contrast all this with
America's long-standing support of the crazed head-choppers, Saudi Arabia.

Bad omens piling up for Saudi Arabia

On Thursday, when Muslims worldwide were celebrating the holy day of Eid al-Adha, an estimated 2 million pilgrims traveled to Mecca. Over 700 people died and over 850 were injured when a stampede broke out just outside of Mecca. This is the latest tragedy at the holy Muslim city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, following a recent fire and the collapse of a large crane into the Grand Mosque last week, which happened 14 years to the day since 9/11 and the ensuing 'global war on terror', which Saudi Arabia played a major role in. At least 118 people were killed when the crane, operated by Bin Laden Construction Group (and owned by Osama's brother), was struck by lightning and blown over during a powerful sandstorm on the eve of the Hajj pilgrimage.

At the behest of Saudi King Salman, Saudi Binladin Group (SBG) has now been banned from taking on new work, and will have its current projects reviewed. Some other members of the Bin Laden family were killed in a private jet crash at a UK airport last month, in an incident which "doesn't make sense", according to a pilot who regularly flies into the airport.

Details about the exact cause of the stampede are scarce, but it is looking like the cause of this tragedy was none other than Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud:
The Arabic-language daily al-Diyar said in a report on Thursday that the convoy of Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud played a central role in the deadly crush on the third day of the annual Hajj pilgrimage earlier in the day.

The report said that Salman, who had sought to attend the huge gathering of pilgrims in Mina, a large valley about five kilometers (three miles) from Mecca, arrived at the site early on Thursday accompanied by a huge entourage.

The report said 200 army forces and 150 police officers escorted the prince.

The report said the presence of the prince in the middle of the population prompted a change in the direction of the movement of the pilgrims and a stampede.

The Lebanese daily further said that Salman and his entourage swiftly abandoned the scene, adding that the Saudi authorities seek to hush up the entire story and impose a media blackout on Salman's presence in the area.
Speaking of Saudi princes, another made the news this week. Majed Abdulaziz Al-Saud was arrested on Wednesday on charges of forced oral copulation, battery, and false imprisonment after his neighbors saw a bleeding woman trying to climb the 2.5-meter wall of his rented mansion in Beverly Hills.

This comes about a week after it was discovered that the UN had appointed the Saudi envoy to the United Nations Human Rights Council to head an influential human rights panel. Yep, that's the same Saudi Arabia whose track record surely makes them perfect to lead an international human rights panel:
  • beheading capital of the world, the penalty for such things as sorcery, adultery, apostasy and protesting. 21-year-old Ali Mohammed al-Nimr was arrested 4 years ago for participating in anti-government protests and "possessing firearms" - he's scheduled to be beheaded, after which his body will be mounted on a crucifix for public viewing);
  • rampant torture;
  • where women are forbidden from getting passports, marrying, traveling or going to university without a male guardian's approval;
  • ranked 164th out of 180 for freedom of the press;
  • has been bombing Yemen since March, killing thousands of civilians and hundreds of children.
Naturally, despite international outcry, the U.S. State Department "welcomed" the decision to have Saudi Arabia lead the Human Rights Council panel.

In addition to its deplorable human rights record, which should qualify it for a U.S.-sponsored color revolution (all other things being equal!), Saudi Arabia has been pivotal in the spread of ISIS and the specific Wahhabi/Takfiri brand of extremist Sunni Islam that bolsters it.