Ground Zero Imam: Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf – Denier, Defender and Apologist For the Genocide in Dafur, the Sudanese President and the Janjaweed/Militia.

Imam behind NYC Mosque Faces Divisions over Center

McAuley’s World Comments In Blue

What absolute nonsense… it is well known that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf refuses to condemn HAMAS  but did you know Imam Rauf also refuses to acknowledge or condemn the Genocide in Dafur, Sudan?  

 

Genocide Arrest Warrant Poster - Sudanese President

“12 July 2010 – UNITED NATIONS – The International Criminal Court (ICC) today issued a second arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, adding genocide to the list of charges for crimes he has allegedly committed in the war-ravaged Darfur region.”. “In March 2009 the Sudanese leader became the first sitting head of State to be indicted by the Court, which charged him with two counts of war crimes and five counts of crimes against humanity.”

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=27361&Cr=Darfur&Cr1 http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jul/14/sudan.warcrimes1

The Sudanese government has orchestrated and taken part in “large-scale international crimes” in Darfur, a high-level UN human rights team said today. Headed by the Nobel peace laureate Jody Williams, the UN assessors found the Sudanese government was responsible for waging a ruthless campaign resulting in war crimes and human rights abuses.”The principal pattern is one of a violent counter-insurgency campaign waged by the government of the Sudan in concert with Janjaweed/militia, and targeting mostly civilians. Rebel forces are also guilty of serious abuses of human rights and violations of humanitarian law”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/mar/12/sudan.jamessturcke  

Imam Rauf refuses to even recognize the genocide, never mind condemn the genocide.

The U.N. estimates that 300,000 people have been killed and another 2.7 million forced from their homes… http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=27361&Cr=Darfur&Cr1

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jul/14/sudan.warcrimes1

Amid the killing of tens of thousands of people, women in Darfur’s towns, villages and camps have experienced grave human rights abuses, including abductions, sexual slavery, torture and forced displacement at the hands of the Janjawid. As Amnesty International reported in July; women and girls as young as 8 are being raped and used as sex slaves in the conflict area, despite guarantees by the Sudanese government to disarm the Janjawid. These women and girls are being attacked not only to dehumanize them, but also to humiliate, punish, control, inflict fear upon, displace and persecute the community to which they belong.

The Janjawid have acted with full impunity and with the full knowledge or acquiescence of the government army, and the government of Sudan has not charged a single member of the Janjawid or of the armed forces with committing rape or kidnapping. In fact, the mass rapes ongoing in Darfur are war crimes and crimes against humanity that the international community is doing little to stop.

http://www.womensenews.org/story/commentary/040818/help-stop-violence-against-women-darfur  

There is an undeniable and overwhelming international consensus that genocide is taking place in Dafur. Imam Rauf refuses to even acknowledge the genocide, let alone condemn it… Contrary to what the liberal MSM is spinning … “Bridge Building” is not always a “positive” endeavor,  sometimes it is preferable to keep the river between you and what is on the other side. Just ask the women and children of Dafur. They have “No Where To Turn”.”Nowhere to Turn” is the title of a report documenting the scope and long-term impact of rape and other sexual violence experienced by women who fled attacks on their villages in Darfur and are now refugees in neighboring Chad. This scientific study was conducted in partnership with Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI). http://physiciansforhumanrights.org/library/report-2009-05-31.html

Dafur - Violence aganst woman

Imam Rauf, through the Cordoba Initiative, continues to act as denier, defender and apologist for the genocide in Dafur, the Sudanese President and the Janjaweed/militia.  

http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/cordoba_initiative_unveils_new_push_in_sudan/

http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/rethinking_sudan_problems_remain_but_there_are_opportunities_for_the_us-sud/                   

 http://edition.cnn.com/2004/LAW/10/27/rape.darfur/

Imam behind NYC Mosque Faces Divisions over Center  

 

Artist Rendering Ground Zero Memorial Park

NEW YORK

—Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has long worked to bridge divisions, be they fissures between interfaith husbands and wives or political chasms separating the United States and the Muslim world. The 61-year-old clergyman is now in the midst of a polarizing political, religious and cultural debate over plans for a multistory Islamic center that will feature a mosque, health club and theater about two blocks north of ground zero.

He is one of the leaders of the Park 51 Project, but has largely been absent from the national debate over the implications of building a Muslim house of worship so close to where terrorists killed more than 2,700 people.

Though Rauf has said the center, which could cost more than $100 million, would serve as a space for interfaith dialogue, moderate Muslim practice and peaceful prayer, critics say it will create a base for radical, anti-American Islam. Some critics have also asked where the funding for the center might originate and whether it may come from sources linked to Muslim extremists.

Artist Rendering of 8 Acre Memorial Park At Ground Zero

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a potential 2012 presidential candidate, called the backers of the project  “radical Islamists.” “They’re trying to make a case about supremacy” with the center, he said.

The American Jewish Committee has said that while Park51’s leaders have a right to build their center, they must “fully reveal” their sources of funding and “unconditionally condemn” terrorism inspired by Islamist ideology before they can obtain the organization’s support.

Those who know Rauf and have worked with him say that he is anything but extreme in his beliefs or intentions.

“He is one of the really important Muslim leaders in America, working for and working with other religions,” said the Rev. James Parks Morton, the former dean of the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine who has known Rauf and his family for more than 30 years. “He’s a very, very conciliatory, intellectual guy.”

During the past few months, Rauf has been in Malaysia, where his family has long-standing ties, and on a State Department-financed goodwill tour of Gulf countries.

Through a spokesman and his wife, he declined to speak with The Associated Press in recent weeks. His few interviews lately have been with local Arabic media during his State Department tour.

He told the daily Bahrain newspaper Akhbar Al-Khaleej on Aug. 24 that he blamed the news media, in part, for strained relations between Muslims and Americans. Rauf said the media “has succeeded in portraying stereotypical images, focusing on the negative and criticizing the other.”

[What role does the media play in Dafur, Sudan? Does the Imam believe the media has created a false “impression” of the genocide in Dafur? Shockingly, the answer is yes! The Imam will tell you the genocide in Dafur is, in fact, a fiction of the Western media.]

Ground Memorial Pool - Victims Names Will Be Inscribed Around The Pool

With Rauf largely absent from the debate, opponents have scoured past statements and critics portray the imam as tone-deaf to the sensitivities of families who lost relatives on Sept. 11. They argue he should forthrightly condemn Arab political movements such as Hamas that the U.S. government has designated as terrorist organizations.

Asked in June by WABC-AM whether he believed the State Department was correct in designating Hamas as a terrorist organization, Rauf gave a winding response: “I am not a politician. … The issue of terrorism is a very complex question. … I do not want to be placed … in a position of … where I am the target of one side or another.”

[Evil is evil and should be called what it is …. there is no room for equivocation]

Rauf rarely deviates in his interviews, speeches and books from a core message of the need for interfaith dialogue to resolve religious conflicts. What emerges is a portrait of a man who has passionately argued that Islam is inherently compatible with American life, and that each is enriched by the other.

[Then the Imam should stand and call for the acceptance of a universal right to “Freedom of Religion” and ask that his fellow Imams and the leaders in every Muslim Counrty and every other land of the world open their borders and welcome those who do not share the Muslim faith and that these people be allowed to establish  or re-establish Synagogues, Temples and Churches throughout Muslim lands … to put into practice the words of the Prophet Mohammed, “…There is no compulsion in religion…” (Quran 2:256),  because without such a statement and such actions Islam is not “inherently compatible with American life” … Why would the Imam not make such a call on behalf of “freedom of religion” everywhere? ] 

[… “to resolve religious conflict”,  how then does one resolve the “relgious conflict” in Dafur when the “conflict’ takes the form of genocide and one will not admit that genocide is taking place … genocide is not a “religious conflict” that can be “negotiated” … genocide is an evil and genocide must be ended not “negotiated” … one cannot compromise on genocide]

He has strongly opposed acts of violence in the name of Islam.

[Well, what absolute nonsense – to begin with Imam Rauf denies the genocide in Dafur, and is a major apologist for the Sudanese Regime charged with War Crimes by the U.N. International Criminal Court …] 

“The Quran allows fighting only in defense — when we are attacked or thrown from our homes or denied our basic rights because of what we choose to believe,” he writes in his 2004 book.

Terrorist Group Al-Shebab Beheads 7 "Christian Spies"

 [One of the reasons for the genocide in  Dafur is that the native Sudanese African farmers are “animists” and follow the ancient beliefs of their ancestors and refuse to surrender or “submit” to the Quran … The Islamists and Imam Rauf refuse to permit the African Sudanese’ the right to a freedom of their own ancestral religions. Animist: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/animist ]

“But even in those cases where fighting is allowed, the Quran never allows the killing of innocent people.”

[Why then does Imam Rauf refuse to acknowledge and condemn the genocide in Dafur?]

The annex of his book includes a 2001 fatwa, or religious ruling, signed by five Islamic scholars, that permits Muslims to fight for U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

He also writes that there is no circumstance under which the Prophet permitted suicide, and says so-called “martyrdom operations” are unsupported by Islam.

It is a phenomena that no civilized society — in the Muslim world or the West — should be content to accept,” he said.  

 

Boys, 15 & 16 years old executed for "homosexuality"

[An interesting phrase and concept, “a phenomena that no civilized society … should be content to accept“. Don’t civilized societies believe in “Freedom of Religion” for all, don’t civilized societies condemn genocide and don’t “civilized societies” condemn terroists orgainizations like HAMAS?]

Rauf was born in Kuwait, the son of an Egyptian imam and noted Islamic scholar, Muhammad Abdul Rauf, who came to New York City in the 1960s and helped lead efforts to establish the Islamic Cultural Center of New York, the city’s first building designed as a mosque. The multimillion-dollar project took more than 25 years and opened in 1991. The elder Rauf also led the Islamic Center of Washington before taking a job in Malaysia.

The younger Rauf didn’t follow his father’s path into religion until later in life. He studied physics at Columbia University and in New Jersey, and dabbled in teaching, sales and real estate. He married, first to an American who converted to Islam, and a second time to a Malaysian woman. He has two children from each of the marriages.

[When was the Imam at Columbia? Did he study at Columbia with President Obama? Neither Obama’s nor Rauf’s

Mass Execution of Christian "dissidents" by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Court

 records from Columbia have been made available for public review … can you name even one prior President who has kept his educational records secret from the American public? 

I find this curious, not for some grand conspriracy theory, but because my tax dollars are paying for Rauf’s tour of the Middle East and I want to know if that might be due to a personal friendship between Obama and Rauf, one that may have started at Columbia University. Obvioulsy, the MSM failed to properly vet either of these men …]

In the late 1990s, he married his third wife, Daisy Khan, who has actively supported the Islamic center proposal.

In 1983, Rauf was asked to lead prayers at a small mosque in lower Manhattan, 12 blocks from the World Trade Center site and near the Park51 project. The mosque, Masjid al-Farah, was created by a Sufi order called Nur Ashki Jerrahi, currently led by a woman, which means the order of light and love. Sufism is a mystical tradition that emphasizes a direct and personal experience of God through chanting and other acts of devotion, and is known for adapting to local culture.

[ http://www.allaboutreligion.org/sufism.htm – The author of the article has failed to note that the proposed “Ground Zero Mosque ” has nothing to do with the Sufi Sect. There are no Islamic states which regard themselves as officially Sufi. Sufism is characterized by the veneration of local saints and by brotherhoods that practice their own rituals. Sufis organize themselves into “orders” or groups, called Tariqas. These groups are headed by a leader called a Shaykh who is considered the most spiritual man with the most Taqwa among them. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/intro/islam-sufi.htm

Rauf is especially popular among young, urban professionals.

[ http://www.amnesty.name/en/news-and-updates/heavy-sentences-against-jailed-iranian-baha%E2%80%99i-religious-minority-leaders-condemned– ]

CRIME: Adultery SENTENCE: Beheading

Author Asra Nomani said she once attended a retreat organized by Rauf and Khan, and noted that Rauf allowed parallel prayer sections for men and women — a rare practice. In the majority of mosques, women sit behind men, shielded by a room divider.

“Imam Feisal, he has always been on a moderate course — many of us would call it a liberal-progressive course,” said Saleemah Abdul, 36, who works for the United Nations and is editor of a book on American Muslim women. “He has promoted women’s leadership, youth leadership in a time and a place where many Muslims felt isolated and alienated.”

[Liberal-Progressive? Is this what she means by Liberal-Progressive behavior? Parallel prayer sections? Wouldn’t a “Liberal-Progressive” publicly acknowledge a universal right to freedom of religion, that all men and woman are created equally and that all people are made in the image of God; Muslim, Jew – Hindu – Anamist and Christian, believer and non-believer alike, and that equal rights between the sexs are God given, not a creation of man. Wouldn’t a “Liberal-Progessive”  call upon all world leaders to acknowledge the same, specifically, that the leaders in Muslim lands recognize these basic rights of all mankind. If this is not so than how can Islam be “inherently compatible with American life”. Tell me do good “Liberal -Progressive Muslim’s” deny and defend genocide these days? Liberal – Progressive Islam with it’s “parallel prayer sections” for men and women and it’s “parellel systems of justice” for believer and non-believer …]

Rauf helped to establish the American Society for Muslim Advancement and the Cordoba Initiative, two organizations with missions to build dialogue between Muslims and the West.

[See the links above and the Imam’s actual letters from the Cordoba Initiative to the American Muslim Magazine, concerning what one might think is, based upon the Imam’s letters, a “genocide-less” Dafur].

His travels have been financed partly by the U.S. government, which has been sending him on diplomatic trips to

Public Executions Followed Protest of Iranian Election 2010

 Muslim nations since the Bush administration. Contributions to his nonprofit organizations have come from American groups like the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Ford Foundation, government agencies in Qatar and the Netherlands, and the Kingdom Foundation, a philanthropy affiliated with Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the largest shareholder in Citigroup.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, Rauf was called on repeatedly by news organizations to help explain to Americans why the U.S. was so hated by some factions in the Muslim world.

[Can he now explain to us why the “Muslim’s Factions” are so hated in Dafur today? Can the Imam explain the Muslim world’s replusion to the freedom of religion, revulsion to freedom of speech, freedom of expression and equality of the sexes and how this revulsion lies at the root of Islam’s replusion to all that is “inherently compatible with American life “ ] 

Some of his comments then have now been seized on by critics as evidence of anti-American views.

Iraqi Army Invades Kuwait

“We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaida has on its hands of innocent non-Muslims, he said in a 2005 lecture in Australia. “You may remember that the U.S.-led sanction against Iraq led to the death of over half a million Iraqi children. This has been documented by the United Nations.”

[What a strange analogy for a “Liberal/Progressive”; Is he refering to the sanctions approved by 114 member countries of the United Nations, sanctions that were put in place after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and the Regime of Suddam Hussien’s continued “human rights violations”,”acts of genocide’ and “crimes against humanity”, the acts that ultimately led to the conviction and execution of Hussein by the Iraqi people …  http://www1.american.edu/TED/iraqsanc.htm 

Has the Imam been asked his opinion about the execution of Saddam Hussien? Were the Iraqi people justified in their actions? Was the execution a “just act” under Muslim Law as he understands it? 

Given this statement by the Imam and the Imam’s failure to condemn HAMAS, shouldn’t the MSM ask the Imam his

Mass Funeral Victims Hussein's Poison Gas Attack

opinion of the current sanctions against Iran? To specifically ask the Imam his opinion … will the sanctions against Iran provide justification for the Imam to one day compare the terrorist activities of a rogue group of militant extremists to the unified actions taken by the United Nations against Iran? Could the Iranian sanctions serve to  justify some other terrorist attack in the Imam’s mind? A Liberal? A Progressive?]  

Rauf told an interviewer in July that about a decade ago he envisioned a global association of Muslim community centers modeled after the Young Men’s Christian Association, serving as centers of interfaith dialogue and spreading moderate Islam worldwide.

The first of these Cordoba Houses, as he initially referred to them, would be established in New York City.

[The quetion that begs to be asked is this, “and is it your intent that these Centers replace the YMCA’s, that your “Centers” will act to the exclusion or explusion of  YMCA’s throughout the world as Mosques have acted to forcibly replace Synagogues, Churches and Temples throughout the Muslim world? Is your goal, first and foremost, not interfaith dialogue but to spread Islam?]

Iraqi Troops Arrive in Halabja After Gas Attack - 5000 Murdered

“Our stated objective is to establish this as a launching point, as a headquarters if you want, of a global understanding, of a moderate Islam that is true to its fundamental principles,” He told the New York-based Intersections International, a group that has endorsed the Islamic center.

[Coincidentally, this is the same group that employed Michael Enright the man who slashed New York City Taxi Driver Ahmed H Shari.

 What did the Imam just say? Did the Imam just say the “Mosque would serve as a headquarters for the launching point of an Islam that is true to its fundamentalist principles”?. I, for one, believe he did … I for one, want a clear definition of the Imam’s “moderate Islam”, especially a “moderate Islam … true to it’s fundamentalist principles’ …]

 “And to accuse us as being the opposite of that flies in the face off our stated vision, our mission, my track record and everything I’ve ever done or stood for.”

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2010/08/28/imam_behind_nyc_mosque_faces_divisions_over_center/?page=1

Twelve Questions For Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf

1). Will you acknowledge the genocide in Dafur?

2). Do you acknowledge the charges of “War Crimes” brought by the United Nations International Criminal Court against the regime in the Sudan?

3). Will you condemn the genocide in Dafur?

4). Do you, as an individual, recognize an international right, an unalienable right, of all people throughout the world to worship or not worship, as they choose, without fear of harm, an international right to freedom of religion for all people?

5). Do you call upon all leaders, in all lands and of all faiths to recognize this right?

6). Will you call upon the civil, religious and most importantly, the theocratic leaders throughout the world to reopen the places of worship that they may have closed or may have been closed by their predecessors, within their lands and to permit the free and unencumbered exercise of the religion of choice by all people in all lands? If not, please explain how your position ”is inherently compatible with American life”?7). Will you acknowledge a universal right of equality between the sexes and call for an end to the “crimes against humanity” being committed in Dafur, Sudan? Will you call for an end to the barbaric and sexist practices of mutilating, stoning and beheading of women, whenever these actions might be occurring throughout the world? If you refuse to condemn these actions will you explain how these actions are “inherently compatible with American life”?

8). Will you call for an immediate end to the barbaric practice of executing individuals because of their sexual orientation and for an end to the equally barbaric practice of drugging and raping virgin’s prior to their execution. (“Members of Iran’s feared Basij militia forcibly marry female virgin prisoners the night before scheduled executions, raping their new “wives” and making it religiously acceptable to execute them, a self-professed member of the paramilitary group says… ” –    http://www.news.com.au/iran-virgin-prisoners-raped-for-legal-executions/story-0-1225752873650 ; Google “Virgin Rape Iran” for a long list of articles condemning this barbaric practice )

9). You have refused to acknowledge or condemn HAMAS as a terrorist organization. The Charter of HAMAS states that, “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it”. http://www.mideastweb.org/hamas.htm

Absent a general condemnation of HAMAS, will you as an Iman and a purported “Liberal/Progressive Muslim American leader”, denounce and condemn this specific component of the HAMAS charter, that your faith, Islam, has the right to ”obliterate” any other People, Race, Religion or Country?  Certainly, you must be willing to condemn the basic “concept” that any faith, be it “Islam” or any other faith or religion,  has a right to “obliterate” any other faith, people, religion or Country … the Imam does recognize, doesn’t he, that such a concept is not “inherently compatible with American life”.  

10). Will you specifically acknowledge that those individuals who choose not to believe in the “One True God” and choose to pursue forms of worship such as; Animism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism or those who choose not to pursue any religion at all, should be left to their personal freedom of expression, whatever it might be and that these individuals should never be put in fear of their life because of the choice they make and will you condemn those who will not acknowledge this universal right?  

11). Was the execution of Saddam Hussein for “crimes against humanity” a just and acceptable action under Islamic Law as you understand that law?

12). You have expressed an unusual position on the United Nations sanctions against Iraq; using those sanctions to justify the attack on innocent civilians in the WTC on 911 because of the “blood on American hands” that you associate with the United Nation’s Iraqi sanctions. 

The United Nations has recently initiated a host of sanctions against Iran. Will those sanctions serve as a justification in your mind if other attacks are launched by extremist Islamic Militants against innocent American civilians? 

Preparations are almost complete ... Gather the stones

Lessons to Learn from the H1N1 scare – The United Nations – WHO / CDC Manipulate Reporting –

Reposted from June 20, 2009 with a statistical  update from August 17, 2010  

Have you read an article like this …..

US swine flu cases now exceed 21,000; 87 deaths

ATLANTA – The national count of swine flu cases has risen to 21,449 cases and the number of deaths have nearly doubled to 87.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the number of confirmed and probable cases Friday morning. The tally is up from the last week’s count of 18,000 cases and 44 deaths

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090619/ap_on_sc/us_med_swine_flu_4

The United States is a Country of 300,000,000 plus (300 Million plus) people. The percent of the population that has contracted the much hyped Swine Flu stands at .00007 %, or in other words, 1 person in every 10,700 has contracted the flu since the Government inspired “panic”, complete with school and business closings, started 4 months ago.

The odds are much better that you’ll be struck by lightning, at some point in your lifetime, than of catching the Swine Flu. (The odds of being struck by lightning, assumming you live to be 80, is 1 in 5000 – http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/medical.htm ). 

It is estimated that 100 individuals a year die from bee stings in the U.S. (http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/bee-and-wasp-stings) , over 8,000 people are bitten by poisonous snakes each year. http://www.whmentors.org/saf/snakes.html .

On average, 15 children die every day due to preventable accidental injury in the US. http://www.usa.safekids.org/tier3_cd.cfm?content_item_id=24791&folder_id=300 . During the time period when the US has experienced 87 flu related deaths mentioned in this article, 1800 children have died in preventable accidents.

Relief agencies estimate that 10,000 displaced people are dying from disease and malnutrition every month in Dafur’s refuge camps. A condition that has existed since 2003.  http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2008-03-28-2046054389_x.htm  

While the flu related deaths, like any death, are regrettable, I don’t understand the continued hype. Is it possible the Government is trying to create a distraction from the real crisis, like the US ecomony? Is the CDC and WHO acting out of a “self serving” interests … we need to follow the money … who is manufacturing the vacinations? 

McAuleys World Update: Single response directed to the 26 irate Obama supporters to send the same response to this blog today: 1) Reference the sited article before you make the ridiculous claim that the stats that I sited are out of date –  what a miserably weak responce – the Associated Press report is dated Friday June 19, 2009 – yesterday. The statistics, quoted in the article as coming from the CDC, are obviously correct and current. 2) You are all Political Science majors correct –  because it is obvious none of you are handy with math.

Maybe it’s an Obama thing? His math is fuzzy too.

All 26 claim, incorrectly, that the death toll associated with the swine flu in the U.S. is now 150. As if the alleged increase from 88 to 150 would suggest some sort of statistical significance in evalauting the Swine Flu as a national threat. While the deaths are a tragedy for the families that are directly involved, from the perspective of a national medical emergency, the Swine Flu is a non-event. The school and business closings have been unnecessary and wasteful. Even assuming  15o deaths associated with the Swine Flu, 150 is something less than one person out every 2 million (2,000,000). Let me help you out with your math …… heard the term “a shot in a million”, dying from the swine flu is twice as rare. 

Thanks for the comments anyway …… do you all work in the same “blogging office”? Is there a supervisor that writes your responses for you? It simply isn’t statistically possible to receive 26 responses, all claiming Friday’s stats from the CDC, are out of date, without sometype of coordinated activity taking place.

Update 08/17/2010

Chicken Little over swine flu: Learning from the H1N1 scare

Last year’s scare over a potential H1N1 flu epidemic was a bust, the WHO now indicates. With reports of another scare over a “superbug” supposedly from India, officials and media need to act with caution and restraint without stoking fears.

Some media outlets are making much of reports that Westerners seeking low-cost medical treatment in India might have returned carrying a drug-resistant bacterial infection. But that news should be seen in light of another, less noticed news item this week: As a potential pandemic, the H1N1 flu virus was a bust.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says H1N1, also known as swine flu, is not eradicated, but it has lost its “superbug” status, becoming just another flu variant among many.

Fourteen months ago dire predictions swirled through the news media about the possible effects of H1N1. Hundreds of thousands of deaths were possible, and perhaps 40 percent of the US work force could be affected, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated. (The CDC had already declared the H1N1 public health emergency over by June 23.)

Nothing remotely close to those predictions came about. The WHO estimates the number of deaths from H1N1 in 2009 at 18,500, [world wide] though it says that number is almost surely underreported. Still, it is a figure far lower than the hundreds of thousands of deaths worldwide attributed to other strains of influenza every year. Why did the pandemic fizzle? “Pure good luck,” WHO Director-General Margaret Chan says, that it didn’t mutate into a more troublesome form.

European governments and medical groups have criticized the way the WHO handled the H1N1 outbreak, saying it caused unnecessary expense, including stockpiling of unneeded drugs, and undue public alarm.

Dr. Chan has defended the organization’s actions, pointing out that from the start the WHO had termed H1N1 as “a pandemic of moderate severity” from which ”most people” would recover – many without receiving any medical treatment.

But is that the impression that was left on most people?

“The number of victims of H1N1 fell far short of even the more conservative predictions by the WHO,” said an investigative article in BMJ (British Medical Journal) in June. The authors’ “investigation has revealed damaging issues. If these are not addressed, H1N1 may yet claim its biggest victim – the credibility of the WHO and the trust in the global public health system.”

Questions have also been raised about the secret “emergency committee” that guided the WHO’s policies on H1N1.

This week the WHO released the names of the emergency committee, several of whom had ties to drug manufacturers as advisers or received support for their research from the industry.

Fighting an infectious disease is a serious matter. Public health organizations and governments can face tough calls in trying to pass along sensible information about possible health problems. They must share helpful information without creating undue panic or alarm. Chan suggested that “perhaps we need more flexibility in our future pandemic planning.” In the future the organization might offer “a best-case, an intermediate-case, and a worst-case scenario … to allow flexibility and adjustment as we track the evolution of the pandemic.”

The news media bear a responsibility, too, in not sensationalizing a public health story in order to grab reader attention. But today formal news organizations are less the “gatekeepers” of such news than ever before. People share their own versions of what’s happening via social media: e-mails, Facebook, Twitter, and the like. Chan acknowledged as much, noting that “we need to adapt the way we do communication, and learn how to work with social media and social networks.”

Perhaps some of these lessons can be applied to the “superbug” now being traced to India. The H1N1 pandemic that never was may provide a useful history lesson in that regard.

http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/the-monitors-view/2010/0813/Chicken-Little-over-swine-flu-Learning-from-the-H1N1-scare

McAuleysworld Comments

Another United Nations Group discredited for it’s self serving manipulation of scientific inquiry … an inquiry that netted a tremendous amount of money to “policy makers” whose decisions are made behind closed doors …. Move over UN IPCC (United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), you are clearly not alone ……… 

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