As a small nation, Israel takes enormous pride in its high-technology and cyber security industry. The Pegasus spyware of Israeli cyber-surveillance firm NSO Group has been reported as having infected the iPhones of activists, journalists, and human rights defenders in at least 45 countries. This is software that can hack into your smartphone, access your data, and even listen to you… and all without you knowing it.
But what is Pegasus spyware? How can it be infiltrated into cell phones without user knowledge? And how dangerous is this technology?
An introduction to NSO & Pegasus
At the center of the Pegasus spyware controversy is NSO, an Israel-based cyber security firm. Founded by Omri Lavie and Halev Haulio in the year 2008, Pegasus soon caught the attention of western soy agency executives after it developed a technology that allows the cell phone manufacturer to remotely access their consumer’s device for maintenance purposes.
Social media and encrypted messages presented a new challenge of tracking terrorist organizations using “going dark” methods. As a result, Pegasus, the mobile surveillance tool, circumvented that hurdle by infiltrating phones in order to collect personal and location data and stealthily control the smartphone’s microphones and cameras. Those tools let hackers track the communications between journalists and sources.
These programs are disguised and designed to deceive security systems. Researchers say that NSO Group’s methods for infecting its victims have become so sophisticated that it can now do so without involvement from the victim, the so-called zero-click option. The Pegasus virus infects phone systems by sending texts that entice individuals to follow a link attached. By clicking the link, the company can access the contents and history of the target’s phone and activate the phone’s microphone and camera at any time.
But, even after ten years of inception, NSO claims that it only offers its product and solutions to the governments. Again, quoting NSO’s statement, “governments on every continent except Antarctica.”
What Makes Pegasus Spyware So Dangerous?
Spyware falls under the umbrella term of malicious software. Initially introduced as mere pranks by software developers, but with technological advancement, malware has become an essential part of online frauds, cyber warfare, and other malicious deeds.
The NSO Group, whose mission is to “save lives and create a more secure, better world,” developed technology that helps government agencies detect terrorism and crime. In contrast, the recently published leak of Pegasus data and list of victims indicate that the technology has been used to spy on journalists and ministers.
A collaboration by massive international media and human rights houses, the Pegasus Report published over two months ago, leaked 50,000 phone numbers being tapped by Pegasus spyware. With the advancement of its zero-click option, the dangerous technology could now be placed into any phone just by a missed call.
Once more in the news for spying, the Pegasus program can be delivered unknowingly to an individual’s mobile device. Besides collecting all personal information, it also tracks user activity within apps, gathers location data, and even accesses its camera or microphone.
Pegasus was first placed under the limelight in the year 2012 by the Israeli journalist Shay Aspril during its first sale to Mexico. His book, The Judge, explores Israel’s high-tech fields’ numerous dubious ethics.
Advocates of Israel’s Internet security industry claim NSO has tarnished its otherwise highly respected industry that defends nations against cyber threats. Tel Aviv University reported that Israeli exports of cybersecurity in 2020 were worth $6.85 billion. In addition, Israel has been portrayed as a lab for spy technology by Palestinians, where young recruits are studying cyber security and selling their knowledge to the private sector.
Who can be Hold Accountable for the Privacy Breaches?
In recent years, NSO says it tightened its protocols, was more selective in choosing clients and had blocked governments from access to the spyware on five occasions. However, it says it does not influence who is spied upon. The Washington Post reports that in the past year, the company cut off Saudi Arabia from access and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
Furthermore, the law passed by the Israeli government in 2007 for regulating the export of cyber technology frees the government from any interventions in the information gathered by NSO’s clients. After the leak of the spyed-over victims, NSO cleared that it only sells its spyware to government officials of the UAE, Hungary, and Saudi Arabia.
Pegasus Spyware: The New Generation of Cyber Warfare
In late July, United Nation’s human rights experts called out for international collaboration to put a global moratorium on the purchase and sales of spyware or extensive malware technology. The experts stated, “Given the extraordinary audacity and contempt for human rights that such widespread surveillance shows if the denial of collusion by the NSO Group is to have any credibility at all, the company must disclose whether or not it ever conducted any meaningful human rights due diligence.”
Forensic Architectures Shourideh Molavi and Eyal Weizman recently published their open-source investigation and displayed their gathered information on the pegasus infection. The report highlights how spyware and malware like Pegasus can relate to the violence in the real world and how it has costed many lives.
Former UN rapporteur David Kaye says that cyber spying is not just limited to Israel, and democracies around the globe need to regulate the growing risk.
Argentina wins the World Cup; are there any other winners?
Obviously, the standard of winning in the world cup is winning the Cup, yet others have joined the honor of moral winning and entered history at its sharpest edge. First, among other winners, Qatar has achieved super outstanding success in hosting the World Cup, which befits its place. Second, many Arab teams won and scored well in some matches such as Tunisia and Saudi Arabia which succeeded in defeating the legend Messi. Third, some of the Arab teams have qualified for the World Cup finals for the first time such as Morocco. Thus, this has demolished the idea of the inability of Arab youth to achieve success in football and to consider the West as a criterion for success.
That idea of misfortune, which lived in our minds and traced the minds of Arab youth, brought them into the circle of disability, lack of initiative, improved performance, attempt, confrontation, and achievement, Unfortunately. Nevertheless, this is no more happening. Among all, Palestine, Qatar, Israel, Racism, and Islam are all topics that took great attention and importance during the tournaments. Mainly, talking about other winners is our focus here.
Qatar: What a pride!
The small but influential State of Qatar was able to realize the Arab dream of hosting the FIFA World Cup as well as organizing a unique version of the World Championship. This is not strange nor unlikely for a country like Qatar, which has accumulated long experience in organizing global events. Qatar organized several global events, including the Climate Conference (COP18) in 2012. The closest example is the mini “rehearsal” that preceded the World Cup, the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup.
Since the first day of the tournaments, the world has been dazzled and fascinated by Qatar’s legendary uplifting World Cup opening. Harmoniously, the opening, which was a wonderful art, blended local and Arab national cultures with Qatar’s customs and traditions. The football masses have praised Qatar’s generosity, hospitality, and creativity.
Qatar has beautifully reflected the Islamic culture theme in the event’s hosting laws that reflected the authentic Islamic culture. For example, opening the event included many arts with a musical background, and video scenes reflecting the link between the authenticity of the past and the rhythm of the present by modern technical means.
It managed to overcome the West’s offensive campaign regarding the workers’ crisis, the imposed Islamic rules, and refuting the thought of being an incompetent country. It was also able to overcome the political crisis with its Gulf surroundings and the stifling blockade it suffered. Seriously, Qatar has thoroughly considered every tiny detail of the event. Consequently, none can deny the fact that Qatar has made unparalleled success along with moral values rooted in its blood. The last day of tournaments was a day of pride and a day of success. The people of Qatar shared their joy on Qatar’s National Day in scenes expressing the fulfillment and joy of the achievements of these people for a moment, from the beginning of the World Cup to the final. Moreover, building infrastructures with paying attention to the principle of sustainability was yet another field of success.
Read more on this/ Qatar FIFA 2022, A Civilized Model Of Islam
Western Racism toward Arabs and Muslims
Arabs have long suffered systematic attacks for portraying them as a nation unable to achieve success and participate effectively in major global events. But, now came the time to demolish all these ignorant racist views. For example, Morocco’s best international achievement came at the 2022 World Cup. Morocco became the first African team to qualify for the semi-finals of the World Cup after the previous three African quarter-finalists were eliminated. Morocco was unbeaten in their last six World Cup matches (winning 3 and drawing 3), the longest-unbeaten African team in the history of the World Cup by counting their 2-2 draw against Spain in Morocco’s last encounter with the Russian World Cup. Most importantly, their greatest win is being crowned with the love of Arabs.
Qatar’s success in hosting the World Cup gives Arabs hope that they can catch up with civilizations at all levels. But it needs great time and effort. It also requires sincerity of intent, decision, will, deviation from dependence, and focus on the interests of our people. Another aspect includes no more considering the west as a criterion for judgments and laws. The masses not only accepted the imposed Islamic rules but also praised them and considered them a good choice. Despite all these fabulous achievements, some will never abandon the racist look for Arabs. For example, Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, draped Lionel Messi in an Arab bisht before lifting the World Cup as an act of courtesy and appreciation. BBC host Gary Lineker said, “it was a shame they had covered his shirt,” during what was “a magical moment.”
On the other hand, the moment when Sofiane Boufal along with his mother made a celebratory victory dance at the pitch went viral. This exact scene warmed our hearts, not just us as Muslims or Arabs but also the westerners too. They were amazed by the Islamic values present during the tournaments. They felt the unity, love, gratitude, and family values of the Muslims especially. In addition to the Islamic preaching made by Qatar’s efforts, many football fans converted to Islam. Yet, again, some will insist to believe and increase Islamophobia to deviate us from the track of success, of course.
Read more on this/ The World Cup in Qatar and Die-hard Western Racism
Love for Palestine, hatred for Israel
Others have joined the honor of moral winning like Palestine, for instance. At the World Cup, Palestine’s presence was evident, and the absence of Israeli media and flag as an intolerable guest. Some people did not know anything about the Palestinian cause while some believed the misleading story of Israel. However, thanks belong to the supporting campaign, with Qatar as a contributor, things have changed. For instance, non-Arab and Muslim audiences (for example, the Brazilian public) appeared to celebrate their win by singing to Palestine.
Read more on this/ Palestine is Entrenched In the Heart of Qatar World Cup
Today, we are the one who is writing history from an Arabic land by our rules. It is worth mentioning that people must stop saying that it is all about anti-Semitism. This is either based on ignorance or claims of stupidity. Qatar, Palestine, and Muslims, in general, are all other winners too. The question remains in our minds. If the World Cup were in another Arab country, would it have succeeded in this way and left moral impacts on the world?
The Crises of Multiculturalism In Europe And The Question Of The Muslim Immigration
The Crises of Multiculturalism in Europe
In the part of the world considered to be the West, multiculturalism initially originated in the nineteenth century in the American context. Even then it was a broad phrase that was difficult to define since it has descriptive, strategic, and normative connotations. This discussion to this date still often pops up in political debates and government gatherings in Europe aimed at discussing what all things should be considered to encompass it. However, the generic definition refers to a society’s cultural, ethnic, and religious variety on an empirical level and clearly differs from monoculturalism or the presence of only one culture in a society. To understand the crises of multiculturalism in Europe, its important to understand generic meaning of multiculturalism.
Terence Turner, an anthropologist at the University of Chicago attempts to define multiculturalism in his 1993 essay in the following terms:
“In calling for the formal equality of all cultures within the purview of the state and its educational system, multiculturalism represents a demand for the dissociation (decentering) of the political community and its common social institutions from identification with any one cultural tradition.” (Turner)
Unlike other western countries such as the United States, Australia, and Canada, European countries were not very quick to welcome cultural diversity until the late twentieth century. Even the contemporary reality of Europe, keeping in view particular incidents like hate crimes in places like London and Germany against Muslims to the passing of laws such as the veil ban in France; dictates a crises of multiculturalism in Europe.
When did European Nations Embrace Multiculturalism?
It is a widely held belief that European nations did not outrightly embrace multiculturalism until the late twentieth century. And that it was specifically the post-war immigration and country-specific measures to integrate incoming immigrants seeking asylum in Europe that preceded this newly approved transformation. As a result, when considering crises of multiculturalism in Europe, multicultural policies and in fact understanding this colossal concept in its entirety are almost always limited to the integration of immigrants who arrived during the post-war wave of migration.
The tense relationship that Europeans have with religiously and ethnically diverse minorities, notably Muslim immigrants, is at the center of both national and international discussions and disputes.
These current disputes and the debatable state of Muslim minorities in Europe, however, cannot be understood in isolation solely from the point of view of the present migrant or refugee crisis.
Even before the tragic 9/11 attacks or attacks in other parts of Europe like the London bombings on 7 July 2005 referred to as 7/7, ethnic and religious conflicts had already begun to prompt a reconsideration of multiculturalism as a sustainable ideology for Europe.
Multiculturalism, on the other hand, has become ingrained in most European countries’ daily lives and it won’t be incorrect to say that it cannot possibly be entirely reversed. However, issues arising at both the institutional and decision-making levels, as well as on the societal level through general public opinion, have made daily life more difficult for Muslims of various ethnocultural groups who are either living or wish to live their lives according to their religious and cultural traditions.
The question of Muslim migration in Europe
Europe has seen a record surge of asylum seekers from countries that are predominantly Muslim in recent years. This influx of Muslim migrants has sparked a huge debate in some nations concerning immigration and security policy, as well as concerns about the existing and future numbers of Muslims in Europe. The crises of multiculturalism in Europe is dictated to a very large extent by the question of the Muslim migration. Migration has been a contentious subject almost since the time of its inception.
But the more intriguing debate around the question of migration is always the largest influx of Muslim migrants. However, it is important to understand the history of Muslim migration in Europe. There are primarily two reasons why Muslim migrants were coming to Europe in large numbers and at a fast pace.
The first reason was the economic migration of Muslims from third-world countries in search of jobs and earning opportunities. The second reason was the numerous and continuous wars in predominately Muslim nations that pushed the fleeing Muslims to migrate to Europe.
Economic migration of Muslims from third-world countries
Those who had previously left their nations in quest of work, social benefits, and greater earnings were the earlier migrants. The vast majority of these first-generation migrants arrived from third-world countries in the 1950s and 60s when they were young and looking for work. They had no intention of settling permanently, rather they only planned to come to earn enough money to save in order to send it back home. These migrants rarely got white-collar jobs and usually were restricted to doing manual work in factories and industries regarded as the “unprofessional work sector”.
Overall, these migrants helped towards the economic prosperity of many European countries by building railroads and roads, cleaning and maintaining the streets, government, and private offices, working in coal mines and industries, and taking up occupations that Europeans were unwilling to do themselves.
In Western Europe, there was no “migrant crisis” till then and, by extension, no “Muslim migration influx” until 1970 as such. In public spaces, migrants were mainly unnoticed, and Europeans were not only insensitive but indifferent to them. These migrants did not explicitly exhibit any radical or specific religious obligations, nor did they demand any space for it, since they did not want to dwell permanently in Europe.
Muslim migrants were not explicitly discriminated against or prejudiced due to their identity because they contributed to the well-being of European societies. While there was classism as well as racism, there was no manifestation of anything that would be recognized as Islamophobia. In short, migration was regarded as a benefit rather than a burden, and even less so as a threat.
Read here, The Forgotten Jammu Massacre
Muslims fleeing war and conflict in predominantly Muslim Nations
The second reason for the Muslim migrant influx in Europe is people fleeing war and conflict zones. Millions of people have been forced to escape their homes around the Muslim world due to a variety of such factors, including interstate conflicts, civil wars, US-led military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, in addition to a variety of other natural calamities like earthquakes and Tsunamis. Many people have crossed national boundaries and are now living as refugees in neighboring nations. Most of these migrants however preferred to go to European countries in search of asylum and larger educational and earning opportunities, but besides everything for a safe war-free environment.
While fleeing war and death in their own countries millions of Muslim migrants are still in limbo waiting for confirmation on whether they can make stable lives for themselves in European countries. However, many of the migrant Muslims who were seeking asylum in Europe and did actually manage to get in are still unsure if they can call Europe their home.
Despite the fact that the Muslim migrants were escaping war, they were later subjected to intolerance, discrimination, and violence in the countries in which they sought refuge.
Since, unlike the earlier economic migrants, these migrant Muslims came to Europe looking for a place to call home, they were exhibiting their religious identity in public, and it did not settle well with the Europeans this time. These Muslims living in Europe were started to be seen as outcasts based on the visibility of their “Muslimness’. Any outward display of Islam like the wearing of a hijab by Muslim women or the growing of a beard and wearing a skull cap by Muslim men started to be seen with contempt and resulted in the phenomenon of Islamophobia. While the roots of Islamophobia are widely contested, it only came to be recognized as an existing phenomenon around this time.
Palestine is Entrenched In the Heart of Qatar World Cup
Almost every match of the Qatar 2022 World Cup has witnessed signs of having Palestine entrenched in the heart of World Cup’s fans by either raising the Palestinian flag, wearing a Palestinian kufiyah or chanting slogans in solidarity with the people of Palestine. Palestine is a kind of country that is physically absent but spiritually present in the heart of the World Cup in Qatar. There is hardly a match, event, or promotional activity without the presence of the Palestinian flag, even though its team does not participate in the tournament. This edition of the World Cup tournaments is, by all means, different and holds significant importance since its beginning 92 years ago for the Arabs and the Palestinians. Since the beginning of the tournaments, Palestinians have been looking forward to spreading awareness about their suffering and getting their voice heard on a large scale.
What is in the heart, is in the heart
Arabs’ unity at its best in supporting Palestinians is present in a chilling way in the Mondial. This is almost the first time for Muslims, Arabs, and especially Palestinians to have their powerful platform to speak aloud. They need to speak loudly about their suffering in the largest gathering ever. The Palestinian flag has been flown with pride at stadiums across Doha since the tournament kicked off.
The unifying power of football has been unmistakably displayed, with Palestinians eager to throw their support behind Arab teams upsetting football’s international elite. On the other hand, Arabs have also shown signs of solidarity with the Palestinians during the tournaments. “My friends and I have been exchanging videos posted online showing Arab people waving the Palestinian flag, it’s a testament that we are one and Palestine is alive in the hearts and minds of all Arabs,” a fan said. Furthermore, Arab activists on “Twitter” launched a campaign to boycott companies supporting the “Israeli” occupation, and widely raised Palestinian flags during the World Cup Qatar 2022. Beautifully, Tunisian fans chanted for Palestine and raised the Palestinian flag outside the stadiums beautifully displaying Palestine entrenched in the heart of the World Cup.
Qatar encapsulates timeless universal solidarity with Palestine
It is not surprising to see the Qatari fans’ support for the Palestinians in the Mondial. On top of all supporting countries, Qatar has always shown solidarity with the Palestinian question whether spiritually or financially. Significantly, Qatar has seized the chance not only to spread Islamic culture and history but also the Palestinian question as well. Likewise, a Qatari man filmed a video on social media showing him distributing Palestinian armbands.
Several Qataris wore armbands featuring a pro-Palestinian design at the Mondial, according to photos posted on Twitter. The armbands bore the black-and-white design of the kufiyah scarf that is synonymous with the Palestinian cause. They were an apparent response to players and officials protesting FIFA’s players who wear the gay armband on the pitch. On top of all of that, Winterhill Hospitality, the official Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup hospitality-booking site, has put ‘Occupied Palestinian territories’ as a country option, without mentioning ‘Israel’ on its list. Moreover, it launched a popular campaign called “The Palestinian Dream” in Qatar. It aims to raise awareness of the Palestinian cause and the crimes of the occupation. It also has another aim: taking advantage of the major global event “World Cup”.
In addition, a Qatari man appeared in a video refusing to talk to an Israeli reporter as a way of showing solidarity with the Palestinian cause. Not only him, but also many Qataris showed refusing to interact with Israeli reporters. They also held the Palestinian flags high in every street, car, and stadium.
Israel is hopelessly isolated as Palestine is entrenched in the heart of the masses
As a sign and a result of showing solidarity with Palestinians, the masses have hopelessly outcasted and isolated Israeli media in front of the world. The Israeli media appeared isolated amidst large numbers of Arab fans. Whenever knowing their Israeli identity and hear their broken Arab accent, pro-Palestinians rally around them with dozens of Palestinian flags. For more, click here. “We feel hated, surrounded by hostility and unwanted,” an Israeli journalist said. Another Israeli reporter interviewing a Saudi fan burst into anger shouting that “Israel stays for doomsday.” This is a sign of covering up the distress and anger in which he is. This Mondial has proved the hatred of Arabs, Muslims, and some Westerners worldwide for the Israelis. A Saudi fan was overwhelmed in a video telling an Israeli reporter that he is not welcome here.
As a result, Israeli media started to flounder for being a redundant intolerable guest. “After a while, we decided to claim we were Ecuadorian when someone would ask us where we were from,” an Israeli reporter said. Read more on this: Is anti-Semitism essential for the survival and growth of Zionism and Jewish peoplehood?
The Yemeni, Saudi, and Tunisian masses gave a harsh lesson to the Israeli journalist Jay Hochmann. This happened when he stood among their groups to impose himself among them, so they cheered “Palestine”. Furthermore, Yediot Ahrnot said that their coverage of the World Cup showed the magnitude of the Arabs’ hatred of Israel. It also noted that Iranian, Qatari, Jordanian, Moroccan, Syrian, Lebanese, and Egyptian fans were looking at them with hate looks.
Summing up, it is the instinct of Arabic peoples to show such solidarity with Palestinians. All the presented signs show that Palestine is entrenched in the heart of World Cup fans. Through their unity and awareness, the Palestinian question is strongly dominant in the scene. Most importantly, let us not forget the enormous efforts of Qatar of supporting Palestinians in all circumstances. One of the most critical factors to make full benefit of the Qatar World Cup in support of the Palestinian cause is to communicate directly with match commentators, presenters, and influencers. This can be via television, radio channels, or social media sites to highlight, talk about, and address the Palestinian issue during their comments on the games.
In addition to the need to interact on social media sites via several tags, most notably Palestine in the World Cup, to get the issue to the extreme and the most significant gatherings. This interaction proved that the question of Palestine is still alive and still entrenched in the hearts of all Arabs and Islamic peoples in the World Cup. Qatar World Cup FIFA has become the main platform to convey the Palestinian question to the whole world. On the other hand, negligence and outcast, at least, are what Israelis got due to their bloody deeds against Palestinians. From our platform, we announce our support for Qatar and the Palestinian question as well.
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