Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20100618

Financial Crisis
»ADB: Morocco Standing Up to International Shock
»Believing World War III is Only Four Years Away, Ultra-Rich Europeans Are Investing in Oil and Gold
»Bishop Palermo: Strong Movements From South
»Greece: Unions Protesting Against Pension Reform
»Greece: Left Urges ‘War’ On Austerity
»Guess Who Holds Patent for Carbon Trading Plan
»Italy: Property Slump Affects $2.6 Bln Milan Project
»Pensions: Paris Towards Increase in Civil Servants’ Taxes
»2-Inch-Tall Army Soldiers Gets School Kid Reprimanded
»BP Oil Spill: Against Gov. Jindal’s Wishes, Crude-Sucking Barges Stopped by Coast Guard
»Court: Christian Tracts Allowed at Arab-Fest
»Disclose Act — We Must Defeat This Bill!
»Exclusive: Alert Issued for 17 Afghan Military Members AWOL From U.S. Air Force Base
»FCC Seeks More Internet Regulation
»Hatch Introduces Legislation Repealing Portions of [Obamacare]
»Kennedy Says Obama Did ‘Excellent Job’ Over Oil Spill
»Mohegan Sun Casino Owners Received $54 Million in Stimulus Money
»Obama Nominee Defended Saudi Terrorist
»Radical Islamist Group is Returning to Chicago for Major Recruitment Drive
»Souter Happy to Shape Our Constitution
»The Alien in the White House
»US: Times Square Botched Bombing Suspect Charged
Europe and the EU
»Austria: New Catholic Priests Figures in Decline
»Austria Shamed by EU-Wide Pension Age List
»Italy: Rubbish Burning Spreads to Sicilian Coast
»Italy: Saramago: Goodbye to Portuguese Militant Nobel Prize Winner
»Less Turks Seek Asylum in Europe
»Netherlands:Conductor Banned From Wearing Crucifix Necklace
»UK: Communities Come Together to Promote Interfaith Understanding Through Education
»UK: Charles, Prince of Piffle
»UK: MCB Annual General Meeting to Elect New Leadership
»UK: MCB’s Book for Schools
»UK: MCB Congratulates British Muslims Named in Queen’s Honours List
»UK: May Bans Radical Preacher From Entering UK for Saying ‘Every Muslim Should be a Terrorist’
»UK: The MCB’s Wonderland Election
»Vatican: Church ‘Exorcist’ Urges Action to Fight Devil
»Kosovo: Ethnic Albanian Arrested on Terror Charges
»Serbia: Golden Lady to Open Third Production Facility
North Africa
»Morocco: Over 170,000 Children Work, Law Examined
Israel and the Palestinians
»Caroline Glick: Weathering the Approaching Storm
»What Will the Western Strategy Toward Gaza Produce? A “Normal” Revolutionary, Terrorist, Genocidal Regime There
Middle East
»Lebanon: Patriarch Sfeir Tells Sarkozy, Christian Emigration From the Middle East Should be Stopped
»Netherlands Sells Army Vehicles to Jordan
»Turkey to Urgently Buy Nine Extra Attack Helicopters
»Turkey and Syria Agree to Build a New Border Crossing
»Turkey: Sultan Abdulhamid’s Heirs Demand Seized Property
»Moscow Prepares Controversial Integration Handbook
South Asia
»Afghanistan: Roadside Bomb Targets Italian Soliders in West
»Red Cross: Kyrgyzstan, Scene of an “Immense Crisis”

Financial Crisis

ADB: Morocco Standing Up to International Shock

(ANSAmed) — RABAT, JUNE 15 — The fundamental values of Morocco’s economy remained steady despite a problematic international context and proved themselves resistant to external shocks, according to an assessment made by the African Development Bank (ADB) in its outlook report on the economies of the continent. The ADB report disseminated today in Rabat states that “Despite the economic crisis in 2009, thre results of Morocco’s economy remained positive with a 5% growth rate; the instability of financial markets, growing oil prices, and Morocco’s struggling major trade partners made us fear the worst. Nonetheless the fundamental values of Morocco’s economy remained steady, also because of the use of public resources and development assistance”. The AND report believes that a key element was the government’s decision to tackle the crisis by doubling efforts “to modernise the public sector, raise major infrastructures, promote the public sector and protect the environment”. However the ADB also emphasised a few weaknesses of the national economy given by lower revenues from tourism and lower remittances from emigrants, deeming that growth will slump in 2010, staying below 4.3% according to the estimates made by the ADB in cooperation with the OECD and The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Believing World War III is Only Four Years Away, Ultra-Rich Europeans Are Investing in Oil and Gold

The evidence is anecdotal but compelling.

Incredibly rich European investors—individuals with institutional resources—are increasingly betting on oil and gold.

They are driven by fear—of a third world war—which many mega-rich see as a certainty and most likely to begin in the Middle East within a few years as Iran acquires atomic arms. 2014 is especially feared in this context because it is the year that will mark the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, which ravaged and reshaped Europe and set the stage for World War II.

Expecting the price of oil to rise to well over $200 a barrel and the price of gold to soar above $5,000 an ounce, these European prophets of doom are investing in both commodities and equities, including crude oil futures and physical oil—they can afford the storage—gold bullion and shares in listed, gold producing companies, and, even, in some cases, actual gold mines. At least one investor group is known to be actively pursuing privately held gold mines in Peru, for example.

The forecasts are frightening but not surprising, given the times in which we live. That said, the fact that many sophisticated people with so much money—and access to the best advice that money can buy—are apparently acting on the expectations is both telling and terrifying.

           — Hat tip: Lurker from Tulsa[Return to headlines]

Bishop Palermo: Strong Movements From South

(ANSAmed) — VALDERICE (TRAPANI), JUNE 17 — “Emigration (from the south) to the north of the country has massively taken off again. In Sicily alone, 60,000 people are said to have left for other cities in search of work. They are mostly young temporary employees”. These are the comments of Monsignor Paolo Romeo, archbishop of Palermo, who was speaking at a meeting organised by the Italian Caritas on immigration in the Mediterranean. The bishop said that the situation in southern regions was very serious, adding that “there is a gap that is difficult to bridge, and our politicians are not up to the task, partly as a result of past events”. According to Monsignor Romeo, nurses, doctors and metal workers are among the new migrants heading north because they are unable to find work and have been in temporary employment for years. “We see them every day,” he said, “parents come and say that their children are leaving. There is no future in our area. Just around Palermo, for example, Fiat and Italtel have closed, and it is obvious that those specialised in metal works will struggle to find alternatives. Fiat has given in not because production is expensive but because the infrastructure is not in place, and this has been the case for twenty years”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: Unions Protesting Against Pension Reform

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS — Greeks are once more protesting in the streets today in demonstrations called by all the unions against the pension reform that the government is negotiating with the EU-IMF mission before presenting it in Parliament. The Athens underground will also be closed today for 24 hours, while tomorrow all urban transport will stop for 5 hours. Lawyers are also protesting, after yesterday evening’s demonstration by doctors against the stop to supplies heading for public hospitals by industry due to large-scale back debt. The government has announced new proposals to resolve the crisis. A demonstration has been called for this evening by the two main union federations, the private sector Gsee and the public sector Adedy, alongside the protests called by the Communist union Pame and organisations with links to the radical left. Workers representatives have denounced the “barbaric anti-worker measures” which weigh most heavily on those with the least money. The demonstration coincides with the presence in Athens of a new EU and IMF mission to take stock of the implementation of the austerity plan and agree on the pension reform calling for freezes and reductions as well as a rise in retirement age. Unions are preparing another general strike, the fifth against the austerity plan, during the presentation in Parliament of the draft law on pensions, expected by the end of the month. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: Left Urges ‘War’ On Austerity

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JUNE 18 — The Greek left, led by the communists, has urged citizens “not to recognise the debts” incurred by the country and to “proclaim war” on the “savage classist attack” by George Papandreou’s government with the EU and IMF. Whilst protests continue, with the underground system of Athens today paralysed for a third consecutive day, and the announcement of another general strike against the pension reform which is about to arrive in Parliament, the leader of the Communist Party (KKE), Aleka Papariga, and the leader of the radical left, Alexis Tsipra, have asked the President, Karolos Papoulias, to intervene. Papariga urged Premier George Papandreou to “explain to the hundreds of thousands of working-class families what they should do when they will soon be unable to pay their electricity and phone bills and their taxes, and will not even be able to buy basic foodstuffs.” Papariga urged all workers to form “a united front” and to “declare war on the war that the socialist government, the plutocrats and the EU-IMF continue to wage and escalate” against Greek society. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Guess Who Holds Patent for Carbon Trading Plan

Disgraced Fannie Mae CEO set to cash in for millions

Former Clinton and Obama budget adviser Franklin Raines owns a key carbon-emissions patent he developed as CEO of the government-sponsored mortgage giant Fannie Mae, positioning him and his partners to make millions of dollars if it is used in any carbon-capping scheme implemented by the Obama administration.

Raines and his associates led Fannie Mae and Congress to believe Fannie Mae owned the patent, despite public records to the contrary.

Raines and his partners carried out their plan by quietly filing for and receiving a second nearly identical carbon-emissions patent that superseded the first patent, according to government records. The second patent was never assigned to Fannie Mae or any other party.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Italy: Property Slump Affects $2.6 Bln Milan Project

Milan, 17 June (AKI/Bloomberg) — A 2.6 billion dollar real estate project that includes the tallest building in Italy is struggling to attract buyers for luxury apartments amid a slump in the country’s property market. CityLife, billed as the biggest urban development in Milan, has sold 90 of an initial 390 upscale apartments and penthouses in the 431,000 square-metre site at the city’s former fairgrounds.

The plan’s biggest investors are insurers Allianz SE of Germany and Assicurazioni Generali in Italy.

“They’re flooding the market with such a large number of high-range properties that it can’t possibly absorb, especially in a period of economic slowdown,” said Rolando Mastrodonato, who leads a residents’ group which opposes the project.

The worst financial crisis in six decades caused Italy’s residential and commercial property market to stagnate during 2008 and 2009.

Real estate prices are expected to fall this year.

CityLife asked Milan’s building regulators last month for permission to scale back the office and retail space for as much as 30 percent of the total because of the bearish outlook for the office market.

According to the initial plan, as much as 45 percent of the area had been set aside for commercial buildings.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Pensions: Paris Towards Increase in Civil Servants’ Taxes

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, JUNE 8 — The French government is preparing to raise taxes to be paid on civil servants as part of pension reforms, so said government sources. The raising of income tax — which is currently at 7.85% against 10.55% in the private sector — should bring the state coffers to 3 billion euros. Amongst other preventive measures, there is also a special and temporary tax for the higher income brackets. Paris also forecasts an establishing on a yearly basis on 12 months, instead of on the current 13, of company taxes, a measure which could bring the state some 2 billion euros. COR, the French government pension advisor, which brings together unions, businesspeople and experts, but also MPs and representatives of the state, believes that the raising of taxes by one point for the pension of civil servants will result in 720 million euros. According to the latest official figures, which relate to 2008, the French civil service, which employs 5.2 million people, has 3.173 million pensioners. Nicolas Sarkozy’s government will announce the pension reform between June 15 and 20. The reform are set to respond to the needs to refinance the system, expected this year to be 30 billion euros. (ANSAmed).

2010-06-08 16:16

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


2-Inch-Tall Army Soldiers Gets School Kid Reprimanded

A policy of no tolerance for weapons got an 8-year-old boy in trouble at his Rhode Island grade school this week. The boy brought in nearly a dozen M-14 Army rifles to his Tiogue School in Coventry, R.I. grade school and was chastised by the principal for the outrage.

How did he get all those assault rifles into the school you might ask? Why he did it by gluing seven or so of his 2-inch-tall green army soldier toys to his camo colored ball cap for “make a crazy hat” day at school. That’s right, a few green army man toys were enough to trip the poor child up in this foolish school’s “no weapons” policy. (Photo credit,

Seriously. No weapons includes 2-inch-tall army soldier toys holding teeny, tiny representations of army rifles. 2-inch-tall army soldier toys are enough to get a kid sent in shame to the principal’s office and threatened with sterner action.

This is the sort of stupidity that makes adults look like utter morons and Kenneth DiPietro, superintendent of Coventry Public Schools, made himself look like a prime time ##### by attacking this kid over a school project to “make a crazy hat.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

BP Oil Spill: Against Gov. Jindal’s Wishes, Crude-Sucking Barges Stopped by Coast Guard

Eight days ago, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal ordered barges to begin vacuuming crude oil out of his state’s oil-soaked waters. Today, against the governor’s wishes, those barges sat idle, even as more oil flowed toward the Louisiana shore.

“It’s the most frustrating thing,” the Republican governor said today in Buras, La. “Literally, yesterday morning we found out that they were halting all of these barges.”

Sixteen barges sat stationary today, although they were sucking up thousands of gallons of BP’s oil as recently as Tuesday. Workers in hazmat suits and gas masks pumped the oil out of the Louisiana waters and into steel tanks. It was a homegrown idea that seemed to be effective at collecting the thick gunk.

“These barges work. You’ve seen them work. You’ve seen them suck oil out of the water,” said Jindal.


But the Coast Guard ordered the stoppage because of reasons that Jindal found frustrating. The Coast Guard needed to confirm that there were fire extinguishers and life vests on board, and then it had trouble contacting the people who built the barges.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Court: Christian Tracts Allowed at Arab-Fest

City police had threatened arrest for handing out information

An emergency motion has been granted by a federal appeals court in order for a Christian to hand out information about his faith at the annual Arab Festival in Dearborn, Mich., this weekend without being arrested.

A three-judge panel from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals today granted the motion requested by the Thomas More Law Center on behalf of Pastor George Saieg, a Sudanese Christian who has been trying to get permission to distribute literature and talk about his Christianity to Muslims at the festival.

The event is Friday through Sunday in Dearborn, where an estimated 30,000 of the city’s 98,000 residents are Muslim.

According to the law center, Judge Paul Borman just a week ago had affirmed the city’s ban on handing out Christian material near the festival. It was last year when Dearborn police threatened Saieg with arrest if he handed out information on Christianity near the festival.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Disclose Act — We Must Defeat This Bill!

On April 29, 2010, Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced H.R. 5175, the Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) Act. The bill is a direct response to Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (McCain- Feingold) — a First Amendment victory in which the Supreme Court overturned the prohibition on corporations and unions using treasury funds for independent expenditures supporting or opposing political candidates at any time of the year. Simply put, the DISCLOSE Act will limit the political speech that was protected and encouraged by Citizens United.

Speaker Pelosi and the House Majority Leadership are making it a priority to pass this bill. This bill is designed to take away the influence of Tea Party and other conservative groups in the upcoming November election. We feel like this bill will be successfully challenged in the courts, but the ruling will not come before the November election.

An exemption has been carved out for the Labor Unions and other leftist advocacy groups. The NRA was also exempted so they would not oppose it.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Exclusive: Alert Issued for 17 Afghan Military Members AWOL From U.S. Air Force Base

A nationwide alert has been issued for 17 members of the Afghan military who have gone AWOL from a Texas Air Force base where foreign military officers who are training to become pilots are taught English, has learned.

The Afghan officers and enlisted men have security badges that give them access to secure U.S. defense installations, according to the lookout bulletin, “Afghan Military Deserters in CONUS [Continental U.S.],” issued by Naval Criminal Investigative Service in Dallas, and obtained by

The Afghans were attending the Defense Language Institute at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. The DLI program teaches English to military pilot candidates and other air force prospects from foreign countries allied with the U.S.

“I can confirm that 17 have gone missing from the Defense Language Institute,” said Gary Emery, Chief of Public Affairs, 37th Training Wing, at Lackland AFB. “They disappeared over the course of the last two years, and none in the last three months.”

Each Afghan was issued a Department of Defense Common Access Card, an identification card used to gain access to secure military installations, with which they “could attempt to enter DOD installations,” according to the bulletin. Base security officers were encouraged to disseminate the bulletin to their personnel.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

FCC Seeks More Internet Regulation

The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday began a push for greater regulation of the Internet.

The agency’s commissioners voted 3-2 to open for public comment three proposals for how to regulate broadband transmissions and connections. It’s the first step in a process that could result in new rules by fall.

FCC chairman Julius Genachowski favors an option that would allow for more regulation in some areas but not others.

It’s a change that broadband service providers such as Dallas-based AT&T Inc. oppose and say could slow the pace of their investments in new technologies.

But software and Internet companies such as Google Inc. favor the changes, saying the regulations will prevent providers from limiting access to online services they don’t like.

The debate stems from a 2007 attempt by Comcast Corp. to slow the Internet connection speeds of its customers who were using a file-sharing technology called Bit Torrent, which is often used to swap pirated movies and music.

In 2008, the FCC ruled that Comcast violated federal policy, and the dispute between the FCC and Comcast went to court. But a federal appeals court ruled this year that broadband providers could not be censured by the FCC for activities such as throttling access speeds.

The FCC doesn’t have that authority because, in 2002, the FCC formally defined broadband as a Title I “information service” rather than a Title II “telecommunications service.” Classifying broadband as Title II would have put much greater regulatory duties on broadband providers.

One of the three proposals being weighed by the agency is to enforce the Title II FCC regulation. A second option is to maintain the current framework.

Genachowski has acknowledged that bringing the full weight of Title II duties to bear would hamper innovation. So he has proposed his “third way” plan, which essentially combines Title I and Title II into a third classification for broadband.

But that approach hasn’t been tried, and there is no explicit authority for the FCC to implement it.

Nor are there established limits for the regulatory duties of broadband providers under a “third way” approach, which would require providers to not interfere with how customers access the Internet.

So AT&T, Verizon and other providers are concerned that, even if the intent is not to heavily regulate now, future commissioners could rewrite the regulatory requirements any way they wish.

“A better and more proper approach is for the FCC to defer the question of its legal authority to the U.S. Congress,” Jim Cicconi, AT&T’s senior executive vice president of legislative affairs, said in a prepared statement Thursday. “AT&T continues to feel congressional action is far preferable, and far less risky to jobs and investment, than the FCC’s current path.”

Verizon Communications Inc. and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association also want Congress to specify exactly what the FCC is allowed to regulate.

But the FCC says it can’t wait for Congress to act.

“The FCC has an obligation to move forward with an open, constructive public-comment process to ask hard questions, to find a solution and resolve the uncertainty that has been created,” Genachowski said in his statement after Thursday’s vote. “The congressional and FCC processes are complementary.”

AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson has said heavier regulation could cause his company to stop building its U-verse broadband and TV service.

“If this Title 2 regulation looks imminent, we have to re-evaluate whether we put shovels in the ground,” Stephenson told The Wall Street Journal this week.

U-verse is available to 24 million homes, and AT&T plans to push that number to 30 million by the end of 2011.

           — Hat tip: Lurker from Tulsa[Return to headlines]

Hatch Introduces Legislation Repealing Portions of [Obamacare]

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced two pieces of legislation today striking at the heart of the $2.5 trillion health care law. The first, the American Liberty Restoration Act (S. 3502), would repeal the individual mandate that Hatch has repeatedly called unconstitutional and has prompted lawsuits by over 20 states. The second, the American Job Protection Act (S.3501), would repeal the job-killing employer mandate that Hatch says would force more layoffs and increase taxes on businesses at a time of near 10 percent unemployment.

“It’s an indisputable fact that this $2.5 trillion health care law is bad for our nation. Its central tenets threaten our basic liberty and our ability to recover from this severe economic downturn. By repealing both the unconstitutional individual mandate and the job-killing employer mandate, the most egregious elements of this devastating health law will be eliminated. This would be a huge leap in the right direction for hard-working families and small businesses.”


The American Liberty Restoration Act would strike provisions in the health law requiring individuals to purchase health insurance. Never before has the federal government forced the American people to purchase something they may not want.

“Congress overstepped its authority by telling Americans that they have to buy health insurance or else,” Hatch said. “The Constitution empowers Congress to regulate interstate commerce, but does not tell Americans what they must buy. It’s time to repeal this unconstitutional Washington mandate that encroaches on the principle of federalism and Utahns’ personal liberty.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Kennedy Says Obama Did ‘Excellent Job’ Over Oil Spill

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. claimed Barack Obama has done an “excellent job” in reacting to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The environmental law expert said at a business event in Vienna last night (Weds): “I’m convinced Obama will succeed with his plans of stepping on new ground in energy and climate issues. He did an excellent job overall so far.”

Kennedy — son of assassinated Democratic Senator Robert F. Kennedy — also accused “some American media” of unfairly treating the US president over his decision-making.

“Obama is trying to free America from the chains of depending on oil,” Kennedy said, adding that his predecessor George W. Bush was to blame for the current drama.

He claimed: “(George W.) Bush’s administration was the worst in the history of the United States.”

Kennedy’s accusations come days after former head of the US Democratic Party Howard Dean told Austrian magazine profil: “The truth is that the president (Obama) can’t do much about it (the oil spill). George W. Bush’s people allowed this drilling platform to be built. If Obama made a mistake then it was his failure to fire these people sooner. But you are being made responsible of all kinds of issues when you’re in office.”

Kennedy further explained China realised those investing in renewable energy today will massively benefit from such efforts in the future.

The book author said China — regarded as having all chances to become the most powerful economic force in the world in the near future — has started to focus on setting up solar and wind energy plants to reduce its carbon emission index.

Kennedy said the USA were “not ready yet” for such a change in environmental policies. “All Republicans and many Democrats in states with a strong coal and oil industry are in the clutches of these firms,” he claimed.

He criticised many people would regard a withdrawal from fossil energy trade as a “job killer” instead of stressing such a move’s chances.

Austrian Greens boss Eva Glawischnig meanwhile appealed on the government coalition of Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the People’s Party (ÖVP) to stop all business-making with the oil industry as a consequence of the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Frank Stronach, founder of Canadian-Austrian car parts maker Magna, hit the headlines recently by announcing he was ready to invest around 65 million Euros (78 million US dollars) into the development of an own E-Car model.

Dean claimed the Austrian province of Styria had chances to become the “electric cars capital in the world”.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Mohegan Sun Casino Owners Received $54 Million in Stimulus Money

Indian Tribe That Runs Connecticut Casino Earning $1 Billion-Plus Per Year Got Government Check

With the support of Sen. Chris Dodd, D.-Conn., the federal government has awarded $54 million to Connecticut’s politically well-connected Mohegan Indian tribe, which operates one of the highest grossing casinos in the U.S.

The tribe runs the sprawling Mohegan Sun casino, halfway between New York City and Boston, which earned more than $1.3 billion in gross revenues in 2009. Each tribe member receives a cut of the profits, a number a tribal official said was “less than $30,000” per capita per year. The stimulus money is a loan from a U.S. Department of Agriculture rural development program that is meant to help communities of less than 20,000 people that have been “unable to obtain other credit at reasonable rates and terms and are unable to finance the proposed project from their own resources.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Obama Nominee Defended Saudi Terrorist

President Barack Obama’s nominee for the number two spot at the U.S. Justice Department served as a lawyer for the Saudi royals who helped finance the 9-11 terrorist attacks and raked in millions of dollars to “monitor” a collapsed insurance company that got a massive government bailout, according to a Washington, DC watchdog group.

According to public-interest group Judicial Watch, the president’s choice— James Cole—to be Deputy Attorney General believes that the Middle Eastern terrorists, who attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, are simply domestic criminals who commit crimes such as rape and murder.

This should concern Americans since, as a ranking official at the Justice Department, Cole would play a lead role in decision-making involving terrorism arrests and prosecutions.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Radical Islamist Group is Returning to Chicago for Major Recruitment Drive

They’re back. A radical Islamist group critics say has links to Al Qaeda is gearing up to host its second annual U.S. recruiting event.

The group, Hizb ut-Tahrir America, which is committed to establishing a caliphate, or international Islamic empire, kicked up controversy in Chicago last year with its first U.S. conference, “Fall of Capitalism & Rise of Islam.”

Speakers at the conference blamed capitalism for everything from two World Wars to Michael Jackson’s decision “to shed his black skin.” It drew more than 500 attendees, dozens of protesters and a heavy police presence.

Now the group is coming back to the Windy City with its second conference, “Emerging World Order: How the Khilafah Will Shape the World,” scheduled to begin July 11 at the Chicago Marriott Oak Brook. According to a video promoting the event, the goal is to persuade attendees to “answer the call” to “join the campaign” for a Khilafah, or global Islamic empire.

Despite the charged message, the group insists that it advocates change only through nonviolent means.

Terrorism “is not in our dictionary,” spokesman Mohammad Malkawi told reporters last year. “We condemn it by all means … From our perspective, our records are clean on this issue.”

But some experts say the group’s rhetoric masks its true role: preparing the infantry for groups like Al Qaeda by indoctrinating young jihadists.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Souter Happy to Shape Our Constitution

Our perennial national debate over how to interpret the Constitution will soon be renewed, as the Senate considers the Supreme Court nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan.

In fact, former Justice David Souter set the discussion in motion last month in a Harvard commencement address— arguing that seeking to resolve difficult constitutional questions based on an honest effort to construe that document’s words (whether broadly or narrowly) “has only a tenuous connection to reality” and leads to bad decisions.

Souter’s candor is commendable but also genuinely troubling — the practical equivalent of a retired cardinal announcing that religion is an opiate for the masses. Even judges who quietly believe that the Constitution is an irredeemably reactionary document, which they must pull and push into the 21st century, are not generally so bold, preferring instead to cloak their innovations with references to the Constitution’s text.

Souter, however, argues that the Constitution is too full of ambiguous language and competing imperatives to sustain a textual approach to its interpretation. Like the people it serves — who throughout their history have demanded security and liberty, liberty and equality — the Constitution tries to have it both ways and is too often irreconcilable.

It is, therefore, the courts (and the Supreme Court especially), that Souter believes must “decide which of our approved desires has the better claim,” and this cannot be done simply by reading the Constitution’s words. Put differently, we all must trust in the judges to find our way through the morass, to make the right choices between competing constitutional imperatives, and we cannot accuse them of making up the law when they make choices we do not like. It is their job, not ours.

It would be difficult to articulate a decision-making model more antithetical to American democracy and the Constitution’s own design. It is often said — by the Supreme Court among others — that we have a “government of laws and not of men.” Judges are people, not the living embodiment of the law. When a judge makes the choices Souter suggests, without regard to the Constitution’s words and their original meaning, it is the judges who rule and not the law.

The Constitution’s drafters understood this very well and, whatever mistakes they made along the way, they manifestly did not empower the courts to choose freestyle among constitutional values. Their judiciary was to be, as Alexander Hamilton explained at the time, the “weakest” branch of government that could exercise only “judgment,” not the awesome congressional power of the purse or the president’s control over the military.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Alien in the White House

The distance between the president and the people is beginning to be revealed.

By Dorothy Rabinowitz

The deepening notes of disenchantment with Barack Obama now issuing from commentators across the political spectrum were predictable. So, too, were the charges from some of the president’s earliest enthusiasts about his failure to reflect a powerful sense of urgency about the oil spill.

There should have been nothing puzzling about his response to anyone who has paid even modest critical attention to Mr. Obama’s pronouncements. For it was clear from the first that this president—single-minded, ever-visible, confident in his program for a reformed America saved from darkness by his arrival—was wanting in certain qualities citizens have until now taken for granted in their presidents. Namely, a tone and presence that said: This is the Americans’ leader, a man of them, for them, the nation’s voice and champion. Mr. Obama wasn’t lacking in concern about the oil spill. What he lacked was that voice—and for good reason.

Those qualities to be expected in a president were never about rhetoric; Mr. Obama had proved himself a dab hand at that on the campaign trail. They were a matter of identification with the nation and to all that binds its people together in pride and allegiance. These are feelings held deep in American hearts, unvoiced mostly, but unmistakably there and not only on the Fourth of July.

A great part of America now understands that this president’s sense of identification lies elsewhere, and is in profound ways unlike theirs. He is hard put to sound convincingly like the leader of the nation, because he is, at heart and by instinct, the voice mainly of his ideological class. He is the alien in the White House, a matter having nothing to do with delusions about his birthplace cherished by the demented fringe.

One of his first reforms was to rid the White House of the bust of Winston Churchill—a gift from Tony Blair—by packing it back off to 10 Downing Street. A cloudlet of mystery has surrounded the subject ever since, but the central fact stands clear. The new administration had apparently found no place in our national house of many rooms for the British leader who lives on so vividly in the American mind. Churchill, face of our shared wartime struggle, dauntless rallier of his nation who continues, so remarkably, to speak to ours. For a president to whom such associations are alien, ridding the White House of Churchill would, of course, have raised no second thoughts.

Far greater strangeness has since flowed steadily from Washington. The president’s appointees, transmitters of policy, go forth with singular passion week after week, delivering the latest inversion of reality. Their work is not easy, focused as it is on a current prime preoccupation of this White House—that is, finding ways to avoid any public mention of the indisputable Islamist identity of the enemy at war with us. No small trick that, but their efforts go forward in public spectacles matchless in their absurdity—unnerving in what they confirm about our current guardians of law and national security…

           — Hat tip: Lurker from Tulsa[Return to headlines]

US: Times Square Botched Bombing Suspect Charged

New York, 18 June (AKI) — A US federal grand jury late on Thursday indicted a Pakistani-American suspected of trying to detonate a car bomb last month in New York’s central Times Square with multiple terrorism-related offences.

The grand jury in New York indicted Faisal Shahzad, who became a US citizen last year with 10 charges over the botched bombing (photo) of the city’s bustling Times Square theatre district on 1 May.

Pakistani-born Shahzad faces life in prison if convicted and has been cooperating with authorities since he was arrested, officials said.

The charges included attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted terrorism across national borders.

“(The) 10-count indictment returned in the Southern District of New York charges Faisal Shahzad with conspiring with the Pakistani Taliban to wreak death and destruction in Times Square,” US Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.

Among the new details in the indictment is a charge that in December 2009, Shahzad received explosives training in Pakistan’s northwest tribal area of Waziristan, from handlers affiliated to the Pakistani Taliban.

Shahzad’s lawyer, Philip Weinstein, declined to comment on the indictment.

Shahzad, 30, is accused of parking a vehicle containing a crude car bomb in Times Square in Midtown Manhattan. He was arrested aboard a Dubai-bound flight two days later minutes before it was due to take off from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

The indictment detailed how in February-March this year, Shahzad received 7,500 dollars from a co-conspirator in Pakistan whom Shahzad understood worked for the Pakistani Taliban.

Shahzad, who was unemployed at the time, then purchased a weapon, material to make the car bomb and a used Nissan Pathfinder vehicle to plant it in, according to the indictment.

The Pakistani Taliban, called Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, has claimed responsibility for the attempted bombing.

Several people have been arrested in Pakistan in the case and US authorities carried out raids in New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Maine, detaining several people on immigration charges.

Shahzad, who remains in custody, is expected to be arraigned on the new charges on Monday before Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum of Federal District Court in Manhattan.

Shahzad did not enter a plea during his first court appearance on 18 May.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Austria: New Catholic Priests Figures in Decline

Fewer Austrians decided to become Catholic priests in the first half of this year than in 2009 as the church’s crisis continues.

Church officials said today (Thurs) 24 men will be consecrated priests in 2010 by the end of this month. They said 33 consecrations took place in the first six months of last year.

The Austrian Roman Catholic Church’s reputation suffered dramatically over the past few months as around 700 people came forward to report violent and sexual abuse at its institutions.

The Church reacted by setting up a special commission to deal with the cases and provide victims with financial compensation and therapy.

Critics however appealed to people to consult independent help lines as they accused former Styrian People’s Party (ÖVP) Governor Waltraud Klasnic who is heading the commission of having too close ties to the church.

Researchers from Kepler University in Linz rocked Church leaders by revealing that 59 per cent of Catholic priests they interviewed wanted mandatory celibacy to be abolished.

More than 30,000 Austrians left the Church in the first three months of this year, up by 42 per cent compared to the same time span of 2009 when more people than ever cancelled their membership. Fears are increasing that up to 80,000 Austrians will leave the Church throughout this year.

Last year’s 53,216 people quitting their membership meant an all-time record high.

Austrian Times

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Austria Shamed by EU-Wide Pension Age List

Austria has made the top three in a humiliating European Union (EU) retirement age ranking.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) figures presented today (Weds) reveal that Belgium and France were the only other EU member states with a comparably low average pensioning age as Austria where men retire on average at 59 and women at 58.

The EU average is two years higher for each, the OECD said. International comparisons meanwhile exposed in the US that Americans work five years longer than Austrians, while Japanese workers and employees beat Austria by a stunning ten years.

These figures are expected to put pressure on the government and its plans to react to the soaring costs in healthcare and the social system also caused by a steady ageing of the society.

Researchers have appealed to political leaders to consider their concepts to stop the cycle of rising expenses due to the increasing life expectancy with a comparably low age of retirement.

The Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) have been pointed out as a haven of privileges for staff as statistics reveal that ÖBB workers retired at an average age of 52.

Christian Kern remained tight-lipped over how he planned to tackle the problem since he took over as new boss of the firm earlier this month.

Social Democratic (SPÖ) Traffic Minister meanwhile Doris Bures said she wanted to increase the age of retirement by at least one year annually from 2011.

Reinhold Lopatka, financial affairs state secretary of the SPÖ’s coalition partner the People’s Party’s (ÖVP), however claimed such a move would not be courageous enough to get the indebted company — which is close to the state — back on track.

Austrian Times

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Italy: Rubbish Burning Spreads to Sicilian Coast

Palermo, 17 June (AKI) — Furious residents in Italy’s southern Sicily region overnight set piles of garbage alight in Palermo and locations along the coast as the worsening rubbish crisis in the province of Palermo continued.

Firemen were called to put out blazes in 10 locations in Palermo and the surrounding province, especially around the coastal towns of Carini and Cinisi.

Residents say rotting rubbish is not being collected or is being collected too slowly, creating an unbearable stench as well as a health hazard.

The province of Palermo has for months been been in the grip of the refuse emergency and the situation has been exacerbated by recent hot summer weather.

As recently as Tuesday, Italian firefighters were called to extinguish burning piles of garbage in Palermo.

Desperate locals regularly burn bins and improvised dumps full of uncollected rubbish, further increasing the health risks posed by the chronic mismanagement of waste disposal in the region.

One metric tonne of waste burned by local residents leaves up to 1,000 microgrammes of cancer-inducing dioxins in the atmosphere, according to Italian opposition MP and environmental campaigner Ermete Realacci.

Realacci last month urged the central government to take rapid action to end the garbage crisis in the Palermo area.

According to Realacci, Sicily is bringing up the rear in waste disposal, recycling less than 7 percent of its garbage, far below the rates Italy’s regions are legally required to achieve.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Italy: Saramago: Goodbye to Portuguese Militant Nobel Prize Winner

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JUNE 18 — José Saramago has represented modern Portuguese literature which he, thanks to the Nobel Prize he received in 1998, made the focus of international attention, paving the way for other writers as well: from Lobo Antunes to Cardoso Pires. In Italy, Saramago has received two honorary degrees, in Rome and in Siena. His clashes with the Vatican have caused a great deal of comment. His works ‘Memorial’ and ‘The second life of Francesco d’Assisì (in which the saint continues to preach in a world in which nobody listens to him anymore) have given him the name of ‘die-hard communist’. “I have great respect for the faithful” he said, “but I have no respect at all for the Vatican, which is an administrator of faith”. This remark is in line with his idea that “intellectuals, the more they are in the limelight, the more they have the duty to protest against and denounce injustice”. A communist since an early age and opponent of Salazar, he abandoned his studies for financial reasons. He had various jobs before he became a journalist for the literary supplement of the ‘Diario de Lisboa’. After the Carnation Revolution in ‘74 and after becoming vice-editor of the ‘Diario de noticias’ in ‘75, he left the profession and became a full-time writer. He published poetry, a theatre play and reports on current events. In 1980 he published ‘Risen from the Ground’, a traditional rural saga in which real stories slowly emerge next to fiction. He was a supporter of Iberian Federalism, the movement for the unification of Spain and Portugal, to which he also dedicated his novel ‘The Stone Raft’. His ideas on the Middle East conflict have led to accusations of anti-Semitism. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Less Turks Seek Asylum in Europe

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JUNE 18 — Less Turkish citizens sought asylum in European Union member states last year when compared to 2008, Anatolia news agency reports quoting a Eurostat report published today. Turkey ranked 9th in asylum applications to EU countries in 2008, however, it went down to 12th place in 2009, according to Eurostat data. In 2008, 7,330 Turks applied for asylum in 27 EU countries. It dropped 5.5% after a year and stood at 6,930. Turkish people asked for protection mostly from France, Germany, Austria, Italy and Sweden. EU member states granted protection to 78,800 asylum seekers in 2009 compared with 75,100 in 2008. The largest groups of beneficiaries of protection status were citizens of Somalia (13,400), Iraq (13,100) and Afghanistan (7,100). (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Netherlands:Conductor Banned From Wearing Crucifix Necklace

An Amsterdam appeal court has ruled that the Amsterdam public transport service is within its rights to ban its conductors from visibly wearing a necklace bearing a crucifix.

The verdict backs an earlier ruling at the end of last year. Egyptian-born tram conductor Ezzaz Aziz appealed against the decision after the transport service suspended him for refusing to take off or conceal his necklace during working hours.

Mr Aziz objected to the fact that he was forbidden to wear his religious symbol, while Muslim women were allowed to wear headscarves. Mr Aziz claimed he was a victim of discrimination because headscarves are also an expression of religious belief.

“The judge didn’t consider the equal treatment of two religions within one company — only whether the company rules applied. But that wasn’t my intention. In the company we have two religions, and one religion is allowed to do what it likes and the other isn’t allowed to do anything. That’s why I appealed against the ruling.”

Dress code

The court ruled that the public transport service wasn’t guilty of discrimination because the rule wasn’t against wearing religious symbols, but simply against visibly wearing necklaces. For security reasons the service’s dress code bans employees from wearing any necklace outside the uniform.

The dress code allows the wearing of headscarves, as long as they bear the company logo. And the transport service points out that if Mr Aziz wants to express his religious belief, he’s welcome to wear a ring or an earring with a crucifix.

Nevertheless, Mr Aziz says he’s disappointed in Dutch justice. As a member of the Coptic Church, in Egypt he was barely able to express his religion. He expected things to be different in the Netherlands.

“The Netherlands is a democratic country. I think it’s nonsense that you can express one religion but not another. I feel a fire burning inside me because I don’t live in a democratic country, but in a third world country.”

Mr Aziz now plans to try and win support for his case in parliament. Meanwhile he’s opting to wear his crucifix under his sweater, because he doesn’t expect he would be able to find another job. “I’m an old man. I’m 57, I don’t know what else I could do.”

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

UK: Communities Come Together to Promote Interfaith Understanding Through Education

The Muslim Council of Britain’s “Books for Schools” project will be launched in Bristol at the Andalusia Academy, Old School Building, St. Matthias Park, St. Phillips, Bristol BS2 0BA at 4pm on Tuesday 8th June 2010. Following a national launch in 2004 and several other regional launches, this initiative aims to deliver Islamic resources to primary schools in Bristol, promoting a better understanding of Islam alongside other world religions.

Muslim Aid, one of the UK’s largest Muslim international relief and development charities, has sponsored 100 mini packs for primary schools in Bristol as part of its UK Development Programme.

Muslim Aid Chairman, Sir Iqbal Sacranie said “One of the key purposes of the National Framework for Religious Education is to increase public understanding and confidence in the way Religious Education is delivered in schools. This is a great opportunity for government and community bodies to join together to discuss how this can most effectively be implemented. Promoting understanding is essential in broadening our appreciation of different faiths.”

Ms Katy Staples, Schools Adviser, Diocese of Bristol said: “The importance of Religious Education being taught in schools is well recognised, being seen as a tool for developing appreciation & respect between different sections of our society. We are grateful that these new teaching resources will allow children to learn more about Islam, increasing their understanding in an ever changing world.”

Dr Ghassan Nounu of Bristol Islamic Schools Trust added: “I very much welcome this joint initiative in Bristol schools. There is a great deal of ignorance about major faiths, resulting in dangerous and destructive myths. The use of the new materials will help develop understanding and encourage community cohesion throughout Bristol.”

Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “We believe education is the key to creating a vibrant and considerate society. These resources, developed by our team of educationalists, aim to overcome the barriers to the teaching of Islam experienced by so many of our teachers, by making available creative, engaging and child-friendly resources on Islam and Muslims. We want to ensure that every school child has access to high quality Islamic resources through their schools.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Charles, Prince of Piffle

By Christopher Hitchens

This is what you get when you found a political system on the family values of Henry VIII. At a point in the not-too-remote future, the stout heart of Queen Elizabeth II will cease to beat. At that precise moment, her firstborn son will become head of state, head of the armed forces, and head of the Church of England. In strict constitutional terms, this ought not to matter much. The English monarchy, as has been said, reigns but does not rule. From the aesthetic point of view it will matter a bit, because the prospect of a morose bat-eared and chinless man, prematurely aged, and with the most abysmal taste in royal consorts, is a distinctly lowering one. And a king does have the ability to alter the atmosphere and to affect the ways in which important matters are discussed. (The queen herself proved that in subtle ways, by letting it be known that there were aspects of Margaret Thatcher’s foreign policy that she did not view with unmixed delight.)

So the speech made by Prince Charles at Oxford last week might bear a little scrutiny. Discussing one of his favorite topics, the “environment,” he announced that the main problem arose from a “deep, inner crisis of the soul” and that the “de-souling” of humanity probably went back as far as Galileo. In his view, materialism and consumerism represented an imbalance, “where mechanistic thinking is so predominant,” and which “goes back at least to Galileo’s assertion that there is nothing in nature but quantity and motion.” He described the scientific worldview as an affront to all the world’s “sacred traditions.” Then for the climax:

“As a result, Nature has been completely objectified—She has become an it—and we are persuaded to concentrate on the material aspect of reality that fits within Galileo’s scheme.”

We have known for a long time that Prince Charles’ empty sails are so rigged as to be swelled by any passing waft or breeze of crankiness and cant. He fell for the fake anthropologist Laurens van der Post. He was bowled over by the charms of homeopathic medicine. He has been believably reported as saying that plants do better if you talk to them in a soothing and encouraging way. But this latest departure promotes him from an advocate of harmless nonsense to positively sinister nonsense.

We owe a huge debt to Galileo for emancipating us all from the stupid belief in an Earth-centered or man-centered (let alone God-centered) system. He quite literally taught us our place and allowed us to go on to make extraordinary advances in knowledge. None of these liberating undertakings have required any sort of assumption about a soul. That belief is at best optional.. (Incidentally, nature is no more or less “objectified” whether we give it a gender name or a neuter one. Merely calling it Mummy will not, alas, alter this salient fact.)

In the controversy that followed the prince’s remarks, his most staunch defender was Professor John Taylor, a scholar whose work I had last noticed when he gave good reviews to the psychokinetic (or whatever) capacities of the Israeli conjuror and fraud Uri Geller. The heir to the throne seems to possess the ability to surround himself—perhaps by some mysterious ultramagnetic force?—with every moon-faced spoon-bender, shrub-flatterer, and water-diviner within range.

None of this might matter very much, until you notice the venue at which Charles delivered his farrago of nonsense. It was unleashed upon an audience at the Center for Islamic Studies at Oxford University, an institution of which he is the patron. Nor is this his only foray into Islamophilia. Together with the Saudi royal family, he supported the mosque in North London that acted as host and incubator to Richard “Shoe Bomber” Reid, the hook-handed Abu Hamza al-Masri, and several other unsavory customers. The prince’s official job description as king will be “defender of the faith,” which currently means the state-financed absurdity of the Anglican Church, but he has more than once said publicly that he wants to be anointed as defender of all faiths—another indication of the amazing conceit he has developed in six decades of performing the only job allowed him by the hereditary principle: that of waiting for his mother to expire.

A hereditary head of state, as Thomas Paine so crisply phrased it, is as absurd a proposition as a hereditary physician or a hereditary astronomer. To this innate absurdity, Prince Charles manages to bring fatuities that are entirely his own. And, as he paged his way through his dreary wad of babble, there must have been some wolfish smiles among his Muslim audience. I quote from a recent document published by the Islamic Forum of Europe, a group dedicated to the restoration of the Islamic Caliphate and the imposition of sharia, which has been very active in London mosques and in the infiltration of local political parties. “The primary work” in the establishment of a future Muslim empire, it announces, “is in Europe, because it is this continent, despite all the furore about its achievements, which has a moral and spiritual vacuum.”

So this is where all the vapid talk about the “soul” of the universe is actually headed. Once the hard-won principles of reason and science have been discredited, the world will not pass into the hands of credulous herbivores who keep crystals by their sides and swoon over the poems of Khalil Gibran. The “vacuum” will be invaded instead by determined fundamentalists of every stripe who already know the truth by means of revelation and who actually seek real and serious power in the here and now. One thinks of the painstaking, cloud-dispelling labor of British scientists from Isaac Newton to Joseph Priestley to Charles Darwin to Ernest Rutherford to Alan Turing and Francis Crick, much of it built upon the shoulders of Galileo and Copernicus, only to see it casually slandered by a moral and intellectual weakling from the usurping House of Hanover. An awful embarrassment awaits the British if they do not declare for a republic based on verifiable laws and principles, both political and scientific.

[JP note: Prince Charles — the UK’s most dangerous Islamophile]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: MCB Annual General Meeting to Elect New Leadership

The Muslim Council of Britain is to hold its 13th Annual General Meeting this Sunday 20 June 2010 at the London Muslim Centre, Whitechapel, London. Delegates representing the range of Muslim civil society — mosques, ulama bodies, and professional associations — are assembling from across Britain, including Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland to elect a new Central Working Committee, and also office-bearers for the 2010-2012 term.

The occasion will mark the conclusion of Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari’s tenure as Secretary General, having served the maximum of two terms permitted by the MCB’s Constitution. He has been an unassuming, dedicated and tireless worker for the interests of Muslims in Britain, and the MCB will continue to value his wise counsel.

The AGM will also include a panel discussion on ‘How Should Muslims Engage in the New Politics’ chaired by radio producer Hasan Patel and conclude with an evening reception attended by interfaith leaders, Muslim MPs and diplomats and other MCB well-wishers.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: MCB’s Book for Schools

The Books For Schools project aims to provide mainstream schools with high-quality Islamic resources (including books, custom made teacher notes, pupil activities, worksheets, CDs, DVDs, videos and accompanying teaching aids) in order to promote harmony and respect amongst Britain’s diverse communities. Our resources are designed to facilitate the teaching of Islam within the Schools Curriculum as outlined by QCA guidelines.

Here, you will find all the information you need to know about the project. A detailed list of resources that are available in the books packs as well as some more detailed information about the history of the project, the core team and why this initiative was sought.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the concept behind Books For Schools?

2. How can this resource facilitate the teaching of Islam in RE?

3. What does a resource pack contain?

4. For what age groups are the Books For Schools resources?

5. How much does a pack cost and from where can I order it?

1. What is the concept behind Books For Schools?

2. How can this resource facilitate the teaching of Islam in RE?

Our resource has been designed by educationalists and teachers with reference to the RE Non Statutory Framework (QCA). It covers both Key Stages 1 and 2 and aims to enhance children’s experience of diversity in all areas of the curriculum, including the hidden, through enjoyable, cross-curricular based work. This self-contained resource pack provides teachers with all the materials needed to teach about basic Muslim beliefs, pillars and practices through four original, engaging and interactive class/small group projects.

3. What does a resource pack contain?

A resource pack consists of:

  • Four user friendly, child orientated projects
  • Six objects/artefacts in common use by Muslim children in various parts of the world
  • Two audio visual items (CD and a Video)
  • Seventeen children’s books and booklets
  • Two card model kits
  • Four posters

The projects are:

  • Folder 1: Introducing the Qur’an
  • Folder 2: Id-ul-Adha and the Hajj
  • Folder 3: Prayer, Fasting and Id-ul-Fitr
  • Folder 4: Islam Through the Arts

The objects/artefacts are:

  • Compass (used to locate the direction of Makkah for Prayers)
  • Hijab (head scarf worn by girls and women)
  • Ihram (two pieces of white cloth worn by men during the Hajj pilgrimage)
  • Prayer cap (often worn by boys and men when offering Prayers)
  • Prayer mat (often used when offering daily prayers).
  • Rehal (wooden Qur’an stand)

The audio visual items are:

  • Expressions of Faith (CD)
  • Wafa’s Eid (DVD with accompanying booklet and poster)

The books and booklets are:

  • A Caring Neighbour
  • A Gift of Friendship
  • Colouring Book 2: The Arts of the Muslim World
  • Dawud Wharnsby Ali
  • Dear Diary
  • English Translation of Holy Quran
  • Islam: Beliefs and Teachings
  • Muslim Child
  • My Id-ul-Fitr
  • Ramadan
  • Seeing Things More Clearly
  • Stories from the Muslim World
  • Tell Me About Hajj
  • Tell Me About Muhammad
  • The Colour of Home
  • The Greatest Stories from the Quran

The posters are:

  • 5 Basic Duties of Islam
  • Sacred Places
  • Prophets of Allah
  • How to make Wudu and Salah

4. For what age groups are the Books For Schools resources?

These resource packs are designed for mainstream primary schools to facilitate RE teachers when teaching Islam.

5. How much does a pack cost and from where can I order it?

Materials have been designed to be reusable / photocopiable. We recommend one resource pack per primary school; these are priced at only £250/pack. Resource packs will be ready for distribution in January 2005 and can be ordered from MCBDirect, The Muslim Council of Britain,P O BOX 57330,LONDON E1 2WJ. To order a pack or for further details please email

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: MCB Congratulates British Muslims Named in Queen’s Honours List

Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, today congratulated those who were named in the Queen’s Birthday Honour’s List. He said: “These honours recognise those who have made valuable contributions to our country. I congratulate all those who have been named, including those British Muslims whose contribution to our country and to our community has been recognised by the Queen. They are role models for our community.”

Those honoured include Judge Khurshid Drabu, election commissioner and advisor to the Muslim Council of Britain. He was conferred a CBE. While Jehangir Malik, of MCB affiliate Islamic Relief, was honoured with an OBE.

Full list of British Muslims honoured:


Headteacher, Copthorne Primary School, Bradford. For services to local and national Education. (Bradford, West Yorkshire)

Judge Khurshid Drabu CBE

For services to Community Relations. (Winchester, Hampshire)


Chief Executive Officer, Faith Regeneration Foundation. For services to Disadvantaged People.


Lately Head of Police Equality and Diversity

Policy, Home Office.

Mockbul ALI OBE

Islamic Issues Adviser, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Dalwardin BABU OBE

Chief Superintendent, Metropolitan Police Service. For services to the Police. (London, N10)

Dr Maha Taysir BARAKAT

Co-Founder, Imperial College Diabetes Centre, Abu Dhabi. For services to medical research, training and public health in the United Arab Emirates


For services to Young People and to Community Relations in Burnley and Pendle, Lancashire.

(Nelson, Lancashire)

Taha Mohammad IDRIS OBE

Chief Executive, Swansea Bay Race Equality Council. For services to Community Relations.

Jehangir MALIK OBE

For services to Islamic Relief.

Mohammad NAZIR OBE

Chairman, West Midlands Ethnic Minority Business Forum. For services to Business.


For services to the Police and to Community Relations in Lancashire.


Constable, British Transport Police. For services to the Police. (London, E17)


Honorary Life Vice-President, Race Equality Council of Lincolnshire. For services to Community Relations. (Lincoln, Lincolnshire)


For services to the Asian community in the East End of London. (London, E1)


Founder and Chief Executive, Saaf International Ltd. For services to the Beauty Industry and to International Trade. (Leeds, West Yorkshire)

Bakhtiar Ahmad GILANI MBE

For services to the community in Greater Manchester. Greater Manchester)


Founder, Somali Family Support Group. For services to Black and Minority Ethnic People. (Middlesex)


For services to the community in London Borough of Redbridge. (Ilford, Essex)


Executive Officer, Jobcentre Plus, Department for Work and Pensions. (Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire)


Consultant Clinical Oncologist, South West Wales Cancer Centre, Swansea. For services to Medicine.(Swansea, West Glamorgan)


For services to the British Moroccan community in London. (Surrey)

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: May Bans Radical Preacher From Entering UK for Saying ‘Every Muslim Should be a Terrorist’

Home Secretary Theresa May said Zakir Naik would not be allowed to enter the country under laws that can exclude anyone who writes or publishes material that can ‘foment justify or glorify terrorist violence’.

Indian television preacher Dr Naik, 44, was due to give a series lectures at arenas in Wembley and Sheffield.

Mrs May said the doctor was being excluded because repeated comments attributed to him was evidence of his ‘unacceptable behaviour’.

She said: ‘Coming to the UK is a privilege not a right, and I am not willing to allow those who might not be conducive to the public good to enter the UK.’

Home Office sources told The Daily Telegraph that website footage had shown the preacher making the claim that every Muslim should embrace terrorism.

Website footage is considered published material.

Dr Naik said Muslims should beware of people saying Osama bin Laden was right or wrong, adding: ‘If you ask my view, if given the truth, if he is fighting the enmies of Islam, I am for him.

‘If he is terrorising the terrorists, if he is terrorising America the terrorist, the biggest terrorist, every Muslim should be a terrorist.’

He is also reported as saying that western women make themselves ‘ more susceptible to rape’ by wearing revealing clothing.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: The MCB’s Wonderland Election

The vote for a new leader of the Muslim Council of Britain points up worrying fissures

Imagine an election with only one declared candidate running … and he is not going to win. It may sound like a form of democracy better devised in Alice’s Wonderland, but unfortunately it’s home grown: this is how the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) is due to decide on its next leader this Sunday.

Over the past few years, the MCB has been repeatedly lambasted in the media; its sins range from tolerating hate preachers, officers who embroil the organisation in the complex politics of the Middle East, failing to educate its affiliate mosques in the rules of inter-faith relations and an intermittent refusal to attend Holocaust Memorial Day. Under this barrage, the MCB has been relegated to the sidelines of British public life. The Labour government, after initial enthusiastic patronage, pointedly turned its back and cut all links until it could get its house in order.

Meanwhile, the other side of the story are the deep divisions that exist within the MCB. The tiny team in the Tower Hamlets office walk a tightrope, placating their 500-odd membership who are as reluctant to pay their dues as they are demanding of the MCB to stem what they see as a rising tide of Islamophobia. The resulting combination of high expectations and precarious finances does much to explain the kind of caution and nervousness that seems to weigh down the MCB officials. They have that appearance of hunkering down, always fearful of the next storm that could shipwreck the whole outfit.

While some parts of the media seem to see the MCB as an Islamist front, part of a powerful network on the march for Europe-wide domination, the reality is rather more prosaic, struggling to pay for tea bags and the telephone bill, and in constant danger of disintegration.

And what this Wonderland election indicates is that none of this is going to change. Barring an extraordinary upset, Mohammed Amin, the only person who has offered himself for election, is not going to win. Most are predicting that at the central working committee of 70 members on Sunday, an informal alliance known as the Islamic Movement will nominate a candidate, Farooq Murad, on whom they agreed several months ago.

The choice between Amin and Murad could not be more stark and illustrates just how fractured — economically, ethnically as well as theologically — the Muslim community is. Amin is a success story of the British Muslim community; a former partner of PriceWaterhouseCoopers, he wants change and fast. For a start, he wanted an open election rather than the kind of secret deals on which the MCB is prone to operate. He’d like to see the MCB taking a robust stand on inflammatory rhetoric in mosques and tackle Islamophobia by promoting a positive image of the community.

These characteristics are precisely why he won’t win. He could upset too many fragile accommodations, and prompt an exodus in membership. The priority for the MCB in recent years has been to keep its membership on board — even if that means sacrificing access to government. Murad, the current treasurer, is a much liked, cautious character, and is clearly the status quo candidate.

Meanwhile, Amin’s likely failure prompts increasing anxiety in a generation who have worked for change within Muslim organisations.

Those now reaching middle age envisaged a very different future for the Muslim community — one of much greater self-confidence and participation in mainstream British life. But entrenched conservatism stubbornly persists in the local mosques and dominates the MCB membership, while a younger contingent continues to fall prey to radicalisation. One of the few issues which binds both those generations together is the rallying cry of Islamophobia — but it’s a preoccupation which digs the community even deeper into isolationism and suspicion.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Vatican: Church ‘Exorcist’ Urges Action to Fight Devil

Vatican City, 17 June (AKI) — The Catholic Church’s most famous exorcist says more should be done to fight the devil. Father Gabriele Amorth has conducted 70,000 exorcisms for the church during his lengthy career.

In an interview with Italian daily, Corriere Della Sera, the 85-year-old priest said it would be worth extending the practice of exorcism.

“It would not be a bad idea,” he told the daily. “In Italy moral decay is evident. Families are often breaking down.

“Do you know what I would do if I was the Pope for a moment?” he asked. “I would provide every opportunity for exorcisms. Like the Orthodox Church. There you do not need the permission of a bishop.”

Amorth recounted his battles against the devil in a dozen books, translated into 28 languages. The latest, Memories of an Exorcist, recounts his experiences with a number of victims with which he worked.

He said when people are possessed by the devil they often speak in incomprehensible languages as well as Greek, Latin and Aramaic.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]


Kosovo: Ethnic Albanian Arrested on Terror Charges

Pristina, 18 June (AKI) — Kosovo police have arrested an ethnic Albanian, Bajram Aslani, on charges of planning terrorist acts in Kosovo and abroad, local media reported on Friday. Aslani, 29, was arrested on Thursday in the northern city of Mitrovica, with the assistance of European Union police (EULEX) and agents from the FBI, the US investigation agency.

Aslani is alleged to have connections with an Islamist extremist group in North Carolina, headed by Daniel Patrick Boyd, an American who converted to Islam.

Boyd, his two sons and five others were arrested and charged with terrorism charges by a US court in July 2009.

They were charged with plotting to wage “violent jihad” outside the United States.

Boyd was accused of recruiting six men, including two of his sons, to take part in a conspiracy “to advance violent jihad, including supporting and participating in terrorist activities abroad and committing acts of murder, kidnapping or maiming persons abroad.”

Aslani, also known as Abu Hatab, was recruited to join the group by another ethnic Albanian, Hisen Serifi, when Serifi visited Pristina in 2008.

According to the US indictment, Aslani was planning to set up a base of militant jihad in Kosovo for recruiting men and to build an arms and ammunition depot.

Aslani was sentenced in absentia in 2009 by a Serbian court to eight years in jail for planning terrorist acts, but he was outside the jurisdiction of Serbian authorities.

Kosovo was placed under United Nations control in 1999 and declared independence two years ago.

The US has asked for Aslani’s extradition to stand trial in North Carolina. If convicted, he could face up to 40 years in jail.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Serbia: Golden Lady to Open Third Production Facility

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, JUNE 17 — The Serbian Vice Premier and Economy Minister, Mladjan Dinkic, the owner of clothing company Golden Lady, Nerino Grassi, and the mayor of Loznica, Vidoje Petrovic, have today signed an agreement for the construction in Loznica of another production facility, which will be the Italian company’s third. The Tanjug press agency reports that Minister Dinkic underlined how Golden Lady, together with Fiat, is one of the biggest investors in Serbia, having allocated 100 million euros to the two production facilities, in Valjevo and Loznica, providing a total of 2,000 jobs. Dinkic pointed out that five years ago Golden Lady was the first company to build a production facility in the industrial zone of Loznica, an example of how new jobs can be created by investing in production sectors in expansion. The Minister observed that Golden Lady holds 15% of the EU market and also exports to Russia.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Morocco: Over 170,000 Children Work, Law Examined

(ANSAmed) — RABAT, JUNE 14 — There are over 150,000 working children between the ages of 7 and 15 in Morocco. This is the estimate of the High Commission of Planning (HCP), which says that most of them, more than 150,000, work in the countryside. The research figures were published to coincide with the world day against working children, set up in 2002 by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). According to the HCP, the number of working children has decreased significantly since 1999 when the figure stood at 518,000, some 9.7% of children in the country. At the time, there were between 60,000 and 80,000 “little servants” working in Moroccan cities. To put an end to this situation, the Moroccan government is examining a law bill that would forbid children from working. According to the Minister for Families, Nouzha Skalli, those who employ children below the age of 15 will risk prison sentences and significant fines. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Caroline Glick: Weathering the Approaching Storm

Israel is endangered today as it has never been before. The Turkish-Hamas flotilla two weeks ago precipitated a number of dangerous developments. Rather than attend to all of them, Israel’s leadership is devoting itself almost exclusively to contending with the least dangerous among them while ignoring the emerging threats with the potential to lead us to great calamities.

Since the Navy’s lethal takeover of the Mavi Marmara, Israel has been stood before an international diplomatic firing squad led by the UN and Europe and supported by the Obama administration. Firmly backed by European and largely unopposed by Washington, the UN is moving swiftly towards setting up a new Goldstone-style anti-Israel kangaroo court. That canned tribunal will rule that Israel has no right to defend itself and attempt to force Israel to end its lawful naval blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza.

Fearing this outcome, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu bowed to US President Barack Obama’s demand that Israel set up an Israeli inquest of the Mavi Marmara takeover and permit foreigners to oversee its proceedings. Netanyahu also agreed to scale-back Israel’s blockade significantly, and allow international bodies to have a role in its far more lax enforcement. Netanyahu has made these concessions with the full knowledge that they will strengthen Hamas in the hopes that they would weaken the international onslaught against Israel…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

What Will the Western Strategy Toward Gaza Produce? A “Normal” Revolutionary, Terrorist, Genocidal Regime There

by Barry Rubin

A reader asks: What is the West’s strategy regarding the Gaza Strip. Good question.

The strategy is to relieve the alleged “humanitarian” issue as soon as possible and quiet everything down. Without thinking through the consequences, the idea is to return the Gaza Strip to as normal a situation as possible in economic and social terms. There is broad recognition of Israel’s right to keep out arms and military equipment but doubts about extending the sanctions much beyond that.

To put it bluntly, Western countries are not becoming consciously favorable toward Hamas. They will continue to isolate it politically and deny it arms. The problem is that they do not understand how their policy will: strengthen it, ensure decades of totalitarian rule for Gaza and suffering of the people there under a repressive dictatorship; make future wars unavoidable; make an Israel-Palestinian peace impossible; and subvert Egypt, too.

Essentially, this is not an issue about Israel but one about Hamas, the revolutionary Islamist movement, and the Iranian regime’s ambition to dominate the Middle East.

The arguments here are so obvious that the only way to prevent people understanding them is to keep them largely out of the mainstream media.

If you give money to Gaza, even to non-Hamas recipients, it will benefit the regime. If you let in non-weapons’ equipment in many categories, the regime will take a large portion. If you let in luxury goods, the regime will use it to buy support.

There is no strategic dimension in Western thinking, no sense of what the West wants to happen in the Gaza Strip. Does it want Hamas to survive? Does it understand the implications of that?

There is no recognition of the following points:…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Lebanon: Patriarch Sfeir Tells Sarkozy, Christian Emigration From the Middle East Should be Stopped

The cardinal is visiting France and meeting major government and political leaders. The issues discussed include Hizbollah’s weapons, which most Lebanese would like to see gone, and relations with Syria, which “have not always been the way they ought to be.”

Beirut (AsiaNews) — The number of Christians in Lebanon and the Middle East is declining rapidly because of conflict, regional tensions as well as a persistent economic crisis that drives many to seek the future elsewhere. The issue is one of great concern for the Catholic Church, as Benedict XVI has said on several occasions, the latest during his visit to Cyprus, and an issue that Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir raised during his meetings yesterday in France.

Cardinal Sfeir raised the matter during his meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who shares the view that the presence of Christians in the Middle East is a guarantee against intolerance.

“The emigration of young Lebanese must be stopped,” the patriarch said later during a press briefing with reporters. “They cannot be blamed for leaving in search of work. But whilst those who go to Arab countries can come back, it is harder for those who go to Australia or Canada.”

Lebanon’s domestic situation was another important topic Card Sfeir discussed during his Paris visit. He stressed the importance of security, this, a day before (i.e. today) a discussion on national defence is set to start in Beirut.

Indeed, Hizbollah is armed, and has “its own strategy and interests”. If the parties in the ruling coalition government (14 March movement) want to see only one armed force on Lebanon’s soil, Hizbollah claims that it needs its own weapons in case of potential Israeli attacks.

However, “Most Lebanese are not in favour of two armies within the same state,” the patriarch said.

Relations with Syria were the last major issue discussed. During a meeting with members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the French National Assembly, the cardinal said that Lebanon wants good relations with all its neighbours, especially its closest, Syria. “However, relations have not always been the way they ought to be.”

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Netherlands Sells Army Vehicles to Jordan

THE HAGUE, 18/06/10 — The Netherlands is selling 1,100 army vehicles to Jordan, including a large number of armoured vehicles and freight trucks. The equipment will be delivered to the country through to end-2013, Defence Minister Eimert van Middelkoop has announced in a letter to parliament.

The contract with Jordan was concluded in May. It includes the sale of 441 armoured caterpillar vehicles (YPR-765 and YPR-806), 69 armoured caterpillar commando vehicles (M-577), 467 of various types of trucks, 121 howitzers (M-109) and six loading and aiming systems for the howitzers plus ammunition. The minister has informed parliament in confidence of the selling price.

The House still has to give its approval for the deal. Before the contract was concluded, the foreign ministry had looked at it and ruled that it meets the criteria of EU weapons export policy, according to Van Middelkoop.

The minister explained that the supplying of the vehicles “will not disturb regional stability, because Jordan’s neighbouring countries have substantially more equipment available and no threat stems from the purchase of the equipment by Jordan.” The transfer of the equipment will also have no effect on the human rights situation in Jordan, according to the minister.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Turkey to Urgently Buy Nine Extra Attack Helicopters

Turkey urgently will launch talks to buy nine additional T129 attack helicopters being built by a group led by the Italian-British manufacturer AgustaWestland. The helicopters are expected to be used against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, operating in an area near the country’s borders with Iraq and Iran, a key official announced late Tuesday.

“In an effort to meet the urgent needs of the Turkish Land Forces Command and as part of the ongoing attack helicopter program, negotiations for the procurement of an additional nine attack helicopters will be launched with TUSAS,” National Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül told reporters after a meeting of the Defense Industry Executive Committee, Turkey’s highest decision-making body on procurement.

The PKK is considered as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union and the United States.

TUSAS is the Turkish name for the Turkish Aerospace Industries, the prime contractor in Ankara’s ongoing program to jointly manufacture 50 other attack helicopters with the Italian-led AgustaWestland.

The nine helicopters will come in addition to those 50 choppers. The additional nine gunships to be procured also will be the T129s, the planned Turkish version of the A129 Mangusta International. The additional contract is expected to be worth a few hundred million dollars.

The Defense Industry Executive Committee’s members include Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Gönül, Chief of General Staff Gen. Ilker Basbug and the head of Turkey’s procurement agency, Murad Bayar.

Faster production

TUSAS and AgustaWestland officials are expected to meet as early as next week to discuss the production timetable for the nine additional gunships urgently needed by the Army.

The planned target would be the delivery of the first of these nine gunships within two years, one industry source said.

Bayar’s office, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, and AgustaWestland signed a multibillion-dollar contract in 2008 for joint production of 50 T129s. The first of these helicopters are planned to be delivered in 2014.

The PKK has stepped up attacks on Turkish targets this spring.

The Turkish Army presently operates about six U.S.-made AH-1W Super Cobras and more than 20 earlier model Cobra helicopters, and military officials in recent years have voiced an urgent need for additional gunships to improve the fight against the PKK.

The T129s of the original 2008 contract should become operational as of 2014, and the latest announcement for additional gunships means a stopgap solution until that time.

On another helicopter business, the Defense Industry Executive Committee’s Tuesday meeting did not produce a much expected decision on the selection of the Turkish military’s next utility — or general purpose — helicopter.

AgustaWestland and the U.S. Sikorsky Aircraft are vying for the multibillion-dollar contract to jointly manufacture with Turkish partners hundreds of utility helicopters. The first batch includes 109 platforms.

Gönül said the committee is expected to reach a final utility helicopter decision soon, but did not elaborate. The committee’s next meeting is expected in the fall, probably in October.

In a related development, Gönül said Turkey had decided to sign a foreign military sales agreement with the United States for the purchase of several heavy-lift helicopters for the Army and the Special Forces.

The U.S. Congress in December formally allowed for the sale to the Turkish military of 14 CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters and related equipment, worth up to $1.2 billion.

Turkey’s Special Forces will buy four of the CH-47s, and the rest will go to the Army. Boeing manufactures these platforms. The 14 CH-47F Chinooks will be the first heavy-lift helicopters in the Turkish military’s inventory.

Asked to comment on whether recent Turkish-Israeli tensions would lead to curbs in defense industry relations with the country, Gönül said Turkey presently had no state-to-state agreement with Israel on arms purchases. He said the ongoing deals were private contracts between Turkish and Israeli companies and they would not be affected.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Turkey and Syria Agree to Build a New Border Crossing

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JUNE 14 — Turkey and Syria signed a memorandum of understanding to build a new border crossing through the method of build-operate-transfer, as Anatolia news agency reports. Turkish State Minister Hayati Yazici and Syrian Finance Minister Muhammad al-Husayn signed the memorandum of understanding in Istanbul. Yazici said at the signing ceremony, “we have seven border crossings with Syria. We decided to carry out the joint border crossing project in Nusaybin-Kamisli region. A ground-breaking ceremony will take place in the coming months. Then, building of the border crossing will be completed within 7-10 months.” Al-Husayn said on his part that the new border crossing would be used mainly in transportation of goods. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Sultan Abdulhamid’s Heirs Demand Seized Property

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JUNE 17 — The heirs of Sultan Abdulhamid II, the last Ottoman sultan to rule with absolute power, have filed a complaint for damages amounting up to USD 18 billion regarding 4,200 properties that were once owned by the Ottoman dynasty members and later seized by the state. The first hearing of the case, as daily Hurriyet reports, was held last week, and the second hearing is scheduled for September 30. Scattered around the world, the members of the family will reportedly reunite in Istanbul to attend the hearing. The 48 plaintiffs are even planning to carry the case to the European Court of Human Rights if they lose. Orhan Osmanoglu, one of the plaintiffs and a third generation grandson of Sultan Abdulhamid, defined the case as the “lawsuit of the century,” adding that, “If we win the case, then we are ready to settle for a reasonable amount.” (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Moscow Prepares Controversial Integration Handbook

Moscow authorities are preparing an etiquette handbook for foreigners that advises them to speak in Russian, not to walk around the city in national attire and to avoid slaughtering sheep in the courtyard of their apartment building.

The City Hall is collaborating with diasporas and scientists to create the “Muscovite’s Code,” a list of nonbinding behavior guidelines to be presented to every foreigner who moves to Moscow, The Moscow Times reported Thursday.

“There are unwritten rules that residents of our city are obliged to follow, such as not slaughtering sheep in the backyard, not grilling shashliks on the balcony, not walking around the city in national attire and speaking in Russian,” Mikhail Solomentsev, head of City Hall’s committee for interregional cooperation and national policy, told Rossiiskaya Gazeta.

“Now we want to develop a code to speed up the integration of migrants who take up permanent residency in Moscow,” Solomentsev said in an interview published Wednesday.

“We have asked Moscow diasporas themselves to draft the rules. We’ll study their suggestions and consult with scientists to create the “Muscovite’s Code,” so to speak. When a person moves to Moscow, he will receive a book from his countrymen to tell him what is acceptable here and what is not,” he said.

Solomentsev first announced plans for the “Muscovite’s Code” in 2008, but the idea was put on the back burner.

It is a rare sight to see foreigners walking around Moscow in national costume, and sheep slaughtering is unheard of, except at special locations during Islamic holidays.

Yulia Vaidakova, a spokeswoman for Solomentsev, said Wednesday that she could not disclose any additional details at the moment.

But Ekho Moskvy radio reported Wednesday that the code might be completed by early next year.

Immigrants’ rights

Representatives of diasporas contacted by The Moscow Times were cautiously optimistic about the project, which they said may help new migrants integrate, but they warned that it must not infringe on their rights to follow their traditions.

Gavkhar Dzhurayeva, head of the Migration and Law Center, praised the call for dialogue but said “the absurdization” of the discussion might result in serious matters, such as the proper treatment of migrants, being dropped in favor of more controversial issues.

“The idea of a common code for everyone is great, but it must not be reduced to a false intrigue such as dress style, eating habits and behavior patterns,” said Dzhurayeva, who is the former head of the Tajikistan Foundation.

Eldar Guliyev, executive director of the All-Russian Azeri Congress, said people who move to a big city from a village — which includes Russian citizens as well as foreigners — really require help integrating, but the new norms should be “delicate.”

“Rules are needed, but they must not be something the officials can use against a person’s rights,” he said.

Solomentsev said the handbook would preserve Moscow’s way of life.

“Moscow’s lifestyle is based on Russian culture and centuries-old traditions, and everyone moving to the city must reckon with this,” Solomentsev said.

But he added that Muscovites are “a community that is bigger than a nationality because it is a tangle of various cultures.”

Solomentsev also said the city has more migrant workers than it needs.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghanistan: Roadside Bomb Targets Italian Soliders in West

Shindand, 18 June (AKI) — Five Italian soldiers escaped injury on Friday when a roadside bomb targeted their armoured vehicle on an isolated road in southern Afghanistan. The attack took place 12 kilometres from the town of Shindand, in Afghanistan’s western province of Herat.

The five soldiers were inside one of six armoured NATO Lynx vehicles travelling in a convoy. Their vehicle was slightly damaged in the bombing.

Reinforcement’s from NATO’s Regional Command West rescued the soldiers and the damaged Lynx vehicle.

A team of bomb experts was sent to the scene of the blast to investigate the type of explosive device used in the attack.

The other five vehicles in the convoy continued their patrol. Its destination was the village of Masyan, where a meeting between members of the NATO-led international force in Afghanistan and local tribal leaders was due to take place.

The meeting was part of an initiative to get local people more involved in the security of their communities.

The Afghan interior ministry said on Wednesday only around 3.5 per cent of the country was safe, despite efforts to boost Afghan security forces and a record 125,000 international troops stationed there.

In May, the deaths of two Italian soldiers and the serious injury of two other in a bomb attack in western Afghanistan provoked renewed debate about the Italy’s military commitment in the war-wracked nation.

Italy has one of the largest contingents in the NATO-led international force, numbering around 3,500 troops.

Over 200 NATO troops have been killed in Afghanistan this year alone.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Red Cross: Kyrgyzstan, Scene of an “Immense Crisis”

Food is in short supply. Army is monitoring the limited sale of basic foodstuffs like vegetables, bread and butter. Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes; many set on fire. Others are living without shelter or food, sleeping on the road. Violence could reignite at any moment.

Bishkek (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Kyrgyzstan is the scene of an “immense crisis”, the Red Cross (ICRC) said. Refugees are short of basic supplies such as food, water and shelter. People live in great uncertainty, fearful of violence that could break out at any moment.

The number of displaced people ranges “from several hundred to several thousand in number,” the ICRC’s Severine Chappaz said. Many families also have no news about missing members.

The Kyrgyz army has retaken control of the city of Osh with troops patrolling the streets. An uneasy calm has descended upon the area and a sense of foreboding hangs in the air.

A truce has allowed the ICRC to reach the riot-affected area, which had been cut off from the outside world for several days.

Officially, at least 200,000 people fled their homes, an estimate deemed low. Some 75,000 ethnic Uzbeks have fled across the border into Uzbekistan. Many are housed in temporary shelters, but the fate of many others is still unknown.

Other refugees are stuck at the border after Uzbek authorities ordered it closed. They lack food and shelter, and entire families, children included, are sleeping on the road, in the open air. Some have had their home torched. Everyone is afraid that violence might flare up again; no one wants to go back.

The situation in Osh is also very serious. The authorities have begun cleaning up the streets, hauling away the burnt-out shells of cars. However, food remains in short supply. Some basic foodstuff, such as vegetables, butter and bread, are sold from trucks amid a massive military presence.

With the full impact of the humanitarian crisis becoming clear, Robert Blake, the top United States diplomat for the region, was to visit the Uzbek capital Tashkent and then the Fergana Valley on the Kyrgyz border. He will then travel to Bishkek for talks with Kyrgyzstan’s interim government.

In the meantime, the authorities of the shattered country announced three days of national mourning for the nearly 180 people killed in the violence that erupted last week.

China has evacuated a first group of 1,300 of its citizens, and plans to do the same with all others.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]