Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20111128

Financial Crisis
»Belgian Budget Breakthrough Builds Hopes for New Government
»China Looking to Snap up EU Factories, Railways
»Embattled Europe Hit by Credit Rating Warning
»Euro Zone on the Brink: A Continent Stares Into the Abyss
»Federal Judge Blocks Citigroup’s Mortgage Settlement With S.E.C.
»IMF Said to be Readying Italian Bail-Out
»Italy: Bond Spread Returns Below 500 Points
»Italy: Banks Use Patriotism to Sell Bonds
»Italy: Bond Day ‘A Success’
»Merkel: ‘We Have Our Own Debts to Pay’
»Should the Fed Save Europe From Disaster?
»American Way: Barack Obama’s Dovish Tone is Coming Home to Roost
»Debunking Stereotypes
»Does America Have a ‘Muslim Problem’?
»Homeland Episode Guide: Homeland ‘Crossfire’ Summary
»Hysteria-Myth of Shari’ah Taking Over United States
»The Future of the Obama Coalition
»Fight Against Mosque Reveals Prejudice [Letter to the Editor]
Europe and the EU
»Apartheid Row at Norwegian School After it Segregates Ethnic Pupils
»Chinese Demand Fuels Swiss Watch Success
»Countering Extremism by Empowering Individuals in Local Communities in Europe
»European Union Wants Post-Soviet Members’ Nuclear Reactors Permanently Offline
»‘Evil’ Norwegian Child Terrifies YouTube Users
»France: Chase Ends in Tragedy as Policeman Shot
»Greece’s Statistics Chief Faces Criminal Investigation
»How the Danish People’s Party Packages Its Anti-Muslim Racism
»Italy: Lega Nord Against Monti and Breaks Ties With Berlusconi PDL
»Italy Fourth in World for Life Science Publications
»Sweden: Man Stabbed at Indoor Football Tournament
»UK: Birmingham: Faith Map Website Launched
»UK: Islamic New Year: A Reminder for Solemn Reflection, Spiritual Renewal and Positive Action
»UK: Lib Dems Rebranding to Boost Party’s Popularity
»UK: Many Tax Dodgers in London’s Exclusive Block of Flats
»UK: Milestone as Muslims Put in Plans for New City Mosque
»UK: Transport Police Make Arrest After Tram Passenger ‘Hurls Vile Abuse at Onlookers in Racist Rant as Toddler Perches on Her Knee’
North Africa
»Egypt Heads to the Polls: The Muslim Brotherhood Prepares for Power
Israel and the Palestinians
»Netanyahu: We’re Trying to Stabilise Peace Accords
Middle East
»Those Who Support Democracy Must Welcome the Rise of Political Islam
»Turkey: El Dorado of Project Financing Worth 250 Billion Euros
»UAE: NMC to Host 100 Journalists From 43 Countries on National Day
»UK: Islam and Comedy: Two Mullahs Went Into a Bar
»Russia’s Oligarchs Act Quietly in the Background
South Asia
»Editorials in Pakistani Dailies Voice Concern Over Persecution of Hindus in Pakistan
»Germany Calls for Talks With Taliban
»India: SJC Seeks Muslims to Start Living Like a Vibrant Community
»The War on Terrorism or a Global Crusade Against Islam
»Why Did NATO Attack Pakistan?
Far East
»Censors Keep a Beady Eye on China’s ‘Tweets’
Australia — Pacific
»We Are Unknowingly Being Converted to Islam, Says Cowan MP Luke Simpkins
Sub-Saharan Africa
»China Builds Its African Empire While the ‘Anti-Colonialist’ Left Looks the Other Way
»Gambia: State House Imam Fatty Says He Was Born in Casamance in Senegal
»Threat of Piracy Reaches All Shores
»France Welcomes Too ‘Many’ Foreigners
»Italy: Searches Continue After Migrant Boat Sinks, Killing Three
»Sweden: Steep Hike in Immigrant Unemployment
»Google Reins in Spending on Renewable Energy Technology
»Pluto’s Moons Could Spell Danger for New Horizons Spacecraft
»Senior Al-Qaeda Operative: The World is on Brink of Anarchy; The Mujahideen Have a Chance to Fill the Vacuum and Establish the Caliphate

Financial Crisis

Belgian Budget Breakthrough Builds Hopes for New Government

Belgium’s political crisis has dragged on for 17 months with Flemish and Francophone parties stuck in gridlock. But a budget for 2012 has raised hopes that lawmakers may be ready for a grand compromise.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

China Looking to Snap up EU Factories, Railways

China is looking to buy EU factories and railways instead of wobbly government bonds as prices fall amid the eurozone crisis. Minister of commerce Chen Deming articulated the strategy at a business congress in China on Monday (28 November).

“Next year, we will send a delegation for promoting trade and investment to the European countries … Some European countries are facing a debt crisis and hope to convert their assets to cash and would like foreign capital to acquire their enterprises. We will be closely watching and pushing forward the process,” he said. Chen’s remarks come after the chief of the $410 billion Chinese Investment Corporation, Lou Jiwei, wrote in an op-ed in the Financial Times on Sunday that EU infrastructure needs outside help.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Embattled Europe Hit by Credit Rating Warning

Moody’s warned Monday that every member of the European Union could have its credit rating downgraded without firm action to stem the eurozone crisis as the IMF denied it was in talks to bail out Italy. Ahead of a new OECD growth forecast likely to deepen the gloom within the eurozone, Moody’s said there was a real danger of “multiple defaults” by debt-ridden countries and raised the spectre of the single currency’s break-up.

A weekend report in Italy’s La Stampa newspaper had said the International Monetary Fund was readying a bail-out package worth up to 600 billion euros ($800 billion), giving new Prime Minister Mario Monti a window of 12 to 18 months to implement urgent budget cuts and growth-boosting reforms. That report led to an upturn on the European markets, with Italian, German and French stocks gaining more than three percent in initial trading.

Shares were also up in Asia’s main markets, with Tokyo rising 1.56 percent while Seoul closed 2.19 percent higher. In a one-sentence statement, the IMF denied it was holding talks. “There are no discussions with the Italian authorities on a programme for IMF financing,” said the Washington-based organisation.

But analysts said the markets were unconvinced by the IMF denial and that sentiment was also given a lift by a separate report that German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy are considering a new stability treaty that would be limited to only a few countries in the eurozone.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Euro Zone on the Brink: A Continent Stares Into the Abyss

Fear is spreading through the financial markets as investors pull their money out of the crisis-stricken euro-zone countries. With Chancellor Angela Merkel opposed to using the ECB’s firepower to solve the crisis, the monetary union appears increasingly in danger of breaking apart. Some economists are even arguing for Germany to reintroduce the deutsche mark.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Federal Judge Blocks Citigroup’s Mortgage Settlement With S.E.C.

A federal judge in New York on Monday threw out a settlement between the Securities and Exchange Commission and Citigroup over a 2007 mortgage derivatives deal, saying that the S.E.C.’s policy of settling cases by allowing a company to neither admit nor deny the agency’s allegations did not satisfy the law.

The judge, Judge Jed S. Rakoff of the Federal District Court in Manhattan, ruled that the S.E.C.’s $285 million settlement, announced last month, is “neither fair, nor adequate, nor in the public interest” because it does not provide the court with evidence on which to judge the settlement.

The ruling could throw the S.E.C.’s enforcement efforts into chaos, because a majority of the fraud and other cases that the agency brings against Wall Street firms are settled out of court, most often with a condition that the defendant does not admit that it violated the law while also promising not to deny it.

[Return to headlines]

IMF Said to be Readying Italian Bail-Out

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is preparing a multi-billion-euro rescue of Italy, reports in the Italian media on Sunday (27 November) claim. The Washington-based lender is in talks readying a €600 billion assistance package for Rome in return for swingeing austerity and structural adjustment measures, according to an article in Italian daily La Stampa, quoting unnamed officials in the American capital.

Spain meanwhile may not need a full bail-out programme and be offered instead a credit line. Buttressing speculation that the IMF is set to bail out the eurozone’s third biggest economy, ECB member and Bank of France governor Christian Noyer was asked directly by reporters whether the IMF is preparing a programme of support for Italy, but he refused to comment.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Bond Spread Returns Below 500 Points

Milan bourse gains 3% amid hopes for action on eurozone crisis

(ANSA) — Rome, November 28 — The spread between 10-year Italian bonds and German bunds went back below the psychologically important 500-point mark in early trading Monday, but state paper remained under pressure.

After closing at around 506 points last week, the spread, an important indicator of market confidence in Italy’s ability to service its huge debt, fell to 481.9 points.

The yield on 10-year bonds stood at 7.11% at around 10am local time, still well above the 7% mark many analysts believe would make servicing a debt of 120% of GDP unsustainable if it stuck in the long term.

The yield on two year-bonds reached 8.12%, its highest level since the introduction of the euro, before dropping back to 7.43%.

The Milan stock market, meanwhile, gained 3% in early trading with the rise spurred by hopes government leaders are about to take decisive action to combat the eurozone debt crisis. The Italian public is being encouraged to do its bit to ease the pressure on state paper on Monday, which has been dubbed ‘BTP Day’ as bonds will be sold without the customary commission.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Banks Use Patriotism to Sell Bonds

Rome, 28 Nov. (AKI/Bloomberg) — As Italian bond yields hover close to euro-area highs, the country’s biggest banks are backing a plea for local investors to purchase the securities and help restore confidence in the nation’s sovereign market.

The Italian Banking Association is promoting “BTP-Day” today, with lenders waiving fees for clients who buy government bonds and bills known as BTPs and BOTs at branches. The initiative, originally proposed by a Tuscan businessman, will be repeated on Dec. 12.

Borrowing costs surged as the euro region’s debt crisis pushed the yields of six-month Italian Treasury bills to a 14- year high. The rate on benchmark 10-year bonds ended last week above 7 percent, a level that locked Greece, Portugal and Ireland out of the capital markets and forced them to seek aid.

“Italian savers may be bondholders of last resort as banks and institutional investors are reducing holdings of government bonds,” said Wolfram Mrowetz, chairman of investment firm Alisei SIM in Milan, in an interview.

Increasing concerns that Italy may be the next victim of the debt crisis have led institutional investors to sell Italian holdings. Kokusai Asset Management Co.’s Global Sovereign Open, Japan’s biggest mutual fund, sold all of its Italian government bonds by Nov. 10, according to a report from the fund.

Italy, whose debt amounts to 1.9 trillion euros, has to refinance about 200 billion euros of maturing bonds next year and more than 100 billion euros of bills. Households are considered an important target for bond-issuers because they tend to hold the debt to maturity.

Bank of Italy

Retail investors in Italy own 223 billion euros of government debt, about 14 percent of the total, data compiled by the Bank of Italy show.

Giuliano Melani, a 51-year old financial consultant in the Tuscan town of Quarrata, paid for a full-page advertisement in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on Nov. 4, exhorting his fellow citizens to acquire government bonds to show that Italians “are one people, a great people.” He said taking part in “BTP Day” will show the foreigners that “we Italians are not afraid and believe in our country.”

Melani’s plea drew support from people such as Alda Dall’Antonia, 79, a former dressmaker in Rome. “I will seize the opportunity to buy more bonds considering the good returns and that there are no commissions this time.”

Soccer Players

The initiative also got backing from the Italian Soccer Players Association. “Everybody is rooting for this country and we believe in its strength,” Damiano Tommasi, head of the association, was quoted as saying by news agency Ansa. “That’s why we support BTP Day.”

The campaign will have a limited effect on the market, said Nicola Borri, an economics professor at Luiss University in Rome.

“I’m a bit skeptical that this initiative will do the job,” he said in an interview. “Italy needs to refinance more than 250 billion euros in the next year and we estimate that half of it should come from abroad,” Borri said. “Households are not able to replace the rest of the world.”

For banks, the sale of bonds in their portfolios to clients will allow them to reduce their stake in Italian debt, Paolo Manasse, a professor of political economy at Bologna University, wrote on his blog. UniCredit SpA, Italy’s biggest bank, held about 40 billion euros of government bonds at the end of September and Intesa Sanpaolo SpA, the nation’s No. 2 lender, owned 64 billion euros, according to their third-quarter figures.

“This is the beginning of a potential new Ponzi scheme, with banks and authorities trying to increase the involvement of retailers in the underwriting of Italian public debt,” analysts at broker Fidentiis wrote in a Nov. 25 note to clients. “It’s all window dressing with banks cutting visible fees on securities that are down massively.”

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

Italy: Bond Day ‘A Success’

Record number of state bonds sold, Milan bourse up 4.6%

(ANSA) — Rome, November 28 — A record number of Italian bonds were sold during Italy’s commission-free ‘Bond Day’ and the Milan bourse closed up 4.6% on Monday. According to the operators of the Milan stock exchange, 80,962 state bonds were purchased, which valued approximately 2.6 billion euros.

“The day’s results are absolutely satisfying,” said Gabriele Piccini, chairman of Italy’s largest bank Unicredit.

“This is a sign that Italians have faith in our country and its ability to bounce back”. Piccini added that early data showed double the amount of state-bond purchases from the previous week. Banks, businesses and ordinary people were invited Monday, or ‘BTP Day’, to buy up Multi-year Treasury Bonds (BTP) without being charged the customary surcharge in an effort to help ease the pressure on the country’s debt-burdened economy. The yield on 10-year Italian bonds has been hovering around the 7%-mark that some analysts believe would make servicing Italy’s 1.9-trillion-euro debt unsustainable if it stuck in the long term.

According to the Bank of Italy, about 58% of the country’s debt is already in the hands of private citizens.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Merkel: ‘We Have Our Own Debts to Pay’

Germany hit back at those calling for the country to dig deeper into its pockets to solve the eurozone debt crisis, saying on Monday it had its own debts to pay off. Speaking at a regular government news conference, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman said, “Germany has solidarity with its European partners and has already deployed enormous resources. But we also have debt to deal with.

“We are on a good path to doing this… but we too do not have unlimited financial resources,” added the spokesman, Steffen Seibert. There have been appeals from around the world for Germany to either contribute more generously to the eurozone rescue fund or to backtrack on its opposition to pooling debt within the 17 countries with the common currency.

Berlin is also blocking what many see as potentially the most powerful solution to the eurozone crisis: allowing the European Central Bank to intervene more forcefully on the bond markets to bring down member states’ borrowing costs.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Should the Fed Save Europe From Disaster?

The dam is breaking in Europe. Interbank lending has seized up. Much of the financial system is paralysed, setting off a credit crunch just as Euroland slides back into slump.

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

The Euribor/OIS spread or ‘fear gauge’ is flashing red warning signals. Dollar funding costs in Europe have spiked to Lehman-crisis levels, leaving lenders struggling frantically to cover their $2 trillion (£1.3 trillion) funding gap.

America’s money markets are no longer willing to lend to over-leveraged Euroland banks, or only on drastically short maturities below seven days. Exposure to French banks has been slashed by 69pc since May.

Italy faces a “sudden stop” in funding, forced to pay 6.5pc on Friday for six-month money, despite the technocrat take-over in Rome.

German Bund yields have risen to 59 basis points above Swedish bonds since Wednesday’s failed auction. German debt has been relegated suddenly against Swiss, Nordic, Japanese, and US debt. As the Telegraph reported two weeks ago, Asian central banks and sovereign wealth funds are spurning all EMU bonds because they have lost confidence in a monetary system with no lender of last resort, coherent form of government, or respect for the rule of law.

Even if EU leaders could agree on fiscal union and joint debt issuance — which they can’t — such long-range changes cannot solve the immediate crisis at hand. The push for treaty changes has become a vast distraction…

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


American Way: Barack Obama’s Dovish Tone is Coming Home to Roost

Sitting in a bland conference room one evening last week, a focus group of seven Republican-leaning suburban voters from the crucial swing state of Virginia mused about America’s foreign policy in the light of the 2012 election. A group of us were in a a darkened room next door observing through a one-way mirror. The candidate preferences of the seven broadly reflected national polls: two gung-ho for Newt Gingrich, two undecided and three for Mitt Romney, though none of them especially enthusiastic about it. It was no shocker that they were down on President Barack Obama. What was surprising, though, was that all seven thought he was bringing troops back from Iraq and Afghanistan precipitately. More broadly, there was a consensus that their president was ineffectual. “Obama is giving things away,” said a man who works as a mortgage broker and coaches Little League baseball. “If say we’ll be out of X county by Y date you’ve already weakened your bargaining power because they don’t know if you have will to fight.”

An Asian-American man, who was the best-versed on politics, said: “The President wants to be amiable but that doesn’t work in foreign policy. We’re not conveying strength we have.” What Americans were looking for, he ventured, was a switch “in tone” to “someone seeming to stand up for country, rallying for country, fighting for the country — whereas Obama’s trying to everyone as equals, trying to be fair”. How can it be that a US commander-in-chief who ordered the killing of Osama bin Laden, has increased drone strikes in Pakistan sevenfold, arranged for Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen, to be taken out in Yemen and protected the American homeland from terrorist attack for three years is seen as weak?

This is the conundrum that President Barack Obama faces this election season and the opportunity that presents itself to the Republican wannabes vying to supplant him. What the focus group, organised by The Israel Project, showed was that the old Theodore Roosevelt dictum of “speak softly and carry a big stick” has its limits. Obama set the tone for his administration in his campaign when he said he would sit down with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran without preconditions and spoke of himself in Berlin as a “citizen of the world”.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Debunking Stereotypes

by Ruben Navarrette

Arsalan Iftikhar has an important message for his fellow Americans: “Have no fear.” The 34-year-old Chicago native of Pakistani descent is now a Washington, D.C.-based human rights lawyer, media commentator and founder of the global news site, The Crescent Post. Most recently, Iftikhar is the author of the book, “Islamic Pacifism: Global Muslims in the Post-Osama Era.” He is also a friend and fellow commentator on National Public Radio’s “Tell Me More with Michel Martin.” Iftikhar’s passion is peace and nonviolence, and his mission is to use every form of media imaginable to dispel the popular stereotypes held by many Americans in the post-9/11 era — beginning with this one: that Muslim Americans are partial to radical Islam and sympathetic to those who want to harm the United States and its people. Not even close, Iftikhar said.

“Since Sept. 11, everyone has been asking for a Muslim Gandhi,” he told me recently. “So I’m basically putting that platform out there. I’m saying, ‘Don’t view Muslims or Islam as monolithic entities. The vast majority of mainstream Muslims subscribe to a platform of nonviolence.’ “ Iftikhar is riding that wave. For him, how you see Islam has a lot to do with when you were born. “Our next ‘millennial’ generation — the one coming up now, people of all faiths and ethnicities — is probably the least racist generation that our world has ever seen,” he said. “It’s because they’ve been exposed to a diverse group of people throughout their lifetimes. So they’re much less likely to feel any kind of xenophobia toward people of different backgrounds.”

There is some truth to that. The polling on millennials’ attitudes toward diversity, immigration and multiculturalism backs it up. But generations don’t raise themselves, and young people can also adopt some of their parents’ views on these matters — not all of them positive, constructive or enlightened. Besides, the millennials are the 9/11 generation — those who see that September morning as the defining moment of their lives. Couldn’t that make them more hostile to Muslim-Americans? For Iftikhar, that’s where the death of Osama bin Laden offers an opportunity — to start anew. At one point, I asked him to list the more popular (and off-base) stereotypes of mainstream Muslims. “First, that we don’t condemn terrorism,” he said. “If I stood on the street every day of every month of every year and condemned terrorism, it wouldn’t be enough for some people. Next, that we somehow value human life less than other religions. It’s absurd. Murder is condemned in Islam just like it is in any major religion. And finally, that we’re not somehow contributing members of society. We have Muslims in the arts, in sports and in the media — like myself — who are trying to show that we are contributing members of society.”

They are also not monolithic. “We’re as diverse as anyone else,” he insisted. “We have conservative Muslims. We have liberal Muslims. We have non-practicing Muslims.” As a Mexican-American, I hear myself in this story. The bit about how some folks always assume that Muslim Americans condone terrorism sounds like what Mexican-Americans go through — where, it is assumed by the ignorant and prejudiced, that anyone of Mexican descent condones illegal immigration. And Mexican-Americans aren’t monolithic either. We’re liberal and conservative, too. In fact, many of us represent the typical swing voters — liberal on some issues but conservative on others. In this respect, we’re much more complicated than the parties that vie for our support.

There’s one more similarity. Muslim Americans have to live with the paradox of not being a “race” and yet still experiencing something that looks and smells like racism. Iftikhar tried to “unpack” it all. “Prior to the 1990s,” he noted, “racism in America was seen purely through a black and white prism. What people like me — and you — do is that we’re teaching Americans that racism is no longer black and white. There is a shade of gray.” Most of all, Iftikhar said, he wants to shift the “meta-narrative” about Muslims in America. “Even if the haters out there still want to see Islam or Muslims as violent or extremist,” he said, “I’m putting them on notice that at least they know one Muslim pacifist who doesn’t subscribe to that thinking. It’s a ripple in the water, but it’s my contribution.” And a valuable one it is.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Does America Have a ‘Muslim Problem’?

by Sol Sanders

For those who lived through the prelude to World War II and then the Cold War, the current American dilemma dealing with Islam is all too familiar. Countering Islamic radical infiltration resembles nothing so much as a century of struggle against communism before the Soviet Union, as Lenin would have said, was consigned to history’s dustbin.

In the bitter climate of the Great Depression — for younger readers, do go to the marvelous reportage of John Steinbeck — reform was not only fashionable but critical. The movers and shakers of the era were a strange lot, drawn from all parts of American society and all ideologies. An example was the blossoming of the 1930s trade union movement, as a veteran labor leader once told me, that was advanced by three factors: government (the New Deal’s Wagner Act), socialists and communists (the “community organizers” of their day).

As the years go by, we old reprobates are handed more and more proof of the incredible penetration of Moscow’s espionage. James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s Cold War stalwart, may have been paranoid but, as the saying goes, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t persecuted. Even more important, the Cambridge University scandals dramatized as no other single episode the widespread subversion of Western thought as well as of institutions by Stalinists flying under the two false flags of reform and anti-fascism. Why is any of this relevant to dealing with today’s Islamist threat? Muslim “moderates” and their apologists present Islam as another Abrahamic religion not all that different from Christianity or Judaism. Don’t the Jewish holy books, too, drip with blood and hatred? The answer, not so simple but enough for this brief apologia: Islam never had its Renaissance, its Reformation, its Counter-Reformation, its Haskalah, its Enlightenment, its scientific revolution.

At the same time, by accident of history and geology, the industrial West has transferred vast resources to primitive Persian Gulf tribal societies. Just oil revenue alone of a half-trillion dollars annually finances fanaticism — bereft of its civilizing Persian (Zoroastrian) and Indian (Hindu, Buddhist) influences — to spread hatred with a “we-they” syndrome so virulent that no Western psychiatrist could have imagined it. In effect, the West nurtures subversion of our civilization — as so often it helped the Soviets through Russian communism’s many death-defying crises. Our problem, then, is not so simple as distinguishing between Islam as a religion and Islam as a political creed. It would be no easier than it was earlier on sorting out communist motivation from true “reformism” — or from simple naivete. Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s spot-on denunciations of communist infiltration at the time were difficult to credit when “McCarthyism,” the accusation of slander, was flung about, often by partisans of communists appearing before his inquisition who refused to identify their true beliefs and who exploited McCarthy’s own excesses.

That dynamic comes to mind now with charges from Muslim organizations, including unindicted co-conspirators aiding terrorists, who scream “Islamophobia” when any attempt is made to ferret the real intent of those seeking to subvert U.S. institutions. For Muslims who take their cue from parts of the Sunna/hadith — the sayings and activities of the Prophet Muhammad — dissimulation is permitted when dealing with nonbelievers, even “People of the Book” such as Christians and Jews. It was so with communists who used Marxist “ethics” even against their sometime “social fascist”/social democratic partners. That’s why the U.S. and state governments have such difficulty sorting out Islamist tendencies. Prisons and the military have succumbed to fanatics posing as chaplains. Our most prestigious universities accept largesse from the Gulf states in exchange for defending their authoritarianism and obscurantism. Mosques and madrassas (religious schools) are often financed and run by radical preachers sabotaging our values. Our crusaders (pun intended) for freedom of the Internet inadvertently enable e-recruiting by terrorists. To a degree, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas is right in suggesting we have reaped a whirlwind we sowed — but with petrodollars and technology transfers rather than the geopolitical offenses that Mr. Paul and others condemn.

This has all, of course, been compounded by a president who in his Cairo speech to the Islamic world — written and poorly researched by a very young man without knowledge of the 1,400 years of Islam and eons of Middle Eastern history — serves up misplaced sentiment, logic and politics to further muddle an already critical issue.

Sol Sanders, a veteran international correspondent, writes weekly on the intersection of politics, business and economics. He can be reached at and blogs at

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Homeland Episode Guide: Homeland ‘Crossfire’ Summary

After Brody’s attempt to sever ties with Abu Nazir, he finds himself unexpectedly re-living some of his time in captivity. Painfully reminded of a tragic loss he suffered, Brody recommits to his mission. Meanwhile, the search for Walker continues as Carrie finds herself in the middle of a PR nightmare between the FBI and CIA, on the heels of the shooting at the mosque. The mosque’s idealistic Imam refuses to give up information about Walker until the FBI admits their true, full culpability. But after Estes shuts down Carrie’s radical plan to get the Imam to talk, she finds answers in an unexpected place. Written by Alex Cary. Directed by Jeffrey Nachmanoff. Homeland season 1 episode 9 “Crossfire.” Homeland airs on Showtime and stars Claire Danes, Damian Lewis and Mandy Patinkin.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Hysteria-Myth of Shari’ah Taking Over United States

Many anti-Muslim disinformation and misinformation experts in the United States have been advancing their agenda of Islamophobia by insinuating that the Shari’ah law will replace the American constitution and American laws. They are imploring the American presidential candidates to protect the constitution by repudiating Shari’ah law. These Islamphobics employ reckless methods targeting millions and millions of naïve Americans in belieiving that Muslims are using stealthy techniques and agendas with the express aim of “destroying Western civilization from within”. The anti-Shari’ah sentiments are now also being used by politicians in the political rhetorics to gain support of the common man in their efforts to gain more votes.

These Islamophobics are using all methods to convince the politicians and all other Americans that Islamic laws are hovering over them like clouds and that Shari’ah law is going to rain on them. The image is not farfetched or imaginary. Whenever Islamic law is mentioned, the image emerges that there is no room for forgiveness. This image was enhanced by the revolution in Iran in 1979. Many who opposed the Iranian revolution or supported the Shah met with harsh penalties and death. The new laws in Iran restricted the activities of the common man in Iran. This created the impression that Islamic Shari’ah only propagated and practised ‘Eye for an Eye’ and ‘Tooth for a Tooth’. This image was blown out of proportion by the mass media.

Then the incredible indelible images of 9/11 aerial suicides resulting in destruction of World Trade Centre in New York and damge to the Pentagon in Washinton D.C. put Muslims and their religion Islam in the limelight. Later the US attack on Afghanistan, invasion of Iraq and subsequent suicide bombings and killings of innocent Muslims by Talibans and Al-Qaeda terrorists kept on enhancing the image of Islam in the bad light. The Muslim terrorists, Muslim extreme fundamentalists, and religious fanatics are going in the Mosques and killing innocent Muslims. This is un-Islamic. On top of this, no Muslim country emphasises the role of mercy and fogiveness in Islam. Any talk of implementing Shari’ah in any country conjures up the image of: cutting hands, administering lashes or stoning adulterers to death. The 9/11 era created new groups of anti-Muslim viruses and worms. They along with the Islamophobia practioners are advocating rejection of Shari’ah in America. They use the above mentioned three points: cutting hands, administering lashes or stoning adulterers to death, to attack Islam and Muslims. Reasonable people in America, including the Mayor of City of Irvine, California, have seen and argue that Islamic laws are based on justice and not for administering punishment.

Mr. Henry Qugley, Mayor of City of Irvine, California, wrote in Los Angeles Times:

“We in this country should take a lesson from the system of justice in Arabia and the Saudis’ execution of the assassin who killed King Faisal. The reason that crime is rampant in this country is because there is virtually no punishment for crime. We have a poor record of apprehending criminals. Crime rate will decrease when punishment becomes swift and sure. The severity of the punishment is not as important as the sureness of the penalty. Our courts should be mandated to move faster and to determine only if the person committed the crime. To return to King Faisal’s assassin, it was but a few months ago that the crime was committed — and they did not spend years arguing over psychiatric evaluation of why he did it. Evidence showed he did it and he paid for it; swift and sure.” (Henry Qugley, Los Angeles Times, Jul 14, 1975).

Now many States in the US have passed laws in the Assemblies of their respective States that Shari’ah laws should not be used to pass judgement in civil or criminal cases. Muslim organisations, Muslim Civil Rights Groups, Masajid, Shura Councils and individual Muslims are making efforts to convince that the information the Congressmen are getting about Shari’ah Laws are based on misinformation and disinformation, and that they are afraid of the Shari’ah law for wrong reasons. The Congressmen are afraid of Shari’ah Laws and I know why. I remember, in 1976, at a work place, a few friends were engaged in a casual conversation. The question of King Faisal’s assassination and cutting of hands in Saudi Arabia was brought up during this conversation. Some of the friends made very strong comments against the Islamic Penal Code and the Saudi government. One of our Muslim friends tried to explain the punishment given to thieves and spoke for a few minutes. In short, he said that a hungry man who stole a loaf of bread will not lose his hand, but a habitual thief will. After hearing this, Mr. Bill Wolfe, another friend, whose family is heavily involved in the California politics said in a loud voice, “No, No, we cannot have those Saudi laws in this country.” Then with a grin and a smile, he added, “If we implemented Saudi laws in this country, not a single Congressman will have two hands.”

[JP note: Naive Americans? Surely he meant Native Americans.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

The Future of the Obama Coalition

By Thomas B. Edsall

For decades, Democrats have suffered continuous and increasingly severe losses among white voters. But preparations by Democratic operatives for the 2012 election make it clear for the first time that the party will explicitly abandon the white working class.

All pretense of trying to win a majority of the white working class has been effectively jettisoned in favor of cementing a center-left coalition made up, on the one hand, of voters who have gotten ahead on the basis of educational attainment — professors, artists, designers, editors, human resources managers, lawyers, librarians, social workers, teachers and therapists — and a second, substantial constituency of lower-income voters who are disproportionately African-American and Hispanic.

It is instructive to trace the evolution of a political strategy based on securing this coalition in the writings and comments, over time, of such Democratic analysts as Stanley Greenberg and Ruy Teixeira. Both men were initially determined to win back the white working-class majority, but both currently advocate a revised Democratic alliance in which whites without college degrees are effectively replaced by well-educated socially liberal whites in alliance with the growing ranks of less affluent minority voters, especially Hispanics.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Fight Against Mosque Reveals Prejudice [Letter to the Editor]

Re: Angry residents state case at council, Nov. 10.

It is admirable the citizens of Markham have formed a concerned citizens group, the so-called Markham Residents for Responsible Community Planning, to monitor the development of our municipality, with special emphasis on traffic congestion and other environmental aspects. It is also quite admirable they have turned out in record number to council meetings and are signing a petition with the aim of curbing development. What is shameful, however, is the unwritten but glaringly obvious motive behind all of this sudden activism and interest in municipal politics, i.e., the building of a mosque — which, in essence, is designed for worship and other community services, and in its own unique and magnificent way, will add to the vibrancy and richness of the area. To their credit, our mayor and a few members of the council are seeing through this false concern and realize, like the rest of us who are truly committed to diversity and equality, that the so-called traffic jams argument and the conservation of farmland is but a smokescreen for the real motive — Islam and Muslims are not welcome. Where were these so-called concerned citizens when numerous non-Muslim places of worship were built with insufficient parking and catering to thousands of worshippers, many of whom do not even live in Markham? Islam is a world religion that has well over 1.5 billion adherents and is now the second largest faith in Canada. Is it not about time that we shed our prejudice and stop trying to deny Muslims their basic human rights?

Houda Hayani


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Apartheid Row at Norwegian School After it Segregates Ethnic Pupils

A political row has broken out in Norway after a secondary school segregated students with ethnic backgrounds in classes away from white Norwegians.

Bjerke Upper Secondary School in Oslo filled one of the three general studies sets solely with pupils with immigrant parents, after many white Norwegians from last year’s intake changed schools. The controversy over the decision has highlighted the unease in Norway over how to integrate the 420,000 “non-Nordic” citizens who immigrated between 1990 and 2009, and who make up 28 per cent of Oslo’s population.

“This is the first time I’ve heard about this, and it is totally unacceptable,” Torge Ødegaard, Oslo education commissioner, said on Friday, before pressuring the school to inform parents that the three classes would now be reorganised. The letter to parents read: “Such a division of the students is not in accordance with the requirements of the Education Act. The school regrets this error.”

But Robert Wright, a Christian Democrat politician and former head of the city’s schools board, struck back, arguing that the authorities had been wrong to block the move. He also said that other Oslo schools should start to segregate classes to prevent a situation of “white flight” developing.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Chinese Demand Fuels Swiss Watch Success

The Swiss watch industry is in rude health, the latest figures show, with exports leaping once again last month and watchmakers set to notch up a record year thanks to hungry Chinese consumers. Despite the strong Swiss franc punishing exporters, not to mention the effect of the global debt crisis, the demand for Swiss watches hit a peak in October, putting smiles on the faces of the country’s 600 watchmakers.

Data from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FH) showed exports rose to 1.9 billion Swiss francs ($2.0 billion), up 18.6 percent on the same month last year. “The upwards trend is clearly continuing … and shows no signs of weakening,” the trade body said.

While Switzerland only represents two percent of the global market in terms of volume, with 26 million watches sold last year compared to China’s 671 million and Hong Kong’s 419 million, it remains the top world exporter in terms of value, enjoying a more than 50 percent market share, analysts at Bank Vontobel said.

Swiss watch sales were worth $15.5 billion, exceeding both Hong Kong at $7.5 billion and China at $3.1 billion. About 95 percent of watches costing more than 1,000 Swiss francs were meanwhile produced in Switzerland.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Countering Extremism by Empowering Individuals in Local Communities in Europe

Over the past ten years, significant efforts have been made globally to identify and understand the root causes of extremism. In Europe, national governments and the EU institutions have worked closely with counter-terrorism experts, law enforcement agencies, faith-based groups and Muslim community leaders with a view to understanding and preventing the phenomenon of home-grown extremism and radicalisation leading to terrorism. It has become increasingly evident that recruitment, particularly — but not exclusively — of young people, is often the result of longer-term, and sometimes undetected, radicalisation processes. The factors contributing to radicalisation are manifold, complex and often not completely understood. Extremist propaganda diffused through the media and particularly the internet, the preaching of radical individuals within communities and the use of religious-based arguments to foment violence are contributing factors. Additionally, discrimination and marginalisation combined with the lack of access to liberal religious and other role-model figures contribute significantly by creating a fertile ground for extremism to spread and have an impact.

Within this context and as part of our work at the European Foundation for Democracy (EFD) in Brussels, we have come across a number of inspirational individuals — European citizens of Muslim and/or immigrant backgrounds — concerned by the polarisation of the broader debate across Europe. They are frustrated by the attention and importance that both policy makers and the media continue to give almost exclusively to self-appointed “spokespersons” and radical elements who claim to represent “Muslim communities” or to speak in the name of Islam. They feel equally threatened by the spread of extremist narratives within their own communities and witness firsthand the way in which radical individuals and group pressure contribute to the emergence of virtual parallel societies in which a different set of values, freedoms and laws apply. In these societies, we often see that the rights of individuals are sacrificed in the name of the “rights” of cultures.

Some of these individuals work against forced marriages, others on honour crimes and honour violence; some are journalists working on radicalisation issues and others are local government officials, film-makers, academics and researchers. But they are all Europeans who firmly believe in the principles enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights: respect for the rule of law and fundamental rights. All are united in their desire to change the current status quo, as they see firsthand that the results of various government policies on integration over the years continue to fall short. The disconnect between government and citizens, particularly those within immigrant communities, has grown ever greater thus creating a gap filled by extremists, who are connecting with and offering an alternative to disaffected youth in societies right across Europe.

It is through working with these people that it has become increasingly evident that voices such as theirs are not being heard mainly because they lack the means and access to policy makers, media and funding sources. All of them are active in their respective capacities in their own countries but they work primarily alone, unaware that there are many like-minded individuals in other countries working on similar issues, sharing the same values and ideals for a free, open and tolerant society. They represent a significant opportunity as a resource for European and national authorities in their efforts to fight and prevent radicalisation within immigrant and Muslim communities. They are true to the democratic values on which Europe was founded and they need to be supported, nurtured and empowered to ensure that they can develop into the alternative role models they are and inspire their peers within their communities. They are passionate about playing a stronger and more effective role in countering extremist narratives and rhetoric that for too long have been perceived as the de facto views from their communities. They are a tremendously motivating group of people and deserve to succeed. It will take a few years for their efforts to bear fruit though I am in no doubt that this will occur in the not-too-distant future. With the support of institutions such as the European Commission, these individuals could make a hugely valuable contribution by mobilising individuals within their communities to help them take control of their lives and those of their families and friends. The successes of empowerment networks such as this surely benefit all Europeans.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

European Union Wants Post-Soviet Members’ Nuclear Reactors Permanently Offline

by John Daly

In the wake of the March Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan and Germany’s subsequent decision in June to close all of its 18 nuclear power plants between 2015 and 2022, the European Union is turning its eyes eastwards to new EU members Bulgaria, Lithuania and Slovakia, offering further funding to ensure that its Soviet-era nuclear reactors remain out of service permanently.

On 24 November the European Commission proposed to provide further EU assistance worth $662 million to support the final closure after earlier decommissioning of Bulgaria’s Kozloduy nuclear power plant (NPP), Lithuania’s Ignalina facility and Slovakia’s Bohunice nuclear station.

The good news for the trio is that under terms of the proposal, Bulgaria will receive an additional $245million until 2020. Lithuania will receive $278 million until 2017 and Slovakia $139 million until 2017.

The bad news for the three countries is that before the EU financial support will be provided, all three nations will have to meet certain conditions, including complying with current EU legislation on nuclear safety and the management of nuclear waste as well as developing legal frameworks to generate the necessary national financial resources to cover the remaining fiscal needs.

Lithuania is already decrying the deal. The same day that the proposal was unveiled Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius released a statement commenting, “The current proposal is not acceptable for us, as it does not comply with the commitments enshrined in the (EU) accession treaty of Lithuania.”


[Return to headlines]

‘Evil’ Norwegian Child Terrifies YouTube Users

The maniacal laugh of a Norwegian baby girl has thousands of YouTube users and US news outlets bewitched. In less than two weeks, 1-and-a-half-year-old baby Ekström has earned 5 million views for her reaction to a fallen toy. The video titled “My daughter has chosen the dark side,” a reference to the Star Wars axis of evil, has been shown on US television by the Good Morning America show and comedian Ellen DeGeneres, both with viewers in the tens of millions.

Baby Ekstrøm’s father, Thomas Ekstrøm, contemplated adding his daughter’s cute encounters with her favourite car to a family blog before deciding instead to upload to Youtube. Newspaper Dagbladet reported Ekstrøm had 150,000 views in just one night.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France: Chase Ends in Tragedy as Policeman Shot

The life of a 37-year-old policeman is hanging in the balance after he was shot several times near the southern city of Marseille. A suspected burglar was also killed in the gunfight with police. A car chase in the town of Vitrolles, north of Marseille, turned nasty on Sunday night when police tried to arrest suspected burglars on the A7 motorway. A policeman was shot with a Kalashnikov and a suspect killed in the shoot-out.

On Sunday evening, suspected burglars were spotted in a supermarket in the small town of Saint-Martin-de-Crau. Police chased the men and threw a caltrop barrier in front of their car — a stolen Audi — to puncture their tyres on the motorway.

The shoot-out broke out at 3.30am on Monday and police shot a man who was firing a Kalashnikov, according to the French regional daily La Provence. The wounded policeman, who was shot in the head and in the stomach, was taken to a hospital in Marseille. It is not yet clear whether the other suspects were able to escape the police.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greece’s Statistics Chief Faces Criminal Investigation

The head of Elstat, Greece’s new independent statistics agency, faces an official criminal investigation for allegedly inflating the scale of the country’s fiscal crisis and acting against the Greek national interest…

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

How the Danish People’s Party Packages Its Anti-Muslim Racism

The far-right Danish People’s Party, which is notorious for its opposition to minority communities of migrant origin and Muslims in particular, has produced a 3-minute English-language video, “I Am Denmark”, extolling the virtues of the Danish nation. It’s worth looking at, if you can stomach it, because it is a good example of how a section of the far right now frames its politics, by distancing itself from cruder forms of racism and packaging its anti-Muslim bigotry in cultural terms, as the defence of progressive national values against the threat of Islam.

Thus the DPP video’s message is couched in the pseudo-liberal language of support for “equal rights” and the “welfare state”. Along with “freedom of speech” and “democracy”, the video states that “tolerance” is a core value of the Danish nation, illustrating this with a picture of black and white children at school — which is rather at odds with the DPP’s long record of opposition to Denmark becoming a multiethnic society. In a shift from its traditional anti-immigrant rhetoric, the DPP even claims to “welcome people from other countries”, including asylum seekers (“I give a home to those who are persecuted and seeking freedom”).

At 2:09 however the tone suddenly changes. “BUT I am a country that will challenge cultures that want to change what I have been fighting for”, we are told, with a picture of a veiled Muslim woman used to indicate the culture that is being referred to. “I will not back down in the face of violence and terror”, the voiceover continues, across photos of the 9/11 attacks and terrorist bombings in London and Spain. “I am not a country that will be forced to accept medieval traditions” the video asserts, illustrating this with another photo of women wearing the niqab. As a picture of Muslims at prayer appears on screen, the video moves to its conclusion: “I am a country that has the courage to say STOP. I am a country that will stand guard to protect my own culture. Because I am Denmark.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Italy: Lega Nord Against Monti and Breaks Ties With Berlusconi PDL

(AGI)Rome-Lega Nord refuses to support Mario Monti’s government the right wing party’s general secretary Roberto Calderoli stated. According to Calderoli Lega Nord has given a definite “no thank you” to hypotheses of a government marked by large-scale compromises with Monti, an idea backed by PdL (People of Freedom) member Guido Crosetto today. “This tecnocratic government has revealed itself to be a political government and we say no to governments that weren’t elected by the people, the only ones who can make that decision,” said Calderoli. The former minister then added: “the alliance with Berlusconi’s PdL party is over and it certainly isn’t our fault; we’ll see how they behave in the Chamber in future.” .

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

Italy Fourth in World for Life Science Publications

(AGI) Rome — Italy is fourth in Europe and the world in terms of the number of major life science publications. This was revealed in the report ‘The economic value of life sciences’, the first Italian econometric study carried out by the IMT Advanced Studies research group in Lucca, coordinated by director Fabio Pammolli. The full report was presented at the Bioeconomy Rome meeting, an international conference taking place 28-29 November at the MAXXI Museum in Rome organised by the CNCCS Consortium (National Collection of Chemical Compounds and Screening Centres), consisting of CNR, Istituto Superiore di Sanita (Institute of Public Health) and the IRBM Science Park. The figures reveal that Italy produces about 6% of worldwide publications in life sciences, especially in the medical area, placing it fourth after the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany. However, Italy drops to fifth place, easily surpassed by France, if we consider the figures for European patents and inventors located in Italy, which produces about 3% of European patents in the life sciences.

“These findings also highlight the quality of biomedical research and follow a trend documented by bibliometric indicators of international health,” said Enrico Garaci chairman of the Istituto Superiore di Sanita. However, he emphasised a serious weakness in the system transfer of knowledge. In other words Italy doesn’t manage, unlike other economies, to transform the knowledge gained into health benefits for patients. Nevertheless, the link between research and transfer of its results is a driving force for the economy and especially for public health.” .

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

Sweden: Man Stabbed at Indoor Football Tournament

The World Deaf Futsal Championship was marred by a stabbing incident at the closing ceremony of the indoor football tournament in Örebro on Saturday. The tournament itself had actually finished when the incident occurred during the prize-giving ceremony.

Shortly after the players from Iran had been given their gold medals, there was a commotion among the crowd in the corridor of the sports hall in Örebro and emergency services were rushed to the scene. There they found a man apparently aged around 35-40, who had been stabbed in the throat.

“Staff members were standing and cleaning up when something happened in a corridor. What I know is that the police and an ambulance came after someone was stabbed in the throat,” tournament director Leif Iron Kvist told Sportbladet newspaper. Details are still sketchy but it appears that the injured man was a supporter of the Iran team. The police questioned everybody at the scene but at this stage, according to organisers, nobody has been apprehended for the attack.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Birmingham: Faith Map Website Launched

Looking for a place of worship in Birmingham? The Birmingham Faith Map, a unique website, will guide you to every church, chapel, mosque, temple, synagogue,and other religious meeting place in the city. The site was launched during Interfaith Week, at Birmingham Anglican Cathedral, by Birmingham City Councillor Alan Rudge, Cabinet Member for Equalities and Human Resources. The launch, hosted by the Dean of Birmingham, the Very Reverend Catherine Ogle, was attended by members of the Birmingham Faith Leaders Group, and the Faith Round Table. Archbishop Bernard Longley had been summoned to Rome for ecumenical meetings but Canon Gerry Breen, Dean of the Metropolitan Cathedral & Basilica of St Chad, was present together with Fr Timothy Menezes, the Vicar General.

The Birmingham Faith Map was developed by Councillor Alan Rudge working in conjunction with members of his Faith Round Table. Successful consultation took place during 2010 and 2011 across Birmingham’s 10 constituencies. More than 660 places of worship and gathering were contacted and invited to support the Birmingham Faith Map project. During his address Councillor Rudge explained: “The Faith Round Table is a bridge between Birmingham City Council and the diverse communities it serves, and continues to foster good relationships between different faiths, which are the key to good community cohesion.”

Councillor Rudge emphasised that the Birmingham Faith Map website would: “Build bridges of communication between different faith communities; help people who are new to Birmingham find a local place of worship; open and maintain communication links between Birmingham City Council and places of worship in Birmingham; and support inter-faith activity and initiatives.” Councillor Rudge said that he valued and recognised the important role that faith communities play within Birmingham: “They are at the heart of the city and help to support the on-going cohesion and integration between communities.”

Councillor Rudge added: “The homepage provides information explaining the purpose of the Faith Map. From this page, users have a wide range of options to access information: search by postcode, by faith, and by constituency/ward. The Birmingham Faith Map uses Google Maps. “Unlike a static document the Birmingham Faith Map can be updated with the latest information and augmented with films and interactive sites if required. Feedback, questions and suggestions are most welcome” Councillor Alan Rudge concluded: “The Birmingham Faith Map places Birmingham City Council at the forefront of innovation and creativity to assist effective community engagement and involvement.” The Right Reverend David Urquhart, the Anglican Bishop of Birmingham gave a short address during which he said: “People of faith make a distinctive contribution to a harmonious society.” Bishop Urquhart then led a time of prayer, as is usual each day at noon in Birmingham Cathedral.

To visit the site see:

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Islamic New Year: A Reminder for Solemn Reflection, Spiritual Renewal and Positive Action

Throughout the world today, Muslims welcome the year 1433 in the Islamic Calendar of Hijrah. The new year begins with the first day of the month of Muharram. Both the concept of Hijrah (migration) and the many significant events commemorated in the month of Muharram provide the vision, inspiration and an opportunity for solemn reflection and renewal of spirits. Traditionally Muslims do not hold a celebration at the beginning of the Islamic new year. Instead, this is a time to commemorate the immense sacrifice and contribution of those who dedicated their lives in the service of the Creator. As we enter the new Hijrah year, we would like to take this opportunity to remember a few powerful examples from the history of Islam: of sacrifice in striving for truth, freedom from oppression and serving the humanity. These important lessons are derived from the great migration of our beloved Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, and indeed the migration of earlier Prophets such as Ibrahim (Abraham) and Musa (Moses). The sacred month of Muharram is filled with many significant events, particularly the 10th of Muharram which is commonly known as Ashura. According to our traditions it is the day when Prophet Musa was saved from the Pharaoh. Ashura is however commemorated for the tragic massacre at Karbala, in Iraq in 61 A.H. of Imam Husain, his family and supporters. They sacrificed their lives in order to uphold the Prophet’s message of truth, freedom and justice. Muslim communities in Britain as well as in Europe can take much inspiration from all these historical events and commit themselves to renew their unity, full engagement with the wider society and commitment to work for the common good of all.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Lib Dems Rebranding to Boost Party’s Popularity

The Liberal Democrats are to “rebrand” their party in an effort to be perceived in the same way as Oxfam, the Third World Charity, it has emerged.

Documents detailing the plan demand more “short-term political expediency” to boost the party’s popularity — and say it should take more credit for historic reforms such as the abolition of slavery. The project comes as Nick Clegg’s party is slumping in the opinion polls. A YouGov survey today puts it on just 11 per cent — way behind Labour on 43 per cent and the Conservatives on 34 per cent. Last week, Liberal Democrat MPs were summoned to a meeting to be told that “external brand experts” had been hired to try to boost the party’s standing with the next general election still more than three years away. In a further internal move, Mr Clegg has recruited a party donor and millionaire accountant, Neil Sherlock, to run his Cabinet Office team with the title of director of government relations. The rebranding exercise was originally revealed by The Sunday Telegraph earlier this year — with some predicting at the time it could even include changing the name and logo.

Party chiefs were concerned that the Lib Dem identity was being lost because of the coalition with the Conservatives. However, the latest advice from outside experts is that MPs should rely on “short-term themes, straplines and soundbites” to put forward their political philosophy in a succinct way. The experts used the example of Oxfam as a body which put forward a clear vision — to end world poverty and suffering. MPs should also, they were told, claim more credit for “Liberal” achievements of the past such as the abolition of slavery — even though the leading abolitionist, William Wilberforce, was an independent MP. A Lib Dem spokesman said: “There is no question of panic. This is work that his been going on for some months. There is a general recognition that we need to work harder to get our message across.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Many Tax Dodgers in London’s Exclusive Block of Flats

(AGI) London — Hyde Park One, a luxurious block of flats for the super-rich in London has several tax dodgers among its owners. According to newspaper The Observer, only nine of the owners of the 60 flats so far sold regularly pay the Council Tax which amounts to 1,375 pounds a year, and four others pay half that sum because their flats are registered as a second house. A penthouse in Hyde Park One was recently sold for 136 million pounds.

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

UK: Milestone as Muslims Put in Plans for New City Mosque

Plans have been submitted for Cambridge’s new mosque — as the project’s fundraising total hits £4.5 million. The three-storey building on the site of the former Robert Sayle warehouse in Mill Road will eventually cost £13 million and community leaders believe more cash will flow in if development consent is granted. A consultation is now under way on the environmentally friendly designs, which include a prayer hall with capacity for about 1,000 people and a dome. Other facilities include a café, teaching area, library, mortuary, and two homes.

Sarah Elgazzar, a spokeswoman for Cambridge Muslim Academic Trust, said the submission of plans was a major milestone in the project. She told the News: “The community has been doing a lot of work for the last four years, preparing the plans and trying to get them right first time, so there has been a lot of research and meetings with the community, both the Muslim community and outside, about what people would like to see in that area of Mill Road. “In the past few years it hasn’t looked very nice and we want to bring some life back to it. For us to hand the plans in finally is quite a big landmark and everyone is very excited.”

The Muslim community’s existing home in Mawson Road is far too small. Plans for the new, bigger one have been drawn up by Marks Barfield, designers of the London Eye. It is hoped the building will generate much of its own energy and facilities would be available for the wider community to use. Ms Elgazzar said she thought the designs “very impressive”.

She said: “It is a very delicate balance, trying to stay in keeping with the Victorian setting of Mill Road, to have a mosque that enhances that area, and to have something that’s not foreign to Muslims.” The community hopes to complete the project, which includes an underground car park with 80 spaces, in the next five years. A city council consultation runs until December 14.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Transport Police Make Arrest After Tram Passenger ‘Hurls Vile Abuse at Onlookers in Racist Rant as Toddler Perches on Her Knee’

Police have tonight arrested a woman after a passenger allegedly burst into a vile racist rant on a tram while holding a child on her knee.

The video, posted on YouTube, shows a woman hurling abuse at other passengers on the south London tram and baiting them with foul xenophobic insults.

Tonight a 34-year-old woman from New Addington has been arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence and is being questioned by police.

Warning: Extremely Graphic Content

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The arrest follows an appeal by the British Transport officers who asked the media to publicise the video to help identify her.

The footage appears to have been discreetly captured by a passenger as the tram travelled from Croydon to Wimbledon.

Throughout the shocking two minutes of footage the woman’s little boy sits nervously as his mother begins the heated confrontation.

At one point the woman demands other passengers go back to their own country, saying they’re not British because they are black.

Horrified onlookers appear to be uncertain whether the women is drunk while she is making the comments.

The woman says: ‘None of you are f**king English. Get back to your own country. Sort your own countries, don’t come and do mine.

‘It’s nothing now. Britain is nothing now. Britain is f** all. My Britain is f*** all.’

At one point she claims passengers in the carriage are ‘f***ing burnt people.’

Already 10,000 members of the public have watched the film, after it was posted on Youtube, on Sunday, by LadyK89.

Comments by one viewer called The Specialscrew, read: ‘As a white British male, I feel disgusted to even be associated with this woman by my race and nationality.’…

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt Heads to the Polls: The Muslim Brotherhood Prepares for Power

It seems clear that the Islamist group Muslim Brotherhood will emerge from the current elections in Egypt with significant power. But what does the group intend to do with it? Brotherhood leaders are keeping their cards close to their chests — but many of their supporters are hoping for the Sharia.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Netanyahu: We’re Trying to Stabilise Peace Accords

‘Islamic wave flooding the Arab World, not good for us’

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, NOVEMBER 28 — Israel is making an effort to stabilise its peace agreements with Egypt: so said today Benyamin Netanyahu in a speech to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. “We hope to stabilise our peace agreements with Egypt and are working with the United States on the matter,” the Premier told the present MPs. In his speech, Netanyahu voiced Israel’s fears over the recent political developments in the region. “An Islamist wave is flooding the Arab world”, he said, “after decades of stable government. There are those who call it the Arab Spring. We face an unstable reality. We cannot estimate how long it will take until the situation stabilises. We have to act responsibly and carefully.” “The Islamist wave is not good for us”, the Prime Minister continued. “The stability we have known will change in the coming years due to the US’ withdrawal from Iraq and Libya’s weapons cache. All this will have repercussions on our security.” In this uncertain situation, Israel, Netanyahu concluded, is trying to stabilise at least its peace agreements with Egypt.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Those Who Support Democracy Must Welcome the Rise of Political Islam

From Tunisia to Egypt, Islamists are gaining the popular vote. Far from threatening stability, this makes it a real possibility

Ennahda, the Islamic party in Tunisia, won 41% of the seats of the Tunisian constitutional assembly last month, causing consternation in the west. But Ennahda will not be an exception on the Arab scene. Last Friday the Islamic Justice and Development Party took the biggest share of the vote in Morocco and will lead the new coalition government for the first time in history. And tomorrow Egypt’s elections begin, with the Muslim Brotherhood predicted to become the largest party. There may be more to come. Should free and fair elections be held in Yemen, once the regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh falls, the Yemeni Congregation for Reform, also Islamic, will win by a significant majority. This pattern will repeat itself whenever the democratic process takes its course.

In the west, this phenomenon has led to a debate about the “problem” of the rise of political Islam. In the Arab world, too, there has been mounting tension between Islamists and secularists, who feel anxious about Islamic groups. Many voices warn that the Arab spring will lead to an Islamic winter, and that the Islamists, though claiming to support democracy, will soon turn against it. In the west, stereotypical images that took root in the aftermath of 9/11 have come to the fore again. In the Arab world, a secular anti-democracy camp has emerged in both Tunisia and Egypt whose pretext for opposing democratisation is that the Islamists are likely to be the victors. But the uproar that has accompanied the Islamists’ gains is unhelpful; a calm and well-informed debate about the rise of political Islam is long overdue.

First, we must define our terms. “Islamist” is used in the Muslim world to describe Muslims who participate in the public sphere, using Islam as a basis. It is understood that this participation is not at odds with democracy. In the west, however, the term routinely describes those who use violence as a means and an end — thus Jihadist Salafism, exemplified by al-Qaida, is called “Islamist” in the west, despite the fact that it rejects democratic political participation (Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaida, criticised Hamas when it decided to take part in the elections for the Palestinian legislative council, and has repeatedly criticised the Muslim Brotherhood for opposing the use of violence). This disconnect in the understanding of the term in the west and in the Muslim world was often exploited by despotic Arab regimes to suppress Islamic movements with democratic political programmes. It is time we were clear.Reform-based Islamic movements, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, work within the political process. They learned a bitter lesson from their armed conflict in Syria against the regime of Hafez al-Assad in 1982, which cost the lives of more than 20,000 people and led to the incarceration or banishment of many thousands more. The Syrian experience convinced mainstream Islamic movements to avoid armed struggle and to observe “strategic patience” instead.

Second, we must understand the history of the region. In western discourse Islamists are seen as newcomers to politics, gullible zealots who are motivated by a radical ideology and lack experience. In fact, they have played a major role in the Arab political scene since the 1920s. Islamic movements have often been in opposition, but since the 1940s they have participated in parliamentary elections, entered alliances with secular, nationalist and socialist groups, and participated in several governments — in Sudan, Jordan, Yemen and Algeria. They have also forged alliances with non-Islamic regimes, like the Nimeiri regime in Sudan in 1977. A number of other events have had an impact on the collective Muslim mind, and have led to the maturation of political Islam: the much-debated Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979; the military coup in Sudan in 1989; the success of the Algerian Islamic Salvation Front in the 1991 elections and the army’s subsequent denial of its right to govern; the conquest of much of Afghan territory by the Taliban in 1996 leading to the establishment of its Islamic emirate; and the success in 2006 of Hamas in the Palestinian Legislative Council elections. The Hamas win was not recognised, nor was the national unity government formed. Instead, a siege was imposed on Gaza to suffocate the movement.

Perhaps one of the most influential experiences has been that of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey, which won the elections in 2002. It has been a source of inspiration for many Islamic movements. Although the AKP does not describe itself as Islamic, its 10 years of political experience have led to a model that many Islamists regard as successful. The model has three important characteristics: a general Islamic frame of reference; a multi-party democracy; and significant economic growth. These varied political experiences have had a profound impact on political Islam’s flexibility and capacity for political action, and on its philosophy, too.

However, political Islam has also faced enormous pressures from dictatorial Arab regimes, pressures that became more intense after 9/11. Islamic institutions were suppressed. Islamic activists were imprisoned, tortured and killed. Such experiences gave rise to a profound bitterness. Given the history, it is only natural that we should hear overzealous slogans or intolerant threats from some activists. Some of those now at the forefront of election campaigns were only recently released from prison. It would not be fair to expect them to use the voice of professional diplomats. Despite this, the Islamic political discourse has generally been balanced. The Tunisian Islamic movement has set a good example. Although Ennahda suffered under Ben Ali’s regime, its leaders developed a tolerant discourse and managed to open up to moderate secular and leftist political groups. The movement’s leaders have reassured Tunisian citizens that it will not interfere in their personal lives and that it will respect their right to choose. The movement also presented a progressive model of women’s participation, with 42 female Ennahda members in the constitutional assembly. The Islamic movement’s approach to the west has also been balanced, despite the fact that western countries supported despotic Arab regimes. Islamists know the importance of international communication in an economically and politically interconnected world.

Now there is a unique opportunity for the west: to demonstrate that it will no longer support despotic regimes by supporting instead the democratic process in the Arab world, by refusing to intervene in favour of one party against another and by accepting the results of the democratic process, even when it is not the result they would have chosen. Democracy is the only option for bringing stability, security and tolerance to the region, and it is the dearest thing to the hearts of Arabs, who will not forgive any attempts to derail it.

The region has suffered a lot as a result of attempts to exclude Islamists and deny them a role in the public sphere. Undoubtedly, Islamists’ participation in governance will give rise to a number of challenges, both within the Islamic ranks and with regard to relations with other local and international forces. Islamists should be careful not to fall into the trap of feeling overconfident: they must accommodate other trends, even if it means making painful concessions. Our societies need political consensus, and the participation of all political groups, regardless of their electoral weight. It is this interplay between Islamists and others that will both guarantee the maturation of the Arab democratic transition and lead to an Arab political consensus and stability that has been missing for decades.

[JP note: Music to the ears of the British Foreign Office as well as editors at the BBC, the Times, The Guardian and so on. The chickens will come home to roost at some point.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Turkey: El Dorado of Project Financing Worth 250 Billion Euros

(ANSAmed) — ISTANBUL — In the coming decades almost 250 billion euros will be spent, mainly in healthcare, energy and infrastructure. This emerged from the sixth “Unicredit infrastructure finance conference” that was held last Friday in Istanbul, of which the organisation has sent a summary to ANSAmed. Turkey, despite slowing down somewhat in the most recent quarters, is growing at Chinese rates. “We expect Turkey to launch projects for a total value of 225-250 billion euros in the coming ten years, requiring financing,” said Kaan Basaran, managing director of Menkul Degerler, UniCredit’s investment bank in Turkey, pointing out investment oppourtunities despite the fact that banks are cutting their long-term credit due to the difficult global economy. During the conference it became clear that the world of project financing is focusing on Turkey’s announced modernisation of its health structures to expand and improve the country’s services in this sector. Four pilot projects have already been launched, for which tenders have been presented.

Several projects will be carried out in the energy and infrastructure sectors as well “in the near future”, as was underlined in Istanbul: one of the most important projects is the construction of the motorway between Gebze and Izmir, worth USD 9.5 billion with Unicredit as coordinating bank. The Italian banking group is also single financer for the construction, management and maintenance of the “Zafer” airport in Afyonkarahisar (until recently called Afyon, in the west of Turkey), which includes a terminal with a capacity of two million passengers. Another factor in the sharp rise in investment opportunities in Turkey is the privatisation programme that was issued in the country in 2005 by the government of Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which turns out to be a “catalyst”, as the summary stresses, for Turkey’s investment banking sector. In the past five years, Unicredit was active in nearly all infrastructure sectors in Turkey as main financing bank and as financial advisor.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UAE: NMC to Host 100 Journalists From 43 Countries on National Day

ABU DHABI — Hundred journalists from 43 countries will converge in the UAE upon invitation from National Media Council (NMC) from Monday to meet the high ranking officials and ministers, and cover the UAE landmarks and achievements, on the occasion of the 40th National Day. The move follows the directives by Shaikh Hamdan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Public Works and Chairman of the NMC. The NMC will organise the visit of media delegations to the Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi and Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The General Women’s Union will host the media delegation at the Heritage Village at the union’s office in Abu Dhabi, where they will attend a folklore ceremony, which will feature the UAE’s cultural identity.

The guests’ meetings with the senior officials will give them the first hand information about the UAE’s achievements over the last four decades and future comprehensive development plans in line with the sustainable development programmes in the UAE. Meanwhile, the External Media Department at the NMC will provide the journalists with the media reports, photos and CDs about the UAE’s achievements to help them cover the National Day celebrations. The delegation will continue in the UAE till the National Day.

The department had provided the UAE embassies abroad with special reports on the UAE’s achievements in Arabic and English languages, to update the media institutions worldwide about the successes attained by the UAE in comprehensive development, human resources development and the political and economic empowerment. Emirates News Agency (WAM) is publishing daily reports in Arabic, English and French, highlighting the major achievements in 40 years, with especial coverage on the political, economic, cultural, sports, social, women, foreign and humanitarian aid achievements, and the UAE’s efforts in the area of renewable and nuclear energy, satellites, as well as tourism, travel and aviation industry.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Islam and Comedy: Two Mullahs Went Into a Bar

Islam has more laughs than outsiders might think

IT IS Friday night at the O2 arena in London and the crowd is hearing a confession from Preacher Moss, a black American convert to Islam: “I’m not going to lie about the things I did before I became a Muslim,” he tells the audience. “Like have fun.” Amid appreciative guffaws he continues in the same vein. When he gave up boozing and womanising, he confides, his mother thought he was gay. Comedians like Mr Moss have a difficult job. Islam and humour seem an unlikely combination. Unflattering cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad have led to death threats, riots, and most recently the firebombing this month of a satirical French weekly after it published an issue featuring Islam’s founder as “guest editor” with the promise: “100 lashes if you don’t die of laughter!” To many, that chimes all too well with Ayatollah Khomeini’s apocryphal statement that “there are no jokes in Islam”. Even the most daring Islamic comedians rarely if ever joke about the faith itself. Some countries ban jokes about religious leaders.

Yet Muslim comedians are thriving. Mr Moss, with two other devout American Muslims, has a stand-up comedy act called “Allah Made Me Funny”. Britain’s Shazia Mirza has a strong following too. And though stand-up comedy may be a Western genre, Islam has a rich tradition of humour. The Hadith, Muslims’ second-most-sacred text, details every joke Muhammad ever made, such as: “Why are there no old women in heaven? Because they become young girls when they get there.” (Nothing comparable exists in Christian holy texts.) Arabic, Persian and Turkish literature feature a Sufi sage, known as Juha or Mullah Nasreddin, notable for buffoonery, wit and wisdom. Western Islamic comics such as Mr Moss have been well received in the Muslim world, and a local stand-up comedy scene is emerging there too. At the Amman Stand-Up Comedy Festival, held each year in Jordan since 2008, many routines are in Arabic. (One skit is about a Muslim vampire who fears pork instead of crucifixes.) Clips on YouTube featuring a Saudi comedian, Fahad Albutairi, gain over 1m hits. With two other Saudis, he took part in Yemen’s first-ever stand-up comedy show in March last year. Two Indonesian television channels have launched stand-up comedy programmes and a Comedy Café in Jakarta gives aspiring comics a live audience.

Muslim comedians do not just ridicule their fellow citizens’ foibles. Satire bubbles up in even the most repressive regimes. Syrian television dramas have long lampooned the security forces, joking about corruption and restrictions on free speech. The residents of Homs, the country’s third city, are traditionally the butt of jokes (How do you keep a Homsi busy all day? Put him in a round room and tell him to sit in the corner). Now Homsis are playing on their reputation for buffoonery to make spoof videos ridiculing the crackdown. One shows men shooting aubergines ineffectively out of metal pipes, lampooning the regime’s claim that the city’s peaceful protesters were using weapons against Syria’s security forces.

Since September 11th 2001, terrorism and the West’s reaction to it have provided rich pickings for Muslim comics. Gags about Osama bin Laden and jihad abound. But comedians also feel a sense of urgency. Mohammed Amer, part of Mr Moss’s trio, says Muslims have made a “terrible job” of communicating with the outside world. Humour, rather than earnest diatribes on the peaceful nature of Islam, is the best way of defusing suspicion, he says. But at Allah Made Me Funny’s show in London only a few atheists and a lone Jew identified themselves in response to a good-humoured request from the stage. The vast majority of the audience were Muslims. Outsiders will not get the joke if they are not there to hear it.

Correction: This article originally suggested that Omid Djalili is a Muslim comedian. In fact Mr Djalili is a member of the Baha’i faith. This has been corrected online. Sorry.

[JP note: Great punchline. Islam might be laughing but it would be folly to join in when the joke is on us.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Russia’s Oligarchs Act Quietly in the Background

The number of billionaires is on the rise in Russia. But gone are the times when oligarchs wielded considerable influence in the country’s politics. The Khodorkovsky case has left its mark on Russia’s rich.

Ever heard of Vladimir Lisin? He’s known as Russia’s richest man; US magazine Forbes has estimated his wealth at $24 billion (18 billion euros). But the 55-year-old head of steel giant NLMK is unlikely to be recognized in the street, neither at home nor abroad. Lisin shuns the media and prefers to act in the background. Like most Russian oligarchs today, he seems to have very little political ambition.

There is, however, one exception: Mikhail Prokhorov. With $18 billion in the bank, he is number three on Forbes’ list of the richest Russians. In the summer, he caused controversy when he joined the liberal-conservative party Right Cause as leader, so he could take part in the December election. By mid-September, he had resigned after an internal dispute and called the party a “puppet” of the Kremlin. He has since disappeared from the political stage.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Editorials in Pakistani Dailies Voice Concern Over Persecution of Hindus in Pakistan

On November 7, 2011, the first day of the Eid al-Adha celebrations in Pakistan, three doctors belonging to the minority Hindu community were shot dead in Pakistan’s Shikarpur town following a dispute over a Muslim dancing girl. According to Ramesh Kumar, the chief of Pakistan Hindu Council, the dispute erupted after local Hindu boys brought a Muslim dancing girl to the area.

Following complaints from local Muslims, policemen raided the house where the Muslim girl had been dancing and arrested four Hindu boys. Later, elders from the two communities agreed to resolve the dispute after the three-day Eid al-Adha celebrations, but before the matter could be resolved, armed men shot dead the three doctors. The Hindu community has held protests in the Sindh province.

The Hindu doctors’ killing has highlighted the growing persecution of Hindu minority in Pakistani society, especially by Islamic extremists. Hindus constitute only about two percent of the population in the predominantly Islamic nation of Pakistan. In September 2011, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), a non-governmental organization, warned against the continuing persecution of Hindus and expressed concern over kidnappings of Hindus for ransom and their forced conversion to Islam.

Tahir Hussain and Zahoor Shahwani of the HRCP told journalists that the situation is serious in Baluchistan province, where dozens of Hindus were kidnapped in recent years for ransom. “Many Hindus have now stopped sending their children to school because of a lack of security. Traders, doctors and retailers are being kidnapped or threatened [in Baluchistan],” stated a Pakistani media report.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany Calls for Talks With Taliban

The German government has called for the Taliban to be included in direct peace talks, ahead of the major international Afghanistan conference hosted by Germany in early December.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

India: SJC Seeks Muslims to Start Living Like a Vibrant Community

New Delhi: Amidst clapping of hands by thousands of delegates from almost all the states in the country the chairman of the Popular Front of India Mr. E M Abdul Rahman hoisted the organizational flag at 9:30 am to herald the opening of the two-day Social Justice Conference (SJC), here at Ramlila Maidan on Saturday. The conference, the first of its kind, at the Ramlila Maidan, aimed at promoting the cause of social justice and to motivate the masses for playing a pro-active role in nation building, based on the constitutional foundations of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity. In the morning session, the Milli Convention with the theme, “Together for Empowerment: Dialogue with Future” was inaugurated by Dr. Mufti Muhammad Mukarram Ahmad, the Shahi Imam of Shahi Masjid Fatehpuri, Delhi. “Despite the constitutional pledge of equal justice to all, the minorities and backward sections including Muslims are practically denied these constitutional rights”, he said in his inaugural speech. Father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi had desired to see Khalifa Omar Farooq’s just and equitable administration to be followed in the independent India, he recalled.

Dr. Mukarram exhorted Muslims to live a life like a vibrant community. He said: “Musalmano Aik Zinda Qaum Ki Tarah Jeena Seekho. Hum jail Aur Dande Se Nahin Darte”.

K M Shareef, General Secretary of Popular Front, in his presidential address, pointed out that the mainstream political parties are treating Muslims only as a vote bank and nobody is interested in addressing their problems and issues. “Jo Bhi Hukumatein Aaini Lekin Dustoor Hind Ko Sahi Tareeque Se Lagoo Nahin Kiya Taake minorities and especially Muslims Aur Dalits Ka Sahi ManoN Mein Bhala Hosake”, he remarked. A Sayeed, General Secretary of SDPI presenting his paper entitled: “The Muslim as an Indian Citizen“ pointed out that Muslims, who have enriched the Indian culture and strengthened the administration in the past, are now meted out with discrimination, and even their basic fundamental rights are being denied to them. Instead of blaming others for the present condition, it is the duty and responsibility of the Muslims themselves to understand their role in the Indian polity and to come to the forefront.


[JP note: Less vibrancy more humanity would be preferable.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

The War on Terrorism or a Global Crusade Against Islam

When people and nations live in darkness, they lose sense of direction. In an information age, knowledge-driven global culture of reason, ignorance is no longer a requisite to learn from the living history. The previous Empires knew their geography and limits, but the newly articulated American Empire in its infancy, is challenging the limits of the Laws of God and appears obsessed with “fear” of being replaced by the new emerging nations of Asia (China-India) and South America. Former president Bush invoked the “War on Terrorism”, as a dictum of power, not of reason and wisdom, to camouflage the prospective future with acts of barbarity and to dispel the notion of accountability in global affairs. If history is to be believed, people and nations pursuing this path of policy behavior have caused massive deaths and destructions to the mankind and indeed ended up in self-defeat and self-destruction.

The 9/11 attacks in the US and Islamic faith have nothing in common. To date, the US Government has not spelled out who were the people responsible for these acts of violence and barbarity. Politics of convenience overrides reason and facts of human life. Some hourly paid intellectuals turned guardian of approved truth, allege that Islam breeds terrorism.

The Western mass media complements the theoretically convenient notion to poison the public perceptions and source of judgments against the Arabs and Muslims. The corporate controlled news media is the creative weapon of the Western powers and sadistic political warmongers. The Neo-Conservatives helped to rob the humanity of its human heritage. The perception of ‘radical Islam’ was manufactured and enhanced by the ‘fear’ of terrorism as if Arabs and Muslims were born in the eye of the storm and terrorism was an exclusive domain of the Islamic religious tenets.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Why Did NATO Attack Pakistan?

The Nato assault on a Pakistani checkpoint close to the Afghan border which killed 24 soldiers on Saturday must have been deliberate. Nato commanders have long been supplied with maps marking these checkpoints by the Pakistani military. They knew that the target was a military outpost. The explanation that they were fired on first rings false and has been ferociously denied by Islamabad. Previous such attacks were pronounced ‘accidental’ and apologies were given and accepted. This time it seems more serious. It has come too soon after other ‘breaches of sovereignty’, in the words of the local press, but Pakistani sovereignty is a fiction. The military high command and the country’s political leaders willingly surrendered their sovereignty many decades ago. That it is now being violated openly and brutally is the real cause for concern.

In retaliation, Pakistan has halted Nato convoys to Afghanistan (49 per cent of which go through the country) and asked the US to vacate the Shamsi base that they built to launch drones against targets in both Afghanistan and Pakistan with the permission of the country’s rulers. Islamabad was allowed a legal fig-leaf: in official documents the base was officially leased by the UAE — whose ‘sovereignty’ is even more flexible than Pakistan’s.Motives for the attack remain a mystery but its impact is not. It will create further divisions within the military, further weaken the venal Zardari regime, strengthen religious militants and make the US even more hated than it already is in Pakistan. So why do it? Was it intended as a provocation? Is Obama seriously thinking of unleashing a civil war in an already battered country? Some commentators in Islamabad are arguing this but it’s unlikely that Nato troops will occupy Pakistan. Such an irrational turn would be difficult to justify in terms of any imperial interests. Perhaps it was simply a tit-for-tat to punish the Pakistani military for dispatching the Haqqani network to bomb the US embassy and Nato HQ in Kabul’s ‘Green Zone’ a few months back.

The Nato attack comes on the heels of another crisis. One of Zardari and his late wife’s trusted bagmen in Washington, Husain Haqqani, whose links to the US intelligence agencies since the 1970s made him a useful intermediary and whom Zardari appointed as Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington, has been forced to resign. Haqqani, often referred to as the US ambassador to Pakistan, appears to have been caught red-handed: he allegedly asked Mansoor Ijaz, a multi-millionaire close to the US defence establishment, to carry a message to Admiral Mike Mullen pleading for help against the Pakistani military and offering in return to disband the Haqqani network and the ISI and carry out all US instructions.

Mullen denied that he had received any message. A military underling contradicted him. Mullen changed his story and said a message had been received and ignored. When the ISI discovered this ‘act of treachery’, Haqqani, instead of saying that he was acting under orders from Zardari, denied the entire story. Unfortunately for him, the ISI boss, General Pasha, had met up with Ijaz and been given the Blackberry with the messages and instructions. Haqqani had no option but to resign. Demands for his trial and hanging (the two often go together when the military is involved) are proliferating. Zardari is standing by his man. The military wants his head. And now Nato has entered the fray. This story is not yet over.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Far East

Censors Keep a Beady Eye on China’s ‘Tweets’

Sina Weibo is a Chinese cross between Twitter and Facebook. The microblogging site already has 250 million users and it wants to double this number by 2013. The censor keeps a beady eye on the 80 million daily posts.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

We Are Unknowingly Being Converted to Islam, Says Cowan MP Luke Simpkins

BY eating snags from the supermarket on the barbecue this summer, you are unknowingly being converted to Islam, according to Federal MP Luke Simpkins.

In a speech to Federal Parliament yesterday, Mr Simpkins accused meat producers, including Harvey Beef, Inghams and Steggles of “deceiving” West Australians by not labelling their products as Halal food, reported. “So when you go to Coles, Woolworths or IGA, or other supermarkets, you cannot then purchase the meat for your Aussie BBQ without the influence of this minority religion,” he said. “By having Australians unwittingly eating Halal food, then we are all one step down the path of conversion, and that is a step we should only make with full knowledge and not be imposed upon us unknowingly.” Harvey Beef was contacted by and declined to comment.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

China Builds Its African Empire While the ‘Anti-Colonialist’ Left Looks the Other Way

If the United States embarked on this sort of colonial experiment, it would produce a furious “Occupy Grosvenor Square” camp outside the US embassy and a withering play by Sir David Hare at the National. But since these things are actually being done not by America but by the People’s Republic of China across the entire African continent, the “anti-colonialist” Left just yawns.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Gambia: State House Imam Fatty Says He Was Born in Casamance in Senegal

The imam of State House Mosque, Alhaji Abdoulie Fatty, has said that he has no qualms about supporting President Jammeh and brushed off criticism that as a religious leader he should not dabble in party politics. “I have no regrets for declaring my support for Yahya Jammeh because he uses politics to do good things for people. He is different from other leaders who use politics to say lies and do bad things. Even God is a politician because He governs people and established structures for them to practise goodness and live fulfilling lives. Politics and religion are compatible in the daily conduct of human affairs.The problem is that people have a misconception about politics. Politics is different from lies and corruption in either English or the Arabic languages. Politics means managing the affairs of people to do good things. It is a noble vocation,” the Saudi trained cleric asserted.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Threat of Piracy Reaches All Shores

At an anti-piracy conference in India, international stakeholders have called for a strategic consensus to boost maritime security as pirates off the coast of Somalia get bolder.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


France Welcomes Too ‘Many’ Foreigners

Interior Minister Guéant, wants to reduce their number

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, NOVEMBER 28 — Each year France welcomes too many foreigners. These include 200,000 legal ones, and their number should be reduced by 10% from 2012. The attitude of French Interior Minister, Claude Guéant, is hardening five months before the presidential elections of 2012. He includes all foreigners, whether or not they comply with the law.

They are also the target of the latest project to fight social security benefit fraud, that is, regarding family allowances and payments for medical care. Since January of next year, announced Guéant, lists of foreign residents in France will be regularly checked against those of the health authorities and the social security fund for families, in order to identify those who cheat and benefit from subsidies while living most of year in their country of origin, or for children who live outside France.

This is just the latest in a series of measures announced against foreigners and that mark deep differences with the electoral program of the Left. With regard to non-voting, today the Socialist candidate, Francois Hollande, noted that 19 of the 27 EU countries have already given foreign residents the vote. A poll published today reported that 61% of French people are also in favour. On 8 December, the Senate will examine a socialist bill to this effect. However, the Nicolas Sarkozy and the right are determined on this point. They reject giving the vote to non-EU citizens, even for the municipal election of mayors and in the cities, which as in some Parisian suburbs are populated mainly by foreigners. All this came just days after an announced reform of the asylum law to combat “false” claims (an increasing number just for economic reasons, according Guéant) and tighten the conditions for requesting it. Again Guéant in recent months wrote a circular limiting the number of professions open to graduate students in France. “By dint of uncontrolled immigration, the French sometimes have the feeling of no longer being at home,” said Guéant, raising the controversy, a few months ago.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Searches Continue After Migrant Boat Sinks, Killing Three

Around 30 people missing

(ANSA) — Rome, November 28 — Italian rescue teams continued to scour the area off the coast near Brindisi where they saved 43 people and found three others dead Sunday after a migrant boat sank.

Around 30 migrants are believed missing, the authorities said, although they may have managed to get safely to dry land and then fled to avoid the risk of being deported to their countries of origin.

The survivors are all young men or boys without documents who apparently come from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq.

Thousands of migrants have been killed this year trying to cross the Mediterranean from turmoil-hit Africa to Italy in overloaded, unsafe boats

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Steep Hike in Immigrant Unemployment

More than one third of people registered as unemployed come from outside Sweden, according to a new unofficial report revealed by Dagens Nyheter. The latest figures point to a considerable increase in the percentage of the unemployed born abroad, compared with six years ago. In January 2005, 22 percent of those out of work registered at the employment service were born outside Sweden. That figure has now reached 35 percent, according to Dagens Nyheter’s report.

In real terms, this means that of the 372,389 people registered as out of work at the employment service, 132,241 are foreign-born, marking a serious underlying trend and raising awkward questions about Sweden’s much publicised integration policies. In the Stockholm region meanwhile, the employment gap is even greater, at 24.5 percentage points between the 272, 000 people born in a non-Nordic country and the region’s 1,086,000 natives.

Hillevi Engström, Sweden’s employment minister is aware of the challenge. “We use the official figures from Statistics Sweden (Statistiska Centralbyrån, SCB) every month, but the gap between the native and foreign born unemployed is worrying and must be reduced,” she told DN.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Google Reins in Spending on Renewable Energy Technology

by James Burgess

Back in July Larry Page became Google’s new chief executive and immediately began a campaign to reign in Google’s projects and focus their resources. This was due to the stiff competition they were facing in mobile computing and social networking from Apple and Facebook, and also investor sentiment towards increasing expenditure on none core businesses.

One of the latest casualties of this “spring cleaning” was the big green initiative, RE<C (Renewable Energy cheaper than Coal), which was an ambitious idea to make renewable energy cost competitive with coal-fired power plants. The plan was to build cheaper and more efficient heliostats, mirrors that reflect the suns rays onto water-filled boilers in order to create steam and generate electricity in turbines.


[Return to headlines]

Pluto’s Moons Could Spell Danger for New Horizons Spacecraft

When NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft reaches Pluto in July 2015, it may find the region more hazardous than anticipated. The discovery of several moons around Pluto — and the potential for more — increase the risks during the probe’s flyby. The main problem is debris. The small moons are under constant bombardment from nearby space rocks called Kuiper Belt objects, but the moons’ low gravity prevents them from holding on to chunks of dirt and rock that fly into the air when hit. The debris instead finds itself caught in orbit around Pluto, where it could pose a serious threat to New Horizons.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Senior Al-Qaeda Operative: The World is on Brink of Anarchy; The Mujahideen Have a Chance to Fill the Vacuum and Establish the Caliphate

An article on a jihadi website, by a senior Al-Qaeda operative, states that the Arab countries, and the world at large, are about to slip into chaos, which gives the mujahideen an opportunity to take control.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Anonymous said...

A move is affot to label Anders Behring Breivik as a paranoid schizophrenic, thereby enabling Norway to dodge the bullet of a trial -- also enabling stigmatization of his motivation.