Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20111217

Financial Crisis
»Greece: Restaurant Sector Badly Hit
»Senate Votes to Extend Payroll Tax Cut for Two Months
»Stocking Up for Doomsday: As Economists Predict Meltdown, Meet the Families Ready for the Worst
»Christian Leaders Join Muslims in Lowe’s Protest
»Is Anti-Muslim Politics on the Rise in Florida?
»Jacksonville Mosque Bomb Scare Sparked by Unknown Package
»Please Sign 1Lt. Michael Behenna’s Petition for Clemency
»Sun Rips Tail From Comet During Solar Close Encounter
»The Madness Over All-American Muslim
»Waging a One-Man War on American Muslims
»Calgary Imam Apologizes for Holocaust Comparison
»Murder Victim Just Turned 17
Europe and the EU
»Anti-Kabila Protesters From DRC Clash With Brussels Police
»Austrian Teens Exposed as Xenophobic by Study
»Belgium: You Can Only Speak Dutch in Grimbergen
»Case of Anti-White Racism on Trial in France
»Europe’s Jews Need This Union
»France: Armenian Vote: Turkey Ready to Recall Ambassador
»If This is a Planet: Celestial Body Named for Author, Auschwitz Survivor Primo Levi
»Italy: House Arrest for Last 18 Months of Prison Sentences
»Netherlands: People From Brabant Lose Faith With Catholicism
»Netherlands: Cannabis Cafe Membership May be Delayed
»Norway Issues Pre-Christmas Reindeer Slaughter Threat
»Norwegians on Ola Tunander
»Spain: Police Accused of Rampant Racial Profiling
»UK: Cordoba Foundation Seminar ‘Behind Closed Doors’ At London Muslim Centre on Monday 19 December
»UK: Muslims and Christians Unite to Oppose Alcohol Licence. “It’s Not a Religious Issue, “ Says Welfare Director Toufic Kacimi
»UK: Sir Iqbal Sacranie
»UK: Scandal of How Councils Are Squandering £37,000 a Day on Interpreters
North Africa
»Egypt: Clashes Between the Army and Demonstrators Continue in Front of the Houses of Parliament
»Egypt Violence Resumes Near Parliament Building
»Italy’s Minister Welcomes Sanctions Lifted on Libyan Banks
»Italy Remains Libya’s Leading Trade Partner, Terzi Says
Israel and the Palestinians
»A Bridge Too Far for ‘Outraged’ of Hamas
Middle East
»Cyprus Pop Hits Halt Call to Prayer
»Iranian-Origin CIA Spy Arrested in Iran, ISNA Agency Says
»Qatar: Emir Opens Imam Abdul Wahhab Mosque in Doha
»The £7m Christmas Tree: Hotel Unveils Fir Draped in Diamonds (And No Prizes for Guessing It’s in the UAE)
»The Arab Spring in Jordan: King Compelled to Make Concessions to Protest Movement
South Asia
»Bangladesh: ‘I’Ve Got a Surprise for You’: Husband Blindfolds His Wife…. and Then Chops Off Her Fingers to Stop Her Studying for a Degree
»Bangladesh: Man Accused of Cutting Off Student Wife’s Fingers
»India: Muslims to Expose Congress Reservation Ploy
»Tajikistan: Dushanbe Mayor Demands Review of Local Imam-Hatibs’ Activity
»Veena Malik Goes Missing in Mumbai
Far East
»China: Land Grab in Guangdong and Jiangxi Trigger Peaceful Demonstrations and Suicides
Sub-Saharan Africa
»South Africa: ‘We’ll Teach the Whites’
»Uganda: Kyotera Muslims Leadership Wrangles Escalate
»Europe-Regions: Schengen: EU, Deal on Free Travel Stop
Culture Wars
»Spain: Use of Day-After Pill Up 83% in 2010
»UK: David Cameron: ‘We Are a Christian Country and We Should Not be Afraid to Say So’
»UK: David Cameron Attacks Archbishop of Canterbury Branding Rowan Williams Out of Touch
»UK: Speak Up for Christianity, Cameron Tells Archbishop: PM Calls on the Church to Defend ‘Values and Moral Code’ Of the Bible
»UK: Why I Prefer the Beano to the Church Times
»Meet the Internet’s Newest Boy Genius
»Senior Al-Qaeda Operative: The World is on the Brink of Anarchy; The Mujahideen Have a Chance to Fill the Vacuum and Establish the Caliphate

Financial Crisis

Greece: Restaurant Sector Badly Hit

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, DECEMBER 16 — The sight of a restaurant full of customers in Greece is a rarity these days, as supported by figures reported by the SEPOA association of restaurateurs on Thursday which pointed to a 40% decline in turnover year-on-year this fall, or since the increase of value-added tax from 13 to 23%. SEPOA representatives asked for VAT to be reduced to 9%, adding that dozens of enterprises have been forced to shut down due to the big drop in consumption that has led to the loss of about 15% of the sector’s jobs. As reported by Kathimerini, the association estimates that next year the number of jobs lost in the sector will add up to 120,000, while the state will also suffer as a result, as the drop in business and the rise in tax evasion have led to smaller-than-expected tax revenues.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Senate Votes to Extend Payroll Tax Cut for Two Months

WASHINGTON — In the ultimate cap to a year of last-minute, half-loaf legislation, the Senate voted overwhelmingly on Saturday to extend a payroll tax cut for a two months, with the chamber’s leaders and the White House proclaiming victory, even as they pushed the issue of how to extend the tax cut and unemployment benefits into the new year.

In an unusual Saturday vote, the Senate approved a $30 billion package to extend unemployment benefits, a payroll tax holiday for millions of American workers and to avoid cuts in payments to doctors who accept Medicare through February, when Congress will once again be locked in battle over whether and how to further extend those provisions.

The agreement — should it get through the House — mirrors a series of 11th-hour deals devised by the the 112th Congress that appear to solve an impending crisis, but simply push forward, most notably the agreement last summer to raise the debt ceiling. That created a 12-member Congressional committee whose job was to complete the deficit reduction goals that Congress failed to achieve on their own. That group achieved nothing, necessitating the legislation that Congress is wrangling with now.

A failure to even extend a modest tax break for 160 million Americans for a single year — something both sides would love as political feathers in their election-year caps — is particularly remarkable in a Congress charged with far more significant items.

“Today is an important day for our country,” said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, as he explained from the Senate floor Saturday why his chamber would be voting on a bill, conceived Friday in private between Senate leaders to extend the tax for only two months. “We are doing today exactly what the Founding Fathers thought we would do,” and passage of the bills is “an accomplishment important for the American people.”

[Return to headlines]

Stocking Up for Doomsday: As Economists Predict Meltdown, Meet the Families Ready for the Worst

Picture the scene: It’s the end of January 2012 and already it is clear the year to come will make that which has just passed seem something of a picnic. The last strains of Auld Lang Syne had barely faded before Greece defaulted on its debts. Over the next few weeks, Italy and Spain will follow.

Across Britain and the Continent, bank after bank goes down, a domino effect exacerbated by panicking customers desperately withdrawing their savings. Where three years ago the giants of High Street banking were seen as too big too fail, now they are too big and too many for any Government to save.

Panic ensues. Within hours, the cashpoints are empty of money and the supermarket shelves stripped bare.

To make matters worse the country is hit by freezing weather. As temperatures plummet and snow falls, the road network stalls to a grinding halt, while large swathes of the country are hit by electricity blackouts.

The warning by economists that Britain is just ‘nine meals from anarchy’ is brutally borne out. Unlike last summer, the rioters on the streets aren’t looking for trainers and flat-screen TVs — just food.

An absurd fantasy? Perhaps so, but in an increasingly uncertain world, such a scenario can no longer be dismissed out of hand. And strange as it may seem, it’s one that many believe is worth preparing for.

Across the country, steps are being taken to cope with such a situation. But not by central or local government. Their contingency planning for such an emergency is focused on the most important and most vulnerable in society.

Instead it is ordinary people who are taking action: stockpiling their larders with non-perishable food, buying water-purifying pumps and camping stoves.

While five years ago such behaviour might have been dismissed as the activities of ‘end-of-the-world’ eccentrics, those doing so today are professionals from every walk of life.

Companies selling freeze-dried food rations, sealed in giant air-tight multi-serving tins and with a shelf-life of 25 years, have seen sales soar in recent months — increasing ten-fold compared to previous years.

Most popular are the packs of instant meals that will keep a family of four going for three months once water is added. At around £1,500 they are not cheap. But many of those buying these emergency rations see them as a wise investment — and they are well-placed to make such a judgment.

‘It is not “crazies” buying this,’ says James Blake, whose company Emergency Food Storage specialises in freeze-dried foods. ‘We get a lot of high-powered business people as customers. Most people buy insurance for their health, their house or their life — this is food insurance.

‘Of course, we hope it never happens, but if there is a major catastrophe, then money is not going to be worth much after a couple of days. It will be food that becomes the most needed thing.’

Dave Hannah and his company B-Prep sell similar products. He says a number of his customers are bankers. Their average spend is £3,000.

‘It makes you think: “What do they know?” ‘ says Hannah. ‘When we’ve talked on the phone, they’ve told me: “This whole thing is going to go down.” ‘

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]


Christian Leaders Join Muslims in Lowe’s Protest

ALLEN PARK, Mich. — A coalition of Christian, Muslim and civil rights groups has called a demonstration outside a suburban Detroit Lowe’s store to protest the home improvement chain’s decision to pull ads from a reality TV show about U.S. Muslims. Executives of the Mooresville, N.C.-based company say TLC’s “All-American Muslim” became a “lightning rod” for complaints. They acted after complaints from the conservative Christian group the Florida Family Association. A group of Detroit-area Christian, Muslim and civil rights groups says its members will demonstrate at 11 a.m. Saturday at Lowe’s store in Allen Park against what the coalition says was the company’s decision to “cave to anti-Muslim extremists.” The travel planning site also has pulled its ads from the show, which features five families in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Is Anti-Muslim Politics on the Rise in Florida?

Clashes between Muslim activists and Florida conservatives have turned the state into a stand-off. Why? When hardware superstore Lowe’s pulled its advertising from the cable reality programme All-American Muslim, it did so at the behest of a small group called the Florida Family Association (FFA). The FFA’s previous letter-writing campaigns have been targeted at shows with both gratuitous and non-traditional sexuality, like Behind Girls Gone Wild and RuPaul’s Drag Race. All-American Muslim is the first show that FFA has targeted on the grounds that it obscured “the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values”. But it’s not the first time Florida has made national headlines for sentiments hostile towards Muslims.

Last spring, pastor Terry Jones caused worldwide outrage when he burned a Koran at his church in Gainesville, Florida. In September, Nezar Hamze, head of the Florida Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), was the first person refused admission to the Broward County Republican party executive committee. And Congressman Allen West, who represents constituents in South Florida, was recorded by the liberal website ThinkProgress last August saying “Islam is a totalitarian theocratic political ideology, it is not a religion. It has not been a religion since 622 AD, and we need to have individuals that stand up and say that.”

‘Fear mongering’

The boycott by the FFA comes as distrust of Muslims is on the rise across the US. Statistics released by the FBI in November show that anti-Muslim hate crimes rose by about 50% in 2010. After a long quiet period, says Mark Potok, director of the intelligence project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, crimes against Muslims started up again in 2010 with the May fire bombing of a mosque in Jacksonville, Florida. The big spike in hate crimes across the US, he says, coincided with the summer controversy over plans to build an Islamic cultural centre near Ground Zero in New York City. “There’s been a dramatic increase thanks to this completely ginned up controversy about the imposition of Sharia law,” says Mr Potok. “What we’re seeing is fearmongering on an absolutely massive scale.” He is careful to point out that while speech against Muslims is not a hate crime, “words have consequences”. That being said, his office has not observed a noticeable rise in anti-Islamic group activity in Florida.

Sense of urgency

However, the debate over Muslim ideology has become a political fulcrum in Florida, especially for Tea Party candidates. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” says Matthew Hendley, a reporter for the New Times, a weekly paper in Palm Beach and Broward county. “Florida really is a hotbed for this kind of thing,” says Tim Murphy, a reporter for Mother Jones magazine who has covered the issue. He notes several factors that make Florida unique: a history of well-organised political activism, large populations of both pro-Israeli Jewish residents and pro-Palestinian Muslim residents, and a few high-profile arrests of Muslims suspected of terrorist activity. As reported in the Miami Herald, the FBI also investigated ties between the 9/11 hijackers and a Saudi family living in Sarasota, Florida.

To those concerned about Islamic extremism, says Mr Murphy, these arrests “give them a sense of urgency — ‘we need to act now.’“ In South Florida, political figures concerned with Muslim extremism and what they perceive as the spread of Sharia law are well-presented.

Joyce Kaufman, a south Florida radio host, frequently speaks out against Islam encroaching into classrooms and American culture, and her remarks are examples of the kind of extreme rhetoric now being heard. At an event hosted by the anti-Islamic activist Pamela Geller, Ms Kaufman said that “almost every act of political murder” has been done in the name of Allah. When a Tampa imam was arrested on suspicion of aiding the Pakistani Taliban, religious leaders held a protest, demanding the mosque be shut down.

Former Florida Representative Adam Hasner, who is now running for the US Senate, has been vocal in the fight against Sharia law and the threat of radical Islam. When he was speaker of the house in Florida, he invited the controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders to speak at a summit. During his speech, Mr Wilders said while there may be moderate Muslims, “there is no such thing as a moderate Islam”.

A new approach

To that end, those who fight “radical Islam” often see any expression of Islam as a threat, say Muslim activists. “I’ve been in South Florida my whole life. It’s been on a steady rise for the last few years,” says Mr Hamze, the man who was excluded from the Broward County Republican party. “Since ‘07 or ‘08, there has been an increase in activity,” he says. “Now there are churches involved with this, politicians involved, radio stations involved.” Though his views as a Muslim hew closely to Republican views on social issues, his affiliations with CAIR — which opponents say is an organisation with extremist ties — factored into his exclusion. While Florida Republicans actively courted Muslim voters in 2000, the party has now found success rallying voters against the dangers of militant Islam. But they maintain that fight against Muslim extremism is not the same thing as a fight against Muslims. Rick Wilson, an advisor for Mr Hasner, says that CAIR and other groups “shout down any critique of extremism as a critique of Islam”. “Opposing Islamic radicalism and opposing Sharia Islam, these are things, as Adam has frequently said, that speak to our national security in the first and our national character in the second,” says Mr Walker.

All-American Muslims

A fear of Muslim extremism in the US is not solely a Florida phenomenon, after all. While the Florida Family Association initially pushed Lowe’s to drop their All-American Family advertising, the campaign has found support across the country. And Florida is not defined by groups like FFA. Hasan Shibly, the director of the Tampa chapter of CAIR, recently moved from New York to Florida. He says that he’s never known Islamaphobia to be so rampant, but believes that for the most part, those attitudes belong to a vocal but small minority.

“I really don’t think this rhetoric is reflective of Floridians as a whole.”

[JP note: Not content with appeasing Muslims in the UK, the BBC is now busy agitating on behalf of Muslims in America.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Jacksonville Mosque Bomb Scare Sparked by Unknown Package

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Police have determined there is no threat to the community following a bomb scare at the Islamic Center. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office bomb squad responded to the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida, in the 2300 block of South St. Johns Bluff Road,a round 2:30 p.m. JSO Sgt. Chris King said Imam Joe Bradford called police to be safe after a package was sent with wording on it that concerned the imam. There is no threat to the community or the Islamic Center, said King. The imam said there were no explosive devices or threatening material inside. It is unknown who sent the package. Bradford, who would not elaborate on the writing on the package, said he received the package. “Better safe than sorry.” Bradford is confident there is no threat, he said. The center’s spokesperson Muhammad Mansoori said he left the mosque this afternoon around 2:30 and at that point, nothing was unusual. Mansoori said he found out about the emergency when the media began calling him.

[JP note: Coincidence? Perhaps it is a bit too convenient for a Florida mosque to receive a bomb scare just as the New York Times and BBC America publish puff pieces about so-called anti-Muslim hate in the state. I would be tempted to speculate that the good Imam Bradford has concocted his story out of thin air.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Please Sign 1Lt. Michael Behenna’s Petition for Clemency

by Diana West

A November update from Scott and Vicki Behenna (which I missed it when it arrived in my inbox last month):

To the thousands of supporters of 1Lt Michael Behenna,

It has been awhile since we sent out an update. Michael’s lawyers have filed the petition to the Court of Appeals of the Armed Forces (CAAF). The CAAF is the highest court for the military justice system and is similar to the Supreme Court as they do not have to take your appeal. There were four issues on Michael’s case presented to the CAAF and we would expect to hear within 30-60 days whether the CAAF will hear his case. If the CAAF does not choose to hear any of the issues, then Michael’s appeals are done. So you can see the importance of this appeal. We desperately need your prayers so that Michael’s conviction will be seen by the CAAF for what it is — an abomination of the military justice system. The CAAF judges are civilians, so it is our hope that they will look at Michael’s case much differently than how the military judges have thus far.

Michael has his next Clemency Hearing the first week of January 2012. Although the Clemency Board disappointed us last year in not granting any Clemency (despite Michael being a model prisoner for the past two years), we know we will get to present Michael’s situation before a new panel. In addition, we are hopeful that with the US military leaving Iraq at the end of December, that the atmosphere of appeasement towards the Iraqi government may be different. If you want to help with Michael’s Clemency you can draft a letter to the Clemency Board. A sample clemency letter is included below, but we ask that you PLEASE change up the language and add some additional thoughts, so the letters don’t all look the same.

Also, we would like to get Michael’s petition (currently 28,400) to over 35,000 signatures before our meeting with the Clemency Board. We would really appreciate it if you could blast out this request to everyone you can. You can sign the petition here.


           — Hat tip: Diana West[Return to headlines]

Sun Rips Tail From Comet During Solar Close Encounter

A newfound comet that plunged through the sun’s atmosphere Thursday (Dec. 15) — and amazingly survived — was visibly maimed by the encounter, which left the icy wanderer without its long, bright tail, a scientist says. According to Karl Battams, a solar researcher at the U.S. Naval Research Center in Washington, the death-defying comet Lovejoy slipped through the sun’s outer atmosphere (called the corona) with a bright tail in tow, only to reappear tailless on the other side.

The comet zoomed within 87,000 miles (140,000 kilometers) of the sun’s surface, making its closest approach at about 7 p.m. EST Thursday (midnight GMT on Dec. 16). Instruments called coronographs aboard several sun-watching space observatories caught the unexpected solar sight. “Somehow it survived being immersed in the several million-degree solar corona for almost an hour and has now re-emerged back into the views of the LASCO and SECCHI coronagraphs, almost as bright as before!” Battams wrote on his website Sungrazing Comets. “The only notable exception is that it appears to have lost its tail … In fact its tail is still gently floating out in space where it was before perihelion!”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The Madness Over All-American Muslim

by John Esposito

Founding director, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University

“All-American Muslim” premiered on TLC with record 1.7 million viewers in November, earning critical acclaim from The New York Times, USA Today NPR, Time Magazine, The Atlantic and many major blog sites. The episode, “How to Marry a Muslim,” boosted TLC to post its highest Sunday primetime performance in more than a year in women 18-34. Was it too good to be true? Of course. The well-funded and organized xenophobic and racist Islamophobic cottage industry swung into full alert and initiated yet another anti-Islam and anti-Muslim campaign. No sooner had it premiered than the anti-Islam/Islamophobia industry frantically urged their supporters to contact the network’s advertisers and demand that they pull their commercial spots from that hour on TLC in an attempt to strangle the show off of the air.

Before a single advertiser could confirm or deny their position, the Florida Family Association (FFA), a small Tampa-based conservative Christian group, touted that advertisers were fleeing the show “like rats from a sinking ship.” Florida Family founder David Cato told AP his mission was to “defend traditional American biblical values.” Repeating a tired mantra, FFA charged that the show is “propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law,” An FFA email to it’s members charged that: “The show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish,” urging them to contact dozens of companies and ask them to “discontinue advertising on this show.” The hardware and building supply chain Lowe’s from future episodes.

Islamophobic leaders in America were quick to join the chorus. Pam Geller, notorious anti-Muslim basher, who has been involved in virtually every major anti-Islam protest from Park 51, the anti-Sharia movement, and others charged: “Every company is to free to choose where they put their ad dollars. 64 companies have now pulled their ads. And rightly so. It’s is not that the show about Muslims. It is that the show was predicated on a lie and the relentless propaganda of Islamic supremacists.” Her compatriot and co-founder of Stop Islamization of America, Robert Spencer, also jumped into the controversy: “But Americans aren’t suspicious of Muslims who are trying to get married, open clubs, and play football. Americans are suspicious of Muslims who are trying to blow up American buildings, subvert American freedoms, and assert the primacy of Islamic law over American law. The problem people have with Islam is not with every Muslim person. It is with Islam’s teachings of violence against and the subjugation of unbelievers. It is with the supremacist ideology and the fervent believers in those noxious doctrines of warfare and subjugation. All-American Muslim addresses nothing of that supremacist ideology…”

The furor over All-American Muslim underscores yet again the extent to which Islamophobia exists despite the adamant claims of its enablers and practitioners that it does not. The fact that one cannot have a single show on a Muslim family without Muslim bashers insisting that portraying a normal family is somehow insidious because the show does not show the “dark side” of Islam demonstrates the extent to which they engage in the creation of a collective guilt, brush-stroking a religion and a majority of its followers with the actions a fraction of 1 percent of Muslims.

These preachers of hate use vitriolic xenophobic language and fear-mongering and ignore the facts. Major polling by Gallup and Pew and their reports have emphasized the extent to which the vast majority of American Muslims have become economically and increasingly politically integrated into mainstream American society. Muslims represent men and women spanning the socioeconomic spectrum: professionals (doctors, lawyers, engineers, and educators), corporate executives, small business owners, or blue-collar workers and laborers. The vast majority of Muslims reject extremism and terrorism and are loyal citizens like the vast majority of other Americans.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Waging a One-Man War on American Muslims

During the mid-1990s, after hearing about the harassment of gay students, the principal of Largo High School in Florida created a support group for them. Over the next year or two, the meetings also drew sympathetic friends, evolving into a club called the Gay Straight Alliance. For a while, it operated in comfortable obscurity. Then, in 1998, the principal, Barbara Thornton, began receiving postcards, many bearing the identical message bizarrely denouncing the alliance as a “government-funded witch hunt.” The local school board felt compelled to take up the issue, with 400 parents attending a meeting at which one speaker compared the gay students to murderers.

During that session, Ms. Thornton encountered the man who had manufactured the entire controversy: David Caton. An accountant turned rock-club owner, the author of a book about his pornography addiction, Mr. Caton had become a born-again Christian and the founder and sole employee of a fundamentalist group called the Florida Family Association.

This dispute, otherwise a mere footnote in America’s culture wars, matters very much right now. This same David Caton is the person who has maligned the television show “All-American Muslim” — a reality series on the Learning Channel about five families in Dearborn, Mich. — as a front for an Islamic takeover of America and pressured advertisers to pull their commercials. At least two, Lowe’s Home Improvement and, have acknowledged doing so, partly in reaction to Mr. Caton’s campaign. Subsequently, after being criticized by consumers and antidiscrimination groups, both companies issued statements declaring their support for tolerance and diversity.

It would be upsetting enough if a well-financed, well-organized mass movement had misrepresented a television show, insulted an entire religious community and intimidated a national corporation. What makes the attack on “All-American Muslim” more disturbing — and revealing — is that it was prosecuted by just one person, a person unaffiliated with any established organization on the Christian right, a person who effectively tapped into a groundswell of anti-Muslim bigotry. “We live in the age of the Internet and a well-organized extreme right,” said Mark Potok, who investigates hate groups for the Southern Poverty Law Center and has followed Mr. Caton’s activities. “This little man was able to have his voice amplified in huge ways.”

Wajahat Ali, who has written about “the Islamophobia network in America” for the Center for American Progress, a liberal research group, made a similar point in an interview. “It’s literally one dude with a poorly made Web site, one fringe individual with an e-mail list,” Mr. Ali said. “But by parroting the talking points created by this incestuous network, he’s triggered a national crisis.” Mr. Caton did not respond to numerous calls seeking comment. On his association’s Web site he had accused “All-American Muslim” of hiding “the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.” In an interview this week on CNN, he reiterated the thesis.

Yet, with its focus on such wholesome archetypes as a police officer, a newlywed couple and a football coach, “All-American Muslim” struck many reviewers as too tepid to be entertaining. It aspires to do for Muslims what earlier television series like “The Goldbergs” and “Julia” did for Jews and African-Americans — show they’re just regular folks. The question is why anybody, especially a major company like Lowe’s, would be swayed by Mr. Caton’s campaign. (A spokesman for Lowe’s declined the opportunity to comment.) The 2010 federal tax forms for the Florida Family Association list Mr. Caton as its only paid employee, earning $55,200. The association took in $172,133 in donations and closed out the calendar year with precisely $8,868.76 on hand.

Mr. Caton set up the Florida Family Association after having broken with the American Family Association, a more mainstream group within Christian activist circles, for reasons that remain unclear. Mr. Caton worked independently of such established groups as Florida Family Action, Focus on the Family and the Florida Baptist Convention during the 2008 campaign to amend the Florida Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage. “His tactics may differ from other organizations,” said Mathew Staver, the chairman of Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit law and policy organization often involved in evangelical Christian issues. “Other organizations may have similar goals but use different tactics.”

For the first 15 years of his public life, Mr. Caton aimed almost entirely at homosexuals, whether with the high school club, the marriage amendment or gay rights measures in Tampa, Fla. He even urged Florida to fire an openly gay lawyer from the state attorney general’s office. Mr. Caton often used the tactic of pressuring advertisers on shows he depicted as advocating for homosexuality — “Sordid Lives,” “Degrassi High” and “Modern Family.” On the Florida Family Association Web site, he posted grandiose claims about the companies that pulled their advertising and the cable networks that canceled shows. He appears to have frequently exaggerated, but he was almost never publicly contradicted. Within the past two years, Mr. Caton has largely dropped the anti-gay banner in favor of a new villain: American Muslims. His concern about Sharia law partly grew out of a court decision in Tampa in which a judge allowed a mosque to settle an internal dispute according to religious law.

But Mr. Caton’s new obsession also drew upon the heated comments of such prominent anti-Muslim activists as Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. And it coincided with the national controversies about the “ground zero mosque” — in fact, an Islamic cultural center several blocks from ground zero — and the hearings led by Representative Peter T. King, a New York Republican, on alleged subversion by American Muslims. If there is any upside to the campaign against “All-American Muslim,” it is that national scrutiny has cut Mr. Caton down to size. Several major companies that he claimed had stopped advertising — Home Depot and Campbell’s Soup — issued statements saying they had done no such thing. The entertainment mogul Russell Simmons paid the Learning Channel for the advertising revenue lost from Lowe’s. Mr. Caton’s broadsides have potentially created a larger, more sympathetic audience for the very series he reviles. That would not be the first example of unintended consequences in his career. “We found it a good thing he brought the issue out,” Ms. Thornton, the Florida principal, recalled. “It ended up with the student population at large supporting the Gay Straight Alliance because of the attacks from outside.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Calgary Imam Apologizes for Holocaust Comparison

CALGARY — An imam who caught flak last week over comments comparing the treatment of Canadian Muslims to Jews during the Holocaust said he was misinterpreted. Syed Soharwardy said on Friday that he regretted the portrayal of his comments. He said he did not mean to compare the banning of the niqab to the treatment of Jewish people during the Holocaust. Rather, he said, Muslims in Canada are starting to feel as if they are under attack much as the Jewish people were in the years leading up to the Holocaust. “I said the current situation of Muslims that we are facing is trending towards a situation that will be very very horrible,” he said on Friday. “I created a similarity just to make a point, not to insult, not to be unrealistic or insensitive or incorrect.”

Controversy flared after the Calgary imam gave an interview to CTV last week explaining his point of view on the government’s decision to bar the niqab during citizenship ceremonies. Then Soharwardy said: “Muslims are going through that situation right now where the Jews faced before the Holocaust.” On Friday, the imam tried to clarify his intent, saying he and other Muslims like living in Canada and that he is aware that there is no comparison to be made to the conditions the Jews suffered under Hitler. However, he fears the country may be heading in the wrong direction.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Murder Victim Just Turned 17

The killing of the city’s latest homicide victim, who just turned 17 in October, was “not a random act,” say police. Teen friends of Russell Haidar say despite his troubled history with the law, he was very giving to those who were close to him. Haidar, Edmonton’s 45 homicide of the year, was gunned down around 11:18 p.m. Wednesday in a park at Picard Drive and Proctor Way in the upscale Lewis Estates neighbourhood. He died in hospital at 1:30 a.m. Thursday. His funeral is set for Saturday at the Al-Rashid Mosque, 13070 113 St.

Friend Kaila Mackenzie said she can’t believe that her childhood friend has died in such a violent way. Mackenzie said though Haidar had a recent checkered past, he was known for taking care of his friends. “He was always really good to me — if I needed a place to stay, it was never a problem. He was always there for me when I needed him,” said Mackenzie.

A Thursday autopsy confirmed that Haidar died as a result of a gunshot wound. Homicide detectives Friday said the case does not appear to be a random killing, said cop spokesman Patrycia Thenu. Investigators are asking for anyone who believes they may have information relating to the case to contact police. One area resident, who declined to be named, was not surprised by the shooting. She said that there has been a steady uprising of drug trafficking in the area for quite some time. The Lewis Estates Community League is in the midst of trying to set up a neighbourhood watch program. Friend Mohamad Zain rejects the notion that Haidar’s slaying is related to drugs or gangs. “He was the last kind of person you’d think would get caught up in something like this,” said friend Zain. “It was a complete fluke.” Zain remembers Haidar as a “good hearted” guy, who had a close circle of friends.

All who were close to him are struggling to come to terms with his violent death. Zain saw his friend buying ice cream only a few days before he was slain, not realizing it was the last time the two would ever speak. “I just said, “What’s up?’ And then that was it. That was the last time we talked,” he said. A funeral is set for 12:30 p.m. Saturday, at Al-Rashid Mosque.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Anti-Kabila Protesters From DRC Clash With Brussels Police

(AGI)Brussels-Police in Brussels clashed with citizens from the Democratic Republic of the Congo protesting against the elections. The DRC nationals gathered to protest the outcome of the presidential elections announced on November 28 which saw Joseph Kabila’s controversial return to power, approved by the Supreme Court of Justice in Kinshasa yesterday.

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

Austrian Teens Exposed as Xenophobic by Study

Young Austrians’ views are strongly influenced by hostility to strangers and concerns caused by the economic crisis, according to researchers. The Institute for Youth Culture Research spoke with 400 residents of Vienna aged between 16 and 19 to find that 43.6 per cent of them agreed with the claim that “there are way too many Turks in Austria.”

Around 96,000 of the 248,000 members of the domestic Turkish community are born in Austria. Turks have been in the focus of anti-immigration political movements like the right-wing Freedom Party (FPÖ) over the years. FPÖ boss Heinz-Christian Strache has claimed he is not against successful integration but warns of the increasing dominance of Islam at the same time. Research shows that unemployment among Turks is around twice as high as among Austrians. Statistics also reveal that Turkish women have 2.41 children on average, significantly more than Austrian women (1.27). Austria has one of the lowest birth rates in Europe.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Belgium: You Can Only Speak Dutch in Grimbergen

Is it a crime to speak French in a Flemish municipality? MEP Frédérique Ries has asked the European Commission to respond to the creation by the CD&V (Christian democrat) authorities in the Belgian town of Grimbergen of a hotline to encourage the population to inform on people that use languages other than Dutch in public areas and businesses.

Le Soir reports that the liberal Belgian representative believes that this “invitation to act as an informer” is in breach of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Belgian constitution. The Brussels daily evokes the anger of Francophone politicians, who deplore:

… the linguistic intransigence of Flemish authorities (Grimbergen is one of many cases) that, in their bid to combat a decline in the use of Dutch in municipalities around Brussels, have resorted to measures that are anti-constitutional: article 30 of the country’s constitution stipulates that outside of matters involving public administration and the law, the choice of language is determined by individual preference.

What appears to be a majority of the members of the Flanders regional parliament supports the measure established by Marleen Mertens, Grimbergen’s CD&V burgomeister. In an interview with Le Soir, she argues that the initiative is “absolutely normal” :

If I travel to Wallonia, I use French when shopping. The same applies in Flanders. It’s a language exercise. It encourages people to use Dutch to facilitate their integration.

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

Case of Anti-White Racism on Trial in France

As protesters massed outside, the spokeswoman for a movement representing immigrants from France’s former colonies went on trial Wednesday for allegedly insulting white French in what may be the first anti-white racism case in France. The verdict, expected Jan. 25, may turn on a hyphen.

The trial grew out of a legal complaint from a far-right group, the General Alliance Against Racism and Respect for French and Christian Identity, Agrif, against Houria Bouteldja for using a word she invented to refer to white French that she claims was misconstrued. She was charged with “racial injury” and, if convicted, risks up to six months in prison and a maximum euro25,000 ($32,500) fine, though courts usually issue far lighter sentences.

Bouteldja, of the movement Indigenes of the Republic, called native white French “souchiens” in a TV interview. The word derives from “souche,” or stock, as native white French are commonly called, but could sound like a hyphenated word meaning “lower than a dog.”

Defense lawyer Henri Braun, asking the court to acquit his client, said Bouteldja was really denouncing “the rise in hate and racism and tensions over the mythical French identity which propagates the idea that there are real French,” and other French who are not real. “They want you (the court) to judge that French of stock exist and strengthen the legitimacy of this ridiculous notion,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Europe’s Jews Need This Union

by Jonathan Freedland

There’s one number you won’t find in the torrent of opinion polls unleashed by David Cameron’s European summit veto. You can find the verdicts of men aged between 18 and 24 or of women in social class C2 — but if you’re looking for the attitudes of British Jews to Europe, you will search in vain. There is hardly any polling of British Jews on any topic, so we are left with the evidence of our own eyes and ears. Here’s what my own, unscientific survey has picked up: that this is a subject which, while hardly discussed, touches on sentiments that go very deep, pitting our gut instincts against our heads, our fears against our hopes. The gut instinct is one we’re wary of voicing it lest we sound stuck in the past — fear of Germany. Plenty of Europeans voice similar anxieties. Witness the nervous response when one of Angela Merkel’s allies quipped: “Suddenly Europe is speaking German.” Or the Greek magazine cover which, protesting at the subordination of Athens to economic decisions taken in Berlin, depicted a swastika on the Acropolis. Or look no further than the British press, which compared Cameron’s stance to Britain’s lonely defiance in 1940, recalling the famous cartoon of the solitary Tommy declaring: “Very Well, Alone!”

We’re not the only ones to worry. And yet these concerns hit a particularly raw nerve for Jews, one that goes deeper than tabloid headlines. I spoke to one especially thoughtful Jewish man of letters who confessed to being spooked by the pictures that came out of the Brussels summit: a German chancellor at the centre, the leaders of Lithuania or Croatia hovering close by, the smaller nations of Europe apparently reduced to mere satellites of mighty Berlin. Maybe that’s unfair or a distortion, but that’s how he saw it. Viewed through this lens, Cameron did the right thing. Anything that can stop a fiscal union that would have required the countries of the eurozone to have had their budgets approved, their homework marked, in effect, by Germany is to be welcomed. Never mind that none of those arrangements would have applied to Britain, still comfortably (and rightly) out of the eurozone. As far as this elemental Jewish gut instinct is concerned, talk of German domination is scary and we should support any move that stands in its way.

But that is not the only Jewish way to see the European question. Other Jews, no less haunted by the last century, might have the opposite reaction. They might, for a start, be alarmed at the prospect of the eurozone breaking apart in chaotic fashion. Everyone agrees that such a crash would see the economy tanking, not only across Europe, including Britain, but far beyond. You don’t have to have a doctorate in modern Jewish history to know that when a depression looms, so does trouble for the Jews. We may not have played the role of scapegoat for a while, but history remembers are past performances and the script is still there, always ready to be revived.

But even if the euro does not break up, Jews still have good reason to want the EU to succeed rather than fail. What motivated the founding fathers of the European project (among whom there was, incidentally, a strong Jewish presence) was a desire, after the horrors of two wars, to ensure the nations of Europe never fought each other again, to make them into trading partners rather than military rivals. It was a noble ideal and one in which Jews have a particularly high stake — for war in Europe has hurt us especially. Fear of Germany was central to this mission. The aim was to tie down the German Gulliver in bonds of commerce, the Lilliputians of the rest of Europe confining him in the shackles of shared sovereignty. In the post-1945 era Germany submitted willingly to those constraints, seeing the EU as the way it might be protected from its darkest self. Few British politicians speak this way now; the wartime generation has passed. But Jews have long memories. We should heed them, listening to our heads not our guts — and willing the EU to survive the current storm.

[JP note: As a good Guardian journalist should, Freedland forgets to mention the massive influx of Muslim migrants into European countries, aided and abetted by bureaucrats in Brussels, which does not bode well for the Jews of Europe.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

France: Armenian Vote: Turkey Ready to Recall Ambassador

Paris, Ankara important ally

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, DECEMBER 15 — Turkey will recall its ambassador to France if the French National Assembly will vote for the draft bill that sanctions negation of the Armenian genocide in 1915. The news was reported by a spokesman of the Turkish embassy in Paris, Engin Solakoglu, to France Press.

“There will be unavoidable consequence in all sectors of bilateral relations. First of all our ambassador will be recalled for consultations on December 22 for an indefinite period, depending on the vote in the French National Assembly.” After the announcement of the Turkish embassy, spokesman of the French Foreign Ministry Bernard Valero said that “Turkey is a very important ally for France, we give the highest importance to our relations with Ankara, on international and regional issues. Regular contact between the countries”, he added, has in fact allowed us to make progress in the mutual understanding of our interests.” The French National Assembly will vote next week on a draft bill on sanctions for denying the Armenian genocide in 1915, recognised by France in 2001.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

If This is a Planet: Celestial Body Named for Author, Auschwitz Survivor Primo Levi

The Italian Jewish author and scientist lived through the worst that mankind has wrought. Now his name lives on beyond his work, and beyond the earth, in a 17-km-wide celestial body — discovered in 1989 — that has now officially been named planet Primolevi.

Ever since it was discovered in 1989 between Mars and Jupiter, the minor planet 4,545 existed without a proper name. It has one now, and it is indeed worth a closer look. The celestial body has been officially named Primolevi — one word, according to astronomy registry rules — after the renowned Italian author and chemist, who survived the Auschwitz concentration camp. The number 4,545 has indeed gained new meaning. Primo Levi, an Italian Jew, left Auschwitz in 1945. Furthermore, he kept for the rest of his life on his arm the record number 174,517, tattooed by his Nazi captors.

Mario Di Martino, astronomer of the Observatory of Pino Torinese, had the idea to the name a minor planet after Levi. The International Astronomical Union, the internationally recognized authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies, has now approved his proposal. The minor planet description reads: “Primo Levi (1919-1987) was an Italian chemist and writer. He was the author of two novels and several collections of short stories, essays and poems. His best-known work is If this is a man, his account of the period he spent as a prisoner in Auschwitz concentration camp.”

Minor planet Primolevi was discovered in 1989, by Belgian astronomer Henri Debehogne, with a telescope of the European Southern Observatory in the Andes Mountains of Chile. It is 17 kilometers in diameter, situated in the asteroid belt between March and Jupiter. It logs a five-year orbit, which was studied in 1,084 observations — most recently on October 28, 2011. Debehogne, who died in 2007 at 78, was an astronomer at the Royal Observatory of Belgium, specialized in astrometry of asteroids and comets, and discovered more than 700 minor planets…

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

Italy: House Arrest for Last 18 Months of Prison Sentences

(AGI) Rome — In an attempt to reduce overcrowding in prisons, at a cabinet meeting held today ministers amended the law so those with prison sentences may spend the last 18 months under house arrest. Funds amounting to 57 million have been allocated for prison construction projects and for completing prisons under construction as well as enlarging existing ones.

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

Netherlands: People From Brabant Lose Faith With Catholicism

At least 86% of the people living in Brabant have little or no faith in the Catholic church, according to a survey by local broadcaster Omroep Brabant.

The south was the centre of the Catholic faith in the Netherlands for centuries.

The survey was carried out among 4,000 people living in the south-eastern region. Of the 700 Catholics surveyed, 60% have lost their faith in the Catholic church.

On Friday the government commission investigating sexual abuse within the Catholic church will publish its findings. Some 88% of those polled do not think the church has dealt properly with the scandal.

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

Netherlands: Cannabis Cafe Membership May be Delayed

Cannabis cafes in the south of the country will have until May 1 2012 to turn themselves into members’ only clubs, justice minister Ivo Opstelten said on Thursday.

The minister had wanted to introduce the membership pass system in January, but many local councils had asked for a delay.

So-called coffee shops in Noord-Brabant, Limburg and Zeeland will now become members’ only clubs in May. The system will be introduced nationwide in 2013 Opstelten said.


Under the new system, only people who are officially resident in the Netherlands will be able to ‘join’ a cannabis club. Coffee shops will be allowed to have no more than 2,000 members and must be at least 350 metres from schools.

Opponents of the coffee shop pass system say it will lead to an increase in street dealing.

Earlier stories

Maastricht says cannabis pass system must be delayed

Cannabis cafes set to become private members clubs

Closure of massive cannabis café was right, says highest court

Fewer coffee shops as new rules begin to bite

This is what marijuana smells like, council tells residents

Border cannabis café closure boosts Breda

Maastricht can ban tourists from cannabis cafes, says top EU legal advisor

Mayors to get tough in Eindhoven drugs wars

Tourism prompts cannabis café closure

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

Norway Issues Pre-Christmas Reindeer Slaughter Threat

Norway’s agriculture minister has threatened to enforce a mass cull of tens of thousands of reindeer unless the Sami authority tasked with herding the animals steps up its efforts to cut the burgeoning population.

According to the Norwegian Reindeer Herders’ Association (NRL), the move would entail the slaughter of as much as a fifth of the reindeer population in the vast Finnmark region, newspaper Aftenposten reports.

“The state is calling for the compulsory slaughter of 60,000 reindeer. They have no right to intervene with such force,” said NRL chief Nils Henrik Sara.

He accused the state of repeatedly changing the rules governing reindeer husbandry without any forewarning or the provision of guidelines, and said the NRL would take a case to the international courts if necessary.

The state has long been on a collision course with reindeer herders from the indigenous Sami minority, and the comments made by Agriculture Minister Lars Peder Brekk when presenting the new strategy last week have done little to ease tensions.

“The high reindeer population is a threat to reindeer husbandry and the entire culture surrounding reindeer herding,” said Brekk (Centre Party).

The minister believes the current reindeer population is unsustainable and implored reindeer herders to take steps to impose a ceiling on the number of animals they keep.

Brekk’s department wants the herders to reduce their financial losses and increase production.

The authorities are also seeking to avoid a repeat of last winter’s scenes, when police received a worryingly high number of reports of dead reindeer thought to have starved to the death amid a grazing shortage on the Finnmark plateau.

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

Norwegians on Ola Tunander

Whilst there clearly are people who are receptive to the idea that Anders Brevik was recruited by Mossad to ‘discipline’ Norwegian society, the non morally failed rejection of Ola Tunander’s peddling of this in Nytt Norsk Tidsskrift (New Norway Journal) has been to unequivocally see it as a reworking of the calumny of a baleful, Wandering Jew wreaking havoc in foreign cities. One example of this comes from PhD candidate at the University of Oslo, Johannes Due Enstad who has published a denunciation of Tunander and the editorial department of the Nytt Norsk Tidsskrift in Aftenposten. Any Norwegian speakers able to offer a translation are welcome to do so. In the meantime, here are the hallucinogenic qualities of Google Translate.

The goal of the New Norwegian Journal (NNT) will be “to provide insight and profiled argument in the Norwegian public debate.” The journal is peer reviewed, which should mean that the articles are in print are the results of a thorough process to ensure scientific quality. Readers of a peer-reviewed journals should be confident that they will be served, maintain high professional standards.

In light of this, it is more than a little strange to watch Ola Tunander strange text Inspirational, Stakeholders, Initiation Master and Investors in Breivik’s World in print in the latest issue of NNT (4 / 2011).

This article is an insult to the informed public, it consists of a heat-up of insinuations, loose ends and vague statements that do not lead any other way than in a fog of conspiratorial ideas about hidden connections in which particular Israel occupies a Omino place.

Strange about the Israeli “stakeholders”

Really strange is the article in the discussion of Breivik’s “stakeholders”. According Tunander it is reasonable to interpret the controversial (and later editorial sorry) op-ed to Barry Rubin in the Jerusalem Post 31 July, which states that the AUF supports terrorism and that it was “ironic” that they themselves were affected by it, as a “threat” and a “half-public signal” from the Israeli side. “Was there anyone who would mark against Norway that the Norwegian-Israel policy is ‘unacceptable’?” Asks Tunander rhetorical, and follow up by mentioning the Lillehammer affair in 1973, where Mossad agents executed a Moroccan waiter (Tunander falsely claims that he was Palestinian) in the belief that he was one of the Palestinian terrorists involved in the Munich massacre.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Spain: Police Accused of Rampant Racial Profiling

Amnesty International on Wednesday accused Spanish authorities of using racial and ethnic profiling, with police singling out people who are not white in order to meet quotas. In a new report, the human rights group said some police stations in Madrid have weekly and monthly quotas for ID checks and detentions of immigrants not carrying residency papers or work permits, encouraging officers to target people belonging to ethnic minorities, even if they are living legally in Spain as residents or are citizens.

“People who do not ‘look Spanish’ can be stopped by police as often as four times a day,” said Izza Leghtas, the Amnesty researcher who investigated and wrote the Spain report. The group said African and Latin American immigrants — both legal and illegal — are most frequently targeted by officers who demand their IDs in neighborhoods with heavy immigrant populations, on public transportation and in parks.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Cordoba Foundation Seminar ‘Behind Closed Doors’ At London Muslim Centre on Monday 19 December

Ten years ago, shortly after the 9/11 attacks, the British government passed laws allowing them to detain and imprison foreign “terrorism suspects” without charge or trial. By December 2001, almost a dozen Muslim men, mainly from Algeria, had been detained and later became known, with others, as the “Belmarsh detainees”. They were held without trial or charge for over three years until the courts ruled this system illegal in 2004. The men were released but things did not get better for them or their families… control orders were introduced in 2005 and others were subject to harsh bail restrictions after being threatened with deportation to their countries of origin — Algeria, Jordan and Libya. Tagged, with restrictions on their freedom, all without having any idea of the reason why, this has been the life of at least 18 individuals and families over the past decade, with no end in sight… 10 years of not knowing the accusations, of coming up against a wall of silence and secret evidence by the Home Office in court, not knowing if they will be deported to countries that will torture, of abuse, misuse and being ignored by the wider community. At the same time, the British government is seeking to replace the control order regime with new Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (T-PIMs), to broaden the number of countries so-called terrorism suspects can be deported to without knowing the reason why and to harshen its anti-terrorism laws.

Speakers include:

  • GARETH PEIRCE — Human rights lawyer

    JEAN LAMBERT — MEP (Green Party)

    ANAS ALTIKRITI — CEO, The Cordoba Foundation

    BRUCE KENT — Vice President, Pax Christi

    ASIM QURESHI — Executive Director, Cage Prisoners

Date & Time — Monday 19 December 2011 • 6pm — 9pm

Venue — London Muslim Centre, 46 Whitechapel Road London E1 1JX

Nearest tube: Aldgate East / Whitechapel



Supported by:

  • Campaign Against Criminalising Communities

    Cage Prisoners

    Islamic Forum of Europe

    Newham Monitoring Project

    Federation of Student Islamic Societies

    Peace & Justice in East London

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Muslims and Christians Unite to Oppose Alcohol Licence. “It’s Not a Religious Issue, “ Says Welfare Director Toufic Kacimi

MUSLIMS and Christians have united to try to stop alcohol being sold at a grocery store almost next door to Finsbury Park Mosque. But despite more than 700 members of the mosque signing a petition asking licensing chiefs not to allow alcohol sales at the shop, the licence was still granted. The supermarket has been selling groceries and cigarettes next door to the Muslim Welfare House in Seven Sisters Road for 11 years. The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, at nearby Rainbow Theatre in Seven Sisters Road, is also opposing the application. Muslims stress they are not opposing the application on religious grounds. They are arguing that it will attract drunks late on Friday nights when many women and children traditionally go to the mosque for prayer. “This is not a religious issue, it’s a community issue,” Toufic Kacimi, director of Muslim Welfare House, said. “We have been here for 40 years, and there is a big problem with crime in Finsbury Park. There is a well-known link between alcohol and crime, and that’s one major reason why we’re opposed to it. We have a lot of children coming here for evening classes, and hundreds of women coming to the mosque on Friday evening. With an off-licence next door, the Friday evening atmosphere here will totally change. Women are worried they will have abuse hurled at them by drunks.”

Mr Kacimi said the death of the Muslim Welfare House’s imam in August, an incident where a man was murdered nearby last year and a sexual assault a month ago had all increased tensions, which an off-licence could potentially add to. Muslim Welfare House says it has been consulting with Islington Council and with the Inter-Faith Forum since off-licence plans emerged two months ago. Paul Hill, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God’s head of communications, said it could not support plans to sell alcohol. “We help a lot of people who suffer from alcohol addiction at this church,” he said. “Because of that we cannot support anywhere that sells alcohol.” Kayar Mustafa, who owns the shop with his father, maintained that it would not attract drunks. “This is not going to become a shop for alcoholics to gather outside,” he said. “It will be like a takeaway, where people can buy a drink, buy some food and then they go. There is nowhere for them to stay. This is a high street so they cannot just hang around outside. There are too many people walking around for that. We don’t want problems from drunks either. If someone comes in and they’re clearly drunk then we don’t serve them. We will be extremely strict with ID too.” Leisure chief Councillor Paul Convery said last night (Thursday) that an off-licence should not be next door to any place of worship “be that a church, a mosque or temple”. “It causes a disturbance and is not right,” he added. The licence to sell alcohol between 8am and 11pm was granted, however.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Sir Iqbal Sacranie

In a Diary post by Paul Goodman (“Pickles and Warsi wrestle for control of Government strategy on anti-Muslim hatred”, 19 November) we repeated in good faith a statement wrongly reported elsewhere that Sir Iqbal Sacranie is a trustee of Union of Good, an organisation which has been listed by the US Treasury as a Special Designated Global Terrorist group. We also suggested (wrongly) that it was possible that, as a result of this association, the UK government had rejected Sir Iqbal as a possible candidate for membership of the Muslim Leadership Council (MLC). We now understand that in fact Sir Iqbal is not, and never has been, a trustee of Union of Good. We also accept Sir Iqbal’s assurance that while he was approached with a view to participating in the MLC initiative, he declined to do so. He was not on the list of individuals that was put forward and was not rejected by the government as we had suggested. We are sorry for any embarrassment caused to Sir Iqbal by our Diary post.

[JP note: All’s fare in love and lawfare.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Scandal of How Councils Are Squandering £37,000 a Day on Interpreters

COUNCILS are spending more than £1.1million a month helping residents who do not speak English, new figures reveal.

Taxpayers in England have had to foot a bill of £27million for translation and interpreting over the last two years — a staggering £37,000 a day. The total covers face-to-face interpreters, document translation and telephone assistance and comes as councils across the country are being forced to lay off tens of thousands of staff and cut back vital local services. Some areas are seeing their bills soaring despite official guidance calling on local authorities to find ways of helping people learn English. Figures provided by 354 local authorities in England show that over two years the bill for interpreting and translating was £26.5million. Kent is the highest spending single authority in the country with a two-year bill of £1.9million. However, the combined cost for the multi-cultural London boroughs is at least £10.3million.

The north London borough of Enfield spent £706,060 helping non-native residents. This is more than the whole of the city of Manchester, which used up £627,607 in public cash, and the cities of Leicester, Liverpool, Southampton, Sunderland and Norwich combined. Last night, Nick de Bois, Tory MP for Enfield North said: “At a time when council budgets are under pressure, people want to be reassured that their local council is getting its spending priorities right. Translating public documents cannot be a priority.” Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It is incredible that councils are spending so much on translation. Local authorities shouldn’t routinely need translation services, they should only be required in a few exceptional cases.” Among the more notable figures revealed under Freedom of Information requests, the London boroughs of Haringey and Hackney spent £821,000 and £748,000 respectively.

Birmingham had a bill of £777,000 and in Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg’s constituency city of Sheffield — where 690 council staff face the axe — costs rose 150 per cent between 2009 and 2011 from £92,000 to £230,000. Coventry, the highest spending single city, had a two-year total of £1.1million. Guidance by the Department for Communities and Local Government says: “We would encourage local authorities to consider whether translation is necessary, whether it should be available on demand, and whether it can be done in a way that helps people learn English.”


Nick de Bois, Conservative MP for Enfield North

THE figures revealed in the Daily Express today are a wake-up call for local councils. That the sum of £27million was spent by local authorities in the past two years on translations is staggering. People in Britain will rightly argue that, in times of austerity, this is one cut we can all agree on. However, I would argue that even if we were not living in tough economic times, the use of taxpayers’ money in this way is very questionable indeed. Let’s be absolutely clear — there is no legal requirement on local councils to provide translation services. There are, in fact, guidelines recently issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government which encourage local authorities to think long and hard before offering translation services. Take as an example my own local council in the London Borough of Enfield.

Residents have recently had to fight a campaign against a threat to services at the much-used Ordnance Road Library, which is located in one of the more deprived parts of my constituency. It costs £220,000 a year to run and is a learning resource used by residents and schools alike. The fact that library services could be under threat when last year the council spent £350,000 on translation services speaks volumes. This is not what residents want and it is not what is good for our country. I say that because I want to make a wider point here. I’m all in favour of having people come to this country who want to make a better life for themselves and their families and contribute to society. To achieve this, learning the language is crucial. Without it, at best, your job opportunities are restricted and it’s far more difficult to realise your potential. At worst, you can’t integrate into society. What all areas of Government — from Whitehall to town halls — need to ensure is that policies are geared towards encouraging people to learn English, not allowing people to get by without doing so.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt: Clashes Between the Army and Demonstrators Continue in Front of the Houses of Parliament

The violence erupted yesterday afternoon during a demonstration against the army. The harsh reaction of the military resulted in eight dead and about 300 wounded. Young Coptic Catholic Egyptian emphasizes the shock of the population and describes senseless repression of the security forces.

Cairo (AsiaNews) — Clashes that began yesterday afternoon between the army and demonstrators demanding the resignation of the High Council of the military (Hull) in front of the parliament building in Cairo continue today. The toll is now eight people dead and 300 wounded. The escalation of violence has rekindled controversy against the army, which has bloodily suppressed all forms of protest by young people for months.

“We do not understand why we are doing this, the population is in shock and waiting for a response from Hull,” says Nagui Damian, a young Coptic Christian, close to the democratic movements that have emerged with the revolution of Jasmine. “The fighting — he explains — continued throughout the night. The army are attacking defenseless people without scruples. A girl (pictured) was beaten to death by other soldiers. “ The clashes took place a few days after the second round of Egyptian elections, the first since the fall of Mubarak. According to the young Christian, this climate may threaten the third phase of voting due to be held in January.

Sparked yesterday morning after the beating of a young protester by the military, the fighting reached its peak in late afternoon, when the army forcibly evacuated a camp set up by protesters near Tahrir Square. The young people responded by trying to force the barbed wire fence surrounding the parliament building. This in turn triggered the police violent response, who began throwing stones and tear gas from the roofs, forcing the activists to protect themselves with helmets, sheet metal and satellite dishes. In the evening the Prime Minister said that the ongoing violence “is not a revolution, but an attack on Egypt,” calling the young demonstrators counter-revolutionaries who want to destabilize the country.

Since last November 25, hundreds of Egyptians have been protesting the militaries appointment of Kamal el Ganzuri as new head of government. Ganzuri was prime minister under President Hosni Mubarak. The activists also demand the transfer of power by the Supreme Council of the armed forces to civil authority.

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

Egypt Violence Resumes Near Parliament Building

Protesters in Egypt have clashed with the security forces near parliament in Cairo, a day after eight people were killed in unrest there.

The demonstrators threw stones at riot police who had sealed off the streets around the building with barbed wire. Security forces responded with water cannon and some threw objects at the protesters from the tops of buildings. The demonstrators want an immediate handover to civilian rule in Egypt. They have been staging a sit-in in the centre of Cairo since mass protests last month in which nearly 40 people were killed. The unrest prompted Egypt’s governing military council to appoint a new prime minister. In the latest violence on Friday, the security forces stormed a protest camp to try to move the protesters away. Although they later pulled back, street battles continued for much of the day. Egyptian state television said eight people had been killed and about 300 injured.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Italy’s Minister Welcomes Sanctions Lifted on Libyan Banks

(AGI) Rome — Italy’s foreign minister, Giulio Terzi , expressed his satisfaction at the UN Security Council’s decision to lift the financial sanctions on the Central Bank of Libya and the Libyan Arab Foreign Bank. The sanctions were ordered against Gaddafi with the Council’s resolutions 1970 and 1973 to freeze substantial assets around the world that can now be used by the new Libyan government. Minister Terzi said:”I am particularly happy for this decision coming in such a delicate moment in the life of the country.” He added:”The Italian government took several measures to lead to this result. We will continue to support the reconstruction of the country in any possible way.” ..

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

Italy Remains Libya’s Leading Trade Partner, Terzi Says

(AGI) Bergamo — Foreign minister Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata confirms PM Mario Monti’s near-term visit to Libya. Speaking at a conference in Bergamo, the minister said “Italy will continue to rank as Libya’s first trade partner” and underscored “our reactivation of the ‘Friendship Treaty’.”

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

Israel and the Palestinians

A Bridge Too Far for ‘Outraged’ of Hamas

by Tim Marshall

Hamas cannot see a top without verbally going over it. Even by the standards of their usual outbursts, they’ve excelled over the closure of a wooden ramp leading from the Western Wall to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif. Spokesman Fawzi Barhum said this was a “violent act… a declaration of religious war on the Muslim holy places… a serious step that shows the Zionist scheme of aggression”. Another spokesman said the closure was “a criminal act… a flagrant violation… a provocation to the feelings of millions of Muslims”. The reaction is a mixture of the ranting of the People’s Front Of Judea from Monty Python, and Dave Spart from Private Eye. The rickety structure gives access to Islam’s third holiest site. The city council considers it a fire hazard and in danger of collapse. It is used almost entirely by tourists. Muslims tend to enter the Haram al-Sharif from one of the other 10 entrances. Despite this, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat believes “this shows their determination to Judaise Jerusalem and to take over the city’s Muslim holy places”. Behind the synthetic outrage is the real reason for these childish outbursts — every stone, every grave, every gate and every cherished memory, is regarded as a battle worth fighting, even if it results in death. Therefore, the usual suspects on the Palestinian side (and they have their Israeli counterparts) feel the need to whip even minor incidents into a matter of life and death. Would they rather the bridge collapse under the weight of 100 tourists? That it catches alight and the fire spread to the Haram al-Sharif? Many Muslims around the world will view this “outrage” with a shrug. There are genuine issues to care about, but Hamas wants permanent outrage. Without that, what do they have?

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Cyprus Pop Hits Halt Call to Prayer

THE religious affairs directorate in the Turkish controlled sector of Cyprus has claimed that deliberate interference caused popular Greek-Cypriot radio programmes to broadcast from mosque rooftops instead of the Islamic call to prayer. Due to interference in radio frequencies which link the mosques PA systems, Greek pop hits could be heard yesterday blasting through the air. Each mosque broadcasts the call to prayer via powerful speakers placed on the minarets of the building. Shocked residents of several districts informed the ‘religious affairs directorate’ whose chairman Talip Atalay claimed that it was a deliberate action by Greek Cypriots. He said they had experienced similar problems in the past, but they were solved in cooperation with Turkey. He also noted that a specialist team was coming from Turkey in order to fix the problem and in 2-3 days the quality of the broadcasts would be better. It is understood that the problem was caused by weather related radio frequency interference which can bleed into sound systems from nearby radio stations. Cyprus has a crowded radio-waves spectrum with nearly 100 Greek and Turkish Cypriot stations operating on the FM dial.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Iranian-Origin CIA Spy Arrested in Iran, ISNA Agency Says

(AGI) Tehran — A CIA spy of Iranian origin was apparently arrested in the Islamic republic of Iran. The piece of news was disclosed by press agency Isna, which pointed out that the spy was arrested before accomplishing his espionage mission. “His mission was to infiltrate the intelligence ministry and provide information”, Isna reports, just mentioning that the man “cooperated with the US army in Iraq and Afghanistan” and was tracked down at Bagram airfield in Afghanistan. This is not the first time Tehran’s government announces that foreign spies have been arrested, without providing elements allowing foreign sources to ascertain it.

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

Qatar: Emir Opens Imam Abdul Wahhab Mosque in Doha

HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani yesterday inaugurated the “Imam Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab” Mosque in Doha.

The country’s biggest mosque has been named after the great reformer and renowned reviver in honour of the scholars who still carry Imam Abdul Wahhab’s thought and message to serve Islam and Muslims. In a speech on the occasion, HH the Emir expressed his belief that the mosque, which stems from the land of Qatar, will serve as a platform for reform and worshipping God Almighty in spirit and in truth away from fads and fancies. The Emir reaffirmed his commitment to spare no efforts to carry the message and spread the teachings of Islam in the whole world, noting that the Muslim nation is now in need of renewal and inspiration of the experience of Wahhab’s da’wah (call) while keeping pace with the era and its developments. He said no occasion was as lofty as this one and no event lived up to it, asking the Almighty Allah to provide us with His Grace after “we raised the bases of one of Allah’s houses and completed its construction.”

“Is there a greater and higher act of worship than the remembrance under the roof a new house of Allah’s houses?, the Emir inquired.

“I am confident that this mosque which stems from the land of Qatar, as an eternal part of it, will serve as a platform for reform and sincere call to the Almighty Allah away from fads and fancies to serve the people on earth while coping with the spirit of the era and saving them in the hereafter in order to please Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him).”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

The £7m Christmas Tree: Hotel Unveils Fir Draped in Diamonds (And No Prizes for Guessing It’s in the UAE)

Surrounded by examples of decadent wealth, Abu Dhabi is probably the only place where an $11m Christmas tree might not seem a little over the top.

Dubbed one of the ‘most expensive Christmas trees ever’, the glitzy Emirates Palace hotel has unveiled the 40ft evergreen in its gold-leaf bedecked atrium.

Decorated with traditional silver and gold bows, baubles and white lights, the tree is also decked out in necklaces, earrings and other jewellery giving it its record value.

It holds a total of 181 diamonds, pearls, emeralds, sapphires and other precious stones according to Khalifa Khouri, owner of Style Gallery which provided the jewellery.

Hans Olbertz, general manager of the hotel, said: ‘The tree itself is about $10,000. The jewellery has a value of over $11million — I think 11.4m, 11.5m.’

He added that the hotel would apply to the Guinness Book of World Records to find out if its tree is the most expensive ever.

Asked if the tree might offend religious sensibilities in the United Arab Emirates, where the vast majority of the population is Muslim, Mr Olbertz said: ‘It’s a very liberal country.’

The hotel has had Christmas trees up in previous years, but this year ‘had to do something different’ and the hotel’s marketing team came up with the idea.

It is not the first extravagant offering at the Emirates Palace — a massive, dome-topped hotel surrounded by manicured lawns and fountains.

Billed as a seven-star hotel, it introduced a seven-day stay in February costing $1million.

Guests who take up the offer have a private butler and a chauffeur-driven Maybach luxury car during their stay, as well as a private jet available for trips to other countries in the region.

And in May, the hotel became the first place outside Germany to install a gold vending machine.

           — Hat tip: doxRaven[Return to headlines]

The Arab Spring in Jordan: King Compelled to Make Concessions to Protest Movement

Since January 2011, Jordan has seen a growing wave of protests and calls for reform by citizens, who have steadily increased the level of their demands. The protests are led by the Islamist movement, which dominates the political opposition, and by the popular protest movement, which encompasses numerous pro-reform organizations established in the recent months. Also prominent in the protest movement are organizations representing Jordan’s tribal population, which for decades was considered the powerbase of the Hashemite regime. In recent years, this population has developed a growing sense of resentment and discrimination as a result of the economic policy advanced by the Jordanian king. This has triggered the emergence of several pro-reform organizations representing the tribes. Political oppositionists have also intensified their criticism against the regime; prominent among them is Islamist oppositionist Laith Shbailat, as well as the former prime minister and chief of the General Intelligence Directorate (GID), Ahmad ‘Obeidat, who has recently emerged as a leading oppositionist and established the National Front for Reform.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Bangladesh: ‘I’Ve Got a Surprise for You’: Husband Blindfolds His Wife…. and Then Chops Off Her Fingers to Stop Her Studying for a Degree

A jealous husband is facing life in prison after chopping off his wife’s fingers because she began studying for a degree without his permission.

Rafiqul Islam, 30, blindfolded his wife Hawa Akhter, 21, and taped her mouth, telling her he was going to give her a surprise present.

Instead he made her hold out her hand and cut off all five fingers. One of his relatives then threw Ms Akhter’s fingers in the dustbin to ensure doctors could not reattach them.

Mr Islam, who is a migrant worker in the United Arab Emirates, had warned his wife there would ‘severe consequences’ if she did not give up her studies.

‘After he came back to Bangladesh, he wanted to have a discussion with me,’ Ms Akhter told The Times.

‘Suddenly, he blindfolded me and tied my hand. He also taped my mouth saying that he would give me some surprise gifts. But, instead he cut off my fingers.’

Mohammed Saluddin, the Bangladesh police chief said that Mr Islam had confessed after he was arrested in the capital, Dhaka, and will face charges of permanent disfiguration.

Human rights groups are demanding life imprisonment.

‘He was enraged. He was jealous because while he only had a grade eight standard education, she was off to college to pursue higher studies,’ said Mr Saluddin.

Ms Akhter says she is learning to write with her left hand and is determined to resume her studies. She is now back at her parent’s house.

The attack is the latest in a series of acts targeting educated women in the Muslim-majority company.

In June, an unemployed man gouged out the eyes of his wife, an assistant professor at Dhaka University, apparently because he could not stand her pursuing higher studies at a Canadian University.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Bangladesh: Man Accused of Cutting Off Student Wife’s Fingers

Rafiqul Islam tied up his 21-year-old wife, taped up her mouth and then cut off the five fingers of her right hand just hours after he had returned from the United Arab Emirates, police chief Mohammad Salauddin said. “He was enraged because he did not like her studying at college. He was jealous because while he only had a grade 8 standard education, she was off to college to pursue higher studies,” Mr Salahuddin told AFP. Islam, 30, admitted to the crime after he was arrested in Dhaka, Salauddin said, adding that police had finished an investigation and would charge Islam with permanent disfiguration, which is punishable by life imprisonment.

The wife, Hawa Akhter, who has received medical treatment and is now back at her parent’s house, has said that she is still keen to complete her studies despite the attack. “My right hand has been cut off, but I can use my other hand,” she told local English-language newspaper The Daily Star.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

India: Muslims to Expose Congress Reservation Ploy

On the occasion of World Minority Day on Sunday, various Muslim organisations have arranged a convention of community intellectuals to “expose the poll gimmick of the Congress” and demand reservation for Muslims. The event will be held in Farrukhabad, the constituency of Union law minister Salman Khurshid who had recently said the Centre was working to give reservation to Muslims within the existing quota. According to Zafaryab Gilani, All India Muslim Personal Law Board member, the Congress was cheating the community by raising the reservation issue. “We doubt the UPA’s intention as it’s not talking about separate reservation for Muslims,” he said.

Surprisingly, the main speaker at the event will be Ashok Yadav, MLA from Shikohabad. He is the man on whose plea in 2002 the SC had stayed an ordinance passed by then UP government to remove the creamy layer from the OBC list and include backward Muslims in the 27 per cent quota. Yadav, when asked, said he’ll move court again against any move to curtail the OBC quota. “I’ll tell Muslims that the UPA is cheating them. I am not against reservation. But we can’t allow encroachment in the OBC quota,” he said. Rizwan Taj, Akhil Bharatiya Muslim Mahasabha chief, said: “Khurshid knows reservation on a religious basis won’t be possible without a constitutional amendment.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Tajikistan: Dushanbe Mayor Demands Review of Local Imam-Hatibs’ Activity

DUSHANBE — Dushanbe Mayor Makhmadsaid Ubaiduloyev December 13 asked the Tajik Islamic Centre’s Council of Scholars to examine the activity of the imam-hatibs of all mosques in the city. Ubaiduloyev made the request “to remove alien and provocative influence among the citizenry and to improve the religious atmosphere,” mayoral spokesman Shavkat Saidov said. A few days ago, the Council of Scholars closed the Mukhamadiya mosque and accused the politically prominent Turadzhonzoda family of using Ashura to spread conflict among the population. The Turadzhonzoda family has not commented publicly. The State Committee on Religion tested the religious knowledge of the country’s imam-hatibs earlier this year. In the first six months, it fired 39 of 327 imam-hatibs who underwent testing.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Veena Malik Goes Missing in Mumbai

Mumbai: Controversial Pakistani actress and model Veena Malik has gone missing in Mumbai since Friday morning, her manager said here Saturday. Shooting for a Bollywood flick, ‘Mumbai 125 kilometres’, at Film City in Goregaon of northwest Mumbai, Malik left in a car after pack-up Friday morning and was not reachable since.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Far East

China: Land Grab in Guangdong and Jiangxi Trigger Peaceful Demonstrations and Suicides

Southern China is increasingly rent by social unrest and class conflict. Residents in Wukan (Guangdong) protest again against government injustices. In Xiangtan, two peasant women try to kill themselves after their land is seized. “Mass incidents” are on the rise.

Beijing (AsiaNews) — In China social unrest is growing in intensity. After strikes hit Shanghai, it is the turn of the rich southern province of Guangdong to experience mass incidents. In Wukan village, thousands of residents staged a peaceful protest to protest against government repression. In Xiangtan, Jiangxi (another southern province), two peasant women tried to commit suicide after the authorities seized their land unlawfully.

In Wukan, thousands of residents took to the streets to protest against a decision by local authorities to deem illegal their petitions to the central government.

For the past two months, residents have been involved in a number of actions after farmland was seized on 21 September. On that occasion, when they took to the streets, they were met by police.

Yesterday, they were back in the streets accusing the government of not respecting its promises. Some carried a banner reading “Opposing Dictatorship”.

Despite such petitions, Beijing is ignoring grassroots demands. Instead, it has launched a crackdown and arrested protest movement’s leaders.

In some cases, matters are getting out of hand. Peaceful protests are turning violent and farmers are taking their own lives to protest the injustice they endure, which is what happened in Xiangtan, where two peasant women tried to kill themselves out of desperation after their land was forcibly seized.

Zhao Xiujun and Liu Lan lost their three mu (0.5 acres) of land, which the government bought at 20,000 yuan per mu and resold for 900,000. The first woman slashed her wrist with a knife and the other drank pesticide. Both are currently in intensive care.

The authorities seize land for resale to private developers in order to fuel the real estate bubble, which economists believe is close to its bursting point. In the past two months, housing prices have in fact started to come down for the time in many years across the country, including Beijing and Shanghai.

Under Chinese law, local administrations must pay expropriated farmers a fair price, but this is often not the case. And the seized land is often used in infrastructure plans profusely funded by big banks.

The ongoing land grab and the failure to pay fair or any compensation are the root cause of so-called “mass incidents”. In 1994, some 8,700 such incidents were recorded. In 2006, there were 127,000. Last year, the number jumped to 180,000.

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

Sub-Saharan Africa

South Africa: ‘We’ll Teach the Whites’

AfriForum charged police officer Juda Dagane with hate speech at the Human Rights Commission on Wednesday and called for his dismissal from the service. This, after the publication in Beeld newspaper of “blatant racist utterances Dagane had recently made on a Facebook page”, the organisation said in a statement.

It said the page had been launched in support of suspended ANC Youth League president Julius Malema. “When the black Messiah (Nelson Mandela) dies, we’ll teach the whites. We’ll commit genocide against them: I hate whites,” Dagane posted on the Facebook page on November 19, according to the report in Beeld.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Uganda: Kyotera Muslims Leadership Wrangles Escalate

The wrangles between the two Muslims factions in Nakasoga Mosque, Rakai district have escalated leading to the intervention of the government. Today, the Muslims in Kyotera mosque who pay allegiance to the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council Mufti, Sheikh Shaban Mubaje rejected the Imam Ismail Muwawu who pays allegiance to the Supreme Mufti, Sheikh Zubair Kayongo to lead the Juma prayer. The Mubaje faction wanted the prayers to be led by Sheikh Sulaiman Luyinda. The likely outbreak of chaos led the worshipers to pray amidst tight security from the police. The Kayongo faction conducted their Juma prayers in the compound while the Mubaje faction prayed within the mosque. The fragile situation that is likely to result into bloodshed has forced the Rakai RDC, David Kaboyo to call for a harmonization meeting between these factions.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Europe-Regions: Schengen: EU, Deal on Free Travel Stop

Protection clause on visa liberalisation

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, DECEMBER 14 — The European Commission has presented a proposal to the EU member States that introduces a ‘protection clause’ for the member States in the context of the current visa liberalisation regime for the Schengen area.

The goal of the measure is to give countries the possibility to temporarily require visitors from third countries, who are now allowed to travel freely within the Schengen area, like Albanians, to show a visa. The current regulations do not include this possibility, they only give countries the choice between a regime with or without visas. The European Council has agreed in principle with the proposal and has allowed countries to implement the clause if they see “a sudden and sharp increase” in the number of “clearly unfounded” asylum requests, or requests that are not in line with current conditions for international protection.” The visa liberalisation regime for citizens from third countries like Albanians, Bosnians, Serbs and Montenegrins means that there citizens can travel freely within the Schengen area (all EU member States except the UK and Ireland, plus Switzerland, Norway and Iceland) if they stay three months or less in the country of destination. After the measure was approved last year, some EU countries, Belgium for example, have recorded an increase in the number of groundless asylum requests by citizens from Balkan countries. The proposal will now be examined by the European Parliament.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Spain: Use of Day-After Pill Up 83% in 2010

It was first year of non-prescription availability

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, DECEMBER 14 — In Spain, the use of the so-called ‘day after’ contraception pill rose by 83% in 2010, the first year in which women were able to purchase the medication freely in pharmacies, without a doctor’s prescription. According to consulting company IMS, as cited in today’s El Pais, the increase took off from October 2010 onwards, when the decree liberalising the sale of the pill came into effect. Sales of the pill in 2009 had shown growth of 43% year-on-year. A large part of the increase in sales of the drug, experts say, corresponds to a decrease in its distribution through hospitals and family planning clinics, which is no longer compulsory under the law. Up until 2009, the drug was only available freely from family-planning centres in Andalusia, Cantabria and the Madrid municipality. Experts say talk of ‘abuse’ of the pill is inappropriate as, according to research by Spain’s association for contraception, a mere 0.4% of women aged between 14 and 50 have used the pill more than once a year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UK: David Cameron: ‘We Are a Christian Country and We Should Not be Afraid to Say So’

Earlier today, David Cameron gave a keynote speech to Church of England members at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, celebrating the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. It was an unashamedly moral and pro-Christian speech. A flavour of what followed came in the introductory remarks, when Mr Cameron said “we are a Christian country. And we should not be afraid to say so.” His speech touched on some key themes, highlighted below.

Firstly, the Prime Minister paid tribute to the King James Bible’s cultural contributions: “Along with Shakespeare, the King James Bible is a high point of the English language… Like Shakespeare, the King James translation dates from a period when the written word was intended to be read aloud. And this helps to give it a poetic power and sheer resonance that in my view is not matched by any subsequent translation.”

Secondly, the Prime Minister explained the political legacy of the KJB: “The Bible runs through our political history in a way that is often not properly recognised. The history and existence of a constitutional monarchy owes much to a Bible in which Kings were anointed and sanctified with the authority of God and in which there was a clear emphasis on the respect for Royal Power and the need to maintain political order. Jesus said: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And yet at the same time, the Judeo-Christian roots of the Bible also provide the foundations for protest and for the evolution of our freedom and democracy. The Torah placed the first limits on Royal Power. And the knowledge that God created man in his own image was, if you like, a game changer for the cause of human dignity and equality.”

The Prime Minister extended this argument to praise the Bible’s role in inspiring Christian charities: “In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus says that whatever people have done “unto one of the least of these my brethren” they have done unto him. Just as in the past it was the influence of the church that enabled hospitals to be built, charities created, the hungry fed, the sick nursed and the poor given shelter so today faith based groups are at the heart of modern social action. … In total, there are almost 30,000 faith-based charities in this country, not to mention the thousands of people who step forward as individuals, as families, as communities, as organisations and yes, as churches and do extraordinary things to help build a bigger, richer, stronger, more prosperous and more generous society. And when it comes to the great humanitarian crises — like the famine in Horn of Africa — again you can count on faith-based organisations like Christian Aid, Tearfund, CAFOD, Jewish Care, Islamic Relief, and Muslim Aid to be at the forefront of the action to save lives.”

The Prime Minister then rejected the notion politicians shouldn’t “do God”, because Christianity has fundamentally shaped British civilisation. The Prime Minister said: “[A]s Margaret Thatcher once said, “we are a nation whose ideals are founded on the Bible.” Responsibility, hard work, charity, compassion, humility, self-sacrifice, love, pride in working for the common good and honouring the social obligations we have to one another, to our families and our communities these are the values we treasure. Yes, they are Christian values. And we should not be afraid to acknowledge that.”

Mr Cameron continued: “But they are also values that speak to us all — to people of every faith and none. And I believe we should all stand up and defend them. Those who oppose this usually make the case for secular neutrality. They argue that by saying we are a Christian country and standing up for Christian values weare somehow doing down other faiths. And that the only way not to offend people is not to pass judgement on their behaviour. I think these arguments are profoundly wrong. And being clear on this is absolutely fundamental to who we are as a people, what we stand for, and the kind of society we want to build.”

He then condemned a breakdown in morality in Britain, exemplified by the riots this summer: “Faith is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for morality. … And whether inspired by faith or not — that direction, that moral code, matters. Whether you look at the riots last summer, the financial crash and the expenses scandal, or the on-going terrorist threat from Islamist extremists around the world, one thing is clear: moral neutrality or passive tolerance just isn’t going to cut it anymore. Shying away from speaking the truth about behaviour, about morality, has actually helped to cause some of the social problems that lie at the heart of the lawlessness we saw with the riots.”

Mr Cameron moved on to say: Bad choices have too often been defended as just different lifestyles. To be confident in saying something is wrong is not a sign of weakness, it’s a strength. But we can’t fight something with nothing. As I’ve said if we don’t stand for something, we can’t stand against anything. One of the biggest lessons of the riots last Summer is that we’ve got stand up for our values if we are to confront the slow-motion moral collapse that has taken place in parts of our country these past few generations. … Frankly, we need a lot less of the passive tolerance of recent years and a much more active, muscular liberalism.”

The Prime Minister concluded: I believe the Church of England has a unique opportunity to help shape the future of our communities. But to do so it must keep on the agenda that speaks to the whole country. The future of our country is at a pivotal moment. The values we draw from the Bible go to the heart of what it means to belong in this country and you, as the Church of England, can help ensure that it stays that way.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: David Cameron Attacks Archbishop of Canterbury Branding Rowan Williams Out of Touch

DAVID Cameron launched a fierce attack on the Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday, branding Rowan Williams out of touch. The Church of England chief has angered ministers by questioning the coalition’s legitimacy and calling for a new tax on bankers. Dr Williams declared over the summer that nobody voted for the Government’s brutal policies on welfare, health and education that were casing such anger. Mr Cameron hit back with a speech, quoting Margaret Thatcher, as he declared Britain “a nation whose ideals are founded on the Bible”. The Prime Minister said: “The Church of England has a unique opportunity to help shape the future of our communities. But to do so it must keep on the agenda that speaks to the whole country.” The attack comes after Dr Williams declared that Jesus would spend Christmas with demonstrators at St Paul’s “sharing the risks, not just taking sides”. Mr Cameron was marking the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. The Tory leader declared: “The Bible has helped to give Britain a set of values and morals which make Britain what it is today.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Speak Up for Christianity, Cameron Tells Archbishop: PM Calls on the Church to Defend ‘Values and Moral Code’ Of the Bible

David Cameron last night called on the Archbishop of Canterbury to lead a return to the ‘moral code’ of the Bible.

In a highly personal speech about faith, the Prime Minister accused Dr Rowan Williams of failing to speak ‘to the whole nation’ when he criticised Government austerity policies and expressed sympathy with the summer rioters.

Mr Cameron declared Britain ‘a Christian country’ and said politicians and churchmen should not be afraid to say so.

He warned that a failure to ‘stand up and defend’ the values and morals taught by the Bible helped spark the riots and fuelled terrorism.

At Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford, where Dr Williams used to teach, Mr Cameron said the time has come for public figures to teach ‘right from wrong’, and questioned whether the Church of England has done enough to defend those values in the face of the ‘moral neutrality’ that pervades modern life.

And taking aim at the Archbishop, Mr Cameron tackled head-on his public criticisms of the Government over the last 12 months.

The speech was a bold Christmas gamble by Mr Cameron. In making a speech about religion, he did something that Tony Blair always longed to do but was talked out of by spin doctor Alastair Campbell, who flatly told him: ‘We don’t do God.’

The clash between the Government and Church is at its most acute since former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Robert Runcie clashed with Margaret Thatcher’s government in the 1980s.

The Prime Minister appeared emboldened by his opinion poll bounce since his decision to wield the veto during the Eurozone crisis summit in Brussels last week.

Admitting that he had ‘entered the lion’s den’ by addressing an audience of churchmen, Mr Cameron said: ‘I certainly don’t object to the Archbishop of Canterbury expressing his views on politics.

‘But just as it is legitimate for religious leaders to make political comments, he shouldn’t be surprised when I respond.

‘I believe the Church of England has a unique opportunity to help shape the future of our communities. But to do so it must keep on the agenda that speaks to the whole country.’

At an event to mark the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible, he said: ‘We are a Christian country and we should not be afraid to say so.

‘The Bible has helped to give Britain a set of values and morals which make Britain what it is today. Values and morals we should actively stand up and defend.

‘Whether you look at the riots last summer, the financial crash and the expenses scandal or the on-going terrorist threat from Islamist extremists around the world, one thing is clear, moral neutrality or passive tolerance just isn’t going to cut it any more.

‘Put simply, for too long we have been unwilling to distinguish right from wrong. “Live and let live” has too often become “do what you please”.

‘Bad choices have too often been defended as just different lifestyles. To be confident in saying something is wrong is not a sign of weakness, it’s a strength.’

Mr Cameron’s demands for a ‘moral code’ were directed at human rights apologists and Left-wing politicians who recoil from promoting Britain’s Christian heritage.

But they also covered the hand-wringing pronouncements of many senior churchmen, who refuse to condemn lawbreaking by rioters and show unwillingness to take on militant Islam for fear of offending Muslims.

The PM said an ‘almost fearful, passive tolerance of religious extremism’ had let Islamic extremism grow unchallenged and called for the promotion of ‘Christian values’ saying it was ‘profoundly wrong’ to believe that promoting Christianity would ‘do down other faiths’.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Why I Prefer the Beano to the Church Times

I was brought up in my grandfather’s newsagent’s shop and this meant that I got to read all the comics for free. The Dandy on Tuesdays and on Thursdays The Beano. How I looked forward to those days coming round each week. I have long since put away such childish things, but my weekly dose of hilarity comes these days on Fridays in the form of Church Times. Open it almost at random and you are guaranteed a mini Left-wing tract, half a dozen examples of begging the question and even, as Monty Python famously said, “A smile, a whistle and a logical inconsistency.” All this for a mere £1.60. But you have to provide your own whistle.

For a Left-wing rag, Church Times sometimes displays worrying signs of an instinctive conformism. Today, for instance, there is half a page devoted to the protests of some bishops and senior clergy about Cameron’s European policy. The Bishop of Guildford enjoys a good airing for saying: “It would be disastrous for Britain to be isolated from the rest of Europe.” The Bishop of Bradford put the federalist boot in too: “France and Germany have never known what to do with the UK. Even when we are in, we don’t seem to want to be.” All this report missed was the headline BISHOPS BASH TORY BRITAIN. But come on Church Times, surely you can do better than recycle such stereotypes and commonplaces? What, the bishops are Lefties? Gerraway! Now you tell us!

Also, “A senior church figure in Brussels” (was he too full of humility to be named?) complained: “Mr Cameron’s actions have sorely tested the goodwill of EU member states.” Well, Anonymous Ecclesiastical Sir/Madam, I don’t know about that. But I do know that the conniving attitude of many EU politicos towards Britain has sorely tested my goodwill. You would expect Church Times to show natural affection and strong support for the Occupy shambles outside St Paul’s, but even here we are likely to stumble over the sort of logical impediments discovered by Alice in her journey Through the Looking Glass. For example, prominent on the letters page is a comment bemoaning any criticism of the Occupy protesters:

The witness statement of the Registrar of St Paul’s cathedral accusing Occupy London of desecration and submitting photographs is a sad and unworthy denigration of people involved in a great movement. It is not right to blame them.

Not even when, on the writer’s own admission we have the photographic evidence depicting the disorder, damage and intimidation? Whom should we blame, then? I suppose, according to this twisted logic, it is all the fault of the cathedral clergy? I suppose right: “The Registrar can write only about the inconvenience of the congregation, clergy, staff and finances.” But it is precisely the job of the registrar to be concerned about these matters. That’s enough Church Times for me for one morning. Now where did I put my copy of The Dandy?

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Meet the Internet’s Newest Boy Genius

In my life I have met many smart people — Jeff Bezos, Andy Bechtolsheim, Larry Page, Andy Grove, Sergey Brin, Vinod Khosla and Bret Taylor. D’Aloisio belongs with them, I am convinced. Not because he has started the next hot company — who can predict what will be hot? But instead, he is a self-taught polymath, who is so adept at learning from reading, listening and observing. He is an old-fashioned technologist who was born this way.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

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

On November 26, the jihadi website Shumoukh Al-Islam posted an article by senior Al-Qaeda operative ‘Abdallah Al-’Adam, known as “Abu ‘Ubaida,” titled “The World on the Brink of Anarchy.” In it, he claims that the Arab countries will not stabilize but deteriorate into anarchy, because the Muslims, and especially the Arabs, are not suited for democracy and can be ruled “only by force or through religion.” He also claims that the U.S. is about to collapse, and that its demise will generate a global economic crisis so severe that it will pitch the entire world into anarchy. Abu ‘Ubaida advises the mujahideen to take advantage of the power vacuum that ensues throughout the world, and to prepare public opinion for the coming of the Caliphate. He also advises them to prepare for the wars that will come by amassing weapons and turning their paper money into gold.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]