Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120123

Financial Crisis
»Belgium’s New Prime Minister: ‘Europe Mustn’t Just Focus on Austerity’
»Davos Elites Want Reform of ‘Outdated’ Capitalism
»EU Commissioner Tells City of London to ‘Play the Game’
»Germany Resists Pleas for Bigger Bail-Out Fund
»IMF Head Wants ‘Larger Firewall’, ‘Eurobonds’ Against Crisis
»Nick Clegg: We Must Give IMF More Money to Save Europe
»Rehn Confident Greek Debt Deal to be Sealed ‘Shortly’
»Bonnie and Clyde Guns Sell for $210,000 at Auction
»Former CIA Officer Charged in Leaks
»God-Awful OWS Mob
»Missouri Muslims Rejoice New Islamic Center
»Muslim Growth Foreseen
»PLO’s DC Landlord May be Violating US Terror Laws
»Rand Paul Detained for Refusing TSA Pat-Down
»Subculture of Americans Prepares for Civilization’s Collapse
»Calgary Mosque Expansion Planned
Europe and the EU
»Belgian Academic Says Muslims in Europe Lack Religious Intellectual Leadership
»Border Communities Divided by Scottish Independence Debate
»Concern Over Germany Antisemitism Findings
»Delicate Operation: German Intelligence Watching Far-Left Politicians
»Denmark: Church Ministry to Change Name to Accommodate Muslims
»DSK Wife Says Private Life Separate From HuffPo Editorship
»Election Result a Pro-Euro Triumph: Finnish Press
»EU Becoming Less Tolerant, NGO Says
»France: Louvre’s Da Vinci Restoration Ignites Art World Row
»Germany:12 Cop Cars Burnt Out
»Germany: Honoring Composer and Bach-Fan Frederick the Great
»Germany: First of Four Centres to Train Islamic Scholars Opens
»Hungary: Pro-Government Supporters Demonstrate in Budapest
»Interview With Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister: ‘Hungary Should Have Voting Rights Withdrawn’
»Liberal Candidate Wins First Round of Finnish Vote
»Norway: Police Ignored Orders to Drive Past Utøya
»Norway: God’s Wrath May Have Sparked Attacks: Writer
»Statoil to Snap Up Chunk of Greenland Block
»Sweden: ‘God Only Knows’ What Could Have Been: Juholt
»Switzerland: Radical Muslim Group to Launch TV Station
»The Doomed Costa Concordia: A Maritime Disaster That Was Waiting to Happen
»Two More Italy Cruise Bodies Found
»UK: ‘Despicable’ Police Officer Who Raped Girl, Seven, Is Jailed for 18 Years
»UK: Four Patients Die Thirsty or Starving Every Day on Our Hospital Wards Show Damning New Statistics
»UK: How Freedom Goes
»UK: If the EDL Want to See Fair Play, They Should Call Off Their March
»UK: Joan Smith on ‘Intimidation’ of Islam Critics
»UK: Ministers Ban Extra Benefits for Multiple Wives
»UK: Oxford Finalists Are ‘Little Better Than a Level Students’, Claim Tutors
»UK: Prejudices About Islam Will be Shaken by This Show
»UK: Strong Religious Belief is No Excuse for Intimidation
»UK: Sharia Law Debate Attracts Threats of Violence at Queen Mary University
North Africa
»Coptic Monks Remain Outside a Changing Egypt
»Egypt’s New Parliament Opens for Its First Session
»Muslim Brotherhood to US Ambassador in Egypt: Sharia Law Ensures Personal Freedoms
»Tense Tunisia ‘Persepolis’ Trial Delayed Till April
Middle East
»EU Agrees Unprecedented Oil Embargo on Iran
»‘Unprecedented Sanctions’: EU Agrees on Tough Oil Embargo Against Iran
»New Russian Left Emerges to Oppose Putin
South Asia
»German ‘Spies’ Detained in Pakistan
»Handcuffed, Blindfolded and Shot in the Back of the Head: Taliban Releases Horrific Video of Executions of 15 Pakistani Soldiers
»India: Pressure on Kashmir Christians as Sharia Court Orders Expulsion
»India: Salman Rushdie May Address Jaipur Festival Via Video Link
Far East
»Big Tokyo Earthquake Likely ‘Within the Next Few Years’
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Violence in Nigeria
Culture Wars
»Beware the Humanitarian Racists
»Brave New World: UK Ethicist Wants Women to Abandon Motherhood and Use Artificial Wombs
»Obama Defends Roe v. Wade
»Pro-Abortion Occupy Group Disrupts March for Life Youth Rally
»Serbian Abortion Rate ‘At Epidemic Proportions’
»UK: Men Guilty of Anti-Gay Leaflets
»UK: NHS Pays for Controversial Puberty-Delaying Drugs to Aid Sex Changes Later in Life
»When Men Go to War, Blame Their Sex Drive: Males Evolved to be ‘Aggressive to Outsiders’, Says Psychology Study
»Hundreds of Meteorites Uncovered in Antarctica
»Islam Promotes Peace [Letter to the Gulf News, 23 January 2012]
»Trust in Government Has ‘Suffered a Severe Breakdown’
»Why Does Our Universe Have Three Dimensions?

Financial Crisis

Belgium’s New Prime Minister: ‘Europe Mustn’t Just Focus on Austerity’

Belgium’s new prime minister, Elio Di Rupo, met German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday on his first official visit to Germany. In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, the Socialist voices doubts about German ideas for solving the euro crisis, such as introducing balanced-budget laws across the EU, and argues for more efforts to boost growth.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Davos Elites Want Reform of ‘Outdated’ Capitalism

Economic and political elites meeting this week at the Swiss resort of Davos will be asked to urgently find ways to reform a capitalist system that has been described as “outdated and crumbling.” “We have a general morality gap, we are over-leveraged, we have neglected to invest in the future, we have undermined social coherence, and we are in danger of completely losing the confidence of future generations,” said Klaus Schwab, host and founder of the annual World Economic Forum.

“Solving problems in the context of outdated and crumbling models will only dig us deeper into the hole. “We are in an era of profound change that urgently requires new ways of thinking instead of more business-as-usual,” the 73-year-old said, adding that “capitalism in its current form, has no place in the world around us.”

Some 1,600 economic and political leaders, including 40 heads of states and governments, will be asked to come up with new ideas as they converge at eastern Switzerland’s chic ski station for the 42nd edition of the five-day World Economic Forum which opens on Wednesday. The eurozone’s failure to get a grip on its debt crisis and the spectre this is casting over the global economy will dominate discussions.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

EU Commissioner Tells City of London to ‘Play the Game’

(LONDON) — EU internal market commissioner Michel Barnier on Monday urged Britain to “play the European game” in dealing with the bloc over increased regulation for the financial services sector. Barnier told an audience of bankers in London that the EU “must not hinder the City’s energy”. “But I am sure it is in the City’s interest, and the wider British interest, to play the European game,” he added.

Prime Minister David Cameron refused to sign up to a new European Union treaty in December, when Britain’s partners turned down his demand that the City of London financial district be exempt from planned new regulations. Britain fears that tighter rules could force international banks to quit London — currently the centre of financial services in Europe — and re-locate to other jurisdictions.

Barnier insisted there was no “plot” to decrease the power of the City of London, but refused to back down on his demands that Britain should fall into line with the other 26 EU member states. “Contrary to what I have often read, there is no plot to undermine the City (and) no plot to boost Paris or Frankfurt at the expense of the City.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany Resists Pleas for Bigger Bail-Out Fund

German Finance Minister Schauble on Sunday rejected boosting the eurozone’s permanent bail-out fund, despite calls, reported in Spiegel magasine, by Italian PM Monti and ECB president Draghi that the fund be doubled in size. “We will see in March if (the current agreement) is sufficient,” he said on German television.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

IMF Head Wants ‘Larger Firewall’, ‘Eurobonds’ Against Crisis

(BERLIN) — IMF head Christine Lagarde set out Monday a raft of proposals to fight the eurozone crisis, including a bigger rescue fund, lower ECB rates and eurobonds as she warned of dimmer world growth prospects. In a wide-ranging speech at the German Council on Foreign Relations think tank in Berlin, Lagarde also called for an additional $500 billion for the IMF as it seeks to keep afloat countries battered by the crisis.

And she had a dire warning for policymakers if they failed to do what was necessary, saying the world could slide into a “1930s moment” of isolationism, which led to the Great Depression and eventually to world war. On the eurozone, Lagarde acknowledged that a great deal had already been accomplished but that the policies agreed so far “form pieces, but pieces only, of a comprehensive solution.”

She said the crisis-wracked eurozone had to focus on rediscovering growth as well as bolstering its defences against contagion from the debt turmoil and pulling closer together politically and economically.

To spur growth, she called indirectly on the European Central Bank to lower interest rates, already at a record low. With inflation falling sharply, “additional and timely monetary easing will be important,” she said. “We need a larger firewall,” she added. “Without it, countries like Italy and Spain that are fundamentally able to repay their debts could be forced into a solvency crisis by abnormal financing costs.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Nick Clegg: We Must Give IMF More Money to Save Europe

NICK CLEGG sparked fury yesterday after insisting Britain must contribute more to the International Monetary Fund to shore up the ailing world economy.

The UK is expected to be asked to put in more funds as the IMF seeks to raise an additional £320billion.

Britain is liable for 4.5 per cent of the IMF’s £256billion lending capacity. The rise means we could be in for donating another £17billion.

The Deputy Prime Minister said the Government must respond positively, claiming: “We always must be strong supporters of the IMF. It is a linchpin in creating stability.”

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Rehn Confident Greek Debt Deal to be Sealed ‘Shortly’

“Talks have been moving forward at a technical level, I am confident we can conclude negotiations on PSI shortly, preferably this week,” EU finance commissioner Olli Rehn said on his way into a meeting of eurozone finance ministers about the Greek negotiations with bankers on a voluntary debt restructuring.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Bonnie and Clyde Guns Sell for $210,000 at Auction

Two guns believed to have been used by notorious US outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow have exceeded expectations at acution. A fully automatic Thompson submachine gun, known as a ‘Tommy gun’ went for $130,000, four times the estimate. A Winchester shotgun fetched $80,000. Both went to an American east coast collector.

The weapons are believed to have been retrieved from the hiding place of the criminal gang lead by Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow in Joplin, Missouri, during a police raid in April 1933. Back then the criminals shot two cops and escaped, leaving the weapons behind. Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker terrorised the mid-west United States during the early 1930s robbing banks, and killing people. Bonnie and Clyde and their gang are believed to have killed at least nine police officers and a number of civilians.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Former CIA Officer Charged in Leaks

The Justice Department on Monday charged a former CIA officer with repeatedly leaking classified information, including the identities of agency operatives involved in the capture and interrogation of alleged terrorists.

The case against John Kiriakou, who also served as a senior Senate aide, extends the Obama administration’s crackdown on disclosures of national security secrets. Kiriakou, 47, is the sixth target of a leaks-related prosecution since President Obama took office, exceeding the total number of comparable prosecutions under all previous administrations combined, legal experts said.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

God-Awful OWS Mob

There’s no longer room at the inn at a Manhattan church that’s sheltering Occupy Wall Streeters after a holy vessel disappeared from the altar last week.

When the Rev. Bob Brashear prepared for Sunday services at West Park Presbyterian Church on West 86th Street, he noticed parts of the bronze baptismal font were gone.

In a fire-and-brimstone message to occupiers later that day, he thundered, “It was like pissing on the 99 percent.”

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Missouri Muslims Rejoice New Islamic Center

ROLLA (Missouri, USA), 29 Safar/23 Jan (IINA)-Fulfilling a four-year dream, the growing Muslim community of Rolla opened on Friday, January 20, a new Islamic center to accommodate its growing needs, inviting other faiths to share their joy, the Rolla Daily News reported. “If there is anyone who ever wondered, ‘Who are these guys and what are they doing inside that building?’ I hope they will be here,” Islamic Center of Rolla Building Committee Advisor Haitham Shtaieh said. Planned since 2007, the Islamic center was suggested to accommodate a growing Muslim population in Rolla that has more than doubled in the last five years. Following months of hard work, the center was finally ready for worshippers.

“Previously, we had people overflowing the mosque,” Building Committee member Dr. Syed Huq said. “People were praying on the sidewalks.” Hosting Muslims daily and Friday prayers, the center would also include a warming kitchen, a children’s play area, a women’s lounge and a set of classrooms. The classrooms would be used to teach children about their faith while their parents attend Friday services. “It’s basically the equivalent to Sunday school,” Shtaieh said.

Moreover, the mosque building committee hopes the new center would encourage Muslim students to take residence in Missouri, especially foreign students from traditionally Muslim countries. “Having this building makes it easier for those students and also for the university to recruit those students,” Building Committee member Ghulam Bhan said. Therefore, the Muslim Student Association Islamic was so active in raising funds for the center, which was financed completely through private donations. “There have been some questions about where the money was coming from and if the university contributed money to this building, and the answer to that is absolutely not,” Shtaieh said. “Most of the money comes from these students hopping in their cars and going to other mosques across the country and asking for donations.” The center is still seeking donations, as the building has very few furnishings and will require upkeep, Shtaieh added.

At the opening ceremony, members of the Islamic center building committee hailed the welcoming atmosphere they have been enjoying at Rolla city. “When I came in 2009, I was a bit unsure of how people would perceive me as a Muslim,” committee member Faraj Muhammad said. Pleasantly surprised by what he found, Muhammad confirmed he has never felt discriminated against and found the community of Rolla very accepting of their values and beliefs. MSA Center Representative Anan Takroori agreed. “For me, it feels normal to do anything that a normal student would do,” Takroori said. “In fact, I get a lot of respect from other students and faculty at the university for my work with the Islamic Center.” Reflecting this understanding, the committee members employed Rolla contractor Jim Larson to construct the $1.3 million facility. They also joke that everything was bought in Rolla, except the prayer hall carpeting which were imported from Turkey.

Since 9/11, US Muslims, estimated between six to seven million, have become sensitized to an erosion of their civil rights, with a prevailing belief that America was stigmatizing their faith. Anti-Muslim sentiments have grown sharply in the US in recent months over plans to build a mosque near the site of the 9/11 attacks in New York, resulting in attacks on Muslims and their property. This has prompted many American Muslims to float initiatives to reach out to the public to help change the negative view about the sizable minority.

Members of Rolla Islamic center and the MSA have participated in community outreach programs including volunteering at food banks at Christian churches. They also cooperated in taking water and other supplies to assist in the relief efforts following the EF-5 tornado that struck the Joplin in May.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Muslim Growth Foreseen

New mosque a drawing card

Rolla, Mo. — With the completion of the new Islamic Center of Rolla, the number of Muslims in the community is expected to grow steadily — and likely rapidly. “We do. Absolutely,” Haitham A. Shtaieh, chairman of the construction committee for the new center, said when asked if he and the committee expect the new and expanded mosque will encourage more Muslims to choose Rolla as a home, either temporarily as students or permanently. Shtaieh noted the number of high school students is dropping globally, so colleges and universities will be using many community features and benefits to attract that diminishing pool of students. “Missouri S&T is quite aggressive in recruiting students,” Shtaieh said, adding that letting Middle Eastern students who are considering engineering schools know that there is a new mosque here will be advantageous.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

PLO’s DC Landlord May be Violating US Terror Laws

Shurat Hadin also warns telecoms company Verizon of legal consequences of providing services to PLO.

Israeli human rights group Shurat Hadin (the Israel Law Center) sent a letter on on Monday to the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO)’s Washington, DC landlord, Endeka Enterprises LLC , warning that providing premises to the organization could violate anti-terror laws. The Law Center also sent a similar legal warning to Verizon, the telecoms company that provides telephone services to the PLO’s Washington mission.

The PLO has maintained a Mission to the United States in Washington, DC since 1994, and the operation incorporates several departments, including political, consular and government affairs.

According to Law Center director attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, by providing services to the PLO, Verizon and Endeka Enterprises could fall foul of strict US anti-terror laws, which prohibit providing terror groups with material assistance.

In their letters to Endeka and Verizon, the Law Center say that any provision of material support or resources to the PLO violates the criminal and civil provisions of the United States Code, and of the criminal provisions of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act

The Law Center also references a 2010 US Supreme Court decision, Holder vs. Humanitarian Law Project, which found that providing any assistance or support — even if that support is apparently benign -to designated terror groups is a criminal act.

Providing premises or telephone services to terror groups “would constitute the type of seemingly innocuous support that would render companies criminally and civilly liable,” the Law Center said.

An umbrella organization, the PLO is comprised of several constituents, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PLFP), officially designated as a “Foreign Terror Group” under US law.

In December, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) — also designated terror groups under US law — reached a strategic partnership agreement with the PLO whereby they agreed to join a provisional PLO leadership. Since PLO funding is shared among its constituents, Hamas and the PIJ will be recipients of PLO finances, the Law Center said.

“The PFLP, which is a designated terrorist organization that American citizens and companies are prohibited from providing services to, is an integral part of the PLO and shares the PLO’s budget,” said Darshan-Leitner. “By providing services to the PLO, companies like Endeka Enterprises and Verizon are in fact providing service to and benefitting the PFLP, and are thereby violating federal antiterrorism laws, and aiding and abetting Palestinian terrorism.”

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Rand Paul Detained for Refusing TSA Pat-Down

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was detained Monday morning by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

The incident was reported by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), the senator’s father, on his Twitter page. TSA later confirmed the incident, saying Paul had been escorted from a security area for refusing a pat-down.

Rep. Paul said his son, who was elected to the Senate in 2010, refused to take a pat-down from TSA officals at the Nashville International Airport, which led to his detainment.

“My son @SenRandPaul being detained by TSA for refusing full body pat-down after anomaly in body scanner in Nashville,”

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Subculture of Americans Prepares for Civilization’s Collapse

“In an instant, anything can happen,” she told Reuters. “And I firmly believe that you have to be prepared.”

Tegeler is among a growing subculture of Americans who refer to themselves informally as “preppers.” Some are driven by a fear of imminent societal collapse, others are worried about terrorism, and many have a vague concern that an escalating series of natural disasters is leading to some type of environmental cataclysm.

They are following in the footsteps of hippies in the 1960s who set up communes to separate themselves from what they saw as a materialistic society, and the survivalists in the 1990s who were hoping to escape the dictates of what they perceived as an increasingly secular and oppressive government.

Preppers, though are, worried about no government.

Tegeler, 57, has turned her home in rural Virginia into a “survival center,” complete with a large generator, portable heaters, water tanks, and a two-year supply of freeze-dried food that her sister recently gave her as a birthday present. She says that in case of emergency, she could survive indefinitely in her home. And she thinks that emergency could come soon.

“I think this economy is about to fall apart,” she said.

A wide range of vendors market products to preppers, mainly online. They sell everything from water tanks to guns to survival skills.

Conservative talk radio host Glenn Beck seems to preach preppers’ message when he tells listeners: “It’s never too late to prepare for the end of the world as we know it.”

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]


Calgary Mosque Expansion Planned

CALGARY (Canada),29 Safar/23 Jan (IINA)- Muslims in the Canadian city of Calgary will be moving to a new location at the center of the town, offering worshippers a larger space for prayers and more convenient location close to their work locations. “We have been trying for some time to have some presence in the downtown,” Iman Syed Soharwardy from Al Madinah Calgary Islamic Centre told Calgary Herald. This is a huge building, so we are on about 3,000 square feet.” Occupying its location in the northeast neighborhood of Falconridge, the Islamic center will be moving to a new location. The opening of the new mosque is scheduled on Jan. 27 on the memory of the birth of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

The new location will be the site for five daily prayers, Friday and Eid prayers. It would also host youth and children’s and adults’ Qur’an and Islamic studies classes, women-only programs, interfaith dialogue and community events. Every Friday, the weekly prayers would be held at 12:30 pm and include a free lunch for everyone — Muslims and non-Muslims.

Located at the center of the town, the location will make it more convenient to working Muslim to attend prayers during work hours. “A lot of people work downtown. This will definitely help people to come for Friday prayers,” Soharwardy says. “There’s also a very large population (of Muslims) downtown.” The Muslim community also has plans to build a school and mosque in the northeast community of Saddle Ridge. That project is awaiting development permit approval from the city. Muslims make around 1.9 percent of Canada’s 32.8 million population, and Islam is the number one non-Christian faith in the Roman Catholic country. A survey has showed the overwhelming majority of Muslims are proud to be Canadian.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Belgian Academic Says Muslims in Europe Lack Religious Intellectual Leadership

BRUSSELS,29 Safar/23 Jan (IINA)- A Belgian professor of sociology and researcher on Islam Felice Dassetto is calling on rich Muslim countries to assist in establishing Islamic theological schools and faculties in Europe to overcome the gap in intellectual leadership of European Muslims. “One of the major problems Muslims in Europe face, except perhaps for UK, is the absence of religious intellectual leadership,” said Dassetto who teaches sociology in the University of Leuven and has published three books on Islam. In an interview with the Kuwait news agency, KUNA, he explained that the reason for this vacuum is the absence of Islamic theological faculties in Europe. He said Gulf countries like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia can help in the establishment of such Islamic faculties in Europe. “They must help because the European Muslim must be in contact with the Muslim world,” said the Belgian academic. However, he stressed that Muslim countries must accept that Muslims in Europe will develop their own specific interpretation and autonomous way of Islamic thought.

Dassetto, who is a member of the Royal academy of Belgium, said he became interested in the anthropology and sociology of Islam after the first arrival of Muslim immigrants from Morocco, Turkey and other countries to Belgium in the end of 70s. “It was a new fact in Belgian and European societies when Muslim immigrants started building mosques and Islam became visible and from sociological viewpoint if was very interesting because it was new reality,” he stressed. He published his books in French titled “Islam transplanted” in 1984, his second book titled “Islam in Europe” in 1992 and in 2011 he published his study on Muslims in Brussels titled the “Iris and the Crescent.” The flower Iris is symbol of Brussels.

More than 20 percent of the population of Brussels is of Muslim origin coming from Morocco, Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other African countries. Dassetto whose origins are from Italy said Europe is now also Muslim continent and Brussels is now also a Muslim town which means that acceptance of the fact that Muslims are here to stay. There are 77 mosques or prayer rooms in Brussels and over 300 across Belgium, he noted. The Belgian scholar, however, laments that among the 77 imams or prayer leaders in Brussels there are only two or three who can speak Dutch or French, the official languages of Belgium. “It is nearly thirty years that Islam came to Belgium and it is not possible that after thirty years to continue like this.” he said. Under Belgian law it is obligatory in public schools to teach religion and the Belgian state pays to 800 Muslim teachers who teach Islam to school children.

But most of these teachers are not trained because there is no institution to train them and their knowledge of Islam is also limited to reading a few books, he noted. “The Belgian state is spending a huge amount of money on tuis. This is a unique case in Europe” underlined the Belgian intellectual. He said the current tendency is to import to Europe the model of Islamic studies in the Muslim world.”But you cannot transfer the reality of Islam for example in Turkey or Morocco directly to Europe. This is for me the big challenge to develop a Muslim theological faculty in Europe,” he said.

After the September 11 attacks in the US, Dassetto published a brochure called “Islam of the new century” in which he argued that September 11 was a shift for the Muslims and a clear dissociation from violent acts in particular in Belgium. The Belgian professor thinks that there are some politicians and political parties in Europe who are hostile to Muslim but they are in a minority and that there is a general acceptance of Islam. “There are some questions in the European mind about radicalisation or relations between women and men but this does not mean that there is hostility. It means we need a debate because the presence of Islam in Europe is an extraordinary new fact and for Muslims living in a non-Muslim context is also an extraordinary new fact,” he told KUNA.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Border Communities Divided by Scottish Independence Debate

With Scotland heading towards a referendum on becoming an independent state, those living in the border communities are split over whether — and how — to break away from the rest of the United Kingdom.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Concern Over Germany Antisemitism Findings

A report into antisemitism in Germany has found that the country has a problem with entrenched hostility towards Jews. According to the survey, which was commissioned in 2009 by the German parliament to look into antisemitism, some 20 per cent of citizens display anti-Jewish attitudes. The report showed children using the word “Jew” as a slur as well as sports fans chanting that Jews should be sent to the gas chambers and making other offensive Holocaust references. The internet was cited as a particular problem in spreading these attitudes. While the authors noted that antisemitism was still a tactic employed by far-right movements, they said that anti-Jewish hostility remained among at least a fifth of ordinary German society. They said that Germany had less of a problem with antisemitism than countries including Poland or Portugal, but added that there was “a wider acceptance in mainstream society of day-to-day anti-Jewish tirades and actions”. Peter Longerich, one of the report’s authors, said: “ Antisemitism in our society is based on widespread prejudices, deeply rooted cliche’s and on sheer ignorance about Jews and Judaism.” The vice-president of a group representing Holocaust survivors said the report’s findings had left him deeply shaken. “We commend the authorities for honestly exposing and confronting the scope of the problem,” said Elan Steinberg of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants. “The tragic legacy of the Nazi era places a special burden on Germany to confront anti-Jewish hate.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Delicate Operation: German Intelligence Watching Far-Left Politicians

More than one-third of the far-left Left Party’s parliamentarians are under observation by Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, SPIEGEL has learned. Much larger than previously thought, the operations cost nearly 400,000 euros a year. Critics worry it’s disproportionate to surveillance of the right-wing extremist NPD party.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Denmark: Church Ministry to Change Name to Accommodate Muslims

The Church Ministry should be renamed in order to accommodate the growing population of Muslims in Denmark. This is the wish of the left wing of the Parliamentary Church Committee, said TV2 News. Instead, Church Ministry should be renamed to Ministry of Philosophy of Life. — People have all kinds of faiths and philosophies of life, and we must accommodate, says SF Vigsø Pernille Bagge.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

DSK Wife Says Private Life Separate From HuffPo Editorship

The editor of the new French version of news website the Huffington Post insisted Monday that her private life as wife of shamed IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn will not affect its coverage. At the launch of the site, Anne Sinclair, who was a well-known journalist in France before gaining worldwide celebrity as Strauss-Kahn’s grimly loyal partner, said: “I do not mix private and professional life.”

Eyebrows were raised when US millionaire socialite and liberal blogger Arianna Huffington chose Sinclair to head the French version of her site, after her starring role in last year’s most sensational political scandal. Strauss-Kahn was forced to resign from the International Monetary Fund in May last year after he was charged with sexually assaulting a New York hotel maid. Charges were later dropped, but he remains dogged by scandal.

Sinclair, a former television anchor and the multi-millionaire heiress to an art fortune, stood by her husband throughout — funding his exorbitant defence costs — and is now making her own return to public life. Speaking with Huffington at a packed Paris news conference, she said that neither her relationship with her husband — who admits living a free sexual life — nor her support for his Socialist Party would influence her work.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Election Result a Pro-Euro Triumph: Finnish Press

(HELSINKI) — Finland’s weekend presidential election, in which two pro-EU candidates advanced to a second round run-off, is a triumph for euro-friendly policies and for tolerance, media said Monday. “The first round showed the position of the majority of Finns on the Europe question,” an editorial in the Salon Seudun Sanomat, a regional daily, read.

Sauli Niinistoe, the conservative National Coalition favourite going into the poll, won 37.0 percent of Sunday’s vote to Green League Pekka Haavisto’s 18.8 percent. Niinistoe, a 63-year-old career politician who was instrumental in leading Finland into the eurozone as finance minister from 1996-2003, will face Haavisto in a second round run-off on February 5.

At 53, the openly-gay Haavisto is also pro-European and has strong green credentials forged as environment and development minister. “There is no doubt that Haavisto’s qualification for the second round is some kind of backlash against parochialism,” said Tampere-based regional daily Aamulehti.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

EU Becoming Less Tolerant, NGO Says

BRUSSELS — Racist mobs in Greece and Hungary, mistreatment of Roma, Arab migrants and Muslim terrorist suspects and a feeble reaction by EU institutions point to a worrying right-wing shift inside the European Union, according to US-based NGO Human Rights Watch. The most shocking racist attack in Europe last year saw Norwegian Anders Breivik kill 77 people in what he called a campaign to stop the continent being taken over by Islam.

In less-well documented incidents, a far-right mob in Greece in May stormed a Pakistani suburb hospitalising 25 people, some with stab wounds. In April in Hungary, the Red Cross evacuated 277 Roma because right-wing vigilantes held military-type drills beside their homes. The Human Rights Watch report pulls no punches in linking the extreme cases to bad leadership by EU governments.

It said the Breivik attack “(echoed) what has increasingly become mainstream debate in Europe” and “highlighted the dangers of unchecked intolerance” in countries such as France, which banned the Muslim veil, and the Netherlands, whose courts gave far-right politician Geert Wilders special “latitude” to voice anti-Islamic ideas. The report named and shamed nine EU member states — France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the UK — as displaying a swing toward right-wing politics on issues ranging from asylum seekers to gay rights.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France: Louvre’s Da Vinci Restoration Ignites Art World Row

Delicate work to restore a Leonardo Da Vinci masterpiece, to be unveiled in March, has turned into a headache for the Louvre, after experts accused the Paris museum of putting the precious oil work at risk. Da Vinci began painting “The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne” in 1503 and when he died in France in 1519 the unfinished work, depicting Christ beside his mother and grandmother with a sacrificial lamb, was acquired by King Francis I.

Restoration carried out in the past century left the “Saint Anne” disfigured by stains, on the Virgin’s dress for instance, due to the ageing of a substance in the varnish and in 2010 the museum decided to restore the work once more. The “Saint Anne” is to be unveiled to the public in March as the highlight of a major exhibition built around it.

But the project hit a rock last autumn as critics warned that cleaning could damage the masterpiece, and two experts have since resigned in protest from the advisory committee set up to oversee the work. Both are art world heavyweights: Segolene Bergeon Langle, who left in December, is a French national heritage curator, while Jean-Pierre Cuzin who left in the autumn is former chief curator of the Louvre’s painting department.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany:12 Cop Cars Burnt Out

Twelve police cars were set on fire in the eastern German town of Magdeburg early Monday morning. While investigators suspect arson, the exact circumstances of the fire remain unclear. The brand new cars were set on fire on the grounds of a car dealer, where they were waiting to be handed over to the city’s police on Tuesday.

One civilian car also went up in the conflagration, which was spotted by a passer-by who called the police at 4 am Monday morning. The cost of the damage from the fire is thought to total €500,000, but most of the cars were completely burnt out, some could still be repaired, according to a police spokesman.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: Honoring Composer and Bach-Fan Frederick the Great

Prussia’s most famous king is regarded as an enlightened monarch and disciplined soldier. The multitalented man had a love of music that went well beyond the practical value music held for his public image.

Frederick II (1712-1786) wrote a history of Prussia, prose, poems, plays and opera libretti. He had a keen interest in the Enlightenment in France, entertaining a friendship with the writer and philosopher Voltaire. The cosmopolitan ruler — affectionately nicknamed Frederick the Great by his subjects — seldom spoke German. Instead, he preferred to speak and write in French, but was also versed in English, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. Arguably his favorite language of all, though, was music.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: First of Four Centres to Train Islamic Scholars Opens

TUBINGEN (Germany),29 Safar/23 Jan (IINA)-The first of four centres for Islamic theology was officially opened last week at the University of Tübingen in southern Germany. All four will begin teaching later this year. At Tübingen, the first 36 students have already enrolled for a bachelor degree in Islamic theology, starting next winter. Like two others, one split between Münster and Osnabrück and the other between Frankfurt and Giessen, which are to be officially opened later this year, the Tübingen centre started its academic activities last October. A fourth, located at Erlangen and Nuremberg, will officially start in the winter semester of 2012-13.

The federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) will be providing a total of around EUR20 million (US$26 million) to support the scheme. The federal government decided four years ago to set up new centres for Islamic theology. A government commission reviewing the issue maintained that given the more than four million Muslims in Germany, such centres were urgently needed. Up to 2,000 teachers are required for a total of 700,000 schoolchildren over the next few years. The new centres will train teachers for Islamic religious education, junior scholars of Islamic theology and religious scholars, also for mosques, as imams. The BMBF is initially providing around EUR4 million for the Tübingen centre to fund university chairs, assistant staff and groups of junior scholars.

According to Tübingen’s rector, Bernd Engeler, the chief aim of the centre is to provide scholars with a broad-based education so that they can represent religious studies as an academic subject. Engeler regards training teachers who will eventually be teaching religion at higher secondary schools, or academics going on to careers in the media or various social service areas, as far more important than concentrating on imams. “We wish to contribute the wealth of experience that we have gathered in theology at German universities to the development of Islamic theology,” Federal Education Minister Annette Schavan said at the opening ceremony in Tübingen on 16 January. “I am sure that this is a milestone for integration, too.” The minister added that the centre offered a “great opportunity to promote dialogue with the Christian religions”.

The centre has been in operation for the past few months, pending its official inauguration by the minister. Quranic scholar Omar Hamdan is the first professor appointed at Tübingen. Hamdan graduated in Islamic and Arabic studies in Jerusalem as well as comparative religion in Tübingen. Leijla Demiri, from Macedonia, is to hold the chair of Islamic dogmatics from the winter semester of 2012-13. Demiri studied Islamic theology in Istanbul and Catholic theology in Rome, and subsequently did a PhD in comparative theology at the University of Cambridge. Two junior professors are to teach Islamic law and the history and contemporary culture of Islam. A seven-member Muslim advisory council is to support the process of institutionalising Islamic theology. The academic skills of the professors are tested solely by the University of Tübingen. The students comprise 23 women and 13 men, and come from all over the world.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Hungary: Pro-Government Supporters Demonstrate in Budapest

Some 100,000 people took to the streets of Budapest on Saturday to show their support for Hungary’s embattled PM Viktor Orban, carrying signs in English saying “We will not be a colony!”. The country’s government is facing legal action by the European Commission over controversial domestic laws.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Interview With Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister: ‘Hungary Should Have Voting Rights Withdrawn’

In a SPIEGEL interview, Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn fiercely criticizes Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Parts of Hungary’s new constitution resemble a dictatorship, he says, suggesting the country should be stripped of its EU voting rights for undermining core democratic freedoms.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Liberal Candidate Wins First Round of Finnish Vote

Sauli Niinisto, leader of the pro-European, liberal-conservative National Coalition Party, won the first round in the Finnish presidential elections on Sunday. Pekka Haavisto, leader of the Greens, came in second. Both will run for the largely ceremonial post in a second round on 5 February.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Norway: Police Ignored Orders to Drive Past Utøya

Two police units from Southern Buskerud ignored orders from their superiors in a neighbouring district last July 22nd not to make their way straight to Utøya, the island where 69 mostly young people were shot dead by a right-wing extremist.

Eighteen minutes after the first emergency call from Utøya, three units from Drammen were dispatched to the scene to aid their colleagues in Northern Buskerud, newspaper VG reports.

But as they drove towards the island they received orders to first convene at Hønefoss police station. While one of the teams followed the order, which equated to a detour of 48 kilometres, the two other teams chose to disobey the command.

“I was surprised by the decision from the Northern Buskerud police district since there was a shooting incident underway on Utøya, as well as the possibility of shooting on the mainland. For that reason, we decided not to drive to Hønefoss,” according to a report from one of the officers.

The two dissenting units proceeded to Storøya on the mainland where they commandeered three boats that took them to Utøya 21 minutes after the arrival of emergency troops from Oslo.

Police authorities Northern Buskerud declined to comment on the order for units to assemble in Hønefoss, and referred instead to an ongoing evaluation by the National Police Directorate.

           — Hat tip: The Observer[Return to headlines]

Norway: God’s Wrath May Have Sparked Attacks: Writer

Christian Democrat leader Knut Arild Hareide has described as “unacceptable” a speech made by a writer at a party event last week suggesting the July 22nd terror attacks may have been God’s punishment for Norway’s poor diplomatic relations with Israel. Haakonsen made his comments at an open meeting organized last week by the local branch of the Christian Democrats in Sarpsborg, south-eastern Norway.

In his speech, Haakonsen said the dual attacks that left 77 dead, and an oil rig disaster from 1980 that claimed the lives of 123 people, could both be viewed as an expression of God’s wrath over Norway’s turbulent relationship with Israel, local newspaper Sarpsborgs Avis reports.

“It’s a completely unacceptable link to make, connecting last summer’s tragedy with the idea of punishment or warnings,” Knut Arild Hareide told news agency NTB. “What happened at Utøya was completely meaningless. I’m going contact the local team in Sarpsborg to make it clear that these links are unacceptable.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Statoil to Snap Up Chunk of Greenland Block

Scottish explorer Cairn Energy on Monday said it had agreed to sell about a third of its interest in the Pitu oil and gas block off Greenland to Norwegian major Statoil for an undisclosed amount.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sweden: ‘God Only Knows’ What Could Have Been: Juholt

Recently departed Social Democrat head Håkan Juholt said his inability to quickly put together a solid staff was one of his three biggest regrets from his ten-month tenure as head of the party. In an interview with the local Östran/Nyheterna newspaper hours before he announced his decision to step down as leader of the Social Democrats on Saturday, Juholt explained that he has been too late in surrounding himself with a team of dependable people.

“That sort of stability makes me better, and helps me avoid mistakes and be more prepared, I needed that sort of staff earlier,” he told the newspaper. He wished as well that he had been more forceful in defending his decision not to participate in a televised party leaders debate on Sveriges Television after being placed beside Sweden Democrat head Jimmie Åkesson, especially since Juholt believes debating is one of his strong points.

His third mistake stems from the housing allowance scandal that emerged last spring shortly after he took over as party leader whereby tax payer money went to defray the rent of his girlfriend’s Stockholm-area apartment. “I regret that we, or I, didn’t just take the lift down to whoever was responsible and said, ‘fix this’,” he told the newspaper.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Switzerland: Radical Muslim Group to Launch TV Station

The Islamic Central Council of Switzerland (ICCS) has announced plans to set up an internet TV channel, while it is also in talks with various companies to provide its members with a Swiss-Muslim discount card. The new TV studios, due to become operational this summer, will play host to a political show, a weekly series on a range of topics seen from a Muslim perspective, and a sermon series, newspaper SonntagsZeitung reports. Sermons are to be given mainly in German, but also in Arabic, Bosnian and Albanian. German subtitles will also be available.

The ICCS is also working towards providing its members with a card that will give discounts of up to 15 percent at a variety of outlets including fitness centres, restaurants and shops. Health insurance fund Helsana has also confirmed that it is in talks with the organization to give discounts to ICCS members. ICCS president, Nicolas Blancho, is expecting Helsana to give a reduction of 10 percent on insurance premiums, Tages Anzeriger reported on Sunday.

The ICCS is considered by many experts to be a fundamentalist organization, but according to the Tages Anzeiger there is discontent brewing among its members over the leadership style. Blancho in particular is facing criticism for not practising what he preaches. Council members who do not positively endorse new articles appearing on social media sites such as Facebook would face disciplinary action if they fail to click “like” within 24 hours of the article being posted by the ICCS, Sonntags Zeitung reported.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The Doomed Costa Concordia: A Maritime Disaster That Was Waiting to Happen

The Costa Concordia disaster, which has claimed at least 13 lives, has shocked the world. But maritime experts say such a catastrophe was just a matter of time. In recent years, the cruise industry has been building ever-bigger ships in pursuit of profit — and disregarding the dangers the giant vessels pose.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Two More Italy Cruise Bodies Found

Salvage experts can begin pumping fuel from a capsized cruise ship as early as Tuesday to avert a possible environmental catastrophe and the ship is stable enough that search efforts for the missing can continue, Italian officials said.

The decision to carry out both operations in tandem was made after instrument readings determined that the Costa Concordia was not at risk of sliding into deeper waters, Franco Gabrielli, chief of the national civil protection agency, told reporters Monday.

“The ship is stable. … There is no problem or danger that it is about to drop onto much lower seabed,” Gabrielli said on the island of Giglio.

The Concordia rammed a reef on January 13 on the tiny Tuscan island and capsized a few hours later just outside Giglio’s port as it was carrying 4200 passengers and crew on a Mediterranean cruise.

Taking advantage of calm seas, divers on Monday found the bodies of two women near the ship’s internet cafe, raising to 15 the number of confirmed dead.

As of Monday night, 10 days after the accident, 17 people were still unaccounted for. Gabrielli’s office said earlier reports that an unregistered Hungarian woman had called friends from the ship before it flipped over turned out to be “groundless”…

[Return to headlines]

UK: ‘Despicable’ Police Officer Who Raped Girl, Seven, Is Jailed for 18 Years

A policeman was starting an 18-year jail sentence today for sex abuse which a judge described as one of the ‘most despicable’ cases he had ever heard.

The 43-year-old officer was sacked from Thames Valley Police after being disciplined for repeatedly threatening witnesses who had lodged complaints against him.

He had also phoned a 14-year-old girl witness in a case he was dealing with and asking her to go on a date him.

Judge Francis Sheriden jailed paedophile policeman Mohammed Younas after hearing how he raped a girl who was just seven years old and continued to abuse her for eight years.

He had also turned up to work drunk after consuming a bottle of vodka and was found wandering the streets randomly stopping traffic whilst on duty.

Despite his dismissal from the force, the judge heard that the sexual abuse of the girl, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, increased,

Younas attacked the young girl, the court was told, because his wife refused to have sex with him. He also forced another child to touch his genitals.

‘This was the most despicable offence. It’s hard to imagine a worse case,’ Judge Sheridan told the disgraced constable as he stood in the dock at Aylesbury Crown Court.

Younas had denied the 15 counts of rape and sexual assault against him but was found guilty by a jury and on Friday was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

The court had heard Younas came to the UK from Pakistan and was descended from a respectable family with two of his sisters being consultant doctors and another being a headteacher.

His father was a retired colonel in the Pakistan Army.

However the judge was told that Younas, from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, suffered a nervous breakdown due to his unhappy marriage and went off the rails as a police officer.

It was during the breakdown that the abuse started and continued until the girl had reached the age of 15 years.

At the height of the abuse Younas would rape her every other day and the court heard he would make her touch him whilst they both played a board game.

Judge Sheridan said: ‘You and your wife were totally incompatible, there was a clash of cultures and views on family life.

‘You were dismissed from the police because you were totally unsuitable to be a police officer. You displayed signs of a man on the verge of a breakdown.

‘You walked around the street drunk, stopping traffic. You threatened witnesses who made complaints against you and you rang a 14-year-old girl to ask her to go out with you.

‘The offending started at around the same time. You showed contempt for your wife and you left your victims psychologically damaged. You robbed them of their childhood.

‘It’s the most dreadful, dreadful case I must sentence you for.’

As well as being jailed for 18 years, Younas was handed a Sexual Offences Prevention Order banning him from unsupervised contact or communication with a person under 16.

He was put on the Sex Offenders Register for an indefinite period and given a restraining order banning him from contacting the victims.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Four Patients Die Thirsty or Starving Every Day on Our Hospital Wards Show Damning New Statistics

Dehydration or malnutrition directly caused or was linked to 1,316 deaths last year in NHS trusts and privately run hospitals.

The revelation follows a series of damning reports accusing staff of failing to address the most basic needs of the vulnerable, particularly the elderly.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: How Freedom Goes

Joan Smith has a piece in the Independent about religious censorship of open debate in Britain, a supposedly free country. It is well written and argued, as Smith’s writing invariably is, but what distinguishes it is that it is the only defence of our liberties in the Sunday papers. Consider the events of the past few days:

i) At Queen Mary, University of London students went to hear Anne Marie Waters speak on behalf of the One Law For All — a campaign to stop Sharia law afflicting British women. An angry young man entered the lecture theatre. He filmed the audience on his mobile, and told them he knew where they lived and would track them down if a single negative word was said about Muhammad. The organisers informed the police and the meeting cancelled.

ii) Secularists at University College, London, came under attack for publishing a cartoon on its Facebook page of ‘Jesus and Mo’ having a drink together. The Muslim group that wants to ban the image got a sympathetic hearing in the media, despite arguing openly for censorship. Extremist websites, meanwhile, reacted with the fanatical language that so often appears on such sites: ‘May Allah destroy these creatures worse than dogs,’ wrote one blogger. I heard on Thursday night that one of the UCL secularists had gone into hiding in fear of his life.

iii) Salman Rushdie was due to speak at the Jaipur Literary Festival, but had to pull out because of threats of violence. He now believes that the local police were complicit in the attempts to silence him. Rushdie is not being paranoid. Credible reports in the Indian press support him. Hari Kunzru read an extract from the Satanic Verses as a gesture of solidarity and then had to flee the country. (You can read his account here)

At least the Indian press covers the story. In Britain there is silence. As Joan asks:

‘Why hasn’t there been a furore about all these incidents? Why aren’t MPs and ministers insisting on the vital role of free speech? None of the people involved was threatening anybody, unlike the three Muslim extremists convicted two days ago of inciting hatred against homosexuals. It’s been left to organisations such as the National Secular Society — I’m an honorary associate — to say that a fundamental human right is being eroded in the name of avoiding “offence”.

Most people in the UK don’t condone violence, but a worrying number think we should be careful around individuals with strong religious beliefs. This argument is mistaken, because it suggests that believers aren’t as capable of exercising, or under the same obligation to exercise, judgement and restraint as the rest of us.

It’s also based on fear, tacitly acknowledging a link between demands for censorship and threats of violence. One often leads to the other, and it isn’t just atheists and secularists who should be very worried indeed about that.’

My latest You Can’t Read This Book: Censorship in an Age of Freedom was published on Thursday. One critic complained that I lambasted liberal-minded people for their cowardice. He did not seem to doubt that they did bite their tongues for fear of violence, or of accusations of Islamophobia or some other kind of religious prejudice, but that the subject should be avoided. I am sorry but it cannot because it is self-censorship of the worst kind: the censorship that cannot admit it exists. Journalists, academics and authors turn away and pretend nothing is happening in case an admission of timidity tarnishes their image as fearless speakers of ‘truth to power’. The result is that this weekend Joan Smith is a lone voice rather than a singer in a chorus of disapproval.

I should not have to add that the people the liberal mainstream lets down are liberal Muslims and ex-Muslims who need help in their fight against theocratic oppression. In my book I quote Pascal Bruckner, who put it better than I ever could. ‘It is time to extend our solidarity to all the rebels of the Islamic world, non-believers, atheist libertines, dissenters, sentinels of liberty, as we supported Eastern European dissidents in former times. Europe should encourage these diverse voices and give them financial, moral and political support. Today there is no cause more sacred, more serious, or more pressing for the harmony of future generations. Yet our continent kneels before God’s madmen, muzzling and libelling free thinkers with suicidal heedlessness.’

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: If the EDL Want to See Fair Play, They Should Call Off Their March

Leicester Mercury acting editor Richard Bettsworth on the distortions that will bring the English Defence League back to our city.

The English Defence League is heading to Leicester in two weeks’ time to protest against the UK’s “two-tier justice system” which it claims treats Muslim offenders more leniently than others. If this claim was true it would, of course, be utterly outrageous. Any justice system which operated such double-standards would be manifestly unfair and would quickly lose public trust. So, what on Earth could the EDL possibly have in the way of evidence to back up such a serious claim?

This week’s Insider seeks to examine that question and to sort out the truth from the hysteria. The group’s reason for coming to Leicester is the case of Rhea Page, a young woman who was subjected to a horrific attack in the street by four women. The EDL suggests Rhea’s attackers were dealt with leniently because they were Muslims and that if a white gang had launched an attack on a Muslim girl they would have been dealt with more severely. There are two things about this case that are used to justify this claim. The first is a suggestion that the attackers were spared prison because they were Somalian Muslims who were not used to alcohol. The second is that the victim was called a “white bitch” during the assault, but that the perpetrators were not charged with a racially aggravated offence.

Let’s deal with the first point. At this stage it is important to understand how this story emerged. The Leicester Mercury was the only newspaper which covered the case and we carried a report on the proceedings on November 24. The observation about the women not being used to alcohol was made by defence lawyer Gary Short. We quoted him on this point towards the end of our article but we did not suggest that this was the reason why the judge spared the attackers an immediate prison sentence. On the contrary. We gave the actual reason earlier in the report which was that the judge, Robert Brown, said he accepted the women may have felt they were the victims of unreasonable force from the victim’s partner (Rhea says her partner was only trying to protect her). Since then, I have got hold of a transcript of the sentencing which clearly confirms this was the reason that the judge decided on a suspended sentence rather than sending the attackers to prison.

However, two weeks after our article, the story emerged in the national newspapers, where the line about the women being Muslims who were not used to alcohol was given much more prominence. Most of these articles reported that the attackers were freed “after” the judge heard this evidence. Even though they used the word “after” instead of the word “because” these articles clearly implied that the two things were connected. This was misleading and created a perception about this case which is at odds with the facts.

Let’s have a look at the second point — the fact that the attackers were not charged with a racially aggravated offence. A video on YouTube promoting the EDL demonstration says: “This is an obvious racist attack on a white English female, yet it was dealt with quietly and as a drunken thuggish gang attack.” It goes on: “Unfortunately, many believe that it’s not possible to be racist against white people.” This is what the Crown Prosecution Service says about its decision: “The CPS reviewed all the evidence in this case, including whether a racially aggravated offence should be brought on the basis that the comment ‘white bitch’ was reported to have been heard during the incident. However, this racist comment could not be attributed to any particular suspect and was not adopted by the group as a whole. There was therefore no realistic prospect of conviction for a racially aggravated offence.”

So, clearly the CPS does consider that it is possible to be racist against white people. Its reason not to charge anybody with a racially aggravated offence was purely a legal one. It could not be sure of securing a conviction.

The EDL states its central aim is to combat “Islamic extremism”. However, the women involved in this attack were clearly not “Islamic extremists” and the incident has nothing whatsoever to do with that issue. One can only conclude that the reason the EDL has leapt up on the misunderstandings about this case is because it actually has a much wider agenda. It is seeking to propagate a message that white English people are becoming second-class citizens in their own country and preferential treatment is given to Muslims.

That is, of course, deeply divisive and dangerous stuff which breeds resentment between communities. And, as we have seen, its argument crumbles as soon as one carries out a detailed examination of the facts.

At this point, I would add something of a footnote about the Rhea Page case. Like Rhea, I did not agree with the judge’s decision to suspend the sentences and I felt that the defendants should have been imprisoned. It was an appalling attack and I think the justice system needs to send out a clear message in such cases that this sort of random, drunken violence will not be tolerated. However, I have absolutely no doubt that the judge’s decision was based on a proper and legitimate assessment of the case, and had nothing whatsoever to do with the religious persuasion of the defendants and their lack of tolerance to alcohol. Unfortunately, nothing I have said will dissuade the EDL from carrying out their demonstration. They will come to Leicester on February 4, in a protest which will cost huge amounts of public money to police and will probably hit trade in the city centre. And all of this disruption and potential discord will have been based on an entirely flawed premise. That’s not fair on any of us, whatever our race or religion.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Joan Smith on ‘Intimidation’ of Islam Critics

Joan Smith had an article in yesterday’s Independent on Sunday (“Strong religious belief is no excuse for intimidation”) on the theme of Muslim attempts to suppress freedom of expression. Her arguments have been enthusiastically endorsed by fellow liberal Islamophobe Nick Cohen on his Spectator blog. Smith claims that there has been an upsurge in attempts to intimidate critics of Islam, and gives three recent examples:

It’s been a dreadful week for free speech. A meeting at a prestigious London college had to be abandoned on Monday evening when members of the audience were filmed and threatened by an Islamic extremist. Then the president of a student society at another London college was forced to resign after a Muslim organisation called for a ban on a joky image of the Prophet Mohammed. Finally, on Friday, the author Sir Salman Rushdie cancelled an appearance at India’s largest literary festival, saying he feared an assassination attempt after protests by Muslim clerics.

Let us examine these three cases in turn.

1. It is true that a Muslim extremist barged into a meeting at Queen Mary, University of London where Anne Marie Waters of One Law For All was due to speak on the threat to human rights posed by sharia law. He reportedly took photographs of the audience and threatened them with retribution if they said anything that defamed the Prophet. If this account of events is accurate, then the individual’s behaviour was indefensible and no doubt very upsetting for those attending the event. However, once the police had been called and the man had left the building, it is difficult to see how the meeting was, as Smith writes, “unable to go ahead”. (The National Secular Society seems to be aware that this is a bit of a hole in their argument and has claimed that outside the building the man “joined a large group of men, apparently there to support him”. It is notable neither Anne Marie Waters nor Maryam Namazie saw fit to mention the presence of this gang, still less to suggest that it was why the meeting was cancelled.)

2. Then we have the much-hyped “Jesus and Mo” controversy at University College London. The organisation that “called for a ban on a joky image of the Prophet Mohammed” is the Ahmadiyya Muslim Students Association and they have repeatedly emphasised that they are not calling for a ban, but merely asking the student union’s Atheist, Secularist and Humanist society (ASH) to withdraw to cartoon because it caused offence. Furthermore, Smith’s assertion that ASH president Robbie Yellon was “forced to resign” appears to have been taken directly from the headline to a Daily Mail report. As is usual with the Mail, the headline was intentionally misleading. A spokesperson for ASH in fact stated: “Robbie stepped aside because he signed up as president to organise events and run a student society. He did not appreciate the stress he would be under when dealing with a controversy like this, so he wanted to make way for someone else.”

3. As for the threat to Salman Rushdie in India, Rushdie has claimed that the warning of an assassination attempt was a lie, and while the (non-Muslim) chief minister of Rajasthan insisted that the threat was real the police denied that they had any information about a plan to kill Rushdie. So, to summarise, we have one individual who disrupted a meeting, a polite request by an Ahmadiyyah student group that an illustration which offended Muslims should be withdrawn, and a dubious report of a threat to Salman Rushdie which Rushdie himself says in baseless. And this supposedly amounts to a pattern of Muslim intimidation of critics of Islam. You might think that Joan Smith’s ill-researched, inaccurate, dogmatically secularist scaremongering plays directly into the hands of the far right and will be used to bolster a racist narrative about the Islamic threat to the West (which results in real acts of violent intimidation, against the Muslim community and its supporters). You’d be correct.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Ministers Ban Extra Benefits for Multiple Wives

Ministers are to bring to an end an “absurd” benefits regime which has seen husbands with multiple wives able to claim extra welfare payments.

Although bigamy is illegal in Britain, men who married more than one woman in countries where the practice was legal and then brought them to the UK have been allowed for years to receive multiple benefits.

Critics claimed the controversial system meant the state is effectively “recognising” polygamous marriages, of which there are thought to be about a thousand in the UK.

The practice is largely confined to Muslim men, who are permitted under some interpretations of Islamic law to have up to four wives in a harem — as long as they spend equal amounts of time and money on each partner.

The system of paying extra benefits for multiple wives was reviewed under Labour in an exercise involving four separate Whitehall branches — The Treasury, the Department for Work & Pensions, HM Revenue & Customs and the Home Office.

The review concluded that recognising multiple marriages which had taken place overseas in the benefits system was the “best possible option”

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Oxford Finalists Are ‘Little Better Than a Level Students’, Claim Tutors

They are supposed to be the brightest in Britain. But some Oxford University students show a “distressing” grasp of their subjects and the answers to their final exams are often little better than A-level standard, according to their tutors.

Some are unable to spell words such as ‘erupt’ or ‘across’ correctly and give answers that show a “worrying degree of inaccuracy,” according to examiners’ reports seen by the Daily Telegraph.

Academics said a culture of box-ticking at A-level had left students with poor general knowledge and unable to think for themselves.

One English examiner wrote: “We encountered a distinct sense of undeveloped critical thought, first year level work, or at the lower end of the run, A-level-style responses: information dumped but not tackled.”

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Prejudices About Islam Will be Shaken by This Show

by Karen Armstrong

The hajj, subject of a new exhibition at the British Museum, shows that a respect for other faiths is central to Muslim tradition

Ever since the Crusades, when Christians from western Europe were fighting holy wars against Muslims in the near east, western people have often perceived Islam as a violent and intolerant faith — even though when this prejudice took root Islam had a better record of tolerance than Christianity. Recent terrorist atrocities have seemed to confirm this received idea. But if we want a peaceful world, we urgently need a more balanced view. We cannot hope to win the “battle for hearts and minds” unless we know what is actually in them. Nor can we expect Muslims to be impressed by our liberal values if they see us succumbing unquestioningly to a medieval prejudice born in a time of extreme Christian belligerence.

Like Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Christians, Sikhs and secularists, some Muslims have undoubtedly been violent and intolerant, but the new exhibition at the British Museum — Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam — is a timely reminder that this is not the whole story. The hajj is one of the five essential practices of Islam; when they make the pilgrimage to Mecca, Muslims ritually act out the central principles of their faith. Equating religion with “belief” is a modern western aberration. Like swimming or driving, religious knowledge is practically acquired. You learn only by doing. The ancient rituals of the hajj, which Arabs performed for centuries before Islam, have helped pilgrims to form habits of heart and mind that — pace the western stereotype — are non-violent and inclusive.

In the holy city of Mecca, violence of any kind was forbidden. From the moment they left home, pilgrims were not permitted to carry weapons, to swat an insect or speak an angry word, a discipline that introduced them to a new way of living. At a climactic moment of his prophetic career, Muhammad drew on this tradition. Fleeing persecution in Mecca in 622, he and the Muslim community (the umma) had migrated to Medina, 250 miles to the north. Mecca was determined to destroy the umma and a bitter conflict ensued. But eventually Muhammad broke the deadly cycle of warfare with an audacious non-violent initiative. In March 628, to general astonishment, he announced that he was going to make the hajj. This meant that he had to ride unarmed into enemy territory, yet 1,000 Muslims accompanied him. The pilgrim party narrowly escaped being massacred by the Meccan cavalry, and eventually entered the sacred territory of Mecca where they simply sat down beside their camels and refused to move. Knowing that they would lose all credibility if they slaughtered pilgrims on this holy ground, the Meccans negotiated a truce and Muhammad accepted humiliating conditions that filled the Muslims with dismay. But the Qur’an proclaimed that this apparent defeat was a “clear triumph” because, like Jews and Christians, the Muslims had acted in a spirit of peace, self-restraint and forbearance. Two years later, hostilities ceased and the Meccans voluntarily opened their gates to the prophet.

Clearly the Qur’an did not despise Jews and Christians; this affinity with “the people of the book” was also central to the Muslim cult of Mecca. The Arabs firmly believed that they, too, were children of Abraham, because they were the descendants of his eldest son Ishmael — a regional view shared by the Bible. It was said that Abraham and Ishmael had rebuilt the Ka’bah, the sacred shrine of Mecca, when it had fallen into disrepair, had dedicated it to their God, and then performed the rites of the hajj. Many Arabs thought that Allah, their high God, was the God worshipped by the people of the book, and Christian Arabs used to make the hajj pilgrimage to the Ka’bah alongside the pagans. The Arabs had no conception of an exclusive religious tradition, so they were deeply shocked when they discovered that most Jews and Christians refused to consider them as part of the Abrahamic family. The Qur’an still urged Muslims to respect the people of the book and revere their prophets, but decreed that instead of facing Jerusalem when they prayed, as hitherto, they should turn towards the Ka’bah built by Abraham.

Like Abraham, who had not belonged to a closed-off cult, they would take no pride in an established institution and, as Abraham had done, focus on the worship of God alone. Hence the Muslim hajj is all about the Abrahamic family — not Muhammad himself. Pilgrims re-enact the story of Hagar and Ishmael, symbolically returning to the era that preceded religious chauvinism. Alas, all traditions lose their primal purity and we all fail our founders. But the British Museum’s beautiful presentation of the hajj can help us understand how the vast majority of the world’s Muslims understand their faith. Socrates, founder of the western rational tradition, insisted that the exercise of reason required us constantly and stringently to question received ideas and entrenched certainties. The new exhibition can indeed become a journey to the heart of Islam and also, perhaps, to a more authentic and respectful western rational identity.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Strong Religious Belief is No Excuse for Intimidation

by Joan Smith

It’s been a dreadful week for free speech. A meeting at a prestigious London college had to be abandoned on Monday evening when members of the audience were filmed and threatened by an Islamic extremist. Then the president of a student society at another London college was forced to resign after a Muslim organisation called for a ban on a joky image of the Prophet Mohammed. Finally, on Friday, the author Sir Salman Rushdie cancelled an appearance at India’s largest literary festival, saying he feared an assassination attempt after protests by Muslim clerics.

Almost as sinister as this series of events has been the reaction to them. The first has received very little public attention, despite the fact that students who belong to the college’s Atheism, Secularism and Humanism Society were unable to go ahead with a perfectly legal discussion of sharia law. They’d come to Queen Mary, University of London to hear Anne Marie Waters speak on behalf of the One Law For All campaign, when an angry young man entered the lecture theatre. He stood at the front and used his mobile phone to film the audience, claiming he knew where they lived and would track them down if a single negative word was said about the Prophet. The organisers informed the police and the meeting cancelled.

The fact that in a democratic country a religious extremist is able to frighten anyone into calling off a meeting is shocking — and so is the lack of a public outcry about this egregious example of intimidation and censorship. Tellingly, what has grabbed media attention is the second incident, when a secularist organisation at University College, London came under attack for publishing an image on its Facebook page of “Jesus and Mo” having a drink together. The Muslim group that wants to ban the image got a sympathetic hearing in the media, despite arguing openly for censorship. Extremist websites, meanwhile, reacted with the fanatical language that so often appears on such sites: “May Allah destroy these creatures worse than dogs,” wrote one blogger.

No doubt that kind of inflammatory sentiment was in Rushdie’s mind when he decided not to appear at the Jaipur Literary Festival. In a statement read out there, the author of The Satanic Verses said he’d been warned that paid assassins from the Mumbai underworld might be on their way to the event in order to “eliminate” him. While he expressed doubts about the accuracy of the warnings, Rushdie said it would be irresponsible of him to appear in such circumstances. Why hasn’t there been a furore about all these incidents? Why aren’t MPs and ministers insisting on the vital role of free speech? None of the people involved was threatening anybody, unlike the three Muslim extremists convicted two days ago of inciting hatred against homosexuals. It’s been left to organisations such as the National Secular Society — I’m an honorary associate — to say that a fundamental human right is being eroded in the name of avoiding “offence”.

Most people in the UK don’t condone violence, but a worrying number think we should be careful around individuals with strong religious beliefs. This argument is mistaken, because it suggests that believers aren’t as capable of exercising, or under the same obligation to exercise, judgement and restraint as the rest of us. It’s also based on fear, tacitly acknowledging a link between demands for censorship and threats of violence. One often leads to the other, and it isn’t just atheists and secularists who should be very worried indeed about that.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Sharia Law Debate Attracts Threats of Violence at Queen Mary University

Students attending a debate about sharia law at an East End university were threatened by a man who stormed into their lecture theatre and told them he would “track them down”.

The man also filmed attendees at Queen Mary, University of London’s Mile End Road site before threatening them with violence if they said anything negative about the Prophet Muhammad. Campaigner Anne Marie Waters had been invited to give a speech by the university’s Atheism, Secularism and Humanism Society when the drama unfolded on Monday evening. Organisers called the police and the event was cancelled. Ms Waters said in a blog for the National Secular Society: “Just before I was due to start, a young man entered the lecture theatre, stood at the front of the room with a camera and proceeded to film everyone in the audience. That done, he informed us that he knew who we were, where we lived and if he heard a single negative word about the Prophet, he would track us down.” She added that it was a “frightening experience” and said “people felt genuinely threatened and upset”.

Police confirmed they are investigating the incident and the university said it is conducting its own probe. Queen Mary’s principal Professor Simon Gaskell said: “Talks, meetings and debates are held peacefully at Queen Mary on a daily basis and we will continue to host such events. We will do our utmost to ensure this occurrence is not repeated and that our students are able to gather and engage in debate freely without interference of any kind.” Queen Mary Students’ Union said: “Our students’ safety is of absolute priority and we take such reports very seriously. We are confident our processes have been followed in organising the event.” There were no injuries, police said. The Met added in a statement: “Police were called at approx 7pm following reports of a man being threatened by another man. Officers attended and the victim was located and spoken to.”

[JP note: I imagine the police gave the victim a good ticking off.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Coptic Monks Remain Outside a Changing Egypt

The Egyptian desert Natrun valley oasis is home to several Coptic Christian monasteries. The monks living there have remained largely unaffected by the political upheavals of the Arab Spring.

In January 2011, during the early days of the protests against President Hosni Mubarak, Copts and Moslems stood side by side. They were united in their resistance against a despot and their common struggle was successful.

But since then, the solidarity has dissipated. The political and social upheaval has brought the people new freedoms. Among them, however, is the freedom to discriminate against religious minorities without fear of punishment. In particular, the Copts have borne the brunt of these actions.

In the course of the last few months, several churches have been set on fire across Egypt and dozens of Christians murdered.

The violent attacks flare up especially when Christians protest against restrictions on their religious freedom.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Egypt’s New Parliament Opens for Its First Session

A new generation of politicians has opened the inaugural session of parliament in Egypt since last year’s ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. Parliament will play a key role in drafting Egypt’s new constitution.

The new Egyptian parliament opened for its first session in Cairo on Monday, electing a speaker as its first order of business. As the oldest member of the 508-seat house, 81-year-old Mahmoud al-Saqa of the liberal Wafd party acted as speaker for the inaugural session. The dominant Muslim Brotherhood group, which won 47 percent of the seats, nominated senior party official Mohammed Saad al-Katatni for the post. He seemed likely to secure it.

Islamist parties like the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party are now legal in Egypt after last year’s ouster of long-serving President Hosni Mubarak. Combined, they won two-thirds of the 498 seats that were available in a multi-stage election that began last November and is still not quite finished. The country’s interim military ruler, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, appointed 10 further members of parliament.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Muslim Brotherhood to US Ambassador in Egypt: Sharia Law Ensures Personal Freedoms

Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Badie

CAIRO: A statement issued by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood said that US Ambassador to Cairo Anne Patterson met with the group’s Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie on Wednesday, and reportedly told her that Sharia law, or Islamic law, “ensures personal freedoms for all.”

The MB’s statement explained that Patterson expressed her gratitude for the meeting and congratulated the group for their political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), victory in the recent parliamentary elections, and stressed that the United States is looking forward to cooperate with “whoever is chosen by the Egyptian people and a democratic government.”

The statement pointed out that Badie also thanked the ambassador for her congratulations, and said the elections “made Egyptians proud,” adding that the results of elections are a “victory” for the democratic alliance led by FJP, which includes a number of other parties.

The Supreme Guide criticized the successive US administrations and accused them of “controlling people through their support to the dictators,” which made the popularity of the United States decline across the region.

“The current era is the era of the people and we want to see deeds not words by the United States to recover its credibility among Arabs and Muslims, and in particular with regard to the Palestinian issue, which is the most important cause for Arabs and Muslims.”

Badie explained that the principles of Islamic Sharia law is the m”ain source of legislation and the biggest guarantee of public and private freedoms, as it ensures the freedom of belief, religion and personal rights to all citizens equally.”

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Tense Tunisia ‘Persepolis’ Trial Delayed Till April

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — The trial of a Tunisian TV station for airing the prize-winning animated feature “Persepolis” and allegedly insulting Islam was adjourned by a Tunisian court on Monday until April 19. The controversy over the film illustrates how Tunisia, the country that started the wave of uprisings that have swept through the Arab world this year, is struggling to work out the role of Islam in society after years of officially enforced secularism. The Nessma TV channel aired the film, dubbed into Tunisian dialect, in October, prompting several angry demonstrations led by ultraconservative Muslims known as Salafis, culminating in the firebombing of the station owner’s house. The trial opened Nov. 17 and was almost immediately adjourned until January when opposing lawyers engaged in heated arguments inside the court.

Iranian director Marjane Satrapi’s award-winning adaptation of her graphic novels about growing up during Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution won the jury prize at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival and contains a scene showing a character representing God. Depictions of God are considered sacrilege in Islam. Large crowds gathered outside the courthouse in Tunis on Monday both for and against the TV station, including bearded Salafis chanting: “Secularists, you have no place in Tunisia.” “If the people of Nessma do not return to the right path, their activities will be halted by any means necessary, including violence,” said Mohammed Chammam, a young bearded demonstrator. Tunisia’s dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali persecuted Islamists and rigorously enforced secularism until he was overthrown in January 2011. Since then, however, small numbers of Salafists have emerged propagating an ultraconservative form of the religion.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

EU Agrees Unprecedented Oil Embargo on Iran

(BRUSSELS) — The European Union agreed Monday to slap an embargo on Iran’s oil exports as the West ramped up pressure on Tehran’s suspect nuclear drive and urged it to return to the negotiating table. “This is an important decision. It will be a major strengthening of the sanctions applied on Iran,” said British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

“It is absolutely right to do this in view of Iran’s continued breach of UN Security Council resolutions and refusal to come to meaningful negotiations on the nuclear programme,” he added.

After weeks of tough talks on the timing and terms of a ban on Iranian crude, ambassadors of the 27 EU nations reached a political agreement in early morning meetings held as foreign ministers converged on Brussels for a day of talks. The ministers, who also agreed to toughen sanctions against Syria, are to formally announce the measures against Tehran later Monday.

The compromise agreement provides for an immediate ban on importing Iranian crude and a gradual phase-out of existing contracts between now and July 1, diplomats told AFP.

The potential impact on financially stressed nations heavily dependent on Iranian oil, Greece, Spain and Italy, as well as on the global oil market — where oil prices rose on news of the embargo — will be reassessed before the July 1 deadline, sources said. Greece’s dependence in particular held up an accord on the embargo as the debt-laden nation relies on Iran for more than a third of its imports and had struck preferential financial terms with Tehran.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

‘Unprecedented Sanctions’: EU Agrees on Tough Oil Embargo Against Iran

European Union countries on Monday announced tough sanctions against Iran in an effort to force negotiations over the country’s nuclear program. Not only will they impose a formal oil embargo against the rogue nation on July 1, but they will also freeze the Iranian central bank’s EU accounts.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


New Russian Left Emerges to Oppose Putin

Gennady Zyuganov plans to win Russia’s presidential elections on March 4, and he may find the support he needs to succeed from a new alliance of leftist parties. He would capitalize on a disgruntled middle class.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

German ‘Spies’ Detained in Pakistan

Three alleged German spies have been detained in Pakistan by police and released to German diplomats, according to media reports. The men were detained by officers Saturday in the north-eastern city of Peshawar who accused them of belonging to “an unauthorised liaison office of the German embassy.” They were later released to the German embassy in the capital city of Islamabad.

“We have observed them for months. They travelled to the area around Peshawar to spy,” a Pakistani intelligence official told the DPA news agency. The men were said to be carrying business cards identifying them as working for the German government’s GIZ development agency. But GIZ denied the men were affiliated with the organisation.

The German embassy has no official branch in Peshawar, a city of about 3.5 million people near the border with Afghanistan. But, according to DPA, the Bundesnachrichtendienst intelligence agency has maintained operations there with the knowledge of Pakistani authorities.

It is not clear if the men could face criminal charges or simply be deported from Pakistan. Relations between Pakistan and the West have been strained for some time over whether Pakistan is doing enough to fight terrorism — and whether some elements in the government may actually be supportive of Islamic extremists.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Handcuffed, Blindfolded and Shot in the Back of the Head: Taliban Releases Horrific Video of Executions of 15 Pakistani Soldiers

Blindfolded and handcuffed to each other on a barren hilltop, Pakistani soldiers wait for death at the hands of a merciless Taliban fighter.

Fifteen men were lined up for execution, the chilling scene captured on film by the Taliban for a video released as a warning to the Pakistani army operating near the Afghan border.

The Frontier Corps soldiers were seized last month in what the Taliban said was an operation to avenge the deaths of insurgents in Pakistan.

Warning: Graphic Content

The video shows one of the killers from the Pakistan Taliban, or TTP, holding an AK-47 rifle and speaking with fury about revenge.

‘Twelve of our comrades were besieged and mercilessly martyred in the Khyber Agency [area],’ said the militant. ‘Our pious women were also targeted.

‘To avenge those comrades, we will kill these men. We warn the government of Pakistan that if the killing of our friends is not halted, this will be the fate of you all.’

One of the abducted soldiers, sitting alongside his comrades with their arms folded and legs crossed in front of Taliban banners, describes on the video how dozens of insurgents stormed their fort in the north-western Tank district of Pakistan. ‘They attacked us with rockets, killed a sentry,’ he said. ‘One ran away.

‘The Taliban entered the fort and captured us with our weapons. They tied our hands, put us in a Datsun and took us away.’

The video then shows the men standing quietly. Taliban chanting can be heard. ‘We will cross all limits to avenge your blood,’ the chants said, referring to fighters killed by Pakistani security forces.

One of the men shoves a clip into his assault rifle and fires a few rounds into the back of the heads of some of the soldiers. ‘God is greatest,’ the Taliban yell.

Other fighters step up and take turns pumping bullets into the men, some wearing green military uniforms. Each time a soldier collapses, the man standing next to him is pulled in that direction by the handcuffs. After the executions, the Taliban militants stare at the bodies slumped on the ground.

‘If the killing of our friends is not stopped, this will be the fate of all infidel armies, God willing,’ says one militant.

The TTP, formed in 2007, is an umbrella group of Pakistani militant factions operating in the country’s tribal areas.

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

India: Pressure on Kashmir Christians as Sharia Court Orders Expulsion

An court in the Indian state of Kashmir which rules on Sharia, or Islamic law has issued a decree seeking the expulsion of four Christian clergymen and asked the government to monitor the activities of Christian schools.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

India: Salman Rushdie May Address Jaipur Festival Via Video Link

The Satanic Verses author could make screen appearance at book event after admitting ‘intelligence’ of threat may be false

Salman Rushdie, who was forced to pull out of Asia’s biggest literary festival in India after authorities revealed “specific intelligence” of a death threat against him, has said he believes the information was false. “I’ve investigated, and believe that I was indeed lied to. I am outraged and very angry,” the British writer wrote on Twitter. Rushdie was scheduled to be one of the stars of the Jaipur Literature Festival in the capital of the state of Rajasthan, in north-west India. Two weeks before the event, a senior conservative cleric and Islamic groups began a campaign to stop the 64-year-old author attending, saying his most famous and controversial work, The Satanic Verses, was offensive to Muslims. The publication of the book in 1988 prompted a fatwa calling for Rushdie to be killed from the Iranian religious leader Ayatollah Ruohollah Khomenini and sent its author into hiding. Despite festival organisers’ efforts to ensure his security, Rushdie pulled out of the event citing “specific information” from “intelligence sources” that assassins had been sent by organised crime bosses to “eliminate” him.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Far East

Big Tokyo Earthquake Likely ‘Within the Next Few Years’

The chance of a big earthquake hitting the Japanese capital in the next few years is much greater than official predictions suggest, researchers say. The team, from the University of Tokyo, said there was a 75% probability that a magnitude seven quake would strike the region in the next four years. The government says the chances of such an event are 70% in the next 30 years.

The warning comes less than a year after a massive earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan’s north-eastern coast. The last time Tokyo was hit by a big earthquake was in 1923, when a 7.9 magnitude quake killed more than 100,000 people, many of them in fires.

Japan is located on a tectonic crossroads dubbed the “Pacific Ring of Fire” which is why its is commonly regarded as one of the world’s most quake-prone countries, with Tokyo located in one of the most dangerous areas.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Violence in Nigeria

Gun and bomb attacks by Islamist insurgents in the northern Nigerian city of Kano last week killed at least 178 people

The scale of the carnage makes this by far the deadliest strike claimed by Boko Haram, a shadowy Islamist sect that started out as a clerical movement opposed to western education but has become the biggest security menace facing Africa’s top oil producer.


Boko Haram, a Hausa term meaning “Western education is sinful,” is loosely modeled on Afghanistan’s Taliban, but analysts say the anger it channels reflects a perception that the north has been marginalized from oil riches concentrated in the south.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Beware the Humanitarian Racists

Op-ed: Humanitarian racists say non-white people cannot be held responsible for their acts

Among racists, the humanitarian ones hide their evil behavior best. This is why their racism often goes unnoticed so they can claim that they are level-headed and decent people.

Another type of racist, the “ugly” one, can be easily identified. He may, for instance, repeat the old colonialist statements claiming that Africans are like children, retarded or even subhuman. Such racists believe that people who cannot be held responsible for their acts should be treated as inferior. The basic views of humanitarian racists are very similar to those of the ugly type. They may claim, for example, that most contemporary problems of African states result from the colonial period, even if these countries have been independent for many decades. This in fact means that Africans cannot be responsible for their actions. The humanitarian racist’s worldview is as distorted as that of the ugly racist. It is not stated explicitly, but only implicitly in his words.

The humanitarian racist’s conclusion differs, however, from that of the ugly racist. He or she considers that as the non-white or weak cannot be held responsible for their acts, one should look away as often as possible even if they commit major crimes. Ugly racists fortunately can no longer get articles published in mainstream media, but humanitarian racists unfortunately are welcomed by them. Exposing humanitarian racists is neglected in the battle against the de-legitimization of Israel, although crucial. The success of the Palestinian narrative and its many lies in the Western world is, to a large extent, due to its continuous promotion by humanitarian racists. They present the Palestinians as victims only, referring as little as possible to the major crimes they perpetrate or support. In this way, the humanitarian racists have become supporters or allies of Palestinian terrorists, murder and genocide-promoters.

One example in 2010 was the very limited international publicity about the condolences expressed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to the family of Abu Daoud. Abbas had the following to say about the planner of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre of Israeli athletes: “The deceased was one of the prominent leaders of the Fatah movement and lived a life filled with the struggle, devoted effort, and the enormous sacrifice of the deceased for the sake of the legitimate problem of his people, in many spheres…What a wonderful brother, companion, tough and stubborn, relentless fighter.”

Finding a scapegoat

The humanitarian racist worldview embodies many other distortions. If Arabs, for instance, cannot be held responsible for their criminal acts, others must be. The humanitarian racist thus has to look for scapegoats. That is why Israel is sometimes accused of the crimes the Palestinians committed. Another distortion of the truth that is part of the humanitarian racist’s worldview is the denial of the existence of racism among people of color. There is, however, much data about the extreme racism widespread among Muslims for instance. Illustrating how such racism is ignored, former Dutch Parliamentarian of Somali origin Ayaan Hirsi Ali said: “I studied social work for a year in the Netherlands. Our teachers taught us to look with different eyes toward the immigrant and the foreigner. They thought racism was a phenomenon that only appears among whites. My family in Somalia, however, educated me as a racist and told me that we Muslims were very superior to the Christian Kenyans. My mother thinks they are half-monkeys.” The great majority of Israelis, however, are not humanitarian racists. They consider Palestinians rightly responsible for their criminal acts like any other human being would be.

A simple test

I have developed a simple test to recognize the humanitarian racists amongst those who de-legitimize Israel. One only has to ask these extreme critics of Israel a few questions or investigate their statements and publications. The first question is: “Can you show me where and how often you have exposed the substantial percentage of Muslims in the world who support suicide bombings or the genocidal worldview of Osama Bin Laden?”

The second question: “Your government is committed under the UN genocide convention to bring Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad before an international court, because he threatens the State of Israel with genocide. How often have you called upon your government to do so?”

The third question: “Where and how often have you exposed the profoundly murderous worldview that permeates Palestinian society, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas?”

If one finds that these critics of Israel have remained silent or said little on any of these issues, they can be “outed” as humanitarian racists. One can apply this humanitarian racism test to politicians, church leaders, journalists, academics as well as to Jewish and Israeli critics of the Jewish state. This simple test will also reveal the many humanitarian racists in foreign and Israeli human rights organizations. The European Union subsidizes several of the latter bodies. By doing so, it thus has become a supporter of racism. Humanitarian racism is one of the many aspects that will have to be investigated in detail, in order to understand the new criminal currents that have emerged in European societies and the European Union itself.

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld has published 20 books. He is Chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Brave New World: UK Ethicist Wants Women to Abandon Motherhood and Use Artificial Wombs

A UK ethicist has argued that since pregnancy causes “natural inequality” between the sexes, women must be liberated from the “burdens and risks of pregnancy” through the use of “ectogenesis”, or artificial wombs.

“Pregnancy is a condition that causes pain and suffering, and that affects only women. The fact that men do not have to go through pregnancy to have a genetically related child, whereas women do, is a natural inequality,” writes Dr. Anna Smajdor in an article that recently appeared in the Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Obama Defends Roe v. Wade

President Barack Obama says the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade is the chance to recognize the “fundamental constitutional right” to abortion and to “continue our efforts to ensure that our daughters have the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.”

As a state lawmaker in Illinois, he voted four times against legislation to protect the life of a baby that survived a botched abortion. He voted against such legislation at the state level in 2001, 2002 and 2003.

The 2003 bill was assigned to the Illinois Senate Health and Human Services Committee, which Obama chaired at the time. It mirrored a law passed by Congress, which said nothing in federal law should be construed to undermine the Roe v. Wade ruling.

As president, Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, which would appropriate federal money toward insurance plans that pay for abortions.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Pro-Abortion Occupy Group Disrupts March for Life Youth Rally

Amidst chants of “occupy anti-choice” and “pro-life, that’s a lie, you don’t care if women die,” organizers instructed the youth not to react but to pray as security was called. A couple of angry young men shouted repeatedly “as long as you harass women you will be harassed.”

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Serbian Abortion Rate ‘At Epidemic Proportions’

BELGRADE, January 20, 2012 ( — According to the Belgrade Institute of Public Health, 23,000 abortions are committed in Serbia annually. However, a report by the Southeast European Times states that unofficial data suggest that as many as 150,000 abortions are committed every year in the country of just over 7 million inhabitants, giving Serbia the highest abortion rate in Europe.

The current Serbian birth rate is 1.44 children per woman, compared to a European average of 1.6, which is still well below the 2.1 children per woman needed to maintain a static population.

Since 1969, the year when complete liberalization of abortion came into effect, abortion has been available on-demand until the 10th week of pregnancy

“For many women in Serbia who already gave birth, abortion is considered a regular means of contraception; they do not apply prevention, but undergo an abortion,” gynecologist Jovanka Carevic told SETimes.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Men Guilty of Anti-Gay Leaflets

Three Muslim men from Derby have been found guilty of stirring up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation after distributing a leaflet that said Islam called for anyone caught committing homosexuality to be executed. Ihjaz Ali, Kabir Ahmed and Razwan Javed handed out the pamphlet, called The Death Penalty?, which showed an image of a mannequin hanging from a noose and quoted Islamic texts that said capital punishment was the only way to rid society of homosexuality. At Derby Crown Court they were convicted by a jury of distributing threatening written material intending to stir up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation in the first prosecution of its kind since legislation came into force in March 2010. Mehboob Hussain and Umar Javed, who were also charged with the same offence, were found not guilty by the jury. Judge John Burgess, Honorary Recorder of Derby, adjourned sentencing until February 10 for pre-sentence reports.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: NHS Pays for Controversial Puberty-Delaying Drugs to Aid Sex Changes Later in Life

Six children in Britain will be given jabs to delay the puberty on the NHS because they are convinced they were born the wrong sex.

The injections — to be administered monthly — will postpone the physical changes of adolescence giving them more time to make decisions about their identity.

It will also make any sex-change operation far easier should they decide to permanently swap gender.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

When Men Go to War, Blame Their Sex Drive: Males Evolved to be ‘Aggressive to Outsiders’, Says Psychology Study

From football thugs clashing on the terraces to soldiers killing each other on the front line, most conflict can be blamed on the male sex drive, a study suggests. The review of psychological research concludes that men evolved to be aggressive towards ‘outsiders’, a tendency at the root of inter-tribal violence. It emerged through natural selection as a result of competition for mates, territory and status, and is seen in conflicts between nations as well as clashes involving rival gangs, football fans or religious groups, say the researchers.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Hundreds of Meteorites Uncovered in Antarctica

A gang of heavily insulated scientists has wrapped up its Antarctic expedition, with its members thawing out from the experience, but pleased to have bagged more than 300 space rocks. They are participants in the Antarctic Search for Meteorites program, or ANSMET for short. Since 1976, ANSMET researchers have been recovering thousands of

According to the ANSMET website, the specimens are currently the only reliable, continuous source of new, nonmicroscopic extraterrestrial material. Given that there are no active planetary sample-return missions coming or going at the moment, the retrieval of meteorites is the cheapest and only guaranteed way to recover new things from worlds beyond the Earth.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Islam Promotes Peace [Letter to the Gulf News, 23 January 2012]

The media these days often mentions the word ‘Islamic terrorism’. Islam is a religion that strongly denounces terrorism. Killing innocent human beings is forbidden in Islam so the media should stop using the word ‘Islamic terrorism’. I know very well that there are some ignorant people in the world who are spoiling the name of Islam but this does not mean that terrorism is related to Islam. In our religion it is said that if you kill one innocent human being then it is equivalent to killing the whole of humanity whereas if you save one human being it is equivalent to saving the whole of humanity. My humble request to media organisations all over the world would be to stop exploiting Islam. Recently, Anders Behring Breivik went on a rampage in Norway and killed many innocent people, but for this heinous crime no one would point fingers at his religion. Terrorism has no religion. ‘Islamic terror’ is an erroneous concept, which contradicts its message.

From Mr Abdul Azeem

London, UK

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Trust in Government Has ‘Suffered a Severe Breakdown’

In 17 of 25 countries surveyed governments are now trusted to do what is right by less than half those questioned.

Overall trust in government fell by nine percentage points to 43%.

Alongside these steep declines in trust in institutions such as governments or businesses, the survey highlights a dramatic switch in those whom people say they now trust.

Social networking, microblogging and content-sharing sites saw the most dramatic percentage rises as trusted sources of information, jumping by 88%, 86% and 75%.

Edelman’s 2012 trust Barometer was released in the run-up to this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, where it will be presented in more detail.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Why Does Our Universe Have Three Dimensions?

Why does our universe look the way it does? In particular, why do we only experience three spatial dimensions in our universe, when superstring theory, for instance, claims that there are ten dimensions — nine spatial dimensions and a tenth dimension of time?

Japanese scientists think they may have an explanation for how a three-dimensional universe emerged from the original nine dimensions of space. They describe their new supercomputer calculations simulating the birth of our universe in a forthcoming paper in Physical Review Letters.

Before the Big Bang, the cosmos was a perfectly symmetrical nine-dimensional universe (or ten, if you add in the dimension of time) with all four fundamental forces unified at unimaginably high temperatures. But this universe was highly unstable and cracked in two, sending an immense shock wave reverberating through the embryonic cosmos.

The result was two separate space-times: the unfurled three-dimensional one that we inhabit, and a six-dimensional one that contracted as violently as ours expanded, shrinking into a tiny Planckian ball. As our universe expanded and cooled, the four forces split off one by one, beginning with gravity. Everything we see around us today is a mere shard of the original shattered nine-dimensional universe.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]