Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120329

Financial Crisis
»Amid Spain Concerns, France Pushes Trillion-Euro Debt Fund
»Euro Crisis: Greece’s Situation Brings Down Its Tourism
»Schulz: 1 Million EU Signatures Could Spur Finance Tax
»Spain: General Strike, Isolated Incidents and 58 Arrests
»Spain on Edge of Becoming Next Bailout Candidate
»Spanish Workers Strike Against Painful Reforms
»World’s Oldest Bank Posts Eur 4.69 Bn Loss for 2011
»Flight Crew Calls Police Due to 2 Unruly Children on Skywest Plane From Long Beach
»Justices Meet Friday to Vote on Health Care Case
»Pasadena Police Arrest 911 Caller After Unarmed Suspect is Killed
»Stranded 76-Year-Old Colo. Man Survives 10 Days in Nev. Desert on Melted Snow; Companion Dies
Europe and the EU
»Foreign Buyers Flock to Swedish Summer Homes
»France Bans 4 Foreign Imams From Muslim Conference
»France: Guerlain Guilty of Racism
»France: Lather, Rinse, And Repeat
»Germany: Freedom Fighter Fined for Telling Truth About Islam
»Italy: Dell’utri Buys Red Brigade Leaflets for 17,000 Euros
»Mafia Members Moving to Switzerland
»Sicilian Governor to be Charged With Mafia Links
»Sweden’s Defense Minister Quits Over Saudi Weapons Scandal
»Swiss Racism on the Rise: Human Rights Chief
»UK: ‘We Have Won the Most Sensational Victory’: George Galloway Secures Shock Victory in Bradford West by-Election
»UK: 6,000 Young Girls ‘At Any One Time Are at Risk of Rape by Gangs’
»UK: Report: George Galloway Returns to Westminster Wins Unprecedented Landslide in Bradford West
»Wales: Bridge Horror as Eight Railway Workers Mown Down by Black Cab ‘After Furious Row With Taxi Driver’by Eddie Wrenn
North Africa
»Algeria Refuses to Take Gunman Merah’s Body
Israel and the Palestinians
»Berlin Confirms Support for Palestine
Middle East
»BRICS Nations Warn Against a Possible Iran Strike
»Gulf: Water and Food Supplies at Risk
»Iraq: Mgr Sako Urges Christians “Not to Fear” Celebrating Easter
»Swiss Woman’s Captors: Free Bin Laden’s Wives
»Turkey: TV Censorship Hits Oliver Stone’s Alexander
South Asia
»Burma’s Rebound: The Triumphal Rise of Aung San Suu Kyi
»Forced Child Marriages on the Rise in Pakistan
»Indonesia: Mini-Skirt is ‘Pornographic’
»Pakistan: Seven Die in Quetta Shootings
»‘You Know What Men Are Like’: Indonesia to Ban Mini-Skirts Over Links to Rape
Far East
»As Mongolia Booms, Germany Wants a Slice of the Cake
»China’s Power Struggle: Is a Dangerous Divide Opening Between Beijing Leaders?
»Amid Debt Crisis, Athens Falls Apart
»Greek Police Start Sweeping Athens of Illegals
»UK: How Islam Became a Scapegoat for the Problems of Immigration
Culture Wars
»Swedes Launch ‘Sexless’ Web Search Tool
»BRICS Leaders Gather for Summit

Financial Crisis

Amid Spain Concerns, France Pushes Trillion-Euro Debt Fund

Eurozone finance ministers aim to boost their debt rescue fund on Friday but France split with Germany by calling for a trillion-euro firewall amid renewed concerns about Spain’s fiscal health. After months of fraught negotiations and international pressure, the ministers gather in Copenhagen hoping to set up a firewall big enough to keep speculators at bay following bailouts of Greece, Ireland and Portugal. The Group of 20 leading economies and the IMF have warned that they would offer help to the eurozone only if the 17-nation bloc builds up its rescue fund. French Finance Minister Francois Baroin called for a trillion-euro ($1.3 trillion) fund, days after the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) pressed for a “mother of all firewalls” of similar size.

“The firewall, it’s a little like the nuclear option in military planning, it’s there for dissuasion, not to be used,” Baroin said on BFM Business radio, although Germany has spoken only of a possible increase to 700 billion euros. “We naturally want that it to be as high as possible,” he said, because “the higher the firewall, the less is the risk fragile countries will come under attack on the markets, by speculators at least.”

Germany, the biggest contributor to the bailouts, finally dropped its resistance to any increase to the size of the rescue funds this week. Berlin indicated it would agree to combine the future permanent fund, the 500-billion-euro European Stability Mechanism (ESM), with the sums from the temporary European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) already committed to the three bailed out nations. This would give the eurozone 700 billion euros on paper, but in reality it would have 500 billion euros on hand to help other nations since the rest is already slated for Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Euro Crisis: Greece’s Situation Brings Down Its Tourism

Luxury yacht rentals slashed as are also normal cars

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS — Greece is casting a shadow over international tourism as its economic situation is having a tremendous impact on most of the sectors linked to tourism.

People working in the business claim a reduction in luxury yacht rentals of 35% compared to last year and a 50% fall in corporate tourism such as conferences and business events. Car rental agencies have instead registered 15% loss of their income.

Experts in this sector such as Andreas Stylianopoulos, member of the Greek association for tourism businesses (SETE) and vice president of the Passenger Shipping Association (SEEN) expect a hard blow also towards cruise ship bookings. Khatimerini newspaper writes that Stylianopoulos attended the Seatrade Cruise Shipping Convention which took place in Miami, Florida at the beginning of the month. What emerged from the congress was a clear message that this year Greece must expect a reduction in its arrival of cruise ship passengers. “Foreign tourists’ interests” said Stylianopoulos, “continues to hover around Athens although by now there’s great worry for the negative reputation the Greek capital has gained itself due to its violent fighting in the street demonstrations aired all over the globe”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Schulz: 1 Million EU Signatures Could Spur Finance Tax

The citizens’ initiative — a participative democracy tool coming into effect at the end of this week — could be used to pressure EU politicians into accepting a financial transactions tax (FTT), the European Parliament President has said.

“I don’t know if the next citizens’ initiative would make the crisis disappear, I hope so. But a citizen’s initiative to introduce the financial transactions tax could even increase the pressure on those who are still reluctant,” Martin Schulz said at a press conference on Wednesday (28 March).

His words come just as Germany — until now among the most ardent supporters of such a tax — appeared to concede that it is a no-go in the EU. “We just can’t get it done,” German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble said Monday. Berlin had been trying to push for an FTT at the EU-level but London, in particular, has been strongly opposed.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spain: General Strike, Isolated Incidents and 58 Arrests

Unions, 85% of workers took part in the strike

(ANSAmed) — MADRID — A tense state of calm marked by a few isolated incidents were seen in the first hours of today’s general strike, called by the UGT and CcOo unions against labour sector reform. The protest is being conducted in a “calm manner”, according to the general director of the Interior Ministry, Cristina Diaz, in statements to the media.

A few incidents have been seen, however, in Murcia and Seville and other cities, which have so far led to 58 arrests and 3 minor injuries: most were among the “picketing’ of central markets such as those in Barcelona and Murcia, which has been closed. Unions say that 85% of workers took part in the strike during the shifts which began at midnight and lasted until 8 AM this morning, especially in the metallurgic, construction and waste collection sectors: higher than the turnout for the previous general strike in September 2010 against the anti-deficit measures brought in by the Zapatero government then in power. UGT and CcOo spokesmen say that “citizens have given a lesson in civic responsibility”, faced with the “disproportionate presence” of security forces in the streets, according to the head of communication for the Unione General Trabajadores, José Javier Cubillo, who said that in Madrid the massive police presence “seems the Normandy landing”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spain on Edge of Becoming Next Bailout Candidate

Spain is shut down by a general strike as people’s patience about austerity cuts, towering unemployment and tougher labor laws wears thin. But the country needs to save even more money to stave off bankruptcy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spanish Workers Strike Against Painful Reforms

Spain is gripped by strikes as anger against the government’s planned labor reforms threatens to bubble over, but the government says it won’t budge. Spanish workers held a general strike on Thursday to protest against labor reforms being planned by its new government.

“The people will say whether they are resigned to accepting the reforms,” said Ignacio Fernandez Toxo, leader of one of Spain’s biggest unions, CCOO, in reference to the collecting crowds of protestors.

Protestors gathered in the early hours of Thursday to form picket lines outside wholesale markets. Television stations have gone off the air and production in several of the nation’s car factories has come to a standstill.

Fifty eight people have been detained and nine injured in skirmishes that have taken place since midnight, when the strike began. The protests are expected to culminate in major rallies on Thursday evening in Madrid and other Spanish cities.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

World’s Oldest Bank Posts Eur 4.69 Bn Loss for 2011

Italy’s Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the world’s oldest bank, on Thursday unveiled a loss of 4.69 billion euros for 2011 due to “extraordinarily difficult” conditions after making a profit in 2010. The bank, which was founded in 1472 and had posted a profit of 985 million euros in 2010, said in a statement it was hit by “a progressive slowdown in economic growth and an exacerbation of the sovereign debt crisis.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Flight Crew Calls Police Due to 2 Unruly Children on Skywest Plane From Long Beach

LONG BEACH (CBS) — A Skywest crew radioed authorities Tuesday when two children refused to fasten their seat belts on a flight from Long Beach to Portland, Ore.

Officers with the Port of Portland Police Department were called to meet the Skywest-operated Alaska Airlines plane when it landed at Portland International Airport at 7:20 p.m., Alaska spokeswoman Marianne Lindsey told CBS2.

“During the flight, the children became disruptive and wouldn’t stay in their seats and wouldn’t fasten their seat belts, which is against federal regulations,” she said in a statement.

It was unknown if they were seated at the time of the landing.

“Following this, an Alaska Airlines supervisor meet with the family (of four), talked with them about the need to comply with Federal Air Regulations that the children must be in their seats and remain buckled when asked,” Lindsey added. “Our supervisor then personally escorted the family to the gate for their connecting flight Alaska Airlines Flight 2056 from Portland to Seattle which departed at 8:30 p.m.”

The family’s name has not been released.

[Return to headlines]

Justices Meet Friday to Vote on Health Care Case

WASHINGTON (AP) — While the rest of us have to wait until June, the justices of the Supreme Court will know the likely outcome of the historic health care case by the time they go home this weekend.

After months of anticipation, thousands of pages of briefs and more than six hours of arguments, the justices will vote on the fate of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul in under an hour Friday morning. They will meet in a wood-paneled conference room on the court’s main floor. No one else will be present.

In the weeks after this meeting, individual votes can change. Even who wins can change, as the justices read each other’s draft opinions and dissents.

But Friday’s vote, which each justice probably will record and many will keep for posterity, will be followed soon after by the assignment of a single justice to write a majority opinion, or in a case this complex, perhaps two or more justices to tackle different issues. That’s where the hard work begins, with the clock ticking toward the end of the court’s work in early summer.

The late William Rehnquist, who was chief justice for nearly 19 years, has written that the court’s conference “is not a bull session in which off-the-cuff reactions are traded.” Instead, he said, votes are cast, one by one in order of seniority.

The Friday conference also is not a debate, says Brian Fitzpatrick, a Vanderbilt University law professor who worked for Justice Antonin Scalia 10 years ago. There will be plenty of time for the back-and-forth in dueling opinions that could follow.

“There’s not a whole lot of give and take at the conference. They say, ‘This is how I’m going to vote’ and give a few sentences,” Fitzpatrick said.

It will be the first time the justices gather as a group to discuss the case. Even they do not always know in advance what the others are thinking when they enter the conference room adjacent to Chief Justice John Roberts’ office…

[Return to headlines]

Pasadena Police Arrest 911 Caller After Unarmed Suspect is Killed

LOS ANGELES — On a 911 call to the Pasadena police Saturday night, the caller said two young black men had put a gun in his face and had stolen his backpack.

When officers responded to the scene, they shot Kendrec McDade, a 19-year-old black man from the nearby city of Azusa, who died of his injuries at a local hospital.

But on Wednesday, the Pasadena police announced that they had arrested the man who made the 911 call, Oscar Carrillo, on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter, because he lied to the police about the suspect being armed.

Lt. Phlunte Riddle said the police now believe that neither Mr. McDade nor his 17-year-old companion was armed. But when officers saw Mr. McDade reach for his waistband, she said, they believed that he was armed and that “their lives were in jeopardy.”

“Mr. Carrillo is partly responsible for creating that situation,” Lieutenant Riddle said…

[Return to headlines]

Stranded 76-Year-Old Colo. Man Survives 10 Days in Nev. Desert on Melted Snow; Companion Dies

LAS VEGAS — A 76-year-old diabetic Colorado man survived 10 days in the remote Nevada desert by melting snow and using skills he learned as a Boy Scout, but a friend who was with him and ventured away to get help died.

James Klemovich and Laszlo Szabo, 75, went to scope out some mines in the state when their car became stuck on a lonely road with no cell phone service, Klemovich’s wife, Joanne, said Thursday.

The men tried unsuccessfully to dislodge the car, and lit flares and started fires in hopes somebody would see them in northwestern Nevada’s Pershing County, an area where less than 7,000 people are spread over 6,000 square miles.

They used a towel in the car to strain ditch water and snow into water bottles, but, after four or five days, Szabo left to get help. Joanne Klemovich began to worry when several days passed without a phone call from her husband.

“I figured maybe they’d had an accident and they were stranded,” she said. “I thought maybe they were in a mine shaft. All kinds of things were going through my head.”

Joanne Klemovich said she was expecting the worst when authorities called Tuesday night to say her husband had been found by military personnel who were holding training exercises in the area.

“I thought it was bad news, but it was very good news,” she said by telephone from the couple’s home in Littleton, Colo. “I didn’t know what to even do or say.”

James Klemovich has diabetes, wears a pacemaker and had a triple bypass heart surgery, his wife said.

He told her he wasn’t panicking while he sat for days waiting for Szabo’s return, she said. He kept a journal, noting how much water he drank and what he did each day. And he wrote a letter each day for her.

Drinking regularly was likely the biggest factor in his survival despite the diabetes that could have sent his blood sugar dangerously out of whack, according to Rita Kalyani, who teaches endocrinology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

During a fast, she said, the body can draw glucose from the liver or from fat stores to keep levels from dropping too low. But having enough water is essential to flush out excess glucose and prevent levels from rising too high.

When the military personnel found Klemovich, they gave him a banana, two oranges and three boiled eggs, he told his wife.

Szabo, of Lovelock, Nev., was found dead about a mile and a half away. An autopsy is being performed.

Klemovich said her husband hasn’t been talking much about his friend and that she doesn’t know whether Szabo has any close relatives…

[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Foreign Buyers Flock to Swedish Summer Homes

More and more foreigners are snapping up summer homes in Sweden, new statistics show, with Norwegians, Germans, and Danes among those most eager to own a slice of Swedish summer paradise.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France Bans 4 Foreign Imams From Muslim Conference

(AGI) Paris — The French government has banned entry to four Muslim preachers for the congress of the UOIF. The Union of Islamic Organisations of France is holding its conference in Le Bourget 6 to 9 April. The decision was taken over their ‘calls to hatred and violence’ adjudged to be against ‘republican values’, as explained in a statement from foreign minister, Alain Juppe’, and interior minister, Claude Gueant. The four imams are Akrima Sabri, Ayed Bin Abdalah Al Qarni, Safwat Al Hijazi and Abdalah Basfar. The note also protests against the invitation to Tariq Ramadan, a ‘Swiss citizen whose statements are contrary to republican spirit’. A well known intellectual from Geneva and grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Ramadan has often roused controversy due to his ‘strong’ statements about Islam, and in 2004 the US revoked his visa, considering him persona non grata.

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

France: Guerlain Guilty of Racism

A Paris court on Thursday found Jean-Paul Guerlain, the former “nose” behind the world-famous perfume brand, guilty of racial insults after televised remarks he made about “negroes” and fined him.

Asked in a 2010 interview about how he created the Samsara scent, Guerlain replied: “For once, I set to work like a negro. I don’t know if negroes have always worked like that, but anyway.”

The court judged that the second part of his reply was racist and fined him €6,000 ($8,000). The maximum it could have imposed was six months in prison and a €22,500 fine. Guerlain was also ordered to pay €2,000 euros in damages to each of three anti-racist groups that were civil plaintiffs in the case.

The 75-year-old heir to one of the world’s oldest perfume houses was not in court for the verdict of the trial that began last month. His lawyer said he did not know if he would appeal. Guerlain used the word “negre”, which is also commonly used in France in its other meaning signifying “ghost writer”. The 2010 incident sparked widespread condemnation, with anti-racism groups saying it highlighted deep prejudice in French society.

Earlier this month French police said they were probing additional accusations that Guerlain made an anti-immigrant rant against Eurostar workers. Three employees of the high-speed rail firm that links Paris and London made a complaint to police accusing Guerlain of making remarks of a racist nature as they helped the wheelchair-bound pensioner board a train.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France: Lather, Rinse, And Repeat

by Mark Steyn

The killer of French schoolchildren and soldiers turns out to be a man called Mohammed Merah. The story can now proceed according to time-honored tradition:

Stage One: The strange compulsion to assure us that the killer is a “right wing conservative extremist,” in the words of NRO commenter ExpatAsia, echoed by Chrisman and Galt’s Bain. Up north, this view was shared by Canada’s most prominent establishment Jew and the Liberal Party attack poodle Warren Kinsella (whom NR readers may recall from my free-speech cover story, which mentioned the groveling apology he was forced to make to “the Chinese community” after an unfortunately sinophobic cat joke). The insistence that the killer was emblematic of an epidemic of right-wing hate sweeping the planet is, regrettably, no longer operative. Instead, the killer isn’t representative of anything at all.

So on to Stage Two: Okay, he may be called Mohammed but he’s a “lone wolf.” Sure, he says he was trained by al-Qaeda, but what does he know? Don’t worry, folks, he’s just a lone wolf like Major Hasan and Faisal Shahzad and all the other card-carrying members of the Amalgamated Union of Lone Wolves. All jihad is local.

On to Stage Three: Okay, even if there are enough lone wolves around to form their own Radio City Rockette line, it’s still nothing to do with Islam. I’m sad to see the usually perceptive Ed West of the London Telegraph planting his flag on this wobbling blancmange.

And then, of course, Stage Four: The backlash that never happens. Because apparently the really bad thing about actual dead Jews is that it might lead to dead non-Jews: “French Muslims Fear Backlash After Shooting.” Likewise, after Major Hasan’s mountain of dead infidels, “Shooting Raises Fears For Muslims In US Army.” Likewise, after the London Tube slaughter, “British Muslims Fear Repercussions After Tomorrow’s Train Bombing.” Oh, no, wait, that’s a parody, though it’s hard to tell.

Look, pace Ed West, isn’t it just a teensy-weensy little bit to do with Islam? Or at any rate the internal contradictions of one-way multiculturalism? No, it’s not a competition. Most times in today’s Europe, the guys beating, burning and killing Jews will be Muslims. Once in a while, it will be somebody else killing the schoolkids. But is it so hard to acknowledge that rapid, transformative, mass Muslim immigration might not be the most obvious aid to social tranquility? That it might possibly pose challenges that would otherwise not have existed — for uncovered women in Oslo, for gays in Amsterdam, for Jews everywhere? Is it so difficult to wonder if, for these and other groups living in a long-shot social experiment devised by their rulers, the price of putting an Islamic crescent in the diversity quilt might be too high? What’s left of Jewish life in Europe is being extinguished remorselessly, one vandalized cemetery, one subway attack at a time. How many Jewish children will be at that school in Toulouse a decade hence? A society that becomes more Muslim eventually becomes less everything else. What is happening on the Continent is tragic, in part because it was entirely unnecessary.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Germany: Freedom Fighter Fined for Telling Truth About Islam

“Islam will return to Europe as a conqueror and victor…” — Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi

Once again, a human rights activist is punished for repeating what Muslims say without any fear of penalty of any kind. The court ruled: “The complaint against the named person is: He allegedly spread by means of data storage writings that incited to hatred against a religious group, to violence and arbitrary measures against them, hurting their human dignity; so that they might be abused, maliciously despised and libeled.” (Thanks to Uwe)

It is not “incitement to hatred” to tell the truth about any individual or group, or to report accurately about their activities. It is simply reality. It only becomes actual “incitement to hatred” if one calls for violence against that group, or even for hatred of that group, instead of simply defense of freedom and human rights. Michael Mannheimer, whom I had the honor of meeting when I spoke in Germany last summer, has never called for hatred or violence. He has simply told the truth, which so few have the courage to tell.

Free Speech Death Watch Alert: “Penalty Fine Against Michael Mannheimer,” from Politically Incorrect, March 27 (thanks to David):

On February 14, 2012, Michael Mannheimer received a penalty fine from the Heilbronn district court in the degree of 50 days at 50 euros per day (2,500 euros). The basis for the fine was Mannheimer’s criticism of Islam, especially his claim that Islam is working on taking over and islamizing Europe. In addition to this, his evidence that Islam is striving for world power and his conclusion that Qur’an and Sharia are irreconcilable with the Constitution. Mannheimer’s publicized call for public resistance from April 8th of last year where he invoked Article 20 Section 4 of the Constitution….

Donations can be made for Michael Mannheimer under the following account:…

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Italy: Dell’utri Buys Red Brigade Leaflets for 17,000 Euros

(AGI) Milan — Marcel Dell’Ultri bought at auction 17 Red Brigade leaflets printed between 1974 and 1978 for 17,000 euro.

The offer made by telephone by the PDL deputy to Bolaggi beat those of the other 50 participants. The leaflets include press release no. 6 that announced the death sentence against Aldo Moro. Today’s auction also sold documents signed by Hitler and Saddam Hussein, as well as old books and letters belonging to Manzoni and Machiavelli. A group of policemen, members of COISP, protested outside the headquarters of Bolaffi against the auction of these leaflets.

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

Mafia Members Moving to Switzerland

At least four suspected members of Italy’s major mafia organisations are thought to be resident in Switzerland. According to the results of a criminal investigation, four suspected members thought to belong to some of Italy’s most notorious mafia groups, the Cosa Nostra, Camorra and Sacra Corona Unita, are residing in Switzerland, newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung reported.

The findings have been revealed as the government confirmed on Wednesday that tackling mafia and other organised crime in Switzerland would be a top priority for the coming years.

Italian mafia outfits, under pressure from the Italian authorities, are thought to be moving parts of their business, particularly their money-laundering operations, to Switzerland, the newspaper reported.

The greatest threat is perceived as coming from the increasingly powerful Ndrangheta, from Calabria in southern Italy. According to a report by the European Institute of Political, Economic and Social Studies in Italy, in 2007, the business volume for the Ndrangheta, whose main revenue is earned through drug trafficking, was the equivalent of approximately 2.9 percent of the country’s GDP.

Also on the government’s radar are mafia groups coming from southern Europe, whose activities include drug trafficking, human trafficking, theft and robbery.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sicilian Governor to be Charged With Mafia Links

(AGI) Catania- Catania judge Luigi Barone has decided Sicilian governor Raffaele Lombardo will have to be charged. He is being accused of association with the Mafia in the context of the “Iblis” investigation. Last night the hearing for the defense’s request to dismiss the charges being leveled at the President of the region and his brother Angelo, a politician, drew to a close. The decision was announced today. The judge has given the prosecutor’s office 10 days to table an adjournment of the trial. & 13; In past hearings, the prosecutor’s office confirmed the request to dismiss the charges, based on the so-called Mannino sentence’ issued by the Supreme Court, claim joint prosecutors Michelangelo Patane and Carmelo Zuccaro. Said sentence has to do with the intricacies of the offense in question, association with the Mafia.

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

Sweden’s Defense Minister Quits Over Saudi Weapons Scandal

Sweden’s defense minister has left his post after failing to survive the political storm that a weapons deal with Saudi Arabia has created. It is a serious blow to an already beleagured Swedish government.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Swiss Racism on the Rise: Human Rights Chief

Switzerland’s government needs to do much more to tackle rising racism and xenophobia, a Commissioner from the European Council on Human Rights said in a letter to the Swiss foreign ministry.

The ECHR Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg sent his strongly worded letter earlier this month to Swiss foreign minister Didier Burkhalter.

“Manifestations of racism and xenophobia appear to be on the rise in Switzerland. Disturbing political campaigns with aggressive, insulting slogans against foreigners are tendencies of great concern,” the letter read.

Hammarberg said that he recognized “the value and importance of an open political debate”, but went on to say that freedom of expression should not be absolute.

“It can and at times must be restricted by the authorities in order to safeguard the human rights and fundamental freedoms of others,” he said.

A cause for concern, the Commissioner also noted that “political discourse of xenophobic and racist nature is… not criminally sanctioned by the courts”, and he called for an overhaul of the Swiss criminal law “in order to put an end to impunity for xenophobic and racist public discourse.”

Hammarberg went on to say that discrimination laws also needed to be strengthened to protect not only the rights of non-nationals, but also of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

“Switzerland’s human rights protection system would greatly benefit from the establishment of Ombudspersons in all cantons, complemented by a Federal Ombudsperson with a coordinative function and a long awaited National Human Rights Institution”, the Commissioner recommended.

The letter also raised concerns about the recent move to restrict migrants’ abilities to include family members in their applications, making family reunification even harder than it previously has been.

Burkhalter replied on Wednesday, thanking the Commissioner for his comments, promising that the comments would be given close consideration by the relevant bodies of authority.

He reiterated the government’s commitment to tackling racism, and he confirmed that the compatibility of certain popular initiatives with human rights legislation was under review.

He also replied that the Federal Constitution already guards against discrimination on the grounds of a person’s chosen lifestyle, and that respect for family life is also taken into consideration when considering migrants’ applications.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: ‘We Have Won the Most Sensational Victory’: George Galloway Secures Shock Victory in Bradford West by-Election

George Galloway has delivered a humiliating blow to Labour by snatching the Bradford West seat that the party had held for nearly four decades.

He scored a dramatic victory with a 10,000-plus majority in what he called a ‘massive rejection’ of mainstream parties.

Respect swept from fifth place at the 2010 general election to a commanding victory for the ex-Labour anti-war campaigner against his former party on a swing of 36.59 per cent.

It was ‘the most sensational result in British by-election history bar none’, he said on stage after being declared the victor with well over half the total votes.

He secured a total of 18,341 votes — easily knocking Labour into second place with just 8,201.

The Conservatives took third place after a disastrous week for the Government with 2,746 votes, followed by the Liberal Democrats with just 1.505, and other candidates jointly taking 2,021 ballots.

Last night Mr Galloway tweeted: ‘By the Grace of God we have won the most sensational victory in British political history.’

After securing his victory, he said: ‘It is a very comprehensive defeat for new Labour. It’s a miserable, pathetic performance by the Government and the parties.

‘The big three political parties have had a very salutary, unkind lesson this evening and I hope that they all take note.

‘The people of Bradford have spoken this evening for people in inner cities everywhere in the United Kingdom.’…

[Return to headlines]

UK: 6,000 Young Girls ‘At Any One Time Are at Risk of Rape by Gangs’

Gangs are sexually abusing and raping thousands of young girls every year, it emerged last night.

Up to 6,000 may be victims at any one time, according to the expert in charge of a major inquiry.

Sue Berelowitz, the deputy Children’s Commissioner for England, said victims are often ‘kidnapped, held at gunpoint and threatened with gang rape’.

She is leading a major, two-year investigation into the problem of street gangs and their attacks on young women.

She said that girls associated with male gang members ‘would all either be at extremely high risk or actually being sexually exploited in some shape or form’.

‘From the conversations we’ve had with individual girls, some of the stories are quite heart-rending, really, in terms of girls being kidnapped, held at gunpoint, threatened with being what the public would understand as gang raped,’ she told Channel 4 News.

Last year a University of Bedfordshire report into the sexual exploitation of children found three-quarters of child protection boards in England were not recording information on child sexual exploitation — making it hard to measure the true scale of the abuse.

The academics found children were often groomed or put under pressure by older girls who were also victims of peer pressure.

One former gang member, Isha Nembhard, said many girls do not even recognise themselves as victims of abuse.

She added: ‘They’d rather be called a slag than say that somebody’s assaulting them or sexually abusing them in that sort of way.’

Metropolitan Police Detective Chief Inspector Petrina Cribb said: ‘We’re talking about sexual exploitation, manipulation, coercion into sexual acts, which they may feel they’ve got no option but to go along with.’

It was also claimed that young girls are advertising themselves to gang members on social networking sites.

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

UK: Report: George Galloway Returns to Westminster Wins Unprecedented Landslide in Bradford West


QUESTION: How did George Galloway win Bradford West?

ANSWER: By successfully claiming to be a better Muslim than the Muslim Pakistani Labour candidate in what has always been a safe Labour seat!

Mr Galloway has for years been darkly hinting that he is a secret Muslim, as this video demonsrates, while acting with incredulity towards anyone who would dare to be impertinent enough to ask him to come clean.

It is very important to fully understand what this historic result represents. In response Michael Coren has tweeted, that the “Bradford vote proves UK Muslims care about Islam, not Britain. Culture war — denial increasingly futile.” In fact it means much more than this, and two key things are profoundly and undeniably proven by this result.

The first, and here I am thinking of the incredulity that greeted Kent Ekeroth from all sides over the subject in this interview posted by Eeyore earlier today, is that this result must finally dismiss any last vestige of skepticism over the reality that Europe is being Islamised.

It is important to be clear. A white Scotsman born a Roman Catholic, has just won a respounding victory in Europe against a Pakistani Mulsim Labour favourite, precisely because he convinced the local populace that he was a more active/pious/true Muslim than the person he was against. This is Islamisation crystallizing politically before are very eyes, in inglorious technicolour.

The left wingers did what has always worked in the past, and are now scatching their heads in incredulity and astonishment. They accused everyone else of racism, but then played the race card with consumate skill. To them, on paper at least, their candidate in the safe Labour seat, was perfect. A locally born 33-year old barrister and Pakistani “Muslim”, Imran Hussein, who had chaired the local Labour party for years, and was deputy leader of the council.

There was one crucial difference, Mr Hussein is a moderate Muslim, a secular Muslim, a reform Muslim, that is, not a real Muslim at all.

Just like the French “Muslim” paratroopers killed by Mohamed Merah in France only two weeks ago, that are supposed, in the ignorant minds of liberals, to refute the self-evident truth that Merah was driven by Islam.

Because what Mr Galloway did — in a constituency in which had never set foot before — against a Labour party with 100 times his financial resources, was simply, with the use of the electoral roll, to post the following letter through the letterboxes of the Muslim households of Bradford West, a week before the polls opened:…

[Return to headlines]

Wales: Bridge Horror as Eight Railway Workers Mown Down by Black Cab ‘After Furious Row With Taxi Driver’by Eddie Wrenn

Eight work colleagues were mown down by a black cab after a ‘furious row’ with a taxi driver.

The eight railmen, wearing fluorescent uniforms, were left flattened on a pavement after the taxi ploughed into them on a bridge, just yards from the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, last night.

The railway workers were told they were ‘lucky to be alive’ after being given emergency treatment at the roadside by 999 teams.

A taxi driver has now been arrested on suspicion of murder.

Passers-by were shocked at the scene of carnage as the railway team were struck on a pavement just 200 yards from the Welsh capital’s main train station.

One witness said: ‘It was incredible. I saw an argument between the workers in orange and a taxi driver.

‘Then that stopped but the taxi came round the corner — then the next thing I knew they were hit.

‘They looked like they were just going home from work and headed to the train station.’

All eight injured men were taken to hospital in Cardiff suffering a series of injuries, including spinal, but none life-threatening.

The road, which incorporates a bridge, was closed to traffic last night while investigations were under way. It has since reopened.

Police are taking witness statements at the bedside of the eight men about the minutes before the carnage.

A spokesman said: ‘Eight male pedestrians, all from Cardiff, were taken to hospital following an incident involving a taxi on Wood Street bridge.

‘One of the men — aged 35 from Grangetown — remains in hospital having suffered burns.

‘A 28-year-old man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of attempted murder and is currently in police custody.

‘Detectives are checking CCTV in the area and are asking any businesses or residents to review their CCTV for any footage which may assist.

‘They are also appealing for anyone who may have witnessed this incident or events leading up to the collision to contact them.’

Another witness said: ‘I turned up to see all of these people in their work clothes sprawled out on the floor I had no idea what happened.

‘It looked like a couple of them might be dead. They weren’t moving and it was really worrying.

‘But loads of ambulances and police cars turned up really quickly and people that were passing by rushed to help.’

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algeria Refuses to Take Gunman Merah’s Body

The Islamist gunman branded a “monster” by President Nicolas Sarkozy will be buried in France because Algeria refused to let him be buried there, a Muslim official said Thursday.

Abdallah Zekri of the Paris Grand Mosque said Mohamed Merah’s family had asked him to organise a funeral in France after Algeria cited security reasons for rejecting their request for him to be buried in their ancestral homeland. “The family has asked me to organise a funeral within 24 hours,” said Zekri, who was speaking in the southwestern city of Toulouse where Merah died last Thursday.

Zekri said he believed that the 23-year-old, who died in a hail of police bullets last Thursday after a 32-hour siege on his Toulouse apartment, would be buried in the Muslim section of the city’s Cornebarrieu cemetery. The body had been due to be flown to Algeria on Thursday, his family said Wednesday. Merah boasted before he died that he gunned down three soldiers, three Jewish schoolchildren and a teacher in three separate attacks.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Berlin Confirms Support for Palestine

The German-Palestinian coordination council has met for the second time to discuss relations and to confirm German support for Palestinian efforts at stabilization.

The German government will be giving Palestine 70 million euros this year, of which 40 million will be earmarked for development. That’s intended to help build up infrastructure and state institutions, as well as for the start of a joint technical research program on such projects as solar energy.

The German foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, announced the financial support at the end of a meeting of the German-Palestinian Coordination Council on Wednesday in Berlin.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Middle East

BRICS Nations Warn Against a Possible Iran Strike

The world’s emerging powers have said that the only way to resolve crises in Syria and Iran would be through dialogue as the BRICS summit came to a close in New Delhi on Thursday.

At the end of the summit, the BRICS bloc — comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — issued a warning to the West and Israel against possible military action over Iran’s controversial nuclear program.

The bloc’s declaration warned of “disastrous consequences” if the Iran conflict were allowed to escalate. It also backed UN efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis through “peaceful means.”

“We agreed that a lasting solution in Syria and Iran can only be found through dialogue,” Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in a closing statement of the one-day BRICS summit.

The BRICS nations also announced long-term plans to launch a BRICS development bank. According to the declaration, the BRICS finance ministers will evaluate the proposal and it will be discussed again at the bloc’s next summit in South Africa in 2013.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Gulf: Water and Food Supplies at Risk

Population increase and development. New rules needed

Food and water are becoming a dangerous necessity for the oil monarchies of the Persian Gulf, who import 80% of their required food and also would have a mere three days of water supplies left, should the desalination plants register a failure. A new specific policy regarding water supplies is now a necessity. This is the general situation as seen by the conference on food and water safety in the Persian Gulf, organized by the centre for strategic studies in Abu Dhabi. The request for water has leaped from 6 million cubic meters in 1980 to 26 million in 1995 as population is growing exponentially. The last decade has registered a demographic increase, whether natural or by immigration, of 43%. 70% of the demand for water is employed in agriculture which accounts though for only 2% to 7% of the GDP created by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrein, United Arab Emirated (UAE) and Oman.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Iraq: Mgr Sako Urges Christians “Not to Fear” Celebrating Easter

For the archbishop of Kirkuk, Iraqi Christians are part of a “Church that suffers intensely”. Lent is a time to reflect about the faith and, despite difficulties, open up to the world. The prelate cites a number of acts of solidarity that brought together Christians and Muslims. He urges the faithful to renew through the Gospel their enthusiasm in the faith.

Kirkuk (AsiaNews) — “Fear not” is what Mgr Louis Sako, archbishop of Kirkuk, told Christians in preparation for the upcoming Easter. Iraq’s Christians are victims of violence and persecution. In less than a decade, this has reduced the community by half. Still, they are not alone for the entire nation is being torn apart by an unending confessional, political and tribal war.

In a world of big and small sufferings, the archbishop calls for the rediscovery of the Good News to bear witness to the faith without concerns and fears. Bishops and priests are called to perform this task and young people can look up and learn from them.

Here are the reflections Mgr Louis Sako sent to AsiaNews.

Iraq is a country that has been suffering from violence for many years. We Christians are part of a Church that suffers intensely. Over time, Lent has become a time to reflect deeply about our faith, a time not to shut ourselves off from the world, and this despite the critical situation. It is a time to open up to a deep dimension that draws hope for those, especially the younger ones, who face difficulties, and those who lead a life of precariousness and fear. This hope is found in the Lord’s words, “Fear not!” This is what the Good News urges us to do, even if we are persecuted in so many ways and languish on the sidelines, something that those who lead a tranquil life or live in luxury cannot fully grasp.

The Good News is meant especially for the very poor, for those who lead an uncertain existence or are not fully free. We recited all of our prayers and performed the Via Crucis in this spirit. We shared what we had with the needy and many young people fasted.

There were many acts of solidarity, among them that of a young man who handed us US$ 2,000 “to help families celebrate Easter”. A young woman gave me US$ 1,000 for the disabled, “not only Christians but also Muslims . . . for the whole community.” A group of Lebanese priests and nuns are also planning to visit us to celebrate Holy Week. All these acts show solidarity in deeds, not just words.

In Kirkuk, our small presence takes on a deeper meaning for our Muslim brothers. Our witness, in deeds and words, is alive and present. Recently, I met a politician who told me: “Only with you Christians can Iraq go forward and achieve progress.”

An Arab tribal leader has asked me to act as a mediator in order to promote dialogue among Kirkuk’s various ethnic and political groups, with the Chaldean cathedral as the venue where to meet. “We only trust you,” political and tribal leaders say. What more do we need to do to show how important our presence is . .. . ?

At a conference on the Arab spring, a young Christian woman from Syria spoke. Her name is Marcelle. “What have you bishops done for the good of the people,” she asked me. “Your caution does not help; it does not change the situation. What have you done with the ‘Spring of Christ’ in which the Good News was announced? We young people are doing more,” Marcelle said.

She then began singing in front of us and with us and all the participants, Muslims too. It was beautiful sign to behold, all of us united, reciting a hymn inspired by a psalm. I think perhaps we have lost some of the enthusiasm and radical quality of the Gospel.

Therefore, on this Easter I shall try to help the faithful not to fear, help them to proclaim their ‘Yes’ to God. I call on everyone to be close to our brothers in thought and prayer, and celebrate the communion, charity, life and love for our fellow man so that violence and fanaticism may stop and everyone live in peace and joy.

“Fear not,” I shall tell the faithful during Mass on Easter night.

* Archbishop of Kirkuk

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

Swiss Woman’s Captors: Free Bin Laden’s Wives

A bid to release a Swiss woman kidnapped in Yemen has suffered a blow after her abductors made excessive demands, including for Osama bin Laden’s widows to be freed, a tribal chief said on Thursday.

Al-Qaeda militants abducted the woman on March 14th from her home in the Red Sea port city of Hodeida, where she had been teaching at a foreign language institute. She was taken to far eastern Shabwa province.

Tribal chief Ali Abdullah Zibari said, however, that mediation efforts had so far failed because of excessive demands placed by her captors, including the release of bin Laden’s widows held in Pakistan. Zibari said the Islamic extremists also demanded the release of several women held in Iraq and Saudi Arabia in return for the Swiss captive.

“Their initial demands for the release of (former Al-Qaeda chief) Osama bin Laden’s wives held in Pakistan were rejected by Yemeni officials last week,” Zibari told AFP, adding the group then placed new conditions for the Swiss woman’s return.

“Now they’re demanding the release of 100 Al-Qaeda affiliated militants from Yemeni jails and €50 million ($66 million)… at which point the mediation efforts failed because of the prohibitive demands,” he said.

Zibari played a crucial role in the release last November of three French aid workers kidnapped by Al-Qaeda and held for five months.

Shabwa province is a stronghold of Al-Qaeda’s local affiliate, the Partisans of Sharia (Islamic law), which has expanded its influence in recent months, taking advantage of the political turmoil that has swept the country and forced the resignation of veteran leader Ali Abdullah Saleh.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Turkey: TV Censorship Hits Oliver Stone’s Alexander

Sex scenes to be targeted following erotic music videos

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, MARCH 26 — TV censorship in Turkey with its Muslim majority but secular constitution is on the march: having attacked music videos, now Oliver Stone’s film “Alexander” finds itself facing fines. As daily paper Aksam reports, Turkey’s radio and television watchdog RTUK has imposed a fine of almost 21,000 euros on a private broadcasting channel for having transmitted the film about Alexander the Great by the US director and having included all of those scenes in which the protagonist acted by Colin Farrell acts violently towards his wife Rossane (played by Rosario Dawson), with attempts at rape. RTUK also fined some of the war scenes in the film for their “negative impact on children and young adults”: there is “sexual violence against women”, “a knife fight is shown, beating and an attempt at rape following a refusal” from Rosanne. Also considered harmful were “sex scenes portrayed through dialogues”. Back in January, the same watchdog had issued fines and warnings to a television channel and six music videos for their ‘obscene’ content, which was a ‘danger’ to the morals of young people. The 160,000-euro fine was imposed on the channel Show TV for showing mambo dancing and Cha-cha-cha that was found to be “erotic”, performed by dancers in “obscene” outfits. The six videos had been filmed with clearly erotic references, as was the case of one featuring singer Teoman, whose popularity also derives from his go-go dancers with a 1920s brothel backdrop.

There is plenty of pelvic gyration, but no total nudity. The artists hit by the fines criticised the reprimand: “Do we have to play the Smurfs to do well here?” came a sarcastic question from Murat Dalkilic, who entwined by at least three of the dancers in the video, who nonetheless managed to keep their bras and skirts in place.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Burma’s Rebound: The Triumphal Rise of Aung San Suu Kyi

A newfound optimism has infected much of Burma. The government has relaxed controls and might even make room for pro-democracy advocate and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi in the cabinet after this Sunday’s by-elections. But government clashes with ethnic minorities in the north of the country have tarnished these hopes for some.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Forced Child Marriages on the Rise in Pakistan

The centuries-old custom of forced child marriages, or wani, goes unchecked in Pakistan despite protests by human rights organizations and some legislators.

“They forced me to marry this guy. I did not want to marry him. My uncle beat me up so badly that he fractured my shoulder,” a fifteen-year-old girl told DW on condition of anonymity.

I interviewed this girl in Sukkur, a city in the southern Pakistani province of Sindh, in a crisis center for women. She was with her mother and was visibly devastated.

“My husband also beat me. He used to beat me even before our marriage. It was tormenting for my mother to look at me in this condition, so she brought me to this place. I never thought I would come to a women’s crisis center,” she said.

Child marriage, or wani, is being practiced in many parts of Pakistan, particularly in the rural Sindh, the Punjab, and the country’s northwestern tribal areas. The feuding tribes or clans exchange blood money or women to settle disputes.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Indonesia: Mini-Skirt is ‘Pornographic’

Jakarta, 28 March (AKI) — The mini-skirts is pornographic, according to Indonesian Religious Affairs Minister, Suryadharma Ali.

Skirts hemmed above the knee will be included in a government task force’s definition of pornography, according to news reports.

“There must be a set of universal criteria to define something as pornographic, of which one will be when someone wears a skirt above the knee,” Suryadharma, said on the margins of a Lower House hearing, the Jakarta Post reported on Wednesday.

The task force is creating a working definition of pornography that the government will rely on in the future to enforce indecency laws.

After standard has been set, the task force would apply it nationwide across all ethnicities, he said, according to the report.

Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono set up the task force as part of an effort to implement a 2008 law that aims to curb the distribution of pornographic material.

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

Pakistan: Seven Die in Quetta Shootings

Quetta, 29 March (AKI/Dawn) — Seven people lost their lives in two separate Thursday shooting incidents in Quetta by unidentified gunmen, DawnNews reported.

The first attack took place in the Kali Mubarak area of Quetta, where five people including a women were killed and six people were injured, when some unknown armed men opened fire.

According to police sources, a Suzuki pick up was on its way to the city, from Hazara town when it was ambushed by armed gunmen on Spini Road near Kali Mubarak.The indiscriminate firing of the attackers killed five people and left six injured. The injured were rushed to the Combined Military Hospital, where the condition of three injured is believed to be critical.

The Hazara Democratic Party has condemned the attack and announced a ‘shutter down’ strike call for Friday, 30th March.

The second attack took place in Mastung district of Balochistan, where the vehicle of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization came under attack.

The gunmen opened fire on the UN staff as they were riding in a car through Baluchistan province’s Mastung district, killing two people, said police officer Rustam Khan.

The two killed included a member of the group’s project staff and a hired driver, said a UN official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media. Another staff member was wounded, he said.

The injured was shifted to Civil hospital Mastung and is stated to be in critical condition.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The atmosphere in the province turned tense and some enraged protestors resorted to tyre burning and destruction of public property in many areas. A motor-cycle was torched outside the PMC and business centres and market shut down after the attack.

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

‘You Know What Men Are Like’: Indonesia to Ban Mini-Skirts Over Links to Rape

Indonesia’s powerful religious affairs minister believes that mini-skirts are pornographic and should be banned under the country’s tough new anti-porn laws. Minister Suryadharma Ali has been appointed to run Indonesia’s new anti-porn taskforce, announced by president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono earlier this month. He told reporters in Jakarta yesterday that before deciding what they must ban as pornography, the taskforce would consult widely to come up with “a set of universal criteria”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Far East

As Mongolia Booms, Germany Wants a Slice of the Cake

Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj is in Germany. He has met his counterpart Joachim Gauck and Chancellor Angela Merkel. The two countries are keen to expand their cooperation in the field of natural resources. With demand for natural resources set to double over the next 30 years, the global race is on to secure access to much coveted minerals.

Mongolia is one of the 10 countries in the world with the most natural resources, harboring an abundance of gold, copper, iron ore, coal, oil, rare earth elements and much more under the surface of its huge land mass.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

China’s Power Struggle: Is a Dangerous Divide Opening Between Beijing Leaders?

For weeks, China’s communist leaders have been embroiled in a bitter power struggle that could jeopardize a carefully planned transition in the national leadership and the course charted by more moderate reformers. Although the state has tried to keep the feuding under wraps, the Internet is awash with rumors — including those of a possible coup.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Amid Debt Crisis, Athens Falls Apart

As Greece struggles to master its devastating debt problem, decades of mismanagement have taken their toll on the country’s once-proud capital. Athens has degenerated into a hotbed of chaos and crime, where tensions between Greeks and immigrants have led to attacks on foreigners by the far-right.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greek Police Start Sweeping Athens of Illegals

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, MARCH 29 — Greek police intensified their sweeps targeting undocumented migrants and illegal street vendors in central Athens on Wednesday as authorities continued efforts to designate sites for temporary detention centers where migrants without papers are to be kept before being deported or, in a tiny percentage of cases, granted asylum. A crackdown by police outside the premises of Athens University Law School and the Athens University of Economics and Business resulted in the arrest of 21 illegal street vendors, all immigrants. Officers also evicted 26 undocumented migrants from a half-derelict building on central Marni Street and detained a foreign national alleged to have been charging the migrants rent to live in the squat. Sources told Kathimerini that police are to continue with their crackdown, adding that they have been instructed by their superiors to eliminate the illegal street trade in the city center within a week. During a meeting of top police officials chaired by Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis on Wednesday, it was decided that the ranks of the police would be boosted immediately with 200 special guards who have just completed their training. The aim is for an extra 1,100 officers to join the motorcycle-riding rapid-reaction squad DIAS soon.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: How Islam Became a Scapegoat for the Problems of Immigration

by Ed West

Something I wrote last week about Islam caused a bit of a stir, with one conservative blogger wondering if I had been threatened with beheading. The great Mark Steyn even wrote: “I’m sad to see the usually perceptive Ed West of the London Telegraph planting his flag on this wobbling blancmange.” Considering I am Mark Steyn’s biggest fan in the whole wide world, complete with a wall covered with pictures of him and a tattoo of his face on my chest, that’s left me with some mixed feelings. And yet I still believe that Islam has become something of a scapegoat for the problems associated with mass immigration, and here’s why.

Conservatism is all about protecting the community from radical change; that is why conservatives tend to oppose large-scale immigration, which alters the social fabric in a huge way. Yet from the 1960s to the 1990s, both in Britain and the US, conservatives lost this argument, despite overwhelming public support. They lost because they lost the intellectual justification for group solidarity or “parochial altruism” against post-war radical universalism, to the extent that normal human feelings were redefined as forms of mental illness. Defeat. Until Islam came along, allowing conservatives to make arguments using language that liberals would permit. Mass immigration brings enormous social costs, most of which are borne by the working classes, who in England have been shafted by an experiment in which they had no say and which was instigated by people far richer and more privileged than them. People are, understandably, uneasy about it.

But although many of the more intelligent people behind some “anti-jihad” groups are genuinely horrified by certain Islamic attitudes to women, homosexuality or Jews, to suggest that most people go on English Defence League marches for these reasons strikes me as absurd. Most people oppose large-scale immigration from countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Somalia not because of Islam but because the newcomers are alien to them and their arrival disrupts their neighbourhood and life. These are understandable human feelings, but people are unable to articulate them without committing a thought crime. So instead the problems of mass immigration are blamed on Islam, including the problems associated with immigrants themselves. Take Mohammed Merah, the Toulouse killer; before becoming an Islamist he had a long, long record of juvenile crime, with 15 convictions behind him. He discovered religion while in prison, just like many British Islamists, such as shoebomber Richard Reid; many others became radicalised through gang involvement and crime, such as Germaine Lindsay. These were not ordinary young men corrupted by the Prophet Mohammed. Islamism is political; it attracts angry, extreme, violent young men from the immigrant underclass who find others willing to justify their thirst for violence, by using holy texts. Merah’s justification — “you killed my brothers, I kill you” — are not words of faith but naked tribalism.

Conservatism’s obsession with Islam is partly a reaction to multiculturalism, which holds that all religions are basically the same. This is untrue, as anyone with even a middling understanding of history can appreciate: the current moral order that emerged from the West, the world of the Enlightenment, the UN and human rights, stems from Christianity. No other religion could have produced it — not Islam, Hinduism or Buddhism, because none have Christianity’s concept of the individual. Christianity is essentially a union of Hellenic and Hebrew civilisations, the greatest marriage that ever took place. Islam, in contrast, lacks not just Western concepts of the individual but also Christianity’s historic separation of the state and religion. There is also no doubt that Islam has a very ambiguous attitude to violence in its name. The religion desperately needs reform, but it is not incapable of it, and huge numbers of Muslims happily set aside the more unpalatable passages of their holy texts, just as Jews and Christians do. For middle-class British Muslims the popular idea that they practise some sort of political-religious death cult must strike them as bizarre, so removed from the actual practice of their religion.

The problem is not Islam, but the movement of peoples across the world, and the conflict this produces. One estimate suggests that although Islamic terrorists around the world typically fit no profile, in terms of age and education, 80 per cent are immigrants or the sons of immigrants. The problem with mass immigration is not Islam, but mass immigration, which creates the ghettos from where sectarianism thrives. The huge movements of recent years have made Islam and Christianity an anchor of identity to people in Europe. The EDL are essentially a Christianist group, but the sentiments behind sectarianism and nationalism are the same. One cannot blame sectarianism on religion any more than one can blame nationalism on language — it just is. (It’s not as if the Shankill butchers were forever discussing Calvin and Luther on their nights out.)

Besides which, many of the “Islamic” customs which people object to have little or nothing to do with Islam. Forced marriages are a south Asian custom, one that radical Islamists oppose for being too Hindu. Honour killings have been a custom in many Christian cultures (the first in recent European history was carried out by a Palestinian Christian), but Christians no longer practise this barbarity for the same reason that British Hindus don’t — because they are urban, sophisticated, wealthy and educated. Many Pakistanis from rural Mirpur are not. But it’s rather impolite to criticise a national culture; easier just to say “Islam”.

Of course religions plays a part — Middle Eastern and south Asian Christians assimilate far easier, but you can’t blame Islam for all dysfunctional cultural characteristics. Many west Africans have brought over religious and cultural practices that are as awful as anything from Pakistan, but because they’re Christians this attracts less attention here.

Islamophobia is a very dubious term because it is used to describe both legitimate criticism of a religion, and anti-Muslim hostility. But that’s not to say that sectarianism does not exist; the irony is that it has become acceptable partly because conservatives have been unable to articulate decent and legitimate opposition to mass immigration in the first place.

As Christopher Caldwell once put it: “Islam is a magnificent religion that has also been, at times over the centuries, a glorious and generous culture. But, all cant to the contrary, it is in no sense Europe’s religion and in no sense Europe’s culture.” The problem has been in trying to make it Europe’s. But if anyone thinks mass immigration would have been fine had it not been for a man living in seventh-century Arabia, they’re as much of a utopian as any liberal.

[Reader comment by emilia on 29 March 2012 at 02:56 pm.]

Most of the problem lies with the nature of Islam, which bulldozes its way through anywhere its followers arrive. But the rest of the problem is caused by the multi-culti-lefties insisting that all recent newcomers should be allowed, even encouraged, to import their native culture (not just their religion) wholesale, and making the rest of us feel that we are wicked to object in any way to the changes this imposed on our lives. We have had to stand by and watch vast areas of the country changed beyond recognition, made to feel strangers in our own country, and threatened with criminal accusations of racism if we so much as mention any disquiet. The issue of face-coverings is just the most blatant slap in our faces, being a profoundly unacceptable thing to do in western countries but now’ tolerated’ under our new regime. No earlier ‘waves of immigration’ had this effect, which is why they were so much easier to absorb. But that’s another thing we aren’t allowed to say — which just about sums up the whole situation.

[Reader comment by gully on 29 March 2012 at 01:11 pm.]

Oh dear, Ed. Islam a scapegoat? Well done — you’re helping to reinforce the already heightened sense of grievance Muslims have — and this in spite of the Establishment bending over backwards to make them feel “included” all at the expense of the indigenous citizens of this country. You show how out of touch you are when you say that Muslims happily set aside those parts of their religion that are unpalatable. Do they, indeed? Muslims, if they are “true” Muslims, must follow their koran to the letter, and that includes making war on unbelievers. They don’t have to physically harm them, but physical harm can be done as a means to an end — and that end is to make the West Muslim. When will people like you — who are influential in that their articles are read by many, realise that it’s we non-Muslim Brits who are the scapegoats? We have to suffer our what’s left of our indigenous culture being eroded daily by the steady onslaught of Islamic practices, intimidating dress, and the sheer inconvenience of having people in our midst who go out of their way to undermine what we stand for, all aided and abetted by happy clappy, celebrate diversity at all costs idiots.

You should have thought carefully before you wrote this. If you open your eyes and look around you you’ll realise how Islam and its adherents have adversely affected the good that immigration can do. Islam and Muslims add to the dynamic of this country in a negative way, unlike other immigrants. What’s more they’re not shy about cynically taking on board the “democratic” practices that help them: money from the State, and the laxity of our immigration laws. Another example is the way they use their mosques as a symbol of triumphalism and domination of the area around where they’re built. Once a mosque goes up — and many of its neighbours are only aware of it after planning permission has been granted — all the things that go with Islamic practice comes with it — illegal parking, and the attendant abuse given when neighbours make them aware of it, the noise and the inconvenience of crowded residential streets when they arrive to pray five times a day. This often leads the non-Muslim neighbours to move away, and so the scene is set for Muslim only areas. It can be stopped by writing letters of objection to the council. All it takes is keeping an eye on the online weekly planning lists on the councils’ planning sites.

So, Ed, and others — wake up and smell the coffee, will you? As I said earlier — it’s people like us, non-Muslim, aware of how our own right to self-determination is being undermined, who are the scapegoats.

[Reader comment by waterwillows on 29 March 2012 at 0:627 am.]

Islalm is what it is. It does not come in different flavors or varying forms. There is no better over here, or worse over there. It just is. There is no denying that Islam is what it is. One can not duck or hide from the consquences of it being what it is. Nor can it be dabbed with white wash, smoothed over and justified. Islam is a whole package, there is no bits and pieces ‘acceptable’, while other bits and pieces are not. What you see, read, hear and experience is just the facts of what it produces in this world. There is no excusing it or dreaming it can be other than what it is. What you see, it really what you get. You can not run away from taking your stand. There is no going back. You will only run into illlusion and delusion.

It is time to stand tall, face the facts and know right from wrong. That is the only path that leads to clarity and discernment. It is your personal path of war that leads to your peace.

The ‘feel good’, comfort zone paths are all deception and lies. There is only much woe, for calling what is wrong … as right.

[JP note: Poor old Ed West — I think he is on a bit of a sticky wicket pursuing an incoherent argument concerning the merits or otherwise of Islam.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Swedes Launch ‘Sexless’ Web Search Tool

Swedish computer programmers have created a a new browser plug-in dubbed the “Henerator” which automatically changes the Swedish equivalents of “he” and “she” into the recently coined and gender-neutral pronoun “hen”. Creator Philip Westman claims that the plug-in was made to concretize an ongoing debate about the Swedish language’s lack of a gender-neutral pronoun.

While the debate has been raging in recent weeks, Westman said he doesn’t have a firm opinion on which word should be used. “I think people should be able to use whichever words they want,” he told The Local.

Sweden has been divided into three groups since the debate has flamed up recently: the staunch supporters of “hen”; the language purists who don’t want to see a change; and those who don’t have an opinion or don’t care at all.

Despite coming from the third of these groups, Westman and “Henerator” co-creator Marcus Sjögren decided they could nevertheless take things to a new level through a browser plug-in allowing users to surf the net in a gender neutral way.

The “Henerator” works by removing the standard Swedish pronouns for “he” and “she” (“hon” and “han”) and automatically replacing them with “hen”. While Westman admits that he thinks the idea is “half-smart, half-stupid”, he added that the plug-in has spawned a bevy of feedback in the online world.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


BRICS Leaders Gather for Summit

Leaders of the fast-growing BRICS nations have gathered to discuss how to combine their powers better. But questions over whether they can resolve their differences linger.

Leaders of the BRICS countries met in India on Thursday to discuss ways to combine their economic clout through closer cooperation, including the creation of a new development bank.

The group’s relationship “aspires to create a new global architecture,” according to India’s Commerce Minister Anand Sharma.

The leaders of the BRICS countries, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, are attending the bloc’s fourth meeting. The term BRIC was coined by the US bank Goldman Sachs in 2001 as a collective term for the world’s fastest growing economies, and they first met for talks in 2009. South Africa joined at the group’s third summit last year.

South African President Jacob Zuma expressed his happiness on Thursday that South Africa has been welcomed by the BRICs.

“In BRICS, we have a place where we feel that Africa is being treated with respect. Our views are treated equally among the partners. There is no feeling that some people are looking down on the continent of Africa,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Anonymous said...

Ed West knows about as much about Islam as I know about Outer Space,
SFA. Ed, you don't have to believe the commenters, but if you speak to Moslems they will confirm the
rigidity of Islam.They will tell you it is not a religion, but an
ideology which leaves NO ROOM FOR
INTERPRETATION by the umma, the only people who can interpret parts of the
system are top mullahs.
The astronomic expansion of this
UNADAPTABLE creed and the sheer numbers of Moslems are what worries
people.When an educated Moslem who has been brought up in the UK tells me that Sharia is perfect and that
the Koran is perfect, I can take it, without agreeing of course, but when his 13 year-old well-balanced
and pleasant son tells me Sharia is the perfect system for Britain,I DO start to worry a bit.Ed, stick to the day job.One day wisdom may
appear in your head.