Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120607

Financial Crisis
»CIC’s Lou Sees Growing Risk of Euro-Zone Breakup, WSJ Reports
»Fitch Downgrades Spain, Eurogroup at the Ready
»The Euro’s ‘Guilty Men’ Are Now Steering Europe to Catastrophe
»Clinton Likens Romney Economics to Europe
»Even When He’s Beaten, The Liberal Mainstream Media Calls Obama a Winner
»Five Events in June Might Help You Conquer Your Fears
»Montgomery County School Leaders to Discuss Closing for Muslim Holidays
»Muslims in America, It’s Time to Demand Justice
»Norwalk Says No to Mosque
»Obituary: Ray Bradbury
»Turkish Charter Schools Tied to Gulen Movement
»Carleton Hosts Event Honouring Ayatollah Khomeini
»Divisions at Guelph Mosque Spur Protest
Europe and the EU
»‘Creeping Cult’: Hungary Rehabilitates Far-Right Figures
»EU Sees Dramatic Surge in Investment From China
»Europe’s Billionaires ‘At Home in Switzerland’
»‘Every Global Citizen Should Work in Sweden’
»Marseille: France’s Muslim City
»Neo-Nazis Praise German Mayor for Israel Boycott
»Norway: Prison Builds One-Man Hospital for Breivik
»Poles Cold on Joining the Euro
»UK: Guest on Royal Barge at Diamond Jubilee Pageant ‘Was Sex Offender’
»UK: Group Seeks a Mosque Site
»UK: Small Heath Mosque Attack Victim Dies in Hospital
»UK: Scotland Yard ‘No’ To Baroness Warsi Inquiry
»UK: Stonebridge Brook — St. Ann’s Road
»UK: What’s Going on at the BBC?
North Africa
»Algerian Army Attacks AQIM Stronghold
Israel and the Palestinians
»A Jewish Pathology
»Far-Right Europeans and Israelis: This Toxic Alliance Spells Trouble
»German Mayor Backs Israel Boycott
»Stakelbeck: The Battle for Jerusalem
Middle East
»Al Qaeda Advertises Online for Suicide Bombers
»Bahrain: New Theatre Plan Rapped
»Syria: David Cameron Condemns ‘Brutal and Sickening’ Killing of Civilians
»Syria: Bashar Al-Assad Has ‘Doubled Down on Brutality’, Says Hillary Clinton
»UAE: 55-Year-Old Mason Molests 8-Year-Old Boy
South Asia
»At Least Two Pakistan Wedding Women Alive in ‘Honour Killing’ Case
»Islamic-Run Indonesian Town to Ban Shops From Selling Tight Clothing
»Liberal Blogger Stabbed in the Maldives: Police
Far East
»China: Ancient Beauty
»China Raids Koran-Teaching School, One Killed
»Chinese Secretly Copy Austrian Town
Australia — Pacific
»Mixed Messages From Touring Muslim Lecturer
Sub-Saharan Africa
»US to Work With Nigerian Army to Tackle Islamists
»EU Interior Ministers Agree New Emergency Border Rules
»Hay Festival 2012: Freedom of Speech: Tom Holland
»Linkedin Password Breach Illustrates Endemic Security Issue
»World Bank Warns of Growing Global Waste Mountain

Financial Crisis

CIC’s Lou Sees Growing Risk of Euro-Zone Breakup, WSJ Reports

China Investment Corp. sees growing risks of a breakup of the euro area, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing Lou Jiwei, chairman of the Chinese sovereign wealth fund.

CIC reduced its exposure to European peripheral countries a long time ago without incurring any losses and has cut its holdings of stocks and bonds across the continent, the newspaper reported today, citing an interview with Lou. He didn’t identify the peripheral nations, according to the report.

“There is a risk that the euro zone may fall apart and that risk is rising,” the Wall Street Journal reported Lou as saying. “Right now we find there is too much risk in Europe’s public markets.”

Europe isn’t ready to issue any common euro-zone bonds and any such debt won’t be a suitable investment for CIC because the risk is too big and the return too low, the report said, citing Lou. The fund will continue to invest in Europe by focusing on private equity and direct investment including infrastructure, Lou was cited as saying.

China should open up its capital account and make the yuan a fully convertible currency, which would lead to a natural diversification of its foreign-exchange reserves and it may be time to do so after the European debt crisis ebbs, the report said, citing Lou’s comments.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Fitch Downgrades Spain, Eurogroup at the Ready

The ratings agency Fitch has downgraded Spain by three notches. Fitch cited a growing banking sector crisis, rising debt and a deepening recession for the move.

The Spanish government’s efforts to bring down its sovereign debt was made a little more difficult on Thursday when one of the three major ratings agency slashed the country’s long-term rating.

The London and New York based agency Fitch cut Spain’s sovereign debt rating by three notches to BBB from A due to concerns about the country’s growing level of debt, a deepening recession, and a crisis in its banking industry in particular.

“The likely cost of restructuring and recapitalizing the Spanish banking sector is now estimated by Fitch to be around 60 billion euros ($75 billion) and as high as 100 billion euros in a more severe stress scenario,” the agency said.

That is more than double the agency’s previous estimate of what it would take to repair a banking industry that has been severely damaged by its high exposure to a collapsed real estate market.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The Euro’s ‘Guilty Men’ Are Now Steering Europe to Catastrophe

by Peter Oborne

Remaining in the single currency is no longer a rational choice for many countries — but will its creators listen?

More than six months have passed since Frances Weaver and I published our pamphlet, Guilty Men, identifying those financiers, politicians and propagandists who advocated the creation of the European single currency 15 years ago, and exposing the dishonest or even brutal methods they used. Our pamphlet was not an exercise in academic point-scoring. As Winston Churchill told the House of Commons, in the context of appeasement in 1936: “The use of recriminating about the past is to enforce effective action at the present.” Our task was no less ambitious. We wanted to silence and, if possible, to shame those voices in British and European public life who have been responsible for the tragedy of the euro, and therefore enable the resurrection of sensible and humane economic policies. We failed. It must be acknowledged this week that the main reason for the depth and longevity of the economic and financial catastrophe striking Europe is that all the policy-makers who are dealing with the crisis were advocates of the euro right from the beginning. In other words, the very people who caused the conflagration in the first place are in charge of putting it out.


[JP note: Similarly, the architects of multiculturalism are doubling down on white guilt.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Clinton Likens Romney Economics to Europe

Bill Clinton has said presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has “adopted” Europe’s economic policies. “Their policy is austerity and unemployment now, and then a long-term budget that will explode the debt when the economy recovers so interest rates would be so high, nobody would be able to do anything,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Even When He’s Beaten, The Liberal Mainstream Media Calls Obama a Winner

by Tim Stanley

You have to admire the optimism of the American Left. After Republican Scott Walker pulled off a sizeable victory in the crucial Wisconsin recall, they came out with a counter narrative that would shame Baron von Munchausen. Not only was Wisconsin not about Obama, but defeat actually makes him stronger. As Lawrence O’Donnell put it on MSNBC, “Tonight, the really big winner in the Wisconsin recall election is … Barack Obama.” What will O’Donnell say if Romney wins in November? “Tonight, the really big winner in the presidential election is … Barack Obama.” Because it’s the taking part that counts.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Five Events in June Might Help You Conquer Your Fears

Confront your fears in June! If you’re scared of Valkyries belting out Wagner, join the Steele Project for bite-sized morsels of opera. Frightened of Muslim extremists plotting to impose their Draconian law on Hoosiers? Then attend a conference on Sharia law to learn the facts behind the fright. Also, head to Conner Prairie to get over your nervousness about mixing beer and hot-air balloons.


Sharia Beyond the Headlines

When an Indiana legislator accuses the Girl Scouts of being part of a radical feminist conspiracy, it’s a goofy cartoon. But when Indiana legislators contemplate a bill banning Sharia law, it’s more serious. There is zero chance that Islamic law will be imposed on Hoosiers, so what is causing the anxiety? Some of the country’s top legal and religious scholars will discuss this question candidly and honestly. It’s a chance to learn everything you always wanted to know about Islamic law (but were really, really afraid to ask). Details: 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 14, Indiana Interchurch Center, 1100 W. 42nd St., free (includes a Middle- Eastern lunch), www.centerforinter

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Montgomery County School Leaders to Discuss Closing for Muslim Holidays

When Montgomery County Council member George L. Leventhal sent a letter to school leaders late last month asking for schools to be closed on two Muslim holidays, he cited the county’s significant Muslim population and religious fairness. But school systems in the state cannot declare days off — in this case, Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr — solely because they are religious holidays, no matter population demographics, said Rochelle Eisenberg, of Towson-based Pessin Katz Law P.A., a lawyer who specializes in education and employment law.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Muslims in America, It’s Time to Demand Justice

Editor’s note: Farhana Khera is the president and executive director of Muslim Advocates, a national legal advocacy organization dedicated to promoting freedom, justice and equality for all, regardless of faith.

(CNN) — I am an American Muslim. When I was growing up in a small town in upstate New York, the America I lived in cherished diversity and the freedom to worship, regardless of one’s religion. People of various faiths resided in my community: Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Mormons. How a person prayed was never a factor in how we treated each other. Yet today, Muslims in America are viewed as suspect and legitimate targets for surveillance by the New York Police Department because of their faith. This is not the America I know, and it is time for the courts to weigh in and ban discriminatory policing by the NYPD. Let me be clear: Anyone who engages in criminal acts should be stopped and brought to justice. But the NYPD can do that without targeting an entire community for blanket surveillance.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Norwalk Says No to Mosque

NORWALK, Conn. (WTNH) — The city of Norwalk is saying no to a proposal to build a mosque. Wednesday night the planning and zoning commissioners rejected the plan to build a 27,000 square foot mosque on Fillow Street. Neighbors didn’t want the mosque there because of traffic and parking issues, and concerns that it would devalue their property.

However, members of the al-Madany Islamic Center say they need a place to worship. The center is now weighing their options. They may appeal the decision or move forward with a new plan that would cut the building size.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Obituary: Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury, who has died aged 91, was, because of his best-known novel, Fahrenheit 451, routinely described as a science fiction writer; in fact, his work was mostly fantasy which combined the Gothic and the pastoral in almost mythic depictions of childhood, innocence, corruption and — above all else — small-town America.

If anything, Bradbury was suspicious of the future, and sentimental about the past. In Fahrenheit 451 (1953) and several short stories he predicted radio telephone “ear thimbles” (anticipating Bluetooth headsets), which were cacophonous, isolating, and socially disastrous. The arrival of technologies he had foreseen did nothing to change such views: in 2009 he described the internet as largely “a waste of time”. He continued to use a typewriter rather than a computer. Most remarkably, he managed to live almost all his life in Los Angeles without learning to drive.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Turkish Charter Schools Tied to Gulen Movement

Dana Teegardin’s son was enrolled at Fulton Science Academy for three years before she stumbled across an online article connecting the Alapharetta middle school to an Islamic movement emanating from Turkey. Her worry wasn’t that educators at the high-performing charter school were indoctrinating her son: She had no evidence to suggest that FSA teachers were imposing their religious beliefs, and she says she was pleased with the quality of his education. But it disturbed her that school officials denied what seemed an obvious connection to the Gulen movement, a global network created by Turkish Muslim followers of author and poet Fethullah Gulen.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Carleton Hosts Event Honouring Ayatollah Khomeini

Republished from Michael Petrou’s The World Desk blog on

Carleton University in Ottawa last weekend hosted a pro-Islamic Republic of Iran propaganda event sponsored in part by the Iranian embassy. The conference, “The Contemporary Awakening and Imam Khomeini’s Thoughts,” was held to commemorate the 23rd anniversary of the death of the Islamic Republic’s founding dictator, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. It was presented by the Cultural Centre of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is run out of Iran’s embassy on Metcalfe Street, and the Iranian Cultural Association of Carleton University. Iranian students at Carleton in the past have contacted me to complain about attempts by the Iranian embassy to influence their student group at the university.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Divisions at Guelph Mosque Spur Protest

GUELPH — In a corner of the prayer space of the city’s mosque, an elder member of the city’s Islamic community is engaging in a protest over the control and operation of the congregation. For several days, Seyed Moosa Osman Hasti, 76, a former judge in Afghanistan, has occupied the space — lying prone on blankets and pillows — over a growing serious rift within the mosque at 126 Norwich St. E. Osman Hasti began the protest Friday along with entering into a hunger strike. His refusal to eat rended Sunday after concerned followers urged him to stop endangering himself, supporter Nadia Kaker said. Others shared that concern. “We’re worried about his health. We don’t want to lose him,” supporter Safi Lal said. But in a telephone call Wednesday, he disputed the end to the hunger strike. “That is not true information,” Lal said. A day earlier, Osman Hasti said through Lal that he won’t leave the mosque until the dispute that spurred his protest has been resolved. “There was some injustice being done,” he said through Lal.

The roots of the dispute appear to go back years. The Muslim Society of Guelph bought the mosque building, a former Christian church near Arthur Street downtown, in 2008 in a fundraising initiative amid a growing local Islamic community. But since then a split has emerged among the faithful, said to comprise several hundred families. Detractors of the mosque’s operation claim Uzbeks of central Asian origin have effectively taken control and are pushing out Pashtuns and others from the Afghanistan-Pakistan-Iran region.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

‘Creeping Cult’: Hungary Rehabilitates Far-Right Figures

Hungary’s right-wing extremists are becoming increasingly self-confident. They are now openly paying tribute to Miklós Horthy, Hungary’s anti-Semitic regent during the interwar period, erecting a statue and renaming a town square in his honor. Even some members of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party support the new trend.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

EU Sees Dramatic Surge in Investment From China

In what has been called “a definite turning point,” China’s direct investment in Europe over the last couple of years has multiplied by a factor 10, according to a new study. EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht welcomed the news, saying that “we need the money.”

“Our dataset shows a profound post-2008 surge,” says the new study, presented on Thursday (7 June) in Brussels by consultancy firm Rhodium Group. “From €700 million yearly 2004-2008, to roughly €2.3 billion in 2009 and 2010, to €7.4 billion in 2011.” Most of that money went to France — with more than €4.5 billion in investment over the last decade — the UK (€3bn), and Germany (€2bn).

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Europe’s Billionaires ‘At Home in Switzerland’

Switzerland is the destination of choice for Europe’s wealthiest industrialists, the country’s Bilan magazine reported on Wednesday. No less than two-thirds of the 100 individuals named in the publication’s rich list live in Switzerland, including the wealthiest of them all, Swedish Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad.

Lausanne local Kamprad, 86, tops the list with 35 billion francs ($36 billion), easily surpassing the minimum entry requirement of 5 billion francs ($5 billion) to join the ultra-rich club.

The furniture magnate’s fortune is reckoned still to be greater than that of Spaniard Amancio Ortega Gaona, creator of the Zara clothing label and owner of global textile giant Inditex. His fortune is estimated at 32.9 billion francs ( $34 billion).

German-Dutch family Brenninkmeijer, which owns the C&A clothing chain, is estimated to have a 27.9 billion franc fortune ($29 billion) earning it a third place showing in the table.

Overall, billionaire Germans dominate the magazine’s findings, with 28 super rich members identified, two more than Russia. French and Swiss members follow with nine names each, while Italy comes fifth with seven individuals.

From the report it is clear that traditional businesses handed down from generation to generation are behind some of the biggest European fortunes, with mass-market outlets, textiles and luxury brand manufacturers leading the way.

Perhaps surprisingly, new technology fortunes feature very little, with next to no evidence of innovators from the internet or mobile phone sectors.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

‘Every Global Citizen Should Work in Sweden’

Sweden’s efforts to liberalize rules governing labour migration are meant to ensure that working in Sweden becomes an obvious choice for every global citizen, argues migration minister Tobias Billström.

Continued openness to the outside world is critical to our future development. Mobility, both migration and international trade, promotes our economic growth.

It must also be noted that Sweden is a small country on the edge of Europe with a climate that isn’t altogether welcoming for part of the year. Sweden has therefore taken a leading role in international migration. When others lower the barriers, we open more roads. In the global competition for labor, Sweden should be able to attract the people who move across borders.

The government’s policy is based on getting more people working and creating the conditions for more and growing businesses. At the same time, there is a labour shortage in some occupations and industries, current unemployment notwithstanding.

The increasing proportion of elderly people in the population also represents a serious long-term challenge to the sustainability of our welfare system.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Marseille: France’s Muslim City

As Francoise Hollande settles into his new job as the President of France, immigration and race relations will be one of the issues which will take up his time. John Laurenson has travelled to the Mediterranean city of Marseille which, demographers suggest, will be the first Muslim-majority city in Western Europe. Marseille is viewed as a model of pluralism, where Muslims, Jews and the rest of the city’s 800,000-strong population live in harmony. John takes to the city streets to meet Les Marseillais, the people who inhabit this city, to find out why it is that while other cities in France have fallen to the rioters, Marseilles has remained calm. The communities have stayed together rather than turned on each other. As John continues his journey, he meets the local football team, Olympique Marseille, and local rappers who cross the religious divide. He finds that the city has huge problems of poverty, deprivation and unemployment, so just what is it that is holding Marseille together?


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Neo-Nazis Praise German Mayor for Israel Boycott

BERLIN — The local branch of the neo-Nazi party (NPD) expressed solidarity for the campaign calling for a boycott of Israeli products that is supported by the German city of Jena’s Social Democratic Mayor Albrecht Schröter and the left-wing NGO Pax Christi.

The NPD branch in the state of Thuringia, where Jena is located, quickly issued accolades on Monday to Schröter on its website. The neo-Nazis wrote that he is “courageous” for his anti-Israel conduct and noted “as nationalists who have to deal every day with these Jewish/left-liberal defamation tactics, we think of Goethe’s sorcerer’s apprentice, who couldn’t get rid of the spirits he called.”

Schröter refused to answer queries from The Jerusalem Post about whether the boycott was creating an anti-Israel and anti- Jewish climate in Jena. He reiterated his pro-boycott action in an opinion piece on Monday in the local Thüringische Landeszeitung.

According to the mayor, his goal “is to demand mandatory labeling of goods from illegal Israeli settlements that occupy Palestinian territory.” Anti-boycott critics say the boycott’s language is nebulous and sweeping, and results in a boycott of Israeli-labeled products.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s international director, Dr. Shimon Samuels, told the Post on Monday that the human rights group may issue a formal travel advisory to warn Diaspora Jews and Israelis about visits to the city because of the possibility of anti-Semitic violence.

Samuels said the Wiesenthal Center will “consider a travel advisory about Jena” because the anti-Israel boycott “campaign can result in physical [acts of] anti-Semitism.”

He cited the center’s 2010 warning issued against the Swedish city of Malmo because Social Democratic Mayor Ilmar Reepalu contributed to citysponsored anti-Semitism that endangered Jews.

“The boycott is a form of discrimination and illegal. It is not just a boycott against settlements; that is an excuse. It is a boycott against the State of Israel,” said Samuels.

“This is not the first time that we have had anti-Semitism from Pax Christi,” he continued, noting that the mayor and Pax Christi chose not to boycott states like Syria that are engaged in human rights violations.

Thuringia and the city of Jena are hotbeds of neo-Nazi activity. Kevin Zdiara, the deputy chairman of the German-Israel friendship society (DIG) in Thuringia’s capital Erfurt, told the Post that in Jena “there is a Nazi problem,” that the terrorists of the national socialist underground came from Jena and that Nazis continue to meet at the property of the “Brown House,” a local center for the far-right.

Zdiara, who first shined a light on the boycott in a German online publication, added that there is certainly enough for the mayor to do in Jena instead of issuing one-sided statements against Israel. He termed Schröter’s arguments “in certain areas to resemble anti-Zionist anti-Semitism” because the remarks meet Natan Sharansky’s 3-D test for modern anti-Semitism — demonization, double standards and delegitimization.

In an email to the Post on Tuesday, Dr. Moshe Kantor, the president of the European Jewish Congress, wrote, “Unfortunately, only eight decades since Jewish businesses were first boycotted, a German mayor supports a boycott of products from the Jewish state. With all the real and systematic human rights abuses happening in the world, the fact that a German mayor chooses to single out the only Jewish state cannot be overlooked.”

“While the mayor has automatically self-defended himself from accusations of anti-Semitism, this should fool no one. It meets all the criteria of the European Union’s working definition of anti-Semitism and should be rightly condemned,” Kantor continued.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Norway: Prison Builds One-Man Hospital for Breivik

Norwegian authorities are converting a high-security prison wing into a psychiatric unit to house Norwegian gunman Anders Behring Breivik in case he is found insane, a report said on Thursday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Poles Cold on Joining the Euro

Just 12% of Poles want to join the eurozone, a TNS Polska opinion poll quoted by daily Gazeta Wyborcza shows. The majority, 58%, is opposed to joining now, while one in three says Poland should never join. Poland is obliged to adopt the euro once meeting certain economic criteria.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Guest on Royal Barge at Diamond Jubilee Pageant ‘Was Sex Offender’

MPs have called for an inquiry into a security blunder after reports that one of the guests on the Royal Barge during the Diamond Jubilee River Pageant was a convicted sex offender.

Harbinder Singh Rana, 52, was jailed for four years after he was found guilty of assaulting women in their homes while posing as a doctor. But Mr Singh Rana was present on the Spirit of Chartwell, standing next to Prince Harry, the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William. At times, he was just feet away from the Queen. He said he had been invited as a guest of the Prince of Wales through his work for the Anglo-Sikh Heritage Trail, which promotes the Sikh community in Britain. Prince Charles’s office said it had been unaware of Mr Singh Rana’s convictions when he was invited. The former consultant, who has also served on the Inner Cities Religious Council as an adviser to the Government, told the Daily Mirror he had not “had to tell anybody” of his criminal record and was not asked during the vetting process.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Group Seeks a Mosque Site

THE Islamic group behind the idea of turning a redundant Bury St Edmunds pub into a mosque is looking for other premises. The Suffolk Islamic Cultural Association had floated the idea of turning The Falcon pub into a mosque and social centre, but the pub has been sold for housing. Syed Haque said on Monday that an offer they made for the Falcon at £15,000 more than the asking price had been rejected. They are now forming a Bury St Edmunds Islamic Association, of which he is chairman, to try to set up a mosque in the town.

“We are looking for other premises,” he said. Muslim prayer meetings are held on Fridays in a rented room at the St John’s Centre. Mr Haque said having their own building allow prayers at any time and give them space for teaching and for meeting other faiths. He asked property owners to call him on 07423 772999.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Small Heath Mosque Attack Victim Dies in Hospital

A man who was attacked outside a mosque in Birmingham last week has died in hospital.

The 21-year-old from Small Heath suffered a serious head injury in the assault at the junction of Somerville Road and St Oswald’s Road on Friday. He was pronounced dead at 15:00 BST on Wednesday, police said. A 15-year-old boy was charged with wounding and has appeared at the city’s youth court. Police said they would now review the offence he was charged with. A 42-year-old and 20-year-old man who were arrested in connection with the incident, which happened near the Noor-Ul-Uloom mosque in Small Heath, have been released on police bail until a date in July. The 21-year-old victim had been on a life support machine since the incident, a police spokesman added. A post-mortem examination will take place in due course.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Scotland Yard ‘No’ To Baroness Warsi Inquiry

POLICE yesterday rejected a call to investigate Cabinet Minister Baroness Warsi’s expenses.

Labour MP Karl Turner asked for a probe into whether the Conservative party co-chairman broke the law by claiming taxpayer-funded allowances for costs she did not incur. Scotland Yard said it was not a matter for police and referred it back to House of Lords Standards Commissioner, Paul Kernaghan. Lady Warsi, who denies wrongdoing, had already referred herself to him, seeking an inquiry to “reassure the public” that the matter had been looked at independently. Mr Kernaghan confirmed yesterday that he will undertake a formal inquiry into claims she received £165.50-a-night accommodation expenses while staying with a friend rent-free. She says she made “appropriate payment” to her now aide, Tory official Naweed Khan.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Stonebridge Brook — St. Ann’s Road

277 & 279 pair of semi-detached 19th houses now made into one. On The front is a green sign saying ‘SHEIKH NAZIM AL-HAQQANI DERGHAI’ .the building is now an Islamic Education Centre.

St Mary’s Priory. This is now a mosque. It is a large brick building with a central spire with a scrolled wrought iron cross and gable ends two with stone Latin Crosses. One gable has a recess with a stone statue of St Mary and the Latin text ‘SANCTA MARIA MATER DOLOROSA ORA PRO NOBIS’. Another gable has a recess with a stone statue of a saint. It is surrounded by a brick boundary wall with a central entrance with a timber gate and a metal Islamic crescent


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: What’s Going on at the BBC?

by Neil Midgley

Arguments over the corporation’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant coverage show fault lines within the corporation, which is about to appoint a new director general to replace Mark Thompson.

As the row over the patchy quality of the BBC’s Diamond Jubilee coverage rumbled on, Radio 4’s Today programme could hardly have been less complimentary about it yesterday.

Presenter Evan Davis introduced — with some relish — a reel of mistakes and mis-steps from the long weekend, including the BBC’s supposed semaphore expert, who said he hadn’t “got a clue” what he was looking at and yoof presenter Fearne Cotton’s excruciating interview with popstrel Paloma Faith about sick bags. “Probably the real issue was whether the whole nature of the pageant on Sunday was misconceived — the BBC’s coverage of it,” said Davis. “The BBC opted not to give it the Dimbleby treatment, but to make it more of a One Show type event — leading many to think it was too light, with too little about the ships themselves.”

Of course, senior BBC management are used to robust treatment at the hands of Today. But insiders have started to wonder whether there was more at play — not least because George Entwistle, whose BBC Vision department was in charge of Jubilee coverage, and Helen Boaden, whose BBC News team makes Today, are both shortlisted candidates to succeed Mark Thompson as director-general this year. “If I were a cynic, I’d wonder if that segment on Today was Helen’s way of highlighting something rather embarrassing on George’s patch,” said one BBC news editor.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algerian Army Attacks AQIM Stronghold

Thousands deployed with mortars and helicopters

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS — No one will ever say it, but the operation launched by the Algerian army yesterday at dawn is probably the most important one against Islamic terrorism since the tragic 1990s, when the country saw significant bloodshed on both sides. The site of the operation is in the Kabylie region, in the wilaya (the word for the provinces in Algeria) of Tizi Ouzou, in the northern part of the country, about 100km east of the capital, an area that has been somewhat of a martyr in this chapter of Algerian history. Terrorist attacks are becoming more and more frequent in this area, but do not always have institutional targets, killing soldiers, municipal guards, self-defence groups, ex-fighters, the mujahiddin, and civilians.

The Kabylie region, inhabited by fiercely autonomous groups, has been a problem on its own for the government in Algiers. Today this is even truer because the surrounding area has been chosen by Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb as a place to return for cover after unleashing their terrifying message with assaults and bomb attacks, since it is protected by dense forests and woodlands that blanket vast kilometres of mountains. But yesterday, the Algerian army turned the page. At least one thousand soldiers were deployed at the base of the Yakouren spur. Dozens of mortars were placed along the route followed by the R12 national highway and began to hammer the woods with bombs, over which the army’s fearsome combat helicopters hovered, striking targets on the ground with their missiles. Hours and hours of bombardments were concentrated on an area where AQIM headquarters might be located according to intelligence reports. Their leader, the emir Abdelmalek Droukdel, may not be there, though. His elimination is one of the top objectives of the Algerian government. Having received multiple life sentences, Droukdel has been on the run for years, although he is able to travel with a certain ease, according to reports indicating that he has been in the Sahel for fundamentalist indoctrinations and to establish alliances with anyone who is helpful in his plans to create a caliphate in the region. Yesterday’s operation (which already killed three terrorists), regardless of the results on the ground, marks an apparent change in anti-terrorism strategy, because until yesterday the army was carrying out operations using special units to pursue fighters on their turf or conduct ambushes thanks to intelligence reports. Yesterday the Algerian army entered the fray significant amounts of men and resources, which it has stockpiled in its arsenal if it is true that in 2011 the country’s military spending increased by 44%, according to the Stockholm International Peace Institute Research Institute. These men and weapons have now become protagonists in the war against Islamic terrorism. And one cannot help but wonder if this drastic change is a result of the fact that in its May elections Algeria decided to continue with its old rulers, who in some way managed to hold back the eager representatives of the army, who probably obtained a long-awaited green light.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

A Jewish Pathology

by Melanie Phillips

One of the most shocking aspects of the campaign to demonise and delegitimise the state of Israel is the part played in this diabolical endeavour by Jewish and Israeli academics on the political left. We’re not talking here about people who are merely critical of Israeli policies. We’re talking about people who lend their names and academic credentials to lies, libels, distortions, fabrications, misrepresentations and other malicious fantasies in order to demonise and delegitimise Israel, treatment they afford to no other country. Why do they do this? Why, especially since they themselves are Jews and Israelis? Many reasons suggest themselves, ranging from the craven desire for access to a fashionable society itself riddled with this prejudice, through naivety, ignorance of Judaism and history not to mention sheer benighted stupidity, by way of a bitterly warped psychopathology all the way to the closed ideological thought system of the left for which Israel is doubly damned — as a western nation and a Jewish western nation.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Far-Right Europeans and Israelis: This Toxic Alliance Spells Trouble

Migrants everywhere need to be wary when European fascists and far-right Israeli nationalists use the same racist rhetoric

Last month, demonstrations against African refugees in Tel Aviv turned violent. Protesters looted shops, broke windows and firebombed buildings, including a nursery. Days ago, arsonists torched the home of 10 African migrants in Jerusalem, injuring four, and leaving the unequivocal graffiti: “Get out of the neighbourhood.”

On Monday, Israeli TV reported that Haifa’s council had warned local businesses that they risked losing their licences if they employed African refugees, and that shopkeepers in the southern town of Sderot were refusing to serve migrants. Israeli statistics show some 60,000 African migrants have entered the country in the past seven years through the Egyptian Sinai desert — many of them asylum seekers fleeing repression or war in Sudan, South Sudan and Eritrea. Israel, much like Europe, seems consumed with worry about being “swamped” by developing-world refugees — although, perhaps in part because of its location, the fears in Israel sound more visceral. So far, Israel’s approach has been to build a steel fence on the Egyptian border and a giant detention centre in the south, and to pass a law that allows the detention of migrants for up to three years. Since its creation, fewer than 150 people have been recognised as refugees in Israel.


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

German Mayor Backs Israel Boycott

The mayor of Jena, a city in Thuringia, east Germany, has unleashed a storm of criticism from pro-Israel groups who object to his support of a sweeping boycott of products from the Jewish state. According to Kevin Zdiara, deputy chairman of the German-Israel friendship society in Erfurt, the capital of Thuringia, Albrecht Schröter ‘s endorsement of the boycott can be equated with the Nazi-era “Don’t buy from Jews” campaign because “all Israeli products are to be boycotted.” Mr Schröter signed a petition from an anti-Israel German Catholic peace organisation. Pax Christi’s petition, entitled “Occupation tastes bitter”, calls for a wide-ranging boycott of Israeli goods. Dr Reinhard Schramm, deputy chairman of theThuringia Jewish community, said: “Pax Christi is steeped in antisemitism.” Klaus Faber and Daniel Kilpert, from the Co-ordinating Council of German Non-Governmental Organisations against Antisemitism, accused the mayor of “crossing the line into antisemitism” and delegitimisng the state of Israel.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Stakelbeck: The Battle for Jerusalem

Jerusalem is mentioned 600 times in the Old Testament and another 160 times in the New Testament. It is never mentioned in the Koran.

Yet a battle continues to rage today over whether Jerusalem should remain Israel’s undivided capital.

Yesterday on Capitol Hill, members of the International Israel Allies Caucus Foundation called on the United States to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel and to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to the Eternal City.

Michele Bachman, Allen West and other pivotal lawmakers were on hand for this annual “Jerusalem Day” breakfast. You can watch my report on the event at the above link.

           — Hat tip: Erick Stakelbeck[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Al Qaeda Advertises Online for Suicide Bombers

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has begun posting Internet advertisements offering training for suicide bombers to target the US and France. The adverts have been posted on several Web forums, including Al-Fidaa, Shmoukh al-Islam and Honein. The advertisements ask for volunteers to get in touch via e-mail with details about their own experience and proposed targets. “The aim of this training is to continue with our brothers who are seeking to carry out operations that make for great killing and slaughtering of the enemies of Islam,” said the advertisement attributed to Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. “It is clear now that the individual jihad, or what is called the lone wolf, has become more widespread and its features have started showing — in summary, it is a complete jihadist operation to be carried out by a single bomber.” It said the targets of the attacks were “those who are fighting the Muslims and Islam” and specifically pointed to “economic, military and media interests of the enemy.” “Their identity must be, according to priority, American, Israeli, French and British.” Al Qaeda and its regional offshoots often use jihadist Internet forums to post statements claiming responsibility for attacks, and to communicate with followers.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Bahrain: New Theatre Plan Rapped

PEOPLE of Muharraq are threatening to take to the streets to protest against a new theatre, which is being constructed next to a mosque despite objections from angry residents — who would rather have space to park their cars. The Muharraq Municipal Council ordered a halt to work in January, but that decision was ignored. Councillors yesterday gave the Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry a two-week ultimatum to take action, warning that people could take matters into their hands if the project continues.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Syria: David Cameron Condemns ‘Brutal and Sickening’ Killing of Civilians

David Cameron has condemned the “brutal and sickening” killing of civilians in Syria and called for “concerted action” by the international community against the regime of President Bashar Assad.

Opposition groups have blamed pro-government militia for the deaths of at least 86 people and possibly up to 100 in Hama province, many of them women and children.

Syrian state TV said troops found some bodies after attacking “terrorists”. Speaking during a visit to Norway, Mr Cameron said the massacre was further proof that the Assad regime was “completely illegitimate and cannot stand”. In a clear message to Russia and China, which have blocked international action against Assad, the Prime Minister said the whole world should show that it wants a transition to a new regime in Damascus. Speaking in Oslo, Mr Cameron said: “If these reports are true, it is yet another absolutely brutal and sickening attack.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Syria: Bashar Al-Assad Has ‘Doubled Down on Brutality’, Says Hillary Clinton

Bashar al-Assad has “doubled down on his brutality” and must hand over power and leave Syria, Hillary Clinton has said, as she condemned the latest massacre near the town of Hama.

Mrs Clinton said the United States was willing to work with all members of the UN Security Council, which includes Russia, on a conference on Syria’s political future as long as it started with the premise that Assad gave way to a democratic government. “Assad must transfer power and depart Syria,” Clinton told a news conference in Istanbul after meeting foreign ministers from Arab and Western nations to discuss counterterrorism. The regime-sponsored violence that we witnessed again in Hama yesterday is simply unconscionable. Assad has doubled down on his brutality and his duplicity and Syria will not, cannot be peaceful, stable or certainly democratic until Assad goes.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UAE: 55-Year-Old Mason Molests 8-Year-Old Boy

A 55-year-old Pakistani mason, SGJ, is accused of molesting an eight-year-old boy, the Dubai Criminal Court heard. The victim, MRA, testified that he was standing near a mosque near his house in Hatta after finishing Quran recitation class. A man, who was standing near garden, called him.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

South Asia

At Least Two Pakistan Wedding Women Alive in ‘Honour Killing’ Case

At least two Pakistani women are alive and well after being sentenced to death for allegedly mingling with men and singing at a village wedding, the Supreme Court has heard.

Four women and two men had been sentenced to death by a local cleric after mobile phone footage emerged of them enjoying themselves at a party in the mountains of Kohistan, 110 miles north of the capital Islamabad. The men and women had allegedly danced and sung together in Gada village, in defiance of strict tribal customs that separate men and women at weddings. From the footage itself, however, it is not clear that the men and women celebrated together. Nor are the women shown dancing, but clapping while seated.

Local officials insist the women are safe, but Pakistan’s Supreme Court took up the case after reports surfaced that they had been victims of honour killings. A senior official from northwestern province Khyber Pakhtunkhwa told the court that activists confirmed that at least two of the women were alive, but that their families would not allow them to travel in person to the court in Islamabad.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Islamic-Run Indonesian Town to Ban Shops From Selling Tight Clothing

Shops in Indonesia’s Aceh province, where Islamic law is in force, will soon be banned from selling tight-fitting clothes, an official said Thursday. The announcement was made after religious police in the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, stopped and reprimanded more than 50 women and three men for violating the Islamic dress code, including wearing tight clothing and shorts.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Liberal Blogger Stabbed in the Maldives: Police

COLOMBO: An outspoken Maldivian blogger known for his liberal views on religion was in intensive care on Tuesday after being stabbed by an attacker outside his home in the capital Male, police said. Ismail Rasheed, who is better known as “Hilath”, had his blog blocked late last year by the Maldivian telecommunications authorities who claimed it contained anti-Islamic material. The 37-year-old, who has received death threats in the past, was later arrested following a rally he organised in December in support of religious tolerance and spent nearly a month behind bars.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Far East

China: Ancient Beauty

by Shao Wei

Legend has it that a Fragrant Concubine existed during the Qing Dynasty in Kashgar, who exuded an enchanting aroma without using perfume. Shao Wei explores this oasis of civilization and discovers that the city oozes more than just legendary charms. Many visitors to Kashgar, a city replete with historic and exotic characteristics along the ancient Silk Road, may feel like they are in North Africa or the Middle East. Uygur women wear veils or headscarves; men put on woven doppa, or white, knitted caps; bustling and noisy bazaars are filled with the aroma of roasted mutton and cumin. The city, especially its old town block, is filled with cluttered and amazingly clean streets, where motorcycles and mini-buses negotiate their way, along with donkey carts.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

China Raids Koran-Teaching School, One Killed

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) — Chinese police said it raided a Koran-teaching school in Uighur region, China state media said on Wednesday, in what an exiled rights group said was a violent raid. China media said, police “rescued 54 children from illegal preachers”.

However, a German-based Uighur exile group, the World Uyghur Congress, said police had used teargas to attack an Islamic school teaching children the Koran. “There was a fight, and the authorities used teargas on the young students, causing injuries on both sides,” spokesman Dilxat Raxit said in emailed comments. The aim was to eradicate religious belief.”

China’s official Xinhua news agency said 12 of the children received burns when “the suspects ignited a flammable device to resist capture” during the incident in the remote southern Xinjiang city of Hotan. “Acting on tips from local residents, police … raided an ‘illegal’ religious preaching venue in the city, where 54 children were being held,” Xinhua cited an unidentified police spokesman as saying.

“Three suspects were seized during the operation, and three police officers were wounded,” the news agency said in a brief English-language report said. Xinjiang is home to Muslim Turkic-speaking Uighur people who calls it East Turkestan.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Chinese Secretly Copy Austrian Town

A group of Austrians whose scenic mountain village has been copied down to the statues by a Chinese developer attended Saturday’s opening in China for the high-end residential project but were still miffed about how the company did it.

Minmetals Land Inc.’s replica of Hallstatt, a quaint Austrian alpine hamlet, is located in subtropical southern China.

The original is a centuries-old village of 900 and a UNESCO heritage site that survives on tourism. The copycat is a housing estate that thrives on China’s new rich. In a China famous for pirated products, the replica Hallstatt sets a new standard.

The Chinese Hallstatt features a church spire, a town square ringed by pastel-colored buildings and angel statues. They’re among architectural flourishes inspired by the original, a centuries-old village of 900.

Members of the Hallstatt delegation said they were proud to be copied but also disappointed with the way it was done.

“They should have asked the owners of the hotel and the other buildings if we agree with the idea to rebuild Hallstatt in China, and they did not,” hotel owner Monika Wenger said ahead of the opening ceremony. “And that was a big problem we had with this project here.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Mixed Messages From Touring Muslim Lecturer

ONE of the Muslim world’s best-known and most successful motivational speakers, Tareq Al Suwaidan, is about to start another tour of Australia, following a sell-out visit two years ago.

He is a man with two very different messages, however. His opening address, this Saturday, will be at the Robert Blackwood hall at Monash University in Melbourne, before further lectures in Melbourne and Sydney, finishing on June 18. Dr Suwaidan — his doctorate is in petroleum engineering, from Tulsa University in the US, where he lived for many years — is now based in his home country, Kuwait, with his wife and six children. The 58-year-old earns more than $1 million a year from his talks and TV shows. His CD Lives of the Prophets has sold well over two million copies, and his two-day management courses cost $500 a head.

His Australian tour is organised by Human Appeal International, which describes itself as “a non-governmental humanitarian organisation seeking funds from supporters to assist in providing services to thousands of poor and needy people”. Dr Suwaidan — who lectures in English in Australia — is a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Kuwait, and general manager of Al-Resalah (The Message), an Arabic language satellite TV station funded by Prince al-Waleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia. He presents himself to English-speaking audiences as moderate, a supporter of free speech and freedom of religion. But what he has said elsewhere points to a darker program.

He asked rhetorically on an Arabic TV station a year ago: “Is what I am doing any less important than jihad?” In an interview for Al-Quds, a TV station affiliated with Hamas, he said 10 weeks ago: “I can change the positions of some Westerners, but at the end of the day, power lies with the politicians, who are influenced by two things only: money and the media, both of which are controlled by the Jews. So we must not rely on Western aid or on Western popular sympathy. These are minor things. We rely upon Allah and then upon our armed resistance in obtaining our rights.” He said his foremost cause is that of Palestine and Jerusalem. “The most dangerous thing facing the Muslims is not the (Arab) dictatorships. The absolutely most dangerous thing is the Jews. They are the greatest enemy.” At a conference of the Islamic Circle of North America in 2000 he said: “We must tell the West that we are extending a hand of peace now, but it will not be so for long. “Even if a civilisation is ready to crumble — like the West, with all the characteristics of deterioration of past fallen empires — it will not fall until we, the Muslims, strive to give it that last push, the last straw that will break the camel’s back.”

Ali Kazak, the then representative of the Palestinian Authority in Australia, told ABC TV’s Lateline in 2003: “I have stopped giving (Human Appeal International) any donations. People should not give a contribution until it makes it public and clear as to how much it collects and where the money is going.” Five years after this, Israel’s Defence Minister Ehud Barak banned 36 funds around the world, including HAI Australia, that were deemed “part of Hamas’s fund-raising network”. But Sydney-based Bashar al-Jamal, the Australian manager of HAI, said yesterday: “We believe strongly that Dr Suwaidan is one of the heads of moderation in the Middle East, and his approach is friendly, trying to tackle things from a smart, peaceful approach. Two years ago he really contributed positively, and our community benefited from him a lot. It’s crucial for us as a humanitarian organisation that we invite people promoting moderation and harmony, and those ethical values we are really behind.” He said that as the leader of HAI since it started in Australia in 1991, “I’d challenge anyone if they can show we have any relation with Hamas. This (the claims of Hamas links) is just lies and accusations.” He said HAI had started working with Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan.

Dr Suwaidan is speaking on Monday at a “Syria fundraising dinner” in the Prime Minister’s constituency in Altona North. The HAI website explains that “Syria is in the midst of a tragic crisis as a result of the internal conflict . . . The cold winter is taking its toll on their hope for peace and they are relying on you to help them”. A spokeswoman for Monash University said: “Monash is not hosting this conference nor does it have any affiliation with this organisation. The booking was made and charged as per any booking for the Robert Blackwood Hall by community groups etc. We do not endorse the topics or presenters, and have simply provided a venue space.” Hamas’s Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades have been proscribed as a terrorist organisation by Australia, but not the Hamas organisation itself.

[JP note: Rare to find a Muslim speaker extending an unequivocal hand of peace and Dr Suwaidan is no exception.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

US to Work With Nigerian Army to Tackle Islamists

AFP - The United States plans to work with the Nigerian army to help it combat the threat of the Islamist group Boko Haram which is spreading violence in the west African nation, officials said Tuesday. But Washington has still not decided whether to put the group on a blacklist of terrorist organizations — even as gunfire and explosions erupted in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri on Tuesday. “This is an issue of ongoing internal deliberations within the United States government,” Assistant Secretary of African Affairs Johnnie Carson said after two days of high-level talks with Nigerian officials in the US capital. The administration was “trying to make a decision which is both appropriate, rational and useful” while “taking into account the significance of any decision that we might make on Nigeria and the Nigerian government.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


EU Interior Ministers Agree New Emergency Border Rules

European interior ministers have agreed that countries should be allowed to close their borders when they deem it necessary. That puts them at odds with Brussels, which wants to have the final say in such decisions.

European Union interior ministers have reached an agreement that would allow countries in the border-free Schengen zone to re-introduce border controls in emergencies that are deemed to threaten a country’s security.

A key change that the agreement reached at a meeting in Luxembourg on Thursday would bring is that for the first time, an influx of immigrants would be defined as just such an emergency.

The interior ministers also agreed that member states themselves should still be the ones to make such decisions.

However this is far from a done deal, as the changes must be passed by the European Parliament for them to come into force and the 27-member bloc’s legislative body has already indicated it will oppose them in their current form.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Hay Festival 2012: Freedom of Speech: Tom Holland

Hay Festival 2012: Early Islamic civilisation was forged by Jews and prisoners; this fascinating period deserves better attention from Muslims, writes Tom Holland

Writing ancient history is not usually an activity that requires screwing courage to the sticking place. I will confess, however, that my most recent book, which explores how empires and monotheisms in the late antique Near East fed off one another, did give me the odd sleepless night. In the Shadow of the Sword attempts to demonstrate — among many other things — that the Koran most likely did not originate in Mecca, courtesy of an angel, but rather out of a whole swirl of contemporaneous religious and cultural influences, and that the traditional biographies of Muhammad are deeply problematic as sources for the Prophet’s life.

I found myself developing these arguments not out of any desire to be provocative, but rather because even a cursory survey of scholarly thinking on early Islam demonstrates an on-going shift. While there remains heated debate among specialists, the case that Islam’s beginnings and evolution are best explained as phenomenona of late antiquity is irrefutable.

Which said, interest in the origins of Islam is clearly not confined to scholars of late antiquity. For a non-believer to prod and probe the fabric of the Koran is liable to be deeply upsetting to many Muslims. Unlike in 19th century Europe, where it was the sons of Lutheran pastors who led the way in subjecting the origins of their ancestral faith to the glare of historical enquiry, the contemporary Islamic world has not, it is fair to say, shown much inclination to follow suit. The authorship of the Koran is not being questioned by the disillusioned offspring of imams. Those few Muslims who have sought to follow the trail originally blazed by 19th century European scholars have opted to publish under pseudonyms — or else been made to suffer for it. In the Arab world, at any rate, to challenge the traditional account of Islam’s origins has rarely been a safe course of action.

And in the West? Here too, the fatwa on Salman Rushdie, the murder of Theo van Gogh and the Danish cartoons affair have all indisputably had a chilling effect. I could feel it myself in the anxiety I initially experienced as I realised where my researches were leading me, and the default presumption of friends that publication of my book would inevitably see me firebombed by angry men with beards and hooks. Yet increasingly, the longer I spent on the book, the more I came to feel ashamed of my own nervousness. “Phobos”, in Greek, means “fear”. Properly speaking, then, to censor myself would have been the Islamophobic course of action.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Linkedin Password Breach Illustrates Endemic Security Issue

LinkedIn’s loss of 6.5 million passwords is bad enough, but the fact they were easily deciphered shows a stunning lack of care for software security, and should serve notice to business customers of cloud-based services that they shouldn’t assume vendors are “doing it right,” says noted software expert Gary McGraw.

LinkedIn confirmed Wednesday afternoon that “some passwords” corresponding to LinkedIn accounts were compromised. In a blog post, LinkedIn director Vincente Silveira said the company will send an email to members whose passwords were compromised that those passwords are no longer valid. Instructions on how to reset their passwords will follow in a separate e-mail.

Silveira added that LinkedIn has “just recently” put in place security measures that would prevent hackers from easily guessing passwords.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

World Bank Warns of Growing Global Waste Mountain

The World Bank is warning of a “looming crisis” as city dwellers produce more and more waste. African cities are hard hit because the volume of waste is growing faster than the funds available for its collection.

Failure to collect garbage is making flood waters rise and there are fears it is even encouraging global warming. One of the co-authors of a new World Bank report “What a Waste: A Global Review of Solid Waste Management” is Dan Hoornweg.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]