Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20121229

Financial Crisis
»Fear of Global Recession Germany Urges US to Resolve Budget Dispute
»France’s Constitutional Council Overturns 75 Percent Super-Rich Tax
»Top French Court Overturns 75 Percent Tax Rate
»Bronx Woman Charged With Murder as a Hate Crime in Subway Attack
»Obama’s “Wise Latina” Upholds Religious Freedom for Muslims, Not Christians
Europe and the EU
»French Surgeon Arrested for Alleged Extortion
»From France to Greece, Going Back to the Land
»Germany: Extremism in Bonn Student’s Tongue Cut in Possible Islamist Attack
»Italy: Former PDL Leader in Lazio Region Released to House Arrest
»Italy: State Insurance Recovers 100 Million in False 2012 Claims
»Italy: Democratic Party Welcomes Grasso as Candidate
»Italy: Berlusconi and Ex-Wife Reach Settlement
»Italy: Petrol Costs Up to 13 Cents Less at Liberalized Pumps
»Italy: Work on Rome Holocaust Museum to Start Next Spring
»Martin Amis: Islam and the Limits of Permissible Thought
»Norway: A Press Conference in Oslo With Haitham Al-Haddad
»Opponents Mock Monti After Vatican Newspaper Endorsement
»Sweden: Centre Party Split Over Radical Proposals
»UK: City’s Oldest Mosque Hoping to Expand
»UK: Councillor Calls for Calm as a House in Elswick is Attacked
»UK: New Mosque for Rotherham Plan
»UK: Revised Plans Drawn Up for New Accrington Central Mosque
»UK: Tally Ho! Let the Hunt Remind Us Who We Are
»UK: Widow of Organist Murdered on Way to Midnight Christmas Service Calls for ‘Justice Not Vengeance’
North Africa
»Algeria Readies for ‘Guerrilla’ Warfare
»Egypt: 150 Members Resign From Salafi Al-Nour Party
»Tensions Rising in Egypt as Opposition Leaders Are Investigated for High Treason
Israel and the Palestinians
»Egypt Opens Rafah Crossing for Goods to Gaza
»‘Suha Arafat Admits Husband Premeditated Intifada’
Middle East
»Hidden US-Israeli Military Agenda: “Break Syria Into Pieces”
»UN Syria “Peace Plan” A Fraud
»Innocence of Muslims Officially Banned in Russia
»Seven Militants Killed in Russia’s Dagestan
South Asia
»Breton Pancake Makers Spoil French Visit to Afghanistan
»Delhi Rape Death Sparks Indian Press Rage
»India: A Year of Protests, Corruption and Anger
»India: Akbaruddin in Trouble for Hate Speech
»Live: Peaceful Protests Across India; Sheila Dikshit Heckled
»Paintings Outrage Islamic Hard-Liners in Pakistan
»Pakistan: Muslim Societies Go Beyond Borders: US Scholar
»Pakistani Mob Beats to Death Muslim Accused of Blasphemy
»Pakistan Police Murders: 21 Cops Found Shot to Death in Peshawar
Australia — Pacific
»Knitting Overcomes Cultural Barriers
»New Year, Butt Out as On-the-Spot Smoking Fines Take Effect
»Obligation to Respect, Not Share, Our Faiths
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Angola: Official Calls for Humanisation of Prisons
»Kenya: Snake Disrupts Campaign Rally in Kilifi
»Nigeria: Gunmen Kill 25 in Adamawa, Borno
»UK: Gavin Barwell MP: Four Reasons Why the Conservative Party Must Win More of Britain’s Growing Ethnic Vote
Culture Wars
»France: Gov’t Cracks Down on Racism, Homophobia on Twitter
»Aisha’s Cushion: Religious Art, Perception and Practice in Islam by Jamal J Elias — Review
»First ‘Alien Earth’ Will be Found in 2013, Experts Say

Financial Crisis

Fear of Global Recession Germany Urges US to Resolve Budget Dispute

All eyes are on Washington where US President Barack Obama and lawmakers are due to launch last-ditch talks Friday to avert automatic tax hikes and spending cuts that could plunge the country into recession. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle reminded all sides that they have a responsibility not just to the US, but to the global economy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France’s Constitutional Council Overturns 75 Percent Super-Rich Tax

France’s constitutional council on Saturday overturned a 75 percent tax rate on earnings higher than a million Euros. The policy was introduced by Socialist President Franois Hollande, who was elected in May.

The upper income tax rate sparked outrage amongst business leaders and led some of France’s richer citizens to request tax exile abroad. Among them was renowned actor Gerard Depardieu who was recently granted residence in Belgium.

The Constitutional Authority found the temporary two year rate to be unconstitutional since most types of income tax are applied to entire households, not individuals. The council therefore ruled that the proposed tax rate “failed to recognise equality before public burden.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Top French Court Overturns 75 Percent Tax Rate

France’s highest legal body, the Constitutional Council, announced on Saturday it was overturning the Socialist government’s flagship 75 percent income tax rate for high earners, marking an embarassing setback for President François Hollande.

French President François Hollande was dealt an embarassing blow on Saturday when the country’s highest legal body scrapped his controversial 75 percent upper income tax rate.

The Constitutional Council announced it was overturning the 75 percent bracket on income over 1 million euros ($1.32million) because it was “excessive” and represented a “breach of equality of taxes.”

The French government responded to the decisions by insisting it would push on with plans to impose the reform and would be submitting a revised proposal for the 75 percent upper rate in its 2013 budget.

“The government will propose a new system that conforms with the principles laid down by the decision of the Constitutional Council. It will be presented in the framework of the next Finance Act,” Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said in a statement.

The council’s decision to ditch Hollande’s flagship tax reform came after members of the opposition UMP party had asked it to review whether the levy was legal under the constitution.

The Council members, known as “the sages” decided that the way the upper tax rate was set to be imposed was unfair in the way it would affect different households.

The Council is concerned the tax would hit a married couple where one partner earned above a million euros but it would not affect a couple where each earned just under a million euros.

The tax rate, which was passed by France’s National Assembly in October, had infuriated high earners including acclaimed actor Gerard Depardieu, was due to be introduced in 2013.

Depardieu caused uproar earlier this month when he revealed he was moving to Belgium to seek tax exile status, blaming the government’s tax policies. The council’s decision may now make the actor think twice about selling his Paris mansion and upping sticks.

To opponents of the seven-month-old Socialist government, Depardieu’s move confirmed their fears that the 75 percent tax rate would spark a mass exodus of France’s most wealthy.

The measure, which Hollande insisted would only be a temporary move to help reduce public deficit, would only have to be paid by an estimated 1,500 people.

The tax reform was viewed as a symbolic move with Hollande keen for the rich to help the country during hard times. It is estimated the levy would have provided the government with an extra 210 million euros per year.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Bronx Woman Charged With Murder as a Hate Crime in Subway Attack

A 31-year-old woman was being held by the police on Saturday in connection with the death of a man who was pushed onto the tracks of a Queens subway station and crushed by an oncoming train.

The woman, Erica Menendez of the Bronx, is being charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime, according to the Queens district attorney’s office. Ms. Menendez was taken into custody by the police early Saturday morning and made comments implicating herself in the crime when questioned by detectives, according to Paul J. Browne, the chief spokesman for the Police Department.

A law enforcement official said that Ms. Menendez had “told the cops it was an act against Muslims,” and cited the Sept. 11 attack.

[Return to headlines]

Obama’s “Wise Latina” Upholds Religious Freedom for Muslims, Not Christians

by Daniel Greenfield

While Obama’s Justice Department has set a record for the number of cases it filed on behalf of Muslims, particularly in defense of the discriminatory Hijab, the same administration has not only failed to stand up for religious freedom of Christians, it has actually taken the lead in attacking the religious freedom of Christians…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

French Surgeon Arrested for Alleged Extortion

Patient asked to pay unnecessarily for hernia operation

(ANSA) Bologna, December 27; A French orthopaedic surgeon practising in the city of Bologna was arrested on Thursday for allegedly extorting payment from a patient who was covered by the national health system. The doctor was taken in custody by law enforcement officers. The surgeon, who is a practising professional in Italy working in a Bologna hospital structure that receives partial funding from the state health system had allegedly forced the patient suffering from cervical hernia to pay him for surgery when the structure he works for was also being reimbursed by the national health system.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

From France to Greece, Going Back to the Land

French collective gardens; Greek church offers farming plots

(by Patrizio Nissirio) (ANSAmed) — ROME, DECEMBER 27 — In recession-battered Europe, governments are not the only ones responding to the crisis with top-down policies, be they austerity or growth measures: the grassroots has also come into play, following the back to the land concept.

Called Incroyables Comestibles, the French version of the Incredible Edible movement, which began in the UK in 2008, involves planting collective vegetable gardens in easily accessible public spaces, such as school yards and in front of police stations, from which each can pick for free, according to his or her own need. In France, this movement began in the spring of 2012, and has spread to the four corners of the Republic, thanks in part to social media.

In Greece, now in its fifth consecutive recession year, the powerful Orthodox Church, which owns about 40% of the country’s land, is offering lots to anyone willing to farm them. “We want you to know that whoever is willing to work Greek land, to contribute to the country’s food security and to the development of a modern and exportable agriculture and animal farming model, has what is left of the church’s land at their disposal,” the Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church, Archbishop Ieronymos, said in his traditional Christmas address to the nation. He did not, however, specify if the land is for free or for rent.

The Greek government has already started a successful program, with almost 10,000 lots of public domain land assigned to young farmers at cut-rate rental prices: 5 euros per acre per season, with a maximum of 100 acres per person. In Greece in 2008-2010, agriculture was one of the country’s few growth sectors, with 32,000 jobs created, according to the New York Times.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Germany: Extremism in Bonn Student’s Tongue Cut in Possible Islamist Attack

An Indian man in Bonn claims to have been attacked and had his tongue lacerated by Islamists. He told police that a pair of perpetrators demanded that he convert to Islam before the assault. Police believe his story to be credible.

Police in Bonn are investigating a possible attack on a 24-year-old Indian man who claims to have been the victim of an assault by two Islamists on Christmas Eve. The man, a university student had to be treated at a local hospital for a lacerated tongue following the attack.

According to the victim, he was approached by two men who asked him what his religion was before demanding that he convert to Islam. Otherwise, the men said, he was an infidel and his tongue would have to be cut out. Then, as the man tried to walk away, the two assailants attacked him from behind, the victim told police. A passerby happened across the bleeding victim and called an ambulance. He was treated at the hospital and then released.

Police investigators believe the man’s story to be credible and also believe that the incident could indeed have been the work of Islamists. He described the perpetrators as having long beards but no moustaches, a style often preferred by Salafists. There were, however, no witnesses to the attack and police are currently searching for suspects.

It is not the first time this year that Bonn has hit the headlines as a result of possible Islamist activity. In May, a Salafist was arrested after stabbing two police officers during a counter-demonstration against a display of Muhammad caricatures by a local right-wing populist party. Earlier this month, another member of the orthodox Muslim group threatened to take a hostage in order to force the perpetrator’s release from prison.

Also in Dember, a bag full of explosives was found on a platform in Bonn’s main train station in an apparent attempted bomb attack. While no charges have been filed in that case, clues reportedly lead to the Salafist community.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Former PDL Leader in Lazio Region Released to House Arrest

Fiorito faces charges of embezzling 1.3 million euros

(ANSA) — Rome, December 27 — The former caucus leader of Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party in Lazio region, Franco Fiorito, was released from jail and placed under house arrest on Thursday as he awaits trial on charges of embezzlement and inappropriate use of electoral funds.

Fiorito was arrested on October 2 for allegedly pocketing over 1.3 million euros in State-subsidized party funds. Fiorito’s arrest came amidst a swirl of political scandals and criminal charges across the political spectrum but especially involving the PdL.

Proceedings against Fiorito, who headed the PdL in Lazio region, where the capital city of Rome is located, are scheduled to begin March 19.

Similar charges have also been laid against Fiorito’s former chief secretary Bruno Galassi and Pier Luigi Boschi.

Fiorito was released on house arrest because there seemed little risk that he would repeat any offence, the court said. That contradicts a ruling earlier in December, when Italy’s highest appeals court said that Fiorito must stay in jail because he had been caught destroying evidence.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: State Insurance Recovers 100 Million in False 2012 Claims

Over 9,000 people investigated, 20 convicted for benefits fraud

(ANSA) — Rome, December 26 — Italy’s national insurance body INPS said on Wednesday that it had investigated over 9,000 suspected claims’ scams and recovered over 100 million euros from fraudulent benefits since the beginning of 2012.

The state insurance money was recovered from fake pensions, benefits claims for the deceased being withdrawn by others, pensions for inexistent disabilities and fraudulent poverty assistance.

Forty people were arrested in 2012 and 20 convicted based on reports by INPS.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Democratic Party Welcomes Grasso as Candidate

Outgoing anti-Mafia prosecutor to campaign for election with PD

(ANSA) — Rome, December 28 — The Democratic Party is welcoming outgoing national anti-mafia prosecutor Piero Grasso as a candidate in February’s election, party leader Pier Luigi Bersani announced Friday.

“We chose to put two words — morality and work — before the legislature and the rule of law as a top priority for our country,” said Bersani, whose party is currently leading polls, after meeting with Grasso.

The participation of Grasso — who announced his resignation from the judiciary Thursday — would help drive a “civic resurgence”, Bersani said, while Grasso urged a “gradual revolution” of the justice system.

Formerly Palermo chief prosecutor, Grasso was named head of Italy’s Anti-Mafia operations in 2005 replacing Pier Luigi Vigna.

As Palermo prosecutor, Grasso tracked down a string of top mobsters and moved ever closer to the biggest catch of all, Bernardo Provenzano, a fugitive who had been running the Mafia for most of his 42 years in hiding.

Grasso worked on anti-Mafia cases in the early ‘90s and coordinated investigations into the 1992 bombs that murdered Italy’s top two anti-Mafia invesigators Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino and, a year later, attacked cultural and religious targets in Rome and Milan.

Grasso is the second anti-mafia prosecutor planning to run for office following an announcement by ex-Palermo prosecutor Antonio Ingroia last week saying he will lead leftist representatives of civil society.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi and Ex-Wife Reach Settlement

Ex-PM to pay 3 mln euros a month

(ANSA) — Milan, December 28 — Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi has reached a settlement with his ex-wife Veronica Lario, from whom he is legally separated but yet to obtain a final divorce, Corriere della Sera newspaper reported Friday.

The media magnate and centre-right politician will give Lario three million euros a month or 36 million a year but will keep sole possession of his luxury villa outside Milan and his vast business empire will be unaffected, the daily said.

The “non-consensual” sentence, ending a three-year legal tussle, was handed down on Christmas Day “in great secret”, Corriere said.

Lario filed for divorce in May 2009 claiming her husband was frequenting minors.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Petrol Costs Up to 13 Cents Less at Liberalized Pumps

Antitrust watchdog calls for new entrants to boost competition

(ANSA) — Rome, December 28; Petrol costs as much as 13 euro cents less at the 2,000 liberalized pumps and the 86 specialized sale centers in Italy compared with prices at the distribution chains of large oil companies, according to a recent report by Italy’s antitrust authority. The competition watchdog called from the strengthening of new entrants in the petrol distribution market in order to boost competitiveness and change the current market conditions.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Work on Rome Holocaust Museum to Start Next Spring

Mayor Alemanno says final hurdles cleared

(ANSA) — Rome, December 28 — Work on Rome’s new national Holocaust Museum, to be built in the former luxury residence of Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, will get under way early next year, Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno said Friday.

Alemanno said the last key city council vote would take place in mid-January and the tender would be issued two weeks afterwards, at the end of the month.

The contract would then be awarded about two months later, in early spring, he said.

“Then, unless there are legal challenges from the firms who lost out, the work can go ahead,” Alemanno said.

Work on the 22-million-euro project has been delayed several times.

The Shoah museum, seven years in the making, got a long-awaited final green light from the Italian parliament on this year’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, April 7.

But it was then hit by further uncertainty because of financial restrictions in the government’s stability pact.

The project envisages a conference room, library, video-archive and exhibition room carved out in the grounds of Villa Torlonia.

The museum will be built in the landscaped gardens of the villa, the grand neoclassical residence where Mussolini and his family lived between 1925 and 1943.

Designed by Italian architects Luca Zevi and Giorgio Tamburini, the museum will be in the form of a black cuboid with the names of Italian Jews deported to Nazi concentration camps during WWII etched on the walls.

Its centerpiece will be a huge plaster reproduction of the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

More than a million people were killed there under the Nazis. Six million Jews died in all the death camps.

It was during the 20-year Fascist era that Italy adopted the 1938 “laws for the protection of the Italian race”. They were drawn up along the lines of the anti-Semitic laws passed earlier in Germany and were in part responsible for more than 7,000 Italian Jews being sent to their death in Nazi concentration camps.

Rome council has also approved the laying of a plaque at the city’s Tiburtina rail station to commemorate the date when thousands of Jews were deported from the Ghetto, on October 16, 1943.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Martin Amis: Islam and the Limits of Permissible Thought

by Mira Sethi

Martin Amis, the celebrated and pilloried British novelist, on freedom, terror and moving to America.

Modern Britain might have been the expected focus of conversation with Martin Amis following the publication of his latest novel, “Lionel Asbo.” After all, the book comes with the subtitle “State of England,” and the state of the place, in his eyes, rather differs from the country on glorious display during the Summer Olympics and, months before that, in the queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The England in Mr. Amis’s withering portrait is a cultural dystopia where an irredeemable thug is catapulted to national prominence after winning the lottery. Thus does modern Britain reward lethal criminality and proud ignorance with unearned riches.

But when Mr. Amis, one of the most celebrated and pilloried British novelists of recent decades, sits for an interview in his Brooklyn brownstone—he is a recent émigré from the land he so relishes anatomizing—the buzz about all things British has long faded in the news, supplanted by the autumn miseries of the Middle East. After the Arab Spring washed through the region, he says, “I was talking to my younger son. He speaks Arabic.” A hint of paternal pride passes over his face. “He’s about to do a third degree—the first one was history at Oxford, the second one was on the Muslim Brotherhood. He’s lived in Jordan as well as in Egypt. “I said to him, it seems like Islamism doesn’t look like a ubiquitous threat anymore. But he said, ‘Ah, their hour will come. They’re in government now. That’s what’s happened now. Some clever people have realized you can’t stay out of the system.’ “

Is Mr. Amis skeptical now of the “clever people” emerging from the shadows of the Arab Spring? “Well,” he says, looking lost in thought. “There’s Tunisia”—where a moderate government is establishing itself—”but it does seem the weight of the past is enormous. Egypt is 4,500 years old. It’s unbelievably ancient. And Egypt has never had democracy. Would that you could, with a snap of the finger say, ‘This is better,’ and everyone agrees it is better. But it’s going to be difficult.”…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Norway: A Press Conference in Oslo With Haitham Al-Haddad

I watched this so that you don’t have to! Here are a few quotes with approximate times: “I agree that I hold views that might seem odd to the Western liberal society” (10:20)

Views like this perhaps? “from my angle it does make perfect sense” (on the death penalty for apostasy in the context of an Islamic state) (13:25)

But that’s fair enough because … “treason is a capital punishment (sic) in most European countries” (14:25)

Why has he been misrepresented by so many? “There is a group of maybe Zionists who are trying to spoil my reputation” (15:30)

And finally: “I am not promoting anything that is not part of the mainstream Islam” (27:30)

Haitham al-Haddad complains (about 17:50) that it has been implied that he supports hudud punishments in the West, right now. Of course there is some difference between calling for such punishments in the UK and saying they should be practiced in an Islamic state — but it still means that Haddad’s ideal is a horrific theocracy…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Opponents Mock Monti After Vatican Newspaper Endorsement

But Italy’s top bishop praises PM

(ANSA) — Rome, December 28 — While opponents on Friday mocked the endorsement by the Vatican daily newspaper of Premier Mario Monti’s bid for election, others said they understood the move.

Italy’s top bishop Angelo Bagnasco said the endorsement built upon the fact that Monti’s administration has improved Italy’s reputation and standing internationally.

“The honesty and ability of Mont has been commonly recognized,” said Bagnasco, president of the CEI, the official assembly of Catholic bishops in Italy.

However, some church fundamentalists said the newspaper went too far because the technocrat premier could make dangerous alliances if he were elected in February.

“(There is) too much silence and too many uncertainties,” surrounding who would accompany Monti into government, warned Antonio Mazzocchi, president of the conservative Christian Reformers movement.

“As a Christian Reformist, I want to say that (the endorsement) is out of place, not to mention in bad taste”.

Monti’s political allies could include politicians who support gay marriage, warned the group.

On Thursday, the Vatican’s daily L’Osservatore Romano backed Monti’s bid for a second term at the helm of a centrist Catholic coalition.

The newspaper said Monti had launched “an appeal to restore the highest and most noble sense of politics which is still…care of the common good”.

Pier Luigi Bersani, head of the Democratic Party, which is leading in opinion polls, said he found it amusing and surprising that L’Osservatore Romano found Monti had “a strong appreciation of the nobility of politics”. Italian media has commented that the daily paper’s backing is practically a papal endorsement for Monti and a rejection of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi.

His relationship with the Vatican was damaged by an alleged affair with the Moroccan-born belly dancer ‘Ruby’ whom Berlusconi is accused of having paid for sex when she was 17.

The Vatican has said it is “troubled” by Berluscsoni’s affair, dubbed Rubygate, and L’Osservatore Romano wrote last January that it “caused a dent in Italy’s image that will be hard to repair”.

Pope Benedict XVI in his Christmas greeting urged Italian voters to keep high values in mind when making choices.

The Vatican continues to hold significant sway in Italian politics.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Centre Party Split Over Radical Proposals

Open borders, polygamy, and an end to compulsory schooling are some of the proposals outlined in the controversial new Centre Party programme which has caused rifts in the already troubled party.

As support for Centre Party leader Annie Lööf plummets, the proposed programme risks splitting the party, which is part of the centre-right coalition government.

The radical programme has drawn harsh criticism from within the party ranks, with leading members in Skåne in southern Sweden deciding to draft a counter proposal ahead of the party convention in March.

They claim that there is a great rift between a neo-liberal “Stockholm Centre” and “the classic core voters in rural areas”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: City’s Oldest Mosque Hoping to Expand

PLANS to expand Derby’s oldest mosque to develop teaching rooms and a library have been backed by hundreds of locals. The committee in charge of the Jamia mosque in Dairyhouse Road want to convert a vacant house next door to use for lectures. And more than 200 people living nearby have signed a petition backing the proposals, which have been submitted to Derby City Council…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Councillor Calls for Calm as a House in Elswick is Attacked

A COUNCILLOR is calling for calm after the home of a man charged with raping a schoolgirl came under attack.

Windows were smashed at the house of 19-year-old Abdul Zalal Miah in broad daylight on Christmas Eve.

The incident at Hull Street, Elswick, came just hours after police officially released Miah’s name and as he made his first appearance at Newcastle Magistrates’ Court.

The 19-year-old is charged with three counts of rape, possessing an offensive weapon, threats to kill and robbery after a 15-year-old schoolgirl was attacked on Tuesday, December 18.

Two teenagers aged 17 and 18 have been arrested by Northumbria Police on suspicion of aggravated burglary.

Race and human rights campaigner Dipu Ahad, who also represents the Elswick ward for Newcastle City Council, now fears targeted attacks at the Miah family home on a predominantly Bengali street could escalate over the holiday period.

“There has been a lot of police activity around the house. We are worried that this is stirring up racial tension,” he said.

“Calm now needs to be in the community. We need to support this woman first and foremost, and people shouldn’t use this to create more tension. We are now appealing to everyone for calm.”

Miah was arrested on Sunday following a six-day manhunt by Northumbria Police.

He appeared at the city’s magistrates’ court on December 24, where he was formally charged with three counts of rape, kidnap, possessing an offensive weapon, threats to kill and robbery.

He was remanded in custody by magistrate Trevor Walton until January 4 when he will appear at Newcastle Crown Court.

Miah, who spoke only to confirm his name and date of birth, was dressed in a dark blue sweat shirt and trousers. Two female members of his family sat in the public gallery.

His alleged victim reported she had been threatened with a knife and raped as she walked along Elswick Road eight days ago.

The attacker is alleged to have taken her to a secluded area between Park Close and Gloucester Terrace.

A spokesperson for Northumbria Police, said: “Police received a report of a window being broken at an address on Hull Street, Newcastle. Officers attended and two men aged 17 and 18 were arrested on suspicion of aggravated burglary.”

Read More

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

UK: New Mosque for Rotherham Plan

ROTHERHAM could be about to get a new £3 million mosque to replace the one on Chapel Walk. The Rotherham Mosque Trust has applied for planning permission to build the mosque which will be twice the size of the current place of worship. The planned building, next to Centenary Way, would have a minaret 33.8 metres tall and facilities to display calls to prayer and other messages on electronic screens which would be placed around the tower. The plans, which have taken two years to complete, also include an IT suite and study area and car park improvements.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Revised Plans Drawn Up for New Accrington Central Mosque

COMPROMISED plans to resite a controversial new central mosque in Accrington have been drawn up by Hyndburn council. The borough’s ruling cabinet will be asked next month to approve a revised plan to locate the large Islamic worship and community centre in Grimshaw Street rather than Steiner Street as originally proposed in 2009. The new proposal has been branded ‘a fudge’ by Tory group boss Peter Britcliffe, leader of the council when the original plan was agreed at a special cabinet meeting three years ago. Current council leader Miles Parkinson rejected that claim saying it was ‘a fantastic compromise’…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Tally Ho! Let the Hunt Remind Us Who We Are

Hound, horse and human come together today in an activity as vital as our heartbeats, says Roger Scruton.

This morning hundreds of hunts across the Kingdom will be assembling for the Boxing Day meet. My family and I will appear in our polished uniforms on polished horses to stand ceremonially among our neighbours in Cirencester Park. With us will be a crowd of thousands who have come to enjoy the spectacle. For an hour, three species — hound, horse and human; carnivore, herbivore and omnivore — will stand peacefully side by side in a little patch of meadowland, radiating tranquillity. One of the local bands will be playing. The Royal Agricultural College Beagles will be there, along with people from every walk of life, who have come to gladden their eyes on the spectacle before going for lunch in the town…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Widow of Organist Murdered on Way to Midnight Christmas Service Calls for ‘Justice Not Vengeance’

The widow of a church organist who died after being brutally beaten on his way to a midnight service on Christmas Eve has insisted she wants “no vengeance” for his killers.

Alan Greaves, 68, an Anglican lay reader, was set upon just 200 yards from the door of St Saviour’s Church in High Green, Sheffield, where he was due to lead the worship at the late-night Eucharist. He was found by a passing pizza delivery driver lying on kerbside on a main road, close to the local primary school, after sustaining severe brain damage. His wife Maureen, a Christian outreach worker, spent Christmas praying at his bedside where he was on a life support machine. He passed away late on Thursday night. The family’s parish priest described the killing as a “senseless and evil” act on a night when the church was “celebrating light coming into the darkness”…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algeria Readies for ‘Guerrilla’ Warfare

The Algerian military is running combat simulation exercises on rocky terrain, ahead of possible confrontations against armed Islamists and terrorist brigades from northern Mali.

Since al-Qaeda and the Movement for Tawhid and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) are well-armed with weapons smuggled from Libya and stolen from within Mali, the Algerian army is taking an unconventional approach similar to guerrilla warfare. Algerian army, air force, national gendarmerie and special operation forces have trained all month in ways to conduct large-scale battles against armed groups, El Khabar reported on Sunday (December 23rd). These drills, which involve the use of modern communication devices and strategies, will run for a whole year…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Egypt: 150 Members Resign From Salafi Al-Nour Party

Another party to be formed ‘under Sharia’, says former spokesman

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, DECEMBER 27 — One hundred and fifty representatives from Egypt’s Salafi Al-Nour party from 23 governorates have resigned in mass. The resigning members cited the “soft” positions taken by the party over the past few months as the reason for the split.

According to Al Ahram Online, among them is Mohamed Nour, former spokesman of the Salafi party, who noted that the resignation from the party was amicable. He said that “we wish our former fellow party members success”. Some members of the Shura (upper house of Parliament) and several former members of the People’s Assembly (dissolved lower house) were among those resigning.

They have said that their future will be in the new political formation. “We decided to found our own political entity,” Nour said, “ open to any Egyptian citizen who wants to work for the Sharia.” It therefore seems clear that the former members of the Salafi party will not join the party under the ultra-conservative Hazem Salah Abu-Ismail. But it was by no means a hard blow, Al-Nour spokesman Nadar Bakkar stressed, saying that he wished his former fellow party members the best of luck, “wherever they intend to work politically” The exodus from Al-Nour (which means “The Light”) is not coming entirely out of the blue. For the past few months, the two extremes of the party — one more hardline and the other more open — have been facing off in a contest of wills which in late September almost led to a split in the party.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tensions Rising in Egypt as Opposition Leaders Are Investigated for High Treason

Hamdeen Sabahi, Amr Moussa and Mohammed ElBaradei, founders of the National Salvation Front, are accused of incitement against the state and betraying the ideals of the Revolution because they led mass protests against the Islamist constitution. Controversial Morsi-appointed Public Prosecutor Talaat Ibrahim Abdallah orders the inquiry.

Cairo (AsiaNews) — Egypt’s public prosecutor, Talaat Ibrahim Abdallah, has ordered an inquiry into the leaders of the National Salvation Front, Hamdeen Sabahi, Amr Moussa and Mohammed ElBaradei. Appointed by President Mohammed Morsi, Abdallah wants the three opposition leaders, the last two former presidential candidates against Morsi, investigated on charges of “incitement” to overthrow the government and high treason. All three have led mass demonstrations against Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt’s new Qur’an-based constitution.

The legal action against the three main pro-democracy leaders comes amid criticism against the constitutional referendum, deemed invalid because of a low turnout (one third of the electorate) and numerous cases of electoral fraud by Islamists.

Unconcerned by the prevailing atmosphere of tensions, President Morsi signed the constitution on 26 December. Shortly, he will also announce the official date for new parliamentary elections.

The decision by the pro-Islamist prosecutor is further exacerbating tensions between Egyptians in favour of a secular state and defenders of a Sharia-based government, bringing the country that much closer to a civil war.

In an article published today al-Ahram online, some diplomats close to the opposition said that they had come under pressures from their superiors who want to silence all criticism against Morsi.

According to one diplomat, Egypt is now turning into a dictatorship. “I was summoned into the office of the assistant (foreign) minister,” he said. The latter “asked me to be ‘careful’ and not to confuse my role as a diplomat with that of an activist.” Another official “was told that his overt opposition to the president would undermine his chances to go a good post”. (S.C)

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

Israel and the Palestinians

Egypt Opens Rafah Crossing for Goods to Gaza

GAZA, Dec. 29 (Xinhua) — Hamas-run government in the Gaza strip announced a shipment of construction materials will enter the territory from Egypt through the Rafah crossing for the first time. “Twenty truckloads of construction materials will enter Gaza today for the Qatar-financed reconstruction projects,” Deputy Prime Minister Ziad Zaza told Xinhua…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

‘Suha Arafat Admits Husband Premeditated Intifada’

In interview, Palestinian leader’s widow says Arafat decided to launch Intifada after Camp David, according to research institute.

Yasser Arafat’s widow Suha admitted that the late Palestinian leader premeditated the Second Intifada, in an interview with Dubai TV earlier this month, according to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute.

“Immediately after the failure of the Camp David (negotiations), I met him in Paris upon his return.… Camp David had failed, and he said to me: ‘You should remain in Paris.’ I asked him why, and he said: ‘Because I am going to start an Intifada. They want me to betray the Palestinian cause. They want me to give up on our principles, and I will not do so,’“ the research institute translated Suha as saying.

Arafat’s comments run contrary to claims that former prime minister Ariel Sharon’s infamous visit to the Temple Mount triggered the Intifada, which was launched in September 2000.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Hidden US-Israeli Military Agenda: “Break Syria Into Pieces”

A timely article in the Jerusalem Post in June brings to the forefront the unspoken objective of US foreign policy, namely the breaking up of Syria as a sovereign nation state —along ethnic and religious lines— into several separate and “independent” political entities. The article also confirms the role of Israel in the process of political destabilization of Syria. The JP article is titled: “Veteran Kurdish politician calls on Israel to support the break-up of Syria’ (by Jonathan Spyer) (The Jerusalem Post (May 16, 2012)

The objective of the US sponsored armed insurgency is —with the help of Israel— to “Break Syria into Pieces”.

The “balkanisation of the Syrian Arab Republic” is to be carried out by fostering sectarian divisions, which will eventually lead to a “civil war” modelled on the former Yugoslavia. Last month, Syrian “opposition militants” were dispatched to Kosovo to organize training sessions using the “terrorist expertise” of the US sponsored Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in fighting the Yugoslav armed forces.

Sherkoh Abbas, President of the US based Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria (KNA) has “called on Israel to support the break-up of Syria into a series of federal structures based on the country’s various ethnicities.”

[Return to headlines]

UN Syria “Peace Plan” A Fraud

(LD) — UN “peace envoy” Lakhdar Brahimi is attempting to broker a transitional government ahead of proposed elections in Syria. For Brahimi, his efforts are not only in vain, they are entirely disingenuous. The proposal of a “transitional government” in the midst of what is in fact a foreign invasion, funded, armed, and perpetuated openly by foreign interests violates both Syria’s sovereignty and the UN’s own founding charter. It would be not unlike a UN envoy visiting Poland at the beginning of World War II, and proposing a transitional government in the midst of the Nazi invasion. The UN would clearly be a facilitator of injustice, not a broker of peace.

The LA Times reports in their article, “Lakhdar Brahimi works to revive Syria peace plan”:

“Peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi made a new push Thursday to draw Syrian officials and rebels into negotiations, aiming to revive a plan for a transitional government and elections that faltered because of disagreements over the future of President Bashar Assad.”

The UN has categorically failed to delineate between legitimate opposition inside of Syria, and bands of roving armed terrorists committing wide scale atrocities against the Syrian people — many of whom are not even from Syria, all of whom are heavily armed by the US, NATO, and its regional allies including Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar as part of a long standing plan to effect regime change in both Syria and Iran. The Western press is not only supporting the UN’s disingenuous efforts, it has gone through great lengths to delegitimize any opposition in Syria that refuses to pick up arms, or that speaks out against foreign intervention.

While the LA Times attempts to make the UN plan seem reasonable, with only Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russia standing in the way of peace, in reality, the plan is yet another effort to frame the conflict as a political struggle instead of the foreign invasion it actually is.

Syria is Being Invaded by Foreign Terrorists

The armed “rebels” the UN is refusing to condemn, constitute foreign Al Qaeda fighters, including the US State Department, United Nations, and the UK Home Office (page 5, .pdf)-listed international terrorist organization, the Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), Al Nusra also known as “Al Qaeda in Iraq,” and Syrian Muslim Brotherhood extremists. None of these terrorist factions would be negotiated with by Western nations if by some means their weapons turned from Syria and back toward the West. Yet the West demands that they not only be recognized and negotiated with, but indeed handed the entire nation of Syria to rule over.

[Return to headlines]


Innocence of Muslims Officially Banned in Russia

Amateur American film “The Innocence of Muslims” has been recognized an extremist material in the Russian Federation on December 26, 2012. The film has been added to the list of extremist materials in accordance with the ruling of the Tverskoy Court of Moscow. “The Innocence of Muslims” is listed as the 1,589 item on the list, GTimes reports. Google, which owns YouTube, has already expressed its willingness to block access to the film in the Russian Federation…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Seven Militants Killed in Russia’s Dagestan

MOSCOW, Dec. 29 (Xinhua) — Seven militants were killed during a special operation in Russia’s North Caucasus republic of Dagestan, the Russian Investigative Committee said Saturday. Law enforcement officers searched an apartment in Makhachkala, capital of the republic, where the suspected gunmen were hiding, and seized pistols, submachine-gun as well as other weapons on the scene. Six militants were killed inside the apartment and one was shot dead outdoors, according to the committee. “All those killed are presumably members of the Kizil-Yurt sabotage and terrorist group. The examination is continuing,” a spokesperson from the committee’s regional department told reporters. Violence is common in Russia’s North Caucasus, especially in the republics of Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia, with militants frequently mounting attacks against police officers and authorities.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Breton Pancake Makers Spoil French Visit to Afghanistan

Breton pancake makers were left with egg on their faces after revealing that the French defence minister will be taking thousands of crepes with him to give to French troops in Afghanistan during a “surprise” New Year’s visit.

Apparently over-eager to trumpet its publicity coup, the Paysan Breton brand breached confidentiality rules to let slip that it will be supplying 8,000 crepes for 800 French troops still in Afghanistan to coincide with the visit by Jean-Yves Le Drian, the defence minister, on New Year’s Eve…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Delhi Rape Death Sparks Indian Press Rage

A sense of anger pervades the Indian press on Saturday after the 23-year old victim of a gang-rape in Delhi died of her injuries while receiving treatment in Singapore.

News of the attack on 16 December was greeted with fury in the capital, as demonstrators took to the streets to voice their frustration at the authorities. This frustration is reflected in the words of newspaper commentators who link the incident and its fallout to prevailing cultural shortcomings and a general failure of governance in India…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

India: A Year of Protests, Corruption and Anger

If 2011 was characterized in India by a string of corruption sandals and an economic slowdown that buffeted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s tenure, 2012 was not much different.

Having barely recovered from the consequences of the multi-billion-dollar Commonwealth Games and telecom spectrum scams, the Indian government was again in a spot when yet another political scandal broke. The audit watchdog body, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India discovered that 210 billion US dollars of the country’s revenue has been lost in a coal scam — also known as “coalgate” — of enormous proportions…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

India: Akbaruddin in Trouble for Hate Speech

HYDERABAD: Akbaruddin Owaisi, the firebrand leader of the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), was on Friday taken to court over his disparaging remarks against Hindus in a hate speech, the main content of which was that Muslims would need just 15 minutes without the police to show 100 crore Hindus who is more powerful…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Live: Peaceful Protests Across India; Sheila Dikshit Heckled

Singapore: The 23-year-old girl, who put up a brave battle for life after she was gang-raped and brutally assaulted in a Delhi bus on December 16 that had created a nationwide outrage, died on Saturday morning in a hospital here. The girl, who was admitted to the well-known multi-organ transplant facility Mount Elizabeth Hospital here on Thursday morning in an extremely critical condition, breathed her last at 4:45 am (2:15 am India time). She was earlier treated at the Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Paintings Outrage Islamic Hard-Liners in Pakistan

Pakistan’s leading arts college has pushed boundaries before in this conservative nation. But when a series of paintings depicting Muslim clerics in scenes with strong homosexual overtones sparked an uproar and threats of violence by Islamic extremists, it was too much.

Officials at the National College of Arts in the eastern city of Lahore shut down its academic journal, which published the paintings, pulled all its issues out of bookstores and dissolved its editorial board. Still, a court is currently considering whether the paintings’ artist, the journal’s board and the school’s head can be charged with blasphemy.

The college’s decision to cave to Islamist pressure underscores how space for progressive thought is shrinking in Pakistan as hardline interpretations of Islam gain ground. It was also a marked change for an institution that has long been one of the leading defenders of liberal views in the country.

Pakistan is an overwhelmingly Muslim nation, and the majority of its citizens have long been fairly conservative. But what has grown more pronounced in recent years is the power of religious hardliners to enforce their views on members of the population who disagree, often with the threat of violence.

The government is caught up in a war against a domestic Taliban insurgency and often seems powerless to protect its citizens. At other times it has acquiesced to hardline demands because of fear, political gain or a convergence of beliefs.

“Now you have gun-toting people out there on the streets,” said Saleema Hashmi, a former head of arts college. “You don’t know who will kill you. You know no one is there to protect you.”

The uproar was sparked when the college’s Journal of Contemporary Art and Culture over the summer published pictures of a series of paintings by artist Muhammad Ali.

Particularly infuriating to conservatives were two works that they said insulted Islam by mixing images of Muslim clerics with suggestions of homosexuality, which is deeply taboo in Pakistan.

One titled “Call for Prayer” shows a cleric and a shirtless young boy sitting beside each other on a cot. The cleric fingers rosary beads as he gazes at the boy, who seductively stretches backward with his hands clasped behind his head.

Mumtaz Mangat, a lawyer who petitioned the courts to impose blasphemy charges, argued the image implied the cleric had “fun” with the boy before conducting the traditional Muslim call for prayer.

A second painting shows the same cleric reclining in front of a Muslim shrine, holding a book by Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho in one hand as he lights a cigarette for a young boy with the other. A second young boy, who is naked with his legs strategically crossed to cover his genitals, sits at the cleric’s feet. The painting has caused particular uproar because verses from Islam’s holy book, the Quran, appear on the shrine…

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Muslim Societies Go Beyond Borders: US Scholar

When India is reckoned as a villain in the national discourse in an overly charged environment, one dimension of bilateral relations is missing by and large: religious. Having taught politics, comparative ethnicity, and Muslims of South Asia for 30 long years at State University of New York at Albay, Professor Theodore P. Wright has aptly brought out this dimension. He was talking to ‘The News’ after a seminar on Muslim Societies in Islamabad the other day. It is stating the obvious to say that all religions advocate peace and welfare for humanity in general. Scholars of different religions, however, place more focus on well being of their coreligionists as there is an avowed conviction among all of them that they are ‘chosen’ or superior to the rest. But the hate mongers seem insensitive of even this fallacy of self-welfare, perhaps because it has a shadow of welfare. And their mania is put the world’s third largest population of Muslims — living in India — in danger…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Pakistani Mob Beats to Death Muslim Accused of Blasphemy

A mob in Pakistan has stormed a police station and beaten to death a Muslim man accused of desecrating the Koran.

The victim’s body was then set alight, according to witnesses.

The unnamed victim had earlier been handed over to the police after burnt pages of the Koran were found in a mosque in Dadu district, 330km (200 miles) north of Karachi, where he had been staying overnight.

Hours later a mob went to the police station, seized the man and killed him.

The district police chief, Usman Ghani, told the BBC the gruesome incident was filmed on mobile phones. He said the footage was being reviewed to identify culprits.

Thirty people have so far been detained in connection with the attack.

The local police chief and five of his officers have been arrested for failing to protect the man.

The BBC’s Shahzeb Jillani says blasphemy is a highly sensitive issue in Pakistan, where scores of people have been killed by mobs or vigilantes.

Our correspondent in Karachi adds that the controversial laws are often misused to persecute minorities or settle scores.

Most recently, international attention focused on the case of Christian teenager Rimsha Masih, who was held over blasphemy allegations.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Pakistan Police Murders: 21 Cops Found Shot to Death in Peshawar

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Twenty-one tribal policemen believed to have been kidnapped by the Taliban were found shot dead in Pakistan’s troubled northwest tribal region early Sunday, government officials said.

Officials found the bodies shortly after midnight in the Jabai area of Frontier Region Peshawar after being notified by one policeman who escaped, said Naveed Akbar Khan, a top political official in the area. Another policeman was found seriously wounded, said Khan.

The 23 policemen went missing before dawn Thursday when militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons attacked two posts in Frontier Region Peshawar. Two policemen were also killed in the attacks.

Militants lined the policemen up on a cricket pitch late Saturday night and gunned them down, said another local official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but suspicion fell on the Pakistani Taliban, who have been waging a bloody insurgency against the government for the past few years. The tribal region is the main sanctuary for the Taliban in Pakistan.

On Saturday, an explosion ripped through a passenger bus at a terminal in the southern city of Karachi, killing six people and wounding 52 others, some of whom were in critical condition, said Seemi Jamali, a doctor at the hospital where the victims were being treated.

Police were trying to determine whether the blast, which reduced the bus to a charred skeleton, was caused by a bomb or a gas canister that exploded, said police spokesman Imran Shaukat. Many buses in Pakistan run on natural gas.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Knitting Overcomes Cultural Barriers

The age old art of knitting is helping overcome barriers between Muslim and non-Muslim women, in an innovative cultural program in Brisbane. Women from a range of generations meet every week to share their sewing tips and experiences of life in Australia.

[JP note: See also ]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

New Year, Butt Out as On-the-Spot Smoking Fines Take Effect

HAPPY New Year — now stub out that cigarette.

Smoking near playgrounds and public swimming pools will be punished with a $550 on-the-spot fine as part of new state government laws to take effect in 2013.

Car registration stickers are dead while taxi drivers will be forced to wear seatbelts.

Bus, train or ferry commuters will pay between 10c and 20c more for single trips.

Grandstands and sportsgrounds, railway platforms, ferry wharves, bus stops and cab ranks will become smoke-free from January 7.

It will also be illegal to smoke within 4m of the entrance of a public building.

The ban will extend within three years to commercial outdoor dining areas and within 4m of a pedestrian entrance or exit from licensed premises, restaurants and cafes, making NSW virtually smoke-free.

The few public spaces where smoking will continue include the high rollers room at Sydney’s Star casino.

Health Minister Jillian Skinner said the tough stance was taken in a bid to reduce the number of people with a smoking-related illness.

“Smoking-related illness accounts for about 5200 deaths and 44,000 hospitalisations per year in NSW,” she said. “This costs about $8 billion annually.”

NSW Health will be relying on its own officials and council rangers to catch smokers breaking the law.

Erskineville’s Tim Hiley, who has three children aged between two and six years, welcomed the ban. He does not smoke and does not think the rules are intrusive.

“We do live in a highly regulated society, but the health of our children is very important,” he said.

The days of registration stickers will also be a thing of the past and police and road traffic authorities will rely on number plate recognition technology to determine if motorists have paid their rego.

Police have raised concerns that the change will place extra pressure on already stretched resources…

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Obligation to Respect, Not Share, Our Faiths

by Joseph Wakim

Each Christmas, my family receives more greetings and gifts from my Muslim friends than from fellow Christians. We treasure many handmade cards by Muslim children who do not celebrate Christmas. We cannot trivialise these efforts as tokenistic as they are annual and original. They are well-worded messages of peace in English and Arabic. I only wish we took the time to reciprocate this goodwill gesture at the two Islamic Eids each year


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Angola: Official Calls for Humanisation of Prisons

Dundo — The Prison Service should work on the implementation of prisons humanisation process. This was said to Angop on Friday in Dundo city in the eastern Lunda Norte province by the local delegate of the Ministry of Interior, Gil Famoso Sebastião da Silva. The official, who witnessed the Christmas of the inmates of Cacanda prison, promoted by Ministry of Interior, said that the process aims to improve the living conditions, medical assistance and technical professional training of the prisoners…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Kenya: Snake Disrupts Campaign Rally in Kilifi

A rally organised by Fisheries Development minister Amason Kingi at the Rea Vipingo Grounds was on Monday disrupted after a snake crawled into the main dais. The incident, which occurred at around 3pm, forced all the guests seated at the dais, including the minister and retired Justice Stewart Madzayo, to run for safety. Others got on top of the tables as the crowd tried to kill the serpent…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Nigeria: Gunmen Kill 25 in Adamawa, Borno

No fewer than 25 people were allegedly killed Friday in separate attacks in Maiha Local Government Area of Adamawa State and Musari area of Borno State by unknown gunmen suspected to be members of the Islamic religious sect, Boko Haram. The attacks which came as people were almost celebrating a stress free Yuletide led to 20 deaths in Maiha where the terrorists also attacked offices and lodges of the Customs and residents as well as the Divisional Police Headquarters, which they set ablaze. However, out of the 35 inmates freed by the attackers from the Maiha prison, the police said have re-arrested 11. The terrorists entered a Musari within the hours of 1 am and 3 am and surreptitiously killed five people in their houses…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


UK: Gavin Barwell MP: Four Reasons Why the Conservative Party Must Win More of Britain’s Growing Ethnic Vote

In yesterday’s Independent it was reported that David Cameron believes that the Tory Party faces an existential threat if it does not increase support among voters from minority communities. In a two-part series of articles Gavin Barwell MP examines the nature of the challenge facing the Conservatives and, tomorrow, some possible solutions. Gavin is Tory MP for Croydon Central. Follow him on Twitter.

At the last General Election, more than two thirds of voters from Britain’s black and ethnic minority (BME) communities supported Labour; only 16% voted for us (source: Ethnic Minority British Election Study (PDF)). As Lord Ashcroft has observed, not being white was the single best predictor that somebody wouldn’t vote Conservative. This wasn’t solely down to ethnicity. BME voters are more likely to live in safe Labour seats where there may not be an active Conservative Party and statistically they are over-represented in lower socio-economic groups, so you would expect them to be more likely to vote Labour. But the scale of the disparity should leave us in no doubt that ethnicity is a factor…

[Reader comment by Sandy Jamieson on 28 December 2012 at about 8 pm.]

I spent a good part of Boxing Day evening in the Westfield Shopping Centre in Stratford and was shocked. White people were in a clear minority and if that’s the way Gavin Barnwell envisages Britain, I don’t want to be part of it. Add on to that the large number of Eastern and Southern Europeans and it was like being in a foreign country. I just spent most of the evening sitting in the food area, reading the Telegraph and playing Spot the White Man […]

[Reader comment by Cassandra79 on 29 December 2012 at about 9 am.]

I agree. This is the same catch 22 position conservatives find themselves in the States and it’s coming to Britain. In California for example in order to appeal to the vast majority of ethnic minorities, the Republicans would also have to be the party of more public services, more multiculturalism, more ‘Affirmative Action’ entitlements for minorities and high taxes for their White base. And as a result of last year’s election, the Democrats now have a super-majority in the Calif. State Legislature, meaning that they can raise taxes as much as they please. This means White middle class Californians have now become cash cows basically, to be milked at will until they leave the state altogether. California is a small scale version of what the entire country will look like soon. So in order to appeal to hispanics, Republicans will have to not only agree to be soft on immigration as the media keeps telling them (i.e. to win you have to let in more Democrat voters!!), they also have to be gung ho on raising taxes and jacking up benefits. This is not even remotely a vision that even a moderate ‘‘Rhino Republican’’ could accept. It is basically complete surrender to the left on all fronts and would be strongly resisted by its core base. As for the claim that Hispanics “are natural values voters” there is very little evidence for this claim. Identity politics trumps all and whatever family values they support rarely extends beyond their OWN communities. This is the same for Asian and Muslim voters who are always trumpeted as model minorities who “ought” to be voting Republican but always vote overwhelmingly Democrat. I think the reason you see an upswing in the number of people supporting secession is that its slowly dawning on people that nothing is going to work to attract more ethnic votes and seccession is the only realistic alternative if conservative politics is to have a hope of surviving in the current demographic tsunami. Unfortunately in politics demographics are infinitely more important than ideas, debate or election campaigns. Conservatives who think they can somehow ‘manage it’ are only fooling themselves.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

France: Gov’t Cracks Down on Racism, Homophobia on Twitter

Antisemitic tweets; minister wants security procedures set up

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, DECEMBER 28 — The French government has declared war on the racism, anti-antisemitism and homophobia spreading on Twitter.

Twitter’s French timeline has recently born witness to ever more disturbing hashtags, such as #SiMonFilsestGay (if my son were gay) and #SiMaFilleRaméneUnNoir (if my daughter brought a black man home) and #unBonJuif’ (a good Jew), which has led to particularly shocking antisemitic tweets. The situation worries Francois Hollande’s Socialist government, which now would like to begin consultations with the associations involved and Twitter executives. “I hope that we can work together with the associations most closely involved to set up an alert and security system making it possible to prevent such regrettable episodes as those seen over the past few weeks from reoccurring,” government spokesperson and Women’s Rights Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem wrote today in the Le Monde paper. “This work will start on January 7, 2013. I hope, in particular, that Twitter will be able to look into the conditions to set up mechanisms making it possible to counter violations involving incitement and insult,” added Vallaud-Belkacem. The minister also underscored that these hate messages “are morally reprehensible and illegal. The fact that they are published online does not make the person committing the crime any less accountable in legal terms.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Aisha’s Cushion: Religious Art, Perception and Practice in Islam by Jamal J Elias — Review

Does Islam forbid images of Muhammad or not? By David Shariatmadari

In a simple house in 7th-century Arabia, a woman drapes an embroidered curtain with pictures of living creatures on it across a doorway. When her husband returns, he is displeased and pulls it down. But the material isn’t wasted: the woman turns it into cushions, which remain in sight without causing further conflict…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

First ‘Alien Earth’ Will be Found in 2013, Experts Say

The first truly Earth-like alien planet is likely to be spotted next year, an epic discovery that would cause humanity to reassess its place in the universe.

While astronomers have found a number of exoplanets over the last few years that share one or two key traits with our own world — such as size or inferred surface temperature — they have yet to bag a bona fide “alien Earth.” But that should change in 2013, scientists say.

“I’m very positive that the first Earth twin will be discovered next year,” said Abel Mendez, who runs the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]