Monday, August 25, 2008

Gates of Vienna News Feed 8/25/2008

USA
Clinton Dismisses McCain Ads
 
Canada
The Taliban Letter to the Canadian People
 
Europe and the EU
Local Councils Accused of Spying on Residents’ Sex Lives
Multi-Cultural Festival in Oslo
Italy: Former Leader Renews Attack on Palestinian Militant Group
Failed Asylum Seekers Going Underground
Ministers Accused of ‘Leaving Black Youths to Die’ as Three More Are Killed in Gang Violence
Binge-Drinking Mother Jailed After Crying Rape Against Devout Muslim Taxi Driver
Dutch Environmental Groups Under Fire; Subsidies May be Cut
 
North Africa
Libya: Final Steps to Close Deal, Tripoli Delegation in Rome
Wine: Tunisia; 49th Wine Festival in Grombalia From Tomorrow
An Egyptian Muslim’s Long Journey Towards Christianity
 
Israel and the Palestinians
Mideast: Russian Weapons to Syria, Concern in Israel
Member of ‘Modesty Squad’ Indicted
Mideast: Rice Arrives in Israel, 199 Palestinians Freed
Israeli Police Shut Down Islamic Institute
Hezbollah and Iran Sound Fresh Warning to Israel
U.S. ‘Peace Partner’ Holding Celebrations for Released Murderers
 
Middle East
Mideast: Russia-Syria Talks, Olmert to Visit Moscow
Saudi Arabia: 8-Year-Old Girl Married to 50 Year-Old Man
Killer Stabbed Man in UAE for Ridiculing His Father
‘Subversive’ Turkish TV Series Takes Arab World by Storm
 
Caucasus
The Russian-Georgian War: Implications for the Middle East
 
South Asia
Orissa: Hindu Extremists Burn One Nun Alive, Rape Another
Islam Defender Front Initiated Attack on Peaceful Rally
UK Secretary: Taliban No Strategic Threat to Afghan Government
 
Immigration
Immigration: Lampedusa CPT Bursting; Mayor, Enough
Migration in Germany: the Whole Catastrophe in Numbers
 
Culture Wars
Crying Censorship
White Middle-Class Men Face Discrimination at Women-Dominated BBC, Says Jeremy Paxman

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Holger Danske, Insubria, TB, VH, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Details are below the fold.
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USA

Clinton Dismisses McCain Ads

In what could be a preview of her Tuesday night address, Hillary Clinton defiantly dismissed John McCain’s new television commercials that encourage her former supporters to support his campaign.

“I’m Hillary Clinton and I do not approve this message,” Clinton said of the ads to loud cheers at the New York Democratic Party’s delegation breakfast this morning at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Denver.

“Let there be no mistake about it. We are united. We are united for change. We are, after all Democrats, so it may take awhile. We’re not the fall in line party. We’re diverse. Many voices. But make no mistake, we are united.

“I ask each and every one of you to work as hard for Barack and Joe Biden as you worked for me,” she said to her fellow delegates, some of whom waved “Hillary Made History” placards.

In a media availability with reporters following the breakfast, Clinton reiterated her opposition to McCain’s ads.

[Return to headlines]

Canada

The Taliban Letter to the Canadian People

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan address to the Canadian people

in connection with killing of two of its female citizens

In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

All Praise and thanks are due to Allah, the Lord of all that exists and may peace and prayers be upon the Messenger of Allah, his family, companions in entirety.

To the Canadian people, whose two females nationals were killed on Wednesday midnight 13-08-08 on Kabul and Gardiz highway in Kulagar area of Poli Alam city of Logar province in Afghanistan, should understand, that it was in result of the erroneous policies of the government of Canada, which has been hijacked by America, who have force it to send its young men and women to die for the greed of the corporate mafia, under the banner of spreading democracy in Afghanistan.

The Canadian people, you should recognize, that Americans have established policies which the Canadian forces must follow, these policies include killing Afghan men, women and children every day, bombing their homes and fields all in the name of democracy.

Afghans have not invaded Canada to kill Canadians, but its the Canadians who have invaded Afghanistan for murdering, torturing and plundering of Afghans and Afghanistan, so they can satisfy the craving of the fascist mode of neo-crusaders. […]

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan requests the peace loving citizens of Canada to advocate to its government to end its occupation of Afghanistan and let Afghans govern their government with out any foreign interventions, so that serenity can be enjoyed by Afghans and Canadians.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Local Councils Accused of Spying on Residents’ Sex Lives

Council have been accused of using surveillance powers to pry into residents sex lives.

The Conservatives say local government officials are monitoring couples’ sleeping arrangements for council tax purposes.

They have released documents they say shows that councils are invading households’ privacy to check on claims for council tax discounts.

More than 7.5 million people claim a 25 per cent discount on their council tax bill because they live alone

Councils are responsible for verifying that people who claim to live alone really do so.

A “surveillance dossier” used by Rotherham Council and released under freedom of information laws has shown how claims are checked.

The document suggests officials undertake “surveillance” of cars registered to addresses “to substantiate the allegation of living together”.

It also suggests surveillance “to establish if customer’s partner is living at the property” and to establish if couples are living “as husband and wife.”

Another local council, Thurrock in Essex, requires those applying for the single person exemption to sign a declaration agreeing that they will allow council officials to enter their home as part of an inspection.

[Return to headlines]


Italy: Moroccan Senator Given House Arrest

Rome, 22 August (AKI) — An Italian court has moved to end an embarassing diplomatic incident by transferring Moroccan Senator Yahya Yahya from jail to enable him to serve his sentence under house arrest.

“By this evening, he will be transferred to the Isola dell’ Amore Fraterno, in Rome’s Via Ardeatina,” said Yahya’s lawyer Domenico Naccari in an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI).

The Isola dell’Amore Fraterno is a Catholic volunteer organisation which provides welfare services for the elderly and former prisoners.

“Most likely, the Senator will want to find a more appropriate arrangement shortly,” said Naccari.

“In about a month, we will ask for him to be set freed while waiting for the appeal.”

Morocco recalled its Ambassador to Italy, Tajeddine Baddou, to protest against the imprisonment of Yahya.

Unconfirmed reports say that Yahya had a violent discussion with his wife at a bar in Rome’s fashionable Via Veneto. He reportedly stormed out of the bar and sexually ‘molested’ a woman in the street.

He was stopped by Italian paramilitary police or Carabinieri but he attacked them. He was later sentenced to two years and three months of jail time for sexual violence, rioting and resisting a public official.

Naccari could not confirm the reports.

In Parliament, Yahya Yahya represents Melilla, a city under Spanish control claimed by Morocco, and is known for his activism for Melilla’s return to Moroccan sovereignty.

Yahya is understood to hold Moroccan, Spanish and Dutch citizenship. Last June in Spain, he was sentenced by a tribunal in the Spanish enclave of Melilla to one year and three months after attacking Spanish border police.

At the time, the Moroccan government obtained his immediate release.

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


Multi-Cultural Festival in Oslo

The vast waterfront plaza adjoining Oslo’s City Hall (Rådhusplassen) was transformed over the weekend into a colourful festival grounds where different cultures could meet and mingle.

The annual Mela Festival opened Friday, with food, music, crafts and various performers on tap until late Sunday night.

The festival attracted support from a variety of sources, including the state, the city, trade union federation LO and a host of private sponsors from fertilizer maker Yara to mobile telephone service Lebara.

“LO believes that a wide and active artistic and cultural life contributes to increased quality of life,” said LO leader Roar Flåthen. “What’s so good about the Mela Festifal is that it’s a family festival with lots of activities for big and small.”

Grammy Award winner and human rights activist Miriam Makeba was among the artists performing at Mela, or “the meeting place.” Others include Ashar Azmat, Viet Vo Da House and Stereo Nation.

Admission was free. More than 300,000 have attended the festival in recent years.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Italy: Former Leader Renews Attack on Palestinian Militant Group

Rome, 14 July (AKI) — A war of words has broken out between former Italian President and Life Senator Francesco Cossiga and one of the largest Palestinian militant political groups.

Senator Cossiga provoked a controversial debate a week ago when he accused the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine of masterminding the 1980 bombing of the Bologna railway station, known as the Bologna massacre.

The PFLP immediately rejected the claim, but a spokesman for Cossiga launched a fresh attack on the group on Monday on behalf of the senator who was also Italy’s prime minister from 1979 to 1980.

“I will not respond to a gang of terrorists. They are not combatants, but vulgar killers and assassins of children, old people, women and the disabled,” the spokesman said in a statement.

“They have tainted the Palestinian cause for freedom, also killing its own people inside and outside the Gaza Strip, in league with Hamas and Hezbollah,” said Cossiga through the spokesperson.

On 8 July, in an interview with Italian daily Corriere della Sera, Cossiga claimed that Palestinian elements from the PFLP were responsible for the Bologna massacre. The article was later picked up by a Lebanese newspaper.

In 1980, a bomb exploded at the Bologna station in northern Italy, resulting in the deaths of 85 people and injuring another 200.

An Italian neo-fascist extremist group was charged with the massacre and two of the group’s leaders, Valerio Fioravanti and Francesca Mambro, were given life sentences by the country’s highest court, the Court of Cassation in 1995.

The PFLP officially rejected Cossiga’s recent claims with a statement on its website.

“The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine totally rejects the statements of former Italian prime minister and Senator for Life, Francesco Cossiga, that were published in the Lebanese newspaper, Al-Safir, on July 9, 2008,” it said.

The statement said that Cossiga “falsely accused the PFLP of masterminding an attack on the Bologna train station in northeastern Italy 28 years ago.”

The PFLP also vehemently denied that its founder George Habash had ever addressed the Italian authorities on the matter of the bombing, as Cossiga claimed.

“The Front, furthermore, in denying these false allegations, expressed its strong condemnation of the actions of some Italian politicians in fabricating lies to serve hostile policies against our people.”

“The PFLP noted that this accusation comes at a time when European solidarity with Palestine and the Palestinian cause is increasing among the peoples of Europe.”

The PFLP is a Marxist-Leninist, secular nationalist organisation founded in 1967. After the ruling Fatah movement, it is the second largest in what constitutes the Palestine Liberation Organisation.

Cossiga was a former prime minister, president of the republic, minister of the interior and now life senator.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Failed Asylum Seekers Going Underground

More unsuccessful asylum seekers are going into hiding in Sweden, new figures from the Migration Board show. The trend is attributed to tighter rules permitting authorities to send back more refugees from war-torn countries.

Palestinians from Iraq granted shelter in Sweden and Iceland (5 Aug 08)

In the first seven months of 2008, 5,325 failed asylum seekers went into hiding in the country, compared to 5,700 in the whole of 2007, according to figures from the Swedish Migration Board presented on Monday.

Iraqis account for the largest single group of vanishing refugees, with 1,005 citizens of the troubled Middle Eastern country going underground in Sweden so far this year.

“This is most likely linked to the fact that last year a lot of Iraqis were permitted to stay, while this year many have had their asylum applications rejected,” Inger Lagerström at the Migration Board told AFP.

Sweden, which in recent years has taken in more Iraqis than any other Western country, tightened its asylum policy last year, allowing the authorities to legally send people back to Iraq as well as other conflict-ridden areas, such as Somalia and parts of Afghanistan.

The proportion of successful Iraqi asylum seekers has plummeted from more than 80 percent in 2006, to around 70 percent last year, and to around 25 percent in the first three months of 2008, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

At the same time, the number of people seeking asylum in Sweden has plummeted from 36,207 in 2007 to just 14,172 in the first seven months of 2008, the board said.

The number of Iraqi asylum seekers has dropped from 18,559 in 2007 to just 4,216 in the first seven months of this year, the board added.

The recent increase in refugees going into hiding could also be linked to the fact that Sweden in 2006 gave all rejected asylum seekers a second chance at gaining residency, thus encouraging many out of hiding and pushing the number of disappearances in 2006-2007 down substantially.

In 2005, 11,436 rejected asylum seekers went underground in Sweden, according to Lagerström.

“It’s hard to give an exact explanation for these trends. They are linked to the overall number of asylum seekers and world events determining what people are fleeing from.”

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Ministers Accused of ‘Leaving Black Youths to Die’ as Three More Are Killed in Gang Violence

A gun crime expert who advises the Government accused it today of ‘leaving black youths to die’ by cutting community funding. Independent adviser Dr Derrick Campbell said funds meant to help build stronger communities were no longer going to the right organisations.

His comments came a day after yet another teenager was murdered in London, and as police appealed for calm in Birmingham following two deaths in gang-related incidents involving black youths in the space of 24 hours. Today Dr Campbell told the BBC there was ‘clear evidence’ from community groups in the Birmingham area that their funding was being cut — a situation which he said was reflected nationally.

He said: ‘We have to ask the question whether there seems to be an acceptance that, if another black youth is killed, they are just another one that we don’t have to worry about.

‘Black youths within this country have been left to die. And that’s a very strong statement but it’s a statement that seems to be borne out through evidence about black youths who seem to be at the top of the list when it comes to our youngsters being killed.’

Dr Campbell is chairman of the National Independent Advisory Group on Criminal Use of Firearms, which advises the Home Office and the security services.

Government must now face ‘very serious questions’ over why resources had not been reaching the community groups for which they were earmarked. Dr Campbell said the murder of 11-year-old Rhys Jones a year ago proved that crimes against white youths received more attention from the Government and media.

‘As a result (of the shooting) the Home Office was jumping up and down last August,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. ‘The question was asked at the time of the Home Secretary why it was we didn’t see the same frenetic activity from the Government and the media when the black youths were murdered.’

His comments drew an angry response from Home Office Minister Tony McNulty , who said: ‘Frankly what Derrick says is an insult to black groups and other community groups up and down the country who are being funded by local and central government, and work in this area on a daily and regular basis,’ Mr McNulty said. […]

The Home Office today insisted the Government was committed to tackling crime involving guns, gangs and knives and making the streets safe. A spokesman told the BBC: ‘In July we launched the £100million Youth Crime Action Plan which sets out a comprehensive package of tough enforcement and intensive prevention measures as well as more support for parents to tackle offending and reduce reoffending.’

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


Binge-Drinking Mother Jailed After Crying Rape Against Devout Muslim Taxi Driver

Joanne Rye was handed an eight-month prison sentence for falsely claiming she was raped in an alleyway. A binge-drinking mother has been jailed after falsely accusing an innocent taxi driver of raping her.

Joanne Rye, who kept up the lie for 20 months, was told by a judge her behaviour was despicable and was handed an eight-month prison sentence. The mother-of-one caused great shame and disgrace to devout Muslim Sherekhan Kali and his family after claiming that he dragged her down an alleyway and assaulted her.

Maidstone Crown Court heard Rye, then 18, was known as a troublemaker and had been banned from using the All Night Car Hire in Dartford, Kent where Mr Kali worked. The court also heard the week before she made the rape allegation, she had used racially insulting language to Mr Kali.

Valeria Swift, prosecuting, said Rye was very drunk and was taken to hospital claiming she had suffered an asthma attack on the night of October 21, 2006. Ms Rye became aggressive and police were called and it was then she made the rape claim, giving a detailed account of the attack.

The part-time cabbie was arrested at his home and taken to the police station where intimate samples, DNA and fingerprints were taken. His boss Nicholas Morris confirmed that Ms Rye had been banned from using the firm’s cabs because of racist abuse to drivers. Miss Swift revealed a check of the satellite navigation system in Mr Kali’s cab showed he had been nowhere near the area where Rye said she was attacked.

‘I consider this to be a despicable offence,’ he said. ‘You made an allegation that this entirely innocent taxi driver had raped you. ‘It was fully investigated with the consequences that police time and doctors’ time was wasted in the investigation.’

‘This is a case where the victim is a strict Muslim, who regularly attends to his beliefs and prays regularly,’ said Judge Lindsay. ‘At the police station, intimate samples were taken. Having another female touch a part of his body is forbidden. It would bring shame on his family. As a consequence, he left this country for a period.’ When he returned to work, Mr Kali was frightened of having women in his cab and would go home.

‘So we have a man of blameless character who is subjected to your dishonesty and trumped up allegation,’ said the judge. ‘He suffered the suggestion there is no smoke without fire.’

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


How 118,000 Violent Thugs Have Been Let Off With Just a Caution as Convictions for Violent Crime Plummet

Cautions have overtaken convictions as punishment for violent crimes for the first time, a report reveals today. The number of assault cases where police allow offenders to escape punishment has more than trebled in five years to more than 118,000 — including a near-doubling of the most serious violent attacks.

The rapid expansion of ‘instant justice’ under Labour has seen a dramatic rise in the use of formal warnings, cautions and on-the-spot fines by police as an alternative to pressing criminal charges. The detailed study by Professor Rod Morgan, former chairman of the Youth Justice Board, warns the trend could be diverting serious offenders — who would previously have been dealt with in court — towards lesser punishments.

Thugs

More than 118,000 violent thugs have got off with cautions under Labour’s instant justice policy. Posed by models Prof Morgan’s report, published by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, King’s College London, exposes the full extent of the growth in instant justice.

Police and prosecutors have embraced the policy, partly in response to controversial Whitehall targets which give equal credit for cautioning a child for a trivial disturbance as for catching a murderer.

Cautions handed out for ‘more serious violence against the person’ — assaults where victims are badly hurt — rose by 92 per cent to 916 between 2001 and 2006. It means nearly a quarter were given cautions, up from 14 per cent.

For less serious violence, cautions leapt from 19,090 to 56,357. While convictions also rose, from 32,390 to 38,622, the proportion of offenders charged and sent to court plunged from 63 per cent to just 41 per cent. The increase was repeated for common assault where cautions more than trebled to 60,938.

But the trend is not restricted to violent crime. In 2000 almost twothirds of those caught shoplifting — some 77,000 — were charged and appeared before magistrates. But by 2006 that had slumped to 41 per cent, or 58,000 offenders, while 32 per cent were cautioned and 27 per cent given fixed penalty fines of £80.

Penalty Notice Disorder fines were introduced in 2003 to deal with minor disorder, but were extended to cover shoplifting up to a value of £200, and criminal damage up to £500. The findings follow years of efforts by Labour to ‘re-balance’ the criminal justice system, aiming to deal with more offenders without swamping the courts with less serious cases.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


Dutch Environmental Groups Under Fire; Subsidies May be Cut

Dutch Environment Minister Jacqueline Cramer [Social Democrat (PvdA) and former environmentalist] says she may curb the supply of government subsidies to environmental organisations. She told the press on Saturday that she may even cut them off altogether.

Ms Cramer was responding to continuing harsh criticism of a number of environmentalist groups. One of them, Friends of the Earth Netherlands, has been attacked for its “dogmatic” and “undemocratic” campaign against illegal logging.

The campaign prompted the senior party in the ruling three-way coalition government, the Christian Democrats, to urge Minister Cramer to reconsider government support for environmental organisations.

In keeping with her Social Democrat leanings, Ms Cramer came out in defence of the environmentalists. In her view, they have an important part to play in involving citizens in environmental policies. Ms Cramer said the majority of the Dutch population has no objection to subsidies to groups that are critical of the government policy.

However, without naming names, Ms Cramer indicated a line has to be drawn. She said that the government has to be very critical with regard to organisations that provide “biased information” and “participate in the social debate in an undemocratic way”. Such behaviour, she warned, could lead to a termination of financial support.

“Greenpeace is a criminal organisation”: In a related development, Dutch fishermen are refusing to talk with Greenpeace any longer about the allocation of nature reserves in the North Sea. “We don’t negotiate with a criminal organisation”, said Ben Daalder, the President of the Federation of Fishermen Associations.

The Federation’s decision came a few days after Greenpeace dumped boulders off the coast of Denmark and Germany, in a fishing area were shrimpers, in particular, are very active. Their trawl nets may now catch the boulders and this may cause ships to capsize.

Greenpeace said it has dumped the boulders to prevent fishing boats from damaging the sensitive sea floor. Mr Daalder said: “What Greenpeace is doing is highly dangerous.” He added that fishermen will still negotiate with other environmental organizations like the World Wide Fund for Nature.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Libya: Final Steps to Close Deal, Tripoli Delegation in Rome

(ANSAmed) — ROME, AUGUST 20 — The negotiations between Italy and Libya for the signature of the historical agreement, which Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi wishes to finalise by the end of August, are continuing at a fast pace. In the wake of the visit to Rome on August 7 of Libyan Prime Minister El Baghdadi Ali El Mahmudi, yesterday a delegation from Tripoli (led by Deputy Foreign Minister Abdelati al Obeidi) arrived at Palazzo Chigi to meet Foreign Minister Franco Frattini and the undersecretary to the Prime Minister’s office, Gianni Letta: the Prime Minister in fact gave them the task to define the details of the negotiations which have been going on for years now, and whose possible conclusion might be sealed soon by a visit of Berlusconi to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. The main knot remains the financing for the construction by Italy of a coastal motorway which, in the footsteps of the ancient ‘via Balbia’, will cross the entire territory of Libya, from Egypt to Tunisia. This request has been considered as a priority by Tripoli for years, for the signature of the ‘Pact of friendship and cooperation’ which can finally put an end to the dispute on the colonial past. Studies on the actual feasibility of the infrastructure requested by the Libyans are still missing, but the costs for the Italian state would exceed — according to preliminary estimates — 3 billion euro. Because of this, according to reports, the diplomats are working to “spread” the financing over a period of time and the Libyans appear — it seems — to be willing to agree to Romés request. The acceleration given by Berlusconìs government is due to the fact, as sources well informed on the file said, that Libyan energy resources attract the interest of many other “competitors” of Italy. Caution, considering the past experiences and the other Libyan requests included in the “package”, is still the keyword, but Rome knows only too well that there are huge interests at stake. Libya, in fact, not only is Italy’s major supplier of hydrocarbons (with Eni in the centre of oil relations), but also the point of gathering and departure of thousands of illegal immigrants headed for the Sicilian coasts. On concluding the accord, Rome will gain in return an ending to the economic discrimination of its companies still operative in Libya and bigger participation in the oil sector. Moreover, naturally, the Jamahiriya will have to pay bigger attention to the migratory flows. It is not by chance that the pact signed a year ago between Rome and Tripoli to fight illegal immigration has not been ratified yet and that immigrants continue to sail from the Libyan coasts to Lampedusa. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Wine: Tunisia; 49th Wine Festival in Grombalia From Tomorrow

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, AUGUST 22 — The 49th Wine Festival will be held from tomorrow to August 30 in Grombalia (an area some thirty kilometers south of Tunis). Grombalia, together with neighbouring Mornag, is one of the most important centres for the wine growing and producing in Tunisia. Different wine brands produced there are exported and this is also thanks to the presence of Italian and French producers. As regards the technical part, the fair will be directed to the professional people of the sector, to whom it will propose the most recent news in the field of equipment and structures. A study day on the wine producing sector is also planned. The wine producing tradition in Tunisia has remote origins. It is reminded by the label posed on each Magon’s bottle; it is written that the name has been chosen in homage of Carthaginian Magon who as early as in the 8th century B.C. wrote a treatise on agriculture, wine growing and producing. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


An Egyptian Muslim’s Long Journey Towards Christianity

Maher al-Gohari converted to Christianity 30 years ago, but the Muslim-born Egyptian only recently took the decision to make his conversion public.

The 56-year-old former policeman has put applied to the Higher Administrative Court to have his religion changed from “Muslim” to “Christian” on his official ID card. […]

It’s ony the second time this year that such a request has been made in a country where converting to Christianity, while not illegal, is practically impossible.

In January, a court rejected a request by a Christian convert from Islam, Mohammed Higazi, to have his new religion written on his identity card. The following month however, a court decision authorised 12 converts to Islam who then reverted to Christianity to have their original faith marked on their ID cards.

In Higazi’s case, the judge based his decision on Sharia, Islamic law, to prove that one cannot convert to an “older religion”.

“Monotheistic religions were sent by God in chronological order…. As a result, it is unusual to go from the latest religion to the one that preceded it,” the judge said at the time.

The Higher Administrative Court is due to hear on September 2 the case of Maher al-Gohari, whose chosen Christian name is Peter Ethnassios, and who has been in hiding after receiving death threats from his family. […]

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Mideast: Russian Weapons to Syria, Concern in Israel

(by Aldo Baquis) (ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, AUGUST 22 — A climate of concern is perceivable in Israel, after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad discussed in Russia the purchase of advanced war systems in the context of a revision of the bilateral relations, in view of the recent conflict in Caucasus. Today the official news agency Sana specified that there is still no assent by Syria to the deployment of Russian missiles Iskander on its territory. However, the Israelis in charge of defence are still following with full attention the evolution of the Russian-Syrian contacts. “We will not allow the access into the region of weapons which will alter the current balance”, Transport Minister (and former Defence Minister) Shaul Mofaz, a leader of Kadima, warned. Yesterday, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev had a telephone conversation with Ehud Olmert and today it was reported that the Israeli Prime Minister will go on a mission to Moscow by the beginning of September. Its purpose, the Israeli military radio explained, is to try to limit the entity and quality of the possible Russian military supplies to Damascus. Israel plans to inform the Russian leaders that it has also limited the entity of its supplies to the armed forces of Georgia and therefore it expects some kind of reciprocity from Moscow. Yesterday the Russian Embassy in Tel Aviv assured that Moscow does not have particular complaints towards Israel for the assistance given to Georgia. “In the past we received from the Russians many appeasing assurances, but afterwards we had to admit that they were not well-founded”, Zahi Hanegbi (Kadima), president of the parliamentary commission for foreign affairs and defence, stated. “It is obvious that if the new Russian-Syrian military closeness is confirmed, this would be a very negative development” the regional stability would be affected”, Hanegbi also remarked. At this point, he pointed out, Syria must decide whether to continue the indirect peace negotiations with Israel in Turkey or to rally with the ‘radical axis’ against the West. Olmert is now on the defensive for having promoted these negotiations also when faced with the open scepticism of the United States. Mofaz himself twisted the knife in the wound today, stating that what Israel needs now is not “a weak diplomacy but a strong and expert leadership”. Mofaz hopes to win the leadership of Kadima (and, consequently, the office of Prime Minister) with the primary elections of his party, on September 17. It is still not known in Israel whether the Israeli-Syrian indirect negotiations will actually be resumed in September. On one hand there is the Israeli scepticism, expressed by Hanegbi and Mofaz. On the other, there is probably also the scepticism of the Syrians, due to the extreme fluidity of the Israeli politics, while again today, for the sixth time, Olmert was questioned by the anti-fraud squad of the police. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Member of ‘Modesty Squad’ Indicted

A 29-year-old man affiliated with Jerusalem’s haredi “modesty squad” has been indicted in a Jerusalem court for allegedly assaulting a 31-year-old woman in her apartment, together with six other men, after they suspected she had carried out “improper” relations with other men, court documents released Sunday show.

The suspect, Elhanan Buzaglo, who worked for the haredi modesty squad — a vigilante group active in the Mea Shearim and Geula neighborhoods that sees to it that the city’s haredi residents conduct themselves in accordance with the conventions of their ultra-observant lifestyle — was allegedly paid $2,000 for his services, the charge sheet states.

The chilling three-page indictment relates how the seven men brutally assaulted their victim — a divorced woman who had previously led a haredi lifestyle — in her home in the Ma’alot Dafna neighborhood on the night of June 1.

The men, armed with a bat and tear gas, barged into her home in the predominantly haredi neighborhood at 10:45 p.m., the charge sheet relates.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Islam: Ramadan, Ramallah Christians Celebrate With Muslim

(ANSAmed) — ROME, AUGUST 25 — A night to celebrate the coexistence of Christians and Muslim in order to show the will for an ever better living together among various religions. It is what the Christian community in Ramallah, the main city of the Palestinian National Authority, will offer their Muslim fellow citizens during the month of Ramadan, which this year will be celebrated in September. “During a night of the Muslims’ holy month, our Church will give a dinner to which we invite our Muslim students who account for 45% of the total, teachers and the whole community to celebrate together,” father Aktam Hijazin, who has been the parish priest of the Latin Catholic Church in Ramallah for two years now, told Terrasanta.net. The priest related how the local Christians experience their relationship with Muslim and Jewish, pointing out that various cultures and religions can coexist peacefully under the same sky. “In first place we are Palestinians, then Arab and finally Christians,” he explained. “This means that the relations with the occupiers are not better than the relations of the Muslim Palestinians. However, the problem is not with the Jewish, the problem is with the Israeli as occupiers,” he adds. “Here, as everywhere on the West Bank, the relations between the three religions are relaxed.” Nowadays Ramallah is predominantly Muslim, but before the Arab-Israeli wars the majority were Christian and even now their presence is numerous and significant: there are five ecclesial communities, each with its social and cultural institutions, apart from the places of worship. The oldest and most populous community is the Orthodox with some 6,000 faithful, followed by the Catholic-Latin one (3,500 faithful), the Melchite one (2,000), the Anglican one (300) and finally the Lutheran one (250). Such a numerous community could not do but influence the political choices of the city as well as the customs and the lifestyles. Terrasanta.net reports that the Palestinian National Authority takes into consideration the Christian presence in all of its decisions while from economic and social point of view the Christians develop many economic activities, from shops to bars and restaurants, recognisable from the fact that on Friday they are open and that there is possible to find alcohol and pork meat. Apart from the religious service, the Catholic church of Ramallah, literally “mount of God”, tries to back up and support economically its faithful, who “asks us mainly for solidarity against the occupation and to be with them in the resistance as well as to help them in their practical life, when searching lodging and job”, father Hijazin says. Father Aktam also faces the ‘hot’ theme of the tension between Palestinian factions of Hamas and Fatah, palpable also in Ramallah. The Christian community is not afraid of Hamas, moreover “many of us have voted for this party because Fatah was considered the party of the corruption. Then we saw that Hamas did not give up its fanaticism and this disappointed us”, the priest says with bitterness. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Mideast: Rice Arrives in Israel, 199 Palestinians Freed

(by Giorgio Raccah) (ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, AUGUST 25 — The US State Secretary Condoleezza Rice arrived today in Jerusalem, preceded by a tension-easing gesture by Israel, which today freed 199 Palestinian detainees happily welcomed in Ramallah. Ricés visit will last one day, including a stop in Ramallah, in the attempt to give a new impulse to the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. Ricés arrival, however, does not arise great expectations of new significant developments in the peace process, nor for the Israelis — for whom this is a “maintenance visit” — or for the Palestinians. In Ricés programme there are meetings today and tomorrow with the Palestinian chief negotiator, former Prime Minister Abu Ala (Ahmed Qorei), with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and with Israeli Foreign and Defence Ministers, Tzpi Livni and Ehud Barak. “It is extremely important to make continuous steps forward, rather than try to reach premature conclusions”, Rice said to the press. At the same time, she specified, the target of the United States remains to reach an agreement by the end of the year. Rice, however, finds that especially in Israel her interlocutors are distracted by domestic priorities: the future resignation of Olmert, at the centre of police enquiries, and the campaign which Mrs Livni is conducting to win the primary elections of Kadima, the relative majority party, and replace Olmert. It is also no mystery that between Olmert and Livni there is disagreement on the negotiations with the Palestinians. The former, with a glance on history, would like to press on the accelerator to reach at least a preliminary agreement before leaving the Prime Minister’s office, most probably already at the end of next month. The latter, instead, affirms that, in order to avoid misunderstandings which might cause new violence, it is necessary to have an as detailed and concrete as possible agreement on all the disputed issues, which will require some time, still. President Abbas in Ramallah, while meeting the 199 Palestinians freed by Israel, said that there will not be peace with the Jewish state until all the 11,000 Palestinians kept in Israeli prisons are released, first of all the popular exponent of Fatah, Marwan Barghuti, and the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Ahmad Saadat. The 199 freed Palestinians arrived this morning in Ramallah, happily welcomed by a crowd waving Palestinian flags, after signing a declaration in which they renounced terrorism against Israel. Among the released there are, for the first time, two men sentenced some 30 years ago for attacks which claimed the lives of Israeli citizens. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Israeli Police Shut Down Islamic Institute

Occupied Jerusalem: Police on Sunday shut down an Islamic institute in northern Israel over alleged ties with Hamas, a move that underscored government concern over Islamist influence among the Jewish state’s Arab citizens. Shaikh Raed Salah, who founded the Al Aqsa Institute that tracks Israeli activities near Al Aqsa mosque in Arab East Jerusalem, denied any ties with Hamas.

Police said they seized documents, computers and other material belonging to the institute in the Israeli Arab town of Umm Al Fahm, before closing it down. A special order issued by Defence Minister Ehud Barak declared the institute illegal.

A police statement said the Al Aqsa institute was conducting “joint activities” with Hamas, which seized the Gaza Strip from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction last year and has rejected Western calls to denounce violence.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


Hezbollah and Iran Sound Fresh Warning to Israel

Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah on Sunday joined Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in unleashing a volley of verbal attacks on Israel, warning the Jewish state against attacking the Lebanese group and accusing it of dragging the world into turmoil.

Nasrallah said the response from his fighters, should Israel attack them, would be more fierce than in the month-long war between the two enemies in 2006. His remarks, made at a boy scouts ceremony, were in response to a similar warning from Israel’s prime minister on Tuesday.

Ahmadinejad told supporters in the Iranian city of Arak: “About 2,000 organised Zionists and 7,000 to 8,000 agents of Zionism have dragged the world into turmoil.” If the West does not restrain Zionism, he said, “the powerful hand of the nations will clean these sources of corruption from the face of the earth”.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


U.S. ‘Peace Partner’ Holding Celebrations for Released Murderers

Freed terrorists will be hosted at same compound Rice slated to visit

JAFFA, Israel — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is slated to host an official celebration ceremony tomorrow on behalf of 199 prisoners to be released by Israel, including two prisoners who directly murdered Jews, WND has learned.

About 30 percent of the prisoners scheduled to be released tomorrow were involved on some level in attacks that led to the injury or death of Israelis, according to a WND analysis of the security history of the 199 convicts.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s security cabinet voted last week in favor of the release, which was slammed by opposition Knesset members as a victory for terror.

Olmert said the release was a gesture to Abbas to promote current Israeli-Palestinian negotiations started at last November’s U.S.-sponsored Annapolis Summit, which seeks to create a Palestinian state before Bush leaves office in January. Olmert is considered a lame duck prime minister. He has stated he will resign from office after his Kadima party holds primaries for a new leader next month.

Included in tomorrow’s release is Said al-Attaba, 56, who has been serving a life sentence since 1977 for killing an Israeli woman, and Mohammed Ibrahim Abu Ali, 51, known as “Abu Ali Yatta,” who has been behind bars since 1979 for killing an Israeli student.

The release is timed for tomorrow’s visit here by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who will meet the Israeli and Palestinian sides to further Annapolis negotiations.

[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Lebanon: Italy Funds Three Projects Worth 1.5 Million Euro

(ANSAmed) — ROME, AUGUST 6 — The Managing Committee of the General Direction for development cooperation of the Italian Foreign Ministry approved the funding of three new projects in Lebanon, worth in total 1.5 million euro, concerning environmental protection, promotion of gender equality and improvement of the governance. These new funds — as reported by the Italian Foreign Trade Institute (ICE)’s office in Beirut — add to the recently approved 4.6 million euro. All three projects will be developed in partnership with the central and local Lebanese authorities and concern, more specifically: a project for protection and preservation of the basin of the river Assi (Hermel), to be implemented with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (Iucn), worth 995,100 euro; a project to support equality between men and women in the Lebanese education system, which will be implemented with UNESCO, worth 480,000 euro; a project for the development of a modern strategy for the National Assembly of Lebanon, through a donation of 40,000 euro to the Trust Fund of the Italian Government at the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (Undesa). (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Mideast: Russia-Syria Talks, Olmert to Visit Moscow

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, AUGUST 22 — Alarmed by the rapprochement between Moscow and Damascus and by the possibility that Russia could decide important military supplies to Syria, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert prepares to meet soon Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. The visit in Moscow of the Israeli president could take place in the next two weeks, daily Yediot Ahronot claims. Yesterday Medvedev and Olmert had a telephone conversation. Later the Russian embassy in Tel Aviv tried to calm down the Israelis assuring that Moscow does not have any intention to change the strategic balances in the Middle East and that, as in the past, is discussing with Syria only the supply of defense systems. But there is anxiety in Israel over the possible sale to Damascus of Iskander SS26 missiles and of modern surface-to-air missiles, the army radio specified. “It is evident that if the Russia-Syrian military rapprochement is confirmed, it would be a very negative development…the regional stability would suffer from it”, observed Tzachi Hanegbi (Kadima), chairman of the parliamentary foreign affairs and defence committee. According to Hanegbi, at this point Syria should decide whether to continue the indirect peace negotiations with Israel in Turkey or to line up with the anti-western “radical axis”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Internet: Turkish Websites Revolt Against Government Censure

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, AUGUST 25 — A total 853 Internet sites — including the renowned YouTube and dailymotion.com — have been banned so far, for various reasons, by the Turkish judicial authorities, a fact which includes Turkey in the list of the countries which limit the freedom of expression, like China, Burma, Iran, Tunisia, Indonesia, Syria, Armenia, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. The Turkish judicial system has been applying a heavy hand on the cyberworld for some time, but the last drop which triggered a strong protest at national level was the block of the links in May 2008 — for the third time since March 2007 — to YouTube, guilty of hosting offensive videoclips for the image of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey. As a reaction to the sites ban, several blog operators have thus started to block by themselves. The first one was the blogger Firat Yildiz (elmaaltshift) which broadcast the message “The access to this site is denied for explicit desire of its owner”, which mimics the writing imposed by the censorship, which says “The access to this site is denied following a court order”. Many followed the example of Yildiz and last Wednesday, the last of the three days of the protest campaign against the censure, a total 441 websites and blogs were closed down due to the self-censure. It was probably in response to this campaign that on Saturday (but the local media reported it only today) the Court decided to suspend the ban of YouTube, the access to which, however, will not be reactivated before Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning. The ban of Internet websites by the Turkish judicial authority happens quite frequently, given that there eight violations of the article 5651 of the penal code which imply the immediate block of the sites. The violations include also pedo-pornography, insults to the image of Ataturk, the instigation to suicide and gambling. It was with the accusation of spreading images of child pornography that in March a first instance Court blocked the access to ‘Google Groups’, the function of the international search engine which allows the connection to discussion groups, which in Turkey are some 9,000. But the censorial repression, paradoxically, contributed to increase the popularity of other websites (like ktunnel.com and its rival vtunnel.com), which are able to grant their users access to the forbidden sites. So much so that, on the basis of data collected by web news company alexa.com, despite the ban imposed on it, YouTube ranks still in 37th place in the list of the most visited websites every day by some 1.5 million Turkish Internet surfers, thus showing once again that as soon as the law is made, people find a way around it. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Saudi Arabia: 8-Year-Old Girl Married to 50 Year-Old Man

(ANSAmed) — RIYADH, AUGUST 25 — A Saudi court will examine in September the divorce claim by an eight-year-old girl given by her father in marriage to a 50-year-old man without her knowledge, Saudi Arabian Al Watan daily wrote. The divorce suit has been filed by the girl’s mother in the court of Unayzah, 220 km north of Riyadh, where the marriage contract has been secretly signed by the father, the defence lawyer Abdallah Jtili was quoted by the newspaper as saying. “The girl, who is preparing to start her fourth year in primary school, still doesn’t know she is married,” the lawyer said. Her relatives have contacted human rights groups in the kingdom to try to arrange legal help to annul the marriage. However, the husband has refused, saying he has done “nothing illegal”. Cases of little girls given in marriage to men are some times announced in Saudi Arabia, an ultraconservative kingdom which applies strictly the fundamentalist Islamic current of Wahhabism that allows polygamy. Last April, in the neighbouring Yemen another eight-year-old girl won a divorce in court after her father forced her into marriage with a man aged 28. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Detained Yemeni Christians Face Possible Torture and Death

The Washington-DC based human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC) www.persecution.org has learned that Yemeni authorities continue to detain the Christians who converted from Islam to Christianity.

In press releases dated June 27, 2008 and July 2, 2008, we reported on the detention of seven Christians by Yemeni authorities. We are excited to see that AP and Fox News have started to follow the story. According to the AP, an unidentified Yemeni authority admitted that his country had detained nine Christian converts from Islam between May and August 2008. ICC has obtained the names of several of the detained Christians but for their safety at this time, we cannot reveal their names.

Our sources indicated that the Chrisitans were detained by the Political Security Office, which is headed by Colonel Ghaleb Al Qamish.

The Political Secutiy Office is infamous for carrying out extrajudicial killings, torture and other forms of egregious human rights ! violatio ns with impunity. The imprisoned Christians are also feared to be experiencing torture and even facing death.

ICC’s president, Jeff King, said, “The detention of the Yemeni Christians not only violates their human rights but also exposes them for further human rights violations like torture and even extrajudicial killings. Yemeni authorities should fulfill their obligations under international human rights law by releasing the Chrisians and respecting the freedom of their citizens to follow the religion of their choice.”

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


Killer Stabbed Man in UAE for Ridiculing His Father

A man was stabbed to death yesterday when a fight broke out after the victim ridiculed his attacker’s father, saying he looked like a woman for having shaved off his moustache. A senior officer at the police’s Criminal Investigation Department said the fight erupted between a group of six Pakistanis.

Forty-year-old Pakistani Taher Khan was pronounced dead and his brother Ajmal Khan, in his mid-thirties, sustained serious injuries and was admitted to Saqr Hospital’s ICU.

Relatives and Pakistani community sources said the two victims were with their third brother and were socialising in Al Jeer with another Pakistani man and his two sons. The sources said a heated argument broke out when the victims criticised and laughed at the men’s father who had shaved off his moustache, saying he looked like a woman.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


Court to Look Into One Jihadist’s Appeal on Aug 25

The Court of Appeals will look into an appeal filed by one of the accused in the so-called ‘Jihadists in Iraq’ case, Monday Aug 25, 2008 in which 22 men have been charged with recruiting youth to fight the US forces in Iraq. [….]

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


‘Subversive’ Turkish TV Series Takes Arab World by Storm

With his strawberry blond curls, blues eyes and engaging smile, Mohannad is setting the pulses of millions of Arab women racing in a television series critics claim is scandalising traditional Muslim values. Despite being branded ‘subversive’ and ‘anti-Islamic’ by a top Saudi Muslim cleric, millions of viewers from Beirut to Algiers tune in up to three times a day to watch the Turkish-made soap opera, ‘Noor’, dubbed into Arabic.

The series tells the story of Mohannad and his equally stunning wife Noor as they wrestle to reconcile the conflicting pressures of traditional and modern worlds. ‘I love it because it is as glamorous as the foreign soap operas (American and Mexican) we sometimes watch,’ said Cairo resident Safaa Abdel Hadi, a self-confessed Noor addict.

‘But at the same time the family in ‘Noor’ is Muslim and they have similar traditions and customs, so we relate to them much more,’ she added. […] Noor tells the story of a young mother who abandons her family home to start a new life with her baby and the story of another woman who becomes pregnant out of wedlock — issues frowned upon in the conservative Arab world.

‘We must not fool ourselves into thinking that because they are Muslim they are like us. The show reflects Western culture and problems, not our own,’ said 34-year-old Nadia Abdel Rahman of Egypt. In order to protect the sensibilities of conservative Arab and Muslim viewers, the production company, Sama, which provides the voice-over, has deleted intimate scenes considered to be ‘inappropriate’.

Nevertheless Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, head of the country’s highest religious authority, issued a fatwa against the series. He branded it ‘subversive’, ‘anti-Islamic’ and decreed that any channel which broadcasts the series is ‘an enemy of God and his Prophet’.

Ironically, the programme is aired by Saudi satellite channel MBC which last spring arranged a dinner banquet in Dubai in honour of the two main actors, prompting fans of the soap to go wild.

Tatlitug has proved such a hit with female viewers that Arab television have carried reports of that a number of jealous husbands have filed for divorce from their wives..

From the souks of Tunis to the markets of east Jerusalem, T-shirts bearing pictures of the glamourous couple, Mohannad and Noor, are selling like hotcakes. […] ‘Such series reflect how the lives of Arab people are torn between modern life and their traditions,’ said Lebanese sociologist Melhem Shaul, who specialises in the media. ‘Somehow these shows help ease the anguish that grips us,’ Shaul added.

‘Women who work but are oppressed by their husbands or male chauvinists who are forced to be on an equal footing with women, can identify with the characters.’

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]

Caucasus

The Russian-Georgian War: Implications for the Middle East

by Ariel Cohen

Moscow formulated far-reaching goals when it carefully prepared — over a period of at least two and a half years — for a land invasion of Georgia. These goals included: expelling Georgian troops and effectively terminating Georgian sovereignty in South Ossetia and Abkhazia; bringing down President Mikheil Saakashvili and installing a more pro-Russian leadership in Tbilisi; and preventing Georgia from joining NATO.

Russia’s long-term strategic goals include increasing its control of the Caucasus, especially over strategic energy pipelines. If a pro-Russian regime is established in Georgia, it will bring the strategic Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the Baku-Erzurum (Turkey) gas pipeline under Moscow’s control.

In recent years, Moscow granted the majority of Abkhazs and South Ossetians Russian citizenship. Use of Russian citizenship to create a “protected” population residing in a neighboring state to undermine its sovereignty is a slippery slope which is now leading to a redrawing of the former Soviet borders.

Russian continental power is on the rise. Israel should understand it and not provoke Moscow unnecessarily, while defending its own national security interests staunchly. Small states need to treat nuclear armed great powers with respect.

U.S. intelligence-gathering and analysis on the Russian threat to Georgia failed. So did U.S. military assistance to Georgia, worth around $2 billion over the last 15 years. This is something to remember when looking at recent American intelligence assessments of the Iranian nuclear threat or the unsuccessful training of Palestinian Authority security forces against Hamas.

The long-term outcomes of the current Russian-Georgian war will be felt far and wide, from Afghanistan to Iran, and from the Caspian to the Mediterranean. The war is a mid-sized earthquake which indicates that the geopolitical tectonic plates are shifting, and nations in the Middle East, including Israel, need to take notice…

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Orissa: Hindu Extremists Burn One Nun Alive, Rape Another

by Nirmala Carvalho

Bubaneshwar (AsiaNews) — A Catholic nun was burnt alive by a group of Hindu fundamentalists who stormed the orphanage she ran in the district of Bargarh (Orissa), this according to Police Superintendent Ashok Biswall. A priest who was at the orphanage was also badly hurt and is now being treated in hospital for multiple burns. Another nun from Bubaneshwar’s Social Centre was gang raped by groups of Hindu extremists before the building housing the facility was set on fire. Sources also told AsiaNews that elsewhere one priest was wounded and two other were abducted. The list of violent anti-Christian acts is thus getting longer.

For the past two days the state of Orissa (north-east India) has been racked by violence following the assassination of radical Hindu leader Swami Laxanananda Saraswati.

Churches, community and pastoral centres, convents and orphanages have been attacked yesterday and today by mobs shouting “Kill the Christians; destroy their institutions.”

Tensions in the state are in fact still running high. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has planned demonstrations for today and tomorrow. Gangs of Hindu fanatics from the VHP as well as Sangh Parivar are roaming roads and villages, setting up road blocks, sending their own members on raids of plunder and violence.

According to firsthand accounts the archdiocese’s social centre was attacked and torched. Before that the attackers raped Sister Meena, a nun working at the centre.

The local pastoral centre, which has escaped destruction in last December’s violence, is now a total wreck. Father Thomas, who ran the facility, is in hospital with serious head injuries.

Speaking to AsiaNews Fr Ajay Singh also said that a nun was burnt alive in an orphanage she ran in the district of Bargarh.

Elsewhere Sisters of Mother Teresa have been attacked by stone-throwing Hindu militants with one seriously injured.

All Christian institutions are now in danger because mobs of Hindu radicals are roaming the streets, breaking down doors and smashing windows, including in some cases Christian homes. Many priests and nuns have had to escape.

In Bubaneshwar Hindu militants stoned the Archbishop’s residence, but did not dare invade the place because of police presence.

In Phulbani the parish church and the home of local clergy were attacked and set on fire. All local priests fled and found refuge in the homes of some of members of the local congregation.

The youth hostel that houses students who study in Phulbani has also been torched.

Some missionaries of Charity who were attending a health course in Brahamanigoan were blocked for hours in the village.

Elsewhere nuns left their convent finding shelter in some school buildings.

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


Hindu Nationalism is a Cancer on India, Says Orissa Bishop

by Nirmala Carvalho

Mgr Raphael Cheenath, archbishop of Cuttack-Bubaneshwar, talks about the situation of the Church following attacks against churches, cars and people in Orissa. There is a link between Hindu nationalist ideology and Nazism. For him though, Christianity has “deep roots” in the state and the Church is the “light” for many Tribals and outcasts.

Bubaneshwar (AsiaNews) — Hindu nationalism, which is fomenting attacks against Christians, is like a cancer that is undermining inter-communal coexistence, which is the foundation of Indian society. The roots of this nationalism, expressed especially through the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) or National Volunteers’ Organisation, are in Hitler’s Nazism.

For the archbishop of Cuttack-Bubaneshwar, whose priests have had to flee mobs of fanatics roaming around looking for Christians, the Cross has set deep roots in Orissa. “The Church,” he said, “will be the light for generations to come in Orissa.”

Mgr Raphael Cheenath, Verbite, archbishop of Cuttack-Bubaneshwar (Orissa), described to AsiaNews the situation of the faithful under his care after two days of attacks by radical Hindus against churches, social and pastoral centres, parishes and convents.

“Father Thomas, director of our pastoral centre, is hiding in the forest,” the archbishop said. “From there, tears in his eyes and sorrow in his heart, he saw it go up in smoke. Just before the attack he phoned me and I told him: ‘Pray and be vigilant.’ But when he saw mobs of people coming towards the centre he had to flee for his life. The pastoral centre had cost more than 15 million rupees.”

The new wave of destructions comes in the wake of the assassination of radical Hindu leader Swami Laxanananda last Saturday (23 August), which was blamed on Christians.

“We Christians refuse violence. We condemn every act of violence and terrorism. But we are also against taking the law into our own hands,” said the bishop.

“As soon as we heard about Swami Laxamananda Saraswati’s assassination I issued a public statement strongly condemning the dastardly attack and murders. I called on everyone to remain peaceful and in harmony. We want relations of friendship with all communities.”

News of more violence are still coming in from around the diocese—a chapel torched in Sundergarh, a van owned by nuns burnt in G. Udayagir, etc.

“We feel totally abandoned. This morning the authorities sent three policemen to watch over the nuns’ convent and the bishop’s residence. But they don’t even have a stick to protect us from the fury of the mob!”

For Monsignor Cheenath anti-Christian (and anti-Muslim) violence is rooted in the ideology that developed around the RSS (which inspires other fanatical groups linked to the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party).

“Golwalkar, a founding member of the RSS, in a book that he wrote borrowed ideas from Hitler’s Nazism. His admiration for Hitler was well-known. He rejected the idea that India was a secular nation, and posited instead that it was a Hindu Rashtra (a Hindu system), which a great of influence over much of the Indian population.” But in a Hindu Rashtra there is no place for other religions.

“In Orissa we are victimised because of the Cross,” Monsignor Cheenath explained. “More than 94 per cent of the population is Hindu. Christianity is practiced by only 2.4 per cent of the population. There have been some conversions though among Tribals, who have often been abused by the people of the cities.”

“Here the majority would like to eliminate the Cross, but its roots are too deep and the cancer of nationalism will not prevail. The Church will be the light for many generations to come.”

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


Islam Defender Front Initiated Attack on Peaceful Rally

A witness on Monday testified that the Islam Defender Front (FPI) initiated the ambush on National Alliance for the Freedom of Faith and Religion (AKKBB) activists rallying at the National Monument (Monas) compound in June.

“There were around 400 FPI members. We (AKKBB) gathered at the Monas open area,” said Anik H.T., AKKBB coordinator, as quoted by Tempointeraktif.com. Some 70 activists were injured during the attack on the peaceful rally, which was held in support of the Muslim sect Ahmadiyah and to commemorate the 63rd anniversary of Pancasila state ideology.

FPI leader Rizieq Shihab is on trial for violating Criminal Code Articles 170, for ambush, and 156, for inciting hostility.

Anik said the Jakarta Police warned the alliance that an Islamic organization, Hizbuth Tahir, was staging another rally at the same place, but the alliance decided to go on with their rally. “We thought Hizbuth Tahir would never perform violence,” Anik said. […]

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


UK Secretary: Taliban No Strategic Threat to Afghan Government

The Taliban do not pose a strategic threat to the Afghan government, despite mounting attacks by the near the Afghan capital, U.K. Defense Secretary Des Browne said Thursday.

Speaking to the BBC, Browne acknowledged that the Taliban was capable of mounting major attacks on Kabul, but dismissed the suggestion that the Taliban posed a major threat.

“There have been an increase in these attacks, but they are indiscriminate attacks, they are individual attacks,” Browne told the broadcaster. “In no sense have they created or can they make a strategic threat to the government of Afghanistan.”

He was speaking a few days after 10 French soldiers were killed in the deadliest battle for international forces in Afghanistan since the 2001 ousting of the Taliban. […]

The Taliban were driven from power in a U..S.-led invasion in late 2001 because they would not hand over their Al-Qaeda allies, wanted for the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

But the Taliban regrouped, with some taking refuge in Pakistan, to launch an insurgency that military officials say is attracting more Arab, Pakistani and other Muslim fighters.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]

Immigration

Immigration: Lampedusa CPT Bursting; Mayor, Enough

(ANSAmed) — LAMPEDUSA (AGRIGENTO), AUGUST 25 — The record number of illegal immigrants in the reception centre in Lampedusa, more than 2,000, and the continuous arrivals on the island (more than 300 people arrived on Sunday alone) demonstrate that taking a hard line against illegal immigration is the right thing to do, according to Lampedusa mayor Bernardino De Rubeis. After the barbed wire around the centre and the patrols, the mayor on Sunday warned the Coastal Guard against “transferring more immigrants to the centre, which is already collapsing”, threatening to accuse of “undermining public security” anyone who shows disrespect for his decision. “As far as the destination of rescued people is concerned — especially when it comes about asylum seekers — it is necessary that there are taken to a safe port where they can receive adequate assistance and gain access to asylum procedures,” Laura Boldrini, a spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), replied. However, not only the biggest Pelagie island is stormed by illegal immigrants: after Saturday’s arrival, with 249 people landed on the coasts of Siracusa, on Sunday a boat carrying 49 immigrants, among them eight women, was rescued 30 miles south of Capo Passero, the extreme south point of Sicily. Record arrivals have also been registered in Malta where 110 illegal immigrants arrived on Sunday alone. For several hours another sea tragedy was feared to have occurred: the commander of a Spanish fishing boat which rescued 77 people reported that one of the persons said she had suffered a shipwreck together with 27 other people. However, it turned out that the story had been invented by her in order to be rescued by the Spanish crew, the Maltese authorities said. In a letter to the Italian Interior minister, Roberto Maroni, the mayor of Lampedusa said that the reception centre, which has a maximum capacity to accommodate 762 people (1,200 including open air ), “should be only an outpost to be used in accordance with the legal norms and abiding by the norms of civility and human dignity”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Migration in Germany: the Whole Catastrophe in Numbers

Migration in Deutschland: Die ganze Katastrophe in Zahlen

By Christian Dieter Matuschek

Translation: Richard Woods

In my present column I would like to present the numbers which are normally kept secret from the population. Do-gooders would be bereft of words with their multicultural arguments if they were to be confronted with the following official statistics, but which are not given to the petit bourgeois:

Even the normally absolutely “politically correct” and popular pedagogical magazine Stern has following title at the release of following numbers: “the ticking time-bomb”. Meant by this is of course the immigration-disaster in Germany:

(People with migratory background- those are immigrants since 1950 and their descendants, many of them in the meantime with German nationality, are called migrants due to reasons of simplicity.)

Migrants in Germany: 15.3 millions

  • contingent of migrant families: 27 %
  • migration quota among children up to two years: 34 %
  • migrants without finished job training: 44 %
  • migrants between 22 & 24 years without finished job training: 54 %
  • Turkish migrants without finished job training: 72 %
  • unemployed migrants: 29 %
  • low-income migrants: 43.9 %
  • migrants in poverty: 28.2 %
  • migrant children in poverty: 36.2 %
  • Turkish migrant children suffering from mistreatment & heavy corporal punishment in the family: 44.5 %
  • migrant children in Berlin needing additional German language courses :54.4 %
  • migrant quota at the Eberhard-Klein school in Berlin-Kreuzberg: 100 %
  • migrant contingent among teenagers with over ten criminal offences in Berlin: 79%

Summarized this means: Germany is completely infiltrated, and criminality, especially among juveniles, is mainly committed by migrants.

Good job, members of the 1968-student revolutionists, do-gooders, politically correct, elitists and however else you call yourselves!

           — Hat tip: Holger Danske[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Crying Censorship

by Stanley Fish

Salman Rushdie, self-appointed poster boy for the First Amendment, is at it again. This time he’s not standing up for free expression on his own behalf, but on behalf of another author, Sherry Jones, whose debut novel about the prophet Muhammad’s child bride had been withdrawn by Random House after consultants warned that its publication “could incite racial conflict.”

Random House is also Rushdie’s publisher, and his response to the news was to send an e-mail to The Associated Press. (I never thought of that; maybe I’ll try it myself.) It read, “I am very disappointed to hear that my publishers, Random House, have canceled another author’s novel because of their concerns about possible Islamic reprisals. This is censorship and its sets a very bad precedent indeed.”

This little brouhaha has been widely reported and commentators have tended to endow it with large philosophical and political implications (the Danish cartoon controversy of 2005 and the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh are often referenced). A story in The Times of London online edition describes it “the latest showdown between Islam and the Western tradition of free speech.” One respondent declared bravely, “I will never buy another book published by Random House,” and added, in a frenzy of patriotism, “We are Americans. We are free to choose what we want to read.”

Well, I guess we are, although that wouldn’t be my definition of what it means to be an American. It is also true, however, that Random House is free to publish or decline to publish whatever it likes, and its decision to do either has nothing whatsoever to do with the Western tradition of free speech or any other high-sounding abstraction.

Rushdie and the pious pundits think otherwise because they don’t quite understand what censorship is. Or, rather, they conflate the colloquial sense of the word with the sense it has in philosophical and legal contexts. In the colloquial sense, censorship occurs whenever we don’t say or write something because we fear adverse consequences, or because we feel that what we would like to say is inappropriate in the circumstances, or because we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. (This is often called self-censorship. I call it civilized behavior.)…

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


White Middle-Class Men Face Discrimination at Women-Dominated BBC, Says Jeremy Paxman

White middle-class men are the most discriminated against group in television, Jeremy Paxman has claimed. The Newsnight presenter, 58, pointed to a string of women senior executives as evidence of their growing dominance in the industry. And he even said he had advised white middle-class men not to bother going into TV because they have little chance of succeeding.

But his comments were attacked by TV presenter Mariella Frostrup, who said women were still ‘struggling to achieve’. Speaking on a filmed interview, which was aired at the Edinburgh Television Festival, Paxman said: ‘The worst thing you can be in this industry now is to be a middle-class white male.

‘Any middle-class white male who I come across that wants to enter television, I tell them to give up, there’s no hope. Do I think it is a man’s world? That is the most ridiculous question I have been asked all week.’ He then listed several women in senior positions, including BBC Vision director Jana Bennett and BBC1 Controller Jay Hunt, adding: ‘Is this evidence of some male conspiracy keeping women down?’

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]

7 comments:

teacher.paris said...

"The goal of abolishing the white race is on its face so desirable that some may find it hard to believe that it could incur any opposition other than from committed white supremacists … Race Traitor will not abandon its focus on whiteness, no matter how vehement the pleas and how virtuously oppressed those doing the pleading. The editors meant it when they replied to a reader, “Make no mistake about it: we intend to keep bashing the dead white males, and the live ones, and the females too, until the social construct known as ‘the white race’ is destroyed—not ‘deconstructed’ but destroyed.”
"
Noel Ignatiev, Ed.M. Ph.D. from 1994,fellow at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute.American history professor at the Massachusetts College of Art

Afonso Henriques said...

Wow!
So, the Hindus have extrimists as well? I haven't read any news yet but I am apalled!
On the other head, concerning the plus half a billion Hindus, just to hear this case reminds me of how peacefull Hindus are. Why? Because the next case like this I'll hear is, i think, in five years time.
But, what is it Hindu extremists? Is it JBP associates? I am used to see the JBP a party on the lines of the European Nationalistic parties though more authentic and more, let's say so, "sane".

--------------

Teacher Paris. How come that man was hired as a teacher. When was it? Why do I think it's after 65 and Kennedy and...

Afonso Henriques said...

Wow...

After all I was deadly wrong. Thank you Baron and Dymphna for letting me know what's happening in India (our more Narural ally, having enemies like China, Islam and to some extent multiculturalism...).

One thing I think must be unlocked. Your "news" are prejudiced. The reporter is most likely not an Indian and this time, I side with the Hindus. No, of course I do not aprove their actions but I think there are some background that we don't have, it is for me hard to believe (it's called prejudice) that Hindus would behave like this without reason, especially "Nationalist Hindus" (which I thought was free from the Skinhead extremists wanna be Nationalists that abound in Europe) because they are usually very educated.

I think the Christians started something. Probabily, Christians - and I consider myself to be (somewhat) Christian (at least, culturally extremely Christian) - killed the Hindu leader.

Another thing I do understand, is the desperate of the Hindus when they see the massiva advance of the Middle Eastern and European (that is, foreign) Christianity, the superimposition of the Christians over the Hindu masses and the competition between Christianity (as well as Islam) and the Hindus over Hindu's almost propery, almost slaves: The Tribals and low castes.

I know what the Indian Nationalists admire in Hitler and it is debatable whether it is racist ot or not. But that exactly same thing they admire in Hitler, is more "purely Indian" that it will ever be European.

So, once again, Christianity and Islam are subverting India in their typical most disgusting semitic fashion. This yes, is anti-Semitism, the most refined anti-Semitism you can get. It has nothing to do with the Jews though, and as so this will pass*.

The reporter? I know that type well, and for what I have heard, they are even worst in India (though they here are usually good immigrants), where they see themselves as superior to everybody. People like him do not fall into the caste categories, he thinks he is above it all... There are only two types, I have met many and there are no middle terms in which concerns religeon: There are the old style Communists with their lack of believing and the extreme Catholic, even to Portuguese Catholics, resembeling more the Fidelíssima España. Yes, they are as Catholics as the more devoted Spaniards (and there's not a coincidence why Opus Dei was born in Spain, Spaniards feel Catholicism diferently). He's more probabily a Catholic. Why do I know that? He is of mixed origin, is mother was Indian, hence his first name, his father was surnamed Carvalho, a typical Portuguese surname. And Portuguese in India were common up untill 1974, today, the mixed ones are common in India. The reporter is an half European Catholic arrogant.

* While I think that a Christian India will be no better, it may be something better to tens of millions of Indians, if not hundreds. But Indian culture would be destroyed, completely destroyed. I don't want that, so I am quiet neutral on it. If I were Indian though, I would be on the Hindu side (at least if my caste was high enough for me to be given such a choice). But, concerning Islam? Only a non European Europe and a non European America can be worst than a Islamic India...

Thank you once more Gates of Vienna.

Diamed said...

I find it humorous blacks are blaming the government for not stopping blacks from murdering blacks. What on earth do we have to do with it? It's not our fault they keep killing each other. I also love that line about needing to control 'guns, gangs, and knives.' Really, last I checked no magical guns or knives were floating around shooting and stabbing people all on their own. What you'd really need to control is the blacks who are wielding said guns, gangs, and knives as tools to carry out their criminal minds. So in the same article they absolve blacks from any responsibility and claim guns are shooting themselves without any humans pulling the trigger, and then that whites aren't doing enough to save blacks from themselves. And these are the black british babs is so fond of and wants more of?

Then in the next article you see the labor government refusing to enforce any crime and letting thieves and assaulters go without a penalty. Anyone who has read broken windows theory or knows how giuliani cleaned up new york knows that all light offenders are, or eventually will become, the heavy offenders. That a criminal is a criminal is a criminal. The only way to control crime in your city is to slap heavy jailtime on anyone who does anything so that all the criminals in the city are caught and safely in jail, and then wonder of wonders, not only graffitti and shoplifting stop, but so do rape, murder, armed robbery, etc---because it's the SAME PEOPLE DOING BOTH. Crime runs rampant because no one is willing to punish criminals or lay the blame for crime where it belongs. Crime is the price we must pay to continue to live in feel-good fairy land. Crime is a choice.

laine said...

‘The question was asked at the time of the Home Secretary why it was we didn’t see the same frenetic activity from the Government and the media when the black youths were murdered.’

Wherever they congregate, even where they are small minorities, it is still the case that most blacks who are killed are victims of other blacks.

The leftist scenario allows discussion of blacks only as victims. The way they "handle" black on black crime is to airbrush the perpetrator out of the discussion entirely.

In the USA, black on white crime is common, despite blacks being at only 12% of the population. There is minimal media coverage. White on black crime is relatively rare, but punished more severely under hate crime legislation and get massive media coverage. I believe the same pattern prevails in Britain.

It's difficult to make a logically coherent case that black on black crime is the fault of whites, but the Left keeps stepping up to the plate and taking responsibility on behalf of all whites for all self-inflicted problems in the black community under the rubric of "racism". Apparently it comforts a lot of illogical minds to believe that white racism which is at historic lows is driving blacks to kill each other at rates much higher than when racism was rife. Meanwhile, the purple elephant in the room, the toxic culture of drugs/guns/gangs with hair-trigger "respect" radar exported along with mainly Jamaican blacks wherever they settle is a no go area.

Every once in a while a recently bereaved grieving mother or someone else at a funeral service speaks the truth, that it is their group's unhealthy cultural ways producing damaged youth preying on each other. A few religious leaders in the black community have also spoken up to their credit. But the majority are still looking to whitey to blame and for a solution that involves money, not suggestions that they alter their own dysfunctional behavior because anything but money would be "racist".

No one in the history of the world has been able to make a societal problem disappear with money alone without concomitant positive alteration of people's behavior.

Conversely, money has helped create many social problems because it tends to reinforce bad behavior. For example, deciding to pay single mothers welfare so their children would be looked after did not result in said mothers reasoning: "Thank heaven society was there to save me from my one mistake which I promise will be my last". Instead, the majority of these young ladies went out and made more babies with more irresponsible men because someone else paid for their mistakes, was subsidizing their status quo behavior instead of demanding positive change e.g. birth control implant and schooling or work in exchange for government aid.

Incidentally, those who cheer the coming end of the white race as a cancer on humanity are going to have to find a substitute to feed all of Africa for example to avoid mass starvation of blacks. The Chinese will sell them arms but give them food? Nah.

Conservative Swede said...

Laine,

deciding to pay single mothers welfare
...
subsidizing their status quo behavior instead of demanding positive change


I call this: paying them to stay poor.

Afonso Henriques said...

Laine,

recently in America, a black striper (or was she a prostitute?) claimed some white collegial boys raped her. It was a lye.
However, it was highly publicised in the media.

I remember that at that time I was studying Economics and was focusing on post-war European Economy. The progam was something like this:
After the evil Nazis were defeated, the Americans helped the lousy Europeans with the Marshall plan. After that, in the 60s, black Americans revolted against the evil white supermacist Americans while Europe found Socialism and Cooperation and call that the European Economic Comunity. Europeans went ahead to feed third world countries trough the EEC while America was fighting to enslave blacks again. America lost that war thanks to Martin Luther King.

I recall how my Economic's teacher got a whole 90 minutes lesson talking exclusively about the United States, and how that rape was a demonstration of racism and how it is still so common in America to white boys to rape white girls and how the American health system is bad and how Capitalist America will fall due to lack of Socialism. 90 minutes. I was so revolted... I was glad to know I was not the only one.

But the truth is: The rape was non existant and, for each 15 minutes, a white girl is raped by a black man in the country that leads the West, European Civilisation, the United States of America...
I also recall my phylosophy teachter teaching the whole class how Nazi Germany, Darwin and Capitalism are all related and are one the same thing: The lack of love towards your neighbour.

Diamonds from XXI century Socialist European Union Educational System. But I believe you Americans are not much better.