Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Gates of Vienna News Feed 1/26/2010

Gates of Vienna News Feed 1/26/2010A Virginia man who was arrested by police in a New Jersey motel room possessed a veritable arsenal of weapons, including a grenade-launcher and two assault rifles. Authorities say the man has no connection with terrorism, although among his belongings was “a Middle Eastern, red-and-white traditional headdress”.

In other news, a 16-year-old girl in Pakistan was sentenced to 101 lashes for the crime of being raped, and her father was fined. The rapist, however, was not punished.

Thanks to 4symbols, Barry Rubin, C. Cantoni, Derius, Diana West, Fjordman, Gaia, Henrik, Insubria, JD, JH, KGS, RRW, Sean O’Brian, Steen, TB, TV, Vlad Tepes, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
- - - - - - - - -
Financial Crisis
Carbon Currency: A New Beginning for Technocracy?
Deficit to Hit $1.35 Trillion in 2010, CBO Says
European States Need to Borrow €2,200bn
Spain: Press: From Italy’s Surpassing to Slap for Zapatero
Spain’s Economic Crisis Revives Debate on Immigration
The Free-Trade Globalists’ Attack on Me
UK: Bad Good News on the Economy
US December Home Sales Plunge
 
USA
‘Anti-Israel’ Group Recruiting Across Nation
‘Bizarre’ Decision Against Islam Critique Appealed
Busted! Obama Praise Planted in U.S. Newspapers
Dem Plan: Split GOP, Tea Party
Islam is … Finally Being Fixed on Google
Obama Gets ‘F’ On Stopping Spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction
Report: Al-Qaeda Aims to Hit U.S. With WMDs
Rubio Edges Crist in Florida GOP Senate Race, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds
US Muslims Praise Obama Despite Setbacks
Virginia Man Had Weapons Cache, Grenade Launcher Stashed in N.J. Hotel Room
 
Europe and the EU
Cardinal Dreams of Coherent Catholic Politicians
EU: Police Chief Found Dead on Eve of Davos Meeting
France: Parliamentary Mission Requests Full Veil Ban
France: Islamic Extremists Threaten Jewish-Friendly Imam
Italy: Bologna Mayor Steps Down Amid Scandal
Italy: D’Alema Accepts Apulia Result. PD United Behind Vendola
Italy: Bullet Mailed to Turin Mayor Over High-Speed Rail Link
Muslims Attack Silence Over Anti-Islamic Hostility
Netherlands: Minister: Criminals Untouchable if Victims Fear Them
Niqab Ban in France: A Crisis of Identity?
Shimon Peres Visits Berlin Amid Tight Security
Stop the Trial of Geert Wilders
Sweden: Malmö: Muslim Antisemitism
UK: Boy, 13, Who Raped Woman in Front of His Friends is Jailed for Just Three Years… Because He Said ‘Sorry’
UK: Employer Told Not to Post Advert for ‘Reliable’ Workers Because it Discriminates Against ‘Unreliable’ Applicants
UK: Recruiting by Al-Qaida Affiliate Raises Alarms
UKIP Threatens Tory Attempt to Oust Murphy at Election
‘We Are Not Really Germans’
 
Balkans
Croatia: Average Family Cost of Living 905 Euros in December
 
North Africa
African Cup: Algeria Celebrating Semi-Finals
Algeria: Fight Against Fakes, Deal With Imperial Tobacco
HRW: Another Year of Abuses in Egypt, Libya
Industry: Dainese Moves to Tunisia
Terrorism: Algeria; US Security Policy Uses Double Standard
Tunisia: Ibla Institute to be Rebuilt After Destroyed by Fire
Tunisia: Grand Mufti Calls Body Scanner Sacrilege
TV: Al Azhar Against Iranian Series on Prophet Joseph
TV: Arab League Defends Project of Arab Media Commission
 
Israel and the Palestinians
Hamas is to Blame for Israel’s Failure to Aid Gazans
Israel Presses: Goldstone Report is Anti-Semitic
 
Middle East
Al-Qaeda is Losing. Prepare for a Daring Hit
Diana West: A Soldier Speaks Out on Iraq, From Iraq
Environment: Death Traps on the Dead Sea as Pits Increase
Europe News Banned in the United Arab Emirates
Intelligence From Tehran Elevates Concern in the West
Lebanon: EU Mine-Clearing Operations,18 Mln Spent Since 2006
UAE: Abu Dhabi: Women’s Underground Parking Spaces
UAE: HRW Says Human Rights Situation Unsatisfactory
 
South Asia
Indonesia Mulls Tearing Down Obama Statue
Malaysian Men Jailed for Ritual Killing of Parents
Pakistan: Rapist Spared, Victim Lashed
 
Australia — Pacific
Australian Google Row Over Missing Aborigine Flag
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
Doomed Airliner Made ‘Fast and Strange Turn’
Mohamed Ali Harrath, Islamic TV Chief, Is Held Over Terror Claims
 
Latin America
Haiti: Italy Disavows Envoy’s Criticism
 
Immigration
Denmark: Minister Tightens Immigration Laws
Many Foreign-Born in Sweden Lack Work: Study
Spain: Torrejon Revokes Residency Restrictions
UN Sending 6000 More Somalis to US This Year
 
Culture Wars
‘Gay’ Plan for Bathrooms Called ‘Moral Insanity’
 
General
Eco-Racketeering, A Business With a Future
Islam and Islamism: Are Hijackers Extremists, “Proper Muslims, “ or Contenders in a Civil War?

Financial Crisis

Carbon Currency: A New Beginning for Technocracy?

Critics who think that the U.S. dollar will be replaced by some new global currency are perhaps thinking too small.

On the world horizon looms a new global currency that could replace all paper currencies and the economic system upon which they are based.

The new currency, simply called Carbon Currency, is designed to support a revolutionary new economic system based on energy (production, and consumption), instead of price. Our current price-based economic system and its related currencies that have supported capitalism, socialism, fascism and communism, is being herded to the slaughterhouse in order to make way for a new carbon-based world.

It is plainly evident that the world is laboring under a dying system of price-based economics as evidenced by the rapid decline of paper currencies. The era of fiat (irredeemable paper currency) was introduced in 1971 when President Richard Nixon decoupled the U.S. dollar from gold. Because the dollar-turned-fiat was the world’s primary reserve asset, all other currencies eventually followed suit, leaving us today with a global sea of paper that is increasingly undesired, unstable, unusable.

The deathly economic state of today’s world is a direct reflection of the sum of its sick and dying currencies, but this could soon change.

Forces are already at work to position a new Carbon Currency as the ultimate solution to global calls for poverty reduction, population control, environmental control, global warming, energy allocation and blanket distribution of economic wealth.

Unfortunately for individual people living in this new system, it will also require authoritarian and centralized control over all aspects of life, from cradle to grave.

What is Carbon Currency and how does it work? In a nutshell, Carbon Currency will be based on the regular allocation of available energy to the people of the world. If not used within a period of time, the Currency will expire (like monthly minutes on your cell phone plan) so that the same people can receive a new allocation based on new energy production quotas for the next period.

[Return to headlines]


Deficit to Hit $1.35 Trillion in 2010, CBO Says

Economic growth to remain ‘muted,’ analysts estimate

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — The U.S. government will in 2010 record its second-biggest budget deficit since World War II, the Congressional Budget Office estimated Tuesday, while economic growth will probably stay “muted” for the next few years.

Assuming current laws and policies remain unchanged, the deficit will hit $1.35 trillion in 2010, CBO said in its annual budget outlook. The report was released about one week before President Barack Obama transmits his fiscal 2011 budget to Congress, and underscored the fiscal challenges facing the year-old administration.

CBO expects that the economy will continue to grow, albeit at a slower pace than in earlier recoveries. The unemployment rate will average more than 10% during the first half of 2010 before beginning a gradual decline, the congressional analysts also estimated. Read the CBO’s report.

Obama is under mounting pressure to cut the deficit but also to create jobs, in the wake of last week’s victory in a special Senate election in Massachusetts by Republican Scott Brown.

The House has already approved a $156 billion package aimed at job creation, while the Senate is drafting a separate $80 billion proposal that includes tax cuts for firms that hire new workers among other steps.

The deficit figure is a bit smaller than earlier projected by the CBO, but would still be the second largest since World War II. The largest was $1.4 trillion in fiscal 2009. That number was more than three times as much as in 2008.

The CBO sees the deficit falling to $980 billion by next year, but only if several tax cuts are allowed to expire. Farther out, the deficit is projected to fall to $480 billion by 2015, also assuming a bevy of tax cuts are allowed to expire.

The long term budget picture, meanwhile, is brighter than previously thought. The total deficit for 2010-2019 is now projected to be $6.7 trillion; in August, the CBO estimated it would be $7.1 trillion…

           — Hat tip: Derius[Return to headlines]


European States Need to Borrow €2,200bn

European governments will need to borrow a record €2,200bn from capital markets this year to finance budget deficits.

The projected borrowing is a 3.7 per cent increase on the €2,120bn raised in 2009, according to Fitch Ratings, as governments continue to issue sovereign bonds and short-term bills.

This will put pressure on public finances as yields and volatility are set to rise…

           — Hat tip: Derius[Return to headlines]


Spain: Press: From Italy’s Surpassing to Slap for Zapatero

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, JANUARY 25 — Happy times for the socialist Premier of Spain José Rodriguez Zapatero for Spain’s surpassing of Italy in 2007 of per capital GDP didn’t last long. “From surpassing to slap”, read the conservative newspaper ABC, in reporting on the Eurostat forecasts, according to which Spain has not only been overtaken by Italy, but has drifted further from the “big” countries of the European group. Spain’s GDP will be equal to 97.4% of the European average in 2010, while that of Italy will reach 98.4%. 2009 was also the first year since 2001 in which Spain returned below the European average, with an average per capita GDP of 98.1%. Moreover, the same paper reminded that, in spite of Italy’s public debt being the largest in the European Union, over 110% of GDP and twice that of Spain, the profitability ratio for government issued bonds in Spain is 4.12%, compared to 4.05% for those issued by the Italian government. And this in spite of the fact that credit rating agencies give a much higher rating to Spain with respect to Italy. Standard & Poor has forecast a downturn for the Spanish economy this year of 0.6%, with an unemployment rate that will reach over 20%”. “Italy surpasses Spain in wealth and whips Zapatero”, reads the daily Economico Expansion, highlighting how the recession will bring Spain’s GDP to prior to 200 levels, leading the country away from Europe’s great powers. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Spain’s Economic Crisis Revives Debate on Immigration

Madrid — An attempt by a Spanish town to deprive illegal immigrants of access to health care has sparked a heated debate about immigration in the country grappling with an economic crisis. So far, Spain had seen relatively little anti-immigrant sentiment despite the rapid increase of its migrant population over the past decade and a soaring unemployment now running at nearly 20 per cent.

Yet as the economic crisis drags on, the conservative opposition is toughening its discourse on immigration while the socialist government is seen as having got caught between contradictory policies.

The number of immigrants in Spain has increased fivefold over a decade to about 5.3 million or 12 per cent of the population, according to official figures.

Spain also has an estimated 300,000 undocumented migrants.

Between early 2005 and March 2008, the authorities opened proceedings to expel about 156,000 illegals, but 70 per cent of them were able to stay because of red tape, lack of judicial approvals, not revealing their nationalities, or other reasons, the daily El Mundo reported.

The contradictions surrounding immigration policies surfaced when the eastern town of Vic announced that it would no longer allow undocumented immigrants to register as residents, barring them access to health care, education and other social services.

Nearly a quarter of Vic’s 38,000 residents are foreigners of some 90 nationalities, and the municipal authorities were trying to stem the influence of a small far-right party which came second in the 2007 local elections.

It was not logical to register people who were supposed to have been expelled from the country, the Vic authorities argued, but the case sparked a storm of protests.

Nobody living in Spain could be deprived of social services, regardless of their residence status, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said.

Vic finally backed down, but the case revealed that some other municipalities were also trying to restrict the rights of migrants, and prompted the conservative People’s Party (PP) to call for a new debate on immigration.

The party has proposed a “contract of integration,” the contents of which would include the need for immigrants to respect Spanish culture.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]


The Free-Trade Globalists’ Attack on Me

Still, in an extensive argument over numbers, Griswold fails to refute my argument that in evaluating the impact of trade agreements such as NAFTA, CAFTA and the World Trade Organization, the issue is not jobs created but net jobs created.

Free-trade globalists at Cato, including Griswold, were dealt a shocking setback in January with the Bureau of Labor Statistics announcement that net job growth in the United States in the past decade, from 2000 through 2009, was zero, the worst performance for the U.S. economy since the end of the Great Depression in the 1930s.

Free-trade globalists typically gloss over the issue by citing statistics that claim 26 million jobs were created in the United States between 1993 and 2007.

The real picture becomes clearer when 1990s data are separated out from 2000-2009 data and when “net jobs” are analyzed by taking into consideration not just new jobs created but also existing jobs lost.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Bad Good News on the Economy

What a disappointment. So, Britain is officially out of recession, but the exit is far from convincing. That 0.1pc growth recorded in the final quarter of 2009 was far lower than the consensus forecast among economists of 0.4pc. It is quite possible that, as more data comes in in the coming months, the Office for National Statistics actually revises this figure down, so that in hindsight the recession won’t actually have ended at all (though it is also possible it revises the figure higher).

It goes without saying that this news will be extremely damaging for the Chancellor. Alistair Darling had been quietly hoping some months ago that the Q3 numbers would be positive. After it emerged that they most certainly weren’t, he said a number of times that he was sure the economy had started growing again before the end of the year. As it happens, he was only right by the skin of his teeth. These far-from-convincing figures may well make up the Government’s minds not to push for that early election so many thought would be on the cards. However, they also strengthen Gordon Brown’s hand when it comes to arguing that spending cuts should be put off for some time.

Most of the major sectors of the economy were weak — services, which accounts for around three quarters of UK GDP, grew by only 0.1pc, likewise industrial production, and agricultural output dropped by 0.6pc, although this now comprises such a small part of the economy that it couldn’t drag overall growth down towards zero. According to James Knightley of ING, “This is a woefully soft emergence from recession”.

And what is striking from the ONS numbers is just how broad-based this recession has been. We may have assumed it would be focused on the financial sector, but just look at the collapse in industrial output shown by this chart…

           — Hat tip: Derius[Return to headlines]


US December Home Sales Plunge

Worst drop in 40 years

WASHINGTON — Sales of previously occupied homes took their largest drop in more than 40 years last month yet managed to end 2009 with the first annual gain in four years.

Still, prices plunged by more than 12 percent last year — the sharpest fall since the Great Depression. The price drop for 2009 — to a median of $173,500 — showed the housing market remains too weak to help fuel a sustained economic recovery. Total sales for 2009 were nearly 5.2 million, up about 5 percent from 2008.

Last month’s worse-than-expected showing underscores concerns that the housing market could weaken further after March 31, when the Federal Reserve is set to end its program to buy mortgage securities to keep home loan rates low. Once that program ends, mortgage rates could rise. Adding to the worries, a newly extended homebuyer tax credit is scheduled to run out at the end of April.

The numbers “clearly indicate that the rebound in housing demand observed so far has been largely supported by government programs,” Anna Piretti, senior economist at BNP Paribas, wrote in a research note Monday.

[Return to headlines]

USA

‘Anti-Israel’ Group Recruiting Across Nation

Controversial organization claims it supports Jewish state

A controversial lobby group accused of working against Israel will be hosted by a Jewish organization at the University of Pennsylvania as part of an initiative to make the group known in local venues across the U.S.

[…]

J Street’s event at the University of Pennsylvania is opposed by a new pro-Israel activist organization calling itself Z Street, which is planning a protest event to coincide with J Street’s outreach day.

“It is a shame that there will be any connection between Hillel and J Street,” Z Street co-founder Lori Lowenthal Marcus told WND. “J Street does not deserve to be considered a mainstream pro-Israel organization as it has demonstrated repeatedly that it is ‘pro-Ishmael’ and not ‘pro-Israel.’“

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


‘Bizarre’ Decision Against Islam Critique Appealed

Christians fined for slamming textbook that taught kids to be ‘Muslim’

A “bizarre” ruling by a judge in Maine who declined to address a dispute over a fine announced by the state against a Christian organization for criticizing Islam will be appealed, attorneys have confirmed.

“The judge has a bizarre order that suggests that after you file a lawsuit when the state wants to have you reapply for the fundraising license, that makes the issue a state question,” said Mathew Staver, chief counsel for the non-profit Liberty Counsel.

The case was brought on behalf of the Christian Action Network, which argued it was in good standing with a valid license for prior years in Maine, authorizing the group to mail letters in the state. Then it filed to renew its license last March, and the check for the annual license was deposited by the state.

[…]

CAN’s corporate attorney David Carroll said the problem with Maine’s law is that it is based on multiculturalism.

“The real problem here is that the educational establishment has a tin ear when it comes to things that are offensive to Christians but sensitive to things that are offensive to any other religion,” Carroll said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Busted! Obama Praise Planted in U.S. Newspapers

Bogus messages from ‘president’s supporters’ infest American print

Obama supporters are flooding newspapers with pro-Obama letters purportedly from average citizens — with duplicate messages appearing in more than 70 publications across the nation.

One writer identified as “Ellie Light” has published identical form letters in newspapers around the country. Sabrina Eaton of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Light claims to have different hometowns within the respective newspaper readership areas. Each letter is nearly identical in grammar, style and subject.

Light’s letters have appeared in many mainstream publications, including Politico.com, the Washington Times, USA Today and even Thailand’s Bangkok Post.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Dem Plan: Split GOP, Tea Party

Democrats are looking for someone to blame for their electoral woes — and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Robert Menendez is working hard to make sure it’s not him.

Showing that they’ve learned the lesson of Massachusetts, Menendez and his staff will distribute a memo Tuesday advising Democratic campaign managers to frame their opponents early — and to drive a wedge between moderate voters and tea-party-style conservatives.

“Given the pressure Republican candidates feel from the extreme right in their party, there is a critical — yet time-sensitive — opportunity for Democratic candidates,” the DSCC writes. “We have a finite window when Republicans candidates will feel susceptible to the extremists in their party. Given the urgent nature of this dynamic, we suggest an aggressive effort to get your opponents on the record.”

The memo urges Democratic candidates to force their opponents to answer a series of questions on health care, taxes and some of the favorite causes of the far right:

“Do you believe that Barack Obama is a U.S. citizen? Do you think the 10th Amendment bars Congress from issuing regulations like minimum health care coverage standards? Do you think programs like Social Security and Medicare represent socialism and should never have been created in the first place? Do you think President Obama is a socialist? Do you think America should return to a gold standard?”

If a Republican candidate says no to any of the questions, the memo says Democrats should “make their primary opponent or conservative activists know it. This will cause them to take heat from their primary opponents and could likely provoke a flip-flop, as it already has several times with Mark Kirk in Illinois.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Islam is … Finally Being Fixed on Google

After nearly three weeks, Google is finally repairing a glitch that hid search suggestions for the phrase “Islam is,” which had led some to conclude that Google — whose mantra is “don’t be evil” — had been censoring its search results.

A Google spokesman tells FoxNews.com that “the bug fix is in the process of rolling out, and suggestions will be visible within the next few days.” Twitter comments from readers across the country confirm Google’s statement; reports from Florida, Ohio, New Jersey, Georgia and more concur that the fix is rolling out across the country.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Obama Gets ‘F’ On Stopping Spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction

A bipartisan, independent commission on stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction says that the Obama administration has failed in its first year in office to do enough to prevent a germ weapons attack on America or to respond quickly and effectively should such an attack occur.

In a 19-page report card being published Tuesday, the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction, Proliferation and Terrorism, chaired by former Senators Bob Graham, a Democrat from Florida, and Jim Talent, a Missouri Republican, gives the new administration the grade of “F” for failing to take key steps the commission outlined just over a year ago in its initial report.

Specifically, the commission concludes that the Obama administration, like the three administrations before it, has failed to pay consistent and urgent attention to increasing the nation’s ability to respond quickly and effectively to a germ attack that would inflict massive casualties on the nation.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Report: Al-Qaeda Aims to Hit U.S. With WMDs

The report, by a former senior CIA official who led the agency’s hunt for weapons of mass destruction, portrays al-Qaeda’s leaders as determined and patient, willing to wait for years to acquire the kind of weapons that could inflict widespread casualties.

The former official, Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, draws on his knowledge of classified case files to argue that al-Qaeda has been far more sophisticated in its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction than is commonly believed, pursuing parallel paths to acquiring weapons and forging alliances with groups that can offer resources and expertise.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Rubio Edges Crist in Florida GOP Senate Race, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds

Former State House Speaker Marco Rubio has squeaked past Gov. Charlie Crist in the race for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination, leading 47 — 44 percent and topping Gov. Crist on trust, values and conservative credentials, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Rubio beats the leading Democrat, South Florida Congressman Kendrick Meek, 44 — 35 percent in a general election matchup, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds. Crist leads Meek 48 — 36 percent.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


US Muslims Praise Obama Despite Setbacks

WASHINGTON — A year after Barack Obama came to office, American Muslims believe the winds of change are blowing, but are still waiting to see that reflected in their daily lives and want Obama avoid the mistakes of his predecessor.

“I would like to give Obama credit for reaching out to the Muslim community,” Mohamed Majid, vice president of the Islamic Society of North America, told IslamOnline.net.

In his historic inauguration speech, Obama raised hopes of change for all Americans and particularly for American Muslims, who longed for a new era in which their civil liberties would not be compromised on security grounds.

He followed that with two trips to Muslim-majority Turkey and later to Egypt, from where he delivered his long-awaited key speech to the Muslim world.

“What he said about Muslim charities among others, he spoke very well. I think he did a very good job,” says Imam Shaker El-Sayyed, of the Dar Al-Hijrah mosque in Virginia.

He notes that one thing that Obama should be commended for is that he has removed the war rhetoric from the White House.

“This is very vital because it was about to leave huge civil rights violations in the American Muslim society.”

The Fort Hood attack, when Muslim army psychiatrist Major Nidal Hasan went on a shooting spree killing 13 soldiers and wounding 30 others, was a major test for Obama.

“No one can ignore that president Obama has shown his leadership on the Fort Hood incident by urging calm and cautioning against jumping to conclusions,” says Nihad Awad, Executive Director of the Council on American Muslim Relations (CAIR).

Salam Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, agrees.

“I think it could have been much worse in the previous administration.

“It could have created an environment to stigmatize Islam and Muslims. But Obama handled the situation very well.”

Though there are no official estimates, the US is home to from nearly 7-8 million Muslims.

Setbacks

While he appreciates Obama’s Fort Hood stance, Mahdi Bray, Executive Director of the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, says it was just a moment.

“Every president has his moment. To be fair even George Bush had his moment after 9/11 when he said there will be zero tolerance to backlash,” he told IOL.

He believes Obama disappointed hopeful Muslims with so many setbacks, especially when it comes to many of the Bush administration’s controversial policies.

“In fact, in many of them, like the Patriot Act and the detention rights of Muslim prisoners, his position is not different from that of the Bush administration and in some cases it is actually worse.”

The Muslim leader also cites Obama’s decision to send more troops to expand the Afghanistan war.

“The escalation of war is not in the best interest of Afghan people, the Muslim world, Muslims in America, or Americans in general. This is totally unacceptable.”

Imam El-Sayyed also gives Obama the thumb-down regarding the controversial mosque infiltration program established by the previous administration, which remains in full gear.

“It is very damaging for the Muslim community relations with the wider society,” he asserts.

“One of things that are seen as a setback is his administration’s request from the Congress to give them the executive power for indefinite detentions without charges or trials. Even Bush did not legalize this.”

Hopeful

Imam Majid, also imam of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, wants Obama to back up his new language with actions.

“He reached out to the Muslim community but we were expecting more. We want to be engaged in the political system,” he told IOL.

“We want to be able to meet government officials and talk about issues from healthcare to Iraq and Afghanistan wars.”

Marayati, the president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, gives Obama the thumb-up for the change in message with Muslims, but not for his policies.

“There is no change in policy until we understand and respect the policy recommendations from Muslim Americans,” he insists.

“Right now there is none. We are living in separate worlds.”

The Dar Al-Hijrah imam says Muslims should not judge Obama by his first year performance.

“Obama’s promise of change is a wishful hopeful position statement that is yet to materialize.

“One year is not a full measure of what a president can do.”

Awad, CAIR executive director, hopes that the new year would see Obama deliver more of his promises and live up to the hopes the Muslim community has in him.

“President Obama promises change, others did not. There is a drastic changing tone from his predecessor. That makes us hopeful,” he asserts.

“However, we are looking and hoping for actions… otherwise it will be a growing disappointment among American Muslims if we do not see this change soon.”

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Virginia Man Had Weapons Cache, Grenade Launcher Stashed in N.J. Hotel Room

UPDATE: FBI finds no terrorism link to Virginia man with weapons cache in N.J. motel room

BRANCHBURG — A Virginia man who once spent eight years on the run from naval investigators was arrested in Somerset County early today with a trove of high-powered weapons, including a grenade-launcher and two assault rifles, along with maps of a U.S. military base and a civilian neighborhood, authorities said.

The federal government’s Joint Terrorism Task Force quickly joined the investigation into Lloyd R. Woodson, 43, who had been staying at a Branchburg motel since last week. Woodson, whose last known address was in Reston, Va., was wearing a bullet-proof vest and carrying one of the assault rifles — customized to shoot .50-caliber rounds — when police arrested him after a chase and a scuffle in a local trailer park.

Somerset County Prosecutor Wayne Forrest declined to speculate about Woodson’s intentions but remarked on the suspect’s arsenal, which included hundreds of rounds of ammunition, some of them hollow-point bullets, and a night-vision scope.

“In our experience, for private citizens to have this type of armament is quite unusual in Somerset County,” Forrest said. “If you’re over in Afghanistan, it wouldn’t be rare.”

Mixed in among Woodson’s belongings, the prosecutor said, was a Middle Eastern, red-and-white traditional headdress.

Forrest said his office reached out to the Joint Terrorism Task Force — a partnership of federal, state and local agencies administered by the Department of Justice — and that the agency had assigned an investigator from the FBI and another from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives.

Calls placed to the task force and to the FBI in Newark late this afternoon were not immediately returned.

Forrest, citing security risks, declined to identify the military base or the civilian community depicted on Woodson’s maps. He said the civilian neighborhood was not in New Jersey.

Investigators, meanwhile, were seeking to learn more about Woodson, who was charged with multiple weapons counts, resisting arrest and other charges. He remained at the Somerset County Jail last night.

A U.S. Navy spokesman, Lt. Justin Cole, said Woodson joined the service in February 1988 and served aboard the USS Orion, a submarine tender, before deserting in April 1989. It would be eight years before he was returned to Navy custody, Cole said. A month later, in August 1997, Woodson was discharged.

It remained unclear last night whether he was passing through New Jersey or settling in for a longer period. He took a room last week at the Red Mill Inn, on Route 22. Shortly before 4 a.m. today, he was in a Quick Chek convenience store on Route 28 when someone in the store called police, saying Woodson had been acting suspiciously.

Branchburg Patrolman Steven Cronce, the first officer to arrive, began to question Woodson and noted he was “extremely nervous,” the prosecutor said. Cronce also noticed a bulge in the front of Woodson’s green, military-style jacket, Forrest said.

When the officer continued to question Woodson, the suspect ran from the store and into the nearby Regency Trailer Park on Route 22, where officers found him. Forrest said Woodson fought with the officers, who subdued him with pepper spray. Under his coat was a ballistic vest with a reinforced steel plate and the customized assault rifle, whose ammunition is typically used in heavy weapons mounted on military vehicles.

They found a second assault rifle, a second vest, the grenade-launcher, ammunition, night scope, maps and a police scanner in Woodson’s room at the Red Mill Inn, where manager Hemant Desai said he’d seen no hint of trouble during the suspect’s stay.

On Saturday night, Desai said, he was working the evening shift and heard the sound of a CB or a radio coming from Woodson’s room. The lights were off, but Desai could see the faint glow of the television.

“I’m glad I didn’t open the door,” said Desai, who has a master key to all units.

He said his colleague had gone into Woodson’s room Sunday morning and didn’t see any weapons.

           — Hat tip: JH[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Cardinal Dreams of Coherent Catholic Politicians

(AGI) — Vatican City, 25 Jan. — President of the Italian Episcopal Conference Cardinal Bagnasco has encouraged “politically committed Catholics to always remain coherent to their faith and hopes that this season in time will contribute to a new generation of Italians and Catholics perceiving th public sphere as important. They can change everyone’s destinies and be prepared to give the best of their thoughts, their projects and their time.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


EU: Police Chief Found Dead on Eve of Davos Meeting

The Swiss police commander overseeing security for the World Economic Forum in Davos was found dead Tuesday, police said, adding that it appeared to be a suicide.

The announcement came as political and business leaders began arriving in the Swiss mountain resort for the start Wednesday of the annual blue-chip meeting.

“Dr. Markus Reinhardt, commander of the Graubuenden cantonal police… was found dead in his hotel room in the morning,” Swiss police said in a statement. “All indications point to a suicide.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


France: Parliamentary Mission Requests Full Veil Ban

(ANSAmed) — PARIS — The parliamentary mission, which has for months been involved in finding a position on the full veil (burka), has today announced its conclusions, recommending that France should solemnly declare itself in favour of the ban. In a report adopted today by the French members of Parliament, the contents of which have been disclosed by the French media in recent days, the mission asks the government to adopt a series of measures to ban the full veil from administration offices and public transport. At the end of 200 hearings, the parliamentary mission has requested a first parliamentary resolution that states how it is France in its entirety that is saying no to the full veil and asks that its use be banned in the Republics territory. The use of the full veil is just the tip of the iceberg. Scandalous practices are hidden behind the full veil, commented communist MP Andre Gerin, president of the parliamentary mission made up of MPs from all political parties. As well as the parliamentary resolution (parliaments solemn declaration, which is however not binding), the mission has presented a series of proposals. In particular, the adoption of a provision that bans people from hiding their faces in public services, such as hospitals, post offices, but also administrative offices and public transport. For the MPs involved in the mission, the burka and the niqab are in fact contrary to the values of the Republic. The report also underlines that there is no unanimity for the adoption of a general absolute law on the full veil in public. A law that would prohibit the use of the full veil also in the street. In particular, socialist members announced their abstention, pointing an accusatory finger at a debate polluted by the debate on national identity, in its turn launched last October by the Immigration Minister Eric Besson. President Nicolas Sarkozy has said on a number of occasions that the burka can have no place in France, a country that counts some 6 million Muslims. Meanwhile, there are less than 2,000 women who wear the full veil. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


France: Islamic Extremists Threaten Jewish-Friendly Imam

PARIS (JTA) — A group of Islamic extremists burst into a French mosque’s prayer service and threatened the presiding imam, known for his efforts to improve Muslim-Jewish ties.

“We are going to liquidate him, this imam of the Jews,” said some of the about 80 people who interrupted Monday’s services in Hassen Chalghoumi’s mosque north of Paris, in Drancy, according to Chalghoumi’s adviser and French news reports. There were about 200 worshipers in the mosque at the time.

The intruders also called Chalghoumi a “heathen” and “renegade.”

Chalghoumi has consistently spoken against Islamic extremism, and has worked actively with Muslim youth and Jewish leaders around France to condemn anti-Semitism.

In 2006, his home was vandalized following his public request that all Muslims respect the memory of the thousands of Jews sent to Nazi death camps from Drancy.

“They wanted to kill me,” said Chalghoumi on Radio Orient on Tuesday, adding that he would continue to work to improve Muslim-Jewish relations in France, and to speak out against extremism, because “it is our future that is at stake.”

Chalghoumi confirmed he would make an official complaint against the unidentified intruders.

France’s Jewish community leaders on Tuesday expressed their solidarity and support for Chalghoumi.

“We consider these events serious and worrisome,” said Sammy Ghozlan in a statement for the CCJ Jewish community organization based in the Paris region.

“Since the arrival of the imam from Drancy, a real harmony has reigned between the Jewish and Muslim communities in the department,” added the statement.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]


Italy: Bologna Mayor Steps Down Amid Scandal

Delbono accused of wooing secretary with public money

(ANSA) — Bologna, January 25 — Bologna Mayor Flavio Delbono said he would resign on Monday over allegations that he used public money to court his former secretary with weekend trips around Italy.

“I have made my decision with a clear conscience and out of a sense of responsibility to this city,” he said during a highly anticipated press conference at Bologna’s city hall.

During his address, Delbono said that he would decide “how and when” to hand in his resignation over the coming days, particularly in view of the city’s pending budget.

Elected mayor last April as a candidate for the center-left Democratic Party (PD), Delbono is under investigation on charges of fraud and embezzlement related to claims made by one-time personal assistant Cinzia Cracchi.

Cracchi, 46, says that she was involved with Delbono during his tenure as vice president of the Emilia-Romagna region between 2000-2008, during which he supposedly wined and dined her on the government’s tab.

After they separated, Cracchi was transferred to a less glamorous job with the public health service, an alleged source of resentment that led her to corroborate allegations of wrongdoing first raised by Delbono’s center-right opponent during the 2009 mayoral elections. Delbono denies breaking the law and insisted until this weekend that he would not step down even if he were charged.

But the mayor faced mounting pressure from within the party to leave office before charges were brought against him, and on Monday decided to call it quits.

Following his resignation, Cracchi said “he’s made his decision and I think it’s the right one for the city”.

Delbono’s resignation less than a year after taking office signals an embarrassing setback for the PD in one of its historic strongholds with less than two months to go before regional elections in March. Despite his resignation, however, it remains uncertain when voters in Bologna will be headed back to the polls, according to opposition city councillor Paolo Foschini, who said it would take a government decree to call new elections.

Otherwise, city administration would pass into the hands of an interim commission appointed by the government that would remain in office for more than a year until the next round of local elections.

This is the second time in three months a major local administrator with the PD would be forced out of office by a scandal in his personal life.

Last October, Lazio Region President Piero Marrazzo stepped down after a video of him with a transsexual prostitute emerged from an investigation into a gang of police who were using it to blackmail him.

His resignation put the PD in the difficult position of having to find a new candidate to run in his place, before they finally decided on former Radical Party heavyweight, Senator Emma Bonino.

With Delbono’s resignation, the PD could face a similar dilemma in Bologna with even less time to rally public support behind a replacement.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy: D’Alema Accepts Apulia Result. PD United Behind Vendola

(AGI) — Rome, 25 Jan. — Massimo D’Alema commented: “The big win by Nichi Vendola in the Apulia centre-left primary elections confirms the strong bond between the president of our Region and a large part of the centre-left electorate, including Partito Democratico voters.” D’Alema continued: “We acknowledge this result and the need, therefore, for the PD to give Vendola our loyal support.” .

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy: Bullet Mailed to Turin Mayor Over High-Speed Rail Link

Turin, 25 Jan. (AKI) — A bullet was mailed to Turin mayor Sergio Chiamparino for his support of a controversial Italy-to-France high-speed train which opponents say will damage the environment.

The 9-calibre bullet arrived on Monday at city hall two days after thousands of people gathered in the Italian town Susa, along the border with France, to protest the train line. Residents say the tunnels will harm the Susa Valley’s fragile ecosystem.

Italy and France in 2001 agreed to build the 15 billion euro- line from Turin to Lyon in central France, which will serve as a link in the European network and cut travel time between Milan and Paris from seven to four hours.

It’s not uncommon in Italy for bullets to be mailed to adversaries as threats. Police are investigating a package containing three bullets mailed earlier this month to a prominent anti-terrorism judge in the northern city of Milan.

“I’m completely calm and I won’t change the work I’m doing for the TAV,” Chiamparino said Monday, refering to the high-speed train. “

TAV supporter Chiamparino spoke Sunday at a demonstration in Turin to counter the one held the prior day.

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


Muslims Attack Silence Over Anti-Islamic Hostility

There is growing disenchantment at the government’s “lacklustre response” to rising anti-Islamic hostility, the Muslim Council of Britain has said.

The council wrote to the Home Secretary on the “growing problem” after a march by the English Defence League (EDL).

Some 1,500 EDL supporters protested against Islamic extremism in Stoke-on-Trent on Saturday.

The Home Office insisted the government “will challenge any views that reject or undermine our shared values”.

A spokesman added: “We do not encourage or advocate any voices of hatred or violence within our communities.”

‘Disturbing trend’

Three people were charged with racially or religiously aggravated disorder offences after the EDL’s rally.

Unite against Fascism staged a counter-demonstration. There were 17 arrests.

Six officers were hurt and five police vehicles were damaged when an EDL group broke through a police cordon.

Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), said there was a “growing disenchantment at the lacklustre response from our political leaders to speak out against anti-Muslim hatred” amongst many British Muslim communities.

His letter said: “Whether this exists in explicit form through the actions of far-right groups, or implicitly with hysterical headlines in our media, the policy response to any of these has been far from satisfactory.

“We ask you to take leadership in this matter, especially in a year where divisive elements may well flourish in the run-up to the next general election.”

The MCB accused political leaders of staying silent on the issue and said they had “ridden the wave of this disturbing trend” but failed to challenge hostility.

It hosted a meeting of Muslim groups at the weekend to discuss what it called “the growing trend of anti-Muslim hatred and violence”.

But a spokesman for the Department for Communities said the EDL did not represent the “vast majority” of people in the UK.

He added: “Government condemns any group that seeks to create distrust and division between communities.

“Government is working to address all forms of extremism, including violent far-right groups.”

           — Hat tip: 4symbols[Return to headlines]


Netherlands: Minister: Criminals Untouchable if Victims Fear Them

THE HAGUE, 26/01/10 — Two doctors who received death threats from Moroccan criminals must decide for themselves whether they report the perpetrators to the police. If they are too frightened to do so, Home Affairs Minister Guusje ter Horst says she cannot help them.

Two Moroccan criminals robbed a hotel last week. While fleeing from the police, they ran over a man with their scooter. When doctors tried to save his life in a hospital, they were visited by the perpetrators who threatened them and made their work impossible, so that the 50 year old man died.

The doctors at the St Radboud Medical Centre (UMC) in Nijmegen have to date not dared report the ‘incident’ to the police because they say they are afraid of the Moroccans. As a result, it is impossible to prosecute them for the threat, because a report is necessary for this.

A number of MPs have asked to allow the doctors to make an anonymous report so that they do not need to fear the perpetrators’ reprisals. But this is not possible, according to Ter Horst.

Ter Horst would find it “very bad” if the two doctors do not make a police report. “The perpetrators would then escape their punishment,” she confirmed. Although that would be “unacceptable,” no solution for the problem appears to be around, according to the Labour (PvdA) minister.

The hospital declined to comment. “We need to be left in peace for now,” according to a spokeswoman.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Niqab Ban in France: A Crisis of Identity?

A parliamentary commission in France is proposing the ban of the face-veil of Muslim women (Niqab or Burqa) in all public services facilities including transportation. Face-veiled women — under this ban — are supposed to be denied access to hospitals, buses, welfare offices and all other public facilities, according to the Financial Times.

Not only among politicians, but also the face-veil ban is encouraged by about 57% of the French population for several reasons according to a poll for Le Point magazine published last week . One of these reasons is a feeling that the face-veil does not belong to the French culture that supports gender equality and secularism. Another reasons is believed to be for security purposes that aim at identifying individuals in public places thus avoiding terrorist attempts. These reasons are not exclusive to the French context only. Several European governments might consider the ban for these same reasons…

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Shimon Peres Visits Berlin Amid Tight Security

It is a sign of the times that when the Israeli president makes a state visit these days, unprecedented security measures are put in place.

So ever since Shimon Peres arrived in the German capital on Monday, Berliners have had to put up with road closures and traffic jams in the centre of the city — these road-blocks will be in place until Thursday.

Berlin’s Taggespiegel daily newspaper said Shimon Peres “was the most endangered political leader in the world after the US president”.

On Tuesday morning, Grunewald train station in a leafy suburb of Berlin resembled a fortress as dozens of German and Israeli officers were deployed.

Across the city, 3,000 police officers are on duty.

Grunewald memorial

Mr Peres will be in Berlin for Holocaust Memorial Day on Wednesday, which this year marks the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.

On Tuesday, along with German President Horst Koehler and a delegation of Holocaust survivors and students, Mr Peres visited Grunewald station, which has become a poignant memorial to the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust.

At a wreath-laying ceremony at the infamous Track 17, Mr Peres paid tribute to the 55,000 Berliner Jews who were forced from their homes and deported to Nazi concentration camps during World War II.

It was from Grunewald station that thousands of Jews were sent to their deaths at the camps of Theresienstadt, Riga, and Lodz.

A plaque and a memorial mark the spot where Jews from Berlin were loaded onto trains from 1941 until 1945.

On Tuesday, a group of five Holocaust survivors lit candles at the site while Mr Peres and Mr Koehler lit the sixth candle, representing the six million Jews who were killed by the Nazis.

Pressure increasing

Later in the day, Mr Peres held talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel at her office in Berlin.

At a news conference, the German chancellor issued a pointed warning to Iran over its nuclear programme, saying Germany remained committed to a diplomatic solution, but Mrs Merkel said further sanctions would be considered as the next step.

“We have shown a lot of patience,” she said. “Time is running out.”

For his part, Shimon Peres said: “We need a clear and hard position against Iran.”

And he urged the international community to “dismantle the threat to world peace which is being articulated in the Iranian regime”.

With the Israeli president in town, the German government is ratcheting up the pressure on Tehran.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]


Stop the Trial of Geert Wilders

A Dutch court is forced to compare Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ and the Quran.

There is a way out. The district attorney’s office has complied with the appeals court’s order to prosecute Mr. Wilders. The trial has started. It should now ask the court for an acquittal. This preposterous trial needs to be stopped right now.

What started as a trial against Geert Wilders for alleged Islamophobia has nearly turned into its opposite: a historical case about the message of the Quran. The Amsterdam court trying the controversial Dutch politician is now preoccupied with the question of whether this book, sacred to more than a billion believers, can be compared to one of the most vile publications in the history of Western civilization—Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.” What could possibly go wrong?

In his writing and speeches, Mr. Wilders has found these two works to be similar in terms of their anti-Semitism and incitement to hatred, and has thus called for a publishing ban on the Quran similar to the one in place for “Mein Kampf.” This is what triggered Mr. Wilders’s prosecution for discriminatory and insulting remarks against Muslims and Islam. The Dutch politician, though, denies having insulted Muslims. He insists his focus is on radical Islam and the Quran, which he considers to be not only a religious text but also a political pamphlet encouraging Muslims to discriminate against and, if necessary, kill Jews, Christians, apostates and other unbelievers. That’s why Mr. Wilders claims the right to criticize and condemn Islam.

Following complaints brought by mostly Muslim and radical leftist activists, Amsterdam’s district attorney in 2008 at first found no legal basis for prosecuting Mr. Wilders. Prosecutors were forced to change course only after an activist appeals court last year ordered Mr. Wilders’s prosecution—basically condemning the politician before any trial could even begin and before Mr. Wilders had a chance to defend himself. The court’s unusual intervention illustrates the Dutch confusion about the conflict between two essential rights: the right to free speech and the right to protection from discrimination.

According to polls, Mr. Wilders’s Freedom Party, a libertarian-conservative movement with populist tendencies, is currently the most popular political party in the Netherlands…

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]


Sweden: Malmö: Muslim Antisemitism

One day two classmates came up to Jacob. One called him a ‘f*cking Jew’. The other said that he’ll be halal slaughtered.

Jacob is in his teens and looks a little shy. He talks about that day last year. The day he was threatened due to his origins.

“And and several friends were coming into school. A boy came over and said that I would be halal slaughtered.”

Jacob says the threat came without warning.

“It sounded strange and I tried not to worry.”

Somewhat later the boy came back with a friends. The friend told Jacob he was a f*cking Jew and shouldn’t talk crap.

He said that we said ‘f*cking Muslims’, but that was completely made up. Then he called out loudly ‘Jew’ several time when I went away.

When Jacob came home he told his mother about it. He took it up with a teacher and reported it to the police.

Jacob’s mother says the teacher dealt with it immediately , and that was very good.

The school Jacob goes to is quite small. When something happens, it usually comes up. But she has more children and is concerned about the threats in school.

“You never know when it gets serious. It has taken physical expression before.”…

[Return to headlines]


UK: Boy, 13, Who Raped Woman in Front of His Friends is Jailed for Just Three Years… Because He Said ‘Sorry’

A boy of 13 who overpowered a woman then raped her in front of his two friends will spend just three years locked away for his crimes.

Balal Khan — thought to be one of the youngest convicted rapists in Britain — targeted the 20-year-old as she walked home.

He subjected her to a severe beating then screamed at her ‘Do what I say or I’ll kill you’, before putting her through the ordeal of a terrifying sex attack.

Then he stole her bag and phone and even took a call from his victim’s boyfriend to whom he bragged about what he had done.

But after pleading guilty to charges of rape and robbery the teenager was sentenced to just three years because of his age — and because he said ‘sorry’.

A judge at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court lifted a restriction preventing the publication of Khan’s identity after hearing details of the horrifying attack.

The judge heard how Khan ran up behind his victim and grabbed her around the neck as she walked through a secluded area near Cobridge, in Stoke-on-Trent one evening in September last year.

He punched and kicked her as she lay on the ground before raping her.

Robert Price, prosecuting, said: ‘She started screaming and attempted to get to her feet.

‘He responded by punching her in the mouth and knocked her back on the ground.

‘He stood over her and kicked her to the side of her face. He started shouting at her and warned that if she struggled he would “kill” her.’

The court heard two boys, aged 10 and 11, who knew Khan, stood nearby and shouted at him to stop

Afterwards Khan, of Cobridge, Stoke-on-Trent, took the victim’s bag, containing an iPod and mobile phone.

He then answered a call from the victim’s boyfriend. When asked why he had the phone, Khan bragged about what had taken place.

He later sold the phone and iPod, but not before making a call to his parents’ home. The mobile’s call records led police straight to Khan’s address.

In a police interview he told officers he had tripped the victim and stolen her bag.

The court heard scientists later found Khan’s DNA on swabs taken from the victim.

Naomi Perry, mitigating, said he had shown remorse for what he had done.

He apologised after finally admitting his offence to police and also when he entered his plea at court.

‘We are dealing with a very immature young man,’ Miss Perry said.

‘He has been having anger management classes and he feels these have helped him.’

Judge Paul Glenn told Khan, now aged 14, that his offences were ‘grave’ and that an adult convicted of the same crimes would have been jailed for eight or nine years.

He added: ‘It was a terrifying experience for this young woman and she will be left psychologically scarred.’

By law, anyone under 18 years old faces a lesser sentence for rape than an adult, and for those aged 14 or under the term is reduced further.

Judge Glenn took the unusual step to lift a restriction preventing the publication of Khan’s name because of the grave nature of his Khan’s offences.

He added: ‘In this case I believe there is a legitimate public interest in naming this offender. It may prove to be a deterrent to others.’

Khan was sentenced to three years in a young offenders’ institution.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]


UK: Employer Told Not to Post Advert for ‘Reliable’ Workers Because it Discriminates Against ‘Unreliable’ Applicants

A job centre has been slammed for refusing to display an advert for a ‘reliable workers’ — because it discriminated against unreliable applicants.

Recruitment boss Nicole Mamo, 48, tried to post an advert for a £5.80-an-hour domestic cleaner on her local Jobcentre Plus website.

She ended the job offer by saying that any applicants for the post ‘must be very reliable and hard-working’.

But when Ms Mamo called the Jobcentre Plus in Thetford, Norfolk, the following day she was told that her advert would not be displayed.

A Jobcentre Plus worker claimed that the word ‘reliable’ meant they could be sued for discriminating against unreliable workers.

The mother-of-two from Hertfordshire today slammed the situation as ‘ridiculous’.

She said: ‘I placed the advert on the website and when I phoned up to check I was told it hadn’t been displayed in the job centre itself. Job Centre

The Job Centre in Thetford, Norfolk, said the advert discriminated against unreliable people

‘She said “oh we can’t put that advert on the job points”.

‘She said it was because they could have cases against them for discriminating against unreliable people.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Recruiting by Al-Qaida Affiliate Raises Alarms

Government suggests residents be ‘more aware’ of threat potential

A group linked to al-Qaida and banned in the United States is being allowed to continue recruiting young British Muslims in the United Kingdom — despite a recommendation by the British security and intelligence agency MI5 that the organization be proscribed.

No reason has been given why the group, al-Shabaab, has not been banned. Security Service chief Jonathan Evans is “concerned” that al-Shabaab continues to operate after Britain elevated the U.K. terror threat from “substantial” to “severe.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UKIP Threatens Tory Attempt to Oust Murphy at Election

The Tory bid to claim the scalp of Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy at the General Election faces a threat from the UK Independence Party (UKIP) standing in East Renfrewshire as a deliberate spoiling tactic.

UKIP’s Scottish Treasurer, Donald MacKay, says that unless Conservative candidate Richard Cooke gives a categorical public commitment to support a referendum to overturn the Lisbon Treaty, UKIP will stand in the constituency.

The Eurosceptic party has already made such a pledge in North Ayrshire where they say Tory candidate Philip Lardner meets their test and will not face such an intervention.

However, Mr Cooke has dismissed the threat, pointing out that Labour has pushed through the Lisbon Treaty to the point where it would be too late to hold a UK referendum. He also points out that he organised a local referendum in East Renfrewshire, which, on a turnout greater than the last European elections, showed almost 90% of voters opposed to the treaty, a view he said he would uphold if elected to Westminster.

He said: “The question UKIP have to ask themselves is would they rather have as MP here someone like me, who gave the people of East Renfrewshire a say on Europe by organising a local referendum, or Jim Murphy, who as Europe Minister was responsible for steering the Lisbon Treaty through Westminster?”

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]


‘We Are Not Really Germans’

New Study Looks at Challenges Faced by Germany’s Muslims

By Sheila Lalwani in Berlin

Many women in Germany who wear the headscarf say they experience barriers to employment, according to a new survey published by the Open Society Institute.

It’s no secret that many immigrants have a hard time in Germany. A new study has found that women wearing headscarves have a particularly hard time on the job market and a quarter of those with Turkish backgrounds face discrimination when looking for work.

It is early afternoon at Internet Treffpunkt, a convenience store in Kreuzberg, a neighborhood in Berlin that is home to many Turks and other minorities. Hedi Dashti, the store’s proprietor, is busy. One customer hands over her parcel to send through his DHL counter. Another customer buys cigarettes. The door swings open, ushering in the blustery winter wind, and a third customer waves hello.

Dashti — an immigrant from Iraq who fled to Germany 20 years ago with his family — speaks to customers in English, German and his mother tongue, Kurdish. He has adjusted to life in Germany and made German friends, while also maintaining his religious identity: Dashti is a practicing Muslim, abstains from eating pork and observes Friday prayers.

And despite occasionally feeling like an outsider, he really wishes he had German citizenship. “We are not really Germans, but Germany is our country,” Dashti said.

It is a dilemma shared by many of Germany’s approximately four million Muslims. And a new survey supports the widespread feeling of dislocation that many of them feel…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Balkans

Croatia: Average Family Cost of Living 905 Euros in December

(ANSAmed) — ZAGREB, JANUARY 25 — The minimum cost of living for a family of four in Croatia reached around 905 euros in December. According to data issued by the Croatian Independent Unions (NHS) and reported by the Italian Trade Commission in Zagreb, the average monthly salary in October was 723 euros, or 79.95% of the monthly requirement. Families who rent were also obliged to pay on average 250 euros more. The union’s figures exclude the cost of education, health, travel and sporting activities. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

African Cup: Algeria Celebrating Semi-Finals

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS — Algeria is celebrating the unexpected but long hoped-for win yesterday evening against the Ivory Coast (3-2) in the African Football Cup underway in Angola. The extra time win has qualified the Algerian national team for the semi-finals. Immediately after the final whistle had blown, thousands of fans poured into the streets of the capital and celebrated until dawn the latest win by the ‘fennec’ (‘desert foxes’). Today’s papers have all put the spotlight on football, with El Watan praising the “heroic victory”. “Greens rekindle flame. Heroic qualification for semi-finals”, reported Liberte’, while Algerie News, with “Phenomenal!” in block letters, stressed that “the foxes have managed to crush the Ivory Coast elephants”, which had been expected to win. Since its first qualification in 24 years for the World Cup 2010, the country has been swept up in “football fever”. On Thursday there will be the next match, that of the “greens” against either Cameroun or Egypt. If it were to face off against Egypt, tensions could resurface after those seen during the World Cup qualifying matches.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Algeria: Fight Against Fakes, Deal With Imperial Tobacco

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, JANUARY 25 — The Algerian customs and British company Imperial Tobacco signed an agreement to cooperate in the fight against counterfeiting and the illegal sale of cigarettes. This is the third agreement of its kind between the Algerian administration and major cigarette producers British American Tobacco and Philip Morris. The APS agency reported that the agreement commits the Algerian customs to guaranteeing border checks to prevent illegal imports, while the British company will train personnel in how to identify the original product. In the first ten months of 2009, 230 thousand cartons of cigarettes were seized in Algeria, mainly originating in China, Mauritania, Niger and several European countries. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


HRW: Another Year of Abuses in Egypt, Libya

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, JANUARY 25 — Egypt should revoke its “Draconian” emergency laws and put an end to abuses perpetrated by security forces, while Libya should free their many unjustly imprisoned detainees and reform laws that criminalise freedom of expression and association. These were the priorities indicated for 2010 by Human Rights Watch (HRW), which presented the parts of their World Report 2010 regarding the two countries in Cairo yesterday. Egyptian citizens suffer abuses, torture and arbitrary incarceration, underscored the report, and security forces “must understand that their criminal behaviour confirm the international image of Egypt as a police state”. Libyan security forces “continue to dominate the political scene in Libya amid a climate of fear”. Although the government has never made the number of people who are in prison without an arrest warrant or after trials in front of special state of emergency courts public, Egyptian organisations calculate that they amount to between 5,000 and 10,000. As for abuses and torture, HRW director for the Middle East Sarah Lieah Whitson said that “it is scary that this can occur without any criticism from the country’s top supporter, the U.S. government”. She also criticized the choice to not guarantee due process to the three individuals accused in the massacre of Christians in Nag Hammadi. The accused were referred to the State Security Court, without taking into account, she added, that these individuals were not the only people responsible for what occurred, that in the past those responsible for similar episodes were not punished and that the government has never started a “campaign for respect and tolerance of religious diversity” to combat “the incitement of hate” in schools, the media and religious institutions. HRW also called for the liberation of bloggers Kareem Amer and Hany Nazer, who have been in prison since 2006 and 2008 respectively. Egypt is responsible, she continued, “for contributing to the suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza” because they kept the Rafah border crossing closed. As for Libya, where in December HRW was able to present its first independent report on the topic, the organisation acknowledged that there were several positive developments in 2009, including a proposed reform to the penal code, a partial acknowledgement of the prison massacre of Abu Salim in 1996 and several signs of greater pluralism in the information sector thanks to the work of Seif Al Islam Gaddafi. Nevertheless, said Sarah Lieah Whitson, “there is still much work to do”. Among other things, on the explicit admission of the authorities, there are still 330 prisoners who have already served their sentence or have been absolved, without counting political prisoners, starting with Abdelnasse Al-Rabbasi and Jamal el Haji, who Libya should immediately release, she concluded. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Industry: Dainese Moves to Tunisia

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JANUARY 19 — Italian company Dainese, a world leader in the motorcycle equipment sector, will move all of its production lines to Tunisia, where it is already present with two factories, which employ about 500 people. This was reported today by Business News, which cited news in the Italian press. Among their most famous clients, Dainese currently outfits multiple world champion Valentino Rossi; in the past, the group also supplied other champions including Giacomo Agostini and Barry Sheene. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Terrorism: Algeria; US Security Policy Uses Double Standard

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, JANUARY 25 — Algeria has once again expressed “its refusal” of the new security measures introduced by the USA, following the failed terrorist attack at Christmas, which “correspond to a policy of double standard” in relation to several countries. Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci made the statement at the end of a meeting with American Under Secretary of State for the Middle East, Janet Sanderson, who arrived in Algiers yesterday. “These measures are part of a process which may change,” said Sanderson, “and they are not intended to target any country”, but have been introduced “to guarantee the safety not only of American citizens, but of everyone”. Algeria has already made a formal protest to Washington and described as “discriminatory” the new security measures, which include particularly strict controls at US airports for citizens arriving from 14 countries, including Algeria. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Tunisia: Ibla Institute to be Rebuilt After Destroyed by Fire

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JANUARY 25 — The Institute of Arab Literature (Ibla) in Tunis is to be rebuilt, after it was damaged in a fire on January 5 which claimed the life of 55-year old Giovan Battista Maffi, an Italian missionary member of the White Fathers. Father Jean Fontaine, Director of the Institute, made the announcement, explaining that the reconstruction had been made possible because “many Tunisians and foreigners responded to our cry for help”. Father Fontaine added that investigations launched by the Tunisian authorities to ascertain how the fire started had still not been concluded. Immediately after the accident the police said that Maffi had brought with him a can containing a yellow liquid, probably petrol, which was also found on his clothes, adding that according to several witnesses, the Italian monk was suffering from depression. The Ibla Centre for Literary and Anthropological research was founded in 1926 and is situated in an ancient Arab house in the Medina in Tunis. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Tunisia: Grand Mufti Calls Body Scanner Sacrilege

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JANUARY 25 — Body scanners to help prevent terrorist attacks are “a sacrilege and profanation in the eyes of all monotheistic religions and positivists,” according to the Mufti of Tunisia, Sheikh Usman Batikh, in a recent interview reported by weekly magazine Tunis Hebdo. According to Batikh, “body scanners will not stop the violence nor will they stop terrorism, and making travellers, both male and female, undergo these examinations, which reveal their private parts and violate their freedom, is unethical and immoral. It is sacrilege and a profanation in the eyes of all monotheistic religions and positivists. It is a despicable against humanity, which has been chosen and placed above all living things by God, since only humans are covered and dressed in order to be respectable and to be respected.” The Mufti also underscored that there are other methods to fight terrorism. Tunis Hebdo wrote that “numerous Arab countries have demonstrated their displeasure and lack of satisfaction regarding the new regulations issued by the U.S. against their fellow nationals residing abroad, in countries such as Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Lebanon.” (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


TV: Al Azhar Against Iranian Series on Prophet Joseph

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, JANUARY 25 — The Al Azhar ‘University’, the highest Sunni authority, declared to hope that the TV series that tells the story of the prophet Joseph be banned. The series is currently broadcast on satellite TV station Al Manar, associated with Lebanese movement Hezbollah. According to Al Azhar representative Raafat Othman, writes Al Masri Al Yom newspaper, the series contains several “historical errors” since it is based on the Shiite version of events and ignores Sunni historical sources. Furthermore, stressed Othman, “Al Azhar rejects the portrayal of prophets in films and theatrical representations”. “How can an actor play the role of a prophet in a film and a drunk in another? It would be an insult to our venerable prophets,” asked Othman. However, the TV series, broadcast in Egypt by Nilesat, “is an Iranian production,” said Shiite scholar Ahmed el Nafis, quoted by the newspaper, “and Al Azhar has nothing to do with this”. The control of contents broadcast on several satellite channels has recently become the focus of a debate in Egypt and other Arab countries. The Arab League is discussing a controversial project, supported by Egypt and Saudi Arabia, to establish a Arab satellite TV surveillance office, while it stands against a bill adopted by the American House of Representatives, which aims to classify satellite companies as ‘terrorists’ if they broadcast channels that are classified as such. The Arab League’s programme (criticized also be Reporters sans Frontieres, which fears its effects on censorship) reportedly is targeting Al Manar, Al Jazeera and Al Aqsa, which is associated with Hamas. Last November, satellites Nilesat and Arabsat (the former controlled by the Egyptian government, the latter by the Arab League and based in Riyadh) blacked out the Iranian Arabic-language TV network Al Alam, without any explanation or any apparent technical reasons. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


TV: Arab League Defends Project of Arab Media Commission

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, JANUARY 25 — The Arab League said today that what it meant from its project to set up an Arab media commission is to rebuild a joint Arab media in a way aims to promote freedom of expression, activate dialogue and develop the Arab media discourse, a well-placed source from the AL said Monday as reported by MENA. The remarks came in response to comments made by Reporters Sans Frontiers or Reporters Without Borders (RSF) which opposed the idea. “This proposal is disturbing, to say the least,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The danger is that this super-police could be used to censor all tv stations that criticize the region’s governments. It could eventually be turned into a formidable weapon against freedom of information.” But, the Arab League said the principles of the project target TV channels free from any hatred, terrorism or extremism incitements. It also aims at mutual understanding among cultures and supporting civilizations dialogue. “It was expected from an organization like the RSF, which is concerned with press and media freedom, to appreciate such project,” the source said. It added that the Arab League invites the RSF and other organizations concerned to read the project papers. The Arab League also refuted another accusation by the RSF which believed the proposal a response to a bill adopted last month by the US House of Representatives that could result in satellite operators themselves being branded as ‘terrorist entities’ if they contract their services to tv stations classified as ‘terrorist’ by the US Congress. “Being adopted since June 2008 while the congress bill came only in December 2009 put to rest the RSF claim,” the source said. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Hamas is to Blame for Israel’s Failure to Aid Gazans

After the earthquake in Haiti, some observers say Israel has traditionally been quick to dispatch aid to natural-disaster victims in distant lands while ignoring the suffering of people much closer to its borders, namely the Palestinians in Gaza, for whose welfare it bears responsibility.

Indeed, Gaza and Tel Aviv are separated by an hour’s drive. Gaza and Sderot are five minutes apart, but you have to fly 14 hours to reach Haiti. Yet the main culprit responsible for the Gazans’ condition is Hamas, which maliciously sacrifices the population’s welfare in the Strip because of its war on Israel. For this reason, the distance between the two disaster areas is irrelevant when discussing the justness of the aid mission.

First, let’s remember some facts before criticizing the relief mission for the victims in Haiti. Israel and the Israel Defense Forces gave Gazans the option to be treated at a field hospital near the Erez crossing (both during Operation Cast Lead and afterward). Who prevented this? That’s right, Hamas. The IDF transferred hundreds of thousands of tons of food and medical aid to Gaza even while Qassam rockets and Grad missiles were falling on schools and the hospital in Ashkelon. Hamas intercepted these deliveries. The reason that more missiles and explosives — rather than food and medicine — are smuggled through tunnels connecting Gaza and Egypt is, once again, Hamas. The group is also preventing the import of critical building materials to refurbish damaged infrastructure, oddly claiming that this is not one of its priorities.

Advertisement

This is all intended to perpetuate the ruin in Gaza. Also, Hamas prefers to invest in rearmament rather than civilian infrastructure.

Nonetheless, Israel must continue to aid the residents of Gaza with food and medicine. In parallel, it must continue to apply military force to defend Israeli citizens in every way against rockets fired by Hamas. It must hit every enemy without mercy.

As for rescue missions abroad, there are at least three reasons why it is prudent to send aid to any area hit by massive casualties from natural disasters and crimes by brutal gangs. The first is what distinguishes us from other nations: the Jewish culture and tradition that command us to preserve life, not just in Israel. The second reason is that we are the remnants of a nation that has suffered and been persecuted for more than 2,000 years while the world remained silent. The third reason is that Israel’s standing in world public opinion is not stellar, so aid missions and the like can help here.

Aid to disaster victims around the world portrays a different Israel than the one depicted in the media — the Israel that systematically oppresses nations and kills innocent civilians. The aid arriving from tiny Israel also strengthens the Jewish community worldwide. The presence of the flag, an officer, a soldier and a doctor from Israel sends a message to other nations that if we can, so can you. After the collapse of Israel’s public-relations apparatus, such humanitarian deeds in disaster zones remain the only means to buttress Israel’s standing in the eyes of world public opinion.

Those who continue to criticize Israel for its alleged unwillingness to extend aid to the people of Gaza need to take into account the possibility that they are supporting Hamas’ baseless accusations and its modus operandi — shooting at schools and hospitals, starving the local Palestinians, and using hospitals as bunkers during war. This, of course, is not an academic conclusion. It’s food for thought.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]


Israel Presses: Goldstone Report is Anti-Semitic

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, JANUARY 25 — Today Israeli Minister of Information Yuli Edelstein made another proposal to accuse the report on last year’s conflict in the Gaza Strip, which was highly critical against Israel, written on behalf of the UN by a commission led by South African judge of Jewish origin Richard Goldstone as anti-Semitic. “The Goldstone Report is an example of anti-Semitism,” thundered the minister during a public encounter held before the International Holocaust Remembrance Day , stating that since the end of World War II “anti-Semitism no longer focuses on Jews per se, but on Israelites and Israel.” Similar opinions have been expressed in recent months on the UN document — which criticises Hamas, the radical Islamic Palestinian movement in power in Gaza since 2007, but also accused Israel of war crimes for the consequences of operation Cast Lead (December 2008-January 2009)- also by other ministers. While yesterday Premier Benyamin Netanyahu said that the Goldstone Report probably encouraged an increase in the number of anti-Semitic episodes recorded in the world in 2009. Regarding the content of the text, Israel is preparing to present a counter-report by its armed forces to the UN, which according to speculation contests the assertions by Goldstone’s team with documentary and photographic evidence. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Al-Qaeda is Losing. Prepare for a Daring Hit

The latest supposed message from Osama bin Laden underlines his weakness, not his strength

by Richard Kemp

‘God willing, our raids on you will continue,” said Osama bin Laden — or someone purporting to be him — in a message broadcast on al-Jazeera over the weekend. The blunt message to “Obama from Osama” is intended to reaffirm that, despite Barack Obama’s overtures to the Islamic world, he and his country remain infidels, every bit as evil as they were under George W. Bush.

But ignore the bloodcurdling rhetoric. That bin Laden was reduced to claiming that the failed Christmas Day attempt to blow up an airliner was comparable to 9/11 is a sign of al-Qaeda’s current parlous state. The new recording also revealed another weakness: al-Qaeda fears that it is losing the battle for hearts and minds.

President Obama and the Western world were not his true audience. His broadcast was aimed at Muslims — hence its focus on the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, a cause that has never been important to the leader of al-Qaeda. Bin Laden knows well the powerful emotion inspired around the globe by the Palestinians’ plight. By feigning support for them he hopes to regain some of al-Qaeda’s dramatically diminished popularity.

Former sympathisers have become disillusioned by the death toll inflicted by bin Laden’s terrorists in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan; they have killed many more Muslims than non-Muslims since 9/11. The Combating Terrorism Centre in the US concludes that only 15 per cent of the 3,010 victims killed by al-Qaeda between 2004 and 2008 were Westerners.

But the loss of support is not bin Laden’s only concern: al-Qaeda’s leadership has been decapitated. After it was ejected from Afghanistan, key elements of the leadership fled to Iraq, Iran and Pakistan…

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]


Diana West: A Soldier Speaks Out on Iraq, From Iraq

Today, I am posting an extraordinary letter from a soldier currently stationed in Iraq, a sometime penpal of mine to whom I sent my three-part series on the aftermath of the surge to elicit his opinion. Knowing how thoughtful he is, I expected a substantive response. Given his time constraints alone, I did not expect an essay of this scope and I decided, with his permission, to present it here. It is unlike any commentary I have read from Iraq; it is both coolly reasoned and deeply passionate, and certain to challenge and disturb readers across the political spectrum: PC-believing liberals, Iraq-as-success-believing conservatives, Islam-as-a-religion-of-peaceniks of both Left and Right.

So be it.

He writes:

I apologize for the delay in my response. I have been putting in long days … lately and I hadn’t had the time to put the thought and effort into writing this until now.

Your three-part column series wonderfully analyzes Iraq and reaches the correct strategic assessment that no one in power wants to acknowledge.

I have many things that I want to say but I do not wish to waste your time and I therefore put an executive summary at the beginning of this e-mail so you can skip the expanded version if you wish…


           — Hat tip: Diana West[Return to headlines]


Environment: Death Traps on the Dead Sea as Pits Increase

(ANSAmed) — AMMAN, JANUARY 25 — Death traps are lurking around the edge of the southern shore of the Dead Sea, where land cultivation is a major source of income to impoverished residents. In Ghour al Haditha, more potholes are appearing as a result of declining levels of water in the Dead Sea. Officials said there are nearly 800 of them in various shapes and sizes, compared to 1,200 on the Israeli side, but the devastating effect is the same to both countries. The green landscape that nestles around the shores of the barren sea is punctured by massive cavities in the earth that rendered the area inaccessible. Parts of farms were swallowed by the 40 by 50 meter cavities, even animals and people. Ezat — a local farmer who works near these “ticking bombs”, as locals would prefer to call it — said residents are paying the price of what people in the North do. “Around 100 km north, the water coming to the Dead Sea is siphoned off for agriculture and industrial use, and here we pay the price of that,” he said. Two of his cousins were forced to evacuate their homes after the foundation cracked. “This is a no go zone. We have to be careful when walking here, otherwise it could mean death,” said the frail looking man. Environmentalists blame excessive use of water resources by Israel, Jordan, Syria and even Lebanon. Sultan Abdul Rahman, vice president of Friends of the Earth Environment society said nature is taking its revenge against people. “Potholes are created because the water coming from surrounding mountains to compensate for lost water in the Dead Sea is dissolving salt underneath and creating massive cavity,” he explained. Abdul Rahman said more potholes are appearing as water levels of the Dead Sea drops by more than a meter every year. The phenomena is having a profound impact on the livelihood of residents, he said. “It’s affecting people their land property, we can see homes here are damaged. We can see that land near us will be affected and other batch,” he added accusing Israel, which seized control of most water resources at the Jordan River, the main artery feeding the Dead Sea. He also did not spare Jordan, Syria and Lebanon for playing a role in drying the Dead Sea. Officials at the ministry of Water said the Dead-Red canal is the ideal solution to solve the kingdom’s problems. The massive inflow of water would replenish the Dead Sea, estimated to have lost nearly one third of its original size over the past four decades. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Europe News Banned in the United Arab Emirates

By Henrik R Clausen

For a while now, EuropeNews has been banned in the United Arab Emirates. This is unfortunate, for also citizens of the Emirates deserve access to a broad overview of relevant news. Below are some details on the situation, as well as some technical tips.

This is what you will get if trying to read EuropeNews from an address in the United Arab Emirates: …

[see article for screen cap]

           — Hat tip: Henrik[Return to headlines]


Intelligence From Tehran Elevates Concern in the West

The Secret Nuclear Dossier

By Dieter Bednarz, Erich Follath and Holger Stark

The West has long been suspicous of Iran’s nuclear program. SPIEGEL has obtained new documents on secret tests and leadership structures that call into question Tehran’s claims to be exclusively interested in the peaceful use of the technology.

It was probably the last attempt to defuse the nuclear dispute with Tehran without having to turn to dramatic new sanctions or military action. The plan, devised at the White House in October, had Russian and Chinese support and came with the seal of approval of the US president. It was clearly a Barack Obama operation.

Under the plan, Iran would send a large share of its low enriched uranium abroad, all at once, for a period of one year, receiving internationally monitored quantities of nuclear fuel elements in return. It was a deal that provided benefits for all sides. The Iranians would have enough material for what they claim is their civilian nuclear program, as well as for scientific experiments, and the world could be assured that Tehran would not be left with enough fissile material for its secret domestic uranium enrichment program — and for what the West assumes is the building of a nuclear bomb…

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Lebanon: EU Mine-Clearing Operations,18 Mln Spent Since 2006

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, JANUARY 25 — The European Union has granted 18 million euros to fund mine clearing in Lebanon since 2006. Mines and cluster bombs are the deadly inheritance left by the conflict in the country over recent decades, and the EU — says Enpi on its website (www.enpi-info.eu) — has contributed towards developing the clearing work and strengthening the competence of the local authorities in planning and coordination of mine-clearing operations. In particular, technical support from the EU has contributed towards improving the skills of the Lebanese Mine Action Center (LMAC), which deals in mine-clearing, through training and practical exercises, technical consultancies and the supply of the necessary equipment. The latest EU funding, part of its neighbourhood policy, amounts to 7 million euros, and will help to continue clearance of the southern part of the country, and from there to the rest of the territory. In Southern Lebanon support from the EU has allowed the clearing of around 5.2 million square metres of land, but there is further work to do before farming and other economic activities can resume in the area. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


UAE: Abu Dhabi: Women’s Underground Parking Spaces

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, JANUARY 25 — The Abu Dhabi Transport Councillor’s Office brought in an initiative to reserve specific places for women to park in underground parking lots, in order to minimise the risk of women alone running into harassment or unwanted advances in poorly-lit, isolated locations. The measure was adopted on the suggestion of women who brought the matter to the attention of the councillor’s office, reported a statement quoted by The National. Every parking lot will set aside between 15 and 25 parking spaces for women, who will be able to decide whether to use them or not. The administrative authorities of the emirate’s capital also ensured that the reserved parking spaces will not have any effect on the number of parking spaces assigned to the disabled. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


UAE: HRW Says Human Rights Situation Unsatisfactory

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, JANUARY 25 — The Human Rights Watch (HRW) report on human rights in the country “is not impartial” and contains “factual errors”, said the United Arab Emirates in response to criticism in the HRW report presented yesterday in Dubai, which draws a negative picture of the confederation of seven emirates — especially as concerns foreign workers. “The report contains serious gaps and ignores the positive initiatives undertaken by the UAE both in the sphere of labour and in that of human trafficking,” said the statement released by the Foreign Affairs Ministry and reported by WAM press agency. The report stressed the government’s “positive attitude” in facilitating HRW’s work, but criticized it for not “adhering to international standards”. Despite “undeniable improvements”, the human rights situation is still “unsatisfactory” with several points on which the UAE government should work, said Joe Stroke, deputy director of HRW for the Middle East and Africa. Among the latter is the need to guarantee greater freedom of expression and association for human rights organisations; the creation of an independent commission to investigate cases of torture and abuse by authorities and the ratification of the UN Convention against torture; the creation of a commission to monitor and report on the condition of foreign workers and the activation of a mechanism prohibiting enterprises to make use of employment agencies which charge workers “taxes” in exchange for work permits. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Indonesia Mulls Tearing Down Obama Statue

JAKARTA — Indonesian authorities said Monday they are considering a petition to tear down a statue of US President Barack Obama as a boy, only a month after the bronze was unveiled in Jakarta.

The statue of “Little Barry” — as Obama was known when he lived in the capital in the late 1960s — stands in central Jakarta’s Menteng Park, a short walk from the US president’s former elementary school.

Critics say the site should have been used to honour an Indonesian and 55,000 people have joined a page on social networking website Facebook calling for the statue to be removed.

“We’ve been discussing for the past two weeks what to do with the statue… whether to take it down, move it elsewhere or retain it. We’re finding the best solution,” Jakarta parks agency official Dwi Bintarto said.

Obama, who was born in Hawaii, lived for four years as a child in Jakarta from 1967 after his divorced mother married an Indonesian.

The bronze was designed by Indonesian artists and depicts the boy Obama dressed in shorts and a T-shirt with a butterfly perched on his hand.

“The statue is of Obama as a child, not as the US president. His relatives and friends who erected it said it’s meant to motivate children to study hard and dream big,” Bintarto said.

Members of the “Take Down the Barack Obama Statue in Menteng Park” group on Facebook say Obama has done nothing for Indonesia.

“Barack Obama has yet to make a significant contribution to the Indonesian nation. We could say Obama only ate and s (expletive) in Menteng. He spent his subsequent days living as an American,” the web page says.

“For the dignity of a sovereign nation, Barack Obama’s monument in Menteng Park must be removed immediately.”

The childhood connection and his knowledge of a few words of Indonesian made Obama popular in the mainly Muslim country of 234 million people.

Obama said in November he would visit Indonesia this year along with First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]


Malaysian Men Jailed for Ritual Killing of Parents

Two Malaysian cousins have been jailed for 10 years each for beating the parents of one of them to death during a ritual to expel evil spirits.

The men used brooms and motorcycle helmets to attack the couple in 2008, aiming to cure them of their smoking habit and other problems.

They were acting on a third man’s advice, who said he had magical powers and could raise the dead.

The court ruled he had been mentally unsound at the time of the killings.

The court in Kuala Lumpur heard how Muhammad Fauzi Abdul Razak, now 23, and Muhammad Nizam Mohd Ibrahim, 21, beat the latter’s parents at a family gathering in October 2008.

They had said they were acting on the advice of Muhammad Fauzi’s brother, Muhammad Ilyas Abdul Razak, who testified in court that he had been given powers by the leader of a banned cult, enabling him to cure illnesses and raise the dead.

The parents were expected to be revived later on but had been too severely beaten. Several other family members, including a child, were also injured.

High Court judicial commissioner Azman Abdullah said the convicted men had been duped by the superstitious beliefs of Muhammad Ilyas and had “failed to use their reasonable judgement”, Malaysia’s Star newspaper reported.

He said they had acted in “ignorance and blind faith” in carrying out the attack, which he described as “beyond imagination”.

The two men were both sentenced to 10 years for each of the murders, with the sentences to run concurrently.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]


Pakistan: Rapist Spared, Victim Lashed

Eight months after being raped, a 16-year-old at Khargor of Kasba upazila in Brahmanbaria had to receive 101 lashes as “punishment”.

A village arbitration found her guilty and issued the 101 lashes fatwa (religious edict) but amazingly left alleged rapist Enamul Mia, 20, untouched.

The arbitration also fined the victim’s father Tk 1,000 and issued another fatwa that her family would be forced into isolation if he failed to pay up.

Village matbar (local leader) Delwar Hossain alias Ullashi executed the durra (lashes) on January 17.

Family sources said Enamul Mia of Gabbari used to eve-tease the girl on her way to Sathgram Advocate Haroon-or-Rashid High School. He raped her April last year. Fearing the shame, the girl did not disclose the incident.

The girl’s family had married her off to a man of neighbouring Ghatiara village but after a month into the marriage medical test discovered she was seven months pregnant.

She was divorced and she had to live at her father’s place after an abortion. Following her return, a group of so-called matbars led by Manik Mia declared that her family is to be isolated until punished.

On January 17, the influential group arranged the arbitration at the yard of the victim.

At one stage of the inhuman torture, the girl collapsed and fainted. She regained her sense after two hours.

Ullashi presided over the arbitration while Wahid Mia, Basu Mia, Manik Mia, Shahjahan Mia, Dulal Mia, Maulana Md Kawser Mia, Imam of Gupinathpur Baro Mosque, Maulana Md Ishaque Mia, Imam of Khargor Jame Mosque, and a few others played key roles.

“Enamul has spoiled my life. I want justice,” said the girl as tears rolled down from her eyes.

Talking to The Daily Star, neighbours spoke in favour of the girl and blamed Enamul. They did not dare to say anything against the so-called village arbitration.

The girl’s father said members of the influential group are now keeping a watch on them so that they could not move or seek legal action.

Wahid Mia said they executed the 101 lashes on the girl following the religious edict and they did not call Enamul during the arbitration as he belongs to another village.

A team of human rights activists led by advocate Mili Chowdhury visited the spot.

Their organisation will help the victim file separate cases against the culprits, Mili said.

Kasba Police Station Officer-in-Charge (OC) Md Jahirul Islam Khan said they would take appropriate action if the victim files a case in this regard.

Three women were whipped as a result of fatwas in the district during the last six months.

           — Hat tip: Henrik[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Australian Google Row Over Missing Aborigine Flag

Google has been criticised in Australia after it removed an Aboriginal flag from a competition-winning drawing appearing on its homepage.

Australia Forever, by 11-year-old Jessica Du, had originally featured the flag and some of the country’s animals.

But Google said they had to remove the flag after its designer, Harold Thomas, refused them permission to use it.

Mr Thomas said Google refused to pay a fair price but that Aboriginal rights groups can use the image for free.

Jessica Du entered her drawing in the Doodle 4 Google competition in 2009, saying it was a call for peace and for the protection of Australia’s unique wildlife, Australian media reported.

The prize was to see her image on the Google homepage in Australia on 26 January — Australia Day — following the search engine’s tradition of illustrating its name to mark special days.

The central ‘o’ of Google’s name was originally formed by the bright yellow sun in the centre of the flag, which is officially recognised as the flag of indigenous Australians.

But the image which appeared online on Australia Day showed only the sun.

“You may have noticed that the Google Doodle on the homepage today is slightly different to Jessie’s original entry,” Google spokeswoman Katharina Friedrich wrote on Google’s official blog for Australia.

She said it used imagery that Google “weren’t able to publish on the homepage”.

Mr Thomas — an Aboriginal elder — holds the copyright for the flag but allows groups supporting indigenous rights and issues to use it without charge, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

He said he charged for commercial use of the image but that Google had failed to negotiate with him properly.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Doomed Airliner Made ‘Fast and Strange Turn’

The pilot of an Ethiopian Airlines jet did not fly in the direction recommended by the control tower before the plane crashed into the sea, Lebanon’s transportation minister said Tuesday.

Transportation Minister Ghazi Aridi said the Beirut tower “asked him to correct, but then he did a very fast and strange turn.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Mohamed Ali Harrath, Islamic TV Chief, Is Held Over Terror Claims

The head of the Islam Channel, Britain’s most popular Muslim television station, has been arrested in South Africa and faces deportation to Tunisia over terrorism allegations.

The Times disclosed more than a year ago that Mohamed Ali Harrath, a Scotland Yard adviser against Islamic extremism, was wanted by Interpol because of his alleged activities in his homeland. His arrest on Sunday after a flight from London is being blamed by supporters on a security clampdown by the South African authorities in the run-up to this summer’s World Cup.

Harrath, 46, is the force behind the Islam Channel, which is watched by 59 per cent of British Muslims and beamed by satellite to 132 countries. He has been fêted by politicians, with the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, the minister Shahid Malik and the Tory frontbencher Dominic Grieve attending his annual festival. The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, gave him a platform to address thousands in Trafalgar Square in September at the official taxpayer-funded event to mark the end of Ramadan. Harrath, who has a heart condition, collapsed during his arrest and is being treated at Eugene Marais hospital in Pretoria, where he is under police guard. The broadcaster has been convicted in absentia of numerous criminal and terrorism-related offences by Tunisian courts and sentenced to 56 years in prison.

The Islam Channel last night accused Tunisia of using Interpol to harass and intimidate Harrath.

Before fleeing his homeland, he co-founded the Tunisian Islamic Front, which Tunis accused of seeking to establish a Muslim state by armed revolutionary violence. Harrath insists that the organisation was a non-violent political party set up to oppose what he regarded as Tunisia’s one-party rule.

At Tunisia’s request, he has been on an Interpol Red Notice, its highest form of alert, since 1992 but was allowed into Britain in 1995 and accepted as a refugee.

He flew into Oliver Tambo airport in Johannesburg on Sunday for what the Islam Channel described as a business trip. He was arrested when his documents were scanned. Harrath will either be returned to Britain or sent to Tunisia, which has an extradition treaty with Pretoria. An emergency High Court application on behalf of the Islam Channel prevented him being returned straight to Tunisia. A full court hearing will be held tomorrow. Tunisia will have to give assurances over his treatment before he is returned.

South Africa takes requests from fellow African states seriously and has detained Sudanese and Rwandan officials wanted for alleged human rights violations. Security at South African airports is extremely tight before the World Cup amid persistent fears of terrorist attacks.

Iqbal Jassat, chairman for the Media Review Network, an Islamic rights organisation which has been advising the TV channel, said: “We have concerns that the authorities in South Africa are on a heightened state of alert because of the hype around possible terror attacks during the World Cup. We fear that could cause the victimisation of respectable people.”

The British High Commission confirmed Harrath’s arrest and said it was watching the situation closely.

The Quilliam Foundation, a British anti-extremist think-tank, has accused the Islam Channel of allowing speakers to promote intolerant and bigoted intepretations of their faith.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Haiti: Italy Disavows Envoy’s Criticism

‘Earthquake relief effort pathetic,’ says Bertolaso

(ANSA) — Washington DC, January 25 — The Italian government on Monday distanced itself from remarks by its special envoy to Haiti, Civil Protection chief Guido Bertolaso, who described the international earthquake relief effort there as “pathetic”.

On a state visit to Washington to meet with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini underlined that “the Italian government does not stand by that assessment”.

Frattini granted that “Bertolaso has made some important recommendations to the Haitian government regarding sheltering orphans and conducting evacuations”. But he stressed that Bertolaso was not speaking for the Italian government when he slammed the international aid machine at work in Haiti, which is largely being directed by the United States.

During an Italian TV broadcast from Port-au-Prince on Sunday, Bertolaso was asked to describe the situation there two weeks after the Caribbean nation was devastated by an earthquake estimated to have claimed as many as 350,000 lives.

The civil protection chief, who headed up the relief effort after the April 2009 earthquake in L’Aquila, responded with a broadside against the lack of central coordination among the various relief agencies present.

“A lot of them are more interested in parading in front of the cameras than rolling up their sleeves and going to work to find survivors,” he said.

“It’s like the bonfire of the vanities”. Bertolaso also said the US had done a poor job of spearheading the relief effort, sending too many troops and not enough people trained in disaster management.

“What’s really needed here is a person like (President Barack) Obama to come and take charge of the emergency”. “Instead, they sent in a bunch of starlets,” he said in an apparent reference to a handful of celebrities, such as actor Sean Penn, who have made their way to the island over the past week.

Regarding United Nations envoy to Haiti, former US president Bill Clinton, Bertolaso said he “ought to be running this operation from headquarters instead of having himself filmed while he hands out bottles of water”.

But Frattini said the Italian civil protection chief’s statements were “technical and not political” observations intended to help “improve the situation on the ground”.

“It’s not our policy to criticize the work of other governments,” said Frattini.

“We’ve said all along that there’s an inadequate level of coordination, but that doesn’t amount to criticism of the United States”.

“It would be a mistake to interpret those comments as directed at the US’s role in Haiti or any of the international organizations at work there,” he concluded.

Haiti will be the main topic of discussion during Frattini’s meeting with the US secretary of state on Monday in addition to the NATO mission in Afghanistan and western relations with Iran.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Immigration

Denmark: Minister Tightens Immigration Laws

The Minister for Integration wants to make it even more difficult to earn a residence permit.

Foreigners should no longer be assured permanent residence in Denmark after a certain number of years, according to a report in Jyllands-Posten.

According to the report, foreigners will only be able to earn permanent residence if they collect points through language or social courses or by working. At the same time, residence can be refused if applicants have received transfer payments for a period up to their application.

The new plan is part of proposals that Integration Minister Birthe Rønn Hornbech is to present to immigration spokesmen of the governmental Liberal and Conservative parties and which she expects to pass through Parliament with the support of the Danish People’s Party.

“There will be a carrot for the foreigners who do the right thing. They will be given permanent residence permits quicker. But there will be a stick for the foreigners who don’t want to make the right effort,” Hornbech is reported as saying.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Many Foreign-Born in Sweden Lack Work: Study

More than two out of three foreign-born residents who have been in Sweden for two years or less don’t have work, new statistics show.

The figures come from a recent report carried out by Statistics Sweden on behalf of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise (Svenskt Näringsliv) and the white collar union Saco, according to Sveriges Radio (SR).

The report also shows that immigrants are more likely to have work the longer they are in Sweden but that their country of birth plays less of a role in their ability to find work.

Among foreign-born residents who have lived in Sweden more than 20 years, roughly seven out of ten have some form of employment. The figure compares with an employment rate of roughly eight out of ten among Swedish-born residents, according to SR.

The radio station also reports that half of all residents born outside of Sweden have a job which fits with their education, compared to a figure of nearly 80 percent for workers born in Sweden.

Mahmood Albazi is one of those who has given up hope of finding a job in Sweden. Instead, he is setting his sights on launching his own business.

“I’m too old to look for work now; I’m 57 years old…who is going to employ a 57-year-old?” he told SR.

Christer Ågren, deputy head of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, believes that the labour market in Sweden is designed for those who already have jobs. He wants therefore “lower the threshold” in Swedish job security laws.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Spain: Torrejon Revokes Residency Restrictions

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, JANUARY 25 — Following the Barcelona district of Vic, the city of Torrejon de Ardoz in Madrid is taking a step back: it is to revoke restrictions on illegal immigrants registering with the city which came into force in October 2008. Mayor Pedro Rollan confirmed today in a press conference that the town council would respect the ruling of the State Bar, which considers these restrictions contrary to the Law on Foreigners. But he was keen to point out that Torrejon de Ardoz “is not a xenophobic town”. Immigration in the city has risen above 20% of the total population in seven years. In October 2008 the city Administration introduced a requirement that residency would only be granted for immigrants without families in homes of at least 20 square metres, and a non-tourist entry visa on the claimant’s passport. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


UN Sending 6000 More Somalis to US This Year

Can you believe it? We are in the worst recession since the Great Depression; refugee agencies are scrambling everywhere to take care of the refugees they have. Just yesterday the Department of State released the news that they are doubling the per head payment (from taxpayers) for each refugee entering the US.

On top of that, in many cities around the world, the Somali diaspora is producing jihadist fighters. And, we are going to take 6000 Somalis from one refugee camp in Uganda? Hat tip: Janet.

Why this particular group? They aren’t getting along with others in the camp! But, don’t worry they are being screened for Al-Qaeda connections.

The story from New Vision a Uganda web publication is entitled, “USA takes in 6000 Somali from Uganda” is as follows…

           — Hat tip: RRW[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

‘Gay’ Plan for Bathrooms Called ‘Moral Insanity’

‘Activists demanding private mental delusions be accepted as public policy’

A Christian organization in Maine is asking its constituents to protest a state proposal that would give boys who call themselves girls full access to girls’ restrooms, locker rooms and cheerleading squads.

The Christian Civic League of Maine said in a statement the “latest demand by the homosexual lobby is quite intolerable, having sunk to the level of an impossible absurdity.”

“Gay activists are now demanding that young girls believe and publicly acknowledge that a biological boy in their locker room is, in fact, a girl,” the group said

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

General

Eco-Racketeering, A Business With a Future

The arrest of an environmental activist who demanded money to withdraw his opposition to real estate projects has lifted the veil on a new type of blackmail, which writer Ivan Brezina maintains pales in comparison with the stock and trade of major public figures in the environmental movement.

A few days before Christmas, Lubomír Studnicka, a member of a conservation group in the town of Litomerice in the Czech Republic was arrested for blackmail. According to police, the self-proclaimed “environmentalist” employed a simple method to extract money from his victims. Studnicka filed court actions against large private building projects, alleging that they were damaging to the natural environment — in one instance, successfully torpedoing a plan to build a new bridge over the Elbe, and delaying the completion of work on the D8 Prague to Litomerice motorway in another. In exchange for dropping proceedings, he demanded “sponsorship donations,” and investors worried about the scheduling of their projects were often tempted to pay him off. But his scheme began to unravel when a group of entrepreneurs lost patience with his demands, and decided to trap him. The group pretended to agree to the terms of a deal, and then informed police shortly after they had handed Studnicka a suitcase filled with counterfeit notes. It was the first case of environmental racketeering to make headlines in the Czech Republic, but the practice it revealed is not new among environmental NGOs, who take advantage of the fact that the law grants “professional project killers” the means to exert considerable pressure on investors.

Studnicka’s case is only the tip of the iceberg. How many other similar cases have simply not been reported? The South-Korean carmaker Hyundai wanted to set up a factory in the Nošovice industry park in eastern Czech Republic. A group of activists moved to block the project with a court action claiming that it was a threat to the environment, and retained the services of a legal firm specializing “in environmental law,” with a mastery of all the different strategies necessary to hold off any construction work for several years. Naturally, the Koreans were worried that the factory would be delayed, but a solution was at hand — they only had to approach the activists with an offer “to come to an agreement between reasonable people.” The upshot of this process was that the Koreans happily handed over 750,000 euros to finance a “fund for citizen initiatives” to be managed by the activists. The official statement explained that this money would be used for “projects to raise awareness of environmental and conservation issues.”

A myriad of lucrative links

Whereas common or garden environmental blackmailers need to be discreet with their demands for cash, larger global players can be much more vocal. And small fish, like local investors, are really of no interest to big-time environmental blackmailers, who know that if they successfully target the entire human race, the rewards will be counted in billions and not millions of euros. Their method of operation does not depend on threats, but aims to engender a universal sense of guilt. Take for example, the evangelical author of “An Inconvenient Truth,” Al Gore. Mr. Gore piously recommends that we adopt “carbon neutral lifestyles” to forestall the effects global warming, and he does not say so for the good of his health. One of the most successful beneficiaries of the “crusade against carbon” is the London company Generation Investment Management (GIM). And who founded GIM? The very same former vice-president of the United States: Al Gore.

Here is another example. In late December, around the time that Lubomír Studnicka was arrested, the British broadsheet, The Daily Telegraph published a detailed account of the business interests of Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, chairman of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Environmentalists and the media like to present the IPCC as “the world’s most important group of independent climate experts,” but it turns out that Pachauri has no qualifications in climate science — he is in fact a railway engineer. However, he has more than made up for this lack by establishing a myriad of lucrative links with what has come to be known as “the climate protection industry” — working as a consultant for numerous “green” companies and investment funds specializing in sustainable technologies. At the same time, he also serves on the advisory board of the Chicago Climate Exchange, which organizes the trading of carbon credits…

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]


Islam and Islamism: Are Hijackers Extremists, “Proper Muslims, “ or Contenders in a Civil War?

by Barry Rubin

One of the most controversial issues today is the relationship of the political doctrine of Islamism (including revolutionary activity and terrorism) and the religion of Islam.

Given the desire of too many people to distort this discussion with slogans, insults, and name-calling, it is a very dangerous one. Yet the importance of the issue requires it be analyzed.

Let’s begin by defining three positions. The dominant, establishment view in the West is that Islam is a religion of peace and has nothing to do with violence, hatred of non-Muslims, mistreatment of women, terrorism, or ambition for political power. Anything bad is said to be a distortion of Islam’s “real” message. As a result, the image offered is one of extremists—who are in effect heretics—trying to “hijack” Islam.

A second view is that Islam is an innately extremist hate-filled religion and that this cannot change because such materials are built into the sacred texts.

This is what those in the first group like to call “Islamophobic.” That is, by the way, a badly chosen term since it implies these people are afraid of Islam, a fear that may be attributed to xenophobic bigotry but in reality comes largely from the violent activities and extremist statements made by (some, many) Muslims. The choice of the phrase reveals its weakness and even dishonesty. A more accurate word for unreasoning haters would be “anti-Islamic.”

One weakness of this second position is to freeze Islam into a single stance, whereas it is easy to show that historically there have been many different ways Islam has functioned regarding the state and society. The “religion of peace” advocates believe they can merely find one era when Islam has been tolerant, and this not only proves the “Islamophobes” wrong but somehow—illogically—shows that Islam is always tolerant and moderate.

But there is a third standpoint, which the “religion of peace” advocates often like to slander by putting it into the “Islamophobic” category for daring to say anything critical at all. This is to say that Islam, like all religions, must be interpreted by its adherents, and they never all agree on how to do so…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin[Return to headlines]

2 comments:

Sean O'Brian said...

From Open Europe:

"An article in the WSJ looks at waning EU global influence and the rise of the 'G2': China and the US. It quotes Rajeev Kumar, Director of the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, arguing that the EU has "one silver bullet" that could boost its external influence, and that would be Turkish accession to the EU. WSJ"

This reminds me of the intoxicating power of The Ring. Turkish accession would completely ruin Europe, it would be a disaster, kaput. Yet if there is one thing above all others that will impel the European Government to do it, it is just what the open-borders rag W$J is now dangling in front of them: influence, prestige, power.

crisismaven said...

I have just added a Reference List to my economics blog with economic data series, history, bibliographies etc. for students & researchers.