Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20100511

Financial Crisis
»A Recovery Only Washington Could Love
»Financial “Reform” Bill Will Guarantee More Stealing the Fruits of Our Labor
»Greece: Athens Asks EU-IMF for First 20 Bln
»Gulf Banks Recovering, Solid and Capitalised
»IMF: Greek GDP -2% in 2010, Spain and Cyprus Down
»Spain: Central Bank and IMF Call for Labour Market Reform
»Spain: Signs of Recovery in 2010
»USA: Strategic Defaults Up in March; Professor Says Risk of Contagion Remains
»After Times Square: The Media’s Refusal to Discuss Islamism in Terrorism Surpasses Satire
»Chief Justice Roberts: Kagan Asked Court to ‘Embrace Theory of First Amendment That Would Allow Censorship Not Only of Radio and Television Broadcasts, But Pamphlets and Posters’
»Kagan: Some Speech Can be ‘Disappeared’
»Kagan Flunks Her Own Test
»NCIS Tells CAIR Anti-Islam Film Not OK for Training
»Obama’s Supreme Pick Has Love Affair With Socialism
»Saving the Republic?
Europe and the EU
»Agca: Portugal Delays Visit to Date to be Confirmed
»EU: Agreement Reached ‘Thanks to’ France, Italy and Germany
»France to Target Super-Rich Muslim Women Who Wear Burkas to Prove Ban is Not Biased Against the Poor
»France: Advertising Income for Press on the Rise
»Ireland: Minister to Root Out ‘Pockets’ Of Racism in Society
»Italian Salaries Among Lowest in OECD
»Italy: Anti-Mafia Police Target Joint Sicilian-Neapolitan Mafia ‘Enterprise’
»Muslim Organisations in Belgium Slam Ban on Burqa
»Netherlands: One in Five Muslims Supports Wilders
»Norway: World’s Poshest Prison? Cells With En-Suite Bathrooms and No Window Bars (Plus £1m Banksy-Style Art)
»Norway/Sweden: When the Locals Become a Minority
»PD: Italy: D’Alema May Face Action Over ‘Insult’
»Pope Says Abuse Scandals ‘Terrifying’
»Shia Muslim Cleric: Ireland Under the Attack of Al-Qaeda Extremists
»Spain: Garzon Requests Transfer to ICC in the Hague
»Spain: Justice Ministry Official for Veil Sacked
»Sweden: Lars Vilks Attacked During Lecture
»UK: Acid Attacker Jailed for 30 Years
»UK: Brown Set to Quit as Prime Minister as Cameron Prepares to Move in to Number Ten
»UK: Muslim Aid Charity Under Investigation
»UK: Motorist Returns to Find Yellow Lines Painted Either Side of Her Car — and a Parking Ticket
»UK: New Plan for Town Mosque is Unveiled
»UK: Police Investigate Burnley Council Vote Irregularities
»UK: Police Investigate Alleged Votes Fraud
»Unlike the Greeks, The Irish Are Facing Up to Their Plight
»When Religion and Culture Part Ways
»Bosnia: Humanitarian Convoys ‘Smuggled Weapons’
»Serbia: Over 15,000 People Receive Social Support
North Africa
»Algeria: Trains; Traffic Blocked by Third Day of Strike
»EU-Egypt: Cairo Refuses Observers for 2011 Elections
»Maghreb: Gannouchi, Integration to Fight Unemployment
»Tunisia: Local Elections, Over 90% Seats to Ben Ali’s Party
Israel and the Palestinians
»Accepting Israel as the Jewish State
»East Jerusalem: Barak, Israel Considers US Request
»Israel to Keep Nuclear ‘Ambiguity’
»Stakelbeck: CBN Interview With Ambassador Michael Oren
Middle East
»Hollywood Newspeak: Islamists Good, Americans Bad
»Iran: Day of Mourning in Iranian Kurdistan for the Execution of Five Political Prisoners
»Israel Says N. Korea Shipping WMDs to Syria
»Local Wrestlers to be Trained as Gladiators in South Turkey
»New Air Refueling System Gives Israel Capacity for Strike on Iran
»No Hotel for Nudists in Southern Turkey
South Asia
»India: Bride Must Convert to Marry Muslim: Allahabad HC
Far East
»Vietnam: Abuse and Violence Becoming New Ideals for Young Vietnamese
Latin America
»Chile: Pakistani Man Arrested at US Embassy
»Chile Holds Pakistani Over Explosive at U.S. Embassy
»12 Irregulars Stopped at Patras
»Italy: Immigrant-Crime Link Criticized
»UN Rights Experts Criticize Arizona Law
Culture Wars
»The Moynihan Report and Ongoing Family Breakdown

Financial Crisis

A Recovery Only Washington Could Love

The White House may tout Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reports showing their $862 billion stimulus created jobs, but the CBO has also admitted their computer simulation did not take any actual new real world data into account, says Conn Carroll, the assistant director for the Heritage Foundation’s Strategic Communications.

To the contrary, an independent study of real world stimulus facts found:

*No statistical correlation between unemployment and how the $862 billion was spent.

*That Democratic districts received one-and-a-half times as many awards as Republican ones.

*An average cost of $286,000 was awarded per job created.

And what kind of jobs were created, asks Carroll. According to Gallup the federal government is hiring at a significantly faster pace than the private sector. And data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) confirms that governments are increasing public sector pay at far faster rates than the private sector. None of this should be a surprise. President Obama specifically designed his stimulus to preserve government union jobs.

What happens when big government and the big businesses best capitalized to influence it are the main drivers of economic recovery? The recovery is slower and smaller than it otherwise would have been, says Carroll:

A recent study by the Kaufman Foundation found that small businesses have led America out of its last seven recessions, generating about two of every three new jobs during a recovery.

But under this Obama recovery, not only are government jobs growing faster than private sector jobs, but jobs are rebounding faster at large employers than small businesses.

There are far more types of small businesses engaged in more kinds of economic activity than Congress can devise special policy to help. This sort of one-off, micro managing, tinkering policy may gain a headline and support, but it will not help small businesses broadly. The more Washington taxes and regulates, the harder it is for small businesses to innovate and force big businesses to be more productive and create new jobs. The more the Obama agenda is implemented, the slower our recovery will be, says Carroll.

[Return to headlines]

Financial “Reform” Bill Will Guarantee More Stealing the Fruits of Our Labor

The Congress has been busy. Why, haven’t you seen all these stern looking professional politicians from both sides on cable news networks jockey for their “solution” to our dire economic situation?

It’s all a load of highest grade manure.

What we’re seeing, again, is simply more of the same. Massaging the cancer instead of cutting it out. Most members of the U.S. Congress have zero understanding of Art. 1, Sec. 8 of the U.S. Constitution. Most members of the U.S. Congress have zero understanding of our monetary system. Most members of Congress are gutless cowards. They refuse to take on the establishment elites who own the banking cartels world wide — with the exception of Rep. Ron Paul.

Many members of the House and unlawfully seated U.S. Senate[1] [a] will not be returning in January, i.e., crooks like Christopher Dodd [D-CT] and David Obey [D-WI]. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain by voting for the interests of the world banking cartels and against we the people — and they will.

The so-called reform underway — even if the thieves in Congress actually knew the meaning of reform — is not the whole solution, it’s merely another political tool to keep the money masters in control of our financial system. Instead of going for the jugular, Congress is getting ready to con us again with more rules, more regulations, more useless government jobs and lots of political posturing for the upcoming primaries and pretend election in November.

There are a few proposals that will and should be implemented, i.e., repealing the disastrous Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, signed in November 1999, by Marxist Bill Clinton, which repealed part of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933. You might compare that stupidity with pistons in a race car engine getting ready to rev up; the crash would take some time.

[Return to headlines]

Greece: Athens Asks EU-IMF for First 20 Bln

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, MAY 11 — The Greek Government intends to ask today the EU and the IMF for the first payment worth 20 billion euros in the context of the aid package agreed in recent days. A source from the Greek Finance Ministry said that today a letter will be sent to the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF to ask for the activation of the aid mechanism. The payment of this first tranche, which provides for 14.5 billion from the EU and 5.5 billion from the IMF, “must be immediate, probably by the end of the day” added the source. A debenture loan expires on May 19 for which the Greek state is set to pay 9 billion euros.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Gulf Banks Recovering, Solid and Capitalised

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, MAY 11 — The two most important banking systems in the Middle East — the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia — are solid and robustly capitalised, and the Greek-European crisis has not had any negative impact on them. Rather, they are recovering sharply, like the other systems in the other four countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) — Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman — from the impasse that slowed loans and profits in 2009 following the financial collapses that devastated the world’s financial centres. This was reiterated by the economic authorities of the two monarchies and confirmed by various financial analyses published in recent weeks. “There are not any financial ties, nor are there strong economic relations between Greece and the countries of the GCC,” said UAE Central Bank governor Sultan Nasser Al Suwaidi, while Jadwa Investment in Saudi Arabia specified that, despite the fact that Greece is an important commercial partner of the kingdom, Greece’s financial problems and their possible “infection” of other European countries would only have a marginal impact on Riyadh. A more theoretical than economic repercussion could nonetheless be dealt to the creation of the single currency in the Gulf, clarified Jadwa in its report. The project, which in the process of being realised despite Oman backing out and the UAE’s withdrawal over a disagreement over the choice of the headquarters of the central bank, will take after the model of the European single currency and is counting on the technical support of the European Central Bank. After sharp growth for loans and profits in the six years from 2001 to 2008, the 63 national banks of the gulf suffered a sharp halt, mainly concerning loan activity, which plummeted by 71%, and regarding profits, which suffered an overall decline to 14.39 billion dollars from 15.74 in 2008, amounting to a drop of 8%. The global crisis, falling oil prices and declining economic sectors contributed to the freezing of the credit market, which, according to analysts, started to loosen up in the final months of 2009. Trends are positive in the first three months of 2010, which could be confirmed and compounded in the next quarter. Adding to the results of financial analysts, is the data reported by employment agencies specialised in the banking sector, which show a substantial recovery in the number of people being hired “mainly,” says Ian Giulianotti, the associate director of Nadia recruitment, “among investment banks with DIFC,” the international financial district of Dubai, the heart of the Gulf’s financial activity. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

IMF: Greek GDP -2% in 2010, Spain and Cyprus Down

(ANSAmed) — NEW YORK, MAY 11 — The Greek GDP in 2010 will contract by 2%, whilst inflation will stabilise at 1.9%. Greece’s current account deficit (compared to the GDP) will result this year as equal to 9.7%, whilst the deficit-GDP ratio will reach 8.7% after last year’s figure of 12.9%. This the prediction made by the International Monetary Fund in its Regional Economic Outlook for Europe, in which the IMF predicts a contraction in the Spanish GDP of 0.4% this year. The Irish and Cypriot economies are also set to contract by 1.5% and 0.7% respectively. The Portuguese GDP will rise by 0.3%. As regards public finances, the Spanish current account deficit will stabilise at -5.3% whilst the deficit-GDP ratio will be 10.4%. The Portuguese deficit-GDP ratio will be 12.2% in 2010.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain: Central Bank and IMF Call for Labour Market Reform

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MAY 11 — A reform of the labour market in Spain would facilitate fiscal consolidation. This is what the governor of the Bank of Spain, Miguel Angel Fernandez Ordonez, has said today in a speech at the seminar on the experiences of the labour markets, organised in Madrid by the Central Bank and the IMF. Ordonez, quoted by news agencies, underlined that “a large part that must not be overlooked of the spectacular increase in the Spanish deficit” recorded in the last two years is linked, directly or indirectly, to the trends of the labour market. According to the governor, avoiding the increase in unemployment (which has exceeded 20% of the active population in Spain) “becoming structural, would substantially facilitate the process of fiscal consolidation.” Spending for unemployment subsidies, according to the Bank of Spain, represented 3% of GDP in 2009, for which Ordonez said “it is evident that part of the problem of the deficit derives from unemployment.” For the chief economist of the IMF, Olivier Blanchard, who spoke at the seminar via videoconferencing, Spain should reform the labour market to reduce unemployment and stimulate growth. “If labour reforms are adopted,” he observed, “unemployment will gradually drop and growth in production will increase.” According to the latest plan to contain the deficit agreed by the socialist government with Brussels, Spain is set to reduce its deficit from 11.2% to 9.3% of GDP in 2010 and to 6.5% in 2011, to focus on the goal of 3% in 2013. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain: Signs of Recovery in 2010

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MAY 10 — Figures relative to January and February off this year suggest some signs of recovery for Spain’s foreign trade. Exports, with a value of over 26 billion euros, have performed most dynamically (an 11% rise on the same period of 2009). Growth in imports, however, has remained below 1%, reaching 33.9 billion euros. A statement from the Italian Trade Commission in Madrid shows the strong increase in Spanish sales to France (+14.6%), Germany (+5.2%), Portugal (+6.1%), Italy (+17.1%) and the United Kingdom (16.8%).(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

USA: Strategic Defaults Up in March; Professor Says Risk of Contagion Remains

New data indicates that strategic defaults are on the rise, and industry observers told SNL that the risk of contagion, which could spell disaster for a housing market struggling to recover, remains.

In March, 31% of all foreclosures were perceived to be strategic, up from 22% during the year-ago month, according to the Chicago Booth/Kellogg School Financial Trust Index published April 30.

But perhaps more concerning was the index’s insights into borrower attitudes. The study showed that the likelihood of homeowners walking away from a mortgage increases 23% when they learn that a neighbor with negative equity received a partial loan for forgiveness.

“People are slowly coping with the fact that the value of their house has dropped for good,” Luigi Zingales, a professor of finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and co-author of the index, told SNL on May 4.

Zingales added that homeowners could rationalize one or two sales at deeply discounted prices as exceptions. “By the time that 20 houses sold at this price, then you start saying, ‘Maybe I have to evaluate my expectations.’ And once that expectation sinks in, then the temptation to walk away is much higher.”

Indeed, at least one loan servicer has already noticed a shift in payment behavior. John Child, a managing partner at First Equity Loan Services, told SNL that strategic defaults are on the rise in the distressed loan portfolio his company services.

“The people we’re running into lately seem to be a little bit more informed,” Child said. “Still, the average person isn’t, and for the most part, they want to co-operate with us. But we’re definitely seeing more and more people that seem to try and game it a little bit, try and ride out foreclosure and strategically not pay.”

Several other factors are pushing homeowners toward nonpayment. Johannes Moenius, an associate professor of economics at the University of Redlands in foreclosure-devastated Southern California, told SNL that he thinks the number of strategic defaults “will only increase,” especially among higher-end homes.

Moenius said several factors portend a double-dip in prices, which would encourage strategic defaults: the expiration of the homebuyer tax credit and other government subsidies; rising interest rates that increase borrowing costs and reduce demand; and an imminent wave of foreclosures from impending Alt-A and option-ARM resets.

Further, Moenius said homeowners’ attitudes about paying on an underwater mortgage have shifted because of psychological factors, explaining the apparent paradox that both home prices and strategic defaults have been on the rise.

“There are other forces that are almost not economic. … Once it becomes fashionable, just go for it,” he said. “Let it be the banks’ problem. ‘Oh, Goldman Sachs is really a bad guy, well why should I pay my mortgage and be worse off when they can do all these troublesome things?’“

Also, Moenius said there is a certain “safety in the masses” such that if homeowners see thousands of fellow borrowers walk away, the consequences are diffused as banks cannot pursue deficiencies against so many borrowers and the standard of a “good” credit score is lowered.

Indeed, the Chicago/Northwestern index showed that homeowners are starting to view deficiency judgments as less likely, with survey respondents pegging the probability of a lender pursuing a deficiency judgment at 54% in March, down from 56% in December 2009. 74% of homeowners in the survey considered it “very important” to maintain good credit. As the costs associated with foreclosure diminish, the tendency to walk away goes up. Therefore, Zingales said Congress’ decision three years ago not to tax mortgage deficiencies might have increased foreclosures.

If banks pursued more deficiency judgments, it would “clearly reduce the incentives to walk away,” he said. “And any attempt to make it less painful might be counterproductive. … I don’t imagine that it would be doable politically to reverse [the tax waiver on mortgage deficiencies], to say, ‘If you walk away, then you are taxable.’ But that would clearly go toward reducing that risk.”

With strategic defaults on the rise and homeowners more likely to walk away if they see a neighbor do so, it appears strategic defaults might lose its stigma and create the catastrophe Zingales warned of nearly a year ago.

However, home prices have increased over that time. As a result, Zingales is not nearly as certain of a leap in strategic defaults as Moenius. Zingales pointed to the fact that the portion of buyers who expect home prices to decline over the next 12 months has declined since December 2008.

Ultimately, Zingales said the future of strategic defaults is inextricably tied to the direction of home prices.

“The big question that remains to be determined is what is going to happen in the next six months because a lot of the initiatives that have been taken to support the housing market, from the tax credit to the purchase of mortgage bonds by the [Federal Reserve], is terminated,” Zingales said. “So the risk of a further slide in home prices is real. I don’t want to say that it’s necessarily likely, but it’s real. It’s a real possibility.”

           — Hat tip: REP[Return to headlines]


After Times Square: The Media’s Refusal to Discuss Islamism in Terrorism Surpasses Satire

The lead article in the May 7 Washington Post, “Suspect Made ‘Gradual’ Shift.” The headline on the jump page is: “Radicalization of Times Square suspect was gradual, officials say.”

Gradual shift to what? What kind of radicalization?

As you examine the headline you can spot an incredibly clear contradiction. The subhead of the article is “Religion and Anger.” But which religion and how did it figure in the story? The issue is never—well, almost never—raised in the long article.

We read that he is angry at the United States, that this increased during several trips to Pakistan, and that he trained with the Pakistani Taliban.

What kind of organization might that be? Liberal or conservative? Communist or Fascist? What are the beliefs and aims one would have to feel in order to train with the Taliban? Not a hint.

Oh yes, an official is quoted as saying “a combination of religion and anger.” But that’s it. No hint of what religion, no mention that religion and anger combined have been responsible for more than 10,000 revolutionary Islamist (oops!) terrorist attacks including September 11, Madrid trains, London subway, Arkansas recruiter, Empire State Building, LA airport (still classified as non-terrorist though a Muslim gunmen killed two people at the El Al counter), Fort Hood, Detroit airplane bombing, and many more.

“A U.S. official said Shahzad was associated with at least one individual who was in contact with Anwar al-Aulaqi, the American-born cleric in Yemen, who has been tied to the suspect in the attempted Christmas bombing…as well as the man charged in last year’s fatal shootings at Fort Hood, Tex.”

           — Hat tip: Winds of Jihad[Return to headlines]

Chief Justice Roberts: Kagan Asked Court to ‘Embrace Theory of First Amendment That Would Allow Censorship Not Only of Radio and Television Broadcasts, But Pamphlets and Posters’

( — Solicitor General Elena Kagan, nominated Monday to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Barack Obama, told that court in September that Congress could constitutionally prohibit corporations from engaging in political speech such as publishing pamphlets that advocate the election or defeat of a candidate for federal office.

Kagan’s argument that the government could prohibit political speech by corporations was rejected by a 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in that case, and in a scathing concurrence Chief Justice John Roberts took direct aim at Kagan’s argument that the government could ban political pamphlets.

“The Government urges us in this case to uphold a direct prohibition on political speech. It asks us to embrace a theory of the First Amendment that would allow censorship not only of television and radio broadcasts, but of pamphlets, posters, the Internet, and virtually any other medium that corporations and unions might find useful in expressing their views on matters of public concern,” wrote Roberts. “Its theory, if accepted, would empower the Government to prohibit newspapers from running editorials or opinion pieces supporting or opposing candidates for office, so long as the newspapers were owned by corporations—as the major ones are. First Amendment rights could be confined to individuals, subverting the vibrant public discourse that is at the foundation of our democracy.”

Justice Kennedy described the law Kagan had defended as an illegitimate attempt to use “censorship to control thought.”

“When Government seeks to use its full power, including the criminal law, to command where a person may get his or her information or what distrusted source he or she may not hear, it uses censorship to control thought,” Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion. “This is unlawful. The First Amendment confirms the freedom to think for ourselves.”

In March 2009, six months before Kagan told the court that the government could bar corporations from publishing political pamphlets, her deputy solicitor general, Malcolm Stewart, had gone further, telling the court the Constitution authorized Congress to prohibit corporations from publishing full-length books that included passages advocating the election or defeat of a candidate for federal office…

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Kagan: Some Speech Can be ‘Disappeared’

Wanted ‘societal costs’ counted against 1st Amendment rights

NEW YORK — President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan, argued certain forms of speech that promote “racial or gender inequality” could be “disappeared.”

In her few academic papers, Kagan evidences strong beliefs for court intervention in speech, going so far as to posit First Amendment speech should be weighed against “societal costs.”

In her 1993 article “Regulation of Hate Speech and Pornography After R.A.V,” for the University of Chicago Law Review, Kagan writes:

“I take it as a given that we live in a society marred by racial and gender inequality, that certain forms of speech perpetuate and promote this inequality, and that the uncoerced disappearance of such speech would be cause for great elation.”

[Return to headlines]

Kagan Flunks Her Own Test

Elena Kagan, President Obama’s nominee to succeed John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court, published some thoughts on the judicial confirmation process in 1995…Kagan asserted that prospective jurists should have demonstrated a talent for judging:

““It is an embarrassment that the President and Senate do not always insist, as a threshold requirement, that a nominee’s previous accomplishments evidence an ability not merely to handle but to master the ‘craft’ aspects of being a judge.”

[Thus] Obama’s decision to nominate Kagan to the nation’s highest bench flunks her own test. If confirmed, Kagan would become the first justice in 38 years to join the Supreme Court without judicial experience…

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NCIS Tells CAIR Anti-Islam Film Not OK for Training

WASHINGTON, May 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A prominent national Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization today said the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) has acknowledged that an anti-Islam film should not have been used in training offered to security personnel by that military law enforcement agency.

“We welcome NCIS’s efforts to ensure that our nation’s military and security personnel receive training that is free of political or religious agendas and does not provide inaccurate or biased information,” said Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

In March, Awad contacted NCIS Director Mark D. Clookie after receiving a report that a three-day NCIS surveillance detection course at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., included the viewing of a propagandistic anti-Islam film.

In a May 7 letter to Awad, Director Clookie wrote in part:

“[W]e have reviewed whether the video, ‘Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West’ should have been shown to the class. This video is not part of the curriculum for this course and should not have been shown. Please know that NCIS has no tolerance for derogatory comments about any religious, racial, ethnic, or cultural group. . .I am very much aware that respect for religious and cultural values is critically important. NCIS prides itself on its own diversity and on its respect for the religious and cultural values of others.”

Those interviewed in “Obsession” constitute a veritable who’s who of Muslim-bashers. Speakers include Walid Shoebat, who once told a Missouri newspaper that he sees “many parallels between the Antichrist and Islam” and “Islam is not the religion of God — Islam is the devil.” (Springfield News-Leader, 9/24/07)

Others interviewed in the film include Nonie Darwish, a self-styled “former Moslem” who wrote that “Islam is cruel, anti-women, anti-religious freedom and anti-personal freedom in general,” and Daniel Pipes, who warned a Jewish convention of the “true dangers” posed by “the presence, and increased stature, and affluence, and enfranchisement of American Muslims.” (American Jewish Congress, 10/21/2001)

Another “Obsession” interviewee, Brigitte Gabriel, told the Australian Jewish News: “Every practising Muslim is a radical Muslim.” She also claimed that “Islamo-fascism is a politically-correct word. .’s the vehicle for Islam. . .Islam is the problem.”

When asked whether Americans should “resist Muslims who want to seek political office in this nation,” Gabriel said:

“Absolutely. If a Muslim who has — who is — a practicing Muslim who believes the word of the Koran to be the word of Allah, who abides by Islam, who goes to mosque and prays every Friday, who prays five times a day — this practicing Muslim, who believes in the teachings of the Koran, cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America.”

According to one NCIS trainee, the film and the course promoted the theme that “Islam is synonymous with Nazism.” The briefing presenter also allegedly used the term “Hajji” as a pejorative in reference to Muslims and stated repeatedly that “Islam is not a religion of peace.”

In his letter to CAIR, Director Clookie wrote that “both instructors strongly deny making such comments.”

CAIR has expressed concern that military, security and law enforcement personnel nationwide may be receiving agenda-driven Islamophobic training. Last week, CAIR’s Washington state chapter announced that a webinar on security technology for law enforcement personnel co-sponsored by Security Solutions International (SSI) was canceled after two of the presenters withdrew from the event due to community concerns about SSI’s anti-Islam bias.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Obama’s Supreme Pick Has Love Affair With Socialism

You won’t believe how Kagan felt about radicals in America

NEW YORK — In her undergraduate thesis at Princeton, President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan, lamented the decline of socialism in the country as “sad” for those who still hope to “change America.”

Titled “To the Final Conflict: Socialism in New York City, 1900-1933,” Kagan opined that infighting caused the decline of the early socialist movement. She asked why the “greatness” of socialism was not reemerging as a major political force.

“In our own times, a coherent socialist movement is nowhere to be found in the United States. Americans are more likely to speak of a golden past than of a golden future, of capitalism’s glories than of socialism’s greatness,” wrote Kagan, Obama’s solicitor general.

“Why, in a society by no means perfect, has a radical party never attained the status of a major political force? Why, in particular, did the socialist movement never become an alternative to the nation’s established parties?” she asked.

[Return to headlines]

Saving the Republic?

Keene’s American Conservative Union has several Council for National Policy (CNP) members on its board including Morton Blackwell, Tom Delay, Grover Norquist and Alan Gottlieb.

As for Grover Norquist, (CNP) he is a founder and board member of the Islamic Institute (which operated out of his offices), apparently laundered money for his buddy Jack Abramoff, and at Islamic Institute (which operated out of Abramoff’s offices), he employed Khalid Saffuri, a funder of “the martyrs,” and he adopted HAMAS homicide bombers’ families and funded them. Norquist and Islamic Institute accepted cash from several “charities” which laundered money that ended up in the hands of Al-Qaeda. He got a top Bush white house job for another Muslim whose father twice brought Al-Qaeda top honchos into the country to raise money for Al-Qaeda. Norquist married a Muslim woman in 2005 and is purported to now have converted to Islam himself. He is also a board member of NRA. For part two click below.

Keene and Norquist’s views on national security and immigration enforcement are certainly not conservative. Both support the Obama/Democrat majority approach of civilian trials for terrorists, and Norquist supports open borders and dangerous pandering to Muslim grievances. Neither of these men represent conservative ideals as far as I’m concerned.

[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Agca: Portugal Delays Visit to Date to be Confirmed

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, MAY 11 — For reasons “of security and foreign policy”, the Lisbon government has said no, for now at least, to the visit to Fatima that Mehmet Ali Agca had asked to make in the next few days with Pope Benedict XVI. The news was announced — with a letter sent to ANSA — by the lawyer Aci Ali Ozhan, legal representative of Turkey’s former ‘grey wolf’, who on May 13 1981 shot John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square. Agca was released from prison on January 18, after serving a term in Italy for the attack on the Pope, followed by another sentence in Turkey for killing a well-known Turkish journalist. On February 13, again through his lawyer, Agca wrote to the Vatican asking to meet Pope Ratzinger in Fatima, for where the Pontiff left Rome today. According to the Portuguese government’s answer to Mr. Ozhan, Agca will be allowed to visit Portugal within a short time, while the Vatican is thought to have said that Agca’s request for a meeting would be valued by the Pope himself.(ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

EU: Agreement Reached ‘Thanks to’ France, Italy and Germany

Brussels, 10 May (AKI) — Italy France and Germany worked closely to hammer out the 750 billion-euro fund to support the euro currency, Italian finance minister Giulio Tremonti said following eleven hours of talks in Brussels among members of the 16 European countries that use the common currency.

“It was a job well done,” said Tremonti (photo) early Monday. “An agreement was reached thanks above all to the contribution of France, Germany and Italy,” he said, naming the top three euro-zone economies.

The 16 members of the single currency bloc will have access to 440 billion euros of loan guarantees and 60 billion euros of emergency European Commission funding.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) will also contribute up to 250 billion euros.

“Italy, France and Germany last night at Ecofin worked closely to reach an agreement to create a 750 billion-euro fund to save the euro,” Italian foreign minister Frattini told reporters today in Brussels.

The euro strengthened in early trading, surging above 1.30 dollars, after hitting a 14-month low last week.

There had been fears that without the measures, the euro might have come under pressure on markets as investors grew concerned about financially-troubled states such as Portugal and Spain.

“The euro zone is certainly regaining confidence. Our fundamentals are certainly good,” European Union Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said.

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

France to Target Super-Rich Muslim Women Who Wear Burkas to Prove Ban is Not Biased Against the Poor

As parliament adopted a formal motion declaring such dress to be ‘an affront to the nation’s values’, French MPs made it clear that they were not stigmatising the poor.

Many have criticised the anti-burka lobby, which includes President Nicolas Sarkozy, for focusing on poor Muslim housewives living on housing estates.

But, as in London, some of the most high-profile women who cover their faces in public belong to women from fabulously wealthy families from the Gulf.

They are often seen in the designer stores around Paris’s Champs-Elysee and Avenue Montaigne, often paying hundreds of thousands for goods in cash.

As on the estates, many are forced to wear the veils because of pressure from authoritarian husbands.

The declaration released by the National Assembly states that: ‘Radical practices which violate the dignity and equality between men and women, such as the wearing of the full veil, are contrary to the values of the French Republic.’

It adds that Parliament ‘considers it necessary to put all appropriate measures in place to ensure the protection of women who are subjected to violence and pressure, and in particular are forced to wear the full veil.’

Today’s National Assembly declaration precedes a full parliamentary debate in July, with legislation expected later in the year to ban the burka completely.

This would make France the second country after Belgium to outlaw the Islamic veil in public places.

Bernard Accoyer, the French parliamentary speaker, said: ‘The whole of France will say no to the full veil and will ask that this practice be prohibited on the territory of the republic. It is an important measure.’

But the promise of a ban has prompted warnings of racial tensions in a country which is home some five million Muslims — one of the religion’s largest communities in Europe.

Opponents warn that the move will stigmatise them. Some have accused criminals of wearing veils to disguise themselves. This includes everything from terrorists to minor shop lifters.

Mr Sarkozy’s cabinet is to examine a draft bill which will impose one-year prison sentences and fines of up to £14,000 on men who force their wives to wear a burka.

Women themselves will face a smaller fine of just over £100 because they are ‘often victims with no choice in the matter,’ says the draft.

A source from Mr Sarkozy’s ruling UMP party said: ‘It is not just poor women who are victims, but also rich women from the Gulf and Middle East. We will be targeting them just as much as much as their counterparts from the estates.’

Details of the tough penalties that would be enforced under a French burka ban have already been reported by Le Figaro newspaper.

The law would create a new offence of ‘incitement to cover the face for reasons of gender’, the paper said.

And it would state: ‘No-one may wear in public places clothes that are aimed at hiding the face.’

Women would not be ‘unveiled’ in the street but instead taken to a police station to be formally identified, the draft law states.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

France: Advertising Income for Press on the Rise

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, MAY 11 — Yearly advertising income for the French press has risen by 9% in the first quarter of 2010, reaching a figure of 1.024 billion euros, according to a balance sheet presented by the research institute Yacast. The daily press alone recorded a 14.5% increase on 2009. In the same period of 2009, a 5.1% drop had been recorded. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Ireland: Minister to Root Out ‘Pockets’ Of Racism in Society

MINISTER OF State for Equality and Integration Mary White has vowed to root out “pockets” of racism in society and called for a radical reform of the asylum system.

She has also pledged to tackle rising discrimination against minority groups during the recession — a downturn she believes could, in the long-term, make Ireland a nicer place to live.

In her first major interview since being appointed, Ms White said she had no doubt “there were pockets of Ireland where racism rears its ugly head” and she would do everything she could to support people to embrace multiculturalism.

“While I am Minister in this brief I don’t want any covert or overt racism, whether its awful graffiti spray painted on walls or whether its the nudge, nudge, wink, wink in the place of work or in the school yard.

“We have to be absolutely clear in our hearts and our minds that there is absolutely no place for racism and xenophobia in this country,” she said.

Ms White said the legal system would decide what happened in the case of the recent killing of 15-year-old Nigerian schoolboy Toyosi Shittabey, who was stabbed to death in Tyrrelstown — an area with many immigrants.

She said she had spoken to many of Toyosi’s school friends, who were traumatised by his death and she promised to speak out against racism at every opportunity.

Ms White said she would travel around the country to speak to migrants, to hear their concerns as part of a new ministerial council on integration. She plans to set up a new integration taskforce, which will include Irish representatives, to consider how to better deliver services to immigrants. A third body of academic and Civil Service experts will sit on an integration commission to consider all aspects of integration, she added.

“I am a good listener. I want to hear their voices,” she said.

Ms White also hoped the Government would overhaul its asylum system and extend the right to work to asylum seekers awaiting a decision on their cases.

“I would certainly like asylum seekers to be able to work. The Government position is that this is not tenable at the current time but I’m hoping that during the report at committee stage of the new immigration Bill that we may see some positive changes. That’s a personal view,” she said.

The Department of Justice argues that giving the right to work to people seeking asylum would encourage bogus asylum seekers to come to Ireland.

It is likely to strongly oppose any amendments to the new Bill proposing to allow asylum seekers to work. Ms White said she recognised the huge frustration felt by asylum seekers who have to wait sometimes up to six years for decisions. She said there was a need to cut back on the timescale so asylum cases could be heard fairly, speedily and justly.

Ms White also criticised rules in direct provision hostels for asylum seekers, which prevent families preparing food in their rooms and close kitchens in hostels outside of designated meal times.

“I would like more flexibility in kitchen opening hours. I know the rule about food in rooms, which may be a health and safety issue. But children don’t feed on demand,” said Ms White, who added strict rules put additional stress on families at the centres.

Ms White said the issues at the heart of her new job — social inclusion and equality — were close to “core Green principles” and denied Fianna Fáil had ridden roughshod over the Green Party over the last three years.

She said “Green handprints” promoting equality were all over the revised programme for government, which was negotiated during tough economic times.

“I want to make sure no one suffers because we are in hard times,” said Ms White, who noted a big increase in racial and gender-based discrimination cases heard recently at the Equality Tribunal.

She said she agreed with people who said Ireland would be a nicer place to live after this recession because people now value basic qualities of life rather than money.

“The uncertainty out there means people are focusing on the basic qualities of life . . . people have time to talk to each other.

“We will be a fitter country because people are exercising and more people are volunteering,” she said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italian Salaries Among Lowest in OECD

Unemployment in Italy at 8.6% in 1st qtr, below OECD average

(ANSA) — Rome, May 11 — Italian salaries are among the lowest in the 30-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a report from the OECD said on Tuesday.

Based on data from 2009, Italian salaries ranked 23rd in the 30-nation group and were 16.5 percentage points below the OECD average.

The average annual Italian salary last year was calculated at $22,027 compared to the OECD average of $26,395, the euro area average of $28,454 and EU average of $25,253.

These salaries were the net average for a single-person household and based on purchasing power.

Italy also ranked 23rd for salaries for a four-person household — mother, father and two children.

Italian salaries were the lowest in the Group of Seven (G7) most industrialised countries, which also includes United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France and Canada.

Salaries in Italy were even lower than three countries currently facing financial turmoil: Greece, Spain and Ireland.

They were higher, however, than those in Portugal, Czech Republic, Turkey, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Mexico.

Italy, the report said, was among the ten OECD countries which saw a decline in salaries last year due to the global economic downturn.

The OECD report also looked at tax pressure which in Italy was calculated at 46.5% of salaries for single-person households, the sixth highest in the 30-nation area after Belgium (55.2%), Hungary (53.4%), Germany (50.9%), France (49.2%) and Austria (47.9%).

Tax pressure in Italy was lighter for four-person households and at 35.7% it was ninth-highest in the OECD.


In regard to unemployment, the OECD calculated that for the first three months of 2010 it averaged out in Italy at 8.6% of the labor force, up 1.2 percentage points from the first quarter of last year.

Italy’s unemployment rate rose to 8.8% in March, from 8.6% the previous month, its highest since the second quarter of 2002 and a full percentage point above March 2009. The average unemployment rate in March for the full 30-nation OECD was stable at 8.7%, which included highs of 19.1% in Spain, 14.1% in Slovakia and 13.2% in Ireland. Unemployment in March in the Group of Seven (G7) most industrialised countries stood at 8.3%, the same as in February, and was 9.6% in the EU and 10% in the 16-nation euro area.

In another development on Tuesday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Italy can expect to see a deficit this year of 5.2% of GDP with inflation running at 1.4% and GDP rising by 0.8%.

Although higher than the 5% deficit predicted by the Italian Treasury last week, Italy’s deficit forecast by the IMF was below the average for the 16-nation euro area, 6,8%, and better than Europe’s stronger economies, with Germany’s deficit expected to be 5.7% and France’s 8.2%. The IMF said the euro area’s GDP in 2010 will rise by 1% to then climb by 1.5% in 2011 thanks to France’s growth of 1.8% and Germany’s of 1.7%. At 0.8%, the IMF’s GDP growth forecast for Italy was below the 1% it had calculated In January.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Anti-Mafia Police Target Joint Sicilian-Neapolitan Mafia ‘Enterprise’

Milano, 10 May (AKI) — Police on Monday arrested 60 suspects from the Naples and Sicilian mafia who were allegedly involved in a joint criminal enterprise that targeted southern Italy’s lucrative fruit and vegetable industry.

Police in the southern Italian Campania region arrested around 20 suspects believed to belong to the Neapolitan mafia’s powerful Casalesi clan and approximately a dozen people from its rival Licciardi and Mallardo clans, as well as six suspects from the Santapaola clan.

The bosses of the alleged joint mafia undertaking forced growers to use a single haulage firm to transport their produce. The firm operated out of the port of Herculaneum near Naples but was owned by mafia suspects in the southern Italian port city of Herculaneum, according to investigators.

The same firm was transporting to Sicily all the fruit and vegetables sold at one of Europe’s largest markets, in the town of Fondi in Italy’s central Lazio region, surrounding Rome, investigators said.

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

Muslim Organisations in Belgium Slam Ban on Burqa

The vote in the lower house of the Belgian parliament on Thursday to ban the wearing of the burqa or niqab, face-covering veil, is being criticized by representatives of Muslim organisations in the country as a violation of religious freedom.

“This measure which comes in the middle of a government crisis is a violation of liberties and fundamental rights of Muslims by some persons,” Vice President of the Muslim Executive of Belgium, Isabelle Praile, told the Kuwait news agency (KUNA) in an interview.

She stressed that the measure could be considered as an abuse of the law as these rights are guaranteed by Belgian, European and international rights.

“In Belgium, we don’t have the burqa. It is in Afghanistan. Some dozens of women are wearing the veil,” said Praile, a Belgian who converted to Islam 26 years ago.

The Muslim Executive of Belgium is the interlocutor of the Muslim community with the Belgian authorities and manages the religious affairs of the Muslims.

141 Belgian deputies voted to ban the burqa. There were two abstentions but nobody voted against.

The bill says no one can appear in public “with the face fully or partly covered so as to render them no longer recognizable.” Belgian politicians have argued that the law is necessary for public security and to protect women from being forced to wear the burqa.

Praile, however, dismissed the security argument as “not feasible.”

“Citizens are not required to identify themselves except under specific cases. The women who wear the hijab are not a source of any trouble for the security in Belgium. We have women wearing sunglasses and some making surgical face changes and they cannot be identified also,” she said.

           — Hat tip: Winds of Jihad[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: One in Five Muslims Supports Wilders

THE HAGUE, 30/06/09 — Most Muslims in the Netherlands see Geert Wilders as a threat, but nearly one in five share his criticisms of Islam partly or in full, according to a survey by TV programme Netwerk.

Three-quarters of the Muslims consider it a threat if Wilders were to enter government. Nonetheless, one-third of them find it logical for a portion of the Dutch to vote for him. Eighteen percent of the Muslims agree with the Party for Freedom (PVV) leader on a number of points. On the other hand, 22 percent feel hatred towards Wilders.

On the question of how the Muslim community should deal with Wilders’ rising popularity, there are divergent thoughts. Most support is for ignoring him (40 percent), closely followed by ‘enter into the discussion’ (35 percent). Next come ‘let a tough counter-voice be heard’ (25 percent) and ‘tackle problems within the Muslim community’ (23 percent).

Nearly three-quarters of the Muslims have the feeling that the ‘ordinary’ Dutch have judged them more negatively in recent years than in the past. Additionally, 4 out of 10 Muslims say they are discriminated against more often nowadays.

Two-thirds of the respondents see ‘a future for themselves’ in the Netherlands. It is noteworthy here that young Muslims in particular see it this way (73 percent). Muslims aged over 35 have less confidence: 43 percent see no future here for themselves any more.

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

Norway: World’s Poshest Prison? Cells With En-Suite Bathrooms and No Window Bars (Plus £1m Banksy-Style Art)

That’s the ‘hard-time’ waiting for some of Norway’s most dangerous criminals in the new purpose built £15 million Halden Prison.

The jail took 10 years to build and has been touted to be the most humane in the world for its 252 inmates.

Prison authorities claim the luxury environment of the 75-acre site helps reduce the country’s already very low crime rate.

Each inmate gets a private cell with mini-fridge, flat-screen TV and even a private en-suite bathroom and barless windows — because they let in more sunlight.

Then for every 12 to 15 rooms there is a top-notch kitchen with stainless steel work tops and lounge areas complete with IKEA-style sofas and coffee tables.

To cap-off their stay at Halden, the pampered prisoners can even enjoy a gym — complete with rock-climbing wall — a music studio and luxury library.

Architect Hans Henrik Hoilund admitted Halden holds some of Norway’s most dangerous prisoners but — believes its design means they don’t re-offend.

He said: ‘The most important thing is that the prison looks as much like the outside world as possible.

‘To avoid an institutional feel, exteriors are not concrete but made of bricks, galvanized steel and larch; the buildings seem to have grown organically from the woodlands.

‘And while there is one obvious symbol of incarceration — a 20-foot concrete security wall along the prison’s perimeter — trees obscure it.

‘And it’s top has been rounded off, so it isn’t too hostile.’

The Norwegian Banksy-style artist Dolk was also hired to paint a £1million mural on the prison wall showing a prisoner in striped uniform using a ball and chain as a shot put.

Halden opened it’s doors officially last month, taking in the first batch of inmates. Prison governor Are Hoidal said there have been no escape attempts.

He said: ‘In the Norwegian prison system, there’s a focus on human rights and respect.

‘We don’t see any of this as unusual.

‘When they arrive many of them are in bad shape and we want to build them up, give them confidence through education and work and have them leave as better people.’

Halden also features jogging trails in nearby woods and a freestanding two-bedroom house where inmates can host their families during overnight visits.

In Norway only 20 per cent of prisoners end up back in jail after release, compared to between 50 and 60 per cent in the UK.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Norway/Sweden: When the Locals Become a Minority

Via Tundra Tabloids.

Blond again: Only after moving to a school in western Oslo did Mari Morken (16) dare be blond again.

“Why is it racism is we call them ‘black’ and not racism if they call us ‘white’“?

“I never called anybody ‘Nigger’ or ‘Black’ or anything like that. On the other hand, those of us who were White were talked about derogatorily. It was negative to be White, Christianity and Norwegian culture was negative and there were many curses,” says Mari Morken (16) and rattles them off “Whitey, potato and white cheese”

Three years ago she couldn’t take it any more. She moved from a school in Groruddalen to a school on the west side. Every morning she takes the subway to the other side of the city to escape the curses and the bad class-environment. Where she goes now, it’s good to have good grades, and she doesn’t stand out because she’s light. Before she made dark stripes in her medium-blond hair. Now she dyes her hair a bit lighter. She’s in the process of ‘taking back’ her Norwegianity, and is happy to be blond without being branded ‘whore’ and cheap’.

“Ah, girl, blond whore!”

‘Josephine’ was met with these words on the first school day at a high-school in an immigrant-dominated suburb south of Stockholm. Josphine was quite baffled, since aside from her hair color there was nothing about her appearance that would indicate she was promiscuous. She didn’t use makeup and had completely neutral clothing. It was exclusively her hair-color that branded her a ‘whore’.

‘Josephine’ is one of the informants for researchers Maria Bäckman, who did an ethnographic field study in a suburb south of Stockholm, where ethnic Swedes make up about 20% of the population…

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

PD: Italy: D’Alema May Face Action Over ‘Insult’

PD heavyweight clashed with journalist on talk show

(ANSA) — Rome, May 11 — Former Italian premier Massimo D’Alema may face disciplinary action for allegedly insulting a journalist on a TV talk show.

The Italian Journalists Guild on Tuesday opened formal proceedings against the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) heavyweight for telling Alessandro Sallusti to “Go and f*** (him)self” during a May 4 debate on the resignation of industry minister Claudio Scajola over a shady deal for a Rome flat.

D’Alema is a professional journalist and from 1986 to 1989 edited l’Unita’, the organ of the now-defunct Italian Communist Party.

The ex-premier’s outburst on the Ballaro’ show came while Sallusti, deputy editor of conservative daily Il Giornale, was pressing D’Alema about allegations that he had himself benefited from a low rent in the 1990s because of alleged favouritism.

Il Giornale, owned by Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s brother Paolo, played a major role in pursuing the 1995 ‘Rentgate’ affair.

In the Scajola case, after initially defending the minister, it called for him to go after pointing out inconsistencies in his account of how he got a flat overlooking the Colosseum mostly paid by someone he claimed not to know.

D’Alema’s remarks to Sallusti, were widely condemned and the head of the Italian journalists union, Roberto Natale, said “none of Sallusti’s comments, however biased,” could justify them.

Sallusti has said he will not sue D’Alema but wants an apology.

The former premier, currently head of the parliamentary secret service committee, has sued journalists on several occasions for allegedly defamatory coverage.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Pope Says Abuse Scandals ‘Terrifying’

‘Sin within Church’, pontiff declares

(ANSA) — Lisbon, May 11 — Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday said the sex abuse scandals roiling the Catholic Church were “terrifying”.

“It is really terrifying that the Church should be suffering from attacks coming from inside, from the sin that exists within the Church itself,” the pope said on a flight taking him to Portugal.

The pope, who is set to visit the Fatima Shrine during a four-day trip, said that the miracles that took place there “announced” the Church’s suffering.

He also stressed that “forgiveness is no substitute for justice”. Child sex abuse scandals have hit the Catholic Church in the United States, Australia, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Germany and Italy.

Critics have accused the pope of failing to take proper action when he was head of the doctrinal office that deals with paedophilia cases.

The Vatican has said Benedict, on the contrary, made it easier to punish offenders as well as preventing paedophiles from becoming priests.

Benedict, 83, became pope five years ago after serving for 24 years as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Shortly before his election in 2005 he vowed to clean out what he called “filth” from the Church.

The pontiff has met with victims of paedophile priests in the US, Australia and, most recently, Malta where he is said to have wept as he prayed with them.

At Easter he sent a pastoral letter to Ireland expressing his “shame” over decades of abuse and cover-ups there.

Benedict has accepted the resignations of four Irish bishops while another two have tendered their resignations.

Belgium’s longest-serving bishop, Roger Vangheluwe of Bruges, stepped down last month and his resignation was accepted.

The most recent bishop to resign, on Sunday, was Walter Mixa of Augsburg in Germany who is the subject of a police probe.

The Vatican recently published the guidelines it has been using since 2003, stressing all cases are reported to the police as soon as possible.

It has also said that Benedict will be able to defrock paedophiles immediately.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Shia Muslim Cleric: Ireland Under the Attack of Al-Qaeda Extremists

Ahlul Bayt News Agency (, EXTREMIST Wahhabis influenced by al-Qaeda are taking a hold in Ireland and some of these young adults are becoming influential in the country’s universities, the Muslim religious leader of a Dublin mosque has warned.

Imam Ali Al-Saleh, who runs the Shia mosque in Dublin’s Milltown, said fundamentalist Wahhabis who sympathise with al-Qaeda were living in Ireland and and that the recent arrest of a group of Wahhabis in Waterford and Limerick was proof of this.

“I think there is a problem with extremists in Ireland. Ireland is being used as a safe haven. We were not surprised over the arrests in relation to the plot in Sweden,” Dr Al-Saleh told the Sunday Tribune.

“Many extremist Wahhabis came to Ireland as asylum seekers. They are raising their children as extremists and these children have now grown into adults. There is now a problem in Ireland with extremists getting involved in university student societies. This is of concern.

These youths can be easily brainwashed. There are so many websites dedicated to extremism and so many speeches being made that influence these young people. It is a very hot atmosphere. We are warning people not to get involved.”

Dr Al-Saleh added that, as well as extremist Wahhabis who have been raised in Ireland, many middle-Eastern students are also arriving in Ireland to study.

“Al-Qaeda have used Ireland as a base. I think the most dangerous are the parents who raise their children as fanatical extremists. I have children in primary and high school. They tell me what they say about Osama bin Laden. They tell us their youth praise Osama bin Laden.”

“The reaction of extremists can be very harsh. There have been al-Qaeda leaders in Ireland — they have since been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Dr Al-Saleh said it was important to acknowledge Wahhabi extremism in Ireland but he is aware that some other imams do not agree with his views. “In Ireland we have this problem and we need to tackle it. By acknowledging it, I am defending Islam. To deny it is not accusing Islam, it is accusing extremists.”

Islam is now the second biggest faith in Ireland after Christianity with approximately 32,000 Muslims living here. Imam Ali Al-Selim, chairman of the Irish Council of Imams and head of the Sunni mosque in Dublin’s Clonskeagh, said he did not believe there was a problem with extremists Wahhabis in Ireland.

“We are an integrated part of Irish society here. Nothing has happened to show us there are radical Wahhabis who call themselves as Muslim in Ireland. We as Muslims condemn all violence whether it’s against Muslims or non-Muslims,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Winds of Jihad[Return to headlines]

Spain: Garzon Requests Transfer to ICC in the Hague

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MAY 11 — Spanish Judge Baltazar Garzon requested to be transferred from the Audiencia Nacional of Madrid to work at the International Criminal Court of the Hague, as an advisor to the prosecutor’s office, according to El Pais’ website. Garzon is currently the defendant in three legal proceedings opened against him by the Supreme Court for various alleged crimes involving abuses of power: one concerning opening an investigation into crimes of during the Franco dictatorship; the second for ordering wire taps on conversations between defendants in the ‘Gurtel’ case and their lawyers while in prison; the third for the alleged payment that he received from Banca Santander for courses at the New York University. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain: Justice Ministry Official for Veil Sacked

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MAY 11 — Due to the controversy over the Muslim veil in Spain, a high-ranking official in the Justice Ministry has been dismissed, who in a legal opinion on the case of Majwa Malha, the 16-year-old removed from a secondary school in Alarcon (Madrid) because she was wearing a Muslim headscarf, said that he was in favour of wearing veils to in schools. “The right to profess one’s faith includes the right to express, exteriorise or wear clothing in agreement with one’s beliefs,” said Juan Ferreiro Galguera, chair of ecclesiastic law and sub-director general of coordination and promotion of religious freedom of the Justice Ministry. According to Galguera, “a student wearing a veil to a public school does not infringe upon the rights of others nor does it affect public order”. The Justice Ministry, according to reports in the media today, fired the official, whom they had previously asked in recent days to resign, without clarifying the reasons for his dismissal. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Lars Vilks Attacked During Lecture

Artist Lars Vilks, who caused controversy by drawing cartoons that depicted the prophet Muhammad as a dog, has been attacked while giving a lecture at Uppsala University.

Hate cleric will not participate in Swedish conference (3 Apr 10)

Vilks, who has been the subject of numerous death threats, was attacked while speaking at the university’s philosophy faculty on Tuesday afternoon. He was not badly hurt.

“The man was sitting in the front row and suddenly came rushing towards me. He headbutted me, and I was thrown against the wall and dropped my glasses,” he said.

According to local newspaper Uppsala Nya Tidning, the atmosphere in the lecture theatre became rowdy after Vilks showed a film with sexual content.

“A crowd of people pushed forward. When a police officer tried to stop them he was hit. As things stand, two people have been arrested,” said police commander Tommy Karlsson.

Vilks was taken to a secure location following the attack.

“I have not been injured, just a bit knocked about,” he said.

Vilks became notorious in parts of the Muslim world for portraying the Islamic prophet Muhammad as a roundabout dog.

The publication of the drawings in the Nerikes Allehanda newspaper led to death threats from a number of organizations, including an al-Qaeda-affiliated organization which offered $150,000 for his murder. Vilks was consequently forced to accept police protection.

An alleged plot to kill Vilks was revealed in March: American Colleen R. LaRose was charged with trying to recruit terrorists to murder the artist. At the same time, seven people were arrested in Ireland over a plot to kill Vilks, although four of those detained were later released.

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

UK: Acid Attacker Jailed for 30 Years

An acid attacker who left a 25-year-old man severely disfigured in a horrific plot to avenge his family’s “dishonour” has been jailed for 30 years.

Mohammed Vakas was found guilty by an Old Bailey jury of plotting to murder Awais Akram.

The victim was targeted because of his intimate relationship with Sadia Khatoon, 24, a married businesswoman he had met on Facebook, the court heard.

When her husband, Shakeel Abassi, and Vakas, her brother, found out about it, they got her to lure Mr Akram out of his flat to the scene of the attack.

There the victim was beaten and stabbed before Vakas poured concentrated sulphuric acid over his head, leaving him with 47% burns and fighting for his life.

Vakas, 26, of Walthamstow, was found guilty of conspiring with Khatoon and her husband to murder Mr Akram.

Fellow attackers Mohammed Adeel, 20, also of Walthamstow, and a 17-year-old youth, who can now be named as Fabion Kuci, of Harlesden, north-west London, were convicted of conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm.

Adeel was jailed for 14 years and the youth was locked up for eight years.

Mr Akram, who survived the attack but continues to undergo treatment for his injuries, has described how he was in so much pain at the time that he wanted to die.

Judge Brian Barker, the Common Serjeant of London, said: “The facts of this case are horrifying. This was a remorseless and a heartless plan. It was to punish and kill Mr Akram in the most cruel and sadistic way. The reason can be deduced as being an unacceptable relationship with Sadia Khatoon and Awais Akram. This was deemed to bring dishonour to her husband and to both families.”

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Brown Set to Quit as Prime Minister as Cameron Prepares to Move in to Number Ten

Gordon Brown looks set to resign tonight and allow David Cameron to become Britain’s new Prime Minister after Labour talks with the Liberal Democrats collapsed.

The Labour leader’s desperate bid to cling on to power fell apart after his own MPs responded with fury to the prospect of a Lib-Lab pact and there were clashes on policy with Nick Clegg.

After five days of high drama following the election ending in a hung parliament, the deadlock appears to be almost over with the Tories on the verge of sweeping to power.

Mr Brown retreated to No.10 tonight where he is holed up with his closest aides, friends and wife Sarah for what is believed to be a farewell party. Luggage was also spotted being loaded into a Land Rover at the back of Downing Street.

He has already spoken to his predecessor Tony Blair on the phone as the party faces up to the end of a tumultuous 13-year reign which began when Mr Blair stormed into Downing Street on the back of a landslide in 1997.

Protocol dictates that Mr Brown has to go to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen and formally resign. Royal sources said she had flown in at 3.30pm this afternoon. The monarch is unlikely to accept a visit any later than 9pm.

When the moment comes, Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell will call the Queen’s Private Secretary Christopher Geidt to ask for a meeting. Mr Geidt is poised for the call in his office tonight.

Once Mr Brown has resigned, Mr Cameron will then go to the Palace to be formally installed as Prime Minister.

When the moment comes, Cabinet Secretary, Sir Gus O’Donnell, will call the Queen’s Private Secretary, Christopher Geidt, to formally request a meeting.

Mr Geidt was tonight still in his office waiting to see whether events were about to reach a conclusion.

The Tories and Lib Dems have been locked in fresh talks at the Cabinet Office since 2pm but it is believed a framework for a deal has been agreed.

This will need to be signed off by both parliamentary parties, which are due to meet later this evening.

The agreement is thought to include a number of Cabinet positions for senior Lib Dems — as many as six — and a referendum on reforming Britain’s voting system.

It is claimed the new government will include seven ex-party leaders: William Hague, Michael Howard, Iain Duncan Smith, Lord Ashdown, Charles Kennedy, Sir Menzies Campbell and David Trimble.

Vince Cable, the Lib Dem Treasury spokesman who is also likely to be given a role, was spotted at the Treasury earlier today. He has said tonight that the two parties are ‘very close’ to a deal.

However, Mr Brown’s resignation would mean a coalition is unnecessary and the Tory leader could go it alone to form a minority government.

Sterling, which had dipped in response to Labour’s audacious bid to stay on, rebounded as Mr Cameron once again looked likely to be in No10 in days if not hours.

The Tory leader rushed to Portcullis House in the Commons as it emerged a deal could soon be delivered, although he said he is still ‘in the dark’ about what is happening at the talks.

The Tories are on standby until 8pm so that they are ready to meet and give their agreement. Tory frontbencher Alan Duncan was confident it will back a deal: ‘They’ll buy it, I’m sure they will.’

Nick Clegg is with his senior aides in Parliament. He will also have to try to sell any deal to his party and the Lib Dem federal executive, who are due to gather for a joint meeting at 7.30pm.

Senior Lib Dem Simon Hughes, in an early sign an agreement would be waved through, signalled that he was now ready to give it the go ahead.

‘It is clearly better to be in government than not in government. I am in politics to deliver outcomes, not to worry about who else is walking the road with me,’ he said.

‘I will look at the proposal that comes to us this evening, I will use my head rather my heart, and if it is something that I believe will deliver the sort of more liberal and more democratic future that I fought for for 30 years or more, then I would be prepared to support it.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Muslim Aid Charity Under Investigation

A charity praised by Gordon Brown and the Prince of Wales has been placed under investigation by the Charity Commission following claims it had channelled hundreds of thousands of pounds to groups linked to a banned terrorist organisation.

According to its own accounts, Muslim Aid paid £325,000 to the Islamic University of Gaza, where leading Hamas figures teach, and £13,998 to the al-Ihsan Charitable Society, designated by the US government as a “sponsor of terrorism” and a front for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group.

Security sources also claim that Muslim Aid has helped channel a further £210,600 to six other organisations in the Gaza Strip since July 2009, all of which they say are also linked to Hamas.

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Despite repeated approaches for comment over more than a week, Muslim Aid has refused to deny these claims.

In a statement, the Charity Commission said: “We take very seriously allegations of links between charities and terrorist activity, and consider funding of terrorist organisations to be a ‘zero tolerance’ issue.

The Commission has opened an investigation into Muslim Aid in light of these allegations and is working with the charity to address the issues raised.”

Muslim Aid is banned from the West Bank by the Israeli government, which says it is a member of the Union of Good, an alliance of charities that raise money for Hamas. Hamas is banned throughout the EU as a designated terrorist organisation.

In a video address to Muslim Aid’s 25th anniversary dinner last month, Mr Brown praised the charity’s “valuable work”.

He said: “I wish Muslim Aid and its passionate and committed staff and supporters the very best for another 25 years of achievement.”

The Prince sent a message saying that “our country is incredibly fortunate to be able to count on organisations like Muslim Aid, who bring not only help, but hope to those most in need”.

Muslim Aid, based at the hardline East London Mosque, has close links to the Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE), a fundamentalist Muslim group based in the same offices.

Muslim Aid raised more than £24 million last year and has been given at least £830,000 of public money. It claims to serve humanity “regardless of political affiliation” and only supports lawful organisations.

However, one foreign security source said: “We are opening our eyes on them. In the past they were supporting the outer rim of Hamas societies in Gaza. Now they are supporting the core.”

The accounts also show that Muslim Aid, which calls itself an “international development” charity, paid nearly £175,000, which according to the charity’s aims would be intended for “disaster relief”, to the UK-based lobbying group, the Muslim Council of Britain, another body closely influenced by the IFE. The MCB has no role in disaster relief.

Muslim Aid was unavailable for comment but has previously said that it works only with “lawful and legitimate” partners.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

UK: Motorist Returns to Find Yellow Lines Painted Either Side of Her Car — and a Parking Ticket

A baffled motorist was left fuming after returning to her parked car to find double yellow lines painted either side of it — and a parking ticket slapped on the windscreen.

Bungling parking officials fined June Williams yesterday despite road markings only being painted round her vehicle after she had parked.

[Return to headlines]

UK: New Plan for Town Mosque is Unveiled

A new mosque with minaret could be built opposite Dudley Zoo and the existing one turned into a community centre, it was revealed today.

The current mosque in Castle Hill holds 477 people and a plan to build a new one would increase that number up to 750, says the Dudley Muslim Association.

Chairman Khurshid Ahmed said Dudley Council sent a letter yesterday which gave a commitment to providing the DMA with land to be able to increase capacity by 50 per cent.

Earlier this week deputy council leader, Les Jones, announced that an agreement had been reached between the council and the DMA not to pursue a controversial plan to build a new super mosque in Hall Street.

Mr Ahmed said he could not support that position until the council put a “viable” option on the table.

Today he said he was “delighted” by the council’s decision to “finally say a viable option can be looked at” and said the DMA would meet on Sunday to consider it.

He said the likely cost of a new mosque in Castle Hill would be about £3m, funded by the Muslim community.

Councillor Jones said the council was asking the DMA to relinquish ownership of the site in Hall Street.

           — Hat tip: ICLA[Return to headlines]

UK: Police Investigate Burnley Council Vote Irregularities

A police investigation is under way into voting irregularities in last week’s local election in Burnley.

Inquiries began after Steve Rumbelow, returning officer and council chief executive, referred the Daneshouse with Stoneyholme ward count to officers.

Despite the potential issues, he said he believed the result of the election would not have been affected.

Labour’s Shah Hussain held the seat for the party with 1,554 votes. Liberal Democrat Tahir Nawaz polled 1,071.

‘Grave concerns’

In a statement, Mr Rumbelow said: “I have grave concerns about irregularities in the local election vote in Daneshouse with Stoneyholme ward and I have decided to raise those concerns with Lancashire Police.

“I have no reason to believe this issue would have affected the outcome of the result.”

It is the second time the Daneshouse with Stoneyholme ward has been subject to a police investigation.

Liberal Democrat councillors Manzur Hussain and Mozaquir Ali were jailed for 18 months in 2006 after defrauding dozens of voters during the 2004 local government elections.

The men collected signed proxy vote forms door-to-door and cast them in favour of Ali.

Speaking about the latest inquiry, Supt Steve Pemberton, of Burnley CID, said: “I can confirm that we have launched an investigation following Council concerns about one of the ballots.

“The investigation relates to the local elections and to one ward only: the Daneshouse and Stoneyholme ward in Burnley.”

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Police Investigate Alleged Votes Fraud

DETECTIVES are investigating a fraud allegedly carried out during the elections in Southampton, the Daily Echo can reveal.

At the centre of the probe is a candidate who has been arrested for allegedly filling in multiple voter registration forms for properties across Southampton.

Syeh Fayaz Shah, 40, stood as an independent for election in the Bevois ward in Southampton city centre.

Turnout in last week’s local election surged with around half the electorate casting ballots compared to one in five in previous years.

Shah received 82 votes but the seat was won by Labour stalwart Derek Burke who polled 2,369 votes.

Shah, from Oxford Avenue, was arrested by police on suspicion of fraud by false representation.

His arrest happened before the Southampton City Council elections on May 6, but Shah was still able to stand as a candidate for the ward, which covers parts of St Mary’s and Bevois Valley.

It is believed that the allegations of fraud were brought to the attention of police by a member of Southampton City Council’s election staff. It is alleged that voter forms, which detail who lives in a property and who there is eligible to vote, were filled out illegitimately at four properties in the city.

A police spokesman confirmed: “Detectives are investigating an allegation of fraud following the recent local Southampton City Council election.

“A 40-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of fraud by false representation and is currently on police bail until June 17.

“The offence relates to four properties where voter registration forms have been allegedly filled out illegitimately.

“This matter does not relate to any existing Southampton city councillor.”

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Unlike the Greeks, The Irish Are Facing Up to Their Plight

During the last bout of Greek riots protesting at austerity budget measures — which were unhesitatingly repeated yesterday — there was one banner that stood out from the rest. “Greece is not Ireland!” it proclaimed. “How true,” we murmured, thinking along the lines of sun, rain, cooking and drink. But, seen from Ireland, where I am now, the fact that Greece isn’t Ireland isn’t so bad.

Both countries are living through a ghastly, prolonged, morning-after-the-night-before financial crisis after years of sunny self-indulgence, from which really hellish retrenchment — or debt default — is the only way out. But Ireland isn’t taking to the streets, unless you count the pensioners who staged a cheerful, sing-along sit-in in a Dublin church when politicians threatened to curb their medical entitlements last year (they won). The cutbacks started 18 months ago. And people here are looking, with bewildered incomprehension, at what the Greeks are doing.

Everyone seems to know one thing about the Greeks: they retire at 50, or 55. “What do they think the alternative to a deal is?” said a friend of mine in Cork, wonderingly. The engineering firm he used to work for is imposing 30 per cent pay cuts; his daughter, an engineer, is going for interviews in London because “there are just no jobs”. But his wife, a teacher, is about to vote in favour of the government’s latest austerity deal, which will freeze her pay for the next four years. That’s on top of the 17 per cent pay cut she took last year, if you count the increase in pension contributions. Can you see the Greeks doing that? Or the British?

           — Hat tip: Mercator Net[Return to headlines]

When Religion and Culture Part Ways

Olivier Roy talks to Eren Gvercin about issues central to the debate about Islam in Europe, from revolutionary milleniarism to Muslim Luthenarianism.

Eren Güvercin: The Swiss majority voted for a ban on minarets; France and Belgium are deep in debate about banning headscarves. In Germany, too, the debate about Islam often verges on hysteria. Why are Europeans so preoccupied with religious symbols and “foreign” religions?

Olivier Roy: The debate in Europe has shifted in the past 25 years from immigration to the visible symbols of Islam. Which means that even people who oppose immigration now acknowledge that the second and third generations of migrants are here to stay and that Islam has put down roots in Europe. And the debate has made a peculiar shift: while the anti-immigration position used to be associated primarily with the conservative right, Islam is now under attack from both left and right, but for very different reasons. The right believes that Europe is Christian and that Islam should be tolerated, but as an inferior religion. While the constitutional principle of freedom of religion prevents it from banning Islam, it takes every opportunity to limit its visibility; the European Court of Human Rights, for example, did not step in to stop France banning the headscarf in schools.

The left argues for secularism, women’s rights and against fundamentalism: it opposes the veil not so much because it is Islamic but because it seems to contradict women’s rights. So, as we see, behind the Islam debate is a far more complicated issue: the question of European identity, and the role of religion in Europe. Although the left and right take very different stances on these issues, we are seeing the rise of new populist movements (such as Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom in the Netherlands) which combine the two approaches, essentially siding with the right but using the arguments of the left.

In your book you say that fundamentalist groups like al-Qaida have nothing to do with Islamic tradition. But in Europe the fundamentalist ideology is regarded as the essence of the traditional thinking. How do you explain this contradiction?

The sort of terrorism practised by al-Qaida has neither a Muslim nor a Christian history. It is an entirely new phenomenon. If we consider its manifestations — suicide bombing, killing hostages, targeting civilians — these are all methods that were used before al-Qaida by other organisations: the Tamil Tigers, for example used suicide attacks; the extreme right in Italy was responsible for the Bologna bombing in August 1980; and the al-Qaida video footage of the execution of foreign hostages in Iraq is a one to one “re-enactment” of the execution of Aldo Moro by the Red Brigades, with the organisation’s banner and logo in the background, the hostage hand-cuffed and blind-folded, the mock “trial” with the reading of the “sentence” and the execution. Al-Qaida’s modus operandi and organisation, the declared enemy of US imperialism, the recruitment of young Muslims educated in the west or converts to Islam, all this indicates clearly the al-Qaida is not the expression of traditional Islam or even fundamentalist Islam; it is a new understanding of Islam, cloaked in western revolutionary ideology.

How do you explain the success of such radical movements or ideologies? Is it really linked to poverty and marginalisation?

No. No research has indicated any correlation between poverty and radicalisation. There are far more Saudis than Bangladeshis in radical Islamic movements, in fact there are almost no militant Bangladeshis. I think that the current struggle is a continuation of the old confrontation between anti-imperialist movements based in the Third World with the west and specifically the USA. Bin laden says comparatively little about religion, but he does talk about Che Guevara, colonialism, climate change etc. Al-Qaida is obviously a generational movement, it is made up of young people who have distanced themselves from their families and their social surroundings and who are not even interested in their country of origin. Al-Qaida has an astonishing number of converts among its members, a fact which is recognised but has not received sufficient attention. The converts are rebels without a cause who, thirty years ago, would have joined the Red Army Faction or the Red Brigades, but who now opt for the most successful movement on the anti-imperialist market. They are still in the tradition of a mostly western revolutionary millenarianism that has turned its back on the idea of establishing a new and just society. The new movements are profoundly sceptical about building an ideal society, which explains the suicidal dimension also present in the RAF.

Some Europeans maintain that European culture is essentially a Christian culture, and that everything Islamic is problematic and alien for Europe. What do you say to this?

They say this at the same time as Pope Benedict, like John Paul II before him, is reprimanding Europe for rejecting and ignoring its Christian roots. The debate about sexual freedom, abortion, gay rights is not a confrontation between Europeans and Muslims, but between secularists on the one hand — who also exist in the Muslim community — and conservative believers on the other, whether they be Muslims, Catholics or orthodox Jews. Europe is deeply divided about its own culture: secularists consider the Enlightenment (with its human rights, freedom, democracy) to be the true birth certificate of Europe, while certain Christian-oriented factions believe that the Enlightenment also led to communism, atheism and even Nazism.

Is there a risk of Islamophobia becoming a European reality?

This, too, is a question of how we define Islamophobia. Is it just another definition for racism, and specifically racism against people with Muslim names, whatever their religious standing. Or is it the rejection of a religion? There are militant anti-racists who are against the veil — among the feminists for example — and there are racists who think the veil is irrelevant because they regard Muslims as quintessentially other. What makes this so untenable is the lack of distinction between ethnicity and religion. Of course the great majority of European Muslims originate from other cultures, but the connection between ethnic background and religion is dissolving — with Europeans converting to Islam and Muslims converting to Christianity. There are atheist “Arabs” and “Turks” and more and more Muslims want to be acknowledged as members of a faith community, but not necessarily as members of a non-European cultural community. We need to distinguish between “ethnic communities” and “faith communities”, because these are different phenomena which need to be approached in differed ways.

How should politics deal with these globalised religions which have drifted away from their cultures”?

I think that it is precisely these religions — rather than established institutions like the Catholic Church — that are most “successful” nowadays. It does not make sense to fight this trend, particularly in countries where freedom of religion is written into the constitution. On the contrary, we must shore up the separation of church and state by ensuring full religious equality — not in the sense of religious “multi-culturalism” but with an eye to the conditions under which a faith community can freely exercise its rights — with a neutral and clearly defined form of religious freedom within the framework of existing laws.

The media frequently promotes a dialectic of “liberal” vs. “radical” Islam. What is your opinion on this terminology and the value judgement it implies?

I do not think that a believer needs to chose a “liberal” interpretation of his religion to make him a good citizen. And I am not convinced by the call for an Islamic “reformation”. The people who are calling for a Muslim Luther never read Luther. He was not liberal in any way and he was also an avowed anti-Semite. The idea of adapting Muslims to fit a western context has nothing to do with theology, it is much more about the individual practices and endeavours of the Muslims themselves. They try to reconcile their practices with the western environment, and they find the necessarily tools for this within the environment. In the long run these changes will translate into theological reform of sorts, but it makes no sense to associate modernity with theological liberalism. To do this is either to distort history or rely on wishful thinking.


Olivier Roy is research director at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and lectures at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) and the Institut d’Etudes Politiques (IEP) in Paris. His books include “Secularism Confronts Islam”, “Globalized Islam”, “The Politics of Chaos in the Middle East”, “The Search for a New Ummah” (Columbia University Press) “The Afghan-Pakistan Connection” (Mariam Abou Zahab)

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


Bosnia: Humanitarian Convoys ‘Smuggled Weapons’

The Hague, 10 May (AKI) — Wartime Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, accused of genocide and war crimes, told the United Nations Yugoslav war crimes tribunal on Monday that humanitarian convoys were used to smuggle weapons to Muslims during Bosnia’s 1992-1995 war.

“Everything was smuggled through these convoys — weapons, military equipment, cameras, food,” Karadzic said, cross-examining prosecution witness David Harland.

Karadzic said Bosnian Serb forces stopped only a few convoys, but accused Muslim officials of storing away humanitarian aid and selling it at black market.

Harland, who served with international peacekeepers (UNPROFOR) in Bosnia from 1993 to 1995, said Karadzic’s accusations were “absolutely false.”

“The things you mention were never seen in the hands of Muslims soldiers,” Harland said.

“There were criminal elements among Muslim authorities, but it was Serbs who cut and reduced humanitarian aid for the suffering population,” Harland said. “We knew that food was partly being diverted to black market and to the Bosnian army, but you were robbing the convoys,” Harland retorted.

Pressed by Karadzic, Harland conceded that 10,000 humanitarian flights landed at Sarajevo airport during the war and only few were stopped. “I think that at the beginning of the war one plane was shot down and that it was done by (Bosnian) Croats,” said Harland, who is the sixth of 410 prosecution witnesses, said.

Harland acknowledged that some peacekeepers were involved in black marketing food and oil from humanitarian aid, mentioning in particular the Ukrainian contingent.

He conceded that weapons were being smuggled by Muslims to UN protected zones, which were supposed to be demilitarized. “Yes, there had been significant weapons shipments,” he said. “UNPROFOR had banned flights over Bosnia, but it was easy for short distance helicopter flights to avoid it.” Harland said.

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

Serbia: Over 15,000 People Receive Social Support

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, MAY 11 — Over 15,000 members of Roma population and other marginalised groups received social support in education within the framework of a joint programme dubbed “Inclusion through Education”. The programme was initiated in 2002 by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), UNICEF, Red Cross of Serbia and the Pomoc Deci NGO, reports Tanjug news agency. The results achieved in the programme presented at a press conference on Monday, show that over 97% of Roma children enrolled in schools, and that the enrollment rate for high schools increased by 20%, but that 80,000 school-aged children still do not attend school. “Inclusion through Education” programme is aimed at resolving the position of Roma and other marginalised groups by providing proper education as a long-term solution for poverty in Serbia.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algeria: Trains; Traffic Blocked by Third Day of Strike

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, MAY 11 — On the third day of strikes, rail traffic is almost entirely paralysed in Algiers and blockages are spreading through the country, due to a protest of indeterminate duration called by railway employees. According to the APS news agency, no convoy has either left from or arrived at Agha or Hussein Dey, the two main railway stations in Algiers, while there has not yet been any contact between the two railway unions and bosses of SNTF, the railway company. “Nothing has happened yet, there have been no talks with company bosses,” said Djamel Bechikhi, general secretary for communication of the national federation of railway workers, before adding that the strike had been followed by 95% of workers. The SNTF’s head of staff, Noureddine Dekhli, however, announced different figures. “The first day of strike action was followed by 40% of railway workers, the second day’s figure went up to 54%, and is today back to 40%.” Railway workers are requesting a pay increase, but Dekhli told a press conference that “the company is in a difficult financial situation and is not capable of satisfying the demands of 10,000 railway workers”. Action by railway workers is just the latest in a series of protests in Algeria. Rising inflation, now at 5.7%, widespread unemployment and the effects of the international crisis have made life even more difficult for Algerians. In the last few months, there have been a number of strikes and protests across many sectors. Teachers, doctors, factory workers and public officials have all taken to the streets demanding better pay. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

EU-Egypt: Cairo Refuses Observers for 2011 Elections

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, MAY 11 — In view of the upcoming presidential elections in 2011, the government in Cairo has refused the offer of electoral observers made by the EU, which remains faithful to its line of cooperation despite the many violations of human rights in the country that are reported by NGOs. “The Egyptian Government does not want assistance or electoral observers from the EU or from anyone else,” explained Tomas Dupla Del Moral, director of the External Relations of the European Commission with the Middle East and South Mediterranean, during a hearing of the Subcommittee on Human Rights in the European Parliament. According to the European Commission, “there are limits to freedom of association” in the country and “this causes us concern. It is necessary to eliminate obstacles to the freedom of expression.” Furthermore, in light of the delay to the law on the state of emergency, “we urge the approval of the anti-terrorism law in line with international standards”, said Dupla del Moral, underlining that the EU is involved in support democratic reforms in Egypt. “Egypt has recanted on its commitments to human rights on a number of occasions,” said Moataz El Fegiery, executive director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, “and the government is skilful in attracting aid and resources, but it will be up to the EU to decide whether to accept an advancement in relations or whether to introduce conditions. In Egypt, there is no state of rights.”(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Maghreb: Gannouchi, Integration to Fight Unemployment

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, MAY 11 — The Maghreb must make every effort toward economic integration to reduce unemployment which involves more than 3 million people in the region, 12% of the active population in the five countries. It was said by Tunisian Prime Minister, Mohammed Gannouchi, opening the forum of Maghreb businessmen. “Integration would enable a 2% increase in GDP growth rate, bringing foreign investments for over three billion US dollars to all the region and generating jobs”, he added, speaking to participants at the 2 Forum organised by the Maghreb Union of Businessmen (UME) and Tunisian business association (UTICA). Integration is an urgent necessity for Tunisia, a country which has few natural resources and a 14 per cent unemployment rate. According to UTICA President, Hedi Djilani, the lack of integration is equivalent to a two-point GDP loss and to 200,000 lost jobs each year. Based on 2009 data, commercial exchanges between Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania and Tunisia stayed at 3.3 per cent, leaving on paper the ambitious project for the Maghreb Arab Union (UMA) founded in Marrakesh in February 1989. The World Bank has calculated that a full integration would have determined, between 2005 and 2015, an important GDP increase for Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria, of 24, 27, and 34 per cent respectively. (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Local Elections, Over 90% Seats to Ben Ali’s Party

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, MAY 11 — With 4060 seats over 4478, the Democratic Constitutional Group (RCD) of President of the Republic, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, won the local elections last Sunday in Tunisia to renew 264 city councillors. The oppositions won 418 seats, that is 9.33 per cent of total. The ballot only involved the major cities and, according to Minister of the Interior, Haj Kacem, voter turn-out reached 83.46 per cent. The Democratic Progressive Party (PDP), considered the major opposition party, refused to present candidates and did not take part in the elections stating that “it would not be a real competition”. Ben Ali heads Tunisia since 1987 and in the last presidential election, in October 2009, he was elected for a fifth mandate receiving over 89 per cent of the votes. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Accepting Israel as the Jewish State

by Daniel Pipes

When a major Arab state would finally sign a peace treaty with Israel, it was long assumed, the Arab-Israeli conflict would end. The Egypt-Israel peace treaty of 1979, however, buried that expectation; it had the perverse effect of making other states and also the Egyptian populace more anti-Zionist.

The 1980s gave birth to a hope that, instead, Palestinian recognition of Israel would close the conflict. The total failure of the 1993 Declaration of Principles (also known as the Oslo Accords) then buried that expectation.

Ehud Olmert (right) demanded, without success, that Mahmoud Abbas recognize Israel as the Jewish state.

What now? Starting about 2007, a new focus has emerged, of winning acceptance of Israel as a sovereign Jewish state. Israel’s former prime minister Ehud Olmert set the terms: “I do not intend to compromise in any way over the issue of the Jewish state. This will be a condition for our recognition of a Palestinian state.”

Olmert was Israel’s worst prime minister but he got this one right. Arab-Israeli diplomacy has dealt with a myriad of subsidiary issues while tiptoeing around the conflict’s central issue: “Should there be a Jewish state?” Disagreement over this answer — rather than over Israel’s boundaries, its exercise of self defense, its control of the Temple Mount, its water consumption, its housing construction in West Bank towns, diplomatic relations with Egypt, or the existence of a Palestinian state — is the key issue.

Palestinian leaders responded, with howls of outrage, declaring that they “absolutely refused” to accept Israel as a Jewish state. They even pretended to be shocked at the notion of a state defined by religion, although their own “Constitution of the State of Palestine,” third draft, states that “Arabic and Islam are the official Palestinian language and religion.” Olmert’s efforts went nowhere.

On taking over the prime ministry in early 2009, Binyamin Netanyahu reiterated Olmert’s point in his diplomacy. Regrettably, the Obama administration endorsed the Palestinian position, again sidelining the Israeli demand. (Instead, it focuses on housing for Jews in Jerusalem. Talk about the heart of the issue.)

If Palestinian politicians reject Israel’s Jewish nature, what about the Palestinian and the broader Arab and Muslim publics? Polls and other evidence suggest a long-term average of 20 percent acceptance of Israel, whether in the Mandatory period or now, whether Muslims in Canada or Palestinians in Lebanon.

To learn more about current Arab opinion, the Middle East Forum commissioned Pechter Middle East Polls to ask a simple question of a thousand adults in each of four countries: “Islam defines [your state]; under the right circumstances, would you accept a Jewish State of Israel?” (In Lebanon, the question differed slightly: “Islam defines most states in the Middle East; under the right circumstances, would you accept a Jewish state of Israel?”)…

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

East Jerusalem: Barak, Israel Considers US Request

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, MAY 11 — Israel pays attention to the US’s expectations for Jewish settlement building projects in East Jerusalem, even though there is no official commitment to freezing them. The comments were made today by Ehud Barak, Minister for Defence, on military radio. Barak was referring to one of the main issues that must be overcome in order to launch the Israeli-Palestinian proximity talks. In reference to the plans to build 1,600 new houses in the Jewish quarter of Ramat Shlomo (the authorisation of which caused a crisis during US Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Jerusalem in March), Barak said that Israel has explained to Washington that the bureaucratic process has at least 8 stages, which means it is not likely that work would begin in the next two years. After repeating that Jerusalem is the reunified capital of Israel, Barak added that his government is however open to the expectations expressed by foreign countries, which include the US. “We,” he said, “will build in the Jewish quarters, the Arabs will build in the Arab quarters. It will all be done correctly, reasonably and will be of high quality.”(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel to Keep Nuclear ‘Ambiguity’

JERUSALEM (AFP) — Israel will keep up its longstanding policy of deliberate ambiguity over its nuclear programme, Defence Minister Ehud Barak said on Tuesday, adding that US support for the position remains unchanged.

“This is a good policy and there is no reason to change it. There is complete agreement with the United States on this question,” Barak told army radio.

He also said “there is no risk” that inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would get authorisation to inspect Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor.

“There is no threat over the traditional agreements between Israel and the United States on this issue,” said Barak.

“I met President Barack Obama and other US officials two weeks ago. All of them told me denuclearisation efforts target Iran and North Korea.”

Israel has maintained its so-called policy of deliberate ambiguity about its nuclear programme since the Jewish state inaugurated the Dimona reactor in the southern Negev desert in 1965.

Media reports have said the United States agreed in 1969 that as long as Israel did not test a nuclear weapon or publicly confirm that it had one, Washington would not press it on the issue.

Foreign military experts believe Israel has an arsenal of several hundred nuclear weapons.

Like nuclear-armed countries India, Pakistan and North Korea, Israel has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in order to avoid inspections by the Vienna-based IAEA.

But an Israeli scientist on Monday said Israel should end its decades-long silence over its reported nuclear weapons capability and open its nuclear reactor to inspection.

Uzi Even, a Tel Aviv University chemistry professor and former worker at the Dimona reactor, said Obama’s campaign for global nuclear arms reduction is a sign of changing times and Israel must get in step.

Also on Monday, however, Strategic Affairs Minister Dan Meridor dismissed as unimportant reports that Egypt had tabled a motion on Israel’s nuclear weapons status for a June meeting of the IAEA.

“From time to time this issue is raised at the IAEA and other places,” he said. It’s not the first time it’s mentioned and it’s not the first time we’ll find a way, with the rest of the world, to deal with it.”

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon[Return to headlines]

Stakelbeck: CBN Interview With Ambassador Michael Oren

I recently had the privilege to sit down for an exclusive interview with Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren.

We discussed a variety of issues, including Iran, Syria, relations with the U.S. and the status of Jerusalem.

Some select quotes from Ambassador Oren:

—”We do not believe that Israel could co-exist with a nuclear Iran.”

—The possibility of Iran sharing nuclear weapons with its terror proxies like Hezbollah is “a working assumption of the state of Israel.”

—”The Syrians…have created a dangerous situation in the Middle East. They’ve acted recklessly.”

To watch our interview, click on the link above.

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Middle East

Hollywood Newspeak: Islamists Good, Americans Bad

Phyllis Chesler’s review of Rendition

Really, why does President Obama refuse to use the words “Muslim” and “terrorist” in the same sentence? Why do so many journalists refuse to distinguish between “Islam” and “Islamism” or to admit that a war has been declared against the West, against infidels, and against civilians by radical Islamists?

Why do all our Talking Heads keep using the utterly useless phrase “The War on Terror”? Why do they insist that because most Muslims are not terrorists, Muslim terrorists are either not (true) Muslims, not (really) terrorists and, even when they have been trained by satellite or on the ground in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, or Iraq, that they are mentally ill lone wolves?

In addition to all the theories about President Obama being a “Muslim Manchurian candidate,” or at least an anti-American, Alinksy-style socialist/communist, a Jew-hater, or at least a Jewish-state-hater—I think it’s also simpler than that. I bet that both our leaders and our leading journalists all go to Hollywood movies where they are misled and indoctrinated…

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Iran: Day of Mourning in Iranian Kurdistan for the Execution of Five Political Prisoners

Protests in several cities in the region, despite the massive police presence. The most prominent of those killed was a 34 year old teacher, convicted of “taking up arms against God” after a seven minute trial.

Tehran (AsiaNews) — It is a day of mourning, today, in the Kurdish region of Iran for the executions of five political prisoners, yesterday in Tehran. According to reports in the blogs, protests have already taken place in the region and especially in Sanandaj and Kamyaran, where massive contingents of police and army were deployed yesterday. The families of the five slain also have announced their intention to protest in the capital.

According to the official announcement of the executions, the political prisoners put to death were: Farzad Kamangar, Ali Heydarian, Farhad Vakil, Shirin Alam Hooli and Mehdi Islamian. The unofficial Fars news agency reported the news quoting the Prosecutor General of Tehran.

Minutes after the news spread, Kamangar’s lawyer, Khalil Bahramian, said they had received no notification and that today they would go by the prosecutor.

Farzad Kamangar, the best known of those killed was a Kurdish teacher who was arrested in 2007. He had been subjected to months of physical and mental torture which he described in a letter to his mother (pictured). He was sentenced to death in February 2008. In February this year he had appealed the sentence.

Mehdi Islamian was arrested May 4, 2009 and spent six months in solitary confinement. His brother was put to death. Shirin Alam Hooli was arrested in May 2008 and sentenced to death in November 2009.Ali Heydarian and Farhad Vakil were arrested in 2006-2007.

According to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, the executions are a signal of government policy to strengthen their positions through terror and intimidation. The campaign highlights in particular the killing of Farzad Kamangar, 34, a teacher and social worker, sentenced to death for “having taken up arms against God,” after a trial lasting seven minutes, during which no evidence was brought against him.

“Kamangar — said a campaign spokesman, Aaron Rhodes — was arbitrarily arrested and set up to be killed in a staged trial, with no opportunity to present a defense”. “These secret executions are, in reality, nothing more than state-sanctioned murders, and provide more evidence of the Islamic Republic’s brazen contempt for international human rights standards.”

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

Israel Says N. Korea Shipping WMDs to Syria

JERUSALEM (AFP) — Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Tuesday accused nuclear power North Korea of supplying Syria with weapons of mass destruction.

Lieberman’s office quoted him as telling Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama at a meeting in Tokyo that such activity threatened to destabilise east Asia as well as the Middle East.

“The cooperation between Syria and North Korea is not focused on economic development and growth but rather on weapons of mass destruction” Lieberman said.

In evidence he cited the December 2009 seizure at Bangkok airport of an illicit North Korean arms shipment which US intelligence said was bound for an unnamed Middle East country.

Lieberman said Syria intended to pass the weapons on to the Lebanese Hezbollah militia and to the Islamic Hamas movement, which rules Gaza and has its political headquarters in Damascus.

“This cooperation endangers stability in both southeast Asia and also in the Middle East and is against all the accepted norms in the international arena,” Lieberman was quoted as telling Hatoyama.

Thai officials at the time said that acting on a tipoff from Washington they confiscated about 30 tonnes of missiles, rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons when the North Korean plane landed for refuelling in Bangkok.

Israel has accused North Korea in the past of transferring nuclear technology to Syria, which is technically in a state of war with the neighbouring Jewish state, although the two last fought openly in 1973.

Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper reported in 2007 that Israel seized North Korean nuclear material in a commando raid on a secret military site in Syria and then destroyed the site in an air attack.

Syria denied the report.

The communist regime in North Korea has denied collaborating on nuclear activity with Syria, while Israel has maintained an official silence on the reported September 2007 raid and strike.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Local Wrestlers to be Trained as Gladiators in South Turkey

The Aspendos Gladiator School is planning to train Turkish oil wrestlers to re-enact the gladiator fights of ancient Rome in the southern Province of Antalya.

The school is in the Serik district, which is also home to the ancient theater of Aspendos. The school covers 300 square meters near the site of the ancient theater and is expected to be open by the end of May.

Students will receive basic acting training to re-enact the gladiator fights and the chariot races of ancient times. Handmade costumes and weapons will be used during the shows, and there will be an 800-person spectator hall built to match Roman architectural tradition. There will also be a Roman market in the arena.

The school’s administrator, Ali Akay, said the spectators would also be provided with outfits of the time to increase the ambience, adding that the gladiators who will take part in the shows are set to begin horse-riding training in the next few days.

“We have 16 horses. Up to now, we have spent almost 300,000 Turkish Liras, and we are still holding auditions for gladiator candidates. They are supposed to be well built, and therefore we believe the best candidates will be Turkish oil wrestlers. We have already offered the roles to our local wrestlers, and we are waiting for the results.”

Akay also said 40 people will take part in the shows, which will be composed of many traditional Roman games. “We will re-enact the gladiator spirit in Anatolia with the shows we produce. Of course, we have commercial concerns, but our main motive is our love for and interest in history.”

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

New Air Refueling System Gives Israel Capacity for Strike on Iran

TEL AVIV — Israel has developed the advanced air refueling systems that could facilitate a strike on Iran.

The officials also said the development overcame several years of refusals by Washington to supply the systems required for the 1,000 kilometer flight from Israel to Iran. Officials said the Israel Air Force has overseen the development and deployment of air refueling systems for its U.S.-origin fighter-jet fleet.

“There is no doubt that the technological capabilities, which improved in recent years, have improved range and aerial refueling capabilities, and have brought about a massive improvement in the accuracy of ordnance and intelligence,” Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon said.

In a May 10 address to the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies, Ya’alon, a former military chief of staff, said the Air Force was prepared for any war with Iran. He said Israel has also enhanced air strike capability against neighboring Syria, the leading ally of Iran in the Middle East.

“This capability can be used for a war on terror in Gaza, for a war in the face of rockets from Lebanon, for war on the conventional Syrian army, and also for war on a peripheral state like Iran,” Ya’alon said.

Ya’alon, responsible for strategic affairs in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, did not identify the Israeli air refueling systems. But he said the Air Force has acquired an enhanced capability to conduct long-range air strikes.

“There is no doubt, looking at the overall situation, that we are already in a military confrontation with Iran,” Ya’alon said. “Iran is the main motivator of those attacking us.”

Since 2007, officials said, Washington has refused to approve Israeli requests for air refueling systems, advanced sensors as well as bunker-busters. They said both the previous administration of President George W. Bush and the current one of President Barack Obama have denied military equipment that could be used in an Israeli strike on Teheran’s nuclear program.

Officials said Israel was capable of developing most of the systems and weapons withheld by the United States. They said Israel has sought U.S. weapons largely because they could be purchased through American military aid.

In his address, Ya’alon said Israel was capable of paralyzing Iranian defenses. He suggested the prospect of an air strike on Iranian surface-to-air missile batteries as well as command and control centers.

“As far as I’m concerned, attack remains the best form of defense,” Ya’alon said.

           — Hat tip: Jerry Gordon[Return to headlines]

No Hotel for Nudists in Southern Turkey

The first nudist hotel in Turkey, which opened May 1 in the Datça district of the southern province of Mugla, will close due to a lack of legal documents, Dogan News Agency reported Friday.

Adaburnu Gölmar Hotel’s foreign marketing representative Ahmet Kosar said the legal documents issue broke out April 30.

In order to be granted the establishment license that allows the company the run a hotel, the architectural project must comply with the original sketches permitted to housing authorities. Due to slight differences in the original plans, authorities rejected a housing license, which is a precondition for acquiring an establishment license, according to legal practice in Turkey.

Ahmet Kosar said: “We corrected the changes demanded by the housing authorities. Provided that we apply for our housing license, we will be able to apply for a tourism facility license.” However, because of the ongoing procedures of the housing directorate, the hotel administration could acquire neither the tourism facility license nor the establishment license. The lack of these resulted in the order from the district’s Governor’s Office for the termination of all activities.

District Gov. Mustafa Kaya said the hotel should not have been allowed to host customers without completing their legal documents. Datça Mayor Sener Tokcan said their office could not grant the establishment license only due to the lack of a housing license. Kosar said the hotel would appeal.

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

South Asia

India: Bride Must Convert to Marry Muslim: Allahabad HC

ALLAHABAD: In a judgment with far-reaching implications, the Allahabad high court has ruled that a non-Muslim bride must convert to Islam to marry a Muslim. Failing that, the matrimony with a Muslim man would be void as it would contradict Islamic dicta and tenets of the Quran, the court said.

The ruling on Monday by a division bench comprising Justices Vinod Prasad and Rajesh Chandra, came on a writ petition filed by Dilbar Habib Siddiqui. The petitioner had sought quashing of an FIR registered against him on March 17 under sections 323, 366 and 363 of IPC with Naini PS, Allahabad and prayed the court not interfere in his peaceful matrimonial life with Khushboo Jaiswal. The judges directed a speedy probe into the marriage of Siddiqui and ordered the cops to separate Khushboo Jaiswal, who was lodged in Nari Niketan, and hand her over to her parents.

The primary question for adjudication was on whether the FIR could be quashed or not. A perusal of the contents of the FIR indicated that Khushboo Jaiswal was alleged to have been abducted by the petitioner three months prior to its lodging. However, the petitioner had succeeded in preventing the FIR from being registered. The FIR was filed by the girl’s mother, Sunita Jaiswal, who alleged that the petitioner had abducted her daughter. She contended that Khushboo never converted to Islam and there was also no documentary evidence to suggest so.

“In our above conclusion we are fortified by the fact that in the affidavit filed by Khusboo herself subsequent to her alleged contract marriage, she has described herself as Khushboo and not by any Islamic name. As Khushboo, she could not have contracted marriage according to Muslim customs. In those documents she has addressed herself as Khushboo Jaiswal,” the verdict said.

“Thus, what is conspicuously clear is that Khushboo Jaiswal never converted and embraced Islam and therefore her marital tie with the petitioner Dilbar Habib Siddiqui is a void marriage since the same is contrary to Islamic dicta and tenets of Holy Quran,” the court ruled.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Far East

Vietnam: Abuse and Violence Becoming New Ideals for Young Vietnamese

A government study suggests that university professors and schoolteachers use threats and tricks against rivals, thus promoting “new values” to the students they teach. Violence has become a normal kind of behaviour in society. More than six million children are exposed to violence and abuse.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) — Young people are growing up in an atmosphere that is more and more tolerant of physical and psychological violence. Each year, an estimated six million children are exposed to violence and abuses in schools. People are less and less inclined to respect certain values embodied by traditional sayings like “Love others like thyself” or “When a horse is hurt, all others do not eat grass”.

A study by the Education Department noted that university professors and school teachers use graft, threats and tricks against potential rivals to get ahead. Students tend to notice this kind of behaviour; they learn that it is more important to promote themselves rather than study. Even children as young at 5 to 11-year-olds learn to lie, beat and threaten other pupils. The problem gets worse in high school where students use weapons and knives against fellow students.

Violence is thus becoming commonplace. For young people, it is something normal, encouraged by the cutthroat model of economic development promoted by the government.

Recently, newspapers reported the story of Hao Anh, a 14-year-old boy from Ca Mau province. Sent to work on a farm to help his mother who had been abandoned by her husband, he was beaten and tortured by his employers for no apparent reason after two years of hard work. The boy sustained a 60 per cent disability level. Nothing is known about legal action taken against his tormentors.

Another case involves Con Dau parish in Da Nang diocese. Police and hoodlums hired by the authorities beat up and arrested a group of faithful protesting a government plan to develop disputed land.

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

Latin America

Chile: Pakistani Man Arrested at US Embassy

Santiago, 11 May (AKI/DAWN) — A Pakistani man was on Tuesday expected to be charged with violating gun control laws in Chile after traces of explosives were detected on his body and belongings during a visit to the US embassy, police said.

The suspicious substance was detected when the man identified as Mohamed Said Uf Rejaman, 28, went through a security checkpoint on Monday, prompting embassy staff to notify police. He was arrested.

Police experts allegedly found traces of an explosive derivative on the suspect’s hands, cell phone, bag and documentation.

The man said he did not know where it had come from and he was only at the embassy to renew his visa.

He apparently arrived in Chile about three months ago on a visa and had been working at a hotel in the capital.

Police also raided his home in downtown Santiago.

The arrest came just a week after Pakistani-born naturalised US citizen Faisal Shahzad was pulled off a plane to Dubai and arrested for allegedly leaving a sport utility vehicle rigged to explode in New York’s crowded Times Square.

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

Chile Holds Pakistani Over Explosive at U.S. Embassy

SANTIAGO (Reuters) — A Chilean judge ordered a Pakistani man to be held under an anti-terrorism law Tuesday after he was arrested in the U.S. embassy in Chile with traces of explosive on him.

The man, identified as Muhammad Saif-ur-Rehman Khan by the U.S. State Department, was arrested Monday at the embassy in Santiago.

A police source said the explosive was Tetryl, a compound used as a booster to help detonate explosive charges, adding the traces were found on his documents and mobile telephone.

A senior State Department official said Khan, a 28-year-old student who had been in Chile for four months, was invited to the embassy to be told his visa for the United States was being revoked.

The U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he was not aware of any link between Khan and the Pakistani-American accused of trying to bomb New York’s Times Square on May 1.

“Based on the information that we had, we revoked his visa,” the official said, declining to give the reason. “We are required to notify individuals when we take that action and we invited him in.”

During routine visitor screening at the embassy, Khan was found to have traces of explosives on his clothes and was later detained by Chilean police, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said at his daily briefing in Washington.

Asked if there was a legitimate reason why the man might have been exposed to explosives — such as working at a site where they are used — Crowley replied: “We’ll see.”

“At this point … we don’t think that this was a spurious hit on our detection system,” he said.

Khan denied any wrongdoing and criticized the United States.

“I have nothing to do with bombs. I have nothing to do with terrorists.. I don’t have a beard. I am an articulate man, I’m a working man, I’m a student here, I’m doing an internship in a hotel,” Khan told reporters.

“They (the United States) just want to cover up their shame and guilt for what they have done or are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said. “I have nothing to do with any chemicals. I have never seen anything like this in my life.”

A state prosecutor invoked Chile’s anti-terrorism law to prolong Khan’s detention while he is being investigated and a judge granted a five-day extension. Khan is to be held at a maximum security prison.

Police searched Khan’s lodgings in Santiago overnight but a planned court appearance was delayed. Instead, he was taken to a hospital for a routine check-up ordered by a court.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]


12 Irregulars Stopped at Patras

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, MAY 11 — The Port Authorities at Patras have arrested 12 irregular immigrants and a human trafficker, whilst they were attempting to reach Italy, hidden aboard two lorries. Ten immigrants had no papers, whereas the other two had false documents. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Immigrant-Crime Link Criticized

Milan mayor under fire for comments on jobless foreigners

(ANSA) — Milan, May 10 — Milan Mayor Letizia Moratti came under fire on Monday after linking jobless immigrants to higher crime rates. Speaking at a conference on immigration at the Milan Catholic University, Moratti said foreigners living in Italy without permits were likely to commit offences. “Illegal immigrants without regular work normally commit crimes,” said Moratti, a member of Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party. The former education minister’s remarks prompted an immediate response.

The conference audience reacted angrily, with disapproving mutters and catcalls, while numerous opposition politicians voiced criticism as the day progressed. Livia Turco, who heads the Immigration Forum of the largest opposition group the Democratic Party (PD), reprimanded Moratti for her “irresponsible words”. “These will only end up feeding oversimplifications and fears,” said Turco, saying Moratti’s role as mayor of one of Italy’s biggest cities made her remarks particularly serious.

“An irregular immigrant is not someone who commits crimes but someone who needs a residence permit,” she added.

Other PD figures expressed similar views. PD Senator Roberto Della Seta said he would expect “more responsible and moderate language” from someone in Moratti’s post. Another PD Senator Roberto Di Giovan Paolo pointed out “the number of offences committed in Italy by foreigners is far lower than those carried out by Italians”. Gaoussou Ouattara of the Radical Party called Moratti’s comments “an insult to immigrant communities”, while Senator Giuliana Carlino of the small Italy of Values party said the mayor had “seriously overstepped the mark”. “Someone who views all irregular immigrants as criminals is a racist in the purest form who fails to recognize everything that immigrants do for the city of Milan,” she said. But other members of parties within the centre-right majority coalition defended the mayor. Interior Minister Roberto Maroni, who also gave a speech at the conference, said Moratti had been misquoted by the press. “She said something else and I don’t think she quite made the comparison that is being suggested,” he said. PdL MP Margherita Boniver said the entire incident had been blown out of proportion. “The opposition has, once again, wasted no opportunity to erupt, just like the Icelandic volcano, spewing out an enormous cloud of lies and falsehoods,” said Boniver. The daylong conference in Milan’s Catholic University, attended by senior politicians, church figures and those working with immigrants, looked at several aspects of immigration in Italy. In his address, Maroni focused on a report published at the conference examining the link between immigration and urban decay. “This research clearly tells us that what happened in the French banlieues risks happening here,” said the minister, referring to rioting among first and second-generation French immigrants in 2005. The report by the Milan Catholic University’s Sociology Department, backed by the Interior Ministry, warned there was “a high risk potential of sudden explosions” in Italian cities. The report pointed out that although Italy has a shorter history of immigration than France, this was now growing at a much faster rate, up 10% in 2010 compared to 2006 levels.

Commenting on the report, Vatican ‘interior minister’ Antonio Maria Veglio stressed that integration was the best way to address current difficulties and prevent future problems. “It is critical that models of integration are studied that focus on values of mutual understanding and dialogue,” he said. “More than ever before we are in need of a society that expands its spaces of belonging and participation, while restricting those of marginalization and exclusion,” he said. The issue of integration has been in the media spotlight over recent months, following two headline incidents in which foreigners were involved in violence. The first of these saw two days of clashes between foreign farmhands and locals in a Calabrian town in January after Italian youths shot at three African labourers. Over 50 people were injured during the ensuing riots, which saw immigrants shot at, beaten with iron bars and run over, while cars were alight. The second incident involved ethnic rioting on the outskirts of Milan in February, following the murder of a 19-year-old Egyptian immigrant by a gang of Latin Americans.

This sparked a violent demonstration among North Africans who broke store windows and overturned cars in one of Milan’s most multiethnic neighbourhoods.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UN Rights Experts Criticize Arizona Law

Six U.N. human rights experts say a new law on illegal immigration in Arizona could violate international standards that are binding in the U.S.

The basic human rights regulations, signed by the U.S. and many other nations, include a rule against discrimination and one regarding the terms under which someone can be detained.

The experts say the law could result in potential discrimination against Mexicans, indigenous peoples and other minorities.

The law allows police to question anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally. Critics in the U.S. say it allows police to engage in racial profiling.

The U.N. experts said Tuesday the law indicates a “disturbing pattern of legislative activity hostile to ethnic minorities and immigrants.”

           — Hat tip: Reinhard[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

The Moynihan Report and Ongoing Family Breakdown

How often does the Office of Policy Planning and Research of the United States Department of Labor produce anything worth reading, let alone a report that reverberates 45 years later?

Such was the brilliance of Assistant Secretary of Labor Daniel Patrick Moynihan that it happened once, when he wrote his prescient 1965 report “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action.”


The report sparked a furor of continuing relevance, as James T. Patterson recounts in his new book,”Freedom Is Not Enough: The Moynihan Report and America’s Struggle Over Black Families from LBJ to Obama” [link to book at URL].

The late Moynihan…believed that “the richest inheritance any child can have is a stable, loving, disciplined family life.”He wanted to create a sense of urgency about the fact that black children were disproportionately denied this inheritance….

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