Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20100530

Financial Crisis
»Catalunya to Increase Income Tax on High Earners
»Greece: Government Gives Green Light to Privatisations
»Italy: Civil Service Pay Frozen + Fight Tax Evasion
»Spain: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Fall to ‘99 Levels
»Stiglitz: Regulate Agencies and Tax Transactions
»A Hybrid of Terrorism Emerging
»An Open Marketplace of Ideas?
»Eleven More Mental Mistakes of Obamatons
»Islam and Sharia Law Are Coming to America
»San Andreas-Like Fault Found in Eastern U.S.
»The Sestak Affair
Europe and the EU
»Amnesty Highlights “Racist” Swiss Public Debate
»Dutch Right: Shed the EU Straitjacket on Immigration
»Far Right in Europe: The Turk, Austria’s Favorite Whipping Boy
»France: Emirati Sheikh Donates 700,000 Euros to Alp Town
»GMO: European Verdict Forces Spain to Give Openness
»Italy: Minister Revokes Imam’s Political Asylum
»Italy: Priest Denies Child Sex Abuse Claims
»Italy: Papa’s Boys, Daddy’s Girls
»Italy: Honey Bid to Stop Bear Rampage
»Italy: PM’s ‘Mussolini’ Gaffe Provokes Outrage
»Pope: Cyprus: Archbishop Opponents to Visit Out of Synod
»Spain: Socialist Councillor Arrested for Insulting Princes
»Sweden: White Power Groups Set for Election Year Push
»UK Lawyers Demands ‘Ban’ On English Defence League
»UK: Children Draped in English Flags Take Part in Fascist Protest March Through Newcastle
»UK: Muslim Hate Preacher is Let Into Britain Despite Tories’ Pledge to Keep Out Radicals
»UK: Rally Against Sharia and Religious Laws and for Secularism and Universal Rights
»Vatican: Top Italian Cardinal Admits ‘Abuse Coverups’
»Vatican: Child Sex Abusers to Suffer “In Hell”
»Bosnia: Mufti Asks Politicians ‘Not to Judge’ Wartime Acts
»Kosovo: EU Will Not Recognise North Serbian Election Results
Mediterranean Union
»Italy-Algeria: S. Craxi, We Want Strategic Partnership
»Morocco: EU: Campaign in Tangiers to Enhance Medina
»Tunisia-EU: Advanced Statute Studied for Partnership
North Africa
»Coptic Church Protests Egyptian Court Ruling on Marriage License
»Spain: New Tensions With Rabat Over Ceuta and Melilla
»Tunisia: 11 Jail Sentences for Cell Funding
Israel and the Palestinians
»Palestinians Plan to Break Free From Shekels
»Settlement Boycotts, Israel-PNA Row
Middle East
»Defence: Turkey’s Aselsan to Cooperate With US Raytheon
»Gulf Investors Launch Jordan Dead Sea Property JV
»‘Hizbullah Has Syrian Missile Base’
»Israel Stations Nuclear Missile Subs Off Iran
»Officials Reveal Plan for Jeddah Metro
»Turkey: Private Pension Funds Exceed 5 Bln Euros
»Yemen: Saudi Fugitive Named Among Al-Qaeda Leaders
South Asia
»Afghanistan: Taliban Using Chemical Weapons Against US Troops? 4-5 Troops Reportedly Fall Ill
»Bangladesh Blocks Facebook Over Mohammed Cartoons
»Bangladesh: Man Beaten to Death in Mosque in “Religious Ritual”
»German President ‘Betrayed the Soldiers in Afghanistan’
»Indonesia — 2-Year-Old Boy Smokes 40 Cigarettes a Day
»Pakistan: Taliban Attacks Kill ‘At Least 70’
»Pakistan: US Considers Options for ‘Unilateral Strike’
»The Ties That Kill: Pakistan Militant Groups Uniting
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Panacea for All African Ills — Mass Transfer — Cleansing.
»Somalia: Deadly Clashes Uproot Hundreds of Thousands Says UN
»Amnesty Accuses Italy; Shameful, Frattini
»Arizona Governor Removes State’s Top Attorney From Defense of Immigration Law
»Inter-Ethnic Clashes in Centre of Athens
»Maroni: Italy a Model But Europe Has Role
»Poles, Romanians and Americans Lead Immigration to Germany
Culture Wars
»Libs Offended by Words … From Justice Earl Warren
»Turkish Society Continues to Discriminate Against Gays, Survey Says
»Mobile Phones Responsible for Disappearance of Honey Bee

Financial Crisis

Catalunya to Increase Income Tax on High Earners

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MAY 27 — The tripartite Catalan government today agreed to include an increase in income tax for high wages as part of the austerity plan that will need to be approved tomorrow. The announcement was made by Generalitat government sources, quoted by the online edition of El Periodico. The rise in income tax has long been requested of ERC and ICV, minority allies of the socialist party at the head of the alliance. As a result, the austerity plan that the Generalitat is preparing to launch will not only concern spending cuts, with the reduction in wages for public sector workers and the delay in certain investments, but also measures to increase income, although the wage brackets affected by the rise in tax have not yet been announced. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: Government Gives Green Light to Privatisations

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, MAY 26 — The Greek government has today given the green light in principle to a programme of privatisations in the sectors of energy, infrastructure, and tourism as part of efforts to deal with the emergency and replenish finances. The banking sector has been excluded. The issue, according to what was indicated by government sources quoted by the press, was discussed today at a cabinet meeting chaired by Premier George Papandreou and it was decided that the privatisation package will be presented next week. The privatisations will follow a mixed criterion that will include the total sale of assets or the selling off of a strategic portion or the maintenance of a majority stake by the State.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Civil Service Pay Frozen + Fight Tax Evasion

(ANSAmed) — ROME, MAY 26 — From cuts to ministers, to windows for pensions to tolls at motorway junctions. And there is also a tax of up to 10 euros which could be introduced for “Roma Capitale”. The mix of measures to correct finances and “partly” make up development measures, as the Economy Minister, Giulio Tremonti has said, now appears outlined. Here are the main measures of the 24-billion austerity package approved by the Italian government: — IMMEDIATE FREEZE OF CIVIL SERVICE CONTRACTS. Freeze to increases in civil servants’ salaries from this year. Freeze to last 4 years (until 2013). — CUTS TO MINISTRIES, CLAMPDOWN ON OFFICIAL CARS Cut to ministries will be 10% but on training and missions it will be up to 50%. Clampdown on official cars too. — CUTS TO PARTIES. Contributions for electoral campaigns halved and stop to annual fees if parliament dissolves before the end of its mandate. — TOWN COUNCILS AND THE FIGHT AGAINST TAX EVASION Town councils that collaborate will cash in 33% of the state taxes banked. — TAX ON HOTELS FOR “ROMA CAPITALE” An “overnight stay tax” of up to 10 euros for tourists in hotels in Rome to finance “Roma Capitale”. — SHOCK TO MANAGERS AND STOCK OPTIONS Taxes on stock options rise as they as do on managers’ and bankers bonuses that exceed three times the fixed part of their salary. — CRACKDOWN ON ILLEGAL GAMBLING Tax dodging on gambling, once found, will also affect direct taxes. The agency that substitutes the State Monopoly is to be established. — AMNESTY FOR BUILDING AND GHOST HOUSES On the other hand, the amnesty on ghost properties is confirmed. An extension of this regulation is possible. As in all amnesties, the proposal could reach Parliament. The amnesty must be done by December 31. — QUALIFICATION FOR INVALIDITY PENSION RISES TO 80%. Under this threshold, no benefits will be paid. 200,000 extra checks provided for. — ZERO REGIONAL BUSINESS TAX FOR NEW FIRMS IN THE SOUTH The regions of the south of Italy will have the possibility of establishing a tax that substitutes IRAP (Regional Business Tax) for firms set up after the entry into force of the legislative decree with the opportunity to reduce or nullify the IRAP. — COMPANY NETWORKS AND ‘ZERO BUREAUCRACY’ ZONES Tremonti has announced the creation of company networks to obtain tax benefits and to improve the capacity to enter markets, but also zones with zero bureaucracy, in which to set up a company it will be necessary to deal with one body only. — STOP TO CIVIL SERVICE TURNOVER Confirmed for a further two years — CUTS ALSO TO MAGISTRATES. Salaries will be cut by 10% for magistrates earning over 80,000 euros. A cut of 10% also for magistrates of the Governing council of the judiciary (CSM) — CIVIL SERVICE MANAGERS, CUT BY 5-10%. Salaries over 90,000 euros and over 130,000 euros in the spotlight — SUPPORT TEACHERS. Organisation frozen. — STATE COMPANY DIVIDENDS FOR REDUCTION OF DEBT From 2011, 500 million euros of dividends which come from state companies will be used for the reduction of public debt. — CUTS TO COST OF POLITICS TO FINANCE REDUNDANCY FUND The reduction in spending which will be decided by the President s Office, the Senate, the Chamber of Deputies and the Constitutional Court, in their autonomy, will serve to finance the redundancy fund. — PENSIONS: Postponement of windows for retirement for the reorganisation of bodies. What’s new is the acceleration of the timeframe for the increase to pension age to 65 for women working in the civil service which will take place in January 2016. — DEFINANCING OF UNUSED LAWS Resources will be recovered through the definancing of unproductive allocations. They will be destined to the depreciation fund of State bonds. — CUTS TO BODIES Ipsema, Ispesl and Ipost will be broken up. But also ISAE, ICE and the Italian Mountain Authority. Financing to 72 bodies will be cancelled reduced. — CONTROL OF PHARMACEUTICAL SPENDING Centralised purchasing for Local Health Authorities (ASL) to negotiate better prices with suppliers. — 13 BLN FROM AUTONOMOUS TERRITORIES The austerity package is to fall for a good part on the Regions and also on local bodies. The Regions will be asked to make cuts of over 10 billion euros in two years (2011 and 2012). Town Councils and the Provinces will be asked to make savings of 1.1 billion in 2011 and 2.1 billion in 2012. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Fall to ‘99 Levels

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MAY 25 — The economic crisis has not only had negative effects, but also a few positive repercussions on the environment. This is prompted by the news that greenhouse gas emissions in Spain fell by 8.2% compared to the previous year in 2009, due to the fall in socio-economic activity. According to figures released in a statement today by the Rural and Maritime Environment Ministry, emissions in 2009 reached 372.4 million tonnes, compared to 405.7 million in 2008. It is a “very significant” drop, according to the Climate Change Minister, Teresa Ribera, which “corresponds to a return to the levels of gas emissions recorded in 1999”. The fall in emissions mainly concerned industrial processes linked to building works, energy and road transport. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Stiglitz: Regulate Agencies and Tax Transactions

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MAY 28 — According to Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, it is the risk rating agencies that have both contributed to financial instability and played a significant role in the South-East Asian crises and were instrumental in “shoving” Europe’s economies into their present tumble. It is therefore necessary “to put an end to the authority” invested in them by nation states and to “eliminate the conflicts of interest, avoiding the situation where those who classify” a nation’s debt “have a vested interest in doing so”. Speaking in Madrid today, Stiglitz stressed the need to regulate the rating agencies. He was speaking as part of the scientific committee of the Ideas Foundation, the think tank chaired by its Deputy President, Jesus Caldera, and which today presented its report “Taxation to Halt Financial Speculation”. Other prestigious economists on the committee include Jeffrey Sachs, Nicholas Stern, André Sapir and Stephan Griffith-Jones. The study will come before the upcoming G-20 meeting in Toronto with a proposal to set up three new duties on financial institutions, particularly on profits, banking operation and financial transactions, aimed at slowing down speculation, reducing market volatility and increasing fiscal yields. Stiglitz stressed that “if it is well designed, taxation can make a contribution to economic efficiency, correcting market distortions”. In particular, a general tax on financial transactions would enable greater growth and economic efficiency, but, “above all, it would be fair”. The Nobel Economy Prize winner pointed out that “the major challenge” facing Europe is that of “the sustainability of its social model”. Measures approved by governments to find a way out of recession have so far aimed at reducing deficit which, according to the Nobel laureate, could entail a risk, for which reason countries should join forces to tackle the “adverse effects” this may bring. The objectives for action are: in the short term’ to prevent” a fresh recession and to correct weaknesses in public finances, to find “in the long term, the extremely fine balance” on which to base the sustainability of the European social model.(ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


A Hybrid of Terrorism Emerging

We live in a world of global diasporas from many countries where it takes an Internet nanosecond to connect with the “homeland” and 40 hours — not 80 days — to circuit the globe. As we try to cope with multiplying transnational terrorist threats, old ways of thinking about terrorism have to go.

Law enforcement and intelligence agencies learned a brutal lesson from 9/11. The good news is that the “firewall” that prevented the CIA and FBI from even communicating with each other over domestic threats has been removed. The interagency cooperation following the abortive Times Square attack was good enough to identify and arrest the culprit seconds before his plane was to take off for Dubai.

Yet to judge from initial reactions, the underlying political and media mind-set is still to label such incidents either as “domestic” (Tim McVeigh and Oklahoma City) or “international” (masterminded by the likes of Osama bin Laden from a hideout in Waziristan).

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg speculated that the would-be bomber could have been a domestic nut case “with a political agenda who doesn’t like the health care bill or something.” That may have been music to the ears to some on MSNBC, but Fox News was first to accurately report the authorities were zeroing in on a man of Pakistani origin.

Yet neither left nor right spin doctors did much to help viewers sift through the implications of 30-year-old Faisal Shahzad’s domestic connections as a recently naturalized American citizen and Connecticut homeowner who spent the past five months overseas. One unassailable point is known. This is an attack launched domestically by an American, but there is nothing purely “domestic” about its root causes.

Indeed, we’ve heard similar narratives before: A Muslim immigrant — probably radicalized rather than assimilated by his sojourn in “the Great Satan” (Islamist label for the USA) has his hate incubated and validated on virtual jihad Internet sites. He then uses the excuse of an overseas family as cover to transit back and forth between the U.S. and the Af-Pak region where he rubs shoulders with Taliban and/or al-Qaida agents.

The M.O. fits, not only Shahzad, but also Najibullah Zazi. That smiling doughnut peddler came to New York as a teenager born in Afghanistan. He evolved beneath the radar screen into one of the most dangerous jihadis among us, motivated by an insatiable hatred of America, Jews and Israel.

He plotted to use the same beauty salon chemicals like hydrogen peroxide used to kill 52 people on the London subway in 2005, and that may also provided a model for Shahzad’s abortive fertilizer bomb. Zazi’s e-mails also used the cover on an impending but fictitious Mideast “wedding” to plan his New York subway attack.

Among other “hybrid” terrorists was Major Nidal Hisan — Virginia-born of Palestinian parents — was recruited by broadcasts from Yemen from American-born al-Qaida propagandist, Anwar Al Awlaki. He killed 13 in the Fort Hood massacre.

Now, there is some speculation that Faisal Shahzad may have been a “mole” planted in the U.S. many years ago by his Mideast handlers. While that’s possible, it’s more likely he’s a “hybrid” terrorist, shaped by the dynamic interaction between Pakistan, to which he never really cut ties, and the U.S., whose secular, consumer culture may have deepened his alienation.

The role of the Internet’s virtual jihad websites in radicalizing people, both native and immigrant, promoting a version of Islam rooted, not in love of Allah, but in hatred of America; the prevalence of small-scale plots by lone wolves or a few individuals that may be multiplying toward “a critical mass”; and the failure of the American home front to do a better job of assimilating Mideast immigrants: these are three lessons that, almost a decade after 9/11, have yet to be fully learned.

Why is accurate vocabulary so crucial? Because without defining the enemies and the threats posed, America’s frontline institutions — from Congress to the media, to our law enforcement and military — will always be playing catch up with ever elusive and increasingly dangerous enemies, not just domestic or foreign but a new toxic hybrid.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Harold Brackman, a historian, is a consultant to the Simon Wiesenthal Center. The preceding commentary originally appeared in the Los Angeles Daily News.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

An Open Marketplace of Ideas?

Last week, just in time for Everybody Draw Mohammed Day, Apple decided to ban iSlam Muhammad, an app that featured some rather revealing passages in the Koran. Meanwhile Apple chose to leave in place BibleThumper, an app that attacked the bible. Of course those very same Koranic quotes can be found in the numerous Koran apps created by Muslims. But the double standard doesn’t stop there. Before that Apple had decided to ban a campaign App by California congressional candidate Ari David, which criticized his opponent, Congressman Henry Waxman, for being “defamatory”. But naturally you can find Robert Gibbs’ latest “defamatory” statements on the White House App.

This shouldn’t be particularly surprising as Apple does have Al Gore as one of its board members. Apple CEO Steve Jobs is a Democratic donor who has contributed to Rahm Emanuel and Nancy Pelosi. Apple fields one of the largest lobbying efforts among computer companies, spending 1.5 million over the last few years. Not only is Apple not politically neutral, it’s decidedly left of central. And it controls one of the largest mobile platforms. Its ability to censor a political App from Ari David, but not from Barack Obama is a thing that has decided implications for the future of an open marketplace of ideas.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Eleven More Mental Mistakes of Obamatons

As a study of political fallacies, part two, this article continues an examination of defective examples of speech and debate, employed here by leftist supporters of the current Obama administration. Now are added eleven more fallacies to the ten previously outlined.

A fallacy is a badly structured argument, a faux point. Fallacies are common and recognizable errors of logic which regularly pop up in human interactions. Some use fallacies by accident, whereas others do so in an effort to take advantage of simple minded folks. Politicians, being veteran communicators, tend to use fallacies on purpose, tricking listeners into agreeing with them on false grounds.

As famed German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer once observed, “It would be a very good thing if every trick could receive some short and obviously appropriate name, so that when a man used this or that particular trick , he could at once be reproved for it.” With this idea in mind, then, let’s further investigate the contrived rhetorical errors of Barack Obama, and his supporters, the indefatigably naive and unusually credulous Obamatons.

1. False Dichotomy (All or Nothing ie Either/Or)

The Fallacy of the False Dichotomy occurs when it is suggested only two outcomes are possible from a situation, and one of them is bad. So the “good” option must therefore be chosen to avoid disaster.

Example: When Obama claimed if the Stimulus wasn’t passed, the economy would crater. Again, when Barack warned if Obamacare was not passed immediately, the result would be eventual economic collapse.

Analysis: This may be Obama’s favorite fallacy. It combines the fear of apparent imminent catastrophe with an easy out — the “good” choice which must be taken to avoid chaos and destruction. Appeals to crisis and fear mongering are classic leftist ploys, ie the Chicken Little syndrome. This also an example of the Fallacy of Appeal to Fear.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Islam and Sharia Law Are Coming to America

Sharia, or Islamic law, influences the legal code in most Muslim countries. A movement to allow sharia to set regulations that pertain to marriage, divorce, inheritance, and custody, is now expanding into the United States. All Sharia is derived from two primary sources, the divine revelations set forth in the Qur’an, and the sayings and example set by the Prophet Muhammad in the Sura.

What is Sharia Law?

Also meaning “path” in Arabic, sharia guides all aspects of Muslim life including daily routines, familial and religious obligations, and financial dealings. It is derived primarily from the Qur’an and the Sunna, the sayings, practices, and teachings of the Prophet Mohammed.

Marriage and divorce are the most significant aspects of sharia, but criminal law is the most controversial. In sharia, there are categories of offenses.

The chief elements of Sharia Law are first: a belief that women are deficient in their natural and “innate” potentials and abilities, including their psychological-makeup and intellectual capacity. The Islamic Penal Codes are based on violence in its most primitive forms. These not only authorize organized state violence, but also encourage male violence against women within the family and in society. While precise statistics are scarce, the UN estimates thousands of women are killed annually in the family honor.Â

While the Islamic Penal Codes have born down a tremendous injustice on the women they are not just second-class citizens, half a man, but at times their very existence is disregarded. It has been pointed out that our women have managed to achieve equality in one field only: equal right to imprisonment, exile, torture, being killed, and now being slaughtered.

Second, a belief in a social and family order where men must be guardians over women, and women must submit.

Third, a belief in an unequal system of rights and consequently, wherever the question of the reproduction of such an order is concerned, of a system of punishment that is also unequal.

1. Islam commands that drinkers and gamblers should be whipped. Sura 5:90-91.

2. Islam allows husbands to beat their wives. Qur’an, 4:34

3. Islam allows an injured plaintiff to exact legal revenge, physical eye for physical eye. Qur’an, 5:45

4. Islam commands that a male and female thief must have a hand cut off. Qur’an, 5:38

5. Islam commands that highway robbers should be crucified or mutilated. Qur’an, 5:33. As an alternative, the convicted may have a hand and the opposite foot cut off while being banished from the land instead of crucifixion.

6. Islam commands that Homosexuals be executed. Abdu Dawud no. 447. Burning to death, stoned while against a wall, or stoned and thrown over a cliff.

7. Islam orders unmarried fornicators to be whipped and adulterers to be stoned to death. Qur’an, 24-6

8. Islam orders death for Muslim and possible death for non—Muslim critics of Muhammad and the Quran and even sharia itself.

9. Islam orders apostates to be killed. Sura 9:11-12

10. Islam commands offensive and aggressive and unjust jihad

Islam commands offensive and aggressive and unjust jihad. This does not allow for the freedom of religion or conscience. People of the Book (Jews and Christians) had three options (Sura 9:29): fight and die; convert and pay a forced ‘charity’ or zakat tax; or keep their Biblical faith and pay a jizya or poll tax. The last two options mean that money flows into the Islamic treasury.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

San Andreas-Like Fault Found in Eastern U.S.

Fault, from New York to Alabama, may be 500 million years old

For 30 years geologists have been puzzled by a remarkably straight magnetic line that runs between New York and Alabama along the Appalachians.

A more recent aerial magnetic survey of the Alabama end of the line suggests that it’s probably a 500-million-year-old San Andreas-style fault that appears to have slipped 137 miles to the right in the distant past.

If so, it’s no surprise that the most dangerous part of the eastern Tennessee seismic zone is right next to part of this magnetic line and has the second-highest earthquake frequency in the eastern United States.

Story continues below ?



“It’s most likely a strike-slip fault,” said Mark Steltenpohl of the University of Alabama at Auburn. “But it’s all buried.”

The fault is invisible from the surface and there is very little information about it because no one has actually drilled down through it to investigate, Steltenpohl told Discovery News.

That would, in fact, be pretty hard to do, since the fault zone is very narrow and it would be hard to find with a drill using just magnetic maps to set up a drill rig.

“It’s almost a needle in a haystack,” said Steltenpohl.

Both steep and deep

The New York-Alabama Lineament, as geologists call it, was first revealed by aerial magnetic mapping in 1978. Since then people have looked at smaller sections of it to try and understand it, with little success. Seismic surveys across the feature indicated it is very steep and runs very deep.

“It’s been sort of enigmatic,” said U.S. Geological Survey geologist Wright Horton, a co-author with Steltenpohl on a paper in the June issue of the journal Geology about the fault.

The key to seeing it as a strike-slip fault is detecting features that are cut off by the fault and offset. Those sorts of offsets were finally found in maps from a 2002 aerial magnetic survey of the Alabama part of the lineament, said Horton.

“Once we got the south end of it pinned down, the rest of it fell into place,” Horton said.

Likely not active

The fact that the fault has not cut through the layers of earth above it and shown itself on the Earth’s present surface suggests it’s not active and so people can probably rest easy.

However, the fault and fractures related to it — like the probably similarly-ancient faults of eastern Tennessee — are not incapable of quakes. In fact they are perfect places for stresses in the crust to be released, so long as they are weakened by water, explained geophysicist John Costain of Virginia Tech.

“If the lineament is there, then you’re sure to get earthquakes more than otherwise,” said Costain.

That’s because faults, however ancient can serve as conduits for water that weakens fault zones and can cause regional stresses in the crust to be relieved as an earthquake.

This is, in fact, the likely secret to how all big and small mid-continent quakes can happen, so far from the more active and obvious zones where tectonic plates are smashing together, he explained.

“The crust is full of fluids and looking for an excuse to break,” said Costain.

The New York-Alabama Lineament is one more place where that can happen.

[Return to headlines]

The Sestak Affair

“This is punishable by prison. This is a felony.” — Rep. Darrell Issa

Due to the recent equivocations from the Obama White House and the apparent unwillingness by the mainstream media to investigate this matter, the majority of Americans are unaware of the seriousness of the Obama administration’s alleged actions involving Joseph Sestak. If proven, the reported actions of the Obama administration are clear violations of three federal laws[i]. The impact and fallout from documented violations, as well as the refusal of the Holder Justice Department to appoint a Special Counsel to investigate this matter, have the potential to eclipse the Watergate scandal of the early 1970’s — it is that serious.

In an attempt to retain as much political control over Congress during the 2010 midterm elections, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel dispatched William Clinton and lawyer Doug Band to meet with senatorial candidate Joseph Sestak who was running against Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania. In exchange for dropping out of the race, Sestak was offered a position with the administration. It was reasoned that should Sestak accept, Specter would be unopposed in the primary and have a much better chance of retaining his senatorial seat. The meetings reportedly took place in June and July of last year.

Based on open source reports stemming back to February, it is apparent that Sestak had no idea that such overtures are illegal as he readily admitted the meeting and job offer in a February 18, 2010 interview with Philadelphia TV newscaster Larry Kane (documented here).

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Amnesty Highlights “Racist” Swiss Public Debate

Swiss public discourse is increasingly racist and xenophobic, according to Amnesty International in its annual round-up of global human rights abuses.

While Switzerland’s marks were good in the wider picture — at least 111 countries were accused of torture — there was still room for improvement. In particular, Amnesty criticised the November vote to ban the construction of minarets as well as the campaign leading up to it.

“That vote was a bad example — it’s now becoming a public and political theme in other countries in Europe,” Manon Schick from the human rights organisation’s Swiss section told

“Of course it’s damaging Switzerland’s image, but what’s more concerning for us is that it’s damaging the harmony between religions in Switzerland. A lot of Muslims felt stigmatised last year during the campaign and this could have very long-term repercussions in Switzerland.”

In the 2010 report, “The state of the world’s human rights”, Amnesty noted that the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) had expressed concern that “an initiative that infringes human rights can be put to a vote”.

The ECRI said in its annual report in September that it was also concerned by increasingly racist and xenophobic political language, in particular involving the rightwing Swiss People’s Party. The People’s Party has used distinctive posters in its recent campaigns, for example white sheep kicking a black sheep off the Swiss flag.

The commission questioned the effectiveness of the current criminal law against racism and called for improved training for legal professionals in its application.

“Two faces”

Amnesty also echoed concerns by the United Nations Human Rights Committee in October that people whose asylum applications had been rejected were subjected to inadequate living conditions and lacked access to health care.

“Some have to live on the street — even if Switzerland is obliged to give them what we call emergency help,” Schick said.

“This doesn’t mean that in every part of Switzerland the situation is the same — in some cantons it’s OK, people are getting some food and a place to sleep — but in others if you don’t have a family, you might not get a place to sleep or any help, even food. And these people have to rely on help from private people or associations.”

Also, in July the cabinet decided that the creation of an independent national human rights institution was “premature” and instead authorised the creation of a university-based human rights centre as a pilot project.

“Most other developed countries have such an institution. This shows that Switzerland still has two faces: an external one for the world saying ‘look, we’re champions of human rights, we have many international organisations in Switzerland, the Human Rights Council in Geneva’; but internally we don’t take any measures, even if they are recommended by UN bodies to implement human rights.”

Amnesty also expressed concern about ongoing reports of police ill-treatment, in particular against asylum seekers and migrants.

One incident that will feature in the 2011 report is the case of the deported Nigerian drug dealer who in March died on a Zurich runway after being forcibly restrained for a special flight back to Lagos.

“This is a very problematic issue that shows that the measures taken by Switzerland after the two [similar] deaths in 1999 and 2001 were insufficient to guarantee the life of these people,” Schick said.

Good news

It wasn’t all bad news though for Switzerland, which compared with its alphabetical neighbours in the report, Sweden and Syria, came off worse than the former but considerably better than the latter.

“One piece of good news is that Switzerland accepted three ex-detainees of Guantanamo [one Uzbek and two Uighurs] who are now in Switzerland and working hard to have a new life,” she said.

“I think this was a sign from Switzerland to say ‘OK we always criticise the United States in the war on terror, but we also help the US and President Obama to close down Guantanamo’. And even if it’s not done yet, there are fewer people there than a year ago.”

Schick added that Switzerland was the only Western country to take people from the Uighur Muslim minority in China. “This was a subject of diplomatic conflict with China, but in the end the cabinet decided to respect human rights and not put the interests with China first. This was a great decision.”

Finally, a federal law entered into force at the beginning of the year which provides that all negative decisions on naturalisation must state why and be open to appeal.

“Everyone can now appeal. This doesn’t mean that this person will automatically get Swiss citizenship, but it’s more respectful of people’s rights to have the opportunity to appeal,” she said.

“And surely it also helps to combat discrimination in these [naturalisation] procedures, because a lot of people who were refused came from the Balkans while people coming from other European countries were never refused.”

According to its 2007 report, AI has 2.2 million members or supporters in more than 150 countries.

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

Dutch Right: Shed the EU Straitjacket on Immigration

There is a lot of political debate in the Netherlands about immigration, but European agreements leave little room for manoeuvre. Stricter policy would mean retreating from Europe.

By Wilmer Heck and Michel Kerres

For years, the right-wing liberal VVD party has wanted stricter immigration rules in the Netherlands. But members of parliament Paul de Krom and Stef Blok have come up against a wall of European law. If European rules are the problem, they have now decided, these rules will have to be changed. The VVD leaders complain that European law has been deemed inviolable and resistance to European treaties is seen as sacrilege.

“Piet Hein Donner and Ernst Hirsch Ballin talk about European law as if it’s the Ten Commandments,” VVD campaign leader Blok said of the current Christian Democrat ministers of social affairs and justice.

“If ministers can adopt treaties,” De Krom said, “then they can also change them.” And if Europe will not change the rules, he added, then the Netherlands should pull out of European regulations through a so-called opt-out.

Forced to the background

Immigration, the main political point of contention in the 21st century, has played a remarkably modest role in the Dutch elections until now. The economic crisis and budget cuts have forced the subject to the background in the campaign for the June 9 election. But, for the VVD, it remains important. They have been trying for years to curb immigration by the poor and uneducated but are hampered by Europe. The Netherlands has accepted international agreements that drastically limit the freedom of national politicians.

The right-wing liberals are not alone. Geert Wilders’ populist PVV has proposals that to go even further in limiting immigration, many of which are in conflict with European law. The Christian Democrats, Labour and Socialist parties also have proposals in their election manifestos that are at odds with European agreements, experts say.


In 2009, 147,000 people migrated to the Netherlands, most of them from other EU countries (90,000 in 2008). There were 16,000 asylum requests and 29,000 requests for family reunion. After a drop in numbers in the first half of the decade, the number of immigrants has been rising since 2006.

“We should form coalitions with countries in north-west Europe and southern countries like Spain and Greece, which have great problems with illegal immigration, and take on the European rules together,” De Krom said. “The new Dutch government should tackle this from day one. If it doesn’t work, then we’ll advocate an opt-out.”

This may sound logical, but is it possible?

Some European agreements are revisited from time to time. A new Dutch government can immediately negotiate a revision of the European guidelines on family reunification. Other international agreements, such as fundamental rights, are set in concrete. And a country can only stipulate an opt-out during discussions on new rules. The Lisbon Treaty, for example, doesn’t offer a get-out. An opt-out for the Netherlands is only possible if the Treaty is renegotiated, with the ratification of all 27 EU nations.

Unforeseen by the lawmakers

The right-wing liberals want to take on decisions enshrined in a handful of UN treaties, a too-liberal interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), and EU rules and treaties. They are lined up against a library of law books and dozens of judges who interpret the rules.

“We think basic rights are important and we’re not against the treaties,” said De Krom. “But we are against the fact that treaties are interpreted in a way unforeseen by the lawmakers. In these cases, laws need repairing and treaties revising.”

“Dutch immigration law is increasingly determined by international treaties,” said Pieter Boeles, professor emeritus of immigration law in Leiden. International treaties have a big influence on the most controversial immigrant groups: asylum seekers and marriage immigrants.

Many of the rules that now annoy the VVD were drafted without any thought about immigration. Some of them date from before the mass movements of people in Europe, others from a time when immigration was not seen as a problem. But there have also been recent EU rules.

European courts involved

The European Convention on Human Rights was introduced in 1950, when immigration was not an issue. The convention contains classic rights such as a ban on slavery and the right to respect for family life. It only became complicated when the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg decided that this treaty should not only apply to the citizens of the EU but also to everyone living there. Boeles: “You could no longer send someone back to a dangerous country, nor someone who has a family here.”

The law on family reunion in the Netherlands, however, existed before the Strasbourg-court got involved. Originally, the Netherlands assumed that foreign workers who came in the 1950s and 1960s would be here temporarily and could live without a family. When that proved unrealistic, the Netherlands drew up its own rules on family reunification.

According to Boeles, international law played little role in Dutch immigration rules until the end of the 1980s. After that, the jurisprudence of the court in Strasbourg began to be felt. Meanwhile, over the years, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg has widely extended the right to the free movement of people. It now extends to family members without EU nationality. This is why people from non-EU countries have the right to be with their relatives in the EU.

The 1997 Amsterdam Treaty, which extended the reach of the EU into the field of immigration, the replacement of national reunification laws with European law in 2003, and the incorporation of the ECHR and other international treaties in the powerful body of European law gave migrant rights a strong anchor. “It’s remarkable how little people understand the revolutionary changes that took place shortly after the millennium,” Boeles said. “Part of the European electorate doesn’t want this at all and feels caught in a straitjacket.”

The question is whether the Netherlands is strong enough to cast off this straitjacket. “If it can get a majority during the revision of a guideline it can force a more restrictive policy ,” said Boeles. “And the court is not insensitive to the mood of society. But if you really want to get out, then you’ll have to jettison rather a lot of your own values. Even if you reject all the treaties, you’re still not allowed to discriminate. You’d become a sort of Albania, small and isolated.”

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

Far Right in Europe: The Turk, Austria’s Favorite Whipping Boy

In the prosperous Austrian state of Vorarlberg, the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) has harvested more than 20% of the vote by brandishing the spectre of “an invasion” of Turkish migrants who would threaten “the social peace.”

Joëlle Stolz

Up until the middle of the 1950s, you could still see a swastika carved into the rock face of the mountain that overshadows Hohenems Castle. When they took power in 1938, the Nazi militants in the town in Vorarlberg at the western tip of Austria announced the end of “Jewish domination:” the forces of national-socialism were to restore the tonic climate of the Alps, which had become tainted by the accumulated foul air of three centuries of foreign influence. Today, most of the town’s 15,000 residents are unaware that Marktstrasse (Market Street) used to be named Christengasse (Christian Street), and what is now Schweizergasse (Swiss Street), which is lined with elegant houses, used to be called Judengasse (Jewish Street). The textile factory owned by the Rosenthal Brothers, who were pioneers in the printed cotton industry, was closed long ago — and the rich Jewish families of Hohenems, whose renown extended as far as Alexandria and Constantinople, are no more than a memory.

Today the worst fears of the part of the local population are focused on a fresh target. “Turkish immigrants are the main cause of the problem,” explains Horst Obwegeser, age 47, the boss of an electrical services company and head of the local branch of the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), the main right-wing populist party. “We don’t want to become a little Istanbul,” he says. His alternately paranoid and threatening discourse — parents who do not speak German at home should be “sanctioned,” and their children sent to “special schools” — is shared by a significant proportion of his fellow citizens. In local elections on 14 March, the FPÖ obtained 22.66% of the vote in Hohenems (an increase of 9.79% over 2005). In 2008 general elections, the party took 17.5% of the national vote, and it now hovers at around 20% in the polls. Bordering the Alemannic area around Lake Constance, the minuscule state of Vorarlberg is the most prosperous in Austria, and a cradle for cutting-edge companies. In this privileged region, the omnipresent mountains provide a backdrop for a collective identity fueled by xenophobic rhetoric.

The West belongs to Christians

There is no denying the link between the success of the anti-minaret referendum in Switzerland organized by Christoph Blocher’s Swiss People’s Party (which is promoted by the same communications agency as the FPÖ), and recent incidents that have troubled neighbouring Liechtenstein. The press in Vaduz suspects a core group of extremists of orchestrating the petrol-bombing of a Turkish restaurant and buildings housing migrants in late February. An attack on a Turkish schoolboy, who was hit over the head with a bottle in a bus, has also been widely reported. In late 2008, a gang of neo-Nazis from Liechtenstein and Switzerland succeeded in provoking a pitched battle with the Turkish minority, which resulted in two cases of serious injury. It is a lot for a country with a population of 35,800.

“The West belongs to Christians” is one of the main slogans favoured by the FPÖ, which is scandalized by the fact that Islam, with more than half a million believers, has now become the second most widely practiced religion in Austria. Like the state of Carinthia, the former stronghold of populist politician Jörg Haider, Vorarlberg adopted special planning regulations in 2008 to outlaw buildings that are not ortsüblich, or “typically local” — in other words a ban on minarets. On the eve of general elections in September of the same year and again in the run-up to regional elections in Vorarlberg in 2009, the Jewish Museum of Hohenems responded by organizing two exhibitions provocatively entitled “How to build a typically local minaret?” — an initiative which prompted a verbal attack on the museum’s German director Hanno Loewy, described by an FPÖ leader as “an exiled Jew from America.” “When the museum opened in 1991, it was given a brief to contribute to multi-cultural society. Some people may have a problem with it, but I was simply fulfilling that mandate explains,” Mr Loewy.

We will soon have a Turkish mayor

Like many in the FPÖ, Mr Obwegeser alludes to an Überfremdung, or “alienation” caused by foreigners that will undermine the social peace. “In the kindergartens, 60% of the children are from immigrant families, “ which have a higher birth rate than native Austrians. There are 30,000 people of Turkish origin in Vorarlberg. “We account for 16% of the population of the regional state, but 25% of the school going population,” points out Attila Dincer, the general secretary of the Vorarlberg Turkish platform, which includes a dozen different organizations. He also adds that there are close to 600 companies managed by Turks, which employ 4,000 people.

You only have to observe the affable Mr Dincer, talking volubly in English with the American ambassador to Austria at a function organized by the Jewish museum, to realize the significant political potential of this community which is putting down roots in Vorarlberg just as the community of Italian migrants did in the past. In 2005, there were seven candidates of foreign origin on the lists for election in the small Austrian state. On 14 March 2009, that number had risen to 76, and Austria’s new citizens had a significant influence on the outcome of the elections thanks to the country’s proportional representation voting system. “At this rate, we will soon have a Turkish mayor!” exclaims an alarmed Mr Obwegeser, who continues to bemoan the fate of Vorarlberg which already has a Muslim cemetery: located not far from the historic Jewish cemetery in Hohenems.

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

France: Emirati Sheikh Donates 700,000 Euros to Alp Town

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, MAY 25 — The French alpine town of Thonon-les-Bains has received a six-figure surprise after the announcement that a 700,000 euros donation had been given to the town by a sheikh close to the royal family of the United Arab Emirates. The mayor of the town, Jean Denais, said that the unexpected gesture had caught him by surprise, adding that the sheikh is thought to have particularly enjoyed his stay in the town situated on Lake Geneva, which is known for its thermal baths. The benefactor’s donation is designed to contribute to the financing of Thonon-les-Bains’s park, which lies on the bank of the lake, and by which he was particularly impressed. According to the regional newspaper Le Dauphiné Liberé, the sheikh, whose identity has not been revealed, had already bought a property in the same town worth 13 million euros in the summer of 2008. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

GMO: European Verdict Forces Spain to Give Openness

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MAY 28 — Spain is the only country in the European Union that produces genetically modified organisms (GMO) on a vast scale, 68% of GMO produced in the EU. So far the country had never published a list of terrains where these crops are grown experimentally. Now, thanks to a verdict by the European Court of Justice, the Spanish government has been forced to make it easier to access data on the cultivation of GMO, as the environmental association Friends of Earth announced. In 2008 Spain grew 80,000 hectares of transgenic corn. In 2010, multinationals in the food sector are experimenting with genetically modified corn, beet and cotton on 64 locations, mainly in the regions of Aragon, Castile, Leon and Andalusia. “Farmers have the right to be informed to be able to take measures against contamination and to avoid possible health damage”, the head of agriculture of the Friends of Earth association, David Sanchez, explained to the press. The battle to reach this success started in 2004, when a farmer in the north of the French Alsace, Pierre Alzelvandre, asked his major in vain for information about the location of transgenic cultivations in the municipality. He wanted to study the possible effect of these cultivations on his own. The administration refused to give him the information, after which the farmer turned to the European Court of Justice. The verdict of the European Court, from February 2009, reads that the location of experimental fields with transgenic crops must be made public. It underlines that the 2001 EU directive defends transparency in the liberalisation of GMO products. With this verdict in the hand, Spanish environmental organisations asked the government to apply the jurisprudence. “The Bio-safety Commission”, the representative of Friends of Earth points out, “has asked the legal services for their opinion to make sure that the government is forced to supply the requested information”. The fact that the information is now in the open “ends 12 years of secrecy and helps farmers who can now demand to end dangerous experiments”, explained the head of the transgenic campaign of Greenpeace, Felipe Carrasco, in a statement to the newspaper ‘20 minutos’. Starting with the ‘mapping’ of GMO cultivations, the environmental associations will promote legal action. They point out that the Spanish legislation only allows corn cultivation for food production and that Spain is the only EU country that produces genetically modified cereals on a large scale. They claim that there are no scientific guarantees for the safety of these products for consumer health and for the environment on the medium term. The ecologists denounce the lack of research on the possible environmental impact of experimental cultivations. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Minister Revokes Imam’s Political Asylum

Varese, 28 May (AKI) — Italy’s interior minister Roberto Maroni revoked the political asylum granted to a radical Islamist preacher after he was jailed on terrorism charges. Egyptian-born imam Abu Imad will be deported as soon has served a 44-month sentence which he began last month, Maroni said.

“When this individual has finished serving his sentence, he will be expelled from Italian soil,” Maroni stated.

Imad is currently detained at Benevento jail in southern Italy.

Maroni’s announcement came a day after Imad was granted asylum — two weeks after Italy’s highest court, the Court of Cassation on 28 April upheld a previous prison sentence imposed on Imad by a Milan court in December 2007.

Imad’s own lawyer, Carmelo Scambia, said on Thursday he was “amazed” at the granting of asylum to his client, which Imad had requested in 1995.

Imad was until March last year an imam at the northern Italian city of Milan’s central mosque, which has been linked to Islamist terrorism several times.

Imad and 10 other defendants had allegedly set up a Salafite cell that was active in Milan and elsewhere in the northern Lombardy region. Imad’s co-defendants were also jailed.

The cell’s mission is believed to have been recruiting suicide bombers, trafficking illegal immigrants and to have been responsible for indoctrination of recruits in radical jihadist ideology.

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

Italy: Priest Denies Child Sex Abuse Claims

Milan, 28 May (AKI) — An elderly Italian priest accused of sexually abusing a 13-year-old boy has rejected the claims. Milan prosecutor Giuseppe Vanore on Friday questioned 73-year-old Domenico Pezzini in San Vittore prison in Milan.

Pezzini’s lawyer Mario Zanchetti declined to comment and no other details were released about the priest’s interrogation.

Pezzini was arrested by police on Monday after claims that he sexually abused the boy — now an adult — over a three-year period.

He reportedly befriended the impoverished boy in a park near Milan.

According to investigators he provided the boy with money and helped him to study, while starting a three-year sexual relationship with him.

During a search of Pezzini’s home in Milan, police found a large collection of paedophile pornography, according to Italian news reports.

Pezzini is an activist in the Italian homosexual community and has worked to build closer bonds between the community and the conservative Catholic Church, according to news reports.

The church has been engulfed in a vast scandal involving accusations of sex abuse by paedophile priests in various countries including the United States, Ireland, Germany, Austria, and Italy.

The Vatican has been accused of covering up abuse by not taking action to removing suspected paedophile priests or turning them over to police.

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

Italy: Papa’s Boys, Daddy’s Girls

According to a recent OECD study, Italy ranks right after the UK as the wealthy nation in which a father’s income and educational attainments most heavily determine his sons’ success. And this dearth of social mobility is a drag on economic growth, notes the OECD.

Maurizio Ricci

In a fossilised, immobile society of all but immutable socioeconomic hierarchies, merit counts for little and opportunities to ascend the social ladder are few and far between. This is hardly news to us, but now it’s been statistically corroborated by the OECD in a soon-to-be-released study called “A Family Affair”, which, citing statistics galore, reviews intergenerational social mobility across the world’s wealthiest nations.

So how much of a wallop does papa’s paycheck pack? Well, almost 50% in Italy. This, according to the OECD’s figures, is the extent to which Italian children’s earnings reflects their parents’. In Italy, in other words, half of the income advantage a high-earning father has over a low-earning father is automatically passed on to his son, regardless of the latter’s aptitudes and personal history. The percentage is a notch higher in Britain and a tad lower in France and the United States. In Denmark, Australia and Norway, this “hereditary” transmission is under 20 per cent.

A huge waste of human resources

The figures show how much incomes vary according to family background. Having a dad with a university degree, for instance, is a sort of insurance policy. In Italy (far more so than in France or the UK), an engineer’s son is nearly 60% more likely to go to university, just as dad did, than a worker’s son, and over 30% more likely than an accountant’s son. Moreover, a college-educated family generally provides a culturally and socially more propitious background: whether or not he earns a degree himself, the son of an Italian college graduate will earn, on average, 50% more money than a man whose father never went to college. The only places where the situation is worse for those whose fathers left school early on are Portugal and Great Britain. This “scholastic endowment” comes to only 20% in France, and not even 10% in Austria and Denmark.

A system in which everyone is and remains a “papa’s son”, for better or worse, poses an economic problem in rich countries: it means a huge waste of human resources. “First,” says the study, “less mobile societies are more likely to waste or misallocate human skills and talents. Second, lack of equal opportunity may affect the motivation, effort and, ultimately, the productivity of citizens, with adverse effects on the overall efficiency and the growth potential of the economy.” The OECD concludes that the greater the social inequalities in a given country, the more immobile that society is going to be. And Italy is one of the Western countries with the highest levels of inequality.

Earnings of the father visited upon the son

On the other hand, Italy (in contrast to the US, France, Germany and Great Britain, for instance) is one of the countries where family background has the least influence on scholastic performance: the engineer’s son does not do better on a maths test than the worker’s son. The only places that show less family correlation in scholastic aptitude are Canada, South Korea and some of the Nordic countries. In all likelihood, this is the upshot of a substantially homogeneous and socially integrated public school system, a system without any yawning gulfs between different types of secondary schools and in which the engineer’s boy and the worker’s boy are liable to be classmates. The study shows that everyone stands to gain from increasing the social mix in schools, which can improve the performance of disadvantaged students without adversely affecting overall results. So the OECD stresses the importance of the school system in offsetting the influence of family background on educational achievement.

Not only is much of the future already engraved on Daddy’s paycheck, but there seems to be little point in bothering to study: according to the economists, career advancement in Italy tends to depend more on seniority and experience than on levels of competence or training. Intergenerational mobility in Italy is low because intragenerational mobility is too. To turn a scriptural phrase, the earnings of the father are visited upon the son: in our day, in our country, quantum leaps from rags to riches or vice-versa remain a statistical anomaly.

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

Italy: Honey Bid to Stop Bear Rampage

Sweet tooth will help Dino mend his ways, producer says

(ANSA) — Vicenza, May 28 — A northern Italian honey producer thinks a taste of its product will stop a bear who has been spreading panic among farmers on the famed Asiago plateau.

‘Dino’, a 350kg brown bear, has been killing livestock in the picturesque mountain area for about a year, leaving the remains of chicken, rabbits and even donkeys in his wake.

But unsurprisingly he has also shown a sweet tooth, plundering several honey farms.

Amid calls to stop him, Facebook pages have sprung up for and against the animal, such as “Hands Off Dino” and “Dino Go Home”.

Many Asiago farmers have called for him to be captured and caged while some have even urged forest rangers to put him down.

But local honey producer Andrea Rigoni said he was sure “enough honey” would solve the Dino problem.

“Even though he’s split Italy down the middle, he’s a media star for Asiago and we need him. We’re ready to give him a quintal (100kg) of our stuff and we’re sure it’ll put him back on the right track”.

“He’s not a bad animal, he’s just hungry.

“Once he samples our organic honey he’ll mend his ways”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: PM’s ‘Mussolini’ Gaffe Provokes Outrage

Rome, 28 May (AKI) — Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has provoked a fierce political debate in Italy after complaining he lacked the power of former fascist dictator Benito Mussolini as head of the government. Berlusconi who has reputation for public gaffes inside and outside Italy made his comments at a news conference at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris on Thursday.

“I will dare to quote you a phrase from someone considered a dictator, a great, powerful dictator, Benito Mussolini,” he said. “In his diary, I recently read this phrase. ‘They say I have power. It isn’t true. Maybe my party officials do. But I don’t know. All I can do is say to my horse go right or left. And I have to be happy with that.’“

Berlusconi’s comments provoked a wave of criticism from his opponents, including politicians from the centre-left Democratic Party.

“No-one can allow him to trivialise or distort history,” Maurizio Migliavacca co-ordinator of the PD told the Italian daily La Repubblica.

Head of the left-leaning Italy of Values party and former prosecutor, Antonio Di Pietro, said Berlusconi had said something and other Italians could agree with for the first time.

“Finally Berlusconi said something I share: he is exactly the same as Mussolini,” Di Pietro told reporters in Rome.

“He says he has no power, but with the little power he has, he is destroying Italy as his predecessor did.”

Beppe Vacca, former communist and head of the Gramsci Institute, also criticised Berlusconi over his comments while sarcastically remarking it was a “marked improvement in quality”.

The prime minister’s office sought to minimise the impact of his controversial comments and told Italian reporters it was “a simple joke”.

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

Pope: Cyprus: Archbishop Opponents to Visit Out of Synod

(ANSAmed) — NICOSIA, MAY 28 — Archbishop Chrisostomos II, Primate of the powerful Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus, has had enough of those expressing their displeasure at the Pope’s visit to the island and in the manner to which he is accustomed has laid down the law. If they do not change their tune, he will expel them from the Holy Synod — the highest authority of the local church — for one year. Thus comes the latest development in an affair that has seen at least five high prelates of the Synod and the Primate facing off in the first serious split the high ranks of the Church of Cyprus has seen since the election of Chrisostomos in 2006. As he has announced to the popular local daily Phileleftheros, Chrisostomos has resolved to bring to their senses (especially the combatant Archbishop of Limassol, Athanasios, who called the Pope “a heretic”) those who have come out against the arrival of Benedict XVI on the island. So, the Primate has resolve, whoever boycotts the festivities to welcome the Pope and does not show up at the ceremony in Pafos scheduled for the afternoon of June 4, will be expelled from the Synod for the period of one year. Although the majority of Cypriots are of Greek-Orthodox faith, the Pope’s visit (the first by a Pope in 2,000 years) is nonetheless felt to be an historic event bringing prestige to the whole island, whose press is following any matters related to the Pope’s arrival with interest. And security has become a hot topic ever since the news broke forty-eight hours ago that groups of Greek-Orthodox fanatics might be arriving from Greece to add strong-arm tactics to local demonstrations against the Pope. This has led the local Cypriot authorities to arrange for strict security to guarantee that the visit goes smoothly, mobilising 400 police officers for the task. Several “security areas” have also been set up around the Pope. The first of these, called the “First Zone” will be the physical space immediately surrounding the Pope, which is to be watched over by his Vatican security staff, the local press say. Immediately around the “First Zone” comes the “Second Zone” which will be under the control of dozens of armed anti-terrorist agents (it is not clear whether they will be in uniform or plain clothes) and Cyprus’ secret services (the KYP). To seal the net, select marksmen will be positioned on the rooftops surrounding all the open areas the Pope visits. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain: Socialist Councillor Arrested for Insulting Princes

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MAY 26 — The Basque police arrested a Socialist Councillor of Berriz, a small town in Vizcaya, Basque Country, for having insulted the Princes of the Asturias, Felipe and Letizia, by shouting “death to the monarchy” during a public event in Bilbao. The facts took place last night, at the Eliseo theatre in Bilbao, at the ceremony for the prizes awarded by the Foundation Novia Salcedo for labour integration, presided by the Princes. According to police sources cited by the on-line edition of El Mundo, after having directed insults at the members of the Royal Family, the Councillor refused to provide his identity to the agents, who arrested him. Identified as Luis Mendez Gallego, Socialist Councillor of Berrit, the man was released at dawn today and will later face charges. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Sweden: White Power Groups Set for Election Year Push

White power groups were less active in Sweden in 2009 than the previous year, according to anti-racism foundation Expo’s annual report. But the movement is expected to increase its efforts in the run-up to the autumn general election.

Last year an estimated 40 white power groups attracted members across Sweden, roughly the same number as the previous year. But there was a considerable dip in the number of visible activities carried out by these groups, such as public demonstrations and the distribution of leaflets.

Expo and the Swedish Security Police, Säpo, share the view that extreme groups on the left and right are likely to become more active this year, with an election coming up in September.

“These groups’ activities generally do increase when there’s an election,” said Säpo spokesman Patrik Peter.

On Wednesday two people were stabbed while handing out flyers for Svenskarnas Parti (‘Party for Swedes’) in Hallstahammar, 130 kilometres west of Stockholm. Four people identified as representing groups on the extreme left were arrested for attempted murder.

Three days later a demonstration by Svenskarnas Parti in nearby Västerås attracted 150 to 200 supporters. Two people were injured when clashes broke out with around 100 counter-demonstrators.

Expo editor Anders Dalbro highlighted the fact that Svenskarnas Parti, unlike many of their counterparts, will be running for election this year.

“For them it’s going to be a very active year. But organisations not running for election also benefit from the fact that it’s an election year,” he said.

According to Expo’s annual report, set for publication this week, the white power movement was hit by internal divisions in 2009.

“This is most noticeable when it comes to joint demonstrations, which previously attracted a lot of people,” said Dalsbro.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

UK Lawyers Demands ‘Ban’ On English Defence League

APL (Association of Pakistani Lawyers), a team of Pakistani origin Solicitors, Barristers, and Judges in UK has taken a serious note of 28 May Guardian report titled, “English Defence League: Inside the violent world of Britain’s new far right” which reveals English Defence League’s plans to hit racially sensitive areas in an attempt to provoke disorder over summer and have urged the Prime Minister David Cameron to take action to prevent these protests turning into violent riots. APL has demanded a ban on this organization, as it poses a threat to public order and has sinister aims. If British society rightly so has no place for Al-Muhejeron ,so must be the case with English Defence League which should be proscribed before it’s too late as it threatens the very fabric of British society which is built on ‘tolerance’ and ‘live and let live’ principle.

APL Chair Amjad Malik has declared that the EDL group’s decision to target some of the UK’s most prominent Muslim communities including Bradford is a an attempt to provoke Muslim youth to take law in their own hands as the youth is already feeling disillusioned by past 10 years negative campaign and governmental actions and foreign policy concerns and British Muslim youth feel under the cloud due to a heavy stop and search figures and usage of terror legislation on them. English Defence League has only one agenda and that is to stir public hatred and community tensions turning into riots and create a worst law and order situation having far reaching consequences for future stability in the Society.

We feel that It is an agenda of hate and despair which is a ploy to divide people and communities who are living peacefully in Britain irrespective of their faith and colour and we support legitimate protest in a society but this is the worst use of that freedom amounting to incitement towards ‘terrorism’ designed to stir up trouble and public order issues. APL urges the people of Bradford that they must remain calm and vigilant and fight it with whatever peaceful means available to them and 2 million Muslims of Great Britain as well as civil society must come forward and support seeking a ban on English Defence League. APL views that after the (BNP) British National party losing a fight in a ballot, EDL wishes to divert public attention from the defeat of far right extremists towards a fight between far rights against Muslims, which the British public will defeat with collective wisdom, joint efforts and mutual understanding.

           — Hat tip: ICLA[Return to headlines]

UK: Children Draped in English Flags Take Part in Fascist Protest March Through Newcastle

Shops and pubs in the city closed as up to 3,000 EDL and Unite Against Fascism members took to the streets, chanting and waving banners.

The two camps came face-to-face near the city train station before their planned marches, with UAF protesters chanting ‘Off our streets, Nazi scum’ in response to the EDL’s chorus of ‘You’re not English anymore’. They were kept apart by hundreds of officers from five forces.

Children from both sides were seen gesturing and waving placards. Young children in the EDL group were wearing English flag capes.

Hour-long marches began at opposite sides of the city and concluded within 150 yards of each other, with rows of police officers with dogs and horses keeping the two groups apart.

There were several scuffles between rival marchers, but police said there had been no arrests made.

Chief Supt Graham Smith said: ‘It has been a great success. It has passed without incident. Newcastle is a city for peace and the aim of today was to allow peaceful protests which we have demonstrated is possible through careful planning.’

A strong police presence will remain in the centre throughout the bank holiday weekend to prevent trouble.

One of the EDL leaders, Ronnie Burgess, a 31-year-old bodyguard from Liverpool, insisted it was not a racist group.

Wearing a steward number one fluorescent jacket, he said: ‘The message has been lost and we have got a bad press lately. We don’t deny we have racist members, but we police ourselves and we will find them out. We don’t want them.’

Weyman Bennett, joint national secretary of UAF, said he was pleased with the turn-out to oppose the EDL.

He said: ‘They have come to try to divide black and white, Muslim and Christian.

‘We are going through an economic crisis like in the 1930s. We don’t want the same diseases we had then, of fascism and racism.’

Catherine McKinnell, Labour MP for Newcastle North, said: ‘In Newcastle, we don’t accept the premise of the EDL march. Newcastle has a proud and magnificent history based on solidarity, peace and diversity.’

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

UK: Muslim Hate Preacher is Let Into Britain Despite Tories’ Pledge to Keep Out Radicals

Home Secretary Theresa May faces outrage after her officials allowed an Islamic hate-preacher to enter Britain.

Zakir Naik, who has said ‘every Muslim should be a terrorist’ and claimed Western women are easy rape targets because of their revealing clothes, is to speak in a tour of the country.

But his arrival appears to fly in the face of earlier Tory pledges to oppose radical Islam and attempts to keep extremists out of the UK.

When the Indian last came to Britain in 2006, David Davies — the Conservative MP for Monmouth — described him as a ‘hate-monger’.

But the Home Office, however, indicated that they are not planning to ban Naik, a doctor who preaches on the satellite channel Peace TV.

So the Prime Minister David Cameron and Mrs May now face a political test over how tough their stance will remain now they are in government.

Naik, who will appear at London’s Wembley Arena and in Sheffield, has been described by some moderate Muslims as a ‘truth-twister’.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Rally Against Sharia and Religious Laws and for Secularism and Universal Rights

by Maryam Namazie — One Law for All onelawforall at gmail dot com BM Box 2387 London WC1N 3XX, UK+44 (0) 7719166731Â

Join us for a Rally organised by One Law for All against Sharia and religious laws and for secularism and universal right at Trafalgar Square’s Northern Terrace, London (closest underground Charing Cross and Leicester Square), 14:00-16:00 hours

Then join us for a March organised by Iran Solidarity to show solidarity with people in Iran who are at the forefront of battling Sharia law and political Islam. From Trafalgar Square to the embassy of the Islamic regime of Iran in Knightsbridge, London, 16:00-17:00 hours

The march will end with a group act of solidarity with the people of Iran.

One Law for All and Iran Solidarity call on people everywhere to join the 20 June protest in London or to organise rallies or acts of solidarity in various cities across the globe to mark the day when 27-year-old Neda Agha-Soltan was shot dead by the Islamic regime of Iran’s security forces at a protest in Tehran. Her demand for freedom in the face of all-out repression has made her a symbol of people everywhere.

According to Spokesperson Maryam Namazie, ‘It is very apt for us to remember Neda in our battle for equal rights in Britain or wherever we happen to live. Neda’s murder by the Islamic regime in Iran and Sharia law in Britain are intrinsically linked; both are the result of the rise of the political Islamic movement of which the Islamic regime of Iran is a cornerstone. In fact Sharia law in Britain came into being in the late 80s after the establishment of the Islamic regime of Iran. Clearly, the fight for a different and secular society in Britain is intrinsically linked to the fight for a different and secular one in Iran.’

In Iran over 130 offences are punishable with death under Sharia law including: Sex crimes like adultery and homosexuality; crimes against the state and religion like enmity against God, corruption on earth, apostasy, heresy and blasphemy and acts prohibited under Sharia law such as a third conviction of drinking alcohol, morality crimes like distribution of obscene/pornographic audio-visual materials, public order crimes, and drug-related offences, including for possession

On 20 June, One Law for All will also be releasing a new report on Sharia law in Britain to coincide with the event.

Confirmed speakers and performers at the London rally include: AK47 (Street Poet); Asad Abbas (Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain); R Y Alam (Poet); Adam Barnett (Musician); Ismail Einashe (One Law for All); David Fisher (Singer/ Songwriter); Lilith (Street Poet); Lyrical Agent (Emcee); Rony Miah (Lawyers’ Secular Society); Maryam Namazie (One Law for All and Iran Solidarity); Gerard Phillips (National Secular Society); Naomi Phillips (British Humanist Association); Fariborz Pooya (Iranian Secular Society); Brent Lee Regan (Emcee); Yasmin Rehman (Women’s Rights Campaigner); Gita Sahgal (Activist); Muriel Seltman (Activist); Sohaila Sharifi (Equal Rights Now); Peter Tatchell (Human Rights Campaigner)

Related Link:

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Vatican: Top Italian Cardinal Admits ‘Abuse Coverups’

Vatican City, 28 May (AKI) — Angelo Bagnasco, Italy’s highest-ranking cardinal, on Friday said that cases of clerical sexual abuse may have been covered up by the Catholic Church. Earlier this week he asked overwhelmingly Catholic Italy to continue to trust the church.

“It’s possible that there were cover-ups even in Italy,” Bagnasco, head of the Italian Bishops Conference, said in closing remarks at the body’s annual general assembly at the Vatican.

He said sex abuse by priests was “wrong and must be overcome”.

Mariano Crociata, secretary-general of the Italian Bishops Conference (CEI) early this week told reporters at the assembly that there had been “about 100 abuse cases” in Italy over the past 10 years that warranted church trials or other action.

He declined to say how many of the cases resulted in any action against the priests who were investigated and said Italian law doesn’t require bishops to report suspected abuse to police.

The Catholic Church has been engulfed in a vast scandal involving accusations of sex abuse by paedophile priests in countries including the United States, Germany, Austria, and Italy.

The Vatican is accused of covering up sex abuse by not taking action to remove suspected paedophile priests or turning them over to police.

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

Vatican: Child Sex Abusers to Suffer “In Hell”

Vatican City, 29 May (AKI) — A senior Vatican official has warned those guilty of sexual abuse they will suffer damnation in hell — a curse even worse than the death penalty. Charles Scicluna, from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, led a special prayer service at St. Peter’s Basilica on Saturday.

The service was organised in recognition of the victims of clerical sex abuse in a bid to heal the church.

He said it would be better for priests who sexually abuse children to die because “damnation would be more terrible in hell”.

The Catholic Church has been engulfed in a vast scandal involving accusations of sex abuse by paedophile priests in various countries including the United States, Ireland, Germany, Austria, and Italy.

The Vatican has been accused of covering up abuse by not taking action to removing suspected paedophile priests or turning them over to police.

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


Bosnia: Mufti Asks Politicians ‘Not to Judge’ Wartime Acts

Sarajevo, 28 May (AKI) — Bosnian Muslims’ spiritual leader Reiss-ul-Ulema Mustafa Ceric has urged politicians not to comment on war crimes allegedly committed by Muslim forces in Sarajevo and elsewhere during the 1992-1995 war. He referred to the acts of “patriots” according to local media reports on Friday.

Ceric called on all politicians to “refrain from judgements on the events of the war, especially those for which they were not called to testify”.

He called on Sulejman Tihic, the leader of main Muslim party, the Party of Democratic Action, to withdraw his earlier statement that “crimes were committed in Sarajevo in May 1992.”

“A public statement that crimes were committed in Sarajevo’s Dobrovoljacka Street…is unnecessary and is not in the spirit of the rule of law,” Ceric said.

Ceric said he was acting “at the request of numerous Bosnian patriots who did what they had to do — defend the right to life and the honour of motherland.”

Tihic’s statement referred to the killing of 42 Yugoslav Army soldiers, the wounding of more than 50 and the capture of 200 by Muslim paramilitaries on Sarajevo’s Dobrovoljacka Street.

Tihic blamed the Bosnian judiciary for having failed to try anyone for the Dobrovoljacka massacre.

“Unfortunately there is a prevailing belief that others should be tried, but not those in our ranks,” Tihic said.

Serbia last year issued arrest warrants for 19 former Bosnian officials and a wartime member of the Muslim state presidency Ejup Ganic, blaming them for ordering the Dobrovoljacka street massacre.

Ganic was arrested in London on 1 March and is awaiting a British court ruling on a request from Serbia for his extradition.

Ceric was among the Ganic’s strongest supporters and in protest over his arrest resigned as a member of the Blair Foundation, which received extensive publicity in Britain.

The attack in Dobrovoljacka street was carried out by Muslim paramilitary ‘green berets’ despite an earlier agreement that the withdrawing army column would be given a safe passage out of Sarajevo.

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

Kosovo: EU Will Not Recognise North Serbian Election Results

(ANSAmed) — PRISTINA, MAY 26 — The EU representative in Kosovo has today said that the results of the local election that Serbia is organising on Sunday in the north of Kosovo (the region in the country with a Serb majority) will not be recognised. “We consider that the only legitimate elections are those organised by the authorities of Kosovo,” said Julia Reuter, spokeswoman for the EU special representative in Kosovo, Pieter Feith, today in Pristina. For his part, the Kosovar Interior Minister Bajram Rexhepi observed that the elections organised by the Serbian are illegal and the authorities in Pristina do not intend to collaborate with the “parallel structures” set up by the Serb population. “The Kosovar police will guarantee the security of the polling stations, it will increase its present in the north on the day of the elections,” said Feith’s spokeswoman. On May 30, Serbia, despite opposition from the Kosovar institutions and international representatives, has organised local elections in the north part of Kosovo.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

Italy-Algeria: S. Craxi, We Want Strategic Partnership

(ANSAmed) — ROME, MAY 25 — Algeria is “a country that is a great friend and important economic partner” for Italy which has the “political willingness” to create a “strategic partnership”. Foreign Undersecretary Stefania Craxi said as much at the end of a visit to Algiers. Craxi met with the Minister for Foreign Affairs in charge of Maghreb and African Affairs, Abdelkader Messahel also in view of the upcoming Italian-Algerian summit that will take place this year in Algiers. Craxi’s visit was also preparation for the mission to Algiers on July 14 by the Foreign Minister Franco Frattini. “We exchanged opinions on large international issues,” said Craxi, “such as the Middle East, Iran, the Union for the Mediterranean” and it was an opportunity, she concluded, “to make the Algerian government aware of Italy’s willingness to contribute to the economic development and the modernisation of the country,” also bringing the expertise and experience of small and medium-sized Italian enterprises.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Morocco: EU: Campaign in Tangiers to Enhance Medina

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, MAY 25 — It is entitled “Je m’engage pour ma Medina” and is a new cultural awareness campaign underway in Tangiers and promoted by the Euromed Heritage IV programme, financed by the EU. A caravan, reports the Enpi website (, will be used to invite the residents to enhance the urban spaces where they live and develop their daily activities. The objective of “Je m’engage pour ma Medina” is the safeguarding and enhancement of the cultural heritage of the medina. “We aren’t suggesting action to citizens, instead we are collecting their suggestions,” explains Ilaria Conti, coordinator of the COSPE NGO in Tangiers, which is promoting the initiative at local level together with the Al Boughaz Association. “We will then invite them to set up neighbourhood groups, with which to work in order to define action,” added Conti. These will include requests for rubbish bins, which is widespread, to the lighting of smaller streets and the support of the local football team. The campaign promoted by Euromed Heritage is at the very beginning. “At the moment,” said Conti, “the first proposal that is being put together is for the construction of flower boxes and bringing green to the small square.”(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tunisia-EU: Advanced Statute Studied for Partnership

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, MAY 26 — The advanced statute for the setting up a partnership between Tunisia and the European Union is being looked into by a working group which will be delivering the first results within the next two months in order to provide a response by the end of the year. This was said on the fringes of the ‘Meetings for the Mediterranean’ underway in Hammamet by the ambassador Adrianus Koetsenruijiter, head of the EU delegation to Tunisia. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Coptic Church Protests Egyptian Court Ruling on Marriage License

by Mary Abdelmassih

(AINA) — An Egyptian court issued a controversial ruling on Saturday, May 29, which deprived the head of the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church of the control over matters of divorce and marriage, giving the civil courts the authority to oversee affairs which the Church considers are in its core religious competencies.

The Supreme Administrative Court’s ruling compels HH Pope Shenouda III, Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church, to give a license for marriage for the second time to a divorced Coptic man, rejecting Pope Shenouda’s appeal and upholding the ruling by a lower court.

The Supreme Administrative Court, headed by Justice Mohammed Husseini, based its ruling on the “right to family formation is a constitutional right, which is above all other considerations.” It went on to say that although the court respects religious feelings, it has to govern in accordance with the law. The provision of the Supreme Administrative Court is final and no further appeals are possible.

The verdict comes on the heels a lawsuit filed by Hani Wasfi Naguib against Coptic Pope Shenouda, challenging the grounds on which the Church refused to grant him a license to marry again after his divorce from his first wife.

An Administrative Court (first instance) had previously issued in 2009 a ruling in favor of the plaintiff Naguib, ruling that he was entitled to receive the Church’s license, but the Pope lodged an appeal against it before the Supreme Administrative Court. At that time, Pope Shenouda said that the ruling of the administrative court to oblige the Egyptian church to issue a license for a divorced man is non-binding. He added: “We are only bound by the teachings of the Holy Bible. We cannot go against our conscience and comply with a court ruling which is a civilian ruling and not ecclesiastical.”

In response to today’s ruling, Bishop Armiya, Secretary to Pope Shenouda, issued a statement stressing the respect of the Coptic Orthodox Church for the Egyptian judiciary and its rulings, but saying “there is no force on earth that can force the Church to violate the teachings of the Bible and Church laws, based on “What God has joined together let no man separate.” He added that Islamic law allows the Copts to resort to their own laws, and the state respects the freedom of religion.

Bishop Armiya said that during the coming period the Church plans to take legal action to revoke the ruling, at the same time it will not allow a second marriage for anyone, whoever he may be.

The ruling of the Supreme Administrative has angered Copts and several senior Coptic lawyers, who viewed the resolution as not serious and in violates the Constitution. Article VI of the Act 462 of 1955 confirms that the judicial rules in matters of personal status for non-Muslims has to be in accordance with their law. Lawyers view this Court provision “as contrary to our Christian religion.”

Attoney Nabil Gabriel believes that the Court must not interfere with the privacy of the church and its religious rituals. “Can the Court oblige the Al-Azhar Grand Imam to make prayers 6 times a day instead of 5? Why does the Court intervene in religious rituals of the Copts which stem from the Bible.” Gabriel explained that the Pope cannot follow provisions of the judiciary that are not consistent with Christian teachings. He anticipates that the provision will lead to a crisis with the Copts and clashes with the Church.

He asked church officials to resort to the Constitutional Court to stop the ruling and block its implementation, because it opens the door for people who want to marry again, disregarding religious teachings.

Coptic lawyer and activist Mamdooh Ramzi said Pope Shenouda does not need to comply with this ruling, as he is not a public servant. “Article 123 of the Penal Code does not apply to Pope Shenouda III for failing to implement this provision, because the text is clear: Each public employee who refrains from enforcing a judicial ruling would be imprisoned.”

Commenting on the ruling, Dr. Naguib Gobraeel, President of the Egyptian Union of Human Rights and legal adviser to the Coptic Church, said “the ruling is non-binding, because a license to marry lies within the core jurisdiction of the religious authority based on the Bible. There is no control or supervision on this purely religious aspect by any authority.”

He went on to explain that a church marriage, which is one of the seven Sacraments of the Church is not like a civil marriage, which can be dissolved by any party if the second party breached his/her obligations.”

Gobraeel also said that this ruling has erred in the application of the law, as it is not permissible for the President of the Supreme Administrative Court, Counselor Mohammad Husseini, to look into this case, as he had already ruled on this case once before when he was head of the administrative court. Gobraeel said he is going to appeal the ruling to the Board meeting of the Administrative Tribunal.

“Church is for marriage and courts for divorce,” says Coptic lawyer Mamdouh Nakhla, who is also director of the Al-Kalema Center for human rights. He commented that the ruling is not binding to the church, which has a special marriage ritual which is different from other marriages and should be respected by the judiciary. Nakhla is determined to fight this ruling and prevent its implementation “because it is detrimental to our Christian faith and interferes in its core principles.”

           — Hat tip: Mary Abdelmassih[Return to headlines]

Spain: New Tensions With Rabat Over Ceuta and Melilla

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MAY 27 — There are renewed tensions between Rabat and Madrid over the two Spanish enclaves in the North African country, Ceuta and Melilla, which Morocco continues to define as “occupied” cities, refusing to recognise Spanish sovereignty over the area. According to sources quoted today by the daily newspaper ABC, the Spanish government had to return a diplomatic statement sent last week by Morocco to the Spanish embassy in Rabat, which announced the arrest of a Spanish citizen while he was attempting to swim “into the garrison of Ceuta”. The diplomatic corps immediately returned the statement to Morocco, while the ambassador in Rabat, Luis Planas, protested to Morocco’s Foreign Minister, who went no further than to acknowledge the move. The incident is the latest in a series of claims by Rabat over Ceuta and Melilla, which however, as Spain’s Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos recently pointed out, does not affect the healthy bilateral relations. In the middle of April, Morocco planted a sign with the words “Melilla, occupied city” on the border Beni Enraz, only for it to be removed after Spanish protests. On May 17, Morocco’s Prime Minister, Anas El Fasi, made a speech in Parliament in which he asked the Spanish government to “open dialogue” in order to put an end to the “occupation of the Moroccan cities” of Ceuta and Melilla and of “stolen islands nearby”. El Fasi was answered by the Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega, who said that Spanish sovereignty over the cities and Spain’s profound cultural links to Ceuta and Melilla were not open to debate and that “Morocco is perfectly aware of Spain’s position”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: 11 Jail Sentences for Cell Funding

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, MAY 28 — Eleven men have been condemned to jail, with sentences varying between 4 and 12 years, by the first level Tribunal of Tunis after being accused of having operated to finance a terrorist cell and of having attempted to strengthen it by a recruitment drive. So reported well-known defence lawyer, Sami Ben-Amor. The group had been arrested in 2009. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Palestinians Plan to Break Free From Shekels

RAMALLAH: While a Palestinian state is still a dream, Jihad al-Wazir, the closest thing to a Palestinian Reserve Bank chairman, is planning a key aspect of statehood: the currency.

Since the creation of Israel in 1948, Palestinians have mainly used the Israeli currency — the pound, and then the shekel — for commerce. Now they are quietly considering reissuing the defunct Palestine pound, an example of which is displayed in a museum-like case outside Mr Wazir’s office, beside coins from the time of Alexander the Great.

Quiet talk in the West Bank of a new Palestinian currency comes amid a push by the Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad,to ensure the Palestinians can function independently of Israel if they gain sovereignty through peace talks or issue a unilateral declaration in two years if negotiations fail.

Mr Fayyad has been working to reform government institutions, professionalise the police force and establish mundane bodies such as a statistics bureau.

Mr Wazir, a well-regarded economist whom Stanley Fischer, governor of the Bank of Israel, counts as a friend, has at the same time been working on creating Palestinian economic independence.

A central banker without a bank, he cannot employ the traditional monetary policy tools of changing interest rates or issuing treasury bills. Instead, he has busied himself since 2008 with strengthening private bank supervision, fighting money-laundering and setting up mechanisms to spot bounced cheques. Establishing a currency — one of the surest signs of sovereignty — is the next logical step.

“All options are open, as far as we’re concerned — issuing our own currency is one,” Mr Wazir said, adding that the Palestinians are exploring linking the future currency to the US dollar or the euro — or perhaps adopting one of them instead of the shekel.

The Palestinians are at least getting ready to issue their own money. Bulldozers recently broke ground on a new Palestine Central Bank building that will include specialised vaults.

The notion of a Palestinian currency has long been a matter of controversy with Israel, on whose 20-times-larger economy the Palestinians depend. At the outset of the Oslo peace process in the early 1990s, negotiators set aside the idea amid Israeli concerns it would be too bold a sign of independence and fiscally foolish.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Settlement Boycotts, Israel-PNA Row

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, MAY 25 — The temporary stop announced by Italian supermarket chains Coop and Conad to imports on Israeli agricultural products is a marginal note to the row that has blown up once again over the past weeks concerning boycotting of products from Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory. These are illegitimate colonies, according to the view of the international community. The true problem concerns relations between Israel and the Palestine National Authority (PNA) under Mahmoud Abbas. And it risks poisoning the climate for the proximity talks even as they start, despite the painstaking attempts at reviving them over past days by US mediators, in an attempt to unblock the Middle East peace process. The clash was sparked by a decision taken by the PNA and formalised by a decree from Mahmoud Abbas, of imposing a full boycott across the West Bank on products from the settlements. This decision had often been postponed in the past, in order to protect the interests of Arab labourers working in the settlements. But it has been finally adopted amid much publicity in response to the refusal by the Benyamin Netanyahu government to accept a complete freezing of settlement activity. There has been a full-scale door-to-door campaign among Palestinian households reminding them of the fines or imprisonment faced by anyone caught breaking the boycott. Israel has been quick with its response. The heavily right-leaning government, all too aware of the political climate in the settlements, has already threatened reprisals. “If the boycotting continues,” said Deputy Premier Silvan Shalom, speaking in the colony-city of Ariel today, “we shall respond accordingly”, this might include “sanctions”. Meanwhile settlers are accusing the PNA of “economic terrorism”. While the chair of the Association of Israeli Entrepreneurs, Shraga Bosh, is convinced that Palestinians are harming themselves with the blockade and are “shooting themselves in the feet”. Nonetheless, he called on the Netanyahu government to close Israeli doors to foreign goods heading for the territories in order to “make the PNA understand that we do not intend to turn the other cheek”. This kind of language masks over the issue of labelling, or the impossibility of telling which agricultural produce comes from Israel and which has been grown in the settlement areas — a problem raised by Italy’s Coop and Conad in explaining their forthcoming provisional ban on importing Israeli farm produce for their supermarkets. According to Israeli exporters’ quango, Agrexco, this move is yet to have any concrete effects, and to which it has so far only issued a low-key reminder that “EU regulations and rules are there to be respected”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Defence: Turkey’s Aselsan to Cooperate With US Raytheon

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, MAY 28 — Turkey’s Aselsan Electronics Corporation has agreed to cooperate with U.S. Raytheon firm in designing, manufacturing and testing of “Relay Station”. In a statement, as Anatolia news agency reports, Aselsan said that, as part of the cooperation with Raytheon, an agreement would be signed in 2010 that would make Aselsan a subcontractor for the manufacturing of the “Relay Station”. The “Relay Station” would be a part of the Patriot Missile Defense System manufactured by Raytheon. Aselsan is a Turkish electronics company that designs, develops and manufactures modern electronic systems for military and industrial customers in Turkey and abroad. It was established in 1975 to meet the communications electronics requirements of the Turkish Armed Forces and began its production at Macunkoy, Ankara facilities in 1980. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Gulf Investors Launch Jordan Dead Sea Property JV

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, MAY 26 — Aabar Investments has set up a joint venture with regional investors to build a Hilton managed hotel on Jordan’s Dead Sea waterfront, part of a $1 billion development in the area, shareholders said as reported by Arabian Business online. Abu Dhabi-listed Aabar will hold a 45 percent stake in the newly set up Dead Sea Resort Company, while the rest of the stake will be held by Jordan’s Dead Sea Touristic and Real Estate Investment Company, a private holding company, whose largest shareholder is Dubai’s Emaar Properties. The joint venture, set up with an initial 67 million dinars ($94 mln) capital, will along with owning an existing $40 million convention centre build an adjoining $70 million 285-room Hilton managed resort developed by Emaar to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2013, Jordan’s Dead Sea Touristic and Real Estate Investment Company said. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

‘Hizbullah Has Syrian Missile Base’

Hizbullah has a missile base in Syria, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told his Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi in Italy, Channel 2 news reported Saturday.

Syria agreed to transfer Scud missiles to Hizbullah after intense and repeated efforts by Iran to convince it an Israeli attack in the north was imminent, the report added.

However, the weapons were not transferred out of Syria, but instead Hizbullah was allowed to have a base inside Syria, according to the report.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Israel Stations Nuclear Missile Subs Off Iran

Three German-built Israeli submarines equipped with nuclear cruise missiles are to be deployed in the Gulf near the Iranian coastline.

The first has been sent in response to Israeli fears that ballistic missiles developed by Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, a political and military organisation in Lebanon, could hit sites in Israel, including air bases and missile launchers.

The submarines of Flotilla 7 — Dolphin, Tekuma and Leviathan — have visited the Gulf before. But the decision has now been taken to ensure a permanent presence of at least one of the vessels.

The flotilla’s commander, identified only as “Colonel O”, told an Israeli newspaper: “We are an underwater assault force. We’re operating deep and far, very far, from our borders.”

Each of the submarines has a crew of 35 to 50, commanded by a colonel capable of launching a nuclear cruise missile.

The vessels can remain at sea for about 50 days and stay submerged up to 1,150ft below the surface for at least a week. Some of the cruise missiles are equipped with the most advanced nuclear warheads in the Israeli arsenal.

The deployment is designed to act as a deterrent, gather intelligence and potentially to land Mossad agents. “We’re a solid base for collecting sensitive information, as we can stay for a long time in one place,” said a flotilla officer.

The submarines could be used if Iran continues its programme to produce a nuclear bomb. “The 1,500km range of the submarines’ cruise missiles can reach any target in Iran,” said a navy officer.

Apparently responding to the Israeli activity, an Iranian admiral said: “Anyone who wishes to do an evil act in the Persian Gulf will receive a forceful response from us.”

Israel’s urgent need to deter the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah alliance was demonstrated last month. Ehud Barak, the defence minister, was said to have shown President Barack Obama classified satellite images of a convoy of ballistic missiles leaving Syria on the way to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Binyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, will emphasise the danger to Obama in Washington this week.

Tel Aviv, Israel’s business and defence centre, remains the most threatened city in the world, said one expert. “There are more missiles per square foot targeting Tel Aviv than any other city,” he said.

           — Hat tip: AP[Return to headlines]

Officials Reveal Plan for Jeddah Metro

(ANSAmed) — JEDDAH, MAY 26 — Jeddah mayor Adel Fakieh has revealed that officials are planning to build a metro train network in the Saudi city. The plan, being put together by the Jeddah municipality and the Ministry of Transport, will take 15 months to complete, officials revealed at a meeting yesterday. A preliminary study into the 108km-long network has already been completed, said Abdul Aziz Al-Ouhali, undersecretary of the Ministry of Transport, reported by Arab News. The first track will run from Old Makkah Road to downtown, before finishing at Sari Road, the paper reports. The second track will run along Prince Majed Street from King Abdul Aziz International Airport, while the third will run along Palestine Road. Al-Ouhali said that as part of the second phase of the project, tracks would be laid along King Abdul Aziz Road to the Corniche. The Jeddah metro is part of wider plans to improve public transport across the kingdom. In November, it was announced that construction workbegan on a light-rail project for Riyadh. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Private Pension Funds Exceed 5 Bln Euros

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, MAY 28 — Private pension funds in Turkey have exceeded 10 billion Turkish liras (5 billion euro), as Anatolia news agency reports. Turkey’s leading insurance company Anadolu Hayat Emeklilik’s Director General Mete Ugurlu, who is also the head of the country’s private pension funds watchdog, announced on Friday that private pension funds in Turkey had recently amounted to nearly 10.03 billion TL. Moreover, the total number of participants in the system increased to 2,121,037 with 2,320 of them eligible for retirement, Ugurlu said. Private pension funds were 9.906 billion TL as of May 7 and the number of participants was 2,104,350. Private pension system was introduced in Turkey in October 2001 and it has seen a quick rise in the number of contributors and the size of total assets. The total assets were 299.9 million TL (150 million euro) in 2004 and they were over $2 billion in 2007. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Yemen: Saudi Fugitive Named Among Al-Qaeda Leaders

Sanaa, 28 May (AKI) — Saudi fugitive Othman Ahmed al-Ghamdi, a former prisoner at the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, has been named one of the leaders of Al-Qaeda’s Yemen branch, according to a tape aired on the Arab TV channel, al-Arabiya, on Friday. The tape also confirmed the deaths of three leaders who were killed in Yemeni air raids in December and January.

The strikes killed Abdullah al Muhdar, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Yemen’s Shabwa province, Mohammed Amir al Awlaki, and Mohammed Saleh al Kazimi, among others.

Thirty-one year-old Al-Ghamdi was added to Saudi Arabia’s list of 85 most wanted 15 months ago, al-Arabiya said.

He spent four years in Guantanamo prison after he was captured in Afghanistan and he was released in 2006.

Yemen has provoked growing concern from the United States and other Western countries since its Al-Qaeda branch claimed responsibility for a failed attempt to bomb a US passenger jet on 25 December last year.

Last month the group tried to assassinate Tim Torlot, the British ambassador to Yemen when a suicide bomber attacked a convoy taking him to work in the capital Sanaa.

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

South Asia

Afghanistan: Taliban Using Chemical Weapons Against US Troops? 4-5 Troops Reportedly Fall Ill

Five US troops serving in Afghanistan recently fell ill after a suspected chemical weapons attack. Four or five members fell ill after the attack. One soldier is very sick. They are having trouble breathing. I am waiting for more information. I should have an update by morning.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Bangladesh Blocks Facebook Over Mohammed Cartoons

DHAKA — Bangladesh has blocked social networking site Facebook for posting caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed and “obnoxious” images of the Muslim-majority country’s leaders, an official said Sunday.

Facebook was blocked late Saturday, the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission said.

The move was ordered after the website “hurt the religious sentiments of the country’s majority Muslim population” by publishing caricatures of Mohammed, BTRC acting chairman Hasan Mahmud Delwar told AFP.

“Some links in the site also contained obnoxious images of our leaders including the father of the nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the leader of the opposition,” he said.

Bangladesh’s elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) has arrested one young man over the images attacking the political leaders.

“A special intelligence team of the RAB arrested him and he has been charged with spreading malice and insulting the country’s leaders,” senior RAB official Enamul Kabir said.

Delwar said the authorities “cannot tolerate these offensive images” of Mohammed and the political leaders, but he stressed the ban was “temporary”.

“Facebook will be re-opened once we erase the pages that contain the obnoxious images,” he said.

On Friday thousands of Bangladeshis took to the streets of the capital Dhaka, demanding that the government ban Facebook over what they called “anti-Islamic propaganda”.

The protests were in response to an “Everyone Draw Mohammed Day” campaign on Facebook which sparked angry protests and a ban on the site in Pakistan.

“Drawing caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, is an attack on Islam and is extremely humiliating for Islam,” protest organiser A.T.M. Hemayet Uddin told thousands of cheering, white-clad supporters.

           — Hat tip: Reinhard[Return to headlines]

Bangladesh: Man Beaten to Death in Mosque in “Religious Ritual”

Religious ritual in a Bangladeshi mosque Admanya hat tip Hiaya

A Hindu being beaten by Muslims in a mosque in Bangladesh. He was captured outside the mosque while going home. After Friday prayers were over, the Muslims came out and grabbed the first Hindu they could. Mr. Vimal Patak a Bangladeshi born Hindu was beaten to death with sticks as the Muslim mullahs (priests) chanted “kill the Kafir!” (non-Muslim). With folded hands he begged for his life and died a brutal death.


[Return to headlines]

German President ‘Betrayed the Soldiers in Afghanistan’

During a surprise visit to Afghanistan over the weekend, German President Horst Köhler seemed to argue that the mission served to protect German trade interests. Outrage at home has been shrill. German commentators are none-too-impressed either.

It’s mostly a symbolic position, not unlike being a modern-day European monarch without the throne and the footmen. State visits, the occasional speech on moral questions of the day, rubber-stamping laws that have been passed by parliament — the German president’s power is limited.

Every now and then, however, President Horst Köhler finds his way into the headlines. This week, he no doubt wishes that was not the case.

The president has become the target of intense criticism following remarks he made during a surprise visit to German soldiers in Afghanistan last Saturday. In an interview with a German radio reporter who accompanied him on the trip, he seemed to justify his country’s military missions abroad with the need to protect economic interests.

“A country of our size, with its focus on exports and thus reliance on foreign trade, must be aware that … military deployments are necessary in an emergency to protect our interests — for example when it comes to trade routes, for example when it comes to preventing regional instabilities that could negatively influence our trade, jobs and incomes,” Köhler said.

‘Jeopardizing the Acceptance’

Political reaction to the president’s comments has been impassioned, if delayed. Jürgen Trittin, of the Green Party, said on Thursday the president’s comments were not consistent with Germany’s constitution and that “we don’t need gun boat diplomacy nor do we need a loose rhetorical cannon as our head of state.” Thomas Oppermann, a parliamentarian with the opposition Social Democrats, told SPIEGEL ONLINE that “Köhler is jeopardizing the acceptance of the German military’s missions abroad.”

Criticism also came from within Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing coalition. Ruprecht Polenz, the foreign policy spokesman for Merkel’s Christian Democrats said “it was not a very successful formulation, to put it mildly.” Rainer Stinner, of the business-friendly Free Democrats, Merkel’s junior coalition partner, said: “We are not in Afghanistan out of any economic interests, rather we are there to stabilize the country and curtail international terrorism.”

Köhler’s office on Thursday rejected the criticism, saying that the president was not referring specifically to the Afghanistan mission in his remarks and that the defense of trade routes was specifically mentioned in the mandate for overseas military missions, such as that against pirates off the Horn of Africa.

Still, criticism of Köhler continued in the German editorial pages on Friday.

The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:

“Normally, the German president stands above the mayhem of day-to-day politics. He is expected to provoke fundamental debates, particularly when it comes to war and peace. But Köhler recently travelled to Afghanistan without a single recognizable idea he wanted to communicate, other than encouraging the troops. Upon leaving, he left behind a minor diplomatic scandal because he refused to pay a visit to Afghan President Hamid Karzai. At home, his visit resulted in bewilderment. Does Köhler really agree with the (far left) Left Party, that Germany is merely defending economic interests in Afghanistan? Or did he merely assemble the pieces of a larger strategic debate incorrectly?”

“The result is that Köhler has betrayed all those in German parliament who support the Afghanistan mission — and also the soldiers in Afghanistan, who have not so far seen themselves as soldiers of international trade. The president’s most powerful weapons are his words. When they are used incorrectly, it is dangerous.”

Conservative daily Die Welt writes:

“The president deserves credit for his intention to contribute to a new honesty in the debate about Germany’s missions abroad. But his nebulous comments during a radio interview were a disservice to both himself and to the German government. His awkward formulation made it seem as though the German military was in Afghanistan to fight a war over trade routes. Securing trade can certainly lie in the nation’s interest, as is the case with the anti-pirate mission off the Horn of Africa. But the goal of the Afghanistan mission is a different one.”

“Horst Köhler is no master of rhetoric, neither in his prepared speeches nor in his off-the-cuff remarks. That is too bad. Worse, it is both ominous and infuriating when the president’s rhetorical missteps provide unintentional backing to all those who have always been opposed to Germany fulfilling its international responsibilities.”

The left-leaning Berliner Zeitung writes:

“One wonders if it really was just an unfortunate formulation, as the German government would now have us believe. Or whether the economic expert Horst Köhler provided us with a peek inside his own thought process and that of a decisive portion of the Western political elite. Even during the Iraq War, the economic backdrop of the invasion — sold by President George W. Bush as a freedom offensive — was hardly discussed, even though access to oil was certainly a motivation. Afghanistan does not possess such raw materials, but securing trade routes can certainly serve hegemony in the region. It is likely that the German president has now unintentionally kicked off a new debate about the war. It will be even more difficult for supporters of the Afghanistan mission to participate successfully in the debate. More than ever, one now expects a clarification from President Horst Köhler.”

— Charles Hawley

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

Indonesia — 2-Year-Old Boy Smokes 40 Cigarettes a Day

Taking a deep drag on his cigarette while resting on the steering wheel of his truck, he looks like a parody of a middle-aged lorry driver.

But the image covers up a much more disturbing truth: At just the tender age of two, Ardi Rizal’s health has been so ruined by his 40-a-day habit that he now struggles to move by himself.

The four-stone [56 pound] Indonesia toddler is certainly far too unfit to run around with other children — and his condition is set to rapidly deteriorate.

His mother, Diana, 26, wept: “He’s totally addicted. If he doesn’t get cigarettes, he gets angry and screams and batters his head against the wall. He tells me he feels dizzy and sick.” [Is that before or after bashing his head into the wall? — Z]

But, despite local officials’ offer to buy the Rizal family a new car if the boy quits, his parents feel unable to stop him because he throws massive tantrums if they don’t indulge him.

Ardi will smoke only one brand and his habit costs his parents 3.78 British pounds (about 5.50 U.S. dollars) a day in Musi Banyuasin, in Indonesia’s South Sumatra province.

But in spite of this, his fishmonger father Mohammed, 30, said: “He looks pretty healthy to me. I don’t see the problem.”

Ardi’s youth is the extreme of a disturbing trend. Data from the Central Statistics Agency showed 25 per cent of Indonesian children aged three to 15 have tried cigarettes, with 3.2 per cent of those active smokers.

The percentage of five to nine year olds lighting up increased from 0.4 per cent in 2001 to 2.8 per cent in 2004, the agency reported.

           — Hat tip: Zenster[Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Taliban Attacks Kill ‘At Least 70’

Islamabad, 28 May (AKI) — The Taliban militants who launched simultaneous attacks on two mosques in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore on Friday killed at least 70 people before being overcome by police. Scores of others were taken hostage in the violent gun and bomb attacks on the mosques of the minority Ahmadi Islamic sect in Garhi Shahu and Model Town.

Taliban militants brandishing assault rifles and grenades attacked the places of worship in separate neighborhoods of Lahore during Friday prayers.

The death toll continued to rise as rescuers pulled bodies from the buildings, which had been packed with hundreds of worshippers at the time of the attacks.

Police have secured both buildings, but they were still searching for militants who fled the scene.

The attacks come as controversy rages in Pakistan over “blasphemous” caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad on the popular social networking website Facebook.

Pakistani police warned that some of the militants managed to flee and could be at large with their suicide belts primed.

The militants had demanded the release of 160 prisoners in various prisons in the eastern Pakistani province of Punjab before they released the hostages in the mosques of the minority Ahmadi sect.

Spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e-Taliban ) Pakistan Muhammad Umar claimed responsibility for the attack and told Adnkronos International the attack had been carried out in a bid to free Pakistani prisoners.

“The concerned authorities have been informed that if they want the safe and sound release of hostages, they should immediately release the prisoners,” Umar told AKI.

The Ahmadis call themselves Muslims but believe that Muhammad was not the last prophet — a view that contradicts a central tenant of the Islamic faith.

Their places of worship have been randomly attacked in the past by extremists but Friday’s siege and the taking of hostages is the first incident of its kind.

The government has declared them a non-Muslim minority and they are prohibited from calling themselves Muslims or engaging in Muslim practices such as reciting Islamic prayers.

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

Pakistan: US Considers Options for ‘Unilateral Strike’

Washington, 29 May (AKI/Washington Post) — The United States military is reviewing options for a unilateral strike in Pakistan in the event that a successful attack on American soil is traced to the country’s tribal areas, according to senior military officials.

Ties between the alleged Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, and elements of the Pakistani Taliban have sharpened the Obama administration’s need for retaliatory options, officials said in a report published on Saturday.

They stressed that a US reprisal would be considered only under extreme circumstances, such as a catastrophic attack which convinced President Obama that the ongoing campaign of CIA drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas was insufficient.

“Planning has been reinvigorated in the wake of Times Square,” one official said.

At the same time, the administration wants to deepen links with Pakistan’s intelligence officials in a bid to head off any attack by militant groups.

The US and Pakistan have recently established a joint military intelligence centre on the outskirts of the northwestern city of Peshawar, and plan to set up another near Quetta, the Pakistani city where the Afghan Taliban is based, according to US military officials.

They and other officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity surrounding American activities in Pakistan.

Suspected Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad is due to appear in a US court this week on terrorism charges.

Last week the 30-year-old was ordered to be held without bail in his first court appearance in New York.

Born in Pakistan, he became a US citizen last year and is accused of parking a car bomb in New York’s crowded Times Square on 1 May.

He has been charged with five felonies, including attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and trying to kill and maim people. Shahzad faces life in prison if convicted.

Prosecutors said Shahzad has admitted to the failed Times Square bomb attack and has been cooperating with investigators since his arrest.

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

The Ties That Kill: Pakistan Militant Groups Uniting

Pakistan (Reuters) — Pakistani militant groups are increasingly supporting each other and penetrating into the country’s heartland, threatening not only Pakistan but the region.

The Pakistan Taliban who attacked two Ahmadi mosques in Lahore on Friday trained in the militant stronghold of North Waziristan and arrived in the city a week before the assaults.

“They have links with Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the arrested attacker told us that his brother is working with the group in Miran Shah,” said Akram Naeem Bharoka, a police spokesman in Lahore.

Miran Shah is the main town of North Waziristan, a rugged land which has been a traditional rebel hideout, and considered a stronghold for TTP militants.

Ties like these between the Pakistan Taliban and Punjab groups and organisations are worrying to Pakistan and its ally, the United States.

The mosque attacks in Lahore, capital of Pakistan’s Punjab province, killed between 80 and 95 people and wounded more than 100. It was the worst attack on the Ahmadi minority group in Pakistan’s 63-year history.

The Ahmadis consider themselves Muslims, but many in Pakistan, including the government, do not. In 1974, Pakistan became the only Muslim state to declare Ahmadis non-Muslims and prohibited the open practice of their faith.

Mohammad Umer, a Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan spokesman, told the daily newspaper, The News, that the attacks had been carried out by their agents in eastern Punjab — Pakistan’s heartland and centre of economic and political power.

Such links reflect those found in the failed Times Square bombing, in which the main suspect, Faisal Shahzad, said he contacted members of Jaish-e-Mohammad, a Punjabi group, who delivered him to the TTP in the northwest.

The United States is now pushing Pakistan to go into North Waziristan, where it has run its own campaign of drone strikes that have killed hundreds of low-level fighters.

That’s going to be a hard sell, as Pakistan has no wish to attack North Waziristan right now. But the Shahzad case and now Lahore show that the notorious militant sanctuary near the Afghan border is fast becoming a major threat for Pakistan itself.


A land of high and difficult hills with deep and rugged valleys suitable for guerrilla warfare, North Waziristan has served as a safe haven for Islamist militants since the 1980s, when Pakistan acted as a frontline state in the U.S.-backed jihad, or holy war, against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

The ethnic Pashtun tribal lands, particularly North and South Waziristan, became a hub of Islamist militants after al Qaeda and Taliban operatives, fleeing a U.S.-led offensive in Afghanistan following the September 11 attacks in 2001, took refuge there and forged ties with Pakistani militants.

But the area has since turned into a hub for a wide variety of militant groups.

The militants operating from North Waziristan can roughly be divided into four categories:

* al Qaeda linked militants, including Arabs, Uzbeks, Chechens and Chinese Muslims who have focussed their fighting in their native countries as well as in the West

* Afghan Taliban, led by militant commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, who are fighting Western forces in Afghanistan

* Pakistani Taliban fighting the Pakistani state

* “Punjabi Taliban” suspected of fuelling militancy in central Pakistan

These militant groups apparently pursue independent agendas, but cooperate if they share objectives, security officials say.

“These groups are inter-linked. Sometimes they will collaborate directly. Sometimes they will provide logistical support and sometimes they will have just an understanding,” a security official said.


Suspected links between Times Square suspect Shahzad and militants in the northwest have seen the United States add pressure on Pakistan to take concrete steps to tackle the mounting threat from North Waziristan.

The mosque attacks in Lahore will now add domestic pressure to the military to move against North Waziristan.

The military has conducted offensives in six of the seven tribal regions, known as Federally Administered Tribal Areas, in recent years except in North Waziristan where authorities struck a peace deal with militants in 2007.

Pakistani officials say they are over-stretched, with rising attacks in South Waziristan, and do not have enough resources to open another front.

Some analysts and security officials say any action in North Waziristan may also depend on political and military developments in Afghanistan. A traditional gathering of Afghan tribal elders starts this week to discuss prospects for peace while NATO plans a major offensive in Taliban strongholds in the south.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Panacea for All African Ills — Mass Transfer — Cleansing.

Recently there was an article published in Foreign Policy Magazine, penned by G Pascal Zachary on April 28,2010 under the captioning “Africa Need a New Map”. In this piece the idea floated is the division of Congo, Nigeria, Sudan and Somalia on religio-ethnic lines.

It is, however surprising that west is uniting, to gain strength and viability on the Global Horizon, economically, militarily and politically. Whereas, on the other hand, ironically, African continent; pre dominantly Muslim lands, is being touted for division; for further weakening, defenselessness and dependency. The ulterior motive, obviously is, desired manageability by the western political Strategists/Managers. It is not very difficult, keeping in mind the history of the west, to understand that it is well thought out preamble to the trajectory of the insidious plan of management of the continent. Here is the proof.

Global European Imperialism at its height: The “scramble for Africa” proceeds, rationalized as a “civilizing mission” based on white supremacy. Europeans assert their “spheres of interest” in African colonies arbitrarily, cutting across traditionally established boundaries, homelands, and ethnic groupings of African peoples and cultures. Following a “divide and rule” theory, Europeans promote traditional inter-ethnic hostilities. The European onslaught of Africa that began in the mid 1400s progressed to various conquests over the continent, and culminated over 400 years later with the partitioning of Africa. Armed with guns, fortified by ships, driven by the industry of capitalist economies in search of cheap raw materials, and unified by a Christian and racist ideology against the African ‘heathen,’ aggressive European colonial interests followed their earlier merchant and missionary inroads into Africa.

The Berlin Conference: Intense rivalries among Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Spain, and Portugal for additional African territory, and the ill-defined boundaries of their various holdings, instigate the Berlin conference. Here the powers of Europe, together with the United States, defined their spheres of influence and laid down rules for future occupation on the coasts of Africa and for navigation of the Zaire and Niger rivers. No African states were invited to the Berlin conference, and none signed these agreements. Whenever possible, Africans resisted decisions made in Europe, but revolts in Algeria, in the western Sudan, in Dahomey, by the Matabele (Ndebele) and Shona, in Ashantiland, in Sierra Leone, and in the Fulani Hausa states were eventually defeated.

Europeans “partition” West Africa (to 1890s).

British takeover of Egypt. Europeans “partition” East Africa.

Ethiopians under Emperor Menelik II successfully resist European conquest, annihilating Italians at the Battle of Adwa (or Aduwa). By 1914, only Ethiopia in the east and Liberia in the west remain independent of European colonial control.

Justice will not be done, if we ignore the historical background of the present geographical landscape of Africa and Asia. As shown above, It is all out western criminality on display. The crime was perpetrated by the colonial masters to suit their interest of loot, plunder, exploitation and subjugation.

The problems we are witnessing in the region today are not intrinsically geographical or ethnic in nature, but by-product of poverty, illiteracy and forced planted Christianity on pre-dominantly Muslim population. The idea floated therefore, falls in the category of sinister and politically motivated adjustment, acquiescence of the changed dynamics of the game of the capitalists.

An analysis of few core/pivotal countries, such as Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, Egypt and Abyssinia (Aethiopia), Congo and others, would reveal the reality to comprehend the overall scenario with a panoramic view.

Abyssinia (Ethiopia).

The Aksumites were a people formed from the mix of Kushitic speaking people in Ethiopia and Semitic speaking people in southern Arabia who settled the territory across the Red Sea around 500 BC. Rise of Axum or Aksum (Ethiopia) and conversion to Christianity. (By CE 1st century, Rome had conquered Egypt, Carthage, and other North African areas; which became the granaries of the Roman Empire, and the majority of the population was forced to convert to Christianity). Roman Empire spent its religious zeal carving out churches from rocks, and writing and interpreting religious texts.

According to the latest 2007 national census, Islam is the second most widely practiced religion in Ethiopia after Christianity, with over 25 million (or 33.9%) of Ethiopians adhering to Islam according to the 2007 national census,[1] having arrived in Ethiopia in 615.[2] Islam is the religion of the overwhelming majority of the Somali, Afar, Argobba and Harari, and the largest group of the Oromo peoples of Ethiopia according to the 1994 national census.

The first Muslims in Ethiopia were immigrants from Mecca, persecuted by the new leading tribe, the reactionary Quraysh. They were received by the ruler of Ethiopia, whom Arabic tradition has named Ashama ibn Abjar, and he settled them in Negash. Located in the Tigray Region, Negash is the historical center of Islam in Ethiopia and parts of East Africa. The Quraysh sent emissaries to bring them back to Arabia, but the King of Ethiopia refused their demands. The Prophet himself instructed his followers who came to Ethiopia, to respect and protect Ethiopia as well as live in peace with Ethiopian Christians.[3] While the city of Medina, north of Mecca, ultimately became the new home of most of the exiles from Mecca, a seventh century cemetery excavated inside the boundaries of Negash shows the Muslim community survived their departure.[4].

Islam later developed more in the coastal regions of the southern horn of Africa, particularly among the Somali. This was challenged by the mostly Christian northern people of Abyssinia, including Amhara, Tigray and north western Oromo. However the north and northeastern expansion of the Oromo, who practiced mainstream traditional Waaqa, affected the growth of Islam in its early days. Historian Ulrich Braukamper says, “the expansion of the non-Muslim Oromo people during subsequent centuries mostly eliminated Islam in those areas.” However, following the centralization of some Oromo communities, some of them adopted Islam and today constitutes over 40% of their population.[5}

Under the former Emperor Haile Selassie, Muslim communities could bring matters of personal and family Law and inheritance before Islamic courts; many did so and probably continued to do so under the revolutionary regime. However, many Muslims dealt with such matters in terms of customary law. For example, the Somali and other pastoralists tended not to follow the requirement that daughters inherit half as much property as sons, particularly when livestock was at issue. In parts of Eritrea, the tendency to treat land as the corporate property of a descent group (lineage or clan) precluded following the Islamic principle of division of property among one’s heirs.[6]

The First Muadhdhin

The Ethiopian Bilal was one of the foremost companions of the Prophet Muhammad and the first Muadhdhin -muezzin- or the caller to prayer.

Ancient Muslim sultanate

Ethiopia is believed to be the site of the oldest sultanate in the world. The Makhzumite Dynasty of Shewa was founded in AD 896, and was later replaced by the Ifat Sultanate, which was founded in the 1280s by Umar Walashma, apparently with the help of the Christian Solomonic dynasty of Ethiopia.[7] There is further evidence of Muslim presence to the southwest of this area in the form of 18 inscribed Islamic gravestones, which have been found along the trade route south of the Awash River between Harar and Lake Langano.[8]

The First Hijrah

When the Prophet Mohammed saw the persecution to which his followers were subjected to in Mecca, he told them to find safe haven in northern Ethiopia, Abyssinia, where they would “find a king there who does not wrong anyone.” It was the first hijra (migration) in Islam history.[9]

The fourth holiest Muslim city

Ethiopia is home to Harar, which according to UNESCO, is “considered ‘the fourth holy city’ of Islam,” with 82 mosques, three of which date from the 10th century, and 102 shrines.[10][11]

Muslims in contemporary Ethiopia

Much as the rest of the Muslim world, the beliefs and practices of the Muslims in Ethiopia are basically the same: embodied in the Qur’an and the Sunnah. There are also Sufi brotherhoods present in Ethiopia. The most important Islamic religious practices, such as the daily ritual prayers (Salat) and fasting (Arabic صوم, Sawm, Ethiopic. or Tsom — used by Christians as well) during the holy month of Ramadan, are observed both in urban centers as well as in rural areas, among both settled peoples and nomads. Numerous Muslims in Ethiopia perform the pilgrimage to Mecca every year. In Ethiopia’s Muslim communities, as in neighboring Sudan and Somalia, many of the faithful are associated with, but not necessarily members of any specific Sufi order. Nevertheless, formal and informal attachment to Sufi practices is widespread. The emphasis seems less on the contemplative and disciplined mysticism, and more on the concentration of the spiritual powers possessed by certain founders of the orders and the leaders of local branches.


Islam spread to the Republic of the Congo from North Africa in the mid-19th century. [1] There is a growing Muslim community in the country, estimated at 25 percent of the population. In 2005 a large new mosque was constructed in Brazzaville. Most workers in the urban centers were immigrants from West Africa and Lebanon, with some also from North Africa. The West African immigrants arrived mostly from Mali, Benin, Togo, Mauritania, and Senegal. The Lebanese were primarily Sunni Muslims. There was also a large Chadian Muslim population. Muslim holy days are not nationally observed; however, they are respected. Employers grant leave for those who wish to observe holy days not on the national calendar.

Although making up to 15 millions of the country´s 60-million population, Muslims in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) still struggle for their religion to be recognized and better living conditions. “Despite this large number of followers, Islam has not yet been officially recognized in the country,” the Congolese National Islamic Council chairman has told Gamal Lumemba Ramadan believed that Muslims had been up to many such challenges, as they were not allowed to carry out their religious rituals until the end of the Belgian colonial era in 1960.”Lack of mosques, schools and even Qur´an copies reveals how alarming is the lack of knowledge among Muslims in the DRC,” he averred. In Kinshasa, 14 small mosques serve 950,000 Muslims, compared with the spread of churches each serving ten houses. The country has 380,000 mosques in Congo, which is more than two million square kilometers.

Few Schools

There are also a few number of Islamic schools, all in bad need for financial support,“ the Islamic leader admitted. Many Muslims were forced to send their children to Christian schools “which set conditions to comply with all Christian rituals”.

Many of the Muslim students, mostly from impoverished families, drop out after secondary school, said Ramadan, calling on Arab and Islamic countries “to stretch their hands for help”. “They should help build more Islamic schools, and offer scholarships in an effort to set up a cultured Islamic community in the DRC,” said Ramadan.

Poorly Represented

Muslims are also all but poorly represented in the Congolese Parliament, with only three members of 450 MPs in the legislature, Ramadan said.

He voiced anger that no Muslims occupy posts of ministers, deputy ministers or governors. Unfortunately, Muslims had took the brunt of the tripartite invasion of Congolese lands by Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda that had left one and a half civilians dead, said Ramadan. “No wonder most of those killed were Muslims, as the armies of the three countries focused their thrust on the western areas, which are intensely inhabited by Muslims”. But he admitted the situation has witnessed an improvement with the establishment of the National Islamic Council, which helped promote Muslims´ knowledge of the religion and better improve the image of Muslims “away from impaired conceptions and foreign interpretations”.

The council holds courses for Imams and offers relief supplies to Muslims stricken by tribal disturbances besetting the country.

More Preaching

For Haj Modelo Maliba, former chairman of the National Islamic Council, Muslims in the DRC are still in need of more preachers, teachers and “people who could provide guidance to them, in matters related to their faith and its proper practice”.

Maliba said in press reports that the Congolese Muslims do not own any of the infrastructure facilities, such as hospitals, health centers, universities, schools, and that the few they have are not up to par. He said there should also be a broadcasting and television station to beam guidance program to the Muslims of his country, and also news about their brethren in other parts of the world. Ramadan agreed, saying “the media outlets could be used to “express ourselves and send the message of Islam clear to others”. “Our voice is hardly heard in the country´s media, as we are allowed to turn up for five TV or Radio programs a month in the 23 stations in the country,” he lamented.

The small state of Kangaba, led by Sundjata Keita, or Sundiata Keita, defeated the nearby kingdom of Susu at the Battle of Kirina in 1235. The Susu had been led by king Sumanguru Kante. The clans of the heartland unified under the vigorous Sundjata, now king of the vast region that was to become the Mali Empire, beginning a period of expansion. The rulers of Mali nominally converted to Islam, though this did not preclude belief and practice of traditional Mande religions.

Sundjata Keita, Old Mali, and the Griot Tradition: The Mali Empire, centered on the upper reaches of the Sénégal and Niger rivers, was the second and most extensive of the three great West African empires. The Mali Empire served as a model of statecraft for later kingdoms long after its decline in the 15th and 16th centuries. Under Sundjata and his immediate successors, Mali expanded rapidly west to the Atlantic Ocean, south deep into the forest, east beyond the Niger River, and north to the salt and copper mines of the Sahara. The city of Niani may have been the capital. At its height, Mali was a confederation of 3 independent, freely allied states (Mali, Mema, and Wagadou) and 12 garrisoned provinces. The king reserved the right to dispense justice and to monopolize trade, particularly in gold. Sundjiata Keita is the cultural hero and ancestor of the Mande (or Mandinka) peoples, founder of the great Mali Empire, and inspiration of the great oral epic tradition of the griots or professional bards (like Djeliba in the Hum 211 film Keita: The Heritage of the Griot ), keepers of tradition and history, trusted and powerful advisors of kings and clans.

THE RESISTANCE: Many Africans, like Queen Nzingha of Angola and King Maremba of the Congo, fought valiantly, if vainly, against the European slavers and their African collaborators. Others resisted their captors by creating mutinies or jumping overboard from slave ships during the horrendous “Middle Passage” across the Atlantic Ocean. Enslaved Africans that were destined for the Americas would be subject to a “breaking in” process which often took place in the West Indies. Many resisted having their spirits broken and managed to escape, eventually forming independent communities such as that of the Maroons in the West Indies. Some of these Maroon communities numbered in the 1000s in South American and the Caribbean, , waging guerilla warfare against slave hunters, and brutally executed if caught.

THE DIASPORA: The forced and brutal dispersal of millions of Africans into foreign lands created the Black Diaspora. African slaves and their descendants carried skills and communitarian values, rich cultural traditions, resiliency, and resistance ethos that transformed and enriched the cultures they entered around the world. Thus, as African peoples are globally dispersed, they carried their traditions of cultural creativity and oral arts with them, such as “common musical rhythms, exploration of multicolors…and diverse textures, play on repetition, and call-and-response modes of verbal activity” (Asante and Abarry 111). African folktales, often featuring the tortoise, hare, and spider, are widespread on the African continent and were carried from Africa to the Caribbean, Latin America, and the United States.

African cultural & oral traditions survived and flourished “despite the concerted efforts made by Europeans, which were often justified by their Christian ethic, to destroy African cultural forms both on the continent and in the Diaspora. In the Diaspora this process included attempts to alienate enslaved Africans from their natal context by such means as separating those from the same ethnic groups, renaming them with slave names, and removing African instruments such as drums from their midst for fear that they would be used to communicate. Nevertheless Africa´s indigenous personality has managed to remain intact and continues to maintain a considerable sphere of influence on the global stage, particularly in its orally-based forms of cultural expression.” — Prof. Malaika Mutere, Howard Univ., African Culture & Aesthetics, for Kennedy Center’s African Odyssey Interactiv


Islam in Djibouti has a long history, first appearing in East Africa during the lifetime of Muhammad. Today, 96 percent of Djibouti’s 490,000 people are Sunni Muslims adhering largely to the Shari legal tradition. In addition, many belong to the Qadiri, Ahmadi, and Salihi Sufi orders. After independence from France (1977), the republic constructed a legal system based on French jurisprudence, Customary practices, and Islamic law.

The history of Djibouti, recorded in poetry and songs of its nomadic peoples, goes back thousands of years to a time when Djiboutians traded hides and skins for the perfumes and spices of ancient Egypt, India, and China. Through close contacts with the Arabian Peninsula for more than 1,000 years, the Somali and Afar tribes in this region became the first on the African continent to adopt Islam — with what is now Djibouti’s capital becoming the Islamic State of Adal.

Djibouti’s main religion is Islam. Just like Islam in other countries, every town and village in Djibouti has a mosque, to which people go to worship. Tombs of their former religious leaders and those considered holy are known as sacred spaces. The most famous sacred space for Islam in Djibouti is the tomb of Sheikh Abu Yazid, found in the Goda Mountains. In addition to the Islamic calendar, Muslims in Djibouti also recognize New Year’s Day ( January 1), and Labor Day ( May 1), as holidays.

The Muslim religion comprises 94 percent of Djibouti’s population (about 444,440). This leaves six percent for other religions. Christianity is mainly the other


Ancient Egyptian, 50 million Bantu people and their sub tribes, who are spread throughout Zimbabwe, Mozambique, down to south Africa, Angola, Namibia, Northwestern Botswana, use Arab influenced Swahili language as a lingua franca. 639-641 Advent of Islam. Caliph Omar conquers Egypt with Islamic troops. 700-800 Islam sweeps across North Africa; Islamic faith eventually extends into many areas of sub-Saharan Africa.

After…Arab merchants…first connected sub-Saharan Africa with their vast commercial network, reaching from Spain and Russia to the Far East,” available evidence suggests “that some black Africans were observing the wider world, including Europe, outside their home villages rather keenly long before Western geographers knew anything about the true course of the Niger or the Nile” (Masonen, “Trans-Saharan Trade”). “The voluntary traffic of West Africans to the Mediterranean began with the adoption of the Muslim faith. Pilgrimage to Mecca is one the five pillars of Islam, . . . an obligation for all Muslims” (Masonen, “Trans-Saharan Trade”). West African Muslims with the economic means — most notably West African rulers Mansa Musa of the Mali empire (in 1324) and Askia Muhammad of the Songhay Empire (in 1496-98) — made the long journey to Mecca and Egypt, and pilgrimage by common people became more general from the fourteenth century onwards . . .” (Masonen, “Trans-Saharan Trade”).

Via commercial, intellectual and physical contacts with Northern Africa through the trans-Saharan trade and pilgrimage, we may conclude that West Africans certainly knew more than something about the Mediterranean and perhaps a little about Europe too, before the beginning of the Portuguese discoveries in 1415—some individuals may even have possessed quite a detailed picture of their contemporary world,” though “this knowledge was restricted to a narrow group only, consisting mostly of rulers, scholars, noblemen, and wealthy merchants, who all had a practical need for accurate information of the wider world and means to achieve it.

1000 Ghana Empire of Soninke peoples (in what is now SE Mauritania) at height of power. The earliest of the 3 great West African states (emerging ca. 300 CE), Ghana equipped its armies with iron weapons and became master of the trade in salt and gold, controlling routes extending from present-day Morocco in the north, Lake Chad and Nubia/Egypt in the eat, and the coastal forests of western Africa in the south. By the early 11th century, Muslim advisers were at the court of Ghana.

1076 According to traditional historical interpretations, a Berber army from Morocco led by militant religious reformers called Almoravids attacked Ghana, led it into a period of internal conflicts and disorganization, then by 1087, lost control of the empire to the Soninkes. Several smaller states emerged, including Kangaba out of which the empire of Mali arose.

During the initial Islamic invasion in 639 AD, Egypt was ruled at first by governors acting in the name of the Righteous Caliphs, and then the Ummayad Caliphs in Damascus but, in 747, the Ummayads were overthrown and the power of the Arabs slowly began to weaken. Although Egypt remained under the nominal rule of the Abbasid Caliphate, its rulers were able to establish quasi-independent dynasties, such as those of the Tulunids and the Ikhshidids. In 969 the Ismaili Shi’a Fatimid dynasty from Tunisia conquered Egypt and established its capital at Cairo. This dynasty lasted until 1174, when Egypt came under the rule of Kurdish Ayyubids during Saladin and lasted until 1252. The Ayyubite Kurds were overthrown by their bodyguards, known as the Mamluks, who ruled under the suzerainty of Abbasid Caliphs until 1517, when Egypt became part of the Ottoman Empire.

East Africa.

East African Literature Emerges: An early known example of East African literature, dated 1520 and written in Arabic, is an anonymous history of the city-state of Kilwa Kisiwani. Soon after, histories of East African city-states written in Swahili appeared, as well as “message” poems, usually written from a moral/religious viewpoint. In 1728, the earliest known work of (imaginative) literature is written in original Swahili: the epic poem Utendi wa Tambuka (Story of Tambuka). Swahili epic verse writers borrowed from the romantic traditions surrounding the Prophet Muhammad, then freely elaborated to meet tastes of their listeners and readers. Most of the east African countries have either majority population or significant portion of population as Muslims.


1439 Portugal takes the Azores and increases expeditions along northwest African coast, eventually reaching the Gold Coast (modern Ghana). The Portuguese explorations were motivated by a desire for knowledge, a wish to bring Christianity to what they perceived as pagan peoples, the search for potential allies against Muslim threats, and the hope of finding new and lucrative trade routes and sources of wealth. Wherever the Portuguese—and the English, French, and Dutch who followed them—went, they eventually disrupted ongoing patterns of trade and political life and changed economic and religious systems.

Timeline of Portuguese Activity in East Africa, 1498-1700 (Prof. Jim Jones, History Dept., West Chester Univ., 1998):

1441 Beginning of European slave trade in Africa with first shipment of African slaves sent directly from Africa to Portugal. With the complicity and blessings of the Catholic church. the Portuguese would come to dominate the gold, spice and slave trade for almost a century before other European nations became greatly involved.

Slavery in Africa: It is true that African societies did have various forms of slavery and dependent labor before their interaction with Arabs and Europeans that invaded Africa, especially in nonegalitarian centralized African states, but scholars argue that indigenous slavery was relatively a marginal aspect of traditional African societies. Many forms of servitude and slavery were relatively benign, an extension of lineage and kinship systems. Slaves and servants were often well-treated and could rise to respected positions in households and communities. African social hierarchies and conditions of servitude were mitigated by complex, extended kinship relationships, based on community, group, clan, and family. Ethnic rivalries and hostilities did exist, as did ethnocentrism (a belief that one’s group and its lifeways are superior to those of other groups), but the concept of race was a foreign import. Muslim conquests of North Africa and penetration in the south made slavery a more widely diffused phenomenon, and the slave trade in Africans—especially women and children — developed on a new scale.

The adoption of Islamic concepts of slavery made it a legitimate fate for non-believers but an illegal treatment for Muslims. In the forest states of West Africa, such as Benin and Congo, slavery was an important institution before the European arrival, African rulers seeking to enslave other African groups, rather than their own people, to enhance their wealth, prestige, and control of labor. However, the Atlantic Slave Trade opened up greatly expanded opportunities for large-scale economic trade in human beings — chattel slavery — on an unprecedented scale. Expanding, centralized African states on/near the coast became major suppliers of slaves to the Europeans, who mobilized commerce in slaves relatively quickly by tapping existing routes and supplies

1562 Britain begins its slave trade in Africa. Slave Trade increases significantly with development of plantation colonies of the Americas, especially in Brazil. Other countries involved in the European slave trade included Spain (from 1479); North America (from 1619); Holland (from 1625); France (from 1642); Sweden (from 1647); and Denmark (from 1697). 1570 Portuguese establish colony in Angola. West African religious poetry of Abdullah ibn Muhammed Fudi, emir of Gwandu, reflects familiarity with pre-Islamic Arabic poetry as well as North African religious writing.

Height of Atlantic SlaveTrade: Between the years 1650 and 1900, historians estimate that at least 28 million Africans were forcibly removed from central and western Africa as slaves (but the numbers involved are controversial). A human catastrophe for Africa, the world African Slave Trade was truly a “Holocaust.” “(hol e kost), n. 1a. a great or complete slaughter or reckless destruction of life.

“The Black Holocaust is one of the more underreported events in the annals of human history. The Black Holocaust makes reference to the millions of African lives which have been lost during the centuries to slavery, colonization and oppression. The Black Holocaust makes reference to the horrors endured by millions of men, women, and children throughout the African Diaspora. In sheer numbers, depth and brutality, it is a testimony to the worst elements of human behavior and the strongest elements of survival.” Source: The Black Holocaust: From Maafa to Colonization KAMMAASI / Sankofa Project Guide, 1999:

European traders exported as many as 17 million slaves to the coast of the Indian Ocean, to the Middle East, and to North Africa. African slave exports via the Red Sea, trans-Sahara, and East Africa/Indian Ocean to other parts of the world between 1500-1900 totaled at least 5 million Africans sent into bondage. Between 1450 and 1850, at least 12 million Africans were shipped from Africa across the Atlantic Ocean — the notorious “Middle Passage” — to colonies in South America, the West Indies, and North America. 80% of these kidnapped Africans (or at least 7 million) were exported during the 18th century, with a mortality rate of probably 10-20% on the ships enroute for the Americas.

Unknown numbers (probably at least 4 million) of Africans died in slave wars and forced marches before being shipped. Within central Africa itself, the slave trade precipitated migrations: coastal tribes fled slave-raiding parties and captured slaves were redistributed to different regions in Africa. African slave trade and slave labor transformed the world. In Africa, slave trade stimulated the expansion of powerful West African kingdoms. In the Islamic world, African slave labor on plantations, in seaports, and within families expanded the commerce and trade of the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf. In the Americas, slave labor became the key component in trans-Atlantic agriculture and commerce supporting the booming capitalist economy of the 17th and 18th centuries, with the greatest demand in the Americas coming from Brazil and the sugar plantations of the Caribbean.

The Amistad Revolt was an important episode in the interlocked histories of . . .

West Africa, in 1839 its peoples and states challenged by the dislocations of the Atlantic Slave Trade;

Cuba, in 1839 a Spanish colony, one of the world´s largest producers of sugar, and the last major slave society in the West Indies;

United States, in 1839 a growing nation on the threshold of becoming a world power but also a divided nation, half slave and half free.


1792 Slave uprising in Haiti (called Saint-Domingue by the French) involving 1,000s of slaves, is led by Toussant L’Ouverture (1743-1803). His army, eventually numbering 55,000 blacks, waged guerrilla and frontal war against the British for years. In 1804 Black republic of Haiti was established.

The estimated population of Haitian Muslims is about 3000, representing approximately 0.04 percent of the population, although local Muslims claim the actual number is larger, nearing 5000 due to many Muslims that supposedly aren’t counted due to inaccessibility or unavailability. Islamic organizations in Haiti include the Bilal Mosque and Islamic Center in Cap-Haïtien, which offers programs in Islamic studies and daily prayers, Byllal miragoane Mosque in (Miragoane)and the Centre Spirituel Allah ou Akbar in Port au Prince. The foundation stone of the first mosque in Gonaives has been laid and is near completion, named Mosque-ul-Munawwar, dedicated on his father’s name by a Pakistan Army officer serving in MINUSTAH. The history of Islam on the island of Hispaniola (which Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic) begins with the slavery in Haïti. Many Muslims were imported as slaves to Haiti. Although many were forced to abandon Islam over time, their Islamic heritage has persisted in the culture of native Haitians. Additionally, a revisionist history of Dutty Boukman, whose death is largely considered the start of the Haitian Revolution, suggests that he was Muslim. In the early portion of the 20th century, a wave of Arab immigrants came to the Americas, in which a surprisingly noticeable amount settled in Haiti (and other countries as well).

It is said that the first to arrive in Haiti around 1920 was a man hailing from the Moroccan village of Fes along with 19 other families. Today, the majority of the country’s Muslims are indigenous Haitians, followed by the ethnic Moroccan. As a result of limited financial resources, they were unable to build a mosque or school until 1985, when a residence was converted into a mosque and a minaret was constructed. In 2000, Nawoon Marcellus, a member of Fanmi Lavalas from San Raphael, became the first Muslim elected to the Chamber of Deputies of Haïti.


Mali Emperor Mansa Musa’s sensational pilgrimage to Mecca, spreads Mali´s fame across Sudan to Egypt, the Islamic and European worlds. [“Mansa” means “emperor.”] He brought with him hundreds of camels laden with gold. Under Mansa Musa, diplomatic relations with Tunis and Egypt were opened, and Muslim scholars and artisans brought into to the empire; and Mali appeared on the maps of Europe. .Islam penetrated Mali´s elaborate court life and thrived in commercial sahel centers such as Jenne and Tombouctou or Timbuktu, on the great bend of the Niger River. Mali’s legacy is the enduring cultural affiliation shared by the Mande peoples (especially Malinke, Bambara, and Soninke speakers) who today occupy large parts of West Africa.

Early written literature of Sub-Saharan West Africa was influenced by Islamic writings, in both form and content, as transmitted by North Africans.

After 1400 Court intrigue and succession disputes sapped the strength of the extended Mali Empire, and northern towns and provinces revolted, making way for the Empire of Songhai to emerge from the vassal state of Gao. One of the first peoples to become independent, the Songhai, began to spread along the Niger River. Much of Mali fell to the Songhai Empire in the western Sudan during the 15th century.


Portuguese explorers were the first Europeans to begin trade in Nigeria in the port they named Lagos and in Calabar. The Europeans traded with the ethnicities of the coast and also negotiated a trade in slaves, to the detriment and profit of many Nigerian ethnicities. Following the Napoleonic Wars, the British expanded trade with the Nigerian interior. Consequently many of the citizens of the former slave nations of the British Empire are descended from a Nigerian ethnic group. In 1885 British claims to a West African sphere of influence received international recognition and in the following year the Royal Niger Company was chartered under the leadership of Sir George Taubman Goldie. In 1900 the company’s territory came under the control of the British government, which moved to consolidate its hold over the area of modern Nigeria. On January 1, 1901 Nigeria became a British protectorate, part of the British Empire, the foremost world power at the time. Many wars against subjugation had been fought by the states of what later became Nigeria against the British Empire in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Notably of those were the British Conquest of Benin in 1897 and the Anglo-Aro War from 1901—1902. The restraint or complete destruction of these states opened up the Niger area to British rule.

In 1914, the Niger area was formally united as the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria. Administratively, Nigeria remained divided into the northern and southern provinces and Lagos colony. Western education and the development of a modern economy proceeded more rapidly in the south than in the north, with consequences felt in Nigeria’s political life ever since. Slavery was not finally outlawed in northern Nigeria until 1936.[15]

Following World War II, in response to the growth of Nigerian nationalism and demands for independence, successive constitutions legislated by the British Government moved Nigeria toward self-government on a representative and increasingly federal basis. By the middle of the 20th century, the great wave for independence was sweeping across Africa.


On October 1, 1960, Nigeria gained its independence from the United Kingdom. The new republic incorporated a number of people with aspirations of their own sovereign nations. Newly independent, Nigeria’s government was a coalition of conservative parties: the Nigerian People’s Congress (NPC), a party dominated by Northerners and those of the Islamic faith, and the Igbo and Christian dominated National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) led by Nnamdi Azikiwe, who became Nigeria’s maiden Governor-General in 1960. Forming the opposition was the comparatively liberal Action Group (AG), which was largely dominated by the Yoruba and led by Obafemi Awolowo.[16] The cultural and political differences between Nigeria’s dominant ethnicities, the Hausa (‘Northerners’), Igbo (‘Easterners’) and Yoruba (‘Westerners’), were sharp.

An imbalance was created in the polity by the result of the 1961 plebiscite. Southern Cameroon opted to join the Republic of Cameroon while northern Cameroon chose to remain in Nigeria. The northern part of the country was now far larger than the southern part. The nation parted with its British legacy in 1963 by declaring itself a Federal Republic, with Azikiwe as its first president. When elections came about in 1965, the AG was outmanoeuvred for control of Nigeria’s Western Region by the Nigerian National Democratic Party, an amalgamation of conservative Yoruba elements backed heavily by the Federal Government amid dubious electoral circumstances.[

Nigeria is home to a variety of religions which tend to vary regionally. This situation accentuates regional and ethnic distinctions and has often been seen as a source of sectarian conflict amongst the population.[73] The largest religions of Nigeria are Islam and Christianity,[74] including few followers of indigenous religions. Based on a 2003 survey, 50.5% were Muslim, 48.2% were Christian (15% Protestant, 13.7% Catholic, and 19.6% other Christian), and followers of other religions were 1.4%.[75] The north is predominantly Muslim, there are large numbers of both Muslims and Christians in in the Middle Belt, including the Federal Capital Territory. In the southwest, Christians and Muslims reside equally, southern regions are predominantly Christian, in the east, Catholics, Anglicans, and Methodists are the majority with few traditional beliefs, while the Niger Delta region is mainly Christian.[74]

The majority of Nigerian Muslims are Sunni, but a significant Shia and Sufi minority exists (see Shia in Nigeria) and a small minority of Ahmadiyya. Some northern states have incorporated Sharia law into their previously secular legal systems, which has brought about some controversy.[76] Kano State has sought to incorporate Sharia law into its constitution.[77] Christian Nigerians are about evenly split between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. Leading Protestant churches are the Church of Nigeria, of the Anglican communion, and the Nigerian Baptist Convention. The Yoruba area contains a large Anglican population, while Igboland is predominantly Catholic.

Across Yorubaland in the west many people are adherents to Yorubo/Irunmole spirituality with its philosophy of divine destiny that all can become Orisha (ori, spiritual head; sha, is chosen: to be one with Olodumare (oni odu, the God source of all energy; ma re, enlighthens / triumphs).Other minority religious and spiritual groups in Nigeria include Hinduism,[78] Judaism, The Bahai Faith, and Chrislam (a syncretic faith melding elements of Christianity and Islam).[79] Further, Nigeria has become an African hub for the Grail Movement[80] and the Hare Krishnas.


740 Islamicized Africans (Moors) invade Spain, and rule it unti1 1492. The Moors brought agriculture, engineering, mining, industry, manufacturing, architecture, and scholarship, developing Spain into the center for culture and learning throughout Europe for almost 800 years until the fall of Granada in 1492.

It is worth noticing that when the Muslim forces invaded some areas they brought technology cultural assimilation and eventual prosperity, without forcing the populace to adopt their religion. On the other hand wherever Christians invasion occurred they forced the populace to adopt their religion and genocide of the local inhabitants was a norm.

The same is also affirmed from the salve treatment and forced conversion of, pre dominantly Muslim slaves, to Christianity. Forcing them to consume Pork for nutrition, to carry out their industrious duties. One reason for popularizing the Pork meat consumption is that the Pork meat, despite its extremely harmful qualities, had always been cheaper than any other kind of meat.

In this pursuit they went to the extent that in some of the explanations of the Bible the consumption of Pork meat was made permissible. Spain has given many eminent Muslim scholars and scientist, such as Avecenna, Averose (Abud Sina and Abu Rushed) and many more. West is heavily indebted to them for their work and knowledge, due to which it has transformed form dark ages to modernity.


1468 Songhai (or Songhay) Empire, centered at Gao, dominates the central Sudan after Sunni Ali Ber´s army defeated the largely Tuareg contingent at Tombouctou (or Timbuktu, site of the famous University of Sankore, center of Islamic learning & book trade) and captured the city. An uncompromising warrior-king, Ali Ber extended the Songhai empire by controlling the Niger River with a navy of war vessels. He also refused to accept Islam, and instead advanced African traditions.

The death of Sunni Ali Ber created a power vacuum in the Songhai Empire, and his son was soon deposed by Mamadou Toure who ascended the throne in 1492 under the name Askia (meaning “general”) Muhammad, another subject of great oral epics. During his reign which ended in 1529, Askia Muhammad made Songhai the largest empire in the history of west Africa. He restored the previously discouraged tradition of Islamic learning to the University of Sankore, and Timbuktu (or Tombouctou, population 50,000) became known as a major center of Islamic learning and book trade. Askia Muhammad´s consolidation of Muslim power worked against encroaching Christian forces. The empire went into decline, however, after 1528, when the now-blind Askia Muhammad was deposed by his son.

Nomadic Kunta Arabs began to preach and spread mystic Sufi Islam throughout the western Sudan. The Fulani, a nomadic pastoral people, moving slowly eastward from Senegal, also gain converts for Islam through mid-16th century. During this period, Islam became a personal religion among many Africans rather than merely a religion of state. In fact, Islam appears to have declined among the ruling classes, and non-Muslim dynasties ruled in old Muslim strongholds until the 18th century, when Islamic reform and revival movements began. 1591 Fall of Songhai Empire: Attracted by its wealth, the armies of al-Mansur of Morocco overran the Songhai capital of Gao. Following the collapse of Songhai, a number of small kingdoms strove to dominate the western Sudan, instigating continual strife and economic decline.

During the breakup of the Songhai empire, an intense period of slave activity occurred in west Africa at the hands of Arab Islamic missionaries and European traders. 16th c. Sudanese Islamic scholars like Abd al-Rahman al-Sadi, author of Tarikh as-Sudan (History of the Sudan), set down the oral traditions of the western Sudanic empires of Ghana, Mali, and Songhai in the style of Arabic histories. Late 1500s To the east of Songhai, between the Niger River and Lake Chad, the Hausa city-states and the Kanem-Bornu Empire had been established since the 10th century. After the fall of Songhai, the trans-Saharan trade moved eastward, where centers of flourishing commerce and urban life developed. Islam appears to have been introduced into the Hausa states from 11th to 14th centuries

South Africa.

Islam in South Africa predates the colonial period, and consisted of isolated contact with Arab and East Africa traders. Many South African Muslims are described as Coloureds, notably in the Western Cape, including those whose ancestors came as slaves from the Indonesian archipelago (the Cape Malays). Others are described as Indians, notably in Kwazulu-Natal, including those whose ancestors came as traders from South Asia; they have been joined by others from other parts of Africa as well as white or black South African converts. However, the current Muslim tradition in the country dates from the arrival of Sheikh Abdurahman Matebe Shah, a Malay sheikh from Sumatra, in 1668.[1][2] Sheikh Abdurahman Matebe Shah was exiled to Constantia, Cape Town in the Cape by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) following his resistance to the Dutch occupation of the East Indies. The sheikh used his exile to consolidate the teaching of Islam among slaves in the Cape, many of whom came from Muslim backgrounds in Malaysia and Bengal.[1]

During the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century the Dutch continued to exile Muslim leaders from Batavia to the Cape: they included Sheikh Yusuf of Bantam, who lived at Faure in Cape Town. Probably the first imam to live in Cape Town was Said Alochie of Mocha in Yemen, who was sentenced to work on Robben Island for ten years in 1747.[citation needed] Said Alochie later moved to Cape Town where he worked as a police constable — an occupation which gave him ample opportunities for visiting slave quarters at night to teach. In 1767 Prince Abdullah Kadi Abu Salaam of Tidore was exiled to the Cape. He wrote a copy of the Quran from memory, and the volume is still preserved in Cape Town; Abdullah assumed leadership of the community in Cape Town and became known as “Tuan Guru”.[citation needed] In 1799 the growth of the community encouraged Cape Town’s Muslims to petition the VOC for permission to build a mosque.[citation needed] Islam was a popular religion among the slaves — its tradition of teaching enabled literate slaves to gain better positions in their masters’ households, and the religion taught its followers to treat their own slaves well.

In 1800’s there were two waves of Muslims that emigrated to South Africa from India. The first began with a wave of immigration by indentured labourers from South India in 1860’s. These labourers were brought to South Africa by the British. 7-10% of these labourers were Muslim. The second wave of immigrants were merchants or traders that arrived from North India and settled in Natal, the Transvaal and the Cape. The first mosque in Natal, Juma Masjid, was built in Grey Street in Durban in 1884. It is now the largest mosque in the Southern Hemisphere.

In 1800’s there were two waves of Muslims that emigrated to South Africa from India. The first began with a wave of immigration by indentured labourers from South India in 1860’s. These labourers were brought to South Africa by the British. 7-10% of these labourers were Muslim. The second wave of immigrants were merchants or traders that arrived from North India and settled in Natal, the Transvaal and the Cape. The first mosque in Natal, Juma Masjid, was built in Grey Street in Durban in 1884. It is now the largest mosque in the Southern Hemisphere.

1652 Dutch establish colony at Cape of Good Hope, South Africa; and colonizing Boers (“farmers”), or Afrikaners, begin settling large farms at the expense of San and Khoikhoi, non-Bantu speakers of the region. British seize control of Cape Colony, South Africa, from Dutch. British declare formal control of Cape Colony and increase British immigration in South Africa. Despite government resistance, Boers began to move inland in search of better land and, after 1815, to escape control by the British government. Shaka, Zulu chief, unifies Nguni peoples and forges an impressive fighting force, launching the mfecane (wars of crushing and wandering) against neighboring black Africans and white Europeans throughout southern Africa. Shaka was assassinated in 1828, but Zulu power continued to rise.


Between Arabia and Ethiopia

The land of the Somali people, much of it arid and inhospitable, has for thousands of years been close to civilization and international trade. To the north, just across the Gulf of Aden, is Saba, the land of the legendary Queen of Sheba and the earliest part of Arabia to prosper. To the west is Ethiopia, where the kingdom of Aksum is established by the 5th century BC.

Situated on the so-called Horn of Africa, jutting out into the India Ocean, Somalia’s harbours are natural ports of call for traders sailing to and from India. So the coastline of the region is much visited by foreigners, in particular Arabs and Persians. But in the interior the Somali are left to their own devices.

Colonial competitors: AD 1839-1897

European interest in Somalia develops after 1839, when the British begin to use Aden, on the south coast of Arabia, as a coaling station for ships on the route to India. The British garrison requires meat. The easiest local source is the Somali coast.

France and Italy, requiring similar coaling facilities for their own ships, establish stations in the northern Somali regions. The French develop Djibouti. The Italians are a little further up the coast at Aseb, in Eritrea. When the European scramble for Africa begins, in the 1880s, these are the three powers competing for Somali territory. Soon they are joined by a fourth rival, Ethiopia, where Menelik II becomes emperor in 1889.

France and Britain, after a brief risk of armed confrontation, agree in 1888 on a demarcation line between their relatively minor shares of the coast. The French region around Djibouti becomes formally known as the Cote Française des Somalis (French Coast of the Somalis, commonly referred to in English as French Somaliland). This remains a French colony until becoming independent as the republic of Djibouti in 1977.

British influence in the coastal area around Zeila and Berbera is formalized during the 1880s in a series of treaties promising protection to the chieftains of various local Somali clans. The region becomes a protectorate under the title of British Somaliland.

Although France and Britain have thus acquired control over two valuable stretches of coastline (of increased commercial importance now that the Suez Canal has opened), by far the largest part of Somalia is disputed between Italy and Ethiopia.

Italy establishes protectorates along the coast eastwards beyond British Somaliland, and Italian companies acquire leases on parts of the east-facing Somali coast (where the landlord is the sultan of Zanzibar). Italy agrees spheres of influence amicably with Britain in 1884, placing the border between British Somaliland and Italian Somalia just west of Bender Cassim. At first Italy is also on congenial terms with Ethiopia — notably in the 1889 treaty of Uccialli concerning Eritrea.

But disagreement over the actual meaning of the Eritrean treaty rapidly sours relations between Italy and Ethiopia. By 1896 this results in outright war and in the crushing defeat of the Italians at Aduwa.

Although these events concern only Eritrea, the weakened Italian position has immediate repercussions in Somalia. There is a large Somali region, the Ogaden, which lies between Ethiopia and the coastal part of Somalia where the Italians are active. As yet neither imperial power controls this region, but after Aduwa the Italians are in no position to resist Ethiopian claims to it.

The result is a new settlement agreed between the powers in 1896-7. Ethiopia is granted the Ogaden and is ceded the southern strip of British Somaliland, a region known as the Haud. This arrangement (which brings many Somalis permanently within Ethiopia) holds good as a colonial compromise until the 1920s, when it is upset by the aggressive energies of fascist Italy.

In the intervening years the most dramatic upheaval occurs in British Somaliland, where the uprising led by Mohammed ibn Abdullah Hassan (known to the British at the time as the Mad Mullah) takes two decades to suppress.

Fascism, World War II and independence: AD 1923-1967

A new era of conflict begins in Somalia in 1923 with the arrival in the Italian colony of the first governor appointed by Mussolini, newly in power as Italy’s fascist dictator. A vigorous policy is adopted to develop and extend Italian imperial interests, culminating in the defeat and annexation of Ethiopia in 1936.

The local situation is therefore tense when World War II begins, though there is little immediate chance for the two relatively small colonies of the allies. French and British Somaliland are entirely surrounded by Italian Eritrea, Somalia and Ethiopia — now jointly known as Italian East Africa.

By 1940 the British have withdrawn from their colony, while French Somaliland claims neutrality in keeping with the policy of the Vichy government. However in 1941 British forces recover the whole area (except French Somaliland) from the Italians, thus uniting almost the entire territory of the Somali people under British rule. Meanwhile French Somaliland is being blockaded by the allies. In 1942 the local administration changes allegiance and throws in its lot with the Free French.

Between 1948 and 1950 the situation reverts to the colonial boundaries agreed in 1897. Ethiopia retains the Ogaden and the Haud. French and British Somaliland continue as before. And in 1950 the Italians return to Somalia under a UN trusteeship, with the commitment to bring the colony to independence within ten years. In the event the year 1960 brings independence to both the British and Italian colonies, in June and July respectively. They decide to merge as the Somali Republic, more usually known as Somalia. The French colony has to wait until 1977 before becoming independent as Djibouti.

Somali conflicts: AD 1960-1999

From the start a major political theme in independent Somalia is the need to reunite with three large Somali groups trapped in other states — in French Somaliland, in Ethiopia (the annexed Ogaden and Haud regions) and in northern Kenya.

Failure to make any progress on this issue is largely due to western support for Ethiopia and Kenya, which causes Somalia to look to the Soviet Union for military aid. Nevertheless the Somali government manages to maintain a fairly neutral stance in international affairs during the 1960s — a position which changes dramatically after 1969.

Te winning party in the first elections of the new republic is the SYL or Somali Youth League, formed originally to campaign for independence within British Somaliland. Elections in March 1969 bring the party a larger majority. It is becoming increasingly authoritarian in its rule until — in October of this same year — a policeman assassinates the president, Muhammad Egal.

A few days later, in a mounting political crisis, the commander of the army, Mohamed Siad Barre, seizes power. President Siad has no doubt on which side of the Cold War he intends to align himself. Comrade Marx, Comrade Lenin and Comrade Siad are soon appearing together on banners and posters at government rallies.

Siad introduces a brutal Marxist dictatorship, insisting upon the supremacy of party and nation as opposed to the local clan loyalties which are a strong feature of Somali culture. But it is the clans of Somalia which finally demolish his totalitarian state. The collapse results from Somalia’s running sore, the question of the Ogaden.

In 1977, with Ethiopia in chaos after the fall of Haile Selassie, Somalia attacks Ethiopian garrisons in the Ogaden. Soon a Somali army is even besieging the city of Harar. But President Siad is betrayed by his chosen superpower. The Soviet Union sees a more important potential client in the new Ethiopia.

Early in 1978 the Ethiopian army, using Soviet equipment and reinforced by troops from Cuba, recaptures the Ogaden. The result is the mass exodus of hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees over the borders into Somalia.

In the aftermath of this disaster guerrilla groups, clan-based and regional, are formed in and around Somalia with the intention of toppling Siad’s repressive and centralizing regime. By 1988 the result is full-scale civil war, resulting in the overthrow of Siad in 1991. He withdraws to the safety of his own clan, becoming one warlord among many in this increasingly chaotic nation. In 1991 the faction controlling the former British Somaliland confuses matters by declaring its independence as the republic of Somaliland.


After this in depth analysis of the continent at large and some countries in particular, the conclusion; which seems plausible and genuine, from the angle of inter-continental peace and the welfare of the people of the African-continent, the Christian population´s ; on the pattern of Palestinian transfer from Israeli occupied Palestine, Mass-Transfer should be exercised, rather than dividing the countries into smaller, west manageable dependencies.

This process should be carried out in gradual, humane and peaceful manner where West, the champion of Human rights, should take responsibility to accept those Christians who want to migrate to western countries. The rest should be given the chance to convert to the religion of their forefathers; for greater assimilation and co existence with their owns in the lands of their ancestors. However, no compulsion should be exercised in conversion. The remnants should be protected and be levied the protection-tax-”Khiraj” , as was customary in the Islamic states at the time of Prophet Mohammad and thereafter.

Once the Maximum cleansing is achieved, a Modern Caliphate should be formed for the entire continent. There should be a broad consultative council of the scholars/Experts from different walk of life and background, representing all the countries, who should be advising the chosen/Nominated Head of the council — -The Caliph. All the inter-countries conflicts, issues of mutual interest and those of religious interpretation and implementation should be referred to this council. The decision of the council should be binding on all countries of the continent regardless.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Somalia: Deadly Clashes Uproot Hundreds of Thousands Says UN

Geneva, 28 May (AKI) — Renewed fighting between government troops and armed opposition groups have displaced over 17,000 people from the Somali capital, Mogadishu, over the past month, with more than 14,300 fleeing in the last two weeks alone, the United Nations refugee agency reported on Friday.

This brings to 200,000 the number of Somalis estimated to have been uprooted since the beginning of this year, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The agency noted that the rates of casualties and displacement have increased over the past two weeks, with field reports suggesting that at least 60 people have been killed and more than 50 wounded and injured in street clashes.

The majority of those forced to flee in the past two weeks are displaced within Mogadishu, which already shelters more than 350,000 internally displaced people.

While some families are being hosted by relatives or friends, many more are on their own in the streets of the strife-torn capital.

“The number of displaced families, living in the streets of Mogadishu in extreme conditions is gradually increasing, according to reports from our partners,” UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic told reporters in Geneva.

“These are the most vulnerable and utterly dependent on scarce aid the humanitarian agencies manage to deliver and meagre remittances from relatives living abroad,” he said, adding that hundreds of children are forced to beg in the streets and many women beg in the main markets.

“Our partners in the Somali capital report that people are exhausted, tense and hungry,” Mahecic said.

An estimated 1.4 million Somalis are displaced within the Horn of Africa nation, while more than 580,000 live as refugees in the neighbouring countries.

The country continues to be plagued by fighting between the forces of the transitional government and its supporters and Islamist rebels, who have gained control of many areas of the country.

Nearly 3 million people Somalis are dependent on aid, out of a total population of nearly 8 million — one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, according to the UN.

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


Amnesty Accuses Italy; Shameful, Frattini

(ANSAmed) — ROME, MAY 27 — Italy’s immigration department has been heavily criticised in Amnesty International’s 2010 report on ‘The situation of human rights in the world’. The NGO has pointed the figure at the conduct of authorities who, in some cases, “have jeopardised the rights of migrants and asylum seekers” as well as their lives, leaving them at sea “for days without food or water”. These are accusations that the Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, currently on a visit to Caracas, has “returned to the sender”, branding them “shameful”. “Italy is certainly the European country that has saved the most people at sea. Amnesty has always done its bit, but our figures are very clear”. For this reason, the Minister says, the organisation’s report is “shameful with regard to the men and women in our police force, who save people day after day, quite the opposite of what Amnesty says”. The recurring theme in the 2010 report — which was presented to the press today and is published by Fandango — are the “shortcomings” of the international justice system, with “some large powers thinking that they are above the law”, placing politics in the way of justice. It is no coincidence that the organisation has appealed for G20 to show “coherence”, asking member countries who are yet to make the move — including the United States, China and Russia — to recognise as soon as possible the International Penal Court, the first permanent international court to rule on crimes such as genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. But Amnesty has also identified “shortcomings” in Italy. In the five pages of the annual report dedicated to the situation in Italy, the organisation stigmatises the treatment suffered by the Roma, who are victims of “forced, illegal clearances” (in Rome and Milan) and excluded from “equal access to education, housing, healthcare and employment”. Stronger still are the accusations surrounding the management of immigration, in particular the practice of expulsion. “Efforts made by the authorities to control immigration have jeopardised the rights of migrants and asylum seekers”. Italy, for example, “has continued to expel people to places in which they were at risk of a violation of human rights” — in this case Libya — “without weighing up their need for asylum and international protections”. Moreover, Amnesty says, “the Italian and Maltese governments, who disagree on their respective obligations to conduct life-saving operations at sea, have abandoned migrants for days without food or water, putting their lives at serious risk”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Arizona Governor Removes State’s Top Attorney From Defense of Immigration Law

Gov. Jan Brewer has pushed aside the state’s attorney general in Arizona’s defense of its new law clamping down on illegal immigrants, accusing him of conspiring with the Obama administration as it considers whether to sue the state.

Brewer issued a statement late Friday night saying her legal team will defend the state against lawsuits challenging the measure. She invoked a provision in the law to have private attorneys represent the state. They already are representing her in some of the legal challenges to the law that name her as a defendant.

But Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard says Brewer can’t kick him off the case. Goddard’s top aide, Tim Nelson, said Saturday that Brewer can’t invoke the provision because it hasn’t taken effect yet and that there are constitutional questions.


Even though Goddard has criticized the law, he vowed to defend it after the meeting.

“While Senate bill 1070 is far from perfect, it is a response to a very serious problem,” he said at the news conference. “I told the lawyers that it would be just plain wrong for the federal government to sue to stop Arizona from dealing with something that the federal government has ignored for so many years.”

But Brewer wasn’t convinced, saying the immigration law she signed gave her the authority to assemble the state’s legal team because of the Legislature’s “lack of confidence” in Goddard’s “willingness to vigorously defend this legislation that is so critical to protecting the safety and welfare of Arizona’s citizens.”

“Due to Attorney General Goddard’s curious coordination with the U.S. Department of Justice today and his consistent opposition to Arizona’s new immigration laws, I will direct my legal team to defend me and the state of Arizona rather than the attorney general in the lawsuits challenging Arizona’s immigration laws,” she said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Inter-Ethnic Clashes in Centre of Athens

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS MAY 28 — Once again the centre of Athens has become the site of episodes of violence between groups of immigrants of different nationalities. According to police, about one hundred immigrants from Bangladesh and Afghanistan were involved in the clashes, in which people used clubs and threw stones. Police arrested 10 individuals and opened an investigation to determine the causes of the violence. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Maroni: Italy a Model But Europe Has Role

(ANSAmed) — VARESE, MAY 28 — Italy has succeeded in stopping the flow if illegal immigrants thanks to its accords made with countries of departure and those of transit, but Europe should be doing more to support “the efforts being made by our country, which could become the European Union’s ambassador to the African states”. Italy’s Interior Minister, Roberto Maroni, was speaking at the presentation press conference for the meeting of the G6 ministers at the Estense Palace in Varese, Lombardy. At the meeting, which is also being attended by the European Commissioner for Internal Affairs, Cecilia Malmstrom, Maroni announced: “I am stressing the role that Europe has to play and which it is not yet playing to a satisfactory extent, in managing migrant flows. We need to manage our borders better, which for us means the Mediterranean. This is no easy task and we are expending a great deal of energy and resources in performing it. And it is something we are doing,” the Italian minister underlined, “for the whole of Europe. It follows that the EU should supply it with the means, the implements and the resources for patrolling the Mediterranean”. On a parallel basis, the minister continued, “diplomatic engagement has to be developed with the countries of origin of these flows. On this level, Italy has long been active and can boast experience no other nation possesses. I intend to point out the accord we have made with Libya as a model to Ms Malmstrom and to my colleagues from other countries. It could form a template for such agreements for the whole of Europe”. “I would propose that Italy acknowledged in the role of Europe’s ambassador to African nations, but the role of the European Union is essential: stopping the flows of migrants into Italy is all well and good, but it is not enough if this only serves to deviate the routes through Spain and Greece. So concerted action is required on the part of the whole of the EU”.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Poles, Romanians and Americans Lead Immigration to Germany

Poland, Romania and the United States were the largest sources of immigration to Germany last year, which surged by six percent according to official figures.

A total of 721,000 foreigners immigrated to the country in 2009, up 39,000 from the previous year, the German Statistics Office (Destatis) reported on Wednesday. It was also the first time the numbers of immigrants topped 700,000 since 2005.

Main countries of origin were Poland (123,000), Romania (56,000), the United States (30,000), Turkey (30,000) und Bulgaria (29,000).

The highest number of immigrants, 146,000, moved to the most populous state in Germany, North Rhine-Westphalia. The other two most popular states were southern Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, which each gained 122,000 new residents from abroad.

Among those who immigrated, 606,000 were considered to be foreign — an increase of six percent from 2008. About 58 percent of these people were from other European Union countries.

The rest of the immigrants, numbering 115,000, were returning ethnic Germans. Their numbers were also shown to rise by some 6,000 from the previous year, Destatis reported.

However, despite the increase, the number of immigrants did not make up for those leaving the country. In 2009, about 734,000 people left Germany — creating a deficit of 13,000. Their main destinations were Poland, Romania, Turkey, the United States and Switzerland.

Destatis stressed that migration numbers reveal no background on the motivations behind the figures. The statistics also can’t explain whether a person’s move was permanent or not, the office said.

External link: See the study abstract here (in German) “

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

Culture Wars

Libs Offended by Words … From Justice Earl Warren

Prayer penned by late judge used at Texas textbook meeting

Critics of a recent successful move to restore some of America’s traditional historical references to textbooks in Texas launched a long list of criticisms against a conservative education board member who dared to mention Jesus and the Christian faith in a meeting invocation.

Then the critics discovered the words were penned by the late Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren, whose tenure on the court was marked by the removal of prayer from public schools and other similar moves.


The invocation came near the end of arguments over textbook standards that will be used in Texas for the next 10 years. Board members approved 9-5 a series of changes that emphasize the teaching of American history and rejected attempts by historical revisionists to change significant parts of the nation’s story, officials said.


The textbook dispute caught the attention of columnist Phyllis Schlafly, who noted the Texas school board’s nationwide influence on textbook publishers because of the size of the state’s market.

She pointed out education “experts” in Texas had suggested eliminating from history references to Independence Day, Christopher Columbus, Thomas Edison, Daniel Boone and Neil Armstrong and replacing Christmas with Diwali.

“Liberals don’t like the concept of American exceptionalism. The liberals want to teach what’s wrong with America (masquerading under the code word ‘social justice’) instead of what’s right and successful. The Texas Board voted to include describing how American exceptionalism is based on values that are unique and different from those of other nations,” she said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Turkish Society Continues to Discriminate Against Gays, Survey Says

Turkish public opinion continues to advocate for a total restriction of rights for atheists and homosexuals, according to recent study conducted by Bogaziçi University and the Open Society Association.

The survey meant to gauge tolerance levels in Turkish society is titled “The Otherization and Discrimination in Turkey” and was conducted between Feb. 15 and April 25, in 18 provinces with the participation of 1,811 interviewees.

The most striking result of the survey concerns the question on “who deserves a restriction on their rights?” The answers given by the respondents indicated that the discriminatory tendencies and the level of tolerance have changed little in the last five years.

An astonishing 53 percent of participants strongly believed that the right to freely express a different sexual orientation should be restricted. Similarly, 37 percent of the people sampled denounced the right of believing in no religion, with 59 percent standing against atheists flaunting their lack of religion. Moreover, 28 percent denounced the right of non-Muslims to be open about their religious identity.

The results showed that 72 percent of the sample supported the idea that “those who have a different sexual orientation, like homosexuality, should be open about their sexual identities.”

According to the 2005 results of the survey, 58 percent said non-heterosexuals should not be equally free. The percentage of those who say the rights of those who have a different native language other than Turkish should be restricted is 19 percent, the same figure as the 2005 survey.

Those who say that all ethnicities, religions and sects should be secured by the Constitution make up 74 percent.

Some 36 percent of the interviewees said their primary identity was “being a citizen of Turkey,” whereas a 29 percent thought “having a Turkish national identity” was most important.

Meanwhile, 66 percent said they have no other ethnic culture and they are rooted completely in Turkish culture, while 20 percent said their ethnic culture and language were secondary to Turkish language and culture. Some 8 percent said their language or culture came before Turkish culture while 2 percent said they had absolutely no connection to Turkish culture and language.

The military and the police force were the institutions most responsible for discrimination in the public sphere, according to 20 percent of those surveyed. Civil servants followed them at 7 percent.

In the private domain, discrimination is perceived to take place mostly at the “neighborhood” level, which is followed by the work place at 6 percent, friend groups at 5 percent, the building they live in at 3 percent, stores they shop in at 1 percent.

Some 59 percent, however, said they did not feel “neighborhood pressure.”

Some 67 percent said there was discrimination against women in the workplace, the family and the education system, while 44 percent said mandatory religion classes were discriminatory against Alevis. Some 42 percent of respondents, however, said the courses were not discriminatory.

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


Mobile Phones Responsible for Disappearance of Honey Bee

The growing use of mobile telephones is behind the disappearance of honey bees and the collapse of their hives, scientists have claimed.

Their disappearance has caused alarm throughout Europe and North America where campaigners have blamed agricultural pesticides, climate change and the advent of genetically modified crops for what is now known as ‘colony collapse disorder.’ Britain has seen a 15 per cent decline in its bee population in the last two years and shrinking numbers has led to a rise in thefts of hives.

Now researchers from Chandigarh’s Punjab University claim they have found the cause which could be the first step in reversing the decline: They have established that radiation from mobile telephones is a key factor in the phenomenon and say that it probably interfering with the bee’s navigation senses.

They set up a controlled experiment in Punjab earlier this year comparing the behaviour and productivity of bees in two hives — one fitted with two mobile telephones which were powered on for two fifteen minute sessions per day for three months. The other had dummy models installed.

After three months the researchers recorded a dramatic decline in the size of the hive fitted with the mobile phon, a significant reduction in the number of eggs laid by the queen bee. The bees also stopped producing honey.

The queen bee in the “mobile” hive produced fewer than half of those created by her counterpart in the normal hive.

They also found a dramatic decline in the number of worker bees returning to the hive after collecting pollen. Because of this the amount of nectar produced in the hive also shrank.


Tim Lovett, of the British Beekeepers Association, said that hives have been successful in London where there was high mobile phone use.

“Previous work in this area has indicated this [mobile phone use] is not a real factor,” he said. “If new data comes along we will look at it.”

He said: “At the moment we think is more likely to be a combination of factors including disease, pesticides and habitat loss.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]