Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20100619

Financial Crisis
»Syria: Economic Intelligence Unit Improves Rating
»Global Poll Shows Muslims Leery of US and Obama
»Obama’s Oil Spill
Europe and the EU
»EU: Nearly 80:000 Asylum Seekers Welcomed in 2009
»France: Gen. Bigeard Dies, Protagonist Battle of Algiers
»Franco-Spanish School of Fashion in Madrid
»Iceland Turns Away From EU
»Italian Natuzzi to Open 8 New Shops in Turkey
»Italy: Cooperation: Commercial Bridge Sicily-Syria Launched
»Med: Negotiations Continue on Exceptions
»One-Third of Germans Allowed to Watch World Cup at Work
»Report From the Kiev Conference
»Sweden Approves New Nuclear Reactors
»UK: ‘Against Fascism in All Its Colours’ — Statement From Tower Hamlets Activists
»UK: ‘Wicked’ Woman Saw Four Innocent Men Arrested After Slashing Her Own Face and Crying Rape
»UK: Prince Charles Promotes Islam
»UK: Sowing the Seeds of Division
»UK: Sectarian Idiots Attempt to Undermine Anti-Fascist Unity in Tower Hamlets
»Albania: Racing Towards Europe, But Past is Not Forgotten
»Albania: Challenge to Enter EU Starts With Infrastructure
»World Cup: Serbian Fans Celebrate Win Over Germany
Mediterranean Union
»Greece-Libya: New Submarine Fibre Optic Cable by End of 2011
North Africa
»Hitler’s ‘Number One Anti-Semite’ Converted to Islam, Worked for Nasser and Nazi Underground
»Morocco: World Bank Loan for Education, Roads and Water
»Tunisia: Aquaculture Increasing
Israel and the Palestinians
»Israeli Deputy FM Thanks Italy for Supporting Israel’s Right to Self-Defense
Middle East
»Erdogan Fans Anti-Israeli, Anti-American Sentiments for Political Gain
»Iran is Capable of Firing Hundreds of Missiles at Europe, Warns U.S.
»Iran’s New Revolutionary Politics
»Turkey: Eight Soldiers Killed by ‘Kurdish Rebels’
»Two New Blunders by U.S. Government in Middle East
»Medvedev Pushes Ruble Reserve Currency to Cut Dollar Dominance
South Asia
»Afghanistan: Spain Confirms Troop Withdrawal in Summer 2011
»Pakistan: Drone Attack Kills Militants in Border Region
»Pakistan: Militants Free Accomplices in Karachi Court
Sub-Saharan Africa
»The Dreaded Vuvuzela Claims Its First Victim: Woman Bursts Her Windpipe ‘By Blowing Too Hard’
»World Cup: Website Offers Tips for Muslim Fans
»A Grand Design: Made to Order
»Understanding Muslims’ Mindset

Financial Crisis

Syria: Economic Intelligence Unit Improves Rating

(ANSAmed) — DAMASCUS, JUNE 18 — The economic think tank, Economic Intelligence Unit, has reviewed its rating of Syria’s sovereign debt in an upwards direction, raising it from “CCC” to “B”. According to the Italian Foreign Trade Commission in Damascus, the promotion is due to an improvement in the economic climate and a relatively modest trade deficit as well as a better state of the country’s finances. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Global Poll Shows Muslims Leery of US and Obama

Muslims around the globe remain uneasy about the U.S. and are increasingly disenchanted with President Barack Obama, according to a poll that suggests his drive to improve relations with the Muslim world has had little impact.

Even so, the U.S. image is holding strong in many other countries and continues to be far better than it was during much of George W. Bush’s presidency, according to the survey.

There is one glaring exception: Mexico, where 62 percent expressed favorable views of the U.S. just days before an Arizona law cracking down on illegal immigrants was signed in April, but only 44 percent did so afterward.

The findings by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, conducted in April and May in the United States and 21 other countries by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, come amid a global economic downturn and U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The poll has been measuring the views of people around the world since 2002.

Among the seven countries surveyed with substantial Muslim populations, the U.S. was seen favorably by just 17 percent in Egypt, Turkey and Pakistan and 21 percent in Jordan. The U.S.’s positive rating was 52 percent in Lebanon, 59 percent in Indonesia and 81 percent in Nigeria, where Muslims comprise about half the population.

None of those figures was an improvement from last year. There were slight dips in Jordan and in Indonesia, where Obama spent several years growing up. Egypt saw a 10-point drop, even though Obama gave a widely promoted June 2009 speech in Cairo aimed at reaching out to the Muslim world.

In all seven of those countries, the percentage of Muslims expressing confidence in Obama has also dropped since last year. Only in Nigeria and Indonesia do majorities of Muslims voice confidence in him; in Obama’s worst showing, just 8 percent in Pakistan do.

The survey found that majorities of the public in Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Indonesia, Lebanon and Pakistan say the U.S. could someday be a military threat to their country.

“You get a sense of Muslim disappointment with Barack Obama,” said Andy Kohut, the Pew president, who attributed it to discontent with U.S. policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to expectations raised by Obama’s Cairo speech.

The surveys were taken before Israel’s deadly May 31 clash with a flotilla of boats trying to break the blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza, which sparked widespread condemnation of Israel.

In the rest of the world, the U.S. and Obama generally fare better.

The 6 in 10 in Germany and Spain who view the U.S. favorably has doubled from the lows reached under Bush. The U.S. image is also significantly better than it was under Bush in Russia, China, France, Argentina, South Korea and Japan. Obama is broadly supported, but the percentages expressing confidence in him have ebbed in 14 countries polled.

In only five countries do majorities think the U.S. considers other nations when setting its foreign policy. Support for U.S. anti-terrorism efforts and Obama’s handling of economic problems is generally strong, but there is significant opposition to American involvement in Afghanistan and little faith that a stable government will emerge in Iraq.

The poll also found that:

-In the seven Muslim nations polled, the portion of Muslims saying suicide attacks are sometimes justified ranged from 39 percent in Lebanon to 5 percent in Turkey. Nowhere did Muslims give majority support to Osama bin Laden or his al-Qaida terrorist group.

-In every nation but Poland, China and Brazil, most are unhappy with how things are going in their country, though dissatisfaction has grown in only three countries in the past year. Attitudes about each country’s economic situation are similarly negative, though a bit brighter than a year ago.

-Nine in 10 Chinese are happy with their country’s economy, by far the highest mark of any nation polled. China is seen more positively than negatively in 15 countries, and in eight countries China is viewed as the world’s leading economic power — up from two who said so last year.

-Only in Pakistan does a majority favor Iran having nuclear weapons. In most countries, economic sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program get higher support than military action. But significant numbers are prepared for a showdown: In 16 countries, more people who oppose Iran’s nuclear program consider stopping Tehran from getting such weapons more important than avoiding a military conflict.

-More people in every country except Egypt and Jordan said the environment should be a priority, even at the cost of economic growth and jobs. But only in nine countries are half or more willing to pay higher prices to address global warming.

-Three-fourths of Brazilians say their team will win this year’s World Cup soccer tournament, easily the most confident showing of the countries polled. Just 13 percent of Americans picked the U.S.

The Pew Global Attitudes Project was conducted by the Pew Research Center in 22 countries from April 7 through May 8, though the exact dates varied by country. Interviews were mostly conducted face-to-face, though telephone interviews were used in the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Spain and Japan.

Sample sizes ranged from 700 people in Japan to 3,262 in China. National samples were used in all countries except China, India and Pakistan, where those interviewed were disproportionately urban. The margin of sampling error ranged from plus or minus 2.5 percentage points in China to 5 points in Germany.

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

Obama’s Oil Spill

Most Americans don’t know that three days after the Deepwater Horizon platform sank to the floor of the Gulf of Mexico, along with any evidence of what caused the underwater pipeline explosion below the safety cutoff valves, the Dutch government called Obama and offered to loan BP ships outfitted with oil-skimming booms, and a plan to quickly build sand barriers to protect the marshlands that everyone knew would be affected worst if the seepage was left uncontained and the oil reached the Louisiana coastline. The Heritage Foundation reported that, according to one Dutch newspaper, the European oil companies that offered to help BP said that left to do the job alone they would have contained the oil and completely cleaned all of the oil scum from the Gulf of Mexico in four months. With the help of the US government, the report said, the cleanup would have be complete in three months or less. According to estimates from US Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen and BP, the cleanup would take an estimated nine months—after they got the leak plugged.

Again, what the American people don’t know is that 13 different countries offered to help clean the oil sludge from the Gulf. And, finally, what the American people don’t know is that the Obama Administration turned all of them down. Obama had a crisis in the making and as Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel so aptly told the media during the housing and credit disasters that led to the piling on of over $3 trillion in new taxes on generations of Americans in February, 2009, you “…never let a crisis go to waste.”


But what should worry the American people most is the new life Obama’s oil crisis has pumped into the failed Cap & Trade legislation. Remember Cap & Trade? The Carbon Fuel tax? Cap & Trade or, if you prefer, Cap & Tax, didn’t die during the December, 2009 blizzard that greeted the environmental bureaucrats flying into Copenhagen, Denmark to attend the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (which was initially called the UN Framework Convention on Global Warming) until climate skeptics hacked hundreds of computer files and private emails exchanges between the world’s leading global warming “experts,” and released the data to the media in Europe on Nov. 9, 2009, less than a month before the Copenhagen Conference. Obama intended, on the last day of the conference, to back door Cap & Trade into the United States by signing what was known as the Copenhagen Protocol. Preparing for the Conference, the House enacted their version of Cap & Trade, the Waxman-Markey Bill (be sure you remember both Henry Waxman [D-CA] and Edward Markey [D-MA] on election day.) That legislation will ultimately bankrupt every American, and control the settings on the thermostat in your house, summer and winter alike. (That is, if you still have a home after Cap & Trade destroys the company you work for and you no longer have a job.)

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

EU: Nearly 80:000 Asylum Seekers Welcomed in 2009

Brussels, 18 June (AKI) — Members of the European Union granted asylum to 78,800 people in 2009 — nearly 4,000 more than the previous year. According to Eurostat, the EU’s official statistics agency, 75,100 people were given asylum in 2008.

In 2009, the highest number of people were granted protection in the United Kingdom (12,500) followed by Germany (12,100), France (10,400), and Sweden (3,600).

Italy granted asylum protection to 8,600 people.

Somalis were the single largest group granted protection from the 27-member EU. Of the 13,400 Somalis granted asylum, 2,385 were given asylum in Italy.

“The rate of recognition varies considerably among member states, which is partly due to the differing citizenships of applicants in each member state,” Eurostat said in a statement.

Of the the 260,000 asylum applicants in 2009, nearly one quarter of them were minors.

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

France: Gen. Bigeard Dies, Protagonist Battle of Algiers

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, JUNE 18 — One of the main protagonists of the colonial wars in Indo-China and Algeria, one of France’s most decorated officers, General Marcel Bigeard, died this morning at the age of 94, on the day of the 70th anniversary of the Appeal launched from London by General De Gaulle. A hero of the battle of Dien Bien Phu, he fought until May 7 1954 and returned to France after spending time in prison. He is also one of the most controversial protagonists of the Algerian war, though he was against the putsch of the generals in Algiers in 1961. He has been accused of ordering paratroopers of the third regiment to torture militants of the FLN (National Liberation Front). In 1957 Bigeard, colonel at the time, commanded this regiment. Electric charges on the genitals were the least of the horrors the French colonists were guilty of, according the many victims. The general did not like to discuss this sinister aspect of the independence war, but at the end of the ‘90s, when his tenth book was published, he admitted that some officers used the method of torture. “Was it easy to do nothing when you saw women and children with severed limbs after an explosion?”, he said. A few months later he said that torture “was a necessary evil”, “a mission ordered by political power”. He denied any direct involvement in the practice however. In the years after, Bigeard and General Jacques Massu, under whose authority he fell and who often disagreed, accused each other of torturing. A survivor of the battle of Algiers, fighter for national independence Louisette Ighilahriz revealed in 2000 that she had been tortured by French troops on orders of Bigeard, and accused both officials of being “the instigators of dirty work”. General Bigeard , who by the end of the ‘80s called himself “an old glorious bastard”, continued to deny the accusations, saying that he is the victim of a plot. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Franco-Spanish School of Fashion in Madrid

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, JUNE 18 — A new Franco-Spanish school of fashion, creation and management, is to open in Madrid in October this year thanks to an agreement between the French fashion network Mod’Art International and Spain’s International Institute of Art and Fashion, a private body. It is to be called Mod’Art Madrid, on the model of Mod’Art Paris and will train fashion specialists in three-year courses. This is a very active sector in Spain, which boasts such popular brands as Zara and Mango, or Desigual, which is about to open a boutique in Paris’ Opera Quarter. The school is to be located within the premises of the French Institute in Madrid, which celebrates its centenary this year. As the promoter of the project, the Cultural Councillor at the French Embassy, Antonin Baudry, pointed out, Spain’s fashion sector employs 145,000 people and has an annual turnover of eleven billion euros. The project aims at strengthening cooperation between the two nations. The Mod’Art International network already has branches in Paris, Budapest, Belgrade, Lima, Shanghai, Delhi, Bombay and Ho Chi Minh City. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Iceland Turns Away From EU

Meeting at the 17 June European Council summit in Brussels, the EU’s 27 member states have decided to open accession negotiations with Iceland. However, Le Figaro notes that “solid support for Reyjavik in Europe is not matched by a consensus on the EU in Iceland.” In late 2008 at the height of the crisis which brought their economy to its knees, EU membership was viewed as a lifeline by the citizens of Iceland. But now the Parisian daily reports that the situation has changed: “More than 60% of Icelanders, who are concerned about the ongoing Icesave bank dispute with London and the Hague, would vote against EU membership. Worse still,” continues Le Figaro, “a recent poll has found that 57% of the population are in favour of withdrawing the application to join the EU, and a multi-party group of MPs has recently brought a motion before parliament to scrap any further negotiations. For two thirds of the population, the 990 million krónur (€6.2 million/ £5 million) devoted to the accession budget would be better spent elsewhere…”

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

Italian Natuzzi to Open 8 New Shops in Turkey

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JUNE 7 — Italian furniture company Natuzzi will open 8 new shops in Turkey, as Anatolia news agency reports quoting Mino Federico, Natuzzi’s representative for Middle East, as saying. Federico said that they decided to invest in Turkey due furniture sector’s remarkable share in economy and conscious consumer profile, adding that Turkish economy was stable and powerful according to several reports by international finance organizations. Federico said Natuzzi already had two shops in Etiler and Florya in Istanbul and opened its first shop in the capital of Ankara at ANSE shopping mall last week. He said they wanted to open 8 others in Antalya, Izmir, Bursa, Mersin and Gaziantep provinces. Natuzzi Group was founded in 1959 by Pasquale Natuzzi, current Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Group Stylist. It designs, produces and markets sofas, armchairs and living room accessories. Natuzzi is the largest Italian furniture company with 2009 turnover of 515.4 million euro, and is the world leader in leather upholstery. In 1993, Natuzzi Group became the only foreign furniture company to list on Wall Street. 90% of the Group’s turnover is generated outside Italy in 123 countries and holds its major market shares in Europe (61%) and Americas (31%). (ANSAmed).

2010-06-07 09:24

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Cooperation: Commercial Bridge Sicily-Syria Launched

(ANSAmed) — PALERMO, JUNE 3 — A commercial bridge to facilitate business collaboration between the Syrian and Sicilian economic systems: this is the goal of ‘Desk Syria 2010, Cooperation in Action’, a project of the Chamber of Commerce of Palermo in collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce of Agrigento, Catania, Messina and Trapani. The project will start on Sunday in Damascus, where a delegation of the Chambers will represent Sicily. This is the first time that commercial talks are started with Syria, and the first time that a Chamber of Commerce has direct access to European funds for this kind of initiative. ‘Desk Syria 2010’, funded with the Po-Fesr 2007/2013, includes three important moments of contact between Sicilian and Syrian institutions and enterprises. The first will take place from June 6 to 10 with the Marketing Conference, the first institutional meeting. There will be four sessions on environment and fisheries, restoration, cultural goods, culture and craftsmanship, food and tourism, the sectors in which Sicily wants to start trade with Syria. Two important strategic steps will follow the first stage: a second mission to Syria with Sicilian entrepreneurs who will meet their Syrian colleagues, and an incoming mission, in which Syrian entrepreneurs and businessmen will be welcomed in Palermo. The project will be concluded in June 2011. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Med: Negotiations Continue on Exceptions

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, JUNE 8 — The new European regulation on sustainable fishing in the Mediterranean is currently a dead letter. “No country in southern Europe, including Italy, is in line with the rules of application concerning their operators who fish in Mediterranean waters,” said Oliver Drewes, spokesman for the Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki. Talks are continuing in Brussels over exceptions requested by member states of southern Europe, while the Commissioner has launched a new appeal. “Sustainable fishing can not be postponed,” she said. “I will ensure that the ruling for the Mediterranean is rigorously enforced. The transition period is over, and as a result I ask member states to act”. According to EU scientists, 54% of Mediterranean fish stocks studied are subjected to excessive exploitation. Italy aside, the other countries concerned by the new ruling are France, Spain, Greece, Slovenia, Malta and Cyprus. In Italy’s case, the spokesman said, “authorities have submitted 18 regional plans, but these plans were not complete, and there were some technical details to be cleared up”. As of June 1, the ruling on new fishing techniques in the Mediterranean is in force, except for the areas still under discussion. Brussels hopes that “everything is resolved as soon as possible”. Damanaki did not hide her “disappointment” at the accumulated delays, saying that “member states have had over three years to conform to the laws that they should have adopted themselves in 2006. The situation of the numerous Mediterranean fish stocks is alarming, and fishermen are seeing their catches decrease year on year. This worrying trend has to be reversed, all sides concerned must assume their responsibility and respect the rules that have been established”. The “Mediterranean” regulation integrates environmental concerns into fishing policy with the creation of a network of protected areas, in which fishing activities are limited to protect growth areas, reproduction areas and marine ecosystems. Technical laws have also been established on the fishing methods allowed and on the distances from the coast. As Brussels admits, “it is not reasonable to think that the ruling or the European Union can alone ensure the management of fishing in the Mediterranean. The involvement of all Mediterranean-facing countries is fundamental and the EU is working hard with the multilateral organisations, including the General Commission for Fishing in the Mediterranean, and the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna, in order to improve scientific knowledge and guarantee equal conditions, with the aim pf promoting stability”. (ANSAmed).

2010-06-08 19:31

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

One-Third of Germans Allowed to Watch World Cup at Work

The German football team’s second World Cup match takes place during working hours on Friday, but according to a new poll, not all of the country’s employers will allow workers to watch the game on the job.

The Germany-Serbia game takes place from 1:30 pm to 3:15 pm — but according to the survey conducted for Manager Magazin, 59 percent of the country’s workers are unlikely to gain permission to watch.

About 1,000 personnel managers told Munich based pollster Ifo-Institut that work time rules, shift work, regular customer contact and production goals made doing their employees such a kindness too difficult.

The one-third of bosses that will likely allow their workers to support their team mainly belong to larger companies with more than 250 employees, the poll found. But the time away from desks isn’t a freebie — 88 percent of managers who allow the game break expect their employees to make up the time later.

Just 12 percent of companies said they would keep their employees on the clock during the football game, the magazine reported. The largest portion of these (23 percent) worked in commercial enterprises or had fewer than 50 employees (18 percent).

The Ifo poll results were included in the company’s quarterly “Flexindex” survey, which measures employers’ flexibility in the workplace.

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

Report From the Kiev Conference

[Scroll down for photo gallery and video file]

Panel Discussion, Quest for “Greater Romania”? Traian Basescu’s Agenda for Moldova and Pridnestrovie, and the Stakes for Ukraine (11:00, Thursday, June 17, 2010)

On Thursday, July 17th the American Institute in Ukraine (AIU) hosted an Experts’ ROUNDTABLE featuring Ukrainian and international experts including: Dr. Srdja Trifkovic (Center for International Affairs, Rockford Institute, and the Lord Byron Foundation for Balkan Studies) and James George Jatras (Deputy Director, AIU) on the subject of:

Quest for “Greater Romania”? Traian Basescu’s Agenda for Moldova and Pridnestrovie, and the Stakes for Ukraine.

In recent weeks Romania’s president Traian Basescu has stepped up what may be seen as a campaign for restoration of Bucharest’s dominance over all areas that were part of Romania prior to World War II, or merely claimed as Romanian at Versailles in 1919 by the ideologues of Romania Mare. (See map) This would include, first of all, the former Soviet Republic of Moldova and the quasi-independent republic of Pridnestrovie. In addition, eastern Serbia (Banat, Homolje), north-eastern Bulgaria (Dobruja) and Ukraine (parts of Odessa oblast’ including Izmail and Chernivtsi) are all potentially affected by the new spirit of irredentism emanating from Bucharest. At the same time, some circles in the West, notably in the United States, warn ominously of a supposed “secret protocol” between Moscow and Kiev to establish their control in Moldova and Pridnestrovie.

American Institute in Ukraine was try to give answers to the following questions:…

           — Hat tip: Srdja Trifkovic[Return to headlines]

Sweden Approves New Nuclear Reactors

Sweden’s parliament on Thursday narrowly passed a landmark government proposal allowing the replacement of nuclear reactors at the end of their life span.

The centre-right government announced in February 2009 that it was reversing a decision to phase out nuclear power as part of an ambitious new climate programme.

The country had voted in a 1980 non-binding referendum to phase out its 12 reactors by 2010, a target which was later abandoned by officials.

Since 1999, two of the reactors have been closed. The 10 remaining reactors, at three power stations, account for about half of Sweden’s electricity production.

The measure was backed by the four parties in the coalition government, including the Centre Party which traditionally has been opposed to nuclear power

However, there was heated debate in the house ahead of the vote and at least two Centre Party members of parliament have said they would” follow the voice of conscience” and vote against the measure.

The three main left-leaning opposition parties were set to vote against the proposal, with Green Party spokeswoman Maria Wetterstrand scolding the Centre Party for siding with its coalition partners.

Voting in favour of the proposal, she said, “could mean Sweden will be making itself dependent on nuclear power for 100 more years and there will be 100,000 years of consequences for future generations who will have to take care of the waste,” she said during the parliamentary debate.

Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren, of the Centre Party, meanwhile defended the government’s energy proposal.

“It is a myth that nuclear power is forcing out renewable energies. (Renewables) have won the game. Why then exclude nuclear from the plan?” he asked.

Carlgren also stressed voters would be able to express themselves on the new energy plan, which is set to take effect at the beginning of next year, in the upcoming September 19 elections.

The government’s climate programme stipulates that by 2020 renewable energy should comprise 50 percent of all energy produced, for the Swedish car fleet to be independent of fossil fuels 10 years later and for the country to be carbon neutral by 2050.

In addition to the replacement of aging nuclear reactors, parliament was also debating a new regulation handing reactor owners unlimited damage liability in case of an accident.

The parliamentary vote came as prosecutor Magnus Berggren asked a court in Uppsala, north of Stockholm, to sentence most of the 29 activists arrested Monday for breaking into the Forsmark nuclear power plant to fines and suspended prison sentences.

The activists, dressed up as brightly coloured renewable energy sources wind, water and sun, were part of a Greenpeace demonstration calling on parliamentarians to vote against the nuclear proposal.

Berggren however said there was no need to hold the 28 foreign activists, including 13 Germans, in custody.

However, he called for the court to sentence the lone Swede in the group, who had a record of similar protests across Europe, to a short prison sentence, the TT news agency reported.

More Greenpeace activists stood outside the Swedish parliament Thursdayholding up a banner imploring parliamentarians to “vote no.”

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

UK: ‘Against Fascism in All Its Colours’ — Statement From Tower Hamlets Activists

Nurul Islam and others

The entry of the English Defence League (EDL) into Tower Hamlets to protest against a meeting organized under the auspices of the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS) is a direct provocation to stir up racial tensions, foment dissent among faiths and attempt to bring disunity amongst the communities of the borough.

We condemn the fascist EDL whose sole objective is to act as storm troopers for the British National Party (BNP) and pick up the pieces for them after their miserable rout in the local and national elections in neighbouring Barking and Dagenham Council. Under the guise of being non-political and upholding “English” values they are propagating a virulent form of naked Islamophobia which is rejected by the communities of Tower Hamlets. We will do everything in our power to defend the peace in the borough, protect the lives of Muslims and ensure that the unity amongst all is maintained.

This borough has a rich tradition of successful challenge to fascist forces of the Blackshirts and the National Front. The Battle of Cable Street in the 30,s and the Struggle for Brick Lane following Altab Ali’s murder in the 70’s and the move to oust Derek Beackon in the 90’s is part of our common history. The values of universalism, anti-racism and no compromise with fascism inform our thinking and has become part of our existence. We will build on this rich tradition as we face Oswald Mosley’s grandchildren. As we confront the fascist thugs of EDL we in the Bengali and the Muslim community are being asked to stand side by side with Islamic Forum in Europe (IFE). This we refuse to do. The IFE does not represent the Muslim community in Tower Hamlets. They do not uphold the glorious tradition of Cable Street, Altab Ali and the anti racist movement. Under the patronage of an exclusivist Islam emanating from Saudi Arabia they are attempting to impose it amongst the Bengalis in this borough.

Just as the EDL takes the guise of being ordinary English citizen to hide their true identity of fronting the fascist BNP so do IFE act as the sole representatives of ordinary Muslims but are in fact operating under the direction of their parent organisation Jamaat-e- Islami in Bangladesh. It is Jamaat that was party to the massacre of innocent Bangladeshis in the 1971 war of independence that establish the independent state of Bangladesh. A war Tribunal has been established in Bangladesh to try leaders of Jaamat-e- Islam who are IFE’s real ideological and organisational gurus. In other words IFE represent a virulent form of political Islam that is fascistic in nature like Jaamat Islam and verges on the anti-Semitic and is very exclusivist and undemocratic.

In defending the people of Tower Hamlets and especially the ordinary Muslims we do not have to defend IFE. EDL is attacking the Muslims of this borough and we must protect them. IFE must not be allowed to use this occasion to propagate their very reactionary version of political Islam.

We must also alert the entire community about the opportunist and divisive politics of IFE. Using this latest EDL threat to the local community, it is clear to us that the IFE brigade is trying to terrify the most vulnerable in our community — the Bangladeshi women and children into joining their ranks under the banner of ‘defending the Ummah’. It has come to our knowledge that IFE and its operatives have sent out mass e-mails, text messages and visited members of the community including young children in primary schools ask them to join forces and defend Muslims and East London Mosque from imminent threat of destruction. All progressive forces must realize that the gut reaction to EDL is to defend everybody including IFE because they might be accused of being Islamophobic. But we boldly proclaim that it is not Islamophobic to have no trucks with the heirs of Fascist Jaamat. It is not Islamophobic to denounce the anti democratic credentials of IFE and their Saudi patrons. It is not Islamophobic to show solidarity with the Muslims of Tower Hamlets and their diverse representative organisations without marching under the leadership of IFE. We cannot be consistent in fighting the fascist EDL if we elect the “fascist” IFE as our Imam. In line with the best in the Islamic and Bengali tradition we reject the siren calls of IFE as we prepare to organise against EDL.

On behalf of:

Harmuz Ali (Bangladesh Welfare Association — BWA), Sajjadur Rahman (Brick Lane Mosque), Shamsuddin Shams (Altab Ali Memorial Foundation), Badrul Islam (Centre for Citizenship and Development (CCD), Akikur Rahman (Bangladesh Youth Association), Rajonuddin Jalal (London Bangladeshi Association), Ansar Ahmed Ullah (Nirmul Committee), Mahmoud Rauf (Brick Lane Business Association), Abdus Subhan Gedu (Banglatown Restaurant Association), Ethnic Minority Enterprise Project (EMEP), Abdul Ali Rauf (Chicksand Citizen’s Forum), Collective of Bangladeshi School Governors, Tower Hamlets Parents Centre, Tower Hamlets Parents Association, APASENTH, BYM, Nurul Islam (Kendrio Shaheed Minar Committee), Sundar Miah (Tarling Tenants & Residents Association), Nooruddin Ahmed (Bangladesh Youth League), Ruhul Amin (Progressive Youth Organisation), Taimus Ali (Bangladesh Youth Front), Shahab Uddin Ahmed Belal (Human Rights Secretary, Awami League), Cathy Forrester, Claire Murphy, Phil Maxwell, Terry Fitzpatrick (Blair Peach Project), Syed Sad Ahmed, Fanu Miah (Golden Moon Youth Project), Julie Begum (Swadhinata Trust), Amina Ali (international Forum for Secular Bangladesh), Sujit Sen (Liberation), Gita Sahgal, Subir Sinha, Alice Sielle (St. Barnabas church Bethnal Green), Imtiar Shamim (Muktangon: Nirman Blog), Rayhan Rashid (War Crimes Strategy Forum), Saikat Acharjee (WCSF), Nowrin Tamanna (University of Reading), Anisur Rahman Anis ( Bangladesh Human Rights Council UK), James Swapan Peris ( Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council- European committee), Whitechapel Anarchist Group, Ansarul Haque, Tower Hamlets Muslim Council & Jim Fitzpatrick MP Poplar and Limehouse. Contact for further details:

Mr. Nurul Islam — 07984 610199 / 07836 332262


C/O Bangladesh Welfare Association, 39 Fournier Street, London E1 6QL

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: ‘Wicked’ Woman Saw Four Innocent Men Arrested After Slashing Her Own Face and Crying Rape

A woman who sparked a £150,000 police investigation by ripping her clothes and giving herself a black eye, then lying about a violent sex attack, has been told she will be jailed.

Four students spent nearly three days behind bars as a result of the convincing injuries Leyla Ibrahim inflicted on herself, with one of the suspects attempting to kill himself.

But detectives became suspicious of the 22-year-old’s story and the men were released without charge.

It emerged Ibrahim invented the attack after a row with a male friend when he refused to lend her the money for a taxi home after a night out.

Deciding she ‘wanted to teach people a lesson’, a court heard she cut and tore the blue frilly dress she was wearing as well as her black leggings and bra, leaving her breasts partially exposed.

She also hacked off clumps of her own hair, gave herself a black eye and a suspected broken cheekbone, scratched her breasts and legs and finally left one of her shoes at the scene of the supposed attack.

Last night, however, the former children’s holiday rep was behind bars after being convicted of perverting the course of justice.

She wept as the judge denied her bail, telling her a prison term ‘of some length’ was inevitable for ‘wickedly fabricating a grave crime’ which had caused ‘countless anguish’.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Prince Charles Promotes Islam

Click here for the story.

Following in the tradition of the traitorous British aristocrats who backed Nazi Germany, the craven Prince Charles is supporting fascistic, fundamentalist Islam.

Did Charles secretly convert to Islam?

Click here for the tantalizing evidence.

[Comments from JD: Do follow the link to the tantalizing evidence. ]

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Sowing the Seeds of Division

Media Statement by Islamic Forum of Europe 17 June 2010

The divisive and misleading press release by the so called Unity Platform Against Racism & Fascism is a disgraceful attempt to undermine the united stand against the EDL.It begins with words that are immediately contradicted by what follows: “We will do everything in our power to defend the peace in the borough, protect the lives of Muslims and ensure that the unity amongst all is maintained.”

They then go on to destroy that unity by attacking the very target of the EDL.”The IFE does not represent the Muslim community in Tower Hamlets.” Neither IFE, nor ELM for that matter, has ever claimed to represent the Muslim community.

“Under the patronage of an exclusivist Islam emanating from Saudi Arabia they are attempting to impose it amongst the Bengalis in this borough.” The IFE has no links whatsoever with Saudi Arabia or any country outside Europe, nor has it sought to impose anything on anyone in Tower Hamlets or elsewhere.

“IFE acts as the sole representatives of ordinary Muslims but are in fact operating under the direction of their parent organization Jamaat Islam in Bangladesh.” IFE has never claimed to be “the sole representative of ordinary Muslims”. IFE does not have a parent organisation, so does not answer to Jamaat-e-Islami or any other organisation in the UK, Bangladesh or elsewhere.

“It is Jamaat that was party to the massacre of innocent Bangladeshis in the 1971 war of independence that establish the independent state of Bangladesh. A war Tribunal has been established in Bangladesh to try leaders of Jaamat Islam who are IFE’s real ideological and organizational gurus. In other words IFE represent a virulent form of political Islam that is fascistic in nature like Jaamat Islam and verges on the anti-Semitic and is very exclusivist and undemocratic.”

IFE was established in the UK in 1988, most of its members were either children or not even born back in 1971. It has no ties at all with Bangladeshi political or religious parties, unlike the authors of the divisive press release who are linked to a hardline faction of the Awami League in London. The truth is that these people display an unrelenting hatred that seems to stem from the civil war almost 40 years ago, and they are still fighting it here in the UK. IFE, and indeed the East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre, work tirelessly in our own communities. IFE do not take part at all in Bangladeshi politics, nor do we want to get dragged into it as it is a huge distraction from the real needs of our community and the many people who have no ties with such politics other than their parents or grandparents came from Bangladesh.

“In defending the people of Tower Hamlets and especially the ordinary Muslims we do not have to defend IFE. EDL is attacking the Muslims of this borough and we must protect them.” It is clear that these people would be content if the EDL limited their attacks to the IFE and ELM. Hardly surprising, as many of them were conspirators in Gilligan’s discredited Dispatches programme, which the EDL give pride of place on the front page of their website.

“Using this latest EDL threat to the local community, it is clear to us that the IFE brigade is trying to terrify the most vulnerable in our community — the Bangladeshi women and children into joining their ranks under the banner of ‘defending the Ummah’. It has come to our knowledge that IFE and its operatives have sent out mass e-mails, text messages and visited members of the community including young children in primary schools ask them to join forces and defend Muslims and East London Mosque from imminent threat of destruction.” These accusations are lies. Of course, they give not a shred of evidence to support their outrageous claims. And we openly challenge them to bring any kind of creditable proof. We know they cannot, their slander will just add to the alarm and disunity they are trying to generate.

Some of the signatories have no knowledge of the statement. A Bangladeshi Youth Movement official said: “We are appalled our good name is linked to this divisive statement, we do not share these views, rather we support the cohesive work initiated by United East End”.

APASENTH also distanced themselves from the statement, saying they were not even consulted on the content of the statement.

Some signatories are paper-based organizations with no following in the community.Their shameful statement undermines all the hard work of the many organisations that have come together to form the United East End. Our partners in the recent efforts to stand against the EDL will know that we have not sought to lead the coalition, or used it to promote any other agenda.

We call on all those who strive to maintain a unified and strong coalition against the EDL to reject the divisive calls of the so-called ‘Unity Platform Against Racism and Fascism’.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Sectarian Idiots Attempt to Undermine Anti-Fascist Unity in Tower Hamlets

“As we confront the fascist thugs of EDL we in the Bengali and the Muslim community are being asked to stand side by side with Islamic Forum in Europe (IFE). This we refuse to do.” As Tower Hamlets gears up for a united protest against the English Defence League, a motley collection of malicious, sectarian idiots has chosen this moment to mount a public attack on the IFE and the East London Mosque, bracketing them along with the EDL as fascists.

Note that many of the signatories to this ill-written diatribe aren’t even part of the Bengali and Muslim community anyway. They include the drunken thug Terry Fitzpatrick, currently on bail facing a charge of racially aggravated harassment following a complaint to the police by Simon Woolley of Operation Black Vote. Then there is Gita Sahgal, who broke with Amnesty over its connections with Cageprisoners, and has headed a right-wing campaign against her former employers while promoting crackpot conspiracy theories to justify her participation in the witch-hunt.

And where would a statement like this be without the support of the contemptible Jim Fitzpatrick MP? This is the man who insulted the couple who invited him to their (gender-segregated) wedding at the London Muslim Centre by denouncing them to the press and whose most recent contribution to community harmony has been to condemn the organisers of Sunday’s protest for “stirring up fear and anger”.

True, this disgraceful statement has been signed by some members of the Bengali community in East London — indeed, it was organised on behalf of the laughably misnamed Unity Platform Against Racism and Fascism from the Bangladesh Welfare Association off Brick Lane.

One such signatory is Ansar Ahmed Ullah, who worked with Andrew Gilligan on “Britain’s Islamic Republic”, the Channel 4 documentary that provoked the EDL’s threat to demonstrate in the East End in the first place. And, after the programme was condemned in a letter to the Guardian by a wide range of progressive figures, Ullah collected signatures for a letter defending Gilligan’s witch-hunt. Last year he collaborated with Observer journalist Nick Cohen in another attack on the East London Mosque, complaining bitterly about the government’s willingness to consult its leading figures. “They never want to talk to people like me,” he whinged. Well, perhaps that’s because the East London Mosque is attended by some 10,000 people a week and represents serious forces within the community — whereas Ullah represents, shall we say, rather less.

Other signatories are associated with the Awami League, currently the governing party in Bangladesh. As the statement makes clear, their primary interest is in settling scores over disputes within Bangladeshi politics, going back to the liberation war nearly four decades ago, without any concern for the impact their actions have on politics in East London today.

This is not only unprincipled but monumentally stupid. By breaking the united front against the far Right, these self-proclaimed “secular” forces within the Bangladeshi community are playing with fire. The Brick Lane Mosque, with which the Bangladesh Welfare Association is connected, has itself been witch-hunted by Islamophobes over its recently-built “minaret”. What will they do if the EDL turns its attention to them? Blinded by their hatred of Jamaat-e-Islami, they fail to see — or do not care — that their sectarian actions will stoke the fires of Islamophobia and that, whatever short-term advantages they may gain over their rivals in the IFE, in the long term all sections of the Bengali Muslim community will pay the price.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Albania: Racing Towards Europe, But Past is Not Forgotten

(ANSAmed) — VLORA (ALBANIA) — The tears come at the end of a conversation held in front of a microphone and a video camera. Just a few words, choked by emotion: “Italy was our window onto hope.” Laureta Petoshati is an Albanian journalist who has returned to work in Vlora after spending ten years in New York. It is Laureta who points out how Italy and its information were something that made Albanians living under one of the harshest and most obtuse communist dictatorships understand that there was a world beyond their sea. Or else behind their mountains, which are still beautiful despite the general building frenzy everywhere, which often defies even the most elementary safety rules, let alone the rules of aesthetics. Albania in 2010 is a country which, despite it all, is unable to erase the past, to set aside the fears of a regime that laid siege to their minds, even before their bodies, as the generations that make the decisions in the country are the children of communism who have a disjointed and indirect knowledge The coast and the countryside are still marred by the hundreds of bunkers that were built, often in places that were entirely devoid of logic, lying in wait for an enemy that never came. And as dismantling these monuments of idiocy would cost a fortune, these small, horrendous constructions remain where they are, perhaps right next to a charming house that has been built with the remittances of an emigrant. In Vlora, which stands by a sea that could be its Eldorado, no-one has forgotten, no-one over the age of 30 can sweep away the constant, suffocating fear that broke up families, that set up each one against the other. The omnipotent Sigurimi watched over everything. The Sigurimi, the secret police of the dictator Enver Hoxha, weaved an extremely tight system of controls around the Albanian people’s lives (with over 800,000 people on the payroll, it employed a quarter of the population). It took hold within families, where anyone who had a radio and who managed to tune in to Italian broadcasters had to do so when they were home alone. The prefect of Vlora, Halili, bitterly points out, that to end up in prison, all it took was for a child of just a few years to say at nursery school or whilst playing with his friends that Grandma and Grandpa or their big brother had been listening to programmes in a language they didn’t understand. And, when television arrived and people worked out that all that was necessary to make an aerial was a piece of electrical wire in order to receive “grainy” images, but which were however still images, the kids of the era, remembers Rinald Bezhani, director of the Pavarsia University board, took huge risks, for example, to watch the San Remo music festival. Law 55 punished these things as if they were subversive acts. And the sentences were heavy, with up to eight years in prison and the certainty that the sentence would also be served by family members, in terms of harassment, threats and hardships. Albania is therefore still paying the extremely heavy toll of its past dictatorship because even today it is a topic that hovers over everything: politics, the economy, social relations, culture. Now the country seems to struck by a bulimia of knowledge: it hungers for contacts and experience. It wants to have a dialogue, to enter Europe — not as an accepted party but to enter it with full dignity. The country is focussing above all on its young people, says the Minister for Innovation and Information Communication Technology, Genc Pollo, who does not hide his great ambitions and projects that are based on the awareness that his people are ready to set goals and who are in fact already on the road to achieving them. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Albania: Challenge to Enter EU Starts With Infrastructure

(ANSAmed) — VLORE, JUNE 9 — The path to bring Albania to Europe is still long, but many steps have been taken, and others will follow in the short-term, so that in a few years, Tirana can enter the EU through the front door. “Albania is acting with diligence and determination,” said Minister for Technological Innovation and Information Genc Pollo, one of the men who Premier Sali Berisha is relying on to bring the country towards the standards necessary to enter the EU, “to create the conditions for EU membership. Not the minimum conditions, but standards that are even better. We are working hard and we know that we will be able to succeed”. Minister Pollo acknowledged Italy’s important role in this process, “because our two countries have always been close to each other,” almost underscoring that they also had a close relationship under the communist regime of Enver Hoxha, when Albania had almost no external contact. The conditions are also associated with a strong push by the Albanian government for reforms, especially in the field of innovation technology, where they are making great progress. There are not many countries in Europe that have adopted the biometric passport, while in Albania it has been used for some time. Similarly to drivers’ licenses, which are all the size of a credit card — which is nothing new — but which also contain a microchip, which act as a memory of the owner and which are constantly updated and which accompany any official record. Certainly, these developments are not sufficient to assert that the standards of daily life in Albania are such that the country is ready to become part of the EU, but the passion, enthusiasm and energy present in these efforts are evident. There is still much to be done, mainly in the field of infrastructural works, after the communist regime, which left a legacy of a shoddy network of roads and a need for large-scale infrastructural projects. This is also reflected in the transportation system, which relies almost exclusively on private initiatives. An example of this is the immense fleet of vans and buses — many of which are outdated — which connect the many towns of Albania mainly on two-lane roads where every manoeuvre to overtake another vehicle is a gamble and a challenge to properly measure out a driver’s courage and prudence. Suddenly, upon arrival to what could be considered a motorway, one might see people cheerfully pedalling away with their bicycles on the roadside, against the traffic of course. Roads are also a problem in the country’s largest cities such as Tirana and Vlore. The traffic in the capital — according to the drivers themselves — is absolutely chaotic, where horns are used not only as a warning via sound, but as an instrument to provides a double-effect, forcing the car ahead to speed up, resulting in a constant racket. Vlore also has its own problems. The streets in the city centre are well kept and traffic flows, but in the less-travelled areas, according to what the locals say, the roads are similar to those in Kandahar. Shpetin Gjika, the outgoing Mayor of Vlore (he is finishing his second term and is running for a third), knows that this is a challenge that needs to be dealt with. We are doing everything we can, he said in his office, noting that roads are a problem, but not the only challenge for a city that looks to Europe like it looked to Italy ten years ago.(ANSAmed).

2010-06-08 13:55

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

World Cup: Serbian Fans Celebrate Win Over Germany

Belgrade, 19 June (AKI) — Serbians took to the streets in their thousands to celebrate the national team’s World Cup victory over Germany in South Africa. Thousands of people danced in the streets and motorcades drove through several cities waving Serbian flags into the early hours of Saturday.

Considered a World Cup underdog, Serbia pulled a surprise victory over Germany 1-0 in Port Elizabeth on Friday, regaining a solid chance to proceed to the second round of the football World Cup competition.

Serbia earlier lost to Ghana 1-0 and the victory over Germany was the first in 37 years.

The win has given the team and its reputed international coach Radomir Antic new confidence.

People celebrated in Belgrade and other cities late Friday, but Serbs celebrated also in Bosnia, Montenegro, Croatia and other European countries with sizable Serbian communities.

Animosity against Germany runs high in Serbia, among those who remember World War II occupation, but many others also blame Germany for the break up of the former Yugoslavia.

Serbian newspapers ran front page headlines such as “Serbian blitzkrieg” and “Serbia’s historic victory”.

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

Mediterranean Union

Greece-Libya: New Submarine Fibre Optic Cable by End of 2011

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JUNE 8 — The new submarine fibre optic cable that will start in mid 2011, which will connect Libya and Greece, is called ‘Silphium’. So announced the Libya International Telecommunication Company (LITC) and Oteglobe, a subsidiary of the Greek telephony company Ote. The new cable, the cost of which could reach 25 million euros, will connect the two Mediterranean countries, passing via the stations of Derna and Chania. The entire investment will be financed by the LITC. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Hitler’s ‘Number One Anti-Semite’ Converted to Islam, Worked for Nasser and Nazi Underground

Joel Fishman’s brilliant 2007 essay on the media war against Israel is must reading. The excerpt below deals with “Hitler’s Number One Anti-Semite,” Johann von Leers, alias Omar Amin.

Fishman writes:

Because issues of historical continuity and particularly the transfer of ideas and are a matter of importance, special mention should be made of Prof. Dr. Johann von Leers (1902- 1965). He was one of the most important ideologues of the Third Reich and later served in the Egyptian Information Department.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Morocco: World Bank Loan for Education, Roads and Water

(ANSAmed) — RABAT, JUNE 18 — The World Bank today agreed to grant Morocco a loan for a total of 211.5 million USD. The country will use this sum for its reforms of the education system, for the construction of rural roads and for water projects in the Oum Errabii basin. The first tranche of 60 million dollars will be used for the 2009-2012 education reform, a priority of the Moroccan government which has to deal with a 44% illiteracy rate in rural areas. The second tranche, 81.5 million USD, will be used to expand the road network in rural areas and the third, 70 million, to modernise irrigation plants in the Oum Errabii basin, concerning 22,000 hectares and 8,000 farmers. The agreements have been signed by the representative of the World Bank in Morocco, Francoise Clottes, and Economy and Finance Minister Salaheddine Mezouar. (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Aquaculture Increasing

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JUNE 7 — There are positive figures and forecasts for the increase in the sector of aquaculture, with the production of 4,470 tonnes of fish last year against 1,400 in 2000. The news was announced by the Tunisian Minister of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries, Abdessalem Mansour, speaking at a seminar in Monastir. He also said that in 2009, production was 1,125 tonnes in fresh water and 3,345 tonnes in seawater. With this data, Mansour underlined that the upcoming aims were to bring production to 12,500 tonnes in 2014 and to 15,300 tonnes in 2016. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Israeli Deputy FM Thanks Italy for Supporting Israel’s Right to Self-Defense

ROME (EJP)—-Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, on an official visit to Italy on Wednesday, thanked the Italians for supporting Israel’s right to self-defense in the case of the recent Israeli army raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla.

Ayalon met with the President of the Italian Parliament Gianfranco Fini, Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Stefania Craxi and opposition leader Enrico Letta.

They also discussed the latest round of sanctions on Iran, the security situation in the Middle East, and bilateral relations.

According to Ayalon’s office, the Italian officials expressed their support for the Israeli investigation into the events surrounding the flotilla and expressed understanding of Israel’s position vis-à-vis the legal blockade of Gaza.

Regarding Israel’s blockade on the Gaza Strip, in place since July 2006, Ayalon said: “Unfortunately, Hamas has established a blockade on the Palestinian people in Gaza. The future of the blockade depends solely on Hamas. The moment that they adhere to the three principles that the international community established, the blockade will end.”

On Thursday, Israel announced that it will “liberalize” the system under which humanitarian goods are transferred into the Gaza Strip, after a meeting of the security cabinet.

The Deputy Foreign Minister said that attention should not be diverted from the issue of Iran. “Everything negative in the region emanates from Iran and they remain the true threat to the all the people in the region, including the Lebanese and Palestinian people.”

He called on Italy and the European Parliament to implement further sanctions on Iran. “We should take advantage of the latest United Nations Security Council Resolution and provide a secondary layer of sanctions through the European Parliament and national parliaments, like Italy,” Ayalon told his Italian interlocutors.

“We would also like to see more countries follow the lead of the Dutch Parliament and the U.S. Congress by designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist entity.”

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

Middle East

Erdogan Fans Anti-Israeli, Anti-American Sentiments for Political Gain

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan appears set to milk the popularity he gained in the streets of Turkey and the Middle East after the Marmara crisis in which nine Turks were killed by Israeli forces in a seriously botched up military operation.

It is almost as if he was waiting for a new crisis with Israel to be able to work the streets in order to regain some of the political ground his ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, has been loosing over bread and butter issues at home.

He and his party executives are clearly worried that the reinvigorated Republican Peoples Party, or CHP, may make headway given the successful manner in which its new leader, Kemal Kiliçdaroglu, has been hitting at the government over topics that really matter for the average man on the street. He is also concerned that the Saadet (Felicity) Party, the other Islamist party, may steal votes from the AKP given the rising dissatisfaction among the public.

Turks are fickle though, and easily swayed emotionally even if this means that the bread and butter issues of vital importance to them are pushed to the background. It is clear that there is great public animosity towards Israel today. As for the almost endemic anti-Americanism among Turks, this is also adding grist to Erdogan’s populist mill.

So we see him increasingly turning up the volume of his demagoguery, and hitting at Israel and the United States at every opportunity that presents itself. No doubt he is keeping a close eye on the “political rating meter” as he sends his crowds to paroxysms of delirious applause with his remarks, some of which smack openly of anti-Semitism and reflect a growing anti-Western tendency.

After the Marmara incident he was not only quick to use the harshest and most insulting adjectives when referring to Israel, but also had thinly veiled warnings to Washington, suggesting openly that those who stood behind Israel were also culpable in the crimes committed by that country.

Over the weekend he went further and openly named the U.S. this time, thus revealing what lies in his heart-of-hearts. This is what he had to say while addressing an adoring crowd in Rize, on the Black Sea coast, where people are not only religious but also ultra-nationalist.

“They are asking us what Turkey is doing in the Middle East, in Palestine. Why is Turkey bothered about Gaza? But could they not be asked in return what America is doing in Iraq? What is it doing in Palestine? Could it not be asked what is it doing in Afghanistan? What are France, Britain, and Holland, and so on, doing in these places?”

Erdogan went on threateningly to say, “I am calling on the Israeli supported international media and their subcontractors at home: Turkey is not like other countries.” His only tribute to sophistication during this show of demagoguery was his reference to “the Israeli supported international media.”

Previously he had made references to the “Jewish controlled international media” but must have been warned by his advisors that this was too overtly “anti-Semitic,” and thus politically incorrect. This no doubt forced him to make a slight modification in his nevertheless anti-Semitic reference to the international media.

What is worse, however, is that Erdogan is set to raise the volume of his bellicosity in coming weeks and months, given that Turkey will, for all intents and purposes, be moving into “election mode.” We had an opportunity to talk to Hikmet Cetin, a highly respected veteran politician and former Foreign Minister, the other day.

He too expressed serious concerns that Erdogan and the AKP would make anti-Israeli and anti-American rhetoric the centerpiece of his political campaign in the lead-up to the elections in 2011. Mr. Cetin is right to be concerned of course.

Erdogan is, after all, utilizing the least sophisticated of political tools to increase support for the AKP at home, and totally disregarding what harm he may be doing to Turkey’s well established links with the West in general and the U.S. in particular — regardless of the periodic turbulence in these ties over specific issues.

There are those who say that he is in fact doing all of this intentionally, because he is trying to turn Turkey’s direction from the West to the Islamic East. We personally believe that whatever his ultimate aim and intentions may be in this respect, Mr. Erdogan will find that it is much harder to turn Turkey’s direction than he thinks.

But it can not be denied that he and his government are providing material for those in the West who feel Turkey is in fact “drifting away.” There is truth, of course, in the contention being also put forward by some in the West today that certain countries and leaders in Europe have made it easier for the AKP to hit at the West. This is highly apparent from Erdogan’s lambasting Europe while also pursuing his populist line of demagoguery.

Some in Europe have been clinging to Mr. Erdogan and his party as the only viable reformist force in Turkey and providing him with a benefit of the doubt way beyond what is justified (even as he feeds the anti-western undercurrents in this country.) Less admiration and more attention on their part to what he is actually saying and doing at this stage should provide a wake-up call, as his latest actions and remarks appear to have done in Washington.

The bottom line is that while some may be worrying that Mr. Erdogan and the AKP are changing Turkey’s course, the truth is that it is not clear what they are trying to do, or if they even have a viable master plan for a modern Westward looking Turkey at this stage. As matters stand it appears that Mr. Erdogan is simply riding the crest of a populist conservative and Islamist wave — with nationalist overtones — which enables him to fog some seminal questions about where he is taking the country.

As for the great strides his party made over the past eight years, this may be true to an extent but it must not be forgotten that the road had already been laid for the AKP government to move on in terms of much of what they achieved over these years.

For example Turkey’s EU orientation — which Mr. Erdogan never referred to in a positive light while in the opposition -is something that was well underway. He simply went along with it continuing a reform process that had been started under the previous Ecevit government.

The much touted “zero problems with neighbors” policy, on the other hand, was always there but was called “a policy of good neighborliness.” As for the much lauded “opening up to the Middle East” this was the pet project of a host of former Turkish politicians ranging from Suleyman Demirel to Bulent Ecevit and Erdal Inonu, and not exclusive to the AKP.

It may appear to some that nothing was achieved in this country prior to the AKP. Mr. Erdogan and his party executives are working overtime to spread that impression, of course. But it is wrong and misrepresents the facts. Mr. Erdogan’s vitriolic and bellicose attitude both in domestic and in foreign policy should help open many eyes on this score too in the coming period.

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

Iran is Capable of Firing Hundreds of Missiles at Europe, Warns U.S.

Iran could shower Europe with ‘scores or even hundreds’ of missiles in a single attack, America’s defence secretary warned today.

Robert Gates said U.S. intelligence units have reported a growing threat in Iran’s ballistic missile capability.

Today, Mr Gates said: ‘One of the elements of the intelligence that contributed to the decision on the phased adaptive array (approach) was the realisation that if Iran were actually to launch a missile attack on Europe, it wouldn’t be just one or two missiles, or a handful.

‘It would more likely be a salvo kind of attack, where you would be dealing potentially with scores or even hundreds of missiles.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Iran’s New Revolutionary Politics

By Chris Zambelis

Brazil’s decision, along with fellow non-permanent United Nations Security Council member Turkey, to vote against the latest United States-led efforts to impose harsher sanctions against Iran on June 9 aimed at stymieing the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, reflects a sea-change in global geopolitics characterized by a decline in US power and the return of multi-polarity.

Brazil’s refusal to support UN Security Council Resolution 1929 came on the heels of a successful joint Brazilian-Turkish attempt to win Iranian agreement on May 17 to enter into a uranium exchange pact designed to allay concerns about Tehran’s nuclear ambitions and to avert a more serious escalation of regional tensions.

Brazil’s bold drive to inject itself into the center of one of the most contentious issues in international affairs, coupled with its move to join Turkey in overtly challenging the dominant US-led diplomatic paradigm when it comes to dealing with Iran, are emblematic of Brasilia’s aspirations of achieving a great-power status commensurate with what it perceives to be its true diplomatic, economic and military strength.

Brazil’s venture into Middle East diplomacy should therefore be considered in the context of its steady ascent to international prominence. Brazil’s diplomatic defense of Iran, however, also highlights the significance of Tehran’s bond with the South American powerhouse.

While many observers continue to marvel at Brazil’s emerging stature as a player in Middle East diplomacy, another significant, albeit far less understood, geopolitical trend with major implications occurring in the US’s backyard in the Western hemisphere has grabbed headlines in recent years.

Iran has undertaken its own ambitious mission in recent years to expand its influence across Latin America and the Caribbean, a region where it has traditionally maintained little or no meaningful diplomatic, economic or military presence until fairly recently. The expanding Iranian-Brazilian interface, as well as Iran’s growing multifaceted contacts with Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Cuba, Guyana, among a host of other nations in the Americas, reflect Iran’s commitment to assert itself as a player in its own right in the Americas.

Reports of Tehran’s ties to Islamist militants allegedly operating in the region and their sympathizers within the region’s Middle East diaspora and local Muslim communities continue to dominate the treatment of Iran’s inroads into the Americas in media and foreign policy circles.

Not surprisingly, many followers of Middle East and Latin American and Caribbean affairs continue to view Iran’s foray into the Americas through a security prism. Iran’s track record of exporting its revolutionary Islamism throughout the greater Middle East in the 1980s and 1990s, argue many observers, including its support for Islamist militants opposed to the US-led status quo in the region, and Iran’s support in Lebanon of Hezbollah, which is implicated in attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets in Argentina in the 1990s, should to serve as the template on which to assess Tehran’s intentions in the Americas.

The fact that Iran has reached out to vocal opponents of the United States in the region, namely Venezuela, Cuba, among others, along with traditionally close allies of Washington, has also raised alarm bells. Based on this view, Iran’s expanding presence in the Americas constitutes a direct threat to US and regional security, a recurring theme in official US policy circles.

United States Defense Secretary Robert Gates voiced concern over what he described as Iran’s “subversive activity” in the region during testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on January 27, 2009. Prior to embarking on her February 28 to March 5, 2010, tour of regional capitals, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton opined before the Senate Appropriations Foreign Operations Sub-committee that Iran would be “at the top” of her agenda during her trip.

An April 2010 report by the US Department of Defense also stated that members of the Quds Force (Jerusalem), an elite special operations unit within Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), are also present in the Americas, especially in Venezuela.

The argument that Iran’s growing presence in the Americas constitutes a security threat, however, fails to acknowledge the pragmatism guiding Iran’s activities in the region, not to mention the open arms in which Tehran is being received.

The flurry of high-level bilateral meetings between Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad and his counterparts in places such as Venezuela, Brazil, Cuba, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Bolivia in recent years, with reciprocal visits by regional leaders to Tehran that culminated in a range of political, economic, energy, cultural, military and scientific agreements, are a case in point.

In addition, diplomatic exchanges and growing business contacts between Iran and partners in Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Peru and Mexico, coupled with the opening of new Iranian embassies, also illustrate the rapid development of the Islamic Republic’s relations with the region.

Data issued by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2009 and analyzed by the Latin Business Chronicle concluded that the volume of trade between Iran and the wider region topped an estimated US$2.9 billion, approximately triple the trade volume between 2007 and 2008; Brazilian trade with Iran came in at $1.3 billion during the same period, a dramatic 88% increase from 2007.

Brazil is Iran’s largest source of exports from Latin America. The Iranian Red Crescent Society also dispatched tons of disaster relief aid and a team of doctors following the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12 this year. Iran has also promised hundreds of millions in economic aid and low-interest loans to Nicaragua, Bolivia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Forward defense diplomacy

Myriad factors drive Iran’s strategy in the Americas. As a country that continues to be subject to a sustained US-led campaign to isolate it in the international arena, Iran has made it a strategic priority to cultivate a wide network of bilateral relations to undermine attempts to box it in.

Iran has also worked diligently to shore up its diplomatic clout in the face of threats of attack by the United States and, in particular, Israel, over its nuclear program. In this context, Iran’s strategy to expand its ties to the Americas serves two main purposes: first, it allows Iran to better insulate itself and critical sectors of its society — especially its economy — from an increasingly rigid sanctions regime, thereby allowing it to weather US pressure to change its behavior; second, by cultivating a diverse network of relationships, including relations predicated on lucrative business dealings and delicate diplomacy with governments that have fallen out of favor with Washington, Iran works to ensure that as many of countries as possible have a vested interest in continued dealings with Iran.

This aspect of Iran’s strategy enables it to count on the support of countries that would previously have had no direct stake in whether Iran is placed under sanctions. A policy of diplomatic diversification, in essence, guides Iran’s approach to the Americas.

The heavy US military presence in the greater Middle East has also profoundly shaped Tehran’s strategic calculus when it comes to its strategy toward the Americas. The existence of a US-led alliance network composed of a nuclear-armed Israel and pro-US Arab regimes has left Iran, for all intents and purposes, hemmed in and potentially vulnerable to attack.

Iran’s eastern and western frontiers, for instance, are flanked by tens of thousands of US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, respectively, as well as a growing US military footprint in neighboring Pakistan.

The regional landscape is also dotted by US military bases and a robust deployment of naval forces in the Gulf. United States security guarantees for Iran’s neighbors add another level of anxiety in Tehran. United States strategy toward Iran is designed to contain and ultimately undermine Iranian influence through a policy of strategic encirclement.

With this in mind, Iran’s inroads into the Americas represent a form of forward defense diplomacy, essentially a means through which the Islamic Republic can counter the United States by effectively employing soft power in a region considered by Washington to be in its own exclusive sphere of influence.

Return of revolution

Iran’s push into the Americas would have never have materialized without the active encouragement of eager partners in the region. Yet how did the Islamic Republic manage to win so much goodwill from the Caribbean to the Southern Cone?

Iran’s diplomatic achievements cannot be understood without taking into account the tectonic shift to the left that saw an eclectic mix of leftist populists of various stripes take over the reins of power throughout the hemisphere beginning in the late 1990s. United in their skepticism toward US foreign policy and eagerness to charter independent paths for their countries away from the neo-liberal economic orthodoxies preached by Washington, the rise of a new revolutionary politics determined to defy the US-led status quo in the region has provided Iran with a receptive audience for its overtures and an ample supply of friends.

A new form of revolutionary politics in the Americas imbued with an anti-imperialist discourse directed toward the United States has meshed well with Iranian foreign policy. Despite the Shi’ite Islamist character of the clerical regime, Tehran has adopted a realistic approach in its diplomacy toward the Americas that emphasizes anti-imperialism, popular struggle, social justice and the preservation of national independence and sovereignty through South-South solidarity.

Iran has also effectively used institutions such as the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) to make inroads among NAM members in Latin America. The overlap between the revolutionary discourse out of Tehran and regional capitals such as Brasilia, Caracas, La Paz, Havana, Managua and Quito, for instance, is remarkable, thus providing Iran with valuable diplomatic cover on a range of issues, especially its nuclear program.

Iran has honed its skills as a source of resistance in the Middle East, where it is joined by Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas in Gaza (and occasionally Turkey and Qatar) in a front of resistance against US allies Israel and the bloc of pro-US Arab regimes led by Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Iran is comfortable in this role.

The overextension of US forces and diplomatic resources to the greater Middle East and East Asia and the emphasis on counter-terrorism in recent years has also relegated Latin America to the proverbial sidelines in terms of foreign policy and security priorities in Washington, thus providing Iran, along with other players such as China and Russia, with ample room to maneuver. This confluence of circumstances is sure to encourage greater contacts between Iran and Latin America in the coming years.

Chris Zambelis is an author and researcher with Helios Global, Inc, a risk management group based in the Washington, DC area. He specializes in Middle East politics. The views expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Helios Global, Inc.

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

Turkey: Eight Soldiers Killed by ‘Kurdish Rebels’

Ankara, 19 June (AKI) — Eight Turkish soldiers have been killed overnight in an attack by Kurdish militants in southeast Turkey, near the Iraqi border, the army said on Saturday. Fourteen soldiers were also wounded in the attack blamed on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) at a military post near the city of Semdinli.

The military responded with helicopters and reportedly killed 12 militants in later clashes, the army statement added.

Fighter jets then launched a bombing raid targeting PKK rebel positions in northern Iraq where the separatists have rear bases, the military said.

On Friday the Turkish military announced that at least 130 members of the PKK had been killed inside Turkey since violence flared in March. The military has lost 43 personnel.

The military also said it expected the PKK to further intensify and spread its attacks.

The mounting violence in recent months has clouded the government’s bid to seek a peaceful end to the 26-year-old conflict with Kurdish rebels seeking a separate homeland in the country’s southeast.

The PKK has been fighting for a separate Kurdish homeland within Turkey since 1984. The organisation is branded a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

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

Two New Blunders by U.S. Government in Middle East

1. Scoop: White House Undercutting Congress’s Sanctions on Iran and Building in Loopholes to Avoid Confronting Violators

2. A Telling Detail: The Turkish Leader’s Personal Quarrel with Barack Obama

Scoop: White House Undercutting Congress’s Sanctions on Iran and Building in Loopholes to Avoid Confronting Violators

By Barry Rubin

What’s the next big story the mass media hasn’t yet discovered about sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program? It’s this: The Obama Administration is pressing Congress to reduce the sanctions it is proposing. As you might remember, while the White House was backing a weak sanctions resolution through the UN Security Council, the U.S. Congress passed a strong bill that would really damage Iran’s economy and undercut its oil sales.

During the several months that the bills were wending their way through the House of Representatives and Senate, the White House refused requests for guidance by the congressional leadership on what the president wanted. Now, with Congress determined to have a single joint bill ready for passage before the summer adjournment, the White House is telling them to ease up on Iran.

Aside from the terms of the new sanctions, the White House has proposed a novel, and somewhat amusing, idea. Countries like Russia and China would be classified as “cooperating countries” because they voted for the sanctions’ resolution. (Since Brazil and Turkey, which voted against it, have said they will observe the sanctions does that make them also cooperating countries?)

The great thing about being a “cooperating country” is that even if you don’t try to implement the sanctions strongly, or at all, you will be immune to punishment. Let’s say that a Russian company breaks the U.S. or UN sanctions on Iran. It won’t be put on a list of violators or suffer any U.S. government penalties. Perhaps the U.S. government will ask the host country to do something but if it doesn’t act that would be the end of the matter.

In other words, this is a typical operation of seeking empty “support” without substantive backing and will subvert U.S. sanctions…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin[Return to headlines]


Medvedev Pushes Ruble Reserve Currency to Cut Dollar Dominance

June 19 (Bloomberg) — Russia wants the ruble to be one of the world’s reserve currencies as President Dmitry Medvedev renews his push to reduce the dollar’s dominance and make Moscow a global financial hub.

“Only three, five years ago it seemed like a fantasy” to create a new reserve currency, Medvedev said yesterday in a speech in St. Petersburg, Russia. “Now we are seriously discussing it.”

Medvedev, who has repeatedly called for a supranational currency to match the dollar, said discussions with China are continuing on broadening the global options. Russia sold U.S. Treasuries for a fifth consecutive month in April, the U.S. Treasury Department said June 15. The world may need as many as six reserve currencies, Medvedev said.

“It’s something that’s obviously needed,” he said at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. “Developing a financial center in Moscow will considerably help to strengthen the ruble’s position as one of the reserve currencies.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghanistan: Spain Confirms Troop Withdrawal in Summer 2011

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, JUNE 18 — Spain “confirms its timetable” which provides for the withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan in the summer of 2011. The news was confirmed today by the Minister of Defence, Carme Chacon, in statements to Gtelecinco. In November, the transfers of the powers of the international community to the Afghan authorities will begin, which is a prelude to the withdrawal of the troops. Chacon said that, in the latest Nato meeting, Stanley Mc Chrystal, commander of the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, had provided “positive data” which allows the timetable to be respected, on the basis of which the international troops present in the country will start to be reduced in the summer of 2011, above all in the provinces, such as Badghis, which is currently controlled by the Spanish troops. Carme Chacon praised the “great work” done by the 1,500 soldiers deployed from Spain in Afghanistan and thanked them. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Drone Attack Kills Militants in Border Region

Islamabad, 19 June (AKI) — At least 12 people have been killed in a suspected US missile strike in the Pakistani tribal region of North Waziristan, local officials say. The missile, apparently fired from an unmanned drone, struck a house in Haider Khel village near the town of Mir Ali , about 25km east of the main town of Miran Shah.

The identities of the dead are not yet known. The officials said militants were believed to have been inside.

The lawless region is considered a haven for militants aligned with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, has been repeatedly targeted by US drones.

Last month, Al-Qaeda number three and Afghan operations chief Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, also known as Sheikh Said al-Masri, was believed to have been killed in such a strike in North Waziristan.

Some 70 drone strikes have killed more than 200 people in North and South Waziristan since the start of 2010, according to local estimates.

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

Pakistan: Militants Free Accomplices in Karachi Court

Karachi, 19 June (AKI/DAWN) — A Pakistani police officer was killed in Karachi on Saturday when unknown gunmen opened fire near the city’s courts. The gunmen opened fire at a group of police officers who were escorting a number of prisoners to the courts and threw a hang grenade amid the crowd.

One police officer was killed as a result of the attack and four prisoners were able to flee along with the gunmen.

Security officials followed one of the gunmen, who fled to nearby Jodia Bazaar and killed himself.

One hand grenade was recovered from his possession, while search teams have been sent to other areas to locate the remaining gunmen.

Officials said the militants were associated with an outlawed Islamist militant organisation, Jundallah.

Jundallah is accused of carrying out a number of terrorist attacks in the country including a recent attack on a procession earlier this year in Karachi, killing 76 people.

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

Sub-Saharan Africa

The Dreaded Vuvuzela Claims Its First Victim: Woman Bursts Her Windpipe ‘By Blowing Too Hard’

Insurance saleswoman Yvonne Mayer, 29, was unable to speak or eat for two days after ripping her windpipe when she blew the three foot horn during a street party in Cape Town.

The next day shocked doctors diagnosed her with a ruptured throat and ordered her to rest it completely to allow it to heal.

The bizarre injury is the first known vuvuzela-related accident since the World Cup kicked off last week.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

World Cup: Website Offers Tips for Muslim Fans

Johannesburg, 18 June (AKI) — Muslim tourists attending the World Cup in South Africa can access a website for tips to help them enjoy their stay. The website offers information on mosques and prayer halls near various football stadiums, as well as hotels, restaurants, halal food stores, Islamic organisations and schools as well as tourist attractions.

The website — — also provides information on items allowed into football stadiums, on road and air travel, and emergency telephone numbers in South Africa, where only 1.5 percent of the population is Muslim.

Many Muslims were expected in the southern coastal city of Cape Town on Friday for the England-Algeria match.

In the Bo-Kaap neighbourhood, where most of the city’s Muslim community lives, a local museum recounts the history of Islam in South Africa.

The World Cup 2010 is taking place from 11 June until 12 July in stadiums in 11 cities across South Africa, including Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Pretoria, Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth.

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


A Grand Design: Made to Order

Without doubt Islam is the largest non-Christian religion in the world. It’s believed that some fifteen percent of the world’s in excess of a billion Muslims sympathize with extremism. A spokesperson for the military wing of HAMAS in Gaza admits: “Our people love death.” Furthermore, he adds, “our goal is to die for the sake of God; and if we live, we want to humiliate Jews and trample on their necks.”[3]

So much for a kinder, gentler Islam.

Be sure, when Muslims are in the majority, and their enemy is judged to be weak, the Medina Approach endorses war-mongering to impose the non-democratic cultural imperialism of an Islamic republic. Accordingly, threat of global terrorism has drastically changed America’s structure of government to include a Department of Homeland Security, and formerly free-as-the-wind-blows Americans willingly surrender rights and comforts once taken for granted. Frequent flyers attest to it.


Perhaps surprisingly, Muslim readers are free to interpret the Qur’an as they wish. To them, falsehoods are not lies—just differing perspectives. Speaking of which, political correctness—i.e., viewpoint discrimination—requires acknowledgement that Islam is a kind religion, one of peace and charity, even though some eighty percent of all Imams (spiritual leaders) in the United State sanction the Wahabi movement.[5]

Yet no Christmas carols, prayers, or Bible reading are allowed, but as part of their seventh-grade curriculum, Excelsior Elementary School in Byron, California, ran a three-week course in which students assumed Islamic names, recited Muslim prayers, and memorized Surras (verses) from the Qur’an.

Forget Lent, but require kids to fast for a day during the ninth month of the Muslim lunar year (Ramadan)? C’mon, folks. Get a grip.


Muslims speak of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in terms of a three-camel caravan by which Judaism goes just so far in truth, then camps. Christianity picks up from there by introducing greater truth, but Islam alone reaches the final destination. Here’s the bottom line: The Islamic Doctrine of Abrogation elevates revelation given later over and above earlier revelation. Hence, Islam’s revelatory truth naturally exceeds that of its predecessors.

Keep in mind that Qu’ran verses were written in two different cities at two different periods of time. Whereas the first ninety-two (written in Mecca) advocated non-harm to People of the Book, the last twenty-four (written in Medina) sanction harm to non-Muslims. In accordance with the Doctrine of Abrogation, this latter revelation effectively abrogates the earlier conciliatory one in favor of non-harm.[6]


From AD 33 to Y2K fully nine million Christians have been murdered by Muslims. Since 1979, a hundred thousand men, women, and children were executed in Iran—all in the name of Allah. Two million Christians were killed in the Sudan genocide alone. Add to that the same number of Armenians in Turkey, and we’re talking lots of bloodshed. Today, about 160,000 Christians die yearly for their convictions.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Understanding Muslims’ Mindset

By: Amil Imani

Diffusing the present dangerous confrontation between Islam and the West demands rational impartial and cool heads to untangle facts from myth, understand the Muslims’ mindset, and redress any grievances on either side…

           — Hat tip: Amil Imani[Return to headlines]