Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20100707

»Holder’s Justice is Not Colorblind
Europe and the EU
»Belgium: Police Quiz Former Head of Catholic Church
»EU: Zapatero: Union More Perfect After Spanish Presidency
»France: Industry Drops Cigarettes’ Prices, Government Anger
»France: Sarkozy Sacks 2 Ministers to Allay Scandals
»France: Socialists to Boycott Vote on Full Veil
»Greece’s Woes Provide Fuel for Turkish Eurosceptics
»Italy-Turkey: EU Membership; Global Approach From Media Forum
»Italy: Florence Graft Trial Moves to Rome
»Italy: ‘National Plan’ Against Chinese Mafia
»Netherlands: Children More Likely to Move Back Home
»Netherlands: Both Parents Work in 77% of Families
»Pope ‘Won’t Watch World Cup Semi’
»Turkish Women’s Football Team Finds Overseas Help
»UK: 7/7 Has Brought Communities Closer Together
»UK: Bombings Brought Out Best of Leeds
»UK: Let the Big Society Fight Terrorism
»UK: Terrorism Policy Flaws ‘Increased Risk of Attacks, ‘ Says Former Police Chief
»UK: Terrorism: In the Face of Fear
»UK: Would You Want the Lungs of a Chain Smoker or the Heart of a Cocaine Addict?
Mediterranean Union
»Italy Mourns Death of Egyptian Scholar Abu Zayd
»UPM: Educational Project Arab Broadcasters-France TV
North Africa
»Egypt: Minister to Attend ‘No for Circumcision’ Inking Event
Israel and the Palestinians
»Wake-Up Call: Interview With the Jerusalem Post
Middle East
»Oil Spill: Eyes Middle East Investors on in BP
»Turkey: Ankara, Mass of Fr. Antuan, First Turkish Jesuit
»Turkey Should be Part of EU Vision, Top Businesswoman Says
»Turkey PM Consoles Hezbollah Leader Over Top Shi’ite Cleric’s Death
»UAE: Dubai Airports Will Not Use Body Scanner
»Why Some Turks Like it ‘Expat’
Far East
»Philippines: Private Armies Getting Stronger in the Philippines
Australia — Pacific
»Father Wins Right to Stop Children Taking Part in Jewish Ceremonies
»Melanie Phillips: Jihadist Group a Threat to Us All
»Muslims Told to Shun Democracy
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Somalia: Islamic Militant Group Fighting Kills at Least 8
»Ellmers to Etheridge: Defund Obama’s Lawsuit
»Greece: Samaras, ‘No to Citizenship Law’
»Sweden Tops EU in Citizenship Approval Rate


Holder’s Justice is Not Colorblind

Justice: A former top official charges the Justice Department with practicing racial politics and selective prosecution in the Black Panther voter-intimidation case. Are we a “nation of cowards,” or is it just Holder’s DOJ?

In February, on the occasion of Black History Month, Attorney General Eric Holder called the United States a “nation of cowards” regarding discussions of race even as his department was failing to prosecute one of the clearest cases of voter intimidation in American history because the defendants were black militants, members of the New Black Panther Party.

Holder said that “we, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about things racial.” Okay, let’s talk, starting with Tuesday’s testimony of J. Christian Adams, a former career DOJ attorney in the Voting Rights Section. Adams resigned over DOJ’s handling of the Black Panther case and DOJ’s refusal to honor Civil Rights Commission subpoenas, including ordering Adams not to comply.

On Election Day 2008, New Black Panther party members King Samir Shabazz, Malik Zulu Shabazz and Jerry Jackson engaged in activities that resulted in charges in a civil complaint of violating the Voting Rights Act through intimidation, threats and coercion, as they stood dressed in military garb outside a Philadelphia polling place.

The video of the event, photos and witness testimony presented an open-and-shut case ripe for DOJ prosecution. The Justice Department under President George W. Bush filed criminal charges against the three men. Holder’s Justice Department would later drop the charges in a plea deal in which the baton-brandishing thugs promised not to do it again in Philadelphia until 2012. They walked, free to intimidate elsewhere.

On Tuesday, Adams gave the testimony his bosses tried to block, telling the Civil Rights Commission how Holder’s department refused to prosecute what he has called “the clearest case of voter intimidation that I’ve seen since practicing law.”

At an April 23 Commission hearing, witnesses testified to how the Black Panthers acted in concert, threatening black Republicans and whites who showed up. Two witnesses testified that they saw some would-be voters turn back and leave without voting after seeing the nightstick and being called “white devils.”

Yet Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for civil rights, testified before the commission in April that “the facts did not constitute a prosecutable violation of the federal criminal civil rights statutes.” Say what?

“After reviewing the evidence, the department concluded that there was insufficient evidence to establish that the party or Malik Zulu Shabazz violated Section 11(b),” Perez said in his testimony.

Adams told the Commission on Tuesday that DOJ officials “over and over and over” showed “hostility” to prosecution of voter intimidation cases involving “black defendants and white victims.”

Adams says that Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli, an Obama political appointee, overruled a unanimous recommendation for continued prosecution by Adams and his associates.

Adams testified Tuesday that when the Black Panther case came up, he heard officials in the department say it was “no big deal” and “media-generated” and point to Fox News as the source. The video and witness testimony speaks for itself. So does the fact that one of the Black Panthers was in fact an official poll-watcher for the Democratic Party and an elected local party official.

Now imagine if this had been Tea Party members outside a polling place in Philadelphia, Miss. Would those in Holder’s department have turned their heads and said there was nothing to see here, just move along? We think the outcome and the media coverage would have been different.

Clearly, a congressional investigation is in order, but that will have to wait until at least the next and hopefully different Congress is sworn in. Holder’s obligation is to provide equal justice under the law. Regarding his oath of office, he has failed miserably.

The Black Panthers in this case should have been judged by the content of their character and the nature of their actions, not excused because of the color of their skin.

[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Belgium: Police Quiz Former Head of Catholic Church

Brussels, 6 July (AKI) — The former head of the Catholic church in Belgium, Cardinal Danneels, was on Tuesday questioned by police. He has been accused of knowing of sexual abuse of children by priests but failing to stop it. His interrogation followed recent police raids on the Archbishop’s Palace and Mechelen Cathedral in which large amounts of documents and computers were seized.

“He was named in at least 50 files as being aware (of the abuse cases),” a spokesman for the Belgian prosecutor’s office said.

Danneels was questioned on Tuesday as a witness, not a suspect, and has not been charged with any crime.

He resigned in January after three decades as Belgium’s archbishop.

It was also reported that documents relating to the notorious Belgian child sex killer Marc Dutroux were also recovered during the raids.

A church commission which had for several years been monitoring complaints about sexual abuse of children by paedophile priests resigned last week.

The move came after police seized all of of the commission’s 475 files and the computer of its chairman, Belgian academic Peter Andriaenssens.

Pope Benedict XVI described the raids as “deplorable”.

The material was seized during coordinated raids in which police drilled into two tombs in the crypt of Mechelen Cathedral in northern Belgium and inserted tiny cameras to find out if any files had been hidden there.

In 2004 Marc Dutroux was sentenced to life for the abduction, kidnapping and murder of four girls: Julie, Melissa, An and Eefje and the abduction of two others.

Bishops conference spokesman Eric De Beukelaer has said the Belgian Catholic Church is ready to cooperate with the investigation.

Bruges Bishop Roger Vangheluwe resigned in April after he admitted sexually abusing a boy many years earlier. The confession prompted a wave of abuse complaints to Andriaenssens’ commission.

Child abuse is a highly sensitive issue in Belgium. Perceived police incompetence over Dutroux provoked mass protests in the 1990s.

Dutroux was in 2004 sentenced to life for the abduction, kidnapping and murder of four girls: Julie, Melissa, An and Eefje and the abduction of two others.

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

EU: Zapatero: Union More Perfect After Spanish Presidency

(ANSAmed) — STRASBOURG, JULY 6 — Spain’s term as EU president leaves “a more perfect union of Europe” behind, according to Spanish Premier Jose’ Luis Zapatero, taking stock of the six-month Spanish presidency at European Parliament. “Our term was a test to put the Treaty of Lisbon into effect,” said Zapatero. “Today, we can say that we have a more perfect union of Europe, mainly in the economy: in six months, the economic government of the union will be completely different from the past”. EU Parliament Speaker Jerzy Buzek praised Spain’s performance: “The result of their term is similar to what Spain has obtained at the football World Cup,” he said. The President of the EU Commission, Jose’ Manuel Durao Barroso spoke of a “solid and good presidency”, which did a good job of supporting the EU “during a difficult time of crisis”. Much criticism surfaced during the debate during the plenary session. For Mario Mauro (PDL-EPP) “Spain is great, but only on the football pitch”. Left-wing MPs said that Zapatero led Europe “like he is leading the Spanish government, without taking the people into account”. “During the debate there was a strong presence of an ideological element,” commented Zapatero. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

France: Industry Drops Cigarettes’ Prices, Government Anger

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, JULY 5 — The French government has reacted angrily to the decision by some tobacco manufacturers to reduce the price of cigarettes by between 20 and 25 cents per pack. The Health Minister, Roselyne Bachelot, said that she was “absolutely outraged” at the decision, which in her view represents a clear “initiative from tobacco manufacturers to attract new smokers”. The Minister added that “tobacco manufacturers have benefited from a certain number of decisions adopted in the context of EU law”. In a counter-attacking move, Bachelot announced “an increase in excise tax to bring cigarettes back to a dissuasive price”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

France: Sarkozy Sacks 2 Ministers to Allay Scandals

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, JULY 6 — Faced with the propagation of scandals involving government members, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has “sacrificed” two second-level figures: the Secretary of State of the region-capital, Christian Blanc, and the Minister for Cooperation, Alain Joyandet, to allay scandals around Budget Minister Woerth, in charge of the key reform of pensions, who has for some days been caught up scandal as he is accused of covering up tax evasion by Lilliane Bettencourt, the elderly heir to the L’Oreal empire. Or at least this is the opinion of the French press, which almost unanimously say that the firing of Joyandet and Blanc was nothing more than a ploy to “cover up” the much more delicate matter which sees Woerth e ‘Madame L’Oreal’ involved. On June 30, Sarkozy announced a government reshuffle in October, also to “severely deal with the consequence of the ministers’ behaviour.” The “clean-up” was therefore expected in the autumn, but pressure on the government was such that Joyandet and Blanc were released sooner. And it was Sarkozy himself who asked them to leave. According to many observers, the two ministers thus become the scapegoats of the scandal linked to the government’s crazy spending revealed by the French press: Joyandet for having used public funds to rent a private jet (some 116,500 euros to go to Martinique) amongst other things, whilst Blanc is said to have spent 12,000 euros on Cuban cigars.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

France: Socialists to Boycott Vote on Full Veil

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, JULY 6 — France’s socialists MPs decided today that they will not participate in a vote on a bill that seeks to ban the full Muslim veil, according to an announcement by a source in the socialist party to France Presse. The decision was adopted “almost unanimously” by the Socialist Party during a national assembly in Paris. Parliament should begin discussing the bill this afternoon for the next two or three days before a vote on July 13. The bill will go to the Senate in September. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece’s Woes Provide Fuel for Turkish Eurosceptics

Ariana Ferentinou

In an odd way, whatever happens to Turkey and Greece in the near future is going to test the credibility of the EU.

For Turkey, the accession negotiations are proving to be an uphill struggle. The opening of one negotiating chapter last week -the 13th one- was a small step forward. But only a very small step. Turkey managed to open 13 out of a total 35 negotiating chapters with the EU, but was able to conclude only one, thanks to the obstacles put forward by countries like Cyprus, France, Germany to name but a few. The Turkish government is insisting on its somewhat jaded rhetoric of “Turkey being necessary for the EU more than EU being necessary for Turkey,” but the dubious results so far have reinforced the camp of Eurosceptics in Turkey. Of course, Ankara has got a large part to blame for the slow progress: despite sworn assurances by Turkish government officials of their will to apply reforms, one cannot ignore the marked decrease of enthusiasm for accession to the EU.

But that is one side of the story. An increasing trend of skepticism among certain circles in Turkey over the prospects of Turkey ever joining the “EU club” does not entirely being blamed on Ankara’s failings. After the serious blow that the global financial crisis has caused to its members, more and more opinions are being voiced over the very sustainability of the entire EU project and the capability of the EU to maintain itself as an institution. It is that type of Euro-skepticism that is catching up in Turkey as it watches Brussels being totally absorbed in a desperate struggle to cope with an unprecedented economic and financial crisis while trying to convince its public opinion that it remains a socially caring institution.

And it is on this point that Ankara meets Athens. For several analysts, what was labeled as “Greek crisis” in the autumn of last year —coinciding with the coming to power of the new Socialists of George Papandreou- was not really Greek at all. The volatility of the common EU currency blamed on the “huge Greek public debt” which in turn caused an almost collapse of the financial credibility of Greece, was not entirely Greece’s fault, many analysts claim now: Greece with its inherent weaknesses and structural problems was just a loose link in the EU chain and broke first. But more links are breaking up since then like Spain, Ireland, Italy, France and even U.K. whose governments are forcing almost identical “emergency legislation” through their parliaments-curtailing traditional labor and social security rights. For the citizen of the EU the current global crisis had deep existential dimensions as it demonstrated that ideals historically associated with the European ideals like human rights, freedom of expression, respect to the individual, etc, were the first to suffer under the strain of a financial market economy.

In one week’s time the Greek parliament is expected to approve a new bill that will radically change the fundamental structure of the country’s social security system for the employees of the public sector. A wide reform program on pensions and benefits will demand for both women and men to work until their 65th year and have many of their benefits cut or heavily taxed. The Greek citizens will soon see their income reduced while expected to work longer years. A tough memorandum agreed between the government and representatives of IMF, Eurogroup and the European Bank seems to prevail over the country’s constitution in spite the opposite verdicts by the Greek judicial authorities. Greece has been placed under the “tutelage” of this new emergency scheme devised by the Eurozone states in order to save the credibility of the euro.

The Greeks are very angry, disillusioned and scared for the future. For the moment, their rage targets their politicians whom they see as the main source of their bad fortunes. Traditionally party animals, the Greeks are for the first time showing signs of abandoning their political affiliations. According to an interesting survey published yesterday in the Greek press, the two biggest main parties (the government Socialist PASOK and the main opposition centrist right of New Democracy) hardly attract 39 percent of the public preference while more than 40 percent of the respondents does not find any political party worthy of support. For a country where only a few months ago, the two main parties were attracting a solid 80 percent of the votes, this change is remarkable. And it is even more indicative of deep social changes that the recent economic crisis have brought to the political landscape in Greece, that 49 percent of the respondents believes that the current political system cannot lead the country out of the crisis. Still 64 percent thinks that the time is not right yet for the formation of new parties neither to the left nor to the right.

In spite of the fact that they were beneficiaries of considerable portion of aid funds, the Greeks have always been skeptical of the “EU project”; especially because of Brussel’s lack of any credible foreign policy on major issues like the war in Yugoslavia or Iraq. But this time they see themselves being directly affected by the deep ideological changes brought about by the Lisbon Reform Treaty. Of course their political leadership has got a lot to blame; inherent mentality of nepotism has got a lot to blame. But they also realize that the European structure they thought they belonged to no longer exists. This is what the Turkish Eurosceptics see in the EU, too: as a project that cannot survive in its present form hence Turkey should not spend all its energy trying to belong to an institution whose future is doubtful.

Whatever will happen to both Greece and Turkey from now on will be a crucial test for the EU.

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

Italy-Turkey: EU Membership; Global Approach From Media Forum

(ANSAmed) — ISTANBUL (TURKEY), JULY 5 — The enormous and vital value of the effect of foreign industries on Turkish territory, both on the economic plan and on technological growth, was the main issue at the second session of the Italy-Turkey Media and Economic Forum held in Istanbul on Saturday. Amongst the most salient figures by speakers were those relating to the direct presence of Italian companies in Turkey, which amount to some 60: the number of people employed by Italian companies in Turkey has risen from 9,800 in 2000 to some 30,000 today. With regard to the process for Turkey’s EU membership, Egemen Bagis, the Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs, said that the greatest obstacle is “prejudice, the fact of not knowing each other well” and it is precisely for this reason that meetings like the Media and Economic Forum are necessary. Turkey, added Bagis, does not demand preferential treatment in the EU membership process, but it wants to be treated like all the other countries that have preceded it. “We don’t want preferential treatment because Turkey is in an important strategic position,” underlined Bagis, “but we want to be treated like others.” After highlighting that all Italian governments have been and are in favour of Ankara’s entry into the EU and that Italy has a special place in the Turkish people’s heart, Bagis underlined that it is understandable that “the people are afraid of 72 million Turks,” and it is precisely for this reason that “it is necessary to spread a message of union to the millions of people in Europe.” Opening the forum, Ambassador Marsili repeated that the EU must gain strength “if it does not want to be reduced to playing a secondary role on the international scene” and in order to do this, it needs Turkey. But he also underlined how “the delays in membership have created a sense of frustration in Turkey.” (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Florence Graft Trial Moves to Rome

Ex-public works chief Balducci to face new trial with 5 others

(ANSA) — Florence, July 6 — The trial of two public officials for alleged graft in public tenders for a new police academy in Florence moved to Rome Tuesday in keeping with a ruling last month by the supreme Court of Cassation.

The former head of the state public works office, Angelo Balducci, 54; and the Tuscany region’s public works contractor Fabio De Santis, 61; are accused of bribery to land the contract for a new Carabinieri training school on the outskirts of Florence.

Like another four people already under investigation in Rome, they deny wrongdoing.

A 66-year-old Rome lawyer, Guido Cerruti, was also on trial in Florence but died in a Rome hospital on Tuesday, shortly after news of the transfer.

The Florence judges declared their “territorial incompetence” in line with the high court’s view that the case should be handled in Rome as part of a wider graft probe that has yet to come to court. Prosecutors denied suggestions the move would hurt the case.

“It will be easier for the Rome prosecutors to start up again and swiftly bring the defendants to justice,” said prosecutor Luca Turco.

“The case established by the probe remains extremely solid,” he said. The three and Rome businessman Diego Anemone, 38, are being investigated by prosecutors looking into alleged graft in public tenders for work on other state venues, including the renovation of the original site of last year’s Group of Eight summit on the Sardinian island of La Maddalena.

Anemone has also been named in a probe into a shady Rome real estate deal over which industry minister Claudio Scajola resigned in May.

Media reports have claimed Anemone paid most of the price, off the books, of the ex-minister’s Rome flat overlooking the Colosseum.

Scajola, who is not under investigation, has denied wrongdoing.

Civil Protection chief Guido Bertolaso, also being probed in connection with the La Maddalena venue, offered to quit earlier this year but the resignation was turned down by Premier Silvio Berlusconi, who has staunchly defended him.

Bertolaso was tasked by the government with supervising preparations for the G8 summit, which was held last July in the quake-hit city of L’Aquila.

The national coordinator of Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party, Denis Verdini, has also been implicated in probes stemming from the civil protection departments’s arrogation of powers and bypassing of normal tender procedures for a raft of so-called ‘Major Events’.

State attorney Massimo Giannuzzi told reporters last month that the premier’s office would ask to stand as a civil plaintiff in the trial to seek “loss of image damages” caused by the involvement of top civil servants in the scam.

Lawyers for Balducci and De Santis have said their clients should be released from preventive custody because of the Cassation Court’s decision to move the case to Rome.

In all, six people are currently under investigation for alleged corruption in the Rome probe on the Florence police barracks, including Verdini.

The others are Balducci, De Santis and three businessmen: Francesco Maria De Vito Piscicelli, Roberto Bartolomei and Riccardo Fusi.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: ‘National Plan’ Against Chinese Mafia

Maroni says phenomenon has reached ‘considerable proportions’

(ANSA) — Rome, July 6 — Interior Minister Roberto Maroni on Tuesday announced a “national plan” to combat the Chinese mafia in Italy, which he said had reached “considerable proportions”.

“The difficulty we have with the Chinese community stems from the fact that we still do not have an accord to repatriate illegal aliens to China and this is because the Chinese government has refused to sign one,” Maroni said.

The interior minister said he was organising a meeting in Rome “with the participation of the interior, economy and labor ministries to draw up a national plan” to deal with foreign organised crime in Italy.

“Our experiences in recent years and the operation carried out last month by the Finance Guard have made it clear to us that the problem is a serious one which cannot be left to local initiatives. Mayors cannot be left on their own,” Maroni said.

Italian tax police last week moved against the Chinese mafia and broke up a money laundering ring believed to have exported 2.7 billion euros in illicit earnings over the past four years.

The operation saw the Finance Guard make 24 arrests, carry out searches and seize assets in eight regions: Tuscany, Lombardy, Piedmont, Veneto, Emilia Romagna, Lazio, Campania and Sicily.

According to investigators, 100 enterprises were able to launder illegal earnings through a network of money transfer agencies which sent the cash to China.

Those arrested face charges of money laundering, tax evasion, aiding the illegal entry into Italy of foreigners and then exploiting the illegal labor, prostitution, counterfeiting, commercial fraud though selling products with fake brand names or in violation of laws protecting Italian-made goods, receiving stolen property and theft.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Children More Likely to Move Back Home

Some 20% of the youngsters who left home at the beginning of this century moved back home within five years, according to new figures from the national statistics office CBS,

In the 1990s, some 15% returned home and in the 1970s just 10%, the research shows.

The break up of a relationship and dropping out of college or university are the most common reasons for returning home.

‘It used to be that youngsters left home if they were getting married. Now they live together first and that is less final,’ a CBS spokesman said.

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

Netherlands: Both Parents Work in 77% of Families

Some 77% of Dutch families have two working parents compared with 68% in 2002, the national statistics office CBS said on Monday.

The Netherlands has some 1.6 million two-parent families.

In 62% of households, fathers are the main breadwinners. In just 2% of households, women work longer hours.

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

Pope ‘Won’t Watch World Cup Semi’

But Benedict ‘will be informed’ of Germany-Spain result

(ANSA) — Vatican City, July 7 — Pope Benedict XVI will not be tuning in to see if his fellow Germans make it to the World Cup final, sources at the Vatican press office said ahead of Wednesday night’s semi-final clash with Spain.

The pope, who has just moved to his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo outside Rome, won’t have the telly on “but will be informed of the result,” they said.

Back in Rome, Vatican No.2 Tarcisio Bertone is certain to be watching given his well-known love of soccer, the sources added.

Cardinal Bertone hasn’t said who he’ll be rooting for but pundits think it will be probably his boss’s compatriots, also in light of recent Vatican tensions with Spain’s secular government, experts think.

A high-ranking Spanish prelate, who asked not to be identified, told ANSA he was “trusting in the intercession of St Fermin,” patron saint of the Pamplona bull race whose feast day falls Wednesday.

Asked whether he felt uneasy about praying that the ‘pope’s team’ would lose, he replied: “There are no saints in soccer”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkish Women’s Football Team Finds Overseas Help

Like other football fans from around the world, Turkish football fans, including female ones, have been glued to their TV screens watching the World Cup in South Africa. Although primarily a men’s pursuit, Turkish women have been participating in their own World Cup qualifying campaign, so far without success. To boost the squad, Turks born overseas have been called up to strengthen the national team

In Turkey, football is usually seen as a male sport as those playing the game as well as those watching it are predominantly male.

Yet the number of women who have become interested in this branch of sport has been greatly increasing, while some female football fans prefer to kick the ball on the field rather than just watch it from the stands.

Some of these female aficionados are now forming the backbone of Turkey’s national women’s football team.

Feride Bakir has been playing football in Germany since she was 8, while Leyla Bagci, a goalkeeper born in Holland, has been on the fields since age 10.

Others, meanwhile, are Turks from Sweden and Belgium. Another, Melisa Dilber, has been playing on Canada’s Ottawa Fury while Seyma Benli has been playing for the past 15 years in the U.S.

Gülcan Koca, born in Australia and a current player for Melbourne Victory, said she had been training for two hours a day, five days of the week.

There are 1,300 licensed female football players in Turkey, with 22 teams competing in the Turkish leagues. Turkey, however, still have a long way to go to catch up with Germany, which boasts 2 million female players.

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

UK: 7/7 Has Brought Communities Closer Together

The actions of four calculating murderers on the morning of 7th July 2005 brought misery and mayhem for countless ordinary innocent Londoners and their families. However, in spite of their crimes, they can almost singlehandedly take credit for bringing British communities closer to each other. Since this date, enormous changes have touched the lives of the British public, and in particular those of the two million or so Muslims for whom this country is home.

A new political era has dawned upon Britain, bringing with it a series of fundamental changes affecting almost everyone on these isles. The anniversary of 7/7 seems to be an appropriate time to pause and take stock of the past five years, especially in relation to community relations and to review its prospects in the years to come.

One common intention between the 7/7 bombers, groups such as Islam4UK and arguably the EDL, was to sow the seeds of discord and instil fear as a wedge between Muslim and non-Muslim communities. However what is overwhelmingly evident is that by and large, they failed to do so. Insulting stunts such as those organised against the repatriation of soldiers from Afghanistan or depicting the wishful future of Buckingham Palace as a mega mosque have not only been laughed off collectively by the British public, but for the first time in British history, Islamic extremism has been successfully challenged by moderate elements from within the Muslim communities, resulting in extremists losing face in public. This not only goes to show the diversity and resilience of British communities but also highlights the fact that community cohesion in Britain is much deeper and more integral to the fabric of our society than was previously apparent. Instead there has been a genuine quest across the board to understand the reasons behind these atrocious acts.

The 7 July atrocities have also had the unintended consequence of turning up the volume on the more moderate and liberal voices in the Muslim community. Prior to the attacks, the airspace was largely dominated by more hard-line extremist voices, which have since been exposed as totally unrepresentative of the wider Muslim population. Digging deeper, it appears that in reality the concerns of most British Muslims are the same as non-Muslims: job security, raising families, paying mortgages and bills. Religion remains a private matter for many of us for whom loyalty towards crown and country remain paramount.

However, we should also remain vigilant. The threat to our communities is still very real. Unfortunately examples still exist of people who are vulnerable and at risk of being seduced by the call of extremists, be that in the form of Islamic extremism or far-right groups. Muslim and non Muslim communities cannot afford to rest on their laurels. We must continue to work hard together to identify and support those vulnerable people as well as rooting out those extremist elements in our midst, in whatever form they may take.

Unsurprisingly, comparisons between the proscription of Islam4UK and the banning of similar extremists such as Zakir Naik or the acquittal of Nick Griffin in a hate-speech trial and allowing Geert Wilders into the country to spread his prejudices can be confusing to some audiences, who feel double standards are being applied. Equally, the preaching of hatred and advocacy of self seclusion for Muslims continues to go unhindered by some foreign and local religious leaders.

Groups trained according to twisted interpretations of Islamic teachings are as important to address as the activities of far right groups, who are busy exploiting manifestations of economic disparities to sow hatred and discord. Both remain key challenges that will need to be addressed in a more decisive way by community leaders and decisions makers. The most effective and sustainable way to do so is to ensure there is an open and frank debate about the successes and shortcoming of this country’s counter-terrorism strategy.

Heads must come out of the sand to celebrate and take stock of the last five years in order to prepare for the next fifty. If we do so, this country’s tradition of tolerance, respect and vigilance will continue to flourish.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Bombings Brought Out Best of Leeds

It was an early-hours call to me in my flat in London from the home secretary informing me that those who had bombed London two weeks earlier on 7 July were from Leeds that raised fears of reprisals. The home secretary advised me to get the first train back to my Leeds West constituency as hundreds had to be evacuated from their homes at 8am that morning. The police had discovered a bath of potentially lethal acid in the front room of a bomb factory in Burley. Over 450 people were to be turned out of their homes and he told me “get back home and just do what you can to keep things calm”.

My fear at the time was not only a major house explosion among the inner-city terraced streets of Burley — but reprisals, including personal attacks on Asians, their shops and the local mosques. Encouragingly, I got back to find residents did not need the emergency facilities provided by the council at Kirkstall sports centre — people across the street just opened their homes and took in their neighbours — even though many had hardly spoken previously. The local community rose to the crisis, cutting straight through ethnic, religious and family barriers.

Knocking on doors to check things were all right on the second morning I found Joe — an older single man, previously a bit nervous of his Asian neighbours — there in the front room of the Hindu family opposite, sitting looking out of the window with a mug of tea. When I said: “Oh, you’re here Joe. You can go back home now,” he replied: “Do I have to?”

Though the neighbourhood was overwhelmed by police and the world’s media, the neighbours looked after each other. This in a constituency that the Sun caricatured as “white-van-man land plus the Asians”. Nor were there reprisals against Muslims or the mosques. After appearing on Newsnight on the first evacuation day outside the family home of one of the bombers to argue against a Dutch politician pressing for total segregation policies and defending British Muslims as part of our community, I can remember as I moved away from the interview in the dark people in their white Pakistani clothes spontaneously streaming out of their homes to thank me for reassuring them that they still belonged in Leeds. One said: “You have let us come out again, we were so afraid.”

Two days before the bombings I had presented a memo to the prime minister advising that more investment in “interfaith relations” needed a sharper focus on two aspects: deepening the dialogue beyond tea and samosa meetings (and Leeds Concord has an excellent interfaith relations track record going back 30 years, drawing all faiths together) but also focusing on young people under 25 years’ old.

That memo was not aimed specifically at young Muslims, but it reflected the need to move off a “war on terror” and to listen and engage with young people in a constituency like mine where there is low-paid service sector work but few facilities for young people and a significant ceiling on job opportunities for young people of Asian origin. Their great grandfathers came — invited — to work in West Yorkshire’s mills, their grandfathers set up family corner shops, their fathers were taxi drivers and the first fully educated generation were now hoping and looking for a chance at better jobs and further education.

In the five years since that fateful crisis, local neighbourhood relations have actually been calmer and more open than before. Rather than random interfaith cultural expeditions and visits to open days at the mosques, not only have all the mosques made a real effort to positively open up regularly but also to go out to others. The Armley mosque, for example, has developed a strong relationship with the nearby St Bartholomew’s Anglican church. Bright, new, young leadership at the local mosques has stepped forward with challenging demands for shared community facilities (including football) for young people, coming out confidently at last with demands on their own terms and demonstrating a real capacity to work in relationships with others. New, highly professional and trained imams (one is a young lawyer) are now making a real impression on the life and power structure of the city.

That has been the shift in the last five years — the emergence of younger, confident and professional leadership in the local mosques, well able to reach out and in nobody’s political or economic back-pocket. And this new leadership, capable of engaging with the authorities, is inspiring old members of the community themselves to “come out” When the char of the mosque picked up the teapot at the healthy living open day and went round pouring out everybody’s tea with a huge smile and friendly word, he did more for enhancing local community relations than a million words or a thousand leaflets. The remaining ongoing task, of course, is to practically address the economic realities that leave young Muslims locked out of job opportunities and dreaming of a different life.

[JP note: a commentator to this post has pointed out that the author is utter denial which about sums up the whole Guardian approach to the London bombings by publishing articles such as this.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Let the Big Society Fight Terrorism

On this, the fifth anniversary of the London bombings, the Centre for Social Cohesion has released a “telephone directory” of Islamist terrorists convicted in the UK. The director, Douglas Murray, has used it to claim the government has failed to learn the lessons of 7/7, particularly in respect of its “Prevent” strategy. He argues that Prevent does not address the real problem — Islamism. Murray is right to criticise Prevent, but his solution — fight all Islamism, not just the violent type — would make matters worse.

Murray’s intervention comes at a critical time as the coalition government is currently reviewing its Prevent work, with a decision expected in the autumn. Prevent aims to stop terrorism before it emerges by empowering Muslim communities to fight radicalisation and “drain the swamp” of potential recruits. What happens here transcends counterterrorism, illuminating the perennial Liberal/Conservative tension: how to promote tolerance, equality and human rights while simultaneously rolling back the state.

Back in 2005 Demos supported Prevent, on the basis that the root causes of terrorism needed to be tackled. We were wrong. True, there has been no successful terrorist plot in the UK since 7/7, but this is largely down to the skill of our policing and security services and al-Qaida’s fragmentation. Since its inception, Prevent has been subject to persistent concerns about its effectiveness, culminating in a critical House of Commons select committee report in March, which recommended major reform. It is odd that Murray argues that the government refuses to accept that Islamic terrorism is the main threat to the country, given that Prevent’s focus on Muslims has been a persistent cause of complaint.

There is no one path to terrorism nor, despite Murray’s claims, a typical terrorist profile, Prevent has already come to cover a wide range of activities, some of which have little to do with terrorism, such as awareness-raising DVDs or developing faith in the school curriculum. As last week’s furore surrounding possible cuts to the counterterrorism budget demonstrated, this is not affordable.

Rather than extend Prevent to tackle all types of Islamism, as Murray would have, there is a more effective approach: abolish Prevent entirely and merge it into plans to create the Big Society. Unfairly labelled as vacuous by bitter cynics and naysayers, if the Big Society results in people playing a meaningful and active role in their neighbourhoods and communities, it will also help prevent extremism and terrorism.

As I’ve argued here and here, one of the reasons young British Muslims join extreme or terrorist groups is to find meaning in their lives, a desire to be part of a movement, a testosterone-fuelled need to fight for something, however odious. The idea of being part of an international jihadist movement can be exhilarating. Many young Muslims (about as far as Murray’s or anyone else’s terrorist profiling takes us) and young men in general, always have been and always will be radical, dissenting and angry.

New research is starting to suggest that political and social activism is an important outlet for that youthful energy. Our research found that “violent” extremists were less likely to have taken part in civic engagement and political protest than peaceful extremists. We also found a number of young Muslims being diverted from violent activity when provided with peaceful, meaningful alternatives. Unpublished research by the Change Institute shows that membership of one radical Islamist group in the UK went into decline from 2002 as young Muslims joined the anti-war movement in large numbers and found an outlet for their frustration. New research from the US is finding the same thing — that political and social protest and activism acts as a safety valve. Indeed, Murray’s own findings seem to support this — a minority of convicted terrorists were part of two extremist organisations, both of which are already proscribed anyway.

The Big Society can tackle terrorism indirectly as effectively as any other attempt at prevention, if it does three things. First, to include schemes that allow young British Muslims to volunteer in the countries they are most concerned about, such as Palestine. It would be a kind of UK Peace Corps. Second, a sustained effort to ensure that young Muslims have opportunities to play a more meaningful role in their local communities. Mosques, for example, remain too much in the control of community elders. Political activism — protests and associations — should be encouraged and welcomed even if radical. Third, to push forward with plans for a National Citizens Service, making sure young Muslims from segregated or disadvantaged communities have the chance to take part.

Prevent, with its focus on stopping terrorism, too often alienated the very people it was trying to bring onside. Trying to make it tackle all type of extremism, which would be impossible anyway, would make that worse. In its place, the Big Society, a citizen-led collective action that is independent of government, would enjoy more support. It if succeeds in developing what the philosopher Michael Sandel calls “a sense of belonging, a concern for the whole, a moral bind with the community whose fate is at stake”, there will be little need for Prevent, because this bind is precisely what terrorists lack.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Terrorism Policy Flaws ‘Increased Risk of Attacks, ‘ Says Former Police Chief

Britain’s fight against terrorism has been a disaster, because its “flawed, neo-conservative” direction alienated Muslims and increased the chances of terrorist attacks, a former leading counter-terrorism officer has told the Guardian. Speaking to mark today’s fifth anniversary of the 7 July attacks in London, Dr Robert Lambert said the atrocity had led the Labour government to launch not just the publicly declared battle against al-Qaida, but a much wider counter-subversive campaign that targeted non-violent Muslims and branded them as supporters of violence.

Lambert, now an academic, served for 30 years as an officer in Scotland Yard’s special branch, dealing with the threat from Irish Republican terrorism through to the menace from al-Qaida. He was head of a counter-terrorism squad, the Muslim contact unit (MCU), which gained intelligence on violent extremists, and won praise from Muslims, even those who have criticised police.

Lambert said the Labour government adopted a “flawed, neo-con analysis to react to 7 July. The view was that this is such an evil ideology, we are entitled to derogate from human rights considerations even further.”

The effect of this, said Lambert, was to cast the net too wide: “The [British] analysis was a continuation of the [US] analysis after 9/11, which drove the war on terror, to say al-Qaida is a tip of a dangerous Islamist iceberg … we went to war not against terrorism, but against ideas, the belief that al-Qaida was a violent end of a subversive movement.” Lambert said this approach alienated British Muslims, as those who expressed views such as opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, also held by non-Muslims, feared that holding such beliefs made them suspects.

“The best way of tackling al-Qaida is to reassure the communities where it seeks support and recruits, is to show those communities that their grievances can be expressed legitimately,” Lambert said. His comments come as Andy Hayman, the former assistant commissioner who led the 7/7 investigation, warns in the Times that Britain remains “under severe risk” from terror attacks. “There are now probably more radicalised Muslims, their attack plans are more adventurous and the UK still remains under severe risk,” Hayman said.

Five years ago today, four Britons inspired, and some trained, by al-Qaida exploded homemade bombs on three London Underground trains and a bus. They killed themselves, murdered 52 people and injured 750 more. Lambert said the government was desperate to deny that British foreign policy drove sections of the Muslim community to support or sympathise with al-Qaida. He continued: “What the bombers did, and what al-Qaida does successfully, is to exploit widely held grievances. That should not be difficult to grasp. The last government spent most of the last five years denying that, looking for other narratives to explain what had happened.”

“All this is happening under the shadow of military action … with terrorist groups planning to legitimise their attacks in the UK on the basis of what is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Lambert said the government’s decision to go down the wrong path took the police with them. Senior officers could have done more to tell the government their policies were making the task harder by alienating Muslims. “We could see the Bush-Rumsfeld approach would be counter-productive and impact on us as police officers in London. “There is still a duty on the police to let government know what the impact of their policies are, a duty on the police to report the damaging impact on Muslim community support.”

Lambert was awarded an MBE for his work heading the MCU and retired in 2007. He said the fight needed to focus solely on the terrorists, and not on those who may share some of their political views, but who will express them peacefully. He said that British policies handed the terrorists propaganda victories. Such policies included the Iraq war, civilian casualties in Afghanistan, the torture of terror suspects at Guantánamo and elsewhere, rendition, the muted response to Israel’s attack on Lebanon and the attempt to hold terror suspects in the UK for 90 days without charge.

[JP note: What the article does not mention is the former copper’s links to the Muslim Brotherhood — his comments are therefore worthless.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Terrorism: In the Face of Fear

It was some months before the bombs went off that the Belmarsh case required the law lords to consider whether life of the nation was threatened, which the majority of them accepted that it was. The pall cast by 9/11 went far and wide, sending British spines into a shiver well before a single jihadi terrorist had committed murder on these shores. Then, on 7/7, they came — indiscriminate, murderous and seemingly more apocalyptic than political. Tony Blair, who had by then long been marching in lock-step with George Bush’s “war on terror”, lost no time in demanding draconian new laws on the basis that “the rules of the game have changed”.

Five years on, Blairite plans to close mosques and force the courts to churn out control orders are forgotten,even if Robert Lambert’s description to today’s Guardian of a “flawed neconservative” security agenda retains some validity. The departure of a crusading imperialist from the White House helped to cool things down, as did the courageous decision of the then opposition to see off Labour plans to jail terrorism suspects for 90 days and then — once that pitch failed — for 42 days before they were charged. Above all, however, reality intruded. The political edict that barred any admission of the linkage between foreign policy and the terrorism threat collapsed under the weight of intelligence connecting the two. The drip-drip of evidence suggesting that British agents had connived in torture after 9/11 built into a stream that could not be ignored, and only yesterday the prime minister announced an inquiry of a sort. And while the west undermined its own moral claims to rewrite the rules of civilisation, its citizens learned to put the threat into a more proper perspective. The London outrage of 2005 was the worst single act of terrorism on UK soil, but it did not mark the start of a sustained campaign like that of the IRA. And it hardly needs saying any longer that the life of the nation is not being tested as it was by the nightly massacres of the Blitz.

It would, however, be hasty to assume that we have collectively learned to manage the threat rationally, and still hastier to imagine the danger has faded away. Even as the muscular arm of the security state wages an unwinnable war in Afghanistan, its eyes discern new sources of danger — in Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan — and its ears pick up on and prevent devastating plots, some of which would cost scores of lives. That intelligence work is vitally important — a matter of life and death. But that does not excuse scare-mogering by those who undertake it, of the sort that Scotland Yard’s antiterrorism chief, John Yates, indulged in last week when he issued dire hints about what expenditure cuts might mean for safety on the streets. Together with the unique repugnance that inevitably attaches to mass murder, interests within the security nexus ensure that terrorism still terrifies like nothing else. Thus, the practice of setting aside the right to a day in court for suspects on control orders has, for now, survived the change of government, but ministers seem in no hurry to aid the 300 souls each year who could be saved by reducing the drink-driving limit, even though that toll is several times that of a repeat of 7/7.

A coalition of Liberal Democrats and self-proclaimed liberal Conservatives is bound together by the rhetoric of freedom, but the tests will come with the review of terrorism laws and the rigour with which the torture inquiry proceeds. For now the verdict is not proven, though one or two straws blow in the wind — the ditching of a Birmingham scheme to put Muslim districts under wholesale CCTV surveillance is a heartening sign that the security state may be in retreat. In a moving speech immediately after 7/7, London’s then mayor, Ken Livingstone, warned the terrorists that, if their aim was to divide citizens and force them to junk their liberties, “you will fail”. Five years later, and against the odds, that prediction now sounds shrewd as well as courageous.

[JP note: Further proof that the Guardian is in the business of making terrorist attacks more not less likely.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Would You Want the Lungs of a Chain Smoker or the Heart of a Cocaine Addict?

Lyndsay Scott thought a lung transplant would save her life. What she didn’t know was that she was one of the growing number secretly given ‘high-risk’ organs.

When Lyndsey Scott signed her name, giving consent to a double lung transplant, she had tears on her cheeks and her hands were trembling with fear.

Lyndsey, who had cystic fibrosis, had battled for breath her whole life. But on February 11, 2009, with her health deteriorating fast, the time had come for her to put her life in the hands of surgeons.

‘All she could do at that point was trust that she had been given all the facts and that the surgeons were doing their absolute best for her,’ says her father Allan.

Sadly, he now believes that wasn’t the case. For what no one told 28-year-old Lyndsey — either before the operation or at any time before her death five months later — was that the lungs she received had belonged to a heavy smoker. [emphasis added]

A fortnight ago her grieving family, who only discovered the truth about the origins of her donor organ after requesting her medical notes, argued passionately that patients like Lyndsey, facing life-and-death decisions, have a right to know more about the condition of the organs they are receiving and the risks associated with them before consenting to surgery.

The Scotts are not claiming that Lyndsey died because the lungs she received were less than ‘perfect’. They will not speculate as to whether she might have stood a better chance of survival with the lungs of a nonsmoker. And they know that if she’d decided not to have the surgery, she’d probably have died waiting for an alternative donor.

But they believe with absolute certainty that had she been aware of all the facts, Lyndsey — a vehement anti-smoker, who was already extremely nervous about proceeding with the transplant — would have declined the lungs on offer and accepted the probably fatal consequences.

‘She just wouldn’t have put herself through the ordeal if she’d known what she was getting,’ says Allan, a retired painter from Wigan. ‘She was so frightened and couldn’t have stood the extra worry.’

But many, including those who campaign to encourage more people to join the donor register, have reacted angrily to the Scotts’ claims.

They point out that more than 10,000 people in the UK need a transplant of some kind, and every day three of them will die because there are not enough organs available.

They say there is neither the time nor the resources to allow individual patients to accept or decline organs that, in a surgeon’s opinion, are suitable for transplant.

But Allan is realistic: ‘Of course we know there is a shortage of good organs. We know how many people die waiting for a transplant, and we would implore more people to join the donor register, because that is the root of the issue.

‘I am 99 per cent certain that Lyndsey would not be alive today if she had turned that transplant down, because she may never have had another chance. But at least that would have been her choice.

‘I get so angry when people say that beggars can’t be choosers when it comes to organ donation.

‘We’re not asking for a system where patients can pick and choose an organ — that would send the system into chaos. But all of us have the right to make informed choices about the way we live and die.’

Lyndsey had been on the waiting list for 20 months before she received the call she both longed for and dreaded. While she knew the operation could give her as many as seven more years of good-quality life, she also knew it could kill her — on the operating table or soon after.

Seven out of ten cystic fibrosis sufferers survive for more than one year after a double lung transplant. Three out of ten, therefore, do not.

Lyndsey may have faced a terrible choice between a chance of life with a pair of smoker’s lungs, and almost certain death without them. But, argues Allan: ‘That choice should always have been hers to make.

‘Someone from the surgical team came up to her room with the consent form and talked her through the potential risks one last time before she signed,’ he says.

‘I know for a fact that no one told us anything about the organs she was receiving, or any specific risks. Certainly, no one said anything about “marginal” organs — which we now know are organs that, for any number of reasons, might carry a higher risk to the patient.

‘They are organs that would never have been considered suitable for transplant just a few years ago.

‘No one said: “Lyndsey, your donor smoked for 30 years before they died. How do you feel about that?” They just said the lungs were good and were being prepared for surgery.’

It was immediately clear after the surgery that it had not been the great success she had hoped for. Although Lyndsey briefly gained enough strength to leave hospital and go home, her condition deteriorated, and last July she lost her fight.

‘I’m only glad she never knew the truth, because she would have been absolutely horrified,’ says Allan. ‘Why would anyone think it was appropriate to give a girl with cystic fibrosis a pair of smoker’s lungs? It doesn’t make any sense.’

But Lyndsey’s case is no isolated one. So desperate is the organ shortage that the use of donors from ‘ high-risk categories’ — which include smokers, the elderly and patients with a history of cancer or drug abuse — has doubled in the past decade.

Twenty-six per cent of transplants now make use of ‘high-risk’ or ‘ marginal’ organs. But when a patient goes under the knife, they rarely know anything about the quality of a donor organ. [emphasis added]

The supply of strong, youthful donors is waning on account of a number of factors.

The first is the improvement in road safety. For as road accident rates go down, so does the supply of donor organs from young victims.

Second, treatment for high-blood pressure has meant that fewer young people are dying from sudden strokes; so, again the traditional pool of ideal donors is shrinking.

As Professor James Neuberger, associate medical director of NHS Blood and Transplant, explains: ‘As the population gets older and fatter, so does the donor pool.

‘We are having to make maximum use of the donors that are available. It’s not easy to balance the risks attached with trying to reduce the number of people dying while they wait for a organ to become available.’

He believes that the decision to use a particular organ in a particular patient must remain with the surgeon.

‘Transplantation in itself is risky, and all organs carry some risk,’ he says. ‘Whether that be of transmittable

Before an organ is considered for transplant, specialist nurses gather all available medical records and get a detailed history from the donor’s family, as well as information about their lifestyle, looking for potential risk factors.

Blood tests are carried out to screen for infections and viruses. These details are then passed to the surgeon of the potential recipient.

The retrieval team inspect the organ, inside and out, prior to removal.

Professor Neuberger insists that in the case of a smoker, they would check the lungs with extra care to ensure that they were working well.

The organ is inspected again by the surgeon before the final decision is made.

But despite all these checks, shocking cases do still occur. Take the fate of 31-year-old Iraq war veteran Matthew Millington, who died of lung cancer in 2008, months after receiving a double lung transplant at Cambridge’s Papworth Hospital.

The lungs, which had been donated by a smoker, were subjected to the usual rigorous screening process, yet the cancer which later took hold in Mr Millington’s body was not detected.

It was clear from the moment he came round from the surgery that something was wrong. His wife Siobhan said: ‘Other patients had told him he would be able to take a deep breath, but he said his lungs felt like two deflated balloons.’

In October 2007, six months after the transplant, a biopsy of a lymph node confirmed cancer secondary to that in the lung. The anti-rejection drugs that he had been taking after surgery had hastened the cancer’s growth.

Mrs Millington said: ‘All Matthew wanted was another set of lungs. He said: “They have given me a dud pair — get me another set.” He still thought he could beat it, but his condition deteriorated very fast.’

Remarkably, Mr Millington’s family have not tried to apportion blame, believing that doctors did all they could at the time of the transplant to ensure that the organs were not diseased.

Of course, risk can never be entirely eliminated. As Professor Neuberger says: ‘The decision to take those organs for that individual is made by the surgeon because he or she understands what the risk of that organ will be, and can balance that with the risk of not giving their patient a transplant.’

However, this ‘doctor knows best’ attitude infuriates the likes of Karen Richardson, whose husband John, 37, failed to regain consciousness after a heart transplant at Papworth Hospital in July 2008.

Like Lyndsey and Matthew, John had no idea that the organ he was accepting was in far-from-perfect condition.

At the inquest into his death in February 2009, Karen was horrified to learn that the heart John received had come from a young man who had committed suicide.

In fact, the heart had stopped beating for 15 minutes after the donor hanged himself, and had been kept beating for several days on life support before the donor died.

Moreover, the donor was a heavy smoker, a cocaine user and had several tattoos (which put him at risk of hepatitis).

One doctor noted prior to the transplant that the heart appeared enlarged and swollen with fluid, and surgeons had repaired a hole in it before dispatching it to be transplanted.
[emphasis added]

In short, if the heart that John Richardson received was considered suitable for transplant, it is difficult to imagine what state an organ would have to be in to be considered unsuitable.

‘It is so arrogant for doctors to say they know what’s best for a patient,’ says Karen, 50, from Norfolk, who is now caring for her own son as well as John’s two sons and two daughters.

‘John was dying, and we wanted a lifeline more than anything. He had a young family and he desperately didn’t want to die. But he never would have accepted that heart if he’d known all the risk factors involved.

‘He would have chosen to spend what little time he had left with me and the children at home, said his goodbyes properly and had some quality of life in the end.

‘Instead, we dashed out of the house as soon as we got the call, and the last time I saw John alive he was lying on the trolley looking terrified. I said: “I’ll be here when you wake up” — but of course he never did.’

The coroner recorded a verdict of death by medical misadventure, but stopped short of blaming the donor heart for John’s death.

But Karen is in no doubt: ‘If he’d had a decent heart, I know he’d still be here now. But that’s not the point. The point is we trusted that the surgeons were being selective about the organs they chose to transplant.

‘Those who say that the surgeon should decide, should ask themselves whether they would want the heart that John was given. Or would they rather have a peaceful and dignified death at home with their families?

‘I understand the transplant service is trying to do the best it can for the most people, but if they can’t meet the demand for good-quality organs, they should accept that and not try to play God with organs from smokers, drug addicts, cancer sufferers and pensioners.

‘Patients on the transplant list have been through enough already.

‘Sometimes I feel the surgeons might have seen John’s transplant as a challenge — a notch on their belts, a learning experience. But he lost his life, I lost my husband and his kids lost their father.’

Professor Neuberger maintains that informing patients of every potential risk from a donor organ isn’t always possible.

He said: ‘There is a very narrow window of time between knowing you have a viable transplant organ and putting it into the recipient. You don’t have time to say to a patient, “Now, let’s discuss all aspects of this donor’s history before we decide whether to proceed”.

‘That takes crucial time, and any delay could make a useable organ unusable.’

But the families whose loved ones die after receiving organs that are not up to the job will know better than anyone that this is not a perfect world. They realise that in order for an organ to be donated, someone must die, and grieving relatives must make difficult decisions.

They are grateful to anyone who is generous enough to put themselves forward as a donor. But perhaps, in this imperfect world, what is needed most is a greater pool of potential organs.

For unless more of us register as donors, there will continue to be a tragic shortfall in the number of good-quality, low-risk organs, and many of the most deserving will die as a result.

           — Hat tip: Zenster[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

Italy Mourns Death of Egyptian Scholar Abu Zayd

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JULY 6 — There have been expressions of regret in the Italian press at the death in Cairo yesterday of Egyptian intellectual Nasr Hamid Abu Zaid, the Islamic scholar who, for its method of analysis of the Koran’s text, was found guilty of apostasy in 1995. In order to avoid a forced divorce from his wife, as Koranic law regulates matrimony in Egypt, the couple moved to Holland where he took up the post of Visiting Professor at the University of Leiden, while returning to Cairo occasionally Cairo. Writing in Repubblica newspaper today and on the website Reset Doc Dialogues on Civilizations — on whose Scientific Panel Abu Zayd sat — Giancarlo Bosetti said that the scholar’s “premature death deprives us of a person who merited the title of liberal Islamic intellectual more than any other”. Deceased, at the age of 66 following an attack of meningitis, Abu Zaid “was a believer and the accusation of apostasy hurt him deeply”. He leaves behind, Bosetti continued, “a deep impression on generations of Moslems to whom he taught a humanistic, historic and philological interpretation of the Koran,” which is well illustrated in the autobiography he wrote along with Navid Kermani (“Una vita con l’Islam” — A Life with Islam, Il Mulino press). Italy’s Corriere della Sera also noted the death of the scholar under the title: ‘Farewell to Abu Zayd, Moslem Heretic”. While the Catholic review ‘Citta’ Nuova’ ran the headline: “Abu Zayd Has Left Us”., a website of the Arab-Islamic world in Italy, chose the words, “Professor Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd Has Left Us”. The scholar gave several interviews to both ANSA and to ANSAmed. The last of these was in January, from Cairo, where he spoke with bitterness at the way his country had changed, with religious fundamentalism now widespread in every layer of society and Islamic thought so impoverished that it had been reduced to “vague” and “cheap” concepts. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UPM: Educational Project Arab Broadcasters-France TV

(ANSAmed) — MARSEILLES, JULY 5 — Three Arab TV channels and several experts from France Televisions will carry out the Maarifa Project (in Arab, to know) launched by the Cultural Council of the Mediterranean Union to promote the diffusion of innovative educational audiovisual programs. Three programmes have, in fact, been chosen from the ten presented by Med area channels: ‘Mektaba’ (library) from the Moroccan channel Arrabia, a serial fiction of 30 episodes, each lasting 26 minutes, intended for small children; ‘Chabaab’ (adolescents) from Palestinian channel Wattan Tv, a 12-episode programme aimed at very young children and made by very young children, broadcast on TV but also on internet via Facebook and Twitter; and finally ‘Madrassati’ (my school) by Jordanian channel JRTV, which aims at developing the use of digital technology within the scholastic system of the Hashemite Kingdom. All three programs should be finished within 18 months. For the carrying out of Maarifa — launched this past April 6 — France Televisions has set aside a budget of 500,000 euros over two years.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt: Minister to Attend ‘No for Circumcision’ Inking Event

(ANSAmed) — ROMA, 6 LUG — State Minister for Family and Population Affairs Moushira Khattab will attend on Thursday a ceremony in the Upper Egypt governorate of Assiut marking villagers’ inking of four popular documents saying “no” to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Khattab’s visit falls within the framework of the minister’s field tours of various governorates to follow up the implementation of the national program to empower families and combat FGM. The ministry seeks rendering the society free from FGM by 2015. Khattab will expound during a rally at Assiut University the outcome of a study on religious scholars’ standpoint on female circumcision. The national campaign for combating FGM — sponsored by Egypt’s First Lady Mrs Suzanne Mubarak — will go on in view of a decrease in number of girls undergoing such operation. So far, residents of 65 villages, mostly in Upper Egypt, have signed “no for circumcision” documents. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Wake-Up Call: Interview With the Jerusalem Post

Italian parliamentarian Fiamma Nirenstein rails against the ‘unreasonable’ European Left and defends her counter-initiative to JCall.

By Ilan Evyatar

Fiamma Nirenstein isn’t the kind of woman to mince her words. If you ask the Italian parliamentarian, the idea of land for peace is dead and Jewish intellectuals who signed a petition pressuring Israel to make territorial concessions to the Palestinians are out of touch with reality.

Last month Nirenstein, a member of parliament in Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative coalition government, who happens to live part of the year on the other side of the Green Line, in Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood, launched “Stand for Israel, Stand for Reason”, a pan-European counter-initiative to JCall. The latter, “A European Jewish Call for Reason,” was launched earlier in the year with the backing of prominent Jewish intellectuals such as Alain Finkelkraut and Bernard-Henri Lévy to work for the “creation of a viable and sovereign Palestinian state” to “ensure the survival of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”

Nirenstein is incensed by what she sees as JCall’s placing of the onus on Israel to take the steps necessary for peace. JCall’s document, she says, “is inspired by a shortsighted view of the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict” and its signatories “do not fully understand the global physical and moral threat to which Israel is currently exposed.”

“It is this lack of sense of reality and absolute misunderstanding of history that made me think that there is a need for a movement that will be on the side of truth,” says Nirenstein in a phone interview from Rome. “Because putting all the responsibility for the peace process on Israel is completely denying historical truth”. Furthermore, Nirenstein adds, pushing Israel to make land concessions will not bring peace. “Only a cultural revolution and acceptance of Israel can make that happen,” she states.

To date, “Stand for Israel, Stand for Reason” has collected some 4,500 signatories. Nirenstein rejects the labeling of the petition as right wing. “We have people from all sides of the political spectrum,” she says. “It’s not a right-wing document; it doesn’t have a political characteristic. There are people from the Right, but also from the very Left. There are writers, military men, historians. It is not right wing to say that the Palestinians must take responsibility, and the problem is not to give and give, and that the question of land for peace is irrelevant if there is not room for Arab acceptance of the Jewish state. There are plenty of people, intellectuals and politicians, who are on the Left and who understand that.”

Nirenstein didn’t always have such pronounced views. In fact, she started out as a communist and it was only after the Six Day War that her political stance took a shift to the right. “Everybody in Italy was a communist. It was a youngster’s aspiration to freedom, to a different society, to overcoming of any injustice. If you are not communist when you are young, you are without a heart, and you are without a brain if you remain a communist when you are older.”

Her late father was a correspondent for Al Hamishmar, a now defunct left-wing Hebrew daily affiliated with the Hashomer Hatza’ir kibbutz movement, who came to Israel as a leftist Zionist in 1936 from Poland with his sisters and lost the rest of his family in the concentration camps. He joined the Jewish Brigade and came to Italy with the British army, where he met Nirenstein’s mother, who was a partisan. She is still alive and well and writes for Corriere della Sera.

Nirenstein followed in the family tradition and has written for Commentary, La Stampa and Il Giornale. The author of several books on anti-Semitism, terrorism and the Arab-Israeli conflict, she also headed the Italian Cultural Institute in Tel Aviv for two years in the mid-1990s.

Nirenstein’s anger at the JCall petition is about more than just interpretation of the tactics required to bring about a resolution with the Palestinians. JCall for her is no less than an “attempt to compel Israel to give up and surrender.”

“When is it that somebody has to give up and surrender,” she explains, “when there is no exchange between the sides? There is one request of the Palestinians: that they recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish nation — they never did it and they keep up with their attitude of denial and even with very strong incitement. I was particularly struck when they named a square after Yihye Ayyash [Hamas’s chief bomb maker, nicknamed “the engineer,” who was responsible for a string of suicide bombings that rocked Israel in the mid-1990s before being killed with a bomb planted in a cellphone], because as a journalist I saw all the buses that ‘the engineer’ blew up in Jerusalem. I cannot figure why international public opinion doesn’t cry out and say to the Palestinians, ‘How can you name a square after Yihye Ayyash?’ It’s something so terribly disgusting.

“When I relate to surrendering, it is because there is a worldwide change of strategy toward Israel that pushes it into a corner. First of all, I am talking about the Islamic fundamentalist attitude guided by Iran. Israel is surrounded and they try to terrorize it. Iran, Hizbullah with its 40,000 missiles, Syria that gave Hizbullah the missiles on behalf of Iran and the other terrorist organizations. It’s blackmail. There is an attempt to blackmail Israel that says surrender or you will be completely destroyed. This is the first step to get the surrender of the Jewish state. It’s not a territorial threat, it’s a moral threat because Israel represents the West.

“Israel with its lovely democracy is in the middle of that world. They hate us because of this. Because women dress as they like, because they work, because they do what they like, because children of both sexes learn in the same class, because there are Arabs sitting in parliament while no Arab regime would allow a Jew to sit in its parliament and because Israel has such a flourishing economy, while the Arab states never gave birth to a culture or scientific invention and Israel has all its astonishing start-ups. All of this reminds the Islamic extremists of such a cultural inferiority, and I’m speaking only of a cultural inferiority of course, in front of the Western world. After Israel surrenders, the way is open to its complete destruction.”

Nirenstein’s anger is working up to a passionate crescendo. Surely, I protest, you aren’t accusing JCall’s backers of being in league with the kind of forces you have described.

“No, absolutely not,” she replies. “What I wanted to explain is what I see as a surrender. With JCall of course it is something different. Many of them belong to a history of the Left, which for a long time has been a victorious history and is also the history of the peace movement. But if you look at the movement, it has lost its way because it does not propose viable solutions. The solutions it proposed, such as at Camp David [under Ehud Barak] and Ehud Olmert’s proposals, have lost their way because they never won. The Palestinians always rejected them and I challenge anybody to say this is not true.

“Now you have [Barack] Obama. He is a big new hope in the eyes of the European Left that has lost the elections everywhere, that has lost its cultural presence everywhere and has lost its political and moral meaning. Obama really believes, I suppose, that there can be the possibility of peace based on the surrender of Israel. This opens up to the European Left the possibility of achieving a new international space. It’s an inspiration for them and sparks hopes for them and tells them let’s try again. They feel they have such a strong leader, the United States of America on their side, so why don’t we try again to focus on the battle for peace even if the formula land for peace has been defeated by history.

“I think people like Bernard-Henri Lévy know very well that the formula has been defeated by history, but the temptation of saying that a right-wing government is in itself against peace because it is right wing is something that probably, culturally, he cannot resist.”

If land for peace is dead, what is the alternative as Nirenstein sees it?

“Land for recognition of the Jewish state, for a complete stop to incitement — and as I propose all the time, we need international sanctions against incitement. Look at the dissemination of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion all over the Arab world; this is something that must be the subject of sanctions. There must be a revision of the idea of what is primary and what is secondary in the peace process. Land is not primary.”

But while she does not buy into the land-for-peace formula and rejects what she calls “the politically correct idea that settlements are the problem,” Nirenstein is willing to give up land if — “and that is a big if,” she says — the Arab world accepts Israel as a Jewish state.

“I think that all the history of Israel is a history of settlements, of pioneering, of making the land bloom. I don’t consider the settlements a crime, I consider them the consequence of war,” Nirenstein states. “But I think that to find a peace agreement, while I repeat that we need mostly the acceptance of the Arab world, I also understand that some of the settlements must be abandoned. I think that the old agreements where blocs of settlements were conserved and there were territorial swaps was an acceptable position. At the end of the day, I think there will have to a be a renunciation of some of the settlements, but the most important blocs, where there are a concentration of Jewish people, will be kept. I respect the settlers and understand them. It’s ridiculous that the settlers have become a sort of offense.”

The point is, she continues, that any territorial compromise cannot be “for free.” “This is the main point of the story,” she says, “this is why we had to collect all of those signatures, because people are not ignorant, people are not stupid, you cannot sing always the same song even when you go out of tune, and this is what happened with JCall. They sang the same old song thinking that singing it again and again will allow them to win. No, history tells us what happened when Israel tried very hard to give away whatever was asked from the territorial point of view in order to make peace.

“But territory is not the point; the real point is the soul, and the soul of the Arab world today is always on the side of considering the Jews unwelcome and foreign guests in a place which is not theirs. Why doesn’t Obama stand up and say to the Palestinians — with the same strong voice that he uses when he asks Israel to stop construction — recognize the State of Israel as the Jewish state? This would be the real move that would change everything.”

In that context then, how does she see the efforts of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad?

“Salam Fayyad is a very interesting leader who puts more emphasis on society building, and this is certainly the key to democracy. When you have a society that builds its institutions and becomes a creative society, it has much more possibility of becoming a democratic society and therefore becoming an interlocutor. Because interlocution between a democratic society like Israel and a nondemocratic entity like the Palestinians’ is very hard. There are words that don’t have the same meaning. It’s the three Ps: Parliament doesn’t have the same meaning, police doesn’t have the same meaning and, most of all, people doesn’t have the same meaning.

“Salam Fayyad is very aware of this, but his proposal for establishing a Palestinian state unilaterally in 2011 is masochistic. On the other side you have Abu Mazen [PA President Mahmoud Abbas], and this fight between the two is very disturbing from the point of view of a real peace process. This is also something that the JCall people don’t take into consideration because to whom do you give the territory — to Fatah, to Fayyad or even to Hamas which is a very strong part of the Palestinian people? The question is very important and we cannot ignore it. The JCall document misses the most important points. It misses on the Palestinians, it misses on democracy and it misses on the Arab world.”

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

Middle East

Oil Spill: Eyes Middle East Investors on in BP

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JULY 7 — BP, the oil company that is responsible for the environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, for which the company has already spent more than 3 billion dollars and has pledged to allocate another 20 over a three-year period, may receive a financial injection from investors from Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia and Libya. Today the group’s general director, Tony Hayward, had several talks in Abu Dhabi, the location of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (Adia) which is considered to be the world’s largest sovereign fund. The Authority, when asked by AFP, did not comment on the content of the talks. A spokesman of the British group only said that BP would be glad to accept new shareholders, as well as capital increases from existing shareholders. “It is clear that the sovereign funds in the Gulf are interested in BP”, said analyst from Dubai Ibrahim Khayat, interviewed by the same press agency. “This is a real opportunity, particularly because the group’s current financial problems have no negative impact on the strategic value of its worldwide resources”. Also according to Shokri Ghanem, chairman of the Libyan national oil company, the group’s share is a good deal. The website of Gulf News today quoted Ghanem making this statement, adding that the chairman has announced his plans to recommend them to the Libyan sovereign fund. But several Saudi investors are reportedly also interested in BP, which fears a hostile takeover by the American giant Exxon. The Saudi newspaper Al Iqtissadiya reports that Saudi investors have set their eyes on 10-15% of the group’s capital. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Ankara, Mass of Fr. Antuan, First Turkish Jesuit

Faithful of all Christian denominations, Jesuit leaders from Italy and the Middle East and the papal nuncio, Mgr. Lucibello, present. He only became a Christian 13 years ago. Among his projects: bioethics and dialogue between Christians and Muslims. The memory of Father Andrea Santoro.

Ankara (AsiaNews) — An unforgettable event, yesterday, for the small, shrunken Christian community in Ankara, gathered in the church of St. Therese of Lisieux: the first Jesuit of Turkish nationality, Antuan Ilgit, celebrated his first mass in the very place where he was formed in the faith.

This is a very special community, composed of a few hundred people scattered among the six million inhabitants of this Turkish metropolis. It is a varied flock of Christians of diverse confessions, Latins, Armenians and Syrians, both Catholic and Orthodox. Yesterday they were all there together to celebrate their son with joy and emotion.

38-year-old Father Antuan is a Turkish citizen raised in Mersin, 25 km from Tarsus. In an emotional homily delivered in his native tongue, he recalled how: “Just fifteen years ago I met this community. Fresh out of college, a graduate in Economics and Administration, during military service here in Ankara, I began to attend church. And from here I left for Italy to begin my priestly journey. Ordained a priest in Rome last Saturday, after having long desired it, I am once again back among you, for my first mass”.

A solemn and reverent silence, tears of emotion and pride that glisten on the faces of some faithful. “My encounter with the Lord Jesus was the revelation of a boundless love, a love that gave me the freedom and truth I was looking for — he continued with great calm. — My first reaction was to want to share this news with others who do not know it. It was hard to contain this news just for me, hidden in a corner of my heart. And so I left for Italy to become a priest, to pass on to others all that I too had received”.

“The journey which today has led me to preside over this Eucharist — he continued — was not easy, but now, after many of life’s vicissitudes, joy and pain, it is a grace for me to be here with you and a great gift that God makes to this community. We know that things will not always be smooth, there will be crises and difficulties, but we also discover that we are not alone, that we are and will always be accompanied by Someone!”.

He was joined in the celebration by two Jesuit provincial superiors, Fr Charles Casalone of the province of Italy and Fr Victor Asuad of the province of the Middle East, the three Jesuits already in Ankara and those who had come from Italy, a friend and fellow Turk who is now a Capuchin priest in Smyrna, a close presbyterate, gathered around him in a deeply familial atmosphere. And, sealing and confirming this ecclesial event of universal significance, the participation of the Apostolic Nuncio to Turkey, Mgr. Antonio Lucibello.

At the moment of the consecration, as the Turkish Jesuit lifted the chalice in front of the faithful, kneeling, he finally was able to repeat those words, which had rocked him so deeply the first time he had heard them uttered: “Take and eat, this is my body given up for you”.

Eating, the most elementary and human of things, it is amazing that you can do with the highest and most unattainable: the turning point in his life was the discovery that Jesus is not only a prophet, God is not a distant, unreachable entity, but is close at hand, he made himself a man among men, consumed for the sake of all. Eating God, completely unthinkable for Islamic categories, yet so fascinating to a young man like him, who wanted to understand God

Thus it was that Fr Antuan, born and raised Muslim, began to question his faith and explore Christianity. He himself is keen to constantly repeat: “It was the Lord who made me take a quantum leap toward the person of Jesus. But it was not a drastic step, rather a long and patient journey. My conversion was a refinement of my faith. The Islamic part of my path is very important for me because the Lord revealed himself to me in the Islamic faith, in faith in the One God. This is how he drew close to me. I will not give up on this part of my life, Christianity is the next step, it is the culmination of the previous path which as a whole I consider to be a real gift”.

What does he hope for now? After earning his BA in Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, he did a year of studies at the Pontifical Oriental Institute and will now continue with a license in Moral Theology and bioethics at the Alphonsian Academy (PUL). “I have to complete my studies. — he confides — my thesis project on early life issues — such as abortion, contraception, assisted reproduction and use of stem cells — in Turkish Bioethics, compared with Catholic teaching has been accepted. I would like to approach my work from an anthropological and religious viewpoint. I will study the fatwa of the Presidency of Religious Affairs which is a cumbersome institution in a country that declares itself to be secular. It is the first step of the kind of dialogue that I wish to continue. “

But his heart beats above all for his people, his land, of which is extremely proud. In the first reading of the Mass yesterday, from the book of Isaiah we read: “you shall be carried in her arms, and fondled in her lap; as a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you”.

Fr. Antuan commented: “Behold, God today, with this motherly love, gives his Church a new priest for years the Lord has provided priests, first Assumptionists and now Jesuits, who, despite a thousand difficulties, with a humble heart and with sacrifices have served our church. The small community of Ankara, has a great place in God’s heart, and He once again tells you all: ‘I am with you, you are few, the problems are many, but I am with you, I will not leave you alone”.

With deep gratitude to all foreign priests who preceded him, now his greatest desire is to return permanently to his land, a shepherd for his community: “Certainly Turkey is in my heart, Ankara is in my heart. I, like you, am a son of this land. We love this land and we desire prosperity, unity, peace, fraternity. If, one day, I come back here as a priest, I will open to all of you, my beloved brethren, my heart and my arms”.

The vocation of Father Antuan is a great sign of hope, a seed that has blossomed in the land that was home to the first Christian communities and now tried by a thousand trials. No coincidence that on the small memorial card distributed at the end of the Eucharistic celebration, Fr Antuan put a sentence of Don Andrea Santoro: “I am here to live among these people and allow Jesus to do so through me”.

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

Turkey Should be Part of EU Vision, Top Businesswoman Says

Turkey’s relations with the European Union have reached a new phase and the country’s largest business association is now planning to increase its activity regarding Turkey-EU engagement, according to the chairwoman of the Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association, or TÜSIAD.

After visiting Brussels last week, Umit Boyner spoke to journalists about talks held during her two-day visit and about Turkey’s full membership process.

The EU is now discussing its 2020 vision. “Turkey should participate in the EU vision discussions as they are crucial for both Turkey’s future and for the EU membership process,” said Boyner. “In trying to be a part of the EU, vision discussions may be even more important than Turkey’s full membership,” she said. “Both the government and the business world should be more active in this period.

“To be a part of this process is also important for our country’s development process,” she said. “I believe that for Turkey this has more importance than membership.”

Boyner said TÜSIAD was unable to get sufficient information about the EU vision related to Turkey during its talks with Herman van Rompuy, the chief of the European Council.

Widening rift

“Europe is now experiencing serious economic and regulation problems,” said Boyner. “The equilibrium in Europe is now different. Germany produces much, but, on the other hand, there is Greece. It is hard for them to come to a common point. To emerge with correct decisions from this current problem is very important for the continuation of the EU vision,” Boyner said.

“The impression we got from Turkey was maintenance of the current situation,” Boyner said. “Turkey should make its technical preparations; it should put actions into effect. The important point about relations with Turkey is the continuation of the ongoing process. But, Germany and France should also develop a common point of view about relations with Turkey, as their attitudes are very important.”

TÜSIAD’s meeting with EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule was more positive, Boyner said, adding that both sides voiced their willingness to bring dynamism to bilateral relations.

“The hardest part of the membership process are the studies using public opinion, but even there we have taken some important steps,” Boyner said. “We have been receiving support from the businesspeople of Germany and France. But now they can more easily put [this support] into words,” Boyner said.

On the other hand, Turkey has some shortages in technical issues, Boyner said. “Turkey has some homework to do. It should accelerate the work related to protocols.

“How much support will be shown by non-governmental organizations to activate the process? Does the business world want to contribute to the process? We should also clarify these questions. I suppose a new phase is beginning in our relations with the EU,” Boyner said.

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

Turkey PM Consoles Hezbollah Leader Over Top Shi’ite Cleric’s Death

Arab media report that Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Hassan Nasrallah to offer condolences over Fadlallah’s death.

By Jack Khoury Tags: Israel news Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah to offer condolences over the death of Shi’ite cleric Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, Arab media outlets reported on Wednesday.

Erdogan reportedly expressed his sorrow over Fadlallah’s death to Nasrallah, the late cleric’s family and the Lebanese people.

Nasrallah responded by thanking the Turkish leader for the call and for his stance in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying “your positions have given hope to the Arab and Muslim world.”

Tens of thousands of people swarmed the coffin of Lebanon’s top Shiite cleric as it made its way through the streets of south Beirut to the mosque for burial on Tuesday.

Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, 75, died Sunday after a long illness. The cleric was one of Shi’ite Islam’s highest authorities and most revered religious figures.

Seen by some as a spiritual mentor to the Hezbollah militant movement and by others as a voice of pragmatism and religious moderation, Fadlallah enjoyed a following that stretched beyond Lebanon’s borders to Iraq, the Gulf and Central Asia.

Known for his staunch anti-American views, Fadlallah was described by Western media in the 1980s as a spiritual leader of the Lebanese militant Hezbollah — a claim both he and the group have since denied.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

UAE: Dubai Airports Will Not Use Body Scanner

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JULY 6 — Dubai will not be using full-body scanners in either of its two airports to protect passengers’ privacy, a Dubai airports’ top police official said, according to local press reports Tuesday cited by Middle East Online. Full-body scanners will not be used in Dubai airports as they “contradict Islam, and out of respect for the privacy of individuals and their personal freedom,” Al-Bayan daily quoted Brigadier Pilot Ahmad Mohammad Bin Thani, head of Dubai police’s general department of airport security, as saying. “The scanners will be replaced with other inspection systems that reserve travellers’ privacy,” it cited him as saying. “Our security measures are based on international standards and no major security changes will take place currently,” another paper, Gulf News, quoted Bin Thani as saying. However, the English-language daily said that Dubai’s airports “are considering the use of face recognition cameras to enhance security.” The United States has pushed for greater use of full-body scanners, which it said could have stopped a Nigerian man who tried to bring down a US-bound plane last Christmas Day with explosives hidden in his underwear. Several European countries have tested the technology, including Italy, France, Britain and the Netherlands. Japanese and South Korean airports have also started test programmes. The machines have remained controversial because of privacy worries, as they generate images of passengers’ entire bodies. In January, the Mufti of Tunisia, Sheikh Usman Batikh, said that body scanners are “a sacrilege and profanation in the eyes of all monotheistic religions and positivists,” according to an interview reported by weekly magazine Tunis Hebdo. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Why Some Turks Like it ‘Expat’

Deha Orhan (bottom left), Akin (bottom middle), Hazal Yilmaz (right), Ayten Görgün (top left).

The number of Turks who consciously prefer to date foreigners deserves analysis. One would expect the difference in culture would be a major obstacle to having a sentimental relationship. Yet, interviews with those who usually prefer to date foreigners show, in fact, it is sometimes cultural differences that make relationships work.

“Turkish men can never reach the standards of foreign men in chivalry and gallantry. When they exhaust their love, Turkish men will start fights for stupid reasons and expect their girlfriends to leave them. They do not show the courage of saying: ‘let’s break up, my love for you had ended.’ But a foreigner will not drag his feet. Foreigners can finish relationships politely without offending the woman’s pride,” said Zeynep Senocak.

The concept of jealousy is different with foreign men, according to Senocak, who is 32 years old. “When you dress up for a night out, foreign men won’t say, ‘you look beautiful, everyone will look at you, change your dress.’ They’d rather say, ‘My love, you are beautiful. I understand one more time why I have fallen in love with you.’ They always know how to make a woman feel special.”

When a Turkish woman meets up with her male friends, a foreigner would not ask whether one among them is a former boyfriend or not, said Senocak, who is in the textile business.

“If I feel like giving empty looks to the ceiling, Turkish men would assume I am thinking about former boyfriends. A foreign boyfriend would assume I want to be alone for a while and would share my silence,” she said.

For Hazal Yilmaz, being with a foreigner means the end of taboos. “You feel you break from your past and personality when you communicate in a foreign language you know only a little. I am not the daughter of this, the friend of that and the former lover of that. I can be arrogant, curious, crazy or calm. What I am sure of when I am next to a foreign man is my personal taboos and those of society go on holiday,” said Yilmaz, 29.

“No one can gossip about us. I feel that what we live is more genuine, more peaceful and real. There are no rules like never kiss on a first date, saying I love you is problematic or being introduced to the family means marriage,” she said.

Ayten Görgün, who has previously had foreign boyfriends, is now married to an Englishman. Foreign men like their freedom but also respect others’ freedom, said Görgün, 42.

“They know to thank and apologize. In case of a disagreement, they discuss it in a civilized manner. There are no big quarrels. And it is not the end of the world at the end of the discussion,” said Görgün.

“If I am successful they are proud of it. It is not a problem if I raise my hand to call a taxi while in the company of my boyfriend. There are no quarrels coming from arguments like ‘Why are you calling the cab when you have your boyfriend next to you?’“ she said. “There are no cliche’s about being a women or a man. Foreigners see women as individuals. They are loyal. You don’t have to be extremely beautiful. They pick you because of you and make you feel you are like nobody else.”

Pinar Ekin gets along better with foreign boyfriends despite differences of language, religion and culture. “When I compare my Turkish boyfriends with foreign boyfriends, the main difference I see is self-confidence,” said Ekin, who said if she had 10 boyfriends at least 7 were foreigners.

“Turkish men are not at peace with their manhood; be it in daily life or in bed. Foreign men, on the other hand, are curious to discover life as well as the woman they are with,” she said. “You can make jokes about them and be humorous.”

For Deha Orhan, it has not been a conscious choice to have foreign girlfriends. The owner of an underwear company, Orhan said due to his profession he frequently meets foreign women and thus having a relationship with foreign women becomes easier.

“I have been with Camilla, who is from Brazil, for the past two years. If you asked me if I’d like to be with a Turkish woman who had the same personality, I’d say yes, because Brazilian culture is definitely a different culture,” he said. “You don’t even laugh at the same things.”

In regards to jealousy, Orhan said, foreign women are no less jealous than Turkish women, but there is a difference in the approach.

“There are many beautiful women around because of my job. I photograph them in underwear. There is women’s underwear on my table all the time. A Turkish girl would not accept that. They would see women with whom I work as rivals. I can’t explain it is not the case,” he said.

“Yet a foreign women would say, ‘this is your job’ and respect it. Sometimes a Turkish girl would say the same thing. But she says silently ‘I will show him the day’ and makes plans for vengeance,” Orhan said. “Turkish girls know neither the value of their men nor the culture.”

For singer Akin, because he lives abroad most of the time, having foreign girlfriends came naturally. Yet he said he does not see a “foreigner as a foreigner.”

“I am against having just one culture. Getting familiar with other cultures widens up one’s horizons,” he said. “It is the same with relationships between men and women.”

Akin said foreign women are less jealous compared to Turkish women. “They eat less junk food and take good care of themselves. They care about their freedom and therefore give you your freedom. They are less patronizing,” said Akin, who said he had not had a Turkish girlfriend for the past 15 years and has had a Polish girlfriend for the past two years.

“Foreign women don’t react like Turks when I go out with my female friends. In reverse, I show understanding to whatever she wants to do. I, for instance, do not like extreme sports. My girlfriend will do sports with a mixed group. I won’t object to that,” he said.

Akin claimed he does not insist on having a foreign girlfriend specifically. “I guess when I meet a Turkish girl though I have the feeling that she starts the game 1-0 behind,” he said.

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

Far East

Philippines: Private Armies Getting Stronger in the Philippines

Many private armies are set up with government funds to fight crime. Now local potentates are using them to assert their own power. New Filipino President Aquino pledges to solve the problem through tighter security. He has urged the Armed Forces to show more professionalism and discipline.

Manila (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Private armies linked to local politicians continue to grow in the Philippines. According to the Independent Commission against Private Armies (ICAPA), 112 armed groups exist across the country, most of them in Mindanao, the predominantly Muslim region in the southern Philippines, where the Filipino Armed Forces and Muslim rebels have battled it out for the better part of the past 40 years.

As part of his agenda, newly-elected President Beniño Aquino wants to bring such organisations into line. Yesterday, in his first speech as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, he called on the military to show “professionalism, integrity, discipline, valour, and hard work” in working for national security. As part of this, he wants to boost the strength of the Armed Forces in order to retake control of all the regions of the country.

For ICAPA member Edilberto Adan, it is not enough to give the Armed Forces greater means. Recent studies indicate that many private militias are armed and funded by the national government.

These “volunteer groups” or “auxiliary” units are set up for legal objectives such as anti-drug campaigns or to defend local communities from Communist or Muslim insurgents and bandits, Adan said. However, “in reality, it turns out they are used for partisan activities by the local government that created them”, including criminal activity.

Even regular soldiers and police are often recruited into private armies through money or political favours. They are paid as little as US$ 58 a month to become enforcers in executions, abductions and drug-related crimes.

The Filipino government set up ICAPA on 24 March 2010 to study the phenomenon of private armies, in the wake of a massacre that occurred on 23 November 2009 in Magindanao (Mindanao) when a group of gunmen linked to the outgoing governor ambushed and killed 57 members of a rival clan.

In a recent report, ICAPA pointed to deep-rooted problems behind the private army phenomenon, such as feudal relations that drive poor people to rely on a few powerful men, not to mention poverty and a widespread culture that encourages people to settle private problems through the barrel of a gun.

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

Australia — Pacific

Father Wins Right to Stop Children Taking Part in Jewish Ceremonies

A FATHER has won the right to stop his children from taking part in Jewish coming-of-age ceremonies after a court agreed they should be able to make their own religious choices.

The mother wanted her children to participate in their bar and bat mitzvahs — ceremonies that mark the beginning of boys and girls taking responsibility for their Jewish faith.

But the father, a Catholic who irregularly attends church, wanted them to choose their own religion in a “voluntary and informed” way, once they were of sufficient age and maturity.

Advertisement: Story continues belowThe stoush played out in the Federal Magistrate’s Court in Melbourne where the separated parents, known as Mr and Mrs Macri, asked the court to determine the religious future of their three children, a 10-year-old and eight-year-old twins.

Mr Macri, 44, asked for an injunction against his children participating in the ceremonies until they were older. He did not oppose his children observing Jewish holidays and events.

The children had undergone some classes in Hebrew but the lessons had lapsed at their request. In accordance with traditional Jewish practice, the son had undergone circumcision.

Mrs Macri had enrolled the children in a religious youth group for two hours each Sunday. But Mr Macri was concerned the groups had “an element of political content” and wished for the children not to attend.

He also asked the court for an injunction, stopping Mrs Macri from committing their children to the Jewish faith through the bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies.

Jewish girls usually undertake bat mitzvah aged 12, while boys undertake bar mitzvah aged 13, to coincide with puberty.

Federal Magistrate Terry McGuire allowed the mother to take the children to the youth group but ordered her not to let her children participate in the ceremonies until they made the choice or their father agreed to it.

“Australia is a multicultural and secular society,” Mr McGuire said. “These children are fortunate in that they have the opportunity to directly experience the culture and traditions of the religions practised by each of their parents.”

Mr Macri had not pitted one religion against the other but had wanted his children to participate in the culture and traditions of both religions without committing to either at this stage, Mr McGuire said. In contrast, Mrs Macri wanted to commit the children to Judaism immediately.

Mr McGuire said there was no evidence that deferring the decision would later stop the children choosing to enter the Jewish religion.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Melanie Phillips: Jihadist Group a Threat to Us All

WHATEVER its protestations, Hizb ut-Tahrir actively promotes terror and violence, says Melanie Phillips.

HIZB ut-Tahrir , which held its controversial rally in Sydney on Sunday, is not just yet another radical Islamist group.

It is one of the most manipulative and effective recruitment fronts for the Islamic jihad, particularly among the educated Muslim young.

It is precisely because its spokesmen do not appear to be wild-eyed fanatics but are usually highly intelligent and even intellectual that it is so appealing and therefore so dangerous.

But because it takes such care to conceal its links to terror, governments in Australia and Britain, where it has managed to establish a significant and highly troubling presence, find it difficult to deal with it.

Liberal societies are reluctant to ban any organisation unless it can be proved to be connected to terrorism or violence. Since neither Australia nor Britain says it has found any such links, they allow HT to continue to operate while monitoring its activities. Hence Sunday’s meeting in Sydney.

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But HT members in other countries have been involved in terrorism, and whatever its protestations to the contrary, the organisation actively promotes and encourages violence.

And since it regards itself as a global movement that does not recognise national boundaries, the comforting fiction that it presents no threat to Australia is particularly otiose.

In Russia, HT has been banned since 2003, when the leaders of its Moscow cell were arrested in possession of plastic explosives, grenades, TNT and detonators. In August 2005, nine members of HT in Russia were convicted of illegal possession of weapons and incitement to racial and religious hatred.

In August 2002, HT in Denmark reportedly offered the equivalent of pound stg. 25,000 to anyone who killed a prominent Danish Jew, producing a hit list of between 15 and 25 leading members of Denmark’s Jewish community. The leader of HT in Denmark, Fadi Ahmad Abdel Latif, was convicted of incitement to racial hatred for distributing a leaflet urging people to “kill them, kill the Jews wherever you find them”.

And last year HT was banned in Bangladesh after the government said it feared the organisation posed “a threat to peaceful life”.

Not only does HT explicitly promote violence in Israel, Afghanistan and Iraq, but it calls on Muslims everywhere to engage in violent jihad.

HT is dedicated to the creation of a single Islamic state, or caliphate, that “will reach the whole world and the rule of the Muslims will reach as far as the day and night”. It believes there is a timeless conflict that governs relations between Muslims and “unbelievers”, a conflict it encourages.

On the Harry’s Place website recently, “Raziq”, a former HT member, wrote that HT’s efforts in Britain are primarily aimed at disrupting the civic and political integration of British Muslims: “They want Muslims to disown citizenship in their hearts, to reject government and all democratic institutions in their minds . . . and to encourage them to work semi-secretly for the return of a lost empire across a massive land base.”

HT makes clear in its literature that peaceful means are not enough to win this conflict and that Muslims are allowed to launch aggressive wars against non-Muslims. Its publications say Islamic religious texts all command Muslims to initiate fighting against disbelievers, “even if they do not initiate [it] against us”.

It even justifies the killing of Muslims who do not want to live by these rules. “He who does not rule by Islam and rules by a kufr [non-Muslim] system should either retract or be killed.”

It also calls on Muslims to fight Jews everywhere, and engages in vicious anti-Jew invective. Last month, HT in Bangladesh issued a press release to advertise a demonstration about the Gaza flotilla which said: “O Muslim armies! Teach the Jews a lesson after which they will need no further lessons. March forth to fight them, eradicate their entity and purify the earth of their filth.”

Its invective radicalises Muslims everywhere to the cause of extremism and jihadi violence.

In Britain, it has had a particularly seismic effect on campus, where its combination of intellectualism, save-the-world idealism and secret-society comradeship has proved devastatingly effective in recruiting even highly westernised students to the jihad.

Britain’s National Union of Students has twice banned HT — in 1994-95 and again in 2004 — holding it “responsible for supporting terrorism and publishing material that incites racial hatred”.

The result has been merely that HT has repeatedly changed its name to continue to spread its message on campus. But the students union’s attempt to stop HT has not been echoed by the British government, although the new Prime Minister, David Cameron, promised in opposition to ban it.

Not only has the government refused until now to proscribe it, but it sometimes inadvertently even channelled public funds to it through front organisations.

And it has taken no legal action against it, despite calls by British Jewish leaders for HT to be prosecuted after it repeatedly called on its website for the killing of Jews and the annihilation of Israel.

Several former HT members in Britain have testified to the extraordinary effectiveness of HT’s manipulative mind games on impressionable Muslim youths, and have been in the forefront of arguing that the British government’s refusal to ban it has been a disaster.

Shiraz Maher, who left HT after the London tube and bus bombings in 2005, says there is a real danger in allowing the group to operate freely, as its words may have inspired terrorist activity. One of Britain’s first suicide bombers, Omar Sharif, was partially radicalised by HT activists at King’s College, London.

Maher also notes that HT targets Britain’s many foreign Muslim students in order to project the party’s message back into the Muslim world, where it is severely curbed by local governments.

That’s why public meetings such as the one in Sydney are so important to HT, not just to radicalise Australian Muslims but to boost the organisation’s ability to recruit to the cause in countries that have banned it because they are only too well aware of the lethal threat it poses.

Democratic countries such as Britain and Australia are rightly very reluctant to clamp down on political expression. But the decision that nothing can be done to ban HT’s “conveyor belt to terror” is disastrously naive.

           — Hat tip: Anne-Kit[Return to headlines]

Muslims Told to Shun Democracy

LEADERS of the global Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir have called on Australian Muslims to join the struggle for a transnational Islamic state.

British Hizb ut-Tahrir leader Burhan Hanif told participants at a conference in western Sydney yesterday that democracy is “haram” (forbidden) for Muslims, whose political engagement should be be based purely on Islamic law. “We must adhere to Islam and Islam alone,” Mr Hanif told about 500 participants attending the convention in Lidcombe.

“We should not be conned or succumb to the disingenuous and flawed narrative that the only way to engage politically is through the secular democratic process. It is prohibited and haram.”

He said democracy was incompatible with Islam because the Koran insisted Allah was the sole lawmaker, and Muslim political involvement could not be based on “secular and erroneous concepts such as democracy and freedom”.

His view was echoed by an Australian HT official, Wassim Dourehi, who told the conference Muslims should not support “any kafir (non-believer) political party”, because humans have no right to make laws. Mr Dourehi also urged Muslims to spurn the concept of moderate Islam promoted by governments in the West, including in “this godforsaken country” of Australia.

“We need to reject this new secular version of Islam,” he said. “It is a perverted concoction of Western governments. It is a perversion that seeks to wipe away the political aspects of Islam and localise our concerns. We must reject it and challenge the proponents of this aberration of Islam.”

The conference, which followed the theme “The struggle for Islam in the West”, was the first major event held by the Australian branch of HT since a seminar in 2007 which coincided with calls for the group to be banned. HT is outlawed in much of the Middle East but operates legally in more than 40 countries, campaigning for the establishment of a caliphate (Islamic state) modelled on the empire founded by the Prophet Mohammed in the 7th century.

HT’s platform rejects the use of violence in its quest for an Islamic state, but supports the military destruction of Israel, which it regards as illegitimate, and endorses militant campaigns against foreign troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The federal government considered banning HT in 2007, but then attorney-general Philip Ruddock told parliament ASIO had advised him such a ban was not justified as the group did not support terrorism.

Another British HT member, Salim Atchia, told the conference the West was attempting to “beat the Muslims into submission” through intimidation and demonisation and by falsely portraying the aspiration for an Islamic state as dangerous and backward. Mr Dourehi said Muslims in the West must be at the vanguard of the push for a caliphate, which would govern all Muslim majority countries and lands that were previously under Islamic rule, such as Spain and The Philippines.

A female HT delegate, Reem Allouche, said Australian women should be at the forefront of the struggle by insisting on their right to wear the head-to-toe covering known as the niqab, in the face of legislation proposed by NSW Christian Democratic MP Fred Nile to ban it.

“This is not an issue about the niqab or hijab. This is a struggle between two ways of life, two competing ideologies, two civilisations. It’s about (the West) controlling Islam through reform and thereby controlling the Muslims,” Ms Allouche said.

A non-Muslim attendant at the conference, Ervin Zurell, provoked mild consternation among the audience when he asked why Muslims don’t “go back to the country you came from”.

Mr Zurell said afterwards that he found the conference “unbelievable” and “frightening”.

           — Hat tip: Anne-Kit[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Somalia: Islamic Militant Group Fighting Kills at Least 8

Mogadishu, 6 July (AKI) — At least eight people died in Mogadishu Tuesday during fighting between rival Somali Islamic militant groups. The violence occured one day after the country’s transitional president pleaded for foreign troops to prevent Somalia’s total defeat by Al-Qaeda.

According to local website Mareeg, fighting started when Al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab insurgents opened fire on a meeting of the Islamic Party, killing six people.

Fighting between Islamic groups and the Somali government has killed thousands of people and caused hundreds of thousands to flee.

Insurgents have been harassing government forces in northeastern districts lately to seize positions from which they can target bases of the African Union mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and disrupt their supplies by striking the seaport.

Heads of state from the regional body IGAD (Inter-Governmental Authority on Development) held an extraordinary meeting in Addis Ababa Monday and pledged to send 2,000 more troops to beef up AMISOM.

Since it was first deployed in 2007, the African force never reached its intended strength of 8,100 with only Uganda and Burundi contributing troops.

During the meeting, Somalia’s transitional president Ahmad Sharif pleaded for more troops warning that his country faces a future at hands of Al-Qaeda.

“Right now, the destiny of Somalia is in the hands of A-Qaeda and a group of fundamentalists,” Sharif said.

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


Ellmers to Etheridge: Defund Obama’s Lawsuit

With illegal aliens and drug gangs crossing the Mexican border into Arizona at will, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer asked Washington for help. Then, after being ignored by the federal government, Arizona tried to deal with its problems by passing a state law that mimics the federal immigration laws (that the Obama Administration was not enforcing). President Obama’s response? He’s got Attorney General Eric Holder suing Arizona — to stop the new law.

How whacky can Washington politics get? Arizona passes a law to stop illegal immigrants and President Obama sues Arizona — for trying to do what the Obama administration failed to do.

Here’s a suggestion (and a challenge) to my opponent, Congressman Bob Etheridge. The Constitution gives Congress the power of the purse — so, I call on Congressman Etheridge to amend the Justice Department’s Appropriation Bill to deny funding for the Department to sue Arizona. That would stop Obama’s lawsuit dead in its tracks.

Congressman Etheridge has supported amnesty and Social Security benefits for illegal aliens. My question for him now is simple: Do you support President Obama suing Arizona, too?

[Return to headlines]

Greece: Samaras, ‘No to Citizenship Law’

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, 7 JULY — New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras confirmed his intention if he wins the next election to abolish the law passed by the current party in power PASOK, which allows for citizenship to be granted to immigrants. “We need,” said Samaras during a party rally, “to change this law and we would do this when our party is in power again.” “The children of legal immigrants born in Greece,” he added, will obtain the right for citizenship when they reach an adult age. But to exercise this right, they should first choose between Greek citizenship and citizenship in the country of origin of their parents. Secondly, it will be necessary to complete nine years of required education, like all Greeks. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Sweden Tops EU in Citizenship Approval Rate

Sweden is the most generous country in the EU when it comes to approving citizenship applications, according to a new report from Eurostat, the statistical office of the EU, on Tuesday.

A total of 30,460 people acquired Swedish citizenship in 2008, a drop from 33,630 in 2007. However, the country had the highest rate of citizenship approvals among all EU countries in 2008, at 54 citizenships granted per 1,000 resident foreigners, followed closely by Portugal at 51, Poland at 48, Finland at 47 and Hungary at 43.

Sweden also topped the list in 2008 when comparing the rate of citizenship acquisition against the total population of each member state, with 3.3 citizenships per 1,000 inhabitants, ahead of Luxembourg at 2.5 and France, Portugal and the UK at 2.1 each.

In 2008, 695,880 persons acquired citizenship of an EU state, compared with 707,110 in 2007. The new citizens in 2008 came mainly from Africa (29 percent of the total number of citizenships acquired), non-EU Europe (22 percent), Asia(19 percent) and North and South America (17 percent).

EU citizens who acquired citizenship in another EU country accounted for eight percent of the total. In 2008, the highest number of citizenships were granted by France (137,000), the UK (129,000) and Germany (94,000), which together accounted for over 50 percent of all citizenships granted in the EU.

The lowest rate of citizenship approval in the EU in 2008 belonged to the Czech Republic at 3 per 1,000 resident foreigners and Ireland and Luxembourg, both at 6. The EU average in 2008 stood at 23 per 1,000 resident foreigners.

Ten member states granted less than one citizenship per 1,000 in 2008, with Poland registering the lowest rate, followed by the Czech Republic, Lithuania andSlovakia. The EU average was 1.4 citizenships granted per 1,000 inhabitants.

In 2008, the largest groups that acquired EU citizenship were citizens ofMorocco (64,000 persons), Turkey (50,000), Ecuador (27,000), Algeria (23,000) and Iraq (20,000).

France granted 45 percent of all the citizenships acquired in the EU byMoroccans and 88 percent of those acquired by Algerians, Germany 49 percent of those acquired by Turks, Spain 93 percent of those acquired by Ecuadoriansand the UK 44 percent of those acquired by Iraqis.

In some member states, a large part of the citizenships was granted to citizens from only one country. The member states with the highest concentrations wereRomania (89 percent of new citizens came from Moldova), Hungary (68 percent from Romania), Greece (59 percent from Albania) and Bulgaria (51 percent fromMacedonia).

In Latvia and Estonia, 96 percent and 92 percent respectively of the new citizens were recognised non-citizens. The majority were citizens of the former Soviet Union.

A recognised non-citizen is a person who is neither a citizen of the reporting country nor of any other country and who has established links to the reporting country which include some but not all rights and obligations of full citizenship.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]