Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20100909

Financial Crisis
»India Says No to Islamic Banking
»Imam: Handling of Islamic Center Plan a Matter of National Security
»LA Police Quell 2nd Protest Over Fatal Shooting
»Report on Flu Fatalities: A Shocking Fabrication
»Special Report: The Founding Fathers’ First Amendment
»Toyota Courts Latinos With Free Hispanic Pride Stickers
»US Pastor Terry Jones Cancels Koran Burning
Europe and the EU
»Imam Denounces Threats of Islamification of France
»Italy: Northern League Leader Wants Snap Elections
»Italy: Berlusconi Rival Refuses to Resign
»Netherlands: Police ‘Spy’ Gets Community Service
»Spain: Former Military Fortress Used for Ramadan Prayer
»Spain: 1 in 3 Spaniards Admit Being Anti-Semitic
»UK: ‘Shameless’ Generation Grows as Seven Million Now Live in Households Where No One Works
»UK: Race Watch on All Playground Fights: Schools Warned After Horror Attack on White Boy
»UN Says Danish Party Made Racist Remarks
North Africa
»Egypt: My Battle for Girls, Minister Mouchira Khattab
»Ramadan: More Arrests in Algeria Over Fasting
»Tunisia: US Close Arabic Field School in Sidi Bou Said
Israel and the Palestinians
»Gaza: Lorry Driver Lina Takes on Social Taboo
Middle East
»Bahrain: Election Approaches Amid Strong Tensions
»Iran: No Place for Democracy and Human Rights in Islam, Says Qom Theologian
»Iraq: Al-Qaeda Demands ‘Protection Money’ From Northern Shopkeepers
»New Stakelbeck on Terror Show, Featuring Former Bin Laden Associate
»Saudi Arabia: Sudden Closure of TV Alusrah, President Protests
»Suicide Bomber Kills 16 in Busy Russian Market
South Asia
»Pakistani: Uzbek Warlords Killed by Drones
»Pakistan: Christian Woman, Mother of Two, Abducted and Forced Into Slavery Because of Debt
»Pakistani Cricket Hit by More Scandals as Players Accumulate Properties
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Prison Break: Violent Muslim Sect Frees 750 Prisoners From Nigerian Jail Sparking Fears of Direct Assault on Government
Latin America
»Belize Mob Torches Americans’ Animal Sanctuary, But Their Will Endures
»Netherlands: Information on Benefit Payments at Hairdressers
»Roma Expulsion: European Double Standards
»Security: Italian Coast Guard Monitors the Mediterranean
»UK: £100 Million Spent on Asylum Deportation Flights
»‘Well-Meaning Swedes Treat Migrants Like Pets’
Culture Wars
»U.S. District Judge Strikes Down Military Ban on Gays

Financial Crisis

India Says No to Islamic Banking

The Union Government today informed the Kerala High Court that it was not legally feasible for banks in India or its branches abroad to undertake Islamic banking activities.

In a counter affidavit, M M Dawla, Under Secretary in the ministry of Finance informed the court that this had been the stand of the Union Government even while giving replies to questions in Parliament as well as in response to various VIP correspondence on the subject.

The counter was filed on a petition by R V Babu of Hindu Aikya Vedi against an Islamic banks proposal .

Earlier, Janata Party leader, Subramaniam Swamy, had also filed a PIL against the establishment of the financial institution to be run on the model of Islamic banks with the support of Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC).

The stand of the government is that Non Banking Financial Companies (NBFC) should should basically commence or carry on the activities in accordance with provisions of RBI and directions issued there under.

           — Hat tip: Henrik[Return to headlines]


Imam: Handling of Islamic Center Plan a Matter of National Security

(CNN) — The religious leader behind plans to build an Islamic center and mosque a few blocks from New York’s ground zero said Wednesday night that America’s national security depends on how it handles the controversy.

“If we move from that location, the story will be the radicals have taken over the discourse,” Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf told CNN’s Soledad O’Brien on “Larry King Live.”

“The headlines in the Muslim world will be that Islam is under attack.”

But some critics decried his assessment.

“The whole national security thing: that’s a veiled threat,” Andy Sullivan, a union construction worker who wants all New York construction workers to boycott the proposed Islamic center, said on CNN’s “AC 360” Wednesday night. “He’s saying ‘you make me move’ and, guess what, the whole radical Muslim world is coming after us.”

“This is a turf war,” Sullivan said.

The imam, who repeatedly said his mission was to promote peace and build a bridge among faiths, said he was also speaking about “radicals” on both sides of the debate on the Islamic center. “Our national security now hinges on how we negotiate this, how we speak about it.”

“The battlefront is between moderates of all sides … and the radicals on all sides,” he said.

Moving the project to another location would strengthen Islamist radicals’ ability to recruit followers and will likely increase violence against Americans, the imam said.

But Rosaleen Tallon, whose firefighter brother died on 9/11, finds that notion ironic.

“On 9/11, it didn’t take a mosque for extremists to come and attack the World Trade Center and kill my brother,” Tallon said on “AC 360.” “What I’m finding here to be very disturbing is that now … this mosque has to go up or there will be retribution.”

Rauf said that “nothing is off the table” when asked whether he would consider moving the site.

“We are consulting, talking to various people about how to do this so that we negotiate the best and safest option.”

The imam told O’Brien “had I known [the controversy] would happen we certainly would never have done this.”

Asked if he meant he would not have picked the location, Rauf said, “we would not have done something that would create more divisiveness.”

Worry over what some observers have termed “Islamophobia” has been heightened by a Gainesville, Florida, church’s plan to burn copies of the Quran on Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

Rauf said he hopes the church reconsiders. “It is something that is not the right thing to do.”

“With freedom comes responsibility,” he said. “This is dangerous to our national security and is also the un-Christian thing to do. …. Jesus said to love your enemy. We are not your enemy.”

Responding to a poll showing 71 percent of New Yorkers oppose the center’s location, Rauf he was going on television to explain his background and vision.

“I want to show them my face. Show them my track record.”

The imam spoke of “a vision I’ve had for almost 15 years … to establish a space that embodies the fundamental beliefs that we have as Jews, Christians and Muslims, which is to love our God and to love our neighbor — to build a space where we have a culture of worship.”

Rauf said he would continue speaking with families of those killed in the September 11, 2001, attacks. “You cannot heal a trauma by walking away from it,” he said.

Opposition goes against “the fundamental American principle of separation of church and state,” said Rauf, adding he has been surprised by the controversy.

The project, known as Park51, is slated to include a variety of facilities, including a prayer room, a performing arts center, gym, swimming pool and other public spaces. It is planned for a site two blocks from the World Trade Center.

A source familiar with Park51 told CNN’s Allan Chernoff last week that the structure is being planned as an 11-story building. It will cover 120,000 square feet — 10,000 feet of which would be designated for the Muslim prayer space. The developer is considering the possibility of an interfaith education/meditation/prayer space as well, the source said.

Opponents of the plan to build the center say it is too close to the site of the terror attacks and is an affront to the memory of those who died in the al Qaeda strike. Backers cite, among other things, First Amendment rights and the need to express religious tolerance.

Those who know Rauf describe him as a thoughtful man, a bridge builder who seeks to unite all faiths but who won’t parse words when he sees religion used for nefarious ends.

But he has landed in controversy before.

He has chided the U.S. for killing civilians in Baghdad. He said in 2005 that the U.S. had more Muslim blood on its hands than “al Qaeda has on its hands of innocent non-Muslims.”

He has also refused to accept Western governments’ designation of Hamas as a terrorist group. Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, he told CBS’ “60 Minutes” that “United States policies were an accessory to the crime.”

Earlier this week, Rauf wrote a commentary published online by The New York Times.

“I have been struck by how the controversy has riveted the attention of Americans, as well as nearly everyone I met in my travels,” Rauf wrote.

“We have all been awed by how inflamed and emotional the issue of the proposed community center has become,” wrote Rauf, who had just returned from a State Department-sponsored Middle East trip to promote U.S.-Muslim relations.

“The level of attention reflects the degree to which people care about the very American values under debate: recognition of the rights of others, tolerance and freedom of worship.”


           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

LA Police Quell 2nd Protest Over Fatal Shooting

LOS ANGELES — Demonstrators pelted police for a second night in a poor immigrant neighborhood following the fatal shooting of a Guatemalan day laborer who allegedly threatened people with a knife and then turned the weapon on a responding officer.

Officers fired at least two rounds of foam projectiles at demonstrators Tuesday night and 22 people were arrested, mainly for failure to disperse and unlawful assembly, Officer Karen Rayner said.

The disturbance erupted despite police Chief Charlie Beck’s pledge to conduct a full investigation into the Sunday afternoon shooting of Manuel Jamines, 37, in the Westlake district near MacArthur Park, a neighborhood packed with recent immigrants from Central America.

An estimated 300 protesters who gathered outside the local police station hurled eggs, rocks and bottles and set a trash bin on fire. Others dropped household items from apartment buildings.

“People were throwing televisions, air conditioning units, miscellaneous furniture and other objects from the windows,” Lt. Cory Palka said.

At least one officer and a Univision reporter were slightly injured by thrown or slingshot-propelled objects, police told City News Service. A man who fell off his bicycle suffered a head injury.

In Monday night’s violence, three officers were slightly injured by thrown objects and four people were arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor inciting a riot, Officer Bruce Borihanh said. Police said most of Monday’s trouble involved a group handing out revolutionary fliers.

In the wake of the protests, authorities scheduled a community meeting for Wednesday evening at a school.

Beck said the Jamines shooting occurred after someone flagged down three bicycle officers to tell them a man was threatening people with a knife.

The officers approached the suspect and told him in Spanish and English to put down the weapon. Instead, Jamines raised the knife above his head and lunged at Officer Frank Hernandez, a 13-year veteran of the department, Beck said.

Eyewitness accounts from six civilians, nine police personnel and two fire department staff indicate Hernandez fired twice “in immediate defense of life,” Beck said. Jamines died at the scene.

Investigators recovered a bloody, 6-inch knife at the scene but didn’t know where the blood came from.

“This was a very brief moment in time, just 40 seconds between first contact and the time of the shooting,” Beck said.

Beck said the timeline was based on preliminary interviews. He said the department’s Force Investigation Division will conduct a thorough, transparent probe.

The three officers involved in the shooting have been temporarily reassigned.

Jamines had a wife and three children — ages 13, 6 and 8 — in his hometown of Mazatenango, Guatemala, according to his cousin Juan Jaminez, 38. He came to the United States six years ago to find work and spent most of his time looking for jobs in a Home Depot parking lot near his home.

Jamines was drunk but not dangerous, his cousin and neighbors said.

“Killing a drunk isn’t right,” said Juan Jaminez, also a day laborer. He and others described Jamines as a friendly, hardworking man who liked to drink on the weekends but wasn’t violent.

“The officer who did this should be subject to discipline and a thorough investigation,” said Juan Flores, 39, a restaurant cook who knew Jamines.

Flores said the officers should have used a non-lethal weapon.

Beck said the officer involved in the shooting didn’t have a baton or stun gun. He said bicycle officers frequently do not carry the selection of non-lethal weapons found in patrol cars.

Juana Neri, 57, a Mexican immigrant housewife who lives nearby, pushed her grocery bag in a baby stroller past the corner where Jamines was killed.

“It’s bad, what the police did, but what’s worse is the silly stuff that people were doing here,” she said, referring to Monday’s violence. “We are not in our country, and with the problems that Hispanic immigrants have these days, it’s better not to cause problems.”

MacArthur Park was the site of a May 1, 2007, clash in which police pummeled immigration rights marchers and reporters with batons and shot rubber bullets into the crowd. Police cited significant command failures in the response to a confrontation with a group of “agitators” that triggered the sweep through the park, and a deputy chief at the scene quickly resigned after being demoted.

The area also has a significant gang violence problem. In September 2007, an infant in a stroller was slain and a vendor was wounded when gang members opened fire on the street merchant because he refused to pay a weekly tax to the gang.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Report on Flu Fatalities: A Shocking Fabrication

We have been telling you recently about phony data from the government. Here is another egregious example—and no one in the major media seems to know or care.

For years, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has been citing an annual estimate of 36,000 deaths from flu. That figure has been used to justify mandatory flu vaccination for children and has been parroted the world over by news organizations that never question its validity. Last week the CDC released new figures: rather than 36,000, the three-decade average is actually 23,607 deaths, a full one-third fewer people than previously cited.

But even these new figures are actually fabricated and false. The CDC has always used a mathematical estimate based on an assumption that if a death certificate had “respiratory or circulatory disease” listed as a cause of death, then it should be counted as a “flu-related” death! The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons has been highly critical of the CDC’s methodology.

[Return to headlines]

Special Report: The Founding Fathers’ First Amendment

By George Neumayr

The same foolish and false interpretation of the First Amendment that protects a project like the Ground Zero mosque also protects the planned burning of the Koran.

“In a strange way I’m here to defend his right to do that,” said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Tuesday, referring to Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who intends to burn copies of the Koran on September 11. “I happen to think that it is distasteful. I don’t think he would like it if somebody burnt a book that in his religion he thinks is holy. But the First Amendment protects everybody, and you can’t say that we’re going to apply the First Amendment to only those cases where we are in agreement.”

Such pitiful reliance upon mindless cliché and bogus First Amendment jurisprudence renders public officials useless in the face of dangerous stupidity. The truth is that the First Amendment protects neither the Ground Zero mosque nor Jones’s burning of copies of the Koran. How do we know this? Because under the real First Amendment, the one written by the Founding Fathers, local communities within states were perfectly free to pass laws prohibiting the construction of particular religious buildings or pass laws that banned book burnings.

Six of the thirteen states that signed the Constitution ran established churches. It is a historical fact that the First Amendment was written not to suppress those state churches but to protect them. Those six states would have never signed the Constitution otherwise. They insisted on the language, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” to make clear that the federal government had no right to establish its own religion and disestablish theirs. The wall of separation in the Constitution is not between government and religion but between the federal government and the states’ religious activities.

The notion that the First Amendment requires individual states to treat all religious believers equally was invented out of thin air by judicial activists. For decades after the Constitution was written, several states baldly preferred one religion over another. As author M. Stanton Evans has written, “there remained a network of religious requirements for public office — typically, that one be a professing Christian of orthodox persuasion. Such requirements existed in New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Georgia and the Carolinas. For example, the state of Vermont, one of the more liberal states of the era (admitted to the Union in 1791) required the following oath of office: ‘I do believe in one God, the Creator and Governor of the Universe, the rewarder of the good and the punisher of the wicked. And I do acknowledge the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be given by divine inspiration and own and profess the Protestant religion.’“

The rejection of the real Constitution for the phony “living” one explains today’s tyranny of the minority. That tyranny has assumed ironically divergent forms in recent days. In New York City, a majority stands aghast as a group of Muslims tries to build a mosque within blocks of the World Trade Center ruins. In Florida, the majority stands appalled but idle before the pastor of a tiny church who launches an “International Burn-a-Koran Day.” Both incidents are, in varying degrees, acts of gross and pointless incivility that do not truly enjoy constitutional protections, but all public officials can mumble in the face of them is the cliché du jour that Americans have a “right to be wrong.”

The planned burning of copies of the Koran is a gratuitously stupid and ugly act, one which will mirror radical Islam’s violence not illuminate it. But it is also dumb for the U.S. government to elevate the aberrant event’s significance. Why are Hillary Clinton and company even talking about it? Jones is the pastor of a church with 50 members. He should be ignored. Instead, the Obama administration and the media, both desperately looking around for evidence of “Islamophobia,” continue to build him up, thereby prolonging an Islamic outcry that will endanger U.S. troops.

           — Hat tip: DS[Return to headlines]

Toyota Courts Latinos With Free Hispanic Pride Stickers

RRANCE, Calif. — Toyota Motor Corp., hoping to solidify its standing as the top brand for Hispanic buyers in the U.S., is offering drivers a series of stickers that celebrates their Hispanic heritage.

The decals contain the phrase “somos muchos,” or “we are many,” followed by cultures, regions and popular descriptors from all over Latin America, such as “somos muchos Mexicanos” and “somos muchos Hondurenos.” The decals, designed to be stuck on bumpers or windows, come in more than 100 different versions and are available in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

Toyota is offering the stickers free on the Spanish-language version of its Facebook page. It’s also distributing them at upcoming festivals in Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Miami, New York and Chicago.

Toyota is the top brand among Hispanic buyers in the U.S., according to vehicle registration data gathered by R.L. Polk and Associates. The automaker says it has held that title since 2004.

In a recent speech to the National Council of La Raza, Toyota President Yoshi Inaba said one of every four Hispanic car buyers in the U.S. bought a Toyota last year.



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           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

US Pastor Terry Jones Cancels Koran Burning

The pastor of a small US church who planned to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of 9/11 has cancelled his protest.

Terry Jones said he was calling off the event after the group behind a planned Islamic centre near Ground Zero in New York agreed to relocate it.

But the cultural centre’s organisers said they had no plans to move it.

Mr Jones’ plan had been internationally condemned and had already sparked many protests around the world.

Mr Jones, pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, which has fewer than 50 members, had named Saturday International Burn a Koran Day.

But at a news conference, he said he would now travel to New York on Saturday to meet those behind the Islamic centre and discuss its relocation.

President Barack Obama had earlier warned Mr Jones the burning would be “a recruitment bonanza” for al-Qaeda.

The US State Department had warned US citizens of an increased risk of attack, while international police organisation Interpol also issued a warning of the risk of violent response.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Imam Denounces Threats of Islamification of France

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, SEPTEMBER 8 — An advocate for an Islam that respects the values of France known for his position against the full veil, the imam of the Mosque of Drancy (near Paris), Hassen Chalghoumi, published a book caustic book, “Pour l’Islam de France”, in which he criticises threats of Islamification, which in his view are looming over the country where he has lived since 1996. In bookstores tomorrow, the night before the end of Ramadan, the pamphlet, reports Le Parisien today, fiercely attacks the burqa, as well as forced marriages, female genital mutilations, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Union of Islamic Organisations of France (UOIF). His heavy criticism is destined to provoke violent reactions: it’s no coincidence that the 37-year-old Tunisian imam is always surrounded by bodyguards after months of hostile demonstrations following his statements about the full veil that led to the closure for several days of the mosque in Seine-Saint-Denis department, which has a high population of Muslim immigrants. Now he has said enough to the constant postponements to the publication of the book. “It is urgent to take a stance, I want Islam to find its place in France, because I see anti-Muslim racism mounting on the one hand, and Muslim radicalisation on the other hand,” he said to Le Parisien. He has also been fighting to bring the Jewish community closer, he has accused the Muslim Brotherhood and UOIF of trying to alter French Islam through a war over control of French mosques, and he underlined that “it was Tariq Ramadan (the controversial theologian) who caused a build-up of racism in Switzerland, which led to the vote against minarets”.

Fear about the consequences of the book? No, he does not fear for himself, but for his children, “for their future in France”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Northern League Leader Wants Snap Elections

Bossi mulling not voting in govt confidence vote

(ANSA) — Rome, September 8 — Northern League leader Umberto Bossi suggested Wednesday that his party might vote against a confidence vote called by government ally Premier Silvio Berlusconi in a bid to force snap elections.

Bossi was speaking to reporters shortly after an announcement that Berlusconi would address parliament at the end of the month to seek a confidence vote following a crisis sparked by his split with his People of Freedom (PdL) party co-founder, House Speaker Gianfranco Fini.

Fabrizio Cicchitto, House Whip for the PdL party, told reporters Berlusconi would address parliament at the end of the September on the situation after Fini’s ouster from the PdL in July.

“The only way out is holding elections,” said Bossi, who hinted that the League was mulling the idea of not voting for a five-point government programme which Cicchitto said the premier will outline to parliament.

Bossi pooh-poohed the idea that it is President Giorgio Napolitano’s prerogative to decide whether elections should be held or not.

The Northern League is tipped by pollsters to make the biggest gains if early elections are held and some commentators say that Bossi has been stepping up pressure on Berlusconi, whose party is seen as losing MPs in the Senate in possible new elections, to cave in to his demands. Napolitano has made clear that he is under a constitutional obligation to see if an alternative government can be formed. He had also warned of the danger that a political crisis would have on the struggling economy. But the volatile Northern League leader ruled out the idea that Napolitano would urge parties to back a so-called technical government in a bid to call the country to its third general elections in the last six years. “They won’t be able to form a technical government against me and Berlusconi. We have millions of people on our side,” he told reporters at the House.

“They don’t have the courage to form a technical government against the country’s wishes”.

“The only way out is holding elections,” said Bossi, who thundered that he and Berlusconi were ready to “bring ten million protesters to Rome” if Napolitano decides against early elections.

Fini, who has set up his own Future and Freedom (FLI) groups in the House and Senate, told supporters on Sunday and again on Tuesday he would continue to support the government but now expects to have a say in its agenda, exactly like Bossi.

Cicchitto said the House — where FLI’s 34 MPs can bring the government down — would be asked to vote on a resolution centering on a five-point programme of measures including tax and justice reforms.

According to the media, Berlusconi has not made much headway in bids to woo away some of FLI’s MPs and in overtures to the centrist UDC opposition party to support the government in a move to ensure its survival.

Meanwhile, FLI Whip Italo Bocchino said Berlusconi’s speech to the House would provide “a splendid occasion” for the rebels to show they would keep their word to back the government.

Interviewed on television on Tuesday night, Fini said that holding early elections would be “irresponsible”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi Rival Refuses to Resign

Rome, 8 Sept. (AKI) — Gianfranco Fini hit back at former political ally Silvio Berlusconi by brushing aside the Italian premier’s insistence that he resign as speaker of the lower house of parliament. In a TV interview, Fini said he intended to stay in the job until his mandate expired and said snap elections would be “irresponsible”.

“For the timebeing I will be speaker of the lower house for the entire legislature,” Fini said in an interview late Tuesday on Italian channel La7.

“Fresh elections would be irresponsible. The government must govern, occupying itself with problems of the economy and security for the citizens.”

Berlusconi on Tuesday said he would ask president Giorgio Napolitano to oust Fini from his job. His comments came the day after Fini delivered a scathing attack on Berlusconi during a speech to supporters.

Berlusconi in August expelled Fini from the ruling conservative People of Freedom Party (PdL), a move Fini on Sunday called “an act of Stalinism.”

Fini has 34 supporters in the lower house of parliament and 10 in the upper house or Senate. Unless the PdL allies with a centrist party, Fini’s newly formed Future and Freedom group can deny the government a ruling majority.

Dismissing the possibility of new elections, Fini said the government must get to work to help cure Italy’s fragile economy of its ills.

Berlusconi has signalled he wants the government to continue in office and carry out a series of reforms contained in the electoral platform on which it was elected to office in April 2008.

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

Netherlands: Police ‘Spy’ Gets Community Service

A former policeman who passed on information from Dutch police files to the Moroccan embassy has been sentenced to 240 hours community service by a court in The Hague.

The court said Ré L broke civil service confidentiality rules but had not handed over state secrets so cannot be considered a spy.

However, he did pass on information about Moroccan nationals thought to have connections to weapons trading and terrorism, the court said. There is no evidence money changed hands.

The case came to light in 2008 after a tip-off and led to a diplomatic row between the two countries.

L, who claims he was pressurised by the Moroccan authorities to hand over police files, now works as a builder, news agency ANP said.

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

Spain: Former Military Fortress Used for Ramadan Prayer

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, SEPTEMBER 8 — Today, Defence Minister Carme Chacon defended the choice to allow the old military fortress of San Ferran Castle in Figueres (Girona) to be used by the Muslim community for prayer during the month of Ramadan. “The rights of citizens cannot be denied due to the simple fact that they belong to a different religion,” said Chacon, while speaking to Congress when responding to a question by PP MP Jorge Fernandez Diaz about the reasons for temporarily allowing the castle to be used by the Muslim community. The minister pointed out that in 2003, an agreement was signed to form a consortium made up of the central, regional and local governments with the task of managing the castle, which is under the jurisdiction of the Defence Ministry. And he stressed that permission for the temporary use of military installations for Muslim religious ceremonies dates back to the year 2000, in Melilla, during the mandate of former Premier José Maria Aznar. Chacon cited the example of the permission given to use the Cuatro Vientos air base in Madrid for Pope John Paul II’s visit, which will be repeated in August 2011 for the next visit of Pope Benedict XVI for World Youth Day. Fernandez Diaz criticised the decision to allow for the castle to be used for Ramadan prayer services. He also stressed the protests by the residents of Figueres due to the enormous presence of Muslims at night over the month of fasting. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain: 1 in 3 Spaniards Admit Being Anti-Semitic

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, 8 SEPTEMBER — One in three Spaniards say that they are anti-Semitic, a sentiment largely fuelled by the “incorrect association” of the Jewish community with Israel and its policies, especially with regards to the conflict in the Middle East.

This is the result of the ‘Study on anti-Semitism in Spain’ carried out by the Dym Institute last April on behalf of Casa Sefarad-Israel and presented today in Madrid by the Foreign Minister, Miguel Angel Moratinos.

The survey, the first to be carried out specifically on the subject, was conducted after concerns raised by two international inquiries, in 2008 and 2009, that revealed a significant increase in anti-Semitism in Spain compared to other European countries. The figures say that 34.6% of Spaniards do not have a favourable opinion of Jews, compared to 46% in the investigation carried out by PEW Global Attitudes in 2008 and 48% in the report by the Anti Defamation League in 2009.

On the other hand, 48% of Spanish citizens today say that the have a positive opinion of Jews, compared to the 45% figure in the PEW study two years ago. The negative opinion “is at the same level” as that expressed towards communities such as Orthodox Christians and Protestants, as Minister Moratinos pointed out. Judgement of Muslims, however, is “in any case more negative”.

The Foreign Minister explained that “the degree of anti-Semitism in Spanish society continues to be too high and this is worrying, especially considering the limited size of Spain’s Jewish community”. Prejudice is dictated above all by the association of Jews with Israel’s policies, as shown by the fact that the most cited reason for the negative opinion is the Middle East conflict. Indeed, Spaniards “do not perceive Jews as the creators of problems in Spain, but rather in the wider world”. The Minister added that if the survey had been carried out after the crisis caused by the attack on the Gaza-bound flotilla, “the results for Israel would have been more negative”.

The study shows that, in a list of eight countries, Israel is the second most negatively judged country by Spaniards (63.4% unfavourable and 23% favourable), only behind Iran (74.2% unfavourable). These are followed by Morocco (55.9%) and the Palestinian Territories (50.4%).

Spaniards, however, have a generally favourable view of the Saharawi people, with 50.3% having positive opinions. The list is completed by Argentina, the United States and China, all of which have a majority of favourably opinions. To tackle adverse opinions and the overflow of anti-Semitism “present in Spanish society at an absolutely intolerable level”, the government will promote greater awareness of Jewish history and culture in Spain, according to Moratinos.

The chair of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain (FCJE), Jacobo Israel, expressed surprise at the results of the survey.

In an informative meeting on the eve of Jewish new year, which is being celebrated today, Israel has said that even though anti-Semitism “increasing worryingly on the Internet,” in Spain “there are not an excessive amount of violent anti-Semitic acts”, which have dropped compared to previous years. However, “verbal exces” has risen significantly. (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UK: ‘Shameless’ Generation Grows as Seven Million Now Live in Households Where No One Works

They reveal that almost four million households contain no one who has a job — meaning more than seven million under-65s live without any experience of employment.

In some parts of the country almost a quarter of households are workless. In the past year alone a further 148,000 have been added to the grim statistic.

Since 1998 the number of workless households has soared by 22 per cent, with an extra 700,000 families joining the total.

Mr Grayling said: ‘These figures are a further indictment of how the current system is failing families and are a shocking reflection of the scale of worklessness across the UK that the Government has inherited.

‘Some areas of Britain are suffering from inter-generational worklessness, which is why we must act now to ensure that children living in workless households are not left behind like their parents have been.’

The figures, produced by the Office for National Statistics, show that there are now 3.9million households, containing 5.4million adults, in which no one has a job.

They also reveal that 1.9million children live in homes where no one works — fuelling fears that the benefits culture will be passed from one generation to the next.

In total, 7.3million children and adults aged under 65 live in workless households.

Sources at the Department for Work and Pensions last night said the figures underlined the need to drive through reforms of the benefits system to make work pay and to get people back into employment.

All 2.6million people on incapacity benefit are to undergo fresh medical tests to see if they are fit to work, with trials due to begin in Aberdeen and Burnley next month.

Those assessed as being able to work would immediately be moved on to Jobseekers’ Allowance.

This would cut their benefits by more than £25 a week and requiring them to seek work immediately.

Ministers are also expected to introduce a ‘Work Programme’ next year, which will force the jobless to make daily efforts to find work or risk losing their benefits. Private companies will be offered incentives to help get benefits claimants back into work.

The ONS figures reveal huge variations in the number of workless households around the country.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Race Watch on All Playground Fights: Schools Warned After Horror Attack on White Boy

Every playground tiff should be investigated for elements of racism, a report has recommended.

The warning follows a hammer attack by an Asian gang on a 15-year-old white boy on his school’s tennis courts which left the victim with brain damage.

Henry Webster’s skull was fractured when he was punched, kicked and hit with a claw hammer by a group calling themselves the Asian Invaders. They left him for dead.

A serious case review of events surrounding the attack found that his school had failed to tackle escalating racial tensions between Asian and white teenagers — even after a riot on the playing fields.

It warned that schools should record the ethnicity of bullies and victims and act if a pattern of racism arises, including liaising more closely with police.

According to the review, Ridgeway School in Wroughton, Wiltshire, did not prepare for the arrival of a ‘significant number’ of British Asian students in September 2005 — less than two months after the 7/7 Tube and bus bombings in London.

Some problems between white and British Asian pupils were not recognised as racist by the school, near Swindon.

Henry had agreed to fight ‘one on one’ with an Asian boy to end the harassment he thought he and his friends were experiencing. But he was ambushed by a group of youths and young men in January 2007.

The attack led to the 2008 conviction of seven young men for wounding Henry with intent to cause him grievous bodily harm.Six more were convicted of conspiracy.

Henry, now 18, still suffers short-term memory loss. He had accused the school of failing to discipline Asian pupils who abused or intimidated their white classmates.

Last year, his family launched a High Court challenge claiming the school had been negligent, failed to maintain proper discipline or deal with racial tension. The school denied liability.

But in February, Mr Justice Nicol rejected their claims and said the school did not breach its duty to take reasonable care to keep Henry reasonably safe while on its premises.

Following his ruling, the Swindon Local Safeguarding Children Board commissioned a serious case review.

It found that not only should playground bullying be monitored for racism, but schools should also appoint ‘different race’ mentors for new pupils to help them settle in.

And teachers should consult parents about whether their approaches to religious and cultural requirements are ‘continuously appropriate’.

But Henry’s mother, Liz, 47, said the review confirmed her belief that his school was responsible for the assault. She criticised the report as a ‘whitewash’.

‘Whilst Henry has been the primary victim, we are — and always have been — of the firm belief that this school also let down the young Asian pupils who were eventually prosecuted. They have been criminalised and demonised.

‘Had their integration been properly handled we are certain this attack would not have happened. All anybody needed to do was simple community work — to get the Asian kids playing football with the white kids, or any kind of integration. Let’s hope every teacher in this country examines why this happened.’

The school said: ‘We have noted the recommendations and we always look to improve our practice and will continue to ensure our community which remained incredibly strong after the incident, continues to do so.’

Guidance recommends schools report all bullying. Schools nationwide will not be forced to adopt the 32 recommendations from the Swindon LSCB.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UN Says Danish Party Made Racist Remarks

Danish People’s Party politicians accused of making racially insulting comments

The police violated UN racism conventions by not prosecuting politicians from the right-wing Danish People’s Party who compared Somalis with paedophiles, according to the organisation’s anti-racism body.

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has deemed that the police violated the convention by not taking action against party leader Pia Kjærsgaard and foreign affairs spokesperson Søren Espersen, for making comments relating to Somali circumcision.

The incident took place in 2003, when the two criticised a decision to ask the Danish—Somali Association its opinion on a proposed ban on circumcision. According to Kjærsgaard, involving the group was equivalent to asking paedophiles if they had any objections to a ban on sex with children.

A Somali woman asked the police to investigate whether the comments were racist, but police let the case lie, and the UN committee has now concluded that the comments generalised an entire nationality and has criticised Denmark for not taking action.

The committee has recommended that the state pay the Somali woman a compensation for what it called a moral insult.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt: My Battle for Girls, Minister Mouchira Khattab

(ANSAmed) — ROME, SEPTEMBER 8 — What has changed in Egypt is that nowadays “people are more willing to report” persons who are responsible for female genital mutilation (Fgm). “This indicates a shift in the perception of this practice. It means that it is seen as a crime, that Fgm has now moved from social norm to crime”, explained Minister for Family and Populations, Mouchira Khattab, to ANSAmed.

In a country where official data show that in 2005, 95% of women had fallen victim to female genital mutilations (FGM), Mouchira Khattab has always been on the frontline of the battle against this phenomenon. The practice is widespread among Christians and Muslims, mostly in rural areas, in the north, and in the southern governorates of Upper Egypt in particular. “In more conservative areas”, the Minister continued, “where the girl is treated as a taboo, this practice will thrive”. It is therefore essential to act on the social-cultural environment.

But the fundamentalist Islam is still an enemy in this battle? And what is the role of the Muslim Brotherhood? In 1994 the mouvement opposed the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo, regarded as a threat to the traditional family. MPs belonging to the Broherhood also opposed the set of measures for the protection of children which criminalized the FGM in 2008. The government-supported programme against FGM, launched with the international forum of experts in 2003 in Cairo, “has managed to take the issue away from the arena of religious policies” the Minister responded. FGM “is a social issue and must be placed in the right prospect”. One of the results that have been obtained, she underlined, “was a religious address against FGM by recognised religious authorities, both Muslims and Christians, which has weakened the arguments of religious extremist leaders who turned the question into a political issue since the ICPD in 1994”. Besides, the Minister observed, this religious address has led to the fatwa that was issued in 2007 by Dar el Ifta (the institute for Islamic jurisprudence): a real revolution considering the fact that the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, the highest Sunnite theological authority, issued a fatwa in October 1994, saying that genital mutilation is “a duty for women”, as circumcision is a duty for men. But now “our national programme”, the Minister stressed, has turned the opinions against this practice “without labeling or alienating anyone”. The programme — a model of international collaboration according to the Minister, with the help of the UNDP and Italian Cooperation — has managed to create “a social movement that has led to a general consensus against FGM” and to the law 126 that was passed in June 2008 in Parliament. People who are found guilty of carrying out female genital mutilations can be sent to prison for a period ranging between three months and two years, and can be fined up to 950 USD.

But more importantly, the Minister pointed out, the campaign has succeeded in “making people see FGM as a violation of a wide range of human rights of the female, either as a girl or a grown up woman. It therefore establishes a legal responsability on the duty bearers to ensure the rights of the female”. Besides, the myth around MFG has been debunked by supplying clear information on that fact that the practice “has no medical benefits”. Anti-FGM teams has been formed in 120 villages in 10 governorates. These teams include several community leaders, religious figures, authoritative women, doctors and experts in law. The Minister continued: “public statements have been made against FGM in 70 villages, involving thousands of villagers”. The silence in the media on the issue has been broken as well, causing families with girls who were at risk of abandoning FGM. There is also a counselling service for these families, which intervenes after reports of FGM arrive at the toll-free number that has been instituted by the Ministry for children, which can be reached round the clock. But Mouchira Khattab is well aware of the fact that the fight must continue during a change of generation to defeat FGM. “It is a long and hard battle”, she added, “and we must work even harder to make sure that every girl is protected from this threat. We highly value our collaboration on the issue with Italian Cooperation, as well as its support to the Egypt’s Child Rights Observatory, funded by the Italian-Egypt Debt for Development Swap Programme”. On the other hand, she concludes, Italy also faces the problem of FGM among its community of immigrants. And cooperation between the two countries protects the rights of children in both countries “without discrimination of gender, religion and ethnic origins”.

The fact that Italy is on the frontline is also proved by the commitment of politicians like the Senate vice-president Emma Bonino, of Ngos Aidos and No Peace Without Justice, and also, in the private sector, by Italcementi, sponsor of the Programme.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Ramadan: More Arrests in Algeria Over Fasting

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, SEPTEMBER 8 — Another three men were arrested yesterday in Algeria because they were surprised eating during the day, thus violating fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.

El Watan reports that the men were arrested in Tebessa (600 km east of Algiers) and charged with “insulting Islam”. They will be tried in the next days. The trial of another 10 men was instead postponed to November. The men, including a restaurant owner, were arrested a few days ago in Cabilia. Following the reports of some neighbours the police broke into a closed restaurant in the village of Ouzellaguen, close to Bejaia, and arrested the owner and another 9 men who were inside waiting to be served. At the beginning of Ramadan another two workers were arrested when they were caught drinking during the day. Algerian law does not explicitly sanction the failure to fast during the holy month, but does provide jail sentences from 3 to 5 years and fines from 50,000 to 100,000 dinars (500 to 1,000 euros) for anyone who “offends the Prophet or one of God’s envoys or denigrates Islam’s dogmas or precepts”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: US Close Arabic Field School in Sidi Bou Said

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, SEPTEMBER 8 — The United States have decided to close the Arabic Field School, an diplomatic institute specialised in teaching Arabic to U.S. diplomats stationed in the Arab world. The institute, located in Sidi Bou Said (the north of Tunis) is attended by 20-30 diplomats. Reportedly it was the students who proposed closing the school to reopen another location in Amman, Jordan, or in Cairo, Egypt. This is because French is the main language in the posh neighbourhood of Sidi Bou Said, which does not allow them to use Arabic on a daily basis. Furthermore, the Arabic taught in Tunisia is not always the same type that is spoken in Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, in their opinion. The news was reported by webmanagercenter. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Gaza: Lorry Driver Lina Takes on Social Taboo

(ANSAmed) — GAZA, SEPTEMBER 8 — Confident behind the wheel, the young Lina Ibrahim became the undisputed queen of the streets of Gaza, when several weeks ago, to the surprise of her family members, she passed an exam to become the first female lorry driver in the Gaza Strip. The battle for emancipation in a traditionalist society, which in recent years has been under the increasingly strict control of Islamic fundamentalists of Hamas has not been easy.

Lina’s brothers told her that they do not approve of her initiative, since the work of a lorry driver requires a great amount of physical strength and also involves constant contact with male co-workers. At driving school she was told that she would never even drive a car. The goal that she had set for herself, she was told, probably went beyond her capabilities. But encouraged by her father, Lina signed up for classes and brilliantly passed her exams. “I certainly do not want to revolutionise the social rules of Gaza,” she said to a local television station, while wearing a sober black dress and a dark veil that only left her vibrant and alluring eyes uncovered. “In my opinion, the work of a lorry driver is only a temporary solution to earn money while I go to optometry school.” That is her true objective in life. “Women in Gaza can make progress,” assured the lorry driver. “They have the qualities necessary to assert themselves, not only on the streets, but also in the universities, or working with computers.” In recent weeks it was also reported that two adolescent girls in Gaza decided to go fishing in the sea to help their family overcome money problems. Their initiative also caused a stir, since fishing has been a trade that has been reserved exclusively for men. But it seems, according to local sources, that the widespread state of crisis in the Gaza Strip is forcing women to create new jobs for themselves, even if they have to challenge preconceived notions of the past. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Bahrain: Election Approaches Amid Strong Tensions

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, SEPTEMBER 8 — The hard line adopted by Bahrain against critics of the monarchy a few weeks before parliamentary elections have caused tensions to flare again in the tiny emirate. Dozens of high ranking officials have been arrested, accused of plotting terrorist schemes to overthrow the government and with the king publically stepping in to justify the measures. Bahrain, which will hold elections on October 23, is ruled by a Sunni royal family, which governs over a Shiite majority population, a political equation that has never lacked highly tense moments and which occasionally erupts into violent protests in the streets. Shiites, who currently hold 17 of 40 seats in Parliament, have denounced discriminatory policies against them including limited access to professional opportunities and real estate subsidies and the recognition of citizenship for non-Bahraini Sunni Muslims to demographically tip the scales more in favour of the Sunnis in the country. An accusation that has always been flatly denied by Manama. The new wave of disorders ended with the arrest of 23 political representatives and human rights activists and with 20 charges of complicity in forming a terrorist network to overthrow the monarchy. The problems began on August 13, when a representative of the Shiite opposition group Haq, Abduljalil Al Singace, was taken into custody while returning from a conference in the House of Lords in London, during which he criticised the human rights situation in the country. Subsequently, a representative for the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, Mohammed Said, whose association has been active despite its formal suspension in 2004, and two religious figures, Mohammad al Moqdada and Said Al Nuri, were both arrested. The repression of those who are critical of the government led to violent protests among Shiites, such as the attack against the editor-in-chief of Al Watan, the most widely read newspaper in Bahrain. A situation, according to various political analysts, which whether purposely created or not, invoking an image of increasingly violent disorders involving Shiites, plays to the hand of the Sunni candidates and limits the possibility of Shiites from gaining an absolute majority in Parliament. Comments and worries over the violence have come from outside of the country, causing the other oil producing countries of the Gulf region, which are all governed by Sunni monarchies, with Shiite minorities to varying extents to take a stance. The countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council — with Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar — have publically supported Manama’s decision and supported the request to extradite other activists who have taken refuge abroad.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Iran: No Place for Democracy and Human Rights in Islam, Says Qom Theologian

Imam Mesbah Yazdi, great supporter of Ahmadinejad, makes the claim. For him, sexual and moral deviants like Sakineh should be punished and suppressed. Obeying Ahmadinejad is like obeying God. Pro-reform students are beaten, pro-reform professors are fired, all for being against Iran’s rulers. Journalists are accused of being “mohareb”, enemies of God.

Tehran (AsiaNews) — As the world mobilises against the stoning of Sakineh, a 43-year-old woman convicted for adultery and killing her husband, Iranian police continue to threaten and arrest journalists and human rights lawyers. Dozens of university professors are fired and pro-reform students are beaten. The reason is simple. “Democracy, freedom, and human rights have no place” in Islam, said Mesbah Yazdi, who heads Shia Taliban, in a speech reprinted in Rooz, an online Iranian news website.

Speaking before members of paramilitary groups, soldiers and his followers, the cleric said that Iran “is not a place to back down for cultural reasons against people who promote corruption.”

In a veiled reference to Sakineh and others, he added, “sexual or moral deviants or promoters of any other kind of corruption must be suppressed.”

Mesbah Yadzi is a member of the Association of Teachers of Qom Theological Centre (Jame Modaresin Hoze Elmie Qom) and a great supporter of Ahmadinejad. In fact, “When the president received the supreme leader’s confirmation, obeying him is like obeying God,” he said.

A similar extremist vision explains recent events in Iran, where dozens of students, followers of pro-reform Ayatollah Dastgheib, who was against to Ahmadinejad’s re-election, were beaten in Shiraz’s Qoba Mosque.

Pro-democracy activists are also concerned about the firing of 40 professors from Tehran University since March. The activists have slammed the professors’ removal, calling it a case of “political cleansing” of the faculties that led the Green Wave movement that came out against the results in last year’s presidential election. Indeed, Science Minister Kamran Daneshjoo said repeatedly that the universities would not tolerate professors who are not “in tune with the Islamic Republic regime.”

For Mesbah Yazdi, anyone who opposes the Islamic Republic of Iran and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in fact an “enemy of God” (Mohareb).

Human rights activist Shiva Nazar Ahari (pictured), who is the editor of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters website, has recently found out what that means. Arrested on 14 July 2009, a month after Ahmadinejad’s re-election, she was released on bail on 23 September of the same year. Re-arrested on 20 December and charged with a “mohareb”, a very serious crime in Iran, she is still waiting to go to a trial, expected very soon.

Badrolssadat Mofidi, secretary general of the Iranian Journalists Association, is another prominent figure accused of being a “mohareb”. He was recently sentenced to six years in prison and five years without the right to work as a journalist.

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

Iraq: Al-Qaeda Demands ‘Protection Money’ From Northern Shopkeepers

Mosul, 8 Sept. (AKI) — Al-Qaeda militants are demanding shopkeepers in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul pay extortion money running into hundreds of dollars, the governor of surrounding Nineveh province told pan-Arab daily ‘al-Sharq al-Awsat’.

“Many shopkeepers have been threatened and are paying up,” Athil al-Najafi told ‘al-Sharq al-Awsat’.

Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella group for Al-Qaeda fighters, is extorting ‘protection money’ of between 50 and 150 dollars for each truckload of goods received by the shopkeepers, al-Najafi said.

“The charge is 50 dollars for a part delivery and 150 dollars for a full truckload,” he stated.

It was hard to assess how many shopkeepers have been paying up, al-Sharq al-Awsat said.

One who did not, Abu Muhammad, was recently murdered and is his son was wounded after Muhammad refused to pay protection money.

In late August, six Iraqi soldiers and a policeman were killed in an attack in Nineveh province. There has been a recent spike in violence in northern Iraq and elsewhere in the country as insurgents have stepped up assaults.

The United States pulled out its combat troops in August amid a political vacuum as parties failed to form a government in the wake of March elections.

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

New Stakelbeck on Terror Show, Featuring Former Bin Laden Associate

The new episode of my show, Stakelbeck on Terror, is now up online. You can watch it by clicking the link above.

The big features this week:

—My exclusive interview with Noman Benotman, a former friend and associate of Osama bin Laden who takes CBN inside Al Qaeda (1:35 into the show):

“He insists on inflicting pain to his enemies,” Benotman said of bin Laden. “Beyond your imagination. You can’t miss it when you talk with him.”

—My exclusive interview with Dani Dayan, Chairman of the Yesha Council representing the 300,000 Israelis living in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. (18:58 into the show).

—The War Council roundtable, featuring Middle east experts Walid Phares and Lee Smith discussing Turkey’s Islamist turn and Syrian scheming (12:30 into the show)

           — Hat tip: Erick Stakelbeck[Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: Sudden Closure of TV Alusrah, President Protests

(ANSAmed) — ROME, SEPTEMBER 8 — “I ask the Saudi Ministry of Information for the true reasons behind the sudden closing of the TV channel Alusrah ( the family)”. This request was made by Mohammed Alhabdan, president of the Saudi television channel in question, through the internet site of satellite TV Al Arabiya.

Despite having two licenses, from both Saudi and Jordanian authorities, the channel Alusrah was closed several days after the closure by the Saudi Authority for Telecommunications, of several web sites which proposed ‘fatwa’ (religious advice) , violating the directives ordered by King Abdullah bin abdelaziz al Saudi: rules which limit the right to broadcast to the Assembly of the Ulema (religious leaders).

Other than grave economic damage, denounced Alhabdan, regarding contracts with the satellite service as well as publicity contracts, there is also the risk of the laying off personnel. (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Suicide Bomber Kills 16 in Busy Russian Market

A suicide bomber has killed at least 16 people and wounded 100 others at a market in Vladikavkaz in southern Russia, officials say.

Bodies lay strewn and buildings were damaged by the explosion, which went off in a car packed with metal bars, bolts and ball bearings.

People rushed to help the wounded, many of whom are in a critical condition.

President Medvedev vowed to track down the “beasts” who carried out the bombing.

The square in front of the market was stained with blood and littered with damaged cars.

Schools evacuated

The Russian emergencies ministry has sent a plane loaded with medics and equipment to treat and evacuate the injured.

The area around the market was busy at the time, partly because there is an employment office nearby.

Reports said schools and kindergartens were evacuated throughout the city in response to an anonymous bomb threat.

Russia’s North Caucasus region has been beset by Islamist and separatist violence and the area around the market in Vladikavkaz has been targeted before.

In the deadliest attack, 55 people were killed in an explosion in 1999.

Vladikavkaz is the capital of the Russian republic of North Ossetia, next to the volatile region of Ingushetia.

It also borders on South Ossetia, a tense breakaway region of Georgia where Russia and Georgia went to war two years ago.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told a meeting of Russian Muslim leaders that “the people who do this, are people without a soul, without a heart.”

This is the latest in a spate of very serious attacks in the North Caucasus in recent weeks.

Experts believe rival militant groups may be vying for supremacy in the region, our correspondent says…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Pakistani: Uzbek Warlords Killed by Drones

Islamabad, 9 Sept. (AKI) — By Syed Saleem Shahzad — Top Uzbek warlords and their bases which provide training to the European fighters were killed in the last four suspected US predator drone attacks over the past 24 hours in Pakistani North Waziristan region, well placed sources told AKI.

A total of at least five people were reported killed in the latest attack on Thursday in the northwest Pakistani tribal belt.

The most prominent target in the series of drone attacks was the renowned Uzbek commander whose is renowned in the region with his Jihadi nom de guerre Qureshi.

He came under attack at 12:30 pm Wednesday in the area of Digan, the Data Khel region of the North Waziristan.

Qureshi was associated with the Islamic Jihad Union. He used to receive foreigners especially the Germans in North Waziristan and then train them and resend them to their country of origins.

At 10:30 am yesterday a drone attacked Dande Darpa Khel in the North Waziristan. The targeted compound belonged to Pakistani militants of Laskhar-e-Jhangvi and the Uzbek militants.

Another target was Laskhar-e-Jhangvi in the North Waziristan while Thursday’s pre-dawn target were seven Uzbek militants at the Match manufacturing factory near Miranshah.

The US declines to publicly claim responsibility for drone missile strikes in Pakistan, but officials have said privately that they have killed several senior Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants.

America’s use of unmanned aircraft in Pakistan is publicly called a violation of sovereignty by the country’s government and military officials. Reports say their reaction is for local consumption and in private support such strikes.

Pakistani officials said three drone strikes killed at least 15 people in North Waziristan on Wednesday, a stronghold for Taliban and Al-Qaida-linked militants, according to a report on the web site of US-government sponsored Voice of America radio.

An attack by a suspected American drone aircraft on Thursday killed five people in northwest Pakistan accused of being militants, according to news reports.

It was the fourth such attack in 24 hours, according to a report.

Six alleged insurgents were killed on Wednesday in another attack in Pakistan’s troubled northwestern area that borders Afghanistan.

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

Pakistan: Christian Woman, Mother of Two, Abducted and Forced Into Slavery Because of Debt

Her labourer husband took out a loan to have his sick father undergo medical treatment. Muslim landlord who owns the debt now wants repayment; to achieve his goal, he threatened and insulted the family, calling them “lowlife” who “will always be our slave” because “We Muslims are superior to any other religion.” Initially, police refused to intervene and file a complaint about the abduction.

Kasur (AsiaNews) — A group of Muslims abducted a Christian woman, mother of two, because her husband failed to repay a loan he had contracted because of his poverty. The Muslim creditor threatened to seize his wife and children and use them as slaves if the debt was not paid in time. Two days ago, he, his children and other family members organised a sit-in (pictured) demanding that police intervene, but so far, it has failed to lift one finger to free the woman. The incident occurred in Fatehpuh Kasur (Kasur District), about 100 kilometres from Punjab’s capital Lahore.

The town is home to Ejaz Masih, his wife Sana, their two children and his parents. He works as labourer in the fields, whilst his wife works as a maid. Both are working hard to give their children an education.

Last July, Muhammad Nawaz Randhawa sold his fields to Chaudhry Ilyas Tiwana, who inherited all the labourers as well.

Earlier, Ejaz Masih had asked Randhawa for a loan to pay for his father’s medical treatment. After Randhawa told Tiwana about the loan, the latter summer Ejaz on 15 August to tell him that he had two weeks to repay it, “otherwise you will work my fields for the rest of your life, together with your family”. What is more, “We’ll come and take your wife and children to work for us as slaves. You have no choice [but pay]. Do dare not tell anyone; or else, you’ll be responsible for the consequences,” he added. “You are lowlife and will always be our slave. We Muslims are superior to any other religion.”

After he was thrown out of the landlord’s home, Ejaz went home where he told his wife and parents about the incident. “My wife said we should contact police and the authorities because we could not let anyone take our children to be their slaves,” Ejaz told AsiaNews.

“I told her that those people were very influential and that they would kill us if we contacted police. My parents told me to send my children to the house of an uncle, for protection, which we did.”

“Last Friday,” Ejaz went on to say, “around 5 am, seven to eight people with weapons came to take away my wife. They threatened us with their weapons. I tried to stop them, but they threw me to the ground and beat my father.”

When his mother called for help, neighbours came out but no one tried to stop the kidnappers. His brother, Javed, contacted police, but they refused to register the complaint.

On Monday, Ejaz, his parents, children and brother protested in front of the Fatehpuh Kasur Press Club, demanding justice and his wife’s release.

Despite many attempts and requests, Tiwana was unavailable to make any comment about the incident.

Following the protest, Senior House Officer Malik Babar said, “We are aware of the matter and we will arrest the culprits.”

However, the district coordination officer said he had no information about any such incident, but “I will instruct police to take the necessary action in this regard.”

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

Pakistani Cricket Hit by More Scandals as Players Accumulate Properties

After accusing three Pakistani players, Britain’s News of the World publishes a new interview with a player who claims that “almost every match” is fixed. Ordinary Pakistanis now wonder about their players’ excess earnings.

Lahore (AsiaNews) — In Pakistan, aftershocks are still being felt as what began as a gentleman’s game has turned into a sport of corruption and graft. In fact, whilst Pakistan’s cricket team excluded three of its players from its T20 series tournament in England after they were accused of trying to throw a match at the Lord’s Cricket Ground in London, Pakistani media and public opinion are trying to find out how far match fixing goes among Pakistani players.

Team manager Yawar Saeed said the three players, Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, would not be on the team for the planned matches. This came after Britain’s News of the World accused the players of accepting bribes to throw the fourth match in Pakistan’s series against England, which the islanders won by 1 inning and 225 points, thus taking a 3 to 1 overall lead.

For the Pakistan Cricket Board, which is not new to scandals, corruption is a problem that touches everyone. In an article and a video by one of its reporters, News of the World showed a South Asian man representing an illegal betting cartel and a London-based businessman, Mazhar Majeed, who for £150,000 reassured his interlocutor that Asif and Amir would bowl no-balls at the agreed time. The paper then handed all the material to the police, which has not yet opened an investigation.

The lifestyle the three players enjoyed also raised suspicions. Team captain Salman Butt makes a lot of money, beyond what might be expected from a cricket player. He owns three villas in Lahore and is having a fourth, two-storey villa worth £300,000 built in the same city.

Mohammad Asif is said to own four properties, including an Italianate-style villa in Lahore, worth around £650,000, plus another one in Karachi and sixth in his native Shikhupura.

Mohammad Amir, who is only 18, has property in Lahore.

The case is not going to go away any time soon. News of the World has just published an interview with a Pakistani player, Yasir Hameed, telling a long tale about the endemic corruption in Pakistani cricket. Initially, he denied giving the interview, but later acknowledged it, in which he claims that his teammates were fixing “almost every match”.

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

Sub-Saharan Africa

Prison Break: Violent Muslim Sect Frees 750 Prisoners From Nigerian Jail Sparking Fears of Direct Assault on Government

The raid raised new fears about violence in the oil-rich nation just months before elections.

The attack last night by the Boko Haram sect left the prison in ruins and showed the group had access to the sophisticated weapons it needed to overpower prison guards.

Now the group seeking to impose strict Islamic law on Nigeria may want to take on the government directly, potentially bring a new wave of violence to Africa’s most populous nation.

The attackers went cell to cell at the prison in Bauchi, breaking open locks and setting fires before escaping during the confusion with 100 of the inmates who were followers.

Five people — a soldier, a police officer, two prison guards and a civilian — died in the attack and six others remained in critical condition.

Members of Boko Haram — which means ‘Western education is sacrilege’ in the local Hausa language — rioted and attacked police stations and private homes in July 2009, triggering a violent police and military crackdown during which more than 700 people died.

More than 120 followers arrested in the wake of the attacks last year were being held at the Bauchi prison pending trial.

Police believe the followers freed by the attack are now hiding in the mountains surrounding the pasturelands of the rural region.

‘We have provided watertight security to hunt members of this group that we believe have not gone far,’ said Mohammed Barau, an assistant superintendent of police.

Bauchi remained calm today, as paramilitary police guarded the front of the damaged prison.

Police and military units added checkpoints along roads heading out of the city in hopes of catching escapees.

Boko Haram has campaigned for the implementation of strict Shariah law. Nigeria, a nation of 150 million people, is divided between the Christian-dominated south and the Muslim-held north.

A dozen states across Nigeria’s north already have Shariah law in place, though the area remains under the control of secular state governments.

In recent months, rumours about Boko Haram rearming have spread throughout northern Nigeria.

A video recording released in late June showed a Boko Haram leader calling for new violence as the one-year anniversary of their attack neared.

Meanwhile, police believe motorcycle-riding members of the sect are killing policemen in the region.

The violence also comes as Nigeria’s January 22, 2011 presidential election nears.

President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian who took over after the death of elected Muslim leader Umaru Yar’Adua, has yet to say whether he will run for office.

If he does, it could anger the country’s Muslim elite, who believe Yar’Adua would have won a second term under a power-sharing agreement in the nation’s ruling party.

Now Mr Jonathan faces new pressure in trying to put down the sect without alienating Muslims or allowing security forces to conduct a violent reprisal like they did in 2009.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Belize Mob Torches Americans’ Animal Sanctuary, But Their Will Endures

NN) — An American couple in Belize struggled Tuesday to figure out their future, their dreams literally up in smoke after a mob of indigenous Mayans burned down their animal sanctuary in the belief the foreigners fed two missing children to crocodiles on their property.

Cherie and Vince Rose moved to the tiny Central American nation in 2004 to form a 36-acre sanctuary for two species of endangered crocodiles found in Belize — the American and Morelet’s crocodiles.

Bit by bit, their hope turned into reality. They built a two-story octagonal house that rested on stilts and reached 30 feet into the air. They constructed two smaller cottages to house researchers and students. They dug out two acres of canals for the crocodiles. They acquired two boats.

They called the place the American Crocodile Education Sanctuary.

Most of it vanished Sunday morning, when a throng of angry villagers from a settlement about 10 miles away torched the buildings on their property. A local psychic had told the villagers that the Americans had fed the two missing children to the 17 crocodiles at the sanctuary, police say.

The Roses were rescuing three crocodiles on a distant island at the time, so were not home to ward off the attack — or possibly suffer a gruesome fate.

“It was like something out of a Frankenstein movie,” Cherie Rose said Tuesday. “If we’d been home, they would have killed us. They said they were going to chop us up and feed us to the crocodiles.”

National police confirm that the indigenous Maya villagers were acting on the advice of a psychic who said the Roses had something to do with the August 7 disappearance of 11-year-old Benjamin Rash and his 9-year-old sister Onelia.

“They have their own superstitions,” Deputy Police Commissioner James Magdaleno said about the Maya, who make up about 10 percent of Belize’s population. “Because of their beliefs, they decided to take the law into their own hands.”

No arrests have been made, the deputy commissioner told CNN.

“We don’t know who burned the house,” he said. “That is still under investigation.”

Police also questioned Vince Rose about the missing children, but no connection was established, Magdaleno said Tuesday.

For the Roses, the drama unfolded in excruciating slow motion from far away.

They traveled August 29 to rescue some crocodiles on Ambergris Caye, a Caribbean Sea island off the northeastern coast of Belize. Their sanctuary in Punta Gorda is on the Caribbean coast in southeastern Belize, more than five hours away by land and airplane.

On Friday, September 3, the couple received phone calls from friends saying that truckloads of people from the village of San Marcos were on their way to the sanctuary to burn it down. The Roses sent their caretaker to the compound, but everyone was gone by the time he got there. The area around the two cottages had been trashed, though.

The Roses got more calls from friends Saturday, again telling them that villagers with shotguns and machetes were on their way to the sanctuary. The caretaker was afraid to go there, Cherie Rose said, so they called police that night. The police said they couldn’t go on the property because the Roses’ two mixed-breed dogs were barking and would not allow them to enter, Cherie Rose recounted.

“By 9 a.m. Sunday, we were receiving frantic calls and texts,” Cherie Rose said.

By the time police got there, it was too late.

“They told us, ‘Oh, we’re sorry. Your place is burning to the ground as we speak,’ “ Cherie Rose said.

Life has been numbingly painful since.

“We’re in shock,” she said. “We’re totally devastated.”

Vince Rose still found it difficult to talk about the sanctuary Tuesday, having to stop several times during a phone interview to compose himself.

“They lost everything,” Deputy Commissioner Magdaleno said Tuesday.

Well, maybe not quite everything. Their two dogs — Rio and Maya — survived.

So did their spirit. They don’t know quite how, but they vow to stay in Belize and start all over.

“We love what we do, and the adventure is just incredible,” said Cherie Rose, who is 44 and said she has a biology degree from Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania. “We do more in one day than some people do in a lifetime.

“We are going to stay in Belize. We are going to fight this. I’m not abandoning those crocodiles down there.”

Her 48-year-old husband agrees.

“What we created was absolutely beautiful,” Vince Rose said. “No, I’m not going. We’re not letting them run us out of this country.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Netherlands: Information on Benefit Payments at Hairdressers

UTRECHT, 09/09/10 — The government is hiring in hairdressers to explain to immigrants in Turkish and Arabic how they can receive a higher benefit payment.

The initiative is aimed at immigrants aged over 65, who came to the Netherlands at a later age. As a result, they have paid too little tax in their life to be able to receive a full state pension (AOW) payment. But there is a special scheme for them, the AIO, under which they can still receive a pension that is nearly as much.

Many Turks and Moroccans do not know this attractive scheme, according to the Social Insurance Bank (SVB). The government body has therefore retained hairdressers who can not only give immigrants eligible for the money a free haircut but also explain to them during the haircut what they must do to be able to pocket the payments.

The trial with Turkish and Arabic-speaking barbers will begin in Utrecht, a spokesman confirmed yesterday. The remarkable initiative is aimed at the Lombok and Kanaleneiland districts. If the trial by the payments body turns out to be successful, hairdressers may be deployed in other towns as well.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Roma Expulsion: European Double Standards

The French Roma-repatriation crusade is going down rather differently in the two countries directly concerned, Romania and Bulgaria. The Bucharest-based paper Adevarul recalls that “till recently, Westerners would lecture us on how to treat Gypsies — whether it was a matter of terminology (say Roma, not Gypsy!) or legislation.” But after 2003, when “they, too, got invaded, they melodramatically changed their tune, taking drastic steps that Bucharest, Bratislava, Budapest, Sofia, Zagreb and Belgrade would not have dared to take. Is this sheer hypocrisy? At any rate, the West has now taught us quite a lesson!”

Evenimentul Zilei feels “no-one should be expelled just for being a member of the Roma minority”, whilst Adevarul, in another editorial, bemoans that “France’s example has fuelled racist attitudes in Europe”. The Romanian daily reminds readers that “the Communists tried to control the Roma by building homes for them — in which they were more inclined to keep their horses, as they preferred to sleep under the open sky. Now the French want to send them back to houses they don’t have, owing to their nomadic way of life, and that is what is so outrageous about what France and Europe are doing: trying to change the mindset of an ethnic group living in the modern world according to laws that are frozen in the past. Rational France can do better than that.”

No thanks, France

In Bulgaria, the authorities have been trying since late July to “put the whole matter back into proportion”, even, according to some observers, to “minimise” the significance of these “repatriations”. Their position is facilitated by the near absence of any reaction by official representatives of the country’s Roma community. Prime minister Boïko Borissov himself, as quoted in opposition daily Sega, argues that “at any rate, each of these people bears individual responsibility for what happens to him: there are no mass expulsions”. And in Dnevnik, foreign minister Nikolaï Mladenov insists that the controversy is, above all, “a French domestic affair”.

Most of the Bulgarian press, on the other hand, feel this is a matter that concerns all of Europe, but on which opinions diverge along the East-West divide. Tabloids like Trud and 24 Chasa are amazed at the European Commission’s “comprehension” for the French anti-Roma crusade and wonder whether Brussels would show such leniency if it were Sofia going after the Roma. “If Europe means double standards, count us out. No thanks, France,” their editorialists intone, taking their cue from Trud, while in Sega columnist Svetoslav Terziev accuses France of “organising the biggest official deportation since the end of World War II”. “Dear France,” writes Sega editorialist Boïko Lambovski, “we who bring up the rear of the EU expect you, Europe’s locomotive and the fatherland of human rights, to set an example for us in matters of humanism and integration. But what you are now doing is anything but that.”

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

Security: Italian Coast Guard Monitors the Mediterranean

(ANSAmed) — ROME, SEPTEMBER 7 — World leading technologies and instruments, a coordination role for the control of the European AIS (Automatic Identification System), a vital instrument for the monitoring and the exchange of information in real time relative to naval traffic in the Mediterranean. The Italian Coast Guard is proud of its naval traffic monitoring technology and effective sea rescue activities, with admiral Ferdinando Lolli, general commander of the Coast Guard and Harbour Offices, saying that “l’Italy is second to none in Europe and in the world”. While he reviewed several activities, Admiral Lolli emphasised to ANSAmed that this is a leading role that this branch of the Navy plays in a key area (the Mediterranean) crossed every year by 15% of world sea trade, but where the traffic of human beings, drugs, weapons, contraband and poaching is a daily event. Marine search and rescue (3,844 souls saved in 2010), secure navigation, monitoring of fishing activities, protection of the environment and cultural assets are functions that the Italian Coast Guard performs thanks to some of the most sophisticated equipment in Europe. Lolli explained that “Every day the operations centre in Rome monitors 25,000 traces which are identified in real time”.

A complex operation that involves the use of the AIS system which Italy coordinates on behalf of Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, France, Malta, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Spain, but which will soon be also extended to the southern shores of the basin. He added that “Aside from AIS, we have the satellites of the EU BlueMassMed projects (Blue Maritime Sorveillance System Med) and Cosmos Sky Med (a system developed by the Italian space agency and ministry of Defence to monitor the earth), and the latest arrival: Pon Sicurezza”. An integrated information service, the operational national security plan implemented last summer that will allow us to optimise prevention activities and to monitor illegal activities in southern ports thanks to the coordination of police authorities and Harbour Offices. Italy has already spent 320 million euros on this project”. In the fight against illegal aliens, Harbour Offices and the Coast Guard are certainly on the front line, but admiral Lolli prefers to speak about sea rescue. “A right which overcomes geographical boundaries”. “We are present in West Africa, where Italy is supporting Spain in countering immigration from the shores of Senegal, while in Greece we have a naval unit to counter the same phenomenon out of Turkey”, but Lolli admitted that cooperation is not always easy. As with neighbouring Malta, where “The dispute concerns the appointment of tasks. Malta wants jurisdiction, but not operativeness “. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UK: £100 Million Spent on Asylum Deportation Flights

The Government spent more than £100 million on flights deporting failed asylum seekers, foreign nationals and immigration offenders in the last five years, figures showed.

Last year alone, more than £10 million was spent on hiring private jets and a further £18 million was spent on scheduled flights used to remove people at the taxpayer’s expense.

A total of £109.9 million was spent on flights deporting people from the UK since 2005, with just under a third of this (£31.8 million) spent on chartered flights, the Government figures showed.

Immigration minister Damian Green said the Government spent £10.3 million on chartered flights in 2009-10, more than a third of the cost of all deportations, which reached almost £28.4 million.

The latest figures, released by Mr Green in a parliamentary written answer on Monday, were higher than at any point since 2005.

In 2008-09, £8.2 million was spent on chartered flights and £18.6 million on scheduled flights,

In 2007-08, £4.8 million was spent on chartered flights and £15.6 million on scheduled flights.

In 2006-07, £4.1 million was spent on chartered flights and £12.9 million on scheduled flights.

In 2005-06, £4.3 million was spent on chartered flights and £12.9 million on scheduled flights.

The total cost of scheduled and chartered flights includes administration costs and cancellation fees.

A total of 67,215 people were removed or departed voluntarily from the UK last year, down one per cent compared with the peak of 67,980 in 2008, figures released by the Home Office last month showed.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said: “This Government is taking a much tougher approach to immigration.

“We are clear that we will reduce net migration to the levels of the 1990s — the tens of thousands rather than the hundreds of thousands we have seen in recent years.

“And we will take tough action to remove those who have no right to be here, by enforcing returns and beefing up the protection of our border with a new border police force.”

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

‘Well-Meaning Swedes Treat Migrants Like Pets’

With a xenophobic political party knocking on the door of the Riksdag, Swedish journalist Lars Åberg examines why, despite good intentions, many Swedes still view immigrants like household pets.

Much has been written and said about the Sweden Democrats and their relationship to immigration. Similarly interesting are the established parties’ views on migration and on people who move to Sweden.

By expressing horror at the Sweden Democrats, someone can still come across as well-intentioned even when expressing other forms of prejudice and actively reproducing constructed group characteristics.

The exotification of immigrants has become a political edifice of ideas which divides up the population and transforms it into an abstract collective suitable for clashes over group-based rights.

The emphasis on immigration is an institutional torment; as second- and third-generation and eternal immigrants, people are never afforded an individual identity, but are rather treated like demanding members of some clan in need of special treatment.

Over the past forty years or so a policy has been formulated, and an administrative system of authority developed, which is based on sympathy for those who move here.

The rest of the world considers the Swedes to be tolerant and generous, and there are obvious economic reasons for why so many people come here. Only in Sweden is this generosity perceived and portrayed as humiliating, discriminatory, and xenophobic. Only here can it be considered problematic to greet a democratic system with domestic, everyday language.

In no other country do people make so many excuses for their achievements and so easily forget that they are based on a long political struggle infused with a strong mixture of social democracy and the women’s movement.

Society’s relationship to new arrivals is shaky, inconsistent, and, in a poor sense, subject to negotiation. Emotionally-charged descriptions — the unaccompanied refugee children, the undocumented, the diffuse refugee concept, and so on — reveal an anxiety about discussing the problem, which quite a few of us will, sooner or later, be confronted with in schools, in the health system, or on the street.

Instead of admitting to the radically altered conditions in schools, for example, and around peoples’ ability to support themselves, we instead talk about social exclusion. The essence of the debate in the media is seldom about how things actually look, but rather about how they should be, and this imagined reality is then formulated into political rhetoric, journalism, and information disseminated to the public and workers.

In our ambition to be compassionate and sympathetic — good ambitions! — we’ve created a special sort of being: the more or less immature newcomer. One can still hear people speak about “our immigrants” as if they were pets or birds that one feeds in the park. A benevolent perspective permeates integration policies and gives satisfaction to those who help and want to be friendly.

But still no one has added up the costs for all the operations, activities, and projects which have been started to provide support, but there must now be so much collective experience from various attempts to help people become self-sufficient and incorporated into society that it’s now possible to explain why so many are still living on public assistance. It is that knowledge and insight which can take us forward. Most people with experience in this area can probably attest to the fact that discrimination is not the main problem.

For those of us who grew up in the left movement of the 1970s, it was natural to embrace prevailing views among journalists and sociologists and other academics regarding the well meaning principles behind caring for others, along with the emphasis on social support for individuals who were in a tough spot or found themselves at a disadvantage. We wanted to express our solidarity.

Can it be that that solidarity within the sphere of public authorities was transformed to self-reinforcing good deeds — that the more we believe that we need help, the more services that are provided — at the same time as those who seek help from society live under different conditions and values than before?

Tens of thousands of public employees spend their days dealing with integration issues, both on the micro- and macro-levels. Why then, is it so anxiety-ridden to talk about the unfortunate circumstances that actually exist? All these people sitting in meetings, participating in projects, getting paid for the work they do, going through training programmes and so on. Does it lead anywhere? Are Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö less segregated cities today than they were 20 years ago?

By systematically dividing up the population, with immigrants as victims of a system created by the natives, a number of fictional clashes are created. These illusory elements are strengthened by the continuing emphasis that it’s the (media) portrayals of unacceptable conditions which are negative and not the conditions themselves.

When the new district head of Rosengård in Malmö takes up her post and says that the most important thing is to change the area’s image, there is an immediate credibility problem: why devote so many resources to the people living there when it’s just like any other place?

And is the media portrayal worse than reality? Journalism is more likely to have a tendency to seek out bright spots expressly to avoid looking prejudiced. The current crop of bosses within Sweden’s social services took part in public debates when they were younger, but social workers have since remained silent for a long time about development conditions and power structures in troubled neighbourhoods. And when teachers in Malmö started speaking on the record last spring about inadequate teaching conditions, it was a long, pent up silence which finally broke.

After the death of solidarity, we’ve ended up with inflationary goodness rooted in a middle class, which never really needs to deal with the consequences of its moralizing view of those with bad experiences and therefore the wrong views. Structural benevolence dominates. But if people don’t get jobs, it’s often not because they immigrated, but because they lack the training and competence for the job in question.

“Ill fares the land” is the title of the last book that historian Tony Judt managed to publish before he died in early August in New York of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). It’s an educational plea for social democracy — a genuine social democracy — and a contemporary description of the left’s wandering out of the meaninglessness of identity politics. The title can also be give rise to a Swedish interpretation: “illfare” as opposed to “wellfare”; a society which gives up on notions of equality and bows to special demands and the rights of disparate groups.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

U.S. District Judge Strikes Down Military Ban on Gays

A federal judge in Southern California declared the U.S. military’s ban on openly gay service members unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment rights of gay and lesbians.

U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips granted a request for an injunction halting the government’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for gays in the military.

But government lawyers argued Phillips lacked the authority to issue a nationwide injunction and the issue should be decided by Congress.

[Return to headlines]


Unknown said...

about the pakistani christian slaves: what the hell is wrong with the christian world? why do christians in the western world silence with so much brutality aimed at christian minorities in the "tolerant" muslim world?
as an israeli i wish the best for these people, but i do understand they will never live peacefully without strong support from the outside.