Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20101010

Financial Crisis
»Britain’s Coping Classes at Breaking Point
»George Soros Warns China of Global ‘Currency War’
»School System to Get Muslim Holiday
»The Declaration of War That Went Unnoticed
Europe and the EU
»Geert Wilders Endures Churchill’s Burden
»UK: Chicken McHalal: McDonald’s Denied Using Halal Meat… Now it Admits Meat is in One of Its Most Popular Meals
»UK: Why is Atheist Nick Clegg Considering Sending His Son to the Same Exclusive Catholic School as the Blairs?
North Africa
»Egyptian State Security Behind Anti-Church Demonstrations
Israel and the Palestinians
»Lattes, Beach Barbecues (And Dodging Missiles) In the World’s Biggest Prison Camp
Middle East
»Iraq: Final Betrayal of the Red Caps: Useless Radios, Not Enough Ammo…
South Asia
»Indonesia’s Changing Face of Terrorism
»UK Hostage Linda Norgrove ‘Killed by Vest Bomb’
»Binyam Mohamed Can Stay in Britain — But He Wants it Kept Secret: Former Detainee Argues Reporting Story Amounts to ‘Torture’
»India Trade Deal With EU Will Allow Thousands of Immigrants Into Britain
Culture Wars
»Gay-Bashers Thrive in Modern-Day Netherlands
»Obama’s Labor Secretary Tells La Raza Constitution Protects “Our People”
»Amil Imani: What is Islam?

Financial Crisis

Britain’s Coping Classes at Breaking Point

The “coping classes” increasingly are struggling with the responsibility of looking after two generations, the equality watchdog says. Without action now, the “burden” of caring for older relatives will destroy the “bond of affection” at the heart of family life, the Equality and Human Rights Commission says.

The warning comes in a 700-page report that forms the first comprehensive survey of disadvantage and discrimination across Britain. While the country today is more tolerant than in 1970, society is still not fair for many people, it says. The economic crisis and the Government’s proposed spending cuts threaten to make inequality worse, it says. The report, How Fair is Britain?, finds: Progress at narrowing the pay gap between men and women has “stalled”. While there has been substantial improvement over the past 30 years, momentum has “ground to a halt”. Women working full-time earn 16.4 per cent less than men. The white working classes are missing out on good jobs compared with other ethnic groups, with Chinese and Indian men nearly twice as likely to find professional work.

Unemployment among ethnic minorities costs the economy almost £8.6 billion a year in benefits and lost revenue from taxes. Half of Muslim men and three quarters of Muslim women are unemployed. The country has a strong sense of tolerance and fair play. However, racism and religious prejudice are increasing, while hostility towards immigration has grown.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

George Soros Warns China of Global ‘Currency War’

Mr Soros, the hedge fund manager best known as the man who broke the Bank of England” after he made a billion betting against the value of Sterling on Black Wednesday in 1992, said the China had created a “lopsided currency” system. He criticised China for deliberately keeping the yuan — its currency — low in order to keep exports cheap, which is hurting US competitors.

Mr Soros told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that China had a “huge advantage” over international competitors because it can control the value of its currency. He said China could also influence the value of other world currencies because they have a “chronic trade surplus”, which means the Chinese have a lot of foreign currencies. “They control not only their own currency but actually the entire global currency system,” he said. Writing in the Financial Times, Mr Soros added: “Whether it realizes it or not, China has emerged as a leader of the world. If it fails to live up to the responsibilities of leadership, the global currency system is liable to break down and take the global economy with it.”


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


School System to Get Muslim Holiday

As a Muslim and a high school senior at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, 17-year-old Dunia Kassay faces a tough choice every year on Islamic holy days: go to school or stay home to be with family and friends.

If she stays home, Kassay says, she will be forced to play catch-up and make up her school assignments. But if she goes to school, she will be neglecting what she feels is her religious obligation on holidays such as Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting.

“It’s really conflicting,” Kassay said. “Instead of fasting for a month and enjoying this really big day, eating and going to family’s houses, it’s kind of like, ‘Oh, hey, guys, I’ve got to go do my homework.’ “

But beginning next year, Cambridge public schools will attempt to make it easier for Muslim students to honor their highest holy days.

In a move that school officials believe is the first of its kind in the state, Cambridge will close schools for one Muslim holiday each year beginning in the 2011-2012 school year.

The school will either close for Eid al-Fitr or Eid al-Adha, also known as the Festival of Sacrifice, depending on which holiday falls within the school year. If both fall within the school calendar, the district will close for only one of the days.

The school district’s decision, announced last month, was made as the national discussion about Islam continues, fueled by a Mosque proposal two blocks from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Florida preacher Terry Jones’s threat to burn a Koran. The discussion has also touched local schools, as Wellesley school officials drew criticism recently for a video that showed sixth-grade students kneeling during a prayer service at a Boston mosque during a field trip in May.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

The Declaration of War That Went Unnoticed

Here’s something important: The Muslim Brotherhood’s leader has endorsed anti-American jihad and a view virtually identical to al-Qaida’s ideology. Since the Brotherhood is the main opposition in Egypt and Jordan and the most powerful group in Muslim communities of Europe and North America, this is serious stuff


In August 1996, al-Qaida declared war on America, the West, Christians and Jews. Nobody important paid much attention. Almost exactly five years later, September 11 forced them to notice. Let it be said that in September 2010 the Muslim Brotherhood, a group with 100 times more activists than al-Qaida, issued its declaration of war. What remains is the history of the future.

           — Hat tip: SF[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Geert Wilders Endures Churchill’s Burden

Geert Wilders is currently on trial, accused of hate speech and facing up to one year in prison. The “hate speech” is, at least in part, his vocally recognizing the threat of fundamental Islam and its correlation with National Socialism.

It would certainly not be right to say that all Muslims are evil zealots bent on suicide-bombing infidels, just as it would be wrong to say that all Nazis would have dropped pellets in the gas chambers at Dachau. And despite the popular opinion of his detractors, Wilders has never made such broad and irresponsible claims; Islamic apologists just make that inference because they so desperately want to believe that he is an intolerant bigot. In truth, Wilders has never said, “Muslims are evil like Nazis.” He merely professes that Islam, as a political philosophy, is very much like National Socialism. And more observant students of history and politics would not call that “hate speech.” Most of them would just call it “the truth.” Though Islam sprang from the well of Judeo-Christian principles, it was cultivated by intolerance and blossomed through violent conquest. It establishes strict social order and economic strictures. All who subscribe to the ideology are bound to follow orders unconditionally, and any failure to comply with its doctrine is punishable by imprisonment, violence, or death. And both Nazism and Islam have central, nearly deified figures who used fear, deception, and violence to achieve their respective levels of conquest. To recognize the correlation between Islamism and National Socialism does not take a stretch of the imagination. Given the blatant similarities between the two ideologies, Geert Wilders’ unheeded calls to recognize the Islamic threat bring to mind the lamentably ignored warnings about Nazism from perhaps the greatest leader of the twentieth century, a man without whom Western democracies may have collapsed. Winston Churchill succinctly heralded the evils and intentions of Nazi Germany long before the blitzkrieg against Poland plunged the world into global conflict and despair. And like with Wilders, Churchill’s voice was muffled by the rhetoric of the sightless pacifists in Western societies. The threats that Churchill and Wilders describe are almost identical. In 1934, when speaking of the dangers of Nazi Germany, Churchill spoke of a people “in the grip of a group of ruthless men, preaching a gospel of intolerance and racial pride, unrestrained by law, by parliament, or by public opinion.” If we substitute the word “Islamic” in place of “racial” in the previous sentence, would this not perfectly mirror Wilders’ description of the many devout Islamic theocracies in the Middle East? He speaks of the Nazis as “being taught from childhood to think of war as a glorious exercise and death in battle as the noblest fate for a man.” If we substitute the term “jihad” in place of “war” in the previous sentence, wouldn’t this be very much like the Islamic indoctrination of children that Wilders descibes? It would certainly encapsulate the meaning of the explicit instruction of the Quran, Surah 9:111, which reads, “They shall fight in the way of Allah and shall slay and be slain … for that is the supreme triumph.” To further the parallel, Churchill has even said of Islam, “No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith.” He would have likely described Nazism as “militant and proselytizing” as well. Had Islamic theocracies been consolidating their power in a threatening manner in his time, he likely would have spoken out against them, too. And it probably would have sounded a lot like what Wilders says today.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Chicken McHalal: McDonald’s Denied Using Halal Meat… Now it Admits Meat is in One of Its Most Popular Meals

The admission comes three weeks after the company categorically denied to this newspaper that it used any halal meat. Now McDonald’s has revealed that the firm that supplies its poultry, Cargill, produces halal chicken at one of its abattoirs.

In a statement to The Mail on Sunday, McDonald’s said: ‘As a result of your enquiries, our investigation has confirmed that some halal chicken has entered our supply chain without our knowledge, and we apologise to our customers for this.

‘While is it not a quality issue, halal chicken is outside of our specification. We have received assurances from Cargill that halal meat production from this abattoir has now stopped.’

McDonald’s says all the chicken in its restaurants comes from poultry which has been stunned before slaughter. Meanwhile, Asda, Britain’s second-largest supermarket chain, has admitted that much of its lamb and chicken is slaughtered according to Islamic ritual.

A company source said: ‘It’s fair to say that most lamb is halal and I would say half of the chicken is halal.’ Islamic law requires Muslims to slaughter animals by slitting their throat while reciting an Arabic prayer which translates as: ‘In the name of Allah, who is the greatest.’

The animal is required to be conscious but moderate Muslim groups allow it to be stunned before the throat is slit. Both McDonald’s and Asda made their admissions after our investigation traced the abattoirs where they source their meat.

In the case of McDonald’s, a Muslim meat industry expert, who did not want to be identified, revealed that the fast-food firm sources its chicken from the Sun Valley abattoir in Hereford, which is owned by Cargill.

The abattoir is certified by the Halal Food Authority (HFA) to sell chicken that is suitable for Muslims. A spokesman for Cargill said halal-slaughtering at Sun Valley had now stopped.

Some of Asda’s abattoirs were tracked down by using the slaughterhouses’ registration number. All licensed abattoirs are given a unique code by the Food Standards Agency, which is displayed on the labels of fresh meat products in supermarkets.

When the registration code is entered into a consumer website called Tracing Paper, it reveals the name and address of the abattoir. Using the website, Asda’s Lamb Escalopes, priced at £4.66, with the registration code UK 4071 EC, were traced to the Dunbia abattoir in Preston.

Dunbia said that all its animals were stunned before slaughter. Asda’s Smart Price Chicken Breast Fillets — with the registration UK 4633 EC — were traced to an abattoir in Brierley Hill, West Midlands, belonging to Faccenda, the country’s second-biggest chicken producer.

The HFA said Faccenda had been certified to sell halal poultry. Faccenda said in a statement: ‘Faccenda Group fully complies with all current EU legislation. This includes the use of effective stunning.’

Asda said: ‘It’s our policy that all animals used for Asda brand products, halal or non-halal, are stunned.’ Food author Yvonne Bishop-Weston said: ‘There’s increasing demand from the public to know where and how their food is produced, and that includes the method of slaughter.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Why is Atheist Nick Clegg Considering Sending His Son to the Same Exclusive Catholic School as the Blairs?

Nick Clegg is considering sending his eldest son to one of Britain’s leading Catholic state schools — despite both his atheism and his party’s opposition to faith schools.

The Deputy Prime Minister faces accusations of ­hypocrisy after he and his Catholic wife Miriam were given a private tour of the London Oratory, where Tony Blair controversially sent his sons.

Headmaster David McFadden told The Mail on Sunday that he believed his school would be a ‘natural choice’ for the couple, who were ‘happy with what they saw’ ­during their tour last week.

The news that the Liberal Democrat leader is ‘very keen’ on the elite school for his nine-year-old son will dismay many within his party, which has repeatedly made clear its opposition to faith schools.

In a manifesto pledge that was widely seen as a commitment to dismantling faith schools in their current form, the party vowed to ‘ensure that all faith schools develop an inclusive admissions policy and end unfair discrimin­ation on grounds of faith when recruiting staff’.

Elsewhere, the Lib Dems have said the party would halt ‘the establishment of new schools which select by ability, aptitude or faith’ and said it would introduce ‘policies to reduce radically all existing forms of selection’.

The Cleggs live in Putney, South-West London, where their three sons attend Catholic primary schools. Their nearest Catholic secondary school, less than a mile from their home, is John Paul II in Wimbledon.

A high percentage of its students are from deprived areas and many have English as a second language. Ofsted ranks the school ‘satisfactory’. However, the London Oratory was classed as outstanding — Ofsted’s highest grade — in its most recent inspection.

In the 2009 examinations, 94.5 per cent of pupils attained five or more GCSEs, at Grade C or above, including English and maths. This compared with 50 per cent at John Paul II and a national average of 46.7 per cent.

The school also has a strong record in ­sciences, with 86 per cent of pupils securing at least two GCSEs, Grade C or above, in science subjects.

But it is more than twice as far away from Mr Clegg’s home as John Paul II school.

Mr Clegg revealed his atheism in a radio interview in December 2007. Asked directly on BBC Radio 5 Live ‘Do you believe in God?’, Mr Clegg replied simply: ‘No.’

Later, he said he had ‘enormous respect’ for people with faith and added: ‘I’m married to a Catholic and am committed to bringing my children up as Catholics.

‘However, I myself am not an active believer, but the last thing I would do when talking or thinking about religion is approach it with a closed heart or a closed mind.’

Earlier this year Mr Clegg was accused of discovering religion just in time for the General Election when he claimed that Christian values were central to his party’s policies.

And during the campaign he was photographed attending Sunday worship at an Anglican church in New Malden, Surrey.

A few days later he was spotted at his local Catholic church, Our Lady of Pity And St Simon Stock in Putney, for his eldest son’s first communion.

It later emerged that the boy was recorded on the list of children receiving the sacrament under his Spanish-born mother’s maiden name.

Mr Clegg’s interest in the Oratory will also surprise many within his party, given his recent insistence that faith schools should teach that homosexuality is ‘normal and harmless’.

It prompted a furious response from the Family Education Trust, which accused him of showing a ‘woeful lack of respect for faith schools and totally dis­regarding the deeply held views of parents’.

It added: ‘The vast majority of ­parents do not want their children’s schools to be turned into vehicles to promote positive images of homosexual relationships.’

The London Oratory is linked to one of the most conservative Catholic churches in Britain, the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, popularly known as the Brompton Oratory and controlled by a group of fathers known as Oratorians.

Three years ago the school cancelled plans to raise money for the Terrence Higgins Trust, one of Eur­ope’s most respected Aids charities, because it did not consider it a suitable recipient of charity from a Catholic institution.

Mr McFadden said yesterday that the Cleggs’ eldest son would be ­considered for entry in two years’ time if his parents decide to submit an application.

‘We don’t admit children on the jobs of their parents, but I think most parents who apply to the school do so on the basis of the Catholic nature of the school more than anything else,’ he said.

‘I think his wife seems to be the driving force.’

He added that he believed the ­couple would look at other schools in the area but said: ‘I think it would be a natural choice for them [to come here], yes.

‘They’re just normal parents of Form Five boys who are starting to turn their thoughts to secondary schools.’

Last night a spokesman for the Deputy Prime Minister said: ‘Nick Clegg’s sons go to a local school in South-West London.

‘Miriam and Nick have always refused to turn the issue of their children’s education into a political football.

‘He and Miriam are currently considering a number of schools for their eldest son but no decision has yet been made.’

The Oratory, along with other ­voluntary-aided schools, previously conducted interviews with the parents of prospective pupils and their children to determine the depth of the religious faith, which led to accusations of ‘covert selection’.

However, a change in the law ended the practice and the Oratory — which does not require both parents to be Catholics — now asks for references from parish priests and demands that parents complete a stringent ‘religious inquiry form’.

The four-page document requests details of how frequently the ­prospective pupils and their parents attend Mass and holy days of obli­gation.

The application form questions how long they have lived in a particular parish and whether they ­worship weekly, fortnightly, monthly, occasionally, rarely or never.

It also asks ‘How does your parish priest know your child?’ and ‘How does your parish priest know you?’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egyptian State Security Behind Anti-Church Demonstrations

by Mary Abdelmassih

(AINA) — The recent mounting attack by Muslim fundamentalists on the Coptic Church and its head Pope Shenouda III, accusing him of causing sectarian tensions and calling for his “disposal”, is seen by some as a sign that matters “got out of hand” and that Egypt is heading towards a catastrophe, while others see the “steady hand of the State Security agents” directing all players like marionettes in a play written and directed by them, to target the Christian minority and achieve political gains for the Regime at the same time.

In the last month various fundamentalist groups held ten demonstrations, each after coming out of mosques following Friday prayers, against the 86-year-old ailing Coptic Pontiff, in which he was accused of being a US agent, an abductor and torturer of female Muslim converts from Christianity (AINA 9-18-2010), of stockpiling weapons in monasteries and churches to carry out war against Muslims, and of plans to divide Egypt to create a Coptic State (AINA 9-22-2010).

The latest in the series of demonstrations was on October 8, when nearly 500 Salafis (those who follow the ways of the first Muslims) staged a protest in front of the Ibrahim Mosque in Alexandria, after Friday prayers. They called again for the release of Muslim women allegedly held against their will by churches and also for the trial of Father Bishoy, secretary of the Holy Synod, for his comments questioning the authenticity of the Quran. Their litany of demands included calls for searching monasteries and churches to look for weapons, as well issuing threats such as “Shenouda, just wait, we will dig your grave with our own hands” and “Islamic, Islamic, Egypt will remain Islamic.” They called on Christians to dispose of Shenouda before things get worse and for a boycott of Coptic businesses. Photos of the Pope were burnt in effigy and hit with shoes (video).

The mounting tensions between Muslims and Christians aim to foment havoc ahead of crucial political landmarks, from the People’s Assembly elections slated for November 29 to the presidential elections next year. Many recall the demonstrations staged against the Coptic Church in Alexandria in advance of 2005 parliamentary elections, allegedly instigated by the Muslim Brotherhood to spoil the chances of Coptic candidates of being elected.

The role of state security during these demonstrations was widely criticized. Outspoken government critic, Ibrahim Eissa, who was editor of the independent al-Dustour newspaper until he was sacked last week, criticized the role of the State Security. In an article dated September 27, Eissa said that thousands of Salafi Muslims go out demonstrating against the Coptic Pope and the Church believing they are on a Jihadi mission for the sake of Allah and at the same time “knowing quite well that State Security will not touch them, since demonstrations are directed against the Pope and not the President, the Church and not the inheritance issue [Gamal Mubarak as successor of his father]. “Those who go out in Jihad against ‘inheritance’, democracy and election fraud are beaten mercilessly by security forces but those who go out to incite sectarian violence between Muslims and Christians believe that Allah is with them, and that they are the friends and ‘buddies’ of the police and the State Security.”

In an interview with state-owned TV Channel “Al Hayat el Yom” on September 27, Pope Shenouda expressed his concern about the ongoing situation. “Matters have become very, very, very sensitive,” He said. “I try to pacify my people, but I fear they may lose this peace, because of too many incitements.” The defiant Pope lashed out at the role played by the media and the instigators, who have an effect on the masses, causing hatred between Muslims and Christians and between the Church and the State. He defended his silence by saying: “Our silence does not mean that we do not have an answer to what is said about us, we have a strong response. But we do not want to add fuel to the fire, and we prefer silence. However our silence should not be used to cause more incitement and insults. No. this matter is unacceptable and is not for the good of the country and its image.”

Enraged Copts vowed to stage sit-ins to protest the fabricated accusations levied against their Pope and the church, “which have gone beyond description and imagination and has never happened before in the history of Egypt,” said Coptic activist Dr. Fawzy Hermina. A demonstration was organized for October 6 in the Coptic Cathedral in Cairo during the Pope’s weekly Wednesday sermon.

On October 3rd a statement issued by an unknown organization naming itself “Front of Islamic Egypt” warned Copts to stay at home with their wives and children as their would be a bloody confrontation on Wednesday.. This organization’s statement was the second in the series, the first of which promised the Copts a blood bath.

The Coptic Church issued a statement asking for no sit-ins inside the Cathedral. The Wednesday sermon was attended by more than 10,000 Copts “to show support to our Pope and to show fundamentalists that we are not cowards, and they cannot intimidate us,” said a Coptic family who attended the sermon. State Security was present around the Cathedral and blocked all roads leading to the venue.

According to Magdi Khalil, head of the Middle East Freedom Forum, who is an authority on Fundamentalist movements, “Fundamentalist movements have a deep-rooted hatred to all that is non-Muslim, and they are ready to do anything and commit any crime against non-Muslims, especially Jews and Christians.” Security and intelligence agencies managed these movements before and after President Sadat’s assassination by them, and used them for violence against the Copts in the seventies, are using the same mechanisms to steer their anger in the same direction again.”

He believes that security authorities are ‘killing two birds with one stone’ namely directing, under their guidance, the excess violence present in these movements towards the Copts, away from the Regime as Sadat did, secondly to distract the Egyptians away from certain important issues such as preparation for transfer of power (between Mubarak and his son) and the upcoming elections. “Besides they want to discipline the Copts, whose voices became louder from the standpoint of security services” according to Khalil.

“The Pope hinted in his recent interviews with state-owned TV that Copts understand the game played by security and he wondered out loud where the national security is from all what is happening,” Khalil said, “which is a clear accusation that the security and intelligence services run the whole game.”

Also implicating security was Coptic activist Dr. Hermina, who said “The Regime is presenting the Church and the Pope as a scapegoat on a gold platter to these neo-Wahhabis in order to appease them.”

Outspoken Activist Wagih Yacoub confirmed the complicity of security in these demonstrations. “If they want, they can stop these demonstrations immediately as they did with oppositions groups of ‘Kefaya’ and ‘6th April’,” he said. “Besides, Security wants to sew fear in Copts of what could come if fundamentalists took over control of the country, which puts them in a good bargaining position with the Church regarding support for future election and succession plans.”

On October 5, in a jaddress to the Nation on the occasion of 37th anniversary of the 1973 war between Egypt and Israel, Mubarak spoke about preserving national unity among both Muslims and Christians. “National unity constitutes a red line that I will allow no one to cross,” Mubarak warned. “Those who incite sectarian division must know they are not above the law. They must know we will thwart their attempts to drag religious and intellectual symbols into their conspiracies.” But only three days later, despite the President’s warnings, the tenth demonstration was held in Alexandria with the presence of the head of Alexandria State Security.

           — Hat tip: Mary Abdelmassih[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Lattes, Beach Barbecues (And Dodging Missiles) In the World’s Biggest Prison Camp

Perhaps it is callous of me to be so self-indulgent, but I think I at least deserve the coffee. I would be having a stiff drink instead, if only the ultra-Islamic regime hadn’t banned alcohol with a harsh and heavy hand.

Just an hour ago I was examining a 90ft-deep smuggling tunnel, leading out of the Gaza Strip and into Egypt. This excavation, within sight of Egyptian border troops who are supposed to stop such things, is — unbelievably — officially licensed by the local authority as a ‘trading project’ (registration fee £1,600).

It was until recently used for the import of cattle, chocolate and motorcycles (though not, its owner insists, for munitions or people) and at its peak earned more than £30,000 a day in fees.

But business has collapsed because the Israelis have relaxed many of their restrictions on imports, and most such tunnels are going out of business. While I was there I heard the whine of Israeli drones and the thunder of jet bombers far overhead.

Then, worryingly soon after I left, the area was pulverised with high explosive. I don’t know if the Israeli air force waited for me to leave, or just walloped the tunnels anyway.

The Jewish state’s grasp of basic public relations is notoriously bad. But the Israeli authorities certainly know I am here. I am one of only four people who crossed into the world’s most misrepresented location this morning.

Don’t, please, accuse of me of complacency or denying the truth. I do not pretend to know everything about Gaza. I don’t think it is a paradise, or remotely normal. But I do know for certain what I saw and heard.

There are dispiriting slums that should have been cleared decades ago, people living on the edge of subsistence. There is danger. And most of the people cannot get out.

But it is a lot more complicated, and a lot more interesting, than that. In fact, the true state of the Gaza Strip, and of the West Bank of the Jordan, is so full of paradoxes and surprises that most news coverage of the Middle East finds it easier to concentrate on the obvious, and leave out the awkward bits.

Which is why, in my view, politicians and public alike have been herded down a dead end that serves only propagandists and cynics, and leaves the people of this beautiful, important part of the world suffering needlessly.

For instance, our Prime Minister, David Cameron, recently fawned on his Islamist hosts in Turkey by stating Gaza was a ‘prison camp’. This phrase is the official line of the well-funded Arab and Muslim lobby, who want to make sure Israel is seen by the world as a villainous oppressor.

Well, Israeli soldiers can and do act with crude brutality. Israeli settlers can and do steal Arab water and drive Arabs off their land. Israeli politicians are often coarse and insensitive.

The treatment of Israel’s Arab citizens is one of the great missed opportunities of history, needlessly mean and short-sighted. The seizure of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 were blunders, made worse by later folly.

But if you think Israel is the only problem, or that Israelis are the only oppressors hereabouts, think again. Realise, for a start, that Israel no longer rules Gaza. Its settlements are ruins.

No Israelis can be found inside its borders. And, before you say ‘but Israel controls the Gaza border’, look at a map. The strip’s southern frontier — almost as hard to cross as the Israeli boundary — is with Egypt. And Cairo is as anxious as Israel to seal in the Muslim militants of Hamas.

Gaza was bombed on the day I arrived in retaliation for a series of rocket strikes on Israel, made by Arab militants. Those militants knew this would happen, but they launched their rockets anyway. Many Gazans hate them for this.

One, whom I shall call Ibrahim, told me how he had begged these maniacs to leave his neighbourhood during Israel’s devastating military attack nearly two years ago. His wife was close to giving birth.

He knew the Israelis would quickly seek out the launcher, and that these men would bring death down on his home. But the militants sneered at his pleading, so he shoved his wife into his car and fled.

Moments after he passed the first major crossroads, a huge Israeli bomb burst on the spot where his car had been. The diabolical power of modern munitions is still visible, in the ruins of what was once a government building.

It looks as if a giant has chewed and smashed it, and then come back and stamped on it. If you can imagine trying to protect a pregnant woman from such forces, then you can begin to understand how complex it is living here, where those who claim to defend you bring death to your door.

For the Islamist rocket-firers are also the government here, supported by Iran and others who care more for an abstract cause than they do for real people. They claim that their permanent war with Israel is for the benefit of the Palestinian Arabs. But is it?

Human beings will always strive for some sort of normal life. They do this even when bombs are falling and demagogues raging. Even when, as in Gaza, there is no way out and morality patrols sweep through restaurants in search of illicit beer and women smoking in public or otherwise affronting the 14th Century values of Hamas.

So I won’t give the name of the rather pleasant establishment where young women, Islamic butterflies mocking the fanatics’ strict dress code with bright make-up and colourful silken hijabs, chattered as they inhaled apple-scented smoke from their water-pipes.

Their menfolk, nearby, watched football on huge, flat-screen televisions. Nor will I say where I saw the Gazan young gathering for beach barbecues beneath palm-leaf umbrellas.

Of course this way of life isn’t typical. But it exists, and it shows the ‘prison camp’ designation is a brain-dead over-simplification. If it is wrong for the rich to live next door to the desperate — and we often assume this when wecriticise Israel — then what about Gaza’s wealthy, and its Hamas rulers?

They tolerate this gap, so they are presumably as blameworthy as the Israelis whose comfortable homes overlook chasms of poverty. Then there is the use of the word ‘siege’.

Can anyone think of a siege in human history, from Syracuse to Leningrad, where the shops of the besieged city have been full of Snickers bars and Chinese motorbikes, and where European Union and other foreign aid projects pour streams of cash (often yours) into the pockets of thousands? Once again, the word conceals more than it reveals.

In Gaza’s trapped, unequal society, a wealthy and influential few live in magnificent villas with sea views and their own generators to escape the endless power cuts.

Gaza also possesses a reasonably well-off middle class, who spend their cash in a shopping mall — sited in Treasure Street in Gaza City, round the corner from another street that is almost entirely given over to shops displaying washing machines and refrigerators.

Siege? Not exactly. What about Gaza’s ‘refugee camps’. The expression is misleading. Most of those who live in them are not refugees, but the children and grandchildren of those who fled Israel in the war of 1948.

All the other refugees from that era — in India and Pakistan, the Germans driven from Poland and the Czech lands, not to mention the Jews expelled from the Arab world — were long ago resettled.

Unbelievably, these people are still stuck in insanitary townships, hostages in a vast struggle kept going by politicians who claim to care about them. These places are not much different from the poorer urban districts of Cairo, about which nobody, in the Arab world or the West, has much to say.

It is not idle to say that these ‘camps’ should have been pulled down years ago, and their inhabitants rehoused. It can be done. The United Arab Emirates, to their lasting credit, have paid for a smart new housing estate with a view of the Mediterranean.

It shows what could happen if the Arab world cared as much as it says it does about Gaza. Everyone in Gaza could live in such places, at a cost that would be no more than small change in the oil-rich Arab world’s pocket.

But the propagandists, who insist that one day the refugees will return to their lost homes, regard such improvements as acceptance that Israel is permanent — and so they prefer the squalor, for other people.

Those who rightly condemn the misery of the camps should ask themselves whose fault it really is. As so often in the Arab world, the rubbish-infested squalor of the streets conceals clean, private quarters, not luxurious and sometimes basic, but out of these places emerge each day huge numbers of scrubbed, neatly-uniformed children, on their way to schools so crammed that they have two shifts.

I wish I was sure these young people were being taught the principles of human brotherhood and co-existence. But I doubt it. On a wall in a street in central Gaza, a mural — clearly displayed with official approval — shows an obscene caricature of an Israeli soldier with a dead child slung from his bayonet.

Next to it is written in Arabic ‘Child Hunter’. Other propaganda, in English, is nearby. My guide is embarrassed by this racialist foulness. I wonder how so many other Western visitors have somehow failed to mention it in their accounts.

I was still wondering about this as I travelled to the short distance to the West Bank, where Israel still partly rules. I was the recipient of hospitality in many Arab homes — a level of generosity that should make Western people ashamed of their cold, neighbour-hating cities.

And once again I saw the outline of a society, slowly forming amid the wreckage, in which a decent person might live, work, raise children and attempt to live a good life. But I also saw and heard distressing things.

One — which I feel all of us should be aware of — is the plight of Christian Arabs under the rule of the Palestinian Authority. More than once I heard them say: ‘Life was better for us under Israeli rule.’

One young man, lamenting the refusal of the Muslim-dominated courts to help him in a property dispute with squatters, burst out: ‘We are so alone! All of us Christians feel so lonely in this country.’

This conversation took place about a mile from the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, where tourists are given the impression that the Christian religion is respected. Not really.

I was told, in whispers, of the unprintable desecration of this shrine by Palestinian gunmen when they seized the church in 2002 — ‘world opinion’ was exclusively directed against Israel. I will not name the people who told me these things.

I have also decided not to name another leading Christian Arab who told me of how his efforts to maintain Christian culture in the West Bank had met with official thuggery and intimidation.

My guide and host reckons there are 30,000 Christians in the three neighbouring municipalities of Bethlehem, Beit-Sahour and Beit- Jala. Soon there will be far fewer.

He has found out that 2,000 emigrated between 2001 and 2004, a process which has not stopped. What is most infuriating about this is that many Christians in Britain are fed propaganda blaming this on the Israelis.

Arabs can oppress each other, without any help from outside. Because the Palestinian cause is a favourite among Western Leftists, they prefer not to notice that it is largely an aggressive Islamic cause.

And in this part of the world, political correctness does not exist. Picture yourself on a comfortable sofa in an apartment in a West Bank town. Nearby runs the infamous, absurd, barrier dividing the Arab world from Israel.

Think about this wall. I acknowledge that it is hateful and oppressive — dividing men from their land, and (in one case) cutting across the playground of a high school. But I have concluded that it is a civilised response to the suicide bombing that led to its being built.

My host, a thoughtful family man who has spent years in Israeli prisons but is now sick of war, has been talking politics and history. His wife, though present, remains unseen.

Suddenly he begins to speak about the Jews. He utters thoughts that would not have been out of place in Hitler’s Germany. This is what he has been brought up to believe and what his children’s schools will pass on to them.

The heart sinks at this evidence of individual sense mixed up with evil and stupidity. It makes talk of a ‘New Middle East’ seem like twaddle. So, are we to despair? I am not so sure.

Not far from this spot there is an unmarked turning at a roundabout on the route back into Jerusalem. It’s an unnumbered road running south from Route 437. About a hundred yards along, it is barred by concrete blocks. It is a ghost road.

If it ever opens, it will be part of a network of secure roads and tunnels that would link Nablus and Ramallah in the northern West Bank to Bethlehem and Hebron in the south.

It would enable people to do the normal things they want to do — visit relatives, go to work, go shopping. It would not make Arab Palestine a state. It has nothing to do with the issue of Jewish settlements in the West Bank — a problem made worse by Barack Obama’s call for a moratorium, a demand even the Palestinian leadership had never made.

But it might help create a society in which a happy life was possible for many people. I suspect it is nearly finished. It is not the only sign that the human yearning for normality is strong. In Ramallah, unofficial capital of Arab Palestine, it is a pleasure to visit the busy streets around Manara Square at twilight, with the cafes and the shops invitingly bright.

A few years ago, the bullet-torn corpses of ‘collaborators’ were displayed here. Now the displays are of smart clothes — but not as smart as those in Ramallah’s opulent shopping mall, stocked with designer goods, and with camel rides for the children outside.

Even in notorious Hebron in the south, famous for its massacres and its aggressive Israeli enclave, the mall culture is in evidence three miles from this seat of tension. And on the road from Hebron to Jerusalem stands a cut-price supermarket so cheap that Israeli settlers and Palestinians mingle happily at the cash tills.

I might add that an Arab intellectual, sitting in a Gaza cafe, recalled for me the happy days when Gazan women used to wear short skirts (now they all wear shrouds and veils) and you could get a beer by the beach.

But perhaps best of all was the comment of the Arab Israeli who mourned for ‘the good old days before we had peace’. It may well be that no solution to the problem of Israel is possible, and that it will all end, perhaps decades from now, in a nuclear fireball.

But if outside politicians, more interested in their reputations than in the lives of Arabs and Israelis, would only stop their search for a final settlement, might it be that people — left to their own devices — might find a way of living together, a way that was imperfect, but which no longer involved human beings being dissolved into hunks of flying flesh by high explosive?

           — Hat tip: Bewick[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Iraq: Final Betrayal of the Red Caps: Useless Radios, Not Enough Ammo…

…And now, to their families’ fury, the only Iraqis on trial have walked free

The families of six British military policemen killed by an Iraqi mob reacted with outrage yesterday after two men were cleared of the murders.

More than seven years on, the trial collapsed in Baghdad after prosecutors bizarrely asked for the charges to be dropped, admitting the evidence was not strong enough.

John Miller, whose son Simon, 21, was among the dead, said it was a ‘disgrace’ that there had been no public inquiry into the Red Cap massacre while £3.5million has been spent on an investigation into the death of one Iraqi in British Army custody.

‘My son was let down so badly in life, now he has been let down in death,’ said Mr Miller, 59, from Washington, Tyne and Wear.

‘It seems like the Iraqis don’t have a justice system at all. To think 179 British soldiers died in Iraq, what a disgrace. Yet when one of them is killed, they get a public inquiry.’

This is the latest in a series of betrayals of the six and their families.

The Red Caps, who had been training local Iraqi officers, were attacked by a 500-strong crowd in the southern Iraqi town of Majar al-Kabir in June 2003, weeks after Saddam Hussein was toppled.

In an act of tribal vengeance, the mob had been hunting coalition forces and came upon the six Britons in a police station.

The military policemen had been sent into a ‘powder-keg’, unaware that a para unit had been involved in firefights with the mob, or that there was fury over rumours that four locals had been killed during a riot in the town’s market square earlier that morning.

An inquest in 2006 heard that the Red Caps had been given antiquated radios and inadequate ammunition, meaning they could not summon help or defend themselves.

Some of their bodies were found riddled with bullets while others had marks which suggested they had been dragged, tied up or beaten with rifles.

It was not until February this year that eight suspects were taken into custody, only for six to have the charges against them dropped.

The other two, Hamza Hateer and Mussa Ismael al Fartusi, were due to stand trial at Baghdad central criminal court yesterday.

But Chief Justice Baleagh Hamdi Hikmat dismissed the charges after nine witnesses testified that they had not seen the two accused kill any of the men.

Hateer and Fartusi were both freed from custody, but Hateer was referred for further investigation on one charge of stealing a British service weapon.

Shaking his fists in victory outside the courtroom, Fartusi said: ‘Thank God, I’m so happy now.’

The Red Caps’ relatives have been campaigning for justice ever since their deaths. They have seen a public inquiry launched into the 2003 death in Army custody of Iraqi hotel receptionist Baha Mousa, 26. It is still continuing.

Another inquiry into the death of an Iraqi civilian, 19-year-old Hamid Al Sweady, has been announced but not yet begun. He died following a firefight between UK soldiers and Iraqi insurgents at a checkpoint on May 14, 2004.

But sources close to Defence Secretary Liam Fox stonewalled demands for a similar investigation into the Red Caps atrocity.

One said the case was still not over because seven other suspects were still being hunted by the Iraqi authorities. ‘We want to do all we can to assist the Iraqis with that first.’

Reg Keys, whose son Lance Corporal Thomas Keys was among the six killed, said: ‘These lads went into Iraq on a wild goose chase for weapons of mass destruction without the basic tools of their trade.

‘They didn’t have the ammunition to defend themselves. They were let down in life, and today they’ve been let down in death. It’s time for a full public inquiry.’

Mike Aston, 68, of Swadlincote, Derbyshire, whose son Russell was among the dead, said: ‘It has been a charade from the start. There were never going to be convictions, just a public relations exercise. I had hoped that those accused might tell us what happened and I am being denied that.

‘I want to know how my son died. I know he didn’t surrender. He was shot 14 times with a highvelocity rifle. I believe he launched himself at the killers to protect his comrades.

‘I would go to Iraq myself to look for answers but it is a lawless place. I can’t go out there on my own so I have to go through my life bitter and not knowing.’ Tory MP and former infantry commander Patrick Mercer said:

‘Now that the families’ hopes have been dashed with the trial, a inquiry seems only fair in order to let them have some rest.’

Jeffrey Donaldson, a member of the Commons defence select committee, added: ‘Given the circumstances of these horrendous murders and now the release of the accused, there is a compelling reason for this to be examined in greater detail.

‘After all, we had £200million spent on the Saville Inquiry to investigate the actions of the Parachute Regiment (on Bloody Sunday). Why, when the Army are victims, can we not get the money for an inquiry to get justice for their families?’

Before the trial, the families were told they would not be allowed access to court but updates would be emailed to them via the British Embassy in Baghdad and the MoD.

‘We were led to believe the convictions would be a formailty,’ said Mr Miller. ‘We needed to be there. We were denied that, we were denied everything.’

He also attacked the UK government over its handling of the case, saying the relatives heard about the trial’s collapse from the media before the authorities contacted them.

John Hyde — father of another of the six, Lance Corporal Benjamin Hyde, 23 — from Northallerton, North Yorkshire, condemned the trial as a ‘farce’.

He said: ‘ Quite honestly these people just haven’t been in court long enough to be able to prove their innocence, which obviously asks the question why did the judge decide to bring it to court then dismiss it so quickly?’

Byron Long, brother of Corporal Paul Graham Long, 24, fears the campaign for justice will now fade away. He said: ‘There’s nothing we could do now that would get any results. I don’t think this was an actual court case at all — just a formality.’

Tony Hamilton-Jewell, brother of Sergeant Simon Hamilton-Jewell, 41, said: ‘I’m really disappointed, but I always feared nothing would come of this trial.’

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: ‘We know that the families of the six servicemen will be devastated by today’s events and our thoughts remain with them.

‘Seven further arrest warrants remain outstanding and are being actively pursued by the Iraqi authorities. We will continue to do all we can to press for the prosecution of those responsible.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Indonesia’s Changing Face of Terrorism

Muslim militants wearing black masks stormed the tiny police precinct in western Indonesia and unloaded their assault rifles — riddling officers’ bodies with bullets and shining a spotlight on the country’s changing face of terrorism. Extremists, better known for targeting Western nightclubs and hotels, are now going after Indonesia’s state. And for the first time in more than a decade, the army has waded into the fight. “It happened so fast, there was no way to react,” said Irsol, the chief detective at the precinct on Sumatra island, who narrowly escaped the midnight assault by turning off the lights and hiding in the bathroom. By the time the militants had sped off, one of his friends was sprawled on the floor with a hole in his head and 10 others in his arms and chest. Another friend was slumped over his computer, and a third lay motionless in a pool of blood in front of a holding cell. “It was like they were sending a message to police and soldiers everywhere,” said Irsol, who like many Indonesians goes by only one name. Still shaken after the Sept. 22 strike, he said the message was simple: “Watch out … you’re next.” Indonesia, a secular nation with more Muslims than any other in the world, was struck by a massive terrorist attack in 2002, when members of the al-Qaida linked network Jemaah Islamiyah carried out twin suicide bombings on crowded nightclubs on the country’s resort island of Bali. 202 people were killed, many of them foreign tourists.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK Hostage Linda Norgrove ‘Killed by Vest Bomb’

US troops in Afghanistan were seconds from rescuing a UK hostage when she was killed by a vest bomb held or worn by a kidnapper, the BBC understands.

They reached the building where Linda Norgrove, 36, was held and were “very, very close” to her, the BBC was told.

It is understood tribal elders negotiating her release asked Nato not to intervene so they had more time.

David Cameron has said it was right for the special forces to try to rescue the aid worker, from Lewis, Western Isles.

The prime minister said: “Decisions on operations to free hostages are always difficult, but where a British life is in such danger, and where we and our allies can act, I believe it is right to try.”

‘Grave danger’

BBC correspondent Nicholas Witchell said officials had confirmed Ms Norgrove was killed by an explosion, almost certainly a suicide vest, detonated by one of her captors.

He said: “Local tribal elders up in the area of eastern Afghanistan where she was being held — a very wild, lawless part of this country — had been attempting to persuade her captors to free her.

“And indeed [they] had asked Nato not to intervene militarily so they had time to try to secure her release.”

Map of Afghanistan showing Kunar province The area where Ms Norgrove was killed was extremely remote

He added that Afghan security officials had become concerned about the group holding Ms Norgrove, as they were extremists with links to al-Qaeda and not from the mainstream Taliban.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


Binyam Mohamed Can Stay in Britain — But He Wants it Kept Secret: Former Detainee Argues Reporting Story Amounts to ‘Torture’

Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed last night lost a legal bid to prevent The Mail on Sunday from revealing that he has been granted permanent residency in Britain.

The controversial move by the former UK asylum seeker came despite his continued involvement in a series of high-profile legal battles with the Government, claiming that Labour Ministers, MI5 and MI6 were complicit in his illegal detention and alleged torture.

Last night lawyers acting for Ethiopian-born Mr Mohamed,

32, failed to win a High Court injunction preventing the public from knowing that he had been granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

The extraordinary case was brought under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which covers torture.

Mr Mohamed’s lawyers claimed that publicising his right to remain in Britain would amount to inhumane and degrading treatment.

The case comes amid increasing disquiet about the growing practice of allowing asylum seekers to remain anonymous when they argue that they should be allowed to make the UK their permanent home.

Earlier this year the Supreme Court warned against the now ‘widespread phenomenon’ that had allowed many foreign applicants anonymity in immigration cases, including those involving alleged terrorist activities.

It said: ‘At present, the courts are denying the public information which is relevant to that debate, even though the whole system has been created and operated in their name.’

But yesterday, in an emergency hearing lasting 90 minutes, lawyers for Mr Mohamed, headed by QC Hugh Southey, attempted to argue that the torture victim was a special case.

The Mail on Sunday cannot report the evidence presented by Mr Mohamed’s legal team other than to say they argued that allowing it to be revealed would be a breach of his privacy and would amount to ‘inhumane and degrading treatment’.

But after arguments by Mail on Sunday barrister Desmond Browne QC, the former chairman of the Bar Council and one of the country’s most distinguished libel and privacy lawyers, High Court judge Mr Justice Cooke turned down Mr Mohamed’s application and ordered him to pay costs.

Explaining his ruling, Mr ­Justice Cooke said: ‘It is plainly a matter of public interest. The fact is the very identity of this applicant is of importance.

‘The history of the circumstances in which he was taken to Guan­tanamo Bay, his immigration ­status, the alleged complicity of Her Majesty’s Government in what happened at Guantanamo Bay, all raise questions of public interest against which the decision to grant the applicant indefinite leave to remain has to be seen.

‘I cannot say in the circumstances that the applicant is likely to succeed in preventing publi­cation of that matter.’

Mr Mohamed was allowed to come to Britain in 2009, having spent six years as a prisoner after being captured and transported under the CIA’s so-called extraordinary rendition programme, which saw terror suspects secretly moved between interrogation centres in parts of the world with poor human rights records.

He had been arrested in Pakistan in 2002 after attempting to board a flight to Britain using a forged passport and claims he was then transferred between several so-called ‘ghost prisons’ where he was interrogated and tortured.

The US military said that during questioning, Mr Mohamed admitted that he had trained in the Al Farouq Al Qaeda terrorist training camp alongside another Briton, Richard Reid, who attemp­ted to bring down a passenger jet with explosives hidden in his shoes.

It was also alleged that Mr Mohamed was trained to build radioactive dirty bombs and involved in an alleged plot to attack high-rise apartment buildings in the United States.

But he denied these claims, and said his admissions were made under torture and that he had in fact travelled to Afghanistan and Pakistan to overcome drug problems.

He says he was held in ­prisons in Pakistan, Morocco and Afghanistan, and that while he was in Morocco, interrogators tortured him by using scalpels or razor blades repeatedly to cut his penis and chest.

Mr Mohamed was taken from Bagram air base to Guantanamo Bay on September 19, 2004. After the US dropped the case against him, he was allowed to return to Britain in February 2009.

Almost immediately he began proceedings against the British Gov­ern­ment, alleging they had been complicit in his ill-treatment.

In an interview with The Mail on Sunday when he was released, he said: ‘It was obvious the British were feeding them questions about people in London.’

Last night a Home Office spokesman said it did not comment on individual immigration cases.

Freedom has to work both ways, Mr Mohamed Mail on Sunday CommentThe use of super injunctions to keep the public from knowing about matters that might be regarded as controversial is increasing at an alarming rate.

Almost every week some celebrity takes out such an injunction to prevent publication of facts that might cause him shame, damage his reputation or reduce his earning power.

That is quite bad enough. But even more disturbing is the use of such instruments to prevent the media from reporting the workings of Parliament or the courts.

Recently, a large multi-national company even tried to stop The Guardian newspaper reporting a parliamentary question. Now Binyam Mohamed has sought to prevent The Mail on Sunday from reporting that he has been given leave to remain in this country.

This is particularly galling because he owes his release to the diligent actions of an independent Press, not least this newspaper.

He was perfectly happy for us to lay bare the details of the legal battle that secured his liberty — and the activities of Britain’s security services.

The principle that helped to free Binyam Mohamed in the first place — that the actions of the state and the courts in a free society must be open to reasonable scrutiny — applies just as much to him and his immigration status as it does to the British Government and its decisions.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

India Trade Deal With EU Will Allow Thousands of Immigrants Into Britain

Thousands of Indian workers will be allowed into Britain under a new European Union trade deal that threatens to overturn the Coalition’s pledge severely to limit immigration.

A planned “free trade agreement” with India, to be signed this December, will give skilled Indian IT workers, engineers and managers easy passage into Europe in return for European companies gaining access to India’s huge domestic market.

The deal has split some of the most senior figures in the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition. Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, and William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, argue that the EU-India agreement must go ahead because it is worth hundreds of millions of pounds to business. But David Cameron, the Prime Minister, and Theresa May, the Home Secretary, are opposed. They, and other Conservatives, have insisted that the government uphold a high-profile pledge to bring down net immigration, which is currently at 176,000 entrants a year.

“We will bring net migration down to the tens of thousands,” said Mrs May, the Home Secretary, on Wednesday. “Our economy will remain open to the best and the brightest in the world, but it’s time to stop importing foreign labour on the cheap.”

Cabinet talks over the deal begin next week and senior government sources have admitted that “the circle must be squared” to thrash out a government agreement that protects the country from increased immigration without damaging British industry.

The European Commission has asked for comments by the end of October from the Cabinet and other EU governments on a negotiating position that was hammered out with the Indians over the summer.

India has insisted on increased mobility for its skilled workers in return for reduced tariffs on European products and the lifting of some restrictions on businesses bidding for public procurement contracts.

Under the current EU negotiating position, Indians who are skilled professionals will be able to work in any EU country under contract. The UK will be bound by any final EU agreement and British companies will be able to recruit in sectors such as information technology, management consultancy and engineering.

Many Conservative politicians fear the trade deal will undercut the wages of British managers and make a nonsense of a promise to cap immigration from non-EU countries.

Philip Davies, the Conservative MP for Shipley, said: “I am not a big fan of the EU doing trade deals on our behalf. My personal view is that the immigration cap is non-negotiable.”

The UK is usually on the free-trade wing of the EU and British is business is concerned that the country could instead be aligned with more protectionist countries such as France.

David Frost, the director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said companies needed to have the ability to recruit skilled employees from outside Britain. “The UK must maintain its position as a member state that is an advocate of free trade, and we must surrender no ground to protectionism,” he said. “We cannot allow any proposal to improve the UK-India trade relationship to be delayed because of disagreements within Europe over the movement of highly skilled migrants.”

One problem for the Coalition is that the deal struck between Liberal Democrats and Conservatives agrees on both a limit on immigration and on forging deeper ties with India. Damian Green, the immigration minister, has already said that new annual quotas would be flexible enough to allow more Indian businessmen and professionals to move to Britain as trade between the two countries increased.

A Brussels study has predicted that under an EU-wide deal with India, Europe’s economy would grow by £3.9?billion a year.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Gay-Bashers Thrive in Modern-Day Netherlands

By Ezra Levant

If you think Amsterdam is the gay capital of Europe, you’re half-right, but 10 years out of date. Today it’s the gay-bashing capital of Europe.

Because Amsterdam isn’t just gay. Now it’s Muslim, too. A million Moroccans and Turks have immigrated to the Netherlands, and sharia law rules the streets.

If you doubt it, then you haven’t been paying attention. Actually, that’s not fair. Gay-bashing is front-page news only when it’s committed by a straight, white male.

The media is terribly uncomfortable writing about gay-bashing by minorities. It’s the same reason why Canadian feminists are so eerily quiet about honour killings of Muslim girls.

According to an “offender study” by the University of Amsterdam, there were 201 reports of anti-gay violence in that city in 2007 — and researchers believe for every reported case there are as many as 25 unreported ones.. Two thirds of the predators are Muslim youths.

The violence couldn’t be more brazen. It’s not in the back alleys in the dark, it’s in the heart of the city, often in broad daylight. It’s a direct dare to the Dutch government to show who rules the streets.

In 2008, 10 Muslim youths broke into a fashion show, dragged gay model Michael du Pree off the stage and beat him bloody. Last month, several lesbians were hit by beer bottles thrown at their heads as they marched in a parade of thousands to protest violence against gays. There’s a gay community centre in Amsterdam — you’d think that would be safe. Wrong. It’s a target, with home-invasion style beatings. No one is immune. Last year Hugo Braakhuis, the founder of Amdsterdam’s gay pride parade, was attacked.

In 2005, Chris Crain, former editor of America’s leading gay magazine, Washington Blade, was swarmed by seven Moroccan youths. “I was really surprised,” Crain told reporters at the time. “I felt comfortable because it is San Francisco times 10.” Or it used to be.

This didn’t happen all at once. Ten years ago Pim Fortuyn rang the alarm. “I don’t hate Islam,” he said. “I consider it a backward culture.”

He wanted to halt Muslim immigration, at least until those in the country accepted Holland’s liberal values, such as its acceptance of him as an openly gay political leader. “How wonderful that that’s possible. And I’d like to keep it that way..”

Fortuyn was a Marxist professor, a champion of gay rights, women’s rights, liberal drug laws and euthanasia. Yet, because he opposed Muslim immigration, the CBC called him “right wing.”

Fortuyn was assassinated in 2002 by a leftist radical opposed to his views on Islam.

Next came Theo van Gogh, a descendant of artist Vincent van Gogh. He made a movie about Islam’s treatment of women, called Submission.

A 26-year-old Dutch-Moroccan named Mohammed Bouyeri shot him eight times and tried to cut his head off. Then Bouyeri stabbed a knife into van Gogh’s chest with a letter threatening Western governments, Jews, and van Gogh’s collaborator, a liberal Muslim named Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Hirsi Ali was placed under police protection, until a judge ordered her out of her safe house. She now lives in the United States. Fortuyn, van Gogh and Hirsi Ali are gone from Holland, but the Moroccans and Turks aren’t.

Now comes Geert Wilders. Wilders is the leader of the Party for Freedom, the third-most popular party in Holland. The party joined the new government coalition in return for immigration cuts and a ban on burkas, the face-covering shrouds worn by some Muslim women.

His ideas are mainstream enough to become government policy. But this week, Wilders stood trial for “hate crimes” for those very same ideas.

Prosecutors say it’s a crime to compare the Qur’an to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, as Wilders has done, and that he has caused too much of the human emotion called hate.

Mohamed Rabbae supports the prosecution. He’s the chairman of the National Moroccan Council. He wants a judge to order Wilders to apologize. “We are for correcting him,” he said.

Rabbae is for a coerced apology and forced political re-education. And the Associated Press calls Rabbae a moderate.

These days, in Holland, unfortunately that’s true.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Obama’s Labor Secretary Tells La Raza Constitution Protects “Our People”

CNN, MSNBC and the corporate media would have a field day if a government bureaucrat used the term “our people” to reference white people.To add insult to injury, Ms. Hilda Solis said the U.S. Constitution protects illegal “workers.”

[Return to headlines]


Amil Imani: What is Islam?

Whereas democracy is defined as the rule of the people, by the people, for the people, Islam is defined as the rule of Allah, by Allah and his emissaries, for the pleasure of Allah. And when people, out of concern for political correctness or ignorance, describe Islam as a religion of peace, they are, at the very least, guilty of misrepresenting it…

           — Hat tip: Amil Imani[Return to headlines]