Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20101016

Financial Crisis
»Three Strikes and You Are Off Benefits: Coalition Gets Tough on Welfare Cheats — But Will They Make it Stick?
»“He Gave US Order Out of Chaos” — R.I.P. Benoit Mandelbrot, 1924-2010
»Are We Giving Our Soldiers Drugs That May Make Them Kill Themselves?
»China Stakes Claim to S. Texas Oil, Gas
»Exonerated Marine Targets Dem’s House Seat
»New Pakistani Taliban Operative Feared Inside U.S. After Times Square Failure
»Soldier Says Ordered to Delete Fort Hood Videos
»Why Our Republic Hangs by a Thread
»Why the Hard Left of the Democratic Party Could Soon be Running US Security Policy
Europe and the EU
»Church of England is Fascist and Vindictive, Says Bishop Defecting to Rome
»Germany: Teacher Suspended for Serving Pork to Muslim Students
»Ireland: Gardai Investigate Temple Bar Attacks
»Islamic Face-Veil Part of ‘British Way of Life’
»Italy: Jewish Leader Calls for Anti-Holocaust Denial Law
»New Book Exposes Racism Within French Police
»Pope Benedict XVI ‘Says Carla Bruni-Sarkozy Not Welcome at the Vatican’
»Sweden: Two ‘Jihadists’ Charged Over Plot
»Sweet Drains: Hotel Rooms Made From Sewer Pipes Open in Austria (But There Isn’t a Loo!)
»UK: Ali Dizaei is Made to Pay Just £750 of £64,500 Trial Costs… Despite His Three Homes
»UK: Captured on Camera: The Sickening High Five Celebrations of Thugs Who Stamped on Train Passenger’s Face After He Dared to Ask Them to be Quiet
»What Happened to the Holland I Knew?
»Wilders Condemns Dutch Minister’s Dual Nationality
North Africa
»Morocco: ‘Al-Qaeda-Linked’ Drug Ring Busted
Israel and the Palestinians
»Abbas: We Won’t Recognize Israel as Jewish State
Middle East
»Iran: Shoplifter’s Hand to be Amputated
»Lebanon: Young Nasrallah: Iranian Control ‘Axiomatic’
South Asia
»US Soldier Faces Action Over Death of Kidnapped Aid Worker
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Teenage Girl Quits School to Marry Obama’s Half Brother in Kenya
»Germany: Seehofer Tells Youth Wing Multiculturalism is Dead
»Merkel Says German Multicultural Society Has Failed
»Merkel Says German Multiculturalism Has Failed
»Sweden Considers Healthcare for Illegals
»Turkish President Encourages Turks to Integrate in Germany
»Columbus Knew the Dangers of the Muslim Tax Man
»Conrad Black: Court Moderate Muslims, But Treat the Extremists for What They Are
»Exploring the Price Islam’s Critics Pay for Their Examinations
»Muslims, Take a Good Look at Yourselves Too!

Financial Crisis

Three Strikes and You Are Off Benefits: Coalition Gets Tough on Welfare Cheats — But Will They Make it Stick?

Welfare cheats who repeatedly make false claims will lose their benefits altogether under tough new Government rules.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith plans to impose a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ rule that will bar serial cheats from receiving handouts for three years.

He says he wants to send a ‘very strong message’ to false claimants who currently cost the taxpayer more than £5€…billion a year. ‘We need to target benefits at those people who need it the most,’ an aide said.

‘This makes our intentions crystal-clear.’

However, there was confusion last night over whether bogus claimants would really lose all their benefits if caught out three times.

Asked whether the rules would mean that jobless fraudsters would be left with no income, some DWP officials initially insisted that their benefits would be axed ‘completely’.

But a spokeswoman backtracked later, saying any penalty would depend on how much money the claimant had, whether they had a family to support and the seriousness of their welfare abuse.

‘It will be a flexible measure, depending on whether the fraudster has any dependants and the type of the fraud,’ she said.

‘In some cases, fake claimants can be successfully prosecuted but then still carry on receiving some benefits.

‘This measure is designed to hit the professional organised fraudsters the hardest.’


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


“He Gave US Order Out of Chaos” — R.I.P. Benoit Mandelbrot, 1924-2010

There is sad news this morning.

It has yet to be confirmed by the mainstream media, but it seems that Benoit Mandelbrot, the father of fractal geometry and one of the most famous mathematicians of all time, has passed away about a month shy of his 86th birthday. EDIT: The New York Times has confirmed the news.

I had the rare and amazing privilege of hearing Mandelbrot speak when he came to visit my high school about 20 years ago. Even at my science-and-technology high school, most of the students didn’t know much about Mandelbrot, but I’d been fascinated by fractals for years and had brought a copy of his seminal work The Fractal Geometry of Nature for him to autograph, and we chatted for a few minutes. I was a bit starstruck — I was 16 or 17 at the time — but I recall that he asked me what kind of fractal-related work I’d done, and showed genuine interest when I told him that I’d played around a lot with the Mandelbrot Set and some variations on the Sierpinski Gasket. In retrospect, I realize this could not possibly have been of much interest to him, but he took a few minutes to make me feel like an intelligent human being because a mathematical genius wanted to hear about what I was working on.

After the jump, enjoy an awesome video based on Jonathan Coulton’s awesome tribute to Mandelbrot and his most famous subject of study (which was not actually discovered by him, despite its name).

Rest in peace, Benoit Mandelbrot. I’ll never forget our brief conversation, nor will the world of mathematics ever forget your contributions to it.

[DF — once attended a lecture given by him, a great mathematician and very humble RIP.]

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Are We Giving Our Soldiers Drugs That May Make Them Kill Themselves?

More soldiers than ever are on drugs that have been linked to suicide and violent behavior.

In 2009 there were 160 active duty suicides, 239 suicides within the total Army including the Reserves, 146 active duty deaths from drug overdoses and high risk behavior and 1,713 suicide attempts. In addition to suicide, other out-of-character behavior like domestic violence is known to erupt from the drugs.

More troops are dying by their own hand than in combat, according to an Army report titled “Health Promotion, Risk Reduction, Suicide Prevention.” Not only that, but 36 percent of the suicides were troops who were never deployed.

The unprecedented suicide rates are accompanied by an unprecedented rise in psychoactive drug rate among active duty-aged troops, 18 to 34, which is up 85 percent since 2003, according to the military health plan Tricare. Since 2001, 73,103 prescriptions for Zoloft have been dispensed, 38,199 for Prozac, 17,830 for Paxil and 12,047 for Cymbalta says Tricare 2009 data, which includes family prescriptions. All of the drugs carry a suicide warning label.

In addition to the leap in SSRI antidepressants, prescriptions for the anticonvulsants Topamax and Neurontin rose 56 percent in the same group since 2005, says Navy Times — drugs the FDA warned last year double suicidal thinking in patients.

In fact, 4,994 troops at Fort Bragg are on antidepressants right now, says the Fayetteville Observer. Six-hundred-sixty-four are on an antipsychotics and “many soldiers take more than one type of medication.”

Of course, depression itself is a risk factor for suicide, so it is not always possible to tell if the disease or the drug is at fault.

But many believe the dramatic and tandem rises in suicide rates and psychoactive drug rates are correlated. “Intuitively, it just tells you that there’s a connection,”

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md. told the National Journal this month.

[Return to headlines]

China Stakes Claim to S. Texas Oil, Gas

HOUSTON — State-owned Chinese energy giant CNOOC is buying a multibillion-dollar stake in 600,000 acres of South Texas oil and gas fields, potentially testing the political waters for further expansion into U.S. energy reserves.

With the announcement Monday that it would pay up to $2.2 billion for a one-third stake in Chesapeake Energy assets, CNOOC lays claim to a share of properties that eventually could produce up to half a million barrels a day of oil equivalent.

It also might pick up some American know-how about tapping the hard-to-get deposits trapped in dense shale rock formations, analysts said.

As part of the deal, the largest purchase of an interest in U.S. energy assets by a Chinese company, CNOOC has agreed to pay about $1.1 billion for a chunk of Chesapeake’s assets in the Eagle Ford, a broad oil and gas formation that runs largely from southwest of San Antonio to the Mexican border.

CNOOC also will provide up to $1.1 billion more to cover drilling costs.

The deal represents China’s second try at making a big move into the U.S. oil and gas market, following a failed bid five years ago to buy California-based Unocal Corp.

Intense political opposition over energy security concerns derailed that $18.4 billion deal. But analysts expect few political or regulatory hurdles to the CNOOC-Chesapeake deal.

“The climate is much more hospitable now,” said Juli MacDonald-Wimbush, a partner with Marstel-Day, an energy and environmental security consulting company in Fredericksburg, Va.

Amid low natural gas prices and a largely difficult drilling climate, she said highly liquid Chinese companies will find willing partners among onshore oil and gas companies hurting for capital to drill.

“They have the cash, and energy companies in the U.S. are looking for the cash to develop these reserves,” MacDonald-Wimbush said.

[Return to headlines]

Exonerated Marine Targets Dem’s House Seat

Ilario Pantano drew national attention in deaths of 2 Iraqi insurgents

A Marine Corps veteran who came to national attention when he was accused of premeditated murder in the deaths of suspected Iraqi insurgents is now the Republican nominee for North Carolina’s 7th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Ilario Pantano told WND Radio’s Greg Corombos of his gratefulness for WND’s coverage of his ordeal five years ago.

“WorldNetDaily was so instrumental back in my early days in 2005 when I faced some challenges from my actions in the Marine Corps,” he said. “I am grateful not just to the staff of WorldNetDaily but to all the listeners that have been wonderful and supportive all these years.”

As a second lieutenant, Pantano was leading a platoon in the volatile Sunni Triangle in 2004 when, he contended, he acted in self-defense against suspected insurgents during a weapons-cache raid. But Marine Corps prosecutors insisted Pantano broke the military code and executed the Iraqis to send a message to the enemy.

Pantano had faced a possible court-martial and death sentence before he was cleared by his commanding officer, Maj. Gen. Richard Huck.

He now is challenging Democrat incumbent Mike McIntyre in a district located in the southeastern corner of North Carolina that includes Wilmington and part of Fayetteville.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

New Pakistani Taliban Operative Feared Inside U.S. After Times Square Failure

Senior U.S. officials are concerned over recent intelligence indicating that the Pakistani Taliban, which orchestrated the failed Times Square bombing, may have successfully placed another operative inside the United States to launch a second attack, sources tell Fox News. Authorities, however, know very little about the potential operative or any possible plot.

“[We] don’t know who it is and don’t know where it is,” one source said. “We know the guy’s here, but don’t know anything about him.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Soldier Says Ordered to Delete Fort Hood Videos

FORT HOOD, Texas — A soldier who recorded the terror of last year’s deadly shooting rampage in Fort Hood using his cell phone was ordered by an officer to delete both videos, a military court heard Friday.

Under cross examination, Pfc. Lance Aviles told an Article 32 hearing that his noncommissioned officer ordered him to destroy the two videos on Nov. 5, the same day a gunman unleashed a volley of bullets inside a processing center at the Texas Army post.

The footage could have been used as evidence at the military hearing to decide if Maj. Nidal Hasan should stand trial in the shootings. The 40-year-old American-born Muslim has been charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder.


Addressing the court via video link from Afghanistan, Spc. Megan Martin said she had been waiting to take medical tests when saw a man to her left stand up and shout “Allahu Akbar!” — “God is great!” in Arabic — then start firing a weapon.

He “started shooting to the left of me in a fan motion, left to right,” Martin said.

She described the weapon as “a small handgun (with) … a green light and a red laser.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Why Our Republic Hangs by a Thread

Except for a brief period during the Reagan years, America has been moving steadily toward becoming a social democracy rather than the republic our founders gave us. There is a very good reason why this is happening.

Since 1933, Democrats have had complete control of government — presidency, House and Senate — for 34 years. Republicans, on the other hand, have had control of government for a total of four years (108th and 109th Congress). Democrats controlled both houses of Congress for 56 years, while Republicans controlled both houses for only 12 years. For 22 years, the Democrats had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate; none for the Republicans.

Clearly, Democrats have steered the ship of state since the Roosevelt era. While Democrats loudly blame the Republicans for all the nation’s woes, it is the Democrats who must accept responsibility for the state of the nation.

As bad as things are in the United States at the moment, it is in far better shape than most of the rest of the world. But the nation is nowhere near as good as it would have been had the republic — and its free market — been allowed to prosper.

The “Progressive” era that arose from the writings of Marx, Lenin and others, embraced fully by Woodrow Wilson’s administration, infested the Democrat Party and since Franklin Roosevelt has promoted policies that advance Marxism and erodes the republican form of government designed by our founders.


The Electoral College is under severe attack. In addition to constitutional-amendment proposals being introduced into Congress that provide direct vote of the people to elect the president, there is also a powerful movement afoot at the state level to award electoral votes to candidates on a percentage basis rather than on a winner-take-all basis. This proportioned vote distribution is certainly more democratic than the winner-take-all basis. But our founders were not trying to create the most democratic process. They were creating a republic, not a democracy.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Why the Hard Left of the Democratic Party Could Soon be Running US Security Policy

The National Security Advisor of the President of the United States is a really important job — for NATO and the West, not just for America. Whoever holds it has to ensure (among many other responsibilities) that the efforts of the the Pentagon and the State Department are coordinated towards a strategic end. Of all the posts in government, this one is supposed to be apolitical. Until last week, General Jim Jones, a retired marine with an extensive strategic resume, held the post for Obama. Now he has been replaced by a pure political hack: Thomas E Donilon. As my colleague Toby Harnden has pointed out, this is worrying news. A major, disastrous shift in US foreign policy could be on the way.

Tom Donilon has spent his entire life as a hanger-on to Democratic Party campaigns, working as a strategist for Michael Dukakis and later for Barack Obama. A corporation lawyer by trade, he is associated with the hard liberal wing of the Democratic Party. His brief experience with national security issues was in the Clinton administration, where he was spokesman and chief of staff to the Secretary of State. He has no experience whatsoever in the armed forces.

Yet Donilon has not been without a major impact on national policy. After working for Clinton, he went into corporate law practice in Washington and lobbied for the government-chartered Fannie Mae mortgage company that was at the center of the 2008 financial crisis. Before the market collapse, Donilon successfully lobbied the Congress to prevent increased regulation that might have prevented, or at least limited, the financial catastrophe.

However, demonstrated incompetence is no bar to rapid advancement in the Obama administration. Donilon is a highly partisan operative filling a position that ought to be above party politics. In choosing him, Obama is signalling the direction of US policy for the rest of his presidency.

At the start of his administration, the President tried to reassure the Congress and public by appointing two men of exceptional experience and apolitical reputation — Robert Gates as defence secretary and James Jones as national security advisor — to the two top positions dealing with security. But Gates has announced his retirement, so his job is now up for grabs.

If Obama’s pick for defence secretary is in line with his national security advisor decision, then America’s nominally bipartisan approach to security policy will be replaced by one set by the hard Left of the Democratic Party. Donilon is well known for his clashes with the military and his opposition to the Afghan mission. A new national security team headed by Donilon is likely to support American withdrawal throughout the world, disengagement from our allies —and appeasement of hostile regimes. Voters might want to bear that in mind.

[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Church of England is Fascist and Vindictive, Says Bishop Defecting to Rome

The Rt Rev John Broadhurst, the Bishop of Fulham, accused the Church of England of breaking promises to make provisions for opponents of women’s ordination. He warned that the Pope’s invitation to disaffected Anglicans to join the Catholic Church would appeal to traditionalists dismayed at their treatment.

His comments came as a parish in the Archbishop of Canterbury’s own diocese became the first in the country to announce that it would defect to Rome, with one parishioner declaring: “The Pope’s offer was the answer to our prayers.” St Peter’s Church in Folkestone, Kent, has decided to join the Ordinariate, a system designed by the Vatican to allow Anglicans to convert while maintaining parts of their heritage. Bishop Broadhurst, who announced his decision to resign on Friday, predicted that many more would leave the Church of England in the months ahead. “I think the Ordinariate will cause a huge shock,” he said. “A lot of people have said it won’t happen and have underestimated the impact that it will have. “I don’t feel I have any choice but to leave the Church and take up the Pope’s offer. The General Synod has become vindictive and vicious. “It has been fascist in its behaviour, marginalising those who have been opposed to women’s ordination. We have not been given any space.” The bishop, who was one of three prelates at a secret Vatican summit earlier this year, said he was disappointed to be leaving the Church of England, but that the concerns of traditionalists had been ignored. “The Pope generously made an offer providing a home for our Catholic heritage at the same time as the Church of England made it clear that it does not want us,” he said. “The Roman Catholic Church understands what we’re about, but our own Church does not.”


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Germany: Teacher Suspended for Serving Pork to Muslim Students

Urusla E. (59), a math and drama teacher for 18 years, was fired for accidentally giving a Muslim student pork.

The incident happened in the Christophorus school in Betzdorf (Rheinland-Pfalz). The teacher says that that there were two unlabeled dishes of schnitzels, one containing four pieces and one with eleven, which she gave to the children. She did not know that some were made of chicken while others were made with pork.

Then one student, Ünal (9), asked what kind of meat it was. She answered she didn’t know. The boy didn’t touch the meat, and a Turkish student gave her schnitzel to a German girl. The teacher thought the case was settled, but the next day the boy’s mother called her up, very angry. A few days later 15 Turkish parents showed up at the school and demanded the teacher be fired.

The school management quickly responded and put the teacher on leave. Ursula E. says she had to leave the school immediately, and the principal told her she didn’t teach there anymore. The school superintendent suggested she be moved to a different school…

[Return to headlines]

Ireland: Gardai Investigate Temple Bar Attacks

Gardai are seeking the public’s help in relation to a number of assaults which occurred in Dublin city centre last Sunday.

Two males and a female were assaulted on Eustace Street at approximately 3.30am, with one of the men receiving serious injuries. A short time later another man was assaulted on nearby Curved Street, also sustaining serious injuries.

Investigating officers believe that a fifth male may also have been assaulted on the same street and are appealing to him to contact the Gardai.

Gardai say they believe up to four men were involved in the incident. All four are black and are thought to be in their late teens to early 20s. One of these men was wearing a red jacket, while a second was described as wearing a waistcoat-type top over a white t-shirt.

Anyone who was in the area between 3am and 4am on Sunday morning last or who may have information is asked to contact the Gardai at Pearse Street station at 01-6669000.

           — Hat tip: McR[Return to headlines]

Islamic Face-Veil Part of ‘British Way of Life’

The full Islamic face-veil is a part of the “British way of life” and should be celebrated along with religious symbols such as the crucifix, according to a report published today.

Opponents of the veil claim it oppresses women and presents a barrier between those who wear traditional dress and the rest of society.

But in a new report from think-tank Civitas, Alveena Malik, a former faith adviser to the last Labour government, said the test of whether religious symbols are appropriate should be based on whether they are practical.

Politicians in France and Belgium have voted in favour of banning the full veil, or “niqab”, and other European countries are thought to be considering similar action.

In a new report, Women, Islam and Western Liberalism, Mrs Malik said: “We in Britain need to take a different direction from others in Europe and to accept the veil as part of a modern British way of life.”

She continued: “The wearing of religious symbols, including the full veil, should be a fundamental human right of an individual in both the public and private sphere.

“The real test for religious symbols in the public sphere should always be: ‘Does the wearing of a symbol (such as the kirpan, turban, yarmulke, crucifix and the veil) hinder a citizen’s ability to perform their public civic duties?’“

Britain is in a “unique” position to embrace such a public display of faith because of the role the church plays in the affairs of the state and its “multicultural diversity”.

Mrs Malik was appointed by last government to a panel of faith advisers for the Department for Communities. She has overseen British Council guidance on “intercultural dialogue”.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Italy: Jewish Leader Calls for Anti-Holocaust Denial Law

Rome, 15 Oct. (AKI) — The president of Rome’s Jewish community lashed out against an Italian professor who downplayed Adolf Hitler’s role in the the extermination of millions of Jews and called on Italy’s politicians to outlaw Holocaust denial.

“We have only one instrument to combat this phenomenon: to pass a law that will once and for all make Holocaust denial and revising the number of those killed a crime in Italy,” said Riccardo Pacifici, in a letter on Friday to Italian newspaper la Repubblica.

Around six million of Europe’s Jews — along with hundreds of thousands of gays, gypsies, political dissidents and other people deemed undesirable by the Nazi regime -perished in Germany’s death camps.

Pacifici’s letter was published one day before the 67th anniversary of the infamous Nazi roundup of Jews in the Italian capital. In all, 1,259 of Rome’s Jews were deported to Nazi concentration camps; only a few returned.

In his letter to the Rome-based daily, Pacifici spoke out against Holocaust revisionists in Italian universities, most recently a professor from the University of Teramo in central Italy’s Abruzzo province who in a September lecture said “there are no documents from Hitler that call for the extermination of all Jews.”

Austria, Germany, Hungary, and Romania are among the countries that have banned Holocaust denial.

In 2007, an attempt to pass an anti-Holocaust-denial law in Italy failed.

Italy in 2007 voted into law a bill that imposed jail sentences for racially motivated crimes. It did not go so far as to ban Holocaust denial specifically, although that was the bill’s initial objective.

Italy has also rejected measures proposed by the European Union to impose EU-wide bans on Holocaust denial, on the basis of protecting freedom of speech.

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

New Book Exposes Racism Within French Police

A book by a French policewoman released on Thursday exposes racism and discrimination by the law enforcement against people of Arab and African decent and is expected to draw the attention of human rights groups and stir a heated debate within French government circles.

In her book, “Omerta in the police” published on Thursday, Sihem Souid, 29, denounces racism and discrimination within French border police (PAF) at Orly airport (south of Paris) where she worked for more than three years.

Omarta’ is a code of silence practiced by the Mafia according to which a member of an organization must maintain absolute silence when questioned by law enforcement on the subject of suspected illegal activities by other members of the organization.

Souid has long kept silent. Caught by her conscience, she decided to report the facts which she witnessed. “It’s just a minority who smears the majority, but if no one fights, we will run our heads against the wall,” the police official of Tunisian origin said. “France has difficulties in its police. I fear for our country, I fear for France. We crossed the white line. The country of human rights … We cannot accept that! “She said.

Souid’s disclosures could cost her his job and perhaps more, said former PAF Inspector Genera, Alain Bianchi, who is implicated in the book, according to French media sources.

The book documents a long series of serious accusations against a “minority” of police officers responsible for immigration control in the PAF. The book is full of examples where the author says has “evidence,” which is not published as originally planned.

Souid joined the French border control “by vocation” but she was quickly disappointed after facing, according to her, case of sexism and abuse of immigrants and homophobia.

“The current language of the PAF is: ‘I will control the ‘bougnoules,” or ‘look, there’s another plane of Negroes, ‘“she writes. The word ‘bougnoule’ is used by some European whites to designate Blacks and North Africans insultingly.

Souid cites the case of a woman from Brazzaville (Congo) suspected of entering France illegally. “She found herself naked in a cell…being filmed by a police officer by his mobile phone camera,” she said, adding that “discriminatory attitudes” are commonplace among border police at Orly airport.

Named as “the brave policewoman” by many French newspapers, Souid said she was believed in what she wrote and that she was ready to defend a country that has laws that respect human rights regardless of one person’s background and color.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Pope Benedict XVI ‘Says Carla Bruni-Sarkozy Not Welcome at the Vatican’

Pope Benedict XVI told President Nicolas Sarkozy of France that his wife Carla was not welcome on his recent visit to the Vatican as Italian media might publish racy photos of the French first lady, it was reported in France.

Vatican officials are said to have sent the French ambassador an unambiguous message concerning the Italian-born supermodel’s presence during her husband’s 30-minute audience with the Pontiff earlier this month, namely: “Carla Sarkozy is not welcome in the Vatican.”

Le Canard Enchaîné, the satirical weekly said the Pope was concerned that her presence would spark a rash of nude and scantily-clad photos from her modelling career being published in Italian newspapers.

[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Two ‘Jihadists’ Charged Over Plot

Gothenburg, 15 Oct. (AKI) — Two Al-Qaeda-linked Swedish jihadists of Somali origins were charged with plotting a terrorist attack on Friday, Swedish prosecutors said. The two suspects were charged at a court in Swedens’ southern city of Gothenburg.

The suspects, aged 22 and 26 are allegedly associates of the Al-Qaeda linked Somali Islamist group Al-Shabab.

The group is waging an insurgency against the interim government in Somalia and controls controls most of southern and central Somalia.

The plot involved suicide attacks in Somalia, with the aim of “murder” or “maiming” a large number of people and causing “massive damage to property,” the charge sheet said.

Prosecutors said the plot was at an early stage but there was a “significant danger” the attacks would be carried out.

The two suspects were in contact with Al-Shabab leader Yassin Ismail Ahmed, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors are basing their case on numerous intercepted phone conversations, interrogations of the two suspects, and statements from witnesses.

The phone taps also showed that one of the suspects attended an Al-Shabab training camp in Somalia and planned to return there and “ become a martyr”.

The second suspect was preparing for a future suicide mission, according to prosecutors.

One suspect was arrested in Gothenburg in May and the other in the Swedish capital Stockholm in June.

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

Sweet Drains: Hotel Rooms Made From Sewer Pipes Open in Austria (But There Isn’t a Loo!)

Rooms at the hotel in Ottensheim, west of the city of Linz, are made from ‘robust and refurbished’ drain pipes.

Inside the ample cylinders, guests will find a double bed, light, storage space and sleeping bags.

A porthole-style window lets light in. The toilet facilities are in nearby existing public facilities, which all the guests share.

There is one distinct upside to spending the night in a concrete case though…the owners operate the hotel on a ‘pay as you wish’ scheme.

Guests are simply asked to donate as much money as they think sleeping in the pipes is worth.

Feedback from guests so far has largely been positive with one saying the rooms were ‘surprisingly cosy with a nice snug bed and good storage’.

A Park Hotel spokesman said: ‘We think people like the idea of something new. We try to keep things as private as possible.

‘Guests book online and are given a pin that opens the room door but only on the day they’ve booked.’

           — Hat tip: Takuan Seiyo[Return to headlines]

UK: Ali Dizaei is Made to Pay Just £750 of £64,500 Trial Costs… Despite His Three Homes

Disgraced police chief Ali Dizaei was at the centre of a new storm last night after it emerged he has been forced to pay just £750 towards the prosecution costs of his corruption trial.

The Crown Prosecution Service had asked that three-times married Dizaei be ordered to pay their £64,500 bill for the four-week hearing earlier this year.

But despite owning three homes worth a total of £1million, playboy Dizaei — who had expensive tastes in women, cars and clothes — said he was virtually penniless and able to pay only a tiny amount.

After considering his case, Southwark Crown Court ordered that he pay £750 plus VAT towards the prosecution costs.

Yet the Mail can reveal that Dizaei owns homes in Acton and Chiswick in West London, and co-owns a property in Henley-on-Thames with his former wife Natalie.

Before his corruption conviction, Dizaei won a substantial five-figure libel payout from a Sunday newspaper. It is not known where the money went.

The decision to make the former Met Commander pay so little has staggered his former colleagues in the Metropolitan Police.

One said: ‘A lot of people find it very hard to believe he is only worth £750. Many people will think he’s played the system and won.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Captured on Camera: The Sickening High Five Celebrations of Thugs Who Stamped on Train Passenger’s Face After He Dared to Ask Them to be Quiet

Three young professionals who attacked a man on a train in a ‘shocking’ drunken assault before celebrating with high-fives were spared jail yesterday.

A court heard how Frederick Doe, 25, Michael Tebbutt, 24 and Samantha Vander, 25, subjected their fellow passenger to a ‘volley of punches and kicks’ and repeatedly stamped on his head after he asked them to keep the noise down.

Captured on CCTV, the trio were then seen laughing and celebrating — apparently revelling in the violence.

On Friday, each defendant was handed a four-month suspended sentence and 300 hours’ community service by St Albans Crown Court, in Hertfordshire.

The court was told how they pounced on the 38-year-old man following an alcohol-fuelled evening in London.

Detective Sergeant Karina Ghersinich, of British Transport Police, said: ‘Doe and Tebbutt floored the man and then assaulted him with a volley of punches and kicks.

‘Vander joined in and brutally stamped on the victim’s head and body using the stiletto heels she was wearing — laughing as she did so.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

What Happened to the Holland I Knew?

I grew up in the Netherlands in the 1970s and 1980s, and not much happened. Almost the whole country ate dinner at home at 6pm (generally meat and potatoes), and voted for boring technocrats. People kept their curtains open so that you could look inside as you cycled past, but it was seldom worth it.

Whoever happened to be running the Netherlands was very popular. The prime minister typically cycled from his terraced house to work without bodyguards. He ran almost no risk of ever being voted out of office. When he went abroad, he liked to exhort backward countries — the US, say, or the USSR — to follow Holland’s moral lead. He worried about the Germans next door falling for the far right again. But mostly, Dutch politics was about giving guilders to traditional Dutch interest groups: people too stressed to work, lifelong students and refugees from less blessed countries.

Dutch life was gentle. As the German poet Heinrich Heine supposedly said (though nobody can find the reference): “When the world ends I’ll go to Holland, because everything happens there 20 years later.”

Well, it’s all happening now. Dutch life remains pretty gentle, and yet the country has fallen for the far right. The new government has made a pact with the anti-Islamic politician Geert Wilders. It relies on his votes to survive. Wilders favours banning the Koran, levying a “head-rag tax” on the Islamic veil and stopping immigration from Muslim countries. He’s currently on trial in Amsterdam for hate speech. What happened to the country where I grew up?

The platinum blond Wilders is a symptom of a trauma: the transformation of the Netherlands in recent decades. By the quiet standards of postwar Europe, this country has changed fast. Take the suddenness of immigration. In 1961, precisely three Moroccans lived legally in the Netherlands. Only in the 1970s did large numbers of foreigners start arriving. Today more than a tenth of the Dutch population is of non-western origin. Many are Muslims. People who vote for Wilders care that their local high street now has a mosque on it, and phone shops with cheap deals to Ivory Coast, and teenagers of Arab origin hanging around.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Wilders Condemns Dutch Minister’s Dual Nationality

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) — Dutch anti-immigrant lawmaker Geert Wilders, who supports a new right-leaning minority cabinet, on Saturday criticised the dual nationality of a deputy minister, in a sign of the coalition’s fragility.

The minority government, made up of Liberals (VVD) and Christian Democrats (CDA), took office on Thursday. It is reliant on support from Wilders’ anti-Islam Freedom Party (PVV), and doubts remain whether the coalition can serve its full four-year term.

Wilders wants Marlies Veldhuijzen van Zanten-Hyllner, deputy minister for health and sport, to drop her Swedish nationality.

“The PVV still finds that a double nationality of a minister is very much undesired,” a spokeswoman cited Wilders as saying.

When the cabinet discusses its plans in parliament on October 26 and 27, Wilders will ask it to have the deputy minister give up her Swedish nationality, the spokeswoman said.

A spokesman for the deputy minister said the government would wait for the debate and declined further comment.

In 2007, Wilders called for two deputy ministers of Turkish and Moroccan origin to give up their second nationality. He did not get support in parliament.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Morocco: ‘Al-Qaeda-Linked’ Drug Ring Busted

Rabat, 15 Oct. (AKI) — An international drug trafficking ring with links to Al- Qaeda was broken up by police in Morocco, according to Arab-language sattelite news channel Al-Arabiya.

According to authorities in Morocco’s capital Rabat, the “very dangerous” criminal organisation had ties to Latin America and had used an Al-Qaeda base in Mali, according to the report.

Six people were arrested, including two Spanish citizens who were found in possession of large sums of money and different cars used to transport the drugs within Morocco.

Police also seized large quantities of cocaine and other illegal substances.

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

Israel and the Palestinians

Abbas: We Won’t Recognize Israel as Jewish State

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Friday he would not recognize Israel as a Jewish state, adding that he was also opposed to population exchanges as part of any permanent peace agreement.

During a meeting with heads of the Hadash party in Ramallah, Abbas said, “Had we given up on our principles, we would have signed an agreement years ago.”


Yasser Abed Rabo, secretary of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee, as well as other PLO officials, also attended the meeting. He spoke of the “unacceptable demand” to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, adding that this demand was aimed at thwarting the implementation of the “right” of Palestinian refugees to return to Israel.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Iran: Shoplifter’s Hand to be Amputated

An Iranian judge has ordered the amputation of the hand of a man who confessed to robbing a sweet shop. The chief judge of a Tehran court also sentenced the 21-year-old man, who was not identified, to a year in jail and ordered him to return the stolen items, according to Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency. The ruling came days after Iranian authorities amputated the hand of another man convicted of theft in the north-eastern city of Mashhad. While Iran’s hard-line judiciary follows a strict interpretation of Islamic law, enforcement of punishments such as amputation are rare. Iranian authorities occasionally issue harsh rulings in an effort to stem the spread of corruption and disorder.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Lebanon: Young Nasrallah: Iranian Control ‘Axiomatic’

As Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited southern Lebanon this week, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) revealed a decades-old video showing Iran’s relationship to Lebanese terrorist group Hizbullah.

In the speech shown on video, Hizbullah head Hassan Nasrallah described his organization’s ties to Iran as “axiomatic.” Iran’s Imam Khomeini is the “rightful deputy” of the Mahdi, the redeemer promised in Shiite Islam, Nasrallah said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

South Asia

US Soldier Faces Action Over Death of Kidnapped Aid Worker

An American special forces soldier believed to have thrown a grenade that killed the kidnapped British aid worker Linda Norgrove in an unsuccessful rescue attempt could face disciplinary action.

It is alleged that the soldier failed to tell his commanding officers immediately that he had used a fragmentation grenade.

Miss Norgrove, 36, died on Friday night two weeks after she was kidnapped. Diplomatic sources said intelligence suggested she was at imminent risk of “being killed or being taken to Pakistan”. US special forces have since been engaged in fierce fighting in eastern Afghanistan after stepping up operations to hunt down the leadership of the group thought to have been responsible for the kidnap.

[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Teenage Girl Quits School to Marry Obama’s Half Brother in Kenya

The polygamist half-brother of President Obama has married a woman who is over 30 years his junior.

Although having two other wives, Malik Obama, 52, wed 19-year-old Sheila Anyango despite protests from the girl’s family.

Malik’s new mother-in-law Mary Aoko Ouma says she is furious her daughter quit school to get married to the much older man.

She says her daughter tried to marry Malik Obama two years ago, but she wouldn’t give her permission to the nuptials.

Ouma said that she struggled to send her six kids to school since her husband died in 1996 and she was very disappointed Anyango hasn’t completed her education.

The saddened mother of the bride said her daughter was also setting a bad example for her sister who is still in high school.

‘I told her not to get married until she has finished her education. Let the world teach her a lesson even if she has problems in her marriage. I don’t want to see her again’, Ouma said.

Ouma said she did not receive a bride price from Malik Obama but if she did she would accept it and spend it on schooling for her other children.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


Germany: Seehofer Tells Youth Wing Multiculturalism is Dead

Bavarian state premier Horst Seehofer continued his anti-immigrant attacks on Friday night, addressing the youth wing of the conservatives and telling them “multiculturalism is dead.”

“We as the (Christian Democratic) Union stand for the dominant German culture and against multiculturalism — multiculturalism is dead,” he said according to news magazine Der Spiegel.

Speaking at the Junge Union national meeting in Potsdam, Seehofer’s latest attack on the idea of Germany being a country of immigration followed his recent call to stop Turks and Arabs from moving to Germany.

Yet he said his speech was not a lurch to the right, rather an attempt to “stop the right-wing loonies,” he said, adding that “political seducers” must be deterred from parliament by addressing the concerns of voters.

Those who wanted to live in Germany had to be prepared to accept the daily culture of the country, he said, although did not specify how this should be defined.

Chancellor Angela Merkel was more moderate, Der Spiegel reported, but seemed to echo some of Seehofer’s sentiment when she said, “We feel bound to the Christian image of humanity, that is what defines us,” she said. Those who do not accept this, “are in the wrong place here.”

Germans should also talk about their values and their increasing alienation from religion, in order to affirm their sense of country and society, she added.

Regarding the idea of allowing highly-qualified people to come to Germany to fill the skills deficit, Seehofer said the emphasis should initially be on training unemployed people here before bringing people into the country.

Germany should not become the “social security office for the whole world,” he said.

Young members of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), should know what the parties stood for, he added.

One should not have to “constantly apologise for having a love for one’s own country,” he said, adding there was every reason to be proud of Germany.

Philipp Mißfelder, who was elected to chair the youth organisation on Friday, welcomed Seehofer’s comments on immigration.

Mißfelder said it was the job of the CSU to regain sovereignty over the popular debate. He said there should never be a democratically legitimate power to the political right of the union. “The guarantee for that in Germany is and remains, the CSU,” he said.

Seehofer was again criticised by the Central Council of Jews in Germany for his comments.

“All possible cultural circles are being stigmatised, defamed and tarred with the same brush. I find it on the one hand irresponsible and on the other, shabby,” said Stephan Kramer, secretary general of the Council.

He said the current debate on integration of migrants and immigration was making people feel uneasy and scared.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Merkel Says German Multicultural Society Has Failed

Attempts to build a multicultural society in Germany have “utterly failed”, Chancellor Angela Merkel says.

In a speech in Potsdam, she said the so-called “multikulti” concept — where people would “live side-by-side” happily — did not work.

Mrs Merkel’s comments come amid recent outpourings of strong anti-immigrant feeling from mainstream politicians.

A recent survey showed that more than 30% of Germans believed Germany was “overrun by foreigners”.

The study — by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation think-tank — also showed that roughly the same number thought that some 16 million of Germany’s immigrants or people with foreign origins had come to the country for the social benefits.

Foreign workers

Mrs Merkel told a gathering of younger members of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party on Saturday that at “the beginning of the 60s our country called the foreign workers to come to Germany and now they live in our country… We kidded ourselves a while, we said: ‘They won’t stay, sometime they will be gone’, but this isn’t reality.

“And of course, the approach [to build] a multicultural [society] and to live side-by-side and to enjoy each other… has failed, utterly failed.”

In her speech, the chancellor specifically referred to recent comments by German President Christian Wulff who said that Islam was “part of Germany” like Christianity and Judaism.

Mrs Merkel says Islam is part of Germany but more must be done on integration While acknowledging that this was the case, Mrs Merkel stressed that immigrants living in Germany needed to do more to integrate, including learning to speak German.

“Anyone who does not immediately speak German”, she said, “is not welcome”.

By speaking now, Mrs Merkel has now joined the increasingly hot debate on multiculturalism, coming down on the side of those who are uneasy about immigration, says the BBC’s correspondent in Berlin, Stephen Evans.

Her comments come a week after she held talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in which the two leaders pledged to do more to improve the often poor integration record of Germany’s estimated 2.5 million-strong Turkish community.

Earlier this week, Horst Seehofer, the leader of the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, CSU, said about integration that it was “obvious that immigrants from different cultures like Turkey and Arab countries, all in all, find it harder”.

“‘Multikulti’ is dead,” Mr Seehofer said.

In August, Thilo Sarrazin, a senior official at Germany’s central bank, said that “no immigrant group other than Muslims is so strongly connected with claims on the welfare state and crime”. Mr Sarrazin has since resigned.

Such recent strong anti-immigrant feelings from mainstream politicians come amid an anger in Germany about high unemployment, even if the economy is growing faster than those of its rivals, our correspondent says.

He adds that there also seems to be a new strident tone in the country, perhaps leading to less reticence about no-go-areas of the past.

           — Hat tip: 4symbols[Return to headlines]

Merkel Says German Multiculturalism Has Failed

POTSDAM, Germany (Reuters) — Germany’s attempt to create a multicultural society has “utterly failed,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday, adding fuel to a debate over immigration and Islam polarising her conservative camp.

Speaking to a meeting of young members of her Christian Democrats (CDU), Merkel said allowing people of different cultural backgrounds to live side by side without integrating had not worked in a country that is home to some four million Muslims.

“This (multicultural) approach has failed, utterly failed,” Merkel told the meeting in Potsdam, south of Berlin.

Merkel faces pressure from within her CDU to take a tougher line on immigrants who don’t show a willingness to adapt to German society and her comments appeared intended to pacify her critics.

She said too little had been required of immigrants in the past and repeated her usual line that they should learn German in order to get by in school and have opportunities on the labour market.

The debate over foreigners in Germany has shifted since former central banker Thilo Sarrazin published a book accusing Muslim immigrants of lowering the intelligence of German society.

Sarrazin was censured for his views and dismissed from the Bundesbank, but his book proved highly popular and polls showed a majority of Germans agreed with the thrust of his arguments.

Merkel has tried to accommodate both sides of the debate, talking tough on integration but also telling Germans that they must accept that mosques have become part of their landscape.

She said on Saturday that the education of unemployed Germans should take priority over recruiting workers from abroad, while noting Germany could not get by without skilled foreign workers.

In a weekend newspaper interview, her Labour Minister Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) raised the possibility of lowering barriers to entry for some foreign workers in order to fight the lack of skilled workers in Europe’s largest economy.

“For a few years, more people have been leaving our country than entering it,” she told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. “Wherever it is possible, we must lower the entry hurdles for those who bring the country forward.”

The German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) says Germany lacks about 400,000 skilled workers.

Yet Horst Seehofer, chairman of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the CDU’s sister party, has rejected any relaxation of immigration laws and said last week there was no room in Germany for more people from “alien cultures.

           — Hat tip: SF[Return to headlines]

Sweden Considers Healthcare for Illegals

Sweden’s new integration minister Erik Ullenhag is hopeful that Sweden will extend the right to healthcare and schooling to illegal immigrants.

The right to healthcare for refugees who reside in Sweden illegally remains a controversial issue within the government as the Moderates have hitherto put a stop to proposals.

Integration minister Erik Ullenhag, of the Liberal Party, is however hopeful that an agreement can be reached and healthcare and schooling afforded even to those without the necessary documentation and for refugees in hiding.

“I think that we will reach our goal both for care for those in hiding and schooling for children. All children have a right to go to school,” said Ullenhag in an interview with Sveriges Radio’s Ekot news programme.

“I will continue to argue for what we believe in and we are not alone within the government. We think that it is reasonable that you should be able to go to accident and emergency and receive care, even if you are illegal,” said Ullenhag.

Several of the centre-right parties are open for a discussion on the issue of illegal immigrant rights.

The same position is held by the Social Democrats and the Green Party, which have been invited to discussions over integration and immigration policy in a move to attempt to achieve a majority in parliament on the issue.

The centre-right Alliance government has taken steps to reach cross-party agreement in order to rule out any influence form the far-right Sweden Democrats on the issue.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Turkish President Encourages Turks to Integrate in Germany

Turkish President Abdullah Gül on Saturday encouraged Germany’s 2.5-million-strong Turkish community to better integrate into German society.

“When one doesn’t speak the language of the country in which one lives that doesn’t serve anyone, neither the person concerned, the country, nor the society,” Gül told the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

“That is why I tell them at every opportunity that they should learn German, and speak it fluently and without an accent. That should start at nurseries.”

Gül also said that if German national team footballer of Turkish descent Mesut Özil “had asked me which side to play for, I would have encouraged him to play for Germany.”

The Turkish president said Özil, who scored one of the German goals in their October 8 defeat of Turkey 3-0 in a Euro2012 qualifying match in Berlin, is “an example of very successful integration.”

Gül also accused European politicians and intellectuals of lacking vision about Turkey joining the European Union. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner on Tuesday blamed Turkey’s lagging accession negotiations with the European Union on its failure to undertake needed reforms, saying: “…the ball is in your court.”

Gül acknowledged in the interview with the Munich newspaper that Turkey had its work to do, but said Europe was at fault for the slow speed of the talks.

“But the main reason behind the slowing of the talks is a lack of vision and strategic thinking by European politicians and intellectuals,” said the Turkish president.

Turkey began accession negotiations with the EU in 2005, but the process has stalled amid opposition from some member states — France and Germany in particular — lack of reform in Turkey and a trade row over the divided island of Cyprus.

Gül said Turkey’s membership would reinforce the EU’s security, including in the energy sector, as well as many other areas.

“They should think in the perspective of 25, 50 or 100 years,” said Gül. “But if one only thinks about today, the process is blocked.”

France and Germany have been vocal opponents of Turkey’s ambition to join the 27-nation bloc and argue that the mainly Muslim country of about 73 million people should settle for a “privileged partnership” rather than full membership.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Columbus Knew the Dangers of the Muslim Tax Man

Time for a short Columbus Day history lesson.

Christian Constantinople fell to the Muslim Ottoman Empire in 1453. The Ottomans had also gained control of the vital Silk Road to the Far East. What did this mean for Christian Europe and the soon-to-be discovered Americas? Prof. Cynthia Smith of the University of Hawaii describes it very well:

There is one final consequence of Ottoman expansion and control, perhaps the most important from the perspective of world history. The Ottoman Empire, by the end of the 15th century, controlled the Near East and Eastern Mediterranean region. This meant control of the land routes linking the Silk Road connections between Asia and the Mediterranean. Control of East/West trading connections enabled Ottoman leaders to levy taxes on all goods moving East and West through their territory. Thus, strategic control resulted in staggering wealth for the Ottoman Empire — wealth they enjoyed for centuries.

This control was, not surprisingly, a source of growing resentment on the part of the Europeans, especially after the 14th century, as commerce and trade became increasingly important to Europeans. European merchants and leaders resented the loss of revenue due to heavy taxes, and European consumers of Asian goods resented the high prices. There was also religious strain felt by Christians who had to follow Muslim laws and policies to maintain their trading connections with the East. This resentment of what some Europeans called the “stranglehold” of the Ottoman Empire on international trade was a primary reason why political leaders, commercial interests, invested money in efforts to find sea routes to the markets and goods of the East — launching the epic changes brought about by European exploration and expansion in the late 1400’s and 1500’s.

In other words, the voyages that resulted in the European “Age of Discovery” or “Age of Expansion” were launched primarily by the desire to go around the Ottoman Empire. The expansion of European global control and power that resulted from these early expeditions changed world history. Ottoman regional dominance, and European attempts to avoid that economic control, were the catalysts for European sea dominance, colonization, Western “discovery” of the American continent and the further increase of global interactions.

Whenever you pass through the jurisdiction of an ‘ashir, you pay taxes. If you’re a foreign Muslim trader in a Muslim land you pay low customs duties. When you’re a non-Muslim trader in a Muslim land, you pay the highest customs duty rates. Vital European interests were incompatible with sharia extortion during the Age of Discovery. How is it that we’ve forgotten what Columbus recognized 518 years ago?

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Conrad Black: Court Moderate Muslims, But Treat the Extremists for What They Are

It is certainly time that the West considered systematically if our civilization has irreconcilable differences with Islam. The belligerence of many Islamic spokesmen, the failure to assimilate of many Muslim immigrants, as well as the spectacular terrorist provocations of extreme Islamic groups make this a legitimate question.

But it is not so easy to answer. Some passages of the Koran, and some of the more purposeful remarks attributed to Muhammad, certainly incite the inference that mortal conflict is inevitable — an impression heightened by the neurotic obsession of a great many Muslims with the red herring of Israel. It is hard for Westerners to know what to make of Islam: As the Muslim world stretched from Morocco to Indonesia, it became ever more fissiparous and hydra-headed. It speaks through an infinite number of clerical and secular leaders, and in a range of vocabularies from fraternal to genocidally hostile.

Muhammad was allegedly instructed to found Islam in 610, by the versatile Archangel Gabriel. Twelve years later, Muhammad still had only 150 followers. He then decamped to the Jewish oasis of Yathrib, seized control of it, renamed it Medina, set up the first mosque, and went forth to conquer Arabia. Unlike Jesus, or the contemplative and sedentary Gautama, founder of Buddhism, Muhammad was a military leader who advanced by fire and sword and told his followers to emulate him. They established Sharia, a totalitarian legal system whose edicts go far beyond what even the most pious and fervent Westerner would consider the province of religion.

Aggressive Arab Islam surged westwards across Africa and into Spain, and then into France, before being repulsed by Charles Martel (Charlemagne’s grandfather) at Tours in 732. To the historically-minded, including many Arabs, the Arab world has been in retreat for the 13 centuries that followed (which may explain some of the militancy of Arab extremists).

On the other side of the Mediterranean, Turkish Muslims managed to take Constantinople from the Greek Orthodox Byzantines in 1453; and then surged into Europe, finally being repulsed from the gates of Vienna — twice, in 1529 and 1683. Thereupon, they too gradually subsided. A joint Spanish and Italian navy defeated the Turks at the battle of Lepanto in 1571, as great and important a battle as that of the Spanish Armada 17 years later; that stopped the Turkish amphibious efforts to seize Italy and the western Mediterranean.

In our own era, Muslims are made incomprehensible to all but the most assiduous Western student of that culture by a combination of ancient prejudices, the ever-changing fluidity of Muslim relationships and alliances, the severe decentralization of the world Muslim community, and the bizarre reaction of Muslim societies to seemingly trivial events. To many Westerners, there is an ingrained Muslim caricature of the swarthy peasant raising sinew-lean arms to the heavens, having been commanded to do so by a voice from a minaret loudspeaker; the serried ranks of men pressing their foreheads to the floor and elevating their posteriors (a gesture that is, in our culture, unserious); and the image of Muslims as shady, long-unsuccessful nationalities, or of recent, and not overly dynamic, colonies. Many Western Muslim populations are fractious, and their spokesmen are often unbecomingly hostile to their host nations. Their conditions are inferior, but so are their standards of civic participation.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Exploring the Price Islam’s Critics Pay for Their Examinations

Clearly many in the Western world believe in separate standards for what can be said about Islam. It is unclear whether this is a result of good-heartedness or fear — or both. It seems impossible to discuss the issue for more than 30 seconds with some of these people before the issue of the Crusades come up.

Then the issue of the excesses of American Fundamentalist Christians is brought up. Actually several organizations, including Mikey Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which has alleged the mistreatment of Jews in the U.S. Air Force Academy, brings this up frequently.

Certainly the vast majority of Muslims are good people, as are the vast majority of American troops in Afghanistan. But there have been allegations of war crimes. And Wikileaks has published information about incidents that appear to have been covered up. Julian Assange is still putting out unfiltered information on his website that the U.S. military would rather not have the world know about. On the other side of this conflict are radical Muslims, also a minority. Some Muslims have made death threats against critics and carried some of them out. The late Iranian dictator, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, once called on faithful Muslims to kill their countryman, Salmon Rushdie, the author of “The Satanic Verses.”

A Jihadist called on fellow Muslims to decapitate Dutch Member of Parliament Geert Wilders, who directed a film called “Fitna” after an Arabic word meaning to seduce, tempt, or lure.

The film, produced by “Scarlet Pimpernel Productions,” shows the bombings of the World Trade Center and other terrorist attacks, interspersed with verses from the Koran and newspaper clippings. The haunting “Death of Ase,” from Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg’s “Peer Gynt” lends a somber tone.

The beginning is among the most controversial scenes. A likeness of Allah is shown with a bomb on his head as a clock ticks.

Initially Wilders, who is the leader of the Dutch Freedom Party and now a member of the ruling coalition, found it difficult to make the film available on the Internet. Considering that Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh had been murdered for producing a film on the mistreatment of Muslim women, “Submission.” The reluctance of some sites to show it, given threats, was not surprising.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Muslims, Take a Good Look at Yourselves Too!

It’s only natural that Dutch citizens with Islamic roots should be concerned about Geert Wilders. But they should also take a critical look at what is going on in the countries where their Islamic roots lie. That’s the opinion of Mohammed Abdulrahman of Radio Netherlands Worldwide’s Arabic service. He writes…

It used to be common knowledge among immigrants from the Islamic world: the Netherlands was the most tolerant country in Europe. But in the post 9/11 era, the mood has changed considerably. The populist anti-Islam Freedom Party led by Geert Wilders became the third largest part in the Netherlands at the last election and is now in the key position of providing official parliamentary support for a new minority right-wing government coalition.

Geert Wilders never tires of warning that Islam is a dangerous ideology that is out to dominate Europe. He has dismissed the Prophet Mohammed as a paedophile and the Qur’an as a fascist book that should be banned. He wants to limit the influx of immigrants from Muslim countries.

Open to discrimination As Dutch citizens with Islamic roots, we observe these developments with a mixture of shock and indignation. We feel less welcome in the Netherlands and rebuke the Dutch for not giving us a fair chance. But before we start preaching to the Netherlands, one important question needs to be asked: how are foreigners and minority groups treated in the countries where our roots lie?

The facts speak for themselves: in the Islamic world, foreigners and religious and ethnic minorities hardly have any rights at all. In almost all Islamic countries they are open to discrimination that is accepted without criticism by almost everyone, as if it is the most natural thing in the world.

Take, for example, the situation of guest workers in the Gulf States: they are treated little better than slaves. They have practically no legal status and they have absolutely no entitlements in terms of cultural and religious rights. In the entire Arab peninsula, there is only one church: in the mini-state of Qatar whose national identity largely consists of irritating its far larger neighbour Saudi Arabia.

Ordinary citizens The fact that governments in the Islamic world do not respect the rights of their own ordinary citizens either does not provide a valid argument with which to ease our conscience. For ordinary citizens are only denied political rights, while foreigners and minorities cannot claim any rights whatsoever and have to contend with discrimination by both the government and the population at large.

So when we here in Europe seek to defend our civil rights, we should remember one thing: that we are part of a society based on the idea that everyone, regardless of their background or beliefs, is equal and enjoys the same rights to practice their religion and express their culture. That is an ideal that is worthy of imitation, especially in the countries where our roots lie.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]