Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20101022

Financial Crisis
»UK: Foreign Aid Budget to Cost Every Family £500: How 17 Foreign Aid Fat Cats Are Earning More Than £90,000
»UK: OECD Welcomes the Osborne Cuts and Praises ‘Far-Reaching’ Plan to Tackle Deficits
»Ground Zero Mosque: Correcting the Non-Debate
»Centre Refuses to Host Steyn Lecture on Free Speech
Europe and the EU
»‘Britain’s Islamic Republic’: Full Transcript of Channel 4 Dispatches Programme on Lutfur Rahman, The Ife and Tower Hamlets
»EU Atheist-Freemason Summit ‘Very Odd’, Says Europe’s Chief Unbeliever
»Full Speed Ahead on EU Diplomacy After Strasbourg Vote
»Geert Wilders Trial Faces Restart After Judges Dismissed
»Germany: Hamburg Nears Official Recognition of Islam
»London Borough Becomes “Islamic Republic”
»Sweden: Two More Immigrant Shootings in Malmö
»Sweden: Malmö Gunman Keeps City on Edge
»Swiss Archaeologists Find Door Into History
»UK: Andalucian Rally, 23-26 October 2010
»UK: Fury as Travellers Living on Europe’s Largest Illegal Camp Leapfrog Thousands of People on Council House Waiting List
»UK: Labour Well Beaten in Tower Hamlets
»UK: Royal Navy Chiefs Left Red-Faced After Brand New £1.2bn Nuclear Submarine is Left High and Dry Off the Coast of Scotland
»UK: Rape Boxer Posed as City Cabbie
»UK: The First Teacher Banned for Life for Being Useless
»UK: Waltham Forest: Events to Raise Islam Awareness
»Wilders’ Racial Hatred Trial Collapses
North Africa
»NDP Stalwart Calls Muslim Brotherhood ‘Root of All Evil’
Middle East
»Turkish Police Detain 5 People Suspected of Providing Support to Al-Qaida in Afghanistan
»Two Bishops at Synod Question Effectiveness of Dialogue With Muslims
South Asia
»Taliban: ‘Britain is Our Greatest Source of Funding’
»US ‘To Cut Aid to Pakistan Army Units Over Abuse’
Australia — Pacific
»Muslim Leader Uthman Badar Calls Aussie Troops ‘Terrorists’
»Greek Gateway to EU is ‘Inhuman and Degrading’
»U.N. Resolution Favors Muslim Faith

Financial Crisis

UK: Foreign Aid Budget to Cost Every Family £500: How 17 Foreign Aid Fat Cats Are Earning More Than £90,000

David Cameron felt the full force of public anger over huge increases in the international aid budget — as it emerged the move will cost every family in Britain almost £500 a year.

The Prime Minister was forced on to the defensive over the controversial decision to lavish billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on foreign aid at a time when services at home are facing unprecedented cuts.

He was also facing a growing Tory backlash, with 70 per cent opposed to the increase in the international aid budget at a time when defence spending is being slashed.

A member of the public confronted Mr Cameron over the issue at a public meeting in Nottingham yesterday, telling him: ‘ Charity should begin at home.’

The woman, who did not give her name, told the Prime Minister: ‘There are millions of pounds of debt in the country yet you are still sending billions and billions abroad in national aid. Surely charity should begin at home.’

But Mr Cameron defended the decision, claiming that it had been a difficult call to make but that the total being devoted to aid was ‘not a huge amount’.

He said the Government was right to stick to its promise to increase foreign aid to 0.7 per cent of GDP.

‘All the three parties have, bravely, made this decision that we are going to stick to the big international promise we made to the poorest in the world. It is not a huge amount, 0.7 per cent,’ he said.

He argued that the cuts at home were essential, adding: ‘But at the same time we are still living in a world where there are millions of people who live on less than a dollar a day, who are desperately poor, and I think we do have a moral responsibility, as one of the richest countries in the world, not to give up on them just because we are having a difficult time at home.’

Chancellor George Osborne on Wednesday that the budget of the Department for International Development would be increased by 37 per cent in real terms.

The rise angered many Tories at a time when the Government is having to defend deep cuts in vital services.

Detailed figures in the spending review reveal that the overall increase in the aid budget is even higher.

Figures show that the UK spending on foreign aid — including the amount spent by departments other than DFID — will rise by 50 per cent, increasing from £8.4billion this year to £12.6billion in 2014.

The £12.6billion figure is equal to £479 for every household in Britain.

Aid charities welcomed the move but it was criticised by right-of-centre think tank the Adam Smith Institute, which said it ‘beggars belief’ DFID should enjoy a boost in its budget at a time when the police, universities and the armed forces were facing cuts.

A survey of 1,145 Tory members by the website ConservativeHome found that the rise in the international aid budget was the only measure in the spending review which members opposed.

Some 70 per cent said it was the ‘wrong decision’. By contrast, the controversial decision to remove child benefit from higher rate taxpayers was opposed by only 10 per cent of Tories.

Many Tory MPs are also unhappy about the move. Right-winger Peter Bone said the international aid budget should be made to include Britain’s EU contributions.

Fellow Tory Philip Hollobone said: ‘There needs to be a lot more explanation to the public, because the natural reaction is to say: “Why are we spending money abroad when we have such problems at home?”‘

The foreign aid budget has long been controversial. Until recently DFID spent millions of pounds a year in relatively well-off countries like China and Russia. Tens of millions of pounds will continue to go to India.

Officials insist that the rise in the budget will be well spent and will help halve the number of deaths from malaria and save the lives of 50,000 pregnant women.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: OECD Welcomes the Osborne Cuts and Praises ‘Far-Reaching’ Plan to Tackle Deficits

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development praised the Coalition for producing a ‘concrete and far-reaching plan’ to tackle the £155billion annual deficit left by Labour.

It said the decision to increase the retirement age faster than previously planned showed the UK was willing to push for structural reform.

The Paris-based group called for similarly decisive action to drive up efficiency in health and education.

Angel Gurría, secretary general of the OECD, said: ‘Budgetary consolidation is never easy but the timing and scope of the measures balance concerns for near-term growth with the need to stop the snowballing of debt and to preserve credibility.

Britain’s state borrowing costs have fallen to the lowest in a generation, indicating investor confidence in the Chancellor’s cuts package.

The cost of national debt has tumbled below that of Germany, Europe’s biggest and strongest economy.

Benchmark five-year gilt yields fell to 1.43 per cent yesterday, which is almost a quarter of a percentage point below those of Germany, which traditionally benefits from much lower interest rate costs.

It is the lowest level since the 1980s.

Financial strategist John Wraith said: ‘The very low yields are good news for the Government, signalling more confidence that public borrowing is going to fall. But this is a double-edged sword as it also implies very subdued growth as a result.’

‘The measures are tough, necessary and courageous. Acting decisively now is the best way to secure better public finances and bolster future growth.’

However, fears are mounting the economy will struggle to withstand deep cuts to public spending, as figures show the private sector remains weak.

Mr Osborne is counting on a strong corporate recovery to boost the economy. But an unexpected fall in high street sales sparked warnings that the economic recovery is faltering and a second downturn could be on the way.

Retail sales fell 0.2 per cent in volume in September, the Office for National Statistics said yesterday, as households reined in spending.

The figures call into question the Government’s hope that the private sector will make up for the 500,000 jobs to be lost in the public sector and the downturn in economic activity caused by lower central spending.

‘These figures are a big setback for the Government,’ said Gemma Lovelock, a retail analyst at TLC Marketing Worldwide. ‘Caution will continue to be the watchword among consumers for the foreseeable future.’

It was the second monthly fall in a row, after a 0.7 per cent drop in August. Analysts had expected sales to rise by 0.4 per cent.

The figures will add weight to the concerns raised by high street stalwarts such as Debenhams and Argos over the impact that spending cuts and tax rises will have on consumer spending.

Howard Archer, chief UK economist at IHS Global Insight, said: ‘The second successive fall in retail sales in September is surprising and particularly worrying given the importance of consumer spending to the economy. It can only fuel fears that the recovery is faltering.’

Sales were just 0.5 per cent higher than in September last year, when the economy was still in recession.

Demand is likely to pick up before the end of the year as the traditionally strong Christmas period, and the prospect of the VAT rise to 20 per cent in January, boost sales.

But with taxes and living costs rising far faster than wages, and hundreds of thousands of job losses on the way, it could prove to be temporary.

Andrew Goodwin, senior economic adviser to the Ernst & Young Item Club, said: ‘It is clear that the UK consumer is not going to power this recovery.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]


Ground Zero Mosque: Correcting the Non-Debate

by Srdja Trifkovic

Excerpts from a speech at Providence College given on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2010.

Two sets of fallacies have dominated the mainstream debate about the Ground Zero mosque—and before we go any further, let’s get this straight: it is a mosque, frantic insistence by the Qusling elite to use one euphemistic misnomer or another notwithstanding. This means it is not merely a place of worship, but also a physical expression of the Mohammedan stake to a place at first, and eventually a symbol of Jihad’s triumph over the hated infidel—crudely visible in the prison bars of St. John’s Cathedral in Damascus and Hagia Sophia in Constantinople.

The gall of the project’s promoters is evident in its name, “Cordoba House,” which is not inspired by that old canard, the “Golden Age.” The mosque in Cordoba was built after the Muslim conquest of southern Spain. The invaders razed the Church of St. Vincent to erect their triumphal monument. And now a second Cordoba Mosque, right next to the scene of jihadist carnage, is meant to signify “bridge-building” and “interfaith dialogue.” Such idiocies are only possible in a society seriously, perhaps terminally diseased.

Most of those Americans who oppose this monstrosity do not deny the supposed right of the Mohammedans to go ahead with the project, but merely bemoan their insensitivity in insisting on the full exercise of that alleged “right,” and worry about the effect it will have on onter-communal relations. Those who support it—the current occupant of the White House and the controllers of the media and the academe—assert the claims of religious freedom, antidiscriminationism, human rights, tolerance, respect, and of course Islam’s peaceful benevolence. Both sides fail to grasp that the First Amendment to the Constitution of 1787 does not provide an abstract and absolute “freedom of religion.” The purpose of the First Amendment was to prevent the imposition of a centrally established denomination on the states, some of which had established churches of their own and all of which assumed “religion” to mean Christianity of some kind or another. The real issue, and the real debate we have not had thus far, is about the nature of Islam and about the deformity of the post-Christian pluralist society that postulates an absolute right of anyone to believe in anything, and to act accordingly. If Ground -Zero Mosque is built, we’ll know that this society is heading for swift self-destruction…

I am not going to waste your time tonight with yet another treatise on why Islam is not the Religion of Peace, Tolerance, Compassion, etc, etc. We are beyond that. Among reasonable people, the real score on Muhammad and his followers is well known. It has been known for centuries. That score, however, no matter how calmly stated and comprehensively supported, invariably elicits the howls of “Islamophobia” from the neoliberal elite class. Let us therefore look at the formal, legally tested definition of that word, the latest addition to the arsenal of postmodern “phobias.” It is provided by the European Agency for Fundamental Rights based in Vienna. It diligently tracks the instances of “Islamophobia” all over the Old Continent, which it defines by eight red flags:…

           — Hat tip: Srdja Trifkovic[Return to headlines]


Centre Refuses to Host Steyn Lecture on Free Speech

Organizers of an upcoming talk by conservative writer Mark Steyn planned for London, Ont., say they were muzzled by a local city-owned convention centre.

A trio of bloggers who run the site inquired on Monday about booking a Nov. 1 speech for Mr. Steyn at the London Convention Centre. The group announced on Thursday that it had received a phone call from the centre saying it would not be allowed to make the booking. The Convention Centre said it was a business decision, but organizers of the speech said they were told otherwise.

“The reason offered by the LCC [in a Tuesday morning phone call] was that they had received pressure from local Islamic groups, and they didn’t want to alienate their Muslim clients. It’s interesting to note that the LCC is owned by the City of London, and is therefore a government operation,” wrote Strictly Right’s Andrew Lawton at the website.

Ironically, Mr. Lawton said, Mr. Steyn’s talk will explore his familiar themes of Muslims and free speech. London Convention Centre general manager Lori Da Silva said denying next month’s Mark Steyn speech was a “business decision” in part due to concerns for security, and fairness for the centre’s other clients who might not enjoy a “rowdy” crowd at the same time. Asked if the content of Mr. Steyn’s work had anything to do with the Convention Centre’s decision, general manager replied, “No, we’re looking at the security risk.”

Speaking with The London Free Press, Ms. Da Silva implied the Convention Centre did factor Mr. Steyn’s potential to create controversy into its denial of a booking. “We read the article in The London Free Press about who the speaker was … and we thought that perhaps this event was more high-risk than we originally thought,” she was quoted as saying.

In 2007, the Canadian Islamic Congress filed complaints about articles about Muslims by Mr. Steyn in Maclean’s magazine with the human rights commissions of Canada, Ontario and British Columbia. In a story in The London Free Press on Tuesday, the Congress’s lawyer, Faisal Joseph, said local Muslims would respond to Mr. Steyn’s speech by showing their true colours through charitable works in the community.

Mr. Steyn’s best-seller, America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It, warns of potential threats from growing Muslim minorities to Western liberal democracy.

Mr. Steyn’s speech was originally scheduled for the University of Western Ontario, but Mr. Lawton said the demand for tickets soon outgrew the venue. Seeking a bigger one, he phoned the Convention Centre late Monday and had what he characterized as a promising conversation, only to be called back on Tuesday morning to be told that the facility would not accept the booking.

Mr. Lawton said on Thursday night that the Convention Centre told him “they would no longer be able to honour our request because of pressure from local

Islamic groups, and the board of directors decided they didn’t want to alienate their Muslim clients by allowing Mark Steyn to speak there.” He views the denial as a breach of freedom of expression.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

‘Britain’s Islamic Republic’: Full Transcript of Channel 4 Dispatches Programme on Lutfur Rahman, The Ife and Tower Hamlets

I have received a number of requests for a full transcript of my Channel 4 Dispatches film, broadcast in March, about the fundamentalist Islamic Forum of Europe and their ally Lutfur Rahman, just chosen as the new directly elected mayor of Tower Hamlets. Lutfur was council leader at the time of the programme, a position from which he was subsequently removed.

The full transcript of the programme is given below. Words in bold are the commentary. Words in roman are interviewees. The transcript of my full unedited interview with Lutfur — even more damaging to him than the extracts used in the film — can be seen at this link.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

EU Atheist-Freemason Summit ‘Very Odd’, Says Europe’s Chief Unbeliever

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS — The first ever summit between representatives of secularist, atheist and masonic organisations and the leaders of the European Union’s three main institutions was “very odd,” Europe’s top unbeliever has said.

On Friday (15 October), leaders from what the European Commission describes as “philosophical non-confessional organisations” met with the presidents of the European Commission, Parliament and Council to discuss their views on poverty and social exclusion. The first meeting of its kind, it is the secular counterpart to the summits the three institutions are now obliged by the Lisbon Treaty to regularly have with religious leaders.


Comment article

David Pollock, the president of the European Humanist Federation, told EUobserver that his organisation is against the idea of the meetings but went along to balance out a previous EU meeting with religious figures.

“There is no reason why we as atheists or freemasons, any more than religious leaders, have any particular expertise on poverty reduction strategies. There were a series of fairly predictable expressions of outrage that citizens remain in poverty and demands for greater solidarity but nothing especially specific in the way of any strategy. There was lots of good will and not a great deal else,” he said.

“It was all a bit odd.”

The representatives gave short three-minute statements on the topic of poverty in the union and then lunched with the three presidents…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Full Speed Ahead on EU Diplomacy After Strasbourg Vote

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS — The European Parliament on Wednesday (20 October) adopted by a crushing majority new budgetary and staff regulations for the European External Action Service (EEAS), clearing the last legal hurdle for the launch of the new institution.

“It’s a historic vote. We’re all one happy family now,” an official in the entourage of EEAS chief Catherine Ashton told EUobserver.

EU foreign ministers are set to approve the parliament decision when they meet in Brussels on Monday. Ms Ashton is then expected to name people for the three or four top posts in her service on Tuesday or Wednesday. Another 100 or so senior posts remain to be filled by the end of the year.

The British baroness now has until 1 December — the official launch date — to find a new home for the EEAS in the EU capital. EU Council secretary general Pierre de Boissieu is not keen to shift his translators out of the Lex building in the EU quarter in Brussels to make room, leaving the so-clled Axa or Triangle building a few hundred yards up the road still in play.

The current cost of housing the EU’s foreign relations staff in the European Commission and EU Council amounts to €25 million a year, while the Axa option would cost €9 million a year, EUobserver understands.

Ms Ashton is also close to a compromise with the parliament’s foreign affairs committee on hearings for new EEAS ambassadors. The diplomats are likely to face parliament questions in early December, after receiving full accreditation from host countries.

Ms Ashton wants the hearings to be held mostly behind closed doors. Following the vote on Wednesday, the foreign affairs MEPs have little leverage to use against her…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Geert Wilders Trial Faces Restart After Judges Dismissed

A Dutch court ruled in favour of a request by Mr Wilders’ defence lawyer to have new trial judges installed after allegations of improper conduct by a member of a judicial appeals panel directly involved in the case.

“This gives me a new chance of a new fair trial. I am confident that I can only be acquitted because I have broken no law, but spoken the truth,” he said.

Mr Wilders, 47, went on trial on October 4 for inciting hatred by describing Islam as Nazism and for comparing the “fascist” Koran to Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”, which is banned in the Netherlands.

The charges were laid before Dutch elections last June returned Mr Wilders’ Freedom Party as the third largest in the country’s parliament.

He and his party’s 23 other MPs have lent their support to a minority Dutch conservative government in return for key policy concessions, such as a burka ban and new curbs on immigration.

His trial took a new twist on Friday after allegations emerged that a judge may have tried to pressure one of the defence witnesses.

The claims led Mr Wilders to make a second appeal for the trial judges to be dismissed after they refused to recall the witness to the court.

De Pers newspaper, disclosed that the witness, Hans Jansen, a retired professor of Arabic studies, had attended a dinner in the company of an Amsterdam appeal court judge.

The judge, Tom Schalken, was part of the court which in January 2009 ruled the public prosecution department should take Mr Wilders to court.

During “ill-manned and unprofessional” exchanges, Judge Schalken tried to “convince me of the correctness of his decision to take Wilders to court,” Prof. Jansen claimed.

Geert-Jan Alexander Knoops, a criminal law professor at Utrecht University, said: “This means that the trial has to start all over again. Not the investigation phase, but the court sessions as the new judges will not have been present at the hearings. There will be new judges and a new date.”

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Germany: Hamburg Nears Official Recognition of Islam

Hamburg may soon become the first German state to officially recognize Islam as a religious community and give Muslims the same legal rights as Christians and Jews in dealing with the local administration.

Four years of quiet negotiations over building mosques, opening Muslim cemeteries and teaching Islam in public schools are nearing an end, just when Germany is embroiled in a noisy debate about Islam and the integration of Muslim immigrants.

The deal seems set to go through, but the national debate on Islam and local political changes could make its approval more difficult than expected, politicians and Muslim leaders said.

“It’s important for us that this agreement makes clear that we are part of this society,” said Zekeriya Altug, chairman of the Hamburg branch of DITIB, a Turkish-German mosque network that is one of Germany’s largest Muslim organizations.

“We’re close to wrapping this up,” said Norbert Mueller, a German convert who is a board member of Schura, the largest mosque association in the north Germany port city.

Germany has about 4 million Muslims, mostly of Turkish origin, out of a total population of 82 million. Long treated as migrant workers due eventually to return to their countries of origin, they are now an established minority that wants equal rights.

The agreement in Germany’s second-largest metropolis, a city-state in the country’s federal system, would set out their rights and also their duties, such as consulting neighborhood residents before building mosques or erecting minarets.

Altug said many rights were already allowed under various German laws, or granted as local exceptions. “This agreement should bring all this together in a single text,” he said.

Equal status with Christians and Jews could be more controversial when the agreement comes up for discussion in the local assembly for Hamburg, a traditionally Lutheran city where Muslims make up about 5 percent of the population of 1.7 million.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

London Borough Becomes “Islamic Republic”

By Andrew Gilligan

OUTSIDE the Wellington Way polling station in Tower Hamlets yesterday, as at many other polling stations in the borough, people had to run a gauntlet of Lutfur Rahman supporters to reach the ballot box. As one Bengali woman voter went past them, we heard one of the Rahman army scolding her for her “immodest dress.”

That incident is perhaps a tiny taste of the future for Britain’s poorest borough now it has elected Mr Rahman as its first executive mayor, with almost total power over its £1 billion budget. At the count last night, one very senior figure in the Tower Hamlets Labour Party said: “It really is Britain’s Islamic republic now.”

For the last eight months — without complaint or challenge from Mr Rahman — this blog and newspaper have laid out his close links with a group of powerful local businessmen and with a Muslim supremacist body, the Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE) — which believes, in its own words, in transforming the “very infrastructure of society, its institutions, its culture, its political order and its creed… from ignorance to Islam.” Mr Rahman has refused to deny these claims.

We have told how the borough’s change from a conventional council leader to a mayoral system came about as a result of a campaign led and financed by these two groups — and how the IFE, in its words, wanted to “get one of our brothers” into the position.

We have described in detail, again without complaint or challenge by Mr Rahman, his deeply problematic two years as council leader until he was removed from that post six months ago, partly as a result of our investigations. After he secured the leadership with the help of the IFE, millions of pounds were channelled to front organisations of the IFE, a man with close links to the IFE was appointed as assistant chief executive of the council despite being unqualified for the position and the secular, white chief executive was forced out. Various efforts were made to “Islamicise” the borough. Extremist literature was stocked in Tower Hamlets’ public libraries.

We have described, once more without complaint or challenge from Mr Rahman, how he signed up entire families of sham “paper” Labour members to win the party’s mayoral nomination — acts which caused him to be sacked as the Labour candidate by the party’s National Executive Committee.

Now, however, Mr Rahman has won as an independent — getting more than double the number of votes of the Labour candidate imposed in his place, Helal Abbas. As mayor, he will have far more power than he had as a council leader. And unlike a council leader, no-one can sack him, except the voters in four years’ time.

We should be clear what this result was, and was not. It was a decisive victory. But it was not much of an endorsement by the borough’s people. Turnout, at 25.6%, was astonishingly low, with most voters (particularly the white majority, and they still are a majority) unaware of, indifferent to or turned off by the process. Lutfur’s 23,000-odd votes are only about 13 per cent of Tower Hamlets’ electorate.

It was not a victory for any sort of democracy. It was the execution of a careful and sophisticated plan by a small, well-financed and highly-organised cabal to seize control of a London borough. It deployed not just volunteers from the IFE and other bodies but also people paid to campaign by Lutfur’s business backers. Someone also paid for tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of copies of the most pernicious literature ever seen in a British election, in which Mr Abbas was falsely smeared as a wife-beater, a bankrupt, a racist and and an insulter of Islam.

Yet even this would probably not have worked without a series of astonishing unforced errors by the Labour Party. Something else this was not, or not really, was Lutfur’s win; it was Labour’s own goal. For the last nine years, there have been deep concerns about IFE and other infiltration, and membership fraud generally, in Tower Hamlets (the Bethnal Green and Bow constituency Labour party more than doubled in size between 2006 and 2008, at a time when Labour membership nationally was sharply falling. Many of the new members have the same names as people we can link to the IFE.)

As a result, Tower Hamlets Labour members are not allowed to select their councillor candidates: it is done centrally, by the London regional office. Yet this safeguard was torn up for the far more important mayoral selection, despite the warnings on this blog and elsewhere that Lutfur’s vote bank would see him selected, as he indeed was.

Having then bravely crossed the Rubicon of sacking Lutfur as their candidate, Labour failed to follow through. Its campaign was slow out of the stocks, allowing him to present himself as a victim, with all the emotional advantage that brought. Above all, Labour seemed afraid clearly to explain why he had been sacked.

I knew the election was lost for Abbas when I saw him on the BBC last week, three times refusing to say why Lutfur had been ditched. The reporter, quite understandably, along with a lot of the Bengali and white electorate, ended up concluding that it was little more than a personality clash between the two men. Most Bengali voters didn’t back Lutfur because they support the IFE — they don’t — but because they believed he had been unfairly treated.

If Labour had spelt out to people the reasons why Lutfur’s sacking was entirely justified; told voters that this election was actually about the continued health of democracy and secularism in Tower Hamlets; and said that it was about the interests of the whole diverse borough versus the interests of Lutfur’s puppetmasters, it might have galvanised enough of those elusive white and Bengali secularist voters to outweigh Lutfur’s block. It wouldn’t have needed many — a few thousand would have done it.

Again and again, Labour people asked me why this story was not playing bigger in the media. I said it was simple: they weren’t giving the media anything to play with. I am confident in writing what I have done about Lutfur because I’ve been working on this story for more than a year. Most journalists, however, aren’t allowed the time to do in-depth research; they have to go with what people are prepared to say in front of their TV cameras or at their press conferences. But though senior figures in Tower Hamlets Labour were happy to speak on background, virtually none would ever go on the record.

The saving grace of last night is as follows. Now that Labour is in opposition on Tower Hamlets, it has at least been given the chance to oppose. The one gain for the party is that it can dissociate itself from, and campaign against, the slow-motion car-crash which Lutfur’s mayoralty is likely to become. Lutfur may well be the Derek Hatton of the 2010s, but unlike Hatton he is no longer Labour’s responsibility. Any thought of making up with Lutfur needs to be resisted — there’s only pain, not gain, there.

Finally, something else which Tower Hamlets is not. Some of my commenters are fond of saying that the borough is an example of “Third World” politics in the UK. There are indeed similarities — but actually the claim is an insult to the Third World. Bangladesh has got to grips with Islamism; the IFE’s Bangladeshi parent, Jamaat-e-Islami, gets about two per cent of the vote in elections there. No Islamist sympathiser in Bangladesh has unfettered control over a £1 billion budget. Bangladesh, in short, has less of a problem with Islamic radicals than Tower Hamlets.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Two More Immigrant Shootings in Malmö

2 Malmö police have recruited the detective who played a decisive role in apprehending “Laser Man” gunman John Ausonius as a new double shooting has further raised fears of a repeat of 1991’s racist attacks.

The news comes as a further two women were hurt in a new shooting in Malmö on Thursday evening. The women, aged 26 and 34, were shot while in an apartment in the Kroksbäck neighbourhood of the city.

“They are immigrants from a European country,” said Calle Persson at Skåne police.

Detective inspector Eiler Augustsson is credited with having played a decisive role in the investigation and arrest of John Ausonius, who terrorized Stockholm’s immigrant population in the beginning of the 1990s.

Ausonius received his “Laser Man” moniker because his victims were targeted with a red dot from a rifle equipped with a laser sight.

Police fear that the shootings are the latest in a wave of attacks which are deliberately targeting people of immigrant origin. A total of 50 shootings have been recorded in the city this year, and police fear a number of these may have been carried out by a lone gunman.

Aside from the two women, there was also a child in the apartment when the shootings occurred.

“The child has been taken care of, I think by relatives,” Persson said.

The apartment is located on the first floor of the apartment building.

The police have completed their forensic inspection of the apartment but are as yet uncertain as to the firearm used.

“Forensic evidence has been recovered from the location,” said Jesper Ingvert at Malmö police to the local Sydsvenskan daily.

While no suspects have yet been identified, police confirm that they have a witness who could have seen the perpetrator.

“We have witnesses which we have interviewed. One of the witnesses has seen a man who left the location running,” said Ingvert.

Malmö police plan to review their resources on Friday morning.

“We are going to put together a team here in the morning which will look at our operation in a little longer perspective,” said Peter Martinsson at Malmö police.

Integration minister Erik Ullenhag, in an opinion article in the Expressen daily on Friday, called the attacks “alarming”.

“Everyone has a responsibility to defend the open society where all, regardless of background, can be safe on our streets and town squares,” Ullenhag wrote.

Ullenhag plans to visit Malmö on Friday to gather information on the atmosphere in the city after the shootings.

Meanwhile Juan Fonseca, former MP and head of the Discrimination bureau in Stockholm, has called on “all immigrants and ethnic Swedes” to call a five minute strike next Thursday, in support of the victims.

Gellert Tamas, the author of a renowned book about the “Laser Man” attacks told DN on Thursday that there are clear parallels.

“John Ausonius has been very clear in the interviews that I have conducted with him that he was inspired by the debate about immigrants which was conducted in the beginning of the 1990s,” Tamas told DN.

“He felt a moral support, that people stood behind him. But he also felt a political support, from (populist anti-immigrant party) New Democracy primarily, but even from other political parties such as the Sweden Democrats.”

Between August 1991 to January 1992, Ausonius, today 57, shot 11 people — most of them immigrants — in and around Stockholm. He killed one person and seriously wounded the others.

He was sentenced to life behind bars in 1994 and remains in prison.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Malmö Gunman Keeps City on Edge

As Malmö police warn the immigrant residents to exercise caution after a spate of apparently random shootings, The Local’s Peter Vinthagen Simpson talks to local leaders about fear, caution and how residents are reacting to the situation.

In a case with clear echoes of the racially-motived “Laser Man” attacks in Stockholm in the early 1990s, Malmö police have begun to investigate 10 to 15 shootings with no apparent motive.

The shooting incidents have taken place throughout the city and none of the victims had any known threats directed against them. Nor have any of the victims been able to explain why they were targeted.

The only thing that they have in common is that they all have immigrant backgrounds.

Tahmoures Yassami, who leads the Iranian-Swedish Association in Malmö, told The Local on Friday that many residents are in shock.

“Many people are frightened at the moment. Especially families who have children. I had a phone call just this morning from a mother who was concerned and asked what was happening,” he said.

“We have said to our families to try to stay home in the evenings. We have asked our children to always have their mobile phones on, so we can reach them.”

Yassimi questioned whether there really are any parallels to the Laser Man attacks, but either way, the shootings have become a huge topic of conversation among Malmö residents, he said.

Swedish-Iranian Hip hop artist Behrang Miri spends much of his time working with Malmö’s young people. Calling for calm, he explained that the Laser Man connection is unfortunate in a city that is all too often associated with crime.

“Many people are shocked. It is not like when the Laser Man was spreading fear in Stockholm — immigrants in Malmö are not a minority. I feel more at home with my appearance in Malmö than in any other city in Sweden.”

Miri explained, however, that there are clear similarities between Swedish society today and in the early 1990s, when the Laser Man shootings took place.

“Then we were emerging from a deep financial crisis, as we are now. Then we had a a frenzied immigration debate, as we have now. It is difficult to say if this has caused somebody to react, but the tone of the debate has long been a hard one.

“But the Laser Man connection, I hadn’t heard anyone talk about that before the police mentioned it. Now it is all over the media of course.”

Miri argued that the young people that he works with are probably less likely to feel affected by the developments.

“I work a lot with the youth and for them shootings in Malmö have unfortunately become normal. I don’t think that they react in the same way — Malmö’s streets are their meeting place. Parents can be more afraid than their kids,” he said.

In 1991 the populist anti-immigrant New Democracy party was elected to Sweden’s Riksdag, and in September 2010, the Sweden Democrats, arguing on similar tough line platform, did the same.

The connection with the hardened climate of the debate and even the attacks in Malmö has been drawn by a number of commentators, including Yassimi.

“We have had racism and discrimination for a long time. But they (the Sweden Democrats) now have the power, and the resources, to use democracy as their tool. It seems that they are able to say and do what they want against immigrants, with their hateful propaganda,” he explained.

Miri pointed out that Sweden is a product of its environment and has shown itself susceptible to the “far right winds blowing across the continent.”

“I hope that a lot of people who voted for the Sweden Democrats did so out of frustration, feelings of being outside the society,” he explained.

“I don’t know if there is a connection between these attacks and SD’s election success, but I know that we have to see to it that everyone feels a part of the society.”

Miri explained that this is not just about culturally mixed areas such Rosengård, or Kroksbäck, but also about areas such as Almgården or Klagerup, segregated, he says, “from a class perspective”.

Martin Grann at Karolinska Institute’s Centre for Violence Prevention told The Local on Friday that the fear that the Laser Man connection evokes could cause panic.

“It’s a double-edged sword. Sometimes with cases like this, fear in itself can pose a health problem to the community,” Grann said while adding that the police have to be trusted for their reasons in divulging the information.

“Sometimes the right thing is to give out more information to help identify the perpetrator. Most of the time, it is the right thing,” he said.

Hip hop artist Miri argues that while the situation is completely unacceptable, he underlines that it is important that responsibility is taken to diffuse the drama.

“I hope that this is over as soon as possible and we can get on with continuing are work to promote class and gender equality and Malmö can continue its transformation from an old worker town to a fantastic knowledge-based city,” he told The Local.

“The greatest fear of Malmö is from the outside,” he added.

The ‘Laser Man’, John Ausonius, received his moniker because his victims were targeted with a red dot from a rifle equipped with a laser sight.

Ausonius targeted his first immigrant victim at the end of the summer of 1991. Two Eritreans saw a circle of red light rest on their compatriot’s body before he was hit.

The man survived but Laser Man terrorized Stockholm’s immigrant population for a further eighteen months.

Between August 1991 to January 1992, Ausonius, today 57, shot 11 people — most of them immigrants — in and around Stockholm. He killed one person and seriously wounded the others.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Swiss Archaeologists Find Door Into History

GENEVA — Archaeologists in the Swiss city of Zurich have unearthed a 5,000-year-old door that may be one of the oldest ever found in Europe.

The ancient poplar wood door is “solid and elegant” with well-preserved hinges and a “remarkable” design for holding the boards together, chief archaeologist Niels Bleicher said Wednesday.

Using tree rings to determine its age, Bleicher believes the door could have been made in the year 3,063 B.C. — around the time that construction on Britain’s world famous Stonehenge monument began.

“The door is very remarkable because of the way the planks were held together,” Bleicher told The Associated Press.

Harsh climatic conditions at the time meant people had to build solid wood houses that would keep out much of the cold wind blowing across Lake Zurich, and the door would have helped, he said. “It’s a clever design that even looks good.”

The door was part of a settlement of so-called “stilt houses” frequently found near lakes about a thousand years after agriculture and animal husbandry were first introduced to the pre-Alpine region.

It is similar to another door found in nearby Pfaeffikon, while a third — found in the 19th century and made from one solid piece of wood — is believed to be even older, possibly dating back to 3,700 B.C., said Bleicher.

The latest find was discovered at the dig for a new underground car park for Zurich’s opera house.

Archaeologists have found traces of at least five Neolithic villages believed to have existed at the site between 3,700 and 2,500 years B.C., including objects such as a flint dagger from what is now Italy and an elaborate hunting bow.

Helmut Schlichtherle, an archaeologist for the conservation department in the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, said finding an intact door was very rare, as usually only the foundations of stilt houses are preserved because they are submerged in water for millennia. Without air, the bacteria and fungi that usually destroy wood in a matter of years can’t grow, meaning many lakes and moorlands in Europe are considered archaeological treasure troves.

“Some might say it’s only a door, but this is really a great find because it helps us better understand how people built their houses, and what technology they had,” he said.

Schlichtherle, who wasn’t part of the Zurich dig, said over 200 stilt houses have been discovered in southern Germany alone, but to date no doors.

The Zurich scientists plan to exhibit their door once it has been carefully removed from the ground and soaked in a special chemical solution to prevent it from rotting.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Andalucian Rally, 23-26 October 2010

The Andalucian Rally is an adrenaline-fuelled adventure of a lifetime! The Andalucian Rally is a banger rally through the heartlands of European Islamic history in France (Poitiers) and Spain (Toledo, Granada, Cordoba, Seville), setting off from Green Street in East London, in a clapped out car worth no more than £4001, raising funds for a charity of your choice along the way!

1Or alternatively your own car for a £50 premium

The Andalucian Rally will take place between October 23rd (Setting off from Green Street, London) — October 26th (ending in Granada, Andalucía). The route will cover the medieval and the modern, and will be an amazing adventure through the millennium old and kaleidoscopic European history of Islam, ranging from the 14th Century Alcazar of Seville to the birthplace of La Convivencia, Toledo, finishing in the beautiful city of Granada, home to the unrivalled Alhambra Palace and its stunning gardens, where we will be hosting an amazing Andalucian Rally Awards reception. There will be surprise challenges to do en route for participants and lots more!


The Causes


Investing in Islamic Scholarship

The Ihya Trust is a new UK-based charity set up to invest in the spiritual well-being of ourselves and our children through reviving Islamic scholarship and making it relevant to our times.

The Ihya Trust will do this through awarding scholarships to the brightest and best students from the leading universities in this country to go abroad and study Islam in depth — for about eight to ten years — and then come back and spread the knowledge they’ve gained.

In addition to this, the Ihya Trust will support the development of a vibrant scholarly community.

Supporting the Community in the UK

The Muslim Community Fund is a national Muslim charity, focused on the lasting, holistic betterment of the Muslim Community in the UK. MCF create, support and develop initiatives and institutions which will better our people, our community and our world. MCF believe in a Muslim community that is resilient in preserving its rich tradition, that is purposeful in all it’s endeavours and that is dynamic in how it fulfils it’s responsibilities toward society. MCF encourage all to support them, through prayers, donations and volunteering.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Fury as Travellers Living on Europe’s Largest Illegal Camp Leapfrog Thousands of People on Council House Waiting List

However, the residents of the controversial Crays Hill site near Billericay have turned down the properties on offer because they want caravan pitches instead of permanent housing.

The news that the four had been prioritised on the housing list was revealed at a hearing at Southend County Court and it will infuriate the local community.

The 1,000-strong camp has been locked in a long-running legal battle with Basildon Council for ten years, with the authority recently issuing notices of eviction to force the travellers from the site.

However, hundreds have pledged to fight the eviction and there are fears that the eviction process could cost £10million in police wages because violent clashes anticipated.

The four people in question — John Sheridan, 33, Barbara O’Brien, and John and Mary Flynn, 77 and 79 — contend that they will be homeless if evicted from the site, meaning the council has to try to house them.

Their case began as far back as 2006 but they have risen to the top of their housing category by appealing the council’s offer of accommodation, arguing that they should instead be allowed to continue their traditional gypsy existence, hence the request for caravan plots.

Galin Ward, representing Basildon Council, said: ‘Because of the appeals, they are treated as being on the waiting list for housing under Basildon’s allocation scheme.

‘They have come, if you like, to the top of the queue.’

That places them at the top of the 4,552 people are currently on the area’s housing list but Basildon Council leader Tony Ball said that the travellers were not on the housing list in the traditional sense, because of the homeless issue.

‘Travellers are not automatically placed at the top of the Housing Register,’ he said.

‘They are awarded preference points in accordance with the councils Allocation Policy, along with every other applicant.

‘Under section 193 of the Housing Act, additional priority is awarded to all homeless applicants where a duty has been accepted to house them, in accordance with our Allocation Policy.

‘This priority has nothing to do with the fact that they are travellers, it is the same for all applicants.’

‘To date, no accommodation offer has been accepted by the travellers.’

In what is something of a test case, Judge Peter Dedman will deliver a ruling case in two weeks time.

There are two likely outcomes: either the judge upholds the appeal and the council would have to reconsider its offer to the four travellers, or, the judge sides with the council.

If the judge sides with council then the authority’s duty to the travellers would cease and the four would be removed from the housing list, although the travellers could still appeal the judge’s decision to a higher court.

The battle to evict the population of of Crays Hill appears to be nearing an end after a ten-year legal wrangle.

The site was originally bought for £122,000 cash by traveller John Sheridan — not the John Sheridan involved in this housing case — in 2002.

The land was then divided between members of his ‘extended family’ and sold in portions for a total of around £600,000, according to title deeds filed at the Land Registry.

But soon after buying the sections of land travellers built homes in contravention of planning laws and the legal case has been running ever since.

However, Basildon Council has now given the occupants notice of eviction and Essex Police are working with the council on plans to execute the operation.

Essex Police has applied for extra government cash to pay for the eviction, as it anticipates violence flaring up at the sprawling site, with some fearing the final bill could top £10 million.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Labour Well Beaten in Tower Hamlets

I’m writing this from York Hall in Bethnal Green where the fraught, often farcical and sometimes vicious campaign to become the first executive mayor of this extraordinary East End borough has ended with a wounding defeat for Labour. Independent candidate Lutfur Rahman has become the first directly-elected executive mayor of Tower Hamlets by a big margin, securing more than 23,000 first preference votes to take him past the winning post with 51.76 percent of the vote on a turnout of just 25.6 percent (the exact vote total was obscured by cheers)*. His Labour rival and former friend Helal Abbas finished a distant second with 11,254. The Conservative Neil King was third with 5,348 followed by Liberal Democrat John Griffiths with 2,800 and the Green Party’s Alan Duffell with 2,300.

As regular readers know, Rahman was originally the Labour candidate, having been the decisive winner of a ballot among local party members but was removed by the party’s National Executive Committee. Rahman had only been able to enter the selection ballot after making legal challenges to his previous exclusions from candidate shortlists. Complaints were made to the NEC about alleged vote-rigging, misconduct and Rahman being an extremist who had been “brainwashed” by a local Islamic social activist group. Abbas, who was one of the complainants, was imposed in Rahman’s place.

Labour’s defeat will be followed by a grim inquest into their handling of the entire affair. There seems no doubt that Rahman drew strength from being seen as a victim of the Labour establishment and some relentlessly negative media coverage which his opponents in the party both feared and fueled. It soon became clear that the majority of the borough’s politically-enthusiastic Bangladeshi electors were behind Rahman — as many as two-thirds in the view of some in the Labour campaign — leaving Labour needing to mobilise its non-Bangladeshi vote. The low turnout suggests it was far from successful enough. One leader of the Labour campaign told me they needed at least a 30 percent turnout to be in with a chance.

The blow is the worse for Labour seeming to have seen off the challenge of the Respect Party only as recently as May, when it emphatically regained the Bethnal Green and Bow parliamentary seat it had lost so dramatically to Respect’s George Galloway in 2005 and cleared out all but one of Respect’s Councillors. Respect did not run a mayoral candidate, but supported Rahman instead leading Labour to accuse him of being a Respect proxy.

Rahman has prevailed despite being accused of being incompetent, corrupt and beholden to local businessmen and shadowy Muslim extremists. He has denied all these things and insisted in his campaign that he would be a mayor for all the different communties of Tower Hamlets, not just the Bangladeshi one to which both he and Abbas belong. He reiterated this promise in his acceptance speech tonight.

He is now in charge of an Olympic borough with a billion pound budget. This gives him a big opportunity to prove all his critics wrong. If he does so, who knows, he may yet become a member of the Labour Party again. The idea is anathema to some Labour members here — a group of Labour Councllors walked out when Rahman gave his address and were reportedly aggressively barracked by a large crowd of Rahman supporters gathered outside as they exited the hall. But stranger things have happened in the politics of this part of town.

*Update, 02.56: Rahman secured 23,283 votes.

[JP note: hat-tip to Muslim Council of Britain’s twitter page for providing the link to this article.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Royal Navy Chiefs Left Red-Faced After Brand New £1.2bn Nuclear Submarine is Left High and Dry Off the Coast of Scotland

She is our most advanced nuclear submarine, described as the stealthiest ever built and packed with state of the art navigation equipment.

But somehow the £1.2billion HMS Astute managed to run aground early today.

The Royal Navy super-sub’s rudder got stuck in mud and shingle off the Isle of Skye after venturing into the entrance of a shallow bay to take crew aboard.

Stuck high and dry, she languished there under the bemused gaze of locals as red-faced top brass waited anxiously for the tide to rise so she could be freed.

And finally, at 6.30pm this evening, their wish was granted as the sub was towed into deep water after the rising waters freed her.

Earlier today, as crowds gathered to marvel at the hi-tech wonder, a tourist boat even began running trips out to see her.

The Ministry of Defence stressed there was no likelihood of a nuclear reactor leak and no risk to the public.

But the extent of the damage to Astute, which ran aground at 8am as she turned at the entrance to Loch Alsh after the personnel transfer, was not clear last night.

The incident will, however, inevitably leave the Navy’s reputation sorely dented.

It is the latest in a costly string of prangs, and came at the end of a dreadful week for them which saw drastic defence cuts that mean it will have its fewest ships since the age of Henry VIII and shed 5,000 jobs.

To add to the Navy’s embarrassment, Astute’s crash happened the morning after the 205th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.

Officials said a full investigation will be held to establish the cause of the ‘untoward’ incident. It will examine possibilities including navigation error, equipment failure and the role of outside influences such as the wind and tide.

One defence source said: ‘It’s a bloody big submarine and they’re not very manoeuvreable on the surface, as Astute was as it took crew on board.

‘A boat comes alongside and the men cross between the two.

‘The sub would’ve turned at a very slow speed. They’re not easy to use in close confines — and clearly things didn’t go to plan.’

Once the investigation is complete, military prosecutors will consider if HMS Astute’s commanding officer Andy Coles or any of his crew was negligent.

‘They could then find themselves in front of a court martial.

As they waited for the tide to come in, Ross Mckerlich, operations manager of the local Kyle Lifeboat, said he was amazed the submarine tried to do a crew transfer where it did.

He said: ‘These big subs normally lie six miles off Kyle. Last night I saw this one four miles off and now he’s less than half mile.

‘He’s gone inside the channel buoys — I can’t believe it. It’s very shallow there. I have never seen a sub as big as this come this close.

‘Everybody who comes through the Kyle knows how shallow it is there.’

John Macleod, skipper of the Seaprobe Atlantis tourist boat, who started running trips to see the stricken sub, said: ‘There are people all along the road looking at the submarine, it’s something they may never see again.’

John Ainslie, co-ordinator of Scottish CND said: ‘Inquiries into previous incidents have shown an appalling lack of common sense and basic navigation skills on these hi-tech submarines.’

Professor Carl Ross, a lecturer in the mechanical and design engineering department at the University of Portsmouth, worked on the structural engineering of HMS Dreadnought before its launch in 1960.

Asked whether he was surprised by today’s incident, he said: ‘They shouldn’t go aground. Something has gone wrong. I’m not sure what it is, whether it is man-made or machine made. It could be either.’

Professor Ross said submarines like the Astute would have an outer casing, around half an inch thick with water either side of it, and a pressure hull, which was around two to three inches thick.

He said if the casing was damaged it ‘was not a problem’ and could be repaired later.

Asked whether rudders of submarines like the Astute damaged easily, the 75-year-old said: ‘They do damage easily. The rudders can be caught easily in shallow waters.

‘It might even damage quite a lot of it. So, it could be expensive to repair.’

In June 2007 the mammoth nuclear-powered HMS Astute was named and launched by the Duchess of Cornwall.

A contract worth £3.5billion was signed for the first three boats in the Astute class but there is no specific figure per submarine.

In August this year, HMS Astute was welcomed into the Royal Navy during a commissioning ceremony at Faslane Naval Base on the Clyde.

The submarine weighs 7,800 tonnes, equivalent to nearly 1,000 double-decker buses, and is almost 328ft long.

Its Spearfish torpedoes and Tomahawk cruise missiles are capable of delivering pin-point strikes from 1,240 miles with conventional weapons.

The submarine’s nuclear reactor means that it will not need refuelling once in its entire 25-year life and it makes its own air and water, enabling it to circumnavigate the globe without needing to surface.

Built by defence giant BAE Systems at Barrow in Furness, Cumbria, it is the first in a fleet of six which will replace the Trafalgar class submarine.

As the base port of all the Navy’s submarines from 2016, Faslane will be home to the whole Astute class.

Yesterday an MoD spokesman said: ‘This is a not a nuclear incident. We can confirm that there are no injuries to personnel and the submarine remains watertight.

‘There is no indication of any environmental impact.’

Navy spokesman Captain Karl Evans said: ‘The maritime environment is a challenging one and untoward incidents occur.

‘We’ll look at this and learn any lessons that need to be learnt, but these submarines are built very robustly and we’ve every chance to hope that the damage from an incident of this nature will be minimal.

‘We’ll look at her, of course, both with divers and back at the base at Faslane, to make sure that she is fully safe, but right now all our efforts are in getting her afloat.’

The MoD would not confirm how many people were stranded on the HMS Astute, which has a crew of 98 when at full complement.

Navy spokesman Captain Karl Evans said there was no risk to the public or to the crew on board, adding: ‘We’ve been in touch with the families of our people to let them know that that’s the case.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Rape Boxer Posed as City Cabbie

A SHEFFIELD boxer tipped as a promising prospect for a British title has been locked up for seven years for rape — after attacking his victim while posing as a city taxi driver. Muhsen Nasser, aged 24, of Newman Road, Wincobank, was found guilty of the sex attack after a trial at Sheffield Crown Court and has been placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register for life.

The light-middleweight boxer was sitting in his car on West Street in the early hours of February 21 when his 18-year-old victim walked over to him and asked if he was a taxi driver.

He lied and said he was, and offered to take her home. But midway through the journey he stopped his car and forced the young woman into a sex act before eventually dropping her off close to her home.

The brave 18-year-old told The Star in an exclusive interview that she will “never be the same again” following the attack — and issued a warning to other girls getting a taxi late at night.

Detective Constable Juliet Faram, who investigated the case, echoed the teenager’s warning.

“The victim left a nightclub to get a taxi, saw Nasser parked in a bus stop, and walked over to him to ask if he was a taxi. He said yes so she got in his car,” she said.

“She did not realise it was not a black cab.

“This serves as a reminder of the importance of making sure you are travelling in official taxis and our advice would be to always try to share with friends.”

Nasser, who was born in Yemen, built up a reputation as a boxer of the future at Brendan Ingle’s renowned gym at Wincobank. In December 2008 he fought for the WBC welterweight youth world championship in Germany and narrowly lost on points, but trainers were hopeful he would eventually land a British title.

Trainer Brendan, whose most famous protege is Naseem Hamed, said Nasser first started using his gym when he was around 10 years old and, at his peak, he was training every day.

“He moved from the Shiregreen area to live in the old house Naseem Hamed’s family used to live in,” he said.

“Before that he used to be here every day but then he just stopped coming.

“We always had such high hopes for him — he only narrowly lost out on a junior world championship and we thought he would come back from that and eventually win a title. I am shocked, and everyone who knows him is shocked.

“He used to be dedicated to his training but a few months ago he just stopped coming and went totally off the radar.”

Nasser is a Sheffield University computer studies graduate who got married earlier this year after travelling back to Yemen and bringing his new wife back to the UK.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: The First Teacher Banned for Life for Being Useless

A teacher who is judged to be incapable of ever improving his work has become the first to be banned for life from the classroom due to incompetence.

Nisar Ahmed will never reach ‘requisite standards’ of teaching and cannot work in state schools again, a panel ruled.

The General Teaching Council for England found the 46-year-old guilty of serious professional incompetence and said there was a risk that pupils would be seriously disadvantaged if he was ever allowed to return to lessons.

Mr Ahmed was head of business studies at the John O’Gaunt Community Technology College in Hungerford, Berkshire, from September 2007 to January 2009. He had taught for a total of 13 years at schools across the South East.

His management of lessons was ‘invariably’ below standard, the GTC disciplinary panel was told.

The school, which has more than 450 pupils, aged 11 to 18, gave Mr Ahmed ‘extensive formal and informal’ support for more than a year but he failed to improve.

Just 13 teachers have been banned from the profession for fixed periods for incompetence since 2000. Mr Ahmed is the first to receive a prohibition order without time limit.

His organisation of classes was deemed ‘persistently poor’, with class registers regularly left uncompleted and student work folders ‘poorly managed’ and sometimes left at home or in his car when they were needed in lessons.

Marking was persistently not done or delayed and feedback to pupils was inadequate, GTC committee chair Rosalind Burford said.

She added: ‘You regularly failed to undertake proper lesson plans. This resulted in a lack of pace and challenge in your lessons and a lack of clear learning objectives.’

These ‘fundamental’ failings had a significantly adverse effect on his students, she said, adding: ‘We could not be satisfied that you have an appropriate level of insight into your shortcomings. Thus, we felt you posed a significant risk of repeating your actions.’

Two years ago, GTC chief executive Keith Bartley said there could be as many as 17,000 ‘substandard’ members of staff among the 500,000 registered teachers in the UK. The small number banned for incompetence will spark fears these teachers are simply being recycled.

Mr Ahmed had been placed under a formal capability process in December 2008. He resigned shortly after learning his case would be considered by governors.

Michael Wheale, the school’s former headteacher who gave evidence at the hearing, was unavailable for comment. Its current head Neil Spurdell said: ‘Under a capability process, teachers do have the opportunity to improve against certain targets and many do.

‘The bottom line is you can’t have pupils disadvantaged by inadequate teaching. They only have one chance at this.’

Last night Mr Ahmed, who lives in Reading with his wife and their two children, said he would be appealing the GTC decision. He added: ‘They have made a scapegoat out of me. I’m deeply unhappy about it and don’t deserve to be the first to be struck off for life.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Waltham Forest: Events to Raise Islam Awareness

A WEEK of events to raise awareness of Islam will take place next month. The council has organised a range of activities and events throughout the borough, from November 1.

A range of short films will be shown on the Big Screen in Walthamstow town square. On Saturday, November 6, people will be on hand in the square to talk about Islamic influences in everyday life. There will also be a talk on Thursday, November 4, at the Town Hall in Forest Road, Walthamstow, hosted by the Noor Ul Islam Women Advisory Board. It will include subjects such as women’s rights in Islam and education in Muslim families.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Wilders’ Racial Hatred Trial Collapses

The trial of Dutch anti-Islam firebrand Geert Wilders collapsed on Friday after a legal panel accepted his complaint about the partiality of one of the judges. Mr Wilders, now one of the Netherlands’ most prominent politicians following the appointment of a government which relies on his support, has been facing charges of inciting racial hatred after making derogatory comments about Islam in 2007 and 2008.

The surprise legal development came after revelations in the Dutch press that one of the judges involved in an earlier stage of the case had sought to influence a defence witness at a dinner party.

Mr Wilders now faces a rerun of the entire case, which started in January after repeated delays.

He greeted the prospect with relish: “This gives me a new chance of a fair trial. I am confident that I can only be acquitted because I have broken no law, but spoken the truth,” he said in a statement issued in the wake of the ruling.

Mr Wilders had claimed throughout the trial that his comments on Islam — including likening the Koran to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf — amounted to criticism and not defamation under Dutch law.

The decision extends the legal wranglings which if anything have helped bolster Mr Wilders politically. The PVV party he leads emerged as the big winner of the June parliamentary elections, with 24 of 150 seats, securing a role as kingmaker for the bleached-blond 47-year-old.

The government which took office last week was formed only after reaching an agreement with Mr Wilders. Although the PVV is not formally part of the centre-right ruling coalition, it was able to extract extensive promises on immigration and asylum issues from the new government.

The ruling could cause a headache for the Dutch political establishment, which had hoped Mr Wilders would turn more moderate and keep a lower profile once affiliated with the government. It now faces recurring headlines about a high-publicity court case for the best part of its first year in office.

A ruling in the Wilders case had been expected in the coming fortnight. Though he technically faced one year’s prison and a fine, he was widely expected to be exonerated after the state prosecution asked the judges to drop all of the charges against him.

A court judge on Friday said a new chamber would be convened to hear the case from the beginning, but gave no date. However, experts said a new examination by the judiciary of the charges could result in the entire case being dropped, perhaps following an initial ruling.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

North Africa

NDP Stalwart Calls Muslim Brotherhood ‘Root of All Evil’

Mostafa al-Feki, chairman of the People’s Assembly’s foreign affairs committee and ruling party stalwart, said the Egyptian public had begun to “turn its back” on Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood (MB) opposition movement, which he went on to describe as “the root of all evil.”

“In 2005, the MB took the place of the government in providing public services,” he said during a televised interview this week. “All the votes they obtained were punitive votes. No one wanted to vote for the ruling party, so they gave their votes to the MB.”

“I’ve been following the group’s ideology from the start,” al-Feki added. “Their policies are inflexible and they have failed to evolve and to learn how to give and take. They are also incapable of working within a group.”

“I was at Cairo University a couple of days ago and found myself feeling alienated,” he said. “This was not the university I graduated from. The Egyptian character has completely changed due to several factors.”

“The problem is with the mentality,” he stressed. “The new trend in Egyptian society is very disturbing.” He went on to say that religion was “pure like water “ while politics was “polluted like oil.” “And oil and water don’t mix,” he said.

Al-Feki asserted that religion was “deeply rooted” in the Egyptian mindset. He pointed out that Napoleon had found his way to Egypt through religion, and that, during the 1967 war with Israel, Egyptians believed they had been defeated because they had distanced themselves from God.

He went on to say that, after Egypt’s victory in the 1973 war, a change occurred, as Egyptians began to believe that the solution was to turn to God. President Anwar Sadat had promoted this idea to rid himself of his enemies, al-Feki said, but hundreds of thousands of expatriates from Salafi countries had ended up coming to Egypt. Therefore, he said, Egypt represented the center of political Islam.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Turkish Police Detain 5 People Suspected of Providing Support to Al-Qaida in Afghanistan

Police have detained five people, including three university students, suspected of providing financial and technical support to the al-Qaida network in Afghanistan, police and reports said Friday.

One of the suspects is also accused of preparing for a possible bomb attack, according to a police official in the Aegean coastal city of Izmir.

The five were detained Wednesday during raids in five Turkish cities, including Izmir, where anti-terrorism officials are leading the investigation. They were being questioned by court officials Friday before facing possible charges.

The state-run Anatolia news agency, without citing sources, identified one of the suspects by his initials A.K. and said police discovered two litres of hydrogen peroxide and other material used to make bombs while searching his home in the central Turkish city of Kayseri. The report claimed the suspect was in search of fertilizers used in the production of bombs when he was arrested.

The 23-year-old mathematics student at Izmir’s Dozkuz Eylul University was also developing computer programs designed to down or jam unmanned aircraft, the agency claimed. Police also seized video CDs showing A.K. outdoors, trying out homemade explosives, it said.

The agency said the other suspects included a 19-year-old from Chechnya studying computer science at Istanbul University as well as a 22-year-old civil engineering student in the city of Antalya. The two others were a self-employed person and a shoemaker or seller, according to Anatolia.

The police official in Izmir would not confirm that a Chechnyan was among the detained. He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with Turkish regulations that bar state employees from speaking to reporters without prior authorization.

Anatolia said the five were in contact via email with a person who had previously been jailed on al-Qaida related charges in Turkey and was now believed to be at an al-Qaida camp in Afghanistan. All five are suspected of raising and sending money to al-Qaida camps, it said.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Two Bishops at Synod Question Effectiveness of Dialogue With Muslims

Two Syrian Catholic bishops living in Lebanon told the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East that the blossoming number of Catholic-Muslim dialogue projects has not and may never lead to real understanding.

But a retired Vatican nuncio who now lives in Lebanon urged synod members to increase dialogue and to find more practical ways to promote Catholic-Muslim cooperation, including by encouraging schools to have student bodies made up of both Catholic and Muslim youngsters.

The three focused on relations with Muslims in Lebanon in their written submissions to the synod; their statements were released by the Vatican Oct. 21.

Their statements differed significantly from most of the other synod members’ speeches on dialogue with Muslims in the Middle East; the majority of synod members — and the two Muslims Pope Benedict XVI invited to address the assembly — focused instead on progress in understanding and cooperation.

In his written submission, Archbishop Raboula Beylouni, who works in the Syrian Catholic curia in Lebanon, wrote that formal Catholic-Muslim dialogues are “difficult and often ineffective,” partially because the Quran tells Muslims they belong to “the only true and complete religion.”

Muslims, he said, come “to dialogue with a sense of superiority and with the certitude of being victorious.”

In addition, the archbishop said, “The Quran allows the Muslim to hide the truth from the Christian and to speak and act contrary to how he thinks and believes.”

Islam does not recognize the equality of men and women and does not recognize the right of religious freedom, he also wrote.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Taliban: ‘Britain is Our Greatest Source of Funding’

“We are not like a government, we depend on individuals,” a Taliban commander told Sky News. “We get donations from our Muslim brothers in Britain for jihad and they help us. It is the duty of all Muslims to pay towards fighting a jihad. And this is how we get our money and buy our weapons and carry on fighting.”

The commander added that an attack on Britain and Europe could happen “at any time”.

However, in what was seen as a blow to the insurgents, Afghan and American official have been holding secret talks with the second ranking figure in the Taliban in the firmest indication yet that substantive peace talks have begun.

The Daily Telegraph has learned that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was released from Pakistani custody

Baradar was the Taliban’s overall military commander until he was arrested in Karachi last February by Pakistani security forces.

Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader, opposes any dialogue until the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) withdraws from Afghanistan, but Baradar was seen to be open to talks that may have excluded the hard-liners.

Baradar and three senior lieutenants travelled to Afghanistan under Nato guard for the talks. “Baradar isn’t acting on our behalf but our understanding is that he is meeting with people in his organisation to build a consensus that will let the Taliban come to the dialogue table,” an Afghan official said.

Gen David Petraeus, the commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan, disclosed that Taliban figures had been granted safe passage to talks in Afghanistan. The admission came amid a flurry of claims that senior Taliban leaders, including members of its ruling Quetta Shura and the feared Haqqani Network, were involved in talks.

Until now, contacts between President Hamid Karzai’s government and the Taliban-led insurgency have been low-level and regarded as inconsequential by diplomats. Washington remains sceptical about talks and the disclosure that Baradar is involved may be designed to marginalise hard-liners close to Mullah Omar.

Taliban commanders have conceded that Baradar is now in Afghanistan. A Pakistani diplomatic official said Baradar was “to the best of my knowledge, no longer in our custody”.

A statement published on the Taliban’s website early this week was ambigious on talks. It said: “Nobody would believe such talk unless foreign troops in Afghanistan act honestly, [and] announce clear and transparent plans for addressing the issue.”

Baradar was among the earliest Afghanistan fighters to swear allegiance to Mullah Omar in 1994 after the organisation was formed.

He rose to be the Taliban’s deputy chief after the 2004 death of its one-legged military commander, Mullah Dadullah.

Michael Semple, a former European Union envoy, said many hurdles remained before an agreement could be reached. “If this signals that the US and Nato are starting to take a more creative approach to the Taliban leadership and thinking of them as potential partners for peace in Afghanistan, then it’s a step forward,” he said.

The Taliban were blamed yesterday for a roadside bomb that killed eight people in a vehicle in Delaram district of south-western Nimroz province. Six people were wounded, the provincial police chief Abdul Jabar Purdeli said.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

US ‘To Cut Aid to Pakistan Army Units Over Abuse’

Pakistani army units believed to have killed unarmed prisoners or civilians during anti-Taliban offensives are to be denied training and equipment from US forces, according to reports.

The aid cuts are the latest in a series of developments highlighting the uneasy relationship between Washington and its vital ally, sometimes seen as hindering the fight against al-Qaeda.

The White House has not yet informed Pakistan of its decision even though senior Pakistani officials are in Washington for a series of talks this week, according to The New York Times, citing officials from both countries.

It comes just as the two nations seek to smooth over their latest crisis after Nato helicopters killed Pakistani troops along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and Islamabad responded by blocking the main transit point for US war supplies.

Barack Obama’s administration has “a lot of concern about not embarrassing” the Pakistani military, a senior official told the Times.

Some US-backed Pakistani Army and special operations troops who have been in action against Taliban fighters in the Swat Valley and South Waziristan along the lawless border region will be affected by the decision, the newspaper said.

The move would be in line with a law known as the Leahy Amendment, which requires the United States to cut off aid to foreign military units found to have committed gross human rights violations.

Units from Indonesia and Colombia have been affected in the past, but this would be the first time it would hit a country of such strategic importance as Pakistan. It receives about $2 billion (£1.26 billion) in US aid for its military each year.

“I told the White House that I have real concerns about the Pakistani military’s actions, and I’m not going to close my eyes to it because of our national interests in Pakistan,” the amendment’s author Senator Patrick Leahy told the Times.

A senior Pakistani official involved in discussions about the matter told the newspaper that the United States had expressed concern about reports of hundreds of extrajudicial killings committed by the Pakistani military. Pakistan was addressing the issue, he said.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Muslim Leader Uthman Badar Calls Aussie Troops ‘Terrorists’

Uthman Badar, spokesman for the controversial Muslim group Hizb ut-Tahrir, said Aussie troops were cannon fodder for an “American war for American political and economic interests”.

The mother of an Australian soldier killed in Afghanistan hit back, describing Hizb ut-Tahrir as “crackpots”.

Margaret Gunnell, whose son, Private Timothy Aplin, 38, was one of three commandos killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan in June, said the war was crucial in stopping al-Qaida rebuilding its base and shutting down the brutal Taliban regime.

“That’s what they are there for, to rebuild and help — I don’t believe we are there as an unwanted force at all,” Mrs Gunnell said.

“I am just grieving for the loss of my son but I believe he was there for a cause and purpose.

“Australian and coalition forces are there so the people aren’t oppressed.

“These crackpots, they wouldn’t have the freedom to say things like this if they were in Afghanistan.”

Hizb ut-Tahrir wants the the immediate withdrawal of Australian troops.

“Not for the first time in history, Australian lives are being used as cannon fodder for the imperial designs of others,” Mr Badar said.

He welcomed the parliamentary debate on Australia’s role in Afghanistan, but said it was a “talkfest” that would not change policy.

Mr Badar argued that the Taliban were rightful defenders of a Muslim country.

“What we find happening is Western governments are painting a very rosy picture of what are otherwise very unholy agendas and they are seeking to make the victims look as the aggressors.

“What that means is those who are responding — resisting for their freedom, for their values — are being made to look like the terrorists and this is a very dangerous game.

“This invasion has to end. The people of Afghanistan did not ask for your help.”

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


Greek Gateway to EU is ‘Inhuman and Degrading’

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS — A UN investigator has described as “inhuman and degrading … appalling … dysfunctional” the conditions in many Greek detention facilities, where the vast majority of irregular migrants seeking to enter the EU get their first glimpse of the bloc.

Writing in a report out on Wednesday (20 October), the UN special rapporteur on torture and cruel punishment, Manfred Nowak, painted a disturbing picture of overcrowding and legal problems in 21 prisons, police stations and other centres used to hold migrants in Greece.

In the Korydallos Prison, the UN investigator said “sanitary conditions were bad, with some mattresses hiding hundreds of cockroaches and bugs.” In the Agiou Panteleimonos centre, detainees “were often forced to sleep for up to two weeks on benches or on the floor” in “dark and suffocating cells.”

Lack of access to toilets and showers, lack of access to outside yards for up to two years, lack of blankets and warm clothes amid plunging temperatures and inadequate medical care were repeatedly cited in Mr Nowak’s report from a 10-day-long fact-finding mission.

“As a result of the poor conditions, many people had respiratory, skin as well as psychological problems,” the UN rapporteur wrote. “Such conditions of detention clearly amount to inhuman and degrading treatment, in violation of Articles 7 and 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

On the legal side, migrants and asylum-seekers face pre-trial detention of up to 18 months, are incarcerated together with hardened criminals and have little access to interpreters and lawyers to file appeals. The appeals centre in Petrou Ralli registers claims just one day of the week, when it manages to process around 20 dossiers, in the face of a national backlog of 52,000 files.

“This creates a feeling of insecurity and helplessness aggravating their anxiety of being detained in a foreign surrounding,” Mr Nowak said…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


U.N. Resolution Favors Muslim Faith

The United Nations is considering a resolution that could be dangerous to Christians and other faiths — except Islam.

Craig McDonald of Christian Freedom International (CFI) tells OneNewsNow that later this year the General Assembly will take up the Defamation of Religions Resolution.

“…That [resolution] will criminalize any words or actions determined to be adverse to a particular religion,” says the CFI spokesman. “It’s being proposed by the Organization of Islamic Conference, which is an inter-governmental body comprised of 57 states with significantly Muslim populations.”

McDonald points out that the resolution is designed to silence — and possibly persecute — faiths other than Islam. “Blasphemy” laws in Muslim-majority countries like Pakistan, he points out, are used mainly against Christians.

“If it passes, this [resolution] could basically give [governments and extremist groups] lawful authority to persecute other faiths, minority faiths, if you’re in a heavily dominated Muslim country,” he explains.

It could also impact the United States in squelching freedom of speech. So McDonald is urging people worldwide to contact the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, and express their objections — and in that process become a voice for the voiceless. CFI provides contact information on its website.

According to CFI, various forms of the resolution have been proposed since 1999.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]