Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20101214

Financial Crisis
»Capitalizing on the Euro Crisis
»Eurozone Debt Crisis Spreads to Belgium on Rising Political Risk
»Germany: Give Up Your Crowns and Zlotys
»Italy: Young Professionals to Receive Pensions Worth 25% of Earnings
»Portugal Indicates China Will Continue Financial Support
»Slovak Politician Calls for ‘Plan B’ To Abandon Euro
»UK: How Sikhs and Hindus Became the Bedrock of Middle Britain
»US Will Lose AAA Credit Rating, Says M&G’s Jim Leaviss
»With Growth Sluggish, Fed Keeps Buying Bonds
»Bomb Plot Case May be Harbinger
»Eddie Crespo Won’t be Charged With a Hate Crime for Alleged Beating of Queens Imam
»Frank Gaffney: Team Reagan vs. The Establishment
»Look Who’s Now Getting Special Travel Privileges
»Pat-Downs Anger RDU Fliers
»Woman Accused of Causing Broward School Lockdown Held Without Bond
Europe and the EU
»Authorities Raid Suspected Islamist Groups in Three German States
»British Court Frees Founder of WikiLeaks on Bail
»Douglas Murray: Terror — The U.K.’s New Christmas Export
»Extortion, Fines, Expense Hikes in Spicy Year-End Session for European Parliament
»Finland: A Pig’s Head Sent to Somali Alliance’s Office in Helsinki
»France: Few Chaplains for Muslim Convicts
»From Sweden to Macedonia: Radical Islam Continues Probing Europe
»German Politicians Call for Stricter Visa Policies
»German Police Raid Homes Linked to Islamist Groups
»Germany Conducts Nationwide Raid on Salafi Muslim Groups
»How I Was Reviled for Warning That Britain is a Hotbed of Islamic Terrorism
»Human Rights No Longer Top Priority for Netherlands
»Italy: 18 Years for Tanzi After Parmalat Collapse
»Italy Lands Another Big Blow on Mafia
»Italy: Gov’t Wins Key Confidence Vote in House
»Let Down by the US: Why Germany Needs Europe
»Muslim Refugees and the Cost of Sweden’s Kindness
»Netherlands: Amsterdam Childminder Admits Numerous Cases of Abuse
»Private Guards Outnumber Policemen in Seven EU Countries
»Serbia: Ikea to Build Four Shopping Centers
»Spain: Salty Solar Plant Stores Sun’s Heat
»Stockholm: Extremists Recruiting for Jihad in City’s Grand Mosque
»Stockholm Bomber’s Terrorist Group Threatens Ikea and Volvo
»Stockholm Bomber: “Trained by Islamic State of Iraq”
»Stockholm Suicide Bomber: Babies He Left Behind, Was He Radicalised by Wife?
»Sweden Democrats Urge Islam Debate After Blast
»Sweden: ‘Mass Casualties’ Narrowly Avoided: Bildt
»Sweden: Hunt for Mastermind Behind the Sweden Plot: Police Believe Luton Cell Helped Stockholm Bomber Plan Terror Attack
»Swedish Blasts Only the Beginning — Qaeda
»The Press Association: US Fears Over UK Extremists Leaked
»The Stockholm Suicide Bomber Shows Once Again That British Universities Are a Threat to World Peace
»UK: Pictured: How Water Cannons Can Blind Protesters as Britain Considers New Measures Against Demonstrators
»UK: Rail Militants Plot Christmas Mayhem: Strikes Will Affect Sales and the Great Getaway
»UK: Stockholm Terrorist Al-Abdaly and the Luton Islamic Centre
»UK: Son, 18, Grabbed Knife and Stabbed to Death the Freed Mental Patient Neighbour Who He Found Murdering His Mother in Their Home
»UK: Waltham Forest: Muslim Radicalism ‘Significant’ In Borough
»US Mormons Criticize Swiss Missionary Ban
»Why Are British Universities Producing Islamic Terrorists?
»WikiLeaks Copycat Site Targets EU Institutions
»WikiLeaks Cables: US Worry Over UK Home-Grown Extremism
»EU Applauds Kosovo Elections Despite Reports of Serious Fraud
»Kosovo PM is Organ-Harvesting Crime Boss, Council of Europe Says
»Wikileaks: Spain, Kosovo Withdrawal Led to Crisis With US
Israel and the Palestinians
»Caroline Glick: The Feminist Deception
»Obama Encouraging ‘Diplomatic Assault’ On Israel?
Middle East
»Bahrain Kings Wants Tougher Naturalisation Policy
»Great Demand for Luxury Cars and SUVs in Turkey
»‘My Sri-Lankan is Lebanese’: Using Humour in the Fight Against Racism
»Review & Outlook: Islam’s Christians
»Hundreds Protest Against Russian Government
South Asia
»Bangladesh: Garment Workers Riot Over Wages in Chittagong, Three Dead, Dozens Injured
»Christian’s Death Verdict Spurs Holy Row in Pakistan
»Muslims in Pakistan Burn, Beat Evangelist Unconscious
Far East
»South Korea Suspects North Has More Uranium Sites
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Jordan: Fatwa Issued Against Joining US-Lead Peace Missions
»Sudan: Woman Publicly Flogged by Laughing Policemen in Shocking Video From Sudan
»Video: Sudan’s Judiciary Orders Probe Into Video of Woman Being Flogged
»Controversy Surrounds Czech Use of Erection-Measurement Machine
»Islamist Groups Raided in Three German Cities
Culture Wars
»Australia: Ramadan Should be a Class Act
»Christians Face Growing Marginalisation in Europe
»Muslim Woman Teacher Sues U.S. School After Being Denied Three Weeks Unpaid Leave to Make Pilgrimage to Mecca.
»Porn-Themed Shirt Lands Swedish Pastor in Hot Water
»NASA Voyager 1 Leaving Solar System
»WikiLeaks and Press Freedom: is Treason a Civic Duty?

Financial Crisis

Capitalizing on the Euro Crisis

China Expanding its Influence in Europe

China is seizing on Europe’s debt problems to expand its influence on the continent with large-scale investments and purchases of government bonds issued by highly-indebted states. The strategy could push Europe into the same financial dependency on China that is posing a dilemma for the US.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Eurozone Debt Crisis Spreads to Belgium on Rising Political Risk

The warning comes a day after the International Monetary Fund said Belgium “urgently needed” to control spending as public debt pushes above 100pc of GDP. “A clear plan is needed to contain contagion from abroad,” it said. The yield spread on Belgian 10-year bonds has ballooned to 102 basis points over German Bunds, raising fears of a funding squeeze next year. S&P said the country needs to refinance debt equal to 11pc of GDP next year, leaving it “exposed to rising real interest rates”. “It’s ugly for our reputation,” said Jean Deboutte, head of Belgium’s debt office. “This is bearable but the premiums are mounting little by little.”

The country has been limping along with caretaker ministers since Flemish separatists emerged as the biggest party in June. Talks have broken down over the scale of subsidies to the poorer French-speaking areas, making Belgium a microcosm of EMU’s North-South divide. It is unclear whether the political system can muster the discipline of the early 1990s when Belgium came back from the brink of a debt compound spiral with an impressive fiscal squeeze. “We believe Belgium’s prolonged domestic political uncertainty poses risks,” said S&P. “Belgium’s current caretaker government may be ill-equipped to respond to shocks to public finances. If Belgium fails to form a government soon, a downgrade could occur, potentially within six months.” Spain also faced fresh debt woes at an auction on Tuesday. The yield on €2bn (£1.7bn) of one-year bills jumped to 3.4pc, up 100 basis points in a month. “It was pretty dire,” said David Owen from Jefferies Fixed Income. Mr Owen said the surge in yields on US Treasuries is causing the cost of capital to jump across the global system, including Spain…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Germany: Give Up Your Crowns and Zlotys

Lidové noviny , 13 December 2010

“Germans push Czechs: accept the euro and pay up,” headlines Lidové noviny on 11 December. According to the Prague daily, Angela Merkel has proposed to the Czech and Polish prime ministers, Petr Necas and Donald Tusk, that they trade in the crown and the zloty for the euro. “The entry of ‘fiscally responsible’ countries into the eurozone would bolster the position of the northern nations (Germany, Austria, Netherlands) in the debate over the future of the euro, against the southern countries, headed by France, known for being the most spendthrift.” Poland and the Czech Republic have yet to respond to the proposition, notes Lidové noviny, adding that “the days when the eurozone was a prestigious club with strict rules of admission are now over”.

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

Italy: Young Professionals to Receive Pensions Worth 25% of Earnings

Meagre pensions for new nurses, biologists and others. Half of lawyers to receive 50% pensions

MILAN — Retiring with a pension worth only half or even a quarter of their final earnings is the prospect now facing at least two million working Italian professionals, as well as all their young colleagues starting their careers. Biologists, psychologists and agronomists will receive a quarter of their current earnings while young lawyers and engineers will get 50% of an income that today is between €1,200 and €1,600 a month. The story began with the 1994 legislative decree 509, when the professional pension funds left the public system and became independent. Since then, there has been an ongoing effort to put the accounts in order. Like the rest of the country, the funds are having to deal with a rapidly ageing population and the earnings of younger professionals are insufficient to finance the sector, or their own future.

At present, there are three main categories of professional pension fund: some have final-income systems, some have moved to mixed systems and some have adopted contribution systems. Over the years, the funds have taken action to ensure they remain solvent in future and today they can all reasonably claim not to face any risk of bankruptcy. But almost none can guarantee a decent pension for those starting out now.

The crisis is making remedial action complicated. Antonio Pastore, a member of the board of governors of the association of accountants, explains: “There is a bill before Parliament that could prove very useful. The Lo Presti bill, already unanimously approved by the Chamber of Deputies, will enable the funds to include some of the supplementary contributions paid in by professionals in the calculation of their pensions. More could be done, however. Professionals could be asked to pay in slightly higher contributions in exchange for a supplement to their personal pot. It’s a move that could, without too much sacrifice, beef up the meagre pensions of the youngest professionals”. Other possibilities are tax breaks, generation pacts and adjustments to the retirement age. But the crucial thing for professionals is to take on board that the problem exists, and that a solution cannot be deferred.

Isidoro Trovato

English translation by Giles Watson

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

Portugal Indicates China Will Continue Financial Support

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS — Portugal’s finance minister Fernando Teixeira dos Santos has indicated that China will continue to buy bonds from the eurozone member many investors believe could be the next in line for an EU-IMF bail-out.

“We took a big leap forward in terms of strengthening our relations at all levels, commercial and investment, and also in the area of financing,” Mr Teixeira dos Santos said on Tuesday (14 December), according to Lusa, the Portuguese news agency.

Mr Teixeira dos Santos is in Beijing as part of a two-day visit to drum up support for the struggling European economy, with Lisbon scheduled to return to international debt markets on Wednesday with an issue of up to €500 million in three-month treasury bills.

“China supports Portugal and will continue to support Portugal,” Mr Teixeira dos Santos said, without specifying the amount of Portuguese treasury securities that Chinese institutions have already bought or will buy.

The Portuguese delegation met with Chinese finance minister Xie Xuren and Chinese central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan as part of the visit.

Mr Teixeira dos Santos made a similar trip to Brazil last week as the government struggles to roll over debt obligations and rein in its budgetary deficit.

The country’s Socialist prime minister, Jose Socrates, insisted on Monday that the government had taken important steps to improve the health of its public finances.

“We are dong what we need to do — consolidating the budget deficit very quickly and very effectively on the basis of structural reforms,” he told the Financial Times.

As EU leaders prepare to meet in Brussels this week (16-17 December) to discuss setting up a permanent rescue mechanism for struggling eurozone states, Mr Socrates also sought to distinguish Portugal’s economy from Ireland and Spain, both suffering the effects of a burst property bubble.

“We have had no banking crisis or property bubble. Our only problem was an excessive budget deficit due to the global crisis and we are correcting that,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Slovak Politician Calls for ‘Plan B’ To Abandon Euro

Slovakia, which joined the eurozone in 2009, should have a ‘plan B’ to return to its national currency, the country’s parliamentary speaker, Richard Sulik, has said, amid frustration over the way the eurozone is handling the debt crisis.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: How Sikhs and Hindus Became the Bedrock of Middle Britain

The lifestyle of a typical Middle Briton has been laid bare in wide-ranging research published yesterday.

Analysts discovered a social group living in semi-detached suburbia and worrying about how to pay the mortgage.

And while many of the findings reinforce the stereotype of a middle-class family, some of the research is perhaps more surprising.

It was found that long-established Hindu and Sikh families now have an above average likelihood of being classed Middle Britons.


Today’s Middle Britain has an average annual household income of £47,300, which is 10 per cent higher than the national average. But the study revealed a social group beset by economic worries.

The so-called ‘squeezed middle’ said they were worried about meeting mortgage payments, rising bills, reduced pension values and whether their children could afford to get on to the housing ladder.

Less than a third said they were ‘financially comfortable’.

Middle Britain’s outgoings were higher than the national average because of increased income tax and mortgage commitments.

Data about spending habits revealed the average household spent £610 per week on bills and shopping, with transport and groceries the biggest expenditure.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

US Will Lose AAA Credit Rating, Says M&G’s Jim Leaviss

Jim Leaviss, head of retail fixed interest at M&G, the fund management arm of the Prudential, said France remains “the AAA economy closest to a downgrade” and that the US “will lose its AAA rating — but not in 2011” as the two countries grapple with debt. Although the UK is under pressure, he believes, he did not state whether it would also lose its rating. His concern is that “economic growth will not make the inroads … that the central banks want to see”. However, he does not believe there will be a double-dip recession in any of the three countries. “These economies will continue a period of expansion that is sub-trend,” he said.

The UK, he predicts, will see “a renewed bout of quantitative easing” even though “inflation will remain above target at a headline level”. “We believe that central bank thinking in the UK and Europe has moved away from pure inflation-targeting to more of a ‘dual-mandate’, like the Federal Reserve, of full-employment and price stability,” he explained. “Central banks and governments are throwing everything they have in their monetary and fiscal policy weaponry to generate a self-sustaining economic recovery.” The Bank of England has stressed that it has not abandoned its 2pc inflation target, even though inflation currently stands at 3.3pc. He expects corporate bonds to “continue to outperform their heavily indebted government counterparts”. Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose to its highest level since before Lehman Brothers bankruptcy in September 2008 as the Fed kept its plan to buy $600bn of Treasuries through June in a second round of quantitative easing. The index closed up 47.98 — 0.42pc — at 11,476.54.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

With Growth Sluggish, Fed Keeps Buying Bonds

Calling the pace of economic recovery “insufficient to bring down unemployment,” the Federal Reserve announced on Tuesday that it would move ahead with its plan to buy $600 billion in government securities through June and would keep its short-term interest rates near zero.

The central bank decided not to waver from its strategy despite heavy recent criticism and despite indications that market reaction to the tax compromise forged by the Obama administration and Republican lawmakers could hamper the Fed’s goal of reducing long-term interest rates.

The Fed statement suggested that it remained preoccupied with the high jobless rate — which ticked upward nationally to 9.8 percent this month — and with employers’ apprehensions about hiring. The Fed said it saw little threat of accelerating inflation.

[Return to headlines]


Bomb Plot Case May be Harbinger

A Baltimore man accused of plotting to blow up a military recruiting station was “grinning from ear to ear” and said “Allahu Akbar” as he prepared to detonate what he thought was a powerful bomb last week, federal prosecutors said Monday.

Antonio Martinez, 21, who recently converted to Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Hussain, is accused of trying to kill members of the military whom he saw as a threat to Muslims. The FBI learned of Martinez’s intentions through an informant, joined the plot and supplied him with a fake car bomb that he tried to detonate, authorities said.

Prosecutors portrayed Martinez as a man who was determined to cause as much harm as possible and sees himself as a holy warrior. But defense attorney Joseph Balter said his client was “incapable” of carrying out an attack on his own, failed when he tried to recruit confederates to join him and was caught in a “government sting operation.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Manuelian said that after his arrest, Martinez admitted his role in the bomb plot and said it was his idea. She said he told agents that he parked the sport-utility vehicle that contained the bomb close to the front of the recruiting center where he thought a blast would cause the most harm. She said he even admitted that local imams had tried to talk him out of an attack, saying it was a time for peace.

“He said he went through with the attack because he was doing it for the right cause,” Manuelian said.

Balter said that Martinez, a former Prince George’s County public school student who did construction work, might have talked about firearms or bombs but that there was no indication that he “had any ability to carry out any plan.”

“Clearly, on the face of these charges is a very legitimate issue as to whether the government entrapped Mr. Hussain,” Balter said. “They induced him to be involved in an act that was clearly the design of the government.”

Arguments made in the detention hearing in U.S. District Court in Baltimore are a preview of what is to come as courts consider the FBI’s increasing use of undercover agents who monitor extremists, pose as co-conspirators and sometimes provide the means to carry out an attack…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Eddie Crespo Won’t be Charged With a Hate Crime for Alleged Beating of Queens Imam

Hate crime charges were dropped against an off-duty MTA Bridges and Tunnels officer accused of attacking a Queens imam in the subway, prosecutors said Tuesday.

The case against Eddie Crespo, 28, was dropped by a grand jury when it voted not to indict him on assault and robbery for the alleged Dec. 8 attack on Rod Peterson, officials said.

Crespo’s pal, Albert Melendez, was indicted on a misdemeanor charge, rather than the felony counts he faced, officials said.

“What are you, a camel jockey?” Melendez, 30, allegedly yelled while grabbing Peterson, who has a criminal record, and hitting him in the face in the 3:25 a.m. confrontation on the northbound A-train platform at a Canal St. station.

Officials said Melendez, of Harlem, also shouted, “I don’t like Muslims.” Crespo, of Staten Island, was suspended without pay.

Prosecutors had said that Crespo, a five-year MTA officer, joined Melendez in the assault, but defense attorneys for the men argued that Crespo tried to break up a fight between Peterson and Melendez — which was sparked by a bump not bigotry.

           — Hat tip: WTD[Return to headlines]

Frank Gaffney: Team Reagan vs. The Establishment

The looming fight over President Obama’s so-called New START disarmament treaty with Russia seems to be coming down to one fundamental question: Would Ronald Reagan approve? On the answer may ride nothing less than the reelection prospects of a handful of Senators who will decide the fate of this accord if Team Obama succeeds in forcing it to a vote in the last days of the current lame-duck session.

Consequently, Mr. Obama’s administration has been moving heaven and earth to demonstrate that his treaty is right out of his predecessor’s play book. Toward that end he has enlisted a number of individuals who held prominent positions during the Reagan presidency. These include darlings of the Establishment like George Shultz, James Baker, Colin Powell and George H.W. Bush. They oblige by selectively harkening back to negotiations Mr. Reagan held with the Soviet Union, some of which resulted late in his presidency in arms reduction treaties…

           — Hat tip: CSP[Return to headlines]

Look Who’s Now Getting Special Travel Privileges

84 million ‘trusted’ to access U.S. though Security, Prosperity Partnership

In a further indication that the “North American Union” agenda is quietly proceeding under what remains of the Security and Prosperity Partnership initiative in the Obama administration, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano signed, with little fanfare, an agreement in Mexico that would extend special “trusted traveler” access to the U.S. to an estimated 84 million Mexicans.

“In Mexico City, Secretary Napolitano and Mexican Ministry of the Interior Secretary José Francisco Blake Mora signed an agreement expressing their intent to develop a Global Entry international trusted traveler pilot program between the United States and Mexico — leveraging the success of the United States’ Global Entry program to facilitate secure, legitimate travel between the two nations,” announced a DHS statement Nov. 30.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Pat-Downs Anger RDU Fliers

Tim Ely, a retired Army officer who once commanded a military police unit in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, filed an online complaint after a Nov. 20 confrontation at RDU. He was subjected to an intimate pat-down because of a false alarm from the body scanner.

After an agent groped around his genitals from in front and from behind, Ely challenged him to explain what sort of anomaly had turned up on his full-body scan.

“He said there was something suspicious hanging from between my legs,” Ely, 63, wrote in his RDU online comment. “I told him that something suspicious was my [genitals], you dummy.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Woman Accused of Causing Broward School Lockdown Held Without Bond

Martinez researched Allen West, Pembroke Pines before making threats, court papers say

The woman accused of making the threats that led to the lockdown of Broward public schools last month acted after reading about U.S. Rep.-elect Allen West’s choice of a conservative radio talk show host as his chief of staff, according to court documents.

Ellisa Martinez looked at an online article about Joyce Kaufman being named to the top job in West’s office just three minutes before calling in a phone threat to Kaufman’s radio station, WFTL-850 AM, according to documents filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The new information became available Monday as a federal magistrate judge ordered Martinez, a former adult education teacher, held without bond as a result of the Nov. 10 threats that paralyzed the nation’s sixth-largest school district for several hours.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Authorities Raid Suspected Islamist Groups in Three German States

German security officials conducted raids on two alleged Islamist groups in three states on Tuesday, suspecting the groups were involved in anti-constitutional activities.

Authorities searched property belonging to the groups Invitation to Paradise, with offices in Moenchengladbach and Braunschweig, and the Islamic Cultural Center of Bremen, in the city-state on the North Sea coast, as well as the private residences of some members.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement that both organizations were suspected of working against constitutional order to establish an Islamic state in Germany, and that the raids had been planned for some time and were “in no way connected to the threat of international terrorism.”

Prominent member

The statement also described the groups as “Salafist,” an extreme brand of Islamic fundamentalism which the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution says does not strictly condemn the use of violence.

A prominent member of Invitation to Paradise is the convert and boxer-turned-preacher Pierre Vogel, also known as Abu Hamza, who has appeared on talk shows advocating for the introduction of Sharia law in Germany. However he has also condemned the use of terror in the name of Islam.

Federal authorities said the Islamic Cultural Center of Bremen is ideologically and organizationally close to Invitation to Paradise. Vogel and Invitation to Paradise have recently made local headlines after residents of Moenchengladbach and Braunschweig staged protests against the group.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

British Court Frees Founder of WikiLeaks on Bail

Julian Assange, the founder of the WikiLeaks anti-secrecy group, was granted bail by a British court on Tuesday after a week in detention. Mr. Assange, who faces possible extradition to Sweden for questioning about alleged sex offenses, was freed on $310,000 bail until the next hearing in his case, set for Jan. 11.

Mr. Assange’s case has generated enormous international interest, with critics vilifying him over the tens of thousands of confidential military and diplomatic documents his organization has made public, while supporters depict him as a hero and martyr. The Obama administration is considering whether to try prosecuting him in the United States over the leaked documents. But the criminal investigation in Sweden is rooted in allegations of personal behavior that have nothing directly to do with WikiLeaks’s activities.

[Return to headlines]

Douglas Murray: Terror — The U.K.’s New Christmas Export

It’s that time of the year again. And alongside the familiar traditions of carols, tinsel and unwanted gifts, comes a new tradition: Somewhere in the world a Muslim radicalized in Britain will try to blow up innocent men, women and children in a suicide mission.

That appears to have been the case of Taimur Abdulwahab al-Abdaly. Authorities believe the Iraqi-born Swede gained his extremist views while at university in Luton, England, before he headed to Stockholm and allegedly detonated the bombs that killed himself and injured two Christmas shoppers last Saturday. Sound familiar?

On Dec. 22, 2001, a British man named Richard Reid tried to bring down a commercial flight from Paris to Miami with bombs placed in his shoes. On Christmas Day the year before, a British man of Pakistani origin, Bilal Ahmed, is believed to have rung in the festive season by killing himself and several others in Kashmir with a bomb. And last year, while most British families were eating their turkey, Omar Farouk Abdulmutallab, formerly of University College London, allegedly tried to blow up a plane over Detroit with an explosive device concealed in his underpants.

For those who have warned for years about the radicalization of Britain’s young Muslims, this is becoming repetitive and depressing. In 2007, my think tank, the Center for Social Cohesion, commissioned an investigation into Muslim students’ activities and opinions. We monitored a range of British universities and found a scene notable for its Islamist hate-preachers, highly divisive literature, and discussion groups in which religious worship is hijacked by radical politicking.

Our poll found that almost one-third of British Muslim students believed that killing in the name of their religion could be justified. At the time the government’s minister for higher education dismissed the findings, as did the National Union of Students.

This year we published a comprehensive list of the extremist speakers who appear, unchallenged, every week at British universities. These speakers have advocated suicide bombings, the murder of soldiers and innocent civilians, and the persecution of religious and sexual minorities in Britain.

One such speaker was Anwar al-Awlaki, now the subject of a “kill or capture” order from President Barack Obama. Awlaki was until last year an invited favorite at British universities’ Islamic Societies.

Last month Roshana Choudhry, previously a student at Kings College London, was convicted of attempted murder after stabbing Stephen Timms, a Labour parliamentarian who voted for the war in Iraq. She told police she had been inspired by Islamic scripture and Internet videos of Awlaki’s sermons.

And still it goes on. Just last week, across the road from Kings College, the Palestine Society at the London School of Economics (LSE) hosted Abdel Bari Atwan, a man with a long record of extreme statements. Three years ago he said that “If the Iranian missiles strike Israel—by Allah, I will go to Trafalgar Square and dance with delight.”

He reportedly used his platform at LSE last week to tell Jewish students that they had “bombed Gaza” and to warn of the “Jewish lobby.” His audience could also look to the example of Omar Sheikh, the illustrious LSE graduate who in 2002 was involved in the murder of Daniel Pearl, a reporter for this newspaper…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Extortion, Fines, Expense Hikes in Spicy Year-End Session for European Parliament

President Jerzy Buzek has launched a lawsuit over an alleged extortion attempt, MEPs have awarded themselves €100,000 in tax-free expenses and a eurosceptic MEP has been slapped with a fine for verbal abuse in stories emanating from this year’s last plenary session of the European Parliament.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Finland: A Pig’s Head Sent to Somali Alliance’s Office in Helsinki

Ilta-Sanomat: — A pigs head is an insult to our religion, “said the Somali Alliance president. A putrid pig’s head was sent to the office of the Somali Alliance located in Roihuvuori, Helsinki today.

- The pig’s head came by mail in a box from Tampere. At first we thought that the box had ads. Because of the smell, we didn’t dare open it ourselves, so we asked the police to open the package, says the Somali Alliance President, Abdirashid Dirie.

The piece of mail was accompanied by a note that wished a Merry Christmas. The sender was marked as “free thinkers”. The same racist group suspected of a breaking the Somali Alliance windows a week ago.

Last summer, the Alliance had gallons of oil poured into its mailbox, and the doors and windows had eggs thrown at it…

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

France: Few Chaplains for Muslim Convicts

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, DECEMBER 14 — There are only 150 Muslim chaplains in the French prisons, a number that is absolutely insufficient to meet the needs of the people in prison who, even though religious statistics are prohibited in penitentiary centres, over the last two decades experienced a remarkable increase in Muslim convicts. Such is the unanimous opinion of the participants of a debate on Muslim faith in jail organised by the Regional council of the Muslim faith of Ile-de-France and by the Rassemblement des Musulmans de France.

Compared to the 150 Muslim chaplains, there are approximately 520 Catholic ones and 260 between chaplains and visitors of protestant jails. There are no official figures but in 2004 sociologist Farhad Khosrokhavar, author of a study paper on Islam in the prisons, stated that Muslim convicts represented from 50 to 80% of people in French jails close to sensitive neighbourhoods. According to the director of Fleury-Merogis in Paris, Europe’s largest jail with 3,500 convicts, this year more than one thousand convicts fasted during the month of Ramadan.

“And for them we only have three chaplains, we would need twice as many, because they are a pacifying factor”, he added. During the debate some Muslim chaplains tried to point out that “no-one is thinking of making proselytes”.

“We do not come into the cells to preach, we only intervene upon the convict’s request, our work consists in making them become aware about moral principles because often they no longer distinguish between good and evil”, stated among others Farid Grine, a chaplain in Fleury-Merogis whose main objective is for the convict to stay out of jail once he has been set free.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

From Sweden to Macedonia: Radical Islam Continues Probing Europe

This past weekend Sweden became the latest country in Western Europe to suffer from radical Islamist terrorism. As reported by Swedish papers, Iraqi-born Taimur Abdulwahab Al-Abdaly, aged 28, who blew up a car and then himself in downtown Stockholm, had been granted Swedish citizenship in 1992. But he then went to Britain to study, and UK media say he was radicalized over the last decade in the town of Luton, north of London.

Al-Abdaly was thrown out of the Islamic Centre of Luton, also known as the Al-Ghurabaa or “Strangers’“ mosque, for preaching jihad. The mosque is considered a center of radical ideology, even as it repudiates violence. Leaders at the Luton mosque are visibly oriented toward Saudi-style Wahhabism, with a history of linkage to the extremist Al-Muhajiroun, or “Religious Refugees,” led by jihadist preacher Omar Bakri Muhammad. The latter has been expelled from Britain. At the Luton mosque, men typically grow long beards, women are cloaked in full-length covering and face veils, and congregants are taught to eschew music — all of which are signifiers of Wahhabism.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

German Politicians Call for Stricter Visa Policies

Politicians have called for a stricter visa regime in Germany after Saturday’s suicide bombing in Stockholm, which killed only the perpetrator himself. Teams from the US and Britain have promised to help Sweden investigate, as more details emerge about the attacker’s background.

In the wake of Saturday’s bombings in Stockholm, conservative politicians have said that Germany should tighten its visa policies. Politicians from the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, said Tuesday that a database of suspected terrorists should serve as a filter for foreigners seeking German visas anywhere in the world.

But Sebastian Edathy, a member of the center-left Social Democrats, said the nation’s visa regime was secure and warned against using the bombings as a way to pass unnecessary laws. “It’s a naïve assumption that would-be terrorists will wait patiently in line at a German embassy for a tourist visa,” he said.

Bavaria’s interior minister, Joachim Herrmann, who belongs to the CSU, said a plan for such a terrorist-warning database already existed in the government’s coalition agreement, but had stalled because of foot-dragging by the liberal Free Democratic Party. The FDP, which governs in coaltion with Merkel’s conservatives, stands for strong privacy protections. “The FDP’s willingness to cooperate on this doesn’t seem very enthusiastic, to say the least,” he said.

FBI to Help Swedish Investigators

On Saturday, an Iraqi-born Swede set off two explosions in what was apparently a failed plot to kill Christmas shoppers in Stockholm. The FBI, America’s federal investigative agency, will send bomb experts to help with the investigation. Swedish Justice Minister Beatrice Ask explained to Swedish TV on Monday that a small nation sometimes lacks the required experts for public investigations, and British investigators have also been engaged to help.

The US and Britain also have an interest in the case, because Taimour Abdulwahab, the 28-year-old Swedish citizen who allegedly set off the bombs, spent his childhood in Iraq and moved to Britain almost a decade ago. British police have searched his home in Luton near London, where he left a wife and three children.

Abdulwahab died from self-inflicted wounds on Saturday after his backpack filled with nails and explosives blew up near Drottninggatan, one of the busiest Christmas shopping streets in Stockholm. A few minutes earlier, about 200 meters away, a white Audi had exploded, wounding two passersby.

DNA tests have yet to come in, but Tomas Lindstrand, Sweden’s chief prosecutor, said his office was “98 percent certain” the bomber was Abdulwahab. “He had a bomb belt on him, he had a backpack with a bomb and he was carrying an object that has been compared to a pressure cooker,” Lindstrand said, according to AFP. “If it had all blown up at the same time, it would have been very powerful.”

“Where he was headed … we don’t know,” Lindstrand said. “It is likely that something happened, that he made some kind of mistake that led to part of the bombs he was carrying (going) off and caused his death.” However, he added, “it is not much of a stretch to say he was going to a place with as many people as possible.”

Cell-Phone Warnings

Abdulwahab was born in Baghdad but came to Sweden in 1992. He moved to Britain in 2001 and trained in Luton as a physiotherapist. He returned to Sweden only about two-and-a-half weeks ago, according to the UK Guardian. The chairman of a Luton mosque the bomber apparently attended in 2006 or 2007 said he seemed “bubbly” at first. But he grew more radical and finally “stormed out of the mosque and was never seen again.”

Swedish authorities claim to have email messages and a voice-mail file traced to Abdulwahab’s mobile phone. The messages, which give reasons for the attack, also went to the Swedish news agency TT. In the audio message, a man speaking Arabic and Swedish with an English accent can be heard saying Swedes would die because of Stockholm’s support for the war in Afghanistan and because of a cartoon by a Swedish artist, Lars Vilks, depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a dog.

“We now exist here in Europe and Sweden,” the man’s voice says. “We are a reality. I don’t want to say more about this. Our actions will speak for themselves.”

Swedish authorities assume from the message that Abdulwahab belonged to a larger group, but reports that he spent time training in Pakistan or Iraq could not be confirmed. One picture on his Facebook page — which no longer exists — shows him in Jordan, according to terrorism and defense news website The Long War Journal.

But Abdulwahab was not known to Swedish authorities before the blast, in part, they say, because he spent so much of the last 10 years in Britain. Lindstrand said Swedish security was not “a Stasi organization” in the habit of monitoring people’s Facebook pages.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

German Police Raid Homes Linked to Islamist Groups

German authorities raided homes and religious schools connected to two radical Islamist groups with suspected terrorist links on Tuesday morning, the Interior Ministry said.

The raids, in the western cities of Moenchengladbach, Braunschweig and Bremen, were aimed at Salafist groups Invitation to Paradise and Islamic Culture Center Bremen, ministry spokesman Stefan Paris said in a statement.

The two are suspected of “wanting to create an Islamic theocracy and working against the democratic order of Germany,” he added.

“It is necessary and important not to wait for a militant struggle in the form of jihad before intervening against unconstitutional groups,” Mr. Paris said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Germany Conducts Nationwide Raid on Salafi Muslim Groups

German investigators carried out nationwide raids against two Salafi Muslim groups accused of espousing Islamist extremism as authorities step up measures targeting militant jihadists in the country.

The raids took place today in the states of Bremen, Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. They were long planned and unrelated to a security alert issued by the ministry last month in connection with “concrete indications” that an attack may take place.

The action came amid a probe into two groups in western Germany, the Invitation to Paradise and the Islamic Cultural Center Bremen. The ministry cited one elder’s objective to supersede Germany’s legal system with Shariah law, calling it incompatible with the country’s parliamentary democracy.

“For an aggressive democracy, it’s as necessary as it is prudent not to await jihad in the form of an armed struggle in taking action against unconstitutional groups,” the ministry said. Germany’s 2009 counterintelligence report cited a growing number of Salafi preachers in Muslim teaching centers.

Salafism, which isn’t necessarily tied to radicalism, is a puritanical form of Islam that promotes what its followers perceive as the earliest form of the religion in the generations directly following the prophet Mohammed. It’s the main branch that influences Wahabbi Islam in Saudi Arabia.

Today’s raids underscore the heightened attention over a possible terrorist attack. On Nov. 17, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere warned of a “new threat level” after receiving intelligence from a foreign ally and gathering evidence domestically from Islamist groups.

That alert was tied to alleged plans by Pakistan-based groups associated with al-Qaeda to take out possible bomb attacks or an armed raid on locations such as the Reichstag in Berlin, Der Spiegel magazine reported on Nov. 21.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

How I Was Reviled for Warning That Britain is a Hotbed of Islamic Terrorism

By Melanie Phillips

Some four-and-a-half years ago, a book of mine was ­published that caused something of a sensation.

It was called Londonistan, and it was about the way in which — astoundingly — Britain had become the most important centre, outside the Islamic world itself, for the production and export of Islamic terrorism.

Worse yet, I wrote, even after the 9/11 attacks and the 7/7 London Tube and bus bombings, the British political, legal and security establishments were still refusing to get to grips with the threat posed to Britain by militant Muslims who wanted to conquer it for Islam.

For my pains, I was called ‘mad’ by the Guardian, ‘bonkers’, ‘alarmist’, ‘­hysterical’ and, of course, ‘Islamophobic’.

Indeed, I had a hard time getting the book published at all. It was turned down by every mainstream London publisher because they regarded my views as dangerous extremism. One even remarked: ‘I’d rather take the ­poison ricin than publish this.’ Nice!

For a while it looked as if it would be ­published only in the U.S. — but a few weeks before publication in America, a tiny British publishing house bravely volunteered to ­publish it here.

Given the terrifying nature of what I wrote in that book, it really does give me no comfort to say this — but the fact is that, ever since it was published, a steady stream of revelations has proved that I was absolutely right.

This week, we learned that Taimour Abdulwahab Al-Abdaly, who blew himself up in a terrorist attack in Stockholm, was yet another radicalised British Muslim university graduate. He was but the latest in an ­unremitting procession of British Muslims who have committed terrorist attacks in other countries. And many have been ­educated to a high level in Britain.

Over the past decade, around 30 Muslim graduates or students at British universities have been involved in Islamic-inspired ­terrorism, including former University ­College London student Umar Farouk ­Abdulmutallab, who has been charged with trying to blow up a U.S. airliner with explosives hidden in his underpants.

As for Luton — where Abdulwahab lived and attended university — this has long been regarded as a hot-bed of Islamic extremism.

So why is it that, with the Security Service periodically issuing chilling warnings that it’s monitoring more than 2,000 dangerous ­Muslim fanatics and dozens of terrorist plots, Britain is still failing so dismally to curb its home-grown industry of Islamic terrorism and extremism?

As I pointed out in my book, most of the British establishment is in denial about what it is up against. Our leaders know there is a major threat of terrorism.

But they remain wilfully blind to the fact that the terrorists’ ultimate aim, the Islamisation of ­Britain and the West, is being pursued by Islamic groups that are not violent, as well as those that are.

Of course, millions of British ­Muslims shun violence or extremism. They want only to live peacefully and enjoy the benefits of Western democracy and human rights.

Moreover, since they and their children are themselves among the principal victims and targets of the Islamist fanatics, they beg the British Government to crack down on such extremism.

But here is the most astonishing thing I explored in my book. For the establishment is so heavily imbued by a deadly cocktail of political ­correctness, multiculturalism and ‘human rights’ law that, far from curbing Islamic extremism, it has actually fanned the flames.

Over the past decade and more, the judges have made it all but ­impossible to police Britain’s borders against undesirables or throw extremists out of the country.

Universities have shamefully refused to crack down on extremists on ­campus, even though countless ­Muslim students are being radicalised there by Islamist speakers — with no fewer than four university Islamic ­Society presidents having been involved in major acts of terrorism.

Idiotically, politicians cravenly attempting to defuse Islamic rage by appeasing the Muslim community have funded organisations that have turned out to be extreme.

Even more extraordinarily, to this day the Government is employing radical Islamists in Whitehall — as political advisers on curbing Islamic extremism.

The core reason for this supine approach is that the establishment refuses to acknowledge that Islamic terrorism is rooted in religious fanaticism — an extreme interpretation of the religion that dictates Muslims must impose Islamic law throughout the world.

While most British Muslims most certainly do not accept this interpretation, it is rooted in theology and history, and is supported by the major ­religious authorities in the Islamic world.

So truly moderate Muslims ­cannot make their voices heard. The extremists therefore have the whip hand. And the way they intend to achieve their ends is through a ­pincer movement comprising both terrorism and cultural infiltration to gain social, economic and political power…

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Human Rights No Longer Top Priority for Netherlands

THE HAGUE, 14/12/10 — Human rights only comes third for Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal, unlike his predecessor Verhagen.

In an interview with De Volkskrant, Rosenthal says stability and security in the world and prosperity and employment for the Dutch are the two most important pillars of his policy. His predecessor Verhagen still had human rights as the highest spearhead of his policy, but for Rosenthal, this only comes third.

“I know that it goes against the grain for some, but I consider that you cannot everywhere at every moment push something down. There are also reams of organisations and institutes that involve themselves with human rights.”

Rosenthal does not operate so much from morality. “I feel most at home with the realists. You do not get anywhere with nice stories and good intentions.”

Israel has a warm place in the heart of the minister, who himself has a Jewish background but is not a practising Jew. “We want to offer resistance to Israel-bashing, we want to invest in relations with Israel.”

Rosenthal also says in the interview that he will reorganise the Dutch diplomatic network. “Embassies will be closed, shrunk, strengthened and perhaps also re-opened.”

Rosenthal wants to close posts in countries where the Netherlands is ending the development relationship. “But you cannot say that these posts will by definition be closed one after the other in these countries,” according to the minister.

Rosenthal wants embassies to do more in future in terms of economic diplomacy and fostering of trade. The service to the Dutch citizen abroad also has to be improved.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: 18 Years for Tanzi After Parmalat Collapse

Other former directors of the company that crashed in 2003 with a hole in its accounts of €14bn also convicted

MILAN — The court in Parma has sentenced the former founder of Parmalat, Calisto Tanzi, to 18 years in jail following the €14bn collapse of his company. The public prosecutor had asked for 20 years. “I didn’t expect such a harsh sentence”, Tanzi commented after the sentence had been delivered.

THE OTHER CONVICTIONS — Other former directors of the company were also convicted. Fausto Tonna was sentenced to 14 years, while Calisto’s brother, Giovanni Tanzi, received ten years, six months. The other directors on trial were also convicted: Luciano Siligardi, a former board member, was sentenced to six years; Domenico Barili, to eight; Paolo Sciumè, to five years, four months; Camillo Florini, to five years; Giovanni Bonici, former chairman of Parmalat Venezuela, to five years. Davide Fratta was sentenced to four years; Rosario Lucio Calogero, to five years, four months; Mario Mutti, to five years, four months; Enrico Barachini, to four years; and Giuliano Panizzi, to four years. Sergio Erede, sentenced to one year, six months, was the only defendant convicted of straight bankruptcy. Parmalat was also ordered to pay interim damages of €2bn.

THE CONVICTIONS — All the defendants were charged with fraudulent bankruptcy related to the collapse of the group in 2003 with a €14bn hole in its accounts; some were also charged with criminal conspiracy. The bankruptcy trial began in March 2008 against 56 defendants, a number which subsequently fell to the current 17, also as a result of various plea bargains. It was the first trial to be held in Parma related to the collapse of the group.

TANZI’S LAWYERS — The 18-year jail sentence for Calisto Tanzi is “excessive”, commented his lawyer, Giampiero Biancolella, in response to the ruling delivered by judge Eleonora Fiengo of the Parma Court. “We will obviously appeal against this decision”, added one of Tanzi’s other lawyers, Fabio Belloni…

Translated by Simon Tanner

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

Italy Lands Another Big Blow on Mafia

Operation mops up remains of Palermo clan with 37 arrests

(ANSA) — Rome, December 13 — Italy landed another big blow on the Mafia on Monday with the arrest of 37 people in an operation designed to mop up the remains of jailed Cosa Nostra boss Salvatore Lo Piccolo’s gang.

The sweep follows a series of successful operations over the last two years that have hit the Sicilian Mafia and its Neapolitan and Calabrian cousins, the Camorra and ‘Ndrangheta.

These include last month’s arrest of top Camorra mobster Antonio Iovine, a convicted murder and the notorious Casalesi clan’s joint No. 1, whose capture after 14 years on the run was celebrated by police like that of Cosa Nostra boss of bosses Bernardo Provenzano four years ago.

Monday’s bust was the final part of a huge operation that has devastated what was Cosa Nostra’s most powerful clan in Palermo, taking the total number of arrests up to 184, including the 2007 capture of Lo Piccolo and his son Sandro.

“Today Palermo is freer than it was yesterday,” said Simona Vicari, a Senator with Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party.

“It’s an extraordinary success against organized crime by the State’s team”. Police said they managed to stage Monday’s sweep, named Addio Pizzo 5 (Goodbye Protection Money 5), after working out the codes Lo Piccolo used for his gang members in documents found at his hideout when he was arrested.

They also managed to gain the cooperation of shopkeepers and other entrepreneur extortion victims, who are frequently too scared to report the intimidation they face to the authorities.

“For once I can say that we managed to break down the wall of omerta’ that the victims of extortion usually hide behind,” Palermo Prosecutor Francesco Messineo told a press conference.

“Businessmen and shopkeepers admitted they came under pressure from the syndicates and contributed to the probe, albeit not of their own initiative, when faced with the investigators’ findings”.

Prosecutors said that while relatively few businesses in Palermo come forward to report demands for protection money, the city and some other parts of Sicily were undergoing a “change of culture” when it came to cooperating with investigators when questioned by them.

This cooperation and the breaking of the clan’s code enabled officers to trace a number of crimes allegedly carried out by it, including extortion from businesses engaged in renovation work at Palermo airport and other major building projects.

It also shed light on the clan’s attempts to monopolize Palermo’s drugs trade.

The 37 people have been arrested on suspicion of felonies that include criminal association, drugs trafficking, extortion and illegal possession of firearms. One person targeted by the operation has not yet been apprehended.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Gov’t Wins Key Confidence Vote in House

(ANSAmed) — ROME, DECEMBER 14 — Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi won a key confidence vote in the House Tuesday but the slim margin of victory may mean his government won’t last until the end of its natural term in 2013.

The premier won by 314 votes to 311 with two abstentions. The wafer-thin win, thanks to a small split in the ranks of the premier’s opponents, leaves Berlusconi hanging by a thread unless he manages to woo the centrist Catholic UDC party, partners in a previous government but now in opposition, back into the fold, analysts say.

Berlusconi hailed the outcome of the vote, having said it was “madness” to throw Italy into turmoil at a time of potential risk stemming from international investors’ pressures on the euro zone. In the run-up to the showdown the premier courted wavering centrists, bringing allegations of inducements which Rome prosecutors are investigating. Even with the UDC back in government, analysts say the executive will probably only last until the Northern League has achieved its pet project of federalist reforms in January.

A snap vote would then be called, they say, with March 27 as the most likely date.

According to recent polls Berlusconi, despite a fall in approval ratings linked to a series of scandals, would be returned along with the League although the two parties and smaller allies might not win full control of the Senate. The crisis has been brewing ever since the government lost its safe majority in July after Berlusconi broke with House Speaker Gianfranco Fini, his one-time heir-apparent who has now turned into a fierce foe.

Fini was formally ejected from the premier’s People of Freedom party after months of bickering over Berlusconi’s allegedly autocratic leadership style and the Speaker’s differing stance on a raft of issues ranging from bioethics to immigration and justice reform, as well as his self-proclaimed more vigorous stand against corruption. In the run-up to Tuesday vote Berlusconi appealed to so-called ‘doves’ in Fini’s new Future and Freedom for Italy party not to “betray” the mandate they received from voters in 2008. In the end, enough of them did so to ensure the government’s survival — for now. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Let Down by the US: Why Germany Needs Europe

After World War II, Europe helped Germany redefine its role on the international stage. Today, Berlin still needs Europe, but for different reasons. In today’s world, countries can no longer afford to go it alone, but the US is more interested in China than in trans-Atlantic relations.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Muslim Refugees and the Cost of Sweden’s Kindness

In my home, Sweden is almost on a pedestal.

My parents grew up on the sweet, perfect-pop music of ABBA in the ‘70s and consequently so did I.

My husband, Chris, loves Scandinavian design and the Swedish national hockey team. In fact, last year Chris volunteered to teach little Swedish-Canadian children their native tongue on Saturday mornings.

Heck, even our Christmas tree is loaded with ornaments from Ikea.

But beyond that, the northern European country has been a political icon for my family, as an example for the rest of the world to follow.

So it was with much excitement that Chris and I visited Sweden for the first time earlier this month.

It’s a country that isn’t usually at the top of most people’s to-visit list and it’s hardly ever in the news. But it was an important destination for us.

Luckily, for us at least, our visit ended a few days before Sweden’s peaceably sleepy reputation was shattered when 28-year-old Taimour Abdulwahab strapped an explosive belt to his chest and set off a car bomb in Stockholm on Saturday, killing himself and injuring two others.

It is alleged that the Iraqi-born Swede was planning to detonate the bomb at a busy train station or a shopping centre. Some reports said the target was the newspaper that published controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed three years ago.

But thanks to a twist of fate, the bomb went off prematurely and the bomber was the only one killed.

This was the first suicide bombing on Swedish soil. But the truth is that the groundwork for just such an attack has been brewing there for years.


During our trip, we went to the southern end of the country and visited Malmö, Sweden’s third largest city. A beautiful little town that could be the setting for a fairytale.

In the main square, stereotypical six-foot tall Scandinavian blonds were standing around a giant skating rink, watching children perform in the frigid temperatures. It felt like something out of a Swedish Norman Rockwell painting.

But just beyond the main centre is a different stereotype: Streets full of young Muslim men with long beards and women in black hijabs, dragging their Middle Eastern robes through the slushy thoroughfares.

They would be just a few of the many Muslim immigrants who have come to Malmö in recent years, a direct result of Sweden’s generosity, opening up its borders to thousands of Arabs and Muslims from strife-torn countries.

This isn’t the first time Sweden has welcomed those seeking refuge from hostile environments.

Malmö’s Jewish community is almost entirely made up of those who fled central Europe during the Second World War, as well as Holocaust survivors and their descendants.

It was that same Swedish generosity that also welcomed the more recent influx of those fleeing persecution and war in the Middle East, specifically from Iraq.

In fact, by most estimates, close to a quarter of the city’s almost 300,000 population is Muslim — one of the highest rates in Europe.

Schools here have tried to accommodate their curriculums and their lunch menus to these newcomers and, if the trend continues, Malmö will have a Muslim majority in a few decades.

No fairytale

But this kindness has come at a cost to the Swedes…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Amsterdam Childminder Admits Numerous Cases of Abuse

The 27-year-old man at the centre of a major child pornography investigation in Amsterdam has admitted carrying out a ‘very large number’ of assaults, the lawyer of one of the parents involved told the Telegraaf on Monday.

Richard Korver, who chairs the national network of lawyers specialised in sex crimes, declined to comment further on the investigation, but urged parents who think their children may be victims to go to the police as soon as possible.

Three men have been arrested in connection with the case, which came to light following a tip off from the US authorities.

More arrests

The chief suspect known as Robert M worked as a creche group leader. His husband and another man have also been arrested.

The abuse happened in two city crèches — the Hofnaaretje and Jenno’s Knuffelparadijs between February 2007 and January 2010 — and in private homes where M worked as a babysitter. He advertised his babysitting services via internet, including the website.

The man has since confessed to abusing ‘several tens’ of children, the public prosecution statement said. A large quantity of child pornography was also found at his home.

M, born in the Latvian capital Riga, married a Dutch man and took Dutch nationality in 2004. His husband Richard van O, a 37-year-old Amsterdammer who works as a bus driver, was arrested and faces charges of possessing child pornography.

Chat rooms

Another man, aged 39, who worked at one of the two crèches, has also been arrested. Edwin R is suspected of carrying out sexual assaults via the internet and contacting children via chat sites, the Telegraaf said.

According to Latvian newsagency LETA, M was also active on a Latvian social netoworking site where there are lots of photographs of him with children in the Netherlands and Kenya.

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

Private Guards Outnumber Policemen in Seven EU Countries

Private-sector security guards outnumber policemen in seven mostly post-Communist EU countries according to the latest figures from the CoESS, the Brussels-based private security lobby. Hungary tops the list with 104.97 private guards per 10,000 inhabitants compared to 39.94 police officers. The pro-private ratio is the second heaviest in Romania (49.84 private guards versus 25.62 policemen), followed by Ireland, Poland, Finland, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Slovenia. Italy, Spain, Malta, Denmark, Belgium and Lithuania have the lowest levels of private policing.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Serbia: Ikea to Build Four Shopping Centers

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, DECEMBER 9 — Ikea, Swedish furniture company, is interested in opening four shopping centres in Serbia and is working intensely on the realization of the project. Ikea plans to open two centres in Belgrade and one in Novi Sad and Nis, said Dimitrije Ivanovic, Head of the Economic and Trade Department of the Swedish Embassy in Serbia, reports BETA news agency.

Ikea will invest 200 million euros in each of the centres which should employ between 1,500 and 2,000 people. Factory of Sweden’s Tetra Pak located in Gornji Milanovac tops the performance of the other 44 factories that the company has worldwide, said Ivanovic, adding that many Swedish companies have made significant investments in Serbia, e.g. Husqvarna, Ericsson, Volvo, Electrolux and Astra Zeneca.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain: Salty Solar Plant Stores Sun’s Heat

The plentiful sunshine of southern Spain is being harvested to generate electricity day and night

DRIVING through the baking landscape of Almería, it is no mystery why this Spanish province is home to a novel type of power station that generates electricity by harnessing the heat of the sun.

For over 20 years, the Plataforma Solar de Almería, sited on an almost rainless plain in the south of the province, has been at the forefront of research into solar thermal power generation. Helped by Spain’s sunny climate and generous government subsidies, this has led to the construction of 10 solar thermal plants across the country in the last three years alone. Some 50 more are planned.

Within the centre, parabolic dishes lie strewn about like huge discarded toys, but the site is dominated by a giant white tower. Thousands of mirrors, known as heliostats, surround it, catching sunlight and focusing it onto a receiver on top of the tower. This concentrated sunlight produces superheated steam that drives a turbine to generate electricity.

Till now, the mainstay of solar thermal power has been the parabolic trough system, in which carefully shaped parabolic mirrors direct solar energy onto glass tubes containing a heat-absorbing fluid. One of the drawbacks of such installations is that to keep costs down they need large areas of flat ground.

With solar towers this is unnecessary. The heliostats can hug the land at different levels and be individually calibrated to beam their rays to the receiver atop the tower…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Stockholm: Extremists Recruiting for Jihad in City’s Grand Mosque

Daniel Arrospide, a local politician for the Green Party in Stockholm, infiltrated the city’s grand mosque (the Södermalm mosque) for half a year. There he met a group of about ten people who recruited Swedish Muslims to holy war. (See his article below)

“There are extreme groups in that mosque who recruit people for terror attacks,” Arrospide told Norwegian TV 2 Nyhetene (NO).

Q: For al-Qaeda?

A: Yes

Arrospide says that the imam knew that there are people in the community who belong to extreme groups. There were attempts to recruit people without work or employment and with poor prospects for the future to extreme actions.

“If the person is single, they pay him a little money. If he has a family, they promise him a lot of money to the family in case he chooses to die in the name of Allah.”

Q: Was there a lot of talk of Jihad in the mosque?

A: Yes, there was a lot of talk about Jihad in the mosque

Q: What did they say about Jihad?

A: That you should continue the war against the impure and infidels.

Q: Against Swedes?

A: Against Swedes, yes

Saturday’s suicide bomber didn’t surprise Daniel Arrospide.

“I had the feeling that something would happen. I had the feeling that there will be a bomb sooner or later in Stockholm. We wouldn’t avoid it, so to speak.”

Q: Do you think there will be more terror attacks in Sweden?

A: For sure

Q: Do you think there are sleeping terror-cells in Stockholm today?

A: Yes, definitely. The ten people who were in the mosque have a lot of free reign to do what they want in Sweden.

Q: And they’re able to commit terror attacks?…

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]

Stockholm Bomber’s Terrorist Group Threatens Ikea and Volvo

Shumukh al-Islam, a web forum connected to al-Qaeda, produced the first photographs of the bomber along with a copy of his will in Arabic, calling him “our brother.” Alongside the will, they produced a statement by the former leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq calling for attacks on Swedish businesses in revenge for cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. Investigators believe that the bomber, Taimur Abdulwahab al-Abdaly, may have joined al-Qaeda in Iraq when he claimed he traveled to Jordan in March this year.

In the full copy of the will, he apologised to his parents for deceiving them over a trip to the Middle East, saying he went there for “jihad” not to find a job and earn money. The photographs produced by Shumukh al-Islam appear to show Abdulwahab, wearing a trench-cost and dark glasses, against a Middle East backdrop of mountains and small houses, possibly Iraq. The will also refers to the “Islamic State,” probably alluding to the Islamic State of Iraq — the al-Qaeda spin-off in the country. The same group was involved in the London and Glasgow car bombings of 2007. Iraqi doctor, Bilal Abdullah, one of the bombers who is now serving life in jail, is thought to have visited the group in Iraq. The statement on Swedish businesses was originally issued by the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi three years ago. In it, Baghdadi, who was killed in a US rocket attack in April, calls for “industrial giants” to be attacked including Ericsson, Scandia, Volvo, Ikea and Electrolux and puts a bounty $100,000 on the head of Lars Vicks, the Swedish cartoonist, $50,000 on the editor of a newspaper that published the cartoon. The statement on Shumukh al-Islam claimed the bombing in Sweden had been a success because it “caused pain in their hearts and widespread panic, and it was denounced by nations and religions and it pleased the Muslim people.” The statement added: “Nor did the brother martyr — as we consider him — forget to remind Sweden that his action was nothing but a promise taken by the Islamic State, and therefore he and others were in Sweden, and they will avenge the Muslims.”…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Stockholm Bomber: “Trained by Islamic State of Iraq”

“We hope that he becomes an inspiration for Sunnis in and outside Iraq, this hero who lift us all,” it says on the website which also states that Taimour Abdelwahab Al-Abdaly traveled to Iraq to be trained by members of Dawlat al-’Iraq al-Islamiyya (the Islamic State of Iraq) and then returned to Sweden to carry out the attack.

The Islamic State in Iraq is a fundamentalist terrorist group linked to al-Qaeda. Its former leader, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, was the first to threaten to murder the Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who in 2007 depicted the Islamic prophet Mohammed in a drawing.

The group has claimed responsibility for some of the most brutal terrorist acts in Iraq during the last couple of years. The bloodiest was a series of bomb attacks in Baghdad in October 2009 when 155 people died and 721 were injured.

Hamdi Hassan works for the Cabinet Office and has written a book on al-Qaeda. He sees a clear parallel between the attack in Stockholm on Saturday and attacks in Iraq carried out by the Islamic State of Iraq.

“It bears all the hallmarks of al-Qaeda. It is exactly the same method. I am totally convinced that he was in Iraq,” Hamdi Hassan told newspaper Svenska Dagbladet…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Stockholm Suicide Bomber: Babies He Left Behind, Was He Radicalised by Wife?

It is hard to believe he could leave such a beautiful family behind.

But with a mind warped by religious hatred, the father of these children let nothing divert him from his deadly path.

Shortly after this picture was taken, Taimour Abdulwahab Al-Abdaly left his daughters Amira, four, Aisha, two, and son Osama, six months, at their home in Luton to fly to Sweden.

There, on the eve of his 29th birthday, he blew himself up in what Stockholm authorities say was a bungled bid to kill up to 100 and maim another 500 innocent victims.

His widow Mona Thwany, now in hiding with her children in Luton while the family home is searched by police — has denied any knowledge of his plan.

But last night her grandmother told the Daily Mail that it was Miss Thwany who introduced Abdulwahab to radical Islam, which was to transform him from beer-drinking disc jockey to suicide bomber.

Maria Nedelcovici said her granddaughter became a religious fanatic around the time of the September 11 bombings in America in 2001. When she married, her husband followed her lead, swapping jeans and spiky hair for flowing robes and a beard.

Mrs Nedelcovici wept as she told the Mail in her home in southern Romania: ‘Mona turned her husband into an extremist. She is the only one to blame. Mona had the power to stop him but she refused. She should have known better.’

Sources in Sweden, where he grew up, confirmed yesterday that Abdulwahab had changed dramatically since setting up home in Luton in 2001.

Before his move to Britain, he drank beer, had girlfriends, and briefly worked as a disc jockey at Hitz FM, his local radio station in Sweden, where he loved suggestive pop songs.

He only returned to his Iraq-born family’s adopted homeland a fortnight ago to carry out the bungled suicide mission in which he was killed and two bystanders injured.

In a recorded message he sent before his attack, a voice speaking English with a British accent calls on Sweden to withdraw its 500 troops from Afghanistan and complains about cartoons offensive to Muslims — and a cough can be heard in the background.

It is an extra clue that Abdulwahab was part of a wider network. Police believe the bomber had accomplices and may have recruited locally in Luton, where his extremism seems to have been born.

Last night a relative in his family’s hometown of Tranas, southern Sweden, who did not want to be named, said: ‘When Taimour went to Britain some people put the devil inside him. Taimour was a happy popular teenager in Sweden. He did not think about Iraq, this was his home.

‘It was not Taimour who did this terrible thing — but the devils that these people put inside him.’

Storming out: Al-Abdaly was challenged over the views he taught impressionable teenagers at the Islamic Centre as far back as 2007 — but police were not told

In fact, according to Abdulwahab’s childhood best friend, Pelle Johansson, the presence of 20,000 local Muslims was not a factor in him settling in Luton.

Mr Johansson said: ‘The only reason he chose to go to Luton was because he found a course at a university he loved. Taimour’s only aim — apart from having fun — was to become a physiotherapist. He had no interest in Islam before he moved there. But something changed when he was in Luton.’

Fellow mosque-goers of Abdulwahab in Luton told the Daily Mail yesterday that he went on to target ‘impressionable and angry’ teenage Muslims with his version of militant Islam.

Eventually, he stormed out in 2007 after being challenged — but not reported to police — over his calls for violence.

Luton Islamic Centre secretary Farasat Latif said: ‘When he first arrived he would be going in the kitchen, the library and the prayer rooms helping out — almost too enthusiastically. That’s when people got suspicious.

‘He started talking radical ideas to the young, impressionable teenagers. But when one of us elders walked over he would immediately shut up. ‘He was targeting the young men who were full of anger and angst and could be easily led astray.

‘We don’t know if he was getting funding from extremists linked to terrorist groups — but it was very odd how he just turned up briefly.’

The Home Office’s Preventing Violent Extremism scheme, currently under review for being ineffective, gives Islamic groups generous grants — but the Luton Islamic Centre refused to sign up.

Islamic Centre chairman Qadeer Baksh said: ‘The reason we didn’t take the Government money for the Preventing Violent Extremism scheme is that it requires us to inform on fellow Muslims. If we had taken the money our members would have seen us as working for the Government. The young men with radical views would not have listened to us.’

Was he radicalised by his wife?

Mona Thwany’s lips are painted bright red, and she wears a clinging top with a plunging neckline.

Smiling broadly for the camera with dark hair flowing over her shoulders, she looks very much a glamorous Western wife.

It is a rare departure from her usual appearance. The widow of suicide bomber Taimour Abdulwahab, in hiding while the three-bed semi she shared with her husband in Luton is scoured by forensic officers, is rarely seen without a veil covering her face.

Her Romanian grandmother Maria Nedelcovici last night told how Miss Thwany was radicalised on a trip to North Africa and in turn, introduced her husband to radical Islam.

Speaking moments after being told of Abdulwahab’s suicide mission, tearful Mrs Nedelcovici cried out: ‘Why did you do this Mona?’ She said she and other relatives warned her granddaughter that her conversion to radical Islam would destroy her family.

But Miss Thwany refused to change her ideas, she claimed — and in June of this year she and her husband went on to name their only son Osama, the same name of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

‘From all of the names in the world Mona had to choose Osama,’ said Mrs Nedelcovici…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Sweden Democrats Urge Islam Debate After Blast

The far-right Sweden Democrats demanded on Tuesday a debate in Sweden’s parliament, the Riksdag, on Islamic extremism following Saturday’s twin blasts in Stockholm likely aimed at Christmas shoppers.

“The Sweden Democrats demand a current debate in parliament about violence-prone Islamic extremism. The party proposes that the debate, due to large public interest, be held as soon as possible,” said the party, which won its first parliamentary seats in September.

Separately, newspaper Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) reported on Tuesday that party leader Jimmie Åkesson’s secretary Alexandra Brunell has come under fire after tweeting the word “Finally” on her Twitter account following the suicide bomb attacks that took place on Saturday in Stockholm.

The Sweden Democrats’ urging for debate on Islamic extremism came just days after a man strongly believed to have been Taymour Abdelwahab carried out the first-ever suicide bombing in Sweden.

He was carrying a cocktail of explosives and is believed to have mistakenly set off a small explosion near a crowded pedestrian street. He killed himself before he could carry out what, according to the lead prosecutor on the case, appears to have been a mission to murder “as many people as possible.”

Abdelwahab, who was known for his outspoken views in favour of violent jihad, was the only person killed when some of the explosives he was carrying detonated, but two others were injured when his car exploded nearby minutes earlier.

“There is today a large public interest in a debate around these questions. People want to know how we as politicians look at Islamic extremism and what the preventive work looks like,” Åkesson said in the statement.

In addition to the bombing, several recent events made such a debate pertinent, he said, pointing to last week’s jail sentences handed down to two Swedes for “planning terrorist crimes” in Somalia and to an intelligence report to be published on Wednesday about violent Islamic extremists in Sweden.

“It is my hope that we can have this debate in parliament before Christmas,” Åkesson said.

Separately, Brunell apologised for her comment on her blog on Monday, calling it an “important lesson, but rather hard-earned.”

“As pathetic as some of the reactions have been, it was equally thoughtless of me to express myself so sarcastically about the terrible things that happened this weekend,” she wrote.

“What have I learned from this? That it is foolish to try to be sarcastic in writing. That sensitive issues must be handled with extreme care. That there are many who are out to ‘misunderstand,’“ she added.

Sweden Democrat MP William Petzäll echoed his colleague’s sentiments on Sunday evening, tweeting, “I hate to say this, but what was it that we said?,” according to SvD.

Åkesson said that Brunell’s statements should not be overinterpreted and denied that the Sweden Democrats would welcome a terrorist attack.

Eric Myrin, the Sweden Democrats’ press secretary, emphasised in the SvD report that her role in the party is not a political one and that she made the comments as a private person.

Meanwhile, Green Party spokesman Peter Eriksson found the party’s attitude to her remarks irresponsible.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Sweden: ‘Mass Casualties’ Narrowly Avoided: Bildt

A suicide bomber who blew himself up in Stockholm at the weekend was just minutes away from wreaking carnage among Christmas shoppers, said Sweden’s foreign minister Carl Bildt.

The man, carrying a cocktail of explosives according to Swedish investigators, was only “a couple of hundred metres” from causing massive casualties, Bildt told BBC television Monday.

“He was heading into a place where if he had exploded all of the ordnance that he had with him… it would have been mass casualties of a sort that we have not seen in Europe for quite some time,” he told the programme Newsnight.

“We were extremely lucky… I mean minutes and just a couple of hundred metres from where it would have been very catastrophic.”

The bomber, whom investigators strongly believe was Taymour Abdelwahab, was the only person to die in Saturday’s attack. Two other people were injured when the bomber detonated a car before blowing himself up.

Bildt said that Sweden was working with other countries, including Britain and the United States, to figure out whether the bomber had any accomplices.

British police have been searching his house in Luton, just north of London, where he had been living with his family.

“It might be that he was operating on that particular night alone,” said Bildt.

“It might be that preparations and training and whatever was part of a wider network. But that is obviously something that the authorities are extremely keen to find out.”

Sweden’s chief prosecutor Tomas Lindstrand told reporters he was “98 percent” certain of the bomber’s identity, but was awaiting DNA test results for confirmation.

Investigators believed the bomber was a Swedish citizen who lived in Britain and that he had been bent on killing “as many people as possible”, he added.

And after an Islamist group said Abdelwahab had targeted Sweden because of its military presence in Afghanistan, Lindstrand warned that the bomber would likely have had accomplices.

In London, meanwhile, a spokesman for the city’s Metropolitan Police said officers had raided a property in nearby Luton late Sunday as part of the investigation.

Prosecutor Lindstrand sketched a similar scenario to reporters: “He had a bomb belt on him, he had a backpack with a bomb and he was carrying an object that has been compared to a pressure cooker.

“If it had all blown up at the same time, it would have been very powerful,” he said.

“This was during Christmas shopping in central Stockholm and he was extremely well-equipped when it came to bomb material…. It is not much of a stretch to say he was going to a place with as many people as possible.”

And while it had been established the suspect carried out the attack alone, investigators “have to assume he worked with several people,” Lindstrand added.

Abdelwahab, a father of three, would have been 29 the day after the blasts.

He was reportedly born in Iraq, but investigators said he became a Swedish citizen 18 years ago. He had never come to the attention of the security services, they added.

In Britain, the chairman of a mosque in Luton where the suspected bomber used to worship described Abdelwahab as a “bubbly” character.

He had been known for his hardline views before he “stormed out” for good when tackled about them in 2007.

“I had to confront him three or four times because his views were so extreme,” Qadeer Baksh told AFP.

“He was saying physical jihad was an obligation for all Muslims and saying that Muslim scholars are unreliable and untrustworthy because they are in the pockets of governments,” he added.

“I am shocked because I never imagined he would go this far.”

Luton has seen clashes between Islamic and far-right extremists in recent years.

In 2005 the four suicide bombers who killed 52 people on London’s transport system met up there to make their way into the capital.

An Islamist website, Shumukh al-Islam, posted a purported will by Abdelwahab which said he was fulfilling a threat by Al-Qaeda in Iraq to attack Sweden.

On Saturday Sweden’s Saepo intelligence agency and the TT news agency received an email with audio files in which a man believed to be the bomber is heard calling on “all hidden mujahedeen in Europe, and especially in Sweden, it is now the time to fight back.”

The message referred to the Swedish army’s presence in Afghanistan and to Swedish artist Lars Vilks, the object of numerous threats since his drawing of the Prophet Mohammed was first published in 2007.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Hunt for Mastermind Behind the Sweden Plot: Police Believe Luton Cell Helped Stockholm Bomber Plan Terror Attack

Terror police are frantically searching for clues in a bid to crack the Luton cell who they believe helped the Stockholm bomber plan his attack.

Detectives are are convinced Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly was not working alone.

The 29-year-old killed himself and wounded two people in a botched attack in the Swedish capital on Saturday afternoon.

Now Swedish authorities believe the failed bombing was ‘well-planned’ and they are working with British detectives on the assumption that the Iraq-born Bedfordshire University graduate was helped by others.

Police are now minutely examining material left by the bomber for clues about his accomplices.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Swedish Blasts Only the Beginning — Qaeda

An internet posting on Monday, attributed to a senior al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, warned that last weekend’s deadly bombings in Stockholm were “only the beginning”, and threatened attacks against Nato and Europe.

In an audio recording on the Shumukh al-Islam Islamic website, a man identified as Abu Suleiman al-Nasser, a leader of the al-Qaeda affiliate in Iraq, warned that the Sweden attacks were “only the beginning of a new era in our jihad”, or holy war.

Suleiman, who is “war minister” of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), warned Nato countries to “withdraw their troops from Afghanistan immediately and unconditionally”, and to “stop their war against Islam”.

Otherwise, “you’ll have no security” and “expect that we will strike at the heart of Europe”, the speaker warned in the nearly two-minute recording.

In a separate communiqué signed in his name, the previously unheard of Partisans of Islamic Jihad urged jihadists to try to wreak havoc during the Christmas and New Year holidays in the West with false reports of imminent attacks.

“Take care in the coming days to sow terror and panic in unholy ground,” said the statement on the Shumukh al-Islam site. “We want to terrify with false alerts.”

The same website on Sunday identified the bomber behind Saturday’s attacks in Stockholm as Taimur Abdelwahab and published a photograph it said was him.

Sweden’s top prosecutor on Monday “confirmed 98%” that “the man who blew himself up” in a busy pedestrian quarter of the Swedish capital following a car explosion, was Abdelwahab.

The twin blasts rocked a shopping street in central Stockholm, killing a man suspected of being the bomber and wounding two others.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

The Press Association: US Fears Over UK Extremists Leaked

US concerns that the UK was struggling to cope with home-grown extremism have been revealed in a secret cable released through WikiLeaks, which said the Government made “little progress” in engaging with the UK’s Muslim community in the year after the July 7 bomb attacks in London. The cable noted that Tony Blair’s administration invested “considerable time and resources” in a drive to isolate radicals from the mainstream Muslim community after the 2005 attacks. But it said that tensions continued, with some British Muslims blaming the Government’s foreign policy for inciting extremism, distrusting the motives behind the arrest of terror suspects and regarding official attempts at engagement as “a publicity stunt”. The latest revelations have emerged on the day that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is due to face a court in London as part of the Swedish authorities’ efforts to have him extradited for questioning over sex allegations, which he strongly denies. The cable, leaked to the whistleblowing website and reported in The Guardian, was sent to Washington from the US Embassy in London in August 2006, shortly after the publication of a highly critical open letter about UK government policy signed by prominent Muslims including Sadiq Khan — now shadow justice secretary…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

The Stockholm Suicide Bomber Shows Once Again That British Universities Are a Threat to World Peace

By Ed West

Perhaps the least surprising thing about the Stockholm suicide bomber Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly is that he went to a British university. Well, I say university: Bedfordshire University, or Luton College of Higher Education as it was called pre-makeover, was labelled “the worst university in Britain” by the Sunday Telegraph back in 2004, and that’s up against some pretty stiff competition.

As anyone watching the disgraceful riots last week will have picked up on, violence is not the preserve of the uneducated or poor. Indeed, throughout modern history, Left-wing student movements have shown both a willingness to commit violence to get their way and to condone violent acts by others.

Rather than terrorism being a product of poverty and despair, as we’ve always been told, statistical studies of Islamic terrorists show they are no poorer than the population at large. Islamism has very little to do with “injustice” and everything to do with alienation and isolation (80 per cent of jihadis are immigrants or the children of immigrants), a thwarted sense of entitlement, idleness, and radical anti-Western politics.

Which is why British universities are, of course, the perfect breeding ground for Islamism, combining all of those things. As Michael Burleigh described in his excellent book Blood and Rage, it was the expansion of university places across Europe after the war, where lots of unemployable young people with a sense of entitlement were immersed in violence-loving Left-wing dogma, that led to terrorist movements in Italy, Germany and elsewhere.

In Britain, where a hyper-sexual youth culture that glorifies violence (how many jihadis were formerly Ali G-alike hip-hop fans? I’ve lost count) adds to those problems. Our universities have become recruiting grounds for Islamism, beginning with our first suicide bombers Asif Muhammad Hanif and Omar Khan Sharif, two young men who became just the latest in a long line of embittered losers who blamed the Jews for all their failures…

           — Hat tip: Bewick[Return to headlines]

UK: Pictured: How Water Cannons Can Blind Protesters as Britain Considers New Measures Against Demonstrators

[WARNING: Graphic photos]

A protester who was blinded by a water cannon demonstrates the horrific consequences of using high pressure hoses to control crowds.

German pensioner Dietrich Wagner, 66, was rendered unconscious and his eyes were severely damaged when he took the full force of the blast during an environmental protest in Stuttgart.

It comes as Scotland Yard insists it would be ‘foolish’ not to consider using cannons in Britain in the wake of last week’s chaotic student fees protests.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Rail Militants Plot Christmas Mayhem: Strikes Will Affect Sales and the Great Getaway

Rail unions have targeted the Christmas getaway and Boxing Day sales for a series of strikes designed to ruin the festive season for millions.

The militant walkouts are aimed at preventing families from travelling to stay with their relatives on December 23, and stopping shoppers reaching the sales three days later.

It comes as the RMT union’s hardline general secretary Bob Crow said he ‘couldn’t care less’ if his members staged ‘a million strikes’ — stressing that such militancy was a central part of his union’s ‘brand’.

He added that it was not his job to think of passengers’ plight, saying: ‘Our organisation is purely to look after our members.’

In London, striking Tube workers are demanding triple pay and a day off in lieu for working Boxing Day in a move which Underground bosses branded ‘disgraceful’, accusing union militants of ‘holding people to ransom.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Stockholm Terrorist Al-Abdaly and the Luton Islamic Centre


Last year, the mosque featured in the Daily Mail, where its congregants were praised for confronting Al Muhajiroun on the streets of Luton. Mosque spokesman Farasat Latif told the Indie [The Independent]:

Mr Latif’s Masjid Al Ghurabaa follows the Salafi school of thought, the socially conservative Saudi sect in which male adherents tend to grow long beads and dress in simple tunics and women usually adopt the full-length niqab veil. “To outsiders we come across as very traditional,” he says.. “We don’t listen to music — my wife and I, for instance, wouldn’t go to a wedding if there was music playing. But that doesn’t make us extremists. Islam teaches people to strongly believe in social cohesion and strictly prohibits shedding any innocent blood. The hot-headed young men that belong to Al Muhajiroun promote violence and preach a false version of Islam that reflects badly on ordinary Muslims. That’s why we took action.”

The article concluded:

Mr Latif, meanwhile, hopes that their decision to turn on the extremists within their own community will now prompt Luton’s white community to do the same.

“I believe people on all sides are sick of the extremists,” he said. “I now hope the white working class will weed out the fascists and hate mongers just like we now have. Otherwise things will only get worse.”

These are laudable sentiments, to which all should pay heed. The Luton Islamic Centre should be congratulated for having opposed Al Muhajiroun, and for having prevented the terrorist, al-Abdaly, from preaching at their Mosque. I hope that they also reported him to the Police. However, “hatemongering” is, unfortunately, a description which could aptly be applied to the theological output of the Luton Islamic Centre.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Son, 18, Grabbed Knife and Stabbed to Death the Freed Mental Patient Neighbour Who He Found Murdering His Mother in Their Home

A suspected schizophrenic suffering severe hallucinations stabbed a neighbour to death after he was released from hospital because mental health experts decided he was not a risk to the public, an inquest has heard.

Jonathan London, 46, who believed he was controlled by robots, burst into the home of Sandra Crawford, 53, and attacked her with an 8in chef’s knife.

Her 18-year-old son, James Killen, rushed downstairs after hearing the commotion and found London lying on top of his mother shouting ‘Die, die’.

He wrestled the knife from London’s hands and stabbed or slashed him 16 times to defend his mother.

The teenager, who was at the inquest today with members of his family, was initially arrested on suspicion of murder but it was later decided no charges should be brought against him.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Waltham Forest: Muslim Radicalism ‘Significant’ In Borough

A SECRET US Embassy cable on Muslim extremism in Britain revealed by Wikileaks today describes Waltham Forest as a place where radicalism is “significant”.

The message also describes the borough as “plagued by urban problems including drugs, youth gangs [and] violence”.

The dispatch, dated October 2007, also notes how three youths were injured in a triple shooting in the borough as US officials attended a meeting nearby on the work of the Active Change Foundation (ACF) earlier that month.

The apparent shooting was never made public by police.

ACF works with young Muslims to tackle extremism and gang culture and the cable is a summary of a five-day fact-finding mission on Muslim extremism in the UK.

The meeting took place three months after police foiled a plot involving for Waltham Forest men to blow up transatlantic flights.

It notes that there was a “lively discussion” at the Waltham Forest meeting, which was attended by politicians, journalists, community figures and young Muslims.

It states: “During the meeting, the young people present repeated several times to [officials] Pandith and Cohen that they want the skills and the opportunities to be able to represent their views to the media and to decision makers.

“Although the journalists kept interjecting foreign policy issues such as Iraq and Israel/Palestine, the young people stressed that while those issues might be of some concern, the real issues in their lives are jobs, education, and empowerment.

The cables conclude: “Muslim youth from deprived areas expressed less concern with UK and US foreign policy than with the chance to have their voices heard in British society, while those with more education focused on disagreements with UK foreign policy and the need to use the arts to address cultural tensions and reconciliation.”

Thousands of the leaked confidential US documents are being released in stages by the Wikileaks website.

Other cables released today reveal US scepticism at the UK’s progress in tackling home-grown extremism.

Hanif Qadir, of the ACF, which is based in Lea Bridge Road, Leyton, said: “When I first found out we were mentioned I did panic wondering what it said because the leaks have been quite rude about certain people.

“But I think we actually come out of it quiet well.

“We met [US diplomat Farah Pandith mentioned in the cables] several times since that meeting and we’ve always got on well.

“It says that radicalism is ‘significant’ and I don’t think you can deny that it is an issue and a problem.

“But at the same time there are groups such as ours who are working hard to address this.

“The problem is that local authorities such as Waltham Forest only react to what is in the news.

“When extremism is out of sight it is out of mind. They don’t fund projects long-term.”…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

US Mormons Criticize Swiss Missionary Ban

A group of senators in the United States is calling on Swiss officials to allow Mormon missionaries to continue working in Switzerland after 2012, despite a de facto ban prohibiting them from doing so.

US Senator Mike Crapo is leading an effort on behalf of 14 US senators who sent a letter to the Swiss embassy in Washington earlier this year urging the government to find a way forward for missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“We expect an ongoing dialogue with the Swiss government representatives and US officials to ensure that responsible religious missionaries have the fullest possible opportunity to continue their work abroad with the minimum of bureaucratic hurdles,” Senator Crapo told

The new regulations stem from a bilateral accord on the free movement of people between Switzerland and the European Union that came into effect in 2002. In effect, this agreement allows European nationals to seek employment in Switzerland while significantly restricting work permits for people from all other countries.

A decision by the Swiss courts established that missionary work is considered to be for gainful employment and therefore subject to quotas.

Hope and a prayer

The Swiss embassy responded to the request by the senators — which included Harry Reid, Majority Leader in the Senate, and 12 other Mormon senators — in an October letter offering hope for a possible solution through dialogue and other means.

“Laws can be amended and regulations can be changed but it will be up to the relevant communities involved to initiate those changes,” Urs Ziswiler, the Swiss ambassador at the time, wrote in the correspondence.

Ziswiler told “We have several similar cases from other countries and to make an exception for the Mormons would create a precedent.”

In response to the correspondence, Senator Crapo told that he appreciates the invitation to “continue discussions” to find a way for Mormon missionaries to continue their services. Most Mormon missionaries who come to Switzerland are from American states, including Utah, Missouri, Idaho and Arizona.

Under an existing transition agreement, a maximum of 80 Mormon missionaries from the US were allowed into Switzerland in 2010, and 50 will be permitted in 2011. As of 2012, there will be no future admissions of missionaries of any denomination from any third party states, according to the Swiss embassy.

Long history

In their letter, the US senators pointed to the “special relationship of the LDS [Latter-day Saints] church with Switzerland,” adding that Bern was chosen as the location for the first LDS European temple.

“Today, there are a substantial number of LDS Church members in the United States who proudly claim their Swiss ancestry. It would be a great tragedy for our two nations if the long standing missionary program of the LDS Church in Switzerland were terminated,” the senators wrote.

They added that LDS missionaries are in Switzerland as unpaid volunteers performing ecclesiastical duties only and as such do not compete with other workers.

“On a reciprocal basis, young Swiss members of the LDS Church are able to serve their 24-month missions in the United States without restriction,” they added…

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

Why Are British Universities Producing Islamic Terrorists?

The Stockholm bomber, Taimour al-Abdaly, was the latest Muslim graduate from a British university to become a terrorist in the name of Islam. Coincidence?

Iraqi-born Taimour Abdulwahab Al-Abdaly became the latest Islamic terrorist to have passed through the British university system on December 11th, 2010, when the former University of Bedfordshire student blew himself up in a Stockholm street. Last year’s failed plane bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (University College London), was said to have become radicalised while studying just a little further south in the capital. British universities are under suspicion of allowing themselves to become breeding grounds for Islamic radicalism. Is it coincidental, or is there something about the university system that provides a fertile environment for brainwashing fundamentalists.

University is Traditionally Liberal and Rebellious Universities have a reputation for been liberal and rebellious. This was particularly evident in the 1960s, when university campuses became hotbeds of rebellion against what they saw as the authoritarian capitalist system.

This continued through the decades until after the Cold War, when Islamic Fundamentalism took over from Communism as the biggest rival to the American global policeman.

Islamic Fundamentalism Declares War on its American Ally

The USA had been an ally to Muslims in Afghanistan and the Balkans, but Osama Bin Laden objected to American troops being stationed in the Middle-East after the Gulf War, which resulted from Iraq’s invasion of its Arab neighbour, Kuwait.

This led to the bombing of the World Trade Center in the 9/11 attacks of 2001, following an earlier failed attempt in 1993.

George Bush Jr. Falls into the Al-Qaeda Trap with Iraq Invasion While most of the world was sympathetic to the USA after 9/11, the resulting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq involving British forces provoked student protests on British campuses.

As the death tolls increased, and the wars became quagmired, students started to call Bush and Blair the terrorists. This seems to have fulfilled the desires of Osama Bin Laden, who had stated in an interview with Tony Jones (, Aug 24th, 2007) that he wanted to lure American troops into a bloody ground war.

British Students Largely Only Focus on UK and US Wars

Most British students only take an active interest in wars that receive regular media coverage, and that usually means wars involving British troops and the Middle-East. Other Islamic wars across the world receive little attention in the British media, which tends to report them episodically.

This plays into the Al-Qaeda propaganda strategy of blaming the rest of the world for its wars and claiming victimhood, while steadily building the Islamic caliphate. When the media do report Islamic wars or terrorism they are usually met with cries of Islamaphobia from even moderate Muslims…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

WikiLeaks Copycat Site Targets EU Institutions

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS — A self-funded group of former EU officials and NGO, media and PR-sector workers based in Belgium has set up an EU version of WikiLeaks, in what is just one of several copycat sites springing up since Cablegate began., which set up shop on Thursday (9 December), has a homepage on the WordPress blog-hosting service and has invited people to anonymously send in sensitive EU-related documents using an encrypted contact form.

Unlike WikiLeaks, Brussels Leaks will not publishing anything itself but will instead check the documents’ authenticity and pass them on to selected media.

The site is planning to shortly release its first batch of papers in the transport and energy sector. “In terms of submissions, we have already had a few via the website which is a good sign,” a Brussels Leaks contact said in comments emailed to EUobserver on Monday.

“Our ideology is that the EU can be a huge cause for good, but people rightly distrust it because so much appears to happen behind closed doors. By drawing attention to this and its failings, we hope the EU institutions will work to improve their transparency and ensure the voice of the citizen is clearly heard over that of industry, which currently holds far too much sway in Brussels.”

The contact added that “documents are leaked very often” in the EU capital but the relatively small number of EU officials and diplomats in the city means that people are wary of publishing them in order not to hurt their sources.

The most ambitious post-Cablegate project so far is shaping up to be OpenLeaks.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

WikiLeaks Cables: US Worry Over UK Home-Grown Extremism

US concerns that the UK was struggling to cope with home-grown extremism have been revealed in new Wikileaks cables.

One cable said the British government made “little progress” in engaging with the UK’s Muslim community after the 7 July 2005 terror attacks in London.

The communication was delivered to Washington from the American embassy in London in August 2006.

The cable said tensions continued, with some British Muslims blaming UK foreign policy for inciting extremism.

Meanwhile, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who is currently in prison in London, has defended the release of the cables in a statement issued via his mother Christine.

Read on Australian television station Channel 7, it said: “My convictions are unfaltering. I remain true to the ideals I have expressed.”

Mr Assange also branded Visa, Mastercard and PayPal “instruments of US foreign policy” after they blocked donations to the Wikileaks website, adding that he was “calling on the world to protect my work and my people from these illegal and immoral acts”.

He is due to appear in court in London on Tuesday to fight extradition to Sweden where he denies sexually assaulting two women.

‘Time and resources’ The document concerning UK extremists, details of which appear in the Guardian newspaper, was sent shortly after the publication of an open letter highly critical of British government policy signed by prominent Muslims, including Labour MP Sadiq Khan, who is now shadow justice secretary.

The cable referred to anger among some British Muslims about issues such as the arrest of suspects over the failed transatlantic airliner bomb plot and then Prime Minister Tony Blair’s failure to call for a ceasefire after Israel’s assault on Lebanon.

It said: “Since 7/7, HMG [Her Majesty’s Government] has invested considerable time and resources in engaging the British Muslim community. The current tensions demonstrate just how little progress has been made.

Mr Assange is currently flighting extradition to Sweden “At the same time, the Muslim community’s reaction to the arrests of 24 of its own sons — a knee-jerk reaction blaming HMG — shows that its leaders too have far to go…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


EU Applauds Kosovo Elections Despite Reports of Serious Fraud

Acting Kosovar Prime Minister Hashim Thaci has declared victory for his Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) following the first parliamentary elections to be held in an independent Kosovo. He made the declaration before the country’s electoral commission has published the preliminary results.

Exit polls signalled that the PDK had won most of the votes but the victory was overshadowed by reports of serious fraud in two municipalities in the Drenica region, a PDK stronghold. A 94 percent turnout was reported in Skenderaj while in the rest of Kosovo it averaged around 45 percent.

Other parties and NGO observers said such a turnout was impossible in any municipality since one-fifth of Kosovar voters registered on the electoral lists live outside the country. Observers reported that some polling stations had declared turnouts as high as 140 percent.

A statement issued by the US embassy said the ambassador, who had visited some polling stations, had personally witnessed irregularities in Skenderaj. “There were irregularities during the count that the ambassador observed, challenged and reported. The ballots in the box exceeded the number of signatures in the voters book,” the statement said.

But the EU welcomed the peaceful way in which the elections had been conducted. High representative Catherine Ashton and enlargement commissioner Stefan Fule congratulated the Kosovar people and authorities for “the calm and orderly manner” in which the ballot was held.

“The participation of the Kosovo people of all communities is very welcome. Now it is up to the competent authorities to certify the results and to deal with complaints and appeals in line with the relevant laws and regulations,” Ms Ashton and Mr Fule said in a joint statement.

The two EU officials now expect a new Kosovar government ready to start an EU-mediated dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina very soon.

The elections demonstrated the internal divisions of a society that broke loose from its former Serbian rulers and declared itself an independent state in February 2008. Turnout in the majority Serb areas of the north was around one percent, after the Belgrade government’s call for a vote boycott.

However, there was a higher than expected turnout among Serbs in the rest of Kosovo, a sign that divisions run through the Kosovar Serb community as well.

Even if the PDK’s victory is confirmed, it will need at least two more parties, including minorities, as coalition partners to create a new government.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Kosovo PM is Organ-Harvesting Crime Boss, Council of Europe Says

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS — The Council of Europe has said the prime minister of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci, is the head of a criminal gang involved in heroin trafficking and organ harvesting, accusing him of personally carrying out “assassinations”.

The report, by Swiss politician Dick Marty, was published on Tuesday and is based on a two-year-long investigation which saw him travel to Belgrade, Pristina and Tirana to interview judicial authorities, politicians, NGOs, international bodies and US intelligence services. Mr Marty is due to present his findings at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg on Thursday.

The report explains that Mr Thaci’s links to organised crime date back to 1998, when the Thaci-loyal Drenica Group took over the Kosovo Libaration Army and related Kosovar-Albanian criminal enterprises in the region.

“In confidential reports spanning more than a decade, agencies dedicated to combating drug smuggling in at least five countries have named Hashim Thaçi and other members of his Drenica Group as having exerted violent control over the trade in heroin and other narcotics,” it says.

“Thaci and these other Drenica Group members are consistently named as ‘key players’ in intelligence reports on Kosovo’s mafia-like structures of organised crime. I have examined these diverse, voluminous reports with consternation and a sense of moral outrage.”

The report names Mr Thaci and four other Drenica members as having personally taken part in “assassinations, detentions, beatings and interrogations”.

On organ harvesting, it says Drenica had responsibility over a prison-like base in Tirana in which guards murdered ethnic Serb prisoners in order to cut out and sell their kidneys on the black market: “As and when the transplant surgeons were confirmed to be in position and ready to operate, the captives were brought out of the ‘safe house’ individually, summarily executed by a KLA gunman, and their corpses transported swiftly to the operating clinic.”

Mr Marty also accuses Western powers, such as the EU, of not having done enough to investigate ethnic-Albanian war-era crimes in the interests of preserving stability in the fractious region. There has been “faltering political will on the part of the international community to effectively prosecute the former leaders of the KLA,” he said.

The bombshell comes 48 hours after Mr Thaci on Sunday claimed victory in Kosovo’s first-ever parliamentary elections in a vote marred by allegations of fraud.

On Monday, the EU welcomed the peaceful way in which the elections had been conducted. High representative Catherine Ashton and enlargement commissioner Stefan Fule congratulated the Kosovar people and authorities for “the calm and orderly manner” in which the ballot was held.

Kosovo and Serbia had not yet reacted to the findings on Tuesday evening. But if Mr Thaci holds on to power, the Marty report could also have an impact on the success of EU-mediated Kosovo-Serbia talks on the final status of Kosovo due to start shortly.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Wikileaks: Spain, Kosovo Withdrawal Led to Crisis With US

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, DECEMBER 13 — The pull-out of Spanish troops from Kosovo, announced on March 19 2008 by the Zapatero government without having consulted with its allies, led to a crisis between the US and Spain, according to the State Department documents released by Wikileaks and published in today’s El Pais.

US vice president Joe Biden criticised the Spanish premier Jose’ Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s decision during their first meeting in March 2008 in the Chilean city Vina del Mar, and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did not hesitate to speak of Washington’s irritation to the Foreign Minister at the time, Miguel Angel Moratinos. (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Caroline Glick: The Feminist Deception

Making the rounds on YouTube these days is a film of a group of manly looking women preparing for and conducting a “flash dance” in a Philadelphia food store. The crew of ladies, dressed in tight black clothes and sequined accessories, arrives at The Fresh Grocer supermarket, breaks into a preplanned chant ordering shoppers not to buy Sabra and Tribe hummus and telling them to oppose Israeli “apartheid” and support “Palestine.”

From their attire and attitude, it is fairly clear that the participants in the video would congratulate themselves on their commitment to the downtrodden, the wretched of the earth suffering under the jackboot of the powerful. They would likely all also describe themselves as feminists.

But if being a human rights activist means attacking the only country in the Middle East that defends human rights, then that means that at the very basic level, the term “human rights activist” is at best an empty term. And if being a feminist means attacking the only country in the Middle East where women enjoy freedom and equal rights, then feminism too, has become at best, a meaningless term. Indeed, if these anti-Israel female protesters are feminists, then feminism is dead…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

Obama Encouraging ‘Diplomatic Assault’ On Israel?

PA officials: President quietly permitting recognition of Palestinian state

TEL AVIV — Palestinian officials tell WND the Obama administration is only giving lip service to resisting a Latin American declaration recognizing a Palestinian state outside of a the framework of an agreement with Israel.

In what amounts to a diplomatic assault on Israel, Argentina and Uruguay last week announced they were joining Brazil in unilaterally recognizing an independent Palestinian state.

“The Argentine government recognizes Palestine as a free and independent state within the borders defined in 1967,” Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timmerman said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Bahrain Kings Wants Tougher Naturalisation Policy

Bahraini King Hamad called on Tuesday for a toughening of the country’s policy on naturalisation, which the Shiite Muslim majority already considers beneficial to the ruling Sunni minority community. “Experience in matters of naturalisation has proven that it is illogical to grant Bahraini citizenship to a person who is not fully imbued with the national spirit,” the king told the opening session of parliament. A naturalised citizen “must respect the law” and be “loyal” and “the nation must have need of him,” he added, saying citizenship should only be granted “in extreme cases.” This is the first time the king has spoken about the qualifications for naturalisation, which has divided the two communities for years. The opposition argues that government policy aims to shift the population’s confessional makeup in favour of Sunnis. The government says it is applying strictly, and without discrimination, the 1963 naturalisation law.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Great Demand for Luxury Cars and SUVs in Turkey

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, DECEMBER 13 — There has been a great demand for luxury cars and SUVs in Turkey as sales of automobiles have still been decreasing in Europe. Mustafa Idug, chairman of the Aegean Automotive Association (EGOD) based in the western province of Izmir, told the Anatolia news agency.

“Financial security and economic stability are the main reasons for the recent increase in sales of luxury cars and SUVs. I think that the increase will continue in 2011,” he said. When asked whether the general elections scheduled to be held in the summer of 2011 would have an impact of sales of automobiles, Idug said, “result of the election does not affect the sales since the banks’ syndicated loans are long-term and they are ready to provide their clients with any kind of facilities. Sales of luxury cars and SUVs increased by 21% in Turkey and by 27% in Izmir in 2010.” Murat Ozan Ozcicek, sales manager of the Eroz Automotive which is the distributor of Audi, said, “there is a great demand for luxury cars and SUVs.

Actually, we cannot meet the demand. We believe that sales of luxury SUVs will further increase in 2011.” (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

‘My Sri-Lankan is Lebanese’: Using Humour in the Fight Against Racism

Racism directed at black and Asian domestic staff is common in Lebanon. In an attempt to change people’s attitudes, our Observer broadcasts short, funny and offbeat amateur films dealing with racism on the internet.

The scene shows an ordinary moment in the life of a middle-class Lebanese family: the lady of the house is sitting in front of the television being served coffee by her maid. Raising her voice, she shouts at her maid to return to the kitchen. Nothing exceptional except for one detail: the mistress is Sri-Lankan and the maid is Lebanese!

It was by inverting these two roles that Wissam Al-Saliby, director of the short film “Sirlankiyti lebnaniyeh” (“My Sri-Lankan is Lebanese”) chose to tackle the problem of racism in Lebanon. A Blogger and activist in the fight against racism, Wissam made this film two months ago as part of a workshop organized by Shankaboot, an interactive website that broadcasts amateur short films and videos made in Lebanon. The film was broadcast on Shankaboot, YouTube and the blog of the “Anti-Racism Movement”.

Lebanon is home to more than 200,000 foreign workers, most of whom are Sri-Lankan, Philippino and Ethiopian. Nevertheless, a number of associations have been rallying against this influx through campaigns and online petitions.

“Humour is a weapon that can turn out to be very efficient when fighting for a cause”

Ali Fakhry is an activist within the antiracism movement…

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

Review & Outlook: Islam’s Christians

The New York Times to its credit made the continued persecution of Iraq’s Christian minorities its lead story in yesterday’s paper. Amid bloodshed on a large scale in so many places, this may seem like a relatively minor, if unhappy, story. In fact, it raises questions about contemporary Islam’s ability to coexist with non-Islamic peoples—in Iraq and elsewhere.

A spate of anti-Christian bombings and assassinations in Iraq culminated recently in the siege of a church, Our Lady of Salvation, which resulted in the death of 51 worshipers and two priests. Afterward, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki spoke with force and eloquence about the deaths: “The Christian is an Iraqi. He is the son of Iraq and from the depths of a civilization that we are proud of.”

This is an important and accurate description of the Iraqi past. Some of these Christian minorities have coexisted with Islam in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East since the time of Jesus. Some still speak Aramaic, the ancient language of Christ.

With the rise of radical Islam, this tradition of peaceful and productive coexistence has been displaced by a practice of religious cleansing. It is estimated that of the 100,000 Christians who once lived in Mosul, Iraq, only some 5,000 are still there. In Egypt, Coptic Christians have been brutalized. Assaults on churches increase around Easter or Christmas, as worshipers attempt to observe holy days.

For years, the Vatican has worked to restore what Pope Benedict XVI has called a modus vivendi between modern reason and faith. But for all these good-faith efforts, there has been little progress. The Vatican’s Islamic counterparts either cannot sustain initiatives on behalf of moderation and tolerance, or they receive no political support from their own countries.

Living amid an overwhelmingly large majority, the small Christian sects pose no conceivable threat to Islamic hegemony. One can only conclude that they are attacked merely because they exist amid Islamic majorities. The implications of watching a strain of Islam show that it cannot coexist with others extend well beyond the borders of Iraq.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


Hundreds Protest Against Russian Government

Opposition activists call for the resignation of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin

MOSCOW — Hundreds of people protested against the Russian government Sunday at two separate rallies in Moscow, with opposition activists calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and nationalists demanding greater rights for ethnic Russians. Several opposition activists were detained.

A third rally with nationalist overtones drew more than 1,000 students in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don, raising fears that long-standing ethnic tensions were reaching a boiling point.

The rallies followed violent clashes Saturday just outside the Kremlin walls between riot police and about 5,000 football fans and nationalists, who shouted “Russia for Russians.” Police said 34 people were injured; six of them were still hospitalized on Sunday. All 65 people detained during the clashes have been released.

The police crackdown further angered Slavic Russians who resent the growing presence of dark-complexioned people from Russia’s predominantly Muslim republics in the Caucasus.

Dozens of nationalists picketed Sunday at the Federal Security Service headquarters to protest what they described as discrimination against Russians in favor of ethnic minorities.

“Today, all the (democratic) instruments have been trampled upon by the authorities, which means, if they don’t want to use a civilized language, they will have to face, whether they want to or not, the Spartak (football club) rebellion, the crowds,” said Vladlen Kralin, a nationalist leader who goes by the name Vladimir Tor.

Saturday’s clash grew out of a rally held elsewhere in the city to protest the death last week of Yegor Svidorov, a member of the Spartak team’s fan organization, who was shot with rubber bullets in a fight at a bus stop. Those suspected of killing him are from the Caucasus…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Bangladesh: Garment Workers Riot Over Wages in Chittagong, Three Dead, Dozens Injured

Employers are accused of not implementing government minimum wage increase. In Chittagong and Dhaka, factories and police stations are attacked with bricks and stones. Police fire into the crowd.

Dhaka (AsiaNews/ Agencies) — Three people were killed and scores injured yesterday as tens of thousands of garment workers rioted over wages in Dhaka and Chittagong, Bangladesh. The worst incidents occurred in the city of Chittagong where Korean garment maker Youngone shut all 17 of its factories following demonstrations.

During the incidents, some 20,000 workers attacked factories and police stations. Security forces responded using live bullets and tear gas. Three people were killed, including a rickshaw driver who died on the spot after he was hit by a brick.

“They torched scores of vehicles and attacked our officers and the station with bricks and stones. We fired live bullets when they became completely out of control,” said Sergeant Sheikh Abul Hasan.

In Dhaka, 4,000 mainly female workers torched two vehicles and blocked a road in protest against employers accused of not implementing the recent minimum wage rise.

In recent years, cheap labour has attracted foreign garment makers to the South Asian nation. Some 4,000 garment factories have been set up, exporting more than US$ 10 billion worth in garment products a year, mainly to the United States and Europe.

However, working conditions are such that workers have been pushed to protest and take industrial action. The government has responded by imposing a US$ 24 minimum monthly wage in 2006, raising it this year to US$ 42.

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

Christian’s Death Verdict Spurs Holy Row in Pakistan

It began in the summer of 2009 as a quarrel over water in a sweltering farm field in the province of Punjab. When the heated words were over, Asia Noreen Bibi was charged under the strict blasphemy laws of predominantly Muslim Pakistan.

A Christian wife and mother, the woman commonly known as Asia Bibi was convicted by a district court last month of blaspheming the Prophet Muhammad. The punishment is mandatory death and Asia Bibi became the first female in Pakistan to be sentenced to hang for blasphemy.

AP Asia Bibi at a prison in Sheikhupura, near Lahore, on Nov. 20. She appeared in a televised interview from her prison, tearfully denying the blasphemy charges that led to her death sentence. Asia Bibi, a Roman Catholic, says she did not commit the crime. The case has drawn international condemnation, and Pope Benedict XVI has called for Asia Bibi’s release.

But in a country where conservative religious forces are gathering strength, fundamentalists have called for her head.

At a recent protest after Friday’s prayers in Rawalpindi, a small crowd of bearded men chanted: “Asia, the blasphemer: Hang her, hang her.”

Such protesters who often eclipse the country’s more peaceful majority views are passionate that Pakistan’s blasphemy law should not be questioned let alone changed.

The leader of the demonstration, Mohammad Saleem of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan Party, said: “Our country is Islamic and we are Muslims. We want justice.”

Under the law, defiling the Quran merits imprisonment for life. Defaming the sacred name of Muhammad merits death. The penalties were introduced in the 1980s under the dictatorship of General Zia Al Haq, who critics say used the measures to prop up his rule using Islam.

The protesting men pledged to “protect the dignity” of the Prophet and “to sacrifice our lives for Muhammad.”

No one ever convicted of blasphemy in Pakistan has been executed.

Still, the life of Asia Bibi, a mother of two and stepmother of three, is at stake. A cleric has offered 500,000 rupees — roughly $5,800 — to anyone who kills the jailed woman, who is being held in the district jail in the city of Sheikhupura. The Taliban also have threatened retribution should she be spared, yet another sign the case has become a rallying point for extremists.

A Frightened Family

Within 24 hours of the Taliban warning, Asia Bibi’s family fled their home in the Christian colony of Gloria in Sheikhupura, a 90-minute drive from Lahore.

On a recent night, Christmas carolers appeared in the darkened lanes of Gloria, an unexpected sight in a country where less than 2 percent of the population is Christian.

Community leaders helped NPR locate family members and set up an interview in a safe house with Ashiq Masih, Asia Bibi’s husband.

Looking drawn, Masih, a poor kiln worker who makes bricks for a living, said that his wife and family are in grave danger.

“Even if my wife does come out [of jail], she could be killed,” he said, adding that her case is not the first of its kind.

“And it’s not just Christians who are targeted. Muslims have also been charged with blasphemy. Christians are easy to implicate, though. If they talk about religion, they are accused of blasphemy. If a Christian touches the Holy Quran, he is accused of a crime. And here, petty issues get twisted into accusations of blasphemy,” Masih said…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Muslims in Pakistan Burn, Beat Evangelist Unconscious

Police decline to name suspects in attempted murder.

SARGODHA, Pakistan, December 13 (CDN) — An evangelist is still recovering from burns after six young Muslim men beat him with clubs and belts and set him on fire last month in a village near this Punjab Province city, the Christian told Compass.

Aamir Masih, a Christian elder of the same village, said that the young Muslim men mistakenly regarded verses in the pamphlet describing the resurrection of Jesus as derogatory to Muhammad, the prophet of Islam.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Far East

South Korea Suspects North Has More Uranium Sites

(Reuters) — South Korea said on Tuesday it suspects the North has been secretly enriching uranium at more locations besides its main nuclear site, which could mean it has more material for building nuclear bombs.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan said he could not confirm a media report that Pyongyang had three to four plants to enrich uranium but he suspected there were facilities in the North in addition to the Yongbyon nuclear complex.

“It is a report based on what is still intelligence and let me just say that we have been following this issue for some time,” he told a press briefing.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Jordan: Fatwa Issued Against Joining US-Lead Peace Missions

(ANSAmed) — AMMAN, DECEMBER 13 — The influential Islamist movement issued a religious decree today against participation of Jordanian forces in peace missions lead by the US forces around the world.

The group said joining American forces in their military presence in Afghanistan and Sudan is religiously taboo, a verdict that will likely cause controversy in this Muslim nation.

“Fighting alongside the Americans means supporting non-Muslims against Muslims, this is haram (taboo) and those who do it can consider themselves non-Muslims,” said the group in a statement made available to ANSAmed. The Islamist group said support should be directed to resistance in Afghanistan and other parts where fighting against American forces takes place and called on soldiers to disobey their leaders in this regard.

The pro-west Jordan is one of the few Arab countries to support Nato forces in Afghanistan and has an active peace missions across the world including Sudan, Congo, Indonesia and in some parts of central America.

The kingdom has also trained Afghan forces on its territories on hope of enabling the troubled forces over take security once the Americans reduce their presence in Afghanistan. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Sudan: Woman Publicly Flogged by Laughing Policemen in Shocking Video From Sudan

[WARNING: Disturbing content]

Disturbing footage showing a woman being flogged repeatedly by a laughing policemen has sparked outrage after it was posted on the internet.

The YouTube video from Sudan shows an unidentified woman in a long black dress and headscarf being ordered to sit down before a uniformed police officer starts whipping her.

Howling in pain she screams ‘Enough, enough’ and ‘I want my mum’.

A second officer — who laughs when he realises he is being filmed — later joins in with the cruel punishment

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Video: Sudan’s Judiciary Orders Probe Into Video of Woman Being Flogged

This week a YouTube video surfaced showing an unidentified woman in a voluminous cloak on her knees screaming and pleading in agony and pain with blue-uniformed policemen who took turns whipping her across the head and feet.

The policemen are shown to be laughing as the woman received the punishment and they are heard saying that she is sentenced to 50 lashes.

The video stirred widespread outcry among Sudanese around the world and even some pro-government columnists wrote critically of the incident.

“The investigation was started immediately after the images of the young woman, being punished under Articles 154 and 155 of the 1991 Sudanese penal code, appeared on the Internet,” the judiciary said in a statement…

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]


Controversy Surrounds Czech Use of Erection-Measurement Machine

Authorities in the Czech Republic have been using a supposed erotic lie detector to test whether asylum seekers are falsely claiming to be gay. But the practice has come in for criticism after the EU’s human rights agency found out about it.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Islamist Groups Raided in Three German Cities

German authorities on Tuesday mounted raids against two Islamist groups suspected of seeking to overthrow the government and establish a religious state, the Interior Ministry said.

The searches targeted homes and religious schools linked to Salafist jihadist group Invitation to Paradise (EZP) in the northwestern cities of Braunschweig and Mönchengladbach, and the Islamic Cultural Center Bremen (IKZB) in northern German port.

“The EZP and the IKZB are accused of opposing the constitutional order with the aim of replacing it in Germany with an Islamic religious state,” the ministry said in a statement.

The raids were part of a long-running investigation against the groups and had no link to warnings of potential impending terrorist attacks issued last month by Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, it added.

The groups reject parliamentary democracy and believe that Islamic law should replace the constitution, the ministry said.

“In a well-fortified democracy it is advisable and necessary not to wait for jihad in the form of an armed struggle before taking action against anti-constitutional groups,” the ministry said.

The raids will show whether or not government suspicions about the groups can be confirmed, it added.

A security official told news agency the Associated Press that officials had searched dozens of private homes, religious schools, a small publisher, and a store owned by EZP that sells traditional caftans and veils.

Meanwhile an EZP leader in Mönchengladbach condemned the raid, the news agency said.

“We’re sad about this raid, we haven’t done anything illegal,” Sven Lau said.

But the leader of the anti-Salafist initiative “Citizens for Mönchengladbach” told AP his group welcomed the searches.

“We are happy that the Interior Ministry moved so fast against them and hope that it won’t take much longer until the group will be banned altogether,” Wilfried Schultz said.

Residents in Mönchengladbach have held frequent protests against attempts to build a religious school there by the Salafist group, whose strict Islamist ideology has been linked to several terrorist plots.

Their message has been particularly appealing to young Muslim immigrants and converts, the news agency reported.

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

Culture Wars

Australia: Ramadan Should be a Class Act

SCHOOLS that celebrate Christmas should also embrace other non-Christian religious festivals, Muslim leaders say.

Keysar Trad, president of the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia, called on the Victorian Education Department to include the traditions of other religious faiths as part of the formal school curriculum.

“Schools have religious programs — but generally they’re elective, they’re not compulsory,” he said.

“To have an awareness of these festivals can be very enriching for all students, including people who go to secular schools.”

His comments follow Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu’s recent move to protect Christmas celebrations at state schools so that all children can enjoy the “simple pleasures” of the holiday.

Thanks for voting!

Mr Trad called on Mr Baillieu to extend the same level of support to other religions as well.

“When the Premier of the state makes a statement in that manner, one can’t help but feel that he is giving an official stamp to one religion to the exclusion of the other,” he said.

“To be a Premier for all Victorians, I look forward to his instructions to schools to teach about the important religious festivals for all faiths.”

Mr Trad added that Muslim people should be able to take leave from work during Eid, the three-day holiday that marks the end of Ramadan.

Sherene Hassan, vice-president of the Islamic Council of Victoria, also endorsed the incorporation of Ramadan and other religious festivals in the classroom.

“Conversations about increasing awareness of different cultures and religions are already taking place and have been happening for some time among educators,” she said.

“The ICV believes this is a positive way of fostering respect between children.”

Sheikh Mohamadu Saleem, spokesman for the Australian National Imams’ Council, said that schools could hold anything from lessons to full-blown celebrations, depending on the number of pupils of that particular faith.

“Christmas here is celebrated, although the majority of Australians are not Christians but probably consider themselves to be secularists or atheists,” he said.

“Exposure to other cultures in a multi-racial country is a good thing, especially in schools.”

Mr Baillieu and the Victorian Education Department declined to comment when contacted by the Herald Sun.

           — Hat tip: Salome[Return to headlines]

Christians Face Growing Marginalisation in Europe

This week in Vienna a new report was launched highlighting the increasing discrimination Christians face living in the continent of Europe.The findings were published by the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians in Europe.

“Intolerance and discrimination against Christians in Europe is a rather recent phenomenon”, says Observatory Director Gudrun Kugler. She told Vatican Radio that, “On the level of legal discrimination new problems are arising and at the level of social intolerance we see a growing marginalisation of Christians.”

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Muslim Woman Teacher Sues U.S. School After Being Denied Three Weeks Unpaid Leave to Make Pilgrimage to Mecca.

A school district is being sued for not allowing a Muslim teacher to take unpaid leave to make a pilgrimage to Mecca.

The Federal Government has brought the case on behalf of Safoorah Khan, claiming that it is a violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

It is the duty of every Muslim to join the million of pilgrims at the Hajj in Mecca at least once in their lifetime — and the middle school teacher had hoped to go in 2008.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Porn-Themed Shirt Lands Swedish Pastor in Hot Water

A Stockholm-area pastor has been reported for misconduct after posting pictures of himself on Facebook wearing a t-shirt referencing a famed Swedish porn film while he was supervising a group of Swedish teens.

The complaint, received in late November by the Stockholm Diocese of the Church of Sweden, stems from the pastor’s choice of clothing while leading a group of young people on a post-confirmation trip to Taizé in central France.

In images accompanying the complaint, the pastor is seen wearing a blue t-shirt with the word “Fäbodjäntan” written above a subheading “Äkta svensk hårdporr” (“Real Swedish hardcore porn”).

Roughly translated into English as “cowshed wench,” “Fäbodjäntan” is the title of an infamous 1970s Swedish porn film directed by American Joseph W. Sarno.

According to the complaint, the pastor was wearing “extremely inappropriate clothing for someone representing the Church of Sweden.”

Since 2006, the parish where the pastor serves has arranged a leadership development trip to the French village, which is home to the Taizé Community, an ecumenical Christian monastic order established in 1940.

The programme is currently run by the pastor in question and, according to the parish website, the trip addresses subjects such as “the view of man,” as well as “attitudes, values, group dynamics, and communication.”

The complaint also criticises the pastor for posting images of himself wearing the porn-themed t-shirt on Facebook with a caption reading in part, “Every year I go to Taizé in France with teenagers from my parish.”

Produced in 1978, “Fäbodjäntan” features a famous scene involving a large Swedish sausage known as a falukorv.

Released abroad as “Hot Swedish Summer” and “Come and Blow the Horn,” the film is set in a mythical village supposedly located in the idyllic Swedish countryside in Dalarna in central Sweden.

In the village is an old horn which, according to legend, was blown by Vikings returning home after long voyages, signaling the village women to come and make love to the returning warriors.

When the horn is tested in the film, the lustful reaction of the women attests to the veracity of the legend.

The pastor has been notified of the complaint and has until January 5th to comment on the matter to the Stockholm Diocese.

In a statement to The Local, Stockholm Diocese spokesperson Annika Sjöqvist Platzer explained that, if the pastor is ultimately found to have violated church rules, possible punishments include suspension from leading sermons, being placed on probation, or receiving a written warning.

Attempts by The Local to reach the pastor for comment on Tuesday were unsuccessful.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


NASA Voyager 1 Leaving Solar System

NASA’s Voyager 1 probe is nearing the edge of our solar system after 33 years and nearly 11 billion miles of spaceflight. The spacecraft may make the final crossing into interstellar space in just four more years, NASA announced today (Dec. 13). The Voyager 1 spacecraft has entered a region of space in the outer solar system where the speed of solar wind — charged particles streaming from the sun — is effectively zero. NASA scientists think the steep drop in solar wind speed is a sign that it has been blown sideways by a more powerful interstellar wind that blows in the spaces between stars.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

WikiLeaks and Press Freedom: is Treason a Civic Duty?

A Commentary by Thomas Darnstädt

Since 9/11, press freedom in the West has come under attack as governments argue that national security is more important than transparency. But the hunt for WikiLeaks is a greater danger to democracy than any information that WikiLeaks might reveal.

Why do we need freedom of the press? The framers of the United States Constitution believed that such a guarantee would be unnecessary — if not dangerous. There are freedoms that we don’t secure through promises, but which we take for ourselves. They are like the air we breathe in a democracy, whose authority is built on public opinion. The democracy that was founded on the basis of such insights is the American democracy. It is an indication of the American revolutionaries’ healthy mistrust in the power of this insight that they would later incorporate freedom of the press into the US Constitution after all.

Today, more than 200 years later, this old idea seems naïve to all too many people in the Western world. Since becoming embroiled in the war against terrorism, the US government has transformed itself into a huge security apparatus. The Washington Post recently reported that 854,000 people in the US government, or more than one-and-a-half times the population of Washington, DC, hold top-secret security clearances — and this under a president who came into office promising a new era of openness in government. An estimated 16 million government documents a year are stamped “top secret,” or not intended for the eyes of ordinary citizens.

In the crisis, the countries of Old Europe are also putting up the barricades. Germany’s constitution, known as the Basic Law, has a far-reaching guarantee of press freedom and was created after World War II on behalf of the US liberators and in the spirit of the American and French revolutions. But in the 10th year after the 9/11 attacks, one German conservative politician has even pondered whether it might not be a good idea to prohibit journalists from reporting on terrorism in too much detail.

Such people would have been beheaded in revolutionary Paris and probably locked up in Philadelphia. When citizens were revolutionaries, the act of demanding freedom of speech was a revolutionary act. Today, in more peaceful times, we would characterize freedom of speech as a civic virtue.

Playing with Fire

But then along comes someone who is still playing the part of the revolutionary. Julian Assange, the founder of the whistleblowing platform WikiLeaks, is playing with the fire of anarchy. He is constantly threatening new, increasingly dangerous disclosures, which should indeed be of great concern to those affected. But the hatred he reaps in return is beneath all democracies.

In countries that have enshrined the right to free speech in their constitutions, it has until now been taken for granted that disclosures of confidential government information must be measured by the yardstick of the law. Disseminating real government secrets has always been against the law, including in Germany. The journalist Rudolf Augstein, SPIEGEL’s founding father, paid for the mere suspicion of having exposed state secrets by spending 103 days in custody in 1962, in relation to a SPIEGEL cover story on the defense capabilities of the German military. But because the courts abided by the law, and freedom of the press was ultimately considered to be worth more than politicians’ outrage, it wasn’t the press but the government that felt the heat.

But for those who have it in for Assange, it’s more a matter of principle than of enforcing the law. The loudmouth from Australia offers a welcome opportunity to finally cast off the old ideas of press freedom as a right that we grant ourselves instead of allowing others to grant it to us. Aren’t we all at war? Isn’t it the case that citizens must, in fact, protect the state instead of spying on it?

The trans-Atlantic coalition of protectors of the state includes such diverse participants as the chairman of the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security, Joe Lieberman, who accuses anyone who publishes secret US diplomatic cables of “bad citizenship,” and German Green Party Chairman Cem Özdemir, who says that WikiLeaks has “crossed a line that isn’t good for our democracy.” The need to portray oneself as a good citizen is particularly strong among certain journalists. Even the Süddeutsche Zeitung, which normally takes civil rights very seriously, chides that the WikiLeaks disclosures “destroy politics, endanger people and can influence economies.” American journalist Steve Coll, who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his own expose’s, rages against the activities of WikiLeaks, calling them “vandalism” and “subversion.” The Washington Post, whose reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein once exposed the Watergate affair, describes WikiLeaks as a “criminal organization.”

Dark Time for Freedom

To critics, the most threatening aspect of WikiLeaks’ “criminal” activities must be the fact that, so far, no one has managed to find a law that these whistleblowers have actually broken. The US Justice Department’s attempt to invoke the controversial Espionage Act of 1917 shows how helpless the protectors of the law are as they flip through their tomes. The period of World War I was a dark time for constitutional freedoms in the US. In its practically hysterical fear of communists and all other critics, the judiciary even prosecuted people who distributed flyers critical of military service, and in doing so ignored all constitutional guarantees.

Even the post 9/11 period wasn’t quite as bad. In 2005, when the New York Times planned to publish a story about an illegal global wire-tapping program operated by the US National Security Agency (NSA), the paper’s senior editors were summoned to the White House to meet with then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The most powerful government in the world was forced to resort to moral pressure. Apparently no one knew of any legal justification for the government to bar the Times from going to press. Of course, the newspaper did ultimately publish what it had learned. Nevertheless, America survived.

Or was it the other way around? Did America survive precisely because the New York Times published what it knew?…

           — Hat tip: A. Millar[Return to headlines]