Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20101231

Financial Crisis
»China Slows as Tightening Start to Bite
»France: Sarkozy Tells Nation Leaving Euro Would be ‘Madness’
»American Thinker: The Future and the United States
»Barack Obama Appoints First US Ambassador to Syria Since 2005
»Blog Advocating Killing Muslims Deleted by Wordpress.Com
»Islam’s Soft Invasion
»Ivy League students are saner than faculty
»Terrorist Watch List: One Tip Now Enough to Put Name in Database, Officials Say
»U.S. Urged Allies to Boost Cell Phone Service to Target Terrorists: WikiLeaks
»Hijab-Wearing Robber Hits Ottawa Bank
»Muslim Disguise in Bank Robbery Not a First, Police Say
»Useful Idiots. The Far Left’s Support for Foreign Oppression
Europe and the EU
»Brigitte Bardot Wants to Run for French Presidency
»Britain Leads in Israeli Denial Efforts
»Danish Attack Plot Suspect in Previous Arrests
»David Cameron: Britain on New Year Terror Alert
»France Braces for Annual New Year’s Car Torchings
»Netherlands: Geert Wilders Writes Anti-Islam Book
»Rebuilding the Islamo-Christian Civilization in Spain
»UK: Choked With Rubbish: Residents’ Fury After Snow and Festive Season Delay Council Bin Collections by a Month
»UK: Harrow Councillors Declare Hospitality Treats
»UK: Knighted, Man Who Sold Out Cadbury: Tycoon Behind U.S. Takeover Also Masterminded Huge Rise in Gas Bills
»UK: Warning to the US: Don’t Play by Islamic Rules
»United Against a Common Enemy
»Wilders Writes Anti-Islam Book for American Market
»Serbia: Mentors Assist Roma Childern Integrate in Schools
North Africa
»Egypt: Rector Sentenced for Turning Away Teacher in a Burqa
»Explosion Kills Seven Outside Egyptian Church
Israel and the Palestinians
»Delegitimizing the Jewish State
Middle East
»Caroline Glick: Hizbullah and the Information War
»Iraq: Christians Are Casualties of Baghdad Bomb Attacks
»Quiet End to Turkey’s College Headscarf Ban
»Reforming Voices in the Middle East
»The Clash of Civilizations — and What Turkey is Doing About it
»New Year: Xenophobes Threaten to Burn the Koran on Red Square
South Asia
»Italian Soldier Killed in Afghanistan
»Napolitano Visit Aimed at Beefing Up Afghan Border Security, Customs
»Pakistan: Parliament Debates Terrorism Legislation
»Pakistan on Strike Against Bill to Amend Blasphemy Law [Video]
»Violence as Pakistan Strikes Over Blasphemy Law
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Ivory Coast: UK ‘Would Back’ UN Gbagbo Military Action
»Nigeria New Year Revellers Hit by Abuja ‘Bomb’
»Kidnapped Eritreans: Ex-Hostages Arrested, Given to Embassies
»UK: Kate Middleton’s Friend Cautioned by Police After ‘Joke’ About Shooting Illegal Immigrants
Culture Wars
»Hate Crimes Up 14 Percent in New York State
»Italy: Custody Appeal Against Lesbian Mother Turned Down
»Italy: Gay Leftwing Governor Harassed by Door-Knocking Youths
»Al-Qaeda Bomb Manual Published on Internet
»Human Brain Has Been ‘Shrinking for the Last 20,000 Years’
»Internet Groups Fear UN Could Threaten Cyberspace
»Man Could Create New Mass Extinction
»The Islamic Tsunami: Israel and America in the Age of Obama

Financial Crisis

China Slows as Tightening Start to Bite

HSBC’s manufacturing index fell from 55.3 to 54.4 in December, the first drop in five months. The slowdown suggests that the authorities are at last gaining traction in their ever-more zealous efforts to stop over-heating, though many analysts say the credit bubble has already gone too far to avoid trouble next year.

The spectre of Chinese monetary tightening has now become the most neuralgic issue in the world economy. There are fears that Beijing may knock away the central prop of global recovery if it misjudges the delicate task.

Capital Economics said Chinese growth has been even stronger than suggested by official data, reaching 10pc in the fourth quarter based on freight levels, electricity use, and building footage. This blistering pace is no longer viewed as benign since it implies that China will have to brake harder.

The central bank has nudged up reserve requirements for banks five times and raised a range of interest rates, including a surprise move over Christmas to lift the one-year lending rate to 5.81pc. Beijing bared its fangs again on Thursday, pushing the money market rate to a three-year high of 6.25pc. Tightening fears has triggered a 12pc fall in the Shanghai stock market since early November.

Professor Michael Pettis from Beijing University said the Communist Party will struggle to engineer a soft-landing after letting rip with credit over the last two years.

“Debt levels are worryingly high and starting to act as a serious constraint on rebalancing. It is becoming increasingly difficult for the People’s Bank of China to raise interest rates without causing a great deal of financial distress in government related entities,” he said. Mr Pettis said China must slow from the blistering growth rates of 8pc to 9pc over recent years as it reaches the limits of its investment-led export model. “It will be very bad for commodity exporters,” he said. A study by Fitch Ratings concluded that global commodity prices would fall by 20pc if China’s growth slows to 5pc next year. China is now the global price setter for oil, coal, and base metals. It was has snapped up 30pc of global copper supply this year.

Professor Victor Shih at Northwestern University said banks have lent $1.6 trillion (£1.04 trillion) to local state entities, often for projects that are not commercially viable. He estimates that China’s public debt will reach 100pc of GDP next year if counted properly. China’s credit grew 32pc in 2009 and 19pc in 2010, far above the safe speed limit. The authorities have belatedly begun to crack down on property speculation with mortgage rationing.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

France: Sarkozy Tells Nation Leaving Euro Would be ‘Madness’

French President Nicolas Sarkozy in a New Year message Friday said that giving up the euro would be “madness” and urged citizens not to trust those who urged them to do so.

“Do not believe, my dear compatriots, those who suggest that we leave the euro. The isolation of France would be madness. The end of the euro would be the end of Europe,” he said in a message broadcast on television.

Sarkozy said he would “oppose with all my strength this backward step which would make a mockery of 60 years of European construction which has brought peace and fraternity to our continent”.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


American Thinker: The Future and the United States

As the opening decade of the twenty-first century draws to a close, what is the future of the United States in an increasingly complex and fluid world order?

In a prospective global scenario in which China dominates and reshapes Asia, India becomes a major economic power and extends its influence into Africa, Islam continues to spread its brand of social dominion, and Europe has become a loose confederation of states trying to maintain some semblance of importance, what role will the United States play?

It has become conventional wisdom that over the next 25 to thirty years, the United States will continue to experience a precipitous decline, and that China will become the dominant power in the world alongside the massive growth of countries such as India and Brazil. In short, according to the doom-and-gloom crowd, the days of U.S. world influence may well be over.

This assumes the global scenario of the past few centuries when just one part of the world dominated international affairs. That has been Europe (and by extension, the United States). Globalization combined with foolhardy economic and social policies has diffused power away from the West. But that power is moving to countries that have within their societies many built-in factors that will limit their ability to achieve global hegemonic power.

In the case of both China and India, their overwhelming populations and the increasing demands by the people for a piece of the expanding economic pie will force these countries to focus more on internal matters or risk societal upheaval. China, for example, if foolish enough to physically conquer other lands, will only add to its unsustainable internal burden. China can therefore be expected to rely instead on economic supremacy within its own sphere of influence.

Those nations dominated by Islamic fundamentalism will not experience growth, as the nature of their vision of Islam will prevent the expansion of capitalism. In order to keep their populations at bay, brutality will be the order of the day. Their major source of income, the exploitation of natural resources (mainly oil), can be replaced as other nations, such as the United States, tap into their own vast reserves of petroleum-related resources.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Barack Obama Appoints First US Ambassador to Syria Since 2005

The Republicans claimed the appointment of Robert Ford, a career diplomat, would inappropriately reward Damascus while it still has strong ties to Hizbollah, the paramilitary group. Mr Obama used the opportunity of a Congress in recess to appoint Mr Ford, meaning he does not need to be confirmed by the Senate but can only serve until December 2011.

The Bush administration withdrew its ambassador from Syria in February 2005 in protest at the assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister, in a Beirut bomb attack that killed 22 others. Syrian intelligence officials are suspected of being behind the attack, something President Bashar al-Assad of Syria has strenuously denied. Mr Ford, nominated in February, was among six nominees long been stalled in the Senate that Mr Obama decided to appoint this week. The most controversial was James Cole as deputy attorney general. Republicans had expressed concerns about comments he had made about terrorism and his work as an independent contractor for AIG, the insurance company.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Blog Advocating Killing Muslims Deleted by Wordpress.Com

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) announced that a blog advocating killing muslims was deleted by today. The blog contained posts that advocated burning mosques, desecrated Muslim graves, recommended the “proper way to shoot a muslim [sic]” and made false bomb threats that implicated Muslims.

CAIR said that visitors to the “Bootislam’s Blog” will now see the message: “ is no longer available. This blog has been archived or suspended for a violation of our Terms of Service.”

CAIR asked American Muslims as well as others to contact yesterday to ask the hosting company to delete the blog because it violated its Terms of Service, which prohibits blogs that “contain threats or incite violence towards individuals or entities.”

Posts on the blog had headlines such as “Training in desecrating muslim [sic] graves,” “Burning Mosques — A lovely idea” and “The proper way to shoot a muslim [sic].”

“We thank all those who took the time to contact to express their concerns about the incitement to violence found on the blog,” Nihad Awad, CAIR National Executive Director said. “We also thank for taking swift and decisive action in this case.”


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Islam’s Soft Invasion

One of the justifications National Public Radio gave for firing veteran journalist Juan Williams earlier this year, after an appearance on The O’Reilly Factor, was his observation that America is at war, whether we like it or not, with extremist Muslims. Williams simply was referring to the claims of the Times Square bomber, but to the leftist mind, this is invalid. For instance, the gals on The View went apoplectic when their guest Bill O’Reilly noted it was Muslims who perpetrated 9/11, and those who didn’t storm off the set only calmed down after O’Reilly qualified his claim with the modifier “extremist.”

“Extremist,” after all, implies “fringe,” which implies “rare.” The throngs of Palestinians celebrating in the streets after 9/11 notwithstanding. The 60 percent of American Muslims who reject the belief that Arabs were responsible for 9/11 excepted. Setting aside the majority in Jordan—and the substantial minorities in Lebanon and Pakistan—who believe in the necessity of suicide bombing. And so on. In other words, barring the data, it’s really just a small tribe of illiterate wing nuts causing all the trouble. Except that it’s not.

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) has done the West a neglected service for a number of years, translating the speeches and writings of people who would just as soon not have them translated. For example, in the old days Yasser Arafat could give a conciliatory speech to Westerners, then turn right around and call for the destruction of Israel in Arabic, and Jimmy Carter would be none the wiser. But thanks largely to MEMRI we know right away when Libyan thug Moammar Qaddafi elucidates a Muslim strategy for conquering Europe—a potentiality Western leftists like to mock when voiced by conservatives. And so witness a respected Egyptian journalist who is calling for Islamists to send more clerics to America in order to convert U.S. citizens. In Europe, Islam takes a different tack: As a culture of self-indulgence has reduced births to well below the rates necessary for sustaining populations, Muslims can simply move in, have babies, and wait. Eighty-one percent of British Muslims see themselves as Muslim first, British second. In another couple of generations, the distinction will be meaningless.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Ivy League students are saner than faculty


The definitive poll of Yale students suggesting Ivy League students are saner than those left-leaning faculty members who seek to indoctrinate them. “Of the 1,346 undergraduates surveyed this November, almost 70 percent support the establishment of an ROTC unit on campus. Nearly 300 respondents who are not in ROTC expressed interested in participating in the program, and almost 100 said they would consider joining ROTC if a unit were established at Yale.”

If you needed any more definitive evidence of the left-leaning J Street’s questionable practices, Ben Birnbaum has the goods. “The Middle East lobby J Street — a tax-exempt 501(c)4 organization — paid tens of thousands of dollars to a consulting firm co-owned by its founder and president, Jeremy Ben-Ami, according to internal documents obtained by The Washington Times.The documents, including invoices sent to J Street, show that Ben-Or Consulting — the Tel Aviv-based public-relations firm Mr. Ben-Ami co-founded in 1998 while living in Israel — charged J Street at least $56,000 over a roughly six-month period… According to nonprofit analysts, Mr. Ben-Ami’s stake [in J Street] creates a conflict of interest that runs afoul of ethical — if not legal — restrictions on acts of ‘self-dealing,’ in which an officer in a tax-exempt organization receives undue benefit from that organization’s transactions. ‘Even if it’s technically legal, it gets very messy when you have these sorts of deals going on because, if you’re going to benefit on the other end of it, be it 100 percent or 5 percent, it raises questions about objectivity and the arms’ length in the transaction,’ said Ken Berger, president of Charity Navigator.”


The definitive explanation from the president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy as to why we need hearings on the rise of Islamic extremism. “The fact is, we can’t go into 2011 without a discernible strategy on how to defeat Islamist radicalization. House hearings on Muslim radicalization would only be the first step toward finally crafting a U.S. offensive against political Islam. Again, only liberty-minded Muslims working from within Muslim communities can counter the narrative of Muslim victimization. But America needs to be unashamed of taking the side of those Muslims who advocate reform against political Islam. In 2011, more Americans need to understand that jihadism is a natural by-product of a political Islam that is incompatible with Western secular democracies based in liberty.”


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Terrorist Watch List: One Tip Now Enough to Put Name in Database, Officials Say

A year after a Nigerian man allegedly tried to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner, officials say they have made it easier to add individuals’ names to a terrorist watch list and improved the government’s ability to thwart an attack in the United States.

The failure to put Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on the watch list last year renewed concerns that the government’s system to screen out potential terrorists was flawed. Even though Abdulmutallab’s father had told U.S. officials of his son’s radicalization in Yemen, government rules dictated that a single-source tip was insufficient to include a person’s name on the watch list.

Since then, senior counterterrorism officials say they have altered their criteria so that a single-source tip, as long as it is deemed credible, can lead to a name being placed on the watch list.

The government’s master watch list is one of roughly a dozen lists, or databases, used by counterterrorism officials. Officials have periodically adjusted the criteria used to maintain it.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

U.S. Urged Allies to Boost Cell Phone Service to Target Terrorists: WikiLeaks

The controversial WikiLeaks document dump offers a rare glimpse into the tactics U.S. officials use to prevent terror attacks here.

Diplomatic cables the group illegally obtained reveal U.S. officials quietly pushed for expanding cell phone service along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

They also show U.S. counterterror operatives were trying to gather information on all foreign students studying in Yemen.

U.S. embassies in these hotspots of radical Islam reported mixed success, the pilfered cables show, at squeezing the reluctant allies to do more to crush Al Qaeda and its followers.

“We have learned since 9/11 that Pakistan responds, periodically, to U.S. pressure on counterterrorism,” Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson wrote in a cable to Washington.

Patterson reported that Pakistan had acquiesced to arresting some Taliban figures and allowing U.S. spy planes inside the country’s airspace.

The Pakistanis also agreed to “install cell phone towers in the tribal areas [to] disrupt cross-border attacks and improve our intelligence capabilities.”

Experts say the National Security Agency exploits expanded cell phone coverage in Afghanistan and Pakistan by listening to Taliban and Al Qaeda calls.

“It’s not to help AT&T reach out and touch you, it’s for the drones to reach out and touch the enemy,” said James Bamford, an intelligence expert and author of “The Shadow Factory.”

The first terror leader killed by a drone-fired missile after 9/11 in Afghanistan honed in on the signal of a satellite phone.

The WikiLeaks files show Secretary of State Clinton also pressed Dutch allies to help erect cell towers on NATO bases in Afghanistan.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


Hijab-Wearing Robber Hits Ottawa Bank

Ottawa police are investigating a series of bank robberies by a man or men wearing a hijab.

The latest incident, on Thursday afternoon, occurred when a man in the headscarf worn by some Muslim women robbed a bank at Pinecrest Mall in the city’s west end.

Const. Katherine Larouche said a man, wearing a dark blue hijab covering his mouth and nose, and a long dark blue robe, handed a Scotiabank teller a note around noon, demanding money.

The suspect fled the bank with an undisclosed amount of cash. No weapon was seen and there were no injuries.

The suspect is described as a dark-skinned male, about five-foot-10, with a slim build, dark eyes and bushy eyebrows. He spoke English with a slight accent.

Since the summer, there have been at least four robberies, each involving a man donning the religious garb. But police were unable to determine whether the same man was involved each time.

“This is not the first time he has hit a bank in Ottawa,” Larouche said. “There is no way of saying for sure, but sometimes descriptions given by witnesses bear some similarity and a hijab is sort of out of the ordinary.”

Anthony Skinner, acting sergeant in the Ottawa police robbery unit, said his team will piece together reports from the other incidents to determine if the same person is responsible for each robbery.

However, Skinner said, the general stature and disguise lead police to believe it is the same man.

“It [wearing a hijab] is not something that has commonly been used,” Skinner said. “To wear traditional or religious garments to commit robberies is not something that we see frequently, but I wouldn’t call it bizarre.”

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Muslim Disguise in Bank Robbery Not a First, Police Say

A bank robbery Thursday in which a man used a Muslim woman’s religious garment as a disguise is not the first such robbery police have seen.

Acting Sgt. Anthony Skinner of the Ottawa police robbery unit estimated Friday that over the past six months, there have been upwards of five similar incidents in the city. Skinner said a meeting will be held early next week to compile and compare information, and to try to determine if the robberies are related.

In the Thursday robbery, Sgt. Mark Myers said the man, who wore a blue robe and a head scarf concealing his mouth and nose, passed a note demanding money to a bank teller at the Scotiabank branch at the Pinecrest Mall at about noon.

The teller handed over an undisclosed amount of cash and the suspect then fled the bank, heading eastbound on foot.

Myers said that since the summer, there have been a handful of other robberies in Ottawa involving male suspects using Muslim women’s religious garments as disguises. He said police are confident the suspect in the latest case is a man because at one point during the robbery he spoke in a masculine voice.

Wahida Valiante, president of the Canadian Islamic Congress, said veiled Muslim women already face intolerance and discrimination and cases like this only make matters worse.

“The act of whoever did that is not very good for the Muslim community,” she said. “Already there is so much hype about Muslims and Islam and terrorism.”

A small minority of Muslim women wear veils that obscure their facial features in public. The garb has been the source of international controversy, with some arguing it can pose security and human rights concerns.

A video surfaced in August that showed women wearing a head-to-toe covering called a niqab were not asked to lift their face veil to be identified by airport security in Montreal. Quebec banned women from wearing face coverings while receiving or providing government services last spring.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Useful Idiots. The Far Left’s Support for Foreign Oppression

A popular but apocryphal legend tells us that Lenin cynically coined the term “useful idiots” to denote Western sympathizers of the Soviet regime. A BBC radio documentary of the same name appeared last summer, outlining the history of such individuals, from Walter Duranty’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Stalinist propaganda in the 1930s to those who defend the authoritarian government of Iran today. Useful idiots are also prevalent in Canada’s far left milieu, acting in support of such diverse causes as anti-democratic Islamism in the Middle East, Communism in Cuba, Bolivarian socialism in Venezuela, and even the re-establishment of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. An overview of the far left scene shows us how each group specializes in the defence of a particular autocracy. Like their Stalinist predecessors, these modern useful idiots are attracted to the ideological prestige and recruiting potential that come with such efforts.

The Canadian far left’s current direction on foreign issues began with the Iraq War in 2003. Socialist Voice, an online magazine, emerged out of a 2003-2004 debate within the Communist League, a Trotskyist sect, over the nature of the Iraq War. The theorists of the League posited that it was an “interimperialist” conflict between the capitalist West and the oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein, but a small group of Canadian cadres wanted to support the Iraqi resistance. The latter group split from the Communist League to form Socialist Voiceand organize within the anti-war movement. Those associated with the publication are particularly prominent in Vancouver, where they are now leaders in the Vancouver StopWar Coalition, which was organized in the lead-up to the Iraq War in late 2002 and early 2003.

The activism of such anti-war organizations has subsequently come to focus on the War in Afghanistan, aided by the decline of the Canadian public’s support of the conflict since it began in 2001. Groups like the Canadian Peace Alliance (CPA) have existed for decades, but over the last ten years their direction has been taken-over by a new generation of far left activists who have woven together the issues of the Afghan and Iraq wars, the Israel-Palestine conflict, and anti-Americanism into the broader peace movement. The CPA also claims the support of more mainstream progressives in Canada, such as trade unionists, liberal Protestants, and environmentalists, despite the unsavoury positions taken by the group’s leaders.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Brigitte Bardot Wants to Run for French Presidency

Brigitte Bardot, the Sixties sex symbol has announced she may run for president in France’s next elections as the incumbent, Nicolas Sarkozy, “took me for an imbecile” over animal rights pledges.

Miss Bardot, once a screen icon now an animal rights campaigner, said she had been asked by the Ecology Alliance party to run for president in 2012.

The party campaigns for animal rights and against the ritual slaughter of livestock by Muslims for halal meat.

The 76-year old former star of And God Created Woman, who retired from acting in the 1970s, wants a law introduced ensuring animals are stunned before their throats are slit in keeping with Islamic teaching.

In a letter to Mr Sarkozy, she told the president that “someone’s voice is needed to defend animals as neither the Right nor the Left give a damn!”.

“Sarkozy took me for an imbecile by making promises he didn’t keep,” she added in a separate interview with the AP news agency.

Nothing in Islamic teaching forbids animals being stunned before slaughter, she said.

Ecology Alliance’s chairman Antoine Waechter added: “We think she is the best person to represent us for the presidency. If she accepts, a final decision will be taken next year.”

Miss Bardot has often been in the spotlight for her controversial views on immigration and homosexuality, receiving multiple convictions for racist and anti-gay remarks.

But she is still admired by many French and a recent photo exhibition of her screen years was a huge success.

She is currently fighting plans by Kyle Newman, a Hollywood director, to make a film of her life. “A film about me?,” she told Europe 1. “Nobody would be able to pull it off.”

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Britain Leads in Israeli Denial Efforts

An Israeli academic who spent five years in London studying the “red-green alliance” between the hard left and international Islamist groups has produced a comprehensive survey of the anti-Israel movement in the UK.

In a report for the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs (JCPA) on the “delegitimisation” movement, published this month, Ehud Rosen has concluded that the boycott campaign against Israel and attempts to arrest Israeli politicians for war crimes are evidence that “Britain has become the main leader of an international effort to deny Israel’s right to exist in its current form”.

Mr Rosen, who now teaches at Bar-Ilan University, found that the alliance has taken advantage of the UK’s political freedoms and legal system to make London its base for its attacks on Israel.

His research into the red-green alliance was carried out while studying for a PhD at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.

He also identified how the anti-Israel movement has entered the mainstream by allying with campaigns against the security crackdown following the events of 9/11 and British involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. This has been aided by alliances with leftist groups such as the Stop the War movement, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Socialist Workers Party and George Galloway’s Respect party.

The study details how a senior group of activists from various branches of the Muslim Brotherhood across the Middle East and North Africa allied with a younger generation of Islamists to form a powerful hub of activity centred on the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB). This “stronghold of exiled Brotherhood leaders and their sons and daughters” is sometimes known in the Arab media as the London Ikhwan (the Arabic name of the Brotherhood).

These figures include Tunisian Islamist leader Rachid al-Ghannouchi and his daughter Soumaya, Anas al-Tikriti (son of Osama al-Tikriti, leader of the Iraqi Islamist party), Azzam Tamimi from Jordan, and the Palestinian Islamist Muhammad Sawalha. The original Egyptian Brotherhood, founded in 1928 by Hasan al-Banna, is represented by Kemal Helbawy, who became the European spokesman for the movement in the mid 1990s.

In a significant move last month, Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt answered a parliamentary question which officially identified the MAB as “the Brotherhood’s representative in the UK”.

The findings of the JCPA report echo those of the Reut Institute, an Israeli think tank which concluded in a report earlier this month that London had become a “Mecca of delegitimisation”.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Danish Attack Plot Suspect in Previous Arrests

One of five men held over a foiled plot to massacre staff at a Danish newspaper had twice been arrested abroad suspected of terror links, the foreign ministry and media said Friday.

Munir Awad, a 29-year-old Swede born in Lebanon, had publicly thanked the Swedish secret service, Saepo, for obtaining his release from Somalia where he was detained three years ago. “We know Saepo brought us home and we are very grateful,” he told a newspaper at the time.

Swedish foreign ministry spokesman Anders Joerle confirmed the previous arrests and that Sweden had intervened on Awad’s behalf. “Awad was arrested in Somalia by Ethiopian troops. That was in 2007. He was arrested in Pakistan in 2009,” foreign ministry spokesman Anders Joerle told AFP.

“The Swedish foreign ministry helped them. I wouldn’t say to free him, but what we did was insist that he either should be tried or set free,” he added.

Awad was one of five men arrested in Denmark and Sweden on Wednesday for hatching what Danish officials called a plan to “kill as many people as possible” in an assault on the Jyllands-Posten daily. The paper published in September 2005 a dozen cartoons of the Muslim prophet that triggered violent and sometimes deadly protests around the world.

A Stockholm court identified one man arrested in the Swedish capital as Sahbi Zalouti, a 37-year-old Swede of Tunisian origin. He was on Thursday remanded in custody for two weeks.

Joerle told AFP Friday that Zalouti had been arrested in Pakistan last year for entering the country illegally but that it remained unclear if he was connected to Awad.

Danish intelligence agency PET has identified the only man based in Denmark as a 26-year-old Iraqi asylum seeker living in the Copenhagen suburb of Greve. The man, identified by media as Abdullah Muhammed Salman, was freed Thursday but is still suspected of being connected to the plot.

The three men arrested in another suburb of Copenhagen were all based in Sweden and had driven to the Danish capital overnight Tuesday. They have been remanded in custody for four weeks by a Danish court. PET has not provided their names, but media has identified them as Awad, 44-year-old Tunisian Mounir Dhahri and 30-year-old Swede Omar Abdalla Aboelazm.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

David Cameron: Britain on New Year Terror Alert

In his new year message, the Prime Minister says that the security services are facing a daily struggle to stop plots that would “do terrible harm to our people and our economy”. The risk of terrorism has been demonstrated by the arrest this month of nine men accused of plotting a Christmas bombing campaign with targets including the London Stock Exchange and Big Ben, Mr Cameron declares. He also suggests that Britain faces fundamental questions about why young Muslims continue to be drawn into violent extremism. The Islamic community must help address how their minds are “poisoned”, he says. Mr Cameron’s stark message comes amid a prolonged row between Coalition ministers over anti-terrorism laws, with the Liberal Democrats pressing for some of Labour’s contentious security measures to be watered down. Mr Cameron says: “For many years now, we have been aware of the threat we face from international terrorism. Recent arrests show that that threat is still very much with us. And it is as serious today as it ever has been.”

Earlier this week, City of Westminster magistrates’ court heard that nine alleged terrorists — British men of Bangladeshi origin — had carried out reconnaissance on potential targets in London. The alleged plot was only one among many being monitored, Mr Cameron suggests. “Our police officers, together with the security and intelligence agencies, are working round the clock to foil plots that would do terrible harm to our people and our economy,” he says.

Counter-terrorism work also depends on the public. “Together we will defend our values and way of life and defeat those who threaten them,” he says.

Mr Cameron also raises the issue of British Muslims’ responsibilities to combat extremism, suggesting the country is “allowing” radicalisation to continue.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

France Braces for Annual New Year’s Car Torchings

France will deploy extra police and keep vandalism statistics under wraps on New Year’s Eve to fight what authorities say has become an annual “sweepstakes” of disaffected youths competing to see who can burn the most cars.

Youths in depressed suburbs of French cities have been torching hundreds of vehicles on New Year’s Eve and Bastille Day since the early 1990s. Police say the annual rite has turned competitive, with youths tracking the news in the first days of the new year to see which neighborhood did the most damage.

“I have decided to put an end to the competition, the sweepstakes, and will longer publish the number of burned vehicles,” Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said this week, adding that publishing statistics encouraged vandalism.

Opposition politicians described the move as an attempt by President Nicolas Sarkozy’s conservative government to cover up the violence. “The government tends to eliminate unfavorable indicators. The interior minister has been publishing trumped-up statistics for years, and now Hortefeux is going even further,” Socialist deputy Delphine Batho, a security specialist, told Reuters.

Last year, the Interior Ministry said 1,137 cars had been torched, a 30 percent rise on 2008. French media reported at the time that several thousand cars had been burned.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Geert Wilders Writes Anti-Islam Book

Dutch Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders will publish an anti-Islam book in the first half of 2011, he told the Telegraaf newspaper in an interview on Friday.

“The book is aimed mainly at the US market and focuses on how to combat the spread of Islam on a global level. We can do a lot here in the Netherlands, but we want to send out a strong international signal to the Arab world that a party in the centre of power in this country is fighting back,” Mr Wilders told the paper.

His Freedom Party cherishes “a wide range” of ambitions, he says in the interview. “Our first priority is to launch the International Freedom Alliance, which boils down to a platform against Islam. That will be huge.”


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Rebuilding the Islamo-Christian Civilization in Spain

Spain is trying to fix things. Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has been working with the Saudis on the Alliance of Civilizations, some of which is based on the Iranian sponsorship of the Iranian Dialogue of Civilizations.

Mansur Escudero, a Spanish a converted Muslim is leading a movement that is pushing for the right of Muslims to pray at the Cordoba Mosque Cathedral. Some Muslims were arrested when trying to pray. The fair Spanish judge said. “It doesn’t act to demerit or discredit the Catholic religion, but rather in favor of joint use.”“. One of the results of a week-long meeting was to forge “Muslims and European Values,” jointly sponsored by various Christian and Muslim groups like the Brusells based European Council of Moroccan Ulemas and the Barcelona based Union of Islamic Cultural Centers. The Morinoes were Jewish coverts who hid their faith and pretended to be Christians. The Moriscoes were Muslims who tried to save their lives by acting like Christians. It is historical fact that some Moriscos and many Arabs escaped to the New World with Columbus. The Milinguins were Moriscos, and Abraham Lincoln’s mother was an Milinguen. The Panzone brothers were Syrian Arabs who captained two of the ships of Columbus. The Spanish Inquisition targeted both the Moriscos and the Morinos. The Moriscos were under threat of exile in 1502 and ultimately expelled from Spain by King Philip III in 1609. Muslim leaders seeking reconciliation and burying the past. They have asked Spain for token restitution and righting the wrong by allowing Spanish citizenship to the Muslim descendants of the Moriscos as an “apology and acknowledgement of mistakes”.

Muslim Spain was the heart of tolerance and inter-faith acceptance from 711 to 1492. For five centuries this was lost in the aftermath of the Muslim holocaust in Spain. Today the seeds of that tolerance are once again germinating and the dividends are beyond imagination. Spain is turning out to be cone of the most tolerant countries with respect to Spain. During the 15th century’s Spanish Inquisition Muslims and Jews were all expelled from Spain. The Spaniards are now taking great pains to make amends. This augurs well for the Christian Muslim relations in general and Spanish-Muslim relations in particular. Using Saudi money, the current Socialists Government of Spain is rebuilding “It doesn’t act to demerit or discredit the Catholic religion, but rather in favor of joint use.”


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Choked With Rubbish: Residents’ Fury After Snow and Festive Season Delay Council Bin Collections by a Month

Residents have been left stunned after an obscene rubbish mountain was left in their streets over the Christmas period. Areas of Exeter, Devon, have been swamped by piles of black bags left out which have gone uncollected by the authorities. Exeter City Council has been blasted for not starting up collections as soon as the thaw began and failing to let people know when rubbish would be taken away.

Caroline Lee, of St James, said: ‘I am afraid to let my children walk around some streets here because it is so disgusting.

‘The students put out their rubbish before leaving for Christmas and the collection was cancelled so it has been there for nearly a month.’

Rats and seagulls have attacked the bags and there is rubbish strewn around the streets.

‘I have called the council but no one could tell me when it was going to be cleared. It is an absolute disgrace — it’s like living in a Third World country.’


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Harrow Councillors Declare Hospitality Treats

IRAN’S state broadcaster paid a Harrow councillor to give a speech — one of several gifts and hospitality treats declared by the borough’s elected representatives for 2010.

To avoid accusations of cronyism, all members of Harrow Council have to record all the presents or treats in kind they receive although only seven councillors actually entered anything on the publicly accessible register.

Councillor Kairul Kareema Marikar (Labour) declared on November 15 a £70 payment given to her by the London bureau of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting for a presentation she gave on ‘Muslim women in Europe’.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Knighted, Man Who Sold Out Cadbury: Tycoon Behind U.S. Takeover Also Masterminded Huge Rise in Gas Bills

The business tycoon who oversaw the controversial sale of Cadbury to the Americans and masterminded a big hike in gas bills is awarded a knighthood today.

City veteran Roger Carr has been listed in the New Year’s Honours for services to industry, despite his involvement in the sale of the much-loved British chocolate maker to U.S. food giant Kraft earlier this year.

In another surprise, the honours committee has disregarded this year’s problems at British Airways to knight chairman Martin Broughton.

The decision to honour Sir Roger was condemned by some campaigners last night.

As chairman of Cadbury he oversaw the £11billion sale, which led to widespread protests amplified by the planned closure of a factory near Bristol next year.

Jennie Formby, of the Unite union, said people would be ‘surprised and disappointed’ by the honour.

She added: ‘Under his leadership he allowed this iconic and British company to be taken over by Kraft, a highly leveraged company that has already cut hundreds of jobs since taking over in February and which will undoubtedly be looking for further cuts to help lay down their huge debts.’

Sir Roger, 64, is also chairman of energy giant Centrica, the parent company of British Gas, which raised gas prices to its millions of customers by 7 per cent last month.

British Gas was accused of profiteering after unveiling a 98 per cent increase in profits for the first half of this year. The industry regulator Ofgem has now started an inquiry into energy prices.

The Cabinet Office last night said honours reflected contributions to public life over a long period.

Asked about the controversy surrounding Sir Roger’s knighthood, a spokesman said: ‘What he has done in his career, we are not here to comment on. He is a major figure in the business world.’


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Warning to the US: Don’t Play by Islamic Rules

by Douglas Murray

What was your first reaction back in May when you heard of plans to build a mega-mosque near the site of the Twin Towers in New York? Did you assume it was a tasteless joke? Did your jaw drop? Or did you think: “What a good idea. No better place.” My bet would be that most readers (including self-described liberal readers) had a touch more of the former reaction than the latter. Some people even said so at the time. A number of families of 9/11 victims spoke out against the building and for a few weeks the idea of a 13-storey mosque complex beside the World Trade Centre craters, due to cost £68 million yet with no known financial backer, seemed a dead duck.

So how was it that within a few months many of those same people, most notably the most loudly self-declared liberals, were not merely advocating the building of that same mosque but in many cases seemed eager to build it themselves, finally depicting its construction as the sine qua non of America’s survival? The distance between first and second instincts is always illuminating. But this one turns out to be more than usually so. Public debates in America tend to happen rougher, faster and more ferociously than they do in most of Europe. And so it was that a heated debate over one hot summer transformed a planning dispute into something far larger and more significant.

It was at the beginning of August that the Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg stood with the Statue of Liberty in the background to make a major announcement. The planning regulations surrounding the former Burlington Coat Factory on 45-51 Park Place, had already met opposition at the community board advisory level. National polls suggested that a majority of Americans were opposed to the building of what was then called Cordoba House, a couple of blocks from Ground Zero. But Bloomberg thought differently. Surrounded by the requisite collective of religiously-attired figures, Bloomberg declared that restrictive planning laws of New York would not be allowed to stand in the way of the planned mosque. The debate was not about a planning application any longer. It was about something more, he declared. It was about America.

In his often teary-eyed speech, Bloomberg exercised the now decade-long tendency to believe that al-Qaeda meant whatever you want them to have meant when they destroyed the Twin Towers. Bloomberg declared: “Three thousand people were killed because some murderous fanatics didn’t want us to enjoy the freedom to profess our own faiths, to speak our own minds, to follow our own dreams and to live our own lives.” The issue, he said, was “as important a test of the separation of church and state as we may see in our lifetime”. And it wasn’t a test he intended to fail. Expressing his support for the construction of the mosque, he said: “The community centre and mosque will add to the life and vitality of the neighbourhood and the entire city.”

President Barack Obama appeared to enter the debate on Bloomberg’s side when he raised the matter at a Muslim iftar (post-fast) dinner at the White House. “This is America,” he confirmed indignantly. The next day, he changed tack in the face of a popular uproar, and claimed that he had not in fact made the statement he appeared to have made, but had instead carefully avoided making any statements about the wisdom of building anything anywhere.

Despite Obama’s phantom U-turn, by the end of the summer the liberal consensus appeared to be with Bloomberg. After further negative opinion polls, Bloomberg declared that those opposed to the mosque “ought to be ashamed of themselves”, adding: “To cave to popular sentiment would be to hand a victory to the terrorists.” Al-Qaeda had attacked the World Trade Centre and as a result it was now vital that America reply by building a mosque.

Other politicians were not as distrustful as Bloomberg was of popular sentiment. In mid-August, Newt Gingrich, the former House Speaker, said on air: “Nazis don’t have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust museum in Washington…We would never accept the Japanese putting up a site next to Pearl Harbour.” Gingrich’s intervention allowed mainstream politicians respectfully to oppose the construction. But by then another element of the debate had emerged. It was one which points to perhaps the largest difference between the European and American debate on this issue.

If a mosque were to be built alongside a scene of an Islamist atrocity in Britain or mainland Europe, there would certainly be opposition to it. But in many countries, including Britain, it would lack a politically respectable figurehead. And with or without one, it would be inevitable that those most opposed to such a construction would be a very particular type of person. No political or civic leader would suggest or endorse a popular demonstration for a single reason: the only people certain to turn up would be skinheads. These would put other people off and so the opposition would be isolated and disgraced.

But since America is not as blackmailed by history as Europe, popular sentiment is still trusted. And so ordinary non-racist, family-friendly Americans started to turn out to express opposition to the mosque. Over the summer, this movement became organised. Most who rallied in opposition to the mosque, like their opponents, were decent Americans who resented the construction of a mosque so close to Ground Zero. But they reminded the American Left of their newest and dearest enemies: the Tea Party. The New York Times, among other organs of liberal opinion, repeatedly depicted the imam of the mosque and his wife in an entirely uncritical, glowingly interfaith, light. But the opponents of the mosque were not granted that liberty. They were written off as deeply un-nuanced, knuckle-dragging types — opposed to Islam, opposed to Muslims and as a result, it was repeatedly claimed, distinctly un-American. Opposition to the mosque, the liberal press insisted, was not patriotic but was instead actually anti-American.

On the anniversary of 9/11, a mass rally was held not far from the site of the proposed centre. The Dutch politician Geert Wilders was among those who addressed the crowd. The liberal media either ignored the event or demonised it.

In October, the debate reached one of its nastiest points with an over-booked and badly-chaired studio discussion-cum-slanging-match on ABC. Daisy Khan, the wife of the imam of the proposed mosque, Feisal Abdul Rauf, was one of those who appeared on Christiane Amanpour’s panel. The anti-building side were repeatedly defamed. Robert Spencer of the Jihad Watch blog was accused by one of the other guests of being in league with neo-Nazis and was not allowed to respond. On both sides, people who had lost family-members on 9/11 slugged it out. The effect was bitter. At one point, Daisy Khan claimed that her opponents were throwing her “into the arms of al-Qaeda”. The author and former Dutch politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali came on via video-link. “What are you complaining about?” she asked. “You are sitting here at ABC TV. You’ve got a great job. You have freedom. Nobody is throwing you anywhere. Your rights are protected. I think that it’s your perception of being a victim.” Khan glared at her: “I am not a victim, Ayaan, stop calling me that. You’re the one running around with a bodyguard.” The studio audience greeted Khan’s taunt with laughter, applause and cheers. They almost drowned out a single man in the front row shouting at Khan: “And why do you think that is?”

But Khan was savvy. She turned it around. It was she and her husband who were under threat. It was they who had received death threats. Rather than Hirsi Ali being at risk from the same Muslim fundamentalists who had murdered her film-making partner Theo van Gogh in 2004, it was Daisy Khan and Imam Rauf who were at risk from the dreaded American public..

She was playing into a ready new media narrative. Just weeks earlier, Time magazine had run a cover, asking: “Is America Islamophobic? Does America have a Muslim problem?” So it came as no surprise that Khan was able to conclude her performance, and the whole programme, by positioning herself at the centre of the political spectrum as well as the storm. Asked whether she and her husband, having seen the strength of peoples’ opinions, would consider moving what was now called the Park 51 Community Centre, she was clear: “No. I think that American values have to prevail. I think I’m now fighting for American values.” Much of the studio audience applauded.

In the space of a very few weeks, the herd of inquiring minds had moved from amazement that Khan and her husband could have such a tasteless idea as to construct a Muslim mega-centre near Ground Zero to full-on backing of the idea. And thanks to popular outrage and civil protests, it was now no longer Islam but America that was under the spotlight. Soon, it was not Islam but America that was at fault and needed to be investigated. By the end of the year, the New York Times had run a grand total of 15 uncritical puff-pieces extolling Khan and her husband. None questioned Imam Rauf’s questionable connections with extremist ideologies and regimes, nor his refusal to condemn the terrorist group Hamas.

This mattered because America had, in a remarkably brief period of time, fallen for the twin European errors of our time. First, it had fallen into Europe’s relativistic error of confusing victim and aggressor. The provocative act of placing an Islamic mega-centre near Ground Zero had been turned around. It was not the aggressor but the offended who were showing intolerance and bigotry. Offender had become offended.

Those who fell for this did so because they had also fallen for the second great European lie. Which is that for free and democratic societies the answer to radical Islam is another form of Islam. It makes 9/11 probably the single most successful act of Islamic proselytism since the death of Muhammad. It ensures that, whatever the problem, the answer is Islam. If people fly planes into towers, then that is bad Islam. The response must be to build Islamic structures to counter bad Islam. The response to “bad” Islam must be the pushing, promotion and support of “good” Islam.

It is this belief that has been the guiding force for governments in Britain and across the continent for the last decade. And there are obvious reasons why it has political appeal. It differentiates between the moderates and a minority of active extremists. And it suggests an immediate and practical solution. Hundreds of millions of pounds have been spent in Britain pursuing it. And it has only one major flaw: it is built on a lie. The answer to radical Islam in Western democracies cannot be to start extolling or transforming an only very recently imported religion whose history sadly suggests the severe difficulties of reform. Rather, the task of Western democracies must be to shore up our own societal defences — our own culture, our own values.

Instead, European governments are searching for a moderate Islam. The result is akin to the error of the man at closing time in the pub who sees two people quarrelling, inserts himself into the middle of their argument and finds himself the victim of their quarrel. It took Britain some time to throw itself between the combatants of Islam, but America managed it over the course of a summer. It had inserted itself in between the quarrelling parties and staked its own credibility, its own legitimacy and its own future on a “good” Islam being swiftly invented and just as swiftly triumphant.

As the issue of Manhattan mosque-building reached its most fevered heights, I found myself debating the subject in the heart of liberal New York — at New York University. Ayaan Hirsi Ali and I were in the city to debate the motion “Islam is a religion of peace”. Against us, on the proposition side were two exemplars of the moderate Muslim government game. First, an attractive and pleasant young American Muslim called Zeba Khan. And second, a former Islamist who is now paid by the British government to be a self-styled “reformer”, Maajid Nawaz.

More interesting than their appearance was who would not show. Not a single cleric. Not an imam. Not a mufti in sight. And not for want of invitations, but rather because not one Muslim religious leader would take up the invitation to debate against Hirsi Ali and myself…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

United Against a Common Enemy

The “Assises Contre L’Islamisation de L’Europe”, a congress against the spread of Islam in Europe recently held in Paris, provided rightwing extremists and opponents of Islam with a welcome forum to issue new tirades of hatred against Muslim immigrants. Bernhard Schmid reports

There is nothing better than a common enemy to foment associations between people who would otherwise have little in common. What else would have brought together a feminist, representatives of the Kabyle community — Berber from North Africa who attach great importance to being considered as separate from the Arabs — rightwing soccer hooligans from the club Paris Saint-Germain and a neo-fascist presidential candidate?

A common enemy produces unexpected rapprochement. The finer points are clear-cut: The Muslims are the baddies, there are swarms of them, they are occupying Europe, taking jobs away from indigenous people, they are criminals etc.

It is not every day you see the above-mentioned individuals and groups sitting side by side as they did on this particular Saturday in the 12th district of Paris. Some 1,000 people from half of Europe, as well as guest speakers from Russia and the US attended the “Assises Contre L’Islamisation de L’Europe”, a conference that lasted for one day.

Rightwing VIPs

Catering for the event — ham sandwiches and red wine — was provided by the extreme rightwing association Solidarité des Français (SDF). This group, part of the neo-fascist organisation Bloc identitaire, has caused a stir in recent years with its campaigns to feed the poor — offering “pork soup” to the homeless in Paris during the winter made it impossible for both Muslims and Jews to partake of the meal.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Wilders Writes Anti-Islam Book for American Market

PVV leader Geert Wilders is writing a book about how to combat Islam, aimed mainly at the American market, he told the Telegraaf in an interview on Friday.

‘We can do a lot in the Netherlands but we want to send out a strong international signal to the Arabic world that a party with a lot to say is fighting back,’ Wilders told the paper.

Wilders said he has many international ambitions and hopes to get his International Freedom Alliance up and running. He also expects the PVV to win between 10 and 15 seats in the 75-seat senate.

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


Serbia: Mentors Assist Roma Childern Integrate in Schools

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, DECEMBER 28 — Representative of the Serbian Ministry of Education signed on Tuesday agreements with 28 municipal mentors, who will assist the Ministry in the activities which will be carried out with the aim of ensuring better integration of Roma children into the educational system in 58 poorest municipalities in Serbia. Municipal mentors, who have been engaged as part of the project on educational integration of the Roma, will work on increasing the effectiveness of schooling for Roma children and assisting the drafting and implementation of local actions plans for the Roma.

When it comes to education, the biggest problem the Roma are facing is the fact that few of them enroll in schools at all, and of those who do enroll, few ever graduate, According to the data by the Ministry of Education, only 10 to 20 percent of Roma children enroll in schools, and some of those who do enroll are likely to drop out after a few months, while the majority of Roma students never get through to the fifth grade.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt: Rector Sentenced for Turning Away Teacher in a Burqa

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, DECEMBER 28 — The rector of the Cairo University, Hossan Kamel, has been fired and sentenced to three months in prison for having stopped a teacher wearing a burqa from entering the campus, according to sources within the judiciary.

The teacher had taken the Cairo University (the most prestigious university in the country) rector to court for having refused to apply a sentence handed down by the Administrative Court which authorised teachers and students to go onto university campuses wearing burqas.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Explosion Kills Seven Outside Egyptian Church

An explosion outside a church in the north Egyptian city of Alexandria has killed seven people and injured 24, the interior ministry says.

The blast, apparently caused by a car bomb, hit people as they left a new year’s service at the al-Qidiseen church shortly after midnight.

Afterwards, angry worshippers reportedly threw stones at the police and targeted a nearby mosque.

Sectarian tensions have recently been on the rise in Egypt.

The mayor of Alexandria, Gen Adel Labib, said on Egyptian TV that there had been threats of attacks on churches, though he tried to play down any possible sectarian motive for Saturday’s bombing.

Following the blast, witnesses said Christians were chanting: “We sacrifice our souls and blood for the Cross.”

Protesters went into a mosque, throwing books out onto the street, the Associated Press news agency reported.

There was a burnt-out car in front of the church, witnesses said. Officials said they were still investigating whether the car had been rigged with explosives.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Delegitimizing the Jewish State

In a move that caught the Israeli government and the Jewish world by complete surprise, on October 21, 2010, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared the Tomb of the Hebrew Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem “an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territories,” admonishing the Israeli decision to add these biblical shrines to the list of Jewish historical and archaeological sites as “a violation of international law.”[1]

What is less known, however, is that the driving force behind “the attempt to detach the Nation of Israel from its heritage” (to use Israeli prime minister Netanyahu’s words)[2] was the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which pressured UNESCO to issue the declaration and drafted its initial version.[3] U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has recently described the OIC as “a strategic and important partner of the U.N.”[4] In fact, it has been the OIC that has successfully exploited its marked preponderance at the U.N.—where it constitutes the largest single voting bloc—to turn the world organization and its specialized agencies into effective tools in the attempt to achieve its goals, two of which are to bring about Israel’s eventual demise and to “galvanize the umma [Islamic world] into a unified body.”[5]

The OIC’s Israel Obsession

Established in September 1969 as the “collective voice of the Muslim world,” the OIC has evolved into the second largest intergovernmental organization after the U.N., bringing together fifty-six Muslim and other states, as well as the Palestinian Authority.[6] Though boasting a global range of objectives from the “promotion of tolerance and moderation, modernization, [and] extensive reforms in all spheres of activities,” to the cultivation of “good governance and promotion of human rights in the Muslim world,”[7] this body has constantly and disproportionately focused on Israel and its supposed misdeeds. It was established in response to an attempt by a deranged Australian to set fire to the al-Aqsa mosque, which was duly blamed on “the military occupation by Israel of Al-Quds—the Holy City of Jerusalem.”[8] The “State of Palestine” (i.e., the then-five-year-old Palestine Liberation Organization or PLO, established as a tool for promoting the expansionist ambitions of Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser) was among the OIC’s original twenty-five founding members, and the pledge of “full support to the Palestinian people for the restitution of their rights, which were usurped”[9]—the standard Arab euphemism for Israel’s destruction—has become a central plank of the organization’s policy, reiterated in countless decisions and resolutions on issues that have nothing to do with questions concerning the Palestinians.[10]


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Caroline Glick: Hizbullah and the Information War

On January 15 the UN’s Special Tribunal for Lebanon is scheduled to issue indictments against a number of Hizbullah operatives for the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005. All of Lebanon and much of the region is waiting in suspense that grows with each passing day.

The news that Hizbullah would be fingered by the prosecutors was first made public in July. Since then, Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah has threatened repeatedly to set fire to Lebanon and perhaps Israel if Daniel Bellemare, the chief prosecutor dares to go forward. Given Hizbullah’s track record of war, murder and intimidation, no one doubts that the Iranian-proxy force will keep its promise if it comes to that…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

Iraq: Christians Are Casualties of Baghdad Bomb Attacks

One week after an Islamic extremist group vowed to kill Christians in Iraq, a cluster of 10 bomb attacks rattled Baghdad on Thursday night and sent additional tremors of fear through the country’s already shaken Christian minority.

Two people were killed and 20 wounded, all of them Christians, according to the Ministry of the Interior. The bombs were placed near the homes of at least 14 Christian families around the city, and four bombs were defused before they could explode.

Christians have been flooding out of the country since the siege of Our Lady of Salvation, a Syrian Catholic church, in October that left nearly 60 people dead, including two priests. Many Muslim clerics and worshipers offered support to Christians after the siege. The Islamic State of Iraq, an extremist group affiliated with Al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack, and on Dec. 22 it promised more on its Web site.

For some Christians here, the latest attacks represented the last straw.

“We will love Iraq forever, but we have to leave it immediately to survive,” said Noor Isam, 30. “I would ask the government, ‘Where is the promised security for Christians?’ “

Even before the coordinated assault, Baghdad had come to resemble a battle zone for Christians, who have come increasingly under attack since the American-led invasion in 2003. Before Christmas, several churches fortified their buildings with blast walls and razor wire, and many canceled or curtailed Christmas observances. The day passed without an attack.

At the Sacred Church of Jesus, a Chaldean Catholic church, the Rev. Meyassr al-Qaspotros said Thursday night that he would urge followers not to flee after the latest attacks.

“I just wonder, when does this ignorance end?” he said in an interview. “When does this bigotry end? When is there an end to weak-minded people not treating or thinking of other people as a human?”


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Quiet End to Turkey’s College Headscarf Ban

Every morning Yasemin Derbaz puts on the piece of cloth that marks her out as an observant Muslim.

Millions of other Turkish women do the same: it is estimated that at least 60% cover their heads.

Now, for the first time, almost all universities across Turkey have abandoned the official prohibition on women wearing headscarves.

The ban ended when the government issued a statement in September saying it would support any student expelled or disciplined for covering her head.

The Islamic headscarf has become a divisive symbol, which bars women from jobs and education, and came close to bringing down a government two years ago.

Yasemin can now go to her architecture classes at Yildiz Technical University for the first time without wearing a large hat or a wig to cover her hair.

“I feel happy that I don’t have to stop in a mosque on the way and change into my wig,” she said.

The exact status of the headscarf ban is mired in confusion.

There is no law against wearing one. Nor does the ban originate with modern Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, although he did discourage women from covering their heads, and passed a law barring men from wearing traditional Ottoman clothing.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Reforming Voices in the Middle East

AMID calls for jihad emanating from websites and television channels in the Muslim world, a counterpoint has emerged: fierce Arab self-criticism and openness to the West.

Although small in number compared with fundamentalists in the media, Muslim liberals have been able to expose the Arab world to a totally different, often shocking, way of seeing itself.

“Why do the Arabs boast of their courage when in fact we are the most cowardly people on earth?” Iraqi researcher Mohammed al-Khodari said last month on al-Jazeera TV, the leading news channel in the Middle East. “Of all peoples, Arabs are most likely to resign themselves to injustice, oppression and persecution.”

Referring to a photograph of a suicide bomber, he said: “This backward man, this low-life, who is the product of the Arab peoples, blew himself up in Iraq, at a [church] mass, among people who were worshipping God. His family and his people are proud of him.”

Lebanese journalist Ziyad Noujeim, interviewed on Lebanese station OTV in October, said the distortions in Arab society began with denial. “We refuse to admit there is a problem between Christianity and Islam. We say ‘they live in brotherhood’ but every 10 years they fight one another and leave behind 25,000 casualties. We say that everything is fine with the Lebanese family but not a single man is with his own wife. You cannot tell which man is married to which woman. We refuse to say ‘Israel’, saying instead ‘occupied Palestine’.

“Our entire culture is based on two things and two things alone: lies and denial. We blame everything on Israel. If one day Israel is eliminated, what would we do?”

A damning analysis was voiced by a prominent writer in Bahrain, Dihyaa al-Musawi, in an interview posted on YouTube. “We have a gallows culture in which we try to hang a thinker, a poet, every day. We are against creativity and civilisation. We have not developed to the point of admitting defeat, cultural defeat. In the past we had a civilisation but we are regressing. We export violence. We terrorise whole countries. Our pulpits have become booby traps for the public by generating hatred towards ‘the other’.”

Sheik Abd al-Hamid al-Ansari, former dean of Islamic law at Qatar University, attributes the backwardness of the modern Arab world to the disappearance of critical thinking and the resultant absence of accountability.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

The Clash of Civilizations — and What Turkey is Doing About it

The more Muslim-minded Turks are not only becoming more influential in their own country. They are also claiming a leading role in the affairs of their ‘civilization’

In his famous book, “Imagined Communities,” political scientist Benedict Anderson argued that modern nations emerged as collective bodies simply when people imagined them — thanks to modern technology and the propaganda ability it gave the nation-state.

In a way, the late Samuel P. Huntington did something similar by introducing the concept of “civilization” to our imagination. His 1996 book, “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order,” became arguably the most influential book in the post-Cold War era. Since then, countless numbers of minds have opposed Huntington’s thesis, but many more have started to imagine themselves as members of a distinct civilization — one that can be at odds with others.

This has been especially true for the two specific civilizations between which Huntington saw the greatest potential for a clash: the West and the Islamic world. In fact, neither of the two is monolithic by any definition. Opposition to American foreign policy is a common European sentiment, and the “Islamic countries” hardly make up a unified front. As the WikiLeaks cables exposed, even Islamist regimes such as Iran and Saudi Arabia are quite polarized.


[ DF — When is Turkey going to apologise for the Armenian genocide. The centuries long attacks against Europe and its colonisation of Eastern Europe ? ]

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


New Year: Xenophobes Threaten to Burn the Koran on Red Square

Alarm over racist activities in Russia. Even groups against illegal immigration, call for calm: there may be casualties among innocent people.

Moscow (AsiaNews) — The alarm continues over xenophobic and anti-Islamic actions in Moscow after the riots of December 11 and 15 which saw Nationalist hooligans clash with immigrant groups from the Caucasus.

Rumors circulating on websites and Russian media speak of the idea of some radical groups to burn the Koran in Red Square New Year’s Eve. Already in mid-December a nationalist leader Alexander Belov, had warned that the sacred book of Muslims would be torched on New Year’s Eve in the immense square beneath the walls of the Kremlin, the traditional gathering place to usher in the New Year. Political and religious authorities are on high alert, while the same organizations that fight against illegal immigration have called on rioters to desist. The “Movement against illegal immigration” intervened on the issue Dec. 29 in a statement warning that any public burning of the Koran could risk causing “untold suffering to innocent people”.

At the same time, many are convinced that the xenophobic threats for the New Year will keep immigrant communities especially those from the North Caucasus, the real target of the neo-Nazi organizations and radical groups, away from Red Square.

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

South Asia

Italian Soldier Killed in Afghanistan

Italy’s 13th death this year

(ANSA) — Rome, December 31 — An Italian soldier was killed in Afghanistan on Friday, bringing to 35 Italy’s death toll since it began its Afghan mission in 2004.

Corporal Major Matteo Miotto was shot by a sniper while inside an advance base in the western Afghan district of Gulistan, in an area called Box Tripoli which Italy took over from US forces earlier this year.

Miotto, 24, an Alpine regiment member from the Veneto town of Thiene, had been in Afghanistan since July.

Foreign Minister Franco Frattini reacted to Miotto’s death by reiterating that staying the course in Afghanistan is the best way to honour Italian casualties.

“The best way to honour the memory of the young men and women who have paid with their lives for our country’s commitment to defeat terrorism is to hold steady the course and continue, with the professionalism and determination everyone acknowledges our soldiers show, in the effort to favour as soon as possible the process of transition and ‘Afghanisation’ which will enable us to hand over to the Afghan police and army the control of their country,” Frattini said.

Expressing his condolences to Miotto’s relatives, the foreign minister stressed that their grief was obviously greater at a time of holiday celebrations “which for them have been turned into tragic desperation”.

US Commander David Petraeus recently praised the “notable success” Italian forces have had since assuming command in Gulistan.

The death, Italy’s 13th this year, was the first since four soldiers were killed in October in an attack that sparked renewed calls from some leftwing politicians for an immediate withdrawal.

The government rejected those calls and said Italy would stay the course alongside its NATO allies.

Foreign Minister Franco Frattini has said Italy will gradually start pulling its troops out of Afghanistan next spring, aiming to complete the withdrawal in 2014.

The pull-out, he said, will be carried out “at the right time and will be totally coordinated with our allies”.

The October 9 attack also spurred a debate on arming Italy’s warplanes with bombs, like its NATO allies.

But Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa eventually announced at last month’s NATO summit in Lisbon the planes would not be fitted with missiles in the face of opposition in Italy and Afghanistan which highlighted fears for the safety of civilians.

A poll last year showed a majority of Italians now thought the Italian mission had turned from a peacekeeping one into a war operation, overstepping the terms of its parliamentary mandate.

Italian ministers have performed a balancing act in insisting that troops are only used in support of NATO missions.

More Italian troops are being subjected to insurgent attacks as militants are driven out of southern Afghanistan.

Italy committed to United States President Barack Obama’s surge and is set to push its troop strength up from 3,400 to 4,000 shortly.

Many of them will be military trainers.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Napolitano Visit Aimed at Beefing Up Afghan Border Security, Customs

During an unannounced New Year’s Eve visit to Afghanistan, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano traveled to the country’s mountainous border region near Pakistan to see first-hand her department’s efforts in the war effort there.

“Seeing is worth a thousand words,” Napolitano said after the tour, to which Fox News was granted exclusive access. “This all involves safety and security in this part of the world. And that is something that has direct connection as well to the United States.”

She described her department’s role in war-torn Afghanistan as a “complement” to the military operations there.

Her agency has about two dozen officials in Afghanistan, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, Customs and Border Protection officers, and Border Patrol agents. Many are training Afghan security forces to manage their country’s borders.

Although the Afghan government receives most of its money from foreign allies, customs fees and tariffs account for more than half of the money Afghanistan generates on its own. Increasing that revenue flow is a top priority for U.S. officials working to stabilize the chaotic country.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Parliament Debates Terrorism Legislation

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Friday called for an effective legislation against terrorism for bringing the terrorists to true justice.

Speaking on the floor of the National Assembly after the speech of Leader of the opposition in the house Ch Nisar, Gilani said that the opposition leader has raised a vital issue if foreign media had reported that in Balochistan or anywhere human right s violations are being carried out and several foreign delegations meeting him had also raised this issue, He said that he wants to take the house into confidence on this matter as people who are nabbed on charges of terrorism are often bailed out due to poor laws and thus restart their nefarious acts. He said that he does not want to accuse the judiciary for the release of terror suspects as we need to make effective laws.

He said thousands of people are killed in acts of terrorism. The Parliament needs to make such legislation that these terrorists are not freed. PM said that foreign media given an impression that Islam is a religion of terror

“Islam is a religion of peace and does not allow violence; it’s a wrong notion being attached to Islam”, the PM asserted.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Pakistan on Strike Against Bill to Amend Blasphemy Law [Video]

A 24-hour strike organised by Sunni Muslim clerics has taken place across Pakistan to protest against possible changes to blasphemy laws.

Rallies were staged in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta after Friday prayers.

The government has distanced itself from a bill to soften the law, which currently carries a mandatory death sentence for anyone who insults Islam.

Human rights groups say the law is often used to persecute religious minorities.

Aleem Maqbool reports from Islamabad.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Violence as Pakistan Strikes Over Blasphemy Law

Violence flared Friday as police and protesters clashed during a mass protest strike that closed businesses across Pakistan over a bid to end the death penalty for blasphemy.

Police said protesters near the home of unpopular President Asif Ali Zardari in the financial hub of Karachi pelted stones as they shouted slogans including “We’ll sacrifice our lives — we’ll save the sanctity of the Prophet”.

Teargas shells were fired to disperse them, while normally busy town centres turned quiet across the Muslim country, AFP reporters said, following a move to amend a law which permits death sentences for those found to have blasphemed.

Conservative religious groups called for a national strike after thousands of Islamists rallied in major cities last week against any change to the law, which rights campaigners say encourages Islamist extremism.

The strike went ahead despite a categorical announcement by deputy information minister Samsam Bokhari on Thursday that the government had no intention of amending the controversial law. AFP reporters said markets were closed on Friday and roads deserted in the otherwise bustling cities of Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Islamabad and its neighbouring garrison town of Rawalpindi. Demonstrators said their goal was to defend the honour of the Prophet Mohammed.

“We will start a civil disobedience movement if the government makes any amendment to the law,” the chairman of influential Muslim grouping the Sunni Ittehad Council, Sahebzada Fazal Karim, told AFP. Former Information Minister Sherry Rehman, from the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), sparked fury when he lodged a private member’s bill seeking to abolish the death penalty for blasphemy. The country had provoked international condemnation after a death sentence was handed to a Christian woman found guilty of defaming the Prophet Mohammed.

Pope Benedict XVI has called for the release of mother-of-five Asia Bibi, who is now in jail pending an appeal.

Samsam Bokhari disassociated the government from the bill to amend the law, saying it was not policy.

“As far as the party is concerned, the law is not being amended, nor does the government intend to bring any change in it,” he said. Protest rallies were held across Pakistan, and in Karachi police fired around a dozen teargas shells to disperse about 100 demonstrators who wanted to walk past Zardari’s house.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Ivory Coast: UK ‘Would Back’ UN Gbagbo Military Action

Britain would back any United Nations-led military action taken to force out incumbent Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo, William Hague has said.

But the UK’s foreign secretary added this did not necessarily mean UK forces would be deployed there any time soon.

The international community has recognised Alassane Ouattara as the winner of the recent presidential vote.

The UK is also no longer recognising Mr Gbagbo’s appointed ambassador to the country, Philippe Djangone-Bi.

West African leaders, under the auspices of the regional body Ecowas, have threatened to send in troops to remove him from power.

Mr Hague told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the UK would, “in principle”, support any move by the UN to authorise such action.

He said: “[The leaders] would be well advised to seek the authority of the United Nations to do that and we would be supportive of that at the UN.”

But he added: “We are a long way here from discussing British forces being deployed.

“We have deployed a military liaison officer to the country to work on various contingencies with the French, but I’m not raising the possibility today of British forces being deployed.”

Mr Hague said Mr Gbagbo must recognise the result of the election and urged him to step down.

UN protection

He said: “Through all possible diplomatic means, we are supporting a resolution of this crisis.”

Mr Ouattara and his cabinet are under the protection of UN soldiers at the Golf Hotel in Abidjan.

He was initially declared the winner of the elections, but his victory was overturned by the Constitutional Council.

Mr Gbagbo says his rival’s victory was illegitimate and both men have been sworn in as president.

Ecowas is currently engaged with Mr Gbagbo in negotiations to resolve the crisis.

The presidents of Benin, Sierra Leone and Cape Verde left without a deal on Wednesday, but are expected to return on 3 January for more talks.

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan, who is also the Ecowas chairman, is due to travel to Benin for talks on Friday with President Boni Yayi about the crisis.

The World Bank has said it has frozen financing for Ivory Coast, and Mr Hague added: “[Mr Gbagbo] will run out of money. His power relies on control of the army.

“He will run out of money in the next few weeks and that means his power will come to an end.

“He should not underestimate the determination of the international community that the will of the people of that country should be recognised.”

The UK’s Foreign Office (FCO) has informed Mr Djangone-Bi of the decision to no longer provide him with official recognition of the post given to him by Mr Gbagbo.

It said it will move to recognise the appointee of Mr Ouattara in the usual manner.

BBC correspondent Mike Woolridge said that Britain’s move was in line with a decision of the EU Council earlier this month to accept the ambassadorial appointments of Mr Ouattara in EU capitals.

Civil war

Meanwhile, UN chief Ban Ki-moon has warned Mr Gbagbo’s supporters not to follow a call to storm the hotel where Mr Ouattara is staying.

A statement from his office said: “Any attack on the Golf Hotel could provoke widespread violence that could reignite civil war.”

The UK foreign secretary says a resolution through diplomatic means is preferable He said that an attack on peacekeepers constituted a crime under international law and its instigators would be held accountable.

The UN has some 9,500 peacekeepers in the country.

Mr Gbagbo has told them to leave, accusing them of interfering in Ivorian affairs, but the UN has refused to do so.

The former colonial power France has renewed a warning to its citizens in Ivory Coast to leave the country.

“Although foreign nationals are not at present threatened, the French authorities renew their advice… to all French who can, in particular families with children, to temporarily leave Ivory Coast,” AFP news agency quotes the French foreign ministry as saying.

An estimated 14,000 French citizens live in the former French colony.

Almost 20,000 people — mostly women and children — have fled Ivory Coast for neighbouring Liberia since the impasse began at the end of November, fearing further unrest.

           — Hat tip: 4symbols[Return to headlines]

Nigeria New Year Revellers Hit by Abuja ‘Bomb’

At least 11 people have been killed in an explosion in a market near a barracks in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, military sources have told the BBC.

Nigeria’s military chief said a bomb had been planted to target people celebrating New Year’s Eve.

The explosion happened in the Mammy market, where people often gather to eat and drink beer.

Air Marshal Oluseyi Petirin blamed “devilish people” but did not name any group or give a possible motive.

He also declined to give any casualty figures.

State TV has said 30 people were killed but this has not been confirmed.

Witnesses have told the BBC they saw body parts lying on the ground and injured people being carried away after the blast.

The area has been sealed off.

Air Marshal Petirin said a bomb had been placed “where people were relaxing and generally being happy because of the New Year which is approaching”.

He urged Nigerians to be vigilant following a recent spate of bomb attacks in a country where they had been almost unknown.

“Do not allow anybody to come and leave a bag, or any kind of object, especially when he is not there,” he told state TV.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


Kidnapped Eritreans: Ex-Hostages Arrested, Given to Embassies

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, DECEMBER 28 — Twenty-seven African immigrants, who in recent days were released by Bedouins in the Sinai Peninsula, who were holding them hostage until ransom was paid, were arrested by Egyptian police because they entered into the country illegally and they were handed over to their respective embassies in Cairo, according to what ANSA has learned from sources in Rafah. The first group, which consists of 8 Eritreans and 7 Ethiopians, was arrested three days ago, while the second group, consisting of 7 Eritreans and 2 Ethiopians, was taken into custody yesterday while they were trying to enter into Israel. Egyptian police have been deployed in the Sinai Peninsula, where hundreds of Eritreans are still in the hands of immigrant traffickers, under orders not to shoot, but to arrest and question the migrants (who are seen as illegal immigrants in Egypt) released after they pay a ransom, in order to try to understand where the Bedouins are located and how they are operating. Egyptian law enforcement officials, explained police sources, are not intervening to free the hostages in respect of the peace treaty with Israel that prevents heavy weapons from entering into the border zone. The Bedouins are reportedly equipped with highly sophisticated weapons bought from Sudan through migrant trafficking. According to sources close to immigrant traffickers, there are about 300 Eritreans still in the hands of predators in the Sinai Peninsula, who are asking for a ransom to be paid in order to liberate them, despite the fact that many of them have already paid huge sums of money to reach the Israeli border. Another 900 migrants of other nationalities have paid the sums of money requested and are waiting to be able to attempt entry into Israel. The Eritreans are reportedly being held hostage by about 10 well-armed traffickers. A sort of vendetta is reportedly at the origin of the Bedouins’ reasons for kidnapping the Eritrean migrants: in September, according to reports, a group of 25 immigrants tried to flee traffickers and a skirmish broke out that left six Eritreans and one Bedouin dead. Since then the conditions of the Eritreans in the custody of the Bedouins have reportedly grown worse and episodes of violence and abuse have erupted.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UK: Kate Middleton’s Friend Cautioned by Police After ‘Joke’ About Shooting Illegal Immigrants

A friend of Kate Middleton was interviewed under caution by police after posting an online message saying she planned to shoot illegal immigrants.

Emma Sayle, 32, was formally questioned by police earlier this month after officers received a complaint about a message on her Facebook account but will face no further action.

Events organiser Miss Sayle is the head of The Sisterhood, an all-female charity group which Miss Middleton joined in 2007.

Miss Sayle caused outrage when she posted a message on the social networking site that read: ‘Just had a two-hour shooting lesson. She will now be using this skill on the top of East London high rises to help with the UK’s illegal immigrant problem.’ A shocked reader alerted police but Miss Sayle, of Wandsworth, South-West London, said the complaint was ‘pathetic’ and ‘created by someone who’s obviously got a grudge’.

Days later Miss Sayle, who runs an ‘upmarket’ swingers’ club, wrote: ‘Just had a call from the old bill demanding I go in as someone has reported me for apparently making racist comments… hahaha… using my new found gun skills to control the UK’s illegal immigrant population is not what I call racist.’.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said today: ‘Officers from Kensington and Chelsea investigated comments allegedly made on the Facebook website after a complaint was made at Chelsea police station on Wednesday December 1st. No arrests were made.

‘On Monday December 20 a woman attended a West London police station by appointment in relation to the investigation and was interviewed under caution. Officers have now liaised with the Crown Prosecution Service who advised no further action.

Just a day after her police interview, Miss Sayle posted a link on her Twitter page to a Right-wing U.S. website entitled ‘Australia says no to Muslims’.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Hate Crimes Up 14 Percent in New York State

Hate crimes across New York state jumped 14 percent in 2009, led by an increase in attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions, state records released yesterday show.

There were 683 hate crimes reported to police authorities across the state in 2009 compared with 599 in 2008, according to a report released by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services.

In New York City, reported hate crimes rose 6 percent, from 259 to 275. The city accounted for 40 percent of all hate crimes in the state last year.

Brooklyn was the borough with the highest number of hate crimes, 92, followed by Manhattan, 70, Queens, 61, The Bronx, 33, and Staten Island, 19.

Nassau County had 82 reported incidents, down from 100 in 2008, Suffolk County had 80 incidents, up from 62, and Westchester County had 23 incidents, up from 16.

One of the most notorious hate crimes in recent years occurred in Suffolk, where Ecuadorean immigrant Marcelo Lucero was beaten and stabbed to death near the Patchogue train station by a slur-shouting mob.

Jeffrey Conroy, one of seven youths connected to the November 2008 attack, was convicted of manslaughter as a hate crime last year and sentenced to 25 years in prison. The others are serving sentences ranging from five to seven years.

The report found that nearly a quarter of all attacks in 2009 were carried out by two or more people. More than 7 percent were carried out by four or more people.

Also, 31 percent of all known offenders were 24 or younger, and 12.2 percent of all known offenders were women.

Most of the hate crimes in the new state records involved assaults or intimidation, 45 percent, or damage and destruction to property, 44 percent. A total of 179 individuals were arrested on hate-crime charges in connection with the incidents.

Anti-Semitic incidents, which made up 37 percent of the reported hate crimes, were up 15 percent in one year, from 219 in 2008 to 251 in 2009.

The report found anti-black crimes, 21 percent of the total, were down slightly from 147 in 2008 to 144 in 2009. Anti-white hate crimes increased from 21 to 29.

Anti-gay hate crimes were up sharply, with those targeting male homosexuals jumping 32 percent, from 62 to 82, and those aimed at lesbians up by more than 200 percent, from eight to 25.

Crimes motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment rose from eight to 11.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Italy: Custody Appeal Against Lesbian Mother Turned Down

Gay relationship no impediment to sharing kids says court

(ANSA) — Palermo, December 29 — A Sicilian court on Wednesday turned down a separated father’s appeal for exclusive custody of his children on the grounds that his ex was living with another woman.

A mother’s homosexual relationship is no impediment to shared custody if it does not have a negative effect on the children, the court in Enna ruled.

The court said the man’s views were “humanly understandable” but there was no basis in law for denying a lesbian custody of her children.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Gay Leftwing Governor Harassed by Door-Knocking Youths

Nichi Vendola hurt leg answering Berlusconi party youngsters

(ANSA) — Bari, December 30 — The gay leftwing governor of a southern Italian region was harassed in his home Wednesday night by youths from Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party and hurt his leg in a fall as he went to answer their repeated door-knocking.

Police said some of the PdL youths had been identified.

Limping into a press conference Thursday, Puglia Governor Nichi Vendola said: “It was a really bad night, nasty”.

The leftist politician, sometimes touted as a possible future leader for Italy’s fractured centre left, said he hoped the youths would “learn the rules of political struggle”.

Vendola received messages of support and sympathy from across the political spectrum.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Al-Qaeda Bomb Manual Published on Internet

The 102-page manual, seen by the Daily Telegraph and available on the internet, explains how to find ingredients from everyday sources and how to mix explosives, including those used in the July 7 bombings and the recent ink cartridge bomb found at East Midlands airport.

It has been endorsed by two leading al-Qaeda strategists and marks an explicit attempt by the terrorist group to encourage followers to launch their own attacks, without training.

MI5 has been increasingly concerned about what Jonathan Evans, the director general, referred to as “determined amateurs” who may radicalise themselves over the internet and learn bomb-making skills without ever coming into touch with al-Qaeda trainers.

Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, an expert in radicalisation at King’s College, London, said the book marked a radical increase in the threat because it was among “the most lengthy and sophisticated manuals of its kind.”

Entitled, “The Explosives Course” it says: “This book is aimed for brothers who have a sufficient understanding of the risks in this — both the actual sensitive task of making explosives and of its security risks…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Human Brain Has Been ‘Shrinking for the Last 20,000 Years’

It’s not something we’d like to admit, but it seems the human race may actually be becoming increasingly dumb.

Man’s brain has been gradually shrinking over the last 20,000 years, according to a new report.

This decrease in size follows two million years during which the human cranium steadily grew in size, and it’s happened all over the world, to both sexes and every race.

‘Over the past 20,000 years, the average volume of the human male brain has decreased from 1,500 cubic centimetres to 1,350 cubic centimetres, losing a chunk the size of a tennis ball,’ Kathleen McAuliffe writes in Discover magazine.

‘The female brain has shrunk by about the same proportion.’

She was reporting on comments made by Dr John Hawks, an anthropologist from the University of Wisconsin, who argues that the fact the size of the human brain is decreasing doesn’t necessarily mean our intelligence is in decline as well.

Some paleontologists agree with this diagnosis, that our brains may have become smaller in size, but increasingly efficient.

But others believe that man has indeed become steadily more stupid as he has evolved.

Several theories have been advanced to explain the mystery of the shrinking brain. One is that big heads were necessary to survive Upper Paleolithic life, which involved cold, outdoor activities.

A second theory is that skulls developed to cope with a chewy diet of rabbits, reindeer, foxes and horses.

As our food has become easier to eat, so our heads have stopped growing, according to supporters of this theory.

Other experts say that with high infant mortality, only the toughest survived — and the toughest tended to have big heads. Therefore a gradually decreasing infant mortality rate has led to a proportionate decrease in the size of our brains.

A recent study conducted by David Geary and Drew Bailey, cognitive scientists at the University of Missouri, explored how cranial size changed as humans adapted to an increasingly complex social environment between 1.9million and 10,000 years ago.

They found that when population density was low, such as during the majority of our evolution, the cranium increased in size. But when a certain area’s population changed from sparse to dense, our cranium size decreased.

They concluded that as increasingly complex societies emerged, the brain grew smaller because people didn’t have to be as smart to stay alive.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Internet Groups Fear UN Could Threaten Cyberspace

Officials from 18 countries held an impromptu, late-night meeting earlier this month at the United Nations office in Geneva, and made a decision that rattled Internet technocrats around the world.

Autocratic governments like China and Iran attended the meeting, as did several democratic ones. Despite protests by Portugal and the United States, they voted to staff a working group on the future of the Internet Governance Forum — an important theatre of discussion on matters of cyberspace — by governments alone.

The seemingly arcane move reverberated through a community of technical experts, academics and civil society groups who felt they had been unfairly excluded.

Fourteen technical organizations that help oversee how cyberspace runs wrote an open letter asking the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development (UNCSTD) to reverse its decision. Meanwhile the Internet Society, an umbrella group that helps manage technical standards online, posted a petition to its website in protest.

“A significant fuss has been kicked up about it,” said Byron Holland, president and CEO of the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, which manages the .ca domain.

Even Google waded into the fray. Vint Cerf, a vice-president at the online behemoth and one of the pioneers of the Internet, added his name to the petition, alongside 2,600 others. He also attacked the UN decision in a Dec. 17 blog post on Google’s website.

“We don’t believe governments should be allowed to grant themselves a monopoly on Internet governance,” Cerf wrote. “The current bottoms-up, open approach works — protecting users from vested interests and enabling rapid innovation. Let’s fight to keep it that way.”


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Man Could Create New Mass Extinction

Mankind’s introduction of invasive species across the globe and destruction of natural habitats threatens to destroy the diversity of species essential to the natural world, researchers claim. The modern biodiversity crisis, a lack of variation in life forms, means Earth could meet a similar fate to the collapse of marine life 378-375 million years ago — and that of the dinosaurs. Although Earth has experienced five major mass extinction events, the environmental crash during this Late Devonian event was unlike any other in the planet’s history.

The actual number of extinctions was not higher than the natural rate of species loss, but very few new species arose leading to an overall loss of life.

Dr Alycia Stigall, a scientist at Ohio University and author of the paper said: “We refer to the Late Devonian as a mass extinction, but it was actually a biodiversity crisis.

“The main mode of speciation that occurs in the geological record is shut down during the Devonian. It just stops in its tracks.” Lisa Boush, programme director in the National Science Foundation (NSF)’s Division of Earth Sciences, which funded the research, said: “This research significantly contributes to our understanding of species invasions from a deep-time perspective.

“The knowledge is critical to determining the cause and extent of mass extinctions through time, especially the five biggest biodiversity crises in the history of life on Earth.

“It provides and important perspective on our current biodiversity crisis.”

The research suggests that the typical method by which new species originate, or vicariance, was absent during this ancient phase of Earth’s history and could be to blame for the mass extinction. Vicariance occurs when a population becomes geographically divided by a natural, long-term event, such as the formation of a mountain range or a new river channel and evolves into a different species.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

The Islamic Tsunami: Israel and America in the Age of Obama

Issuing an impassioned clarion call to the Western world on the litany of existential dangers that radical Islam represents to America’s cherished democratic principles, author David Rubin’s meticulously researched monograph reveals that Islam is in actuality a political ideology predicated on a pernicious dogma, rather than the “religion of peace” that its proponents purport it to be. The Islamic Tsunami: Israel and America in the Age of Obama (Shiloh Israel Press) is an exceptionally well-documented treatise on the gamut of commonalities that are endemic to both Israel and America in terms of religion, politics and culture. Rubin calls on all free peoples, especially Americans, to take serious heed of the escalating dangers that Islam represents in terms of the perpetuation of bellicose actions bent on mass murder or the more insidious and subtle kind of aggression that is manifested by the potential silent incursion of Sharia law into American jurisprudence. He exhorts both Jews and Christians alike to carefully examine the Judeo-Christian value system that has bound them together for centuries and strongly suggests that they create concrete alliances in order to thwart the nefarious agenda of radical Islam; thus preserving “Western civilization” as we know it. Rubin speaks with authority as he explains the Islamic concepts of dhimmitude (slave status for all “non-believers”), how the Koran metes out punitive measures against infidels, and outlines the ultimate goal of Islamic global dominance in the form of a Caliphate. Rubin is neither an alarmist nor is he suffering from paranoia and to his credit he does not posit himself as an abstract theoretician or a think-tank denizen. Having studied the Koran, the Bible, as well as plumbing the depths of resources on American history as it pertains to the views of the founding fathers and more recent events, Rubin’s book is replete with a plethora of highly enlightening quotes from these sources that help to state his case.

As a Brooklyn-born American Orthodox Jew who now lives in Israel, he has first hand experience of the travails of Islamic terrorism as he ruefully recalls his victimization and that of his three-year old son, Ruby. In December of 2001, while driving home to Shiloh from Jerusalem, Rubin and his son were both injured in a terrorist attack carried out by Islamic militants. When Rubin arrived at the hospital he was told that he was “the hospital’s 1000th victim of terrorism” and recalls that he was later told by a surgeon that “the bullet which entered the head and traveled through the neck of my three-year old boy missed his brain stem by one millimeter.” Determined to assist others facing similar crises, Rubin founded the Shiloh Israel Children’s Fund, an organization dedicated to relieving the trauma suffered by child victims of terrorism.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]