Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110121

Financial Crisis
»Federal Government Teaching Farmers to Participate in ‘Carbon Markets’ That Don’t Exist Yet
»Plans Being Drawn Up to Let States Declare Bankruptcy
»Portugal: Pay Cuts for Civil Servants Take Effect
»Spain: Catalonia Cuts 4 Bln to Avoid Financial Collapse
»‘Squeezed Middle’ Faces £2,800 Tax Hit
»Syria: Central Bank Encourages Investments
»UK: Banking Inquiry ‘Considering’ Sector Break-Up
»9,000 Years Ago, North Americans Tamed — and Ate — Dogs
»Audio: Ground Zero Imam: ‘We Have More of a Right to Moses’
»Feds: Atlanta Emerging as a Human Trafficking Hub
»Outspoken Tucson Sheriff Faces Recall Bid
»Peter King’s “Radicalization” Hearings: Another Barrel of Monkeys?
»Rep. Steve King: House Republicans Still Need Strategy for Defunding Obamacare
»Who is Suhail Khan?
Europe and the EU
»Denmark: Soldiers and Politicians Against Hizb ut-Tahrir
»Denmark: Gang War Brewing, Police Say
»Denmark: Judge Censures Cartoonist Over Court Outburst Against ‘Terrorist Attacker’
»English Defence League to Protest Against Proposed Shotton Islamic Centre This Weekend
»European Parliament Adopts Resolution Condemning Attacks Against Christians
»Germany: Unkosher Nightlife and Holocaust Humor
»Germany: Of Chimney Sweeps and the Holocaust
»Germany: Porn Star Dies After Heart Attack During Breast Enlargement
»Germany: Scientists Model Ancient Bog Woman’s Face
»In Norway, An Awakening to the Islamist Danger:
»Islamophobia: What Kind of Dinner Parties Do You Go to, Baroness Warsi?
»Italy: Islamic Themed Film Breaks Local Box Office Records
»Norwegian Boy Fends Off Wolf Pack With Heavy Metal
»Poland: ‘Communist Monopoly’ Teaches Downside of Socialist Life
»Religion & Astronomy: From Galileo to Aliens
»Spain: Nazi Crimes: Extradition of John Demjanjuk Requested
»Though Europe Rots, We Must Defend the West
»UK: ‘Marry a Muslim or Die’ Threat to Harry Potter Actress Revealed as Brother is Jailed for Beating Her Up
»UK: Australian to Sue Council Over Colleagues’ ‘Racist’ Greeting That Made Him Depressed
»UK: And Now, What She Actually Said…
»UK: Film on Dangers of Asian Sex Gangs Commissioned by Government Agency… Then Withheld for Three Years
»UK: Harry Potter Actress’s Brother Jailed for Attacking Her Afshan Azad Fled the Family Home the Day After the Attack
»UK: Is This David Cameron’s New Role Model?
»UK: It Was Selfish — And Wrong — Of Lady Warsi to Give That Speech
»UK: Jail for Mother Who Bound and Gagged Addict Teenage Daughter to Stop Her Buying Drugs
»UK: Prejudice Warning is Backed by Muslim MP
»UK: Police Are Investigating Complaints an Anti-Islamic Article Printed in a Church Magazine, After Complaints From the Muslim Community.
»UK: Shocking Injuries of Grandmother, 92, Kicked and Beaten on Her Own Doorstep — by Thug Who Fled With Just £30
»UK: Suspicion of Islamic Teaching is a Cause of Increasing Disquiet in Britain
»UK: Teachers Told Terrified Primary School Children World War III Had Broken Out Then Led Them to Cellar and Set Off Fireworks and a Siren
»UK: Tony Blair ‘Regrets’ Iraq Dead in Chilcot Grilling
»UK: Terror Suspect Abid Naseer US Extradition Approved
»UK: The Christian Hotelier Found Guilty of Gay Bias Looks Set to Lose Her Home and Asks: So Who’s Really Being Persecuted?
»UK: What Kind of Dinner Parties Do You Go to, Baroness?
»WikiLeaks: US Courted Dutch Muslims After Theo Van Gogh Murder
»Will No-One Shed a Tear for Belgium?
»Serbia: Germany, Russia and Italy Main Partners in 2010
»Three Killed as Albanian Police Clash With Protesters
North Africa
»Collapsing Churches Prompt Protests in Egypt for New Law on Church Construction
»Fears Grow in Tunisia of Islamist Revival
»Islamist Movement at Forefront of Tunisia’s Protests
»Morocco: Eyoon Incidents Caused by Anger Over Corruption
»Tunisia: Ben Ali’s Relatives and Militants in Libya
»Tunisia: Italy’s Foreign Minister: Europe to Assist Country
»Tunisia: EU Considers Freezing Bel Ali Family’s Assets
»Tunisia’s Sudden Press Freedom
Israel and the Palestinians
»Caroline Glick: Israel as the Banana Republic
»Gaza: French Foreign Minister Alliot-Marie Contested
Middle East
»Blair Criticises Obama’s Iran Policy
»Iran Nuclear Talks Start in Turkey
»Iran: Military Strike Would Not Stop Our Nuclear Program
»Last Christians Ponder Leaving a Hometown in Iraq
»S. Arabia: Hospitals Only for Women Requested, Doctors Included
»Stuxnet: Cyber Attack on Iran ‘Was Carried Out by Western Powers and Israel’
»UAE: Global Pearl Auction in Dubai for 13.5 Mln USD
»US Condemns Wave of Iraq Attacks
South Asia
»9/11 Mastermind Did Behead Daniel Pearl: FBI Matches Veins in Terror Chief’s Arms to Those of Killer Seen on Video
»Osama Bin Laden Tape Threatens French Hostages if Troops Don’t Withdraw
Far East
»Chinese Dissident Calls for Obama to ‘Imagine’ One of His Daughters ‘Has to be Put to Death, ‘ Just Like Under China’s One-Child Policy
»Rise of the Hans
»Taiwan: Defense Strategy Busted by Chinese Stealth
Latin America
»Obama Adminstration Lobbying Honduras to Let Thug Zelaya Back in
»Denmark: Land of Asylum
»Greek Government Applauds Germany’s Decision
»UK Can’t Deport Asylum Seekers Back to Greece
»UK: Migration Wave Means a Third of Londoners Were Born Abroad
Culture Wars
»Italy: Top Court Overturns Catholic Church’s Annulment of 20-Year Marriage
»State Plan Volunteers All to Donate Organs, Tissue
»UK: A Non-Prophet Organization? A Reader Objects to “Prophet Mohammad”
»UK: Left-Wing Bias? It’s Written Through the BBC’s Very DNA, Says Peter Sissons
»UK: Trial of Therapist Who Tried to ‘Cure’ Gay Man is Halted After ‘Expert Witness Intimidated’
»Afterlife Inflation: Have Jihadists Had to Raise Martyrdom Incentive?
»Violent Seismic Activity Tearing Africa in Two
»Why Outreach to the Muslim World is Always Doomed to Failure

Financial Crisis

Federal Government Teaching Farmers to Participate in ‘Carbon Markets’ That Don’t Exist Yet

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is teaching farmers how to participate in “carbon markets” despite the fact that such markets do not exist and Congress — in rejecting cap and trade legislation last year — has refused to create them.

Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan made the admission at the WorldWatch Institute’s 2011 State of World Symposium Wednesday, saying that one of the ways USDA was dealing with climate change was to teach American farmers how to participate in “carbon markets,” the technical term for a cap and trade program.

“[USDA] will show farmers clearly and directly how they can benefit from participating in carbon markets,” Merrigan said. “It’s got to go from the drawing board to the boardroom.”

A carbon market is the technical term for what is commonly known as a cap and trade program, a program where businesses — including farms — are forced to trade carbon allowances or credits on the market, effectively putting a price on emitting carbon dioxide. asked Merrigan why USDA would be trying to show farmers how to benefit from a program that does not exist. Merrigan did not directly answer before being pulled away from the interview by a USDA spokesman.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Plans Being Drawn Up to Let States Declare Bankruptcy

Pensioners and investors in state bonds could lose out

Policy makers are working behind the scenes to come up with a way to let states declare bankruptcy and get out from under crushing debts, including the pensions they have promised to retired public workers.

Unlike cities, the states are barred from seeking protection in federal bankruptcy court. Any effort to change that status would have to clear high constitutional hurdles because the states are considered sovereign.

But proponents say some states are so burdened that the only feasible way out may be bankruptcy, giving Illinois, for example, the opportunity to do what General Motors did with the federal government’s aid.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Portugal: Pay Cuts for Civil Servants Take Effect

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, JANUARY 20 — Starting today in Portugal the salary cuts for civil servants decided upon for 2011 in the anti-deficit budget approved by Parliament in Lisbon in December on an initiative by the socialist government of Premier José Socrates go into effect. The 20th of each month is the first possible payday for Portuguese civil servants. Civil servant unions FCSAP, STE and FESAP have announced that they will present individual or collective appeals to the courts against the measure, which they see as illegal and contrary to agreements in place in the sector, reports Diario de Noticias. The Economy Ministry confirmed today that the cuts will not be greater than 10%. The 2011 budget calls for an overall 5% reduction in civil servants’ salaries, with progressive cuts between 3.5% and 10% to salaries over 1500 euros per month.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain: Catalonia Cuts 4 Bln to Avoid Financial Collapse

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, JANUARY 20 — Catalonia is on the brink of bankruptcy, forced to cut 4 billion euros in the 2011 budget to avoid a financial collapse, with the impossibility of running up any more debt after already having exceeded the limit set by the federal government. The region only has enough money to meet their spending needs for the next two months, according to El Pais today. The cuts announced by the new president, Artur Mas, amount to 10% of the preliminary budget and will hit two main items in particular: healthcare (25% of Catalonia’s budget) and education (15%). Mas (of the CiU Party) blames the catastrophic situation on the situation left behind by the previous government, led by the Psc-Erc and Icv-Euia, and on the refinancing limit imposed by the Zapatero government. Compared to the 2.4% of GDP indicated by the federal government and the 3.1% of GDP forecast by the regional government, Catalonia’s deficit was 3.6% of GDP in 2010, and ran a 7 billion euro public spending deficit, left uncovered by revenue. The federal government has decided to stick to the road map of reforms and deficit containment and had already issued a warning about their intention to cap the debt of the Catalan government to the 2.4% limit imposed for 2011. Secretary of State for Finance, Carlos Ocana, explained that the autonomous communities that do not meet the spending reduction goals will be required to present a plan to balance their budgets. In addition to Catalonia, the ban for running any new debt was imposed on the regions of Castilla-La Mancha, Murcia and Madrid.

The president of the Generalitat demanded one billion euros from the Zapatero government from the competition fund in the new financial model, which benefits the most productive communities, agreed upon with the previous Catalan president. In an interview with Catalunya Radio, Mas warned that relations between the region and the federal government will reach “the point of no return” if a solution to Catalonia’s deficit is not found. “The regional government has the mechanisms to defend itself and to make the situation clear both internally and abroad,” threatened Mas, who appointed prestigious economist Andreu Mas-Colell as Councillor of Finance and the Economy. Nonetheless, Mas had to admit that Catalonia and Spain “are in the same boat”, which is sailing in very rought seas”, and if the country were to run up a greater debt it would damage the image of the entire country on the global markets.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

‘Squeezed Middle’ Faces £2,800 Tax Hit

Middle-income families could lose up to £2,800 in the triple whammy of tax changes in the latest Budget.

There will be a dramatic cash squeeze for working families who will lose out from changes to income tax, child benefit, tax credits and VAT, research predicts.

A couple with two children and a household income of £42,000 stands to lose £2,800 a year by 2013 under the changes, which will bring a ‘prolonged personal recession’ to working households, according to a think-tank report.

The phenomenon has led to such taxpayers being labelled the ‘squeezed middle’ — who are likely to get poorer in real terms as the changes are implemented over the next few years.

The report also found 700,000 middle-income earners will be dragged into the top rate of tax — doubling what they pay — as part of the changes outlined by the Treasury.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Syria: Central Bank Encourages Investments

(ANSAmed) — DAMASCUS, JANUARY 17 — By adopting policies that ease credit access for SMEs, the Syrian Central Bank is looking to facilitate investments into the country. As part of the most recent 5-year plan, reports the Italian Trade Commission (ICE) office in Damascus, the Syrian government has managed to attract 49 billion dollars in investments into the private sector and 42.5 billion for infrastructure projects.

In order to achieve their goal, the government made private investments into new sectors possible, including energy and road building, also promoting public-private partnerships.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UK: Banking Inquiry ‘Considering’ Sector Break-Up

The head of the commission reviewing whether the UK’s biggest banks should be broken up is expected to say later that wide-ranging reform is needed.

In a speech in London, Sir John Vickers is set to confirm he is considering plans to separate banks’ trading and retail operations.

These may require banks to put their investment arms into separate entities that could be allowed to collapse.

This would limit the risks to the wider financial system.

But Sir John will stress that no final decisions have yet been made.


Sir John, a former chief economist at the Bank of England, is the chairman of the five-person Independent Commission on Banking (ICB) set up by the coalition government.

It is looking at financial stability and competition, including the question of what should be done about banks deemed “too big to fail”.

One suggestion is that investment banks should be separated from retail banks, so that depositors’ money is not put at risk by the investment banking arms of the business.

Equally, if banks were allowed to collapse if mismanaged, taxpayers would not need to come to the rescue.

This is what happened when the last Labour government bailed out both Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group when it deemed the risks to the wider financial system of allowing them to collapse were too great.

The commission is also looking at whether too few big banks have too much control over the retail banking sector in the UK.

Currently, the top six British banks control about 90% of all deposits. This compares with a 68% market share for Germany’s top seven banks and just 35% for America’s top eight.

Other topics for scrutiny include whether banks should be restricted in the amount of their own money they can use for investment trading.

Leaving home

Critics have said that splitting up banks could damage the UK’s competitive edge and make banks leave the UK…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


9,000 Years Ago, North Americans Tamed — and Ate — Dogs

To a human living in North America about 9,400 years ago, dogs may have been both trusted friends and loyal protectors. But they were something else too: dinner.

A DNA analysis of an ancient dog’s recovered bone fragment reveal that dogs were already domesticated at this stage in North American history, and the fact that the bone bore evidence of passing through the human digestive tract reveals that our ancestors were willing to chow down on their canine companions.

The bone was recovered in ancient human fecal matter found in a southwestern Texas cave in the 1970s—but it wasn’t until recently that Samuel Belknap III, a University of Maine anthropology graduate student, found a bone within the ancient poo. The discovery was all the more welcome given that he wasn’t looking for dog bones in the first place.

“I didn’t start out looking for the oldest dog in the New World,” Belknap said. “I started out trying to understand human diet in southwest Texas. It so happens that this person who lived 9,400 years ago was eating dog.” [UMaine News]

Known as BE-20, the bone fragment measures only about half an inch long, and likely belonged to a 25- to 30-pound dog similar to the short-nosed New Mexico Indian Dog. The bone comes from the area where the skull connects with the spine. The dog’s domestic identity was further supported by a DNA analysis at the University of Oklahoma’s molecular anthropology lab, which ruled out the possibility that the bone could be from a wolf, fox, or coyote…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Audio: Ground Zero Imam: ‘We Have More of a Right to Moses’

Urges Muslims ‘wherever they are’ to ‘compete’ with other religions

Muslims have “more of a right” than Jews to the biblical prophet Moses, declared the imam who has become the new face of the proposed Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero in New York City.

Imam Abdallah Adhami also urged Muslims to “compete” with other religions.

“We must be doing it first, we must compete with you to be doing more of that. We want to fast Ashura too, because that’s the day God saved Moses; that is certainly a day to be celebrated. We have more right to Moses,” stated Adhami in a 2008 lecture obtained and reviewed by WND.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Feds: Atlanta Emerging as a Human Trafficking Hub

ATLANTA — Federal authorities are highlighting Atlanta’s emergence as a hub in human trafficking along the East Coast as they try to raise awareness about the problem and generate tips from the public.

Brock Nicholson of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for Georgia and the Carolinas says human trafficking has been increasing in the Atlanta area and the crimes are often hard to uncover because many victims won’t come forward.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Outspoken Tucson Sheriff Faces Recall Bid

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik has never lost an election, but that was before his remarks assigning blame for the deadly Tucson, Ariz., shooting to political “vitriol” and calling Arizona “a mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”

Now it’s Sheriff Dupnik who finds himself on the public-opinion hot seat. A group opposed to illegal immigration has begun an effort to recall the sheriff in a special election. Meanwhile, a Pima County tea party group is planning on holding a “Dump Dupnik” rally next week outside his office.

“I haven’t been a fan of Dupnik’s for a long time, but this really was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said Tom Rompel, co-owner of Black Weapons Armory in Tucson. “He’s law enforcement. We expect ‘the facts, ma’am,’ not his opinion. He leans far left, always has, and frankly, people have had enough.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Peter King’s “Radicalization” Hearings: Another Barrel of Monkeys?

by Diana West

Politico featured a story this week headlined “Muslim groups nervous about King hearings.” It went on to discuss Muslim apprehension regarding upcoming congressional hearings led by Rep. Peter King, R-NY, “on the threat posed by radical Islam in America.”

That phrase — “radical Islam” — is truly a marvel: a 14-karat, bulletproof, titanium shield for Islam itself, which, sorry guys and gals, is the source of all things we deem “radical” in Islam. “Islam is Islam and that’s it,” as Turkey’s Erdogan so memorably put it. But since we don’t want Islam to be “it,” we pretend and operate and make policy and even war based on some mythic radicalism of “twisted” or “hijacked” or “perverted” Islam.

If these King hearings turn out to be about the threat posed by “radical Islam” — and not about the threat posed by what is radical about Islam — “nervous” Muslim groups have nothing to worry about, and anti-jihad, anti-Shariah citizens have nothing to gain.

Hope I’m wrong, but it looks like any rational analysis of jihad or of Shariah is already off the table. Politico writes: “In a move that will come as a relief to Muslim leaders, King told Politico that he’s not planning to call as witnesses such Muslim community critics as the Investigative Project on Terrorism’s Steve Emerson and Jihad Watch’s Robert Spencer, who have large followings among conservatives but are viewed as antagonists by many Muslims.”

Let’s break this revelation down. It may be smoothly packaged, but it is utterly mind-boggling.

Point One: King says he won’t be calling a certain genre of witness to the hearings. Politico’s term for this genre of witness is “Muslim community critics,” and it includes Islamic terrorism expert Steve Emerson and Islamic doctrine expert Robert Spencer.

Let’s start with Politico’s terminology: “Muslim community critics.”

           — Hat tip: Diana West[Return to headlines]

Rep. Steve King: House Republicans Still Need Strategy for Defunding Obamacare

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) says he is not yet sure how House Republicans will go about defunding Obamacare if the effort to enact legislation fully repealing the legislation ultimately fails, as it is expected to given that it would require passing the Democrat-controlled Senate and then the signature of President Obama to become law.

“There have been some discussions (with House leadership), but I haven’t gone into it deeply enough that I’d be willing to represent it publicly,” King said about the effort to defund Obamacare. “Those are conversations that need to take place.”

King said that the entire focus for the last few days has been on the repeal legislation, but that attempts to defund Obamacare would follow that.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Who is Suhail Khan?

Suhail Khan, a Bush administration veteran, has presented himself as a moderate, pro-American voice in the Muslim Community. But new videos cast serious doubt on that image he’s carefully groomed for himself in Washington.

Shockingly, they show this current American Conservative Union board member consorting with radical Muslim Brotherhood leaders-turned-terrorists, while exalting the death culture of jihadists.

Relevance: This self-proclaimed staunch Republican has made inroads into the GOP leadership on the Hill, where he’s lobbied to:

* Block opposition to the Ground Zero mosque;

* Pooh-pooh the threats from Muslim Brotherhood infiltration and the Shariah legal code it seeks to institutionalize in America;

* Downplay the rising tide of homegrown terror and radicalization, which Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., plans to investigate next month during his important Homeland Security Commitee hearings on the subject.

More alarming, Mr. Khan has — unwittingly or not — helped the bad guys infiltrate the government, from one end of Pennsylvania Avenue to the other.


Now that the jig is up, Mr. Khan has gone into damage control mode. Last week, in a six-page letter to fellow ACU board members, including chairman David Keene, he tried to explain away the damning videos — which, among other things, show him receiving an award from the notorious Abdurahman Alamoudi, now behind bars as one of al-Qaida’s top fundraisers in America. He claims he had no choice but to speak to Alamoudi’s group, that the Bush White House sent him, blah, blah.

But nobody at the White House forced him to speak in 1999 to the radical Islamic Society of North America, where he sounded at one point much like a jihadist, praising the “mujihadeen” who martyr themselves “for the cause of Islam,” and braying about how “the early Muslims loved death more than the oppressors loved life.” He invoked all the major hotspots of the jihadi circuit at the time: “Bosnia” … “Kashmir” … “Palestine” … “Iraq.” All the while, the video captures Mr. Khan wiping tears of anger from his cheeks.

[See article for links to videos and transcript excerpts.]

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Denmark: Soldiers and Politicians Against Hizb ut-Tahrir

Police will be on guard to prevent trouble at demonstration against Hizb ut-Tahrir.

Copenhagen police will be in place this afternoon to prevent trouble at a multi-party, multi-organisation demonstration against the Hizb ut-Tahrir organisation, which is holding a debate in the premises of the Royal Library later today.

“(Hizb ut-Tahrir) is the most dangerous organisation we have in Denmark. It is important for us to show that we are many who have a different view and that we can be seen when Hizb ut-Tahrir meets,” says the Social Democratic co-organiser of the demonstration, Copenhagen Local Counsellor Lars Aslan Rasmussen.

“Hizb ut-Tahrir is different from other extreme organisations by having been found guilty of calling for the killing of Danish Jews, and now they are saying it’s OK to kill Danish soldiers. It’s OK to be against the war in Afghanistan, but when you produce adverts with pictures of coffins wrapped in the Danish flag, it’s violence pornography,” Rasmussen says.

He adds that representatives of all political parties will be taking part in the demonstration, as well as other organisations. The Danish Soldiers’ Veterans Association will also be taking part. Rasmussen adds that the demonstration is targeted at Hizb ut-Tahrir itself, and not the controversial issue of the organisation being allowed to meet in the Royal Library premises.

The Stop Islamification of Denmark organisation has also urged its members to take part in the demonstration and the Danish Nazis have also used their home page to attack Hizb ut-Tahrir and its meeting in the Royal Library.

“We have said that everyone is welcome. We cannot decide on who is allowed to come and who not, but the theme is that we are against Hizb ut-Tahrir, and not against Muslims. So we will not accept racist slogans. We are as much against Nazis and the far right as we are against Hizb ut-Tahrir,” Rasmussen says.

Copenhagen police are preparing for many different views to be represented in the streets.

“It could be a mixture of all sorts, so we are going to be there and in close contact with the organisers,” says Inspector Bent Olsen of the Copenhagen Police Operational Planning and Analysis Dept.

The demonstration is to take place from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. opposite Den Sorte Diamant.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Denmark: Gang War Brewing, Police Say

Nørrebro shooting last night is eighth in as many days

An internet café in the Nørrebro district last night became the scene of the eighth shooting in as many days in the northwestern suburbs of the capital.

Just before midnight, two shots were fired against a internet café in Rantzausgade Street, a police spokesperson told public broadcaster DR.

At least five people were in the café at the time, but none were injured.

According to sources within immigration communities in the area, the shootings are part of a showdown between young immigrants in the Værebropark area in the town of Bagsværd, who are said to have links to Hells Angels, and young immigrants in the neighbouring areas of Tingbjerg and Høje Gladsaxe.

The Bagsværd group consists mainly of young people with Pakistani roots, while the other group is mixed.

Police have confirmed a connection between most of the recent shootings.

“Five-six of these shootings are related,” said Kim Kliver, head of the National Investigation Centre. “They’re based on some mistaken conceptions of honour and revenge.”

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Denmark: Judge Censures Cartoonist Over Court Outburst Against ‘Terrorist Attacker’

A Danish judge has had to call the cartoonist Kurt Westergaard to order after an outburst against the man who is accused of trying to kill him.

“He’s just a cowardly liar, a terrorist!” exclaimed the 75-year-old, who has drawn the wrath of the Muslim world for his caricature of the Prophet Mohammed wearing a turban that resembled a bomb.

The accused man, a care worker of Somali origin, broke into the cartoonist’s home a year ago, wielding an axe. On Wednesday, at the outset of the trial, Mohammed Geele, 29, said that he had used the axe to enter the house and that his aim was to frighten Mr Westergaard and express his anger about the cartoon.

Mr Westergaard rejected his version. “He was like a religious insane young man,” he told the court in Aarhus yesterday. “I believe he entered the house as a holy warrior who wanted to kill an infidel.” He turned to look at his assailant — the first time that they had actually seen each other.

When he heard Mr Geele smashing his way through the bulletproof glass of the terrace door, Mr Westergaard dashed to the bathroom, where he has had a steel door installed since receiving death threats from the Muslim world. From there he called the police on his mobile phone. A recording of the attack captures the noise of the axe battering the door.

Mr Westergaard said he had followed police instructions by heading for the panic room without grabbing his 5-year-old granddaughter who was cowering on the sofa. He has been criticised in Denmark but recorded testimony of the girl, beamed into the courtroom, showed no obvious distress.

“The man was hammering on the door, bam, bam, bam,” she said on the video, recorded the day after the attack on New Year’s Day last year. “And then came the di-da-di-da of the sirens. I knew the police were coming.”

It took eight minutes for the police to arrive. When Mr Geele raised his axe at them outside the house they sprayed him with pepper and shot him in the knee.

Crucially, yesterday’s testimony from the police revealed that he had shouted “Allah is great” several times before he fell to the ground. The prosecution is interpreting this as further evidence that he was inspired by terrorist goals. He is accused of a terrorist act along with attempted murder.

The judge reprimanded Mr Westergaard for prejudging him by calling Mr Geele a terrorist. The prosecution has so far failed to establish a clear terrorist motive…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

English Defence League to Protest Against Proposed Shotton Islamic Centre This Weekend

RIGHT-WING organisation the English Defence League (EDL) has confirmed it is to protest in Shotton this weekend over plans to build an Islamic centre in the town.

Members of the EDL’s divisions from Stoke, Burnley, Manchester, Cardiff, Liverpool and Chester have all been invited to the official protest at the old Shotton Lane Social Club, where the proposed centre would be built, on Saturday (January 22).

A spokesman for the Chester division of the EDL said the group had been liaising with North Wales Police and the aim was to make ‘a peaceful protest’.

EDL members are due to gather at Chester train station from noon-12.30pm before heading by train to Shotton, where they are predicted to arrive at about 1pm.

From there, the protestors are planning to go to The Central Hotel, before beginning a march to the club at 1.45pm. When they arrive, speeches will be made to protest against plans for what they call the ‘Shotton mosque’.

The Flintshire Muslim Cultural Society (FMCS) is aiming to set up the centre at the former Shotton Lane club, which has been empty since it closed in August.

The group is more than halfway to raising the £150,000 needed to buy the venue after a TV appeal broadcast to the wider Muslim community. Earlier this week the Chronicle revealed community leaders in Deeside after plans to build the ‘Islamic cultural centre’ threatened to spark trouble.

The British National Party (BNP) is co-ordinating a leaflet distribution campaign against the plans — but has distanced itself the EDL’s campaign.

FMCS chairman Monchab Ali insisted the proposal is not to build a mosque, but to promote a better understanding of the Islamic faith for the benefit of the wider community.

He said: “We all have a role to play in the community to work together. We are aiming to build an Islamic cultural centre, which will be open to everyone for people to learn about Islam…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

European Parliament Adopts Resolution Condemning Attacks Against Christians

Members of the European Parliament today adopted a resolution condemning persecution and discrimination based on religion. In particular MEP’s condemned attacks against Christians in countries including Egypt, and Iraq.

They also called for a strategy to enforce the human right to freedom of religion, including a list of measures against states who knowingly fail to protect religious denominations.

Lydia O’Kane spoke to MEP Mario Mauro, who is head of the delegation of the EPP group in the European parliament.

He says there is now a growing awareness in Europe of the plight of Christians in many countries.

“I think we are in a very significant moment in the history of the European institutions, because for the first time we declared this kind of judgement, the fact that there exists the problem of persecution of Christians.”

MEP’s also want the forthcoming External Affairs Council of 31 January 2011 to discuss the persecution of Christians and respect for religious freedom. Listen to Mario Mauro’s interview with Lydia O’Kane.

           — Hat tip: Salome[Return to headlines]

Germany: Unkosher Nightlife and Holocaust Humor

Israelis Learn to Love the New Berlin

For decades, the shadow of history and the Holocaust led many Israelis to boycott Germany. Today, though, a new generation of Israelis are discovering Berlin as a center for the arts and European party capital. With their literature, art, cafes and nightlife, they have already become a vibrant presence in the city.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: Of Chimney Sweeps and the Holocaust

Dresden’s ‘Lucky Gas Stadium’ Courts Controversy

Stadiums named after companies are hardly new. But in Dresden, many find a new name resulting from a recent sponsorship deal to be unfortunate. “Lucky Gas Stadium,” critics say, is problematic in light of Germany’s Third Reich history.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: Porn Star Dies After Heart Attack During Breast Enlargement

German porn actress “Sexy Cora” has died following a heart attack she suffered during her sixth breast augmentation last week. A police investigation of the Hamburg plastic surgery clinic where she was treated is ongoing.

The 23-year-old had been in a coma for nine days after complications during the surgery to increase her breast size from an F to a G cup. She died on Thursday, spokesperson for the Hamburg state prosecutor’s office Wilhelm Möllers confirmed.

Prosecutors continue to investigate the 54-year-old anaesthesiologist and the 49-year-old surgeon who performed the operation on suspicion of negligent homicide.

“We will conduct an autopsy,” Möllers said, declining to give further details in the case.

Last year, Cora, from the Hamburg district of Rahlstedt, became famous as a member of the 10th season of the reality programme Big Brother. She spent 43 days in the Big Brother house. She received the award for “Best Amateur 2010” at last year’s Venus erotic industry trade fair.

Media reports last week said evidence of a possible offence was provided to police by a paramedic. Medical equipment and medications were seized by police at the scene and expert medical investigators had been called in.

According to daily Bild, the young woman wanted to increase the size of her silicon breast enhancements from 500 grammes to 800 grammes each. She went to the Alster Clinic, a plastic surgery clinic in Hamburg.

A paramedic filed a report to police that a resuscitation had been performed either too late or incorrectly, according to the paper.

Cora’s agent, Daniel Schiemann told Bild: “She suffered a second heart attack in the ambulance.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: Scientists Model Ancient Bog Woman’s Face

German researchers have shed light on life during the Iron Age after examining the ancient remains of a woman found in a bog in what is now Lower Saxony. The body dates back to the pre-Roman era, more than 2,600 years ago.

A team of experts presented their findings on Thursday in Hannover, including facial simulations of the bog woman dubbed “Moora.” Archaeologists first began studying the find six years ago, according to news magazine Der Spiegel.

Experts from the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) generated a digital model of the bones, which was used to make a replica of the bog woman’s skull. Later, five researchers from Germany and the United Kingdom produced a series of facial reconstructions.

“It’s a look into the face of a young woman who lived at a time when Rome was still just a small village,” said Stefan Winghart, head of the regional heritage conservation office in Lower Saxony.

After examining Moora’s corpse, researchers estimated she was between 17- and 19-years-old at the time of her death. Her life was brief but gruelling: The team determined the young woman suffered from malnutrition, chronic inflammation, curvature of the spine — as well as a benign tumour at the base of her skull. The bones also point to a pair of skull fractures due to blunt trauma.

Experts said Moora probably lived a life of intense physical labour — and likely regularly carried heavy loads, such as water jugs, while roaming through the marshland.

When Moora’s remains were initially uncovered — including vertebrae, hair and pieces of the skull — the body was not treated as an archaeological find. Instead forensics experts in Hamburg identified the corpse as a 16- to 21-year-old woman with poor dental hygiene, Der Spiegel said. Until a DNA test proved otherwise, the corpse was suspected to be the body of the young woman Elke Kerll, who disappeared in 1969 after going to a dance club.

Yet after a human hand was uncovered at the site five years after the initial find, archaeologists began to take a closer look. Radiocarbon dating completed at the University of Kiel confirmed the girl had died between 764 and 515 B.C.

Despite researchers’ efforts to learn more about Moora’s life, the circumstances of her death remain a mystery. The team determined the young woman was naked at the time of her death — and the absence of any clothing or jewellery at the site seems to suggest the young woman did not suffer a fatal accident. But the find also contradicts historical knowledge of common burial practices during the Iron Age, as most bodies were cremated.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

In Norway, An Awakening to the Islamist Danger:

Islamists have made no secret of their desire to impose sharia law on the country.

by Hege Storhaug

In terms of values, 2010 was a red-letter year for Norway. Our innocence was destroyed. From one end of the country to the other, and in no uncertain terms, Islamists proclaimed their sinister message. Henceforth, only those in deep denial will insist that our freedom is not endangered. And only true innocents will fail to grasp that we are headed for a raging conflict about values.

It all started at the same spot where Quisling and his followers held rallies in the 1930s. Around 3,000 people filled University Square in Oslo on February 12, 2010, many of them dressed just like Muhammed himself — a long coat, baggy, ankle-high pants, and a head covering, plus full beard. In the gravest of tones, they articulated their contempt for the society that has given them so many benefits. The threat of a new September 11 on Norwegian soil, issued by Mohyeldeen Mohammed (who had studied sharia in Medina), marked the end of one era and the beginning of a new one.

It continued with the growing influence of Islam Net at Oslo University College. Over the course of only two years, the group has managed to acquire over 1,200 paying members and is now the largest Muslim student organization in the country. The only positive thing that can be said about Islam Net is that it doesn’t hide its objective: a society living under the Koran and sharia. One of these students’ ideological heroes is Zakir Naik, who preaches hate and terror and is considered so extreme that he is not permitted to enter either Britain or Canada.

In 2010, Islamism also manifested itself in the Paris of the North. With Saudi sponsorship to the tune of 20 million kroner, a Muslim congregation called Alnor planned to build a gigantic mosque in Tromsø. The Tromsø newspaper Nordlys (Northern Lights) shone an intense spotlight on the project and uncovered the fact that one of Alnor’s front men, who is the husband of Alnor’s leader, convert Sandra Maryam Moe, had taken part in terrorist training with the radical organization Jemaah Islamiah, which is considered to be responsible for the 2002 Bali bombings…


[Return to headlines]

Islamophobia: What Kind of Dinner Parties Do You Go to, Baroness Warsi?

Baroness Warsi has always struck me as a thoroughly modern Muslim. She wears her faith lightly and has no truck with militant Islam.

She has been commendably forthright in her stand against religious extremism and her willingness to face down the Toytown jihadists earned her a fusillade of rotten eggs in the martyrs’ paradise of Luton.

As Tory Party co-chairman, she is a potent symbol of Call Me Dave’s new model Conservatism, living proof that the party can embrace ambitious members of the ethnic minorities as well as Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells.

So why has she chosen now to claim that prejudice and bigotry against Muslims is widespread in Britain?

In politics, as in comedy, timing is everything. With the inquiry into the London Transport terrorist attack reminding us daily of the atrocities committed in the name of Allah, not to mention the recent revelations about gangs of Muslim men targeting and raping filthy infidel whores on the streets of British cities, Sayeeda Warsi has hardly picked the most opportune moment to accuse the rest of us of raging ‘Islamophobia’.

She alleges that anti-Muslim bigotry has crossed the dinner party threshold and is socially acceptable.

I don’t know what kind of dinner parties Sayeeda goes to. The last time we had a few friends round for a meal was over Christmas.

And although my recollection of the conversation dims after the sixth bottle, I’m certain we talked about the new Springsteen box set; why Spurs needed David Beckham like a hole in the head; the extortionate price of petrol; and what precisely have Cameron’s Conservatives actually done for the millions who voted for them?

I can’t remember any breath being wasted on attitudes to Muslims in British society.

But Sayeeda sees ‘Islamophobia’ round every dinner table, on every street corner and in every school playground and workplace.

‘In the factory, where they’ve just hired a Muslim worker, the boss says to his employees: “Not to worry, he’s only fairly Muslim.”‘


‘In the school, the kids say: “The family next door are Muslims, but they’re not too bad.”‘

Do they?

‘And in the road, as a woman walks past wearing a burka, the passers-by think: “That woman is either oppressed or is making a political statement.”‘

Are you sure?

Most of us just think anyone who wears a burka in Britain is barking mad and wonder why someone who so utterly rejects our society and our liberal values would want to live here. Surely they would be much happier in Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan.

It’s instructive that in all the TV footage of the unrest in devoutly Muslim Tunisia, there hasn’t been a burka in sight.

Sayeeda even has a pop at the media, accusing us of dividing Muslims into ‘moderates’ and ‘extremists’. In a sense, she’s right. It is impossible to write about Islamic terrorism without including prominently a caveat about ‘the vast majority of peace-loving Muslims’.

Newspapers bend over backwards to distance the headbangers from mainstream British Muslims. It’s good manners, as well as good business.

So sensitive are the authorities to accusations of ‘Islamophobia’ that even when Muslim gangsters of Pakistani origin are found guilty of raping white teenage girls, the police go out of their way to insist ludicrously that there was ‘no cultural, racial or religious’ motive — despite all the evidence to the contrary.

That’s because we realise that our Muslim neighbours are as appalled as everyone else at the antics of the sociopaths who dedicate themselves to hatred and murder in the name of religion.

Most of the Muslims I know are from Pakistani or Turkish backgrounds. What they have in common is that they all identify as Londoners. Then again, I’m fortunate to live in a part of the world where people of all races and religious persuasions rub along well.

The same can’t be said of some neighbourhoods in towns and cities, especially in the North of England, where the indigenous population has been supplanted by a hostile Muslim monoculture…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Italy: Islamic Themed Film Breaks Local Box Office Records

(AKI) — An Italian produced comedy with an Islamic terrorism theme entitled ‘Che Bella Giornata’ or ‘What a Beautiful day’ has broken the country’s all time box office records for a locally produced film, hauling in a massive 42 million dollars and counting, in just two weeks after its release.

The film’s plot revolves around a security guard who falls in love with an Arab woman who is planing to bomb the Milan Duomo.

The movie’s success has also dethroned Roberto Benigni’s Holocaust-theme 1997 film and triple Oscar winner ‘Life Is Beautiful,’ which held the title of highest-earning local film for 13 years running.

Produced by Medusa film, for an average Italian budget of around 6.6 million dollars, Medusa CEO Giampaolo Letta said the picture has performed beyond the company’s “most optimistic expectations.”.

The film is made by a team of relative newcomers to cinema and stars popular TV comic Checco Zalone, who performs on Mediaset, the media company owned by prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, which owns Medusa film.

“There really is a new, sophisticated Italian wave of comedy under way,” Letta commented, “and this is something Medusa has been working on.”

Italy has long been famous for its comic genre, which dates to the 1950s and includes works by recognised masters the likes of Dino Risi, Pietro Germi, Mario Monicelli and many others.

Currently, Italy is experiencing a resurgence in Italian cinema, and four out of the top ten grossing films for 2010 were locally produced Italian comedies.

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

Norwegian Boy Fends Off Wolf Pack With Heavy Metal

While walking home from the busstop this week, a 13-year-old Norwegian school boy stumbled upon four wolves. In the end, it may have been his love of heavy-metal music by the band Creed that saved his life.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Poland: ‘Communist Monopoly’ Teaches Downside of Socialist Life

A Polish research institute has developed a board game to teach young people about life under Communism. In the game, which is inspired by Monopoly, players must wait in endless lines at stores for scarce goods. For added realism, they have to put up with people cutting in line and products running out — unless they have a “colleague in the government” card.

There are no glamorous avenues for sale, nor can players erect hotels, charge rent or make pots of money. In fact, a new Polish board game inspired by the classic Monopoly is all about communism rather than capitalism.

The goal of the game, which will officially be launched on Feb. 5, is to show how hard and frustrating it was for an average person to simply do their shopping under the Communist regime in Poland. The game has been developed by the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), a Warsaw-based research institute that commemorates the suffering of the Polish people during the Nazi and Communist eras.

Just like in the original Monopoly, acquisition is the name of the game. In this case, however, that means struggling to get basic necessities such as food, clothing and furniture. “In the game, you send your family out to get items on a shopping list and they find that the five shops are sold out or that there hasn’t been a delivery that day,” the IPN’s Karol Madaj told SPIEGEL ONLINE Thursday, explaining that the game “highlights the tough realities of life under Communism.”

Indeed, there are many ways in which the game, which is called “Kolejka” after the Polish word for queue or line, builds frustration. Some rules allow other players to jump the line and get the last of a certain product, while others force players to give up their place in the queue.

Madaj emphasizes that the game was not inspired by any nostalgia for the Communist era, which lasted from the end of World War II until 1989. Instead, the IPN wants to educate young people who do not remember Communism by using the game as a tool to open up dialogue between the generations. “Those who were too young to remember how it was back then will be able to play this game with their parents or grandparents and maybe talk about how things were for the older generation,” says Madaj.

Queue Jumping and Inside Information

Just like in the Communist era, players can leverage certain advantages to get what they need. The “colleague in the government” card is the equivalent of the famous “get out of jail free” card in Monopoly. Any player lucky enough to have one of these beauties can secretly find out when the next deliveries will arrive in the shops. Mothers with children are allowed to jump the line as well.

The game was tested on 100 people during the development phase and approved as an authentic representation of the difficulty of doing mundane chores in Communist times. According to Madaj, the oldest tester was an 84-year-old man who said that, just like in the game, the longest lines were always at the furniture stores.

A game about waiting in line for scarce goods may sound rather depressing, but Madaj believes both young and old will have a laugh while playing “Kolejka.” And just in case that doesn’t happen, the game comes with a book of jokes from the Communist era, as well as archive photographs of real people waiting in line and a booklet providing a historical overview.

The IPN believes in the power of games as historical education tools. In the last two years, it has produced four games, three of which focus on World War II, including “303,” a board game based on the Polish 303 fighter squadron’s role in the Battle of Britain. Another game about Polish underground resistance organizations during World War II is also in development.

“Kolejka” will have an initial production run of 3,000 and will be available to buy in stores at the very reasonable price of €10 ($13). And in case the lines at the shop are too long, it can also be purchased online.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Religion & Astronomy: From Galileo to Aliens

By 1992, Pope John Paul II issued a declaration acknowledging errors in Galileo’s trial. No such apologetic statement has been made for Giordano Bruno, whom the Church burned at the stake in 1600. Bruno not only supported the heliocentric view, he also claimed there are multiple worlds beyond Earth, each orbiting their own sun. Consolmagno and his colleague, Vatican astronomer Father Paul Pavel Gabor, say Bruno’s death sentence was not due to him advancing these notions. “The old joke is that if he was burned for anything back then, it was for plagiarism,” said Consolmagno. “Nicholas of Cusa published those same ideas 200 years earlier, and he was a Cardinal.”

Nicholas of Cusa’s book, “On Learned Ignorance,” in which he discussed the possibility of multiple worlds, was published in 1440. He also wrote that aliens could exist on the moon and the sun. “He was made a cardinal in 1448, so it’s quite obvious that it didn’t damage his career,” noted Gabor.

Consolmagno said the most probable reason for the church’s enmity was that Bruno denied the divinity of Christ, as well as some other fundamental doctrines of Christianity. “I think the real problem with Bruno was he was accused of being an English spy,” added Gabor. He said that Bruno was imprisoned in various places throughout Europe before landing in jail in Venice, which then led to his death in Rome. Gabor said that the file on last 7 years of his trial is gone, because Napoleon looted the Vatican for paper.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spain: Nazi Crimes: Extradition of John Demjanjuk Requested

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, JANUARY 14 — The Spanish justice system has issued a warrant for the arrest and extradition of alleged Nazi criminal John Demjanjuk, for complicity in crimes against humanity committed in the German concentration camp Flossenburg.

A total of 155 Spanish republicans were held in the camp during the Second World War. The warrant, issued today by judge of the Audiencia Nacional Ismael Moreno and quoted by the EFE news agency, states that Demjanjuk, born in the Ukraine and in his nineties today, is indicated as “accomplice in the crime of genocide and crimes against humanity”. The arrest order regards the supposed activities of the “armed guard” John Demjanjuk in the Flossenburg camp, where 50 of the 150 imprisoned Spanish republicans died. The alleged Nazi criminal is currently being trialed in Germany in another case, opened in November 2009 at the tribunal of Munich, for his involvement in the massacre of 27,900 Jews in the Sobibor concentration camp in Poland, in 1943.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Though Europe Rots, We Must Defend the West

Defending Lars Hedegaard’s right to free speech equals defending the right of Western civilization to survive. As editor, columnist, and Danish and International Free Press Society president, Hedegaard dares to exercise his right to criticize Islam as freely as one may Christianity or Judaism. [1]

Barring an effective international outcry — or a rare fever of Sudden Enlightenment Syndrome striking common sense into the head of Denmark’s public prosecutor — Hedegaard will face trial on Danish racism charges and conviction alike on January 24, 2011: a veritable auto da fe. [2]

In December 2009, Hedegaard remarked in a taped interview that a certain kind of domestic violence was peculiar to Muslim families (“they” rape their own children). He was charged as a common criminal. [3]

Denmark’s public prosecutor charged Hedegaard with racism for allegedly violating article 266 b of its penal code — a.k.a. the “racism clause” — which allows a prosecutor to infer criminal offense in any statement that he believes threatens, demeans, or ridicules anyone based on race, skin color, national or ethnic origin, religious faith, or sexual orientation. In other words, the law gives the prosecutor endless latitude to levy criminal charges over a wide range of easily misconstrued statements by or about almost anyone. [4] This absurdity of law in effect lets Denmark’s public prosecutor lavish his taxpayer-funded time on perusing news and other taped records of public figures for factual statements on Islam or predominantly Muslim behaviors; and that is how he seems to cast his own prejudiced net.

In 1969, Denmark’s proud history of supporting freedom, whatever the cost, enticed me to live for a summer with a family of potters in Grena, Jutland. In the 1940s, Denmark saved virtually its entire Jewish population from a regime whose totalitarianism many Islamic leaders now hope to best.

Since then, Denmark may have gone rotten.

The state apparently deems it far less criminal for groups driven by ideological or religious belief to behave criminally than for anyone to publicly observe their heinous deeds. Should a modern Danish coven of warlocks and witches regularly rape and roast their teenage daughters, doubtless the public prosecutor would charge no one for saying as much.

Alas, Hedegaard challenges modern Danish liberalism too, as he did in a Jan. 2009 interview with me. [5]

In North America, free speech is a fundamental right cemented into the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution — the first article in the Bill of Rights passed by Congress, ratified by the states, and adopted as U.S. law on December 15, 1791. It naturally includes the right to criticize almost anything, short of treason — a charge for which the U.S. has not prosecuted in a very long while. Moreover, foreigners can no longer easily rebuke Americans, through foreign lawsuits, for taking full advantage of that enshrined U.S. freedom. [6]

But in the early 1960s, orthodox Islamic believers calling themselves the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan, in Arabic) initiated global efforts to destroy the West and its values, free speech foremost among them. By their thinking, God alone can make laws, not man — the only just laws, therefore, being Islamic (sharia). All others must go, especially secular Western laws — and particularly those allowing what Islamic law considers blasphemy and a capital offense. That includes any criticism of Islam or Mohammed…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: ‘Marry a Muslim or Die’ Threat to Harry Potter Actress Revealed as Brother is Jailed for Beating Her Up

The full horror of a three-hour attack on one of the stars of the Harry Potter films was revealed in court for the first time as her brother was jailed for beating her up.

Ashraf Azad has been locked up for six months after setting upon his sister Afshan having discovered she was involved in a relationship with a non-Muslim man.

Manchester Crown Court heard he left his younger sister bruised and swollen after grabbing her by the hair, throwing her across a room and punching her in the head and back as she cowered on the floor of the family home.


In a letter to the court, Ms Azad said she ‘expressed forgiveness’.

But Judge Thomas said: ‘It should be understood that whether or not a case is prosecuted is not a matter of choice for a witness, or even a victim of crime.

‘It is rather a matter of public, not private, concern and interest to see instances of domestic violence properly prosecuted through the courts.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Australian to Sue Council Over Colleagues’ ‘Racist’ Greeting That Made Him Depressed

An Australian community warden is suing council bosses after accusing colleagues of making racist comments — including constantly greeting him with ‘G’day sport’.

Warden Geoff Stephens, who has been in the UK for 26 years, says he is on a ‘cocktail of anti-depressants’ because of the constant abuse.

The 48-year-old, who has worked as a community warden in Dymchurch, Kent, for the past six years, says the ‘racism’ and bullying would ‘eventually kill him’.

The warden — who is part of a team of council-employed workers who help combat anti-social behaviour — says he has asked fellow wardens to stop making Australian jokes, but they continued unabated.

A former immigration officer at the Port of Dover, Mr Stephens said he is regularly greeted by colleagues with ‘G’day sport’ and ‘Is your girlfriend called Sheila?’

Other choice phrases include ‘throw another shrimp on the barbie’ and jokes about kangaroos.

Mr Stephens, originally from Adelaide, has been off sick since August last year with depression and is also attending counselling sessions due to the ‘race-inspired’ comments.

‘I’m now on a cocktail of medication,’ he explained.

‘I’ve only been able to sleep for three hours a night since August, and the physical and mental exhaustion will eventually kill me.

‘I feel like my life has been ripped apart. I loved my job with a passion and I did a lot of good work in Dymchurch.’…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: And Now, What She Actually Said…

Here is the text of the speech that Baroness Warsi actually delivered. Lots of gracious references to Christians and Jews — but also note the disreputable suggestion that certain Old Testament passages provide excuses for stoning people to death for adultery and the like.

The fact is, however, that unlike Islam Judaism has always mediated such passages through rabbinic interpretation, with the result that such activities have not been tolerated. Jews pose no threat to anyone — other than those who try to wipe them out. The sly insinuation that Islam is inherently no more dangerous to life, liberty and human rights than is Judaism is quite wickedly false — and all too telling.

This is also why the equation of ‘Islamophobia’ with Jew-hatred is so odious. That’s why some of those supporting Baroness Warsi today for her stand against anti-Muslim ‘bigotry’ themselves display vicious bigotry towards the Jewish people. Prejudice, as I said below, is based on faleshoods of one kind or another — lies, distortion, absence of evidence. While some people are indeed prejudiced against Muslims, most of what is termed ‘Islamophobia’ arises from entirely rational and legitimate concerns. Jew-hatred does not.

In short, this is all about the difference between truth and lies. And in western society, where the very notion of objective truth has been written out of the script, many can no longer grasp that difference. That is the real crisis for the west — and Baroness Warsi has now shown us, twice, that she is part of the problem, not the solution…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Film on Dangers of Asian Sex Gangs Commissioned by Government Agency… Then Withheld for Three Years

A specially commissioned film warning young girls of the dangers posed by Asian sex gangs is yet to be seen in schools after almost three years, it was revealed today.

My Dangerous Loverboy, a 20-minute drama ordered by UK Human Trafficking Centre in 2008, was intended to be seen by 13 and 14-year-old girls across Britain.

It tells the story of an under-age girl whose older Asian boyfriend lures her into parties where drug and alcohol abuse are rife before selling her for sex with older men.


Sheila Taylor, chief executive of Safe & Sound Derby, told The Times newspaper that ‘the bureaucracy and technical problems associated with this project have been deeply frustrating for all involved.’

The UKHTC has denied the delay was due to fears about racial sensitivities.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Harry Potter Actress’s Brother Jailed for Attacking Her Afshan Azad Fled the Family Home the Day After the Attack

The brother of a Harry Potter film actress who assaulted her because her boyfriend was not Muslim has been jailed for six months.

Manchester Crown Court heard Ashraf Azad launched a “prolonged and nasty” attack on Afshan Azad, who played Padma Patil in the hit films.

She was punched repeatedly and dragged by her hair after being overheard talking to her Hindu boyfriend.

Mr Azad, 28, pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

The court previously heard how Miss Azad, 22, was branded a “prostitute” and “slag” and was told: “Marry a Muslim or you die.”

The actress fled the family home in Longsight, south Manchester, through a bedroom window after the attack on 21 May 2010.

The actress, who now lives in London, had pleaded with the court not to jail her older brother.

Ashraf Azad pulled his sister’s hair and attempted to throttle her But Judge Roger Thomas QC said there were no good or proper reasons to suspend his sentence of six months.

“This persistent attack was accompanied by serious and very hurtful abuse and threats,” he told the defendant.

“It must have been a miserable and frightening experience for your sister which, she suggested, lasted for about three hours or so.

“The background to this offence lies in the concern that you, and perhaps other family members, had about Afshan’s relationship with a young man who was not of the Islamic faith.”

He added: “This is a sentence that is designed to punish you for what you did and also to send out a clear message to others that domestic violence involving circumstances such as have arisen here cannot be tolerated.”

The court heard that Miss Azad was in her bedroom, talking on her mobile phone and was overheard by her brother in the bathroom, who assumed she was speaking to her Hindu boyfriend.

Thrown across room

Richard Vardon QC, prosecuting, said Azad confronted his sister who ended the call, hid the phone and sim card and then sat on her bed before the defendant barged in and began shouting at her.

“He then grabbed her hair and threw her across the room,” the prosecutor said.

“She began crying and asked him to stop. The defendant began punching her with clenched fists to her back and head area.”

The court was told that her brother’s wife, Sonia, who also lived at the house, came into the room and tried to push him away.

Mr Vardon said the actress was pushed on to her father’s bed, with her brother shouting: “Sort your daughter out! She’s a slag!”

Azad then grabbed his sister by the neck and began to throttle her, the court heard.

“She struggled to breathe and was scared for her life,” Mr Vardon added.

The victim’s mother and sister-in-law then entered the bedroom as the family discussed what to do with her, the court was told.

Marriage list

Mr Vardon said her father, Abul, 53, suggested sending her back to Bangladesh for an arranged marriage, while her mother called her a “prostitute”.

Miss Azad’s father sent her to bed, but she fled the house the next day.

Miss Azad’s character, a witch in the same year as Harry Potter at Hogwarts, first appeared in Harry Potter and the Goblet Of Fire.

She also features in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final film of the saga, which is being released in two parts.

           — Hat tip: 4symbols[Return to headlines]

UK: Is This David Cameron’s New Role Model?

Slim(ish), reasonably fit and admirably uxorious, David Cameron cannot often be confused with Henry VIII. But in an unprecedented row, almost unnoticed outside the Westminster village, Britain’s leading constitutional watchdogs and a procession of parliamentary committees are lining up to accuse his government of grabbing arbitrary power on a scale worthy of the tyrannical Tudor himself. The outcome of this debate will determine the future of environmental protection in Britain — for if the “greenest government ever” succeeds, the bodies supposed to safeguard our wildlife and countryside, control pollution, and work out how to combat climate change are expected to become submissive shadows of their present selves. And business is likely to be deprived of the regulatory certainty that it needs above above all else.

“In nearly 40 years of observing government, I have never seen an effort to steal power from Parliament and the public on such a colossal scale,” says Prof Tom Burke, a close adviser to three successive Conservative environment secretaries in the 1990s. The subject of his ire is the Public Bodies Bill, now undergoing a stormy passage in the House of Lords.

Writing in the leading technical journal, ENDS, Prof Burke accuses ministers of deliberately setting out “to destroy the ability of any public body to offer independent opinions”. One result will be to “give this, or any future government a nuclear deterrent to aggressive regulatory action on the environment”. But neither the effects of the Bill, nor the opposition to it, stop there — for the whole of British public life will be affected.

The House of Lords Constitution Committee, which is packed with particularly distinguished peers charged with checking the propriety of legislation, says it “strikes at the very heart of our constitutional system”. Lord Judge, the appropriately named Lord Chief Justice, has called for “very careful reconsideration”; one of his predecessors, Lord Woolf, has pronounced the Bill to be “of grave concern to the judiciary” and “constitutionally wrong”. The Lords’ Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee says the Bill would give ministers “unacceptable discretion to rewrite the statute book,” and only yesterday the Human Rights Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament called it “wholly inappropriate”…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: It Was Selfish — And Wrong — Of Lady Warsi to Give That Speech

David Cameron has just lost his press spokesman. How much longer will he have his party chairman? On Thursday, as this newspaper exclusively previewed, Lady Warsi gave a speech at Leicester University about “Islamophobia”. Although she spoke about the policy of the whole Government — “We get God” was one of the large claims she made on behalf of startled colleagues — the speech was not cleared in advance with Downing Street. When I searched for the text yesterday morning on the Conservative Party’s website, there was no trace of it. Lady Warsi is a remarkable woman. She is outspoken, brave and good, in a soundbite-y way, on television. She has striking dark looks and flashing eyes. She is Islam’s version of the once-famous Edwina Currie. Like Mrs Currie, she turns out to be a bit of a liability. Lady Warsi’s speech made some good points about the marriage of faith and religion. She drew interesting lessons from our history about how the problem of “divided loyalty” — once so much feared in relation to Catholics and Jews — can be overcome. But she nevertheless took her stand in a wrong and dangerous place. She accused the British middle class, sitting round our dinner tables, of being Islamophobic, and she denied the distinction between extreme and moderate Muslims. She seemed to say that, if you were extreme, you could not, by definition, be Muslim. To call any Muslim an extremist, therefore, amounted to a libel of the faith.

It was selfish of Lady Warsi, in her position, to speak thus. Think of the uproar if a Jewish or Catholic chairman of the Tory party had used his role to complain about how everyone else treats his co-religionists. It is not Tory policy to say these things, yet Lady Warsi said them. She seems to see herself as the trade union leader of British Muslims: she can criticise them, but no one else can.

Worse still, Lady Warsi was embroiling herself in a vital, contested area of Government policy on which her leader is about to take a grip. Over Christmas, David Cameron reflected on the confusion within government about how to deal with the phenomenon which Lady Warsi says does not exist, Islamic extremism, widely known as Islamism. He has always had a straightforward approach: the extremists are, as he puts it, poisoning young minds. Government has to stop them. This involves innumerable aspects — border control, terrorism laws, education policy, policing. Some of it is about law, some about who gets public money, some about attitudes. But what became clear to the Prime Minister in his brief Chequers-assisted repose, was that the Government’s response is a mess, and must change.

Although Mr Cameron’s style is extremely different from that of Margaret Thatcher, he learns from her work methods. He rises at 5.45 and spends two hours on his red boxes, scribbling on the documents when he wants something done. He has recently been scribbling furiously on this subject of security and extremism, making his will known. In the next fortnight or so, he will set out his views in a big speech. Within Government — among ministers, Coalition partners, officials and agencies — there is an endless battle on this matter. It is a fight between those who think that the way to win is to empower nasty people to control even nastier ones, and those who believe that the best way to deal with extremism is to confront it and reward only those who reject it. It is an argument between those who think that only violence need concern us, and those who believe that it is from bad ideas that bad actions spring.

The former view, held by Charles Farr, the MI6 man who is now the head of the Government’s Office of Security and Counter-Terrorism, is essentially the old imperialist one — do a deal with the bloodthirsty natives (the Mau-Mau, Makarios, the IRA are well-known examples) to buy a quiet life. The latter view believes that Britain cannot treat its own inhabitants colonially: we can only be a free nation if we live by common values, and we must exclude those who reject those values. Mr Cameron is in this latter camp; it is part of his idea that “we’re all in this together”.

The battle will be visible, on Wednesday, in the result of the counter-terrorism and security powers review. Control orders, to make life easier for Nick Clegg, will be done away with by name, but not in fact. The curfews so much attacked by the civil liberties lobby will be replaced by “compulsory overnight stays”. It isn’t easy to see the difference between the two…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Jail for Mother Who Bound and Gagged Addict Teenage Daughter to Stop Her Buying Drugs

A mother has been jailed after tying up her teenage daughter in a desperate bid to stop her leaving the family home to buy drugs.

Julia Saker launched the last ditch bid to save 19-year-old daughter Tabitha after finding out she was as drug addict and was on her way to meet her dealer.

Mrs Saker and Tabitha’s ex-boyfriend Christopher Francklin — who spotted Tabitha climbing out of a window and shoved her back into her room — tied her arms together with tape and shoved a sock in her mouth.

The pair were arrested in October last year after Tabitha dialled 999 and police heard her screaming as she was tied up and forcibly restrained.

Julia Saker was jailed for 12 months yesterday and Franklin for 18 months after Judge Adele Williams told them they had ‘detained a young woman who was subjected to violence and humiliation’.

Canterbury Crown Court heard how Mrs Saker, who is in her 50s and lives in Dover, Kent, was ‘desperate’ to save her daughter from drug addiction.

Francklin, who is in his 20s, spotted his former girlfriend climbing out of the window of her home and forced her back into her room believing she was sneaking out to buy class A drugs, believed to be heroin.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Prejudice Warning is Backed by Muslim MP

Scotland’s only Muslim MP last night backed warnings from a Tory cabinet minister that Islamophobia has become more widespread and socially acceptable in Britain.

Baroness Warsi, minister without portfolio and Conservative Party chairman, said yesterday that feeling against the religion had now passed what she described as the “dinner table” test, suggesting it was now seen as ordinary family conversation.

She also warned depictions which divided followers into moderates and extremists were helping to foster intolerance.

Anas Sarwar, who represents Glasgow Central and is the son of Mohammad Sarwar, the first Muslim to be elected to the House of Commons in 1997, said that the peer’s comments were to be welcomed.

Asked about the “dinner table test”, the Labour MP said: “There is no doubt that there has been a rise in Islamophiobia in this country since 9/11, the war in Iraq and the 7/7 bombings.

“We have got to make sure that we are not complacent about this, just as we should not be complacent about any other kind of racism.”

Mr Sarwar agreed with her it was dangerous to divide Muslims into moderates and extremists.

“It is wrong to divide any community into two groups or any other number of groups”, he said.

But he said he thought there was still a place for the word “extremist”.

His comments came as Downing Street appeared to move to distance the Prime Minister David Cameron from her remarks.

It was reported that the keynote speech had not been passed by Number 10 before parts of it were leaked to the media.

The Prime Minister’s official spokeswoman declined to say that her remarks had Mr Cameron’s backing, saying only that he thought it raised an interesting debate.

She added the Tory leader was “on record warning against extremism” and did not suggest he would be changing his language in the light of Baroness Warsi’s comments.

They come just days after she was criticised by the right-wing in her party for accusing them of failing to campaign hard enough in last week’s Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election.

The Muslim Council of Britain has also welcomed the intervention.

Secretary general Farooq Murad said: “We particularly welcome Baroness Warsi’s acknowledgement of the role the media plays in this process of normalising Islamophobia, as well as the counter-productiveness of categorisations such as moderate and extremist Muslims.

“Islamophobia is the number one concern of all Muslims in this country, illustrated recently by an internal survey of issues conducted by the MCB of its affiliates who prioritised rising anti-Muslim hatred as the biggest concern for the community.”

Baroness Waris was making the speech at the University of Leicester.

Leaked extracts included her saying: “In the factory, where they’ve just hired a Muslim worker, the boss says to his employees: ‘Not to worry, he’s only fairly Muslim’.

“In the school, the kids say: ‘The family next door are Muslim but they’re not too bad’.

“And in the road, as a woman walks past wearing a burka, the passers-by think: ‘That woman’s either oppressed or is making a political statement’.”

           — Hat tip: 4symbols[Return to headlines]

UK: Police Are Investigating Complaints an Anti-Islamic Article Printed in a Church Magazine, After Complaints From the Muslim Community.

Muriel Clark’s controversial piece published in Hildenborough Keys magazine branded the religion a threat to Christianity.

The 80-year-old also asked people to take a stand against the “ever-increasing Islamisation of our country”.

Nasir Jamil, president of the West Kent Muslim Association, has made a formal complaint to Kent Police.

Mr Jamil, who is also a Southborough town councillor, said an officer has been in touch with the Imam at Tunbridge Wells mosque, Yasser Balesaria.

He added: “We’ve launched a formal complaint to the Equality and Human Rights Commission on the basis that this article incites religious hate.”

He has also called for the editor of the St John’s Church-produced magazine, Nick Hawkins, and the Rev John Chandler, to resign from their posts.

Muslims have been encouraged to raise the issue with Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark at his Pembury surgery tomorrow.

A petition will also be handed over to Mr Clark…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Shocking Injuries of Grandmother, 92, Kicked and Beaten on Her Own Doorstep — by Thug Who Fled With Just £30

A 92-year-old grandmother was kicked in the head and beaten black and blue on her own doorstep… for just £30.

A callous thug pounced on partially-blind Edith Brickhill as she let her dog out at home.

He kicked and punched her in the face before snatching the cash from her purse and fleeing — leaving her battered and bleeding on the ground outside her home in Moston, Manchester.

Sitting at her hospital bedside, daughter Janet Boswell had just one question: ‘Why?’

Edith — who has now been targeted by yobs three times in just over a year — has been left scared for her life and terrified to return to the house she has lived in for more than four decades.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Suspicion of Islamic Teaching is a Cause of Increasing Disquiet in Britain

There does seem to be growing disquiet at the increasing influence of the Islamic world-view. Perhaps this is due to a greater understanding of what the Koran and hadith (Muslim traditions) teach. For example, those within Islam who might call for reform, tolerance, and a “dialogue between civilisations” are easily silenced by the authority of the Koran, which has many verses rousing believers to wage jihad against unbelievers.

Suras 2:228 and 4:34 make it clear that women are inferior to men and must be obedient to them. Anti-Jewish sentiments are frequently found in Islamic religious texts and apostates are to be executed, according to sharia.

Further, the attitude of pious Muslims to non-Muslims can be seen in the Arabic word kafir, which goes beyond the neutral English word unbeliever. A kafir is to be shunned and Muslims are not to socialise with such people (Koran, 3:28)…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Teachers Told Terrified Primary School Children World War III Had Broken Out Then Led Them to Cellar and Set Off Fireworks and a Siren

Stunned primary school children were told in their morning assembly that World War III had broken out.

Staff at St Mary’s RC, Bacup, Lancashire, came up with the idea to help children understand what it was like to live during wartime and decided to make them believe war had been declared.

The terrified youngsters were also told that London — where some of them have relatives — was under bomb attack.

They were led to a cellar when an air raid siren sounded and a firework was let off to simulate a bomb.

Headteacher Mike Richards announced in the morning assembly but abandoned the project at around 1.30pm after some of the children became upset. He has since apologised for the exercise.

He said some of the pupils had since had nightmares.

The project began with a radio playback of Neville Chamberlain’s 1939 war address.

Mr Richards admitted teachers were ‘very upset’ that pupils had been left distressed and suffering from nightmares.

One parent said her children, in particular her daughter who is in Year One, were ‘terrified’.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Tony Blair ‘Regrets’ Iraq Dead in Chilcot Grilling

Tony Blair has said he “regrets deeply and profoundly the loss of life” during and after the 2003 Iraq war.

The ex-PM said his refusal to express regret for the decisions that led to war at his first appearance before the committee had been misinterpreted.

But his words were met with cries of “too late” from the public gallery.

Mr Blair also urged the West to stop apologising for its actions in Iraq and warned of the threat from Iran, during a four-hour grilling by the inquiry.

Asked whether what had happened in Iraq had made the risk from Iran and other countries developing nuclear weapons worse, rather than better, he said: “I don’t think so.”

‘Wretched policy’

Mr Blair, who is now a UN Middle East peace envoy, said there was “a looming and coming challenge” from Iran.

“I am out in that region the whole time. I see the impact and influence of Iran everywhere. It is negative, destabilising and it is supportive of terrorist groups. It is doing everything it can to impede progress in the Middle East peace process, and to facilitate a situation in which that region cannot embark on a process of modernisation it so urgently needs.

“And this is not because we have done something. At some point — and I say this to you with all the passion I possibly can — the West has got to get out of what I think is this wretched policy, or posture, of apology for believing that we are causing what the Iranians are doing, or what these extremists are doing. The fact is we are not.

“The fact is they are doing it because they disagree fundamentally with our way of life and they will carry on doing it unless they are met with the requisite determination and, if necessary, force.”…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Terror Suspect Abid Naseer US Extradition Approved

A judge in London has approved the extradition to the US of an alleged al-Qaeda operative accused of planning attacks in the UK and America.

Abid Naseer, who has denied being involved in terrorism, was told by Westminster Magistrates’ Court that he should stand trial in the US.

The 24-year-old Pakistani was among 11 men held in 2009 accused of a plot in Manchester.

Lawyers for Mr Naseer say they will appeal against the ruling.

District Judge Quentin Purdy approved the US’s application for extradition and the case will now go to the home secretary for approval.

The suspect, who wore a brown shirt in court, stroked his beard and showed no emotion as the judgement was read out. Asked by Judge Purdy if he understood that he could appeal, he replied: “Yes sir, thank you.”

Mr Naseer originally came to the UK on a student visa and studied in Manchester and Liverpool. In 2009, he was arrested on suspicion of being a key player in an alleged plan to attack unspecified targets in Manchester.

He, along with the other men, was released without charge.

The home secretary’s subsequent attempt to deport Mr Naseer to Pakistan was blocked by the courts on the grounds that he could be tortured.

But in July last year, the US said it wanted to put Mr Naseer on trial for his part in alleged plots to plant bombs in the UK, New York and Norway.

The US said that that Mr Naseer was operating under the direction of al-Qaeda and was the UK contact in a broad international network, allegations he denies.

Mr Naseer’s possible extradition is unlikely to happen until after the European Court of Human Rights has ruled on a string of similar terrorism-related extradition cases…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: The Christian Hotelier Found Guilty of Gay Bias Looks Set to Lose Her Home and Asks: So Who’s Really Being Persecuted?

Christian hotel owner Hazelmary Bull has certainly had her faith tested to the limit this week.

Yesterday, she was planning to make a four-hour round trip to visit her desperately ill husband Peter, 71, in hospital, where he is recovering from a triple heart bypass and valve replacement surgery.

How, she fretted, was she going to tell him that they were teetering on the brink of financial ruin? That there was little hope now of hanging on to the Cornish guesthouse they’d owned for 25 years; the home they’d poured not only their life savings into, but also their heart and souls. In the end, 66-year-old Hazelmary just couldn’t bring herself to do it.

On Tuesday, Peter was undergoing a nine-hour operation at the exact moment his wife of 47 years was sitting in Bristol County Court waiting to hear their fate.

In a landmark ruling, which will have far-reaching implications for many Christians in Britain, Judge Rutherford ordered the Bulls to pay civil partners Martyn Hall, 46, and Steven Preddy, 38, £1,800 each in compensation for refusing to allow the couple to stay in a double room at their hotel.

The gay couple, IT workers from Bristol, sued the Bulls for £5,000 in damages under the Equality Act (Sexuality Orientation) Regulations 2007, after they were turned away from seven-bedroom Chymorvah House, near Penzance, in September 2008.

The Bulls argued that, as devout Christians, they let their double rooms only to heterosexual married couples and that their beliefs prevented them from allowing same-sex couples to share a double bed — although gay couples could stay in single or twin rooms.

This week, however, the judge ruled that the Bulls’ actions amounted to direct discrimination, on the grounds of sexual orientation, as there was ‘no material difference between marriage and civil partnership’.

Their lives are now in turmoil. Hazelmary is adamant that she and Peter will not compromise their religious beliefs, despite the court ruling. As a result, they have two options — face prosecution again by refusing to book double rooms to gay civil partners, or close the business.

And if they close the business, which is already in debt, then they can’t afford to stay in their home.

‘I don’t want to tell Peter. I want to hold back for a little while, because he’s so ill,’ says Hazelmary, whose husband suffered complications after surgery. ‘He doesn’t know because the hospital has kept him sedated for two days.

‘The uncertainty of the future would take Peter down. He doesn’t cope well with stress.

‘I feel so upset. I don’t want us to leave Chymorvah like this. It feels like we are being driven out.

‘We have put everything into it and if we lose it we’ll be left with nothing. We’ll have no money to buy a new home and who will give us a mortgage at our age?’…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: What Kind of Dinner Parties Do You Go to, Baroness?

Baroness Warsi has always struck me as a thoroughly modern Muslim. She wears her faith lightly and has no truck with militant Islam.


So why has she chosen now to claim that prejudice and bigotry against Muslims is widespread in Britain?

In politics, as in comedy, timing is everything. With the inquiry into the London Transport terrorist attack reminding us daily of the atrocities committed in the name of Allah, not to mention the recent revelations about gangs of Muslim men targeting and raping filthy infidel whores on the streets of British cities, Sayeeda Warsi has hardly picked the most opportune moment to accuse the rest of us of raging ‘Islamophobia’.


Sayeeda even has a pop at the media, accusing us of dividing Muslims into ‘moderates’ and ‘extremists’. In a sense, she’s right. It is impossible to write about Islamic terrorism without including prominently a caveat about ‘the vast majority of peace-loving Muslims’.

Newspapers bend over backwards to distance the headbangers from mainstream British Muslims. It’s good manners, as well as good business.

So sensitive are the authorities to accusations of ‘Islamophobia’ that even when Muslim gangsters of Pakistani origin are found guilty of raping white teenage girls, the police go out of their way to insist ludicrously that there was ‘no cultural, racial or religious’ motive — despite all the evidence to the contrary.

That’s because we realise that our Muslim neighbours are as appalled as everyone else at the antics of the sociopaths who dedicate themselves to hatred and murder in the name of religion.

Most of the Muslims I know are from Pakistani or Turkish backgrounds. What they have in common is that they all identify as Londoners. Then again, I’m fortunate to live in a part of the world where people of all races and religious persuasions rub along well.

The same can’t be said of some neighbourhoods in towns and cities, especially in the North of England, where the indigenous population has been supplanted by a hostile Muslim monoculture.

It is an incontrovertible fact that a sizeable number of Muslims pursue a separatist agenda and simply refuse to integrate into British society. Or that many mosques and madrassas in this country play host to extremist preachers of hate who aim to brainwash impressionable youngsters into joining the global jihad.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

WikiLeaks: US Courted Dutch Muslims After Theo Van Gogh Murder

An all-expenses-paid study trip to the US: that was the offer to a number of prominent Dutch Muslims following the killing of controversial filmmaker Theo van Gogh in 2004. Now WikiLeaks documents reveal that these trips were part of a concerted effort by Washington to win the hearts and minds of Dutch Muslims. Among them was the current Mayor of Rotterdam, Ahmed Aboutaleb.

Nordin Ghoudani was one of those fortunate enough to be offered such a trip after being invited for a number of conversations at the US Embassy. Now that he is aware of being a cog in the wheel of US policy, he tells Dutch broadcaster NOS that he looks back on the trip with mixed feelings.

“The knowledge that Washington, and former president George W Bush, insisted on these trips… yes, that puts things in a different perspective.”

Poorly integrated

On 2 November 2004, the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh at the hands of a radical Muslim sent shock waves through the Netherlands. Van Gogh had collaborated with politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali on the film Submission, a fierce indictment of the position of women in Islam. The US authorities examined the situation and came to the conclusion that the Netherlands was home to the most poorly integrated Muslim community in Europe.

The Dutch Muslims were described as strongly anti-American, an attitude that Washington was keen to change. Diplomats were ordered to seek contact with leading members of the Muslim community. They organised Ramadan dinners and offered study trips to the US for the select few. It was all done with the aim of cultivating greater understanding for the US and America’s views.

Nordin Ghoudani describes how it worked.

“I had a couple of discussions. We were invited, together with a number of Muslims. Eventually I was also selected to take part in a programme in the US, the Edward Murrow Programme. Yes, that took me to America for a couple of months.”

Equal footing

The programme Nordin Ghoudani refers to is an American study programme for foreign journalists. There the Muslims were courted by the Americans. One of the participants, Ahmed Larouz, praises the Americans’ egalitarian approach as something that might serve as an example to many Dutch politicians.

“I have to be honest: the conversations were always positive and took place on a very equal footing. I think they were better than some talks with other political parties in the Netherlands.”

One year after the launch of its charm offensive, the US Embassy in The Hague reported that the number of Muslim contacts being maintained had risen from 50 to 131. And diplomats say that number is still growing…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Will No-One Shed a Tear for Belgium?

20 January 2011 Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Frankfurt

A country that doesn’t exist anymore doesn’t need a government anymore either. Is the Belgian political crisis a portent of the shape of things to come in Europe? asks the FAZ.

Dirk Schümer

For over 200 days now Belgium’s politicians have been trying in vain to put together a new government. Can the country do without a central authority? Amid the ongoing euro crisis, can Europe easily ride out a power vacuum in Brussels of all places? Or will the monarchy valiantly leap into the breach? Actually, none of the above.

Even the wiliest negotiators around can’t seem to come up with a mutually acceptable compromise anymore to unravel the old Gordion’s knot of power-sharing between the central government and the Flemish and Wallonian parts of the country. The situation has reached a total impasse. Not only experts in constitutional law, but even hardened Belgian citizens are asking what elections are held for in the first place if those elected can’t even form a functional administration.

Embittered Belgians relish the prospect of two new nations

Given the choice, many would prefer the pugnacious voting system depicted in Asterix in Corsica. In the comic book take on the Mediterranean island, the ballots are thrown into boxes, which are promptly flung into the sea. Then there’s a punch-up and the toughest pugilist gets to be chief. Such a democratic free-for-all would probably be necessary if the Flemish employers association were to have their heart’s desire: a strong government with a mandate to reform the state so as to secure sound economic policies, a balanced budget and workable solutions for the future of the job market, unemployment benefits and pensions.

Most Belgians would probably only snigger sardonically at this wish list. The fact is the infighting political establishment is so far from addressing any of those issues that they have long since openly begun talks to split up the two parts of the country for good.

More and more embittered Belgians relish the prospect of two new nations at Europe’s administrative core, while the neighbours are rubbing their eyes in disbelief. Hasn’t a nation whose French speakers let its Dutch speakers bankroll them on a mammoth scale, even while brazenly ignoring Flemish culture and history, lost its raison d’être?

EU bears a striking resemblance to Belgium

How to run Europe’s capital — an historically Flemish and now mostly French-speaking city wedged in between Wallonia and Flanders — in nuts-and-bolts terms of transport, schools and urban planning: that is the subject of the most convoluted passages in the various draft compromises, all of which have foundered on the privileges of the French-speaking community.

Looking at this Kafkaesque muddle, it’s hard to believe suchlike trifles could end up tearing apart the lively capital of a multilingual, multicultural economic zone stretching from Lapland to the Canary Islands, from Ireland to the Danube Delta. How can Europe consider itself a bastion of linguistic pluralism and cultural openmindedness when militant Francophonie is banging away at its ideological drums on the EU capital’s borders? And how are Cypriots and Turks, Irish and Britons, Catalans and Castilians, Basques and Frenchman, South Tyroleans and Italians, Hungarians and Slovaks, Latvians and Russians ever to come to terms if the Belgians bury the great diversity project after nearly 200 years?

Without any real democratic mandate, Belgium handled its turn at the EU presidency [second half of 2010] like clockwork — what with a Belgian, Herman van Rompuy, in pole position as European Council president. And that’s no coincidence. With its inscrutable federal power-sharing and language accords, the country has bred a species of administrators who are savvy, infinitely patient, and quite at home in the ginormous engine rooms of the EU deal-making factory. In a way, the EU bears a striking resemblance to this Belgium.

A mise-en-scène of symbolism and spectacle

Apparently the EU doesn’t keep strong nation-states together, but wobbly constructs, as can be observed in real time in fast-eroding countries like Greece or Ireland that are now run de facto by EU cost-cutting committees. Does that go to show that, in this age of automated administration, a weak state doesn’t need a government anymore, just some transfer payments? Are politicians nothing but limelight hogs for the show business of electioneering and press conferences?…

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


Serbia: Germany, Russia and Italy Main Partners in 2010

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, JANUARY 17 — Serbia’s main trade partners in 2010 were Germany, Russia and Italy, who between them covered a third of all of Belgrade’s foreign trade.

According to the institute for market research (IZIT), foreign trade with Germany reached 2.5 billion dollars in the first eleven months of last year, while the figure stood at 2.4 billion euros with Russia and 2.3 billion with Italy.

Exchange with Russia and Italy grew by 16.2%, while the rate with Germany fell by 2.2% because of the lower amount of imports from the country and an unfavourable currency exchange.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Three Killed as Albanian Police Clash With Protesters

Three people have been killed in the Albanian capital Tirana during clashes between police and thousands of opposition supporters.

An estimated 20,000 people rallied outside government buildings calling on the conservative government to resign.

The protests follow the resignation of deputy prime minister Ilir Meta who is at the centre of a fraud scandal.

The socialist opposition accuses the government of corruption, abuse of power and rigging the last election.

Albania has been in political deadlock since the opposition rejected the result of the 2009 elections.

“Unfortunately, three of the civilians have died,” Alfred Gega, deputy director of Tirana’s Military Hospital, told reporters. He said one victim had a gunshot wound to the head and the other two had been shot in the chest from close range.

It was not clear who had carried out the shooting.

More than 30 protesters and 17 policemen were wounded. A civilian and a policeman were in a critical condition, Mr Gega added.

Witnesses said a section of the crowd threw rocks at the police who responded with tear gas and water cannons.

Some protesters also threw stones from the top of a pyramid-shaped building near the office of Prime Minister Sali Berisha and set light to a police car and other vehicles.


Following three hours of clashes, protesters dispersed after appeals for calm from President Bamir Topi and Socialist Party leader Edi Rama.

Police in riot gear then took control of the main streets and television footage showed officers fanning out through the main boulevard, chasing stray protesters and beating some with truncheons.

There were no immediate reports of arrests.

Mr Rama said that despite the violence, the government should heed the message from the protest.

“We shall continue our struggle in a determined way, because the way out is clear — either a free Albania for all, or keep the people subdued under the boot of barbaric power,” he said.

The US embassy, the EU and regional group the OSCE issued a joint statement expressing “deep regret” for the violence…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Collapsing Churches Prompt Protests in Egypt for New Law on Church Construction

by Mary Abdelmassih

(AINA) — Unusually bad winter weather in Upper Egypt all last week focused attention once again on the controversial restrictions on church building. The rainy weather caused roofs of dilapidated churches — which have been waiting for years to receive construction permits — to collapse.

Much of the on-going sectarian strife in Egypt is related to the ability of Christians to build churches. Most human rights organizations in Egypt have called on the Egyptian government for the last 15 years to promptly adopt “a unified law governing construction of the houses of worship.” believing that this law would eliminate more than 90% of the sectarian tension.

Presently church building in Egypt is still partly governed by the Hamayouni Decree of 1856, and the 1934 el-EzabI Decree that stipulated 10 conditions that must be met prior to issuance of a presidential decree permitting the construction of a church. The conditions include the requirement that the distance between a church and a mosque be not less than 100 meters, the approval of the neighboring Muslim community, the number of Christians in the area and whether or not the proposed church is near the Nile, public utilities or railways. Copts view these regulations as confirmation of their Dhimmi or second-class citizenship status.

After the November 2010 parliamentary elections, Copts kept getting mixed messages about the long awaited “law on places of worship,” which was promised to be introduced to Parliament this session. On the opening session of the new parliament, however, President Mubarak did not introduce the church building law.

A heated debate took place in parliament on January 5 between Shura member Dr. Mofeed Shihab, Minister of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, and Dr. Refaat Al-Saeed, chairman of Al-Tagamo’h Party, who talked of the necessity of adopting the places of worship law. Al-Saeed was rebuffed by Mr Shihab, who said what he is asking for will “Give rise to discord and sectarian strife, because the number of churches built in the era of President Mubarak has exceeded what has been built in all previous periods.”

Four days later the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) said it was considering a unified law on places of worship for Muslims and Christians. However, the final draft of the bill has yet to take shape.

On January 17, Dr. Mostafa El Fekki, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Shura Council, said that the law on places of worship will not be adopted due to procedural considerations, pointing out that this law opens the door to sedition in the community, and may encourage a Muslim to build a mosque on an area of 100 acres just like some of the monasteries for Christians do. He believes that this situation could only be solved by a presidential decree or by new legislation repealing the old and starting anew.

“They cannot keep giving us excuses as if we are mentally retarded,” said Coptic activist Mark Ebeid. “Gone are the days when we could be pacified with hollow promises, honeyed rhetoric, and citizenship rights which are never implemented.”

In 2005 President Mubarak delegated authority to the country’s 26 governors to grant permits to expand or rebuild existing churches. But this has not alleviated the problem.

Last week thousands of Copts staged peaceful rallies to protest local governors’ decisions to halt their church permits, or to order demolition of parts of their new churches, under pretexts of deviations in the the blueprints of the church drawings. “It all boils down in the end to the emergence of a dome in the construction,” says activist Wagih Yacoub.

In the Governorate of Minya, more than 5000 Copts in Maghagha staged a sit-in because the tent in which they have been using as a church since March last year collapsed due to the profuse rain on January 17. They called on the Governor of Minya to issue the rebuilding permit for the Diocese of Maghagha Church, which was demolished to be replaced by a new one. However, since March 2010, the situation has come to a standstill. Because after demolishing the buildings, the Governor insisted that for a new diocese to be built the Bishop has also to demolish his 45 square meter home and “should find somewhere else to sleep” (AINA 8-26-2010).

During the Feast of Epiphany on January 19, Maghagha Copts demonstrated and held banners inside the soggy tent, saying that “come rain, come heat, nothing will stop us from praying.”

During the feast, Anba Agathon, Bishop of Maghagha called on the government to abolish the Hamayouni Decree. “We are in the 21st Century , and the laws of Ottomans when they were occupying Egypt were all revoked by the state except for the Hamayouni Decree. As citizens we demand the revocation of the Ottoman law concerning our places of worship. We cannot accept that it should remain any longer.”

Also in the Minya Province the roof of el-Amodein Evangelical church in Samalut collapsed on January 19 because of heavy rain. Pastor Sameh Wasfi told Copts United that some 1500 youth have staged a sit-in in the church, angry as the church had applied for a renewal permit five years ago without any progress. He said that a number of state security officers promised to complete the permit procedures for demolition and rebuilding of the church as soon as possible. The church also serves as a village school.

In the Governorate of Beni Suef thousands of Copts protested ten days ago inside the newly-built church in Ezbet Gaffer, Al-Fashn, after a decision by the city’s administration office to demolish the church’s dome, citing that its builders did not adhere to the licensing conditions, as the Presidential Decree came with no dome. The church was built years ago and was developing cracks in its walls, but Al-Fashn Diocese asked for a permit for demolishing the old building and replacing it with a new one, which would serve three villages. The Governor intervened to pacify the Copts and sent the drawing to Cairo to see the possibility of amendments.

Only two months ago a similar situation took place at the new Coptic Church of St. Mary and St. Michael’s, in Talbiya, Giza, which ended with deadly consequences for Copts and a huge human rights scandal for the government. State security forces opened fire with live ammunition and used tear gas on women, children and youth who were present at the church, in order to halt construction of the church and demolish the building. Upon seeing a dome being erected, the governor of Giza and the local authorities sent at dawn on November 24 nearly 5,000 security forces, which surrounded the church, shot at the congregation with live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas The clashes between security and the Copts resulted in the death of three Coptic men from bullet wounds and a four year old child from tear gas being thrown inside the chapel. More than 79 Copts were wounded, some severely, and 157 people were detained, including women and children, and were all charged with premeditated murder of a police officer, assaulting security officers, rioting, theft and destruction of public property (AINA 11-30-2010).

           — Hat tip: Mary Abdelmassih[Return to headlines]

Fears Grow in Tunisia of Islamist Revival

Even as Tunisians celebrate the fall of totalitarianism after 23 years, for many there is a shadow looming over their new-found freedom — the apprehension of rising religious fundamentalism and its effect on human rights.

There was nothing particularly dramatic about Friday prayers in Tunis yesterday, the first since the fall last week of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. But as worshippers left their prayers, outside some of the mosques espousing conservative Islam, groups of men were distributing leaflets warning against unbelievers.

The Ben Ali regime presented itself as a bulwark against terrorism, making Muslim fundamentalists the target of its draconian laws. But now the religious parties say that they, too, should be allowed to play a part in the new political landscape that has emerged since the collapse last week of Ben Ali’s rule.

Ennahda, or “Awakening”, an Islamist movement, was banned under Ben Ali with its leader, Rachid Ghannouchi, exiled in London. Now, as its members take part in daily protests in the centre of Tunis, the party is seeking to be legalised.

Hamida Raidi, involved in a heated debate during a march after speaking out against political Islam, said: “We don’t want to exchange one repressive government for another. We have seen what Islamist parties do when they start influencing politics. This will be bad for Tunisia and especially bad for women.”

Hamid Jebali, a senior Ennahda official, blames a variety of people, from secularists with agendas in Tunisia to the Western media, for presenting a false image of Islamists. “It is the newspapers and television in Europe and America who are trying to frighten people by saying that ‘the Islamists are rising’, and they are being helped by people in Tunisia who are basically against religion,” he said. “But we are not the Taliban, or al-Qa’ida or Ahmadinejad. We shall submit to the vote of the people when the time comes.”

Ennahda believes that political momentum is on its side. Mr Ghannouchi says he will return to his homeland, after two decades, at the opportune moment while the movement’s deputy leader, Ali Laraidh, has held talks with the Prime Minister, Mohammed Ghannouchi (unrelated to the Islamist leader) over the possibility of being part of a government of national unity.

“To do that, we need to have our party legalised,” said Mr Laraidh, who was imprisoned for 14 years under the old regime for “plotting against the state”.

The belief that Islam should play a part in shaping the new political landscape has some unexpected adherents in Tunisian society. Sahar Ben Younis, 20, a student dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, said: “Of course we are not saying that there should be things like burkas here. But Ben Ali put a lot of people who held the true values of Islam in prison and we need people like them in politics. At least they will not be as corrupt as the old regime.”

However, Samir al-Taibi, a member of the opposition PDP party and a trade union activist, urged caution: “Ennahda say they are not extremist, they say that they believe in democracy and tolerance. Well let us seen their manifesto, let us see how they will react if someone criticises fundamentalist Islam. We would also like to see their positions on armed struggle and Islam. There are a lot of questions to be answered.”

Those espousing armed struggle have urged Tunisians not to be “seduced by democracy”. Al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb declared this week: “The time has never been better. This is the time to go to training camps and wage the decisive battle against the Jews, the Crusaders and their agents.”

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Islamist Movement at Forefront of Tunisia’s Protests

Tunisia’s underground Islamic movement has emerged at the forefront of nationwide protests against its leadership and appears set to emerge as the strongest political force in elections.

Al-Nadha is lead by the London-based exile Rachid Ghannouchi who has said that he will return to the country as soon as the threat of life in prison is lifted.

Mr Ghannouchi has the best claims to an electoral following in Tunisia after the disintegration of the ruling party. He has wide core support at the country’s universities and his followers secured 17 per cent in 1989’s election — an unrivalled following in Tunisia’s rigged electoral system.

Senior lieutenants of the fundamentalist leader were yesterday prominent in the thousands strong crowd that demanded the resignation of all ministers — including Prime Minister Mohammed Ghanouchi — tainted by service to ousted dictator, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

Sadouk Chourou, a Tunis lawyer, has been seen organising groups within the protest.

Ali Laraiedh, the Al-Nadha vice president, said that party activists of the banned movement had been mobilised.

While repeating the group’s message, he gives only guarded signals about the agenda the group would pursue if it tastes power. Mr met with the prime minister during the week to set out Al-Nadha’s demands.

“The people have not yet achieved everything they could have done. We want a government that is able to make a democracy and that means the prime minister must go,” he told The Daily Telegraph. “It is too early to talk about what happens after the election but we will move like other Islamic parties, just that we will be a little more emancipated.”

Tunisia’s strong record of promoting women’s rights and liberal stance on social issues such as the sale of alcohol is vulnerable as its political system is torn apart by the popular uprising.

Sana Bel Mkaddem, a Tunis resident, said she was fearful her rights would be eroded after elections. “We need to know what the parties represent. Most Tunisians are open-minded and view religion as a private issue but because of the past of this country, I’m worried that we could see the Islamisation that we’ve seen in other countries.”

Traditional views retain a strong following that Al-Nadha could capture in the elections. “The youth need jobs but they also don’t understand the faith,” said Sara Abid, 65, a restaurant owner. “I hope our country can bring them back to God.”

While the party leaders have refused to outline specific plans Ennadha supporters have expectations of change. “I want my fiancé to wear a veil but she says she can’t because the university rules don’t allow covered women in the classrooms,” said one unemployed Tunis man. “I think women can work but must follow the family’s wishes.”

           — Hat tip: 4symbols[Return to headlines]

Morocco: Eyoon Incidents Caused by Anger Over Corruption

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JANUARY 14 — According to the parliamentary investigation committee on the incidents in November in the Moroccan city of Eyoon, which left 12 dead and 350 police injured, the reason for the popular protests was widespread anger against the city government, which was accused of being incapable of satisfying the growing needs of the poor and unemployed. Local groups of criminals rode the wave of popular discontent, reports the website of Al Arabiyya, transforming the social and economic requests of the people into actions of violence, sabotage and destruction. The spread of corruption and favouritism for building and work permits caused the people’s frustration, which transformed into acts of violence, according to the report.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Ben Ali’s Relatives and Militants in Libya

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JANUARY 19 — Relatives of Tunisia’s former president Ben Ali and numerous members of his presidential guard have reportedly found refuge in Ad Jamil, a Libyan town about thirty kilometres from the Tunisian border. Al Jamil is also where the commander of the presidential guard, General Ali El Seriati, arrested in Ben Guerdane shortly before reaching the border, had reportedly been heading. Reports were in Maghreb Confidential, which said that after these arrivals a state of emergency had been declared in Bengazi.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Italy’s Foreign Minister: Europe to Assist Country

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JANUARY 19 — Tunisia should not be left alone during this period of transition, while it is vulnerable to “exploitation by Islamic fundamentalists”. This reference to a danger of a fundamentalist drift in the post-Ben Ali era comes from a speech made to the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Italian Parliament by Foreign Minister Franco Frattini. Mr Frattini spoke of Italy’s intention to support the North African country during its present crisis on the international stage.

“There are doubtless those who have an interest in destabilising North Africa in the name of Islamism and we have to count on civil society and on the country’s youth who are not interested in Islamism and fanaticism”. Frattini, revealed that he would be calling for a ‘5+5’ Ministerial meeting (between the countries of the northern and southern shores of the Mediterranean) to discuss the Tunisian situation, stressing how it was important “to support the process of democratic change under way in Tunisia,” adding that it is necessary “to respect, assist and encourage this phase,” while guaranteeing “a bilateral financial assistance package” and promoting “regional initiatives and meetings with Maghreb countries”.

Frattini said that during the forthcoming EU Council of Ministers scheduled for January 31, Italy would propose “sending a high-level EU mission” and to then “examine a broader outlook for collaboration between the European Union and Tunisia”. In the view of the Italian Foreign Minister, the EU could take the initiative in freezing the assets held by former president Ben Ali, “further to bilateral initiatives taken by individual countries where the assets are held”. While admitting no knowledge of whether any assets traceable to Ben Ali were being held in Italy, Frattini pointed out that “Switzerland has done so. France is doing so. I think there should be a European decision”. And so, according to Frattini, “significant initiatives of European financial assistance will be needed, measures to promote circulated, targeted immigration, where this might be necessary”. And it is therefore necessary to encourage “further integration with Tunisia, which is the only country to have a free trade agreement with Europe”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: EU Considers Freezing Bel Ali Family’s Assets

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, 20 JANUARY — Among the options of the EU’s table is also freezing the assets of the family of former Tunisian President Ben Ali, said EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton’s spokesperson, Maja Kocijancic. “The union has the tools to freeze assets,” added the spokesperson, who pointed out how the Commission has already underlined that the new government must be as “inclusive” as possible, giving a “clear role” to the opposition. The debate between the EU countries on the measures — sanctions and anything other action against Ben Ali and in favour of the process of democratisation, is currently taking place. The EU Council on Foreign Relations set to meet on January 31 will be the first group to make any decisions.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tunisia’s Sudden Press Freedom

Tunisian media have witnessed an abrupt and jarring change: After years of oppressive censorship, all restrictions have vanished. Newspapers report freely, journalists work through the night — and it seems as if every Tunisian wants to talk politics.

“Castles in France, Bank Accounts in Switzerland, Real Estate in Argentina!” screams a headline on the front page of a Tunisian newspaper. “We’ve begun the hunt for Ben Ali’s riches,” reads the subtitle on Wednesday’s edition of Al Chourouk, which means “dawn.”

A competing paper wants to attract readers, too. It shows a photo of a person going up in flames. The story tells about the jobless young academic who set himself on fire and sparked a month of street demonstrations that brought down the Tunisian government last week — only to inspire similar self-immolations across the Arab world. The foreign suicides are meant to start more revolutions, according to the newspaper As Sarih, which roughly means “unvarnished” or “the raw truth.”

Both of Tunisia’s largest papers have undergone a radical change since last Friday. A portrait of the country’s former leader, Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali, used to adorn their front pages. Today they’ve turned on him with a vengeance.

‘All the Dams Have Broken’

Ben Ali’s escape from the country last weekend was zero hour for Tunisia’s freedom of the press. The next important step was taken by the interim government. “The Information Ministry will not be re-staffed,” declared Tunisia’s new interior minister, Ahmed Fria. “The press is free.” Tunisia leaped from the bottom of annual rankings of media freedom in the Arab world to the very top. Lebanon — until now — was traditionally the best place for journalists to work in the region.

“All the dams have broken,” says a bleary-looking Shekir Bisbes. Since the regime collapsed the radio reporter for Tunisia’s most popular private broadcaster, Mosaique FM, has hardly been home. The station has switched from reporting three or four news bulletins per day to round-the-clock live coverage. Political analysis and reports from the street alternate with call-in shows: The hunger of listeners for information is as keen as their eagerness to chat. After 23 years of enforced silence, Tunisians like nothing more than talking politics.

Many staffers at Mosaique FM don’t go home even to sleep. “Our technicians have moved here,” says Bisbes, showing a conference room full of mattresses…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Caroline Glick: Israel as the Banana Republic

Two documents reported on this week shed a troubling light on the US government’s attitude toward Israel. The first is a 27-page FBI search warrant affidavit from 2004 targeting then senior AIPAC lobbyist Steve Rosen, published Wednesday in The Washington Times.

The second is WikiLeaks leaked secret Sate Department cable from October 2008 signed by then secretary of state Condoleezza Rice directing US officials to spy on Israel.

Both indicate that in certain quarters of the American government Israel is viewed as at best a banana republic and at worst an enemy of the US…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

Gaza: French Foreign Minister Alliot-Marie Contested

(ANSAmed) — GAZA, JANUARY 21 — French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie has been harshly contested today by Palestinian protesters on her arrival in Gaza. The news was reported by local sources who say that the car in which she was travelling was surrounded by demonstrators and had shoes thrown at it.

It appears that the impromptu expression of anger is linked to the commitment undertaken by the Minister to do everything in her power to help Israeli soldier Ghilad Shalit who has been held prisoner by Hamas in Gaza since June 2006, in total isolation from the world. During a visit to Jerusalem yesterday, Alliot-Marie met the parents of the soldier, who also has French citizenship.

With this demonstration, the Palestinian demonstrators wanted to remind Alliot-Marie that thousands of their fellow countrymen are detained in Israel, and they also long to be released.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Blair Criticises Obama’s Iran Policy

Former British premier Tony Blair criticised US President Barack Obama on Friday for being too soft on Iran, urging the West to deal with a “looming and coming challenge” from the Islamic republic. Speaking at Britain’s inquiry into the war in Iraq, he rejected suggestions from the panel that the 2003 US-led invasion there had actually empowered neighbouring Iran and encouraged it to pursue its nuclear programme.

“I say this to you with all of the passion I possibly can — at some point the West has to get out of what I think is a wretched policy or posture of apology for believing that we are causing what the Iranians are doing, or what these extremists are doing,” he said. “We are not. The fact is they are doing it because they disagree fundamentally with our way of life and they’ll carry on doing it unless they are met by the requisite determination and if necessary, force.” Blair said that in his current job as a Middle East peace envoy he could see the “impact and the influence of Iran everywhere.” “It is negative, destabilising, it is supportive of terrorist groups and it is doing everything it can to impede progress in the Middle East peace process,” he added.

Blair cited the example of a speech by Obama in Egypt two years ago in which he reached out to the Muslim world.

“President Obama — not President Bush — goes in March 2009 to Cairo, right in the heart of Islam. He makes a speech where he says effectively ‘put aside the Bush era, I’m now offering the hand of friendship, you, Iran can come into partnership, you are an ancient, proud civilisation,” Blair said.

“What’s the response he gets? They carry on with the terrorism, they carry on with the destabilisation, they carry on with the nuclear weapons.

“At some point we have to get our head out of the sand and understand they are going to carry on with this.”…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Iran Nuclear Talks Start in Turkey

Six world powers began two days of talks with Iran today aimed at curbing its nuclear programme, but there is little hope of a breakthrough at the Istanbul meeting.

The two sides sat down with no sign they were ready to budge from widely differing positions revealed after a first round of talks in Geneva last month.

The talks opened a day after the Guardian revealed that US officials believe Iran now has the “technical ability” to make highly enriched uranium, an essential step towards building a nuclear bomb.

According to a leaked US diplomatic cable, a US representative told a meeting of international nuclear experts: “Iran had now demonstrated centrifuge operations such that it had the technical ability to produce highly enriched uranium (HEU) if it so chose”.

Not all western governments share the US conclusion but, if Washington’s fears are true, it suggests international sanctions have failed to deny Iran the knowhow required to make a nuclear bomb.

The six countries involved in the talks in Turkey — the five permanent UN security council members, the US, Russia, China, Britain and France, plus Germany — would like to kickstart discussions focused on freezing Iran’s uranium enrichment programme, but Tehran has repeatedly said that is not up for discussion.

Instead, Iranian officials are pushing an agenda that ignores its nuclear programme but covers global disarmament, Israel’s suspected nuclear arsenal and Tehran’s concerns about US military bases in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East.

“We want to discuss the fundamental problems of global politics at the Istanbul talks,” said the Iranian chief negotiator, Saeed Jalili.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad suggested any push to restrict the meeting to Iran’s nuclear programme would fail.

“They employed all their might and tried hard to prevent Iran from going nuclear,” Iranian state TV quoted Ahmadinejad as saying, “but Iran went nuclear and there will be no way back.”

A diplomat familiar with the talks says the six powers will seek to nudge Iran toward acknowledging the need to reduce worries that the Islamic republic might turn its enrichment programme to making weapons. He asked for anonymity because the talks are closed.

Tehran denies such aspirations, insisting it only wants to make nuclear fuel. Concerns have grown, however, because its uranium enrichment programme could also make fissile warhead material. There are also worries about Iran’s nuclear secrecy and its refusal to co-operate with attempts to investigate suspicions that it ran experiments related to making nuclear weapons.

Iran came to the table warning that it was in no mood to compromise. “Resolutions, sanctions, threats, computer virus nor even a military attack will stop uranium enrichment in Iran,” Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, told Iranian state TV…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Iran: Military Strike Would Not Stop Our Nuclear Program

Comment by Iran IAEA envoy comes as Tehran denies it is to offer a new uranium-swap deal in upcoming P5+1 nuclear talks in Istanbul.

Iran will be able to carry out uranium enrichment even in the case of a military attack on its nuclear facilities, Iran’s nuclear envoy said in Moscow on Thursday.

“We are faced with a very serious threat and so we have had to take measures to protect our facilities. We have provided for another facility in Fardo near Qom,” Ali Asghar Soltanieh, envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told reporters.

“It is, so to speak, a reserve facility, so that if a site is attacked, we can continue the enrichment process,” he said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Last Christians Ponder Leaving a Hometown in Iraq

HABBANIYA CECE, Iraq — The last Christian man in town goes to church each morning to clean the building and to remember the past. Romel Hawal, 48, was born in this town in Anbar Province back when most of the population was Christian. Now, he said, his 11-year-old son knows no other Christians and has no memory of attending a church service.

“When my son swears, it is on the Koran, not the Bible,” Mr. Hawal lamented.

His wife wants to leave town or leave the country, joining what is becoming an exodus of Christians from Iraq and throughout the Middle East. But Mr. Hawal said he felt an obligation to stay. And he found support from an unlikely source.

“What gives me courage,” he said, “is that my Muslim brothers say, ‘Don’t leave.’ “

Here in Habbaniya Cece, residents talk about their town as an oasis of ethnic and religious harmony, where Christians and Muslims, Arabs and Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites all lived together for decades without friction.

On one short stretch of rutted road near Mr. Hawal’s church, Mary Queen of Peace, are an Assyrian church, a Sunni mosque, a Shiite mosque and another, older, Sunni mosque.

“This is the best place you will find in Iraq, because we have Christians and Muslims together,” said the mayor, Sabah Fawzi, a Muslim, who stopped by the church to look in on Mr. Hawal. “When my wife and daughters want something, sometimes they come to the church to ask God for it.” Advertise | AdChoices Advertise | AdChoices Advertise | AdChoices

But even on this street the buildings tell a more complicated story. The Assyrian church, St. George the Martyr, lies empty and hollowed out after an explosion in 2005. The Shiite mosque, Husseiniya Habbaniya, is a brand-new building but has no imam, or cleric, because of attacks against Shiites in the region, including a 2006 bombing that damaged the previous building.

These and other attacks shattered the mutual interdependence that had flourished for much of the past century, residents say.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

S. Arabia: Hospitals Only for Women Requested, Doctors Included

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JANUARY 18 — The segregation of the sexes in Saudi hospitals must be total and, as a result, female patients must be treated exclusively by female doctors, but all staff involved with their treatment, from paramedics to administrators, must also be women.

This is the proposal put forward in Saudi Arabia, not only by theologians, but also by around a hundred doctors and representatives of civil society, who have backed the request made to the Ministry of Health and to Parliament.

Reporting the news, the Al Arabiyya website said that the request had been made by 40 male doctors, 30 female doctors and 30 researchers and experts in Sharia law.

Signatories say that the petition is the result of years of experience by doctors, especially women, who are acutely aware of male dominance in medical and bureaucratic procedures, and have complained of abuse, obstacles to their access and development, and even incentives. Yusef Al Ahmed, one of the religious signatories of the petition, says that the aim of separating the sexes in hospitals is to put an end to the suffering of women, whether they are on the medical staff, workers or patients. Al Ahmed added that women should not suffer the embarrassment of being treated by male doctors.

A survey carried out recently in hospitals in Saudi Arabia has shown that most women are in favour of the idea of total separation, while a minority of male doctors support a mixed environment. Almost every hospital has a “black book” detailing reports of abuse, attacks and blackmail, Al Ahmed claims. Some hospitals have even been forced to set up CCTV cameras in lifts but, despite this, the problem is far from being solved. Al Ahmed says that there is a team of administrators ready to separate the sexes, at no extra cost, within just 45 days.

“Creating hospitals for women alone is not difficult, but it is necessary to identify the objective of the separation,” adds Adnan Al Bar, a professor of ethics of medicine at the King Abdelaziz University.

Despite the ability of women, Al Bar says, in some cases the intervention of a male doctor is advisable. The female doctor’s benevolent disposition means that she will opt for the easier solution, such as birth by Caesarean section, while the male doctor tends to respect the natural course of treatment.

Women prefer to be treated by a female doctor, the professor adds, but at the same time, as far as possible, want to be treated by the best. Mujahed Al Hamdan, the director of the only hospital to apply total separation between men and women, in the town of Uneiza, says that the experience of his hospital, where segregation began 11 years ago, can be considered an unmitigated success. Many women even come from other areas to be treated here, he adds.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Stuxnet: Cyber Attack on Iran ‘Was Carried Out by Western Powers and Israel’

The Stuxnet computer virus, created to sabotage Iran’s nuclear programme, was the result of collaboration between at least one Western power and the Israeli secret service, a British cyber security expert has found.

Tom Parker, a US-based security researcher who specialises in tracing cyber attacks, has spent months analysing the Stuxnet code and has found evidence that the virus was created by two separate organisations. The hard forensic evidence supports the reported claims of intelligence sources that it was a joint, two step operation. “It was most likely developed by a Western power, and they most likely provided it to a secondary power which completed the effort,” he told The Daily Telegraph.

The malicious software, first detected in June last year, was almost certainly designed to make damaging, surreptitious adjustments to the centrifuges used at Natanz, Iran’s uranium enrichment site. While he downplayed its impact, the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has confirmed Stuxnet set back his nuclear ambitions. Separate investigations by US nuclear experts have discovered that Stuxnet worked by increasing the speed of uranium centrifuges to breaking point for short periods. At the same time it shut off safety monitoring systems, hoodwinking operators that all was normal. Mr Parker found that this part of the attack must have been conceived by “some very talented individuals”, and the other by a less talented, or more rushed, group of developers.

The element written by the first group, which was activated after Stuxnet reached its target and is known as the “payload”, is very complex, well designed and effective, according to Mr Parker’s analysis. He believes this is evidence of the involvment of a major Western power or powers — potentially including Britain — because they have both the scarce cyber expertise, and access to the tightly-regulated nuclear equipment necessary to test the virus.

In contrast, the way Stuxnet was distributed and its “command and control” features, which allow it to be remotely altered, include many errors and are poorly protected from surveillance. “It’s a bit like spending billions on a space shuttle and then launching it using the remote control from a £15 toy car,” said Mr Parker. His criticisms of Stuxnet’s distribution mechanism, presented this week at the Black Hat computer security conference in Washington DC, are supported by other experts, including Nate Lawson, a computer encryption consultant.

“Either the authors did not care if the payload was discovered by the general public, they weren’t aware of these techniques, or they had other limitations, such as time,” said Mr Lawson…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UAE: Global Pearl Auction in Dubai for 13.5 Mln USD

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JANUARY 18 — The Dubai Stock Exchange hosted two of the largest auctions of pearls in the world in the past days. The total value of the two auctions at wholesale prices, according to newspaper Al Hayat, was around 13.5 million USD. More than a hundred dealers from twenty countries participated in the auctions, from the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

US Condemns Wave of Iraq Attacks

The United States on Friday condemned a wave of attacks in Iraq, particularly three care bombings outside the Shiite Muslim shrine city of Karbala that killed 45 people.

“The attacks in Anbar, Diyala and Karbala were targeted against police recruits, pilgrims, innocent civilians,” State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters, offering condolences to the families of the victims.

“The one in Karbala yesterday was especially reprehensible as it targeted Shia pilgrims practicing their faith. No cause or grievance justifies the murder of innocent people,” Crowley said. Three car bombings in Karbala left 45 dead and up to 150 wounded, as hundreds of thousands of Shiite pilgrims descended on the shrine city for Arbaeen ceremonies, held to mark 40 days since the anniversary of the death of the revered seventh century Imam Hussein. “We stand in solidarity with the people of Iraq in rejecting extremist efforts to foment sectarian tensions and undermine the institutions of Iraqi democracy,” Crowley added…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

South Asia

9/11 Mastermind Did Behead Daniel Pearl: FBI Matches Veins in Terror Chief’s Arms to Those of Killer Seen on Video

The September 11 mastermind who claimed to have beheaded Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl has been proven to be right, according to a new federal investigation.

Khalid Sheik Mohammed, at one time the No.3 in Al Qaeda, had confessed to the 2002 murder of the journalist after his arrest in Pakistan a year later.

But because of the admission by the U.S. government that he had been ‘waterboarded’ while in CIA custody, his confession was not deemed to be reliable.

Now federal agents have compared the veins in his arms to those of the killer seen on video beheading Pearl and concluded it was the same man.

Instead, four men including a British national were imprisoned for the killing although they were not present during the murder.

They were convicted of the killing because Pakistani authorities knowingly relied on perjured testimony and ignored other leads, the report concluded.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Osama Bin Laden Tape Threatens French Hostages if Troops Don’t Withdraw

Osama bin Laden issued a new taped message today calling for the French troops to withdraw from Afghanistan.

The Al Qaeda suggested that hostages will be killed if the President Sarkozy does not withdraw troops from ‘Muslim lands’.

Seven hostages — including five French nationals — have been held in Niger since September while two French journalists captured over a year ago are being held in Afghanistan.

Bin Laden said in the tape: ‘President Nicolas Sarkozy’s refusal to remove his forces from Afghanistan is nothing but a green light for killing the French hostages.

‘But we will not do that at the time that he determines to try and finish off with the repercussions of his position, which will cost him dearly within France and outside of it.’

The audio warned Sarkozy to withdraw troops from ‘our countries’ adding that not doing so would cost the French ‘inside France and outside.’

Bin Laden said ‘with its debt and budget deficit (France) does not need new fronts.’

The audio, passed to Arabic news station al-Jazeera, has not yet been verified.

Seven workers for nuclear energy company Areva and construction firm Vinci who were kidnapped in September in Niger are still being held hostage.

The two companies expatriated all of their employees after the kidnapping.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, an offshoot of bin Laden’s network, claimed responsibility for the abductions.

In Kabul, Afghanistan, two French journalists who were kidnapped in December 2009 are being held.

The exact whereabouts of cameraman Stephane Taponier and reporter Herve Ghesquiere is currently unknown…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Far East

Chinese Dissident Calls for Obama to ‘Imagine’ One of His Daughters ‘Has to be Put to Death, ‘ Just Like Under China’s One-Child Policy

[WARNING: Graphic content]

A survivor of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre in China appealed to President Barack Obama during a press conference on Tuesday to push Chinese President Hu Jintao to end the practice of forcing women to have an abortion as part of China’s one-child-per-couple policy.

“President Obama, we’re speaking to you as the president of this great nation, we also speak to you as a great father for your two beautiful children,” said Chai Ling, who came to the United States in 1990 and founded All Girls Allowed, a Christian organization that helps Chinese victims of forced abortions and sterilization in China and works to end the practices.

“Just imagine, just imagine, among your two beautiful children, all you are allowed to have is one; the other one has to be put to death,” Ling said.

“And President Obama, just imagine, among your two beautiful girls, if none of them would be allowed to live because they are only, and only because they are girls.”

Ling began her remarks by citing chilling statistics about the forced abortion and sterilization policy in China.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Rise of the Hans

Almost 20 years ago, I wrote a book called Tribes that sought to trace the role of ethnicity, race, and religion in economic and geopolitical affairs. At the time, there was some skepticism about the continuing influence of ethnicity; some considered the work, frankly, regressive and racist. Now, however, my thesis from 1992 has really come to fruition. We are living in the age of tribes — and China is just the start.

Such primitive racial instincts were supposed to be long ago passé: We’re supposed to be living in Thomas Friedman’s “flat” world or Kenichi Ohmae’s “borderless world.” By now, supposedly, everyone is increasingly interconnected and undifferentiated. Affairs should be managed neatly by deracinated professionals, working on their iPads from Brussels, Washington, or any of the other “global” capitals. But most people do not really see themselves as members of a large multinational unit, global citizens, or “mass consumers.” Instead the drivers of history remain the essentials: the desire to feed one’s family, support the health of the tribe, and shape the immediate community. The particularistic continues to trump the universalistic. This has only become more evident as our world becomes more multipolar.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Taiwan: Defense Strategy Busted by Chinese Stealth

But U.S. could get arms deals as a result of new threat

Taiwan says its defense strategy has been busted by China’s stealth J-20 fighter and the advances it has made under the radar of either the U.S. or Taiwanese intelligence communities, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

While China’s production and deployment of its new jet isn’t expected for another few years, Taiwanese officials were startled over how Beijing had mastered advanced stealth-shaping techniques.

Taiwanese officials have hinted that the island doesn’t have any defense against the new fighter and currently no means to detect it.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Obama Adminstration Lobbying Honduras to Let Thug Zelaya Back in

The news that President Obama cut off aid to American ally Honduras did not make many headlines. Barack Obama openly sided with Marxists Raul Castro, Hugo Chavez and Daniel Ortega in punishing the government of Honduras.

Last month, “thanks” to a leaked Wikileaks cable, we found out that the Obama Administration knew that Zelaya was a dangerous leftist thug who could not be trusted. But, the Obama Administration sided with the wannabe tyrant anyway at the expense of the Honduran people. He did this to appease Chavez.

But that’s not all. Now the Obama Administration is lobbying Honduras to drop charges against the far left thug and allow him to reenter the country.


Behind the scenes in the Obama administration there appears to be a concerted effort to pressure the democratically elected government of President Porfirio Lobo to dismiss charges of misappropriation of government funds and falsifying documents that are pending against Zelaya. This would open the door for his return to the country, and would be certain to undermine the delicate process of reestablishing democracy and order that is currently taking place in this poor and beleaguered nation.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Denmark: Land of Asylum

Jyllands-Posten, 19 January 2011

“Denmark: prime destination for refugees”, leads Jyllands-Posten. In 2009 refugee status was granted to 48 percent of asylum seekers, nearly double the European average (27 percent), the paper explains. In France the rate is 14 percent, while in Germany, the paper notes, the rate stands at 37 percent. According to Frontex, the EU agency that coordinates intelligence-driven operations at the EU level to strengthen security at external borders, 90 percent of the refugees arriving in Europe come through Greece, then move on to other countries, notably Denmark and Germany — a situation, reports Jyllands-Posten, which is being denounced by the Danish People’s Party. The movement of the far right, which supports the government, fears a “suction effect” that will merely draw in more migrants.

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

Greek Government Applauds Germany’s Decision

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JANUARY 20 — Greece sees Germany’s decision to stop sending back illegal immigrants to Greece as “an important step on the road towards the renegotiation of the ‘Dublin II’ European Union directive, said Labour Undersecretary Anna Dalara.

A statement issued by the Labour Ministry reads that “it is clear that our partners in the European Union have started to understand the problem Greece is dealing with as the main entrance door for illegal immigrants and refugees. The immigration emergency , the effective management of the flow of migrants, the integration of the immigrants who live and work legally in Greece, as well as the fight against racism and xenophobia are key elements in our policies”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UK Can’t Deport Asylum Seekers Back to Greece

Britain was stripped of the power to deport hundreds of asylum seekers yesterday in a far-reaching ruling by European human rights judges.

The judgment condemned the treatment of refugees by Greece and effectively forbade countries from returning asylum seekers there as they are subjected to ‘inhumane or degrading treatment’.

It means that for the first time human rights rules stop Britain from sending deportees to a fellow European Union country.

Greece is visited by nearly two million British tourists each year — and also enjoys the power under EU law to demand extradition of British citizens it suspects of crime within its borders.

An immigration watchdog warned the ruling is likely to mean thousands of asylum seekers will make their way to Britain from Greece, or will say they have come from Greece, because authorities will have no power to return them.

The judgment, by the European Court of Human Rights, will also act as a fresh constraint on Britain’s right to remove individuals considered undesirable.

Under a 15-year-old ruling by the Strasbourg-based court, terrorists and other criminals cannot be sent back to their own countries if the courts consider torture may be used against them.

Britain’s Border Agency stopped deporting asylum seekers who came into Europe through Greece last September in anticipation of the ruling. There are currently 1,300 asylum seekers thought to have come to Britain through Greece who could, under EU rules, be sent back to Athens…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Migration Wave Means a Third of Londoners Were Born Abroad

More than one in three people living in London were born outside Britain, an official analysis showed yesterday.

Nearly half of them have arrived over the past decade in the wave of immigration that began under Tony Blair’s government.

Almost four in ten of all the foreign-born people in the country live in London, the Office for National Statistics said. They make up 34 per cent of the capital’s population.

Around one in six of the population of the capital have arrived in Britain since 2000.

But many regarded as essentially British are defined as immigrants by the study, including Cliff Richard and Joanna Lumley, who were both born in India to British parents.

In most parts of the country, those born abroad are more likely than the British-born to be working in jobs classed as ‘elementary’, the figures from the Labour Force Survey of around 180,000 individuals showed.

Fewer of the population of those born abroad claim state benefits or tax credits than native-born Britons.

Most are Christian by religion, although in Yorkshire and the West Midlands just under a third are Muslim.

The analysis also found that around half the foreign-born population is married, compared with only around 40 per cent of native Britons.

This week official figures showed that workers born abroad took two out of every three newly-created jobs last year.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Italy: Top Court Overturns Catholic Church’s Annulment of 20-Year Marriage

Roma, 20 Jan. (AKI) — The Italian supreme court on Thursday struck down the decision of a lower court which upheld a Church-sanctioned annulment of a 20-year marriage on the grounds that it produced no children.

The Court of Cassation decided ‘not having children’ to be an insufficient reason to annul the marriage of the couple, who are from Italy’s northern Veneto region.

In Italy, church weddings are automatically registered in the town hall, and can be annulled by the Catholic church, although very few couples manage to obtain Church-sanctioned annulments.

Even civil divorce is governed by stringent laws that require a couple remain ‘legally separated’ for three years before the divorce can be finalised.

In this case, the husband did obtain an annulment from the Catholic authority known as the ‘Sacra Rota’ in 2001 and went on to obtain State recognition of the decision in 2007.

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

State Plan Volunteers All to Donate Organs, Tissue

‘You are automatically deemed to have consented’

A plan that is being pushed now in the state of Colorado by two Democratic lawmakers would allow the government to assume that its residents want to donate their organs or tissue.

“The bill changes the organ donation program so that a person is presumed to have consented to organ and tissue donations at the time the person applies for or renews a driver’s license or identification card unless the person initials a statement that states that the person does not want to be considered as a possible organ and tissue donor,” states the summary of the bill posted online by the state’s 68th General Assembly.

Carrying the plan in the state House is Rep. Dan Pabon, a Democrat from Denver, and in the Senate Sen. Lucia Guzman, also a Denver Democrat.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: A Non-Prophet Organization? A Reader Objects to “Prophet Mohammad”

A reader recently objected to our use of the phrase “the Prophet Mohammad” in news stories, saying that he as a Christian did not consider Mohammad a prophet and many other non-Muslims presumably didn’t either, therefore we should not write about him as if everyone agreed he was one. The reader wrote:

I’ve just noticed recently that Reuters is following in the footsteps of AP and AFP in designating the Islamic prophet Mohammad as “The Prophet Mohammad”. I as a Christian don’t consider him my prophet, and neither do, I’m sure, Jews, atheists, Hindus, Buddhists, etc. Why then have all the mainstream news outlets decided to treat us all as if we are Muslims? Rightly, he should be described as “the Islamic prophet Muhammad” rather than “The Prophet Muhammad”.


Robert Basler answered on his reader feedback blog Good, Bad and Ugly. Normally, we simply crosspost religion-related items from other Reuters blogs (such as Front Row Washington or Pakistan: Now or Never?), but I’m not sure all readers know that Good, Bad and Ugly (GBU) is the blog where we answer readers’ criticisms. So now that that’s clear, here’s what the GBU editor posted in “A non-prophet organisation?”:

Reuters uses a wide variety of official and traditional titles and honorifics without endorsing them.

In the political sphere, if a head of state or government uses the title “president,” we use it as well, regardless of whether he or she is elected or appointed or a dictator, or what the journalist might personally think about it. We also refer to kings as kings, even if there are republicans in the country in question who challenge the monarch’s right to be head of state.

In the religious sphere, we use official titles and honorifics that are common in the faith concerned and widely understood across religious boundaries. We refer to Jesus Christ, even though non-Christians would dispute his honorific “the Annointed One.” The same goes for Buddha, a title (“the Enlightened One”) for Siddhartha Gautama that non-Buddhists could also contest.

I think readers understand that we are simply using commonly understood titles. The title “prophet” indicates which Mohammad we are talking about. This has been our style for many years, and does not “follow in the footsteps of AP and AFP.”…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Left-Wing Bias? It’s Written Through the BBC’s Very DNA, Says Peter Sissons

For 20 years I was a front man at the BBC, anchoring news and current affairs programmes, so I reckon nobody is better placed than me to answer the question that nags at many of its viewers — is the BBC biased?

In my view, ‘bias’ is too blunt a word to describe the subtleties of the pervading culture. The better word is a ‘mindset’. At the core of the BBC, in its very DNA, is a way of thinking that is firmly of the Left.

By far the most popular and widely read newspapers at the BBC are The Guardian and The Independent. Producers refer to them routinely for the line to take on running stories, and for inspiration on which items to cover. In the later stages of my career, I lost count of the number of times I asked a producer for a brief on a story, only to be handed a copy of The Guardian and told ‘it’s all in there’.

If you want to read one of the few copies of the Daily Mail that find their way into the BBC newsroom, they are difficult to track down, and you would be advised not to make too much of a show of reading them. Wrap them in brown paper or a copy of The Guardian, would be my advice.

I am in no doubt that the majority of BBC staff vote for political parties of the Left. But it’s impossible to do anything but guess at the numbers whose beliefs are on the Right or even Centre-Right. This is because the one thing guaranteed to damage your career prospects at the BBC is letting it be known that you are at odds with the prevailing and deep-rooted BBC attitude towards Life, the Universe, and Everything.

At any given time there is a BBC line on everything of importance, a line usually adopted in the light of which way its senior echelons believe the political wind is blowing. This line is rarely spelled out explicitly, but percolates subtly throughout the organisation.

Whatever the United Nations is associated with is good — it is heresy to question any of its activities. The EU is also a good thing, but not quite as good as the UN. Soaking the rich is good, despite well-founded economic arguments that the more you tax, the less you get. And Government spending is a good thing, although most BBC people prefer to call it investment, in line with New Labour’s terminology.

All green and environmental groups are very good things. Al Gore is a saint. George Bush was a bad thing, and thick into the bargain. Obama was not just the Democratic Party’s candidate for the White House, he was the BBC’s. Blair was good, Brown bad, but the BBC has now lost interest in both.

Trade unions are mostly good things, especially when they are fighting BBC managers. Quangos are also mostly good, and the reports they produce are usually handled uncritically. The Royal Family is a bore. Islam must not be offended at any price, although Christians are fair game because they do nothing about it if they are offended…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Trial of Therapist Who Tried to ‘Cure’ Gay Man is Halted After ‘Expert Witness Intimidated’

The professional trial of a psychotherapist who agreed to try to ‘convert’ a gay man was suspended yesterday after allegations of attempts to intimidate a key witness.

Supporters of Lesley Pilkington, the Christian therapist who faces being struck off, called in police after they said the expert witness was threatened in several ‘menacing’ phone calls.

They said the witness was warned not to appear at the hearing.

The allegation brought a new twist to the case which has generated fresh controversy over Christian beliefs and the rights of Christians to hold to them at work.

Mrs Pilkington was targeted by a gay journalist who persuaded her to help him change his sexuality. Patrick Strudwick attended sessions with her with a tape recorder strapped to his stomach and then published a critical article about her in the Independent newspaper.

She is now appearing before a professional conduct panel of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and faces losing her accreditation if she is found to have breached its rules.

The Christian Legal Centre, a group that is supporting Mrs Pilkington in the case, said yesterday: ‘Shortly before the hearing, BACP required all witness statements to be passed to them with contact details.

‘Immediately after supplying the statements, an expert witness received several menacing phone calls, threats and intimidation, telling the witness not to attend.’

The organisation has reported the alleged intimidation to police and called for a full investigation. A BACP official confirmed yesterday that the hearing was adjourned.

The ‘conversion’ therapy practised by Mrs Pilkington, 60, is held in contempt by gay lobby groups.

Mr Strudwick runs a campaign called the Stop Conversion Therapy Taskforce, and has said: ‘Every major mental health organisation in Britain and America is opposed to attempts to change someone’s sexuality. There is good evidence not only that it doesn’t work but that it is harmful.’

Mrs Pilkington has treated ten patients over the past decade using a programme called Sexual Orientation Change Efforts. She says that her gay son is among those she has been able to help.

The psychotherapist has said that she was entrapped by Mr Strudwick, who she said approached her claiming he was depressed and needed therapy. She added that she had told him she worked within a Christian and Biblical framework and he had agreed to that.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, of the Christian Legal Centre, said yesterday: ‘Mrs Pilkington deserves to get a fair hearing by her professional body. In this case the homosexual lobby has been extremely militant and sought to silence by threats and intimidation.

‘The only professional, appropriate thing to do today is to adjourn the hearing and for the BACP panel to call in the police to investigate.’

Last night Mr Strudwick said: ‘I could not have known any details about any of the witnesses and I could not have intimidated anybody. The hearing was not adjourned because of any complaint about intimidation but because of all the media interest in the case.

‘The other side are putting out information which is wrong.’

The disciplinary hearing follows this week’s court case in which two hoteliers were ordered to pay £3,600 compensation to a gay couple who were refused a room in their hotel.

Peter and Hazelmary Bull said they were following Christian principles and that only married couples are allowed double rooms in the hotel near Penzance.

Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy, the civil partners who took the Bulls to court under the Sexual Orientation Regulations, denied accusations that they were part of a gay lobby set-up to trap the couple.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]


Afterlife Inflation: Have Jihadists Had to Raise Martyrdom Incentive?

The promise of 70 or 72 virgins upon martyrdom has become a familiar expression in discussions among Islamic extremists, but a recent terror indictment raises the peculiar question of whether the incentive has been increased.

The case involves a man suspected of conspiring with a terrorist network responsible for the deaths of five U.S. soldiers in Iraq. He was arrested Wednesday in Canada, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York.

Faruq Khalil Muhammad, 38, was charged with conspiring to kill Americans abroad and providing material support to a terrorist network that conducted suicide bombings in Iraq, the statement said.

The complaint quotes from wiretaps of conversations between the defendant and the potential suicide bombers he is alleged to having aided.

In one snippet of conversation from March 2009, the defendant is encouraging a reluctant “Fighter 5” who is concerned about his mother. In the course of encouraging “Fighter 5,” the complaint shows an inflation in the promise of virgins after martyrdom.

“May God give you 74 to marry. We want virgins of paradise, not the ones here,” said “Fighter 5,” according to the criminal complaint.

“You come short, brother,” the complaint quotes Muhammad as responding. “God is more generous than that. It’s supposed to be 76.”

The promise of 76 is higher than even the defendant believes is traditionally due. In October 2009, according to the complaint, the defendant explains to his own mother the rewards of jihad.

“Do you know mother that when a martyr dies, he would have 7 characteristics. First, he receives forgiveness for all his sins, then he gets to see his own seat in paradise,” the complaint alleges Muhamad said. “Also he gets to have 70 virgins.”

So is the promised reward of martyrdom suffering from some sort of spiritual inflation? Is 70 no longer enough incentive?

“It seems to be an inaccurate and carelessly cited figure,” said Dr. John Esposito, a professor at Georgetown University and author of The Future of Islam…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Violent Seismic Activity Tearing Africa in Two

The fissures began appearing years ago. But in recent months, seismic activity has accelerated in northeastern Africa as the continent breaks apart in slow motion. Researchers say that lava in the region is consistent with magma normally seen on the sea floor — and that water will ultimately cover the desert.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Why Outreach to the Muslim World is Always Doomed to Failure

Efraim Karsh has a typically incisive analysis of President Obama’s outreach to the Muslim world in the current issue of the Journal of International Security Affairs. It is not foremost our Western culture or democracy or our friendship with Israel or even our military presence in the Arab world that drives the Islamic—and especially Islamist—world to seek our downfall. It is, Karsh argues, our status:

“In the historical imagination of many Muslims, bin Laden represents nothing short of the new incarnation of Saladin, defeater of the Crusaders and conqueror of Jerusalem. In this sense, the House of Islam’s war for world mastery is a traditional, indeed venerable, quest that is far from over. If, today, America is reviled in the Muslim world, it is not because of its specific policies but because, as the preeminent world power, it blocks the final realization of this same age-old dream of a universal Islamic community, or umma.

It is the failure to recognize this state of affairs that accounts for the resounding lack of success of Obama’s policies toward the Middle East and the Muslim World.”

Karsh reminds us just how spectacularly the outreach has failed. Iran has tightened its clenched fist, Turkey has turned further Eastward, the Palestinians have become even more intransigent and unwilling to compromise or even negotiate, Lebanon’s government has collapsed at the will of Hezbollah, Syria and Pakistan have failed to return our gestures of goodwill, and on and on.

Karsh knows his subject; he is the author of Islamic Imperialism, which chronicles the Muslim world’s expansionist history. And his argument holds up—if Muslims were only interested in protecting their home turf, they wouldn’t be attacking erstwhile territories of their empire. And if they were only interested in current and former territories of the caliphate, they wouldn’t be putting their expansionist energies into France, Britain, and Germany.

“We will replace the Bible with the Quran,” London-based Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad is quoting as telling an audience two months after 9/11. Karsh writes:

“This goal need not necessarily be pursued by the sword; it can be achieved through demographic growth and steady conversion to Islam. But should peaceful means prove insufficient, physical force can readily be brought to bear.

Nor is this vision confined to a tiny extremist fringe, as President Obama apparently believes. That much is clear from the overwhelming support the 9/11 attacks garnered throughout the Arab and Islamic worlds, the admiring evocations of bin Laden’s murderous acts during the 2006 crisis over the Danish cartoons, and polls indicating significant reservoirs of sympathy among Muslims in Britain for the ‘feelings and motives’ of the suicide bombers who attacked London in July 2005.”

These are perhaps the two most important—and misunderstood—points about Islamic expansionism. We should by no means believe that all Muslims are violent or want to spread Islam by the sword. But a very large number still want to spread Islam, if that option is available. It is here where the moderates and extremists (two inexact categories, to be sure) meet. That is where the Muslim Brotherhood comes in.

The Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan) operates in 70 countries worldwide, including in countries like Egypt where it is banned.

The Brotherhood was founded in 1928 by Egyptian schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna, with the purpose of establishing Shariah law. As the Ikhwan multiplied and established a foothold beyond the Arab world, it never wavered from its goal of Shariah. Some affiliates of the Brotherhood are terrorist organizations, like Hamas; others are dedicated to stealth jihad, such as the Muslim Association of Britain.

The many Brotherhood front groups in the U.S. fall into the latter category. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is the most well known, both for its ubiquitous media presence and its access to government and law enforcement (though it is becoming increasingly infamous for its campaign to get American Muslims to avoid working with police and FBI, or else be branded as snitches and blacklisted). The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) functions similarly, while the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), based in Virginia, was established by Anwar Ibrahim (currently Malaysia’s outspokenly anti-Semitic opposition leader) as a Brotherhood think tank.

This fits neatly with Karsh’s thesis. And since the Brotherhood’s admitted raison d’etre is to establish Shariah law, Obama’s outreach to the Muslim world is pointless. Islamist leaders around the world don’t care whether the U.S. (or Britain, or France, or Germany, or Spain, etc.) speaks kindly to them, for we must be replaced by any means necessary…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]