Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110227

»Farrakhan: Mideast Uprisings Will Come to US
»Obama to Face Shariah Court?
»The 5 Most Dangerous Muslim Brotherhood Front Groups Working to Destroy America From Within
»US to Honor Jackie Robinson’s Montreal Apartment
Europe and the EU
»Diana West: US Government Community-Organizing — In France
»Erdogan Says Germany Must Support Turkish EU Membership
»Far-Right Politicians Find Common Cause in Israel
»Italy: Police Arrest Six Moroccan ‘Jihadists’ In North
»Italy: Sex is Unsatisfying for One-Third of Country’s Youth
»Italy: Berlusconi Tax Fraud Trial to Resume Monday
»Italy Arrests Moroccans for Inciting Hatred of Pope
»Row Over Treatment of Immigrants Reopens Turkey’s Rift With Europe
»Spain: 110 Kmh Speed Limit Due to Oil Crisis
»Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan Warns of Growing Racism in Germany
»Turkish PM Slams German ‘Xenophobia’, Urges Integration
»UK: Chimpanzee Meat Discovered in British Restaurants and Market Stalls as Officials Uncover Illegal Bushmeat
»Western Arms Helping Libyan Forces Massacre Anti-Regime Rebels, EU Documents Reveal
»Albania: Steinberg: No Parallel With North Africa
»Bosnia: Serbs Guilty of Massacre at Sarajevo Market, Witness Testifies
North Africa
»Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood May Launch TV and Print Arm
»La Russa: Italy-Libya Treaty is Effectively Suspended
»Libya: Gaddafi Won’t Torch Oil Wells Says Son Saif Al-Islam
»Muammar Gaddafi’s Nurse Flees Libya for Ukraine
»Peter Mandelson Defends Colonel Gaddafi’s Clan Saying Tony Blair Right to Make Friends
»Role for the Muslim Brotherhood in a Democratic Egyptian Government
»Tunisia: Police Fires Tear Gas Against Protesters
»Tunisia: Polish Priest Killed for 3,000 Dinars
»Tunisian Prime Minister Gannouchi Resigns
»Turkey’s PM Speaks Out Against Libya Sanctions
»Turkish Businessmen Fear a Spark to Launch Uprising in Morocco
»UK: Academics at London School of Economics Praise Gaddafi in Video
Middle East
»Citizens Not Serfs Can Save Saudi Arabia
»Islamic Indoctrination on U.S. Taxpayers’ Tab
»Low Expectations of Sarkozy’s Visit to Turkey Fulfilled
»Oman: Tear Gas for Stone-Throwing Protestors
»Protesters Set Fire to Government Building in Oman
»Saudi Arabia Ups Crude Output, Over 9 Mln Barrels
»Turkey’s First Islamic Leader Erbakan Dies
»Turkish Parliament Approves Bill for Islamic Production Deal
»Russia Fears the Contagion of Violence in North Africa
South Asia
»India: Five Making Bomb Killed in Explosion
»Indonesia: Police Arrest Another Suspect Over Deadly Attack on Muslim Sect
»Pakistan: Provincial Govt to Review Programmes in Islamic Religious Schools
Far East
»North Korea: Hunger Reaches Alarming Levels as People Resort to Eating Wild Grasses and Dirt
»Worst Crackdown in Years Underway in China
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Sudanese Govt Bans Catholic NGO From Darfur
»Italy: Govt to Host North African Immigrants in Former Military Sites Says Minister
»Lampedusa Mayor’s Order to Prosecutor’s Office
»Netherlands: Attitude to Poles ‘Borders on Discrimination’, Says Ambassador
»Tunisia: NGO Network, Italy to Welcome Arrivals
»UK: Asians More Likely to be Anti-Immigration Than White Britons
Culture Wars
»Italy: Silvio Berlusconi Says “No” To Gay Marriage and Adoption
»Roger Scruton: Multiculturalism R.I.P.
»Terror: ‘Mad’ Zawahiri Advises Use of ‘Any Method’ Against West


Farrakhan: Mideast Uprisings Will Come to US

ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) — Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan believes uprisings happening in the Middle East will come to the U.S. Farrakhan spoke Sunday at the Chicago-based movement’s Saviours’ Day convention.

He’s mentioned Tunisia and Egypt but didn’t offer specifics on his stance on the unrest. Farrakhan visited Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in the 1980s, and he’d been considered a friend of the Nation of Islam.

Farrakhan says leaders should be careful not to attack innocent people who are protesting.

Farrakhan has discussed historical topics and teachings within the movement that embraces black nationalism. That includes his prophecies involving recent UFO sightings.

The Nation of Islam has long believed in an unidentified flying object called “the wheel” or “The Mother Plane.” A Saviours Day session on the topic attracted a standing-room-only crowd.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Obama to Face Shariah Court?

President Obama must embrace Islam as a way of life or face the consequences of a trial under the Shariah Islamic court system, declared British extremist cleric Anjem Choudary.

Choudary, founder and former chief of two Islamic groups disbanded by the British authorities under anti-terror legislation, is planning a Washington protest later this week in which he says he will call on American Muslims to revolt against the country and implement Shariah law.

Speaking in an interview with investigative reporter Aaron Klein on his program on New York’s WABC Radio, Choudary claimed Obama was waging a war against Islam.

“[Obama] has promised all Muslims to be released from Guantanamo Bay. They are still languishing there even though he knows they are completely innocent,” Choudary claimed.

“On top of that, he’s increased the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, so he is a warmonger just as his predecessor was. And thirdly and more importantly,” Choudary said, “the Muslims don’t want democracy and freedom. Democracy and freedom are anathema to Islam and the Shariah.”

Choudary said that at his protest, scheduled to take place Thursday in front of the White House, he will call on Obama and all Americans to “embrace Islam, not only as a religion but as a way of life.”

Choudary continued: “And at the same time, we will be issuing a warning that the presence of U.S. forces and U.S. personnel in Muslim countries, looking out for their interests, at the moment is very, very insecure. I think the Muslims are boiling angry around the world. This is something [Americans] should take very seriously.”

Choudary turned his ire back to Obama, claiming the president was committing “crimes” against Muslims in Iraq and in Afghanistan.

He warned Obama: “I do believe that the only way for him to save himself in this life and in the hereafter is to embrace Islam. Islam will eradicate all his sins; he will be like the day his mother gave birth to him. Otherwise, when we do implement the Shariah, obviously he will face the consequences of a trial under the Shariah court.”

Choudary has publicly stated he believes the flag of Islam will fly over White House. He repeated that contention in his interview with Klein today.

“I do believe that as a Muslim every part of the world will be governed by the Shariah,” he said. “So symbolically the flag of Islam will fly from every single country, every single nation.”

Choudary says he expect thousands to come out to this week’s protest, which he said is being organized with the Islamic Thinkers Society, an extremist group based in New York.

It was not immediately clear whether Choudary will be allowed to enter the U.S.

He currently presents himself as an Islamic lecturer and a leader of Britain’s Shariah Islamic court. He is a founder and former chief of Al Muhajiroun, a British group that sought to impose an Islamic state on the U.K. and that was allied with the goals of al-Qaida…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

The 5 Most Dangerous Muslim Brotherhood Front Groups Working to Destroy America From Within

According to the Team B II Report by a who’s-who of top, national security experts at The Center for Security Policy, “most Muslim organizations in America are controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood or a derivative group.” Meanwhile, the Obama Administration engages in “willful blindness-induced failures” to address “as great a threat as any enemy the nation has ever confronted.”

The Muslim Brotherhood, also known as the Ikhwan, supports armed struggle against non-Muslims and has itself identified the Islamic Movement in America to be a part of the “grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated…”

This “stealth jihad”, referred to as “civilization jihad”, is based in Islamist hatred for Western civilization, hence their unwillingness to conform to American standards of jurisprudence. It is through the “legal, political, military doctrine known within Islam” as Shariah that these organizations are engaging in a non-violent, “for the moment,” campaign to undermine and destroy America.

Here are the five most prominent organizations named specifically by the Muslim Brotherhood as like-minded groups of “friends” in the mission to re-establish a global Islamic caliphate.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


US to Honor Jackie Robinson’s Montreal Apartment

Jackie Robinson’s old Montreal apartment to be commemorated by US government

A quaint Montreal home that served as a sanctuary to Jackie Robinson and his wife while he advanced toward breaking down baseball’s color barrier is being recognized by the U.S. government.

That chapter in American civil-rights history will be celebrated Monday when U.S. diplomats unveil a commemorative plaque at the apartment Robinson and his wife Rachel called home in the summer of 1946.

The event will be attended by the U.S. ambassador to Canada, Montreal’s mayor and Robinson’s daughter as part of Black History Month.

Not too far from the house, Robinson made history at old Delorimier Stadium, thrilling fans of the minor-league Montreal Royals for one season in his final stop before integrating Major League Baseball the next year with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Diana West: US Government Community-Organizing — In France

From Wikileaks, more vital evidence of a US government running amok with malpractice. This time the revelation is that US Embassy in Paris is community-organizing the French umma. The cable, signed by US Ambassador Rivkin, is breathtaking in relating its invasive and patronizing plan — a Minority Engagement Strategy for France, which, last time I checked, was still a functioning Western democratic republic.

Not good enough. Apparently, the United States must, and I quote, “help France realize its own egalitarian goals.” Oh, and guess what measures of success include? “Growth in the number of constructive efforts by minority leaders to organize political support both within and beyond their own minority communities,” and a “decrease in popular support for xenophobic political parties and platforms.”

In other words, US policy is to become actively engaged in both community-organizing the Muslim minority in France and running the anti-Islamization parties out of town.

If I were France, I’d send this US ambassador packing toute de suite.

Via Galliawatch, which explains below that this policy began under George W. Bush:…

           — Hat tip: Diana West[Return to headlines]

Erdogan Says Germany Must Support Turkish EU Membership

A day before he is due in Germany, Turkish President Tayyib Erdogan has harshly criticised Germany’s policy towards Turkish efforts to join the European Union, saying it should support full membership.

“The expectation of the Turkish population is that Germany, as previously under earlier CDU governments, take a leading role within the EU regarding the entry negotiations with Turkey,” Erdogan told Saturday’s edition of the Rheinische Post.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union has most recently proposed a ‘privileged partnership’ between Turkey and the European Union, something Erdogan rejects, and suggested was only a construct for domestic consumption.

“I understand it as a formulation which is only considered for domestic use,” he said. He said the entry negotiations were being slowed down due to purely political considerations.

Erdogan is due to address thousands of people on Sunday in the Düsseldorf ISS Dome — the majority attending are expected to be Turks or people of Turkish heritage. Local police are preparing for protests.

He is then expected to open the computer trade fair CeBIT, at which Turkey is this year’s partner country, with Merkel in Hanover — after having met former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.

Schröder said this weekend, Turkey should no longer be offered the privileged partnership, which he told the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung had no substance. Germany should behave as a lawyer acting in Turkey’s interests — out of its own interests, considering that Germany is Turkey’s biggest trade partner he said.

Erdogan also criticised German integration policies, saying they took no notice of the wishes of the Turkish people concerned.

“I think it successful integration requires the German authorities to no longer deal only one-sidedly but rather to aim for cooperation with Turkish migrants, Turkish civil organisations and the Turkish government.”

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

Far-Right Politicians Find Common Cause in Israel

To the casual observer, the visiting Europeans at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial in the hills above Jerusalem, looked like any other foreign delegation. In the Garden of the Righteous Among Nations, where Gentiles who protected Jews are honored, they laid a wreath and posed for a photo before signing the visitors’ book with the solemn promise: “We will want to make sure that ‘never again’ really means never again.” But these were no ordinary travelers with Zionist sympathies. Rather, on this trip to Israel were a Belgian politician known for his contacts with SS veterans, an Austrian with neo-Nazi ties, and a Swede whose political party has deep roots in Swedish fascism—unlikely visitors to pay their respects at Yad Vashem, perhaps, unless one considers the political currents in Israel and Europe, and the adage that one’s enemy’s enemy is one’s friend.

Only a few years ago, many of Europe’s far-right politicians were openly anti-Semitic. Now some of the same populist parties are embracing Israel to unite against what they perceive to be a common threat. Over the past few years, Europe’s right-wing political leaders have tapped into rising worries over immigration from Islamic countries to predominantly secular and Christian Europe, where the number of Muslims has grown from 29.6 million in 1990 to 44.1 million in 2010, or up to 10 percent of the population in countries such as France. Geert Wilders, an anti-Islam firebrand whose Party for Freedom last July gained a record 24 seats in the Netherlands’ Parliament, likens the Quran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf and has called Muhammad a “devil” spreading a “fascist ideology,” and has vowed to stop Muslim immigration. In Switzerland, 57 percent of voters banned the construction of minarets in a popular referendum in late 2009. In poll after poll, large majorities of Europeans say they worry about the spread of Islam and that Muslims have not properly integrated.

Invited by a right-wing Israeli businessman named Chaim Muehlstein, the December visitors did not compose an official delegation. “Jesus Christ,” fumed a government spokesman anonymously when asked about the visit; Yad Vashem spokeswoman Estee Yaari cringed when NEWSWEEK asked her about the group. “Millions come here every year, and I definitely didn’t meet these people,” she said.

But members of the Knesset did meet with the group, which signed a “Jerusalem Declaration” guaranteeing Israel’s right to defend itself against terror. “We stand at the vanguard in the fight for the Western, democratic community” against the “totalitarian threat” of “fundamentalist Islam,” says the document, which was signed by members of the group that included Heinz-Christian Strache, head of the Austrian Freedom Party; Filip Dewinter, head of Belgium’s ultranationalist Vlaams Belang; René Stadtkewitz, founder of the German Freedom Party; and Kent Ekeroth, the international secretary for the Sweden Democrats, a populist anti-immigration party…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Italy: Police Arrest Six Moroccan ‘Jihadists’ In North

Brescia, 25 Feb. (AKI) — Police on Friday in northern Italy arrested six Moroccan immigrants suspected of membership of an Islamist group aimed at ‘holy war’ against Christians and Jews. One of the suspects was detained in prison while the other five were held under house arrest, police said. All six live in the area around the city of Brescia in the Lombardy region, where they were arrested.

The suspects allegedly belong to Adl Wal Ihsan (‘Justice and Charity’) a highly secretive group. Its alleged members used psychological and physical violence to teach their children to hate western culture and customs as well as all religions other than Islam, according to investigators.

Adl Wal Ihsan was founded in 1973 by Moroccan fundamentalist Abdessalam Yassine Yassin and proselytises in Morocco’s universities. In recent years it has also targeted Moroccan immigrants living in Europe and North Africa. Although Yassin has Republican sympathies, his movement is tolerated in Morocco, a monarchy, but police have stepped up surveillance of the group.

As long ago as November, 2009, Italy’s interior minister Roberto Maroni said the attention of Italian security forces was focused on the northern city of Milan and the surrounding Lombardy region “where the phenomenon of terrorism is on the rise.”

Maroni’s comments came after Italy’s first would-be suicide bomber, the Libyan Muslim immigrant Mohammed Game made a botched attempt to blow up a military barracks in Milan in October 2009.

Game and two accomplices were jailed in July 2010 for the failed bombing, in which he was blinded and lost part of a hand and an Italian soldier was slightly wounded.

Game’s case renewed concern about the integration of immigrants. He had lived in Italy for many years, has an Italian partner and three children.

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

Italy: Sex is Unsatisfying for One-Third of Country’s Youth

Milan, 9 Feb. (AKI) — Sex in the land of Don Giovanni isn’t so good, according to a new survey, which says that about one-third of young Italians describe themselves as unsatisfied by intercourse.

According to a survey of 600 Italians up to 35 years-old conducted by Rome-based gynaecology and obstetrics organisation Sigo, 29 percent of males and 35 percent of females say they are disappointed by intimate activity between the sheets.

The roots of carnal discontent is the Italian youth’s practice of taking alcohol or drugs to relax prior to sex, said the new report, released in Milan.

Sixty-four percent of male respondents and 52 percent of females say alcohol helps sexual intimacy. Eleven percent of men and 13 percent of women say the same thing about drugs, according to the survey.

“It’s self-medication to cure fear of performance and a sense of inadequacy,” that can take the fun out of sex, said Milan-based sex therapist and gynaecologist Alessandra Grazionttin,” in the report released ahead of Valentine’s Day on 14 February.

The result is premature ejaculation for 32 percent of Italian males who are unhappy with sex, while 27 percent have difficulty getting an erection, and 21 percent describe performance worries as a pleasure killer.

A drop in sexual desire ruins sex for around one-quarter of unsatisfied females, while pain during sex accounts for 21 percent of dismay for Italy’s young women.

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

Italy: Berlusconi Tax Fraud Trial to Resume Monday

‘I’m a dictator,’ premier quips

(ANSA) — Milan, February 25 — A trial for alleged tax fraud on the sale of film rights by Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset empire will resume Monday after his lawyers said Friday he will not ask to be excused.

Italy’s Constitutional Court last month partly lifted the premier’s judicial shield, called ‘legitimate impediment’, ruling judges could decide on a case-by-case basis.

The lawyers said no petition for legitimate impediment would be filed Monday.

Monday’s hearing is expected to set a schedule compatible with Berlusconi’s three other trials, judicial sources said.

On Saturday a preliminary hearing into alleged film-sale tax irregularities by another Mediaset unit, Mediatrade, will start from scratch.

On March 11 a trial in which the premier is accused of paying British tax lawyer David Mills for allegedly favourable testimony is set to restart while the fourth trial, for allegedly using an underage prostitute called Ruby and allegedly pressuring police to get her out of police custody, will kick off on April 6.

On Friday a buoyant Berlusconi joked that his centre-left opponents had asked to attend his so-called ‘bunga bunga’ parties.

He also quipped, after receiving an invitation from a Sky TV reporter to a planned one-on-one TV debate with opposition leader Pier Luigi Bersani: “You know I’m a dictator, don’t you”? Asked if he would accept the invite, he replied: “We’ll see”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy Arrests Moroccans for Inciting Hatred of Pope

Six Moroccan men have been arrested in northern Italy on suspicion of seeking to incite hatred of Pope Benedict among Muslims.

Police in the city of Brescia said the suspects had allegedly banded together to stir up religious hatred.

A note was found calling for the Pope to be punished for converting a Muslim journalist to Roman Catholicism.

According to another source, the suspects are not suspected of planning attacks.

Five of the men, who are all Brescia residents, were placed under house arrest while the sixth was taken into custody.

The note found by police urges Muslim immigrants not to integrate into Italian society, Italian media report.

Police said the six were accused of “setting up a group that aimed to incite discrimination, racial and religious hatred, violence and jihad against Christians and Jews”.

The Pope was condemned for converting Egyptian-born Magdi Allam, a former columnist for Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

Mr Allam, an outspoken critic of Muslim militancy and strong supporter of Israel, was baptised by the Pope in March 2008…

‘I’m not saying that you know he is somebody who is throwing himself into some great struggle for democracy.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Row Over Treatment of Immigrants Reopens Turkey’s Rift With Europe

The Turkish Prime Minister yesterday issued a stinging rebuke to Germany over its treatment of Turkish immigrants.

In remarks that highlight the resentment that has built up over the European Union ‘s continued refusal to allow Turkey to join the club, Recep Tayyip Erdogan lambasted the Berlin government’s attempts to integrate its 3.5 million Turkish immigrants, and said policies that encouraged them to renounce their culture and speak German were a “violation of international law”.

Mr Erdogan — in Berlin on the first stop of a visit designed to strengthen his country’s bid to join the EU — delivered his surprisingly outspoken verdict on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s integration drive hours before he was due to address a large gathering of Turkish immigrants in the western city of Düsseldorf last night.

His comments came after a senior member of Ms Merkel’s government sparked an acrimonious row by demanding the negotiations over EU membership be halted because of Ankara’s failure to permit religious freedom. Mr Erdogan told the Rheinische Post newspaper that Germany’s integration policies failed to consider the needs and expectations of its Turkish communities. Addressing the government’s campaign to encourage more Turks to speak German, he added: “Any policy which seeks to revoke the language and culture of migrants violates international law.”

The Turkish Prime Minister’s comments seemed destined to stir up an already heated integration debate in Germany, which culminated last month with a declaration by Ms Merkel that attempts to build a multicultural society had “utterly failed”. David Cameron came to almost the same conclusion in speech delivered in Germany in early February.

Fears that Germany has allowed its Muslim communities to develop “parallel societies” have been stoked by a controversial book entitled Germany is Doing Away with Itself by a former Bundesbank board member Thilo Sarrazin. The book claims that laissez-faire policies have produced an underclass of Muslim underachievers. The book has been widely dismissed as racist, but it has sold more than a million copies since last October.

Ms Merkel’s coalition of conservative Christian Democrats and liberals has publicly advocated policies encouraging Turkish immigrants to speak German ever since. There have also been widespread calls for a tightening of legislation governing the entry of Turkish immigrants who make up the majority of Muslims in Germany.

In an initial response to the Turkish Prime Minister’s comments, the government’s conservative integration commissioner, Maria Böhmer, said that Mr Erdogan should promote integration rather than criticise it. “It would send a strong signal to our migrants of Turkish origin to tell them to learn German and take advantage of the opportunity to send their children to kindergarten,” she insisted.

Mr Erdogan was also unsparing in his criticism of Ms Merkel, who together with the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, has strongly opposed Turkey’s attempts to gain full EU membership. Both advocate that Ankara should be given “privileged partnership” status instead.

The Turkish Prime Minister accused Ms Merkel of using “stalling tactics” in order to placate German voters who are opposed to Turkey’s membership. “Never before have such hurdles been put before an EU accession country,” he insisted. “The Turkish people expect Germany to take the lead role in the EU’s membership negotiations with Turkey.”…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Spain: 110 Kmh Speed Limit Due to Oil Crisis

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, FEBRUARY 25 — The Spanish government has temporarily reduced the speed limit on motorways from 120 kilometres per hour to 110 km/h, in order to “save petrol” and limit the effects on national energy spending of the rise in oil prices, itself the consequence of the crisis in Libya. The announcement was made by the Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Secretary, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, who was speaking in a press conference following the meeting of the Council of Ministers.

The measure will be applied “in a transitory way” beginning on March 7 and will allow 15% of combustibles to be saved. In the meantime, the government will take the necessary steps to modify road signs.

The energy saving plan approved by the government to tackle the escalation of oil prices, with a barrel of Brent now costing 112 dollars, includes a total of half a dozen measures aimed, amongst other things, at increasing the use of public transport, with a 5% drop in the prices of regional train tickets.

The government estimates that every 10-dollar increase in a barrel of oil translates into a 6 billion euro rise in Spain’s energy expenditure. Rubalcaba, meanwhile, rejected reports that Spain is suffering oil and gas supply problems.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan Warns of Growing Racism in Germany

BERLIN — Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned of growing racism and fear of Islam in Germany.

Erdogan told some 10,000 Turkish immigrants in the western city of Duesseldorf that Turkey was concerned about the rise of racism in Germany.

The German news agency DAPD reported that Erdogan asked both Germans and Turkish immigrants to respect each other.

Germany is home to some 2.7 million people of Turkish heritage who first moved here in the 1960s to help rebuild the destroyed nation after World War II.

On Monday, Erdogan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will open the computer trade fair Cebit in Hannover. Turkey is partner nation at the fair this year.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Turkish PM Slams German ‘Xenophobia’, Urges Integration

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday slammed “xenophobia” in Germany as he urged Turkish workers there to integrate into German society, but without abandoning their own culture. “We are following xenophobia in some European countries, primarily Germany, with great concern… We urge politicians and especially the media… not to fan it,” he told a crowd of Turkish immigrants in the west German city of Duesseldorf, in a speech aired on Turkish television.

“Islamophobia is a crime against humanity as much as anti-Semitism is,” the Islamist-rooted Erdogan said.

Germany is home to 2.5 million Turks, mostly workers living in often closed communities, frequently under fire for a poor integration record despite having settled in the country decades ago. A German central banker sparked a controversy last year when he said that poorly educated and unproductive Muslim immigrants made Germany “more stupid”.

“I want everybody to learn German and get the best education… I want Turks to be present at all levels in Germany — in the administration, in politics, in civil society,” Erdogan told the crowd. “Yes to itegration… But no to assimilation… No one can tear us from our culture,” he said.

Erdogan’s remarks were similar to controversial comments he made in nearby Cologne in 2008 that assimilation, which he defined as a person being “forced” to abandon their culture, was a “crime against humanity”. Erdogan said Turkey would issue special documents — “blue cards” — for Turks who abandon their Turkish citizenship in favour of German nationality, a procedure required under German law. “We will recognise the blue card as an identity document and make it easier for you to make transactions at government offices and banks” in Turkey, he said.

On Monday, Erdogan was to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel in Hannover, where the two will jointly inaugurate a technology fair. Germany, together with France, opposes Turkey’s bid to join the European Union and advocates a special partnership for the sizeable mainly Muslim nation, an idea Ankara flatly rejects…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Chimpanzee Meat Discovered in British Restaurants and Market Stalls as Officials Uncover Illegal Bushmeat

Chimpanzee meat is for sale in restaurants and market stalls in Britain, it has emerged.

Trading standards officials uncovered the illegal bushmeat from the endangered species whilst testing samples believed to be seized from vendors in the Midlands.

The meat, which can cost more than £20 a kilogram, is part of a lucrative black market trade that experts describe as ‘rife’ in Europe.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Western Arms Helping Libyan Forces Massacre Anti-Regime Rebels, EU Documents Reveal

The European Union’s latest arms control report, released in January, said member states issued licences for the sale of £293.2 million worth of weapons and weapons systems to Libya in 2009 alone. Britain issued arms firms licences for the sale of £21.7 million worth of small arms, ammunition, ordinance, aviation components, armoured and protective equipment and military electronics. Malta, which issued licences worth £67.9 million, was the largest European arms supplier to Libya in 2009. The sales, which were almost certainly re-exports of equipment bought elsewhere, were entirely made up of small arms — the kind of equipment now being used by Libyan forces to fire on unarmed protesters.

Germany issued licences for the sale of £47e_STnSmillion of military hardware, mainly vehicles and spare parts, France, approved £20.6 million of sales and Belgium a total of £19.04 million. The sales were part of an intense competition between Russian and European manufacturers. Libya began a modest rearmament effort starting in 2004, when the United States and EU lifted sanctions imposed because of its support of terrorist groups.

It ordered an £79 million tactical information and command system from General Dynamics UK, for the crack 32 Brigade commanded by one of Col Gaddafi’s sons, Khamis. It was described in a leaked US diplomatic cable as one of three last-ditch “regime protection units.” Libya also ordered new T-90 and T-72 tanks and S-30 air-defence missiles from Russia, armoured vehicles from Jordan, trucks from the United Arab Emirates, and Milan anti-tank missiles from France. The French also agreed to upgrade Libya’s ageing Mirage F-1 fighters, while Russia contracted to supply Su-30 and S-35 jets — although it is unclear whether these have been delivered…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


Albania: Steinberg: No Parallel With North Africa

(ANSAmed) — TIRANA, FEBRUARY 25 — There cannot be any parallel between the situation in Albania and that in North African countries. This is according to the number 2 of US diplomacy, James Steinberg, who was speaking today in Tirana after talks on the political crisis, which has worsened since the clashes outside the government building on January 21, in which four supporters of the Socialist opposition were shot dead.

“Albania is a democratic country and democracy is evolving,” said Steinberg, who said that he had demanded that Albanian leaders “respect the state of law, the constitution and independent institutions, and the participation of all citizens in the electoral process,” a reference to local elections to be held on May 8. However, the Socialist opposition led by Edi Rama, the current mayor of the Albanian capital, has so far refused to take part in preparations for the elections and has asked for “guarantees” to ensure that the election “does not turn into the same farce as on June 29 2009”, which the opposition believes was rigged. Steinberg declined to comment on the possibility of resolving the crisis. “The actions of Albanian leaders in the coming days will be important,” he said.

America’s Deputy Secretary of State also reiterated his support for the Albanian prosecutor’s office, which is investigating the events of January 21. His visit to the country’s Chief Prosecutor, Ina Rama, who has been regularly accused by the Prime Minister Sali Berisha’s majority of “being involved in the attempted coup organised by the opposition”, was a clear signal. “The Chief Prosecutor repeated her commitment to a far-reaching and impartial inquiry,” Steinberg said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Bosnia: Serbs Guilty of Massacre at Sarajevo Market, Witness Testifies

The Hague, 25 Feb. (AKI) — Bosnia Serbs fired a grenade at Sarajevo’s Markale market in February 1994 in which 66 people were killed and 140 injured, a prosecution witness told the trial of wartime Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic in the Hague on Friday.

Berko Zecevic, an explosives expert and professor at Sarajevo Faculty of Mechanical engineering, said on Friday he volunteered to investigate the attack after he heard a commander of United Nations peacekeepers saying it couldn’t be determined where the grenade came from.

He said he indicated six locations from which the mortar grenade could have been fired, of which five were under Serb control and one on the territory controlled by Muslim forces.

Zecevic said he was ordered to be killed, “not by the Serbs”, because he mentioned the Muslim positions as a possibility, but didn’t elaborate.

Karadzic has been indicted by the tribunal on eleven counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The indictment centres on the shelling of Sarajevo in which up to 12,000 people died and a massacre of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the eastern town of Srebrenica in July 1995.

Karadzic, who is defending himself, claims that Muslim forces staged the Markale attack to blame the Serbs and to trigger international intervention in Bosnia’s 1992-1995 war.

Ending his cross-examination of the witness, Karadzic asked how one grenade could kill and injure so many people. Zecevic claimed it could “and that’s exactly what happened”, he said.

Asked by Karadzic whether the explosive could have been thrown from a roof, or placed on the ground, Zecevic said: “Theoretically it could, if the man was crazy or a terrorist who wanted to kill himself and his fellow citizens.”

“Thank you, you said it better than I would,” Karadzic concluded

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

North Africa

Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood May Launch TV and Print Arm

Cairo, 22 Feb. (AKI) — Egypt’s Islamist Muslim Brotherhood movement is mulling the idea of setting up a satellite television station and several newspapers and magazines, one of its senior leaders, Essam al-Arian, told Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm.

“Freedom of access to information is key to keeping up with the evolution of international media,” said al-Arian, spokesperson for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and a member of its executive bureau.

“Egyptians are fed up with biased media, “ he added.

The Muslim Brotherhood will soon start publishing a monthly magazine called ‘Al-Daawa’, a daily and also a weekly, he added.

“We’re expecting amendments to Egypt’s press laws that will facilitate the publication of new newspapers,” the Brotherhood’s media committee chief Assem Shalabi told Al-Masry al-Youm.

“This is why we are seeking to issue different publications,” he said.

Badr Mohamed Badr, managing editor of “Afaq al-Arabiya” weekly newspaper which was shut down by ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak — said attempts were being made to re-start the newspaper and to launch an electronic version as well.

Egypt is currently being governed by a military council until multi-party elections due to be held in September. Mubarak stepped down on 11 February after 18 days of mass protests against his autocratic rule. He had been in power since 1981.

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

La Russa: Italy-Libya Treaty is Effectively Suspended

(AGI) Livorno- Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa said that “the Italy-Libya treaty is effectively defunct, inoperative, suspended.” He was speaking today in Livorno at a farewell ceremony for the Folgore contingent who will replace the Alpine troops in early April. “For example — said La Russa — the men of the Finance Police, who patrolled on motorboats to check what the Libyans were doing, are now at our embassy.” The consequence of this, “is that we think it likely that many more non-EU citizens will travel to Italy via Libya than before the Treaty.” .

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

Libya: Gaddafi Won’t Torch Oil Wells Says Son Saif Al-Islam

Tripoli, 25 Feb. (AKI) — Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi would never destroy the country’s oil wells — its main source of wealth — to quash the current uprising, Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam told Turkish news channel CNN-Turk on Friday.

“We will never demolish the sources of oil. They belong to the people,” Saif said in an interview translated from English into Turkish on the CNN-Turk website.

He said the Gaddafi family had no intention of fleeing Libya, and claimed the government was in control of the west, south and centre of the country.

“We have plans A, B and C. Plan A is to live and die in Libya. Plan B is to live and die in Libya. Plan C is to live and die in Libya,” Saif said.

He described the anti-government militias as terrorist groups, and said they only had a few hundred men, but had seized tanks, guns, automatic weapons and ammunition.

Anti-government forces have taken control of coastal cities east of the capital Tripoli where fierce fighting was reported to be taking place on Friday. An elite brigade commanded by Gaddafi’s son Khamis was believed to be dug in.

The interview was conducted on Thursday and was due to be aired at 1730 GMT on Friday.

As the world’s 12th-largest oil exporter, Libya has the potential to unsettle the global economy if its violent anti-government protests disrupt supplies.

More than half of Libya’s gross domestic product comes from the oil and natural gas sectors, which also account for more than 95 percent of exports, according to the World Bank.

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

Muammar Gaddafi’s Nurse Flees Libya for Ukraine

Galyna Kolotnytska, a Gaddafi confidante, arrived in Kiev on a Ukrainian defence ministry aircraft that evacuated 185 people

Muammar Gaddafi’s “voluptuous” nurse and close confidante has fled Libya for her native Ukraine as the Libyan leader’s tenuous grip on power weakens by the hour.

Galyna Kolotnytska arrived in Kiev early on Sunday morning on a Ukrainian defence ministry aircraft that evacuated 185 people from the country, Ukraine’s Segodnya newspaper reported.

Kolotnytska, 38, was described in US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks in December as a “voluptuous blonde”, one of Gaddafi’s closest confidantes and possibly his lover.

“Libyan protocol staff emphasised to multiple Emboffs [embassy officials] that Gaddafi cannot travel without Kolotnytska, as she alone ‘knows his routine’,” read the 2009 cable from Gene Cretz, the US ambassador to Libya. He reported rumours that Gaddafi and Kolotnytska, one of four Ukrainian nurses who serve him, might be romantically involved. Cretz was pulled from the country after the document’s release.

Kolotnytska was calm before leaving Tripoli according to her daughter Tatyana, who told Segodnya: “She spoke in a calm voice, and asked that we don’t worry, that she would be home soon.”

Segodnya released a photograph of the nurse, showing a smiling rosy-cheeked woman, her shoulder-length blonde hair held back by sunglasses.

The daughter said her mother had spent nine years in Libya as one of several Ukrainian nurses serving Gaddafi. “For some reason, he doesn’t trust Libyan women with that,” she said.

The WikiLeaks cable provided further insight into Gaddafi’s eccentricities. In addition to revealing Kolotnytska’s existence, it discussed his fear of staying on upper floors, dislike of flying over water and love of flamenco.

Several diplomats and high-ranking officials have already split from Gaddafi, whose violent crackdown on protesters has left at least 1,000 dead and prompted thousands more to flee.

Miriam Elder

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

Peter Mandelson Defends Colonel Gaddafi’s Clan Saying Tony Blair Right to Make Friends

Lord Mandelson launched a shameless defence of the Gaddafi family yesterday, claiming he and Tony Blair were ‘absolutely right’ to make friends with them.

The former cabinet minister even said Saif, the second son of Colonel Gaddafi, should have called him for advice on spinning a positive message before he made a bloodcurdling TV address last week.

Saif’s defiance is an embarrassment to his former British friends, who he courted while studying for a PhD at the London School of Economics. He became friends with Lord Mandelson and the financier Nat Rothschild and the three men have holidayed together at the latter’s Corfu retreat.

Yesterday, while Saif was orchestrating the repression that has cost an estimated 1,000 lives, Lord Mandelson was claiming the playboy was battling for democracy.

The peer confirmed that Mr Blair spoke to Colonel Gaddafi twice on Friday in an attempt to make him change course.

‘Tony Blair has been in touch with Gaddafi over the last two days and I strongly support him in doing so,’ said Lord Mandelson.

He said Mr Blair told the Libyan leader ‘to step back, stop this constant boxing in of yourself, this sort of last stand mentality and allow a proper, internationally-supervised transition to take place toward democracy, to create the space for new political leaders and an alternative government in Libya to emerge’.

That message has fallen on deaf ears. Saif has already pledged his father’s followers will fight to the ‘last bullet’.

Lord Mandelson said: ‘I’d rather have had a couple of minutes with him [Saif] beforehand to say that you know this sort of performance in a very clumsy and ham-fisted way is not going to get you anywhere.’

Senior officials in Downing Street and the Foreign Office have concluded that Saif’s attempts to woo the British establishment with claims he would promote reform and democracy at home were a sham.

But Lord Mandelson said: ‘Superficially he gives the impression of saying you know we’re going to fight to the very last bullet, but he’s also talking about a different Libya emerging and why he doesn’t want the country to be plunged into civil war.

In touch: Mr Blair told Colonel Gaddafi to, ‘step back, stop this constant boxing of yourself’ but the message fell on deaf earsLord Mandelson launched a shameless defence of the Gaddafi family yesterday, claiming he and Tony Blair were ‘absolutely right’ to make friends with them.

The former cabinet minister even said Saif, the second son of Colonel Gaddafi, should have called him for advice on spinning a positive message before he made a bloodcurdling TV address last week.

Saif’s defiance is an embarrassment to his former British friends, who he courted while studying for a PhD at the London School of Economics. He became friends with Lord Mandelson and the financier Nat Rothschild and the three men have holidayed together at the latter’s Corfu retreat.

Yesterday, while Saif was orchestrating the repression that has cost an estimated 1,000 lives, Lord Mandelson was claiming the playboy was battling for democracy.

The peer confirmed that Mr Blair spoke to Colonel Gaddafi twice on Friday in an attempt to make him change course.

‘Tony Blair has been in touch with Gaddafi over the last two days and I strongly support him in doing so,’ said Lord Mandelson.

He said Mr Blair told the Libyan leader ‘to step back, stop this constant boxing in of yourself, this sort of last stand mentality and allow a proper, internationally-supervised transition to take place toward democracy, to create the space for new political leaders and an alternative government in Libya to emerge’.

That message has fallen on deaf ears. Saif has already pledged his father’s followers will fight to the ‘last bullet’.

Lord Mandelson said: ‘I’d rather have had a couple of minutes with him [Saif] beforehand to say that you know this sort of performance in a very clumsy and ham-fisted way is not going to get you anywhere.’

Senior officials in Downing Street and the Foreign Office have concluded that Saif’s attempts to woo the British establishment with claims he would promote reform and democracy at home were a sham.

But Lord Mandelson said: ‘Superficially he gives the impression of saying you know we’re going to fight to the very last bullet, but he’s also talking about a different Libya emerging and why he doesn’t want the country to be plunged into civil war.

‘I’m not saying that you know he is somebody who is throwing himself into some great struggle for democracy.

‘What I do believe, however, is that there are a lot of people both within the family and around Gaddafi who want Gaddafi to take a different course.’ The peer added: ‘I don’t want to exaggerate the conversations I’ve had with him [Saif] or the number of times I’ve met him, but I did last year and the year before.’

Lord Mandelson said he could see ‘nothing wrong’ with helping British companies to access autocratic regimes. He sought to justify his own links by painting a rose-tinted vision of Saif, his brothers and the other henchmen around the Libyan dictator.

‘I also drew the conclusion, not only talking to Gaddafi’s son but one or two others in the elite around Gaddafi, that there is a great deal of discontent about Gaddafi,’ he said…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Role for the Muslim Brotherhood in a Democratic Egyptian Government

The Arab League ambassador to the United States said he would be comfortable with a limited and secular role for the shadowy Muslim Brotherhood in a new democratic Egyptian government.

“They understand the majority [of Egyptians] is not in favor of their ideology,” Ambassador Hussein Hassouna told The Washington Times on Friday.

“The world has to accept them as part of Egyptian society. … I’m not alarmed about their role.”

The Muslim Brotherhood was established in the 1920s to promote the violent spread of a fundamentalist brand of Islam but claims to have abandoned support for terrorism, except against Israel.

Mr. Hassouna, an Egyptian diplomat, noted that the revolution in his country was led mostly by “young, well-educated” demonstrators who risked their lives for democracy, not Islamic jihad.

“This augurs well for the future of Egypt,” he said.

Hosni Mubarak, ousted this month in an anti-government revolution that swept Egypt, had outlawed the Brotherhood, but a military council running a transitional government has been dealing with Brotherhood representatives as part of an effort to prepare all opposition parties for elections.

Mr. Hassouna, in his interview after an interfaith conference at The Times on Friday, also denounced embattled Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi and expressed disappointment that the United States vetoed a U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlements in Jerusalem.

“It is very sad what is happening [in Libya],” the ambassador said. “The winds of change have blown over the Middle East.”…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Police Fires Tear Gas Against Protesters

(AGI) Tunis — Tunisian police fired tear gas to disperse 300 anti-government demonstrators after a night of violent protests. A tinderbox situation seems to have returned in Tunisia: dozens of cars were destroyed and numerous shops were robbed last night; around 300 protesters returned to the Ministry of the Interior in Tunis demanding the government led by Prime Minister Mohammed Gannouchi to step down.

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

Tunisia: Polish Priest Killed for 3,000 Dinars

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, FEBRUARY 25 — The Polish priest Marius Rybinski, who was killed on February 17 in the Salesian school of La Manouba in the western suburbs of Tunis, was murdered for 3,000 dinars. Sources close to the investigation say that the confession was made by the killer, a carpenter who worked in the school and to whom the priest, who was also in charge of the school’s finances, had given money to buy material. The man confessed that he killed the priest in order to take possession of 3,000 dinars.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tunisian Prime Minister Gannouchi Resigns

(AGI) Tunis — Tunisian television has broadcast a press conference in which it was announced that the transition government’s prime minister, Mohammed Gannouchi has resigned.

For the past three days Tunisians have been protesting in the streets asking for the premier’s resignation, since a number of ministers in his government are considered to close to Ben Ali, the president deposed by a peaceful revolution. ..

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

Turkey’s PM Speaks Out Against Libya Sanctions

Turkey’s prime minister on Saturday raised strong objections to imposing sanctions on Libya, arguing that innocent people would suffer and accusing world powers of making “calculations” based on oil.

“Any intervention will make the process even more difficult. It will harm not the administration but the Libyan people. You cannot secure world peace by resorting to sanctions in each and every incident,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a televised public speech Saturday in Istanbul.

Erdogan spoke hours before U.N. Security Council members were to meet again to discuss ways to punish the Libyan leader for his violent attacks on anti-government protesters. Up for consideration are an arms embargo against the government and a travel ban and asset freeze against Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi and family members.

“We call on the international community to approach Libya not with concerns about oil but with conscience, justice and universal human values,” he said.

His speech came after a telephone conversation with U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday evening. Washington has already imposed personal sanctions on Gadhafi and four of his sons.

Britain, France, Germany and the United States have drawn up a resolution that says the attacks on civilians could amount to crimes against humanity. It calls for an arms embargo and a travel ban and assets freeze against Gadhafi and his entourage.

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

Turkish Businessmen Fear a Spark to Launch Uprising in Morocco

Reported lootings during mass protests in Morocco, which are quite peaceful compared with recent Egyptian and Libyan turmoil, worry Turkish investors in the country. The Turkish Embassy in Rabat has already called Turkish firms to declare their amount of investments in Morocco, according to a businessman. Still, the Turkish-Moroccan Business Council says the situation is stable

As a domino effect theory seems justified with the constant sparks of protests and political turmoil across North African countries, Turkish businessmen say Morocco is far from a “safe heaven.”

Nihat Çiftçi, a Turkish investor living in Berrechid, a western Moroccan city located nearly 40 kilometers from tourist magnet Casablanca, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Wednesday that the situation in the country is getting worse day by day due to rising protests that end up vandalizing public buildings, police stations and banks.

“I am scared for my children and wife,” said the Turkish investor, who currently runs a mid-size factory producing chocolate and biscuits for the Moroccan market under the Marstar brand.

“Most of my regular customers have started to cancel their orders, as they know that sooner or later their shops will be looted,” said Çiftçi.

He said that nearly 50 percent of his orders have been canceled over fears of looting. Çiftçi said most Turkish businessmen in the country communicate with locals with the help of interpreters and many do not realize the rising tensions. Many shops are closed in the northern province of Tangier and western province of Srarhna, according to Çiftçi.

Çiftçi, who employs 60 Moroccans, said, “I am seriously considering taking my family and fleeing the country,” during a phone interview. “There have recently been three police stations set on fire in Marrakech recently.”

According to him, xenophobia in the country is gaining popularity among people in the streets. “I keep receiving treating phone calls telling me to get out the country,” he said. Noting that Morocco might seem safe at the moment, he said: “No one could guarantee us there will not be similar events to Egypt and Libya. Morocco can catch fire at any time.

The Turkish Embassy in Rabat has already called Turkish firms to declare their amount of investments in Morocco, Çiftçi said.

Turkish firms to discuss risks

Still, Banu Anil, the chairperson of the Turkish-Moroccan Business Council at Turkey’s Foreign Economic Relations Board, or DEIK, thinks the opposite. “I have talked with the officials of the Turkish embassy a few days ago; I was informed that the situation is rather stable within the country so far,” she told the Daily News. “We have been informed of this way before the revolt started in Libya and that is why we remain prudent.”

She said a Turkish minister had canceled his trip to the country. DEIK will form a crisis center to discuss the Moroccan unrest Tuesday, with members from the DEIK board and executives of Tekfen Construction, Temsa Global Industry and Arkas Anadolu Transportation, three prominent Turkish companies.

Anil remains hopeful of the potential for Morocco and Turkish business. Turkish firms have a total of $1.3 billion in the construction, refinery and textile sectors. Noting that there is no doubt that North African economies will be affected by the tension, she said, “I believe that the current situation will actually affect Morocco positively.”

In a written statement, Anil said, “The reactions and protests of the Moroccans are not against the foreign investors in the country, especially not Turkish investors.”

Mustafa Nabi Bassaçik, owner of MT Plastiques Sarl, a plastic recycling firm in the western province of Kenitra said that Morocco is a promising market. “Some people have attacked banks and few textile firms have been looted,” he confirmed. “Still, there is not much damage to our business yet.”

More protests on the way

Looting remains a crucial “side effect” of the protests demanding more freedom and a more transparent country with less fraud, according to recent reports. Michael Johnston from ETFdb, an online finance database, reported that last week’s looting broke out in the midst of protests calling for changes to the constitution. “The reports indicated that at least five people had died and more than 100 buildings had been damaged in the wake of looting,” Johnston noted earlier last week.

According to Agence France-Presse, several dozen people looted shops, lit cars on fire and threw stones at public buildings in several cities including tourist-hub Marrakech and the northern port of Larache last weekend. In Marrakech, 150-200 people attacked and looted shops including a branch of McDonalds, the agency reported, quoting an eyewitness. Young protestors attacked public buildings including a police post and a customs office in Larache. Some protestors lit five cars on fire in Al Hoceima. The Moroccan government promised to inject 1.4 billion euros in subsidies to soften price hikes for food, according to AFP.

A large group of people were preparing mass protests in Moroccan capital Rabat on Saturday and Sunday, according to sources. The Moroccan Human Right Association, or AMDH, has called for massive protests all over the country this weekend.

Tensions hit textiles

Turkish textile firms have been hit by the tension in Morocco, said Hikmet Tanriverdi, chairman of Turkish Textile and Apparel Exporters’ Union, or ITKIB, in a phone interview Thursday. He said, “Bilateral trade will be hit by the unrest as there are many Moroccan firms importing raw materials for textile industry from Turkey.” Noting his concern about the intensifying protests, he said, “Raw materials and accessory manufacturer firms planning to invest in Morocco have canceled their investment plans due to the unrests.”

Turkey’s exports to Morocco increased from $721.5 million to $957.7 million in 2008. With the effect of the global economic crisis, Turkish export volume dropped sharply to $598.5 million in 2009. Giving signs of a recovery, Turkish exports increased to approximately $624.3 million last year according to figures of the Turkish Statistics Institution, or TurkStat. Turkey’s imports increased from $198.4 million to $360.5 million in 2008 compared with the previous year. The volume of Moroccan products imported decreased to $234.7 million in 2009 and returned back to pre-crisis levels with $396.7 million by the end of last year according to official figures. Turkey has approximately $780 million in direct investment according to 2008 figures, and Turkish firms have signed contracts worth around $1.3 billion.

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

UK: Academics at London School of Economics Praise Gaddafi in Video

ACADEMICS from the London School of Economics have been caught on video lavishing praise on Mad Dog Gaddafi after accepting £1.5million from his brutal regime.

Lecturer Alia Brahimi is seen talking to the Libyan leader by video-link during a “Gaddafi evening” at the LSE as colleagues look on.

Brahimi tells him: “You’re most welcome here, Colonel Gaddafi”, before praising his record as “the world’s longest serving national leader”.

She refers to Gaddafi as “Brother Leader”.

But she fails to reveal her work is funded by Gaddafi’s son, Saif Al-Islam.

The £1.5million for the LSE’s North Africa Programme, which Ms Brahimi manages, was negotiated by her boss, Professor David Held — a pal of Labour leader Ed Miliband…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Citizens Not Serfs Can Save Saudi Arabia

On his return from months of hospitalisation and recuperation in the US and Morocco, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was characteristically unstinting in his generosity. He lavished $36bn on his subjects, in pay rises and debt forgiveness, and to help them buy houses and start businesses. As munificence goes, this was princely. Whether it was politic is another question.

It might buy off whatever unrest is brewing underneath the kingdom’s thick layers of political, military and religious control. Or it may be perceived as the panicky response of an absolute monarchy to the wave of revolution unfolding across the Arab world; the rulers of neighbouring Bahrain offered their people a similar bribe but they took to the streets anyway. Yet King Abdullah’s decision to hose Saudis with money to pre-empt any revolt is certainly old politics in a new era — and unless it is followed by political reforms the king himself has timidly championed, the future of the kingdom must be in question.

The House of Saud is, of course, resilient. It resisted the radical pan-Arabism of Gamal Abdel Nasser when Nasserism was sweeping all before it, from Syria to Yemen. It saw off Ayatollah Khomeini’s attempts to export the Iranian revolution. It has overcome violent Islamist challenges, and emerged reasonably unscathed after inviting half a million foreign troops on to its soil — the birthplace of Islam — during the 1990-91 Gulf war. Many have bet against the al-Saud, but here they still are.

The king’s largesse looks like an attempt to renew the social contract between rulers and ruled that underpins absolutism in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. At its most complete, this is cradle-to-grave paternalism, where the oil revenues of a rentier state free its rulers from the political bindings of their society, enabling provision not only of education and health but jobs and housing, in exchange for loyalty and obeisance.

But even for a kingdom with such financial might — the Saudis plan to spend $400bn on infrastructure, education and jobs creation to the end of 2014 — this deal is looking dilapidated. Oil-dominated economies create few jobs, especially if they support a bloated royal family that affects not to understand where a privy purse ends and a public budget begins.

Only in the past few years has per capita income started to get back to where it was three decades ago. Youth unemployment in Saudi Arabia is comparable to Egypt’s or Libya’s. Yet there is less opportunity, less social as well as political freedom — but probably as great an awareness of global and regional change courtesy of satellite television and the internet. More than a million Saudis have been educated abroad, often to a high level.

More fundamentally, this attempt to renew the social contract strengthens the historic compact which is the foundation stone of the Saudi state: between the monarchy and the clerical establishment, the House of Saud and the House of ibn Abdul Wahhab — the 18th century preacher whose ideas have provided Saudi Arabia’s rulers with religious legitimacy. This symbiosis of temporal and religious power, which claims to have redeemed Arabia from a tribal stew of idolatry and chaos, ignorance and vice, all but anathematises all other beliefs and treats reform as a synonym of licentiousness.

In return for the religious cover it provides, the Wahhabi clerical establishment wields decisive social control, not only over religion and public comportment, such as the segregation and cloistering of women, but also over education and justice.

Wahhabi power therefore cuts right across King Abdullah’s incremental reforms, which he sees as vital if the Saudi kingdom is to survive. He has tried to rein in the clerics and reform the judiciary, rid school textbooks of fanaticism and vet teachers, and to foster a more pluralist concept of Islam. Recognising that the Saudi state has remained static, while its subjects have been dragged into a brittle modernity imported like an air conditioner, he launched a “national dialogue” in 2003. This held out the prospect of more open government, tighter financial controls on the royal share of national wealth, greater rights for women, even the gradual introduction of elections…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Islamic Indoctrination on U.S. Taxpayers’ Tab

A large network of jihad-preaching schools dots the American landscape, and it’s being paid for by taxpayer dollars.

The network of more than 100 facilities in 27 states is the result of the work of Turkish expatriate billionaire Fethullah Gulen, who lives in a heavily guarded compound near Saylorsburg, Pa.

Terrorism analyst, author and Family Security Matters contributing Editor Paul Williams explains that Gulen left Turkey under a cloud, and came to the United States carrying an agenda.

“Fethullah Gulen is a chap who fled Turkey in 1998. He was attempting to avoid prosecution from the secular government at that time; he wanted to set up an Islamic government,” Williams explained.

“He moved to Pennsylvania and established a mountain fortress around Saylorsburg, which is in the heart of the Poconos,” Williams explained.

Court records from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania’s federal courts indicate that Gulen won his removal case against Homeland Security by showing that he was an “alien of extraordinary ability,” and that by staying in the United States he could pursue his work of “authoring articles and providing guidance ‘to fellow scholar in the fields of theology, political science, Islamic studies, and education.’“

Williams says Gulen had help.

“The Department of Homeland Security uncovered that Gulen has over $25 billion in assets. That’s more money than many countries have. Most of this money has been channeled to Gulen from the CIA,” Williams asserted.

Koinonia Institute senior analyst Steve Elwart says Gulen was helped by a number of different factors.

“He was denied his visa the first time around by DHS by saying that he didn’t have any experience since he was trying to come in as an educator. DHS said that he really didn’t have the qualifications to hold himself out as an educator,” Elwart observed.

Elwart says there was another concern.

“There were also concerns about his ties to the CIA and that as it turned out, those concerns were apparently valid, because when he appealed the decision, he got two letters of recommendation from the CIA,” Elwart continued.

“That would strengthen the position that he did seem to have those ties,” Elwart added.

Williams explains that U. S. officials may have had a reason for funneling money to Gulen.

“I’ll tell you why the CIA is funding him. These countries (referring to the Middle East and former Soviet Central Asian Republics) have vast natural gas and oil reserves. They are afraid of where those reserves will go, so we want to gain some control over the supplies,” Williams claimed.

Now his fingerprints are all over schools across Asia — and dozens more charter schools across the United States. Those are schools that are run on the taxpayers’ money, but have private teaching agendas, often using the subtle inferences in social studies courses to advocate for Islam, observers report.

“He has these schools all over Central Asia and these counties, Tajikistan, Kurdistan, all have Turkish backgrounds. They speak Turkish. They share a Turkish culture. They share the same religion so it’s really easy for him to establish these schools throughout Central Asia,” Williams explained.

“They have prospered; they have grown and the countries where they are have become increasingly militant and increasingly anti-American,” Williams added.

Williams says Gulen put his money to work, first in his home country of Turkey.

“He used that money to create this political party in Turkey and to take over the newspapers, and almost all of the Turkish media. He’s also created a network of Islamic charter schools in Turkey that has spread through Central Asia, particularly in the newly created Russian republics,” Williams also stated.

“Gulen’s movement is so radical that it is outlawed in Russia and even in The Netherlands, a country that’s known for its tolerance, would not allow any funding for the Gulen schools,” Williams added…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Low Expectations of Sarkozy’s Visit to Turkey Fulfilled

French President Nicholas Sarkozy, on his first visit to Turkey and the first visit of any French head of state in 19 years, reiterated Friday his country’s insistence on finding an alternative to full Turkish membership in the European Union.

“I think that it is better to talk things out now than to one day reach a dead end,” said Sarkozy in a joint press conference with Turkey’s President Abdullah Gül at the Presidency. “All countries have red lines. All countries have a public. Discussion is needed to reach an agreement. We will continue to seek ways for the future.”

Meanwhile, Gül asked France not to hinder the negotiation process.

Turkish mayor’s chewing gum retort

The mayor of Ankara chewed gum when he saw off Nicolas Sarkozy at the end of a visit to Turkey in retaliation to similar “disrespect” by the French president, Anatolia news agency reported Saturday.

Mayor Melih Gökçek, a colorful but controversial figure in Turkish politics, was part of the delegation that greeted and then saw off Sarkozy at the airport during his brief visit to Turkey on Friday.

“Sarkozy came down the steps of the plane chewing a wad of gum. He stopped for a moment, looked around and continued to chew. … I personally was offended,” Gökçek told Anatolia.

“Previously, he showed similar disrespect to our President Abdullah Gül in France,” the mayor said, without elaborating.

“And when we were seeing him off, I never took out the chewing gum from my mouth. … Someone had to respond. I believe I responded diplomatically. … There is something called reciprocity,” he said.

Sarkozy, a vocal opponent of Turkey’s accession to the European Union, visited Turkey for a couple of hours as the current G-20 chairman, despite the Turkish government’s willingness to host him longer. That was interpreted as the French leader’s message to Ankara that he wants to keep the Turkey visit low-profile, avoiding an official visit and instead making a working trip.

Turkey did not hide its disappointment of Sarkozy’s very short visit by keeping a low-profile welcome for the French president with no Cabinet minister arriving at the airport.

Sarkozy’s first stop was at the Presidential Palace where he held comprehensive talks with Gül. After visiting Anitkabir, Atatürk’s mausoleum, to pay his respect to the founder of the Republic, Sarkozy met with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Among the issues Gül and Sarkozy discussed were the French proposals for reshaping the world’s economic order during a summit this fall in Cannes, Turkey’s EU bid, the developments in the Middle East and bilateral issues.

Recalling that he was the first French president visiting Turkey since 1992, Sarkozy said it was a clear show of his administration’s willingness to work closely with Turkey.

“I am very happy to be in Turkey,” said Sarkozy. “A French president has not been to Turkey since 1992. That is a very long time. I am very pleased to be the president to end the 19-year gap. Turkey’s contributions in the G-20 are very important to us. I am conducting visits to the most important G-20 members. I’ve found Turkey’s role in the international plan very important for a very long time now. The world needs a Turkey that takes initiative for its stability.”

Upon Gül’s invitation, Sarkozy confirmed that he would like to make a state visit to Turkey in 2011 and would be extremely happy if his itinerary would also include Istanbul, which he described as one of the most beautiful cities of the world.

However, the tone of positive appraisal changed when journalists questioned the French opposition to Turkey’s full membership in the EU. Both officials have agreed to disagree on this issue, he said.

“There is an obvious subject we do not agree on,” he said. “We have spoken about this as heads of state, and tried to understand both sides. We tried to find a path that both prevents Europe from becoming unstable and degrades the Turkish people. We may have different views, but we will continue working together.”

Recalling that the negotiation process had begun with the consent and approval of all EU members, Gül said Turkey was expecting the implementation of the principle of pacta sund servanda from all members. “This is not a call only to France but all member countries,” Gül said.

Recalling that countries like France and Austria have already taken decisions to hold referendums for the entry of Turkey to the EU when Ankara completes the negotiations, Gül said Turkey would respect the decision of these nations if they said “no” in the future.

Sarkozy, on the other hand, said he was not against the continuation of the negotiations but he was against using them as a pretext for Turkey’s future membership.

“I know Turkey is against formulas presenting partnership,” he said, adding that such discussions would pave the way for determining the best way to overcome the disagreement.

Offer for nuclear bid

But when the discussion came to improving bilateral economic relations, Sarkozy said they were ready to offer cooperation, especially in the field of nuclear energy.

“We have offered Turkey cooperation in the nuclear field with no limits. This is a sign of our faith in Turkey’s stability. The French democracy is clearly on the side of Turkish democracy,” said Sarkozy.

The trade volume between Turkey and France totaled nearly 12 billion euros in 2010 and the objective is to increase this figure to 15 billion euros in 2012. France is Turkey’s fourth biggest export market and French companies rank third in total foreign direct investment in Turkey. Some 400 French companies operate in Turkey, providing employment for 100,000 people.

Gadhafi must go

The two leaders have also discussed the Libyan crisis. Sarkozy called for an investigation and sanctions on the Libyan administration. He supported Gül’s proposal for humanitarian assistance to the Libyan people.

“Mr. Gadhafi must go,” Sarkozy said. “The systematic violence against the Libyan people is unacceptable and will be the subject of investigations and sanctions.”

Sarkozy said the recent crisis in the Middle East and North Africa caused his well-known project for the Mediterranean to come to surface. “It’s time to revisit our vision,” regarding the Med Union.

He called for a meeting at the EU Council to discuss the union’s relations with regional countries.

Sarkozy meets Erdogan

Sarkozy’s last stop was the Prime Ministry. The two leaders made a brief statement to the press prior to the talks in which Sarkozy said he gave importance to the meeting. “Erdogan is someone I know well, highly respect and admire.”

“Turkey has an important place in the worldwide plan. Turkey’s place and location can add a lot to the balance of the world. This is why I always give high importance to Turkey’s contributions,” he said.

The meeting was still ongoing as the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review went to print late Friday. But Erdogan said late Thursday that he would be very open in expressing his disappointment to Sarkozy.

In earlier remarks, Erdogan said he would ask Sarkozy about the statements he made about Turkey’s membership bid.

“We warned Mr. Sarkozy many times about this issue. We told him his approach toward Turkey is very wrong. And I’ll ask him tomorrow [Friday],” Erdogan told ATV television in an interview late Thursday. “I’ll tell him you made such a statement but that you tell different things to me.”

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

Oman: Tear Gas for Stone-Throwing Protestors

(AGI) Moscow — The wave of anti-regime protests in the Arab world has spread to Oman. Police have fired tear gas at a group of protesters who were hurling stones in the industrial city of Sohar. According to local sources, protestors have gathered for the second day running, calling for political reform, proof that the unrest is spreading to Oman. Demonstrations are also ongoing in the southern city of Salalah, where demonstrators have been camped out in a provincial governor’s office since Friday.

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

Protesters Set Fire to Government Building in Oman

(AGI) Muscat — Witnesses have reported that protesters in Sohar have set fire to a police station and a government building, following clashes with the police in which two of the two thousand protesters demanding reforms were killed. Protests are being held also in the southern city of Salalah where protesters have been camping out since Friday near the provincial gubernatorial offices.

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

Saudi Arabia Ups Crude Output, Over 9 Mln Barrels

(ANSAmed) — ROME, FEBRUARY 25 — Following the Libyan crisis, Saudi Arabia has increased its oil production to over 9 million barrels per day, over 700,000 more, according to an industrial sources quoted by Reuters.

“We have begun to produce over 9 million barrels per day. We have a lot of capacity,” said the sources.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkey’s First Islamic Leader Erbakan Dies

ANKARA: Necmettin Erbakan, the mentor of political Islam in secular Turkey and its first Islamic prime minister, died Sunday, aged 84, after a tumultuous four-decade career, marred by feuds with the army.

In a post-mortem gesture, the military honoured Erbakan with a message of condolences, saying that his “great services to our country will be always remembered.”

Under treatment in an Ankara hospital since early January, Erbakan died of a heart failure following “an abrupt disorder in his heart rhythm,” doctor Ali Kucukbas said.

President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, both Erbakan disciples who would later revolt against him, expressed sorrow, with Erdogan shortening a visit to Germany in order to attend his mentor’s funeral in Istanbul Tuesday.

“We will always remember him with gratitude for what he taught us and for his persevering character,” Erdogan said.

Erbakan, who died as head of the small Islamic Felicity Party, had looked increasing frail recently and often used a wheelchair. But he lost nothing from his political zeal and held meetings with party associates even in hospital, aides said.

Despite his plump and genial exterior, Erbakan was a fierce ideologue and tough political survivor who tirelessly spread his message.

Nicknamed “Hoca” (Master), he loathed Turkey’s pro-Western tradition, preaching a blend of Islamic and Turkish nationalism.

He called the existing international system a “Zionist order” responsible for worldwide poverty and contested some economic pillars such as the interest rate, which Islam rejects.

“Humanity owes everything to Islam. Our civilization is superior to the West… They do not know how to wash their faces, they do not know running water and, excuse me, but they come out of the toilet without cleaning themselves,” he said in November, in remarks carried on a party website…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Turkish Parliament Approves Bill for Islamic Production Deal

Turkey’s Parliament this week approved a bill related to an international deal that promotes enterprises operating in accordance with Islamic principals and foresees solving some problems according to Islamic law.

Parliament stipulated that the Constitution and other laws would still apply for the articles applied to the Islamic law.

The Islamic Development Bank, or IsDB, a multilateral development financing institution, will transfer financial resources to companies in Turkey operating with “Islamic production” procedures, according to the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector, or ICD, agreement signed in 1999 with IsDB member countries.

Companies processing pork products, tourism facilities providing service for both women and men and alcohol companies will be excluded from this financial support.

According to the bill, the institution has $1 billion in capital and Turkey will pay $11.8 million to join the agreement.

The ICD provides financial and technical support to companies in Muslim countries, according to the agreement.

The bill also implements a control system for companies to determine if they operate in parallel with Islamic production procedures. According to the 29th article of the agreement, the Saudi Arabia-based Islamic Law Committee will determine whether Turkish companies operate in accordance with Islamic Law.

The committee will consist of three religious functionaries elected for three years. They will decide if the investments of companies are proper under shariah.

The 55th article of the agreement specifies the arbitration of the Islamic Court of Justice to solve possible problems among member countries.

The bill, which was first discussed in 2004 and postponed to a future date by strong opposition in Parliament, was taken once again to Parliament’s agenda and approved in April.

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


Russia Fears the Contagion of Violence in North Africa

Prime Minister Putin concerned about the possible rise of radical groups that would affect the North Caucasus. Terrorism has begun to target tourists . Expert: “Attack at Domodedovo most alarming”.

Moscow (AsiaNews) — Russia fears the disorder and violence in North Africa could spread to the northern Caucasus and a series of recent attacks in the Russian Muslim majority region, renews these fears. In less than a week, the President Dmitri Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin have spoken on the subject. Yesterday, in Brussels, Putin admitted: “Despite the reassuring claim according to which it is unlikely that radical groups will take power or increase their influence in North African countries, we are concerned.” “If that happens — he added — it will have inevitable repercussions in other regions of the world, including some of the North Caucasus.”

Since the beginning of the wave of protests in the Arab world, is the first time that Russia has openly declared its fears of a “knock-on effect” in the troubled Caucasus region, where Islamic extremism is intermingled with separatist movements. Medvedev, in fact, only two days earlier, had warned that the arrival of “fanatics” in power in the Middle East would lead to the disintegration of some states in the region into “small pieces”, an “explosive situation that go go on for decades” and “ direct influence “on Russia, where extremists will attempt to export the North African scenario. “But it won’t work with us” assured the head of the Kremlin.

Since the riots erupted in the Arab world, Russia has sparked a debate on the possibility of a contagion effect, also facilitated by the increasing penetration of Internet in the country. Former Deputy Prime Minister and current opponent, Boris Nemtsov, speaking at a demonstration, even likened Putin to Mubarak called for people to follow their “Tunisian and Egyptian brothers.” But for most analysts it is a scenario to be excluded, at least in the short term, despite some similarities in autocratic government. The Arab world is a volcano of youthful discontent, Russia is a country with few young people, the Orthodox Church is close to the government and there is a strong socio-political apathy: protests, often repressed by the police, never count more than a few hundred people.

In the North Caucasus, attacks on tourists Beyond any eventual popular uprisings what most concerns the leaders of the Federation is the turn that Caucasian-style terrorism is taking. No longer just attacks on police, security forces or civilian targets, but at the heart of Russian policies for the region’s development: tourism.

After the massacre at Moscow Domodedovo International Airport, there were two more episodes of in appearance lesser severity, both in Kabardino-Balkaria, North Caucasus. On February 18, three tourists were killed in Moscow Elbrus, a place that is being promoted as a resort centre. Shortly before, however, an explosion had blown up a ski lift in the same area. In the Caucasian republic a manhunt is now underway and Russian forces say they have already found the hideout of the group that organized the attack. But according to Alexei Malashenko, one of the most renowned Russian Islamists and expert at the Carnegie Centre in Moscow, “now the situation in the region is out of control, the time for serious talks with the forces at work has passed, and there seems to be no way out or solution at the moment”. “The attacks in Kabardino-Balkaria — he explains — are more worrying than the one at Domodedovo: they confirm that the government is unable to resolve the situation and can not foresee the potential effects of this throughout the country.” “The terrorists have slapped Putin and Medvedev in the face, who insist on skiing in the mountains near Sochi in an effort to promote the location for the 2014 Winter Olympics and tourism in general and in particular have made it clear that they have a specific strategy: few attacks, but very sensitive and significant targets. So not only undermine events such as Sochi, but the principle itself”.

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

South Asia

India: Five Making Bomb Killed in Explosion

KOCHI: Five Muslim League members were killed in an explosion while they were making crude bombs at Nadapuram near Kerala’s Kozhikode.

Country bombs were used in frequent clashes between CPM and Muslim League in the area. After the local body elections last November, clashes between the two parties have intensified. Both parties have units which make bombs.

After Saturday night’s incident, the district administration plans to clamp prohibitory orders in the area. “We are discussing the issue with the district collector,” said SP of Kozhikode rural police.

Chief minister V S Achuthanandan alleged the opposition was fomenting violence ahead of the Assembly elections in the state.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Indonesia: Police Arrest Another Suspect Over Deadly Attack on Muslim Sect

Jakarta, 25 Feb. (AKI/Jakarta Post) — The police have arrested another suspect in the case of the deadly attacks against minority Ahmadi Muslims earlier this month in Central Java.

“[We] caught one more this morning,” said Indonesian national olice chief detective Ito Sumardi on Friday as quoted by

He identified the suspect’s name as Yahya Iskandar, who is also known as Ocrot. Iskandar was arrested at his home in Cibaliung and charged with conducting assault and collective assault.

Ahmadiyah followers in Indonesia have been experiencing a series of sectarian attacks. The latest incident took place earlier this month, when a mob of more than 1,500 people attacked an Ahmadi congregation in Central Java’s strife-hit Temanggung district, killing three Ahmadiyah Muslims.

Sumardi said that the police traced Iskandar after watching the video of the attack in Cikeusik, Banten, which killed three Ahmadis and injured five.

“He was the one wearing white clothes and launched an attack using a [piece of] wood,” he said, referring to the video, which has also been circulating on YouTube.

The police have arrested 10 suspects so far and are looking for four others.

There have also been deadly attacks on minority Christians and their churches in Indonesia in recent years.

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

Pakistan: Provincial Govt to Review Programmes in Islamic Religious Schools

Madrassa are teaching almost exclusively Qur’anic subjects. The government wants to add Arabic, English, math and computers, but is meeting with the opposition of many religious leaders. Millions of students cannot pay fees at public schools and so can only attend these schools.

Islamabad (AsiaNews/Agencies) — The government has ordered religious schools (madrassas) to offer students a basic education that includes subjects like math, English and computers. However, many school officials are resisting, saying the only thing students need is the Qur’an.

Madrassas are a fundamental component of Pakistan’s education system. A report by Provincial education authorities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (ex North-West Frontier Province) said there were 10,887 registered religious schools with an estimated two million students in 2010, up from 201 in 1947.

About 85 per cent of these schools cater to students from Sunni sects while the rest serve Shias. What is more, only 25 per cent of the religious schools have sought registration. In addition, most of the almost 4,000 male and 900 female teachers in the province are graduates of religious schools.

“Most of these teachers are unable to teach properly. They don’t have modern education. The government wants to support them financially and technically but they don’t want” that, said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Education Minister Sardar Hussain Babak.

The government wants to integrate religious education with formal education and bridge the gulf between the two systems, but madrassa officials see it as government interference.

“About 99 per cent of the students belong to poor families who could not afford the cost of modern or government-run schools and opted to get themselves enrolled in religious schools where no fee is charged,” Babak said.

“Religious schools are very good because they teach you the true meaning of Islam. But religious schools must teach modern education, such as computer, mathematics, English etc.,” said Muhammad Asif, a teacher at the Uma Hatul Momineen Madrassa. He noted that most students at these schools illiterate.

Madrassas have been accused of promoting terrorism, providing an extremist education, and serving as recruiting grounds for radical groups. On several occasions, the United States has called on Pakistani authorities to control these institutions and add modern subjects.

The heads of religious schools vehemently deny charges they are producing militants. “More than 4,500 students study in our school,” said Maulana Samiul Haq, chancellor of Darul Uloom Haqqania, the biggest religious seminary in Pakistan. “All of them are peaceful and apolitical. They had taken part in the fight against Mujahedeen leaders just to safeguard Afghanistan against the bitterly divided and corrupt Mujahedeen government in Kabul.”

Minister Babak insisted that under the proposed plan to modernise education traditional subjects would remain, like Nazirah-e- Qur’an (Qur’an recitation), Tahfeez-ul-Qur’an (Qur’an memorisation), Tajweed (correct pronunciation), darse-e-nizami (the standard syllabus of a religious seminary), tafseer (Qur’anic analysis and interpretation), hadith (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad), and Fiqah (Islamic jurisprudence).

However, programmes would also include Arabic literature, Urdu, English, science, math, computers and information-technology, as well as vocational training.

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

Far East

North Korea: Hunger Reaches Alarming Levels as People Resort to Eating Wild Grasses and Dirt

Five NGOs sound the alarm after their teams come back from Pyongyang. People are desperate and thousands could die. Source warns AsiaNews that hunger might cause a popular uprising and lead to a mass exodus to the South.

Seoul (AsiaNews) — Juche, the ideology of self-reliance launched by dictator Kim Il-sung in the 1950s, is wiping out North Korea. So many North Koreans are hungry that they are resorting to eating wild grasses, when they find it, or just starving to death. Looming on the horizon is a popular uprising that might lead to a mass exodus to the South, this according to officials from five US-based aid agencies who have sounded the alarm after returning from a trip to North Korea

The five NGOs, Christian Friends of Korea, Global Resource Services, Mercy Corps, Samaritan’s Purse and World Vision, were in North Korea on the invitation of the government. Their teams report that 50 per cent to 80 per cent of the wheat and barley planted for harvesting in the spring has been wiped out by the bitter cold of the past two months. They also said that hospitals reported an increase in malnutrition over the past six months.

The issue is complex. North Korea’s main foreign donors (United States and South Korea) cut humanitarian aid following North Korean military provocations last year. The sinking of ROKS Cheonan, which left 46 sailors dead, and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island incensed South Korea’s conservative government. In a statement, President Lee Myung-bak said that his administration would not provide aid until Pyongyang officially apologised.

The United States stopped aid out of concern that it would be used for North Korea’s rulers and armed forces, and not the people. ‘Dear leader’ Kim Jong-il has in fact refused to allow international monitors into the country, and has always insisted that aid be handed over at the border to his military.

Compounding the situation are the government’s disastrous economic policies and currency reform that pulled whatever rug was left under the population’s feet.

“It is all true,” a Korean source told AsiaNews. “People have nothing to eat. I have seen personally children eat dirt. The danger is that, without outside help, people might rise up and be mowed down by the army. Or they could pour across the border into the South. Seoul however would not be able to handle such a flow and could decide to send them back.”

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

Worst Crackdown in Years Underway in China

Pretexts, searches and beatings are used against rights and pro-democracy activists who are arrested and sentenced to many years of prison. Many have disappeared. Chinese police and authorities accumulate a long list of abuses in just a few days. CHRD appeals to the world: the suppression of free expression “is unacceptable, whether people are gathering in the Middle East or in China.”

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) — One of harshest crackdowns is underway in China at present in response to an anonymous online call for a ‘jasmine uprising’, this according to China Human Rights Defenders (CHRD). The rights organisation reports arrests, searches and beatings against well-known dissidents and ordinary citizens. At least five activists have been jailed for “subversion of state power”.

Police invited writer and blogger Ran Yunfei of Chengdu (Sichuan) for tea last Sunday. Since then, he has been held in prison on “subversion” charges. His twitter account has more than 44,000 followers.

Hua Chunhui of Wuxi (Jiangsu) has been behind bars since Monday for “endangering state security” because he tweeted messages about the “Jasmine Revolution”.

Liang Haiyi, a Harbin resident, was held on Saturday by police, also for subversion because he posted information from foreign websites about the ‘Jasmine Revolution’ on domestic websites.

Police seized Ding Mao at home on Saturday in Mianyang (Sichuan) for “inciting subversion of state power”. He has already spent more than ten years in prison as a founder of the Chinese Social-Democratic Party.

Chen Wei, a rights activist in Suining (Sichuan), was taken into custody on Sunday for “subversion”. He too spent years in prison for defending human rights.

Reports are also coming in about beatings by police, of hundreds of people detained, interrogated and threatened as well as dissidents who disappeared.

All it takes is for police to suspect someone for that person to be arrested and jailed. In fact, activists are not the only ones caught up in the crackdown. Ordinary citizens who simply consulted or passed on information about protests or other sensitive issues have been affected.

Yuan Feng, a young migrant worker from Henan Province living in Shantou City (Guangdong), was given ten days of administrative detention for posting information about the ‘Jasmine Revolution’.

A number of people have also disappeared, including high profile rights defenders like lawyers Tang Jitian, Jiang Tianyong, Teng Biao, and activist Gu Chuan. Police has refused to disclose their whereabouts, but many fear they might be charged with subversion.

Others have been brutally beaten; people like Liu Shihui, a lawyer in Guangzhou, who was seriously injured on Sunday.

In a statement, the CHRD voiced concern that “While the attention of the world is fixed upon the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East, the Chinese government may believe it has been presented a golden opportunity to strike hard at Chinese pro-democracy and human rights activists.”

For this reason, it appeals to democratic government and international organisations to send the Chinese government a strong and clear message, namely that the “suppression of free expression and peaceful protests is unacceptable, whether people are gathering in the Middle East or in China.”

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

Sub-Saharan Africa

Sudanese Govt Bans Catholic NGO From Darfur

(AGI) Khartoum — Sudanese government forces continue interfering with NGOs operating in Darfur. Last in line is the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) organisation, which has been denied the right to operate in Western Darfur, accused of having distributed bibles. News of the decision was confirmed by the Sudanese government’s Mohamed Awad, according to whom CRS have been found to distribute bibles in refugee camps and schools.

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


Italy: Govt to Host North African Immigrants in Former Military Sites Says Minister

Rome, 25 Feb. (AKI) — Thousands of migrants who have fled unrest in North Africa and landed on Italy’s shores in recent weeks will be accommodated in former military barracks and stations located in the south of the country, defence minister Ignazio La Russa announced.

Speaking on Italian television late on Thursday, La Russa repeated concerns voiced by other members of the Italian government this week that the 6,500 mainly Tunisian migrants who have arrived in on the tiny island of Lampedusa and elsewhere in southern Italy represent the tip of the iceberg.

“We must be prepared to tackle extraordinary, biblical migrations and expect at least some other 2.5 million arrivals in the Mediterranean in the short run,” La Russa said.

Since mid-January, the veteran rulers of Tunisia and Egypt have been ousted in popular revolts, and Muammer Gaddafi, who has ruled Libya for 41 years is losing his grip on power and anti-government forces have extended their control over large areas of the country in the past week.

The violent turmoil in Libya, in which thousands of people are believed to have been killed and from which has thousands of people are attempting to flee, threatens the survival of a 2008 security pact with Italy, La Russa warned.

“We know very well that Libya has always been a privileged place of departure of many refugees coming from all over Africa. Thanks to Italy’s treaty with Libyan leader Gaddafi in 2008, this outgoing flux dropped but now things are radically different,” he said.

Italy can handle the growing influx of immigrants from the Mediterranean in the short term but not in the longer term, La Russa stated.

He, interior minister Roberto Maroni and foreign minister Franco Frattini have repeatedly called for a “burden-sharing” approach by European Union member states in dealing with the emergency.

Former military sites located in the south, including the area around the southern city of Naples will be made available to host the migrants.

“But these are not and cannot be a definite solution, “ he added.

The EU on Thursday promised to give 25 million euros immediately out a total 100 million euros requested by the Italian government to help tackle the “humanitarian crisis” in the Mediterranean.

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

Lampedusa Mayor’s Order to Prosecutor’s Office

(AGI) Agrigento — The mayor of Lampedusa has issued an order banning begging and camping in public places. Agrigento police chief Girolamo Di Fazio has forwarded to the prosecutor’s office an order issued earlier today by the mayor of Lampedusa, Bernardino De Rubeis, banning begging and the use of public places “for camping and littering” by Tunisian illegal immigrants who are still staying at the island’s temporary reception centre. Di Fazio asked the prosecutor’s office to verify whether or not there are sufficient grounds for prosecution. The mayor could face a criminal complaint for incitement to racial hatred.

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

Netherlands: Attitude to Poles ‘Borders on Discrimination’, Says Ambassador

The Polish ambassador to the Netherlands, Janusz Stanczyk, is extremely concerned about the changing attitude towards people from Eastern Europe in the Netherlands, he says in an interview with the Volkskrant.

‘I am getting more and more signals from Poles in the Netherlands that they are suffering because of the way politicians and the media talk about them,’ Stanczyk said.

In recent weeks, local and national politicians have called for action to curb the ‘tsunami’ of Polish and other Eastern European workers in the Netherlands. Social affairs minister Henk Kamp even called for jobless Poles to be deported, even though this is impossible under EU rules.


While problems with poor housing and alcohol abuse need to be tackled, the current media and political focus is getting out of proportion, the ambassador said.

‘Sometimes it borders on discrimination,’ he is quoted as saying. ‘It is as if drunk driving is a typical Polish thing. Politicians should lead and not contribute to the stereotyping of certain population groups.’

The ambassador said the Netherlands faced a ‘ticking bomb’ if its ‘respect’ for foreign workers further diminishes. Political statements about Poles are picked up by the Polish media and this may lead to Polish workers avoiding the country in future, he said.

‘It is a question of the Netherlands’ international reputation,’ he was quoted as saying.

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

Tunisia: NGO Network, Italy to Welcome Arrivals

(ANSAmed) — ROME, FEBRUARY 25 — The Euro Mediterranean Network for Human Rights has called on the Italian government to suspend all forced expulsions of immigrants to Tunisia, to ask the EU to activate the mechanism of temporary protection and, in the meantime, to grant migrants a form of humanitarian protection, in the form of a legal permit validated by the central authority. The association has also asked that welcoming conditions be improved, and for asylum seekers not to be grouped together in Sicily’s “Villaggio Mineo”, so as to avoid their “ghettoisation”. The Network, which is made up of more than 80 human rights organisations active in 30 countries around the Euro-Mediterranean region, made the calls after a one week-mission to Tunisia and Italy.

“In Tunisia, there is no situation of generalised violence, but one of deep uncertainty, which is being aggravated by events in Libya. Those leaving Tunisia are mainly young people who are organising things spontaneously,” said Valeria Carlini from the Italian Council for Refugees during a press conference.

The Network says that the mission, which ended yesterday, “therefore discredits reports of a massive presence of prisoners having escaped from jails and a migratory plot hatched by Libya and by Ben Ali sympathisers”.

Ommeya Naoufel Seddik, from the Tunisian Federation for citizenship on both sides of the sea, says that “the Tunisians who have arrived in Italy in the last few weeks, have come to Europe to work, but will then return home. Many of them are refusing to ask for asylum, as this would mean going against the democratic revolution”.

Carlini said that during the mission, the Pian di Lago welcome centres in Caltanissetta were visited, in order to gain an idea of the number of arrivals and asylum seekers. Carlini added that “we also attempted to clear up the events of February 11, when a boat collided with the Tunisian coastal guard, causing the death of 8 people and the disappearance of another 23. We will also ask for explanations from the Italian authorities”.

Finally, the Network has also made recommendations to the Tunisian and European authorities, asking the latter to “accompany North Africa through the period of transition” and to “prepare itself to activate the directive on temporary protection in case of large-scale arrivals”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UK: Asians More Likely to be Anti-Immigration Than White Britons

More Asians are now opposed to immigration than white Britons, according to a new poll which reveals that opposition to new arrivals now transcends race.

Research commissioned by the Searchlight Educational Trust found that 39 per cent of Asians, 34 per cent of whites and 21 per cent of blacks believed immigration should be halted either permanently or at least until the UK’s economy was back on track.

The findings are a stunning rebuke to the Labour government, which opened the doors to untrammelled immigration and then sought to brand voters ‘bigots’ who questioned the pace of change.

The report, titled Fear and Hope: The New Politics Of Identity, reveals that a large proportion of voters, across all races and communities, now have concerns about immigration.

Immigration was held to have been on the whole a bad thing for Britain by 63 per cent of whites, 43 per cent of Asians and 17 per cent of black Britons.

The report also reveals that the failure of mainstream parties to speak out about immigration has opened the door for the possible emergence of a far right party.

Almost half of those questioned, 48 per cent, were open to supporting a new far-right party as long as it eschewed ‘fascist imagery’ and did not condone violence. And 52 per cent agreed that ‘Muslims create problems in the UK’.

The poll, carried out by Populus, was one of the largest studies carried out on the subject, based on 91 questions to more than 5,000 individuals.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Italy: Silvio Berlusconi Says “No” To Gay Marriage and Adoption

(AGI) Rome- “As long as we rule the country, gay marriages will never be on a par with traditional families”, stated Mr Berlusconi. Speaking at a conference for Christian-reformists, the Prime Minister also went on to say that “as long as we are in charge, there will never be a possibility for gay singles nor gay couples to adopt.” .

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

Roger Scruton: Multiculturalism R.I.P.


But experience has finally prevailed over wishful thinking. It is culture, not nature, that tells a family that their daughter who has fallen in love outside the permitted circle must be killed, that girls must undergo genital mutilation if they are to be respectable, that the infidel must be destroyed when Allah commands it. You can read about those things and think that they belong to the pre-history of our world. But when suddenly they are happening in your midst, you are apt to wake up to the truth about the culture that advocates them. You are apt to say, that is not our culture, and it has no business here. That is what Europeans are now saying—not just a few crazies, but everyone. And the multiculturalists are reluctantly compelled to agree with them.

FOR WHAT IS BEING brought home to us, through painful experiences that we might have avoided had it been permitted before now to say the truth, is that we, like everyone else, depend upon a shared culture for our security, our prosperity and our freedom to be. We don’t require everyone to have the same faith, to lead the same kind of family life, or to participate in the same festivals. But we have a shared moral and legal inheritance, a shared language, and a shared public sphere. Our societies are built upon the Judeo-Christian ideal of neighbor-love, according to which strangers and intimates deserve equal concern. They require each of us to respect the freedom and sovereignty of every other, and to acknowledge the threshold of privacy beyond which it is a trespass to go unless invited. Our societies depend upon a culture of law-abidingness and open contracts, and they reinforce these things through the educational traditions that have shaped our common curriculum…


…Our culture allows for a great range of ways of life; it enables people to privatize their religion and their family customs, while still belonging to the public realm of open dealings and shared allegiance. For it defines that public realm in legal and territorial terms, and not in terms of creed or kinship.


… If immigrants come it is because they gain by doing so. It is therefore reasonable to remind them that there is also a cost. Only now, however, is our political class prepared to say so, and to insist that the cost be paid. And it may be that this change of heart comes too late.

           — Hat tip: bolta[Return to headlines]


Terror: ‘Mad’ Zawahiri Advises Use of ‘Any Method’ Against West

London, 25 Feb. (AKI) — Al-Qaeda’s most recent broadcasted appeal for Islamic militants to attack the West is an insane man’s call for creativity to find new methods for striking against any hidden vulnerability in America and other powers considered enemies of Islam, according to a UK-based terrorism expert.

“He’s mad,” Helbawy, an Egyptian member of the Muslim Brotherhood and former spokesman for the organisation in the West, Kamal el-Helbawy, chairman of the Centre for the Study of Terrorism in London told Adnkronos International (AKI) on Friday in a telephone interview.

Helbawy was referring to Al-Qaeda’s second in command, fellow Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, who in a 35-minute audio message broadcast Thursday instructed militants to come up with new ways to attack the West.

“Every power has its weaknesses and soft belly. They will try to find these and will attack,” Helbawy said.

In his message poduced by al-Qaeda’s media arm, as-Sahab, Zawahiri told followers to fight against the westerners and “sabotage their complex economic and industrial systems’ according to the US-based terror tracking Website SITE.

Helbawy said Zawahiri is not advocating the use of any specific weapon but rather is telling fighters to resort to any method possible to hurt westerners and their institutions.

“He is telling them to attack any industry or company. They want to hurt anything. This means that they will find any means, any way to injure and bring harm.”

Zawahiri will exploit disenfranchised Muslim youth to carry out the attacks and possibly the find a way to benefit from the uprisings in northern Africa and the Middle East, of which Al-Qaeda played no part, he said.

“They claim they have to destroy anything and bring losses to America and the west,” Helbawy said.

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


Zenster said...

North Korea: Hunger Reaches Alarming Levels as People Resort to Eating Wild Grasses and Dirt

Also tree bark, mosses and human flesh.

WARNING: Graphic descriptions at link.

This is old news and it has been going on for almost a decade. "Rice Police" get posted to guard paddies that are ready for harvest so that farmers will not steal any of the crop to feed their own famlies. The solution? Bribe the rice police with some of the crop.

In North Korea, every house must have a protrait of "Dear Leader" Jong Il. Allowing it to be damaged can result in prison time. On more than one ocassion, people have died rushing back into their burning homes to rescue the picture. Any bets on who's family runs the picture printing business?

North Korea is one massive ongoing crime against humanity.