Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110419

Financial Crisis
»Italy: Consumer Watchdog Slams Bank Acquittals in Parmalat Collapse
»Obama’s Third World America
»Barack Obama Owes General McChrystal an Apology
»Good Friday Mosque Protest May Spur Unrest, Prosecutors Fear
»‘I Have a Spine Made Out of Titanium’
»Obama, The Interpreter of the Message of Passover
»Political Ad Compares Philly to Libya
»The Goal of Terrorism? Sharia Law
»Why? King Asks of Dropped Probe
Europe and the EU
»Andrew Bostom: Brit Veteran Imprisoned for Koran Burning
»Europol: Arab Spring Poses Terrorist Threat to EU
»Italy: Fake Blind Man Caught Driving
»Italy: Government Shelves Plans to Reintroduce Nuclear Power
»Italy: Venice Street Vendors Protest Against Illegal Rivals
»Italy Puts Nuclear Plans on Ice Indefinitely
»Italy’s Finance Minister Suggests Drawing Up New EU Treaty
»Overfished, Underprotected: Dozens of Fish Species Threatened in the Mediterranean
»Sweden: Wave of Car Fires in Gothenburg Suburb
»True Finns’ Nationalism Colours Finland Election
»UK: Freedom of Dress is Part of Our Freedom of Expression
»UK: Killers: Child Sex Offenders and a Rapist on the Run… But Officials Refuse to Name Them Because of Their ‘Human Rights’
»UK: Race Hate Vandals Strike Near Birkenhead Mosque
»UK: Royal Wedding to be ‘Protected by EDL Ring of Steel’
»UK: Violence Against Under-11s Rises by 20% in One Year
North Africa
»Egypt: Top Sunni Cleric Warns Tehran Not to Meddle in Arab States
»Egypt Traffic Dispute Turns Into Sectarian Brawl
»Libya: Rebels Officially Call for Western Troops
»Serbia: West Breaching UN Mandate on Libya Says Russian Foreign Minister
»Spiegel Interview With Mohamed Elbaradei: ‘Egypt’s Military Leadership is Reacting Too Slowly’
Israel and the Palestinians
»Man Sentenced in Honor Killing — 17 Years Later
»Obama Preps for Declaration of Palestinian State
»Project to Steer Pilgrims to Palestinians
Middle East
»Arab Spring Possible Only if All Citizens Have Equal Rights, Says Mgr Sako
»Dubai Buys Spanish La Liga Club, To Rename ‘Team Dubai’
»Istanbul’s Armenian Women Mocked for Victim Shelter Plan
»Syrian Government Will Suppress Revolts of Salafite Groups
»Syria: Forces Open Fire on Demonstrators in Third-Biggest City
»Syria: Radicals: Anti-Regime March on Friday in North Lebanon
»Syria: Regime: Armed Insurrection From Radical Islamists
»Syria Lifts 48-Year State of Emergency as Thousands of Protesters Refuse to Leave City Square Until Assad is Ousted
»Turkey: ‘Sex Bus’ Quarrel Results in Violence, Investigation in Istanbul
»UAE: Dubai Death Man ‘Hit Head on Wall’
South Asia
»Bangladesh: Christians and Ahmadis Take a First “Positive, Enriching and Constructive” Step
»Indonesia: Most of Jakarta Police Force to Protect Churches From Terror During Easter
»Malaysia: Muslim Schoolboys Feared Effeminate by Teachers Sent on Four-Day Camp Where They Are Taught to be Manly
»‘Too Beautiful for School’ Pakistani Teen Back in Classroom
Australia — Pacific
»Australia: Forget to Pack the Sunscreen, Nigella? Domestic Goddess Hits the Beach in Burkini-Style Outfit
»Australia: Nigella Lawson Wears a Burkini on Bondi Beach
»Australia: Nigella Lawson Wears Burqini in Sydney Surf
»Australia: Nigella’s Burkini Fails to Get the Fashion ‘Seal’ of Approval
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Zimbabwe: Farmer Who Took on Mugabe Dies
»Zimbabwe: Mike Campbell [Telegraph Obituary, 8 April 2011]
»Zimbabwe: Without a Trace
»Boat Carrying 760 Migrants Docks in Lampedusa
»Douglas Murray: Britain Has Let in Far Too Many Foreigners
»Over 750 Refugees Land on Lampedusa, Italy Suspects Gaddafi
Culture Wars
»Comcast-Owned Network Sells Dope to Kids
»UK: Banished for His Christian Beliefs: Now Electrician Who Had a Cross in His Van is Thrown Out of Depot
»Muslims Are Not a Minority
»Why Western Women Are Creating a Burkini Boom

Financial Crisis

Italy: Consumer Watchdog Slams Bank Acquittals in Parmalat Collapse

Rome, 19 April — (AKI) — An independent Italian consumer watchdog has deplored a Milan court’s acquittal on Monday of four foreign banks Italian dairy giant Parmalat’s bankruptcy, claiming the verdict is an affront to over 100,000 people who lost their savings.

Codacons said it would hold a one-minute silence at all its offices on Tuesday to mark “the death of consumer rights”.

The group said it will also act as plaintiff alongside the more than 100,000 small savers who invested in Parmalat in a legal challenge to the banks cleared by the ruling.

Monday’s verdict acquitted Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank and Citigroup as well as six of their managers of helping mislead investors about Parmalat’s financial health.

“It’s a scandal,” Codacons president Carlo Rienzi said in a statement on Monday.

“Italian magistates…have wronged citizens and absolved the banks that sold them worthless pieces of paper,” the statement added.

“We urge all savers to seek legal vindication of their rights against the powerful bankers,” the statement concluded.

Italian prosecutors had demanded the seizure of a total of around 120 million euros of profits from the banks.

At the time of its collapse, Parmalat employed around 36,000 people in 30 countries and was a leading Italian and European business, best known for its longlife milk.

Parmalat was declared bankrupt in December 2003 after it emerged that four billion euros it supposedly held in an offshore Bank of America account did not actually exist.

The food conglomerate’s collapse left a gaping 14-billion euros hole in its finances, wiped out the savings of more than 100,000 small investors and ruined its image as a leading business empire.

Parmalat’s founder and former chief executive Calisto Tanzi, the Parmalat group’s former financial director Fausto Tonna and Tanzi’s brother Giovanni Tanzi were in December 2010 sentenced to a total of more than 42 years in jail over their role in Parmalat’s collapse.

The company was re-listed on the Milan stock exchange in 2005 after unloading unprofitable foreign businesses.

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

Obama’s Third World America

Mr. Obama has approached the presidency less as a traditional American chief executive and more as a developing world populist. The 2009 stimulus program was taken directly from this playbook, using deficit spending to distribute favors to his union supporters and cronies in the form of public-works projects and other handouts. It was a spectacular failure at creating the promised number of jobs but succeeded in Mr. Obama’s core mission to “spread the wealth around.”


During the president’s trip to India in November 2010, he said that for most of his lifetime, “the U.S. was such an enormously dominant economic power … that we always met the rest of the world economically on our terms.” In his view, however, Mr. Obama is overseeing the end times for U.S. economic dominance. Rising economies in China, India, Russia, Brazil and elsewhere will, he says, “keep America on its toes.” Meanwhile, these same countries just finished a conference in China exploring new ways to put America flat on its back.

Mr. Obama is making our enemies’ job easier.
He has increased economic regulation, pursued energy policies that stifle exploration and production at home while promoting it abroad, and has shown a general contempt for free-market principles that made the U.S. economy great. Plus, given Mr. Obama’s astonishingly lax immigration policies, America won’t have to wait long to become a Third World country because the Third World is coming here.

The debt accrued on Mr. Obama’s watch is the centerpiece of the forces that are driving the United States to global pauperhood. In 2008, gross public debt was 69 percent of the gross domestic product. This year it will pass 100 percent. Mr. Obama’s debt has stifled economic productivity and has driven the country to the point where only 66 percent of men had jobs last year, the lowest figure on record.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Barack Obama Owes General McChrystal an Apology

Now that the Pentagon has found General Stanley McChrystal, the former Nato commander in Afghanistan, not guilty of any wrongdoing over his involvement in the infamous Rolling Stone profile of him last year, perhaps President Barack Obama will be man enough to offer him an apology. Anyone who has read the piece (it is my misfortune that I have) can see that the Rolling Stones journalist who was given unprecedented access to McChrystal abused the hospitality he was shown by publishing private conversations between McChrystal and his advisers that were meant to be confidential.

But there are no direct quotes from McChrystal, just hearsay about what he thinks. But that was enough for Mr Obama, who has a troubled relationship with the American military, to demand Gen McChrystal’s resignation, even though he had just started implementing his comprehensive counter-insurgency strategy for Afghanistan. Such is this president’s regard for his own reputation that he is prepared to sacrifice the most important military campaign of his presidency over a piece of ill-considered Gonzo journalism.

The Pentagon carried out an extensive investigation into Gen McChrystal’s alleged involvement in the offending article, and concluded that he was blameless. Having publicy humiliated Gen McChrystal by demanding his resignation, the least his commander-in-chief should do now is to make a public apology for his own inexcusable conduct.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Good Friday Mosque Protest May Spur Unrest, Prosecutors Fear

Prosecutors say Fla. pastor should pay for added police presence

Dearborn — Wayne County prosecutors want a judge to make it more difficult — if not illegal — for a Quran-burning pastor to protest at a local mosque on Good Friday.

Prosecutors on April 15 filed a motion arguing that Florida pastor Terry Jones’ planned demonstration at the Islamic Center of America on the Dearborn/Detroit border poses a “likelihood of a riot ensuing, complete with discharge of firearms.”

From The Detroit News:

Jones is supposed to appear Thursday in District Court in Dearborn on prosecutors’ request to post a “peace bond” to pay for police protection. No amount is specified, but Jones claimed Dearborn police have asked for $100,000 to cover overtime costs.

He called the move to silence him “unconstitutional” and has no intention of paying — or backing down.

“Nothing has changed. Nothing will change,” said Jones of Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla. “We will definitely be there.”

He gained global notoriety last year for threatening to burn a Quran and is blamed for an outbreak of violence in Afghanistan after torching one at his small church in April. In an affidavit attached to the complaint, Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad wrote that he fears Jones could do it again.

“Intelligence received leads me to believe that Pastor Jones will jeopardize the safety of the public by committing an act against the person or property of another in the former of burning a Koran,” Haddad wrote.

The complaint claims Jones has received 300 death threats over the protest, is the target of a $1.2 million reward for his assassination from a terrorist group and told police he plans to bring a pistol to protect himself during the Friday afternoon protest at the Ford Road mosque.

Jones said he is coming with a handful of followers to protest extremist Islam and Sharia, the religion’s law. He said he’s coming to Dearborn because of its large Arab and Muslim populations. The mosque is identified in prosecutors’ court papers as the largest in the nation.

“We’re talking about the radicalization of Islam in America,” Jones said. “We have gotten a lot of reaction about how dangerous it can or will be.”

Balancing safety, rights

The prosecutors’ petition — “a complaint to institute proceedings to prevent crime” — is believed to be unusual.

University of Detroit Mercy law professor Larry Dubin said it attempts to balance free speech rights and the public’s right to be safe.

“There is the competing issue between the lawful protection of the public safety, which would be a valid government interest, and the potential for overbroadening the restriction on his First Amendment rights,” Dubin said.

Prosecutors declined comment. The complaint, though, follows numerous efforts to persuade Jones to move the protest to Dearborn’s “free-speech zones” — City Hall and the municipal complex — that wouldn’t require a permit.

Jones hasn’t received a permit for his demonstration. Mary Laundroche, a Dearborn spokeswoman, said city officials are reviewing three to four requests for permits outside the mosque. Some are believed to be counter-protests against Jones, but Laundroche wouldn’t elaborate.

“They’re still under review by federal, state and county authorities because of public safety concerns,” she said.

In the complaint, police and city officials said the mosque on Ford Road isn’t public, will cause logistical problems for churches observing services and could pose a threat to nearby schools.

The legal action comes after city officials persuaded another group, the Order of the Dragon, to cancel a protest at City Hall on Friday. The group, whose website vows to “protect our country from the rise of radical Islam,” wanted to demonstrate because members believed Dearborn practiced Sharia law.

But the event — which initially drew Jones to Dearborn — was canceled after group leader Frank Fiorello met last week with Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly and Muslim leaders.

“We understand that Sharia is not enacted,” said Fiorello, a Marlette resident.

Clergy stand united

The legal maneuvering comes as efforts by religious leaders intensify to persuade Jones to change his mind.

Religious leaders held a news conference Monday at Greater Mount Tabor Baptist Church on West Chicago and wore T-shirts that read “I Am American … I Am American … I AM American.”

“I would call on Terry Jones not to come to Dearborn,” said Imam Hassan Qazwini of the Islamic Center of America, at whose mosque Jones is planning to protest. “What he is doing is inciting hatred against Muslims. We do not think what he is doing is helping our community, our society or our country.”

Metro Detroit religious leaders plan prayer vigils Thursday and Friday to show solidarity against Jones. A prayer event is planned Thursday at the mosque, while another vigil is planned at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center in Dearborn on Friday before Jones’ protest.

The Rev. Edwin Rowe of Central United Methodist Church downtown urged religious leaders and others in Metro Detroit to speak out against Jones.

“This is a violation of Christianity,” Rowe said. “This is a violation of Judaism. This is a violation of Hinduism. This is a violation of every major faith in the world.”

Qazwini said Jones is trying to provoke Muslims and make money. “I see him fundraising for himself and shopping for more supporters,” said Qazwini.

           — Hat tip: RE[Return to headlines]

‘I Have a Spine Made Out of Titanium’

Michele Bachmann, a darling of the Tea Party movement in the US, voted against President Barack Obama’s budget compromise last week. She spoke with SPIEGEL about the need to cut spending, the US involvement in Libya and her fight for principles.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Obama, The Interpreter of the Message of Passover

Passover recalls the bondage and suffering of Jews in Egypt and the miracle of the Exodus, but U.S. President Barack Obama says its message is reflected in Muslim uprisings.

In his annual message, prior to his third straight participation in the Passover Seder, President Obama stated, “The story of Passover…instructs each generation to remember its past, while appreciating the beauty of freedom and the responsibility it entails. This year that ancient instruction is reflected in the daily headlines as we see modern stories of social transformation and liberation unfolding in the Middle East and North Africa.”

Having constructed a link between the Arab uprisings and Chosen People’s experiencing the miracles of the Creator that led them out of Egypt and towards the receiving of the Ten Commandments, the President concluded, “As Jewish families gather for this joyous celebration of freedom, let us all be thankful for the gifts that have been bestowed upon us, and let us work to alleviate the suffering, poverty, injustice, and hunger of those who are not yet free.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Political Ad Compares Philly to Libya

Republican mayoral candidate John Featherman is turning heads with a new satirical video comparing Philly to Libya.

In the video, an employee of the fictional “Dictator Relocation Program” tries to convince Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi that Philly would be a great place for him to move.

Throughout the video, she speaks on the similarities between Libya and the city of brotherly love, claiming that “Philadelphia’s been a one party state for 59 years, like Libya! Just one! The Democratic machine!”

As the video goes on, not so subtle shots are thrown at former mayor and PHA chairman John Street, Mayor Michael Nutter, Philadelphia School District Superintendent Dr. Arlene Ackerman and the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office.

When Gaddafi asks the employee how Philly Republicans would react to his arrival, she cheerfully replies by saying “the Republicans have an arrangement with the Democrats here, they don’t put up any real opposition! In return they get patronage jobs in the parking authority!”

Brilliant and bold critique or shameless smear tactics? You be the judge.

           — Hat tip: Takuan Seiyo[Return to headlines]

The Goal of Terrorism? Sharia Law

FOX News analyst Dick Morris believes many judges today want to “legitimize” sharia law and make it “an element of Western jurisprudence.”

Morris told attendees of the Pacific Justice Institute’s recent annual gala in Anaheim, California, that sharia law is a monumental threat to the United States government, noting that many judges in America are ruling in favor of it. He argues that it is dangerous to include Islamic sharia law in Western jurisprudence. “It is not that the sharia law is a method of helping terrorism,” he stated.

The goal of international terrorism is the imposition of sharia law.“ The former White House advisor explains that most major financial institutions in the world — such as AIG, Morgan Stanley, and Citibank — have a sharia-compliance fund where individuals can have their investments go directly to sharia-vetted activities.


“And those funds are run by sharia-compliance boards, which consist of the most horrible Islamic imam extremists you can imagine,” he added. “Five or six of them have been bounced off the boards because they went on terror watch lists.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Why? King Asks of Dropped Probe

Says Justice overruled prosecutors on terrorism-funding charges

A leading House Republican says senior Obama administration Justice Department officials overruled U.S. prosecutors and FBI agents who sought to bring new charges against one of the country’s leading Muslim organizations.

Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican and chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, in a letter sent Monday asked Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to answer several questions about the 2008 terrorism-financing prosecution of the Texas-based charity known as the Holy Land Foundation.

Mr. King’s letter followed a recent report on the Internet news portal Pajamas Media that quoted unidentified Justice officials as saying they were overruled in pursuing the prosecution of the Holy Land case.

“I have been reliably informed that the decision not to seek indictments of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and its co-founder Omar Ahmad; the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA); and the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) was usurped by high-ranking officials at Department of Justice headquarters over the vehement and stated objections of special agents and supervisors of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as the prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Dallas, who had investigated and successfully prosecuted the Holy Land Foundation case,” Mr. King stated.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Andrew Bostom: Brit Veteran Imprisoned for Koran Burning

Remembrance Day is a memorial day observed in British Commonwealth countries commemorating their armed forces who have died on duty since World War I. In Flanders Fields was the inspiration for making the red remembrance poppy emblematic of the memorial celebrations on this solemn day. Red poppies bloomed across some of the bloodiest battlefields of Flanders during World War I, their brilliant red color an apposite symbol for the terrible bloodshed during the war.

Infuriated by Muslims burning poppies on Remembrance Day to insult British war veterans, former soldier Andrew Ryan admitted setting fire to a copy of the Koran in the centre of Carlisle. As reported by the BBC (with pathognomonic sneer quotes around the word “objected”) on March 24, 2011:…

           — Hat tip: Andy Bostom[Return to headlines]

Europol: Arab Spring Poses Terrorist Threat to EU

Arab revolutions and the economic crisis could increase the risk of terrorist attacks in the EU by Islamist, far-left and far-right groups, according to a report by the union’s joint police body, Europol.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Fake Blind Man Caught Driving

Naples ‘invalid’ claimed 60,000 euros in benefit

(ANSA) — Caserta, April 18 — An Italian man claiming benefit for blindness was caught driving a car and arrested Monday.

The unnamed man, 67, had claimed some 60,000 euros in benefit since 2003, tax police said.

The man was stopped at a spot check near Naples and countersigned a fine for not having his license on him, without realising he was on a police database of people suspected of invalidity fraud.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Government Shelves Plans to Reintroduce Nuclear Power

Rome, 19 April (AKI) — Italy’s conservative government on Tuesday said it was indefinitely putting on hold plans to build nuclear power plants in the country. The move came after Japan’s ongoing Fukishima nuclear disaster and ahead of a referendum on re-introducing nuclear energy in June, a plebiscite the government says is no longer necessary.

“The programme had been halted in order to acquire more scientific evidence,” the government said in a surprise clause inserted in the text of a decree which was submitted to parliament.

The damage at Japan’s nuclear reactors at Fukushima caused by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in March “has imposed a pause for reflection,” environment Minister Stefania Prestigiacomo said.

But critics from the Italian centre-left opposition and anti-nuclear activists and Italy’s opposition, said the move was an attempt by the government to prevent defeat in the referendum on nuclear power set for 12 June.

The damage to the Japanese reactors in Fukushima has reignited debate on the safety of nuclear energy in Italy which like Japan is prone to earthquakes.

“It is a preventative trick (to avoid the holding of the referendum) that indicates a fact: the strong opposition of the Italian people to nuclear power,” environmentalist group Greenpeace’s director in Italy, Giuseppe Onufrio, said.

The leader of Italy’s largest opposition Democratic Party, Pierluigi Bersani said the government had admitted defeat on the nuclear issue but need to go further to solve Italy’s energy shortage.

“It’s not enough to say goodbye to nuclear energy. We need to develop renewable energy sources,” Bersani stated.

Speaking in Brussels, Italy’s finance minister Giulio Tremonti conceded the need to boost renewables. “After the nuclear accident at Fukishima, we need too think about financing alternative energy through eurobonds,” he said.

Italy abolished nuclear power in a referendum held in the wake of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. But following his 2008 election victory, prime minister Silvio Berlusconi announced his government’s intention to re-introduce nuclear power.

However, last month the government said it was postponing to 2013 a decision, originally scheduled for later this year, on where to eventually situate the power plants.

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

Italy: Venice Street Vendors Protest Against Illegal Rivals

‘We can’t take any more’, they say

(ANSA) — Rome, April 19 — Angry Venice street vendors are protesting against rivals who sell souvenirs illegally in the heart of the city. Several illegal souvenir stalls have been forced to close in front of the five-star Hotel Danieli, two blocks from the city’s famous Saint Mark’s Square. Some vendors who sell souvenirs and street paintings have erected signs in English telling tourists it is illegal to buy handbags from unauthorised vendors.

On the other side of the piazza, signs saying “Enough, we cannot take it any more, we are tired of being second-class citizens” have been placed on the stalls. Another sign claimed that unauthorised vendors had received hundreds of fines “but none of them have been paid”. Protest spokesman Franco Dei Rossi, one of the oldest street painters in Venice, said: “This is a protest against abuse. It is a form of self-defence before the situation degenerates”.

Dei Rossi denounced foreign street vendors, in particular Senegalese, whom he claimed were always in prohibited areas, such as those near the square.

“After 8 o’clock in the evening it’s like the Bronx here, all kinds of things are happening,” he said. “What we are seeking is more control because if it goes on like this, it will finish with us having to ask permission to open our stalls”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy Puts Nuclear Plans on Ice Indefinitely

Govt to abolish measures for new plants

(ANSA) — Rome, April 19 — Italy put plans to resurrect its nuclear programme definitively on ice Tuesday when the government proposed that measures planned for the creation of new atomic plants be scrapped.

The government had already announced a one-year moratorium on its nuclear programme following the crisis at the Fukushima plant after last month’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

After being elected in 2008 Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right government had announced it wanted to return to atomic energy, which Italy abandoned following a referendum one year after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, as part of efforts to end the country’s over-reliance on foreign energy exports.

The government had intended to build four new plants, with construction to begin in 2013, before the Fukushima emergency heightened international concerns about safety that are especially acute in Italy as it is prone to seismic activity.

Tuesday’s move means a referendum on the resurrection of the nuclear programme scheduled for June 12 is likely to be cancelled.

While some opposition politicians welcomed the announcement, others were wary the government is just playing for time.

“This will mean no more referendum, so the government is showing cowardice in depriving voters of the opportunity to express themselves,” Roberto Della Seta and Francesco Ferrante, Senators for the centre-left Democratic Party, said in a statement.

“It is also the end of the one-year moratorium, as the procedure is suspended indefinitely, while they wait for better times after dodging the obstacle of the referendum, which would have rejected the government’s nuclear adventure”.

Other critics said the move left a big vacuum in Italy’s energy policy and argued the government should set about investing in renewable energy sources in a big way.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy’s Finance Minister Suggests Drawing Up New EU Treaty

Industrialists criticize Tremonti plan to raise Italy’s standing

(ANSA) — Milan, April 19 — Italy’s Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti said defining a new European Union treaty was “a hypothesis to take into consideration” while speaking to the Constitutional Affairs Committee of the European Parliament Wednesday.

The treaties that established the European Union “were written before globalization. They are suitable, but are products of a bygone world,” Tremonti added in response to a question posed by an EMP.

The global financial crisis “could be a reason to think about a new (treaty) and I hope a more intense agreement, seizing the moment”, said Tremonti.

Tremonti clarified that such a treaty should be taken to “reinforce” the EU, and would be “the exact opposite of exiting the (existing) treaties”, and thus he denied an Italian news report he said misinterpreted his comments.

The European Union was officially established with the Maastricht treaty of 1993, and then expanded and updated with the Amsterdam Treaty of 1999, the Nice Treaty of 2003 and the Lisbon Treaty of 2009.

EU antecedents were forged through treaties struck in the decades stretching back to the end of World War II, with the landmark European Economic Community hammered out through treaties made in the late 1950s in Rome.

But while Tremonti floated the idea of refashioning the EU, representatives of Italy’s industrialists expressed dismay over his latest effort to improve Italy’s status within it.

A representative for the Italian industrialists’ association Confindustria invoked the Maastricht Treaty as he criticized as over-ambitious the Italian finance ministry’s plan for new austerity measures over the next five years.

The ministry’s Economic and Finance Document (DEF), which outlines the government’s economic plans through 2014, sets deficit-reduction targets every year with the objective of reaching a balanced budget by 2014, and starts with a deficit goal for 2011 of 3.9%.

“These data delineate an effort far greater than that taken in the 1990s to respect the parameters of Maastricht and to participate in the single European currency from its start,” Confindustria Managing Director Giampaolo Galli told the Italian parliament’s budget and finance committees reviewing the DEF.

Italy’s last minute belt-tightening efforts to join the single currency were considered Herculean at the time.

“The effort indicated by the government to recover (its finances) is extremely ambitious,” Galli continued.

“To achieve these goals, the government, in addition to confirming the (austerity) commitments already made, takes on more, planning to launch an operation (worth) 2.3% of GDP for the two years 2013-2014”.

This commitment, claimed Galli, “is even more burdensome today, in a context rendered difficult by the consequences of the global financial crisis and by the accumulated loss of competitiveness in our country”.

Considering “the high tax burden” which does not permit a margin for maneuvering on this scale, “to succeed, an effort of this kind requires that one redraw spending mechanisms (as well as) the reach of the State in the economy and society”.

Without these changes, said Galli, the burden of economic commitments are likely to be unsustainable. Growing public shortfalls might be hidden as “debts toward suppliers” and important long-term investments, like public infrastructure, could be compromised.

Public investments, Galli noted, “would fall from 38 billion euros in 2009 to 27 billion euros in 2012. “It means a significant decrease that would have long-term effects on the infrastructure of the country and would conflict with the European Union recommendations, that ask for (financial) rehabilitation without penalizing infrastructure spending”.

The Italian Senate is to discuss the DEF on May 3

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Overfished, Underprotected: Dozens of Fish Species Threatened in the Mediterranean

Many species of fish could disappear from the waters of the Mediterranean in the near future, says a new study. Several types of sharks and rays are threatened, as are many commercial fish. Protection has long been too lax.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Wave of Car Fires in Gothenburg Suburb

Youth gangs were responsible for a number of fires in the Gothenburg suburb of Västra Frölunda on Monday night, with several cars set alight and police attacked with stones. Five cars, a trailer and two mopeds were reported to have been set alight during the course of the evening with a tram and a police vehicle damaged by stone throwing.

The incidents were classified as aggravated criminal damage and police increased patrols in the area. At around midnight there were large number of people on the streets near Vättnedal school, with adjoining roads barricaded by burning tyres, according to the local Göteborgs-Posten daily. A number of local residents had gathered on their balconies to watch the events unfold. “How can you do this in an area in which you live? Where are the parents and why don’t the police drive through the gates?” asked a man in his his twenties who has lived in the area for ten years.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

True Finns’ Nationalism Colours Finland Election

An anti-immigration party in Finland — the True Finns — has surged in popularity and could produce a surprise in Sunday’s general election, opinion polls suggest.

Jan Sundberg, Professor of Political Science at Helsinki University, looks at the True Finns phenomenon and the party’s chances of joining the next coalition government.

The True Finns saw political potential among the neglected people in society. Their political message is two-fold: social-democratic welfare combined with nationalism and xenophobia.

They have targeted dissatisfied Finns who have suffered from the previous governments’ economic policies.

The last time Finland faced a similar situation was in 1970, when the True Finns’ predecessor, the Rural Party, surged from almost nothing to 18 seats in the 200-seat parliament.

Later the Rural Party split, but it made a successful comeback in the 1983 election.

‘Embraced to death’

Finnish politics has been stable for years because ruling coalitions have integrated and then diluted the radical parties of left and right.

That was the fate of the Communists and, later, the Rural Party. Novelist Leif Salmen wrote that the Communists were “embraced to death”. The True Finns emerged from the Rural Party in the 1990s when that party failed to keep its election promises.

Finland is officially bilingual, but the True Finns’ nationalism has no room for Swedish. It excludes Swedish as something unfamiliar to Finnish culture. Polls suggest that most Finns share that view and want to stop the teaching of Swedish in Finnish schools.

There is also a widespread view that immigration is damaging Finland and Finnish culture.

Parties tend to follow popular trends among the electorate, even if they have an authoritarian streak. That is a general weakness of democracy.

The right-wing populist Danish People’s Party is not a strong actor in Danish politics, but its xenophobia has spread to the major parties.

The Sweden Democrats, on the other hand, are kept isolated by all parties in the Swedish parliament.

In contrast to Sweden, parties in Finland have adopted — to differing degrees — the nationalist stance of the True Finns. That is certainly true of the Christian Democrats and Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi’s Centre Party.

Nationalist message

The True Finns’ manifesto indicates they have much in common with right-wing populist parties elsewhere in Europe.

They believe that a low birth rate is not solved by immigration, as that results in problems and foreigners do not fit into Finnish culture. Instead, young women should study less and spend more time giving birth to pure Finnish children. That is like a faint echo of Nazi ideology.

If the True Finns do as well as expected the rival parties may opt for the traditional strategy of integration, but this time it is likely to backfire, because the economic climate has changed.

Finland suffered when the Soviet economy collapsed, because the USSR was a major export market for Finnish goods.

But in 1995 Finland joined the EU and Nokia developed into a globally successful mobile phone manufacturer. Finland joined the eurozone wholeheartedly in 2002.

But for many Finns today EU membership is no longer sexy — not when it involves bailing out countries like Greece, the Republic of Ireland and Portugal.

Other companies have caught up with Nokia and even the traditional “green gold” of Finland — timber — has lost its lustre. One paper and pulp mill after another has closed and many workers have been fired.

If the True Finns join the next coalition Finland will turn in some degree towards stronger nationalism and protectionism.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

UK: Freedom of Dress is Part of Our Freedom of Expression

Is it too much to suggest that at the heart of the Western manner of dress is a reverence for the face, and that this springs from a religious impulse?

I caught sight of a “burkini” the other day — that is a lady wearing what is supposed to be a sharia-compliant bathing costume. These costumes have not won universal approbation but this is Britain and we are a tolerant bunch, so if someone wants to wear a burkini, that is fine by most of us. And the same goes for the full face veil, the burka or the niqab.

There is very little chance that anyone will try to do here what has been done in France, namely ban the burka, as Andrew Gilligan points out in a very sensible article in the Sunday Telegraph.

On the whole it is best that governments do not decide what people can and cannot wear. Historically such legislation has often been aimed at the Catholic Church. Clerical dress is still illegal, for example, in Mexico, thanks to the anti-Catholic laws passed under president Plutarco Elias Calles. If anyone should start a campaign to restrict the way Muslims dress in this country, then the Catholic Church should be vocal in its opposition.

However, this is not to say that the increasing use of the niqab should be a matter of indifference to us. Everyone knows that the way you dress is a sign of what you believe about yourself and your place in the world. It is certainly worth trying to understand what it is that veiled women are trying to tell us; it is remarkable that the politicians have, as Gilligan points out, not been interested in their views. It is also undeniable that the niqab and the burka are not Western dress.

But does non-Western mean anti-Western? And for that question to make sense, we need to work out what we mean by Western, and what exactly we mean by Western dress. After all, just as the Islamic world has its code of dress, so do we — though of course our dress code is not written down anywhere, and neither do we ever give it much thought..

The trouble with any talk of clothing is that it often degenerates into a row about public decency, without any discussion of the positive. Well, what is the positive point of Western dress?

We wear clothes, surely, to enhance our human dignity. And we never ever cover our faces as a matter of course, because the face is the sign of our individuality, an individuality that comes to us as a gift from the Creator. Indeed the face is called “human face divine” by the poet Milton. He counts the loss of it as the saddest thing inflicted on him by his blindness:

Thus with the year

Seasons return, but not to me returns

Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn,

Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer’s rose,

Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;

But cloud instead, and ever-during dark

Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men

Cut off, and for the book of knowledge fair

Presented with a universal blank

Of Nature’s works to me expunged and rased,

And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out.

- Paradise Lost (bk. III, l. 40)

To show your face to others is to give them an insight into the glory of Creation. To damage the face is to deface the work of God. To be denied sight of the face is to be cut off from the cheerful ways of men — there is so much that is comforting in the sight of a happy face. Is it too much to suggest that at the heart of the Western manner of dress is a reverence for the face, and that this springs from a religious impulse?

The other thing that underlines the Western approach to dress is its individuality — an individuality that reflects the fact that we are all very different, one size most surely does not fit all, and that we like and enjoy being different from each other. That we do not have a uniform and that we do not want one is surely an ethical position. Freedom of dress is part of our freedom of expression — again, a freedom given to us by God.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Killers: Child Sex Offenders and a Rapist on the Run… But Officials Refuse to Name Them Because of Their ‘Human Rights’

Killers, child sex offenders and a rapist are among nearly 50 dangerous criminals who are on the run — but whose identities are protected by Human Rights laws.

The 47 ‘high’ or ‘very high-risk’ offenders are among almost 1,000 prisoners who have been released early only to re-offend and then refuse to return to jail, Ministry of Justice figures showed.

But officials have refused to name the criminals, citing data protection rules and operational reasons, and said it is up to individual police forces to decide if they want to identify the offenders….

‘Labour allowed the privacy of dangerous offenders to be put ahead of public protection,’ Conservative MP Dominic Raab told The Sun.

‘The Coalition must reverse those warped priorities We can’t have dozens of high risk fugitives shielded on human rights grounds.’

The MoJ figures were released to The Sun following a request under freedom of information laws.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Race Hate Vandals Strike Near Birkenhead Mosque

HATE crime vandals spray-painted racial slurs over homes near Birkenhead’s mosque.

The area surrounding the Borough Road mosque was targeted at the weekend with offensive graffiti such as “Islam = Murder” and “Britain for the British.”

The graffiti — painted onto walls in Sycamore Road and Mounsey Road, Birkenhead — has sparked outrage among local residents.

One householder contacted the Globe via email to express disgust at the attack.

The resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “It is completely out of order, how can some bigoted people come in and think they can get away with this?

“They clearly don’t know much about the area because I am a white European, as are a lot of my neighbours.

“Of course, there are some ethnic minorities also living here but why should they have to put up with this sort of thing?

“I sincerely hope the culprits are caught and dealt with accordingly.”

Police say that following house-to-house inquiries, two males, aged 17 and 20, were arrested on suspicion of a public order offence.

The men have been released on police bail pending further inquiries and the outcome of forensic results.

A spokesman said: “Merseyside Police do not tolerate any form of racist beheviour and would urge anyone who has any information on hate crime to contact us.”

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

UK: Royal Wedding to be ‘Protected by EDL Ring of Steel’

THE leader of the English Defence League says the organisation’s members will risk prosecution in a bid to protect next week’s royal wedding from Islamic extremists.

EDL leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, who goes by the pseudonym Tommy Robinson, said ‘50 to 100’ members would be at each train station near Westminster Abbey to prevent extremist Muslims from reaching the ceremony.

Muslims Against Crusades announced this week that it planned to demonstrate outside the April 29 ceremony, but its bid was blocked yesterday by the Metropolitan Police.

The group was behind the burning of a poppies on Armistice Day last year.

In an announcement on its website, Muslims Against Crusades said it hoped “the day which the nation has been dreaming of for so long will become a nightmare”.

Mr Yaxley-Lennon, who runs a tanning salon in Hastings Street, Luton, said EDL members planned to physically stop Muslim extremists getting to Westminster Abbey.

“The police will let them have their protest but we’ll be at each train station to make sure they don’t come,” he said.

“It’s going to be a public order offence — there will be mass disorder. We will form a ring of steel around that wedding.

“It will be ordinary members of the public going in to prevent a crime because the police won’t stop it. “We will be issued with Section 14 orders because we would cause a breach of the peace.”

In its statement yesterday, Muslims Against Crusades said Prince William should “withdraw from the crusader British military and give up all affiliation to the tyrannical British Empire”.

They said the demonstration was justified to highlight Britain’s “quest to occupy Muslim land and wage war against the religion of God”.

Mr Yaxley-Lennon said ordinary Muslims heading to Westminster Abbey would have nothing to fear from the English Defence League.

“Muslims Against Crusades will be carrying black flags and will be in uniform so we will know who they are,” he said. “As soon as they come out of any station there’s going to be chaos.”

Asked whether he was concerned that the EDL’s presence would only cause further disruption, he said: “It can’t get any worse than if Muslims Against Crusades turn up. You have freedom of speech but this is ordinary members of the British public who are angry about this, which is what happened when they tried to disrupt the Poachers’ parade in Luton.”

Mr Yaxley-Lennon said he would not be in London himself on April 29 as he will be away on holiday.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Violence Against Under-11s Rises by 20% in One Year

The number of young children injured in violent attacks has shot up by almost a fifth, figures revealed yesterday.

Experts warned the rise could be linked to fewer children being taken into care, leaving them at risk of assault by their parents or other relatives.

Figures for last year showed 3,402 children aged under 11 were taken to hospital after being beaten up. This is a rise of 17.3 per cent from 2,814 in 2009.

The figures were collected from accident and emergency departments in England and Wales by researchers at Cardiff University.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt: Top Sunni Cleric Warns Tehran Not to Meddle in Arab States

(AKI) — A top Egyptian Sunni cleric on Tuesday urged Iran “not to interfere” in turmoil-hit Arab countries. Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb’s warning came after Tehran said Tuesday that it had appointed an ambassador to Egypt for the first time in 30 years.

“Iran must not interfere in events in Bahrain and other Arab countries, but must consider what is happening as internal questions. This will help dialogue between Sunnis and Shias,” al-Tayyeb told a press conference, cited by the Youm7 website.

His remarks came after Shia-majority Bahrain’s foreign minister stated on Monday there was no state of emergency in his country due to the recent unrest, but rather a “national safety situation” because of interference from Iran.

Since mid-March, Saudi troops have been helping Bahraini security forces brutally suppress a pro-democracy rebellion against Sunni hereditary monarch Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa that began mid-February. At least 30 people have died and over 500 have been injured during the protests. Some 500 people in Bahrain are known to have been detained during the current unrest and many are believed to have been tortured.

Al-Tayyeb also urged the rulers of states caught up in the wave of pro-democracy unrest that has hit the region this year, such as Libya, Yemen and Syria, to end the deadly violence against civilians.

“Put an end to the current bloodbath aimed at repressing the revolts by peoples who have a right to more freedom,” al-Tayyeb said.

Egypt’s longtime autocratic ruler Hosni Mubarak resigned in February after three weeks of nationwide anti-government protests in which hundreds of people were killed and over 1,000 injured.

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

Egypt Traffic Dispute Turns Into Sectarian Brawl

CAIRO (AP) — Two Muslims were killed in southern Egypt after a dispute over a speed bump with a Christian family spiraled out of control and turned into destructive sectarian riot, reported the state news agency Tuesday.

Local residents of small village in the province of Minya were incensed by the presence of a large speed bump outside the villa of a prominent Coptic Christian lawyer and member of the former ruling party, which has since been dissolved.

The dispute with the house guards turned violent and they opened fire, killing two bystanders and incensing the local community.

A mob then ransacked a cafe owned by the lawyer and several homes of local Christians.

Christians make up 10 percent of Egypt’s population of 80 million and for the most part live in peace with the Muslim majority, though they complain of discrimination. Sectarian strife occasionally breaks out, particularly in the southern, poorer parts of the country.

In recent weeks, however, following the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, many religious conservatives in the countryside have become more assertive and anti-government protests occasionally take on a sectarian tone.

In Qena province, south of Minya, five days of protests led by ultraconservative Salafi Muslims have been calling for the resignation of a newly appointed Christian governor.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Libya: Rebels Officially Call for Western Troops

(AGI) Benghazi — For the first time since clashes have started, rebels in Misrata officially called for foreign troops to be sent to Libya. Nuri Abdullah Abdullati, a high representative of the rebels’ government in the city besieged by pro-Gaddafi troops, expressly called on French and British troops to intervene on behalf of “humanitarian” principles. “If they don’t come, we will die”, he said.

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

Serbia: West Breaching UN Mandate on Libya Says Russian Foreign Minister

Belgrade, 19 April (AKI) — Western powers are violating the United Nations Security Council resolution authorising military intervention to protect civilians in Libya, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday.

He called on the world body to initiate a dialogue instead of confrontation.

During a visit to Belgrade, Lavrov said the Resolution 1973 authorising a no-fly zone and military strikes in Libya to protect civilians “never set a goal to replace the regime in that country”.

“Those who use the resolution for that purpose openly violate the UN mandate,” Lavrov said.

“It’s a dangerous logic, which can trigger a chain reaction,” Lavrov said.

“The Security Council must set an urgent ceasefire as its goal,” he stated.

Russia is Serbia’s leading trading partner and traditionally friendly relations between the two countries were continuing to improve, Lavrov said after talks with president Boris Tadic and foreign minister Vuk Jeremic.

Moscow blocked Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia in the Security Council three years ago. Lavrov said Russia would back Serbia’s move in the Security Council to set a special commission to investigate alleged human organs trafficking by the Kosovo Liberation Army and crimes against Serb civilians.

He said Serbia’s drive to join the European Union wouldn’t harm relations with Moscow, adding that it was an “artificial problem”.

“Serbia doesn’t have to choose between East and West,” Lavrov said.

Tadic discussed with Lavrov his forthcoming visit to Moscow when the two countries were expected to sign an agreement on “strategic partnership”.

After the Belgrade, talks Lavrov was due to make a brief stop in Podgorica later on Tuesday for talks with neighbouring Montenegro’s leaders.

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

Spiegel Interview With Mohamed Elbaradei: ‘Egypt’s Military Leadership is Reacting Too Slowly’

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohamed ElBaradei plans to run in the Egyptian presidential election scheduled for the end of this year. In a SPIEGEL interview, he discusses the arrest of former President Hosni Mubarak and the growing mistrust of Egypt’s military leadership.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Man Sentenced in Honor Killing — 17 Years Later

Nabil Abu-Hadir of the Shuafat neighborhood of Jerusalem was sentenced Sunday for murdering his sister Taghrid Diab 17 years ago in an “honor killing.” Abu-Hadir was found guilty of stabbing his sister to death at a Jerusalem bus stop as her three young children cried and begged him to stop.

The 17-year delay in delivering justice was due to the fact that Abu-Hadir fled Jerusalem following the murder, running to the nearby city of Bethlehem, which is controlled by the Palestinian Authority. There, he worked as a university lecturer and raised a family.

Abu-Hadir was sentenced to life in prison. In addition, he was ordered to pay each of Taghrid’s children 100,000 shekels.

The children testified in court that they were left psychologically scarred by witnessing the murder and then growing up without a mother. “It is easy to understand the children, and to see that their suffering was very great,” wrote judges Yaakov Tzeven, Miryam Mizrachi and Rafi Carmel. “It is painful and difficult to grow up without a mother; and seven times harder after a child saw his mother stabbed 23 times before his eyes.”

“Something like that would leave a mark on the heart and soul of any person, all the more so a young child.”

Abu-Hadir’s other relatives showed support for him in court. During his trial, sister Hana Abu-Hadir said, “This involved my brother and my sister. But she is with G-d now, and he did not commit this murder. The court did not consider Nabil’s wife and children.”

Abu-Hadir’s attorney has expressed hope that the Supreme Court will overturn his client’s conviction. He accused the state of destroying evidence that could have led the court to find Abu-Hadir innocent.

Nabil Abu-Hadir argues that during the time of the murder he was in another sister’s home. Judges found him guilty based on both eyewitness testimony and his own suspicious behavior, including his behavior on the day of the murder, his lack of interest in Taghrid’s death, and his flight to Bethlehem.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Obama Preps for Declaration of Palestinian State

Land grab would give Arabs historically Jewish territories

The Obama administration has asked the Palestinian Authority to halt talks on a unity government with Hamas, according to a senior PA official.

The official said the White House fears a unity government with the Islamist group would make it difficult for the U.S. and European Union to support the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state in the United Nations.

The information is the latest indicator Obama will not veto the controversial U.N. resolution, which would recognize a Palestinian state in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip as well as the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, purportedly including the Temple Mount.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Project to Steer Pilgrims to Palestinians

U.S. says Christian tourists leave for Israel too quickly

Just days after Hamas militants rained rockets on Israeli civilians, the Obama administration alerted contractors to a U.S.-financed endeavor whose aim is to have Christian pilgrims stay longer — and thereby spend more money — in Palestinian territory rather than in Israel.

The U.S. Agency for International Development, which is financing the Enterprise Development for Global Competitiveness Project, on April 11 released a Request for Proposals (RFP), #RFP294-2011-204, seeking “innovative solutions to unique constraints on Palestinian businesses” in the West Bank and Gaza.

According to the solicitation, which WND located via routine database research, USAID identified tourism as one of the four most promising industry growth sectors for the Palestinians.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Arab Spring Possible Only if All Citizens Have Equal Rights, Says Mgr Sako

The archbishop of Kirkuk warns against the rise of fundamentalist movements and the growth of ethnic and religious sectarianism. For him, Christians can play an active and fundamental role in creating new forms of government. “In this Holy Week of Easter, let us must pray and hope that such changes can be achieved peacefully,” he says.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) — In the Middle East, the ideals of freedom and democracy that have ostensibly inspired the Arab spring, could be stifled by religious and ethnic sectarianism, putting minorities, especially Christians, at risk. Mgr Louis Sako, archbishop of Kirkuk (Iraq), told AsiaNews that democracy is impossible “unless they [governments] grant all their citizens the same citizenship”. Today, in no Arab nation is there a plan to create a system that respects the rights and specificities of every group. There is a danger that many countries might become like Iraq, under the thumb of Muslim extremism and ethnic and religious sectarianism. Recent attacks against civilians are evidence of this. The latest one was perpetrated this morning in Baghdad, when a bomb exploded at a Green Zone’ checkpoint, killing nine people.

For Mgr Sako, things can change if an open and pluralistic culture spread to families and the school. Governments, for their part, must assume their responsibilities and defend citizens’ rights. Muslim religious leaders must also adapt their religion to the challenges of modernity.

Christians can help in implementing these changes, the prelate said, because they are an example of openness and bear witness to the ideals of freedom and equality. Last Sunday, Palm Sunday, thousands of Christians crowded Baghdad churches to pray for Iraq and His resurrection.

Arab nations will not be stable or democratic unless they grant all their citizens the same citizenship. Arab nations are a mixture of various ethnic groups, cultures, languages, languages and doctrines. They include Arabs, Kurds, Assyro-Chaldeans, Turkmen, Shebeks, Copts, Armenians, Shias, Sunnis, and Christians of various denominations, Yazidis, Druses and more. Their traditional mindset is patriarchal, tribal and sectarian. Education and teaching programmes are usually imposed from above and are viewed as infallible. Thus, they do not stimulate thinking and analyses or kindle the quest for new knowledge or possibilities.

Arab nations have no plans to integrate people into a single citizenship that respects each group’s particular features. Pluralism and diversity do not mean division and chaos but can lead instead to progress, cooperation and creativity.

Since the early 20th century until the 1970s, the concept of ‘ummah’ or nation developed among Arab peoples to fight Western colonial powers that had occupied the region and created separate countries with no consideration for its ethnic makeup.

For years, the ‘Arab nation’ struggled against imperialism with the help of poets and writers who played a key role in creating a national consciousness among the people. For years, nationalism united various ethnic groups and Muslim denominations but created a double sense of “belonging” among minorities.

In the second half of the 20th century, highly centralised authoritarian regimes emerged in these countries, with power exerted by single families or tribes. The latter used the education system and mass media to control the population. They enforced coexistence. People were treated as a flock and anyone who dared leave the stable had better be beware.

In the 21st century, especially after the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, groups of young people begin to organise to change the Arab world, but they lack both a concrete vision as well as a “clear leadership”. These young people are not fully aware that the road towards democracy and freedom will be long and hard.

Political Islam is hiding behind some of these movements and its aim is to set up confessional and sectarian regimes, Sunni or Shia depending on the country, as an alternative to the nation-state.

Confessional movements and sects are often organised according to military principles and possess their own armed militias. Since the 2003 invasion and the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, Iraq has been a privileged place to see sectarian differences at work, but it is not alone. The same problem is developing in Egypt, Yemen, Libya and Syria.

We Iraqi Christians have paid a heavy price for this. Intolerance based on ethnic or religious grounds does not help co-existence and can lead to hostility rather than friendship.

Here are a few suggestions for positive change:

1- Seek the right means to correct these errors. Acknowledge those who are different from yourself and accept them as equals and not second-class citizens. Build true coexistence. Apply the principle of justice equally. This is necessary for any positive and peaceful change.

2 — Within the family, educate children in an open and pluralistic manner so that they can be oriented towards dialogue with those who are different from them and be against any form of ethnic or religious superiority.

3 — Ensure that education is based on reason and not emotion. View diversity and pluralism as enriching rather than a loss.

4 — Governments must accept responsibility for what is happening. Political leaders who lead nations must build a state based on civil institutions. The only criterion standard is that of citizenship, which should not depend on ethnic, religious or sectarian bases. Everyone must have the same rights and duties and be equal before the law.

5 — Muslim religious leaders must choose a just and moderate form of Islam (Wasatia) that is in line with today’s circumstances and contexts.

6 — These countries should not view other regional powers and international institutions as welfare agencies to be used for one’s own self-interest or to influence governments.

Eastern Christians, who are being forced to emigrate at this point in time, can help the Middle East to change through openness and the ideals of freedom. They can offer an alternative to existing regimes and contribute to the building of more civil and secular states, thus reducing extremism.

Christians need their own political and religious leadership, not only to defend their rights, but also those of all citizens so as to contribute to reconciliation and to a culture based on dialogue and peace.

In this Holy Week of Easter, let us must pray and hope that such changes can be achieved peacefully.

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

Dubai Buys Spanish La Liga Club, To Rename ‘Team Dubai’

Royal Emirates Group, the Dubai investment group chaired by HRH Sheikh Butti Bin Suhail Al Maktoum, has bought a top-league Spanish football team set to be renamed ‘Team Dubai’.

The privately-held firm said in a statement Tuesday that it has taken over ownership of a La Liga — Spain’s premiership league — team in a deal to be announced Thursday.

“The said team will be named as ‘Team Dubai’,” the statement said.

The unnamed club is speculated to be the debt-ridden Spanish club Zaragoza. Spanish media reports in February a Dubai sovereign wealth fund had made a €3m buyout offer for the team.

The deal reportedly included a guarantee to service the club’s debts, taking the value of the transaction to around €130m.

Zaragoza management did not comment on the deal at the time.

Spain’s ‘La Liga’ includes some of the richest teams in the world, including Atlético Madrid, Barcelona, Málaga, Real Madrid and Valencia.

A spokesperson for Royal Emirates Group said the club’s chairman and several high-profile players were due to arrive in Dubai in the next 24-hours.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Istanbul’s Armenian Women Mocked for Victim Shelter Plan

Female members of the Armenian community in Istanbul started plans to set up a women’s shelter for poor victims of domestic violence, but they claim officials from community foundations have denied them a venue for the project

Female members of Istanbul’s Armenian community started plans to set up a women’s shelter for poor victims of domestic violence, even though community foundations officials denied them a venue for the project. If the project grows it will reach out to women of other minority groups.

The Haygin Platform (Armenian Women’s Platform) is behind the new plan. One of the founders, Kayus Çalikman, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review that their application for a building has been turned down by officials from various community foundations.

“They didn’t even take us seriously. They mocked us by asking, how will you allure our women? Some spiritual leaders in the community suggested we give up on the idea,” said Çalikman. Her 12-year-old daughter was also bullied by friends who allegedly said, “Your mother is a feminist,” she said.

She said the group even went to Patriarch Mesrop II, but claimed the patriarch was not willing to support civilian initiatives. “He told us that we could gather under the patriarchate’s roof if necessary, but we wanted to do something totally different.”

Although there are feminists among the platform’s members, Çalikman is not a feminist, and she said the reason why she is part of the project is to support vulnerable women and help them have a voice.

Harutyun Sanli, from VADIP said, “If such an application had been made to the foundation, it could’ve been evaluated. We want projects with social content and with any kind of difficulties on the agenda. It is impossible for us, as foundations, to remain reluctant about the community’s problem.”

Sanli also drew attention to the legal difficulties created by the deteriorating health of the partriarch since 2007.

“Let’s say he was in good health and that he received such an application. But let’s not forget that the patriarchate has no legal entity. It doesn’t even have ownership. How could it provide a building?” Sanli said.

Patriarch Mesrop II has been diagnosed with frontal demans (dementia). His seat is still empty. President of the Surp Pirgiç Armenian Hospital Foundation, the community’s biggest foundation in Zeytinburnu, Melkon Karaköse said, “I’ve been the foundation’s president for years, but there has been no such application submitted to our foundation for a women’s shelter.” The Armenian community has a total of 30 foundations in Istanbul.

‘We want an empty building’

As to the question on why Armenian women subjected to domestic violence do not resort to any other women’s shelter in Istanbul and why they needed a new shelter home, Çalikman said, “It is impossible for our women to seek services in an open shelter for various reasons,” without elaborating.

Çalikman’s project foresees women in the shelter to cook and earn money by selling their food. “Their children will be with them after school. We will place expert psychologists in the shelter without disclosing their identity to the public. Therefore, we can help women more,” she said.

Çalikman said the only thing they need for the project is an empty building. “Unfortunately, the foundation and boards are male-dominated. Very few women on the boards belong to powerful families who control the finances. Many buildings are being used as personal storage units by foundation boards and none of them are being given to help abused women,” she said.

‘The other of the other’

“We, as the women of a minority, are the ‘other of the other,’“ said Çalikman, “When you look from the outside, women in the community appear not to have problems. It is because they are the other of the other that they are afraid of revealing their problems, they accept what they are offered and don’t question,” she said.

Çalikman brought up church wedding ceremonies and said, “During a matrimonial ceremony, women take an oath to obey their husbands. A woman starts a family by making a pledge of obedience.”

The Armenian community in Turkey started to shrink after World War I and is now around 50,000. There are also an estimated 20,000 Armenians who have come from neighboring Armenia and work illegally.

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

Syrian Government Will Suppress Revolts of Salafite Groups

(AGI) Damascus — The Syrian government promised to “suppress the armed revolt of salafite groups” “The latest incidents proved that armed salafite groups have openly urged to revolt, especially in Banias and Homs,” reports a Ministry communique, referring to “soldiers, policemen and civilians killed”.

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

Syria: Forces Open Fire on Demonstrators in Third-Biggest City

(AKI) — Syria’s security forces on Tuesday opened fire on thousands of anti-government protesters in the Homs, the country’s third-biggest city, news reports said, citing witnesses.

Shortly following police warning to evacuate Clock Square, security forces fired tear gas a volley of live ammunition, demonstrators and activists said.

“They shot at everything, there was smoke everywhere,” an activist in Homs told Associated Press by telephone. “I saw people on the ground, some shot in their feet, some in the stomach.”

Protest group Syrian Uprising 2011 Information Centre on its Facebook page on Tuesday said ambulances were prevented from helping the wounded. The group said it has not been able to accurately count the number of victims.

Syrian protesters last month began demonstrating in the southern city of Deraa to call for increased freedom of expression and assembly and an end to corruption.

The Damascus Declaration group, Syria’s largest human rights group, in a letter to the Arab League secretary general recently said 200 people have died since protests began in March.

Syria has blamed ultra-conservative Islamists for inciting unrest. The country’s interior ministry has equated the demonstrations to armed insurrection.

President Bashar al-Assad is under popular pressure to introduce major political reforms and end emergency powers which give security services powers to crush dissent,

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

Syria: Radicals: Anti-Regime March on Friday in North Lebanon

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, APRIL 19 — A radical Islamic movement based in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli has called a “massive demonstration” next Friday out of solidarity with “the oppressed Syrian people” and against the Assad regime that has been in power for 40 years, according to today’s As Safir newspaper.

The paper, which is known for its close ties with Damascus, points out that the Lebanese branch of Hizb Ut Tahrir (The Freedom Party), the name associated with outlawed radical Sunni fundamentalism in many countries in the Arab and Islamic world, including Syria, has called for a march next Friday “immediately after prayers, leaving from the Mansuri mosque and arriving at Tall Square,” in the centre of Tripoli.

From the 1980s until 2005, the port city in northern Lebanon was under the control of the Syrian army and security services as part of the political and military protection exercised by Damascus over Lebanon for 29 years. Tripoli lies 30 kilometres from the Syrian border. It is also the birthplace of the current Prime Minister, Najib Miqati, who is widely known to be a personal friend of the Syrian President, Bashar Al Assad.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Syria: Regime: Armed Insurrection From Radical Islamists

(ANSAmed) — NEW YORK, APRIL 19 — The Syrian regime has said that it will repress further the street protests in the country, which it says are an “armed insurrection” carried out by radical Islamic extremists from a Salafist background. The comments from the country’s Interior Minister come as the country remains gripped by serious tensions, with further deaths reported among protesters, tens of thousands of whom in some cities are now openly demanding the resignation of the President, Bashar Al Assad. Albeit indirectly, the United States are behind the protests, according to the Washington Post, which has published a series of American diplomatic cables obtained from Wikileaks, which show that the Americans have secretly financed Syrian opposition groups over the last five years.

But the Syrian regime is pointing the finger at an internal enemy. “The course of events has shown that there is an armed insurrection by armed groups belonging to Salafist organisations, especially in the cities of Homs and Banias,” the Interior Minister said. The threat of Islamic fundamentalism of a similar orientation to that of the group responsible for the killing of Italian aid worker Vittorio Arrigoni has been used to justify a toughening of the repression. “We will not tolerate terrorist activity from these armed groups; we will impose security and stability with determination”.

Meanwhile, tensions in Syria continue to run high. Thousands of people attended the funerals of eight protesters killed last night in the city of Homs, with humanitarian sources saying that the people were killed in cold blood by government forces. However it is thought that there have been at least four further deaths in the city, where 20,000 people took part in a sit-in organised last night.

It has since emerged that at least 6 million dollars in financing, if not more, have been authorised by Washington to support anti-government groups and activities. These include Barada TV, a channel run by Syrians exiled in London. Although Washington’s position has always been to avoid any direct involvement in Syria, classified documents reveal that the Movement for Justice and Development, a group of Syrian exiles based in London that has fought the Assad regime for years, received more than 6 million dollars to launch Barada TV. The channel takes its name from the river that runs through Damascus. It began broadcasting in 2009 and, according to the Washington Post, has become a reference not only for exiled Syrians but also for many citizens within the country. In a cable sent to Washington in 2009, the highest ranking US diplomat based in Syria suggested that the State Department should reconsider American involvement in the country. The Syrian authorities “without any doubt would consider any American financing of non-recognised political groups as an attempt to support a regime change,” the document says. At a time when the Obama administration was seeking a rapprochement with Damascus (a new American ambassador arrived in January, the first in six years), the financing of illegal groups could have put the new political line at risk. The Washington Post says that “it is not clear” whether or not financings are still ongoing. There has been no confirmation by official sources and the newspaper says that it is unable to name its own sources for security reasons. The State Department has made no comment on the authenticity of the Wikileaks documents.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Syria Lifts 48-Year State of Emergency as Thousands of Protesters Refuse to Leave City Square Until Assad is Ousted

The Syrian government yesterday lifted the country’s 48-year-old state of emergency to try to appease anti-government protesters.

But demonstrations continued as opposition leaders dismissed the historic move as an attempt by President Bashar Assad to make out he was making reforms while maintaining his hardline rule.

In the country’s third largest city, Homs, security officers opened fire on a 5,000-strong crowd occupying a central square yesterday. At least two people were said to have been killed and more than a dozen seriously wounded.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Turkey: ‘Sex Bus’ Quarrel Results in Violence, Investigation in Istanbul

A bus driver warned a couple on the bus and said, “This is not a place for sex” among other things.

A dispute over a couple accused of acting too intimate on an Istanbul city bus by the driver turned into a fight Sunday and led to an investigation being officially declared Monday.

“Our personnel whose name was involved in the mentioned incident was determined quickly and the necessary procedure was begun,” said an official announcement from Istanbul’s bus management company on Monday.

According to a student involved in the altercations, the bus driver warned a couple on the bus and said, “This is not a place for sex” among other things. The couple was allegedly too intimate but 28-year-old university student Gökçe Koç, who was on the bus at the Taksim Square stop, told Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Monday that the couple was merely holding hands. Koç said he intervened because the attitude disturbed him.

“You can be a conservative person against flirting, but you cannot reflect that with such an attitude,” said Koç. The bus driver stopped the bus and refused to drive any further with Koç and the couple on the bus.

Onat Baþ, the male member of the couple, said the driver continuously insulted them and then also got off the bus after they did. Baþ demanded to know the driver’s name but he refused, which led him to file a complaint later using the bus’s license plate number. Baþ said they left the scene because his girlfriend needed to reach her dorm before curfew.

Koç stayed at the scene and continued to argue with the driver. Then a man arrived and beat him up, throwing several punches to his head and body and then got on the bus. Koç said he asked for assistance from policemen at Taksim Square afterward to file a complaint, but they were unhelpful. After he contacted the city’s bus management to file a complaint, Koç said, “I realized the law will not do anything and decided to try social media.” The story quickly spread from social media sources to news sites.

Baþ, on the other hand, made a complaint to the city bus management and received a reply Monday that whatever is necessary will be done.

The bus management in its announcment said they give education to their personnel on public relations, anger management and related issues, “All our employees, our drivers foremost, have to watch what they do in public despite the difficulty of their jobs and the stress they experience in traffic.” The statement ended with the management being sensitive to such issues and no understanding being shown.

           — Hat tip: RR[Return to headlines]

UAE: Dubai Death Man ‘Hit Head on Wall’

A British tourist from east London who died in police custody in Dubai hit his head against a wall while resisting officers but this did not cause his death, local authorities have said.

Lee Brown, 39, was arrested after being accused of trying to throw a female housekeeper off an internal balcony at the luxury Burj Al Arab hotel. He died on April 12 amid claims that officers punched and kicked him during his time in custody at Bur Dubai police station. Issam Al Humaidan, Dubai’s attorney-general, said police had described how Mr Brown was in a “hysterical temper” when he was arrested for allegedly physically and verbally abusing the housekeeper.

The Briton kept beating a metal mesh barrier in the police car as he was driven away and suffered an injury to his nose after hitting his head against a wall “during violent resistance”, the top law official said. But a forensic report said the “minor” injuries found on Mr Brown’s body could not have caused his death, Mr Al Humaidan said. A post-mortem examination carried out by the Dubai authorities has already concluded that he died from choking on his own vomit. Public prosecutors in the Gulf emirate have met Mr Brown’s family, from Dagenham, east London, and released his body and personal possessions to them, the attorney-general said. Dubai police strongly deny beating Mr Brown but UK diplomats and human rights campaigners have demanded a thorough investigation into the tragedy. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has contacted four other British prisoners being held at Bur Dubai police station to check their safety. It is understood that UK consular officials have requested for them to be transferred to another facility but are now checking whether they still want to be moved.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Bangladesh: Christians and Ahmadis Take a First “Positive, Enriching and Constructive” Step

A large number of people attend a joint conference hosted by the Ahmadi community, a Muslim group persecuted as “infidels” by Sunni Muslims. The meeting was important for Christians as well, this according to Fr Francesco Rapacioli (PIME) because encountering “Another religious reality [. . ..] enables us to better understand our own faith.”

Dhaka (AsiaNews) — The meeting on Saturday between the Ahmadi and Christian communities of Dhaka was very “positive, enriching and constructive”, this according to Fr Francesco Rapacioli (PIME) who organised a joint conference through the ecumenical movement ‘Shalom’, which he runs. “The turnout was greater than any previous meeting sponsored by Shalom,” he said. “There were 175 people, including about 80 Christians; the rest were Ahmadis”.

As said at the start of the conference, the Ahmadi community was born in 1889 in Punjab, India, not far from the current border with Pakistan. The group’s founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, was also its messiah. After his death, his place was taken by other “mirzas” or guides. At present, the community is led by the fifth successor, Mirza Masroor Ahmad.

The group’s Indian roots are very deep. “Unlike Sunni Islam, which acknowledges only Jesus, Ahmadis recognise as prophets non-Judeo-Christian religious figures like Krishna, Buddha and Confucius,” Fr Rapacioli said. Theirs “is a typically Indian theology and understanding of messianic beliefs.” This openness, as well as the belief that their founder was the new messiah, is one of the reasons for their discrimination and persecution by fundamentalists.

An incident during the conference highlights the predicament Ahmadis face. “At one point, the discussion was going nowhere,” Fr Rapacioli said. “Mobasherur Rahman, national emir for the Bengali community and one of the conference’s organisers, decided to cut short the meeting without explanations despite the fact that many people still had questions to ask. I did not understand why right away, but later, as the honest person that he is, he told me that he saw some Muslims enter the hall. They would have certainly ruined the atmosphere because they were very hostile and aggressive”.

Despite the incident, the conference had a very positive outcome. “Both the Christian and the Ahmadi communities are minorities in Bangladesh. There is a certain gulf between them. We are also ethnically a minority since more than half of all Christians are tribal and indigenous. They are different, and not well known. Yet, not only did they welcome us to their centre, but they also offered us refreshments and made their publications available to us. They did this, in my opinion, to show that they are a community with whom we can open up, engage in dialogue and meet. Now they know they can encounter and discuss peacefully with someone. It is as if they found allies.”

The meeting was constructive for the Christian community as well because encountering “Another religious reality, at times discriminated but with principles close to our own, is something enriching, and enables us to better understand our own faith.” (GM)

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

Indonesia: Most of Jakarta Police Force to Protect Churches From Terror During Easter

(AKI/Jakarta Post) — Jakarta Police plans to deploy at least 20,000 officers to safeguard the Indonesian capital over the Easter holiday period, which begins this Friday.

Jakarta Police operational bureau head Sr. Comr. Sujarno said around two-thirds of the police force would be involved in the operation.

“We will deploy officers to churches and other vital objects,” Sujarno said.

Sujarno added that the deployment would be based on jurisdictions, because officers had better knowledge about their respective areas of operation.

“Every subdistrict police office will be responsible for the security of each subdistrict,” he said.

Until now, the police had found no indications of terrorism, Sujarno said, but urged residents to remain alert.

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

Malaysia: Muslim Schoolboys Feared Effeminate by Teachers Sent on Four-Day Camp Where They Are Taught to be Manly

Authorities in Malaysia have sent more than 60 Muslim schoolboys whose teachers claim they are effeminate to a four-day camp to instruct them in being more manly.

An official says they will be given counselling on masculine behaviour to discourage them from being gay.

Gay rights advocates condemned the measure as a symptom of widespread homophobia in the Muslim-majority country where gay sex is illegal.

The boys, aged between 13 and 17, reported yesterday for the start of the ‘self-development course.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

‘Too Beautiful for School’ Pakistani Teen Back in Classroom

Worried about romance, family kept 19-year-old at home

(ANSA) — Brescia, April 18 — A teen at the centre of a storm after her Pakistani migrant family stopped her going to a high school because of fears her beauty would attract too many Italian suitors returned to the classroom on Monday.

The parents were worried about the prospect of the 19-year-old developing romances, while they consider the possibility of an arranged marriage for her with a young Pakistani, and had kept her at home. The case caused a big controversy and was even compared by some to the 2006 honour killing of Pakistani-born Hina Saleem by her father and two brothers-in-law after she adopted Western dress and started going out with an Italian.

After mediation between the family, trade unions, police, migrant associations and the Pakistani Consulate in Milan, she was escorted to her school in the northern city of Brescia by Pakistani Consul Seyed Mohammed Farook.

“This affair has been blown up,” Farook said. “It has nothing to do with the Hina Saleem case”.

The young woman was dressed all in white and covered most of her face from photographers waiting outside the institute with a veil. The headmaster of the school in Brescia, which has a big migrant community, does not believe it was an isolated case.

“I think there are many cases like this in this school,” said Nicola Scanga.

“About 30% of our students are of foreign origin and we have lots of Pakistani and Indian girls.

“When they stop coming to school we always try to make contact, sometimes without success”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Australia: Forget to Pack the Sunscreen, Nigella? Domestic Goddess Hits the Beach in Burkini-Style Outfit

As a rule, Nigella Lawson is only too happy to show off her voluptuous figure in low-cut outfits. On a visit to Bondi Beach, however, she went to the opposite extreme. The 51-year-old Domestic Goddess opted for a full cover-up against the late-summer Sydney sun as she splashed in the water with a companion.

Miss Lawson’s outfit resembled a burkini — a three-piece swimsuit designed to preserve the modesty of Muslim women — with a baseball cap beneath the hood. The explanation was that the fair-skinned star was worried about sunburn. Prompting the question: Why bother going on the beach, then? The mother-of-three is currently down under to film a new series of MasterChef, on which she will be making a guest appearance alongside Rick Stein and Heston Blumenthal.

Renowned for her flirtatious manner of presenting, Lawson has been called the ‘queen of food porn’. She is often seen spilling out of her dresses during parties and regularly opts for racy outfits during her cookery shows. Despite never training as a chef, she has a value of £7million, selling more than 3 million cookery books worldwide.

Miss Lawson and her second husband, advertising guru and art collector Charles Saatchi, 67, have a combined fortune estimated at £128million.

Just before Christmas they moved into a seven-bedroom £12million home in Chelsea with underground pool. The kitchen alone cost £500,000, but will double as a TV studio.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Australia: Nigella Lawson Wears a Burkini on Bondi Beach

For admirers of Nigella Lawson’s Rubenesque curves, the prospect of the domestic goddess hitting the beach was one to savour.

From corseted Vivienne Westwood gowns to figure-hugging cashmere twinsets, the television chef never fails to make the most of her voluptuous figure. So her choice of swimwear for a dip off Sydney’s Bondi Beach came as something of a surprise. Rather than a revealing swimming costume, Miss Lawson was covered head to toe in a burkini, the modesty-saving outfit designed for Muslim women.

The 51-year-old cut a striking figure as she splashed in the surf with her friend, comedian Maria McErlane. While Miss McErlane wore a skimpy bikini, Miss Lawson was protected from the elements in a black two-piece and peaked cap, leaving only her hands, feet and face showing. Rather than a sudden conversion to Islam, her choice of outfit was motivated by a desire to shield her creamy complexion from the Australian sun. “Nigella was protecting herself from sunburn, nothing more than that,” said her spokesman.

Miss Lawson purchased the burkini from Islamic swimwear company Modestly Active, which has stores in the east London suburbs of Walthamstow and Stratford. The firm makes “shariah compliant swimwear” and the model chosen by Miss Lawson costs from £79.99 for a small size to £89.99 for XXL, offering a sun protection factor of 50+.

Ismail Sacranie, Modestly Active’s marketing director, said: “We set up the company in 2007 to cater for people who wanted an alternative to the swimwear that was out there, mainly for religious reasons. We didn’t really anticipate non-Muslims buying the clothing but now we have a healthy and loyal following — about 15 per cent of our client base.

“Non-Muslim women buy our clothes for all sorts of reasons. There is the health benefit of protecting your skin from the sun, but it’s just a case of choice — women choose to wear what they feel comfortable in. For a long time, women who wanted to wear something modest while swimming didn’t have any alternative except for leggings and a T-shirt, which are not ideal bceause they drag you down and cling to the body. I think there was a desperate need for someone to come up with a product like this.”

Mr Sacranie added: “It is always nice to have celebrities wearing our product.” When Miss Lawson stepped out in a Vivienne Westwood corset dress two years ago, sales soared. Burkini-makers will be waiting to see if she does the same for them. The chef was in Sydney to record a guest appearance on the Australian version of MasterChef. She and Miss McErlane breakfasted on eggs at a beachside cafe before venturing into the sea. She is not the first celebrity to don an all-in-one outfit for swimming. Pale-skinned Nicole Kidman also favours the all-in-one. Australia takes sun protection seriously and the lifeguard association Surf Life Saving Australia includes Muslim members who wear yellow and red burkinis.

Back on dry land, Miss Lawson is proud of her curves. She has said: “I’m very glad that I don’t have that skinny straight-up-and-down shape, that I’m this Edwardian throwback with a very small waist and ankles and wrists, and the rest [is] billowing.”

[JP note: Even celeb cooks are now doing the dhimmi shuffle.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Australia: Nigella Lawson Wears Burqini in Sydney Surf

DOMESTIC goddess Nigella Lawson is as famous for her curves as she is for her cooking.

Currently in Australia to film a guest appearance on Masterchef, she hit Sydney’s Bondi Beach in a head-to-toe black ensemble not unlike a burqini, a three piece swimsuit that protects the modesty of Muslim women. She also wore a cap under the swimsuit’s hood. It seems the fair skinned Englishwoman was particularly concerned about the Aussie sun’s rays.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Australia: Nigella’s Burkini Fails to Get the Fashion ‘Seal’ of Approval

What was the motivation behind Nigella Lawson’s latest swimwear statement?

Is it a seal? A photosensitive holidaymaker? No, it’s Nigella Lawson of course, just casually frolicking in the sea in what can only be described as a ‘Burkini’.

To clarify, the author of How to be a Domestic Goddess and presenter of numerous cookery programmes was not observing some religious dress — she was holidaying in the relaxed environs of Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia. So why the baffling cover-up operation, from ankle right up to the built-in baseball cap? For starters, we know the voluptuous cookery host is not shy of flaunting what god gave her: when pictured on the red carpet, her ‘assets’ are nearly always ‘on show’, in draped, plunging necklines courtesy of designer Dame Vivienne Westwood.

So perhaps she was cold? It is autumn down in Oz, after all. But a bit of digging around reveals the temperature to be a relatively mild 21 degrees, so no need for the deep-sea diving garb, even if Nigella is prone to feeling a chill. Subsequent pondering on this rather odd scenario then leads to two explanations:

1: Ms Lawson is the proud purveyor of an English rose complexion, and will go to extreme lengths to ensure that this is not compromised. (Apparently, fellow pale-skinned beauty, burlesque star Dita Von Teese, will only take to the swimming pool on holiday at night, so loathe is she to catch a tan).

2: We all know that finger-licking, bowl-scraping Nigella doesn’t count calories, and while she won’t beat herself up about her shape and size, she is making certain that no one else will through the art of disguise. Need I recall how TV presenter Fern Britton responded to pictures of her on the beach surfacing in the tabloids? (Answer: gastric band).

So, if the latter is the real reason for Nigella’s gigantic cover-up, it seems she has deflected one cause for mockery in place of another. But as one figure-conscious colleague pointed out: “I would rather get laughed at for wearing a tent, than open up the papers the next day to find a long-lens shot of my pasty backside.” Hmm. Dodgy swimwear aside, The Telegraph fashion desk gets inundated with letters and emails asking where one can purchase Nigella’s signature, button-up cashmere cardigans (Brora, if you must know), but we’re not sure that this latest swim-style statement will elicit such a response. However, those keen to update their holiday wardrobe with a Burquini (we did tell you only last week that now is the time to start stocking up holiday essentials ), take a walk up the virtual aisles at , stockists of ‘Dynamic Swimwear and Sportswear for todays Muslim Female.’

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Zimbabwe: Farmer Who Took on Mugabe Dies

Some sad news — Mike Campbell, the farmer who was the subject of excellent documentary Mugabe and The White African, died on April 6 at the age of 79. Arturi Films producer David Pearson said: “He was an exceptionally courageous man with great dignity and humour. His willingness to allow us to tell his story was important as it gave the world a clear sense of what was really happening in Zimbabwe. It was a great honour for us to work with him, Ben and the family, and the film is a testimony to his sense fairness and desire for justice and the rule of law.”

Campbell died in his temporary home in Harare — he had never fully recovered from the injuries during his kidnapping and torture by a gang trying to throw him off his farm in June 2008.

Campbell is survived by his wife, Angela; son Bruce; daughters Cathy and Laura; and five grandchildren. “What Mike and his family have achieved for Zimbabwe and the whole of Southern Africa in setting an international precedent in property rights and the rights of white Africans in international law will only be realized by most people in years to come when we have a government that will respect the rule of law and the rights of people,” added Deon Theron, president of the Commercial Farmers’ Union in Zimbabwe.

If you haven’t seen the Bafta-nominated documentary yet it’s worth a watch.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Zimbabwe: Mike Campbell [Telegraph Obituary, 8 April 2011]

A documentary film about the case and its tragic aftermath, Mugabe and the White African (2010), made by the British film-makers Lucy Bailey and Andrew Thompson during clandestine visits to Zimbabwe, brought the plight of white Zimbabwean farmers and their farm workers to world attention, winning numerous awards.

Michael Campbell was born on a farm at Klerksdorp, South Africa, in 1932 into a family which had farmed in Africa since 1713. After leaving school he served in the South African Army and was involved in the early 1970s in the bush war between Rhodesia’s white rulers and black independence fighters. He decided to move to Rhodesia in 1974, attracted by its excellent hunting and fishing. He bought Mount Carmel farm in the Chegutu district and, after the country became independent as Zimbabwe in 1980, purchased a neighbouring farm.

Together with his son-in-law, Ben Freeth, he worked hard to make it profitable, planting mangoes, citrus trees, maize, tobacco and sunflowers, establishing a herd of Mashona/Sussex cattle and dedicating a large area to a wildlife reserve, complete with herds of giraffe, impala and other animals. Their Biri River Safari Lodge became a popular tourist destination.

Campbell was described as a model employer, and by the end of the 1990s Mount Carmel farm was the largest mango producer in Zimbabwe, helping to generate much-needed export earnings. The farm sustained the livelihoods of more than 500 people, and in 1999 it was legally transferred into a family company by a “certificate of no interest” from the Mugabe government. In 2000, however, after losing a referendum called to approve a new constitution that would entrench his power, Mugabe began encouraging the violent invasion of the country’s white-owned commercial farms, presenting the policy as a “redistribution” of land to the poor and as a triumph over greedy white imperialists.

In reality the policy, spearheaded by a ragbag army of armed thugs — the so-called “war veterans” — was a ruse to cement Mugabe’s hold on power through the distribution of patronage. It thus became a scramble for the plum, mainly (though not exclusively) white-owned, estates among the country’s elite, most of whose members had little interest in farming.. Beneficiaries have included Mugabe’s relatives, along with generals, judges, provincial administrators, ministers and MPs — and even MPs’ girlfriends. The consequences have been disastrous. Zimbabwe was once one of the most agriculturally rich countries in Africa; now more Zimbabweans rely on international food aid than in famine-struck Ethiopia.

The “war vets” arrived at Mount Carmel farm in 2000. “About 20 or 30 turned up and I gave them a shed to live in because I told them I don’t want you chopping my trees to build your huts,” Campbell recalled. After a year with Campbell refusing to leave, they moved off on to adjoining land owned by his son Bruce. From there they made regular forays to Mount Carmel. The safari lodge was burned down, wildlife was poached or slaughtered and cattle stolen.

After getting no redress from the Zimbabwean courts, Campbell made legal history in 2007 when he decided to challenge Mugabe’s land seizures in the region’s highest court, the inter-governmental Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal which sits in Namibia. The following March an additional 77 white farmers joined the case.

In November 2008 the tribunal condemned the seizures as “racist” and theft on a grand scale. The farmers could keep their land, it ruled, because the redistribution programme was discriminatory and was not being implemented according to the rule of law.

But before the judgment, on June 29 2008, just two days after the Zimbabwean presidential run-off election, Campbell, his wife and his son-in-law were abducted and taken to a remote militia camp where they were tortured for nine hours. Campbell sustained severe head injuries, broken ribs and damage to his lower limbs caused by “falanga” (a method of torture which involves beating the soles of the feet). His wife Angela was forced to sign a piece of paper promising the family would not continue their court battle. Then they were driven off again and dumped on the roadside, from where they were rushed to hospital. Despite their injuries, the Campbells refused to throw in the towel — though Mike Campbell was so badly battered he could not attend the tribunal’s final hearing. Ben Freeth, whose skull was fractured, attended in a wheelchair, his head swathed in bandages.

The ruling, when it came, was a Pyrrhic victory. Constant attacks on their farm workers, theft of farm equipment and the destruction of crops drove Campbell and Freeth to return to the tribunal in 2009 to obtain a contempt order against the government. Although President Mugabe had signed the treaty establishing the tribunal, he has dismissed its findings in the white farmers’ case as “nonsense”. A government document distributed soon after the ruling promised that the evictions would continue.

Campbell, a gruff, dignified man who described himself as a white African, remained phlegmatic in the face of danger. In one memorable scene in Mugabe and the White African, the Campbells are seen enjoying a sundowner in their farmhouse when news comes through that an armed militia gang has been spotted by farm staff. As he lifts his whisky glass to his lips, Mike tells his wife there is no point getting excited. “I’ll go out there when I have finished my drink.”

In April 2009 the Campbells and Freeths were driven from Mount Carmel Farm by a rampaging mob led by Nathan Shamuyarira, an octogenarian member of Mugabe’s politburo. The farmhouse was subsequently burned to the ground, along with the homes of 60 workers and a small linen factory set up by Mrs Freeth to provide employment for the farmers’ wives. The Campbells, aged 76 and 68, decamped, penniless, to what they hoped would be temporary accommodation in Harare. In the documentary, Peter Chamada, the son of Nathan Shamuyarira, is seen arriving on Campbell’s farm in his shiny new luxury Toyota Prado, taking photographs on an expensive mobile phone. “This land is now my home,” he declares into the camera. “The government has taken it from you people to redistribute to the poor black majority. This land belongs to the black peasants.”

Campbell clung to the hope that he might recover his land, and last month — with an elderly black farmer Luke Tembani, who had also been dispossessed — he lodged an application with the SADC Tribunal for an order that would ensure the Tribunal would continue to function, after the SADC heads of state decided last year to suspend its operations pending a review of its role. This move was widely seen as a response to the tribunal’s ruling in Campbell’s case and thus a show of support for Mugabe by governments in the region.

Mike Campbell is survived by his wife, Angela, and by their son and two daughters. His farm, meanwhile, is derelict, the land reverting to African bush.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Zimbabwe: Without a Trace

Dear Family and Friends,

Zimbabweans began to take notice of Mike Campbell, his wife Angela and their son in law Ben Freeth in December 2007. Having exhausted their legal options in Zimbabwe, Mike Campbell tried to stop the seizure of his farm by going to the regional SADC Tribunal. Just before Christmas 2007 the Tribunal ruled in their favour, set a hearing date for January and granted interim relief which: “orders that the Republic of Zimbabwe shall take no steps … to evict from or interfere with the peaceful residence on and the beneficial use of the farm known as Mount Carmel.”

Following the interim order, Ben Freeth wrote to JAG (Justice for Agriculture) and his words were invigorating to those of us farmers who had already lost everything, and challenging to those whose turn hadn’t yet come. In his first letter Ben wrote: “Sitting on the sidelines in secret ‘dialogue’ simply will not do. It has failed. It never had a chance of ever working. The truth of this may hurt for some…” The challenge came in his second letter where Ben wrote: “Do we continue to allow these injustices to continue so that we are then wiped off the land without trace; or do we try to stand for justice and the future of this country and indeed our future on this continent?”

A few months later, a chilling email came telling of the abduction of Mike and Angela Campbell and Ben Freeth from their home on Mount Carmel Farm in Chegutu. It had happened two days after the presidential run off elections. The JAG message read: “Mercifully, at midnight, Mike and Angela Campbell and Ben Freeth were released at a house of a lady in Kadoma. All three have been severely beaten. Mike has serious concussion and a broken collar bone and fingers. Angela has a broken arm, in two places. Ben has a badly swollen and totally closed eye and feet severely beaten…. The purpose for the brutal attack and vicious beating carried out at Pixton Mine (youth militia torture camp) was the forced compliance, under extreme duress, with the signing of a formal withdrawal of the Campbell Case from the SADC Tribunal. The Campbells and Freeth were taken by ‘war vet’ Gilbert Moyo and approximately 20 thugs to the mine. They were viciously beaten until they complied with the signing of a withdrawal of the case….”

On 28 November 2008, the SADC court delivered its ruling, with the five panel judges finding the land reform programme to be racist and in violation of international treaties and human rights. Justice Louis Mondhlane said that constitutional Amendment 17 put in place in 2005 to clear the way for compulsory acquisition of land in Zimbabwe had resulted in expropriation targeting only white farmers. “Its effects make it discriminatory because targeted agricultural land is owned by white farmers,” Mondhlane said.

Zimbabwe refused to be bound by the ruling. In 2009, Campbell and his family left Mount Carmel farm after it was burnt down by so called ‘land invaders.’ A few weeks ago he launched yet another application to the Tribunal. For the first time in legal history, all 15 leaders of the Southern Africa Development Community were cited as respondents.

Sadly Campbell passed away this week but he will not be forgotten. His brave and determined fight for justice will always be remembered; he will not have been wiped off the land without a trace. One day, when Zimbabwe again respects property rights, we will him to thank for showing us the way.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Boat Carrying 760 Migrants Docks in Lampedusa

(AGI) Palermo — A boat carrying 760 migrants has docked in Lampedusa after being rescued 40 miles south of the island by Italian Coast Guard patrol boats and escorted to the port where it arrived a little after 2:30 p.m. Among the migrants there are dozens of women and children. It had previously been thought there were about 300 people on board, but once it had docked officials discovered that the old fishing boat was carrying more than double the number.

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

Douglas Murray: Britain Has Let in Far Too Many Foreigners

SO the Prime Minister has finally said it. Addressing the public’s number one concern he yesterday acknowledged that “for too long, immigration into the UK has been too high”.

For many years even that statement was very difficult for politicians to say. Decades of Left-wing institutionalised political correctness made it, if not impossible, then certainly career-ending to make such statements.

Anyone who doubted the wisdom of mass immigration found themselves smeared as a bigot or a racist. And so at first the issue was ignored out of fear. Then it became acceptable to raise concerns, but unacceptable to talk about how to remedy them. Finally the need to address the problem could not be put off any longer. The Prime Minister was right to speak out.

Surveying the wrecked policy left to him by Labour, Mr Cameron yesterday re-stated his pre-election pledge to get net migration into the UK back down to tens of thousands, rather than hundreds of thousands.

Between 1997 and 2009 this country saw a net migration of 2.2 million people. Mr Cameron called it “the largest influx of people Britain has ever had”. But he didn’t just talk dry statistics. He acknowledged the appalling pressure mass immigration put not only on services, but also on communities, particularly thanks to those immigrants who never learned English and who had never even been “willing to integrate”.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Over 750 Refugees Land on Lampedusa, Italy Suspects Gaddafi

Pregnant women, children among migrants from Libya

(see related story on Libya) (ANSA) — Rome, April 19 — Italy said besieged Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi may be to blame for the arrival on a fishing boat of some 760 African refugees on the tiny southern Italian island of Lampedusa on Tuesday.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told a House committee that he suspects Gaddafi may have decided to use people trafficking to hit back at international support for rebels trying to end his 40-year rule in Libya.

In the past Gaddafi has said Africans will move “en masse” to Europe and the Mediterranean will become a “sea of chaos” if he is toppled. Frattini said the boat came from the western port of Zuwarah and that the anti-Gaddafi Libyan National Council will provide Italy with evidence about whether “the Gaddafi regime was starting to organise the trafficking of human beings, as it had threatened to do, from that port”.

The fishing boat made the hazardous crossing of the Channel of Sicily, where some 800 migrants are estimated to have been lost at sea this year. Its passengers included 17 children and 62 women, several of whom were pregnant.

The refugees are expected to be transferred later on Tuesday to the mainland from Lampedusa, the main stop-off point for many of the over 28,000 migrants to have landed on Italy’s shores this year following unrest in North Africa.

The island was the scene of a humanitarian crisis for weeks, with thousands of mostly Tunisian migrants sleeping rough with food and water scarce, before the authorities emptied it of non-EU citizens by moving them to camps in other parts of Italy this month.

Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said last week that he was hopeful the worst of the migrant crisis was over thanks to an agreement with Tunisia to boost efforts to stem the flow and repatriate new arrivals in exchange for aid and assistance.

Maroni, however, said he is worried people traffickers will take advantage of the rebellion against Gaddafi’s rule in Libya to bring over migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the continent.

The migrant crisis has caused diplomatic friction between Italy and France.

Italy has angered France by giving temporary resident permits to thousands of Tunisian migrants to enable them to travel freely in many European countries.

This move came after France had stopped migrants without visas at its border with Italy, prompting Maroni to accuse the French government of adopting a hostile attitude for refusing to share the burden of the migrants. France blocked the passage of trains from Italy for seven hours on Sunday to stop North African migrants from entering the country.

The tension has subsided since, with France allowing in Tunisians as long as they have visas, valid ID and a small amount of money.

The Italian government has expressed confidence everything will be smoothed over at next week’s summit in Rome between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Comcast-Owned Network Sells Dope to Kids

The new owners of MSNBC at Comcast got rid of one problem when Keith Olbermann was let go by the left-leaning cable channel, but they have another big problem on their hands—their G4 cable television network is scheduled to devote an evening’s worth of programs on April 20, dubbed a “pot smoking holiday” by marijuana users, to celebrating and promoting the drug. Parents and anti-drug activists are outraged.

A G4 promotion ad for the programming shows marijuana cigarettes, marijuana leaves, young people smoking dope, and the dope itself, while the Andy Williams song, “The most wonderful time of the year,” is played. It mocks the loss of memory that accompanies marijuana use, as someone is heard coughing and saying, “What was I calling for?”

The graphic, “A Division of NBC Universal,” is at the bottom of the page. Comcast Corporation owns a controlling 51 percent interest in NBC Universal, with General Electric holding a 49 percent stake.

Rebecca Hernandez of H.A.R.M. (Health Advocates Rejecting Marijuana) says, “Comcast/NBC Universal is responsible to their viewing audience and to our nation’s youth for making more appropriate programming decisions around drug use, drug promotion and trivialization.”

“We struggle daily to push back against the pro-marijuana lobby and their message to youth trivializing and normalizing marijuana use,“ she told AIM.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Banished for His Christian Beliefs: Now Electrician Who Had a Cross in His Van is Thrown Out of Depot

The electrician making a stand over his Christian beliefs was yesterday thrown out of his workplace of 15 years for displaying a cross to mark Easter.

Colin Atkinson was told he had ‘violated’ his contract by revealing he had been disciplined for having the symbol on the dashboard of his company van.

Senior managers told the 64-year-old grandfather he could no longer work at the depot because he had ‘upset his workmates’. He has been moved to another depot but fears he will be sacked in days.

Despite Wakefield District Housing’s ‘anti-Christian’ rules, Mr Atkinson’s boss, Denis Doody, is allowed to display a poster of communist revolutionary Che Guevara in his office.

It is believed Mr Doody is one of the ‘upset’ colleagues.

Yesterday morning senior WDH managers were waiting for Mr Atkinson — who retires in ten months — at the company’s depot in Castleford, West Yorkshire, to deliver the news.

Mr Atkinson told the Daily Mail: ‘I expect to be sacked within days. They have already found against me for failing to carry out a “reasonable management request” by refusing to get rid of the cross.

‘And now they say they will give me three days notice of their final decision.

‘But if I lose my job as a consequence of all this then so be it. I don’t have any bitterness. I am standing by what I believe to be right in the eyes of the Lord.’

Mr Doody, the company’s environmental manager, has complained about being drawn into Mr Atkinson’s disciplinary case. But the electrician, who has been moved to a depot in Wakefield, claims that his boss’s Left-wing posters are relevant.

He said: ‘My van is my workplace. This is where I do my work.’

He added: ‘I was told that a decision was made that it was unacceptable for me to keep working in my workplace. They said there would be “friction”.

‘But I am unhappy about changing my working environment. They have asked me to move away from my work colleagues, my friends, at a time of high stress.’

The electrician and his wife Geraldine, 61, face financial hardship if he loses his job.

Mr Atkinson’s plight has been championed by senior church figures including former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, who said: ‘I think this is absolutely astonishing. This man has every right to stand up for his beliefs.

‘It is clearly very important for him to have the cross in the cabin of his van. I hope that his bosses see that no good will come out of this.’

A Church of England spokesman said: ‘At this time of year the palm cross is a very potent symbol of the Christian faith and we would hope that these difficulties can be resolved.’

Philip Davies, Conservative MP for Shipley, West Yorkshire, said: ‘You have to wonder if Mr Atkinson had displayed a symbol from another religion whether he would have been disciplined.’

Mr Atkinson’s ordeal began last year after bosses received an anonymous letter claiming tenants may be offended by the eight-inch cross in the van.

He refused to remove it and was accused of rejecting a ‘reasonable’ management request.

Mr Atkinson and his Unite union rep had argued there was nothing in company rules prohibiting the cross. Hindu and Sikh colleagues appeared as witnesses in his defence.

WDH promotes its inclusive policies and allows employees to wear religious symbols — including burkas — at work.

But it changed company policy on Christmas Eve last year, banning all personal effects in its vehicles. In January Mr Atkinson was reported for continuing to display the cross in his van and last week WDH concluded he had breached company rules.

Last night Gillian Pickersgill, WDH’s executive director of people, said: ‘WDH fully support the rights of our employees to wear religious symbols while at work and to have religious symbols on their desks. WDH simply don’t allow employees to display personal items in our company vans.

‘We haven’t commenced formal disciplinary proceedings against Colin, and we sincerely hope that we can reach a satisfactory outcome for both Colin and WDH without doing so.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]


Muslims Are Not a Minority

America is not nearly as vulnerable to the Muslim demographic bomb, because it is less socialist and more multicultural.

The most persistent myth of the Western Dhimmi narrative is that Muslims are a minority and must receive special protection and accommodation. But Muslims are not a minority. There are 1.5 billion Sunni Muslims worldwide, outweighing Catholics as the next largest religious faction at 1.1 billion and Hindus at 1 billion. They are still a minority of the overall population in Western countries, but a demographically trending majority.

In the UK more people attend mosques than the Church of England, that makes Muslims the largest functioning religious group there. Mohammed was the most popular baby name last year, ahead of Jack and Harry. In France, in this generation, more mosques have been built than Catholic churches and in southern France there are already more mosques than churches. Mohammed-Amine is the most popular double name, ahead of Jean-Baptiste, Pierre-Louis, Leo-Paul and Mohammed-Ali.

In Belgium, 50 percent of newborns are Muslim and empty Belgian churches are being turned into mosques. The most popular baby name is Mohammed and of the top 7 baby names, 6 were Muslim. A quarter of Amsterdam, Marseilles and Rotterdam and a fifth of Stockholm is already Muslim. The most popular baby name in Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam and The Hague is… Mohammed.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Why Western Women Are Creating a Burkini Boom

More western women are wearing “burkinis” to cover up from the sun, according to the London husband-and-wife team who made Nigella Lawson’s two-piece black swimsuit.

At least 15 per cent of the orders for burkinis made by Ismail Sacranie and his wife Kausar are from women worried about sun damage, not religious modesty. The couple, who run a chain of shops stocking “Modestly Active” suits, said the 51-year-old TV cook was part of a growing trend. Lawson was pictured wearing the burkini as she swam in the surf on Bondi Beach in Sydney.

The garment, which offers a sun protection factor of more than 50, is designed for Muslim women to preserve their modesty and claims to be “sharia-compliant”. Mr Sacranie, 41, said today: “In the case of Nigella I think it’s a case of protecting the skin from the sun. She’s gone to a hot part of the world and wants the UV protection that the costume provides.”

A spokesman for Lawson said earlier: “Nigella was protecting herself from sunburn.” Mrs Sacranie, 35, was inspired to design the costumes after feeling fed up with the “lack of options” for Muslim women. She said: “I used to wear T-shirts, leggings and stuff like that to swim. I wanted something smart, beautiful and elegant.”

The spandex and nylon swimsuit, which comes in nine designs, weighs 400g, and ranges in price from £40 for children to £89.99 for the one worn by Lawson. Mrs Sacranie said Lawson had bought several burkinis online. She said: “I get a lot of non-Muslims coming to me It’s just women who like to look elegant whatever they do.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


kimjongun said...

I believe that in Poland it would be a criminal offence to habe a poster of the muderer Che Guevara in your office,