Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110504

»American Muslim Students React to Osama Bin Laden’s Death
»Dead Bin Laden: The Ultimate Danish Motoon
»New York Times/CBS Poll Finds Rise in Obama’s Poll Numbers After Bin Laden Raid
»Some Not Surprised by Powder Scare
»Who Says Bin Laden’s Killing Was Not Legal?
Europe and the EU
»EU Flag Rule: Big Fines if Our Public Builidngs Fail to Mark Europe Day
»Merkel Criticized for Joyful Reaction to Bin Laden’s Death
Israel and the Palestinians
»Jerusalem Imam: Obama Will Soon Hang
Middle East
»Barack Obama to Release Up to 2,000 Photographs of Prisoner Abuse
»Syria: Cities Under Siege as More Than a Thousand Arrests Are Made in Two Days
»Bin Laden: Moscow Patriarchate Joins Vatican in Denouncing Celebrations
South Asia
»Bin Laden: Injured Wife Identified, Was His “Favored”
»Bin Laden: Al-Qaeda Leader ‘Captured Alive and Shot Dead by US Special Forces’
»CIA: Blitz: Pakistan Not Warned to Avoid Alerting Bin Laden
»Indonesia: Police to Guard Islamist Prayer Recital for Al-Qaeda’s Late Leader
»Pakistan: Bin Laden’s Death Could Spark a Conflict Between Christianity and Islam
»Pakistan: “Disquieting That USA Have No Confidence”
»Pakistani Official Sells Osama Death Scene Photos to Reuters
»U. S. Says Bin Laden Lived in Abbottabad for 5-6 Years
»Was Bin Laden’s Killing Legal? One Top UN Expert Says So.
Australia — Pacific
»‘Bout 2 Kill Ma Kid’: Guilty Father Ramazan ‘Ramzy’ Acar’s Chilling Facebook Updates
»Australia: Dozens of Failed ‘Refugees’ Still Here
»EU Claims 650,000 People Have Left Libya
»EU Must Help Border Member States Tackle Immigration
»Helsinki Parents at Pains to Avoid Schools With High Proportion of Immigrants
»Italy: Tunisian Migrants Stage Protests at Trapani Holding Centre
»The French Judicial Fiasco


American Muslim Students React to Osama Bin Laden’s Death

On college campuses across the nation students learned of Osama bin Laden’s death, and the country celebrated. However, sentiments are split among Muslim-American students over the death of the infamous terrorist and the subsequent perception of Islam among non-Muslim Americans.

Georgia State University sophomore Arubah Khan was studying on Sunday night when she saw a friend’s Facebook post: a link to Obama’s speech on his Twitter page. Nearly one-third of Americans found out about bin Laden’s death through Twitter according to Khan watched the President’s speech via an Internet livestream.

Despite Obama’s reassurance to the American public that “the United States is not and never will be at war with Islam,” Khan is skeptical about American attitudes towards Islam.

“I’m glad that President Obama said that but I don’t think that generally people will actually listen to it. A lot of people still view this war on terrorism as a war on Islam,” she said.

The young Muslim-American, who was just 10 years old on 9/11, is unable to shake the memories of past jabs about bombs in her backpack by her high school peers.

“I think that the greater (American) population still believes that … eliminating terrorist activities is the elimination of ideologies that only Muslims have,” said Khan.

University of Texas alumni Anwaar Huk likewise expresses caution rather than hope about bin Laden’s death, “Personally, I don’t think this event, by itself, will change the cultural attitude of Americans towards Muslims,” Huk said.

“Despite the horror that [bin Laden] himself was, what’s more important is not to just kill him but to eliminate that ideology of hatred and bigotry that he represented.”

Hussein Rashid, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, recognizes this sentiment of bin Laden as a larger than life threat among Muslim-American youth — similar to his generation’s experience during the Cold War.

“We’re now getting a group of young adults whose first conscious memory was formed by Osama bin Laden. Their biggest enemy has always been Al Qaeda and bin Laden,” Rashid said.

The older American Muslim students who spoke to were more likely to be infused with optimism.

Columbia University graduate student, Haroon Moghul views bin Laden’s death, in tandem with the Arab Spring revolutions, as “proof of something better around the corner.”

Moghul views the peaceful, democratic revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt as demoralizing precursors to the downfall of al Qaeda and its universal masthead: bin Laden.

“Bin laden actually died in Tahrir Square,” Moghul says. “His death came on the heels of his irrelevance in wider Muslim world.”

University of Washington law student Shamiq Hussain echoes these sentiments. “People are considering this with the Arab Spring revolutions and seeing that as a double blow against al Qaeda, zapping their moral argument that their way is the way to achieve change,” Hussain said.

One thing most Muslim-American college students do agree on is bin Laden’s death as his due comeuppance.

University of Chicago graduate student Farhad Dokhani said, “I feel a sense of relief and am glad that Osama bin Laden will no longer be around to cause harm to any other innocent people.”

Hussain believes that the American population felt and expressed a due sense of retribution at bin Laden’s death — one that he supported. He said, “I was happy that an evil man was dead.”

The Kamran’s, University of Texas alumni and a young Muslim-American couple, listened to Obama’s announcement of bin Laden’s death the old-fashioned way: on the radio, in their car, a rainstorm pounding on the roof of their Mazda and freshly bought Walmart Supercenter groceries taking up residence in their trunk.

“I was like woah, a second at the grocery store and this is what you come back to!” said Sobia Kamran. The young couple remained in the driveway of their apartment in Arlington, Texas while listening to Obama’s entire speech in their car.

Kamran treads the fine line between future hopes and past realities, saying, “It seems as if all the families who suffered during 9/11 will finally reach closure and will hopefully unite. However, the process of recovery for those families and our nation still has a long ways to go.”

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Dead Bin Laden: The Ultimate Danish Motoon

by Diana West

I’ve had a sneaking suspicion that the Obama White House would ultimately nix the release of Dead Bin Laden, and here it comes, the prepatory rumblings: Gates and Hillary, ABC’s Jake Tapper reports (via Drudge) are arguing against release. This tagteam pushback, Tapper writes with soothing gentility, is due to “concerns at the Pentagon and State Department that releasing a photograph could prompt a backlash against the US for killing bin Laden where one does not seem to currently exist.”

Hmm. Now where would that be? Manhattan? Madrid? Bali? Tel Aviv? Nah. We’re talking Umma Central. Our leadership is quaking in their boots (pumps) over the prospect that the sight of dead Bin Laden would set off billions of Hair-Trigger Moderates in a frenzy of murder and mayhem in the growing tradition of Terry Jones Rage, Fitna Rage, Pope Rage, Teddy Bear Rage, Kommode-Koran Rage … and of course, Danish Cartoon Rage…

           — Hat tip: Diana West[Return to headlines]

New York Times/CBS Poll Finds Rise in Obama’s Poll Numbers After Bin Laden Raid

Support for President Obama has risen sharply following the killing of Osama bin Laden by American military forces in Pakistan, with a majority now approving of his overall job performance, as well as his handling of foreign policy, the war in Afghanistan and the threat of terrorism, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

The glow of national pride seemed to rise above partisan politics, as support for the president rose significantly among both Republicans and independents. In all, 57 percent said they now approved of the president’s job performance, up from 46 percent last month.

But euphoria was tempered by a sense of foreboding: more than six in 10 Americans said that killing Bin Laden was likely to increase the threat of terrorism against the United States in the short term. A large majority also said that the Qaeda leader’s death did not make them feel any safer. Just 16 percent said they personally felt more safe now.

[Return to headlines]

Some Not Surprised by Powder Scare

White powder found deemed not hazardous

GREENFIELD,Mass.(WWLP) — Some say a scare like the white powdered envelopes found around the state is not surprising after a big terrorism news story.

Three envelopes found around the state were tested on Tuesday after suspicious material was found on them.

The offices of Sen. Scott Brown and Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley each received a letter with white powder.

A third was found at the Franklin County Court House just before noon.

All three tested negative for hazardous materials.

The FBI, state police, and a state hazardous materials team contributed to the investigation.

Lawyer Timothy Flynn says that he was told to evacuate the Franklin County Courthouse just before noon.

“At first we were just told we had to leave the first floor, they blocked everything off and eventually took everyone’s name and number and said that there was a white powder found in the clerks office,” said Flynn.

However some expected these kind of scares around the country.

“I expect that all the cuckoo’s are going to come out of the woodwork with the news we just got about Osama Bin Laden,” said Jisele Thompson who works around the corner from the courthouse in Greenfield.

The first white powder scares began after 9/11.

Other big news events like the shooting at Virginia Tech also brought fake scares, and bomb threats.

Deputy Chief Strahan says they see more calls after a tragic or terrorist based news event, but not always because there are more incidents.

“We see an increase in what we call an awareness calls,” said Strahan. “People being more aware of their surroundings, and reporting suspicious activities, after 9-11 with the white powder scare we received several white powder scares.”

He says they have to take every threat seriously.

The substances found at the three locations were sent to a lab for more testing.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Who Says Bin Laden’s Killing Was Not Legal?

Der Spiegel is asking whether the killing of Bin Laden was legal, and the United Nations Human Rights Council chairman is demanding more information so that the operation’s conformity with international law can be determined.

Let’s put aside the argument that the U.S. President is sworn to uphold American law first and foremost. That should be enough for most politicians, but it probably isn’t for a coterie of internationalists and multilateralists, or those who care about the feelings of European bureaucrats. As usual, its armchair proponents in Europe must be highly selective in their reading of international law force it to march in step with their own tendentious political opinions.

Five years ago, in the context of the Israel-Hezbollah war, I published a piece in National Review, arguing that not only is assassination legal, but we should also embrace assassination as a key national security tool. It was a controversial piece, but international legal experts who reviewed drafts said the legal interpretation was correct. Let’s hope that President Obama doesn’t shrink from the inevitable chorus of global naysayers and will prioritize now and in the future a strategy that, used carefully, can not only enhance American national security but also can dis-incentivize rogue behavior and avert far greater bloodshed.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

EU Flag Rule: Big Fines if Our Public Builidngs Fail to Mark Europe Day

EUROCRATS last night faced an angry revolt over attempts to force Britain to celebrate the EU’s Europe Day next week.

Scores of public buildings around the country are being ordered to fly the blue-and-gold European Union flag to mark the occasion next Monday.

Officials will be expected to ensure the flag remains hoisted for a week, with a swingeing fine from Brussels threatened for those that disobey.

Astonishingly, they even have to take a photograph of the flag flying and email it to the European Commission to ensure the regulations are being observed.

Schools are also being sent instructions from the European Parliament on how to celebrate Europe Day. Recommendations include assemblies with an EU theme for all pupils and even setting up a European Cafe that only accepts euros.

Last night Tory Cabinet Minister Eric Pickles savaged Brussels bureaucrats for ordering his Whitehall office to fly the EU flag.

He said: “Not only is it unacceptable to threaten to fine people for not flying a flag, this is unnecessary and pointless red tape. The European Union should be focusing on ensuring that taxpayers are receiving value for money, and clamping down on fraud and corruption in EU-funded projects.”

Other critics last night rubbished the “pointless waste” of time and money.

Charlotte Linacre, campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance pressure group, said: “Taxpayers would have more to celebrate if the EU stopped dreaming up ways to splurge cash. These events and rules are pointless backslapping and will land taxpayers with more unnecessary bills. When public spending here is under scrutiny, it is infuriating to see the EU continue to spend oblivious to the need for restraint.”

The Daily Express crusade to get Britain out of the EU has won massive support. We delivered a petition of 373,000 signatures from readers demanding a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU to 10 Downing Street earlier this year.

Europe Day, held on May 9 every year, was decreed by an EU summit in 1985 to establish an annual celebration of the “achievements” of Brussels.

Mr Pickles’s Department for Communities and Local Government at Eland House, Westminster is a site where the flag must fly because of its role managing expenditure by the European Regional Development Fund.

It is understood ministers will not defy the edict because breaching the regulations could lead to taxpayers’ cash being wasted on paying Brussels fines. A spokeswoman for the Department said: “There are two flag poles outside the departmental building of Eland House, and it is the policy of the department always to fly the United Kingdom’s Union Flag in the superior position.”

The leaflet for schools across the UK is from the UK Office of the European Parliament entitled: “A few ideas on how to celebrate Europe Day.”

Advice includes: “Hold an assembly on the meaning of Europe Day.

“Set up a European cafe in school using Euros/European currencies and arrange a lunch. Learn the national anthems of other EU member states and sing songs of European origin. Write a short story about Europe.”

Many EU-subsidised public bodies including universities and quangos are also holding events to mark Europe Day.

Last night a spokesman for the European Commission’s office in London said the only official event in the UK would be a free classical music concert in the capital costing around £20,000, marking Hungary’s presidency of the EU.

           — Hat tip: SJ[Return to headlines]

Merkel Criticized for Joyful Reaction to Bin Laden’s Death

(AGI) Berlin- Angela Merkel is having to endure much criticism for having expressed joy at Osama bin Laden’s death. The Chancellor’s knee-jerk reaction was, “I’m glad that killing bin Laden was successful”, but today has brought a wave of criticism from Catholic Church and Protestant figures, as well as politicians. Bundestag vice president and German Evangelical Church leader Katrin Goering-Eckardt stated, “As a Christian, I don’t see any reason for rejoicing when someone has been intentionally killed”. Harsh criticism is also coming her way from party members such as Siegfried Kauder (CDU), according to whom the Chancellor expressed “vengeful feelings we should not.”

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

Israel and the Palestinians

Jerusalem Imam: Obama Will Soon Hang

(Video) Al-Aqsa Mosque imam vows to avenge killing of Osama bin Laden in Youtube video. ‘Dogs should not rejoice too much for killing lions’

An imam from the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem vowed to take revenge over “the western dogs” for killing al-Qaeda leader Osama bin laden in Pakistan on Sunday.

In a Youtube video uploaded by the imam he said: “The western dogs are rejoicing after killing one of our Islamic lions. From Al-Aqsa Mosque, where the future caliphate will originate with the help of God, we say to them — the dogs will not rejoice too much for killing the lions. The dogs will remain dogs and the lion, even if he is dead, will remain a lion.”

The imam then verbally attacked US President Barack Obama saying: “You personally instructed to kill Muslims. You should know that soon you’ll hang together with Bush Junior.”

“We are a nation of billions, a good nation. We’ll teach you about politics and military ways very soon, with god’s help,” he vowed.

Some two dozen Palestinians gathered in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday to pay tribute to slain al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

About 25 people holding pictures and posters of bin Laden rallied outside a Gaza City university. The crowd included al-Qaeda sympathizers as well as students who said they opposed bin Laden’s ideology, but were angry at the US for killing him and consider him a martyr.

Hamas police did not interfere in the demonstration.

The al-Qaeda leader was not armed when United States Special Forces stormed his compound in Pakistan but he did resist before he was shot, White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Tuesday.

Carney said the killing of bin Laden was not likely to affect the US timetable for bringing American troops out of Afghanistan.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Barack Obama to Release Up to 2,000 Photographs of Prisoner Abuse

President Barack Obama is to release up to 2,000 photographs of alleged abuse at American prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan in a move which will reignite the scandal surrounding Abu Ghraib prison in 2004.

The decision to make public the images sought in a legal action by the American Civil Liberties Union comes amid a political firestorm over alleged torture of detainees under President George W. Bush.

Some of the photographs, which will be released before May 28, are said to show American service personnel humiliating prisoners, according to officials.

The images relate to more than 400 separate cases involving alleged prisoner abuse between 2001 and 2005.

Descriptions of some of the alleged abuse photographs include:

* A prisoner pushed up against a wall as military guards or interrogators appear to threaten to sexually assault him with a broomstick

* Female soldiers posing with hooded, shackled prisoners who were stripped naked

* Hooded prisoners on transport planes with Playboy magazines opened to pictures of nude women on their laps

The administration initially planned to release only the 21 photos sought by the ACLU, but General David Petraeus ordered that all 2,000 photographs be released to keep from “dragging this issue out forever”.

The Pentagon fears a backlash in the Middle East similar to the one provoked by pictures from Abu Ghraib prison, near Baghdad, in 2004 which became emblematic of American mistakes in Iraq.

Amrit Singh, an ACLU lawyer, said that “these photographs provide visual proof that prisoner abuse by US personnel was not aberrational but widespread, reaching far beyond the walls of Abu Ghraib”. …

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Syria: Cities Under Siege as More Than a Thousand Arrests Are Made in Two Days

Human rights organisations slam arbitrary arrests and interrogations in Deraa, including in hospitals. Military and pro-regime militias surround the city of Baniyas to prevent a possible uprising. Turkish prime minister condemns the repression, remembers 1982 Hama massacre of 20,000 people.

Beirut (AsiaNews/ Agencies) — With a thousand people arrested in two days, the Syrian regime continues its relentless crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. According to the National Organisation for Human Rights in Syria, the authorities are targeting writers, intellectuals and known pro-reform activists for arrest, charging them with “degrading the prestige of the state”, an offence punishable with three years in prison. Most of the arrests are being carried out in Deraa, a town in southwestern Syria where protests broke out on 15 March.

Syrian cities are turning into armed camps as President Bashar al Assad tries to reclaim control of the country. In less than two weeks, the army has sent thousands of troops into Deraa and Baida and is now laying siege to Baniyas.

According to sources in Deraa, after the army stormed the town, it arrested almost 500 people, holding them in the local stadium.

People who were able to leave the city say that soldiers and police are in complete control, occupying hospitals where they are interrogating the wounded and the dying.

In order to take control of Baniyas, a predominantly Sunni town of 50,000 people, the regime is organising militias in Alawite villages around the city.

Local sources said that the army has already moved into the city’s northern and southern neighbourhoods, and is moving towards the centre.

The Syrian regime has so far killed over 560 people. This has raised concerns in the international community. Speaking to Turkish media, Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan condemned the crackdown in Syria. He urged Assad not to repeat the 1982 massacre in Hama, when 20,000 people were slaughtered.

The United States is also concerned about the crisis in Syria. Speaking about the repression, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said, “These are, quite frankly, barbaric measures and they amount to the collective punishment of innocent civilians,” adding that immediate sanctions against the regime are needed.

The European Union has for its part been more circumspect, except for Germany, which has called for immediate sanctions.

Unlike Libya, where they acted swiftly, France and Great Britain, in the Syrian case, have called for sanctions only if the situation got worse.

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


Bin Laden: Moscow Patriarchate Joins Vatican in Denouncing Celebrations

Deputy Head of Department for Relations between the Church and society: his death does not solve the terrorism problem. And in Russia, Jewish and Muslim leaders praise the just vengeance carried out by the United States.

Moscow (AsiaNews) — The Moscow Patriarchate has joined the Vatican in warning against rejoicing over the death of Osama bin Laden, who was killed on 1 May by the US-led operation. “The Russian Orthodox Church does not share the joy that we have seen in some countries — Archpriest Georgy Roschin, deputy head of the Patriarchate’s department for relations between the Church and society told Interfax — whoever dies, be he the greatest evil or the greatest terrorist, he will be judged by God alone. “

The priest does not see the killing of the head of al Qaeda as solving the problem of terrorism itself: “The main issue is making the right decisions and celebrating achievements aimed at resolving the problem in general and not removing a member of a group terrorist”.

However the reaction of the supreme mufti, the spiritual authority of the of the Muslims of Central Russia, Talgat Tudzhuddin, has been the opposite. He says he was delighted at the killing of the sheikh of terror. “This is the only way to deal with international terrorism,” said the Muslim leader. ‘Probably bin Laden was not the only one to foment extremism among the Wahhabis — added Tudzhuddin — now we must think about how to truly eradicate global terrorism. “

Asked whether there are many followers of Osama in Russia, the mufti replied firmly: “Absolutely not. The majority of Russian Muslims will not accept extremism. “ “Our country — he continued — is giving a good example of how Christians and Muslims can live together, thanks to the Russian Orthodox Church. The faithful of Islam and Christianity have long since found a happy medium in Russia, which allows us to be brothers without opposition. “

The chief rabbi of Russia, Berel Lazar, also spoke with strong words about elimination of the most wanted terrorist in the world, describing the episode as “a triumph of justice.” “We fully support the idea that people who despise the value of human life should be destroyed,” said the rabbi.

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

South Asia

Bin Laden: Injured Wife Identified, Was His “Favored”

(AGI) Washington — Bin Laden’s wife, wounded during the Abbottabad raid, has been identified. Amal Ahmed Abdul Fatah has been identified by US authorities thanks to a Yemeni passport. According to a Pakistani TV station, her document has been found in the mansion-fortress occupied by the terrorist and his entourage. The young lady, probably the Osama’s favored wife, is 29 and was given as a gift to the prince of terror by her tribal family when she was just an adolescent.

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

Bin Laden: Al-Qaeda Leader ‘Captured Alive and Shot Dead by US Special Forces’

Islamabad, 4 May (AKI) — Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s daughter has confirmed her father was captured alive and shot dead in front of his family by the US special forces in the city of Abbottabad on Monday, Arabic satellite news channel Al-Arabiya reports, citing Pakistani officials.

The official were quoted as saying they received this information from a 12-year-old daughter of Bin Laden who was among was among the six children aged between 2 and 12 who were rescued from the three-storey compound 100 kilometres north of Islamabad, where the US operation took place.

The officials say not all children rescued from the house belonged to the late Al-Qaeda leader. The US has not been granted access to the children or to the two women who were arrested during the 40-minute operation early on Monday, the officials were quoted as saying.

One of the women, believed to be one of Bin Laden’s five wives, received bullet wounds during the operation as she reportedly accosted US navy seals who burst into Bin Ladens’ bedroom, where he was killed.

US officials said late on Tuesday that Bin Laden was not armed during the operation, contradicting earlier claims by the administration of US president Barack Obama.

The US information tallies with that collected by Pakistani officials from those present at the compound during the raid, who also said that no one in the compound fired at US helicopters or commandos.

A Pakistani security source told Al-Arabiya that the Bin Laden’s family members had been transported to the garrison town of Rawalpindi, which is near Islamabad.

“They are now under treatment in the military hospital of Rawalpindi, where they have been transported in an helicopter,” the source was cited as telling Al -Arabiya.

Bin Laden’s wife had either been had been injured in her leg or her shoulder, according to the source.

Some reports suggest 16 people, including women and children, were detained at the house, most of them Arab nationals. Four bullet-riddled bodies were also recovered from the compound, according to Pakistani officials.

The second woman who was arrested is believed to be Yemeni and may be the Bin Laden family’s personal doctor, according to Pakistani officials. Bin Laden was known to be afflicted with renal failure.

The officials were cited as saying a woman who was among those killed in the assault could either be Bin Laden’s wife or a close family member since she offered to sacrifice her life for him.

“As per our information, she shielded Bin Laden during the operation and was killed by American commandos,” an official said.

US Special forces only took two bodies with them in the military chopper that headed towards Afghanistan after the raid. One is said to be Bin Laden’s and the other his son’s.

By the time Pakistani security agencies and soldiers arrived at the spot, the US commandos were flying over the mountains in the Pakistani tribal belt, well on their way to Afghanistan, according to Pakistani officials.

Pakistani security forces have sealed off the main entrances to the Abbottabad compound and deployed military and police to protect it.

Some media were given access to the spot but no one was allowed to enter, Al-Arabiya reported.

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

CIA: Blitz: Pakistan Not Warned to Avoid Alerting Bin Laden

(AGI) Washington- The CIA did not inform Pakistani authorities of the blitz over fears that they could “jeopardize the mission”. Leon Panetta, head of the CIA and future Secretary of Defense, broke the silence surrounding the mission that ended Osama Bin Laden’s life in his compound in Abbottabbad and, in essence, stated that Washington does not trust its allies in Islamabad. In such a situation Pakistan “might alert the targets”, Panetta added during his interview on Time magazine in which other details of the blitz were revealed.

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

Indonesia: Police to Guard Islamist Prayer Recital for Al-Qaeda’s Late Leader

Jakarta, 4 May (AKI/Jakarta Post) — Indonesian police were due Wednesday to guard mass prayers organised by the hardline Islam Defenders Front (FPI) for Osama Bin Laden. The late Al-Qaeda leader was shot dead in a US military operation at his luxury compound in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad on Monday.

The prayers were due to be held at the FPI headquarters in Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta, from 7 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday.

Jakarta Police spokesman Baharudin Djafar said the radical Islamist group did not need to request permission from police to hold the event.

“Its an ordinary Koran recital. We can’t stop people from praying,” he added,

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

Pakistan: Bin Laden’s Death Could Spark a Conflict Between Christianity and Islam

A Pakistani editorial writer warns that a “religious war” is a real possibility. Minority affairs adviser Paul Bhatti says the death of the al Qaeda leader “first step towards eliminating extremism.” For Mgr Rufin Anthony, no one should rejoice at the death of a man. Anglican bishop calls for greater protection for Christians against possible attacks.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) — Osama Bin Laden’s death might radicalise a conflict and lead to open warfare between Christianity and Islam, something Pope Benedict XVI strongly opposes. For Aoun Sahi, a Muslim journalist and expert on religion and politics in Pakistan, this “is a real danger.” In his view, the al Qaeda leader killed yesterday by US Special Forces “was not an Islamic leader, but his followers are all Muslim”. Pakistan’s Christian minority might be the first victim of revenge. Many Catholic leaders share this fear. Although they agree that his death was a “success” in the fight against terrorism, they are also adamant that Christians in their demand for greater protection. Indeed, they insist that Bin Laden’s death should not be the cause of any rejoicing, as the Vatican said in a press release yesterday, because no one’s death should be source of celebration.

A “war of religion” remains the worst fear, stoked by fundamentalist groups bent on avenging Bin Laden’s death, this according to Aoun Sahi, a Muslim and editorialist at The News International, as well as an expert on religion and politics in Pakistan.

Minorities, including Christians, are an easy target of radical groups, he said. Whilst “Osama Bin Laden was not an Islamic leader, his followers are all Muslim” and will probably react to his death with attacks. Pakistan could see this because it is a softer target than the United States or Europe. Its Christian minority (unfairly associated with the US and the West) is a privileged target.

People are “shocked and surprised” by the death of the al Qaeda leader, but the consequences of the US operation are the most serious problem. So far, “no serious act of violence has occurred,” Aoun Sahi said, “but the death of the organisation’s leader might lead to a reaction” that could end in a conflict between Muslims and Christians.

“Christians are potential objectives” but today “extremists are vulnerable,” said Paul Bhatti, special adviser to the prime minister on religious minorities. Speaking to AsiaNews, he explained, “The northern areas of the country have been the safe haven for extremists, but” Bin Laden’s death “is a turning point. It is a first step towards eliminating extremism”. For the brother of the late Shabbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s Minority Affairs minister who was slain last March, the War on Terror has reached a peak, and the protection of Christians is a problem.

Mgr Rufin Anthony, bishop of Islamabad/Rawalpindi, said that the US Security Forces operation carried against the “most wanted man in the world” cannot be a source of rejoicing, as the Vatican spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi, said yesterday.

The action, the prelate said, has caused a split between the government and its allies, in view of the protection offered to Bin Laden, and between the central and provincial governments. All this raises questions about Pakistan’s territorial sovereignty.

“Terrorists should not be allowed to use Pakistani soil,” Fr Habib Paul said. The fact that Osama Bin Laden was allowed to live here in peace”, just “a few kilometres” from an important military academy, in an area of “maximum security”, is another “source of concern that must be addressed as soon as possible.”

Anglican Bishop Alexander Maik is worried about how extremists will react. “The security of Christian institutions has been beefed up due to potential threats,” but “many Christians are hesitant to publicly talk about Osama Bin Laden’s death.”

Founder and leader of al Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden was killed in a military operation led by US Special Forces in Abbottabad, about 60 kilometres from Islamabad. He died from gunshots to the head. Four more people were killed during the assault.

The Dawn, one of Pakistan’s main newspapers, claims that Bin Laden might have been shot by one his bodyguards to prevent capture.

In Pakistan, the controversy is fierce because US Special Forces, acting on orders of US President Barack Obama, intervened without informing Pakistani government authorities.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari rejected claims that Bin Laden’s death marked the failure of his government’s commitment to the struggle against terrorism. On the contrary, he said that his country was “perhaps the world’s greatest victim of terrorism”.

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

Pakistan: “Disquieting That USA Have No Confidence”

(AGI) London — Pakistan comments it is “disquieting” that the US do not trust Islamabad. This is what Pakistani Foreign Affairs Minister Salman Bashir told Cia’s Leon Panetta. The former maintains the US did not inform Islamabad about the raid because they feared Pakistan would tell Osama bin Laden.

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

Pakistani Official Sells Osama Death Scene Photos to Reuters

As Obama should have learned both from WikiLeaks and Serenity, you can’t stop the signal. But you can lose control of the message, and the Obama White House is on the cusp of doing just that.

Photographs acquired by Reuters and taken about an hour after the U.S. assault on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad in Pakistan show three dead men lying in pools of blood, but no weapons.

The photos, taken by a Pakistani security official who entered the compound after the early morning raid on Monday, show two men dressed in traditional Pakistani garb and one in a t-shirt, with blood streaming from their ears, noses and mouths.

The official, who wished to remain anonymous, sold the pictures to Reuters.

None of the men looked like bin Laden.

At the moment, I can’t get Reuters’ slide show to work. Their servers must be getting slammed. The one photo I did see was gruesome, but less so than the dozens of beheading videos and slide that al Qaeda has put out on the internet in the last 10 years.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

U. S. Says Bin Laden Lived in Abbottabad for 5-6 Years

(AGI) Washington — John Brennan said that Osama bin Laden lived in the Abbottabad complex, in Pakistan, for around 5-6 years.

The White House counterterrorism adviser explained: “Well I think the latest information is that he was in this compound for the past five or six years and he had virtually no interaction with others outside that compound. But yet he seemed to be very active inside the compound. And we know that he had released videos and audios. We know that he was in contact with some senior al Qaeda officials.” ..

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

Was Bin Laden’s Killing Legal? One Top UN Expert Says So.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms Martin Scheinin believes the killing of Osama Bin Laden was legal.

“The United States offered bin Laden the possibility to surrender, but he refused. Bin Laden would have avoided destruction if he had raised a white flag”, Scheinin said on Tuesday.

According to Scheinin, apprehending a dangerous criminal like Osama bin Laden means that one must be prepared to use force. He noted that killing is permissible under international law only if the person being apprehended resists, and if there are no other means available.

Scheinin said that the United States was prepared for the possibility of catching bin Laden alive, noting that the operation involved a commando raid on his hiding place, and not a missile strike.

Scheinin is no American patsy. He previously served as special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism and has called Guantanamo a “legal black hole.” He has been sharply critical of the America detention policies and the military commissions to try terror suspects.

Meanwhile, the top UN human rights official Navi Pillay also gives a wink and nod to the U.S. operation.

“I note that the United States has clearly stated that their intention was to arrest bin Laden if they could, I fully understand that this was always likely to have been difficult,” she added.

“This was a complex operation and it would have been helpful if we knew the precise facts surrounding his killing,” the High Commissioner for Human Rights said. All counter-terrorism operations had to respect international law, she added.

This all goes to show that the United States fumbled a little bit when Obama administration officials quickly changed their story surrounding the precise details of Bin Laden’s death. First, they said, he raised a weapon to resist —so the shooting was clearly justified and legal. Now, they say, he was making other threatening gestures, which would also justify his killing. However, if he was shot while trying to surrender then the legality of his killing becomes less clear. That’s why human rights officials like Pillay have to tread somewhat carefully here.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

‘Bout 2 Kill Ma Kid’: Guilty Father Ramazan ‘Ramzy’ Acar’s Chilling Facebook Updates

A MAN who today admitted murdering his two-year-old daughter posted a message on Facebook which read “Bout 2 kill ma kid” just before he stabbed her with a massive Ninja-style knife.

Shortly afterwards Ramazan “Ramzy” Acar, 24, sent a text message to the toddler’s mother Rachelle D’Argent which read “It’s ova I did it”.

A magistrate heard today that as little Yazmina Acar lay dying beside her father he posted another Facebook message which read “Pay bk u slut”.

The shocking details of the murder of little Yazmina were revealed in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court in a police brief of evidence.

Wearing an oversize dark suit and white shirt and tie Acar, of Meadow Heights, looked nonchalant as he appeared in the prisoners dock as Ms D’Argent and her friends and family looked on.

As the charge of murder was read to him by Magistrate Peter Reardon he replied in a clear voice: “Guilty”.

Mr Reardon remanded Acar in custody until May 18 to appear in the Supreme Court.

Ms D’Argent and Acar were estranged and Yazmina or “Mimi” was murdered on November 17 last year after he picked her up from her mother at Hallam to take her to a milk bar to buy her a Kinder Surprise.

But instead Acar kidnapped the child, stabbed her a number of times and dumped her body at Greenvale Reservoir reserve.

Straining her head towards the dock today, Ms D’Argent punched the air and wept as Acar admitted killing Yazmina in revenge for their broken relationship.

“I wanted him to look me in the eye and he did,” Ms D’Argent said as she walked from court.

“A quick glimpse but enough for him to say he was guilty.”

She said she was relieved she would not have to go through the ordeal of a trial.

“It was enough for me to know he did it and my daughter to know but for everybody else to hear it. Makes me all the more happy,” she said.

“I was there for my daughter.”

Ms D’Argent said she was “getting there” with her recovery from the ordeal and in a message to Yazmina said that “mummy’s always gonna be there for you”.

In her witness statement Ms D’Argent said she and Acar were together for a number of years and at one time they were engaged but his jealousy and violent outbursts drove them apart.

On the day of the killing she said Acar arrived in his utility, and reluctantly she allowed him to take Yazmina to a milk bar at the end of the street.

But he never returned her.

Ms D’Argent said she phoned him a number of times pleading with him to bring her daughter home before calling police.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]


Australia: Dozens of Failed ‘Refugees’ Still Here

MORE than 30 Afghan asylum-seekers whose claims have been rejected and who have elected not to pursue their cases in the courts have yet to leave Australia.

As Julia Gillard was forced to defend her government’s refugee selection process, figures obtained by The Australian have called into question the ability, or willingness, of the government to deport people whose claims have failed. According to the Immigration Department there were 34 Afghans in detention who have exhausted their administrative appeal rights and who were subject to deportation, as of April 1.

The asylum-seekers had failed their initial assessment and, according to the Immigration Department, “had not sought judicial review within the appeal timeframe”, making them eligible for immediate removal.

When asked why the asylum-seekers had not been removed in line with the government’s policy, an Immigration Department spokesman said removals were “complex processes”.

“As the minister stated previously, we expect some Afghans to be returned within the first year of the MoU,” the spokesman said, referring to the memorandum of understanding for the return of those asylum-seekers who did not qualify or who were no longer perceived to be in danger in Afghanistan.

“Removal planning is at various stages,” the spokesman said.

Afghanistan’s ambassador to Australian, Amanullah Jayhoon, said he was unaware of the cases and had not been asked to prepare temporary travel documents, an essential first step when removing people.

News of the 34 cases came after The Australian reported that 70 per cent of failed asylum claims were being overturned on review, greatly reducing any deterrent the government hoped to achieve by lowering the claim success rate. When quizzed about the figure on Monday, the Prime Minister said her government assessed asylum claims “properly and rigorously”.

Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said the 34 cases showed the government was “all front and no shop” on deportations, although he acknowledged the Howard government had not returned a single Afghan asylum-seeker.

“This was the opportunity to test the government’s return agreement with Afghanistan which, on the evidence available, is not being used to send a very strong message that if you fail in your application you’ll be sent home,” Mr Morrison said.

He stopped short of committing a Coalition government to returning asylum-seekers, which has proved difficult given the reluctance of the Afghan government to allow forced deportations.

“(But) it’s our policy to have a return agreement in place that can be implemented,” Mr Morrison said.

Since the new wave of boats started in 2008, 10,555 asylum-seekers have arrived on Australia’s shores, with Afghan Hazaras comprising the single largest group.

Despite promising to deport failed asylum-seekers to their country of origin, just 209 — or 2 per cent — have been deported, almost all voluntarily.

A High Court decision last year, which extended judicial oversight to asylum-seekers who arrived by boat, is expected to complicate and slow the deportations process, as failed refugees can now appeal through the federal courts and potentially to the High Court.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

EU Claims 650,000 People Have Left Libya

(AGI) Brussels- According to the EU’s latest estimates, 650,000 people have left Libya to escape war and bloodshed. The figure was released in the context of the Commission’s report on the EU’s immigration policy. All fugitives have sought refuge in neighboring countries, mainly Tunisia and Egypt, and many have already been helped so as to enable them to return home.

Meanwhile, over 25,000 migrants chose Europe; most of these come from Tunisia, and the majority of them landed on Italy’s coastline (essentially in Lampedusa) and in Malta.

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

EU Must Help Border Member States Tackle Immigration

(AGI) Brussels — The EU said the member states most exposed to immigration can’t be left to tackle the emergency on their own.

Presenting a document prepared by the EU Commission defining a common policy on immigration, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom said the EU can’t leave the member states most exposed to immigration from North Africa to deal with the current emergency on their own. Malmstrom acknowledged that some member states are more exposed than others to a massive inflow of migrants and that the situation can’t be dealt with only at a national level.

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

Helsinki Parents at Pains to Avoid Schools With High Proportion of Immigrants

By Jaakko Lyytinen

Pasi and Merja recently separated.

“It was the best that we could do in this situation”, Pasi says.

The father hardly looks shaken by the separation as he sits in the ample living room of his home. He isn’t upset, because the separation exists only on paper. Pasi and the family’s younger child moved their official place of residence to the home of relatives, but in fact, the family continues to live together.

The purpose of the paper separation was to keep their child, who starts school in the autumn, from ending up in the school nearest to them.

“We left nothing to chance.”

Pasi and Merja are not their real names. This is not a subject that people want to discuss openly.

Pasi and Merja live in a neighbourhood of small houses in Metsälä in the north of Helsinki.

More than a dozen children who start school next autumn live in the neighbourhood of about 1,000 residents, and nearly all of them applied for admission to a school outside their neighbourhood.

Many of the neighbours have pulled similar stunts. Residents of Metsälä have different ways of getting their children into schools in nearby Oulunkylä or Käpylä.

Some have even acquired a second home to make sure that their children attend school somewhere other than their nearest one in Maunula.

Maunula is a suburb of more than 7,000 residents next to Metsälä. The area is of manageable size with plenty of green space.

Having lived in Maunula for six years myself, I can confirm this impression, but Maunula continues to have a somewhat questionable reputation, which has not completely gone away, even though the area is currently peaceful and is filled with families with children.

Most of the children in our neighbourhood have started school at the Maunula comprehensive.

Both children and parents have insisted that they are pleased with their neighbourhood school. That is why I was surprised to hear about the Metsälä phenomenon. When I spoke with local residents there the reasons started to become clearer.

An invisible wall exists along the border of Maunula and Metsälä.

The average income of Maunula residents is EUR 22,400 a year, while the Metsälä residents earn EUR 37,000.

Maunula has many low-income pensioners, and half of the homes in the area are built on the partially publicly-funded Arava subsidy scheme, compared with only ten per cent in Metsälä.

And then there is the sensitive issue: about a tenth of the residents in Maunula speak a language other than Finnish or Swedish as their mother tongue.

In Metsälä, with its 1,000 residents, just 43 speak a foreign language at home. The entire foreign language-speaking population there could nearly fit in a single city bus.

“Our children were in day care in Oulunkylä. It was the most important reason for our choice of schools”, says a mother from Metsälä, whose child is going to a school in Oulunkylä. It is a good reason. The child can move on to another phase in life with a familiar group of children.

Pasi also emphasises the attraction of the neighbouring area, but in addition to the attractive factors there are other features that made the mother from Metsälä refuse to consider a school in Maunula.

“Undoubtedly we all want to live in a multicultural and tolerant atmosphere, but the fact is that if there are many children who do not speak Finnish, the teacher’s time is spent on them”, the mother of two says.

She does not know any children who have actually attended school in Maunula, but she has “heard stories”.

The stories are spread as mothers meet for coffee during the day, but few bother to examine whether or not there is any truth to these mental images that people have. The result is mass flight.

Pasi also has an impression of the Maunula school. “Normal education does not work there. There are many children who should not be in first grade at school. When your own child is at stake, you have to be careful.”

The large number of immigrant children is a concern for him. “It’s damn hard to teach if the group doesn’t speak any language. They just yell in their cultural agony.”

Pasi also does not know any pupils at the Maunula school, or any parents whose children would be there. “I don’t have first-hand information, but I have heard stories through a couple of acquaintances.”

So let’s go and take a look at this school.

“Good morning pupils.” “Good morning, head teacher.” When Susanna Lamminpää, the principal of the Maunula comprehensive steps into the fourth grade classroom, the children stand up and greet her enthusiastically.

“This has been an especially nice place to work, because the school is so diverse”, Lamminpää says.

In addition to children from the area, the school has special needs pupils, as well as elementary school groups in English and Swedish. About a third of the pupils have a language other than Finnish or Swedish as their mother tongue. The children represent 42 different nationalities, but less than a tenth of the pupils who are starting school next autumn have a non-Finnish surname.

Children of different backgrounds have been taken into consideration in everything, Lamminpää says. There are international events, celebrations, and common activities.

The school gets a bonus of EUR 49,000 a year to cover costs of “positive discrimination”. The funds are allocated on the basis of the parents’ education level and income, as well as their possible immigrant background. In Maunula the money has been used to pay for two teaching assistants and for the organisation of events to teach awareness of differences.

What about the fears of the people in Metsälä?

Lamminpää says that the education of the first-graders is tailor-made according to the children’s aptitude. The demands posed by children do not depend on their ethnic background. “All children require more pupil care today”, Lamminpää says.

Many teachers confirm this. Wealthy white areas have their own problems.

“The children spend plenty of time alone. If career parents are told that their child is a loner, they say that they trust their children. A first-grader knows how to heat a meal in a microwave himself”, one teacher says.

The Metsälä phenomenon is spreading in the Helsinki region. Middle class parents are afraid that their children will not get a good education if there are many immigrants attending the school.

And what’s the result? Schools are increasingly differentiating from each other. School shoppers vote with their cars and will drive their children to the other side of the city, if necessary, to prevent their little ones from ending up in an excessively multi-coloured environment.

The first thing that parents ask a real estate agent is what the nearest school is like.

In Helsinki about a third of all children start their education somewhere other than their neighbourhood school. Schools are diverging, especially in the east of Helsinki, where the proportion of immigrants in some areas is considerably higher than in Maunula, for instance.

Immigrants are unevenly distributed around the city. A significant number have settled in areas where there are Arava rental apartments. Plenty of low-income native Finns already live in those areas.

School shopping is a phenomenon that officials do not like to talk about. Most of those interviewed for this article would prefer that nothing were written about the topic. They are afraid that publicity would simply strengthen the phenomenon.

Head teacher Outi Rinta-Filppula of the Oulunkylä school feels that the number of immigrants has nothing to do with the desire of people from Metsälä to put their children in the Oulunkylä school.

“The situation has been the same for decades. Metsälä has long been a part of Oulunkylä. The boundary of the school zone is not the same as that between parts of the city. Metsälä does not have a natural connection to Maunula, and preschool takes place on the Oulunkylä side.”

The reasons that are given to the head teacher are naturally quite different from the ones that are whispered at the playground.

The head teacher says that the 600-pupil Oulunkylä school has several dozen children with an immigrant background.

Selecting schools does not help an individual pupil, says Venla Bernelius, a researcher who has studied differentiation among schools in Helsinki.

“Studies conducted in Finland do not give credence to the assumption that a nearby school would be a bad school. Differences between schools in Helsinki as well come back to the background of the pupils.”

The biggest impact on learning is the education of the parents and the pupil’s own motivation.

“If parents start to shop for schools based on what they imagine, divergence becomes stronger, and the problem can blow up in our face.”

Bernelius feels that schools in weaker areas should be made more attractive with the help of special input. The City of Helsinki has already tried to reduce differentiation through means such as positive discrimination, but in spite of that, the trend has accelerated.

Some have proposed as a solution the implementation of quotas for immigrants in school. According to a Helsingin Sanomat opinion poll, a third of Helsinki residents would support such a move.

However, quotas are difficult to implement in practice. All children should naturally have the right to attend a nearby school regardless of background.

On the other hand, some immigrant parents support the idea of quotas. As one teacher in an elementary school in the east of Helsinki said, it would be good for the language education of immigrant children if there were a sufficient number of pupils in the school who speak Finnish as their mother tongue.

What should be done about the phenomenon? Parents want the best for their children, but if they shop for schools based on mental images, many neighbourhood schools could atrophy and multicultural coexistence would never happen.

If we parents instil our prejudices into our children, Helsinki will become an unpleasant city.

As one teacher in the east of Helsinki put it, “One good way to grow into an increasingly internationalised world is a school that contains a small world within its walls.”

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

Italy: Tunisian Migrants Stage Protests at Trapani Holding Centre

(AGI) Trapani — Tunisian migrants held at an identification centre in Trapani staged protests this afternoon. The group set fire to mattresses and began loud protests from behind the barred windows at the facility. The fire brigade were called in to turn the fires out. Police were also called in to sedate the riots.

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

The French Judicial Fiasco

Libération, 3 May 2011

Liberation devotes its front page to Tunisian migrants landed in Italy in recent days and detained in France. Dozens of the migrants, arrested by French police after crossing the French-Italian border, were freed this weekend after appearing before the “liberties and detention” judge (juge des libertés et de la détention). In Marseille in particular, 35 have been released while the prefecture is requesting permission to prolong their detention in order to return them to Italy or Tunisia. The court ordered their release due to the procedural errors made by the police during the mass arrests. “The swelling of muscles ends up in a judicial rout”, comments Libération, questioning the “meaning of this debacle” which contradicts the thundering declarations of the French authorities. The newspaper quoted the analysis of one of the French lawyers for the Tunisians: “This may be a purely political move. They show their muscles to please public opinion, and make some arrests for the media, even if they lead nowhere.”

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