Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110729

Financial Crisis
»House Approves Revised Boehner Debt Ceiling Plan
»US Debt Debate: Annihilating Democracy With the Tea Party
»Who Holds the Federal Debt
Europe and the EU
»A Vision in Concrete: Photographer Captures Beauty in Communist Architecture
»Breivik and Totalitarian Democrats
»Fundamentalist Christian or Deranged Social Darwinist?
»Germany: Train Driver Sues Parents of Suicide Victim
»Germany: Spy Agency Doubts Far-Right Network Exists
»Housing a Hedgehog is a Crime: Swedish Police
»‘I May Have Influenced the Norwegian Mass Murderer’ Says British Extremist Who Admits Being in Contact With Anders Breivik Online
»Italy: Senate Passes Bill Critics Say Allows Berlusconi to Avoid Prosecution
»Italy: No TAV Attack Chiomonte Site, 6 Officers Wounded
»Leonardo in Bavaria? The Expensive Quest to Authenticate a Da Vinci
»Melanie Phillips: Fanaticism: Mass Murder and the Left
»Norway: In His Rage Against Muslims, Norway’s Killer Was No Loner
»Norwegian ‘MI5’ Had Massacre Suspect on List
»Srdja Trifkovic: The Oslo Connection
»The Growth of Islamophobia
»The Likud Connection: Europe’s Right-Wing Populists Find Allies in Israel
»The Norway Massacre and Europe’s War on Free Speech
»UK: Breivik and the Right
»UK: Christmas Comes to London in July as Stores Cash in on ‘Ramadan Rush’
»UK: I’m Starting to Think That the Left Might Actually be Right
»UK: Probe Into Secretive Sharia Law Courts Scrapped as Muslim Leaders Close Ranks
»Europe’s Achilles’ Heel: Historical EU Error to Blame for Kosovo Strife
North Africa
»Algeria: Man Blows Himself Up to Avoid Arrest
»Egypt: Tens of Thousands in Tahrir, Islamists Take Lead
»Egypt: Tens of Thousands of People in Tahrir Square to Protect Egypt’s Arab and Islamic Identity
»ENI Said Libyan Civil War Prompted it to Cut Production Targets
»Last Libyan Mission for Norway’s F16s to Fly Tomorrow
»Libya: Rebel Leader ‘Arrested’ And Then Killed
Israel and the Palestinians
»Gaza: Vandalism of UNRWA Summer Camp for Children
»Israel and the Palestinians: Crazed Dinner Party Politics
Middle East
»U.S. Accuses Iran of Striking Deal With Al-Qaeda
»Breivik ‘Underwent Paramilitary Training in Belarus’
South Asia
»India: Hindu Radical Kills Christian Who Had Testified in Court in a Kandhamal Pogrom-Related Case
»Italy: Residence Permit Like Driving Licence
Culture Wars
»Sweden: Minister Touts New Law on Board Gender Quotas

Financial Crisis

House Approves Revised Boehner Debt Ceiling Plan

After a belabored and bruising struggle to appease conservatives, the House of Representatives has passed Speaker John A. Boehner’s bill to raise the debt limit and reduce the deficit.

The bill passed on a 218-210 vote, winning no Democratic support while losing 22 Republicans. It now moves to the Senate, where Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid has said it will go nowhere.

With just four days left before the government can no longer pay all of its bills, Reid is working on a separate proposal aimed at winning support for Republican moderates in that chamber.

The House bill was a heavy lift for the chamber’s GOP majority, exposing deep divisions between traditional Republicans and hard-line conservatives aligned with the “tea party.” Boehner twice delayed the vote this week and revised the bill to win support from his reluctant right flank.

The latest round of changes was made on Friday, after House leaders spent hours in tense and unsuccessful backroom bargaining sessions with members on Thursday night. They ultimately agreed to amend the bill to insist on passage of a balanced-budget amendment in both houses of Congress as part of a debt-limit hike. That move won over roughly a dozen members.

“I’ve always said that I came to this town not looking for a deal, but looking for a solution,” said Rep. Jeff Landry (R-La.), a holdout until the change was announced at a morning meeting of Republicans.

Still, the vote proved to be a nailbiter. Republican whips scrambled on the floor, clenching their list of names and searching for members…

[Return to headlines]

US Debt Debate: Annihilating Democracy With the Tea Party

Democracy depends on compromise and the American government depends on all branches working together. The Tea Party movement shuns both, preferring instead to drive the state into bankruptcy. On principle.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Who Holds the Federal Debt

As of the end of March, the federal government owed $14.27 trillion to a wide variety of holders of U.S. Treasury securities. This graphic depicts who those creditors are and the amount they have bought in treasuries.

Treasury securities are the most sought-after in the world because the assumption that United States would always be able to repay its debts has generally gone unquestioned. That is why officials are negotiating to increase the government’s borrowing limit and avoid a default.

More than $9 trillion of the total debt is held by “the public” — a broad category that includes individual investors in the United States and overseas, the Federal Reserve system, and foreign governments and central banks. The remaining debt is held by government accounts, mostly trust funds established to collect dedicated revenue to pay for such programs as Social Security, Medicare and highway construction.

Almost all of the debt held by the public is “marketable,” meaning that those securities are bought and sold in financial markets. The debt held by the Fed is part of those marketable holdings. So is the debt held by China, the largest foreign creditor at $1.1 trillion. Japan is a close second at $900 billion. Domestic investors — from mutual funds to institutions, such as pensions, to individuals — hold $3.2 trillion in marketable debt and a small share of the non-marketable debt, particularly savings bonds.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

A Vision in Concrete: Photographer Captures Beauty in Communist Architecture

The photographer Roman Bezjak spent five years traveling around Eastern Europe taking pictures of communist-era buildings. His images show grand gestures in concrete and weird constructions that could be in a science-fiction movie. His intention was not to judge the structures, but to show them from a new perspective.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Breivik and Totalitarian Democrats

by Caroline Glick

Last Friday morning, Anders Breivik burst onto the international screen when he carried out a monstrous act of terrorism against his fellow Norwegians. Breivik bombed the offices housing the Norwegian government with the intention of murdering its leaders. He then travelled to the Utoya Island and murdered scores of young people participating in a summer program sponsored by Norway’s ruling party.

In all, last Friday Breivik murdered 76 people. Most of them were teenagers.

Although Breivik has admitted to his crimes, there are still some important questions that remain unanswered. For instance, we still do not know if he acted alone. Breivik claims that there are multiple cells of his fellow terrorists ready to attack. But so far, no one has found evidence to support his claim. We also still do not know if — for all his bravado — Breivik was acting on his own initiative or as an agent for others.

Finding the answers to these, and other questions are is a matter of the highest urgency. For if in fact Breivik is not a lone wolf, then there is considerable danger that additional, perhaps pre-planned attacks may be carried out in the near future. And given the now demonstrated inadequacy of Norway’s law enforcement arms in contending with terror attacks, the prospect of further attacks should be keeping Norwegian and other European leaders up at night.

Despite the dangers, very little of the public discourse since Breivik’s murderous assault on his countrymen has been devoted to these issues. Rather, the Norwegian and Western media have focused their discussion of Breivik’s terrorist attack on his self-justifications for it. Those self-justifications are found mainly in a 1,500 page manifesto that Breivik posted on the Internet.

Some of the material for his manifesto was plagiarized from the manifesto written by Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, whose bombing campaign spanned two decades and killed 3 and wounded 23. Kaczynski got the New York Times and the Washington Post to publish his self-justifications in 1995 by threatening to murder more people if they refused.

Breivik’s manifesto has become the center of the international discussion of his actions largely as a result of the sources he cited.

Kaczynski, like his fellow eco-terrorist Jason Jay Lee, who took several people hostage at the Discovery Channel in Maryland last September, was influenced by the writings of former US vice president Al Gore. A well worn copy of Gore’s book Earth in the Balance was reportedly found by federal agents when they searched Kaczynski’s cabin in Montana in 1996. Lee claimed that he was “awakened” to the need to commit terrorism to save the environment after he watched Gore’s film, “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Aside from Kaczynski, (whom he plagiarized without naming), certain parts of Breivik’s manifesto read like a source guide to leading conservative writers and bloggers in the Western world. And this is unprecedented. Never before has a terrorist cited so many conservatives to justify his positions.

Breivik particularly noted writers who focus on critical examinations of multiculturalism and the dangers emanating from jihadists and the cause of global jihad. He also cited the work of earlier political philosophers and writers including John Stuart Mill, George Orwell, John Locke, Edmund Burke, Winston Churchill and Thomas Jefferson.

Breivik’s citation of conservative writers, (including myself and many of my friends and colleagues in the US and Europe), has dominated the public discussion of his actions. The leftist dominated Western media — most notably the New York Times — and the left wing of the blogosphere have used his reliance on their ideological opponents’ arguments as a means of blaming the ideas propounded by conservative thinkers and the thinkers themselves for Breivik’s heinous acts of murder.

For instance, a front page news story in the Times on Monday claimed, “The man accused of the killing spree in Norway was deeply influenced by a small group of American bloggers and writers who have warned for years about the threat from Islam.”

The reporter, Scott Shane named several popular anti-jihadist blogs that Breivik mentioned in his manifesto. Shane then quoted left-leaning terrorism expert Marc Sageman who alleged that that the writings of anti-jihad authors “are the infrastructure from which Breivik emerged.”

That is, Shane quoted Sageman accusing these writers of responsibility for Breivik’s acts of murder.

Before considering the veracity of Sageman’s claim, it is worth noting that no similar allegations were leveled by the media or their favored terror experts against Gore in the wake of Lee’s hostage taking last year, or in the aftermath of Kaczynski’s arrest in 1996. Moreover, Noam Chomsky, Michael Scheuer, Stephen Walt and John Mearshimer, whose writings were endorsed by Osama Bin Laden, have not been accused of responsibility for al Qaeda terrorism.

That is, leftist writers whose works have been admired by terrorists have not been held accountable for the acts of terrorism conducted by their readers.

Nor should they have been. And to understand why this sort of guilt-by-readership is wrong, it is worth considering what separates liberal democracies from what the great Israeli historian Jacob Talmon referred to as totalitarian democracies…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

Fundamentalist Christian or Deranged Social Darwinist?

Since the horrific acts perpetrated by Anders Behring Breivik in Norway last week, the newsmedia have been scrambling to uncover the worldview of Mr. Breivik. After initially speculating (wrongly) that the Oslo bombing and subsequent youth camp massacre were committed by a radical Muslim, establishment media outlets like CNN sought to depict Breivik as “a right-wing Christian fundamentalist.” Think Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson with a machine gun.

Except, it now turns out, Breivik really isn’t a Christian fundamentalist after all. According to his 1518-page manifesto “A European Declaration of Independence,” he may not even believe in God. Instead of Christianity, his views are largely based on what might be described as a virulent mixture of scientific fundamentalism and Social Darwinism.

[read the rest]

[Return to headlines]

Germany: Train Driver Sues Parents of Suicide Victim

A train driver who ran over a young man presumed to have committed suicide by throwing himself onto the tracks, is demanding compensation from the dead man’s parents, media reported Wednesday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: Spy Agency Doubts Far-Right Network Exists

Germany’s foreign intelligence agency has said there is no evidence that a Europe-wide network of right-wing extremists is evolving, casting doubt on claims by Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik. The Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), which is Germany’s rough equivalent to the CIA, has not observed any kind of trend towards organised cells of far-right militants, as Breivik claimed in his 1,500-word manifesto. “Right-wing extremism is nationally stamped,” BND head Ernst Uhrlau told the daily Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung. “We have no knowledge of a cross-border militant movement or even an international right-wing terrorism movement developing.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Housing a Hedgehog is a Crime: Swedish Police

Police raided the apartment of a woman in Gävle in eastern Sweden after being tipped off that she was caring for a wild hedgehog in violation of the country’s hunting laws. “We carried out a raid this morning. And there was indeed a hedgehog in there,” Hans-Olof Sundström of the Gävle police to the local Arbetarbladet newspaper. The woman came across the hedgehog in the street in central Gävle back in June. Feeling sorry for it, the woman took the animal back to her apartment and began caring for it. For almost a month, the hedgehog lived a life of luxury in the woman’s flat.

“It appears to have been given food of all kinds, cat food, bread and water. When we arrived there were little sausages on the floor for it to eat,” Sundström told the newspaper. However, as Swedish law prohibits the possession of wild animals, the woman’s act of compassion could end up resulting in criminal charges. After being tipped off about the illicit hedgehog hotel by officials from the County Administrative Board (Länsstyrelsen), police eventually found the prickly animal on the woman’s balcony after a search of her flat. Two county administrative board veterinarians tagged along with local police to verify the variety of hedgehog, which didn’t appear to have suffered any physical harm form the ordeal.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

‘I May Have Influenced the Norwegian Mass Murderer’ Says British Extremist Who Admits Being in Contact With Anders Breivik Online

A former English Defence League activist has admitted he may have inspired Norway gunman Anders Behring Breivik.

Paul Ray said his anti-Muslim blog entitled Richard The Lionhearted could have helped inform Breivik’s exhaustive 1,500 page manifesto in which he justifies the atrocities.

But he condemned the murder of 76 people in twin attacks in Oslo and Utoya on Friday as an act of ‘pure evil.’

Mr Ray, 35, told The Times: ‘I am being implicated as his (Breivik’s) mentor. I definitely could have been his inspiration. It looks like that. But what he did was pure evil.

‘I could never use what he has done to further my own beliefs. What he has done does not equate to anything I am involved in.’

It has been widely reported that Breivik made postings on British nationalist websites and in the manifesto released before the attacks he refers to a ‘mentor’.

Parallels have since been drawn with blogger Mr Ray, who leads an anti-Islam Knights Templar movement, but he vociferously denies having anything to do with the attacks.

The former EDL member, who calls himself ‘Lionheart’, left the UK to live in Malta in 2008 after being arrested over internet postings allegedly inciting racial hatred.

Mr Ray’s extremist views call for Prince William to answer his ‘destiny’ and ‘defend’ his country against the ‘modern invasion’ of Muslims.

He took to his blog to further himself from Brievik, insisting: ‘I might be a Christian fundamentalist who has a deep dislike for Islamic fundamentalism who looks to Templarism as an example.

‘But anyone who knows me knows that I personally would play no part in such inhumane savagery that has no place in the civilised world.

‘My mind cannot comprehend the mass murder inflicted upon the people of Norway, even though I am forced to confront the reality of it due to the fact that I have been implicated in the story surrounding it.

‘Why this man could have based key bits of his manifesto on myself and others I am connected with is something I am sure the police are now trying to work out as they wonder whether we are involved with any of these ‘figment of his imagination’ cells based upon our belief in true Templarism and our political beliefs.’

In an earlier interview with website VBS before the Royal Wedding, he ranted that he lived in ‘exile’ for his beliefs and how Holy War was inevitable between Christians and Muslims, which chimes with Breivik’s Islamaphobic rants.

He said: ‘There’s an influx, an invasion of Muslims from the Middle East and from all around the world, coming into our countries.

The former EDL member then bizarrely said that Prince William was the 1,000th knight of the garter and should take after King Arthur, who led his knights on crusades, fighting Muslims to restore Christianity in Israel.

‘Now more than ever we need to have a King Arthur. And I believe Prince William has to embrace the calling and divine destiny that’s been given to him to assume that role.’

In the interview, he said Princes’ William and Harry were ‘prepared’ for war against Muslims.

‘They have a grasp of the enemy we’re now facing.’

Before launching his attacks, which killed a total of 76 people, Breivik wrote of his allegiance to the Knights Templar — which he described as a secret society created to carry out a crusade against Islam in Europe.

In his manifesto, Breivik claimed the group was created at a meeting in London in 2002 and he was mentored by a man called ‘Richard (the Lionhearted)’…

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Italy: Senate Passes Bill Critics Say Allows Berlusconi to Avoid Prosecution

Rome, 29 July (AKI) — The Italian Senate on Friday voted in favour of a bill critics says will allow embattled prime minister Silvio Berlusconi to avoid prosecution in his four trials.

The bill was passed with a confidence vote 160 in favour and 136 against and would allow the defence to call an unlimited number of witnesses during a trial and in theory permit Berlusconi’s lawyers to prolong his trials until the statute of limitations kicks in.

The confidence motion was the 48th such method used by Berlusconi’s conservative government to pass legislation. The bill must now be passed by the lower house of parliament.

Berlusconi, 74, is facing four trials in Milan for corruption and paying an underaged prostitute for sex. He denies wrongdoing in all the cases and claims to persecuted by left-wing judges.

The billionaire media mogul came under fire earlier this month when it came to light that a complicated emergency government cost-cutting bill contained a measure that would allow companies to postpone court-ordered damages payments until all appeals were exhausted.

Nobody claimed to know who inserted the measure that could have allowed Berlusconi’s Fininvest holding company to delay a 560 million euro payment to a rival. The measure was dropped from the bill.

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

Italy: No TAV Attack Chiomonte Site, 6 Officers Wounded

(AGI) Turin — Guerrilla night at the Chiomonte construction site. Some 200 supporters of the No TAV movement, whose affiliation is uncertain, covered by helmets and gas masks attacked around midnight. Simulating the surrounding of the Chiomonte working site, they invested the area on two fronts: the archaeological area and the section below the A32 highway bridge. The protesters threw at the Police several stones, firecrackers, smoke bombs and assorted fireworks.

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

Leonardo in Bavaria? The Expensive Quest to Authenticate a Da Vinci

Years ago, a Munich couple found an intriguing old painting at a Munich auction house. After buying it, they became convinced that it was a genuine Leonardo da Vinci from the early 16th century. Since then, they have spent a fortune trying to prove it — but have so far come up short.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Melanie Phillips: Fanaticism: Mass Murder and the Left

In the wake of the Norway atrocity and the reaction it has generated, I have been thinking some more about hatred, fanaticism and moral confusion.

This shouldn’t need saying, but it does: there can be no excuse, justification or rationale whatsoever for the atrocity perpetrated by Anders Behring Breivik. The reason it unfortunately needs saying is that I have been reading too many weaselly equivocations about this, along the lines of ‘Yes, it was indeed a most terrible atrocity and one’s heart bleeds for those poor victims; but Norway’s politics towards Israel do stink/Norway’s Labour Party stinks/Quisling’s country, say no more/the Islamisation of Europe stinks/it was only a matter of time before someone was provoked by the railroading of public opinion into doing something like this’.

No, no, no! Any variety of such ‘yes-buttery’ inescapably makes some kind of excuse for the atrocity, however dressed up it may be in suitably pious expressions of horror. There is never any justification for mass murder. None. Any concerns about the Norwegian ambassador to Israel’s disgusting comments or European Islamisation or anything else are a totally separate matter and must be addressed through the democratic process of argument, persuasion and public debate.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Norway: In His Rage Against Muslims, Norway’s Killer Was No Loner

by Seamus Milne

There is a continuum between the toxic bigotry of the mainstream media, EDL slogans and Breivik’s outpourings

It’s comforting, perhaps, to dismiss Anders Behring Breivik as nothing more than a psychotic loner. That was the view of the Conservative London mayor, Boris Johnson, among others. The Norwegian mass killer’s own lawyer has branded him “insane”. It has the advantage of meaning no wider conclusions need to be drawn about the social context of the atrocity.

Had he been a Muslim, as much of the western media concluded he was immediately after the terrorist bloodbath, we can be sure there would have been no such judgments — even though some jihadist attacks have undoubtedly been carried out by individuals operating alone. In fact, however deranged the bombing and shooting might seem, studies of those identified as terrorists have shown they rarely have mental illness or psychiatric abnormalities. Maybe Breivik will turn out to be an exception. But whether his claim that there are other members of a fascistic Christian terror network still at large turns out to be genuine or not, he has clearly fostered enthusiastic links with violent far-right groups abroad, and in Britain in particular. Those include multiple contacts with the Islamophobic English Defence League, which has repeatedly staged violent protests against Muslim communities. “You’re a blessing to all in Europe,” Breivik apparently told EDL supporters in an online message, hailing “our common struggle against the Islamofascists”. Whatever Breivik has done, he hasn’t done in isolation.

Of course the Norwegian killer’s ideology, spelled out in mind-numbing detail in his 1,500-page online manifesto, is both repulsive and absurd. Its main focus is hatred of Islam and Muslims — who he wants deported from Europe — rooted in a self-proclaimed Christian conservatism. He declares himself hostile to “cultural Marxism”, while being both pro-Israel and antisemitic, and a champion of anti-Muslim rage from India to the Arctic circle. The killer has evidently absorbed the far right’s shift from the language of race to the language of culture. But what is most striking is how closely he mirrors the ideas and fixations of transatlantic conservatives that for a decade have been the meat and drink of champions of the war on terror and the claim that Islam and Islamism pose a mortal threat to western civilisation.

It’s all there: the supposed Islamisation of Europe, the classic conspiracism of the “Eurabia” takeover fantasy, the racist hysteria about the Muslim birthrate, the inevitable clash of civilisations, the hatred of “multiculturalism” and the supposed appeasement of Islam by the European elite, which is meant to have fostered a climate where it’s impossible to speak about immigration. All these themes are of course staples of conservative newspapers, commentators and websites. So naturally, exponents of one or more of these tropes are quoted liberally by Breivik, from Bernard Lewis and Melanie Phillips to Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Mark Steyn.

Phillips, a Daily Mail writer, has complained of a “smear”. But an article of hers Breivik cites at length described the former Labour government as guilty of “unalloyed treachery” for using mass immigration to “destroy what it means to be culturally British and to put another ‘multicultural’ identity in its place” — Breivik’s feeling precisely. None of these writers is of course in any way sympathetic to the carnage carried out in Norway last week. But the continuum between the poisonous nonsense commonplace in the mainstream media in recent years, the street slogans of groups like the EDL and Breivik’s outpourings is unmistakable.

The same phenomenon can be seen across European politics, where the rise of rightwing Islamophobic parties from France and the Netherlands to Norway and Switzerland has encouraged the centre-right establishment to play the Islam card, wrap itself in “Christian” values and declare the chimera of multiculturalism an abject failure. It’s hardly surprising that some on the parliamentary right have recognised Breivik’s ideas as their own: the Italian Northern League MEP Mario Borghezio described them as “100% good”. But the same neoconservative zealots who have always insisted that non-violent (Muslim) “extremists” must be cast out because they legitimised and provided a “conveyor belt to terrorism” have now been hoist by their own petard.

That is exactly the role many of their own ideologists have been shown to have played in the case of the butcher of Utoya. When David Cameron denounced multiculturalism in February, he also announced — to the delight of the EDL — that the British government would now be taking on the “non-violent extremists” because they influenced those who embraced violence. Don’t expect the Islamophobic conspiracists to get the same treatment. Breivik is an isolated case, it will be said. In reality, as Europol figures demonstrate, the overwhelming majority of terror attacks in Europe in recent years have been carried out by non-Muslims. In Britain, a string of recent convictions of would-be anti-Muslim terrorists has underlined that Breivik is very far from being just a Norwegian phenomenon.

Lower-level violence and intimidation continues unabated: last week on the day of the Norwegian massacre, in an entirely routine incident, a mosque in Luton was vandalised and spray-painted with a swastika and EDL slogan. The rise of Islamophobia in Europe and the US is the manipulated product of a toxic blend of economic insecurity, unprotected mass migration and the consequences of a decade of western-sponsored war in the Muslim world: from Afghanistan to Iraq, Pakistan to Libya. It has become the new acceptable form of racism — far outstripping in opinion polls the level of hatred for any other religious or racial group, and embraced by those who delude themselves that anti-Muslim bigotry has nothing to do with ethnicity — and even represents some sort of defence of liberal values.

For those who failed to deliver decent jobs, wages and housing, and encouraged employers to profit from low-wage migrant labour, how much easier to scapegoat minority Muslim communities than deal with the banks and corporate free-for-all that triggered the crisis? The attempt to pathologise last Friday’s slaughter and separate it from the swamp that spawned it can only ratchet up the danger to all of us.

[JP note: The upper class toff lecturing the world on racism, etc., whereas all he reveals is his lack of humanity. This cynical level of self-cultivated stupity is mind-numbingly emblematic of the political class in the UK.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Norwegian ‘MI5’ Had Massacre Suspect on List

The man accused of killing at least 76 people in a shooting massacre and car bombing in Norway had been on an intelligence watch list since March, according to reports.

The Norwegian newspaper VG Nett claims Anders Behring Breivik had been put on the list after illegally buying large amount of chemicals online from a Polish retailer.

Sky’s Ian Woods said the Norwegian intelligence service had not acted on the information about because they did not believe it was “relevant”.

In his first court appearance since the horrific attacks on Friday, Breivik admitted he was responsible but pleaded not guilty.

He also revealed that there are “two further cells” in his terror organisation which the judge said will be investigated.

He had previously said he was acting alone and police currently have no other suspects.

But in a press conference officers said they “cannot completely rule out that someone else was involved”.

In a statement he said he had carried out the attacks because he wanted to “save Norway and Western Europe from a Muslim takeover”.

He accused the Labour party of “mass imports of Muslims” and said the objective behind the terror plot was to give a “sharp signal to the people”.

The 32-year-old said his bombing of government buildings in Oslo and shooting spree at a summer camp on Utoya island for Labour’s youth wing was aimed at deterring future recruitment to the Labour party.

Friday’s tragedy started when Breivik set off a car bomb near government headquarters in Oslo.

Police have said the number of people killed in the blast has increased to eight, with a further 30 injured.

:: See more pictures from Friday’s attacks here

Ninety minutes later Breivik opened fire on hundreds of teenagers assembled for the youth camp on Utoya. The death toll for that massacre has now been revised down to 68.

The overall total for both attacks had previously been given as at least 93.

It is hoped that identification of the victims will be completed by Thursday.

Several others are said to still be missing and 50 officers are searching for evidence on Utoya.

Sniffer dogs are also being used to search wreckage from the bomb in Oslo.

Breivik has been charged with terrorism offences and will be remanded in custody for eight weeks, including spending the first four weeks in solitary confinement with no visitors, letters or access to media.

Judge Heger said it was important Breivik could not communicate with other people.

He also refused his request to wear a uniform in court. Breivik was dressed as a policeman when he carried out the shootings on Utoya, 20 miles (35km) from Oslo.

The prosecution said Breivik had behaved calmly and did not seem to be affected by events. They said he understood that he would spend the rest of his life behind bars.

His father has been reported as saying his son should have killed himself instead of surrendering to police.

The self-styled crusader had asked for an open hearing so he could explain his actions to the public…

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Srdja Trifkovic: The Oslo Connection

In his 1,500-page European Declaration of Independence mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik approvingly quotes me and several other authors who have written critically about Islam, including Bat Ye’or, Robert Spencer, Andrew Bostom and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The exploitation of the connection followed promptly. “Norwegian butcher a product of Islamophobia” was last Monday’s banner headline in the Zaman, Turkey’s leading pro-government daily. On Tuesday The New York Times published a major feature article (“Killings in Norway Spotlight Anti-Muslim Thought in U.S.”) which claimed that the mass killings in Norway have focused new attention “on the subculture of anti-Muslim bloggers and right-wing activists”:

In the United States, critics have asserted that the intense spotlight on the threat from Islamic militants has unfairly vilified Muslim Americans while dangerously playing down the threat of attacks from other domestic radicals… The revelations about Mr. Breivik’s American influences exploded on the blogs over the weekend, putting … self-described “counterjihad” activists on the defensive, as their critics suggested that their portrayal of Islam as a threat to the West indirectly fostered the crimes in Norway.

Almost a week after the event our thoughts are naturally with the victims and their families, but we cannot escape feeling shock and disgust with the efforts of mostly liberal journalists to make cheap political capital out of human sufferlng. The perpetrator of these crimes is an extreme case of a type all too familiar on the Internet, a young man cut off from both religious faith and community, so convinced of his own righteousness he is willing to hate people he has never met. Such people only occasionally act out their delusions, but when they do, the results can be catastrophic.

Many influences may impact a disturbed mind. Working in his Berlin study in the early 1800s Hegel could not have dreamt that — by unwittingly godfathering dialectical materialism based on a perverse misuse of his ideas — he would “contribute” to the violent death of tens of millions of victims of Marxist dictatorships in the ensuing century. As Tom Fleming has noted, in attributing responsibility to authors for crimes committed by readers, we have to make careful distinctions:

For example, when journalists like Marat and Hebert libeled important people and called for mob violence and terrorism against them, they should be held liable; but when a John Brown misreads the Bible to justify murder, it is not the fault of the Bible. It is in the nature of schizophrenics and psycopaths to find significance in everything, and it behooves a prudent writer to consider the consequences of his words. Nonetheless an honest writer tells the truth as he sees it. We have always deplored violence and hatred and opposed US attacks on Muslim countries and their civilian populations. However a sense of justice and Christian charity does not oblige us to cover up Islam’s history of violence against the West.

The Breivik atrocity is difficult to understand even on his own terms. If he really was motivated by a conscious concern of defending Norway’s European and Christian identity against the surging forces of Islamic immigration abetted by domestic collaborators, wouldn’t he have attacked a mosque, say, like the stereotypical skinhead thug firebombing an immigrant hostel in Rostock? Even if, in Breivik’s mind, Muslims are one with the “cultural Marxists/Left” who promote “multiculturalism” in Norway and the West generally, such that attacking the latter is effectively the same as attacking the former, one might even see why (assuming acceptance of his premises and methodology) he’d bomb Oslo’s government center (cf., the Oklahoma City bombing). But shooting dozens of Norwegian youths up close and personal requires a level of depraved depersonalization which is comparable to the Muslims who committed the Beslan massacre in 2003.

If Breivik’s intended purpose was to spark a militant European revival against Muslim immigration, his actions will go far to ensure the West instead adopts an even more utterly supine posture. He has hung a big red target on anyone warning against the Islamic danger and will further serve to discredit any criticism of Islam, starting with those named in his manifesto. Nor can we expect a kind of psychological jiu-jitsu of the sort capitalized on by such accredited victims as the gay rights movement and Islam, both of which turned what should have been a great moral vulnerabilities — respectively, AIDS and 9/11 — into powerful ideological weapons, namely “homophobia” and “Islamophobia.” Nothing comparable will occur here because anti-jihadists and defenders of European Christian culture cannot count on the good will or even honesty among the smart and beautiful classes, who will not ask “what are the grievances that influenced this nutcase?” but “who are the purveyors of dangerous views who caused Breivik to do what he did?” As the Turkish editorialist concludes…

           — Hat tip: Srdja Trifkovic[Return to headlines]

The Growth of Islamophobia

Can careless talk cost lives?

If denunciation of Islam is now acceptable, it is more important than ever to distinguish between robust debate and incitement to violence

But for better or worse, the word Islamophobia, implying an intense, potentially violent antipathy towards the Muslim faith and its followers, is now firmly in the world’s political vocabulary. That may be one of the consequences of the Norwegian horror. Hitherto the term has often been called into question, especially if used to outlaw any strong dissent from Islam as a creed. A phobia suggests a prejudice, an irrational fear or hatred. Surely, some say, it is possible to criticise a religion, by disagreeing with its tenets or even arguing that they could have bad social consequences, without being malicious.

On the other hand, for those who do want to demonise a social group or pick a fight, appeals to religious sentiment can-as every rabble-rouser knows-be an effective rhetorical device. People who have never darkened the door of a church can easily be persuaded that minarets on a skyline are a threat to everything they hold dear, to be resisted in every way.

Across Europe and America, the denunciation of Islam as such-as opposed to fundamentalist or radical readings of Islam-has gained respectability in the past few years, even as Muslim communities have grown in size and confidence.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The Likud Connection: Europe’s Right-Wing Populists Find Allies in Israel

By Charles Hawley

Islamophobic parties in Europe have established a tight network, stretching from Italy to Finland. But recently, they have extended their feelers to Israeli conservatives, enjoying a warm reception from members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition. Some in Israel believe that the populists are Europe’s future.

Anders Breivik’s 1,500-page manifesto is nothing if not thorough. Pages and pages of text outline in excruciating detail the ideological underpinnings of his worldview — one which led him to kill 76 people in two terrible attacks in Norway last week.

It is a document which has led many to question Breivik’s sanity. But it has also, due to its myriad citations and significant borrowing from several anti-immigration, Islamophobic blogs, highlighted the deeply entwined network of right-wing populist groups and parties across Europe — from the Front National in France to Vlaams Belang in Belgium to the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ).

But recently it has become clear that Europe’s populist parties aren’t merely content to establish a network on the Continent. They are also looking further east. And have begun establishing tight relations with several conservative politicians in Israel — first and foremost with Ayoob Kara, a parliamentarian with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party who is also deputy minister for development of the Negev and Galilee districts.

The reason for the growing focus on Israel is not difficult to divine. “On the one hand,” Strache told SPIEGEL ONLINE in a recent interview, “we are seeing great revolutions taking place in the Middle East. But one can’t be totally sure that other interests aren’t behind them and that, in the end, we might see Islamist theocracies surrounding Israel and in Europe’s backyard.”

In other words, in the battle against what right-wing populists see as the creeping Islamization of Europe, Israel is on the front line.

‘More Sensitive to the Dangers’

Many in Israel see it the same way. Eliezer Cohen, known in Israel by his nickname “Cheetah,” says that leftist parties in both Europe and Israel have lost their way. Cohen, a decorated Israeli air force colonel now in retirement, is a former member of the Knesset with Yisrael Beiteinu, the hardline nationalist party led by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman that currently governs together in a coalition with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party.

“Right-wing politicians in Europe are more sensitive to the dangers facing Israel,” Cohen, who gave a keynote address during Dutch right-wing leader Geert Wilders’ visit to Berlin last October, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. “They are talking the exact same language as Likud and others on the Israeli right. I’m too old for bullshitting — we hope the right wing wins out in Europe.”

Kara sounds no different. “I am looking for ways to lessen the Islamic influence in the world,” Kara told the Israeli daily Maariv in June. “I believe that is the true Nazism in this world. I am the partner of everyone who believes in the existence of this war.”

At first glance, the European populists’ relationship with Israel would hardly appear to be a marriage built on love. Many see the FPÖ as being just one tiny step away from classic neo-Nazi groups and the same holds true for their partners throughout Europe. While such parties insist that they are not anti-Semitic — Strache claims that he takes a close look at populist parties’ stances toward Israel and Jews before he enters into partnerships with them — it is not difficult to find indications of extreme, anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic vitriol from within the populist party membership rolls.

Andreas Mölzer, for example, a member of the European Parliament for the FPÖ who has recently changed his tune to defend Strache’s approaches to Israel, edits a weekly called Zur Zeit which is replete with attacks on Israel. Following its incursion into the Gaza Strip in late 2008, the paper accused Israel of acting in “the Talmudic spirit of annihilation” and that it was trying to “finally annihilate the open-air concentration camp of the Gaza Strip in the spirit of the Old Testament.”…

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

The Norway Massacre and Europe’s War on Free Speech

by Soren Kern

Media outlets in Europe and the United States are accusing Western critics of Islam and multiculturalism of complicity in the mass killing of more than 70 people in Norway. The attempt to exploit this crime for political gain is not just a case of malicious opportunism. It also represents the latest and most unsavoury salvo in the long-running war on free speech in Europe.

Anders Behring Breivik, a deranged Norwegian accused of bombing government buildings in Oslo and then killing scores of young people during a 90-minute shooting rampage on a nearby camping island called Utoya, published a 1,500-page manifesto in which he vents his anger at the direction in which mostly leftwing elites in Norway and elsewhere in Europe are leading his country and the continent as a whole.

As it turns out, parts of the manifesto include cut-and-pasted blog posts from European and American analysts and writers who for years have been educating the general public about the destructive effects of multiculturalism and runaway Muslim immigration. By dint of duplicitous logic, these analysts and writers are now the victims of a smear campaign: multiculturalists are accusing them of inciting Breivik to murder.

These same analysts have, of course, been a constant bane on an unaccountable European elite determined to foist its post-modern, post-nationalist and post-Christian multicultural agenda on a sceptical European citizenry.

Unwilling to countenance opposition, these self-appointed guardians of European political correctness have laboured to silence public discussion about issues such as the rise of Islam in Europe and/or the failure of millions of Muslim immigrants to integrate into European society.

The primary weapon in this war on free speech has been lawfare: the malicious use of European courts to criminalize criticism of Islam.

Prosecutions of so-called anti-Islam hate speech are now commonplace in Europe. Some of the more well-known efforts to silence debate about Islam in Europe have involved high-profile individuals like Geert Wilders, a Dutch politician, and Brigitte Bardot, a French animal rights activist.

Other recent assaults on free speech in Europe include the show trials of: Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, a housewife in Austria, Susanne Winter, a politician in Austria, Lars Hedegaard, a journalist in Denmark, Jesper Langballe, a politician in Denmark, Jussi Kristian Halla-aho, a politician in Finland, Michel Houellebecq, a novelist in France, Gregorius Nekschot, the pseudonym of a cartoonist in the Netherlands, and the late Oriana Fallaci, a journalist and author in Italy.

In other cases, physical violence has been the preferred method of silencing contrary views of Islam in Europe. In 2002, for example, Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn was assassinated for his views on Muslim immigration, and in 2004, Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was stabbed to death for producing a movie that criticized Islam. In 2010, Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard narrowly escaped being assassinated by an axe-wielding Muslim extremist in Aarhus, Denmark’s second-largest city.

Many theories attempt to explain the rise of multiculturalism in Europe. Among these is the idea that European elites, determined to prevent a repeat of the carnage of the Second World War, embraced multiculturalism as a tool to try to dilute or even eliminate the national ethnic, religious and or/cultural identities that contributed to centuries of violence in Europe.

But in recent years, the secular purveyors of European multiculturalism have moved far beyond their initial objective of creating an American-style “melting pot.” European socialists now view multiculturalism as a means to eliminate the entire Judeo-Christian worldview. This is certainly the case in Spain, where socialists have joined arms with Islam in a “Red-Green Alliance” to confront a common enemy, Christianity, as represented, in this case, by the Roman Catholic Church.

To be sure, decades of multiculturalism and Muslim immigration have already transformed Europe in ways unimaginable only a few decades ago. In Britain, for example, Muslims currently are campaigning to turn twelve British cities — including what they call “Londonistan” — into independent Islamic states. The so-called Islamic Emirates would function as autonomous enclaves ruled by Islamic Sharia law and operate entirely outside British jurisprudence. More than 80 Sharia courts are already operating in the country. At the same time, Mohammed is now the most common name for baby boys.

In France, large swaths of Muslim neighbourhoods are now considered “no-go” zones by French police. At last count, there are 751 Sensitive Urban Zones (Zones Urbaines Sensibles, ZUS), as they are euphemistically called. An estimated 5 million Muslims live in the ZUS, parts of France over which the French state has lost control.

In Germany, anti-Semitism (which is often disguised as anti-Zionism), has reached levels not seen since the Second World War. An April 2011 report, for example, found that 47.7% of Germans believe “Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians,” and nearly 50% of Germans believe “Jews try to take advantage of having been victims of the Nazi era.”

In Norway, large sections of Oslo are being turned into Muslim enclaves subject to Sharia law and to the dictates of local imams. The citizens of Oslo are also struggling to cope with an epidemic of rapes. According to recent statistics, 100% of aggravated sexual assaults which resulted in rapes over the past three years were carried out by Muslim immigrants. Norwegians are now trying to deal with the large-scale torching of automobiles, which, as in France, is being attributed to Muslim youth.

In a Wall Street Journal essay titled “Inside the Mind of the Oslo Murderer,” Bruce Bawer, an American analyst who lives in Oslo, writes: “Norway, like the rest of Europe, is in serious trouble. Millions of European Muslims live in rigidly patriarchal families in rapidly growing enclaves where women are second-class citizens, and where non-Muslims dare not venture. Surveys show that an unsettling percentage of Muslims in Europe reject Western values, despise the countries they live in, support the execution of homosexuals, and want to replace democracy with Sharia law. (According to a poll conducted by the Telegraph, 40% of British Muslims want Sharia implemented in predominantly Muslim parts of the United Kingdom.)”

Bawer describes Norway as a country that stands out for its refusal to confront any of the real dangers posed by Islamic radicalism. He also says the failure of mainstream political leaders to responsibly address the challenges posed by Muslim immigration has contributed to the emergence of extremists like Breivik. Pressure cookers without a safety valve eventually will explode.

Bawer writes: “In bombing those government buildings and hunting down those campers, Breivik was not taking out people randomly. He considered the Labour Party, Norway’s dominant party since World War II, responsible for policies that are leading to the Islamization of Europe — and thus guilty of treason. The Oslo bombing was intended to be an execution of the party’s current leaders. The massacre at the camp — where young would-be politicians gathered to hear speeches by Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and former Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland — was meant to destroy its next generation of leaders.”

The question remains: in the aftermath of the attack, will the Norwegian left rethink its non-interventionist approach to Islam and Muslim immigration? In a number of other European countries, governments on the center-right have been doing an about-face on multiculturalism.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have all declared in recent months that multiculturalism has failed. In June, the Dutch government announced it would abandon the long-standing model of multiculturalism that has encouraged Muslim immigrants to create a parallel society within the Netherlands. In Spain, the conservative Popular Party, which is widely expected to win the next general election, has promised to enact new measures that will require all immigrants to learn the Spanish language to obtain residency permits.

Some analysts say these measures are too little too late. But one thing seems clear: European multiculturalists are feeling some unfamiliar political heat. After decades of high-handed stifling of debate, the gradual unravelling of multiculturalism in Europe explains the obsessive zeal with which many are exploiting the Norwegian tragedy.

By falsely accusing conservatives of complicity in a crime in which they had no part, multiculturalists are seeking to delegitimize and silence criticism of their social re-engineering scheme. But they are unlikely to succeed as the consequences of their worldview are becoming clear for all to see.

[Note: links are embedded at the original article.]

[Return to headlines]

UK: Breivik and the Right

by Douglas Murray

Anders Behring Breivik believed himself a Knight Templar and awarded himself various military ranks accordingly. He also believed that he and other self-described racists had common cause with jihadis and that the USA has a Jewish problem. So even before he planted a car bomb in a civilian area and gunned down scores of young people, it would have been clear to anyone who bothered to question him that Breivik was insane.

But in the coverage since his atrocities first broke on to the world, two troubling tendencies have converged. The first is the search for reason in a mind that was clearly a stranger to it. The second is the tendency — particularly strong on the left — to use any horrific act as a megaphone for existing prejudices. In the aftermath of the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford in January, the left-wing media and politicians hunted for the right-wingers who they claimed had inspired the attack. That the gunman was not only a loner but a psychotic maniac was largely ignored as they rushed off excitedly to attack their ideological enemies. And so it is with Breivik.

For the past decade and more, every time an Islamist has blown something up, a chorus of voices — mainly from the left — has rightly said that ‘we shouldn’t jump to any conclusions’. But this time it was different. The Labour MP Tom Harris observed, with great frankness, that a ‘palpable relief that swept through the left when the identity of the terrorist was made known… Here, thank God, was a terrorist we can all hate without equivocation: white, Christian and far right-wing. Phew.’ So never mind not jumping to conclusions. When it seemed to emerge that, among many other things, the killer also claimed to be opposed to immigration and was fearful of Islam, that jump became a great leap towards group blame.

Within two days of the attacks, the New York Times insisted a ‘new attention’ would need to be focused on ‘the subculture of anti-Muslim bloggers and right-wing activists.’ Not ‘far-right activists’, or psychotic right-wing extremists, just ‘right-wing activists.’ A leading left-wing British blogger decided that the real story of the Norway tragedy was that in his bizarre online manifesto, Breivik had quoted from articles by Melanie Phillips in the Daily Mail and Jeremy Clarkson in the Sunday Times. As with the Giffords aftermath, it was insinuated (and more) that conservative columnists are not merely people the left disagree with, but active facilitators of murder.

Others attempted to draw a line from recent criticisms of multiculturalism voiced by Angela Merkel, Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron to the massacre of dozens of young Norwegians. Some, including the Independent, swiftly turned what spotlights they have on Geert Wilders and right-wing, anti-immigration parties in Scandinavia. Ken Livingstone’s former right-hand man, Lee Jasper, took the opportunity to claim that Breivik and Mayor Boris Johnson were eminently confusable. While Jasper was working for the old mayor, Livingstone had of course invited Yusuf al-Qaradawi (advocate of suicide-bombing and apocalyptic sectarian warfare) to London and given him the red-carpet treatment. But nothing to see there. Please move along and instead gawp with horror at this awful fact: Boris has the same hair colour as a murderer and he’s also a Conservative!

The agendas as well as the hypocrisy are rank. Not least because the left are disobeying their own rules. In recent years, voices who have spoken out against Islamist extremism have constantly been berated not to ‘essentialise’ Muslims. I agree. It is idiotic and improper to lump any large and disparate group of people together. It is why so many caveats, so many ‘ists’, ‘isms’ and ‘aren’ts’ are included in any article about Islamist extremism (there I go). But surely it should work in every direction?

Just as it is wrong to lump all Muslims into a single homogenous block, is it not also wrong to group all white-working-class people together? Or conjoin all people worried about immigration or preserving their culture and label them: ‘racist’ or ‘extremist’? If essentialising is wrong one way then surely it should be wrong any way. But there is no quid pro quo.

It is the same with ‘root causes’. Every time an Islamist explodes a bomb, we’re told by the left that we must ‘address the root causes’ behind the attack. By root causes they always mean whatever their particular political bugbear is, usually western foreign policy. Why no calls to address any root causes this time? And so the moral equivalence that swiftly becomes moral blindness grows.

Some comparisons between Islamist extremists and Breivik are useful. They are certainly similar types of sicko (a fact I hope he comes to realise one day). But there are also salient differences. At least one must be that, in the wake of Breivik’s atrocity, not a single Christian leader, right-wing journalist or right-wing politician (including those cited by him) expressed anything other than condemnation and revulsion for his actions. No ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’. No ‘important to understand the wider context’ or ‘driven to despair’ nonsense. Just horror. Unlike the suicide bombers who gets shrines and public squares named after them, Breivik (like the Brick Lane/Soho bomber) will only be memorialised among a sick and covert coterie of extremist loners who, though undoubtedly dangerous, speak for no one.

The unanimity of the reaction to Norway matters. But so does the nature of our response. Norway’s Prime Minister was right when he said that the response to this atrocity should be ‘more democracy, more openness, and more humanity’. Within that should be a careful effort not to give up the principles which some are now putting up for grabs. As people trawl the online activities of the Oslo killer looking for answers they will turn up the usual contradictions and obscenities of the terrorist mind. They may also stumble on opinions which are not by nature extremist and not always without foundation just because a sick and deranged man thought them right.

There will remain ample and decent reasons for Europeans, including Norwegians, to be worried about the future of their countries, and good and honourable reasons to express concern about mass immigration and problems that can result from it. There are, it goes without saying, ways to discuss this. But in recent years that discussion has not always been as open as it should have been. Policies have not been explained to people and conspiracies have all too often sprung up where frank public discussion and a suitable measured political response could have cut them off at source.

Conversation on vital topics was driven underground — and not only among the disenfranchised. I have lost count of the number of times that politicians of all parties have told me something only to say that of course they could never say any such thing in public. Such censorship, including self-censorship, hugely benefits extremists. Subterranean conversations are what people like Breivik thrive on, with their claims to membership of nonexistent mystical orders and their love-hate affairs with imaginary world conspiracies.

Most of what is said in open debate is not to everybody’s taste. But, as John Stuart Mill argued in On Liberty, we must hear contrary opinions. Firstly, because what is otherwise kept from us may be true, or contain a portion of truth, and secondly because if our opinions go unchallenged then truth risks getting divorced from its rational roots and eventually becoming a dogma too feeble to sustain.

As a result of the discussion that right- and left-wing writers and politicians have initiated in recent years, a number of serious errors in our society have been rectified and a number of important principles reiterated. This is a direct result of that freedom. One of the last things Breivik did before going on his killing spree was to appear on Twitter with a quote from Mill. The least of Breivik’s crimes that day was that he showed he didn’t understand Mill any more than he understood anyone else he quoted. To date, all Breivik will be remembered for is that in a few horrific hours he managed to rob so many people of the only thing truly worth anything — human life. It would be more than such a man should ever have accomplished if he now deprives us all of the conversation free societies must have if they are to remain free

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Christmas Comes to London in July as Stores Cash in on ‘Ramadan Rush’

A “Ramadan rush” was held responsible today for the earliest start to Christmas in London’s leading department stores.

Both Selfridges and Harrods launched their Christmas shops in July for the first time — a full 149 days before the big day. Selfridges said many tourists from the Middle East had asked to buy Christmas decorations before going home for the Muslim month of fasting, starting on Monday. Although Christmas is not officially celebrated by Muslims, many decorate their homes. “There are also lots of British visitors in London who want to do a bit of Christmas shopping,” said a Selfridges spokeswoman. “I’m sure there will come a time when it will be open all year round.”

Last year Selfridges’ Christmas shop opened on August 8 and recorded double sales in its first week, with 2,000 baubles sold. This year the theme is “white” — and white Christmas trees are expected to rival traditional green for the first time. Harrods, meanwhile, built a pop-up ice rink on its roof, eight floors above Knightsbridge, to film an internet video marking the launch of its Christmas World department. The rink measures 11x13 metres, is only 18mm thick and made from plastic injected with silicon. It will not be open to the public, but the Standard was given a special glimpse, and a Father Christmas skating about in midsummer made for a surreal experience. Christmas World customers were offered festive-themed ice creams today — flavours included Brussels sprouts, mince pies and mulled wine. Doubtless, the more organised shoppers among us will relish the extra time to find that perfect gift.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: I’m Starting to Think That the Left Might Actually be Right

by Charles Moore

What with the the phone-hacking scandal, the eurozone crisis and the US economic woes, the greedy few have left people disillusioned with our debased democracies.

It has taken me more than 30 years as a journalist to ask myself this question, but this week I find that I must: is the Left right after all? You see, one of the great arguments of the Left is that what the Right calls “the free market” is actually a set-up. The rich run a global system that allows them to accumulate capital and pay the lowest possible price for labour. The freedom that results applies only to them. The many simply have to work harder, in conditions that grow ever more insecure, to enrich the few. Democratic politics, which purports to enrich the many, is actually in the pocket of those bankers, media barons and other moguls who run and own everything.

In the 1970s and 1980s, it was easy to refute this line of reasoning because it was obvious, particularly in Britain, that it was the trade unions that were holding people back. Bad jobs were protected and good ones could not be created. “Industrial action” did not mean producing goods and services that people wanted to buy, it meant going on strike. The most visible form of worker oppression was picketing. The most important thing about Arthur Scargill’s disastrous miners’ strike was that he always refused to hold a ballot on it.

A key symptom of popular disillusionment with the Left was the moment, in the late 1970s, when the circulation of Rupert Murdoch’s Thatcher-supporting Sun overtook that of the ever-Labour Daily Mirror. Working people wanted to throw off the chains that Karl Marx had claimed were shackling them — and join the bourgeoisie which he hated. Their analysis of their situation was essentially correct. The increasing prosperity and freedom of the ensuing 20 years proved them right.

But as we have surveyed the Murdoch scandal of the past fortnight, few could deny that it has revealed how an international company has bullied and bought its way to control of party leaderships, police forces and regulatory processes. David Cameron, escaping skilfully from the tight corner into which he had got himself, admitted as much. Mr Murdoch himself, like a tired old Godfather, told the House of Commons media committee on Tuesday that he was so often courted by prime ministers that he wished they would leave him alone.

The Left was right that the power of Rupert Murdoch had become an anti-social force. The Right (in which, for these purposes, one must include the New Labour of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown) was too slow to see this, partly because it confused populism and democracy. One of Mr Murdoch’s biggest arguments for getting what he wanted in the expansion of his multi-media empire was the backing of “our readers”. But the News of the World and the Sun went out of the way in recent years to give their readers far too little information to form political judgments. His papers were tools for his power, not for that of his readers. When they learnt at last the methods by which the News of the World operated, they withdrew their support.

It has surprised me to read fellow defenders of the free press saying how sad they are that the News of the World closed. In its stupidity, narrowness and cruelty, and in its methods, the paper was a disgrace to the free press. No one should ever have banned it, of course, but nor should anyone mourn its passing. It is rather as if supporters of parliamentary democracy were to lament the collapse of the BNP. It was a great day for newspapers when, 25 years ago, Mr Murdoch beat the print unions at Wapping, but much of what he chose to print on those presses has been a great disappointment to those of us who believe in free markets because they emancipate people. The Right has done itself harm by covering up for so much brutality.

The credit crunch has exposed a similar process of how emancipation can be hijacked. The greater freedom to borrow which began in the 1980s was good for most people. A society in which credit is very restricted is one in which new people cannot rise. How many small businesses could start or first homes be bought without a loan? But when loans become the means by which millions finance mere consumption, that is different.

And when the banks that look after our money take it away, lose it and then, because of government guarantee, are not punished themselves, something much worse happens. It turns out — as the Left always claims — that a system purporting to advance the many has been perverted in order to enrich the few. The global banking system is an adventure playground for the participants, complete with spongy, health-and-safety approved flooring so that they bounce when they fall off. The role of the rest of us is simply to pay.

This column’s mantra about the credit crunch is that Everything Is Different Now. One thing that is different is that people in general have lost faith in the free-market, Western, democratic order. They have not yet, thank God, transferred their faith, as they did in the 1930s, to totalitarianism. They merely feel gloomy and suspicious. But they ask the simple question, “What’s in it for me?”, and they do not hear a good answer.

Last week, I happened to be in America, mainly in the company of intelligent conservatives. Their critique of President Obama’s astonishing spending and record-breaking deficits seemed right. But I was struck by how the optimistic message of the Reagan era has now become a shrill one. On Fox News (another Murdoch property, and one which, while I was there, did not breathe a word of his difficulties), Republicans lined up for hours to threaten to wreck the President’s attempt to raise the debt ceiling. They seemed to take for granted the underlying robustness of their country’s economic and political arrangements. This is a mistake. The greatest capitalist country in history is now dependent on other people’s capital to survive. In such circumstances, Western democracy starts to feel like a threatened luxury. We can wave banners about “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, but they tend to say, in smaller print, “Made in China”.

As for the plight of the eurozone, this could have been designed by a Left-wing propagandist as a satire of how money-power works. A single currency is created. A single bank controls it. No democratic institution with any authority watches over it, and when the zone’s borrowings run into trouble, elected governments must submit to almost any indignity rather than let bankers get hurt. What about the workers? They must lose their jobs in Porto and Piraeus and Punchestown and Poggibonsi so that bankers in Frankfurt and bureaucrats in Brussels may sleep easily in their beds.

When we look at the Arab Spring, we tend complacently to tell ourselves that the people on the streets all want the freedom we have got. Well, our situation is certainly better than theirs. But I doubt if Western leadership looks to a protester in Tahrir Square as it did to someone knocking down the Berlin Wall in 1989. We are bust — both actually and morally.

One must always pray that conservatism will be saved, as has so often been the case in the past, by the stupidity of the Left. The Left’s blind faith in the state makes its remedies worse than useless. But the first step is to realise how much ground we have lost, and that there may not be much time left to make it up.

[JP note: The left is seldom right.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Probe Into Secretive Sharia Law Courts Scrapped as Muslim Leaders Close Ranks

Ministers have abandoned an inquiry into the rise of secretive Sharia councils that deal in Islamic justice — because the Muslim courts refused to help.

The failure of the Ministry of Justice probe has generated new fears among politicians and pressure groups about the increasing influence of Sharia courts.

They are worried the courts’ decisions may run against the law of the land, particularly in divorce settlements for women.

The scrapping of the inquiry comes in a week when Islamic extremists have launched a campaign to declare ‘Sharia-controlled zones’ across Britain.

Hate preacher Anjem Choudary has claimed responsibility for the scheme, which has so far seen posters put on lampposts in several London boroughs declaring that within the ‘zones’ there should be ‘no gambling’, ‘no music or concerts’, ‘no porn or prostitution’, ‘no drugs or smoking’ and ‘no alcohol’.

The Daily Mail has previously published photographs of Choudary in his student days breaking all but one of the zone laws — holding a cannabis joint, downing a pint of cider, playing cards and leering at porn.

But the abandonment of the Government’s Sharia inquiry has fuelled fears that such radicals will be able to continue their intimidating activities unchecked.

The Ministry of Justice had launched an inquiry into the operation of Sharia courts in Britain because of rising fears that the secretive system has undue influence.

The number of Sharia courts here is unknown, although an estimate of 85 made by the Civitas think-tank in 2009 is widely accepted.

The failure of the Government’s investigation was disclosed to MPs by Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly.

He told Tory backbencher Kris Hopkins that before last year’s general election his department acted to ‘commission an exploratory study of Sharia councils in England with respect to family law’.

Mr Djanogly said: ‘This identified a number of challenges to undertaking robust research in this area. The study was therefore limited and adds little to the evidence base.

‘The findings cannot be regarded as a representative assessment of the operation of Sharia councils. Following expert peer review of the draft report, the Ministry of Justice decided not to publish the findings.’

A further statement to the Mail made it clear the ‘challenges’ researchers experienced boiled down to the Sharia courts failing to co-operate.

The Ministry of Justice said: ‘The report was essentially an exploratory study which identified a number of challenges to undertaking more robust research.

‘The challenges to undertaking more robust research were that the councils are generally run on a volunteer basis, were short staffed and very busy, so there were practical difficulties in speaking with respondents.

‘There was also reluctance to discuss the private work of the councils and respondents were wary of the stereotypical ways in which their organisations were represented in the media.’

Sharia law is also under scrutiny in the Lords, where the independent peer Baroness Cox has tabled a Bill seeking to make it a crime for anyone to take over the rights of the state’s criminal or family courts.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]


Europe’s Achilles’ Heel: Historical EU Error to Blame for Kosovo Strife

The battlefields of the Balkans war are still littered with mines, and the conflict between the Serbs and the Kosovars could explode again at any moment. An historical error by the European Union is at least partly to blame.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algeria: Man Blows Himself Up to Avoid Arrest

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, JULY 27 — A terrorist who seemed to be about 30 years old blew himself up in the centre of the city of Bouhamza, after municipal guards had intercepted him and surrounded him yesterday afternoon, as El Watan reported on its site today. Municipal guards had been alerted to the presence in the city of an armed man who was moving about in a suspicious manner after having gone to the mosque to pray. The terrorist was identified at the exit to a grocery shop where he had bought a large amount of food, most likely for the other men in his group. When he saw all exit ways cut off, the man set up the explosives belt which he was wearing and which tore him to pieces. The explosion did not result in any other casualties since the police had sealed off the area. Substantial security measures have been deployed in Bouhamza due to the possibility that other elements of the terrorist cell might still be around.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Tens of Thousands in Tahrir, Islamists Take Lead

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, JULY 29 — Tens of thousands of protestors have gathered in Tahrir Square for the Friday prayer and sermon before the beginning of Ramadan. Called a few weeks ago by the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist movements, today’s demonstration — following fast-paced talks with secular political groups which since July 8 have been conducting a sit-in in the square which became a symbol of the anti-Mubarak revolt — has become the Friday of Unity. Taking part are about fifteen secular political groups and even Coptic Christians, but the largest presence is that of Islamist movements.

This is clear from the slogans and banners in the square. In the centre there is an immense Egyptian flag with green letters spelling out “There is no god but Allah, and Mohamed is His prophet”. “Islam, Islam, we do not want a liberal state”, “The people wants Sharia law”, and “Islamic, neither western nor eastern” are some of the slogans chanted in the square. There are also those with political demands, with the top one being for the sentencing of former president Hosni Mubarak, even though the trial is scheduled to take place in Cairo on Wednesday. There are, however, also slogans supporting the Armed Force Supreme Council, which had been contested in previous protests.

Overall, the Islamic movements and the Muslim Brotherhood back the military council and its choice to call the elections in a few months, in contrast with many revolutionary political parties and secular ones who have requested more time in order to carry out true election campaigns.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Tens of Thousands of People in Tahrir Square to Protect Egypt’s Arab and Islamic Identity

Organised by Muslim parties, the peaceful protests included secular groups and Copts. Similar demonstrations are held in Alexandria and Suez. The power of the Muslim Brotherhood is growing; the group could use Ramadan for electoral purposes.

Cairo (AsiaNews) — Tens of thousands of protesters gathered today in Egypt’s main cities of Cairo, Alexandria and Suez to call on the army to press ahead with economic reforms and speed up the trials of Hosni Mubarak and other leaders of the former regime. They also called for the preservation of the country’s “Arab and Islamic identity.” Although organised by Islamic parties, including the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis, the rally saw the participation of Copts and members of the secular movements that took part in the Jasmine Revolution.

Fr Rafik Greiche, spokesman of the Egyptian Catholic Church, told AsiaNews that the protests were peaceful without any clashes. Without the strong presence of secular groups, such a rally could have appeared very one-sided. However, “amidst Egyptian flags with banners hailing the Qur’an, there were thousands of young people shouting slogans in favour of secularism and the country’s unity.

According to the clergyman, it is hard to know what will follow. In his view, the risk is great that radical Muslim groups may take over and kill the country’s dream for religious freedom and the separation of state and religion.

In fact, it is likely that the Muslim Brotherhood will take advantage of Muslims’ obligation to share during Ramadan to press their agenda among poor and uneducated voters ahead of next November elections.

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

ENI Said Libyan Civil War Prompted it to Cut Production Targets

Rome, 29 July (AKI/Bloomberg) — Italy’s largest energy producer, cut its full-year production targets and said second- quarter profit missed analyst estimates because of the ongoing halt to Libyan oil output.

Adjusted net income declined 14 percent to 1.44 billion euros from 1.67 billion euros a year earlier, the Rome-based company said today in a statement. That was below the 1.6 billion-euro average estimate in a Bloomberg survey of 16 analysts. Output in the second-quarter declined 15 percent to 1.49 million barrels of oil equivalent a day.

The main factor hurting results “was the disruption in supply of oil and gas from Libya which affected all our business activities,” chief executive officer Paolo Scaroni said in the statement. “Gas and power results also suffered from the high supply costs of natural gas.”

The ongoing halt to Libyan oil production caused by the conflict between Muammar Gaddafi and rebel forces is damaging oil and gas producers that had been active in the region. France’s Total said the Libyan freeze contributed to a 6 percent slump in its quarterly profit.

“The second-quarter results may lead us to trim our full- year estimates,” Equita Sim analyst Domenico Ghilotti wrote in a note to investors following Eni’s statement

Eni’s production from Libya has fallen to around 50,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day from 280,000 barrels due to the conflict in Libya.

The full-year production target will be below the 1.82 million barrels of oil equivalent produced in 2010, based on a price of 115 dollars a barrel, the company said today. In February Eni had forecast an increase in production. Some of the lost Libyan production will be compensated by ramping up existing fields and starting new fields in the US, Australia, Egypt, Italy and Algeria, the company said.

Scaroni said he continues to see “solid full-year results” which allow the company to propose an interim dividend of 52 euro cents per share.

The positive performance of Eni’s Exploration and Production division, which posted a 17 percent increase in quarterly profit, was offset by the 54 percent slump in quarterly profit at the Gas and Power Division and 79 million euros of losses at the Refining and Marketing division.

The gas division results were hurt by increased competition and costly gas procurement contracts which are still being renegotiated, the company said. Eni predicted continuing weakness in the European gas market in the months to come. The company also said refining margins were expected to remain unprofitable due to low demand and excess capacity.

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

Last Libyan Mission for Norway’s F16s to Fly Tomorrow

(AGI) Oslo — Norway will end its participation in the NATO air mission against the Libyan regime of Col Gaddafi, two days early. The last fighter missions will be flown tomorrow. The decision to withdraw its aircraft by 1 August was taken last month, when the country’s contribution was reduced from six F-16s to four. On that occasion, the Norwegian government explained that the reduced size of its air force made it impossible to sustain such a military effort over an extended period.

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

Libya: Rebel Leader ‘Arrested’ And Then Killed

Tripoli, 29 July (AKI) — The Libya rebels’ chief of staff Abdul Fatah Younis was killed on Thursday along with two other commanders as they returned from the civil war’s eastern front.

The president of the Transitional National Council (TNC), represents the rebel movement, in a short announcement lacking many details said people loyal to Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi had infiltrated rebel-controlled areas, though they were not directly blamed for the attack. No questions from reporters were taken.

Younis was arrested by rebels at their operations room near the eastern front along with a pair of aides Thursday, the Associated Press newswire reported, citing a rebel spokesman.

Mustafa Abdul Jalil, president of the TNC, said Younis had been summoned by a rebel judicial committee to “discuss military matters” and was assassinated while en route to Benghazi.

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

Israel and the Palestinians

Gaza: Vandalism of UNRWA Summer Camp for Children

(ANSAmed) — GAZA, JULY 28 — Last night in the northern part of the Gaza Strip about a dozen masked vandals attacked and damaged a UNRWA (the UN agency for Palestinian refugees) base where preparations were underway to organise summer camps for children from Gaza. This was reported by a UNRWA spokesperson, who said that the vandals had destroyed a display cabinet, a UN flag and other material. No UN security guards for the camp were injured. Preparations had been completed in the camp for the holding of a competition in which thousands of children will seek to set a world record by sending into the sky thousands of kites at the same time. UNRWA said that the attempt would be held today as planned. It is not the first time that UNRWA facilities in Gaza have been targeted by radical Islamic groups who accuse the UN agency of holding mixed-gender summer camps and of teaching Western cultural values and not Islamic ones.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians: Crazed Dinner Party Politics

by Melanie Phillips

Consider the following scenario. A church newspaper has a Jewish political editor. He reports in his paper on a troubling development. Certain churches support a voluntary body upon whose board sits a man with connections to groups that have declared their intention to wipe every Christian off the face of the earth. For his pains, the journalist is then ticked off by prominent Christians who support this body and complain he’s got it all wrong — simply because he is not a member of their faith which they say means his reporting was skewed.

Would that not be vile? Would it not suggest a degree of prejudice, not to mention sheer irrationality, that would be hard to credit? Yet switch the religious affiliations around and this is what happened to Martin Bright, the political editor of this newspaper. He had reported that a board member of a community organisation called London Citizens, which was supported by certain synagogues, was a man who had expressed support for Hamas and also had close links to other Islamic extremists.

Bright was then profoundly shocked when left-wing members of the Jewish community told him at a dinner that his reporting might have been better if he had been “more involved in the community” — code for the fact that Bright is not a Jew. Any rational person would think Jews would be deeply concerned to discover that the community was supporting someone who was in league with the genocidal fanatics of Hamas. But that’s to reckon without the wilful moral blindness of the left. For Jews who parade their left-wing consciences are preoccupied with “Islamophobia”, which they equate with anti-Jewish bigotry. But the two are not at all equal.

Hatred of Jews is a baseless prejudice based on lies and fantasies. While some people of course have a baseless and hateful prejudice against Muslims, most of what is labelled “Islamophobia” is instead an all-too-rational concern about Islamist extremists. But many Jews on the left refuse to make this distinction. For them, all minorities are sacrosanct. So criticism of Islamic extremism, Muslim hatred of Jews or the encroachment of sharia law is “Islamophobic”. Bright says he is baffled that people who consider themselves on the left of the Jewish community are thus making common cause with people on the extreme right of Islamic politics.

Even more astonishing, his fellow diners were saying in effect that the reason Martin saw such extremists as a threat was because he was not Jewish. So it follows that the reason they themselves turn a blind eye to that threat is because they are. And so they put themselves as Jews on the side of people promoting the destruction of Israel, the murder of Jews and the violence meted out to Muslim women or the threats to the lives of gays or apostates. The reason, however, is surely the very point that has baffled Bright — that his fellow-diners were on the left, just like him.

I have had my political differences with Martin Bright over the years. But he is a fine and principled journalist — and he recognises fascism, including religious fascism, when he sees it. Which is why he exposes both Islamists who want to destroy our way of life and the useful idiots whom they manipulate. The left, however, believe they are the sole repository of virtue. All who do not share their views are — in this Manichean formulation — evil and right-wing. Bright believes in telling truth to power, however inconvenient it may be. But that means exposing Islamic extremism in the heart of a left-wing project. And that is “Islamophobic”. But Bright cannot be demonised as right-wing because he is a man of the left. So these Jews reached for the only other way of neutralising him. They said in effect: “You are wrong because you are not one of us”.

Which, for people who stake their reputations on the need to “reach out to the Other”, is as ironic as it is repellent. There is now a terrifying eruption of hysterical irrationality and malice on the left. It was illustrated this week when, in the wake of the appalling Norwegian atrocity, the left seized upon the ravings of a psychopath to assert that those in the resistance to Islamic fascism were guilty of inspiring the deranged murder of scores of innocents. The attack on Bright pre-dated this particular eruption of the malevolent flight from reason -but its roots are the same.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

U.S. Accuses Iran of Striking Deal With Al-Qaeda

The Obama administration said Thursday that Iran is helping al-Qaeda funnel cash and recruits into Pakistan for its international operations, the most serious U.S. allegation to date of Iranian aid to the terrorist group. Documents filed by the Treasury Department accuse Iran of facilitating an al-Qaeda-run support network that transfers large amounts of cash from Middle East donors to al-Qaeda’s top leadership in Pakistan’s tribal region. A Syrian national who directs the network has been allowed to operate in Iran since 2005, and senior Iranian officials know about money transfers and allow the movement of al-Qaeda foot soldiers through its territory, administration officials said. Although U.S. officials have repeatedly accused Iran of assisting al-Qaeda, links between the two have been difficult to prove. Al-Qaeda regards the Shiite denomination, the dominant branch of Islam in Iran, as heretical, and Iran has sought at times to crack down on the terrorist group, deporting some operatives and holding others under house arrest.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Breivik ‘Underwent Paramilitary Training in Belarus’

Norway’s twin terror suspect Anders Behring Breivik trained at a secret paramilitary field camp in Belarus earlier this year, a Belarusian opposition politician said on Thursday, citing security sources. “Breivik visited Belarus several times. This spring, as part of his preparations for his twin attacks, he visited Minsk, where he underwent training at a secret paramilitary field camp,” Mikhail Reshetnikov, the head of the opposition Belarusian Party of Patriots, told the online newspaper.

He cited sources within Belarus’s “security organs.” Breivik, 32, has admitted to carrying out a bombing in Oslo, which killed eight, and a mass shooting at a Labor Party youth camp on the nearby island of Utoya, which left 68 dead. He has not accepted criminal responsibility, however, saying his actions were “atrocious but necessary” measures intended to “save Norway and Western Europe” from a “Muslim takeover.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

India: Hindu Radical Kills Christian Who Had Testified in Court in a Kandhamal Pogrom-Related Case

Michael Digal testified in court in a case connected with the 2008 anti-Christian violence. After purging his sentence, a fundamentalist enticed the victim into a trap and killed him. The Global Council of India Christians calls on the authorities to protect pogrom witnesses.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) — Michael Digal was killed for revenge. The Christian leader and activist testified against Hindu radicals after the Kandhamal pogroms, this according to investigators who are probing his death. Initially, state police had ruled his death accidental before the autopsy report was completed. The decomposing body of the 43-year-old man was found on Wednesday near Baliguda Block, Kandhamal District (Orissa), three days after he went missing, near Mdikia (see “Christian leaded found dead in Kandhamal, Sajan George accuses Hindu radicals,” in AsiaNews, 28 July 2011). It was later moved to the government hospital in Baliguda, where a post-mortem was conducted yesterday.

According to his relatives, Michael was called from home on a pretext three days before his body was found, and was not seen alive after that. The investigation, conducted with the help of a team from the Global Council of India Christians (GCIC), describes a different scenario than an accident.

Michael Digal, a Christian leader in the Bataguda area, had testified in court in a case related to the 2008 anti-Christian pogroms in Kandhamal District. The man charged with the offence was convicted and sentenced. Once out of prison, he slowly befriended Michael. Last Sunday, this “friend” asked Michael to accompany him in bicycle from Baliguda to Bataguda. Once in the forest, far from prying eyes, the false friend stabbed Michael to death.

“Michael Digal testified in court about a case related to communal violence against Christians. He was brutally murdered by a radical in Mdikia, Baliguda block. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) calls on the chief justice of Orissa and the high court to instruct the Orissa government to extent witness protection to the Christians who testified against people involved in communal violence in Kandhamal. The GCIC also urges the state government to monitor the activities of Manoj Pradhan and his coteries in Kandhamal,” GCIC president Sajan K George told AsiaNews.

Manoj Pradhan is an Orissa politician involved in two murder cases in connection with the Kandhamal pogrom. Thirty-eight people were killed during the violence and 25,000 tribal Christians were forced to flee their homes (see “Orissa: violence and destruction against Christians accused of killing radical Hindu leader,” in AsiaNews, 25 August 2008).

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


Italy: Residence Permit Like Driving Licence

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JULY 28 — A two year training course to learn the Italian language and institutions, with a final ‘exam’ at the end of which one either gains a residence permit or is expelled. This is the sense of the ‘Integration agreement between the State and foreigners’, introduced as a regulation implementing one of the security packages (law 94 of 2009) that was approved today by the Cabinet.

The recipients of the Agreement, which has a two year duration, are all foreigners above the age of 16 who enter Italy for the first time and ask for a residence permit lasting more than one year. Those not included are the victims of human trafficking, violence or exploitation.

Interior minister Roberto Maroni explained that by accepting the agreement foreign citizens undertake to carry out certain activities such as to gain basic knowledge of the Italian spoken language and of Italy’s public institutions and civil lifestyle.

Foreigners must also abide by the principles of the Charter of values instituted with decree of the Ministry of the Interior in 2007. Maroni stated that “The government supports all the burdens of this real process of integration”: that is why foreigners must participate in a number of activities acknowledged through a credit system.

Sixteen credits are granted at first, and these may be increased by gaining other skills or through certain activities (professional training courses, certificated of education, registering with the national health system, drawing up a rent contract or purchasing real estate, volunteer work).

But credits may also be taken away: “for example if the foreign person is sentenced in a criminal court, even if the sentence is not final, if he is subjected to personal security measures or if he commits major unlawful administrative or tax acts”.

A check is carried out one month ahead of the end of the two year period: if 30 credits are gained the course is complete and a residency permit is granted. If credits range from 16 to 30, there is a ‘fail’, and the agreement is extended by another year to give the person the chance to achieve 30 credits. And if credits are equal to or less than zero, the State terminates the agreement and the foreigner is expelled.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Sweden: Minister Touts New Law on Board Gender Quotas

Sweden’s minster for gender equality, Nyamko Sabuni, has called for legislation to help boost the number of women who serve on the boards of local government-operated companies. According to the Sabuni, the there are too few women serving on the boards of companies operated by Sweden’s 290 municipalities “They should lead by example,” Sabuni told the Aftonbladet newspaper, adding that the gender balance is better among Sweden’s state-owned company boards. “The state has done its homework, but the representation of women in local government company boards looks very bad and has not changed much in recent years.” Sabuni, a member of the Liberal Party (Folkpartiet), explained that the government would like to see a at least a 60-40 gender balance and local government-operated companies are not making the grade. In order to address the matter, Sabuni, plans to push for legislation that will enforce gender quotas in municipal-run companies.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]