Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110917

Financial Crisis
»Greece: Mass Public Administration Resignations
»Italy: Problems Remain Despite Austerity
»Netherlands: A New Economic Crisis is a Real Possibility and Everyone Will Have to Help Pay the Bill, Is the Central Message in the Government’s 2012 Spending Plans.
»President Obama to Seek Higher Tax Rate on Millionaires
»Another Baby-Step for Sharia in America
»Islamic Dogophobia and Our Canine Heroes
»Muslim Groups Press FBI, DOJ on Anti-Islamic Training
»Reno Crash Killed 9; Probe Focuses on Wayward Part
»Don’t Airbrush Islamist Threat
»OIC Raps Canadian PM’s Anti-Islam Tirade
Europe and the EU
»‘All Dogs Allowed!’ Italian Proposal Would Forbid Housing Restrictions on Pets
»Croatia: EU: Accession Treaty Signed in Dec. After Elections
»Finnish State Police Investigating Two Foreigners for Links to Terrorism
»France: New Law Required to Curb Rising Faith Demands in French Firms: Report
»Italy: One in Two Spot Checks on Receipts in Rome Leads to Fines
»Italy: Police Uncover Mafia Designer Clothing Scam
»Italy: Milanese ‘The Coolest Dressers in Europe’
»Italy: World-Famous Mountaineer Walter Bonatti Dies at 81
»Italy: Parents: 57 and 70: Stripped of Child
»Italy: Anti-Lega Nord Protesters Clash With Police in Venice
»Litre Jug Exceeds 9 Euro Germany’s Oktoberfest
»Muslims Defy Outdoor Prayer Ban in France
»Netherlands: Rotterdam Gaining Ground
»Oceana: 3.3 bn in EU Fishing Subsidies in 2009, Spain Leads
»Spain: Stolen Codex in Santiago, Revenge Hypothesis Emerges
»The Perversity of Britain’s Diversity Regulations is Bad for Men, Women and Minorities
»Two Arrested in Finland in Terror Financing Probe
»UK: Is the EDL the New Voice of the White Working Class?
»UK: Several Establishment Journalists Have Turned Their Backs on Europe
»UK: Tough Policing: Advice for the New Met Police Commissioner
»US Citizen to Italy After Detention in England
Mediterranean Union
»EU-Morocco: Fishing Accord, Euro-MPs to Appeal
North Africa
»Algeria: Scepticism Over Radio/TV Liberalisation, Media
»Egypt: 35% Drop in Tourist Numbers in 2 ND Quarter
»Gaddafi Loyalists Launch Major Bani Walid Counteroffensive
»Libya: Refugee Flows to Tunisia Still High
»Tunisia: Five Unemployed Attempt Collective Suicide
Israel and the Palestinians
»Amnesty Wants Israel Haluled Before the International Criminal Court
»Britain to Back Palestinian UN Bid ‘On Condition’
»Canada to Oppose Bid for Palestinian Statehood
»Turkish Charities to Build Orphanage in Gaza Strip
Middle East
»Cyprus-Turkey: Tension Rises Over Off-Shore Exploration
»Syria: Anti-Assad Sheikh Threatens to ‘Tear Christians Apart’
»Turkey Firmly Refuses U.S. Mediation in Crisis With Israel
»‘Flying Ladas’: Crashes Threaten Russian Aerospace Revival
South Asia
»Explosions Kill Three in Thailand
»India: Madhya Pradesh: Pentecostal Pastors and 11 Hindus Who Wanted Baptism Arrested
»India: ‘Police Were Biased in Gopalgarh’
»Indonesia: Don’t Go to Ambon for Jihad, Mui Says
»Pakistan: Assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti: New Falsehoods From the Police
»Sri Lanka: Bhuddist Monks Destroy Muslim Shrine
»US Points to Links Between Afghan Terrorists and Pakistan
Sub-Saharan Africa
»‘Jonathan May be Nigeria’s Last President’
»Algeria: Another Two Die, Nine Are Saved
»Maroni: Tunisia Accord Works
»The Netherlands to Veto Bulgaria, Romania’s Schengen Entry
»UK: Lumley is Target of ‘Gurkha Town’ Facebook Hate Campaign
Culture Wars
»British Govt Aims to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage in 2015

Financial Crisis

Greece: Mass Public Administration Resignations

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, SEPTEMBER 16 — Fear of changes in Greece’s public administration sector following the creation of a new single office for the payment of all public sector workers and for possible cuts to wages and pensions are behind the mass resignations of public sector workers in the country in recent days.

In September, according to figures circulated by the Minister of Finances, an unusually high number of resignations was tendered to the state offices. The resignations regard all categories of workers who are entitled to a pension, and deprive the public sector of experienced staff.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Problems Remain Despite Austerity

La Stampa, 15 September 2011

“Austerity plan passes amid confrontation” headlines Italian daily La Stampa, following the final adoption by parliament of a €53 billion package of budget cuts aimed at returning to a balanced budget by 2013. At the same time, dozens demonstrated in front of the building. The plan provides for slashing the number of civil servants, an increase in VAT, extending the retirement age for women, and has provisions to facilitate lay-offs, the paper explains. The paper notes the criticism expressed by the Confindustria, the Italian employers’ federation, on the absence of measures to stimulate growth.

In the process, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi tried to pass another decree, aimed at restricting telephone surveillance in order to, among other things, shield him from court cases in which he is involved. La Stampa notes on this subject that, very ironically, the Prime Minister has recently come under investigation for having used illegal telephone surveillance to harm a member of the opposition. “Governing means doing what is necessary, not what one wants,” La Stampa says, and asks of Berlusconi if he doesn’t want “to take a step back” and hand the reins to a technical administration, to show that he is up to the challenges that await Italy “after twenty years of cabaret which too often degenerated into a spectacle”.

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

Netherlands: A New Economic Crisis is a Real Possibility and Everyone Will Have to Help Pay the Bill, Is the Central Message in the Government’s 2012 Spending Plans.

A number of difficult and uncertain years are ahead of us, the government warns. Spending power will fall across the board for the next three years and almost everyone will affected by cutbacks. Next year’s pay rises will almost entirely be eaten up by inflation, which will remain around 2%.

In his introduction to the budget, finance minister Jan Kees de Jager states that the effects of the previous economic crisis were almost entirely absorbed by the government and industry. But the man in the street was largely unscathed, enjoying an increase in spending power of around 2%, De Jager said.

Uncertain times

Those days are over, the finance minister wrote in the main document, entitled Koersvast in onzekere tijden (staying on track in uncertain times). The state debt has soared, spending on healthcare is booming and the new eurozone crisis threatens the treasury again.

‘The buffers have gone. We cannot continue to pass the bill on to the next generations,’ De Jager said. The cabinet aims to get government spending in order and the effect of many already agreed cuts will become apparent next year.

Analysts say middle income households will feel the cuts most, as child, housing and healthcare benefits are cut, and there is less money available for child care. Healthcare premiums will also rise next year, as agreed in the coalition deal.

In total the government plans to make €5.8bn-worth of spending cuts and savings next year, while spending will go up by around €1bn. New cuts will be inevitable if the Greece crisis continues, De Jager said.

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

President Obama to Seek Higher Tax Rate on Millionaires

President Obama on Monday will call for a new minimum tax rate for individuals making more than $1 million a year to ensure that they pay at least the same percentage of their earnings as middle-income taxpayers, administration officials said.

With a special joint Congressional committee starting work to reach a bipartisan budget deal, the proposal adds a populist feature to Mr. Obama’s effort to raise the political pressure on Republicans to agree to higher revenues from the wealthy in return for Democrats’ support of future savings from Medicare and Medicaid.

Mr. Obama, in a bit of political salesmanship, will call his proposal the Buffett Rule, in a reference to Warren E. Buffett, the billionaire investor who has complained that the richest Americans generally pay a smaller share of their income in federal taxes than do middle-income workers, because investment gains are taxed at a lower rate.

[Return to headlines]


Another Baby-Step for Sharia in America

In a development reported with a front-page jumbo headline in the New York Post, as well as a more subdued NY Times accounting, the US takes one further step — albeit a tiny one — toward Islamicization of America.

New York City’s metered Yellow Cabs are the only ones licensed to pick up street hails and are strictly regulated in every respect by the Taxi & Limousine Commission: from the vehicle’s, mechanical specifications to the equipment it must have — even to the color and design of its exterior. Only a taxi with a license “medallion” may qualify, and such medallions are strictly limited in number, which is why the price they bring is upwards of $700,000. each. Some drivers work with so-called “fleet cabs,” which they rent by the day; others own their own cab and medallion (often under a mortgage); and still others own the cab but lease the medallion from its owner.

It’s this last category that is affected by the new ruling. It seems that the medallion owner, not the vehicle owner, rents out roof-top advertising for additional revenue; and these ads cover a full range of legal products and services — including the so-called “gentlemen’s clubs.” Turns out that Muslim cabbies are offended by such ads on the cars, much as the Minneapolis Muslims cabbies had a hard time with airport passengers carrying alcohol or accompanied by seeing eye dogs.

In the Minneapolis situation, such drivers were told by the authorities that they were performing a public service and had to accept alcohol and dog-carrying passengers or face a stiff penalty. Not so with the Big Apple’s city fathers. The ruling reported today allows any cabbie whose medallion is leased to refuse any roof-top advertising that doesn’t square with his religious beliefs.

Strangely, the particular ads involved, for two midtown strip-clubs, are not the remotest bit phonographic or obscene. They state only the name of the establishment and its address and/or phone number. The only illustration is a partial picture of a woman’s face (unveiled, of course).

According to the Post article:

The great religious war, waged on top of yellow cabs, has ended. Devout Muslim hacks — who were crouched behind their steering wheels in shame while driving with ads for strip clubs atop their taxis — won a major victory yesterday in their war on roof smut. The city’s Taxi & Limousine Commission agreed to give cabbies who own their vehicles absolute veto power on the content of ads on their cars — delighting scores of modest hacks of various faiths who had fought hard for the rule overhaul.

“We are Muslims, and we do not like the ads!” crowed cabby Mohamed Tahir, 66, whose cab is topped with an image of a sexy brunette from Flashdancers Gentlemen’s Club.

As a New Yorker, I see cabs with such ads every day; but, I must ask, where does this stop? Just this morning, looking out the breakfast window, I noted a taxi whose ad panel bore a pitch the the “Charley’s Angels” TV show featuring not one, but three winsome lasses in sexy low-cut attire — far less modest than the dance club’s graphics. And, then there was one cab advertising a brand of liquor, another Muslim taboo. Will the dance club ruling be followed by objections to public advertising of any non-burqua- wearing female, all alcoholic beverages? Will New York’s T&LC cave again when it happens?

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Islamic Dogophobia and Our Canine Heroes

Kalb, or dog, is one of the worst possible insults in the Muslim world. Call a man Kalb or Kalb ibn Kalb, if you want the knives to come out. In Afghanistan, those who fled the Taliban and returned to help the Coalition rebuild the country are called “Sag shouey” or “Dog washers” since Americans are infidel dogs and the Afghans who cooperate with Americans are menial servants of the dogs.

Mohammed, in addition to his affinity for pre-teen girls also had a compulsive hatred of dogs. Some Hadiths quote him ordering the killing of all dogs, others show him to be moderate ordering that only “‘black dogs” be killed. Which gives a special edge to the not uncommon description in the Muslim world of Obama as a “black dog”.

After Osama bin Laden’s execution, an imam of the Al-Aqsa mosque castigated the “Western dogs” who had done it. And as it turned out a dog actually did accompany the SEAL team that took down Osama. Unlike the billions spent on trying to win over Pakistanis and Afghans, who went on aiding terrorists anyway- the dogs remained true and loyal friends.

On September 11th, among the first responders were our four footed friends who risked their lives clambering around the smoking rubble in search of survivors. Muslims believe that an angel cannot enter a home when a dog is inside. But after the Muslims had killed thousands of Americans, it was the dogs who acted as the angels finding the bodies where they could and helping give the families of the dead something to bury.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Muslim Groups Press FBI, DOJ on Anti-Islamic Training

Two Muslim groups that have had generally positive relationships with the federal government have separately written the Justice Department and the FBI asking for investigations of anti-Muslim information used in FBI counterterrorism training.

Salam Al-Marayti, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), wrote FBI Director Robert Mueller asking for an immediate internal investigation and a reassessment of the vetting process of trainers.

Al-Marayti wrote that MPAC was “greatly concerned” about the training materials used by the FBI, which he said employed “highly selective use of quotes and sources from Islamic scripture; and, Dangerously false and reductive presentation of one of the most vibrant and visible faith communities in America.”

“Our communities need an answer from our nation’s top law enforcement leaders; silence on this issue only sends a message of complicity and ruins critical partnerships that have proven effective in keeping our nation safe and secure,” Al-Marayti wrote…

           — Hat tip: MH[Return to headlines]

Reno Crash Killed 9; Probe Focuses on Wayward Part

RENO, Nev. (AP) — The death toll rose to nine Saturday in an air race crash in Reno as investigators determined that several spectators were killed on impact as the 1940s-model plane appeared to lose a piece of its tail before slamming like a missile into a crowded tarmac.

Moments earlier, thousands had arched their necks skyward and watched the planes speed by just a few hundred feet off the ground before some noticed a strange gurgling engine noise from above. Seconds later, the P-51 Mustang dubbed the Galloping Ghost pitched oddly upward, twirled and took an immediate nosedive into a section of white VIP box seats.

The plane, flown by a 74-year-old veteran racer and Hollywood stunt pilot, disintegrated in a ball of dust, debris and bodies as screams of “Oh my God!” spread through the crowd.

National Transportation Safety Board officials were on the scene Saturday to determine what caused Jimmy Leeward to lose control of the plane, and they were looking at amateur video clips that appeared to show a small piece of the aircraft falling to the ground before the crash. Witnesses who looked at photos of the part said it appeared to be a “trim tab,” which helps pilots keep control of the aircraft.

Reno police also provided a GPS mapping system to help investigators recreate the crash scene.

“Pictures and video appear to show a piece of the plane was coming off,” NTSB spokesman Mark Rosekind said at a news conference. “A component has been recovered. We have not identified the component or if it even came from the airplane … We are going to focus on that.”

The dead so far included the pilot and eight spectators. Officials said 54 people were transported to hospitals, but more came in on their own. Eight remained in critical condition late Saturday and nine were in serious condition…

[Return to headlines]


Don’t Airbrush Islamist Threat

The remarks by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a CBC interview that “the major threat is still Islamicism,” generated predictable controversy by the usual suspects on the left.

On the contrary, the PM needs to be applauded for stating without any ambivalence what most Canadians and people increasingly in the West see for themselves. This is the level of indiscriminate violence perpetrated by Islamists, or the jihadist segment of the Arab-Muslim population, against those who disagree with them, and the organized efforts of Islamists with their apologists in the West to subvert liberal democracy.

Indeed, it is most refreshing to hear Harper, leader of a G8 country, speak candidly and in sharp contrast to previous prime ministers on matters vital to the national interest and security of Canada. But the contrast between Harper’s candour and the obsequiousness of President Obama when it comes to speaking about Islamism — former prime minister Margaret Thatcher of Britain very rightly described it as Bolshevism in our day and age — is even starker and bleak.

The Obama administration has ruled out any use of the “M”-word (for Muslims) and the two “I”-words (for Islamist and Islamism) by those in American officialdom in discussing the bigotry and violence emanating from the Arab-Muslim world. It is insulting to watch Obama and the senior members of his administration airbrush away any mention of the perpetrators of the worst mass casualty attack on U.S. soil. Moreover, it was grotesque that Obama in commemorating the dead on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 deliberately omitted any reference to the 19 Arab-Muslim men who brought about their murder in an act of war. Imagine, if possible, an American president, in commemorating the dead in the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, refusing to make any reference to the Japanese imperial navy responsible for the surprise attack.

Strike force

Those 19 Arab-Muslim men on the morning of 9/11 were the strike force of the Islamists who have declared their war against the infidels of the West, and those who oppose them within the Arab-Muslim world. In refusing to discuss Islamism and identify Islamists, Obama and those leaders who follow him make the West more vulnerable to their insidious subversion of the western values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law.

And it is even worse. This appeasement of Islamists abandons those Muslims and other religious minorities inside the Arab-Muslim world opposed to Islamism to unremitting violence by Islamist thugs and their enablers, as we are witnessing in what goes by the misnomer of the “Arab spring.” Then it gives a pass to Muslims in Europe and North America who, in failing to publicly denounce Islamism and Islamists, are by their silence complicit or in collusion with this latest version of Bolsheviks at war with the West. The necessary and just war against Islamists — irrespective of how the meaning of war is sanitized for political correctness — is now a decade old. It will not be over soon, and the West needs leaders who are forthright and strong to wage it. In Canada we are fortunate to have in Stephen Harper such a leader.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

OIC Raps Canadian PM’s Anti-Islam Tirade

JEDDAH: The 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has denounced a recent statement made by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a high-profile non-Jewish supporter of Israel, that he considered “Islamic terrorism” as the biggest threat to world peace.

“Harper’s statement will only exacerbate the misunderstanding and suspicion between the West and the Islamic world and obstruct global efforts to confront bigotry and hatred between religions and cultures,” said OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu. In an interview with CBC News, Harper said the biggest security threat to Canada a decade after 9/11 was “Islamic terrorism.” He continued: “When people think of Islamic terrorism, they think of Afghanistan, or maybe they think of some place in the Middle East, but the truth is that threat exists all over the world.”

An article written by Dovid Efune in The Huffington Post rated Harper as the No. 1 non-Jew having a positive influence in shaping the Jewish future. “Harper has been a great friend to Canada’s Jewish community as well as an outspoken supporter of Israeli positions in the international political arena… saying last year, ‘When Israel, the only country in the world whose very existence is under attack, is consistently and conspicuously singled out for condemnation, I believe we are morally obligated to take a stand.’“

Efune, who is director of Algemeiner Journal, commended Harper’s efforts in blocking a G8 resolution in support of US President Barack Obama’s Middle East policy speech that would mention the call for a Palestinian State based on the 1967 lines, while not incorporating other elements of the speech. This stand “earns him the top spot this year,” Efune wrote in the daily. Effune said his top 10 list of non-Jewish supporters of Israel includes politicians, activists and business giants. Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, Speaker of the US House of Representatives John Boehner, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former Spanish Premier Jose Maria Aznar occupy the remaining top five spots.

According to columnist Dr. Debra Chin, Harper is apparently using Canadian governmental authority to advance ultra right-wing ideological goals. She said Harper was a member of the ultra-right wing Northern Foundation in 1989, quoting a book authored by Trevor Harrison entitled “Of Passionate Intensity.” In his book, Harrison documents that the foundation comprised neo-Nazi social Darwinist intellectuals, Chin wrote in The Canadian newspaper.

In his comments, the OIC chief said such misleading statements from the prime minister of a sovereign country would create chaos. “The usage of Islamic terrorism is wrong like the usage of Christian terrorism or Jewish terrorism,” he pointed out. “Islam is a religion of peace and mercy,” the secretary-general said and reiterated his organization’s commitment to combat terrorism and extremism in all its forms. “Our stand is based on Islamic teachings that reject terrorism and violence,” he added. Ihsanoglu said OIC countries were the main victims of terrorism, suffering heavy human and material losses.

Saudi Arabia, which hosts the OIC headquarters, suffered a series of bombings and attacks since May 2003 that claimed the lives of 350 people. Hassan Al-Ahdal, director-general for media and public relations at the Makkah-based Muslim World League, expressed his dismay at Harper’s remarks. “Such irresponsible remarks should not have come from a prime minister. It will give fuel to extremists to carry out terrorist attacks and deepen the division between Islamic and Western cultures. It will also encourage Islamophobes to carry out more attacks against Muslim minorities.”

Al-Ahdal hoped that the Western thinkers would condemn Harper’s remarks in order to strengthen good relations between Muslims and the West. He said Harper’s remarks would encourage Muslim countries and parents not to send their students to Canada, fearing they would face bad treatment. “It is quite unfortunate to see that Islamophobia is spreading in the West. Earlier, we have seen such attitudes from the right-wing extremists. Now it has been taken over by leaders like Harper, Sarkozy and Merkel,” he said. Al-Ahdal urged Muslim countries to take a firm stand against such Islamophobic remarks. “I hope all Muslim countries will call their Canadian ambassadors to express their strong protest against Harper’s remarks and inform them such incidents would affect Canada’s relationship with Muslims,” he said.

Al-Ahdal underscored the interfaith dialogue initiative launched by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to promote world peace and stability by enhancing cooperation and understanding between the followers of different faiths. “The initiative will help bridge the gap between the East and West,” he said and called for strengthening the initiative by holding more meetings between leaders of various faiths.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

‘All Dogs Allowed!’ Italian Proposal Would Forbid Housing Restrictions on Pets

The eternal battle that pits animal lovers v. landlords could take a decidedly pet-friendly turn in Italy, where the Parliament is set to debate a bill that would outlaw any building regulations banning home pets.

Jeff Israely


“No pets” not allowed! That is the spirit of a new bill put forth by a member of the Italian Parliament that would erase all building regulations that forbid tenants from keeping pets at home. The bill was drafted by Gabriella Giammanco, an ally of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and has now made its way to Parliament’s Justice Committee.

“The new law will not allow for keeping all animals at home, but just the “family’s animals”, owned to provide company, not for feeding purposes,” Giammanco says. Italian families own some 45 million pets, including seven million dogs, eight million cats, 16 million fish and 12 million small-bird species and snakes.

Currently, building regulations can clearly state that pets are not allowed. The bill aims to erase this option for landlords. And what would happen if the owner of a pet has health problems? If approved, Giammanco’s bill will allow everyone to bring their animal friends with them to hospitals and nursing homes.

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

Croatia: EU: Accession Treaty Signed in Dec. After Elections

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, SEPTEMBER 14 — The European Union expects to complete the procedure to sign Croatia’s accession treaty by December. According to the timetable, the final formal approval of the European Council cannot happen before Croatian elections, scheduled to take place on December 4, reported sources in the Polish EU president’s office, after the agreement reached among the member states today in Brussels on the final text of Croatia’s accession treaty. “Now we have a consolidated text in English,” explained sources in the EU president’s office, “to be translated into the other EU languages, which will be submitted for review by the European Commission and for a vote by European Parliament, on the agenda on December 1. The first available meeting, the General Affairs council, is set to take place on December 5.” The document, which is 350 pages long, “clearly contains the date July 1 2013 as the accession date,” explained Polish sources, “and states that the European Commission has been given the responsibility of closely monitoring progress “ regarding pre-accession requirements. In the treaty there are not any conditions involving free access to the Schengen area. “The treaty does not automatically imply,” explained the EU sources, “an enlargement of the Schengen area”, which is treated separately. After the signing of the accession treaty in December, it will be up to the individual states to ratify it. Only after this process is complete will Croatia be able to enter the EU as the 28th member state.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Finnish State Police Investigating Two Foreigners for Links to Terrorism

Police are looking into the first ever terrorism-related cases in Finland. The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has begun a preliminary investigation into suspicions of the financing of terrorism, and recruitment for the commission of terrorist acts. Two people have been taken into custody.

Two individuals were arrested by police on September 7th and have been remanded into custody. Following their arrests, police carried out searches of several homes in the Helsinki area and evidence was seized.

According to information received by YLE, one of the two is suspected of funding terrorism, and the other is under suspicion of recruiting for the commission of terrorist acts. Both are of non-Finnish ethnic background.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

France: New Law Required to Curb Rising Faith Demands in French Firms: Report

PARIS — French companies are increasingly facing religious demands from their employees and need a change in the labour code to be able to reject requests they find unreasonable, an official report said on Thursday. Most cases concern Muslims seeking time off for prayers or halal food in company cafeterias, but demands have also come from other faith groups as well as workers resentful of colleagues who get special treatment, officials said.

In recent years, France has banned religious dress such as Muslim headscarves in state schools and full facial veils in public, but it has no laws covering religious issues that may arise in private companies. The High Council for Integration (HCI) report suggested a labour code amendment allowing companies “to include in their internal rules clauses about clothing, religious insignia and religious practices in the company”. Giving legal force to rules restricting religion in the workplace would ensure equal treatment for all employees and protect companies from discrimination suits based on religion, it added. “The principles of neutrality and impartiality favour the correct functioning of a company,” the report said. “So the absence of any expression of religion, be it a practice or ostentatious insignia, is strongly recommended.” Alain Seksig, author of the report, said the proposal would go to Prime Minister Francois Fillon and any change in the labour code would need to be approved by parliament.

Hundreds of Cases

France’s legal separation of church and state relegates religion to the private sphere, an approach challenged by a growing Islamic identity among some of the five million Muslims in the country’s 65 million population. The report gave no figures for the extent of demands for exceptions linked to religion but said they came up so often in hearings the HCI had conducted that they merited attention. HCI chairman Patrick Gaubert told journalists his council had learned of hundreds of cases of religious demands in companies in recent years and found they were appearing in many regions around the country. In one case, a private creche outside Paris fired a Muslim employee after she began wearing a headscarf and long robe to work and claiming it was her religious right to do so. She contested her dismissal on the grounds that the public bans on religious clothing did not apply in a private business, but the court ruled the creche had the right to set limits.

Natalia Baleato, director of the creche, told journalists that some Muslim employees refused to take children swimming because they thought bathing suits were immodest and others threw away desserts and sweets that might contain pork gelatin. Two parents who were Jehovah’s Witnesses did not want their child to attend parties at the creche and a Catholic employee annoyed by Muslim demands for special treatment refused to work at Easter and Christmas, she added. “These religious questions take a lot of time to manage,” she said.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Italy: One in Two Spot Checks on Receipts in Rome Leads to Fines

(AGI) Rome — Out of a total of 13,500 checks on receipts issued in Rome, Jan to Aug, tax police report fines in 51pc of cases.

According to latest reports, out of a total of close to 6,300 fines issued, 1,162 relate to full receipts and 5,137 relate to till receipts. With checks conducted throughout the Province of Rome, tax police report a 67.71pc incidence for full receipts and a 55.18pc incidence for till receipts in the City of Rome alone.

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

Italy: Police Uncover Mafia Designer Clothing Scam

At least 127 cited by investigators

(ANSA) — Padua, September 9 — Italian police on Friday uncovered a counterfeit clothing ring run by the Neopolitan mafia that mirrored scenes in the popular film Gomorrah.

Police from the northern city of Padua issued six arrest warrants and cited 127 people after uncovering an alleged criminal organisation linked to the Camorra that was producing fake designer brands. The organisation was allegedly led by a leading member of the Ricciardi clan whose assistants organised a source of production parallel to the production of authentic designer brands for sale in the region of Lombardy and north-east Italy.

Three Italians and two North Africans were arrested, while another man was being sought by police.

The organisation is alleged to have produced the fake merchandise between Naples and Caserta in the southern region of Campania.

Like the film Gomorrah, based on the acclaimed book by Roberto Saviano, tailors were allegedly recruited by the mafia and forbidden to have any contact with legitimate Chinese businessmen in the area or face serious reprisals.

More than 200 finance police were involved in the investigation which also involved the seizure of a ship that was used to store the merchandise. Franco Manzato, councillor for consumer protection in Venice, congratulated the police for their investigation.

“I reaffirm the need for zero tolerance against fake products and scams and the maximum vigilance against crime,” Manzato said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Milanese ‘The Coolest Dressers in Europe’

Milan trendies beat Paris, Rome, London counterparts

(ANSA) — Milan, September 13 — The Milanese are the coolest dressers in Milan according to a new poll from TripAdvisor.

The trendy inhabitants of Milan beat out their counterparts in Paris, Rome and London thanks to the way they translate catwalk looks to the streets, according to the survey of 3,000 European travellers.

Parisian fashion lovers came second and Roman trendies third, followed by fashionistas in Barcelona, Madrid and London.

Stockholm was seventh, followed by Florence, Copenhagen and Amsterdam.

Istanbulites were voted the worst dressed in Europe.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: World-Famous Mountaineer Walter Bonatti Dies at 81

Called ‘last traditional-style climber’ by peers

(ANSA) — Rome, September 14 — World-famous mountain climber Walter Bonatti died late Tuesday in Rome at age 81 from an unspecified illness.

“Bonatti was one of the greatest mountain climbers in history, the last traditional-style mountain climber,” said fellow Italian climber Reinhold Messner, the first man to climb Mount Everest without the aid of supplementary oxygen. “He was above all a beautiful person”.

Born June 22, 1930 in the Lombard city of Bergamo, Bonatti won international renown in the 1950s and 1960s for scaling some of the most difficult peaks of the Alps and the Himalayas.

In 1954, at just 24 years old, he and other climbers became the first to reach the summit of K2, which is generally regarded as the world’s most dangerous mountain.

The achievement became clouded in controversy soon after the mission returned due to claims from fellow climber Achille Compagnoni that the younger Bonatti bungled and prevented a planned attempt without oxygen.

Bonatti countered by claiming his companions wanted to exclude him from the last climb because he was allegedly the strongest member and the only one who might have pulled off a conquest without oxygen tanks.

The Italian Mountaineering Club accepted Bonatti’s version in 2008, a year before Compagnoni died.

“Anyone with a little experience in high-altitude mountain climbing and is familiar [with the case] cannot conceive of a version of events different from Bonatti’s”, said Luigi Zanzi, a mountain climbing expert who testified in a 2004 case regarding the K2 ascent. “Without Walter Bonatti, the Italian expedition would never have arrived at the peak,” he told ANSA.

After becoming the first person to make a solo winter climb of the Matterhorn’s north face, Bonatti retired from professional climbing to become a travel author and photographer, writing critically acclaimed reportage that ranged from the Alps to Oceania and the Amazon.

In 2009 he received the Piolet d’Or for lifetime achievement, the most prestigious prize in international mountain climbing.

The following year, Bonatti was made an honorary citizen of Mt Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps on the border between France and Italy, near his home of many years in the Italian town of Courmayeur. The ceremony took place on top of the 3,500-foot-peak.

“I didn’t think that Monte Bianco could still move me so much,” he said at the ceremony as he held back tears, using the Italian name for the mountain.

In 2004 Bonatti was made a Knight of the Grand Cross, one of Italy’s highest public honors, but chose not to accept upon learning that Compagnoni would also be a recipient.

He did accept induction into the French Legion of Honor for saving the lives of two fellow climbers in a disaster in the Alps Upon hearing of his passing, the Italian House held a standing ovation in honor of his life and career, and House President Gianfranco Frattini hailed him as “an incomparable champion of brave and harrowing feats”.

A viewing will be held on Saturday and Sunday in the town of Lecco, at the foot of the Italian Alps.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Parents: 57 and 70: Stripped of Child

Judges deny accusations of ageism

(ANSA) — Turin, September 16 — Judges have ruled to deny custody of a toddler to two elderly parents and said on Friday that age had nothing to do with their decision.

“No court, and especially not the one for minors in Turin, would declare parents to be unfit because they were too old,” said judges Anna Maria Baldelli and Fulvio Villa in a written statement.

Contrary to accusations, they said that their decision was based upon evidence of repeated cases of abandonment and neglect.

On Thursday, the court ruled that a 70-year-old father and a 57-year-old mother were unfit to look after their 18-month-old daughter, a verdict which some believed to be based on their advanced years.

The baby girl was born in May last year after artificial insemination overseas.

In its ruling, the court called the baby “the fruit of a distorted application of the opportunities offered by advances in genetics,” and declared the parents’ choice to have her “beyond the laws of nature” and showing a “disregard for the child’s interests”.

The couple is appealing.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Anti-Lega Nord Protesters Clash With Police in Venice

(AGI) Rome — Demonstrators clashed with the police at an anti-Lega Nord protest march organised by social centres in Venice. About 800 people took part in the demonstration organised on the eve of the Lega Nord’s traditional annual event in Laguna. The clashes started when demonstrators tried to break the police blockade to reach the centre of the city.

Smoke bombs and firecrackers were thrown at the police, and some protesters reportedly used stinging spray on two Carabinieri officers who were slightly injured.

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

Litre Jug Exceeds 9 Euro Germany’s Oktoberfest

(AGI) Berlin — The 178th edition of the Oktoberest kicked off at precisely 1200 hours CET in Munich. Events were preceded by the traditional parade and the midday cask-popping. The city’s mayor, Christian Ude, equalled his personal best in the cask-popping event by opening the cask with two thrusts of the hammer. With events running until October 3, visitors will have to dig deep in their pockets with the 1 litre jug now exceeding the 9 euro mark, hitting EUR9.20.

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

Muslims Defy Outdoor Prayer Ban in France

PARIS — Hundreds of Muslims defied a French ban on outdoor prayer — which came into force Friday —and took to the streets and sidewalks of Paris to pray.

The French government announced Thursday it was banning praying outside, with officials pledging to enforce the ban from Friday.

But 200 Muslims ignored the ban and prayed on the streets in the neighborhood of La Goutte d’Or, Le Parisien newspaper reported.

French interior minister Claude Gueant said he had nothing against Islam but wanted it out of the public eye because France was a secular state.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Rotterdam Gaining Ground

Trouw, Amsterdam

When growth in Europe’s largest port was stifled by a lack of available space, engineers came up with an ingenious expansion project to reclaim a tract of land that is as big as 4,000 football pitches — a feat that is reminiscent of the construction of the sea walls that protect the islands of South Holland, which were built half a century ago.

Bart Zuidervaart

It is a stormy day out on “Maasvlakte 2” where the wind is reaching 6 and 7 on the Beaufort scale, and showers of hail are coming in off the sea. But there is no respite from the construction of tomorrow’s Netherlands. The workers are busy building a 3.5-kilometre breakwater to protect the new port from the North Sea — an enormous undertaking, which involves the positioning of 20,000 concrete blocks — 2.5-metre long cubes, each weighing 40 tonnes — in the water just off the coast.

To complete this massive task, they are using a specially designed crane, built at a cost of 10 million euros, which has been nicknamed Blockbuster. The machine is manned by a team of eight mechanics, none of whom works for more than an hour at a time, explains Ronald Paul, who manages the organisation in charge of the “Maasvlakte 2” project. The work demands extreme concentration, because the margin of error in the positioning of the blocks cannot be more than 15 centimetres. On average, 700 people are now working on the construction of Maasvlakte 2, at a cost of 1.5 million euros per day. The overall budget for the project is 3 billions euros…

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

Oceana: 3.3 bn in EU Fishing Subsidies in 2009, Spain Leads

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, SEPTEMBER 13 — The real value of EU and national government subsidies for the fishing sector in 2009 was 3.3 billion euros, three times the number provided by the European Commission and half the value of fishing in the EU that year. In pole position is Spain (733,961,495), followed by France (361,937,900), Denmark (307,387,494), Great Britain (264,703, 762) and Italy (250,699,139). This was included in the latest report released by Oceana, an international organisation for sea conservation which took into account not only payments from EU funds for fishing but also subsidies by the individual member states, such as an exemption from fuel taxes (1.4 billion euros). Oceana is “extremely concerned”, especially over the use of “harmful subsidies” for the increase of fleet capacity, fuel, engine replacement, marketing and promotional campaigns, and port and warehouse construction. The organisation underscores that despite this financing there is a problem with excessive fishing in European waters, and EU fishing boat fleets are also found in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans. In view of the modification of EU fishing policies, Oceana requests a “drastic change” to stop the increase in fishing capacity and “the enormous inefficiency” of the industry. “Fishing subsidies,” Oceana said, “do not only support excessive fishing, directly reducing operating costs, but also make it possible to fish more.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain: Stolen Codex in Santiago, Revenge Hypothesis Emerges

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, SEPTEMBER 14 — In a story worthy of the famous Umberto Eco novel, The Name of the Rose, the Codex Calixtinus, the first ‘guide for pilgrims’ and priceless 12th century illuminated manuscript also known as the Liber Sancti Jacobi, mysteriously removed from the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral archives in July, was reportedly stolen in an act of vengeance against the Cabildo (governing body) of the cathedral.

The is the most recent idea proposed by investigators, cited by La Vanguardia, on the incredible theft discovered on July 8. The robbery could be an act in which the ancient manuscript was seized as part of a power struggle within the governing council of the cathedral. The Dean of the cathedral, José Maria Diaz, has been hammered by critics for months for the insufficient security measures used to protect the precious medieval manuscript. Only two keys were capable of opening the safe where the first guide for pilgrims of the Apostle James and one of the symbols of Christianity was preserved. And three guards were responsible for watching over the treasure of incalculable historic value, to which it was practically impossible for anyone to gain access. A firm ‘no’ was the customary response of the dean to whoever requested the item to be displayed, whether they were museums or cultural groups. Several lucky visitors, mainly historians, were able to view the 225 parchments that make up the Codex Calixtinus from the door at the entry to the cathedral achieves. The recently restored manuscripts were displayed on a velvet cushion and kept under lock and key. Serafin Castro, who is leading the investigation opened by the national police department’s cultural heritage division, recently said that the Codex Calixtinus could be “very, very close to the Cathedral”, when reporting on developments in the investigation. The seemingly prevailing idea is that it may have been hidden, or even concealed in the Santiago Cathedral itself, according to La Vanguardia, “as an act of revenge in a power struggle within the cathedral’s governing council, with the goal of discrediting the dean, who was re-elected to his position in 2010, which he will continue to hold until 2014”. Sources close to the investigation confirm that the hypothesis is linked to the fact that only José Maria Diaz and another two collaborators — a specialist in medieval history and one in modern history, who discovered the disappearance of the manuscript — had access to the keys where it is kept. However, the hypothesis of a robbery commissioned by a collector is still being looked into, initially followed by investigators and supported by specialists, such as philologist Luis Alberto de Cuenca, a member of the Royal Academy of History and expert on books. “It is a fantastic illuminated manuscript that is impossible to sell on the market,” he observed after the theft was discovered. “It is suspected that this could be the object of a sudden fancy of a multibillionaire psychopath. If they stole it in order to divvy it up into parts and resell it, we would have to tear whoever planned the theft to pieces,” he said to the press. In this case, it would be nearly impossible to find those holding the illuminated manuscript. Divided into 5 sections, the first book describes the sermons of the Apostle James, and the second is an account of the 22 miracles performed by Saint James in Europe. The third book recounts the arrival of the apostle’s body from the Holy Land to Galicia and tells of the custom of pilgrims collecting seashells along the Galician coast, the symbol of the Way of St.

James. In the fourth book, incorrectly attributed to the Archbishop Turpin of Reims, the story is told of how Saint James appeared to the Emperor Charlemagne to reveal the existence of his tomb and how he went to liberate it from the Moors, founding the first church. The fifth book is the first guide for pilgrims, with a study of the journey through Spain by Picaud, villages that were often unpleasant and where attacks were common, an indispensable historical portrayal of the period. In the 8 centuries during which it has been kept in the cathedral, the Codex has left the archives just a few times, the last dating back to 1993. And meanwhile, the controversy regarding the management of the church’s cultural heritage has not subsided. “The most reliable hypothesis seems to be it being hidden,” according to sources in the Xunta de Galicia. Although the revenge theory is viewed as unlikely in circles close to the investigation, because “it would be like killing a fly with a gun”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

The Perversity of Britain’s Diversity Regulations is Bad for Men, Women and Minorities

Working with people different from ourselves is good, but enforcing it is bad.

The biological differences between men and women are vanishingly small, in the scheme of the universe. Visiting aliens would find our sex hard to discern just by looking, so they might be curious at the politics of difference we have constructed around our gender gap.

Perhaps to assist any alien delegates, Labour are holding a Women Only day at the start of their conference. There’s something intrinsically daft about the party of equality holding an event which pivots on segregation, but it’s unfair to pick on Labour for following the fashion that says some “minorities” (such as women, weirdly) require special treatment.

Theresa May is an adherent too, and unlike Labour, she has power. She wants companies to publish the pay of men and women, to highlight and remove the “gender pay gap”. That there could be a myriad of life choices which lead to any such difference, and reasons why some women in some sectors earn less than some men — other than blatant discrimination — seems to escape the female Tory Home Secretary, which is at least depressing. At best, it serves to highlight the political and legal mess we are in with regard to “minorities”.

About a decade ago, I sat round a management team table with my colleagues: a Chinese woman, a Jewish-American man, a female Australian, a male Russian, an Indian woman, and at least one gay white Scotsman called Graeme. We were summoned to hear a lecture from a human resources specialist on the importance of being visibly “diverse”. It was the first time we’d heard the word in this business context, and we actually laughed, and asked the HR guy how we could possibly be any more diverse, given that we were such a small team. “Well,” he said. “There aren’t any black people here.” That stopped the laughter. Diversity policy thrives on such insidious insinuations of guilt: who would dare be accused of racism? The Chinese, Australian, Russian, Indian, American and British heritage of our gender-mixed team was of no consequence. An external body could measure us, and rate us deficient with regard to an arbitrary category of minority.

I have on record from a friend that his American organisation’s most senior HR leader recently contacted the entire workforce, regarding annual awards for consumer relations. These are peer-nominated awards, not selected by management: a true exercise in highlighting and rewarding talent. It had come to the HR supremo’s notice, however, that while the nominations were all excellent, there was an “under representation” of African-Americans, and women. Could everyone have another think, and try again?

That example is just within the realm of the farcical but inconsequential, though I can’t help but wonder how the eventual award-winners from those singled-out groups felt. But the implications of this doctrine are serious: they relate to equity, across the population, and justice, for the very minority groups meant to be protected. Imagine I worked for you, along with Jane, a young mother, and Dave, a single man. The economic downturn begins, and lasts as long as a Virginia Woolf novel feels. If your company is to survive, you’re going to have to let me, or Jane, or Dave go. How easy do you think it would be to select either Jane or myself for redundancy, over Dave? What do you think HR would advise, either implicitly or explicitly? What do you fear Jane or I, protected minorities both, might do, if forced out? Now imagine Dave is actually called Mohammed. Who wins then? The gay bloke or the Muslim?

That’s all hypothetical, but this example from another friend, mother of two boys, is not. She works in a small business and shocked me last month by saying: “I’ll never employ a woman of childbearing age again.” Her company is small, but expanding, and she can no longer afford to employ someone who will take a year off to have a child, come back part-time, then take another year out for the next one. This is not some anti-feminist, anti-PC lunatic; she usually votes Labour. She’s a woman who knows what it’s like to work and raise children, who’d be as flexible as possible with her staff. She just wants some sanity back. What would Theresa May suggest to her? That we should pass another law?

I don’t believe a word of the HR guff about how diversity brings economic advantage, but this isn’t a call for workplace homogeneity. Of course it benefits us to work with people different from ourselves. My views on childcare have been radically altered by working with women who struggle to arrange it: I’ve gone from rancid, teenage libertarian (“Don’t have kids if you can’t afford them”) to near Swedish social democrat. Nothing matters as much as raising children, and we all have a part to play. And motivating people from minority backgrounds to not limit their aspiration is a good thing. Motivation is not the same thing as regulation, however.

How would you feel if you lost your job to a protected minority? More disposed to think well of such people? Less so? Even if you lost out because you deserved to, it would require the disposition of a saint not to suspect the motives of your erstwhile employer, if all you’ve heard for the past 10 years is the importance of building a more diverse workforce. The explosion in the number of employment tribunals must surely at least partly reflect this. The Ministry of Justice’s summary for 2009-2010 shows a 56 per cent increase in the number of cases over the previous year, and almost double the number compared to 2000. Can it be coincidental that the rise — with all the economic consequences for the businesses involved — has gone hand in hand with the march of Equality legislation? Who suffers most from the creation of all this ill-feeling?

The idea that the interpersonal decency required for a common good life can be legislated into existence would be laughable were we not living with the consequences of trying to make it happen. The entirely predictable endpoint of all this — a mass of court cases, with more and more groups demanding the right to be “protected” (Christians are the latest) — will not make a single human being more good, or more happy. These laws are detestable precisely because they are anti-human, reducing each of us to a single category of identity, setting us at one another’s throats to defend our legally protected rights. These are not concepts that a Tory should be pushing, Home Secretary.

I wish the Labour conference well. But if they really want to discuss the problems faced by women in their party or society, they’d be more successful if they put aside the self-imposed gender segregation, and invited as many people as possible to take part. Diversity is another one of those words that’s in danger of losing its meaning, I fear; it stands now for legally-sanctioned conformity. Look at the Labour conference Women’s Day: speaking up for diversity, by enacting its exact opposite.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Two Arrested in Finland in Terror Financing Probe

HELSINKI — A man and a woman with foreign backgrounds have been detained in Finland on suspicion of financing terrorism and recruiting people for terror attacks on another country, police said on Saturday.

“There is a reason to believe these actions are related to such an organization which is suspected of terrorism actions,” Detective Inspector Kaj Bjorkqvist from the National Bureau of Investigation said.

The two suspects had been under surveillance by the security intelligence service before their arrest on September 7, police said. They appeared at Helsinki district court a week ago and were remanded in custody at a special hearing for which court papers have not been released.

In the police’s first detailed comment on the case, Bjorkqvist said the plans for a possible attack were not targeted against Finland, but a country “not very near” to Finland. The security threat level in Finland had not increased, he told reporters.

Finnish newspapers said the two had Somali backgrounds but Bjorkqvist declined to comment on their nationality or name any organizations or countries the investigation was linked to.

Police have searched a number of houses in the capital region and confiscated evidence. They are also investigating whether other people are linked with the case.

           — Hat tip: SL[Return to headlines]

UK: Is the EDL the New Voice of the White Working Class?

There’s a YouTube video doing the rounds which “anti-fascist” campaigners against the English Defence League don’t want you to see. It features a couple of young middle-class supporters of Unite Against Fascism sniggering as one of them describes a “horrible tattooed woman” at a demo being punched in the face “before someone kicks her up the arse”. In the words of Telegraph blogger Brendan O’Neill, these well-bred kids admit that it’s not normally OK to hit women, “but you can make an exception when it comes to female EDL supporters because they aren’t women — they’re dogs”.

You might think there’s nothing new in this. The street battles between the Anti-Nazi League and the National Front in the 1970s pitted white middle-class students against white working-class thugs: in both cases there was a sense that the ethnic minorities they were fighting over were almost irrelevant. Actually, the similarities are misleading. The EDL isn’t the National Front or even the British National Party. It’s not a fascist party, more of an angry white rentamob. And the racism is different, too: not so much about colour, more about culture.

But here’s the worrying thing. The EDL and its sympathisers appear, at first glance, to be more representative of a section of the English working class — especially in London — than the old “far Right” ever was. Neo-Nazis, your time is up. The Second World War was just too long ago. Disaffected whites don’t want to dress up as stormtroopers: that would make them feel like prats — the Sealed Knot with swastikas. As for the fascist-lite BNP, don’t be misled by the protest vote that put Nick Griffin in the European Parliament. In the general election, it achieved 1.9 per cent of the vote, sending it into a tailspin of despair.

The white working class isn’t interested in proper fascism. For a generation that came to political maturity slumped in front of the telly, ugly blokes preaching about Britain’s ethnic heritage look as if they’ve escaped from a comedy sketch. Also, racial purity isn’t a big deal on south London estates. Not when White Man Van has little mixed-race nieces whom he adores.

“Chavs”, as the UAF calls them, don’t hate their British-born black equivalents. They may not be best mates with gang members, but they know them from school and get their weed from the same dealers. There are even traces of class solidarity between them, which enrages fastidious “anti-fascists”. Gays? Jews? Yesterday’s prejudices. The EDL has gay and Jewish sections. Better a poof who doesn’t rub your nose in it than a Muslim who speaks broken English and pushes ahead of you in the queue for benefits and social housing.

It’s pointless to argue with an EDL sympathiser that most British Muslims don’t fit this description: that Islam is a complex and fast-changing phenomenon and that Muslim ghettos are likely to be eroded by secularisation. A little learning is a dangerous thing, and EDL agitators know just enough about sharia to convince their neighbours — including black ones — that a sinister project to Islamise Britain is about to succeed.

The English Defence League has chosen its target carefully; no doubt about that. But is the group an authentic expression of white anger or just the latest racist parasite on a demoralised working class? That’s a difficult question to answer. The Government doesn’t seem to have a clue. Perhaps the only way to find out is to wait and see whether a new recession pushes British politics any further in the direction it has taken this year: out of Parliament and on to the streets.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Several Establishment Journalists Have Turned Their Backs on Europe

Today Simon Jenkins becomes the latest of several establishment journalist to turn on Europe. Jenkins writes:

“Europe is clearly at a turning point, turning against the single-statism of the European movement, with its straitjacketed currency, its flows of economic migrants and counterflows of subsidies, its everlasting crises and its humiliation of democratic governments. It is turning back to national identity, and there is nothing the EU can do to stop it.”

The Times’ Matthew Parris was the first of the establishment to make very sceptical noises, when he wrote:

“I’ve never seriously entertained ideas of British withdrawal for longer than 24 hours. What, then, if there were a vote today? Would I still vote to stay? Probably. But that assumption of inevitability is leaking away. I’ve begun to daydream about halfway houses, two-tier membership arrangements, a semi-detached relationship in which the Franco-German core of the European project do what they surely have to do next if their dream is not to die: create a hard-edged and more exclusive Euroland in which harmonised taxes and spending, and harmonised debt-to-GDP ratios, run alongside the already unified currency. And we British stand outside that.”

Last week Times journalist, Camilla Cavendish also entertained the thought of leaving the EU.

“Realism,” she wrote, “means admitting that the single-market project has run its course and that the EU is fatally fractured.” She continued: “If the UK benefits from trade but is largely hurt by harmonisation, a free trade agreement might be preferable to membership. It is a huge step — but it could let us stand with the EU without being run by it. Leaving the EU would not mean ending co-operation. We work together on terrorism and intelligence with the US and other countries without giving up control over home affairs. If our Parliament was not subject to EU law it might well adopt European environmental standards, for example, while retaining the right to change its mind.”

In the Daily Mail, Max Hastings went even further than the rest, and apologised for being pro-European for his whole life:

“I still reject the crude jingoism of the UK Independence Party, which ignores the practicalities of avoiding a breach with our vital trading partners. And I realise that quitting Europe would engage us in a crisis that would sap the entire energy and attentions of any British government for years. But it has become essential to repatriate powers from Brussels. This is not in furtherance of isolationism, but of the economic imperative to strengthen our competitive position in the world and repair our social fabric. We must regain control of Britain’s borders, loss of which has inflicted wholly unwelcome social change. Almost incredibly, the latest net immigration figures are the highest ever. If the EU maintains its present path, it is hard to see the structure surviving longer than another decade. Its failure will become ever more starkly obvious to the electorates of Northern Europe, who pay the bills for the chronic corruption and incompetence of the South.”

Who will be next?

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Tough Policing: Advice for the New Met Police Commissioner

by Robert Lambert MBE

From a short list of three candidates I confess I was keen to see ‘soft cop’ Sir Hugh Orde win the contest to become the new Met Police Commissioner but now that the Home Secretary has appointed ‘tough cop’ Bernard Hogan-Howe instead I offer him my full support in his new and demanding post. With encouragement from the Platform editorial team I will use this article to offer him some advice.

First and foremost I want to offer advice about his approach to policing — what he likes to call ‘total policing’, a variation of ‘zero tolerance policing’ or ‘tough policing’ and what might be called his philosophy of policing if that is not too grand a claim. According to Philip Johnson writing in the Daily Telegraph, Hogan-Howe appeals to Conservative politicians because he is ‘a scourge of liberal judges and soft sentencing’; is ‘dismissive of the health and safety brigade’; and ‘believes in stopping crime and in keeping order’. ‘If you wanted a Scotland Yard chief’ Johnson suggests ‘who looks tough and talks tough (and isn’t Bill Bratton, the American favoured by David Cameron), then Hogan-Howe fits the bill perfectly’.

In truth, whether New Labour or a Conservative and Liberal democrat coalition, all governments strive to appear to be tough on crime and tough on terrorism and are bound to be drawn to Hogan-Howe, who as chief constable of Merseyside, ‘built up an impressive reputation for getting to grips with the city’s gangs and for tackling anti-social behaviour’.

So far, so good. Anyone who witnessed the recent rioting and looting in London and other English cities, will be pleased to have a tough, no-nonsense cop at the helm. However, whatever style of policing is adopted — tough or soft — it has to be applied fairly. My advice to Hogan-Howe is therefore to ensure that he is as tough on white collar crime as he is on street crime. As Jon Snow pointed out on the Channel 4 News this week, the publication of the Vickers report into British banking reform ‘sparks the question why the UK has so far failed to prosecute a single individual for his or her misdeeds during the financial meltdown of 2008’.

Many readers may have seen Snow press the City Minister, Mark Hoban, on why there had been no prosecutions of dishonest bankers by the Serious Fraud Office. It is easy to bear down on looters but Hogan-Howe will need to show greater courage if he is to tackle what Snow calls a far greater threat from bankers than ‘from any number of more arrestable rioters’.

Hogan-Howe will need to be equally brave if he is to be as tough on far right terrorism, political violence and intimidation as his predecessors have been on terrorism and political violence associated with al-Qaeda and fringe Muslim extremists. He will need to ensure that counter-terrorism policing takes full account of the threat posed by extremists who share the same ambitions as Anders Breivik if not — to date at least — the Oslo terrorist’s chilling skill.

And if the new commissioner accepts the Home Secretary’s view that young Muslims should be ‘prevented’ from becoming radicalised into ‘extremism’ then he should ensure that the same measures are applied to young people joining the English Defence League. Even handedness is essential. Sticking with the EDL, Hogan-Howe should ensure that the group is treated as a threat to community safety, and repudiate colleagues and politicians who seek to excuse them.

Most crucially of all, Hogan-Howe should be tough and brave in standing up to the Home Secretary in defending Muslim organisations and groups she has wrongly branded ‘non-violent extremist’. He should support his police chief in Tower Hamlets who hails the Islamic Forum Europe (IFE) stewards and youth workers in Tower Hamlets as outstanding partners of police. [JP emphasis]

By the same token, courage should be displayed in defending the outstanding work of Muslims in London who have helped to tackle the threat of al-Qaeda influence. With this being the topic of my new book Countering al-Qaeda in London: Police and Muslims in Partnership , I have sent a copy to Hogan-Howe so he can see for himself how important it is to stand up for Muslim partners of police who are now being stigmatised by the Home Secretary as ‘extremist’. This is surely the kind of test that determines whether a police chief is really ‘tough’ or just selectively ‘tough’ on issues that play well in Whitehall, as well as with the Daily Mail and The Sun.

When Sir Ian Blair was Met Commissioner he was regularly attacked in the media for being soft and politically correct — especially in his treatment of Muslim communities. As a result, when Blair attended a conference on Islamophobia at the London Muslim Centre in 2007 he sought to appear ‘tough’. Much to the amazement of the conference organisers Blair began his keynote address by declaring that he did not think Islamophobia was a significant problem and that instead he would deliver a speech on the al-Qaeda terrorist threat — a version of a speech, he said, he had delivered in Italy a few days earlier.

I sat in the audience and after Blair finished his address turned to a police colleague sitting next to me and said that the speech was ill-judged and counter-productive. Somewhat exasperated, after five years of explaining to ACPO officers that there was a need to take Islamophobia seriously, I was forced to conclude that Blair’s speech was aimed at the Daily Mail and not at the audience he was addressing in Tower Hamlets. Hogan-Howe will need to be tougher than that.

I was not able to stay for the entire Islamophobia conference as I had to visit a London mosque that had been attacked by vandals the night before. As I walked away from the LMC, along the Whitechapel Road and past Altab Ali Park towards Aldgate East tube station I pondered a change in Blair’s attitude towards Islamophobia. I recalled how in July 2005 his staff officer telephoned me in relation to a front page report in The Sun newspaper. Typically, just days after terrorists inspired or directed by al-Qaeda bombed London The Sun explained to its readers how this atrocity was linked to Palestinian resistance by seizing on a planned visit to Britain by the academic Tariq Ramadan to make its case:

‘Extremist Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan, who backs suicide bombings, is to address a London conference part-funded by our bomb-hit capital he is being given a platform to speak — while the victims of Britain’s worst terror atrocity wait to be buried. Ramadan is no ranting Abu Hamza or Omar Bakri. He’s more dangerous than that…He is a soft-spoken professor whose moderate tones present an acceptable, “reasonable” face of terror to impressionable young Muslims…’

In addition to the malicious targeting of specific ‘extremists’ such as Ramadan, Murdoch’s tabloids regularly stigmatise Muslim communities in Britain. According to research published on the sixth anniversary of the London bombings, the News of the World and The Sun have contributed to the creation of ‘suspect communities’ through reporting that fails to distinguish between terrorists and the communities where they live. Unlike some of his predecessors , the new commissioner will need to be tough on journalists too. Journalists, bankers and politicians as much as street thugs. That will be the real test of ‘toughness’ and courage.

Robert Lambert MBE is a research fellow at the Department of Politics and Co-Director of the European Muslim Research Centre, University of Exeter. He is also the retired head of the London Metropolitan Police’s Muslim Contact Unit (MCU) and a Lecturer at the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV) at the University of St Andrews. His latest book,’Countering Al-Qaeda in London: Police and Muslims in Partnership’ is published by Hurst & Company.

[JP note: Lambert is a leading UK dhimmipath who, among other activities, supports the Jew-hating Qaradawi. Note — a dhimmipath is a person suffering from a chronic mental disorder with abnormal or self-lethal behaviour in relation to Islam.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

US Citizen to Italy After Detention in England

McLEAN, Va. — An Oregon man who traveled to England by boat because of his apparent placement on the U.S. no-fly list has been released from custody by British authorities after being detained upon arrival from a trans-Atlantic cruise, according to his family. Michael Migliore, a 23-year-old Muslim convert and dual citizen of the U.S. and Italy, had been trying unsuccessfully for months to fly to Italy to live with his mother.

He ended up traveling by Amtrak from Portland to New York, where he took a trans-Atlantic cruise that arrived in England Monday. The trip took more than a week. When he arrived in Southampton, his family and lawyers from the Council on American-Islamic Relations said, he was detained by British authorities. On Monday night, Migliore’s brother and mother reported that he had been released from custody after eight to 10 hours of questioning. They said authorities confiscated a cell phone, iPod and other electronic media. While he has been released, Migilore remains under watch by a law enforcement official as he continues his trip to Italy, said his brother Anthony Migliore. Michael Migliore says he was told earlier this year that he is on the no-fly list, though U.S. officials refuse to confirm it publicly. He believes he is on the list because he refused to be interviewed without a lawyer by FBI agents after an acquaintance was charged last year in a plot to bomb a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland.

Gadeir Abbas, Migliore’s lawyer with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, had challenged Migliore’s placement on the no-fly list, saying he had been denied due process. Abbas was writing letters to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and FBI Director Robert Mueller seeking Migliore’s removal from the list.Because of the no-fly list, Migliore “was forced to travel like he was living in the 19th century. What was waiting for him on the other side of the Atlantic was more oppression,” Abbas said.

Michael Migliore told his family that British authorities removed him from the ship before it was allowed to dock in Southampton, according to Anthony. They questioned him about photos he had taken of the ship during his journey, which Anthony described as typical tourist photos. “He said they tried to insinuate he’s taking these pictures to plan something,” Anthony Migliore said. “He didn’t even want to go on a boat. If they would’ve let him fly, he wouldn’t have had any pictures of a boat.”

CAIR officials said they have dealt with many cases in recent years of American Muslims wrongly barred from international travel by a government bureaucracy that operates in secrecy with little or no accountability. U.S. officials routinely refuse to confirm whether somebody is on a no-fly list. In court cases where the constitutionality of the no-fly list has been challenged, government lawyers say there is an administrative process available for people who are wrongly placed on the list. More broadly, they say placement on the no-fly list does not infringe on citizens’ rights because there is no constitutional right to take an airplane.

In the past, U.S officials have said that fewer than 200 U.S. residents are on the no-fly list, though significantly larger numbers are on a broader watchlist that could result in additional screening procedures. A spokeswoman with the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs did not return a call seeking comment Monday. British police in Southampton, where Migliore was detained, could not comment Monday evening.

Both Abbas and Migliore’s mother, Claudia Pasquale, say that Migliore’s journey across the country and the Atlantic demonstrates the folly of the no-fly list. While citizens are severely inconvenienced by the inability to fly, little is done to improve national security because, theoretically, a terrorist could just as easily target a train or a cruise ship. Pasquale, though, is adamant that her son is not a terrorist and does not want to harm anybody. While she is Catholic, her son’s decision to convert to Islam at age 18 coincided with his maturation as a young man, she said. She doubted that he would have graduated from college if not for his conversion.

Pasquale said she has bought another plane ticket from London to Italy for her son, after his detention caused him to miss his initial flight. While the U.S. no-fly list does not govern European flights, Migliore and has family said they have been prepared to continue travel on train if he continues to have flight difficulties in London. Migliore is planning to live with his mother and find a job, with the goal of living in Italy permanently. “He was finished in the States. If you think he’s such an undesirable person, let him go,” she said.

Associated Press writers Sylvia Hui and Jonathan Cooper contributed to this report from London and Salem, Ore., respectively.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

EU-Morocco: Fishing Accord, Euro-MPs to Appeal

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, SEPTEMBER 14 — The fishing agreement between the EU and Morocco may go before the European Court of Justice, as it concerns the waters of Western Sahara territory as well. A group of 74 European parliamentarians, led by the British Liberal Democrat Andrew Duff, has just presented a resolution with a request to the European Court of Justice to determine the legality of the agreement in accordance with EU treaties and international law. The aim is to have clear ideas on the matter before the European Parliament gives the green light to the agreement. “The extension of the agreement on fishing with Morocco,” said Duff in a statement,” generates uncertainty on its legality in both substantial and procedural terms. The European Parliament has the duty to know whether EU obligations and international law are fully complied with”. The resolution will now be put to a plenary vote. “I hope that European MPs,” added Duffy,” will agree to give the Court of Justice the possibility to examine the proposed agreement. If the court upholds our report, I expect it will suspend the agreement or recommend that the territory -which is not self-governed — of the Western Sahara be excluded”. According to the agreement and its protocol, reports the statement by the ALDE European MP, the EU will pay Morocco over 36 million euros to fish in Moroccan waters, including those of the Western Sahara. According to international law, the benefits of fishing should benefit the entire population of the territories concerned.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algeria: Scepticism Over Radio/TV Liberalisation, Media

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, SEPTEMBER 14 — What seems to be a Copernican revolution in the audiovisual communications world in Algeria — following the government’s decision to “open” the sector up to private owners — has not garnered many enthusiastic comments in a country where information is not lacking so much as the need is felt for the sector to be truly a service and not only an opportunity for profit. To sum up, the government has announced that the public monopoly on audiovisual information has come to a de facto end and that it will hereafter proceed to grant licenses following timely and rigorous preliminary inquiries.

And only a few hours later El Watan, a French-language daily often in the front lines when it comes to criticising the authorities — at any leve- if their behaviour is censurable, announced that it would soon be submitting a request to obtain the go-ahead for a television channel and a radio station. It is a economically substantial commitment but one sure to be a success, since in Algeria — like in all North African countries — there is hunger for constant information and news, something which is currently limited to official sources or statements issued by the government. However, the latter’s decision met with a lukewarm response often threaded with scepticism more than support (due to its official motivation), since it is being interpreted as only the latest in a long string of means to help “friends”, and not as something which should foster growth of Algerian society, made up mostly of young people. Some have voiced opinions which go even further, as was the case with Belkacem Mostefaoui, vice director of the Graduate School of Information and Communication. Mostefaoui told El Watan that he saw a “total lack of transparency”, and that he feared that behind the draft law there was a “hidden game” being played.

He also expressed concerns that the draft law on market liberalisation could result in a degeneration of the situation in Algeria, of what is the cultural model of Algeria, which would therefore be exposed to the temptation to copy other countries, with a multiplication of commercial channels that are the preserve of investors who are also “ideological comrades” of the regime. And so, the suspicion is spreading that the new players on the audiovisual information scene are acting — not only out of normal economic interests (those investing most certainly do not want to lose money) — but to create centres able to grant visibility and engage in lobbying activities. Others, however, feel that the draft law — though what exactly it contains, its limits and motivations still remain obscure — should be accepted for what it is, not forgetting that Algeria is one of the few countries in the world having only one television channel, and that many Algerians placing their hopes in this reform process are not at all pleased to be in the company of North Koreans in this less-than-edifying statistic.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Egypt: 35% Drop in Tourist Numbers in 2 ND Quarter

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, SEPTEMBER 12 — The number of tourists visiting Egypt during the second quarter of 2011 was down by more than a third on those in the first part of the year.

According to a report issued by Egypt’s Statistical Agency, during the period in question, there were 2.2 million tourist visitors to the country compared to the 3.5 million during the same period of 2010, showing a fall of 35.4%. Although negative, the figures show a slight improvement on the fall of more than 40% registered in the first quarter of this year, which coincided with the uprising leading to the ousting of Hosni Mubarak.

Yesterday, the Egyptian government announced that it would not be pursuing a suggested policy of requiring non-package tourists to furnish themselves with visas to visit the country, fearing the consequences of such a move for the tourist sector.

The head of the international section of Egypt’s tourism ministry, Samy Mahmud, told the daily paper Masri al Youm, that he feared last week’s attack on the Israeli embassy would have a negative impact on bookings for the winter season.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Gaddafi Loyalists Launch Major Bani Walid Counteroffensive

(AGI) Bani Walid — Having pushed back NTC militia in Bani Walid yesterday, Gaddafi loyalists launch major counteroffensive.

News of the counteroffensives is reported by journalists following the militia’s retreat. Sources also report insurgents having been forced back from their advanced outposts, several kilometres outside Bani Walid. Insurgents are reported to have suffered heavy casualties.

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

Libya: Refugee Flows to Tunisia Still High

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, SEPTEMBER 14 — Refugee flows from Libya to Tunisia are still substantial. TAP reports that on Monday about 11,000 people arrived at the Ras Jedir border crossing, while from the Libyan side of the border repeated exchanges of fire were heard.

Yesterday also saw high flows, with lengthy waits at the border crossing which refugees arriving in vehicles had to face under the scorching sun. However, some Libyans are also heading back to their home country in cars loaded with food and necessary supplies. Transit waits are long in part due to the thorough checks carried out by Tunisian border police.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Five Unemployed Attempt Collective Suicide

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, SEPTEMBER 16 — Five unemployed diplomats from Kasserine attempted suicide, early in the afternoon, by hanging themselves. A last minute intervention managed to save their lives and only one of them has been admitted to the local hospital in serious conditions. The suicide attempt took place in front of the regional headquarters of the Kasserine Ministry of Teaching where the five persons, aged between 34 and 43 years old, had been protesting for days claiming their right to work.

The collective suicide attempt is the first of this kind in Tunisia and has also been documented by a series of pictures.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Amnesty Wants Israel Haluled Before the International Criminal Court

Amnesty International has called for the UN Security Council to refer Israel to the International Criminal Court. Letters on the subject have been sent to Ban Ki-Moon and Baroness Ashton, as well as the Arab League and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. The human rights group, known for being heavily critical of the Israeli government, said it was pursuing the move in light of the opening of the UN General Assembly session in New York. The Palestinian Authority is set to make a unilateral bid for independence at the UN next Friday.

On Thursday, a reform to Britain’s universal jurisdiction law came into effect. Under the new law, groups will have to seek permission from the Director of Public Prosecutions in order for an arrest warrant to be issued for visiting foreign dignitaries.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Britain to Back Palestinian UN Bid ‘On Condition’

The British government will only back a Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN next week under stringent conditions, a Foreign Office official said today. Britain would support a Palestinian attempt to secure “observer state” status at the General Assembly on condition that the Palestinians agree to return to peace talks without preconditions and that Israel’s concerns over potential future prosecutions at the ICC were met.

The UK considers a direct Palestinian appeal to the UN Security Council “catastrophic”, since it would be likely to result in the US and Israel withdrawing funding from the Palestinian Authority. Britain’s preferred scenario is Palestinian acceptance of a package crafted by Quartet envoy Tony Blair and EU foreign affairs representative Catherine Ashton, under which the PA would be upgraded to a new legal status below that of a state, although diplomats close to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas indicated that it was unlikely that he would accept that initiative.

The General Assembly non-member “observer state” option would, in practice, give the Palestinians a seat within many UN institutions. The big concern for Israel is that this would be likely to result in the International Criminal Court gaining jurisdiction over the West Bank, enabling the Palestinians to lodge legal cases against Israel over issues like settlement construction. Britain has so far taken no formal position on the upcoming UN bid but is waiting to see which course of action Mr Abbas will take at the UN next week. Officials fear that if, by next Tuesday, Mr Abbas has not made a proposal, his course will be set for a showdown at the Security Council next Friday.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Canada to Oppose Bid for Palestinian Statehood

OTTAWA — Canada will oppose an upcoming bid for statehood at the United Nations by Palestinians, says Prime Minister Stephen Harper. On Friday, Harper said this sort of “unilateral action” on behalf of the Palestinian Authority is “very regrettable” and won’t help the goal of establishing long-term peace in the Middle East. The prime minister made the statement as he prepares to visit New York next week for a meeting with other world leaders whose nations are part of the military alliance that ousted Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Also next Tuesday, Harper will attend a high-level meeting at the United Nations on improving maternal and child health in poor nations — a cause that Harper has been championing for more than a year. On Wednesday, Harper’s focus will be on the economy as he attends a business roundtable hosted by the New York Stock Exchange. Harper will not deliver an address to the General Assembly of the UN, which will be gripped by the controversial request later in the week from the Palestinian Authority for full membership in the international body.

The Palestinians have been actively lobbying the international community to support their request — a move which they say would be a major step toward the actual creation of a Palestinian nation. By achieving such official recognition, they believe they would have a greater international profile and more leverage in their negotiations with Israel. The United States has indicated it will oppose the request at the UN — expected to come next Friday when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas delivers an address to the UN General Assembly.

At a news conference in Saskatchewan, Harper was asked about the position Canada will adopt. “It is our view this unilateral action on behalf of the Palestinian Authority to be not helpful,” Harper responded. “No unilateral actions like this are helpful in terms of establishing a long-run peace in the Middle East.” The prime minister left no doubt how Canada will act at the UN on the matter. “Canada views the action as very regrettable and we will be opposing it at the United Nations.” The issue is quickly developing into an international political time bomb that could cause significant friction at the UN. It’s still not certain how the drama will play out, but the likely scenario is as follows.

Abbas will ask the 15-member UN Security Council to endorse the Palestinian Authority’s bid for full membership at the UN. Once that happens, the stage will be set for a major international rift. The United States will use its power as a permanent member of the Security Council to veto the bid. The U.S. says the only way for the Palestinians to achieve statehood is through negotiations with Israel as part of long-standing, but stymied, Mideast peace efforts.

Once that veto happens, it’s expected the Palestinians will opt for their second-best option. They will ask the 193-member General Assembly for recognition as a non-member state.

This would provide limited powers of UN membership, but would carry the advantage of being able, for instance, to take human rights complaints to the International Criminal Court.

In such a vote, it is highly likely that the Palestinians would succeed. Already 127 of the 193 nations reportedly have indicated they would vote for a Palestinian bid. In that instance, Canada would be among the countries formally objecting by voting no.

Although Harper has adopted a firm stance on the Palestinian issue, he won’t be speaking to the General Assembly this year. (He has spoken to the Assembly twice since coming to power — in 2006 and in 2010). Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird will speak to the Assembly on behalf of Canada later this month. During his trip to New York next week, Harper will meet Tuesday with NATO nations and Arab organizations that are known as the Friends of Libya — the group that rallied last spring to mount a military action against Gadhafi and to help the rebels in that country.

Although Gadhafi’s forces have lost the capital city of Tripoli, their leader is still on the run. Moreover, it’s unclear how well the National Transitional Council, which has the support of countries, such as Canada, will guide the war-torn North African country toward stability. At next week’s meeting, Harper will be joined by major leaders, such as Britain’s David Cameron and France’s Nicolas Sarkozy, who visited Libya this week. The countries are expected to agree on the need to extend the mission beyond its current Sept. 27 deadline — likely for another three months. They also will focus on measures to ensure Libya’s fledgling interim government receives the aid it needs.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Turkish Charities to Build Orphanage in Gaza Strip

(ANSAmed) — GAZA, SEPTEMBER 16 — Turkish Cansuyu Relief and Solidarity Association will build an orphanage in Jabalia city in Gaza Strip and the foundation of the building was laid with a ceremony on Friday, Anatolia news agency reports. The Chairman of the association, Mustafa Koylu, said that Cansuyu had been helping people in Gaza since Israel’s embargo began, adding that they distributed food and clothes to poor families. Noting that many people lost their houses and many children lost their parents during Israeli bombing on Gaza two years ago, Koylu said that Cansuyu would build an orphanage in the city. He added that the children would not stay in the center, noting that they would be educated and rehabilitated in the orphanage. Koylu said that the orphanage would cost 1.1 million USD and serve 600 orphans.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Cyprus-Turkey: Tension Rises Over Off-Shore Exploration

(ANSAmed) — NICOSIA, SEPTEMBER 16 — The ‘Homer Ferrington’ oil drilling platform, owned by the Usa Noble Energy company, after having carried out explorations in Israel’s territorial waters, has been positioned in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Republic of Cyprus, where it will start prospecting operations next week under the vigilant eye of Ankara’s Navy and Air Force.

The report was made by sources of the Cyprus Ministry of Defence according to whom Turkish fighters and frigates have watched from a distance, without violating the territorial waters or the air space of Cyprus, the transfer of the platform from the off-shore Israeli oil field named “Noa” to the Greek-Cypriot “Block 12” (also known as “Aphrodite”).

The “Homer” is expected to start drilling operations as of next Monday, but there is no indication that friction sparked off in the eastern Mediterranean in recent days by Ankara, which is still questioning the right of Israel and Cyprus to search for oil and gas fields in their respective EEZs, is easing up.

According to Turkey, the revenues of oil and gas extractions are also due to the Turkish-Cypriot people who live in the North of the island that was militarily occupied by Turley in 1974.

Furthermore Ankara claims that the prospecting operations carried out by the government of Cyprus represent a hurdle to the continuation of negotiations that have been in place since 2008 between Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots for the reunification of the island.

Yesterday Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement saying that — should the Republic of Cyprus continue drilling — Ankara will sign an agreement with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (Trnc, only recognised by Turkey) to carry out prospecting operations in the stretch of sea between Turkey and the northern area of the island.

The matter was also addressed yesterday by the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs which protested against Ankara’s decision to send — escorted by the Turkish Navy — the Portuguese ship for geological explorations named ‘Bergen Surveyor’ off the shores of the island of Kastelorizo, which is Greek but which lies less than three kilometres away from Turkey’s coast.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Syria: Anti-Assad Sheikh Threatens to ‘Tear Christians Apart’

(ANSAmed) — ROME, SEPTEMBER 16 — A Syrian sheikh who has been exiled to Saudi Arabia and has become one of the voices of the uprising against Assad, urges his followers, in television sermons that have been broadcast in Syria as well, to “tear apart, chop up and feed” the meat of all supporters of the current regime “to the dogs,” including all Christians. The fundamentalist turn part of the Syrian opposition is taking is denounced on the website, of the Franciscan Custody.

Many Syrian Christians, the website reads, are terrorised; in some cities, like Homs, they are even afraid to leave their houses. Some churches have already been burned down. These appeals to hate were made in this context by sheikh Adnan al Aroor, who is described in a profile of television network Al Arabia as a ‘moderate Sunni’, a ‘symbolic figure’ for the anti-Assad activists, a man who invites people to ‘peaceful and non-violent’ rebellion. The sheikh broadcasts on the Islamic satellite channel al Safa, which has its headquarters in Saudi Arabia. The channel is very popular in Syria. In one of the sheik’s sermons that have been examined by the editorial staff of ‘Terrasanta’, al Aroor explains that Syrians can be divided into three groups: “the first includes people who are for the revolution and against Assad. When the President falls, the winners will look with favour on this group. The second group consists of people who are not for nor against the revolution. They can expect no privileges from the new regime. The third group opposes the revolution and backs Assad. The meat of these people — in the words of Al Aroor — will be “torn apart, chopped up and fed to the dogs.” This is an explicit threat to Christians, who have always been considered to be protected by the current regime. “Each Friday”, writes, “crowds called by the peaceful call of the social networks fill the squares. But there are also those, and that is a cause for concern, who come after being urged by unscrupulous preachers. They all come to challenge a government that is unable to show evidence of real reforms. Whoever wins, the future of Syria remains unclear.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkey Firmly Refuses U.S. Mediation in Crisis With Israel

(AGI) Istanbul- Turkey’s government has turned down the proposal for US mediation in the country’s diplomacy crisis with Israel. “We do not require any mediation whatsoever with Israel”, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told journalists regarding the possibility of a diplomatic intervention by Washington in the crisis which has Turkey a step away from a rift with Israel.

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


‘Flying Ladas’: Crashes Threaten Russian Aerospace Revival

A series of plane crashes — eight this year alone with the total loss of 119 lives — is threatening to undermine Russia’s ambitions to revive its once-proud aircraft industry. The country is pinning its hopes on a new regional jet, the Sukhoi Superjet 100 — but each new disaster involving aging planes is dimming its prospects of success in the international market.

When the red carnations ran out, people started laying gladioli and chrysanthemums along the wall of the ice hockey rink in Yaroslavl, Russia.

Inside the building, President Dmitry Medvedev asked his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gül and 300 other guests of honor to observe a minute of silence for the 44 victims of a Yak-42 plane crash. Twenty-seven of those who died were members of the celebrated Lokomotiv hockey team, which scored many of its greatest triumphs in this rink. German national hockey team member Robert Dietrich was among the victims.

Once the silence was over, the Russian head of state returned to his favorite topics, Internet progress in Russia and the modernization of his enormous empire. It is unlikely that his grand words impressed any of the grieving fans. For the victims of the plane crash, Medvedev’s modernization comes too late.

One woman tacked a poster to the arena wall, on which Yaroslavl residents offered their condolences. “Forgive us,” one person wrote in a messy scrawl, presumably meant to express the sense that something isn’t right here, in this country that considers itself a world power, yet whose infrastructure often resembles that of a developing country.

This year alone, eight serious airplane crashes have claimed the lives of 119 people. In the same time period, leading Western airlines have maintained a crash-free record. The Yak-42 is considered particularly prone to accidents. More than 180 of this model were produced in Saratov and Smolensk from 1979 until 2002; nine of them have crashed and 569 people have died. The Yak-Service airline even spent time on the European Aviation Safety Agency blacklist and was forbidden for some time to fly its planes into the EU, due to shortcomings in safety and documentation.

More Dangerous Than Africa

Flying in Russia, the natural resource superpower with the world’s third largest foreign currency reserves, has become more dangerous than in many crisis-ridden countries in Africa. “It’s depressing for a nation proud of its aviation,” says Jan Richter, a flight safety statistician in Hamburg.

Just this spring, President Medvedev declared a healthy aircraft industry a “key condition for recovering our economy’s competitive position.” Now, at the site of the crash, he said angrily: “Of course we should think of our own. But if they can’t hack it, we’ll have to buy our planes abroad.”

The most powerful helicopter (the Mi-12), the largest cargo plane (the An-225) and the world’s first commercial supersonic jet (the Tu-144) — the Russian aviation industry has had a dazzling history. The country’s factories once manufactured more than 350 commercial airplanes a year, producing over a thousand of the Yak-42’s predecessor alone.

Today, Russia’s share of the global market has shrunk to a mere 1.5 percent, and despite the Kremlin pumping billions of rubles into the country’s aviation industry, it produced just seven large passenger airplanes last year.

Now the Kremlin is pinning its hopes on a new regional airplane, the Sukhoi Superjet 100. Already 170 orders for the plane have come in, including a few from the United States, and the first three planes have been delivered…

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

South Asia

Explosions Kill Three in Thailand

A series of explosions killed three people including a child and injured at least 64 in Thailand’s violence-plagued province of Narathiwat, officials said on Saturday. Three bombs hidden on parked motorcycles exploded within 30 minutes on Friday night in Sungai Kolok town on the Thai-Malaysian border, about 800 kilometres south of Bangkok. A 3-year-old boy died and the Malaysian parents were hospitalised with severe injuries, Internal Security Operations Command officer Colonel Parinya Chaidilok said. At least eight of the injured victims were identified as Malaysian citizens. Sungai Kolok is a popular weekend destination for Malaysian-Chinese tourists from across the border.

‘We suspect the people behind this attack were linked to a drug-trafficking gang that authorities recently cracked down on,’ Parinya said. Narathiwat authorities arrested suspected drug dealers on Tuesday and seized up to 14,000 amphetamine pills. They also seized computers that provided details of a drug-dealing network in the border region, which has been plagued by Muslim insurgencies and contraband traffic for decades. ‘This gang is paying local insurgents to create chaos in the region,’ Akkhara said.

Thailand’s southern region comprising Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala provinces has witnessed escalating violence since January 2004, when Muslim militants raided an army base and seized 300 war weapons. The raid triggered a series of bloody crackdowns on suspected Muslim separatists in 2004 that further antagonised the local population against the Bangkok-based government and unleashed a wave of revenge killings on authorities and their accomplices over the past seven and a half years.

Clashes, shootouts, beheadings and bombs have claimed 4,846 lives in the majority-Muslim southernmost provinces since 2004, with no sign of the violence abating this year, according to Deep South Watch, a network of academics and civil society groups that monitors the southern unrest. There have been 11,704 violent incidents documented in the three provinces since 2004, claiming 4,846 dead and 7,995 injured. Of the dead, 1,857 were identified as Buddhists and 2,858 as Muslims, with 131 victims’ religion unknown. The majority of the population feels closer cultural and linguistic ties with Malaysia than with the predominantly Buddhist Thai state. The area, once called the Islamic Sultanate of Pattani, was conquered by Bangkok about 200 years ago but has never fully accepted central government rule.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

India: Madhya Pradesh: Pentecostal Pastors and 11 Hindus Who Wanted Baptism Arrested

Five activists of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) and the police tried to convince the faithful to file a false complaint against the pastor, on charges of forced conversions. The 11 rejected. GCIC: “ Madhya Pradesh is a rogue state with the Christian community.”

Mumbai (AsiaNews) — Insulted, beaten and charged with false accusations of forced conversions of five Hindu activists by the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh). This is what happened yesterday in Madhya Pradesh to four Pentecostal pastors, and the wife of one of the11 faithful. After a night in jail, they were released on bail today. It is the latest episode of aggression by Hindu nationalists against Pentecostal pastors. But Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) points out: “The situation is alarming for all Christians, Madhya Pradesh is a rogue state that does not guarantee any rights of the Constitution in this community.”

Pastors Ramesh, Balu and Ashok were driving to a prayer meeting attended by 20 other people. Of these, 11 were to have received the baptism ritual according to Pentecostal ritual. Suddenly, the RSS activists armed with sticks broke into the house, along with three local police officers. The pastors tried to explain what was happening, but the activists began to attack them accusing them of practicing forced conversions. After arresting the men and Sumantra, the wife of the rev. Ramesh, the police questioned the 11 baptized. Along with the Hindu group, the police tried to coerce the faithful to file false charges against Pastor Ramesh on charges of forced conversions. The group refused, saying they wanted to be baptized as believers in Christ.

“The anti-conversion law of 1968 — says Sajan George — serves as a pretext to intimidate Christians. A similar case occurred last August 31 in Khargone district, where the pastor Veersingh Kalesh received threats while he officiated a service of prayer. “

But the Hindu persecution in Madhya Pradesh against Christians also has other forms, as the president of the GCIC reports: “The state government (led by the BJP — Bharatiya Janata Party, the Hindu nationalist party, ed) abuse federal laws to harass the Christian schools, putting them under pressure, interfering with their management “

In March, the government has attempted to carry out a survey on the Christian population in Madhya Pradesh: number of schools, churches and priests, financial situation, foreign income and any political patronage, details of Christians with a criminal record. Following protests, the survey was blocked.

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

India: ‘Police Were Biased in Gopalgarh’

GOPALGARH: Two days after communal riots over a land dispute left eight people dead in Bharatpur district, allegations of partisan policing became shriller on Friday. Bharatpur SP Hinglaj Dan said seven bodies had been identified and civil rights activists, armed with information that these were of Muslims, alleged partisan police action. The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind demanded a CBI enquiry into the role of the police.

Fearing it could stoke violence, cops prevented Jamait leader and Rajya Sabha MP Maulana Mahmood Madani from visiting the troubled area. He was stopped near Pahari on way to Gopalgarh. “They must have lots to hide. Chief minister Ashok Gehlot had said I could visit the area. On the way, I was told by his office to speak to Rajasthan chief secretary who said I could not go as it could escalate tension,” Madani said. He demanded removal of the CM and suspension of the Bharatpur collector and SP. “It’s a case of targeted firing by the police. There could not have been a more communal rifle,” said PUCL’s Kavita Srivastava, who was in the area talking to victims and witnesses.

Riots broke out on Wednesday over a 42-year-old dispute over six bigha land near the village graveyard. Authorities said the mobs of Meo Muslims and Hindus fired at each other killing many while community leaders claimed most fatalities resulted from police firing. Local Congress MLA Zahida Khan alleged police inaction while Muslims were attacked. “The district collector and SP were fair. But Additional SP O P Meghwal, Inspector Brijesh Meena and lower rank policemen were blatantly partisan. They misled the collector and the SP,” she said.

On Thursday, a panchayat was held at Gopalgarh mosque to resolve the land dispute. “While returning from the panchayat, we were attacked by Gujjars. We asked the police to help but they didn’t,” alleged Sarfuddin Khan, sarpanch of neighbouring Pathrali village. “During the Asar namaaz, police came accompanied by villagers. They began firing on devotees in the mosque,” alleged Asaruddin Khan. Asked about the allegations, Dan said his force wasn’t taking sides and police had to fire to stop the mobs from spreading violence. He denied his men had trained their guns on the Muslim mob.

MLA Zahida Khan insisted it was pre-planned. “Why else would firing begin after the dispute was resolved at the panchayat? Why only Muslims died in the firing when the quarrel was between two communities?” she asked. PUCL’s Srivastava claimed there was evidence of RSS in inciting the mob. “We interviewed two senior police officers who said a bunch of RSS members from Bharatpur were present then,” she said.

MLA Khan had similar allegations. “BJP and RSS members, including Giridhari Tiwari and Dr G C Kapoor from Bharatpur, were present at Gopalgarh during riots,” she said. VHP Deeg district president Manjit Singh Gulati confirmed they were in Gopalgarh when riots broke out. “They went there to resolve the dispute,” he said.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Indonesia: Don’t Go to Ambon for Jihad, Mui Says

After a provocative text message began circulating in East Java urging Muslims to go to Ambon to wage jihad following a deadly sectarian clash there, the Indonesian Council of Ulema on Friday discouraged Muslim organizations from doing so. “We guarantee no Muslim organizations will be provoked to go to Ambon. We have to sit down together and discuss the situation,” Abdussomad Bukhori, the head of the East Java branch of the council (MUI), said on Friday.

The MUI, Abdussomad said, has been staging talks with groups like Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah as well as hardliners such as the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI). The MUI’s efforts reflect what happened during a previous stretch of violence in Ambon, where from 1999 to 2002 thousands of Muslims traveled there to perpetuate a protracted sectarian conflict that killed an estimated 9,000 Christians and Muslims and displaced many more. Some of those militants went on to join terrorist networks such as Jemaah Islamiyah and Abu Sayyaf, located in the southern Philippines.

On Thursday, National Police Chief Gen. Timur Pradopo was in Ambon to assess security conditions. According to National Police deputy spokesman Brig. Gen. Ketut Untung Yoga, Timur concluded his visit by giving three instructions to the local officials. “The first is to maintain Ambon’s current calm and prevent future chaos from happening,” Ketut said. Second, Timur asked Ambon police to expedite their investigation into the riot, Ketut said. “The third is an order to local officers to be vigilant and anticipate all possibilities,” he said.

The recent clash in Ambon was sparked by rumors that spiraled out of control after a motorcycle taxi driver suffered a fatal traffic accident. The driver died from his injuries on his way to the hospital, but a viral SMS fueled false reports that the driver had been tortured and killed by Christians. That prompted a violent clash between two groups, one of which is believed to have included the man’s family, shortly after his funeral on Sunday. Thrown rocks caused a number of injuries, but at least seven fatalities resulted from gunshot wounds, according to Dr. Ita Sabrina of Dr. M. Haulussy Public Hospital. A mob also vandalized a number of buildings and vehicles. As a precaution, police have been seizing sharp weapons and guns on passenger ships bound for Ambon, so far netting more than 130 items.

Ambon, the capital of the Maluku province, has a history of violence. In 1950, it was the center of an uprising against Indonesian rule instigated by the breakaway Republic of South Maluku, which continues to exist in exile.

Additional reporting by Antara

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti: New Falsehoods From the Police

The two suspects would be former Christians converted to Islam, in conflict with the Bhatti family over some property. The Bishop of Islamabad: “The statement by the police is absurd.” Christian and Muslim personalities decry a cover-up and demand a new inquiry commission.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) — Pakistani police are spreading new falsehoods and new doubts about the assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti, the Catholic Minister for Minorities, killed last March 2 by a group of Muslim extremists. Bhatti had long led a fight against the death sentence of Asia Bibi for blasphemy and in defense of religious minorities in his country.

According to the police in Islamabad, the two suspects in the killing, Zia-ur-Rehman and Malik Abid, would be two ex-Christians from Faisalabad, converted to Islam, who allegedly have a property dispute with the Bhatti family. The police have also stated that there is no evidence against them.

This is the second time that police have attempted what is being called a “cover-up”. In August, some Pakistani media reported police statements according to which Shahbaz Bhatti would have been killed over “family disputes” related to some property (see 09/08/2011 Smoke screen and false news to hide Shahbaz Bhatti’s assassins).

Later, the Court of Counterterrorism issued an international arrest warrant against Zia-ur-Rehman and Malik Abid, who after the assassination would have fled to Dubai (09/02/2011 Islamabad, Bhatti murder: focusing again on Islamic extemism).

In recent days, the two have been transferred to Pakistan, thanks to Interpol. The Senior Superintendent of Police Operations and the head of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), however, said that “the suspects are being detained for investigating, they both were allegedly nominated by the Bhatti family, yet it would be too early to comment on their involvement in Bhatti’s assassination as there is no evidence available about their involvement. They are being detained on the basis of doubt, things will get clear once they are interrogated.”

The statements of the police provoked strong reactions and criticism in the Church of Pakistan. Mons. Rufin Anthony, Bishop of Islamabad and a personal friend of Shahbaz Bhatti told AsiaNews that “the statement by the police is totally absurd.”

“If they are not sure about the involvement of the suspects”, he added, “then what are they suspecting them for? Why did the court issue the warrants if the JIT didn’t have any evidence about their involvement?”

For the bishop, there is a suspicion that “the police are defending the culprits, or diverting the direction of the case, arresting some so-called suspects and then gets them released, on the basis of the non-availability of solid evidence for their involvement”. “It is clear”, he continued, “that if there is no evidence against the two suspects, they will be released by the court.”

To Mons. Anthony, it is urgent to set up a serious inquiry committee. “It is about time that the concerned authorities start taking things seriously: as Shahbaz Bhatti’s assassination is not only the assassination of a Federal Minister, it is the assassination of the voice of the voiceless. They have silenced a man, but can never silence his vision, his thoughts and his struggle for the marginalized”.

The prelate’s opinion is also shared by Muslim personalities. An academic Muslim cleric, Maulana Mahfooz Khan, also comments on the police statements: “They are just to divert the direction of the case. How can a vehicle [that of the murderers] disappear from the Federal Capital, where there are security checkpoints on all the entry and exits? Every citizen is stopped and questioned at every security checkpoint, how can a vehicle filled with armed men escape un-noticed by the authorities?”

Mahfooz Khan agrees that a new judicial commission is urgent. “The Government”, he adds, “seems reluctant in taking interest in the assassination of their own Federal Minister, who was slain in broad daylight in Islamabad.”

“Shahbaz Bhatti”, he concludes, “fought for the rights of minorities; his struggle for the interfaith harmony is remarkable.”

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

Sri Lanka: Bhuddist Monks Destroy Muslim Shrine

A group of Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka led a crowd that demolished a Muslim shrine last week, the BBC has learned. This incident took place on Saturday in Anuradhapura, an ancient Buddhist city and Unesco world heritage site. The monk who led the group told the BBC he did it because the shrine was on land that was given to Sinhalese Buddhists 2,000 years ago. But a prominent Muslim in the area said he was very sad and the sentiment was shared by many Sinhalese too.A Sri Lankan news website showed photographs of a crowd including monks apparently reducing a small structure to a pile of rubble. The mob waved Buddhist flags and — in one picture — burnt a green Muslim flag. There have been no other reports of what happened.

But the BBC has spoken to the monk, Amatha Dhamma Thero, who admits masterminding the demolition of the Muslim shrine. He said he arranged a gathering of 100 or so monks, including some from other Asian countries, to take action because — he alleged — local Muslims were trying to convert the shrine into a mosque despite new constructions being illegal on this site with its many Buddhist temples. He said local government officials arrived and said they would remove the shrine within three days, but the crowd said “we cannot wait” and proceeded to tear down the structure.

Some witnesses say that the police were present during the incident and did not do anything to stop the destruction of the shrine. Amatha Dhamma Thero says that the police were there to prevent communal clashes. But the police deny they were present at all. “This is a fabricated story. No media in Sri Lanka has reported this and we don’t have any police report. If this happened there would have been a complaint. We have not received any complaint,” outgoing police spokesman Prishantha Jayakody told BBC Sinhala.

One councillor told the BBC that mosque officials were afraid to complain about an attack that occurred while senior police officers were present. The demolition has been denounced by a local senior Muslim and a local Sinhalese politician. The Muslim, Abdul Razack, denied that a mosque was planned and said the demolished shrine was about 300 years old and had attracted visitors of other faiths too. He said local Muslims and Buddhists alike were concerned at what happened but Muslims had avoided the site on Saturday, fearing sectarian disharmony.

The politician, Aruna Dissanayake, said the government should act against those who had attacked the shrine. A minority was trying to create sectarian problems in a place where most Muslims and Sinhalese Buddhists co-existed well, he added. Most of Sri Lanka’s majority Sinhalese are Buddhist, and Muslims are regarded as a separate ethnic group.

In a recent newspaper column, a veteran Muslim journalist said there was a growing fear among his community that some people were running a campaign to incite the Sinhalese against them, including through Sinhalese websites and print media.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

US Points to Links Between Afghan Terrorists and Pakistan

(AGI) Islamabad — The US Administration points to ongoing links between Afghan terrorist groups and the Pakistan. In a radio interview America’s ambassador in Islamabad, Cameron Munter, said America “has evidence” connections between Islamabad and the terrorist Haqqani clan, alleged to operate in conjunction with the Taliban. The clan has claimed responsibility for last week’s attacks in Kabul.

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

Sub-Saharan Africa

‘Jonathan May be Nigeria’s Last President’

Reverend Oladimeji (Ladi)P. Thompson, founder and Senior Pastor of Lagos-based Living Waters Unlimited Church has, for over 20 years, followed the activities of terror groups in the North. He is also the international co-ordinator of Macedonian Initiative, a non-government, non-denominational organization established to provide succour to Christians persecuted because of their belief in Jesus Christ.

Immediately after the UN House bombing, our SAM EYOBOKA and UDUMA KALU approached him for his comment and the answer is that Boko Haram may break up Nigeria. Excerpts:

You said since 2000 you have a clear vision…

First of all, my warning was to the church leadership . I moved on to the secular world and I found out that it’s going to be difficult, so I did not go there any more. But the truth is that Goodluck Jonathan may be the last president of Nigeria. When I was saying this, they sounded very far fetched to believe.What is helping Nigeria right now is that the people who sponsor what is supposed to happen in Nigeria have been kept busy themselves for now. People like Muammar Gaddafi who used to come to Kano unannounced and unofficially regularly; there are different axis all over the world who are involved in what is happening in Nigeria. For example, the UN House in Abuja was not the handiwork of Boko Haram.

You may say what do I mean? One, there is nothing like Boko Haram. The word Boko Haram is a word created by the Western Media to explain Yusufua Maiduguri. Yusufua is just one out of 26 radical groups that are operating within Nigeria.

The western press, to make it readable to the western world, created the word, Boko Haram. Haram means forbidden and Boko is corruption of book. They have not burnt any university. They have not killed any professor, nor harassed any institution of higher learning. What they are out for is very simple. Number one, not to Islamise but an Islamic Nigeria, a Nigeria where there is no plurality of religions, but one religion; a Nigeria in which women will be oppressed always, a Nigeria in which they will eradicate democracy. They have scored success in many nations of the world before our own. You only need to go and do research and you will find out.

Uthman dan Fodio and Shehu of Borno

Nigeria’s problem started since 1955 or 1956. It is an ancient problem. The problem with Nigeria’s own is that before the global resurgence of terror, Nigeria had an ancient streak that started in 1774 when Uthman dan Fodio entered Maiduguri. He was lecturing in Islam doing very nice and quiet and the Hausa people embraced him and were happy with him because he was teaching their children. They didn’t know that he was radicalising their children at the same time. While he was radicalising the people at that time, nobody knew. He even instructed one guy called Yoeofa, the son of the king in Islamic way. When Yoeofa was being taught by Uthman dan Fodio, he said dan Fodio was a good and nice teacher, but dan Fodio noticed that the taxes were high; that they were not purists.

The predominant Islamic force in Nigeria then was the remnant of Kanem Borno Empire. You will find out that the Shehu of Borno, who was actually supposed to be the spiritual leader of Islam in Nigeria, was displaced by dan Fodio because dan Fodio in 1804 declared a Jihad. It was tough then and they were coming towards South. There were three things that stopped dan Fodio. Number one, El Kanemi, a Borno man who said, ‘I am a Muslim but I don’t understand this religion that involves killing of Muslims as well.’ And have you noticed that they have also started throwing bombs in mosques in Nigeria? El Kanemi rose and he was able to put a stop to the advance of Uthman dan Fodio.

Secondly, the arrival of the British and they had what they called Maxim gun, and in 1903 or 1904 Sokoto and Kano fell. There was armed resistance and in 1906 there was an uprising in Mali which arose just like bin Ladin’s but it didn’t last long. The British decimated it. They were able to kill a few British nationals. All the emirs had waited then, saying if he (the Malian) succeeds we will join him, but when they saw the British crushing him, they went underground.

Thirdly, Ilorin was taken but the Jihadists couldn’t advance further because of the forest belt. They have an advantage of cavalry; when they were coming to South, they had an advantage of horses but when they hit the forest belt, their horses couldn’t proceed. That is why you find that Ogbomoso, Osogbo, that buffer zone is where the rivers spread and the violence was not heavy.

Jihad under colonial rule

The truth is that during the colonial years, the British made one mistake in which they used indirect rule. Lugard personally promised them that he would not allow the Mauguzawas to be introduced to Christianity. Majority of people in northern Nigeria, when the British came, were not Muslims. They were animists and the Mauguzawas, who automatically, because of indirect rule were recognised as Muslims. It is an ancient creed, a very smart creed-very difficult to detect. War can go on even in peace time.

They shifted to consolidate under the British rule; smiling at the British while consolidating their code for the whole of Northern Nigeria. The moment the British wanted to leave, because they appeared nice to , the British made a miscalculation which is what is destroying them till today. What the British did was to devise a formula and hand over power to Northern Nigeria and create a political formula by which Northern Nigeria ordinarily should forget about one Nigeria.

Jonathan, Yar’Adua and Northern power blocs

This last time, whether by the name of Goodluck and by the pattern of his life that was disrupted, for the first time in Nigeria, we had about four or five presidential candidates from the northern part of Nigeria and they couldn’t agree on one. Had they agreed on one, all these things would not have happened. Olusegun Obasanjo came because of the pacification of the South West and after him, the North could have held on to power for ever, but immediately, it shifted back to the North. You know what happened to Yar’Adua. The late Yar’Adua was the Mutewani Katsina (holder of the Emirate’s treasury).

The Emirate and an Ancient Dream

What Nigerians don’t know is that there is an existence underneath the Federal Government structure in which an ancient dream is kept alive by a core of radicals who teach their children why they should not see Nigeria as one. And because it is not a formalized education, it’s not written down anywhere. It’s difficult to detect but they tell their children that southerners should always come to pay obeisance. ‘We are their rulers and there is only one religion’. You find that when Yar’Adua was in Katsina state, he was a devout Muslim to the core. There is a radical call from Katsina because it is the centre of learning; they’re purists.

When he was to become president, I was alarmed because I knew what his sentiments were, but somehow he did not last long and Goodluck stepped in. Goodluck should not have become president this time around but for the fact that northerners could not agree on a consensus candidate. If they had agreed on the formula left for them by the British colonial heritage, there would have been no argument.

Sheik Gumi, Islamic Banking and Jonathan

In 1955 or 1956, in the Hajj Camp in Saudi Arabia, the Nigerian flag was burnt because the flag had a Star of David on it. One of the contributors of what you are seeing today was late Sheik Gumi, a clever man who never denied where he was going. If you remember, he was the one who declared that over his dead body would there be a Christian ruler in Nigeria. That was just a tip of the iceberg. One of his boys who converted from Islam in those days, they put fatwa on him. He had to escape to Kano and the Federal Government used all state apparatuses to hunt for him. They beat him till they felt he was dead, but the Christians later found out that he still had life and he later escaped to Ghana. All these sentiments have been there but we are the ones who close our eyes and pretend as if they were not there. There is a radical cult at the centre. Islamic banking we are talking about today, Gumi was part of it. So, all the noise that people are making at the last moment is pattern of what they have been doing because there is a pattern in which it will work.

Christians in Northern Nigeria. Ask people like Archbishop Peter Jasper Akinola, His Eminence Sunday Mbang and those who had headed CAN, they will tell you how many young girls were kidnapped annually in the North. Your children can’t go to schools; it is either you fake their names to a Muslim name or there is no promotion.

Progression of the Ancient Dream

All these things have been there and we pretend as if we don’t see them. But they are there, well established in all those states. The movement behind it is a very intelligent; they are slow in their tactics and facts. The progression in Nigeria was that by the time they have swept through the Northern states and consolidated the North…the normal thing is that you push non-Muslims away from the city centres. So most northern cities today that have any sizeable Christian number are divided into two. Why? Because there is a time to come when they will launch an attack unless the Christians agree to live under a status where they become a third class citizen. This issue is not only in Nigeria; it is a global thing.

Islamisation of Nigeria

Nigeria has done about 65 per cent, it only has about 35 per cent to go. People are only shouting Plateau State but I pity Plateau State young men because they are falling into a trap till now.

Foreigners on Plateau

Plateau State people think they are doing something but they are wasting their energy by responding with vigilante groups. I have seen a lot of foreigners who are coming into Nigeria with their own silly theory when they don’t understand what is going on here. Last week, I was in a place where one of these British consultants was talking on how Plateau indigenes were just killing Muslims. They are only managing information in which the international press is looking at Plateau as blood-thirsty people. And Nigerians know that they are the most peaceful people in Nigeria, ordinarily.

Camps in South South, South East

This same thing has entered Makurdi in Benue State and it is coming down South. Whether you like it or not, there are camps and places where people are being trained in the South South and we now have more Igbo Muslims in Nigeria than we have ever had in this country. Why? They have quietly entered through sponsorships, spending money. There is one school in Afikpo where people are offered scholarships and given free food. As soon as you adopt the Islamic religion, you will be sent out of the country to radicalise you more. In the South South, there are militants milling around in the name of petty traders. The truth is that they have taken advantage of everything and that is a weakness for us. While we were sleeping, when we didn’t know a lot about these people …

Islam in Bauchi

Look at the Bauchi nurses in 2001 who were sacked because they refused to wear hijab. What I am saying is that a medical doctor, S.Y Sabo, who was in charge of Federal Medical Centre, Azare, knew that he was not just a medical doctor but also there to establish something. You can duplicate this in all the places. Do you remember what happened to Gideon Akaluka on the streets of Kano? Is it normal to parade the head of a fellow human being on the stick and dance round town jubilating? And since all these things happened, has anybody been convicted in Nigeria? You want to know why? It is because Nigerian institutions are riddled with spies and wolves who believe in that future; and the truth is that Nigerian leadership doesn’t have the moral courage to face up to the fact that from the police force to intelligence services, to education, to sports, the institutions are filled with people who are fighting the war quietly.

Including the Judiciary?

If you are talking about the judiciary, let me ask? Which rule of law is the uppermost in Nigeria? Nigeria has the British law that we inherited. Then we have the Common Law, the Customary Law and the Sharia Law. Which one is uppermost in Nigeria? If the Nigeria Constitution is uppermost, a former governor in Nigeria married a 13-year- old girl. He paid $100,000 for her, smuggled her into Nigeria from Egypt. According to the laws of Nigeria, is that a crime or not? Will you agree to live in a country where a full grown serving senator can marry a 13-year old girl? We all sat down to watch what would happen when some people came up to say that it was an Islamic affair, a religious affair and not a democratic issue. What happened to the case eventually? So what has been proven now?

Nigeria’s mistakes

Now, what are the mistakes we are making? This thing is creeping in and because of the ancient one that started earlier and the emergence of the international one ,they are now woven together. About six or seven years ago, in 2001, a bomb exploded in a church in Lalanto in Jos. Bomb making literature had been coming to Nigeria for more than 10 years. It’s just that initially ,it was blowing off their own hands and legs and it was being explained away. But gradually, they have mastered it now. Before, the problem was how they would co-ordinate the activities of 26 Islamic sects with each one having its own leader and different ideas but western countries have solved the problem for them, by creating the name Boko Haram. Unlike before when an individual sect had its own ideology, now Boko Haram has created an umbrella through which they all work. By being stupid and playing into the hands of the western media, they made our case worse. So they are now making more progress and even bolder than they could get before. The reason why Uthman dan Fodio was able to overthrow Hausa kings was because there was a lot of corruption in the Hausa Kingdoms. There was a lot of oppression and poverty. There was no home for majority of them. There was no hope for the future then.

There is little hope for the future now. A house full of intellectuals, deceive themselves that there is a future. And that is why the average intellectual does not have the reality on what Nigerian life really is. Many Nigerians youths are crossing deserts on foot to escape Nigerian life. That is a pointer for you on what life looks like in the country.

Is the invitation to foreigners to assist us a true way out of the problem?

We have to be very careful. Immediately the UN House was bombed, Nigeria ceded its authority and it was not right for Nigeria to cede its authority. A lot of countries have similar problems and many of them are looking up to Nigeria to see how she would solve the problem to help their own countries. Now, in Nigeria a lot of intelligent strategies have just been just bullshit, they are unwise. At every step, we bring in our soldiers to level (destroy) towns.

Ordinary Boko Haram with 1.6 million members held Nigeria Army and Police Force for almost three weeks. Nigerian youths are impoverished, education is gone, and we are the second highest in the world’s infant mortality, maternal maternity, second highest in the world. It is a curse for you to be pregnant in Nigeria, that is what it means. It is better for you to go to Ghana or Cotonou, next door and have your children than to have them in Nigeria.

In all indices by which you measure a state, Nigeria cannot score pass mark in any area. Human life value is very low. A woman was butchered by soldiers in Gombe, till today no compensation. The governor, Danjuma Goje made it impossible for the case to be tried in the state. It was all by collusion. If you like, let’s keep deceiving ourselves here that things are well. The infiltration is already noticeable in Calabar, in South East and in these areas we have the problem of tribal divide. No consensus. The youths, almost 75 or 80 per cent of the country, are impoverished, they are disenfranchised, and they have no inheritance. The people who stole their inheritance, their great grand fathers are still alive-all the generals who are arguing against each other. The monies their grandchildren should spend they stole.

Outside Assistance, CAN Chairman

This one has an agenda and a motive. They are schooled somewhere, well funded locally and internationally. Unfortunately for us, the international funders right now are busy but once things are settled in the Middle East, more funding will come back to Nigeria. When the president of CAN called for the arrest of that general, uninformed ignorant people whose children may be slaughtered in future decried the position of the CAN president. As a special adviser to the CAN president, I can tell you that he has more information in his hands than he is allowed to speak to the public.

But whether you like it or not across all the northern states, the number of people killed in order to bring Jonathan Goodluck to power is maximum casualty figure we have never seen in Nigeria before. He rode him on a lot of bloodshed. The pattern of the killing even before the result was announced, the killing had started in the genera’s name. When the CAN president called for his arrest, he was not joking. It is just that the government lacked the moral courage to do what is right. They incited people. It was pre-planned, pre-medicated obviously and if you look at the target of the killing, as usual, you cannot say it was political. Even if you bring them out for political reason they will still do what they want to do. Isioma Daniel (who was your colleague) when she made a comment on Miss World, which buildings were burnt? Most of them were churches. What has a journalist’s comment on Miss World to do with maiming and killing of people. We are pretending as if this thing is not there but it is mopping up.

UN building bombing and Boko Haram

It was assumed that it is al Qaeda that bombed the UN building. It is more in consonance with al Qaeda. What Nigeria should have done is to first of all examine the explosives used and the methodology of the explosion-because every device has its own signature-and check it maybe it is in consonance with the more primitive ones that they mixed with internet instructions. The truth is that it is not the handiwork of Boko Haram. If we continue to call them Boko Haram, we are uniting 25 to 26 Islamic sects. We are encouraging their unity and helping the foreigners who are funding them to make their work fast. We should break away from calling them Boko Haram and the Nigerian Press must stand up to wage a war against their western counterparts, accusing them of neo-colonialism. If they can create an Islamic battlefront in Nigeria, they will come in from all around the world and Nigeria will fracture and the world will go on, just like Sudan for many years. Their vision is global. There are lots of radical preachers all over the county, they will teach freely for years and nobody ever disturbs them. They are protected by their governors and commissioners of police.

Do you think that it is in the interest of the west to create chaos in Nigeria?

If you are having problem in your country and the people causing problem in your country can move away from your country to another side, would it be in the interest of your own county to encourage the people of that country to learn their mistakes and turn their own land to a fertile ground. They will sell ammunition to both sides. Look at Libya, what is happening is a very interesting scenario. But my fear is the compromise of Nigerian interest. My own insistence is that whatever is going to happen to us, whatever co-operation we are going to have international with anybody; we don’t want Nigeria to be represented by bananas who will just throw away the national interest without even knowing what they are doing.

What do you mean?

Look at the UN Building bombing. The place has now been sequestered. Our inadequate facilities, our security systems, obviously, are highly unprepared for this kind of thing and they have yielded it to foreign government. Before you call in foreign assistance, you must think properly and think well. Because of the absence of enough intelligence to handle the problem we are now surrendering, but we should surrender with caution, because one or two moves like this, Nigeria will become the worst of. What makes you think that the nation’s security apparatus is not infiltrated? I will like you to go and supply me the list of Nigerian national security advisers from independence. If you can give me that list, let us sit down and scrutinise the lives of every one of them, their utterances in private, not in public; their business interests, their links all over the world. Someone put Nigeria in OIC single handedly. Are there not radicals in Nigeria who have been walking free simply because the orders come from above that nobody should arrest them? Who are the people supporting this no-arrest order? You better let people know what we are up against.

You think President Jonathan is incapable of handling this?

A farmer does not depend on good clock to bring about good harvest and food for us to eat. If a tailor depends on good luck to sew your cloth, when you are looking for a shirt you will end up with a dress. If a farmer does not look for good luck to give us to feed the nation, and a tailor does not depend on good luck to sew cloth, when it comes to certain matters good luck has its limitation. Instead, wise planning and intelligent thinking is what is needed. It’s not true that IGP is incompetent as people have been saying. We have a situation where the IG himself is more or less a junior to some of the commissioners of Police serving under him. Remember that some people stayed behind with the intent of helping him, are all of them loyal to him? Do we know where the loyalty of some of them lies? Is it possible for him to have as free hand with the kind of command he’s asked to handle? Is he given a free hand? The moment you politicize anything that had to do with security, you have fractured the chain of command. So, whereas, he may be a very competent officer but the structure he was asked to perform with may not help him.

Is that not enough reason to resign as people are calling on him to do?

You will have to interview him on that. Is it easy to resign? If he is your uncle will you ask him to resign?

What is the way forward out of the current logjam?

The leadership must first of all find the moral courage to understand the reason why we are prone to these things more other countries; to face the problem, diagnose it and call it by its real name so it can treat it. If leadership does not do that we are going to slide to the morass faster. That is one. Number two; this new problem, in other countries nobody is relying on old methodologies. In some countries, they call a new kind of war, because there is no text book answer. As I speak right now, all over the world, intelligence experts are just writing the text books to match this menace of terrorism, because it is a resurgence that has not be seen in many centuries. So, coming up with military intelligence to come and answer this problem is a waste of everybody’s time; coming up with DIGs to come and answer this, is a waste of everybody’s time. What we need is leadership with innovative thinking; people who can think out of the box; who understand the cultural, religious, political and the radical aspects of what we are talking about here; people who know how to recognize the different phases and to handle all the phases with equanimity. I give you an example; one of the things that making this thing spread faster is the lack of a consensus in Nigeria. The Chinese Constitution is about 2,000 words; the American is about 4,400 words but the Nigeria Constitution is in excesses of 74,000 words. Nigeria has never had a real constitution. What we call a constitution is not representative of the Nigerian people. There is no common agreement. The best country that Nigeria to align with right and it is going to be done with utmost wisdom, is USA-the only country that has had the same kind of history and experience and was successful to a point. They were also colonized by the British. Every offer that was given to Nigeria as we transited to independence was also offered the Americans but they rejected all. All the problems in the Nigerian foundation can find solution in the American history. There is something called the American declaration of independence, Nigeria does not have the equivalent of it. What is written there is very simple but very powerful, and you can build the country on it: “…All men are created equal before God and everybody is entitled to the pursuit of happiness….”

That is why you see that nobody jokes with liberty in the US. If you have 10 heads, everybody is equal. Three revolutions were fought by the Americans, all based on the original agreement. In Nigeria, is there any such document that says we are all equal and that everybody is entitled to the basics of life? We do not know the power of such words. America was able to overcome its colonial experience and build their nation properly. Nigeria is yet to that. We must work with America with caution, but there is a lot we can learn from them.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Algeria: Another Two Die, Nine Are Saved

(ANSAmed) — ALGERIA, SEPTEMBER 13 — The bodies of another two irregular immigrants attempting to reach the Italian coast have been recovered from the sea by Algeria’s coast guard, close to the trading port of Téne’s. According to a report by el Watan, the bodies are of two black Africans, probably from sub-Saharan countries. Their estimated ages are between 30 and 40 years.

Ahead of an official identification, the bodies have been transferred to the mortuary of Téne’s hospital.

In the meantime, news has arrived that on Saturday, nine “haragas”, all of them very young and originating from rural Talassa communities (of Chlef province), were rescued at sea from a certain death by the coast guard. They were travelling on board an improvised vessel and as the first rescuers report, were in a condition of serious malnutrition and were already dehydrated.

Having undergone first aid treatment, the nine were questioned by a public prosecutor who will decide whether charges should be brought against them (illegal migration is a criminal offence in Algeria).

The El Watan newspaper points out that Talassa is one of the poorest areas in the country and apart from its underdeveloped condition, it has also been the scene of terrorist activity

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Maroni: Tunisia Accord Works

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, SEPTEMBER 12 — The outcome of the accord aimed at combating illegal migration, which was signed with Tunisia in April has, according to Italy’s Interior Minister Roberto Maroni, been a totally positive one. Mr Maroni, who today completed a flying visit to the Tunisian capital, said on his way back to Italy that Tunisia’s commitment had borne fruit, showing how the North African country is worthy of the attention Italy has been paying to it as part of a more complex Euro-Mediterranean scenario.

The recent landings to be reported at the island of Lampedusa, in which many Tunisian migrants were involved, were isolated incidents which do not give rise to concern, the Minister said. The overall phenomenon, which we are constantly checking, leads us to judge the effectiveness of the accord with Tunisia positively. Mr Maroni added that it was his intention to develop this accord further from the point of view of security.

This, he explained, means that Italy’s relations with Tunisia should also take social aspects into account, as these underlie the phenomenon.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

The Netherlands to Veto Bulgaria, Romania’s Schengen Entry

The Netherlands will ‘work against’ a European decision on Romania and Bulgaria’s entry to the Schengen open border area, immigration minister Gerd Leers told parliament on Thursday evening, news agency ANP reports.

The European Commission is looking at the issue next week and the Netherlands will use its veto if it appears Bulgaria and Romania are to be admitted, Leers said.

Leers said in particular he is concerned that neither country is doing enough to combat corruption, a fact confirmed by a Commission report this summer.

Finland supports the Dutch position, ANP says.

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

UK: Lumley is Target of ‘Gurkha Town’ Facebook Hate Campaign

Joanna Lumley is being targeted in a Facebook hate campaign for her role in attracting huge numbers of Gurkhas to the country.

The star successfully campaigned for the soldiers and their families to be given a right to settle in Britain two years ago.

But the Gurkhas and their families now make up ten per cent of the population in Aldershot and residents say services are struggling to cope.


Our problem is not with the Gurkhas it is with the Government. If they matched the increase in residents with an increase in money and infrastructure there would not be a problem.’

The Gurkhas have been a part of the British Army for almost 200 years.


Within months of being granted permission to come to Britain, the veterans began arriving.

Many have settled in Aldershot and other towns with Nepalese communities or Army connections, including Reading, Folkestone, Colchester, and London.

The Lumley’s Legacy page says the town is ‘struggling’ to cope with an influx of approximately 9,000 Nepalese, many of whom are elderly and do not speak English. It describes them as a ‘drain’ on local services.

[Note from Egghead: It took less than two years for expensive elderly foreign immigrants to comprise 10% (and counting) of the population one mid-sized English city. How long will it take the highly-state-subsidized very fertile polygamous minor-marrying Muslims to outnumber the indigenous English people?]

           — Hat tip: Egghead[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

British Govt Aims to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage in 2015

(AGI) London- The British government is aiming to legalize same-sex marriage in 2015, superseding the current regime. The latter, which has been in force since 2005, only recognizes civil unions. The proposal has the support of deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s Liberal-Democrats but also that of Prime Minister David Cameron himself. The same cannot be said of the more conservative Tories.

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