Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110928

Financial Crisis
»EU Hushes Talk of Multi-Trillion Bail-Out Ahead of German Vote
»Greece: Investors in Hotel Industry Prefer to Wait-and-See
»Obama’s Euro-Crisis Lecture is ‘Pitiful and Sad’
»Petrol: Greek Prices Second Highest in Europe
»Federal Agents Charge Ashland Man With Targeting Pentagon, Capitol With Aerial Explosives
»Obama Administration Asks Justices to Rule Quickly on Health Law
Europe and the EU
»Belgium: Breaking Up is Hard to Do
»British Muslims Unwilling to Integrate Into British Society
»Germany’s Anti-Muslim Scene: Authorities Debate Surveillance of Islamophobes
»German Muslim Converts in UK Court on Terror Charges
»Germany: Dismantling Nuke Plants to Cost €18 Billion
»Ireland: Call for Welfare Pay Cap as Couple Claim €90k a Year
»Populist Extremism in Europe Here to Stay Report Says
»Sweden: Malmö Pleasure Boat in New Firebomb Attack
»Switzerland: They Take Away the Bulls to Bring Us the Moors
»UK Marching Banned — Govt Calls the Tune
»UK: Jailed Fraudster Had Hundreds of Fake IDs
»UK: Video: Police Ban Bible From Christian Café
»US, Russia and EU Gave Green Light for Cyprus Drilling
»Srdja Trifkovic: ‘KFOR Troops Exceeded Their Mandate in Kosovo’
North Africa
»Algerian Army Attacks Salafist Hideouts
»Egypt: Al-Azhar: “US Democracy, Example Not to Follow”
»Egyptian Christian Girl Banned From School for Not Wearing a Veil
»Libya: Islamic Groups Must be in Gov’t, Warns Military Chief
»Return of the Islamists: A Questionable Form of Freedom for North Africa
»Sarkozy in Tangier Tomorrow to Launch High-Speed Train
»Tunisia Sets Price for Pilgrimage to Mecca
»Tunisia: Religious Affairs Minister Rejects Burqa
Israel and the Palestinians
»Caroline Glick: A Prayer for 5772
Middle East
»Gulf: Lengthy Timeline and Uncertain Results
»Iran Nuclear Drive Heightens Risk of Strike: France
»Syria: Maronite Patriarch, Risk of Sunni-Alawite War
»Syria: Nuclear Engineer Murdered in Homs in Targeted Killing
»On the Hit List: Russia Hunts Down Chechen Terrorists Abroad
South Asia
»Following Terror Attacks, Kazakhstan Hurriedly Tightens Religious Law
»Pakistan’s Jihad Against the USA
Far East
»China to Launch 1st Space Lab Module on Thursday
»US & China: Space Race or Cosmic Cooperation?
»60,000 Land in 2011, 51,000 on Pelagie Islands
»Asylum Seekers From Arab Spring Pour Into Europe
»EP: OK to 43.9 Mln Euros More for Target States
»France: Six Dead in Paris Immigrant Squat Fire
»The Left is Rewriting Britain’s Immigration History
Culture Wars
»Dress Witches in Pink and Avoid White Paper to Prevent Racism in Nuseries, Expert Says
»Facebook Privacy Issues: Social Network Watching When You’re Logged Out
»‘We Didn’t Mean to Track You’ Says Facebook as Social Network Giant Admits to ‘Bugs’ In New Privacy Row”

Financial Crisis

EU Hushes Talk of Multi-Trillion Bail-Out Ahead of German Vote

European politicians are trying to avoid too much talk of a multi-trillion-euro revamp of the eurozone’s crisis strategy ahead of a crunch vote in the German parliament, with the German finance minister denying plans for such an increase to the bail-out fund and French ministers saying it is necessary to stay quiet until after the vote.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt[Return to headlines]

Greece: Investors in Hotel Industry Prefer to Wait-and-See

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, SEPTEMBER 28 — Potential investors in the Greek hotel industry are currently taking a wait-and-see stance due to the prevailing feeling of uncertainty with regard to the local economy, as daily Kathimerini reports. According to Andreas Andreadis, president of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE), while a number of hotels are currently up for sale, no major transactions have been recorded so far, with few exceptions. For instance, while about 15 hotels of all categories have gone on the market in the region of Thessaloniki in the last two years, only one sale was made, at a particularly low price. “At this point in time, it is predominantly Balkan and Russian investors who are showing an interest in the purchase of tourist accommodation,” noted Andreadis. This is also due to the fact that certain areas in northern Greece are no longer defined as high-security border zones where foreigners are not able to purchase property.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Obama’s Euro-Crisis Lecture is ‘Pitiful and Sad’

US President Obama has given the Europeans a harsh lecture on the dangers of their ongoing debt crisis. Offended by the unsolicited advice, Europeans have suggested the US get its own house in order first. Obama’s remarks were “arrogant” and “absurd” German commentators say on Wednesday.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt[Return to headlines]

Petrol: Greek Prices Second Highest in Europe

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, SEPTEMBER 28 — Greek motorists paid the second highest price for unleaded and diesel petrol in Europe in September, ANA reports citing a survey by EL.PA, the Hellenic Motorists Association. The report showed that Holland (1.737 euros per litre), Greece (1.657), Portugal (1.618), Italy (1.603), France (1.552) and Ireland (1.429) recorded the highest prices, while Byelorussia (0.660), Kosovo (1.23), Luxembourg (1.118), Spain (1.25) and Austria (1.344) recorded the lowest prices for unleaded petrol. Greece (1.451 euros per litre), Germany (1.45), Belgium (1.463), Portugal (1.412), Italy (1.475), Ireland (1.399) and France (1.343) recorded the highest prices while Andorra (1.099) and Luxembourg (1.159) the lowest diesel petrol prices.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Federal Agents Charge Ashland Man With Targeting Pentagon, Capitol With Aerial Explosives

Federal authorities today arrested and charged a 26-year-old Ashland man with plotting to damage the Pentagon and US Capitol with a remote-controlled aircraft filled with C-4 plastic explosives.

Rezwan Ferdaus, a US citizen, was also charged with attempting to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization, specifically to al-Qaida, in order to carry out attacks on US soldiers stationed overseas, the US attorney’s office said in a statement.

He apppeared for an initial status hearing today in US District Court in Worcester. Prosecutors are seeking that he be detained without bail until his trial. A detention hearing will be held at 3:30 p.m. Monday.

“The conduct alleged today shows that Mr. Ferdaus had long planned to commit violent acts against our country,” US Attorney Carmen Ortiz said. “Thanks to the diligence of the FBI and our many other law enforcement partners, that plan was thwarted.”

She added, “I want the public to understand that Mr. Ferdaus’ conduct, as alleged in the complaint, is not reflective of a particular culture, community or religion. In addition to protecting our citizens from the threats and violence alleged today, we also have an obligation to protect members of every community, race, and religion against violence and other unlawful conduct.”

The statement said that the public was never in danger from the explosive devices, which were controlled by undercover FBI employees.

Ferdaus also was closely monitored as his alleged plot developed and undercover agents were in frequent contact with him.

Federal prosecutors said that Ferdaus, a Northeastern University graduate with a physics degree, began planning to commit violent “jihad” against the US in early 2010.

He allegedly obtained mobile phones and modified them to act as switches for improvised explosive devices, and provided them to FBI undercover agents, believing the devices would be used against US soldiers overseas. Prosecutors said that in a June 2011 meeting, he “appeared gratified” when he was told that one of his triggers had killed three US soldiers and injured four or five others in Iraq.

“That’s exactly what I wanted,” Ferdaus allegedly said. Ferdaus delivered more of the devices and was anxious each time to know if they had worked and how many Americans had been killed.

In recorded conversations beginning in January, Ferdaus allegedly also told a cooperating witness that he planned to attack the Pentagon using aircraft similar to “small drone airplanes” laden with explosives and guded by GPS devies.

In April, he allegedly expanded his plans to include attacking the US Capitol. In May and June, he allegedly delivered two thumb drives to agents that contained detailed plans of his proposed attacks.

In May, he allegedly traveled to Washington, conducting surveillance and taking photos of targets, as well as his proposed launch site, East Potomac Park. He told an undercover agent after his Washington visit that he wanted to couple his “aerial assault” with an armed ground attack, involving six people with automatic firearms.

Between May and September, prosecutors said, he ordered and acquired materials for his plans, including a remote controlled aircraft. He also received from undercover agents on Tuesday “(what he believed to be) C-4 explosives, six fully-automatic AK-47 assault rifles (machine guns) and grenades,” prosecutors said in a statement.

“Although Ferdaus was presented with multiple opportunities to back out of his plan, including being told that his attack would likely kill women and children … Ferdaus never wavered in his desire to carry out the attacks,” prosecutors said.

Richard DesLauriers, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston Division said, “Today’s arrest was the culmination of an investigation forged through strong relationships among various Massachusetts law enforcement agencies to detect, deter, and prevent terrorism.”

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Obama Administration Asks Justices to Rule Quickly on Health Law

The Obama administration asked the Supreme Court on Wednesday to hear a case concerning the 2010 health care overhaul law. The development came unexpectedly fast and makes it all but certain that the court will soon agree to hear one or more cases involving challenges to the law, with arguments by the spring and a decision by June, in time to land in the middle of the 2012 presidential campaign.

The Justice Department said the justices should hear its appeal of a decision by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, that struck down the centerpiece of the law by a 2-to-1 vote.

[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Belgium: Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Ryan James Girdusky

While Europe sovereign debt crisis has been the center of world news, a separate quandary has also been taking place in Europe. The nation of Belgium has been without a government since June 1, 2010 — nearly 500 days — surpassing Iraq and Cambodia to break the world record. Greece may have a lesson to teach America about spending and debt, but Belgium’s lesson on multiculturalism may be more important.

The crisis is between the Wallonia region in the south and the Flemish region in the north the former is French speaking and the latter is Dutch. The conflict centers on the long standing cultural differences: linguistic, socio-economic, and ethnic. This comes despite the liberal establishment’s best efforts over the last half century to convince us that culture doesn’t matter.

During the last election, the New Flemish Alliance, a pro-secession party, won the largest share of the nation’s Chamber of Representatives, 27 out of 150 seats. The other secession parties, the Flemish Interest Party won 12 seats and the List Dedecker which has 1 seat. Essentially 27% of the elected officials in Belgium’s lower house support partition. With the remaining political parties unable to form a clear majority due to ideological and cultural differences, the Belgium government went on hiatus. Negotiations for a coalition government have been underway ever since. Last week, Elio Di Rupo, leader of the Socialist Party, stated that the eight party talks were close to reaching an agreement and a coalition government. If a new government is not formed, elections will most likely be held within the next year. Many Belgians, including the Belgian King Albert II, fear new elections would only widen the Flemish separatists majorities.

Regardless if a coalition government can be formed, Belgium has been on the road to dissolution since 2007. That marked the first time that a secession party won a large share of the Flemish electorate. The Walloon electorate’s majority was the Reformist Movement. Debate raged between the two along the lines of cultural issues; ultimately Belgium went six months without an interim government. Despite Belgium’s economic stability in comparison to most other European countries, there is a long standing desire for a nationhood amongst the Flemish people.

In the case of Flanders independence, The Walloon Rally, a pro-secession Wallonia party, has already met with French officials from France’s two ruling parties, coming to the agreement that Wallonia would become the 28th region of France. According to a poll by the French newspaper Le Figaro, roughly half of Walloons and two-thirds of French citizens support such a plan. This would mark the first time two-thirds of the French have agreed on anything since the guillotine. 41% of all citizens in the Flemish part of Belgium supported pro-secession parties despite newspapers claiming the actual support for secession is much lower…

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

British Muslims Unwilling to Integrate Into British Society


The majority of British Muslims do not want to adopt the traditions of the local population. According to WikiLeaks, up to 40 percent of Muslim students in Britain want to live under shariah laws. As many as 32 percent of them are ready to justify a murder committed in the name of Allah. More than a half of the polled said that they would like to see the Islamic Party in the House of Commons of the British Parliament.

Many members of the Muslim Brotherhood found shelter in the British capital. This radical organization is still banned in many Arab states. The administration of the Syrian division of the organization moved to London in 2000….

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Germany’s Anti-Muslim Scene: Authorities Debate Surveillance of Islamophobes

Officials from the BfV, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, will discuss the country’s increasingly vocal Islamophobe scene at a meeting on Thursday. There have been calls to put right-wing populist and anti-Muslim groups under increased surveillance.

Islamophobes in Germany could come under increased surveillance by the country’s domestic intelligence agency. There are concerns that the anti-Muslim scene is becoming increasingly dangerous, and some intelligence officials want it to be subject to greater scrutiny, despite stringent German privacy laws.

The subject will be discussed at a meeting on Thursday between the president of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Heinz Fromm, and the agency’s leaders in the 16 German states. Officials in Bavaria are considering putting right-wing populists under observation as a new form of extremism, while Hamburg has declared it is watching an internet discussion forum similar to anti-Islamic website “Politically Incorrect” (PI).

A spokesman from the North Rhine-Westphalia interior ministry told the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper that PI was not currently under observation by intelligence agents, but that the blog was being read closely and that the opinions and comments published on it were “undemocratic.” The xenophobic comments were calculated to “incite young people”, the spokesman added.

Most states are reluctant, however, and the federal interior ministry has also not yet committed itself on the matter. In essence, the question is whether the hatred of Muslims is enough to endanger freedom of religion and international understanding — or whether it is a radical but legitimate expression of opinion by individual authors within the limits of the constitution.

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

German Muslim Converts in UK Court on Terror Charges

Two German converts to Islam appeared at England’s central criminal court on Monday charged with having information which could be of use in terrorism. Christian Emde, 28, and Robert Baum, 23, appeared at the Old Bailey court in central London. They were arrested at the port of Dover on England’s southeast coast on July 15. The pair, from the city of Solingen in western Germany, were alleged to have had the material on a computer and a hard-drive. Emde was further charged with four offences under Britain’s Terrorism Act, relating to literature with titles such as “Destroying Buildings” and “Make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom”. The pair appeared in court wearing black prayer caps and refused to stand up for the judge when he entered the room. They were remanded in custody to face trial in February, possibly at the top-security Woolwich Crown Court in southeast London. They will next appear in court in December for a plea and management hearing.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Germany: Dismantling Nuke Plants to Cost €18 Billion

Just dismantling Germany’s nuclear power plants during the country’s phaseout from nuclear energy will cost power companies about €18 billion alone, according to a new study by a consulting firm. The study by the Arthur D. Little firm, seen by newspaper Handelsblatt, comes after German energy companies have complained about the cost and complexity of the phaseout.

The government made the decision to phase out nuclear power by 2022 in the wake of the Japanese earthquake and nuclear disaster earlier this year. The country is aiming to move toward greener energy solutions. The move has been controversial, with many opponents warning that it could lead to power shortages and higher prices for consumers. Another study has estimated that total costs to Germany from the phaseout could hit €250 billion over the next decade.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt[Return to headlines]

Ireland: Call for Welfare Pay Cap as Couple Claim €90k a Year

A SENATOR has urged that a cap on social welfare payments be introduced after it emerged a family of four is claiming over €90,000 a year.

The unemployed married couple, who take home €1,763 a week, have four children and live in Dublin. They are originally from Bosnia.

Labour Senator Jimmy Harte called for a cap on the amount of welfare payments a family can receive.

Mr Harte, who received the information from Department of Social Protection officials, said that €50,000 is more than enough for a family to survive on.

“It doesn’t matter if this family is from Bosnia or Ballymun — this is far too much. The family is doing nothing illegal, but the system is wrong when a couple are able to receive €90,000 per year for doing nothing.

“There are married couples out there with two good jobs, working very hard and are not receiving anything like this.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Populist Extremism in Europe Here to Stay Report Says

By Aron Lamm

Extremist parties with a populist and xenophobic agenda “present one of the most pressing challenges to European democracies”, according to a new report from Chatham House.

The report says extremist supporters have often been dismissed as a motley band of economically deprived malcontents who are united only in their dissatisfaction with the way things are, but this is an inaccurate assessment. It shows that people who are drawn to populist extremist parties are anchored in specific social groups and share a specific feeling: Their culture is under threat from immigration and multiculturalism. And they are not likely to go away soon.

Titled “Right Response,” the report is a serious attempt to investigate not only what these parties across all parts of Europe are about, but also who votes for them and why. Furthermore, it seeks to answer the uncomfortable question of whether there is broader appeal for the messages these parties spread. Finally, it gives some recommendations about how traditional parties that have often done a poor job in facing this challenge, can do better

European populist extremism-as the report chooses to label it-encompasses very different parties. They range from large and influential parties, some of which have even been in government such as FPO in Austria, to small groups, which cannot get elected to national parliaments. They are also very different in their political views. Some, such as the True Finns in Finland, are fairly moderate, center-right with some extremist elements among them, while others, such as the German NPD, are more openly racist and considered by many to be neo-Nazis.

They have emerged in three waves, according to studies quoted in the report: One directly following World War II, where overt fascist or Nazi ideas lived on; one in the ‘70s which was largely an anti-tax populist movement; and again in the mid ‘80s, from which support has slowly grown and become more durable. In recent years even countries like Sweden, reportedly immune to these kinds of parties, have found them in their parliaments nonetheless.

What unites these parties, according to the report, is their opposition to immigration plus their attacks on the establishment, and traditional parties, for being corrupt, distant, and not listening to the people. Their voters, on the other hand, are united by deep hostility toward immigration, multiculturalism, and ethnic diversity. Supporters of extremist parties are, on the whole, not irrational, but guided by a deep concern about these issues, although their views may seem distasteful to the majority, the report says.

Supporters also represent a relatively homogenous group of very young or very old males from lower middle or working classes, with little or no education and who are “deeply pessimistic about their economic prospects.” Culture Unity Concerns

Another popular myth about supporters of populist extremist parties, or PEP’s as the report calls them, is that they are mainly concerned about the economy, particularly the loss of jobs, the lowering of salaries, and overloading of the welfare system due to immigration. Surveys have instead shown that the single most important issue for these voters is their perception that their culture is under attack from foreign elements. Cultural unity issues were discovered to be nine times as important as concerns about crimes and five times as important as concerns about national economy.

Ever since 9/11, many of these parties have targeted Muslims and Islam, although some, specifically in Eastern Europe, still focus more on Roma and Jews in their xenophobic rhetoric and policies. Today, many of the parties are riding on a wave of anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe, which is much broader than their own voter support. For instance, according to a 2011 survey, just under half of British, German, Italian, Polish, and Dutch respondents agreed with the statement, “There are too many Muslims in the country,” and even more than half agreed, “Islam is a religion of intolerance.”

According to the report, mainstream parties have banked a little too much on extremist parties fading away as economies improve, immigration policies are tightened, or as their charismatic leaders step down. But the PEP’s of Europe have shown themselves to be more resistant perhaps, as surveys over the years have indicated, because immigration remains an important issue to many Europeans. Thus extremist parties have a favorable environment to work in.

The report recommends that politicians stop ignoring or excluding these parties, but also warns against adopting extremist policies in the hope of winning over their supporters. Instead, the report suggests engagement at the grass-roots level and, at the same time, interaction at the international level in the way many of these parties have been doing for the past two decades. “Until the mainstream parties similarly begin to exchange lessons, root their responses in the evidence, and address the actual anxieties of PEP voters, populist extremists will continue to rally support among a new generation of citizens,” the authors of the report state.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Malmö Pleasure Boat in New Firebomb Attack

The Prins Bernhard pleasure boat moored by Skeppsbron in Malmö was targeted in a firebomb attack on Tuesday night, the second attack on the vessel this year.

Witnesses saw a person throw a fire bomb towards the boat and then run away. The attacker however aimed his throw poorly and the bomb landed on the outside of the ramp leading up to the boat. The firebomb caused a minor fire but otherwise caused little damage. The pleasure boat, a popular venue for parties and events, was closed and empty at the time of the attack. Early on Wednesday morning nobody had yet been detained in the case.

The Prins Bernhard was previously targeted on May 16th when a loud explosion rocked Malmö’s town centre after an explosive had been detonated at the boat’s entrance. The door was forced in by the blast and there was a small fire. On that occasion the fire was extinguished by a door guard who was passing by. The boat was on that occasion also closed for the day and no one was hurt. Tuesday night’s bomb is the latest in a long list of explosions at restaurants in Malmö since the beginning of 2010. All of them occurred at night.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt[Return to headlines]

Switzerland: They Take Away the Bulls to Bring Us the Moors

The vice president of pro-immigrant organization Secondos Plus has infuriated far-right politicians and others in Switzerland with his “humorous” calls for a new Swiss flag, contributor Meritzell Mir reports.

What started as a joke to provoke reflection on Swiss values has turned into a nightmare for Ivica Petrusic and Secondos Plus, an association for children of immigrants born in the country.

More than a month ago, Petrusic, the vice president of the lobby group, suggested the cross should be removed from the Swiss flag to bring it more in line with today’s “multicultural Switzerland.” In two recent interviews, Petrusic sought to defuse the issue. Instead, debate flared anew and now Petrusic faces threats from groups on the extreme-right.

During the presentation of the association’s candidates for the National Council on August 23rd, Petrusic made a remark about the city of Aarau, where he lives, and which once was the short-lived capital of the Helvetian Republic. There, for a short period in Switzerland’s history, foreigners had the right to vote. Afterwards, he brought up the former flag of the Confederation, a three-striped banner in green, red and yellow. The next day, his remarks made it into the news and were reported in the manner he insists they were intended: as a joke.

“All Petrusic was trying to do was get people’s attention through humour in order to make them reflect on the values of Switzerland, the past and the future,” Daniel Ordás, a Secondos Plus board member, told The Local. The association has more than 400 members, and the majority hold a Swiss passport.

Yvette Estermann, an SVP lawmaker, said the statement made by Petrusic shows “disrespect” towards Switzerland. She wondered “if the next thing will be to abolish Christian churches” in the country.

“As a way of getting people’s attention, it is a good move, but the problem is that this group is involved in politics, so this is outrageous,” said Estermann, an immigrant from Slovakia herself.

“It is unacceptable that immigrants give orders to their host country on what it has to do,” she told The Local. Estermann also leads the conservative immigrants group Neu Heimat Schweiz (Switzerland New Homeland).


           — Hat tip: LG[Return to headlines]

UK Marching Banned — Govt Calls the Tune

The UK government has granted police the right to prevent far-right groups from marching through five London boroughs for 30 days, prompting concerns that a dangerous precedent has been set in terms of police power and freedom of expression.

Scotland Yard says it applied for the ban over fears of violence and disorder planned by the English Defence League earlier this month.

The view of workers’ rights activists on the Home Office ban on marching is quite clear. “It is an attack on the basic democratic rights of working people in this country,” says Patrick O’Regan from the Workers’ Revolutionary Party.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Jailed Fraudster Had Hundreds of Fake IDs

An immigration fraudster, who was caught with a cache of fake identities at Belfast docks, has been jailed for 18 months.

Fayyaz Ahmed, a 54-year-old Pakistani national, was arrested while trying to board a ferry in February.

He had three computer memory sticks and two mobile phones containing more than 700 false and fraudulently altered documents.

They could have been used to produce dozens of false identities.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Video: Police Ban Bible From Christian Café

Police in Lancashire have told the owner of a Christian café to stop displaying Bible texts on a video screen, because it breaches public order laws.

Officers attended the Salt & Light Coffee House on Layton Road, Blackpool, on Monday 19 September, following a complaint about “insulting” and “homophobic” material.

The café’s owner, Mr Jamie Murray, says the officers did not specify which Bible texts had caused the offence.


He says the officers told him that displaying offensive or insulting words is a breach of Section 5 of the Public Order Act, and told him to stop displaying the Bible.

The Bible texts are displayed on a TV screen at the back of the café. Mr Murray uses a set of DVDs called the Watchword Bible.

The DVDs cycle through the whole of the New Testament verse by verse, with the words appearing on the screen. Mr Murray mutes the audio.


He told the police officers he would agree to stop displaying the Bible verses while he sought legal advice. After speaking with a lawyer, he is once again displaying the material.

The café’s name, Salt & Light, is a quote from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Christian leaflets are available in the café, and it has links with a local church.

Mr Murray is being supported by The Christian Institute, a national charity that defends the religious liberty of Christians.

Free speech

There is widespread concern that the police are misusing the law to clamp down on words or material that others may find “insulting”. Civil rights groups worry about the impact on free speech.

The Christian Institute is calling for the word “insulting” to be removed from Section 5 of the Public Order Act — a proposal supported by the National Secular Society, two civil rights groups Liberty and Justice, and Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights.

A backbench amendment to remove the word “insulting” from the Section 5 offence has been tabled in the House of Commons as part of the Protection of Freedoms Bill. The Home Office has promised to consult on the change, but suggests the problem may be better dealt with by advice to police officers and improvements in police training.


Mr Murray said: “I couldn’t believe the police were saying I can’t display the Bible. The officers were not very polite, in fact they were quite aggressive. It felt like an interrogation.

“I said ‘surely it isn’t a crime to show the Bible?’ But they said they had checked with their sergeant and insulting words are a breach of Section 5 of the Public Order Act. I was shocked.

“I’m not here to insult or offend anyone, but the Bible is the Bible. We’re always being told that we’re a tolerant and diverse nation. Yet the very thing that gave us those values — Christianity — is being sidelined.


“I’m not looking to make a name for myself, I’d rather be quietly getting on with running my café. But there comes a time when you have to say enough is enough.”


           — Hat tip: LG[Return to headlines]

US, Russia and EU Gave Green Light for Cyprus Drilling

(ANSAmed) — NICOSIA, SEPTEMBER 28 — The United States, Russia and the European Union all urged Cyprus to not delay with drilling for natural resources, the director of the Cyprus’ energy services Solon Kassinis has said today. It had been claimed that the Cyprus’ government was considering postponing explorations after a series of threats from Ankara. Kassinis, who was speaking on CyBC TV, added that an Israeli plot next to the Cyprus plot has 450 trillion cubic metres of natural gas. He added that within the next few months Cyprus will have an indication of the volume of reserves in her Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Srdja Trifkovic: ‘KFOR Troops Exceeded Their Mandate in Kosovo’

[See link for video]

The impartiality of KFOR troops in Kosovo is highly questionable, but the current clashes there won’t escalate into a full-scale conflict as Belgrade fails to follow Serbian national interests, believes foreign affairs author Srdja Trifkovic.

­The recent developments near Kosovo border, with extra NATO peacekeepers moving in to help bring calm, but provoking armed clashes instead bring Trifkovic — a foreign affairs editor in US ‘Chronicles’ magazine — to question their neutrality.

“It is rather ironic that we use the term ‘peacekeepers’, because is implies someone who is impartial, who is there to lower the tension, perhaps to prevent violence. Let us imagine — for argument’s sake — that Bashar Assad has sent his security forces against a group of Syrian demonstrators, and those troops were met with stones; they fired live ammunition back, and then claimed they did it in self-defense. I think that already we can hear the laughter of Western politicians and media. And yet they would have us believe that they were acting in self-defence, when firing rubber bullets and live ammunition at rock-throwing Serbs,” Trifkovic told RT..

“But what were they doing there in the first place? The notion that they were helping [Kosovo Prime-minister Hasim] Thaçi to impose his control on the border between Kosovo and Serbia, which should be properly called administrative dividing line, means they have exceeded their mandate and were no longer acting according to the resolution 1244, which is just about the only legal basis of their presence.”

He went on to recall the events of 2004, when Albanians rampaged through some regions of Kosovo destroying whole Serb districts and Christian monuments…

           — Hat tip: Srdja Trifkovic[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algerian Army Attacks Salafist Hideouts

(ANSAmed) — ALGERIA, SEPTEMBER 28 — In the forests between Legata and Chouicha an Algerian army operation which began on Sunday, is still underway against posts held by the brigade answering to “Emir” Droukdel (nom de guerre taken on by Abu Moussaab Abdelouadoud), one of the most violent representatives of the disbanded Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat.

Yesterday, after two were killed on Sunday and Monday, another four militants lost their lives. However, the joint operation between the Army and security forces is continuing with the aim of “clearing up” an area in which the presence of terrorists has long been widespread. Aircraft have bombed some of the terrorists’ hideouts and the zone is surrounded and being closed in on, a move which according to sources quoted by Le Temps d’Algerie began when information came in on the movement of terrorists into the Legata forests. The operation may be connected with an incident which happened last week in a village not far from the zone of operation, when a group of terrorists severely injured a woman and her child in an ambush. It had been an error, since the two victims were travelling in a vehicle identical to that of a former member of self-defense groups who the terrorists had wanted to eliminate.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Al-Azhar: “US Democracy, Example Not to Follow”

(ANSAmed) — ROME, SEPTEMBER 28 — “United States democracy is not an example to follow”. So said Ahmad Attayyeb, the religious head of Cairo’s Islamic Academy of Al-Azhar, the leading Sunni religious authority in the Islamic world. Attayyeb was speaking as he welcomed the US ambassador to Egypt, Anne Paterson, who was wearing the traditional woman’s headscarf, the hijab, for the occasion.

According to the Emirati daily Al Khaleej, the head of Al-Azhar expressed his indignation and bitterness at the spreading of Islamophobia, and called for the phenomenon to be checked, saying that it is against all rules of democracy and goes against the diversity that is typical of free society.

“Arab and Muslim populations have no problem with the American people,” he said. “The real problem is in the policies of successive American administrations with regard to Islamic issues”.

Talking about the Palestinian issue, Attayyeb criticised America’s complete partiality in favour of Israel (which he called a “Zionist entity”). “This partiality reinforces hatred and the futility for the American administration of taking a fit and proper stance. American partiality will increase Al-Azhar’s determination to defend and support the Palestinian people they have an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital”.

Attayyeb remarked that real democracy comes from the people expressing their desires. “We completely reject the generous financial support given by the EU and the United States to associations that are concerned with unimportant things, while vital issues such as education, poverty and disease are ignored,” he said. “The revolutions and the Arab spring have been born out of the pure desire of the people, and not the financing of the West in general and America in particular, for the creation of a democratic process in the region”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Egyptian Christian Girl Banned From School for Not Wearing a Veil

by Mary Abdelmassih

(AINA) — A Christian girl was prevented for over a week from entering her school in Beni Mazar, Minya province, because she refused to wear a veil. “The school management described her as ‘flaunt’ for not covering her hair,” said Coptic activist Nader Shoukry, who uncovered the story.

“Coptic students were forced to obey for fear of the school management’s threats,” said Mr. Wagdy Halfa, the attorney for the girl, “except for 14-year-old Ferial Sorial Habib, whose family refused this decision because it is inconsistent with religious freedom and a blatant Islamization of education.”

Ferial was prevented from entering her school by the social worker, Ms. Ola Abdel Fattah, for eight consecutive days.

Her father went to school on September 17 to protest this decision, but the school filed a police complaint against him on charges of libel and defamation.

Mr. Wagdy Halfa, the student’s attorney, said the school administration of Shaikh Fadl Secondary School, a public school in Bani Mazar, had sent a warning to Christian students compelling them to wear a head dress, similar to the Hijab, and not to reveal their hair, otherwise they would be refused entry to school.

Ferial’s father filed a formal complaint with the state attorney and another with the Department of Education of Bani Mazar, stating the school has turned into a “hotbed of militants” and has acted out of its legal scope by forcing on students what is not specified by law or in the educational guidelines. He asked the authorities to investigate this incident.

According to attorney Halfa schools are only allowed to choose the color of the uniform. He warned of the seriousness of the incident as it confirms the Islamist program to take control of the education system and impose the veil on Christian women.

Activist Nader Shoukry recalls a similar incident which took place in 2010 in a secondary school for girls in Ayat, Guiza province. In that case human rights organizations which stand against the Islamization of education took the matter up, which was investigated and those responsible were transferred from their posts.

Appearing on Coptic TV Channel on September 25, Halfa said “the school is ready to allow the student to go back to school but only on an ‘amicable’ basis and not through ‘administrative prosecution,’ but her father and I objected.”

“This is a matter that cannot kept quiet or resolved by ‘reconciliation.’“ said Shoukry, “It has to be taken up by rights organizations.”

Said Abdalmaseeh, director of the Egyptian Center for Development and Human Rights, presented a complaint yesterday to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Education, calling on them to legally respond to the school’s actions, to allow the Coptic student to attend school, and issue instructions to all schools that wearing the veil is optional and not mandatory.

The Zurich-based European Union for Coptic Human Rights Organizations has sent a formal request to the Egyptian Minister of Education, demanding an investigation of the Bani Mazar school incident.

           — Hat tip: Mary Abdelmassih[Return to headlines]

Libya: Islamic Groups Must be in Gov’t, Warns Military Chief

(ANSAmed) — ROME, SEPTEMBER 28 — Libyan Islamic groups “will not allow” some secular politicians to exclude them from the Tripoli government. The message by one of the most powerful Islamic leaders in the country, the military chief Abdel Hakim Belhaj, is clear. “We must resist,” he told the Guardian, “the attempt by some politicians to exclude some of the groups which took part in the revolution. Their short-sighted form of politics renders them unable to understand the high risk of this exclusion and the serious reaction” which could be seen by “those excluded”. The National Transitional Council has not yet managed to form a government, with sharps divisions within it. Yesterday the NTC once again postponed the formation of the new government, announcing that it would be created only after the complete liberation of the country.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Return of the Islamists: A Questionable Form of Freedom for North Africa

The autocrats are gone, but who will inherit power in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt? Islamist influence is significant across the region and conservative political groups are flexing their muscles. The coming months will determine just how much democracy North Africa can support.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt[Return to headlines]

Sarkozy in Tangier Tomorrow to Launch High-Speed Train

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, SEPTEMBER 28 — King Mohammed VI has invited the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy to the Moroccan city of Tangier tomorrow for the ceremony marking the beginning of work on the high-speed train line between Tangier and Casablanca.

The news was announced in a statement from the Elysée Palace.

Sarkozy will be joined on the trip by France’s Minister of Industry, Eric Besson, the Transport Minister, Thierry Mariani and the Secretary of State for Foreign Trade, Pierre Lellouche.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tunisia Sets Price for Pilgrimage to Mecca

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, SEPTEMBER 28 — The total price for Tunisians who want to make the pilgrimage to Mecca this year has been established at 6012 dinars (around three thousand euros). The price for the upcoming pilgrimage was set by the Ministry for Religious Affairs, which has special authority to do so. The Ministry has also specified that 1330 dinars will be spent on ticket acquisition, the rest for accommodations and transfers in the Islam’s holy places.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Religious Affairs Minister Rejects Burqa

(ANSAmed) — TUNISIA, SEPTEMBER 28 — The road has been barred for burqas in a Tunisia which over the past few months — since the fall of the secular dictatorship of Ben Ali — has seen heated debate over relations between the State and religion. On this matter Religious Affairs Minister Laroussi Mizouri has left no room for doubt. In an interview with the Shems radio station, in addition to discussing religious instruction and respect for mosques (which he said were “under threat”) as a place of worship, Mizouri closed the door on authorising the use of burqas in Tunisia: “it does not belong to the Tunisian tradition”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Caroline Glick: A Prayer for 5772

Upon his return to Ramallah from New York, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was greeted by a crowd of several thousand well-wishers. They applauded him for his speech at the UN. There, Abbas erased Jewish history from the Land of Israel, denied Israel’s right to exist and pledged his commitment to establish a racist Palestinian state ethnically cleansed of all Jews.

Many of Abbas’s supporters in Ramallah held posters of US President Barack Obama. On them Obama was portrayed as a monkey. The caption read, “The First Jewish President of the United States.”…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Gulf: Lengthy Timeline and Uncertain Results

(ANSAmed) — DOHA, SEPTEMBER 28 — Citizens in the Gulf Countries are becoming the largest energy consumers in the world. With a 10% increase in energy demand per year, many GCC countries are making preparations to invest in nuclear energy to cover their energy needs and to diversify, thereby reducing their dependence from oil and gas, sources that will not last forever. Four hundred billion dollars are earmarked to be invested in nuclear energy projects in the Middle East. The United Arab Emirates are already building four nuclear reactors, which will be ready in 2017.

Gulf Country citizens have not been given the chance to vote for or against nuclear development, but a broad debate is in progress on the safety of nuclear energy, as well as on its effective capacity to satisfy energy demand and the possibility of developing weapons of mass destruction.

The dual nature of nuclear energy is caused by the fact that the development of this form of energy for peaceful purposes allows countries to buy materials like enriched uranium and plutonium, which could also be used for the construction of weapons of mass destruction.

“The shift from a civilian to a military use of nuclear energy is complex but possible if the political will is there, if large investments are made and if technology is developed that is not crucial for the development of nuclear energy for peaceful use,” said Mario Salve, professor in Nuclear Installations of the Engineering Faculty, Energy Department of the Turin Polytechnic.

But if nuclear energy is developed following the indications of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the transition from peaceful to military use is very complex and ever less feasible, Salve added.

Regarding the capacity of nuclear energy to satisfy growing energy demand in the Gulf Countries, many people believe that it takes too long to develop this energy source and that the results will not be satisfactory. For example, the United Arab Emirates are building four nuclear reactors which will produce 5,600 Megawatt of power after their completion in 2017, just 15% of national energy requirements. On the other hand, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) believes that nuclear energy will cover 30% of the energy demand in the Emirates by 2020.

Many people see this figure as very optimistic, and still too low to run the risks of a nuclear accident, as the ones that took place in Fukushima and Chernobyl.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Iran Nuclear Drive Heightens Risk of Strike: France

UNITED NATIONS — France’s UN envoy warned that Iran faces the risk of a military strike if it pursues its nuclear drive because certain countries would not accept it having an atomic weapon.

In surprisingly frank comments at a New York panel discussion, Ambassador Gerard Araud on Tuesday followed up on President Nicolas Sarkozy’s statement that there could be a “preventive strike” against the Islamic republic.

Asked what would happen if Iran reaches the threshold of a nuclear weapon, Araud said: “Personally I am convinced that some countries won’t accept this prospect.”

The envoy said the danger of conflict was why France, Britain, Germany, the United States, Russia and China were trying to negotiate with Tehran.

“If we don’t succeed today to reach a negotiation with the Iranians, there is a strong risk of military action,” according to Araud, who did not say who would be likely to carry out such action.

“It would be a very complicated operation. It would have disastrous consequences in the region,” said the ambassador, who has negotiated with Iran in the past.

“All the Arab countries are extremely worried about what is happening” with Iran’s nuclear drive, he added.

Western leaders have repeatedly accused Iran of seeking a nuclear bomb, and the UN Security Council has passed four rounds of sanctions against the Islamic Republic, which Araud said are now biting.

Iran insists its nuclear enrichment program is entirely peaceful and has refused to halt enrichment or allow inspections demanded by the international community.

It has also objected to Sarkozy’s “preventive strike” comments, and said it would hit back at any attack.

Araud said that European negotiators had concluded that Iran does not want to negotiate with the international community and was “moving forward” with its program.

“We have tried everything. Not a stone has been left unturned,” he added.

The French envoy and others on the Security Council have said they cannot see any move to order new sanctions in the next six months at least.

Russia and China both oppose any new punitive measures, and at this month’s UN General Assembly meeting their ministers called again for a negotiated settlement with Iran.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Syria: Maronite Patriarch, Risk of Sunni-Alawite War

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, SEPTEMBER 28 — A civil war in Syria between Sunnis and Alawites is the scenario feared by the Maronite Patriarch, Bishara Al Rai, the leader of the East’s most important Catholic church.

In a statement reported today by the media in Beirut, Cardinal Al Rai, who was elected as Patriarch of the Maronites last March, said: “We do not want ongoing events in Syria to lead to a civil war between Sunnis [the majority of the Syrian population] and Alawites [a branch of Shi’ite Islam to which Syria’s ruling clans belong]. A war in which Christians would inevitable be victims”.

Al Rai’s words were reported in the Lebanese press after Radio Coran, a Dar Al Fatwa broadcaster serving Lebanese Sunnis, continued the live broadcast of the Cardinal’ speech during an inter-religious summit between Christians and Muslims held behind close doors in Beirut. The station said that the broadcast was “the result of a technical error”. Al Rai said that he was worried about a potential “seizure of power (in Syria) by fundamentalist organisations, which would force the Alawites, after the civil war, to demand the creation of a state for them. launching the process of dismantling the region”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Syria: Nuclear Engineer Murdered in Homs in Targeted Killing

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, SEPTEMBER 28 — The campaign of targeted killings is continuing in Homs, Syria’s third city (north of Damascus), which for weeks has been the setting for massive military and police operations against anti-regime protesters.

The national watchdog for human rights in Syria says that the nuclear engineer Aws Abdel Karim Khalil was murdered this morning by what was only described as armed men. Last Monday, the deputy rector of the faculty of architecture, Muhammad Aqil, and the rector of the faculty of chemistry at the military academy, Nael Dakhl, were killed in Homs in separate attacks. Hassan Eid, the head of surgery at the city’s public hospital, was also killed on Sunday.

The official news agency Sana accused what it only described as terrorists of killing the doctor and the two academics. Activists in Homs, meanwhile, have pointed the finger at loyalist militias, saying that they are responsible for silencing three exponents of the regime’s civilian body, who have recently become increasingly critical of the ongoing repression.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


On the Hit List: Russia Hunts Down Chechen Terrorists Abroad

On orders from the Kremlin, Russian agents have been liquidating Chechen terrorists abroad. Turkish investigators suspect that a Russian was also behind the latest killings, the recent murder of three Chechens in Istanbul. Some believe the operations are being planned from Berlin.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Following Terror Attacks, Kazakhstan Hurriedly Tightens Religious Law

After a series of speeches and warnings over the spread of extremist religious ideas in his country, Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbaev is expected to sign a new bill on religion into law. The bill, approved by parliament on September 21, severely tightens registration procedures for religious institutions while banning unsanctioned religious activity. The construction of new places of worship must be approved by local authorities and the religious education of youth will also be under their control. In addition, the new law imposes a ban on praying in the workplace.

Officially titled “The Law on Religious Activity and Religious Associations,” the new bill has sparked heated debate in Kazakh society.

“Will I be violating the law and effectively become a criminal if I pray in my office?” says Bekbolat Tleukhan, a lawmaker and practicing Muslim. Speaking to Astana’s Channel 7 television, the lawmaker says banning prayer at work violates the country’s constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion.

According to official figures, at least 64 percent of Kazakh citizens are Muslims, the majority of whom follow the Sunni Hanafi sect. Many Sunni Muslims pray five times a day, and at least two of the prayers coincide with standard office hours. “The draft law forces people to choose between their faith and jobs, and it’s not fair,” says Maksat Nurypbaev, the head of Kazakhstan Zhastary, a nongovernmental organization.

The bill requires mosques and all other religious institutions to file complicated paperwork to become registered, including obtaining permission from both local and central governments. Rights defenders have branded the bill discriminatory and restrictive. Supporters of the bill, however, are adamant the law does not limit religious freedom and say it addresses threats posed by extremist groups. “Kazakhs have never backed religious fanatics. Growing a beard or wearing a hijab have never been part of the mentality of a person living in the steppe,” says lawmaker Erzat Alzakov. “It is all new to us. The most worrying is that there are many young people among religious fanatics.”

Alzakov blames society for not closely controlling the content of teaching materials in the country’s numerous religious schools and classes, many of which offer free religious education. “Free lunches don’t exist,” he says. “Only problems are given for free, and we just got them.”

Setting House in Order

Nazarbaev has this year repeatedly warned against the spread of radical ideas “foreign to Kazakhs” and of the need to “protect the nation from religious extremism.” He recently criticized a new trend among some wealthy Kazakhs, who have taken to building mosques as a charity gesture. Speaking during a parliament session earlier this month, the president called for the activities of all unregistered mosques to be looked into. “We need to put our house in order,” Nazarbaev told parliament.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Pakistan’s Jihad Against the USA

by Diana West

Remember when “Operation Infinite Justice” — the post-9/11 US military build-up — was quickly changed to “Operation Enduring Freedom” because Islam believes only Allah dispenses “infinite justice”?

Well, now that as many 50 Pakistani imams in the Sunni Ittehad Council — Facebook page here — have declared jihad on the US, they have also declared that it is haram (forbidden) to call the U.S. a superpower because only Allah deserves the title.

Of course, Pakistan has been fighting a jihad against the American Superdumbpower (is that ok???) for a long time — even as it has been collecting billions in backsheesh — US taxpayer dollars. This week, we learned about one skirmish in that jihad — the deliberate and concerted Pakistani ambush of US military personnel in 2007 during which a US major was killed and three others were wounded. The most shocking aspect of the attack, as reported for the first time in yesterday’s NYT, is that it was not unique. It “fit a pattern.”

A pattern? From the Times story:

At first, the meeting to resolve the border dispute seemed a success. Despite some tense moments, the delegations ate lunch together, exchanged phone numbers and made plans to meet again. Then, as the Americans and Afghans prepared to leave, the Pakistanis opened fire without warning. The assault involved multiple gunmen, Pakistani intelligence agents and military officers, and an attempt to kidnap or draw away the senior American and Afghan officials.

American officials familiar with Pakistan say that the attack fit a pattern. The Pakistanis often seemed to retaliate for losses they had suffered in an accidental attack by United States forces with a deliberate assault on American troops, most probably to maintain morale among their own troops or to make a point to the Americans that they could not be pushed around, said a former American military officer who served in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“Looking back, there were always these attacks that could possibly be attributed to deliberate retaliation,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because his job does not permit him to talk to journalists. Pakistani forces had suffered losses before the May 14 attack, he added.

Pattern … often … always? I think the Pentagon has some ‘splaning to do (again)…

           — Hat tip: Diana West[Return to headlines]

Far East

China to Launch 1st Space Lab Module on Thursday

China is set to launch its first space laboratory into orbit Thursday (Sept. 29), provided the weather cooperates for the planned liftoff. China’s Tiangong 1 space lab is slated to launch aboard a Chinese Long March 2F rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Northwest China. The prototype, which will test docking technology with the country’s Shenzhou spacecraft, is an important step toward China’s goal of constructing a crewed space station in orbit.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt[Return to headlines]

US & China: Space Race or Cosmic Cooperation?

China is only the third country ever to send a person into space. This week the rising space power is set to reach another milestone, launching its first space lab module, an unmanned prototype for a future space station. China’s reach for the stars presents the United States with a choice. America could reach out to cooperate, proposing joint exploration projects, or it could restrict collaboration and perhaps even decide to pursue a space race akin to the 1960s competition against the Soviet Union. Experts say there are benefits and pitfalls to either position, and note that the space question is only one thread in the complex, changing world of Sino-American relations.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt[Return to headlines]


60,000 Land in 2011, 51,000 on Pelagie Islands

(ANSAmed) — ROME, SEPTEMBER 28 — A total of 51,596 non-EU immigrants have arrived on the Pelagie Islands since the start of the year (nearly all on Lampedusa) on a total of 60,656 migrants who landed on the Italian coasts in 2011 so far. This announcement was made by Interior Affairs Undersecretary Sonia Viale during a Chamber hearing.

Viale explained that the situation is “an emergency that should not be dealt with on national level alone, since the crisis concerns the entire Mediterranean area and therefore Europe. All member States must help the countries that face particular migration pressure. Immigration is a European challenge and requires a European response, but this response is late to arrive.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Asylum Seekers From Arab Spring Pour Into Europe

Refugees from war and revolution in the Arab world have begun to pour into Europe, according to research.

A count covering the first three months of this year — the months that saw the outbreak of the Arab Spring — showed that number of Tunisian asylum seekers rose more than 20-fold after their country became the first to be engulfed in the chain of uprisings.

The study covered the first three months of this year — the period of the Arab Spring.

The influx raised fears that Britain faces a fresh asylum boom as tens of thousands of individuals and families try to flee other countries convulsed by violent upheavals.

The figures, compiled by the EU’s statistical arm, showed that last year Tunisian asylum seekers were arriving at the rate of just 50 a month.

The EU report said: ‘Tunisians are now ranked eight among the main countries of citizenship of asylum seekers.

‘Nine out of 10 of Tunisians applying for asylum in the EU lodged their application in Italy, which highlights the importance of geographical proximity as one of the potential factors influencing the choice of the destination country for asylum seekers.

‘Among other such factors are the social and economic situation, the presence of certain ethnic communities, immigration policy in the country of destination, language or historical ties, or the activities of people traffickers.’

The EU analysis points to Britain as a future destination country for Libyan asylum seekers, because of extensive Libyan economic and family contacts in Britain.

In particular Libya has close ties with Britain and many affected by its civil war may try to take refuge here. Others still may try to take advantage of the war to claim asylum in Britain when really they are economic migrants looking to live and work in this country.

However numbers shot up following the toppling of President Ben Ali, in January. In February 1,100 Tunisian asylum seekers arrived in Europe, followed by 1,200 in March.

The influx contributed to a 6.5 per cent increase in asylum seekers arriving in Europe in the first three months of the year, up by 4,000 to 66,000. The study also indicates Britain as a destination for Libyan asylum seekers because of extensive economic and family contacts.

Would-be asylum seekers from Tunisia, Egypt and Libya who entered Europe through Italy or other countries have been reported gathering in Calais to try to cross the Channel. Taxpayer-supported charities have been used to issue warnings to them against the dangers of trying to gain a passage by hiding in lorries.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

EP: OK to 43.9 Mln Euros More for Target States

(ANSAmed) — STRASBOURG, SEPTEMBER 28 — The European Parliament has approved the budget changes that will make an extra 43.9 million euros in funds available for managing the influx of migrants and refugees, following the revolutions that have been sweeping through the southern Mediterranean. The extra funds will be used to help the member states hardest hit and to improve the patrolling of seas by the European border agency Frontex, which will receive an extra 24 million euros.

The remaining amount will be divided between the European Fund for Refugees (12.2 million euros), the External Borders Fund (4.9 million euros) and the European Fund for repatriation (2.8 million euros). The decision was backed by an overwhelming majority, with 513 votes in favour, 79 votes against and 25 abstentions.

“Today’s vote shows that the European Parliament is united when political developments in southern Mediterranean countries are at stake,” said the sponsor of the vote, the Polish (EPP) Euro MP, Sidonia Jedrzejewska. Italy’s Salvatore Iacolino (Popolo della Libertà) said that today’s decision by the European Parliament should be interpreted “as a signal aiming to return its centrality to the Mediterranean”, an area in which “the insistent regions regain the significant power of looking south for the road to be followed, showing the path to the EU as the coherent development of its own political action to develop trade and the defence of rights”. The extra funds approved today have been recovered from those that were left unspent for energy projects scheduled as part of the European revival plan. EU member states had previously given the green light to the budget change on September 12.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

France: Six Dead in Paris Immigrant Squat Fire

At least six people died in a fire on Wednesday at a squat near Paris inhabited by Libyan and Tunisian immigrants, police said. Four of the dead were burned to death and two died from smoke inhalation during the fire in the one-storey building in Pantin, northeast of Paris. Police said the building, which was due to be demolished, was home to around 30 immigrants. Interior Minister Claude Gueant went to the scene of the fire, where firefighters were sifting through the debris in search of further possible victims.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt[Return to headlines]

The Left is Rewriting Britain’s Immigration History

‘We got it wrong”. If this is not quite the slogan for Labour’s annual conference in Liverpool, it is the message the leadership wants the public to hear, though without having to apologise for the mistakes made by the last government. What they really mean by this phoney self-flagellation is this: if we spent too much, it was with the best of intentions; if we borrowed too much, well so did everyone else; if the economy went down the pan, blame the bankers.

And as for immigration — it was all the fault of the Poles. “I think we underestimated the level of immigration from Poland which had a big effect on people,” said Ed Miliband.

But hang on a second. Labour came to office in 1997 and Poland did not join the EU until 2004. Yet whereas in 1996, net immigration to the UK was 40,000, by 2003 it was 150,000. It is now about 250,000. As even a cursory glance at immigration graphs will show, the beginnings of this rapid rise long predated the accession to the EU of the former Soviet bloc countries of eastern Europe.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Dress Witches in Pink and Avoid White Paper to Prevent Racism in Nuseries, Expert Says

Teachers should censor the toy box to replace witches’ black hats with a pink ones and dress fairies in darker shades, according to a consultant who has issued advice to local authorities.

From the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz to Meg, the good witch from the Meg and Mog children’s books, witches have always dressed in black.

But their traditional attire has now come in for criticism from equality experts who claim it could send a negative message to toddlers in nursery and lead to racism.

Instead, teachers should censor the toy box and replace the pointy black hat with a pink one, while dressing fairies, generally resplendent in pale pastels, in darker shades.

Another staple of the classroom — white paper — has also been questioned by Anne O’Connor, an early years consultant who advises local authorities on equality and diversity.

Children should be provided with paper other than white to drawn on and paints and crayons should come in “the full range of flesh tones”, reflecting the diversity of the human race, according to the former teacher.

Finally, staff should be prepared to be economical with the truth when asked by pupils what their favourite colour is and, in the interests of good race relations, answer “black” or “brown”.

The measures, outlined in a series of guides in Nursery World magazine, are aimed at avoiding racial bias in toddlers as young as two.

According to the guides, very young children may begin to express negative and discriminatory views about skin colour and appearance that nursery staff must help them “unlearn”.

If children develop positive associations with dark colours, the greater the likelihood that the attitude will be generalised to people, it says.

The advice is based on an “anti-bias” approach to education which developed in the United States as part of multiculturalism.

It challenges prejudices such as racism, sexism and ageism through the whole curriculum and teaches children about tolerance and respect and to critically analyse what they are taught and think.

Ms O’Connor, who has worked with Newham and Tower Hamlets councils and recently devised equality material for Lancashire council’s childcare service, said the approach, based on an “anti-bias” model of education, developed children’s empathy and helped early years teachers to explore their own conditioning and possible prejudices.

“This is an incredibly complex subject that can easily become simplified and inaccurately portrayed,” she said.

“There is a tendency in education to say ‘here are normal people and here are different people and we have to be kind to those different people’, whether it’s race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age or faith.

“People who are feeling defensive can say ‘well there’s nothing wrong with white paper’, but in reality there could be if you don’t see yourself reflected in the things around you. “As an early years teacher, the minute you start thinking, ‘well actually, if I give everyone green paper, what happens’, you have a teaching potential.

“People might criticise this as political correctness gone mad. But it is because of political correctness we have moved on enormously. If you think that we now take it for granted that our buildings and public highways are adapted so people in wheelchairs and with pushchairs can move around. Years ago if you were in a wheelchair, then tough luck. We have completely moved and we wouldn’t have done that without the equality movement.”

Margaret Morrissey, a spokeswoman for the Parents Outloud campaigning group disagrees. She said: “I’m sure these early years experts know their field but they seem to be obsessed about colour and determined to make everyone else obsessed about it too.

“Not allowing toy witches to wear black seems to me nonsense and in the same vein as those people who have a problem with ‘Bar Bar Black Sheep’ or ‘The Three Little Pigs’.

Children just see a sheep in a field, whether it be black, grey, white or beige. I have worked with children for 41 years and I don’t believe I have ever met a two year old who was in any way racist or prejudice.”

           — Hat tip: LN[Return to headlines]


Facebook Privacy Issues: Social Network Watching When You’re Logged Out

Facebook has admitted that it has been watching the web pages its members visit — even when they have logged out.

In its latest privacy blunder, the social networking site was forced to confirm that it has been constantly tracking its 750million users, even when they are using other sites.

The social networking giant says the huge privacy breach was simply a mistake — that software automatically downloaded to users’ computers when they logged in to Facebook ‘inadvertently’ sent information to the company, whether or not they were logged in at the time.

Most would assume that Facebook stops monitoring them after they leave its site, but technology bloggers discovered this was not the case.

In fact, data has been regularly sent back to the social network’s servers — data that could be worth billions when creating ‘targeted’ advertising based on the sites users visit.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

‘We Didn’t Mean to Track You’ Says Facebook as Social Network Giant Admits to ‘Bugs’ In New Privacy Row”

Facebook has admitted that it has been watching the web pages its members visit — even when they have logged out.

In its latest privacy blunder, the social networking site was forced to confirm that it has been constantly tracking its 750million users, even when they are using other sites.

The social networking giant says the huge privacy breach was simply a mistake — that software automatically downloaded to users’ computers when they logged in to Facebook ‘inadvertently’ sent information to the company, whether or not they were logged in at the time.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]