Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20111017

Financial Crisis
»Italy: Indignados Clean-Up to Cost Half a Million Euro
»Christians and Jews Learn of Islam
»El Marco Photo-Essay: Neo-Cannibals, Deadbeats, Dopers and Democrats Occupy Denver
»Indignados: Clashes in Times Square, 88 Detained in NY
»Texas Students Taught to Recite Mexican Pledge of Allegiance
»The Growth of Islam
»‘Wall St. Uprising Shows Iran Soft Power’
Europe and the EU
»Britain’s Hands Tied by Eurozone Turmoil
»Majority of People in Favour of Scottish Indipendence
»Occupy Protests: Educated, Poor and in Revolt
»UK: Bull Lane Mosque Plan Rethink
»UK: Cash Invested in Projects to Help Avoid Extremism
»UK: Lecturer Exposed as Police Spy-Master Who Infiltrated Greenpeace and Other Protest Groupsbob Lambert Worked for Special Branch for 26 Years
»UK: Why the Conservative Frontbench Broke Off Relations With Douglas Murray — and What Happened Afterwards
North Africa
»Egypt’s Christians Under Siege
Israel and the Palestinians
»Jewish Extremists Storm Al-Aqsa Mosque
South Asia
»Malaysia: “Obedient Wives Club” Calls for Group Sex in “Islamic Sex, Fighting Jews to Return Islamic Sex to the World”
Far East
»Philippines: PIME Missionary Killed in Kidapawan
»Philippines: Construction of Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque Near Completion

Financial Crisis

Italy: Indignados Clean-Up to Cost Half a Million Euro

(AGI) Rome — AMA estimates that it will cost almost half a million euro to clear up after clashes at yesterday’s protests in Rome and intends to sue for the “significant damages suffered.” Additional costs include 254,000 euros for AMA personnel and vehicles, 21,000 euros for materials used in removing graffiti, 99,000 for the 80 garbage bins and waste bins damaged or set on fire.

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


Christians and Jews Learn of Islam

In an effort to work with other faiths, a Lower Makefield mosque opened its doors to the community for an educational event to teach about Islam. Members of the Zubaida Foundation on Sunday discussed Hajj, a pilgrimage in Islam, and Eid Al Adha, the Festival of Sacrifice that marks the end of the pilgrimage. They also highlighted that Christianity, Judaism and Islam have one person in common: Abraham or Ibrahim. “Abraham had two sons,” said Lee Phillips, whose Arabic name is Nour. “One line became the Jews and Christians. The other line, the Muslims.”

Before converting to Islam eight years ago, Phillips attended a Unitarian congregation. She married a Muslim man, but converted before their marriage willingly, she said. Her life and beliefs, Phillips said, haven’t changed much since her switch because although the religions are different, the goals are the same. “They match perfectly,” Phillips said. “Islam teaches to do good work, pray often, keep God in mind no matter what you’re doing, and want for your brother before and what you’d like for yourself. My life has been enriched. I have more peace.” Phillips was among the Islam men and women offering to share and teach their faith to the several Christians and Jews who attended the event.

For Joe Martin, a member of the Emilie United Methodist Church in Bristol Township, his time at the mosque was great, he said. However, he wished more Christians would have attended. “It’s important that Christians, Jews, and Islam work together, be good neighbors and understand each other better,” he said. “There’s so much misunderstanding on religion lines. … Muslims are so misunderstood.” Larry Snider said it’s important for people to feel comfortable around other faiths. So he’ll encourage for more activities to bring faiths together at his synagogue, Kehilat HaNahr, or The Little Shul by the River in New Hope. Snider is president of Interfaith Community for Middle East Peace. He’s attended events at the Lower Makefield mosque since 2002.

The event was kicked off with a lunch, followed by Muslim speakers who explained their religion. The Muslim women kept their tradition by sitting in the back of the mosque with the children and entering through a different door from the men, who sat up front. However, Christian and Jewish women sat up front. Mubin Kathrada, a religious speaker, said “the pilgrimage to Makkah (Mecca) is a celebration of obedience.” About 4 million believers will perform the five-day pilgrimage to commemorate Prophet Ibrahim’s obedience to Allah.

Kathrada told the packed house to study Ibrahim’s two challenges and how he overcame them.

Ibrahim was commanded by Allah to leave Hajara, his second wife, and his first infant son, Ismaeel, in a desert. And the second, Allah commanded him to sacrifice Ismaeel.

“These were desperate and stressful circumstances, but Ibrahim, may Allah be pleased with him, obeyed without question,” Kathrada said of Allha’s first request. “What do we learn from this episode? We learn to recognize obedience.” As for Allah’s second command, Kathrada said, “What lesson do we take away? Prophet Ibrahim, may Allah be pleased with him, is calm, focused and controlled. There’s no fear, panic or anxiety in his communication. … Prophet Ibrahim makes no effort to swing or influence the decision in any way.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

El Marco Photo-Essay: Neo-Cannibals, Deadbeats, Dopers and Democrats Occupy Denver

“Occupy Denver” returned to the streets with a vengeance Saturday after being expelled, having their camp forcibly removed from Veterans’ Park by police at 4 a.m. Friday morning. October 15 was declared International Day of Action, which saw radical socialist/anarchist protests and violence in European and American cities.

Chanting “Whose street? Our street!,” Occupy Denver blocked off the street in front of the State Capitol Building for much of Saturday afternoon and evening.

This was the scene across from the Capitol at noon, as protesters gathered before the planned march on the Federal Reserve Building six blocks to the north. The crowd, which later distilled into an hot-headed mob battling police, included an odd mixture of leftists dominated by organized communist, trade union and anarchist groups, as well as a large presence of Ron Paul libertarians. Tie-dyed psychedelic geezers from the ‘60s tottered about amongst more recent generations of drug-users, and the smell of medical marijuana mingled in the air with the sounds of the zombie-like chanting made famous by the Occupy Wall Street leftists in New York.

Colorado State Troopers ringed the State Capitol to protect a gathering of veterans, as well as a State Congressional prayer meeting. Already wary after protesters disrupted a press conference on the Capitol steps by rushing the building en masse late last week, troopers stood guard all day and into the night.

[Return to headlines]

Indignados: Clashes in Times Square, 88 Detained in NY

(AGI) New York — The toll from clashes between “Indignados” and police in Times Square is 88 persons detained and three injured. Saturday evening mounted police charged to prevent the 5 thousant activists of the Occupy Wall Street movement from occupying the Big Apple’s symbolic square, at that hour full of tourists and Broadway theater goers. The police detained 45 persons in Times Square, where a woman was wounded on the head when she fell during the charge by police.

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

Texas Students Taught to Recite Mexican Pledge of Allegiance

In the name of educating students about a foreign culture, a teacher in McAllen, Tex., required students in her intermediate Spanish class to memorize and individually recite the Mexican national anthem and pledge of allegiance — but one student objected, catching the attention of the school district and The Blaze, which reported the story this morning.

Fifteen-year-old Brenda Brinsdon refused to complete the assignment and, instead, complained to the teacher, principal and, eventually, with the help of her father, William, the school district superintendent. The response of the teacher? Reyna Santos explained that she grew up in Mexico and loved the country. The response of the principal? Yvette Cavazo told Brinsdon it was part of the curriculum and she should participate. The response of the school district superintendent? School district spokesman Mark May told The Blaze the assignment was no different than memorizing a poem or a passage of Shakespeare.

Brinsdon was particularly bothered by the timing of the assignment, which came last month during “Freedom Week,” the week after the Tenth Anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. In fact, the assignment came on Constitution Day itself — the same day as Mexico’s Independence Day.

Said Brinsdon’s father: “Our kids don’t even know the [American] national anthem and here we are … teaching them to memorize and perform the national anthem for Mexico. I just think it’s so backwards.”

           — Hat tip: PM[Return to headlines]

The Growth of Islam

Lower Sacramento Road, a main link between Lodi and Stockton, is surrounded mostly by farms. But the stretch between Harney Lane and Armstrong Road is also the future home of the 10,200-square-foot California Islamic Center. The lot sits on 18.65 acres on the east side of Lower Sacramento Road, just south of the “S” curve near Harney Lane. Right now, there is little more than a large, concrete slab. Eventually the center will feature a prayer hall, a community center where weddings and other gatherings can be held, an educational center for children to do their homework, and a basketball court.

While it may take years for it to be completed, the California Islamic Center reflects the dramatic growth of Islamic communities in the Central Valley. Four new Islamic structures are planned in San Joaquin County alone. That trend reflects steady national growth of Muslims across the country. It is a striking irony: At a time when Islam continues to draw controversy across America, its practitioners and mosques are expanding. And sometimes that growth itself has sparked conflict.

A part of American life

The Central Valley is a microcosm of the growth of Islam as a whole. The world’s Muslim population is expected to increase in the next 20 years from 1.6 billion in 2010 to 2.2 billion by 2030, according to new population projections by the Pew Research Center. In the United States, for example, projections show the number of Muslims more than doubling over the next two decades, rising from 2.6 million in 2010 to 6.2 million in 2030, in large part because of immigration and higher-than-average fertility among Muslims, according to Pew research.

There are no absolute numbers regarding San Joaquin County’s Muslim population, but Taj Khan, a supporter of the California Islamic Center and Delta College trustee, estimates there are 10,000 to 15,000. “More and more, (Muslims) are coming because this is their home now,” said Naheem “Nick” Qayyum, treasurer of the Lodi Muslim Mosque on Poplar Street. “The United States has always been (considered) a good place to live. We need these places of worship. In Lodi, we need a new mosque to take the pressure off this one.”

Although the California Islamic Center is far from completion, its board of directors is searching for an imam. An imam is a mosque’s spiritual leader.

The center’s website has a detailed job description for the position. The imam will lead daily prayers, give lectures for the Islamic education of the community on a weekly basis, teach children’s Quran classes, conduct funerals and assist with burials as needed, raise money, and provide counseling and guidance. Modesto is getting an influx of Muslims fleeing the Bay Area’s high housing costs. Stanislaus County has nearly 2,000 Muslims, according to Ahmad Kayello, imam for the Modesto Islamic Center. So Modesto needs a new mosque, he said. They want to replace the 1,000-plus-square-foot mosque in Modesto to one measuring 10 times as large at the same location. The city of Modesto has approved the expansion, but the mosque is waiting for the recession to ebb before raising the money needed to construct the new building, Kayello said.

Expansions in Morada, Tracy, Manteca

Instead of brand-new projects, the Morada, Tracy and Manteca buildings will replace existing mosques no longer large enough to serve their Muslim populations. The Madina Center in Morada will replace the smaller Islamic Center of North Stockton on North Pershing Avenue. The Madina Center site has a few tractors and a Port-a-Potty on bare land off the eastern Highway 99 frontage road north of Shippee Lane in Morada. When completed, it will contain a 13,820-square-foot multipurpose building and 2,800-square-foot multipurpose hall, plus a prayer hall, office and classroom.

Project engineer Amin Mahmood said construction has started, but there hasn’t been enough money to complete the project. Mahmood said he doesn’t know how long it will take before the Madina Center can open. The Tracy Islamic Center is scheduled to move into roomier quarters when funds can be raised. Muslims from nationalities worldwide have settled into San Joaquin County, local Muslim leaders say. The Lodi Muslim Mosque on Poplar Street attracts mostly Pakistanis, while the Stockton Islamic Center has members from places like Palestine, India, Fiji and Yemen, said Mohammed Saeed, vice president of the Stockton Islamic Center.

Many Muslims immigrating into San Joaquin County have agricultural backgrounds, Saeed said. A majority become U.S. citizens, he said, after waiting the requisite five years from getting an immigration visa. The Modesto mosque is multicultural in nature, Kayello said. It includes immigrants from places like Jerusalem, Palestine, Jordan, Yemen, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. “In the Valley, you’re seeing more (Muslim) folks moving from the Bay Area,” said Basim Elkarra, executive director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations in Sacramento.

Globally, the Muslim population is forecast to grow at about twice the rate of the non-Muslim population over the next two decades — an average annual growth rate of 1.5 percent for Muslims, compared to 0.7 percent for non-Muslims, according to the Pew report. If current trends continue, Muslims will make up 26.4 percent of the world’s total projected population of 8.3 billion in 2030, up from 23.4 percent of the estimated 2010 world population of 6.9 billion, the Pew Center reports.

Community opposition

In the decade that followed the terrorist attacks of 9/11, many communities fought the construction or expansion of mosques and Islamic centers. Lodi, Morada and Tracy have experienced those challenges. The San Joaquin County Planning Commission approved the California Islamic Center on Lower Sacramento Road in 2005, but the Board of Supervisors rejected the project a short time later due to parking and traffic issues. During a public hearing before the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors in 2005, opponents of the Lower Sacramento Road project cited issues like traffic and the destruction of the area’s rural atmosphere.

However, Muslim leaders at the hearing said they felt the board’s denial was politically motivated. A neighboring property owner said during the 2005 hearing that he was afraid of potential terrorism by Muslims in light of the 9/11 attacks. County commissioners approved revised plans for the center in 2009 after the architect removed a school from the plans and placed the main building farther away from neighboring property.

There were also traffic and water concerns regarding new Islamic centers planned in Morada and Tracy. In fact, the Morada Area Association, a private group of residents and property owners, sued Madina Islamic Center developer Masjid Umar Farooq and San Joaquin County over the county approving the project. A settlement was reached in late 2009, allowing the mosque to be built on the eastern Highway 99 frontage road, about 150 feet north of Shippee Lane. “We have no opposition to the cultural aspect of it,” said Morada Area Association President Ernie Boutte. “There will be hundreds of new cars, and ingress and egress issues. But we have many churches on both sides of Highway 99.”

Boutte said the Morada group was upset that the county didn’t require a full environmental impact report on the Madina Center. The settlement forbids lighting that would affect neighboring homes and prohibits outdoor speakers, a kitchen or a morgue. Now that the Morada Area Association has settled with the Islamic center, Boutte said he wants the center to become a part of the Morada community by joining the association as dues-paying members, and allowing people of other cultures to rent the Madina building for meetings and other events.

Muslim leaders throughout San Joaquin County say they enjoy living in America. Many are highly successful. The Modesto mosque has about 20 doctors and nurses, Kayello said.

Elkarra, the Council on American-Islamic Relations director, said that Muslims are part of the community — just like everyone else.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

‘Wall St. Uprising Shows Iran Soft Power’

An Iranian lawmaker says Iran’s “soft power” can be witnessed in Wall Street uprising and growing protests against corporatism and capitalism in the US. The soft power of the Islamic revolution of Iran has relocated the war fronts between the West and Islam from Iran and the Islamic bloc to the European borders and the heart of capitalism, i.e. Wall Street, Fars News Agency quoted Samad Marashi as saying on Sunday. The US has been witnessing protests since September 17, when a group of people began rallying in New York’s financial district to protest “corporate greed” and top-level corruption in the country. The movement has now spread to other cities, including Seattle, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Boston, as well as hundreds of communities across the nation. The anti-capitalism contagion spread to the other side of the Atlantic on Saturday where hundreds of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in European cities to protest corporatism, top-level corruption, and state-sponsored austerity measures with violence erupting in some cities such as Rome and London. “It’s regrettable to see that the Western Liberal democracy is not just ruthless towards other nations, but that it also shows no mercy towards its own people and has placed suppression, arrests, and police brutality on top of its agenda,” Marashi added.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Britain’s Hands Tied by Eurozone Turmoil

The Daily Telegraph, 17 October 2011

“UK economy brought to grinding halt by euro crisis,” headlines the Daily Telegraph, after a report by the Ernst & Young ITEM Club warned that Britain’s economic situation is “worse than we thought”. According to the chief economic advisor to the Club, “The bright spots in our forecast three months ago — business investment and exports — have dimmed to a flicker as uncertainty around Greece and the stability of the Eurozone increases.” The Club expects the British economy to grow by a mere 0.9 percent for 2011, which means “almost zero growth before the end of the year.” With public sector cuts starting to bite, the ITEM club also forecast that the UK’s unemployment rate would increase to 2.7 million people by the spring of 2013. The authors of the report prescribe tweaking with stamp duty and “targeted tax relief” in order to stimulate growth, but can only look on gloomily at the “lacklustre response of European leaders to the ongoing single currency crisis.”

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

Majority of People in Favour of Scottish Indipendence

(AGI) London — The majority of English, Welsh and Norther Irish people would be in favour of a Scotland’s indipendence. This is what comes out of a ComRes survey that has been published by “The Indipendent” Sunday paper. This survey showed that 39% people living in England, Wales and Northern Ireland think that Scotland should have its own indipendent government (+6% compared to May this year) while 38% are against it. The Scottish First Minister, the Snp indendentist leader Alex Salmold aims at putting this question to a referendum at the end of his 5 year tenure in 2016.

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

Occupy Protests: Educated, Poor and in Revolt

Frankfurter Rundschau, 17 October 2011

“Occupy Frankfurt”. Borrowing the name from the Wall Street protesters, the left-leaning German daily Frankfurter Rundschau, is pleased with the success of the October 15 anti-capitalist demonstrations. “In Europe and in the entire world” — 951 cities, 82 countries — tens of thousands of people protested against “the almighty banks and the politicians who fail to react,” the paper writes in a lead article. Eight thousand people gathered in Frankfurt, at the headquarters of the European Central Bank; 10,000 gathered in Berlin and even in well-heeled Düsseldorf 800 people were mobilized.

“It’s a start and not a bad start at all,” the paper says, stressing that it is the middle classes, those that risk becoming the educated poor of the future, who are demanding a simple principle: the economy must exist to serve humanity, not vice-versa. “In the meantime, this protest can be understood as a sign that the damage caused by the crises of capitalism can no longer be kept quiet. The quake of the markets has destroyed the Potemkin villages that the [political elite] think they are still managing,” it says.

In Italy, tens of thousands of people marched through Rome, before the demonstration broke down when small groups set fire to cars and police vans and smashed stores. This stole the headlines away from the real reasons for the march, Italian daily La Stampa says. Some 135 people were injured (including 105 police officers), according to daily La Repubblica which estimated the damage at €2 million.

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

UK: Bull Lane Mosque Plan Rethink

PLANS for a new £2 million mosque in York have been taken back to the drawing board. The York Mosque and Islamic Centre revealed proposals for replacing its current building in Bull Lane earlier this year, saying it had become too small to accommodate the hundreds of people who regularly attend its main prayer times. A planning application for the new mosque was submitted to City of York Council in July, but the scheme has now been withdrawn due to “technical issues”, although the agents for the project say they hope to revive it once the snags are addressed.

The design for the building, which was to be constructed on the same site as the existing mosque off Lawrence Street — now more than 25 years old — included two minarets either side of a central dome, as well as a prayer hall, classroom, library and community hall. No calls to prayer or amplified sound would have come from the new mosque.

However, North Yorkshire Police subsequently raised concerns over the proposals and the “high risk factor” connected with the building, saying it could attract “unwanted attention” from yobs because of its appearance and insufficient security and crime prevention measures had been included its design.

The Environment Agency also objected to the proposals, which included a three-storey accommodation block, because part of the Bull Lane site stands within a higher-risk flood zone. The organisation said the development was “not compatible” with this zone and could be vulnerable to flooding. The scheme was opposed by the operators of the nearby Raylor Centre in James Street, who said they were concerned about noise and traffic problems, but drew support from the Guildhall planning panel and local councillors, while York Civic Trust said the design would be “acceptable”.

Dean Woodward, of planning agents Design Studio-North, said: “There are some technical issues which have come up during the application period. “The application has to be determined within a certain timeframe, and we will not be able to resolve these issues, of which flooding is one, within that time. These matters are now under review and the intention is to resubmit the application at a future date.” More than 1,300 people joined a Facebook page calling for the mosque plans to be refused, but almost 850 signed up to another page on the social networking site supporting the application. A decision on the scheme was originally set to be made this month.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Cash Invested in Projects to Help Avoid Extremism

Handing £138,000 of taxpayers’ cash to community groups will stop Cambridge’s young Muslims turning to extremism, according to a Guildhall chief.Among the beneficiaries of the fund will be a scheme to encourage residents who follow Islam to try sports, which gets £31,900, and recruitment of a co-ordinator for the Bangladeshi population at a cost of £23,600.

As the News previously reported, the money was handed to the city council by the Government to encourage social cohesion and challenge radical ideologies, and the distribution of it has now been approved by members. Cllr Tim Bick, the authority’s community development chief, said a wide range of projects had been selected. He told the community services scrutiny committee: “This programme is not because we have a problem with armed extremism in Cambridge. In fact, on the contrary, I think we can be reasonably content that’s not the case. The programme before us is to decrease the chance of that happening by improving inclusion and cohesion across the whole of Cambridge.”

Cllr Bick allocated £15,000 to explore the possibility of setting up an advice service for Muslims in Cambridge, and £6,000 to the YMCA to set up a youth group which will aim to attract both Muslims and non-Muslims. Workshops and discussions will be held on multiculturalism and Britishness, as well as activities such as sport, arts and crafts. A report considered by the committee said £20,000 had already been spent on running the Asian Mela held on Parker’s Piece on July 10. Small grants totalling £41,200 have already been paid out, with recipients including dance competitions, coffee mornings and film-making sessions.

Cash was also handed to English conversation classes, a monthly Muslim youth magazine, and seminars entitled “Away from Extremism”. Labour spokeswoman Cllr Carina O’Reilly said she supported the projects. She told the meeting: “The nature of this grant means it’s effectively a one-time only offer, so it’s important to get it right.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Lecturer Exposed as Police Spy-Master Who Infiltrated Greenpeace and Other Protest Groupsbob Lambert Worked for Special Branch for 26 Years

Bob Lambert, now a lecturer and expert on Islamophobia who regularly speaks at civil rights rallies, infiltrated organisations including Greenpeace as part of a covert police unit.

During his previous 26-year career as a Special Branch officer, he placed moles inside political protest groups, including anti-racism organisations, impeding their activities.

Mr Lambert became head of the unit after around a decade working undercover, reported The Guardian.

He has previously admitted working for special branch between 1980 and 2006, but has never revealed his past as a police spy.

Ironically, Mr Lambert’s secret undercover work was revealed on Saturday at a Unite Against Fascism conference, at which he was a speaker.

Fellow activists at the event claimed he used the alias Bob Robinson while a member of London Greenpeace between 1984 and 1988.

The group campaigned for environmental issues including nuclear disarmament and claims ‘Robinson’ attended numerous protests and meetings.

It is also believed that Mr Lambert infiltrated animal rights groups.

But he was actually a member of the Special Demonstration Squad, a police unit dedicated to infiltrating political groups thought to pose a threat to public order.

When urged to apologise at the conference for his undercover work, Mr Lambert refused to comment, the activists claim.

He last week urged people to attend to ‘show a united front against hatred and bigotry and celebrate the diversity of our multicultural communities’.

In the late 1990s, Mr Lambert became head of the Special Demonstration Squad and was responsible for placing police moles in political organisations.

From 2002 to 2007, he was in charge of Scotland Yard’s Muslim Contact Unit, tasked with preventing Islamic extremism by way of two-way dialogue with the Muslim community.

Since 2006, he has lectured at Exeter and St Andrew’s universities.

Mr Lambert is the seventh police officer to be unmasked as a spy inside protest organisations.

The most high-profile of these was Mark Kennedy, who spent seven years undercover as an eco-activist before allegedly going ‘native’ and naming another campaigner as an officer when he was rumbled.

A spokesman for London Greenpeace today said: ‘By publicly exposing this latest scandal, campaigners have demonstrated that the recent police spies outed were not “rogue officers”, but part of an unacceptable pattern of immoral infiltration of environmental groups, condoned at a high level.

‘We demand action to ensure that the full truth is revealed and that justice is done.’

A report into Kennedy and the work of undercover police officers in protest groups is scheduled to be published on Thursday.

Racked with guilt at betraying his new friends after seven years of pretence, Kennedy apparently confessed that a female officer in her 30s was also a spy.

She lived in Leeds and played a major part in organising a protest intended to close down the Drax coal-fired power station in North Yorkshire.

The group had already grown suspicious after she disappeared overnight in 2008 claiming she had fallen in love with a man in Coventry. She was never seen again.

Senior police chiefs were in January said to be worried Kennedy, who went under the name Mark Stone in his alternate life, had also compromised the safety of other officers working covertly.

Telling friends who were protesters that the officer was working undercover is a serious breach of protocol which could mean other operatives have to be moved for their safety.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Why the Conservative Frontbench Broke Off Relations With Douglas Murray — and What Happened Afterwards

by Paul Goodman

Islam and Islamism are different

The struggle against Islamist extremism demands the separation of Islam, a complex religion, from Islamism, a political ideology. It also requires other qualities: judgement, self-control, attention to detail, patience and a sense of proportion — plus the acknowledgment that while the ideology is a threat to Muslim and non-Muslim alike, the religion is not. To use words that suggest otherwise is to present some of our fellow citizens as mortal enemies on the basis of their faith. Were government to take such a view, its political strategy to combat Islamist extremism would start at a disadvantage, since this must attempt to win the support of Muslim minds and hearts.

Readers must judge for themselves whether I have practised what I am preaching above, both in Parliament and out of it — and whether, in turn, my speaking and writing has had any effect in holding Labour’s failures to check extremism to account, helping to shape the Government’s Prevent Strategy and stopping the Muslim Brotherhood and the Jamaat-e-Islami from infiltrating Parliament. All I would add is that there is evidence to suggest that I am not exactly the pin-up boy of either. Perhaps there is a connection between this fact and my part in ensuring that the Conservatives adopted tough rules for dealing with Islamist extremists. These included not entering into partnership with them, funding them, or speaking from their platforms.

Douglas Murray’s Amsterdam speech: “Conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board”

In 2006, Douglas Murray made a speech in the Dutch Parliament called “What are we to do about Islam?” His answers were uncompromising. “Conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board: Europe must look like a less attractive proposition”. How this was to be done was not set out exhaustively, though Murray suggested demolishing mosques in certain circumstances. He also said that “all immigration into Europe from Muslim countries must stop” (presumably including that of non-Muslims from those countries, such as atheists and Christians). Finally, he suggested that European Muslims who “take part in, plot, assist or condone [my italic] violence against the west must be forcibly deported to their place of origin”.

Murray explained that by “the west” he meant western troops as well as western countries. “Where a person was born in the west,” he said, “they should be deported to the country of origin of their parent or grandparent”. I take an unyielding view of those who support attacks on our troops, and have campaigned for government to sever all links with groups that do so. But Murray was making demands less of Islamist extremists than ordinary Muslims. A reasonable reading of his words is that any British Muslim who opposed whatever war an allied Government was waging at the time should be expelled from his home country. I was later shown his speech by other members of the Conservative front bench, who were extremely concerned about it.

An early repudiation would have spared Murray time and trouble

I wrote earlier about the virtue of a sense of proportion. It is important to apply it in this instance. Murray wasn’t trying to subvert the norms of liberal democray, as many Islamists do, let alone seek to destroy them through terror. But liberal democracy would eat itself were government to seek to make the life of some of its citizens harder because of their religion. Or to refuse immigrants entry because they came from, say, Bosnia rather than Nigeria. Or to deport British citizens for opposing wars waged by other governments. Such views are contempible and reckless. Contemptible, because of their inhumanity. Reckless, because of their imprudence: rather than winning hearts and minds, the speech was framed in such a way as to lose them.

The solution seemed to me to be obvious. Murray should disown his remarks. He could, for example, say that “I realised some years ago how poorly expressed the speech in question was”, and confirm that “my opinions have also altered significantly”. The Conservative front bench would then be able to enjoy normal working relations with his Centre for Social Cohesion, which my colleagues now demanded should be curtailed altogether — reasonably enough. I went to see Murray and put this suggestion to him. He would have spared himself a great deal of time and trouble if he had taken it. And such an apology would have been a sign of strength, not weakness. But in this case strength was wanting. Our meeting ended without agreement.

Such a repudiation was not forthcoming — so the Conservative Party broke off relations

The front bench duly severed formal relations with Murray and his centre. This rankled with him — and as proof of this claim, I cite his article in last October’s Spectator, titled “Blackballed by Cameron”. It gave an account of our meeting which was careless with detail but emphatic on essentials: “I refused to change my opinions”, he wrote, in relation to the Amsterdam speech. Readers may have wondered what these were, since he didn’t quote from it directly (no doubt wisely). Instead, he offered a partial summary from which his call for “conditions for Muslims in Europe [to] be made harder across the board” was absent, and which avoided mention of the potential eviction from their own countries of those Muslims who oppose wars waged by our allies.

The courage that had been wanting in our meeting thus failed for a second time. Murray didn’t name me in the piece, referring instead to “A Cameroon loyalist” (not a description Downing Street would necessarily recognise). I decided to take it easy. After all, Murray hadn’t identified me, and it seemed best to let the matter go — and not respond to what may well have been an attempt to provoke that most tiresome of literary endeavours, a feud between writers. Murray, however, turned out to be less relaxed. I am no longer a public figure, and my views are therefore of little significance. But he returned to the attack earlier this month, this time naming me, and misrepresenting remarks about polling that I wrote on this site in relation to gay marriage.

Five years on, a repudiation is finally forced

Rightly or wrongly, I felt that this time round there was little alternative but to reply both on ConservativeHome and in the Spectator (my letter is not yet online), spelling out in the latter case the back story behind his articles. His response on this site this weekend was twofold: to retreat headlong from his previous position, and to hurl new mispresentations while doing so in the hope of disguising his flight. It also marked the third time he has taken refuge in highly selective quotation. Just as I have never ascribed a special importance to what Muslims say in opinion polls — and just as he did write that “conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board”, before glossing over those words — I have never recommended Islam above Christianity.

But to pause to brush away the mud is to play Murray’s game. So is to linger over the debate over gay marriage, to which his latest article adds nothing. I argued on this site that once one has opened the door to gay marriage it may not be so easy to close it to multiple sharia marriages. Murray’s response is to take more or less the line I anticipated. “Marriage, in our culture, not to mention law, is between two people,” he writes. Not exactly: it is between two people of different genders (or sexes if you prefer). Once the requirement that the genders be different has been dispensed with, it becomes easier to dispose of others — such as the insistence that polygamous marriages, a custom throughout much of the world, are not recognised by the state.

Some of those who practice a religion and some of those who don’t may thus unite around a common secular view: that the state would do best to leave marriage as it stands. This is mine, and Murray is thus wrong to insinuate that I “believe that laws should be made by divinely-claimed mandate”. But this latest act of disingenousness is only the prelude to one much greater. He now claims that the quotations from the Amsterdam speech are “not opinions that I hold” and that “I realised some years ago how poorly expressed the speech in question was, had it removed from the website and forbade further requests to publish it because it does not reflect my opinions”. This is his retreat — five years on.

But if Murray disowned his Amsterdam speech “some years go”, why was he still championing it as recently as last October?

However, even in surrender he is economical with accuracy. Murray claims to have realised that the speech was poorly expressed “some years ago”. But as I pointed out earlier, he defended it in print only last October: “I refused to change my opinions”, he wrote. Furthermore, he cited the support of others for them. “What I advocated had been argued by members of the conservative party of Holland and was, and is, being argued by mainstream politicians across Europe”. Readers will scour the piece in vain for the slightest hint that the views of the speech are “not opinions I hold”, or for the faintest indication that he considered his words “poorly expressed”. In short, Murray praised a speech twelve months ago that he now claims to have disowned for years.

Furthermore, I can find no previous record of him renouncing his Amsterdam speech — the course that I recommended to him when we met before the election. It is thus reasonable to ask whether he would have done so had I not raised the matter recently. Readers must decide for themselves whether first surreptitiously to remove a speech from a website, then laud it in print without direct quotation, and finally disown it under pressure — while claiming to have done so long ago — is decent or not. I believe it is part of a pattern of disingenuousness. Murray was disingenuous in attacking me without admitting a motive. Disingenuous in suggesting that I give Muslim opinion a special weight. And disingenuous in implying a hostility on my part to secular government.

I have supported gays in East London against Islamist violence and hate

Above all, he is disingenuous to present me as conniving in anti-gay Islamist prejudice. I have supported gay people in East London against Islamist violence and hate. By contrast, Murray still has not a kind word to write about Muslims: indeed, his piece suggests that since gays are persecuted by Muslims abroad, the views of their co-religionists on gay marriage must not be sought here. He presents a partial account of them. First, he cites a figure for those believing homosexuality should be illegal — quoting the highest one available from the survey in question. Next, he produces one for those wanting to live under “sharia law” — again, citing the highest figure. Given this creative use of statistics, he is unwise to throw claims of bigotry around.

Which he has, clearly hoping that I will return the term. I must disappoint him — opting instead for telling the tale of his speech and what followed, complete with links to original pieces which he has failed to provide, so that readers can make their own judgement. But it is impossible to conceal my view that he lacks the judgement, self-control, attention to detail, patience and sense of proportion that I listed earlier as essential to any cause, let alone one so important. I wouldn’t dare to draw such a conclusion on the basis of one speech, however rash. But there is enough of a history of injudiciuous remarks and inflammatory attacks to make it inevitable. Murray is a weapon that harms rather than helps the causes in which it is deployed.

Murray’s words stand, as do mine

He cites the sturdy reports of the Centre for Social Cohesion, of which he is Director, to claim otherwise. The first three pages of its website list 15 publications. His name graces only two of them. I suspect this is an accurate reflection of the glory-to-work ratio. While the Director was pursuing Tariq Ramadan across the television studios of Europe, the staff were knuckling down to the hard grind. At least one of its former members did not enjoy the experience: his time at the centre, he wrote, was “a constant struggle to ‘de-radicalise’ Murray and to ensure that the centre’s output targeted only Islamists — and not Muslims as a whole”. This may help to explain why the Centre is now inactive and Murray’s own influence with government is zero.

I am sorry to have burdened readers with such a long article, for three reasons. First, because literary disagreements are wearisome (so I won’t return to this one at length). Second, because writing against Islamist extremists is more important than writing about him. Third, because I should perhaps have dealt with all this before, recognising that the precocious talents of my old friend simply won’t grow up. “My opinions have altered significantly,” he writes. None the less, there is no evidence for such a claim in his piece for this site: he seems to view all Muslims as a potential personal threat. He seeks to explain away a grotesque lack of judgement. But his words stand, as do mine.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt’s Christians Under Siege

The Arab Spring has begun to bear its first fruits.

Egypt’s Coptic Christians, a group that could not consider itself safe in the days of Egyptian autocracy, has experienced unrelenting attacks since the overturning of Mubarak’s rule. These people, who have been a part of Egypt since the earliest days of Christianity, were of course subjected to the “Dhimmi” state once Egypt fell to the Islamic invasions by 641. Dhimmi is a term from the Koran. It is specifically interpreted to mean “protected”, but the connotations of the word imply that of living in subjection as non-citizens, payment of taxes due to their Moslem rulers, and a status that is supposed to instill a sense of humiliation.

Unlike Christian communities in other Islamic countries, the Copts have somehow maintained a population of close to 10% of the Egyptian population. Christian groups in such countries typically experience reductions of adherents year by year until few or none are left. Through the centuries, many can no longer afford to be subject to the “jizya” (the tax); their people may convert to but are not allowed to leave Islam under pain of death, and legal/ business practices are almost always made in the favor of Muslims vs. Christians.

The Copts would suffer periodic bursts of persecution by Muslim mobs or small groups during the days of Mubarak and his predecessors. This would include attacks/burnings of churches, kidnaps and repeated rapes of Coptic girls/young women (also being forced to utter Muslim prayers and the Islamic profession of faith, making them Moslems to their captors), and numerous other examples of persecution. The Arab Spring, however, has released a Pandora’s box of attacks on the Copts without even the heavy hand of the autocracy to put a stop to the ‘locker room beatings’ once the bullied High School student has again learned his place for the moment.

Muslims in Egypt have stepped up their attacks on Copts with essentially no fear of punishment from the military government. All that is needed is a rumor or a proclamation that a rumor exists for the mob to assemble and lash out. A recent example is an accusation that a Copt has kidnapped one of their own who has converted to Islam. This of course is standard practice with Muslims with Family members who become Christian and looks very much like the psychological meaning of the word ‘projection’. There of course was no evidence that any of these women had opted at any time for the incredibly liberating status of being a Muslim woman…

[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Jewish Extremists Storm Al-Aqsa Mosque

West Bank, (Pal Telegraph)-Groups of Jewish extremists on early Sunday entered Al-Aqsa mosque and started roaming the courtyards and facilities under protection of Israeli forces.

Local sources said that successive numbers of Jewish extremists guarded by Israeli forces stormed Al-Aqsa mosque from Al-Magharbi gate and provocatively roamed in courtyards and facilities of the mosque. Sources added that Israeli forces attempted to terrorize Muslim worshipers who were in the mosque to perform their prayers. At the same time, Israeli police stationed at the outer gates of Al-Aqsa mosque tightened restrictions to prevent Palestinians from accessing the mosque specially the young ones and hold their identity cards.

Jewish extremists called to storm Al-Aqsa mosque on Sunday in order to mark their holidays, while Jerusalemite citizens gathered to defend their most holy place.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Malaysia: “Obedient Wives Club” Calls for Group Sex in “Islamic Sex, Fighting Jews to Return Islamic Sex to the World”

An “Obedient Wife Club” known in Malaysia for its controversial views has published a book urging men in polygamous Muslim marriages to have group sex with their wives, a report said Friday. The club, formed earlier this year, has made headlines with its radical suggestions on sex and marriage in conservative, Muslim-majority Malaysia. They include earlier calling on women to be “whores in bed” to prevent their men from straying and pursuing divorce. In a 115-page book titled “Islamic Sex, Fighting Jews to Return Islamic Sex to the World,” the group calls on Muslim husbands to have sex with all their wives simultaneously, The Star daily reported.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Far East

Philippines: PIME Missionary Killed in Kidapawan

Fr. Fausto Tentorio was murdered in front of the parish of Arakan. For over 32 years in the Philippines, the missionary had worked closely with the Indigenous, threatened by the growing mining industry. Fr. Tentorium is the third PIME missionary to be killed in Mindanao.

Zamboanga (AsiaNews) — A missionary from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) was killed this morning on the island of Mindanao (Philippines).

Fr. Fausto Tentorio, 59, who had spent more than 32 years in the Philippines, was killed this morning by a stranger, as he prepared to leave the parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Arakan, North Cotabato. Like every Monday, had a meeting with the priests of the diocese in the bishop’s house. The murderer approached him and killed him with two shots to the head. The author and motive for the killing are still unknown. According to witnesses, he was wearing a helmet and his face could not be seen. After the murder, the killer escaped to safety on a motorcycle.

Fr. Tentorio had worked for some time among the tribal groups of the diocese, living with them. His evangelization also included his commitment to ensure the survival and rights of these populations, often marginalized and robbed of the land.

Leonardo Revoca, a former parishioner of Fr Tentorio and town councilor in Arakan stressed the missionary efforts to stop the spread of the mining industry, which is destroying the lives of indigenous peoples.

PIME superior in the Philippines, Fr. Gianni Re, has declined to make any statement for now. He has simply said: “I am deeply saddened. Fr. Fausto was one of my closest friends. “

Fr. Tentorio, born in St. Mary Rovagnate (Lecco), had entered the PIME seminary of the diocese of Milan. His fellow students remember him as a simple and friendly person.

Fr. Fausto Tentorio is the third PIME missionary to be killed in the Philippines and the island of Mindanao. In 1985, Fr. Tullio Favali was killed in Tulunan, in the Diocese of Kidapawan, by a group of private armed guards, in 1992, Fr Salvatore. Carzedda, engaged in dialogue with Muslims, was killed in Zamboanga. In 2007, Fr. Giancarlo Bossi was kidnapped by a splinter group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, but was released after two months of captivity. In 1998 Fr. Luciano Benedetti was also kidnapped. His abductors, a Muslim group, released him after about 2 months.

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

Philippines: Construction of Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque Near Completion

The largest mosque ever to be built in the Southern Philippine province of Mindanao, the ‘Masjid Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah’ also bears the same accolade for the entire Philippine archipelago. Built on a 5,000-square-metre area within a five-hectare prime property donated by Congressman Didagen Dilangalen, in the seaside village of Inawan, Kalanganan Dos, Cotabato City, the Grand Mosque, as it has also come to be popularly known as, can be seen from the East by those arriving by sea from the Moro Gulf and from the South by those arriving via Cotabato City’s Awang Airport, eight kilometres away.

With just two per cent of the works left incomplete, the Masjid Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah has spent the past two months, just like the peace process, waiting for the Philippine authorities to complete works on the exterior car park, as well as the installation of electricity and water before it can be 100 per cent completed.Cotabato City’s Masjid Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah is one of three bilateral projects between the Brunei and Philippine governments that is set to further symbolise the strong friendship between the two peoples.

Set to be the centre of Islamic faith in Mindanao, from which to propagate the Islamic religion, Brunei has contributed US$3 million towards the construction of the mosque, it is eagerly anticipated that the Masjid Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah will be opened by its regal namesake, sometime this year, as soon as the mosque is totally completed. The Masjid Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah is the first mosque in the Philippines with a mihrab, a niche indicating the qiblat, the direction of Islamic prayer, which commemorates the presence of the Prophet, placed towards the direction of Mecca by utilising modern global positioning satellite technology of locating the precise coordinates of structures, in the centre of the front main prayer room, which was designed to accommodate up to 1,000 worshippers.

With its four minarets soaring 40 metres high from which a public address system is fixed with huge speakers used to call the faithful to prayer five times a day. Painted bright yellow to emphasise its prominence from a distance against the backdrop of green mountains and the hue of the blue river and the sea, there are 14 other smaller domes, painted in majestic gold, also acts as wind towers that siphon cool air to dissipate to the rooms below.

The largest structure in the immediate surrounding area, the Masjid Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah is elevated from the main road to further emphasise its prominence from its rustic background. It has been specifically designed to symbolise the very best expression of the Muslim faith in the Philippines and the aspirations of the neglected region, the biggest in the 7,107-island Philippine archipelago, which is further hoped to encourage and stimulate economic growth and development in the war-torn province. In fact, local Muslims have been regularly seen, braving long hours of travel from all across the vast province to the Grand Mosque as a pilgrimage, proving the importance of this project.

Aside from the Masjid Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, Brunei Darussalam further lends its support through its continued commitment and presence in the International Monitoring Team to help maintain and safeguard the peace process in Mindanao, as well as the Madrassah Scholarship Programme at Universiti Brunei Darussalam for Filipino Muslims to instil Islamic values and knowledge and teach the language in a transfer of technology from Brunei to the Philippines.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]