Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20111020

Financial Crisis
»Bild Reveals €200 Billion Greek Capital Flight
»Brussels Rediscovers Market Regulation
»Chaos in Athens Amid Second Day of Anti-Austerity Clashes
»Greece: Three State Aid Schemes Incompatible With the EU Law
»Greece: Violent Clashes, One Dead in Athens
»Living ‘La Vita Bella’: Italians Leave Fears of Debt Crisis to Others
»A Response to Matt Duss: Defamation by Any Other Name …
»Eskandari Speaks on American Mosques
»Forget the “Ground Zero Mosque, “ How About “Soho House for Muslims?”
»Horowitz and Spencer’s Islamophobia
»Philadelphia: ‘Geezer’ Won’t Let Thugs Ruin His Walks
»Police Uniforms Include the Hijab
Europe and the EU
»Ancient Images of a Mother Giving Birth Found
»Norway: On Utoya: New Collection of Essays Analysing Breivik’s Terrorist Attack
»Spain: Girl Expelled From Exam Readmitted to School w/Hijab
»Spain: Basque Militant Group ETA Says it is Laying Down Arms
»Sweden: Imam’s On-Air Death Threat ‘Not Hate Speech’
»UK: Ardnamurchan Viking Boat Burial Discovery ‘A First’
»UK: Campus Extremism is Made Up — UCL [University College London] Head
»UK: Great Harwood Mosque Extension Plan on the Agenda
»UK: Increasing the Teachings of Islam
»UK: Lutfur Rahman: All His Controversies in One Place
»UK: National Affiliate’s Response to Richard Dawkin’s [Sic] Latest Comment
»UK: White Officers Accuse Metropolitan Police of Racism
»NATO Begins Dismantling Serb Barricade in Northern Kosovo
North Africa
»Egyptian Islamist Tycoon Courts Investors
»Libyan Dictator Moammar Gadhafi is Dead, Rebels Claim
»Libya: Berlusconi Speaks in Latin to Comment on Death of Former ‘Friend’ Gaddafi
»Reports Indicate Gadhafi is Dead
»Tunisian Islamic Party Fears Ballot Rigging
»UK Coptic Christians Call for Inquiry
Israel and the Palestinians
»Remembering Gaza
Middle East
»Caroline Glick: Iran’s War to Win
»Lebanon: New Welfare Model Financed by Italy
»Rogozin Consider Mass Muslim Prayers in Downtown Moscow a Demonstration of Power
South Asia
»Development Aid in Afghanistan: The Country Where Hope Goes to Die
»India: ‘West Has Failed to Eradicate Radical Islam’
»India’s ‘Silicon Valley’ Is the Country’s Suicide Capital
»Malaysia: ‘One Million Muslims Rally’ Should be Peaceful — Jamil
»Pakistan: Judge Who Sentenced Salman Taseer’s Murderer Removed
»Tajikistan Imposes More Restrictions to Fight Radicalism
»Thai Capital Braces Itself for Floods
Far East
»Angry Words Over East Asian Seas
»Independent Candidates Gear Up for a Fight in China
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Somali Kidnappers Demand Cash for Frenchwoman’s Body
»Swiss Party Heading for Victory Wants to Ban Immigration
Culture Wars
»The Legend of “White Racism”
»Astronomers Spot Birth of Alien Planet for First Time
»Cities Will Feel Brunt as Global Population Passes 7 Billion
»Comets May be Creating Oceans on Alien Planet
»Comet-Seeded Alien Oceans Could be Common

Financial Crisis

Bild Reveals €200 Billion Greek Capital Flight

Bild, 19 October 2011

Unsparing in its criticism of Greece, Bild launches another broadside against its favourite target: “Greeks stash 200 billion euros in Swiss bank accounts!” headlines the Berlin tabloid, whose influence on the Chancellorship is an open secret. “While Europe struggles to help Greece with multi-billion euro bailout plans, more and more Greeks are transferring their money out of the country” to avoid the consequences of a crash in the national economy, announces Bild. “Stop the capital flight!” insists the tabloid’s editorial, which lambasts the Greek elite for refusing to introduce a tax on money transfers or penalties for tax evasion.

This capital should be tracked down in Switzerland, remarks Financial Times Deutschland, which argues that “Switzerland should extradite the Greek money.” The daily reports that Bern is preparing to hold negotiations with Athens to prevent the flight of Greek capital, which will be inspired agreements already concluded with Germany and the UK: the goal will be to tax revenues generated by capital belonging to Greek clients. In exchange, Greece will drop plans to pursue tax evaders and implicated banks. “Athens is hoping that this measure will help to calm social dissent in the country, where the government has been criticised for placing the bulk of the burden of the crisis on the middle and working classes,” explains FTD.

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

Brussels Rediscovers Market Regulation

La Tribune, 20 October 2011

Amid the current market turmoil, the EU Commission has a “plan to tame the markets,” says French financial daily La Tribune. An “impressive legislative package, that could be called the European equivalent of the Dodd-Frank [Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection] Act in the United States,” will be presented by EU Internal Market and Services Commissioner, Michel Barnier on October 20. The tools provided in the new bill include criminalising market abuses and measures to prevent speculation on raw materials.

“Six years after having deregulated its financial markets, Europe is turning coat,” notes the paper. The aim of the new bill is to respond to critics against the excessive deregulation of markets that followed the implementation, in 2007, of the Markets in Financial Instruments and Investment Services Directive (MiFID). The MiFID allowed, for example, some transactions to be carried out outside of regulated stock markets through electronic platforms operated by the banks themselves, thus escaping from European regulations.

The Commission is proposing to create a new category of trading areas — organised trading facilities (OFT) — which would have to meet transparency requirements. “But [the OFTs] will remain private infrastructures and the banks will still have discretionary power over how the operations will be carried out,” La Tribune says. The proposals come two days after the European Parliament restricted naked sovereign credit default swaps [derivatives that speculate on whether a country will default on its debts]. “The United Kingdom, traditional ally of the major banks, has lost some influence,” the paper says. But, it warns, “lengthy negotiations are expected” before the bill is adopted.

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

Chaos in Athens Amid Second Day of Anti-Austerity Clashes

Greece was in the grips of violent protests Thursday as the country’s international creditors forced a second parliamentary vote on further harsh austerity measures. The World Bank said the crisis could still spread. Sections of the Greek capital, Athens, witnessed violent clashes Thursday as some 35,000 demonstrators took to the streets to protest a new austerity package that was set to face a second parliamentary vote at the behest of Greece’s international creditors.

One union had vowed to encircle the parliament building in an attempt to keep lawmakers from casting their vote on the deeply unpopular measures.

Police reportedly fired tear gas at hooded youths near Athens’ central Syntagma Square after the assailants had begun attacking demonstrating unionists. Combatants wielding batons donned motorcycle helmets and attacked each other.

The violence marks the second day of unrest in the city, which resembled a warzone on Wednesday after protesters clashed with riot police, leaving at least 45 people injured, with stores, banks and hotels vandalized and cars torched.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greece: Three State Aid Schemes Incompatible With the EU Law

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, OCTOBER 19 — Today the European Commission has adopted a decision declaring incompatible with the internal market three State aid schemes concerning the rescheduling of debts in a series of Greek departments (Kastoria, Euboea, Florina, Kilkis, Rhodopos, Evros, Xanthi, Dodecanese and the islands of Lesbos, Samos and Chios).

Those schemes, mainly earmarked for companies in difficulty, cover agriculture as well as industrial activities. The three schemes have been declared incompatible with the internal market because companies in difficulty have received aid without having submitted any restructuring plan. The precise amount of aid granted is still to be determined, as Greece did not yet collect all needed figures. Greece will have to recover all incompatible aids with interests. Aids complying with the provisions of any applicable “de minimis” Regulation are not considered as State aids and won’t be recovered.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: Violent Clashes, One Dead in Athens

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS — One protester died of a heart attack, while people are fleeing Syntagma Square in Athens, after protesters gathered in the central plaza in the second day of the general strike in the country. There have been clashes between men armed with clubs from the “order service” of the Communist party and around 300 hooded men, who have attacked police forces in the area. The order service is defending the Monument to the Unknown Soldier and Parliament. Meanwhile, envoys from the “troika” have written in their report that the conditions requested from Greece have been met.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Living ‘La Vita Bella’: Italians Leave Fears of Debt Crisis to Others

By Alexander Smoltczyk

For the financial markets, Italy’s debts are a disaster waiting to happen. But after living with the problem for hundreds of years, most Italians would seem to disagree. They insist that no other country knows as much about getting in and out of debt — and that many of their fiscal strengths go unappreciated.

After so many centuries, the secret door sticks a bit. But it still exists, hidden behind an image of Italy in the “Hall of Maps” of Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio. “Eccolo,” says Francesca, the custodian. “It happened here.”

This is where it all began. Starting sometime in the mid-14th century, the leather-bound ledgers the city of Florence used to record its debts were kept hidden in this secret place. Someone in the city government had apparently hit upon the idea of using the citizens’ money to fund the next military campaign. After Florence’s (supposedly certain) victory, the city would simply repay the debts — and with interest.

The wealthy Florentines, who were required to buy their city’s debt securities, had their names recorded in the ledgers at Palazzo Vecchio. But, for them, paying up was still preferable to putting on their own suits of armor to defend the city. Besides, they could also sell these new debt securities to others.

The arrangement marked the beginnings of a system of state borrowing and trading in government bonds. Today’s $50-trillion (€36-trillion) market in government bonds, which is now forcing governments to their knees, originated in Italy — first in Venice and, later, in the hills of Tuscany.

The concept of debt securities quickly caught on, and soon the cities of Siena, Florence, Pisa and Venice were hopelessly in debt — a condition that persists to this day.

Inheriting the Bill

“We currently pay more in interest than we spend on our schools,” says Matteo Renzi, who makes the Palazzo Vecchio his home as the mayor of Florence. Renzi, only 36, was voted into office on the strength of his reputation as a “bulldozer” — and his pledge to finally clean house in Florence. He is the youthful face of his party, the center-left Democratic Party (PD), a mayor who wears jeans and has Apple stickers on his oak desk. “Our fathers walked into the restaurant, and we inherited the bill.”

The bill — at least for his city of Florence — currently amounts to €518 million.

Many see Florence as the embodiment of the euro-zone nightmare, with massive government debt, close to zero growth and a government led by a man who has been charged with tax evasion.

No other European country, except Greece, is as deeply indebted as Italy. The country’s debt level has reached 120.3 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP). At the same time, Italy has one of the lowest birth rates in the Western world, which means that there will be fewer and fewer people to pay off its debts in the future…

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


A Response to Matt Duss: Defamation by Any Other Name …

by Robert Spencer

Indicative of Matt Duss’s dishonesty in his response to the article I co-wrote with David Horowitz about the manipulative neologism “Islamophobia” is his initial labeling of us as “anti-Muslim activists” and his characterization of our work as “the dissemination of hateful anti-Muslim ideas.” This appellation is not only inaccurate; it is highly defamatory, as it is intended to mislead Duss’s readers into assuming that we oppose a group of people out of sheer racism or bigotry, rather than opposing a radically intolerant and oppressive ideology.

In reality, neither David Horowitz nor I are “anti-Muslim,” as I have stated many times. It is neither “anti-Muslim” nor “hateful” to stand for human rights for all people, including Muslims, and to defend the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, and equality of rights for women, all of which are denied under traditional forms of sharia.

Duss claims that we are part of “an organized campaign to spread misinformation about the religious faith of millions of Americans” — while denying that he is “peddling ‘conspiracy theories’“ about us. He makes much of the fact that the reliably Leftist Anti-Defamation League has smeared us also, asking rhetorically, “Should the Anti-Defamation League also be lumped among the ‘jihadist apologists’?” Why not? Why should it be surprising that an organization that consistently follows a far-Left political line would follow it in this also?

Above all, like the CAP report itself, Duss does not and cannot provide any evidence either that an “organized campaign to spread misinformation” exists, or that anything that Horowitz or I or any of the other targeted “Islamophobes” have said is false. He does try, however. He quotes, as if it is self-evidently false, my statement that Islam “is the only major world religion with a developed doctrine and tradition of warfare against unbelievers,” but offers no refutation of it.

If Duss can produce evidence of another major world religion with a developed doctrine or tradition of warfare against unbelievers (the Crusades, for those who may wish to toss them in here, did not proceed on the basis of any such Christian doctrine; no sect of Christianity ever taught as a matter of faith that believers were obligated to make war upon unbelievers), or that the sects of Islam and schools of Islamic law do not contain such developed doctrines and traditions, I will duly retract. But with Al-Azhar University, the most prestigious institution in Sunni Islam, endorsing (as conforming “to the practice and faith of the orthodox Sunni community”) a manual of Islamic law that declares that Muslims must wage war “upon Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians . . . until they become Muslim or pay the non-Muslim poll tax,” Duss may find such a refutation rough going.

Duss shows a similar lack of knowledge of Islamic doctrine and law when he attempts to refute my statement that “there is no form of sharia that does not contain . . . [the] death penalty for apostasy” by asserting that I am “obviously ignorant of the manner in which Islam is practiced by millions of sharia-adherent Muslims in the United States.” The ignorance is his: Muslims in the U.S. do not adhere to sharia in its fullness, as no less an authority than the Ground Zero Mosque imam Faisal Abdul Rauf recently affirmed when he said that “the only truly clashing area” between Islamic law and modern Western society “is the penal code, and no Muslim has the intention of introducing that to America.” So if Rauf affirms that Muslims in America do not adhere to the sharia penal code, and Duss affirms that Muslims in America are “sharia-adherent,” whom should we believe? I will go with the internationally renowned imam over the non-Muslim Leftist ideologue, thank you. And as for whether or not there is actually a form of sharia, that is, a school of Islamic jurisprudence, that does not teach that apostates deserve death, I challenge Duss to find it. But he will search in vain.

Duss then claims that “the unmistakable implication of these claims is that all observant Muslims should be viewed with suspicion simply by virtue of being observant Muslims,” and that “that’s obviously Islamophobic.” In reality, the unmistakable implication of these facts is only that there are aspects of traditional Islamic law that are incompatible with constitutional values. Here again, Rauf himself says nothing less. Is he, too, an “Islamophobe”?

In concluding his new smear piece, Duss complains that National Review published our article in the first place, and pleads that we be read out of honorable American conservatism. Here he exposes his real agenda in all its ugliness. Duss’s Center for American Progress, the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and other leftist and Islamic-supremacist groups are conducting an ongoing campaign to discredit and marginalize everyone who dares to stand up against the jihad and Islamic supremacism. They are bent on destroying every last individual who does not adopt a warmly positive stance toward the spread of sharia in the West and all other manifestations of the advancing jihad. The stakes are very high. If we don’t resist this Islamic supremacist thuggery, Duss and his Islamic-supremacist allies will succeed in stamping out all discussion of the truth about Islam and jihad, thereby rendering us mute and defenseless before its advance. That’s why we have to resist now, at every step, and continue to expose this propagandistic “Islamophobia” campaign.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Eskandari Speaks on American Mosques

Former Associate Director of the American Institute of Architects Maryam Eskandari discussed the roles of gender, architectural functionality and modernity in a public lecture before an audience of about 25 on Wednesday night. Eskandari, who is currently working on a post-professional degree in modern Islamic architecture in the West, said that her inspiration started with an interest in American mosques. While American mosques seem to be at risk, following a trend in Europe to ban the minaret and the Ground Zero controversy, Eskandari noted that American mosques have been supported in the past by figures like Eisenhower and Rockefeller. “Eisenhower stated that this mosque was part of a rich tradition,” Eskandari said. Years later, when funding fell short for a new mosque, “Rockefeller stepped in and paid $1 million for a minaret.”

From the first major American mosque, designed by Mario Rossi in 1949, to the high point of American mosques in 1980, to the current 1,500 mosques that exist throughout the country, American mosques have experienced a transition from more traditional architecture to postmodern designs. Rossi’s mosque was commissioned to honor a Turkish ambassador who had died in Washington, D.C., and, like most of the mosques of its time, it was very nostalgic of traditional architecture. Park51, on the other hand, was designed to be very clean-cut and modern — and despite all the controversy that surrounded its location near Ground Zero — was intended to signal unity among different faiths.

“It was supposed to bring the three Abrahamic faiths together, and it had a very postmodern, contemporary style of architecture,” Eskandari said. While Eskandari described the push for an end to American mosques as an external force, she also described the internal force of gender equality within mosques. “Ahmad Mokhtar wrote that women didn’t need equal space, since they prayed less since women don’t pray during the menstrual period,” Eskandari said. “To me that doesn’t make sense anymore.”

While the first mosques actually promoted gender equality, Eskandari said, she described how over time men and women became segregated in mosques, with men taking the main floor so that women had to pray in the back, the balcony or the basement. “We tend to forget that men and women actually [once] prayed together,” Eskandari said. To promote equality between men and women, Eskandari proposed many different layouts, including barriers down the middle of the mosque or a design similar to those of modern churches.

“The problem is clearly the body and the position of the body,” Eskandari said, explaining the problems of men and women seeing too much of each other’s bodies during prayer.

This problem brought up the relations between physical architecture and personal architecture, as physical barriers only became necessary when people personally did not choose to cover themselves enough, she added.

In addition to gender equality, Eskandari also discussed the issues of sustainability and religious plurality, noting the successful construction of a mosque in Sudan that was funded by and supported the needs of both the Muslim and Christian communities. “How do we do this in the states?” Eskandari asked. “That is what we are working on right now.” Eskandari’s lecture ended with very involved audience question-and-answer session that focused on both gender equality and the relationship between architecture and spirituality. “It was interesting to get a different perspective [on gender issues],” Aminata Seydi ‘14 said. “People think that traditionally women are subjugated in Islam, but it’s really a question of what you see when you bend over.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Forget the “Ground Zero Mosque, “ How About “Soho House for Muslims?”

The so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” has problems, and not just in the minds of those patriots patriots fighting its theoretical existence. The developer behind the project is not only ensnared in a bitter rent dispute with Con Ed, which owns the property on Park Place, but he’s also been missing tax payments. The Daily News reports that developer Sharif el-Gamal missed a scheduled $30,000 property tax payment that was due on October 3rd. And after reporters asked him about it, he allegedly forwarded doctored receipts to prove that he paid up on the 5th. But the city Finance Department told the News the payment “was actually made yesterday at 3:55 p.m.-roughly half an hour after Gamal claimed he’d already paid.”

El-Gamal says he simply forwarded along the information his employee gave him, but it certainly appears that he tried to pull a fast one on the News. To his credit, he has been candid about the difficulties he’s faced raising the money for the project, and he doesn’t even had an architect. “One thing that I will say is that everybody is endorsing this project but people are afraid to actually… put money into the project because of the controversy,” he tells the Wall Street Journal.

For that reason, el-Gamal is going commercial. The mosque and community center will still be part of whatever gets built, but not the focal point. Among the possibilities under consideration, he tells the Journal, starting a Soho House for Muslims, “similar to the exclusive private members’ club and hotel with locations across the world. All options are on the table,” says el-Gamal. “We’re looking at all the different potential uses. We could do anything there. We’re sitting on a very valuable piece of real estate.” Two words, el-Gamal: SHAKE SHACK.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Horowitz and Spencer’s Islamophobia

by Matt Duss

The authors’ latest piece reveals their true feelings about Islam.

To the editors:

In a recent article for National Review Online, David Horowitz and Robert Spencer criticized the Center for American Progress’s report “Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America.” Following a familiar formula, the authors play the victim, accusing CAP of peddling “conspiracy theories” about anti-Muslim activists like themselves. Even a cursory glance at our report, however, shows we have done no such thing. Quite the contrary, the dissemination of hateful anti-Muslim ideas by Horowitz, Spencer, and others is done right out in the open. CAP’s contribution was to document these efforts, to draw together the various strands in order to properly view them as part of a coherent whole — an organized campaign to spread misinformation about the religious faith of millions of Americans.

The authors first take issue with our use of the term “Islamophobia,” claiming “the purpose of the suffix — phobia — is to identify any concern about troubling Islamic institutions and actions as irrational, or worse as a dangerous bigotry that should itself be feared.” This is false. As my co-authors and I note in our report, we don’t use the term “Islamophobia” lightly. We define it as an exaggerated fear, hatred, and hostility toward Islam and Muslims that is perpetuated by negative stereotypes resulting in bias, discrimination, and the marginalization and exclusion of Muslims from America’s social, political, and civic life.

We think that any fair-minded reader of Horowitz and Spencer’s work, which our report extensively documents, would conclude that it qualifies. Engaging in exactly the sort of careless slander that our report examines, the authors then deride similar reports from what they refer to as “[Muslim] Brotherhood fronts like CAIR [the Council on American-Islamic Relations], and jihadist apologists like the Southern Poverty Law Center.” Interestingly, they spare the Anti-Defamation League, which released a backgrounder earlier this year declaring that Spencer’s group, Stop Islamization of America, “promotes a conspiratorial anti-Muslim agenda under the guise of fighting radical Islam.”

Spencer’s group, the Anti-Defamation League wrote, “seeks to rouse public fears by consistently vilifying the Islamic faith and asserting the existence of an Islamic conspiracy to destroy ‘American’ values.” Should the Anti-Defamation League also be lumped with the “jihadist apologists”? Rather than addressing such charges, however, the authors spend the majority of their response listing reasons why Islamic extremist terrorism represents a genuine threat to American security. But they are rebutting an argument we have not made. As evidenced by the considerable amount of work CAP has produced on the subject, we take the issue of national security extremely seriously — far more seriously than Horowitz and Spencer’s selective, inflammatory, and unscholarly rendering of the Islamic peril suggests that they themselves do.

It is enormously revealing that Horowitz and Spencer do not address the actual argument made in “Fear, Inc.,” which is that they, along with a small cadre of self-appointed experts and activists, promote the idea that religiously inspired terrorism represents true Islam. (“Traditional Islam itself is not moderate or peaceful,” wrote Spencer in 2006. “It is the only major world religion with a developed doctrine and tradition of warfare against unbelievers.”) They also promote the idea that Sharia law is incompatible with a modern society (“There is no form of Sharia that does not contain . . . [the] death penalty for apostasy,” wrote Spencer, obviously ignorant of the manner in which Islam is practiced by millions of Sharia-adherent Muslims in the United States).

The unmistakable implication of these claims is that all observant Muslims should be viewed with suspicion simply by virtue of being observant Muslims. That’s obviously Islamophobic. (It also flies in the face of the evidence. Earlier this year, the largest study of Muslim Americans ever done, the Muslim American Public Opinion Survey, found that “involvement with the mosque, and increased religiosity increases civic engagement and support for American democratic values.”)

It is worth noting here the irony of Horowitz and Spencer’s accusing CAP of promulgating a conspiracy theory, because, as the Anti-Defamation League’s backgrounder also notes, a conspiracy is precisely what those authors themselves allege in regard to American Muslims’ supposed efforts to infiltrate the American legal system with Islamic Sharia law. (For an examination and rebuttal of those claims, see CAP’s previous issue brief, “Understanding Sharia Law.”)

And finally, a word about the venue in which Horowitz and Spencer’s piece was published, National Review. While we don’t share many of this magazine’s positions, we recognize it as an institution of American conservatism and a key player in the American political debate. Its imprimatur matters, which is why we’re concerned that that imprimatur should be granted to characters like Horowitz and Spencer.

Back in the 1950’s, the stridently anti-Communist John Birch Society made very similar claims about the threat of Communism that Islamophobes now make about the threat of Islam. At one point, Robert Welch, the founder of the John Birch Society, wrote that Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower was “a dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy.” National Review’s founder and editor, William F. Buckley Jr., responded to Welch’s allegation with condemnation. “How can the John Birch Society be an effective political instrument while it is led by a man whose views on current affairs are, at so many critical points . . . so far removed from common sense?” Buckley asked. “That dilemma weighs on conservatives across America.” Buckley’s condemnation helped marginalize the John Birch Society from the mainstream conservative movement for decades.

In Horowitz’s FrontPage magazine on Feb. 3, 2011, Spencer wrote, “[Muslim] Brotherhood operatives are in the American government and working closely with it, thanks to Barack Obama.” On Sept. 12, 2011, Spencer criticized President Obama’s choice of a Bible verse read at the 9/11 commemorations as evidence of the president’s “remarkable, unqualified and obvious affinity for Islam.” The list of similar allegations from Spencer is not short. This new dilemma should weigh on conservatives across America. David Horowitz, Robert Spencer, and the rest of the Islamophobes we name in our report are the modern version of the John Birch Society. Judging Robert Welch’s allegations of President Eisenhower’s supposed Communist sympathies to be beyond the pale, William F. Buckley denounced them in the pages of National Review. It’s unfortunate that, rather than do the same in response to Welch’s heirs, today’s National Review gives them a platform.

- Matt Duss is a policy analyst at the Center for American Progress and the director of the Center’s Middle East Progress project. He is a co-author of “Fear Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America.”

[JP note: Duss is no Buckley and Horowitz/Spencer are not the John Birch Society. Case dismissed.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Philadelphia: ‘Geezer’ Won’t Let Thugs Ruin His Walks

AN 84-YEAR-OLD ex-university official savagely attacked by four young punks during a walk in Wissahickon Valley Park earlier this week theorizes that the beating he endured was a cruel game of “get the old geezer.”

Jim Shea, a former vice president of university relations for Temple, from 1968 to 1983, walks up to five miles on Forbidden Drive, in Fairmount Park, three times a week, but that type of stamina wasn’t enough to stave off the lowlifes who not only beat him bloody, but dealt a blow to one of the things he holds most dear — his pride.

Shea was near the Valley Green Inn, on Forbidden Drive, in the Wissahickon Valley Park, about 1:15 p.m. Monday when he was hit from behind.

“I felt a real something to the head, a real blow to the head from behind,” he said. “It knocked me to the ground; that was the biggie.”

Shea said the four assailants continued to beat him for minutes while he was on the ground. He said they were black, appeared to be between 16 and 20, and three of them were wearing La Salle sweatshirts.

Police and Shea said that at least one of the attackers used a rock to hit him, causing deep cuts above his eyes. They all kicked and punched him while he was on the ground, conscious the entire time.

“There was only one I really saw well because he came back to kick me,” Shea said. “The others spent a great deal of the time laughing.”

The real “stunner” to Shea is that they left without trying to take his wallet, keys or cellphone.

“I think it was just to get the old geezer,” Shea said. “They were some bad kids with rancid souls.”

He tried to walk back to the Valley Green Inn alone, dripping with blood, but a bicyclist came to his aid.

Shea spent four hours at Chestnut Hill Hospital, getting stitches in his face — from his eyelid to his cheek — and treatment for two large scrapes on his leg and elbow. Shea also said two bones in his nose were broken.

The attackers have not yet been caught, police said yesterday. Despite that, Shea said he plans to be back out walking on Forbidden Drive next week.

“I hope to make myself do it,” he said. “It’s been a wonderful thing for me at my age.”

           — Hat tip: Takuan Seiyo[Return to headlines]


Police Uniforms Include the Hijab

Whether it’s worn by a police officer, hockey player, usher, or soldier, surely the ostensible reason for donning a uniform is to have, well, uniformity.

But things are changing in regard to uniforms at that ever-sensitive “service” formerly known as the Toronto police force.

Indeed, the police have announced they’re going to accommodate Muslim policewomen who want to wear the hijab on duty.

Some might hail such a move as another shining example of “reasonable accommodation”; others — count me among them — look upon this directive as another assault against Canadian traditions.

Yet again, a public institution appears to be bowing to the tyranny of political correctness — bending over backwards to accommodate certain individuals, some of whom are quite unaccommodating of western values.

The question arises: What’s driving this directive? Why is it important for the police to have hijab-wearing policewomen in the first place?

Contrary to widespread popular belief, the Qur’an doesn’t mandate Muslim women to wear the hijab.

In this regard, the apparel accommodation isn’t the same as allowing a Sikh to wear a turban.

(I’d also argue there’s an historical reason for permitting Sikhs to wear turbans, given that Sikh military brigades have long been an integral part of the British Empire.) If anything, the hijab is a political statement and a symbol of fundamentalism.

           — Hat tip: Van Grungy[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Ancient Images of a Mother Giving Birth Found

An international team of archaeologists has unearthed what might be the earliest representation of childbirth in western art, they announced today.

Consisting of two images of a woman giving birth to a child, the intimate scene was found on a small fragment from a ceramic vessel that is more than 2,600 years old.


“Such images are rare in ancient and classical art. A few, much later Greek and Roman images are known, but this one dates to about 600 B.C.,” Perkins, who first identified the scene, told Discovery News.

A fun loving and eclectic people who among other things taught the French how to make wine, the Romans how to build roads, and introduced the art of writing into Europe, the Etruscans began to flourish around 900 B.C., and dominated much of Italy for five centuries.

Known for their art, agriculture, fine metalworking and commerce, they begun to decline during the fifth century B.C., as the Romans grew in power. By 300-100 B.C., they eventually became absorbed into the Roman empire.

Since their puzzling, non-Indo-European language was virtually extinguished (they left no literature to document their society),the Etruscans have long been considered one of antiquity’s great enigmas.

           — Hat tip: Egghead[Return to headlines]

Norway: On Utoya: New Collection of Essays Analysing Breivik’s Terrorist Attack

In a challenging new book, a collection of Australian and British writers respond to the terrorist attack by Anders Breivik, and attempts by the Right to depoliticise it.

On July 22, 2011, Anders Breivik, a right-wing writer and activist, killed more than sixty young members of the Norwegian Labour Party on Utøya island. Captured alive, Breivik was more than willing to explain his actions as a ‘necessary atrocity’ designed to ‘wake up’ Europe to its betrayal by the left, and its impending destruction through immigration.

Breivik’s beliefs — expressed at length in a manifesto, ‘2083’ — were part of a huge volume of right-wing alarmism and xenophobia that had arisen in the last decade. Yet Breivik, we were told by the Right, was simply a madman — so mad, in fact, that he had actually believed what the Right said: that Europe was in imminent danger of destruction, and extreme action was required.

On Utøya: Anders Breivik, right terror, racism and Europe is a response to this attempt to deny responsibility, and any connection of Breivik’s act to a rising cult of violence, racism, and apocalyptic language. The editors and authors shine a light on Breivik’s actions, and argue that they cannot be understood abstracted from the far Right racist and Islamophobic social and political conditions in which it emerged.

Organised, written and produced within three months of the killings, On Utøya is a challenge to anyone who would seek to portray this event as anything other than it is — a violent mass assassination, directed against the left, to terrorise people into silence and submission to a far-right agenda. It concludes with an examination of the manufacture of hate and fear in Australia, and considers what is needed in a Left strategy to deal with the growing threat of far Right organising. Edited by Elizabeth Humphrys, Guy Rundle and Tad Tietze, with essays by Anindya Bhattacharyya, Antony Loewenstein, Lizzie O’Shea, Richard Seymour, Jeff Sparrow and the editors.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Spain: Girl Expelled From Exam Readmitted to School w/Hijab

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, OCTOBER 19 — A 14-year-old girl, expelled from an exam that she was re-sitting at a Madrid secondary school because she was wearing a Muslim headscarf, which left her face uncovered, will be able to return to class and wear her hijab for the entire school year. The decision by the school board of the ‘Tierno Galvan’ secondary school, cited today by the press, put an end to the legal dispute initiated by the girl’s family, who denounced the episode to legal authorities and to Madrid advocates for minors. The school board is evaluating whether or not they should change their internal regulations which ban wearing headdresses preventing students from being identified, according to a spokesperson from the school. The student was suspended in September when re-sitting an exam. A teacher asked the girl to uncover her head in order to see if she was wearing headphones. When the 14-year-old refused, she was asked to leave the classroom. The girl was allowed to repeat the exam at a later session.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain: Basque Militant Group ETA Says it is Laying Down Arms

After nearly half a century of violence, the Basque separatist group ETA declared a unilateral end to its campaign of bombings and shootings on Friday, saying it wished to seize “an historical opportunity to reach a just and democratic resolution” of the conflict in the ethnically Basque areas of northeastern Spain and southwestern France.

The group’s announcement of “the definite cessation of its military activity” came in the form of a written statement and an accompanying video that was made available to The New York Times and the BBC in London under an embargo stipulating that the statement not to be made public until 6 p.m. British time, 1 p.m. EST in the United States. ETA’s officials said they planned to release the statement simultaneously to two sympathetic Basque-language newspapers , Garra and Berria, published in San Sebastian, the political center of the main Basque homeland in Spain.

[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Imam’s On-Air Death Threat ‘Not Hate Speech’

It was not hate speech when Swedish public service broadcaster Sveriges Radio (SR) featured a programme in which a Somali imam called for all converts from Islam to be killed, the Swedish Chancellor of Justice (Justitiekanslern, JK) has ruled.

The motivation for the decision not to open up an investigation into the matter was that the presenter protested against what the imam said immediately following the controversial statement.

The decision said that “the programme features opinions that could be taken as a threat aginst those who have converted from Islam”.

However, due to the responses from the presenter, the Chancellor has decided not to investigate the matter further.

The programme in question was a panel discussion and was broadcast live by SR International’s Somali service.

The initial police report was filed by Erik Johansson, at the Swedish Evangelical Mission (Evangeliska Fosterlands-Stiftelsen — EFS), after friends told him of the imam’s words underlining every Muslim’s responsibility to kill anyone who leaves Islam.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Ardnamurchan Viking Boat Burial Discovery ‘A First’

The UK mainland’s first fully intact Viking boat burial site has been uncovered in the west Highlands, archaeologists have said.

The site, at Ardnamurchan, is thought to be more than 1,000 years old.

Artefacts buried alongside the Viking in his boat suggest he was a high-ranking warrior.

Archaeologist Dr Hannah Cobb said the “artefacts and preservation make this one of the most important Norse graves ever excavated in Britain”.

Dr Cobb, from the University of Manchester, a co-director of the project, said: “This is a very exciting find.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Campus Extremism is Made Up — UCL [University College London] Head

Anti-extremism campaigners and Jewish students have rounded on University College London provost Malcolm Grant for claiming there is no problem with extremism on Britain’s campuses. Professor Grant, who was in charge at UCL two years ago when the former president of UCL’s Islamic Society, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, allegedly attempted to blow up a Detroit-bound airplane, told the Evening Standard that the issue had been “over-hyped” and that the law was “quite tight” on hate speech. “Talk to our Muslim and Jewish students and they will tell you that it is a non-issue: it just doesn’t exist,” said Professor Grant, who chaired the recent Universities UK investigation into extremism and hate speakers.

Prof Grant’s comments follow an academic year in which Abdel Bari Atwan accused Jewish students of “bombing Gaza” at an LSE event, and evidence was found of the promotion of a “hard-line Islamist ideology” at City University which led to the “harassment of staff, students and members of minority groups. In a survey of British Jewish students released earlier this month, it emerged that 42 per cent had witnessed or been subjected to antisemitism in the past academic year. In May, the government released the Prevent review into counter-terrorism, led by Lord Carlile. The Liberal Democrat peer said Prof Grant was “talking out of his hat” if he could not see that there was a problem. “He’s in denial and he needs to re-examine his whole approach,” said Lord Carlile.

James Brandon, the head of research for anti-extremism think-tank Quilliam, said they had discussed radicalisation at UCL and other university campuses with Prof Grant several times. He said the professor’s attitude was “deeply irresponsible” and that he was “clearly not suitable to lead a modern university. “It is clear that he’s made up his mind that extremism is not a real issue that affects many students,” he said. “I’m surprised he has challenged people to speak to his students. Many will be only too keen to say that extremism is a clear problem at UCL that negatively impacts their time at university.”

Rosanna Rafel, former co-president of UCL’s Jewish Society said she was shocked by Prof Grant’s denial. “I can tell you that he knows this is an outright lie,” she said. This was echoed by the Union of Jewish Students. Campaigns director Dan Sheldon said that, while hate speech on campus must be put into perspective, Prof Grant appeared to be “wilfully blind to the evidence of problems on our campuses — including his own”. Raheem Kassam, a former Muslim student and the director of counter-extremism group Student Rights, said the professor had put himself in an “untenable position” by denying “what government, pressure groups, think tanks and the security services know to be true”. “Grant’s comments are irresponsible, dangerous and serve to highlight the chasm between campus realities and ivory-tower based public relations efforts,” he said.

Gili Brenner, from Stand With Us UK, a campus activist group, said: “His arrogant dismissal of the problem as ‘over-hyped’ is a sad reminder of why the situation has become so severe. I suggest that, rather than seeking praise from academic circles, Prof Grant should roll up his sleeves to salvage the sunken reputation and credibility of British universities.”

A UCL spokeswoman would not respond directly to the criticism. Instead, she said that, following the Abdulmutallab inquiry, the university had updated its procedures regarding external speakers on campus. “If any students have concerns, we would encourage them to get in touch with the dean of students or UCL Union,” she said.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Great Harwood Mosque Extension Plan on the Agenda

A BID to extend a Great Harwood mosque has been submitted to planners at Hyndburn Council. Proposals for the Ghosia Mosque building, in Park Street, would see a rear and dormer extension created. The plan would also see the erection of a dome and minarets to the front roof slope and the extension finished in a sand and cement render to match the existing building. The changes are to create space for after school religious tuition and homework classes plus disabled toilet facilities and access

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Increasing the Teachings of Islam

Mosques should play a central role in the development of the community and in promoting social reforms.

The revelation a few weeks ago of the Gaddafi regime’s US-UK spy links, and the allegation that MI6 planted Libyan spies in British mosques to hunt down terror plots, caused great consternation in the Muslim community and within civil liberty circles. It may not be surprising that the British intelligence services had informers monitoring suspected violent extremists, including in places of worship; but it is deeply disturbing that such high levels of information-sharing took place between a developed democracy and a crude autocracy.

The Gaddafi regime was, rightly-so, a pariah for decades: brutal repression of freedoms and human rights was commonplace. The Blair government brought Gaddafi in from the cold, it is true: but the complicity in spying is simply inexcusable. The Coalition has rightly initiated an inquiry but it is difficult to say whether that will give us the full picture. Gaddafi’s time in Libya is now over, but successive governments’ flirtation with him in recent years is going to haunt our reputation for some time.

However, the main question is: Are mosques really a problem in our country? Why are governments so suspicious of “mosques” in particular? Sadly, the story of this suspicion goes back quite far. In contemporary times, finding problems with ‘places of worship’ started with our ‘religiously motivated’ Prime Minister, Tony Blair, in the aftermath of the 7/7 atrocities in London. Although there was no evidence whatsoever that those suicide bombers were in any way radicalised by mosques, Blair suggested the closure of places of worship in summer 2005 (after his ‘rules of the games have changed’ speech in August 2005). This was strongly opposed by not only Muslim organisations, led by the Muslim Council of Britain, but also by top police officers, backed up by the Church and civil liberty groups. As a result, the government dropped the closure proposal in December 2005. Unfortunately, this created further divisions between the government and the Muslim community, which continues even today.

There are approximately 1,500 mosques in Britain; many of them are small makeshift prayer rooms in shops, unused halls or terraced houses up and down the country. They were established primarily by the first generation Muslims who needed prayer places, personal and family counselling on theological matters and other religious facilities such as wedding and funeral venues. Over the decades, some purpose-built mosques have been added to the mosaic of the British landscape.

Being the change

Apart from being religious and spiritual centres, mosques are supposed to serve the community and build bridges between people, in line with the teachings of Islam. Mosques are expected to be at the forefront of community development with facilities to provide knowledge, skills, education and training to enhance the capacity of worshippers and contribute to the social empowerment of local people. If most British mosques, small and large, could play positive roles in bringing communities together and creating a sense of social belonging and civic responsibility with high quality services, the Muslim community could minimise its educational under-achievement, social deprivation and over-representation in the prison population.

Sadly, a good number of our mosques are struggling to cope with these needs. Yes, there are limitations in terms of physical space, resources and planning laws. But there is naivety and a lack of professionalism in many mosques, often run by first-generation Muslims. Some mosques are stalling in their interaction and engagement with the younger generations and with women. Others have difficulties in accommodating diverse groups from within their congregation. There is a mixed picture, with examples of achievements and disappointments. Raising standards in education and child protection is still an area that needs serious attention from the mosque management committees and local authorities.

However, apart from Finsbury Park some years ago (about which former Special Branch policeman-turned-academic Bob Lambert has written at some length) I am not aware there is any evidence that British mosques are being deliberately used for extremist or subversive purposes. Some right-wing think tanks and bloggers have been trying for some time to blow up the shortcomings of the mosques to depict a depressing picture of the Muslim community. But their analyses do not stand the test of scrutiny. It is vital these cynics spend some time acquiring first-hand knowledge how most mosques are struggling to serve their congregations and how, in spite of their limitations, they contribute to wider society.

Maintaining peace and harmony

My view is that mosques are, in general, providing a huge service to Muslims and their local communities. But they need introspection and renewal to make sure they remain, and can become, more effective. They need dedicated and talented young people in their management committees and proactive multilingual imams to interact and engage with people from all walks of life. Positive initiatives, such as the Muslim Council of Britain’s mosque capacity building project and Faith Associates’ mosque management, governance training and support in recent times have tried to address some of these issues. More is needed, however.

Mosques have been, and will remain, the Muslim community’s spiritual anchor and communal focal and centrepoint. But they cannot remain prayer places with their doors shut at other times, indifferent to the needs of younger people and the rest of the local community. They need to open up, wake up, and work with all sections of their community. Not just other faith groups — though that is a good place to start — but non-faith organisations, the police and other public and private sector organisations. In return, it is imperative that law-enforcement authorities value the contribution of the mosques and does not alienate them through covert and undignified spying of congregations. Muslims are partners of peace in our society. They expect the same respect as equal citizens of our country — no more, no less.

Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari is a parenting consultant. He is a founding member of The East London Communities Organisation (TELCO), Chairman of the East London Mosque Trust, and former Secretary General Muslim Council of Britain (2006-10).

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Lutfur Rahman: All His Controversies in One Place

It is almost exactly a year since Lutfur Rahman was elected mayor of Tower Hamlets after being sacked from the Labour Party for his links with the Islamic extremist group, the IFE, and a controversial local businessman, Shiraj Haque. His term so far has indeed, as I predicted, been a “slow-motion car crash.”

The latest row, the other week, was caused by his council’s decision (now reversed) to hire out the Merchant Navy War Memorial gardens for City bankers’ Christmas piss-ups. Here are the other highlights of Lutfur’s recent political career: let me know if I’ve missed any.

March 1 2010: The Telegraph and Channel 4’s Dispatches reveal that Lutfur, then the Labour council leader, achieved the position with the help of the IFE, which works to create an “Islamic social, economic and political order” in Britain. In a filmed interview, he refuses to deny the charge. Under Lutfur, large sums of council money are diverted to IFE front organisations, a man with close links to the IFE is made the council’s assistant chief executive despite being unqualified for the job, and the respected white chief executive is summarily sacked. In undercover filming, senior IFE activists boast of their “consolidated… influence and power” over the council. The local Labour MP, Jim Fitzpatrick, tells us that his party has been “infiltrated” by the IFE.

May: Lutfur is replaced by the Labour group as council leader. The IFE-linked assistant chief executive is forced to resign. However, the IFE now aims to “get one of our brothers” into the powerful new directly-elected mayoral post that is to replace the council leadership in October.

July/August: Lutfur is excluded from Labour’s shortlist for the mayoral candidacy, but goes to court to force his reinstatement. The solicitor he uses was closely connected to the al-Qaeda-supporting group, al-Muhajiroun, and signed a fatwa calling for a “full-scale war of jihad” against Britain and the US.

September 3: In filmed interviews (transcripts here), local residents tell how Lutfur has personally signed up their entire families as sham Labour members to win selection as the party’s mayoral candidate.

September 4: Lutfur is selected as the Labour candidate.

September 15: Evidence is submitted by one of the defeated candidates and others to Labour’s National Executive Committee detailing Lutfur’s links with the IFE and Shiraj Haque and alleging massive fraud in the selection.

September 18: Lutfur is accused of failing to declare thousands of pounds in donations from Shiraj Haque — a criminal offence, if true.

September 21: Labour’s NEC sacks Lutfur as the candidate.

September 25: Lutfur stands as an independent. Under Labour Party rules, he is automatically expelled from the party. Six of the people who sign his nomination papers have the same names as senior office-holders and trustees of the IFE.

October 15: Thousands of copies are distributed of publicity material smearing Lutfur’s Labour opponent as a wife-beater and an enemy of Islam. The chief coordinator of Lutfur’s campaign, Bodrul Islam, later says that the material was produced by people “embedded” in the Rahman campaign and with its full knowledge.

October 19: Ken Livingstone, Labour candidate for mayor of London, who has also benefited from IFE support, and been personally paid money by Lutfur’s council, campaigns for Lutfur against his own party’s candidate.

October 21: Lutfur Rahman elected mayor. The chief coordinator of his election campaign, Bodrul Islam, later says that the new mayor had a “strategic relationship” with the IFE and “most of [Lutfur’s] campaigners during the election were either Respect or IFE activists.”

October 28: Lutfur furious as the council votes to deny him a 98 per cent pay rise, awarding instead a 71 per cent rise. One of his key supporters, Cllr Oli Rahman, describes it as a “cynical” attempt to “undermine the mayor.”

November 3: Tower Hamlets places CDs of sermons by an extremist Islamic preacher, Abdurraheem Green, in the Town Hall reception area. Green believes that “Islam is not compatible with democracy” and that a husband should have the right to administer “a very light beating” to his wife.

November 10: Lutfur appoints Alibor Choudhury, a former employee of an IFE front organisation with a long track record of encounters with the police, to the key post of cabinet member for finance. Alibor was committed for trial for violent disorder in 2006, but the case was dropped due to what he insists was an “abuse of process.”

November: Lutfur’s publicly-funded political adviser at Tower Hamlets, Kazim Zaidi, anonymously writes a chapter in an Exeter University report attacking Lutfur’s critics and libelling six senior figures in the Tower Hamlets Labour Party and the local Labour MP as racists. The university is forced to withdraw the report and issue a grovelling apology.

December-February: At council meetings, Shiraj Haque and a crowd of other Lutfur supporters shout homophobic abuse at the mayor’s opponents from the public gallery. They abuse Peter Golds, the Tory leader, as “Mrs Golds” and a “poofter.” They heckle another gay councillor, Labour’s Josh Peck, and a gay local resident speaking at the meeting with animal noises and cries of “Unnatural acts! Unnatural acts!”

January 27: An official Labour Party inquiry finds a “concerted effort” to add fake members to the party during the campaign to select Labour’s candidate for the Tower Hamlets mayoralty.

February 23: Lutfur’s voting bloc on the council passes a motion to “campaign against the pariah state of Israel.”

March 8: Lutfur gives a character reference on Town Hall notepaper for Zamal Uddin, a minicab driver who had six weeks earlier pleaded guilty to a serious sexual assault on a woman passenger. When the press finds out, he claims that he did not know the nature of Uddin’s crime before agreeing to provide the reference.

March: Shiraj Haque is appointed chair of the advisory board for a major council-subsidised festival, the Baishakhi Mela. The council had previously removed him from all involvement with the festival and severed relations after allegations, which he denies, of massive financial irregularities.

April 4: Shiraj Haque’s premises are raided by police investigating a major counterfeit wine ring.

April 5: Disclosure logs reveal that the council is paying £50,000 a month of taxpayers’ money to three front organisations for the IFE.

April 12: One of Lutfur’s key supporters, Cllr Shelina Akhtar, is charged with fraud.

April 17: The council’s official propaganda newspaper, East End Life, runs a series of adverts for a training centre closely connected to Anjem Choudhury, the al Qaeda supporter who runs the extremist group al-Muhajiroun.

April 27: Lutfur takes a number of council staff paid by the taxpayer to campaign for the Labour Party in a parliamentary byelection. The District Auditor is called in.

May 8: Lutfur and Shiraj Haque turn the taxpayer-funded Baishakhi Mela festival into a platform for Ken Livingstone, who makes the keynote speech attacking Boris Johnson.

June 8: Defying a new local authority publicity code against taxpayer-subsidised council “Pravdas,” Lutfur rules that East End Life will continue publishing, at a cost to the public purse of around £1.3 million a year.

June 17: As the council passes budget cuts of £70 million, Lutfur spends £115,000 to refurbish his personal office and treble it in size.

July 4: One of Lutfur’s cabinet, Oli Rahman, appears on a platform with a group campaigning for the “unacceptability of homosexuality.” Lutfur has earlier pledged “zero tolerance” against a wave of homophobic attacks in the borough.

July 14: Lutfur acquires a luxury Mercedes and council-employed chauffeur at a cost to council taxpayers of up to £60,000 a year. No other elected mayor in London, Boris Johnson included, has an official car.

July 22: Tower Hamlets loses its second chief executive in two years as its top official, Kevan Collins, quits for a lower-paid job. He praises councillors (but not Lutfur) in his resignation statement.

August 7: It is revealed that Shiraj Haque has been given a Tower Hamlets council house at the subsidised rent of £135 a week, even though he is a multi-millionaire owning at least eight properties worth around £5 million.

August 8: As riots sweep London, Tower Hamlets’ enforcement officers are given the day off.

Sept 12: Lutfur scraps the official car of the borough’s ceremonial mayor and tells him to travel to functions, in his robes and gold chain, by taxi.

Oct 10: Tower Hamlets hits the front pages after hiring out its war memorial garden for City bankers’ Christmas parties. The decision is reversed after a storm of protest.

Oct 12: The council’s official newspaper, East End Life, promotes an extremist preacher previously banned from speaking on council premises.

[JP note: The Islamic Republic of Tower Hamlets — Sharia hell-hole.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: National Affiliate’s Response to Richard Dawkin’s [Sic] Latest Comment

The chairman of the Association of Muslim Schools UK has condemned Professor Richard Dawkins for his “hateful and arrogant” attack on Muslim faith schools in the Times Education Supplement. Ashfaque Chowdhury called Dawkins “cowardly and shameful” for choosing to use his experience at a Muslim school to publicise his new book.

The Muslim school in question allowed Dawkins and a film crew to have access when other faith schools had refused to speak to him. In terms of academic achievement the school is “well above the national average” in science and modern foreign languages and has an enviable record of good GCSE results. Dawkins told the TES that Muslim faith schools fill children’s head with “alien rubbish”, adding xenophobia to his fanatically atheist views. In doing so, he is pandering to a far-right audience in a way which belies his status as an academic. Indeed, it is telling that Dawkins’ website hosts Islamophobic video clips by an individual described as “extreme xenophobic, anti-immigrant far right”, the performer Pat Condell.

According to the AMS UK Chairman, “Students in Muslim schools are taught to respect differences between people of faith and no faith, something that Professor Dawkins should seek to emulate.” Recent research, he added, showed that over 90% of Muslim schools in both the independent and maintained sector were awarded either ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted and other inspection service providers for the Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural development of their pupils.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: White Officers Accuse Metropolitan Police of Racism

Six white police officers have accused Scotland Yard of racial discrimination, saying they are the victims of political correctness. The officers are taking the Metropolitan Police to an employment tribunal — but accuse the force of delaying tactics. One of the officers, speaking for the first time to the BBC, said he now had nothing but contempt for the force. Scotland Yard says it rejects the claims and will contest them in court.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


NATO Begins Dismantling Serb Barricade in Northern Kosovo

NATO-led troops have fired tear gas to disperse angry Serb crowds manning roadblocks at a contested border crossing in northern Kosovo. The soldiers have used armored vehicles to remove the barriers.

NATO troops in full riot gear moved in the early hours of Thursday to dismantle makeshift roadblocks set up by Kosovo Serbs in northern Kosovo.

Tear gas was used to disperse the crowd of protesters, who do not recognize Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia or the authority of the ethnic Albanian government in Pristina.

The international troops say they want to establish freedom of movement in the region. The Serb protesters consider the northern region to be part of Serbia.

Protesters erected the barriers at two border crossings between Kosovo and Serbia after the Pristina government placed Kosovo Albanian customs officials on the border in July to enforce a trade ban with Serbia. The ethnic Serbs fear this could limit their access to Serbia and there have been repeated clashes at the two sites, killing one policeman.

No injuries were reported on Thursday. After the protesters were moved from the barricades the mood was calm but tense, with Serbs sitting in the streets to prevent further action by the international and Kosovo soldiers (KFOR).

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egyptian Islamist Tycoon Courts Investors

Khairat al-Shater is no ordinary Egyptian businessman. The tall, bearded owner of an array of trading and industrial companies is the deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and has spent the past two decades in and out of jail. Known as a financier of the Islamist group as well as one of its leading strategists, he was a prominent target for imprisonment by the regime of Hosni Mubarak, the ousted president who relentlessly fought the Brotherhood.

Today, as Egypt enters a new political era in which the organisation is poised to play a key role, Mr Shater is keen to assure investors that the Islamists favour a free-market economy and would keep the country open for business. Released from jail only weeks after this year’s revolution, he has become a sought-after interlocutor for bankers and diplomats fretting about economic policy after the elections that begin next month. The Brotherhood’s newly formed party, Freedom and Justice, is expected to emerge as the largest bloc in parliament, although it has given assurances it is not aiming for a majority.

“Everyone wants to know what the impact of the Brotherhood on the investment climate in Egypt will be,” he said in a Financial Times interview. “We know we are part of an international system, with all its rules and regulations, and cannot think we will isolate ourselves.” Peppering his words with religious references, he argues that Islam supports a free-market economy, but one in which the profit motive is constrained by considerations of social justice. His diagnosis of Egypt’s economic problems — Standard & Poor’s cut the nation’s credit rating on Tuesday — and his proposed remedies, including better education and support for small and medium-sized enterprise, do not appear to depart from mainstream economists’ views.

An international banker who met Mr Shater recently says the Islamists’ economic agenda seemed more “thought-out” than that of other parties. “What struck me most was their readiness to address the problem of subsidies [a big drag on government finances],” said the banker. “Egypt cannot continue to spend 100bn Egyptian pounds ($16.7bn) annually on energy subsidies. We emerged from the meeting thinking this is not as bad as we had thought — though we don’t know if it would change if the Brotherhood reaches power.”

Mr Shater dismisses liberal Egyptians’ fears that a big Brotherhood influence in the next government will drive away foreign investors and shatter tourism, a main source of foreign-exchange revenues. Islam, he says, does not impose its will on others, and while he would prefer that Muslims abstain from alcohol, he has no business telling foreigners what to do.

Like many other businessmen in Egypt, Mr Shater laments the lack of experience of the ruling military council, which is overseeing the country’s transition and applying policies criticised for exacerbating economic paralysis.

Egypt has been hit by a wave of workers’ strikes, and investors have been alarmed by the corruption investigations into former regime figures and businessmen close to them.

It was a moment of great irony when Mr Shater found himself, in his last days in prison, in the company of some of the leading figures of the ousted regime, including Ahmed Ezz, the steel magnate and former ruling party official. Mr Shater suggests that the interim authorities should have forced corrupt businessmen to pay back to the state illicit profits. “Do I take their money or do I put them in jail for 100 years without getting any money?” he said. “As a businessman I have to choose what’s best.”

While regime-linked businessmen have been facing corruption investigations in recent months, their Islamist counterparts have been breathing a whiff of freedom, organising themselves and creating associations to lobby on their behalf and help them market their products abroad. Mr Shater has encountered obstacles, however, that suggest the revolution is still a long way from fundamentally changing Egypt. He says his bank accounts remain frozen and that about E£800,000 seized from his company when he was thrown in jail four years ago has yet to be returned. The authorities have insisted on making extensive tax inquiries to ensure he has no debts to the state. “Egypt had a revolution that took down the head of the system but not the body — it is still governed by the same constraints and the same obstacles,” said Mr Shater. “It’s better than before, but still only 20 to 30 per cent better.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Libyan Dictator Moammar Gadhafi is Dead, Rebels Claim

Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, the most wanted man in the world, has been killed, the country’s rebel government claimed today.

The flamboyant tyrant who terrorized his country and much of the world during his 42 years of despotic rule was reportedly cornered by insurgents in the town of Sirte, where Gadhafi had been born and a stronghold of his supporters.

The National Transition Council said that its fighters found and shot Gadhafi in Sirte, which finally fell to the rebels today after weeks of tough fighting. Rebels now control the entire country.

Word of Gadhafi’s death triggered celebrations in the streets of Tripoli with insurgent fighters waving their weapons and dancing jubilantly.

The White House and NATO said they were unable to confirm reports of his death.

Al Jazeera aired video of what appeared to be the dead leader, which showed Gadhafi lying in a pool of blood in the street, shirtless, and surrounded by people.

Libya’s Information Minister Mahmoud Shammam told the Associated Press that Gadhafi was in a convoy when he was attacked by rebels.

NATO said that its jet fighters struck a convoy of Gadhafi’s loyalists fleeing Sirte this morning, but could not confirm that Gadhafi was in the convoy, the Associated Press reported.

Gadhafi had been on the run for weeks after being chased out of the capital Tripoli by NATO bombers and rebel troops.

He had been believed to be hiding in the vast Libyan desert while calling on his supporters to rise up and sweep the rebel “dogs” away, but his once fearsome power was scoffed at by Libyans who had ransacked his palace compound and hounded him into hiding.

Gadhafi, 69, ruled Libya with an iron fist for almost 42 years. He seized control of Libya in Sept., 1969 in a bloodless coup when he was just 27 years old. The then young and dashing army captain and his small band of military officers overthrew the monarch King Idris, setting up a new Libyan Arab Republic that over the years became increasingly isolated from the rest of the world.

Gadhafi took over the top spot as the world’s most wanted man after Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. troops in Pakistan.

At the height of his ability to threaten terrorism, President Ronald Reagan dubbed Gadhafi the “mad dog of the Middle East.”

He was accused of backing the 1986 bombing of a Berlin disco popular with American soldiers, reportedly funding the hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro in 1985, and the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which resulted in the U.N. and United States imposing sanctions on Libya.

For years, Gadhafi refused to take responsibility for the bombing, but that changed in 2003 when he acknowledged his role and tried to make amends.

The eccentric leader, who amassed power and wealth by controlling the nation’s oil industry, held the title of being the longest-serving leader in Africa and the Arab world.

Over the years, Gadhafi earned an international reputation for his outlandish apparel and much-ridiculed phobias and proclivities.

In U.S. diplomatic cables recently released by WikiLeaks, Gadhafi was described as a “mercurial and eccentric figure who suffers from severe phobias, enjoys flamenco dancing and horse racing, acts on whims and irritates friends and enemies alike.”

He was “obsessively dependent on a small core of trusted personnel,” especially his longtime Ukrainian nurse Galyna, who has been described as a “voluptuous blonde,” according to the cables.

Among his other unusual behaviors, the Libyan leader reportedly feared flying over water, didn’t like staying on upper floors and traveled with a “pistol packing’ posse” of female bodyguards.

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]

Libya: Berlusconi Speaks in Latin to Comment on Death of Former ‘Friend’ Gaddafi

Rome, 20 Oct. (AKI) — After hearing about the shooting death of his former friend Muammar Gaddafi, Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi used a Latin phrase to say that everything is transitory.

“Sic transit gloria mundi,” or “So the glory of this world passes away,” said Berlusconi, according to Italian news reports, adding that “the war is over.”

Gaddafi was reportedly killed after being captured in Sirte, his hometown that fell to transitional government troops who have been fighting Gaddafi’s soldiers for eight months.

Berlusconi had formed a close relationship with Gaddafi, even inviting him as a guest to the G-8 meeting of industrialised nations in 2009 in Aquila, Italy.

Berlusconi was at pains to participate in military strikes against the man whose hand he kissed during a visit during a 2010 Arab league Summit in Libya.

Gaddafi described Berlusconi as a traitor after Nato started bombing Libyan targets in March.

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

Reports Indicate Gadhafi is Dead

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) — Reports indicate deposed Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is dead, the National Transitional Council spokesman said Thursday.

Revolutionary fighters attacked the house where Gadhafi was hiding, Information Minister Mahmoud Shammam told CNN. Gadhafi was shot while trying to flee, he said.

“Colonel Gadhafi is history,” he said, adding that interim council’s chairman or prime minister needs to officially confirm the death.

However, Gadhafi’s status remained unclear as a host of conflicting reports surfaced Thursday. None could be independently verified.

AbdelHakim Bilhajj, head of the National Transitional Council’s military arm in Tripoli announced Gadhafi;s death live on Al-Jazeera Arabic Thursday. It was also reported by National Transitional Council television station Al-Ahrar. It did not cite a source.

A grisly cell phone photograph distributed by the news agency Agence France Presse appeared to show the arrest of a bloodied Gadhafi. CNN could not independently verify the authenticity of the image.

Gadhafi’s capture was also reported by Libyan television, citing the Misrata Military Council.

The U.S. State Department could not confirm any of the reports about Gadhafi’s capture or killing, a spokeswoman said.

Abubaker Saad, who served as a Gadhafi aide for nine years, said it didn’t really matter whether Gadhafi was dead or alive — as long as he was captured.

“As long as he was on the run he represented a very ominous danger to the Libyan people,” Saad told CNN.

In another major development, revolutionary fighters said they wrested control of Sirte Thursday. And NATO said it is going to convene soon for a meeting to discuss ending its operation in Libya, a source told CNN.

Earlier, NATO aircraft struck two pro-Gadhafi military vehicles in the Sirte vicinity.

Without foolproof evidence of Gadhafi’s capture, it was unclear whether Thursday would turn out to be the biggest day in recent Libyan history. Statements made by representatives of Libya’s new leadership in the past have not always turned out to be true.

But Libyans, who have been waiting for months for Gadhafi’s demise, erupted in deafening celebrations.

Horns blared and celebratory gunfire burst into the air in Tripoli.

Gadhafi ruled Libya with an iron fist for 42 years. The mercurial leader came to power in a bloodless coup against King Idris in 1969, when he was just an army captain.

By the end of his rule, he claimed to be “King of Kings,” a title he had a gathering of tribal leaders grant him in 2008.

But a February uprising evolved into civil war that resulted in ousting the strongman from power.

Many were waiting for photographs as proof of Gadhafi’s capture.

Earlier, anti-Gadhafi fighters said they had taken control of the last holdout of loyalists in Sirte. They said they were still battling pockets of resistance, but they were in control of District 2.

Sirte has been the big prize for Libya’s NTC, waiting for the city to fall to officially declare liberation.

Most residents abandoned Sirte in the many weeks of bloody battles that raged there. Revolutionary forces have fought Gadhafi’s men street by street, cornering the last vestiges of the old regime to that last district.

Gadhafi, wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, for alleged crimes against humanity has not been seen in public in months. Many believed he was hiding out in Sirte after rebel forces marched into Tripoli in August.

           — Hat tip: ESW[Return to headlines]

Tunisian Islamic Party Fears Ballot Rigging

(AGI) Paris — Militants in the Tunisian Muslim Renaissance Party Ennahda, fear ballot rigging in the elections and have threatened an uprising should these first post-revolution elections in Tunisia not be fair and transparent. “There is the risk that the results will be manipulated,” said Ennahda’s leader Rachid Ganouchi at a press conference. “If there is any ballot rigging we will summon the insurgents who opposed Ben Ali.” .

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

UK Coptic Christians Call for Inquiry

The UK’s Coptic Christian community will tomorrow call for an independent Egyptian judicial inquiry into the recent deaths of Christians in Egypt.

Clashes on Sunday October 9 in Cairo-between Christians, Muslims and the army-resulted in the deaths of 26 Coptic Christians. The Egyptian military has denied responsibility for the event after video footage emerged suggesting their culpability. A press conference, due to take place tomorrow morning, has been arranged by Premier Christian Media in partnership with the charity Christian Solidarity and will see Britian’s leading Coptic Christians call for answers. The panel will feature Mervyn Thomas, chief executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide; Bishop Angaelos; General Bishop, Coptic Orthodox Church, United Kingdom; and activists from three leading UK based Coptic Christian organisations.

The conference will also present graphic photographic and video evidence taken from the Cairo protests, including exclusive footage. Peter Kerridge, chief executive of Premier Christian Media Trust, organisers of the event, said the situation was exceptionally serious. “As a Christian media organisation, we recognise the powerful role the media has played in the current situation in Egypt-inciting the public to demonise Christians and see them further marginalised in Egyptian public life,” he said. “There are some incredible parallels with ‘Bloody Sunday’ when the British Army denied killing 26 innocent protestors in Northern Ireland all those years ago. History cannot repeat itself which is why we have partnered with Christian Solidarity Worldwide and the UK Coptic Christian Orthodox Church to call for an independent Egyptian judicial inquiry into this situation.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Remembering Gaza

by David Miliband

Looking beyond statistics, the future of the children of Gaza is at risk of being wasted due to politics.

Government is all about statistics, but life is about people. That disjunction explains a lot about the cynicism and disaffection with politics that characterises much of the world nowadays. And, while domestic problems may seem intractable, distance increases the confusion and fatigue induced by seemingly intractable international problems. As usual, the people who suffer are those who most need the world’s attention.

This is notably true of the 1.5 million people crowded into the Gaza strip, locked between Israel, Egypt, and the Mediterranean Sea. The West has already isolated Gaza’s Hamas-controlled government. This week, the US Congress will discuss cutting off aid to the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority. But this is a time for more international engagement with the Palestinian people, not less. The statistics say that 80 per cent of Gaza’s population is dependent on UN food aid. The youth unemployment rate is 65 per cent. The website of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has a comprehensive database that shows how many trucks, containing different kinds of supplies, have been allowed in by the Israeli authorities.

The situation of the people — or rather the fight about their situation — is periodically in the news, most recently when violence broke the otherwise reasonably effective ceasefire in August. But Gaza has become the land that time — and the wider international community — forgot. It is for this reason that I took up the offer from Save the Children to visit the Gaza Strip last week. I had not been able to visit while serving in government for security reasons. Now I wanted to get a sense of life, not statistics. The purpose of the visit was not to meet politicians or decision makers, but to get a glimpse, albeit brief, of how people there live.

And there is real life. Boys in Western football shirts — mainly Lionel Messi of Barcelona. Restaurants overlooking the Mediterranean. Schoolgirls in white headscarves wherever you look. Barbers, clothes shops, fruit stalls. And a good deal of traffic — with new cars smuggled in through tunnels beneath the “Philadelphi Route” that runs along the Egyptian border.

But real life is also traumatic and limited. We saw buildings — not just the former Hamas headquarters — still in rubble. Houses are riddled with bullet holes. There is no electricity for up to eight hours a day. Shortage of schools and teachers have pushed class sizes to 50 or 60 and the school day is restricted to a few hours to allow for two or even three shifts.

The consequences of war are encountered everywhere, nowhere more so than for those caught in the crossfire. We met the niece and son of a farmer caught in the “buffer zone” between the Israeli border and Gaza. She had lost an eye and a hand to Israeli shells in the war of 2008-2009. Save the Children, obviously, is most concerned about the 53 per cent of Gaza population that is under 18. The statistics say 10 per cent of children are “stunted” — so undernourished before the age of two that they never grow to their full potential.

We saw what Save the Children is trying to do about it, at a nutrition centre serving mothers and children in Gaza City. The needs are basic: Promoting breastfeeding, food supplies for young children and medical attention for mothers. But not all those who need help are coming to get it, so Save the Children funds outreach workers to encourage families to use the services. There is remarkable work being done to create opportunities, as well as to prevent catastrophe. The Qattan Center for the Child is a privately funded library — and drama, computer, and youth center — that would grace any British community. The director told me it is dedicated to the credo of “building people not buildings”. The centre is a true oasis.

The situation surrounding such oases represents the ultimate failure of politics. After the war ended in January 2009, the international community was preoccupied with opening up Gaza. Nearly three years later, there is only stalemate — to match the wider stalemate in the search for a Palestinian state that can live alongside Israel. The responsibility lies, first and foremost, with Israel. The UN’s Gaza peace resolution (which Britain authored) calls on the Israeli government to open up the supply lines, but this has been heeded only in small part. That is why the tunnels do such a roaring trade, which Hamas taxes to fund its activities. The Israeli government would retort that the parallel call in the resolution for a halt to the flow of arms into Gaza also has not been heeded. That is true, too.

Yet the international pressure is muted. The focus has shifted. But Gaza’s people and their needs remain in what British Prime Minister David Cameron last year called an “open prison”. Surely, there is room across divides of party and nation to address these pressing humanitarian needs, which otherwise would only fuel future political trouble. What makes the situation in Gaza even more infuriating is that the status quo is actually irrational. It is not in anyone’s political interest. Israel doesn’t become safer, nor do Hamas or Fatah become more popular. One young mother at the nutrition centre told me that she was just completing her accountancy degree — but there was no work. Yusuf, aged nine, working on a computer at the Qattan Center, told me that he wanted to be a pilot. These people are not a threat to peace in the Middle East. They are actually its hope. What they need is a chance to shape their own futures.

David Miliband was British Foreign Secretary from 2007 to 2010, and is currently a member of parliament for the Labour Party.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Caroline Glick: Iran’s War to Win

The Obama administration’s response to Iran’s plan to bring its 32-year-old war against the United States to the US capital is the newest confirmation that President Barack Obama has no intention in taking action to remove or diminish the threat Iran poses to the US, its allies and interests.

Last week, the Justice Department revealed that law enforcement officials foiled an Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US and to blow up the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

Lebanon: New Welfare Model Financed by Italy

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, OCTOBER 19 — The objective of the Italian co-funded ‘National poverty targeting system for social safety nets programs’ (Nptp) is to set up new statistical models of the socio-economic composition of the Lebanese population to launch a plan aiming at protecting the weakest and most needy households. The project had its official launch today with a ceremony held in Beirut. Present were Prime Minister Najib Mikati and the Speaker of Parliament, Nabih Berry, along with a representative from the World Bank and Italian Ambassador, Giuseppe Morabito.

The project aims to re-draft the nation’s social security system on the basis of the criteria of transparency, objectivity and efficiency, favouring cooperation between various ministries of the Lebanese government.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Rogozin Consider Mass Muslim Prayers in Downtown Moscow a Demonstration of Power

*** He urged to stop being “tolerasts”

*** Tajiks become mujahideen in Russia

Moscow, October 20, Interfax — Special Envoy of the Russian President for Interaction with NATO Dmitry Rogozin believes mass visits to Cathedral Mosque in Moscow on chief Islam feasts have political background. “When buses packed with Muslims are driven to Moscow city center not because they don’t have a place for prayer, but because they have to stage a rally with great masses of people subordinated to their Muslim priest, it’s a demonstration of power and there’s nothing of a religious feast,” Rogozin said in his conversation with head of Synodal Department for Interaction with Armed Forces and Law Enforcement Agencies Archpriest Dimitry Smirnov in frame of the priest’s programs posted at his videoblog.

He says that Switzerland, Belgium and France are working out a legislation that bans to turn religious feasts in rallies. “The situation there becomes unbearable on Muslim feasts the same as on Prospect Mira (in Moscow where the Cathedral mosque is located — IF),” the politician said. He believes in Russia “we should stop being tolerasts and start speaking to each other seriously and responsibly for the sake of preserving state unity. Muslims have traditionally lived with us and we have never had any problems with them. Recent development are really dangerous, there’s a war against Muslims inside Russia’s Muslim world when radicals try to dominate over followers of traditional Islam,” Rogozin said.

According to him, he has recently had a frank talk in Brussels with Tajikistan Foreign Minister, who said that republican leaders sent Tajics to work in Russia “with great pleasure” in order to save them from “Taliban mentality, Islamic fundamentalism” and make more civilized. “But quite the contrary happens. He said: they become fundamentalists in Russia, what do you do with them, who works with them? They become mujahideen in Russia,” Russia’s special envoy said.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Development Aid in Afghanistan: The Country Where Hope Goes to Die

Western aid workers have long been deeply involved in Afghanistan, putting their lives at risk and fighting for funding back home. Still, they have accomplished little or have seen much of their work destroyed. Many will be leaving the country in disappointment.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

India: ‘West Has Failed to Eradicate Radical Islam’

Seeking to take stock of what he calls the ‘9/11 Wars’, journalist Jason Burke on Wednesday said neither of the main parties involved in the 10-year-old conflict had emerged from it victorious. “The West has failed in its more ambitious aims of entirely eradicating radical Islam. In fact, it has polarised the situation to a point where it is much worse. At the same time, al-Qaeda has failed in its strategic aim, which was to rally hundreds of millions of people in the Islamic world to a radical flag. Both have failed in their key objectives,” Burke said.

Burke, the South Asia correspondent of The Guardian and The Observer newspapers, has extensively covered the Middle East and South Asia, specialising in conflict, terrorism and Islamic militancy. He is the author of Al-Qaeda: The True Story of Radical Islam, On the Road to Kandahar: Travels through Conflict in the Islamic World and the recently-released The 9/11 Wars. On Wednesday, Burke was at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) of South Asia, at a discussion moderated by Simon Denyer of the Washington Post, who is also the president of FCC.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

India’s ‘Silicon Valley’ Is the Country’s Suicide Capital

Bangalore — India’s ‘Silicon Valley’ — is also the country’s suicide capital, accounting for some 16 percent of suicides in India’s biggest cities. Most of those killing themselves there are aged between 16 and 40.

Late last month, 23-year-old Malini Murmu, a brilliant student from the prestigious Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore committed suicide after her boyfriend announced he was dumping her by updating his status on a social networking site.

In another tragic incident, a 31-year-old software engineer, who had resigned from the global IT firm, Infosys, murdered his two-year-old daughter before killing himself. He had been facing health problems which had affected his ability to work. In August, a doctor and his son died by deliberately consuming insecticides at a holiday resort.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Malaysia: ‘One Million Muslims Rally’ Should be Peaceful — Jamil

Kuala Lumpur: Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom has urged organisers of ‘One Million Muslims Rally’ to comply with regulations and ensure that it proceeds peacefully. He said the organisers have obtained a permit and hopes that they could control participants during the rally at Shah Alam Stadium on Saturday.

“The organisers have given an undertaking that it is different and not beyond control as it is held to defend Islam and for Muslim unity. The atmosphere and the situation is different from a rally based on anger. Having the rally in a stadium helps to reduce problems,” he told reporters at parliament lobby here yesterday.

The ‘One Million Muslims Rally’ is organised by Muslim Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) known as Muslim Organisations Group (Himpun) to send a message to various parties on the issue of apostasy among Muslims in the country. On another note, Jamil advised state Islamic religious councils and state Islamic departments to select Imams according to the criteria specified. The criteria are health, experience and knowledge so that they can best serve the local Muslim community. “Islamic religious affairs come under the states which give current input for the appointment of Imams while Jakim (Islamic Development Department Malaysia) only process payment of allowances,” he added. — Bernama

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Judge Who Sentenced Salman Taseer’s Murderer Removed

A powerful Muslim lawyers’ association forces High Court to replace judge who sentenced Mumtaz Qadri. Islamabad priest says, Islamic religious groups “are becoming powerful each passing day.”

Lahore (AsiaNews) — The Lahore High Court (LHC) repatriated Anti-terrorism Court (ATC) Judge Pervez Ali Shah, who announced the death sentence of Mumtaz Qadri, the security guard who murdered Punjab Governor Salman Taseer for defending Asia Bibi, a woman unjustly sentenced to death on blasphemy charges. District and Sessions Judge Moqurab Khan will replace Shah as the ATC judge in Rawalpindi. The Rawalpindi Bar Association had set a five-day deadline for a nationwide strike if Shah was not suspended or transferred.

Mumtaz Qadri has appealed to the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against his verdict. A division bench of the IHC suspended the death sentence on an application by Mumtaz Qadri’s defence lawyer, former LHC Chief Justice Khawaja Sharif. A final decision in his appeal is pending before the IHC.

Sunni Ittehad (SI), a radical Islamic movement, has already announced a “Remove the government March” on behalf of Mumtaz Qadri on 21 November from Rawalpindi to Karachi. And other pro-Qadri protests were announced after the Friday prayers in Pakistan’s major cities.

Humanitarian organisations have condemned the punishment on humanitarian grounds, saying that “life imprisonment is a better option.”

“Once again the judiciary has been pressured by the lawyers and a judge has been transferred for taking the decision for what he thought was right in the eyes of the law,” Fr Rehmat Hakim, from the Diocese of Islamabad, told AsiaNews. “Islamic religious groups have already made the government take a u-turn on the blasphemy law. These groups are becoming powerful each passing day.”

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

Tajikistan Imposes More Restrictions to Fight Radicalism

As fundamentalist violence spreads in Afghanistan, neighboring Tajikistan is moving to control Islamic practices and to curb foreign influence.First, women were banned from mosques in Tajikistan. Then, a few weeks ago the government banned children under 18 from mosques. Tajikistan’s population is 98 percent Muslim. But it shares a long border with Afghanistan. The Russian-backed government here wants to keep out radicalism. Zafar Adullayev, a blogger here, supports the new restrictions. He says the government is taking a middle road between the religious repression of the Soviet era and modern day Islamic fundamentalists who want imposition of sharia law in this traditionally moderate nation.

To limit foreign influence on traditional Islamic practices here, the government last year called home 2,000 Tajik students who were studying in overseas religious schools. In addition, the government discourages men from wearing beards and women from wearing the tight fitting hijab. Instead women are to wear Central Asia’s traditional, loose fitting, head scarves. At Dushanbe’s main mosque, Abu Bakr, a 28-year-old bank worker, agrees with the new laws. Recalling his own youth, he says teenagers are often immature hooligans. He says wisdom comes with age. But Muhiddin Kabiri predicts government restrictions will backfire. He leads the Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan, the only Islamic party legally registered in the former Soviet Union. He says that government controls will push Islam underground, away from moderation and toward “Talibanism.”

With mosques closed to teenagers and most neighborhoods lacking Koranic schools, Kabiri says curious teenagers will learn about Islam through the Internet. Once on the web, he says, young people easily end up on sites maintained by extremists. Fifteen years ago, Kabiri’s followers lost a civil war against the secular forces of Emomali Rakhmon, Tajikistan’s Soviet-trained president. Today, Rakhmon is still president, and he is not letting his guard down. In October, he broke ground here on what is to be the largest mosque in Central Asia.

Largely financed by Qatar, this $100 million mosque is to hold 115,000 worshippers — about one half of the capital’s adult male population. To channel the faithful into this official mosque, President Rakhmon’s government this year started to close hundreds of neighborhood mosques and madrasahs, or Koranic schools. Adbullah is the Imam of one neighborhood mosque. He supports the president’s position that parents should be society’s main teachers of Islam. He says: “Our respected president, Emomali Rahmon said on television that there should be a Koran and a copy of the Constitution in every house.”

But, with more Tajiks living in Afghanistan, than in Tajikistan, the threat is always real of destabilization coming up from the south. Last month, a Tajik-speaking man dressed in Afghan clothes claimed credit for Tajikistan’s first suicide car bombing, an attack that took three lives last year. As terrorism spreads in Afghanistan, time will tell whether Tajikistan’s tactics will help — or hurt — in the fight to curb religious radicalism.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Thai Capital Braces Itself for Floods

Floodwaters have already arrived on the northern outskirts of Bangkok and are expected to hit the city proper on Friday. Seven at-risk zones have been announced. The premier has said the floods are a ‘national crisis.’ As the floodwaters inched closer to Bangkok on Thursday, the authorities said that the capital was not in crisis and there was no need to declare more at-risk zones than the seven announced earlier this week. Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra said that the city center would remain dry even if the floods were expected to hit northern and eastern Bangkok late on Friday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Far East

Angry Words Over East Asian Seas

Chinese territorial claims propel science into choppy waters.

Clashes at sea. Disputed borders. It is not the usual stuff of science. But researchers and scientific journals are being pulled into long-simmering border disputes between China and its neighbours. Confrontations involving research vessels are raising tensions in the region, while the Chinese government is being accused of using its scientists’ publications to promote the country’s territorial claims.

China’s desire to increase its exploitation of the sea is no secret. The country’s 12th five-year plan, which covers 2011-15 and was approved in March, was the first to mention the importance of a marine economy. In May, China’s Ocean Development Report estimated that marine industries, including offshore oil and gas exploration, fisheries and ship building, will earn 5.3 trillion renminbi (US$830 billion) by 2020. Last month, Zhang Jixian, head of the Chinese Academy of Surveying and Mapping, announced that the country will ramp up efforts to chart what he described as its “three million square kilometres of water territory”, an area much larger than that considered by neighbouring states to be Chinese territory. The mapping project will be aided by China’s first cartographic satellite, to be launched in December, and the Jiaolong submersible, which is scheduled to take humans to ocean depths of 7,000 metres next year1. If the dive succeeds, China will capture the record for the deepest-ever manned ocean exploration from its great marine rival, Japan.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Independent Candidates Gear Up for a Fight in China

Representatives of local people’s assemblies are gearing up for elections in China on November 8. This year, the number of independent candidates is unusually high but their chances are low.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Somali Kidnappers Demand Cash for Frenchwoman’s Body

The Somali kidnappers of disabled Frenchwoman Marie Dedieu, who died after being snatched from her home in Kenya, are demanding a ransom for the return of her body, France’s defence minister said on Thursday.

“The hostage-takers are even trying to sell the remains, it could not be more despicable,” French Defence Minister Gerard Longuet told the i-TELE news network.

France said Wednesday that 66-year-old Marie Dedieu, who was kidnapped on October 1 and taken to Somalia, had died in the hands of her captors, most probably because they had refused to provide her medication.

Dedieu had been in a wheelchair and suffering from cancer.

“Seizing a woman of this age, who is sick and paralysed, and not giving her medication, allowing her to develop septicemia from which she apparently died, and then proposing to sell her remains! These are not people who deserve anything but contempt,” Longuet said.

He said the French military was not planning any action against the kidnappers in Somalia because they were “a small band, a small minority, an exception who dishonour this territory.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Swiss Party Heading for Victory Wants to Ban Immigration

A FAR-right party heading for a record margin of victory in general elections on Sunday has announced plans to turn Switzerland into an immigrant-free bastion.

Polls show that the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) is likely to seal its place as Europe’s most successful populist political force after a campaign targeting immigrants, whom its posters depict as black boots trampling on the Swiss flag.

As the election campaign drew to a close, the SVP announced that it had gathered the requisite 100,000 signatures to call a referendum, under Swiss direct democracy laws, on withdrawing from freedom of travel arrangements with the European Union.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

The Legend of “White Racism”

Human beings, regardless of time or place, share in common a perennial fascination with tales of enigmatic creatures, beings that, in spite of the numerous testimonials that have been offered on their behalf, remain questionable. Sasquatch; the Lochness Monster; and the Abominable Snowman, are just some of these who immediately come to mind. While some really believe in the existence of such entities, others are unsure, and still others just don’t care, there is a fourth class of people that never fails to crop up wherever tales of this sort prevail. This class is composed of those who may be either indifferent to or even incredulous regarding such legends, but who, nevertheless-through sales of souvenirs, the production of documentaries, or what have you-stoke the flames of belief in order to turn a profit.

I suggest that to this list of mythic beings we add White Racism.

Just a moment’s worth of sober reflection in no time reveals that there is more than sufficient warrant for treating White Racism of a piece with Bigfoot and the rest of similarly mythic beings.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Astronomers Spot Birth of Alien Planet for First Time

Astronomers have photographed the youngest exoplanet ever found, spotting the alien world as it is still forming out of the dusty disk around its parent star, a new study reports.

Researchers used Hawaii’s Keck Observatory to capture the first direct images of a planet in the process of forming around its star. The newly born object, which astronomers are calling LkCa 15 b, appears to be a hot “protoplanet” that is sucking up a surrounding swath of cooler dust and gas.

The new images from Keck reveal that the alien planet sits in a wide gap between its host star and an outer disk of dust, the researchers said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Cities Will Feel Brunt as Global Population Passes 7 Billion

We need to construct a city of one million people every five days for the next 40 years to accommodate the population explosion, a researcher says

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Comets May be Creating Oceans on Alien Planet

Comets have been caught battering an exoplanet for the first time, new observations suggest. If the existence of the planet is confirmed, the finding means that the impacts are bringing water and organic material — the essential ingredients for life — to a world that lies in the habitable zone around its star.

The cometary shower is taking place around a bright star about 60 light years away called Eta Corvi, which is visible to the naked eye in the northern sky.

The Spitzer Space Telescope spotted the infrared glow of a band of dust three times as far from Eta Corvi as Earth is from the sun. Carey Lisse of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, and his colleagues analysed the spectrum of light from this glow and found that it contains water, organics and rock.

The composition and amounts seen suggest that several small comets, or a single large one, crashed into a rocky world weighing up to a few times the mass of the Earth, creating a trail of debris behind the planet. For example, the dust seems to contain nanodiamonds, which form when organic materials smack into each other at ludicrous speeds, and bits of silica — essentially glass, which forms when rock melts and then quickly re-freezes.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Comet-Seeded Alien Oceans Could be Common

A still-forming alien solar system has enough water in its outer reaches to fill Earth’s oceans several thousand times over, a new study finds. The discovery marks the first time astronomers have detected water in a dusty planet-forming disk so far from its central star, in the frigid region where comets are born. Scientists think comet impacts delivered most of Earth’s water, and the new study hints that alien planets may commonly acquire oceans in the same way. “We now know that large amounts of water ice are available in planet-forming disks, ready to be incorporated in comets,” said Michiel Hogerheijde, of Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands, the study’s lead author. “Ultimately, some of this water may end up on Earth-like planets that form completely dry but this way may end up with life-supporting oceans.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Anonymous said...

"We need to construct a city of one million people every five days for the next 40 years to accommodate the population explosion, a researcher says...."

Well, the Chinese have built some empty cities waiting to be filled. Really!

Of course, who can speak to their construction value?!