Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20111021

Financial Crisis
»Berlusconi Says: “The Money’s Gone. We’ll Think of Something But There’s No Hurry”
»China to Slow Yuan Rises to Shield Exporters
»Dollar Falls to Post WW II Low vs Yen; Euro Climbs
»German Business Confidence Falls Further
»Merkel Sees Bigger Greek Debt Write Down
»Sedan Again as Germany Imposes Terms
»Bridgewater, NJ, Hires More Lawyers to Defend Mosque Lawsuit as Feds Investigate
»Multicultural Center Hosts Religious Discovery Series Event on Islam
»Mosque Will Lower Minaret
Europe and the EU
»Bank of Italy Choice Risks Creating Tensions With France
»Belgium: Green Light for Moroccan Wedding Parties!
»Denmark: Islamists Seek to Introduce ‘Sharia Zones’
»Estonia Lives the European Dream
»Expensive Autonomy: Europe’s Overpriced Navi System Heads for Space
»France: Trouble in Marseille
»Germany: Bike Revolution Sparks Clash With Motorists
»Italy: Ex-Wife Killer of Slain Gucci Heir Would Rather Stay in Prison Than Have to Work
»Norway: Statoil Confirms Massive North Sea Oil Find
»Swiss Pass Norway to Become World’s Richest
»Switzerland: SVP Probed for Anti-Kosovar Campaign
»UK: Do You Trust Bob Lambert?
»UK: Europe Has Broken Leaders Before — Will Cameron Share Their Fate?
»UK: New Mosque to Open in Exeter
»UK: Protests Close London’s St Paul’s Cathedral
»UK: Police, Counter-Subversion and Extremism [Bob Lambert]
»UK: Rise in Reports of Assaults at Madrassas in Lancashire
»UK: St. Paul’s Forced to Close Its Doors Due to Protest
»UK: The Government Planned to Recruit From a Terror Suspect’s Supporters to the Civil Service Fast Stream
»UK: United Muslim Community Win Praise as Teenagers Return From Somali Border
»UK: Village ‘Mosque’ Is Flouting Local Law, Says Council
»Visco Nomination as New Bank of Italy Chief Welcomed
»Bosnia: Unchartered Land
North Africa
»Libya: 20-Year-Old Did Not Shoot at Gaddafi But at His Son
»New Libyan Leaders ‘Owe’ France: Defence Minister
»Peaceful Globalists Expedite Libyan Dictator’s Murder
»Sarkozy Urges Libyans to Pursue Democracy
»Tunisia: Elections: Ennahdha’s Threats Close Opposition Rank
Israel and the Palestinians
»Caroline Glick: Marketing Gilad Schalit
»Israel’s Champion, But Poor Friend
»UK: FOSIS [Federation of Student Islamic Societies] Civil Service Recruitment Event Cancelled
Middle East
»Emirates: Petrol Crisis: Stations in North Closed for Months
»Jordan: Discovered Two of World’s Oldest Churches
»Kuwait: Islamic Sharia, Source of Strength to Protect Human Rights — Kuwait Envoy
»Saudi Arabia: 3 Million Expats to be Sent Out Gradually
»The Black Stone and Its Importance
»Putin Welcomes Greek ‘Fertility-Boosting’ Relic to Russia
»Russian Spy Suspect ‘Joked About Shutting Down NATO’ By Distracting Her Lover
South Asia
»Indonesia: Aceh Political Candidate Refuses Technical Koran Reading Test
»Indonesia: Haj, ‘Islam Politiek’ And National Awakening
»Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law Remains a Contentious Affair
»Taliban Leader Fazlullah Vows New War in Pakistan
»‘Belgium Heading for a Humanitarian Catastrophe’
»Belgium Will Not Accept Albanian Asylum Requests
Culture Wars
»Buchanan: ‘Cultural Marxism’ Has Succeeded Where Marx and Lenin Failed
»Fear Spreads as Society of Spoilt Brats Runs Riot
»UK: Black Schoolboys Underachieving Because ‘Academic Success is Seen as Gay’
»Libraries of the Future: Abandoning the Stacks for a Multimedia Wonderland
»The Closing of the Muslim Mind: How Intellectual Suicide Created the Modern Islamist Crisis

Financial Crisis

Berlusconi Says: “The Money’s Gone. We’ll Think of Something But There’s No Hurry”

Business Leaders Press Premier for Urgent Growth Measures

ROME — “Time’s up” was the message of business and bank associations in their latest appeal to the government. The crisis needs to be tackled with “concrete and credible” measures in the development decree law is the gist of the business world’s letter, the second in a few days following presentation of the Manifesto per la crescita [Manifesto for Growth]. The missive addressed to the prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, is signed by the chair of the Italian banking association (ABI), Giuseppe Mussari, the chair of the insurance association (ANIA), Fabio Cerchiai, the chair of the co-operative alliance (ACI), Luigi Marino, the chair of the Confindustria employers’ association, Emma Marcegaglia, and the chair of the Italian business network (RII), Ivan Malavasi.

BERLUSCONI, “NO MONEY” — “The money’s gone. We’re trying to think of something”. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi admits that the government is struggling over the decree to boost development that the business world has been calling for but has not given up hope of putting effective measures in place. It could, however, take some time. “The draft will be approved when it is convincing. I’m in no particular hurry. I’m looking to approve the decree we have a measure that will stimulate development and growth”. On Tuesday evening, Mr Berlusconi called a meeting at his private residence with the development minister Paolo Romani, who has been put in charge of the decree, and the ministers for legislative simplification, Roberto Calderoli, for the civil service, Renato Brunetta, and for infrastructure, Altero Matteoli. Another meeting with the same ministers has been scheduled for Wednesday afternoon at the economic development ministry. The likelihood that the decree itself could be announced this week — it was due to be discussed in the Council of Ministers tomorrow — is now a remote one. The first hurdle is finding resources to back up economic stimulus measures. There are no funds in the budget, which means new money has to be found, but Silvio Berlusconi is personally opposed to the wealth tax put forward by business leaders. Yesterday, the prime minister said “I’m against it”, although he did not rule such a tax out entirely. “I do not feel I can express the opinions of other members of the majority”, he said, referring to the wealth tax…

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

China to Slow Yuan Rises to Shield Exporters

BEIJING: China is set to show the world that its currency policy begins and ends at home, slowing down the yuan’s appreciation to shield exporters from a global economic downturn and show US lawmakers they cannot push the pace of reform.

Beijing can argue that the economic fundamentals alone suit a period of currency stability, never mind that the US Senate would be up in arms after passing legislation designed to force the pace of appreciation, or that the world at large wants China to ramp up consumption to boost global growth.

Yuan forwards markets are pricing in a slower pace of appreciation for the currency against the dollar. Few analysts expect Beijing to repeg the yuan to the dollar, but instead see a temporary slowdown in its rise to ride out the global slowdown and make a statement to the United States.

Beijing’s worry is that the external backdrop becomes as bad as the summer 2008, when global financial turmoil put a then three-year long, 21 percent appreciation of the yuan on hold.

Latest figures show that Chinese economic growth is its slowest in two years, the pace of exports is wilting and the flow of capital into the country is slowing down.

Export growth to the euro zone, China’s biggest export market, more than halved in September from August and exports were a net drag on the economy’s growth in the first three quarters of this year.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Dollar Falls to Post WW II Low vs Yen; Euro Climbs

NEW YORK (AP) — The euro climbed against the dollar on Friday on hopes that European leaders can put together a comprehensive plan to solve the region’s debt crisis. Meanwhile, the dollar fell to its lowest point against the Japanese yen since World War II. The yen has risen 6.5 percent this year against the U.S. currency despite Japan’s efforts to slow its climb. A strong yen can hurt Japanese companies selling goods overseas.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

German Business Confidence Falls Further

An economic survey has found that German business confidence has fallen for the fourth month in a row. The drop came after Germany lowered its growth forecast for 2012 amid the escalating eurozone debt crisis.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Merkel Sees Bigger Greek Debt Write Down

Chancellor Angela Merkel has told her party there will likely be an increase in the write down of Greek debt, while trying to play down reports of disagreements with France over the European debt crisis.

She told members of her conservative Christian Democratic Union and its sister party, the Christian Social Union on Friday, that the time was approaching when one would have to recognise that the agreed write down of 21 percent was not going to be enough, according to members at the parliamentary party meeting.

Thoroughness must be more important than speed in taking measures taken to fight the euro crisis, she said, adding that the measures would have to work.

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said Europe faced a ‘serious’ crisis as he arrived in Brussels on Friday for talks with his counterparts from other countries ahead of a crunch summit on Sunday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sedan Again as Germany Imposes Terms

German victory. Defeat for France, Spain, Italy, and the Greco-Latin sphere.

My instant impression from the leaked EU summit draft is that the accord is minimalist, and largely a German Diktat. It has the makings of a diplomatic Sedan 1870. If this is what landed on Nicolas Sarkozy’s desk at the Elysee yesterday, one starts to grasp, sort of, why he left Carla Bruni to labour alone as he dashed to Frankfurt to meet the two other women in his life, Chancellor Angela Merkel and IMF chief Christine Lagarde, as well as the European Central Bank’s old and new chiefs.

This document is not final, of course. Mr Sarkozy knows how go full-throttle histrionic, throw a fit, play the war guilt card, scream, shout, and even threaten to walk out of Emu (as he did in the May 2010 summit). He is so mercurial and impetuous that he might actually do something shocking if Germany refuses to meet him half way.

The text may well be very different by Sunday. It had better be.

1) There will be no change to the mandate or role of the ECB. The doctrine of “Price Stability” is upheld. (That is not the historic role of central banks, by the way. They were created in the 17th century to be lenders of last resort, as was the Fed before World War One. The idea that their chief task is to manipulate a single variable — the price level — is both new and misguided.)

There is no hint that the full firepower of the ECB will be harnessed to solve this crisis, as demanded by France, the US Treasury, the IMF, and much of the City. In my view this refusal to deploy the ECB is a colossal error, and will doom the summit outcome to failure.

2) There will be no move to fiscal union in the way we all understand it: no eurobonds, fiscal pooling, no big transfers. Zilch, as expected.

The so-called “Six Pack” of proposals for closer EU economic government relate to the policing of budgets, and such like. They are a means of imposing austerity, not sharing debts. This is what Germany means by “Fiskalunion”. It is a loss of sovereignty for one purpose only. The deflationary bias of the EMU system remains in place.

3) The permanent bail-out fund (ESM) will be brought forward from June 2013, but there is no date. The purpose of this trick is to allow the existing €440bn EFSF and ESM to operate at the same time, giving the rescue machinery greater fire power. OK, but rating agencies might notice. So will investors. Surely double-edged?

4) 5) 6) are kicked into touch until finance ministers gather on Friday. These cover the leverage of the EFSF, the scale of haircut for Greek bondholders, and the scale of bank recapitalization ( apparently now just €80bn, which is not going to do the trick).

There is an “unequivocal commitment” that haircuts will be confined to Greece alone. If you believe that, I have some ocean-front property to sell you in Alsace. Fresh details soon.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Bridgewater, NJ, Hires More Lawyers to Defend Mosque Lawsuit as Feds Investigate

BRIDGEWATER — The Township Council is beefing up its defense team, hiring a second lawyer to handle a lawsuit filed by a Muslim group alleging religious discrimination in a zoning battle over a proposed mosque. The Al Falah Center filed its suit in April in federal district court in New Jersey, claiming that a township zoning ordinance was drafted with the sole purpose of preventing the group from turning a former 7.6-acre banquet hall property on Mountain Top Road into a house of worship.

The case, meanwhile, has caught the attention of the U.S. Justice Department, which has requested the township turn over copies of zoning documents and reports as part of a routine investigation into whether officials may have violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000. A federal judge this summer denied the township’s motion to dismiss the suit. Meeting Thursday morning in a conference room, the council voted 3-0, with two members absent, to hire Kevin J. Coakley and his associates of the Roseland firm Connell Foley at the rate of $275 an hour, not to exceed $50,000.

Coakley will join Howard D. Cohen of Mt. Laurel-based Parker McCay. Cohen was hired in May. The council agreed to spend up to $100,000 in legal expenses this year.

The zoning ordinance in question came after months of bitter Planning Board and council meetings, in which residents complained the mosque would overwhelm the tree-lined community with traffic. Opponents were bolstered by Somerset County Tea Party founder Jim Lefkowitz, who used his website to encourage people to attend meetings and donate money to the Bridgewater group fighting the mosque application. Lefkowitz, who denied religion was factor in the debate, asked at one meeting whether the group had ties to a terrorist organization, which the group denied.

Township attorney William Savo, in recommending Coakley Thursday, noted that the Al Falah Center has four firms working on its behalf. The center is represented by the firm Archer & Greiner of Haddonfield, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Brennan Center for Justice and Arnold & Porter of Washington, D.C.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Multicultural Center Hosts Religious Discovery Series Event on Islam

Rashed Nizam gave a presentation about the Islam religion.

The Multicultural Center hosted an educational event about Islam on Tuesday evening, featuring a presentation about the religion and a social aspect. The event was part of the “Religious Discovery Series.” The presentation was given by Rashed Nizam, chairman of the board at the Islamic Center of Central Missouri. “There are a lot of misunderstandings about Islam,” Nizam said. “ People should learn about it from the source, from people who practice it.”

Multicultural Center graduate assistant Cynthia Kanagui said the Religious Discovery Series is an opportunity for students to understand religions that are the minority in this region.

“Learning about religions allows us to have a closer connection to people who are different,” Kanagui said. During the presentation, Nizam provided information about the five pillars of Islam and the religious obligations of Muslims. He also made points such as the fact that “Holy War” is not a Muslim term or ideal, and that reason behind the Hijab (the head scarf worn by female Muslims) is not oppression but modesty.

“The presentation clarified some terminology that is often misunderstood,” Kanagui said. Multicultural Center staff member Carlos Huezo said the goal of the presentation and the Religious Discovery Series is to raise awareness. “People are encouraged to ask questions,” Huezo said. “It’s meant to be both a discussion and a mixer.” Aamer Trambu, a first year graduate student, said he thought the event would be a good place to meet people. Trambu also said he thought the presentation was good opportunity for people to learn about Islam and to help break stereotypes, most of which are wrong.

Trambu said he knows there is a long way to go for people to understand Islam. “People should understand that Muslims are different in that a Muslim is always a full-time Muslim,” Trambu said. “We pray five times a day and eat food that is permissible.” Trambu said Muslims are approachable and want to talk about Islam and foster understanding. He also said the media contributes to the stereotypes, such as the idea that all Muslims are Arabs. “I’m from India and people assume we are Hindu by default,” Trambu said. Trambu said Columbia is a place he feels comfortable practicing Islam. “I think Columbia as a city is quite open to Muslims,” Trambu said. “People don’t treat us like others here, and it means a lot. It’s good to know they have respect for us.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Mosque Will Lower Minaret

The planned mosque on 16th Avenue will reduce the height of the minaret to 100 feet from 135 feet and eliminate two side domes “as a gesture of goodwill”, according to an ad in today’s Economist & Sun from the mosque’s board of directors. Mosque director Shafique Malik declined to speak to the Economist & Sun earlier this week. However, when reached on his cellphone this morning, Mr. Malik confirmed the ad was taken out by the mosque and all the information contained in the ad is correct.

Mr. Malik said the board has nothing else to add or comment. Titled “To our friends and neighbours in Markham”, the mosque’s board of directors said their mosque will be a “local place of worship for our families who live in this community. We wish to reiterate that it will not serve as a regional-scale place of worship, and is comparable in size to other places of worship recently built in Markham”.

The ad states that the mosque group was motivated to purchase the property in 2006 because it was zoned and ready to proceed as a place of worship. “Since 2006 we have worked with our architect to design a mosque that is high quality in design and visually appealing. Since our purchase we have worked co-operatively with the Town of Markham to accommodate requests that go beyond typical requirements for a place of worship,” the ad reads. The mosque design, it adds, will incorporate additional landscaping at the front of the building and a “living wall” feature that will buffer the mosque’s parking lot from adjacent neighbours.

The mosque has met the town’s parking requirements. “We understand from the Town of Markham that many places of worship ask for, and receive, relief from the town’s parking requirements for places of worship,” the board said. “We did not seek any relief and all of the mosque’s required parking will be accommodated on site.” The board of directors said they have willingly made changes in the spirit of being a good neighbour even though they have the right to proceed and build the current design. They said the two side domes will be eliminated to “minimize the visual impact to adjacent neighbours”. “We are pleased to honour our commitment to these changes for the community in a spirit of goodwill,” the board said. “Our families are proud to call Markham their home, and we are committed to living in harmony with our neighbours.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Bank of Italy Choice Risks Creating Tensions With France

Rome, 21 Ott. (AKI/BloombergI) — Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s surprise nomination of Ignazio Visco to run the Bank of Italy sets up a possible clash with French President Nicolas Sarkozy over the composition of the European Central Bank’s Executive Board.

Berlusconi chose Visco, a 30-year veteran of the Bank of Italy, to succeed Mario Draghi, who is to become president of the ECB when Jean-Claude Trichet’s term ends this month. The Italian premier had indicated he might choose ECB Executive Board member Lorenzo Bini Smaghi for the post, which would free up a seat on the ECB’s decision-making board for a Frenchman.

Sarkozy had made removing Bini Smaghi from the board a condition of his support for Draghi’s ECB candidacy, which was key to convincing German Chancellor Angela Merkel to back the Italian for the top ECB post. Bini Smaghi had refused to resign from the Executive Board before the end of his term in 2013. Berlusconi will have the chance to explain his decision to Sarkozy at a European Union summit in Brussels on Sunday.

“You wonder how in these musical chairs they’re going to make room for Bini Smaghi,” said Riccardo Barbieri, chief European economist at Mizuho International Plc in London. “There must have been conversations with the people involved in the process that would lead to the rebalancing that France was looking for on the ECB board.”

Visco’s nomination to a six-year term ends a four-month deadlock over Draghi’s successor that reflected divisions in the government at a time when Berlusconi is struggling to convince investors that he can act to tame the euro-region’s second- biggest debt after Greece. Berlusconi is under pressure to maintain good relations with Draghi as the ECB has been backstopping Italian bonds since August after yields rose to euro-era records on concern Italy would be engulfed by the region’s debt crisis.

Berlusconi and finance minister Giulio Tremonti clashed over the appointment, with the premier initially backing Bank of Italy director General Fabrizio Saccomanni, the candidate favored by Draghi, and Tremonti preferring Treasury Director General Vittorio Grilli, newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Sept. 28.

Grilli, who is from Milan, was also supported by Umberto Bossi, leader of the Northern League, which holds the key to Berlusconi’s parliamentary majority, who said he preferred Grilli because he was a “Milanese.”

Choosing Visco allows Berlusconi to appease Draghi and Italian president Giorgio Napolitano, who had pushed for an internal candidate, rather than a political appointee. He also can partially satisfy Tremonti by denying the post to Saccomanni, Draghi’s favored choice for the position, newspapers including La Repubblica reported today. The choice leaves the issue of Bini Smaghi unresolved.

Members of the government and opposition leaders praised the decision. “With the nomination of Ignazio Visco, Draghi has had another success and the independence of the Bank of Italy was maintained, even if a little tarnished,” said Italo Bocchino, secretary of the Future and Liberty for Italy party.

Berlusconi on 18 October said that Bini Smaghi was on his “shortlist,” the only Bank of Italy candidate he cited by name that day. Berlusconi decided that he would nominate Bini Smaghi for the position Thursday, a deputy minister in his government said on condition of anonymity. The premier appears to have changed his mind after meetings with top members of his Cabinet, including Tremonti and Bossi, late Thursday in Rome.

“You have the whole Bini Smaghi thing coming back to the fore,” Marc Ostwald, a fixed-income strategist at Monument Securities Ltd. in London, said in an e-mail. “The French obviously feel they should have a French member” on the board, “and this nomination doesn’t solve the problem.”

Amid pressure from France and Italy to step down, Bini Smaghi said in a speech at the Vatican on 16 June that ECB officials must have “personal independence, which ensures the security of tenure of the members of the decision-making bodies for the whole term of office.” An ECB spokesman, asking not to be identified in line with policy, declined to comment last night on Bini Smaghi.

When EU leaders confirmed Draghi, 64, to succeed Trichet on 24 June, Berlusconi pledged to nominate his successor the following week. Visco, a former chief economist at the Paris- based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, wasn’t among the three candidates he cited by name: Bini Smaghi, Saccomanni and Grilli.

Visco hails from Naples, a southern city often criticized by the Northern League for its organized crime and chronic garbage problems. Still, Roberto Calderoli, one of the Northern League’s Cabinet members, praised Visco last night as a solid economist with the “pragmatic” qualities of a northern Italian.

Visco is one of three deputy directors-general at the Bank of Italy. He started his career at the central bank in 1972 and holds a degree in economics from the University of Rome and a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania.

In his most recent public comments before the Senate in Rome on 30 August, Visco called for structural moves to overhaul Italy’s economy, whose growth has lagged behind the euro-area average for the past decade, after the government approved 54 billion euros in austerity measures to help tame debt of about 120 percent of gross domestic product.

The spending cuts and tax increases “will have inevitable restrictive effects on the economy,” Visco said. “The growth in international commerce is unlikely to return quickly to the high levels of before the crisis. We therefore risk a period of stagnation, which will slow the reduction of the debt.”

The Bank of Italy’s Board of Directors is set to meet on Monday to give a non-binding opinion on Visco’s candidacy to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, who must give final approval before Visco gets the job.

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

Belgium: Green Light for Moroccan Wedding Parties!

The parish council of Belsele, part of the city of Sint-Niklaas (East Flanders), has given the go ahead for Moroccan wedding parties in their parish centre. Earlier the local priest had banned such celebrations after matters got out of hand when a Moroccan wedding caravan passed through the parish.

The Belsele parish council made time to consider the matter and decided to reverse the ban imposed by the local parish priest. Parish councillors noted that the disturbance caused by hooting drivers occurred outside the parish centre and concluded that it was up to the local Sint-Niklaas police to intervene, if necessary.

The news triggered a massive sigh of relief from the local Moroccan community that feared that in future it would have to go further afield to celebrate its marriages in style. Finding a suitable venue is not always easy. Belgium’s anti-racism centre, the CGKR, too, had been brought in and suggested that the possible ban was not appropriate.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Denmark: Islamists Seek to Introduce ‘Sharia Zones’

A majority of Danish Muslims distance themselves from small group of extremists

A fundamentalist Islamic group wants to set up zones in Copenhagen where Islamic Sharia Law should be upheld.

The group, ‘The Call to Islam’, belongs to a branch of Islam called Salafism, whose followers in the UK attempted to introduce similar Sharia zones in London earlier this summer.

According to Jyllands-Posten newspaper, the group is led by the imam Abu Ahmed, who has taught several people subsequently linked to terrorist activities. The Call to Islam intends to start patrolling the Copenhagen neighbourhood of Tingbjerg before extending into Nørrebro and eventually the whole of Denmark. Muslims found to be drinking and gambling would be reprimanded for breaking Islamic code.

The Muslimernes Fællesråd, an umbrella organisation representing over 40,000 Muslims from several organisations, has denounced the plans. “We should definitely take them seriously and enter into dialogue with them,” spokesperson Mustafa Gezen told Jyllands-Posten. “We should not ignore their extreme inclinations in our society. The problem is that many young people are susceptible to these beliefs. We need to start at the primary school level, to stress the importance of democracy.”

The deputy mayor for integration, Anna Mee Allerslev, told Jyllands-Posten Tueday that she was previously aware of the group and their plans. “A while ago I asked our employees to head out and intensify their work to engage with them,” she said. “But it’s important that we don’t talk it up too much because they are only a small group in Tingbjerg. But it’s important that we pay attention to the problem.”

Allerslev added that she had called a meeting with Islamic group Islamisk Trossamfund and the Muslimernes Fællesråd to discuss how to prevent the radicalisation of Islamic youth. She also stated that the City Council was in contact with the authorities in London who have many years’ experience dealing with similar groups. According to the City Council, there are nine Salafists patrolling Tingbjerg. The group has a core support of about 50 individuals in Copenhagen who are joined by several hundred additional supporters at study meetings.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Estonia Lives the European Dream

The Estonians, with little debt, an enthusiastic attitude toward Europe and a stoic approach to austerity measures, are a model EU nation in the midst of a crisis. They live in a digital republic defined by a business-friendly atmosphere and government transparency, an image that is attracting European expats.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Expensive Autonomy: Europe’s Overpriced Navi System Heads for Space

It is years behind schedule. But on Friday, two satellites belonging to the European navigation system Galileo are heading into orbit. The system promises to be more precise than anything currently available. But Europe has paid dearly for its autonomy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France: Trouble in Marseille

With acts of violence and trafficking of all kinds going on in broad daylight, crime has become rife in Marseille and is affecting all parts of the city. Teenagers from the estates cause chaos and the police seem overwhelmed. Residents are wondering if the government has given up on them.

Marseille, France’s Mediterranean melting pot, is famous for its port, its pastis — and its criminal underworld. The city that featured in 1970s cop flick “The French Connection” and spawned legendary gangsters like Francis Le Belge has long been familiar with organised crime. But the past year has seen a highly-publicised rise in violence and anti-social behaviour which has left some residents worried their city is out of control. France 24’s Chris Moore and Karim Hakiki went to sample the atmosphere on the streets.

22 year-old Johnny sits on a bench in a dilapidated corner of the 15th arrondissement. Tucked away between main roads and tower blocks, his neighbourhood has been abandoned. Businesses are boarded up, public services are absent and locals complain of habitual discrimination at the hands of the police. With few opportunities to earn a regular living, it’s no surprise, he says, that young people deal drugs and steal: “It’s like Robin Hood.”

Over on the other side of town, greengrocer Henri has suffered three robberies in the space of a year, one of them a violent break-in at his home which has left his wife and son traumatised. He tells us the police have been overwhelmed as cases like his become more common. Sceptical as to the effectiveness of the authorities, he’s taking matters into his own hands.

According to Marseille’s state prosecutor, a relaxed attitude to petty crime is part of the city’s problem. It’s great living somewhere with a “laissez-faire” attitude, he says, but the downside is that people ignore basic rules and regulations. What’s more, the criminals are getting younger and more violent. Has a watershed been reached, where “laissez-faire” has become “anything goes?”

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Germany: Bike Revolution Sparks Clash With Motorists

Germany might still be known for its high-speed autobahns, but in cities, bicycles are now so popular that a war of words has broken out between drivers and cyclists over who rules the road. In Berlin, more than 500,000 of the 3.5 million inhabitants daily bike around the city — twice as many as a decade ago — making the most of an extensive network of cycle paths.

On Unter den Linden, the capital’s celebrated, tree-lined central boulevard, cyclists zoom up and down between the pedestrians and hordes of tourists admiring the Brandenburg Gate. ‘Beer bikes’ pedalled simultaneously by a dozen or so people who drink beer while cycling around the city are also a common sight in the German capital.

“There is a real problem with the cyclists who do not respect the rules, who zigzag and ride any old way. They are becoming less and less civilised,” Tahmaures, a 58-year-old taxi driver, fumed.

Germany traditionally conjures up images of a nation of car lovers, but the Transport Ministry said there had been “a renaissance of the bicycle since the beginning of the 90s”. And it is concerned about the high number of accidents suffered by cyclists.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Ex-Wife Killer of Slain Gucci Heir Would Rather Stay in Prison Than Have to Work

“I’ve never worked in my life, I won’t start now,” says Patrizia Reggiani, who has served half of a 26-year sentence for commissioning the murder of her ex-husband Maurizio Gucci. She is now eligible for parole, but would rather stay in jail than join a work-release program

Fabio Poletti

For some, work is a prison. For others, like Patrizia Reggiani, the former Mrs. Maurizio Gucci, staying in prison is better than working. Having served half of a 26-year sentence for commissioning the murder of her ex husband, the last heir of the Italian fashion dynasty Gucci, Reggiani is entitled to work release. But she is not interested. “I’ve never worked in my life, I won’t start now,” she answered, when the Italian judges reviewing her case asked why she had not applied to the program. Once a well-to-do Milanese lady, Reggiani has been sharing a cell in Milan’s San Vittore prison with different cellmates, two evergreen plants, and a ferret, since her January 1997 arrest for the murder of her husband, who was shot a few blocks from home. Reggiani’s lawyer, Danilo Buongiorno, defend his client’s right to not apply for work release.

“It’s up to her to choose. Her decision has to be respected,” he says. “My client is not well. She is still suffering from her [1992] brain surgery. Living with her cellmates is not easy.” Obviously, life in jail is hardly easy for this once rich socialite who, when arrested, complained that she missed her make up. She later obtained access to lipstick and rouge. Reggiani has spoken nicely of her two cellmates. “They are so nice. They even help me to make the bed,” Reggiani said.

Weeping in a Rolls

Once a waitress with sparkling eyes who became Mrs. Gucci, Reggiani paid a fortune teller and an unemployed driver to plot the murder of her husband, a womanizer who had decided to leave her. Prison should be tough for her, but apparently not as tough as working. She was famous for her extravagant life, for spending some 10,000 euros a month for orchids alone, and for once famously declaring, “I would rather weep in a Rolls Royce than be happy on a bicycle.” She is still the same. Working in a gym or restaurant would be tougher for her than prison. “Anyway, since 2005, my client is allowed out to visit her elderly mother,” says her lawyer…

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

Norway: Statoil Confirms Massive North Sea Oil Find

Norwegian energy giant Statoil confirmed Friday that a large new oil discovery in the North Sea announced earlier this year is twice as big as previously thought. The giant Aldous Major South field is estimated to contain between 900 million and 1.5 billion barrels of recoverable oil equivalent (boe), or double the 400 to 800 million boe previously announced, Statoil said.

Along with the neighbouring Avaldsnes field, with which it is linked, it could be the third largest reserve of black gold ever found off Norway, containing between 1.7 and 3.3 billion boe. “Aldous/Avaldsnes is a giant, and one of the largest finds ever on the Norwegian continental shelf,” Tim Dodson, Statoil’s executive vice president for exploration, said in a statement.

If the estimates are confirmed, Aldous/Avaldsnes would trail just behind Norway’s biggest oil fields Statfjord, with 3.6 billion boe, and Ekofisk, with 3.4 billion boe. Both of those fields were discovered some 40 years ago in the early days of Norway’s oil era.

The discovery of Aldous Major South and Avaldsnes has reignited interest in the North Sea, where oil and gas production has declined sharply in recent years. After hitting a peak in 2001, Norway’s oil production has dwindled and the country is now the world’s seventh-biggest oil exporter. Last year, the Scandinavian country produced an average of 1.8 million barrels per day, just over half of what it did 10 years ago.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Swiss Pass Norway to Become World’s Richest

The average Swiss sits on a fortune amounting to 450,000 francs ($497,000), making the country the wealthiest in the world, according to a new report published on Thursday. Figures show Switzerland overtaking Norway as the richest nation in the world in terms of average wealth per adult. Australia and Singapore follow in third and fourth places, respectively. When looking at figures in US dollars, average household wealth doubled in the last decade to a great extent due to the strength of the franc, the report states.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Switzerland: SVP Probed for Anti-Kosovar Campaign

Zurich prosecutors are investigating if Swiss far-right party Swiss People’s Party (SVP) flouted racial discrimination rules in a campaign ad that details crimes committed by two Kosovars. Public officials received the criminal complaint on October 14th from the lawyers of two Kosovar residents in Switzerland, who argue that the SVP ad discriminated an entire ethnic group.

The ad entitled “Kosovars slash the Swiss” described an incident which took place on August 15th in Interlaken, a famous tourist resort in the Bernese Alps. According to news reports, a Kosovar man killed a Swiss Alpine wrestler by cutting his throat with a knife. The man was having a drink in one of the terraces in Interlaken, when he started a verbal dispute with two Kosovar men.

Some newspapers refused to publish the ad that read ‘Kosovars slash the Swiss’ but agreed to go to press with a toned down version that read ‘A Kosovar slashes a Swiss.’ However, the original ad has been widely distributed online by the SVP as part of its ‘Stop mass immigration’ initiative. It can still be found on the homepage of the party’s anti-foreigners initiative.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Do You Trust Bob Lambert?

Bob Lambert, police spy who ran a controversial operation infiltrating various Left wing organisations, and who himself participated in the long term infiltration of London Greenpeace, has come out fighting.

It is an unintended consequence of the Guardian’s reporting that critics who object to the fact that I granted legitimacy and status to many politically active Muslim Londoners by working with them as partners should now claim I was spying on them — or, worse, that they were paid informants of mine. Let me be clear.I dispute the Policy Exchange argument that my Muslim partners were extreme or subversive, and fit only for the role of paid informants or to be secretly infiltrated. I did not recruit one Muslim Londoner as an informant nor did I spy on them. They were partners of police and many acted bravely in support of public safety.

Let us be clear. By “politically active Muslims”, Bob Lambert means “members of organisations which are directly linked to Islamist political parties”. The parties in question are Jamaat-e-Islami and the Muslim Brotherhood. It is the Muslim Brotherhood who funds his faux-research institute at Exeter: the European Muslim Research Centre.

His partners are supporters of attacks on British troops overseas, and terrorism aimed at innocent civilians. They are cheerleaders of the most horrific misogyny, homophobia and antisemitism. They are institutions which not only hold these vicious beliefs privately, but actively and energetically promote them.

What Bob Lambert does, professionally, is to advance the cause of these organisastions. He vouches for them. He defames their opponents, including liberals who are Muslims and who are absolutely frantic about what is being done by extremists to their communities. So, when Bob Lambert describes these activists as “politically active Muslims”, he might as well also describe the British National Party or Combat 18 supporters as “politically active Englishmen”. It is a euphemism too far, and it doesn’t wash.

What do you make of Lambert’s mealy mouthed conclusion?

Government policy risks taking us back to the days of cold war counter-subversion and away from a focus on terrorism and politically motivated crime of all kinds. Instead we should learn from past mistakes and foster where we can an alternative model of counter-terrorism partnership policing built on real trust; a trust that is sometimes necessarily undermined by recourse to the tactics of covert policing.

Is that a note of regret? Is Bob Lambert saying, in a round about way, that his career as an infiltrator of Left wing organisations was a “mistake”? The trouble is this. Bob Lambert is determined that the police build “trust” with people who are only of interest to the police in the first place, because of their proximity to domestic terrorists. He’s saying that we should “trust” people who foster hatred and animosity between communities in the United Kingdom. He’s arguing that we ought to “trust” him to know where mere hate speech ends and incitement to terrorism begins.

Well I’m sorry Bob. I don’t trust you. You’re sacrificing gays, Jews, women, liberal Muslims, all of us to that exercise in trust building.

So, when Bob Lambert says:

I did not recruit one Muslim Londoner as an informant nor did I spy on them. They were partners of police and many acted bravely in support of public safety.

- a better interpretation is this. Bob Lambert did recruit activists in Islamist organisations as informants. He didn’t pay them with money. He “paid” them with political influence.

I have a disturbing suspicion that Bob Lambert defends men who want to see gays executed, who believe that the best sort of government and society is one ordered by an authoritarian interpretation of religion, who think that women ought to know their place: because that’s basically his view as well. I don’t trust him for that reason too.

And, were I an activist in an Islamist organisation who had attended one of the many extremist events, featuring supporters of violence and terrorism, put on by Bob Lambert’s “partners”: I wouldn’t trust him and I wouldn’t trust my leaders either.

The gig is now up.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Europe Has Broken Leaders Before — Will Cameron Share Their Fate?

If the Prime Minister doesn’t stand up for democracy, many Tories will judge that he is not worth supporting.

Half a century ago — having spent half my life outside Britain, working for a global business alongside colleagues of many nations — I eagerly accepted the idea that the best way to solve the problems of the fractious continent of Europe was via the creation of a supranational state. All my experience since then has brought me, gradually and reluctantly, to realise that I was wrong.

What tested my belief in Europe to destruction was my time in government. It is a sensation that should be familiar to David Cameron from his own short time in office — not to mention the experience of his recent Conservative predecessors. It was, after all, the European issue that brought down Margaret Thatcher. Contrary to the myth, she was no extreme “Little Englander”, but a balanced and cautious advocate of the British national interest. Her famous “No, No, No” was not a petulant reiteration: it was a rejection of each of the three proposals by Jacques Delors that would convert the European Economic Community into a sovereign state called the European Union. From that moment, the Europhile lobby was determined she should go, using Geoffrey Howe and Michael Heseltine as their political hitmen.

Poor John Major was easier meat. My hopes of him were dashed when he told me that the Maastricht commitment to a single currency would not be a matter of principle, but just a practical matter of being in or out — a practical matter that shattered his party and government, and lost him the votes of 4.5 million of the 14.1 million electors who had endorsed him in 1992.

When David Cameron became leader of the Conservative Party, it was on a staunchly Eurosceptic platform. In 2007, for example, he offered an unconditional promise — the “cast-iron guarantee” — that he would give the British people a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. That unredeemed pledge haunts his leadership, a ghostly guarantee that would have been difficult enough to exorcise even without the catastrophic wounds now being inflicted on the European and world economy by the turmoil within the eurozone.

Yet the truth is that the current crisis should have come as no surprise, either to Mr Cameron or to the wider public. Indeed, it has been precisely forecast since before the euro came into being. The would-be masters of Europe knew, just as we critics did, that the euro would eventually fail unless it was supported by a single economic policy wielded by a single treasury within a single government.

The calculation in Brussels was — and is — that the damage threatened by the currency’s collapse would frighten both the leaders and the led into the ultimate stage of “ever closer union”: namely, another burning building without fire exits or windows, but with even stronger locks on the doors. That union could not be a democratic one, not only because of the circumstances of its conception and birth, but because, as Enoch Powell observed many years ago, there is no such thing as a European demos. What no one could have foreseen, of course, was that the fall of the euro would coincide with a global financial crisis. Yet times of crisis and danger are also times of opportunity for those with clear minds and stout hearts.

What needs to be done to shore up the collapsing structure of the eurozone requires the consent, perhaps even the assistance, of the United Kingdom. It is quite clear that any proposals will require the 17 members of the euro (or however many remain) to agree policies collectively, but then act with a single voice in the councils of the European Union. That is what George Osborne accepts as the “remorseless logic” of fiscal union. Unfortunately, it would also give these countries a guaranteed majority that the United Kingdom could never defeat. We would for ever have to accept what the eurozone members decreed.

Mr Cameron and William Hague have indicated that they will not be so unmannerly as to exact a price — in terms of changes to the constitution created by the Lisbon Treaty — for their agreement to what needs to be done. This is deeply disappointing. Yet there is another path ahead of them. I have long been a critic of the inability or unwillingness of this Coalition to manage its business effectively: its habit of thinking that announcing a well-meaning initiative is the same thing as carrying it through to implementation; its use of expressions such as the “Big Society” as brand names for products that it cannot define.

But for once, that could work in their favour. They should tell Brussels that the “Big Society” enables the electors to nominate subjects to be discussed and voted upon in the House of Commons. The Big Society and the independent backbenchers have decided that, next week, Parliament will discuss and vote upon a proposal that would mandate the Government to organise a referendum on the EU. This would include not just an “In or Out” question, but a third option that would mandate the Government to renegotiate the conditions of our membership. “It is tough,” Messrs Cameron and Hague should tell our partners, “but there it is. We can only avoid an ‘Out’ majority by achieving a substantial repatriation of powers, and even that might not do it. Sorry about that — but it’s called democracy, and it is well established here.”

Of course, it is not only Mr Cameron and his party who are in some disarray here. Nick Clegg and his Liberal Democrats and Ed Miliband and Labour are committed to holding a referendum — but, just like Mr Cameron, the very last thing they want is actually to have one. Presumably, Mr Clegg will once again abandon his party’s policy and support the Coalition. So Mr Miliband will have to choose between coming out for what most electors want — a referendum — and defeating the Government, or instructing his divided party to vote with Mr Cameron, thereby denying the electors a say.

Let us suppose that, one way or another, the Government wins the day. It would be at the cost of feeding the corrosive ill-feeling that has been festering ever since Mr Cameron tried to turn the back-bench 1922 Committee into a subsidiary of the largely unelected caucus at No 10. A three-line whip may reduce the size of the revolt, but it will embitter many backbenchers. Almost certainly a PPS or two will resign or be sacked, and a couple of junior ministers might follow.

All that is bad enough, but one can only guess at the effect on the public if a mixture of threats, cowardice and clever procedural manoeuvring again denies them the chance to express their views on our membership of the European Union. Once again, a policy has been tossed out of an upstairs window at No 10 without anyone thinking it through. There will be no benefit to the Prime Minister, the Government, or the Conservative Party from this. On the other hand, Nigel Farage and Ukip must be laughing their socks off. There must be many Tories who have stuck to the party through thick and thin — in my case for 55 years — who will be wondering if it is worthwhile any more. David Cameron may get his way next week, but the price at next year’s European elections could be bloody.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: New Mosque to Open in Exeter

Muslims across East Devon are celebrating the opening of a new mosque and cultural centre.

Muslims across East Devon are celebrating the opening of a new mosque and cultural centre. The new building, in York Road, Exeter, will open this Wednesday, October 26, and is the culmination of years of fundraising, which has drawn approximately £1.7 million from different sources. The development is in response to the growing Muslim population in the area, which has increased five-fold since the Islamic Centre of the South West was first established in York Road, Exeter in 1978. Based on a traditional design, the mosque includes an elaborate dome and minaret and prayer hall for daily prayers and Friday sermons. A large community hall is incorporated within the building, and will also be available for local events and activities. The centre’s board of trustees said: “The yearning of the Muslim community to have a purpose built mosque and cultural centre has finally been fulfilled.

Planning permission was granted in 2000 and with strenuous efforts by the trustees and the Muslim community, funds were raised and the work was started in 2008. We are delighted by the finished building.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Protests Close London’s St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral said Friday it was closing its doors to the public for the first time in modern history because of anti-capitalist demonstrators camping outside the London landmark. More than 200 activists inspired by the US Occupy Wall Street movement have taken over the churchyard in front of the cathedral in London’s financial district since Saturday to protest against corporate greed and state cutbacks.

“I have written an open letter to the protestors this afternoon advising them that we have no lawful alternative but to close St Pauls Cathedral until further notice,” said Graeme Knowles, the dean of the cathedral. He said health, fire and safety officers believed there was a fire hazard from stoves, fires and different types of fuel being used near tents, while there was also a “public health aspect” from waste produced by the protesters. “The decision to close St Pauls Cathedral is unprecedented in modern times,” he added. St Paul’s has in the past served as a symbol of London’s spirit, particularly during the Blitz bombing campaign by Nazi Germany in World War II.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Police, Counter-Subversion and Extremism [Bob Lambert]

We need partnership, not spies. The coalition forgets that alienating communities is counterproductive

All areas of covert policing, including undercover work, need to be well regulated and well supported. Strong leadership is vital and I am sure Bernard Hogan-Howe, the new Metropolitan police commissioner, will provide it.

I cannot respond here to the Guardian’s report this week on my alleged undercover policing role for special branch. This isn’t to deny the importance of its reporting following the revelations in the Mark Kennedy case. The police should learn from mistakes as well as from successes. Such reports will no doubt play a part in that process.

Nor would I want to deny that the Met’s special branch undercover policing existed, or that it played a key role in countering political violence over a long period. Some of the bravest police officers I ever had the privilege to work with were undercover. Their work helped mount successful criminal prosecutions against groups and individuals engaged in a range of violent and threatening activities. And it is worth noting that the serious threats of violence many covert police officers face do not end with their operational deployments.

The undercover aspect of special branch work has been well reported by Peter Taylor in his groundbreaking BBC documentaries. What strikes me is the extent to which they record a shift away from counter-subversion in the 1970s and towards countering political violence and intimidation. In other words, the Met’s special branch became less preoccupied with beliefs and focused instead on crime — albeit politically motivated crime. Only in exceptional circumstances does this narrow criminal focus allow for criminal prosecutions against the written or spoken word — as evidenced by successful prosecutions in respect of racist literature from far-right groups. Otherwise it remains focused on criminal violence.

This shift from counter-subversion was clearly a move in the right direction for police, but it is one that the coalition is now putting in jeopardy. To the dismay of many officers, the home secretary is stealthily re-introducing a policy of counter-subversion aimed at Muslims she wrongly assesses to be extremist. Not only is this wrong, it is also damaging the trust built up among Muslims working in successful partnerships with police. To explain what I mean I need to refer to my role as head of the special branch Muslim contact unit (MCU) from 2002 to 2007. This was a police role based on trust, transparency and partnership.

It is an unintended consequence of the Guardian’s reporting that critics who object to the fact that I granted legitimacy and status to many politically active Muslim Londoners by working with them as partners should now claim I was spying on them — or, worse, that they were paid informants of mine. Let me be clear. I dispute the Policy Exchange argument that my Muslim partners were extreme or subversive, and fit only for the role of paid informants or to be secretly infiltrated. I did not recruit one Muslim Londoner as an informant nor did I spy on them. They were partners of police and many acted bravely in support of public safety.

The MCU was premised on the hard-won insight that covert counter-terrorism policing is often least suited to winning the community support needed to tackle terrorism and political violence. The MCU benefited from special branch experience of transparent partnerships with other community leaders when tackling terrorist threats prior to 9/11. Equally importantly, the MCU learned from mistakes made where aspects of covert counter-terrorism policing had alienated communities who might have worked in partnership.

In contrast, a counter-subversion strategy of the kind the coalition has begun in all but name against politically active Muslims allows resources to be deployed without regard to criminality.

Government policy risks taking us back to the days of cold war counter-subversion and away from a focus on terrorism and politically motivated crime of all kinds. Instead we should learn from past mistakes and foster where we can an alternative model of counter-terrorism partnership policing built on real trust; a trust that is sometimes necessarily undermined by recourse to the tactics of covert policing.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Rise in Reports of Assaults at Madrassas in Lancashire

COMPLAINTS about physical abuse in madrassas in Lancashire are rising, new figures reveal. But despite 37 complaints to the authorities in the last three years, only one member of staff has been successfully prosecuted. Madrassas are after-school classes held every night in mosques for boys and girls. Chairman of Lancashire Council of Mosques Salim Mulla said the organisation was working hard to crack down on the issue. According to official figures, 19 incidents of physical abuse were reported in 2010-2011. Of those, police were called to eight, but only three led to a criminal inquiry, which resulted in one caution. In 2009-2010, 14 complaints were logged and four in 2008-2009. No incidents of sexual abuse have been reported since 2008-2009, where two allegations were made, However, neither led to prosecutions.

There are more than 200 madrassas in the county which are registered with Lancashire Council of Mosques. But the chairman expressed concerns about home madrassas, which fall outside any regulations and guidelines. The vast majority of Muslim boys and girls from primary school age upwards attend madrassas to learn the Koran. Mr Mulla, said: “This is a big challenge for all of us. Whether it is one case, or 19 cases, it is still one case too many. We have written to all of the mosques and madrassas and have said no sort of corporal punishment should be given to children, and have implemented a no touching policy. We have held seminars with a criminal barrister and mosque leaders about the consequences of child abuse. Everyone in the mosques and madrassas are CRB checked. But we do have concerns about home madrassas as they have no guidelines and we don’t have a say with those.” The county council and police have launched an initiative to ensure teachers are aware of the law on safeguarding children.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: St. Paul’s Forced to Close Its Doors Due to Protest

St Paul’s Cathedral has been forced to close for the first time in living memory because of the anti-capitalist protest in its churchyard, it was revealed today.

Dean Rev Graeme Knowles said the cathedral would be shut until further notice after the “tent city” doubled in size — and demonstrators refused to leave. He said “health and safety issues” were behind the dramatic decision, which will cost the cathedral huge amounts in lost revenue. He said: “we have no lawful alternative but to close St Paul’s Cathedral until further notice. The decision is unprecedented in modern times. Making a new appeal for the protesters to leave, the dean added: “We have done this with a very heavy heart, but it is simply not possible to fulfil our day to day obligations to worshippers, visitors and pilgrims in current circumstances. It seems a very long time since the protestors arrived around the Cathedral last weekend. I am asking the protestors to recognise the huge issues facing us at this time and asking them to leave the vicinity of the building so that the Cathedral can re-open as soon as possible.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: The Government Planned to Recruit From a Terror Suspect’s Supporters to the Civil Service Fast Stream

by Paul Goodman

I wrote recently that the Government continues to engage with the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS), although its Prevent Review said: “We judge that FOSIS has not always fully challenged terrorist and extremist ideology within the higher and further education sectors. FOSIS needs to give clearer leadership to their affiliated societies in this area”.

I haven’t studied FOSIS, and consequently have no view on whether Ministers’ decision is right or not. There has certainly been a problem with a small number of college Islamic Societies. Five people who have held senior positions in University Islamic Socities have committed acts of terror or been convicted for terror-related offences. But whatever one’s take on the organisation, it would run counter to the warning words of the review were the Government to offer FOSIS special favours. Yet this was the case until a few days ago. Civil Service Fast Stream was due to hold a skills workship next Tuesday in association with FOSIS for people interested in applying.

Of the 26 people who said earlier this week that they were interested in attending, eight had Facebook avatars supporting Babar Ahmad, an alleged Al Qaeda operative who Ministers want to extradite to the United States. The Cabinet Office have overall responsibility for the civil service and was thus responsible for the event. I hear that Theresa May was furious when she found out about it, and that soon after she heard the news it was cancelled forthwith. But it isn’t necessary to believe that Ahmad should be extradited — the case is controversial — to ask: what on earth was going on? How can one part of government be seeking to recruit from a body about which another part has grave concerns?

Civil Service Fast Stream is apparently “a talent management programme for graduates who have the potential to become future leaders of the civil service”. The flyer for the event listed defence and foreign affairs as “just some of the areas where graduates on the civil service fast stream get to put their ideas into practice”. A source admitted to me that: “The system needs a thorough shake-up so that it works properly.” Officially, the Secretaries of State bear responsibility for the implementation of Prevent. However, no-one seems to have day-to-day oversight, and the Home Office scrambles to play catch-up. As I’ve written before, this is what’s bound to happen without an enforcer.

[Reader comment by Mohammed Amin on 21 October 2011 at 15:32]


This item shows how nothing in life is simple! The Civil Service quite rightly wants to broaden the pool of applicants to its fast stream. In the past, many people have excluded themselves from the possibility of selection due to having the incorrect belief that the Civil Service was not interested in people like them. In this regard, many Muslims that the Civil Service is trying to reach will be members of their universities’ Islamic societies. I suspect that the most efficient way of reaching them involves using FOSIS as the umbrella body.

AS you point out, FOSIS was criticised in the Prevent Review. Accordingly I can understand the Government not wishing to grant FOSIS any rewards. However, it is not FOSIS that is benefiting; it is the individual Muslims who may be encouraged to apply for Civil Service careers. The Civil Service also benefits by widening its applicant pool.

I do not think that “supporting” Babar Ahmad automatically disqualifies a person from being a suitable recruit for the Civil Service, and your suggesting this is inconsistent with your recognition that the Babar Ahmad case is controversial. There is a petition circulating which requests the Government to try Babar Ahmad instead of extraditing him, as the alleged offenses also violate British law. I haven’t decided yet whether to sign, as I have not had time to read up on the background. However I would regard it as unacceptable for all people who sign the petition to automatically be considered by the Government as unfit to be Civil Servants; that way lies McCarthyism.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: United Muslim Community Win Praise as Teenagers Return From Somali Border

The quick response of Cardiff’s Muslim communities to the disappearance, arrest in Kenya and final release of two young men has received widespread praise. But, as Clare Hutchinson reports, this is only the beginning…

IT has been a difficult and at times dramatic week for Cardiff’s Muslim communities. When news broke on Monday that two teenagers from Cardiff had been arrested by anti-terror police near the Somali border in Kenya, many feared the worst. One of the boys’ fathers, Abdirhman Haji Abdallah — who had flown out to Kenya in an attempt to bring his son home — told the BBC he feared his son had been “brainwashed” into believing he was “fighting in a holy war”. But then, on Wednesday, Kenyan authorities deported the teenagers to the UK, where they were questioned for five hours by the Wales Extremism and Counter Terrorism Unit before being released without charge.

Yesterday the pair, named by community leaders as Mohamed Abdirahman Mohamed and Khuram Shazad Iqbal, were safely back home with their families. Speaking outside the Somali Advice and Information Centre in Butetown, the imam of the nearby Nur Al Islam Mosque, Sheikh Mohamed Abdi Dahir, told waiting media: “We have been told they are OK and they are happy and resting in their respective homes. “The Muslim community and the wider community welcome this good news.” For Sheikh Mohamed and the handful of other religious and community leaders who had been working behind the scenes all week, it was a “happy ending”.

Whatever reason the pair had for travelling to Kenya, many saw the scare as a “wake-up call” for community leaders, police and members of the public to face up to an uncomfortable truth. Ibrahim Harbi, national co-ordinator of the Somali Integration Society in Cardiff, said it was “common knowledge” that a group of extremists were working within the city to target impressionable young people and radicalise them. “I think there is a group whose identities are known to the police and members of this community. It is not a secret group but a group that openly tries to brainwash young people,” he said. “The police know who they are — it is common knowledge who they are — and I think this incident should act as a wake-up call to everyone in Cardiff because people seem to have underestimated this group and how active they have been. These people are trying to divide our communities. What we need to do now is come together because we all have something in common — our safety and security and the safety and security of Cardiff.”

Saleem Kidwai, chairman of the Muslim Council of Wales, agreed. “They are here. The authorities know and the communities know and as a community we are doing our best to try to tackle it, but we need the authorities’ help,” he said. “All of us have to be vigilant and work together in partnership. It is not the responsibility of one individual or a particular community — it is our joint responsibility to make this country safe and keep it safe.”

In a joint statement made on behalf of Muslims in Cardiff, Sheikh Mohamed described the events of this week as a “saga” that had “united” the city’s Muslim community in a way that is rarely seen. It is this unity — as well as the proactive stance of the families of the two boys and their community leaders — that has won them widespread praise. It was seen as early as Sunday, when more than 250 members of the Pakistani and Somali community came together at Channel View leisure centre in Grangetown — partly to discuss the disappearance of the two teenagers and partly, according to Sheikh Mohamed, to show “solidarity”.

For Cardiff South and Penarth MP Alun Michael, the response and leadership shown by the community has been “remarkable”. He said: “I think, very often around the country, when there is a problem there is a tendency to close down and hope that the problem will go away. But instead of that the community came together, giving enormous support to the families whose young men had disappeared and choosing to ask questions about the influence of some groups and individuals within the community. At the meeting on Sunday both families were there and leaders from the Pakistani community as well, and I think that really bodes well for the future.”

According to Sheikh Mohamed, it is education that will help protect the city’s youngsters from radicalisation. “There is a need for more resources,” he said. “We can see so many of our young people who are graduates and yet unemployed. We are very, very strongly committed now to working with the communities and finding a way forward from what has happened. What everyone must understand is that Islam is a religion of justice and peace. We need to raise awareness of Islam so nobody can use it for their own particular ends.”

[JP note: I fail to see why everyone here is slapping each on the back, while at the same time asking for more money and resources, and then, to cap it all, making the unbelievable statement that Islam is a religion of peace. They all appear to be united in a mass delusion.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Village ‘Mosque’ Is Flouting Local Law, Says Council

A RELIGIOUS organisation that controversially set up an educational establishment in a residential property earlier this year has been accused of flouting council planning regulations.

Despite numerous objections from local residents, planning permission for the Muslim centre at 75 Cumbernauld Road, Stepps, was granted on March 16, 2011. It allowed for “the use of a dwelling house for religious instruction for up to 10 children between the hours of 7.30am and 6.30pm, Monday to Friday”.

But the applicants were told to block off access to Cumbernauld Road within three months of the application being granted — after fears were raised over increased traffic. The deadline came and went on August 1, but council officers say they still have had no response to several written warnings. At last week’s meeting of North Lanarkshire Council’s planning and transportation committee it was decided to issue a Breach of Conditions Notice. Should the notice not be adhered to the council will have the power to take legal action through the courts and administer fines.

Strathkelvin councillor Frances McGlinchy said: “It would seem that they are ignoring the council. It was part of the planning conditions that there be no access from Cumbernauld Road on health and safety grounds — particularly since there is a nursery located just over the road. They have taken away the garden of the house and monoblocked the area to allow cars to park there.” She added: “They have been told to reinstate the garden wall, but so far have failed to do so.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Visco Nomination as New Bank of Italy Chief Welcomed

‘Person of great professionalism’ says Confindustria

(ANSA) — Rome, October 21 — Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s surprise decision to nominate Ignazio Visco to be the next chief of the Bank of Italy has been warmly welcomed by the opposition and country’s business community.

The bank’s current number three is set to replace Mario Draghi, who will take over as president of European Central Bank on November 1.

The 61-year-old prevailed as compromise candidate on Thursday after months of disagreement within the government about who should take the job.

The other people in the running were Fabrizio Saccomanni, the current number two at the Bank of Italy, Treasury Director General Vittorio Grilli and Lorenzo Bini Smaghi, Italy’s member on the European Central Bank’s board.

“We are satisfied,” Emma Marcegaglia, the head of Italy’s largest industrial employers’ confederation Confindustria, said on Friday.

“He is a person of great professionalism and someone from inside the Bank of Italy, so he’ll certainly be able to guarantee the autonomy and independence that we have always seen as fundamental values”.

Pier Luigi Bersani, the leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, also praised the nomination while complaining about how long it had taken to make it.

“We welcome the nomination of Ignazio Visco,” said Bersani, who has blasted the government’s handling of the current financial crisis and repeatedly called on Berlusconi to resign.

“He fully responds to the criteria we have set out in recent weeks of autonomy and authoritativeness.

“But we are still uncomfortable with Berlusconi’s inability to decide, which has discredited Italy”.

Visco’s appointment needs to be approved by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, after he has received the opinion of the bank’s board, although this should be a formality given the reception the nomination has received.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Bosnia: Unchartered Land

Bosnia could easily become a major halaal tourist destination, tapping the huge potential of the growing Muslim consumer market, the country’s cultural heritage and strategic geographic location, according to Amir Sakic, the head of the regional halaal certification institution — the Agency for Halaal Quality Certification.The halaal hospitality industry caters to the needs of Muslim families who abide by Sharia rules. The most strict halaal hotels do not serve alcohol or pork; they have prayer facilities and separate swimming pools and spa facilities for men and women.

The mixture of different religions, customs and tradition combined with rich historic background and natural landscape makes Bosnia a hot tourist destination. To halaal tourists the country can be especially attractive with its cultural heritage of a territory that was once part of the Ottoman empire. “We definitely have a significant inflow of foreign tourists from the Islamic countries, though we should not forget that quite a big number of people who live according to halaal rules and observe the halaal practices live in the European Union,” Sakic said.

He said that more than 15 million Muslims live in the European Union, according to official data, and they are all potential clients of the halaal hospitality industry. “It is important that these services are not limited to Muslims exclusively,” he said, drawing a parallel with halaal food fans in Britain, two-thirds of whom are non-Muslims. If we have to make a profile of those who want such a service, these are not only people who come on vacation, but also people who come on business and for other reasons.”

Sakic said that there is no comprehensive official data about foreign tourist arrivals in Bosnia but it is a fact that a huge number of tourists from Turkey visit the Balkan country throughout the year and the number of tourists coming from Kuwait is on the rise. Halaal tourism is an emerging industry, which hopes to ride the wave of success of the Islamic food and banking industries. Progress, however, is slow. The agency Sakic heads was founded six years ago and since then has certified, or is in the process of certifying, all the leading food makers in Bosnia but has awarded only one licence to a local restaurant — the Terasa restaurant in Sarajevo — and none to a hotel yet. This situation will change shortly as the country’s first halaal hotel will soon be certified, he said, adding that the agency is reviewing several certification applications at the moment. “We already have hotels that are 90 per cent ready to provide such a service,” he said.

In June, the agency signed a partnership agreement with Singapore-based Crescentrating, the world leader in providing halaal-friendly rating for the travel services, on the promotion of halaal-friendly travel services and facilities in Southeast Europe. Halaal-friendly hotels are ranked on a one-to-seven grade scale according to the scope of halaal services they provide. A rating of one to three implies practically no adjustment to a regular hotel apart from the “soft change” that includes readiness to provide guests with specific information about halaal services and facilities in the hotel’s surrounding area. Grades four and five mean the hotel’s restaurant should serve halaal food. Hotels graded six and seven are known as “dry hotels” as they offer no alcohol.

Halaal hotels in Bosnia can start off with a very good grade, as one reason for this is the progress made in the certification of food companies which guarantees smooth supply of halaal food, Sakic said. The scope of the agency is not limited to Bosnia only. It is the only halaal certification oragnisation in SEE, issuing halaal certificates to catering facilities and hotels in Albania, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Slovenia, Serbia, Moldova, Romania, Hungary, Greece, Bulgaria and Macedonia. It provides halaal certification of the food industry, as well as other industrial branches, on the territory of Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia. It has so far issued certificates for more than 1500 food products to companies from the ex-Yugoslavia countries.

“Excluding Kosovo, where such a certification has not yet officially started, all other republics of former Yugoslavia already have certified food producers,” Sakic said.

Back to tourism, in June the agency together with Crescentrating organised a round table to promote halaal travel services, targeting hoteliers and tourism agencies from Bosnia, Slovenia and Montenegro. The event has yielded tangible results. “In the first week after the promotion we received a line of inquiries from tourism agencies from the Gulf countries, asking us to help them establish contact with our agencies so that they could co-operate in the sector.”

Inspired by the success, Sakic said more such promotions in other countries in the region will follow. The role of the local tourist agencies in promoting this service and including it in tourist packages and arrangements is extremely important, he said. Most applications for halaal hotel certificates come from Bosnia and Slovenia, Sakic said, adding that he expects to see interest rise after the end of the summer season. “Busy work on co-ordinating and preparing for awarding certificates to winter resort hotels is underway at the moment, and it is pretty certain that before the start of the winter season a definite number of hotels will be completely ready to provide halaal services to their clients.” In the summer resorts, the preparations for the launch of halaal services should be wrapped up during the autumn and the winter, he said.

Bosnia has only several kilometers of coastline but is rich in picturesque mountains that could be promoted as tourism destinations throughout the year. “The mountain resorts hide significant potential and can be interesting beyond the winter season with an adequate organisation of recreation and sport activities such as mountain trekking, paragliding and others,” Sakic said. Bosnian capital Sarajevo hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics and nine sports venues in the city and its surrounding mountains were used.

In Sakic’s view, Bosnia should promote the full range of its attractions as a traditional tourist destination to lure halaal tourists — its medieval heritage, as well as the numerous monuments from the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian period. Crescentrating said that the three highest-ranked places in its 2011 list of top 10 destinations for Muslim travellers worldwide were Malaysia, Turkey and Egypt. The share of Muslim travellers in the 2010 global tourism spending rose to nine per cent, or $90 billion, from six er cent in 2006, data from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation and Crescentrating showed. Crescentrating sees the share of Muslim travellers in global tourism spending moving up to between 12.5 per cent and 15 per cent in 2020, which translates to between $188 billion and $225 billion, based on the rising share of Muslims in the world’s population.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Libya: 20-Year-Old Did Not Shoot at Gaddafi But at His Son

(ANSAmed) — ROME, OCTOBER 21 — It was not the 20-year-old Mohammed Al Bibi to shoot Muammar Gaddafi, according to concordant sources contacted by ANSA in Tripoli and Misurata. “ It is said that the boy shot and killed the regime’s Defence Minister Abubakr Younes Jaber and Gaddafi’s son Mutassim,” said a Misurata source, quoting one of the generals in the convoy with whom the former leader had tried to go towards Jaraf, 30 kilometres from Sirte, injured in the shooting.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

New Libyan Leaders ‘Owe’ France: Defence Minister

France will seek a leading role in post-war Libya, Defence Minister Gerard Longuet said Friday, arguing that Libya’s new leaders “owe” Paris for leading the campaign to oust Moamer Kadhafi. Speaking in an interview to Le Monde on the day after Libya’s ousted strongman was captured and killed, Longuet said France is poised to take advantage of its leading role after a successful campaign.

France “will strive to play the role of a principal partner in the country where the leaders know they owe us a lot.” “Everyone will throw their hat into the ring. We will neither be the last nor the most blatant,” he said of Libya’s relations with various Western countries in the coalition. “Our involvement was not belated, mediocre or uncertain. And we have nothing to be ashamed of.”

Longuet said earlier that French planes had spotted Kadhafi’s convoy fleeing Sirte on Thursday, though clarifying that it was the NTC forces that ultimately destroyed the vehicles along with the former dictator. Libya, which produced 1.6 to 1.7 million barrels of oil daily before the conflict, is a coveted market for many countries that are also eyeing potentially massive contracts for rebuilding its infrastructure.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Peaceful Globalists Expedite Libyan Dictator’s Murder

by Steve Sailer

Still, compared to the 1958 coup that overthrew Iraq’s Hashemite Dynasty, the 2011 Libyan mob was almost decorous. Richard Grenier’s 1983 novel The Marrakesh One-Two recounts the way aggrieved Arabs behaved toward overthrown rulers 53 years ago:

“…the Iraqis had hitched Regent Abd al-Ilah to the back of a truck and dragged him through the streets of Baghdad, with people in the crowd screaming in delight and dashing up and cutting off pieces of Abd al-Ilah for souvenirs, first his sexual organs….Then Abd al-Ilah’s body without the arms and legs was hung from a balcony and the crowd went wild and stabbed it with pointed sticks, and people climbed up and whittled off slivers to celebrate.”

“Maybe he wasn’t popular,” said Omar.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sarkozy Urges Libyans to Pursue Democracy

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has called on the new Libyan regime to pursue democratic reforms, after the death of Muammar Qaddafi in a final assault on his hometown Sirte. Muammar Qaddafi was killed Thursday in a final assault on his hometown Sirte by fighters of the new regime, who said they had cornered the ousted despot in a sewage pipe waving a golden gun.

The demise of the hated dictator, who ruled his oil-rich North African nation with an iron rod for close on 42 years, sparked a spontaneous outpouring of joy and celebratory gunfire in streets across Libya. “We announce to the world that Qaddafi has died in the custody of the revolution,” National Transitional Council (NTC) spokesman Abdel Hafez Ghoga said in the eastern city of Benghazi. “It is an historic moment. It is the end of tyranny and dictatorship. Kadhafi has met his fate,” he added.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Elections: Ennahdha’s Threats Close Opposition Rank

(by Diego Minuti).

(ANSA) — TUNIS, OCTOBER 21 — The threat of “turning to the street” if it fails to win at Sunday’s election for Tunisia’s Constitutional Assembly — which remains a certain bet for the party leadership — is backfiring on the Ennahdha Party, giving them two negative results in one blow. It has provided the opposition front with a reason to close its ranks and this has in turn given rise to projected (or dreamed of) grand coalitions, which would effectively shut the religious party out of the seat of power. The statements made by the leader of Ennahdha, Rached Gannouchi, have ignited an electoral campaign whose temperature has been rising dangerously over the past few days with fresh episodes of intolerance being attributed to party activists.

A march in support of freedom of expression in Sfax yesterday, inspired by the same principles that had brought thousands of secular and reformist thinking citizens onto the streets of Tunis a few days ago, was ‘marred’ by episodes of intolerance executed by ‘bearded’ youths, who had initially joined the march expressing sympathy with the demonstration’s principles. These youths, however, adopted an increasingly confrontational and disrespectful attitude which verged on provocation. One of them infiltrated the ranks of the demonstrators shouting slogans laden with fundamentalist sentiment.

And so Ennahdha is following a path of its own, ignoring criticisms from its adversaries with the arrogance of one who feels that victory is already under their belt.

But this is an attitude that risks encouraging glaring tactical errors, such as what happened in the polling station set up in Qatar for Tunisians living in that part of the Gulf. Here the presiding officer had to be substituted by the commission overseeing the fairness of the election as he was blatantly campaigning on behalf of Ennahdha.

An important piece in the pattern of reactions to the arguments being put forward by Gannouchi and the other leading figures in the Ennahdha Party was provided by the Speaker of the Interim Council, Beji Caid Essebsi, in an address to the nation yesterday evening. It was a long speech in which he attributed the provisional executive with a series of successes and steps forward, but which also contained a gloves-off political passage in which it was stated in no uncertain terms that the elections were to be held according to the letter of the law and in a transparent way. This was a reply — without directly naming them — to the Ennahdha Party and its threats. It would appear, then, that the policy of flexing your muscles in both the ideological and physical sense, as adopted by Ennhadha, is reaping additional problems for the party. Even though the frenetic exertions of its activists is not being matched by those of the other parties, it would appear that such shows of strength are giving rise to more than the usual second thoughts, even in the wider electorate.

An electorate that remembers all too well how, even under a dictatorship that crushed individual freedoms as in a vice of fear, everyone was nonetheless free to dress as they liked, to listen to whatever music they pleased and women felt free to smoke in the street without fearing that they would attract the attentions of bearded, turbaned youths ready to restrain them physically from doing so.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Caroline Glick: Marketing Gilad Schalit

Gilad Schalit is home. And that is wonderful. The terrorists Israel released in exchange for the IDF soldier held hostage by Hamas for more than five years are running around Judea, Samaria and Gaza promising to return to terror. And that is a nightmare.

But so far, the Israeli public is happy with the outcome. Indeed, the polling data on the government’s decision to swap 1,027 terrorists for Schalit are stunning.

According to the New Wave poll carried out for Makor Rishon, for instance, 75.7 percent of the public supported the deal and only 15.5 percent opposed it. In a society as rife with internal divisions as Israel, it is hard to think of any issue that enjoys the support of three quarters of the population. But even more amazing than the level of support is that the poll also shows the vast majority of Israelis believe that the deal harms Israel’s national security…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

Israel’s Champion, But Poor Friend

With the resignation of Defence Secretary Liam Fox, Israel has lost its most powerful champion in government. Michael Gove may be the most vocal and eloquent Zionist in the Cabinet, but as Education Secretary he has no diplomatic or strategic role. Dr Fox has been personally humiliated by the Adam Werritty affair. But he has also caused considerable embarrassment to the financial backers of his Atlantic Bridge project, including Poju Zabludowicz, chairman of Israel advocacy organisation BICOM, , and its former vice-chairman, Michael Lewis.

The present government has worked hard to build up trust with Israel and the UK Jewish establishment. The change in the law on universal jurisdiction and the withdrawal from the antisemitic Durban III conference were seen as important gestures of support. The Conservative Friends of Israel lunch, at party conference in Manchester, was something of a love-in as a result. In recent days this trust has been seriously undermined as the government scrabbles to protect its reputation by blaming shadowy financiers and lobbyists for its predicament. This unseemly back-covering exercise is unworthy of a government which has attempted to represent itself as sympathetic to the Jewish business community.

David Cameron himself has often cited it as an example of the entrepreneurialism it wishes to encourage and presented its charitable giving as emblematic of the “big society” values it intends to promote. But while some senior Tories carried around the begging bowl for Werritty’s organisations, others were prepared to dump on donors when the going got tough. This is dishonourable behaviour, and it is no surprise the donors involved are furious at the way their funding has been represented.

I do not know if Liam Fox’s support for Israel was heartfelt or merely ideological. It certainly seems to have been yoked, via Adam Werritty and Atlantic Bridge, to a fierce hostility to Iran and an equally powerful alliance with the American neocon right. As it turns out, Liam Fox’s poor judgment has made the financial backers of his friend’s projects appear secretive and sinister.

Dr Fox may have been a champion of Israel but he has been a poor friend.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: FOSIS [Federation of Student Islamic Societies] Civil Service Recruitment Event Cancelled

This looks like a pretty stunning failing by the hopeless civil service. Conservative Home reports:

Civil Service Fast Stream was due to hold a skills workship next Tuesday in association with FOSIS for people interested in applying. Of the 26 people who said earlier this week that they were interested in attending, eight had Facebook avatars supporting Babar Ahmad, an alleged Al Qaeda operative who Ministers want to extradite to the United States. The Cabinet Office have overall responsibility for the civil service and was thus responsible for the event. I hear that Theresa May was furious when she found out about it, and that soon after she heard the news it was cancelled forthwith. But it isn’t necessary to believe that Ahmad should be extradited — the case is controversial — to ask: what on earth was going on? How can one part of government be seeking to recruit from a body about which another part has grave concerns?

Here’s the advert: [image]

Hardly “joined up government”.

The Government is correct in its assessment of FOSIS. If anything, it is too generous to it. Over the last three years speakers at its events have included the following:

  • Daud Abdullah, the Istanbul declaration signatory and head of hate publisher Middle East Monitor.
  • Hamas enthusiast Haitham Al-Haddad. The Gaza war made him happy because “it clearly encouraged Muslims to prepare themselves for jihad, all over the world”.
  • Canadian Islamist Muhammad Alshareef, who has said Jews should be hated and shunned. As for gays, Muslims should be “proud” to be called homophobic and need to harass gay rights demonstrators.
  • Australian preacher Shady Alsuleiman, a fan of Al Qaeda preacher and recruiter Anwar Al-Awlaki. Alsuleiman calls jihad “the peak of Islam”.
  • Moazzam Begg, the Taliban fan who heads the terrorist support group Cageprisoners.
  • Abdur Raheem Green, the head of iERA. It is an organisation which specialises in staging extremist conferences, such as this one at the Ibis hotel in southwest London which led to a furore earlier this year. Three of iERA’s foreign advisors have been banned from the UK.
  • Uthman Lateef, a gay hating and “don’t help the police” extremist. He appeared at events featuring Anwar Al-Awlaki into 2009, when it was very clear that Awlaki was a leading Al Qaeda operative.
  • Creepy Stephen Sizer, the church friend of extremists, including the racists and Hamas supporters of Viva Palestina Malaysia.
  • Azzam “Kaboom” Tamimi, the supporter of suicide bombings.
  • Notorious preacher Riyadh ul-Haq, who hates the West and Jews and supports the Taliban.

One of FOSIS’s latest moves was to stand up for the hate preacher Raed Salah. Whose testimony did it call on in defence of Salah? Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas.

As for Babar Ahmad, this is what the US has accused him of (there’s more here):

It is alleged that Ahmad and Ahsan, through an entity known as “Azzam Publications,” were members of a group that provided material support to the Taliban and the Chechen Mujahideen through various means, including the administration and operation of various web sites promoting violent jihad. The Azzam Publications websites, including, e.g., and, were hosted for a period of time through the services of a web-hosting company located in Connecticut. The indictment alleges that the defendants, using both cyberspace and real-world efforts, assisted the Taliban and the Chechen Mujahideen through money laundering, as well as by providing funds, military equipment, communication equipment, lodging, training, expert advice and assistance, facilities, personnel, transportation and other supplies, with the knowledge and intent that such conduct would support the military activities of these and associated groups. The indictment also alleges that, during a search of Ahmad’s residence in the United Kingdom in December 2003, Ahmad was found in the possession of an electronic document containing what were previously classified plans regarding the makeup, advance movements and mission of a United States Naval battle group as it was transiting from California to its deployment in the Middle East. The document discussed the battle group’s perceived vulnerability to terrorist attack.


[JP note: The Government is too busy hounding the English Defence League to worry about Islamic extremists and their fellow travellers arranging paper-clips in Whitehall.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Emirates: Petrol Crisis: Stations in North Closed for Months

(ANSA) — DUBAI, OCTOBER 20 — The United Arab Emirates is the third largest exporter from OPEC countries and manages the world’s sixth largest oil reserves. Yet the oil distribution system in the country is in crisis, with signs that have proved impossible to ignore dating back to the summer.

Most petrol pumps in the emirate of Sharjah and other emirates in the north are closed “for technical repairs and improvement to the distribution network”. Despite this, the Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC) in Dubai recently announced that supplying fuel at prices fixed by the government would lead to losses of over 500 million euros in 2011, providing an alternative interpretation of the deserted petrol pumps, which are cordoned off by red and white tape and guarded by one or two officials.

“The current scenario, which demands that ENOC take upon itself the burden of a rise in the global price of oil and that the same time distribute fuel at prices fixed by the federal government, is clearly not sustainable,” says the oil company owned by the Dubai government in a statement.

The UAE’s four distribution agencies, ENOC, ADNOC, EMARAT and EPPCO, sell petrol at 1.61 dirhams per litre (around 30 cents) but, they say, the cost of oil rose by 28% in 2010.

“Crude reached 126 dollars per barrel in April, at the height of military operations in Libya,” says Said Khury, the executive director of ENOC, again highlighting the unsustainability of the situation.

According to the latest estimates, Emirati oil companies lost an average of 3.2 million euros a day during the summer, by not exceeding the ceiling of sales fixed by the government.

The authorities have already intervened to limit the damage. The future Sheikh of Abu Dhabi has ordered the ADNOC, the oil company in the emirate, to alleviate the crisis in Sharjah by keeping a handful of petrol stations open. The federal government, meanwhile, has financially supported EMARAT, with a subsidy of around 1.8 billion euros.

These interventions are the answer to financial deficit but not to a potential review of underlying policies, say sector analysts, who see an internal rise in the sale price of oil as the only way out of the current crisis.

ENOC, meanwhile, whose core business of internal distribution of traditional fuel has been affected, is exploring new ways of making profit to balance losses, launching a fast food chain and a new green fuel.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Jordan: Discovered Two of World’s Oldest Churches

(ANSAmed) — ROME, OCTOBER 19 — Two of the most ancient churches of Christianity were discovered yesterday in the Hayyan al-Mushrif area of the city of al-Mafraq, 75 kilometres north-east of the Jordanian capital of Amman.

According to a report by Mena (middle East News Agency), the two churches date back to the second century and are thus considered to be two of the most ancient churches in the world.

The first church covers an area of 288 square metres and has a Syrian-Nabatean architectural style. According to Abdelkader al-Hisan, the Archaeological Director for the city of al-Mafraq, the area’s surface is covered in mosaics and the church was built underground, as is confirmed by the secret passage linking its main door to the main road.

As Director Al-Hisan points out, the discovery confirms the existence of Christianity in the Hayyan al-Mushraf area from the first century, and provides irrefutable proof that the Hayyan al-Mashraif area is home to one of the oldest churches in the world. The second church was built on an area covering 476 square metres and dates back to the sixth century. It contains images, sacred writings and geometrical forms of the Romano- Nabatean period.

Some of the writings, al-Hisan concludes, show that the church was inaugurated during the period of the Patriarch Iulokas, and that the name of the “rector of the church” was Ubaida.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Kuwait: Islamic Sharia, Source of Strength to Protect Human Rights — Kuwait Envoy

VIENNA, Oct 20 (KUNA) — Kuwait Permanent Delegate to the UN Office in Geneva Ambassador Dhrar Abdulrazzaq Rzouqi asserted Thursday his country’s keenness to abide by Islamic Sharia (law) and international conventions in forming its constitution. “The Sharia and the international conventions became basic sources of strength in the protection of human rights,” the diplomat said while presenting Kuwait’s statement on International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). “Kuwaiti legislature was keen to ensure the independence of the judiciary system to ensure its integrity and freedom during the verdict independently without influence from any party whatsoever,” Rzouqi said.

The Kuwaiti diplomat added that the Kuwaiti constitution provided articles to the International Covenant on civil and political rights, and it seems clear in most of its articles,” citing Article 29 which provides the principle of equal rights and duties without discrimination and Article 166 which guarantees the right of litigation as well as issues related to political participation in all aspects of life in Kuwait’s activity and laws that guarantees civil and political rights. (end) ta.mb KUNA 202018 Oct 11NNNN

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: 3 Million Expats to be Sent Out Gradually

JEDDAH: Nearly three million expatriate workers will have to leave the Kingdom in the next few years as the Labor Ministry has put a 20 percent ceiling on the country’s guest workers.

The ceiling has been set to help find jobs for Saudis and protect the country’s demographic structure.

“The maximum number of long-term expatriate workers in the Kingdom should not exceed 20 percent of the Saudi population,” Al-Eqtisadiah business daily reported Thursday, quoting the Labor Ministry.

The ministry said the long-term plan to cut the number of expatriate workers was aimed at protecting the Kingdom’s demographic structure. Currently, the number of expatriates (8.42 million) accounts for 31 percent of the Saudi population of 18.7 million.

“According to the new plan, about 2.9 million expatriate workers would have to leave the Kingdom,” the paper said. The ministry’s statement came after a meeting of GCC labor ministers decided to step up their campaign to replace expatriates with qualified GCC nationals.

Labor Minister Adel Fakeih, who led the Kingdom’s delegation to the GCC meeting in Abu Dhabi, has been spearheading a Saudization campaign through the Nitaqat system — instrumental in creating more jobs for Saudis in the private sector.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The Black Stone and Its Importance

When we do the tawaf around the Kaaba, during the pilgrimage or the Umrah, or even as a sunnah, we always start and finish at the eastern corner of the Kaaba where the Black Stone is placed. It is recommended to kiss the Black Stone or touch it at the beginning and as we start every round, but if the place is too crowded, it is enough to just signal with one’s hand, observing what is recommended to do and say during tawaf. It is important, therefore, to know what significance, if any, the Black Stone has.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Putin Welcomes Greek ‘Fertility-Boosting’ Relic to Russia

Vladimir Putin on Thursday welcomed to Russia a highly revered Orthodox relic credited with fertility-boosting powers as his country struggles to halt a population decline. The relic venerated by believers as the belt of the Virgin Mary arrived on loan from violence-hit Greece in the northwestern city of Saint Petersburg where hundreds, mostly women, waited patiently to pay their respects. Prime Minister Putin, who plans to reclaim the presidency next year and has never in his decade in power missed a chance to promote himself as a virile alpha male, travelled to the city’s airport to meet the relic. “Monks from the Vatopedi monastery accompanying the (relic) showed Vladimir Putin the reliquary containing the belt,” the Russian government said in a statement.

Arriving in Russia for the first time from its home on Mount Athos in Greece, the relic, whose full name is the Belt of the Mother of God, will remain in Russia’s former imperial capital until Monday. Hundreds of people, mostly women, were standing in line in Russia’s second city, also Putin’s hometown, to see one of the most treasured Orthodox relics, which is believed to have miraculous powers to boost fertility. It will then be taken on a month-long tour across the country, with stops including the northern city of Norilsk, the Pacific port of Vladivostok, the western exclave city of Kaliningrad and Moscow.

Clerics said they hoped the relic would help more Russian women become mothers as the influential Russian Orthodox Church is actively promoting motherhood to help the government curtail a population decline.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Russian Spy Suspect ‘Joked About Shutting Down NATO’ By Distracting Her Lover

A Russian parliamentary researcher accused of spying on Britain joked that she had been able to “disable half of Nato” by luring an official with her charms, a tribunal heard.

Ekaterina Zatuliveter told the man, with whom she had an affair, that she would have to break off from distracting him any further to take a call from the Kremlin congratulating her on her work. Miss Zatuliveter, 26, has admitted having sexual relationships with a string of men with powerful connections including a four-year affair with the Liberal Democrat MP Mike Hancock and a man she described as a “dishy Dutch diplomat”. She is fighting deportation to Russia amid allegations, which she denies, that she used her connections with the men as a “honeytrap” spy for Russia.

A senior MI5 official also told an immigration tribunal yesterday that Russia regularly uses sexual techniques to gather intelligence on the west. He told the hearing in central London that the threat from Russian espionage in Britain was now as great as it was in the days of the Soviet Union.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Indonesia: Aceh Political Candidate Refuses Technical Koran Reading Test

Banda Aceh. A candidate running for the head of Singkil District in Aceh has refused to take the compulsory Koranic reading test in protest of what he said were unfair standards.

Ali Hasim said on Thursday that he was capable of reading the Koran but had refused the test because the standards set by the Aceh Election Commission (KIP) were not realistically achievable by the average person. The standards set “are very technical, like the ones at Musabaqah Tilawatil Quran,” Ali said, referring to a national Koranic recital competition.

Aceh, which adopts bylaws inspired by Shariah law, is the only province where a mastery of reading the Koran is a requirement for public office candidates. The KIP requires candidates to meet requirements for accuracy, fluency and ethics in reading the Koran. Seven candidates, including Ali, are eying the post. On Wednesday, all the other candidates — including Ali’s running mate — took the test. Ali came to the location but refrained from taking it. “The bylaws only stipulate an ability to read [the Koran],” Ali said. “[The KIP’s] requirements are in place only to embarrass the candidates unable to read the Koran like the experts.” He argued that the rules were arbitrary and had no bearing on a candidates’ ability to serve.

“What guarantees that the candidates declared capable of reading the Koran will properly implement Islamic principles?” he said. “Will they not practice dirty politics? What guarantee is there, if one passes the test, that they won’t engage in corruption?” Ali said that he had taken similar tests in 2009 when he was appointed a member of the Aceh legislature.

“But to be evaluated according to the criteria set by the KIP, I can’t. Even an MTQ participant needs years of practice before competing,” he said.

Ali said he would challenge the KIP criteria through the Election Supervisory Body (KPU) and the State Administrative Court. Akmal Abzal, a member of the KIP, said the standards set by the test were aligned with the Aceh bylaw on elections. “The ability to read the Koran is a must for all candidates,” he said. “If anyone refuses to take the test, then that candidate will be disqualified.” Ali said he was willing to risk disqualification. “Maybe it is not my destiny to become a candidate, but I will launch a legal action because I don’t think the KIP decision is aligned with higher regulations,” he said.

The election is scheduled for Dec. 24, when Acehnese will cast votes for the governor, district head and mayor positions.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Indonesia: Haj, ‘Islam Politiek’ And National Awakening

If there were a question, “What was the most fear-provoking ritual for the Dutch colonialists in Indonesia from the 17th until the first half of the 20th centuries?” the answer would be the haj, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca during the month of Dhu ‘lhijja, the 12th month in the Islamic lunar calendar. It was in 1889 that this fear began to decrease, after the availability of more scientific advice proposed by Snouck Hurgronje (1857-1936), a pundit working for the colonial government for “mainly” Islamic affairs. Based on his advice, the Dutch government applied what was called Islam Politiek, a policy to abolish any inspiration of political Islam in colonized Indonesia.

According to Hurgronje, first and foremost, the government should position itself as neutral in relation to any dogma or private rules that were purely religious. It was even suggested that the government could pretend to act as the supporters of Muslim religious activities. With the progress of secularization — manifested clearly in the regulation of rituals and education programs for religious leaders and local aristocrats — and the government-supported Christianization, he believed that the locals would automatically adjust their way of life, i.e. to that practiced by the Europeans. After the colonial government successfully adopted the policies, in Hurgronje’s view, Indonesian Muslims would associate themselves with Dutch culture (Harry J. Benda, 1958) and therefore they would accept the idea of “a Greater Netherlands”; Indonesia as part of a commonwealth, not as an independent state. It was also recommended that Islamic family systems, including polygamy and inheritance law be officially respected. The practice of local administrators, religious leaders and aristocrats having more than one wife should be permitted.

The theory was that these practices would change once the natives began to think and act less religiously yet more rationally (or secularly). It was endorsed by the politically engineered introduction of Dutch continental civil law. However, Hurgronje did advise that the government should totally resist any form of Pan-Islamism, the reformist movement opposed to imperialism and colonialism which was widely spreading in Egypt and other countries in the Middle East. That specter had to be eradicated by all means and at any cost.

Hence the colonialists’ fear over the haj pilgrimage. Since any attempt to prevent the ritual would increase the demand for it, perhaps with fearsome consequences, they accordingly decided to regularize it. They systematically legitimized the ritual, pretending that the authorities were relaxed about it and they even helped with arrangements.

In actual fact, the Dutch were trying to ensure that the ritual was only for the sake of heavenly reward, a purely religious affair. There should be no “political” encounters among the pilgrims themselves or with the muqimin, Indonesian Muslims who had settled in Mecca and who were believed to have become adherents of Pan-Islamism. Within the colonial administrative scheme, the haj pilgrims (hajis) had to abide by many new procedures most of which were political. Their backgrounds were carefully investigated. Their journey, there and back, between Indonesia and Mecca, including transit through Singapore and Ceylon, was scrutinized. These measures were engineered in such a way as to reduce demand without actually having to violate Muslims’ reverence for their rituals.

Despite all these endeavors, it seemed to be impossible to totally isolate the pilgrims from radical ideology. The short “politically nuanced” encounters between the hajis and muqimin in Mecca inevitably took place since the latter were the haj guides. Even the cooperation between the Dutch government and King Ibn Saud, who before the oil boom had relied heavily on haj income, to hamper Pan-Islamism was partly unsuccessful. (Later, with the availability of petrodollars, Saudi Arabia was among the first countries to recognize Indonesia’s independence and ended its cooperation with the Dutch.)

Meanwhile, with their enhanced status in Muslim communities the hajis were regarded as being religiously credible and having a position in the higher levels of society. The hajis therefore had a degree of authority in setting up social movements. With further significant encounters with their Pan-Islamist counterparts in places such as Egypt and access to western secular thought both in Indonesia and overseas, many hajis became leaders of the Indonesian national awakening. They then fought with both Islamic and national spirit using the modern means provided by their knowledge, ability to communicate and relationships they had formed.

Nowadays, with all of the ease in performing the haj, we can ask the question, “Does the haj pilgrimage still have the significant social function it had historically?” Can the hajis, after all of their sacrifices, play a pivotal role in changing their societies? If not, hasn’t the ritual become secularized (precisely what Hurgronje planned)? Isn’t the monopoly of the Religious Affairs Ministry in managing the haj for Indonesian Muslims a continuation of the method used by the Dutch government, but now for a different, economic, purpose? Beyond all these questions, in commemorating Indonesia’s second day of national awakening, the Youth Pledge, Oct. 28, we can at least remind ourselves that the ritual has always played a momentous part in our history as a nation. We can still hope, however impossible it might be, that it can affect the next chapter of the book.

The writer is a researcher at the Center for the Studies of Religions and Peace (PUSAD), Paramadina Foundation, Jakarta, and a member of Forum for Democratic Islam, Ciputat.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law Remains a Contentious Affair

Rights organizations around the world are demanding that Pakistan repeal its controversial law. Many people have been falsely accused and persecuted for insulting Prophet Mohammed.

In 2010, Asia Bibi, an impoverished farm hand, was sentenced to death after her neighbors accused her of making insulting remarks about the Prophet Muhammad. She is still in prison. Meanwhile her lawyer has appealed to Pakistan’s President, Asif Ali Zardari, that she be pardoned. Some months after Asia Bibi’s conviction, the governor of Punjab Province, Salman Taseer, was murdered by his bodyguard. The man ostensibly guarding him disagreed with Taseer’s vocal opposition to Pakistan’s strict blasphemy law. Soon afterwards, in March 2011, Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s minister for minority affairs was assassinated by a religious fanatic for the very same reason.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Taliban Leader Fazlullah Vows New War in Pakistan

PESHAWAR(SANA) Afghanistan-based Taliban leader Maulvi Fazlullah, a leading figure in the insurgency, has vowed to return to Pakistan to wage war as the country came under renewed American pressure to tackle militancy. “We sacrificed our lives, left our homes and villages for the sake of Sharia (Islamic Law) and will do whatever we can to get Sharia implemented in the Malakand region and rest of Pakistan,” Sirajuddin Ahmad, a close adviser, told Reuters, describing Fazlullah’s position.

He was answering written questions submitted by Reuters. The Taliban threat was issued as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and top US military and intelligence leaders delivered a tough warning to Pakistan to crack down hard on militant groups, an issue heavily straining ties between the uneasy allies. Fazlullah was the Pakistani Taliban leader in Swat Valley, about 100 miles (160 km) northwest of Islamabad, before a 2009 army offensive forced him to flee. Also known as FM Mullah for his fiery radio broadcasts, he regrouped in Afghanistan and established strongholds, and poses a threat to Pakistan once again, said army spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas.

The Pakistani Taliban, which is separate from but aligned to the Afghan Taliban fighting foreign forces in Afghanistan, has declared war on the Pakistani state for providing support to the US-led war on militants in the region. Pakistan recently complained that Afghan and US-led forces had failed to hunt down Fazlullah who was responsible for a spate of cross-border raids. On the other hand, Afghanistan and the United States have accused elements in the Pakistan government of supporting members of the Afghan Taliban. The attacks in which militants loyal to Fazlullah took part killed about 100 members of Pakistan’s security forces, angering the army which faces threats from multiple militant groups.

Fazlullah, a leading figure in the Pakistani Taliban insurgency, is based in Kunar and Nuristan provinces in Afghanistan, said Abbas. Other leaders of the Pakistani Taliban, an umbrella of about 12 groups, and the government have suggested they are open to peace talks to end a conflict that has killed thousands of people. But Fazlullah seemed sceptical about the government’s intentions. “Pakistani rulers always approach us through some people whenever their relations with the United States become unfriendly and make appeals to us to help them in restoration of peace in the country,” said his adviser. “But they forget their promises and become more harsh and cruel when their relations are restored with the United States. We know these tricks of the Pakistani rulers and do not trust in their promises.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


‘Belgium Heading for a Humanitarian Catastrophe’

19/10/11 — Activists staged a protest in support of more places for asylum seekers in Brussels on Wednesday morning. Tents were erected in the Park outside the federal Parliament.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Belgium Will Not Accept Albanian Asylum Requests

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, OCTOBER 20 — Albanian asylum seekers in Belgium, whose number has risen significantly in the last few months, “will soon be repatriated to their country”. This is the message being sent out by the Belgian government, which yesterday held a press conference in Tirana to announce the news.

“All Albanian asylum seekers will receive a negative answer from the Belgian authorities and will be sent back to Albania as soon as possible,” said Freddy Roosemont, the director of Belgium’s office for foreigners. Belgian authorities say that at least 240 Albanians have demanded political asylum in Belgium since the beginning of October, with estimates suggesting that the number could rise to 400 by the end of the month. There are fears that an organisation will now be set up to supply Albanian “clients” with false documents saying that the holders’ lives are at risk back home as they are the victims of a local code of honour in which revenge is consumed by death. Figures reported by the Belgian press suggest that at least 80% of Albanian asylum seekers are from the districts of Shkoder and Kukes in the north of the country, with only 20% from Tirana. Citizens of Serbia, Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Montenegro and Macedonia saw visas for countries in the Schengen area liberalised between 2009 and 2010. On September 20, the EU Commissioner for Internal Affairs, Cecilia Malmstrom, sent a letter to the Interior Ministers in the countries concerned, asking for practical measures to be taken to tackle the phenomenon of groundless asylum demands from its citizens in EU member states, in particular Germany, Belgium, Sweden and Luxembourg.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Buchanan: ‘Cultural Marxism’ Has Succeeded Where Marx and Lenin Failed

By Grant M. Dahl

Former presidential candidate Patrick J. Buchanan, in an interview about his new book, “Suicide of a Superpower,” told Sean Hannity that he felt the cultural form of Marxism is succeeding where Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin’s form failed.

“It has succeeded in effecting a transvaluation of all values in society, and so now a lot of the ideas of cultural Marxism, they’re now much more receptive because we no longer have that particular heat shield of Christian belief, etcetera, which says ‘Hey that is nonsense!’ — and so this is the ultimate victory, I think, of the Left is the capture of the culture in the West,” said Buchanan.

Buchanan also commented that the idea of bringing the world over to Marxism through cultural means had been put forward by Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci in the early 1900s when he visited the Soviet Union.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Fear Spreads as Society of Spoilt Brats Runs Riot

THE riots in England in August stimulated widespread interpretation. This is understandable, given the fear they symbolised a deep malaise in that country, and even throughout the West.

The sociological tradition warns that the modernising process causes atomisation, weakening community ties and leaving individuals poorly integrated into society, and with little attachment to higher ideals. On a second front, it warns that Western modernity has disenchanted the world, reducing individuals to an egocentric and half-hearted pursuit of consumerism.

The pessimistic implication in the sociological reading of modernity is there may be a tipping point, resulting in social breakdown, so the English riots may be a harbinger of disintegration.

I don’t share this pessimistic reading, at least as far as the West is concerned. While there is great interpretive force to both lines of sociological interpretation, at their extreme they underestimate the antibodies at work in the social organism as a whole.

I offer two comments on the English riots. First, riots as spontaneous and widespread as these signal problems of social legitimacy. A central task for every culture is to bring up new generations that identify with the society into which they have been born, feeling at home in it and sharing its habits, customs and ideals. This is education in the grand sense.

The two institutions mainly responsible for education are the family and the school. Many commentators asked where the parents were as teenagers looted and vandalised shops. Looting, vandalism and arson are not a petty testing of the social limits.

The major social role most senior government schools in the West play today is the teaching of self-discipline. Schools socialise teenagers, turning potential hotbeds of vagrant, uncontrolled instinct into calm and law-abiding adults. This requires a slow, painstaking and usually thankless slog from teachers. For them, it is a struggle for survival. For society, it is a struggle for the future.

High school teachers discover that out-of-control 15-year-olds, waging tantrum wars against the classroom authority, need rules and enforced discipline, including punishment, to settle them down and maintain order. Tolerance and compassion are not options: they merely show the student the teacher is weak and the school does not care.

Thousands of Australian teachers spend time teaching in English schools. For a couple of decades, I have heard reports of them being shocked at the brazen incivility, the shameless rudeness of English teenagers, and not just in tough city areas. The shock is that many of the 14 to 18-year-olds are sociopathic, that is coldly uncaring about other people, especially those in authority such as teachers.

This is a question of degree, like the riots themselves. If there had been a single riot this year, then as time passed it might have been discounted as an aberration, like the 2005 Cronulla riots.

The fact that in England a plague of copycat looting and vandalism followed in cities across the country changes the narrative and with it the plausible lines of interpretation.

If there is truth to what the Australian teachers report, the implication is that in many English suburbs and towns today, society — which essentially means families and schools — has given up.

My second observation about the English riots is that they reflect a more widespread mentality that has developed in Britain and parts of Europe. It might be termed the “spoilt brat mentality”.

Greece is the cautionary tale…

           — Hat tip: Anne-Kit[Return to headlines]

UK: Black Schoolboys Underachieving Because ‘Academic Success is Seen as Gay’

Black schoolboys are underachieving in exams due to a cultural misconception that academic success is a sign of homosexuality, teaching leaders claim.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Libraries of the Future: Abandoning the Stacks for a Multimedia Wonderland

Many predicted that the rise of the digital book would signal the demise of the library. But the opposite has been the case. The world’s top architects have designed a number of modern libraries in recent years — though the focus is no longer on the books.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The Closing of the Muslim Mind: How Intellectual Suicide Created the Modern Islamist Crisis

by Robert R. Reilly

Reviewed by Raymond Ibrahim

Reilly cites a Pakistani physicist-not an uneducated, impoverished “radical”-saying it is “not Islamic” to believe that combining hydrogen and water makes water; rather, Muslims are “supposed to say that when you bring hydrogen and oxygen together then by the will of Allah [which need not always be consistent] water was created.”

The Closing of the Muslim Mind explains the singularity of Muslim epistemology and its antithesis to Western sensibilities: not only does it explain why a maid was arrested and charged with sorcery, or why bewitched animals are dreaded; it also explains why adult “breastfeeding” and habitual lying pose no moral problems; explains why top Muslim clerics insist the world is flat and ingesting the feces and urine of Muhammad is salutary; explains why jihadists believe their terror is pious and a libidinous paradise awaits them.

All these “alternate” ways of thinking make sense when one accepts that, in the purely Muslim mind, intuitive reasoning, the human conscience, and even common sense take a backseat to the literal words of Allah and his prophet, seen as the founts of all truth and reality-or, inevitably from a non-Muslim perspective, the words of a deluded or deceiving 7th century Arab.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]