Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20111022

Financial Crisis
»A European Spring Has Sprung But It’s Not What You Think
»Greece: Tourism and Exports Still Growing
»ACLU: FBI Guilty of ‘Industrial Scale’ Racial Profiling
»Burlesque Star Dita Von Teese Wins Antisemitism Case
»Church Notes
»DOJ Finds a Cause
»Domestic Misfits and Foreign Terrorists
»Holder Invites Terror Co-Conspirator to Conference
»Ingrid Mattson: A Case Study in Stealth Jihad
»Members of L.A.’s Muslim Community Engage in a ‘Muslim Forum’ With the LAPD
»More Obama Jobs Idiocy: Funding Electric Cars Built in Finland!
»Radical and Mainstream Islam Topic of Conversation at Campus Lecture
»The AFL-CIO’s Revolutionary Activist
»What Does the U.N. Cost Taxpayers, And Why?
»A Question of Loyalty — Ayaan Hirsi Ali Interview
»Construction Begins on Muslim Mosque for Prince Edward Island
»Councillors React to Mosque Move to Lower Minaret
»Manning Foundation for Democratic Education — Media Advisory [Ayaan Hirsi Ali Event in Calgary, 25 Oct 2011]
»Taking a Closer Look at Islamic Studies
Europe and the EU
»Croatia: Pair of Priests Arrested on Suspicion of Acquiring Child Porn
»Germany: Linke Party Asks Legalization of Hard Drugs
»Italy: Enac Probe: D’Alema Investigated for Illecit Financing
»Italy: Stashes of Gas Masks and Clubs Prepared Days Before Rome Riots
»Italy: Catricala’: No Abolition of Professional Assoc., New Norms
»Norwegian Police Still Want to Interview Alan Lake
»Spain: Ghost Airport Invites Tenders to ‘Clear’ Its Runways
»UK: Jewish Chronicle Crticises Malcolm Grant for Comments on ‘Campus Extremism’
»UK: London’s New Churches: Dynamic, Superstitious and Obsessed With Money
»UK: President of the UCL — To Ask University Professors to Look Out for Extremists is Stupid
»UK: Voters Have Been Cheated Over the European Union for Too Long. Let Them Decide
North Africa
»Algeria: Chinese Company Gets Algiers Grand Mosque Contract
»Obama Emphasizes U. S. Role in Libya
»Tunisia: Friday Prayer Urges Vote
Middle East
»Iran: Senior Shia Cleric: Islamic Economy, Key to Winning Westerner’s Hearts
»Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud Dies
»Terrasanta Puts “The Other History” On Web
»UAE: Jail Inmate in Dubai Converts to Islam
»Former Soviet Countries United by a New Free Trade Agreement
South Asia
»Indonesia: We’re Not Safe Living Anywhere: Ahmadis
»France: Arrivals From Tunisia Dry Up
»Does the West Hate Islam?

Financial Crisis

A European Spring Has Sprung But It’s Not What You Think

The real European Spring is the dawning realization of ordinary middle class people that the systems they were promised by politicians to be fail safe — like social security and free health care—are no longer so. Look to Greece — that is where we are headed, and if good people don’t wake up and get it, the communists will be selling fixes that people hooked on social programs are going to buy.

The anti-capitalism crowd are the usual suspects—university indoctrinated ideologues that are zombified versions of their professors and roaming anarchists up for any anti-establishment fight. If they understood the difference between capitalism and corporatism they might be more inclined to join Tea Party type movements and sack the opportunistic and morally corrupt politicians we have currently running Western countries.

Arguably the one legitimate point the Occupy Crowd have, is that bankers and corporations are in league with government to control the economy and consequentially individual freedom. But this is corporatism, not capitalism. True capitalism relies on a free and open market, one where a bank that overleverages on bad investment decisions, will fail. Failing is an essential part of weeding out the bad apples. It is also a moral obligation, and without that premise, capitalism will fail every time. When institutions are not allowed to fail, and the taxpayer is asked to pay for other people’s mistakes, you no longer have capitalism. In a corporatist system, the grateful banks prop up the politicians, who in turn do their bidding with tax loopholes and regulations that create more moral hazard. Before you know it you’ve got a system just like Mussolini’s interwar Italy. And we all know how well that went. Italy is still suffering the effects of the corruption and black market which embedded itself into society at that time.


But the really nasty sting for Europe is the social security systems that were set up in the interwar years and which promised a safety net in old age to anyone who worked. In post war Europe industry grew and prospered due largely to the Marshall Plan and a baby boom generation that paid taxes. This tax income allowed the politicians to pay for more social programs to earn votes and remain in power. To counteract an aging population that had not reproduced itself, the immigration doors were left wide open to stop the system bankrupting itself, and with immigration came the added benefit of bought votes for leftist parties that promised benefits. However, many European countries are finding much of their immigrant populations are parasites helping to bankrupt the system, and uncontrolled immigration has created social tensions right across Western Europe.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Greece: Tourism and Exports Still Growing

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, OCTOBER 21 — Tourism and exports are the only sectors of the Greek economy that are managing to deliver any positive news during the general crisis in the country this year, as daily Kathimerini reports today. Bank of Greece data for the first eight months of 2011 showed on Thursday that tourism revenues increased by 10%, or 700 million euros, from the same period last year, amounting to 7.7 billion euros.

Foreign tourist arrivals grew by 9.9% year-on-year, according to BoG data. In August alone, revenues increased by 6.5% and arrivals by 6.2%. The total deficit of the trade balance went down by 1.05 billion euros in the first eight months of the year, as revenues from exports of goods (not including fuel and ships) increased by 17.4% and payment for imports declined by 6.1%. Direct investment showed a net outflow of 1.4 billion euros in the year to August, against 269 million euros in the same period in 2010. Spending by Greek tourists abroad increased by 6.8%, reaching 2.4 billion euros.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


ACLU: FBI Guilty of ‘Industrial Scale’ Racial Profiling

The ACLU says the FBI is guilty of racial profiling when investigating criminal threats. The FBI says it is taking into account the reality of the post-9/11 world. The American Civil Liberties Union is accusing the Federal Bureau of Investigation of using racial, ethnic, and religious profiling in its attempts to fight crime and domestic terrorism within the US. In a letter to US Attorney General Eric Holder Thursday, the ACLU pointed to “growing evidence … that the FBI is illegally and unconstitutionally targeting innocent Americans for investigation based upon their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, and political activities protected under the First Amendment.”

The FBI disputes the claims.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Burlesque Star Dita Von Teese Wins Antisemitism Case

A non-Jewish burlesque artist who sued her landlord for making antisemitic comments has won her case. Gossip website TMZ said Dita Von Teese had won a £3,200 payout in Los Angeles. The amount was the security deposit she paid Lallubhai Patel in the first place, which he refused to return when she left the property. According to the court documents Mr Patel taunted her and “went on Mel Gibson-like antisemitic tangents, personally attacking [Ms Von Teese’s] Jewish managers.” The dancer, whose most famous routine involves her stripping in a giant cocktail glass, said the landlord also warned her to “beware of Jews”. Despite counter-suing for damage to the property he continued to ignore court orders, handing Ms Von Teese a victory.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Church Notes

Islams, Muslims in America topic of program tomorrow

The Amesbury Friends Peace Center will hold a program, “An Introduction to Islam,” at 2 p.m. tomorrow at the Amesbury Friends Meetinghouse at 120 Friend St. The session will feature talks by Idris Djermoun who has served multiple terms as president and principal/director of Arabic and Religious Studies at the Islamic Center of Boston and Souraya Shehod who is an active member of the Selimiye Mosque in Methuen and a specialist on women and Islam. Shehod is a longtime resident of Amesbury. There will be ample time for questions from the audience. All are welcome and admission is free. The speakers will discuss the role of prayer in the daily life of Muslims, the basic tenets of the religion, why women wear head scarves and other issues of female equity, the attitude in the Quran toward Jesus and the “People of the Book,” and some historical background about Muhammad and the origins of Islam. Visit for more information.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

DOJ Finds a Cause

by Dorothy Rabinowitz

The DOJ intervenes on behalf of a Muslim school teacher who claimed that the board of her Illinois school district was guilty of religious bias.

In the end it couldn’t have come as any great shock when the Department of Justice intervened on behalf of a Muslim school teacher who claimed that the board of her Illinois school district was guilty of religious bias. Nor could it have come as any surprise that the Board of Education, Berkeley School District 87 Cook Country Illinois, was finally forced to settle the case brought against it by the DOJ. Still, even Americans accustomed to the relentless — more precisely the relentlessly selective — political correctness of the Obama Justice Department had to have been startled at the facts of this case and the deranged notions of equity that had impelled Eric Holder’s DOJ to go rushing into battle against the school district.

The school teacher in question, Safoorah Khan, a middle school math lab instructor, had worked at the school for barely a year when she applied for some 19 days unpaid leave so that she could make a pilgrimage to Mecca. The school district denied the request: She was the only math lab instructor the school had, her absence would come just at the period before exams, and furthermore, the leave she wanted was outside the bounds set for all teachers under their union contract.

Charging religious discrimination, Ms. Khan resigned and filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The Justice Department took it from there, filing a lawsuit in December 2010, claiming the teacher’s civil rights had been violated. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez noted at the time that a great wave of intolerance was being visited on Muslims in America, and this was one of the reasons for taking the case.

In Mr. Perez’s view and that of the DOJ apparently, the school district’s refusal of 19 days leave for Ms. Khan at a time when her presence was vitally needed — a leave available to no other teacher under the union contract — sufficed as proof that the district was guilty of bias against Muslims, and of violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Last week the terms of the settlement were announced. The Berkeley School District was to pay the teacher $75, 000 for her trouble — back pay and lawyers fees. The District is now also required to establish mandatory training in religious accommodation for all personnel.

One of the more impassioned responses to this bizarre affair comes from Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, devout Muslim and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. “Lamentable” is how he describes the involvement of the DOJ and “their choir of Islamist groups” and this lawsuit which he says, so lowers “the threshold for what merits action for civil rights abuse.” It will be left to a federal court to approve of the settlement. With any luck, that court will take note of just what it is they are approving.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Domestic Misfits and Foreign Terrorists

by Froma Harrop

Could personal and mental problems be a main factor in what we usually call “a religious or politically inspired terrorist attack”? Froma Harrop wonders whether some Muslim terrorists are using radical Islam as a cover for mental imbalance and perceived failures

When trying to make sense of terrorists, we examine their “causes.” In the cases of Muslim terrorists, we search their religious views and political indoctrination. But when looking at other Americans who commit outrages not overtly tied to some creed, we tend to focus on their inner turmoil rather than their big-picture resentments. And so we pinpoint lost jobs, failed marriages, rejecting lovers and child-custody battles as reasons why someone might shoot up a workplace or shopping mall — or, to be more accurate, as stresses that might push an unbalanced individual over the edge.

A recent tragedy in the normally tranquil town of Seal Beach, Calif., follows this pattern: Bitter over his divorce, a man killed eight and wounded others in the hair salon where his former wife worked. We shudder at these rampages but regard the slayers as people who cracked. But could personal and mental problems be a main factor in what we usually call “a religious or politically inspired terrorist attack”? Suppose Muslim terrorists are using radical Islam as a cover for mental imbalance and perceived failures — just as Timothy McVeigh blamed an allegedly abusive government for his decision to blow up a building in Oklahoma City.

Most immigrants must cope with the tensions of cultural dislocation. A man raised in a very male-dominated country whose wife walks out on him — and after he failed as a provider — experiences deep humiliation. But are his frustrations all that different from those of the native-born bankrupt, enraged over losing the kids, who opens fire at a hamburger joint?

Consider Mansour Arbabsiar, the suspect in an alleged Iranian plot to assassinate a Saudi diplomat in Washington. His personal life was in shambles. Born in Iran, he had spent more than 30 years in Texas trying to make it big in business after business and not succeeding. He lost his house through foreclosure. His marriage failed, and creditors were on his tail. His wife had sought a protective order against him.

Neighbors and friends expressed surprise that Iran would pick the likes of Arbabsiar to pull off an assassination. They saw him as a bumbler always searching for his keys. Involved in ordinary American go-getter activities, Arbabsiar never roused suspicions of radical beliefs. And he may not have had them. He might have been in it for the money, but he gets lumped in with Muslim terrorists. A similar story emerges from Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani immigrant accused of trying to set off a car bomb last year in Times Square. A son of privilege, Shahzad came to America and studied at the University of Bridgeport. In those days, he went to clubs, worked out at the gym, drank and womanized. He obtained a green card and a job as a financial analyst in Connecticut. He married and had two children.

According to published reports, Shahzad had long harbored militant thoughts, but other things were going on. His real-estate investments didn’t pan out. Like Arbabsiar, he lost a suburban home to foreclosure, fell behind on his bills and saw his marriage founder. (He started hassling his wife to wear a hijab, a modest Muslim head covering.) And he was estranged from his liberal-minded father, a retired high official in the Pakistani Air Force. Some may argue that radical Islam provides would-be terrorists a seven-layer cake of grievances, cultural alienation and frozen ideologies to ease their transition from just another stressed member of society to would-be terrorist. There may be something to that, but you have to wonder: Had Arbabsiar and Shahzad conquered America’s fabled streets of gold, would we ever have heard about them?

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Holder Invites Terror Co-Conspirator to Conference

Meetings on ‘post 9/11 backlash,’ criminalizing criticism of Islam

A year after honoring the prosecutorial team that implicated the Islamic Society of North America in a criminal scheme to finance terrorism inside America, Attorney General Eric Holder invited the leader of the alleged schemers to a Justice Department-sponsored conference on “post-9/11 discrimination.”

Top Justice Department officials Wednesday convened a meeting in Washington in which ISNA President Mohamed Magid joined other invited Islamic activists to lobby for cuts in counter-terror programs and funding. The Muslim groups’ demands also included censorship of references to Islam in FBI training materials and the criminalization of criticism of Islamist groups and Islamic law.

The Justice Department named ISNA an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2008 Holy Land Foundation trial — the largest terror-finance case in U.S. history.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Ingrid Mattson: A Case Study in Stealth Jihad

In a recent column for Canada’s National Post, the invaluable Barbara Kay writes about one Ingrid Mattson, a Catholic who was raised in Kitchener, Ontario, converted to Islam, and went on to become a major figure in the North American Islamic establishment. Until recently she taught Islamic Studies at Hartford Seminary, where, as Kay puts it, citing an account by Andrew Bieszad of his experiences as a student there, “Islam and other faiths were held to very different standards in classroom discussions.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Members of L.A.’s Muslim Community Engage in a ‘Muslim Forum’ With the LAPD

RESEDA-Members of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and members of Los Angeles’ Muslim community gathered for a Muslim Forum at the Islamic Center of Reseda Thursday evening, discussing ways to enrich their partnership and foster both public safety and cultural tolerance. Such attempts at partnership have been marred in some parts of the country by allegations that Muslim Americans are unfairly regarded with suspicion by law enforcement. This relationship has been exacerbated by the discovery of allegedly prejudiced practices by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in counterterrorism efforts.

While the media has not publicized the event extensively in the past, the LAPD’s Muslim Forum is a quarterly meeting that takes place at Islamic centers throughout Los Angeles County, and has been occurring for a few years. Last quarter’s forum took place at the Iranian American Muslim Association of North America’s headquarters. The police department said it presents these meetings as an opportunity for community members to engage with the LAPD in a continued effort to strengthen partnerships with the city’s communities by promoting openness and transparency. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, Deputy Chief Michael Downing, and various police officers were all in attendance.

In a room filled with about 50 Muslim attendees, Senior Advisor to the Muslim Forum, Salam Al-Marayati, spoke of a positive relationship between the Muslim community and LAPD based on trust, friendship and partnership. He criticized the New York Police Department (NYPD) for their treatment of New York’s Muslims, and praised the local police for treating Los Angeles’ Muslims as equals in the community. “This is the best model of partnership in the country. We are treated as partners, not as suspects…I remember Chief Downing and the rest of the LAPD saying ‘nothing is going to happen without the understanding and the approval of the Muslim community’,” Al-Marayati said.

While the crowd’s sentiment was one of praise and optimism toward their relationship with the LAPD, areas of concern were voiced as well. Members of the Muslim community said they were worried about news that the government was spying on Muslims and mistrusting them because of their faith in places like New York and Orange County. The biggest concern raised at the forum was related to the recent discovery that the FBI and Department of Justice participated in training measures in Virginia that promoted intolerance and what the Muslim community called “Islamophobia” within the government, as well as false information about their faith. “Is there an investigation to see how this happened in the FBI? There must be some sort of undercurrent. There must be several levels that would allow something like that to happen,” one attendee said during the question and answer session.

Reports said the FBI’s counterterrorism training was teaching agents that the average Muslim American is likely a terrorist sympathizer, that the Prophet Mohammed was a “cult leader” and that charity practices within the Islamic faith are nothing more than a means to fund terrorist activity. These claims, which depict the Constitutionally protected religious faith of millions as an indicator of a terrorist threat, are all listed in FBI training materials on Islam that “Wired” acquired in September. Members of L.A.’s Muslim community were not the only ones made uneasy by the FBI’s actions. Andre Birotte, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the central district of California, also expressed distaste with the training practices at the meeting.

“I was stunned, quite frankly. I want you all to know that those [practices] certainly do not represent the views of the U.S. Attorney’s office throughout the nation, or the views of the Department of Justice. For us, hearing this news was a disappointment…to have this come out was disheartening,” Birotte said.

The Fiqh Council of North America, a Muslim group that interprets Islamic law in both the U.S. and Canada, issued a Fatwa (or Islamic ruling) in light of the FBI’s training program, calling on Muslims for increased cooperation and involvement in the community. The organization’s chairman, Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, said it is false and misleading to suggest that being a faithful Muslim and being a loyal American citizen are mutually exclusive notions. Echoing the Fatwa, he said that these anti-Islamic beliefs are unfit for civilized people and are a betrayal of American values. The crowd agreed, and his statement was met with a roar of applause. “The Sharia, contrary to misrepresentations, is a comprehensive and broad guidance for all aspects of a Muslim’s life — spiritual, moral, social and legal. Secular legal systems in Western democracies…are generally compatible with Islamic Sharia,” Dr. Siddiqi added.

U.S. Attorney Birotte agreed with Siddiqi and said his priority is the enforcement of civil rights for the Muslim community and for the L.A. community at large. He called the FBI practices unacceptable, and asked that the community work with him to educate the public and create awareness. Birotte also said the FBI matter will not go unnoticed or unpunished.

“There is an investigation to find out what happened. At least our research indicates that it was one analyst who put forth this training…The Department of Justice is auditing all training to see what is being told to people. Luckily we haven’t heard any other stories. But absolutely, it is being looked at,” Birotte said.

In response to Birotte’s request for continued community dialogue, community members asked the LAPD and the U.S. Attorney how they could help ensure similar civil rights violations would not occur in L.A. “From my view, the expectation is to partner with us, to keep your community safe. Learn how to use the government to your advantage and build those relationships. Really get involved…let the marketplace of ideas rise to the surface and let those that aren’t worthy diminish. They can be called fools, and we will build our strength that way,” Deputy Chief Downing said.

With the FBI’s faulty training practices still under scrutiny and investigation, it is unclear what the outcome will be. Both the Chief and Deputy Chief will be in Chicago Friday to discuss issues of constitutional policing (like the ones mentioned above) at a national meeting of major city police chiefs. For now, members of Los Angeles’ Muslim community will continue to work with the LAPD and government officials to strengthen their partnership and prevent situations like those seen in Virginia and New York.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

More Obama Jobs Idiocy: Funding Electric Cars Built in Finland!

$529 million loan to the start-up electric car company called Fisker, jobs out-sourced to Finland

President Barack Obama is in urgent need of input from an intelligent, common-sense loyalist, said patriot to whisper into one of his monster, over-sized ears the following message: ‘Mr. President, You are expected to represent the interests of the American people.’

What purpose could possibly be served by delivering such an obvious, overly-simple message to one of the greatest intellectuals of all time?

For one thing, it could remind BHO that using taxpayer dollars to fund the manufacture of electric cars in a foreign nation is stupid, un-American, and may qualify as a high crime or misdemeanor which could be an impeachable offense.

As reported in part, Obama’s latest idiocy is almost too much to believe:

“With the approval of the Obama administration, an electric car company that received a $529 million federal government loan guarantee is assembling its first line of cars in Finland, saying it could not find a facility in the United States capable of doing the work.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Radical and Mainstream Islam Topic of Conversation at Campus Lecture

A representative from an organization whose mission is stated as cultivating a better understanding of the difference between mainstream and radical Islam lectured on campus Wednesday to a couple dozen students and faculty, some of whom challenged her assertions. Dr. Hedieh Mirahmadi, president of the World Organization for Resource Development and Education (WORDE) and general secretary of the Islamic Supreme Council of America, spent over an hour discussing her definition of radical Islam and her understanding of its prevalence in American society. “Islam radicalism is a process by which a person adopts a divine religion that demonizes the other and leads that person to believe that only violence can correct their perceived grievances,” Mirahmadi said.

There are about 1,897 mosques in the United States as of 2010, according to a study conducted by the University of Kentucky. Mirahmadi said she studied 200 U.S. mosques, chosen by random sampling, and concluded that 15 to 20 percent of Muslim Americans were exposed to radical Islamic ideology. From this, she said one percent of the world’s Muslim population was exposed to the radical ideology. When asked by an audience member where she found her statistical data, Mirahmadi said there was no empirical data to prove her information on a global scale. She added that Muslim schools, communities and mosques within the U.S. were the foundations of creating violent thoughts and attitudes toward the public, and the topic of discussing radicalized Islamic was taboo in most Muslim communities.

According to a 2007 Pew Research report, more than half of all Muslims in the U.S. were concerned with Islamic extremism, and 49 percent of Muslims said mosques should keep out of political matters. Part of the lecture veered off of radicalized Islam and into U.S. foreign policy in Muslim-dominant countries. Mirahmadi said the governments in Iraq and Afghanistan invited the U.S.-led wars in their countries. “There were pieces of the government that wanted American troops in the country,” Mirahmadi said. “It is our responsibility to not allow a single person to take violence into their own hands as a way of solving conflict.”

The political science department sponsored Wednesday’s event, held in the USU’s Plaza del Sol Northridge Center. “The political science department sponsors any event that we think is going to promote dialogue within the communities and the academic institution,” said Kassem Nabulsi, political science professor who teaches courses about government policies in the Middle East. The discussion became heated at times, with the Muslim Student Association challenging Mirahmadi. “Politics is about conflict, it’s inevitable, everybody is going to have different interpretations and points of views,” Nabulsi said. “We want to bridge the different point of views so we minimize the conflict from spilling over to becoming violent.”

Pierce College student Evan Burke, 19, was in the audience.

“I agree with Dr. Mirahmadi that education with Muslim and non-Muslim communities will help prevent radicals by bringing in intellectual and educated religious leaders to expose both radical and moderate sides and know where they stand,” he said. In response to Mirahmadi’s statements about radical Muslims, some members of the Muslim Student Association disagreed with her approach. “I respect that she has different ideas, but she wasn’t even answering the questions she was asked because she didn’t know how to answer,” said Amira Montheshum, a CSUN Muslim Student Association member.

Mirahmadi, a Los Angeles native, said she was raised in a non-religious family and found herself in an Islamic network during college. She said she was the victim of aggression, and this is why she has become an expert on radical Muslims. “It seems like I talk about radicalization, Muslims hate me,” Mirahmadi said. “I say Islam is a good religion, non-Muslims hate me. This is not about making friends.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

The AFL-CIO’s Revolutionary Activist

If “working class white voters” already have a problem with the “cultural and personal instincts” of the protesters, an apparent reference to their hygiene problems, anarchistic tendencies, and penchant for Marxist-style “solutions,” what do you think the reaction is going to be when they find out that Nussbaum herself, the executive director of the AFL-CIO’s Working America affiliate, is someone who traveled to Cuba to sing the praises of Communist dictator Fidel Castro?

But don’t count on Greg Sargent or any other mainstream media reporter to reveal this information. They probably consider it McCarthyism to document someone’s communist connections or affiliations. But a radical in a crowd at a Tea Party event? That’s a scandal worth covering.

I have been writing about Nussbaum for several years now, running into total silence or stonewalling when I have challenged her personally to talk about her trip to Cuba, which included a personal meeting with Fidel Castro. In 2009, when asked about the matter, she turned and walked away.

The broader question is: what has happened to the AFL-CIO, which was once an anti-communist organization?


How did a Castro sympathizer come to “occupy” a top position in the AFL-CIO? The terrible truth is that the anti-communism of this once-great labor federation has been snuffed out, first under Sweeney, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, and now under Trumka. Today they’re literally in bed with the Reds and conducting street actions and protests to bring the revolution that Nussbaum saw firsthand in Cuba to America.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

What Does the U.N. Cost Taxpayers, And Why?

According to OMB, total U.S. contributions to the U.N. system were more than $6.347 Billion in FY2009

The U.S. is providing hundreds of millions of dollars of foreign aid to some of the world’s richest countries — while at the same time borrowing billions back from those same countries, according to a report seen by Congress ???

The Congressional Research Service released a report in June, which shows that in 2010 the U.S. handed out a total of $1.4 Billion to 16 foreign countries that held at least $10 Billion in Treasury securities, including four countries in the world’s top 10 richest who received foreign aid last year — China receiving $27.2m, India $126.6m, Brazil $25m, and Russia $71.5m ? — Mexico received $316.7m and Egypt $255.7m ?

And yet despite the massive outgoings in foreign aid, the receiving countries hold trillions of dollars in U.S. Treasury bonds — China is the largest holder with $1.1trillion as of March, according to the Treasury Department — Brazil held $193.5 Billion, Russia $127.8 Billion, India $39.8 Billion, Mexico $28.1 Billion and Egypt had $15.3 Billion — can that be explained ?

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


A Question of Loyalty — Ayaan Hirsi Ali Interview

The concept of citizenship is a curious one for a nomad — at least that’s the word Ayaan Hirsi Ali used to describe herself in the title of her latest memoir. Ms. Hirsi Ali spent her childhood shuttling between Somalia, Saudi Arabia and Kenya, before fleeing an arranged marriage that would have brought her to Canada, settling instead in the Netherlands. There, after attending university and becoming a member of parliament — speaking out against radical Islam and its threat to Dutch culture — she stepped down from politics and nearly had her citizenship revoked (she had used false information on her refugee claim 14 years earlier). After appealing to France to grant her citizenship, she ended up in 2006 in the United States.

Perhaps a life spent without a permanent link to any one country, though, has at least given Ms. Hirsi Ali a perspective rare among prominent Western intellectuals. Arriving in Holland for the first time, she recalls first encountering the expectation that she would curb her ethnic loyalties in favour of a nation state, and finding it nothing less than bizarre.

“They don’t prepare you for that,” she says. “The first few years you spend in conflict because you are completely and utterly loyal to your clan and tribe and everything that you’ve learned before, and you get to this point where, as a citizen, you’re basically being asked to be loyal to strangers.”

The need for such liberal, secular democracies as Canada to prepare themselves for immigrants who might come unready to accept citizenship responsibilities will likely be one of the warnings Ms. Hirsi Ali brings to Calgary on Tuesday, where she’ll be speaking at a sold-out dinner officially launching the Manning Foundation for Democratic Education. Exploring tensions around multiculturalism will be one of the focuses for the foundation, named for, and led by, Reform and Canadian Alliance party founder Preston Manning, which will put as much emphasis on its own scholarly work as it will on granting funds to other non-profit policy-minded groups.

The selection of Ms. Hirsi Ali as the celebrity to kick off the event is an intriguing one: Opponents once frequently labelled Mr. Manning’s parties as intolerant. Former Liberal cabinet minister Elinor Caplan called their supporters “Holocaust deniers, prominent bigots and racists.” The National Anti-Racism Council of Canada and Toronto columnists branded Reform as “anti-immigrant” — and there were occasional members who lent credence the charge: Toronto Reform candidate John Beck withdrew his candidacy in 1993 after saying that immigrants could bring “death and destruction” to Canada, and that they were “overpowering” Canadian culture.

And yet, Ms. Hirsi Ali, with her deep black complexion and lilting Somali accent, will be the one arguing next week that Canada needs to be more careful in its immigration policies. She warns, in fact, that if we are not, then we very much could risk violence and terror. And, she believes that if Canadians don’t stand by their founding heritage, we could well find ourselves overpowered by foreign and illiberal cultures.


Ms. Hirsi Ali has always made few bones about the fact that she sees Islam as inherently radical and uniquely dangerous to the Western way of life, and as a refugee from a strict Islamic upbringing in which she was beaten and brutalized (including forced female circumcision), she can speak this way with a credibility, freedom and authority that few intellectuals enjoy. An atheist now, she still argues that Muslims would be at least better off converting to Christianity, if they require some kind of faith. Those Muslims we might be inclined to call “moderate” she has called, instead “passive”: they don’t follow all the rules of Islam; if they did, they’d be as militant as Bouyeri.

And so, at times, she seems almost at peace with double standards, where Jews and Catholics would be free to enroll their own children in religious schools, and wear whatever modest head coverings they choose, while Muslims would not. It’s possible in certain countries, she says, “because there’s a Judeo-Christian cultural history, to allow Jewish and Christian schools but not allow Muslim schools.” But if fairness is our priority, or if we consider the ideal a perfectly secular state — as she would prefer- then all religious schools, and all religious challenges to a secular civilization, must go.

Such trade-offs are naturally uncomfortable in societies such as this one, which are unused to such things: one where citizenship both grants individual rights — empowering such women as her — yet revokes other rights, such as the right to cover one’s face or select one’s school of choice. Ms. Hirsi Ali, raised outside our rights-centric western culture, can no doubt accept the sacrifice more easily than bornand-raised Canadians can. In time, should we find our way of life increasingly endangered by the insidious effects of multiculturalism, the way her own life has been, she’s certain we’ll come to see things her way, too.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Construction Begins on Muslim Mosque for Prince Edward Island

Construction is underway on the first stand-alone Muslim mosque and Islamic centre in P.E.I. The new site in Charlottetown is located at 15 MacAleer Dr., Charlottetown. It is a great day for the Muslim community residing in P.E.I., said society president Dr. Najam Chishti. He said all community members are invited to attend this historic event. The Greater Charlottetown Mosque and Community Centre will be community-owned and serve the needs of the growing community. P.E.I., home to more than 250 Muslims, is the only province which does not have a permanent mosque where the growing needs of the community can be met, hold their daily prayers and activities, celebrate their festivals and educate their children. Chishti and Dr. Suleiman Sefau, fundraising chair, hope this will encourage more Muslim professionals to come and settle in Prince Edward island and retain the existing professional community. The 5,000-square-foot space will have two prayer halls, six washrooms two wheelchairaccessible and rooms for Sunday school activities.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Councillors React to Mosque Move to Lower Minaret

The Islamic Society of Markham will lower the minaret and take out two domes on the new mosque as a gesture of goodwill.The move has garnered some positive reviews, even though issues such as traffic and total capacity of the 28,000-sq. ft. place of worship on 16th Avenue remain unanswered for residents and some councillors. “The changes are positive steps, but that’s still too high. The minaret has no real function,” said Ward 3 Councillor Don Hamilton.

The mosque’s board of directors took out a half-page ad in Thursday’s Economist & Sun, announcing its decision to reduce the minaret to 100 feet from 135 feet and eliminate two side domes to “minimize the visual impact to adjacent neighbours”. The ad states the mosque is comparable in size to other places of worship recently built in Markham, has worked co-operatively with the town to accommodate requests that go beyond typical requirements for a place of worship and met the town’s parking requirements.

The mosque 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. Mr. Hamilton said he hopes the mosque will continue to work with the town and the community to make its site plan more acceptable. “It has to be downplayed in terms of scale and size,” Mr. Hamilton said. The Unionville councillor said he voted to approve the mosque’s site plan application last month because he had consulted with Ward 5 Councillor Colin Campbell and asked him whether or not his residents were all on side with the project.

“He said ‘yes’,” Mr. Hamilton said. “He said they had a community meeting and that there were some questions in the beginning but people were all on side at the end.” Mr. Hamilton said he wasn’t made aware that only “a selective few” residents were invited to the meeting. I still support a religious building and a mosque being there, but the community has reacted negatively,” Mr. Hamilton said. He said the question about the mosque’s total capacity from residents is a fair one.

Despite repeated requests for an answer, Mayor Frank Scarpitti’s office did not respond. In the eyes of Regional Councillor Joe Li, “That’s up to the mosque to tell people”. Mr. Li said the changes the mosque is making are a good start, but added the process and traffic are more important issues. He said his Taj Mahal reference was a compliment to the mosque’s architectural design and that at the time of voting, he didn’t know about the planned 160 townhouse units adjacent to the site.

The townhouse application has been deferred. Mr. Li said he went to the town’s planning department on behalf of the residents who contacted him about the mosque to inquire what could be done. “They said, ‘Nothing’,” Mr. Li said. That being said, Mr. Li said he hopes the mosque will become an example of how different cultures in Markham can live side by side.

“I think education is important,” he said. “Everyone has the right to complain, but at the end of the day, we as council have rules to follow.”

Ward 2 Councillor Howard Shore believes the mosque is no different than a condo development that may or may not stir up a variety of questions in the community. However, “There’s a level of prejudice in the community”, Mr. Shore said. “Some people have a certain prejudice against the Muslim community and that’s terrible.” Mr. Shore said he has received “scores of e-mails” about the mosque and that some misinformation has driven unfounded fear in the community. He said the misinformation included the actual square footage of the mosque and the 1,600 worshippers “typo”. Asked if he knew the total capacity of the mosque, Mr. Shore said he couldn’t comment “because I don’t know”. But he said that’s a fair question to ask, just as are traffic, parking and compatibility of the design questions. However he said the ad shows the mosque’s leadership wants to work with the community.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Manning Foundation for Democratic Education — Media Advisory [Ayaan Hirsi Ali Event in Calgary, 25 Oct 2011]

CALGARY, Oct. 21, 2011 /CNW/ — Media are invited as the new Manning Foundation for Democratic Education welcomes Ayaan Hirsi Ali to Calgary. A defender of western values and a critic of extremist Islam, Hirsi Ali is a Somali-Dutch feminist and activist, writer and politician. She is a prominent critic of Islam, and her screenplay for Theo van Gogh’s movie Submission led to death threats, as well as to the assassination of Van Gogh. Ali is the author of Infidel and Nomad. Hirsi Ali will speak to an audience of prominent Calgarians, largely assembled by prominent Calgarian women, at an event MC-ed by Preston Manning. Ali’s theme will be Canadian Citizenship and Multiculturalism. This is the first public event for the Manning Foundation for Democratic Education and is sold out.

WHEN: October 25th 2011, with program starting at 6:30 p.m.

WHERE: Palliser Hotel Ballroom, Calgary, Alberta

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Taking a Closer Look at Islamic Studies

by Barbara Kay

As an academic discipline, Islamic Studies had a political father and a spiritual mother. Political in that colonizing governments sought to understand the peoples they ruled over for more effective control. Spiritual in that Christian missionaries needed to understand Islam in forging conversion strategies.Emergent identity pride appeared in the Muslim world in the wake of World War II and imperial withdrawal. Post-colonial intellectuals concluded that Muslims were victims of European ignorance, a notion most artfully elaborated in Palestinian-American literature professor Edward Said’s 1978 book Orientalism. Guilt-ridden western academics eagerly embraced the new rules, which said that criticism of Western religions was to be encouraged, while Islam was (until 9/11) seen as largely off limits.

Muslim groups — some with an Islamist agenda that envisioned the introduction of shariah into Western cultures — started funding marriages between Islamic Studies programs and prestigious universities. In some cases, university administrators turned a blind eye to the content of these programs. Andrew Bieszad, who graduated with a master’s degree from Hartford Seminary’s Islamic Studies, the oldest such program in America, wrote a disturbing account of his 2007-2010 sojourn there for the National Association of Scholars blog. He described many episodes in which Islam and other faiths were held to very different standards in classroom discussions.

In one “interfaith dialogue” class, for example, Bieszad said, “I am Catholic and I do not believe in Islam.” Following this, according to Bieszad’s account, “one of the Muslim students spoke. She said that she was Muslim, and then she addressed me directly. In a soft, Arabic accented voice, she told me, ‘You are an infidel because you do not accept Islam’ and that ‘according to Islam you do not deserve to live.’ A second Muslim student heartily agreed.’ “ Bieszad reports that when he brought such incidents to the attention of the administration, he was told that he was “intolerant of Muslims,” and that the best solution was a better “understanding of Islam.”

“Not a single classmate, Muslim or non-Muslim, ever spoke up in support of my opinion, even on the principle that different views should be respected,” Bieszad writes. One of Bieszad’s professors at Hartford was a certain Dr. Ingrid Mattson, a Canadian Muslim convert born and raised in Kitchener, Ont. Last week, it was announced that Dr. Mattson had been named inaugural Chair of the new Islamic Studies program at Canada’s own Huron College, a faculty of theology affiliated with the University of Western Ontario. This appointment ups the ante on controversy already swirling over the Chair’s funding. Much of the $2-million endowment was provided by the membership of two organizations — the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) and the Virginia-based International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) — both of which are alleged to be influenced by Islamist ideology.

In a press release about Mattson’s appointment, Huron’s Principal, Stephen McClatchie, spoke glowingly of her academic record and “impeccable credentials” for the job. But consider these aspects of Dr. Mattson’s background.

  • In 2006, as she notes on her own web site, Dr. Mattson was elected president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). This group has been described as a “key component of the [Saudi-sponsored] Wahhabi lobby” by Islam scholar Daniel Pipes. ISNA also was identified as an un-indicted co-conspirator in the 2007-2009 case of U.S. v. Holy Land Foundation, which involved the covert financing of the terrorist group Hamas (though Dr. Mattson has not been accused of having had any involvement in any alleged illegal behviour).
  • She has been disturbingly equivocal about Wahhabism, the repressive and backward strain of Sunni Islam that is the state creed in Saudi Arabia. In 2001, for instance, she told a CNN chat forum: “This is not a sect. It is the name of a reform movement that began 200 years ago to rid Islamic societies of cultural practices and rigid interpretation that had acquired over the centuries. It really was analogous to the European protestant reformation. Because the Wahhabi scholars became integrated into the Saudi state, there has been some difficulty keeping that particular interpretation of religion from being enforced too broadly on the population as a whole. However, the Saudi scholars who are Wahhabi have denounced terrorism.”
  • She has stated publicly that the best English-language Koranic commentary for Muslim youth is by Maulana Abul A’la Maududi, an Islamist author who wrote that “Islam wishes to destroy all States and Governments anywhere on the face of the earth which are opposed to the ideology and programme of Islam.”
  • In commenting on the subject of “injustice,” she lambastes the Taliban and the Israeli government in the same breath, because in both cases, people stood by as the two regimes perpetrated “oppression” — an odious juxtaposition, in my view.

Last spring, when I interviewed Huron’s interim principal Trish Fulton by telephone and asked for her thoughts on accepting money from dubious organizations, she said, “We don’t probe too deeply into values held by donors.” At the very least, Huron College should probe the “values” held by the individual who will be shaping the Islamic Studies curriculum.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Croatia: Pair of Priests Arrested on Suspicion of Acquiring Child Porn

Zagreb, 21 Oct. (AKI) — Croatian police have arrested two priests for allegedly acquiring child pornographic materials via the Internet, local media reported on Friday.

The news report said the Zagreb priests had been receiving pornography for the past three years, including photos of naked children and “explicit sex acts.”

One of the suspects who worked in a Zagreb Catholic hospital, was later released, pending further investigation, but was suspended from his duties, while the second remained in detention, the police said.

According to media reports, the operation was initiated by British Scotland Yard in an effort to block distribution of pornographic material involving children. The police said 25 people were being investigated in the operation and loads of pornographic material had been seized during the search of 28 homes.

According to Croatian law, conviction for such crimes could result in a sentence ranging one to ten years in jail.

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

Germany: Linke Party Asks Legalization of Hard Drugs

(AGI) Berlin — The German party Linke has called for the legalization of drugs, including hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin. With a surprise vote, the majority of 221 congressional representatives from the party in Erfurt approved the request to decriminalize even hard drugs this morning, with 173 votes against and 29 abstentions. The motion presented by the party’s administratioon had, instead, only requested the legalization of mild drugs such as hashish and marijuana.

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

Italy: Enac Probe: D’Alema Investigated for Illecit Financing

(AGI) Rome — Massimo D’Alema is under investigation by Italy’s finance police for illecit financing in the framework of a probe on ENAC (the Italian Civil Aviation Authority) tenders that were held to allocate flights to the Elba Island, Florence and Pisa. The investigation is being led by Rome’s prosecutors Giuseppe Cascini e Paolo Ielo. The fact that D’Alema’s is now listed in the register of indictable offerders for this probe is a “procedural act” and the pre-trial judge could opt for the dismissal of the case.

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

Italy: Stashes of Gas Masks and Clubs Prepared Days Before Rome Riots

Pincer movement by two groups to disrupt rally

ROME — At least two blocks of violent protesters took part in the Indignati rally in Rome. One marched with the demonstrators while the other went straight to Piazza San Giovanni, perhaps to disrupt the final rally. In the event, the blocks regrouped in mid afternoon and attacked police officers, getting the better of the exchanges.

The day after the devastation and looting, investigators from the DIGOS security police and the Carabinieri ROS special operations group have made a preliminary reconstruction of events. One aim is to highlight any errors made by the public order services. A new element to emerge is that the extremist groups were made up mainly of young people, some of them minors. On average, they are aged between 17 and 35. Many have experience with No TAV protesters in the woods of Val di Susa and they use internet in particular to communicate. Videos and statements from people who saw them at first hand provide details of how the rioters acted from the moment they arrived in Rome.

Most came on Saturday morning. At about 11 am, Carabinieri at Pomezia followed and stopped a Fiat 600 with a youth and three young women on board. In the boot were five rucksacks containing a veritable arsenal — four motorcycle crash helmets, ten gas masks with filters, 500 glass marbles, a large professional slingshot, four balaclavas, four shin guards, two builder’s hammers, a crowbar and four bottles containing liquids. The report already forwarded to magistrates refers to “individuals belonging to the anarchist insurrectionalist area”.

Many of the young people who were present as the march set off from Piazza della Repubblica moved independently, at least in the final stages. In each one’s rucksack were supplies of slingshots, marbles and stones. Some sported moped helmets dangling from their pants. Some arrived with gas masks, a detail that recalls the TAV high-speed train protests. A hundred or so joined the back of the march while another fifty worked their way to the front. According to the latest estimates, there may have been about five hundred in all, mingling with the demonstrators and ready to don balaclavas and hoodies to disguise their identities before going into action.

White plastic bags had been left along the route to mark stashes of materials for use in the clashes and to loot ATMs and shops. The bags had been left on already damaged posts marking small piles of cobblestones hidden by other bags, or on the doors of buildings where clubs and firecrackers were stashed. This led security officers to conclude that the attack strategy was carefully planned. The tactics are thought to have been drawn up by “veterans” who had long been planning to infiltrate the Indignati march and thwart its aim of demonstrating peacefully.

The first attack was launched on the Elite supermarket at 2.35 pm in a dress rehearsal for what was to follow. About fifty demonstrators took part unchallenged. Orders from police chief Francesco Tagliente forbade any intervention within the ranks of the march itself to avoid the risk of injury to marchers. From that moment on, the violence mounted. The attacks were opportunistic with small groups leaving the column and rushing straight back, evidently aware that police officers would be unable to intervene…

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

Italy: Catricala’: No Abolition of Professional Assoc., New Norms

(AGI) Rome — Antitrust authorities do not want to abolish professional associations, “which have a role in regulating ethics”. Antitrust Authority President Antonio Catricala’ said they are, however, requesting “that three representatives of Parliament take part in each association, as happens with the Superior Council of Magistrates”.

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

Norwegian Police Still Want to Interview Alan Lake


Police is Oslo say they want to interview Alan Lake, whom they believe is a key figure in Britain’s anti-Islamist English Defence League EDL.L, to find out if he may have been an ideological source of inspiration to Breivik.

“Alan Lake is an obvious person we would like to speak to,” Oslo police prosecutor Paal-Fredrik Hjort Kraby told Reuters.

He added: “At this point in the investigation there is no indication that anyone knew about his (Breivik’s) plans.”

The English Defence League said in an email to Reuters that Lake had “absolutely nothing to do with the EDL”. Lake could not be reached for comment but has previously denied being a senior member of the EDL.

           — Hat tip: LN[Return to headlines]

Spain: Ghost Airport Invites Tenders to ‘Clear’ Its Runways

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, OCTOBER 19 — Spain has an airport costing 150 million euros — but where there aren’t any aeroplanes as it has not received authorisation from the aviation authorities.

The airport was opened in March by the governors of the province and by the regional council of Valencia, both of which are controlled by the Popular Party.

Six months on, Castellon Airport, located at Vilanueva de Alcolea, has launched an invitation for tenders for a 456,500-euro project over three years to find a falcon and polecat service to help drive away birds and other animals from the site, as they pose a danger to aircraft taking off and landing. News of the tender, which has appeared in Spain’s media today, has re-opened the controversy over the airport, open since March but still without any aeroplanes.

The deadline for bids by companies specialising in the capture and control of wildlife has been set at November 7. Among the conditions to be met by a successful bidder are a ‘staff’ of “at least eight polecats, which must be licensed and fully authorised” and a minimum of eight falcons, as well as three experts in falconry, the tender invitation says, according to the Efe agency report. The service should be provided for “at least six hours per day” for 365 days a year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UK: Jewish Chronicle Crticises Malcolm Grant for Comments on ‘Campus Extremism’

In the interview, Grant criticised the government’s Prevent strategy and the working assumption that universities were ‘hotbeds of extremism,’ as well as the idea that university professors should spy on Muslim students. Grant challenged those who believed otherwise to speak to UCL’s Muslim or Jewish students. The JC article cites a report that claims that 42% of British Jewish students “had witnessed or been subjected to anti-Semitism in the past academic year”. The article also cites Lord Carlile, the government’s former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation as saying. “He’s in denial and he needs to re-examine his whole approach.”

Yet Lord Carlile’s credentials as an ‘independent’ reviewer of terrorism legislation with a strong grasp of the issues at hand are highly questionable, given the ignorance he has demonstrated in the past of some key causal factors in radicalisation, namely foreign policy. Moreover, he has placed an unnecessary emphasis on the threat of Islamic extremism, when the Europol ‘Terrorism Situation and Trend Report’, which looks at the broader scope of terrorism in Europe, has demonstrated that attacks by Muslim militants comprises a tiny percentage of the terrorist attacks that have occurred in Europe in recent years.

The article cites a number of others pushing the argument of ‘campus extremism’. Among them James Brandon of the Quilliam Foundation; Rosanna Rafel, former co-president of UCL Jewish Society, Dan Sheldon of the Union of Jewish Students and Raheem Kassam of Student Rights. However the article fails to solicit the views of the largest UK student body, the National Union of Students, or the UK Muslim students’ organisation, FOSIS.

Proponents of tighter restrictions on freedom of speech or an enhanced focus on universities as incubators of radicalization find support in the remarks of Professor Anthony Glees, whose sole testimony is relied upon by the APPG on Homeland Security to argue that “The Government must finally tackle the serious problem of radicalization on university campuses with utmost urgency.” But, Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, argues that the issue of campus extremism is overplayed and exploited, suggesting that the facts do not support claims of a causal relationship between freedom of speech on campuses and radicalisation of university students.

Moreover, recently discovered secret MI5 documents make no mention of university campuses and their supposed role in radicalisation, looking rather to the issue of Muslim experiences in prison and patterns of migration. Islamophobia and anti-Semitism have no place in the university learning environment and universities should exercise due responsibility in protecting students against hate speech and racial or religiously motivated violence. But the histrionics of the debate, captured by the likes of Quilliam, HJS, Student Rights and Prof Anthony Glees, does little to better aid our understanding on the nature and complexity of the problem. Muslim and Jewish students deserve better than to be treated as political footballs or to have their right to free expression curtailed by imagined threats.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: London’s New Churches: Dynamic, Superstitious and Obsessed With Money

Earlier this week, a disturbing headline appeared in my Twitter feed. “Church HIV prayer cure claims ‘cause three deaths’,” it read. There was a link to the BBC website, but even before I clicked through I knew I would find the word “Nigerian”. According to a leading HIV doctor, three women have died after attending London churches that told them to stop taking antiretroviral drugs. The news story singled out the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), whose UK headquarters are in Southwark. Its website displays a photograph with the caption: “Mrs Badmus proudly displays her two different medical records confirming she is 100 per cent free from HIV-Aids following the prayer of Pastor T B Joshua.”

This being the politically correct Beeb, however, there was no discussion of the background to the story. Nigerian and other West African churches are the most vibrant expression of Christianity in Britain. Indeed, they’re so bursting with vitality that they buy up disused cinemas and warehouses (sometimes to the alarm of residents — there have been protests about “pop-up” West African churches). The Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC) has a congregation of 12,000 every Sunday.

West African evangelists claim to be able to cast out demons and cure the dying. They also predict the imminent return of the Lord. A warning to Islingtonians who think a Nigerian pastor might spice up a supper party: don’t invite a gay couple unless you’re comfortable with the word “sodomy” thundering across the bruschetta. On the other hand, you wouldn’t want an early Christian on the guest list, either, since they shared the same beliefs about disease (curable by miracles), homosexuality (unspeakable) and Armageddon (coming soon).

But there’s also a distinctly un-biblical side to the new Christianity spreading across London. It’s obsessed with money. It’s not unusual for a Nigerian mega-pastor to own a jet: Bishop David Oyedepo of the Living Faith World Outreach Ministry owns four and is worth $150 million, according to Forbes. Temitope (also known as T B) Joshua recently donated $20 million to charity, which would be impressive if his “charity” didn’t include bogus Aids cures. Forbes claims that Matthew Ashimolowo of KICC earns a salary of more than £150,000, “but his real wealth comes from business interests, including his media company”.

Some smaller Nigerian churches are also on the radar of London’s social services because they incorporate the “exorcism” of child witchcraft into their teachings, which can have dreadful consequences. According to a social worker contact, some local authority employees belong to these churches themselves and view society through the prism of semi-Christian spirit beliefs.

Why don’t we hear more about this? Imagine the hysteria if this were white American Christian fundamentalism. But, because these are black-led churches, the media report the situation nervously and inadequately. Not that the Right is any more interested: it’s preoccupied with the excesses of Islam. In the long run, however, we’ll pay dearly for our polite indifference. I don’t want to caricature the faith of West African Christians, but it’s a simple fact that it focuses intensely on “God-given prosperity” (ie making money) and spirit possession. And, if trends continue, it will soon overtake the mainstream churches as the dominant expression of Christianity in this country. That raises the real prospect of Christians and Muslims joining forces in a culture war on degenerate British society. What will happen then?

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: President of the UCL — To Ask University Professors to Look Out for Extremists is Stupid

Speaking on the Government’s latest counter-terrorism strategy and its insistence that universities must do more to look for potential extremists, Professor Grant argues:

“That was just stupid,” “It was stupid to say that of those convicted of terrorism offences, more than 30 per cent had been to university, and to suggest that there was a link. It is simply a reflection of the fact that a large proportion of the population have been to university. There seems to be no evidence of a causal connection between attendance at university and engagement in religiously inspired violence. No one should imagine that universities can substitute for the intelligence services. Not only is it impractical, but it also cuts across the important personal relationship between the student and the tutor. You shouldn’t be clamping down on ordinary rights of assembly and discussion in an open society. These are very important values inherent in the very idea of university and the development of ideas.”

His views were echoed by Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, who in an interview with the Daily Telegraph argued that the presumption of a causal relationship between academic and campus freedom and radicalization was not borne out by the facts. Grant tells the ES that “the “law is quite tight” on hate speech and inciting violence and that the university would step in if it felt that such offences were taking place.” He challenges those who contest his claims to visit UCL and speak to its Muslim and Jewish students.

Professor Grant has been an outspoken critic of government counter-terrorism policies and the call for academic staff to spy on students. He chaired the working group which produced the report, “Freedom of speech on campus,” which called for more engagement with extreme political views, and the Caldicott Inquiry, which investigated the radicalisation of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. The Caldicott Inquiry concluded that Abdulmutallab’s radicalisation occurred after his leaving UCL and during his stay in Yemen.

Despite evidence to contrary, there remains a body of opinion which insists on pushing the “universities are hotbeds of extremism” argument. Notably, Professor Anthony Glees who told the Henry Jackson Society that, “universities and colleges have allowed themselves to become sites where extremist views and radicalisation can flourish beyond the sight of academics.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Voters Have Been Cheated Over the European Union for Too Long. Let Them Decide

David Cameron should allow his MPs a free vote on whether to hold a referendum on membership of the EU.

The Coalition recently introduced a system by which a petition with more than 100,000 signatures can force a debate in the House of Commons. Next week, on Monday, such a petition has triggered a debate on whether there should be a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union. The options in the referendum would be: in, out or renegotiate. So popular demand has put a question before Parliament, and backbenchers, as the new law also provides, have created a motion based on that popular demand. On the face of it, there would seem to be a chance that popular demand might prevail. A happy situation for all the parties, you might think, since, at the last general election, all three of them were committed to referendums on Europe. At that time, the Liberal Democrats launched their own petition which said: “Liberal Democrats believe we should have a real vote on Europe — whether we should be in Europe or not. We have been blocked from having a vote on this in Parliament.”

But no, on Monday all three parties will whip their MPs to vote against the petition which the reform has invited and the policy which they all gave us the impression, last time they asked for our votes, that they supported. If you ask the Liberal Democrats why they have changed, they say that their demand for an in/out referendum has been dropped as part of the Coalition Agreement. If you ask the Conservatives, they say that an in/out referendum is more than the Liberal Democrats could stand. The Tory high command feels so strongly that a referendum should not be voted for that it has arranged to change the date of the debate so that David Cameron and William Hague, who are going to Australia for the Commonwealth Conference, can attend. Mr Miliband, Mr Clegg and Mr Cameron are at one on this subject: “Don’t let the people decide!” It’s quite a slogan.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algeria: Chinese Company Gets Algiers Grand Mosque Contract

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, OCTOBER 20 — The Chinese company China State Construction has been awarded the contract to build the Algiers Grand Mosque, which is expected to cost 1.363 billion dollars. The Chinese company will have 48 months to build the mosque, which enjoys strong support from the government and the plan for which was backed by Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika. The China State Construction bid was considered the best offer over ones by the Italian-Lebanese consortium Arabian Construction Company- Astaldi and the Spanish-Algerian Etrhb Haddad-Cosider-Fcc. The proposal of the Italian-Lebanese consortium provided for the building of the mosque in 42 months at a cost of over 216.628 billion dinars (2 billion euros). The Algerian-Spanish consortium guaranteed that the works would be completed within 44 months at a cost of 130.5 billion dinars (1.264 billion euros). The mosque will be in Mohammadia (east of the capital) on a 20-hectare surface area set aside for the purpose. It will have a prayer room (two hectares), reading and Koranic studies rooms, an Islamic cultural centre, a library (with 200 seats), parking space for 6,000 cars and commercial space. In addition areas set aside for greenery, the area will have a conference hall (with space for 1,000), a museum and a research centre for Algerian history. To render the Algiers Grand Mosque unique, it was also chosen to build a four-sided, over 300-metre high minaret.

The project will be making large-scale use of steel, not only due to conservation concerns but also because it can guarantee the best resistance to seismic activity for the building.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Obama Emphasizes U. S. Role in Libya

(AGI) Houston — President Barack Obama said the United States played a crucial role in Libya. Speaking a day after the death of Muammar Gaddafi, Obama, focused on the role of the U.S. involvement in Libya. Obama returned to speak about Libya during his talk on the total withdrawal of American forces from Iraq.

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

Tunisia: Friday Prayer Urges Vote

The Friday imam at a popular downtown mosque used today’s sermon to urge Tunisians to vote. One week ago, many worshippers from the same mosque went directly from Friday prayer to protest in the Kasbah against a film considered offensive to Islam. Though a similar demonstration was planned for today, even attracting over 100,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook, worshippers told Tunisia Live they had no plans to protest.

One line from today’s sermon declared, “Participating in the elections and making sure that they are successful is a religious duty.” Tunisia will be the first Arab nation to hold an election after a wave of protest and revolution swept the region this year. The October 23rd vote will elect a Constituent Assembly that will appoint a new government and re-write the constitution.

The issue of religion in public society and in government has become a key dividing line between political parties, with moderate Islamist party Ennahda poised to win the most number of seats on Sunday, though probably not the majority. A Tunisia Live reporter witnessed hundreds of Tunisians gathered to pray at the El Fath Mosque, even praying in the streets. The Friday imam was careful to avoid explicitly endorsing one party or another and focused instead on unity. “I am not inciting you to vote for a particular political party,” said the imam. He closed the sermon with, “The greatest threats to Tunisia’s future are internal divisions. I ask God to protect us from this danger.”

The specific rhetoric of religious sermons in Tunisia has not been widely reported or discussed in domestic or international media, but it could be crucial for such venues to support the election for the vote to succeed.

Reporting by Hend Hassassi

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Iran: Senior Shia Cleric: Islamic Economy, Key to Winning Westerner’s Hearts

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) — Iranian senior Shia cleric has stressed the need for introducing “a healthy Islamic economy” charter. “Persuading westerners to convert to Muslims through changing their mindset is not an easy job but the end if achievable through providing a proper economic system, grand ayatollah Abdullah Javadi Amoli, said at a meeting in Qom, 120 Km southwest Tehran. “If seminaries lay out a chart for healthy economic system, we will be able to achieve the envisaged goals,” the ayatollah continued.

He pointed to the ongoing Occupy Wall Street demonstration which overwhelmed 800 cities in the United States and the collapse of socialism economy in the past and said “ An Islamic establishment should present new practical plans so that American anti-Capitalism protesters would accept admit it , once they win in their [economic] Awakening. “It is possible to lead the Middle East through ideological movements due to its Islamic record and traces of Islam in the region, but west can be handled only through a healthy economy,” Amoli said.

The Ayatollah pointed to the prescriptions ordered in the Holy Qur’an on economics and said “according to the holy book, capitals should not be amassed by a limited number of people, the system which is followed in the west.” He denounced “lucre capital” and said gaining money through profiting is the main cause behind bankruptcy of many giant banks in the west. He said lenders may temporarily enjoy a lucrative life are but bound to fail in the end.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud Dies

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — The heir to the Saudi throne, Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdel Aziz Al Saud, died abroad Saturday after an illness, state TV said. The death of the 85-year-old prince opens questions about the succession in the critical, oil-rich U.S. ally.

Sultan was the half-brother of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, who is two years older than him and has also been ailing and underwent back surgery last week.

The most likely candidate to replace Sultan as Abdullah’s successor is Prince Nayef, the powerful interior minister in charge of internal security forces. After Sultan fell ill, the king gave Nayef — also his half-brother — an implicit nod in 2009 by naming him second deputy prime minister, traditionally the post of the second in line to the throne.

The announcement did not say where outside the kingdom Sultan died or elaborate on his illness but Saudi official circles in Riyadh said he passed away at a hospital in New York. According to a leaked U.S. diplomatic cable from January 2010, Sultan had been receiving treatment for colon cancer since 2009.

Sultan, who was the kingdom’s deputy prime minister and the minister of defense and aviation, has had a string of health issues. He underwent surgery in New York in February 2009 for an undisclosed illness and spent nearly a year abroad recuperating in the United States and at a palace in Agadir, Morocco.

“It is with deep sorrow and grief that the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdel Azizi Al Saud mourns the loss of his brother and Crown Prince His Royal Highness Prince Sultan Abdel Aziz Al Saud,” the palace said. The statement, which was carried on the official Saudi Press Agency, added that Sultan’s funeral will be held on Tuesday afternoon in Riyadh at the Imam Turki bin Abdullah mosque.

For the first time, however, the mechanism of picking the next crown prince is not entirely clear.

It is possible the king will for the first time put the decision of his heir to the Allegiance Council, a body Abdullah created a decade ago as one of his reforms, made up of his brothers and nephews with a mandate to determine the succession.

That would open the choice up to a degree of debate with the top echelons of the royal family. Nayef, however, will still be the front-runner…

[Return to headlines]

Terrasanta Puts “The Other History” On Web

(ANSAmed) — ROME, OCTOBER 21 — Invaluable and little known details of Middle Eastern history have today made their way onto the web and can be accessed by all thanks to an initiative by the Terrasanta magazine which, to celebrate the 90th anniversary of its founding, has digitalised the first five years of its issues (1921-1925). Little by little, a true treasure trove of news, Palestinian chronicles, and archaeological finds will be brought to light out from dust-covered archives. “Requests from around the world are made to be able to consult the back issues of our magazine,” the current editor of the historical journal, Giuseppe Caffulli, said today in a Rome conference for its 90th “birthday”. Scrolling down the website ( with the first issues, it is easy to see how Terrasanta bears direct, evocative, moving and in some ways unexpected witness to the events marking the region. In 1921 Palestine was under the British mandate and one finds that “a new, experimental police corps is being organised”, and that “members will be recruited indiscriminately from among Muslims, Christians and Jews”. Ninety years ago in Jerusalem it therefore did not seem strange that Arabs and Jews would be working together to ensure security. Things later worked out differently. In the issues still on paper, which will in future be digitalised, other reports catch one’s eye. For example, in 1939 it is said that “Jerusalem Jews have organised a large-scale protest against the persecution of the members of their religion in Germany. They held a special session in the synagogue with the singing of the prophet Jeremiah’s lamentations.” Then come the wars and the more recent intifadas, in a special interweaving with religious events, everyday occurrences, and natural disasters, such as a grasshopper invasion in 1947 wiped out with the sticks and towels of young locals who then brought them to the dinner table “ as a delicacy”. The magazine also provides a picture of the important archaeological finds by the experts of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land: from the house of Peter in Cafarnao to the Mount Nebo mosaics, from the first Domus Ecclesiae in Syria to Saint Maron’s tomb in Lebanon and the 14 monasteries in Judas’s desert near Jerusalem. The names of Franciscan archaeologists, true “Indiana Jones” in monk’s attire, have gained worldwide renown: from Father Virgilio Corbo to father Michele Piccirillo, who passed away recently. It is to them that the first session of the Rome conference was dedicated, taken part in by Franciscan Custos of the Holy Land Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa and Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, previously the apostolic delegate in Jerusalem.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UAE: Jail Inmate in Dubai Converts to Islam

DUBAI (Ahlul Bayt News Agency) — An Asian detainee at Al Qusais police station declared his conversion to Islam. His conversion, he said, was the result of studying Islamic books available in the jail’s library, good treatment by the jail’s staff and a complete conviction in the Islamic faith. The new Muslim uttered the two regulatory testimonies before Ahmed Al Sayegh, the first guide of the Department of Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities in Dubai and other officials. He was presented as a gift meant for new Muslim converts, a set of books in English that expound the Islamic doctrine.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Former Soviet Countries United by a New Free Trade Agreement

With the blessing of Prime Minister Putin, nostalgic for the USSR, 8 out of 11 nations sign a free trade agreement which, however, excludes oil and gas. Moscow uses it to immediately accelerate its entry into the WTO.

Moscow (AsiaNews) — It could be the first step towards the Eurasian Union project: from the meeting of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), in St. Petersburg on October 17, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has brought home the free trade pact between the nations of the former Soviet zone, laying the groundwork for a possible new Soviet Union, not on an ideological basis, but a commercial and economic one. 8 out of 11 countries signed the agreement: Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Moldova and Tajikistan.

Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, the richest in terms of energy resources, are still considering joining.

“It is a fundamental document that will serve as the basis for long-term relationships,” a satisfied Putin announced, who in March could return to lead the Kremlin. The prime minister also stressed how the agreement will give “a new configuration to the economic and trade relations in the former Soviet bloc.” The agreement will enter into force from January and will replace the 1994 agreement that was never ratified between the CIS, the community created after the collapse of the USSR.

The free trade agreement comes at a time when Moscow is pressing strongly for entry into the World Trade Organisation, for which it has been waiting 18 years. Even though the Kremlin denies it, the pact between the CIS countries has been presented as a viable alternative to the WTO and used as an instrument of pressure to force a quick decision from international partners. The proof is the fact that, within hours of the signing the Treaty, President Dmitry Medvedev said with confidence that “Russia will survive even without the World Trade Organization.”

Ukraine may also use the free-trade pact to accelerate negotiations on sensitive fronts, who signed the treaty following fading hopes of establishing a free trade agreement with the European Union. Brussels, in fact, decided to postpone to a date to define the negotiating meeting scheduled for October 20, after the controversial condemnation of Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko. The Ukrainian prime minister, Mikola Azarov, however, has assured that the signing of the treaty with the CIS is not an alternative to European integration, but “part of a single strategy to open the Ukrainian economy to foreign markets.”

Another country could use the free-trade pact to accelerate negotiations on sensitive fronts. This is Ukraine, which followed the signing of the covenant is disappointed to have seen the fading hopes of establishing free trade agreement with the European Union. Brussels, in fact, decided to postpone to a date to define the negotiating meeting scheduled for October 20, after the controversial condemnation of Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko. The Ukrainian prime minister, Mikola Azarov, however, has assured that the initials of the treaty with the CIS is not an alternative to European integration, but “part of a single strategy to open the Ukrainian economy to foreign markets.”

Critics of the agreement sponsored by Putin stressed that it is just a political strategy with no real economic significance. In fact oil and gas are not part of the pact. “The importance of duties on oil and gas exports for Russia is perfectly clear,” noted Azarov, whose government is engaged in a tug of war with Moscow over gas prices.

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

South Asia

Indonesia: We’re Not Safe Living Anywhere: Ahmadis

The imam of the Al-Misbah Ahmadiyah mosque in Jatibening, Bekasi, recently called on members not to congregate for Friday prayers for safety reasons following an official ban on Ahmadiyah religious practices in Bekasi.Rahmat Rahmadijaya, the imam, said, “It’s up to them if they want to pray here anyway. I won’t send them home,” he said, adding that about 50 of the 200 registered followers were regulars at the mosque.

However, dozens of Ahmadiyah members still went to the mosque on Friday — a week after the Bekasi municipality officially banned the sect — and conducted Friday prayers under police guard. “[Intimidation] makes us stronger. Members are even more determined to go to the mosque,” Vera, a member, told The Jakarta Post. Congregation members later left the mosque peacefully after the weekly service concluded.

The Bekasi municipality ruled last week that the decree banning Ahmadiyah religious practices had been passed in order to meet the demands of local people. The Ahmadiyah are not considered a Muslim group by mainstream Muslims, as the sect’s teachings are considered to deviate from mainstream Islam. However, residents of Jatibening told the Post that there had never been any conflict between Ahmadiyah members, who mostly live outside the housing complex, and them.

Hartinah, who has lived in the neighborhood since before the mosque was built in the 1980s, said there had been no problems between Ahmadiyah followers and residents. “As a child, I, along with neighbors, often joined Koran recitations or breaking of the fast events at the mosque. They are friendly and have never forced us to follow their beliefs, so we have no problems with their presence,” she said. Hartinah said that people had started to leave the mosque following the spike in reports of violence against Ahmadiyah members throughout the country. “I’m not sure who is right, but the presence of vigilante group members around here scares me more,” Hartinah said.

Imam Rahmat said that after the Bekasi decree issuance, he had been intensively communicating with the police. “When there are rumors that certain groups will come, the police deploy officers to guard the mosque,” he said. Ahmadiyah members have not been holding regular events other than weekly Friday prayers and sermons. Firdaus Mubarik, public relations officer of the Ahmadiyah Indonesia Congregation, told the Post that the organization had stopped holding national events after thousands attacked the Ahmadiyah Indonesia Congregation in Parung, Bogor, in 2005. “We are no longer safe anywhere in Indonesia,” Firdaus said.

Concerning the appointment of Nasaruddin Umar as the religious affairs deputy minister tasked with “eliminating possible religious conflicts” during the recent Cabinet reshuffle, Mubarik said he was pessimistic that it would have any impact on the Ahmadis. “As far as I know, Nasaruddin was involved in the drafting of the 2008 joint ministerial decree banning Ahmadiyah religious practices. Besides, [the problem solving] is not in the hands of ministers, but of the President [Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono],” he said.

Firdaus pointed out that the incidence of violence against Ahmadis had increased and worsen during Yudhoyono’s leadership. “Before Yudhoyono came to power, the eviction of 300 Ahmadis living in Lombok [West Nusa Tenggara] in 2002 was the biggest tragedy for us. During Yudhoyono’s leadership, we’ve seen worse and even lost several members, who were killed during the incidents,” Firdaus said. (swd)

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


France: Arrivals From Tunisia Dry Up

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, OCTOBER 21 — The wave of Tunisian immigrants to France after the fall of former dictator Ben Ali has “ dried up”, according to the French Immigration and Integration Office (OFII) Arno Klarsfeld. The wave “has dried up. There have been about 800 voluntary repatriations to Tunisia, with OFII assitance of 300 euros,” said Klarsfeld to LCI, underscoring that at this point there is likely to be “about a thousand” Tunisians left in France.

Between February and June, France turned back over 3,600 Tunisians at its borders, either to their country of origin or Italy, a transit country after the landing on Lampedusa.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Does the West Hate Islam?

Since the horrendous attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, in which so many lives were lost so senselessly, Islam and the West have looked upon each other with suspicious eyes. Subsequent attacks on civilians in London, Madrid, Bali and elsewhere have caused further tension and misunderstanding between Islam and those who know nothing of its message.

In many countries, especially in the West, Muslims are now looked upon with fear and suspicion, as though they are not really a part of the communities in which they live. The Muslim veil, far from being the beautiful garment of modesty and piety as Muslims see it, is regarded as a symbol of some strange, foreign religion. Young Muslim men wearing a beard are seen as fanatics or extremists, and are stopped and searched on the street as possible terrorists. Even politicians now speak about Islam and Muslims as though they are a hidden enemy within the country, who have to be watched very carefully.

On the other hand, what many Muslims see in the news is also very disturbing. The tragedy that has been played out before all of our eyes in Iraq and Afghanistan, ever since the United States and its allies invaded those countries, and the daily oppression of ordinary men, women, and children in Palestine, leave many Muslims wondering what it is that so many people have against Islam. Since the so-called War on Terror was linked very clearly to Islam and Muslims, they ask if the world really does hate Islam.

It is a simple fact that most people in the West who are not Muslim do not have much experience of Islam. How could they? The only information they get about Islam and Muslims is what they see on the television news, or in the newspaper. Newspapers, though, don’t run headlines about people trying to be good. The television news carries stories about explosions and wars and violence.

A Muslim grandmother praying five times a day and teaching her grandchildren to recite the Qur’an does not make the news. A group of Muslim youths who pray together in the mosque and then play football together in the street is not what headlines are made of, is it? Islam is simply beyond the experience of most people who are not Muslim. If you live in a Muslim country, you will hear the Call to Prayer and you will see people praying in the street and reciting the Qur’an on the bus. It is as natural as breathing. If you live in a country that isn’t Muslim, you will not only not see these things, but they would seem very strange to you if you did. In a Muslim country, you grow up hearing the name of Allah all the time. In a Muslim home, you grow up in the same way. In a non-Muslim environment, though, this just isn’t the case.

Politicians, though, are very clever. If there is a problem in a country, it is far easier to find a reason for the problem and point a finger at who is to blame than to admit that you don’t know how to solve it. Unfortunately, this is what has happened recently with Islam and Muslims. To fight a “War on Terror” you need to have an enemy. You can’t fight a war against no one. Even though it has been proved beyond a doubt that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that people knew this, the country was still attacked, with tragic consequences. If bombs go off in the London Underground or in beach resorts, killing innocent people, people want the culprits to be caught. They want someone to blame and they want someone to be punished.

We find that throughout a country’s history, different groups are blamed for that country’s problems. When IRA violence was at its height in Northern Ireland, Irish Catholics were looked upon with suspicion in the UK, as sympathisers towards the bombers. When unemployment gets high in a country, as it is beginning to do so throughout the world, people look to immigrants from abroad to blame for the lack of jobs.

It is natural, then, for people to be easily led and to be fed targets whom they can blame. It is wrong but natural. If a finger can be pointed at someone else, then people feel they know where the danger lies. Not knowing who the terrorists are is very frightening indeed. Another very sinister fact is that there are some groups in the world who do not want Islam to prosper, and they do everything they can to feed the media with misinformation to make Islam and Muslims seem bad. We need only to listen to the professional liars put on our television screens by the State of Israel to know this to be true.

As for ordinary people, though, they don’t hate Islam. They just don’t know anything about it. How many Muslims know much about Buddhists, for example? How many know anything at all about people living in the Pacific Islands? Almost none, we might say, because it is outside their experience. The challenge for all Muslims, then, is to let people know about Islam.

Just after the 9/11 attacks, one of the popular newspapers in the UK carried a large headline which said “ISLAM IS NOT THE RELIGION OF EVIL.” Now, up until that time no one had suggested that it was, but running such a headline put the idea into people’s minds. What Muslims have to do is to change people’s ideas. This starts first of all with friends in school and college and at work. It’s possible to let people see that we pray and take our religion very seriously, and still laugh and joke and be seen as quite normal.

In all things, Muslims say “Alhamdulillah”. If people misunderstand them at the present time, then this is just an opportunity for them to talk about Islam. By showing the people around us that Islam is not violent or extreme, but that it is very beautiful and very sweet, we can change people’s minds and win their hearts for Allah. No, people don’t hate Islam, they just have never met any good Muslims. Maybe we can be the first ones they meet!

The author of eight books about Islam, British Muslim writer, Idris Tawfiq, divides his time between Egypt and the UK as a speaker, writer and broadcaster. You can visit his website at

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Malcolm Smith said...

With regard to the Safoorah Khan case (DOJ Finds a Cause), didn't anybody point out that a Muslim is required to make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime, not every year? She could easily have put it off until a year came around when it was not so inconvenient to her employer.